Saturday, November 3, 2012

The awful Tell Me More (9 men, 3 women)

Tuesday, the election is finally over.  Thank goodness, right?

Judy e-mailed to tell me I had forgotten Tell Me More.  That's an NPR radio show.  I was taking two months off after tracking the gender imbalance on Talk of the Nation and had said I would start with Tell Me More in November.

That would have been yesterday.  I did listen.  I was very disappointed.

The show is hosted by Michele Martin.  You'd think that would mean women would stand a shot at equality.  Thursday made it clear that would not happen.  Friday made it even more clear.

Thursday on Tell Me More (NPR), the guests were Henry Gomez, Brian Bull, Suzanne McCabe and Anton Treuer.  Friday, the guests were Julianne Malveauz, Marilyn Geewax, Rey Junco, Joseph Marshall III, Jim Izrael, Arsalan Iftikhar, Pablo Torre and Mario Loyola.

Can you believe that garbage?

If you've seen her, you should be aware that she's not conventionally pretty.  She makes an attractive looking teenage boy by today's standards of beauty.

Possibly not being considered womanly or pretty has resulted in Michele Martin's refusal to book other women?  Maybe, in life, the only way she could get attention from men (she is hetrosexual) was to be the only woman present so she recreates that on her own show?

I don't know.  I don't care.  I'm damn sick of women destroying opportunities for other women.


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


Friday, November 2, 2012.  Chaos and violence continue, Nouri tries to stage a trade fair in Baghdad, the government of Turkey feels threatened by Kurds in the region, mass arrests continue, and more.
 
 

All Iraq News reports that US Ambassador to Iraq "Stephen Beecroft" (that's how he's billed -- maybe he's finally dropped the three names) is praising the Baghdad International Fair which just started.  Al Mada notes the fair started Thursday and that the first Baghdad International Fair was in 1957 though it wasn't called that until 1964.  Alsumaria notes this is the 39th Baghdad International Fair and that twenty countries are participating.  Yang Lina (Xinhua) quotes Nouri al-Maliki declaring,  "Iraq is now the investment opportunity in the region that everything here needs for reconstruction, particularly its infrastructure." 
 
Everything you need here -- if what you need is no booze, if what you need is security forces who do not obey the law they're supposed to enforce.  In fact, here's a YouTube video of Nouri's forces executing someone on the spot.  Iraq, where there's so much corruption, you may not even notice the bombings. Baghdad, infamous for kidnapping and killing foreigners.  Or maybe you'll be like Peter Moore and just suffer for years in captivity without being killed.
 
 
Nouri attended the opening ceremony and then split.  If you were Nouri, you would too.  That's a pathetic showing.  And if you doubt it, consider the 8th Erbil International Fair was last month and had 23 countries participating.  Poor, inept Nouri, always living in the shadow of the KRG. Hurriyet notes that, despite sharing a border with Iraq, "not many Turkish firms attended the event."  It appears to be shaping up to be another Arab League Summit type event -- where people grade on the pity scale and say, "It's a success!  Regardless of the fact that it accomplished litte or even nothing, it's a success!"  Poor Nouri, between his threats against corporations and his authoritarian streak, there's little to attract international investors to Baghdad. 
 
 
  And it's going to be evident for a prolonged period because Dar Addustour notes it's a ten day event.  The KRG where there's, by comparison, safety.  Where religious zealots will not prevent your consumption of alcohol.  Where you aren't confined to a pen named the "Green Zone."  And the KRG already has a business image -- a strong one.  Businesses don't fear they're going to be ripped off.  Of course Nouri has given Baghdad a strong image as well -- as a contract-breaking center.  And the only thing worth less than a written contract with the Baghdad government is Nouri's word.
 
 
 
Moving over to violence, Alsumaria reports a roadside bombing just south of Mosul claimed the life of 1 contractor who was killed "on the spot" according to source with the police. Alsumaria also reports that in Salahuddin Province a student was shot.  All Iraq News notes that Turkish warplanes began bombing northern Iraq in the early morning hours today.  Today's Zaman adds that there are reports "that four Turkish F-16 jets struck the PKK targets in the region."  This is part of the ongoing struggle between the Turkish government and the PKK.    Aaron Hess (International Socialist Review) described the PKK in 2008, "The PKK emerged in 1984 as a major force in response to Turkey's oppression of its Kurdish population. Since the late 1970s, Turkey has waged a relentless war of attrition that has killed tens of thousands of Kurds and driven millions from their homes. The Kurds are the world's largest stateless population -- whose main population concentration straddles Turkey, Iraq, Iran, and Syria -- and have been the victims of imperialist wars and manipulation since the colonial period. While Turkey has granted limited rights to the Kurds in recent years in order to accommodate the European Union, which it seeks to join, even these are now at risk."  Ofra Bengio (Minority-Opinion) offers this take today:
 
The signs are not hard to read.  Most dramatically, the traditionally marginalized Kurds of Syria have found new energy in the cauldron of the Syrian uprising and are now demanding a federal system in which they would gain significant autonomy in a post-Assad Syria.  The extremely restive Kurds of Turkey are pressing for what they call democratic autonomy.  The Kurds of Iran, typically unremarked upon in the media, are stirring beneath their blanket of obscurity.  But most important of all these are the Kurds of Iraq.  Iraq was the epicenter of the Kurds' great leap forward in the early 1990s: the establishment of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), which is a euphemism for a de facto Kurdish state.  It is to the KRG experience that Iranian, Syrian and Turkish Kurds increasingly look for lessons and guidance, and rightly so.
 
 
This is an ongoing struggle throughout the region.  In Turkey, that gets resolved only by recognition and equality of the Kurds. The Kurds there have been denied inclusion and that's what's fueled the struggle.  It's what's led to a hunger strike.  Ivan Watson and Gul Tuysuz (CNN) report,  "Turkey's government announced Friday that at least 682 inmates were participating in a hunger strike in at least 67 prisons across the country, but it insisted that no protesters were in critical condition." Daren Butler (Reuters) explains, "Jailed Kurdish militans on hunger strike in Turkey may start to die within the next 10 days, Turkey's main medical association warend on Thursday, saying the prime minister's dismissal of the protest as a 'show' risked hardening their resolve."   Gareth Jenkins (Great Britain's Socialist Worker) reports:
 
 
Up to 200 people from Kurdish and Turkish organisations protested outside the Turkish embassy today, Friday.
The protest marked the 52nd day since 63 Kurds in Turkish prisons started a hunger strike. They have been joined by 600 others.
Some may be near death. Thousands of Kurds around Europe have gone on solidarity hunger strikes.
Kurds make up roughly 30 per cent of the population in Turkey and have faced decades of repression. Thousands of Kurds, including MPs and mayors, are political prisoners.
Abdullah Öcalan, the leader of the Kurdish nationalist party, the PKK, has been held in prison since 1999.
Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan recently dismissed the hunger strikes—but protests have broken the wall of silence.
Mehmet Aksoy from the Kurdish Federation told Socialist Worker, "We want freedom for Öcalan, for there to be meaningful negotiations. And we want an end to the ban on using Kurdish in the law courts and in schools.
"We want the cries of the hunger strikers to be heard. We are here today to call on the international community to pressure Turkey into meeting our demands as the only way to bring a just and honourable peace."
© Socialist Worker (unless otherwise stated). You may republish if you include an active link to the original.
 
The KRG (three provinces in Iraq) are the closest to a Kurdish homeland.  As such, the government of Turkey has long been threatened by it, afraid that the KRG would result in (louder) cries among Turkey's Kurdish population for a section of Turkey to set up a homeland.  UPI  notes, "Turkey will not condone a separate autonomous Kurdish government in Syria, similar to the one in Iraq, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said."  Hurriyet quotes Erdogan stating, "We cannot let playing of such a scenario [Kurdish autonomy] here [in Syria].  We told this to [KRG President Massoud] Barzani too.  We wanted him to know this."  Whether he heard it or not, Emirates News Agency reports, "His Highness General Sheikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces has received Masoud Barzani, the President of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq who is on current visit to the UAE."
 
The statements by Turkish government officials will not be surprising to the KRG nor will they be all that important to the KRG either.  There are a number of issues, however, that are important to the KRG.  For example, the Kurdistan Regional Government notes Glen Campbell's BBC World Service News report:
 
 
Iraqi Kurds in Britain have begun a campaign for the mass murder of their people in Iraq in the late-1980s to be formally recognised as genocide.
At least 180,000 Kurds were killed by Saddam Hussein's forces. 
The justice4genocide campaign says many more died in atrocities carried out by regimes from the 1960s onwards. 
It is petitioning the UK government to declare the mass killing of Kurds as a genocide and press the European Union and United Nations to do the same.
 
 
Though not everyone may agree on genocide, there's this believe that everyone will agree on voting.    Al Mada reports that the United Nations is urging Iraqis to vote in the upcoming provincial elections scheduled for April 20th currently.  If UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's Special Envoy to Iraq Martin Kobler really wants Iraqis to turn out for the provincial elections, he might try working on a slogan -- something like, "Vote in the provincial elections -- the only ones so far that the US government doesn't overrule."

The US government did let the 2009 provincial elections -- both sets (the KRG did not hold them at the same time the other provinces -- minus Kirkuk -- did).  It was the Parliamentary elections of 2010 that they overruled because they wanted their pet Nouri al-Maliki to get a second term as prime minister after Nouri's State of Law came in second to Ayad Allawi's Iraqiya.  So they backed him on his eight month political stalemate and then they negotiated the Erbil Agreement guaranteeing him a second term as prime minister.

That legal contract found the political blocs granting that concession to Nouri in exchange for Nouri making concessions to them.  Nouri got what he wanted (the second term) and then discarded the contract.  That created the current stalemate.  Now the second place Nouri that the US re-installed in 2010, wants to shut out Iraqiya by forming a majority-government.  Al Mada reports that a split if evident in Parliament over the move.  And Al Mada quotes State of Law MP Abdul Salam al-Maliki stating that the answer is a majority government and that anyone who disagrees with that is not a supporter of democracy.  It's as if State of Law got all the MPs who fell on their heads.
And the UN continues to grade on the pity scale.  "Poor inept Nouri, but he managed . . ."  Reality, no one has to handhold the KRG to get them to plan their provincial elections.  Reality, the disputed Kirkuk Province?  That was supposed to have been decided by the end of 2007 -- per the Iraqi Constitution -- that's Article 140.  Nouri ignored that in his first term and he ignores it in his second and, guess what, Kirkuk won't be voting in the provincial elections.    But let's all pretend that 14 of the 18 provinces voting is amazing and flatter Nouri.
 
Why hasn't the United Nations publicly called otu the continued mass arrests which largerly target Sunnis in Iraq?   From yesterday's snapshot:
 
On violence, yesterday was the end of the month.  Iraq Body Count's counts 253 reported violent deaths in Iraq for the month of October.  Last month, their total was 356 which means a reduction of about 100 deaths.  AFP, forgetting fairy tales are for bedtime, notes the government total for October is 136.  AFP also forgets to note that there were over 550 reported mass arrests in Iraq in the month of October.  Nouri's round up largely focused on Sunnis.

Today, Alsumaria reports that in Mosul alone, last month saw the arrest of 90 for 'terrorism.'  It really is amazing how US and European press ignore these ongoing mass arrests.  Already today Alsumaria is reporting a mass arrest of 9 people for 'terrorism.'
 
 
 
 
In the US,  April Baer (OPB -- link is text and audio) reports, "A federal jury in Portland has awarded $85 million  in damages to twelve former soldiers who were exposed to hazardous material while on duty with the Oregon Guard. The jury deliberated for two days on evidence presented in a three-and-a-half week trial."  Teresa Carson (Reuters) adds, "Each Guard soldier was awarded $850,000 in non-economic damages and another $6.25 million in punitive damages for 'reckless and outrageous indifference' to their health in the trial in U.S. District Court in Portland.Mike Francis (Oregonian) quotes Jason Arnold stating, "It's a little bit of justice" and Aaron St. Clair stating, "We're not disposable.  People are not going to make money from our blood."
 
 
 Veterans Day is approaching.  US House Rep Jeff Miller is also the Chair of the House Veterans Affairs Committee.   He has a column in the Pensacola News Journal which opens:
 
 
America has many great qualities, each of which makes us the greatest nation in the world. Few of these qualities are as vital, however, to America's success as the strength and determination of our war fighters. For more than 225 years, Americans have signed up, at great peril to themselves, to defend the ideals upon which this nation was founded.
Once a year, on Veterans Day, all Americans turn their eyes to this group of heroes and honor their service to our nation. Nov. 11 is a special day. It is a reminder for us to always respect and pay tribute to our men and women in uniform who served. But in my opinion, and I know others agree, one day is not enough. Many veterans will tell you they signed up to serve expecting nothing in return. It is that type of selflessness that makes our veterans unique. We should mirror that selflessness and celebrate our veterans throughout the year.
 
 
Vietnam veteran and author (most recently, The Nostradamus Secret) Joseph Badal writes at his blog about Iraq War veterans Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods:
 
By now you have all heard about the actions of two brave men, Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods, on September 11, 2012, in Benghazi, Libya. Their actions while under fire to rescue other Americans were astounding. They could have delayed taking action, but didn't. They could have made excuses to not take action, but didn't. Even when they were ordered to "stand down," they didn't. They stepped up and did the right and courageous thing to save the lives of other Americans.
But Glen and Tyrone were everyday people from everyday backgrounds, and all of that has been lost in the noise around who told whom to do what and when.
 
 
For how they died, we'll refer to the Chair of the House Oversight Committee:
 
Committee Chair Darrell Issa:  On September 11, 2012, four brave Americans serving their country were murdered by terrorists in Benghazi, Libya.  Tyrone Woods spent two decades as a Navy Seal serving multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Since 2010, he protected the American diplomatic personnel.  Tyrone leaves behind a widow and three children.   Glen Doherty, also a former Seal and an experienced paramedic, had served his country in both Iraq and Afghanistan.  His family and colleagues grieve today for his death.  Sean Smith, a communications specialist, joined the State Dept after six years in the United States Air Force.  Sean leaves behind a widow and two young children.  Ambassador Chris Stevens, a man I had known personally during his tours, US Ambassador to Libya, ventured into a volatile and dangerous situation as Libyans revolted against the long time Gaddafi regime.  He did so because he believed the people of Libya wanted and deserved the same things we have: freedom from tyranny. 
 
 
That's US House Rep Darrell Issa speaking at the House Oversight Committee (he is the Chair of the Committee) on October 10th.  We covered the hearing in the October 10th and October 11th snapshots.  That Doherty and Woods were working for the CIA was not news if you were at the hearing.  That and the large number of injured CIA personnel were obvious at the hearing -- and why US House Rep Jason Chaffetz kept objecting and stating that certain things were classified.  Today, the media wants to treat it as news.
 
And not because they give a damn about Doherty and Woods but because they think it clears the administration.  One charge being tossed around (as 'fact' by some) is that the CIA was the target of the attack.  That's interesting.  You're saying Libyan terrorists knew that was a CIA outpost?  That's very interesting.  Equally interesting is the lie that Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty working for the CIA means the four deaths are a CIA problem or have nothing to do with the administration.  A US Ambassador is supposed to travel with a security detail.  This was the point Chaffetz was constrained to make in an open hearing but kept coming close to it. 
 
If Chris Stevens were traveling to Benghazi to hear a briefing from the CIA and a Turkish asset, he was traveling.  The fact that the CIA was on end-point for the trip did not relieve the administration of the responsibility to provide Stevens with security while en route and one he arrived. 
 
There are a lot of lies being told and once again it's not to help anyone except Barack Obama.  Americans have a right to know what happened.  At this point, they still don't.  And nothing 'emerging' today changes the larger story.
 
 

Douglas Sloan (Oxonian Globalist) observes, "On the same day that President Barack Obama announced his support for same-sex marriage, an openly homosexual American solider experienced his 714th  day of incarceration. He had not been convicted of any crime. Bradley Manning, the alleged Wikileaks informer, has been in custody since May 2010, and was in solitary confinement for nine months."  Bradley Manning, like Barack's kill-list, is a topic the faux left doesn't want to address in an election year.  Alexander Reed Kelly (TruthDig) notes of  Gary Dorrien's The Obama Question: A Progressive Perspective which is meant to churn out the vote for Barack:


The chapter titled "Moral Empire and Liberal War," which serves to justify Obama's expansion of the American military establishment, is the most telling in terms of its omissions. According to a Google Books search, the name "Bradley Manning" appears nowhere in the section's 30 pages. Neither do the words "whistle-blower" or "rendition." "Surveillance" comes up once, and the unmanned drone war, which has claimed dozens of civilian lives in Pakistan since Obama took office, gets a passing mention in a single paragraph.


But though whores might wish Bradley would just disappear, he remains and possibly the hatred being spewing by the faux left has to do with the fact that Bradley is the ghost that haunts them, the truth that mocks them.

Monday April 5, 2010, WikiLeaks released US military video of a July 12, 2007 assault in Iraq. 12 people were killed in the assault including two Reuters journalists Namie Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh. Monday June 7, 2010, the US military announced that they had arrested Bradley Manning and he stood accused of being the leaker of the video. Leila Fadel (Washington Post) reported in August 2010 that Manning had been charged -- "two charges under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The first encompasses four counts of violating Army regulations by transferring classified information to his personal computer between November and May and adding unauthorized software to a classified computer system. The second comprises eight counts of violating federal laws governing the handling of classified information." In March, 2011, David S. Cloud (Los Angeles Times) reported that the military has added 22 additional counts to the charges including one that could be seen as "aiding the enemy" which could result in the death penalty if convicted. The Article 32 hearing took place in December.  At the start of this year, there was an Article 32 hearing and, February 3rd, it was announced that the government would be moving forward with a court-martial.  Bradley has yet to enter a plea and has neither affirmed that he is the leaker nor denied it.  The court-martial was supposed to begin this month has been postponed until after the election . 

Douglas Sloan explains:

Not only have Manning's reputation and credibility been attacked using his homosexuality, but his defence centres on the assertion that he struggled with gender identity issues. As a result of having to suppress his homosexuality due to the prevailing 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy, Manning's defence deems that he was not mentally fit to be given access to classified information, and as such the blame for the leak lies with his superiors. That homosexuality can be considered a defence in such a case seems to undermine both the work done by LGBT rights groups and the progress that the repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' represents. To view it as a plea of homosexuality, however, is to misunderstand the issue at hand. Manning's defence is more one of aggravated mental disturbance than of sexuality, for all this aggravation was a consequence of his sexuality and the military's reaction to it.
Questions must be asked of an institution that drove a man to such extremes that he would go for a weapons rack during a counselling session, send pictures of himself in women's dress to his commanding officer and potentially leak thousands of sensitive documents. Whether he was responsible for the leak or not, his situation hardly reflects well on the American military.


Today is Bradley's 894th day imprisoned.  He has still not had a trial.  There are 365 days in a year.  Barack has imprisoned an American citizen for close to three years.  Barack has denied Bradly his Constitutional right to a fair and speedy trial. David E. Coombs and will be speaking December 3rd in DC.  This Day In WikiLeaks notes that and two other events:

  • Bradley Manning's attorney David Coombs will be giving his first ever public presentation on December 3 at the All Souls Church Unitarian in Washington D.C. The presentation will give an overview of pending defence motions in U.S. v. PFC Manning, as well as other facts about the case.
  • A rally will be held at Fort Meade on November 27, the first day of Bradley Manning's hearings related to his unlawful pretrial punishment.
  • An Election Day demonstration will be held at the U.S. Embassy in London on November 6. Anthony Timmons of WISE Up Action will speak about Bradley Manning.
 
 
 
 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

New developments on Benghazi?

David Ignatius has a CIA timeline at the Washington Post based on what he's been unable to verify in interviews.  I'm talking about Benghazi, the attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi that left Tyrone Woods, Glen Doherty, Sean Smith and Chris Stevens dead.

I'd also recommend this report by Jake Tapper (ABC News) about how Barack ignored a question on Libya today.  In terms of why this important story isn't getting wall to wall coverage with various angles being explored non-stop, I would direct you to Erik Wemple (Washington Post) who attempts to address some of that:

Last Friday, Fox News came up with a conversation-driver. A piece under the byline of reporter Jennifer Griffin opened with these revelations:

Fox News has learned from sources who were on the ground in Benghazi that an urgent request from the CIA annex for military back-up during the attack on the U.S. consulate and subsequent attack several hours later on the annex itself was denied by the CIA chain of command — who also told the CIA operators twice to “stand down” rather than help the ambassador’s team when shots were heard at approximately 9:40 p.m. in Benghazi on Sept. 11.

Ever since that story dropped, the Erik Wemple Blog has been following its Internet following. The story gained immediate traction in conservative media, with pickups by PJMedia, TheRightNewz, PatriotsforAmerica, among others. ABC News’s Jake Tapper wrote a post detailing just how President Obama managed to wiggle out of a question on the Fox News report in an Oct. 26 interview with a Denver TV station.

Yet the big guns of Beltway journalism have largely treated the Fox report with silence. This non-development hasn’t met with silence from the mainstream media’s critics. “ABC, CBS, NBC, The Washington Post, and the New York Times are so vested in the re-election of Barack Obama that they are deliberately spiking this huge story. It’s sickening,” says Media Research Center President Brent Bozell.


I think he's written a thoughtful analysis of one aspect (why a report on Fox didn't result in other coverage -- and I would add that could be coverage backing it up, shooting it down or saying we don't know).  I think this is probably one of the best pieces of media criticism that I've seen in the media.


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


Thursday, November 1, 2012.  Chaos and violence continue, someone involved in the 2011 negotiations between the White House and Nouri to keep US troops in Iraq speaks, Nouri moves towards the majority-government, Jalal Talabani feels betrayed, the alleged Israeli spying devices on the US supplied F-16s continue to be covered by the Iraqi press, Tareq al-Hashemi gets a second death sentence, and more.
 
Starting with Munaf al-Saedi (Niqash) who explores a new Facebook campaign:
 
One young Baghdad woman has ambitious plans for Iraqi women's rights – and she has started a Facebook campaign to back them. She already has 10,000 online supporters. NIQASH asks Ruqaya Abdul-Ali how this will translate to action/
She's not even 20 years old but Baghdadi university student Ruqaya Abdul-Ali has started a wildly successful Facebook campaign. It is called "Revolution Against Patriarchal Society" and it's only three months old – and already Abdul-Ali has got almost 10,000 supporters involved.
Abdul-Ali says she aims to educate Iraqi women about their rights, to stop sexual harassment in Iraqi society and to get some of the country's most discriminatory legislation changed. NIQASH asked her exactly how she plans to achieve those grand plans.
NIQASH: Could you tell us exactly what you mean by a "Revolution Against Patriarchal Society"? 

Abdul-Ali: It is a revolution against tribal, patriarchal norms and the traditions that deprive women of their basic rights, ones that cause them to live like machines whose sole purpose is to give birth and to do household tasks. It is a revolution that will make women more aware of their rights and help them become more informed, introducing them to new ideas. The campaign is about encouraging women to read and to educate themselves.
 
NIQASH: Why are you doing this?

Abdul-Ali: I launched this campaign on Facebook because of the pressures being put on women as a result of the revival of tribal traditions in Iraq [following the 2003 US-led invasion that ended former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's regime]. There are also increasing levels of violence, discrimination and verbal and sexual harassment.
The phenomenon of early and underage marriage also seems to be becoming more widespread and this prevents women from getting an education, not to mention the societal impact this has on divorced and widowed women.
And I used Facebook because I wanted to remind Iraqi women of their rights. Many women both inside and outside Iraq have joined the Facebook page and that number has almost reached 10,000. Many of them are human rights activists.
 
 
Iraqi women suffer in a multitude of ways as a result not limited to the hardships involved of war turning your nation into a country of widows and orphans.  In 2005, Ghali Hassan (Global Research) explained how Iraqi women were being robbed of their rights:
 
Prior to the arrival of U.S. forces, Iraqi women were free to go wherever they wish and wear whatever they like. The 1970 Iraqi constitution, gave Iraqi women equity and liberty unmatched in the Muslim World. Since the U.S. invasion, Iraqi women's rights have fallen to the lowest level in Iraq's history. Under the new U.S.-crafted constitution, which will be put to referendum on the 15 October while the bloodbath mounts each day, women's rights will be oppressed and the role of women in Iraqi society will be curtailed and relegated to the caring for "children and the elderly".
Immediately after the invasion, the U.S. embarked on cultivating friendships with religious groups and clerics. The aim was the complete destruction of nationalist movements, including women's rights movements, and replacing them with expatriate religious fanatics and criminals piggybacked from Iran, the U.S. and Britain. In the mean time the U.S. moved to liquidate any Iraqi opposition or dissent to the Occupation.
 
 
Iraqi women were not helped by the exiles the US government put in charge of Iraq or by the unrest the US government encouraged in an attempt to intimidate, silence and control the people.  No one has been more damaging than Nouri al-Maliki.  This can be seen by women in his Cabinet.  In his first term as Prime Minister, Nawal al-Samarraie served as Minister of Women's Affairs.  February 6, 2009, she was in the news when she resigned because her ministry was not properly funded (a meager monthly budget of $7,500 a month was slashed to $1,400) and she states, "I reached to the point that I will never be able to help the women." That was very embarrassing for Nouri. So naturally the New York Times worked overtime to ignore it. (See Third Estate Sunday Review's "NYT goes tabloid.") NPR's Corey Flintoff covered it for Morning Edition (link has text and audio).

Nouri didn't care for Nawal al-Samarraie or the needed attention she raised. Which was reflected in his second term when he tried to erase women completely. From the December 22, 2010 snapshot:


Turning to Iraq, Liz Sly and Aaron Davis (Washington Post) note, "A special gathering of the nation's parliament endorsed Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki for a second term in office, with lawmakers then voting one by one for 31 of the eventual 42 ministers who will be in his cabinet." AFP notes that all but one is a man, Bushra Hussein Saleh being the sole woman in the Cabinet. And they quote Kurdish MP Ala Talabani stating, "We congratulate the government, whose birth required eight months, but at the same time we are very depressed when we see the number of women chosen to head the ministries. Today, democracy was decapitated by sexism. The absence of women is a mark of disdain and is contrary to several articles of the constitution. I suggest to Mr Maliki to even choose a man for the ministry of women's rights, as you do not have confidence in women." Ala Talabani is the niece of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani. Imran Ali (Womens Views On News) reminds, "The new constitution stipulates that a quarter of the members of parliament be women and prohibits gender discrimination." Apparently concern about representation doesn't apply to the Cabinet (and, no, Nouri's attempts at offering excuses for the huge gender imbalance do not fly).
 

42 posts to fill and Nouri couldn't think of a single woman? And wouldn't have if Iraqi women hadn't gotten vocal on the issue. And note that Nouri increased the Cabinet from 31 in his first term to 42.   That tells you just how inclusive Nouri isn't. Also note that it was Iraqi women and they did it without any help from the United Nations which is so cowed that it refuses to stand up for women in Iraq.   Nouri also oversaw the appointment of commissioners to the so-called Independent High Electoral Commission.  While the United Nations tried so hard to find a rainbow in manure, the reality is that one third of the members were supposed to be women.  This is a point that the UN was making as late as the summer.  But when only one woman was named a commissioner, the UN decided to just pretend that didn't take place -- even when the Iraqi court ruled that, yes, a third of the commissioners should be women.  Maybe if the UN had pushed for the law and for women, that would have happened.  But it was much more important to the United Nations to use up all their happy face stickers that day than it was to stand up for Iraqi women. 
 
 
At the end of 2011, Iraqiya MP Nada Ibrahim explained to AFP, "It has been a very bad regression" for women in Iraq.  Last January, Equality in Iraq featured Emily Muna's interview with Housan Mahmoud (Organization of Women's Freedom in Iraq) for Workers Liberty:
 
What issues do women in Iraq face?
 
Many: kidnapping, prostitution, sexual slavery, honour killings, stigmatising and marginalisation from wider society, as well as lack of employment and poor pay, so many different issues.
Also, women aren't the only ones who suffer at the hands of patriarchy in the country.
OWFI was the only organisation that stood up against homophobia and the murder of homosexuals in Iraq. We raised issues homosexual Iraqis face with Shi'a Islamists.
 
How usual is it for women to be employed? Has it become less usual as Iraqi society 
moves towards Islamism?
 
It depends. Some places have always been deeply religious, while others are progressing towards Islamism.
If a woman finds a job, she works, but it is all about who you know. Even prostitution is now an income for some women, if they get paid at all.
Prostitution itself is illegal and we stand up for the welfare and employment and human rights of sex workers because they are victimised and dehumanised in such societies.
I met some ex-prostitutes, and they were still in danger. They sought help from many women's groups, but were turned away for moral or security reasons.
 
 
Zhala Aziz (Warvin) reports that Sunday, October 21st, a marathon was held in Hawler.  (Hawler is in Erbil, a province of the Kurdistan Regional Government -- semi-autonomous area in northern Iraq.)  The marathon was for breast cancer and the city's Director of Health, Qasim Ali Aziz, explained, "To raise awareness among women and protect themselves against this disease, in the memory of breast cancer, we organized a marathon between the female high schools students with the commerical high schools girls." In addition, Jim and Deb Fine (Mennonite Central Commitee Iraq) reports on how bee keeping is creating opportunites for Iraqi women living in the KRG:
 
In the Yezidi village of Beban we met our first woman participant, Aasimah (not her real name), whose husband was kidnapped in Baghdad in 2006.  The family sold goods from the camera shop they owned to raise the $50,000 ransom the kidnappers demanded.  They paid the ransom but to no avail.  The kidnappers killed Aasimah's husband and Aasimah fled Baghdad with her four children to live in the safety of Beban, her family village.
Aasimah reported that she had already sold 4 kg. of honey for $50 a kg., although her five hives had been working for only three months.  Aasimah, like the 25 other displaced female heads of household participating in the ZSVP project, can expect to earn some $2,000 a year in the first years of the project and could earn much more as the bees swarm and populate new hives. (On our visit we met one man who had been the beneficiary of an earlier ZSVP beekeeping project.  He received five beehives in 2009.  He now maintains fifty hives and sells bees as well as honey to customers in the area.)
 
 
October 22nd, in London, the Women of the Year Lunch & Awards was held and one of the Barclays Women of the Year Award winners was "Iraqi-American women's rights activist, author and co-founder of Women for Women International Zainab Salbi."  (For more on the awards, click here and read about the Lifetime Achievement Award which went to internationally known singer, actress and activist Lulu.)  For more on Zainab Salbi, you can refer to Sarah Morrison's profile on her which ran in Sunday's Independent of London.  As well as WBAA's From Scratch (link is audio) today which found Jessica Harris interviewing Zainab. 
 
 
 
Still on the topic of Iraqi women, Tupperware is one of the few international companies that has been working to empower Iraqi women.  US Ambassador at Large for Global Women's Issues (US State Dept) Melanne Verveer was to have spoken at Rollins College Monday about empowering women and girls globally but the event was postponed.  The Crummer Graduate School of Business at Rollins College has partnered with Tupperware and the Office of Global Women's Issues to create Global Links "a yearlong esternship designed to inspire a new generation of Iraqi women entrepreneurs and, in turn, help strengthen the country's struggling economy and rebuild its middle class."
 
 
Voices for Creative Nonviolence's Cathy Breen is in Iraq and she will be writing about this latest trip for The Progressive.  (Good for The Progressive for remembering Iraq.)  Her first report includes:
 
 
It is almost ten years since the U.S.-led war against Iraq. The electricity keeps going off here and all throughout the country. Sami, whose family is hosting me in Najaf, remarked yesterday with no ill intent, "Maybe we could send them some of our electricity!"  We had to laugh.
I read another email this morning from an Iraqi friend of Sami's whom we were unable to see in Basra. He spoke about the lack of electricity and the high humidity in Basra, where temperatures reached almost 50 degrees Centigrade last summer (about 120 degrees Fahrenheit), and this was during the fasting month of Ramadan when no water, or food, is taken from dawn to dusk. "How is it," this friend asks, "that the U.S. has poured billions of dollars into Iraq and yet there was no project for a [national] electrical power station to help cool temperatures and calm temperaments that went along with the political instability, the insecurity and the sectarian killings…?"
 
 
On violence, yesterday was the end of the month.  Iraq Body Count's counts 253 reported violent deaths in Iraq for the month of October.  Last month, their total was 356 which means a reduction of about 100 deaths.  AFP, forgetting fairy tales are for bedtime, notes the government total for October is 136.  AFP also forgets to note that there were over 550 reported mass arrests in Iraq in the month of October.  Nouri's round up largely focused on Sunnis.
 
And not just 'terrorists.'  No, Nouri brought in a new charge in the Baghdad area: prostitution.  Over 180 women were arrested for prostitution in the Baghdad area alone.  Two weeks ago, a reporter attempting to report on that was killed: Zia Medhi.  From the October 24th snapshot:
 


Iraq's Journalistic Freedoms Observatory notes the investigative journalist was in Baghdad's Tahrir Square at ten a.m. Monday morning conducting meetings and interviews and she was also working on a story about prostitution and brothels in Iraq.  She went to a police station to interview some of the 180 women arrested but a police officer prevented her from entering and he denied that there were any prostitutes among the arrested.  He left and then moments later re-appeared telling her she could enter but without her colleagues.  Zia Mehdi didn't feel comfortable with that offer and instead returned to Tahrir Square to continue her LGBT interviews.  Later she was discovered dead, stabbed to death, still in her jacket that noted she was a journalist.
 
Approximately a fourth of the deaths from violence in October took place last weekend.  The Islamic State of Iraq, as Fars News Agency reported, claimed credit for the "shootings and bombings over the Eid al-Adha holiday that killed dozens of people nationwide."  July 22nd, the Islamic State of Iraq released an audio recording announcing a new campaign of violence entitled Breaking The Walls which would include prison breaks and killing "judges and investigators and their guards." Since they made their July announcement there have been minor and major attacks throughout Iraq.  Ashley Fantz (CNN) reported a very important detail about the Islamic State of Iraq's announcement, "In the statement, the ISI claims that the Shiite Rafidi government have conducted a series of arrests that targeted Sunni women in order to pressure their relatives to surrender to authorities or to blackmail their relatives. Attacking during Eid was intended to deliver a message: You are not safe, even during a holiday built around peace."  Yes, we're back to the issue of Nouri's government targeting Sunni women for arrests.  Today, Michael Jansen (Irish Times) reports on the way Sunnis are shut out:
 
While Iraq's Sunnis largely back Syria's rebels, the Shia prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, fearing the establishment of a Sunni fundamentalist regime on Iraq's western flank, supports the secular Syrian regime.
Iraq's armed forces and civil administration, dismantled after the US occupation, have not been restored. The military, where most soldiers were always from the majority Shia community, has been transformed into a sectarian Shia force by Maliki.
Sunni fighters who helped the US defeat al-Qaeda and its offshoots have been denied recruitment into the armed forces, creating a wellspring of resentment in Sunni provinces that border on Syria. Youngsters are encouraged to join radical Sunni groups. Some have gone to Syria to fight against the Assad regime while others are mounting deadly attacks on Shias and Iraqi regime targets.
 
Nouri's most famous Sunni target in recent years has been Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi. 
Let's drop back to the April 30th snapshot:


The political crisis was already well in effect when December 2011 rolled around.  The press rarely gets that fact correct.  When December 2011 rolls around you see Iraqiya announce a  boycott of the council and the Parliament, that's in the December 16th snapshot and again in a December 17th entry .  Tareq al-Hashemi is a member of Iraqiya but he's not in the news at that point.  Later, we'll learn that Nouri -- just returned from DC where he met with Barack Obama -- has ordered tanks to surround the homes of high ranking members of Iraqiya.  December 18th is when al-Hashemi and Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq are pulled from a Baghdad flight to the KRG but then allowed to reboard the plane. December 19th is when the arrest warrant is issued for Tareq al-Hashemi by Nouri al-Maliki who claims the vice president is a 'terrorist.' .

 
al-Hashemi has been in Turkey where he remains.  He was there while a Baghdad court controlled by Nouri pretended to hear charges against him in a faux trial.  This despite the Baghdad judges declared him guilty in February at their press conference and while one judge was stating that he had been threatened by al-Hashemi, before the trial even started, they declared al-Hashemi guilty.  That press conference demonstrated that al-Hashemi was correct, he would not get a fiar trial in the Baghdad courts (he had asked that the trial be moved to the KRG or to Kirkuk).  In May, the trial began.  The judges have also refused to allow Vice President al-Hashemi to call President Jalal Talabani to the stand as a character witness -- in fact, they refused all the requests for character witnesses.  Among other problems with the trial?  The use of so-called confessions obtained via torture, the refusal to make the proceedings open and transparent (the press was kicked out during some of the trial) and the simple fact that, even after his September 9th 'conviction,'  Tareq al-Hashemi remains Vice President of Iraq.  He was never removed from his position and while he holds that position -- as he currently does -- the Constitution does not allow for him to stand trial.  He can stand trial after he leaves office.  He can be removed from office by the Parliament immediately and then legally stand trial.  But he was never removed from office and his term has not expired so he can't legally be tried.
 
He can't legally be tried?  You'd assume that Iraqi judges would grasp that Constitutional fact and stop the trial.  But that assumption would be built upon the fact that the Baghdad judiciary was independent of Nouri and that it was interested in practicing the law and not just delivering rubber stamp verdicts on Nouri's orders.
 
Tareq and the ridiculous criminal court in Baghdad are back in the news today.  Vestnik Kavkazza has the best headline, "Iraqi vice president Tariq al-Hashemi to be executed twice." AP gets this right: "The verdict was the second death sentence for Tariq Al-Hashemi in less than two months, and is likely to stoke further resentment among Iraq's minority Sunni Muslims against the Shiite-led government."  Press TV also notes this is Tareq's "second death sentence."
 
 
 
 
Subsequently, and despite all the fond hopes of a diverse, secular and democratic new order emerging in Iraq – remember all those earnest discussions post invasion, about whether a 'liberated' Iraq would have a loosely federal structure or a strongly centralized one? – something quite different has emerged. Namely, a virtual Shi'ite dictatorship led by Nouri al-Maliki and subservient to Iran. Instead of liberating Iraq and containing Iran, the US invasion has enabled a tyrannical client regime of Teheran to be installed in Baghdad. Nice work.
In the process of setting up his new tyranny, al-Maliki has made a joke out of those fond hopes of peaceful power sharing with Sunni legislators. Amid terrible bloodshed since 2003, many of the Sunni fighters have been killed or driven out, and Kurdish aspirations have been sidelined. However, those residual Sunni elements from Iraq - and Kurdish fighters from all over the region – have now poured into Syria to fight the Assad regime, and as the New York Times recently pointed out, Iraq is already feeling the blowback.
 
Nouri is moving towards a majority government which is his effort to shut out political rivals.  Dar Addustour reports Nouri and Ammar al-Hakim (Supreme Islamic Council of Iraq) have been meeting and bonding over this move and that al-Hakim has declared such a move "wise."   From Monday's snapshot:
 
With that in mind, it's ridiculous that, as All Iraq News reports, State of Law is telling the Kurdistan Alliance that either the blocs 'come on board,' or Nouri will attempt to form a majority government.  A majority governmnent would shut out non-Shias.  In other words, State of Law's Salman al-Moussawi is stating either you drop your demand that we honor this contract or we will move towards forming a majority government.  Possibly these threats from State of Law are why MP Hussein Mansouri of Moqtada al-Sadr's bloc states that a national conference alone will not solve the political crisis.
 
 
Dar Addustour notes today that Iraqi President Jalal Talabani feels betrayed by this move.  Talabani was supposed to be working on getting the political blocs together.  Before the four-day holiday kicked off on Friday, Nouri and his State of Law political slate were singing Jalal's praises, saying he was going to fix the political stalemate.  He was also saying that he wanted the National Conference (a meet-up of the political blocs to resolve the political crisis) that Jalal and Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi have been calling for since December 21st.  Not only does Dar Addustour report Jalal feels betrayed, they also report that he's met up with Iraqiya's al-Nujaifi and the two are discussing what their options are.  Dar Addustour feels ther are three ways this can play out: a vote in Parliament to withdraw confidence from Nouri (in which case a caretaker government would be put in place until elections can be held), the majority government that Nouri wants or a Nouri's using his control of the military to seize total control of Iraq (Little Saddam would become the Hussein he always wanted to be).
 
 
Meanwhile Josh Rogin (Foreign Policy) speaks with the second US Ambassador to Iraq during Barack's almost four years in the Oval Office:
 
Jeffrey was a key player on both the Washington and Baghdad sides of the 2011 negotiations that were meant to agree on a follow on force to extend the Bush administration's Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) after it was set to expire last December. Those negotiations ultimately failed. The White House has said the Iraqis refused to grant immunity for U.S. troops in Iraq after 2011 and submit a new SOFA through their own parliament, two things the United States needed to extend the troops' mission.
Jeffrey said that he and Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki personally discussed the idea of extending the U.S. troop presence in Iraq via an executive agreement, which would not have to go through the Iraqi parliament.
"Maliki said at one point, 'Why don't we just do this as an executive agreement?'" Jeffrey said. "I didn't think he was serious, and I didn't think he had thought it through."
 
That was the 2011 negotiations.  Remember that negotiations are going on right now.  September 26th, Tim Arango (New York Times) reported:

 
Iraq and the United States are negotiating an agreement that could result in the return of small units of American soldiers to Iraq on training missions. At the request of the Iraqi government, according to General Caslen, a unit of Army Special Operations soldiers was recently deployed to Iraq to advise on counterterrorism and help with intelligence.
 
 

Yesterday's snapshot: noted that the current US Ambassador to Iraq Robert S. Beecroft had blown his credibility (claiming there were no US troops remaining in Iraq to the Iraqi press and, as All Iraq News pointed out, also claiming that there was no desire for US troops to be sent back into Iraq) and that this wasn't a good time for that to happen:
 
All Iraq News reports Iraqis state they have found Israeli recording devices on the F-16s the US has supplied so far.  The Iraqi Air Force leadership has sent a letter objecting to the device to Lockheed Martin, manufacturers of the F-16s.  Fars News Agency adds, "Iraq's air force has found out Israeli company RADA has planted information recording systems in its F-16 fighters recently purchased from the American Lockheed Martin Company."
 
 
Dar Addustour reports today that the Iraqi Air Force first sought comment from the US government and when they received no answer from the US government, about what they see as spying devices, they asked Lockheed Martin.  I have no idea of whether they're spying devices or not.  But at some point, someone in leadership in Iraq is going to realize that if there is one set of spying devices, there may be two or more.  Someone will shortly grasp that the set discovered may have been intended to be discovered in order to conceal more important devices.  That's sleight of hand -- look here, not over there.  Again, this wasn't a time where the US face to Iraq should have thrown away credibility by lying that all US troops were out of Iraq and that the US government wasn't attempting to work on a new agreement with Iraq governing US troops.
 
 
 
 
cnn

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Jill gets arrested

Jeremy Meyer (Denver Post) reports:


Denver Mayor Michael Hancock has been busy pushing for President Obama’s re-election — appearing on stage Tuesday before former President Bill Clinton’s speech and even heading to Milwaukee on Sunday to push for the Badger State’s vote.
Hancock even broke news on that Wisconsin trip, telling voters if the election were to be held right now the president would lose Wisconsin and its coveted 10 electoral votes.

Good. I hope that's accurate and I hope it holds.  Barack hasn't earned a second term.

Jill Stein is the Green Party's presidential candidate.  She's in the news as well.  ANN reports that she's been arrested in Texas:

Stein was arrested while trying to bring supplies (food and halloween candy) to Tar Sands Blockade protestors who have been camping out in the trees in protest to the Keystone XL Pipeline. She was charged with Class B Misdemeanor Criminal Trespass, then transported and remanded to the Wood County Jail.

The protestors that she tried to bring supplies to climbed up into the foliage in the path of the pipeline have been in those trees for the past 38 days.

Her campaign notes:

In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein was handcuffed and arrested this morning after bringing food and supplies to a coalition of climate justice activists, known as the “Tar Sands Blockade,” who are attempting to stop the Keystone XL pipeline in Texas.  She is currently at Wood County Jail awaiting processing.

“Everyone needs to step up resistance to climate-killing emissions,” said Stein, who was willing to risk arrest in order to show solidarity for this blockade.  “Romney and Obama are only talking about the symptoms of climate change in terms of destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy; the blockaders are addressing the cause.” 

Jill Stein was joined by seven others, including three blockaders and four members of the press.   They were delivering fresh fruits and vegetables, canned proteins, trail mix, and Halloween candy. They were not warned of imminent arrests; and the arresting officers did not self-identify as police. 

Prior to running for office, Jill Stein, a 62-year old physician and mother of two, had never been arrested. 
"Climate change means more frequent severe storms that lead to massive flooding and destruction,” said Stein, speaking at the ongoing protests in Texas against the proposed Keystone XL natural gas project. “We will see more destructive storms than Sandy in the years to come. We have to stop spending our tax dollars to build homes in low-lying coastal areas and flood plains. The billions spent rebuilding the NYC subway system must reflect that sea levels will continue to rise.”  Stein noted that the flooding of the NYC subway system had been predicted in several recent climate change reports prepared for the state government. 

Stein has been the only national presidential candidate who has made dealing with climate change a major focus. She supports reducing the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere to below 350 ppm. The Green New Deal, the centerpiece of her campaign, includes investing hundreds of billions of dollars to transition to a carbon neutral economy, paid for through cuts to the military budget, elimination of subsidies for fossil fuels and nukes, and higher taxes on the wealthy and Wall Street.

"We can't just listen to climate change scientists for a few days after a disaster occurs, before politicians go back to business as usual. America has been both the major contributor to climate change and the major denier of the need for action. Obama and Romney's push to develop more domestic fossil fuels will accelerate our rush down the path of destruction while increasing the profits of the oil, coal and gas companies," added Cheri Honkala, the Green Vice-Presidential candidate.

The world already has five times as much oil, coal and gas available as climate scientists say the atmosphere can tolerate.  So rather than drill for more fossil fuels, we must keep 80 percent of those reserves locked away safely underground to avoid a climate disaster.

While recognizing that climate change is already underway, Stein has laid out a number of major steps that should be taken to slow it down. Stein said that the government must also begin investing in how to mitigate its impacts.

"A major reason why our political and business leaders have failed to take action on climate change is because too many of them believe that it will be cheaper to deal with the consequences of climate change than to reduce it. The economic and human costs from Hurricane Sandy shows this to be the wrong calculation," said Stein.

A recent report commissioned by 20 nations found that 400,000 people are already being killed annually by climate change, while costing the world economy more than $1.2 trillion a year. (http://daraint.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/CVM2ndEd-FrontMatter.pdf)

To read more about why activists are opposing the Keystone XL pipeline visit: http://tarsandsblockade.org/about-2/why-oppose-kxl/



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


Wednesday, October 31, 2012.  Chaos and violence continue, kebabs are out, al Qaeda is back, corruption never left Iraq, nor did US troops (despite Beecroft's claims otherwise), we look at Benghazi, terror and more.
 
 
Save us all from the sexism.  Last night, Ann, Marcia, Ava and I weighed in on a sexist get-out-the-vote ad and I would have hoped that lengthy piece could be it on the topic for a bit.  But sexism never ends, instead it seems to roll in with the tide. 
 
Yesterday's snapshot noted Nussaibah Younis' "Time to Get Tough on Iraq" (New York Times) which is an important column.  And one of many important pieces of writing Nussaibah's contributed over the years -- such as at England's Guardian newspaper.  But today Jacob Hornberger (Media With Conscience News) decides to 'tackle' the article in the way only certain men can -- by completely misunderstanding everything about the article and about Nussaibah.  So when Hornberger writes of Nussaibah, "He wants the U.S. government to get tough . . ."? 
 
I'm sorry Hornberger, I would assume if you were someone who regularly writes about the Middle East -- and Libertarian Hornberger frequently does -- that you'd know a few things.  One thing you might know, for example, is that Nussaibah -- which has a variety of spellings -- is one of the oldest female names in Arabic culture.  Yeah, Nussaibah Younis, the "he" Hornberger is raging against is actually a she.
 
If you doubt it, you can check out her profile at the Guardian or her Twitter feed.  She is not a man and it's telling that when Hornberger encounters a name that he clearly doesn't recognize, his factory setting is to automatically assume it's a man.
 
I'm sorry Jacob Hornberger is so uninformed.  I'm sorry that he's unaware that Nouri is not the near Ghandi Hornberger wants him to be.  (Ghandi didn't run secret torture chambers.) Most of all, I'm sorry he's so foolish.  Throughout his column, he yammers away about how this is 'democracy' and now the Americans object.  No, democracy is not Nouri.  Nouri was not the choice of the Iraqi voter.  Iraqiya beat Nouri's State of Law.  There should have been no second term for Nouri.  But the White House wanted Nouri to have a second term.
 
John Barry observes in "'The Engame' Is A Well Researched, Highly Critical Look at U.S. Policy in Iraq" (Daily Beast):



Washington has little political and no military influence over these developments [in Iraq]. As Michael Gordon and Bernard Trainor charge in their ambitious new history of the Iraq war, The Endgame, Obama's administration sacrificed political influence by failing in 2010 to insist that the results of Iraq's first proper election be honored: "When the Obama administration acquiesced in the questionable judicial opinion that prevented Ayad Allawi's bloc, after it had won the most seats in 2010, from the first attempt at forming a new government, it undermined the prospects, however slim, for a compromise that might have led to a genuinely inclusive and cross-sectarian government."
 
 
Hornberger's never heard of that, never heard of Nussaibah Younis, never heard of Nouri's secret prisons apparently (well documented for many years now) and, again, assumed for some reason that the journalist had to be a man.  Don't mean to give Jacob Hornberger a shock here, but women have been journalists for many years now.  Anne Newport Royall dates back to the 1800s as a journalist, for example, and may be the first woman to interview a sitting president (John Quincy Adams) and, of course, the Dorothy Dix columns Elizabeth Meriweather Gilmer began writing in 1896; Dorothy Thomas who wrote the "On the Record" column for the New York Herald Tribune beginning in 1936 and many more. Since Nussaibah Younis wrote a column for the New York Times, let's note Pulitzer winner Anne O'Hare McCormick who moved to the Times in 1921 and to the paper's editorial pages in 1936.  She won the Pulitzer for foreign correspondence in 1937 for the columns she wrote.  In the New York Times obituary on O'Hare McCormick (May 30, 1954), the paper noted:
 
 
Although partisan spokesmen disagreed with the views she set down thrice weekly in her editorial-page column "Abroad," and in her editorials on the two other days of her work week, none ever failed to pay her tribute for sharp reporting and "coolheaded analysis of the news."
In the course of her brilliant newspaper career she became the expert the experts looked up to. Although she had no formal, professional training for newspaper work, she schooled herself for years before filing her first cable. The stature of her work was such that only a year after she joined the editorial page staff of The Times in 1936 she won the Pulitzer Prize for foreign correspondence. She was the second woman to receive a Pulitzer Prize in journalism.
 
 
In 2012, it should not be shocking that a woman would write a column.  As Stevie Nicks sings in "Two Kinds of Love" (written by Stevie, Rick Nowels and Rupert Hine, first appears on The Other Side of the Mirror), "Who in the world do you think that you are fooling? Well I've already done everything that you are doing."
 
The sexism involved is not a minor thing.  The same wing of Libertarians who insist upon seeing Nouri as the great man (emphasis on man) who will stand up to the US government tend to be the most sexist in their assumptions and in their remarks.  There's a certain radio host, for example, "ya'll," who twangs his undying love for Nouri based on something other than reality.  It may be sexual frustration or some desire to act out power-struggles in the bedroom, I have no idea.  But this is not an isolated case, this happens over and over with this sub-set of Libertarians.  And they give the larger group a bad name because many people think this is the Libertarian line on women.
 
In Iraq, Muhammed Abdulla (UPI) reports that kebab shops are being shut down in the Kurdistan Regional Government due to "uncleanliness and selling expired food."  People report not feeling it was safe to eat at the shops and one woman explained she found mice feces in a kibab. 
 
While the kibab shops are temporarily closed, polling stations will be opening in a few months.  Al Mada reports a date for provincial elections has been set: April 20, 2013.  KUNA reports that the United Nations Secretary-General's Special Envoy to Iraq, Martin Kobler, declared the news was welcome and "urged that civili society organizations [. . .] encourage and highlight the participation of all Iraqis, particularly women, in the coming elections."
 
Martin Kobler's the UN's Vanna White.  He can be found daily applauding anyone who steps up to the wheel for a spin.  He's got no real opinions to express on other issues like the rampant corruption in Iraq. 
 
UPI notes a new report says "al Qaeda is mounting a comeback in Iraq."  It's the latest quarterly report from the US Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction.  We covered it in yesterday's snapshot so today we'll note some reporting on it.  Sam Dagher and Ali A. Nabhan (Wall St. Journal) emphasize the corruption the report found "with almost $800 million flowing out of the country illegal each week."  All Headline News notes the millions "are being laundered abroad," according to the report.  David Isenberg (Huffington Post) adds, "Since 2004, the work of SIGIR's Investigations Directorate has resulted in 97 indictments, 75 convictions, and more than $180 million in court-ordered fines, forfeitures, and other monetary penalties."
 
 
From corruption to corrupted trust, US Ambassador to Iraq Robert S. Beecroft has only just started his job and already he's managed to destroy the trust of Iraqis.  As the ambassador, Beecroft is the face of America in Iraq.  In such a role, he needs to conduct himself in a manner that instills trust.  He made a fool of himself in today's news cycle as a result of telling Alsumaria yesterday that claims that there are US troops in Iraq are just unfounded, false rumors?  Al Mada also covers his statements.
 

Not only was Moqtada al-Sadr calling last week for US forces to leave Iraq, but Iraqis -- unlike Americans -- have read in their press in recent weeks about US troops going to Baghdad International Airport over the Syrian flights.  They've read about US troops going to the border Iraq shares with Syria.  In addition, earlier this year, a CIA or State Dept helicopter crashed in downtown Baghdad.  Yet again, the American press didn't care.  The Iraqi press was all over it and especially over the uniformed military -- that they identified as American troops -- that came along in a second helicopter and resecued the people in the first.  Not only was this covered by the Iraqi media but so were the subsequent statements by various MPs about American forces remaining in Iraq.

In addition to the 200 or so that guard US embassy staff, you have serveral hundred there as 'trainers' and assisting on weapons purchases. 

In December of last year, Ted Koppel reported on how all US forces would not be leaving Iraq in  a report he filed for Rock Center with Brian Williams (NBC):



MR. KOPPEL: I realize you can't go into it in any detail, but I would assume that there is a healthy CIA mission here. I would assume that JSOC may still be active in this country, the joint special operations. You've got FBI here. You've got DEA here. Can, can you give me sort of a, a menu of, of who all falls under your control?


 
AMB. JAMES JEFFREY: You're actually doing pretty well, were I authorized to talk about half of this stuff.


That report was all but ignored by the media in the US outside of NPR (Ted discussed it on Talk of the Nation).  But it got serious attention in Iraq.

September 26th, Tim Arango (New York Times) reported:

 
Iraq and the United States are negotiating an agreement that could result in the return of small units of American soldiers to Iraq on training missions. At the request of the Iraqi government, according to General Caslen, a unit of Army Special Operations soldiers was recently deployed to Iraq to advise on counterterrorism and help with intelligence.


With the exception of Tom Hayden's brief piece for The Nation, this was ignored in the US press.  But guess what press didn't ignore the article?

That's right, the Iraqi press.
In addition, Micah Zenko (Council on Foreign Relations) observed this month, "The United States currently has 225 troops, 530 security assistance team members, and over 4,000 contractors to equip and train Iraqi security forces via the Office of Security Cooperation Iraq."
 
So Beecroft did a really stupid thing insisting there were no US troops in Iraq.  Iraqis know better.  He now looks like a liar.
 
And it really wasn't the day for an American to look like a liar in Iraq.   All Iraq News reports Iraqis state they have found Israeli recording devices on the F-16s the US has supplied so far.  The Iraqi Air Force leadership has sent a letter objecting to the device to Lockheed Martin, manufacturers of the F-16s.  Fars News Agency adds, "Iraq's air force has found out Israeli company RADA has planted information recording systems in its F-16 fighters recently purchased from the American Lockheed Martin Company."
 
As it heats up and the US government strives to be seen as an honest broker, they have to do so as Beecroft made a statement that will strike many Iraqis as ridiculous including some who will feel that the lies continue even when the faces of the officials change.
 
Iraq Body Count counts 1 police officer killed yesterday in a Hit bombing.  AP reports 2 Ministry of Industry employees were shot dead today in Baghdad and 2 road construction workers were shot dead outside Mosul.
 
Turning to US television, Andrew Kirell (Mediaite -- link is text and video) notes on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno last night, Leno's opening monologue included, "'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' is back.  Not for gays in the military.  It's President Obama's new policy for questions about Libya: don't ask, don't tell!"  What happened in Libya?
 
Committee Chair Darrell Issa:  On September 11, 2012, four brave Americans serving their country were murdered by terrorists in Benghazi, Libya.  Tyrone Woods spent two decades as a Navy Seal serving multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Since 2010, he protected the American diplomatic personnel.  Tyrone leaves behind a widow and three children.   Glen Doherty, also a former Seal and an experienced paramedic, had served his country in both Iraq and Afghanistan.  His family and colleagues grieve today for his death.  Sean Smith, a communications specialist, joined the State Dept after six years in the United States Air Force.  Sean leaves behind a widow and two young children.  Ambassador Chris Stevens, a man I had known personally during his tours, US Ambassador to Libya, ventured into a volatile and dangerous situation as Libyans revolted against the long time Gaddafi regime.  He did so because he believed the people of Libya wanted and deserved the same things we have: freedom from tyranny. 
 
 
That's US House Rep Darrell Issa speaking at the House Oversight Committee (he is the Chair of the Committee) on October 10th.  We covered the hearing in the October 10th and October 11th snapshots -- a lot of people seem to 'know' what was said in that hearing but they weren't present and their 'facts' don't fit what unfolded in the hearing.  Issa's a Republican.  A lot of people want to reduce it to Republican or Democrat.  That's because a lot of people -- not the only ones -- asking questions are Republicans and a lot of people -- not the only ones -- screaming "LOOK THE OTHER WAY!" are Democrats.
 
Someone e-mailed to attack what I've written and insist that I'm wrong about what the State Dept knew and that I'm a Republican.  I'm a Democrat.  I know a great deal more about what the State Dept knows than what I've written here.  What I've written here has largely been what was put before Congress.  (In the days ahead of the hearing, I probably dropped hints.  I know Elaine did a post based on our discussion about what was going to come out in that hearing and she wrote it the night before the hearing. I assume that I probably dropped hints in entries here about what was coming out.)  Because you don't know something, that doesn't mean you scream, "Liar!"  I could care less what anyone thinks about me (I'm not campaigning for office and, as noted before, I function best in situations where I'm not loved).  But you've had ample time to find out what was said in the hearing.  The hearing should be archived and up at the House Oversight Committee's webpage so you should be able to stream it.  You may not like what the State Dept witnesses said but that doesn't mean that they said it.
 
As for my position being 'Republican' or something surprising, go back to July 26th.  I wrote "The threat against the US and the failure of 'trusted voices'."  The Islamic State of Iraq issued a threat to the American people and most US outlets didn't even report it.  Those who alluded to it later on called it "al Qaeda in Iraq."  Strange that a group linked to al Qaeda in Iraq can be called "al Qaeda" but the Benghazi suspects who are linked to al Qaeda?  Scotty Shane and other 'reporters' want to draw a line there. to insist, 'Don't call them al Qaeda!' -- while their own outlets refuse to use the term "Islamic State of Iraq" and instead call that "al Qaeda"?  Oh, yeah, let's pretend not to notice the hypocrisy there.  In the July 26th entry, I wrote the following:
 
 
Look at how the US press is failing.  There may be a threat to the US on domestic shores coming out of Iraq.  (There may not be.)  And the tape was released Sunday.  Where's the network television coverge.  At least Bennett and the Los Angeles Times covered the hearing. (And the Tribune is syndicating the story so you'll read it in various newspapers across the country.)   But where are the other news outlets doing their own coverage?
And where is their inernational news coverage?
Not the crap ass, Carrie Nations, rush to the scene of natural disaster and shed a few crocodile tears and wail "Oh, the humanity!" b.s. that the press specializes in but the real reporting that they were supposed to be doing, that they were supposed to return to, after 9/11.  Remember the 'never again' nonsense?  Remember how they were going to return to their roots?
Maybe they did, after all the roots of American journalism are tabloid journalism.
If there's another attack on US shores, the 'winners' are the conservatives in Iraq because, in their periodicals, they never forget the potential of another terrorist threat.  Should one be executed on US soil, they will have 'bragging rights' and be on the ground ready to discuss what happened, to explain how they had already been covering it and everyone else will largely be scrambling.  So who controls the narrative in that situation?
The right-wing.  And that is disgusting because it demonstrates that the left has not learned one damn thing from 9-11.  Who do we have that can speak as an authority if an attack happened at noon today?  Who at the opinion journals cover this?  No one.  The Nation can offer one useless piece of crap every two weeks but can't do a piece on safety and, as everyone should avhe realized after 9-11, a sense of safety is as important in the US as it is anywhere else.
The wallowing in fear after 9-11 allowed so much that is currently wrong with our country to take place.  That especially includes the PATRIOT Act and the rounding up of Muslims.  But there has been so much more.  And yet, on the left, we'd rather waste our space -- our limited space -- on some nonsense like lies about the death of a dog on a family vacation (I'm referring to the nonsense about Mitt Romney's dog -- nonsense that invaded the Senate yesterday) than address what matters.
The left really needs to grow the hell up and grasp that if terrorist attack in the US, the vast majority of Americans -- who don't fall into the left or right holding tanks -- are going to be in front of their TVs attempting to find out what's going on and they're not going to take seriously the musings of a 'Mad Professor' (to name one of many worthless Nation magazine columns) or the pith of the MSNBC no-stars.  In fact, they're going to remember all the stupid jokes the MSNBC 'anchors' (talk show hosts) have wasted everyone's time on when they could have been addressing reality.  I'm referring to the evening and prime time MSNBC shows.  I'm not talking about, for example,
Andrea Mitchell's show.  Andrea is a news reporter and usually knows what's actually news as opposed to what's the hype of the week.  But the rest?
You discredit yourself daily by being unable or unwilling to do anything other than pose as the latest Comedy Central hire.
 
That was two months before Benghazi.  I think my position was very clear.  And I'm not an authority on the topic but by default I have become one of the main left voices.  Ruth's another.  I don't think Larry Johnson identifies as left (No Quarter).  If he does, he's certainly more knowledgable on the topic than I am.  But these are serious issues and for all the money wasted on non-think tanks for the left, we don't have people stepping up and addressing the serious issues.  I cannot be the left voice against terrorism.  We're all in trouble if that comes to pass.  But I can and have pointed out it is past time that voices step up in this area.
 
Exactly what I said was going to happen has.  We've got smarmy little MSNBC hosts offering snark and being pompous.  And Americans wants answers.  They see the right wing asking questions.  They see the left dimissing it.  It's time for left leadership on this issue, there is none currently.  Dismissing it and attacking the right for asking questions or leveling charges is not addressing the topic.  It is a serious topic, it goes to all of our safety.  We can be snarky and bitchy and useless.  But you damn well better get it through your head just once, if we were better prepared on the left on September 10, 2001, the fear mongering wouldn't have worked, the PATRIOT Act wouldn't have been pushed through (by Democrats and Republicans) because we would learn to talk seriously about terrorism and its dangers in a manner that offered perspective and information, not fear and fright.  Fear and fright is what drove the country into the mess that it has still not emerged from.  So all you idiots who think snark and hypocrisy is going give you 'pull' with viewers if and when there's another 9-11 on US soil, you better think again because all you're doing is saying to the American people -- over and over -- "I'm too stupid to discuss serious, weighty issues like this.  But let me offer some snark and let's giggle."
 
I've covered Benghazi seriously.  If I can do it, anyone should be able to.
 
Eternal failed candidate for public office James P. Thurber Jr. (Mercury News) wants everyone lining up behind Barack.  He leaves out that he's a Democrat who's run for public office (repeatedly -- always a failed campaign, one of the biggest jokes coming out of California from either major party).  Thank you, Thurber, for that totalarian message.  I'm sure that Republicans will pull out this nonsense at some point in the future to justify whatever Republican president wants.  In the meantime, on the left, we're not supposed to be marching behind anyone.  We're supposed to be citizens in a democracy who demand sunlight and transparency.  Think Progress likes to pretend it's left, but it's just a schill for the Democratic Party.  Always remember, Congressional Democrats were exploring impeaching Bully Boy Bush ahead of the invasion of Iraq. Think Progress is part of the Center for American Progress whose first President and CEO was John Podesta.  Podesta's the one who threw the fit when Ramsey Clark and others were explaining how to go about impeachment if Bush insisted upon invading Iraq.  Podesta went nuts and started screaming that impeachment could not happen, it would hurt election efforts! Podesta went nuts when asked if Iraqi lives mattered at all and declared that his concern was getting Democrats into public office.  In other words, there are no ethics for the Center for American Progress or for Think Progress.  They are whores.  Complete whores.  And they have blood on their hands, the blood of the Iraqi people.
 
With that in mind, Hayes Brown posts video of and offers praise for Condi Rice.  She thinks people need to wait and see what investigations find out.  It's a "reasoned response," Hayes Brown wants you to know. 
 
It's no such thing.  And shame on Brown.  One of the few illuminating moments of the public testimony that the 9-11 Commission recieved was when Condi Rice appeared before them and played her "No one could have guessed" card yet again.  No one could have guessed that terrorists would hijack jets and fly them into a building.  No one could have known, Condi insisted covering her own ass (she was National Security Adviser at the time of the attacks).  After she had sung that tired song several times too many, Commissioner Richard Ben-Veniste asked her if she recalled the title of the August 6, 2001 Presidential Daily Briefing. Condi infamously responded, "I believe the title was 'Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States'."
 
No surprise, she was wrong even on that: Title was "Bin Laden Determined to Strike Inside the US."  Condi is the last one anyone should cite on topics of terrorism and the public's right to know.   Think Progress cites her because they're playing politics.  To them, this is just about making sure Barack doesn't face any tough questions.
 
Leaving partisans (Thurber) and a partisan site (Think Progress) for a real media site by a journalist who stirves to be objective, Rachel Manteuffel of the Washington Post, your little tirade does no one any good.  It didn't reach comical.  It certainly wasn't factual.  No one who regularly reads the Washington Post can claim that the paper has ignored Benghazi or refused to call it a terrorist attack.  That 'honor' would go to PBS' The NewsHour (refer to Ruth's many posts on that, she monitored it repeatedly).  But are people asking what you imply they are as you try to be funny?  Or are they saying, "Yes, there's been Benghazi coverage but it's been dismissive and unquestioning."  If it's the latter, I know the circulation figures and the Post can't afford to run off any readers -- online or in print.  So if it's the latter, you might try leaving stand up to comedians and actually addressing what criticisms the e-mails and phone messages are making. For the record, my opinion, the Post has done a better job of covering this issue than any daily newspaper.  Manteuffel should have been able to have made that case with examples but she was too busy writing a column that was beneath her and attempting to be humorous when she should have been doing the job she was hired for.  And if that assessment hurts feelings at the newspapers, sorry but I didn't get out of bed this morning to kiss boo-boos and make everything all better.
 
 
 
As I end my comments I have some suggestions for those who seek to exploit the ambassador's death for political purposes. First of all they should heed the admonitions of Stevens' parents: The attempts to "place blame are unproductive" and the blatant attempts to exploit the ambassadors death are "abhorrent." We all would be better off if we returned to the bygone ethic of past leaders who sought to unite our nation on issues of foreign policy, not divide it. I hope, if nothing else, these tragic events make those exploitative voices reconsider their efforts to diminish the amount of resources our country commits to its foreign service.
 
 
Well justice is blind. Which is how an idiot writes 19 paragraphs on Chris Stevens and the tragedy.  You know what, it was a tragedy for Glen Doherty as well -- but the dumb ass judge doesn't mention Glen.  It was a tragedy for Tyrone Woods -- again, someone the judge never makes time to mention.  It was a tragedy for Sean Smith -- yes, he's another ignored by the judge.
 
 
Betty addressed this issue last night with another idiot.  Don't think Americans don't see what happens before their eyes.  You show up with bad columns filled with Chris Stevens.  You use him as a club to silence others while pretending you care about what happened last month.
 
But if you cared, it takes only a few seconds to type the names: Glen Doherty, Sean Smith and Tyrone Woods.  Those three man died in the attacks.  It wasn't just Chris Stevens.  And America knows that and when they watch you render invisible those three men, they know you're full of s**t and that you're the one playing politics because if you honestly gave a damn, no one would ever be pointing out that you refuse to name all four of the victims.
 
The Dumb Ass in the Robe wants you to listen to the parent of the fallen.  As long as the parent is Chris Stevens.  Don't listen to Charles Woods who feels the government is lying to him about what happened to his son Tyrone.  Don't listen to Pat Smith who feels the White House has refused to give her an honest answer about what happened to her son Sean.  And certainly don't listen to Sean's father Ryan Smith who becomes the latest parent to speak out today.  Tara Dodrill (Inquisitr) reports:
 
The grieving father is also a former US Marine. He wants the Obama administration to explain what happened at Benghazi and why multiple calls for help were denied, according to WTSP News. Ryan Smith had this to say during an interview with the news station:
"They haven't done anything. My son and them dialed 911 for help and they wouldn't help them. I want whoever did this, whoever didn't answer their phone, I want them brought to justice too. He was murdered. He was murdered. I want them to get the people who did this."
Smith contacted Florida Representative C.W. Bill Young and asked for help getting answers to his questions. Young reportedly became a willing ally in the father's struggle to garner more information.
 
But, of course, Ryan Smith doesn't matter.  Pat Smith doesn't matter.  Charles Woods doesn't matter.  Because their sons are rendered "three other people" when the press writes yet another piece about Chris Stevens.  Don't think the American people don't notice the way Tyrone Woods, Sean Smith and Glen Doherty are ignored -- not even mentioned by name -- in article after article pretending to be about the Benghazi attaack.
 
Four Americans died in the September 11, 2012 attack.  Chris Stevens' death is no more tragic and no more upsetting than the deaths of Glen Doherty, Sean Smith and Tyrone Woods.  And all four were killed because they were Americans.  This was a terrorist attack.  It has national security implications.  There is no need for Americans to sit silently on the sidelines and pretend that -- for the first time ever -- the government is going to function just fine without any citizen oversight.  Questions are being asked because they need to be. 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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