Friday, November 6, 2009

Debra Winger

Do you have pet peeves?

I have many.

Online, my biggest is probably reading an article and not knowing when it was published? Do you know what I'm talking about? You find an article on a subject you like and you're reading it and the whole time thinking, "When did this get published?" Because it has no date on it.

At work today, we were trying to name an actor or actress that we really like but don't usually think to name. That's because we have a woman at work who is obsessed with Denzel Washington and Adrian Brody. (So much so, she'll tell you, that if the two starred in a gay porn together, she'd be in heaven.) So to make it interesting, Delisa suggested we think of someone we don't usually name.

Believe it or not, that's a bonding exercise -- or we called it that.

So it was on the Outlook e-mail by ten this morning and I was thinking for most of the morning and wondering who I was going to say when the afternoon rolled around?

Then it hit me because it's someone I really like who doesn't make that many films anymore -- she walked away from movies -- so I don't often think of her: Debra Winger.

I don't know what film I saw her in first but I already knew the Wonder Woman TV show (with Lynda Carter) where Debra played Princess Diana's younger sister. So whatever the first film I saw her in, I was thinking, "It's Drusilla from Paradise Island!"

A lot of people would say their favorite Debra Winger movie was Terms of Endearment or An Officer and a Gentleman or Urban Cowboy.

I do love all three but for me, the favorites are the ones that are a little off the beaten path. Like Everybody Wins with Nick Notle which I can't follow (it's supposed to be a mystery) the plot of but Winger is amazing in her role. Or A Dangerous Woman which you can follow and features two really strong performances: Debra Winger and Barbara Hershey.

The Sheltering Sky loses focus but she's brilliant in it.

And, probably most of all, I love Mike's Murder and Black Widow.

But I love her period. Even in Leap of Faith which is a bad movie -- or Legal Eagles. Just her in the film adds a level.

So Debra Winger was my choice and when I gave it this afternoon, everyone went "ooooh." You could hear it, an exhale. Followed by, "I love her too!"

And the main reason for that is probably because her characters are always rooted, she makes them real.

The article? Holly Millea's "Does Debra Winger Have Legs?" from New York Magazine . . . at some point in this or the last decade.

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


Friday, November 6, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, Democratic senators hear how KBR's greed put everyone in Iraq at risk, some gas bags shouldn't be on radio, the Fort Hood shooting, and more.


Rick Lamberth: As a LOGCAP [Logistics Civil Augmentation Program] Operations Manager, it was my duty to report to KBR management when the company was in violation of guidelines and the contract Statement of Work. I witnessed burn pit violations on a weekly basis. When I tried to report violations, I was told by the head of KBR's Health Safety and Environment division to shut up and keep it to myself. At one point, KBR management threatened to sue me for slander if I spoke out about these violations.
Rick Lamberth was in Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan. In addition to being an Iraq War veteran, he worked for KBR and saw "KBR employees dump nuclear, biological, chemical decontamination materials and bio-medical waste, plastics, oil and tires into burn pits" thereby exposing many US and Iraqi citizens to health risks. Rick Lamberth, for example, now has a series of respiratory problems. Last week,
Kelly Kennedy (Army Times) reported, "An open-air 'burn pit' at the largest U.S. base in Iraq may have exposed tens of thousands of troops, contractors and Iraqis to cancer-causing dioxins, poisons such as arsenic and carbon monoxide, and hazardous medical waste, documentation gathered by Military Times shows." Kelly was reporting on Joint Base Balad. L. Russel Keith worked for KBR at Joint Base Balad (March 2006 to July 2007) and he explains, "While I was stationed at Balad, I experienced the effects of the massive burn pit that burned 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The ten-acre pit was located in the northwest corner of the base. An acrid, dark black smoke from the pit would accumulate and hang low over the base for weeks at a time. Every spot on the base was touched by smoke from the pit; everyone who served at the base was exposed to the smoke. It was almost impossible to escape, even in our living units."

Rick Lamberth and L. Russell Keith were two of the four witnesses appearing before the Democratic Policy Committee today, for a hearing into burn pits led by Committee Chair Byron Dorgan. Also appearing as witnesses were Lt Col Darrin Curtis and Dr. Anthony Szema. At the start of the hearing, Chair Dorgan explained, "This is the twenty-first in a long series of hearings that we have held in the Policy Committee to examine contracting waste and abuse in Iraq and Afghanistan. A number of these hearings have focused on substantial abuse which have put out troops lives in danger. Some focused just on waste and some on fraud. Today we're going to have a discussion and have a hearing on how, as early as 2002, US military installations in Iraq and Afghanistan began relying on open-air burn pits -- disposing of waste materials in a very dangerous manner. And those burn pits included materials such as hazardous waste, medical waste, virtually all of the waste without segregation of the waste, put in burn pits. We'll hear how there were dire health warnings by Air Force officials about the dangers of burn pit smoke, the toxicity of that smoke, the danger for human health. We'll hear how the Department of Defense regulations in place said that burn pits should be used only in short-term emergency situations -- regulations that have now been codified. And we will hear how, despite all the warnings and all the regulations, the Army and the contractor in charge of this waste disposal, Kellogg Brown & Root, made frequent and unnecessary use of these burn pits and exposed thousands of US troops to toxic smoke."

That's from Chair Dorgan's opening remarks and you can [PDF format hearing warning]
click here to read his prepared remarks (the above is what was stated which differs slightly from the prepared remarks). You can also visit the Democratic Policy Committee's home page for more information and streaming video of today's hearing should be up there as well. (If it's not up already, it will be up by Monday.)

The burn pit issue was dismissed and ignored for many years -- despite the fact that the rules weren't being followed.
On October 28, 2009, US House Rep Tim Bishop's office released a statement noting: "Today, President [Barack] Obama singed into law the National Defense Authorization Act 9H.R. 2647), which includes important provisions authored by Congressman Tim Bishop (NY-1) to protect the thousands of troops exposed to toxic, open burn pits used in Iraq and Afghanistan. These provisions were based on Bishop's legislation, the Military Personnel War Zone Toxic Exposure Prevention Act, (HR 2419) introduced with Rep. Carol Shea-Porter on May 14, 2009." Hopefully, that signing will result in the press paying a bit more attention to the issue and not, as some have done, treat it as a dispute between political parties -- which is how it was too often treated by the press during the Bush years, with a lot of hedging and a lot of 'some say' type 'reporting.' December 20, 2006, Lt Col Darrin Curtis wrote a memo entitled "Burn Pit Health Hazards" [PDF format warning, click here].

Chair Byron Dorgan: Mr. Curtis, why did you decide to write the 2006 memorandum? And did anyone else at that point share your concerns about the health impact of burn pits?

Lt Col Darrin Curtis: Yes, Senator, they did. The Chief of Air Space Medicine had the same concerns I did. The memo was initially written so that we could expedite the installation of the incinerators. From my understanding, there were spending limits of monies with health issues and not health issues so I wanted to write the report to show that there are health issues associated with burn pits so that we could hopefully accelerate the installation of the incinerators.

Chair Byron Dorgan: Of the type of burn pit you saw in Iraq in 2006 -- that's some while after the war began and infrastructure had been created and so on except without incinerators -- if something of that nature were occurring in a neighborhood here in Washington DC or any American city, what are the consequences to them?

Lt Col Darrin Curtis: At least fines and possibly jail.
Chair Byron Dorgan: Because?

Lt Col Darrin Curtis: Of the regulations that are out there today.

Chair Byron Dorgan: Because it's a serious risk to human health?

Lt Col Darrin Curtis: Yes, sir.

Chair Byron Dorgan: You say that when you arrived in Iraq an inspector for the US Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine -- which is CHPPM -- told you that the Balad burn pit was the worst environmental site that he has seen and that included the ten years he had performed environmental clean up for the Army and Defense's Logistic Agency. And yet in your testimony, you also say that CHPPM has done this study and says adverse health risks are unlikely. So you're talking about an inspector from CHPPM that says 'this is the worst I've seen' and then a report comes out later from CHPPM that says: "Adverse health risks are unlikely. Long-term health effects are not expected to occur from breathing the smoke." Contradiction there and why?

Lt Col Darrin Curtis: I think any organization, you're going to have people with differences of opinion. But at CHPPM, I'm sure that was the same-same outcome there. Cause I don't know if that individual --

Chair Byron Dorgan: (Overlapping) Do you think that CHPPM -- do you think CHPPM assessment that's been relied on now is just wrong?

Lt Col Darrin Curtis: (Overlapping) I think -- I think -- Senator, I think the hard line that there is no health effects is a -- is a very strong comment that we don't have the data to say. Do we have the data to say that it is a health risk? I don't think we have that either. But I do not think we have the data to say there is no health risk.
Chair Byron Dorgan: You are a bio-environmental engineer what is -- what is your own opinion? Without testing or data, you saw the burn pits, you were there, you hear the testimony of what went in the burn pits, you hear Dr. Szema's assessment. What's your assessment?

Lt Col Darrin Curtis: I think we're going to look at a lot of sick people later on.

"I think we're going to look at a lot of sick people later on." And why, the bigger why? Why would anyone -- KBR or anyone -- put people at risk? Rick Lamberth explained during the hearing, "KBR was able to get away with this because the Army never enforced the applicable standards. KBR's Project Controls Department also kept their information hidden. During one visit by a representative from DCMA. I heard someone from Project Controls state that it was her job to keep DCMA away from the books during the inspection. KBR management would brag that they could get away with doing anything they wanted because the army could not function without them. KBR figured that even if they did get caught, they had already made more than enough money to pay any fines and still make a profit."

"Brag that they could get away with doing anything." "Even if they did get caught, they had already made more than enough money to pay any fines and still make a profit." Chair Dorgan noted that one of his greatest disappointments is that there is not "a Truman type committee with subpoena powers" currently "perhaps some day we'll get that." Senator Tom Udall agreed with Dorgan that a Truman type committee was needed. Rick Lamberth told Senator Udall that he did an analysis about how the burn pits could be shifted down wind.

Senator Tom Udall: They didn't want to do that?

Rick Lamberth: Correct, sir.

Senator Tom Udall: Cost them too much?

Rick Lamberth: Correct, sir.


Senator Jon Tester spoke of how Lamberth was told by KBR to keep quiet about violations "because that clean up was future business." He wondered, "How many burn pits there were in Iraq?" L. Russell Keith stated Balad was the biggest one (and the one he was familiar with), that it was ten acres, that "a lot of parts of it were below ground [. . .] there were a lot of things in it that wouldn't burn [. . .] old vehicles [. . .] transit buses". Senator Blanche Lincoln noted that the burn pits continue in Iraq and Afghanistan and we'll include this exchange.

Senator Blanche Lincoln: The comment made about the fact that these [burn pits] were used because there's potential future business, is it the typical business of KBR and others for hazardous waste clean up?

Rick Lamberth: What do you mean, ma'am, by the -- ?

Senator Blanche Lincoln: I mean if there's potential business -- what you're creating? It sounds like what we're creating, to what many of us have lived through up here, which are Super Fund sites and hazardous waste clean up. Is that a business that the current contractors actually have or can facilitate?

Rick Lamberth: Yes, ma'am. They have -- it's currently a contract line item number in the master statement of work. And what they'll do, they don't have the expertise in how, so they'll turn around and they'll contract it out. When I left July 2009, I left Baghdad, they had subcontracted that out to [**]. Yet when you talk to them, they act like they're resolved of all responsibility. And I tell them: "Negative, you are still responsible, you being the prime contractor, you're still responsible for compliance of EPA and DOD regulations and Defense Logistic Agencies regulations which is really in charge of DoD's Hazmat Defense Logistic Agency and they would want to deny that. They say 'No, [**] is doing that now.' I say 'No, you're still, you being the prime, you're still responsible.'

Senator Blanche Lincoln: Well of course that's a whole different issue I suppose in terms of spending our US tax payer dollars to clean up things that the same contractor actually created.

First, "[**]"? Epilogue or Echologue was what Lamberth was saying. I have no idea on subcontractors or whether the subcontractor would get 'fancy' with the name and spell it a different way. So we're just noting it as "[**]" Second, Lincoln went on to note that even more important than the dollars being wasted are the people who've been harmed by exposure.
BURN PITS Action Center is a resource and a clearing house of information. Among those sharing their experiences is "Debby:"


I arrived at Joint Base Balad, formerly known as Camp Anaconda in March 2008, and needless to say we all have the same issues as to what we smelled and what we saw. I have been home 11 months now and I want to make a statement about this issue. First off keep a good record of how your feeling. You may not notice anything at first. I started getting shortness of breath and just thought that it was the humidity in our air here in Indiana. I got a respiratory infection once I was home that turned into bronchitis. It took me OVER a month to clear that up. I had a cough from day one from leaving Iraq, and could not understand this or why I was doing this? Blamed it on the weather. My cough got so bad I contacted the VA and said this is not normal and I want to have my lungs tested...pulmonary function test was ordered...I failed it and found out I have COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). I now use an inhaler and my breathing is worse at night, because I wheeze now. I came home at the end of November by March I had another issue, my colon. I was 47 at the time and had to do a colonoscopy 3 years earlier than I should have. Found out I had polyps and a tear in my colon. It is now November and I cannot seem to understand why I have still a colon issue. Now my esophagus is a problem. I had another cold back a few months ago and lost my voice for 3 full weeks. I had bronchitis again. Could not shake it. I am scheduled for another colon scope since I have this issue and also to have my throat checked out. My esophagus is closing up and I may have to have it stretched back out. NO ONE in my family has ever had an issue like this. I blame this on the effects of the burn pit. My memory and forgetfulness is a REAL problem for me. I can't seem to remember anything. So I guess anyone's secrets are safe with me I would forget easily after a few days. I have other issues I just wanted to list a few. Take photos of the burn pits for your own personal records they would prove very helpful later on. Keep researching all that you can on this issue, there are long lists of what soldiers are reporting that is wrong with them. I have to write mine down or I will forget. Not that a person can but my memory won't allow me anymore to recall things like I once did. Life if going to be challenging and many of us may not live a full life due to our new found health issue. But from one soldier to all you others we fought a good battle and we should keep each other in our prayers. God Bless you all and keep up the good fight and take care of your health.


Back to the hearing, Dr. Szema compared what is being seen to the conditions of fire fighters who were at Ground Zero following 9-11. He noted that he sees young people whom he shouldn't be seeing including ones with asthma -- when asthma would prevent them from being inducted into the military and that even if a few managed to skirt by in the screening process, the rates of asthma shouldn't be as high as it is. We'll note this exchange from early in the hearing.

Chair Byron Dorgan: Dr. Szema, what's your assessment of what you've heard? You've not been in Iraq, you've not seen the burn pits, you've heard them described, you heard Mr. Lambert and Mr. Keith describe what was thrown into the burn pits. What's your assessment of what we might see as a result of this? Is this a potentially serious threat to human health of those who were exposed?

Dr. Szema: Originally, I didn't even know what a burn pit was. So we thought that the higher asthma rates that we were seeing anecdotally were related to the shamal, the dust storms in Iraq, and possibly exposure to inhalational particles of improvised explosive devices. And then we wrote -- we did our study indicating that the rates of asthma were twice that if you were an Iraq deployed versus stateside deployed. And only recently when I learned about the burn pits, I knew that that could potentially, plausibly be one of the explanations. We-we actually did have PM 2.5 data from CHPPM in one of our presentations at the American Thoracic Society Conference and the PM 2.5 levels were in the thousands. Just for an example, in comparison, the Environmental Protection Agency standards in the United States is 35 micrograms per cubic meter. If you're over 35 in the United States, that's air pollution and they were measuring it in the thousands and that's irrespective of what's actually the concentration so, in and of itself, there were clearly particles in the air. That was not included in the 2008 report, that was part of our poster presentation. So my concern is -- what -- you're not supposed to be burning anything. Even if you're burning wood in cooking, we know that in third world countries if we reduce the use of cook stoves and fires, we can reduce respiratory mortality by millions of people worldwide. And, in fact, the American Thoracic Society is coming out with a position statement that even in the United States, if we roll back the EPA pollution standards a little bit, we will save millions of lives in the United States from air pollution. So clearly, I think, when you have uncontrolled burns, there will be a litany of health effects


One more time, Rick Lamberth's statements on how greed was able to trump humanity, "KBR was able to get away with this because the Army never enforced the applicable standards. KBR's Project Controls Department also kept their information hidden. During one visit by a representative from DCMA. I heard someone from Project Controls state that it was her job to keep DCMA away from the books during the inspection. KBR Management would brag that they could get away with doing anything they wanted because the army could not function without them. KBR figured that even if they did get caught, they had already made more than enough money to pay any fines and still make a profit."

Iraq was addressed on NPR's
The Diane Rehm Show today during the second hour. Diane's guest host Katty Kay was joined by James Kitfield (National Journal), Paul Richter (Los Angeles Times) and Farah Stockman (Boston Globe).

Katty Kay: On the one hand we had the Iraqi Parliament which failed again this week to approve a law regulating its January election. Uh, Paul, do you think this election is going to take place?

Paul Richter: It sounds like it could be delayed but I notice some Iraqi legislators who are telling the press 'Well maybe it will only be delayed slightly. On the other hand, they've been debating this election law for some time and it has serious consequences for the US if they don't get this settled because, of course, the White House and the Pentagon are thinking about drawing-down those troops further. We need more in Afghanistan probably.

Katty Kay: And at the same time, we have Iraq signing deals to develop its oil fields. There was news this morning in the Washington Post [Ernesto Londono and Qais Mizher's "
Exxon-Shell Consortium signs deal to develop Iraqi oil field"] that Exxon and Shell are going to sign a deal with the Iraqi Oil Ministry as well. So sort of some good news on the economic front, perahps James?

James Kitfield: Some good news but you know the prob -- and why we're so in getting these elections behind Iraq -- is so they can then get back to the major issue of reconcilation that are outstanding and one is an oil law. You know, the K- you know, the Kurds are already signing deals, you know, independently of the central government. That's a potential fault line for divisions in Iraq.

Katty Kay: And, of course, the hitch behind signing the current election law is over --

James Kitfield: Kirkuk.

Katty Kay: Kirkuk which is a big oil --

James Kitfield: Right! There is concern among -- ever since Saddam has been ousted -- he had flooded Arabs into Kirkuk area. Since he's been ousted, a lot of the Kurds have been pushing more people into Kirkuk. There's concerns in that tension between the Arabs and the Kurds that the election will sort of uh give one side an advantage over the other and so that's been the sticking point. But I'll take Paul's point a little further, I suspect there's going to be a surge of some tens of thousands of troops to Afghanistan even though Obama hasn't announced that yet. I [su]spect he will. For that to happen, it really -- we have a very aggressive withdrawal from Iraq [. . .]

Okay, point. James Kitfield? Doesn't belong on radio. Potential? "POOOOOO -- tential!" As he stumbles and fumbles his damn words. It's difficult to listen to him. Forget what he's offering (which isn't informed), he can't speak a complete sentence without changing in the middle of it -- usually several times. Do they not get how hard on the ears this is? It's not just the uh-uh (and he does it far more than I note), that's fine. Stumble. Gather your thoughts. But speak the English language. Deciding mid-word that you want a different one? Over and over? I remember oral exams in grad school where highly nervous people came off more assured than Kitfield. It isn't pleasant to listen to and it doesn't make for good radio.

Now that's (A). (B)? Know your damn facts. He maintains (we're not including that section) there are 115,000 troops in Iraq currently. What? 128,000 was August 31st and that's the GAO's estimate that they provided on Monday. Unless someone's done a head count since then, an organization or an individual, that's your number. A friend in the brass in Iraq says the number is "about 123,000" right now. About. The problem with not going with the known is that an "about" X suddenly gets lowered by a James Kitfield. He pimped 115,000 US troops in Iraq. Pimped it today. On NPR and was not corrected. A gas bag with a lot of opinions and few facts is always a problem.

Katty Kay: Give us a quick update, Farah, on the security situation in Baghdad following, of course, last week's truck bombing. Have you heard anything on how security's been changed or boosted? Have they reinstated some of the barriers, for example, in the streets in the Green Zone?

Farah Stockman: I just think that we're hearing a lot of reports about bombings and it's not looking good and it's not looking good -- it's not looking good. But I think James might have a better on that than I do.

Oh, Farah. How you failed the listeners. Instead they got to hear James stumble around yet again and, in the process, pronounce "domestic" three different ways. That's what happens when you don't committ to a word until your half-way done speaking it. Get him off the radio. There's no excuse for this. People have been far too nice to him for far too long. It's not that he's an idiot -- he is one -- it's that he sounds like an idiot on the radio. If it's too difficult for him to speak, don't bring him on the radio. And grasp that as difficult as it is for him to figure out which words to randomnly string together, it's that much harder for the audience to have to listen to him. There's no excuse for that.



Bombings?

Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Mosul roadside bombing which claimed the life of 1 police officer and a second one which left five people wounded.

Shootings?

Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 1 Sahwa ("Awakening" or "Sons Of Iraq") shot dead last night in Kirkuk. Wang Guanqun (Xinua) reports an attack on a barber shop in al-Sa'adiya in which 1 barber was shot dead and another person was wounded.

Corpses?

Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 1 corpse (Peshmerga officer) discovered in Kirkuk last night.


Turning to the US, Frances and Jack Barrios were last noted in the
October 30th snapshot. Efforts have been taking place to deport Frances Barrios, the wife of Iraq War veteran Jack Barrios and the mother of their two children. Her 'crime'? Coming to the United States at six-years-old. Teresa Watanabe (Los Angeles Times) reports that yesterday the couple learned she was granted "humanitarian parole" and will be able to apply for a green card and remain in the country. Tony Valdez (Los Angeles' Fox 11 -- link has text and video) was present when Frances Barrios received the news:Tony Valdez: Frances Barrios looked mystified and anxious about her attorneys visit to her Van Nuys apartment in the evening. She usually went to Jessica Dominguez' office whenever there was a development in her bid to stay in the US with her husband and her children. What the attorney told her husband, an Iraq War veteran, was completely unexpected.Jessica Dominguez: The Citizenship and Immigration Services has granted your wife parole which means you can now give her legal permanent resident status without her having to go back to Guatemala.


Yesterday in Texas, there was an attack on Fort Hood.
Mary Pat Flaherty, William Wan and Christian Davenport (Washington Post) report that the suspect is US Army Maj Nidal M. Hasan, a 39-year-old psychiatrist whose aunt said he had endured mocking and verbal abuse over the years for being a Muslim and she states that he attempted to get out of the military. Peter Slevin (Washington Post) reported 12 people were killed at the base with thrity-one more left injured. The death toll has risen to at least 13. Julian E. Barnes, Josh Meyer and Kat Linthicum (Los Angeles Times) explain, "Ft. Hood, which sprawls across 339 square miles of central Texas hill country, is the world's largest military installation. It supports two full armored divisions -- the 1st Cavalry Division and the 4th Infantry Division -- and is home to more than 70,000 soldiers, civilian workers and family members. It is the largest single employer in Texas." Ann Scott Tyson (Washington Post) notes, "This year, 117 active-duty Army soldiers were reported to have committed suicide, with 81 of those cases confirmed -- up from 103 suicides during the same period last year. Ten suicides have been reported at Fort Hood this year; more than 75 of its personnel have committed suicide since 2003. Fort Hood's high number of suicides is also linked to the fact that it is the Army's largest base, with more than 53,000 soldiers." Dahr Jamail adds:
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Fort Hood, located in central Texas, is the largest US military base in the world and contains up to 50,000 soldiers. It is one of the most heavily deployed bases to both Iraq and Afghanistan. In fact, the shooter himself was facing an impending deployment to Iraq. The soldier says that the mood on the base is "very grim," and that even before this incident, troop morale has been very low. "I'd say it's at an all-time low - mostly because of Afghanistan now," he explained. "Nobody knows why we are at either place, and I believe the troops need to know why they are there, or we should pull out, and this is a unanimous feeling, even for folks who are pro-war." In a strikingly similar incident on May 11, 2009, a US soldier gunned down five fellow soldiers at a stress-counseling center at a US base in Baghdad. Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the US military's Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters at a news conference at the Pentagon that the shootings occurred in a place where "individuals were seeking help." "It does speak to me, though, about the need for us to redouble our efforts, the concern in terms of dealing with the stress," Admiral Mullen said. "It also speaks to the issue of multiple deployments." Commenting on that incident in nearly parallel terms, US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said that the Pentagon needs to redouble its efforts to relieve stress caused by repeated deployments in war zones; stress that is further exacerbated by limited time at home in between deployments.
Nancy A. Youssef (McClatchy Newspapers) informs the suspect was supposed to deploy to Afghanistan. Kelly Gooch (Tyler Morning Telegraph) reports on some families reactions as they attempted to find out the status on their loved ones at Fort Hood:Spc. Shawntae Hall, 22, is one of the soldiers stationed at the Army base.Her mother, Norma Tompkins, of Tyler, said she called Ms. Hall Thursday and left a message on her cell phone. She also tried all of her daughter's friends and a fellow military mother. "I kind of lost it for a few minutes. When I heard from her it was the biggest relief of my life," she said. During the short phone conversation, Mrs. Tompkins said Ms. Hall told her officials were about to lock down the base and she would not be able to use a cell phone or the Internet. Ann Davies (The Age) notes): that a female police officer "arrived and shot Hasan several times before he went down. She was wounded in the process." That was Sgt Kimberly Munley. Matthew Schofield (Kansas City Star) reports, "Muley also took three bullets, one in each thigh and one in a wrist. By all accounts, she was swift, decisive, and probably saved lives. It was a lucky thing she happened to be nearby when the emergency call came in. She found Hasan four minutes after the first 911 call." In addition, on NBC's Today Show this morning, Matt Lauer spoke with Lt Gen Robert Cone who praised Amber Bahr who assisted other soldiers including carrying one, Grant Moxon, away from the crime scene despite the fact that she herself had been shot: "I think most notable about her is the fact that despite the fact she was shot, she assisted in helping other soldiers, put a tourniquet on a solider, carried him out to medical care -- and only after she had taken care of others did she realize that she herself had been shot." Moni Basu (CNN -- link has text and several videos as well) offers, "Soldiers were dragging bodies away from the shooter. They snatched tablecloths off tables, cut up their own sage-green digital combat uniforms, even their tan undershirts, and turned them into tourniquets and pressure bandages. Everyone tried to render CPR and medical aid. Some were medical personnel. Others were simply friends helping friends." Among the 13 who lost their lives is Francheska Velez. Peter Slevin (Washington Post) reports the 21-year-old Iraq War veteran was set to begin maternity leave. Her cousin Jennifer Arzuaga tells CBS' Derrick Blakley, "She was a very wonderful person, very brave, very kind hearted. She didn't deserve to lose her life. She had a lot to live for." CBS reports Michael Pearson, who was set to deploy to Iraq, died while in surgery after being shot three times and quotes his mother Sheryll Pearson stating, "He was the best son in the whole world; good student, good friend, loyal, hardworker. He was my best friend. I was just shocked because I was getting ready for him, I was preparing for him to come home for Christmas and I knew he would probably be deployed in January and this was just amazing to me, it just doesn't seem real to me." Mark Memmott (NPR) reports on this morning's press briefing at Fort Hood:7:37 a.m. ET: The suspect's condition is "stable." Why was it originally said by Army personnel that suspect Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan was dead? "Confusion," says the briefer, Col. John Rossi.7:39 a.m. ET: One civilian was killed. The other fatally wounded victims were military personnel, Col. John Rossi says.7:40 a.m. ET: The soldiers at the scene were not armed. The "first responder" who wounded the suspect was a female police officer. She was wounded and is now in stable condition.

TV notes,
NOW on PBS begins airing on most PBS stations tonight (check local listings) and their focus this week is:Only one year after a historic election rerouted the course of America's political culture, do the 2009 election results show momentum swinging in the opposite direction?This week, NOW's David Brancaccio talks to political author and columnist David Sirota about populist anger, the Obama administration's successes and failures, and how this week's election results foreshadow the state of politics in 2010.Also airing tonight on many PBS stations, Bill Moyers Journal offers a veterans day special. Washington Week finds Gwen sitting around the table with James Barnes (National Journal), Ceci Connolly (Washington Post), John Harris (Politico) and Martha Raddatz (ABC News). Meanwhile Bonnie Erbe will sit down with Sam Bennett, Karen Czarnecki, Cari Dominguez and Avis Jones-DeWeever to discuss the week's events on PBS' To The Contrary. Check local listings, on many stations, it begins airing tonight. And turning to broadcast TV, Sunday CBS' 60 Minutes offers:
Cyber WarCould foreign hackers get into the computer systems that run crucial elements of the world's infrastructure, such as the power grids, water works or even a nation's military arsenal, to create havoc? They already have. Steve Kroft reports.
Andre AgassiKatie Couric interviews the tennis champion about his drug use, the depression that made him use methamphetamine and other aspects of his personal life and tennis career in his first interview about his upcoming book. (This is a double-length segment).
60 Minutes, this Sunday, Nov. 8, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.


iraq
kelly kennedy
nprthe diane rehm show
the washington postqais mizherernesto londono
mcclatchy newspaperssahar issa
the los angeles timesteresa watanabe
ann scott tyson mary pat flaherty william wan christian davenport peter slevin julian e. barnes josh meyer kate linthicum dahr jamail
ann daviescnnmoni basu
nancy a. youssef
matthew schofieldnprmark memmott
60 minutescbs newspbsto the contrarybonnie erbe

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Greenpeace, 40 years old



That's a Greenpeace photo and I wanted to use it because I'm blogging about the organization tonight. It is 40 years old this year. I wasn't aware of that. I knew Sesame Street was hitting the 40 year mark. Somehow Greenpeace hitting it at the same time makes a lot of sense because both are about investing in our future.

How did Greenpeace come to be?

Well it has an interesting story. I'm going to excerpt a portion of it and you can (PDF format warning) click here for the full essay by Barbara Stowe:

October 16th, 1970, 8 p.m. Night has fallen and it’s dark outside the Pacific
Coliseum, Vancouver’s largest concert arena, but inside all is bright and tinged with the adrenaline buzz of ten thousand ticket-holders. A pungent potpourri of
patchouli, sandalwood and Acapulco Gold is wafting through the stadium. My
mother, flanked by my fifteen-year-old brother and me, is sitting in the first row of
chairs lined up in front of the stage. Every seat has been taken, and those unwilling to sit in the stands are plunking themselves down in the aisles and on the floor in front of us, with scant resistance from volunteer ushers.
Shortly after eight the house lights dim and a raucous cheer erupts as Terry
David Mulligan, deejay of local rock station CKVN, saunters onstage. The whole
arena is humming, vibrating with anticipation. I slip off my chair and slide into the crush of bodies on the floor. A shiver of expectation shakes my whole body. Can this really, finally, be happening?
When my father said he was going to organize “a rock concert" I thought he’d
gone out of his mind. Dad had never organized a concert before, and the thought of my middle-aged father dealing with rock stars was just sad. Besides, it was absurd to think that anyone would play for free for an obscure little group which a local journalist had sniggeringly characterized as a handful of "eco-freaks and beardies."
“I’d like to introduce…Mr. Irving Stowe.”
Dad is a big man, nearly six foot, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen him stand so
tall. He’s wearing a long-sleeved, button-down Brooks Brothers shirt left over from
his trial lawyer days, which I’ve tie-dyed. The thick white Egyptian cotton took the
blue dye exceptionally well, and the cloth is streaked here and there with pale lines like trailing balloon strings. Shapes reminiscent of clouds hover here and there in clusters. It looks like he is wearing the sky.
“By coming here tonight you are making possible a trip for life and for peace.”
His resonant voice rings out into the cavernous space. “You are supporting the first Greenpeace project: sending a ship to Amchitka Island to try to stop the testing of hydrogen bombs there or anywhere!”
Applause explodes all around me, and I smile up at Dad, knowing he can’t see
me in that blaze of light, and then tears blur my vision and I can’t see anything
anymore.
It’s the proudest moment of my fourteen-year-old life.

That concert features the legendary Joni Mitchell and Phil Ochs. Joni's still with us making some amazing music. (I've been listening to For The Roses heavily lately, by the way.) Phil Ochs passed away. Joni brought her boyfriend along and he performed as well, little Jamie Taylor. You might have heard of him, sort of the 70s Pat Boone, re-doing R&B classics and turning them into bland little ditties ("How Sweet It Is," "Up On The Roof," etc.).

That concert is now, for a limited time, being offered on CD as a fundraiser for Greenpeace. It's from 1970 and you can find out about it here -- and while you're there, check out the concert photos. They are taking advance orders right now. (I'll do my order tomorrow or this weekend. But it's not payday for me till Friday.)

So it's an amazing chance to hear Joni and Phil in concert and to help out an organization that's been doing great work for forty years now.


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

Thursday, November 5, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, no election law continues, Nouri's attacks on the press continues, a US House Armed Services subcomittee's lack of interest in Iraq continues, and, of course, the war itself continues.
Earlier today Qassim Abdul-Zahra (AP) reports that Parliament finished today's session (Thursday's session) "without agreeing" to any election law. Nothing has been passed. Xiong Tong (Xinhua) reveals, "The Council of Representatives postponed the voting on the elections law to Saturday after the lawmakers agreed on a proposal submitted by the parliament's legal committee." Warren P. Stroble (McClatchy Newspapers) adds, "The standoff is jeopardizing plans for national elections in mid-January, as well as the timetable for an orderly drawdown of the 120,000 U.S. troops here, even as President Barack Obama weighs sending tens of thousands more soldiers and Marines to Afghanistan." I believe the only known count was given by the GAO Monday and that was 128,000. Considering that the press has been lazy asses for months now and tossed around the 120,000 INACCURATELY you'd think now that the GAO has presented a hard number, they'd get off their candy asses and try using the correct number. In addition, there's no "drawdown of the 120,000" -- the White House and press ran with 50,000 since the November 2008 election and we stated here the number would be 70,000. The number the White House uses now is 70,000. Gina Chon (Wall St. Journal) reports, "Lawmakers said they would meet again on Saturday, but big differences over the legislation remained. After a meeting Thursday evening, the country's election commission decided it would wait until Saturday to make a final decision on whether the polls should be delayed, commission chairman Faraj al-Haideri said. He added that even if a law is passed on Saturday, the commission could still recommend that the elections be delayed depending on which voting system the parliament ends up choosing." Oliver August (Times of London) explains that the Iraqi Constitution mandates the elections be held no later than January 31st and, in addition "[a]n important Shia religious holiday in early February makes it difficult to push back the poll by only a few weeks." Timothy Williams and Sa'ad Izzi (New York Times) report, "Hamdia al-Hussaini, a member of the Independent High Electoral Commission, the government agency that organizes elections here, said she would wait until Parliament met on Sunday to decide whether to postpone the election. Earlier in the week, Faraj al-Haideri, the head of the electoral commission, warned that if a law was not passed by Thursday, he would recommend a delay because there would be insufficient time to print ballots and perform other prepatory work." Sammy Ketz (AFP) quotes election commission head Faraj al-Haidari stating, "We can no longer organise elections on January 16 -- that would have been difficult even if we had received the law today. Whether they retain the old electoral law, amend it or adopt an entirely new one is a matter for members of parliament but we are the ones who will have to implement their decisions according to the timetable. We hope that MPs will resolve their dilemma but we are not going to sacrifice international norms and criteria -- we're obliged to respect the rules so that these elections are transparent." Iraqi MP Ayad Jamal Aldin wrote a letter to the editors of the Guardian on the issue of the elections:
I have written to the head of the UN expressing concern over the possibility of "free and fair" elections taking place in Iraq next January. Repeating the much-publicised vote-rigging seen in Afghanistan, since the last national Iraqi election in 2005, political factions have placed supporters on the Iraqi Electoral Commission to assist them in manipulating the result in the upcoming election. This self-interested action must be defused now, and I am calling on the UN to replace Iraq's Electoral Commission with fresh faces, unaligned and unbeholden to the factions in Baghdad. This could take place immediately, with no disruption to the political process, and would give the best possible chance of a fair vote in January.
A free, fair and properly supervised election in January is absolutely vital for our country's young democracy and the wider region. As has been witnessed in Afghanistan, failure to ensure a free vote is too damaging to imagine.

Ayad Jamal Aldin is running for re-election and promises, at his website, "A better life for Iraqi families" via three steps: "1 million new jobs, especially for our young, Make the electricity system work within 2 years, Major upgrades to deliver running water."
While the election's at a stand-still, the greed factor keeps corporations lusting Iraqi oil. David Gauvey Herbert (National Journal) notes the foreign monies being thrown at Iraqi oil in a long thing piece whose observations include: "Even with more investment, Iraq still doesn't have enough engineers or institutional experience. While Saudi Arabia has half a century of oil expertise under its belt, brain-drain robbed Iraq of plenty of talent under Saddam Hussein and scared off more talent during the turbulent aftermath of the 2003 invasion." This morning AFP reported that the Iraqi Oil Ministry announced today the awarding of a contract to Exxon Mobil for West Qurna 1 field: "West Qurna 1 currently produces about 279,000 bpd and has reserves of around 8.5 billion barrels, according to oil ministry figures." Liz Sly (Los Angeles Times) observes, "Major oil companies have been eyeing Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, but the Iraqi government has acted slowly to encourage them. That changed earlier this year as falling oil prices and lagging exports put a squeeze on the national budget. But the June auction fizzled after it emerged that Iraq wasn't willing to pay the fees demanded by the oil companies." Ernesto Londono and Qais Mizher (Washington Post) note the next auction is scheduled for December and that today's contract and the BP-CNPC one indicate "that foreign companies that initially balked at the terms the ministry offered at a public auction in June now think the prospect of eventually tapping into Iraq's vast oil reserves outweighs the risks." Away from the big dollar figures tossed around -- 'oh, so impressive' -- what's it like? Owen Fay (Al Jazeera) investigates (link is video, transcript to video follows):

Owen Fay: Children play on a street filled with sewage, live in homes surrounded by rubbish and grow up in villages displaying all of the signs of abject poverty. This is southern Iraq, just outside Basra and, by any measure, one of the wealthiest pieces of land on earth. Iraq has the world's third largest reserves of oil and the bulk of it is located right here. The government in Baghdad is in the middle of signing a series of deals with major oil companies from around the world worth billions and billions of dollars but people here have seen none of it.

Female Resident of Basra: We have not benefited from anything, we have nothing to show for it at all.

Own Fay: Instead, what they do have is widespread unemployment, intermittent electricity and wells filled with septic water.

Male Resident of Basra: Is this Iraq? This is an oil rich country? It is true that there is security now and that's much improved. Security is there but what's the use of that? It is true this is an oil country but as you can see can anyone live in this sewage water?

Owen Fay: Local government officials are circumspect about the major new deals being announced in Baghdad. They say they're not opposed to the oil companies coming here but they do have conditions.

Jabaar Amin (Head of Basra Provincial Council): If the contracts are beneficial to Iraq, we welcome them. If they subjugate us and take Iraq's oil wealth, we do not.

Owen Fay: Another set of oil auctions is due to take place next month. Big names like Exxon will get a chance to invest billions and right now assurances are being made that one of the conditions for any successful bid will be local and regional investment.

Shiltag Aboud (Governor of Basra): These companies will not only be contributing to the oil sector but will contribute to the economic, cultural and environmental situation in Basra too. They're not just going to be based at the fields far from everyday life. The impact on the city will be felt.

Owen Fay: If that does happen, it will be warmly welcomed but people here say they'll believe it when they see it. For now, they're deeply skeptical because as they look around what they see are international companies far more interested in what lies beneath this land than in the people who have to live on it. Owen Fay, Al Jazeera.
Friday's snapshot noted Nouri's latest attack on the press: "On the latter, Azzaman reports he has 'banned movement by press vehicles with equipment to broadcast live. [. . . ] The order has been issued by the military command of Baghdad operations which specificially denies television broadcasters the right of live coverage'." And it never ends. Martin Chulov (Guardian) reports today that there are "journalists cliaming to have been beaten by security forces and ministers issuing warnings about media coverage" while Farqu Abd al-Qadir, the Communications Minister, is insisting that all broadcast media apply for a $5,000 permit: "Observers say the move appears to have been prompted by official anger at recent coverage of a string of devastating bomb attacks on government ministries, which caused about 250 deaths and seriously eroded the government's security credentials." And the coverage may have hurt installed thug Nouri al-Maliki's chances at re-election. Meanwhile journalist Mohammed Jabar explains he was attempting to report on a bombing but instead was attacked by Iraqi forces who "attacked me with the butts of their rifles. They saw I had all the right badges and knew I was entitled to be there. They beat me till I was unconscious. I am sure they didn't behave like this on their own. It's obvious they have orders to block any coverage of explosions."
Turning to some of today's violence which did get coverage . . .
Bombings?
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing which wounded two people and another one which wounded three people, a Mosul roadside bombing which claimed the life of 1 police officer and wounded three more, a Ramadi sticky bombing which claimed the life of 1 police officer ("in the investigations department") and was followed by a second bombing which claimed 2 lives and wounded seven people, and a Kirkuk "assassination attempt" by roadside bombing on Brig Gen Adnan Khairu.
Shootings?
Reuters notes US and Kurdish forces killed 1 'suspect' and "freed three child hostages".
Today the Oversight and Ivenstigations Subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee held a hearing entitled Iraq and Afghanistan: Perspectives on US Strategy, Part II. It certainly lived up to Part I and, no, that wasn't a good thing. That October 22nd hearing was covered in the October 23rd snapshot and, as we asked then, "Where the hell was Iraq?"
Let's go with a big moment which raised no eyebrows. This is US House Rep Duncan Hunter (elected for the first time last year, fills his father's seat) opening remarks. He supports sending more troops to Afghanistan, just FYI.
Duncan Hunter: We're not at the ground floor of this debate anymore. We'we're kind of talking like we are. And my question, one is, we're over there, we're committed, we're on the 50th floor, so what now? And I don't think that our commanders over there are ignorant of anything you are saying. I think they all -- they all -- Do you think they're ignorant of this? I think that they have heard probably every point of view and-and the State Department involved -- I was stationed in Afghanistan for my third deployment in 2007. I just went back this last weekend, it was fun. The State Department involvement and the civilian and Smart Person involvement now with the military in Afghanistan is unprecedented. Never happened before. It's quintupled since July -- the State Department, US AID personnel. And there's a two-star civilian for every two-star military person there, there's a whole chain of command for the civilian side along with the military side, everybody's confident, they're asking for a troop surge, I mean that's what everybody's asking for. But my question is: So what now then? I mean they -- there's -- we're talking a lot, we're at the 50th floor, not the ground floor anymore. We're over there. We're committed. Dr. Khan might have us pull out but not on the basis that we can't win, on the basis that you don't think we'll stay
Muqtedar Khan: Yes.
Duncan Hunter: Right?
Muqtedar Khan: Yes, exactly.
Duncan Hunter: Okay. So what now. That's-that's all I got. And that's the big . . . What do you recommend if we do want it stable and we do want it so that we can leave in the next two to five years, leave it relatively stable, not abandon it totally and we'll probably leave troops there like we will in Iraq. But so what now?
Excuse me, "and we'll probably leave troops there like we will in Iraq"? I don't disgree with Hunter but there has been a big effort to deny that was planned. That statement should get attention but don't wait for the press to pick it up. The same press that sold you the illegal war on Iraq really isn't interested in that war ever ending -- as long as they don't have to cover it, they're hap-hap-happy.
There's another obvious moment that should be addressed. It's not Iraq related and Kat's grabbing it for her site and will write about it tonight. So let's move over to US House Rep Mike Coffman and whether he was attempting to spit on Jonathon M. Sylvestre's memory or if he was just damn stupid? We'll go with bulb nose being damn stupid -- and possibly the WC Fields like nose was a tip off? Two days ago, DoD announced: "Spc. Jonathon M. Sylvestre, 21, of Colorado Springs, Colo., died Nov. 2 in Kut, Iraq, of injuries sustained from a non-combat related incident. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 10th Field Artillery Regiment, 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Benning, Ga." Does he not matter to Coffman?
Because Coffman supports the continued war on Iraq? No, Coffman probably still supports that continued war, he supported it back when he could actually remember a war was going on there. But Coffman's lost interest in Iraq long, long ago. And it was disgusting to watch him do an exchange where he cited 'recent' deaths in Afghanistan from his home state and he didn't have a damn thing to say about Jonathon M. Sylvestre who, for the record, is Colorado's most recent service member to die in Iraq or Afghanistan. But Coffman wasn't interested in that. It should be noted US House Rep Susan Davis wasn't interested in Iraq either and our state, California, saw two deaths announced this week in Iraq; Lukas C. Hopper of Merced and Christopher M. Cooper of Oceanside.
The subcomittee heard from retired Maj Gen Paul Eaton, Professor Christine Fair (Georgetown), Professor Muqtedar Khan (University of Delaware) and Marin Strmecki (Smith Richardson Foundation). Eaton and Strmecki were aware of the Iraq War as evidenced by their opening remarks. In his opening remarks, Eaton noted speaking to US President Barack Obama over a year ago, being asked what the army wanted and replying, "Senator, we want your Secretary of Agriculture to be at least as interested in the outcome in Afghanistan and Iraq as is your Secretary of Defense." Does anyone get the idea that this interest is present in the Secretary of Agriculture? That's Tom Vilsack. And, just for example, click on this page (US Agricultural website) and note just what's been 'done' (covered) in 2009 compared to 2008. See an increase? No. And click here for archives and you'll see more efforts noted in every year of the Iraq War except 2004 and 2005. So where's the increase?

Wait, you're saying, Barack had all those problems getting qualified people (and a few tax cheats) confirmed, right?
Wrong. Not with Vilsack. He was nominated December 17, 2008 and he was confirmed by the US Senate January 20th -- the day Barack was sworn in as president. Vilsack did his swearing in January 21st. So let's not pretend like Vilsack showed up late. He was there from the first day of this administration.
Now Eaton told that story in his opening remarks. At any point did any member of the Subcommittee ever ask him, "Do you think what you asked for happened or is happening?" No. And no one ever explored it. Remember, it was about Iraq and the hearing, though including Iraq in the title, really wasn't interested in Iraq. Congress can vote, in 2002, some form of authorization or approval for an impending Iraq War they just don't seem able to focus on it while it continues. That seems to be the tricky part and may be why they've become so lousy about providing oversight on it?
(Or for that matter, pulling the plug on it.)
If there's an exception to that it's been the Senate Democratic Policy Committee. Tomorrow there will be another hearing held by them, this one looking into the burn pits:
Chairman Byron Dorgan (D-ND) announced Wednesday the Senate Democratic Policy Committee (DPC) will conduct a congressional oversight hearing on Friday, November 6, to examine the health risks associated with the continued use of open-air burn pits by the U.S. military and contractor KBR in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The hearing is set for 10:00 AM and will be held in Room 628 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington, DC.
Although military guidelines allow the use of burn pits to dispose of waste only in emergency situations, most large U.S. military installations have continued to use burn pits for years, despite growing evidence that exposure to burn pit smoke may be causing an increased incidence of chronic lung diseases, respiratory ailments, neurological disorders and cancer.
Hearing witnesses are expected to testify that plastics, paints, solvents, petroleum products, rubber, and medical waste have been burned in the pits.
The hearing will also examine whether military contractor KBR operated the burn pits in a safe and cost-effective manner.
Witnesses will include the Air Force's former Bioenvironemental Flight Commander at Joint Base Balad, who warned three years ago about health hazards associated with burn pit smoke at the base, two KBR whisteblowers, and a medical expert who will describe the adverse health consequences associated with burn pit smoke inhalation.
Details follow:
WHO: Senators: Byron Dorgan (D-ND), Chairman, and others
Witnesses: Lt. Colonel Darrin Curtis, former Air Force Bioenvironmental Flight Commander at Joint Base Balad; Rick Lamberth, former KBR employee; Russell Keith, former KBR medic; Dr. Anthony Szema, MD, expert on health impact of burn pit smoke.
WHAT: Congressional oversight hearing.
WHERE: Room 628 Dirksen Senate Office Building
WHEN: 10:00 AM, Friday, November 6, 2009
WHY: To examine the health impact of burn pit smoke on U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, whether the Army is providing exposed soldiers and veterans with accurate information about the risks, and whether contractor KBR is safely operating burn pits.
We'll try to cover that hearing in tomorrow's snapshot (but we're juggling our schedule because we only just learned of it). In other oversight news, Josh Rogin's "Exclusive: Did the U.S. government buy favorable coverage of Iraq's Anbar Province?" (Foreign Policy) reminds that a lot of money has gone into the sinkhole that is the illegal war and for a lot of questionable activities:

U.S. taxpayer money that was supposed to be used for emergency purposes in Iraq was spent to buy a special advertising issue for an Anbar businessman in a British trade magazine, a U.S. government investigation has found.
FDI magazine, a bimonthly print publication and website owned by the Financial Times, nearly simultaneously showered Anbar Governor Qasim Abid Muhammad Hammadi Al Fahadawi with positive coverage, praising the dangerous Anbar province as "a hot place to invest in" and giving the businessman an award as "Global Personality of the Year for 2009."
FDI's award was announced three days before the "Special Report" on Anbar, entitled, "Bridge to the Future," was published on its website. The award was immediately praised by the U.S. military in Iraq, without mention of the U.S. funds spent on the supplement, and the website makes no mention of it having been paid for by the American government. Then again last month, FDI magazine Editor Courtney Fingar handed the governor another award naming Anbar province one of FDI magazine's "standout regions of the year."
Reached by The Cable, Fingar confirmed the U.S. government had spent "in the neighborhood of $50,000" on the special supplement but denied her magazine's content had been bought and paid for, calling the report on Anbar "balanced and accurate."
The investigation was disclosed in the October quarterly report of the office of the Special Inspector General for Iraqi Reconstruction (SIGIR), which is tasked with monitoring U.S. expenditures and projects in Iraq, but has so far not been publicly reported. Sources told The Cable that after the report is submitted to Congress, it's up to that body to determine if the payment violated funding rules or the law.
It could playfully be argued that by performing this concert Joni Mitchell was the attending mid wife at the birth of Greenpeace. It is a fact, however, that the music on this CD has been donated and approved by the artists and their publishers for a limited period with all proceeds from sales going to Greenpeace in support of our work.
What is that? Joni Mitchell, Phil Ochs and James Taylor did a 1970 concert to benefit Greenpeace. Starting November 10th, the concert is out on CD for a limited time. Click here for more information. Joni Mitchell is, of course, a legendary, one of kind songwriter and artist. The late Phil Ochs left his mark with "I Ain't Marching Anymore," "Changes" and many others and James Taylor is the name of a man who was once married to the legendary artist Carly Simon and whose intense vanity was documented by both Joni and Carly ("watching your hairline recede my vain darling," as Joni put it in "Just Like This Train"). On the live album, Joni's songs include "For Free," "Woodstock," "Big Yellow Taxi," "My Old Man," "Cactus Tree," "The Gallery," "The Circle Game" and "A Case Of You." Phil Ochs contributions to the live album include "Changes," "Chords of Fame," "I'm Gonna Say It Now," "The Bells" and "I Ain't Marching Anymore." Not having yet begun doing vanilla covers of R&B classics, James offers "Fire and Rain," "Sweet Baby James" and a few other songs he wrote (James last recorded a batch of new songs he'd written on 2002's October Road). Carly Simon's latest album is a reimagining of some of her classics as well as two new songs and is entitled Never Been Gone (an amazing album, Kat praised it here). Yesterday, Carly was a guest on NPR's Soundcheck.
Finally, with Aimee Allison (co-host of KPFA's The Morning Show), David Solnit authored the must read Army Of None. David Solnit has now teamed up with his sister Rebecca Solnit, of Courage to Resist, for a new book and there's a new action.

Two things I'd like to tell you about:
ACTION: A Global Day of Action for Climate Justice on the ten year anniversary of Seattle WTO shutdown, Nov 30, 2009. Yesterday African delegates walked out of pre-Copenhagen trade talks in Barcelona demanding the US and rich countries commit themselves to deeper and faster greenhouse gas emission cuts and European activists blockaded the talks. The key fight over the future of the planet is taking place right now around climate; corporate market solutions are the new WTO and the US and the rich countries are undermining any efforts at climate solutions to avert even more catastrophic impacts. What could shift things right now is people in the US (doing what we did ten years ago) showing mass resistance to the US government and corporate capitalism's obstruction and false solutions. Please join one of the regional actions being planned in SF and around the US (details here soon) and sign up to take or support direct action and get your folks together now!

BOOK: AK Press asked me to make a book reflecting on the Seattle WTO shutdown from an organizers view. With my sister Rebecca Solnit, Kate and the AK Press collective workers, designer Jason Justice and contributions from fellow organizers we did it just in time for the ten year anniversary. Please support by buying a book , get ten at half-off, and pass on the announcement below.

hope and resistance, David Solnit
About the book:
From dawn to dusk on November 30, 1999, tens of thousands of people shut down the World Trade Organization meeting, facing cops firing tear gas and rubber bullets, the National Guard, and the suspension of civil liberties. An unexpected history was launched from the streets of Seattle, one in which popular power would matter as much as corporate power, in which economics assumed center-stage, and people began envisioning who else they could be and what else their economies and societies might look like.

The Battle of the Story of the Battle of Seattle explores how that history itself has become a battleground and how our perception of it shapes today's movements against corporate capitalism and for a better world. David Solnit recounts activist efforts to intervene in the Hollywood star-studded movie, Battle in Seattle, and pulls lessons from a decade ago for today. Rebecca Solnit writes of challenging mainstream misrepresentation of the Seattle protests and reflects on official history and popular power. Core organizer Chris Dixon tells the real story of what happened during those five days in the streets of Seattle.

Profusely illustrated, with a reprint of the original 1999 Direct Action Network's "Call to Action" broadsheet-- including key articles by Stephanie Guilloud, Chris Borte, and Chris Dixon -- and a powerful introduction from Anuradha Mittal, The Battle of the Story of the Battle of Seattle is a tribute to the scores of activists struggling for a better world around the globe. It's also a highly-charged attack on media mythmaking in all its forms, from Rebecca Solnit's battle with the New York Times to David Solnit's intervention in the Battle in Seattle film, and beyond. Every essay in this book sets the record straight about what really happened in Seattle, and more importantly why it happened. This is the real story.
For more on the book, including ordering it, click here and last night Ann noted the book and the importance of the issues the book is covering.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Battle for Seattle

Two things I'd like to tell you about:
ACTION: A Global Day of Action for Climate Justice on the ten year anniversary of Seattle WTO shutdown, Nov 30, 2009. Yesterday African delegates walked out of pre-Copenhagen trade talks in Barcelona demanding the US and rich countries commit themselves to deeper and faster greenhouse gas emission cuts and European activists blockaded the talks. The key fight over the future of the planet is taking place right now around climate; corporate market solutions are the new WTO and the US and the rich countries are undermining any efforts at climate solutions to avert even more catastrophic impacts. What could shift things right now is people in the US (doing what we did ten years ago) showing mass resistance to the US government and corporate capitalism's obstruction and false solutions. Please join one of the regional actions being planned in SF and around the US (details here soon) and sign up to take or support direct action and get your folks together now!

BOOK: AK Press asked me to make a book reflecting on the Seattle WTO shutdown from an organizers view. With my sister Rebecca Solnit, Kate and the AK Press collective workers, designer Jason Justice and contributions from fellow organizers we did it just in time for the ten year anniversary. Please support by buying a book , get ten at half-off, and pass on the announcement below.

hope and resistance, David Solnit

*** PLEASE POST, CIRCULATE & SHARE WITH OTHERS ***
To many mass movements in developing countries that had long been fighting lonely, isolated battles, Seattle was the first delightful sign that people in imperialist countries shared their anger and their vision of another kind of world.”—Arundhati Roy

AK Press is pleased to announce the release of a new book in honor of the tenth anniversary of the Seattle WTO protests: November 30, 2009


THE BATTLE OF THE STORY OF THE BATTLE OF SEATTLE
By David Solnit & Rebecca Solnit
with Anuradha Mittal, Chris Dixon, Stephanie Guilloud, and Chris Borte

From dawn to dusk on November 30, 1999, tens of thousands of people shut down the World Trade Organization meeting, facing cops firing tear gas and rubber bullets, the National Guard, and the suspension of civil liberties. An unexpected history was launched from the streets of Seattle, one in which popular power would matter as much as corporate power, in which economics assumed center-stage, and people began envisioning who else they could be and what else their economies and societies might look like.

The Battle of the Story of the Battle of Seattleexplores how that history itself has become a battleground and how our perception of it shapes today’s movements against corporate capitalism and for a better world. David Solnit recounts activist efforts to intervene in the Hollywood star-studded movie, Battle in Seattle, and pulls lessons from a decade ago for today. Rebecca Solnit writes of challenging mainstream misrepresentation of the Seattle protests and reflects on official history and popular power. Core organizer Chris Dixon tells the real story of what happened during those five days in the streets of Seattle.

Profusely illustrated, with a reprint of the original 1999 Direct Action Network’s “Call to Action” broadsheet—including key articles by Stephanie Guilloud, Chris Borte, and Chris Dixon—and a powerful introduction from Anuradha Mittal, The Battle of the Story of the Battle of Seattle is a tribute to the scores of activists struggling for a better world around the globe. It’s also a highly-charged attack on media mythmaking in all its forms, from Rebecca Solnit’s battle with the New York Times to David Solnit’s intervention in the Battle in Seattle film, and beyond. Every essay in this book sets the record straight about what really happened in Seattle, and more importantly why it happened. This is the real story.


David Solnit lived and organized in Seattle in 1999 with the Direct Action Network, a group co-initiated by the Art and Revolution Collective, of which he was a part. He has been a mass direct action organizer since the early ’80s, and in the ’90s became a puppeteer and arts organizer. He is the editor of Globalize Liberation: How to Uproot the System and Build a Better World and co-author with Aimee Allison ofArmy of None: Strategies to Counter Military Recruitment, End War and Build a Better World. He currently works as a carpenter in Oakland, California and organizes with Courage to Resist, supporting GI resisters, and with the Mobilization for Climate Justice West.


Rebecca Solnit is an activist, historian and writer who lives in San Francisco. Her twelfth book, A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities that Arise in Disaster, came out this fall. The previous eleven include 2007’s Storming the Gates of Paradise; A Field Guide to Getting Lost; Hope in the Dark: Untold Histories, Wild Possibilities;Wanderlust: A History of Walking;As Eve Said to the Serpent: On Landscape, Gender and Art; River of Shadows, Eadweard Muybridge and the Technological Wild West (for which she received a Guggenheim, the National Book Critics Circle Award in criticism, and the Lannan Literary Award). A contributing editor to Harper’s, she frequently writes for the political site Tomdispatch.com. She has worked on antinuclear, antiwar, environmental, indigenous land rights and human rights campaigns and movements over the years.

Available now in electronic galleys. Contact Kate Khatib (kate@akpress.org) to request a copy for review. Please consider scheduling articles to coincide with the tenth anniversary of the Seattle WTO protests on November 30, 2009.




SPECIAL OFFER FROM AK PRESS!

http://www.akpress.org/2008/items/battleofseattleakpress

The Battle of the Story of the Battle of Seattle
is now available for preorder at the AK Press website, and will ship in mid-November. Individuals can get a 25% discount on the cover price (a modest $12) by ordering in advance. If, however, you or your organization is interested in buying copies in bulk at a wholesale rate, to sell or give away at upcoming events or convergences, we have a special deal for you!


Order 10 or more copies of The Battle of the Story of the Battle of Seattle by November 20, and get 50% off the cover price. Books will be shipped to arrive by N30. (Orders must be prepaid, and are non-returnable, except in the case of damaged books. Shipping fees vary based on location.)

Email kate@akpress.org for more information or to place an order, or simply place your order for 10 or more copies on our website, note *Special 50% off deal* in the comments box during checkout, and we'll apply the 50% discount before we charge your card.


Questions? Emailkate@akpress.org, or call the warehouse at (510) 208-1700.

Battle of Seattle Cover

THE BATTLE OF THE STORY OF THE BATTLE OF SEATTLE

ISBN: 978-1-904859635

November 2009

5.5 X 8.5, 128 pages
$12.00
40+ B&W Illustrations

CURRENT EVENTS

AK Press


For more information or to request a review copy, please contact:

Kate Khatib
kate@akpress.org
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Please send any and all reviews to the
addresses above.


Common Ills' community members Shirley and Martha asked if I'd mind noting the above and it's not a problem at all. Happy to do so. Loved the last book David Solnit co-authored. Martha and Shirley do a yearly book article: "2008 in books (Martha & Shirley)" 2006, 2007 and 2005. They are both really excited about this book and I am as well.

For those too young to know, the 90s had some real movement and it looked like we might accomplish something. That included the protests in Seattle. That was like the culmination of the 90s.

And it looked like things could change as a result of the protests and the activism. I voted for Ralph Nader in 2000. Not because I hated Al Gore but because I believed in Ralph Nader. And what followed was all about ripping apart a movement.

First you had people blaming Nader (and his voters) for Al Gore not being in the White House. Maybe Al should have tried fighting? And maybe the Democratic Party shouldn't have assumed that just because I'm an African-American woman, they don't have to fight for my vote?

Bob Somerby really ticks me off when he starts blaming Ralph Nader for the Iraq War. Ralph Nader's not responsible. The ones responsible? Republicans with help from Democrats. Dems controlled the Senate in 2002 when that 'authorization' vote went through. Dems need to own their part of the blame.

But we were supposed to be frightened and never, ever not vote for a Dem again. And then came 9-11 and suddenly to criticize corporations was to criticize the ones who died on 9-11 or that's the lie they put out.

So this decade's really been a pathetic one with one rollback after another.

As the anniversary of Seattle approaches, maybe we can find some strength to press on and finally end these wars. Or else? As Carly Simon sings, "Some became disenchanted and some of us just got scared" ("Playing Possum").


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

Wednesday, November 4, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces deaths, the tag sale in Iraq continues, the Boston Globe's editorial board begs for the plug to be pulled on the paper, no Iraqi election law still, and more.
Today the US military announced: "Contingency Operating Base Speicher, Iraq -- A Multi-National Division -- North Soldier died Nov. 4 from combat related injuries. The name of the deceased is being withheld pending notification of next of kin and release by the Department of Defense. The names of service members are announced through the U.S. Department of Defense official website [. . .] The announcements are made on the Web site no earlier than 24 hours after notification of the service member's primary next of kin. The incident is under investigation." And they announced: "Contingency Operating Base Speicher, Iraq -- A Multi-National Division -- North Soldier died Nov. 4 from non-combat related injuries. The name of the deceased is being withheld pending notification of next of kin and release by the Department of Defense. [. . .] The incident is under investigation." The announcements bring the number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war to 4359. In addition, Reuters reported this morning that a Tuesday Baghdad mortar attack left 7 US service members injured.
As the toll of dead and wounded US service members continues to climb, US service members are still being sent to Iraq. The war has not ended just because so much of the press (and the Democratic Party) moved on (or MoveOn-ed). Sig Christenson (San Antonio Express-News) reports on some members Fort Sam Houston's 418th Medical Logistics Company soldiers preparing to deploy like Spc Justin Ralph whose wife Julie states, "It hasn't hit me yet. I've just been kind of stressed-out. I don't want him to leave. I've (tried) to talk him out of it, but he has to. He really wants to." Christenson observes, "They're headed to Iraq for the next year, marking the unit's third deployment there since the invasion, and they won't be the last to go. The Iraq war, contrary to popular opinion, isn't near over, and American troops won't be out until 2011 -- and maybe not for years after that."
Meanwhile Iran's Press TV informs, "Iraq has signed its biggest oil deal since the US 2003 invasion with Britain's BP and China's CNPC to develop the giant Rumaila oilfield. The 20-year contract is expected to triple production at the southern oilfield, from the current one million barrels per day (bpd) to around 2.8 million bpd within a six-year period." British Petroleum and China National Petroleum Company formed a consortium earlier this year during bidding on Iraqi oil fields and, unlike many other oil companies, they didn't bail out on the bidding right before it started. However, now other companies are rushing to get their hands on Iraqi oil despite the fact that the terms are the same ones so many foreign coporations found hard to swallow earlier this year. Stanley Reed (BusinessWeek) explains, "The big oil companies are reconsidering Iraq because they realize this may be among their last opportunities to get large volumes of crude. Britain's BP (BP), for instance, typically turns up its nose at anything below roughly 700 million barrels of reserves; Rumaila, about 30 miles west of Basra, may have 20 billion barrels of recoverable oil, BP estimates. Another field in the same class is West Qurna, located north of Basra, where a group including Exxon Mobil and Shell is competing against a partnership of ConocoPhillips and Russia's Lukoil (LKOH.RTS) for production rights." Meanwhile Khalid al-Ansary, Jack Kimball and Simon Jessop (Reuters) report that the country and Japan's Toyota Tsusho entered into a contract for "1.23 billion yen ($13.60 million)" for which Toyota Tshusho will sell Iraq "eight power transformers and six auxiliary units". But the really big 'growth industry' in Iraq?
Quil Lawrence: The cemetery is called the Valley of Peace though, for the living, it's crowded, dusty and almost always echoing with the sounds of grief. The tombs and crypts extend for miles in every direction, large enough that different Shi'ite political factions in Iraq have their own sectors spanning several city blocks. Family members sing prayers over the dead and spill water onto the new graves. As long as there have been funerals here, there has been an industry to receive the dead and their families. Dakhil Shakir has spent his eighty years here in the cemetery of Najaf, he says. His earliest memories are helping his father and his grandfather with the business of funerals and burials. Dakhil can count back his families five generations in the trade. He's nearly blind now and, despite his thick plastic glasses, he calls out to ask which of his sons are in the room with him? They will bury him some day, he says, and then carry on the business. When Dakhil was a boy, he recalls, desert caravans brought the dead to Najaf
Dakhil Shakir [translated]: They used to bring the dead on mules. A mule would carry two bodies with five mules in the caravan. I have seen that with my own eyes. They would stay here for a few days and we used to offer them a place to stay and, later, they would set off back home.
Quil Lawrence: As early as the 16th century, the trafficking of Shi'ite corpses from as far as India was big business. The Ottoman Empire taxed and regulated the trade as did the first governments of modern Iraq. The coffins came especially from Iran -- the majority Shi'ite state that shares hundreds of miles of border with Iraq.
And today smuggling corpses into Iraq continues as a smuggle Lawrence interviews explains the Iran-Iraq transportation continues and that there is considerable money to be made in the 'trade.'
As the corpse trade continues, so does the violence which creates ever more deaths.
Bombings?
Jenan Hussein (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad sticky bombing injured five people, a second Baghdad sticky bombing wounded seven, a Baghdad roadside bombing left four people injured and a Mahmoudiyah car bombing left four injured. Reuters notes a Baghdad home bombing which claimed the life of 1 police officer, his wife and their daughter. Xiong Tong (Xinhua) adds that the police officer was Col Shalal al-Zoubaie and reports an al-Miqdadiyah boming of a generator which left two people injured.
Shootings?
Jenan Hussein (McClatchy Newspapers) reports the US military shot dead 1 person in Mosul while arresting 'suspects' in a house raid. Xiong Tong (Xinhua) reports a Jurf al-Mileh shooting in which one person was injured by unknown assailants and a Diyala Province shooting in which 1 person was shot dead and two more were injured by unknown assailants.
Corpses?
Jenan Hussein (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 2 corpses were discovered in Mosul.
As the bombings continue, multiple reports have appeared in the last months about the 'bomb detectors' and how they're so very good at detecting perfume and cologne but worthless when it comes to bombs. At the end of October, an Iraqi correspondent for McClatchy was exploring the subject at Inside Iraq:

Before starting telling you what happens in most of the checkpoints you should know about the "explosives detectors". The device is carried by security man who stops your car and walk beside it carrying the device. The device's pointer changes its direction when passed by a car that supposedly carries explosives.
But the main flaw it points also if there is any chemical material like detergents or even medicine.


The correspondent also addresses a multitude of other problems with the checkpoints, but staying on the issue of the 'bomb detectors,' in this morning's New York Times, Rod Nordland reports the 'wands' cost anywhere betweeen $16,500 and $60,000 a piece and quotes US Lt Col Hal Bidlack dismissing them and stating they work "on the same principle as a Ouija board".
While the violence continues, there's still no election law. Today Alsumaria reports, "Iraq High Election Commission gave the parliament a timeline that ends on Thursday in order to enact an elections' law or else it will not be able to hold elections as it is scheduled on January 16. Chief of IHEC Faraj Al Haidari said that the commission and the UN discussed elections' timeline and stressed that if he did not receive the law in the two upcoming days the commission won't be able to hold the elections on the scheduled date." Gina Chon (Wall St. Journal) adds, "The election commission said if parliament doesn't approve a law by the end of Thursday, it will be impossible to hold the polls as scheduled on Jan. 16 because there won't be enough time to organize it. In meetings earlier this week, United Nations officials also told lawmakers if a law isn't passed by Thursday, the U.N. would urge postponement of the elections." The Iraqi Constitution mandates that the elections must be held before the end of January 2010; however, the Iraqi Constitution mandates many things -- such as resolving the issue of Kirkuk or appointing a full cabinet by X date or requiring Parliament's approval to extend a United Nations mandate -- and Nouri's always managed to just ignore it. Ernesto Londono and K.I. Ibrahim (Washington Post) report US Ambassador Chris Hill is scrambling on the ground in Iraq attempting to use his 'influence' to push for a vote. The US' own manic depressive ambassador has little-to-no influence especially if the press wants to continue pushing the-hold-up-is-Kirkuk line. Why is that? Hill offended the KRG with his very late first visit to their region. Chris Hill offended them in his remarks which were based on Hill's gross ignorance regarding the issue of Kirkuk -- ignorance on full display when the Senate held his confirmation hearing. Hill came to Iraq with no knowledge of the KRG or Iraq. He has no pull. US Vice President Joe Biden and the top commander US commander in Iraq Gen Ray Odierno have some pull (whether or not it's enough remains to be seen) with the KRG but Hill has none. He also has no influence over non-Kurdish MPs in the Parliament. So what's he's mainly doing is rushing around in an attempt to look busy. He'll no doubt (as has been his pattern throughout his time at the State Dept) find a group to spill the beans to on whatever's hidden and supposed to be hidden. They'll agree to present whatever he wants them to because he shared secrets and then they'll stab him in the back and he'll shrug and finger-point at others. In other words, his Korean 'leadership' all over again.
Biggest idiot of the week? The editorial board of the Boston Globe -- apparently begging for readers to pull the plug on the finacial crater that is their paper. In an appalling uninformed editorial they praise Nouri al-Maliki and conclude, "In their own nihilistic way, Al Qaeda fanatics are showing their true colors not only to Iraqis but to the rest of the Muslim world. They are massacring children and other innocents in the name of a holy war to replace all existing Arab and Muslim governments with the fantasy of a multinational Islamic caliphate. The less Americans are caught up in this war within the Muslim world, the harder it will be for the regressive forces of Al Qaeda to survive." al Qaeda in Mesopotamia is a home grown group and has always been a group of resistance. The Boston Globe was awfully silent when Steven D. Green and others were discovered to have gang-raped and murdered 14-year-old Abeer, murdered both her parents and murdered her five-year-old sister. The Boston Globe voiced no concern about the US soldiers making it appear the War Crimes were done by 'insurgents.' And the Boston Globe was silent as each soldier entered a plea of guilty except for Green who was a civilian when the crimes were exposed and was tried in civilian court. The Boston Globe couldn't be bothered with Steven D. Green's trial and, even after the verdict (or for that matter, the sentencing), couldn't say one damn word, NOT ONE DAMN WORD, about the War Crimes. So their selective efforts at playing editorial bully goes to the fact that they are the most ignorant and uninformed editorial board in the nation. Praise be to the Boston Globe, doing their part to demonstrate that struggling papers sometimes aren't worth the struggle to save them. It should also be noted that while condemning al Qaeda in Mesopotamia for violence that they have not claimed responsibility for (despite headlines, a splinter group claimed responsibility for the August and October Baghdad bombings that shocked so many, al Qaeda in Mesopotamia did not claim credit), they've refused to condemn their hero and crush Nouri al-Maliki strange choice of political bedfellows -- the ones who have claimed responsibility for invading the US base and killing 5 US soldiers, the ones who have claimed responsibility for kidnapping 5 British citizens -- 3 of whom are known dead, a fourth is assumed dead and the fifth is hoped to be alive (by the British government -- the fourth assumed dead is hoped to be alive by his friends and family but the British government has stated they assume he is dead). The Boston Globe has nothing to say about that and one wonders exactly when they got in the business of covering for those who murder US troops? Those are Nouri's friends. He got 'em released. He may have provided them with the Iraqi security forces uniforms they used in the attack on the US base and in the kidnapping of the 5 British citizens. He certainly provided the group's leader and the leader's brother with a pass out of a US prison this spring. The Boston Globe wasn't at all worried about and they continue to be a beacon for ignorance around the world. What a proud, proud moment.
While the Boston Globe tongue bathes Nouri (aka the new Saddam), UPI reports Nouri's latest planned assault: doing away with minority representation. The quota system for the cabinet exists because Iraq's a diverse country. But Nouri's never liked diversity, Nouri's a radical, fundamentailist Shi'ite who oversaw the genocide of the Sunni population because he loathes Ba'athists and sees every Sunni as a high ranking Ba'athist or at least as one of the big, scary people that forced coward Nouri to flee Iraq for decades until the US invaded and installed him as a 'leader.' Nouri really hates Ba'athists because they remind him all over again what a meek, little, sniveling coward he is. And that's why oversaw the genocide -- gladly oversaw. UPI notes the announcement by one of Nouri's political party (State of Law) spokespersons "brought a wave of criticism from Kurds, independents and Shiite members of the Iraqi National Alliance who complain Maliki is trying to take greater control of the government." UPI also reminds how Nouri's road to strongman has been littered with attacks on those who are supposed to provide security such as his December 2008 assault on the Interior Ministry whom he accused of plotting a coup -- a plan that never had any evidence to back it up then or since but did allow him to push out a Shi'ite rival -- and how his firings in August for 'security reasons' also can be seen as an attack on one of his rivals, Shi'ite Jawad al-Bolani. UPI notes of Nouri:
He has centralized power for himself to the extent that he has formed two paramilitary forces, the Baghdad Brigade -- also known as "the Dirty Squad" for its nocturnal sweeps arresting Maliki's critics, particularly Sunnis -- and the Counter-Terrorism Force. Both report directly to him.
Maliki has cemented his control over the nation's security forces by recruiting tribal militias funded by his office and seizing the power of appointing or dismissing army officers, bypassing the chief of staff who should have that authority.
In the eyes of many, this has transformed the army into a well-armed prime ministerial militia.
And for what? What is Iraq today? After nearly seven years of war, what is Iraq? The University of Pittsburg's Haider Hamoudi visits and shares impressions at The Daily Star:
Appealing as these examples may be, the role of religion must be greater in the view of the Najaf clerics concerning matters of law than merely as a voice of conscience on behalf of the people against the powerful. Are we truly to believe then that Najaf clerics are indifferent to potential reforms of the Personal Status Law that challenge existing religious doctrine, such as, for example, a ban on polygamy? Why did the Shiite Islamist parties who dominated the Constitutional Committee and who were close to Sistani fight so hard for a constitutional provision banning laws that violate the "certain rulings of Islam," which now appears in Article 2 of the Constitution? Is the fact that every woman within 50 miles of Najaf is covered by a headscarf and then a wide black cloak on top of that really just a matter of personal choice, exercised universally in precisely the same fashion, or does some form of public regulation (state law or otherwise) have something to do with it as well?
I put this point to another of the four grand ayatollahs, Mohammad Said al-Hakim, when the question was raised about the relationship of religion to law. We heard again the Najaf mantra. I asked specifically about Article 2 of the Iraqi Constitution and its requirement that law conform to particular certainties in Islam. He described this as a "separate issue," and when I suggested it might mean the marjaaiyya had a role in the legal apparatus of the state, he replied, "we have a role in the clarification of the religion (bayan al-din), not in the administration of the law."

This clarifies the position to some extent, in that it makes Najaf responsible for indicating what the religious position is, and then leaves to the legislator and the judge the determinations that the state is supposed to then make on the basis of Article 2. Even Najaf's commitment to this separation is fuzzy, in that its political allies in Baghdad have fought long and hard to ensure a place for "religious experts" on the Federal Supreme Court for Article 2 questions. In the Constitutional Review Committee, the Shiite Islamist parties have proposed an amendment that indicates that members of the court would be nominated by the "relevant bodies." It is hard to imagine that they did not imagine the marjaaiyya to be the "relevant body" responsible for nominating the religious experts, or at least that number of them who were going to be Shiite.
And that's what Iraq can offer . . . after non-stop war and the US installed puppets. Elections? The US had a few of them yesterday. For the New Jersey governor's race see Mike's post and also be sure to read Betty's which expands on some of the issues Mike touches on but sets aside the race. And for Iraq related coverage in the MSM? Turns out your best chance of discovering the Iraq War is still ongoing comes via "Hints From Heloise" (Washington Post) and not 'reporting' (which long ago lost interest in Iraq):


Dear Heloise: Our church group has decided to start sending baked goods as CARE PACKAGES to military personnel in Iraq. We brainstormed several ideas, such as shoe boxes, etc., but found that the best way to send a cake to anyone overseas is to bake the cake in a small, metal coffee can. After baking, remove the cake to cool. Then repack it in the can, put on the plastic lid the coffee came with and pack the can in a postal box. Soldiers tell us that they love getting cakes this way for two reasons:
1. The cake arrives in one piece
2. The cake can be stored easily, with an airtight lid, if it's not eaten all at once. -- Gwen, via e-mail

How wonderful to hear that your group is sending home-baked goodies to our troops! Nothing beats a treat from the heart and kitchen!
Your group deserves a big Heloise hug, and I know the troops who receive the goodies are appreciative, too.
I'd love to hear hints from other readers who send treats to troops. -- Heloise
Staying with reading, earlier this decade Aimee Allison, David Solnit authored the must read Army Of None. David Solnit has now teamed up with his sister Rebecca Solnit, of Courage to Resist, for a new book and there's a new action.
ACTION: A Global Day of Action for Climate Justice on the ten year anniversary of Seattle WTO shutdown, Nov 30, 2009. Yesterday African delegates walked out of pre-Copenhagen trade talks in Barcelona demanding the US and rich countries commit themselves to deeper and faster greenhouse gas emission cuts and European activists blockaded the talks. The key fight over the future of the planet is taking place right now around climate; corporate market solutions are the new WTO and the US and the rich countries are undermining any efforts at climate solutions to avert even more catastrophic impacts. What could shift things right now is people in the US (doing what we did ten years ago) showing mass resistance to the US government and corporate capitalism's obstruction and false solutions. Please join one of the regional actions being planned in SF and around the US (details here soon) and sign up to take or support direct action and get your folks together now!

BOOK: AK Press asked me to make a book reflecting on the Seattle WTO shutdown from an organizers view. With my sister Rebecca Solnit, Kate and the AK Press collective workers, designer Jason Justice and contributions from fellow organizers we did it just in time for the ten year anniversary. Please support by buying a book , get ten at half-off, and pass on the announcement below.
From dawn to dusk on November 30, 1999, tens of thousands of people shut down the World Trade Organization meeting, facing cops firing tear gas and rubber bullets, the National Guard, and the suspension of civil liberties. An unexpected history was launched from the streets of Seattle, one in which popular power would matter as much as corporate power, in which economics assumed center-stage, and people began envisioning who else they could be and what else their economies and societies might look like.

The Battle of the Story of the Battle of Seattleexplores how that history itself has become a battleground and how our perception of it shapes today's movements against corporate capitalism and for a better world. David Solnit recounts activist efforts to intervene in the Hollywood star-studded movie, Battle in Seattle, and pulls lessons from a decade ago for today. Rebecca Solnit writes of challenging mainstream misrepresentation of the Seattle protests and reflects on official history and popular power. Core organizer Chris Dixon tells the real story of what happened during those five days in the streets of Seattle.

Profusely illustrated, with a reprint of the original 1999 Direct Action Network's "Call to Action" broadsheet -- including key articles by Stephanie Guilloud, Chris Borte, and Chris Dixon -- and a powerful introduction from Anuradha Mittal, The Battle of the Story of the Battle of Seattle is a tribute to the scores of activists struggling for a better world around the globe. It's also a highly-charged attack on media mythmaking in all its forms, from Rebecca Solnit's battle with the New York Times to David Solnit's intervention in the Battle in Seattle film, and beyond. Every essay in this book sets the record straight about what really happened in Seattle, and more importantly why it happened. This is the real story.


David Solnit lived and organized in Seattle in 1999 with the Direct Action Network, a group co-initiated by the Art and Revolution Collective, of which he was a part. He has been a mass direct action organizer since the early '80s, and in the '90s became a puppeteer and arts organizer. He is the editor of Globalize Liberation: How to Uproot the System and Build a Better World and co-author with Aimee Allison ofArmy of None: Strategies to Counter Military Recruitment, End War and Build a Better World. He currently works as a carpenter in Oakland, California and organizes with Courage to Resist, supporting GI resisters, and with the Mobilization for Climate Justice West.
Rebecca Solnit is an activist, historian and writer who lives in San Francisco. Her twelfth book, A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities that Arise in Disaster, came out this fall. The previous eleven include 2007's Storming the Gates of Paradise; A Field Guide to Getting Lost; Hope in the Dark: Untold Histories, Wild Possibilities;Wanderlust: A History of Walking;As Eve Said to the Serpent: On Landscape, Gender and Art; River of Shadows, Eadweard Muybridge and the Technological Wild West (for which she received a Guggenheim, the National Book Critics Circle Award in criticism, and the Lannan Literary Award). A contributing editor to Harper's, she frequently writes for the political site Tomdispatch.com. She has worked on antinuclear, antiwar, environmental, indigenous land rights and human rights campaigns and movements over the years.
We'll note the book again tomorrow but right now we'll close with this from Sherwood Ross' "CHOMSKY SAYS PRESIDENT OBAMA CONTINUES BUSH POLICY TO CONTROL MIDDLE EAST OIL" (Veterans Today):

Political activist Noam Chomsky says that although President Obama views the Iraq invasion merely as "a mistake" or "strategic blunder," it is, in fact, a "major crime" designed to enable America to control the Middle East oil reserves.
"It's ("strategic blunder") probably what the German general staff was telling Hitler after Stalingrad," Chomsky quipped, referring to the big Nazi defeat by the Soviet army in 1943.
"There is basically no significant change in the fundamental traditional conception that if we can control Middle East energy resources, then we can control the world," he said.
In a lecture at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London Oct. 27th, Chomsky warned against expecting significant foreign policy changes from Obama, according to a report by Mamoon Alabbasi published on MWC News.net. Alabbasi is an editor at Middle East Online.
"As Obama came into office, (former Secretary of State) Condoleezza Rice predicted he would follow the policies of Bush's second term, and that is pretty much what happened, apart from a different rhetorical style," Chomsky said.

Chomsky said the U.S. operates under the "Mafia principle," explaining "the Godfather does not tolerate 'successful defiance" and must be stamped out "so that others understand that disobedience is not an option."
Despite pressure on the U.S. to withdraw from Iraq, Alabbasi reported, Chomsky said the U.S. continues to seek a long-term presence in the country and the huge U.S. embassy in Baghdad is to be expanded under Obama.

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