Friday, July 09, 2010

Interesting idea

Catherine Cheney (Politico) reports that Senator Mary Landrieu believes a federal agency needs to be created to deal with the Gulf Disaster.

Big government doesn't frighten me. I know it does some people and she might lose them from the start.

But it doesn't scare me. I'm also aware that Barack has repeatedly demonstrated that he cannot act. He will not act.

A new agency might allow someone to finally take charge -- as opposed to someone just claiming they were in charge.

But, in the end, I'm against the idea.


Federal government.

It would be supervised by the White House which has already demonstrated it lacks leadership and skills.

If Congress could make the agency report directly to them, I'd be all for it.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):

Friday, July 9, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, NPR dishes on Bradley Manning while trashing journalism, the Constitution and just about everything else, tensions rise between Turkey and the KRG, and more.
Today on the second hour of The Diane Rehm Show (NPR), we learned that truth doesn't matter and that the American justice doesn't matter.
Doubt it? Enjoy this thrilling -- if fact-free -- exchange:
Diane Rehm: And, Nancy, we have an US soldier charged with leaking Iraq War video. Tell us about that.
Nancy A. Youssef: It's a really an interesting case. It's a 22-year-old uhm soldier named Bradley Manning who was a hacker -- a proclaimed hacker -- who claimed to have thousands and thousands of documents that he obtained. And he -- one of the things that he is charged with is getting his hands on was a video of airstrike that happend in Baghdad in 2007 In Baghagdad it killed a Reuters journalist and his Iraqi aid. And it really caused a firestorm among journalists and the Pentagon writ large about how they needed to handle these situations, at what point do you make the decision on whether to fire on someone? When you look at the video, it's clear to the naked eye that it's a camera man but in the fog of war at the height of violence it wasn't so clear. And what I found interesting was some of the comments that he made --
And we'll stop Nancy's lying right there. It's lying. It's not an error. Not when so much is at stake and when Nancy's so damn sure of what she knows when, point of fact, SHE DOESN'T KNOW A DAMN THING.
Nancy, someone could be sent away for 50 years. You damn well need to know what you're talking about. And you didn't. No, you didn't. You acted and sounded like a fool in public.
In the United States, people are guilty until proven innocent. That's an important bedrock to democracy and I'm really surprised that no one ever taught Nancy that. That's (A). (B), Bradley Manning hasn't self-claimed A DAMN THING.
He has not issued one statement. He has not spoken to the press. Nancy, you were an idiot. And this has consequences. You need to learn to do your job. And speaking of which, both men -- Saeed Chmagh and Namir Noor-Eldeen -- were journalists. You damn well couldn't have done your 2006 Haditha reporting without Iraqis because you weren't free to travel. So how dare you downgrade the journalists? Haditha's only one example where were it not for people like Namir and Saeed, you wouldn't have had a story to file because you were not able to be where the action was happening. Both men are dead, both worked for Reuters, both died trying to get the story. They are journalists. Do not besmirch the memories of those two or of journalism itself.
And, Diane, as host, it was incumbent upon you to note that Nancy was dealing in gossip and not in fact. That was your job. That's why you are the host. Not only did you not do that, you joined in saying Bradley had 'said' when he's NOT SAID A DAMN THING. Unverified transcripts of alleged online chats are suspect. I'm so sick of this garbage. I'm so sick of alleged journalists who don't know the first damn thing about what they yack about. You do too much damage. We need Jon Stewart to go on The Diane Rehm Show's roundtable and say, "For the love of God, for the sake democracy, please, I beg you, stop." There's no excuse for that garbage.
Bradley Manning is a US soldier and that's about all anyone got right. He is not a "proclaimed" anything. He has not spoken to the press, he has not issued his statements via his lawyer. He has not said anything. Diane and Nancy's idiotic claims were not only insulting, they were offensive to the system of democracy we have in the United States. There is no excuse for it and the show needs to issue an apology. They won't. They never will. That's a given. But that's what they should do.
Adrian Lamo is a hacker. He's a hacker and he's a convicted felon. He has stated a number of things to the press. These are not confirmed by anyone in government. He has released alleged transcripts to his personal court stenographer at Wired. He has made charges. He has spread rumors. We can deal with how vile those rumors were when Bradley Manning does speak. But for now we've been smart enough not to traffic in gossip from a convicted felon. It's a shame others can't say the same. (Leila Fadel is one who can make that claim. She's stuck to the verifiable facts when reporting on this story.)
Besides serving up gossip as fact, the program offered nothing. For instance, it was Robert Kreuger this week (DC Political Buzz Examiner) who put Manning's arrest in with the wider context of US President Barack Obama's attack on whistleblowers and alleged whistelblowers and the First Amendment: "There is no doubt that Obama apologists and war hawks will spin this for Obama, claiming that the president must do what he can in the name of national security. However, if those who report undisputable proof of war crimes go to prison while those who commit them go unscathed, then both Washington and government are not really much different from those inhumane regimes that we love to hate." We can't get that on The Diane Rehm Show -- we can waste time with the near yearly To Kill A Mockingbird is a year older broadcasts, but we can explore the real events that are happening right now, in real time, that are shaping our lives and our futures.
Monday April 5th, WikiLeaks released US military video of a July 12, 2007 assault in Iraq. 12 people were killed in the assault including two Reuters journalists Namie Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh. Monday June 7th, the US military announced that they had arrested Bradley Manning and he stood accused of being the leaker of the video. Philip Shenon (Daily Beast) reported last month that the US government is attempting to track down WikiLeaks' Julian Assange. Those are knowns, those are facts. Leila Fadel (Washington Post) reported Tuesday that Manning had been charged -- "two charges under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The first encompasses four counts of violating Army regulations by transferring classified information to his personal computer between November and May and adding unauthorized software to a classified computer system. The second comprises eight counts of violating federal laws governing the handling of classified information." On Assange, Jerome Taylor (Independent of London) reports today that he was to make his "first public appearance" since learning the US government was trying to track him down (he was set to speak at City University in London).
Meanwhile Jomana Karadsheh (CNN) reports, "At least five Iraqis were killed and at least 18 others were wounded in a suicide bombing at an Iraqi army checkpoint in western Baghdad Friday morning, the Interior Ministry said." Andrew England (Financial Times of London) adds, "The government has blamed the attacks on extremists determined to stir sectarian tensions. Iraq has been plagued by political uncertainty since the inconclusive general election on March 7." The government. And, of course, AP: "The attacks on pilgrims and security forces of the past days bear the hallmark of Sunni insurgents in Iraq." AP repeats it and they do it unsourced. Nowhere in the article does this claim get sourced back to the Iraqi government. Link TV reports of the week's attacks on pilgrims, "More than 68 people were killed and nearly 150 others were wounded in a series of attacks on Shiite pilgrims marking the death of Imam Musa Kadhim in Baghdad. The attacks come despite the strict security measures taken by the Iraqi authorities. The security forces rushed to the scene of the blast and imposed a curfew in and around the area. The attack took place near the Aema Bridge where nearly 1,000 Shiite pilgrims were killed in 2005 in a stampede that was sparked by a rumor of a bomb in the area. Abed-Latif Omar reports." James Denselow (Guardian) explores the continued violence and quotes Lubna Naji ("Iraqi trainee nurse") stating, "Our methods of adapting to it have changed over time due to what I call 'emotional numbness' … Before, I used to cry bitterly and get really angry and frustrated, but now after seven years I just pretend that it never happened, maybe because we're actually too tired and sick of it all – you know, of all the continuing mess and madness, or maybe because if you react as a normal human being every time it happens you'll lose your will to go on with your day-to-day life, so you just pretend that it never happened. Is that normal? No of course it's not, but we have no other choice."
Saturday, Sunday and Monday, US Vice President Joe Biden was in Iraq (see Tuesday's snapshot). There was an offensive statement: "I think Americans will recognize that there aren't body counts . . . that they got 95,000 people home." At least 4412 Americans are not coming back and those who do make it back may suffer wounds of a multitude of degrees. And this was done -- and many Americans recognize this -- for a war based on lies. So I think Americans will recognize that. Joe was also selling 'success' -- another wave of Operation Happy Talk and we've grown as accustomed to it from the current administration as we were encountering it from the previous one. Iraqis didn't bite even though many in the US press were (yet again) eager to swallow. An Iraqi correspondent for McClatchy Newspapers shares various reactions to Biden's visit at Inside Iraq.
(Ms) Enas Rami, architect, mother of three, grandmother of two, "It is dis-gusting. All these people who call themselves (Iraqi) politicians -- Do they really need a visit from Biden in order to reach an agreement? What is his role? Did he advise them?? Threaten them?? -- Or did he need to whip them into order?? Let them (the Americans) deal, now, with the monster they have created".
[. . .]

(Ms) Sanaa Saeed, government employee, mother of (now) three, "Who?? Oh, yes. I don't know why he came. And I don't care. They said that we will be able to choose rulers who will take care of us -- and instead, the rulers are taking care only of themselves, as usual. So why should I care? What has changed in my life? I will tell you what has changed: I now live in an ugly city filled with fear. I have less electricity -- less water -- less brothers and cousins and one less son. This is what this man (Biden) and his country have brought me".
Those are two of the six voices -- we highlighted Iraqi women because (a) if women don't highlight women, they usually don't get highlighted and (b) Iraqi women have too often been stripped from the official story of the illegal war. The voices are in stark contrast to remarks Joe made throughout his visit. He told Mike Allen (Politico), "The government that is the interim government now -- a little like our interregnum period between November and January -- is actually functioning in terms of security. I am hopeful -- I am confident -- that in the relatively near term, they're going to be able to work out an agreement on ... the new government."
Not only has this week's violence rejected that wave of Operation Happy Talk but "interim government"? There's no interim government. Ayad Allawi asked that one be set up. None was. What Iraq's done is continue the government in place before the elections. But before we get to elections, let's review the day's violence.
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports on the Baghdad bombing already noted with 5 dead and she explains it was 3 soldiers and 2 civilians (eighteen people left wounded), she also reports a Baghdad attack on an Iraqi military patrol in which one service member was wounded and, dropping back to Thursday for the next two, a Baghdad assault in which three people were wounded by gunshots from unknown assailants and a Tikrit sticky bombing which wounded three people.
And now for the elections. 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. It's four months and two days and, in 2005, Iraq took four months and seven days to pick a prime minister. If Iraq's the 'success' so many want the world to believe, then surely it will take less time this go round, right?
Today AFP reports that Allawi stated, "We hope to form the government in August. The negotiations between the political groups entered their last phase and we wish to close this filel as soon as possible." Noting that the political stalemate "is no fault of Iraqi citizens," the Financial Times of London calls on the political leaders to work together, states Iraqiya can't be tossed aside and that the country "needs urgently the government of national unity and common purpose its people deserve." Huda Al Husseini (Asharq Alawsat Newspapers) interviews the KRG President Massoud Barzani:
Q) You were among the most prominent figures that contributed to the emergence of the new Iraq. How do you view the new Iraq today?
A) The new Iraq means that the Iraqi people should decide their future in the ballot boxes. Power should be rotated and should have democratic, federal, and pluralistic components.
Q) Are the factors for achieving this vision available or are they lacking?
A) The first step was drafting the constitution that recognized this identity and the new Iraq. The rest is the implementation of the constitution.
Q) What about the formation of the government and the current differences among the Iraqi lists? Do you consider this to be an obstacle to building the future of Iraq? What is the way to emerge from this impasse?
A) Unfortunately, I feel embarrassed when I am asked this question. Four months have passed since the elections were held but the government has not been formed. So if we do not resolve this problem, the situation will be embarrassing for Iraq and the Iraqi people. We hope that the Iraqi government would be formed as soon as possible and we will exert major efforts to emerge from this crisis.
Let's stay with the Kurdistan region where the PKK has camps in the mountains. Iraq's northern neighbor Turkey considers the PKK a terrorist group. The PKK has fought for independence and a Kurdish homeland for some time. Turkey has been bombing northern Iraq for some time. And it's been steady bombing for some time now. Last month, the Turkish government took it a step further by twice sending Turkish ground forces into Iraq. The conflict is one of those issues that the US government used to say wasn't a problem and they'd help with. Help has translated into the US military providing intelligence on the PKK and its locations to the Turkish government who then send airplanes to bomb northern Iraq.
It's not a new problem and it's one of those which should have been anticipated before the Iraq War ever started. The PKK are involved in a historical struggle for independence. Turkey wants to hold onto its land and worries about the national character and unity. What passed for 'peace talks' are long over. From the June 3rd snapshot, "Shamal Arqawi (Reuters) reports that the cease fire the PKK had with Turkey is now off according to 'PKK spokesman Ahmed Danees [. . .] in Kurdistan.' Not unexpected? Over the weekend PKK leader (one of them) Abdullah Ocalan, in prison in Turkey since 1999, stated he was no longer engaging in any dialoge with the government of Turkey. That announcement laid the groundwork for the PKK in the KRG's announcement today." And while the attacks on pilgrims has garnered most of the press attention this week, it's far from the only area of attention in Iraq. Today's Zaman reports, "Turkey's foreign minister said on Friday that Turkey would take any necessary measures to eliminate threat of terrorism stemming from north of Iraq." Any necessary measures. The rhetoric gets even more heated. Yesterday the Southeast Europe Times reported the the Turkish Minister of the Interior, Besir Atalay, declared that, "The time for words is over. It is time for action now." Amir Taheri (Asharq Alawsat Newspaper) recounts, "Over the past three weeks Turkish air force has carried out a series of bombing raids against alleged Kurdish rebel positions while gunfights have continued between he ground forces f the two sides. According to news agencies at least 100 fighters, including 30 Turkish soldiers, have been killed, many more than the casualties reported from the Afghan war for the same period."
In the US, Ed O'Keefe (Washington Post) report, "President Obama's pick to lead military operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and the Middle East is an experienced ground combat commander, but also earned a stern rebuke in 2005 for controversial comments about combat operations." Mike Mount (CNN) adds of Gen James Mattis, "His blunt talk has gotten him in trouble: In 2005 he said, 'It's a hell of a lot of fun to shoot them,' referring to people in Afghanistan."
Ed O'Keefe (Washington Post)reports on the VA's change for PTSD claims. The change will replace paperwork with medical screenings to determine PTSD. O'Keefe notes that, under the system being replaced, women had a difficult time having their PTSD recognized. From the article:
Women often face more skepticism about PTSD claims during visits to male-dominated VA medical centers, said retired Army Sgt. Carolyn Schapper.
"If you happen to go once and the first person you speak to questions the authenticity of your story, you're less likely to go back," she said. "That's true for men and women, but women are more likely to be questioned than men."
April 23, 2009, US House Rep John Hall chaired the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs hearing. John Wilson (Disabled American Veterans) explained the struggle women in the military have as a result of the notion that they aren't 'in combat.' From his opening statement:
The female soldiers who accompany male troops on patrols to conduct house-to-house searches are known as Team Lioness, and have proved to be invaluable. Their presence not only helps calm women and children, but Team Lioness troops are also able to conduct searches of the women, without violating cultural strictures. Against official policy, and at that time without the training given to their male counterparts, and with a firm commitment to serve as needed, these dedicated young women have been drawn onto the frontlines in some of the most violent counterinsurgency battles in Iraq.
Independent Lens, an Emmy award-winning independent film series on PBS, documented their work in a film titled Lioness which profiled five women who saw action in Iraq's Sunni Triangle during 2003 and 2004. As members of the US Army's 1st Engineer Battalion, Shannon Morgan, Rebecca Nava, Kate Pendry Guttormsen, Anastasia Breslow and Ranie Ruthig were sent to Iraq to provide supplies and logistical support to their male colleagues. Not trained for combat duty, the women unexpectedly became involved with fighting in the streets of Ramadi. These women were part of a unit, made up of approsimately 20 women, who went out on combat missions in Iraq. Female soldiers in the Army and Marines continue to perform Lioness work in Iraq and Afghanistan.
I would like to highlight the issues faced by Rebecca Nava as she seeks recognition of her combat experience and subsequent benefits for resulting disabilities. Then US Army Specialist Nava was the Supply Clerk for the 1st Engineering Battalion in Iraq. In conversations with her and as seen in the film Lioness, she recounts several incidents. Two of those incidents are noted in my testimony today.
The first is the roll-over accident of a 5-ton truck that was part of a convoy to Baghdad. In this accident, the driver was attempting to catcuh up with the rest of the convoy but in doing so lost control of the vehicle. The five ton truck swerved off the road and rolled over, killing a Sergeant who was sitting next to her, and severely injuring several others. Specialist Nava was caught in the wreckage. She had to pulled through the fractured windshield of the vehicle. While not severly injured in the accident, she did suffer a permanent spinal injury.
Another incident occurred wherein she was temporarily attached to a Marine unit and her job for this mission was to provide Lioness support for any Iraqi women and children the unit contacted. It was a routine mission patrolling the streets of Ramadi. Before she knew it, the situation erupted into chaos as they came under enemy fire. She had no choice but to fight alongside her male counterparts to suppress the enemy. No one cared that she was a female -- nor did they care that she had a Supply MOS -- their lives were all on the line -- she opened fire. The enemy was taken out. During this fire fight she also made use of her combat lifesaver skills and provided medical aid to several injured personnel.
This and other missions resonate with her to this day. When she filed a claim with the VA, she was confronted with disbelief about her combat role in Iraq as part of Team Lioness. Specialist Nava filed a claim for service connection for hearing loss and tinnitus but was told that she did not qualify because of her logistics career field. Since she does not have a Combat Action Badge, she cannot easily prove that the combat missions occurred which impacted her hearing.
When you can't prove the service connection -- under the system set to be phased out on Monday -- you've got a disability or condition that the VA isn't going to rate you for. In the hearing last year, US House Rep Ann Kirkpatrick discussed the struggle veterans were forced into as they attempted to prove service connection:
Ann Kirkpatrick: I just spent two weeks in my district meeting with veterans and there's so much anger about how they're being treated by the administration and specifically with regard to PTSD. I've met with veterans who said that -- how difficult it was to show the service connection. One veteran in particular was a Vietnam veteran and he told me how painful it was to try to track down his patrol finding out that so many of them had died since their days in the service. I finally was able to locate someone across the country who was able to validate the service connection. The other problem is also the lack of trained mental health care professionals specific to PTSD in some of these communities. And again they said, 'Please take back to your community our request that we have trained mental health counselors in PTSD in the Veterans Administration' and how specific that is to their treatment in those who qualify. My concern, and my question is for you Mr. Wilson, for a veteran who has PTSD or thinks they have it and can't show the service connection, where do they go for treatment? What services are there for them?
John Wilson: It's a good question. While I was in the field, I also had veterans come through with the same issues -- Vietnam in particular, some WWII -- their entire team wiped out. So who did they go to for support for their particular claim? No letters -- as we were talking about here -- and the distinguished gentleman was providing letters still postmarked from someone overseas at the time, excellent evidence typically. Why that claim was denied, I am not sure. It would, I think normally, I hope, it would be granted. It's difficult circumstances as I say and I have encouraged those people to go back and meet with their reunion websites for people who may be part of that unit, who may be able to provide, perhaps, some other story of 'Yes, I saw Johnny there on that -- on that truck going to that combat zone all geared up.' Those kind of things may all be of benefit. But it is nonetheless very difficult and the fog of war? How is it that you're going to appoint a stenographer or a court reporter, a videographer to accompany each person on that combat? You cannot. It's very difficult circumstance. I would contend that the VA does have the means before it in order to grant those benefits by looking at the lay evidence that a veteran submits and looking at the times, places and circumstances of that particular event, they should in fact be able to grant the service connection. But it nonetheless is a problematic condition.
Ann Kirkpatrick: And for those people who can't -- can't show the connection, are there other places they can go for help?
John Wilson: Ma'am, I wish I could find those. None that I'm aware of.
Ann Kirkpatrick: Mr. Chairman, let me just make one other comment. I asked the veterans I was meeting with if they were concerned about people applying for PTSD treatment who may not really qualify and they said "No." No. The risk really is that those who need treatment are not going to seek it out because of the current system and they emphasized over and over again that they were promised medical treatment for life when they enlisted and that that promise has been broken.
Service Women's Action Network's Anuradha K. Bhagwati notes:

Part of this ignorance results from male bias, but the rest is due to the Combat Exclusion Rule that precludes women from direct ground combat — even though commanders are knowingly violating this policy overseas. It's a policy that needs to be revised immediately, in part because it's too easy for a claims officer from Veterans Affairs to assume a woman is presenting a fraudulent claim for a combat-related wound or injury.

Bhagwait has regularly appeared before Congress to address the discrimination in veterans care. July 16th, she testified at a hearing chaired by US House Rep John Hall and we'll note this exchange:
Chair John Hall: Thank you. And Ms. Bhagwati, is the lack of legal representation more determental to women when their claims are the result of a crime?
Anuradha Bhagwati: I'm sorry, sir, the lack of legal work?
Chair John Hall: Legal represenation.
Anuradha Bhagwati: Absolutely, sir. I'm finding that, without the assistance of an attorney, many of those legal claims would be left behind. It takes a lot of courage, stamina, finacial assistance for a veteran -- either male or female -- to pursue an appeal or reconsideration of a claim. A lot of pride and a lot of issues wrapped around a veteran's identity go into the claim process and when a claim is rejected by the VA -- even when the claim is deemed to be sort of sufficient to get an awarding of compensation -- when that denial happens, it can be life shattering. And many veterans, both male and female, just fall off the map.
Chair John Hall: I understand more all the time as we have these hearings about the issues surrounding reproting problems with MST, but what about domestic violence that takes place while the wife is on active duty? How are those instances of PTSD or other disabilities resulting from those injuries adjucated by the VA?
Anuradha Bhagwati: Sir, that remains to be seen. I think a lot of data as both the congressman and Ms. Halfaker pointed out has not been collected on domestic violence in particular. Right now, I can tell you anecdotally, we're working on a case in the marine corps with a -- an NCO who's going through through a commissioning program whose partner spent five days in jail for attempting to kill her and that partner who spent five days in jail is now at Officer Candidate School. So that shock factor -- it's almost unbelieveable that that can happen but there are ways around the system. And DoD needs to explore that.
Kat also covered that hearing and noted, "Anuradha Bhagwati explained that some of these facilities require two months of intensive therapy and while that's astounding therapy that's being provided, it's also true that some working women can't take two months off and it's also true that some female veterans have children and are the only one who can take care of them. They can't afford to leave their kids for two months and head off for treatment." To The Point (airs on many NPR stations) Monday will explore the changes in the VA.
TV notes. On PBS' Washington Week, John Dickerson (CBS, Slate), John Harwood (New York Times, CNBC), Christi Parsons (Tribune Washington Bureau), Pierre Thomas (ABC News) join Gwen around the table. Gwen now has a weekly column at Washington Week and the current one is "Taking the candor challenge." This week, Bonnie Erbe will sit down with Eleanor Holmes Norton, Tara Setmayer, Amy Siskind and Genevieve Wood on the latest broadcast of PBS' To The Contrary to discuss the week's events. And at the website each week, there's an extra just for the web from the previous week's show and this week's online bonus is a discussion of whether someone convicted of domestic violence should be allowed to own a gun. Need To Know is PBS' new program covering current events. This week's hour long broadcast (Fridays on most PBS stations -- but check local listings) features a report on veterans' courts. And turning to broadcast TV, Sunday CBS' 60 Minutes offers:

The Lost Children of Haiti
Scott Pelley reports on the most vulnerable victims of Haiti's earthquake, children who not only face hunger, disease and sexual assault, but a form of slavery that is legal in the Caribbean country. | Watch Video

Kathryn Bigelow
Lesley Stahl talks to Kathryn Bigelow about her award-winning film, "The Hurt Locker," for which she won the Academy Award for Best Director - the first woman ever to win in that category. | Watch Video

White Hot
U.S. snowboarder Shaun White shows Bob Simon some of the tricks he used to win gold in Vancouver. | Watch Video

60 Minutes, Sunday, July 11, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Sexism & Dave Lindorff

I can't stop laughing at the little boys. Whether's the dope who smoke the hope named Vijay or the one named Lindorff, they sure are funny.

Let's stick with the latter.

Who's president of the United States?

Barack Obama.

So why is Dave Lindorff spewing vile hatred at Hillary?

That's what he did in 2008, remember?

When he was advocating for Barack.

Of course, stupid Lindorff knew better than to tell the public why he was supporting Barack. It was because he was a Black man who did drugs. I kid you not.

I can produce the e-mail. It's been fastforwarded around dozens and dozens of time.

He became the laugh of the planet.

(Barack is bi-racial. But something about cheering Barry on and trying to prove they're not racists the way their grandparents and/or parents were had the Klan really coming out in certain segments of what was once termed the "New Left.")

So, David, Barack's president.

Think you can stop attacking Hillary yet?

Or how about attacking Barack with the same anger and venum you aim at Hillary? At least the same?

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Wednesday, July 7, 2010. Chaos and violence continues, on the fourth month anniversary of the Parliamentary elections the political stalemate continues, 49 pilgrims are killed in violence (178 wounded), 3 US service members died in Iraq last Friday (not just two as announced), the Iraq Inquiry hears from a witness who states former prime minister Tony Blair practiced revisionary history in his testimony ("I also felt, at the time of Mr Blair's testimony to you, that he was seeking to cast a retrospectively benign light on a series of very bad decisions taken about the legality of the attack on Iraq"), a former member of the US Congress enters a guilty plea in a federal court, and more.

Today is the 7th of July which makes today exactly four months since elections took place. 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.

Four months later and no prime minister. Four months later and Parliament's only met once -- and then they met for less than 20 minutes. Is that normal? For 'modern' and 'democratic' Iraq, is that normal. We have 2005 as a model so let's walk through. December 15, 2005 was Iraq's previous Parliamentary election. April 22, Nouri al-Maliki became prime minister designate. Four months and seven days later.

And let's remember things were a lot worse in Iraq then. (Violence has never gone away and today demonstrated that yet again.) For example, from the
April 26, 2006 snapshot, "The Associated Press notes that '[m]ore than 100 Iraqi civilians or police have been killed . . . since [Jawad] al-Maliki was tapped as Iraq's prime minister designate on Saturday . . .'" From Saturday to the following Wednesday. But a prime minister designate could be named. Not only that, grasp that Nouri wasn't first pick. The first pick was Ibrahim al-Jaafair. But the US nixed that.

Today, it's four months since the election and the political stalemate continues.
Lourdes Garcia-Navarro (NPR) reports, "It has been four months since the parliamentary elections, and the parties are still bickering over who gets to form a government. Electricity is terrible, the phone networks don't work, and most basic services like water and sewage are patchy at best. Iraq is constantly indexed as one of the most corrupt countries in the world. Hundreds of thousands of people remain displaced. And there is still violence, every single day. About 4,400 American service members have given their lives in Iraq. Tens of thousands of Iraqis have died. Both Iraqis and Americans are still being killed, though in vastly reduced numbers." And the response to that from the US military? Snippy e-mails from US Maj Gen Stephen Lanza insisting that the correspondents are providing negative coverage. Is anyone wondering why the US didn't just change the Constitution and let Bush do is own third term if that's all Barack Obama was going to provide?

Is there a reason that USF (formerly MNF) can't get its act together. It doesn't have a lot of tasks. They don't do patrols, they just issue press releases. That apparently is too much work for them or else they're deliberately trying to distort the body count. From
Friday's snapshot: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 4411. "S**t poor" was actually too mild. The above press release -- the only one issued Friday by USF and none have been issued since on any military deaths -- tells us two US soldiers died in Iraq Friday. Simple enough?Yeah, except there were three. From Monday's entry: "Friday the US military announced two more deaths. The News & Observer notes that one of those deaths was Maryland's 19-year-old Spc Morganne McBeth who joined the military in 2008 and was deployed to Iraq August 17th." That's one of the two deaths announced. Yesterday's entry included: "Friday, 2 US service members died in Iraq. One was Maryland's 19-year-old Spc Morganne McBeth, the other was Sgt Johnny W. Lumpkin who 'died July 2 in Balad, Iraq from injuries he sustained in an incident the day before in Taji, Iraq.' Meredith Armstrong (WRBL, link has text and video) notes that the Columbus soldier is survived by parents Jan and Wayne Lumpkin, a wife (July 4th would have been the couple's ninth wedding anniversary) and three children."Follow that?Two deaths announced on Friday, two fallen identified. Except it's three. The Shreveport Times reports that Sgt Jordan E. Tuttle also died Friday ("in Baghdad of injuries suffered in a non-combat related incident"). Is there a reason that the military can't get it right? Is there a reason that a division charged with nothing more than issuing press release can't do their damn job? Or is that they're being told not to?You might think with deaths down compared to previous years, their jobs would be eaiser. But they seem to have a real problem these days doing the jobs that the US tax payers foot the bill for.Spc Morganne McBeth, Sgt Johnny W. Lumpkin and Sgt Jordan E. Tuttle died on Friday in Iraq. It shouldn't be that difficult in this day and age for the US military to announce that there were 3 deaths. All USF does is announce deaths (and issue happy spin). The Defense Dept is the one who identifies the fallen. All they have to do is issue an announcement of a death. Why is so hard for them? This has been repeated issue for USF all year long. You might think at some point Congress would ask one of the many generals parading before it what the deal is.4412 is the current number of US service members killed in the Iraq War -- at least that's the current number as far as we know.

Staying with violence, yesterday at least 6 pilgrims were reported dead and 37 wounded.
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) explained the pilgrimage is "to commemorate the martyrdom of Iman Musa al Kathim on July 8." It continued today -- both the pilgrimage and the violence. Scott Peterson (Christian Science Monitor) notes 28 dead today from a suicide bomber and sixty-three more injured. Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) supplies the details explaining a bomber took his/her own life in Adhamiyah and 38 pilgrims (eight-one injured) and that a Baghdad sticky bombing claimed the life of police Maj Abdulrahman Sabeeh, a Baghdad roadside bombing wounded three Iraqi soldiers, a Baghdad suicide bomber took his/her own life and that of 1 police officer (two civilians injured and two soldiers injured), two Baghdad roadside bombings claimed the lives of 5 pilgrims (thirty-five more wounded) and another Baghdad roadside bombing wounded six pilgrims, another Baghdad roadside bombing claimed 6 lives and left forty-five wounded, and two other Baghdad roadside bombings injured eleven. Timothy Williams and Omar al-Jawoshy (New York Times) report, "Shiite pilgrims are frequent targets of Sunni insurgent groups, and this year Iraqi security forces ordered several major roads and bridges closed and banned bicycles and motorcycles in the capital to try to safeguard the marchers. Some 200,000 security force members had been assigned to patrol streets, check cars and search pilgrims at they walked along streets to the shrine." Note that the pilgrimage has not ended, it continues tomorrow. Mu Xuequan (Xinhua) explains, "About 1 million pilgrims from many parts of Baghdad and other provinces are expected to gather near the Imam Mussa al-Kadhim shrine in Baghdad's northern district of Kadhmiyah for the annual commemoration of the death of the seventh of the most sacred 12 Shiite Imams." BBC News offers a photo essay on the pilgrimage. And what do the pilgrims talk about? Scott Peterson (Christian Science Monitor) reports:

But conversation along the pilgrims' path has centered on how bickering between Iraq's politicians since the March 7 election
has damaged expectations, and raised fears of greater insecurity.
"It's the daily talk of the people: politicians and forming a government. Every day," says Mr. Jassim, sitting on the floor of the tent, as volunteers offered him cold packets of juice, bottles of water, and a plastic dish of rice with orange-brown sauce.

Ned Parker and Nadeem Hamid (Los Angeles Times) add an attack on a Falluja police checkpoint left 2 police officers dead.

The war the world never wanted (as evidenced by the massive protests before the start of the illegal war), the illegal war that was sold on lies, continues. And so do the lies. Press flacks with bars on their shoulders hassle the press, an Oval Office Occupant rushes to assure the people that things are better than before and the corner has been turned. All the Dems once in congress who scorned and sneered at "success" in Iraq now, from the White House, promote the laughable claim that there is "success" in Iraq.

If the people were confused by all the smoke and mirrors, it would not be at all surprising. However, yesterday
Rasmussen Reports released results from a poll (plus/minus 3%) where Americans were asked whether or not they believed that the US military endedcombat operations at the end of August? 33% of respondents -- snorting hope,apparently -- say yes. 59% -- that would be a clear majority -- say no. They werealso asked how history will view the Iraq War. 36% say as a failure, 33% say as asuccess and 31% just don't know. The 33% figure took a hard hit from March when41% were saying the illegal war would be seen as "a success." This isn't surprising because, as Thomas E. Ricks has long pointed out, the military does not have a pacifist wing. And Saturday Tim Arango (New York Times) explained US combat missions in Iraq will not be ending in August. He spoke with a group of US soldiers in Mosul currently "hunting terrorists and covertly watching an Iraqi checkpoint staffed by police officers whom the soldiers say they do not trust." Arango explains that combat missions ("hunting insurgents, joint raids between Iraqi security forces and United States Special Forces to kill or arrest militants") will be renamed "stability operations." Michael Gordon (of the Times) attempted to point out to then-candidate Barack Obama that these were indeed combat missions. But apparently pretty didn't come with brains. The International Herald Tribune featured an important letter Tuesday:Former President George W. Bush sent U.S. troops streaming into Afghanistan supposedly in "hot pursuit" of Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda. It didn't take long, however, for him to recast the war as a much more general fight for the forces of good. Then Iraq caught his eye, and he lost interest in either winning the Afghan war or ending it via diplomacy. Unfortunately, that left the U.S. military stuck there. Even more unfortunately, the Democrats haven't found the fortitude to fight for an end to the increasingly pointless conflict. Already there are hints that President Barack Obama's much-touted 2011 withdrawal date may slip. If that happens we can forget about withdrawal before January 2013; after all, there'll be an election to consider. And by 2013, who knows what other reasons will have been found by Mr. Obama, or by his successor, to stay. If America's political leadership won't find a way to end the fighting, the children and grandchildren of today's U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan may be serving there as well. Eric B. Lipps, New York
In related news,
Lara Jakes (AP) interviewed the top US commander in Iraq, Gen Ray Odierno, yesterday and, "Gen. Ray Odierno brought up the possibility of a U.N. forceduring an interview with The Associated Press. He observed that there is no immediate end in sight to the yearslong dispute between Arabs and Kurds, who have managed an uneasy political dance under American supervision since the fall of Saddam Hussein."

Meanwhile the
Latin American Herald Tribune reports that Spain's Supreme Court was reopening the case in which US troops killed journalist Jose Couso, a cameraman for Telecino, April 8, 2003 when they fired on Bagdhad's Palestine Hotel. Also killed in the attack on civilians was Reuters journalist Taras Protsyuk. Three journalists were wounded in the attack. From Joel Campagna and Rhonda Roumani's "Permission to Fire?" (Committee to Protect Journalists):A Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) investigation into the incident--based on interviews with about a dozen reporters who were at the scene, including two embedded journalists who monitored the military radio traffic before and after the shelling occurred--suggests that attack on the journalists, while not deliberate, was avoidable. CPJ has learned that Pentagon officials, as well as commanders on the ground in Baghdad, knew that the Palestine Hotel was full of international journalists and were intent on not hitting it.

In London, the
Iraq Inquiry continues. Today they heard from the UK Ambassador toIran from 2003 to 2006 Richard Dalton and the UK Ambassador to Iran from 2006to 2009 Geoffrey Adams (link goes to transcript and video options). Chris Ames (Iraq Inquiry Digest) emphasizes Dalton's exchange with Committee Member Martin Gilbert who brings up Tony Blair's testimony to the Inquiry earlier this year claiming Iran was supporting al Qaeda in Mesopotamia. Dalton replied, "From what I saw of his evidence, I thought he very much exaggerated this factor." Richard Norton-Taylor (Guardian) also emphasizes this section of the testimony. We'll emphasize another point.

As the hearing wound down, Committee Member Lawrence Freedman had a few questions and used part of his time to clarify the relationship between Iran and Iraq and truth and Tony Blair's remarks.

Committee Member Lawrence Freedman: Can I just ask a final question to you, Sir Richard? After we had Tony Blair giving evidence here, you were quoted in the Daily Telegraph to the effect that he had been misreading Iran. Now, part of this was, looking back at it, about actions that might be taken in the future against Iran because of its nuclear programme. But I would just like your view as to whether you felt he was misreading Iran in terms of the role that Iran played in the development of instability within Iraq, and whether this is retrospective or whether you were concerned at the time that he was misreading the role of Iran.

Ambassador Richard Dalton: I think I have already answered that question at different points in my evidence so far, to recall what I think I said, I did believe at the time, particularly in 2003, that there was a misreading of Iran as inevitably hostile to the success of the coalition mission to replace Saddam with an Iraqi regime that would be democratic. Secondly, I felt that, at the time that the -- legitimate criticism and justified criticisim of Iran was sometimes used with too broad a brush; in other words, much more of the coalition difficulties were attributed to Iran than was the case, and I pointed out, for example, in some of my reporting that -- reporting that it would be very helpful if we could have more chapter and verse. If we were so sure of our case, then why weren't we showing captured intercepts or Iranian funds, given the sources at our disposal to counter subversion generally? There were several occasion on which we did present evidence of shoulder-launched missiles or IED technology that we felt originated in Iran and sought explanations, but those opportunities that we had weren't, I thought at the time, commensurate with the scale of our outrage at what Iran was doing. I also felt, at the time of Mr Blair's testimony to you, that he was seeking to cast a retrospectively benign light on a series of very bad decisions taken about the legality of the attack on Iraq by saying it was not only right to do it, but that we might have to do it again -- we, the UK, might have to do it again -- and I felt strongly then, and I do now, that a military adventure against Iran pre-emptively, supposedly against its nuclear programmes would be illegal in the absence of an imminent and real threat to any country from Iran and that no such nuclear threat exists at present, and that it was not a sufficient answer to the doubts about the way in which the decisions in 2003 had been taken to simply say that it is a dangerous world, other countries are dangerous and an action might be conceivable in future against those countries.

Committee Member Lawrence Freedman: So your concern was in all three of the areas that I mentioned?

Ambassador Richard Dalton: Yes.

Flying over to the other area ruled by Queen Elizabeth II, Canada. War resisters best chance currently is the court system. The legislative body's upper house is not inclined to vote into being a law in support of war resisters and all of Canada's laws are signed off on by the Queen of England who has already seen British soldiers prosecuted for refusing to take part in the illegal war. Jeremy Hinzman is the first war resister seeking asylum in Canada to go public. His efforts would spread the word and concept of war resistance to others.
Philip Ling (Canwest News Service) reports, "In a unanimous decision Tuesday by the three-judge panel, the court ruled that an immigration officer's decision rejecting Jeremy Hinzman's application for permanent residence in Canada was 'significantly flawed and therefore unreasonable'." His attorney, Alyssa Manning argued convincingly that the immigration officer had refused to consider Jeremy's reasons for opposition to the Iraq War. Wendy Gillis (Toronto Star) explains, "That means officials must another look at Hinzman's application to remain in Canada on humanitarian and compassionate grounds."
Moving over to the US, the Kansas City office of the FBI released the following today:

Former Congressman Pleads Guilty to Obstructing Justice, Acting as Unregistered Foreign AgentIARA Fundraiser Also Pleads Guilty to Conspiring with Former Congressman, Others
KANSAS CITY, MO -- A former congressman and U.S. ambassador to the United Nations pleaded guilty in federal court today to obstruction of justice and to acting as an unregistered foreign agent related to his work for an Islamic charity with ties to international terrorism, announced Beth Phillips, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri.
Mark Deli Siljander, 59, of Great Falls, Va., pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Nanette K. Laughrey to one charge contained in an Oct. 21, 2008, federal indictment, and an additional charge filed today, involving his work for the Islamic American Relief Agency (IARA) of Columbia, Mo. Siljander was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Michigan and was a U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations General Assembly.
Co-defendant Abdel Azim El-Siddig, of Chicago, Ill., a former IARA fundraiser, also pleaded guilty today to conspiring with Siljander and others to hire Siljander to lobby for IARA's removal from a Senate Finance Committee list of charities suspected of having terrorist ties, while concealing this advocacy and not registering with the proper authorities.
"A former congressman engaged in illegal lobbying for a charity suspected of funding international terrorism. He then used his own charities to hide the payments for his criminal activities," U.S. Attorney Phillips said. "Siljander repeatedly lied to FBI agents and prosecutors investigating serious crimes related to national security. With today's guilty pleas, all of the defendants in this case have admitted their guilt and will be held accountable for their actions."
Siljander operated a Washington, D.C., consulting business called Global Strategies, Inc. IARA was an Islamic charity in Columbia, Mo., that served as the U.S. office of an international organization headquartered in Khartoum, Sudan. IARA was closed in October 2004, after being identified by the U.S. Treasury Department as a specially designated global terrorist organization, for the support its international offices provided to Osama bin Laden, al Qaeda, and the Taliban. The executive director of IARA, co-defendant Mubarak Hamed, 53, of Columbia, a naturalized U.S. citizen originally from Sudan, has pleaded guilty in connection with this case.
According to today's plea agreements, between March and May 2004, Hamed and El-Siddig hired Siljander to lobby for IARA's removal from a U.S. Senate Finance Committee list of charities suspected of funding international terrorism, and its reinstatement as an approved government contractor. IARA lost its status as an approved government contractor in 1999, when the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) terminated grants for two relief projects in Mali, Africa. USAID informed the organization that the grants were not in the national security interest of the United States.
Siljander, El-Siddig, and Hamed each knew that IARA was part of a large international organization controlled by its headquarters in Khartoum, Sudan, and agreed with each other to conceal Siljander's efforts on IARA's behalf. In order to do so, Siljander instructed El-Siddig and Hamed to transfer $75,000 of IARA's funds to him by funnelling them through non-profit entities. El-Siddig carried at least three checks issued to Siljander's charities from Chicago to Washington, D.C., and gave them to Siljander.
In exchange for the payments, during the Summer of 2004, Siljander acted as an agent for IARA by contacting persons at the U.S. Senate Finance Committee, USAID, the Department of Justice and the Department of the Army, in an effort to have IARA removed from the USAID list of debarred entities, and to remove IARA from the Senate Finance Committee's list of charities suspected of funding terrorism. Federal law requires anyone who serves as an agent of a foreign entity, including an organization, to register with the U.S. Attorney General.
In pleading guilty, Siljander admitted that in two separate interviews he repeatedly lied to FBI agents and prosecutors acting on behalf of a federal grand jury. Siljander obstructed justice by falsely denying that he was hired to advocate for IARA, and by falsely claiming that the payments from IARA were charitable donations intended to assist him in writing a book about bridging the gap between Islam and Christianity.
Under federal statutes, Siljander is subject to a sentence of up to 15 years in federal prison without parole, plus a fine of up to $500,000. El-Siddig is subject to a sentence of up to five years in federal prison without parole, plus a fine of up to $250,000. Sentencing hearings will be scheduled after the completion of presentence investigations by the U.S. Probation Office.
Siljander and El-Siddig were the final defendants facing trial next week in Kansas City, Mo.
Hamed pleaded guilty on June 25, 2010, to conspiring to illegally transfer more than $1 million to Iraq in violation of federal sanctions, and to obstructing the administration of the laws governing tax-exempt charities. Hamed used IARA to solicit charitable contributions throughout the United States, taking in between $1 million and $3 million in contributions annually from 1991 to 2003, and then illegally transferred funds to Iraq, with the assistance of a Jordanian identified by the U.S. Treasury Department as a specially designated global terrorist. Hamed also impaired and impeded the administration of the Internal Revenue laws by misusing IARA's tax-exempt status, providing false information to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and lying to federal agents.
Co-defendant Ali Mohamed Bagegni, 56, a native of Libya who is a naturalized U.S. citizen and former resident of Columbia, pleaded guilty on April 6, 2010, to his role in the conspiracy. Bagegni was a member of the board of directors of IARA.
Co-defendant Ahmad Mustafa, 57, of Columbia, a citizen of Iraq and a lawful permanent resident alien, pleaded guilty on Dec. 17, 2009, to illegally transferring funds to Iraq in violation of federal sanctions. Mustafa worked as a fund-raiser for IARA and traveled throughout the United States soliciting charitable contributions. Further, in 1999, 2000, and 2001, at Hamed's behest, Mustafa traveled to Iraq on IARA business. In 2001, he visited Iraq for several weeks and met with numerous officials to discuss the process of opening an IARA office in Iraq. Among the officials with whom Mustafa met was Hushyar Zibari, who was at the time a leader in the Patriotic Democratic Party of Kurdistan and is currently the foreign minister of Iraq. Mustafa also looked to find a building suitable for an IARA office in the Kurdish provinces of Iraq.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Anthony P. Gonzalez, Steven M. Mohlhenrich, Dan Stewart and Brian Casey from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Missouri, and Trial Attorney Paul G. Casey from the National Security Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. The case was investigated by the FBI, IRS-Criminal Investigation, and U.S. Agency for International Development, Office of the Inspector General.

Mark Siljander served in the US Congress from 1981 to 1987. He is a Republican and firmly against abortion rights, equal rights and basically any rights other than, apparently, the rights of foreign agents on US soil. Ronald Reagan made him a represenative to the UN (alternative representative) in 1987 (a one-year term).

Lastly, Francis A. Boyle is a professor of law and an international human rights expert. He is also the attorney for the Mothers of Srebrenica and Podrinja and, on their behalf, releases this statement:

The Dutch National Team will be playing for the World Cup upon the fifteenth anniversary of the genocidal massacre at Srebrenica for which the Dutch National Government is jointly and severally responsible under international law. Furthermore, for the past 15 years the Dutch National Government has lied about, covered up, whitewashed, and stonewalled the fact that it cooperated in the massacre of 8000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys at Srebrenica, also rendering the Dutch National Government an Accessory After the Fact to the "genocide" at Srebrenica, as determined by the International Court of Justice in The Hague, the so-called World Court.. For these reasons, the Mothers of Srebrenica and Podrinja call upon all people of good faith and good will around the World, especially those at the World Cup Stadium in South Africa, to publicly root against the Dutch National Team in sympathy with the Victims at Srebrenica.
We will not rest until Justice is done!

nprlourdes garcia-navarro
the shreveport times
the associated presslara jakes
the latin american herald tribunethe committee to protect journalistsjoel campagnarhonda roumani
the new york timestim arango
mcclatchy newspaperssahar issa
iraq inquiry
iraq inquiry digestchris ames
xinhuamu xuequan
the international herald tribune

Thought for the day

Vacation so not a heavy post. But thought for the day, since Gilles d'Aymery hates Americans and feels they debase him (that's what he declared today) why the hell does the Swans Commentary ass live in the US?

So we can look at his insane goblin head?

He's such a prick and such a sexist.

If you're smart, you'll stay away from his sewer known as Swans.

At Third for the summer fiction read, we did a series of interlocking stories.

The new neighborhood
The Private Dick and the Flatulent Woman
She writes letters
The meteor shower
The Cult of St Barack
The end

"TV: Persons Unknown, Plots Pretty Standard" (Ava and C.I., The Third Estate Sunday Review):
See, we'd just cast ourselves in the Tallulah role. Bankhead, for those not familiar. Her one sole box office hit, Lifeboat. If you've seen the film, you've pretty much seen Persons Unknown. It was Lifeboat transferred to a small town.
We used a cell phone to call a cab, careful not to let Tom/Charlie see us making the call, lest he stomp on our phone as well. Then we made small talk and pretended to be all caught up in what might happen next and who was behind it all and . . .
Honk! Honk!
Hopping into our cab, we told the driver to hit the gas and get the hell out of here. Viewers might stick around for thirteen weeks (NBC Mondays -- here for the Hulu page) but the only thing that could have kept us for a moment more was the promise that Joe would strip down again. Since that didn't seem likely, we felt it was time to head out. In Lifeboat, Walter Slezak leads the survivors straight to the Germans, who knows where Tom Hayden would have led us? Translation, Stop This 'Homage,' We Want To Get Off.

I loved this week's commentary and I especially thought it was hilarious how the screen capture they ran with this did look like Tom Hayden was in the scene.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Tuesday, July 6, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, the Iraq Inquiry continues in London with a focus on the family of the deceased, Bradley Manning is charged (though not convicted -- except by some in the press), 6 pilgrims are killed in Baghdad with at least 37 wounded (the pilgrimage continues through the week), Joe Biden visits Iraq over the weekend, and more.

Monday April 5th, WikiLeaks released US military video of a July 12, 2007 assault in Iraq. 12 people were killed in the assault including two Reuters journalists Namie Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh. Monday June 7th, the US military announced that they had arrested Bradley Manning and he stood accused of being the leaker of the video. Philip Shenon (Daily Beast) reported last month that the US government is attempting to track down WikiLeaks' Julian Assange. Leila Fadel (Washington Post) reports Manning has been charged today and that includes "two charges under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The first encompasses four counts of violating Army regulations by transferring classified information to his personal computer between November and May and adding unauthorized software to a classified computer system. The second comprises eight counts of violating federal laws governing the handling of classified information." These are charges. An Article 32 hearing will be held to determine the strength of the charges. If the case proceeds, it would then move to a court martial. Manning has not spoken to the press. That's an important point and one to remember when the suspect's 'confessions' are bandied about. What crazy ass wipe Adrian Lamo calls truth is certainly open to interpretation and reporters would do well to stop treating what Lamo has supplied them with as fact. Meaning those transcripts of IM-ing may or may not be Manning and when the press -- check out the Guardian's Chris McGreal -- presents those as factual, they are not doing the job of the press. They may be doing the prosecution's job -- which would be the US government's job -- but they are not doing the press' job. Those transcripts may indeed be legitimate. If so, the government will introduce them into evidence and the defense will not dispute them. But a number of reporters are telling you what Manning thought and they don't even know that Manning was the leak. Repeating, Manning hasn't spoken to the press. All they have is a little snitch named Adrian. Sometimes snitches tell the truth, sometimes they don't. In the meantime, Manning's not being 'tried in the media,' he's being 'convicted in the media.' That is not the American justice system. Steven Lee Myers (New York Times) reports on the charges and gets it right. Those confused as to what reporting actually is can refer to his work because he outlines what is known and what isn't. And that's not a slap at Fadel. She also demonstrates how you report. In her case, she ignores the unverified claims and assertions made by Lamo. That's the approach we've taken here. If it is introduced as evidence, we'll deal with it but if Lamo's all we have to go by, we're not wasting our time on it or spitting on the American legal system by using it to mind read. Mannings facing very serious charges (repeating, no guilt has yet been established) and you'd think that people would be very careful about what they claimed Manning has done or has written or has said. Manning has not spoken to the press, Manning has not issued any statement to the press.

There's confusion as to how many charges Manning is facing. The military counts two (as Fadel's article reports) but there are 12 specifications.
Mike Gogulski (Help Bradley Manning) has posted the press release and Mike analyzes the charges here. WikiLeaks has not revealed the identify of the person who passed the information to them. At their Twitter feed they note:

If the charges against Manning are true, he will be the Daniel Ellsberg of our times.
via bitly

In London, the
Iraq Inquiry continue. Yesterday the Inquiry headed by John Chilcot heard from Sally Keeble about civilian efforts in Iraq during the early stages of the Iraq War (link goes to video and text options). The thurst of her testimony is Clare Short's lying. I don't believe Keeble. In 2001, in London, I emerged from the ladies' room to be greeted with, "Are you okay?" My response, "I've been trapped in there with Clare Short for 20 minutes." Everyone at the table, including one Miliband brother, laughed knowingly. I know Clare distantly and it stays distant by choice. I'm not a fan of Clare's (nor she of me). But one thing she is and has always been is straightforward. If she makes mistakes, she'll take her lumps and then some. I don't hate her but our personalities do not mesh and never have. (And never will.) However, if she says something happened, it happened. Keeble's testimony blames Clare for the disorder in Iraq, blames Clare's resignation for forcing her (Keeble) to stay on (lest people think she too was resigning for 'political' reasons) and lists various 'projects' that Clare allegedly erred by not backing. Including a 6 million (apparently pounds and not dollars) port project that, to be honest, I don't think anyone would have backed that early into the war. That's a huge sum of money that lower-level Keeble wanted committed. When all of this was allegedly going on, Keeble did not raise objections. She not only waited until Claire was gone to complain, she waited until she (Keeble) had left the department of International Development herself. If there were huge glaring errors taking place, it was Keeble's job to report them in real time. When she finally did make her assertions, they were looked into by Tony Blair's government. Blair had no reason to protect Clair -- who'd walked out on his cabinet -- but the investigation resulted in a conclusion that the charges were unfounded. I don't know Keeble and have no way of knowing whether she was lying or honestly believes her account for whatever reason. But Clare -- and I'm no fan of Clare's -- is known to take her share of the blame pie and then some. I was hoping Chris Ames (Iraq Inquiry Digest) would cover Keeble's testimony but he didn't so I'm stating the above and, with that, we're done with Keeble.

Today the Chilcot Inquiry heard from
Andy Bearpark (Director Operations and Infrastructure in the Coalition Provisional Authority, 2003 to 2004), Martin Howard (Director General Operational Policy, Ministry of Defence, 2004 to 2007), and MP Bob Ainsworth (Minister of State for the Armed Forces, 2007 to 2009, Secretary of State for Defence, 2009) (link goes to transcript and video options). Of the three, we'll zoom in on Bob Ainsworth's testimony. He testified that the issue most presented to him by British troops "was the issues of rest and recuperation" on "the welfare package" -- benefits to the families.

MP Bob Ainsworth: I think you have got to look at the individual instances, because I think that there are some provisions that are absolutely ideal for the provision, you know, through the regimental system, but then there are others where that's not -- I mean, when you have a bereaved family -- I mean, we had to do, I think, considerable work to try to make sure that -- I mean, we simply weren't getting it right, to tell you the truth, and there was a need for, you know, improvement there. Again and again, we were letting people down, I think. [. . . leaping ahead over ten minutes] I saw working with the charities and the agencies as a tour, to help us fill in some of those gaps and fill them in appropriately. So, for instance, in the area of dealing with and helping the bereaved, I don't think that that was some of the improvement that we made we could ever have made on our own, and we certainly couldn't have put in a system that would have helped on our own. So we had to have the help and advice of the Legion, the War Widows' Association. We uwed thos organisations to do analyses of how we actually treated people and get some of the complaints back. We organised a forum. It was somewhere off Pall Mall -- I can't remember exactly where the venue was now -- and we used those organisations to do it, where we brought in people who had been bereaved, who were only to happy to help us because one of the main motivations of bereaved families is often to make sure that you learn lessons from the loss, you know, of their loved ones. But we used them to, you know to, pick up all the challenges that we got and try to improve the service. Now, as a result of that, we then got the British Legion to actually run a service for us, which -- I can't remember the title of it now, but it is like a Citizens' Advice Bureau for -- you know, for bereaved families. Now, we could never do that as MoD [Ministry of Defence]. I don't think we could ever establish the trust with the individuals. You needed that kind of bit of independence, that bit of, you know, arm's length, that getting the British Legion to do it for you gives you. So you know, we then employed them to run some of the improvements that flowed from some of the analyses that we had done of where we were not doing a perfect job.

[. . .]

Committee Member Usha Prashar: I want to look at the question of the MoD dealing with the families because one of the issues that has been raised with us is the MoD's attitude towards families and, in view of the families of the service personnel killed in Iraq, they say that the MoD's attitude is either dismissive or overly defensive. To what extent do you think this criticism is justified and were you aware of that view?

MP Bob Ainsworth: People deal with bereavement in different ways and I have met lots of bereaved families. In some cases, almost no matter what you do, you know, you cannot, you know, make things better; anger is a part of bereavement. You just have to accept that and try not to make the situation worse. But there were areas that we were not getting right.

Committee Member Usha Prashar: Such as?

MP Bob Ainsworth: Well, the way that we communicated with people, sometimes we would appoint a visiting officer to a particular family and that visiting officer would get deployed and then they would wind up with another person, having just got used to the person they were supposed to have as liaison. There are some horror stories when you dig into, you know, how people have actually been, you know, dealt with at an individual level and, I mean, you can never fully mitigate -- in a big organisation, you can never fully mitigate those things, and that is why we organised this event with the War Widows and with the -- the War Widows' Association and with the Royal British Legion to try to pick the brains of those who had had to deal with us, you know, to expose our own failings and then to put systems in place that would, to some degree, pick them up better.

Committee Member Usha Prashar: But what priority did you personally give to dealing with families of those killed in Iraq? What did you personally do? Was that a personal priority?

MP Bob Ainsworth: Improving the system was a personal priority. I had to meet a lot of families, some of them on more than one occasion, and it was important that you did. I know that Des Browne did, and he did it when he was Secretary of State almost systematically. It was important that you didn't just take what you were being told through the system, but you actually got ground truth, and you can't do that all the time and people don't want to do that. There are lots of people who have lost their loved ones who, the last thing they want to do is talk to the Secretary of State for Defence or the armed forces minister. You know, they have got other things, you know that -- in dealing with their bereavement, there are other things that are more important to them, but by doing that from time to time, you did get, you know, a personal handle on, you know, the way some of these systems potentially could be improved.

The answers or 'answers' never got any clearer. From death to life,
Lourdes Garcia-Navarro (NPR's Morning Edition -- link has text and audio) reports from Hannah Allam's Baghdad baby shower. The McClatchy correspondent joins Deborah Haynes (Times of London) and Nada Bakri (New York Times) in reporting on the Iraq War from Iraq while pregnant. Garcia-Navarro notes, "Since the war started, dozens of women have been sent to cover this conflict. It's been our choice, but for many of us, home and family have had to be parked at the blast wall gates." Leila Fadel (Washington Post), Jane Arraf (Christian Science Monitor) and Liz Sly (Los Angeles Times) are mentioned in the report (they attended the shower and, of course, cover Iraq). Other women reporting from Iraq for US outlets have included Alissa J. Rubin, Ellen Knickmeyer, Nancy A. Youssef, Deborah Amos (author of Eclipse of the Sunnis: Power, Exile, and Upheaval in the Middle East), Cara Buckley, Martha Raddatz, Kimberly Dozier, Sabrina Tavernise, Jill Carroll, Anna Badkhen, Gina Chon, Louise Roug, Tina Susman, Alexandra Zavis, Alice Fordham, Kim Gamel, Katarina Kratovac, Rebecca Santana and, of course, the Iraqi women who are part of McClatchy's Baghdad Bureau. Have included. That is not a complete list. (And it's off the top of my head so anyone forgotten was by accident and not a sleight -- except one -- the most famous Iraq 'reporter' whom I'm really not in the mood to include, the former Ms. NYT for those still waking up, helped sell the war.) Everyone listed has their strengths and a unique quality that set their reports aside from others (male and female) reporting from the region. Women have long covered wars. The Iraq War demonstrated that only more so. Lourdes' report aired this morning -- certain fact checkers might want to check their facts before falsely claiming -- as one has -- that the report aired over weekend. The Iraqi women working for McClatchy include correspondent Sahar Issa (who balances work and family in a war zone) and we'll transition on over to violence her country saw today.

Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing which injured two pilgrims, a Baghdad mortar attack which claimed the life of 1 pilgrim and left nine more injured, a Baghdad roadside bombing which injured three pilgrims, another which injured five, another which claimed the lives of 2 and left five wounded, another which injured four, another which injured one and two more Baghdad mortar attacks which claimed the lives of 3 pilgrims and left eight wounded. Issa explains the pilgrimage is "to commemorate the martyrdom of Iman Musa al Kathim on July 8." Reuters adds 2 women were shot dead in Mosul and Tikrit was the locale for an assassination attempt on Iraiya member Qutaiba Ibrahim al-Jouburi.

Over the weekend, US Vice President Joe Biden was back in Iraq, for his fourth visit since being sworn in as Vice President.
Ned Parker (Los Angeles Times) reported, "Vice President Joe Biden, the White House point man on Iraq policy, arrived in Baghdad on Saturday for meetings with the two front-runners in slow-moving negotiations to lead the Iraqi government as U.S. troops pull out." AP noted a hesitancy among US officials and elected politicians to visit Iraq since the elections and offers that this might signal a change. In Iraq, the political stalemate continues.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.

Sunday Biden met with Ayad Allawi and Nouri al-Maliki.
Leila Fadel (Washington Post) reported of the first visit, "During the 1 1/2 -hour session, Biden emphasized the U.S. commitment to a 'long-term strategic' relationship with Iraq, said Maysoon al-Damluji, a member of the bloc who attended the meeting. Biden was accompanied by U.S. Ambassador Christopher R. Hill and Gen. Ray Odierno, the top military commander in Iraq, as well as other officials from the U.S. Embassy. At the end of the meeting, Allawi and Biden spoke privately for 15 minutes." Counting his trips as a US Senator, Tim Arango (New York Times) noted this is Biden's 17th trip to Iraq since the start of the Iraq War and reports of the second meeting, "Mr. Biden's motorcade then snaked through the Green Zone to the home of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, who lives in a neighborhood of waterways known as Little Venice. Afterward, a member of Mr. Maliki's political party, Khalid al-Assadi, said in a statement that the 'process of forming a government is going on quietly'." The Los Angeles Times' Top of the Ticket blog posts the speech Biden gave today. Kelly McEvers (NPR's All Things Considered -- link has text and audio) filed from Baghdad on Monday: Vice President JOE BIDEN: The United States is committed we're committed to cement that relationship through economic, political and diplomatic cooperation, not just by the use of arms.
MCEVERS: Analysts here say this may be what the American people want to hear, but not necessarily what the Iraqis want to hear. On one hand, the radical Islamists, both Shiite and Sunni, want the U.S. military all the way out of Iraq. Others say American soldiers should stay, to protect people against the radicals and to ensure that whoever takes power does not become another dictator. Abdulhalek Zengela is a Kurdish member of parliament. He says Biden was his usual frank self with Iraqi leaders and that's the way the Americans should remain.

Lu Hui (Xinhua) reported on Biden's visit with President Jalal Talabani on Monday and Hui notes that both Nouri and Allawi issued statements following their meetings -- statements which sought to make it appear they had the edge and nod from Biden. Caroline Alexander (Bloomberg News) notes, "In a statement e-mailed from his office in Baghdad today, Talabani described Biden as 'a friend' and said they had discussed ways of 'finding a solution'." Michael Jansen (Irish Times) offers an indepth overview and notes "the post-election political process, as laid down in the constitution, has stalled. parliament, which was convened on June 14th for deputies to take the oath of office and remains in open session because it was unable to elect a speaker on that date. On July 14th, parliament is meant to name a president or three-man presidential council. But these posts cannot be filled until the shape of the new government is decided."

The NewsHour (PBS -- link has text, video and audio options) Judy Woodruff spoke with the Christian Science Monitor's Jane Arraf and we'll note this section on the continued stalemate:JUDY WOODRUFF: Are the sticking points related to the sectarian groups, the Shia, the Sunni, the Kurds, or is it more than that?
JANE ARRAF: It is related to that, in a sense. But, more than that, a lot of this, so much of it, in fact, is related to personality, the personality of the prime minister, who has been prime minister for four years and wants to hang on that post, the prime minister of Ayad Allawi, another strong leader, a strong man, as Iraqis see him. A lot of it really is about individuals. It's not so much about issues, which is what Iraqis think it should be. This is a country where it's the beginning of summer, 110, 120 degrees, six hours of electricity a day, no jobs, and people here really feel that politicians should put their own interests aside for a second and just get on with it and form a government and do something.

Alsumaria TV (which correctly notes that Biden was on a three-day visit) explains suggestions were made during the trip: "An official speaking on condition of anonymity pointed out however to two proposals. The first stipulates to divide Premiership term between Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki and head of Al Iraqiya List Iyad Allawi, two years each. The second proposal calls to amend Prime Minister's authorities in favor of Iraqi President which recalls the statements of US Ambassador to Iraq Christopher Hill."
Biden's not the only US official who visited Iraq over the weekend, Senators John McCain, Joe Lieberman and Lindsay Graham.
Xinhua reports the three senators met with Nouri today and he told them that the pace of the process was being increased. From the article: "Talking about what were achieved by his government in security and other fields, Maliki said the victory is difficult, but maintaining it is much harder." Students of history might want to remember South Vietnam's claims (and economy -- which was semi-functioning at that point) during the US occupation and how, when US forces left, the puppet regime imploded. The same may be in store for Iraq's puppet government if history is an indicator. Biden is due to meet with Nouri and Allawi tomorrow.

In other news,
Timothy Williams (New York Times) reported Saturday that Falluja -- hit twice in 2004 by the US military -- will not be getting the "citywide sewage treatment system" the US government promised and which American tax payers footed the bill for: "Now, after more than six years of work, $104 million spent, and without having connected a single house, American reconstruction officials have decided to leave the system unfinished, though they portray it as a success." Williams goes on to document how that abandoned project is not an isolated occurrence. Hamza Hendawi (AP) reports on the one growth industry of the illegal war: widowhood. Women such as Hameeda Ayed, now the sole provider for herself and her three children who qualifies for approximately $166 a month in assistance from the Baghdad government or 'government' but not only is she not receiving the money, she's no longer trying for it. Because? Because the process exists to stymie and thwart those who might seek assistance. As has become very obvious (me, not AP) in the last years, the 'assistance' is a concept Nouri wants the West to believe he's provided; however, no meaningful assistance is provided for Iraq's over 1 million widows (government figure provided to AP by Nahdah Hameed). Hamza summarizes to AP, "Our life has been turned into misery and desperation. This is what we got from occupation and the dreams of democracy: orphans, widows, homeless, displaced and fugitives." Those still catching up on the weekend's news should refer to Stephen Farrell's post at the New York Times' blog.

On the latest Inside Iraq (Al Jazeera, began airing Friday), the electricity issue was addressed, how Iraqis suffer without it, how it has not improved through all the years of the Iraq War Iraq's Minister of Planning Ali Baban and joined Jasim Azawi

Jasim Azawi: Ali Baban, I would like to start with you. Before I ask you a question, there is one thing right from the start, right from the outset I would like to make very clear and that is regarding the recently resigned Minister of Electricity [Kareem Waheed], nobody has alleged and nobody has ever proved that corruption -- personal corruption -- has indicted him or has tarnished his reputation. That's from the very beginning. But we take it very seriously, any allegation of people's reputation. And even the number, the $17 billion everybody's throwing around that the minister got in those years. That number is also false according to him and according to figures published that during those four years his ministry received just a little bit over $6 billion -- more than 2 and 1/2 have been spent correctly and the rest is in letter of credit awaiting suppliers to fulfill their committment. Having said that Ali Baban, explain to me in a short manner why, after seven years, Iraqis are still suffering from a lack of electricity.

Ali Baban: Really, I agree with you about your idea and what you mentioned about the minister himself. I think it is very necessary to confirm that the minister is an efficient man and he is a professional man that nobody accuse him of corruption but really the problem is very complicated and it is related to many factors -- political factor, administrative factor, economics factor, the clashes and the antagonism between political group impede our plan to improve the electricity in Iraq. I want to say that. And I want to say to the people that we should face this problem seriously and it is not a challenge for one year or two year, I think we would take time to deal with destroyed -- arranged our network and we should spend a lot of money to solve this problem. Our arranged electricity program really was a subject for destruction because of the wars and siege and the blockage which Iraq was subject for in the last 20 years.

Jasim Azawi: Sami Ramadani, listen to the minister. This is a warning, this is an omen. Those Iraqis who think they are going to get the electricity to pre-1990 or to 1991, they are mistaken according to Ali Baban, it's going to take many many years.

Sami Ramadani: Yes and Maliki confirmed that as well a few days ago after the demonstrations. I think this is an endemic problem. And I myself doubt if the current set-up can supply smoothly electricity to the bulk of the population for many, many years to come. And I think the problems that the Minister alluded to are much deeper than even appearing on the surface. In fact, I think the electricity problem is a very good symbol of the entire political problems of Iraq and the way the sucessive governments since the occupation of Iraq have handled people's essential services. And electricity is one of them. Perhaps one of the most important because it effects people's health, daily lives, schools, education. Electricity, especially in the cities, is one of the backbone infrastructure facilities that the population depend on. And the failure to suppy electricity to the population is symptomatic of the setup that followed the occupation. And I think that one of the reasons -- not every reason, we will come to the other reasons -- one of the reasons is that I think the Iraqi electricity industry -- like much of the services in Iraq -- are being primed for privataziation. This is an agenda that the occupation had at the top of its priorities: Too privatize as much as they could of Iraq's wealth, industries. To open the doors for those who would reap the profits from Iraq and its resources.

And we return to England for the close. Tomorrow there's a demonstration in London:

Tomorrow morning the decision will be announced on
the 'discretion test' case from the Supreme Court.This is otherwise known as the Home Office policy of telling LGBT asylum seekers to 'go home and be discreet'. See our report on UKLGIG's groundbreaking research for more.The policy has been described by some as the Anne Frank principle."It would have been no defence to a claim that Anne Frank faced well-founded fear of persecution in 1942 to say that she was safe in a comfortable attic," Lord Justice Pill agreed in the court of appeal last year. "Refugee status cannot be denied by expecting a person to conceal aspects of identity or suppress behaviour the person should be allowed to express," he added.Movement for Justice - who marched for LGBT asylum at London Pride - will be holding a demonstration tomorrow, Wednesday 7 July at 9am at The Supreme Court (Parliament Square, London SW1P 3BD, opposite the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben).

[. . .]

Visit our website, LGBT asylum news (formally Save Medhi Kazemi)
http://www.medhikazemi.comTwitter LGBTAsylumNewsIf you want to be removed from our mailing list, please let us know.Sign the petition for Iraqi LGBT petitions/iraqi-lgbt-need- your-help/sign.html

the washington postleila fadel
the new york timessteven lee myers
nprmorning editionlourdes garcia-navarro
the los angeles timesned parkerxinhua
tim arango
mu xuequanlu huithe irish timesmichael jansen
alsumaria tv
pbsthe newshourjudy woodruffthe christian science monitorjane arraf
the associated presshamza hendawi
al jazeera
inside iraqjasim azawi