Friday, April 9, 2010

NPR ombudsperson full of s**t

Last Sunday, at Third, Ava and C.I. wrote the amazing "WMC: Too pathetic (Ava and C.I.)" where they took on NPR's so-called ombudsperson and her ridiculous 'study' that exempted the worst offenders when it came to sexism in booking:

We'd go further and say that in the field of the arts, women have long held their own. In fact, women have held their own since they first made their way on to the stage. So we would wonder why Terry Gross can't find women to book in equal (if not greater) number to men?

In her 'study,' the ombudsperson writes, "Are there really no women to alternate the political patter on Friday nights with Dionne and Brooks? Couldn't Maureen Corrigan (who reviews books for Fresh Air) split the book reviews on ATC with Cheuse?"

First off, Alicia Shepard, why are you bringing up E.J. Dionne and David Brooks? You say you're confining your study to Morning Edition and All Things Considered. Neither show airs "Friday nights" and you appear to mean Mark Shields and David Brooks who appear Friday nights (Dionne sometimes subs for Shields as does Ruth Marcus, among others) on The NewsHour? We're all for holding The NewsHour accountable for gender imbalance -- and stood alone in doing so during the Democratic and GOP conventions -- we're just confused as to why you limit your topic to avoid calling out Terry Gross (and that was done purposely) and yet expand it to include a PBS program? A PBS TV program?

The NPR ombudsperson -- whose job is to cover NPR -- decides to slam a PBS program but can't call out Terry Gross?

If you're wondering why Ava and C.I. are so sick of Queen Bee and Queen Bitch Terry Gross, let me break it down for you.

Monday's show had one of her regular critics -- a man -- David Bianculli. In addition, there were two guests -- both men -- from the TV show Treme.

Tuesday was the sole female critic, Maureen Corrigan, doing a book review while the show was devoted to a 'manly' man talking about pirates.

Wednesday the guest was -- a man. And clips from a long ago interview with a woman.

Thursday
the guest was a man who played a fiddle and a man who wrote a book. She had two critics -- both men -- Kevin Whitehead to do a music review and the disgusting John Powers who thinks because he liked something we all must have. (I've never done poppers, Powers.)

Friday's guests were two men who played baseball, then a man who wrote a book about umpires. Critic doing a review? David Edelstein.

10 guests -- if you count the clip job -- 9 of which were men. 5 critics offering reviews -- 4 of which were men. Back to Ava and C.I.:

The 'study' was published Friday. We'd sooner spit on Steve Inskeep than say hello to him, but we'll note that he does have a point that, by looking at the voices heard on two news shows, you are going to, for example, hear a lot of Barack Obama (speaking to crowds, etc.) which will add into the number of male sources.

Inskeep insists in an e-mail to the ombudsperson, "You yourself acknowledge that if more men appear, it may reflect 'societal' factors like the preponderance of men in certain fields."

And therein lies the problem with the study. Unlike WMC, Ann and we have long called out NPR's gender imbalance. If you want to prove men are featured as guests more than women you go to the obvious.

You go to The Diane Rehm Show and you look at who gets on and who doesn't. Just her two hours on Friday, for example, feature four men and two women guests. Four men and two women. Inskeep is insisting that men might hold more positions in certain fields -- such as president of the United States since no woman's ever managed that (in part due to the go-along-to-get-along gals of WMC) -- and we won't argue with him on that. We will, however, note that women reporters are nothing new and that it's rather strange that Diane Rehm can book six reporters and journalists (some are columnists and not reporters) each Friday for her two hour show but it's almost always four men and two women.

We'd go further and say that in the field of the arts, women have long held their own. In fact, women have held their own since they first made their way on to the stage. So we would wonder why Terry Gross can't find women to book in equal (if not greater) number to men?

Get the point? You should. Even if the NPR ombudsperson is full of s**t.
This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Friday, April 2010. Chaos and violence continue, blaming two dead reporters continues, the Rules of Engagement aren't the final say in the July 12, 2007 assault, and Senator Tom Harken is scared of a little girl.
On the most recent Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox, Peace Mom Cindy spoke with her friends Elaine Brower, Jon Gold and Matthis Chiroux about how the four of them were arrested in DC March 20th protesting the illegal wars.
Elaine Brower: One of the problems we're up against with this movement is that they're co-opted by the Democratic Party. And the Democratic Party does not want their base to mobilize. So what we saw with the election to Obama and prior to that was the complete demobilization --if there was any anti-war movement before that -- it just continued to disappear. And now I'm not sure who's left out there that really wants to make this change but whoever it is, that's what they're going to have to do and it's not an easy step. It's a very difficult step to take -- difficult for me, difficult for you. We have families, we have lives. But we don't want to see this empire terrorize any more people around the globe.
Senator Tom Harkin voted for the Iraq War by voting, in 2002, to authorize force. Tom Alex (Des Moinses Register -- link has text and video) reports that a 12-year-old was arrested as Harkin's office in Des Moines, Frankie Hughes. Her 'crime'? The 12-year-old refused to leave the office. The 12-year-old girl was a 'threat' to Senator Tom Harkin and his staff. The full grown senator and his full grown staff were a-scared of a 12-year-old girl. Frankie Hughes was there "sitting in a chair and refusing to leave" to protest the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars. The 12-year-old girl sitting in a chair, during business hours, was a 'threat' -- apparently a clear and present danger. On top of that, Alex reports, the day after the arrest, police showed up to serve Frankie's mother Renee Espeland with a misdemeanor charge of "contributing to the delinquency of a minor."
Cindy Sheehan: Well one of my friends last night made an interesting observation. He said that the anti-war movement killed itself by supporting Barack Obama.
Elaine Brower: Yeah, that's-that's true. But I always think that from the beginning the anti-war movement was factionalized in a way that they were somehow supporting the Democrats. Like in 2006 we saw a lot of supposed anti-war groups going out heavily to tell people to vote for the Democrats. So I think it started long before Obama. And then with [George W.] Bush sort of as our -- the-the person that we really love to hate, he was still in power, so that gave the anti-war groups someone to challenge. But they would never challenge the Democrats in office like Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid and all the rest of them who really are, also, on the side of the US empire. And they have, you know, their hands in the pocket of the capitalist system. They never went against that and they allowed them to just keep funding the war and getting away with it. And then here comes Obama and further demobalizes the anti-war movement because most of them are Democrats. What we have to do is get away from the mentality that the Democrats are the saviors of us. We are the saviors.
Today, from an undisclosed location in DC, Tom Harkin, hiding out from 12-year-old girls whom he pictures seizing the motherland and imposing Twilight viewing mandates on all citizens, had the nerve to say of retiring Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens: "As one of our country's longest serving Justices, he has demonstrated an unabiding commitment to the rule of law and critical rights and liberties." What about Frankie's liberties, Harkin? What about her right to peacefully protest? Drake law professor Sally Frank told Tom Alex, "I think they are trying to put a scare into the peace movement." A 12-year-old, peacefully protesting, is arrested in Harkin's office (and her mother later charged) and he has the nerve, the same week, to speechify about "unabiding commitment to the rule of law and critical rights and liberties"?
Cindy Sheehan: Well, you know, I hate to use infantile terminology, but we're the boss of them, they're not the boss of us.
In December 2005, elections were held and it was approximately 4 months later before a prime minister was selected: Nouri al-Maliki. However, it wouldn't have taken that long if the US government had not rejected the first choice -- the choice of Iraq's elected representatives: Ibrahim al-Jaafari. Currently, four months is the standard because that's the only time the process has been implemented. Whether it will take four months this go round or less or more is unknown.

As noted last night, Ibrahim al-Jaafari is the choice of al-Sadr supporters. Last Friday and Saturday, Moqtada al-Sadr held a vote, open to all, to determine whom al-Sadr's bloc should support and the results were announced this week: al-Jaafari swept past everyone. (There were five candidates listed on the ballot -- included Allawi and al-Maliki -- and a sixth space for write-ins.) As pointed out last night, the announced decision to support al-Jaafari sends a message:

It may be a gambit on the part of al-Sadr, it may be for real. But it does send the message to Iraqis. That message is not, "Look at me." That message is: "The occupiers denied us al-Jafaari in 2006. We're still fighting for him, we're still fighting the occupation and we're still standing."

Khaled Farhan, Waleed Ibrahim, Ian Simpson and Elizabeth Fullerton (Reuters) reported this morning, that Moqtada al-Sadr issued a statement to his followers which was read today, the seventh anniversary of the fall of Baghdad to foreign forces, and warned that "the occupation and its advocates will stay in Iraq without fear [. . .] You, the Sunnis of Iraq, joined hands with the Shi'ites to lierate our country. Do not let the (U.S.) occupation or any unjust law made by it deter you from doing that." The statement was read at a demonstration of supporters (it was not read by Moqtada al-Sadr who was not present) and, AFP reports, was followed by a march where "Iraqi national flags [were held] aloft" and supporters shouted, "Yes, yes, Iraq, no, no occupation." Alsumaria TV notes "tens of thousands" marched in Najaf.
Scott Horton (Antiwar Radio) interviewed Dahr Jamail this week. They covered a number of topics and we'll note this section regarding the elections and the election aftermath:
Scott Horton: But as far as the narrative of: "Look an election! Isn't that great! The democratic process! Better than Saddam Hussein! He used to re-elect himself with 99%!" And, you know, here in this case, it looks like the current prime minister didn't even try or wasn't able to rig the election for himself effectively and all that. But at the same time, it seems like, the neocons are counting on the ignorance of the American people and because Chris Matthews only talks about what Republicans and Democrats say on Capitol Hill to each other, all day, for about two and a half hours, twice a day, or whatever, the American people don't really know anything about Iraq -- who's in power there, which different factions are doing this, that or the other thing. There might be a little bit of a mention of something but never any real context and so I remember back in 2005 when they did the election, that really -- with the El Salvador option -- helped precipitate the civil war by turning the whole country over to the Supreme Islamic Council and Moqtada al-Sadr basically and the Iraqi National Alliance. Even Jon Stewart was going, "Wow! Maybe George W. Bush was right. Look at this woman with purple ink on her finger. Maybe Iraq is a democracy now." Well, then another few 100,000 people got killed after that. Now we have another one of these. And it turns out Moqtada al-Sadr is the kingmaker and he's sitting in Tehran right now trying to figure out whether he wants to throw his weigh towards CIA agent-murderer [Ayad] Allawi or Revolutionary Guard Agent-murderer [Nouri al-] Maliki. And this is what the neocons and Newsweek are telling the American people, "Look! They've got ink on their fingers!" You don't have a narrative, you don't know who's who, you don't know who's winning or if one group takes power over this group what's that like, what consequences that's likely to have. None of this context is provided. "But, look, a woman with purple ink. We're actually, we're doing okay here, folks." That's why it works. Because the rest of the time they won't tell us about Iraq at all. Then when they say anything, they go, "Hey, look, a still shot. Make up your own 10,000 words.
Dahr Jamail: Well that's exactly right, Scott. And I think that's a really good description and analysis of how this has been perpetuated from the beginning where we have a corporate media that relies on the ignorance and-and a US government that relies on the ignorance of the American public. And, of course, the corporate media has been instrumental in ensuring that ignorance. I mean, we can go back to before the invasion took place and basically what people got on TV was a graphic of Saddam Hussein's head with a bulls eye on it. Or cross hairs. This kind of thing. You know: "This is all you need to know. You don't need to know that the CIA backed him in a coup that put him in a position of power in 1968. You don't need to know the US government supported him through his worst atrocities. You don't need to know that the US supported both Iraq and Iran during that brutal eight-year war that killed over a million people. You don't need to know these things. You don't need to know that we supported the twelve-and-a-half years of genocidal sanctions, that, oh yeah, according to Madeline Albright and the UN, killed over half-a-million Iraqi children. You don't need to know these things. You just need to know this is the bad guy and we're going to kill him and you're going to be safe and you can go shopping in that safety and rest assured that everything is just fine." And it's the same with these elections. You don't need to know that Maliki, even before the election results were released, when it became clear to him that he was not going to get the plurality, that he basically went to the Supreme Court in Iraq -- this is going to sound a little familiar to folks -- so he goes to the Supreme Court and basically has them change the rules of the game so that instead of whoever gets the plurality during the election can start forming their own government, instead he now has until June when the Parliament reconvenes to basically take out as many of Allawi's elected ministers of Parliament as possible. Because, basically, the last man standing in June when Parliament reconvenes, whoever has the most MPs, that is who is going to get to form the new cabinet. So conveniently Maliki's basically given himself two months to go out and hit as many of Allawi's people as possible. And that's exactly what he's done. So far, he's taken two of them into custody, charging them with terrorism. You know, everything's terrorism now, so he's charging them with terrorism. And one person is where abouts unknown. And then another MP in Allawi's list is in hiding. So already, he's at least made it even Steven and probably already taken the lead. And, of course, we have the Sadr wildcard which is a bit of another story but you described it well and all that I just described is-is against the backdrop of the context that both of these guys are US stooges and perhaps this is why Newsweek declares it a resounding success -- aside from just the propaganda value. But, "Hey, it's a resounding success because we have Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum as the two leading candidates in this election and, oh, guess what? The US created both these guys, put both these guys in the positions of power that they're in and they wouldn't exist without the US occupation in that country. And guess what? One of them's going to win, so the US is going to win either way." And maybe that's why Newsweek was so triumphant about their "Mission Accomplished" cover? And, oh yeah, it took a little longer because we didn't have that kind of a rigged deck in the last election but in this one, by golly, we do." But then, of course, things are a bit more complicated now because, as you said, we have Sadr who has had this -- I think it was a quite astute political move. He had a referendum vote, sort of an informal, unofficial vote among his followers and actually the vast majority of the people didn't choose Allawi or Malilki. They chose Ibrahim al-Jaafari who is the guy who was actually chosen as the first prime minister in Iraq in the wake of the 2005 elections --
Scott Horton: Now he's also a Dawa Party guy -- like Maliki -- but a different faction of Dawa they say, right?
Dahr Jamail: That's true and he is much less affiliated with the Americans and he's anti-occuption and that's exactly why the US decided to give him the boot and replace him with Maliki back in April of 2006. And so this is an interesting thing to see how this is going to play out. And, at the end of the day, shelve everything I just said for a moment, and think about the fact that, as usual as we've gone through this occupation, it's the Iraqi people paying the price for all of this nonsense, all of this US meddling, all of this US orchestrating, all of this propaganda. What is consistently lost in the mix is that even today, another day of 50 more Iraqis killed in a series of massive bombings across the capital city and that's just Baghdad. What I'm talking about? The rest of the country. We are back up to levels of violence and death on a daily basis starting about a week ago in Iraq that are comprable to the blood letting of 2006, 2007.
Scott Horton: Yeah and maybe now that we're in Democratic times, Darh, conservatives can maybe understand. It's no different than fighting over the school board. Is it going to be controlled by conservative Christians or is it going to be controled by secular humanists? And they fight like mad over who's going to control the school board. Well when you create a monopoly on power and then you have, you know, create a contest over who's going to hold that power -- well what do you think's going to happen? Especially after you decapitate the government, abolish the army and the party in power and set up a free for all here.
That's a sample of the interview. It's Friday. Normally we note The Diane Rehm Show on NPR. Not today. Despite Diane stating that she watched the video of the US assault of Iraqis on July 12, 2007 and finding it "pretty shocking" -- it wasn't important enough to be a topic. The show was nearly over and a caller had to bring it up. A caller. And on top of that, I don't play with this topic, I'll insult any individual journalist I want and call them a liar or a whore or whatever else. But I do have respect for the profession and for Diane to give the last word -- by her choice, by her decision -- to reading an attack on the two dead journalists? There's no excuse for that. Were the killings illegal? By US law that's a great deal to sort out and military law and military verdicts are never easy to interpret or predict. However, one thing the gas bagers keep forgetting is it goes beyond Rules of Engagement.
It goes beyond Rules of Engagement. The United Nations Security Council Resolution 1723 was the legal authority for all foreign troops (including US troops) operating on Iraqi soil. Now I know most gas bags never bothered to read the damn thing. I know that because the idiots turned around and started praising the SOFA -- idiots include Senator Tom Harken, to bring him back in -- as having a "withdrawal" date. But let's look at UNSCR 1723's first. It allows US forces to be on the ground at that time and it extends the rules outlined in the resolutions prior [1637 for 2005 which replaced 1546 for 2004], "reaffirms the authorization for the multinational forces as set forth in resolution 1546 (2004)". Key section of 1546 in this case is:
Noting the commitment of all forces promoting the maintenance of security and stability in Iraq to act in accordance with international law, including obligations under international humanitarian law, and to cooperate with relevant international organizations.
By statements of the the US government -- Democrats and Republicans -- that mandate is what made the occupation legal. Without it, US troops would have had to have left Iraq. This was addressed in depth in early April 2008 by the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee with all members -- Democrat and Republican -- in agreement on that fact. Without the UN resolution, US troops would have been subject to prosecution. So this continued bulls**t about "Rules Of Engagment" that keeps being touted by the STUPID IIDOTS damn well needs to stop. Rules Of Engagment applies only within the US military. I've stated from day one that the outcome under US military justice is unclear. (I do think, personal opinion, that those in the helicopters would not be held legally responsible by US military law due to the fact that they asked for and received go-aheads throughout the engagement.) But Rules of Engagement isn't the beginning and ending. And when these STUPID IDIOTS -- including ones Diane Rehm wants to allow the "last word" -- want to trash journalists or blame them for their deaths, I get offended. And so we will make the point that no one's bothered to make -- because as usual Stupid Idiots and gas bag journalists don't know the damn law -- Rules of Engagement is the lowest measurement, it is the least of the worries. It is nothing. It's akin to a dress code when it comes to the July 12, 2007 assault.
International law applies, international treaties. In the US, there are a number of people who have little respect for those and/or who feel that the US should never take them into consideration. That's their opinion and they can and should express it. But that opinion doesn't apply here because the UN authorization that gave the US forces the legal right to remain on the ground insisted that international law and treaties would be followed. By staying on the ground in Iraq throughout 2007, US military command agreed to every aspect of that resolution. Rules of Engagement? It's bulls**t and the least of the issues involved in this case.
And what's taking place isn't at all that different from what Little Miss Judy Miller 2010: Tom Bowman tried to pull this week. Namir Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh are dead. They worked for Reuters news agency. They were not terrorists. They were not embedded with terrorists. They were not "tagging along with mens with guns." They were reporters and they were present with the intent to do one of the most important jobs in the world. The two are now dead and spitting on their memory or blaming them for the deaths goes beyond unfeeling. You're not just insulting two dead people or the news media, you're insulting democracy. And maybe if you don't like democracy -- many people in the world prefer other systems of government -- that's fine. But be honest about it. If you do respect democracy, the most important thing in democracy is an informed citizenry. You will never have that without portions of the press who dare to do the job, who dare to believe that the work matters and that there are risks involved but the work matters.
Allowing for risks involved does not in anyway mitigate the deaths of those two men. It doesn't justify their deaths, it doesn't excuse their deaths. They're dead. And all the people thinking they're 'supporting' the US military by attacking these reporters are only infuriating people and fanning flames. Two reporters are dead. It's not minor. They were killed while they attempted to do their jobs. They were killed by the US military. There's not a justification for it. The first thing that needs to happen whenever discussing this story is acknowledging the very real loss that took place. Blaming those two dead men is disgraceful. And if you want to live in an authoritarian regime, you keep doing that. If you think blaming the two reporters is helpful, you better think again because it breeds a backlash and it will be a powerful one. The smart thing to do would have been for the US military spokesperson to immediately have issued an apology and acknowledged that the two reporters deaths. The brass could have called it a tragic accident or a horrible mistake. But they needed to acknowledge it. The fact that no acknowledgement came not only fed into the frenzy that leads to attacking the two dead reporters, it also revealed just how Bush-like the US government remains.
Reporters Without Borders is asking the US government for increased transparency after the whistleblower website WikiLeaks released a video on April 5th, 2010, of a US military Apache helicopter strike in Baghdad three years ago which killed two Reuters employees and several other people. Wikileaks said that it had obtained the video "from a number of military whistleblowers" and posted it at collateralmurder.org.

Reuters filed a FOIA request in for the video back in 2007 but it was never released.

According to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), all agencies of the U.S. Government are required to disclose records upon receiving a written request, except those records that are protected from disclosure pursuant to nine exemptions and three exclusions.

"We support Wikileaks decision to post the video because the administration did not live up to its responsibilities in this case," said Reporters Without Borders. "We urge the Pentagon to be more transparent and call on the Obama administration to show its committing to justice by reconsidering the request and officially releasing the video and other elements that would help the investigation".

"By not granting this FOIA request, the Obama administration would once again be ignoring its promises of more transparency and accountability" said the press freedom organization. "It would be a blow to freedom of the press and to the principle that it is not up to the government to define what is newsworthy."

According to the AFP, A US military official did not dispute the authenticity of the video but said it "doesn't give new information, it just gives footage. "Since 2007, we acknowledged everything that's in the video," the official said. "We acknowledged that the strike took place and that there were two Reuters employees (killed)." "We had insurgents and reporters in an area where US forces were about to be ambushed. At the time we weren't able to discern whether (the Reuters employees) were carrying cameras or weapons," the official said.

In July 2007, photographer Namir Noor-Eldeen, 22, and his driver, Saeed Chmagh, 40, were killed in east Baghdad by gunfire of unclear origin. Witnesses said a rocket was fired from a US helicopter. But other sources told Reuters they could have been killed by a mortar shell fired by Iraqi militia members. At the time Reporters Without Borders called on both the US army and the Iraqi police to investigate their deaths.

Since the beginning of the Iraq war, at least 221 journalists have been killed, making it the deadliest war for reporters.

On December 31, 2007, George W. Bush signed amendments to the FOIA into law, improving public access to information about federal government activity. However, at that time, 92 videos related to interrogations of Guantanamo Bay prisoners were destroyed and never made public despite a request from the ACLU.

On April 15th, 2010, the CIA will have to release documents detailing meetings between Nancy Pelosi and her aide Michael Sheeny on matters relating to "enhanced interrogation techniques". Reporters Without Borders deeply hope that the US agency will keep its word this time.

Turning to some of the violence reported today . . .
Bombings?
Reuters notes a Kirkuk rocket attack which left one person injured, a Baghdad roadside bombing which injured "a foriegn driver" and, dropping back to Thursday, a Mosul bombing which claimed 1 life and left one person wounded, a Ramadi roadside bombing which left two police officers wounded and two Falluja roadside bombings which left one person injured.
Shootings?
Reuters notes 2 police officers were shot dead in Kirkuk today and Interior Ministry Brigadier Fadhel Abbas was shot dead outside his home in Baghdad on Thursday.
In other violence information, BBC News reports that the Islamic State of Iraq has claimed credit for Sunday's Baghdad bombings targeting embassies and it states it was targeting the Iranian Embassy, the German Embassy and the Egyptian Embassy. German. At the time, there was confusion as to whether one of the bombings was targeting the German Embassy, the Spanish Embassy or the Syrian Embassy or all three. The group denied responsibility for Tuesday's apartment bombings in Baghdad. Bi Mingxin (Xinhua) adds, "The Islamic State of Iraq is reckoned as the most important Sunni insurgent group that is still active in Diyala and Baghdad. "
Turning to England. Matt Kennard (The Comment Factory) interviews British MP Clare Short in a wide-ranging discussion and we'll note the following on Iraq:
MK: I wanted to move on to the war. Do you have any regrets about your actions before or during the war?
CS: Well this question has been asked ten thousand times so it gets tedious I have to say. And I've written a book and said it all there, so you know. I said I would resign if we didn't have a UN resolution then Tony Blair entered into a big negotiation with me and said, "What will stop you?" I said, "Get me a UN resolution -- there's no imminent danger from anything Saddam Hussein's got, we should have made progress on Israel-Palestine peace before doing anything about Iraq. And, thirdly, if there is to be a war any reconstruction must be organised with international cooperation under a UN mandate."
So he then got Bush to say that he supported a Roadmap to the Israel-Palestinian peace and gave an absolute commitment and got Bush to say something about a UN lead on reconstruction. So it was two out of three. And then, also, Blair lied about the French position and the possibility of any UN resolution.
So I was in enormous torment and dilemma but I thought: 'I've got to harden to this'. It's a terrible mess but if there's an international reconstruction and if we really do make progress on Israel-Palestinian (under the Roadmap there should have been a full Palestinian state by 2005) the Middle East would be a lot better off. So I knew I wasn't doing anything to make myself popular -- I was well aware of that. But I thought that was the right thing to do. And the truth is that Tony was just lying in my face. I'm still shocked, you know, that the Prime Minister of Britain in the teeth of war will get the President of the United States to publicly say he will support the Roadmap -- which is, you know, two state on the '67 boundaries -- and they were just saying it to, you know, to keep me sweet for a bit. I mean it is stunning.
MK: Do you think he went into the war knowing it was illegal? Do you think it was illegal in the end?
CS: Well we now know the shenanigans that went on over the legal opinion. I mean I think, what I said in my book, I think Blair is a peculiar kind of man. I think he is fundamentally a presentational person and he is superb at presentation and he's very careful always to use language which leaves plenty of wriggle room and doesn't tie him down too firmly and that's what he is good at.
I don't think he is a person who looks at the merits and say, "Hmmm, we'll have to be untruthful about this." He thinks in presentational terms, he doesn't do detail and he doesn't think through merits. I mean that's what's terrifying about it. So I think he gave his word -- well we now know from the leaks -- really early on to Bush, therefore had no leverage and was really manipulating and misleading the House of Commons, the Cabinet, his party, the country, from then on.
He was kind of squirming about to get us to war come what may and obviously hoping he could get Bush to cooperate in a UN resolution. But it wasn't like using your leverage to say to America, "We'll be with you if we do it properly," and then working with the rest of the international community to say, "For Heaven's sake, let's all stand together and say we agree that sanctions in Iraq is imposing such suffering that we shouldn't leave it like this, Iraq needs resolving."
But if Britain had used that role of being friendly with America to talk to everyone else and then said, "On these sort of conditions, the rest of the world will act with you, America." That would have been a heroic role for Blair but he blew it by giving his word right at the beginning. And then engaging in all that he did. And look at Iraq now.
The issues at play are being discussed at the University of Kentucky: "The University of Kentucky's School of Journalism and Telecommunications, in cooperation with the University of Edinburgh's Centre for the Study of the Two World Wars, will be holding a conference on War, Journalism and History in Lexington, Kentucky April 8-11, 2010. The theme of the conference is 'Covering conflicts in the modern world.'" AP reports that their own Tom Curley offered a presentation Thursday night where he noted, "But the fact is that war coverage by a free and independent media with reasonable access to the battlefield forces policy makers to deal with the reality of what is happening on the ground instead of what they want the public -- or even Washington to think. Nowhere is truth more at risk -- or more elusive -- than in today's wars."
We'll note the conference schedule for tomorrow and Sunday and Molly Bingham and Steve Connors are among the journalists participating -- the two made the documentary Meeting Resistance.

Saturday, April 10 (Student Center Worsham Theater):

  • 10 a.m. – "Voice of the Veterans" – Veterans' views of media reporting. Yvonne McEwan moderating; Tony Dotson, UK Veterans Resource Center coordinator; British Veterans Agency representative TBA.
  • 11 a.m. – "First, Do No Harm" -- Media Ethics in Conflict Reporting – Terry Anderson moderating. Molly Bingham, John Walcott, Abderrahim Foukara, Jihad El-Zein
  • 12:30 p.m. – Lunch (not provided by conference; see list of local dining options)
  • 1:30 p.m. – Presentation by Joel Simon, Executive Director, Committee to Protect Journalists
  • 2:15 p.m. – Brian Hanna, journalist and Doctoral student, University of Edinburgh
  • 3:00 p.m. – "Covering Ourselves – A look from the outside" -- U.S. coverage of recent wars – Yvonne McEwen moderating. Robert Fisk, Simon Wilson, Abderrahim Foukara, Jihad El-Zein
  • 5:00 p.m. – Dr. Robert Fisk, journalist, London Independent newspaper

Sunday April 11 (Student Center, Center Theater):

  • 2:30 p.m. – "War in Film" -- Public roundtable discussion of films with Steve Zahn, Molly Bingham, Steve Connors, Dale Dye, Tom Lindlof
"Yes, folks, it's true," writes NOW on PBS executive producer John Siceloff, "NOW on PBS has come to the end of its broadcast run. The last episode will air on April 30, 2010. PBS announced last fall it was canceling NOW and providing funding for a new public affairs show called Need to Know." Click here for the rest of his essay. The program begins airing each week on Fridays on most PBS stations (check local listings) and this week they look at the economy:

The national economic disaster hit the city of Braddock Pennsylvania
like a wrecking ball. But Braddock Mayor John Fetterman -- dubbed
"America's Coolest Mayor" by The New York Times -- is taking very
unconventional approaches to reinventing the town and re-inspiring its
residents. Home to the nation's first A&P supermarket and Andrew
Carnegie's first steel mill, Braddock is being revitalized with new
youth and art programs, renovations of abandoned real estate, and bold
plans to attract artists and green industries.

On Friday, April 9 at 8:30 pm (check local listings), NOW sits down with
Mayor Fetterman to learn how the 6'8" 370-pound political novice is
trying to turn his town around, and if other devastated communities can
and should follow his large footsteps.



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 Charles Babington (AP), James Kitfield (National Journal), Doyle McManus (Los Angeles Times) and David Sanger (New York Times). Did you notice they're all men? Should we hold our breath as we wait for Gwen to feature an all female panel? Remember that the show podcasts in video and audio format -- and a number of people sign up for each (audio is thought to be so popular due to the fact that it downloads so much quicker). If you podcast the show, remember there is the Web Extra where Gwen and the guests weigh in on topics viewers e-mail about. And also remember that usually by Monday afternoon you can go to the show's website and stream it there (including Web Extra) as well as read the transcripts and more. Meanwhile Bonnie Erbe will sit down with Karen Czarnecki, Cari Dominguez, Kim Gandy and Andrea Pennington on the latest broadcast of PBS' To The Contrary to discuss the week's events. And at the website each week, there's an extra just for the web from the previous week's show and this week's it's on violence against women. it's on breast feeding. For the broadcast program, check local listings, on many stations, it begins airing tonight. And turning to broadcast TV, Sunday CBS' 60 Minutes:

Gotti
John Gotti, Jr. talks to Steve Kroft in his first extended television interview about growing up with an infamous father - convicted mafia boss John Gotti - whom he strove to please by living a life of crime but eventually betrayed by leaving that life. (This is a double-length segment.) | Watch Video


Discovery
The fossilized skull and bones found by a 9-yr-old boy on a fossil hunt with his scientist father are the discovery of a lifetime and may prove to be a new link in the human evolutionary chain. Bob Simon reports.


60 Minutes, Sunday, April 11, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

A What Named Linda

I had to listen to it, I won't link to it. Every day, Terry Gross becomes more Jerry Springer-ish. NPR's Fresh Air?

What is this show?

She had a 'former' skinhead on. I put that in air quotes because his answers didn't really reassure me. Not if you listened closely. Which Terry never does.

Instead let's talk about the White House.

Well the administration losing another lying mouth. Linda Douglass, whom Trina's covering tonight, so read her, the whore who pretended to be a journalist and then went to work for Bambi claiming this was a life changing event and she was sick of sitting on the sidelines and . . . She's leaving the administration. But the liar -- read Trina tonight! -- interviewed Barack's campaign manger David Plouffe in April 2008 and Trina found that while doing research. She offered me this remark David Plouffe made in the interview:

Now, listen, this is a heated contest. So our supporters, the Clinton supporters -- this question of will you vote for the other person in the election in the fall -- you know, there's hard feelings. So a lot of people are saying no, but we seem to forget history. There's always hard feelings, and then the party comes together. And I think everyone ought to take a deep breath here and understand that the Democratic nominee is going to get the majority of Democratic voters. The question is, who can do best with independents and moderate Republicans, and who can create the best dynamic for turnout. If Barack Obama is the Democratic nominee, I think turnout amongst African-Americans, turnout amongst all voters under 40, and our ability to register new voters is going to be a very important piece of the puzzle.

I'm a Green. But I actually would've voted for Hillary if she'd had the presidential nomination. Why? Because I did believe her.

I never believed Barack. Few political, left, African-Americans did if they did their research. You start to grasp "Black Right Now" Barry has always been fraudulent. And it wasn't that difficult to find those interviews -- such as his alumni interviews -- as late as 2000 where he'd be explaining he was bi-racial and not Black.

Hey, he is bi-racial. I agree with him.

But to win larger office, he suddenly became Black. For now.

But the point is, no, there is no healing. After all this time, there is no healing. Those men destroyed the Democratic Party and, even with the writing on the wall, they refuse to admit what they have done.

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

Thursday, April 8, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces two deaths, neighborhood raids take place in Baghdad (where's the press?), actions seen in the US military video WikiLeaks released continues to be debated, Iraq Veterans Against the War asks for your online vote, and more.

Today the
US military announced: "CONTINGENCY OPERATIONS BASE SPEICHER, Iraq -- Two United States Division - North Soldiers died of injuries sustained in combat operations while conducting a patrol in northern Iraq, April 7. Five other Soldiers were injured and evacuated to a military medical facility where they are currently being treated. The names of the deceased are being withheld pending notification of next of kin and release by the Department of Defense. The names of service members are announced through the U.S. Department of Defense official website at http://www.defenselink.mil/releases/. The announcements are made on the Web site no earlier than 24 hours after notification of the service member's primary next of kin. The incident is under investigation." The deaths bring the total number of US service members killed in the Iraq War to 4390. In all, three US service members have died in Iraq this week.

Namir Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh were two journalists for Reuters killed by US troops July 12, 2007.
Monday WikiLeaks released US military video of the assault. Today on Talk Of The Nation (NPR), Neal Conan spoke with Columbia Journalism Review's Clint Hendler. We'll note some background on WikiLeaks first.

Neal Conan: And how new is this organization [WikiLeaks] and what does it consist of

Clint Hendler: A couple of years old. Founded, I think, in 2006, 2007. What it consists of is a good question because it's a little -- they kind of run on the edge financially and personnel wise. There are two primary spokespeople. A man named Julian Assange, an Australian national, another man Daniel Schmitt, who's German. Assange has said that the prime group of people who really make WikiLeaks run are about five people or so and then there's an additional quadron of volunteers that they can bring in project to project to help them out with analysis and decription and what have you.

Neal Conan: Well we'll get to all of those in a minute. Who funds it?

Clint Hendler: That's a good question too. They take donations from online readers They also apparently have a group of more deep-poketed donors.

They took calls to get listeners reactions to the video.

Neal Conan: Reed, what did you learn from it?

Reed: What did I learn from the video?

Neal Conan: Yeah.

Reed: Well I guess I-I what I think mostly is how far we removed we are [from Iraq,] how far off our radar and basically how we've buried our heads in the sand and when something like this comes out, it's very clear that things are going on that we're not made aware of.

A caller from San Antonio took offense to Conan referring to the video as "disturbing" and Conan responded, "It is disturbing -- It is disturbing to see a group of men standing around -- and I believe that some of them were armed and I believe that some of them were journalist and, clearly, some of them were unarmed. I understand what the Rules of Engagement were at that time and they were operating within those Rules of Engagement and that it's difficult for us sitting here in Washington, DC or San Antonio, Texas to put ourselves in the postion of those men in the helicopter or know what the situation was with those US troops who were under fire not far away. Nevertheless, the loss of life is disturbing." At
Lens Blog (New York Times), Michael Kamber remembers Namir:


Namir made his name with harrowing photos of the insurgency in the northern city of Mosul in 2006, when it was among the most dangerous places in Iraq. His photo of a masked insurgent carrying a looted bulletproof vest marked "Police" in large letters, was one of the seminal images of the war -- a single photo that captured Iraq's descent into chaos and the inability of the Iraqi and American governments to protect resources, or pretty much anything else at that point. Namir repeatedly got to the scene of attacks while vehicles and buildings still billowed flames and bodies lay in the street. The danger in such coverage is hard to express in words: firefights broke out spontaneously, unseen snipers fired on civilians at will, insurgents killed journalists who they accused of working for the "Western invaders." And the American forces -- sometimes invisible a mile or more away -- fired through thermal sights at individuals they believed to be insurgents as they gathered around damaged coalition vehicles in the midst of a combat zone. Namir was 21 years old when he did his groundbreaking work in Mosul. By the age of 22, he had seen as much death as many hardened combat veterans. As threats against his life mounted -- from Iraqi insurgents unhappy with the truths his photos revealed -- Reuters moved him to Baghdad for his own security. There, he quickly became one of the most beloved members of the Reuters staff, a cheerful, funny, smart young man who loved motorcycles, staff members recall. On July 12, 2007, Namir set out with Saeed, his driver, to do a story on weightlifting. Hearing of nearby violence, he changed routes and went to the neighborhood of New Baghdad, where fighting was taking place.


Amnesty International issued the following today: The 39-minute video released on Monday by WikiLeaks, appears to show a helicopter gunsight video with an audio track of conversation among the crew opening fire on a group of men, two of whom appear to be armed, moving about a square in eastern Baghdad. It also shows further firing on a van which arrives, apparently to evacuate the wounded and the dead. Two children were wounded in the incident. Amnesty International Middle East and North Africa Director Malcolm Smart said:"This highly disturbing video appears to show that after the initial attack, US troops opened fire on people seeking to assist a wounded man, injuring two children, and killing several more people. "These troubling images can not be viewed or judged in isolation and must be put into the context of what else was happening in the vicinity. The US authorities must disclose any further information or footage that will shed light on this and they must conduct a proper investigation to determine whether US forces adhered to the rules of international humanitarian law and took necessary precautions to spare civilians." Amnesty is calling for the incidents depicted in the video to be independently investigated and for reparation, including compensation, to be made available to victims of violations of international humanitarian law. A US military investigation into the attack concluded that correct rules of engagement were followed, although those killed and injured included civilians.WikiLeaks said the men in the square included Reuters photographer Namir Noor-Eldeen, 22, and his assistant and driver Saeed Chmagh, 40, who were both killed in the incident. The only thing that will provide clarity to the confusion between what is shown on the video and the military's initial report is a new investigation. BBC News quotes Reuters' David Schlesinger stating, "I would welcome a thorough new investigation. Reuters from the start has called for transparency and an objective inquiry so that all can learn lessons from this tragedy." Last night, Adam Entous (Reuters) reported that CentCom was stating there were no "plans to reopen an investigation into" the assault. Michael Sheridan (New York Daily News) quotes CentCom spokersperson Jack Hanzlik stating on television yesterday, "The video only tells you a portion of the activity that was happening that day." Deutsche Welle offers a roundup of some press reactions including Berliner Zeitung ("The leaked WikiLeaks material shows bloodthirsty soldiers coldly pursuing their business.") and Sueddeutsche Zeitung ("There is only one word to describe what happened that day: murder."). Lauren Crothers (Toronto Star) notes, "War has become nothing more than a video game." At World Can't Wait, Elaine Brower wonders: "Why are these occurences such a 'shock' to those who are paying attention? Does anyone really think that these are unusual circumstances?" Benedict Carey (New York Times) notes some of the intercom comments made by US service members during the assault and reactions to it, including former military psychologist Bret A. Moore who states, "You don't want combat soldiers to be foolish or to jump the gun, but their job is to destroy the enemy, and one way they're able to do that is to see it as a game, so that the people don't seem real." Laura Essig (True/Slant) terms Carey's article an "apologia" and states that she "must weigh in on the utter and complete lack of journalistic integrity at the Times." Among the radio programs covering the story is The Takeaway (we'll note another radio program tomorrow that we don't have room for today) which today offered responses from their listeners.


Caller: This is Tim, in New Beford, Mass. The United States media has a responsibility to show military confrontations in their entirety. and you can't make decisions about United States' policy in other countries unless you have the entire truth. The media has to show these kinds of videos.

In addition to listeners reactions, Takeaway producer Noel King spoke with Centcom which provided multiple photos they said showed weapons at the scene but in only one image could King make out an image. Request for further supporting evidence was met with the assertion that they couldn't release anything else, that photos which would offer stronger proof had been redacted, etc. For those whom streaming doesn't beneift, King has written up her interaction with CentCom
here. Dahr Jamail will cover tomorrow, in terms of radio. But click here for his (text) report regarding the US military video. I meant to include Dahr's upcoming speaking events last week and there wasn't space. So we'll put his radio discussion of the military video on hold and note them here. The first event on the list is tomorrow evening, so I really can't push it back another day and into another snapshot:


Santa Fe, NMApril 9, 2010 -- 6:30 pm WELCOME TO HELL Life Under Siege in Gaza MOHAMMED OMER Award-winning independent journalist from the Gaza Strip, and author of the Rafah Today blog Followed by a conversation withDAHR JAMAIL Journalist,author and co-recipient with Mohammed of the 2008 Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism Unitarian Congregation 107 West Barcelona Rd Santa Fe, NM Suggested Donation $5 Sponsored by Another Jewish Voice Santa Fe and the Middle East Peace and Justice Alliance Endorsed by Veterans for Peace Santa Fe Chapter, Santa Fe Women in Black----Portland, Oregon April 10, 2010– 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility Annual Awards Dinner 2010 with Keynote Speaker, Dahr Jamail Independent Journalist, author of Beyond the Green Zone: Dispatches from an Unembedded Journalist in Occupied Iraq and The Will to Resist: Soldiers Who Refuse to Fight in Iraq and Afghanistan Honoring the High School Student Winners of the Greenfield Peace Writing Contest Music by Retta and the Smart Fellas The Oregon Zoo 4001 SW Canyon Road Portland, Oregon Please RSVP by March 26th To purchase by check, or for more information including how to place a congratulatory message or ad in the keepsake book, become a table captain or sponsor of the event, contact Kelly Campbell at 503-274-2720. ----Moscow, Idaho April 29, 2010 -- 7:00 pm to9:00 pm Kenworthy Performing Arts Center 508 S. Main St., Moscow, Idaho Empire, Occupation, Resistance, and Independent Media:A Fund Raiser for Radio Free Moscow with Dahr JamailSnacks and drinks served.**
Dahr Jamail's MidEast Dispatches **** Visit Dahr Jamail's website http://dahrjamailiraq.com/ **Dahr Jamail's new book, The Will to Resist: Soldiers Who Refuse to Fight in Iraq and Afghanistan, is now available.Order the book here http://tinyurl.com/cnlgyuAs one of the first and few unembedded Western journalists to report the truth about how the United States has destroyed, not liberated, Iraqi society in his book Beyond the Green Zone, Jamail now investigates the under-reported but growing antiwar resistance of American GIs. Gathering the stories of these courageous men and women, Jamail shows us that far from "supporting our troops," politicians have betrayed them at every turn. Finally, Jamail shows us that the true heroes of the criminal tragedy of the Iraq War are those brave enough to say no. Order Beyond the Green Zonehttp://dahrjamailiraq.com/bookpage "International journalism at its best." --Stephen Kinzer, former bureau chief, New York Times; author All the Shah's MenWinner of the 2008 Martha Gellhorn Award for Journalism

If you attend any of the events, you can be sure Dahr will be discussing the WikiLeaks story at some point in the exchange.

Elections were held March 7th and today the attempts at creating a power-sharing coalition presumably continue.
Simon Jenkins (Guardian) notes that the West at least exported elections to Iraq and Afghanistan, if nothing else, and:

For the time being, Baghdad's government has been in abeyance. The Sunni militias, reportedly backed by al‑Qaida, have returned to the streets, and the death rate is again soaring. Kurdistan is all but a separate country, and the odds are on the Sunnis being forced back into a semi-autonomous region. Tens of thousands of Iraqis have died and millions been driven from their homes – including almost all Iraq's ancient population of Christians. The import of democracy has so far just inflamed local tension and fuelled fundamentalism. Like precious porcelain, elections were exported without instructions on their care. In the absence of adequate security, they are little more than tribal plebiscites.

But what is going on in Baghdad?
An Iraqi correspondent for McClatchy Newspapers reports neighborhood raids at Inside Iraq as she details attempting to get home after work on Tuesday where her two children are. She encounters masked men at one check point and they refuse to let her pass. She encounters another checkpoint at the other entrance and the same refusal. But, she's told, if she really lives in the neighborhood, she'll know a third way in. That's apparently driving through a school parking lot which she attempts but is stopped and surrounded. Finally, she's told she can enter that way . . . on foot. She'll need to park her car in someone's garage or it will be mistaken for a car containing a bomb. After doing that and taking a cab back to the school, she's allowed to proceed on foot, arriving home, finally, at 8:45 p.m. That's Tuesday. She wakes up Wednesday and:

As I started to walk out my house, a soldier at the far end of the road indicated to me to go back inside. I knew then that it was a raid and search operation, and that the search was the next step. Indeed, as the day progressed it became evident that a military convoy was conducting a search. They knocked on the door, we let them in. They asked if we had weapons, searched the rooms and asked how many people lived in the house. "Three" For some reason, that bothered them. "Only three?? You and your two children? That's all? No-one else? Only you three???"
A little more than 15 minutes later they moved on. But for 24 hours, since the evening before, we had absolutely no phone-net coverage. And the other thing is that although there were a few Americans with the convoy, they did not seem to be leading, and they did not participate in the search.
Today, I found out that our neighbourhood wasn't the only one being searched. Mansour and Yarmouk witnessed searches and some detentions; and farther west, Abu Ghraib district witnessed the detention of hundreds of young men.
Is this a security operation based on sound intelligence -- or a blind lash-out as a reaction to the bombings in the last few days -- a futile attempt to quell the outcry against bad security..

As Nouri's forces have imprisoned some political opponents causing others to go into hiding, why are search missions taking place in Baghdad and why is it that her report is the first time it's being reported?


NPR's Deborah Amos is the author of the just released
Eclipse of the Sunnis: Power, Exile, and Upheaval in the Middle East. Her book addresses the refugee population and notes early on (introduction): "An estimated 60 percent of the refugees are Sunni Arabs. Fifteen percent are Iraqi Christians. Secular Shiites, Mandaeans, Yazidis and Kurds are adrift, too, the losers in a brutal civil war that sealed the power of Shiite nationalists." Further into the book, she writes:The collapse of multicultural Iraq had begun with the Christians. The first indications of the politics of displacement came not with the Sunnis but with the oldest community in Iraq, the Christians: Their experience of persecution, which began almost immediately after the U.S. invasion, was a model for the much larger Sunni crisis that would follow.
[. . .]
Many Iraqi Christians had supported that invasion and hoped life might improve for them with the colapse of the Baath regime. But with the rise of militant Islam in Iraq, Christians were more directly associated with the hated West and therefore linked to the American presence. They became particular targets. It did not help that the muscular American evangelical movement arrived in Iraq Along with American tanks. Samaritan's Purse, the global relief organization led by the Reverend Franklin Graham, who called Islam an "evil and wicked" religion, mobilized missionaries and relief supplied in the months after the invasion, which in turn mobilized Islamists to target Iraqi Christians.
As a result, Iraq's Christians were among the first to leave after Saddam's deposition. Their departure was the beginning of the cleansing of Iraq's historically diverse sectarian landscape. Some fo the wealthiest Christian families crossed the borders within months of the arrival of American troops, and even more packed up after churches across the country were firebombed in coordinated attacks in 2004. Iraq's Christian exiles expected to qualify more easily for resettlement in the West and they could count on temporary shelter in the established Chrstian communities in the Middle East in Lebanon, Jordan, and Syria.
But the resettlment process was agonizingly slow and the long wait was taking a toll. On a winter morning in Damascus, the basement kitchen of Ibrahim Khalil Church had been turned into a feeding center for Iraqi Christians sliding into destitution. Three times a week, stern Syrian nuns in stiff white habits ladled out fragrant lamb and rice from large aluminum pots. The church also opened a free medical clinic with volunteer Syrian doctors who doled out medicine for many chronically ill Iraqis who could no longer afford private care. Counseling for the vast number of rape cases and services for trauma victims, especially children, were very limited, but these were the only services available.
More than a hundred bedraggled Iraqis, most of them women, silently inched up the food line, their pans and plastic containers ready for a hot handout that was a welcome addition to a survival diet of bread and heavily sugared tea. Some told me, quietly, that their husbands had worked as translators for the U.S. military and had to leave the country when the family was threatened by neighborhood militias. They had packed quickly. Most said they had exhausted the family savings and now depended on food handouts. Muslims were welcome here, too. The common denominators were hunger and humiliation for people who had been part of Baghdad's middle class, which had considered itself the Arab world's urban elite.

Staying with the refugee population, Tuesday BBC Radio 4 aired Iraq's Forgotten Conflict, a news special from Edward Stourton on the religious minorities in Iraq. (You have four more days to access it.
Click here and scroll down to the bottom of the page.) Stourton notes that there are now 8 Jews in all of Iraq. Jews are not the focus of the special -- and that's their only mention -- but Christians, Yazidis and Mandaens. Because we've focused less on the Mandaens over the years, we'll emphasize them from the documentary.

Edward Stourton: Christianity isn't the only religion that flourished in Iraq during that period. A group called the Mandaens put down roots too. The Mandaens believe that John the Baptist was the last of the prophets. They see themselves as Christianity's close cousins and, like Iraq's Christians, they've been targeted since the invasion. Salman Sada is one of the Mandaens who, again, like so many Christians, have taken safety in the refuge of Erbil.

Salman Sada: Mandaens have suffered as a targeted people. And they have suffered from killing and persecutions and kidnaps. And for that they escape and flee out of Iraq, most of them, to Syria and Jordan. And they have immigrate to third countries such as UK, Sweden, Germany, Holland, Australia, America, Canada.

Edward Stourton: How many of the Mandaens have left and how many remain in the country?

Salman Sada: Less than 5,000 remain inside Iraq. 85% of community are either refugee or are seeking refugee [status].

Edward Stourton: Do you think the Mandaens will survive in Iraq?

Salman Sada: I doubt it.

Edward Stourton: In Baghdad, I met the second most senior priest in the Mandaen hierarchy, Sheikh Alaa, and he explained to me why members of the religion are so vulnerable in today's Iraq.

Edward Stourton: Can you explain to me the Mandaen view of violence?

Sheikh Alaa: [Translated] The Mandaens always emphasize on peace and peaceful living in society. We are absolutely opposed and against any acts of violence against a fellow human being of whatever sect or religion.

Edward Stourton: So, to be clear, it's forbidden to use any sort of violence even in an army or something of that kind? You can't carry weapons, you can't perform any kind of violence at all, is that right? You're pacificists.

Sheikh Alaa: We cannot. But for compulsary service -- and there you will be executed in the dictatorship if not. But our religion forbids carrying arms and using acts of violence. Especially when it comes to unjustified wars. The truth -- not necessarily all with you, or all with me -- it could be somewhere in the middle. Thus there's always a dialogue and keeping bridges of communications.

Edward Stourton: Tell me what's happened to Mandeans since the invasion of 2003 because they've had many difficulties, haven't they?

Sheikh Alaa: This exodus and fleeing of the country -- this has caused us a lot of difficulties. This has led to the diminishing numbers of Mandaens in Iraq which is heart breaking. But we have felt marginalized in Iraq. We felt being set aside. Despite all the sacrifices and our role in society which has been an honorable role throughout. Only three days ago, a very honorable and [. . .] gentleman was a goldsmith in an area in Saydiyah in central Baghdad was murdered in and all of his belongings were stolen. The occurence of these criminal acts -- there are tens and hundreds of other examples in there. These are robberies which very few follow up in catching the perpetrator. Moreover in each and every single incidnet of such heinious attacks, the families of the victims were threatened not to pursue any legal action.

Edward Stourton: The Mandaens perform all their religious rites in water and they're required to go through a new river baptisim every Sunday. It's one thing to do that in southern Iraq, quite another to do that in Sweden where so many of them have fled. The group leaders feel their traditions will simply get lost in the diaspora life. Dr. Layla al Roomi is campaigning to attract international attention to the plight of the Mandaens, fearing that the religion really could soon become extinct. She's been interviewing exiled Mandaens about what drove them away from their historical home.
Dr. Layla al Roomi: Women told me their stories, that were raped. A woman who was raped by four men, all night alone with her husband watching, for no reason other than being a Mandaen. She's not covering her hair because we don't cover our hair. She was wearing jeans, they told her. So for this 'reason,' that gave them 'the right' to go and rape her. She was pregnant. She lost the baby. She is traumatized. I saw a 17-year-old boy who was in an art college. Some of his colleagues abducted him. They circumsized him by force without any anesthetic. Because the Mandean religion prohibits circumsion. And to become a Muslim, you have to be circumcized. They were reading part of the Suras from the Koran on his head while he was forced with two men to his arms and legs and circumsized that way. The Mandean feel it is targeted. The Christians feel it is targeted. The reason why it is targeted is that some of al Qaeda have sworn that Iraq will become an entirely Muslim country and that they will rid Iraq of what they call the "infidel." And the first infadel are the Mandean.


Online currently, a $25,000 grant is up for grabs and the winner will be decided by the number of online votes.
Iraq Veterans Against the War notes:

Warrior Writers Project is applying for a $25,000 grant from the Pepsi Refresh program and we need your vote!
Starting April 1, Pepsi will post all the proposals it has received so the public can
vote.
The top ten proposals in the $25,000 range win. Grants will be used to fund three 2010 Warrior Writers retreats for veterans throughout the country, so vote early and vote every day!
If you are really motivated to help, plan an event or house party so you can get people to vote. All you need is a laptop and friends willing to offer their votes.
At every event you attend/organize in April, please make this announcement and set up a laptop to ask folks to
vote for us. We can do this!!
(IVAW is the fiscal sponsor of the Warrior Writers Project. Application for this grant does not constitute endorsement of the Pepsi Cola Corporation or any of its products.)

"Yes, folks, it's true,"
writes NOW on PBS executive producer John Siceloff, "NOW on PBS has come to the end of its broadcast run. The last episode will air on April 30, 2010. PBS announced last fall it was canceling NOW and providing funding for a new public affairs show called Need to Know." Click here for the rest of his essay. The program begins airing each week on Fridays on most PBS stations (check local listings) and this week they look at the economy:
The national economic disaster hit the city of Braddock Pennsylvania like a wrecking ball. But Braddock Mayor John Fetterman -- dubbed "America's Coolest Mayor" by The New York Times -- is taking very unconventional approaches to reinventing the town and re-inspiring its residents. Home to the nation's first A&P supermarket and Andrew Carnegie's first steel mill, Braddock is being revitalized with new youth and art programs, renovations of abandoned real estate, and bold plans to attract artists and green industries. On Friday, April 9 at 8:30 pm (check local listings), NOW sits down with Mayor Fetterman to learn how the 6'8" 370-pound political novice is trying to turn his town around, and if other devastated communities can and should follow his large footsteps.



iraq
the new york timesmichael kamberbbc newsbenedict careyreutersadam entousthe new york daily newsmichael sheridan
the toronto starlauren crothersthe world cant waitelaine brower
dahr jamail
deborah amos
edward stourtonbbc news
pbsnow on pbs

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The strange Matt Damon

Terry Gross wasted everyone's time yesterday. I'm not going to dignify that crap with a link or summary.

Instead we can laugh at Matt Damon and his attempts to present a certain image. For example:

Matt Damon Goes Sports-Mad!
Showbiz Spy - ‎13 hours ago‎
MATT Damon is more than just a little bit excited about the start of the new baseball season! The actor — who raises daughters Isabella, 3, and 18-month-old ...


A grown man, 40-ish, who has to make a to-do about baseball season? Seems he has some issues he needs to present in the light of day.


Matt Damon will be on '30 Rock'
Boston Globe (blog) - Matthew Gilbert - ‎Apr 2, 2010‎
Our own Matt Damon is going to make a TV appearance this spring on "30 Rock." He will play a love interest for Tina Fey's Liz Lemon, and he may be on more ...
Gold Derby nuggets: Matt Damon guesting on '30 Rock' 'Law & Order' updates ... Los Angeles Times
'30 Rock' exclusive: Tina Fey snags Matt Damon Entertainment Weekly
Matt Damon goes 'Rock' steady Boston Herald
TheCelebrityCafe.com - Bleeding Edge TV
all 81 news articles »

With his career in the toilet, it's time for Matt Damon to hope TV can pull him out. Then again, since no one watches 30 Rock, his guest spot won't be seen.

Matt's made one awful movie after another and it turns out he had a chance at starring in a real hit:

Matt Damon's Hollywood Wish: To Work With James Cameron
FOXNews - George Christy - ‎Apr 2, 2010‎
Matt Damon reveals that he “almost” starred in Avatar as the paraplegic marine Jake Sully, before newcomer Sam Worthington was cast in this pivotal role. ...
Matt Damon nearly starred in 'Avatar' (PHOTOS) Gather.com
Matt Damon wants to work with James Cameron Hindustan Times
Matt Damon Wants to Work With James Cam

You know he's got to wake up every morning kicking himself over that one. Ha!

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

Wednesday, April 7, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, Moqtada al-Sadr supporters know who they want for prime minister, Baghdad Airport is shut down, a US service member's body returns to the US (where service members and veterans face the recession), calls mount for a new investigation into the July 12, 2007 assault on Iraqis, and more.

Amnesty International issued the following today:

Amnesty International has condemned the killings of over 100 Iraqi civilians in suicide bomb and other attacks mounted by armed groups in and around Baghdad in the last week. Hundreds were injured in the attacks, some of which appear to have targeted civilians and to have been intended to cause maximum loss of life. "Most of these attacks targeted civilians directly and therefore constitute war crimes," said Malcolm Smart, Director of Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa Programme. "If the attacks are part of a widespread or systematic attack on the civilian population in Iraq in furtherance of a particular organization or armed group's policy, they also constitute crimes against humanity." "War crimes and crimes against humanity are among the most serious crimes under international law. These attacks must be stopped immediately and those responsible must be brought to justice." Coordinated bomb attacks in several Baghdad districts on Tuesday destroyed seven apartment buildings and left at least 35 people, possibly all civilians, dead and more than 140 other people injured. On Monday, a Shi'a couple and four of their children were assassinated in their house outside Baghdad. Three suicide car bomb attacks on Sunday targeted the Iranian, German and Egyptian embassies in Baghdad and resulted in the killing of at least 41 people. More than 200 others were injured. On Friday, armed men attacked a pre-dominantly Sunni village, south of Baghdad killing 24 people. No armed group has claimed responsibility for any of the attacks, but Iraqi politicians have attributed at least some of them to al-Qa'ida in Iraq and its allies. This latest upsurge in violence appears to be exploiting the political vacuum that now exists in Iraq as leaders of the major political groups have so far failed to garner enough support to form a government following the 7 March elections which did not produce a clear winner. "Deliberate attacks on civilians can never be justified," said Malcolm Smart."Those perpetrating such attacks must desist from such crimes. They must be brought to justice but without resort to the death penalty; use of the death penalty serves only to further brutalize Iraqi society."


So much violence and yet so little TV coverage. Yesterday, three commercial, broadcast networks served up their evening news casts. Two reduced the violence to a brief headline, the third offered even less.
ABC World News with Diane Sawyer went with headline.
Diane Sawyer: And in Iraq, a day of devastating violence across Baghdad. A series of seven bombs tore through apartment buildings in the city, another blew up a market, killing at least 50 people, injuring more than 180. US and Iraqi officials blamed today's bombing spree on al Qaeda insurgents, saying the attacks were carefully coordinated and took time to plan with terrorists renting apartments to plant the bombs. As did
NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams :
Brian Williams: We turn to other news overseas tonight, this has been an another violent day in Iraq and this time there was a new tactic: Bombs planted in apartments. At least seven bombs exploded at apartment buildings across Baghdad, another one exploded at a market. In all, at least 50 people were killed, nearly 200 wounded. This was the latest in what many worry was a new wave of violence in the capital city. On the
CBS Evening News with Katie Couric, Harry Smith and Maggie Rodriguez filled in for Katie and Iraq didn't interest them so they skipped the story but did make time for a wordy, touchy-feely, free-association 'essay' from Smith which began, "Spring is a time of renewal." It never got any better or deeper than that. On The News Hour (PBS -- link has video, audio and transcript), Gwen Ifill spoke with the New York Times' Rod Nordland about yesterday's violence for nearly six minutes, including raising the issue of the March 7th elections:


GWEN IFILL: Is there any way to know whether there's any connection between these attacks, this latest spurt of attacks, and the -- the political upheaval we have seen with the outcome of the most recent elections?

ROD NORDLAND: Well, we can only assume that -- that, with the government and the politicians in -- in the middle of intense negotiations now at putting together a coalition that can rule the country after the elections, that these attacks are timed to coincide with that, and to have some sort of effect on that process, or at least to attempt to do so. What's -- what's very striking, though, is that, despite the attacks and despite the way they have practically paralyzed the city, because they have been -- they were so widespread, despite that, high-level meetings have continued to go on at a very rapid pace.

On
Morning Edition (NPR) today, host Steve Inskeep spoke with correspondent Quil Lawrence who expressed the believe that the violence might be an attempt of "pushing Iraqis back toward the sectarian violence that we saw that nearly took the country apart in 2006, 07 and 08."

Steve Inskeep: [. . .] But we mentioned that there is no -- They have no political bosses. There is no formal government that has been formed. Is the violence affecting the effort to actually form a coalition that can rule Baghdad and rule Iraq?

Quil Lawrence: I have to say, talking to political leaders, they don't seem concerned by it. Many of these people were resistance fighters for so many years. They seeem to take this violence in stridge. I think the violence seems to be more of a filling in this gap, this lame duck caretaker government for the next bunch of weeks and months. The place it might come to a crunch is if this level of violence we saw this week continues and the government has to take some sort of decisive action, something verging on martial law. Well -- the question would be, "What legitimacy does this government have?" Several hundred of the Parliamentarians were voted out in this last election. Only 62 remain of the incumbents. It's possible that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki won't return to office. And if he starts having to take very strong and decisive measures again, there might be serious questions about legitmacy and that could really stoke some of these underlying tensions.

Today on All Things Considered (NPR), Quil Lawrence spoke with, among others, Cameron Munter who serves in the US Embassy in Baghdad.

Quil Lawrence: And while the negotiations are fierce over building a governing coaltion, Munter says the violence is not intimidating Iraq's politicians either.

Cameron Munter: We don't see that they're having an impact on the leadership of the country to move ahead on government formation and indeed we don't think it's had an impact on the people of the country moving ahead towards their commitment towards a better future.

Lawrence reported that while no coalition-sharing arrangement had been reached yet, "The two leading candidates [for prime minister] -- Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and former Prime Minsiter Ayad Allawi -- condemned the bombings and in some ways they both remain in campaign mode. Maliki announced what he said would be a doubling of security in Baghdad and Allawi announced a blood drive and gave a press statement while donating." Nouri's 'increased' security may include closures.
AFP reports that no one is talking as to why Baghdad International Airport was shut down today. Tom King (text) and Christiane Amanpour (video -- CNN) report on Allawi's statements that Iran is interfering with the process with Allawi stating that the Iranian government has now extended an invitation to his political slate to visit. And while all eyes are on the Sadr bloc, Scott Peterson and Alice Fordham (Chrisian Science Monitor) remind there's another group which has been dubbed "kingmakers:"

Kurdish parties, which won more than 50 seats, likewise have issues with Maliki's forays against Kurdish peshmerga, or militia, and are worried about both men's strong Iraqi nationalism.
Maliki's "overt threat of violence if he doesn't get his own way has alienated even more the people who would need to back him" in a coalition government, says Mr. Dodge. But Dodge is also unsure that Allawi has matured as a leader since getting bumped out in 2005. "I'm yet to be convinced that he has the modesty and diplomatic skills to form a working coalition."


Staying with ambassadors,
Laura Rozen (Politico) highlights an interview her outlet's Zeeshan Aleem did with the Iraqi Ambassador to the US, Sami Sumaida'ie:


POLITICO: Muqtada al-Sadr -- the vehemently anti-occupation Shiite cleric -- held an informal intraparty referendum during the weekend. Having won 39 seats in parliament, his party represents a valuable voting bloc. Both outgoing Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi are competing to head the next government that an alliance with Sadr is so critical that the cleric is
now seen as a kingmaker.

Sumaida'ie: Al-Sadr's party is now completely within the political process -- that represents a huge step forward. We don't mind them holding any views, provided they fight for them inside parliament and not in the streets using guns.

POLITICO: Given al-Sadr's aggressive stance against the occupation, might he impact the future of Iraqi relations with the U.S.?

Sumaida'ie: The Sadrists are resigned to the fact that the Americans are there according to an agreement signed with the Iraqi government. . . . The Sadrists know the realities of the situation; their stance is more populist than real.
That interview took place Monday and while there is no coalition-sharing government/arrangement as yet from the March 7th elections, Friday and Saturday, another round of elections were held -- this to determine whom the Sadr bloc should back. Moqtada al-Sadr's bloc won 40 seats in the Parliament.
Kadhim Ajrash and Caroline Alexander (Bloomberg News) report that Ibrahim al-Jaafari "won 24 percent of the 428,000 ballots cast in the internal referendum, ahead of al-Sadr's second cousin, Jafar Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr, who obtained 23 percent, Sadrist spokesman Salah al-Ubaidi said today in the southern city of Najaf." Al Jazeera notes that Nouri al-Maliki received 10$ of the vote and Ayad Allawi 9%. The US military invaded Iraq in March 2003 (and still hasn't left). Following the invasion, Ayad Allawi became Iraq's first prime minister, Ibrahim al-Jaafari became the second and Nouri al-Maliki became the third. It's a little more complicated. Nouri wasn't wanted, Nouri wasn't chosen. Following the December 2005 elections, coalition building took place and the choice for prime minister was al-Jaafari. But the US government refused to allow him to continue as prime minister. The Bush administration was adamant that he would not continue and faulted him for, among other things, delays in the privatization of Iraq's oil. Though the US had no Parliamentary vote, they got their way and Nouri became the prime minister. al-Jaafari had won the vote with the backing of al-Sadr's bloc, just as he won the vote that took place this weekend. The vote can be seen as (a) a show of support for al-Jaafari whom Sadarists have long supported and (b) a message to the US government.

An Iraqi correspondent for McClatchy Newspapers explained (at Inside Iraq) that terror acts as a strong recruiting tool:

Unemployment is one of the sources of terror in Iraq. Militias and insurgents' groups depend basically on unemployed people using them to achieve their aims. May be the young man I saw was lucky to survive from both insurgents groups and death but other are not. in spite of the promises made by all the government to improve Iraqis lives and provide work opportunities, nothing really big had been achieved on ground until now. That means more easy tools for insurgents groups and militias will be provided which means more violence and more bloody days.

This as
Jim Loney and Paul Taylor (Reuters) report Iraqi "forces arrested 13 suspects" in the Friday night/Saturday morning assualt on Sahwa and as Reuters reports a teenage boy with a vest full of explosives was arrested in Amiriya Monday. Turning to some of today's violence, Reuters notes a Baghdad bombing "inside a funeral tent" which wounded four people and, dropping back to yesterday, 1 taxi driver was shot dead in Mosul and 1 corpse (also shot dead) was discovered in Mosul.

On violence,
Monday WikiLeaks released US military video of a July 12, 2007 assault on Iraqis by the US military. On The World (PRI) today, Marco Werman explored the subject:

Marco Werman: Even when the rules of engagement are crystal clear, things can go terribly wrong. That's what happened three years ago in Iraq. A video of the event, a 2007 US assault in Baghdad is circulating on the internet. It's graphic and violent. Soldiers in a US Army helicopter shot and killed 12 people including two employees of the Reuters news agency. Because of the video, the incident has received renewed attention in the past few days and has renewed questions both outside and within the Pentagon. And of course it's being seen by many outside of the US. Matthew Baum is [Marvin] Kalb Professor of Global Communications at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. Baum says the video will be useful propaganda for terrorists but he doesn't believe it will cause a political firestorm.

Matthew Baum: It's not as clear to me that this is going to have the sort of impact say that the Abu Ghraib images had which came out in much closer to real time while the Iraq conflict was still quite hot and while global attention was focused much more heavily on Iraq than is the case today and certainly within the United States where attention was much more focused on Iraq than it is today.

Marco Werman: Well maybe you can elaborate on that because this video was shot in 2007, Abu Ghraib the shots came out almost in real time -- what's the difference in the time delay? Why wouldn't this have the same effect that Abu Ghraib had?

Matthew Baum: It's not the time delay per se, it's that this is coming out at a period where basically American opinion, American attention, world attention has pretty much moved on from Iraq. Iraq is no longer the story that it once was in terms of salience. It may still be very much in flux in terms of how the situation in Iraq is ultimately going to play out but it is clearly not the center of international attention that it was, say, at the time that the Abu Ghraib images came out. So you just have a less receptive audience than you would have had at that time by virtue of the fact that people aren't paying that much attention to Iraq anymore.

David Rising (AP) reports that the Iraqi Journalists Union is calling for Iraq to open an investigation into the assault. Reuters notes that the US military is looking at the video and determining whether or not to launch a new investigation. Timothy Hsia (New York Times) offers some reactions he's found online at US military blogs. Debra Sweet (World Can't Wait) states, "We need to know what is being done in our name, as hard as this is to watch. This leaked combat documentation does not show an aberration, but routine disregard for the rules of engagement." Today the International Federation of Journalists issued the following statement:

The International Federation of Journalists today called on President Barack Obama to open a fresh investigation into the actions of the United States army which has been implicated in killings of journalists in Iraq following the release of a shocking video film of a helicopter gunship attack on civilians including two media staff in 2007.
"This is evidence of calculated, cold-blooded and horrifying violence," said Jim Boumelha, IFJ President. "The United States cannot ignore this atrocity and the killings of unarmed civilians. We insist on a completely new review of these and all the killings of journalists and media staff in the Iraq conflict."
The incident was filmed from an Apache helicopter by soldiers and shows an attack carried out in the Iraqi suburb of New Baghdad in July 2007. The news agency Reuters has been trying unsuccessfully to obtain the video through the Freedom of Information Act because two of its employees -- Photographer Namir Noor-Eldeen and driver Saeed Cmagh -- were among the victims. The video shows horrifying clear footage of the initial attack and then further shooting at people trying to rescue the wounded.
The controversial film was released by WikiLeaks and reignites the controversy over US army attacks on journalists during the conflict whichw ere highlighted on April 8, 2003 when three journalists were killed when US forces fired on Baghdad's Palestin Hotel, killing two journalists, Jose Couso of the Telecinco network in Spain, and Taras Protsiuk, a Ukranian cameraman working for Reuters. Earlier that day US forces attacked the offices of Al-Jazeera in Baghdad, killing reporter Tareq Ayyoub.
Altogether there have been 19 unexplained killings of media staff at the hands of US soldiers," said Boumelha. "The administration of Barack Obama cannot duck its responsibility to set aside the white-wash of self-exonerating reporting by the US army. Justice requires that there is no impunity and that the US military is hled to account for its actions in Iraq."


Monday the
US military announced: "BAGHDAD -- A U.S. Soldier died of non-combat related injuries in Baghdad Sunday. The name of the deceased is being withheld pending notification of next of kin and release by the Department of Defense. The names of service members are announced through the U.S. Department of Defense official website at http://www.defenselink.mil/releases/. The announcements are made on the Web site no earlier than 24 hours after notification of the service member's primary next of kin. The incident is under investigation." Today Kelly Boldan (West Central Tribune) reports the fallen is Sgt Kurt E. Kruize, "1993 graduate of Hancock High School," that he was on his second tour of Iraq and that his survivors include his wife Billie Kruize, four children and his parents Bev and Lyle Kruize. When ICCC updates, the number of US service members should stand at 4388.

Among the many issues facing veterans today is unemployment.
Gary Davis (Seattle's KPLU) spoke with Senator Patty Murray at the end of last month. Murray, who sits on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, recently did a roundtable with veterans. She told Davis, "They have ten years of job experience and they come home and apply for a job and are told 'You don't have experience.' Well what was the last ten years?" Lorraine Mirabella (Baltimore Sun) reports:Young, unemployed veterans who have served in Iraq or Afghanistan face even lower odds of finding jobs in this economy than their civilian counterparts, according to recent government statistics. The jobless rate hit 21 percent last year for the youngest veterans, who are 18 to 24 years old, according to a U.S. Department of Labor report released last month. That's compared to 16.6 percent of nonveterans in the same age range.Gregg Zoroya (USA Today) explains that the unemployment rate for Iraq and Afghanistan War "has tripled since the recession began". Iraq War veteran Phil Aliff (US Socialist Worker) writes:This week, as Obama was visiting Afghanistan to meet with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, derisively known by most Afghans as the "mayor of Kabul," shocking statistics were released regarding unemployment for veterans. According to the Labor Department, the jobless rate for veterans between the ages of 18 and 24 rose to 21.4 percent, up from 14 percent in 2008 and significantly higher than the 16.6 percent unemployment rate for civilians in the same age range. Employers are legally obligated to provide job security for members of the National Guard and Reserves, holding their jobs until they return from overseas. But with these soldiers increasingly facing repeated deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, employers are simply deciding not to hire them at all--turning them down even if they have the appropriate skills out of fear that they won't unable to replace a deployed employee. Veterans' groups say the high unemployment figures are also due to the fact that the young people who join the military lack job training, job experience and education. Of course, these are precisely the reasons that recruiters tell young people that joining the military will benefit them--that it will give them a leg up when it comes to finding a job when they return to civilian life. The military has never provided the kind of job training that employers are really looking for. That's all the more so today as more and more people flock to recruiting stations in the hopes of a source of income that will meet basic living standards, or perhaps help them pay for an increasingly expensive education now that state budget cuts have slashed education funding and raised tuition.Melica Johnson and Valeria Hurst (KATU -- link has text and video) report that things can be especially difficult for the National Guard members who may or may not have jobs to return to (it is illegal to fire someone because they have been ordered to deploy) and they zoom in on Victoria and Troy Sartain. While Troy has been deployed, Victoria explains she's been "a single parent of four kids" and now he's just returned and one of them will need to find a job quickly -- especially since Senator Ron Wyden has so far been unsuccessful in his attempts to create a small safety net for Guard members by getting them 90 days pay after they return from a deployment so that they have some money coming in while they seek employment. In a more basic and immediate sign of the bad economy, Julie Sullivan (Oregonian) reports that the Oregon National Guard's 41st Infantry Brigade just returned Saturday and have already learned the recession has resulted in the state cutting out the free hunting and fishing licenses they were giving out to returning service members.


Speaking events. At the
University of California, Merced, Iraq War veteran Lt Dan Choi is set to appear Friday to speak: Special Events - Community Service April 9 4-7 p.m. Gallo Recreation and Wellness Center Location: 5200 North Lake Rd, Merced, CA 95343 Sponsor: Student Life Lt. Dan Choi is an infantry officer in the United States Army who has served in Iraq. He has become an LGBT rights activist following his coming out on the The Rachel Maddow Show in March 2009 and is in the process of being dishonorably discharged because of his orientation. He is now publicly decrying America's Don't Ask, Don't (DADT) Tell policy, which forbids lesbian, bisexual and gay service members from serving openly. He's been a part of many state and national panels addressing issues affecting the LGBT community and has quickly become a nationally recognized speaker. He will be on campus to address his time under the DADT policy and the inequities that LGBT citizens currently face in our country. Pre-Reception at 4 p.m. Sign ups start on Monday in the Office of Student Life. Space is limited http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/event.php?eid=109296795757332&ref=mf A Post-reception will followEvent Contact: 209.228.2582Lt Dan Choi is fighting for equality and has made it clear that he will not be silent in the face of discrimination. It should be a very inspiring and worthwhile event for all who attend. As should Peace Mom Cindy Sheehan at her upcoming events in New York beginning tomorrow:
Binghamton:
10:30 a.m. - Press conference will be
held at the St. Francis of Assisi church
1031 Chenango St., Binghamton, NY. (Room 104 - School Building)
12:00 Noon - Pot Luck luncheon for press conference attendees, committee members and local peace group leaders - Location: St. Francis church hall
3 - 5 pm - Book signing at River Read Books, Court St. Binghamton
7 - 9 pm - Presentation at Binghamton University - Lecture Hall 8 - Open to Community
For more information on Binghamton events contact: George McAnaman -
gmcvet4p@gmail.com
FRIDAY, APRIL 09
Scranton, PA
12 NOON to 2PM
Email Jack Gilroy for details:
Jgilroy1@stny.rr.com
Friday Evening:
7 p.m. – Words & Music for Peace – First United Methodist Church, 53 McKinley Avenue, Endicott, NY. This event will include a talk by Cindy with Q & A, folk music by Janet Burgan and a performance by Expressive Drumming. The community is invited. Refreshments and Book signing
SATURDAY, APRIL 1OTH:
Ithaca Events:
7 - 9 Evening Event - Women's Community Building - 100 W. Seneca St. Open to the Public
For more information on Ithaca events Contact:
Bob Nape - 607-592-7692 or
Andrea Levine - 908-461-8491
****************************
Listen to the Soapbox
www.CindySheehansSoapbox.com
Sunday's guest, available 2pm Pacific Time is
hero: Daniel Ellsberg
****************************** *
Read Cindy's New Blog:
Take This Empire and Shove It!

"Yes, folks, it's true,"
writes NOW on PBS executive producer John Siceloff, "NOW on PBS has come to the end of its broadcast run. The last episode will air on April 30, 2010. PBS announced last fall it was canceling NOW and providing funding for a new public affairs show called Need to Know." Click here for the rest of his essay. The program begins airing each week on Fridays on most PBS stations (check local listings) and this week they look at the economy:
The national economic disaster hit the city of Braddock Pennsylvanialike a wrecking ball. But Braddock Mayor John Fetterman -- dubbed"America's Coolest Mayor" by The New York Times -- is taking veryunconventional approaches to reinventing the town and re-inspiring itsresidents. Home to the nation's first A&P supermarket and AndrewCarnegie's first steel mill, Braddock is being revitalized with newyouth and art programs, renovations of abandoned real estate, and boldplans to attract artists and green industries.On Friday, April 9 at 8:30 pm (check local listings), NOW sits down withMayor Fetterman to learn how the 6'8" 370-pound political novice istrying to turn his town around, and if other devastated communities canand should follow his large footsteps.



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