Friday, November 26, 2010

Alicia Shephard, you're worthless

Wednesday on Fresh Air, Terry Gross wanted to talk blue grass so of course she needed a man. Thursday she wanted to talk show tunes so she needed a man.

Terry Gross never gets called out for her sexist s**t.

Our brilliant Kat did two music pieces yesterday and managed to work Terry into the first one: "Kat's Korner: The 80s (where Cher proves them all wrong)" and "Kat's Korner: Cher demonstrates this is far from over." As I noted yesterday, no one's calling out Terry Gross but this community.

NPR's ombudsperson, Alicia Shephard, refuses, REFUSES, to do her job. She was whining about Morning Edition and All Things Considered featuring women as guests only 26% of the time but she has ignored that Terry Gross features women 20.5% of the time. She has been informed of that and she continues to REFUSE to do her job.

Somebody tell me when the WORTHLESS Alicia Shepherd's done being ombudsperson. I hope it's very soon. She's nothing but a cover up artist for Terry.



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

Friday, November 26, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, the US government stands accused of aiding a group they've designated as a "terrorist organization," Rome prays for Iraqi Christiains while other countries work to expell them, Thug Nouri 'officially' is named prime minister designate, and more.
Today violence continues in Iraq and let's start there.
Bombings?
Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad bombing which injured three people, a second which injured six and 2 Tikrit roadside bombing which claimed 3 lives and left twenty-two people injured. Yesterday Reuters noted a Samarra roadside bombing which injured "police officer Nabeel Abbas Ashraf, head of the Huwaish police station, and two of his body guards," 2 Tuz Khurmato roadside bombing which injured two children and four Iraqi soldiers, another Tuz Khurmato roadside bombing which injured a police officer, a Baghdad roadside bombing which wounded three people (including one Iraqi soldier) and a Baaj grenade attack claimed the life of 1 tailor.

Shootings?
Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 1 Ministry of Interior Affairs officer was shot dead in Baghdad Press TV drops back to Thursday to note an attack on Kirkuk checkpoint which left 2 police officers dead and one bystander injured.
The Iraq War is not about oil many insist. Then why is human life worth so damn little to the press? Hammoudi reports on it, Reuters reports on it. That's really it. Contrast that with the oil tanker -- OIL tanker -- exploding. Alsumaria TV reports it was "an accident," that it claimed 2 lives with nine more wounded and the explosion took palce "on the Iraqi-Jordan border" yesterday. CNN covers it Reuters covers it.. AP covers it. Press TV covers it. Bloomberg News covers it. AFP covers it. BBC News covers it. We can go on and on but I believe the point is made. It's not the 'numbers' because 2 (or 3 lives -- on is misisng in some reports, in others the person is listed as dead) and nine injured is less than 4 killed and thirty-one injured. But one gets massive attention. And then some wonder why people -- like Alan Greenspan? -- say the Iraq War was all about oil?
It certainly wasn't about creating a democracy. March 7th, Iraq concluded Parliamentary elections. The Guardian's editorial board noted in August, "These elections were hailed prematurely by Mr Obama as a success, but everything that has happened since has surely doused that optimism in a cold shower of reality." 163 seats are needed to form the executive government (prime minister and council of ministers). When no single slate wins 163 seats (or possibly higher -- 163 is the number today but the Parliament added seats this election and, in four more years, they may add more which could increase the number of seats needed to form the executive government), power-sharing coalitions must be formed with other slates, parties and/or individual candidates. (Eight Parliament seats were awarded, for example, to minority candidates who represent various religious minorities in Iraq.) Ayad Allawi is the head of Iraqiya which won 91 seats in the Parliament making it the biggest seat holder. Second place went to State Of Law which Nouri al-Maliki, the current prime minister, heads. They won 89 seats. Nouri made a big show of lodging complaints and issuing allegations to distract and delay the certification of the initial results while he formed a power-sharing coalition with third place winner Iraqi National Alliance -- this coalition still does not give them 163 seats. November 10th a power sharing deal resulted in the Parliament meeting for the second time and voting in a Speaker. And then Iraqiya felt double crossed on the deal and the bulk of their members stormed out of the Parliament. David Ignatius (Washington Post) explains, "The fragility of the coalition was dramatically obvious Thursday as members of the Iraqiya party, which represents Sunnis, walked out of Parliament, claiming that they were already being double-crossed by Maliki. Iraqi politics is always an exercise in brinkmanship, and the compromises unfortunately remain of the save-your-neck variety, rather than reflecting a deeper accord. " After that, Jalal Talabani was voted President of Iraq. Talabani then named Nouri as the prime minister-delegate. If Nouri can meet the conditions outlined in Article 76 of the Constitution (basically nominate ministers for each council and have Parliament vote to approve each one with a minimum of 163 votes each time and to vote for his council program) within thirty days, he becomes the prime minister. If not, Talabani must name another prime minister-delegate. . In 2005, Iraq took four months and seven days to pick a prime minister-delegate. It took eight months and two days to name Nouri as prime minister-delegate. His first go-round, on April 22, 2006, his thirty day limit kicked in. May 20, 2006, he announced his cabinet -- sort of. Sort of because he didn't nominate a Minister of Defense, a Minister of Interior and a Minister of a Natioanl Security. This was accomplished, John F. Burns wrote in "For Some, a Last, Best Hope for U.S. Efforts in Iraq" (New York Times), only with "muscular" assistance from the Bush White House. Nouri declared he would be the Interior Ministry temporarily. Temporarily lasted until June 8, 2006. This was when the US was able to strong-arm, when they'd knocked out the other choice for prime minister (Ibrahim al-Jaafari) to install puppet Nouri and when they had over 100,000 troops on the ground in Iraq. Nouri had no competition. That's very different from today. The Constitution is very clear and it is doubtful his opponents -- including within his own alliance -- will look the other way if he can't fill all the posts in 30 days. As Leila Fadel (Washington Post) observes, "With the three top slots resolved, Maliki will now begin to distribute ministries and other top jobs, a process that has the potential to be as divisive as the initial phase of government formation." Jane Arraf (Christian Science Monitor) points out, "Maliki now has 30 days to decide on cabinet posts - some of which will likely go to Iraqiya - and put together a full government. His governing coalition owes part of its existence to followers of hard-line cleric Muqtada al Sadr, leading Sunnis and others to believe that his government will be indebted to Iran." The stalemate ends when the country has a prime minister. It is now eight months, nineteen days and counting. Yesterday, Thursday November 25th, Nouri was finally 'officially' named prime minister-designate. Leila Fadel (Washington Post) explains, "In 30 days, he is to present his cabinet to parliament or lose the nomination." Steven Lee Myers (New York Times) adds, "Even if Mr. Maliki meets the 30-day deadline in late December -- which is not a certainty, given the chronic disregard for legal deadlines in Iraqi politics -- the country will have spent more than nine months under a caretaker government without a functioning legislature. Many of Iraq's most critical needs -- from basic services to investment -- have remained unaddressed throughout the impasse." Jane Arraf (Al Jazeera) offered, "He has an extremely difficult task ahed of him, these next 30 days are going to be a very tough sell for all of these parties that all want something very important in this government. It took a record eight months to actually come up with this coalition, but now what al-Maliki has to do is put all those people in the competing positins that backed him into slots in the government and he has a month to day that from today."

Thug Nouri brokered a deal with -- among others -- Moqtada al-Sadr to remain as dictator of Iraq. Ned Parker (Los Angeles Times) reports, "The Mahdi Army has also in effect seized control of cellblocks at one of Iraq's largest detention facilities, Taji prison. Within months of the U.S. hand-over of the prison in March, Mahdi Army detainees were giving orders to guards who were either loyal to or intimidated by them, Iraqi and U.S. officials say [. . .] Senior Sadr supporters are being brought into the Interior Ministry at high-level positions, according to Mahdi Army members and Iraqi officers. One Sadr commander who is being given the rank of brigadier general said he knew of 50 others who were being recruited for officers' positions." And if there's anything more frightening than the current Iraq prison system it's grasping that the Mahdi Army is more or less in charge of some of them. Paul Walsh (Minneapolis Star Tribune) reports that the Minnesota National Guard is sending 80 members to Iraq and the question should be why?

The government in Iraq is nothing but exiles installed by the US. It's not a real government, it's not of the people -- easily demonstrated when the people's voice was rejected this month. So why is the US military being used to prop up this corrupt regime? And when does it end?

The 'government' lacks the consent of the governed. So to keep these exiles in place, the US military will have to stay on the ground in Iraq for years to come?

That's not democracy, that's thwarting the will of the people.

Thursday the European Union adopted three resolutions. From the one on Iraq:

Condemning the recent attacks on Christian communities in Iraq, Parliament calls on EU High representative Catherine Ashton to treat the problem of the safety of Christians within Iraqi borders as a priority and urges the Iraqi authorities to "drastically increase their efforts for the protection of Christian and vulnerable communities". MEPs also call on the European Union to strengthen the fight against terrorism.




Iraqi Christians have been targeted throughout the illegal war. The latest wave of attacks began October 31st with the assault on Our Lady of Salvation Church in Baghdad in which at least 70 people were killed and at least 70 were injured. Adnkronos reports that 7 hand written threats against Iraqi Christians have turned up throughout Baghdad this week and they quote "Christian community leader" Abdullah al-Nawafili stating, "Threats of these types have been coming in over the past few days that push us to leave the country." Vatican Radio reports that Cardinal Leonardo Sandri delivered a liturgy last night at St Peter's Bascilica in Rome and called for "peace and reconciliation":

Survivors from that terrible tragedy, who since November 11th have been receiving treatment in Rome's Gemelli hospital, were also present Thursday. They were the physical testimony of the wounds that the Iraqi Christian community has suffered and continues to suffer, for the faith.
Speaking to them Cardinal Sandri spoke of the saving mystery of martyrdom.
"Our thoughts, hearts and prayers go to Iraq and many other parts of the world, where to this day loyalty to baptism is answered in blood, for He who loved us to the Cross."

The targeting of various minorities in Iraq has led to the region's largest refugee crisis in years. Jennifer Macey (Australia's ABC) reports on Salah Azuhari, a Mandaean who fears persecution should Australia force him to return to Iraq. Guess what happened in Iraq? The Mehdi militia and Badr militia attacked his family. ABC's Hana Vieva translated his story, "He and his family were tortured, his family was bombed. His uncle received a nail to his head. So they basically bashed a nail through his brain. He was susequently kidnapped, tortured and put around dead bodies, other dead bodies." Salah, like other Iraqi refugees seeking asylum around the world, has no idea whether or not he will be granted santuary. The British government plans to keep deporting but human rights don't matter in the United Kingdom, apparently. Rosalind English (UK Human Rights Blog) notes one road bloc to the government's plan to deport:
Now the European Court of Human Rights has informed the UK government that it would apply "Rule 39″ to any Iraqi challenging their deportation. Rule 39 of the Rules of Court means, in effect, that anyone from Iraq who takes their case to the European Court will automatically be allowed to remain in the UK, at least temporarily. Rule 39 is the enforcing mechanism whereby the obligation in Article 34 not to interfere with an individual's effective exercise of the right to submit and pursue a complaint before the Court confers upon an applicant a right of a procedural nature – which can be asserted in Convention proceedings – this is distinguishable from the substantive rights set out under the Convention.
In other words, failure to comply with an interim measure indicated under Rule 39 of the Rules of Court could give rise to a violation of Article 34 of the Convention (see, for instance, Shamayev and Others v. Georgia and Russia, no. 36378/02, § 470, ECHR 2005-III).86. In practice the Court applies Rule 39 only if there is an imminent risk of irreparable damage. While there is no specific provision in the Convention concerning the domains in which Rule 39 will apply, requests for its application usually concern the right to life (Article 2), the right not to be subjected to torture or inhuman treatment (Article 3) and, exceptionally, the right to respect for private and family life (Article 8) or other rights guaranteed by the Convention. The vast majority of cases in which interim measures have been indicated concern deportation and extradition proceedings.
Meanwhile, The Local reports that Sweden plans to continue deporting Iraqi refugees. Reporters get targeted in Iraq as well. Al Baghdadiya earned Nouri's ire when they broadcast about the assault on Our Lady of Salvation Church. He immediately declared them in league with the attackers and shut them down. Ammar Karim (AFP) reports today that Al Baghdadiya has pulled out of Iraq, issuing a statement which includes: "Given the persistent desire of the prime minister to prevent Al Baghdadiya from working in Iraq, the management of the channel has decided to close its bureaus in the country. We are sorry to have had to take this deicison, but we believe that efforts to block the people from expressing their views and daily suffering will not stop Al Baghdadiya from fighting for freedom of the press, the investigation of corruption and freedom of opinion." This is at least the third TV station Nouri has banned -- Zawra was banned in 2006 and Al Sharqiyah in 2007.
When not cracking down on the press, Nouri likes to plan assaults on minority communities. Caroline Alexander (Bloomberg News) reports that the European Union is calling for the US to remove the People's Mujahedeen of Iran (MEK) from their "list of terrorist organizations." The MEK is a group of Iranian dissidents who sought shelter in Iraq for decades. After the US-led invasion, the US military provided protection for the group which is hosed at Camp Ashraf. The US got 'promises' from the 'government' of Nouri al-Maliki that the residents of Camp Ashraf would be safe and turned control over to him at the start of 2009. In July 2009, Nouri launched an assault on the camp in which at least 11 people were killed and at least four hundred were injured. When the assault took place, Amnesty International issued the following statement:

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL
PUBLIC STATEMENT
AI Index: MDE 14/021/2009
28 July 2009
Iraq: Camp Ashraf residents attacked
Amnesty International is seriously concerned at today's attacks by Iraqi forces on unarmed residents of Camp Ashraf which left several people injured and led to the arrest of at least eight others.
Hundreds of armed Iraqi security forces are said to have stormed the camp, north of Baghdad, at around 3pm local time. They used tear gas, water canons and batons against unarmed Iranian residents who tried to stop them from entering the camp.
Video footage seen by Amnesty International clearly shows Iraqi forces beating people repeatedly on different parts of the body, including the head. Dozens of people are said to have been injured.
Two of them, Reza Chelcheraqi and Mohammad-Reza Shahsavandi, are believed to be in serious condition. At least eight people, including Hasan Besharati, Humayoun Deyhim, Gholam Reza Behrouzi, Hosein Fili, Mehdi Zareh and Naser Nour Ebadian, were arrested and their current whereabouts are unknown.In the last few months the Iraqi government has publicly stated that it wants to take over full control of Camp Ashraf, in Diyala governorate, north of Baghdad. On 27 July government spokesperson Ali al-Dabbagh told an Iraqi satellite television channel that the government "will take over the responsibility of internal security affairs of Camp Ashraf". The authorities are reportedly planning to establish a police outpost inside the camp.
Amnesty International calls on the Iraqi government to investigate the apparent excessive use of force by Iraqi security forces. The government should reveal the whereabouts of the eight people detained and ensure that they are protected from torture or other ill-treatment, as well as from forcible return to Iran.
Background
Around 3,400 residents of Camp Ashraf are members or supporters of the People's Mojahedeen Organization of Iran (PMOI), an Iranian opposition organization whose members have been resident in Iraq for many years. Until recently the PMOI was listed as a "terrorist" organization by the European Union and other governments, but in most cases this designation has now been lifted on the grounds that the PMOI no longer advocates or engages in armed opposition to the government of Iran.The US forces provided protection for the camp and its residents, who were designated as "protected persons" following the 2003 invasion of Iraq, but this situation was discontinued following the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) between the US and Iraqi governments, although the SOFA makes no reference to Camp Ashraf or its residents. Public Document
****************************************
For more information please call Amnesty International's press office in London, UK, on +44 20 7413 5566 or email: press@amnesty.org
International Secretariat, Amnesty International, 1 Easton St., London WC1X 0DW, UK www.amnesty.org

Damien McElroy (Telegraph of London) observed of the assault, "The American-installed government in Iraq has shown its true colours. By fighting its way into an Iraqi camp of Iranian dissidents, possibly killing 11 people in the process, it has earned brownie points in Iran. American disapproved, but its diplomatic internvention was limited to medical assistance." US forces were present. They watched as Nouri's thugs terrorized the camp. They stood and watched. They are there to protect the installed 'government' of Nouri. They are not present for the people.

From the MEK to the PKK. Throughout the Iraq War, the White House has insisted (whether occupied by Bully Boy Bush or by Barack Obama) that the PKK was a terrorist group and that the government or 'government' in Baghdad had the full support of the US in clamping down on the PKK. For nearly five years, the US has shared information from surveilance drones with Baghdad in the alleged effort to curtail the PKK. The PKK is a group housed in the southern part of Turkey and 'hidden' in the northern mountains of Iraq which fights for a Kurdish homeland. It may also turn out to be a US-backed group. Press TV provides this background on the PKK: "The PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by much of the international community, including Turkey, Iran and the European Union member states. More than 40,000 people have lost their lives in PKK attacks. The PKK terrorists launch their attacks mainly from Iraq's Qandil mountain range in the areas under the control of Kurdistan Regional Government President Massoud Barzani. Tel Aviv and Israeli companies are also reported to support Kurdish terrorists in the Qandil mountain range."

WikiLeaks is reportedly preparaing another release of documents. At their Twitter account, they note the the clamor:

  1. The D-notice is type 1 and type 5.
  2. UK Government has issued a "D-notice" warning to all UK news editors, asking to be briefed on upcoming WikiLeaks stories.
  3. US briefs Russia over embassy cables according to Moscow press.
  4. US briefs Iraq, Turkey over embassy cables according to AFP, Turkish media
  5. Poster: "One Word of Truth Outweighs the Whole World" http://is.gd/hNNul
  6. Poster: "Intelligence needs Counter-Intelligence" http://is.gd/hNN6x


Jill Dougherty (CNN)quotes one-time US Ambassador James F. Collins insisting, "Leaking information of this kind will be detrimental to building the trust among officials necessary to conduct effective and productive diplomacy."

They're arguing, grasp this, that evidence -- eye witness testimony, forensics, etc -- is actually a bad thing because without it criminals could 'build trust' in their neighborhoods.

Exposing the crime is not the crime. And it's ridiculous and pathetic that anyone wants to argue that -- Collins remains on the government payroll via Carnegie Endowment. If the US actions were/are embarrassing, that's due to the US actions, not due to later leaking of the actions.

Do not confuse the crime with the exposure. And do not fall for the bulls**t flying out of the mouths of people who apparently should be behind bars themselves since they have so little respect for the laws they once swore to uphold.


Glenn Kessler (Washington Post) notes, "The London-based daily al-Hayat reported that WikiLeaks is planning to release files that show Turkey has helped al-Qaeda in Iraq - and that the United States has helped the PKK, a Kurdish rebel organization. The documents reportedly suggest that the United States has supported the PKK, which has been waging a separatist war against Turkey since 1984 and has been classified by the State Department as a terrorist organization since 1979." Jason Koutsoukis (Sydney Morning Herald) adds, "A report in The Jerusalem Post said the US military documents referred to the PKK as 'warriors for freedom and Turkish citizens' and said the US had set free arrested PKK members in Iraq. The documents also say US forces in Iraq have given weapons to the PKK." Aras Coskuntuncel and Sevil Kucukkosum (Hurriyet Daily News) report:


Reports speculate that the leaked diplomatic cables will show that Washington aided the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, and that Turkey helped al-Qaeda in Iraq. Anxiety mounted Friday as the United States contacted its allies through its embassies in an attempt to brace for the release of what could amount to millions of documents.
U.S. officials briefed counterparts in Ankara about some documents WikiLeaks will publish that relate to Turkey, Turkish Foreign Ministry officials told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review on Friday.

Which would mean, if true, that -- domestically -- that Eric Holder should immediately order the arrests of George W. Bush and Barack Obama for proving material aid and support to terrorists. Isn't that what they keep doing to US citizens who are not in fact supporting terrorists? But the US government is? If they are, they need to be behind bars.

I guess if I were a criminal about to be exposed to the world I'd probably try to distract by whining "Unfair! Unfair!" as well. But apparently, I have little more respect for the laws than those elected who take an oath to uphold the Constitution.

Shashank Bengali (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that "this morning, the U.S. ambassador to Baghdad, Jim Jeffrey, called WikiLeaks 'an absolutely awful impediment to my business, which is to be able to have discussions in confidence with people'." Once was a time someone mouthing the words Jeffrey has would be someone considered unsuitable for diplomatic service or service to the country -- such is the lowered standards of the times we live in that he will most likely not even be called out by the press.


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Terry, Terry, Terry

Monday on NPR's Fresh Air, Terry served up another man. A male author. Only men write books, apparently. Tuesday Terry served up another man. He was an animal doctor talking about dogs. Apparently only men know about dogs.

October wrapped up a five month period where Ava, C.I. and I covered and counted and discovered Terry's guest list was only 20.58% female.

Does it look like it's improving?

Nope.

Has that 'brave' ombudsperson Alicia Shephard bothered to weigh in?

Nope.

This community calls out the sexism and we do so all by ourselves. Not because others don't do but because they're too chicken s**t to do so.



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


Wednesday, November 24, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, as do the lies of war, the political stalemate continues, the corruption continues, the US governmneet continues to target activists, and more.
Myra MacPherson wrote:
"There was increased reliance at home and abroad on suppression by force and an increasingly arrogant determination to 'go it alone' in the world." This was not written when George W. Bush ignored the United Nations, colleagues, international treaties, and advice of allies and started a war but by Stone during Cold War escalation.
"All governments are run by liars . . ." This was not about the weapons of mass destruction or subsequent other Iraq War lies but those told during the Vietnam War.
That's from the foreword to her much lauded 2006 book All Governments Lie! The Life and Times of Rebel Journalist I.F. Stone. All governments lie. And continue to lie. And then lie some more. Lies started the illegal war. Lies continue it today. UPI noted that day that the handover of a Basra airbase was the UK "formally ending its Iraq mission." But it wasn't the end. In that day's snapshot (where it's noted it's not the end) the most telling detail may have been CNN reporting that England was the location for a meet-up between then-UK prime minister Gordon Brown and then-Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki where they "discussed opening Iraq up to more investment opportunities." There's actual withdrawal and there's faux actions designed to confuse the public and tamp down on outrage.
Sam Marsden (PA) reports, "Most of the 150 British troops still serving in Iraq are set to be brought home next spring, the military said today." That's reported today and it's probably confusing to some since the British 'withdrew' some time ago. April 30, 2009, BBC News offered video and proclaimed, "A ceremony has been held in Basra to mark the official end of the six-year British military mission in Iraq."
Land of snap decisions
Land of short attention spans
Nothing is savored
Long enough to really understand
In every culture in decline
The watchful ones among the slaves
Know all that is genuine will be
Scorned and conned and cast away
-- "Dog Eat Dog," written by Joni Mitchell, first appears on her album of the same title
Lies and liars keep the illegal wars going. All governments lie, stated I.F. Stone though the useless whores among us -- such as Katrina vanden Heuvel -- insist there must be some sort of an exception for St. Barack of Obscurantism. There are no exceptions and there has been no end to the Iraq War.
It hasn't ended but it has created the region's largest refugee crisis. It's done that by targeting the vulnerable which can be defined as all the Iraqi people who were not among the select group of Shi'ite exiles plotting the illegal war before the start of it and then rewarded by being put in charge of Iraq by the occupying powers. These thugs also sometimes protect their 'followers' (muscle; goon squads). Everyone else has a target drawn on their backs. Maybe they're part of Iraq's LGBT community? Or maybe they're just thought to be part of it. That's enough to be kidnapped and murdered by the thugs the US and the UK put in charge of Iraq. Or maybe you're a doctor or a professor? That's enough to have your name on the targeted list. Shi'ite exiles really can't re-write history and present themselves as brave warriors for their country as long as academic pursuit isn't controlled or intimidated by them. Or maybe you're part of Iraq's religious minority which also includes the Sunni population. Or maybe you're a part of any of that or none of that because you're a woman? Women are among the most victimized in Iraq. First thing the thugs did once installed was take a country that had long had equality written into the law and instead attack the rights of women.
All governments lie. Which is how Barack claimed Iraq was a success and something to be proud of in his August 31st speech. There's no denying it is a success for the criminals who plotted it -- both the exiles and the US and UK governments. It's not a success for the Iraqi people but Barack Obama is not of the people. From where he sneers down, it's a 'success.' But that's nothing to be proud of as the ongoing violence, destruction and genocides demonstrate.
Michaela Yule (Global Post) reports from Syria on the estimated 1.5 million who have sought asylum there including a young woman whose family left Iraq 3 years ago and who states, "Personally, I do not even have a slight hope that Iraq will recover. It is impossible because of greed, and the fact that everyone wants to have a piece of Iraq." Yule observes:


The Iraqi refugee crisis is currently the worst humanitarian crisis in the Middle East since the start of the Palestinian refugee crisis in 1948.
An estimated 2.5 million Iraqis are displaced abroad, and an equal number are internally displaced. With little hope for immediate return, these displaced Iraqis live in a state of limbo, most unable either to return to their homes or settle in their new locations.


A very small number of Iraqi refugees have been accepted by the US and England -- despite both countries being the chief leaders of the march to illegal war. Those few allowed into the US often continue to struggle. Tara Bahrampour (Washington Post) reports on Manal Jafer and her family. She and her husband lived well in Baghdad prior to the start of the illegal war. He was a professor, she was a medical doctor. After the illegal war began, things changed. A fall 2003 home invasion left her husband dead and her wounded, she believes the stress from all the violence is what killed her teenage son. With her remaining three children, she went to Jordan and then to the US where the economy and the cheapness of the Bush administration -- which was continued by the Barack administration -- means that refugees are receiving a tiny and limited stipend and then on their own -- in a country where the real unemployment rate is estimated to be around at least 17.3% but officially at 9.6%. Meanwhile BBC News reports that the UK Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt has announced this week that England will continue deporting Iraqi refugees. Amnesty International issued the following:

Responding to comments from UK Foreign Office minister Alistair Burt, saying that the UK would continue to remove refused Iraqi asylum seekers to Baghdad, Amnesty International UK Refugee Programme Director Jan Shaw said:

"The UK should listen to the European Court of Human Rights and, like the Dutch authorities, suspend removals to Baghdad until it's safe.

"The authorities are, of course, entitled to remove people if they don't need international protection and it's safe to return them. But Iraq is still incredibly dangerous.

"Amnesty is opposed to all forcible removals to central and southern Iraq until the security situation improves considerably.

"The UK government knows full well that anyone applying to the European Court under 'Rule 39' will have their removal suspended. So effectively they are just trying to catch out anyone who doesn't know about this ruling, or who doesn't have decent legal representation. Sadly this still includes far too many people."


Also targeted are journalists. Can't successfully control the people without an intimidated press Sunday Mu Xuequan (Xinhua) reported Iraqi journalist Mazin al-Baghdadi was shot dead in front of his Mosul home. Jomana Karadsheh (CNN) added, "Gunmen in civilian clothing showed up at his home around 6 p.m. and identified themselves to his father as intelligence officers, the ministry official said. When al-Baghdadi exited to his house to speak with the men, they shot him. His family was looking on when the shooting occurred, according to the official, who described the journalist as young." The Committee to Protect Journalists issued a statement Monday which included:

Three armed men showed up at the journalist's house on Sunday at 6 p.m. and told al-Baghdadi's father they were with military intelligence and wanted to speak to his son. "They said that they need to see Mazen urgently," al-Baghdadi's father told the local press freedom group Society to Defending Press Freedom in Iraq. Al-Baghdadi's father summoned his son, and when he arrived home, the men opened fire. Two bullets to his head killed him immediately, the father said.

Al-Baghdadi was 18 years old, according to news reports. He worked for Al-Mosuliya for the last seven months presenting two talk shows, "Sabah al-Kheir" (Good morning) and "Al-Mosul fi Isbou" (Mosul in a Week).

"We send our condolences to the friends and family of Mazen Mardan al-Baghdadi ," said Mohamed Abdel Dayem, CPJ's Middle East and North Africa Coordinator. "We call on Iraqi authorities to investigate the journalist's killing and explain whether military intelligence officers were involved in the murder."

The press freedom organization calls for a proper investigation that results in both the perpetrators and instigators being brought to justice. It would be regrettable if this case went unpunished, like 99 per cent of the 230 murders of journalists that have taken place since the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003.

Without an exemplary trial, those who murder journalists will continue to sow terror among the media throughout the country. Guaranteeing the safety of civilians, including journalists, who have been particularly exposed to the violence in Iraq since 2003, is a major challenge for the government.

Irina Bokova, the Director-General of UNESCO, today condemned the murder of Iraqi journalist Mazen Mardan al-Baghdadi on 21 November in Mosul, northern Iraq.

"I condemn the killing of Mazen Mardan al-Baghdadi," said the Director-General. "In carrying out his professional duties, he helped to uphold the basic right of freedom of expression. I call on the authorities in Iraq to investigate this grave incident and bring the perpetrators to justice."
Mazen Mardan al-Baghdadi was a reporter for Al-Mosuliya television. He was just 18 years old and had been working for the television station for the past seven months presenting two talk shows, "Sabah al-Kheir" (Good morning) and "Al-Mosul fi Isbou" (Mosul in a Week). Local reports suggest he was shot outside his home on Sunday 21 November. .
Mazen Mardan al-Baghdadi is the fifth journalist to be killed in Iraq this year.

UNESCO is the only United Nations agency with a mandate to defend freedom of expression and press freedom. Article 1 of its Constitution requires the Organization to "further universal respect for justice, for the rule of law and for the human rights and fundamental freedoms which are affirmed for the peoples of the world, without distinction of race, sex, language or religion, by the Charter of the United Nations." To realize this the Organization is requested to "collaborate in the work of advancing the mutual knowledge and understanding of peoples, through all means of mass communication and to that end recommend such international agreements as may be necessary to promote the free flow of ideas by word and image…"

Earlier this week, Lara Jakes (AP) reported that while Iraq can no longer pay the benefits to widows and the poor because, according to Parliament Speaker Osama al-Nujafi, they don't have the money, MPs have each received over "$100,000 so far this year in salaries and stipends" even though they've only held four sessions all year. Jake Armstrong (Pasadena Weekly) adds, "$1 billion the Iraqi government had been using to pay benefits to widows, farm crops and welfare programs has been exhuasted, and Iraqi lawmakers -- who've collected $100,000 each for 4 days of work -- began demanding answers this week as to where the money had gone, the Associated Press reported." Where the money had gone? Corruption? Under Nouri al-Maliki?
Ernesto Londono (Washington Post) reports on Sunni Arkan Subhi Ahmed al-Habshi, among the many Sunnis targeted and imprisoned by those 'security forces' Nouri commands in Iraq:
The reappointment of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, a Shiite, this month has raised concerns among Sunnis that abuses will continue unchecked because Sunni leaders were unable to get firm promises about reforms in detainee treatment as part of the government formation deal.
"The Sunnis will soon be in the same position as the Palestinians," said Habshi's cousin Ibrahim Ahmed Rababshi, 42. "We will be pushed out, and we eventually won't have a single Sunni mosque left."
Nouri the thug. Determined to hold onto the post of prime minister. Nouri the US-installed thug who has both their backing and that of the Iranian government.
March 7th, Iraq concluded Parliamentary elections. The Guardian's editorial board noted in August, "These elections were hailed prematurely by Mr Obama as a success, but everything that has happened since has surely doused that optimism in a cold shower of reality." 163 seats are needed to form the executive government (prime minister and council of ministers). When no single slate wins 163 seats (or possibly higher -- 163 is the number today but the Parliament added seats this election and, in four more years, they may add more which could increase the number of seats needed to form the executive government), power-sharing coalitions must be formed with other slates, parties and/or individual candidates. (Eight Parliament seats were awarded, for example, to minority candidates who represent various religious minorities in Iraq.) Ayad Allawi is the head of Iraqiya which won 91 seats in the Parliament making it the biggest seat holder. Second place went to State Of Law which Nouri al-Maliki, the current prime minister, heads. They won 89 seats. Nouri made a big show of lodging complaints and issuing allegations to distract and delay the certification of the initial results while he formed a power-sharing coalition with third place winner Iraqi National Alliance -- this coalition still does not give them 163 seats. November 10th a power sharing deal resulted in the Parliament meeting for the second time and voting in a Speaker. And then Iraqiya felt double crossed on the deal and the bulk of their members stormed out of the Parliament. David Ignatius (Washington Post) explains, "The fragility of the coalition was dramatically obvious Thursday as members of the Iraqiya party, which represents Sunnis, walked out of Parliament, claiming that they were already being double-crossed by Maliki. Iraqi politics is always an exercise in brinkmanship, and the compromises unfortunately remain of the save-your-neck variety, rather than reflecting a deeper accord. " After that, Jalal Talabani was voted President of Iraq. Talabani then named Nouri as the prime minister-delegate. If Nouri can meet the conditions outlined in Article 76 of the Constitution (basically nominate ministers for each council and have Parliament vote to approve each one with a minimum of 163 votes each time and to vote for his council program) within thirty days, he becomes the prime minister. If not, Talabani must name another prime minister-delegate. . In 2005, Iraq took four months and seven days to pick a prime minister-delegate. It took eight months and two days to name Nouri as prime minister-delegate. His first go-round, on April 22, 2006, his thirty day limit kicked in. May 20, 2006, he announced his cabinet -- sort of. Sort of because he didn't nominate a Minister of Defense, a Minister of Interior and a Minister of a National Security. This was accomplished, John F. Burns wrote in "For Some, a Last, Best Hope for U.S. Efforts in Iraq" (New York Times), only with "muscular" assistance from the Bush White House. Nouri declared he would be the Interior Ministry temporarily. Temporarily lasted until June 8, 2006. This was when the US was able to strong-arm, when they'd knocked out the other choice for prime minister (Ibrahim al-Jaafari) to install puppet Nouri and when they had over 100,000 troops on the ground in Iraq. Nouri had no competition. That's very different from today. The Constitution is very clear and it is doubtful his opponents -- including within his own alliance -- will look the other way if he can't fill all the posts in 30 days. As Leila Fadel (Washington Post) observes, "With the three top slots resolved, Maliki will now begin to distribute ministries and other top jobs, a process that has the potential to be as divisive as the initial phase of government formation." Jane Arraf (Christian Science Monitor) points out, "Maliki now has 30 days to decide on cabinet posts - some of which will likely go to Iraqiya - and put together a full government. His governing coalition owes part of its existence to followers of hard-line cleric Muqtada al Sadr, leading Sunnis and others to believe that his government will be indebted to Iran." The stalemate ends when the country has a prime minister. It is now eight months, seventeen days and counting. Joseph A. Kechichian (Gulf News) observes:
What Washington failed to note was the gap that emerged between the Iraqi electorate and its supposed representatives. Indeed, eight months ago, Iraqis voted for nationalism and against sectarianism. In the words of one astute observer, they voted "for Iraqiya and not for Sunni Islamists, for the Da'awa party and not for the ultra-Shiite Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq".
Sadly, little of that nationalism was visible in the nascent government, as the same officials relied on sectarianism to allocate portfolios and begin to agree on political programmes. This is a disaster in the making. Iraqi leaders should draw clear lessons from Lebanon, where communal power sharing proved less than successful, and where the threat of division cannot be ruled out.
If Iraqi leaders opt for the zu'ama [leaders] formula that allow a few to rule over well-defined religious or ethnic groups, few should be surprised that Iraq will eventually be divided, an option that Biden endorsed a few years ago. If, on the other hand, Iraq is to stay a unified country, represented by elected officials beholden to their electorates, then we must all do something different to gradually replace ethno-religiosity with genuine representative politics.
Iraq is embarked on a long-term restructuring effort and its people want and deserve to have a transparent government where elected officials are "accountable." Like Lebanon, which is going through similar pains, Iraq needs men and women who wish to serve the nation. It does not need corrupt political elites who ignore their duties.
And as that takes place, the violence never ends. Xinhua reports, "The deadliest attack during the day was in the town of al- Sherqat, some 290 km north of Baghdad, when a twin roadside bomb explosions targeted a leader of a local Awakening Council group, killing three people and wounding 23 others, a local police source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity. The first blast struck the car of Hameed Hmiesh, the leader of the local paramilitary group, damaging his car and caused no casualties, the source said. Few minutes later, another roadside bomb went off targeted a crowd of people who gathered to look at the scene of the first blast, killing three and wounding 23 others, including some Sahwa members, the source said, adding that Hmiesh himself survived the double blasts unhurt." AFP reports, "In Bohruz, in the restive Diyala province of northeast Iraq, a state oil company employee was shot dead, security officials said." Reuters notes 1 police Lt Col was shot dead in Baghdad, 1 Housing and Construction Ministry worker was shot dead in Baghdad, 1 construction worker was shot dead in Mosul, a Baghdad sticky bombing claimed the life of Brig Gen Mohammed Hameed, a Baghdad roadside bombing injured two people and a Mosul roadside bombing injured two people. Saad Abdul-Kadir (AP) drops back to last night to note that 1 surgeon and 1 engineer were shot dead at Baghdad International Airport while 1 professor was shot dead in Baghdad.
Turning to the United States, the National Lawyers Guild issued the following today:
Contact:
Paige Cram,
Communications Coordinator
212-679-5100, ext. 15
New York:
The National Lawyers Guild (NLG) filed an amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief on November 23, 2010 in the case of "the SHAC 7" – Kevin Kjonaas, Lauren Gazzola, Jacob Conroy, Joshua Harper, Andrew Stepanian, and Darius Fullmer v. United States of America, on petition for writ of certiorari to the United States Supreme Court.
The petitioners are animal rights activists associated with Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC) who were sent to prison based solely on their ideological support for animal rights protests, as expressed on an advocacy-focused internet site. The online speech reported on and expressed support for the actions of third-party activists, including some acts of civil disobedience such as freeing beagles from the custody of the animal testing lab.
The brief asked the Court to clarify how longstanding First Amendment principles apply in blogs and internet websites, which are an important and developing aspect of our culture. Under traditional legal tests, criminal incitement and threats must be designed to evoke imminent unlawful action. But as the brief notes, "The nature of the internet — available to and aimed at a general audience rather than a specific target, reaching numbers unknowable to the speaker at the time the communication is made, and accessed over an unpredictable period of time — precludes application of traditional tests to establish the imminence and incitement needed to constitute a 'true threat.'"
The brief, written by attorneys Heidi Boghosian (NLG Director) and Prof. Zachary Wolfe (NLG National Vice President and chair of the Amicus Committee), explains that any appropriate framework must protect the right to engage in heightened political rhetoric on the internet such as practiced by the SHAC 7.
"The SHAC 7 case has broad implications for First Amendment jurisprudence," said Heidi Boghosian. "At issue is a website that disseminated information on animal welfare demonstrations and direct actions—the National Lawyers Guild does not believe that this kind of internet organizing rises to the level of proscribed speech."
The National Lawyers Guild, founded in 1937, is the oldest and largest public interest/human rights bar organization in the United States. Its headquarters are in New York and it has chapters in every state.
A copy of the brief is available below.
###
The US Justice Dept is targeting activists. Friday, September 24th FBI raids took place on at least seven homes of peace activists -- the FBI admits to raiding seven homes -- and the FBI raided the offices of Anti-War Committee. Just as that news was breaking, the National Lawyers Guild issued a new report, Heidi Boghosian's [PDF format warning] "The Policing of Political Speech: Constraints on Mass Dissent in the US." Heidi and Michael S. Smith and Michael Ratner covered the topic on WBAI's Law and Disorder Radio including during a conversation with Margaret Ratner-Kunstler which you can hear at the program's site by going into the archives and the program has also transcribed their discussion with Margaret and you can read it here. Nicole Colson (US Socialist Worker) spoke with Michael Ratner about the raids and you can also refer to that. This week's
edition of Law and Disorder Radio (on WBAI Monday morning and around the country throughout the week) had an important segment where hosts Heidi Boghosian, Michael Ratner (click here for an ISR interview with Michael) and Michael S. Smith noted what to do when questioned by government agents. We noted it yesterday, it is important and we're going to note it again today:
Michael S. Smith: Heidi, congratulations, I'm holding in my hand this beautiful red and white and yellow pamphlet "You Have The Right To Remain Silent." Congratulations on getting this out. This National Lawyers Guild pamphlet is going to come in very handy.
Heidi Boghosian: Thanks, Michael, it's actually a Know Your Rights guide for law enforcement encounters and we designed it specifically so that it could fit in the rear pocket of someone's jeans or pants. It has basic know-your-rights information: what to do if the FBI comes to your door, what if you're not a citizen, I think there's something about rights at airports, if you're under 18. It's free of charge [to download] at www.nlg.org/ and if you want to get bulk amounts we will send you fifty free of charge and then we just ask for shipping & handling for orders above that.
Michael Ratner: It's interesting that it fits into your pocket because you know, Michael and I and you -- well you're not as old as us -- but when we used to give advice to people at demonstrations, we used to tell them to sew their pockets up so you couldn't plant -- the cops couldn't plant -- marijuana in their pockets. So you'd go to demonstrations with all your pockets sewn up. But at least -- Maybe they don't do that as much. You can carry this little book with you instead of writing the whole thing on your arm.
Heidi Boghosian: I'm speechless.
Michael S. Smith: She's speechless.
Heidi Boghosian: That's fascinating.
Michael Ratner: And about pockets, that's also interesting, my daughter once had to an assignment about clothes for boys or girls when she was a little girl. And, of course, what you notice is that girl's clothes have no pockets.
Heidi Boghosian: I know. I hate that.
Michael Ratner: It's terrible.
Heidi Boghosian: I only buy things with pockets.
Michael Ratner: And it's a weird sexual discrimination. Boys are supposed to carry all these things but girls --
Heidi Boghosian: I know they have to have a pocket book.
Michael Ratner: But back to the pocketing Guild pamphlet called?
Michael Ratner: Now Michael's going to say something about the substance of it.
Michael S. Smith: If you receive a subpeona call the NLG national office hotline at 888-NLG-ECOL I'll repeat 888-654-3265.
Michael Ratner: Or if the FBI starts to question you, don't answer even the first question. Just say "I don't want to speak to the FBI" or refer them to your lawyer. [laughing] And that's H-e-i-d -- No, no. But in any case, you should refer them to your lawyer or just say you're not talking to the FBI. And it's such a short little pamphlet, it's perfect for taking to demos, it doesn't have our basic position about the FBI which is: Once you start talking to the FBI or Homeland Security or any of these so-called law enforcement or police intelligence there's the potato chip example. Once you start eating potato chips, you can't stop. It's the same for talking. Heidi's waiving her arms.
Heidi Boghosian: Michael, that's a great point. And, in fact, we do have a section called "Standing Up For Free Speech." I just want to quote one sentence or two. "Informed resistance to these tactics and steadfast defense of your and others' rights can bring positive results. Each person who takes a courageous stand makes future resistance to government oppression easier for all." So just to remind listeners, if you'd like a copy or multiple copies, it's called "You Have The Right To Remain Silent: A Know Your Rights Guide For Law Enforcement Encounters" and it's available through the National Lawyers Guild, www.nlg.org/.
Finally, tomorrow's Thanksgiving in the US. Some families have way more to deal with than anyone ever should. Rosie and Leroy Torres have to spend their time fighting for the care and treatment Leroy needs, the treatment Leroy's owed by the US government which was happy to deploy him to Iraq but has refused to grant him the treatment that he needs:

My husband, Captain Leroy Torres from Robstown, Texas serves a dual role to his
community as a State Trooper and as a Captain for the U.S. Army Reserve for 21 years.
In 2007 he was deployed for one year to Camp Anaconda in Balad, Iraq where the
largest burn pit is located. He initially became ill with upper respiratory infections and flu like symptoms during his tour at Camp Anaconda. Upon his return he was diagnosed with Bronchitis, upper respiratory infections, and "Iraqi Crud" by various healthcare facilities to include private sector, Department Of Defense (BAMC & Wilford Hall) and Department Of Veteran Affairs (Audie Murphy & CBOC). The VA and DOD's negligence and refusal to provide the proper testing left Leroy with the VA stating his diagnosis of "unknown etiology with dyspnea." The DOD failed to deliver test results and follow-up care.
This year our Thanksgiving holiday will not be celebrated with our children, instead we will be spending our Thanksgiving on the road after seeking specialized medical care for illness resulting from exposures to environmental hazardous toxins and chemicals from the burn pit. Two years and over 25 medical visits later, both DOD and VA continue to deny a chemically induced connection between his service and illness.
In desperation we had to seek specialized medical care at our own expense from Dr. Miller and Dr. Lambright at Vanderbilt University Hospital in Tennessee. After an exhausting 24 months seeking answers in less than one week doctors at Vanderbilt were able to test and confirm a diagnosis of Constrictive Bronchiolitis due to toxic inhalation from the burn pit.
The emotional and financial expense to our family has been devastating. We have been forced to take FMLA. Our children have been ripped from our lives forcing us to relocate them with various family members across the state causing us to choose between our children and healthcare.
Sadly our story is not the first or the last, thousands of soldiers and their families that have selflessly served our country are battling the same war of accessing specialized healthcare for chemically induced illnesses from the burn pits in the battlefield.
lauren

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Terry Scrotum's not so-fresh air

Terry Scrotum interviewed yet another man on NPR's Fresh Air Tuesday.

You get the feeling Terry was born with both jock itch and womb envy.

Meanwhile Steven Thomma (Miami Herald) reports on a new McClatchy poll:

Nearly half of his own base - 45 percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents - want someone to challenge him for the Democratic nomination, according to the poll.

And, assuming he wins re-nomination, barely more than 1 in 3 voters, or 36 percent, said they'll definitely vote for him, while nearly half, 48 percent, said they'll definitely vote against him.


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

Tuesday, November 23, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, a US veteran struggles for needed health care, another veteran gets banned from his campus for writing an assigned paper, 2 US soldiers have died in Iraq since Friday, the targeting of Iraqi Christians continues, and more.
In the US, Thanksgiving will be celebrated on Thursday. Many families and friends will not be celebrating together for various reasons including work and distance. That's especially true for military families. Sadly, it's also true for veterans' families, for families where veterans have served, are out of the military and should be able to enjoy the day. Rosie and Le Roy Torres could be with their children having a nice Thanksgiving but he was exposed to toxins he never should have been exposed to and now Thanksgiving is another day where the family that should be able to focus on being together instead has to focus on survival:
This year our Thanksgiving holiday will not be celebrated with our children, instead we will be spending our Thanksgiving on the road after seeking specialized medical care for illness resulting from exposures to environmental hazardous toxins and chemicals from the Burn Pits at Camp Anaconda Balad, Iraq. Two years and over 20 medical visits later, both DOD and VA both continue to deny a chemically induced diagnosis. Our only option has been to seek specialized medical care at our own expense from Dr. Miller and Dr. Lambright at Vanderbilt University Hospital in Tennessee, who have been able to confirm a diagnosis. The expenses associated with Burn Pits include lodging (hotel rooms), food, Tri-care insurance co-pays, medications, travel (airline tickets, gas, car rental), time off of work (without pay status under service members family medical leave act), but most importantly it has costs us our family (time away from our children affecting them emotionally).
Senators Byron Dorgan and Evan Bayh have used the Senate Democratic Policy Committee (which Senator Dorgan chairs) as a bully pulpit to attempt to raise awareness and document this issue. Both men leave the Senate in January (both chose not to seek re-election). While they deserve strong applause for the work they did, there is so much work to be done as the Torres family well knows. Along with the Torres family's Burn Pits site, you can also refer to Gulfwarchemicals.com for more information. Le Roy Torres served in Iraq as a Captain in the US Army Reserve and was also a State Trooper. Now he's got to fight for treatment the government more than owes him. There's nothing 'thankful' about that and it goes to a Congress who would rather sit on their ass than address a problem because -- here's the big point -- it costs money. US Senator Jim Webb stabbed Vietnam veterans in the back with his attack on the VA's Agent Orange Registry and that all came down to money -- Webb is more than happy to spend the American tax payers' money on more weapons, he just wants veterans to foot the bill. He was also one of the big opponets to Evan Bayh's proposal for an Iraq and Afghanistan War Registry. Evan presented that himself to the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee where it was roped off and couldn't make it out of committee. One of the strongest objections to a registry was Jim Webb whining yet again about the costs. What about the costs the Torres family's paying? What about the cost of a holiday that the children won't spend with their parents because Le Roy and Roise Torres have to fight and battle just for him to receive NEEDED treatment?
Evan Bayh's registry would have taken care of this issue. It's over. Congress isn't going to vote on it. Jim Webb ensured that it died in committee. As with the Agent Orange Registry -- which VA Secretary Eric Shinseki went around Webb and the other cheapskates to implement -- Webb opposed it because of the cost.
And yet Webb votes to fund every War Supplemental. But the injuries in the war are supposed to be out-of-poket expenses after a service member discharges?
September 30th, a sparsely attended hearing -- which had already been scheduled -- was held. House Veterans Affairs Committee Chair Bob Filner and a few of his colleagues -- including some not even on the Committee -- remained as others did a mad dash out of DC to go hit the road campaigning. At the start of that hearing, Chair Filner delivered some important remarks.
Now a democracy has to go to war sometimes. But people have to know in a democracy what is the cost. They have to be informed of the true -- of the true nature -- not only in terms of the human cost, the material cost, but the hidden cost that we don't know until after the fact or don't recognize. We know -- Why is it that we don't have the mental health care resources for those coming back? Is it because we failed to understand the cost of serving our military veterans is a fundamental cost of the war? Is it because we sent these men and women into harms way without accounting for and providing the resources necessary for their care if they're injured or wounded or killed? Every vote that Congress has taken for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan has failed to take into account the actual cost of these wars by ignoring what we will require to meet the needs of our men and women in uniform who have been sent into harms way. This failure means that soldiers who are sent to war on behalf of their nation do not know if their nation will be there for them tomorrow. The Congress that sends them into harms way assumes no responsibility for the longterm consequences of their deployment. Each war authorization and appropriation kicks the proverbial can down the road and whether or not the needs of our soldiers wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan will be met is totally dependent on the budget priorities of a future Congress which includes two sets of rules: One for going to war and one for providing for our veterans who fight in that war. We don't have a budget for the VA today as we are about to enter the new fiscal year. We are trying to provide for those involved in atomic testing in WWII -- who were told would be no problems and yet they can't get compensation for cancers. We cannot -- This Committee and this Congress has a majority of people who say we should fully compensate the victims of Agent Orange for injuries in WWII -- I'm sorry, Vietnam. Yet was have a pay-go rule on a bill that's coming out of here. They say it's going to cost ten billion dollars or twenty billion over the next ten years. We don't have it. Why don't we have it? They fought for this nation. We're trying to deal with the Persian Gulf War still -- not to mention all the casualties from this one. So we have to find a pay-go. But the Dept of Defense doesn't have to. So the system that we have for appropriating funds in Congress is designed to make it much easier to vote to send our soldiers into harms way. That's much easier than to care for them when they come home. This Committee and everyone of the people here has had to fight tooth and nail to get enough money for our veterans. We got to fight for it every day. We've been successful in the last few years but we don't know if that will -- if that rate of growth will continue. This is morally wrong in my opinion and an abdication of our fundamental responsibilities as members of Congress. It is past time for Congress to recognize that standing by our men and women in uniform -- meeting their needs -- is a fundamental cost of war and we should account for those needs and take responsibility for meeting them at the time that we send these young people into combat.Every Congressional appropriation for war, in my view, should include money for what, I'm going to call it, a veterans' trust fund that will ensure the projected needs of our wounded and injured soldiers are fully met at the time that their going to war is appropriated.
If the cost was factored in, cheapskates -- when it comes to health -- like Jim Webb wouldn't be able to prevent veterans from receiving the care they need. It's amazing that Jim Webb has signed off on how many billions for war in his brief time as a Democrat and as a senator but getting him to back full medical treatment for veterans is about as difficult as getting him to pick a check. He should be ashamed of himself.
Many veterans and contractors are turning to the court system in an effort to get some form of justice that the Congress has been unable to deliver. Disclosure, I know Susan Burke and think she's one of the strongest attorneys around. This is a press release from Motley Rice Law Firm who have partnered with her on burn pit cases:
Motley Rice attorneys have joined with co-counsel Susan Burke and her firm Burke PLLC in the KBR, Inc., Burn Pit multidistrict litigation to represent clients against multiple defense contractors for allegedly exposing American soldiers, veterans and former employees of defense contractors who worked and lived on or near military bases in Iraq and Afghanistan to toxic smoke, ash and fumes generated through the disposal of waste in open burn pits. The plaintiffs in Jobes v. KBR, Inc. et al. allege that prolonged exposure to the pits' smoke, ash, and fumes caused injuries such as chronic illnesses, risk of illnesses and wrongful death. The injured plaintiffs also allege that the defendants had a duty to warn U.S. service members and civilians working and living around burn pit fumes about health and safety issues but failed to properly do so.
Plaintiff's also allege that these contractors used open burn pits rather than clean-burning incinerators at the majority of U.S. Military facilities in the Middle East in order to increase profits. Items disposed of in the burn pits may have included hazardous medical waste, hydraulic fluids, lithium batteries, tires and trucks (see detailed list below).
On Friday, October 15, 2010, the US Government Accountability Office released the Afghanistan and Iraq Report, in response to a request by Congress. It states that of the four burn pits they surveyed in Iraq, all standards outlined in 2009 for burn pit operations are not being met.
On Wednesday, September 8, 2010, Honorable Roger W. Titus of the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland ruled that the lawsuits in In re: KBR Inc. Burn Pit Litigation may proceed after denying the defendants' motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The ruling allows the litigation to move forward and "carefully limited discovery" to take place.
The defendants who contracted to provide waste disposal services for United States operations in Iraq and Afghanistan are Texas-based contractors KBR, Inc.; Kellogg, Brown & Root Services, Inc.; Kellogg, Brown & Root LLC; and Halliburton Company. The plaintiffs seek monetary damages to compensate them for physical injuries, emotional distress, fear of future disease and the need for continued medical treatment and monitoring.
Thanksgiving will be Thursday and service members will remain in Iraq because that war didn't end. In addition, veterans of both it and Afghanistan will include many who are fighting for treatment, some even fighting for breath. That is violence, that is ongoing violence and Congress needs to start funding real and full benefits.
Violence continued today in Iraq as well . . .
Bombings?
Reuters notes a Kirkuk roadside bombing left two people injured, a Baghdad roadside bombing left one person injured, a second Baghdad roadside bombing injured an Iraqi soldier, 2 Tuk Khurmato roadside bombings claimed the life of 1 Iraqi soldier and, dropping back to Monday, a Ramadi roadside bombing injured one person, a Samarra roadside bombing injured a police officer.
Shootings?
Reuters notes 1 Ministry of Higher Education worker was shot dead in Baghdad, 1 Ministry of Municipalities worker was shot dead in Baghdad (both murders used guns with silencers), an armed clash at a Mosul military checkpoint in which Iraqi soldiers returned fire (following grenade attacks) and shot dead 2 suspects, 1 suspect was wounded in Mosul when police shot him, and, dropping back to Monday, 2 "government employees" were shot dead in Baghdad.

Corpses?
Reuters notes 1 male corpse was discovered in Mosul late last night.
Since Friday, 2 US soldiers have died. Sunday, US military announced: "BAGHDAD -- A United States Forces -- Iraq Soldier died of wounds sustained from enemy small arms fire Sunday during advisory operations in Northern Iraq. 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 currently under investigation." Yesterday DoD identified the fallen: "The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation New Dawn. Sgt. David J. Luff Jr., 29, of Hamilton, Ohio, died Nov. 21 in Tikrit, Iraq, of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his unit with small arms fire. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, Schofield Barracks, Hawaii. For more information, media should contact the 25th Infantry Division public affairs office at 808-655-6361 or 808-655-6343."

Luff's death we noted in yesterday's snapshot. A friend pointed out to me that there was a death before that which I missed (my apologies). Friday USF announced, "BAGHDAD – A United States Forces – Iraq Soldier died during physical training at Joint Base Balad, Iraq on Friday. 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." Yesterday, DoD identified the fallen: "The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation New Dawn. Staff Sgt. Loleni W. Gandy, 36, of Pago Pago, American Samoa, died Nov. 19 in Balad, Iraq, in a non-combat related incident. He was assigned to the 103rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command, Des Moines, Iowa. For more information, media should contact the 103rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command public affairs office at 515-867-9858 or 515-285-4692, ext. 3071." That's two deaths. Currently, the
(PDF format warning) DoD count of Americans killed serving in Iraq stands at 4432.
Staying with the violence, Iraqi Christians have been targeted since the start of the illegal war. The latest wave started on October 31st when assailants attacked Our Lady of Salvation Church in Baghdad and at least 70 people died with at least another seventy wounded. Iraqis covered in the press -- in the foreign press, little coverage on this comes from the domestic press -- would state in that immediate aftermath that they were thinking of moving to Mosul but a relative or friend warned them that it wasn't safe there. Mosul was the focus of a 2008 wave of assaults on Iraqi Christians and, since the siege of the Church in Baghdad, Mosul's again become a place where Iraqi Christians are targeted. Yesterday three more Christians turned up dead in Mosul. The Los Angeles Times reports that a Ninawa Governorate source states there was also an attack on a family of Christians in Mosul that citizens were able to stop. Larisa Epatko (PBS' NewsHour -- link has text and videos) reports today on how this targeting is "driving fear into the hearts of the remaining members of this religious minority in Iraq, and causing many to seek sanctuary in other places." She speaks with the Tennessee-based Iraqi Christians in Need whose Susan Dakak states, "None of the Iraqi Christians want to leave their homeland, because that's their home and they want to stay there. They're leaving because they have to." Hamid Ahmed (Associated Press) reports today that Iraqi MP Younadem Kana is trashing "the nations that have offered asylum to" Iraqi Christians and he then opened up the full crazy as he began attackin France and Germany by saying their offers were part of "foreign agendas that aim to deplete Iraq's Christian community."
The UK's Iraqi Christians in Need has posted David Frost's interview with Father Nizar Semaan of the Syrian Catholic Community in the United Kingdom this month (from Al Jazeera's Frost Over The World). Excerpt.
David Frost: Now obviously Christians in Iraq are getting two very different pieces of advice in various churches and so on. On the one hand, 'we must stay,' one bishop was saying, 'we must stay because we must bear witness to our faith in Iraq. We cannot be pushed out.' And then there are other bishops and others who say, 'No, it's crazy to stay in Iraq. We must persuade our people to leave because their lives are in danger and every day they stay there their lives are in more danger.' Which would be your advice?
Father Nizar Semaan: My advice, if the people -- My advice, it's my Church's advice -- Iraqi bishops, not just one bishop, many Iraqi bishops, they say the same thing: Encourage the faithful to stay there, to be a witness of their faith. We know it's hard, we know it's terrible time, we know it's difficult, we know a human being sometime cannot stand it, but we are Christian, we are original people of this land and I think our leaving now, exactly in this time, it's like giving a victory to a terroristic group.
By that 'logic,' the Jews who escaped the Nazis were handing the Nazis a victory. No, it's not really logic at all. The opinion of this site is that Iraqi Christians in Iraq will make the decision for themselves. And it takes a lot of gall for a priest living in London to claim 'we' should stay in Iraq. Father Nizar Semaan is always around to speak for Iraqi Christians in Iraq -- from London. I seem to recall his cheerleading the ILLEGAL WAR -- even the Church called it illegal -- and doing so throughout the first years of the war. I seem to recall his infamous statements on the capture of Saddam Hussein. I seem to recall his lamenting just a little while ago that Mosul had less and less Christians and less and less Churches -- and all of this, I seem to recall -- were observations he made from London.
I happen to know he is one of the ones who just 'knows' -- any day now -- Iraqi Christians are going to get their own land. That's highly unlikely. But could part of the reason for his insisting that Iraqi Christians remain in Iraq be due to the fact that he's angling for the government of Iraq to create a Christian region? Yeah, his motives are suspect. His intelligence is also in doubt. He spoke with Frost about the need for a fatwa. He also spoke about that with Rebecca Anderson on CNN International's Connect the World.
Rebecca Anderson: And, Father, you're calling on Islamic leaders to help protect Christians by issuing -- and I was quite surprised to hear this -- a fatwa against the killings. We welcome you to the show. Just explain why you've done that.
Father Nizar Semaan: Because we thought it was just. As we like to say in the Middle East, we have to cooperate with our brothers and sisters there. I mean it was the only way to be protected in that area. And if our Muslim brothers, I mean the head of our Muslim brothers, they will issue this kind of fatwa to prohibit to kill the Christians, I think this is -- it will be a big victory, not just for the Christians, but either for the Islamic religion itself, [. . .]
Rebecca Anderson: What sort of response have you had from the Islamic community?
Father Nizar Semaan: No one answered me positively. And I wish to hear the answer this.
No one answered him. Gee, what a puzzler.
Turning to real thought -- as opposed to delusional fantasies -- today the British think tank, one of the oldest surviving think tanks, Chatham House issues a new report by Dawn Chatty. Two pages [PDF format warning] entitled "Seeking Safety" cover Iraqi refugees.
Four million refugees have fled Iraq since the invasion of March 2003. Most are in the Middle East, a region which is now home to more than a third of the world's refugees. These numbers are now bound to grow as Iraq's Nestorian or Assyrian Christians -- nearly half a million -- are increasingly targeted by insurgents.
Jordan already provides shelter for over one million Palestinians and Syria nearly half that number. Crucially, despite the tolerance of their hosts, Iraqis' recent refuge in the neighboruing countries of Syria, Jordan, and Lebanon is rapidly becoming a protracted crisis. Unwilling to return and largely unable to emigrate further west or north, Iraq's refugees are in a perilous situation which needs to be recognised and addressed by the western powers whose military action created this humanitarian crisis.
It's a crisis and the same US government which refused to grant sanctuary to the passengers of the St. Louis in 1939 -- thereby dooming them to concentration camps -- with many dying in them -- now refuses to do a thing to help. The US president can't even call out the targeting of Iraqi Christians. Has thus far refused to publicly acknowledge it. Just like FDR refused to acknowledge the plea from the passengers of the St. Louis.
Human Rights First issued the following statement last week:
Washington, D.C. -- Today, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton will release the 2010 Annual Report on International Religious Freedom, an annual examination of "the legal status of religious freedom as well as the attitudes towards it, in almost 200 countries and territories around the world." Human Rights First is urging the administration to use the report to strengthen efforts to protect religious minorities around the world -- such as the Iraqi Christians -- and to combat defamation of religion laws that are used to silence debate and dissent and persecute religious minorities.
[. . .]
In Iraq, the Christian community has recently been targeted for brutal attack. This fall, the United Nations General Assembly will engage in a debate over a contentious "defamation of religions" resolution. Human Rights First has found that defamation laws are frequently used to target individuals for the peaceful expression of political or religious views. A recent report issued by the organization, Blasphemy Laws Exposed: The Consequences of Criminalizing "Defamation of Religions," details more than 50 recent cases from 15 countries that provide a window into how national blasphemy laws are abused by governments. The real-life stories in this report document how time and again, accusations of blasphemy have resulted in arrests and arbitrary detentions and have sparked assaults, murders and mob attacks.
As the State Department releases today's report, Human Rights First is urging the administration to maintain its position against such a measure at the United Nations and to urge other nations to join in opposing its passage.
It is also urging the administration to respond to a series of recent attacks targeting Christians in Iraq. Among the group's key recommendations are the following:
  • The United States should continue to support the protection of Iraqi refugees and displaced people, by leading the international community in providing assistance for Iraqis who have been displaced by the violence in Iraq and by encouraging other states to join more robustly in this effort.
  • The Department of State, with other relevant agencies, should take additional steps to improve the pace of resettlement for Iraqi refugees -- at present, they can wait a year or more for their applications to be processed -- so that refugees are not left stranded in difficult or dangerous circumstances for extended periods of time;
  • The Department of State, with other relevant agencies, should enhance capacity to expedite the resettlement of refugees who face imminent harm by developing a transparent and formal expedited procedure for refugees who face an imminent risk of harm; and
  • The Department of State, working with the Department of Homeland Security and intelligence agencies, should improve the staffing, coordination, and timeliness of the security clearance process so that Iraqi refugees are not left stranded in difficult and dangerous situations.
"In many parts of the world, people are in danger because of how they choose to worship. The United States must fulfill its promise to protect those fleeing persecution," Stahnke concluded.
Like the targeting, the political stalemate continues.
March 7th, Iraq concluded Parliamentary elections. The Guardian's editorial board noted in August, "These elections were hailed prematurely by Mr Obama as a success, but everything that has happened since has surely doused that optimism in a cold shower of reality." 163 seats are needed to form the executive government (prime minister and council of ministers). When no single slate wins 163 seats (or possibly higher -- 163 is the number today but the Parliament added seats this election and, in four more years, they may add more which could increase the number of seats needed to form the executive government), power-sharing coalitions must be formed with other slates, parties and/or individual candidates. (Eight Parliament seats were awarded, for example, to minority candidates who represent various religious minorities in Iraq.) Ayad Allawi is the head of Iraqiya which won 91 seats in the Parliament making it the biggest seat holder. Second place went to State Of Law which Nouri al-Maliki, the current prime minister, heads. They won 89 seats. Nouri made a big show of lodging complaints and issuing allegations to distract and delay the certification of the initial results while he formed a power-sharing coalition with third place winner Iraqi National Alliance -- this coalition still does not give them 163 seats. November 10th a power sharing deal resulted in the Parliament meeting for the second time and voting in a Speaker. And then Iraqiya felt double crossed on the deal and the bulk of their members stormed out of the Parliament. David Ignatius (Washington Post) explains, "The fragility of the coalition was dramatically obvious Thursday as members of the Iraqiya party, which represents Sunnis, walked out of Parliament, claiming that they were already being double-crossed by Maliki. Iraqi politics is always an exercise in brinkmanship, and the compromises unfortunately remain of the save-your-neck variety, rather than reflecting a deeper accord. " After that, Jalal Talabani was voted President of Iraq. Talabani then named Nouri as the prime minister-delegate. If Nouri can meet the conditions outlined in Article 76 of the Constitution (basically nominate ministers for each council and have Parliament vote to approve each one with a minimum of 163 votes each time and to vote for his council program) within thirty days, he becomes the prime minister. If not, Talabani must name another prime minister-delegate. . In 2005, Iraq took four months and seven days to pick a prime minister-delegate. It took eight months and two days to name Nouri as prime minister-delegate. His first go-round, on April 22, 2006, his thirty day limit kicked in. May 20, 2006, he announced his cabinet -- sort of. Sort of because he didn't nominate a Minister of Defense, a Minister of Interior and a Minister of a Natioanl Security. This was accomplished, John F. Burns wrote in "For Some, a Last, Best Hope for U.S. Efforts in Iraq" (New York Times), only with "muscular" assistance from the Bush White House. Nouri declared he would be the Interior Ministry temporarily. Temporarily lasted until June 8, 2006. This was when the US was able to strong-arm, when they'd knocked out the other choice for prime minister (Ibrahim al-Jaafari) to install puppet Nouri and when they had over 100,000 troops on the ground in Iraq. Nouri had no competition. That's very different from today. The Constitution is very clear and it is doubtful his opponents -- including within his own alliance -- will look the other way if he can't fill all the posts in 30 days. As Leila Fadel (Washington Post) observes, "With the three top slots resolved, Maliki will now begin to distribute ministries and other top jobs, a process that has the potential to be as divisive as the initial phase of government formation." Jane Arraf (Christian Science Monitor) points out, "Maliki now has 30 days to decide on cabinet posts - some of which will likely go to Iraqiya - and put together a full government. His governing coalition owes part of its existence to followers of hard-line cleric Muqtada al Sadr, leading Sunnis and others to believe that his government will be indebted to Iran." The stalemate ends when the country has a prime minister. It is now eight months, sixteen days and counting. Space limitations (I'm re-editing the snapshot in a second dictation attempt, it's just too long to 'hit' the site via e-mail) mean we'll just note it continues and pick up tomorrow when we will hopefully be able to note Ernesto Londono's article for the Washington Post.

Turning to the US, the latest Law and Disorder Radio began airing this week (on WBAI Monday morning and around the country throughout the week). Hosts Heidi Boghosian, Michael Ratner (click here for an ISR interview with Michael) and Michael S. Smith noted what to do when questioned by government agents.
Michael S. Smith: Heidi, congratulations, I'm holding in my hand this beautiful red and white and yellow pamphlet "You Have The Right To Remain Silent." Congratulations on getting this out. This National Lawyers Guild pamphlet is going to come in very handy.
Heidi Boghosian: Thanks, Michael, it's actually a Know Your Rights guide for law enforcement encounters and we designed it specifically so that it could fit in the rear pocket of someone's jeans or pants. It has basic know-your-rights information: what to do if the FBI comes to your door, what if you're not a citizen, I think there's something about rights at airports, if you're under 18. It's free of charge [to download] at www.nlg.org/ and if you want to get bulk amounts we will send you fifty free of charge and then we just ask for shipping & handling for orders above that.
Michael Ratner: It's interesting that it fits into your pocket because you know, Michael and I and you -- well you're not as old as us -- but when we used to give advice to people at demonstrations, we used to tell them to sew their pockets up so you couldn't plant -- the cops couldn't plant -- marijuana in their pockets. So you'd go to demonstrations with all your pockets sewn up. But at least -- Maybe they don't do that as much. You can carry this little book with you instead of writing the whole thing on your arm.
Heidi Boghosian: I'm speechless.
Michael S. Smith: She's speechless.
Heidi Boghosian: That's fascinating.
Michael Ratner: And about pockets, that's also interesting, my daughter once had to an assignment about clothes for boys or girls when she was a little girl. And, of course, what you notice is that girl's clothes have no pockets.
Heidi Boghosian: I know. I hate that.
Michael Ratner: It's terrible.
Heidi Boghosian: I only buy things with pockets.
Michael Ratner: And it's a weird sexual discrimination. Boys are supposed to carry all these things but girls --
Heidi Boghosian: I know they have to have a pocket book.
Michael Ratner: But back to the pocketing Guild pamphlet called?
Michael Ratner: Now Michael's going to say something about the substance of it.
Michael S. Smith: If you receive a subpeona call the NLG national office hotline at 888-NLG-ECOL I'll repeat 888-654-3265.
Michael Ratner: Or if the FBI starts to question you, don't answer even the first question. Just say "I don't want to speak to the FBI" or refer them to your lawyer. [laughing] And that's H-e-i-d -- No, no. But in any case, you should refer them to your lawyer or just say you're not talking to the FBI. And it's such a short little pamphlet, it's perfect for taking to demos, it doesn't have our basic position about the FBI which is: Once you start talking to the FBI or Homeland Security or any of these so-called law enforcement or police intelligence there's the potato chip example. Once you start eating potato chips, you can't stop. It's the same for talking. Heidi's waiving her arms.
Heidi Boghosian: Michael, that's a great point. And, in fact, we do have a section called "Standing Up For Free Speech." I just want to quote one sentence or two. "Informed resistance to these tactics and steadfast defense of your and others' rights can bring positive results. Each person who takes a courageous stand makes future resistance to government oppression easier for all." So just to remind listeners, if you'd like a copy or multiple copies, it's called "You Have The Right To Remain Silent: A Know Your Rights Guide For Law Enforcement Encounters" and it's available through the National Lawyers Guild, www.nlg.org/.
Two things on the above. One, you're being questioned and you don't have a lawyer? Doesn't matter. State your attorney will contact them or that you want to speak to an attorney first. Then you can contact the National Lawyers Guild at the number given above. Second, you've spoken to the officers already? You can stop at any time. It's better not to have spoken, to have immediately said you want to speak to your attorney but you can do that in the midst of answering the first time or the second time or whenever. You're on stronger ground for your own interests by sticking to that from the start; however, your answering questions earlier does not mean that you've surrendered the right to speak to an attorney. (We're talking about questioning, not being charged. When you're questioned, you have to find your own attorney. If you're charged and can't afford an attorney, the government has to provide you with one.)
Now the advice that the Michaels and Heidi are offering is important every day of the week but it has a special urgency since the US Justice Dept began targeting activist. Friday, September 24th FBI raids took place on at least seven homes of peace activists -- the FBI admits to raiding seven homes -- and the FBI raided the offices of Anti-War Committee. Just as that news was breaking, the National Lawyers Guild issued a new report, Heidi Boghosian's [PDF format warning] "The Policing of Political Speech: Constraints on Mass Dissent in the US." Heidi and Michael S. Smith and Michael Ratner covered the topic on WBAI's Law and Disorder Radio including during a conversation with Margaret Ratner-Kunstler which you can hear at the program's site by going into the archives and the program has also transcribed their discussion with Margaret and you can read it here. Nicole Colson (US Socialist Worker) spoke with Michael Ratner about the raids and you can also refer to that. Angela Davis knows more than a little about being targeted for activism. And those targeted today can realize that Angela survived it -- and it was wicked -- and went on to become one of the country's most respected professors. At ZNet last week, she shared her thoughts on the latest wave of targeting:

The FBI seized computers, cell phones, boxes of papers and personal possessions from all 14. They served grand jury subpoenas on many of them. The FBI announced they were investigating possible "material support" to terrorist groups. But it appears that their real purpose is to disrupt the growing unity of the majority of Americans who are critical of the wars and occupations being carried out today in Iraq and Afghanistan, who oppose U. S. support for violence against trade unionists in Colombia and against Palestinians by the Israeli government in Israel, on the West Bank, and in Gaza. The only way the FBI's actions make any sense at all is to see them as an attempt to isolate and intimidate any who would dissent from government policy or speak out against injustice. These raids violate the spirit and the letter of the Bill of Rights. They endanger the freedom of the entire U. S. population.

We learned bitter lessons from the FBI's COINTELPRO repression in the 1960s, in which African American leaders, including Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, and leaders of the Black Panther Party such as Fred Hampton, were targeted for assassination. Progressive movements were targeted for disruption.

I urge President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder to

· Direct the FBI to return the belongings seized.

· Dissolve the grand juries threatening an inquisition against peace and solidarity activists and movements.

· Cancel all subpoenas to appear before the grand jury in Chicago.

I would like to work with my Congressman Barbara Lee to support initiatives in Congress for the repeal of provisions of law that define solidarity with human rights abroad as "material support" for terrorism. The rights of all Americans must be preserved to peaceably assemble and petition their government to end support for repressive and militarist governments abroad, and states that commit war crimes and terrorist acts against their own or other people struggling for basic human rights.

Staying on legal but moving over to a class essay:
Over in Iraq and Afghanistan killing becomes a habit, a way of life, a drug to me and to other soldiers like me who need to feel like we can survive off of it. It is something that I do not just want, but something I really need so I can feel like myself. Killing a man and looking into his eyes, I see his soul draining from his body; I am taking away his life for the harm he has caused me, my family, my country.

Killing is a drug to me and has been ever since the first time I have killed someone. At first, it was weird and felt wrong, but by the time of the third and fourth killing it feels so natural. It feels like I could do this for the rest of my life and it makes me happy.

There are several addictions in war, but this one is mine. This is what I was trained to do and now I cannot get rid of it; it will be with me for the rest of my life and hurts me that I cannot go back to war and kill again, because I would love too.


That's a portion of an essay a student wrote. It's a brief essay, the Baltimore Sun has it here in full. The essay is well written and anything any student should be proud of and any professor should find a pleasure to read. This essay got more than high marks, it got Charles Whittington banned from campus. The Iraq War veteran attends Community College of Baltimore in Maryland and he's been barred from campus as a result of his essay. Jennifer Rizzo (CNN -- link has text and video) reports, "Concerned about school safety, the college's administration has temporarily removed Whittington from campus, issuing a notice of trespass that does not allow him to enter the campus or attend classes, according to a school spokeswoman." Charles Whittington has several defenses of his essay. In my opinion, he doesn't need any of them. Students aren't targeted or threatened in his essay. His essay is clearly an attempt at confessional writing and, to do that, you highlight a portion of yourself, bring it to the fore. It's not who you are, it is a part of who you are. It's not the overwhelming quality. You would expect that might be confusing to some people; however, we're talking higher education. Or is the faculty at Community College of Baltimore nothing but a bunch of rejects who couldn't grasp the basics of what they've been tasked to encourage the pursuit of?
He shared something he felt -- which was the assignment -- and he did so in a well written manner. How much a part of him this is only he knows. That's what happens when you go deep inside yourself. You pull out a few things and maybe they're dominant traits/memories/what have you, maybe they're not. (In fact, students have -- shocking though it may be to some -- faked things on writing assignments before.) To suspend him over this paper is appalling. He did the assignment, the professor like the paper. What message is the junior college sending when a student completes an assignment and completes it to satisfaction only to then be barred from campus because of the assignment? That doesn't encourage academic pursuit or any kind of respect for learning. We could and would say more but there's just not anymore space left in this snapshot.

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