Saturday, October 12, 2013

What is the White woman fascination with Kristof?

As C.I. points out in the snapshot, Ms. posted a stupid post on International Day of the Girl Child where the only 'authority' cited was a man.  On top of that, it was Nicholas Kristof.

What is it with some really stupid White women and their fascination with Kristof?

Women of color are a little smarter as a group (though it's not all White women who've been fooled by Kristof -- only some) and maybe that's because we long ago learned to be wary of the White male 'savior.'  Nicky K is a joke and he is insulting to women's autonomy.

I saw the idiotic special he did on PBS.  I didn't blame the actresses -- as a rule, they're to quick to act on emotion and not logic.  I did blame Gloria Steinem.

Nicky K is the savior which requires that women of color being 'saved' are stripped of their autonomy.

Myself?  I wouldn't want to be a sex worker.  But I was fortunate enough to go to college and be born in a country with a few more choices for women.

If I were born in Columbia?

I have no idea.  I might be a sex worker.

And if I were, I certainly wouldn't need Nicky K -- or Gloria Steinem -- sitting in judgment on me.

The thing the Cult of Nicky refuses to grasp is that women's choices are women's choices.  We do the best we can in the environment we are.

Criminalizing prostitution in Cambodia has not helped sex workers. (See Kat's "Racist puritan Nicholas Kristof praised by Ms. magazine.")  It's a western solution imposed upon another culture.  I will -- as we all should -- scream for the right of any oppressed woman anywhere to have autonomy but that means they decide -- that does not mean their decisions are made for them by know-nothing westerners.


Added: Elaine covered this topic in "They finally found Gloria Steinem's successor!" -- I just started reading the rest of last night's post and saw Elaine's (and loved it) and came back in to note it.

Okay, this is in the snapshot too:



This week, community evening bloggers had a theme post.  In 2009, at Third, we named Bette Davis "The Best Actress of the 20th Century" and this week's theme was favorite Bette Davis film.  These were the posts and picks:  Ann's "Old Acquaintance," Betty's "Whatever Happened To Baby Jane?," Trina's "The Letter," Rebecca's "beyond the forest," Ruth's "Dark Victory," Kat's "All About Eve," Marcia's "Jezebel," Stan's "Dead Ringer," Elaine's "Now, Voyager," Mike's "The Little Foxes"  and Isaiah's "Working It For BP (Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte)."



I hope you read them all, they were really something.

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


Friday, October 11, 2013. Chaos and violence continue, still no elections law, protests continue,  so called 'honor' killings continue, we take another look at yesterday's VA hearing, and more.



This week's Global Research News Hour (link is audio) takes a look at the Iraq War in terms of violence, law, Depleted Uranium and more.  The guests are former United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator Denis Halliday, international law and human rights expert professor Francis A. Boyle and Lawyers Against The War's Gail Davidson.  Though forgotten by many, a number of US War Resisters went to Canada.  Some, like Darrell Anderson, elected to return to the US.  Others, like Robin Long and Kim Rivera, were forced out.  Many remain in Canada -- like Joshua Key, Jeremy Hinzman and Kyle Snyder -- in Canada.  Boyle stated that Canada should allow war resisters to remain in Canada.


Francis A. Boyle:  Staff Sgt Camilo Mejia who was the very first member of the US armed forces to refuse to participate in Iraq because he was there and he saw that when he captured insurgents and turned them over to MPs they were being tortured and he concluded he could no longer in good faith and conscience aid and abet torture and war crimes  And after a, I regret to say, we couldn't get him off.   After a kangaroo court proceeding, he did get eight months -- he was facing two years -- and we did get him adopted a prisoner of conscious by Amnesty International -- which shows you who was right here, Staff Sgt Camilo Mejia.  And unfortunately Staff Sgt -- to show you the perversity here of military court-martial proceedings in the United States -- Staff Sgt Mejia spent more time in prison for his courageous principles -- refusing to participate in torture, speaking out about it -- than many of the torturers who were either let off or got off or got less time than he did. So I think that shows you the sheer perversity of these military court-martial proceedings in the United States.  And precisely why Canada must not and should not force out or turn over any GI resisters who have come up there to Canada as a matter of principle and conscious.


Camilo Mejia served in the Iraq War.  He was ending his time of service when he was stop-lossed.  Camilo wasn't then a US citizen and legally could not be stop-lossed.  These and many more issues were ignored by the 'judge.'  Camilo did not go to Canada.  He is the first veteran of the Iraq War to publicly refuse to continue serving in the illegal war.  The first member of the military to refuse to serve in the illegal war was Stephen Funk.  Funk refused to go to Iraq and never went. 

It's a strong hour and worth listening to and Boyle and the program deserve strong credit for remembering the war resisters in Canada.

Remembering?





  • Yeah, look what just went up.

    Is Ms. really going to remember Afghanistan?

    Please.  They're not going into all the 'leaders' of the feminist movement who met with Bully Boy Bush and cheerleaded the Afghanistan  War.  They won't even name one.  (I will: Eleanor Smeal.)

    Can it get any worse?

    Of course it can.  Marzia Nawrozi chooses to open her piece quoting 'noted' 'feminist' and proud woman Nicholas Kirstof.  WTF?

    And let's remember, Afghanistan women were used as a pretext to start a war.  That's why there's never been any improvement for Afghan women in that country.

    So stop perpetuating the lie. And Nawrozi, learn your damn history.  You are not the first woman in Afghanistan to get a college degree or even part of the first wave.  How sad that you act as if your country's history began in 2001.  Are you working for the US government?  Are you being paid for this whorish propaganda?

    I know several Afghan feminists and they already felt betrayed by Ms. and feminist 'leaders' in this country.  That little ignorant blog post?  It's only going to add to suspicions that, in the US, the feminist movement is government controlled.


    Let's also remember that 14 hours ago I wrote about International Day of the Girl Child -- "Girl Child" -- I'm not crazy about the title but that's what UNICEF went with so maybe Ms. magazine should stop trying to change the title of the day?  And maybe they should post during the day and not as the day is ending to 'alert' people to what already passed.  Trina and Ann  have rightly called the Ms. blog out for fawning over an anti-choice, anti-abortion homophobe.  Now we've got a woman who thinks the height of feminism is to quote Nicholas Kirstof.

    It's not going to play.  Too many of us have given too much to stay silent while the Ms. blog gets worse every day and now seems to think feminism is about glorifying men.  Any writer for Ms. needing to cite an authority should find a woman or just say, "I'm a dumb useless bitch who will stab other women in the back because I'm too damn lazy to support other women."  I'm not in the damn mood.  For those who will sigh, "Oh, she's Afghan!"  -- yeah and I'm damn well aware of which Afghan women Ms. will publish and which they won't.  Again, I'm not in the damn mood.  International Day of the Girl Child was not created to glorify a man -- not even the vagina-envying Nicholas Kirstof.   Remember, for War Hawk Whores of the female gender, Nicky K is their patron saint.  We've warned you before, we'll warn you again.

    Away from propaganda, in the real world, Wassim Bassem (Al-Monitor) reports:


    Although Ahmad is in prison, he considers what happened an “honor.” Friends and relatives see him as a courageous man who washed away the shame of a “deviant” girl who strayed from religious and tribal values.
    In an interview with Al-Monitor, social worker Qassem Hussein says honor crimes are still legally applicable to many girls who declare their “forbidden” feelings for foreign men, not only in Iraq, but also in other Arab and Muslim countries. 
    However, what is exceptional about this crime in Iraq is that it has become more deeply rooted than ever, although the opposite should have happened, given social and cultural developments and media openness, as Qassem notes.
    He adds that the commonality between victims — who number in the dozens yearly — in Iraq and other countries is the barbaric ways they are killed to “settle” the matter. They are strangled, stabbed with a knife or sword, shot or set on fire. Then, the authorities are notified that the victim has committed suicide.
    Feminist activist Maeda Abdel Hussein told Al-Monitor, “The most dangerous aspect of the phenomenon is its religious, social and legal legitimacy.” 
    She added, “The secrecy of the crimes makes them go unseen, thus contributing to their continuous occurrence as they do not stir public uproar. The perpetrator commits his crime slowly, with encouragement from the people concerned who fear for their honor and the reputation of their tribe, pushing the person to commit murder.”

     

    'Honor' killings are not vanishing.  They're increasing.  Part of the reason is the Iraqi 'judicial' system refuses to punish the killers.  Just another example of the realities Iraqi women have to deal with.  In their most recent gender equality profile of Iraq, UNICEF notes:




    Political representation.
    Women occupy 82 out of 325 seats in the lower house of parliament following the 2010 elections (25 per cent of the seats). Women gained the right to vote and stand for election in 1980, and that same year the first woman was elected to parliament. Iraq has introduced legislated quotas to increase women’s representation in the lower house of parliament. The electoral laws that govern the provincial elections also include provisions to encourage women’s representation in provincial councils. Among the country’s 18 governors there are no women.
    Representation in the legal system.
    Women in Iraq have been active in the legal field since the 1920s. The first female judge was appointed in 1959. In 1976 women were admitted to the Judicial Institute in Bagdad. In 1984 Saddam Hussein stopped women from entering the Judicial Institute and the women that were serving as judges at the time, were retrained. Women could still work as lawyers and prosecutors. Since the fall of the Ba’athist regime in 2003 women are again serving as judges, but they are few in number (as of 2006 there were 16 female judges in the whole of Iraq).
    Civil society.
    Women’s organisations in Iraq face security risks and have faced bureaucratic obstacles in, for example, establishing shelters for battered women. Yet women’s rights activists have been successful in blocking the implementation of the constitutional article which would allow personal status matters to be governed by the rules of each different religious group. NGOs are making efforts to increase women’s civic participation but the difficult security situation in Iraq and the lack of protection against violence limit women’s participation.


    On political representation, three things.  First, as Iraqi MP Susan al-Saad pointed out earlier this week, the quota, in 2010, was supposed to be in addition to women who ran openly for seats in Parliament.  Instead, these women were later included in the quota thereby lowering women's representation.  Iraq is supposed to hold parliamentary elections at the end of April.  al-Saad is saying this practice does not need to repeat. 

    Second, it should also be noted that Nouri built his 2010 cabinet without a single woman in it -- this despite the vocal objections of women across Iraq.  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 stated, "I reached to the point that I will never be able to help the women."  Nouri didn't care for Nawal al-Samarraie or the needed attention she raised.

    This animosity 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).

    Oh, wait Bushra!  A woman.

    No.  Yes, she's a woman but she has no position. She's a token and a flunky.  Nouri bribed to get his second term and that included overpromising on the Cabinet so he had to increase the number of people serving on the Cabinet (from 31 in his first term to 42).  Bushra Hussein Saleh is Minister of State -- which sounds great.  But Yassin Mohammed Ahmed is . . . Minister of State.  And Hassan Radia sl-Sari is . . . Minister of State.  And Abd al-Mahdi al-Mutayri is . . . Minister of State.  And the three men and Bushra are trumped by Safa al-Safi whose title is Minister of State for Parliament Affairs and is actually of a higher rank than the other three men and Bushra.  (Saf al-Safi is alo a member of Nouri's State of Law coalition.)


    Kurdish MP Ala Talabani:  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.


    But Nouri did just that, having Hoshyar Zebari fill the role of Minister of Women's Affairs (he was 'acting' -- even Nouri knew not to nominate him to Parliament).  Zebari only 'left' the post when Nouri was able to find the great gender traitor Ibithal al-Zaydi.

    This little creep  was greeted with outcries when she declared that Iraqi women had no rights.   As noted in the February 3, 2012 snapshot:




    Reuters notes Halima Dakhil who pays $210 for rent for her and her children. And that Iraqi widows receive $85 a month from the government and $13 a month for each child.  This is ridiculous and shameful as Nouri spends billons on toys for warfare.  Gender-traitor Ibtihal al-Zaidi shows up in the story to insist, "I agree it is little.  But there is a real plan to increase these benefits."  Let's hope all the widows and children living in poverty can afford to wait for al-Zaidi to get around to addressing the "real plan."
     Who is this woman who goes along making excuses?  Now in his second term as prime minister, Nouri appointed his stooge, Ibtihal al-Zaidi, to be Minister of the State for Women's Affairs. . She's gotten herself in trouble in the last weeks in Iraq. She's declared that she doesn't believe in equality, that Iraqi women need their husband's permission before doing anything (presumably their son's or father's permission if they're widowed, divorced or unmarried) and has come up with a little dress code for Iraqi women employed by the government. Al Mada reports today that MP Safia al-Suhail is calling the gender traitor out and asking that al-Zaidi appear before Parliament to explain this dress code (which bans certain skirts, t-shirts and sneakers among other items -- but only for women) and al-Suhail points out that al-Zaidi's remarks are troubling and run contrary to the oath the Minister of Women's Affairs took when assuming her office.
    February 14, 2012, Mufid Abdulla (Kurdistan Tribune) reported:


    Last week Abtihal Alzidi, the Iraqi minister for women’s affairs in Nuri Al Maliki’s government, told a local news agency that she does not believe in equality between women and men in Iraq.
    ”I am against the equality between men and woman”, she said. “If women are equal to men they are going to lose a lot. Up to now I am with the power of the man in society. If I go out of my house, I have to tell my husband where I am going. This does not mean diluting the role of woman in society but, on the contrary, it will bring more power to the woman as a mother who looks after their kids and brings up their children”.
    This statement has caused a lot of outrage. MP Mrs Hala Safia asked the deputy of the Iraqi parliament to call the women’s affairs minister to parliament for questioning. Hala Safia’s father was assassinated by Saddam’s thugs in Beirut in the 1980s and she has since become active in politics, working with Dr Alawi’s Aleraqia list. She is married to the Kurdish human rights activist Bhaktyar Ameen.
    The Organisation for Woman’s Emancipation in Iraq also condemned Abtihal Alzidi’s outrageous statement and called for the dissolution of her ministerial department.

    Let's be real clear on something.  We covered when it happened and were only able to do that because I read Arabic.  English language media treated it as a non-story.  They never really addressed what the gender-traitor said, that it was against Iraqi law or that it was a betrayal of Iraqi women.

    Since the US invasion of Iraq, there has been no female prime minister, no female president or female vice president.  It briefly appeared a woman might be vice president (February 2011).  President Jalal Talabani was calling for the vice presidency to be expanded to four people (after it had already been expanded to three).  But that effort went nowhere.

    Third,as noted in the September 27th snapshot,  "Al Mada reports feminists in the province are planning to form a collective to run for office with the goal of advancing women in all fields.  Dad Hasnawi tells Al Mada that the slate would be the first of its kind in the province, in Iraq and in the Arab world and that it would embrace women's issues."

    These are realities for women in Iraq where life is pretty damn bad but the strong Iraqi women continue fighting for a better life for themselves and the women who will follow them. 


    As noted in yesterday's snapshot, the 42 executions in Iraq this week brought the total to 132 for the year so far, three more than were executed in Iraq in 2012.  UN Humans Rights Office spokesperson Rupert Colville declared today:


    The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay has repeatedly stressed, after earlier mass executions in 2012 and 2013, that the justice system in Iraq is "too seriously flawed to warrant even a limited application of the death penalty, let alone dozens of executions at a time." Large-scale executions of the sort that have been carried out on a number of occasions over the past two years in Iraq are not only obscene and inhuman, they are most probably in contravention of international law. They are also undermining efforts to build a more stable, less violent society in Iraq. The mass execution carried out over the past two days is particularly perverse given that yesterday was World Day Against the Death Penalty.


    France's Foreign Ministry issued the following statement:


    France condemns the execution of 42 people in the last two days in Iraq and expresses its deep concern at the scale of the use of the death penalty in this country. These executions contradict the global trend toward the abolition of this inhuman punishment, the deterrent value of which has never been established. France again urges the Iraqi authorities to immediately establish a moratorium on the death penalty with a view toward its definitive abolition.
    The parliamentary seminar hosted by France this week on the occasion of the World Day against the Death Penalty brought together more than 40 representatives from the North Africa/Middle East region, including Iraqi parliamentarians. It provided an opportunity to reaffirm the universal nature of this priority.
    In October 2012, Mr. Laurent Fabius launched a campaign for the universal abolition of the death penalty. France expresses its firm and constant opposition to the death penalty everywhere and under all circumstances.

     



    Through yesterday, Iraq Body Count counts 362 violent deaths so far this month.   What might make violence increase?  How about Nouri al-Maliki stripping security chiefs of their powers?  Kitabat reports Nouri's doing just that, that he doesn't trust them and is giving their powers to his oldest son Ahmed.  Wow.  That'll really lower morale.

    Today's violence? 

    All Iraq News reports 1 man (alleged to be former al Qaeda) was shot dead in Ramadi, 1 person distributing food was shot dead in Falluja,  and 1 police officer was shot dead In MosulSameer N. Yacoub (AP) reports a Baghdad bombing targeting a car lot claimed 3 lives and left nine people injured.  Press TV reports a Tuz Khormato market bombing left 3 people dead and eleven injured.   Alsumaria adds that late last night 1 doctor was shot dead in Mosul.  NINA notes an armed Shirqat attack left two police officers injured, a Shirqat car bombing left seven people injured,  an Imam was also assassinated in Mosul, 2 people were shot dead in downtown Baquba, 1 person was shot dead leaving his Baquba home and a Tikrit bombing left one police officer injured.


    We've been noting the failure of the Parliament to pass a voting law and how Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujiaif has declared that parliamentary elections will take place April 30th and, if necessary, will be conducted under an old elections law.  At the Institute for the Study of War Iraq Updates, Ahmed Ali offers these thoughts:




    The date for Iraq’s national parliamentary elections has been set for April 30, 2014. However, the law governing the conduct of these elections has not yet been passed. Debate over this law provides a venue for major political groups to establish conditions that will favor them in the upcoming elections. The debate also has the potential to cause tensions between the Iraqi Arabs and Iraqi Kurds. If these tensions become too heated, they risk providing an opening for Al-Qaeda in Iraq.
    On October 7, the Iraqi parliament, known as the Council of Representatives (CoR), voted to set April 30, 2014 as the latest date to hold the 2014 national parliamentary elections, which will determine who is the next prime minister. This vote came after several rounds of delays in voting on a law that will govern the conduct of the elections. In its statement, the CoR indicated that if an elections law is not passed by October 30, 2013 it will initiate “legislative measures” to amend a previous elections law.
    The passage of an elections law in Iraq is an opportune moment for Iraq’s various political groups to establish conditions that will favor them in the upcoming contest. The process normally takes extensive negotiations and attempts to build consensus among the various factions. The negotiations over the 2014 elections law will follow a similar process. However, they are shaped by the aftermath of the 2013 provincial elections and are currently characterized by renewed political tensions between the Iraqi Arabs and Iraqi Kurds.
    Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s State of Law Alliance (SLA) underperformed in the provincial elections and has since been reaching out to the Iraqi Kurds. Thus, the debate over the elections law is a test for the rapprochement between Baghdad and Irbil. Meanwhile, the Iraqi Sunni electorate was fragmented in ways that benefited the Iraqi Kurds, especially in Ninewa province.  At the moment, Iraqi Sunnis view the elections law debate as an opportunity to regain unity on important issues such as elections in Kirkuk.




    Next week will be the tenth month of continuous protests in Iraq -- not that this will be noted by the non-Iraqi press.  The foreign press ignores over nine months of continuous protests.  Protests have been taking place non-stop since December 21stIraqi Spring MC reports that protests took place in Samarra today, BaqubaJalawlaFalluja, Ramadi, Mosul, and Balad Ruz.   NINA notes:

    Sheikh Mohammed Fayyad, one of the organizers of Anbar sit-ins ,said to NINA reporter : "The citizens participated in the prayers that held in the courtyard northern Ramadi and eastern Fallujah cities , stressing that the goal of this trickle is to send one again a message to the governing in Baghdad that our demonstrations are peaceful and backed by citizens deep conviction.
    Gwynne Dyer (Columbus Dispatch) notes today:


    Mass Sunni protests began almost a year ago, and until last April they were almost entirely nonviolent. Sunni terrorists belonging to al-Qaida-related jihadist organizations — another byproduct of the American occupation — were killing about 300 Shias a month, but they had little support in the broader Sunni community.
    Then in April the Iraqi (i.e. Shia) army raided a peaceful protest camp in Hawijah, killing about 50 Sunnis, and suddenly the violent minority of Sunni jihadists came to be seen as defenders of Sunni rights.



    Dyer's referring to the  April 23rd massacre of a sit-in in Hawija which resulted from  Nouri's federal forces storming in.  Alsumaria noted Kirkuk's Department of Health (Hawija is in Kirkuk)  announced 50 activists have died and 110 were injured in the assault.   AFP reported 53 dead for several days now -- indicating that some of the wounded did not recover.  UNICEF noted that the dead included 8 children (twelve more were injured).



    Yesterday's "Iraq snapshot" covered the House Veterans Affairs Subcommittee on Health where widows Heather McDonald and Kimberly Stowe Green explained how the VA's 'treatment' (over medication) killed their husbands Scott McDonald and Ricky Green.   For those who missed it, we'll note some of Heather McDonald's testimony.



    Heather McDonald:  For 15 years, he served honorably in the uniform of his country and was proud to serve as a UH-60 Blackhawk mechanic and Crew Chief for MEDEVAC Unit.  Bosnia, Panama, Iraq and Afghanistan are only a few of the war-torn countries he dedicated his life to changing.  In his career, he experienced heartache, unimaginable violence, death and the overall devastating effects of war.  He saw many of his fellow soldiers give the ultimate sacrifice -- narrowly escaping many times himself.  He loved his country and what the American flag stands for.  He was a brothers in arms to thousands of fellow soldiers and a truly remarkable man that never met a stranger.  Scott had larger than life expectations for his children.  And because of his commitment and honor, in January of 2011, we married.  On April 30, 2011, Scott's career with the army came full circle and he hung his uniform up for good. He began seeking the treatment from the VA for back pain and mental illness.  The Chalmers P. Wylie VA Ambulatory Care Center in Columbus, Ohio immediately started prescribing medications beginning with ibuprofen, nurofen, meloxicam and graduating to vicodin, klonopin, celexa, Zoloft, valium and Percocet.  This is where the rollercoaster began.  My husband was taking up to 15 pills a day within the first six months of treatment.  Every time Scott came home from an appointment, he had different medications, different dosages, different directions on how to take them.  And progressively over the course of a year and a half of starting his treatment, the medications had changed so many times by adding and changing that Scott became changing.  We researched many of the drugs that he was prescribed online and saw the dangerous interactions that they cause.  Yet my husband was conditioned to follow orders.  And he did so.  On September 12th of 2012, Scott attended another of his scheduled appointments.  This was when they added Percocet.  This was a much different medication than he was used to taking and which they prescribed him not to exceed 3,000 milligrams of ibu -- acetaminophen, I'm sorry.  Again, my husband followed orders.  Approximately zero-one-hundred hours on the 13th of September, I arrived home from my job.  I found Scott disoriented and very lethargic.  I woke him and asked him if he was okay?  He told me he was fine and that he just took what the doctors told him to take. At approximately zero-seven-thirty, I found my husband cold and unresponsive.  At 35-years-old, this father of two was gone.  I ask  myself why everyday.  And when I ask the VA why more tests weren't performed to make sure he was healthy enough, they responded by saying: "It is not routine to evaluate our soldiers' pain medication distribution."  A simple "I am in pain" constitutes a narcotic and a "This isn't working" constitutes a change in medication.  I was sickened and disturbed by their response and I decided at that point no one else should die.  I have no doubt that if the proper tests were being performed on our men and women, I would not be here today -- because my husband would be.  I have no doubt that for thousands of the soldiers that have fallen after coming home from war would be here today.  [Wiping tears] I'm sorry.  As the silent soldiers and spouses of our military members. we almost expect the possibility that they won't come home from war.  But we cannot accept that they fight there for their country and after the battle is over they come home and die.



    As Ava noted last night in "The VA killed Heather McDonald's husband (Ava)," the press had a real problem with those women's testimony and rushed to tie pretty bows around it as if widowhood was a wonderful vista to new career choices.  Today, some of those same outlets (NextGov, for example) appear to have realized how horrible their reporting was and gotten a little more honest.  Wally covered the second panel in "VA bullied doctors into prescribing narcotics" -- where two of the three medical witnesses shared that the VA compelled doctors to over-medicate and that whistle-blowing got you fired.  From yesterday's snapshot:



    You can't just dispense pain killers like they're Flintstone chewables or candy out of Pez dispenser.  This attitude was overcome long ago everywhere except the VA.  It's why former First Lady Betty Ford went public and set up The Betty Ford Center.
    When it comes to addiction, there may not be a more vulnerable population than veterans.  The reasons for that are they are taught to mask the pain while serving and, as both widows pointed out, to follow orders -- the following of orders often carries over the medical treatment from the VA.  The VA doctors are prescribing like it's 1947 and, as a society, we've never heard of pain killer addiction. 
    People in pain need help and need treatment.  They do not, however, need to develop an addiction because a bunch of lazy or quack doctors don't want to do their job.
    Under Shinseki, the prescriptions are killing veterans, yes.  But also under Shinseki, the prescriptions are resulting in addictions that will have be treated years from now.
    That's unacceptable -- from a health standpoint and from a taxpayer standpoint. 
    Shinseki is supposed to be on top of things.  He shouldn't need a Congressional hearing to take action.
    It was really distressing to hear Josh Green detail his objections to the pills and how, when he would raise these objections, he would be prescribed more pills.
    Iraq and Afghanistan War veteran Justin Minyard suffered from chronic back pain (tied to a 72 hour continues shift at the Pentagon, searching for any survivors after the Pentagon was hit on 9-11).  The existing back pain was amplified by his later service in Iraq and Afghanistan.  The treatment?  Pills, pills and more pills.  That's all the VA offered him.  He explained, "My life revolved around when is my next pill, when is my next dosage increase and when can I get my next refill?  At my worst point I was taking enough pills daily to treat four terminally ill cancer patients."
    Repeating, this isn't just medical malpractice with effects people see and feel now, this is medical malpractice that is turning veterans into addicts.  That is unacceptable.  Civilian doctors prescribing in this manner risk loss of license and criminal charges but the VA just looks the other way. The VA motto appears to be: "Addiction gets you out the door!"



    A number of e-mails asked about the over-prescribing and insisted this would trigger state investigations.  No. 

    This was addressed in the hearing by Dr. Pamela Gray.  In the civilian world, to practice medicine in Rhode Island, you need to be state licensed in Rhode Island.  In the VA world?  If you are licensed in any state, the VA circumvents the rules and allows you to practice in any state. So you're licensed in Georgia, hired by the VA and assigned to Oregon, you don't have to get licensed in Oregon and the state board has no say over your actions.

    One of the easiest ways to improve and ensure functional treatment at the VA would be to require the doctors to meet the same conditions and guidelines required of civilian doctors.  Eric Shinseki could issue an order to make that happen.  Or Congress could pass a law.  But something needs to happen.

    Kat's "The fake apology from Dr. Jesse" covered the third panel, the VA's Dr. Robert Jesse.  No, his apology did not seem for real.  It was further cheapened by his defensive nature and obvious inability to take accountability on behalf of the VA.


    This week, community evening bloggers had a theme post.  In 2009, at Third, we named Bette Davis "The Best Actress of the 20th Century" and this week's theme was favorite Bette Davis film.  These were the posts and picks:  Ann's "Old Acquaintance," Betty's "Whatever Happened To Baby Jane?," Trina's "The Letter," Rebecca's "beyond the forest," Ruth's "Dark Victory," Kat's "All About Eve," Marcia's "Jezebel," Stan's "Dead Ringer," Elaine's "Now, Voyager," Mike's "The Little Foxes"  and Isaiah's "Working It For BP (Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte)."



















    all iraq news




    Thursday, October 10, 2013

    The Mindy Project

    The Mindy Project airs Tuesdays on Fox.

    Mindy and Casey broke up last episode.  At one point, she tries to order Chinese but is told that she doesn't meet the minimum for a delivery order and she cries that she used to meet the minimum before she and Casey broke up.

    She's still recovering and planned to take her heart ache days but Danny tells her there's no such thing.

    She trips over boxes and goes to complain to the owner who is an attorney and threatens to sue him until he points out opening his mail was a federal crime.

    Mindy continues to be in despair.  She gets drunk and goes home with Morgan.  She wants to make love.  She goes to brush her teeth and then changes her mind and walks back in to find Morgan already completely naked.

    She doesn't just reject him, she humiliates him.

    Which leads to the attorney she's pissed off showing up.  Morgan's suing her for $200,000 for sexual harassment.

    He'll drop it if she'll go out on a date.  She doesn't want to but her partners force her to.

    The date actually goes well and then Morgan takes her to the quarry because it's his favorite spot and he tells her it's always "date and" -- date and movie, date and walk, etc.

    It's a nice moment.  But then he wonders if she has protection and he blows it.  He offers maybe she prefers not to use protection?

    Morgan is always funny.  I don't know that he and Mindy would make it as a couple but it would be interesting.

    However, I think they're going to fix her up with the attorney.

    Honestly, I always felt Danny and Mindy belonged together.


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


    Thursday, October 10, 2013. Chaos and violence continue, for the fifth day in a row there are corpses in the streets of Iraq,  Nouri's government executes more people -- and surpasses last year's total, Ed Snowden is honored in Russia, the VA's new motto appears to be "Addiction gets you out the door!," Barack's war on the press and whistle-blowers gets called out, and more.


    We noted something this morning but did so at the end of an entry.  Then Glenn Greenwald's Tweets were forwarded:




  • It's hard to imagine how this scathing indictment from of Obama admin's press attacks isn't big news:



  • So we're going to put  an excerpt from the report at the top.  This is from Leonard Downie Jr. and Sara Rafsky's "The Obama Administration and the Press: Leak investigations and surveillance in post-9/11 America"  which was published today by the Committee to Protect Journalists:


    In the Obama administration’s Washington, government officials are increasingly afraid to talk to the press. Those suspected of discussing with reporters anything that the government has classified as secret are subject to investigation, including lie-detector tests and scrutiny of their telephone and e-mail records. An “Insider Threat Program” being implemented in every government department requires all federal employees to help prevent unauthorized disclosures of information by monitoring the behavior of their colleagues.
    Six government employees, plus two contractors including Edward Snowden, have been subjects of felony criminal prosecutions since 2009 under the 1917 Espionage Act, accused of leaking classified information to the press—compared with a total of three such prosecutions in all previous U.S. administrations. Still more criminal investigations into leaks are under way. Reporters’ phone logs and e-mails were secretly subpoenaed and seized by the Justice Department in two of the investigations, and a Fox News reporter was accused in an affidavit for one of those subpoenas of being “an aider, abettor and/or conspirator” of an indicted leak defendant, exposing him to possible prosecution for doing his job as a journalist. In another leak case, a New York Times reporter has been ordered to testify against a defendant or go to jail.
    Compounding the concerns of journalists and the government officials they contact, news stories based on classified documents obtained from Snowden have revealed extensive surveillance of Americans’ telephone and e-mail traffic by the National Security Agency. Numerous Washington-based journalists told me that officials are reluctant to discuss even unclassified information with them because they fear that leak investigations and government surveillance make it more difficult for reporters to protect them as sources. “I worry now about calling somebody because the contact can be found out through a check of phone records or e-mails,” said veteran national security journalist R. Jeffrey Smith of the Center for Public Integrity, an influential nonprofit government accountability news organization in Washington. “It leaves a digital trail that makes it easier for the government to monitor those contacts,” he said.



    It's an important issue and we'll note a whistle-blower later in the snapshot.  For now, Scott Alan McDonald died because of the VA.  His widow Heather McDonald explained what happened to Congress this morning.


    Heather McDonald:  For 15 years, he served honorably in the uniform of his country and was proud to serve as a UH-60 Blackhawk mechanic and Crew Chief for MEDEVAC Unit.  Bosnia, Panama, Iraq and Afghanistan are only a few of the war-torn countries he dedicated his life to changing.  In his career, he experienced heartache, unimaginable violence, death and the overall devastating effects of war.  He saw many of his fellow soldiers give the ultimate sacrifice -- narrowly escaping many times himself.  He loved his country and what the American flag stands for.  He was a brothers in arms to thousands of fellow soldiers and a truly remarkable man that never met a stranger.  Scott had larger than life expectations for his children.  And because of his commitment and honor, in January of 2011, we married.  On April 30, 2011, Scott's career with the army came full circle and he hung his uniform up for good. He began seeking the treatment from the VA for back pain and mental illness.  The Chalmers P. Wylie VA Ambulatory Care Center in Columbus, Ohio immediately started prescribing medications beginning with ibuprofen, nurofen, meloxicam and graduating to vicodin, klonopin, celexa, Zoloft, valium and Percocet.  This is where the rollercoaster began.  My husband was taking up to 15 pills a day within the first six months of treatment.  Every time Scott came home from an appointment, he had different medications, different dosages, different directions on how to take them.  And progressively over the course of a year and a half of starting his treatment, the medications had changed so many times by adding and changing that Scott became changing.  We researched many of the drugs that he was prescribed online and saw the dangerous interactions that they cause.  Yet my husband was conditioned to follow orders.  And he did so.  On September 12th of 2012, Scott attended another of his scheduled appointments.  This was when they added Percocet.  This was a much different medication than he was used to taking and which they prescribed him not to exceed 3,000 milligrams of ibu -- acetaminophen, I'm sorry.  Again, my husband followed orders.  Approximately zero-one-hundred hours on the 13th of September, I arrived home from my job.  I found Scott disoriented and very lethargic.  I woke him and asked him if he was okay?  He told me he was fine and that he just took what the doctors told him to take. At approximately zero-seven-thirty, I found my husband cold and unresponsive.  At 35-years-old, this father of two was gone.  I ask  myself why everyday.  And when I ask the VA why more tests weren't performed to make sure he was healthy enough, they responded by saying: "It is not routine to evaluate our soldiers' pain medication distribution."  A simple "I am in pain" constitutes a narcotic and a "This isn't working" constitutes a change in medication.  I was sickened and disturbed by their response and I decided at that point no one else should die.  I have no doubt that if the proper tests were being performed on our men and women, I would not be here today -- because my husband would be.  I have no doubt that for thousands of the soldiers that have fallen after coming home from war would be here today.  [Wiping tears] I'm sorry.  As the silent soldiers and spouses of our military members. we almost expect the possibility that they won't come home from war.  But we cannot accept that they fight there for their country and after the battle is over they come home and die.


    A study published last year in The American Journal of Psychiatry found that, "Among patients receiving care from the Veterans Health Administration, death from accidental overdose was found to be associated with psychiatric and substance use disorders. The study findings suggest the importance of risk assessment and overdose prevention for vulnerable clinical subpopulations."  That study was published in January of 2012.  Does no one in the Veteran Affairs Department know how to read?  Clearly, they don't know how to take action but are they at least literate? 

    Nine months before Heather lost her husband, a peer-reviewed, medical study was published warning of what was taking place.  Where was VA Secretary Eric Shineski?  Mismanaging again?

    It has been one scandal after another under Shineski.  It really is time he resigned. Heather McDonald was testifying before the House Veterans Affairs Subcommittee on Health -- US House Rep Dan Benishek is the Chair of the Subcomittee and US House Rep Julia Brownley is the Ranking Member -- as part of the first panel retired Air Force member Kimberly Stowe Green, retired Sgt Joshua Renschler and retired 1st Sgt Justin Minyard.  Panel two was Dr. Pamela Gray, Claudia J. Bahorik, and the VA's Dr. Steven G. Scott.  The third panel was the VA's Dr. Robert Jesse accompanied by Robert Kearns.

    Kimberly Stowe Green's husband, like Heather's husband, should be alive.  He went in for back surgery.  That's not usually life threatening.  But what the VA did before that ensured that it was.

    Kimberly Stowe Green: My husband Ricky Green died as a result of the VA's skyrocketing use of prescription pain killers.   On behalf of my husband, my self and our two grieving sons, I want to ask this Committee to do all that it can to prevent other veterans from dying in the same manner that my husband died. My husband died on October 29, 2011 -- at the age of forty-three -- four days after lower back surgery.  The Arkansas State Crime Lab and it's medical examiner performed an autopsy and determined that the cause of death was mixed drug intoxification complicating recent lumbar spine surgery.  My husband died because of the prescription pain and sleeping medications that the VA and its doctors prescribed for him and dispensed to him out of the VA pharmacy.  In treating Ricky's service-connected back pain, the VA doctors wrote prescriptions for the following drugs.



    She noted the 2010 VA clinical practice guidelines have not been fully implemented and they're not being followed.  What does Eric Shineski say to that?  More to the point, what does US President Barack Obama say to that?  How many screw ups is Shinseki going to rack up before his inability to do his job results in his resignation?

    Kimberly Stowe Green stated, "Ricky survived serving in combat zones in his over 20 years of military  service but he could not survive the VA and its negligent treatment of him."


    Iraq War veteran Josh Green survived a mortar attack in Iraq and the pain from the wounds led the VA to prescribe one pill after another -- he was taking 13 pain killers at one point.  The result?  The VA medical treatment left him with liver damage and no feeling in his left leg.  (Heather McDonald noted her husband had Stage II liver failure but it was "only discovered by the coroner.") That is awful and the VA owes Green much more than an apology.  But something else should be registering.  If it's not, let's note this statement from Green about Percocet, "And what happened was, the more I took it, the less it worked because my body became tolerant to it. 


    Do you get it yet?

    Do you get the problems that are being created under Shinseki?  The problems that will cost millions to clean up and will be harrowing for the veterans going through it?

    You can't just dispense pain killers like they're Flintstone chewables or candy out of Pez dispenser.  This attitude was overcome long ago everywhere except the VA.  It's why former First Lady Betty Ford went public and set up The Betty Ford Center.

    When it comes to addiction, there may not be a more vulnerable population than veterans.  The reasons for that are they are taught to mask the pain while serving and, as both widows pointed out, to follow orders -- the following of orders often carries over the medical treatment from the VA.  The VA doctors are prescribing like it's 1947 and, as a society, we've never heard of pain killer addiction. 

    People in pain need help and need treatment.  They do not, however, need to develop an addiction because a bunch of lazy or quack doctors don't want to do their job.

    Under Shinseki, the prescriptions are killing veterans, yes.  But also under Shinseki, the prescriptions are resulting in addictions that will have be treated years from now.

    That's unacceptable -- from a health standpoint and from a taxpayer standpoint. 


    Shinseki is supposed to be on top of things.  He shouldn't need a Congressional hearing to take action.

    It was really distressing to hear Josh Green detail his objections to the pills and how, when he would raise these objections, he would be prescribed more pills.

    Iraq and Afghanistan War veteran Justin Minyard suffered from chronic back pain (tied to a 72 hour continues shift at the Pentagon, searching for any survivors after the Pentagon was hit on 9-11).  The existing back pain was amplified by his later service in Iraq and Afghanistan.  The treatment?  Pills, pills and more pills.  That's all the VA offered him.  He explained, "My life revolved around when is my next pill, when is my next dosage increase and when can I get my next refill?  At my worst point I was taking enough pills daily to treat four terminally ill cancer patients."

    Repeating, this isn't just medical malpractice with effects people see and feel now, this is medical malpractice that is turning veterans into addicts.  That is unacceptable.  Civilian doctors prescribing in this manner risk loss of license and criminal charges but the VA just looks the other way. The VA motto appears to be: "Addiction gets you out the door!"



    Ranking Member Julia Brownley:  I think we all owe you deep apologies for not responding to your needs the way you have defended our country and, Ms. McDonald, I include you and thanking you for your service to our country and being married to your spouse and supporting him through this process -- that you, too, need to be thanked for your service.  So thank you all.  I think this is obviously a very important topic and hearing your individual stories is, I think, important for the American people to hear.  I wanted to ask a question -- my first question anyway -- and this question is more directed to Mr. Green and Mr. Minyard.  I was wondering about your experiences and maybe experiences from other wounded warriors that you may know -- regarding the continuity of treatment from the army to the VA and perhaps from one VA facility to another VA facility?

    Josh Green: I'll answer that.  To the best of my knowledge  -- again, I've walked alongside countless veterans over the last several years on a volunteer capacity and walked them through attempting to navigate the VA health care system to get the best care possible.  In my experience, it takes quite often a door kicker mentality to get veterans the care that they need.  I've hand walked them to a physician's door, to a social worker's door, to a mental health practitioner's door and said, "This person needs help today."  And that's the way we've been able to make some things happen in people's lives.  To answer as quick as possible: No.  There's not good continuity of care from one facility to another.  There's not good continuity of care from DoD to VA.  You know, as I spoke on my specific experience leaving DoD and entering VA care, my medications weren't on the VA formulary so they completely changed my medication regime and put me on more harmful medications which ended up causing me to backslide in my recovery which took the army three years to establish.  As far as -- There's a veteran that I work with currently that has left Portland, a VA facility in Oregon and moved into Washington state.  And upon entering Washington state American Lake VA Hospital, he was told that his medications are not able to be purchased through the American Lake VA Hospital because they don't have the budget for the non-formulary medication that the other facility had.  And this was again a medication that took six years to figure out the best thing for him and they're not going to purchase it anymore  which is causing him to backslide in his pain management.  So short answer is no, there's not good continuity of care.


    Ranking Member Julia Brownley:  Thank you.  And I think I said Mr. Green and I apologize.  I meant Mr. Minyard if you had any additional comments in terms of continuity of treatment?

    Justin Minyard:  Ma'am, with all due respect, I would not, in my opinion, and through my experience, I would not place the word "continuity" anywhere in a sentence that contains other nouns "DoD" and  "VA."  To give you a quick answer --

    Ranking Member Julia Brownley:  Yeah?

    Justin Minyard:  -- the systems, to me --

    Ranking Member Julia Brownley:  I hear you.

    Justin Minyard:  -- don't work.


    Help me out here.  Since 2009, what presidential cabinet level person is supposed to have been addressing "seamless transition" from DoD to VA?

    That would be Shinseki.

    And yesterday, he was just so concerned in the House Veterans Affairs Committee about the shutdown, he bled for any who suffered, you understand.  He'd just hate to think of anyone not receiving their benefits or survivors benefits from the VA because of the shut down.

    Spare us your crocodile tears, Shinseki. 

    Heather McDonald:  After my husband's death, I did contact the VA.  Almost immediately -- the VA itself told me that I needed to immediately start the process to claim my husband's death pension to help my family.  What doing that immediately does I don't know.  It took 11 months to start receiving any retroactive pay from my husband's pension.  I lost my home.  I lost my car.  When I asked them during the-the filing of the claim, the VA asked me whether I felt my husband's death was service-connected or not?  First, that's not my decision.  Every pill he put in his mouth was due to an ailment or an injury he received either in theater due to his service for his country.  So, yes, that makes it service connected.  Why it took 9 months for them to make a decision and a rating on that?  No, I was simply told, "I'm sorry, Mrs. McDonald, this is the process.  It takes time.  There's a huge backlog."  I feel like the VA right now is proud of themselves because they're saying, "The backlog is going down.  The amount of claims are lessening."  Well of course they are.   Because they're dying.  They're not receiving treatment anymore because they're not here to receive it.



    Turning to the topic of Iraq, today the European Parliament passed a resolution condemning the violence:



    MEPs strongly condemned the recent acts of terrorism and sectarian violence in Iraq, calling on the authorities "to facilitate a full and swift independent international investigation (...) and to cooperate fully with that investigation". All leaders and players in society should "start to work together to end the bloodshed and ensure that all Iraqi citizens feel equally protected", adds the resolution. MEPs also voiced concern about the spill-over of violence from the Syria conflict to Iraq.


    And violence today?   National Iraqi News Agency reports the corpse -- well the head -- of a 25-year-old woman was discovered dumped in Kirkuk.  Alsumaria adds the head was found in piles of waste next to a building.  Corpses dumped and discarded were one of the most common traits of the 2006 to 2007 period popular known as the "civil war" (ethnic cleansing).  They began popping up regularly in the last months.  A new development this week?  Starting Sunday, every day has resulted in reports of at least one discovered corpse.  It was every few weeks, then every two to two and half weeks, then every two to three days.  Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and today -- five days in a row.

    In other violence, NINA reporters 1 activist was shot dead in Ramadi ("a supporter of the Ramadi sit-in protest"), an Anbar car bombing injured one police officer, a Falluja bombing left two Iraqi soldiers injured, an armed Falljua attack left 1 police captain dead and another police member injured, a Falluja sticky bombing left two people injured,  1 man was shot dead in Kirkuk, the Salah al-Din military post announced they killed 2 suspects, and an attack on Mosul's al-Mowselya TV channel left 3 Iraqi soldiers dead.  All Iraq News reports 2 suspects werte shot dead in Tikrit by police forces and  3 police officers were shot dead in Mosul.  Alsumaria reports a Mosul roadside bombing injured a taxi driver, 2 Baghdad bombings claimed 3 lives and left twelve people injured, 1 person was shot dead in Baghdad (gun had silencer), and 1 shop owner in central Baghdad was shot dead.


    In other violence, Reuters notes 42 people have been executed by the 'government' in Iraq this week.  This is not good news or anything to be proud of.  Iraq has no real judicial system.  Some executed this year would have likely been released is Nouri al-Maliki's State of Law slate did not keep objecting to the amnesty bill which should have passed a long time ago.  As Human Rights Watch noted at the start of this month,  "In order to successfully identify and arrest those responsible for the attacks, Iraqi authorities should reform their judicial system and revise their draconian anti-terror law."   UNAMI issued the following statement:



    Baghdad, 10 October 2013 – UNAMI notes with concern that between 8 and 9 October, 42 people sentenced to death were executed, among them one woman, as confirmed by the Ministry of Justice of Iraq on 10 October.
        
    UNAMI reiterates its call on the Government of Iraq to adopt a moratorium on the implementation of all death sentences, pursuant to UN General Assembly resolutions 62/149 (2007), 63/168 (2009) and 65/205 (2010), and to consider ratifying the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, with a view to the eventual abolition of the death penalty.


    Al Jazeera notes the 42 executions bring the total for the year to at least  132.  The year is not even over and already Iraq has topped itself in executions, 129 is the number of executions in 2012 (see this Amnesty International report).

    Yesterday's State Dept press briefing found spokesperson Marie Harf insisting that she'd have an answer today with regards to flights through Iraqi air space to Syria.  She apparently forgot.  She did, however, make time to obsess over Ed Snowden.  She's like a cock hound on him.  From today's press briefing:







    QUESTION: Snowden?


    MS. HARF: Mm-hmm. Back in the news.


    QUESTION: Yeah, amazing. He – because we haven’t heard much from him for quite a while. But his father’s there and it just raises this issue – number one, if you had anything to say about that, period. But it raises that issue of he is the father, so it’s an immediate family member, but is there anything legally that he is precluded from doing when he’s there? I mean, can he – because after all, Snowden, Jr., is on the lam. So can he --


    MS. HARF: Is there anything his father is precluded from doing, or else --


    QUESTION: Yeah. Like can he meet – would it be a violation of some type of law to meet with his son?



    MS. HARF: Not to my knowledge. And the father really isn’t our concern, and even the father meeting with the son really isn’t our concern. Our concern really is Edward Snowden returning to the United States. He’s accused of very serious charges here, and he’ll be accorded full due process and protections applicable under U.S. law. It’s not really our – I think our concern about the meeting or our place to comment on it, and I don’t think we’re focused on his father at all in any way. I think we would just encourage Mr. Snowden to return.



    QUESTION: Yeah. Well, I mean, obviously it would be kind of a legal question. Is there really something – like, if you were to meet with, I don’t know, a terrorist to be in collusion with a --



    MS. HARF: I will take the legal question. I don’t think there is, but let me ask my experts.



    QUESTION: Just for the future, it might be interesting.



    MS. HARF: Yeah. No, it’s a good question.



    QUESTION: And then also, is there anything – any update on consular access?



    MS. HARF: No.



    QUESTION: Has he talked with U.S. officials?



    MS. HARF: No, he has not.



    QUESTION: Nothing?



    MS. HARF: Nothing.


    QUESTION: Okay.



    MS. HARF: To my knowledge, nothing. No.



    QUESTION: So you have --



    MS. HARF: Scott --



    QUESTION: You have no reaction or – to the visit by – or no comment on the visit of Mr. Snowden to --



    MS. HARF: Well, I mean, the reaction is the same it’s always been. Mr. Snowden needs to return to the United States to face these charges. Yeah, I really don’t have anything to say about the specific meeting with his father. It’s just not really what we’re focused on.



    QUESTION: He didn’t contact anybody, as far as you know, within the Administration to say he was going?


    MS. HARF: His father?


    QUESTION: Yeah, the father.



    MS. HARF: I do not know the answer to that question. I don’t know --



    QUESTION: I’m just wondering if he – if it was perhaps timed by – that he might have had some discussions --



    MS. HARF: Did he have to get a visa with --



    QUESTION: Yeah.



    MS. HARF: I just – I have no idea. I can try to find out. I don’t think so, though.



    QUESTION: Okay. I just wondered. He might have had discussions with somebody. He might be carrying a message to his son.



    MS. HARF: Not to my knowledge, no. Nothing at all like that. No, nothing.



    For the record, any American citizen with a valid passport can travel to Russia.  There's no permission needed from the US government.  There is no war between Russia and the US -- though there appears to be a war against information and knowledge.



     Ed Snowden  is an American citizen and whistle-blower who had been employed by the CIA and by the NSA before leaving government employment for the more lucrative world of contracting.  At the time he blew the whistle, he was working for Booz Allen Hamilton doing NSA work.  Glenn Greenwald (Guardian) had the first scoop (and many that followed) on Snowden's revelations that the US government was spying on American citizens, keeping the data on every phone call made in the United States (and in Europe as well) while also spying on internet use via PRISM and Tempora.  US Senator Bernie Sanders decried the fact that a "secret court order" had been used to collect information on American citizens "whether they are suspected of any wrongdoing."  Sanders went on to say, "That is not what democracy is about.  That is not what freedom is about. [. . .] While we must aggressively pursue international terrorists and all of those who would do us harm, we must do it in a way that protects the Constitution and civil liberties which make us proud to be Americans."  The immediate response of the White House, as Dan Roberts and Spencer Ackerman (Guardian) reported,  was to insist that there was nothing unusual and to get creaky and compromised Senator Dianne Feinstein to insist, in her best Third Reich voice, "People want to keep the homeland safe."  The spin included statements from Barack himself.   Anita Kumar (McClatchy Newspapers) reports, "Obama described the uproar this week over the programs as “hype” and sought to ensure Americans that Big Brother is not watching their every move."  Josh Richman (San Jose Mercury News) quoted Barack insisting that "we have established a process and a procedure that the American people should feel comfortable about."  Apparently not feeling the gratitude, the New York Times editorial board weighed in on the White House efforts at spin, noting that "the Obama administration issued the same platitude it has offered every time President Obama has been caught overreaching in the use of his powers: Terrorists are a real menace and you should just trust us to deal with them because we have internal mechanisms (that we are not going to tell you about) to make sure we do not violate your rights."  Former US President Jimmy Carter told CNN, "I think that the secrecy that has been surrounding this invasion of privacy has been excessive, so I think that the bringing of it to the public notice has probably been, in the long term, beneficial."



    The more Barack attempted to defend the spying, the more ridiculous he came off.  Mike Masnick (TechDirt) reviewed Barack's appearance on The Charlie Rose Show and observed of the 'explanations' offered, "None of that actually explains why this program is necessary. If there's a phone number that the NSA or the FBI gets that is of interest, then they should be able to get a warrant or a court order and request information on that number from the telcos. None of that means they should be able to hoover up everything."  As US House Rep John Conyers noted, "But I maintain that the Fourth Amendment to be free from unreasonable search and seizure to mean that this mega data collected in such a super aggregated fashion can amount to a Fourth Amendment violation before you do anything else.  You've already violated the law, as far as I am concerned."  Barack couldn't deal with that reality but did insist, in the middle of June, that this was an opportunity for "a national conversation."  He's always calling for that because, when it doesn't happen, he can blame the nation.  It's so much easier to call for "a national conversation" than for he himself to get honest with the American people. And if Barack really believes this has kicked off "a national conversation" then demonizing Ed Snowden is a really strange way to say "thank you."  August 1st, he was granted temporary asylum in Russia.


    The Voice of Russia reports, "Four whistleblowing advocates from the United States met with Edward Snowden in Moscow Wednesday and gave him an award for truth-telling. As seen on the photo published by Getty Images Snowden received the Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence Award (SAAII) alongside UK WikiLeaks journalist Sarah Harrison, who took Snowden from Hong Kong to Moscow and obtained his asylum, and the United States government whistleblowers including Coleen Rowley (FBI), Thomas Drake (NSA), Jesselyn Raddack (DoJ) and Ray McGovern (CIA)."  The Oxford Union explains, "The Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence confers an award each year to a person exemplifying the courage, persistence and devotion to the truth of CIA analyst Sam Adams.  Many distinguished past award winners include prominent whistleblowers and former intelligence agents.Caro Kriel (AP) quotes Jesselyn Raddack stating, "He spoke very openly about a whole range of things, a number of which I won't get into here, but it certainly didn't involve any kind of manipulation by the Russian government or anyone else for that matter.  He definitely is his own person and makes his own decisions and says and does what he wants to."  Raddack is with the Government Accountability ProjectFred Weir (Christian Science Monitor) reports:


    Interviewed on the Kremlin-funded English-language television network RT Thursday, the four whistleblowers agreed that Snowden looked "remarkably well" and was in fine spirits "considering the pressures" of his situation.
    "This is an extraordinary person. He's made his peace with what he did, he's convinced that what he did was right, he has no regrets and is willing to face whatever the future holds for him," Mr. McGovern told RT.
    Snowden's lawyer, Kucherena, has told Russian media that his client "has a girlfriend," is making great progress in learning the Russian language, and may soon find a job to keep him occupied in Russia.
    Reached by telephone on Thursday by the Monitor, Kucherena offered nothing but a good-natured scolding.
    "You must admit that when American politicians demand that human rights should be observed and talk about democratic freedoms, it's a sheer contradiction when we see the fact that everybody is bugged and their emails are read," he said.




    Along with receiving the award (announced in July) yesterday, Ed has another visitor in Russia.  Phil Black ands Ben Brumfield (CNN) report:

    The father of NSA leaker Edward Snowden told reporters in Moscow that he thinks his son deserves a Nobel Peace Prize.
    He arrived there Thursday for his first visit with his son since the former government IT contractor fled the United States after leaking National Security Agency spy program details to the media.
    Members of the European Parliament nominated Snowden in September for the Andrei Sakharov Prize, which honors figures who stand up to oppressive powers. The prize was awarded to Pakistani education activist Malala Yousafzai on Thursday.

    Becky Evans (Daily Mail) reports on Lon Snowden's visit hereRIA Novosti adds:

    Edward Snowden’s future and exact current whereabouts remain shrouded in mystery, but his lawyer Anatoly Kucherena says the former US intelligence contractor was not in talks to seek asylum in any other countries and has received several offers of work.
    Kucherena, speaking to Rossiya-24 news channel alongside Lon Snowden, said Edward Snowden would be open to extending his one-year asylum status in Russia.


    Lastly, tomorrow is The International Day of the Girl Child.  UNICEF notes:


    The International Day of the Girl Child is celebrated on 11 October, a day designated by the United Nations for promoting the rights of girls, and addressing the unique challenges they face. The inaugural day in 2012 focused on the issue of ending child marriage. As the lead agency for the Day, UNICEF, in consultation with other United Nations agencies and civil society partners, selected Innovating for Girls’ Education as this year’s theme, in recognition of the importance of fresh and creative perspectives to propel girls’ education forward and building on the momentum created by last year’s event.

    As the nature and scale of barriers facing girls becomes more complex, innovative strategies are needed to give girls an education that prepares them for the challenges of the 21st century. As the world evaluates the gaps that still remain in achieving global goals for gender equality in education and defines an agenda that moves beyond the Millennium Development Goals, it is critical that innovation brings about solutions for improving girls’ education that are not only more creative, but also more effective, efficient, sustainable and just.










    sara rafsky















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