Friday, August 28, 2009

Katty van van vanden Heuvel

katty4

That is one scary-ass-lookin' woman.

That's Katty-van-van. The Peace Resister. Katrina vanden Heuvel.

I don't know if it's fair to call her "The Woman Who Ruined The Nation" because I only started reading The Nation in 2003 and maybe it wasn't that good before 2003?

But when I started reading, I couldn't wait for the next week when another issue would come out.

These days, you couldn't pay me to read it.

It's so full of bad writing on dull topics which they try to dress up with healthy doses of alarmism and fright.

They're attempting to scare the country to the left.

If you ask me, the easiest way to do that would be to supply the country with a photo of Katty-van-van.


This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Friday, August 28, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces more deaths, Human Rights Watch's report on the targeting of Iraq's LGBT community gets some attention, a Shi'ite leader is mourned, from the start of the month until yesterday there have been 471 reported deaths and 1,822 Iraqis reported injured, Steven Lee Myers is a tiny man but a huge fool, and more.

Today the
US military announced: "BAGHDAD – Two 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) Soldiers died of wounds suffered following an improvised explosive device in eastern Baghdad Aug. 28 at approximately 2:30 a.m. The Soldiers names are being withheld pending notification of next-of-kin and release by the Department of Defense. The incident is currently under investigation." The deaths bring the total number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war to 4336.


Before Steven Lee Myers wrote
his dumb ass blog post at the New York Times website, I thought we could wait on unpacking the violence this month until, golly, the month ended. But whores are always lying and Steven's no reporter. August 1st, McClatchy reported 1 soldier dead in Mosul. August 2nd, 8 people were reported killed and twenty injured. August 3rd, 23 were reported dead and sixty-five wounded (these include late reporting of the day before's violence -- these are the deaths reported that day -- also note that we will not include Swine Flu deaths and that US military deaths and contractors will not be noted in this count). August 4th, 2 dead and nine wounded. August 5th, 9 reported dead and twelve reported injured. August 6th, 8 dead and thirty-two injured. August 7th, 59 dead and injured one-hundred and ninety-eight wounded. August 8th, 1 death was reported and two people injured. Because there is an UNDERCOUNT every month of the reported dead and because ICCC's count is WAY OFF each month on civilians, we've started monitoring the reported toll at Third. Third noted August 16th, there were 122 reported deaths in Iraq the previous week and 414 reported wounded ("Last Sunday found the press reporting 6 deaths and 12 people injured. Monday saw 61 deaths reported and 252 injuries. Tuesday saw 11 dead and 57 wounded. Wednesday's numbers were 11 dead and 21 injured. Thursday 25 lives were claimed and 51 people were wounded. Friday there were 2 reported deaths and 6 reported injured. Saturday saw 6 dead and 15 injured.") Third noted August 23rd resulted in 211 reported deaths and 950 wounded. ("Last Sunday saw 13 reported dead and 41 reported injured. Monday saw 24 dead 59 wounded. Tuesday the reported death toll was 5 and 24 were reported injured. Wednesday 102 were reported dead and 572 wounded. By Thursday evening, 22 were reported dead with 67 injured. Thursday night 33 more deaths were reported and 145 wounded. Friday saw 8 deaths reported and 31 people wounded. Saturday saw 4 dead 11.") This week? August 23rd 4 dead and eleven injured. August 24th, 11 dead, twenty-nine wounded. August 25th, 4 dead, nineteen injured. August 26th, 4 dead and ten wounded. August 27th, 4 dead and fifty-one wounded. Leaving out today, that's 27 dead and 120 wounded this week. ICCC shows 413 dead. That's incorrect. Use the links, there have been 471 reported deaths -- not including today -- in August and 1,822 reported injured. That's Reuters and McClatchy with one inclusion of Xinhau. Use the links. So Steven Lee Myers, you stupid liar, ICCC's count is not "invaluable" -- it's not even correct, you stupid moron. That the New York Times can't do their own count tells how damn little Iraq and Iraqis matter to them. So Steven Lee shows up whoring again and hoping we're all so stupid we mistake it for reporting. He not only whores on the civilian count, he whores on the number of US service members killed.

"In Iraq," Steven types, "fewer American soliders have died this month -- seven, including two in a roadside bombing early Friday -- than any other month of the war, a figure that . . ." The month isn't over. How many damn times do we have to point that out each year? Hmm. And how many were reported dead in July in the first days of August? 7. 7 were reported dead. The same damn number that outlets like the New York Times trumpted at the start of August as "lowest!!!!!"

He can't tell you that. From the
August 4th snapshot:

Late yesterday,
DoD announced: "Staff Sgt. Johnny R. Polk, 39, of Gulfport, Miss., died July 25 at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Landstuhl, Germany, of wounds suffered when his vehicle was struck by anti-tank grenade on July 23 in Kirkuk, Iraq." That July 25th death was never reported by M-NF and, again, was only announced late yesterday -- long after the outlets had done their 'end of the month' pieces. This happens over and over and the press falls for it everytime -- like saps, like suckers.

Yeah, they fell for it at the start of the month and, late August 3rd (after all the outlets had done their month-in-review pieces on July), the US military finally, FINALLY, announced a July death.

I'm not in the mood for nonsense. We are talking numbers, they are not supposed to be fluid, they are supposed to be fixed. That's why they are numbers and not ranges. Do you get the difference you damn glorified general studies major or that just beyond your highly limited education? I'm not in the mood.

Steven Lee Myers did an early roll-out on how the military wants August spun: Low deaths for civilians! Lowest month evah for US military! Evah! In fact, the whole thing reads like Maj Gen John Johnson wrote it. He gave a press briefing yesterday at the Pentagon (he appeared via videolink from Baghdad) and about the only thing of interest there was that he was asked about the 135,000 US troops in Iraq and didn't correct on that number. We'll come back to his briefing later in the snapshot.

Steven Lee Myers' cluelessness reminds me of two friends. One is a producer, the other is a singer. The singer wanted an arrangment in B flat. The singer then insisted that the arrangement was in some other key and the producer replied that the singer wouldn't know a car key from a music key "but let's go over to the piano right now and I will teach you a musical key." The singer let it go and sang the arrangement as arranged. I'm reminded of that story when I think of Steven. Who was right? The song was recorded as the producer wanted. The singer hit number one with it and it's also gave the singer the longest number of weeks in the Hot 100 -- more than any of the singer's other hits. (Yeah, I'm avoiding gender and trying to keep this very much a blind item.) Like the singer, Steven Lee Myers doesn't know what the hell he's talking about. And yet he's doing the early roll out and this is what we'll have to put up with because the press never self-corrects. (Nor does the press have a good beat that you can dance too.)

This was the month the the
Project for Excellence in Journalism noted a 92% drop in Iraq coverage took place from the first part of 2007 "to the middle of 2009." So we get less coverage and, thanks to the likes of Steven Lee Myers, we get worse coverage.

One of the few outlets -- the very few media outlets -- which has not forgotten Iraq is NPR's
The Diane Rehm Show. Diane Rehm tripped last Thursday and while she recovers from her fall, guest hosts are filling in. USA Today's Susan Page filled in for her today and Iraq was addressed during the second hour (the international hour) with panelists David Ignatius (Washington Post), Barbara Slavin (Washington Times) and Janine Zacharia (Bloomberg News).

Susan Page: Lots of developments in Iraq this week, including the death of a Shi'ite leader. Tell us what's happening there, Barbara.

Barbara Slavin: Abdul Aziz al-Hakim headed something which used to be called the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, SCIRI. It changed it's name to the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, taking out "Revolution." But it's a very important organization it was essentially created in Iran by Iran's Revolutionary Guard corps in the 1980s, after the beginning of the Iran-Iraq War. The Hakims returned to Iraq after the US overthrew Saddam. And Abdul Aziz al-Hakim has had lung cancer for some time and so this is not unexpected. But it still happens at a very delicate phase where we are anticipating elections in Iraq next year and there is a reorganization going on among the Shi'ite parties. His party, others affialiated with Moqtada al-Sadr -- a militant leader, with Ahmed Chalabi whom we'll talk about in a little bit have formed an alliance that excludes the prime minister who is a Shi'ite, Nouri al-Maliki. And they are all manuevering to see who will take power as the US withdraws from Iraq.

Susan Page: How important is this situation, David? And how perilous for US interests?

David Ignatius: Well as the US now withdraws its forces in ernest from Iraq -- we've pulled back from the cities and are really not a factor in day-to-day security -- we are seeing an increase in violence and in political chaos in the country. The death of Abdul Aziz al-Hakim a figurehead for the Shi'ite religious parties, is an example of this but in every direction I look in Iraq, I see similar uncertainty. Maliki is increasingly cocky about his own role as prime minister and I-I think has decided he can go it alone separating himself from the other Shi'ite parties. He's got his own complicated dealings with Iran. You've got the Kurds who are pushing for their own interests ever more stridently. I think the question that we need to think about is: Going forward in Iraq, is this project of the new Iraqi state that was created in 2003, after the United States invasion, do Iraqis think it's going to continue? And are they going to buy into it? And are they going to make the deals that would be part of having some kind of viable country and democracy? And right now it's really tough to be confident about that.

Susan Page: Janine?

Janine Zacharia: Just to follow up on what David was saying, I think the August 19th co-ordinated attacks where nearly 100 people were killed and 600 were wounded and US forces who were pulled back on June 30th were sitting on the outskirts and couldn't get in there because the Iraqis had not invited them, I think that this is something the US is going to be looking closely at going forward and we have to see how that's going to effect Obama's promises of doing a complete US pullout by the end of 2011. Just quickly on al-Hakim, some people have said that he's been, because of his illness, as Barbara said, he hasn't been as important day-to-day in Shi'ite politics right now and one US diplomat I spoke to said they're hoping actually this will clear the way for fresh Shia leadership within that party who can challenge Moqtada al-Sadr who is the more radical concern for them.

Susan Page: David.

David Ignatius: I've met Abdul Aziz al-Hakim's son Ammar who's the new leader of this party. We had a long and very interesting breakfast conversation and he's the sort of young man who, you know, when you meet him and talk to him, you think, "Gee, maybe things are really going to work out in this country." He is surrounded by some of the toughest, meanest politicians and I think of this nice, young man, this cleric from Najaf, getting eaten alive by the -- by the wolves of Baghdad.

Susan Page: You mentioned, Barbara, Chalabi, a familiar name to Americans from the very beginning of the Iraq War. What happened this week to an aid of his?

Barbara Slavin: Yeah, well, the twists and turns involving Ahmed Chalabi are just incredible. This is the guy, to remind people, who led Iraqi exiles after the Gulf War, who lobbied so hard to overthrow Saddam Hussein, who presented information to the media about alleged Weapons of Mass Destruction that didn't turn out to actually exist in Iraq once the US got there and he also, throughout this time, had maintained good relations with Iran -- which makes sense if you're an Iraqi Shia, since Iran is the neighbor and the biggest Shi'ite country. And what we have now is more evidence that his connection with the Iranians are closer perhaps than we even thought. The
Washington Times has a front page story today about the arrest of a top aide to Chalabi on charges that he was a liason to an Iraqi Shi'ite militant group called the League of the Righteous which, among other things, is believed responsible for the execution-style murder of five US marines in 2007. And Chalabi, of course, denies it, the aide denise it, but, uh, senior US military officials say that, indeed, Chalabi's links and the links to this group are-are documented and that Chalabi has been playing both sides of the fence.

The article Barbara Slavin's referring to was
written by Eli Lake who notes, "Mr. Chalabi is a top Iraqi politician best known in the West for helping to persuade the Bush administration to go to war to remove Saddam Hussein from power. In 2004, he sat with first lady Laura Bush during Mr. Bush's State of the Union address to Congress." Lake quotes anonymice US officials (three). The aide's name is Ali Faisal al-Lami.

For those late to the party on who the League of Righteous is, we'll drop back to the
June 9th snapshot:

This morning the New York Times' Alissa J. Rubin and Michael Gordon offered "
U.S. Frees Suspect in Killing of 5 G.I.'s." Martin Chulov (Guardian) covered the same story, Kim Gamel (AP) reported on it, BBC offered "Kidnap hope after Shia's handover" and Deborah Haynes contributed "Hope for British hostages in Iraq after release of Shia militant" (Times of London). The basics of the story are this. 5 British citizens have been hostages since May 29, 2007. The US military had in their custody Laith al-Khazali. He is a member of Asa'ib al-Haq. He is also accused of murdering five US troops. The US military released him and allegedly did so because his organization was not going to release any of the five British hostages until he was released. This is a big story and the US military is attempting to state this is just diplomacy, has nothing to do with the British hostages and, besides, they just released him to Iraq. Sami al-askari told the New York Times, "This is a very sensitive topic because you know the position that the Iraqi government, the U.S. and British governments, and all the governments do not accept the idea of exchanging hostages for prisoners. So we put it in another format, and we told them that if they want to participate in the political process they cannot do so while they are holding hostages. And we mentioned to the American side that they cannot join the political process and release their hostages while their leaders are behind bars or imprisoned." In other words, a prisoner was traded for hostages and they attempted to not only make the trade but to lie to people about it. At the US State Dept, the tired and bored reporters were unable to even broach the subject. Poor declawed tabbies. Pentagon reporters did press the issue and got the standard line from the department's spokesperson, Bryan Whitman, that the US handed the prisoner to Iraq, the US didn't hand him over to any organization -- terrorist or otherwise. What Iraq did, Whitman wanted the press to know, was what Iraq did. A complete lie that really insults the intelligence of the American people. CNN reminds the five US soldiers killed "were: Capt. Brian S. Freeman, 31, of Temecula, California; 1st Lt. Jacob N. Fritz, 25, of Verdon, Nebraska; Spc. Johnathan B. Chism, 22, of Gonzales, Louisiana; Pfc. Shawn P. Falter, 25, of Cortland, New York; and Pfc. Johnathon M. Millican, 20, of Trafford, Alabama." Those are the five from January 2007 that al-Khazali and his brother Qais al-Khazali are supposed to be responsible for the deaths of. Qassim Abdul-Zahra and Robert H. Reid (AP) states that Jonathan B. Chism's father Danny Chism is outraged over the release and has declared, "They freed them? The American military did? Somebody needs to answer for it."

That's what Barbara Slavin was referring to and she noted that she was only citing one example of the group. Another involves British citizens. From the
August 6th snapshot:

Jason Swindlehurst, Jason Creswell, Alec Maclachlan, Alan McMenemy and Peter Moore, all British citizens, were kidnapped in Baghdad May 29, 2007. Jason Swindlehurst and Jason Creswell were dead when their bodies were turned over to the British authorities after the two leaders of the group bragging about having done the kidnappings were released from US custody. (The same group, and why the brothers had been imprisoned originally by the US, bragged about their actions in assaulting a US base and killing 5 American soldiers.) The British government considers Alec and Alan to be dead (the families remain hopeful) and it is thought (by the British government) that Peter Moore is alive. The group taking credit for the kidnappings and for the deaths of 5 US soldiers is alternately called the Righteous League or the League of Righteous by the press. The press? They got press this week, see
Monday's snapshot, because Nouri met with them to bring them back into the government. As noted in the Tuesday snapshot, the press spin that the group has given up violence is false. Their spokesperson says they will not attack Iraqis but that they will continue to go after US service members.

Recapping: the League of Righteous has claimed credit for the deaths of 5 US soldiers and credit for kidnapping 5 British citizens, at least 2 of whom are known to be dead. In addition, British outlets noted last month that the Iraqi government appeared to be involved in the kidnappings (see the
July 31st snapshot if you're late on this story). Gareth Porter (Asia Times) reported in August that recent developments demonstrate how Nouri al-Maliki, puppet of the occupation and US-installed thug, has long been working with the League of Righteous:

The history of the new agreement confirms what was evident from existing information: the League of the Righteous was actually the underground wing of the Mahdi Army all along, and the Sadrist insurgents were secretly working closely with the Maliki regime against the Americans and the British - even as it was at war with armed elements within the regime. The contradictory nature of the relationship between Maliki and the Sadrists reflects the tensions between pro-Sadrist elements within the regime - including Maliki's Da'wa Party - and the anti-Sadrist elements led by the Supreme Council of Islamic Revolution in Iraq. The relationship between Maliki and the US was also marked by contradictions. Even though he was ostensibly cooperating with the US against the Sadrists in 2007 and 2008, the Maliki regime was also cooperating secretly with the Sadrist forces against the Americans. And Maliki - with the encouragement of Iran -- was working on a strategy for achieving the complete withdrawal of US forces from Iraq through diplomatic means, which he did not reveal to the Americans until summer 2008.

That was earlier this month and no one really followed up on what Gareth Porter was reporting. But that is the League of Righteous. Nouri has some ties to it and now the Washington Times is stating that three US government officials (who may or may not be telling the truth) are stating that Ahmed Chalabi also has a relationship with them. On The Diane Rehm Show, Steve Roberts has also been filling in for Diane and
Monday's show featured him with a panel discussing Iraq and Afghanistan with three people. I'll provide a link to it and note that Steve did a strong job filling in but the guests were decidely unimpressive and that's why we didn't note it.

While we're in the US,
Peace Mom Cindy Sheehan has been on Martha's Vineyard protesting the continued illegal war and the Afghanistan War and the undeclared war on Pakistan. Mike Seccombe (Vineyard Gazette) reports her events included a press conference where she stated of Barack Obama, US president, "Just because he's better than Bush doesn't sell me, because practically everybody in the world is better than Bush." George Brennan (Cape Cod Times) adds, "Like she has since her son, Casey, was killed in Iraq in 2004, Sheehan is using the backdrop of a presidential vacation to make her pitch for peace. It's an effective way to get her anti-war protests attention, she said. 'The only change in foreign policy has been a change for the worse,' she said, wearing a pink T-shirt with a peace symbol and the words, 'Peace. Love. Vineyard'."
The White House states that due to a funeral, Barack will be leaving the island. Not the funeral that has the world's attention. That funeral hardly gets noticed in the US -- outside of those mourning the passing.
BBC News (link has text and video) reports that Abdul Aziz al-Hakim's body has been taken to Baghdad and "PM Nouri Maliki and hundreds of officials met the coffin of Hakim, the leader of one of Iraq's most powerful Shia parties, at Baghdad airport. The body is to be taken to the Shia shrine city of Karbala, before being buried in Najaf on Saturday." Xinhua quotes Nouri stating at the airport, "We lose you in a delicate and sensitive period, when we are in need of a strong an experienced man." That's always been Nouri's problem, like Melissa on thirty-something, he needs a man. Al Jazeera hails al-Hakim, who died Wednesday, as "the most powerful Shia politician in Iraq". A memorial service was held yesterday in Tehran and the central government in Baghdad has declared a three-day mourning period. CCTV has video of Nouri at the memorial service in Baghdad. Alsumaria provides this sketch of al-Hakim's life:He is the son of Grand Ayatollah Mohsen Al Hakim and the youngest of his ten children who most of them were killed during the former regime.Abdul Aziz Al Hakim co-founded the Islamic Revolution Supreme Council in Iraq and fled the country in the early eighties after his family was chased and assassinated. He lived in Iran leading the Iraqi opposition against the regime of former President Saddam Hussein.Sayyed Abdul Aziz Al Hakim returned to Iraq on April 17 2003 following the topple of the former regime.He gained an influential political role when he took over as head of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq after his elder brother, Grand Ayatollah Muhammad Baqer Al Hakim, died in a car bombing.

Jomana Karadsheh (CNN -- link has video and I'm told it includes the shot of the thousands reaching for the coffin that CNN was running throughout the afternoon -- footage which resulted in a high number of e-mails to CNN about the funeral because that footage caught a number of American viewers' attention) reports that security was tight in Baghdad with streets "sealed off Friday, and Iraqi air forces helicopters hovered overhead. Sobbing mourners beat their chests and heads, a traditional Shiite way of mourning. They swarmed around the coffin trying to touch it as it was carried into the Kadhimiya shrine, one of Shiite Islam's holiest." Jane Arraf (Christian Science Monitor) notes, "The black turban signifying his family's descent from the prophet Muhammed was placed on Hakim's coffin which was covered in flowers and placed on a covered platform on the tarmac." Gulf Times reports that Ammar al-Hakim (his son) led the mourners and wore a black robe and turban while President Jalal Talabani was the first mourner to speak and stated, "He was a leader, a devoted fighter of Iraq. We are confident that the void left in his family and in the Supreme Council will be filled by the men of his family, such as Ammar al-Hakim."

The security was tight but how tight is underscored by the decision to hold that memorial ceremony at Baghdad International which means that the US forces were also out in force. Camp Victory is a US base (not handed over to iraq) and it surrounds Baghdad International Airport. Turning to some of today's reported violence . . .

Bombings?

Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Nineveh Province roadside bombing which claimed 1 life (civilian) and wounded an Iraqi soldier and, dropping back to last night, a Mosul roadside bombing which claimed the lives of 2 people and left four injured.

Shootings?

Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports Nineveh Provincial Council member Tariq Ali Abbawi was assassinated last night. Reuters notes the US military shot dead 1 man and injured another stating the two were suspected bombers and, dropping back to last night, note an attack in Mosul on Iraqi police which claimed the life of 1 young girl and left another civilian injured.

None of that was included in the earlier count. Yesterday, US Maj Gen John Johnson spoke to the press and Military Times' Bill McMichael asked about Sahwa, aka Sons Of Iraq, aka "Awakening." These are the Sunnis the US government armed and trained (they
dispute arming them) and paid to stop fighting US troops. Nouri al-Maliki does not want to bring them into Iraq's security forces. Many a reporter has WRONGLY stated that they've been brought in. Since November. They have not been brought in. Johnson stated that of the "over 90,000 Sons Of Iraq," only "about 20% of them will be integrated into the Iraqi security forces" and he then stated that "over 3,300, as I said, have already been pulled into the Iraqi ministries" and then he would say that was just in Baghdad and throughout Iraq there were "a little over 13,000 that have been integrated into Iraqi security forces, either into the army or into the Iraqi police" -- no, that's not really 20% which is why it appears he's helping Steven Lee Myers, neither can handle numbers. And when you can't handle 20%, I really fear for your wait staff. I mean, however do you tip? Like Steven Lee Myers, another US general tried to play down the violence today.
Diana Elias (AP) reports that Gen George Casey yammered away about "ebb and flow" -- he sounds like a Righteous Brother but not, however, a member of the League of Righteous.

Human Rights Watch released "
'They Want Us Exterminated': Murder, Torture, Sexual Orientation and Gender in Iraq," a 67-page report [PDF format warning] click here, last week. In the US, it's received more attention this week than last. Wayne Besen (Windy City Times) noted of the revelations about the targeting of Iraq's LGBT community, "In Iraq, 'extremism' is too mild a word to describe the acts of those who abuse gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people." Rex Wockner (San Francisco Bay Times) adds, "The killers invade homes and grab people on the street, HRW reported. Victims are interrogated for names of others before being murdered. Torture practices include supergluing victim's anuses shut, then feeding them laxatives." At CounterPunch, David Rosen notes the report and attempts to find some larger points:

Sexuality, and the attendant issue of "honor" killings, provides a unique window into the alleged clash of civilizations. It is that sphere of human existence in which the twin dimensions of being human are forged. In sex, the truely human (i.e., consciousness) and the truely animal (i.e., physicality) are unified into a singluar experience. This unity is lived out as both species reproduction and erotic pleasure.
Sexuality is also one aspect of socio-personal life that is very much sharpened by "civilization," by cultural values and religious beliefs as well as by the marketplace and battles between geopolitical empires. Peoples, nations and civilizations have struggled for millennia over the meaning of sexuality, whether for men, women or young people and whether defined as hetrosexual or homosexual.
Explicit and aggressive sexuality is a powerful force dividing the West from, for example, the Arab and Islamic world. It is one of the most threatening dimensions of Western capitalism's cultural system that is pushing ever-deeper into the intimate, private lives of people throughout the world.
For many, the experience of globalization resonates less in the plunder of a nation's natural resources or the exploitation of its collective labor power than in the flood of erotic sensibilities challenging established power relations. This apparent assault often provokes the greatest resistance.

I do not believe David Rosen is attempting to state or imply that same-sex attraction and relationships are new or just emerging in Iraq. Someone will e-mail to protest. To be clear, HRW's report makes a point of noting that LGBTs are not new to Iraq and they're certainly not new to any region or area.
Finally
Sherwood Ross (Veterans Today) weighs in on Lawrence Velvel's America 2008 (Velvel is the Dean of Massachusetts School of Law at Andover):


Iraq's bloodshed is worse, Velvel writes "because today we not only have a years-long unwinnable war, but also torture, kidnappings and renderings to foreign countries for torture, many years of detention without trial of people who are innocent, the use of massive private armies to help carry out Executive policies" suppression of the media far beyond anything experienced during Viet Nam"the use of Executive Branch lawyers to write professionally incompetent secret memoranda giving clearance to awful policies, and the use of retired generals who are making a fortune from the Pentagon to spread its gospel on the mainstream media."
Today's wars of aggression are being waged, Velvel notes, because previous Washington officials were not held to account for their crimes: "Lyndon Johnson retired to his ranch, Nixon received a pardon and went back to San Clemente, McNamara became the long time President of the World Bank, Kissinger became richer and richer (and secretly advised Bush and Cheney on Iraq)"Wolfowitz was given a sinecure at the World Bank, lawyers who facilitated the misdeeds---such as Jay Bybee and John Yoo---are federal judges or professors at leading law schools."

TV notes, and all PBS programs begin airing tonight in most markets.
NOW on PBS offers:Would you pay more in taxes to fix roads and rail?The majority of American goods are transported by trucks, even though freight trains are greener and more fuel-efficient. Where should America be placing its bets for moving our economy and what would you personally sacrifice for it?This week, Correspondent Miles O'Brien looks at the contemporary needs, challenges, and solutions for transporting vital cargo across America, and how those decisions affect the way you live, work, and travel.This program is part of a PBS-wide series on the country's infrastructure called "Blueprint America."On Washington Week, Gwen sits around the table with David Broder (Washington Post), Karen Tumulty (Time magazine), David Wessel (Wall St. Journal) and Pete Williams (NBC News).Meanwhile Bonnie Erbe and her guests Karen Czarnecki, Ann Friedman, Irene Natividad and Tara Setmayer discuss the week's news on this week's edition of PBS' To The Contrary. Check local listings, on many stations, it begins airing tonight. And turning to broadcast TV, Sunday CBS' 60 Minutes offers:
The Wasteland Where do the millions of computer monitors, cell phones and other electronic refuse our society generates end up? Some of it is shipped illegally from the U.S. to China, reports Scott Pelley, where it is harming the environment and the people who salvage its valuable components. Watch Video
Financial Weapons of Mass Destruction Steve Kroft examines the complicated financial instruments known as credit default swaps and the central role they are playing in the unfolding economic crisis. Watch Video
Birdman Forrest Bird's invention, the respirator, has saved millions of lives and, approaching his ninth decade, he's still living his life to the fullest, flying his airplanes and working 12-hour days. Morley Safer reports. Watch Video
60 Minutes Sunday, Aug. 30, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.


iraq
nprthe diane rehm show
gareth porter
the washington timeseli lake
mcclatchy newspaperslaith hammoudi
cindy sheehan
the christian science monitorjane arrafmike seccombegeorge brennanthe guardianagnes callamardbbc newsalsumariaal jazeera
sherwood ross
60 minutescbs newspbsto the contrarybonnie erbenow on pbs

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Dennis Loo's rocks fell out

Rocks

Oops! Step back. Looks like Denny Loo done shook his head and some of the rocks fell out.

SOME.

Not all.

Denny Loo's a fool. He's a smug little fool, but he's a fool.

Mike outlines tonight how Denny Loo just can't shut up and I'll add Denny Loo just can't stop lying. At World Can't Wait, he's claiming an article at Third Estate Sunday Review ("Shame on Dennis Loo") said something that it did not say.

I know what that article says because I was one of the people writing it.

So Denny needs to stop lying.

And it's shameful that he tried to bully Ruth to begin with. Good for Ruth for refusing to go along.

I don't like little men. Little men are always bullies because they have such huge chips on their shoulders about their size. An average size guy or a tall one, no problem. But those little ones? Everyone I've ever met thought he could bully a woman. Thought a woman needed to kiss his ass just because he managed to dress himself that morning.

Denny Loo must be four feet and two inches to be such a bully.

One day, he's going to bully the wrong person and it's going to bite him in the ass. When that day comes, he has no one but himself to blame.

This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Thursday, August 27, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, Cindy Sheehan and others continue demonstration on Martha's Vineyard, Barack Obama's approval rating hits a record low in a new poll, and more.

Starting in the US, Peace Mom
Cindy Sheehan's on Martha's Vineyard. She is protesting an occupant of the White House. (For those confused, we now have President Barack Obama. I have never used the p word to describe George W. Bush and will not start now.) She is demonstarting against the continuation of the illegal wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and attempting to raise attention. Justin Raimondo (Antiwar.com) observed this week:

There was a time when
Cindy Sheehan couldn't go anywhere without having a microphone and a TV camera stuck in front of her. As she camped out in front of George W. Bush's Crawford ranch, mourning the death of her son Casey in Iraq and calling attention to an unjust, unnecessary, and unwinnable war, the media created in her a symbolic figure whose public agony epitomized a growing backlash against the militarism and unmitigated arrogance of the Bush administration. It was a powerful image: a lone woman standing up to the most powerful man on earth in memory of her fallen son.

Karen Travers (ABC News) reports today, "Sheehan said today she wanted to tell Mr. Obama that even if he goes on vacation, her group will not take a break from spreading their message of peace. . . . The scene outside the Oak Bluffs School on Martha's Vineyard today was a far cry from those massive rallies aimed at Bush. Only a dozen people showed up to hear her speak, and about half of them were part of her contingent." NBC's Alicia Jennings quotes Cindy stating today, "The facade has changed but policies remain the same. Integrity in our movement means we have to do same for Obama as we did for Bush. We're here to make wars unpopular again. Because if we were right to oppose it under Bush, we're right to oppose it under Obama. While the Obamas are here on vacation, people are still dying. There's no vacation from body bags. And the families of dead soldiers will never be able to truly enjoy a vacation again." Mark Silva (Chicago Tribune) quotes Cindy stating, "We have to realize, it is not the president who is [in] power, it is not the party that is in power, it is the system that stays the same, no matter who is in charge." Patricia Zengerle (Reuters) adds, "Sheehan, whose son was killed in Iraq in 2004, set up a small "Camp Casey," named for her late child, near Blue Heron Farm, the compound on the Massachusetts island Martha's Vineyard where Obama and his family are spending a weeklong holiday."

That's Real Media. What about beggar media? What about the Queen of
Panhandle Media Amy Goodman, The Nation and The Progresive? Not one damn word. At some point when Amy, Matty Rothschild and Katrina vanden Heuvel take their tongues out of Barack's asshole, what they'll be tasting is their own hypocrisy and don't think the right wing's not pointing out and don't think the general population isn't registering it.

Victor Davis Hanson, of the right-wing Hoover Institute, is laughing at the left:The war in Iraq is scarcely in the news any longer, despite the fact that 141,000 American soldiers are still protecting the fragile Iraqi democracy, and 114, as of this writing, have been lost this year in that effort.[. . .]As long as Barack Obama is commander-in-chief, and as long as casualties in Iraq are down, there will be no large public protests or much news about our sizable Iraq presence. The cost and the attendant politics -- not why we went there -- always determined how the Iraq war was covered.The left better grasp that we are not huge. We are not this bulge in the population. The biggest section of the population is the group that does not obsess over politics. And you better grasp that every time the right points to the hypocrisy of the left, it registers because the right's correct to point. "Cindy Sheehan protesting a president? It's something to cover!" That was the cry in 2005. In 2009? What's changed? The White House now has a Democratic occupant.You better grasp the message you send and how you look like a liar operating under situational ethics and how you say to the middle and the non-identifying crowd that the left has no ethics and no standards. But they aren't journalists. Would a journalist do what Katha's done? Write a little bit about a town hall she didn't attend but her friend told her about? That's journalism? What high huge standards. Meanwhile Patricia J. Williams sounds like such a raging loon ("America's own Weimer moment"!) that you start realizing that they have nothing to offer. They really have nothing. So they're running with fear and propaganda and trying to outrage a public. A few years back, we called those people right-wing pundits. Today we call them Panhandle Media. A bunch of beggars who couldn't work a real job -- even in journalism -- if their life depended upon it. So instead they're political evangilists, the Jerry Fallwells of today, unwilling to work but thrilled to beg, "Send money! Send money!" They'll happily fleece your pockets. They have no ethics. They have nothing but the greed and the hate. And these are people who want to influence you. That last one may be the saddest of all. But grasp that they'll fleece you and they'll make money off of you and then they will abandon you. The are no ethics among these so-called leaders. The left needs real leaders. One of those people is Cindy Sheehan who could be vacationing right now. She could be doing a number of things. She doesn't the hate aimed at her or the silence from supposed allies. Cindy doesn't want to be the face of the movement but she also knows that the movement is fading very quickly and that no one is stepping forward. So she's yet again offering leadership.

Someone has to. Cowards like the self-loathing lesbian Laura Flanders won't. This is the woman who never called Barack out for homophobia. Not during the primaries, not during the general, not at the inauguration, not ever. The woman's a lesbian. She won't fight for herself how the hell can she fight for anyone else? Answer: She can't. We were asked to note her crappy show. And I considered it. She's got an interview with two women about Iraqi women. It's not worth noting. It's not saying anything. And certainly the self-loathing lesbian can't say anything. Here's
Laura at Information Clearing House, "But President Obama has a problem. Every American military commanders want more troops but maybe, someday, the president's anti-war base will get restive." But without you, Whora Flanders. You're the liar in 2008 who claimed the left needed to hold Barack's feet to the fire and you would, you said. But you never did. You're just a liar with a chalky face (apparently covering a hundred facial eruptions -- those aren't pimples, I have no idea what they are). Her guests are from the laughable MADRE. The liars of MADRE. MADRE gave up the high ground when they refused to call Barack out for his silence during the January assault on Gaza. Not only were they silent about that, they were raving over him. They were drooling over him. Life's too short to be willfully stupid and it's too precious to be silent. Cindy Sheehan's doing a brave thing and you better believe people are absorbing what's going on, they are taking a measure of the left gas bags and noticing how silent they are. You better believe that will effect the left in the next 15 years more than anything else. Laura doesn't know it because she doesn't know America. But anyone with any history in this country knows where this leads for the left 'leaders.'

For the peace movement, if no one turns out for Cindy, it's not bad. (People have turned out and more are planning to.) Because Cindy's standing up. She's standing up and she's making a difference and she's putting it on the line. Forget the right-wing pundits, but people on the right who didn't understand her and thought she was just some 'anti-Bush' person are seeing that's not the case. It doesn't mean they agree with her (though some may), but it does mean that they're willing to reconsider their original thoughts of her. And in the center and, more importantly, in the mass of Americans who are not politically obsessed, the message is being sent that we protest war, regardless of who is in the White House. And the message is being sent that despite so many self-appointed leaders being massive hypocrites, Cindy Sheehan's the real deal. She is planting seeds. And she deserves applause for what she's doing. Instead those who were happy to beg her to show up for their magazine's benefit to raise more money (these magazines cannot support themselves because so few people read them) now act like they don't know her.


The Iraq War has not ended. This morning
Emily Nipps (St. Petersurg Times) reported, "Family and friends said farewell Thursday morning to an Army Reserve military police battalion heading to Iraq." Among those present was Caleb Dawson's wife, Patrice Dawson: "Patrice just got out of the military after her own stint in Iraq, and another with deatinees in Cuba. Every deployment is a little different, she said. This time, too, the couple's son C.J., a restless 4-year with a mohawk, understands his 'Daddy's going to work with the Army,' she said."

Turning to veterans issues,
Tuesday's snapshot went over some of the recent events (some of which may be PTSD related, some may not) of violence against others and themselves by Iraq War and Afghanistan War veterans. And, repeating, that is not saying that veterans -- suffering from PTSD or not suffering from it -- are a threat to society. That is not true. Even those with PTSD or other conditions are not a threat. But there are a number, a small number at present, of veterans who are struggling and are resorting to violence. And, more importantly, there is a higher number of veterans who are struggling and doing so in the dark without any help and because their struggle does not lead to violence, they are easy to render invisible.
"They gave me a gun" he said
"They gave me a mission
For the power and the glory --
Propaganda -- piss on 'em
There's a war zone inside me --
I can feel things exploding --
I can't even hear the f**king music playing
For the beat of -- the beat of black wings."
[. . .]
"They want you -- they need you --
They train you to kill --
To be a pin on some map --
Some vicarious thrill --
The old hate the young
That's the whole heartless thing
The old pick the wars
We die in 'em
To the beat of -- the beat of black wings"
-- "The Beat of Black Wings," words and music by
Joni Mitchell, first appears on her Chalk Mark In A Rainstorm.
In Tuesday's snapshot, we noted "Posttraumatic Stress Disorder as a Risk Factor for Suicidal Ideation in Iraq and Afghanistan War Veterans" (Journal of Traumatic Stress, Vol. 23, No. 4, August 2009, pp 303 - 306). When we had a functioning media, as opposed to 24-7 Celebrity Death Watch, published studies in peer reviewed scientific journals were news. Apparently, if it doesn't make E!, it's not considered news by the daily papers. The study was composed of sample of 435 Iraq and Afghanistan War veterans. Half of the sample was diagnosed with PTSD (49.6%) prior to study. The findings included:
Prior research with Vietnam veterans with chronic PTSD has established an association between PTSD and suicide (Bullman & Kang, 1994). This study extends these findings by demonstrating an association between suicidal ideation and PTSD in treatment-seeking OIF/OEF veterans with more acute forms of PTSD. PTSD was significantly associated with suicidal ideation after accounting for age, depression and substance abuse, with PTSD veterans over four times more likely to report suicidal ideation than veterans who did not screen psotive for PTSD. Among veterans who screen positive for PTSD, there was no significant increase in risk for suicidal ideation associated with a single comorbid disorder. However, the likelihood for suicidal ideation was 5.7 times greater in veterans with PTSD who screened positive for two or more comorbid disorders relative to veterans with PTSD alone. Results suggest that veterans with PTSD who have multiple psychiatric comorbidities may be at greater risk for suicidal ideation. This increased likelihood of suicidal ideation associated with comorbidity is notable because, of those OIF/OEF veterans diagnosed with a mental disorder, 27% have three or more different mental health diagnoses.
Monday the Department of Veterans Affairs announced, "The VA is publishing a proposed regulation today in the Federal Register to make it easier for a Veteran to claim service connection for PTSD by reducing the evidence needed if the stressor claimed by a Veteran is related to fear of hostile military or terrorist activity. Comments on the proposed rule will be accepted over the next 60 days. A final regulation will be published after consideration of all comments received. Under the new rule, VA would not require corroboration of a stressor related to fear of hostile military or terrorist activity if a VA psychiatrist or psychologist confirms that the stressful experience recalled by a Veteran adequately supports a diagnosis of PTSD and the Veteran's symptoms are related to the claimed stressor." Tuesday US House Rep John Hall declared, "I am optimistic that this new rule is going to be a giant step forward in getting veterans the benefits they have earned faster and easier. This rule should make major progress in clearing the VA's claims backlog.
I will work with the VA and veterans during the comment period to ensure that the rule in application is as comprehensive and inclusive as my COMBAT PTSD Act. Veterans currently face an adversarial process when they seek treatment and compensation from the VA. Our servicemen and women have been forced to 'prove' a specific stressor that triggered their PTSD, even if they have already been diagnosed. They need to track down incident reports, buddy statements, present medals, and leap other hurdles to mee the threshold the VA mandates in order to receive desperately needed compensation. Just
as our military adapts and reforms its strategies in every war it fights, the VA is now
adapting to assist the surviving heroes of those wars."
James Dao (New York Times) reported on the VA's proposed change yesterday and noted, "Critics said the proposed rule would still require veterans to prove a connection between a traumatizing event and their PTSD, even when that connection was not clear cut. Strict application of that requirement could lead to many rejected claims, they say." Which is why it's all the sadder that 'change' in the administration saw the VA being put under a retired general
and he's not proposing half of what US House Rep John Hall is.

IVAW's Cameron White notes a retreat for female members of the military and former members:

Combat to Connection A Retreat for Female Service Members and Veterans October 8-11, 2009
During this four-day retreat we will focus on healing, connecting & finding our strengths.
Connect with other women veterans by sharing stories, experiences and community; learn stress management techniques; exercise your creative side;
and enjoy a beautiful setting through hiking & kayaking on scenic Tomales Bay, California.
Who is eligible? All women who served in the military since September 11th, 2001, without regard for race, religion, politics or sexual preference.
What does the retreat cost? There is no cost to you for lodging, meals, workshops, ground transportation or air travel. Coming Home Project programs are completely free of charge to the participants.
Applications? Deadline is Sept. 8th, 2009 Click Here to Apply
www.cominghomeproject.net
Everyone is welcome as they are and all are treated with respect. There is no particular political or religious belief or affiliation that is represented or required. The intention of the Coming Home Project is to serve veterans
and contribute to their well-being and healing.
Coming Home Project 1801 Bush St. #213 San Francisco CA 94109

Meanwhile
Dan McCue (Courthouse News Service) reports on Iraq War veteran Khadim Alkanani who was disabled due to being shot by contractors while serving in Baghdad
and is now suing the mercentaries of Aegis Defense Services: "Sgt. Khadim Alkanani claims the June 2005 shooting was 'remarkably similar' to other incidents which employees of Aegis Defense Services have captured on 'trophy videos' which show 'senseless
shootings of innocent personnel in automobiles from an armed vehicle."

Oliver August (Times of London) reports, "Iraq is on heightened alert after a string of car bombgs in Baghdad [. . .] amid preparations for the biggest public funeral since the country regained sovereignty." He's referring to Abdul Aziz al-Hakim whose death yesterday morning continues to have an impact. On PBS' NewsHour last night (link has text, video and audio options) Judy Woodruff explained, "The leader of the largest and most powerful Shiite party in Iraq died today after a long battle with lung cancer. Abdul Aziz al-Hakim had been in Iran undergoing treatment. The 59-year-old cleric was instrumental in shaping Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hussein. His son is his likely successor as party leader, with just five months to go before Iraq's parliamentary elections." Liz Sly (Los Angeles Times) notes al-Hakim managed to juggle "his close relationships with both Washington and Tehran." Ernesto Londono (Washington Post) cites the Congressional Research Service's Kenneth Katzman stating, "Hakim's passing
is likely to set off a major power struggle in ISCI that could lead to its fracture. Ammar is viewed by the older ISCI figures as inheriting the position rather than earning it." The
Telegraph of London adds, "The ISCI, which holds a quarter of the seats in the Iraqi parliament, this month joined a new alliance ahead of scheduled elections in January 2010. The alliance includes Muqtada al-Sadr, and -- if it prevails at the polls – could introduce a new era of Shia dominance in Iraqi politics." The White House's lack of
interest in Iraq has been much noted and it continued yesterday as they
issued a statement (under pressure) which was perfunctory at best:

THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary ______________________________________________________________________
______
For Immediate Release August 26, 2009
Statement by the Press Secretary on the death of His Eminence Abdul Aziz al-Hakim
We were saddened to learn of the passing of His Eminence Abdul Aziz al-
Hakim, who has played an important role in Iraq's national history. We offer
our condolences to his family and colleagues.

Ali Sheikholeslami and Caroline Alexander (Bloomberg News) note the White House statment and note Nouri al-Maliki, thug of the occupation, issued praise as did Jalal Talabani, President of Iraq. Marc Santora (New York Times) reveals Nouri had need
to praise al-Hakim, "Mr. Hakim's influence could be seen as recently as February, when
a plan by leading politicians to try to oust Mr. Maliki was scuttled because Mr. Hakim
would not offer his support, according to a coming article in The National Interest, a
journal of current affairs, by Kenneth M. Pollack. Mr. Hakim objected because he felt
it would look as if the politicians were trying to overturn the will of the people, Mr.
Pollack reports." The
United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq issued the following:

Baghdad 27 August 2009 -- The Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Iraq (SRSG) Ad Melkert extends his deepest condolences
to the family of His Eminence Abdul Aziz Al Hakim as well as to the Iraqi people.
Mr. Melkert said that with the death of Abdul Aziz Al Hakim, "Iraq lost an
important leader at a critical juncture." He said that the late Abdul Aziz Al Hakim played an important role in helping Iraq stabilize and chart a path from conflict
to reconciliation and the United Nations appreciates the support his eminence extended to it over the past few years.

AP describes "thousands" gathering in Iran for al-Hakim's memorial and quotes various Iranian leaders making statements about al-Hakim's legacy. CNN notes a memorial scheduled in Baghdad for tomorrow and reports of today's memorial in Tehran, "Iraqi and Iranian government officials attended the procession with senior religious figures and some members of the Iraqi parliament." Xinhua reports the following was aired on Iraqi state-TV, "The Iraqi government announced three-day national mourning starting from Thursday for the death of Sayyed Abdul Aziz al-Hakim." Oliver August explains, "His coffin will be driven in an armed convoy from Baghdad across Iraq on its way to the world's largest cemetery in the holy city of Najaf in what will be a highly charged event. The procession will be guarded by thousands of troops and police in view of an upsurge in violence." Memorials go beyond those two countries. Niraj Warikoo (Detroit Free Press) reports that tonight and tomorrow will see memorials in Dearborn Michigan: "Hundreds are expected to attend the services at the Karbalaa center in Dearborn. And many are watching the funeral services in Iran on satellite TV stations, [Iman Husham] Al-Husainy said." And some anticipate that violence levels will rise tomorrow. Today?

McClatchy Newspapers reports 2 Baghdad sticky bombings resulted in twelve people wounded, a Baghdad car bombing claimed the life of 1 civilian and left five more injured, 5 Baghdad roadside bombings resulted in thirteen people left injured, a Mosul roadside bombing claimed the life of 1 police officer and left one more injured while a second Mosul roadside bombing claimed 1 life and left an Iraqi soldier injured. Reuters drops back to Wednesday night to note 2 Baghdad car bombings resulted in twelve people being injured, 2 Baghdad roadside bombing resulted in five people being wounded, a Kirkuk roadside bombing injured two people and 1 police officer was shot dead in Kirkuk
injured).

In the US,
Barack Obama's got bad news in the latest Economist/YouGov poll which finds his approval ratings at a record low of 48% and the poll also sought to measure opinions on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars:

The fighting in Afghanistan is nearing the end of its eighth year, while the war in Iraq is six years old. Americans interviewed in this week's poll see no end in sight for either war, and think that both will end with America withdrawing without victory. A third of Americans think the US is winning in Iraq, while only 15% say that about Afghanistan. That's even lower than the 18% who thought America was winning the war in Afghanistan last week, before the presidential election there.
Little sets the two wars apart in Americans' minds, but there is one very big difference. Only 31% think America made a mistake getting involved in Afghanistan. But a majority, 55%, say sending troops to Iraq was a mistake.
There are partisan differences on both wars, but they are especially stark when assessing Iraq. A majority of Republicans (60%) say America is winning in Iraq, something just 20% of Democrats think. Most Republicans (62%) expect eventual victory there, more than twice the number of Democrats (24%) who say this. Republicans reject the claim that America made a mistake sending troops to Iraq. Just 16% of Republicans say that, compared with 78% of Democrats.


Iraq Veterans Against the War's Carl Webb posts a review by Louis Proyect of Molly Bingham and Steve Connors' amazing documentary Meeting Resistance:

Meeting Resistance is a film that gives a voice to the shadowy Iraqi resistance
that has fought the world's most powerful imperialist country in history to a standstill. With an economy of means, this documentary accomplishes what all great art strives for, namely the humanisation of its principals. With so much hatred directed against Sunni insurgents, who lack the socialist credentials
of past insurgencies that attracted the solidarity of the Western left, Meeting Resistance takes a giant step forward in making the "enemy's" case.
After watching this powerful film, one will have to agree with British MP and
anti-war activist George Galloway's assessment in a speech given at the
al-Assad Library in Damascus on July 30, 2005: "These poor Iraqis -- ragged people, with their sandals, with their Kalashnikovs, with the lightest and most basic of weapons -- are writing the names of their cities and towns in the
stars, with 145 military operations every day, which has made the country ungovernable by the people who occupy it.
"We don't know who they are, we don't know their names, we never saw their faces, they don't put up photographs of their martyrs, we don't know the names
of their leaders. They are the base of this society. They are the young men and young women who decided, whatever their feelings about the former regime -- some are with, some are against. But they decided, when the foreign invaders came, to defend their country, to defend their honour, to defend their families, their religion, their way of life from a military superpower, which landed
amongst them."
Co-directed by Steve Connors and Molly Bingham, Meeting Resistance allows
a group of insurgents in the al Adhamiya district in Baghdad to explain why
they decided to fight the occupation, how they are organised, and -- perhaps
of the greatest interest -- what kind of backgrounds they have. Among the most interesting revelations is that only a small percentage can be described as Ba'athist "dead-enders", the description that was offered by the Bush gang
early on and that was accepted by some sectors of the left. A political science
professor in Baghdad, the only interviewee who is not actually part of the resistance, estimates that less than 10% are Ba'ath Party activists.

Independent journalist
David Bacon reports on the struggling immigrant community in Alameda at ImmigrationProfBlog:Familes receive food at a food distribution organized every month by Hope for the Heart in Hayward. Many people begin lining up for food the day before, and sleep overnight on the sidewalk in order to make sure they get their food before it runs out. Many families are immigrants from Mexico, and don't have enough money to buy food or pay rent. Food for the program comes from the Alameda County Community Food Bank, and the people distributing the food are all volunteers, organized by local churches. During the food distribution, children of food recipients listen to music, and watch a religious service while their families are waiting.The report is text and visual. David Bacon is noted for his photography and his latest exhibit is "People of the Harvest, Indigenous Mexican Migrants in California." The reception for it takes place tonight at 6:00 pm at the Asian Resource Gallery (310 Eight Street at Harrison, Oakland, CA). The exhibit runs through next month and the gallery's hour are nine in the morning until six in the evening, Monday through Friday. Immigrant Rights News carries the following:People of the Harvest is part of a larger project, Living Under the Trees, that documents the lives of communities of indigenous Mexican farm workers in California, through documentary photographs. The photographs in People of the Harvest were taken in 2009. It's no accident the state of Oaxaca is one of the main starting points for the current stream of Mexican migrants coming to the United States. Extreme poverty encompasses 75 percent of its 3.4 million residents. Thousands of indigenous people leave Oaxaca's hillside villages for the United States every year, not only for economic reasons but also because a repressive political system thwarts the kind of economic development that could lift incomes in the poorest rural areas. Lack of development pushes people off the land.The majority of Oaxacans are indigenous people-that is, they belong to communities and ethnic groups that existed long before Columbus landed in the Caribbean. They speak 23 different languages. "Migration is a necessity, not a choice," explains Romualdo Juan Gutierrez Cortez, a teacher in Santiago Juxtlahuaca, in Oaxaca's rural Mixteca region.In California, indigenous migrants have become the majority of people working in the fields in many areas, whose settlements are dispersed in an indigenous diaspora. This movement of people has created transnational communities, bound together by shared culture and language, and the social organizations people bring with them from place to place. People of the Harvest documents the experiences and conditions of indigenous farm worker communities. It focuses on social movements in indigenous communities and how indigenous culture helps communities survive and enjoy life. The project's purpose is to win public support for policies helping those communities to achieve social and political rights and better economic conditions. The communities documented in this show are locacted in Arvin, Taft, Oxnard and Santa Paula, Santa Maria, Fresno, Greenfield, Watsonville and Marysville. They include Mixtecos, Triquis, Zapotecos, Chatinos and Purepechas. The photographs are digital color images, which focus on the relationship between community residents and their surroundings, and their relations with each other. They present situations of extreme poverty, but they also show people as actors, capable of changing conditions, organizing themselves, and making critical decisions. The project is a partnership between David Bacon, documentary photographer and journalist (The Children of NAFTA, UC Press, 2004, Communities Without Border, Cornell/ILR Press, 2006, and Illegal People - How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants, Beacon Press, 2008), California Rural Legal Assistance, especially its Indigenous Farm Worker Project, and the Binational Front of Indigenous Organizations (FIOB). Special thanks to Rick Mines and the Indigenous Farmworker Study, funded by the California Endowment, who made the documentation in People of the Harvest possible.David Bacon's latest book is Illegal People -- How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants (Beacon Press) which just won the CLR James Award. Bacon is also on KFPA's The Morning Show each Wednesday discussing labor and immigration issues.

iraq
cindy sheehan
the los angeles timesliz slycnnthe washington post
ernesto londonothe new york timesmarc santora
james dao
the journal of traumatic stress the new york times
caroline alexanderbloomberg news
david bacon

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A very telling photo

hero_sotomayorreception2

That's Barry O and Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

Outside of when the camera is just on him, does Barack ever have a good time?

Look at his expression.

He really comes off as a tight ass.

Really look at the photo and notice how natural and free Sonia Sotomayor comes off, like a real person. And then look at Barry.

It appears to be a very telling photo.


This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Tuesday, August 26, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, Iraqi leadership suffers a loss, Cindy Sheehan begins protesting on Martha's Vineyard, John V. Walsh notes the silence from many left pundits, Iraq's refugee community remains at risk, a national government speaks out against the targeting of Iraqi LGBTs (no, it's not the US government), and more.

Abdul Aziz al-Hakim passed away from lung cancer today. He was fifty-nine-years-old.
Liz Sly and Raheem Salman (Los Angeles Times) hail him as "a towering figure in the post-U.S.-invasion political landscape." His stature was such that even Iraq's prime minister paid homage to al-Hakim in recent months. As noted June 3rd on Nouri's trip to Iran:Iran's Press TV reported he flew to "Hakim's bedside in Tehran" this weekend because Abdul Aziz al-Hakim is receiving treatments for cancer. al-Hakim, like Nouri, is an Iraqi chicken who ran to exile, stayed in exile for decades and then, after the US invasion, was a 'respected' Iraqi . . . in the eyes of the US. al-Hakim grew up in Najaf and left Iraq in 1980 for Iran. Robin Wright (Washington Post) reported May 19, 2007 that al-Hakim had gone to Houston due to lung cancer: "Vice President Cheney played a role in arranging for Hakim to see U.S. military doctors in Baghdad, who made the original diagnosis, and for the current medical treatment in Houston, the sources said."The Tehran Times reports, "Mourners will hold a funeral procession in Tehran on Thursday which will start in front of the Iraqi Embassy. Later his body will be transferred to Najaf for burial." CNN notes, "Abdul Aziz Al-Hakim spent years in Iran as an exile, but returned to Iraq in 2003 following the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. He had been an ally of both the United States and Iran." BBC observes of his political party Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council (SIIC and ISCI), "The party has several senior cabinet members, and its militia - the Badr Brigade - wields considerable influence in Iraq's security establishment." Marc Santora (New York Times) notes that "Supreme Council Members hold positions atop important ministries and in Parliament. The group runs charitable organizations, libraries and schools and has a large network of support that stretches back to when Mr. Hakim's father, Grand Ayatollah Mohsen al-Hakim, was one of the top Shiite spiritual leaders in the world." Iran's Press TV calls SIIC "Iraq's most powerful party" and adds, "The death of Hakim will add to political uncertainty ahead of national polls in January and after a series of devastating bombings. " China's People's Daily Online (link has text and audio -- audio is in English) notes al-Hakim "became a member of the U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council and served as its rotating presidency in December 2003." Iran's Fars News Agency adds, "Mohsen Hakim announced that the body of his father will be transferred to the holy city of Najaf in southern Iraq for funeral processions, reminding that the time and location of the ceremony for the Iraqi leader will be announced later. " The Iranian Students News Agency explains, "Since his hospitalization in Tehran, his elder son Ammar Hakim has taken control of the SIIC." Waleed Ibrahim (Reuters)reports that Ammar al-Hakim is expected to be his "likely successor as party leader" and adds:Although ISCI lost ground to Maliki's Dawa in provincial elections last January, the well-organized and well-funded party has major clout and will be a formidable competitor in January.ISCI has several members in top ministerial posts, and has influence in Iraq's security forces, which include members of ISCI's armed affiliate, the Badr Organization.ISCI derives much of its support from the Hakim family name, revered among Shi'ites for its lineage of scholars and sacrifice in the face of assaults by Saddam and later by Sunni insurgents during the bloodshed that raged after the U.S. invasion.Hakim's son Ammar appears to have been groomed for succession, given his regular appearances on behalf of and next to his father, but there are other key figures in the party.The death will leave ripples throughout the political community in Iraq and raises many issues. Yesterday's snapshot covered the new Shi'ite coalition and noted Caroline Alexander (Bloomberg News) report on the new political coalition: "The 10-party Iraqi National Alliance includes two groups whose leaders are both in Iran -- the country's largest Shiite party, cleric Abdul Azis al-Hakim's Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council, and the bloc of anti-U.S. cleric Muqtada al-Sadr." Robert Dreyfuss (The Nation) was also noted in yesterday's snapshot and we'll note the opening paragraph to his "'Iraq Will Be A Colony of Iran':"Iraq's Shiite religious parties, most with ties to Iran, have reestablished a political bloc called the Iraqi National Alliance. Among its founders are Ahmad Chalabi, the revered darling of US neoconservatives such as Richard Perle and Danielle Pletka of the American Enterprise Institute; Muqtada al-Sadr, the brooding, mercurial mullah who has mysteriously retreated to Qom, Iran's religious capital, for quick-study lessons on how to become an ayatollah; and, of course, Abdel Aziz al-Hakim, one of the founders of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), which has changed its name but not its spots. SCIRI, the anchor of the new coalition, is now called the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI), but it still acts as an arm of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, which founded it in 1982, and its paramilitary Badr Brigade -- also a part of the new Iraqi alliance -- is a terrorist unit that operates pro-Iran death squads in Iraq.

The Angola Press observes, "Correspondents say the death of the Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council (SIIC) leader adds further uncertainty ahead of national elections next January." Chip Cummins (Wall St. Journal) offers that his death threatens "more tumult among Shiite politicians attempting to unite ahead of January elections" and quotes the Norwegian Institute for International Affairs' Reider Vissar who states, "It's potentially a destabilizing factor (for ISCI) because the succession issue is very much open at the moment." Adam Ashton (McClatchy Newspapers) quotes Nouri stating, "Sayed al Hakim was a bigger brother and a strong support during the period of fighting the former regime and a fundamental corner in the process of building the new Iraq. His departure at this sensitive phase that we are going through is considered a great loss for Iraq." Marc Santora adds, "The American ambassador, Christopher R. Hill, and the Gen. Ray Odierno, the commander of American forces in Iraq, issued a joint statement praising his 'courage and fortitude' in 'building a new Iraq'." Ali Sheikholeslami and Caroline Alexander (Bloomberg News) call him "a power broker who insisted on Iraq's sovereignty and said it must end the country's conflict independently. Al-Hakim had close ties to neighboring Iran, while working to enhance relations between his native Iraq and the U.S. He met with then-president George W. Bush in Washington in October." Liz Sly and Raheem Salman notes his close ties to the Bush administration and point out, "A theologian who always wore the black turban and flowing robes of a senior Shiite cleric, he was seen as a divisive figure by many Sunnis. Many associated him with the killings of Sunnis by the Supreme Council's military wing, the Badr Organization, in the aftermath of the fall of Hussein and with the ascendant influence of Iran in Iraqi politics." On the news of the new alliance, Oliver August (Times of London) noted that with Nouri (currently) out of the running for prime minister if the alliance secures a majority, his "potential successors are Adel Abdul Mehdi, the Vice-president and a senior leader of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, and Ibrahim al-Jaafari, Iraq's first elected prime minister. Also on the slate is Ahmed Chalabi, the enigmatic former ally of the American neocons. Mr Chalabi helped to build the case for the American invasion but is now a Shia nationalist. Further in the shadows, but no less plausible as prime minister, stand Jawad al-Bolani, the Interior Minister, and Qassim Daoud, the former national security adviser."

The death will have implactions for the future of Iraq including the prolonged and no-time-soon ending US coccupation. In the US Peace Mom
Cindy Sheehan is demonstrating on Martha's Vineyard through August 29th since War Hawk in Chief Barack Obama has decided it's the perfect spot for a vacation. (See Trina last night and she's correct to wonder. My place was booked up for this summer before 2008 ended and that's with friends and family and I don't charge rent. To squeeze in at the last minute does mean the White House pulled strings and that does raise the issue of favors owed. And last minute to get a place -- if you don't own one -- on the Vineyard for summer 2009 was anytime after Labor Day in 2008.) John V. Walsh has a must read at CounterPunch and here's a lenghty excerpt that still doesn't do justice to the passion and honesty of his column:

A funny thing has happened on Cindy Sheehan's long road from Crawford, Texas, to Martha's Vineyard. Many of those who claim to lead the peace movement and who so volubly praised her actions in Crawford, TX, are not to be seen. Nor heard. The silence in fact is deafening, or as Cindy put it in an email to this writer, "crashingly deafening." Where are the email appeals to join Cindy from The Nation or from AFSC or Peace Action or "Progressive" Democrats of America (PDA) or even Code Pink? Or United for Peace and Justice. (No wonder UFPJ is essentially closing shop, bereft of most of their contributions and shriveling up following the thinly veiled protest behind the "retirement" of Leslie Cagan.) And what about MoveOn although it was long ago thoroughly discredited as principled opponents of war or principled in any way shape or form except slavish loyalty to the "other" War Party. And of course sundry "socialist" organizations are also missing in action since their particular dogma will not be front and center. These worthies and many others have vanished into the fog of Obama's wars.
Just to be sure, this writer contacted several of the "leaders" of the "official" peace movement in the Boston area -- AFSC, Peace Action, Green Party of MA (aka Green Rainbow Party) and some others. Not so much as the courtesy of a reply resulted from this effort - although the GRP at least posted a notice of the action. (It is entirely possible that some of these organizations might mention Cindy's action late enough and quickly enough so as to cover their derrieres while ensuring that Obama will not be embarrassed by protesting crowds.) We here in the vicinity of Beantown are but a hop, skip and cheap ferry ride from Martha's Vineyard. Same for NYC. So we have a special obligation to respond to Cindy's call.
However, not everyone has failed to publicize the event. The Libertarians at Antiwar.com are on the job, and its editor in chief Justin Raimondo wrote a superb
column Monday on the hypocritical treatment of Sheehan by the "liberal" establishment. (1) As Raimondo pointed out, Rush Limbaugh captured the hypocrisy of the liberal left in his commentary, thus:
"Now that she's headed to Martha's Vineyard, the State-Controlled Media, Charlie Gibson, State-Controlled Anchor, ABC: 'Enough already.' Cindy, leave it alone, get out, we're not interested, we're not going to cover you going to Martha's Vineyard because our guy is president now and you're just a hassle. You're just a problem. To these people, they never had any true, genuine emotional interest in her. She was just a pawn. She was just a woman to be used and then thrown overboard once they're through with her and they're through with her. They don't want any part of Cindy Sheehan protesting against any war when Obama happens to be president."
The Green Party isn't promoting her demonstration? The same Green Party that needed her to turn out a crowd for their 2008 presidential debate? And now they can't promote a demonstration against the ongoing wars? (In fairness to them, they just needed her to bring out a crowd. The Nation profitted off of Cindy back in the day.)
Mattt Viser (Boston Globe) reports, "High-profile protester Cindy Sheehan arrived last night and was whisked to a 34-foot wooden sloop on Lake Tashmoo, kicking off a four-day visit that will include a series of peace activities. She will be staying in homes of her supporters, some not far from Obama's 28-acre retreat in Chilmark." Julia Rappaport (Boston Herald) quotes Cindy stating, "No matter who's president, we still have to keep our end of our democracy going. Even though Bush is no longer in office, these policies are still continuing. In many areas, they're escalating -- the occupations in Iraq, Afghanistan and now the horrible fightings in tribal regions. The killing of innocent people in the name of corporate welfare, or whatever this war is for, is certainly not about freedom or democracy or keeping us safe here at home."

The killing of innocent people in the name of corporate welfare? Monday
August Cole (Wall St. Journal) was enthusing over miltiary drones noting it was "altering the defense-industry landscape" as well as having "transformed the battlefields in Iraq and Afghanistan" resulting in a FY2010 White House budget request of "approximately $3.5 billion for unmanned aerial vehicles." And the US government continues sending service members to Iraq. WJLA-TV (link has text and video) notes members of "The Old Guard" at Fort Meyer, VA are preparing to deploy to Iraq. And Wilson Ring (Brattleboro Reformer) reports that Joseph Fortin, who was killed in Iraq Sunday, "was the 27th serviceman with ties to Vermont to die in Iraq" and that he's survived by Niqcuelle Fortin, his wife, and Martin and Betsy Fortin, his parents. Charlotte Albright (Vermont Public Radio) speaks with friends of Joey Fortin. His former coach, Peter Wright, states, "He would do the right thing, he behaved himself, he followed rules, he was very respectful, he liked people, he was willing to help people and I think that was very important and what separates him from some of his classmates that way."

In Iraq, more games played today. Yesterday's snapshot included, ""In other news, who can pull out their ambassador first? That's the game Syria and Iraq are engaged in.
Xinhua reports that upon learing Iraq was withdrawing their ambassador, Syria decided to withdraw its ambassador to Iraq and notes that Iraq is demanding Syria hand over Ba'athists living in Syria (it's neither a crime to be a Ba'ahist or to live in Syria) whom they insist are responsible for the last Wednesday's bombings. This as Khalid al-Ansary, Suadad al-Salhy and Missy Ryan (Reuters) report the al Qaeda in Iraq-linked Islamic State of Iraq has issued a statement claiming credit for the bombings: 'As we announce our reponsibility for this blessed foray, we want to clarify, as we have said repeatedly, that we target the foundations of this evil state and those who supported it and helped establish it'." Today Sameer N. Yacoub (AP) reports that Syrian's diplomat Bassam Haj Hassan was summoned to the Iraq's Foreign Ministry today by the deputy minister Labid Abbawi who repeated Nouri's demand that Syria turn over two people to Iraq and Hassan repeated the Syrian government's request that any evidence of criminal activity on the part of the two Iraqis in Syria be presented in Damascus.

Syria could easily make their own set of demands. For example, where's that money Nouri was promising when the world was paying attention to Iraqi refugees? Nouri was supposed to be supplying money to the host countries neighboring Iraq. Syria, Jordan and Lebanon house the largest number of Iraqi refugees.
Thomas James (Foreign Policy In Focus) reports on the 1-million-plus Iraqi refugees in Syria, "At the UN compound in Douma, a neighborhood in northern Damascus, men, women and children sit in crowed warehouse-like buildings. These refugees from Iraq wait for the UNHCR food rations that will keep them from starving. . . . Next door in Iraq, the talk has been of recovery and resurgence. But there is a feeling that the Iraqi government, awash in oil receipts, is not doing enough to help its displaced nationals. The figures for returning Iraqis are low, and huge swarths of Iraq's middle class, vital for the rebuilding of the country, remain in Syria and Jordan, many intent on resettlement to Europe or America."

Few will make it to the US -- due both to the low numbers the US is willing to accept as well as these regulations which have not, HAVE NOT, significantly improved since Bush left office and which, as one friend at the UN puts it, "Assumes every Arab is a terrorist and must prove otherwise before being admitted."
Alexandra Zavis (Los Angeles Times) reports on Iraqi refugees in Jordan such as a 51-year-old Iraqi woman, Shifa, who is an attorney and had just been informed by the International Organization for Migration that "no US company would recognize her law degree or nearly two decades of experience." Shifa leaves Iraq after losing two brothers (shot dead on the streets) and her husband: "In May 2005, gunmen in a speeding car seized her husband as he left for work at an electronics import company. Shifa watched from a window. It was the last time she saw him. To pay a $150,000 ransom, she sold the new home they had been building. But she did not get her husband back. She spent months scouring police stations, hospitals and morgues, studying hundreds of pictures of corpses, battered, burned and riddled with drill holes."

Iraqis like Shifa do not go back to Iraq. That's what so many non-Iraqis still refuse to grasp.
The Myth of the Great Return remains a myth all these years later. Few Iraqis who became external refugees have returned. The small number that does has to face the very high chance that they will become internal refugees as so many have learned. Other external refugees returning have been attacked upon leaving the caravan back into Iraq. Shifa has lost two brothers and a husband. She's not going back. No woman would. That pain has soured her on Iraq. It is no longer just fear about her own life and that's what the "Come on back, it's safer!" crap never grasps. No, it's not safer in Iraq. It's not safe enough for returns. But those who have seen their loved ones slaughtered? They're not going back. They can't. They can't return to make a life in a country where their five year old was kidnapped and beheaded. It is not their home anymore. The US invasion and the US installation of a 'government' ensured that Iraq was no longer their country. Iraqi Jews have all but vanished. (Reportedly three to five remain in Baghdad.) They're not going back. The Iraqi Christian community members who made it out of the country? They're not going back. Those who made it to the Kurdistan Regional Government will most likely make that area their new home. But those who got out are gone. The violence hasn't gone away but even if did tomorrow, it would not change the way you sour on a place when you see your child's corpse or you watch as your family members is shot by 'security forces'. Shifa's not going back. And she's far from the only Iraqi refugee who will do anything to make a home anywhere else -- not out of fear but because their home is gone. There is no where for Shifa to return.

Zavis explains the process for those who do make it into the US, "For refugees arriving in the U.S., the first few weeks are a whirlwind. They apply for Social Security numbers, food stamps and cash assistance; register for English classes; get health screenings; and start looking for a job. The government contracts with nonprofits including the New York-based International Rescue Committee, or IRC, to guide them through the process and toward independence." But the cash assitance is very brief and not all that to begin with. They're also not citizens. If they'd like to become US citizens, they have to wait until they've been here (with all the paperwork in order) for at least five years.

In July, the UNHCR issued a report entitled "
Surviving in the city" focusing on cities in Jordan, Lebanon and Syria and dealing with the needs of "large populations of urban refugees." Among the problems faced, "the majority of Iraqis do not have any immediate prospect of finding a solution to their plight. Most of them consider that current conditions in Iraq prevent them from repatriating, while a significant number state that they have no intention of returning there under any circumstances." From page 49 (report is not PDF format, for any thinking that detail was forgotten):

A Jordanian scholar who was interviewed in the course of this review commented that "the decision to flee from your own country is always easier to make than the decision to return." This observation is certainly supported by the case of the Iraqi refugees, many of whom left their homes at short notice, threatened by escalating violence in their homeland and the very real threat that they would be targeted for attack because of their religious identity, their profession or their relative prosperity.
At the time of their sudden departure, the refugees hoped that the crisis would not persist very long, and that withing a reasonable amount of time they would be able to return to Iraq, reclaim their property and resume their previous life. But as time has passed, those expectations have faded and the refugees are left with few choices with regard to their future.
The majority do not want to repatriate now or in the near future. Only some of the refugees can expect to be admitted to a third country by means of resettlement. And those who remain in their countries of asylum have no opportunity to benefit from the solution of local integration have very limited prospect for self-reliance and are confronted with the prospect of a steady decline in their standard of living. In the words of an elderly refugee man living in the Syrian city of Aleppo "when we left Iraq, we simply didn't know that we would end up like this."

Huge numbers aren't coming back. They are never coming back. Next Tuesday, Refugees International's Kristele Younes will speak about on the topic of Iraqi refugees at Albany Law School starting at 6:00 pm. Meanwhile
The Local reports Germany will add 144 more Iraqi refugees this week (to the 1,003 they have already granted asylum to). A growing Iraq refugee community is Iraq's LGBTs and those suspected of being LGBT due to the fact that they are being targeted by government-backed militias and elements of the government. Last week, Human Rights Watch released a report entitled "'They Want Us Exterminated': Murder, Torture, Sexual Orientation and Gender in Iraq." For the 67-page report [PDF format warning] click here. US House Rep Alcee Hastings is one of the few US politicians who noted the report. In Australia, their administration can speak out against it. The Sydney Star Observer reports:

The Rudd Government says it's concerned about ongoing reports of serious human rights abuses against gay Iraqi men and will continue to raise the issue with the country's leaders. The response comes as Human Rights Watch released a 67-page report last week detailing a mounting campaign of murder and torture of gay men across Iraq.The deeply disturbing report points to a rise in reported killings of gay men since the beginning of 2009, as part of a concerted eradication plan, likely stemming from extremist militia networks. "The Australian Government remains concerned by violence and reports of human rights violations in Iraq. This includes reports of violence against women and minority groups," a DFAT spokeswoman told Southern Star. The spokeswoman said senior Australian officials had brought up specific concerns about the persecution of gay men in Canberra on July 22 with visiting senior Iraqi officials including high-ranking officers from the Ministry of Human Rights and the Iraqi National Police.

The Sydney Star Observer's Andrew M. Potts covers the findings in the HRW report:

Many have occurred in the Shiite neighbourhoods of Baghdad, but Sunnis are involved too and the campaign has spread as far south as Basra, and as far north as Kirkuk in Kurdistan. The killers' methods are horrific, with victims often raped and tortured to force them to beg their families for ransoms or give up the names of other homosexuals before they are finally murdered. Usually families find the bodies of their loved ones in trash piles, but sometimes they are strung up as a warning to others. And although the Iraqi poets of antiquity once wrote love odes to beautiful youths, the killers say homosexuality is an imported vice. Earlier this year, one such 'executioner' told journalists from the UAE that his kind were eradicating "a serious illness… that has been spreading rapidly among the youth after it was brought in from the outside by American soldiers. These are not the habits of Iraq or our community and we must eliminate them."Homosexuality is not illegal in Iraq, and its Interior Ministry claims it is taking the issue seriously despite allegations that some of the killers are its own employees.

Rex Wockner (Windy City Times) covers the report today, "One man told HRW that militiamen kidnapped and killed his partner in April: 'Four armed men barged into ( my partner's parents' ) house, masked and wearing black. They asked for him by name; they insulted him and took him in front of his parents. ... He was found in the neighborhood the day after. They had thrown his corpse in the garbage. His genitals were cut off and a piece of his throat was ripped out. Since then, I've been unable to speak properly. I feel as if my life is pointless now. ... ( F ) or years it has just been my boyfriend and myself in that little bubble, by ourselves. I have no family now -- I cannot go back to them. I have a death warrant on me. I feel the best thing to do is just to kill myself'."

Turning to some of today's reported violence . . .

Bombings?

Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad car bombing wounded five people (two were police officers), a Baghdad roadside bombing wounded four people, a Bawuba roadside bombing which claimed the life of 1 farmer and, dropping back to last night, a Mosul roadside bombing which claimed the lives of 2 civilians and left one police officer wounded.

Shootings?

Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Mosul bus invasion in which assailants shot "randomly" resulting in the death of 1 young girl and, dropping back to last night, a gun fired in Baghdad that may have been attempting to assassinate the Minister of Planning whose motorcade was passing by.

Corpses?

Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 2 corpses discovered in Baquba.

Back in June we noted Father Tim Vakoc who passed away from wounds received in a May 29, 2004 Iraq bombing. AP notes that Father Tim is "believed to be the first military chaplain wounded in Iraq". Maura Lerner (Minneapolis Star-Tribune) reports, "A state investigation has found that two nursing assistants were responsible for the June accident that led to the death of the Rev. Tim Vakoc, a Roman Catholic priest and Army chaplain, at St. Therese nursing home in New Hope." Heather Brown (WCCO) adds, "In its report, the Health Department found 'evidence indicates neglect did occur' in this case. It put the blame on the two nursing assistants who were in the room at the time of Vakoc's fall. The investigator also found St. Therese was in compliance with state and federal regulations and will not be cited for this incident."

Independent journalist
David Bacon is noted for his photography and his latest exhibit is "People of the Harvest, Indigenous Mexican Migrants in California." The reception for it takes place tomorrow evening at 6:00 pm at the Asian Resource Gallery (310 Eight Street at Harrison, Oakland, CA). The exhibit runs through next month and the gallery's hour are nine in the morning until six in the evening, Monday through Friday. Immigrant Rights News carries the following:People of the Harvest is part of a larger project, Living Under the Trees, that documents the lives of communities of indigenous Mexican farm workers in California, through documentary photographs. The photographs in People of the Harvest were taken in 2009.It's no accident the state of Oaxaca is one of the main starting points for the current stream of Mexican migrants coming to the United States. Extreme poverty encompasses 75 percent of its 3.4 million residents.Thousands of indigenous people leave Oaxaca's hillside villages for the United States every year, not only for economic reasons but also because a repressive political system thwarts the kind of economic development that could lift incomes in the poorest rural areas. Lack of development pushes people off the land.The majority of Oaxacans are indigenous people-that is, they belong to communities and ethnic groups that existed long before Columbus landed in the Caribbean. They speak 23 different languages."Migration is a necessity, not a choice," explains Romualdo Juan Gutierrez Cortez, a teacher in Santiago Juxtlahuaca, in Oaxaca's rural Mixteca region.In California, indigenous migrants have become the majority of people working in the fields in many areas, whose settlements are dispersed in an indigenous diaspora. This movement of people has created transnational communities, bound together by shared culture and language, and the social organizations people bring with them from place to place.People of the Harvest documents the experiences and conditions of indigenous farm worker communities. It focuses on social movements in indigenous communities and how indigenous culture helps communities survive and enjoy life. The project's purpose is to win public support for policies helping those communities to achieve social and political rights and better economic conditions. The communities documented in this show are locacted in Arvin, Taft, Oxnard and Santa Paula, Santa Maria, Fresno, Greenfield, Watsonville and Marysville. They include Mixtecos, Triquis, Zapotecos, Chatinos and Purepechas. The photographs are digital color images, which focus on the relationship between community residents and their surroundings, and their relations with each other. They present situations of extreme poverty, but they also show people as actors, capable of changing conditions, organizing themselves, and making critical decisions. The project is a partnership between David Bacon, documentary photographer and journalist (The Children of NAFTA, UC Press, 2004, Communities Without Border, Cornell/ILR Press, 2006, and Illegal People - How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants, Beacon Press, 2008), California Rural Legal Assistance, especially its Indigenous Farm Worker Project, and the Binational Front of Indigenous Organizations (FIOB). Special thanks to Rick Mines and the Indigenous Farmworker Study, funded by the California Endowment, who made the documentation in People of the Harvest possible.David Bacon's latest book is Illegal People -- How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants (Beacon Press) which just won the CLR James Award. Bacon is also on KFPA's The Morning Show each Wednesday discussing labor and immigration issues.In the US, women won the right to vote with the 19th Amendment which reads: "The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation." Noting this sent to the public e-mail account:To commemorate the anniversary of the Nineteenth Amendment, August 26th, the HerStory Scrapbook website (www.herstoryscrapbook.com) is a compilation of over 900 links to articles, editorials, and letters in The New York Times Archive regarding the final four years of the fight for women's suffrage.

Today is Women's Equality Day. And thank the pionnering Bella Abzug for that because she led the 1971 Cognressional battle to have the day declared a holiday. Feminist Wire Daily has more news on that
here. And Ms. magazine encourages you to celebrate today:

Celebrate Women's Equality Day by joining Ms. in saluting Gloria Steinem in honor of her 75th birthday.
As Gloria turns 75,
Ms. is providing supporters an opportunity to wish her a happy birthday in the magazine. That's right. Ms. will print the names of supporters who want to celebrate with Gloria this extraordinary landmark -- not only of years, but of her amazing achievements for women.
To participate,
we are asking you to make a special gift of $75 - or $15 - or $150 - or whatever multiple of $75 you can afford, to not only celebrate Gloria's birthday but to keep her legacy of Ms. strong for future generations. Whatever the size of your contribution, we will make sure your name is printed in Ms. wishing Gloria happy birthday.
Half her lifetime ago, Gloria launched Ms. magazine - a brazen and rebellious act of independence in the 1970s when the feminist movement was either denigrated or dismissed in the mainstream media - if it was mentioned at all. Today, Ms. is recognized as one of the top 51 U.S. magazines of all time.
Please take a moment now to reflect on what Gloria and Ms. have meant to you.
Then sign up to wish Gloria a happy birthday.
Your name will be part of the issue hitting the newsstands in the fall -
if you give now. And, your extraordinary birthday gift to Gloria will ensure her legacy of Ms. stays strong and vibrant for future generations.
I urge you to act today to make a tax-deductible contribution of $75 - or $15 - or $150 -or $750 … or even a lifetime membership of $1,000 in honor of Gloria's birthday.
Help keep Ms. and the women's movement going strong. Join us in celebrating Gloria - and keep spreading everyday rebellion!


iraqcnnbbc newspress tvthe washington postrobin wrightwaleed ibrahimreuterscindy sheehan
john v. walshrobert dreyfussthe nationcaroline alexanderbloomberg news
the wall street journalchip cummins
the times of londonoliver august
david baconkpfathe morning show

Blog Archive