Saturday, June 25, 2011

3 men, 3 women

Friday on The Diane Rehm Show's first hour, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Greg Ip and Nia-Malika Henderson were the guests. The second hour was Michael Hirsh, Nancy A. Youssef and Mark Landler. The guest host was Katty Kay which may be why the show managed 3 men and 3 women.

Now for something that really matters. Rebecca and I have been on the phone comparing Stevie Nicks' stories that we're finding (she's in England and getting a lot of foreign press). Be sure to check out Rebecca's site because she's going to post a whole mix of Stevie articles. I'm choosing two links myself. Gulf News carries an article on her:

Stevie Nicks is in a hurry. One of the world's great front-women — and the face of Fleetwood Mac since joining with then-boyfriend Lindsey Buckingham back in 1975 — she is in London to promote a new solo album.

And, as she juggles her solo career with the ongoing resurrection of Fleetwood Mac, the Arizona-born singer, 63, knows time is of the essence.

"Once you turn 60, you can't hang around," she says. "When we finished the Fleetwood Mac Unleashed Tour in 2009, I told the band I was going to make a solo record. I wanted to do it as quickly as I could — it took a year — and then go back to them.

"I'm not sure whether we'll tour or make a new album, but we'll do something. In ten years, we'll all be over 70. We might not feel like an 83-date tour then, so we've got to act quickly."

Bedecked in her trademark jewels and a flowing black dress, Nicks is in fine form. Talking about her new album, In Your Dreams, she regularly bursts into song. Her voice, instantly recognisable, is still striking. Here is one singer in no need of Auto-Tune.

The record itself, her first solo effort in a decade, is well-crafted and melodic. Recorded in her Los Angeles home, it was produced by Dave Stewart, of Eurythmics, and Glen Ballard, who co-wrote Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill.

Veering between guitar-driven rock and beautiful, contemplative balladry, it features her most inspired songwriting since the golden years of Fleetwood Mac, when she penned hits such as Rhiannon, Landslide and Dreams.

Already a top-ten album in her homeland, Nicks is keen to spread the word. "After my last album, people told me I shouldn't bother making another one," she says. "They said internet pirates would steal it online and hurt my feelings. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't try. I'm not doing this because I need the money. But, if I can still do it, it makes it easier for the other little girls."

And Contact Music has a great quote from Stevie: "From Janis [Joplin] I learned that to make it as a female musician in a man's world is gonna be tough and you need to keep your head held high."


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

Friday, June 24, 2011. Chaos and violence continue, Katty Kay confesses the education system failed her, more reactions to Barack's bad speech, Scott Horton and Patrick Cockburn talk Iraq, Iraq War veteran Aaron Hughes talks about the disconnect ("And when service members get home and they realize that there's no one in this entire country that understands that and understands what they've gone through and wants to listen to them, when the media is continually talking about American Idol or some other pop issue instead of dealing with the actual issues -- that we are conducting two occupations currently, that we are conducting operations in Pakistan, that we are conducting operations in Libya and Yemen. We have service members on the ground in all of these countries and those service members are experiencing things and they are doing it as they believe on behalf of their country and their country doesn't even know it. The country doesn't even know what we do. And then we get home. And then there's nothing. There's no way to connect that. And that disconnect, that's the crime and that's the PTSD. That's-that's all of the trauma right there -- is the inability to understand what happened and why no one else understands."), Iraqis take to the street to protest, and more.

Kevin Pina: What has he offered? What has President Obama put on the table in his speech yesterday?
Gareth Porter: I'm afraid my analysis is not a very optimistic one in the sense that I'm afraid he's offering a scam which is very similar to that that he's undertaken in Iraq. And I say that because what he did in his speech if you really carefully read through it, there's a passage that really demands parsing in light of the Iraq experience -- where he talks about the "responsible withdrawal" from Afghanistan being similar to what we did in Iraq. By that, he's talking about essentially, you know, once he's withdrawn the full increment of the so-called "surge" troops, that is the 33,000 that he added as a result of a decision in 2009 -- in December 2009 --
Kevin Pina: Subsequent to George Bush's committments -- troop committments.
Gareth Porter: Well that's right. I mean, first of all, he put in an increment that the Bush administration had already agreed on, he kind of taking up the burden of the Bush administration, that is in March 2009. But then in Decemeber 2009 came the big 33,000 increment which now he's talking about withdrawing that by the end of 2012 -- sorry, not the end of 2012 but September 2012, excuse me. And that is not everything that the military and the Pentagon wanted but I calculate that it's about 80% of what they asked for. [ . . .] My concern is beyond 2012. He's completely, without any details going to manuever. What he's going to do about Afghanistan once the surge troops have been removed. And what he has said is that it will be, like I said, it will be like Iraq. There will be a responsible withdrawal. He says there'll be some withdrawal after 2012.
Kevin Pina: And a larger role for contractors?
Gareth Porter: He doesn't talk about that but we know that there are contractors in Afghanistan. But look, there's -- The big problem here is that what he's talking about is the potential for a perpetual war in Afghanistan. He's really conceeded to the military the idea that even beyond 2013 -- 2013 -- the United States will continue to have combat troops there. Now he's being very vague in terms of what the policy is going to be like afterr 2013. But it's clear if you look at what happened in Iraq that this is what's going to happen.
Dana Milbank (Washington Post) heard echoes of George W. Bush's "MISSION ACCOMPLISHED" and also questioned the veracity of the claims Barack made:
"Drawdown from a position of strength" sounds eerily like the "return on success" phrase that George W. Bush used in Iraq -- and the similarities did not end there. "We take comfort in knowing that the tide of war is receding," Obama told the nation. "We have ended our combat mission in Iraq, with 100,000 American troops already out of that country. And even as there will be dark days ahead in Afghanistan, the light of a secure peace can be seen in the distance."
To be sure, the president was characteristically muted in his celebration, warning of "huge challenges" ahead. His staff was rather less restrained; speaking under the cloak of anonymity, his aides held a teleconference Wednesday afternoon with audible chest thumping. "We haven't seen a terrorist threat emanating from Afghanistan for the past seven or eight years," one boasted, finding "no indication that there is any effort within Afghanistan to use Afghanistan as a launching pad to carry out attacks. . . . The threat has come from Pakistan over the past half-dozen years or so, and longer."
So if there hasn't been a terrorist threat coming from Afghanistan for seven or eight years, why did Obama send tens of thousands of additional troops into a conflict that has claimed more than 1,500 American lives? And why is he leaving most of them there?
Ah yes, those glorious days of "unity" -- when no one, save a brave few, dared stand up against the war hysteria. When anyone who looked vaguely Muslim was attacked in the streets. United in hatred and fear -- what a grotesque nostalgia for our "progressive" president to give voice to! Like his predecessor, Obama has often praised this mystic post-9/11"unity," including twice in this speech, and therein lies the mark of the tyrant, who always welcomes the unthinking submission to authority wartime brings.
This war-narrative is getting threadbare, however, and has some significant gaps: suddenly, we are told that, seemingly out of nowhere, "our focus shifted," and "a second war was launched" – apparently all by itself, by means of spontaneous combustion. One hardly expects him to mention of the key role played by his own party, which stood by and cowered -- or cheered -- as George W. Bush led the nation down into the quagmire, banners flying. But the distancing act -- "by the time I took office" – is a little too glib: Bush gets all the blame for Iraq, and the decision to escalate the Afghan war is pushed off on "our military commanders." But isn't Obama the commander-in-chief?
Our president, a prisoner of history, bravely confronts circumstances shaped by others. He praises himself for making "one of the most difficult decisions I've made as President," the launching of the "surge" in which 30,000 more troops were sent to the supposedly neglected Afghan front. "We set clear objectives," he avers, and yet our ultimate goal was -- and still is -- obscured in murk: does anyone, including the President, know what victory looks like?

And in what may be the first editorial board of a daily newspaper since Barack's speech earlier this week to call for an immediate withdrawal from Afghanistan, the Santa Fe New Mexican offers "Light? What Light? Bring 'em All Home"

The president couldn't have chosen worse words Wednesday as a framework for announcing a minimal troop withdrawal from Afghanistan: "The light of a secure peace can be seen in the distance."
Shades of Lyndon Johnson, linked forever to the "light at the end of the tunnel" he sought to show a press and public increasingly and properly wary of our war in Vietnam. That war, fought on behalf of a corrupt regime with our military's hands tied, would go on for another half-dozen years after Johnson's public-relations campaign on behalf of futility and 60,000 American deaths before we abandoned the place amid chaos.
Let's move on over to Iraq and let's start by noting The Diane Rehm Show (NPR). When Diane ignores Iraq on her Friday 'round up' of pretend stories and non-issue, it's disgusting because she knows better, she knows when the US is at war, it is the job of the US press to cover it. But Diane, for all her faults, was not a War Whore. Katty Kay was. The trash from England -- who forever thinks she's about to step into a time machine and be transported back to the 90s where she can Chris Matthews can cackle as they trash Hillary Clinton (Katty's always jumping at the bit to trash Hillary to this day) -- shouldn't be allowed on NPR to begin with. Truly, the media needed to get accountable after selling the illegal war on Iraq. Accountability would mean two-bit whores like Katty Kay weren't put back on the airwaves.
Of course if that happened, we wouldn't realize just what a stupid imbecile Katty Kay is.
There was Katty, in the second hour, avoiding Iraq even when National Journal's Michael Hirsh managed to work it in for one sentence. Katty quickly changed the subject. At the end of the show, Katty found there was time to fill. So she launched into China -- where no US forces are on the ground. Maybe Brit's shouldn't host American programs that the US government pays for if they're so stupid that they really think that after the violence in Iraq this week, China was the way to go?
But there was Katty, wanting to talk abot Syria and proving she's the stupidst and sorriest excuse for a journalist today.
KATTY: How nervous are people, Nancy? I mean, not just in Syria, of course, but in all . . . I mean -- uh, how many countries does Syria border? I can't count them, but it's right there in the middle of that area. And it's causing -- the ripples of what is happening in Syria are being uh watched very carefully from Israel --
Nancy A. Youssef: That's right!
KATTY: -- from Lebanon, of course, from Turkey, from Iran. They must all be watching what's going on there.
Do they not teach geography in England?
She doesn't know what borders Syria but managed to cheerlead the impending Iraq War?
Iran does not border Syria. Iraq, howevver, does. What a stupid moron. She wants to talk about Syria but doesn't know the countries around it. In 2002 and 2003, you couldn't escape Katty insisting that the US must go to war with Iraq. And today she doesn't even know that Iraq borders Syria. (And that Iran doesn't.)
NPR can't deal with Iraq these days and not just Diane's bad show, but all of NPR -- forty dead in four Baghdad bombings yesterday and not one damn story on any of their three major "news magazines" NPR airs daily. That's putting the Crock in the Joan B. Kroc Fellowship. Iraq does get discussed elsewhere, it can be done. On Antiwar Radio, Scott Horton spoke with journalist Patrick Cockburn about Iraq.

Scott Horton: My first question, if it's alright, is going to be about the sujbect of your book there, Moqtada al-Sadr, and the future of Iraq and whether or not that includes the American occupation after the end of this year which is the deadline for withdrawal in the Status Of Forces Agreement. I'm sure you're aware that the Secretary of Defense and others in the administration have made it pretty clear that they want Malki to "invite us" to stay longer. I just wonder, of course, you've always told me on this show is that Moqtada al-Sadr is the answer to that question. Is that still the case and is his position still the same?
Patrick Cockburn: If US troops remain then this is not going to be without opposition -- particularly from Moqtada, from the Sadrists. So, you know, up to now the assumption has been that they would not stay. I don't think they've quite taken on board that having some troops -- depending on how many troops -- stay, having troops remain and trying to be some sort of player in Iraq you know is going to create a reaction in the opposite direction.
Scott Horton: Well so I mean as far as the oversimplified math of it goes, is it still a matter of Maliki, the prime minister, needs Moqtada al-Sadr's support and Sadr will not support him if he makes this compromise and therefore he will not? Is it that easy?
Patrick Cockburn: No, everything in Iraq is sort of complicated because everybody has the ability to checkmate everybody else. I mean Maliki got back in because ultimately the Sadrists backed him. He got support from the US and -- excuse me [coughs] -- he got support from Iran. Somebody, an Iraqi leader, said to me, you know it's a lucky Maliki, you know, he's got support from the Great Satan -- which the Iranians call the US. And he got support from the Axis of Evil -- which is what the US calls Iran. Now he needed Moqtada to get back. He needed various other people to get back. He did deals. Now is he going to drop everybody say now he's back in and return to what made him so unpopular previously and try and sort of set up an autocracy. We don't know. He keeps sort of ducking and diving. But I don't think having a continued US presence is going to stabilize Iraq.
The Youth of Iraq continue attempting to save their country with protests demanding the basic rights owed alll human beings. Today's protests were called "Firm Roots Friday." The Great Iraqi Revolution notes, "Our Correspondent in Baghdad: Streams of crowds approaching Tahrir amidst pressures and hurdles imposed by heavily deployed security forces around the Squar while the crowds chant 'THEY ARE ALL THIEVES!'" Here for video of the Baghdad protesters chanting "'Jethab Nourie Al Maliki' (Nourie Al Maliki is a Liar)!!!" And they note:
A witness in Tahrir stated to GIR that the streets leading to Tahrir have been cutoff at some distance from Tahrir - he also stated that the police questioned him about his camera and was told by a soldier that journalists should get permission from them before entering Tahrir! He was cursed and insulted by them and so were all journalists!
Youngman Haider Hamzouz: I was harassed in Tahrir, today by Police, Army and some individuals in plain clothes... after they had insulted me ; there was an attempt to beat me up by a soldier and was forced to delete some of the videos I had shot of ambulances passing through Tahrir.. I was questioned for 45 minutes close to Tahrir..I am well now... but the Press isn't...It is in Danger.
Meanwhile Tony Clarke is a member of the House of Lords in England (he's Labour Party, for those who wonder) and he's penned "Obama must tackle Iraq's new dictator" (Independent of London):

Few could have expected it. Iraq's Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, once the darling of bi-Partisan US administrations, today seems engulfed in domestic upheaval as the Arab Spring has shown no sign of abating in Iraq.
But rather than choosing to resign power respectfully like in Tunisia and Egypt, al-Maliki seems to have made up his mind to hold a firm grip on power using deadly force like fellow dictators in Libya and Syria.
No longer able to tolerate the weekly demonstrations by Iraqis in central Baghdad's al-Tahrir Square, and with widespread arrests failing to subdue the population irate over corruption and lack of basic services, earlier this month al-Maliki sent his thugs under the disguise of ordinary government supporters to brutally attack protestors demanding the resignation of his government.
Iyad Allawi, a former Iraqi Prime Minister and the de-facto leader of the opposition movement, recently launched a stunning televised attack on al-Maliki accusing him of running a new dictatorship in Iraq and owing his Premiership to Iran's theocratic rulers.

Will the cry for Barack to face reality get larger? Will Nouri continue to be the designated thug of the occupation?

Al Mada reports
that Nouri spent yesterday blaming others for his problems including insisting that politicians and the media worked together to malign his 100 Days and that the 100 Days program he implemented was a success. As per usual, Moqtada al-Sadr issues statements of support for Nouri. He did the same when protests were really taking hold last February. Moqtada al-Sadr has apparently cast himself in the role of First Lady of Iraq.


Al Mada also offers a profile of Ayad Allawi based on anonymous sourcing and it paints him as depressed, considering ending political participation, weighing whether to make London home, etc. He is said to be depressed over the continued upheaval in Iraq and Nouri's inability to lead. Al Rafidayn reports on another political player in the mix, Ammar al-Hakim. The Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq president is calling for all participants to continue dialogue and he cautioned against reaching the "point of no return." In related news, Aswat al-Iraq reports, "The head of the National Alliance Ibraheem al-Jaffari discussed today with Vice-Premier Saleh al-Mutlaq the most prominent question in the Iraqi arena and means of providing the best of services to the citizens. H called for an end to the dilemma with the security ministries and dialogue to bring viewpoints closer for national interests."
Reuters notes a Baijia home invasion resulted in the murder of 1 police officer and his wife and a children's doctor was kidnapped in Kirkuk today. Aswat al Iraq notes 1 police officer was shot dead in Baghdad and 1 clothing store owners was shot dead in Mosul.
In the US, an Iraq War veteran is in legal trouble. He is 26-year-old Elisha Leo Dawkins. Susannah Nesmith (New York Times) reports Elisha has been "in federal lockup" for a month with the government planning to deport him because of a passport application and his apparently not being a citizen. His attorney explains that Elisha was raised in this country and led to believe he was a citizen. He was never informed he wasn't. The US military considered him a US citizen and gave him a very high security clearance. The State Dept issued him a passport. Kyle Munzenrieder (Miami New Times) adds, "Dawkins applied for a passport in order to serve in Guantánamo. A question on the form asked if he'd ever applied for a passport before. He checked no. That wasn't entirely true. He had begun an application for a passport before deploying to Iraq but never finished the process. That single check on a box is why he now sits behind bars." Carol Rosenberg (Miami Herald) explains, " His lawyer says he grew up fatherless and estranged from his mother, staying with relatives in Miami, believing he was a U.S. citizen. He even obtained a Florida Birth Certificate to get a passport to travel to war as a soldier, with neither the Navy, the Army nor the state of Florida apparently aware of a two-decade-old immigration service removal order issued when he was 8 years old."

He joined the military, the US sent him into war. That should be the end of the story, he should be considered a citizen if he wasn't before. But that's not how the policies work. What actually is required is for him to apply for citizenship. And now that he knows he's not a citizen, he could apply but a conviction -- yes, a conviction on what he's being charged with -- would mean that he would be barred from becoming a citizen.

If anyone in the government really valued the service those being sent to war zones are doing, this wouldn't be happening. Barack Obama should be ashamed that his administration is prosecuting this case.

And he should be ashamed because as much as Elisha deserves to stay in the US and have citizenship, so do many others and Barack's done nothing on that issue despite a lot of pretty words in 2008 about citizenship for immigrants. Elisha's attorney might want to explore whether Elisha has PTSD. If he does, I don't understand how the US government could legally deport him and believe they would have to provide treatment immediately as well as drop deportation efforts.
Earlier this month, Aaron Hughes and other members of Iraq Veterans Against the War -- Malachi Muncy, Scott Kimball, and Sergio K -- appeared on KOOP's Rag Radio which airs each Friday in Austin (airwaves) and online (live from two p.m. Central time to three). This week, IVAW has posted the audio to the hour long discussion. We'll do an excerpt where they were discussing PTSD.
Aaron Hughes: 60% of the service members that are veterans of these occupations that have applied to the VA -- which is only a quarter of the service members that have served in Iraq and Afghanistan -- that's only a quarter of the service members serving in Iraq and Afghanistan -- of that quarter, 60% of them are diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Thorne Dreyer: Now what do we mean by Post Traumatic Stress Disorder? I mean, back in the old days of war, we talked about people being shell-shocked.
Aaron Hughes: Yeah.
Thorne Dreyer: What -- As a clinical diagnosis, what are we talking about?
Aaron Hughes: Well the diagnosis changed. In the Civil War, it was Soldier's Heart. In WWI, it was Shell-Shock. And in WWII, it was Battle Fatigue. And in Vietnam, it was Combat Stress. And now -- now it's called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. They syllables keep getting longer as George Carlin pointed out in a comedy sketch. But basically, it's -- it's everything from nightmares to anxiety, to depression, to anger issues. And they can be subtle. Like these-these issues, I think, you know for me, I was home in 2004 but it wasn't until 2006 that I realized I was dealing with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder when I had a basically a psychotic break. I lost it. And that was triggered by listening to 50 cal. rounds in a audio tape going off. And I -- I just disappeared emotionally and psychologically. But, you know, I think -- I think what a lot of service members don't realize is how deep these issues and how much they're underneath the surface. And that's why a lot of service members, they may even volunteer to go back on a third deployment like Malachi did and he can talk to you a little bit about that. But before he does, I just -- I just want to point out that the percentages go up every time somebody goes on a deployment. And these brothers that are going -- brothers and sisters -- that are going on their third, fourth and fifth deployment, some of them are never going to come home.
Thorne Dreyer: Malachi -- and you guys, when you signed up, you weren't signing up for -- you weren't expecting to be going back and back and back. I mean, that wasn't part of the deal. Tell us about that and tell us about your multiple deployments.
Malachi Muncy: Yeah-yeah. I actually volunteered for my second deployment. You know, I had a really, really rough first deployment. My wife had tried to kill herself and I didn't get to go home for that. My mother has another psychotic break and was institutionalized. My father died while I was deployed. I did get to go home for that. And on top of that, 36 hour missions and roadside explosives like you said and uhm -- So it was a really rought deployment. I didn't really get to take in everything, I couldn't compute everything. And so when I came home, I was cut loose pretty quick -- cut loose to being a civilian -- civilian-soldier, you know, National Guard. And, uh, got in trouble with the law for shoplifting. I was taking a lot of methamphetimes and anything that could get me up and going, driving fast, doing all sorts of crazy adreneline stuff and I ended up trying to commit suicide in October of 2005. And -- and after that event, I came to the conclusion that I needed -- I either needed help or I needed to get back to Iraq because all these problems weren't in Iraq, these problems were here at home. And so I volunteered to go back and they took me back and it wasn't a big deal to them that I had tried to kill myself. It wasn't a big deal to them that I had pointed a weapon at an NCO on my first deployment. They didn't have any problem with where I was mentally so long as I took specific meds and there was no oversight as to whether or not I took those meds. It was just, 'Here we have on this piece of paper that you're taking those meds. Good to go."
Thorne Dreyer: Is transitioning back one of the real problems because they don't -- they don't -- they prepare you to kill but they don't prepare you to, you know what I mean, let go of that stuff? Right?
Aaron Hughes: This is Aaron again. I would -- I would argue that it's not so much the transition home as it is the disconnect. This country isn't at war. The service members are at war. And when service members get home and they realize that there's no one in this entire country that understands that and understands what they've gone through and wants to listen to them, when the media is continually talking about American Idol or some other pop issue instead of dealing with the actual issues -- that we are conducting two occupations currently, that we are conducting operations in Pakistan, that we are conducting operations in Libya and Yemen. We have service members on the ground in all of these countries and those service members are experiencing things and they are doing it as they believe on behalf of their country and their country doesn't even know it. The country doesn't even know what we do. And then we get home. And then there's nothing. There's no way to connect that. And that disconnect, that's the crime and that's the PTSD. That's-that's all of the trauma right there -- is the inability to understand what happened and why no one else understands. In fact, that's actually the definition of trauma: It's an experience that you haven't processed and therefore you can't communicate it. You keep rewinding it in your head. You keep trying to relive it over and over and over again which is why you have nightmares, why you have dreams, why you have anxiety. But you can't because you never actually experienced it the first time. And when you get home, there's no one that's experienced these wars. And that's -- that's where the trauma exists.
Each Monday morning (except during pledge drives), the latest Law and Disorder Radio airs on WBAI and around the country on various radio stations throughout the week. Attorneys Heidi Boghosian, Michael S. Smith and Michael Ratner (Center for Constitutional Rights are the co-hosts of the program. On this week's program, Michael Ratner spoke with former FBI agent and now an attorney Mike German about the war on dissent in this country. Michael Ratner has teamed with Margaret Ratner Kunstler for the new book Hell No, Your Right To Dissent. And until it's August 9th release by the New Press, you can read the column that Michael Ratner and Margaret Ratner Kunstler have written (The Progressive) about the current war on protest and dissent in the US. Excerpt:
President Obama campaigned on protecting our civil liberties, so you might have expected his attorney general, Eric Holder, to provide people with greater protections from FBI snoops. But he has not. And it is about to get even worse.
The new Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide will empower the FBI to dispatch surveillance teams, to follow targets, to dig through trash, to search commercial databases and to expand the use of informants to infiltrate a wide range of organizations.
If you are part of a group that disagrees with government policy in Iraq or Afghanistan, or that dislikes nuclear energy, the next time you throw out your trash, an FBI agent may be examining it a few hours later -- from what you eat to what you buy to what you read and think.
The next time you attend a meeting to fight for better schools, protest drug testing on animals or criticize almost any aspect of government policy, the person next to you may be an informant, recording everything you say. Or perhaps the informant will participate in the meeting, steering the organization's activities in ways the government wishes.
It is now almost ten years after 9/11, the event that frightened many into giving the FBI broad spying authority -- authority that now threatens the very essence of democracy. Piece by piece, the constitutional protections for dissent are disappearing.


Thursday, June 23, 2011

6 men, no women

The Diane Rehm Show? On the first hour, they discussed genetics. And that's just too complicated for women, apparently. So all the guests were men: John Paul Wright, Arthur Caplan, John Laub, Benson George Cooke and John Butler. The second hour of NPR's bad, bad show? Peter Hartshorn.

I was asked what TV show I watch regularly?

Only one. Adam vs. The Man. I find him very interesting.

And tonight at Trina's site, Jess is announcing he's leaving the Green Party. For obvious reasons (they've become a pathetic party). I told him I would join him and note it here. I've been a Green my whole adult life. And I'm a 'desired' member because I'm Black. The Green's do a lot of posturing about civil rights but they don't have a lot of Black members.

Not only am I walking but I'm going to endorse. For the primaries, I'm voting in the GOP one and voting for Ron Paul. He's the only one I trust on the wars. Jess told me I could announce that he was as well. This is for the primaries. I don't know who'll be running in the general. If Ron Paul gets the nomination, he'll likely be running in the general. If so, I'll most likely be voting for him. So this go round, Ron Paul's got at least two new votes, me and Jess. And I doubt we're the only new voters he's grabbing.

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


Thursday, June 23, 2011. Chaos and violence continue, Baghdad is slammed with bombings, Nouri wants to stop the Electoral Commission, Nouri wants to complain about Parliament, Osama al-Nujaifi meets with the White House, a US civilian dies in Iraq today, the War Hawk Barack's bad speech, talks between the US and Iraq on the US military staying continue, and more.
Last night US President Barack Obama gave a speech. (We covered the speech in yesterday's snapshot.) The reaction outside of the Cult of St. Barack has not been pretty.
Jason Ditz (Antiwar.com) observes, "On the ground in Afghanistan, however, it doesn't seem like a drawdown, and the troops aren't expecting any major change. Rather, they are expecting long deployings and a long occupation in an already decade-old war." Speaking this morning on The Takeaway, John Hockenberry shared, "I guess what escapes me from the speech last night is a real strategy. I mean, people may call it a strategy, but I don't see a strategy here." Yesterday on the Pacifica Evening News (KPFA and KPFK), anchor John Hamliton discussed Barack's speech with Phyllis Bennis. Excerpt:

John Hamilton: We've just heard the president promise troop reductions by the fall of 2012. interestingly, just in time for elections. Of course, we should remember that the much ballyhooed surge of 30,000 troops that Obama ordered into the country in December of 2009 was actually the second major increase in troop levels. On taking office, he immediately ordered an increase of 17,000 soldiers. With that in mind is it fair to call this the beginning of the end of the Afghanistan War?

Phyllis Bennis: No, it made clear that the continuation of a huge number of US troops, NATO troops and US-paid mercenaries is going to continue for an indefinite period. This announcement of what amounts to a really token withdrawal leaves in place a huge component of the current 250,000 US and allied military forces. This is not going to change that. The fact that 33 [33,000 by September 2012] out of 250,000 military forces are going to be pulled out in the course of a year and a half is hardly the beginning of an end.

John Hamilton: And of course, in the past when we've seen troops removed from Afghanistan, we've often seen them a concurrent escalation in the number of contractors sometimes by a ratio of 2:1 or even higher --

Phyllis Bennis: It's very unlikely we're going to see that now. Most [audio goes out . . .] Already 100,000 private contractors in Afghanistan. I don't know that they can even absorb significantly more than that.

John Hamilton: Well Phyllis Bennis, as the old song goes, "One-two-three-four, what are we fighting for?" In the case of Afghanistan, that remains a difficult question to answer.

Phyllis Bennis: It remains a very difficult question and what we're seeing is that there is no strategy that's been determined here. There's no definition of a military victory. The announcement had been made at the very moment just after President Obama had first been inaugurated, when he first sent 21,000 additional troops to Afghanistan, he said, 'We're going to send these troops and then we'll decide on a strategy.' Rather backwards logic but nonetheless what didn't happen was any decision about a strategy. We've heard lots of discussions about counter-insurgency versus counter-terrorism, boots on the ground versus small groups but none of that has been a real strategy for what everybody agrees will never be a military solution to this conflict in Afghanistan but will have to have political solutions. That political solution remains as far away tonight as it has ever been.
Noting some other reactions, US Senator Patty Murray, Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee:
"Tonight President Obama took a step in the right direction by outlining a drawdown of American troops from Afghanistan over the coming year. I have called for a sizeable and sustainable drawdown because I believe the human, economic and military resources we are spending in Afghanistan are unsustainable. The President's announcement is a step forward, but I will continue to push the President to bring this war to a close and redeploy troops out of Afghanistan while providing the support they and their families deserve.
"Our brave men and women in uniform have done everything we've asked of them -- including finding Osama Bin Laden. But we need to make sure our military operations are targeted to meet the threats of today.
"Our terrorist enemies are not bound by lines on a map. Leaving tens of thousands of troops in Afghanistan is not the best use of our resources --especially as we work to tackle our debt and deficit. It's time to redeploy, rebuild our military and refocus on the broader war on terror. I was glad to see President Obama take a step in that direction today.
"But as Chairman of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, I know that the costs don't end when our men and women leave the battlefield -- for so many troops and their caregivers, that is just the beginning. This must be a consideration for the President and our entire nation whenever we make strategic military decisions. I will continue to push to make sure our veterans and military families are one of the foremost concerns during this drawdown and that they get the care they need and deserve."
US Senator Bernie Sanders's office issued a statement as well:
This country has a $14.5 trillion national debt, in part owing to two wars that have not been paid for. We have been at war in Afghanistan for the last 10 years and paid a high price both in terms of casualties and national treasure. This year alone, we will spend about $100 billion on that war. In my view, it is time for the people of Afghanistan to take full responsibility for waging the war against the Taliban.

While we cannot withdraw all of our troops immediately, we must bring them home as soon as possible. I appreciate the president's announcement, but I believe that the withdrawal should occur at significantly faster speed and greater scope.

Senator Tom Harkin's statement notes thanks to those who have and are serving in the Afghanistan War, the death of Osama bin Laden and the disruption of the Taliban before noting that a real withdrawal is needed:
We cannot justify the continued loss of life when we have already lost thousands of men and women in our military, including 71 Iowans since 9/11; we also can't sustain the nearly $10 billion we are spending each month in Afghanistan this year.
The President is taking the right action in redeploying troops from Afghanistan, but as I and several other senators urged him earlier this month, there should be more troops coming home sooner.
Not all senators had something worth saying. At the Senate Foreign Relations hearing this morning, for example, Senator Barbara Boxer (one of my two senators) made a point, while questioning Hillary Clinton to giggle -- yes, giggle -- about Afghanistan. If she thinks death and dying is funny, she ought to check out her eye make up in a hand mirror, that should really have her howling. Having giggled, she then declared that her role, as a US senator, "we have to be humble if we don't agree." I'm sorry, I missed that 'humble' attitude when Bush was in the White House. Barbara Boxer's a fool and her tired and embarrasing self needs to be out of the Senate.
From the Senate to the House, US House Rep Mike Honda's office has sent out this statement from theh Congressional Caucus Peace and Security Taskforce (which he co-chairs with Barbara Lee and Lynn Woolsey) and from the Congressional Progressive Caucus (which he co-chairs with Raul Grijalva):
The Co-Chairs of the Congressional Progressive Caucus Peace and Security Taskforce call on Congress and the President to immediately end our war in Libya. The US has been engaged in hostilities for over 90 days without congressional approval, which undermines not only the powers of the legislative branch but also the legal checks and balances put in place nearly 40 years ago to avoid abuse by any single branch of government.
We call on our colleagues in Congress to exercise their legitimate authority and oversight and immediately block any funding for this war. Before the Executive branch further weakens the War Powers Resolution, and before we attack another country in the name of our "responsibility to protect," we must recommit ourselves to our Constitutional duty and obligation to hold the purse strings and the right to declare war. For decades, the House recognized the need for appropriate checks and balances before another war was waged. We must do the same.
We call on Congress to exhibit similar foresight by promptly ending this war and pledging to uphold the laws that characterize America's commitment to democratic governance.
US House Rep and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi issued a statement which included, "It has been the hope of many in Congress and across the country that the full drawdown of U.S. forces would happen sooner than the President laid out -- and we will continue to press for a better outcome." In 2004, when everyone was taken in by Barack, Matthew Rothschild (The Progressive) saw through that hideous DNC speech. He should have been primed, in 2008, to see through more nonsense. He missed all that but does regain his footing with a firm critique of yesterday's speech which includes:
The president's rhetoric, overall, was hideous. "The tide of war is receding," he said, and he repeated the "tide" metaphor a little later on. But war is not a fact of nature, like an ocean. It is a rash act of rulers.
Obama all but claimed to be clairvoyant, saying, "The light of a secure peace can be seen in the distance." I'm not sure what telescope he's using, but I wouldn't rely on that, either in Iraq or in Afghanistan.
Then, when he decided to draw the lessons of Iraq and Afghanistan, Obama fed the American superiority complex. "We must embrace America's singular role in the course of human events," he said. He told us not to succumb to isolationism -- a spiel that echoed George W. Bush. The only difference was that Obama stressed the need to be "pragmatic" about the way the United States responds, arguing that often "we need not deploy large armies overseas" or act alone.
While Barack 'saw' progress, reality has begged to differ. Tom Engelhardt (CounterPunch): "Here's the funny thing though: a report on Afghan reconstruction recently released by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee's Democratic majority staff suggests that the military and foreign "developmental funds that have poured into the country, and which account for 97% of its gross domestic product, have played a major role in encouraging corruption. To find a peacetime equivalent, imagine firemen rushing to a blaze only to pour gasoline on it and then last out at the building's dwellers as arsonists."
I'm sorry that I don't have time for lengthy statements and am editing down some of the releases sent. This is from the national Libertarian Party:
WASHINGTON - Libertarian Party Chair Mark Hinkle responded to President Obama's June 22 speech with the following comments today:
"President Obama's speech was disappointing, but not surprising. The withdrawals he announced are painfully inadequate. Obama's withdrawals, even if they are carried out as he described, will still leave about 70,000 American troops in Afghanistan, probably for years to come. The president is commander-in-chief of the military. He has the power to end the war now, and withdraw all American troops, and that's what he should do.
"The U.S. has no business fighting a war in Afghanistan. Nearly three years ago, our Libertarian National Committee adopted a resolution calling for the withdrawal of our armed forces from Afghanistan. We are saddened and angry that there are now more troops there than ever.
"Obama talked about 'ending the war responsibly.' I think the word 'responsibly' is a weaselly escape hatch in case Obama doesn't want to withdraw more troops later. He will just say, 'That would be irresponsible -- I need to keep the war going strong.'
"This war causes the Afghan people to justifiably feel a greater hatred toward America. It makes American taxpayers poorer. And it emboldens other would-be aggressors, who can point to American intervention in Afghanistan whenever they feel like doing the same elsewhere.
"There are two big winners from the continuation of this war: Our military-industrial complex, which seems to have the president in its back pocket, and the Afghan government, which continues to enjoy tremendous benefits at the expense of the American taxpayer.
"If anything, Republican reactions to the president's speech were even more ridiculous than the speech itself. Republican Senator John McCain fretted that this withdrawal was not 'modest' enough. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, feeling the need to criticize Obama despite the fact that they basically agree on everything, complained of an 'arbitrary timetable.' Republican House Speaker John Boehner worried about losing our 'gains' in Afghanistan. All these comments show an inability to comprehend an intelligent, modest foreign policy, as well as a serious lack of respect for American taxpayers."
Though the Green Party didn't e-mail a statement, I did check to see if they had one. As has been the case so frequently since Bush departed the White House, when the Green Party should have been speaking out, they elected to be silent. Their silence is duly noted and if they're not a real political party, it's not my job to note or cover their candidate for president in 2012. For more on the nonsense of the Green Party, please visit Trina's site tonight for a guest post. In this community, Elaine weighed in on the speech with "The lousy speech" and Stan weighed in with "That awful speech." The most amazing thing about today was to watch who whored. Among the saddest was Tom Hayden who keeps insisting this is a 'victory' for the peace movement. At some point, you really need to consider seeking help. Truly. The thing that should have been done today was to take Barack's 'promises' on Afghainstan and put them through the Iraq prism. For example, in 2014, Barack 'promised' last night, all US troops will be out of Afghanistan. And that lie should have cause reflection on the Iraq War. Barack said 16 months and 16 months came and went. He didn't keep that promise. He swore all US troops would be out of Iraq in his first term. And yet the White House is attempting to extend the SOFA and to also keep US troops in Iraq by moving them from Defense Dept to State Dept.
Instead of whoring like Tom Hayden did, real leaders would have been stepping up and saying, "He told America ___ last night and yet when you look at his promises on Iraq versus what he has actually done . . ." We don't have a lot of real leaders. We've got a lot of liars. We've got a lot of cowards. And we saw that today as so many tried to spin this into good news. What it felt like to me? It felt like the moment the peace movement knew they couldn't trust LBJ -- that no lie or spin or promise out of his mouth would secure the votes needed for re-election. Ameen Izzadeen (Daily Mirror) weighs in:
Righting the wrong is part of civilized behaviour. But it is not known whether the Nobel committee believes in this norm. If it does, it should request United States President Barack Obama to return the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize and the prize money.
The call to strip Obama of his Nobel peace prize is as old as the decision to award him the prize. At that time, the president, just eight-month in office, had hardly proved his peace credentials except for rhetoric. But the committee in its defence said Obama's speeches had revived the hope for peace in a conflict-ridden world. It cited Obama's "extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples".
Far from being so, in retrospect, it appears that the committee has only given a veneer of legitimacy to the United States' wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Moreover it has given a licence to the Obama administration to launch wars in Libya and if necessary in other places where the US interests are in jeopardy or where resources, especially oil, gas and minerals, make US capitalists salivate.
When Obama decided to join the war on Libya in March this year, Bolivia's socialists President Evo Morales asked: "How is it possible that a Nobel Peace Prize winner leads a gang to attack and invade? This is not a defence of human rights or self-determination."
Morales was right, the decision to attack Libya was taken well before the peaceful means of conflict resolution were fully exhausted.
A US civilian died in Iraq today as Baghdad was slammed with multiple bombings. Ned Parker (Los Angeles Times) counts three bombs and 33 dead. Posting just a little later, Rebecca Santana and Saad Abdul-Kadir (AP) count 40 dead and 4 bombs. They state that, before seven at night, three bombs went off in one southwestern neighborhood and, an hour later, a fourth one went off in the same neighborhood. Tim Arango (New York Times) quotes Dr. Mustafa Saoih stating, "Everyone was screaming and crying and everyone was covered in blood." Mu Xuequan (Xinhua) adds, "The blasts also damaged some civilian vehicles and shops nearby. Windows of adjacent houses were blown out and shards of flesh and blood could be seen at the scene, the source said." AFP states that three bombs were packed in "shopping carts" and that the location was a local market. Rawya Rageh filed a (video) report for Al Jazeera:
Rawya Rageh: Three explosions took place roughly around 7:00 pm time here, in a crowded market using three carts, shopping carts -- wooden carts that are often used here to haul around merchandise in markets in Baghdad. The three carts were placed at the entrance of the market -- two of those -- and one at the heart of the market. The market was quite crowded actually. This is Thursday evening preceding the Muslim weekend here.
Rageh counts over one hundred injured. Suadad al-Salhy (Reuters) quotes local teenager Sijad stating, "I was on my way to the market when the first bomb blew up. People ran to see what was going on and the second one blew up. Suddenly there were bodies everywhere around me, most of them women and children, and their things were scattered everywhere." Ned Parker quotes survivor Ahmed Dandar stating, "I was drinking juice from a shop together with some of my friends when the first explosion happened. It was near mosque as worshippers were entering. We saw a ball of fire and people started to run."
Though the biggest attack in Baghdad, it was not the only attack in Baghdad or Iraq. The US State Dept's Victoria Nuland issued the following statement this afternoon:
The United States condemns a terrorist attack in Baghdad today that claimed the life of international development and finance expert Dr. Stephen Everhart and wounded three others. Dr. Everhart was an American citizen who was working in Iraq for an implementing partner of the United States Agency for International Development's Mission in Iraq. He was killed while working on a project to introduce a new business curriculum to a Baghdad university in a program supported by the Iraqi Ministry of Higher Education. His support of efforts to advance a modern and efficient financial sector has benefited the people and business enterprises of Iraq and his lifelong dedication to public service has improved the lives of countless people around the world.
We are saddened by this tragedy and extend our thoughts and prayers to Dr. Everhart's family and loved ones, and to the three other injured victims and their families.
In addition, Reuters notes a Mosul roadside bombing claimed the lives of 2 Iraqi security forces, 1 person was shot outside his Mosul home, a Kirkuk sticky bombing injured one person and an al-Zab flashlight bombing injured an Iraqi soldier.
Today Al Sabaah reports that a "tentative deal" has been reached on keeping US soldiers ("a limited number") in Iraq beyond 2011 according to an unnamed "senior" US source. This was addressed, according to the source, by President Jalal Talabani and US Ambassador to Iraq James Jeffrey and would cover only the US military forces being shoved under the State Dept umbrella. As addressed here many times before, they would still have the same duties. But they would be under the State Dept and not the Defense Dept. Their presence would be covered by the Strategic Framework Agreement and would not need an extension of the SOFA or a new treaty. The article notes that Jeffrey is also meeting with MPs to press for an extension of the SOFA. If that's confusing, the State Dept umbrella is choice 2. The preferred choice of the White House is an extension of the SOFA. But either way, US forces are not leaving Iraq.

On the preferred choice, Hossam Acommok (Al Mada) reports that a member of Parliament's Committee on Defense and Security has told the paper that "lack of readiness" on the part of Iraqi forces will be used to explain the SOFA being extended. The article cites numerous press reports (Arabic press, the US press has ignored these reports) on the talks and secret meetings that have taken place over extending the US military's stay in Iraq. The Dialogue Front is said to be a firm supporter of extending the US military presence while Ayad Allawi (leader of Iraqiya) is said to be playing it close to the vest and insisting he must have answers from DC before he makes a decision. The article runs through the other players. (As noted here before, the Kurdish officials want the US military to stay.)

While these discussions continue (some say a deal has already been reached on extending the SOFA), Alsumaria TV reports, "Basra provincial council voted on a decision to prevent US Forces from entering the province, Al Sadr Front's Ahrar Bloc said on Wednesday. Basra provincial council called to withdraw US Forces from Basra International Airport and affirmed that the council's decision stipulates compensating damaged citizens from US military operations." Meanwhile Walter Pincus (Washington Post) speaks with US Lt Gen Frank G. Helmick. I trust Pincus, I don't trust a word from Helmick. He's either out of the loop or he's lying. Not only is he wrong about forces (and that may be intentional -- the article may be directed towards Iraqi politicians, an attempt to force them to make a move), he's wrong about discussions and his comments regarding Iraq's airspace and radar, while accurate, conflict with something that happened in Iraq yesterday. I was begged to note and I said we don't include Operation Happy Talk. I'm surprised other outlets didn't notice it. But Iraq and air and the US had a little announcement yesterday. It was pure spin but that's never stopped the press from running with it before and since the US military was pimping that story, it's difficult to grasp why a general wouldn't also be promoting it to Pincus.

The Iraqi political scene is one of stalemate and foot dragging. A story that best telegraphs that? Al Mada reports reports that journalists were not allowed access to the day's hearing due to the fact that a dog was 'out sick.' (Actually, the contract with the security company had expired.) The dog detects bombs. Dar Addustour covers the story here.

This morning the Iraqi press is full of reports that Ayad Allawi is not ill -- Al Mada here, Dar Addustour here and Alsumaria TV are only three examples. Dar Addustour not only notes the denial that Allawi is ill but also quotes Iraqiya insisting the rumors are attempts to disempower Iraqiya and to disrupt life on the Iraq street -- to discredit the political slate in the eyes of the people. Dar Addustour also notes that State Of Law has already broken an agreement to cease attacks in the press (see yesterday's snapshot for more on that).

Nouri attempts another power grab in the meantime. Al Rafidayn reports that Nouri has ordered the Electoral Commission to leave the Kurdistan region and walk out on UNHCR. The Electoral Commission has said no and responds that only Parliament has the authority to stop UNHCR work. Nouri has repeatedly attempt to gut the rights of the Parliament and he's making another attempt today. Aswat al-Iraq reports that Nouri "has criticized on Thursday the process of legislating the laws by the Parliament, saying that 'they had been slow and weak,' demanding putting a time ceiling for the legislation of laws." That's really something. Nouri criticizing others as being slow? That's really something. On the day when Iraq sees non-stop violence and multiple deaths, Nouri criticizes the Parliament as slow -- the same Nouri who was supposed to appoint a Minister of Defense, a Minister of the Interiror and a Minister of National Security back in November when he was made prime minister-desigante. It's June now, getting close to July, and he's still failed at that basic duty. Someone who cannot make appointments doesn't need to be prime minister. And maybe he won't be. There are rumors that he's on the outs with the Iranian govenment (which is eyeing another Shi'ite) and his relationship with the US government is currently strained. If both backers dump him, another prime minister may emerge. Possibly with the last name Hakeem. Ahlul Bayt News Agency reports that Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council leader Ammar al-Hakeem delivered a speech yesterday to SIIC's Cultural Forum stressing the need for all political blocs to continue conversations.
Still on Iraqi politicians, one was in DC yesterday. The White House issued the following yesterday:


Vice President Biden met today with Iraqi Council of Representatives Speaker Osama al-Nujaifi. The Vice President praised the Speaker's stewardship of Iraq's legislature and offered continued support for the development of Iraq's democratic institutions, including a national partnership government. The Vice President also thanked the Speaker for his work to secure approval for a $400 million compensation package for American victims of the Saddam Hussein regime. The Vice President and the Speaker discussed our shared interest in an enduring partnership between the United States and Iraq, across a range of sectors, under the Strategic Framework Agreement.

Despite the fact that al-Nujaifi made public and clear before he left Iraq that he intended to press the White House on the missing $17 billion, the White House statement made no mention of it. Briefly, money (Iraqi money) from the oil-for-food program is missing. How much can not be determined as yet due to the refusal of the Federal Reserve to share information with the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) which the US Congress mandated to provide oversight in Iraq. Aswat al-Iraq quotes from Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi's statement:


"Nujeify has conferred during his current visit to the United States, with U.S.
Vice-President, Joe Biden, demanding him to "open an official investigation about the fate of Iraqi Fund, estimated at US$17.5 billions (b), withdrawn from Iraq's Development Fund in 2003-2004 and after that, without the appearance of any documents showing the reason for the withdrawal," the statement said, adding that Nujeify "had asked the United States to help in achieving that mission."
He said that "there are efforts, exerted by the financial observation bodies in both Iraq and the United States, to gather information and uncover the details of the said issue."

al-Nujaifi's statments were carried by the Iraqi press and throughout the Arabic press. They were also covered by many US outlets. AP offers this morning, "But US officials trying to trace the funds say the Iraqi government is not cooperating and has so far not allowed them access to bank records they need to determine whether any of the money was misused." The editorial board of Gulf News observes, "The US had a duty to safeguard this cash and not being able to answer to the Iraqis is simply unacceptable. It is hoped that a serious investigation is started so Iraq can recover its money."


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

7 men, 5 women

First off, this is from Cindy Sheehan's "Protesting vs. Local Revolution:"

I would say that I belong to the classification of “protester.”

For the last seven years I have protested war, violence, injustice and economic oppression all over the world. I have been arrested about 17 times and I even ran for Congress in 2008 against a warmonger. I have camped and had camps from Crawford, Texas to Washington, DC during the current and previous US regimes. I have protested with a few people to several hundred thousands. Is there peace, yet?

No, and why? Even though I have been a mega-protester for the last seven years, I have met people who have been doing this for the last seven decades and have been arrested dozens of times. The only thing that has changed from all this protest is that the US is in more wars and killing more people than since WWII. Our enemies have changed also: the US used to fight countries, since the Cold War we have been fighting ideologies. What a brilliant move by the war establishment! Besides our alleged “enemies,” who is anti-freedom, anti-democracy, anti-“The American Way?” It’s a cynical, yet effective move to keep this One Nation Under Surveillance in perpetual war for perpetual profit.


Diane Rehm Show (NPR) today? First hour: David Ignatius, David Barno and Phyllis Bennis. Second hour: author Eva Gabrielsson.

Tuesday? First hour: E.J. Dionne, Wendy Weiser, Kris Kobach and Hans Von Spakovsky. Second hour: David Blight, Thavolia Glymph, Adam Goodheart and Chandra Manning.

That's 5 women and 7 men.

I blogged last night. I didn't post. I'm sorry. I saw that this morning and posted it.

I also believe I'm up on replying to all the questions on Facebook. If I missed your question, please let me know because I tried to answer all.

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

Wednesday, June 22, 2011. Chaos and violence continue, Barack continues to lie with pretty words the press sucks up, it's time to combat his war lies and not just on Iraq, State of Law has already broken the pledge they made this week, more officials are targeted in Iraq (and a mayor is killed), we note the US Army suicide data for the month of May, Troy Yocum continues hiking to raise awareness of veterans issues, and more.
On the latest Law and Disorder Radio (began airing Monday on WBAI and around the country on various radio stations throughout the week), co-host Michael Ratner (Center for Constitutional Rights) noted a bill which made it through the House and now faces the Senate.
Michael Ratner: On Law and Disorder, we've often brought you up to date news on Guantanamo, the so-called war on terror, military commissions -- all that goes with Guantanamo, torture, indefinite detention -- what I would like to call "The Guantanamo Syndrome" or "The American Operation Condor." If you remember, Operation Condor was when Chilean dictator Pinochet went around the world picking up people, torturing them, murdering them and jailing them. We have our own. Let's call it The Guantanamo Syndrome. Right now as we speak, there's a new national authorization defense act going through our wonderful Congress. It's passed the House, it's now in the Senate. This is the yearly bill that basically funds the empire's wars all over the world. And it's always like a Christmas tree and people put in some of the worst provisions you can imagine. And they're continuing to put in more and more ways of expanding The Guantanamo Syndrome. And the main one is one that we've talked about before in a different context or a different statute but it's now about to be amended. People may not recall but the statute that began the War in Afghanistan was called the Authorization to Use Military Force -- the AUMF. It's a very broad statue. It allowed the president on his own to attack any nation-state, person, individual, whatever anywhere in the world who was in any way involved with 9-11 -- peripherally, in any way at all. But it was linked to 9-11. And it's a terrible statute because that's what the president -- whether it was Bush or Obama -- is now using to go after not just Afghanistan, but to go after Pakistan, to go after Yemen. The AUMF is an awful statute as currently written because the president is using that not just for the War in Afghanistan, which it was originally written for, but the war in Pakistan, the war in Yemen, probably war in North Africa, detention of people he can pick up anywhere in the world, etc. So it's an awful statute. As broad as it is, and as bad as it is and as much authority as it gives the president to make war anywhere in the world without going back to Congress, without going to the American people, it's about to get worse. The House of Representatives just made it worse and the question is whether the Senate will continue with leaving it in the statute as it is. As I said, the old AMUF allowed attacks on any nation-state, etc., involved in 9-11, anywhere in the world. This one takes out any link with 9-11. It essentially says that anyone who's a threat to the United States, involved in an act of terrorism, whether in the US or abroad, can be subject to an attack by the president -- military attack and detention. So it takes out any link with 9-11 essentially broadening the so-called War on Terror even more than President Bush had done. Now it's interesting. The Obama administration says this is unnecessary and I wouldn't say that they're dead against it, but they'd rather not have it in there. And it's not that they're being so wonderful about this. It's just that they're already going way beyond the current AMUF in attacking anybody in the world. So they're essentially saying, "Don't put it in writing and make a red flag out of it, let's keep it away." So they're expanding war powers. So if you look at the American empire as one that is now sustained by war, some 771 military bases plus the power in one person -- the president -- to attack anywhere in the world, you're talking about an empire that's built on tanks, aircraft carriers and the Pentagon and war. And it's not going to be any good going forward. If there's any characteristic of this empire that seems out there and up front right now, it's that this is an empire of war. The National Defense Authorization Act also has some special provisions about Guantanamo. I won't go through all the details but basically we've already said on this show, Guantanamo is becoming a permanent aspect of the detention system in this world or in this country. It's open now forever, it seems. there's laws that say you can't bring people to the US for trial. There's preventative detentions and military commissions. This National Authorization Detention Act -- hard to believe -- but makes those provisions even worse. It now says that any non-citizen held by the US military -- any non U.S. citizen held by the US military in a foreign country cannot be brought to the United States. Not just people in Guantanamo can't be brought here but people in any foreign country. So if someone's picked up -- as they have been in the past -- for like bombing the USS Cole or something -- they can no longer be brought to the United States for trial even though the Cole people were brought to the US for trial -- or at least some of them. That means they have to be tried in the so-called military commissions or rum trials, trials that are completely no good for anything. A pretty amazing bill basically saying "No more Constitutional courts, let's just try these people in some court we set up somewhere in the world." Very, very bad provision. It also says that any non-US citizen in the United States who's involved in a terrorist attack cannot be tried in a regular US federal court but must be tried in a military commission. So there you go. If you thought we were moving towards fascism in this country -- at least certain aspects of it -- there we see it -- open and notorious. Perhaps we'll be lucky and these three provisions that I've talked about -- the broadening of the war, the prohibition on bringing anybody from any foreign country to the United States for trial, and the prohibition on trying any alleged US terrorists non-citizen in the United States in a regular court -- we're hopeful that those three provisions won't pass. But they've passed the House already and it's not clear to me that they won't go through the Senate. So it's not getting better, it's getting worse and worse and worse.
Michael Ratner hosts Law and Disorder Radio with Heidi Boghosian (National Lawyers Guild) and Michael S. Smith (both organizations) -- three attorneys. Michael S. Smith has a website and I'll try to put it on the links when the heavens open up and gift me with time. Until then, click here.
US President Barack Obama has a speech tonight. The snapshot won't go up until after his speech is done. Throughout the snapshot we'll be noting various voices on what's going on in the US in terms of war -- Iraq and others. Today, before the speech, Senator Patty Murray spoke on the Senate floor. Murray is also the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee. Her office notes:
Watch Senator Murray's speech here (Senator Murray begins at 2:09:35).
(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) spoke on the Senate floor to discuss her views on the need for a sizable and sustained troop drawdown in Afghanistan, and to outline her concerns over the unseen human costs of war. During the speech, Murray, who chairs the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, highlighted specific costs of the conflict to our men and women in uniform and called on her colleagues in Congress and the President to consider these costs when making decisions about the global fight against terrorism.
Key excerpts from Senator Murray's speech:
"Last week, I joined with a bipartisan group of my Senate colleagues on a letter to the President urging him to begin a sizable and sustained reduction in troop levels
-- and I hope he takes the opportunity to do that tonight.
"But Mr. President, with all of the talk about troop levels -- I want to make sure that we remember that this isn't just about numbers -- it'd about real people, with real families.
"Mr. President -- far too many of our servicemembers have sacrificed life and limb overseas -- and we must honor them and their sacrifices by making sure we take care of them and their caregivers not just today, and not just when they come home, but for a lifetime.
###

Evan Miller

Specialty Media Director

U.S. Senator Patty Murray

202-224-2834

The snapshot will end with Senator Murray's remarks in full.
NPR gave live coverage to the speech and the reason for the live All Things Considered coverage was apparently to propagandize. It's past time for NPR to lose its government funding. Doing so might force it to be honest. Rachel Scott pretended everyone would be pleased with what Barack was offer because . . . -- well because nothing happened. Since NPR's 'analysis' is always the US government line, maybe they need to stick to reporting -- something Rachel Scott and Scott Horsley also mispractice but are semi-trained in at least.
Barack created false choices and straw men. The end result of all his pretty words? 10,000 US troops will leave Afghanistan by the end of the year. That won't even remove the service members he sent in (30,000) in his so-called "surge." It's disgusting.
He loved to intone "responsible end" when there was nothing responsible about the Afghanistan War -- at the start or currently. Nor was there anything responsible about the Iraq War then or now.
His speech was a failure on every level. He declared, "In Afghanistan, we've inflicted serious losses on the Taliban and taken a number of its strongholds." So we're going to go with "kills" to declare a win? Not my way, but okay, let's go with "kills." If you're going to boast about kills, you better have something worth boasting about and "we've inflicted serious losses" is nothing. Not 1 year into a war, certainly not ten years in. Those who measure by kills know that the war is a bit of a joke on that level since the fighters in Afghanistan (various fighters) fighting the US can blend in and disappear so easily and so readily. the US has done little damage to the fighters (despite racheting up a huge number of civilian "kills"). To hear a fancy pants with manicured nails talk about "kills" is, in itself, a study in contrasts. It only becomes more absurd when you realize that outside of the Whole Foods Set, no one would be impressed with the "kills" Barack was so proud of. It's not my system of measurement but it's the one he elected to use and it was a very weak measurement.
President Barack Obama: Fewer of our sons and daughters are serving in harm's way. We have ended our combat mission in Iraq, with 100,000 American troops already out of that country. And even as there will be dark days ahead in Afghanistan, the light of a secure peace can be seen in the distance. These long wars will come to a responsible end.
He has not ended combat missions in Iraq anymore than Bush created a "MISSION ACCOMPLISHED." Both liars think they can bully the public into believing them if they just repeat a lie over and over. 9 US soldiers have died in Iraq so far this month. And they died in combat as Barack should know unless he's too busy golfing to get any briefings.
He declared, "We have learned anew the profound cost of war -- a cost that has been paid by the nearly 4,500 Americans who have given their lives in Iraq, and the over 1,500 who have done so in Afghanistan -- men and women who will not live to enjoy the freedom that they defended." Poor, little, unprepared tyke, he can't even tell you -- in a speech written by others -- in a speech he read off two teleprompters -- the number of US military deaths in the Iraq War. Forget the jounalism outlets that keep their own counts (AP and AFP), the Pentagon keeps a count, the Defense Dept. The number is 4466. (1623 deaths in the Afghanistan War, FYI). Along with 4466, there are other important numbers he refused to note. 45 is the number of US soldiers who've died since Barack declared "combat operations" over (and accomplished?). Today Reuters reports that US forces and Iraqi forces conducted a Kirkuk raid in which they captured 2 al Qaeda members. Sounds like a combat mission. 237 is another important number.
237 is the number of US service members who have died in the Iraq War since Barack Obama -- the peace candidate -- was sworn in as president. (233 on June 6th, four more have died since then for a total of 237.)
To hear him lie that freedom was defended in Iraq was among his more outrageous claims. The Iraq War was based on lies. The Iraq War has also seen religious minorities targeted in Iraq, the LGBT community targeted, women targeted, and much more. There is no freedom in Iraq as Nouri's constant attack on peaceful protesters demonstrates.
Leaving the speech (but this does counter the claims Barack put forward), British citizen Emma Stone was an advisor to US Gen Ray Odierno when Odierno was the top US commander in Iraq. She returns to Iraq for a visit and writes about it at Foreign Policy:
Sitting in the back of the car wearing abaya and hijab, I drive south toward Karbala with two young Iraqi Army guys, both from Baghdad and Shiite. In the national elections last year, one voted for Nouri al-Maliki to be prime minister; the other voted for Ayad Allawi as he wanted a secular man to lead Iraq. They both agree that life was better under Saddam Hussein -- that there was more security before, people could travel anywhere safely, gas was cheaper, salaries went further, there was no "Sunni-Shiite." They tell me that people are very upset with public services, especially electricity, but are too scared to demonstrate. No one likes living under occupation, but people are also worried that the situation might deteriorate if the Americans leave. They both stress that Jaish al-Mahdi is not the right way.
We drive for an hour southward. We pass numerous checkpoints. No one checks my papers. I am the invisible woman in Islamic dress. It is late, so the roads are not busy. Finally, we turn off the main road, down a track, through an orchard, and arrive at a house on the banks of the Euphrates where I meet up with my Iraqi friend, and he introduces me to his companions, male and female. Talbes are arranged, and big trays of food emerge from the house. Fatoush salad. Maqluba - -chicken and rice. We stuff our faces. I sit in a swing chair, chatting with my friend, who talks about his experiences of working with the U.S. military. They have big hearts he tells me, but they are naive. They don't know how to do contracting. They spent lots of money, but so much was wasted. They did not know who was good and who was bad. Many projects were not implemented well. Others were not sustainable. The Brits last century left us with railways, roads, and bridges. What have the Americans left us?
Today Al Mada reports that Parliament's Integrity Commission has officially notified the United Nations in writing that they would like their assistance in finding out what has happened to the $17 billion they saw was lost in reconstruction funds (the money is Iraqi money from the oil-for-food program). The article reminds that the Development Fund was set up by the UN and overseen by L. Paul Bremer's Coalition Provisional Authority. In another article, Al Mada quotes Integrity Committee member Jawad Alshahyla stating that the $17 billion is a preliminary number and it may increase as a result of additional information. He also states that prior to contacting the UN, they had notified Nouri al-Maliki's office and the Ministry of Finance. Dar Addustour notes that the original figure -- provided by the US -- was $6 billion and says that it's urgent the money is found -- possibly due to the fact that Iraq's 2012 budget has a shortfall of at least $12 billion dollars (they budgeted close to $100 billion for 2012 and are set to be short at least $12 billion). Last week, Paul Richter (Los Angeles Times) reported that $6 billion was missing in food-for-oil money that was supposed to have been used for reconstruction. Mu Xuequan (mu) points out that even if the money did end up stolen, "the CPA issued an order granting immunity to the U.S. personnel and institutions working in Iraq after the 2003 invasion."
Sunday Al Jazeera reported (link has text and video), "Osama al-Nujaifi, the Iraqi parliament speaker, has told Al Jazeera that the amount of Iraqi money unaccounted for by the US is $18.7bn - three times more than the reported $6.6bn. Just before departing for a visit to the US, al-Nujaifi said that he has received a report this week based on information from US and Iraqi auditors that the amount of money withdrawn from a fund from Iraqi oil proceeds, but unaccounted for, is much more than the $6.6bn reported missing last week." AFP notes Osama al-Nujaifi intends to raise the issue while visting DC this week. AP notes al-Nujaifi has a meeting schelued with US Vice President Joe Biden today. Eamon Javers (CNBC) adds, "The New York Fed is refusing to tell investigators how many billions of dollars it shipped to Iraq during the early days of the US invasion there, the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction told CNBC Tuesday. The Fed's lack of disclosure is making it difficult for the inspector general to follow the paper trail of billions of dollars that went missing in the chaotic rush to finance the Iraq occupation, and to determine how much of that money was stolen." Jason Ditz (Antiwar.com) explains, "The Federal Reserve claims that since the account was from the Oil for Food account the SIGR is not entitled to know anything about the account. Fed officials said they would continue to cooperate in the investigation, without disclosing what appears to be the only useful information they might have."
Violence continues in Iraq today. Fattah Mahmood (CNN) counts 5 roadside bombings in Baghdad today alone. Reuters notes a Mosul mortar attack claimed 1 life and left another person injured, 1 police officer shot dead in Mosul, a Mosul roadside bombing claimed 1 life and left two more people injured, a Mosul hand grenade attack injured four people, a Baghdad car bombing claimed 1 life and left nine more people injured, that 18 people were wounded in 5 Baghdad roadside bombings and a Baghdad sticky bombing targeted "a state bank official" (who was not injured). Reuters adds a Baquba sticky bombing claimed 1 life, a Diwaniya rocket attaack left five people injured, 1 employee with the Ministry of Communications was kidnapped in Kirkuk, a Baghdad sticky bombing claimed the life of 1 person and the Mayor of Gatoon in Baquba was shot dead.
On the US wars and the one overseeing them, Glen Ford (Black Agenda Report) observes:

Former supporters of Barack Obama, a class that, sadly, includes most of what passes for a Left in the United States, are disturbed, angry, shocked and appalled at his refusal to comply with the War Powers Act by denying that there is a war. In fact, they encouraged President Obama to pretend that there is no war, when they pretended that candidate Obama was not your average, garden variety, center-right Democratic imperialist, despite all the evidence to the contrary.

These Left Obamites held demonstrations against wars in general, without mentioning the name of the War-Maker-in-Chief – denial on a mass lunatic scale. So, why shouldn't Obama take the logic of the pretend anti-war folks to its logical conclusion, and simply pretend not to be waging war on Libya?

The following is not for pretenders:

The United National Anti-War Committee is calling for thousands to say "No to the US/NATO War on Libya," on June 27 in New York's Times Square. Former Georgia congresswoman Cynthia McKinney and others will report to Harlem on June 25 in the first stop of a national "Eyewitness Libya" tour. A coalition of groups is organizing a Harlem Millions March protesting the attack on Africa, for August 13, at which Nation of Islam Min. Louis Farrakhan will be a speaker. The Black Is Back Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations has called for a day of action on August 20 against the "Other Wars" waged by the United States against people of color abroad and at home.


If you thought the government or 'government' in Baghdad was focused on governing and improving the lives of Iraqis, you are mistaken. Not only are the basic needs of the people (electricity, potable water, jobs, etc.) not being addressed, but Iraq lacks security ministers -- with at least one MP claiming the Iraqi military doesn't have needed equipment or fire arms because the country still has no Minister of the Defense. (Nor do they have a Minister of National Security or a Minister of the Interior.)

What do they have time?

Hoshyar Zebari has time to play footsie with the Iranian government.

Iran's Fars News Agency reports, "Iraq's Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said his country is in talks with Tehran to decide a future for the terrorist Mojahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO)." The PMOI is approximately 3,000 dissidents from Iran, Marxists, who left their country and came to Iraq following the fall of the Shah. It's interesting that Big Boy Hoshyar is in Iran talking about 3,000 Iranians confined to Camp Ashraf while Kurdish Hoshyar is damn well aware that Kurdish separatists have set up base camp in the mountains of northern Iraq and that they bomb and attack Turkey from that base. It's so very strange that Hoshyar wants to grand-stand on claims of 'addressing' terrorism when he's done nothing to stop them. In fact, grandstanding on the issue of Camp Ashraf not only allows him to cozy up to the Iranian government, it allows him to present a we-will-not-tolerate-terrorists pose. That's a pose that the mountains of northern Iraq -- and reality -- might reject.

While Iraqi's starve for food, Hoshyar shows in Tehran looking as if he's been hoarding and eating months of food rations intended for the Iraqi people. Check out the photo Press TV runs with the story on Hoshyar insisting that Camp Ashraf will close at the end of the year and all the residents will have to find new countries to live in. The Tehran Times adds, "Zebari also said the Iraqi government will spare no effort to help free Iranians being imprisoned in Iraq."
And progress on the political front? Dropping back to yesterday's snapshot:

Al Rafidayn offers that the meeting put an end to squabbles between Allawi and Nouri being played out in the media. That seems doubtful and not just because Allawi's very adept at manipulating the media (Nouri's a clumsy ox but he does have many flunkies he dispatches regularly). How can such an agreement be finalized when one of the two parties in the two party squabble is present? Hisham Rikabi (Al Mada) notes a majority present agreed to end to the media campaigns but, again, how can such an agreement honestly be made when one of the two parties engaging in the campaign is not present? Rikabi notes Talabani, Nouri, Ammar al-Hakim and Adel Abdul Mahdi were among those present while Saleh al-Mutlaq was the most prominent member of Iraqiya present.

And that was yesterday. Today the 'agreement' has already fallen apart. Al Mada reports Nouri's State Of Law is again attacking Allawi's Iraqiya to the media as they pin the "crisis" in Iraq on Iraqiya and state that the political slate is what has prevented Nouri from filling the security ministries. It didn't even last a 24-hour news cycle and that does not bode well for the second meeting Talabni's been promoting.

Returning to the War Hawk, Barack claims that the War Powers Act does not apply to his Libyan War insisting that no troops on the ground means nah-nah-nah-I-do-what-I-want. Black Agenda Radio is an hour long radio program airing Mondays at 4:00 pm EST on the Progressive Radio Network and hosted by Glen Ford and Nellie Bailey. The most recent broadcast devoted the hour to the many wars being conducted by the US government. On the claim that the Libyan War isn't a war, attorney Bruce Fein had this to say.
Bruce Fein: Well it's a rather paradoxical statement because if it's not war then the United States is committing murder in Libya. War is what makes what is customary criminal homicide legal. So if we're not engaged in war, we're engaged in murder which may be even worse. Moreover, it's a nonsensical statement. Even Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said that if another country launched a single Tomahawk missile against the United States, we would be at war.
Bruce Fein is a Constitutional Law and International Law attorney who chairs the American Freedom Agenda. Frances A. Boyle is an International Law expert and professor of law. He was also on the program.
Frances A. Boyle: Speaker of the House Boehner said that that argument doesn't even pass the straight-face test. In other words, without breaking out laughing. I read the report that Obama sent to Congress. It's just an insult. There's one paragraph in there dealing with the legal explanation and that's all it says: We're -- these really aren't hostilities. There's no legal argument, justification, nothing.
Glen Ford: The president has sent out his apologists from the White House who further elaborate on the position that he put forward and say that it's not a war because there aren't any troops on the ground.
Frances A. Boyle: Well it doesn't matter because the War Powers Resolution is triggered by the word hostilities -- and of any type. And there's also another provision saying anytime we are armed in the airspace of another state, the War Powers Resolution gets triggered. So there are two grounds. And, third, US Supreme Court already dealt with this issue in the Prize cases ruling that a blockade is an act of war. I successfully argued that in another case. So these are hostilities, this doesn't pass the straight-face test.
Hike for our Heroes is a non-profit started by Iraq War veteran Troy Yocum who is hiking across the country to raise awareness and money for veterans issues. He began the walk last April with the plan of 7,000 miles. Last week, his efforts received a major sponsor. Frank Lombardi (New York Daily News) reported Troy Yocum was hiking through NYC yesterday and held a Time Square press conference at Modell's Sporting Goods with the company's CEO Mitchell Modell who announced that in addition to the $200,000 Troy has raised, Modell had raised $260,000 for Troy's cause and "that his 147 stores - and an alliance of other big-name retailers with another 653 stores - will ask their customers at checkout time if they would like to donate $1 to help military families." Maria Diamond (WCBS -- link is text and audio) noted the hike has resulted in Troy going through "eight pairs of hiking boots" and that he's "suffered kidney stones, a neck strain, countless blisters and had his car broken into." Chris Harris (The Record) adds, "Yocum has traveled more than 6,300 miles so far, and still has several months to go before his mission ends in September in Kentucky." John Burgeson (Connecticut Post) reports that today, "under glowering thunderclouds, he strolled into downtown Bridgeport while in the 14th month of his trek for a brief ceremony with Mayor Bill Finch and a score of veterans at the city's war memorials at the corner of Broad and State streets." Burgeson notes an increase in fundraising via "Model's Sporting Goods, U.S. Polo and a raft of other sponsors" and quotes Troy stating, "I now expect that we'll raise about $1.5 million by the finish line, and since New York, we've been able to help one military family every day." Jennifer Amato (North Brunswick Sentinel) reports on how Mitchell Modell first learned of Troy's hike (at a New York Yankees' game from Darren Carroll) and how after speaking with Troy and fundraising $260,000, Mitchell Modell committed to raising even more. Amato also reported, "In addition, during a press conference at the store, members of three different Fire Department of New York firehouses presented Yocum with T-shirts, and Dave Lorenzo, senior vice president of J.P. Morgan Chase, presented Yocum with a $10,000 gift card to help bring down his costs."
Last Thursday, the US Army released their data on suicides for the month of May:
The Army released suicide data today for the month of May. Among active-duty soldiers, there were 21 potential suicides: one has been confirmed as suicide, and 20 remain under investigation. For April 2011, the Army reported 16 potential suicides among active-duty soldiers. Since the release of that report, two cases have been confirmed as suicide, and 14 cases remain under investigation.
During May 2011, among reserve component soldiers who were not on active duty, there were six potential suicides: none have been confirmed as suicides, and six remain under investigation. For April 2011, among that same group, there were 11 total suicides (two additional suicides for April were reported after the initial report). Of those, four were confirmed as suicide and seven are pending determination of the manner of death.
The Army continues to focus on ensuring its leaders have the training and knowledge to address high-risk behavior and prevent suicide. Company command teams are provided training on the requisite skills to identify and mitigate high-risk behavior. "When it comes to suicide and other high-risk behavior, we cannot afford to relearn past lessons. Incumbent commanders must continue to familiarize new leaders with the principles of leadership in garrison," said Gen. Peter Chiarelli, Army vice chief of staff.
Soldiers and families in need of crisis assistance can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Trained consultants are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year and can be contacted by dialing 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or by visiting their website at http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org.
Army leaders can access current health promotion guidance in newly revised Army Regulation 600-63 (Health Promotion) at: http://www.army.mil/usapa/epubs/pdf/r600_63.pdf and Army Pamphlet 600-24 (Health Promotion, Risk Reduction and Suicide Prevention) at http://www.army.mil/usapa/epubs/pdf/p600_24.pdf.
The Army's comprehensive list of Suicide Prevention Program information is located at http://www.preventsuicide.army.mil.
Suicide prevention training resources for Army families can be accessed at http://www.armyg1.army.mil/hr/suicide/training_sub.asp?sub_cat=20 (requires Army Knowledge Online access to download materials).
Information about Military OneSource is located at http://www.militaryonesource.com or by dialing the toll-free number 1-800-342-9647 for those residing in the continental United States. Overseas personnel should refer to the Military OneSource website for dialing instructions for their specific location.
Information about the Army's Comprehensive Soldier Fitness Program is located at http://www.army.mil/csf.
The Defense Center for Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE) Outreach Center can be contacted at 1-866-966-1020, via electronic mail at Resources@DCoEOutreach.org and at http://www.dcoe.health.mil.
The website for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is http://www.afsp.org, and the Suicide Prevention Resource Council site is found at http://www.sprc.org/index.asp.
The website for the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors is http://www.TAPS.org, and they can be reached at 1-800-959-TAPS (8277).
If you have trouble following the 'transitions' my apologies. This snapshot's been edited exremely to include various things. Marcia's "Bad radio" last night addressed two members of the Cult of St. Barack who each week offering "that's not true!" lies to defend their dream lover. We have worked in voices of truth (all more informed than the idiots on the podcast) throughout because it's clear that we need to combat the non-stop lying from the Cult of St. Barack. I'll have to work on that in future snapshots. But as the snapshot winds down, we'll note Senator Patty Murray's speech on the Senate floor today:

"Mr. President, tonight we are going to hear from President Obama about his plans for changes to troop levels in Afghanistan

"Last week, I joined with a bipartisan group of my Senate colleagues on a letter to the

President urging him to begin a sizable and sustained reduction in troop levels -- and I hope he takes the opportunity to do that tonight.

"But Mr. President, with all of the talk about troop levels -- I want to make sure that we remember that this isn't just about numbers -- it's about real people, with real families.
"Men and women who are fighting to defend our country, and are depending on us to do the right thing for them now and when they come home.
"As Chairman of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, I have an inside look into something that too often doesn't make the front pages: the unseen costs of war
"The costs that come after our men and women take that uniform off.
"We all hear about how expensive war is while we are fighting it -- but for so many of our servicemembers, what happens on the battlefield is just the beginning.
"We are seeing suicide rates that are much higher among active duty servicemembers and veterans than among civilians.
"We are finding they are having trouble accessing the mental health care so many
of them desperately need.
"We are watching as these men and women are sent out on tour after tour.
"Too often, they are having a tough time finding jobs when they come home.
"And we owe it to them and their families to do everything we can to get them the support and services they need.
"Mr. President -- far too many of our servicemembers have sacrificed life and limb overseas -- and we must honor them and their sacrifices by making sure we take care of them and their caregivers not just today, and not just when they come home, but for a lifetime.
"That is going to be expensive -- I am going to fight to make sure it happens -- and I
think it ought to be considered as we think about the war in Afghanistan.
"Mr. President, the enemy we face is real.
"The Taliban and al Qaeda have demonstrated through their actions and their words that they mean us great harm.
"I was sitting in the Capitol on September 11th 2001 when I saw the smoke rising from the Pentagon.
"It's a moment and a day I will never forget.
"As Americans, we know what this enemy is capable of, and we need to do everything we can to make sure something like that never, ever, happens again.
"That's why I believe American forces need to be prepared to fight terror and terrorists
wherever they may be.
"After September 11th, Afghanistan was providing safe haven for them, and we were absolutely right to go in and take them out.
"But we know terrorism isn't a country -- it's a network and a threat that exists around the world.
"We've seen that our terrorist enemies are not tied to a specific location -- and they are not bound by lines on a map.
"They are in Afghanistan -- but they are also in Yemen, in Iraq, in Pakistan -- and beyond.
"In fact, our top target in the war against terrorism, Osama bin Laden, was just killed in a brave operation in a safe house in Pakistan.
"So Mr. President -- I think it is absolutely critical we have a military that is prepared to take on our threats wherever they may be.
"So as we consider the wars we are fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq, we need to make sure we aren't overextending the servicemembers we are counting on --
"That we continue to have the financial resources available to defend ourselves against the very real threat of terrorism that continues to exist --
"That the cost and resources of boots on the ground for years on end doesn't inhibit our ability to go after terrorists wherever they are --
"And that our military and intelligence operations are nimble and have the
resources they need to keep our nation safe from all threats.
"Mr. President, we have been fighting in Afghanistan for ten years. I voted for this war, and it was the right thing to do.
"Our brave men and women in uniform have done everything we've asked of them
-- including finding Osama Bin Laden.
"But we need to make sure our strategies are adapted to meet the threats of today.
"Leaving large levels of troops in Afghanistan is not the best use of our resources -- especially in tough economic times. It's time to redeploy, rebuild our military and focus on the broader war on terror.
"I am hopeful President Obama will make an announcement tonight that reflects our current realities.
"And I am going to keep working with his administration, the Pentagon, the Department of Veterans' Affairs, and others -- as we fight to keep America safe and take care of the servicemembers coming home.
"Thank you Mr. President. I yield the floor."
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