Saturday, January 12, 2013

Did I say too much?

I check my phone this morning and I've got four texts from Kat.

She's asking, "Did I say too much?"

She was worried about this "Zero Dark Thirty and the shameful Center for Constitutional Rights."  I'm on the East Coast and she's on the West Coast (she'll be back on the East Coast on Fridays shortly) so I didn't want to wake her up and I texted her back.

She didn't do anything wrong.

A number of C.I.'s friends (artists) are enraged over what was done to Kathryn Bigelow.  The way sexist men and queen bee women joined in an attack on a film, the way they distorted the artist's intent and deliberately lie about the film's message.  They're furious about these efforts to force an artist out of the marketplace.

They want every Michael Ratner asshole to pay for what they did.

So they're going about that now.

C.I.'s not going to care that Kat wrote about that.

Kat writes about a director friend of C.I.'s who is especially outraged.

C.I.'s not going to care about that.  C.I. is certainly not going to be upset that the director's quoted.  He's wanted to be quoted -- by name -- at C.I.'s site.  He wanted to put up a blurb praising it.  C.I. said no. 

But that director and C.I. are famously close. 

He's (a) the one who was Ty's first boss and (b) the one Ty's written of.

In 2002, a group of Hollywood lefties -- big money -- met up.  They were discussing a number of topics, it was a political meeting, including fund raising for the Democratic Party. The issue of the potential Iraq War came up.  People were okay with silence, they just wanted to elect Dems.  No need to call out the plans for war.  C.I. was outraged.  She was so angry, she was trembling.  She went to her quiet place, found her strength, stood up and read them the riot act.  (See Coming Home, when Jane Fonda tells off the military wives doing a military base newsletter who won't include the disabled and what they're going through in the VA.) 

These were power-brokers in the entertainment world.  C.I. told them off and the director was there.  She and the director were friends for years.  But as C.I. finished, the director applauded, got up and joined her in walking out of that room.

He will tell you this story.  He will also tell you how he told her, "You just made some big enemies."  She said she didn't care and she said they'd all fall from grace within four years.  All but one did.  It took this one man six years to fall from grace.  Not sure whether C.I. assisted their falls.  Wouldn't be surprised if she did.

But there's nothing in there that's going to bother C.I.

As Kat notes, currently, C.I.'s trying to get to a calm place to figure out where she stands when anger leaves the picture.  When she does that, the director believes she'll join them in extracting punishment on those who condemned art. 

I agree, actually.  Why?

Because of the fact that C.I. is the biggest believer in art.  She'll downgrade her own, she'll insist she's no big deal.  But she will praise many artists.  She doesn't hand out empty compliments.  She means it when she gives a compliment.  She's also not stingy with praise. 

A lot of people were surprised when she and Ava praised Patricia Heaton for Heaton's performance in The Middle ("TV: Middle?").  No reason to be.  C.I. respects art.  She was blown away by Heaton's performance and she had no reason not to praise it because, to her, art is one of the most important things in the world and you do not lie about it. 

That people who are too chicken to call out Barack Obama for what he is doing are slamming Bigelow for a film they are intentionally misunderstanding?  That pisses C.I. off. 

There are a lot of people who give lip service to 'don't politicize the arts!'  I can think of one friend of C.I.'s who took out a full page ad in Variety once on that topic.  But they don't usually mean it.  The person who took out that ad does more than anything to punish political enemies.  For C.I., it's about the art.  She doesn't take John Wayne seriously because she finds his work lacking in art.  (She'll note he was a movie star and popular -- like Gary Cooper -- but not an artist of any great talent.)  But it's about the art.  She loves some of Bob Hope's films and Bob was quite the War Cheerleader. 

It's about the art with her.  She applauds art. 

Her favorite Bob Hope film is My Favorite Brunette.  You've got Bob and Republican Dorothy Lamour.  Why should she love the film?  Because she finds it hysterical and thinks there is so much art (especially in the sets, she is crazy for the sets in that film) in it.

Kat, if you've seen my text and are reading this, no, C.I.'s not going to be upset about anything in there.

(I didn't touch on your comments about CCR only because she's not going to defend the Center for Constitutional Rights when the issue is Matthew Diaz.  CCR should have been shut down over what they did to Diaz.  They should have to beg forgiveness every day for what they did.)

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):

Friday, January 11, 2012.  Chaos and violence continue, Iraq sees another prison break,  Iraqis demonstrate around the country, clerics and political officials issue statements of support for the protesters, political leaders make it clear repeatedly that Iraq is on the wrong path, and more.
As US President Barack Obama prepares for his second term, the Cabinet faces changes.  Feminist Majority Foundation issued the following today on the departure of the Secretary of Labor:
For Immediate Release:
January 11, 2013
Kari Ross
Eleanor Smeal, President of the Feminist Majority Foundation and Feminist Majority
Statement on the Departure of Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis
The Feminist Majority Foundation and Feminist Majority salute Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, the first Latina to head a major federal agency, for her outstanding accomplishments in fighting for women workers and for all workers.  Solis' leadership was especially important at a time when the United States was facing the worst recession since the Great Depression and women workers were, for the first time, roughtly one-half of the nation's paid workforce.  She brought a unique Latina, feminist, environmentalist and union perspective to the Department.  Secretary Solis made sure women workers were not forgotten as she worked to fight for and support policies to create more jobs.  Never forgetting her own roots, she found passion for, believed in, and valued the common people and their struggles for advancement as well as the importance of the union movement for build the middle class. 
Secretary Solis was always on the front lines fighting for women workers.  She reinvigorated the Women's Bureau, reached out to women's organizations fighting to increase employment opportunities for women and expanded funding for community colleges that service millions of low income women.  In funding programs at community colleges, the Labor Department, as Solis has stated, expanded "employer-specific" job training for millions of people and "transformed" community colleges into an "engine of economic growth."
Ms. Magazined heralded Secretary Solis' appointment with a headline "New Sheriff in Town; the First Latina to Head Labor will Enforce Fair Treatment for all U.S. Workers."  She did exactly that.  The Labor Department, under her leadership, enforced federal contract compliance regulations and wage and hour regulations protecting workers, especially women, people of color, low income individuals, and retirees.  The Department Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs conducted an impressive number of investigations and collected a record amount of back wages for workers who had been denied overtime and leave benefits as well as pay owed them by their employers.  Moreover, the Labor Department under Solis recorded some $5 billion for retirees and their families.
Solis, a role model for equal employment, practiced what she preached.  She recruited and hired women and people of color to top leadership positions in the Department, including her chief of staff, chief economists, and as leaders of top bureaus, agencies and programs of the department.  Solis, in very difficult times, revived and greatly strengthened the Department of Labor's legacy for improving workers' rights and economic justice.  The Feminist Majority and Feminist Majority Foundation look forward to supporting her in new capacities as she continues her work and passion for working women and men as well as economic and social justice.
After announcing her decision to step down, Hilda Solis offered her thoughts on the position in a series of Tweets including:
As the first Latina to head a major federal agency, it has been a great honor to serve as the nation's 25th secretary of labor.
Thank you for your talent & dedication. And thank you to the organizers who ensure workers have a voice on the job and a seat at the table.
We've accomplished much over the last 4 years, but none of it would have been possible without our greatest asset: America's workers.
In Iraq, many things take place that influence the country's direction.  Also true, events outside of Iraq can impact the country as well.  For years now, the Turkish military has been using war planes to bomb northern Iraq with the stated intent of killing the PKK.  Who are the PKK?     Aaron Hess (International Socialist Review) described the PKK in 2008, "The PKK emerged in 1984 as a major force in response to Turkey's oppression of its Kurdish population. Since the late 1970s, Turkey has waged a relentless war of attrition that has killed tens of thousands of Kurds and driven millions from their homes. The Kurds are the world's largest stateless population -- whose main population concentration straddles Turkey, Iraq, Iran, and Syria -- and have been the victims of imperialist wars and manipulation since the colonial period. While Turkey has granted limited rights to the Kurds in recent years in order to accommodate the European Union, which it seeks to join, even these are now at risk."
Three PKK members were killed yesterday -- as CNN Mohammed Tawfeeq noted in a Tweet.
Diane Rhem: Courtney, tell us about these Kurdish activists who were slain in Paris on Thursday.
Courtney Kube: Yeah, it wasn't -- at first -- a well publicized story and then it really started to break yesterday in the international media.  There were these three Kurdish exiles that were working in Paris.  They went --
Diane Rehm: Female.
Courtney Kube: Female.  All young women.  I was astonished, one of them was born in 1988.  I thought, "Wow, how young."  But they went missing the other night.  Their friends broke into their offices and they were found to have been executed.  In fact, the French Interior Minister showed up within hours and he said that they were summarily executed on the site.  So the problem with this is, you know, as in situations like this, there's all differenst sides and people blaming -- one side blaming the other.  The PKK is saying that they believe the Turkish government -- Turkish nationalist -- who were angry at recent talks between Turkey and the PKK who don't want the Kurds to have any additional power, autonomy or rights -- that they did this as a show to break down the talks.  The PKK is -- Or, I'm sorry, the Turkish government is saying that there's infighting between the PKK, that these people, they are the ones who are very militant who don't want talks.  I mean, whatever side ends up being correct, if one of the two, what is clear out of this is that the talks that have just began recently -- Prime Minister [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan just acknowledged them, that they've been speaking to this PKK leader who's been jailed in solitary confiencement for the last decade, that the Intelligence Ministry has been speaking to him to try and broker some sort of an end to the violence.  And those talks are in serious jeopardy over this incident.  
The three women killed were Sakine Cansiz, Fidan Dogan and Leyla Soylemez.  Guney Yildiz (BBC News) offers this analysis:
It is the first time that such a senior member of the PKK has been killed in Europe. There has been a tacit agreement between the PKK and the Turkish government that no such high-profile attacks would be carried out against either senior PKK members or senior members of the government.
During the 1980s, there were some attacks believed to be from within the Turkish state against members of the militant Armenian group Asala, but there have been no political assassinations targeting the PKK.
The Paris killings come against the backdrop of fresh peace talks between jailed PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan and the Turkish government. Those talks have not been easy and have opponents on both sides.
The Turkish government says the previous round of peace talks was derailed because of a clash between Turkish soldiers and the PKK in June 2011.
Thursday's killings will make the current negotiations even more difficult, no matter who might be behind the attack.
Violence continues in Iraq today.  Bombings are getting press attention.  All Iraq News notes a Babylon roadside bombing targeted police officers today.  The Iraq Times, citing a police source, notes police were targeted with a Kirkuk bombing as well; however it ended up killing 1 bystander and injuring another.  Trend News Agency reports a Taj bombing has claimed the lives of 3 police officers.  In addition, Alsumaria notes that a woman's corpse (burned to death) was found dumped in Sulaymaniyah Province.

Today's primary focus, however, was on an escape. The Iraq Times reports there has been a Taji prison break with 12 prisoners fleeing -- some of whom are said to have been sentenced to death.  AP states the inmates escaped through cell windows.  Al Bawaba adds, "While sources agree that all of the inmates who broke out of jail on Friday are Iraqi, the number is disputed. An interior ministry official put the number at 12 while a military source claimed there were 16 escapees."  An unnamed military officer tells AFP, "They escaped from Taji prison after they got hold of the guards' weapons.  It could be there was cooperation from the guards."
Protests continued in Iraq today.   AFP's Prashant Rao Tweeted:
.@AFP pictures from today's #Iraq demos in Baghdad, Ramadi, Kirkuk and Najaf: 
Nouri used the extra-Constitutional Tigris Operation Command to suppress movement in Kirkuk, Alsumaria reports, and the military force prevented people from entering.  They cut off roads in an attempt to stop those marching in Hawija as well.  Demonstration organizer Banyan Obeidi tells the network that the Tigris Operation Command was not present to provide protection but to prevent the demonstrators and to block them."  In Nineveh Province, Alsumaria reports the people turned out following morning prayers and that they renewed their call for the innocent prisoners and detainees to be released and for those officials who have raped and tortured women in Iraqi prisons to be prosecuted.  Nineveh Province is where Nouri has sent the military in an attempt to stop the protests.  But the governor of the province, Atheel al-Nujaifi (also spelled Ethel al-Nujaifi) has refused to allow the protests to be stopped and declared this week, "I am not an employee of Nouri al-Maliki.  I am servant to the people of Nineveh."  al-Nujaifi is the brother of Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi.  He is also in conflict with Nouri who, in 2011, began demanding that al-Nujaifi step down as governor.  Currently, al-Nujaifi is demanding that Nouri hand over a soldier to the province, the soldier raped a young girl.  Nouri's refused to honor the arrest warrant.  al-Nuajifi is also demanding a serious investigation into Monday's protest when Nouri's military ignored al-Nujaifi and the Provincial Council's orders that the square in downtown Mosul be opened to the protesters, the military ignored it and moved in injuring at least four protesters in the process. 
Omar al-Saleh:  It's the third consecutive week of protests and the numbers are increasing. Tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets across Sunni provinces including parts of Baghdad.  But despite the heavy security presence and attempts by the army to prevent people from reaching mosques, many showed up for Friday prayers.  At  Umm al-Qura mosque, politicians and clerics called on protesters to carry on.
Rafiaa al-Issawi: I warn the army against being a tool to curb protesters.  I call on you to carry on until your demands are met.
Omar al-Saleh:  In Ramadi, the birth place of the protests, tens of thousands continued their sit-in.  They warned Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki of using force against them.  In Samarra and Mosul, thousands more demanded an end to what they describe as a marginalization of Sunnis.  They also want the abolishment of an anti-terrorism law which they say targets them.  And the release of Sunni prisoners.   The government's stance is that all demands should be dealt with according to the Iraqi Consittution.  It blames foreign countries of supporting the protesters to ignite a sectarian strife.  
Alsumaria reports that cleric and leader of the Islamic Supreme Council delivered a sermon today calling for dialogue among all the parties and refusing to lay the blame on protesters.   Also weigh in?  Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani whose message today, delivered by Sheikh Abdel Mahdi al-Karbalai during morning prayers, was a call for unity and responsibility.  Alsumaria reports he stated that the political blocs are responsible for the current problems and that the politicians and the security services must exercise restraint and utilize wisdom.  He warned against attacking the protesters.  All Iraq News notes that he spoke of the need for government institutions to be independent and to preserve the independence so that no one official could exploit the powers of the government for personal gain.  Cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr also weighed in today.  Kitabat notes that Moqtada explained the popular protests in Mosul, Salahuddin and Anbar are not against government but against policies and that it is the right of the Iraqi to speak their beliefs.   He noted that there had been some early mistakes (referring to some slogans and banners in early protests -- they generally expressed the not uncommon belief in Iraq that things were better before the US invasion) but that these are cries to rally the nation.  He stated that Nouri is the one throwing out obstacles.  Alsumaria reports Minister Rafia al-Issawi and Sunni Endowment president Ahmed Abdul-Ghafoor Samarrai showed their support by attending a demonstration in Baghdad following morning prayers.  All Iraq News reports Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq issued a statement today declaring that force should not be used against the protesters.   Others went further.  For example, Kitabat reports Sunni Sheikh Abdul Malik Saadi stated that it is the resposibility of Iraq's rulers to hear the protesters' demands, that it is the right of citizens to exercise their rights, and that the security forces are to provide security and their role is not to target the protesters but to protect them.  The Iraqi people are partners in the country, the Sheikh noted, citizens, military, they are partners.  He called on the protesters to be strong and patient, not to take up arms and he called on the military to protect the protesters.

Of course, there are two groups of protesters in Iraq currently.  First you have the vast group of thousands of  legitimate protesters asking for a better Iraq and then you have the tiny bands of Nouri's goons who sometimes make it into the 'hundreds.'  Both were out today.

The tiny faux group registered the most in Najaf.  Let's call them the Pat Boones.   A sign of how small they are?  All Iraq News notes "dozens."  But then few want to be an ass kisser.  Visit any high school and ask for a show of hands if you doubt it.  The Pat Boones are demanding that things stay the same and that mass arrests continue.  Aswat al-Iraq adds that they are calling "for boycotting Turkish and Qatari companies.  They found support from State of Law MP Ali Mirza who called for his "government to deny work for Turkish and Qatari companies, as well as reviewing diplomatic relations in order to cut off relations with them."  Press TV notes a small turn out in Basra as well.

By contrast, Kitabat notes "tens of thousands" of real protesters turned out forllowing Friday prayers.   Alsumaria notes thousands marched in Salahuddin Province to show their support with the Anbar Province protesters who are demonstrating and continue their sit-in.   The outlet notes that local officials, religious scholars and tribal leaders are part of the demonstrations and that the demands include the release of the innocent prisoners and detainees, the prosecution of those who have tortured or raped Iraqi women in the Iraqi prisons and detention centers, and for the government to change its current course.  Salam Faraj and Jafia Abduljabbar (AFP) report that protests took place in Ramadi, Samarra, Mosul, Tikrit, Adhamiyah and Ghazaliyah and "Protesters also blocked off the highway linking Iraq to Syria and Jordan for a 20th day in western Anbar province, while in the northern city of Kirkuk, hundreds of protesters waved banners and raised flags".  Patrick Markey and Suadad al-Salhy (Reuters) observe, "Three weeks of mass protests reflect deep discontent among Sunnis who say Maliki's Shi'ite-led government has marginalised their minority community, increasing worries Iraq may slide back into the sectarian violence of its recent past."  The World Tribune notes, "The protesters blocked a highway to Jordan and Syria, which halted trade and passengers to and from Iraq."
In one of the more surprising moments of unity today, the KDP and PUK declared their support for the protesters.  The Kurdistan Democratic Party and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan are the two big political parties -- political rivals -- in the KRG.  Iraqi President Jalal Talabani (currently receiving medical treatment in Germany) is the leader of the PUK while Massoud Barzani is the President of the Kurdistan Regional Government (semi-autonomous region in northern Iraq) and the leader of the KDP.  Alsumaria reports the two parties came together today to make a joint declaration of support for the protesters and to insist that the course the country is on is wrong and unacceptable.

The Iraq Times reports that Ayad Allawi, leader of Iraqiya (political slate that came in first in the 2010 parliamentary elections) held a press conference today to talk about the crisis that has led to demonstrations throughout Iraq.  He noted that Iraqiya and he himself had been sounding alarms for some time about what was taking place.  He noted the policies (being implemented by Nouri) were dividing the country and he called for unity to protect Iraq.  Iraqiya won in 2010 as part of Iraq's rejection of sectarianism.  This trend could be seen in the 2009 provincial elections as well.
This embrace of a national identity could have been fostered, could have been encouraged.  The US government refused to do that.  There was more concern in the Obama White House that Nouri al-Maliki get a second term than that the voters in Iraq be listened to, that the Constitution be honored or that democracy be assisted.  The White House backed Nouri who threw a tantrum which lasted over eight months as he refused to allow the Iraqi government to move forward.  While he dug his feet in refusing to allow a new prime minister to be named, Barack had the US government spend their time in Iraq trying to force the various political actors to accept a second term for Nouri.  Since he didn't win the election, the Constitution couldn't allow this.  So the White House came up with the Erbil Agreement to get around the voters and the Constitution.  The Erbil Agreement was a legal contract that the White House assured political leaders was binding and that it would have the US government's full support.  In the contract, political leaders agree to allow Nouri to have a second term as prime minister.  In exchange, Nouri agrees to allow various things to happen such as he agrees to implement Article 140 of the Iraqi Constitution -- a census and referendum will be held in Kirkuk to determine who has claim to the disputed area. 
The things he agrees to in this contract are largely things he was already supposed to do. Article 140, for example, is the Constitution and he was supposed to have implemented that no later than the end of 2007 -- it's written into the Constitution, that date.  From 2006 to 2010, Nouri had every opportunity to implement Article 140.  He refused to do so.
Why in the world would the Kurds (who see Kirkuk as their region) believe Nouri would now implement it?
Because the White House voched for the contract.  The White House swore -- US Vice President Joe Biden personally gave Iraqi President Jalal Talabani his word -- that the Erbil Agreement would be followed, the US government would insist upon it.
In addition to the White House insisting they would back the contract, the White House also used shame on the Iraqi politicians.  For over eight months, no government had been seated.  An election took place, no one was seated from it.  It was the record at that time.  It was embarrassing and the White House played that angle and they also told the various political blocs that Nouri had no intention of stepping down so the stalemate could go on for months more.  'Be the adult,' the other political blocs were told, 'and let Iraq move forward.'
So they signed this contract (November 2010) and immediately after Nouri was named prime minister-designate.  This is November.  Nouri immediately cancels the planned census for December 2010.  It's just temporary, he insists.  And these other things he's supposed to do, it's too soon, but he will do them.  Ayad Allawi and Iraqiya called him out but the press rushed to cover for Nouri.  Even when Nouri couldn't name a Cabinet in 30 days, the press covered for Nouri insisting in January 2011 that he would name a Minister of Defense, a Minister of National Security and a Minister of Interior in a matter of weeks.  Yet back in July, Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) observed, "Shiite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has struggled to forge a lasting power-sharing agreement and has yet to fill key Cabinet positions, including the ministers of defense, interior and national security, while his backers have also shown signs of wobbling support."    That's still true. 
Nouri didn't follow the contract.  He used the Erbil Agreement to get his second term and then trashed it.  By the summer of 2011, that was obvious to Moqtada al-Sadr, the Kurds and Iraqiya who were publicly calling him out for his refusal to follow the Erbil Agreement.  And the US?  Silent.  Forgotten and ignored were all the promises that the Erbil Agreement was a binding contract and that the White House would stand behind it.  It's not only destroyed the way political leaders see the US government, it's harmed Iraq, denying democracy, making a mockery out of the Iraqi Constitution and telling voters that they don't determine who rules, the US government does.
For more on that, you can refer to John Barry's "'The Engame' Is A Well Researched, Highly Critical Look at U.S. Policy in Iraq" (Daily Beast):

Washington has little political and no military influence over these developments [in Iraq]. As Michael Gordon and Bernard Trainor charge in their ambitious new history of the Iraq war, The Endgame, Obama's administration sacrificed political influence by failing in 2010 to insist that the results of Iraq's first proper election be honored: "When the Obama administration acquiesced in the questionable judicial opinion that prevented Ayad Allawi's bloc, after it had won the most seats in 2010, from the first attempt at forming a new government, it undermined the prospects, however slim, for a compromise that might have led to a genuinely inclusive and cross-sectarian government."
Today in DC at the US State Dept press briefing, spokesperson Victoria Nuland was asked about Iraq and we'll note this.
QUESTION: Victoria, the schism within the Iraqi coalitions and political forces and so on is getting wider. And in fact, you talked about the Sunni/Shia divide in Pakistan. It's also getting quite obvious in Iraq. Some people are calling for the government to dissolve. Some people are calling for the parliament to dissolve. Maliki's saying that he's collected 130 names from the parliament to call for a new elections or dissolve it and so on. Are these just parliamentarian machinations, or are the they the birth pangs of democracy, or are we seeing the country being split along sectarian lines?
MS. NULAND: Well, we've talked about this quite a bit over the last few weeks, if not even before Christmas. Obviously, we're concerned about increased political tensions inside Iraq. We have continually met with people on all sides, calling on them to exercise restraint, to respect the right of peaceful expression, to talk to each other, to engage in a broad national dialogue on the issues that divide them, and particularly that all parties ought to avoid any actions that subvert the rule of law or that provoke ethnic and sectarian tensions or risk undermining the significant progress that Iraq has made or the Iraqi constitution, which is obviously very carefully and delicately balanced. So we will continue the advocacy efforts in that direction that Ambassador Steve Beecroft makes every single day with Iraqis of all stripes.
Any US governemnt official pontificating about "rule of law" looks like an idiot to Iraqis because the White House disregarded the Iraqi Constitution and the will of the voters to keep Nouri prime minister.   As for US Ambassador Stephen Beecroft, All Iraq News reports he visited the office of Ammar al-Hakim, leader of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, Thursday and that he and al-Hakim discussed the need to preserve calm and not escalate the current crisis."

Wednesday, January 09, 2013


I saw the headline to Genevra Pittman's Reuters article and thought, "I'd rather write about anything else."

I would too.  Suicide.

Youth suicide.

The article explains the latest national study has found that one out of every 25 teenagers in America have attempted suicide.

That's not just thought of it, not just a fleeting thought like, "I wouldn't have to deal with this if I were dead."

One out of 25 American teens today have actually made an effort to take their own lives.

That goes far beyond thought.

That is very upsetting and the percentage appears to grow every year.

How are we failing -- repeatedly failing -- our young people?

It's an important question to ask.

I don't pretend I know the answer or answers.

That's among the reasons I see the topic and think, "Let me find something else to write about!"

1-800-273-TALK or 1-800-273-8255 is the national hotline and here's the website.

If you are thinking about taking your life, I would hope you would give it time to make sure this wasn't a momentary feeling or momentary difficulties.  I had a friend three years ago take his own life due to terminal cancer.  I did understand that.  It did not make me cry any less over his death, but I did understand it.

A lot of times, the issue may be feeling isolated and, stuck in your own thoughts, they just take on greater significance.  Remember that along with doctors and therapists, you have other resources.  Priests, preachers, pastors, rabbis, etc. can be people to talk to if you are comfortable with them.  Sometimes, it can just be a conversation with a good friend.  But if you are thinking about it, ask yourself what you would do if you could talk to anyone and see if there's not a person that you would like to talk to.

With that, if you're thinking, "I don't want her/him to know," if you're at that stage, if you're willing to do it, what do you have to lose.  Were it me, I would speak to anyone and everyone I thought could help and I would make sure I had done everything I always wanted.  For sure, I would have to see a circus.  My parents died when I was very young and, along with bookstores, circuses are among the memories I have of them, both of my parents loved the circus (or put on a good front for a young girl to be tricked).  So that is something I would have to do.  Maybe doing it, would make me realize that I could hang in a little longer?

When you're at that point, you should make sure you take the time to do all the things you have been putting off because (a) what do you have to lose and (b) it might help you see things in a different light.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):

Wednesday, January 9, 2013. Chaos and violence continue,  Nouri closes a road and a port, Allawi and Barzani meet, impeachment is floated, a development in the Bradley Manning case, and more.
As protests continue in Iraq, a new development emerges. Al Arabiya explains, "The Iraqi ministry of defense has closed the country's border crossing near Jordan on Wednesday at 6 a.m. (local time) without stated official reasons, an Al Arabiya correspondent reported. The Teraibeel border crossing near Jordan, an important commercial thoroughfare, is located in the Sunni stronghold Anbar province. Thousands of protesters have taken to the streets on a daily basis in the area against Shiite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and his government, accused of marginalizing Sunnis." Petra notes that the road wasn't the only thing closed, Port Trebil on the border Jordan shares with Iraq was shut down by the Iraq Ministry of Defense and that Anba Province's Vice Chair, Saadoun al-Shaalan, declared that the protesters did not disrupt the port or the international highway, that the provided services to those traveling on the road and he decries the closing of the port. Sameer N. Yacoub (AP) quotes protest organizer Saeed Hmaim stating, "The closure . . . serves only on purpose, and that is to damage the image of the protesters and depict them as troublemakers who want to make the lives of Iraqis more difficult. We will stand firm on our demands, and we will not be shaken by this irresponsible act." UPI continues that thread, "Hikmat Suleiman, a Sunni council leader in Anbar province, said the border closure was to put pressure on protesters. Local leaders expressed similar sentiments, saying the central government was waging an economic war on the anti-Maliki movement, reports al-Arabiya." Emirates News Agency adds that Jordan issued a statement which including that "Jordan is maintaining contact with Iraq through security and diplomatic channels to follow up on the issue." Reuters explains, "The protests have become a major test for Maliki, a Shi'ite nationalist whom many Sunni leaders accuse of marginalising their minority sect, shoring up his own authority and pushing the OPEC country closer to Shi'ite non-Arab power Iran." Alsumaria adds that Anbar Province council officials told them they will sue the federal government over the closing of the Port of Trebil ("without justification") .
Iraq came up in yesterday's US State Dept press briefing with regards to protest.
QUESTION: Some Iraqi officials are blaming the U.S. for supporting the demonstrations in Iraq against the government. Do you have any reaction?
MS. NULAND: We've talked about this a couple of times last week. We are not taking a side in any of these internal difficulties inside Iraq. We want to see the Iraqi stakeholders sitting down, talking, meeting, discussing, finding constitutional solutions to the various grievances on all of these issues. Our role has simply been to try to encourage the various stakeholders to talk to each other.
There was no mention of Iraq today.  And Nuland still hasn't called out the violence on Monday against protesters in Mosul  -- at least four were injured -- today Al Mada's Mohammad Sabah reports that 70 MPs have signed off on an investigation into how the protests in Nineveh Province ended in violence. Considering that Nuland's the one who raised the issue of violence -- when she falsely smeared the protesters -- you might think that now that it's been used against the protesters, Nuland would be right up front calling it out.  But nothing.  She's got nothing to say on the topic?  How telling.
Like Nuland's insanity, Nouri's crazy knows no bounds. Press TV quotes him without question stating, "If rallies go on without permission, or carry banners that compromise national security or private work, security should prevent them. " The protests are not illegal, they are not unconstitutional. The judiciary and the Parliament already rejected those claims by Nouri. As for a baner being able to "compromise national security," there's you clue right there that the US government better get its act together real damn quick and stop supporting Nouri. He is Little Saddam and every days he grows into a bigger and bigger despot.
A banner can be a threat to national security? That sounds like something Pinochet would do. When that despot came to power, the Guardian notes there were "four hundred US CIA experts [to] assist Pinochet." Thanks to Ted Koppel's report for Rock Center with Brian Williams (NBC) in December of 2011, we do know that the CIA has maintained an office and presence in Iraq.

MR. KOPPEL: I realize you can't go into it in any detail, but I would assume that there is a healthy CIA mission here. I would assume that JSOC may still be active in this country, the joint special operations. You've got FBI here. You've got DEA here. Can, can you give me sort of a, a menu of, of who all falls under your control?

AMB. JAMES JEFFREY: You're actually doing pretty well, were I authorized to talk about half of this stuff.
As to whether Nouri gets 400 (like Pinochet did) or more CIA agents hasn't been divulged at present.
As more and more walk away from Nouri, Salar Raza (Rudaw) offers his take on the status between the Kurds and Sunnis currently:
Their growing opposition to Iraq's Shiite-led government has pushed the country's Kurds and Sunni Arabs closer together, but problems between the two still persist, MPs from both sides say.
For the past several weeks Iraq's Shiite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has been besieged on two fronts, first by the autonomous Kurdistan Region's anger over Baghdad's efforts to take over security in disputed northern territories, and lately by Sunni-led protests over alleged discrimination against provinces where they are the majority.
"The Sunni Arab protests in Iraq have unified the Sunni and Kurdish position, but the two sides have not come close enough to solving problems between themselves," said Bakir Hama Sidiq, an MP from the Kurdistan Islamic Union (KIU).
"It is just events that have brought us and the Sunni Arabs together, nothing more," he added.
He said that while the two sides are in agreement in their opposition to Maliki, a signed alliance between them would have to be "based on belief in the rights of the Kurds, not only on mutual interests." He said he did not believe that the Sunni Arab Iraqiya coalition was ready to accept Kurdish rights, including those over the energy-rich disputed territories.
When talking about the relations between the Kurds and Iraqiya, one thing to note is that Iraq's president, who is Kurdish, is seeking medical help out of the country. Saturday, AP noted that the office of Iraq President Jalal Talabani has finally issued a statement identifying the incident that led to Talabani's hospitalization: a stroke. The incident took place late on December 17th (see the December 18th snapshot) and resulted in Jalal being admitted to Baghdad's Medical Center Hospital. Thursday, December 20th, he was moved to Germany. He remains in Germany currently. Al Mada reports today that Fuad Masum of the Kurdistan Alliance states he visited with Jalal yesterday and that he is "steadily improving" that Jalal was able to shake hands, that he listened and spoke -- and spoke to those in the room in Kurdish, Arabic and English.
Today Ayad Allawi, leader of Iraqiya visited Erbil in the Kurdistan Regional Government (semi-autonomous region in nothern Iraq).  While Allawi is a Shi'ite, Iraqiya is a mixed slate with a large Sunni presence.  Alsumaria reports Allawi was in Erbil to meet with KRG President Massoud Barzani and that the two agreed on a path to solving one of the country's current crises.  As that relationship sorts itself out, Nouri is more and more isolated.  From yesterday's snapshot:

Patrick Markey, Aseel Kami, Raheem Salman and Alistair Lyon (Reuters) report that "Iraqi Sunni Muslim and Kurdish ministers boycotted a cabinet sessions on Tuesday to show support for protests that threaten Shi'ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's fragile cross-sectarian government, lawmakers and a government source said."  Karafillis Giannoulis (New Europe) adds, "A senior government source confirmed that the ministers had missed Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's Cabinet Session because the ministers did not see a governmental action to implement protesters' demands."
AFP quoted Iraqiya's Jaber al-Jaberi who stated, "They made a decision to boycott the session today.  They don't see a response from the government to the demands of the protesters . . . or to accepting power-sharing."  Today al-Jaberi tells Reuters that the signatures are being gathered to compell Nouri to appear before Parliament for questioning and he's quoted stating, "The first step is questioning him and we presented a request today.  The next stage will be a vote of no confidence if we can get enough votes."  Could it happen?  Yes.  Nawzad Mahmood (Rudaw) notes:
Iraq's Kurds have been too patient with the Shiite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and it is time to have him impeached, Kurdish MPs said.
"We have to show Maliki our strongest reactions," urged Bakir Hama Siddiq, an MP from the Kurdistan Islamic Union (KIU).
"Maliki's policies and behavior must be ended. This prime minister has practically proven that he has nothing positive in his agenda," Siddiq said.
"Impeaching Maliki is still on the table and a consensus has formed among the political parties about the dire consequences facing Iraq if his State of Law party continues on its current path," according to Shwan Muhammad Taha, an MP of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) in Baghdad.

In other news, the Iraq Times has obtained a government document from the Ministry of Planning addressed to the Parliament which details the 'progress' of Nouri al-Maliki's Cabinet in 2011.  The newspaper states it is a clear portrait of government failure in all areas.   Less than 30% of tasked goals were accomplished for that year.  The most succesful branch was the Endowment which had a completion rate of 97.86% -- that would be a praise worthy figure for a cabinet or department in any country's national government.  The next most successful would be the Christians Bureau Endowments which had an 82.42% success rate.  The Ministry of Displacement (79.83%), the Supreme Judicial Council (85.79%) and the Ministry of Human Rights (78.73%) were among the other successful departments.  But then there were the very unsuccessful ones.  The Ministry of Education -- so important to what and where Iraq will be 20 years from now -- only managed to meet 5.46% of their written tasks for the year.   (The Ministry of Higher Education did somewhat better with 31.65%).  If you're wondering how so many departments could fail -- and the bulk fail -- you need look no further than the completion rate for Nouri's office.  24.53% was the completion rate for the Prime Minister's Office.

Another distrubing report on the goverment comes via Wael Grace (Al Mada) reports that Parliament's Committee on Human Rights has discovered that 34 prisoners or detainees died in October, November and December 2012.  The last three months alone, saw 34 deaths.  That is an alarming number (the prisons, jails, et al are responsible for maintaining the health of the prisoners and for treating any illness or medical conditions).  In other news of government abuse and neglect, All Iraq News notes Iraqiya MP Muhammad Iqbal notes that human rights continue to be violated and that arrests continue to take place without arrest warrants.  He points out that human rights are linked to a stable and prosperous life and sees the high rate of unemployment and wide rates of illiteracy as alarming signals that human rights may be declining across the board in Iraq.  He specifically calls out the arrest -- the warrant-less arrests -- of Iraqi women because the authorities want the women's sons or husbands or fathers.

All Iraq News notes that today Parliament began the first reading of the bill on the term limits for the three presidencies which, the outlet notes, has to do with limiting Nouri to two terms.  They don't note it but he did make a pledge to limit himself to two terms back in early 2011.  The press ran with it and applauded him.  Here?  We noted it wasn't sincere.  Sure enough, his spokesperson retracted the pledge in a news cycle and ever since, Nouri's attorney repeatedly tells the press that Nouri can run for a third term.

A third term of Nouri?  There would be no one to arrest (other than crooked Nouri).  He's done mass arrests for so long.  With some perspective on that,  Alsumaria notes that Diwaniya Province's Police Brigadier Abdul Jalil al-Asadi told them that they had arrested 4871 people last year, 125 on charges of terrorism (200 on trafficking in drugs).
Moving over to some of today's violence, Alsumaria reports that 2 Iraqi soldiers got into a dispute near the border with Syria and 1 shot the other dead and a Mosul roadside bombing claimed the life of 1 children and left four more injured. Just 9 days ago, December and 2012 ended and December 31st was a day that saw tremendous violence:
Violence slams Iraq today as both the month and the year wind down. Mu Xuequan (Xinhua) notes Iraq witnessed "a wave of bombings and shootings." EFE counts 23 dead and seventy-five injured.
Specific incidents of violence? All Iraq News notes a Baghdad mortar attack which left "multiple" people injured, an undisclosed number of people were injured in a Tuz Khurmatu car bombing, a Mosul polling stationg was attacked leaving 2 guards dead, there was an attack on a Sahwa leader's home in Diyala Province today that left 1 of his bodyguards dead, 3 Musayyib bombings have left 4 people dead and another seven injured, a Khalis car bombing has left fiften people injured and 2 Balad Ruz bombings left 4 members of one family dead and a child injured. Alsumaria notes that Ammar Youssef survived an attempted assassination by bombing today in Tikrit -- two civilians were injured in the bomb targeting the President of the Salahuddin Province Council. Alsumaria reports a Baghdad car bombing has claimed 3 lives and left sixteen injured. All Iraq News adds that the victims were largely part of a convoy planning a pilgrimage to pay respects to Imam Hussein. AP explains Imam Hussein is the grandson "of the Prophet Muhammad" who died in the 7th century. Press TV notes that the death toll in the Baghdad bombing has risen to 4 and 1 in Latifyah and 1 in Tuz Khurmatu. There was also a bombing in Hilla and Reuters quotes hospital worker Mohammed Ahmed who states, "We heard the sound of a big explosion and the windows of our office shattered. We immediately lay on the ground. After a few minutes I stood up and went to the windows to see what happened. I saw flames and people lying on the ground." On Hilla, Nehal el-Sherif (Deutsche Presse-Agentur) reports, "Seven people were killed and four wounded when gunmen blew up three houses, security sources told the German news agency dpa. The attack followed a car bombing that killed one person and wounded 17 near a Shiite mosque in the city." All Iraq News also notes that visitors to a Shi'ite shrine in Babylon were targeted with a car bombing, leaving 1 dead and three injured. And Alsumaria notes a Kirkuk rocket attack that left 5 police officers dead and six other people injured. RTE offers, "No group has claimed responsibility for any of the attacks, which targeted government officials, police patrols and members of both the Sunni and Shia sects."
AFP has an article today that explains why you don't use SITE -- it tells you nothing. A group has claimed credit Rita Katz & company say. What group? Uh . . . uh . . . A group! An al Qaeda front group!!!!! Well that narrows it down. Poor Rita Katz, life was so much easier when she was making things up in a 60 Minutes interview.
Did someone say 60 Minutes? Abu Ghraib is just to the west of Baghdad but is sometimes billed as part of the city of Baghdad. The confusion is aided by the fact that the infamous Abu Ghraib prison is known as Baghdad Central Prison today. (It is in Baghdad Province.) In 2004,
60 Minutes II broadcast the story of Abu Ghraib Prison and the abuses taking place there. Iraqis were being abused by Americans. It was part of terrorizing them and breaking them to use them in the future -- that was the purpose of the photographic evidence that 'intelligence' had guards taking.
The Bahrain News Agency notes, "US defense contractor whose subsidiary was accused of conspiring to torture Abu Ghraib prisoners has settled with former inmates for $5m (£3m, the BCC reported." The defense contractor is Engility Holdings. AFP elaborates that there were 72 plantiffs and they will split the $5.28 million (minus lawyers fees). AP says contractor CACI has yet to settle and that case is set to be tried over the summer.
Hamilton Nolan (Gawker) uses sarcasm in "Abu Ghraib Victims Richly Compensated for Their Troubles" and some may take him as being sincere.  He's not.  He's noting that the victims suffered rape, assault, humiliation, beatings and more and, before any expenses (attorneys' fees, etc) are deducted, each Iraqi would be getting $74,366.  That's really nothing wonderful.  Marjorie Censer (Washington Post) also points out, "For these sizeable contractors, a settlement of several million dollars generally isn't damaging to stock prices, but analysts said the companies are focused on defending their record."
There is a new development in the Bradley Manning case.  Who?
Monday April 5, 2010, 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 7, 2010, 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 2010 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." In March, 2011, David S. Cloud (Los Angeles Times) reported that the military has added 22 additional counts to the charges including one that could be seen as "aiding the enemy" which could result in the death penalty if convicted. The Article 32 hearing took place in December.  At the start of this year, there was an Article 32 hearing and, February 3rd, it was announced that the government would be moving forward with a court-martial.  Bradley has yet to enter a plea and has neither affirmed that he is the leaker nor denied it.  The court-martial was supposed to begin this month was been postponed until after the election .
Last night, Elaine covered Adrian Lamo -- the digusting person who claims he turned Bradley in. Llamo.   Free Speech Radio News broke the news for many today (link is text and audio):

A military judge ruled today that Private First Class Bradley Manning should get 112 days off of his potential sentence, because he was unnecessarily put on suicide prevention watch while detained at Quantico's military prison. Manning's defense had previously asked the tribunal to drop Manning's charges entirely or greatly reduce his sentence, arguing the pretrial conditions violated the Constitution and international law. But the Judge, Colonel Denise Lind, said 8th Amendment protections against cruel and unusual punishment don't apply to pretrial detention. And according to FIREDOGLAKE reporter Kevin Gosztola, she said Manning was not held in solitary confinement for nine months, because he had some human contact. But many legal and human rights experts, including attorney Michael Ratner with the Center for Constitutional Rights, have called the military's treatment of Manning torture. Ratner told FSRN that the evidence presented at the hearings he attended reminded him of his clients' experience at Guantanamo.
"Bright lights, stress positions, no sleep, and stripping, you look at what happened to Bradley Manning, you have to say yourself: what they did at Guantanamo they're doing to Bradley."
They should have let him loose.  They have held him more than long enough, they have denied his right to a speedy trial and they have abused him.
Bradley should have walked today.
It is more than understandable that Mike would feel that way.  Bradely has been treated very badly, it's criminal and it's inhumane.  But it's a military court and they're not big on fairness.  That Judge Lind saw enough to call out what was done to Bradley can be seen as a suprise and a pleasant one.  Lind's finding also creates a way for Bradley's attorneys to argue, in a higher court.   Amy Davidson (The New Yorker) notes that the trial is now set to begin in June after having been set for March -- however, that's the current start date and it could change again -- and that:  "In the preliminary hearings in the court-martial of Private Bradley Manning, at Fort Meade, the lawyers spent a good part of Tuesday arguing about coded advertisements in newspapers during the Civil War." And that if this sort of argument is pursued, it could put the press on trial as well.

International labor journalist, David Bacon, author most recently of the book  Illegal People -- How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants (Beacon Press) which won the CLR James Award, is known for text and for photographs.  He continues to use both talents to tell the stories that are a lot more important to society than the multitude of celebrity profiles (that's political celebs as well as entertainment ones) that take up the bulk of the press today.   One example of that can be found in his "Making A Life, But Not A Living" (TruthOut):

I was born in a little town called San Francisco Higos, Oaxaca. I've worked all of my life. I started to work in Baja California when I was a little girl. I've worked in the fields all of my life, because I don't know how to read or write. I never had an opportunity to go to school. I didn't even know what my own name was until I needed my birth certificate for the immigration amnesty paperwork after I'd come to the U.S.

When I was seven, my mother, stepfather and I hitchhiked from Oaxaca to Mexicali, and I lived there for two years. I spent my childhood in Mexicali during the bracero years. I would see the braceros pass through on their way to Calexico, on the U.S. side. I would beg in the streets of Calexico and they would throw me bread and canned beans on their way back home. I also begged in Tijuana. I'm not ashamed to share that because that is how I grew up.
I began working when I was nine years old. In Culiacan I picked cotton, then I went to work in Ciudad Obregon, Hermosillo and Baja California. I would get three pesos a day. From that time on, I have spent my entire life working.
I was born in a little town called San Francisco Higos, Oaxaca. I've worked all of my life. I started to work in Baja California when I was a little girl. I've worked in the fields all of my life, because I don't know how to read or write. I never had an opportunity to go to school. I didn't even know what my own name was until I needed my birth certificate for the immigration amnesty paperwork after I'd come to the U.S.