Friday, January 14, 2011

Who does NPR think it's kidding?

Thursday on NPR's Talk of the Nation, the guests were Peter Bergen, Ben Zimmer, Andrew Stettner, Josh McKenna and Tim Kane. Five guests, none of them women. A one hour show without one woman.

Do they not notice? Do they think we don't?

NPR needs to do some serious internal work. That was established by "Terry Gross' new low (Ann, Ava and C.I.)" -- where Ava, C.I. and myself examined Terry Gross' guests for 2010 and found only 18% were women. When does NPR plan to get serious. Or do they really think a "national" public radio in a country where women make up more than 50% is truly representative with less than 20% of guests on their programs being women?


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

Friday, January 14, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, a group of Iraqis demonstrate against continued war and occupation, Diane Rehm wonders "But what about what the American people have been told?," Christians in Baghdad are attacked and eye witnesses state the police were among the attackers, Barack Obama finally has a statement about the attacks on Iraqi Christians, and more.
This week US Vice President Joe Biden visited several countries including Afghanistan and Iraq. On the second hour of today's The Diane Rehm Show, the visit was discussed and we're emphasing the Iraq section but picking up at the end of the Afghanistan discussion. Diane's guests were NPR's Tom Gjelten, NBC News' Courtney Kube and UPI's Martin Walker. Excerpt:
Diane Rehm: Courtney?
Courtney Kube: Yeah, on Vice President Biden's remarks in Afghanistan, I-I had to laugh when I read that the other day because he's made so many comments about the withdrawal -- the deadline in Afghanistan -- in the past few months. Just three weeks ago, he told Meet The Press -- NBC's Meet The Press -- that-that the US was going to be out of Afghanistan in 2014 come hell or high water. So three weeks later he's standing with President Karzai and says they're going to stay there. Now if you read through his remarks, it's plausible that he was specifically referring to supporting an Afghanistan nation-building plan and that-that it's possible he was talking more about the US would be there in a support role for nation-building -- that's sort of how his aides were spinning it afterwards. Whether that's what he meant or not, you got to ask Vice President Biden, though.
Tom Gjelten: You have to wonder, Diane, whether President [Barack] Obama sent Vice President Biden on this trip to Afghanistan precisely to force him into that situation to clarify his remarks. I think it was -- You know, we were -- everyone was -- looking for the magic words from him about the withdrawal and he did say to them -- he said that the withdrawal of US forces would be "conditions based" and that is not his position before. Clearly, he had gotten the message from President Obama that he needed to get on the same page as the rest of the administration in supporting the policy. That's one point. The second point is, as Martin eluded to, no one could better project the-the credibility of this message than the very figure of the administration who had been most skeptical of it. So, if you have Vice President Biden saying the United States is ready to stay after 2014, you can assume there are no more dissenting voices that are going to detract from that message.
Diane Rehm: But what about what the American people have been told? Namely that we are gonna get out [of Afghanistan] in 2014? Does that matter at all?
Martin Walker: It depends what you mean by "out." And I think this is Courtney's point, but -- as we're seeing in Iraq -- it's one thing to withdraw combat troops.
Diane Rehm: Sounds like the definition of the word "if."
Martin Walker: Exactly. That's the echo I was seeking. But there is a difference between having combat troops engaged in combat aggressive operations and having a number of support troops [who are] training troops and so on. And I think we're going to see that distinction blurred as creatively as possible by the administration over the next couple of years.
Tom Gjelten: You know, Diane, I'll go out on a limb here, I think what really concerns American people more than anything else is casualties and if you can --
Diane Rehm: Exactly.
Tom Gjelten (Con't): -- come up with a presence that does not produce a lot of casualties, there's gonna be a lot more tolerance for it. The United States still has a lot of combat troops in Iraq and will continue to have for a long time. But casualties there have gone way, way down. And I think that probably means the United States would be inclined to accept it -- the people of the United States would be inclined to accept it.
Diane Rehm: But what about Moqtada al-Sadr and his comments that he wants the US out of Iraq right now?
Martin Walker: Well he's back and he seems almost as feisty as [in] the past. What he was not saying was that he would perhaps lead any kind of military action to drive the Americans out. What is really striking is that his joining the government means that the deal that was reached with [Ayad] Allawi to bring the Sunnis on board by making him [Allawi] chairman of this new national strategy council -- that deal now looks hollow. In other words, the stability of Iraq in the future -- which will depend upon Sunni support -- now looks a great deal less certain than it was looking just two weeks ago.
Since Diane raised the issue of Moqtada al-Sadr, we'll move first to him and his supporters. Khaled Farhan, Khalid al-Ansary, Michael Christie and Tim Pearce (Reuters) report that approximately 2,000 followers of Moqtada al-Sadr marched through Kufa protesting that Joe Biden had visited and, P.S., they don't want him coming back. Of course the protest might not be so damn laughable if they'd managed to stage it while Joe Biden was actually in Iraq. In what should be a show of strength or at least moderate influence, the Sadr movement looks incredibly sad as their protest takes place after Biden leaves. So much for the talk of 'powerful' Moqtada and his 'powerful' movement. Azzaman reports that the followers "chanted anti-Ameircan slogans" and quoted follower Mohammed Abbas ("day-laborer") stating, "We demand no repeat visits to Iraq by Biden and we demand the departure of the occupier."
In the midst of a series of high profile meetings with Nouri al-Maliki, Grand Ayatollah Sayyed Ali al-Sistani and Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, Moqtada al-Sadr presumably wanted to "stay on message." The protest knocked him off that and, in fact, got far more attention than did any of his photo-ops. It's doubtful al-Sadr's sanctined, let alone called for, the demonstration which only further indicates the problems he will be experiencing in the coming months as he tries to strike the pose of leader of a civil and engaged political body. His years and years in exile has allowed his 'movement' to engage in a variety of activities and, as Kufa's protest demonstrates, they still think that is appropriate -- even when it knocks al-Sadr off message and, in fact, upstages him and forces him to spend Saturday addressing the topic of the protest. So much for 'fearless' or 'fearful' leader Moqtada al-Sadr. Whether these are merely initial growing pains as the 'movement' and the man re-embrace or if they are signs of a natural split emerging will be determined in the coming months.
Moqtada al-Sadr wasn't the only one visiting al-Sistaning, also visiting him was Iraq's President Jalal Talabani. Al Mada reports that al-Sistani stressed that Iraq was a place for all Iraqis regardless of "religion, doctrine or nationalism, they are all brothers and we stand as one" and that Talabani told reporters after the meeting that he discussed with al-Sistani the suffering of Iraqi Christians and that al-Sistani repudiates the attacks and calls them crimes that do an injustice to all of Iraq. However, approximatley at the time Talabani was speaking to reporters, the Christian Association of Ashurbanipal in Baghdad was under attack and their property was damanged by unknown assailants and by, according to eye witness, Baghdad police officers. Abdul-Karim, speaking for the police, denied that they were connected to the attack. One eye witness reports that the Baghdad police could be seen with the assailants and exclaiming, "We are an Islamic state!" and "No place for Christians and Yazidis in Baghdad!" Iraqi Christians have long been targeted throughout the Iraq War and the latest wave of attacks started October 31st with the assault on Our Lady of Salvation Church in Baghdad leading to the deaths of approximately 70 people with approximately 70 others left injured.
In November, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton became the highest ranking US official to speak out on the ongoing attacks. Joe Biden quickly followed. Today President Barack Obama issued the following proclamation:
Our Nation was founded on a shared commitment to the values of justice, freedom, and equality. On Religious Freedom Day, we commemorate Virginia's 1786 Statute for Religious Freedom, in which Thomas Jefferson wrote that "all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinion in matters of religion." The fundamental principle of religious freedom -- guarded by our Founders and enshrined in our Constitution's First Amendment -- continues to protect rich faiths flourishing within our borders.
The writ of the Founding Fathers has upheld the ability of Americans to worship and practice religion as they choose, including the right to believe in no religion at all. However, these liberties are not self-sustaining, and require a stalwart commitment by each generation to preserve and apply them. Throughout our Nation's history, our founding ideal of religious freedom has served as an example to the world. Though our Nation has sometimes fallen short of the weighty task of ensuring freedom of religious expression and practice, we have remained a Nation in which people of different faiths coexist with mutual respect and equality under the law. America's unshakeable commitment to religious freedom binds us together as a people, and the strength of our values underpins a country that is tolerant, just, and strong.
My Administration continues to defend the cause of religious freedom in the United States and around the world. At home, we vigorously protect the civil rights of Americans, regardless of their religious beliefs. Across the globe, we also seek to uphold this human right and to foster tolerance and peace with those whose beliefs differ from our own. We bear witness to those who are persecuted or attacked because of their faith. We condemn the attacks made in recent months against Christians in Iraq and Egypt, along with attacks against people of all backgrounds and beliefs. The United States stands with those who advocate for free religious expression and works to protect the rights of all people to follow their conscience, free from persecution and discrimination.
On Religious Freedom Day, let us reflect on the principle of religious freedom that has guided our Nation forward, and recommit to upholding this universal human right both at home and around the world.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim January 16, 2011, as Religious Freedom Day. I call on all Americans to commemorate this day with events and activities that teach us about this critical foundation of our Nation's liberty, and to show us how we can protect it for future generations here and around the world.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this fourteenth day of January, in the year of our Lord two thousand eleven, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-fifth.
Returning to the topic of Joe Biden's visit and the ongoing Iraq War, Al Mada reports that both US and Iraqi officials are "calling for" some sort of "small American force" to remain in Iraq "in order to provide air support and military assistance" and notes Labid Abawi, Iraq's Deputy Foreign Minister, says the security agreement will be worked on by "a high joint committee" and numerous subcomittees and that any amendment extending it "depends upon the request of one of the parties and the approval of the second party." Jack Kenny (New American) notes Biden's "hints" at a longer US presence and offers:
Whether al-Sadr and the 40-member Shi'ite faction in the nation's parliament could block an extension of the deadline is not known. What may be of greater concern to the United States is the link to Iran al-Sadr represents after spending the past four years there, and the growing influence Tehran may exert on the politics of neighboring Iraq. Iran, along with Saddam's Iraq and North Korea, was labeled part of the "axis of evil" by President George W. Bush and hostility between Washington and Tehran has continued over Iran's alleged efforts to develop nuclear weapons. While U.S. officials in both the Bush and Obama administrations have not ruled out a military strike against Iran, another war in the Middle East is something the United States can ill afford, both financially and militarily, while it is still fighting a nine-year-old war in Afghanistan and winding down its mission in Iraq. As Biden recalled in a speech to American troops in Baghdad yesterday, that mission has so far resulted in more than 4,000 American dead and some 32,000 wounded.
Whether the US is leaving or not, 12 escapees left a Basra prison today. AFP reports, "A dozen suspected members of Al-Qaeda's front group in Iraq escaped from a prison in the south of the country on Friday morning, police said." Reuters quotes Ali Ghanim al-Maliki, "head of the security committee of Basra's provincial committee," stating. "All of the men are linked to the Islamic State of Iraq, that is linked to al Qaeda. Some of them were arrested eight months ago, and three of them were arrested a month or less than a month ago. All the guards securing the compound have been detained for investigation. Of course, there was collusion from within the compound, but we do not know who is involved at this moment." Al Mada reports that photos of the escapees have been distributed to checkpoints throughout Basra.
Reuters notes today's violence includes a Tikrit sticky bombing which claimed the life of 1 city worker and a Mosul sticky bombing which claimed the life of 1 police officer.
Meanwhile Fadel al-Nashmi (Niqash) examines the politics of Iraq or the way politicians posture at any rate:
Three months have passed since the publication of US secret documents by the Wikileaks site, which included 400,000 documents relating to Iraqi political affairs. So far, there has been no serious Iraqi response.
Instead, the two main political forces in the country, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's State of Law Coalition, and Ayad Allawi's Iraqiya list, initially tried using these documents to further their own interests.
The Iraqiya list demanded investigations over allegations that Maliki had commanded squads that killed and tortured his opponents.
Maliki denied these accusations, saying they were "tricks and media bubbles planned to serve certain political goals."
But since the two parties joined forces and agreed on the formation of a new government at the end of December 2010, they have both ignored the Wikileaks documents.
Yesterday, we noted that spin on Iraqi refugees that's being advanced. Strange, isn't it? At a time when the White House should be explaining the number of refugees admitted to Iraq, instead there's a 'press' 'movement' about to insist that there were never that many Iraqi refugees. We called out those lies yesterday and the chief liar. Turns out Thomas E. Ricks' online equivalent of a sex toy, Joel Wing, is advancing the lies as well. In a lengthy post that says so very little, he advances every lie in the book and then -- to back up his lies or make it appear that they have been -- he lists 12 sources. But only two of them apply to "Not so many refugees!" and they're both the bad 'reporting' of Nicholas Seeley. Seems to me if you're including Works Cited for a piece claiming that the number of Iraqi refugees was much smaller than reported, you'd need more than one source for that claim but Nicholas Seeley is Wing's only source. Joel Wing may not be lying, he may truly be that stupid. Stupid tends to attract stupid and that would explain that Wing-Ricks online loving. But if you're so damn stupid that you don't grasp that most refugees in the country are not going to register -- especially in countries where they are not legally allowed to work -- or the issues of 'visiting' which requires some Iraqi refugees to cross the border back into Iraq and then return to get their passports stamped, then maybe you should find another subject to write about?
Staying on the topic of lies, BBC News reports the Iraq Inquiry will again take testimony from War Hawk Tony Blair on January 21st. Chris Ames (Iraq Inquiry Digest) notes:
This page on the Hutton Inquiry website provides a great deal of detail on the redrafting of the September 2002 Iraq dossier, including the dates and times that drafts of Tony Blair's foreword were circulated.
At 10.01 on 17 September 2002, Alastair Campbell, who wrote the foreword, circulated this first draft.
"I am in no doubt that the threat is serious, and current; that he has made progress on WMD, and that he has to be stopped; that he does not want the UN inspectors in precisely because he has a great deal to hide."
But Saddam had already agreed to the return of UN inspectors. For example, at 02.39 that morning, the Guardian had reported that:
"Saddam Hussein last night caved in and agreed to the unconditional return of weapons inspectors to Iraq."

Turning to the US, Wil Cruz (Fox News Latino) reports on the journey home of the bodies of Sgt Jose M. Cintron Rosado and Spc Jose Delgado Arroyo who became the two most recent US military deaths in Iraq January 2nd. Cruz notes, "The deaths of CintrĂ³n Rosado and Delgado Arroyo, the third and fourth soldiers from the Puerto Rico National Guard killed since Sept. 11, are a somber reminder of the sacrifice Puerto Ricans and Latinos have made to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In all, 593 Latino members of the military have been killed since Oct. 7, 2001, when U.S. soldiers and Marines first landed in Afghanistan, according to the Department of Defense. And that number doesn't include casualties who have committed suicide after returning from their tours."

Larry Copeland (USA Today) notes
that it's not just people, things are also coming back from Iraq, the unmanned drones are itching to come to your neighborhood:

One of the chief obstacles to widespread use of UAVs is their inability to "see and avoid" other aircraft as required by federal regulations, a key to flight safety. Davis says he believes operators on the ground can comply with federal rules if they can see the aircraft and the surrounding environment. Wesley Randall, principal investigator on an FAA grant awarded last year to researchers at Auburn University to study the risks associated with unmanned aircraft, predicts drones will be used by police departments in five to 10 years. Randall predicts that much larger unmanned aircraft will be used to transport cargo within 15-20 years.
No local police departments have been authorized to use unmanned aircraft, although police departments in Houston and Miami have conducted field tests of such planes, Dorr says.

Also home from Iraq is of Bradley Manning. Monday April 5th, WikiLeaks released US military video of a July 12, 2007 assault in Iraq. 12 people were killed in the assault including two Reuters journalists Namie Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh. Monday June 7th, the US military announced that they had arrested Bradley Manning and he stood accused of being the leaker of the video. Leila Fadel (Washington Post) reported in August that Manning had been charged -- "two charges under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The first encompasses four counts of violating Army regulations by transferring classified information to his personal computer between November and May and adding unauthorized software to a classified computer system. The second comprises eight counts of violating federal laws governing the handling of classified information." Manning has been convicted in the public square despite the fact that he's been convicted in no state and has made no public statements -- despite any claims otherwise, he has made no public statements. Manning is now at Quantico in Virginia, under military lock and key and still not allowed to speak to the press. Paul Courson (CNN) notes Bradley is a suspect and, "He has not admitted guilt in either incident, his supporters say." War Is A Crime's David Swanson passes on:

DIFFENDING DISSENT FOUNDATION
Founded in 1960 as the National Committee to Abolish the House Un-American Activities Committee
CONTACT: Sue Udry, 301-325-1201 sue.udry@defendingdissent.org


Martin Luther King Day is Monday, January 17, 2011

Invoking the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King, peace and justice activists to descend on Quantico prison to protest torture of Bradley Manning

MLK Day plans call for noon demonstration at FBI headquarters in Washington followed by caravan to Quantico Marine Base

"Some of us who have already begun to break the silence of the night have found that the calling to speak is often a vocation of agony, but we must speak."
- Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

We'll celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day in a way that would make the great man proud. We embrace his legacy. Martin will be with us in the streets.

Noon: Protest at FBI Headquarters - 935 Pennsylvania Ave, NW, Washington, DC, to demonstrate our outrage and indignation against police state surveillance, infiltration, and attempts to entrap peace, environmental, animal rights, civil rights, and solidarity activists.
Renowned "whistleblower" Coleen Rowley, a FBI special agent for almost 24 years, who testified to the Senate Judiciary on FBI's pre 9-11 failures, will address the crowd at the FBI headquarters. Ms. Rowley describes FBI abuses, "Instead of safeguarding our freedom and security, the FBI has become a growing danger to those trying to exercise our Constitutional rights. It is alarming to see the FBI revert to the abuses of the Vietnam era."

1 pm: Convoy to Quantico - We'll take off from the center of the American police state in a caravan to Marine Corps Base Quantico where military authorities are holding our brother Bradley Manning in an inhumane condition of solitary confinement. (Quantico is 45 minutes south of DC.)

2 pm: Rally at the Iwo Jima statue, Quantico Marine Base -
The statue is at the southwest corner of Rt. 1 (Jefferson Davis Hwy) and Rt. 619 (Fuller Rd.) From I-95: Take exit 150, Quantico/Triangle. Take route 619 east to the entrance of the base.

Activists will descend on Quantico to protest the isolation and torture of Bradley Manning at Marine Corps Brig Quantico. This treatment is designed to break Manning's mind and reduce his ability to defend himself. Manning has been kept in 23 out of 24 hour solitary confinement for 7 months in a 6 foot by 12 foot cell. He is not allowed any meaningful exercise, has his sleep and day-night cycles disrupted by constant light, and is harassed by what the military calls "prevention of injury" measures. These require a guard to ask him every 5 minutes "are you ok?" which requires an affirmative response.

We call on Adm. Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. George W. Casey Jr., Army Chief of Staff, Gen. James F. Amos, Commandant of the Marine Corps, and Colonel Daniel J. Choike, Base Commander, Marine Corps Base Quantico, to end the inhumane, degrading conditions of pre-trial confinement and respect Bradley's human rights. Specifically, we are calling on Pentagon officials to lift the "prevention of injury" watch. This would allow Bradley meaningful physical exercise, uninterrupted sleep during the night, and a release from isolation.

See the Letter from Psychologists for Social Responsibility to Defense Secretary Gates

Dan Ellsberg captures our sentiments regarding Bradley, "I spent years [during Vietnam] keeping my mouth shut as presidents lied to us and kept these secrets. I shouldn't have done that. And that's why I admire someone like Bradley Manning, or whoever the source was, for actually risking their own personal freedom in order to tell us the truth. I think they're being better citizens and showing their patriotism in a better way than when they keep their mouths shut."

(See our letter attached hereto.)

"Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice. Justice at its best is love correcting everything that stands against love."

- Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Endorsed by: Backbone Campaign, Bill of Right Defense Committee, Bradley Manning Support Network, CodePink, Courage to Resist, DC Bill of Rights Coalition, DC National Lawyers Guild, Defending Dissent Foundation, Democrats.com, Friends of Human Rights, Jobs for Afghans, Montgomery County Civil Rights Coalition, National Accountability Action Network, National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance, Peace Action, Peace of the Action, Progressive Democrats of America, United for Peace and Justice, Voters for Peace, WarIsACrime.org, Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility, Witness Against Torture, World Can't Wait
That's only one action this month. Another is scheduled for Tuesday, January 25th and this is from Stop FBI Repression about the January 25th actions:
In December 2010, under the direction of U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, the FBI delivered nine new subpoenas in Chicago to anti-war and Palestine solidarity activists. Patrick Fitzgerald's office is ordering the nine to appear at a Grand Jury in Chicago on January 25.
In response we are calling for protests on Jan. 25 across the country and around the world to show our solidarity. Hundreds of organizations and thousands of people will be protesting at Federal Buildings, FBI offices, and other appropriate places, showing solidarity with the nine newly subpoenaed activists, and with all the activists whose homes were raided by the FBI.
Fitzgerald's expanding web of repression already includes the fourteen subpoenaed when the FBI stormed into homes on September 24th, carting away phones, computers, notebooks, diaries, and children's artwork. In October, all fourteen activists from Chicago, Minneapolis, and Michigan each decided to not participate in the secret proceedings of Fitzgerald's Grand Jury. Each signed a letter invoking their Fifth Amendment rights. However, three women from Minneapolis -- Tracy Molm, Anh Pham, and Sarah Martin -- are facing re-activated subpoenas. They are standing strong and we are asking you to stand with them --and with the newly subpoenaed nine activists -- by protesting Patrick Fitzgerald and his use of the Grand Jury and FBI to repress anti-war and international solidarity activists.
Defend free speech! Defend the right to organize! Opposing war and occupation is not a crime!
  • Tell Patrick Fitzgerald to call off the Grand Jury!
  • Stop FBI raids and repression!

Take Action!

Please organize a local protest or picket in your city or on your campus on Tuesday Jan. 25 and e-mail us at stopfbi@gmail.com to let us know what you have planned.
The Committee to Stop FBI Repression www.StopFBI.net
Please e-mail stopfbi@gmail.com or call 612-379-3585
Here is a flyer you can use for your local protest (pdf). Just fill in the time and location of your local protest, and local contact information if you want.
We'll note two other actions. First, this is the upcoming Iraq Veterans Against the War event:

February 25, 2011 9:30 - 10:30 am
Busboys & Poets, Langston room
14th & V st NW Washington DC
This report back will be to answer questions from media and the peace movement about the recent trip back to Iraq by members of Iraq Veterans Against the War. The war is not over but it is not the same as it was in years past. What is the humanitarian situation in Iraq?
How can we do reparations and reconciliation work?
Speakers are all returning from this delegation and include:
Geoff Millard (IVAW) Hart Viges (IVAW) Haider Al-Saedy (Iraqi Health Now)
Richard Rowely (
Big Noise Films)
The following month, A.N.S.W.E.R. and March Forward! and others will be taking part in this action:

March 19 is the 8th anniversary of the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Iraq today remains occupied by 50,000 U.S. soldiers and tens of thousands of foreign mercenaries.

The war in Afghanistan is raging. The U.S. is invading and bombing Pakistan. The U.S. is financing endless atrocities against the people of Palestine, relentlessly threatening Iran and bringing Korea to the brink of a new war.

While the United States will spend $1 trillion for war, occupation and weapons in 2011, 30 million people in the United States remain unemployed or severely underemployed, and cuts in education, housing and healthcare are imposing a huge toll on the people.

Actions of civil resistance are spreading.

On Dec. 16, 2010, a veterans-led civil resistance at the White House played an important role in bringing the anti-war movement from protest to resistance. Enduring hours of heavy snow, 131 veterans and other anti-war activists lined the White House fence and were arrested. Some of those arrested will be going to trial, which will be scheduled soon in Washington, D.C.

Saturday, March 19, 2011, the anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, will be an international day of action against the war machine.

Protest and resistance actions will take place in cities and towns across the United States. Scores of organizations are coming together. Demonstrations are scheduled for San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and more.

Click this link to endorse the March 19, 2011, Call to Action.

Descent Into Madness
"60 Minutes" talks to Jared Loughner's friends and classmates and to ex-Secret Service, to reconstruct the pathway to mass murder he allegedly took in Tucson - a pattern this agent who once guarded the president could write a textbook about. Scott Pelley reports.

Yemen
Steve Kroft reports on the U.S.'s new partner in the war on terror, Yemen, a known al Qaeda hideout and recently the source of several explosive packages sent to America.

The Gambler
Las Vegas sports betting legend Bill Walters has never had a losing year - a winning a streak that's made odds makers call him the "most dangerous sports bettor in Nevada." Lara Logan reports. |
Watch Video

60 Minutes, Sunday, Jan. 16, at 8 p.m. ET, 7 p.m. PT.


Thursday, January 13, 2011

Who does NPR think they're serving?

Wednesday on Talk of the Nation (NPR), the guests were Ken Rudin, David Frum, Paul Glastris, Tavis Smiley, Cornel West, Rajiv Shah, Alex Dupuy, Marjorie Valbrun and Frantz Atoine LeConte.

That's nine guests. Valbrun is the what?

The only female guests.

Nine guests and only one is a woman.

Who does NPR think they're serving?

And how do they not notice, in booking the show, how few women they're booking?


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


Thursday, January 13, 2011. Chaos and violence continue, the refugee crisis continues and efforts to illuminate it by the under-informed do not help, the plight of Iraqi Christians receives some attention (leading to jealousy among the most petty), some in the press are still not getting the SOFA and more.
Starting out with refugees. Tuesday on NPR's All Things Considered (link has audio and text), Kelly McEvers noted Rasul whose grandfather purchased the family home in Baghdad approximately 40 years before -- a home that Rasul and the family had to all but abandon when a family member was kidnapped (later found dead). Now they're in danger of losing the family home because it's not safe for them to live in it. McEvers explained, "This is the dilemma of hundreds of thousands of Baghdad families who were forced to flee during the sectarian war. The value of the old house is going down, but rents are going up. That means the family's worth is disappearing. Pollster and sociologist Ahmed Qassim says more than half of the city's displaced families once identified themselves as upper or middle class. But 82 percent of a recent sampling of displaced Baghdadis said they were barely making ends meet. Qassim says one portion of Baghdad's middle is withering away, while another one -- the newly formed political class -- is taking its place."
The Iraq War created a refugee crisis -- internally and externally. A clod by the name of Nicholas Seeley has been popping up in a number of publications of late, the Christian Science Monitor last week. We're not interested in his creative fiction. For those who don't know, Seeley, like far too many, has a price. Slide your bills in his g-string and watch the potato head dance. After the appearane in Wilson's Quarterly, none of his reports on Jordan should be running in news sections. For those who don't read Wilson's Quarterly (consider yourself blessed and to be in the majority of the population), his article is used to argues that poor Bully Boy Bush was attacked by lying Democrats who were part of the inflation of a non-existant refugee crisis.
Little Nicky arrived in the MidEast some time ago, full of himself, if lacking in knowledge. As a general rule, a 'writer' who tells me that he ate at a Thai establishment where a Coldplay concert was on the television reminding him of America is one I puzzle over because Coldplay is, of course, a British band. Facts is hard for Nicky regardless of the topic. He's going around with claims that money's been wasted in Jordan -- US tax payer money. If true, he's the last one to make the case because he's not only a poor writer, he's a bad one.
First off, is money has been wasted why are you boring me with USAID (US Agency for International Development)? Only a know nothing on this topic would go there. Truly, if you're qualified remotely to speak on this, let alone write about it, you damn well know that the US money flowing into Jordan has primarily gone through the US State Dept's Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration. Do you have figures on that, Little Nicky? No, you don't because from your bad writing, you've obviously never heard of them. Could money have been wasted? If it wasn't wasted it would be a first. Could a lot of money have been wasted? Possibly but we'd need someone who knows a thing or two about how US aid flows into foreign countries.
Little Nicky's trying to rewrite the refugee crisis (and save poor put-upon Bully Boy Bush) with his revisionary tactics. If Jordan's Iraq population was wrong, others would be calling out. Jordan's population has gone down somewhat (as has Syria's and Lebanon's) but that's due in part to the refugees leaving for other countries (and tiny sliver returning to Iraq). Equally true, the population is most often based on the registration figures -- Iraqi refugees who register with the United Nations. Not all register (many feel that register documents them making it easier for them to be forced out a country). Jordan, however, did a census. They did that with Fafo which is seen as a legitimate organization. Kristin Dalen, Marianne Daehlen, Jon Pedersen, Age A. Tiltnes and Akram Atallah were the Fafo researchers on that project and you can click here to review their work. As with any such survey, there will be detractors but the sampling method utilized is standard in the social sciences. (Among the detractors are a group that insists the government of Jordan used their influence to increase the numbers. Their influence, the rumors go, was in paying. However, most of the detractors are unaware that the census was sponsored by more than just the government of Jordan. See the foreword for a listing of all the funders.) The "study concludes that there are between 450,000 - 500,000 Iraqi residents in Jordan as of May 2007."
Depending upon the outlet he's publishing in, Little Nicky's feelings towards FAFO shift and change indicating we might need to ask Nicholas Seeley, "Which of your personalities are we speaking to?" Someone needs to ask the Christian Science Monitor if it's their job to waive through any freelance work submitted without a fact check?
Little Nicky types (for the Monitor), "A 2007 survey found only 161,000 Iraqis in Jordan, a fraction of whom appeared to be poor or persecuted. Other data have backed up the low estimate of the survey [. . .]" He's blathering on about the stud we're already discussing and he clearly has no grounding in the social sciences. He swipes the figure of 161,000 from page 7 of the report: "The sample survey conducted by the Norwegian research Institute of Fafo in cooperation with the Department of Statistics (DoS) estimated Iraqis at 161,000." Little Nicky doesn't understand methodology but someone at the Christian Science Monitor damn sure should have. He's fudging the figures and ignoring the model. He's an idiot and shouldn't be allowed to publish on any population model until he gets an advanced degree in that area.
When you don't understand projection models, when you fail to grasp the basics on who does and who does not register, when sampling is beyond your limited abilities, you don't need to be offering guesses about the number of refugees in any country. And when you repeatedly demonstrate that you're lost in nearly every other area no outlet should allow you to explore any area other than that Lizzie McGuire movie you love so much.
He has no idea whether funding was wasted or not because he also has no idea of the needs which, yes, did include improving the schools in Jordan. Unlike some host countries, Jordan admitted Iraqi children to their country's schools. When Nouri was making his promises -- that he never kept -- in his first term to use some of the profits from the Iraqi oil to send money to the neighboring countries hardest hit by the refugee crisis, that money would have gone into infrastructure as well (repeating, Nouri didn't keep his promise -- which is the default position for Nouri al-Maliki). One day after running Little Nicky's garbage, the Christian Science Monitor ran a piece by Tarek Fouda who did have a grasp on realities in Syria.
Yle reported last week, "Finland will no longer return Iraqi asylum seekers to Baghdad. The Supreme Administrative Court has decided that Baghdad is not safe place. In Finland, asylum seekers from Baghdad are therefore entitled to residence permits on the basis of subsidiary protection." Iraq is not safe and forced returns should not be taking place which is why the European Union has condemned the practice. Asia News notes, "The plight of Iraqi refugees immigrants in Northern Europe continues, where authorities are pressing ahead with forced returns. Britain, France, Netherlands, Norway and Sweden, in different ways and forms, see this as the 'quick fix' to the drama of Iraqi asylum seekers whose applications have been rejected. Now the Iraqi government seems intent on finding a solution."
We're back on people who don't know what the hell they're talking about. In this case Columbia professor Joseph Massad who can't hope for better than freebie 'publishing' at CounterPunch apparently. Massad supposedly's writing about Christians in Egypt but instead Joseph Nasty wants you to know that "Europe and America's media chracteristically feature with much fanfare the equally horrifying violence against Iraqi Christians, as if the latter are somehow specifically and solely targeted among Iraq's sects and ethnic groups for such violence." If no one's gotten it yet, the last thing in the world I want to ever write about (or dictate about -- these snapshots are dictated) is Christianity. I have no interest in public conversation on that topic. But it is people like Massad that especially make it necessary that the topic is covered here because their petty hatreds bleed through the page as they tell one lie after another. American media has not covered "with much fanfare" the attacks on Iraqi Christians. The only "fanfare" coverage out of Iraq in the last eight months has been Moqtada al-Sadr's return. American media doesn't cover the attacks on Iraqi Christians because American media IS NOT IN IRAQ for the most part. The New York Times has covered it (not nearly enough), the Los Angeles Times has, the Washington Post has and McClatchy's done even less than the New York Times. Those are the print outlets with people on the ground in Iraq. Broadcast? CNN is the only US TV outlet that has reporters in Iraq. Radio that has reporters on the ground in Iraq? That's NPR. Attacks on Christians do get noted frequently in the hourly news brief. But in terms of filing stories on them, actual reports, how many reports has NPR filed on this issue? Since October 31, 2010, NPR has filed three reports. That's it.
Joseph Massad and people like him need to get over their petty hatred of Christianity. It wouldn't have flown in the US in the sixties and we actually had real movements then. In Chris Hedges new book Death Of The Liberal Class a number of movement leaders from that period speak to him about the absence of a spiritual factor (I'm using the term "factor") to the movement and how the movement has become soul-less. These are leaders who have made the social justice movements their entire lives. Why are they seeing that? Maybe because people like Massad can't let go of their petty jealousies and covetry even when supposedly covering a subject. There was no reason for him to bring Iraqi Christians into the story. But he did and revealed how jealous he was. Three stories on NPR is not a great deal of reporting. Not at all. Sounds a lot like someone consumed with hatred and jealousy is speaking.
Iraqi Christians are now being targeted because they are Christians. That was made clear in the al-Qaeda linked group that claimed credit for the October 31st attack. You don't have to believe in Christianity or even like Christians to play fair. But you do have to play fair. October 31st, Our Lady of Salvation Church in Baghdad was attacked with approximately 70 people killed and approximately 70 people wounded. An attack on a place of worship will always be news. Attacks followed including, in November, eight to twelve bombings in Baghdad in one day injuring scores of Iraqis and killing two. Multiple bombs in Baghdad will be news. NPR's third story covered the exodus of Iraqi Christians from Baghdad and Mosul to the Kurdish territories (and some Iraqi Christians also went outside the country). NPR offered one story after the attack the Church, one after the bombings and one post-flight. That's is not "much fanfare." Your claiming that it is goes to your ignorance and your hatred and no one needs it. There are many different aspects we have to cover in the snapshots and sometimes I don't care for a group that's at risk. That doesn't mean I attack them. That doesn't mean I mock them and their personal struggles. Everytime someone like Joseph Massad gets to be bitchy on this subject without being called out, you draw a line -- intentionally or not -- between the left and those who believe in Christianity and you draw a line within the left between those who are left Christians and those who are not. It is counterproductive, it is hateful, it is bitchy and it needs to stop. And, if no one ever told you, Joseph Massad, you have neither the body nor the sex appeal to pull off a grudge f**k.
Far from the crazy, Daniel J. Gerstle (UN Dispatch) reported at the end of last month on Iraqi Christians how had gone to the Kurdistan Region, specifically in Erbil. He concluded, "While many governments, donors, and aid agencies have moved on from responding to crises like that of Iraq, troubles for local displaced families remain. As in the case of Ankawa, many host communities absorb the shock during the height of the crisis -- relieving the burden on governments and donors -- only to have their homes become overloaded and their pocketbooks, as well as those of their displaced guests, turn empty well after the crisis has climaxed in the media. The tragic flight of minorities from central Iraq to the north has not only been a larger crisis than anyone anticipated. It has also created a new, secondary crisis for host communities that governments, donors, and aid agencies are only beginning to figure out how to address." Reporting this week from Erbil, Hemin Baban (Rudaw) details how a "defense force" of Christians is being trained there per the Ministry of Defense and that Kirkuk's Archbishop Louis Sako calls the move a mistake. Still in the Kurdistan region, Rhodri Davies (Aljazeera) reported last week visited a Church in Ainkawa and found that it was staffed with "four guards carrying Kalashnikov rifles on the gates to the church compound." Human Rights First issued the following release by Jesse Bernstein and Sara Faust:
As religious minorities in the Middle East continue to face rising levels of violence, the U.S. should urgently undertake a series of reforms in its resettlement program to remove unnecessary processing delays which leave Iraqi Christians and members of other vulnerable groups who choose to flee stranded in difficult and sometimes dangerous situations. As Human Rights First outlined in a recent report Living in Limbo: Iraqi Refugees and U.S. Resettlement, religious minorities from Iraq are one of several groups who continue to face a heightened level of systematic violence and persecution despite a decrease in overall violence in Iraq.
Christians in Iraq remain at serious risk. In coordinated attacks in late December 2010, militants left bombs on the doorsteps of Iraqi Christian homes in different parts of Baghdad, killing an elderly couple and injuring at least thirteen people. This incident follows a wave of attacks directed at religious minorities in Iraq, including an attack on a Baghdad church in which approximately 50 individuals were killed, including priests and infants. The UN Refugee Agency – UNHCRreported that its offices in neighboring Syria, Jordan and Lebanon are registering an increasing number of Iraqi Christians arriving for assistance and help.
The recent bombing of a Christian Coptic church in Alexandria, Egypt highlights the increased hostility and targeted violence of religious minorities in the region and an overall lack of protection for Christians who are targeted and/or forced to flee their homes in the face of mounting violence.
Despite the ongoing U.S. troop drawdown and the shift to a civilian-led operation in Iraq, many Iraqis, including religious and sexual minorities, Iraqis who are affiliated with the United States and women at risk of honor crimes, continue to face persecution and violence, circumstances that cause them to flee to different regions of Iraq or to seek refuge in countries such as Syria, Jordan, and Turkey. In 2010 alone, UNHCR registered just over 31,000 Iraqi refugees in the region. As of October 2010, a total of 195,428 Iraqi refugees are currently registered with UNHCR in the region, while an unknown number of additional refugees have not registered or let their registrations lapse. As documented through Human Rights First research in the region, lengthy delays in U.S. processing leave Iraqis slated for U.S. resettlement languishing for months -- even years -- in countries where they have limited opportunities to support their families and some -- particularly those within Iraq -- face life-threatening circumstances.
Human Rights First's report, based on independent research and interviews with Iraqi refugees as well as government officials and UN staff, offers a series of recommendations to strengthen the U.S. resettlement program, including by ensuring timely and effective processing. Our primary recommendations to the U.S. Government include:
* Reduce unnecessary delays in the security clearance process. The National Security Council should, together with the Departments of State, Justice, Homeland Security and intelligence agencies, improve the inter-agency security clearance procedure to enable security checks for refugees and U.S.-affiliated Iraqis to be completed accurately and without unnecessary delays within a set time period;
* Develop and implement an emergency resettlement procedure for refugees facing imminent danger. The Department of State should continue to work with other relevant federal agencies to develop and implement a formal and transparent resettlement procedure for refugees who face emergency or urgent circumstances;
* Remove other impediments which continue to delay the applications of U.S.-affiliated Iraqis and Iraqi religious minorities. The Department of State, working with other agencies, should – in addition to addressing delays in security processing – continue to take other steps to eliminate case backlogs and address inefficiencies in the current Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) processing procedures; * Provide information necessary for refugees to submit meaningful Requests for Reconsideration. The Department of Homeland Security's U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services should implement reforms to improve the fairness and effectiveness of the resettlement process, including by revising the current Notice of Ineligibility for Resettlement to provide case-specific factual and legal reasons for denial.
Through implementing these reforms, the Obama administration will ensure its resettlement program offers safe and secure passage for religious minorities and others who face persecution and are left with no choice but to flee their home countries.
To review Human Rights First's full report, Living in Limbo: Iraqi Refugees
and U.S. Resettlement, click here.
To review the report's summary and key findings, click here.
To review a two page fact sheet, click here.
Meanwhile Lebanon's Daily Star reports, "A Hizubullah delegation offered 700 aid packages to displaced Iraqi Christians in Mount Lebanon during a visit Wednesday to the Archbishopric of Chaldean Assyrians." Reuters notes that a meet-up took place in Baghdad today among Iraq's Muslim and Christian leaders (this is not the Copenhagen summit which is also going on, they plan to hold a press conference tomorrow) and quotes Ahmed Abdul Ghafour al-Samarrai stating, "Iraqis are one body. If the Christian part suffers, he rest of the Muslim body will respond to it. Iraqi blood is sacred, you cannot cross a red line." And Madison's Capital Times features a column which touches on these subjects and more by United Church of Christ Pastor Phil Haslanger.
Yesterday US Vice President Joe Biden arrived in Baghdad. This morning Aaron C. Davis' "Contours of a large and lasting American presence in Iraq starting to take shape" (Washington Post) captured reality better than any other article:
Despite Iraqi leaders' insistence that the United States meet its end-of-2011 deadline for withdrawing all troops, the contours of a large and lasting American presence here are starting to take shape.
Although a troop extension could still be negotiated, the politics of Iraq's new government make that increasingly unlikely, and the Obama administration has shown little interest in pushing the point.
Instead, planning is underway to turn over to the State Department some of the most prominent symbols of the U.S. role in the war - including several major bases and a significant portion of the Green Zone.
One outlet seems able to get it correct, Liz Sly (still Washington Post) notes Biden's visit was to discuss post-2011:

Maliki, embarking on his second term of office, publicly insists that he wants all the troops to leave on time, and the Obama administration also says it is planning to pull them out on schedule.
But Iraqi military commanders have said they would prefer at least some form of continued U.S. military presence to help deter external threats from Iraq's neighbors until Iraq has its own conventional defense capabilities.
Although Iraq's security forces have proved themselves able to sustain security gains since the formal end of American combat operations last August, they will also need help with training and logistics for several more years, U.S. and Iraqi officials say.
And then there are the ones who just can't get it right -- a theme threading through this snapshot. John Leland (New York Times) opens with the 'news' that Joe "told officials here Thursday that the United States remained committed to the agreement that calls for all American troops to leave Iraq by the end of the year." First, as Aaron C. Davis has already demonstrated, that's not happening. But Joe told officials that? Okay. Leland was present for this? No.
What is he talking about then? This single-sentence sixth paragraph of the article 'explains': "In a statement, Mr. Maliki said Mr. Biden assured him that the United States was 'serious about activating the strategic framework agreement,' which includes the deadline for troop withdrawal." I have no idea what Nouri said but, if he said that, he's as lost as John Leland. The Strategic Framework Agreement was signed off on November 17, 2008. It has no withdrawal date in it.
Go to the November 27, 2008 snapshot for the SOFA passing the Iraqi Parliament. That's the SOFA. That's November 27, 2008. Not only does the Strategic Framework Agreement not contain a withdrawal date -- how could it when it is signed off on before the SOFA? The SOFA is the Status Of Forces Agreement. The Strategic Framework Agreement is not the same thing and if, like Leland apparently, you've never read it, you can click here. Voice of America cannot broadcast over the US airwaves because it is a US government propaganda outlet. Therefore, we try to avoid them but please note that Meredith Buel (Voice of America) -- working for the US government -- doesn't make the mistake that Leland did. She quotes his speech and notes, "Biden said while Iraqi security forces, trained by American soldiers, are continuing to improve, they are likely to need U.S. assistance in the future.
On that Iraq military, as noted in yesterday's snapshot, "A bit more on the issue of weight, Al-Kala'a Weekly reports that 60% of Iraq's military officers and soldiers suffer from obesity according to an unnamed officer and that the Minister of Defense will be addressing the issue. Alsumaria TV notes the assertion that the country's 'security forces have been infiltrated and intellegence has been leaked'." Those would also impact Iraq's military readiness.
On Joe Biden's speech today, Karen Travers (ABC News) reports and also offers video.
Meanwhile, Aljazeera explains, "At least two people have been killed in bomb blasts in Iraq, shortly after the US vice-president arrived in the capital for talks about the future of American troops there. Three separate explosions shook the capital, Baghdad, on Thursday, Iraqi interior ministry officials said. One person was killed and at least two others wounded in the first attack near a Shia Muslim mosque in the Karrada neighbourhood, while a roadside bomb killed one civilian and wounded four others near a Sunni mosque elsewhere in central Baghdad." Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) adds, "At least two people were killed and 14 wounded when four roadside bombs exploded Thursday in different neighborhoods in Baghdad, the Interior Ministry said. The attacks came the same day the U.S. Vice President Joe Biden arrived on an unannounced visit. Iraq's Interior Ministry says the attacks appeared to be by members of al Qaeda and were related to an interfaith group that was trying to quell recent attacks against Christians in Iraq." In addition, Reuters notes a goldsmith was shot dead in Baghdad.
Lolita C. Baldor (AP) reports that a written exchange between the Pentagon's Michael Vickers and the Senate over the US military's use of cyber warfare. "Nowhere," Baldor reports, "does the brief Senate exchange obtained by The Associated Press detail the cyber activities that were not disclosed. But cyber experts suggest they may have involved secret operations against insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan, and could possibly include other hotspots such as Yemen or Somalia."

Bradley Manning, a 22-year old US army private, is being tortured by the US state.

He is accused of leaking classified documents to the Wikileaks website. Manning has been held at the US Marine jail in Quantico, Virginia, for five months—and for two months before that in a military jail in Kuwait.

The US is torturing Manning to get him to say that he gave secret files to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. This will make it easier to prosecute Assange for espionage.

Assange is on bail in Britain as the Swedish government attempts to extradite him on charges of rape, which he strongly denies.

There were protests in defence of him and Wikileaks outside the court in London at the end of last year.

Manning is held as a "maximum custody detainee", which is the most repressive level of US military detention.

According to his lawyer, "He is being held in intensive solitary confinement.

"For 23 out of 24 hours every day—for seven straight months—he sits completely alone in his cell.

"Even inside his cell, his activities are heavily restricted; he's barred from exercising and is restrained if he attempts to exercise.

"He's being denied a pillow or sheets for his bed and access to news reports in any form.

"He is not allowed to have any personal items in his cell.

"If he attempts to do push-ups, sit-ups, or any other form of exercise he will be forced to stop.

"He does receive one hour of 'exercise' outside of his cell daily. He is taken to an empty room and only allowed to walk.

"Private First Class (PFC) Manning normally just walks figure eights in the room for the entire hour. If he indicates that he no long feels like walking, he is immediately returned to his cell.

"When PFC Manning goes to sleep, he is required to strip down to his boxer shorts and surrender his clothing to the guards.

"His clothing is returned to him the next morning."

Manning is sleep deprived and is now taking anti-depressants.

He was arrested after allegedly confessing in an online chatroom to leaking a video of a US air raid in Iraq.

Gunning

The graphic and disturbing video shows the events of 12 July 2007.

As a group of men stroll down a Baghdad street, two US army helicopters open fire, repeatedly shooting at them and gunning one down as he tries to flee.

They killed 12 people, including two journalists who worked for the Reuters news agency. Two children were wounded.

One shooter says, "Ha, ha, ha, I hit 'em." Another comments, "Look at those dead bastards."

"Nice," another responds.

Later a van comes past and Iraqis stop to try to help one of the wounded.

The helicopter opens fire again. Two children inside the van were wounded and their father was killed.

When US ground troops arrive they discover the children.

One of the crew says, "Well it's their fault for bringing kids into a battle."

The army claimed the dead were all insurgents and that they had been killed in battle.

But a supposed rocket-propelled grenade was in reality a camera lens. What the US claimed was an AK47 was in fact a camera.

This is just one example of the violence of US imperialism.

The US has committed countless atrocities during its occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. But getting the information out has led to Bradley Manning being jailed.

The other information Manning is accused of leaking includes a video of a 2009 US airstrike in Granai, Afghanistan, which killed as many as 140 civilians.

The US suspects he leaked a cache of nearly 100,000 field reports from Afghanistan, about 260,000 diplomatic cables and as many as half a million documents relating to the Iraq war.

Politicians globally professed gradations of outrage at the publication of the material.

Some in the US even called for Wikileaks to be treated as a terrorist organisation.


The following should be read alongside this article:

Wikileaks reveals British government trained death squad

© Socialist Worker (unless otherwise stated). You may republish if you include an active link to the original.




Wednesday, January 12, 2011

So few women

Monday on NPR's Talk Of The Nation, the guests were Peter Michaels, Ted Robbins, Randy Graf, Ed Montini, Karen Armstrong and Tom Malinowski. That's six guests, only 1 is a woman. Tuesday? Roger Cliff, Damien Ma, Susan Shirk, James Othmer, Boyce Watkins, Danielle Pletka, Martin Frost and Alvin Felzenberg. That's eight guests and 2 women. Or 14 guests for the week thus far, only three of whom were women.

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

Wednesday, January 12, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, what's being called a historic meet up takes place in Baghdad, US Vice President Joe Biden visits Baghdad, Talabani gets served, Iraq's military is overweight, and more.
Starting in the US where the 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. The Lawyer's Guild is an hourly show hosted by Jim Lafferty each Thursday night from 7:00 to 8:00 pm PST on Los Angeles' KPFK. Among his guests last week was Bruce Nestor. Excerpt:
Jim Lafferty: Bruce Nestor is one of the lead attorneys for political activists around the country who've had their homes raided by the FBI recently and, as I said at the top of the show, subpoened to testify before grand juries under some rather suspicious and ominous circumstances. I should mention that Mr. Nestor is a former national president of the National Lawyers Guild and he joins us by phone from Minneapolis, MN of St. Paul, which is it?
Bruce Nestor: Minneapolis.
Jim Lafferty: Minneapolis! Alright, Bruce Nestor, welcome to The Lawyers Guild Show. Bruce, first off, who are your clients? And when I say that, I don't mean by name. But who are they in terms of what their political work was and what is happened to them so far as a result of actions by the FBI, the US Justice Dept? Walk us through where all this began, these raids on home, these subpoenas and so forth.
Bruce Nestor: These events started -- that we were publicly aware of -- although clearly an investigation was going on long before it with home raids on September 24th of last year when political activists in Minneapolis and Chicago had their homes raided, subpoeanas were served and across the country other activists, including in California, were contacted and the FBI was trying to interview them. That group of people has now grown to at least 23 individuals who have either been served with subpoenas or told that they will be served with subpoenas to appear in front of a grand jury being run by Assistant -- by US Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald in Chicago -- the US Attorney who prosecuted Scooter Libby, Dick Cheney's former Chief of Staff. And so no one yet has appeared in front of the grand jury, everyone has asserted their right to remain silent and their political right not to testify against their friends and colleagues about their political beliefs and activities. But the range of people ranges from people who have been active in the anti-war movement, the labor movement -- many of the activists here in Minneapolis in particular are very -- are members of their labor unions and active in the labor movement, to young people who've just recently traveled to Palestine and the occupied territories as part of Solidarity trips or as part of fact-finding delegations to investigate US policy and how the Palestinian people are resisting occupation. So it - it's really frightening. The stated purpose of the investigation is to investigate material support for terrorism -- a claim that public statements of support for groups abroad as well as humanitarian fund raising in limited amounts constitutes material support for terrorism. And that's being used as a pretext to really go after entire political organizations and large numbers of people.
Jim Lafferty: Yeah. Well we'll get back into that again in a minute but these things, as you've just pointed out, started with-with raids. And I assume they had search warrants. If so, what were they looking for in these raids and what kind of things did they take away?
Bruce Nestor: They took everything. They took baby pictures, they took boxes of documents, computers, cell phones. The range of what they said they were looking for was anything related to contacts with a foreign organization -- some in Columbia, some in Palestine, informations related to people's travels abroad but including information about groups that are active locally. Like, in Minnesota, for instance, they wanted to know how people recruit, how they fundraise, what their membership lists are. And, you know, some of it, they talk about indoctrination and recruitment -- as if this were secret. I mean, some of the money that was being raised here for humanitarian aid was raised by kids at lemon aid stands -- literally selling lemon aid at fifty cents a cup to try to raise money for day care and baby formula in the occupied territories.
Jim Lafferty: (Laughing) That certainly sounds dangerous to me. Listen, I laugh to keep from crying. Maybe I should jump ahead? Well, let me first ask this question. Have any of your clients yet or have any of these 23 people actually testified or agreed to testify before the grand jury?
Bruce Nestor: Nobody has testified before the grand jury. It doesn't appear that people in good conscience are going to be able to do that or will agree to do that. That's, of course, a decision that each individual needs to make. And nobody's been indicted yet. Nobody's been charged. We're now going on three months and people -- A few people got their cell phones back but people don't have their computers back, the antiwar committee doesn't have their computer back with their membership lists and other information on it. It's a very serious investigation.
If you missed that broadcast, you can visit the KPFK archives in the next 54 days to hear it, after that it's gone from the archives. This week on Law and Disorder Radio (aired yesterday on WBAI and is broadcasting throughout the country throughout the week -- and which archives at its own website -- all five years of the program and congratulations on five solid years of broadcasting) hosts Heidi Boghosian, Michael Ratner and Michael S. Smith address the issue. Yesterday's snapshot noted their interview with activist and journalist Maureen Murphy who is among those subpoenaed and who states she will not provide testimony. (Murphy is with The Electronic Intifada and I say that only to give them a link -- she does not believe her work with TEI had anything to do with her being subpoenaed.) On this topic, this week they also speak with attorney Michael Deutsch of the People's Law Office in Chicago who is also representing some of the people subpoenaed. Excerpt:
Heidi Boghosian: This past December, we had what seems to be a second wave of subpoeanas following the rash that occurred in September Can you give us a brief summary of what happened?
Michael Deutsch: Towards the end of the summer, the FBI went out with a stack of subpoenas and wound subpoeaning nine additional people in the Chicago area which then makes 23 --14 had been subpoenaed prior -- right at the end of September. And these people who are subpoenaed are all people who are active in Palestinian support work. You know, they're invovled with a group called the Arab American Action Network -- AAAN, or they're part of a group called the Palestinian Support Group, some of them have made trips to the Middle East, others have just been active in the Chicago area and educating people about the situation in Israel and Palestine.
Heidi Boghosian: And are the subpoenas asking for specific documents or, do you think, sort of a general fishing expedition?
Michael Deutsch: Well unlike the first series of subpoeneas which did ask for documents to be produced, these subpoenas only talk about coming to testify. And it seems to me what's going on now, the first group it seemed were people who were directly related to the searches and related in some way to this Freedom Road Socialist Organization. This next wave of subpoenas are people who are not necessarily related to that organization but are people who they are trying to gathering information from. So it's particularly a fishing expedition in terms of gathering information about people's political work and associations.
Michael Ratner: Michael, I don't understand. You mean to say someone gets a subpoena that doesn't even mention a criminal law they're investigating? That they don't --
Michael Deutsch: No. Uh-uh.
Michael Ratner: They just say, like "Michael Deutsch, report to the grand jury to testify"? And doesn't say what about?
Michael Deutsch: It does not say what it's about. It just says: "You're subpoenaed to appear before the grand jury January 25th." It doesn't even say the statute which they're investigating.
Michael Ratner: Have you had any experience in your life with a subpoena like that?
Michael Deutsch: No. I haven't had experience with that and, of course, I've never, in all my experience, seen so many people subpoenaed to a grand jury -- I mean in a political situation. So it really looks to me like they're just relying on any type of relationship to the Palestinian Solidarity Movement to subpoena people to a grand jury. People who went on trips, people who went to demonstrations, people who are active in community work. So it's a very strange development but ominous nonetheless.
Heidi Boghosian: Michael, I'm curious about the midwest region. Now is -- do you think we're seeing so many subpoenas in this area because of the presence of joint-terrorism task forces there? Do you have any explanation?
Michael Deutsch: I don't think it's related to the fact that there's a joint-terrorist task force because there's one in New York and probably one in other places. I think it's because a lot of the Palestine support work has gone on in Chicago and based in Chicago and I would say that the FBI has been around somewhat in New York and in the Bay Area trying to talk to people as well. So the subpoenas may extend to other areas but because one of the main targets of their investigation is the executive director of the AAAN -- the Arab American Action Network -- Hatem Abudayyeh -- they're focusing on him and people who work with him or are part of organizations that he's been part of. And that's who this last wave of subpoenas has really focused on.
The grand jury appearance is coming up. It's Tuesday, January 25th and this is from Stop FBI Repression about the January 25th actions:
In December 2010, under the direction of U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, the FBI delivered nine new subpoenas in Chicago to anti-war and Palestine solidarity activists. Patrick Fitzgerald's office is ordering the nine to appear at a Grand Jury in Chicago on January 25.
In response we are calling for protests on Jan. 25 across the country and around the world to show our solidarity. Hundreds of organizations and thousands of people will be protesting at Federal Buildings, FBI offices, and other appropriate places, showing solidarity with the nine newly subpoenaed activists, and with all the activists whose homes were raided by the FBI.
Fitzgerald's expanding web of repression already includes the fourteen subpoenaed when the FBI stormed into homes on September 24th, carting away phones, computers, notebooks, diaries, and children's artwork. In October, all fourteen activists from Chicago, Minneapolis, and Michigan each decided to not participate in the secret proceedings of Fitzgerald's Grand Jury. Each signed a letter invoking their Fifth Amendment rights. However, three women from Minneapolis -- Tracy Molm, Anh Pham, and Sarah Martin -- are facing re-activated subpoenas. They are standing strong and we are asking you to stand with them --and with the newly subpoenaed nine activists -- by protesting Patrick Fitzgerald and his use of the Grand Jury and FBI to repress anti-war and international solidarity activists.
Defend free speech! Defend the right to organize! Opposing war and occupation is not a crime!
  • Tell Patrick Fitzgerald to call off the Grand Jury!
  • Stop FBI raids and repression!

Take Action!

Please organize a local protest or picket in your city or on your campus on Tuesday Jan. 25 and e-mail us at stopfbi@gmail.com to let us know what you have planned.
The Committee to Stop FBI Repression www.StopFBI.net
Please e-mail stopfbi@gmail.com or call 612-379-3585
Here is a flyer you can use for your local protest (pdf). Just fill in the time and location of your local protest, and local contact information if you want.
We have noted this repeatedly and will continue to try to do so. This is an assault on political freedom. When our response is to stay silent, we lose political freedom. (Just as when we participate in a frenzy to demonize political speech, we damage political speech and a lot of people need to be thinking about that right about now.) Marueen Murphy and Nora Barrows-Friedman have a piece at Electronic Infitada about the targeting. Is it the new McCarthyism? Could be. Some would argue we're already there as evidenced by attorney Lynne Stewart being a political prisoner of the United States for the 'crime' of breaking a guideline. Once was a time you went to prison for breaking law, now it just requires breaking a guideline. We'll note Lynne and some other actions at the end of the snapshot. There is a great deal coming up in the next two months.
Iraq and Kuwait have a long history, to put it mildly. Kuwait is owed reparations which Iraq, under Nouri al-Maliki, has repeatedly attempted to ignore and has consistently appealed/whined to the United Nations' Security Council that the payment of those monies for war crimes against Kuwait places too much of a burden on the 'new Iraq.' Habib Tourni (Gulf News) reminds that "UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon stressed last month when some of the sanctions were lifted that Iraq must work to agree on a border with Kuwait and settle a dispute over war reparations if all sanctions are to be lifted." BBC News puts it more bluntly: "The two neighbours are locked in a dispute over billions of dollars in war reparations from Baghdad, relating to Saddam Hussein's 1990-91 invasion." While Iraq seems to have complicated relationships with all of the neighbors along its borders, a new conflict with Kuwait has flared up this week. From yesterday's snapshot:

Today the Prime Minister of Kuwait was in Iraq. Yesterday Iraq and Kuwait were once again at odds. Caroline Alexander (Bloomberg News) reports that the incident involved an Iraqi fishing boat and Kuwait's Coast Guard, that the two exchanged fire and 1 Kuwaiti Coast Guard was killed. BBC News notes that Iraq's government maintains that 3 of their fisherman were injured and four are missing. The Kuwait Times includes that "HH the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah sent a cable of condolences to the family of [Lance Corporal Abdelrahman] Al-Wadi. The Amir lauded the virtues of the martyr and the great sacrifice he made in defending his country. He also expressed his deepest sympathies to the family of the martyr and prayed to Allah Almighty to bliss the deceased with mercy. HH the Crown Prince Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah and HH the Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser Al-Mohammad Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah sent similar cables." John Leland and Omar al-Jawoshy (New York Times) observe, "The Iraqi and Kuwaiti authorities offered different accounts of the clash." Arab Times offers this account: "The boat refused to stop when ordered by the guards, leaving no option but the use of force and the Iraqi sailors returned fire. Sources disclosed that after the Iraqis were chased down, a senior officer ordered the martyred officer unto the Iraqi boat to conduct a search of the Iraqis as a precautionary measure. He said the Iraqis who were eight in number got hold of the officer, beat him and injured his head, forcing the senior officer to call for reinforcements from the air and navel forces. The boat was sunk after heavy shooting that ensued." AFP quotes Nouri al-Maliki's spokesperson Ali al-Dabbagh stating the two countries need to work together to provide security and that Iraq is investigating the incident.
CNN reports that Nasser Mohammed Al-Ahmed Al-Sabah, Prime Minister of Kuwait, is due to meet with Nouri and his officials today in Baghad and CNN reminds:

Sunday marks the 20th anniversary of the Persian Gulf War, which started as an air assault on Iraq and Kuwait by international forces. It was a result of Iraq's invasion of Kuwait on August 2, 1990.
The Persian Gulf War left behind heavy environmental damage in Kuwait. Days vanished into nights, black rain fell from the sky and lakes of oil as deep as six feet emerged.
Saddam also poured 10 million barrels of oil into the sea. Thousands of birds perished, and the people of the Persian Gulf started suffering from new diseases.

Hurriyet Daily News adds, "Iraq still pays five percent of revenues from its oil sales into a reparations fund for Kuwait, which is demanding that Baghdad pay another $22 billion. Kuwait has received about $13 billion in reparations. Kuwait also demands that Iraq return property stolen during the occupation and explain the fate of hundreds of missing Kuwaitis." Iraqhurr.org notes today's delegation from Kuwait "included Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammad al-Sabah and other officials." Khalid Walid (Iraqhurr.org) quotes the Kuwaiti Prime Minister stating that "the previous phase is over and we are now in a new phase of bilateral relations." Al-Mada reports the Prime Minister met with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and the two "announced the formation of joint committees to address 'outstanding problems'." Also present at the meet-up were Iraq's Vice Presidents Tareq al-Hashemi and Adel Abdel Mahdi. Jane Arraf (Christian Science Monitor) hails it as "a historic visit" and explains the public bad blood between the two nations went right up to the start of the Iraq War with a March 2003 conference of the Organization of the Islamic Conference as the place where Iraq's then-Vice President Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri called a members of Kuwait's cabinet a monkey.
Background on that conference which received little attention in the US press in real time (you'll see why when you see what they called for). This was when Morocco's Abdelouahed Belkeziz was the Secretary-General of the Organization of the Islamic Conference which came into being in 1969. That was the year many countries joined such as Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Turkey, Egypt, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Iran -- 24 in all. Iraq did not join the OIC until 1976. The March 2003 meet-up was not a regular meeting. The Doha, Qatar summit was an emergency summit which was called to discuss the US plans to go to war with Iraq. The emergency summit would issue a call for war to be put hold so that more time could be spent on diplomacy. The US government would ignore that call. The US press largely would as well.
Mohammed Tawfeeq and CNN reminds that two years ago, talk of greater ties between Iraq and Kuwait were made by Kuwait's Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed Sabah al-Salem al-Sabah on a trip to Iraq. Prior to today's trip, he had been Kuwait's highest ranked official to visit Iraq since the start of the Iraq War. The US had a high ranking official in Baghdad today, Vice President Joe Biden. He was there to address many issues primarily the issue/possibility of US troops in Iraq after 2011. Lara Jakes (AP) reports, "Iraqi officials said they expected the issue of whether to keep some U.S. forces in Iraq beyond the Dec. 31 deadline would dominate Biden's talks Thursday with President Jalal Talabani, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and Kurdish President Massoud Barzani." Michael O'Brien (The Hill) notes this is the seventh trip to Iraq for Joe -- seventh since being sworn in as vice president. It is already Thursday in Iraq, just FYI in case that throws anyone using links. Karen Travers (ABC) reports that he is set to meet with Parliament Speaker Osama al-Nujaifi, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and Ayad Allawi among others. Jamie Crawford (CNN) quotes the White House statement on the visit. Use link to read it, I don't feel like insulting anyone's intelligence by including it.
Staying on officials, the glutten Jalal Talabani gets called out strongly in a column by Omar Ajili (Kitabat) which notes his excessive love of food ("governed by his diet"), his stately home "built from the sweat of the Peshmerga and the sacrifices of the Iraqi opposition in Sulaymaniyah Province," his jealous temperament, the influence (in the 80s) Muammar Qaddafi had him, and more. It's an opinion piece and very much a partisan piece (nothing wrong with that) but it would shock many US readers who've heard none of the truth about Jalal. A bit more on the issue of weight, Al-Kala'a Weekly reports that 60% of Iraq's military officers and soldiers suffer from obesity according to an unnamed officer and that the Minister of Defense will be addressing the issue. Alsumaria TV notes the assertion that the country's "security forces have been infiltrated and intellegence has been leaked." From the military to militias, Monday, Al-Badeal reported that Sahwa leader Mullah Nazim Jubouri states that the Ministries of Interior and Defense are providing cover for many militias including the Mahdi Army who, with the legal cover of the ministries, are able to commit terrorism. Meanwhile Alsumaria TV reports a guard for the al-Sadr bloc in Parliament was arrested with 'explosive materials" on his person. Turning to the topic of violence . . .
Bombings?
Alsumaria TV reports that a Baghdad home bombing left Judge Rashed Mashali and a Baghdad roadside bombing left a barber shop damaged. Reuters notes that a Taji sticky bombing claimed the life of 1 truck driver ("It was the second attack on a truck in two days."), a Taji roadside bombing left three people injured and a Mosul roadside bombing claimed the live of 1 person.
Shootings?
Reuters notes 1 person was shot dead in Mosul.
Corpses?
Alsumaria TV reports that a woman's corpse was discovered in the Bob al-Sham region of northern Baghdad.
In other news of meet-ups, RTE News reports that the three-day conference in Copenhangan of religious leaders -- including Iraqi Muslims and Christians -- has kicked off today and, while the conference takes place behind closed doors, there's expected to be a press conference on Friday. AFP reminds, "The emergency summit at a heavily guarded Copenhagen hotel comes on the heels of a string of attacks on Christians in Iraq, as well as in neighbouring countries." While the participants working in Iraq are supposed to be anonymous to protect them, as usual Andrew White can't stop seeking publicity and has already issued a statement to AFP. White, for those late to the party, was most infamous for testifying that there were no Jews left in Iraq when, in fact, there were. And when an ISP reporter questioned him about the claims he made in his testimony, White flew into a rage and claimed that he was told his (public) testimony would be off the record. A rare instance where White did not seek publicity.
Turning to the US, Marc Ramirez (Dallas Morning News) reports that Dallas - Fort Worth Airport yesterday was the scene of a special event: "Tuesday's larger-than-normal crowd, organized by the locally based Welcome Home a Hero program, was on hand to help the U.S. military commemorate the arrival of its 1 millionth soldier on break from deployments in Iraq or Afghanistan. Every day, between 150 and 275 service members fly into D/FW to begin two weeks of rest-and-recuperation leave, with others returning via Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International." Chris Vaughn (Fort Worth Star-Telegram) explains:


For more than six years, an all-volunteer army from North Texas schools, veterans organizations, churches and corporations has greeted every flight of troops on R&R from Iraq and Afghanistan into D/FW Airport, 2,300 straight days and counting. As of mid-December, more than 1 million service members have landed at D/FW Airport or Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta Airport, the other entry point of troops on midtour leave.
Tuesday's flight of 148 troops -- most of them appeared to be U.S. Army -- was marked by a special ceremony in which top Army leaders expressed their gratitude to the airport and the volunteers who have made a commitment almost as long as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In addition to the January 25th action, there are many other upcoming actions. We'll note one in February and one in March. First, this is the upcoming Iraq Veterans Against the War event:

February 25, 2011 9:30 - 10:30 am
Busboys & Poets, Langston room
14th & V st NW Washington DC
This report back will be to answer questions from media and the peace movement about the recent trip back to Iraq by members of Iraq Veterans Against the War. The war is not over but it is not the same as it was in years past. What is the humanitarian situation in Iraq?
How can we do reparations and reconciliation work?
Speakers are all returning from this delegation and include:
Geoff Millard (IVAW) Hart Viges (IVAW) Haider Al-Saedy (Iraqi Health Now)
Richard Rowely (
Big Noise Films)
The following month, A.N.S.W.E.R. and March Forward! and others will be taking part in this action:

March 19 is the 8th anniversary of the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Iraq today remains occupied by 50,000 U.S. soldiers and tens of thousands of foreign mercenaries.

The war in Afghanistan is raging. The U.S. is invading and bombing Pakistan. The U.S. is financing endless atrocities against the people of Palestine, relentlessly threatening Iran and bringing Korea to the brink of a new war.

While the United States will spend $1 trillion for war, occupation and weapons in 2011, 30 million people in the United States remain unemployed or severely underemployed, and cuts in education, housing and healthcare are imposing a huge toll on the people.

Actions of civil resistance are spreading.

On Dec. 16, 2010, a veterans-led civil resistance at the White House played an important role in bringing the anti-war movement from protest to resistance. Enduring hours of heavy snow, 131 veterans and other anti-war activists lined the White House fence and were arrested. Some of those arrested will be going to trial, which will be scheduled soon in Washington, D.C.

Saturday, March 19, 2011, the anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, will be an international day of action against the war machine.

Protest and resistance actions will take place in cities and towns across the United States. Scores of organizations are coming together. Demonstrations are scheduled for San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and more.

Click this link to endorse the March 19, 2011, Call to Action.

Lynne Stewart is a political prisoner. She's an attorney, a wife, a mother, a grandmother, a cancer survivor, a national treasure. And once upon a time, from across the aisle, people would admit they admired Lynne for her courage and dedication to the law, for feeling that the Constitution guaranteed everyone a defense. But justice took a black eye on 9-11 and has still never recovered so people run scared. Lynne is the people's attorney. She is not a criminal, she is not a terorrist. She does not belong behind bars. To further punish and isolate her, she's been moved from NYC to Texas -- far, far from family. Those wishing to write her can do say via:
Lynne Stewart
Federal Medical Center, Carswell
53504-054
Unit 2N
PO Box 27137
Fort Worth, Texas 76127
In fairness, I should note that I have friends on the right in the legal system in various roles (judges, attorneys) and most of them still speak of Lynne the same way. The targeting of Lynne really didn't change their opinions (from the 'she's on the opposing side but keeps the system balanced and working' to 'I can't stand her'), what it did -- and this is the sort of thing Chris Hedges outlines in his wonderful new book Death Of The Liberal Class -- was send the mushy among the liberals running in fear and afraid to stand up for Lynne. At her website, her latest letter has been posted and this is an excerpt:
UHURu, the swahili word for Freedom, part of the rallying call for the emerging nations of Africa and the nationalist military movements that finally brought them into being in the sixties and seventies, also became, standing alone, the name of an organization that 50 years ago was founded with the same goals for the freedom of captive Africa ns, slave descendents in the United States.
For me, during most of the early days,I only knew Uhuru for its publication of Burning Spear newspaper . It was the truth-teller, the must read. So many times I would get a letter from a captured political prisoner asking for my help getting the prison to permit him or her to receive it. Why?? The name alone is so powerful -- Burning Spear -- the harbinger of what is to come; the symbol of uprising, resistance by those who will if they must fight even with burning sprears. The enemy's fear of Burning Spear, both the truth telling print version and as a symbol for grievances long ignored is still as powerful today.

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