Wednesday, December 29, 2010


Yesterday's post led to a lot of questions. (Thank you to Sunny for writing them down as she read through the e-mails.)

No, "Duck Soup" is not my all time favorite movie. It is a favorite, to be sure, but it actually meshed well (too well) with my long day yesterday.

My favorite movie is "The Apartment" with Shirley MacLaine and Jack Lemmon -- my favorite of all time.

What about war movies? Don't they bring me peace?

Not generally. Maybe I watch different kinds than my readers?

I do love "Coming Home" and the whole "I'm uptight and reserved and you can tell it because I straighten my hair" versus "I'm sexy and free just like my hair" subplot.

I'm being silly but I do love "Coming Home."

That's probably my favorite of the war movies.

I love it mainly for Sally & Vi's friendship and Sally & Luke's romance.

Yes, I do love Jodie Foster films (two people asked why I didn't). I did not try to start a Jodie section in my collection. But over the years, I've got pretty much everything from "Silence" onward that she's done. It wasn't planned. I just tend to enjoy her movies.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):

Wednesday, December 29, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, the KRG worries about a military coup, Mosul is slammed with suicide bombers, and more.
Mosul slammed with suicide bombers today. Alsumaria TV reports it was 6 suicide bombers, that they attacked a police station in Mosul, that police managed to shoot dead three of them, that one fled and one detonated taking the life of Shamel Akla (also spelled Shamil Oglaq in some press reports) while the police chief was targeted with a roadside bombings (which he survived). BBC News counts three suicide bombers, says one was killed by police and has the other two entering the police station where they set off their bombs. The BBC's numbers and narrative match with Sinana Salaheddin's AP report. AFP adds that 3 other police officers were killed in the attack and they cite an unnamed police officer calling this the fifth attempt on Oglaq's life. John Leland (New York Times) reports 1 bomber blew himself up outside the station, two charged in and detonated "killing the police commander, Lt. Col. Shamel Ahmed al-Jabori, who was asleep in his quarters, according to the head of the provincial security and defense committee, Abdulrahem al-Shermari. The blast brought down the building, trapping others inside. Local officials said they did not know how many people were killed or wounded." Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) notes, "Several officers were unaccounted for after the blast and rescue crews were at the scene late Wednesday morning scouring through the wreckage of the building, looking for them." In other violence, Reuters notes a Baghdad roadside bombing injured two civilians, an attack on a Baghdad police patrol which left two police officers injured, a Salman Pak sticky bombing which injured a judge, a Baghdad sticky bombing which claimed 1 life and injured another person and, dropping back to yesterday, a Baghdad sticky bombing targeting a Sahwa who was left unharmed. John Leland (New York Times) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing which claimed the life of 1 Iraqi soldier and left five more injured.

Yesterday, attacks in Mosul claimed 8 lives. Mosul is in Nineveh Province and, from yesterday's snapshot, we'll note this on the political unrest and political connections:

Hamid al-Zubaidi (Iraq Hurr) reports that last night in Mosul, the Presidency of the Conference of Nineveh, calls were made for the removal of the governor of Nineveh Province (Ethel Nujaifi also spelled Atheel al-Najafi). It's been a busy second half of the year for Nujaifi. In August, he was nearly assassinated, in September he condemned a US raid in Mosul and the arrests which followed, dubbing them "politically motivated," October saw further tensions between the Provincial Council and Nujaifi and that Nujaifi was angling for the post of Foreign Minister (Hoshyar Zebari had the post at that time and Zebari holds the post in last week's 'new' announced Cabinet) and, along with many other activities, he also helped delay the census. Last night in Mosul, Nujaifi was accused of overstepping his role and exceeding his powers due to various alleged abuses including the appointment of a mayor whom he allegedly has ties to. His brother is Osama Najafi who is the new Speaker of Parliament. New Sabah reports Osama Najafi is raising the issues of salaries in the Parliament -- Jalal Talabani's and the two vice presidents. As President of Iraq, Talabani's salary "is more than the salary of [US] President Barack Obama." It is agued that laws are needed to address this -- the same argument was made in the previous Parliament. Nujaifi, who surprised many by disclosing his own finances in a Monday Parliament session, is calling for other MPs and Cabinet ministers to do the same.

Meanwhile the national government. The New York Times' editorial board weighs in today with "An Iraqi Government, Finally" that gets taken in by Sam Dagher's 'reporting' the way so many of the rest of us did early yesterday morning. They provide a fleeting overview. They do manage to note there is only one woman in Nouri's Cabinet. That's about it. The editorial could have been written a few months ago. Most outlets (Baltimore Sun, Washington Post, etc.) wrote their 'new government' editorials last week -- when the Cabinet was announced (Tuesday of last week was the Parliament vote). An editorial that's allegedly about a cabinet should note that Nouri's holding three posts in addition to PM and that the three additional posts are part of at least ten posts that were not filled. That's fairly basic and those who turn their assignments in late are really required to offer something outstanding.
On the issue of the still unsettled Cabinet, Alsumaria TV is reporting on ongoing squabbles over one post. They note, "In a statement over Kurds' demands to take over one of the security ministries, National Alliance MP Ali Shallah affirmed that there is no political agreement between Kurds and Al Maliki over allocating the National Security Ministry to Kurdistan Alliance." And they note: "National Alliance MP Nada Al Soudani affirmed that Iraq's security ministries will not be subject to political apportionment. In a statement to Alsumaria, Al Soudani noted that plans to choose security ministers among independent figures might be hindered." That's two members of the National Alliance (Shi'ite bloc) who've felt the need to go on the record today insisting that the Kurds had no automatic hold on the National Security Ministry. Alsabaah reports that the plan is to announce the post next week and quotes a colleague of Nouri's insisting "al-Maliki refused to be pressured on this issue of selecting the Minister of Security." And they remind that Nouri only named 29 posts last week (plus the 3 he named himself to) while there are 42 positions. There are also calls from the National Alliance for the process to be speeded up and for more women to be named with the latter calls being led by the Virtue Party's Kamilp Moussawi who notes that the last Cabinet had 7 women ministers. In addition, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani has received a letter from female MPs formally protesting the marginalization of women in the Cabinet. As noted last Wednesday, among the female MPs protesting the inequality is Ala Talabani, Jalal's niece. On the issue of Kurds in Baghdad, Saman Basharati (Rudaw) reports that 1,000 peshmerga (Kurdish forces) have been sent to the city due to rumors "of a military coup" and "This is the first time since 2003 that a top Kurdish official has acknowledged the threat to Kurdish politicians of a military coup." In other unrest, Sinan Salaheddin (AP) reports on a mood -- move? -- in Basra that continues to argue for the city to become its own region -- not unlike the KRG in the north -- and it would certainly have the oil riches to fund any adventures. It also has a highly important sea port as well as Basra International Airport. There have been two efforts at forcing a vote on the issue and Salaheddin reports a third may emerge now that Nouri has named his (partial) Cabinet finally. The Economist observes, "The biggest worry is over the failure so far to name three 'power ministers' to run interior, defense and national security. Until those posts have been allotted, Mr Maliki will hold them himself. He has already shown a tendency to use the police and army for his own political ends, so the sooner they are dished out the better. In any event, it is vital for Iraq's future that they fall under civilian control and do not become political fiefs."
Yesterday, Sam Dagher dominated the news as only a spinner can do after he filed "Iraq Wants the U.S. Out" which opened:

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki ruled out the presence of any U.S. troops in Iraq after the end of 2011, saying his new government and the country's security forces were capable of confronting any remaining threats to Iraq's security, sovereignty and unity.
Mr. Maliki spoke with The Wall Street Journal in a two-hour interview, his first since Iraq ended nine months of stalemate and seated a new government after an inconclusive election, allowing Mr. Maliki to begin a second term as premier.
A majority of Iraqis -- and some Iraqi and U.S. officials -- have assumed the U.S. troop presence would eventually be extended, especially after the long government limbo. But Mr. Maliki was eager to draw a line in his most definitive remarks on the subject. "The last American soldier will leave Iraq" as agreed, he said, speaking at his office in a leafy section of Baghdad's protected Green Zone. "This agreement is not subject to extension, not subject to alteration. It is sealed."

And then Dagher quickly moved on to other topics. There's reporting and there's lying. When we wrote yesterday morning, we noted Nouri's pattern and other things that Dagher should have noted in his article. The Wall St. Journal, so thrilled to finally have a scoop (have they had even one since Murdoch took over the paper), quickly released the transcript of Dagher's interview and uh-oh, not quite as definitive as he painted it.

In the third paragraph of the excerpt above, he quotes Nouri stating, "The last American soldier will leave Iraq." And then he jumps to "This agreement is not subject to extension, not subject to alteration. It is sealed." Let's go to the transcript and I'm going to put what Dagher quoted in italics:
The last American soldier will leave Iraq. Secondly this agreement is sealed and at the time we designated it as sealed and not subject to extension, except if the new government with Parliament's approval wanted to reach a new agreement with America, or another country, that's another matter. This agreement is not subject to extension, not subject to alteration, it is sealed, it expires on Dec. 31

Wow. Journalistic malpractice before our own eyes. What Dagher's established is that no one should ever trust a quote from him again. He cherry picked to spin the story the way he wanted and deliberately left out a very pertinent fact. (Though he doesn't quote him, like a good Rudith Miller, Dagher does bury the possibility of a new SOFA in paragraph thirteen. Alsumaria TV demonstrates how Dagher's distortions are spread across Iraq.)
Nouri's statements are cagey and make more sense today. The SOFA would have to be replaced, we've long noted that. If the US military presence continues in Iraq (and is not fudged as "State Dept mission"), the SOFA would have to be replaced with something. That's how the UN mandate worked as well. Nouri pushes the burden off onto Parliament and with his past history that's meaningless.
But as usual, Juan Cole's an idiot. The cheerleader for the war who then was against it, then saw a turned corner, then didn't know what he was doing, then got testy when Steve Rendall mentioned some of this reality in a CounterSpin interview, thinks that because he has a few groupies who allow him to constantly blog in a revisionary style, the whole world will hail him as a genius. Keep dreaming.
Juan Cole plays idiot (plays?) quoting a State Dept cable on the issue of the occupation and Iraqi opinion of it. So that's an interp of an interp? And we're supposed to believe it? The cable exists I'm not denying it. I'm also not a stupid asshole who thinks information and opinions are freely shared in an occupation. Or that third-hand gossip is necessarily "news." Juan wants you to know that the Parliament could never approve a SOFA, never!!!! Again, Nouri's pattern is to subvert the Parliament. I don't know who's been doing Cole's lectures and testing but maybe he needs to turn his blog over to his TA? Let's assume for a moment that this was an issue that went before Parliament. Cole argues:

There are not 163 votes in parliament for an extension of the US troop presence, and any move in that direction would likely cause al-Maliki's government to fall. Muqtada al-Sadr's followers have 40 seats in parliament and are the leading party in the National Iraqi Alliance, the Shiite fundamentalist parties, who have a total of 70 seats. They would pull out of al-Maliki's government and likely return to militia activity were he to betray their expectations in that way. Al-Maliki's own State of Law coalition, including his Islamic Mission Party (Da`wa) is certainly not going to plump for US troops to remain. It has 89 seats. Those two Shiite religious blocs have 159 seats between them. And, among the Sunni Arabs of the Iraqiya, there would certainly be at least 4 who opposed retaining US troops. Voila, 163. No parliamentary approval.

Third-hand news and lousy crystal visions -- it's as if Juan Cole formed a cheap Fleetwood Mac cover band to do a Rumors tribute.
A number of people -- including guess who -- spent forever claiming the SOFA wouldn't get pushed through in the first place. It did. Probably a good idea not to try to predict what the future holds. But if you're going to, probably a good idea to know a thing or two.
Unlike Juan Cole, we've covered the targeting of Iraqi Christians. We've covered it repeatedly and regularly. That has several times meant drawing a very firm line on a number of topics. One of which is that the supporters in the US who organize rallies are advocating for the US military to remain in Iraq for the near future. (As noted many times before, we don't support that.) Is Juan aware of that? Probably not. He certainly doesn't write as if he is.
Most likely, those Iraqi Christians in the Parliament would vote for the US to stay. The State Dept has long considered the Kurdish bloc a sure thing to vote for the US to stay. Once you note those, it's not too difficult to note other things. Such as the split between Moqtada's bloc and the Iraqi National Alliance whose leader increasingly tilts westward.
And then there's the most important thing of all -- which Juan is too 'pure' (too much of a priss, actually) to note -- money. Palms were greased and then some in November 2008. Palms will be greased again. It is not at all difficult to see a similar vote as that which took place in November 2008: a large number of MPs bailing on the vote. Those who remain left to insist on this extra and that bonus.

Nouri's not popular. The stalemate only made him less so. He was hoping to be feared as iron-fisted Nouri. But the stalemate just reminded everyone of how, in his four-year term as PM, Nouri never could seal the deal. He's a wanna be strong man who lacks the fear factor with the public.
It's not difficult to see him (yet again) throwing his lot in with the US. It's paid very well for him thus far and neither Iran nor the US really seems focused on much more than pushing Iraq back and forth between them like a shiny, rubber ball.
"They gave me a gun" he said
"They gave me a mission
For the power and the glory --
Propaganda -- piss on 'em.
There's a war zone inside me --
I can feel things exploding --
I can't even hear the f**king music playing
For the beat of -- the beat of black wings."
[. . .]
"They want you -- they need you --
They train you to kill --
To be a pin on some map --
Some vicarious thrill --
The old hate the young
That's the whole heartless thing
The old pick the wars
We die in 'em
To the beat of -- the beat of black wings."
-- "The Beat of Black Wings," words and music by Joni Mitchell, first appears on her
Chalk Mark In A Rainstorm.

British citizen Danny Fitzsimons' trial began in Baghdad today and he could receive the death penalty. He served in the British military for eight years and was stationed in Afghanistan and Kosovo before returning to Iraq as a contractor in the fall of 2009. He is accused of being the shooter in an August 9, 2009 Green Zone incident in which 1 British contractor, Paul McGuigan, and 1 Australian contractor, Darren Hoare, died and one Iraqi, Arkhan Madhi Saleh, was injured. Sinan Salaheddin (AP) reports Arkan Mahdi Saleh took the stand today and testified, "I was standing at a guard post when I heard some movements behind me. When I turned back to check, I saw Fitzsimons with a pistol in his hand and aiming at me."
Danny's family has explained that he suffers from PTSD and have asked that the trial be moved to England. Eric and Liz Fitzsimons (his father and step-mother) spoke to the BBC (link has video):

Liz Fitzsimons: You see, when he came out of the army because the army had always been his life, it was then at a real crossroads in his life and where some people might be able to cope, unfortunately, Daniel didn't cope well because he did enjoy army life. It was all he ever wanted, he loved it. And you come out and you live Middleton, which is where he ended up, and he couldn't find a path that suited him, he couldn't find a job although he tried very hard. And a testament to Daniel is that he joined a gym and kept himself -- Daniel likes routine. Daniel goes to the gym every day almost, I would suggest, every day, goes jogging he's a very clean young man. You know, he's not sort of gone wayward and just gone to the dogs kind of thing. And he met a girl, like you want your children to do, but then he wanted the normal life and he wanted the money that would go with a normal life. How does he do that when he can't find a job? And unfortunately becoming a security --
Eric Fitzsimons: He went back into doing security.
Liz Fitzimons: -- person in Iraq. [. . .] Oh, awful. Awful. The situation in Iraq isn't good, is it? We all know it's not good. But he would be out in convoys I believe their main job is to escort to --
Eric Fitzsimons: Oil [workers? Second word isn't clear.]
Liz Fitzsimons : Yes but they do escort people to jobs. And they do ride shotgun basically. They ride around --
Eric Fitzsimons: He's told us quite a lot of --
Liz Fitzsimons: Yeah.
Eric Fitsimons: -- tales.
Liz Fitzsimons: He saw some awful things. The person in the cab next to him was blown up.
Eric Fitzsimons: Yeah.
Liz Fitzsimons: Next to him. At the same he had a bullet in his foot.
Eric Fitzsimons: Bullet in his foot, yeah, he's seen all sorts of IEDs you know, sorts of explosions at the side of the road. Loads and loads of them. And seen lots and lots of his friends killed
Amnesty International has issued several statements on Danny, the most recent being in August of this year:
Responding to a new televised appeal to David Cameron made by Danny Fitzsimons, the British security contractor detained in Iraq and awaiting trial for murder, Amnesty International UK Campaigns Director Tim Hancock said:
"It's obviously right that private military and security contractors are made fully responsible for any alleged wrongdoing when they're working in places like Iraq, but we're very concerned about this case.
"Iraq has an appalling record of unfair capital trials and there's a definite danger of Danny Fitzsimons being sentenced to death after a shoddy judicial process.
"David Cameron should certainly seek assurances from the Iraqi authorities that Mr Fitzsimons will receive a fair trial and that the death penalty will be ruled out from the beginning."
Iraq is one of the biggest users of the death penalty in the world. Last year Iraq executed at least 120 people, the third highest of any country in the world. Approximately 1,000 prisoners are currently on death row, many reportedly close to execution.
"I would like to reiterate the importance of peaceful co-existence and religious tolerance in Iraq and call on the federal government to make the protection of Christians and religious sites a priority. We will always defend the rights of the Christian community and we repeat that the Kurdistan Region is open to embrace the displaced Christians."
At Support Danny Fitzsimons, his family issued the following statement:
The incident that took place in Iraq is still being investigated, but can be readily accessed online following the links to any major newspaper. The incident took place in the early hours of Sunday 9th August, after a drink fuelled argument led to Danny being set upon and beaten. In response Danny has drawn his sidearm and shot his two colleagues dead. One cannot explain the amount of confusion and grief that has affected all families involved in this incident and even as Danny's brother, my initial thoughts were immediately for the victims and their grief stricken families. However, I consider myself to be a fair man, and I cannot avoid the fact that I believe there is a third victim in this incident; Danny Fitzsimons, and that mercy must be shown to him.
Danny should never have been able to set foot in Iraq, and certainly should not have been given a job working for one of the biggest security firms working in there. Danny left the UK without any of his family knowing, and whilst being wanted by the UK Police force for previous charges. I am unclear as to how Danny managed to leave the country undetected, and very confused as to how he managed to secure a job with a company who are quoted as saying they 'have a strong vetting procedure' for employees.
Not only was Danny a wanted man with an extensive criminal record when he left for Iraq, but he also suffered from severe mental stress including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and other personality disorders linked to aggression, dual personality and alcohol problems. This is a soldier who has spent seven months in prison for previous offences, a soldier who 'has killed more people than he can count' both in the army as a very young soldier and as a private security worker, a soldier who has been trained by the armed forces to be an efficient killer and sniper, a soldier who has fought bravely for his country in five different conflicts and wars, and more importantly a soldier who suffers from mental illness and has been given a position of high responsibility, armed with high calibre weaponry, in probably the most hostile and emotionally stressful location on the planet.
Because I am not a psychologist, I cannot comment accurately on some of the stressful and horrific situations Daniel has faced countless times as both a soldier in the army and as a private security worker. However, it is truthful to say that what he has endured as a soldier far exceeds that the average human could. Danny joined the army at the age of sixteen. By eighteen he had been shot at and had had to kill enemy soldiers. At this time he also witnessed gruesome and vile acts of murder and torture of fellow human beings. In one instance Danny came home on leave boasting to myself and the rest of our family of how he had befriended and child and how he had given the child chocolates and helped better his life in a war ravaged city. Later on in the tour Danny discovered the same child, cut into pieces and stuffed in transparent plastic bags in an industrial freezer. To this day Danny suffers with insomnia, alcoholism, and re-occurring nightmares as a result of the trauma he has faced. He has lost countless numbers of friends and frequently has had to perform clean up missions; collecting his friends body parts from incident areas under heavy fire. It is my opinion that there are not adequate policies and procedures in place to assist soldier who have faced traumatic and horrific experiences, and this trend of ex soldiers finding it difficult to conform to civilian life will continue. The statistics are alarming. Prior to going to Iraq, Daniel served time in prison and was truly remorseful for his conviction throughout his sentence and as he has since left. Prison life agreed with Danny. It gave him structure and clear goals. I was in court the day Danny's sentence came to an end and he displayed a positive attitude towards life after prison. It would be reasonable to say that he had a truly different outlook on life and was quick to listen and converse with all around him about his plans for the future. There were signs that Danny would turn things around and would be able to control some of the anguish and pain that he felt. At that point my opinion would have been that Danny could have made a very positive contribution towards society and would continue to make steps towards building a future characterised by honesty and integrity.
As with many former heroes of the armed forces; Danny progress was limited and slipped back into his 'darker side' prior to and whilst in Iraq. This is a side unimaginable to you and me. A side that involves regular episodes of crying at the despair of fallen comrades, and self harm linked to the guilt felt for the child chopped to pieces and stuffed in a freezer. Danny suffers with paranoia and is convinced people are sneaking up on him in public. I cannot believe that Danny was contracted to work out in Iraq, given these clear and very observable remarks on his character.
I do not believe in war, and I certainly do not believe in the death sentence. Danny's solicitor from the UK has travelled out to Iraq already and assures me that the justice system is a far cry from our own. It is likely that Danny will hang in Iraq. It is also possible that Danny will face a sentence in Iraqi jail -- a sentence I am told is as good as the death sentence given the danger posed to him being a British private security worker, by fellow inmates. We are campaigning to bring Danny back home to face a public trial here in the UK. The Iraqi system will not take Danny's mental health into consideration, a factor which is crucial to the outcome of his case. I believe Danny should take responsibility for his actions and would not question any sentence imposed by our system, but I cannot sit back and watch my brother hang in Iraq given the circumstances of the offence. Danny is not well, and should never have been in Iraq in the first place".
Please show your support by 'clicking' yes to our campaign. We are a normal, caring family and are desperately seeking funds to take our campaign forwards. We need money for advertising, educational resources for Danny in Iraq and our legal team. Any donations will be greatly appreciated. In order to make a donation please follow the 'PayPal' link.
Many thanks

The Family.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


"Scores of organizations coming together for worldwide protests" (A.N.S.W.E.R.):

March 19 is the 8th anniversary of the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Iraq today remains occupied by 50,000 U.S. soldiers and tens of thousands of foreign mercenaries.

The war in Afghanistan is raging. The U.S. is invading and bombing Pakistan. The U.S. is financing endless atrocities against the people of Palestine, relentlessly threatening Iran and bringing Korea to the brink of a new war.

While the United States will spend $1 trillion for war, occupation and weapons in 2011, 30 million people in the United States remain unemployed or severely underemployed, and cuts in education, housing and healthcare are imposing a huge toll on the people.

Saturday, March 19, 2011, the anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, will be an international day of action against the war machine.

Protest and resistance actions will take place in cities and towns across the United States. Scores of organizations are coming together. Demonstrations are scheduled for San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and more.

Click here to read more.

That's from A.N.S.W.E.R. and don't show up March 20th saying, "I didn't know there was an action . . ." You've gotten a heads up with plenty of notice.

Sunny found an interesting e-mail from Judy and Judy wanted to know, "What is peace to you?" Judy explained she wasn't talking about the end of the Iraq War or any of the goals that we all work so hard on but she was talking instead about where you get peace within your own life.

I can actually answer that because, for the last hour and a half, I have been fantasizing about it. I was on the phone with a friend having some personal problems and thought, "I should go to the kitchen and make some pudding." I never did.

Which is too bad because I could really go for some vanilla or chocolate pudding and would love to be eating it front of the TV while watching Duck Soup -- especially the scene where Groucho sees his reflection (really Harpo) and they have a little routine where Groucho tries to trick him up.

I haven't wanted pudding in over a year. But today, or rather tonight, that just seemed like the most peaceful thing in the world. A nice bowl of pudding and Duck Soup on the TV screen.

My list for peace outside of me is endless (as I'm sure is your list) but in terms of my own inner peace? Sometimes it can be that simple, a good movie and a snack.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):

Tuesday, December 28, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, a US soldier is wounded in a bombing, the Speaker of Parliament discloses his finances and urges others to do the same, Nouri says the SOFA stands (and then adds it stands unless it's replaced with a new SOFA), some Baghdad checkpoints may be pulled, the Nineveh governor faces calls to step down, what of the responsibilities of Progressives For Obama, and more.
On this week's Law and Disorder Radio (began airing Monday on WBAI and around the country thorughout the rest of the week), hosts Michael S. Smith and Michael Ratner spoke with Nellie Hester Baily, co-founder of the Harlem Tenants Council and co-host of Black Agenda Radio (Progressive Radio) with Glen Ford (Black Agenda Report) and the hose of WHCR's Inside Housing. Excerpt.
Nellie Hester Bailey: You are undoubtedly aware of the letter that originated with, I think his name is Paul Halle [John Halle]. He is a professor at Bard College. And this letter was sent out almost a month ago and it called upon basically the Progressive for Obama -- i.e. Bill Fletcher, Tom Hayden, Barbara Ehrenreich to look at Obama for what he is and, in fact, called upon them specifically to support the December 15th action Veterans for Peace, that was in Washington, DC, there was a demonstration in front of the White House about 131 people were arrested in that protest. [. . .] And Halle wants to get about 5,000 signators on that letter. He has close to 4,000 now. The response from Tom Hayden has been rather visceral: 'Who are you to talk to me like this?' Bill Fletcher is very upset. Yet they continue in this vein of Progressives for Obama to support his policy and not pull him back because what we need most of all for poor and working people and, in particular, African-Americans is for the blinders to be pulled off so that people can see actually what it is that we are dealing with and that President Barack Obama is no longer sugar coated as "the historic first," "he's our Black president,' 'no matter what he does, we're going to support him' when at the same time, as we see the collapse of the empire -- and I think there is an inevitability in all of that when you look at the unstatainable wars that we are engaged in, when you look at the move to the right domestically with that of the Republican agenda which means more civil rights oppression against the populace here, when you look at the economic demise of so many Americans which is why White America is so upset -- because they're standard of living has declined dramatically, when you look at the recent report, I believe, from the Center for Disease Control that now we have more than a 50% increase in the number of people who are uninsured [PDF format warning, click here]. And when you look at all of these factors and the work force has been reduced, we are expected to work long hours, we are expected to retire later in life. In fact, we are being worked to death and our kids are being sent to war, and, if you are an immigrant and if you want the Dream Act, if you want to become an American citizen, then prove to us that you are willing to die and, if you do die, then we will grant you citizenship. These are the realities, the undeniable realities that we are looking at when we look at and when we embrace the Obama administration. Now, what it is that we can do, we can support the initiatives of Halle, we can put those strattling liberal progressives on the sideline by saying, "You no longer can lull the people, or herd the people like sheep, into this nightmare of compromise which in fact is our demise from the Obama adminsitration. What we can do, and this is a big problem we have in the African-American community because upon his election, one noted activist here in New York City said, 'You know President Obama gave us a wink-and-a-nod. You know, he knows, he knows. And we can expect the best out of him. And Michelle is going to make him do right. And Michelle will do --" I mean, this soap opera scenario and day dreaming which is just incomprehensible and particularly when you look at the left, we're talking about the Marxist left, that there was no class and race analysis about this man's presidency. How can one call themselves and declare themselves a Marxist and you support President Barack Obama? How is that possible? What was the failure of the left? Why was the left so blinded by this 'historic first'? 'First African-American president.' Well we had --
Michael Smith: You had Colin Powell, you had Condoleeza Rice --
Nellie Hester Bailey: We had Colin Powell, we had Condoleeza Rice as the first and we saw what fruit that bore. It was not a good fruit.
Michael Ratner: So why do you think it happened? I mean, I understand. Really your analysis is quite clear, quite sharp and one could even argue that the powers-that-be got Obama in to essentially supress the progressive movement and the African-American community --
Nellie Hester Bailey: Absolutely.
Michael Ratner: -- that would have actually diverted it and it created this whole tension about should we do this or not. But why do you think people missed it so much? Particularly, there are a lot of good people who you know. Your friends who were certainly on the fence if not worse in terms of their thinking this was going to be the great savior.
Nellie Hester Bailey: I-I'm at a loss. I mean, when you look at people whom I love dearly -- Amiri Baraka, I mean how do you explain that?
Michael Ratner: That one's a hard one.
Nellie Hester Bailey: Fletcher? Nnnnnhhh -- he straddled the fence here and there. Nnnnhhh, you know you can, okay. But people like Baraka? Some of the other noted left wingers, a long history, tradition of Marxist analysis -- How is that possible? One of the excuses we heard was, "Well the people are for him, we don't want to display this vanguard elitism." These forces, Progressives for Obama, need to step back and realize their responsibility to building a working class people, multi-racial movement to take on this system that is declining, that is in collapse, it is not sustainable. We see the desperation every single day. And it seems to me that if they cannot wake up at this point, then a large part of the movement that we're trying to build, that Michael talked about, we saw it from the very beginning, that you're talking about, that others are talking about, that we are all going to be doomed not unless conditions force the populace into the streets as we are seeing in Ireland, as we are seeing in England, as we are seeing throughout Europe, as we are seeing in Greece, as we're seeing in France. And if conditions don't drive people into the street, that there comes a point that they can no longer tolerate the assault on their lives and their civil liberties, then we are in fact doomed and I'm not too optimistic. But, as Che said, if you are a revolutionary, then we are full of optimism. So I am optimistic but it is a hard road ahead of us.
Also on this week's broadcast, Michael Ratner and Michael S. Smith discussed political prisoner Lynne Stewart. The child of Brooklyn grew up to be the people's attorney -- called that because she took the cases of those targeted and those in need. Sometimes she was the only one who would take the cases. As she declared at an anti-war rally in March 2005, the government was targeting her for "what I have been doing for the last 30 years, organizing and defending people who need to be defended, and nothing to do with the 'T' word." The 'T' word being terrorism. Lynne is an attorney. She is now in prison. Not for breaking a law because guidelines aren't laws and because the Justice Dept cannot pass laws (though they can make guidelines). Lynne's 'crime' was issuing a press release. As Peter Daniels (WSWS) reported in real-time on Lynne's 2005 trial, "The government's case was based on illegal spying on confidential attorney-client communications. The prosecution presented as evidence tape-recorded phone conversations and prison visits. The charge was that Stewart, who had been forced to agree to draconian rules restricting [Sheik Omar] Abdel Rahman's communications with the outside world, had nevertheless relayed messages to the media from the imprisoned cleric. The politicl character of the charges against Stewart was clear from the beginning. Although the heart of the government's case deals with a May 2000 meeting between Stewart and her client at the Federal Medical Center in Rochester, Minnesota, nothing was done about this until six months after the September 11 attacks." If you're late to the charges, Elaine Cassel (Find Law) covered the charges and what they meant for the future in this 2002 column. and, in this February 14, 2005 column, she's covering the verdict. In July of this year it was decided her sentence was too 'easy' and she was re-sentenced. Michael S. Smith (at Monthly Review) wrote about the re-sentencing. As Fight Back! News notes, "Stewart is a 71-year old breast cancer survivor who was jailed for her work as a lawyer representing Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman, also known as the 'Blind Sheikh.' Abdel-Rahman was accused of plotting the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Stewart has a long career as a human rights champion, defending the poor, the oppressed and the unpopular, who rarely get good legal representation or a fair trial." Petra Bartosiewicz (Los Angeles Times) observed last July that "Stewart's plight has larger implications for us all: It is a bellwether of the increasingly stringent secrecy and security measures imposed in federal courts, particularly in terrorism trials -- all part of the systemic erosion of due process that reformers expected would end with the election of Barack Obama, but which has been only further institutionalized. Stewart's case has come to symbolize the increasing difficulty attorneys face in zaelously advocating for politically unpopular clients -- a necessary component of due process in an adversary legal system." Ruth and Mike covered Michael Ratner and Michael S. Smith's discussion of the latest Lynne news, she's been moved from New York (where her family is) to Texas. We'll note this letter from Lynne posted at her website:

Dear Folks:

Some nuts and bolts and trivia

1 New Address
Lynne Stewart
Federal Medical Center, Carswell
53504 – 054
Unit 2N
PO Box 27137
Fort Worth TEXAS 76127

2 Visiting is very liberal but first I have to get people on my visiting list Wait til I or the lawyers let you know. The visits are FRI, SAT, SUN AND MON for 4 hours and on weekends 8 to 3. Bring clear plastic change purse with lots of change to buy from the machines. Brief Kiss upon arrival and departure, no touching or holding during visit (!!) On visiting forms it may be required that you knew me before I came to prison. Not a problem for most of you.

3. One hour time difference

4. Commissary Money is always welcome It is how I pay for the phone and for email. Also need it for a lot that prison doesn't supply in terms of food and "sundries" (pens!) A very big list that includes Raisins, Salad Dressing , ankle sox, mozzarella (definitely not from Antonys–more like a white cheddar, Sanitas Corn Chips but no Salsa etc. To add money, you do this by using Western Union and a credit card by phone or you can send a USPO money order or Business or Govt Check. The negotiable instruments (PAPER!) need to be sent to Federal Bureau of Prisons , 53504-054, Lynne Stewart, PO Box 474701, Des Moines Iowa 50947-001 (Payable to Lynne Stewart, 53504-054) They hold the mo or checks for 15 days. Western Union costs $10 but is within 2 hours. If you mail, your return address must be on the envelope. Unnecessarily complicated ? Of course, it's the BOP !)

5. Food is vastly improved. Just had Sunday Brunch real scrambled eggs, PORK sausage, Baked or home fried potatoes, Butter(sweet whipped M'God !!) Grapefruit juice Toast , orange. I will probably regain the weight I lost at MCC! Weighing against that is the fact that to eat we need to walk to another building (about at far as from my house to the F Train) Also included is 3 flights of stairs up and down. May try to get an elevator pass and try NOT to use it.

6. In a room with 4 bunks(small) about two tiers of rooms with same with "atrium" in middle with tv sets and tables and chairs. Estimate about 500 on Unit 2N and there are 4 units. Population Black, Mexicano and other spanish speaking (all of whom iron their underwear, Marta), White, Native Americans (few), no orientals or foreign speaking caucasians–lots are doing long bits, victims of drugs (meth etc) and boyfriends. We wear army style (khaki) pants with pockets tee shirts and dress shirts long sleeved and short sleeved. When one of the women heard that I hadn't ironed in 40 years, they offered to do the shirts for me. (This is typical of the help I get–escorted to meals and every other protection, explanations, supplies, etc. Mostly from white women.) One drawback is not having a bathroom in the room—have to go about 75 yards at all hours of the day and night –clean though.

7 Final Note–the sunsets and sunrises are gorgeous, the place is very open and outdoors there are pecan trees and birds galore (I need books for trees and birds (west) The full moon last night gladdened my heart as I realized it was shining on all of you I hold dear.

Love Struggle


Michael Ratner urged that people send letters, send books and Lynne's enjoying the birds in that region and asking for books about birds of the south. Michael S. Smith quoted her telling him, "I'm walking out of here." Both men noted that she sounded hopeful and optimistic. From the crazy that keeps Lynne wrongly behind bars to the crazy that is the Iraq War.
Ride out
any old way you please!
In this place everyone talks to his own mouth.
That's what it means to be crazy.
Those I loved best died of it --
the fool's disease.
-- "Flee On Your Donkey," written by Anne Sexton, from Live Or Die.
Sam Dagher (Wall St. Journal) reports on an interview he conducted with thug and prime minister Nouri al-Maliki. Were Dagher still working for the New York Times, the laughable report would never have been printed. You've had too many reports from too many reporters at that paper about the plans for 2012 for any of the nonsense printed without question to fly.

One example:

A majority of Iraqis -- and some Iraqi and U.S. officials -- have assumed the U.S. troop presence would eventually be extended, especially after the long government limbo. But Mr. Maliki was eager to draw a line in his most definitive remarks on the subject. "The last American soldier will leave Iraq" as agreed, he said, speaking at his office in a leafy section of Baghdad's protected Green Zone. "This agreement is not subject to extension, not subject to alteration. It is sealed."

Let's start with World Can't Wait's Debra Sweet being interviewed by Angela Keaton (Antiwar Radio).

Debra Sweet: And don't forget that the war in Iraq is not over. The occupation is as robust as ever. 50,000 -- you know, now they call the troops advisors or trainers -- they're still there with the full compliment of military equipment. They're still an occupying army. And all they've done is militarize some of the people under the control of the State Dept and those are the combat troops. Now, this is kind of incredible, run not by the Defense Dept but now by commanded by Hillary Clinton and the State Dept. This is what passes for an end of the occupation of Iraq: 17 military bases, huge numbers of private contractors that they don't even have to account for and reveal to us.

Debra's describing the widely reported -- and acknowledged -- plan for what happens if US soldiers have to 'leave' Iraq. In that case, they continue to stay but under the cover of the State Dept (and commanded not by Hillary but by the NSA -- which is why NSA has been in Iraq so much in 2010 -- but don't notice that, don't notice that the NSA has issued more statements on Iraq in 2010 -- and often issued from Baghdad -- than has the current US Ambassador to Iraq -- an ambassador who also has NSA ties).

But that's the back up. That's what the US government will do if they can't get an extension. Joe Biden thinks they'll get one, Robert Gates thinks it's probable, those are just some of the executive branch employees on the public record.

Nouri says it's not happening! Well for the Wall St. Journal that probably passes for 'reporting.' Away from it? Most would feel the need to note that Nouri made similar noises in 2006 -- before extending the UN mandate -- and in 2007 -- before extending the UN mandate. Only the Wall St. Journal would ignore pattern. Amy Goodman ignores pattern and fact check today on Democracy Now! as well but does add, "Maliki added that the timetable could be changed if Iraq and the US reach a new Status Of Forces Agreement, which would require parliamentary approval." Jason Ditz ( might have wanted to have stuck around for that last sentence before rendering an opinion. UPI also notes, "Maliki said the only way for any of the remaining 50,000 U.S. soldiers to stay beyond 2011 would be for the two nations to negotiate a new Status of Forces Agreement similar to the one concluded in 2008."
Meanwhile Fadel al-Nashmi (Niqash) provides a lack-of-character sketch of Nouri which includes: "Al-Naser Duraid, a political analyst, believes that, whereas after 2005, Maliki was keen to break from the legacy of his predecessor, al-Jaafari, which based on sectarianism and an absence of a national project, he has now abandoned this path." Duraid states, "Today, I am not sure if Maliki's behaviour is a tactic or a strategy. But I believe that the way he acted to retain power has shaken people's confidence in him." Looking back at the year, Michael Jansen (Irish Times) notes, "The Iraqi election campaign began with an all-out effort by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and the dominant Shia religious parties to prevent the secular Sunni Iraqiya bloc from gaining an appreciable number of seats in the national assembly in the March 7th election. When polling was deemed largely fair by local and foreign monitors, Maliki refused to accept being edged out of the first place by Iraqiya. It took eight months and intervention by Iran and the US to break the deadlock, caused by his drive to stay in office. Maliki succeeded, despite accusations of being a dictator, at the exepense of the credibility of the political system. Violence escalated, and increasing numbers of foreign fighters infiltrated Iraq to join al-Qaeda." Basaer News reports that the Association of Muslim Scholars accuses the Kurds of cooperating with "Zionists" in order to disrupt Iraq and that the Kurdish leaders "no longer represent the Kurdish people" and have abandoned the call for Kurdish rule.
DPA reports attacks in Mosul (a car bombing and an assault on police) have claimed 8 lives. Alsumaria TV reports that a Baquba bombing claimed the life of 1 child and left another person injured, a Baghdad bombing wounded a Foreign Ministry employee and a US patrol in Najaf was targeted with a bombing (no word on whether anyone was harmed -- US or Iraqi). Reuters adds an attack on a Tal Afar Iraqi military checkpoint resulted in the death of 1 Iraqi soldier and another left injured and, dropping back to last night, 1 employee of the Parliament was shot dead in Baghdad. That's 11 dead and three wounded in today's news cycle. In addtion, Reuters reports a Baghdad roadside bombing wounded 1 US soldier.
Rebecca Santana (AP) reports Nouri's ordered an examination of the 870 checkpoints in the city of Baghdad to determine whether any of them could be eliminated. At Inside Iraq, an Iraqi correspondent for McClatchy Newspapers adds, "I don't know how the authorities are going to specify the importance of the security checkpoints. When I meet with my friends, we almost agree that the security checkpoints do nothing but delaying people and causing traffic jams. Some of my friends who have military experiences believe strongly that 24 hours patrols can do better job than checkpoints. Hameed Jasim, 40 years factory manager served for more than 6 years in the former Iraqi army says 'I feel so worried whenever I reach a checkpoint because I always expect a suicide bombing because I know the insurgents target civilians.' Hameed believes that patrols can do better because they can watch all the roads not only the areas of the checkpoints." Additional checkpoints and Bremer walls was Nouri's 'solution' this month to the targeting of churches in Baghdad. Asia News quotes churchgoers stating, "The churches are like fortresses now and its difficult to pray as we should in them." October 31st kicked off the latest wave of attacks targeting Iraqi Christians as Our Lady of Salvation Church in Baghdad was attacked leaving approximately seventy dead and seventy more injured. Following that, Christians in Baghdad and Mosul were regularly targeted leading to a large number fleeing -- some to the Kurdistan Regional Government, some to bordering countries. Catholic Culture reports that the European Parliament President, Jerzy Buzek, declared today that he will "monitor the situation closely".
Hamid al-Zubaidi (Iraq Hurr) reports that last night in Mosul, the Presidency of the Conference of Nineveh, calls were made for the removal of the governor of Nineveh Province (Ethel Nujaifi also spelled Atheel al-Najafi). It's been a busy second half of the year for Nujaifi. In August, he was nearly assassinated, in September he condemned a US raid in Mosul and the arrests which followed, dubbing them "politically motivated," October saw further tensions between the Provincial Council and Nujaifi and that Nujaifi was angling for the post of Foreign Minister (Hoshyar Zebari had the post at that time and Zebari holds the post in last week's 'new' announced Cabinet) and, along with many other activities, he also helped delay the census. Last night in Mosul, Nujaifi was accused of overstepping his role and exceeding his powers due to various alleged abuses including the appointment of a mayor whom he allegedly has ties to. His brother is Osama Najafi who is the new Speaker of Parliament. New Sabah reports Osama Najafi is raising the issues of salaries in the Parliament -- Jalal Talabani's and the two vice presidents. As President of Iraq, Talabani's salary "is more than the salary of [US] President Barack Obama." It is agued that laws are needed to address this -- the same argument was made in the previous Parliament. Nujaifi, who surprised many by disclosing his own finances in a Monday Parliament session, is calling for other MPs and Cabinet ministers to do the same.
Turning to the US, Byron Pitts (CBS News) reports on service members who were stop-lossed that "fewer than half of those eligible have received the funds [. . .] just 69,000 of the 145,000 eligible servicemen and women have filed and received payment." Stop-loss is the backdoor draft. Those thinking their service contracts were ending are informed by the military that, no, they're not. Though no one's explored this aspect in this year's coverage, when the person stop-lossed was not an American citizen, the law was violated. Those who were stop-lossed and were not US citizens at the time should consider seeking legal advice on what their options are if they are now citizens (if they have not become US citizens, they are welcome to consider suing but they should be aware that the most likely response from the government would be deportation).

Since so few have applied for the funds, the deadline has again been extended. The US Army announces:

The deadline for eligible servicemembers, veterans and their beneficiaries to apply for Retroactive Stop Loss Special Pay has been extended to March 4, 2011, Defense Department officials announced today.
The deadline extension is included in the continuing resolution bill that President Barack Obama signed Dec. 21, providing funding for federal government operations through March 4.
Congress established the retroactive pay to compensate military members who served involuntary extensions or whose retirement was suspended between Sept. 11, 2001, and Sept. 30, 2009. Eligible members and their beneficiaries are required to submit a claim to their respective military service to receive the benefit of $500 for each full or partial month served in stop-loss status.
The services estimate 145,000 servicemembers, veterans and beneficiaries are eligible. Because most of those eligible had separated from the military, the services have engaged in persistent outreach efforts throughout the year.
Efforts, including direct mail, engaging military and veteran service organizations, social networks and media outlets, will continue throughout the period of eligibility, Defense Department officials said.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Favorite Beatles Song!

As I've journaled here many times, I'm a huge fan of the Beatles. When I look at all those amazing songs, I think my favorite is fairly obvious.

It would be George Harrison's "Hey Dude." For me, that is not just George's best song, but the best song the Beatles ever recorded. "Hey Dude, don't make your bed, take a pass, and make it later . . ."

That is just such an important song and --

What's that?

It's not "Hey Dude"?

Actually, I know Paul McCartney wrote "Hey Jude." My point was to underscore how stupidity can go. Matthew Rothschild flaunted some real stupidity (C.I. calls him out in the snapshot today). He decided he was going to write about a song.

First problem? If you're going to write about a song, you need to know the song's title. Unless the point of your writing is: "I can't remember the title." I could see such a column. You remember a line or two from the song and you write about it with a "Does anyone know the name of this song? I love it and would love to purchase it as a download."

But that's not what Rothschild did. He wrote about "So This Is Christmas (War Is Over)" which, for the record, is no known song connected to a Beatle in any way.

The song is "Merry Xmas (War Is Over)." If you're writing a column about the song, you need to know the title of it. Getting it wrong? No, not acceptable.

Equally important, don't call that song "John's song." Yoko's on the recording. Also, Yoko co-wrote the song and is credited as co-writer.

C.I. was furious. I don't blame her. It pisses me off as well. But she asked if I would add a thought or two of my own. (Nonsense like this enrages her.)

It is sexist on Matthew Rothschild's part and it is xenophobic. This is all about Yoko not being White but marrying the White wonder John Lennon. This is the "Dragon Lady" and all the other stereotypes and hatred heaped on Yoko. (Disclosure, like C.I., I know Yoko.)

It's, "That 'yellow woman' took our buddy!"

It is not about love, it is not about peace. It is about hatred and anger.

Yoko Ono won John's heart. Get over it. Most of you didn't even know him, (I did.) He's dead and your dreams that you'd have a beer with him are just dreams.

He made a choice and it was to make a life with Yoko. Yoko made a choice and it was to make a life with John. They were in love. They were committed to one another up to the end. My guess (only a guess, I'm not psychic), were John alive today, he'd still be with her. No one made John happy like Yoko. When John was unhappy, nothing made him happier than grouching to Yoko. He didn't think anyone heard him the way she did when the world was weighing on him.

Yoko won his heart (and he her heart). You need to let go of your sexism and xenophobia. It's tired, it's ugly and it's not realistic.

If you're really a fan of John's who cares so much about him, I can say this: He wouldn't want you to be trashing Yoko. That was a topic he addressed regularly. How everyone wanted "Beatle John" and wanted to blame Yoko for the death of "Beatle John." He's the one who walked away. Yoko didn't pull him. Yoko didn't trick him. She gave him love and she gave him respect. He returned the same to her.

"TV: Water Cooler Set Confesses and Kills" (Ava and C.I., The Third Estate Sunday Review):
V has an impact. It's foolish to pretend otherwise. Whether you personally watch it or never turn it on, it still has an impact. It is where, even today, society gathers around the campfire to pass on ideas, dreams, fears, mores and more. Which is why Terry Gross and David Bianculli's are so damaging. You can't talk about 2010 without noting the year saw the loss of the decade's funniest sitcom.

Unlike Will & Grace or Friends, The New Adventures of Old Christine is a creation of the '00s. It began and finished its run this decade. When the laugh out loud sitcom got the axe last May, Kari Lizer (creator of the show) explained what had just taken place, "As far as what happened at CBS, we've suffered from a serious lack of support from them since the beginning. I hate to say it, but I'm afraid they don't care much for the female-of-a-certain-age point of view over there. How else do you explain them squandering the talents of Julia [Louis-Dreyfus] and Wanda [Sykes]?" Kari is correct. She'd be even more correct if she'd point out that the lack of interest was also to be found in the Water Cooler Set. For example, Entertainment Weekly is nothing but critics and their TV pages post updates multiple times daily; however, Ken Tucker couldn't note the show in all of 2010 until right before it got the axe.

To his credit, he did at least note it. Putting him far ahead of his peers. But this is why it matters what Terry discusses. She's listened to and her show could have impact. She chooses to ignore that and she chooses to serve up ten critics and only one of them a woman (she covers books and, no, Terry doesn't devote an hour to year-in-books). The masculine-identified Terry Gross is a huge part of the problem. This year, she saw an omission: Bianculli left a man off the list!

Women don't just disappear, they are disappeared. For an hour, Terry and David chewed the fat over TV and never once did they mention by name a single actress in a TV series.

It matters a great deal. In the spring of 2009, NBC had to pick what shows to keep and which ones to kill -- more pruning than usual was required due to the fact that in the fall of 2009, NBC would be turning over the last hour of prime time Monday through Friday to Jay Leno's talk show. Monday nights offered three hour long shows: Chuck, Heroes and Medium. Of the three, the one netting the biggest audience was Medium. Heroes was cratering and the creator was unable to accept the feedback for why the show was failing. (It would become an outright failure the following season.) Chuck was in flux. Which show did NBC cancel?

Medium. (CBS picked it up.) NBC was clear why the gave it the axe: Yeah, it had an audience, but it didn't have a "buzz." The Water Cooler Set just didn't care about it.

Nothing would give it "buzz" with the Water Cooler Set. Not astounding production values, not amazing acting, nothing. The series could -- and did -- feature notable guest stars and even that didn't mean a thing. David Morse, Kelly Preston, Neve Campbell, Molly Ringwald, Eric Stoltz, Jeffrey Tambor, Laura San Giacomo, Thomas Jane and Rosanna Arquette were among those doing outstanding work and Anjelica Huston gave an amazing performance as Cynthia in season four and season five. But even that wasn't enough for the Water Cooler Set.

You want to know a dirty secret that the Water Cooler Set doesn't? Network execs are in a panic more than ever before. Two decades ago, you axed a show and that was that. Today? You face an outcry online. So? So, if you cut a popular show and your new shows aren't performing, you really don't need the stockholders being reminded of what got the axe to make way for the new flops. A devoted following (no matter the size of it) have extended a show's life.

So it does matter when Terry Gross and her all male posse decide that women don't matter, it does matter when the Water Cooler Set ignores and dismisses women. And they contribute to the network suits inability to drive forward since they're always studying the rear view mirror instead.

For example, four new shows have been pitched to the big three network (one of which also was pitched to Fox). All four share a horror premise. The best of the four is best termed erotic horror and reads like an interesting gamble. But women are prominent in the story and it has no teensies. ABC's The Gates had teensies and they're sappy angst ensured that the show sank. The Vampire Diaries has yet to overcome its reputation of never-ending-foreplay (leading it to be dubbed in the industry "Thursday Tease"). By contrast, True Blood (Showtime) has found an audience via an adult take on horror. Whether or not it could be another True Blood, it surely could match the best in horror turned out by Hammer Films and yet the reservations over the project, the hesitation, stems from the fact that women are front and center. That's what it's come to, the Water Cooler Set and their built-in sexism mean that a project that all three big networks agree is "interesting" and "promising" can't get a greenlight out of fear that it just won't attract the 'buzz.'

This is a really important piece by Ava and C.I. I was torn between the excerpt above or the opening which is also beautiful.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):

Monday, December 27, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, Ramadi is slammed with bombings, questions remain about the 'new' and 'future' Iraq Nouri's in charge of, Camp Ashraf residents remain targeted, A.N.S.W.E.R. plans an action for the new year, John and Yoko see their work distorted, and more.
Matthew Rothschild (The Progressive) chose Christmas Day to 're-examine' "Happy X-Mas (War Is Over)" -- it's a shame he couldn't examine it to begin with. The song is "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)" and it is written by John Lennon and Yoko Ono -- click here for sheet music you can look at (and purchase if you want it). That's the writing credit, get it? Is too much for your damn sexist minds? If you need further proof consult this page of Beatles Bible. I'm not in the mood. This is one topic we have to address every year because some man's bound and determined to strip Yoko of her credit -- out of love for John, you understand. They think they loved him more than she did, knew him better than she did, probably feel they would have given him head better than she did. But let's review, Matthew Rothschild: (1) John Lennon AND Yoko Ono wrote the song and (2) it is not titled "So This Is Christmas (War Is Over)," it is titled "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)." Got it? If you think the song is important enough to write about, you need to get your facts straight. And it's exactly this sort of erasing of women from the conversation that leads The Progressive to be considered a sexist publication. (As noted before, I know Yoko. I also knew John. That is only one reason this pissed me off. I'm damn sick of women seeing their credits stripped away. I'm also offended when 'the press' wants to cover the arts but thinks because it's the arts that they don't have to get it right. No one asked you to cover it, you decided to. You're supposed to be a journalist, you need to apply some standards to your work. When a famous song that's decades old is one you can't even get the title of right -- after you make the choice to write about it -- that goes to sloppy journalism. There's no excuse for it.)

Though Matthew Rothschild didn't know him, Matthew is correct that John was no fool which is why John wouldn't have written the stupid column that Matthew did -- one that refuses to acknowledge the ongoing Iraq War. The Progressive is published out of Wisconsin. Is Rothschild unaware of the deployments of the Wisconsin National Guard including the most recent at the end of last month? We'll assume Matthew wasn't among those donating to replace the personal gear of 20 Wisconsin service members in the Madison-based (just like The Progressive!) Army Reserves 911th Forward Surgical Team in Iraq. And why is it that AP Deputy Managing Editor for Standards and Production Tom Kent can issue this in September:
Whatever the subject, we should be correct and consistent in our description of what the situation in Iraq is. This guidance summarizes the situation and suggests wording to use and avoid.
To begin with, combat in Iraq is not over, and we should not uncritically repeat suggestions that it is, even if they come from senior officials. The situation on the ground in Iraq is no different today than it has been for some months. Iraqi security forces are still fighting Sunni and al-Qaida insurgents. Many Iraqis remain very concerned for their country's future despite a dramatic improvement in security, the economy and living conditions in many areas.
As for U.S. involvement, it also goes too far to say that the U.S. part in the conflict in Iraq is over. President Obama said Monday night that "the American combat mission in Iraq has ended. Operation Iraqi Freedom is over, and the Iraqi people now have lead responsibility for the security of their country."
However, 50,000 American troops remain in country. Our own reporting on the ground confirms that some of these troops, especially some 4,500 special operations forces, continue to be directly engaged in military operations. These troops are accompanying Iraqi soldiers into battle with militant groups and may well fire and be fired on. In addition, although administration spokesmen say we are now at the tail end of American involvement and all troops will be gone by the end of 2011, there is no guarantee that this will be the case.
Our stories about Iraq should make clear that U.S. troops remain involved in combat operations alongside Iraqi forces, although U.S. officials say the American combat mission has formally ended. We can also say the United States has ended its major combat role in Iraq, or that it has transferred military authority to Iraqi forces. We can add that beyond U.S. boots on the ground, Iraq is expected to need U.S. air power and other military support for years to control its own air space and to deter possible attack from abroad.
Unless there is balancing language, our content should not refer to the end of combat in Iraq, or the end of U.S. military involvement. Nor should it say flat-out (since we can't predict the future) that the United States is at the end of its military role.
But our so-called independent media can't be bothered with noting the Iraq War continues? You can be a Matthew Rothschild and let the Iraq War 'slip your mind' or you be A.N.S.W.E.R. and call for action:

March 19 is the 8th anniversary of the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Iraq today remains occupied by 50,000 U.S. soldiers and tens of thousands of foreign mercenaries.

The war in Afghanistan is raging. The U.S. is invading and bombing Pakistan. The U.S. is financing endless atrocities against the people of Palestine, relentlessly threatening Iran and bringing Korea to the brink of a new war.

While the United States will spend $1 trillion for war, occupation and weapons in 2011, 30 million people in the United States remain unemployed or severely underemployed, and cuts in education, housing and healthcare are imposing a huge toll on the people.

Actions of civil resistance are spreading.

On Dec. 16, 2010, a veterans-led civil resistance at the White House played an important role in bringing the anti-war movement from protest to resistance. Enduring hours of heavy snow, 131 veterans and other anti-war activists lined the White House fence and were arrested. Some of those arrested will be going to trial, which will be scheduled soon in Washington, D.C.

Saturday, March 19, 2011, the anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, will be an international day of action against the war machine.

Protest and resistance actions will take place in cities and towns across the United States. Scores of organizations are coming together. Demonstrations are scheduled for San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and more.

Click this link to endorse the March 19, 2011, Call to Action.

In San Francisco, the theme of the March 19 march and rally will be "No to War & Colonial Occupation – Fund Jobs, Healthcare & Education – Solidarity with SF Hotel Workers!" 12,000 SF hotel workers, members of UNITE-HERE Local 2, have been fighting for a new contract that protects their healthcare, wages and working conditions. The SF action will include a march to boycotted hotels in solidarity with the Lo. 2 workers. The first organizing meeting for the SF March 19 march and rally will be on Sunday, Jan. 16 at 2pm at the Local 2 union hall, 209 Golden Gate Ave.

In Los Angeles, the March 19 rally and march will gather at 12 noon at Hollywood and Vine.

Let us know if you are going to be protesting locally. Events taking place around the country will be listed at

Click this link to submit your local event listing.

Cities around the country will be printing flyers, posters and stickers to spread the word about March 19 events. Funds are urgently needed to help in this effort. Please make a generous financial contribution today. Click this link to donate online with a credit or debit card, and to find out how to contribute by check.

Fight Back! News reminds, "On Dec. 22, the U.S. House and Senate passed the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2011. The bill authorizes $725 billion for next year's Defense Department budget, including nearly $160 billion of what the Pentagon calls 'overseas contingency operations' -- Congress's name for the U.S. wars and occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. All 100 senators, every Republican and every Democrat, voted for the mammoth military spending bill. The House passed it by voice vote without debate or discussion. The $725 billion amount is likely to grow more through separate supplements for the Afghanistan occupation throughout the year. This is the largest military budget since 1945, the last year of World War II."
Wednesday's snapshot included, "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: [. . .]" Give it up for the State Dept, they got one right. Today Ramadi is slammed with bombings. (Ramadi is in Anbar.) AP reports there are said to have been two suicide bombers -- one in a minibus and one on foot. Citing police sources, RTT News says the bombs were car bombs -- they count 17 dead and over forty injured. Hamid Ahmed (AP) reports that the bombings came one after the other, with people gathering after the minibus bombing to survey the destruction and then the suicide bomber on foot detonating. DPA notes, "The second attack occured when a suicide bomber wearing a belt of explosives approached the scene of the first attack after crowds of policemen, medics, and civilians had gathered. He blew himself up after policemen tried to prevent him from entering the area." Al Sumaria TV estimates there were 15 minutes between the two bombings. Jamal Naji (McClatchy Newspapers) quotes one of the people who rushed to the first bombing site to help right before the second bomb went off, Muhammed Kardoss al Zobai, who states, "I was swept off my feet and came crashing to the ground. I got up and started home without looking back." At this point, UPI explains, "Police evacuated the area, fearing a third attack." Jamal Hashim (Xinhua) adds, "The powerful blasts left 12 government and civilian cars charred at the scene, which was cordoned off by the Iraqi security forces for hours, the source added." Fadhel al-Badrani (Reuters) provides these details, "At the site of Monday's blasts, pools of blood dotted the ground, footage from Reuters Television showed. The stumps of the suicide bomber's severed legs lay at the scene." Al Jazeera reports, "Ramadi hospital's emergency room was reportedly filled with patients wounded in the attack. The hospital was also crowded with people who had responded to an appeal broadcast on mosque loudspeakers to donate blood to help the injured." Aaron C. Davis (Washington Post) quotes Alanbar Hospital's Dr. Senan Ala'anee stating, "Many of the wounded have lost some of their body parts and the others were severely burned. We called the imams of the mosques at the city to call upon the citizens to donate their blood to the wounded." BBC World Service noted in their half-hour headlines that the target appeared to be the government compound in Ramadi. Nawaf Jabbar and Salar Jaff (Los Angeles Times) note, "The 17 dead and 40 wounded Monday included women and children lined up to file compensation papers for relatives killed in the earlier bombing, said Mustafa Hitti, a doctor at Ramadi's general hospital." John Leland (New York Times) offers, "Though no one claimed responsibility for the bombing, officials in Anbar said it was likely a response to raids in the last week and a half that rounded up 93 suspected militants. Officials speculated the bombers also intended to scare off foreing investors and developers. The oil ministry recently completed the auction of a gas field in Anbar to a consortium of Kazakh and Korean developers." BBC News reminds, "On 12 December, 11 people were killed when a suicide car bomber targeted the same government office in Ramadi."

Ramadi is predominately (some argue universally) Sunni and the capital of Al Anbar Province which borders Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Syria. Aqsim Abid Muhammad Hammadi al-Fahadawi is the governor. He wasn't elected to that post by the citizens, he was handed it by Saleh al-Mutlaq and Ahmed Abu Risha (he'd left the country over two years prior to being named governor). Fadhel al-Badrani (Reuters) quotes Lt Gen Hussein Kamal (Deputy Interior Minister) stating, "Prime Minister (Nuri al-Maliki) has ordered an investigative committee to be formed due to the repeated taregting of (this) building in Anbar province." Another investigation launched by Nouri. And torture confessions to follow? Jamal Naji (McClatchy Newspapers) points out that this is "the first major attack since Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki assumed temporary control of national security matters. In announcing his new cabinet last week, Maliki left open the sensitive posts of ministers of defense, interior and national security, saying he needed several more weeks to vet candidates."
Those posts would be the ones Nouri (as prime minister) would consult with regarding the US military staying past 2011. Presumably, he will now consult with himself. Some might point to the Parliament but wasn't Nouri's entire first term about rendering the Parliament powerless? Whether it was naming someone to a Cabinet post ('temporarily') and doing so without the required approval of Parliament or swearing that there would be a referendum on the SOFA in July of 2009 and then not holding one, Nouri's repeatedly make a mockery out of rule of law and separation of powers. Joost Hilterman thinks the fractured aspect might prevent such an action from taking place and he may be right. He discusses Iraq with The Council on Foreign Relations' Bernard Gwertzman:
Bernard Gwertzman: The Bush administration signed as one of its last actions an agreement to pull its forces out of Iraq by the end of next year. Is that still on track?
Joost Hiltermann: The withdrawal is definitely on track. The question was always if it can it be delayed through an extension of the current security agreement the Bush administration signed with the Iraqi government. This would require a Status of Forces agreement that would have to be initiated by the new government. Now, the new government is barely functioning, and it's so much a coalition government involving so many different parties and individuals that it's going to find it very difficult to come to any sort of decision. It's going to be operating by default more than anything. We'll have to see whether this government can muster the will to approach the United States and say "yes, we do want to negotiate a follow-up treaty to the security agreement," and then to pull it off within the time period that works. For U.S. forces to fulfill the promise to withdraw before the end of 2011, they would have to set things in motion by June of 2011 at the latest.
His answer seems to rely on the Parliament. If so, the Parliament's had no power over the SOFA under Nouri nor -- pay attention -- did it have any power when the UN mandate was the issue. (The SOFA replaced the UN mandate for the occupation.) The mandate was yearly. As 2006 drew to a close, Nouri signed off on a renewal. Parliament went into an uproar when they found out (after the fact). They said it was a violation of the Constitution (it was) and that they'd pass new legislation if they ahd to. Nouri told them he'd never, ever -- cross his heart -- do it again. Then, as 2007 drew to a close, Nouri yet again renewed the UN mandate without Parliament approval of input. Joost could be right -- and he knows a great deal more than I do about Iraq and many other things -- but his answer appears to rely on the power of Parliament and -- under Nouri -- the Parliament's had no power. If he's relying on the Cabinet to define "government," Nouri's never maintained a full Cabinet. From the beginning, in the spring of 2006, he wasn't able to put together a full Cabinet and his first term was notable only for the many ministers who dropped out. The Cabinet may be approved by Parliament but, after that, no one's yet to demonstrate they had any real power except Nouri. On Nouri and the government, Michael Jansen (Gulf Times) observed over the weekend:
More than nine and a half months after Iraqis went to the polls in a credible parliamentary election, Nouri Al Maliki secured confirmation of an "inclusive" government comprised of Sunnis, Shiites, and Kurds. However, during the over-long period of gestation, the process of forming the government lost credibility.
Furthermore, the government itself has little credibility because it is comprised of faction figures nominated just 24 hours before Maliki announced his line-up rather than competent technocrats who could solve Iraq's many urgent problems. Maliki's cabinet has 42 ministries but he could make firm appointments to only 29 posts because of factional bickering.
Ten portfolios are temporary while Maliki retains the sensitive ministries of defence, interior and national security until agreement can be made on permanent candidates for these ministries. This means the jockeying for position and power continues while Iraqis suffer from insecurity, unemployment, lack of electricity, and inadequate services.
Global Post adds, "Meantime, seven years after the U.S.-led invasion, the deplorable state of public services, especially electricity, remains a top concern. Severe power rationing remains routine and sparked deadly protests during the summer as temperatures soared above 120 degrees across central and southern Iraq." AKnews reports one effort to address the lack of improvements: The Parliament has a (binding? non-binding?) new set of rules wherein MPs who do not attend sessions will not be paid the US equivalent of $400. Binding or non-binding, it's a joke. Last month, Barbara Surk (AP) reported that the MPs received $90,000 per diem and $22,500 per month. If an MP missed every session and there was at least one session a week? They'd be out $20,000. Less than one month's pay. Some 'action.' Sammy Ketz (AFP) reported, "Female MPs, both religious and secular, have slammed the under-represention of women in Iraqi institutions, especially government, sparking public soul-searching by male parliamentarians." Ketz quotes various MPs including MP Aatab al-Duri who says, "I am astonished at the absence of women in the government."
Meanwhile Bloomberg News notes, "Revenue from Iraq's crude oil exports rose to $4.62 billion (Dh 16.9 billion) in November, the highest level this year, the State Oil Marketing Organisation said." Covering this news, Al Jazeera TV this morning announced, "It is the first time that Iraq haas reached this level of production in twenty years." That apparently passes for news that matters. This despite that fact that the entire hour, Al Jazeera never even noted the Ramadi bombing.
In other violence today, Reuters notes a Dujail roadside bombing claimed the life of 1 "Christian woman and wounded her husband" while a Baghdad attack left two police officers injured.
Following the US invasion, the US made the residents of Camp Ashraf -- Iranian refuees who had been in Iraq for decades -- surrender weapons and also put them under US protection. They also extracted a 'promise' from Nouri that he would not move against them. July 28th the world saw what Nouri's 'promises' were actually worth. Since that Nouri-ordered assault in which at least 11 residents died, he's continued to bully the residents. Denis G. Campbell (Truthout) reports today, "Exiled after attempting to overthrow the shah of Iran, the largely secular 3,400 Ashraf residents are involved in a high-stakes power game virtually invisible to most in the West. These refugees have been denied medical treatment, live under physical and emotional threat and daily face the possibility of genocide. Iranian intelligence and Iraqi government tormentors engage daily in around-the-clock psychological torture. They want the camp closed and its residents driven back into Iran - which would mean their certain death." The US Committee For Camp Ashraf Residents notes:
In a letter earlier today to Assistant Secretary of State, Jeffrey Feltman, the U.S. Committee for Camp Ashraf Residents (USCCAR) expressed dismay over the State Department's lack of action to halt the continuing atrocities perpetrated against the residents of Ashraf by Iraqi security forces.
The letter came on the heels of a brutal, unprovoked attack Sunday afternoon by Iraqi forces against members of Iran's main opposition, the People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), in Camp Ashraf, Iraq. Dozens of residents were severely wounded, including Mr. Behrouz Mohajer, who sustained chest injuries and is in critical condition.
USCCAR wrote, "It is now abundantly clear that the continued U.S. inaction vis-a-vis this deteriorating situation has further emboldened the committee in the Prime Minister [Nouri al-Maliki's] Office, tasked with the destroying Ashraf, to step up the suppression of the residents."
The letter stressed that the United States' see-no-evil-hear-no-evil attitude toward Ashraf residents, "Protected Persons" under the Fourth Geneva Convention, is in violation of Article 45 of that convention and a clear disregard for the call made by a bi-partisan majority of the U.S. House of Representatives who called "upon the President to take all necessary and appropriate steps to support the commitments of the United States" toward Ashraf residents.
"It is also contrary to the solemn pledges you personally made in a recent Congressional hearing in response to the expression of concern by senior members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, including the outgoing and the incoming chairs of the Committee, over the State Department's ambivalence towards the plight of the residents and the continuing and blatant violation of basic human rights of the residents of Ashraf," the latter added.
USCCAR urged Ambassador Feltman, as the official directly responsible for this portfolio in the State Department "to personally and immediately intervene to bring an end the assaults and the inhuman treatment of the residents of Ashraf, including the round-the-clock deafening barrage of 140 loudspeakers and the persistent deprivation of medical assistance to needy patients at the Camp." USCCAR also called on the United States "to abide by its treaty and international obligations and resume the protection of Camp Ashraf," emphasizing that "urgent action by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is vital for averting another humanitarian catastrophe at Camp Ashraf."

Turning to the topic of Bradley Manning. Monday April 5th, WikiLeaks released US military video of a July 12, 2007 assault in Iraq. 12 people were killed in the assault including two Reuters journalists Namie Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh. Monday June 7th, the US military announced that they had arrested Bradley Manning and he stood accused of being the leaker of the video. Leila Fadel (Washington Post) reported in August that Manning had been charged -- "two charges under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The first encompasses four counts of violating Army regulations by transferring classified information to his personal computer between November and May and adding unauthorized software to a classified computer system. The second comprises eight counts of violating federal laws governing the handling of classified information." Manning has been convicted in the public square despite the fact that he's been convicted in no state and has made no public statements -- despite any claims otherwise, he has made no public statements. Manning is now at Quantico in Virginia, under military lock and key and still not allowed to speak to the press. Paul Courson (CNN) notes Bradley is a suspect and, "He has not admitted guilt in either incident, his supporters say." On this week's Law and Disorder Radio (began airing this morning on WBAI and around the country thorughout the rest of the week), hosts Michael S. Smith and Michael Ratner noted Bradley.
Michael S. Smith: Michael, Bradley Manning the US Army private is alleged to have leaked all kinds of stuff exposing the United States war in Iraq and other places. He's been in solitary confinement now for five months, what's the update for that?
Michael Ratner: He is 22-years-old. He is actually, if you add up his time that he spent overseas -- which was two months of solitary which was in Kuwait -- and now five months at Quantico Virginia, we're talking about leaving someone in a deep, dark hole for seven months. And the most important article was written by Glenn Greenwald in Salon. It's called the "Inhumane Conditions of Bradley Manning's Detention." And I just recommend it because if you think that we turned a leaf, or turned a page, after we took the people at Guantanamo out of the hellhole of punative isolation and detention, you'd be wrong. Bradley Manning is in a situation that is certainly cruel and abusive and that many of us think amounts to torture. Bradley Manning is in sensory deprivation, he's getting sleep deprived. He doesn't even have a sheet or a pillow to sleep on. And what they're doing, they're trying -- I presume -- they're trying to break this guy's will. They're trying to do what we've discussed on this program time and again of the old -- what Al McCoy called the techniques that the US has been using to break people for scores of years including at Guantanamo an it's a form of torture and people ought to object. This is outrageous. Right in Quantico, in this country, Bradley Manning is in a hellhole.
Hosts Michael S. Smith and Michael Ratner also addresed what's being done to political prisoner Lynne Stewart and Ruth and/or Mike may note that tonight but we'll note it tomorrow as well in the snapshot.

David E. Coombs is Bradley's attorney and we'll note this from Coombs' "A Typical Day for PFC Bradley Manning:"

PFC Manning is currently being held in maximum custody. Since arriving at the Quantico Confinement Facility in July of 2010, he has been held under Prevention of Injury (POI) watch.

His cell is approximately six feet wide and twelve feet in length.

The cell has a bed, a drinking fountain, and a toilet.

The guards at the confinement facility are professional. At no time have they tried to bully, harass, or embarrass PFC Manning. Given the nature of their job, however, they do not engage in conversation with PFC Manning.

At 5:00 a.m. he is woken up (on weekends, he is allowed to sleep until 7:00 a.m.). Under the rules for the confinement facility, he is not allowed to sleep at anytime between 5:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. If he attempts to sleep during those hours, he will be made to sit up or stand by the guards.

He is allowed to watch television during the day. The television stations are limited to the basic local stations. His access to the television ranges from 1 to 3 hours on weekdays to 3 to 6 hours on weekends.

He cannot see other inmates from his cell. He can occasionally hear other inmates talk. Due to being a pretrial confinement facility, inmates rarely stay at the facility for any length of time. Currently, there are no other inmates near his cell.

From 7:00 p.m. to 9:20 p.m., he is given correspondence time. He is given access to a pen and paper. He is allowed to write letters to family, friends, and his attorneys.

Each night, during his correspondence time, he is allowed to take a 15 to 20 minute shower.

On weekends and holidays, he is allowed to have approved visitors see him from 12:00 to 3:00 p.m.

He is allowed to receive letters from those on his approved list and from his legal counsel. If he receives a letter from someone not on his approved list, he must sign a rejection form. The letter is then either returned to the sender or destroyed.

He is allowed to have any combination of up to 15 books or magazines. He must request the book or magazine by name. Once the book or magazine has been reviewed by the literary board at the confinement facility, and approved, he is allowed to have someone on his approved list send it to him. The person sending the book or magazine to him must do so through a publisher or an approved distributor such as Amazon. They are not allowed to mail the book or magazine directly to PFC Manning.
Meanwhile Al Jazeera (via African Online) reports, "The United Nations office for torture issues in Geneva is now investigating a complaint that the torturing Bradley Manning. Manning is the detained Army private suspected of giving classified documents to WikiLeaks. He has been held in solitary confinement for seven months despite being an exemplary prisoner. Many experts believe that being held in solitary confinement for an extended period of time does constitute torture. The U.N. said it received a complaint from one of Manning's supporters alleging conditions at the brig amount to torture. According to the U.N., the complaint received alleges that Manning's physical and mental health are deteriorating in the face of continual solitary confinement. The office of Manfred Nowak, special lawyer on torture based in Geneva, confirmed that they are investigating the report. A spokesman for the Marines denied mistreating Manning, telling the AP he is being kept safe, secure and ready for trial."
In entertainment and peace and violence news, Louis Proyect (The Unrepentant Marxist) has an insightful review of the just-released True Grit film. Lastly, Women's Voices, Women Vote issued the following last week:
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