Friday, February 19, 2010

Terry Gross just wanted to talk about boobies

The bulk of Thursday's Fresh Air (NPR) was an interview with James Cameron who is nominated for Best Director (he's won once before for Titanic). Link has audio and transcript.
I'm going to start with what I think was the best exchange:

GROSS: Well, one more question: a lot of people have noted that your film is up against "The Hurt Locker" for an Oscar.

Mr. CAMERON: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.

GROSS: And "The Hurt Locker" was directed by Kathryn Bigelow who you were once married to. And I think she gave you a copy of the screenplay to look at even though you had long separated...

Mr. CAMERON: Yeah, yeah.

GROSS: ...because she wanted your opinion on it. So this is like a big media story that, you know, ex-spouses up against each other at Oscar. So what does that mean to you?

Mr. CAMERON: Well, I think it completely trivializes our relationship to reduce us to exes. You know, we were married for almost two years 20 years ago and since then weve been colleagues and collaborators and close friends for 20 years. And I've produced two of her films and, you know, I've always sort of, you know, steadfastly promoted her career as a director, you know, when I was actually acting as her producer and subsequently, not that she in recent years has really needed any help. She's, you know, definitely been well-established and the accolades that she's getting now, you know, in this awards season and the critical recognition and so on is for one, way overdue. For two, its such a great celebration of her accomplishments as a filmmaker that, you know, I'm the first one to cheer when she wins an award. For me its a win-win situation.

I like both films. I'm pulling for Bigelow though. It would be great if she could win Best Director. I love both films.

Both?

His latest film is Avatar. That is really something and you should make a trip to the movies if you haven't yet seen it. (The Hurt Locker is now on DVD so you can enjoy it at home.)

He pointed out that Avatar is an action movie and the lead character is physically disabled/challenged and that no one seems to point that out.

He spoke of working with Arnold and that just reminded me of how many films he's directed. Terminator, Terminator 2, The Abyss, Aliens, Titanic (all my favorites), True Lies and a host of others. I don't care for True Lies. I can enjoy Jamie Lee Curtis in it and she's just wonderful and funny and everything but that's about all I can really enjoy. That's not an anti-Arnold thing. I just don't care for the characters other than Jamie Lee (I don't care for the character of the daughter even).

And there's a hallmark to his films in that there is action and people pushing to the limits. But did you catch what I just said?

"People."

It's a point Terry Gross missed.

And someone needs to tell that woman, she's not sexy to us. Someone needs to tell her we don't need her trying to be sexy. There's really no excuse for this exchange (and you'll notice James Cameron doesn't have a lot to say when Terry's done jibber-jabbering):

GROSS: Let me tell you one of the first things that strikes me about the heroine. Now, in comics and in pulps, and I know you're big fans of those, the women were always curvaceous and buxom and, of course, scantily clad.

Mr.�CAMERON: Of course. That's a given.

GROSS: That's a given. Now, the heroine in "Avatar" is so skinny. I mean, all the characters are. All of the characters in this imaginary moon, they're all kind of elongated and very thin. So she's elongated and very thin with, like, little breasts.

(Soundbite of laughter)

GROSS: And scantily clad.

Mr.�CAMERON: Athletic breasts.

(Soundbite of laughter)

GROSS: Oh.

Mr.�CAMERON: Something that wouldn't be cumbersome when you're running through the forest rapidly in pursuit of your prey.

GROSS: So I'm wondering about that decision because I think that must say something. I'm not sure what it says, but I figure it must say something about people's expectations of sexuality or athleticism now and, like, you know, a female heroine and also what, I mean, a lot of action and fantasy films are directed at young males, and young males usually want to see that full-figured, buxom, you know.

Mr. CAMERON: Yeah, yeah. They don't...

GROSS: So talk to me a little bit about designing her and how that compares to, like the female sci-fi comic heroines you grew up with.

Mr.�CAMERON: Yeah, I mean, your typical comic heroine is, you know, is quite voluptuous. And, you know, I think, you know, we were just looking for something that was a little bit alien, you know, and so, you know, I use the example of, you know, Giocometti sculpture, you know, where you have these kind of vertically attenuated figures and then relating it back to some, you know, tribal cultures in Africa like the Masai, you know, herders who were very, very tall and lean and, you know, quite beautiful, and you could see they are muscular, very clearly defined.

Other than the fact that Terry wanted to talk about boobies, what was the point?

If you don't get it, you don't know the movies. With the exception of Conan The Barbarian, I'm having a hard time thinking of any female lead in a Cameron film that had big breasts other than Sigorney Weaver and Cameron directs Aliens. AlienS. Plural. It's the sequel to Alien. So Ripley (Sigorney's character) had to be in the film. (I love Ripley.) Linda Hamilton (Terminator and Terminator II) is not flat chested but she's not big boobed. Same with Jamie Lee Curtis. Same with Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio (The Abyss). Kate Winslet isn't Dolly Parton either.

So why did Terry ask the question? Because obviously she wanted to talk about boobies and she didn't know the first thing about the type of women Cameron casts in his films.



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


Friday, February 19, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, the election madness continues, no one is who they seem including Ahmed who's reportedly lined up a post-election deal, Gordon Brown tests the waters, and more.

Today on the second hour of NPR's
The Diane Rehm Show, Diane's guests were Karen DeYoung (Washington Post), James Kitfield (National Journal) and Moises Naim (Foreign Policy) and the topic of Iraq's upcoming elections (scheduled for March 7th) was addressed.

Diane Rehm: Alright and one of our listeners in Intervale, New Hampshire has a question about Iraq. She wants to know what is the current state of play regarding the upcoming March elections in Iraq? Were the 500 suspected Ba'athists candidates re-instated? Will they be permitted to run? Karen?Karen DeYoung: Well this started out -- the Iraqi elections are two Sundays from now. They are on the seventh of March, these are national elections, the first ones since Prime Minister al-Maliki was elected in 2005 [Parliamentary elections held December 2005], after a lot of horse trading among Iraqis [Nouri became Prime Minister in April 2006 after the US rejected the Parliament's choice of Ibrahim al-Jaafari]. I think for the United States this is a question of [coughs], excuse me, whether this democratic experiment is actually going to hold there, if they're going to progress to a sustainable democracy. The -- part of the new constitution which we helped put in place, which we put in place in Iraq, calls for de-Ba'athitication which is removing anyone who had anything to do with the party of Saddam Hussein. The people who control the de-Ba'athification process are considered to be very close to Iran which would like a strong Shia government in Iraq. And so they put out a list, to the surprise of everyone, that had more than 500 people on it who they charged had some kind of ties with the Ba'ath Party and were therefore ineligible to run for elections. These were all people who had been promoted by their parties. Most of them -- the majority Shia but because Sunnis are in the minority there, the number of Sunnis there was seen as a concern. It was seen as an effort to push the Sunnis out of contention. There were -- there was a lot of manuevring. The list has been whittled down to about 120 people. The Americans at least think that the crisis has passed. No one -- none of the major parties, including the Sunni parties, have said they will boycott the elections which was one of the big concerns. But I think everyone is sort of on tender hooks waiting to see if this is actually going to work.

Diane Rehm: James?

James Kitfield: One of the interesting little sidebars to this story is the person which is running the [Justice & Accountability] commission which is totally opaque -- no one understands what criteria is used to how close you are to the Ba'ath Party and what remaining ties you may have to the Ba'ath Party -- is Ahmed Chalabi. You know, we've been through this story before with this guy. He was put in charge of de-Ba'athification by the Bush administration and Paul Bremer. He did the same thing, trying to clear the field of Sunnis so he could -- his political rivals. It's not very helpful.

[. . .]


Diane Rehm: Let's go to Chris in Lincolon, Nebraska. Good morning to you.

Chris: Good morning to you, Diane, I'm a huge fan. I want to say your show makes me a more informed citizen and I can't think you enough.

Diane Rehm: I'm so glad, thank you.

Chris: My question is about James Kitfield's comment about Ahmed Chalabi still being involved in the Iraqi political system. I was just curious as to how much power this man still has considering his shady reputation?


Diane Rehm: It is a very good question, James Kitfield.

James Kitfield: Yeah, and if you -- if your viewer can get to the bottom of it, I'd love to hear about it. Because it's astounding to me. Clearly the Americans have been -- have been frustrated by this guy forever. He's got -- uh -- we had General [Ray] Odierno was in town this week, the chief US commander saying that he has close ties to Iran. They've tracked him going to Iran and meeting with senior officials. So clearly this is not a guy uh who has our interest in mind. But you have to believe he has some sway with Prime Minister [Nouri] al-Maliki otherwise he wouldn't be in this key position.

Karen DeYoung: You know Chris Hill who is the US Ambassador to Iraq has been here this week and made a lot of public statements and he was asked this several times. What is the -- what's the constituency that Ahmed Chalabi has? And he's described it as a sort of way at looking at how the United States needs to be a lot more humble about what it knows about the inner workings of the country. I mean, Ahmed Chalabi, was not only a favorite of the Bush administration and certainly of-of the US Defense Department, he was -- he was thought of as someone they wanted to put in as prime minister. And he ran the exile organizations here. He was sent there specifically. He was put in charge of this system in '03 and '04, when-when Paul Bremer was there. And so he clearly had a different agenda. And he's been acting on that agenda. And I think that, uh, the question I have had is is as the Iraqis in this electoral process denounce the United States for interfering -- and this is all part of its politics -- you don't hear much denunciation of Iran.

Meanwhile some Iraqi voters don't hear a great deal from the candidates supposedly wanting their votes.
Alsumaria TV reports that Sadr City residents are complaining that their candidates have not shown to campaign nor have they bothered to "address people's complaints" regarding sewage and garbage issues. Turning to the KRG, Delovan Barwari (Kurdish Herald) reports:In the last elections, nearly all of the Kurdish political parties, along with a number of Chaldo-Assyrian and Turkmen parties, entered the elections under a banner called the Democratic Patriotic Alliance of Kurdistan (DPAK). DPAK secured 53 of the 275 parliamentary seats, became a key player in Iraqi politics, and allowed Kurds to expand their political influence in Baghdad. As a result of DPAK's strong showing in the national parliamentary elections, Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) Secretary General Jalal Talabani, became the first Kurd in Iraq's history to become president of the country. However, the political atmosphere in Iraqi Kurdistan has changed quite significantly since then. A new opposition group, known simply as "Change" (or "Gorran" in Kurdish), has emerged in Iraqi Kurdistan as a strong political force. This new group is led by Jalal Talabani's former deputy, Newshirwan Mustafa. The Change List received enough votes to turn heads, winning the majority of votes in the Sulaymaniyah province and receiving nearly 25% of total votes in the Kurdistan region. Many analysts expect the Change List to have a strong showing in the upcoming Iraqi national elections and, as Kirkuk will also be voting, some believe that the Change List will receive an even greater share of Kurdish votes this time around. The new political reality in Kurdistan may weaken the Kurdish position in Baghdad as the fundamental source of Kurdish power has been previously fueled by the united stance of the various Kurdish political groups. Today, there are three major Kurdish political lists entering the Iraqi elections independently. The largest of the three remains the bloc led by the President of Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), Massoud Barzani, and the current Iraqi President Jalal Talabani (from the Kurdistan Democratic Party and the PUK, respectively), which will be joined once again by a number of smaller Kurdish political parties. The newly-emerged Change List will be the second largest political bloc that is comprised of a number of important players who formerly identified themselves with the PUK. Another noticeable political power is an alliance between the two Islamic parties in Kurdistan, the Islamic Group and the Islamic Union.Gorran is fueled by US funds and US interests. And it's turnout wasn't remarkable in the provincial elections -- and that's before you consider how many US dollars were poured into funding the 'grassroots' party. AFP reported yesterday that Goran was claiming that Jala Talabani's forces had shot three of their workers -- this was PUK accused, not related to Talabani being the president of Iraq.

On this week's
War News Radio from Swarthmore College (began airing today), Abdulla Mizead reported on one candidate running for Parliament.

Abdulla Mizead: Iraq remains among the world's most corrupt nations. In last year's edition of Transparency International Corruption Perception Index, Iraq was the fifth most corrupt countries. No one knows more about this problem than Moussa Faraj. He was head of Iraq's Public Integrity Commission until mid-2008, urging Iraqis to get in the business of fighting corruption.

Moussa Faraj: I was the first Iraqi to call for fighting corruption. I joined the anti-corruption committee at the governing council where we drafted the two laws that formed the Public Integrity Commission and the Ministry Inspector Generals. And, in 2004, I was Inspector General for the Ministry of Public Works.

Abdulla Mizead: Though he was considered the country's best Inspector General, several ministers were displeased with is decency. He got moved from one ministry to the other. He says it was hard to stay in one position for more than two months. But when he finally made it to the top of the Integrity Commission, he was overwhelemd by the size of financial and administrative corruption.

Moussa Faraj: When I was the head of the Public Integrity Commission, I said corruption in Iraq was different from any other corruption anywhere else in the world. Why? Because corruption elsewhere is limited to bribery and money laundering and it doesn't exceed millions of dollars a year.

Abdulla Mizead: But in Iraq, he says it's much more complicated.

Moussa Faraj: I warned of the legitimate corruption in Iraq. It's the most dangerous corruption in the world. Government officials and law makers make laws that steal public money. They protect themselves with the law because they know they can't be tried. Courts only go after illegitimate acts.

Abdulla Mizead: He says the political situation after 2003 was mainly to blame for the increase in levels of corruption.

Moussa Faraj: Why is there corruption? First, the failures in government performence. Appointing ministers and high officials in the state who lack academic qualifications or have fraudulent certificates, lack expertise and are loyal to their parties rather than the people. Parliament members are loyal to their parties. They take the Constitutional oath to serve the interest of the Iraqi people but instead they serve the head of their bloc in Parliament.

Things are never simple in Iraq. For background on Faraj,
September 7, 2007, David Corn (The Nation) reported on the attacks on Radhi al-Radhi which led him to be replaced on Iraq's Commission on Public Integrity:

Regardless of the legality of Rahdi's ouster, Moussa Faraj, who has been named for Radhi's replacement, is an odd pick for the job. He was once a deputy at the CPI -- having been installed at the commission by the ruling Shia Alliance Party. Accodring to the secret U.S. embassy report on corruption, Faraj regularly posecuted and delayed cases on "sectarian bases." Worse, the report notes that Faraj, a political ally of Sabah al-Saidi (the Parliament leader who has assailed Radhi), once "allowed a Shia Alliance member [charged in a multi-million-dollar corruption case] to escape custody." And after Faraj was dismissed from the CPI, the report says, he stole "literally a car load of case files." An arrest warrant was issued for hi.
Several weeks ago, accordign to Radhi and his investigators, Faraj was arrested, placed in prison, and subsequently released on bail. "How can he be in jail and then be head of the integrity commission?" Radhi asks. Putting the CPI in Faraj's hands, Radhi says, will allow Maliki's office and Saidi to control its actions and prevent the commission from conducting investigations that inconvenience them and their political confederates. It will mean, he claims, the end of any meaninful anticorruption effort in Iraq.

In testimony to the Senate Democratic Policy Committee May 13, 2008, James F. Mattil stated, "After Judge Radhi resigned, the Prime Minister appointed a new acting CPI commissioner, Moussa Faraj, who three weeks earlier had been arrested and jailed on corruption charges. Faraj was out on bail and had yet to appear in court when he was appointed commission of Iraq's lead anti-corruption agency." [PDF format warning,
click here for his remarks.] Meanwhile, Layla Anwar (An Arab Woman Blues) surveys the scene and doesn't see anything to inspire:

Who are these people and where are they leading us ? Every sane Iraqi must ask himself/herself this question. Where the f**k are you ? Have you disappeared in the ether, in communion with the dead or are you patiently waiting for your turn to finally join them -- your easy way out, since the only thing they promised you -- your liberators and your idols, is death... They guaranteed you death, and now you just wait for it, like a terminally ill patient in a doctor's waiting room. He knows he's on his final way out, but he still pays his weekly visit... How did my world shrink to turbans and robes...to charlatans and quacks, to a vicious authoritarianism that has suck up every God notion from my vocabulary..did my soul die in this tunnel ?..the idea itself is more murderous than a physical death... We are the soul zombies of the new world order...the soul zombies of the new Middle East...


Khairallah Khairallah (Middle East Online) offers a take on the state of Iraq:

Perhaps the only meaningful statement in the testimony of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair in front of a committee investigating the war on Iraq, is the one that disclosed that the US wanted in 2003 the elimination of Saddam Hussein's family-Baathist regime. All Blair did, to summarize his testimony before the committee, is become 'convinced' of the viewpoint of the Americans and practically comply with their desires that see the justifications for war as not important as long as the aim is set in advance.
There was indeed a justification to get rid of a regime that plunged Iraq into three devasting wars. The first with Iran, the second with the international community after committing the crime of invading Kuwait and the third with the United States and its allies, who in 2003 found the right opportunity to finish off an important Arab state and turn it into a state with a lost identity. Saddam's regime did not cause the third war, but did everything to facilitate it; starting by ignoring the regional and international realities to the extreme and its lack of knowledge of the importance of the balance of power in relations between states. All of the justifications put forward by Blair to justify war that are meaningful and are not based on facts or legitmacy. This is why Clare Short, who was a cabinet minister in his government at the time, was pushed to describe him as 'a liar' in her statement a few days abuot the circumstances of Britain's decision to participate in the war on Iraq.
[. . .]
In 2010, targeting political parties was done in the same manner of Ba'ath. The Ba'ath's Revolutionary Commanding Council in March 1980 passed a law on the "prohibition" of Dawa party of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. Perhaps the difference is that the there are no mass executions these days, especially since the US military is still present in its bases inside Iraq. The case becomes to retaliate against a vulnerable person here or there, who has no clan protected like Mr. Tariq Aziz, whose only fault was to be a Christian and he responded early to Iran, which tried to assassinate him in 1980 before the start of the war between the two countries as a symbol of a particular regime that allows him to be a Christian and a minister. That the treatment of Tariq Aziz in prison, especially after suffering a stroke and was taken to a US hospital, does not bode well. It indicates a malicious manner in dealing with a man who did not have any power at decision-making levels, as a desire for revenge Saddam's way, no more.

Tony Blair and Clare Short gave their testimony to the Iraq Inquiry in public hearings. The Inquiry, chaired by John Chilcot, is currently in recess but Gordon Brown, the current Prime Minister of England, will appear before the Iraq Inquiry shortly (
the date has not been publicly released yet). Eddie Barners (The Scotsman) reports:Speaking to Tribune magazine, the Prime Minister declared that the real issue had not been the danger of Saddam's weapons of mass destruction, but the dictator's failure to comply with UN resolutions that demanded he provide full disclosure to weapons inspectors. This, said Brown, was the reason Britain and America were right to send in the troops. Mr Brown's words represent a marked change from the government's main rationale for military action in 2003, when it asked MPs to support invasion. The motion, voted on by MPs, declared first and foremost that the UK should send in troops "to ensure the disarmament of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction".The comments ring more than a little hollow since Tony Blair sold the illegal war to England with the claims of WMD (specifically, that Iraq could strike the UK with WMD within 45 minutes). Brown may realize how hollow it sounds and may be attempting to publicly craft his testimony -- to test it out before appearing. He's enough trouble in terms of holding onto power and he really can't afford public ridicule but that's all his current idiotic statements invite. It may not be too late for him to save Labour's election chances by announcing his resignation as Prime Minister. In England, there are many experts on the Inquiry who have followed it and written of it at length. Near the top of anyone's list should be Chris Ames who has covered it for the Guardian (the Inquiry itself -- he's covered the issues for The New Statesman, the Guardian and many others) and who runs Iraq Inquiry Digest. In a post today, he notes:


In the light of Gordon Brown indicating (as in
this piece yesterday) that he intends to tell the Inquiry that it was "Saddam Hussein's failure to comply with international demands on disclosure that persuaded him that action was necessary", I think it will be necessary to analyse this position on the basis of clear evidence.

[. . .]

This, admittedly, is a brief and simplistic pen-portrait of the situation. I have to admit that these issues are by no means my strong point. So, as I say, this is an open invitation to readers and contributors to provide information as to the extent to which Iraq complied or failed to comply with UNSCR 1441. I would particularly welcome contributions from readers and contributors who believe that there was significant non-compliance and can point to it. My intention would be to make the issue the subject of a new question page.

Again, Chris Ames would be at the top of any list of experts on this topic. Others wouldn't be and for those who have e-mailed since mid-week, yes,
Ava and I will be covering that dabbler at Third.

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

Bombings?

Reuters reports a Kirkuk roadside bombing injured one person and, dropping back to last night.

Shootings?

Reuters reports 1 police officer shot dead in Tal Afar and, dropping back to last night, 1 man shot dead in Mosul.

The violence continues because the Iraq War continues -- albiet under 'new management' (Barack Obama) and apparently with a new name.
Last night Jake Tapper (ABC News) broke the story that the Iraq War will drop Operation Iraqi Freedom and go by the name Operation New Dawn. US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates wrote a memo to CENTCOM's Gen David Petraeus and copied it to Adm Mike Mullen, the Chair of the Joint-Chiefs. [PDF format warning] ABC has posted the memo:MEMORANDUM FOR THE COMMANDER, U.S. CENTRAL COMMAND SUBJECT: Request to Change the Name of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM to Operation NEW DAWN The requested operation name change is approved to take effect 1 September 2010, coinciding with the change of mission for U.S. forces in Iraq. Aligning the name change with the change of mission sends a strong signal that Operation IRAQI FREEDOM has ended and our forces are operating under a new mission. It also presents opportunities to synchronize strategic communication initiatives, reinforce our commitment to honor the Security Agreement, and recognize our evolving relationship with the Government of Iraq. Jake Tapper notes objection to the name change (or the attempt to pretend something's changed) by Brian Wise speaking on behalf of Military Families United. He also notes that "Operation New Dawn" was used for the fall 2004 assault on Falluja. Greg Jaffe (Washington Post) adds, "Since U.S. forces charged across the Kuwaiti border toward Baghdad in 2003, the war has been known as Operation Iraqi Freedom. The new name is scheduled to take effect in September, when U.S. troop levels are supposed to drop to about 50,000." But that wasn't always it's name, now was it? It was Operation Iraqi Liberation at first. Then it became a joke on the White House because the acronym for Operation Iraqi Liberation is "OIL."That name was used. For those who doubt it, here's the opening statement of the White House press briefing on March 23, 2003 by Ari Fleischer. MR. FLEISCHER: Good afternoon. Let me give you a report on the President's day. The President this morning has spoken with three foreign leaders. He began with Prime Minister Blair, where the two discussed the ongoing aspects of Operation Iraqi liberation. The President also spoke with President Putin to discuss the situation involving Iraq. They discussed cooperation on humanitarian issues. They both reiterated their strong support for the U.S.-Russia partnership, and agreed to continue, despite the differences that the two have over Iraq. And the two also discussed the United States' concerns, which President Bush discussed, involving prohibited hardware that has been transferred from Russian companies to Iraq. Following the call, the President also spoke with Prime Minister Aznar of Spain. All the name change is another wave of Operation Happy Talk. Since the illegal war began, the ones running it have tried to trick you -- usually with the help of a very compliant press.There is no peace in Iraq but at a time when US reporters seem unable or unwilling to write about the upcoming elections (we'll come back to that), they could be exploring other topics. For example, David Macary (CounterPunch) explores unionizing in Iraq:

Approximately 70-percent of the Iraqi economy is state-owned. And because it wasn't until recently that it even became legal to unionize public sector workers, the overwhelming majority of the workforce still remains non-union (as it is in the U.S.). It will be an uphill battle tapping into that sector. Still, even with those obstacles facing them, Iraq's unions are on the ascendancy.
The original IFTU, formed in May of 2003, was and remains affiliated with the Iraqi Communist Party (founded in 1934), and under its new name the GFIW is the only "officially recognized" labor group in the country. The other two organizations are the Federation of Workers Councils and Unions in Iraq (FWCUI) and the Federation of Oil Unions in Iraq (FOUI)--more or less competitors of the GFIW. All three federations have ties with the Iraqi Communist Party.
The tendency to view Iraq (or any Moslem country, for that matter) as a religious-cultural monolith is set on its head by the presence of an active communist party. Yet, given communism's ideological underpinnings (i.e., atheistic dialectical materialism), the notion of doctrinaire Iraqi Marxists capering in the desert with twitchy Islamic fundamentalists is stubbornly counterintuitive.
But counterintuitive or not, it's true. Secular Iraq has had a significant communist influence since the 1940s, manifested by peasant uprisings, organizing drives, and the progressive leadership of the ultra-nationalist but "benign autocrat," Abdul Karim Qasim, who, in 1958, abolished the monarchy and became Iraq's first prime minister. One of Qasim's first acts was repealing the official ban on the communist party. Had Qasim not been overthrown by the Baathists, there's no telling how strong labor could have become.

And we're back to elections. I don't think it was in the snapshot yesterday but I'm dictating this quickly and three e-mails swear it was. (I believe I wrote it in an entry I typed, not yesterday's snapshot.) I had written something to the effect of the US had walked away from the elections. That seems a puzzler to some. Elections will be held in two weeks and where is the US Ambassador to Iraq? Helping in any way in Iraq? No. He's in the US. That doesn't strike you as strange? Really? Joe Biden flew in and did what he could and the push back against it was too extreme and there's the fact that Hill's not qualified for his job. So the US is walking away from the elections and saying things like, 'It's fine now.' No, it's not fine. And that will probably become very clear in the battle that follows the election and if French 'gossip'/intelligence is correct, that's when Nouri learns that buddy and pal Ahmed Chalabi cut a deal to become the next Prime Minister -- a deal that Nouri's 'friends' in Tehran not only support but helped orchestrate. If French 'gossip'/intelligence is correct.
Back to England, Danny Fitzimons is an Iraq War veteran and suffers from PTSD. In August 2009, he went back to Iraq as an employee of AmrourGroup Inc and is charged in the August 9th shooting deaths of Darren Hoare (Australian contractor), and Paul McGuigan (British contractor) and in the wounding of Iraqi Arkhan Madhi.
BBC News reports that his father and step-mother continue to work on getting Danny's trial move to the United Kingdom and quotes Liz Fitsimons stating, "Imagine if it was your son or brother who was facing a death penalty. We are setting our hopes on Danny getting a fair trial, a sentence and he is brought back here." AP reports he was in an Iraqi court yesterday and informed that he needed to appear again April 7th. (To be clear, Danny is being held in an Iraqi prison. He's not wandering through the Green Zone.) Yesterday, Amnesty International issued the following:Responding to news that Danny Fitzsimons' trial on murder charges in Iraq has been delayed until April, Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said:"We've always said that it's right that private military and security contractors are held fully responsible for any alleged wrongdoing when they're working in places like Iraq, but we're seriously concerned about this case."Iraq has a dreadful record of unfair capital trials and there is a real danger of Danny Fitzsimons being sentenced to death after a shoddy judicial process."At the very least we want to see the Iraqi authorities ruling out capital punishment in his case."Iraq is one of the biggest users of the death penalty in the world and Amnesty recently revealed that Iraq is preparing to execute approximately 900 prisoners, including 17 women.The 900-plus prisoners have exhausted all their appeals and their death sentences are said to have been ratified by the Presidential Council, meaning that they could be executed at any time. The condemned prisoners have been convicted of offences such as murder and kidnapping, but many are thought to have been sentenced after unfair trials.There is a petition on Facebook calling for Danny to be tried in the United Kingdom and not in England. Reprieve is raising funds for Danny's defense.


TV notes.
NOW on PBS begins airing Friday on most PBS stations (check local listings):
From the raucous tea party rallies to the painful sacrifices familiesare making behind closed doors, voter angst and anger are sweeping thecountry like a storm. Directly in its path: the 2010 midterm elections.On February 19 at 8:30 pm (check local listings), NOW examines thestrong impact this groundswell has already had on electoral politics,and what we can expect in November. Our investigation uncovers whatmotivates people who've come together under the tea party banner, and how a larger dissatisfaction among voters spells trouble for incumbentsin both parties, some of whom have decided to avert the storm by leaving Congress altogether.Staying with TV notes,
Washington Week begins airing on many PBS stations tonight (and throughout the weekend, check local listings) and joining Gwen around the table this week are Gloria Borger (CNN), Jackie Calmes (New York Times), Eamon Javers (Politico) and Alexis Simendinger (National Journal). Two things on Washington Week, first a PBS friend asked me to note that the website has been redesigned again and that they will be featuring many moments of past moments where the show weighed in on historic moments. (Ronald Reagan being sworn in -- the roundtable on that -- is currently offered.) So be sure to check out the website and it's new look and design (and remember the new show won't be posted online until Monday afternoon -- however, if you podcast, you will be able to download it no later than Saturday). Second, look at the line up. It would be great to say that they've had three female guests and one male guest many times before. They haven't. They have, however, had three male to one female. I've repeatedly stated that the chat & chew shows book like 'hot' radio programmed well into the 80s -- limiting women. (As late as 1985, Whitney Houston and other women suffered because many radio stations refused to play two women in a row. They'd play whole blocks of songs with male vocals but they just knew, JUST KNEW, two women in a row would run off listeners. Turns out it wasn't the listeners that were running scared, it was the programmers.) Meanwhile Bonnie Erbe will sit down with Bernadine Healy, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Nicole Kurakowa and Irene Natividad 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:
Blackwater 61"Blackwater 61" is the call sign of a plane flown by the embattled government contractor Blackwater that crashed into a mountain in Afghanistan killing all onboard. The widow of one of the soldiers killed - a pilot herself - says the firm was negligent in the way it operated the flight. Steve Kroft reports.
The Bloom BoxLarge corporations in California have been secretly testing a new device that can generate power on the spot, without being connected to the electric grid. They're saying it's efficient, clean, and saves them money. Will we have one in every home someday? Lesley Stahl reports.
Ground ZeroIt's been eight years since the attack on the World Trade Center and billions of dollars have been spent, yet none of the promised buildings and memorial has been completed in what its developer calls "a national disgrace." Scott Pelley reports. |
Watch Video
60 Minutes, Sunday, Feb. 21, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

Lastly, and sorry that it's "lastly," Trina's "
Operation Bottom Dollar" Wednesday reported on the FTA news conference Jess gave a heads up to with "Consumer scams (Jess)" on Sunday.

iraq
nprthe diane rehm show
karen deyoungthe washington post
jake tapper
the scotsmaneddie barnesamnesty internationalbbc news
the kurdish heralddelovan barwarialsumaria tv
chris ames
60 minutescbs newspbsnow on pbsto the contrarybonnie erbe

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Terry Gross ignores Afghanistan women

So yesterday on Fresh Air (NPR -- link has text and audio options), Terry Gross spoke with Ahmed Rashid (a journalist from Pakistan) about the Taliban. I listen to Fresh Air at night (on a replay) and I'm generally doing other things so I'll do day after when I note it.

But I listened again today and where in the interview did Terry ask the point of the Afghanistan War? Never. And what about Afghan women?

The interview is nearly two-thirds over when suddenly the issue is 'raised'.

Mr. RASHID: Well, Terry, I dont want to jump ahead of the game. You know, I mean we are still very much in the initial stages, and how this will ultimately pan out and how it will end I think is very difficult to say. But, I mean, I think what ultimately we're talking about is a compromise. There will have to be some kind of compromise. Now whether you call it power-sharing or coalition or, you know, giving the Taliban some kind of rights in their areas, there will have to be some kind of compromise.
Now obviously, there's a lot of Afghan civil society; people who benefitted from the last few years, the small middle class in the urban areas; woman, of course, who've had, you know, been able to go back to school and have an education who are very weary of any kind of dialogue with the Taliban. But I think, you know, when we look at what the objectives are. The objectives are really to end the war - to end the state of insecurity in Afghanistan. Now this has to be balance obviously, with satisfying all the needs and aspirations of the Afghan population.
For example, when I mean Hillary Clinton, the Secretary of State had voiced, several times, her apprehensions about having talks with the Taliban unless they changed their attitude on women. Now, I mean she's perfectly justified and saw Afghan women in expressing those views. But my own gut feeling, let me tell you is that, what weve seen with this, you know, Afghanistan is a tribal society. They have an incredibly absorptive capacity. It's like a big sponge, you know, they can suck in all the water and all years and years of fighting and killing.
Weve seen, for example, these tribal feuds sometimes that go on for eight or nine generations and then they come to an end and there's a settlement and one party pays the other or whatever and then, you know, everybody lives at peace. And weve seen this since 2001. Youve had many - youve something like 21 or 22 members of parliament who come from these militant groups, either the Taliban or their allies, who are sitting in parliament today.
Now they haven't raised issues like, you know, women should stop being educated or, you know, women should go back to being in the veil. Theyve sat in parliament and they're being quite reasonable. They haven't demanded the imposition of Islamic law. They respect the Constitution. Now maybe, you know, you can get the Taliban to be absorbed into the body politic of Afghanistan without too many major concessions.


He brings it up and immediately dismisses it. Why? Taliban -- with the US in country -- aren't hissing that women shouldn't be educated. Taliban in Parliament.

And outside?

Never addressed, never broached.

But women have had acid tossed on their faces in Afghanistan for not doing this or that.

He doesn't bring that up either.

Nor does Terry Gross.

For an alleged woman, she's not too concerned about women, is she?


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

Thursday, February 18, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, Ramadi is slammed with a bombing, the UN offers 'hopes' for the upcoming elections, Chris Hill spins as well, Basra sees a increase in childhood leukemia, and more.

"After eight long years of bloodshed, and who knows how many more to come, we're still not sure why we fight, and our understanding of war is only growing more blood-dimmed and confused,"
writes Stephen Marche (Esquire). Marche's point is a solid one. Why did the US go into Iraq, the truth not the many discredited lies? Why does the US remain in Iraq? Those are questions that are never answered and really aren't even raised by the bulk of the press these days.

Today Ramadi was slammed with a bombing.
Steven Lee Myers (New York Times) reports it was a suicide bombing and that the death toll has reached at least 12. Ali al-Mashhadani, Waleed Ibrahim, Mohammed Abbas, Jack Kimball and Louise Ireland (Reuters) note twenty-one are wounded, that a hospital source says 13 corpses have been received with 26 people injured, and "A restaurant worker in Ramadi, capital of Anbar province, said that bodies littered the scene, close to a complex housing provincial government buildings. Blood stained the ground, and gutted police and army vehicles smouldered nearby." Mu Xuequan (Xinhua) quotes Khalaf Mahmoud who was wounded in the bombing, "I was heading to the government compound when the blast took place some 50 meters away from me. I remember I saw one of the civilian cars with two men inside approached to the checkpoint and blew up. It was a terrible blast, thanks God, I am lucky to survive." Al Jazeera adds:Mohammed Dulaimi, the owner of a restaurant that was badly damaged in the blast, said the attackers were "trying to undermine the political process and prevent us from taking part in the election"."They want us to miss the opportunity to vote, as we did before," he said, referring to a boycott of 2005 general elections by Sunni-led political parties.Yousif Bassil and CNN report that the attack took place at a security checkpoint "close to the provincial council office." In addition, Reuters notes a Mosul bombing injured "a former police officer and a tribal chief" and a Mosul car bombing left twenty-four people injured.

Turning to the elections, Swarthmore College's
War News Radio is a weekly show and the most recent program (first began airing last Friday) covered the elections. From the headlines, we'll note this for background.

Emily Hager: One day before campaigns are due to start, Iraqi judges released a list of previously banned candidates who will be allowed to run in next month's elections. But two of the most prominent Sunni candidates, both current Parliament members, still haven't been cleared to campaign. In January, Iraq's de-Ba'athifcation committee banned more than 500 candidates from competing for seats because of alleged connections to Saddam Hussein's Ba'ath Party. The decision was appealed to an Iraqi court where judges have been considering the issue. At first, the court announced that all of the challenged candidates would be able to run and that they would be reviewed after they won seats. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki pushed to have the review before the elections. Official campaigning begins this week for the March 7 vote.

Earlier today at the United Nations in New York,
Ad Melkert (the Secretary-General's Special Representative to Iraq) declared, "Generally speaking, I should say that the elections are on track in terms of their technical preparation. Still a lot needs to be done. Security remains a big challenge to all, to the Iraqis in the first place, but also to the international community." Melkert sounds a great deal like US spinner Chris Hill. He went on to add, "Elections is not only about politics but requires a lot of hard work on the ground. The UN electoral team has continued to play a key role in advising and technically support the Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC). As a result of a huge collective effort the infrastructure is in place in order to allow approximately 18.9 million Iraqi voters to visit 48,000 polling stations on election day." Today the Los Angeles Times offered the editorial "Baath-bashing in Iraq."

Iraq's upcoming parliamentary elections should be about jobs, public services and government competence. Candidates should be focused on the country's security and on reconciliation among Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds. Instead, the national vote once again is turning into a sectarian brawl in which Shiite parties jockeying with one another for dominance are stirring populist fears of a return of Saddam Hussein's Sunni-led Baath Party. Never mind that Hussein was executed in 2006 or that the discredited Baath Party already is outlawed. The Accountability and Justice Committee, led by Ahmad Chalabi, the Shiite politician and onetime darling of the George W. Bush administration, has been purging candidates who were members of the Baath Party and, in the process, fueling minority Sunnis' suspicions that the real motive is to further reduce their power.

Jane Arraf (Christian Science Monitor) adds, "Although a significant number of Shiites as well as Sunnis have been barred from running because of alleged Baathist ties, the move has been seen as furthering a Shiite agenda because the heads of the commission are prominent Shiite members of parliament. Adding fuel to the controversy over the ban, the top US general in Iraq, Ray Odierno, and other US officials, have accused the two men, Ahmed Chalibi, and Ali Faisel al-Lami of ties to Iran" Along with the bannings, many political parties are finding their candidates Yesterday's snapshot noted Michael Hastings (The Hastings Report, True/Slant) report on the attacks on the Ahrar political party -- Saturday, four were held for 24 hours in Sadr City where they were attempting to put up campaign visuals and Tuesday a group of worker were attacked leading up to today where an Ahrar Party candidate was attacked in Maysan Province with at least one body guard killed in the attack. The Ahrar Party has released the following statement on the attacks:

Amid increasing signs that the Maliki government has completely lost control of the security situation in Iraq, violence and sectarian intimidation have increased in spite of a non-violence pact, signed by some parties. As a non-sectarian party, Ahrar has been singled out for special treatment.
Over the past five days, Ahrar has had campaign workers shot at, captured and even killed, for the 'crime' of putting up our election posters.
In Maysan on Wednesday, an Ahrar candidate was the victim of a carefully-planned ambush, narrowly escaping capture. One of his team was murdered at gun-point.
Ahrar Party leader Ayad Jamal Aldin said: "These politicians are all talk. It is their weakness that has allowed outsiders and corrupters who are intent on dividing and destroying Iraq to take control of our country. Ahrar stands for a united and peaceful Iraq. For jobs, security and electricity for the Iraqi people."
"Now ask yourself, who would oppose this? These corrupt outsiders are scared because they know that the people of Iraq can make a change for the better. Ahrar will not be intimidated because Ahrar is the party of Iraq's people, and on March 7 it is they who have the power to end this intimidation."
For further information, contact:
Ahrar Media Bureau Tel: +964 (0)790 157 4478 / +964 (0)790 157 4479 / +964 (0)771 275 2942
press@ahrarparty.com

About Ayad Jamal Aldin:
Ayad Jamal Aldin is a cleric, best known for his consistent campaigning for a new, secular Iraq. He first rose to prominence at the Nasiriyah conference in March 2003, shortly before the fall of Saddam, where he called for a state free of religion, the turban and other theological symbols. In 2005, he was elected as one of the 25 MPs on the Iraqi National List, but withdrew in 2009 after becoming disenchanted with Iyad Allawi's overtures to Iran. He wants complete independence from Iranian interference in Iraq. He now leads the Ahrar party for the 2010 election to the Council of Representatives, to clean up corruption and create a strong, secure and liberated Iraq for the future.

Robert Dreyfuss (The Nation) declares Iraq "once again on the brink of a civil conflict" and offers this:

Starting last spring, at the urging of top officials in Iran--including Ali Larijani, the conservative, Iraqi-born speaker of the Iranian Parliament, and Brig. Gen. Qassem Suleimani, commander of the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps--a group of sectarian Shiite religious leaders patched over their differences to establish the Iraqi National Alliance (INA), linking ISCI with the forces of rogue cleric Muqtada al-Sadr; former Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari of a renegade Dawa faction; and Ahmad Chalabi, the former darling of US neoconservatives, who has long maintained close ties to Iran's hardliners.
The creation of the INA was widely seen, inside and outside Iraq, as an Iranian project. Reidar Visser, a close observer of Iraqi affairs at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs, says efforts to rebuild the Shiite sectarian alliance began last spring, after a visit to Baghdad by Larijani. Soon afterward, a stream of Iraqi officials made pilgrimages to Tehran, where a deal between the Hakim family (the founders of ISCI) and Sadr was brokered by Iran. "Part of the Iranian strategy has been to put politics in Iraq back on the sectarian track," says Visser. Both Iran and the new Shiite alliance pressured Maliki to join, but at that time the prime minister felt strong enough to run independently.
Then, this past January 14, Iraq's electoral overseers ratified a decision by the so-called Accountability and Justice Commission, an unelected body controlled by Chalabi and one of his cronies, Ali al-Lami, to ban more than 500 candidates for Parliament. They were barred from running, said the commission, on vague charges of ties to the deposed Baath Party. Among those banned were current members of Parliament and Iraqi officials, including Defense Minister Abdul-Kader Jassem al-Obeidi and Mutlaq, who'd joined forces with Allawi. The commission's action was a bomb thrown into the center of Iraqi politics and sparked talk of a boycott and even a new antigovernment insurgency.

Chris Hill is the US Ambassador to Iraq. We'll note
this exchange between him and CNN's Elise Labott from yesterday at the State Dept (link has text and video): Elise Labott: Can we go back to the idea of the Ba'athists and the election -- on the banned candidates? You spoke earlier this morning about the sensitivities about the Ba'athist issue, but more from the kind of whole Iraqi population. I was wondering if you think that there's any danger of not a resurgence of the Ba'athists, but a kind of backlash by pro-Ba'athists in terms of, you know, more violence or anything like that as a result of this. Chris Hill: Well, the country, there's no question there are Ba'athist elements in the country and there's no question that some of these Ba'athist elements are very unhappy with the current state of affairs. I will say that the -- in terms of violence, we have a government that is increasingly capable of handling violence, and we did not see any signs of insurgency of the kind that we saw back in the wake of the '05 -- Elise Labott: Right. Chris Hill: -- elections. So what we see are acts of terror that are – have already happened; in many cases, in our judgment, happened because of al-Qaida elements. But we don't see that this issue of excluding Ba'athist candidates is one that is leading to violence. Frankly, they were able to come together and work out a solution, and I think it's a solution that most people are living with. Elise Labott: But-but if I could just quickly follow up, I mean, some of these banned candidates were, if I'm correct, previous -- some of them were even in parliament previously; is that right? Chris Hill: Yeah. Elise Labot: And so, I mean, do you think that there's a danger that they feel like they used to have the political process and now they feel disenfranchised and -- Chris Hill: Well -- Elise Labott: -- and that's a kind of, you know, formula for, you know, being bored and not having a lot to do and being kind of bitter and, you know, turning back? Chris Hill: Well, being bored is not a formula for getting elected, but -- Elise Labott: Well, you know I'm being -- well, but you know what I'm saying. Chris Hill: I think it's important to understand that there are candidates who are unhappy at having been on the list, but there was a process by which they were able to appeal, there was a sequestered panel of judges from the cassation court that looked at these cases. In some cases, they ruled that the people should be able to stand for office; in others, they ruled against it. We know that some of the candidates who were disallowed or not permitted to run, they have accepted the result and they've called on their -- on people to vote. So we don't see a sign that this type of dissatisfaction is of the quality that would cause an outbreak of an insurgency. But obviously, we track these issues very closely. We're in very -- we really follow these things. We're in touch with all the politicians. And this is going to -- this is, to be sure, a rocky road, but I think we can -- we have every reason to believe that we'll get through this election process. For those paying close attention, the US has thrown in the towel re: elections. They word now is that it doesn't matter if some candidates are excluded or not, it's not big deal. And with that nonsense, the US attempts to paint a pretty picture. Sami Moubayed (Asia Times) notes that elections might take place but . . . "Another scenario is that the elections will be called off altogether, due to rising violence and Sunni resentment with Maliki's handling of the pre-election process. The controversy of disqualifying candidates, which has rocked the Iraqi scene for more than three weeks, is ongoing as 145 candidates are now officially confirmed as ineligible to run for office, due to their alleged ties to the outlawed Ba'ath Party." Mohammed A Salih (Asia Times) adds, "The ban on high-profile Sunnis who have been part of Iraqi politics after the war is considered a significant blow to Washington's efforts to bring back the moderate elements of the mostly Sunni-led Ba'ath Party into Iraq's political process and reintegrate Sunnis into the country's politics."

Chris Hill delivered a lengthy opening statement before taking questions ('or abuse' he joked). We'll not note it all. On the elections, he stated:We're here really to report on where things stand with three weeks to go. I think anyone who follows Iraq knows that there are twists and turns to any destination in Iraq. Certainly, de-Baathification was a major issue and a very tough issue, a very emotional issue, but I think we've gotten through that issue. The campaign has really started in earnest. There are campaign placards all over every surface in the country, it seems, right now. There are some 6,172 candidates. There are 18.9 million registered voters. There are 300,000 poll station workers. There are 50,000 polling stations spread over 9,000 polling centers. There will be out-of-country voters and they're prepared to handle that in 16 different countries, voting that will actually start on March 5th. We are working very closely with the UN and with the U.S. forces to help secure having 26 four-person monitoring teams. These are actually just U.S. monitoring teams to be spread out over 18 provinces, including four in Baghdad and 22 in other provinces. We'll have extra teams in some of the sensitive areas in Anbar, Basra, Diyala, Kirkuk, Ninawa. There will be nine diplomatic missions who are represented in the overall monitoring, including from -- those from Turkey, UK, Denmark, Canada, Czech Republic, Netherlands, Poland. The European Union will have five or six journalistic embeds. We'll also have special needs voting that begins on March 9th -- March 4th, rather. And our teams will be deployed about March 1st and return March 9th. So this is a major undertaking. It is an election that in many respects will determine the future of Iraq, the future of the U.S. -- and also the future of the U.S. relationship with Iraq. For us, this is a very important election because it's an important election that will enable us to continue to develop what we see as a long-term and very important relationship, strategic relationship, with the Republic of Iraq.He wanted to talk about many things in his opening statement and oil was at the top of his list. Oil and 'progress'. Chris Hill insisted, "Iraq has made important strides in its economy in recent months. They've reached some oil lease deals with many of the major oil companies in the world. So if all of these go well in the next some 10 years, we will see a country producing some 10 million barrels of oil per day. I mean, this is a substantial amount. This will put Iraq in the category of or in the sort of orbit of a country like Saudi Arabia. It will make Iraq an oil exporter to the tune of some four times what Iran is currently exporting. So all of these developments are happening as we speak. There are more and more oil infrastructure companies coming in to get ready for this, and I think we can see that Iraq is really taking its rightful place on the world stage.""Ten years," Chris?"Ten more years"?
Geoff Kelly (Art Voice) interviews US House Rep Brian Higgins who states, "In Iraq, do you remember [President Bush] said he was going to do the surge in late 2006? The war wasn't going well. He puts Petraeus in charge and they commit 20,000 more troops. The surge was supposed to give breathing room for the political parties -- Shia, Sunni, and Kurd -- to resolve their differences. The surge succeeded militarily by tamping down the violence, but all the existential issues, all the standout issues, are still unresolved -- and will very likely be resolved violently. The sharing of oil revenues, the disputed areas in the north, Kirkuk, political reconciliation between the three major factions -- they're still not resolved."They're still not resolved, says Higgins.Important strides, crows Hill . . . before adding . . . ten more years.


Can Iraq survive the damage of ten more years?
US News and World Reports notes that in Basra the rate of childhood leukemia has doubled in the last 15 years and offers that one reason for this may be due to chemical exposures as a result of fires. The University of Washington issued a news release today noting the study and that there of their professors wrote it:

The study documents 698 cases of leukemia for children aged 0-14 during the 15-year period, with a peak of 211 cases in 2006. Younger children had higher rates than older ones.
"By using a hospital cancer registry, we were able to measure a jump in leukemia rates from 3 per 100,000 youngsters in the first part of our study period, to a rate of almost 8 and a half in the final three years," said UW Department of Global Health faculty member Amy Hagopian, the paper's lead author.
By comparison, Hagopian said, the European Union and the United States report rates of 4 and 5 per 100,000, respectively. She also noted Kuwait reports a rate of approximately 2 per 100,000 and Oman reports rates between 2 and 3, depending on the gender of the child (boys typically have higher rates, as do children from higher socio-economic classes).
"Studying childhood diseases in war situations is difficult," Hagopian noted. "Aside from the normal difficulties of controlling for referral patterns changes caused by war-time conditions, the political situation is also challenging. We were constantly worried about the political risks our medical colleagues were taking by collecting and reporting these data."

One way chemicals are exposes is the use of burn pits to burn off left overs -- medicine, trash, waste, military equipment -- and they have been used in Iraq and in Afghanistan.
David Zucchino (Los Angeles Times) tackles the issue of the burn pits:The noxious smoke plumes that wafted over the military base in Balad, Iraq, alarmed Lt. Col. Michelle Franco. The stench from a huge burn pit clung to her clothing, skin and hair. "I remember thinking: This doesn't look good, smell good or taste good," Franco said recently. "I knew it couldn't be good for anybody." She wheezed and coughed constantly. When Franco returned to the U.S., she was diagnosed with reactive airway dysfunction syndrome. She is no longer able to serve as an Air Force nurse. Other returning veterans have reported leukemia, lymphoma, congestive heart problems, neurological conditions, bronchitis, skin rashes and sleep disorders -- all of which they attribute to burn pits on dozens of U.S. bases in Afghanistan and Iraq. Burn pits are not safe. Everything is burned off in them including medicines. These toxins are released into the air and get into the soil and water supply. There are many people quoted in the article saying the military needs to step up but it's not just the military. Congress needs to. Zucchino notes that US House Rep Carol Porter-Shea has introduced legislation in the House for a federal registry (as there is with Agent Orange). That's great. But there's similar legislation in the Senate. Evan Bayh introduced it last year. Since October, when he appeared before the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, that legislation has been held up by the Committee which should have long ago released it for a floor vote.

Dennis Bartok (Variety) observes, "The year 2009 was the one that saw Iraq War-themed movies finally connect with Academy voters, as Oscar-nominated scripts The Hurt Locker [Mark Boal] and The Messenger [Alessandro Camon and Oren Moverman] resonated in ways that earlier efforts didn't." It's a shame that film interest increases as the interest from the news media decreases. But at least some people are paying attention.


We noted Marc Hall in the
February 9th snapshot, Pamela E. Walck (Savannah Now) reports that Hall was in Chief Federal District Court yesterday where Judge William T. Moore Jr. refused to grant his appeal to remain in the US and he is expected to be sent to Kuwait shortly for a court-martial:
"The more I worked on this case, the more persuaded I am that we were right on the law," said David Gespass, Hall's civilian attorney. "... There is no one else to appeal to at this point. The intent of the Army is clear. They could have tried him any time between July and December, before anyone left here (for Iraq)."And the idea that all of a sudden, it's imperative they try him over there, outside of the light of day and the scrutiny of the public, shows they are so resistant to trying him here. It reinforces the idea they don't want the case to be scrutinized."Gespass said it wouldn't be fiscally possible for him to travel to Iraq for the court-martial proceedings and that his client would have to rely on the military-appointed attorney."I have confidence in his military lawyer," Gespass said. "But ... the problem with getting witnesses there is a more serious one."The civilian attorney said one witness stepped forward, but said she wouldn't travel to Iraq for a court proceeding.Why is Marc Hall facing a court-martial?
Russia Today interviewed Iraq Veterans Against the War and World Can't Wait's Matthis Chiroux about the case.Matthis Chiroux: Marc Hall has demonstrated (a) a lot of courage in-in writing this song. I mean the army suppressing soldiers is so widespread, the stop-loss policy destroys so many lives anyway. The fact that Marc Hall had the courage to-to speak up and to address that in his rap song in the first place is quite impressive. Second, I think very important, something that we need to call attention to in this case, is Marc Hall is not being jailed for writing the stop-loss song, Marc Hall is being jailed because he expressed to his command that he would not deploy to Iraq with his unit. And this happened during the time he wrote the song in July and he wasn't jailed until December. He was, in fact, undergoing counseling and serving with his unit. It wasn't until Specialist Hall told his command that he wasn't comfortable deploying to Iraq that they took these measures against him. IVAW's updates page for Marc Hall is here. Asked if the military is concerned that the song might bring attention to the stop-loss policy, Matthis responds, "Well, ma'am, I think there is already enormous attention on this policy and, in fact, this is one of the many Bush era policies that Obama has failed to make good on his promises to end. Obama said he would end stop-loss, yet it continues. Marc Hall is a victim of that. His song is an expression of-of what it's like to feel robbed by the military, what it's like to be the victim of a backdoor draft. And he put that out there and subsequently told his unit that he wasn't going to abide by those orders to deploy to Iraq and that's when they took these measures against him. There's a clear, clear history of resistance within the units in the military history spreading and we in Iraq Veterans Against the War are convinced that the command recognized this and sought to remove Marc Hall using this rap song as an excuse before others in his unit could find out that he wasn't going to deploy and could do the same thing. I mean in recent history at Fort Hood, we have Victor Augusto who refused to deploy to Afghanistan and then, after he did that, other soldiers stood up. One, in fact, flat out refused as well and also was tried by the miltiary for it. This jailing of Marc Hall is clearly the military's attempt to shut down any resistance in this unit that could come from Marc Hall's courageous stance, not just in opposing stop-loss but in opposing the war."


TV notes.
NOW on PBS begins airing Friday on most PBS stations (check local listings):


From the raucous tea party rallies to the painful sacrifices families are making behind closed doors, voter angst and anger are sweeping the country like a storm. Directly in its path: the 2010 midterm elections. On February 19 at 8:30 pm (check local listings), NOW examines the strong impact this groundswell has already had on electoral politics, and what we can expect in November. Our investigation uncovers what motivates people who've come together under the tea party banner, and how a larger dissatisfaction among voters spells trouble for incumbents in both parties, some of whom have decided to avert the storm by leaving Congress altogether.


iraqthe los angeles times
cnnelise labott
the asia timessami moubayedmohammed a. salihxinhuaal jazeeracnnthe new york timessteven lee myersyousif bassilart voicegeoff kelly
the christian science monitorjane arrafsavannah nowpamela e. walckrussia todayiraq veterans against the warmatthis chirouxthe world cant waitdavid zucchino
pbsnow on pbs

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Creepy Terry Gross' sex obsession

Okay, I'm grabbing NPR's Fresh Air. I checked to make sure no one else heard yesterday's show and they didn't so I'm grabbing it.

You can listen or read transcript and this is from the transcript:

Terry Gross: This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross.
In this time of extreme partisan division in Washington, a new book re-examines the impeachment of President Clinton and the partisan divisions it represented. The author, Ken Gormley, says he wanted to write a neutral, definitive book about how an investigation into a real estate deal gone bad became an investigation into President Clinton's affair with an intern and ended with the president's impeachment by the House and acquittal in the Senate.
Gormley's new book is called "The Death of American Virtue: Clinton vs. Starr." Gormley interviewed Clinton and Kenneth Starr, the independent counsel who led the investigation. Gormley also spoke with many other key players in the story, including Monica Lewinsky, Linda Tripp, Paula Jones, Susan McDougal and Henry Hyde. Gormley is a professor and interim dean at Duquesne University Law School. He's an expert on Watergate and special prosecutors, and wrote the book "Archibald Cox: Conscience of A Nation."
Ken Gormley, welcome to FRESH AIR. Now, in your research of the Kenneth Starr investigation, you say that President Clinton now thinks that his decision to appoint an independent counsel to investigate Whitewater was one of the greatest miscalculations of his presidency. Why did he do it in the first place? Why did he want a special prosecutor?
Professor KENNETH GORMLEY (Law, Interim Dean, Duquesne University Law School; Author): Well, I don't think he wanted a special prosecutor, Terry, but at the time, you have to understand that the independent counsel law was viewed as a good government measure.
It had been born during the aftermath of Watergate. It was viewed as a measure designed to prevent that sort of scandal at the highest levels of the executive branch from creating problems again. And President Clinton, in the election campaign of 1992, had campaigned in favor of the independent counsel law. There was almost no way out of it, out of signing that bill back into law.
I think at the time, he believed, and he told me that he believed, that this would be a relatively quick and painless matter where folks would investigate the Whitewater matter, see that the Clintons had had no involvement in any wrongdoing by Jim McDougal, who was the individual in Arkansas who had really masterminded that real estate deal and then turned it into Madison Guarantee Savings and Loan investments that ended up defrauding the savings and loan industry.
President Clinton and Mrs. Clinton believed that they had nothing to do with any of this and that, pretty swiftly, that would be determined, and that would be the end of it. It turned out not to be the case.


The above, that's all on Whitewater. There's never an effort made to explain how this non-story became THE story of the 90s. Terry wasn't interested in that.

Like Ken Starr, she was interested in sex. Sex got her going. So we ended up hearing over and over about sex.

But Whitewater, that was what the investigation was supposed to be about and Terry Gross had NO interest in it. ZERO.

She had a lot of questions. "Character" ones. B.s. ones.

The most important detail is no "there" to Whitewater. Never a real scandal. A press invented one. And Terry couldn't tell you that because she's so obsessed with trying to come off sexual.

She really is creepy on air.

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

Wednesday, February 17, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, KETK 56 is the DUMBEST TV station in the land and home to the BIGGEST LIARS as well, campaign charges/attacks fly (including 'Joe Biden is a Ba'athist!'), Last-Of-Iraqi's Dr. Mohammed and his family are granted asylum in the US, and more.

Every now and then we hear how uninformed the US public allegedly is. And a lot of gas bags snicker as if the people just decided to be mistaken or wrong. The Iraq War was sold with lies. That is George W. Bush, yes, but that is also the media. And for those who've forgotten just how bad the lies are, KETK decided to let the world know what a LIAR really looks like this morning. KETK carries NBC programming to the Tyler and Longview area in East Texas (I believe that's Smith and Greg counties). If you're able to stream, you need to do so. If not, you'll have to take my word for it.
The segment allegedly poses the question: "Has the war in Iraq been worth it?" But no sooner is that question asked, word for word, then the very ugly -- Texas can't get people on with full heads of hair? -- he's overweight, he's ugly and this is what people have to wake up to in the morning? -- Bob Brackeen jumps in to add, "Uh-uh, you know perhaps people could see -- say that about previous wars? Perhaps people even say that about WWII -- the-the defeat of Nazi Germany?" You really need to stream to get his pompous and dismissive attitude. This from an ugly man wearing an ugly tie in a suit jacket that looks like it came from Goodwill and is several sizes too large for him. But that's just the outer layer of ugly. Bobby Brackeen tosses to conservative talk radio's Garth Maier who insists that this was more than expected -- this illegal war -- by politicians, generals and citizens. Uh, no, asshole, some of us never bought the cakewalk lie.

Ass Face Maier then goes on to declare that, "To date, there have been more than 4,300 US soldiers killed in the Iraq War, we're not including Afghanistan." Two things first off. "Soldiers"? Those in the army gladly cop to that term. Is Ass Face Maier unaware that other branches feel differently and that's why the terms "troops" and "service members" are more often used? Second, more than 4,300? You're in charge of what passes for 'news' at your Hannity-Savage-Limbaugh-Beck station and you know you're going on TV and you know what the topic is and you write your own copy but you're too damn lazy to know the death toll? Is that it? 4376 was the toll this morning. I'm sorry if that's just too damn much work for you who helped cheer lead the country into the illegal war. I'm not surprised it's too much work for you because those of you cheering the loudest were of course the laziest when it came to action though your mouths were world athletes -- often placing first and second in the Liar Olympics. And for those who watch the full segment, you'll catch him say it's more than 4,300 at the start of the segment and, near the end, say that the count is 4,300.

And if you doubt it, when Ass Face is talking about how the war's not what was expected and going on about 4300? During all of that, KETK, channel 56, is showing what footage? The Twin Towers with the smoke. The Pentagon after it's hit. Yes, they're showing 9-11. Why? Iraq had nothing to do with 9-11. The hijackers of the planes weren't Iraqis. George W. Bush repeatedly made the false link to 9-11, remember?

In October 2002, the Council on Foreign Relations and PEW conducted a poll.
Lee Feinstein wrote up the results, "The Pew results indicate that the imputation of an Iraq-9/11 link strongly resonates with a majority of Americans, even though most analysts inside and outside government have disputed the suggestion of a direct link, and earlier suggestions by administration officials asserting such a link have been muted. Two-thirds of those surveyed (66%) say they believe 'Saddam Hussein helped the terrorists in the September 11 attacks'." Dana Milbank and Claudia Deane (Washington Post) reported
in September 2003, "Nearing the second anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, seven in 10 Americans continue to believe that Iraq's Saddam Hussein had a role in the attacks, even though the Bush administration and congressional investigators say they have no evidence of this."

In March of 2003, the always idiotic
Tom Zeller (New York Times) was having 'fun' at the public's expense and comparing it Jay Leno's interviews of people (people, PIg Zeller) on the street when noting that people wrongly believed there was a link between Iraq and 9-11. He insists this view "was widespread from teh beginning". Really? Widespred how? The public just decided to believe that? No the Bush administration and the media sold that LIE. The New York Times, in particular, sold that lie with the first front page story -- of any major daily US newspaper -- claiming a link -- that story depended on a source now discredited. Tom Zeller and the Times are happy to laugh at people, they're just not willing to correct their errors and own up to their role. In June of 2004, the 9-11 Commission released a finding. Dan Eggen (Washington Post) reported, "There is 'no credible evidence' that Saddam Hussein's government in Iraq collaborated with the al Qaeda terrorist network on any attacks on the United States, according to a new staff report released this morning by the commission investigating the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks." Eggan notes that Dick Cheney and George Bush had pushed a link -- a non-existant link. October 6, 2004, speaking to Margaret Warner on PBS' NewsHour (link has text, audio and video options), Daniel Benjamin talked about how the Bush administration pushed the false linkage:

I think the administration pursued a well thought out strategy of associating the two at virtually every opportunity. There was a reason why 70 percent of the American people believed that Saddam Hussein was involved in 9/11, and that is because the administration time after time put the two of them together in the same framework. Look, long after the CIA and the FBI had knocked down the story of Mohamed Atta meeting with an Iraqi agent in Prague, the vice president was peddling the story over and over again. And that's just one of many different instances of this kind of association. I think that when the vice president says that he never said that they were connected or never involved in 9/11, he is technically correct but in a way that not even a trial lawyer would find serious.

Now we could stay with this topic for the full snapshot. We could offer the BBC's coverage. We could offer any number of sources. But the media LIED about the link for years. And now when the media wants to be trusted, you've still got LIARS pimping this. Grasp that this isn't Fox "News." This is an NBC affilliate. This station serves at least two counties, two big cities (Longview and Tyler) and multiple towns (Chandler, Kilgore, Jacksonville, Marshall, etc.). And they're LYING. They're trotting back out the never-existed, long ago proven wrong link between Iraq and 9-11 and they're doing that by talking about Iraq while showing footage -- not a second, not even just a few seconds. The segment is less than seven minutes long but over 129 seconds -- two minutes and nine seconds -- is devoted to showing footage of the Twin Towers and the Pentagon.

Garth Maier is a sad, sad man. At one point, playing calls, he is, eyes filled with 'regret' and, he says, surprised that so many calling in say the Iraq War wasn't worth it and, watch the screen, you know what's about to play. Yes, they immediately roll the footage of the plume smoke coming off the Twin Towers. And they just can't stop lying. Here he is:


Remember, the uh, the uh statement of President Bush, US forces entered Iraq looking for Weapons of Mass Destruction and they believed it was a strong hold for al Qaeda terrorists and what not. So that's the reason the US invasion began in the first place and, of course, Saddam Hussein would not open up to complete inspectors completelyuh to find -- to- to investigate his facilities, to see if he was involved in Weapons of Mass Destruction.

These are lies that were told and, pay attention, they're the lies still being told. All this time later. So all the beggars of
Panhandle Media (that would be so-called 'independent' media, so called 'alternative' media in the US) who couldn't make time for Iraq or for the Iraq Inquiry, grasp that all your usual b.s. didn't do a damn thing. You never accomplish a damn thing and the reason is that the other side stays on it. The other side never lets go. That's not a surprise to any of us who have lived through all the revisionary attempts on Vietnam. It shouldn't be a surprise to Panhandle Media. The Iraq War is not over, the attempts of revisionary history on it continue. It is an assault on humanity and on facts, but you go spend your two worthless weeks at the Sundance Film Festival and offers us a lot of bad interviews with bad film makers and pretend like you accomplished something, self-stroke again. In the real world, they're still selling this illegal war and you aren't doing a damn thing to stop it.

For the record, inspectors were let in. They were not allowed to complete their inspections -- that wasn't Hussein's fault, that was George W. Bush's fault. Those paying attention to the Inquiry should be aware why Bush did that. And thank you to community member Renee who saw KETK's b.s. and e-mailed the link.
A.N.S.W.E.R. and other organizations are sponsoring March 20th marches in DC, San Francisco and Los Angeles. The march is to demand the withdrawal of all US and NATO troops from Iraq and Afghanistan.

From
yesterday's snapshot: "Speaking to DC's Institute For the Study of War today by video link, the top US commander in Iraq, Gen Ray Odierno, declared that Chalabi and Ali al-Lami are strongly influenced by the government of Iran and that they meet with senior-level members of the Iranian government regularly. Lara Jakes and Anne Flaherty (AP) report, 'Odierno told an audience in Washington at the Institute for the Study of War that al-Lami "has been involved in various nefarious activities in Iraq for sometime" and called it "disappointing" that he was put in charge of the commission'." Correction to that, Odierno was broadcast online (live) by video link but he was in DC when speaking. That was my mistake, my apologies. From the video (transcript also available at link):

Kimberly Kagan: Elections questions. Elections. Bob.
Robert Dreyfuss: Yeah. Two very quick ones.

Kimberly Kagan: Please introduce yourself.

Robert Dreyfuss: Oh, I'm Bob Dreyfuss with The Nation magazine. One is Ali al-Lami, who was arrested by the U.S. a year and a half ago. And I was wonderinf if you could kind of clear up who this guy is and what his connection to Iran are and why he was arrested and why he was freed. And sort of the related question is, I mean, you seem reluctant to talk about Iran's influence in Iraq. But a lot of people say that the fact that Maliki, you know, didn't cave in or exceed or agree with, whatever you want to do, with the American suggestions about transparency and other things indicates that Iran has a lot more influence as the U.S. drawdown approaches, and the U.S. has a lot less.
Gen Ray Odierno: Yeah. al-Lami is a Sadrist by trade. He was arrested after an operation in Sadr City where both Iraqi security forces, U.S. civilians, and U.S. soldiers were leaving a meeting that they had witht he local government in Sadr City, and their vehicles were attacked with IEDs as they left the meeting. There were some accusations. We had some intelligence that said that al-Lami was the one who directed these attacks on these individuals. He was released in August of '09 as part of the drawdown of our detention facilities because we did not have the acutal prosecutorial evidence in order to bring him in front of a court of law in Iraq. All we had was intelligence that linked him to this attack. So, as we had some others, we had to release him. He has been involved in very nefarious activities in Iraq for some time. It is disappointing that somebody like him was in fact put in charge or has been able to run this commission inside of Iraq, in my opinion. He is, him and Chalabi clearly are influence by Iran. We have direct intelligence that tells us that. They've had several meetings in Iran, meeting with a man named Mohandas, which is an ex-council representative member -- still is a council representative member -- who was on the terrorist watch list for a bombing in Kuwait in the 1980s. They are tied to him. He sits at the right-hand side of Quds Force commandant, Qassem Soleimani. And we believe they're absolutely involved in influencing the outcome of the election. And it's concering that they've been able to do that over time. Chalabi, who you know, has been involved in Iraqi politics in many different ways over the last seven years, mostly bad.

Robert Dreyfuss blogged about the exchange this morning at The Nation. Thom Shanker (New York Times) characterizes the conversation and terms Odierno's remarks "unusually blunt". Jason Ditz (Antiwar) offers, "Though the conspiracies may be interesting to speculate about, the truth may be far simpler. Chalabi's political bloc stands to gain considerably with the effective destruction of the rival Allawi bloc, and he hardly needed a foreign dictate to see a political opportunity and take it." Eli Lake (Washington Times) adds, "The Washington Times reported in August that Mr. al-Lami was arrested in 2008 on suspicion that he was a liaison for Mr. Chalabi with an Iranian-backed militia group in Iraq known as the League of Righteous." For those unfamiliar with the League of Righteous, they currently boast of having kidnapped a 60-year-old US contractor, Issa T. Salomi. They kidnapped 5 British citizens in Baghdad and, when Barack Obama's administration entered into negotiations with them, released 3 corpses and 1 hostage alive (Peter Moore was the one alive) after their leaders were released from prison -- al-Lami is thought to have been released as part of that trade. The Obama administration's decision to enter into talks with the group was shocking considering the group also brags of their attack on a US military base in Iraq in which five American soldiers were killed. Tony Rennell (Telegraph of London) provided an adaptation of Mark Urban's new book Task Force Black which notes the League of Righteous.

Related,
Leila Fadel (Washington Post) reports on the sectarian violence that is bubbling back up in Iraq (never completely vanished, it is now more visible):The Mashhadani family, which is Sunni, has lived in Hurriyah for 40 years, save two years when family members were forced to flee. They say it's once again time to leave. On Jan. 23, Omar Mashhadani sat on a flimsy mattress in his living room, waiting to watch a soccer game on television. There was a knock at the door. When Omar answered, he was shot at least three times. His brother, Jassim, and his mother, Nadima Taha Yasseen, rushed toward the front door. Omar limped into his brother's arms, the Iraqi flag on his green jersey soaked in blood. No one came to the family's aid. No one helped load Omar into the minibus that took him to the hospital. No men came to pay condolences after he died last month; they were too afraid to openly mourn his death.

Fadel notes that Sunnis are fearful and that slogans are appearing such as "Death to Baathists and Wahhabis" and "Death to Sunnis." The last time Iraq held national elections for Parliament, a number of candidates campaigned by attacking other ethnic groupings and stoking the sectarian tensions. A similar dynamic has emerged in the lead up to the elections scheduled for March 7th. What followed the last elections were two years of ethnic cleansing usually referred to as "the civil war." It's all guess work at this point as to what will follow Nouri and the thugs effort to reinflame sectarian tensions.

And Joe Biden, US Vice President, is accused of being a Ba'athist.
Layla Anwar (An Arab Woman Blues) explains, "This is what W. Qanbar, a spokesman for the Iraqi National Alliance (INA), the grouping of the Shiites parties such as Muqtada al-Sadr (the college drop out who recycled himself in drilling), Ammar A-Hakeem (the Shiite playboy and smuggler of the South, head of the notorious Badr Brigades), "Dr" Adel Abdul Mahdi, the so called Phd holder from France, who got his Doctorat from the bistrots of Pigalle, Paris . . . and a few other riffraffs -- all working for Iran . . . This is what Qanbar said on Al-Arabiya TV yesterday . . . he said that Biden was working for the Baathists -- I kid you not."


Hamza Hendawi (AP) reports that political slogans abound in Baghdad and "With three weeks left before a key nationwide vote, Baghdad looks little different from how it did back when the country was on the brink of civil war in 2006 -- divided, gripped by fear and dissected by concrete blast walls." Michael Hastings (The Hatings Report, True/Slant) reports on attacks on the Aharar political party -- Saturday, four were held for 24 hours in Sadr City where they were attempting to put up campaign visuals and Tuesday a group of worker were attacked leading up to today where an Aharar Party candidate was attacked in Maysan Province with at least one body guard killed in the attack. Hastings offers these possible reasons for the repeated assaults:

1)The Ahrar party is headed by a secular Shiite cleric named Jamal Ayad Aldin. Their list is made up of other secular candidates. We've seen the Iraqi government–in its efforts to ban over 500 candidates–target secularlists. The number two man on Ahrar's list, a secular Sunni named General Najeem Said, was in fact banned from running. This might very well be part of a larger effort by the Shiite Islamist government in Baghdad to make life more difficult for secular parties.
2) Jamal Ayad Aldin has been very, very, critical of Iranian influence in Iraq. He's also been getting some favorable TV coverage on Iraqiya, a popular satellite TV channel. So could the Iranians be trying to take out an enemy? Well, just this week top American General Ray Ordierno
accused Iran of being behind the election ban, so it's not far fetched that they'd support attacks on their enemies inside Iraq as well.

Violence continues in Iraq and is often related to the campaigns.

Bombings?

Reuters notes a Mosul roadside bombing which left five people injured and, dropping back to yesterday, a Mosul grenade attack that injured a young girl.

Shootings?

Reuters notes 1 Iraqi soldier shot dead in Mosul and 1 Kurdish military member shot dead in Tuz Khurmato.

Corpses?

Reuters notes that the corpse of an Iraqi Christian was discovered in Mosul with gun shot wounds. This is the 4th Iraqi Christian shot dead since Friday, a fifth was wounded in a shooting. Asia News identifies the latest killed as 20-year-old Wissam Georges and notes that he was studying to become a teacher. Jamal al-Badrani, Aseel Kami and Mohammed Abbas (Reuters) observe, "With Iraq's March 7 parliamentary vote looming, a spike in attacks against Christians could be a sign of voter intimidation by factions in the bitter Kurd-Arab dispute, or another attempt by al Qaeda to derail the election." Mujahid Mohammed (AFP) gives the names of the others killed and wounded: Tuesday 21-year-old Zia Toma was shot dead and 22-year-old Ramsin Shmael was wounded, Monday Fatukhi Munir was shot dead and Sunday Rayan Salem Elias was shot dead.

In Iraq,
Nibras Kazimi (Talisman Gate) offers, "The De-Ba'athification stunt proved hugely popular for the Iraqi National Alliance (Hakim, Ja'afari, Sadrists, Chalabi), and at least for now, it seems to have galvanized Shias around this slate to Maliki's detriment. Bolani's slate, although very well funded and starring some household names (…or at least those made prominent in the last few years, especially on the Sunni side: Abu Risha, Mashhadani, Ahmad Abdel-Ghaffour al-Samara'i), isn't having much traction. What seems to have stuck to Bolani is the assertion that the hand-held bomb detectors at checkpoints don't really work; the Ministry of Interior is being held responsible. The problem with this accusation is that Iraqis remember it every time they are snarled in traffic due to checkpoints, which is most of the day." Roads to Iraq reports on rumors that Nouri al-Maliki has made a deal with the Kurdistan Regional Government ("Kirkuk in exchange of Support Maliki's second term"). Yesterday's snapshot included: "Fanning those flames was Iraqi MP Baha al-Araji. AFP reports that that MP from Moqtada al-Sadr's political bloc declared 'the majority denomination (the Shiites) was the victim of a plot since Abu Bakr [573-634] until Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr [1912-1982].' Nouri's mouthpiece, ali al-Dabbagh, insisted the statement was outragoues and a violation of Article 7. He then warned it should not happen again." Omar (Iraq The Model) notes that "there were reports that thousands of protesters took to the streets in Diyala and Fallujah demanding that MP and senior member of Sadr movement Bahaa Al-Aaraji be prosecuted under the Justice and Accountability Law" for his remarks.

The Iraq War has created the largest refugee crisis in the world. Counting internal and external refugees, there are over four milliion. The United States has accepted very few Iraqi refugees (but always insists that's going to change . . . soon . . . maybe).
Dr. Mohammed (Last-Of-Iraqis) and his family were granted asylum to the US and left Iraq this month. He explains:


After some interviews and CIA checks I have been accepted and given a departure date which was Feb 1st. . . .We went from Baghdad to Amman and stayed there for a night and as usual the Jordanians were jerks and gave us some really hard time, despite that the trip to Jordan was the shortest but it was the hardest!! next day at 10 am we left from Amman heading to NY in a direct flight . . .Thank god for the good reading and searches I have done in which I discovered there are cribs for babies in big airplanes like the ones we were traveling by so I booked a seat in front of the crib and that made the trip much easier . . . after more than 13 hours flight and to be honest it wasn't that hard at all as we expected and Linda (My daughter) behaved better than adults . . . we reached JFK airport and I was surprised for how easy the procedures were comparing to Amman . . . we just finished our papers with the IOM and that took about 2 hours (because we were travelling with a group of 10 families) . . . . .We went from Baghdad to Amman and stayed there for a night and as usual the Jordanians were jerks and gave us some really hard time, despite that the trip to Jordan was the shortest but it was the hardest!! next day at 10 am we left from Amman heading to NY in a direct flight . . . Thank god for the good reading and searches I have done in which I discovered there are cribs for babies in big airplanes like the ones we were traveling by so I booked a seat in front of the crib and that made the trip much easier . . . after more than 13 hours flight and to be honest it wasn't that hard at all as we expected and Linda (My daughter) behaved better than adults . . . . we reached JFK airport and I was surprised for how easy the procedures were comparing to Amman . . . we just finished our papers with the IOM and that took about 2 hours (because we were travelling with a group of 10 families) then we headed to the counters and it was a matter of seconds, just a fingerprint and a photo and that's it! No body search? No interrogation? No hours of waiting? No there was nothing like that, everyone is smiling and welcoming and that was a real push up . . . and there I was, the electric door opened and I was in NY . . . Goooood, what a clean air, what a great weather . . . . the air feels really different, the clean streets, the lights, the cars…everything is different . . . they took us in a bus to the motel which was like a shit hole, it was disgusting and in a very bad neighborhood, I wasn't able to see NY, we stayed in the ugly motel near LaGuardia airport for a night and the next morning we went to the airport and headed to Dallas TX at about 11am and from Dallas we went to Houston TX which is our final destination . . . through these trips I made some impressions about the Americans in general which proved to be right till now, I discovered that they are really nice and smiling to you when you meet their eyes, they are so calm and I like that.


TV notes.
NOW on PBS begins airing Friday on most PBS stations (check local listings):

From the raucous tea party rallies to the painful sacrifices families are making behind closed doors, voter angst and anger are sweeping the country like a storm. Directly in its path: the 2010 midterm elections. On February 19 at 8:30 pm (check local listings), NOW examines the strong impact this groundswell has already had on electoral politics, and what we can expect in November. Our investigation uncovers what motivates people who've come together under the tea party banner, and how a larger dissatisfaction among voters spells trouble for incumbents in both parties, some of whom have decided to avert the storm by leaving Congress altogether.



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