Saturday, December 25, 2010

Dingbat Digby

Digby's been one of the most useless bloggers for years. This is the woman who cribs liberally from other women for her 'lifestories.' This is also the woman who couldn't call out the sexism aimed at Hillary Clinton during the 2008 primaries and, even after the fact, couldn't say a real word against those attacks in Eric B.'s bad book. She's useless because she's never valued women and constantly sought male approval and success on male defined terrain.

She's decided to do her Julian Assange defending today.

All she demonstrated was how truly ignorant she was.

For some, she might have shown how repulsive she is by racing to embrace the accused rapist but I think most of us caught on to her act some time ago.

Here's the Idiot Digby:

This is where the argument takes you folks, whether you like it or not. Toobin struggled mightily to figure out a way out of that without sounding like a total dolt and he was unable to. If you think that Assange is guilty of a crime then Bob Woodward (and countless other investigative reporters) are guilty too. There just isn't any way around it.

Yes, there are many ways around that, Idiot Digby. Bob Woodward is a journalist who writes and reports.

Julian Assange, at best, is a publisher. Some would even argue with that since he is not WikiLeaks but one part of it. Some might argue that, at best, Julian Assange works for a publisher.

WikiLeaks does not interpret, does not synthesize or analyze what they release. That is why they partner with newspapers.

Julian Assange is not Bob Woodward and to claim that he is (Naomi Wolf makes the claim and, like a good little self-hater, Digby repeats it).

If Digby truly can't grasp the difference, she's even worse than pill popping Naomi Wolf who does know the difference but lies.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):

Friday, December 24, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, Nouri's incomplete Cabinet continues to receive criticism, a father offers an 'excuse' for killing his own daughter, and more.
Marci Stone (US Headlines Examiner) reports, "Friday afternoon, Santa is currently in Baghdad, Iraq and on his next stop is Moscow, Russia, according to the 2010 NORAD Santa Tracker. The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) has been tracking Santa as he makes his annual journey throughout the world." Gerald Skoning (Palm Beach Post) quotes Santa saying, "We send our special wishes for peace and goodwill to all. That includes the people of Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran and North Korea." Please note that this is Santa's seventh trip to Iraq since the start of the Iraq War and, as usual, his journey was known in advance. No waiting until he hit the ground to announce he was going to Iraq -- the way George The Bully Boy Bush had to and the way US President Barack Obama still has to. In the lead up to Santa's yearly visit, many 'authorities' in Iraq began insisting that Christmas couldn't be celebrated publicly, that even Santa was banned.

Gabriel Gatehouse (BBC News) quotes
Shemmi Hanna stating, "I wasn't hurt but I wish that I had been killed. I wish I had become a martyr for this church, but God kept me alive for my daughters." Shemmi Hanna was in Our Lady of Salvation Church in Baghdad when it was assaulted October 31st and she lost her husband, her son, her daughter-in-law and her infant grandson in the attack. The October 31st attack marks the latest wave of violence targeting Iraqi Christians. The violence has led many to flee to northern Iraq (KRG) or to other countries. Zvi Bar'el (Haaretz) notes, "This week the Iraqi legislature discussed the Christians' situation and passed a resolution in principle to help families who fled. However, the parliament does not know where the Christians are, how many are still in Iraq, in their homes, and how many have found asylum in Iraqi Kurdistan." John Leland (New York Times) reports:

The congregants on Friday night were fewer than 100, in a sanctuary built for four or five times as many. But they were determined. This year, even more than in the past, Iraqi's dwindling Christian minority had reasons to stay home for Christmas.
"Yes, we are threatened, but we will not stop praying," the Rev. Meyassr al-Qaspotros told the Christmas Eve crowd at the Sacred Church of Jesus, a Chaldean Catholic church. "We do not want to leave the country because we will leave an empty space."

Raheem Salman (Los Angeles Times) reports, "Rimon Metti's family will go to Christian services on Christmas Day, but his relatives will be praying for their own survival and wondering whether this is their last holiday season in Baghdad. If they had any grounds for optimism about the future of their faith in Iraq, it vanished this year amid repeated attacks on fellow believers." Shahsank Bengali (McClatchy Newspapers) adds, "Nearly two months after a shocking assault by Islamist militants, Our Lady of Salvation Catholic Church will commemorate Christmas quietly, with daytime mass and prayers for the dead, under security fit more for a prison than a house of worship. It is the same at Christian churches across Baghdad and northern Iraq, where what's left of one of the world's oldest Christian communities prepares to mark perhaps the most somber Christmas since the start of the Iraq war."
Meanwhile Taylor Luck (Jordan Times) reports on Iraqi refugees in Jordan:

Although the calendar will say December 25, for Theresa, Saturday will not be Christmas.
There will be no cinnamon klecha cooling on the dining room table, no outdoor ceramic nativity scene, no readings of hymns with relatives.
The 63-year-old Iraqi woman has even refused to put up Christmas lights in the crowded two-room Amman hotel apartment she has called home since fleeing Baghdad last month.
"There is no holiday spirit. All we have is fear," she said.
This holiday will instead mark another year without news from her 46-year-old son, who was kidnapped outside Baghdad in late 2006.

From Turkey, Sebnem Arsu (New York Times -- link has text and video) notes the increase in Iraq refugees to the country since October 31st and quotes Father Emlek stating, "I've never seen as many people coming here as I have in the last few weeks. They also go to Lebanon, Jordan and Syria but it seems that Turkey is the most popular despite the fact that they do not speak the language." Jeff Karoub (AP) reports on the small number of Iraqi refugees who have made it to the US and how some of them "struggle with insomnia, depression and anxiety."
One group in Iraq who can openly celebrate Christmas are US service members who elect to. Barbara Surk (AP) reports that tomorrow Chief Warrant Officer Archie Morgan will celebrate his fourth Christmas in Iraq and Captain Diana Crane is celebrating her second Christmas in Iraq: "Crane was among several dozen troops attending a Christmas Eve mass in a chapel in Camp Victory, an American military base just outside Baghdad." Marc Hansen (Des Moines Reigster) speaks with six service members from Iowa who are stationed in Iraq. Sgt 1st Class Dennis Crosser tells Hansen, "I certainly understand from reading the paper what's going on in Afghanistan and the attention definitely needs to be on the troops there. But everyone serving here in Operation New Dawn appreciates a little bit of attention as we finish this up."

Today Jiang Yu, China's Foreign Minister, issued the following statement, "We welcome and congratulate Iraq on forming a new government. We hope that the Iraqi Government unite all its people, stabilize the security situation, accelerate economic reconstruction and make new progress in building its country." James Cogan (WSWS) reports:
US State Department official Philip Crowley declared on Wednesday that Washington had not "dictated the terms of the government". In reality, constant American pressure was applied to Maliki, Allawi, Kurdish leaders and other prominent Iraqi politicians throughout the entire nine-month process to form a cabinet. The US intervention included numerous personal phone calls and visits to Baghdad by both President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.
The key objective of the Obama administration has been to ensure that the next Iraqi government will "request" a long-term military partnership with the US when the current Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) expires at the end of 2011. The SOFA is the legal basis upon which some 50,000 American troops remain in Iraq, operating from large strategic air bases such as Balad and Tallil and Al Asad. US imperialism spent billions of dollars establishing these advanced bases as part of its wider strategic plans and has no intention of abandoning them.
Cogan's only the second person to include the SOFA in his report. Some are impressed with the 'feat' of taking nearly ten months to form a government, stringing the country along for ten months while no decisions could go through. The editorial board of the Washington Post, for example, was full of praise yesterday. Today they're joined by Iran's Ambassador to Iraq, Hassan Danaiifar. The Tehran Times reports that Danaiifar was full of praise today hailing the "positive and final step which ended the 10-month political limbo in Iraq." However, Danaiifar was less pie-in-the-sky than the Post editorial board because he can foresee future problems as evidenced by his statement, "We may witness the emergence of some problems after one and half of a year -- for example, some ministers may be impeached." Of course, there are already many clouds on the horizon, even if Iranian diplomats and Post editorial boards can't suss them out. For example, Ben Bendig (Epoch Times) noted the objection of Iraq's female politicians to Nouri al-Maliki's decision to nominate only one woman (so far) to his Cabinet: "Some 50 female lawmakers went to the country's top leadership, the United Nations and the Arab League to voice their concern and desire for increased representation." BNO notes that protest and also that a group of Iraqi MPs are alleging that Iraqiya bought seats in the Cabinet via money exchanged in Jordan. UPI adds, "Maliki, a Shiite who has a long history of working with Tehran, has named himself acting minister of defense, interior and national security, three most powerful and sensitive posts in the government he is stitching together. Although Maliki appears to be bending over backward to accommodate rivals among Iraq's Shiite majority as well as minority Sunnis and Kurds in his administration in a spirit of reconciliation, he is unlikely to relinquish those ministries that dominate the security sector." DPA reports, "Sheikh Abdel-Mahdi al-Karbalaei, a confident of influential Shiite spiritual leader Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, said that the new cabinet is 'below the standards' Iraqi citizens had hoped for and suggested it could prove to be weaker than the previous government." Ranj Alaaldin (Guardian) also spots clouds on the horizon:

Lasting peace and stability depends on resolving outstanding disputes with the Kurds on oil, revenue-sharing, security and the disputed territories (Kirkuk in particular). The Kurds, rather than exploiting their kingmaker position to take a stronger proportion of ministries in Baghdad (they are taking just one major portfolio – the foreign ministry), are instead banking on guarantees from Maliki to implement their list of 19 demands that includes resolving the above disputes in their favour.
They may have been naive, though. With their historical and federalist partners, the Islamic supreme council of Iraq in decline, the Kurds may be isolated in the new government – a government dominated by the nationalistic and centrist characteristics of the INM, the Sadrists and indeed State of Law.
Maliki may, therefore, turn out to be unable to grant concessions even if he wanted to and could use Osama Nujayfi, the new ultra-nationalist speaker of parliament and Kurdish foe, to absorb the Kurdish criticism and insulate himself from any attacks.

AP reports that Iraqi police sought out a 19-year-old woman because of rumors that she was working with al Qaida in Mesopotamia only to be greeted with the news that her father allegedly killed her and the father showed the police where he buried the woman . . . last month. The story begs for more than it offers. The most obvious observation is: what does it say that a woman's allegedly killed by her father and no one says a word for over a month? After that, it should probably be noted that there are many men in Iraq killing women who, no doubt, would love to also be able to pin the blame on al Qaida. In other violence, Reuters notes a house bombing in Haswa which claimed the life of Mohammed al-Karrafi, "his wife, two sons and a nephew" -- as well as injuring four more people, and a Samarra roadside bombing which claimed the lives of 2 police officers. DPA notes it was two homes bombed in Haswa and that the Samarra roadside bombing also injured four Iraqi soldiers. Jomana Karadsheh (CNN) reports, "Another policeman was wounded in Baghdad Friday night when a roadside bomb detonated by a police patrol, an Interior Ministry official told CNN."
And we'll close with this from Peace Mom Cindy Sheehan's latest Al Jazeera column:
The recent repeal of the US military policy of "Don't ask, don't tell" is far from being the human rights advancement some are touting it to be. I find it intellectually dishonest, in fact, illogical on any level to associate human rights with any military, let alone one that is currently dehumanising two populations as well as numerous other victims of it's clandestine "security" policies.
Placing this major contention aside, the enactment of the bill might be an institutional step forward in the fight for "equality"; however institutions rarely reflect reality.
Do we really think that the US congress vote to repeal the act and Obama signing the bill is going to stop the current systemic harassment of gays in the military?
While I am a staunch advocate for equality of marriage and same-sex partnership, I cannot - as a peace activist - rejoice in the fact that now homosexuals can openly serve next to heterosexuals in one of the least socially responsible organisations that currently exists on earth: The US military.
It is an organisation tainted with a history of intolerance towards anyone who isn't a Caucasian male from the Mid-West. Even then I'm sure plenty fitting that description have faced the terror and torment enshrined into an institution that transforms the pride and enthusiasm of youth into a narrow zeal for dominating power relations.

And we'll close with this from Francis A. Boyle's "2011: Prospects for Humanity?" (Global Research):

Historically, this latest eruption of American militarism at the start of the 21st Century is akin to that of America opening the 20th Century by means of the U.S.-instigated Spanish-American War in 1898. Then the Republican administration of President William McKinley stole their colonial empire from Spain in Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines; inflicted a near genocidal war against the Filipino people; while at the same time illegally annexing the Kingdom of Hawaii and subjecting the Native Hawaiian people (who call themselves the Kanaka Maoli) to near genocidal conditions. Additionally, McKinley's military and colonial expansion into the Pacific was also designed to secure America's economic exploitation of China pursuant to the euphemistic rubric of the "open door" policy. But over the next four decades America's aggressive presence, policies, and practices in the "Pacific" would ineluctably pave the way for Japan's attack at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 194l, and thus America's precipitation into the ongoing Second World War. Today a century later the serial imperial aggressions launched and menaced by the Republican Bush Jr. administration and now the Democratic Obama administration are threatening to set off World War III.

By shamelessly exploiting the terrible tragedy of 11 September 2001, the Bush Jr. administration set forth to steal a hydrocarbon empire from the Muslim states and peoples living in Central Asia and the Persian Gulf under the bogus pretexts of (1) fighting a war against international terrorism; and/or (2) eliminating weapons of mass destruction; and/or (3) the promotion of democracy; and/or (4) self-styled "humanitarian intervention." Only this time the geopolitical stakes are infinitely greater than they were a century ago: control and domination of two-thirds of the world's hydrocarbon resources and thus the very fundament and energizer of the global economic system – oil and gas. The Bush Jr./ Obama administrations have already targeted the remaining hydrocarbon reserves of Africa, Latin America, and Southeast Asia for further conquest or domination, together with the strategic choke-points at sea and on land required for their transportation. In this regard, the Bush Jr. administration announced the establishment of the U.S. Pentagon's Africa Command (AFRICOM) in order to better control, dominate, and exploit both the natural resources and the variegated peoples of the continent of Africa, the very cradle of our human species.

This current bout of U.S. imperialism is what Hans Morgenthau denominated "unlimited imperialism" in his seminal work Politics Among Nations (4th ed. 1968, at 52-53):

The outstanding historic examples of unlimited imperialism are the expansionist policies of Alexander the Great, Rome, the Arabs in the seventh and eighth centuries, Napoleon I, and Hitler. They all have in common an urge toward expansion which knows no rational limits, feeds on its own successes and, if not stopped by a superior force, will go on to the confines of the political world. This urge will not be satisfied so long as there remains anywhere a possible object of domination--a politically organized group of men which by its very independence challenges the conqueror's lust for power. It is, as we shall see, exactly the lack of moderation, the aspiration to conquer all that lends itself to conquest, characteristic of unlimited imperialism, which in the past has been the undoing of the imperialistic policies of this kind….

On 10 November 1979 I visited with Hans Morgenthau at his home in Manhattan. It proved to be our last conversation before he died on 19 July 1980. Given his weakened physical but not mental condition and his serious heart problem, at the end of our necessarily abbreviated one-hour meeting I purposefully asked him what he thought about the future of international relations.

jomana karadsheh

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Sin City Siren

It's Thursday. I'm only posting for one reason.

"Dear Progressive Community: Stop being rape apologists" (The Sin City Siren):

As far as I’m concerned, Assange is getting treated just like every other high-profile man ever accused of sexual assault (rape), domestic violence, sexual harassment or any other violent or discriminatory act against a woman. We don’t want to believe it. Oh, not him! But I love Al Gore! But Roethlisberger is awesome! But Clarence Thomas will be the second black man on the Supreme Court! But I love Chris Brown‘s music!

Come on, letting famous guys get out of jail free on sexual violence is what we do! It’s like the fucking national past-time. Why on earth would Assange, who in many progressive circles is being hailed as an anti-government hero, be any different? (I mean, Gore is a Nobel Peace Prize winner. So, he can’t be guilty, right?)

Sunny found that and asked me to note it when I blogged next. I'm sure I'll forget so I'm just noting it. It is a wonderful post and you should read it all, not just the excerpt above.

(If you're confused, I do group therapy Thursday nights and never blog on Thursday nights as a result. This was a one-time thing.)

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):

Thursday, December 23, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, Iraqi women make clear their displeasure over the Cabinet make up, Daniel Ellsberg and Veterans for Peace get some recognition, and more.
Last Thursday a protest held outside the White House. One of the organizers was Veterans for Peace and Pentagon Papers whistle blower Daniel Ellsberg participated and spoke. Juana Bordas (Washington Post) advocates for both of them to be named persons of the year:
Veterans for Peace and Daniel Ellsberg should be this year's person of the year because of their courage and bravery to stand up for all of us who believe that "war is not the answer." Moreover in a time of economic recession, the war machine is bankrupting our country. As John Amidon, a Marine Corps veteran from Albany asked at the White House protest, "How is the war economy working for you?"
While unemployment rates hover near 10 percent, there is no doubt that the U.S. economy and quality of life is faltering. Worldwide we are 14th in education, 37th in the World Health Organization's ranking on medical systems, and 23rd in the U.N. Environmental Sustainability Index on being most livable and greenest benefits. There is one place we take the undeniable world lead. The US military spending accounts for a whopping 46.5 percent of world military spending--the next ten countries combined come in at only 20.7 percent.

Linda Pershing (Truthout) reports, "Responding to a call from the leaders of Stop These Wars(1) - a new coalition of Veterans for Peace and other activists - participants came together in a large-scale performance of civil resistance. A group of veterans under the leadership of Veterans for Peace members Tarak Kauff, Will Covert and Elaine Brower, mother of a Marine who has served three tours of duty in Iraq, sponsored the event with the explicit purpose of putting their bodies on the line. Many participants were Vietnam War veterans; others ranged from Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans in their 20s and 30s to World War II vets in their 80s and older. They were predominately white; men outnumbered women by at least three to one. After a short rally in Lafayette Park, they formed a single-file procession, walking across Pennsylvania Avenue to the solemn beat of a drum. As they reached the police barricade (erected to prevent them from chaining themselves to the gate, a plan they announced on their web site), the activists stood shoulder to shoulder, their bodies forming a human link across the 'picture postcard' tableau in front of the White House." Maria Chutchian (Arlington Advocate) quotes, participant Nate Goldshlag (Vietnam veteran) stating, ""There was a silent, single file march around Lafayette Park to a drum beat. Then we went in front of the White House,. There were barricades set up in front of white house fence. So when we got there, we jumped over barricades and were able to get right next to the White House fence." Participant Linda LeTendre (Daily Gazette) reports:

At the end of the rally, before the silent, solemn procession to the White House fence, in honor of those killed in Iraq and Afghan wars of lies and deceptions, the VFP played taps and folded an American flag that had been left behind at a recent funeral for the veteran of one of those wars. Two attendees in full dress uniform held and folded the flag. I had the image of all of the people who stood along the roads and bridges when the bodies of the two local men, Benjamin Osborn and David Miller, were returned to the Capital District. I thought if all of those people were here now or spoke out against war these two fine young men might still be with us.
I was blessed enough to be held in custody with one of those in uniform; a wonderful young man who had to move from his hometown in Georgia because no one understood why as a veteran he was against these wars. Even his family did not understand. (He remains in my prayers.)
Our plan was to attach ourselves to the White House fence until President Obama came out and talked to us or until we were arrested and dragged away. I don't have to tell you how it ended.
Mr. Ellsberg was one of 139 people arrested at that action.
We've noted the protest in pretty much every snapshot since last Thursday. If something else comes out that's worth noting on the protest, we'll include it. We will not include people who don't have their facts and it's really sad when they link to, for example, Guardian articles and the links don't even back them up. It's real sad, for example, when they're trashing Hillary (big strong men that they are) and ripping her apart and yet Barack? "Obama's inaccurate statements"??? What the hell is that? You're inferring he lied, say so. Don't be such a little chicken s**t. It's especially embarrasing when you're grandstanding on 'truth.' Especially when you're the little s**t that clogged up the public e-mail account here in the summer of 2008 whining that you were holding Barack to a standard, then admitting that you weren't, then whining that if you did people would be mean to you. Oh, that's sooooooo sad. Someone might say something bad about you. The horror. You must suffer more than all the people in Iraq and Afghanistan combined.
While the action took place in DC, actions also took place in other cities. We've already noted NYC's action this week, Doug Kaufmann (Party for Socialism & Liberation) reports on the Los Angeles action:
Despite heavy rain, over 100 people gathered in Los Angeles on the corner of Hollywood and Highland to demand an end to the U.S. wars on Afghanistan and Iraq. People came from as far as Riverside to protest, braving what Southern California media outlets have dubbed the "storm of the decade."
The demonstration, initiated and led by the ANSWER Coalition, broke the routine of holiday shopping and garnered support from activists and even passers by, who joined in chanting "Money for jobs and education -- not for war and occupation!" and "Occupation is a crime -- Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine!" Protesters held banners reading, "U.S./NATO Out of Afghanistan!" and "Yes to jobs, housing and education -- no to war, racism and occupation!"
Speakers at the demonstration included representatives of Korean Americans for Peace, ANSWER Coalition, KmB Pro-People Youth, Veterans for Peace, Party for Socialism and Liberation and National Lawyers Guild.
Tuesday, Nouri al-Maliki managed to put away the political stalemate thanks to a lot of Scotch -- tape to hold the deal together and booze to keep your eyes so crossed you don't question how someone can claim to have formed a Cabinet when they've left over ten positions to be filled at a later date. One group speaking out is women. Bushra Juhi and Qassmi Abdul-Zahra (AP) report, "Iraq's female lawmakers are furious that only one member of the country's new Cabinet is a woman and are demanding better representation in a government that otherwise has been praised by the international community for bringing together the country's religious sects and political parties." As noted Tuesday, though represenation in Parliament is addressed in Iraq's Constitution, there is nothing to address women serving in the Cabinet. Aseel Kami (Reuters) notes one of the most damning aspects of Nouri's chosen men -- a man is heaing the Ministry of Women's Affairs. Iraqiya's spokesperson Maysoon Damluji states, "There are really good women who could do wel . . . they cannot be neglected and marginalized." Al-Amal's Hanaa Edwar states, "They call it a national (power) sharing government. So where is the sharing? Do they want to take us back to the era of the harem? Do they want to take us back to the dark ages, when women were used only for pleasure." Deborah Amos (NPR's All Things Considered) reports that a struggle is going on between secular impulses and fundamentalist ones. Gallery owner Qasim Sabti states, "We know it's fighting between the religious foolish man and the civilization man. We know we are fighting like Gandhi, and this is a new language in Iraqi life. We have no guns. We do not believe in this kind of fighting." Deborah Amos is the author of Eclipse of the Sunnis: Power, Exile, and Upheaval in the Middle East. Meanwhile Nizar Latif (The National) reports that distrust is a common reaction to the new government in Baghdad and quotes high school teacher Hussein Abed Mohammad stating, "Promises were made that trustworthy, competent people would be ministers this time around, but it looks as if everything has just been divided out according to sectarian itnerests. No attention has been paid to forming a functioning government, it is just a political settlement of vested interests. I'm sure al Maliki will have the same problems in his next four years as he had in the last four years."
Days away from the ten months mark, Nouri managed to finally end the stalemate. Some try to make sense of it and that must have been some office party that the editorial board of the Washington Post is still coming down from judging by "A good year in Iraq." First up, meet the new Iraqi Body Count -- an organization that provides cover for the war and allows supporters of the illegal war to point to it and insist/slur "Things aren't so bad!" Sure enough, the editorial board of the Post does just that noting the laughable "civilian deaths" count at iCasualities. As we noted -- long, long before we walked away from that crap ass website, they're not doing a civilian count. They're noting how many deaths Reuters reports. They ignore AP, they ignore McClatchy, they ignore all outlets but Reuters. Last time we pointed that out, they rushed to include a few other Western outlets for a day or two. So they'll probably pull that again this time. But they are such an undercount that they regularly have even less deaths then the Iraqi government reports each month. You only cite iCasualties if you're pro-war.

And you only hail 2010 as a "good year" in Iraq if you're EUI -- editorialzing under the influence. Over 9 months without a government. And it's still not got one. The Cabinet is not full. Nine months where nothing got down. The 2007 benchmarks have never, ever been reached -- and those were benchmarks they were supposed to achieve (ideally) in one year. 2010 was further proof that Iraq's a failed state -- a point the editorial board will agree with me on only if the theft-of-Iraqi-oil legislation doesn't come to pass. At which point, forget violence and death counts, they will take to computer to insist that things are awful in Iraq. This is the year Iraq set the world record for longest time between an election and the formation of a government. And this is hailed as "a good year in Iraq"? Who spiked the egg nog? Regardless, give them credit for giving Iraq attention since so very few do. Jay Price (News & Observer) notes, "According to the Pew Research Center, just 4 percent of stories in the U.S. media now are about Afghanistan. And Iraq? Not even 1 percent." Okay, don't like it, don't like Iraq falling off the radar but Price is on solid ground . . . until his next sentence: "'War fatigue,' say the experts, citing a public that's just tired of hearing about the conflicts. Also to blame is the money crunch at media companies, which have sharply cut staff in those expensive war-zone bureaus." Now, in that last sentence, he handled that very well. They are "media companies," they aren't news. And they waste millions on news readers as opposed to breaking any stories via investigative journalism. So he's correct there. But these "experts"? Who the hell are they? They clearly don't know what they're speaking of and if Jay Price had read the actual report Pew put out, he would know that. From the report: "The situation in Iraq was followed very closely by 19% of the public and a similar number (17%) say they very closely followed news about the administration's review of its Afghan war strategy. The situation in Afghanistan and the review of the war's progress accounted for 5% of the newshole, while Iraq made up 1% of coverage." This was a survey os news consumers and the people put Iraq at numbr 15 on "Public's Top Stories for 2010." In addition, 19% were following it very closely. But it only made up 1% of the coverage. I don't think those figures demonstrate burnout and I'll match my research & methodology skills up against anyone else. Burnout would be somewhere around 4% or less of the public saying they were following it. Trudy Rubin gets her lumps and praises from me. And I'm sure I'll call her out (negatively) in the future (as I've done many times) and I'm sure I'll throw some earned praise her way in the future (ibid). But one thing that she needs praise for that I haven't given her recognition for is that she may be the one of the only US columnist who is still regularly going to Iraq. Her paper is the Philadelphia Inqurier but she's also syndicated throughout the US. Thomas Friedman lost interest in Iraq long ago (shortly after the war he helped sell had no "turned corner" despite his forever assuring the world a turned corner was just up ahead aways). Bob Herbert doesn't go to Iraq. Paul Krugman's got no idea what's going on in Iraq. The only columnist besides Trudy Rubin that I'm aware of regularly going to Iraq is David Ignatius (Washington Post). (National Journal may have some -- I don't generally read their columnists.) She deserves credit for that. She also deserves credit for the scope of her columns. Hopefully she'll inspire others because we could use a lot more her and a lot less Gail Collins-types who think they write cute and that might be true if we were all still in eighth grade. One of the thing Rubin's written of in 2010 especially was the fate of her driver Salam. So we'll excerpt on that topic from her latest column:
Salam spent two years in jail on false charges brought by relatives of Shiite militiamen from the Mahdi Army of radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. These militiamen, who were killing Salam's neighbors, were arrested after he tipped U.S. troops. When American soldiers left Baghdad, the killers used contacts inside Iraq's Shiite-dominated army to get Salam - and his two teenage sons - jailed.
The three were finally freed by an honest judge. But Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has now made a political deal with the Sadrists in order to finally form a government, nine months after Iraqi elections. The deal, brokered by Iran, required that large numbers of Mahdi Army thugs - like those Salam fingered - be freed from prison. This deal resurrects a fiercely anti-American group that battled U.S. forces until it was routed in 2008.
With Sadrists on the loose, Salam began receiving death threats. He told me he was going to flee Iraq (to a country that, out of concern for his safety, I won't name). No one answered when I phoned him in Baghdad.
Maliki, for his part, is still dickering over key government posts with the Sadrists, who hold a crucial bloc of 40 parliamentary seats. Iran obviously influences Sadr, who lives in Iran, as well as other political parties whose leaders troop regularly to Tehran.

Nafa Abdul Jabbar (AFP) quotes Iraqi Christian Mariam Daniel asking, "How can a mother celebrate a feast while her son was killed by the enemies of this country, how can we have a feast while my grandsons are crying for their father? Wher is the feast when I see the tears in the eyes of my daughter-in-law and her loneliness which was caused by hands covered with the blood of innocents?" Yet another wave of violence targeting Iraqi Christians is underway. This wave started October 31st with the assault on Our Lady of Salvation Church in Baghdad in which approximately 70 people were killed and at least 70 more wounded. In the waves of violence which have followed, Mosul and Baghdad have been the primary targeted areas. Many Iraqi Christians have left for northern Iraq (the KRG which has seen an influx of at least 1,000 families since the October 31st attack on the Church) or have left the country. Meanwhile Sam Dagher (Wall St. Journal) reports, "Hundreds of Christian students from towns and villages on the outskirts of Mosul have stopped attending the main university in Mosul despite offers by the Iraqi army to bus them in and out." Dagher quotes college student Anwar Matti explaining, "We just do not trust them anymore." And now Christmas approaches.
Yahya Barzanji and Sameer N. Yacoub (AP) report Christmas celebrations and any public signs of observance have been called off in Iraq by "a council representing Christian denominations" and let's step aside for just a second to grasp that this council is predominately made up of the public voices who have insisted that Iraqi Christians must stay in Iraq, who have basically issued that order leading many to wonder what was really going on? Did they want to create martyrs? If you can't worship freely, there's no reason to urge Iraqi Christians to stay in Iraq. They're no longer just under threat of violence, they're now not allowed to worship publicly. In terms of the religion being practicied, this isn't a minor detail. Marco 't Hoen (Epoch Times) adds, "Churches in Bagdad, Kirkuk, Basra, and Mosul have asked members not to decorate their houses, and the churches canceled Christmas Mass and planned Christmas celebrations." Khalid Al Qushtaini ( fears that the shared history Christianity and Islam have had in Iraq has been forgotten.
The New York Times sees fit to run a whole paragraph (that is sarcasm) on the issue (written by Jack Healy). Jomana Karadsheh (CNN) adds, "There will be no Christmas Eve mass, no Santa or decorations at some churches during Christmas or the New Year, Sako said. Some churches will continue with Christmas Day mass as usual. Cancellations don't include the relatively safe Kurdish region in northern Iraq." IRIN notes, "Hundreds of Iraqi Christians are fleeing to the northern semi-autonomous Kurdish region and particularly the town of Ankawa, which has become a safe haven for the country's Christians, thanks to its special status and privileges granted by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). Ankawa, near Erbil, KRG's capital, has a predominantly Christian population and administration, several churches and distinct Assyrian language." England's Journeyman Pictures offers this report (transcript and video -- if you don't see the clip option, click here). In the report, which aired on England's Channel 4, Lindsey Hilsum observes, "Christmas service at St. George's -- the only church in Baghdad celebrating fully this year." Jason Ditz ( observes, "Given the number of high profile killings and complaints that the Iraqi government seems disinterested in protecting them, this Christmas will be a grim one for Iraqis indeed. But at the rate they are fleeing the country, it may be one of the last ones marked at all.
Martin Chulov (Guardian) points out, "It has been the worst of years for the country's Christians, with thousands fleeing in the past month and more leaving the country during 2010 than at any time since the invasion nearly eight years ago. Christian leaders say there have been few more defining years in their 2,000-year history in central Arabia." And Our Lady of Salvation Church in Baghdad? Nafa Abdul Jabbar (AFP) reports, "Instead of Christmas deocrations, the front of the sanctuary holds a banner picturing the two priests and the worshippers killed in the attack framing an image of a bloodied Jesus on the cross, while individual pictures of victims sit below."
The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom has sounded alarms repeatedly since the last wave started and attempted to draw attention to the targeting. Richard Greene (CNN -- this is a video report) spoke with the USCIRF's Nina Shea who noted, "The worst place of all [for Christians] undoubtedly is Iraq, where there was a recent church bombing, but we've also seen church attacks and village attacks in Egypt. We saw the deportation of scores of Christians in the relatively moderate country of Morocco. There is a pastor -- a Christian pastor -- on death row for apostasy in Iran. And in Pakistan, now for the first time a Christian woman has been condemned to death for blasphemy." And USCIRF's Leonard Leo and Talal Eid pen a column for the Washington Post which includes:
The barbaric war against Christians is part of a broader attack against Iraq's non-Muslim minorities. Mandaeans, who follow John the Baptist, and Yizidis, who adhere to an angel-centered religion, have also been viciously persecuted by violent, radical Islamists. The Mandaeans in Iraq are believed to number only a few thousand, down from an estimated 50,000 to 60,000 in 2003.
For Christians, the fate of another religious minority, Iraq's Jewish community, provides a grim example of what the future may hold. Like Iraq's Christians, the Jews were there for more than 20 centuries. As of 1947, the country's Jewish population exceeded 50,000. Today only a handful remains.
For humanitarian reasons alone, the U.S. and the world must hear and heed the anguished cries of Iraqi Christians.
Yet there is another, equally compelling reason to care.
Simply stated, it is in the interests of the U.S. and the international community that Iraq becomes a force for freedom and stability in the Middle East.
If that is the goal, then the eradication of its Christian community would be a colossal setback. It would remove an educated and successful community, as well as a historically moderating force that served for centuries as a bridge between East and West. If liberty and security are to prevail over violent extremism and intolerance, bridge-building is essential.
Which is why, in the US and around the world, so many are puzzled by US President Barack Obama's silence on the issue. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton noted (and called out) the targeting of Iraqi Christians last month and US Vice President Joe Biden called it out last week while chairing a UN Security Council meeting. But Barack has remained silent and his silence continues. Leonard Leo sees the issue of leadership as a more national one and tells Richard Greene (CNN -- text report), "We've got to have governments taking ownership of these problems and enforcing the laws that exist." However, Catholic Culture reports that Italy's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Franco Frattini, is calling for Europe and the European Council to recognize the targeting and he states, "Frankly, it is a little sad that Euope isn't reacting on this issue as it should."
Turning to some of today's reported violence . . .
Reuters notes 2 Baghdad roadside bombings left one police officer wounded.
Alsumaria TV reports that an Iraqi police officer was injured in a Baghdad shooting today and that the assailants used a gun with a silencer. Reuters notes 1 police officer was shot dead in Mosul. Reuters notes 1 police officer was shot dead in Mosul.
Alsumaria TV reports 1 female corpse was discovered in Kirkuk.
In other news, Hashim Ali ( reports that and investigation into whether or not Iraq's private banks were money laundering has returned the decision that they were not and Abdul Rahman al-Mashhadani, a financial expert states, "The offices of the banking and brokerage firms may be a convenient from for money laundering process or may not but the central bank is not overseeing any laundering at the private banks." Alsumaria TV reports that Jalal Talabani, the president of Iraq, is in Turkey where he and Turkish President Abdullah Gal are discussing "bilateral relations and economic cooperation."
From Amnesty International, we'll note "Iraq must ensure release of police officer detained without charge:"

Amnesty International has called on the Iraqi authorities to free a police officer, initially detained because he was suspected of having links to armed groups, who has been held for over a month after an order for his release was made.
Qusay 'Abdel-Razaq Zabib has been held for over two years apparently on suspicion of collaborating with armed groups opposed to the Iraqi government and the presence of US forces in Iraq although no charges have ever been brought against him.
An order for his release was issued in November but he is still being held at a police station in Tikrit, where he is at risk of torture. It appears that those detaining him may be seeking to extract some sort of ransom payment from the family of Qusay 'Abdel-Razaq Zabib before releasing him.
"Iraq's new government must now intervene and ensure that the order for the release of Qusay 'Abdel-Razaq Zabib is implemented without further delay and not made subject to the payment of a ransom or other illegal obstruction," said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International's director for the Middle East and North Africa.
"After more than two years in detention without facing any charge or trial, it is high time that Qusay 'Abdel-Razaq Zabib is released and reunited with his family."
Qusay 'Abdel-Razaq Zabib worked as a police officer in the village of 'Uwaynat, near Tikrit, at the time of his arrest by US forces in July 2008.
They reportedly suspected him of having links to armed groups involved in violent attacks but never brought any charges against him.
He was still held at Camp Taji when US forces handed over control of that prison to the Iraqi government on 31 March 2010. A month earlier, the US authorities had recommended his release.
In mid-November, the Iraqi authorities at last ordered the release of Qusay 'Abdel-Razaq Zabib. He was transferred to al-Rusafa prison for one day, then on to the police station where he formerly worked, apparently in preparation for his imminent release.
Instead, the father of two has continued to be detained there.
Initially, the reason given for his continued detention was that the Anti-Terrorism bureau in Najaf was looking for an individual of the same name. However, his family were able to obtain a certificate stating that Qusay 'Abdel-Razaq Zabib is not the man wanted by the bureau.
His family have since been told repeatedly that he is to be released but he remains in custody.

the washington post
juana bordas
the daily gazette
linda letendre

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Again and again, in the same situation

"Rape Accusers 'Have to Be Treated Seriously'" (Erica C. Barnett, PubliCola):

The back story: Two women accused Wikileaks founder Julian Assange of rape. Not of “sex by surprise,” not of “a broken condom,” of rape. Sweden sought extradition from the UK for Assange’s arrest. Assange’s lawyers fought extradition, accusing Sweden’s pursuit of him as politically motivated (which it probably was—sadly, the vast majority of rape allegations don’t result in charges, much less an international manhunt) and the women as liars (which only a court can decide). They then lied to the press about what Assange was accused of doing, first saying it was an obscure Swedish offense called “sex by surprise,” then saying he was guilty, at most, of a broken condom.

Both of these claims about the charges were false. But they got picked up and repeated by prominent people, people with national platforms like Keith Olbermann and Michael Moore, who both dismissed the charges, effectively declaring Assange innocent of all charges without a trial.

And then something else happened: The actual documents—the rape charges, in which one woman said Assange ripped her clothes and pushed her down physically before having sex with her against her wishes, and the other said he initiated sex while she was asleep, after which she asked him repeatedly to stop—got leaked. (Oops.) And Julian Assange—champion of free information, leaker of countless documents—was furious about the leaks. Because once the charges themselves were leaked, no one could credibly claim that they should simply be ignored.

That’s where #mooreandme came in. NYC blogger Sady Doyle, furious that two “progressive” TV personalities, people she admired, were dismissing the women’s charges simply because they admired the man who was being accused, started a Twitter campaign asking Moore to apologize for dismissing, and acknowledge that it’s possible for a man to be a hero for free speech and simultaneously believe he could capable of doing a bad thing. Most rapists aren’t the Green River Killer. In fact many rapists are respected members of their communities—husbands, fathers, churchgoers, and neighbors.

There is no excuse for what went down, the attacking of women, the mocking of rape, all of it was an embarrassment.

Maybe it was also a teachable moment?

Maybe we learned a few things from all of this?

I'd like to hope so but I doubt that to be the case.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):

Wednesday, December 22, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, a left writer and left outlet take rape seriously, Barack Obama signs into law legislation that removes Don't Ask, Don't Tell from the books, Iraqi Christians continue to face threats, and more.
At ZNet, Dahr Jamail reports on military rape and we'll note this section:

A Command Sergeant Major told Catherine Jayne West of the Mississippi National Guard, "There aren't but two places for women -- in the kitchen or in the bedroom. Women have no place in the military."

She was raped by fellow soldier Private First Class Kevin Lemeiux, at the sprawling Camp Anaconda, north of Baghdad. The defense lawyer in court merely wanted to know why, as a member of the army, she had not fought back.

The morning after the rape, an army doctor gave her a thorough examination. The army's criminal investigation team concluded her story was true. Moreover, Lemeiux had bragged about the incident to his buddies and they had turned him in. It seemed like a closed case, but in court the defense claimed that the fact that West had not fought back during the rape was what incriminated her. In addition, her commanding officer and 1st Sergeant declared, in court, that she was a "promiscuous female."

In contrast, Lemeiux, after the third court hearing of the trial, was promoted to a Specialist. Meanwhile his lawyer entered a plea of insanity.

He was later found guilty of kidnapping but not rape, despite his own admission of the crime. He was given three years for kidnapping, half of which was knocked off.

Dahr's exploring the realities of rape. It's a shame others haven't shown the same interest in the topic. Instead, they've spent the bulk of the month shaming, trashing and attacking two women who may have been raped by Julian Assange of WikiLeaks. One of the people engaging in harmful attacks -- harmful to all women -- has been Keith Olbermann and he wonders what happens if Julian Assange isn't guilty? Kate Harding breaks it down for him:

A: That wouldn't change anything the majority of us are saying.

  • If he's not guilty, it's still a fact that he was accused of rape.
  • If he's not guilty, it's still a fact that unprotected consensual sex is perfectly legal in Sweden.
  • If he's not guilty, it's still a fact that the allegations are about far more than a broken condom.
  • If he's not guilty, it's still a fact that you didn't correct Michael Moore when he distorted all of the above facts during an interview with you.
  • If he's not guilty, it's still a fact that you personally spread ridiculous misinformation as well.
  • If he's not guilty, it's still a fact that you boosted the signal on a patently ludicrous, nakedly sexist article by an unreliable writer. [UPDATE: Olbermann just said on Twitter that he "repudiated the linked article weeks back when the author was alleged to have been a holocaust denier." I have no idea where he did that, but I'll give him the benefit of the doubt.] [UPDATE 2: On Dec. 7, he tweeted "If the author of that article is a holocaust denier, I repudiate him and what he wrote, and apologize for retweeting the link" in an @ reply to user @mcmoynihan -- meaning it would only show up in feeds of people who follow both Olbermann and Moynihan, and on Olbermann's main page -- not in his 150K+ followers' feeds. So yes, he apologized for that before #mooreandme started, but not quite publicly.)
  • If he's not guilty, it's still a fact that trivializing real rape allegations contributes to a culture in which victims are hesitant to report being raped for fear that they won't be believed.
Elaine noted that last night and explained of the attacks on the two women and those who object to the attacks on the women, "I'm tired of this nonsense where women are supposed to shut up because there's a 'bigger' issue." Rebecca highlighted Harriet J (Fugitivus) who is calling for Gloria Steinem and other name-feminists to publicly denounce Naomi Wolf's insulting statements regarding rape:
I ask that you denounce Naomi Wolf's comments on Assange's rape charges.
I ask that you denounce that "no means no" is all there is to rape.
I ask that you acknowledge that "yes means yes" is now a part of the feminist lexicon, wherever it might go, however it might evolve from here.
I ask that you acknowledge that "enthusiastic consent" is a theory highly worth pursuing.
I ask you to do this because you have names that people recognize as part of feminism. So does Naomi Wolf. And now we are all experiencing, en masse, the old phenomenon: "I know somebody who is a feminist, and they think this is fine." A big-name feminist has said, publicly, that initiating sex with a partner who is asleep is not rape. That ripping a woman's clothes off is not a force, is not a threat, is not violence, has no bearing upon the context of safety. That political targets are incapable of raping, because there can be no reason for them to be accused that is not politically motivated. This has given permission to all those who believe the same to tell us that we are wrong. The new guard, we know each other's names, but the general public doesn't know us very well yet. We do not have the weight of years of revolution behind us. When Naomi Wolf says that sleeping women can be raped legally, this becomes public knowledge. When we say, "yes means yes," the general public does not hear, and the general public does not care. They can now point to Naomi Wolf and say, "You are wrong. You are not feminism. She is. And she says I can do this to you, and you can't do anything about it."
You have names. You have voices. Please give us somebody else to point to when we are told that we can be raped in the ways Naomi Wolf has decreed are acceptable. Please let us know that we are not on our own, that we have not already broken away, and did not hear the crack until Naomi Wolf "agreed to disagree" about our bodily autonomy, our safety. Please let us know that, with one arrogant statement, feminists cannot really erase the rapes that have been experienced by countless survivors. Please let us know that you hear us, that you believe we are feminism, too. Please do not let Naomi Wolf become the voice of what is rape, because rapists were listening when she spoke, and judges, and juries, and future victims who will spend their lives believing it was their fault, and they are always saying "yes" if they are not shouting "no."
And Ann noted her objection to the insulting remarks Naomi Wolf's been making and boiled it down to, "I was raped. Naomi wasn't." Which is one more reason that Naomi should not have been allowed to represent as the face of this issue. These are not minor points. Moving to the topics of peace and resistance, David Swanson (War Is A Crime) notes:
You say protests are outmoded because the corporate media ignores them (unless they're corporate sponsored). I say the corporate media is outmoded because it ignores protests.
The coming year is going to see intense resistance to the plutopentagonocracy from volunteer representatives of that majority of Americans that opposes its agenda. We are not going to ask for the media cartel's approval or permission. We are going to continue developing our own communications systems, which are already working well.
If we abandon the work of protest and resistance, those acts will soon be criminalized. If we abandon the work of self-communication we will each come to believe that the rest of us support that criminalization. There is another way.
William T. Hathaway's new book "Radical Peace: People Refusing War," tells true stories of people helping U.S. soldiers to desert and hide, chasing military recruiters out of schools, educating young people as counter-recruitment, caring for veterans, vandalizing recruiting stations, and burning unguarded tanks and airplanes. Many people will like some of these stories and not others. Personally I thought the Afterword was dumb enough to almost ruin an otherwise remarkable and wonderful book. The point is that these are stories that it is up to us to tell each other.
As I travel the country on a book tour I hear in about equal parts from people doing extraordinary things that nobody knows about and from people complaining that nobody is doing anything. We do not have an activism shortage so much as a communications shortage. People are engaged in civil resistance to the government, the banks, and the war machine in great numbers and with stunning creativity.

It's an interesting column that becomes worthless at the end when David wants to weigh in on Panhandle Media. Panhandle Media is useless and David should know that. One of his best friends semi-publicly called it out -- it was there for all to hear (I heard it, I agreed with the call, I didn't emphasize it here because I know how petty they are in the Circle Jerk and that ____ would have been banned from the reigndeer games if the comments were widely distributed). Of his list, if she's not focusing on electoral politics, Laura Flanders is the only one of any value (and I say that as someone with a very good FSRN friend). In terms of peace and resistance, Laura can do a show on that (and does) and no one can touch her. It's a shame she's sullied her image and name by becoming a Democratic Party cheerleader. (Although, in fairness, her program has been co-opted by The Nation magazine.) And, point of fact, we don't need to invest in any of these programs. You're looking for answers outside of yourself and that's why you're failing. I'll be damn honest, Elaine, Ava and I are never giving a damn penny to Panhandle Media again. (I can still be guilted into KPFA donations if enough KPFA friends whine about the station going under.) It's useless, it doesn't focus on the things that matter (ending wars) but works overtime to whore for the Democratic Party. Every program David lists whored for the Democratic Party in 2008 instead of making demands, instead of staying focused on the wars. That's reality and we're not tossing money out to that and we're telling everyone else not to either. There's no point in it. We don't need Washington Week "but for the left!" We never did.
The left would be smart to realize that most of the money they once had access to is gone because they whored. When they did that, they ensured that those of us who are not going to lie for the Democratic Party will not give money. And those who are happy with the whoring? They'll always put the money into the Democratic Party first and foremost. That's reality.
Reality is also that most programs don't need a budget these days and Air America Radio was a success -- BRIEFLY -- when it was working on the streaming model. Those first few months, AAR was a success. Yes, you will miss people without computers but considering how the left -- especially the Socialist left -- has attacked the White poor in this country over and over in the last two years, that might actually be a plus.
David believes that Big Money's coming. I don't think so. I think the left that wants to build would be smart to look at how they build one-on-one and grasp that they can do that on a larger scale without needing anyone else. You have the answers inside you and the power is within your grasp. Focusing on a Big Daddy is just a cop out that allows you to justify your own inaction. (David Swanson is on the road currently and is quite often on the road, I'm speaking of the left in general.)
But let me make it clear (and Elaine has many times at her site), we gave to all the left. Democratic, Socialist, Communist, etc. We didn't care. The point was to end the Iraq War and to get rid of Bush. (Not to get rid of Bush and replace him with a repackaged version.) Those days are gone. That money was wasted. Not because the illegal war continues (although it does) but because people whored. That was especially appalling when it came from Socialist and Communists whom you would think would have the good sense not to sully themselves by whoring for a political party they're not a member of. There is no song-and-dance that will sway me again. My donations go to children's causes and issues I believe in such as feminism, LGBT rights and immigration rights. I have no use for the so-called 'organized left.' That's true of a large number of wealthy, left women today, we're sick of it. And these attacks on the two women who may have been raped only ensure that we remain sick of it. Why the hell would any self-respecting woman fork over big money to support a system that repeatedly kicks us and our rights to the curb? Get real, the money's gone. Many men agree with us and the bulk of the men that might give are engaged in the pissing match with Warren Buffet.
The real answer is for people to use their own power. That means writing stories to be widely distributed -- and noting that they can be widely distributed -- doing the same with photos and with videos. There's no need for the press -- not even the Beggar Media. David Swanson participated in last Thursday's action in DC as did author, activist and journalist Chris Hedges who reflects on it at Information Clearing House:
The speeches were over. There was a mournful harmonica rendition of taps. The 500 protesters in Lafayette Park in front of the White House fell silent. One hundred and thirty-one men and women, many of them military veterans wearing old fatigues, formed a single, silent line. Under a heavy snowfall and to the slow beat of a drum, they walked to the White House fence. They stood there until they were arrested.
The solemnity of that funerary march, the hush, was the hardest and most moving part of Thursday's protest against the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. It unwound the bitter memories and images of war I keep wrapped in the thick cotton wool of forgetfulness. I was transported in that short walk to places I do not like to go. Strange and vivid flashes swept over me -- the young soldier in El Salvador who had been shot through the back of the head and was, as I crouched next to him, slowly curling up in a fetal position to die; the mutilated corpses of Kosovar Albanians in the back of a flatbed truck; the screams of a woman, her entrails spilling out of her gaping wounds, on the cobblestones of a Sarajevo street. My experience was not unique. Veterans around me were back in the rice paddies and lush undergrowth of Vietnam, the dusty roads of southern Iraq or the mountain passes of Afghanistan. Their tears showed that. There was no need to talk. We spoke the same wordless language. The butchery of war defies, for those who know it, articulation.
What can I tell you about war?
War perverts and destroys you. It pushes you closer and closer to your own annihilation -- spiritual, emotional and, finally, physical. It destroys the continuity of life, tearing apart all systems, economic, social, environmental and political, that sustain us as human beings. War is necrophilia. The essence of war is death. War is a state of almost pure sin with its goals of hatred and destruction. It is organized sadism. War fosters alienation and leads inevitably to nihlism. It is a turning away from the sanctity of life.
There were many actions on Thursday. Grandmothers Against the War's Joan Wile is the author of Grandmothers Against the War: Getting Off Our Fannies and Standing Up for Peace. Joan took part in an NYC action last Thursday and she writes:
Approximately 75 people braved the freezing temperatures on the afternoon of Thursday, Dec. 16 to rally against the war in Afghanistan. They gathered on Military Island, the small traffic island housing the Times Square recruiting station (now laughably tagged the Army Career Center) as a sympathy rally for the one held in D.C. earlier that day at the White House, during which 135 people were arrested.
In Times Square, 11 stalwarts blocked a stretch of Broadway for about 10 minutes before they were handcuffed and hauled off by the New York City police to a nearby jail.
The Big Apple event was populated by many Veterans for Peace and lots of peace grannies from the Granny Peace Brigade, the Raging Grannies and
Grandmothers Against the War. Two of the grandmothers were in their 90's but stood for more than an hour in the cold throughout the action. There was a contingent of Catholic Workers, War Resister Leaguers, the Green Party, and other anti-war groups, also.
After the Raging Grannies sang a few of their peace songs, names of New York State war dead in Afghanistan were read. Then, leaders in the peace movement spoke, including Bill Gilson, Vice President of local chapter 34 of Veterans for Peace; Carmen Trotta of the Catholic Workers; Barbara Harris, chair of the Counter Recruitment Committee of the Granny Peace Brigade; Tom Syracuse of the Green Party, and Alicia Godberg, Executive Director of Peace Action New York State.
And then came the civil resistance, at exactly 6 p.m. As the Times Square crowds swarmed around, the bright lights sparkled and flashed, 11 hardy souls fanned out across Broadway at the intersection with 44th St. and refused to move. The other rally participants shouted "Peace Now," "Stop the War," "Arrest Bush and Cheney, not these Patriots," as they observed their comrades loaded into the paddy wagons.
The event was organized by one of the arrestees, Bill Steyert, a Vietnam war vet with the Vets for Peace, who said: "I think it was a travesty that the war in Afghanistan wasn't even brought up as an issue during the recent mid-term elections. This tragic war jeopardizes not only the lives of American troops but directly affects our economy, which is in such dire shape because money spent on war is urgently needed to create jobs at home. This rally showed that those of
us who were there have not forgotten what's going on in Afghanistan in our name."
Turning to Iraq, Liz Sly and Aaron Davis (Washington Post) note, "A special gathering of the nation's parliament endorsed Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki for a second term in office, with lawmakers then voting one by one for 31 of the eventual 42 ministers who will be in his cabinet." AFP notes that all but one is a man, Bushra Hussein Saleh being the sole woman in the Cabinet. And they quote Kurdish MP Ala Talabani stating, "We congratulate the government, whose birth required eight months, but at the same time we are very depressed when we see the number of women chosen to head the ministries. Today, democracy was decapitated by sexism. The absence of women is a mark of disdain and is contrary to several articles of the constitution. I suggest to Mr Maliki to even choose a man for the ministry of women's rights, as you do not have confidence in women." Ala Talabani is the niece of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani. Imran Ali (Womens Views On News) reminds, "The new constitution stipulates that a quarter of the members of parliament be women and prohibits gender discrimination." Apparently concern about representation doesn't apply to the Cabinet (and, no, Nouri's attempts at offering excuses for the huge gender imbalance do not fly). John Leland (New York Times) writes about the reactions of Iraqis and we'll note Anbar Province because the State Dept thinks/fears it's the new hot spot in Iraq:
For Ikram Rijab Abdullah, 38, the results left a bitter taste. "Our ambition was to form a government by Allawi and the important ministries to go to the Iraqiya bloc, because the it's the only bloc that included patriotic people," Mr. Abdullah said. "But what happened has disappointed us." The haggling, he said, was pure politics, with most ministries going to "unqualified people." He added: "We as citizens have done what we were supposed to do and what is happening nowadays has been imposed by American and regional interests."
His neighbor, Anmar Saadi Al-A'ani, 34, was even less optimistic about the new government, which included many members of the previous cabinet. "We were hoping to see new faces pumping new blood into the heart of the new government and to be national names." The chosen ministers, he said, did not reflect the country's many qualified candidates.
The Christian Science Monitor's editorial board argues, "The time is now ripe for Washington to prepare for an Iraq -- a nation that once had little democratic tradition and invaded two of its neighbors -- that can be a key partner in reshaping the Middle East, much like the role Germany plays in Europe or Japan in Asia. Americans should expect no less, after more than 1.5 million US soldiers served in Iraq with a loss of more than 4,440 American lives and tens of thousands of Iraqis. The two nations are now inextricably bound by a contentious history born of post-9/11 fears but also hopes for a Middle East that can be rid of jihadism through contagious democracy." Glenn McNatt (Baltimore Sun) offers, "Prime Minister al-Maliki has expressed confidence that the unity government he leads reflects the diversity of ethnic, sectarian and political interests in Iraq, but there are still questions about how meaningful a role the country's Sunni minority will play. If Iraq is to become the peaceful, prosperous example of democracy in the Mideast that the U.S. wishes it to be, it's vital that Mr. al-Maliki make good on his promises to lead a truly representative government that offers the hope of a better life for all its citizens." Meanwhile Liz Sly (Washington Post) explores Nouri:
That Maliki has an authoritarian streak has been amply demonstrated over the past 4 1/2 years, critics say. Maliki, originally selected in 2006 as a compromise candidate assumed to be weak and malleable, has proved to be a tough and ruthless political operator who cannily subverted parliament to cement his authority over many of the new democracy's fledgling institutions.
In his role as commander in chief of the armed forces, he replaced divisional army commanders with his appointees, brought provincial command centers under his control and moved to dominate the intelligence agencies.
The widely feared Baghdad Brigade, which answers directly to Maliki's office, has frequently been used to move against his political opponents. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have accused him of operating secret prisons in which Sunni suspects have been tortured.

Reuters notes an attack on a Baghdad military checkpoint which claimed the life of 1 Iraqi solider and left three more injured and a Baghdad sticky bombing whidh injured "a senior official at the Ministry of Health".
Yesterday came news that Kirkuk would not publicly celebrate Christmas. AP reports this means no decorations, no "traditional Santa Claus appearance outside one of the city's churches" and that Mosul has followed Kirkuk's lead as the Islamic State of Iraq issued a threat yesterday that more Christians would be attacked. We noted Amnesty's statement yesterday but the US version (we noted the UK) contains an audio option. The latest wave of attacks on Iraqi Christians began October 31st with the assault on Our Lady of Salvation Church in Baghdad. Since then Iraqi Christians in Baghdad and Mosul have been especially targeted with many fleeing the country or fleeing to the KRG region of Iraq. The Herald Sun reports, "At Our Lady of Salvation Church, the bloodied hand prints of murdered members of the congregation remain on the walls, which are riddled with bullet holes and one family of victims -- Zuher and Amal, their son Uday and their grandson (by Uday) Adam and the family is among those considering leaving Baghdad. Middle East Online reports:

Jerusalem's Latin Patriarch Fuad Twal offered his solidarity and support to Christians in Iraq after a bloody October hostage-taking at a Baghdad cathedrak that killed 44 worshippers, two priests and seven security force personnel.
"We were shocked and troubled by the massacre of Christians in Baghdad in the Church of Perpetual Help," Twal said in his Jerusalem headquarters.
"We condemn this violence. It's a pity to empty Iraq of its Christian citizens... It's a pity for us, for the Muslims themselves, for Iraq, for the Christians themselves.
Yahya Barzanji and Sameer N. Yacoub (AP) report Basra and Baghdad have now called off festivities as well and not only will now allow decorations there will be no "evening Mass" held either. -- in Baghdad, that's mo Christmas Eve Mass and no Christmas Day mass. Deutsche Presse-Agentur observes, "Iraq's northern areas are home to some of the oldest Christian sects in the world." Mustafa Mahmoud (Reuters) quotes Kirkuk-based Archbishop Louis Sako stating, "We are still deeply wounded from what happened in Our Lady of Salvation church. We saw innocent people brutally killed while praying to God, so how can we celebrate? We will not celebrate this year. We will only pray to God asking for peace to prevail in our country." England's Channel 4 reports on their blog:
In Iraq, people say there were maybe a million Christians in 2003 -- 3 per cent of the population -- but at least half have left and those remaining now want to go too, as extremist Islamists step up their campaign against "infidels". Many of those I've met in the last week say there's no future for Christians in Iraq -- it's over.
Yet Christianity was in Mesopotamia -- what we now call Iraq -- several centuries before Islam. The Chaldeans and Syriac Christians of today speak Aramaic, the language Jesus would have spoken. The reason so much attention is being lavished on the murder of Christians is not because their lives are worth more than the lives of Muslims, but because an ancient civilisation is in danger of being wiped out.
On Sunday afternoon, I went to St George's Anglican church where an English vicar is trying to stem the tide. The indefatigable Canon Andrew White, who doesn't let the progression of multiple sclerosis hinder him, attracted several hundred to his Christmas carol service. It was wonderfully, eccentrically English and Iraqi.
McClatchy Newspapers' Shashank Bengali (McClatchy Newspapers) reports there were only "three worshippers" present at Our Lady of Salvation Church this morning: "One was a girl, a tiny brunette of no more than 10 years old, who walked to the front of the church clutching her school report card. She knelt at the altar in front of a picture of her cousin, who was inside the church during evening mass on Oct. 31, when terrorist stormed the building and took the worshippers hostage before detonating suicide vests. Dozens were killed, including the girl's cousin." (Bengali's piece also appears -- a bit expanded -- at the Christian Science Monitor.) Barnabas Aid quotes their director, Dr. Patrick Sookhdeo, stating, "In our ongoing efforts to make known the desperate state of Christians around the world, it often seems that nobody outside the Church cares. So I greatly welcome these newspaper and television reports which will publicise the crisis facing Christians in Iraq and other parts of the Middle East to a wide audience." Carl Davidson writes the editorial board of the Battle Creek Enquirer and offers, "President Obama properly condemned Quran-burning but declined a response to the Pope's urgent call to save Christian Iraqis' innocent lives with the same level of security provided for U.S.-China oil contractors. Why this supine abandonment as we celebrate 2010 Christmas? He's visited numerous mosques, but not one Iraqi church in Chicago." Independent Catholic News notes an open letter to US President Barack Obama which will be handed to National Security Advisor Tom Donilon ("who has agreed to discuss the letter with the president"):
As deeply committed legislators and members of parliaments from around the world, we are writing to express our concern about the ongoing persecution of religious minorities in Iraq and the wider Middle East. We do appreciate additional high-level attention and resources devoted to mitigating the ongoing and egregious persecution of Christians and other minority religious communities in Iraq, and wish to convey our pressing interest in assisting with increased efforts to reverse this devastating trend. Christians are rapidly becoming extinct in Iraq and other Middle Eastern countries and this development is not in the interest of peace and stability in this troubled region.
As anyone involved with international security efforts in Iraq well knows, the severity of the persecution of the Christian community in Iraq , which has for centuries served an important stabilizing role both in economic and political terms, threatens not only that ancient community, but the entire foundation of Iraq 's civil democracy. Efforts to help establish and protect that democracy have cost many of our countries dearly, and these sacrifices bear silent witness to the urgency of our desire to work with you to take our mutual efforts to a new level. But it is imperative that the United States takes a leadership role in this regard.
A thriving and actively engaged Iraqi Christian community is vital to assuring the future stability of Iraq, and its presence or absence will bear heavily on future prospects for stability throughout the Middle East . We are convinced that one indispensible measure of the success of years of grueling effort to help stabilize Iraq, and indeed Iraq's very survival as a pluralistic democracy, is the extent to which Christian and other minority religious communities are able to live and move freely without constant fear of intimidation and brutal violence. This especially concerns the freedom to worship and the freedom to express their faith publicly.
We fully appreciate all efforts, often undertaken in the midst of arduous circumstances, which are currently underway to bring relief to hundreds of thousands of displaced persons and those that continue to flee their homeland at record pace to find safe refuge from terrorist attacks. However, we remain gravely concerned about the vulnerable survivors of numerous and ongoing attacks on churches, including the most recent assault on Our Lady of Deliverance Church in Baghdad, and the families devastated in October 2008 when more than 1.5 million people who were forced to evacuate from Mosul pursuant to attacks on Christians there. We are also horrified by gruesome accounts of gunmen who have broken into Christian homes to kill civilians, as well as reports of elderly Christians found strangled to death in their own homes. It is staggering to think that half of all Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their country since 2003. And the exodus continues with thousands of Iraqi Christians fleeing their country on a weekly basis.
Given the newly evolving political dynamics following recent elections and the ongoing transition of security responsibilities, we are eager to lend our voices and resources to help protect Iraq's vulnerable minority religious communities during this fragile interim period. We are committed to working together to help ensure that our governments boost the effectiveness of mutual cooperation to defuse the ongoing crisis on the ground, and urge you and other heads of state to push the Iraqi government to prioritize and implement a strategy aimed at protecting Iraqi citizens of all religions and offer them a real future in the country. We look forward to working with you to successfully augment existing efforts to investigate religiously-motivated violence and human rights abuses, deter and disrupt attacks, protect vulnerable persons and communities, and vigorously prosecute those responsible for criminal offenses.
The United States has a unique leadership role in furthering the cause of religious freedom in Iraq and the whole of the Middle East. Please be assured of our commitment to assisting in any and all appropriate actions to secure immediate, united, transparent, and lasting relief for Iraq's devastated Christian and other minority religious communities.
Meanwhile Phil Sands (The National) reports from Syria on Iraqi refugees in that country and he focuses on Neysan Jibro Hermes who had remained in Baghdad through wave after wave of violence; however, the attack on Our Lady of Salvation Church was the last straw so the 68-year-old man and his family sought sanctuary in Syria and he has a response to those politicians in Iraq who insist that Iraqi Christians should remain in Iraq: "It's easy for them to say that. They have bodyguards, they have money for a security team to protect them and their families. Politicians are rich and they are safe, we are poor, we walk in the street alone. It will take one bullet to kill me." And to restate our opinion at this site: Any Iraqi who wishes to remain has a right to feel protected and should. Staying is a decision only that person can make. So is leaving. If someone feels unsafe, they should be able to leave and they should be able to find a host country without jumping through a thousand hoops.
In the United States today, at the White House, US President Barack Obama had a signing ceremony. Anna Mulrine (Christian Science Monitor) reports, "President Obama signed the bill Wednesday to end the 17-year ban on openly gay troops in the military, declaring at a White House ceremony that the legislation will 'strengthen our national security and uphold the ideals our fighting men and women risk their lives to defend'." We'll note some of Barack's remarks: "And he knew that valor and sacrifice are no more limited by sexual orientation than they are by race or by gender or by religion or by creed; that what made it possible for him to survive the battlefields of Europe is the reason that we are here today. That's the reason we are here today. So this morning, I am proud to sign a law that will bring an end to 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell.' It is a law -- this law I'm about to sign will strengthen our national security and uphold the ideals that our fighting men and women risk their lives to defend. No longer will our country be denied the service of thousands of patriotic Americans who were forced to leave the military -– regardless of their skills, no matter their bravery or their zeal, no matter their years of exemplary performance -– because they happen to be gay. No longer will tens of thousands of Americans in uniform be asked to live a lie, or look over their shoulder, in order to serve the country that they love. As Admiral Mike Mullen has said, "Our people sacrifice a lot for their country, including their lives. None of them should have to sacrifice their integrity as well." It would be great if Congress passed a law that did all of that. But that's not what happened. Saturday, the Senate passed the bill the House already had. Ed O'Keefe (Washington Post) has a roundup of reactions here. It's a victory for those serving. A victory for LGBT rights? In the abstract. In the concrete? Read the bill that passed:

H.R.2965 -- Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act of 2010 (Engrossed Amendment House - EAH)

HR 2965 EAH

In the House of Representatives, U. S.,

December 15, 2010.
Resolved, That the House agree to the amendment of the Senate to the bill (H.R. 2965) entitled 'An Act to amend the Small Business Act with respect to the Small Business Innovation Research Program and the Small Business Technology Transfer Program, and for other purposes.', with the following


In lieu of the matter proposed to be inserted by the amendment of the Senate, insert the following:


This Act may be cited as the 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act of 2010'.


(a) Comprehensive Review on the Implementation of a Repeal of 10 U.S.C. 654-

(1) IN GENERAL- On March 2, 2010, the Secretary of Defense issued a memorandum directing the Comprehensive Review on the Implementation of a Repeal of 10 U.S.C. 654 (section 654 of title 10, United States Code).

(2) OBJECTIVES AND SCOPE OF REVIEW- The Terms of Reference accompanying the Secretary's memorandum established the following objectives and scope of the ordered review:

(A) Determine any impacts to military readiness, military effectiveness and unit cohesion, recruiting/retention, and family readiness that may result from repeal of the law and recommend any actions that should be taken in light of such impacts.

(B) Determine leadership, guidance, and training on standards of conduct and new policies.

(C) Determine appropriate changes to existing policies and regulations, including but not limited to issues regarding personnel management, leadership and training, facilities, investigations, and benefits.

(D) Recommend appropriate changes (if any) to the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

(E) Monitor and evaluate existing legislative proposals to repeal 10 U.S.C. 654 and proposals that may be introduced in the Congress during the period of the review.

(F) Assure appropriate ways to monitor the workforce climate and military effectiveness that support successful follow-through on implementation.

(G) Evaluate the issues raised in ongoing litigation involving 10 U.S.C. 654.

(b) Effective Date- The amendments made by subsection (f) shall take effect 60 days after the date on which the last of the following occurs:

(1) The Secretary of Defense has received the report required by the memorandum of the Secretary referred to in subsection (a).

(2) The President transmits to the congressional defense committees a written certification, signed by the President, the Secretary of Defense, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, stating each of the following:

(A) That the President, the Secretary of Defense, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have considered the recommendations contained in the report and the report's proposed plan of action.

(B) That the Department of Defense has prepared the necessary policies and regulations to exercise the discretion provided by the amendments made by subsection (f).

(C) That the implementation of necessary policies and regulations pursuant to the discretion provided by the amendments made by subsection (f) is consistent with the standards of military readiness, military effectiveness, unit cohesion, and recruiting and retention of the Armed Forces.

(c) No Immediate Effect on Current Policy- Section 654 of title 10, United States Code, shall remain in effect until such time that all of the requirements and certifications required by subsection (b) are met. If these requirements and certifications are not met, section 654 of title 10, United States Code, shall remain in effect.

(d) Benefits- Nothing in this section, or the amendments made by this section, shall be construed to require the furnishing of benefits in violation of section 7 of title 1, United States Code (relating to the definitions of `marriage' and `spouse' and referred to as the 'Defense of Marriage Act').

(e) No Private Cause of Action- Nothing in this section, or the amendments made by this section, shall be construed to create a private cause of action.

(f) Treatment of 1993 Policy-

(1) TITLE 10- Upon the effective date established by subsection (b), chapter 37 of title 10, United States Code, is amended--

(A) by striking section 654; and

(B) in the table of sections at the beginning of such chapter, by striking the item relating to section 654.

(2) CONFORMING AMENDMENT- Upon the effective date established by subsection (b), section 571 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1994 (10 U.S.C. 654 note) is amended by striking subsections (b), (c), and (d).



2d Session

H.R. 2965


Don't Ask, Don't Tell is repealed. That's a good thing. But don't confuse that with the Congress putting some on the books that prevents discrimination based upon sexual orientation because that didn't happen. All they did was wipe the books clean. That took us back to 1992 before Don't Ask, Don't Tell existed. And, under Barack, that may mean gays and lesbians can serve openly in the military but it's a short-term fix if and when a Republican gets into office and decides to change it. How can that happen? After 50 years of gays and lesbians serving openly, it would require a major witch hunt and/or scare. But two or six years from now? It wouldn't be too hard to create some 'studies' that 'find' the military was harmed and to get the talking points in order. I'm not saying that'll happen but I am saying that's why in cases where we DO NOT want discrimination, we outlaw discrimination. The Congress didn't outlaw it. All they did was remove Don't Ask, Don't Tell from the books. (In fact, section 2's subsections "d" and "e" spit on equality, or are we not supposed to notice that?) And as Yochi Dreazen (National Journal) noted earlier this month: "Not So Fast -- Even if "don't ask, don't tell" is repealed tomorrow, openly gay troops won't have the same benefits that straight ones do. Months, or even years, of legal and political wrangling could follow before gays and their partners are fully welcomed into the ranks of the nation's military. The end of don't ask, don't tell is not the end of the story."

One of the strongest fighters for full equality this year has been Lt Dan Choi. Saturday he weighed in on the Senate passage and what was still needed:
No revolution towards justice ever went backwards. To all the supporters of equality and Don't Ask Don't Tell's death, I am so grateful. The road has not been easy. We have learned many important lessons about social justice, movements, supporting each other, and speaking out against discrimination.
The mission is not finished; it has only just begun. The most critical mission is supporting and encouraging closeted soldiers to finally access their full integrity, dignity, and humanity. This mission is in keeping with the first lessons learned at West Point or basic training. As the legislation signals a new chapter in our journey, we can be sure that our work has only begun. I call on all soldiers to gain the courage to come out. First come out to yourselves, then tell your trusted friends and family. Tell everyone who you trust and who deserves nothing less than truth. Stop hating yourselves as your country has signaled for so long. Furthermore, your coming out is not for you. It is for all those who come after. Military service is not about rank, pension or paycheck. Climbing the ladder is shameful without true purity of service and I applaud those who give up the superficial artifacts of career in favor of complete integrity and justice.
I denounce the fear-mongering of John McCain and others who do our country a grave disservice by their bigotry and calcified retardation. His outlandish remarks that justice will result in amputations demonstrates the ridiculousness of his entire argument. His silliness proves the fight for justice has no real logical debate; you are on one side or the other. John McCain, you are on the wrong side of history. Your feet wade in the toxic septic waste of rabid hate-mongers who perpetuate America's injustice. It is your argument that has been amputated today; your claims have no legs to stand.
President Obama, you are not off the hook. The compromise bill passed today puts the moral imperative squarely on your desk. Sign an executive order instituting a full non-discrimination policy throughout the military. If you do not, if you drag your feet and politicize this with your theoretical calculations as you have these past two years, you will be guilty of abetting those who loudly proclaim homophobia from their platforms and pulpits. Provide them no shelter or safe haven. Institute justice now.
Do not compare this to the integration of racial and religious minorities in the 1940's and 1950's. Integration of gay people has already happened. This is one inherent difference between our civil rights movement and that of the past decades. We are integrated, we simply fight for our Integrity. As each civil rights movement fights for access to a particular resource, it is clear that the gay rights movement fights for access to dignity and our own integrity. This struggle only begins.
I intend to rejoin the military and serve in any capacity I can be of best use. I intend to marry and have a family of my own. We are living in a truly historic moment where we can enjoy the rewards of our efforts. We stand on the shoulders of many who have come before us, from Air Force Technical Sergeant Leonard Matlovich to our present day heroes. We owe it to them to continue fighting. Our loudness does not distract but enhances the fight. Our direct action puts wind in the sails of lobbyists and political elites who do our bidding on the inside. We are one team with one goal: Equality in our lifetime. I do not intend to waver or retreat in pursuit of this new life purpose and mission, and neither should any American who loves justice.