Saturday, February 12, 2011

Spyware and other problems

I know you never got a long post from me this week or one on radio. Sorry. You're not getting it now. I was planning to do one Friday but I open up the laptop last night and am all set to get on and blog when I can't do anything.

"Spyware Protection" is telling me I have all these issues and must buy their program and blah, blah, blah. "Spyware Protection" isn't a program, it's a virus. And I did know enough to know that. But I was depressed as hell and just not in the mood.

So I ended up popping some popcorn and when Cedric got home (he was doing church work), we watched a few movies and that was that.

I got up early this morning to call C.I. because I'm never sure what time she and the rest leave Boston on Saturdays. I caught her while she was running (with Wally and Mike) and she told me how to get around it.

In case anyone ever has the problem, reboot your computer. Immediately when Windows comes up -- IMMEDIATELY -- pull up Task Manager (Control-Alt-Delete) and immediately highlight "Defender" then click on "end process." That will stop it and allow you to use your computer as normal for a session. It does not remove the program, it just allows you to bypass it.

C.I. asked me what I was using on the laptop for protection. I had Norton and McAfee but they both ran out some time ago. She asked which I preferred. I said McAfee. And she recommended the "AntiVirus Plus 2011." She said it should have a warranty with it and a refund. So I said I'd go look for it at my local Target. C.I. suggested Office Depot and said if I'd do that, she'd get someone to explain it to me when I bought it to make sure it was what I needed. So I said sure because that's a lot easier and we have one less than 20 minutes away from us.

So I went there late this afternoon and explained I was there to pick up McAfee and to hear some about it and the guy at the desk asks, "Are you Ann Wilson?" I knew C.I. was going to call but she actually put the cost on her card so thank you so much, C.I.

So then I came home and worked on that. And I think it's fixed but I'm waiting a bit to call C.I. and make sure I did everything right.

So that's my story. A very tough work week and then computer problems. Sorry.

If I can sure one thing, don't panic if you get a message about viruses. If you panic, you're apt to buy whatever the virus encourages you to in order to fix it and that's just a scam. "Spyware Protection" looks similar to AVG. It's the same color but it's on a shield. I had AVG on here and I may have installed Spyware Protection myself by a message popping up and my thinking it was AVG. But you can get it without installing it.

Anyway, hope everyone had a better week than I did. (We had another round of layoffs, I was not laid off.)

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

Friday, February 11, 2011. Chaos and violence continue, protests continue throughout Iraq, Iraqi women continue suffer, rumors swirl that Iraq will announce the vice presidents Sunday and that there will be four (not the three expected), Cindy Sheehan explains how you can have blood on your hands, and more.
This week on Antiwar Radio, Scott Horton spoke with Jason Ditz (Antiwar.com) and the discussion included Iraq.
Scott Horton: What's going on in Iraq?
Jason Ditz: Well what's going on in Iraq is sort of the same thing that's going on all across the region. There's a high level of unemployment and increasing concern about a leader of the government taking more and more power for himself and there are starting to be some pretty big protests.
Scott Horton: Well be more specific about more power for himself?
Jason Ditz: Well right now Nouri al-Maliki the Prime Minister is also Nouri al-Maliki the Interior Minister and Nouri al-Maliki the Defense Minister and the National Security Minister and I believe he might have another title or two in there too. But basically he's -- when he announced his new unity cabinet, he kept every single cabinet position that has any police or military forces or even some of the smaller law enforcement groups are all under his control. He -- he literally controls, as the leader, every single, uh, every single non-foreign force in Iraq now.
Scott Horton: But that's unconstitutional according to the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iraq from 2005, right?
Jason Ditz: Well it certainly is. He's sort of skirting that by claiming that he's the interim Defense Minister and the interim Interior Minister and interim all these other ministers but -- And that he's going to appoint somebody. But it's been awhile now and he certainly doesn't seem to be moving forward with it.
Scott Horton: So now tell me about the reaction to this now too because across the Middle East, there's been protests. What's the effect of the "Egyptian virus" -- as John McCain called it -- in Iraq?
Jason Ditz: Well there have been some protests particularly in some of the poorer Shi'ite cities in the south. There's been some pretty good size protests demanding economic improvement, criticizing the government and police reacting as they have in a lot of places just by opening fire on the protesters.
Scott Horton: Do you know if there were any reports about Iraqi reaction to the international reports? I guess it was Amnesty -- No, it was Human Rights Watch and I guess CBS News followed up on all of this about Nouri al-Maliki and his secret prisons and torture and all of that. Is that part of the narrative in Iraq about the protests in the south, for example?
Jason Ditz: That I'm not sure about. It seems like the protests are pretty non-specific to the extent they're reported in the media. They're more angry at the general situation that they've got this not particularly elected government, Maliki's party came in second in last year's election and he ended up dominating the situation even more than he had before and that the economy is getting worse and worse so it seems like the specifics of torture, the specifics of his policies are sort of being drowned out by just the overwhelming annoyance at the situation in the hope that something similar that happened in Egypt might happen in Iraq too.
Yesterday attorneys led protests in Baghdad, Basra and Mosul. Alsumara TV notes, "The wave of demonstrations in Iraq does not only stir up underprivileged. Iraqi lawmakers staged a protest on Thursday in Baghdad against the ruling of the Iraqi Government to ban access for citizens and lawyers into State institutions mainly the Trade Ministry directorates. [. . .] Demonstrators believe that banning them from accessing state directorates to follow up their clients' formalities is an invitation for corruption." Al Rafidayn reports on the 500 in Baghdad and notes that 200 also demonstrated in Karbala and in Kut which saw two different protests -- one by attorneys. Haider Roa (Iraqhurr.org) adds demonstrations also took place in Samawah, Kut, Amara, Diwaniyah and Ramadi yesterday. Al Mada adds that the Islamic Supreme Council has declared it will protect any Iraqi who is protesting against the government's policies. Ammar al-Hakim, president of the Islamic Supreme Council, is warning that the government needs to start providing the basic services, providing jobs and end the corruption. He issued a call for the security forces of Iraq to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the Iraqi people and ensure they are protected during demonstrations and marches. He demanded that Iraqi officials stop offering easy and false assurances of improvements and actually deliver improvements. In response, Baghdad Operations Command agreed that they will protect Iraqi citizens who are taking part in demonstrations. Alsumaria TV adds, "Head of Islamic Supreme Council Sayyed Ammar Al Hakim rebuked the way Iraqi officials including Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki are dealing with the concerns and interests of Iraqis. Al Hakim called to deal more seriously with people's demands and restrain from fake vows and pledges, he said."
Also yesterday Oxfam published the report "Whose Aid Is It Anyway?" and AFP notes, "The non-profit group Oxfam said on Thursday that major powers were concentrating too much aid on countries for political and military reasons and were overlooking other severe crises. The aid organisation said billions of dollars had been used for "unsustainable, expensive and sometimes dangerous aid projects" supporting short-term foreign policy and security objectives. Oxfam particularly highlighted tens of billions of dollars spent in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past decade." The topic was the focus of the latest Guardian Focus podcast with Madeleine Bunting and guests the Guardian's Jonathan Steele, the European Council on Foreign Relation's Daniel Korski, Oxfam's Mike Leis and War on Want's John Hilary. In the discussion Bunting played a clip of Hillary Clinton speaking on the issue of Afghanistan women which led Jonathan Steele off on a raving loon moment. I've thought about that and that's the only term for it. (This was supposed to be addressed in yesterday's snapshot but there wasn't room.) Jonathan Steele needs to think about his remarks. Madeleine Bunting and the Guardian need to stop the women bashing.
Had I written yesterday, I wouldn't have called it that. But Madeleine specifically criticized David Cameron by name (as did guests) and they also criticized Hillary by name. Does no one see the problem with that?
David Cameron is the Prime Minister of England. Is Hillary Clinton the President of the United States? No, she's not. Her equivalent in the UK would be Theresa May. May, the UK Home Secretary, was never mentioned. Nor should she have been. Jonathan would argue he was building on her voting record from her days in the Senate. When she and Barack both served in the Senate, there wasn't a big difference in their voting records when it came to Afghanistan or Iraq. And you're not building on her voting record if you're talking about the status today. If you're talking about the status of that war today, the United States military has only one commander in chief and that is Barack Obama.
Instead of popping open a can of crazy, Jonathan should have asked Bunting why she played the clip to begin with? She's calling out David Cameron who's the leader of England. Why is she not calling out Barack? He should have asked her was the clip played because Hillary's a woman? Was the clip played because Barack makes no statements -- as he pursues these wars -- about the women in the countries he keeps the US military? If the latter's the case, that's not only troubling, it's worthy of an entire broadcast. People need to stop using Hillary as their chew toy. The Cult of St. Barack ensured that he got the White House. He now needs to take the criticism for his policies. And if that's too much for Jonathan Steele and Madeleine Bunting, then the Guardian Focus needs to find more mature guests and more mature host.
Some basic facts on Iraq from the United Nations Country Team Iraq -- young population with nearly 50% being less than 19, only 18% of women are employed. Those are 2011 figures. In 2009, Oxfam published their survey of Iraqi women and the number of them who were head of household was approximately 36%. The bulk of them are not receiving any assistance from the government and the meager amount offered to widows by the government (the few that receive assistance) is not enough to live on. In December, IRIN noted, "An IOM survey of 1,355 female-headed displaced families who have returned to their places of origin found that 74 percent are struggling to secure adequate nutrition for their families. Delays in receiving subsidized government food rations or lack of some food items in the rations force women to buy food with whatever money they have, adding to their struggle, the report, issued on 3 December, states. The survey also found that health problems and social norms had prevented nearly 40 percent of them from finding jobs. Of those who are able to work, 71 percent are unemployed." Nizar Latif (The National) reported last week on how the Iraqi Women's Association's Madia al Rawai was warning that the al-Maliki government needed to look at what was happening in surrounding countries, "The Iraqi government should pay attention. There is an army of women, with no jobs and no money, and they are ready to take to the streets unless something is done to improve their situation." Tupperware's Elinor Steele has been writing entries for The Huffington Post about Iraqi women she encountered on her recent visit to the country. She noted earlier this month:
Iraq has always been a pioneer in the Middle East for integrating women into society and promoting women's rights; however, over the past 30 years many laws that empowered women have been retracted and some men in society have become more conservative and less open-minded to women-owned businesses. This kind of thinking could set Iraq's economy back by decades.
During my visit, I had a chance to meet a group of Iraqi female politicians. The first comment they made was about unequal representation within the Iraqi government. While the Iraqi parliament is complying with its constitutional mandate that 25% of the seats must be held by women, there are no women in senior-level government positions such as vice president or serving as ministers at high-ranking ministries.
Sunday, Iraq's representatives in Parliament are supposed to vote on the vice president. In the past, the country has had two vice presidents. Three has been expected to be the number this year and all men. However, Al Rafidayn reports that there may be four vice presidents and that the fourth expected to be a VP is a woman with the Turkmen bloc, Faihaa Zine El Abidine. Supposedly, on Monday, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani asked parliament to allow for four vps and that was to provide a post for "the women of Iraq." The Turkmen bloc issued a statement noting that women in Iraq are maginalized in the current government and that they did not receive any posts from Nouri to his cabinet ("the center of political decision-making"). How very telling that the country might have their first female vice president when Nouri -- his Cabinet still not full -- can't find slots for women. His Cabinet is so bad that even the head of the Ministry of Women is a man.
Iraq has many problems but Elinor Steele and the New York Times ignore the obvious. The puppet government is installed. The forces terrorizing Iraqis were picked by and endorsed by the US and British governments. The terrorizing was supposed to keep the Iraqis too frightened to fight the occupation. So religious extremists were put into positions of power and it has made life hell for Iraqi women, Iraq's LGBT community and Iraq's religious minorities. These thugs doing the terrorizing were elevated to their positions not by accident. John Leland and Duraid Adnan (New York Times) report on the situation in Baghdad for women and reveal just how close minded so many are (including some women). A store's window display promises eternal damnation to women who allow even bits of the hairs on their head to be seen. (Iraqi women should reject that store window display by rejecting the store itself.) 34-year-old Maysson Ibrahim vows she will continue to wear her "tight jeans and skirts" and the curses and harassment will not force her "to cover herself." And all of this could have been addressed. The US government controlled Iraqi media. They could have set a tone (hell, if they knew what they were doing, they could have shaped the society -- that's not me encouraging it and I've refrained from stating how that could happen -- either in personal conversations or at this site). They chose not to. Yet again, they decided it was more important to support terrorism and allow the thugs free reign. Journalist Anna Badkhen writes:
No one knows exactly how many Iraqi women have been raped since the U.S-led invasion in 2003, but activists in Iraq and abroad put the numbers in the thousands. Human rights groups began to see an increase in rapes in Iraq immediately after the fall of Hussein's regime, and evidence that different factions were targeting women. In 2008, Amnesty International reported that "crimes specifically aimed at women and girls, including rape, have been committed by members of Islamist armed groups, militias, Iraqi government forces, foreign soldiers within the U.S.-led Multinational Force, and staff of foreign private military security contractors."
Badkhen writes the above for a Frontline video report she and Mimi Chakarova did on the safe houses for Iraqi women. They visit one in the Red Zone which, for safety reasons, they must visit "in the dead of night," Chakarova explains. They discover "a two bedroom apartment full of women and children. One of the women warns us that the rats will keep us awake. [. . .] There are six women living here with their children. Four have been raped." From the video report:
Mimi Chakarova: When we were in Iraq, did you witness any women getting raped.
Male US service member: Yeah, definitely. On both tours I would say at least 8 rapes that I saw with my own eyes.
Anna Badkhen covered the women shelters for Ms. magazine in 2009. Utne re-runs her article for Ms. Excerpt:

The Underground Railroad was founded in 2004 by Baghdad-born architect-turned-feminist-organizer Yanar Mohammed, head of OWFI, along with MADRE, an international women's rights group based in New York. It provides the only sanctuaries for victims of sexual abuse and domestic violence outside the quasi-autonomous Kurdistan region in northern Iraq, where the local government and nongovernment organizations operate several shelters. In addition to providing temporary asylum, it helps women resettle in places where their abusers cannot find them easily. Since its inception, says MADRE policy and communications director Yifat Susskind, the railroad has helped thousands of women. Several have been transferred to Turkey and at least two now live in the United States, but most of the rescued women have remained in Iraq.

Saddam Hussein's regime persecuted political dissidents but allowed women personal rights and freedoms; assaults on women were rare. But when violence engulfed the country after the U.S. invasion, women became "the easiest targets," says OWFI member Dalal Juma. Violence against women is now rampant and goes virtually unchecked by Iraq's new legal system. Sexual violence is "severely under­reported," Amnesty International wrote in March, and along with other crimes against women and girls, is usually committed with impunity.

[. . .]
Women learn about the shelter through word of mouth and OWFI's quarterly newsletter; the only people who know its location are the women who run it and a thoroughly vetted handful of male security guards armed with handguns. One of these guards lives at the shelter with his young wife, an OWFI employee. As far as the landlord is concerned, the couple is renting the apartment and the other women are their relatives, in town for a visit. Just to be on the safe side, the organization pays $350 a month for the place, which would normally cost about $150. "Money for silence," Juma explains.

Women in Iraq have not been afforded equal access to justice or protection by law enforcement agencies, so have stayed more vulnerable and likely to face abuse.
"The security situation in general has obviously hit the vulnerable populations worst, and when we look at the situation for women, there is a fear that -- rather than improving -- the situation since 2003 has deteriorated," said Helen Olafsdottir, a UNDP Iraq advisor for Crisis Prevention and Recovery. "We've found that there was a huge gap in terms of addressing issues of domestic violence, and gender-based violence in general."
According to surveys conducted jointly by the Government of Iraq and UN agencies from 2006 to 2009, women in Iraq face high levels of violence, but lack adequate access to care and justice in the aftermath.
One in five women from 15 to 49 years old has suffered physical violence at the hands of her husband -- some 14 percent of whom were also pregnant at the time. The real numbers are likely higher, however, since reporting of gender-based violence cases is generally low, as women fear social stigmatization and lack confidence that authorities will investigate complaints. [See
here and here for sources of stats above and facts in the next paragraph.]
In Iraq, there is not a strong legal framework to protect women from abuse, compounded by a lack of shelters and a lack of adequate training for medical and law enforcement authorities to respond to instances of gender-based violence.

The US government created the conditions women in Iraq now live in. It's amazing how little press coverage Iraqi women receive. The best thing the US can do for Iraqi women is to remove all forces immediately. US forces are used to prop up the puppet government and the thugs who terrorize. A quick departure by the US could spell an end to them. The longer US forces prop up this anti-woman government, the longer the anti-women sentiment exists and begins to appear 'normal' to many Iraqis.

In other news, Al Mada reports the Health and Environment Committee in the Maysan Province is warning of an impending environmental disaster as a result of the continued influx of contaminated water from Iran. The salt in the water, is threatening farming and and animals, the committee learned on a visit to Amara. Still on water news, Water World reports:

On Thursday, 10 February 2011, Swiss President Micheline Calmy-Rey presented the report "The Blue Peace: Rethinking Middle East Water" to the Swiss Press Club in Geneva. Supported by Switzerland and by the Swedish government, the report compiles a list of 10 recommendations whose objective is to contribute to building peace and to reducing the conflicts in the Middle East thanks to a sustainable trans-border management of water in the region.
On Thursday, 10 February 2011, the "Blue Peace" report was officially presented by Swiss President Micheline Calmy-Rey. The document assesses the principal challenges linked to the trans-border management of resources. At present a factor of division and tension, water harbours the potential of becoming an instrument of peace and cooperation. This emerges as the report's central thesis. Subsequently, it compiles a list of ten recommendations, calculated in the short, medium, and long terms, which are aimed to lead to pragmatic solutions.
Water resources in the Middle East are subject to an unprecedented pressure which is threatening the populations of entire regions along with their economic activities. Population growth, migration, urbanization, and climate change are all exerting an enormous impact on these resources. In fact, over the last 50 years, the flow rate of numerous rivers in turkey, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, and Jordan has plunged by 50 to 90 percent. And yet at the same time, the sustainable management of trans-border water resources is vital to provide for the requirements of agriculture, the need for clean drinking water, and for socio-economic development in general. It is key to avoiding human tragedy and to fostering the promotion of peace.


AFP also notes
the joint Swiss and Swedish report adds, "Downstream territories such as Israel, Jordan and Palestinian territories were in the worst position with mounting clean water deficits of up to 500-700 million cubic metres each. The report also argued that technical solutions such as desalination or wastewater recycling in Israel would ultimately have limited scope."
Al Rafidayn reports that Behouz Aziz Older, a journalist in northen Iraq, is said to have taken his own life after being discovered hanged in a cemetary. His funeral services were yesterday. Reuters notes 1 man ("mobile shop owner") was shot dead Thursday night in Falluja.
Last night on KPFK's Lawyer's Guild (7 to 8:00 PST each Thursday night -- click here to visit the KPFK archives and scroll down to listen to program -- you have 59 days before it's pulled from the archives), Jim Lafferty spoke with Peter Dudar who made the documentary Arlington West with Sally Marr.
Jim Lafferty: So tell us about Cross Wise, what is it?
Peter Dudar: Well it's the new version of Arlington West and it's twice as powerful
Jim Lafferty: Okay.
Peter Dudar: Now we have an update with all these -- The mothers' stories have been they were lied to unfortunately. Along with Fernando Suarez [del Solar]' story about saying his son [Jesus Suarez del Solar, November 16, 1982 - March 27, 2003] was --
Jim Lafferty: Who was the first guy to die in Iraq.
Peter Dudar: Jesus. Ironically in a Christian country, he was the first to die in Iraq.
Jim Lafferty: And he was told what? That his son had died -- I can't remember the story, Peter. Tell us.
Peter Dudar: Well he was told his son died and with a bullet to the head. He goes to the mortuary and asks for the lid to be lifted and the military refuses. He calls the police. They remove the military. He opens the lid and discovers his son's face is perfect and it's the rest of his body that's damaged -- from a US cluster bomb, he discovers.
Jim Lafferty: From our own weapons. That's right. And Cindy Sheehan, the famous Cindy Sheehan, sort of the mother of the anti-war movement in the country these days, they lied to her about how her son [Casey Sheehan, May 29, 1979 - April 4, 2004] lost his life, didn't they?
Peter Dudar: Yeah. A Humvee mechanic. She was told that he died a very heroic death in battle and volunteered for the mission. Well she discovers later, years later, that he was forced on the mission, that he was killed immediately and dies, you know, there in a MedTent, the first day, his first day in Iraq. Karen Meredith. She discovers that her son [Ken Ballard, July 21, 1977 - May 30, 2004] actually didn't receive a bullet to the head from insurgents, he was killed by a discharge from his own machine gun on his tank.
Jim Lafferty: Ow. And I think you talked with one -- I don't know if this is in the movie yet because I confess almost no one has seen it, including me, you were kind enough to give me some copies tonight so I'm going to see it -- but it was a Marine recruiter, wasn't it? That told you because you got to talking about this whole question for a very long time, not only, let me put it this way, not only don't we know how many civilians the war has killed in Afghanistan and Iraq. I mean there's been some relatively decent figures taken by the Lancet and doctors and scientists abroad while our own country lies about the figures. It's certainly, with sanctions, well over a million people. Maybe it's two million with the sanctions that went on for years? But we even lie about how many of our soldiers we lost because we don't want the country to know the price that our own families are paying. And this Marine recruit said something interesting. Could you remind us of that?
Peter Dudar: Yeah. Actually --
Jim Lafferty: Is that in the film, by the way?
Peter Dudar: It's -- No. That's not in the film. But this kind of keys us into what happened.
Jim Lafferty: Okay.
Peter Dudar: Okay. 18 suicides a day. 6570 suicides by our young men and women every year. Times 7 years of war. How many is that? 45,000 suicides.

Jim Lafferty: That we know of.

Peter Dudar: That only gives us the clue. What this gentleman came up to me and said -- and I had some people stand there -- "I'm a Marine counter. I count the dead
Jim Lafferty: Oh.
Peter Dudar: Here's what we're waiting for in America: From somebody who knows what's going on to finally come forth and say, "Here's actually the number of our dead." He said, "I count the dead for the Marines. Where did you get your number on the site?
Jim Lafferty: For the total.
Peter Dudar: For the total. And it was at that time for Iraq, only 4,400, I think. And he goes, "Well, anyway, there are more Marines dead than that."
Jim Lafferty: Let's be sure we understand that. Here's a guy whose job is to count the deaths for the Marines. He comes up to Peter and the crosses [white crosses placed at Arlington West] were representing at that time 4,400 some dead, that's what we thought, that's what the government was telling us. And he said, "Hell I've got more -- Sadly, I know more Marines that died in this war than that." That doesn't talk about the Army and the rest of them. Alright --
Peter Dudar: But we can -- we can juxtapose that number and say okay that was told to us. Can it be proven now? No. But what we can prove is this 18 a day, 6570 a year
To obtain a copy of Cross Wise, you can order by phone at 323-650-8166 or order by e-mail mail@arlingtonwestfilm.com. The documentary is a strong film and a strong peace resource. Peace Mom Cindy Sheehanis a truth teller and Abby Martin (Media Roots Radio) interviewed Cindy for this week's show. You can stream it here.
Cindy Sheehan: But then in 2004, I really bought into that lie that-that Ralph Nader was the reason that George Bush became president because, you know, if Ralph Nader wasn't running, then [Al] Gore would have won Florida --
Abby Martin: In 2000.
Cindy Sheehan: In 2000, yeah. In 2004, I bought into that lie, I mean. And I had a lot at stake. I was more awake because my son was killed in March and the elections were in November so I was going around the country speaking out against Bush and people were telling me -- you know, the people I was with, were telling me, you know, especially like Medea Benjamin from CODEPINK, who was one of the early advocates in the Green Party to support [2004 Democratic Party presidential nominee John] Kerry instead of supporting the Green Party candidate, was telling me it was because of Nader that George Bush won. And we were in Florida. And actually, the bottom line about Nader stealing the election from Gore is that Gore actually won Florida. He won Florida by something like 529 votes before it [the recount] was stopped. And so I bought into that lie. Again, I wasn't raging pro-Kerry because I did not like Kerry. But I was raging against George Bush. And so thinking that it might make a difference, even though Kerry said -- And see, this is the same thing with the Obama followers. Even though Kerry said he was going to send more troops to Iraq, I still thought he would be better than Bush. So most of the people in this country, they just affiliate with the party their parents affiliated with and they don't put too much thought into it and that's the way I was before my son was killed. And those are the people that we need to educate and reach out too. But, like before, it's the people who know but still help the people who aren't that aware come to the conclusion that 'you have to vote for a Democrat' are the ones who are the problem. You know, they're the ones that we're not going to change. We have the hope of changing just regular grassroots America. We're not going to change the operatives. They're doing it because they're doing it deliberately.
Abby Martin: And have you talked to any of these people? It seems like you've been in contact with a lot of these people like from MoveOn and like that and have you asked them, "Why are you perpetuating this? I mean, you know that this isn't the solution. It can't be."
Cindy Sheehan: I -- Early on, I had a lot of dialogue with-with people like that. In fact, in August of 2005, MoveOn sent two really high ranking people in their organization, Tom Andrews from Win Without War and Glen Smith -- he's with MoveOn, I don't know in what -- but he's a Texan. And I knew both of them before. So they sent them. And we had a meeting in my trailer and they wanted me to support a bill that was not supportable. It was a -- it was a Democrat - Republican co-sponsored bill about getting out of Iraq eventually. And I was just like, "No, that's not what Camp Casey's about. That's not what the affiliated organizations" -- we called them the skin-in-the-game organizations, Veterans for Peace, IVAW, Gold Star Families for Peace and Military Families Speak Out; I said, "No, we're calling for an immediate end to the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan." And so that's when they basically just said 'Okay, you know, see you later if you won't support this awful bill then we're not going to support you.' And then when the 2,000 soldier was getting ready to be killed in Iraq, we were in Washington, DC calling for civil disobedience and then MoveOn like totally severed ties and said "No, we're doing a candle light vigil." And I said, "Okay, then there's going to be a 3,000th soldier, a 4,000th soldier, a 5,000th soldier if we don't start to get a little more radical with our demonstrations. And you're the one that has the major list. And then in '07 it was the -- No, it was '08. It was the fifth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. United For Peace & Justice refused to call a demo in DC saying they didn't want to embarrass the Democrats.
Abby Martin: Wow.
Cindy Sheehan: Yeah. I mean just boldly said we don't want to embarrass the Democrats.
Abby Martin: Get an f-ing backbone.
Cindy Sheehan: Yeah. Yeah. So I've had so much dialogue with these people. I just finally wrote an article and I said that all the people from MoveOn had blood on their hands. And anybody who supports this empire, supports any part of -- Because that's when MoveOn was saying -- telling their groups that they needed to support the Democrats in supporting the supplemental war funding. And I was just like, "You all have blood on your hands." And it was like, "Oh, you said we have blood on our hands." And you do. You know. So you have two choices. Keep supporting the Democrats or support peace. And you're supporting the Democrats so that means you have blood on your hands.
Blood on the hands if you sit silently as the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars continue. Supposedly we wanted the wars ended NOW! when Bush was occupied the White House. Where did the outrage go? Maybe it deflated when most of the press coverage of the real conditions in Iraq vanished? To address the realities of Iraq, there is an 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)
To make it clear that continued war is unacceptable, in March 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.

TV notes. Washington Week begins airing on many PBS stations tonight (and throughout the weekend, check local listings) and joining Gwen are Dan Balz (Los Angeles Times), Helene Cooper (New York Times), Yochi Dreazen (National Journal) and John Harwood (New York Times). Gwen's latest column is "Sending Signals." Meanwhile Bonnie Erbe will sit down with Gretchen Hamel, Avis Jones-DeWeever, Kim Gandy and Star Parker to discuss the week's events on PBS' To The Contrary. Check local listings, on many stations, it begins airing tonight. Sunday on CBS' 60 Minutes:
To Be Determined
Our lead story is yet to be determined.

The 33
Four months after 33 Chilean miners were rescued from a half-mile underground, where they lived in daily fear of death for over two months, psychologists say all but one of them are experiencing serious mental stress. Bob Simon reports. |
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Lady Gaga
With her outrageous costumes and mega-hit dance songs, Lady Gaga has become the world's most talked about entertainer. CNN's Anderson Cooper reports. |
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Sunday, Feb. 13, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.


Thursday, February 10, 2011

Will Diane Rehm ignore Iraq for a 3rd week in a row?

Kwame Holman explained on tonight's NewsHour, "Some 3,000 Iraqis demonstrated in Baghdad today, demanding an end to corruption in the courts and abuse of prisoners. They were led by lawyers in one of the biggest protests in Iraq since the uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia. Smaller rallies also were held in Basra and Mosul."

It's amazing how little attention Iraq has received.

Diane Rehm will probably blow it off tomorrow. If so, it will be the third Friday in a row where there was no mention of Iraq in the "international hour" which has fastly become the Egypt hour.

Again, rough week at work, this is all I can manage tonight. Sorry.

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


Thursday, February 10, 2011. Chaos and violence continue, Shi'ite pilgrims are targeted, Iraqi Christians migration is studied, Peace Mom Cindy Sheehan names names and declares, "But the people who are high up in the anti-war movement, high up in these organizations that literally used me to promote anti-Bush -- you know, the anti-Bush agenda -- which I was anti-Bush, I still am anti-Bush -- to promote that agenda without following through on, you know, what I felt was the most important thing and that's ending the wars.," and more.
We'll open with Peace Mom Cindy Sheehan. Abby Martin (Media Roots Radio) interviewed Cindy and you can stream it here.
Abby Martin: We just wanted to jump kind of straight to the point here.
Abby Martin: You know, it seemed like when you were the figurehead of the peace movement, the mainstream media was fully behind you and then it seemed like they turned against you and the antiwar movement turned against you too. They used you as a symbol and they used you as kind of a scapegoat. Do you want to elaborate on that? What did you think about when that happened?
Cindy Sheehan: Uh, well first of all when I went to Crawford in 2005 it was a media circus. I remember like on the third or fourth day, there was this really cool AP photographer named Matt and he was down there constantly. And every day, I'd say, "Matt, is it a media circus yet?" And he'd go, "Not quite. Not quite." Then about Thursday, it was a media circus. He agreed that it was a media circus. And I think that -- You know, I used to think that the media was biased towards the right when Bush was president. And so a lot of that media -- and all the media, when they started to realize that I was like serious, I wasn't just a fluke and I wasn't going to go away, they like put the brakes on it and started to marginalize me, painting me as just a grieving mother or a slightly off-kilter because of my grief. And so that started to happen that summer. But still the so-called progressive liberal media, I was still like featured so many times on, you know, like Randi Rhodes or Stephanie Miller or Ed Schultz or whomever was considered on the left up until the Democrats came back into power in 2007. And then they didn't like it that I was saying the same thing about the Democrats that I said about the Republicans. So that came to an end. And I realized then when the Democrats came back into power -- and, you know, I'm just naming names. You know. Organizations like United For Peace & Justice and MoveOn. I realized then that they were not peace organizations. You know, United For Peace & Justice should really be United For Electing Democrats. And MoveOn really is like 'Let's Move On To Full Democratic Tyranny of Our Government.' And so, yeah, they didn't like somebody who realized that it was a systemic problem not a problem of political parties or -- You know, it wasn't just a problem for one side, it was a problem for the world. And so it's been hard -- especially since Obama's been elected because, especially in the beginning, I felt like I was one of the only people in this entire country who was saying, "No, he's -- First of all, why did you support him when he said he was going to send more troops to Afghanistan? When he said he was going to increase hostilities to Pakistan? And, you know, all of his hostile rhetoric against Iran and places like that. And his votes during the Senate? Supporting war, paying for the war, supporting the reauthorization of the Patriot Act for example? Things like that." I was like, "How can you? We have good candidates."
Abby Martin: Right.
Cindy Sheehan: We have Cynthia McKinney. We have Ralph Nader. They always have said and done the right things. So why are you supporting someone who's against what you supposedly believe in? You were against those same things when Bush was president. Why are you now pro these things now that Obama's president? So it was really, really hard, you know. But I never once considered saying, "Oh, let's just give him a chance. Let's wait and see." You know, because of the three days after, the three days after he was [sworn in] he bombed Pakistan. So it-it seems to be getting a little better. A lot of people are starting to come around. But I think that it's just -- it's just like finally, two years into this administration, you're against the wars again.
Abby Martin: Again, yeah. That's why I loved that, I remember I saw you immediately after Obama got elected, I think I saw you in San Diego speaking at the peace rally.
Cindy Sheehan: Right, it was a couple of months after, yeah.
Abby Martin: And you were just saying the same things. You said, "Why are we surprised he said he was going to do the things."
Abby Martin: "We shouldn't be shocked that he's doing them. He's an aggressive imperialist. This is -- this is who he campaigned on -- as." So I loved that. You didn't skip a beat. So that means you're a true advocate for peace. And a lot of people align themselves with the Democrats and think that's-that's an alternative and that's for peace. It doesn't make any sense. They're both aggessive imperialists, they're just two sides of the coin.
Cindy Sheehan: But there's -- but there's some people who are so-called anti-war, so-called peace activists who know the two party system is a sham, who know the Democrats are no different from the Republicans. But still it's about political party over policy and over peace and over progressivism. And so we can't -- There's some people who had just had it after eight years of the Bush administration, like all of us did. And they wanted a change and they didn't care what Obama was saying. They saw how he was saying it, they didn't hear what he was saying. So those people are one thing. But the people who are high up in the anti-war movement, high up in these organizations that literally used me to promote anti-Bush -- you know, the anti-Bush agenda -- which I was anti-Bush, I still am anti-Bush -- to promote that agenda without following through on, you know, what I felt was the most important thing and that's ending the wars.
Abby Martin: Yeah. Right. Exactly.
Cindy Sheehan: There's no excuse for those people.
Abby Martin: Right. There isn't. And just going along with what you're saying, it's astounding, that video I sent you about just interviewing people in the Bay Area and how asleep they are. All these people, they love Obama but they don't know why. They can't tell you one thing that he's doing.
Abby Martin: And just encountering other peace activists. Do you think -- Do you see more of a trend now, like you said, two years into his presidency, finally, do you see people waking up more and saying, "Oh my G**! I was duped!"
Abby Martin: So you are encountering that a lot more?
Cindy Sheehan: Yes and just like it happened when Bush was president that so many Republicans e-mailed me and said that they felt the same way. You know, at first they hated me but then they really started to research or he did something that sent them over the edge or whatever. And that started happening at the end of the Bush administration. And it's starting to happen now too because, I think really, the people who were opposed to Bush and opposed to his policies are -- I would think they were more of the intelligent people in our country. So it's not going to take them eight years to wake up like it took some Bush supporters. I'm not saying Bush supporters are stupid. [Laughter.] I guess I am saying that. If you supported Bush and still support him, what's the matter with you? Really. Come on.
Abby Martin: It's just, I almost feel like they're -- Yeah, I'd love to give people the benefit of the doubt and be like, you know, it's going to take you a couple of years to wake up. But I mean, if you got it and you woke up during the Bush administration, I don't see how you got duped at all.
Cindy Sheehan: Absolutely.
Abby Martin: There was really no -- I just don't see it. No change in civil liberties, no change in foreign policy.
Cindy Sheehan: Except for the worse. Except since Obama's been president, many things have gotten worse.
Abby Martin: Oh, yeah, exactly.

Again, you can stream it here at Media Roots Radio. Time permitting, we'll note more of the interview tomorrow. It's a really frank and important interview (as is to be expected from Cindy). And she has praise as well, including for World Can't Wait which she sees as a real organization dedicated to peace. (In fact, World Can't Wait should make their slogan, "Peace Mom approved.")
Death was in the ancient fortress
Shelled by a million bullets
From gunners, waiting in the copses
With hearts that threatened to pop their boxes
As we advanced into the sun
Death was all and everyone
-- "All and Everyone," written by PJ Harvey, from her forthcoming album Let England Shake released next Tuesday
CNN reports that an Al-Dujail "suicide bomber drove into a rest tent for Shiite pilgrims" and took his own life and that of 8 other people while thirty more were left wounded. Xinhua has the pilgrims marching and a car rigged with explosives going off as they passed and notes: "The pilgrims were heading to Samarra, some 110 km north of Baghdad to mark the death of Iman Hassan al-Askari at his tomb in the shrine of Ali al-Hadi in the Sunni dominated city. The shrine of Ali al-Hadi is one of the four most revered Shiite shrines in Iraq. It contains the tombs of Ali al-Hadi who died in 868 A.D. and Hisson Hassan al-Askari who died in 874 A.D." AFP adds, "The mosque itself was built in 944, and the golden dome was added in 1905." The golden dome, Lara Jokes (AP) reminds, was "sheered off" in February 2006 bombings, "Its destruction in 2006 sent Iraq into a downward spiral of violence between Sunnis and Shiites that left whole neighborhoods around the country cleansed and divided by sect." Sabah al-Bazee, Waleed Ibrahim, Jim Loney and Mark Trevelyan (Reuters) notes 8 people died and quotes Raysan Abood stating, "I know them by name. They were our friends and they were delivering food and tea to the pilgrims who came from other towns." They also note it was a suicide car bombing. In other reported violence?
Bombings?
Michael S. Schmidt (New York Times) reports a Baghdad bombing which left two people injured. Reuters notes a Mosul roadside bombing injured one Iraqi soldier, a second Mosul roadside bombing wounded one police officer and a third Mosul roadside bombing left a young girl injured.
Corpses?
Michael S. Schmidt (New York Times) reports 1 corpse was discovered in Baghdad.
How is our glorious country ploughed
Not by iron ploughs
How is our glorious country ploughed
Not by iron ploughs
Our land is ploughed by tanks and feet
Feet
Marching
Our land is ploughed by tanks and feet
Feet
Marching
-- "The Glorious Land," written by PJ Harvey, from her forthcoming album Let England Shake released when? This Tuesday.
Alsumaria TV reports protests took place in Babel Province today with one protest calling for the release of prisoners and another calling out the continued lack of public services. Dar Addustour reports the the Council of the Bar Association issued a call for a Baghdad demonstration calling for corruption to be prosecuted, for the Constitution to be followed and sufficient electricity in all the schools. Nafia Abdul-Jabbar (AFP) reports that approximately 500 people (mainly attorneys "but also including some tribal sheikhs") marched and that they also decried the secret prisons. They carried banners which read "Lawyers call for the government to abide by the law and provide jobs for the people" and "The government must provide jobs and fight the corrupt." Bushra Juhi (AP) counts 3,000 demonstrating and calls it "one of the biggest anti-government demonstrations in Iraq" this year. Juhi also notes that attorneys staged smaller protests in Mosul and Basra today. Al Rafidayn reports that five provinces saw protests yesterday as the people demanded reliable public services and an end to government corruption. Noting the Babylon Province protest, the paper quotes Amer Jabk (Federation of Industrialists in Babylon president) stating that the provincial government has not provided any of the services the province needs, that basic services have deteriorated and that heavy rains have not only seen streets closed but entire neighborhoods sinking. Hayder Najm (niqash) observes protests have taken place across Iraq, "The protesters' grievances have been many and varied: the quality and level of basic services, government restrictions on civil liberties and freedom of expression, violations against civil servants, and the rampant financial and administrative corruption within state institutions. [. . .] Eight years after the US invasion of Iraq, the electricity supply in most areas of the country still does not exceed two hours a day, and the country still suffers from poor infrastructure, a weak transport network, and an acute crisis of drinking water and sanitation."
October 31st kicked off the latest wave of targeting Christians in Iraq with the assault on Our Lady of Salvation Church in Baghdad. Catholic Culture reports that Iraq's Ministry of Tourism has announced Pope Benedict XVI may visit Iraq, specifically make a pilgrimage to Ur. Meanwhile Simon Roughneen (National Catholic Register) reports:

Al Qaeda in Iraq has targeted the country's fast-disappearing Christian population, describing them as "legitimate targets" and causing unknown hundreds of thousands to flee in recent years. Out of an estimated 800,000 to 1.3 million Christians during the Hussein era, now less than half are thought to remain in the country.
Since an Oct. 31 attack on Baghdad's Our Lady of Salvation Church, thousands more Iraqi Christians have run to Turkey. Exact figures are unknown, but Chaldean Church records show more than 600 arrivals in December 2010 alone, which exceeds the total arrivals for all of 2009.
The Oct. 31 attack began when Islamic militants with ties to al Qaeda took Sunday worshipers hostage. As police moved in, 58 people, including two priests, were killed. According to accounts of the carnage, a young child was killed when one of the attackers blew himself up inside the church. Over 100 more were wounded.
The latest arrivals are seeking asylum in Turkey and applying for formal refugee status in the hope of transfer to third countries, such as the United States, Canada and Australia. According to Father Gabriel, a Turkish Chaldean priest from the east of that country and now on sabbatical from his parish in Brussels to assist refugees in Istanbul, the resettlement process takes about two years.

Some of the injured in the October 31st assault found medical treatment and asylum in France. Jim Bitterman (CNN) reports, "They are part of a group of nearly 60 brought here in early November after a bloody massacre at their church in Baghdad. In that attack, believed to have been carried out by al Quaeda, 56 people died, including two auxiliary priests, and more than 70 were injured -- among them the parish priest of Our Lady of Salvation, Father Raphael Kuteimi." The International Organization for Migration provides [PDF format warning] an update on Iraqi Christians through January 31st. The report notes that Erbil has seen an increase in Internally Displaced People families. It explains, "Monitors in Baghdad report that Christians continue to face grave threats. Some Christians remaining in Baghdad rely on newly-created security checkpoints near their homes for protection, and church leaders are in contact with Iraqi security forces for assistance in protecting their communities. However, despite increased security measures an atmosphere of extreme insecurity persists among Christians remaining in Baghdad and many still intend to move or emigrate." And beyond temporary?
An increasing number of displaced Christian families intend to integrate into their current location. IOM monitoring teams in the field report that a clear majority of the displaced Christians in Erbil, Dahuk, and Sulaymaniyah governorates now plan to settle in their current location due to stable security environments and welcoming host communities. However, a far smaller number of the displaced Christians in Ninewa governorate expressed a desire to remain in their location of displacement. Monitors estimate that fewer 10% of the displaced in the Bashiqa district of Mosul intend to integrate locally.
While many displaced Christian families intend to locally integrate, monitors also report increasing Christian emigrations. IOM monitors only assess internally displaced persons, but monitoring teams have been told by community leaders of increasing Christian emigration to Turkey since November 2010, which is confirmed by colleagues in Turkey as well as recent media reports.
Turning to England where the Tenth Imperial War Museum Film Festival Awards were held in London. Richard Moss (Culture 24.org) reports, ". . . Iraqi filmmakers dominated the honours in the museum's Annual Film Festival Awards by grabbing two out of the three main prizes. Doctor Nabil (2007), a searing documentary recounting the experiences of a surgeon working in a busy and under-resourced Baghdad hospital, won the Audience Poll for the young Iraqi documentary maker Ahmed Jabbar. Best Documentary went to fellow Iraqi Emad Ali for A Candle for the Shabandar Cafe (2007). The film tells the story of a the favourite haunt of Baghdad's writers and intellectuals which was destroyed in March 2007 by a suicide bombing which ripped the heart out of the historic Al-Mutanabbi street book market killing 26 people."
I have seen and done things I want to forget
A Corporal whose nerves were shot
Climbing behind a fierce, gone sun
I seen flies swarming everyone
Soldiers fell like loads of meat
These are the words, the words are these
Death lingering, stunk
Flies swarming everyone
Over the whole summit peak
Flesh quivering in the heat.
This was something else again
I fear it cannot explain
The words that make, the words that make murder
What if I take my problem to the United Nations
What if I take my problem to the United Nations
What if I take my problem to the United Nations
-- "The Words That Maketh Murder," written by PJ Harvey, from her forthcoming album Let England Shake
The Status Of Forces Agreement was misunderstood by many (and many understood it but chose to lie about it). The SOFA is a treaty. It's not a valid one for the US because it didn't follow the Constitution. Joe Biden knows that and he and Barack were opposed to it . . . until the day after the election when that lovely campaign website scrubbed the objection. Suddenly, they were happy to have the War Criminal George W. Bush's treaty and damn the Constitution and damn Senate approval. Bush pushed it through and a Democratic administration ran with it. Meaning that a precedent has been established -- call it another facet of the unitary executive view -- and future presidents will likely resort to it for treaties that cannot pass the Senate. That's not a minor damage and it's one that future generations will have to deal with it.
Having noted the legal aspect, let's move to what it was. As we have always explained, all the SOFA did was replace the UN Security Council mandate. There was not UN resolution to allow for war. It is an illegal war of choice started by War Hawks in various countries. But after the war started, the UN Security Council did do a resolution which made it legal for forces to be on the ground. It was a yearly mandate. It was renewed near automatically each year. The first time the renewal was a big problem -- so much so that even the US press had to take note -- was near the end of 2006 when the new prime minister Nouri renewed it. The Parliament was enraged. They said they had to be informed and they had to approve. This is important to grasping the SOFA, pay attention if you're new to the topic. They were right on that per the country's Constitution. Nouri swore that if it was renewed again, he'd get their approval. He was so full of regrets. Never trust a word from Nouri. In 2007, the UN resolution was again due to expire. Did Nouri go to the Parliament?
No, Nouri signed off on it on his own. If the Parliament and the people were enraged in 2006, a new word needed to be created for what they felt as 2007 drew to a close and 2008 began. The UN mandate kept Iraq in receivership on many issues. It didn't have true control over monies and assets. For certain things (the tag sale) the US wanted, it was in the US interests to stop using the mandate. For Nouri to get his hands on more oil money (oil money from before the war began), he needed to get out of receivership as well. So it was in both the US government and Nouri's interest to drop the UN out of the equation and draw up an agreement just between the two countries. In doing so, the repeat objection was known and discussed. It was thought that Nouri couldn't keep going back yearly, it was hurting him politically. So they'd make it a three year contract (actually they were yearly options which could run three years). Whatever happened after the three years (end of 2011), they could deal with then but Nouri wouldn't have to go through the yearly signing and deal with the backlash. When the SOFA was in doubt (in terms of being signed, not in terms of legal) Joe Biden was very clear about what happened if the US didn't get the SOFA: US forces had to immediately leave. If the UN mandate wasn't renewed by Iraq and an agreement didn't replace it, then US forces could not legally be on Iraqi soil. Making the agreement a three-year arrangement spared Nouri a great deal of grief. Nouri promised the Parliament that, if they'd vote for it, it would go to the people for a vote. That vote was supposed to take place in July 2009. Guess what? Nouri's promise? He never kept it.
That's Nouri. The same Nouri who courted the US government during the political stalemate by assuring them that support for Nouri meant an extension of the SOFA. Did he mean it? With Nouri, one never knows. Where the US government is currently is hoping that Nouri will extend the SOFA before the end of this year. (The SOFA waited until Thanksgiving Day, some of the UN mandate renewals came as the year was closing.) So it may yet happen. But the US government has a back up plan. US forces (and contractors) remain in Iraq past the end of this year but they get around it by taking these forces from under the control of the Defense Dept and putting them under the State Dept. This has been reported, this has been discussed in open Senate hearings (including last week in Tuesday's Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing and in Thursday's Senate Armed Services Committee hearing). So when Adm Mike Mullen, Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, declares, "all troops out of Iraq" by the end of this year, he's being dishonest which is also known as lying.
This would be the weaponization of diplomacy. In England today, Oxfam issued the following release:

The UK government should learn from other countries' costly mistakes and resist the temptation to use the UK's internationally respected aid programme to pursue narrow military and security interests, Oxfam said today.

Whose Aid is it Anyway? a report published today by the international agency found that billions of pounds of international aid that could have transformed the lives of people in the poorest countries in the world has been spent on unsustainable, expensive and sometimes dangerous aid projects, as donor governments including the US, Canada and France have ignored international agreements and used aid to support their own short-term foreign policy and security objectives. Aid budgets have also been increasingly skewed towards Iraq and Afghanistan at the expense of equally severe conflicts and crises elsewhere.

Although the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan clearly increased the amount of aid the UK spent in those two countries, overall the UK has followed better practice than many other major donors.

There is a danger the UK will increasingly use aid to pursue foreign policy objectives, a move which would tarnish its reputation as a global leader on aid. During 2010, the coalition government has emphasised the need for greater integration of the work of the foreign office, ministry of defence and DFID, and has brought aid for priority countries under the scrutiny of the new National Security Council. There is also a requirement on DFID to show that UK aid overall is making the "maximum possible contribution to national security".

Kirsty Hughes, Oxfam Head of Policy, said: "British aid to fragile states is at a crossroads. Ministers have a choice between making every penny of British aid count for poor people or prioritising short-term security goals that risk leading to over-expensive, ineffective and often dangerous aid, while making little impact on security and stability."

Three reviews of aid, expected to report in the next two months, will be vital in determining the UK's path. A government-commissioned, independent review of UK humanitarian assistance in conflicts and natural disasters, led by Lord Ashdown, will assess the appropriate role of the military in humanitarian aid and two official reviews will determine the future of UK bilateral and multilateral aid.

Oxfam's report warns that 225 aid workers were killed, kidnapped or injured in attacks during 2010, compared to 85 in 2002. In part, this reflects the greater number of workers operating in violent places but a large part of the increase was due to a rise in politically motivated attacks. Aid workers' neutrality is compromised if local people see aid as a tool of the military.

Hughes said: "The stark lesson from the last decade is that politicising aid during conflicts does more harm than good. Ill-thought out 'politicised' projects alienate the very people whose 'hearts and minds' they seek to win. Blurring the role between civilian aid workers and the military turns aid workers and the communities in which they work into targets for attack."

Since 2001, more than 40% of the total increase in development aid from the OECD club of rich donors has gone to just two states, Afghanistan and Iraq, with the remainder shared out between around 150 other poor countries, the report found.

Standing at more than $1.5bn in 2010, aid funds used for short-term projects by US military commanders in Iraq and Afghanistan are now almost as large as the US' worldwide poverty-focused development assistance budget.

Lifesaving humanitarian aid for urgent needs amidst conflict has also been skewed. At best, humanitarian aid per head given annually to the Democratic Republic of Congo has been a twelfth of that spent in Iraq. This is despite the fact that thousands of civilians in the DRC die every year as a result of conflict and per capita income in the DRC is more than ten times lower than in Iraq.

In addition, 'War on terror'-led foreign policy in targeted countries has in some places made it harder for aid agencies to provide help to those who need it. New US and European anti-terror laws have prevented potentially lifesaving aid reaching areas controlled by proscribed groups.

Hughes said: "Britain should reinforce its reputation as a world leader on aid by ensuring that all UK aid is focussed on tackling poverty and meeting vulnerable people's needs. This would do more for Britain's standing in the world than choosing to use aid as a tool of foreign policy.

"Aid will only win hearts and minds when it is clearly distinct from military efforts and aimed at reducing poverty and suffering, rather than addressing the short-term security problems of donor governments."

Read the report: Whose Aid is it Anyway?

To arrange an interview, obtain a copy of the full report or for further information contact: Jon Slater on 01865 472249/ jslater@oxfam.org.uk or Rebecca Wynn 01865 472530/ 07769 304351/ rwynn@oxfam.org.uk

Though the issue gets little traction from the US Panhandle Media, the latest Guardian Focus podcast focused on it. Madeleine Bunting explained, "In recent years a disproportionate amount of aid has been swallowed in countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq alongside UK military operations. UK aid to Afghanistan alone is set to increase by forty percent over the next three years. I'm Madeleine Bunting and this week's Guardian Focus podcast examines what some call the securitization of aid -- the subordination of aid and development programs to defense and security objectives. And we ask: What is the role aid should play in a war zone?" With that she began a discussion with the Guardian's Jonathan Steele, the European Council on Foreign Relation's Daniel Korski, Oxfam's Mike Leis and War on Want's John Hilary. Excerpt:
John Hilary: I think it's wrong to suggest that the British intervention in Afghanistan has anything to do with development. It's been made quite clear by the government -- [Prime Minister] David Cameron in many of his speeches and also recently in the National Security Strategy -- that Britain's role in Afghanistan is drive by British interests of security and also of geo-strategic principle. It's not a humanitarian intervention a la Blair Doctrine or any of the ideas which have been dealt with over the last ten years. It's a military and strategic intervention. And from that follow all the other consequences. Particularly not for us around the politicization of aid because aid has always been political but around the militarization of aid. Not just the delivery of aid by military or joint-military and civilian teams, but also the use to militarize the Afghan state and that's become one of the characteristics of British and US interventions across the world. It's not just Afghanistan here. You look at Iraq. You look at occupied Palestinian territories where I was some months ago and spoke to the representatives of some European there. They were horrified at the level of militarization of the state. And that's becoming almost the leading theme for us -- build up a state, militarize it, make it stronger --
Madeleine Bunting: Can you explain how aid militarizes the state? And presumably in this instance you're talking about the Afghan state.
John Hilary: In Afghanistan, almost half of the aid given by the US government, for example, has gone to arming the police and building up the military. And so that formation of a highly militarized state with very over, excessively armed police officers with rocket propelled grenades and all of that, that's become a facet of life in terms of our interventions. Again, in Palestine, instead of building up a democratic system, you put all of your eggs in that one militarized basket. You try to build up the strong, excessively hyped state and that's your model for dealing with instability. And that whole stabilization agenda -- this is the whole thing which is sort of forwarding this -- the stabilization agenda is explicitly a militarized agenda not a development agenda.
More room would mean we'd include more. It was an important discussion. One key point in terms of the US, the State Dept and USAID are lumped together in budget and by Barack. In the US, some remember the wars continue. Daniel White (Maine Campus) writes:
In setting out to eradicate an enemy, the United States is creating more enemies.
These wars are happening and here we are at a university, safe and blissfully preoccupied with where our place in society will be. These wars are not a part of our daily awareness, so it is hard to feel connected to them. It is also hard to feel we can make a difference, even if we do oppose war. I am telling you it is worth the effort.
The powers that be prefer the public doesn't know what is going on because people cannot organize against something that is unknown to them. Knowledge is power and there is power in numbers. There is a growing movement on campus to gather strength and support to protest the injustice of these wars and the system that perpetuates them.
If you feel opposed to the wars as we do and want to be a part of something meaningful, please participate in the Maine Peace Action Committee on campus. What you do matters.
Also remembering the wars is the Jewish Daily Forward whose editorial board asks:
How can we forget those American Jews who have fought in these wars, and the 37 who have died? How can we ignore or minimize their sacrifice? Part of the answer lies in the complex attitude toward these wars, burdened as they are with faulty missions and uncertain outcomes. What are we hoping to accomplish in Afghanistan? Why did we invade Iraq in the first place? The imperative to defend Israel is clear and -- in the minds of some, holy -- while our wars just seem intractable.
Listen to the family members of the fallen, and those explanations become empty excuses. "I think people are surprised to learn that Jews serve in the military in America because people think that any Jew interested in serving in the military is going to serve in the IDF," says Beverly Wolfer-Nerenberg, whose brother, Stuart, was killed in Baghdad. "I think that people overlook the fact that Jews living in this country are patriotic and do have a sense of duty and gratitude and are grateful for what this country has given to us over the years."
The truth is, we overlook that fact in ourselves. In some of the painful interviews collected for this week's "Profiles of Our Fallen" feature, we heard from parents initially worried and embarrassed about their childrens' choice. Melinda Kane, whose son, Jeremy, died in Afghanistan, described "the stigma that a nice Jewish boy from Cherry Hill would want to go into the military. It was really unheard of and sadly I was afraid that people would judge my son for being a certain way that was not who he was."

Rick Hampson (USA Today via Cherry Hill Courier Post) wonders about the impacts in the US from the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars:
"Americans are used to being successful, and these wars have not been successes," says Mark Lytle, the historian who writes the most current chapters of the U.S. history textbook Nation of Nations. "It erodes the image that Americans are exceptional."
The wars have lasted almost a decade, cost hundreds of billions of dollars and claimed the lives of more than 5,000 U.S. servicemembers and tens of thousands of Iraqis and Afghans. The impact on the U.S. military, and military families, is obvious. What about people and places with no military connection?
Yesterday the US House Veterans Affairs Committee heard about JP Morgan Chase breaking the law and harassing veterans. We covered the hearing in yesterday's snapshot, Kat covered it in "Grading the new Chair of the House Veterans Affairs Committee," Wally covered it at Rebecca's site with "JP Morgan Chase's song and dance" and Ava covered it at Trina's site with "The crooks get away with it (Ava)." Stephanie Mudick is with JP Morgan Chase and was identified correctly in a paragraph but was wrongly called "Susan" in the transcript of her exchange with Ranking Member Bob Filner. I typed up the transcript and dictated the rest so it was my mistake (and I had "Susan" in my notes so I added a note to Kat, Wally and Ava's posts noting it was my error). My apologies for my mistake. (How was it right in the dictated portion? I was flipping through the various handouts including the prepared statements of the witnesses.)
We'll close with this from the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee:


(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee Chairman, Senator Patty Murray, released the following statement on the joint report from the Departments of Veterans Affairs and Housing and Urban Development's on veterans homelessness which was released today.

"I commend the Obama Administration for taking real steps to shine a light on a problem that has for too long been ignored. For too long homeless veterans have been forgotten heroes. But this report provides an important foundation to better understand who these veterans are, the nature of the problems they face, and how to develop solutions to address their needs. This is a critical piece of the Obama Administration's laudable effort to prevent and end homelessness among veterans.

"What this report shows is a stark and finally more accurate picture of this serious issue. It shows that the disabilities and mental health challenges facing many of our nation's veterans put many of them, particularly those living in poverty, at greater risk of homelessness. It also shows that current economic conditions and the influx of young veterans are putting many more of our veterans at risk of homelessness."

"What this report calls on all of us to do is clear - more. We need to build on the work we have begun. With the HUD-VASH program that I restarted in 2008 we have been able to provide vouchers and supportive services for those who have sacrificed for our nation but are now homeless. We need to continue this program that has proven its worth.

"But we also need to do more to prevent veteran homelessness before it starts. That means prevention programs like the pilot program I worked with my colleagues to create near some of our nation's military installations. Prevention also includes focusing on getting our veterans into stable employment. We need to help veterans translate the skills and expertise they learned on the battlefield into the skills needed in today's working world.


"We also need the Administration to continue to come together as they have with this report. If we are going to bring veterans off the streets and into steady housing and employment we need VA, HUD, and the Department of Labor to continue working together. I look forward to working with all of these agencies, as well as the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness to put forth innovative and effective solutions to get our veterans into safe, secure, and stable housing."

As Chairman of the Senate Housing Appropriations Committee and the Veterans' Affairs Committee, Senator Murray has initiated and passed into law critical help for homeless veterans including the
Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) program which provides housing vouchers and supportive services for homeless veterans and the Veterans Homelessness Prevention Demonstration (VHPD) program which provides housing, health and other supportive services at areas adjacent to military installations to help prevent homelessness. Both programs were cited by today's report as critical sources of help for homeless veterans.

Today's report shows that female veterans are twice as likely to be represented in the homeless population as they are to be the U.S. adult female population. Last Congress, Public Law 111-275, Veterans' Benefits Act of 2010, included provisions derived from legislation introduced by Chairman Murray which provides new support for
homeless women veterans reintegrating into the workforce.

Chairman Murray has also introduced
veterans jobs legislation that aims to reduce a rising unemployment rate among returning veterans.

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