Saturday, October 12, 2013

They finally found Gloria Steinem's successor!

I'm with C.I. on this, Ms. magazine needs to get their damn house in order real damn quick and stop embarrassing feminism. Here's a blond bitch named Marzia Nawrozi who came to the US (from Afghanistan) for college blogging at Ms. magazine:

As Nicholas Kristof stated, “Talent is universal; opportunity is not.” On every corner of the earth, th

Did he say that, little bitch?  Did he?

You know what?  Maybe I shouldn't quote you.  You're a woman.  Maybe I should be a gender-traitor and hunt down some man to blog about?

You are a stupid, stupid little bitch.

If women won't quote women, don't expect men to.

Rebecca and I sometimes took classes with C.I. back in the undegrad days (and I took a grad philosophy class with her as well). 

If a reading list was handed out, what happened?

Most just looked it over and moved on.

Not C.I.

"Excuse me, there are no women on this list."

She would make that point in class, publicly. 

A few forward thinking profs would realize the oversight and say that so-and-so and so-and-so could be added to the list.  Most weren't forward thinking.  Like our advanced comp professor. 

He said, "There are no women on the list because women can't write."

"Really?" C.I. asked.  "Because if that's your opinion then no women need to be in this class because (a) we can't write due to our gender and (b) you're going to fail us."

I support women's studies programs.  But, honestly, it's kind of cubby hole.  You get support and knowledge but it stays there.

C.I. challenged in classes that were predominately male.

In doing so, she changed minds -- professors and students.

No women on the reading list?

C.I. would provide them in the discussion.

By her second semester, she had a bad reputation among some but when word of what was happening got to the reference librians (I have no idea how that happened), C.I. would be stopped on her way through the library.  She'd be asked what she was studying.  On her way out, one of the reference librarians (often Linda who said -- rightly -- "That girl is going to change the world") would stop her and hand her quotes and lists of books to help her. 

They saw C.I. carrying on the cause that motivated them, they wanted to help her rescue the woman that the professors were hiding and ignoring.

When women's histroy was still buried, she was among the first to -- in mixed company, not the safety of a cubby hole -- point out that Charlotte Perkins Gilman was dealing with the economy or whatever.

When that little bitch serves up Nicky K as her one and only source at Ms. magazine, she degrades and insults all women.  I'm referring to her citing a man when she should be reinforcing women.  But equally true, a man who buys women -- as Nicky K has -- doesn't need to be quoted by a feminist outlet in the first place.

I used the term "bitch" here before and received a number of e-mails complaining about the term.  Sorry, it's the only term that applies now.

This bitch is writing about herself and couldn't be published anywhere else.  Did Salon do a International Day of the Girl Child article?  No.

So she's published by Ms and her 'thank you' is to open with Nicky K.

If we don't support women, no one does.  That's the reality. 

Hold on.

This week, community evening bloggers had a theme post.  In 2009, at Third, we named Bette Davis "The Best Actress of the 20th Century" and this week's theme was favorite Bette Davis film.  These were the posts and picks:  Ann's "Old Acquaintance," Betty's "Whatever Happened To Baby Jane?," Trina's "The Letter," Rebecca's "beyond the forest," Ruth's "Dark Victory," Kat's "All About Eve," Marcia's "Jezebel," Stan's "Dead Ringer," Elaine's "Now, Voyager," Mike's "The Little Foxes"  and Isaiah's "Working It For BP (Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte)."

That's from the snapshot.

Why did we go with that theme?

Bette Davis.

A woman.

We could agree on her as a theme.

At Third, they sometimes do career pieces -- Laura Nyro, Tina Turner, Diana Ross, Stevie Nicks, etc.  Why?

Those are women. 

C.I. and the gang damn well know that if we don't use our space to talk about women, no one else will.

You've got PUMAS (or did) who would do music video Saturdays and film list Sundays.

They highlighted one man after another.  For all the talk of love for Hillary, they were male centric and male focused.

That is how women get written out of history.

This is not a minor point and C.I. can -- and has many times -- done a whole presentation on this.

So for Ms. to post that awful writing was a gut punch to those of us who work to ensure that women are noted, that women are cited, that women are recongized.

The dumb bitch may think Nicholas Kristof is the next wave of feminism.  If so, that's just one more reason her stupid ass shouldn't be published at Ms.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills): 

Friday, October 11, 2013. Chaos and violence continue, still no elections law, protests continue,  so called 'honor' killings continue, we take another look at yesterday's VA hearing, and more.

This week's Global Research News Hour (link is audio) takes a look at the Iraq War in terms of violence, law, Depleted Uranium and more.  The guests are former United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator Denis Halliday, international law and human rights expert professor Francis A. Boyle and Lawyers Against The War's Gail Davidson.  Though forgotten by many, a number of US War Resisters went to Canada.  Some, like Darrell Anderson, elected to return to the US.  Others, like Robin Long and Kim Rivera, were forced out.  Many remain in Canada -- like Joshua Key, Jeremy Hinzman and Kyle Snyder -- in Canada.  Boyle stated that Canada should allow war resisters to remain in Canada.

Francis A. Boyle:  Staff Sgt Camilo Mejia who was the very first member of the US armed forces to refuse to participate in Iraq because he was there and he saw that when he captured insurgents and turned them over to MPs they were being tortured and he concluded he could no longer in good faith and conscience aid and abet torture and war crimes  And after a, I regret to say, we couldn't get him off.   After a kangaroo court proceeding, he did get eight months -- he was facing two years -- and we did get him adopted a prisoner of conscious by Amnesty International -- which shows you who was right here, Staff Sgt Camilo Mejia.  And unfortunately Staff Sgt -- to show you the perversity here of military court-martial proceedings in the United States -- Staff Sgt Mejia spent more time in prison for his courageous principles -- refusing to participate in torture, speaking out about it -- than many of the torturers who were either let off or got off or got less time than he did. So I think that shows you the sheer perversity of these military court-martial proceedings in the United States.  And precisely why Canada must not and should not force out or turn over any GI resisters who have come up there to Canada as a matter of principle and conscious.

Camilo Mejia served in the Iraq War.  He was ending his time of service when he was stop-lossed.  Camilo wasn't then a US citizen and legally could not be stop-lossed.  These and many more issues were ignored by the 'judge.'  Camilo did not go to Canada.  He is the first veteran of the Iraq War to publicly refuse to continue serving in the illegal war.  The first member of the military to refuse to serve in the illegal war was Stephen Funk.  Funk refused to go to Iraq and never went. 

It's a strong hour and worth listening to and Boyle and the program deserve strong credit for remembering the war resisters in Canada.


  • Yeah, look what just went up.

    Is Ms. really going to remember Afghanistan?

    Please.  They're not going into all the 'leaders' of the feminist movement who met with Bully Boy Bush and cheerleaded the Afghanistan  War.  They won't even name one.  (I will: Eleanor Smeal.)

    Can it get any worse?

    Of course it can.  Marzia Nawrozi chooses to open her piece quoting 'noted' 'feminist' and proud woman Nicholas Kirstof.  WTF?

    And let's remember, Afghanistan women were used as a pretext to start a war.  That's why there's never been any improvement for Afghan women in that country.

    So stop perpetuating the lie. And Nawrozi, learn your damn history.  You are not the first woman in Afghanistan to get a college degree or even part of the first wave.  How sad that you act as if your country's history began in 2001.  Are you working for the US government?  Are you being paid for this whorish propaganda?

    I know several Afghan feminists and they already felt betrayed by Ms. and feminist 'leaders' in this country.  That little ignorant blog post?  It's only going to add to suspicions that, in the US, the feminist movement is government controlled.

    Let's also remember that 14 hours ago I wrote about International Day of the Girl Child -- "Girl Child" -- I'm not crazy about the title but that's what UNICEF went with so maybe Ms. magazine should stop trying to change the title of the day?  And maybe they should post during the day and not as the day is ending to 'alert' people to what already passed.  Trina and Ann  have rightly called the Ms. blog out for fawning over an anti-choice, anti-abortion homophobe.  Now we've got a woman who thinks the height of feminism is to quote Nicholas Kirstof.

    It's not going to play.  Too many of us have given too much to stay silent while the Ms. blog gets worse every day and now seems to think feminism is about glorifying men.  Any writer for Ms. needing to cite an authority should find a woman or just say, "I'm a dumb useless bitch who will stab other women in the back because I'm too damn lazy to support other women."  I'm not in the damn mood.  For those who will sigh, "Oh, she's Afghan!"  -- yeah and I'm damn well aware of which Afghan women Ms. will publish and which they won't.  Again, I'm not in the damn mood.  International Day of the Girl Child was not created to glorify a man -- not even the vagina-envying Nicholas Kirstof.   Remember, for War Hawk Whores of the female gender, Nicky K is their patron saint.  We've warned you before, we'll warn you again.

    Away from propaganda, in the real world, Wassim Bassem (Al-Monitor) reports:

    Although Ahmad is in prison, he considers what happened an “honor.” Friends and relatives see him as a courageous man who washed away the shame of a “deviant” girl who strayed from religious and tribal values.
    In an interview with Al-Monitor, social worker Qassem Hussein says honor crimes are still legally applicable to many girls who declare their “forbidden” feelings for foreign men, not only in Iraq, but also in other Arab and Muslim countries. 
    However, what is exceptional about this crime in Iraq is that it has become more deeply rooted than ever, although the opposite should have happened, given social and cultural developments and media openness, as Qassem notes.
    He adds that the commonality between victims — who number in the dozens yearly — in Iraq and other countries is the barbaric ways they are killed to “settle” the matter. They are strangled, stabbed with a knife or sword, shot or set on fire. Then, the authorities are notified that the victim has committed suicide.
    Feminist activist Maeda Abdel Hussein told Al-Monitor, “The most dangerous aspect of the phenomenon is its religious, social and legal legitimacy.” 
    She added, “The secrecy of the crimes makes them go unseen, thus contributing to their continuous occurrence as they do not stir public uproar. The perpetrator commits his crime slowly, with encouragement from the people concerned who fear for their honor and the reputation of their tribe, pushing the person to commit murder.”

    'Honor' killings are not vanishing.  They're increasing.  Part of the reason is the Iraqi 'judicial' system refuses to punish the killers.  Just another example of the realities Iraqi women have to deal with.  In their most recent gender equality profile of Iraq, UNICEF notes:

    Political representation.
    Women occupy 82 out of 325 seats in the lower house of parliament following the 2010 elections (25 per cent of the seats). Women gained the right to vote and stand for election in 1980, and that same year the first woman was elected to parliament. Iraq has introduced legislated quotas to increase women’s representation in the lower house of parliament. The electoral laws that govern the provincial elections also include provisions to encourage women’s representation in provincial councils. Among the country’s 18 governors there are no women.
    Representation in the legal system.
    Women in Iraq have been active in the legal field since the 1920s. The first female judge was appointed in 1959. In 1976 women were admitted to the Judicial Institute in Bagdad. In 1984 Saddam Hussein stopped women from entering the Judicial Institute and the women that were serving as judges at the time, were retrained. Women could still work as lawyers and prosecutors. Since the fall of the Ba’athist regime in 2003 women are again serving as judges, but they are few in number (as of 2006 there were 16 female judges in the whole of Iraq).
    Civil society.
    Women’s organisations in Iraq face security risks and have faced bureaucratic obstacles in, for example, establishing shelters for battered women. Yet women’s rights activists have been successful in blocking the implementation of the constitutional article which would allow personal status matters to be governed by the rules of each different religious group. NGOs are making efforts to increase women’s civic participation but the difficult security situation in Iraq and the lack of protection against violence limit women’s participation.

    On political representation, three things.  First, as Iraqi MP Susan al-Saad pointed out earlier this week, the quota, in 2010, was supposed to be in addition to women who ran openly for seats in Parliament.  Instead, these women were later included in the quota thereby lowering women's representation.  Iraq is supposed to hold parliamentary elections at the end of April.  al-Saad is saying this practice does not need to repeat. 

    Second, it should also be noted that Nouri built his 2010 cabinet without a single woman in it -- this despite the vocal objections of women across Iraq.  In his first term as Prime Minister, Nawal al-Samarraie served as Minister of Women's Affairs.  February 6, 2009, she was in the news when she resigned because her ministry was not properly funded (a meager monthly budget of $7,500 a month was slashed to $1,400) and she stated, "I reached to the point that I will never be able to help the women."  Nouri didn't care for Nawal al-Samarraie or the needed attention she raised.

    This animosity was reflected in his second term when he tried to erase women completely. From the December 22, 2010 snapshot:

    Turning to Iraq, Liz Sly and Aaron Davis (Washington Post) note, "A special gathering of the nation's parliament endorsed Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki for a second term in office, with lawmakers then voting one by one for 31 of the eventual 42 ministers who will be in his cabinet." AFP notes that all but one is a man, Bushra Hussein Saleh being the sole woman in the Cabinet. And they quote Kurdish MP Ala Talabani stating, "We congratulate the government, whose birth required eight months, but at the same time we are very depressed when we see the number of women chosen to head the ministries. Today, democracy was decapitated by sexism. The absence of women is a mark of disdain and is contrary to several articles of the constitution. I suggest to Mr Maliki to even choose a man for the ministry of women's rights, as you do not have confidence in women." Ala Talabani is the niece of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani. Imran Ali (Womens Views On News) reminds, "The new constitution stipulates that a quarter of the members of parliament be women and prohibits gender discrimination." Apparently concern about representation doesn't apply to the Cabinet (and, no, Nouri's attempts at offering excuses for the huge gender imbalance do not fly).

    Oh, wait Bushra!  A woman.

    No.  Yes, she's a woman but she has no position. She's a token and a flunky.  Nouri bribed to get his second term and that included overpromising on the Cabinet so he had to increase the number of people serving on the Cabinet (from 31 in his first term to 42).  Bushra Hussein Saleh is Minister of State -- which sounds great.  But Yassin Mohammed Ahmed is . . . Minister of State.  And Hassan Radia sl-Sari is . . . Minister of State.  And Abd al-Mahdi al-Mutayri is . . . Minister of State.  And the three men and Bushra are trumped by Safa al-Safi whose title is Minister of State for Parliament Affairs and is actually of a higher rank than the other three men and Bushra.  (Saf al-Safi is alo a member of Nouri's State of Law coalition.)

    Kurdish MP Ala Talabani:  We congratulate the government, whose birth required eight months, but at the same time we are very depressed when we see the number of women chosen to head the ministries. Today, democracy was decapitated by sexism. The absence of women is a mark of disdain and is contrary to several articles of the constitution. I suggest to Mr Maliki to even choose a man for the ministry of women's rights, as you do not have confidence in women.

    But Nouri did just that, having Hoshyar Zebari fill the role of Minister of Women's Affairs (he was 'acting' -- even Nouri knew not to nominate him to Parliament).  Zebari only 'left' the post when Nouri was able to find the great gender traitor Ibithal al-Zaydi.

    This little creep  was greeted with outcries when she declared that Iraqi women had no rights.   As noted in the February 3, 2012 snapshot:

    Reuters notes Halima Dakhil who pays $210 for rent for her and her children. And that Iraqi widows receive $85 a month from the government and $13 a month for each child.  This is ridiculous and shameful as Nouri spends billons on toys for warfare.  Gender-traitor Ibtihal al-Zaidi shows up in the story to insist, "I agree it is little.  But there is a real plan to increase these benefits."  Let's hope all the widows and children living in poverty can afford to wait for al-Zaidi to get around to addressing the "real plan."
     Who is this woman who goes along making excuses?  Now in his second term as prime minister, Nouri appointed his stooge, Ibtihal al-Zaidi, to be Minister of the State for Women's Affairs. . She's gotten herself in trouble in the last weeks in Iraq. She's declared that she doesn't believe in equality, that Iraqi women need their husband's permission before doing anything (presumably their son's or father's permission if they're widowed, divorced or unmarried) and has come up with a little dress code for Iraqi women employed by the government. Al Mada reports today that MP Safia al-Suhail is calling the gender traitor out and asking that al-Zaidi appear before Parliament to explain this dress code (which bans certain skirts, t-shirts and sneakers among other items -- but only for women) and al-Suhail points out that al-Zaidi's remarks are troubling and run contrary to the oath the Minister of Women's Affairs took when assuming her office.
    February 14, 2012, Mufid Abdulla (Kurdistan Tribune) reported:

    Last week Abtihal Alzidi, the Iraqi minister for women’s affairs in Nuri Al Maliki’s government, told a local news agency that she does not believe in equality between women and men in Iraq.
    ”I am against the equality between men and woman”, she said. “If women are equal to men they are going to lose a lot. Up to now I am with the power of the man in society. If I go out of my house, I have to tell my husband where I am going. This does not mean diluting the role of woman in society but, on the contrary, it will bring more power to the woman as a mother who looks after their kids and brings up their children”.
    This statement has caused a lot of outrage. MP Mrs Hala Safia asked the deputy of the Iraqi parliament to call the women’s affairs minister to parliament for questioning. Hala Safia’s father was assassinated by Saddam’s thugs in Beirut in the 1980s and she has since become active in politics, working with Dr Alawi’s Aleraqia list. She is married to the Kurdish human rights activist Bhaktyar Ameen.
    The Organisation for Woman’s Emancipation in Iraq also condemned Abtihal Alzidi’s outrageous statement and called for the dissolution of her ministerial department.

    Let's be real clear on something.  We covered when it happened and were only able to do that because I read Arabic.  English language media treated it as a non-story.  They never really addressed what the gender-traitor said, that it was against Iraqi law or that it was a betrayal of Iraqi women.

    Since the US invasion of Iraq, there has been no female prime minister, no female president or female vice president.  It briefly appeared a woman might be vice president (February 2011).  President Jalal Talabani was calling for the vice presidency to be expanded to four people (after it had already been expanded to three).  But that effort went nowhere.

    Third,as noted in the September 27th snapshot,  "Al Mada reports feminists in the province are planning to form a collective to run for office with the goal of advancing women in all fields.  Dad Hasnawi tells Al Mada that the slate would be the first of its kind in the province, in Iraq and in the Arab world and that it would embrace women's issues."

    These are realities for women in Iraq where life is pretty damn bad but the strong Iraqi women continue fighting for a better life for themselves and the women who will follow them. 

    As noted in yesterday's snapshot, the 42 executions in Iraq this week brought the total to 132 for the year so far, three more than were executed in Iraq in 2012.  UN Humans Rights Office spokesperson Rupert Colville declared today:

    The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay has repeatedly stressed, after earlier mass executions in 2012 and 2013, that the justice system in Iraq is "too seriously flawed to warrant even a limited application of the death penalty, let alone dozens of executions at a time." Large-scale executions of the sort that have been carried out on a number of occasions over the past two years in Iraq are not only obscene and inhuman, they are most probably in contravention of international law. They are also undermining efforts to build a more stable, less violent society in Iraq. The mass execution carried out over the past two days is particularly perverse given that yesterday was World Day Against the Death Penalty.

    France's Foreign Ministry issued the following statement:

    France condemns the execution of 42 people in the last two days in Iraq and expresses its deep concern at the scale of the use of the death penalty in this country. These executions contradict the global trend toward the abolition of this inhuman punishment, the deterrent value of which has never been established. France again urges the Iraqi authorities to immediately establish a moratorium on the death penalty with a view toward its definitive abolition.
    The parliamentary seminar hosted by France this week on the occasion of the World Day against the Death Penalty brought together more than 40 representatives from the North Africa/Middle East region, including Iraqi parliamentarians. It provided an opportunity to reaffirm the universal nature of this priority.
    In October 2012, Mr. Laurent Fabius launched a campaign for the universal abolition of the death penalty. France expresses its firm and constant opposition to the death penalty everywhere and under all circumstances.


    Through yesterday, Iraq Body Count counts 362 violent deaths so far this month.   What might make violence increase?  How about Nouri al-Maliki stripping security chiefs of their powers?  Kitabat reports Nouri's doing just that, that he doesn't trust them and is giving their powers to his oldest son Ahmed.  Wow.  That'll really lower morale.

    Today's violence? 

    All Iraq News reports 1 man (alleged to be former al Qaeda) was shot dead in Ramadi, 1 person distributing food was shot dead in Falluja,  and 1 police officer was shot dead In MosulSameer N. Yacoub (AP) reports a Baghdad bombing targeting a car lot claimed 3 lives and left nine people injured.  Press TV reports a Tuz Khormato market bombing left 3 people dead and eleven injured.   Alsumaria adds that late last night 1 doctor was shot dead in Mosul.  NINA notes an armed Shirqat attack left two police officers injured, a Shirqat car bombing left seven people injured,  an Imam was also assassinated in Mosul, 2 people were shot dead in downtown Baquba, 1 person was shot dead leaving his Baquba home and a Tikrit bombing left one police officer injured.

    We've been noting the failure of the Parliament to pass a voting law and how Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujiaif has declared that parliamentary elections will take place April 30th and, if necessary, will be conducted under an old elections law.  At the Institute for the Study of War Iraq Updates, Ahmed Ali offers these thoughts:

    The date for Iraq’s national parliamentary elections has been set for April 30, 2014. However, the law governing the conduct of these elections has not yet been passed. Debate over this law provides a venue for major political groups to establish conditions that will favor them in the upcoming elections. The debate also has the potential to cause tensions between the Iraqi Arabs and Iraqi Kurds. If these tensions become too heated, they risk providing an opening for Al-Qaeda in Iraq.
    On October 7, the Iraqi parliament, known as the Council of Representatives (CoR), voted to set April 30, 2014 as the latest date to hold the 2014 national parliamentary elections, which will determine who is the next prime minister. This vote came after several rounds of delays in voting on a law that will govern the conduct of the elections. In its statement, the CoR indicated that if an elections law is not passed by October 30, 2013 it will initiate “legislative measures” to amend a previous elections law.
    The passage of an elections law in Iraq is an opportune moment for Iraq’s various political groups to establish conditions that will favor them in the upcoming contest. The process normally takes extensive negotiations and attempts to build consensus among the various factions. The negotiations over the 2014 elections law will follow a similar process. However, they are shaped by the aftermath of the 2013 provincial elections and are currently characterized by renewed political tensions between the Iraqi Arabs and Iraqi Kurds.
    Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s State of Law Alliance (SLA) underperformed in the provincial elections and has since been reaching out to the Iraqi Kurds. Thus, the debate over the elections law is a test for the rapprochement between Baghdad and Irbil. Meanwhile, the Iraqi Sunni electorate was fragmented in ways that benefited the Iraqi Kurds, especially in Ninewa province.  At the moment, Iraqi Sunnis view the elections law debate as an opportunity to regain unity on important issues such as elections in Kirkuk.

    Next week will be the tenth month of continuous protests in Iraq -- not that this will be noted by the non-Iraqi press.  The foreign press ignores over nine months of continuous protests.  Protests have been taking place non-stop since December 21stIraqi Spring MC reports that protests took place in Samarra today, BaqubaJalawlaFalluja, Ramadi, Mosul, and Balad Ruz.   NINA notes:

    Sheikh Mohammed Fayyad, one of the organizers of Anbar sit-ins ,said to NINA reporter : "The citizens participated in the prayers that held in the courtyard northern Ramadi and eastern Fallujah cities , stressing that the goal of this trickle is to send one again a message to the governing in Baghdad that our demonstrations are peaceful and backed by citizens deep conviction.
    Gwynne Dyer (Columbus Dispatch) notes today:

    Mass Sunni protests began almost a year ago, and until last April they were almost entirely nonviolent. Sunni terrorists belonging to al-Qaida-related jihadist organizations — another byproduct of the American occupation — were killing about 300 Shias a month, but they had little support in the broader Sunni community.
    Then in April the Iraqi (i.e. Shia) army raided a peaceful protest camp in Hawijah, killing about 50 Sunnis, and suddenly the violent minority of Sunni jihadists came to be seen as defenders of Sunni rights.

    Dyer's referring to the  April 23rd massacre of a sit-in in Hawija which resulted from  Nouri's federal forces storming in.  Alsumaria noted Kirkuk's Department of Health (Hawija is in Kirkuk)  announced 50 activists have died and 110 were injured in the assault.   AFP reported 53 dead for several days now -- indicating that some of the wounded did not recover.  UNICEF noted that the dead included 8 children (twelve more were injured).

    Yesterday's "Iraq snapshot" covered the House Veterans Affairs Subcommittee on Health where widows Heather McDonald and Kimberly Stowe Green explained how the VA's 'treatment' (over medication) killed their husbands Scott McDonald and Ricky Green.   For those who missed it, we'll note some of Heather McDonald's testimony.

    Heather McDonald:  For 15 years, he served honorably in the uniform of his country and was proud to serve as a UH-60 Blackhawk mechanic and Crew Chief for MEDEVAC Unit.  Bosnia, Panama, Iraq and Afghanistan are only a few of the war-torn countries he dedicated his life to changing.  In his career, he experienced heartache, unimaginable violence, death and the overall devastating effects of war.  He saw many of his fellow soldiers give the ultimate sacrifice -- narrowly escaping many times himself.  He loved his country and what the American flag stands for.  He was a brothers in arms to thousands of fellow soldiers and a truly remarkable man that never met a stranger.  Scott had larger than life expectations for his children.  And because of his commitment and honor, in January of 2011, we married.  On April 30, 2011, Scott's career with the army came full circle and he hung his uniform up for good. He began seeking the treatment from the VA for back pain and mental illness.  The Chalmers P. Wylie VA Ambulatory Care Center in Columbus, Ohio immediately started prescribing medications beginning with ibuprofen, nurofen, meloxicam and graduating to vicodin, klonopin, celexa, Zoloft, valium and Percocet.  This is where the rollercoaster began.  My husband was taking up to 15 pills a day within the first six months of treatment.  Every time Scott came home from an appointment, he had different medications, different dosages, different directions on how to take them.  And progressively over the course of a year and a half of starting his treatment, the medications had changed so many times by adding and changing that Scott became changing.  We researched many of the drugs that he was prescribed online and saw the dangerous interactions that they cause.  Yet my husband was conditioned to follow orders.  And he did so.  On September 12th of 2012, Scott attended another of his scheduled appointments.  This was when they added Percocet.  This was a much different medication than he was used to taking and which they prescribed him not to exceed 3,000 milligrams of ibu -- acetaminophen, I'm sorry.  Again, my husband followed orders.  Approximately zero-one-hundred hours on the 13th of September, I arrived home from my job.  I found Scott disoriented and very lethargic.  I woke him and asked him if he was okay?  He told me he was fine and that he just took what the doctors told him to take. At approximately zero-seven-thirty, I found my husband cold and unresponsive.  At 35-years-old, this father of two was gone.  I ask  myself why everyday.  And when I ask the VA why more tests weren't performed to make sure he was healthy enough, they responded by saying: "It is not routine to evaluate our soldiers' pain medication distribution."  A simple "I am in pain" constitutes a narcotic and a "This isn't working" constitutes a change in medication.  I was sickened and disturbed by their response and I decided at that point no one else should die.  I have no doubt that if the proper tests were being performed on our men and women, I would not be here today -- because my husband would be.  I have no doubt that for thousands of the soldiers that have fallen after coming home from war would be here today.  [Wiping tears] I'm sorry.  As the silent soldiers and spouses of our military members. we almost expect the possibility that they won't come home from war.  But we cannot accept that they fight there for their country and after the battle is over they come home and die.

    As Ava noted last night in "The VA killed Heather McDonald's husband (Ava)," the press had a real problem with those women's testimony and rushed to tie pretty bows around it as if widowhood was a wonderful vista to new career choices.  Today, some of those same outlets (NextGov, for example) appear to have realized how horrible their reporting was and gotten a little more honest.  Wally covered the second panel in "VA bullied doctors into prescribing narcotics" -- where two of the three medical witnesses shared that the VA compelled doctors to over-medicate and that whistle-blowing got you fired.  From yesterday's snapshot:

    You can't just dispense pain killers like they're Flintstone chewables or candy out of Pez dispenser.  This attitude was overcome long ago everywhere except the VA.  It's why former First Lady Betty Ford went public and set up The Betty Ford Center.
    When it comes to addiction, there may not be a more vulnerable population than veterans.  The reasons for that are they are taught to mask the pain while serving and, as both widows pointed out, to follow orders -- the following of orders often carries over the medical treatment from the VA.  The VA doctors are prescribing like it's 1947 and, as a society, we've never heard of pain killer addiction. 
    People in pain need help and need treatment.  They do not, however, need to develop an addiction because a bunch of lazy or quack doctors don't want to do their job.
    Under Shinseki, the prescriptions are killing veterans, yes.  But also under Shinseki, the prescriptions are resulting in addictions that will have be treated years from now.
    That's unacceptable -- from a health standpoint and from a taxpayer standpoint. 
    Shinseki is supposed to be on top of things.  He shouldn't need a Congressional hearing to take action.
    It was really distressing to hear Josh Green detail his objections to the pills and how, when he would raise these objections, he would be prescribed more pills.
    Iraq and Afghanistan War veteran Justin Minyard suffered from chronic back pain (tied to a 72 hour continues shift at the Pentagon, searching for any survivors after the Pentagon was hit on 9-11).  The existing back pain was amplified by his later service in Iraq and Afghanistan.  The treatment?  Pills, pills and more pills.  That's all the VA offered him.  He explained, "My life revolved around when is my next pill, when is my next dosage increase and when can I get my next refill?  At my worst point I was taking enough pills daily to treat four terminally ill cancer patients."
    Repeating, this isn't just medical malpractice with effects people see and feel now, this is medical malpractice that is turning veterans into addicts.  That is unacceptable.  Civilian doctors prescribing in this manner risk loss of license and criminal charges but the VA just looks the other way. The VA motto appears to be: "Addiction gets you out the door!"

    A number of e-mails asked about the over-prescribing and insisted this would trigger state investigations.  No. 

    This was addressed in the hearing by Dr. Pamela Gray.  In the civilian world, to practice medicine in Rhode Island, you need to be state licensed in Rhode Island.  In the VA world?  If you are licensed in any state, the VA circumvents the rules and allows you to practice in any state. So you're licensed in Georgia, hired by the VA and assigned to Oregon, you don't have to get licensed in Oregon and the state board has no say over your actions.

    One of the easiest ways to improve and ensure functional treatment at the VA would be to require the doctors to meet the same conditions and guidelines required of civilian doctors.  Eric Shinseki could issue an order to make that happen.  Or Congress could pass a law.  But something needs to happen.

    Kat's "The fake apology from Dr. Jesse" covered the third panel, the VA's Dr. Robert Jesse.  No, his apology did not seem for real.  It was further cheapened by his defensive nature and obvious inability to take accountability on behalf of the VA.

    This week, community evening bloggers had a theme post.  In 2009, at Third, we named Bette Davis "The Best Actress of the 20th Century" and this week's theme was favorite Bette Davis film.  These were the posts and picks:  Ann's "Old Acquaintance," Betty's "Whatever Happened To Baby Jane?," Trina's "The Letter," Rebecca's "beyond the forest," Ruth's "Dark Victory," Kat's "All About Eve," Marcia's "Jezebel," Stan's "Dead Ringer," Elaine's "Now, Voyager," Mike's "The Little Foxes"  and Isaiah's "Working It For BP (Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte)."

    all iraq news

    Thursday, October 10, 2013

    Now, Voyager

    "The Best Actress of the 20th Century" was Bette Davis.  She had a varied career and the talent to give brava performances.  (By On Golden Pond, Katharine Hepburn was little more than a wind-up doll churning out the same 'performance' over and over.  It was not entertaining.)

    She made many great films.

    For me, her finest film is Now, Voyager.  The 1942 film was directed by Irving Rapper. Bette's co-stars were Paul Henreid and Claude Rains.

    It's probably her most romantic film.  She's cousin Charlotte, an old maid who is forever going to have to take care of her aged mother.  Or is she?  Following an episode and treatment, she leaves on a cruise and meets Paul Henreid.  They fall in love.  But he's married.

    She ends up at home and then, visiting the institution she received treatment in, she meets Tina.  Tina is a little girl who reminds Charlotte of herself.  As she learns, Tina is also Paul's daughter.

    She finds a way to find happiness with this and tells Henreid, "Oh, Jerry, don't let's ask for the moon.  We have the stars."


    There are similarities to The Old Maid.  In that 1939 film (directed by Edmund Goulding), Bette also plays an old maid named Charlotte and she adopts a daughter named Tina.  Actually, though, it's her daughter.  She had to pretend otherwise.  (It's based on Edith Wharton's novel of the same name.)

    One of the really amazing things about Bette's career is how she made so many classics at the end of the 30s and the start of the 40s.  She was on a hot streak.

    "Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
    Wednesday, October 9, 2013. Chaos and violence continue,  Prashant Rao missed Tim Arango's report on Nouri arming and paying Shi'ite militias to hunt Sunnis,  more corpses on the streets of Iraq, the Arab League condemns the violence, State Dept spokesperson Marie Harf 'rewrites' the State Dept's findings on 2006 violence, the fear mongering of the White House is noted in a House Veterans Affairs Committee hearing, given the chance to fight for veterans VA Secretary Eric Shinseki chooses not to,  and more.

    "I really called the hearing so that we could get the best possible information out to the veteran community,"  Committee Chair Jeff Miller declared at the start of today's House Veterans Affairs Committee hearing.  Appearing before the Committee was Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki.  Along with the Committee members, US House Rep Jerry McNerney (a former VA Committee member) questioned Shinseki.

    Committee Chair Jeff Miller:   Veterans want to know whether they're disability checks and [G]I Bill benefits will be paid in November and there after.  They want to know if their disability claims will be decided or further delayed.  Families want to know if their loved ones will receive a timely burial at VA national cemeteries.  And many of VA employees themselves want to know whether they'll be serving veterans on the job or whether they will be furloughed.  I understand that answers to some of these questions are entirely dependent upon how long this shutdown lasts.  And although I want to be sure that most of us want this shutdown over clearly, it's our responsibility that the public especially veterans understand what the current state of play is.  First of all, Mr. Secretary, I want to say that in the last couple of weeks getting good information about your contingency plans and the effect of a lapse in appropriations and its effects on veterans has been very difficult for us to get the information out of your office.  For example, the original field guide that VA put out regarding the shut down impact at first spoke of no effect -- no effect -- on payment to veterans or any of their benefits.  But in a later version, VA stated that a prolonged shutdown would effect both but didn't provide any details of how it would be impacted.  Second, the Veterans Health Administration is not shut down at all because it has received a full year's appropriation for 2014 back in March.  So hospitals, clinics and Vet Centers should all be open for business.  Yet the President made a statement the day before the shutdown saying that veterans will find their support centers unstaffed and implied that counseling services for veterans with PTS would be effected.  Third, this Committee has been consistently told by VBA's Overtime Mandatory Effort towards the backlog would actually end on September 30th.  Yet, days into the shutdown, we're now informed that a shutdown prevented VBA's planned continued payment of overtime. Fourth, although a shutdown should have a relatively uniform effect across all regional offices, as suggested by your own field guide, my staff met with several representatives from VSOs last week who relayed that their members are hearing mixed messages out of different regional offices.

    There's a lot to unpack in that series of statements.  First of all, it doesn't help anyone when the President of the United States lies to the American people in order to scare them.  The VBA has the money to run the hospitals and centers and has since March -- the money for Fiscal Year 2014.

    September 30th, in the James Brady press room, President Barack Obama declared:

    Vital services that seniors and veterans, women and children, businesses and our economy depend on would be hamstrung.  Business owners would see delays in raising capital, seeking infrastructure permits, or rebuilding after Hurricane Sandy.  Veterans who’ve sacrificed for their country will find their support centers unstaffed.

    Barack lied.  Outlets carried his lies without a single question to them.  Even after the House Veterans Affairs Committee issued a fact sheet, Barack's lies have still not been called out by the press.  From the fact sheet:

    As President Obama stated in his Sept. 30 government shutdown statement, will veterans find their support centers unstaffed in the event of a shutdown?

    According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, VA’s Military Sexual Trauma counseling services, Readjustment Counseling Services and Veterans Crisis Line will not be affected by a shutdown. Additionally, the following VA support phone lines will remain open for business: VA National Call Center, Coaching into Care Call Center, Debt Management Center, Homeless Prevention Line, Mammography Helpline, National Caregiver Support Line, Women Veterans Call Center, Vet Center Combat Call Center, Children of Women Vietnam Veterans; Foreign Medical Program; Spina Bifida Health Care Program. Additionally, all VA medical facilities and clinics will remain fully operational in the event of a shutdown.

    As President Obama stated in his Sept. 30 government shutdown statement, will a government shutdown keep veterans suffering from PTSD from getting counseling services?

    According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, VA’s Military Sexual Trauma counseling services, Readjustment Counseling Services and Veterans Crisis Line will not be affected by a shutdown. All of those services are equipped to offer veterans suffering from PTSD with support. Additionally, all VA medical facilities and clinics will remain fully operational in the event of a shutdown and will be available for veterans with PTSD in need of counseling services.

    Barack Obama lied to the American people (yet again) and the press ignores it (yet again).  It was fear mongering at its worst and, at least when they were out of power, Democrats in Congress objected to fear mongering, saw as the last resort of liars and manipulators.  But nine days ago, Barack did it and no elected Democrat has called him out.  Apparently, when you're out of power, it's very easy to have ethics -- or at least give lectures on ethics, but when you have power, you lose interest in ethics and ethical concerns.  Well that certainly explains the Democratic Party's war votes.

    For more on what the shutdown will and won't mean to veterans, check this post by Tom Tarantion (Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America) which is updated regularly -- including updated today.

    Let's move to another issue raised.  Here's Eric Shinseki:

    We have about 13,000 regional -- uh, benefits employees who are doing what they always do and that's process claims as quickly and as accurately as they can.  With the end of mandatory overtime, we are doing that at 1400 claims each day less than we were doing, uh, before 30 September.

    But what Miller said, and Shinseki never contradicted, was that it was always the understanding that overtime would be phased out at the end of September.  That was regardless of whether or not there was a shutdown.  The overtime program has been one scandal after another of stealing taxpayer money.  To quell Congressional outrage, the program had a quick end date. For example, Mary Shinn, Daniel Moore and Steven Rich (Center for Public Integrity) reported in August:

    While veterans waited longer than ever in recent years for their wartime disability compensation, the Department of Veterans Affairs gave its workers millions of dollars in bonuses for “excellent” performances that effectively encouraged them to avoid claims that needed extra work to document veterans’ injuries, a News21 investigation has found.
    In 2011, a year in which the claims backlog ballooned by 155 percent, more than two-thirds of claims processors shared $5.5 million in bonuses, according to salary data from the Office of Personnel Management.
    The more complex claims were often set aside by workers so they could keep their jobs, meet performance standards, or, in some cases, collect extra pay, said VA claims processors and union representatives. Those claims now make up much of VA’s widely scrutinized disability claims backlog, defined by the agency as claims pending more than 125 days.

    And let me point out again that there is no great reduction in backlog.  It's a con game.  In many states across the country there are rental storage facilities run by Public Storage.  In New York, there is Manhattan Mini Storage.   Pretend you have a huge collection of books.  You've been tasked with going through the collection, currently stored at Public Storage, and deciding which books to keep and which to get rid of.  Instead of doing that, making that determination, you decided to move them to Manhattan Mini Storage.  You can now claim that all the books in Public Storage are gone.  And, indeed, they are.  But you didn't do the job, you didn't make the determination.  You played kick-the-can -- a game Barack used to deride when he was a US senator but now embraces from the White House. The 'reduction' is by giving claims a temporary classification and sending them to another group to be evaluated.  In other words, a single-step evaluation is now a two-step process (three if you count the temporary status). 

    "Since the shutdown began on One  October, the backlog has stalled. and in fact, has increased by about 2,000 claims,"  Shinseki insisted.  "The shutdown directly threatens VA's ability to eliminate the backlog.  We've lost ground we fought hard to take.  Roughly 4,000 veterans a day are not now receiving decisions on their disability compensation claims due to the end of overtime."  But overtime was ending September 30th regardless.  Shinseki is so dishonest. 

    Equally true, in the entertainment industry, we often have strikes.  A writers strike, for example, means producers not with the Writers Guild end up doing writing (in addition to scabs and picket line crossers).  The VA has many employees on salary including Shinseki.  If producers can roll up their sleeves and write dialogue, I think in this situation, Eric can roll up his sleeves and do some backlog work to earn that huge salary.  In fact, it would be a good idea to ask everyone in administration with backlog cases.  They might better understand the hold ups and how to improve the process.

    This is something that should have been implemented years ago.  There's a backlog.  Every worker at the VA in management should know how to rate a claim -- how else can they judge the progress.  And knowing how to rate a claim requires that management regularly do so.  With just each member of management and administration required to do one claim evaluation a day, they'd be getting more than 4,000 done before you included any work done by those hired to rate claims.

    You'd also determine quickly whether or not the claims workers have been working slowly for 'job protection' as many have alleged (including some claims workers) over the last years.

    Shinseki made a statement many outlets ran with -- after dressing it up to improve it.  Here's what he said, "If the shutdown does not end in the coming weeks, VA will not be able to ensure delivery of 1 November checks to more than 5.18 million beneficiaries." 

    Leo Shane III of Stars and Stripes, your job  is to report not to 'improve.'  Before you whore again, here's a little tip, when the Secretary of a Department says 5.18 million beneficiaries won't receive checks, they got that number by lying or basic math.  If they got it via basic math, they know when the shutdown would have to end -- a date.  "The coming weeks"?  Oh, no.  That's not an answer.  But wasn't it cute of you, Leo, to cover for Shinseki.

    Buried in his piece, Shane notes, "Shinseki could not give a precise date when VA appropriations accounts would run out. "  No, Shinseki would not give a precise date.  When you can give a figure of 5.18 million, if it's accurate (and it may be), it's accurate because you've done a mathematic model.  Equally true, the checks can all be printed on October 30th and November 1st and sent out as they normally would (according to two friends in VA administration).  So that's 21 days.  Saying the shutdown can go on for 21 days doesn't present fear or urgency that the White House wants and that's most likely why Shineski dummied up on a date.  (I'm also told there's the equivalent of a short term loan process that the VA could use to cover those November 1st checks even if the shutdown is still in effect.) 

    Shane also 'missed' the importance of this.

    Chair Jeff Miller:  So my question is in statements in years past House and Senate regardless of parties and the White House have always come together and tried to find a way to prioritize how much money would be spent, who would be at the top of the list, just as we started to shut the government down and run out of money.  And today we don't have that.  Even back in the shutdown of 1995, there was a prioritization and DoD and veterans were taken off the table which they're not right now.  So my question, Mr. Secretary, is don't you think VA benefits should get the same priority or prioritization today as it has in other shutdown situations?

    Secretary Eric Shinseki: I missed the last piece of your question, Mr. Chairman.  In some --

    Chair Jeff Miller:  Just basically, in years passed, we have in fact  prioritized spending needs -- DoD and VA has always been basically taken off the table.  And  my question is: What's different this time?  And don't you think veterans benefits, in fact, should be prioritized at a higher level than others in our government.

    Eric Uh, Mr. Chairman, I would just, uh, tell you this Department has benefitted from, uh, leadership of the president and leadership and support in the Congress.  So if you look at what has transpired over the last four years to our budgets,  I think we can all be proud of what we have done to take care of veterans and I will always tell you that that's a top priority with me.  Uh, but I do understand that there is a budget request presented to the Congress, there is a process that you referred to that requires a passage of the budget within that the departments are then provided a guidance on what their budgets will be.  I'm not sure where the Congress is in that process but I would ask the Congress, uh, to provide us a budget so that not only this Department but our partners in government on whom we rely to do our mission, uh, well, uh, can get on with business.

    See, Leo Shane III, that was your story: "VA Secretary not willing to fight for veterans benefits."  Homeless veterans is a topic the House and Senate Committee regularly address.  When Kat shares her thoughts on a hearing with that topic, she often notes that there are millions of homeless people in this country who are not veterans and it's a shame that Congress shows little to no concern for them.  Kat's correct, I don't disagree with her.  But I don't bring it up here because I expect, for example, Senator Patty Murray chairing a Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs to make homeless veterans her first priority among the homeless.  Again, I understand Kat's reaction, I support it, I agree with it.  This country needs to address the homeless crisis among the general population.  But, again, I expect a Senate Agricultural Committee to put farmers first and I expect that from the Ag Secretary as well.  Today, Shinseki was given the opportunity to put veterans first and refused to.  I think that's a story, I think it's probably the most story out of the hearing (and one that will only lead to louder cries that Shinseki needs to go).

    There's  much more that I would like to cover and maybe we can tomorrow.  (Though we'll be at two hearings tomorrow that I'll want to include as well.)  For the record, Leo Shane III wasn't the worst reporter on the hearing.  But he was bad and we call that out here.

    Let's move over to Iraq because we also need to call out Prashant Rao of AFP.

    Renee Montagne (NPR's Morning Edition -- link is text and audio) spoke with AFP's Prashant Rao today.  It was, in part, to note that AFP keeps a tally of the dead and wounded in Iraq.  The tally's not perfect.  We've explained the problems with it.  But we've applauded it and did it months and months ago (the day Prashant announced it online).  AFP, repeating, deserves credit for keeping a count.  It should be noted that in past wars, it was a given that the press kept a total of the dead.  Good for AFP.
    But that wasn't the problem with the interview.  Here's the disgraceful section.

    MONTAGNE: You mentioned the politics behind this violence.

    RAO: Mm-hmm.

    MONTAGNE: Has there been any progress in getting Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to stop the heavy-handed treatment that his Shiite government has doled out to the minority Sunnis?

    RAO: There are some elements where treatment of Sunnis has been improving. The government seems to be more positive towards the use of the Sahwa, these were Sunni tribal militias that allied with the U.S. military against al-Qaida. And the government has always been fairly ambivalent towards them because - as you said - it's a Shia government and they're mistrustful of these Sunni groups. But, in recent months, there's been greater talk and there's been actual action in terms of reestablishing some of these Sahwa militias to man check points that carry out patrols in Sunni areas. But there's still a great deal of criticism as to how Sunnis are treated in Iraq - a lot of criticism of the sort of barring of Sunnis from political life. So it's not just the sort of army cracking down, which is another allegation that's made, that the army and the police unfairly come into Sunni houses and target them.

    Note, I'm sort of using NPR's transcript above.  But I've also corrected it.  For example, Prashant Rao says "Shia government" not that Iraq has a "Syrian government" as the transcript currently reads.  We have community members who can't stream (due to operating systems or internet providers) and we have community members who have hearing difficulties.  So for anyone who uses the link and finds a difference between the above and NPR's transcript, I have fixed it above to match the actual audio. 

    Renee asked an important question.  It's too bad Prashant was either uninformed or prepared to lie.

    Sahwa?  Sahwa has not been embraced nor is does Nouri al-Maliki's "government seems to be more positive towards the use of Sahwa."  With one Iraqi outlet after another (and some Arab outlets) explaining that the Sahwa checkpoints going up are going up because of Sunnis and that Nouri's government -- which refused to pay them but did target them -- still won't pay them.

    How is Prashant Rao unaware of that?

    And what the hell is this talk of "greater talk" in "recent months"?  With the Sunni protesters?  No.  Whose the talk with, Rao?

    And if you're not lying, if you're that ignorant, you should be heading AFP's bureau.

    Sunnis are targeted and this isn't my call.  This is the most important report on Iraq that's been done in 2013.  How is Rao unaware of it?

    We've covered it repeatedly here.  In 2012, the most important Iraq news came from a Tim Arango report.  In 2013, the same is true.

    September 28th in print (27th online),  Tim Arango (New York Times) broke the story that Nouri al-Maliki (prime minister and chief thug of Iraq) is supporting Shi'ite militias  that are killing Sunnis.   Arango noted:

    The group, which is backed by Iran and split off from the Sadrist movement several years ago and was responsible for many deadly attacks on the American military when it was here, has seen its political wing welcomed into the government by Mr. Maliki. And as the security forces have proved ineffective in stemming attacks by Sunni insurgent groups, the group’s armed unit, according to militiamen, is increasingly working in secret with the government.
    “We don’t do anything until the government asks us,” said one of the group’s leaders, who gave his name as Abu Abdellah. “We have a direct connection with the leaders of the security forces.”
    In supporting Asaib al-Haq, Mr. Maliki has apparently made the risky calculation that by backing some Shiite militias, even in secret, he can maintain control over the country’s restive Shiite population and, ultimately, retain power after the next national elections, which are scheduled for next year. Militiamen and residents of Shiite areas say members of Asaib al-Haq are given government badges and weapons and allowed freedom of movement by the security forces.

    How do you miss that?  Prashant Rao is the Baghdad Bureau chief for AFP.  That job title kind of requires he be aware of every major report on Iraq.  The New York Times is not an obscure publication.  Tim Arango is not an unknown name.  This was a major report from an internationally influential outlet.  And Prashant just happened to miss it?

    Yeah, he was in Scotland the day the report went online -- but I do believe Scotland called the internet. He certainly used some device to Tweet repeatedly while he was in Scotland.  Once he was done attending a wedding, he should have been going over any major western reports from Iraq while he was in Scotland.  It wouldn't have taken that long.  It's CNN, AP, Reuters, AFP, EFE and that's pretty much it.  Once a week or so, there's an article in the New York Times.

    If he was ignorant, Prashant wasn't the only one in that boat.  One of the few to Tweet about Arango's article was the New York Times Sebnem Arsu who isn't very smart:

  • Rise in Deadly Attacks on Iraq's Shiites, “We have had enough killing. Now it's our turn to take action.”

  • No, that really wasn't the takeaway.  Arsu can read headlines and can read opening paragraphs but to understand what's important?  Oh, hell no. 

    What Nouri's doing?  The Leahy Amendment demands that US funding cease immediately to Nouri's government.  You cannot hire people to kill the citizens of the country and get US aid.  Now Congress knows little of Arango's report and there's little chance that they'll take a stand -- everyone knows Nouri is Sammy Power's boy -- but the news, the actual news of the story, is that Nouri's arming and funding Shi'ite militias to attack Sunnis.

    Besides, the ever weak-ass State Dept just wants taxpayer monies for Iraq while it works on things like war on Syria.  The State Dept has grown tired of diplomacy and its job so it's looking for new adventures and to transition into an adjunct of the DoD. 

    Al Quds' Said Arikat brought Iraq up in today's State Dept press briefing by spokesperson Marie Harf.

    Said Arikat: Iraq?

    Marie Harf: Uh-huh.

    Said Arikat: The UN reports that 6,000 Iraqis have died since the beginning of the year, there has been a tremendous spike in sectarian violence, incursions by al-Qaida, almost collapse of the central government. Yet Iraq really seems to be not on your radar screen. Can you explain to us why this lack of attention to what’s going on in Iraq on your part?

    Marie Harf: Well, Said, there are, like, three or four things that you just said that I would take issue with factually, so let me walk through some of them.  The first is that Iraq very much remains on our radar screen. It’s something we’re very engaged in, concerned about, we’ve talked about repeatedly in this briefing room. The second is that I would take issue with your notion of how you characterize the violence. We’ve said repeatedly that this uptick in violence we’ve seen is terrorist violence. It’s not the kind of sectarian violence we saw during the most violent years of the Iraq war. So it really is violence perpetrated by extremists, and much of it is a outflow of the situation in Syria.  And the third, I think, point I would make about what you just said is that we have actually commended, when Iraqi leaders have come together, to work together to deprive violent extremists of this issue – of their – of any opportunities to use words or actions to incite tension. So we’ve noted, actually, some positive steps of the different leaders coming together to work on this issue, so I – that’s my third point of contention I would take with what you just said. But we remain deeply concerned about it, incredibly concerned about it, and we continue to call on Iraq’s leaders to work together to thwart it, and also we will continue working with them to do so.

    Said Arikat:  Is the United States Government taking any special measures to sort of help Iraq in this really difficult time, especially in the fight against terrorism – terrorists?

    Marie Harf: Mm-hmm. Well, we have an ongoing dialogue with them on the fight against terrorism. We’ve said we will continue to support them in the best way that we think is possible. And certainly that will continue, that cooperation will continue.

    Said Arikat: Why won’t the United States support Iraq with – let’s say, with drone strikes like it was doing in Yemen and other places, to strike against places of – locations of terrorists and terrorist camps?

    Marie Harf: Well, as we’ve said, we consider the Government of Iraq an essential partner in this fight. We’ll continue talking with them on this issue. As you know, under the Strategic Framework Agreement, we have an ongoing dialogue on counterterrorism cooperation, but beyond that, I’m just not going to go any further about what that cooperation looks like.

    Said Arikat: Okay. But the truth of the matter is that Iraq has no air asset with which to defend itself, so it must rely on the U.S. for, let’s say, any kind of aerial assistance in the fight against terror. Are you – or in the near future, are you planning to aid Iraq in this realm?

    Marie Harf: We’re going to keep talking to them about the best way we can aid them in the fight against terrorists, and beyond that, I don’t have anything further.

    Excuse me?

    Marie Harf:  The first is that Iraq very much remains on our radar screen. It’s something we’re very engaged in, concerned about, we’ve talked about repeatedly in this briefing room.

    Was that an attempt at standup?

    More importantly, what the hell was this?

    Marie Harf:  The second is that I would take issue with your notion of how you characterize the violence. We’ve said repeatedly that this uptick in violence we’ve seen is terrorist violence. It’s not the kind of sectarian violence we saw during the most violent years of the Iraq war. So it really is violence perpetrated by extremists, and much of it is a outflow of the situation in Syria.

    I'm sorry, I didn't know the history could be rewritten at the podium. 

    2006?  What did the State Dept say about 2006 violence?  I'm not referring to the spokesperson, I'm referring the Dept's official report to Congress.  From the report, here's the section on Iraq:

    Iraq remained at the center of the War on Terror with the Iraqi Government and the Coalition battling al-Qaida in Iraq (AQI) and affiliated terrorist organizations, insurgent groups fighting against Coalition Forces (CF), militias and death squads increasingly engaged in sectarian violence, and criminal organizations taking advantage of Iraq's deteriorating security situation. Terrorist organizations and insurgent groups continued to attack CF primarily using Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) and Vehicle-Borne Improvised Explosive Devices (VBIEDs). The Iraqi government universally condemned terrorist groups and supported CF against AQI and its affiliates.

    The June 7 death of AQI's leader, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, damaged the group's leadership but did not diminish attacks against Coalition Forces and Iraqis nor did it halt overall increasing attack trends by the group. AQI's new leader is Abu Ayyub al-Masri, also known as Abu Hamza al-Muhajir. January press reports indicated that AQI teamed with several smaller Sunni Islamist groups devoted to continuing the insurgency calling themselves the Mujahideen Shura Council. By the end of the year, this group had renamed itself the Islamic State of Iraq.
    AQ and affiliated groups continued attacks on Iraq's infrastructure and claimed responsibility for kidnappings and attacks against Coalition Forces.

    The Government of Iraq sponsored reconciliation programs to reduce the sources of violence. The government organized conferences involving tribal and religious leaders, politicians, and civil society organizations to counter support for terrorist organizations and to promote dialogue between Iraq's ethnic and religious groups in an effort to decrease violence. Tribal leaders in Ramadi, a volatile city in Anbar province, banded together late in the year and pledged to fight against AQ instead of the coalition. While the tribal leaders' full effectiveness remained uncertain, this represented an important step.
    Iraq's sectarian divide increased dramatically following the February 22 bombing of the al-Askariyah Mosque, one of the holiest sites to Shia Muslims, located in Salah ad Din province. While violence against both CF and Iraqis had increased prior to the bombing, this event exacerbated sectarian tensions and led to increased violence in Iraq's ethnically-mixed areas, especially Baghdad. Sectarian attacks, including car bombs, suicide vests, sniper fire, targeted assassinations, and death squad murders, occurred on a close-to-daily basis with Iraqi civilians suffering the majority of causalities. Iraq's sectarian violence furthered the terrorists' goals by creating instability and weakening the government.
    Neighboring countries, specifically Iran, continued to interfere in Iraq's internal affairs by allowing, condoning, or in some cases, actively smuggling weapons, people, materials, and money to terrorist, insurgent, and militia groups inside Iraq. Iranian agents and sympathizers utilized an 800-mile long, porous border with limited security to transport goods, which increasingly included Iranian-made weapons such as IEDs or their components, which proved effective in attacks against Coalition Forces.
    In recent statements, Iraqi government leaders, including the Prime Minister, the President and the Foreign Minister, have called on neighboring countries to stop interfering in Iraq's internal affairs and to stop supporting elements actively fighting against Iraq's elected government. Syria's Foreign Minister traveled to Baghdad and agreed to cooperate more closely on border security in an effort to reduce the number of foreign fighters entering Iraq. Senior Iraqi officials, including Iraqi President Talabani, traveled to Iran throughout the year encouraging the Iranian government to support Iraq's political process and to stop material support of terrorist groups and militias.
    To demonstrate that the Iraqi government does not wish to allow Iraq to become a safe haven for terrorist organizations, Prime Minister al-Maliki appointed the Minister of State for National Security, Shirwan al-Waeli, as the Iraq coordinator for issues involving the Kurdistan Workers Party (Kongra-Gel/PKK), a designated Foreign Terrorist Organization. Tension between Turkey and the Iraqi government increased as Turkish leaders expressed increasing frustration at what they viewed as Iraq's inaction against the PKK.
    Although Iraq is a proven ally in the War on Terror, Iraq's developing security and armed forces will require further training and resources before they can effectively address the terrorist groups already operating within their borders. Iraq's intelligence services continued to improve in both competency and confidence, but they also will require additional support before they will be able to adequately identify and respond to internal and external terrorist threats. The international community's support for investment and reconstruction are critical components needed to ensure that the Government of Iraq's plans to reduce violence, improve services, and increase economic opportunities are successful.

    Now I don't see rebels as "terrorists."  But if the State Dept has changed its position and it no longer sees rebels as terrorists, it needs to come forward with a public announcement.  And clearly, ethnic cleansing and State Dept defined "terrorism" both took place in 2006 (and in 2007 but we don't have the room to quote the Dept's report on 2007's violence).

    Marie Harf needs to be asked if the State Dept is today walking away from its 2006 report -- which was the work of career employees, not political appointees?

    She was also asked about Nouri's visit this month?  He was supposed to visit last month.  A disagreement made the visit iffy.  Today, Harf declared of the reported visit this month, "I saw those reports. We don’t have anything to announce at this point about a visit by Prime Minister Maliki. When we do, I’ll let you guys know."

    I have no idea why she made such an idiotic comment.  This has been widely reported in the Iraqi press.  'Doesn't make it so!'  Possibly.  But what they're reporting on is the official statement issued by Nouri al-Maliki's office.  For example, here's Aswat al-Iraq reporting on the news Sunday:

    It was officially announced today that Premier Nouri al-Maliki will visit Washington, on 28 October, to discuss the security situation in Iraq, the Syrian crisis and the issues related to the Strategic Framework agreement.
    Media advisor Ali al-Mussawi stated that Maliki will head a high ranking delegation.
    Iraqi initiative to solve the Syrian question shall among the talks.
    The initiative called for peaceful solution and immediate ceasefire.
    He denied the news that US President Barack Obama refuse to meet Maliki, stressing that the visit shall be official.

    Again, Nouri's office has announced the visit.  Did so on Sunday.  I have no idea why Marie Harf is denying it and claiming she has no information on it.  Clearly, if Nouri's office made a false announcement on Sunday, by Wednesday, the US government would know so and have an answer or response.

    The Arab League has issued a statement -- on violence in Iraq and Egypt.  Middle East Monitor reports:

    Political Undersecretary General of the Arab League Fadel Jawad said on Monday that: "The Arab League denounces the violence, terrorism and killing of innocents, whatever the context is."
    Jawad noted that this issue does not affect only those states, but also the safety and interests of their citizens, including their economic situations.

    Violence continued in Iraq.  National Iraqi News Agency reports 1 coprse (police officer) discovered in Kut (death by shooting)1 corpse was discovered in Ramadi (also dead from gun shots), and 1 corpse was discovered in Falluja (also gun shot wounds).  Again, this isn't a one-time thing.  Corpses have returned to the streets of Iraq and they were one of the hallmarks of the 2007 - 2008 "civil war" (ethnic cleansing).  The non-Iraqi press is ignoring the corpses and refusing to explore what it means when dead bodies are once again being dumped regularly in the streets of Iraq.

    In other violence,  AFP reports a roadside bombing ("south of Baghdad") left 8 people dead and seven more injured -- they were all on one truck.  NINA also reports "former Police Colonel Yaseen al-Shijairi" as he left his Falluja home, an armed attack in Baiji left 4 police members dead (two more injured and four civilians injured), mass arrests in Babil Province by the military resulted in 15 deaths (and 35 more people injured), a vegetable market shooting in Kirkuk left two employees of the North Gas Company wounded1 man was shot dead in his Baghdad car repair shop, a Kut car bombing claimed 5 lives and left ten people injured, an armed attack in Tikrit left three federal police members injured, the homes of ten security members were blown up in Kirkuk (no one was reported dead or injured) and  a Jahash car bombing targeted Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi's convoy in Nineveh Province and left nine of his bodyguards injured.

    Yesterday,, Saad Zaghloul was shot dead outside his Mosul home.  He was the spokesperson for the governor of Nineveh Province.  Nineveh Governor Atheel al-Nujaifi is also the brother of Osama al-Nujaifi.  They are Sunnis and members of Iraqiya.     All Iraq News reported yesterday that Iraqiya MP Mohammed Eqbal called for the culprit or culprits to be arrested "and present[ed] . . . to judiciary.  The indulging [of] this issue by the security forces allows the criminal to commit more crimes against the Iraqis."  MP Eqbal also expressed, "His sorrow for the continuity of the assassination attempts to the journalists and activists in Nineveh."

    Through yesterday, the 8th day of the month, Iraq Body Count counts 303 violent deaths in Iraq so far this month.

    Ending with the topic of Syria.  BRussells Tribunal remains one of the most important sites on the web.  Today, they share David Edwards' Media Lens report which opens:

    A UN report this month found that, 'Torture and brutality are rife in Libyan prisons two years after the overthrow of leader Muammar Gaddafi.' Around 8,000 prisoners are currently being held without trial in government jails on suspicion of having fought for Gaddafi.

    But then, in the aftermath of Nato's 'humanitarian intervention', torture, bombings and assassinations are now par for the course in Libya, as described here by the excellent Interventions Watch.

    In similar vein, late last month, thirteen bombs were detonated on a single day in Baghdad killing at least 47 people. More than 5,000 people have been killed so far this year, according to the UN.

    Despite all of this - after years of unmissable, terrible carnage in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya - the Pew Research Journalism Project
    finds that 'the No. 1 message' on CNN, MSNBC and Fox News, and Al Jazeera, was 'that the U.S. should get involved in the conflict' in Syria.

    It seems that no level of suffering and chaos are sufficient to impede the structural 'mainstream' inclination to support state violence.

    No surprise, then, that much of UK journalism had decided that the current Official Enemy was responsible for the August 21 attacks in Damascus long before the UN published the evidence in its report on 'the alleged use of chemical weapons in the Ghouta area' on September 16.

    Just one day after the attacks, a Guardian leader claimed there was not 'much doubt' who was to blame, as it simultaneously assailed its readers with commentary on the West's 'responsibility to protect'. An Independent front page headline one week later read like a sigh of relief: 'Syria: air attacks loom as West finally acts' (Independent, August 26, 2013).

    This was a close copy of the media response to the May 2012 massacre in Houla, which was also instantly and personally blamed on Syrian president Assad.

    The rapid media conclusion on Ghouta was particularly striking because the issues are complex – literally, rocket science - and evidence has again been gathered under live fire in the middle of a notoriously ferocious civil, proxy and propaganda war. Earlier claims relating to use of chemical weapons had been adjudged 'a load of old cobblers' by veteran journalist Robert Fisk. It was also clear that instantly declaring Assad's guilt a 'slam-dunk' fed directly into a rapidly escalating US-UK propaganda blitz intended to justify a massive, illegal attack on Syria without UN approval.