Friday, December 19, 2008

Debra Sweet and return of idiot of the week

Okay, this is from Debra Sweet's "Are We Going to have an ANTI-War Movement in the US?:"

I was at the United for Peace & Justice National Assembly this weekend. I met some of you there who read this list; and others who were not familiar with World Can't Wait.
I worked with others -- mostly peace coalitions from the middle of the country, not in the larger cities -- to get UFPJ to support a united anti-war march in Washington DC on the sixth anniversary of the war, Saturday March 21. By 111-49, that proposal was defeated, in favor of what UFPJ's program "Yes We Can...End the War" for a Saturday, April 4 march on Wall Street, focusing on the recession.

Not to directly challenge Obama's escalation of the war in Afghanistan is shameful. On the anniversary of "Shock & Awe," and under a new president, the anti-war movement needs to be in Washington. And many of us WILL be there.
World Can't Wait wrote a
letter to the anti-war movement. We posed:

"We in this country, and those of us in this movement, have a choice. We can side with our government, with the "good war" fought in our names, and act like American lives are more important than anyone else's lives.Or we can show the people living in the Middle East, and the world, that in the U.S. there is a difference between the people and their government, and that the people are taking responsibility to end an unjust war and the war crimes that have been carried out in our name. We can act like we care about the whole planet."

We're covering this story at Third this weekend and I want to suggest you read all of Debra Sweet's article and also that you really think about what UPFJ has done lately because it ain't done nothing.

Meanwhile: PATRICK COCKBURN IS AN IDIOT. That moron just gets worse each damn week. I think he's got some progressive mental problems. Here's some proof in his latest garbage "The Baathist 'Coup Plot':"

Up to 25 officials are under arrest at the Iraqi Interior Ministry, some accused of plotting a coup and trying to bring back the Baath party of Saddam Hussein, Iraqi government sources said.
Those detained over the past three days by a counter-terrorism unit which answers directly to the Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, include a brigadier-general, though many of the others arrested are low-level officials.

Moron. First off, it wasn't 25. How many was it? Obviously Patrick Cockburn doesn't do much work other than creative writing. As for "a counter-terrorism unit which answers directly to the Prime Minister . . ." uh, Idiot Cockburn, that's not proven. In fact, most reports are now saying that's not correct.

Those detained over the past three days by a counter-terrorism unit which answers directly to the Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, include a brigadier-general, though many of the others arrested are low-level officials.

Cockburn's a f**king moron. He knows nothing about what he's writing, he just read the New York Times' Thursday report. That's it. The 'big' Brig. Gen.? Traffic cop head. They throw out Brig Gen titles like candy over there. Cockburn's an idiot. He doesn't know what he's writing about and his 'research' was reading the first article by the New York Times. That really bad article that C.I. called out . . . Thursday morning. That really bad article that fell apart before the end of the day Thursday. That really bad article that the same writers showed up in today's paper to act like they didn't know who was spreading rumors (them) but they were going to set the record straight!

It is unlikely that there has been any serious attempt to stage a coup and the arrests may be part of an effort by Mr Maliki to strengthen his position before the provincial elections next month and the parliamentary election later in the year.

Oh Paddy, you so big and brave on Friday. Thursday morning, C.I.'s "al-Maliki's latest power grab?" went up and, as the title indicates, C.I. was miles ahead of Paddy Cock is Burned. Oh, a Stevie Nicks quote for Paddy Burned Cock:

Who in the world do you think that you are fooling
Well I've already done everything that you are doing

:D C.I. has already done everything Paddy Cock Burn is doing. :D

I could go through paragraph by paragraph but I think we all get what an idiot Paddy Cock Burn has become. Paddy Cock Burn . . . and I don't care. Paddy Cock Burn . . . and I don't care. :D We're going to have to bring back idiot of the week, obviously, and this week it goes to Paddy Cock Burn. Who more than earned it.

Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Friday, December 19, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, Thursday's arrests for a 'coup' appear even more questionable, a journalist's injuries are finally noted, and more.

The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom released their first report since May 2007 this week. As
they note in their Tuesday press release, they are calling for Iraq to "be designated as a 'country of particular concern' (CPC) under the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA), in light of the ongoing, severe abuses of religious freedom and the Iraqi government's toleration of these abuses, particularly abuses against Iraq's smallest, most vulnerable religious minorities. . . . The situation is especially dire for Iraq's smallest religious minorities, including ChaldoAssyrian and other Christians, Sabean Mandeans, and Yazidis." Yazidis were the most recently known to be targeted with a late Sunday night, early Monday morning home invasion in a village outside of Mosul that saw 7 members of the same family shot dead. Mosul and the immediate surrounding area have especially been active with acts of violence aimed at religious minorities since this summer. The report is entitled "Iraq Report - 2008" and it is not in PDF format (and it displays as a single page). The report notes, "Like Mandaens, Yazidis as a community are particularly vulnerable to annihilation because one can only be born into the Yazidi religion." The report notes flyers posted around Mosul in 2004 promising "divine awards awaited those who killed Yazidis". On Iraqi Christians, the report notes, "The most recent attacks took place in the northern city of Mosul in late September/early October 2008, when at lest 14 Christians were killed and many more report they were threatened, spurring some 13,000 individuals to flee to villages east and north of the city and an estimated 400 families to flee to Syria. The United Nations has estimated that this number is half of the current Christian population in Mosul. Those who met with displaced Christians were told that Christians had received threatening text messages and had been approached by strangers asking to see their national indentity cards, which show religious affiliation. At the time of this writing, the attackers had not been identified, and Chrisian leaders had called for an international investigation." They also note the half of returnees in November when 2 young Christian girls were killed and their mother wounded. The Mandaeans are estimated to number between 3,500 to 5,000 in Iraq currently after following "almost 90 percent reportedly having either fled the country or been killed". Mandaen women have been kidnapped, raped, forced into marriage with non-Mandeans and "forced to wear the hijab" while Manaean "boys have been kidnapped and forcibly circumcised, a sin in the Mandean religion." The Baha'i population is noted briefly and said to number approximately 2,000 while the Jewish population is said to have fallen to ten -- ten who must "live essentially in hiding." Previous reports and press reports in past years has noted a concentration in Baghdad and, as the numbers fell due to deaths (from violent attacks) and due to fleeing the country, the small number remaining were said to be elderly. The report makes no mention of the age of the ten.

The report notes:

Nineveh governorate, however, especially in and around Mosul, remains one of the most dangerous and unstable parts of Iraq. Insurgent and extremist activity continues to be a significant problem there, and control of the ethnically and religiously mixed area is disputed between the KRG and the central Iraqi government. While violence overall in Iraq decreased in 2007 and 2008, the Mosul area remains what U.S. and Iraqi officials call the insurgents' and extremists' last urban stronghold, with continuing high levels of violence.D Increased security operations by U.S. and Iraqi forces have led to some decrease in the violence in and around Mosul, but the area remains very dangerous, as evidenced by the October attacks on Christian residents, which killed at least 14 Christians and spurred the flight of 13,000 from Mosul to surrounding areas. According to the September 2008 U.S. Department of Defense report to Congress, "[d]uring the past few years, Mosul has been a strategic stronghold for [al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI)], which also needs Mosul for its facilitation of foreign fighters. The current sustained security posture, however, continues to keep AQI off balance and unable to effectively receive support from internal or external sources, though AQI remains lethal and dangerous."D According to the Special Inspector General for Iraqi Reconstruction, from April 1 to July 1, 2008, there were 1,041 reported attacks in Nineveh governorate and from July 1 to September 30, 2008, there were 924 attacks, still a significant number.

This situation has been exacerbated by Arab-Kurdish tensions over control of Mosul and other disputed areas in Nineveh governorate. The dispute stems from Kurdish claims and efforts to annex territories-including parts of the governorates of Kirkuk (Tamim), Nineveh, Salah al-Din, Diyala, and Waset-into the KRG, on the basis of the belief that these areas historically belong to Kurdistan. During the Saddam Hussein era, Kurds and other non-Arabs were expelled from these areas under his policy of "Arabization." Since 2003, Kurdish peshmerga and political parties have moved into these territories, effectively establishing de facto control over many of the contested areas. Key to integrating the contested areas into Kurdistan is Article 140 of the Iraqi Constitution, which calls for a census and referendum in the territories to determine their control. In this context, military or financial efforts undertaken by either Kurdish officials or Arab officials (whether in Baghdad or local) is seen by the other group as an effort to expand control over the disputed areas, leading to political disputes and deadlock.

The commission states there are 2 million external Iraqi refugees and 2.8 million internal refugees. On external refugees, the report explains:

Between November 2007 and May 2008, the Commission traveled to Jordan, Iraq, Syria, and Sweden to meet with Iraqi asylum-seekers, refugees, and IDPs. These vulnerable and traumatized individuals provided accounts of kidnapping, rape, murder, torture, and threats to themselves, their families, or their community. While the vast majority of interviewees could not identify the perpetrators, they suspected various militias and extremist groups of committing these acts, and often provided specific identifying details.

Non-Muslim minority refugees told the Commission that they were targeted because they do not conform to orthodox Muslim religious practices and/or because, as non-Muslims, they are perceived to be working for the U.S.-led coalition forces. Members of these communities recounted how they, as well as other members of their families and communities, had suffered violent attacks, including murder, torture, rape, abductions for ransom or forced conversion, and the destruction or seizure of property, particularly businesses such as liquor stores or hair salons deemed un-Islamic. They also reported being forced to pay a protection tax and having been forced to flee their homes in fear after receiving threats to "convert, leave, or die." In addition, they told of their places of worship being bombed and forced to close and their religious leaders being kidnapped and/or killed.

Sunni and Shi'a Muslim refugees told of receiving death threats, of family members being killed, of kidnappings, of their houses being burned down, and of forced displacements. Some refugees reported being targeted because of jobs held by them or their relatives, either connected to the U.S. government or to the Ba'athist regime. Other refugees spoke of being targeted because they were part of a mixed Muslim marriage or because their family was Sunni in a predominately Shi'a neighborhood or vice versa. Many stated that the sectarian identities of their relatives and friends were either not known or not important before 2003, and several spoke of their families including both Sunnis and Shi'as and of the diverse nature of neighborhoods before the sectarian violence. One refugee woman told the Commission that, after her son was kidnapped and returned to her, she received a phone call from a government official who knew the exact details of the kidnapping and who told her that her entire family should leave Iraq. When they got their visas to go to Syria, their passports were stamped "no return." Because of this incident, she alleged to the Commission that the government must have been involved in the violence directed at her family.

Adelle M. Banks (Religion News Service) observes, "Commissioners encouraged President-elect Barack Obama's incoming administration to make prevention of abuse a high priority and to seek safety for all Iraqis and fair elections. They also asked the U.S. government to appoint a special envoy for human rights in Iraq and Iraqi officials to establish police units for vulnerable minority communities. They also seek changes in Iraq's constitution, which currently gives Islam a preferred status, to strengthen human rights guarantees." Tom Strode (Baptist Press) quotes the committee's chair, Felice Gaer, stating in Tuesday's press conference, "The lack of effective government action to protect these communities from abuses has established Iraq among the most dangerous places on earth for religious minorities." UPI notes, "The commission also condemned a decision to reduce the representation allocated to members of the minority religious community in the upcoming provincial elections scheduled for January."

Meanwhile in Iraq,
Waleed Ibrahim (Reuters) reports, "Muslim preachers from both sides of Iraq's once-bloody Sunni-Shi'ite divide appealed to the government on Friday to release the journalist who threw his shoes at U.S. Preisdent George W. Bush." The latest voices calling for Muntadar al-Zeidi's release sound out as his injuries become less of a whispered aside and more of a centeral issue. Nico Hines (Times of London) reported early this morning that Judge Dhia al-Kinani has declared "he would find out who beat" Muntadhar and that al-Kinani "said that Mr al-Zeidi 'was beaten in the news conference and we will watch the tape and write an official letter asking for the names of those who assaulted him'." Qassim Abdul-Zahra (AP) notes "bruises on his face and around his eyes" and, as for the alleged letter, adds: "A spokesman for al-Maliki said Thursday that the letter contained a specific pardon request. But al-Zeidi's brother Dhargham told The AP that he suspected the letter was a forgery." Timothy Williams and Atheer Kakan (New York Times) report, "The government did not release the letter, and a lawyer for the reporter said that during a conversation with him on Wednesday the reporter did not tell her about it. But the lawyer, Ahlam Allami, also said the reporter, Muntader al-Zaidi, had told her he had never meant to insult the Iraqi government or Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki when he hurled his shoes at the president during a news conference with the two leaders on Sunday." CBS and AP note, "CBS News Baghdad producer Randall Joyce says al-Zeidi has been kept completely out of the reach of his legal representation and his family since the show-throwing incident late on Sunday - a fact which typifies a deeply flawed Iraqi justice system." Wednesday saw the Iraqi Parliament end a session with the Speaker threatening/vowing to quit. Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) explains, "Parliament speaker Mahmoud al Mashhdani threatened to resign at one point during Wednesday's debate over Zaidi's status. Anti-American cleric Muqtada al Sadr's party pressed Zaidi's case. . . . Mashhani's colleagues refused to convene when they saw him return to parliament on Thursday, several of them said [Muhsin al] Saddon said he expects the political parties to accept Mashhdani's resignation Saturday, after which they'd appoint a new parliament leader. Others aren't so sure that Mashhdani will step down."

No one appears very sure of what happened with yesterday's arrests ordered at the Ministry of the Interior ordered by puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki. Today Interior Minister Jawad Bolani held a press conference and
Waleed Ibrahim (Reuters) quotes him stating, "It is a big lie. The public must understand this." He was speaking of the whispers that a coup was being plotted by those arrested. Sudarsan Raghavan and Qais Mizher (Washington Post) explain that several MPs are raising the issue that the arrests were for political reasons, specifically "an attempt by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to demonstrate his power." They also note this basic fact, "On Thursday, senior government officials continued to provide contradictory explanations for the detentions." What is known, the reporters point out, is that:

Maliki has steadily consolidated his power this year. In March, he ordered the military to combat Shiite militias and assert government control over the southern city of Basra, a goal that Iraqi forces accomplished with help from the U.S.-led coalition. Since then, Maliki has sought to tighten his grip across the country. His brokering of a U.S-Iraq security pact that requires the American forces to withdraw by the end of 2011 has bolstered his popularity among many Iraqis.

Ned Parker and Saif Hameed (Los Angeles Times) speak with MPs such as Mahmoud Othma who states of the arrests, "This reminds me of the old regime. It's confusing. First they were saying coup d'etat . . . It's not clear what is going on. I'm afraid this may have some political ends from the government, maybe from the prime minister." Campbell Robertson and Tareq Maher (New York Times) advise, "The conflicting accounts of the operation prompted an urgent question from Mr. Maliki's critics: Were the arrests politically motivated, carried out as a way for Mr. Maliki to weaken his rivals before the nationwide provincial elections planned for next month? Suspicions were fueled by reports that a counterterrorism force overseen directly by Mr. Maliki was part of the operation, though several officials denied it." Thursday's snapshot incorrectly had Tareq Maher's first name dictated (by me) as "Tariq" -- that was my mistake. My apologies. Oliver August (Times of London) refers to the events as "a sectarian turf war" and observes, "The power struggle exposed the deep sectarian faultlines in the Iraqi Government. . . . A source in the ministry and a member of the Constitution party, told The Times: 'This is a move against our party. They are trying to get all the Sunni officers out of the ministry. It's a political game, not a coup." Meanwhile Waleed Ibrahim, Ahmed Rasheed and Missy Ryan (Reuters) report Nineveh Province voted to delay provincial elections but that vote isn't being headed by the Electoral Commission whose deputy head Osama al-Ani states, "No one has the right to delay the provincial elections scheduled for Jan. 31 except for the prime minister . . . with the approval of parliament." Qassim Abdul-Zahra (AP) breaks the news that all arrested have been "released without charge" according to Jawad al-Bonai.

In England,
Andrew Grice (Independent of London) details "a political storm" following Prime Minister Gordon Brown's rejection of an Iraq War inquiry declaring it not "right" at the current time, "Opposition parties believe Mr Brown is keen to ensure the full investigation does not report until after the next general election, which must be held by June 2010. Although the controversial 2003 invasion was seen as 'Tony Blair's war', Mr Brown has backed it and said he would not have acted differently."

Meanwhile tensions and bombings continue on Iraq's northern border.
Delphine Strauss (Financial Times of London) noted Thursday that Turkey continued air strikes on northern Iraq -- targeting the PKK (Kurdish Workers Party) for the second day in a row. UPI added, "The Turkish General Staff said it bombed several positions in the Qandil Mountains belonging to the separatist Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK." Despite statements of joint-commissions -- Iraq, Turkey and the US -- being set up to address the issue of the PKK -- designated a terrorist organization by many nations including the US as well as by the European Union -- no such committee has yet to be created. Reuters observes, "Around 40,000 people have been killed in fighting between the PKK and the military since 1984, when the PKK took up arms to establish an ethnic homeland in southeast Turkey." Hurriyet reported that Hoshyar Zebari (Foreign Minister) is among the Iraqi officials expected to travel to Turkey shortly and Sunni vice president Tariq al Hashimi is another but that Turkish President Abdullah Gul suffers from "an ear problem that makes flying difficult." Zebari most recently (December 16th) met with Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayied Al-Nhayan, the United Arab Emirate's Foreign Minister, at the UN as part of the Ministry's continued diplomatic outreach. And while the much-touted joint-talks amongst Iraq, Turkey and the US seem stalled or forgotten, Hidir Goktas (Reuters) reports, "Kurdish leaders from Turkey and Iraq will hold a peace conference aimed at ending decades of violence by the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) guerrilla group, the head of Turkey's pro-Kurdish party said."

And tensions remain around the mercenary corporation Blackwater which is responsible for the deaths of many Iraqis -- most infamously the September 16, 2007 slaughter in Baghdad. (
AP is trumpeting radio logs -- Blackwater radio logs -- 'back up' Blackwater's actions.) Luis Martinez (ABC News) observes, "The controversial security firm Blackwater may have to cease its operations in Iraq come Jan. 1, 2009. Despite four separate federal grand jury investigations of its operations, Blackwater has continued to provide security services for the U.S. State Department. . . . Numerous officials tell that the State Department has approved a long-term contingency plan to hire as many as 800 security personnel to ultimately replace its private security contractors. These "Security Protection Specialists" would receive limited immunity because they would be State Department employees. They will not be considered Diplomatic Security agents because they will not have arrest powers and will not be investigators." It's a shame that the Marines are good enough to protect US Embassies but apparently not considered good enough to protect the State Dept in war zones.

Staying with violence . . .


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) notes a Baghdad roadside bombing that resulted in "three policemen and three civilians" being wounded.


Reuters notes 7 "decomposing, severed heads and two decomposing bodies" were discovered in Baghdad today.

Turning to the US,
Yesterday's snaphot noted Elisabeth Bumiller's reporting on Petraeus and Odierno's 'plan' for Iraq and what it means compared to Barack's alleged campaign promise (16 months for a withdrawal!). Today Julian E. Barnes (Los Angeles Times) reports on the issue and since "troops" was always just combat troops for Barack, Barnes documents a novel way to reconcile the generals and Barack:
The two plans could be squared by moving to reclassify, or "re-mission," U.S. troops still in Iraq after 16 months to change combat forces to training units or residual forces, according to military officials. Already, military officials have reassigned combat infantry soldiers and Marines to training jobs. Combat forces still in Iraq after May 2010 would probably be needed more for training missions in any case, officials have said.As we've long noted, the classification is meaningless and can be abused. Barnes is documenting a proposal to abuse it. Hey, if Barack declares the 149,000 US troops currently in Iraq "police" or "training" ones on January 21st, he can claim he completed his 'withdrawal' of combat troops in one day!
Staying with the president-elect, wowOwow notes "
Firestorm Reactions to Obama's Pick of Anti-Gay Rev. Rick Warren Role in Inauguration" and explains that 'it's his outspoken opposition toward abortion and gay marriage that has many human-rights activists, lesbian and gay activists finding [Rick] Warren's presence at Obama's inauguration a slap in the face." At The New Agenda, Violet Socks explains:

An almost all-male
Cabinet. A speechwriter who thinks sexual assault is funny. A senior advisor who's on record with his belief that innate inferiority, not discrimination, is what's keeping women back.
And now, with another twist of the knife, President-elect Obama has invited Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at the Inaugural.
Rick Warren.
Most of the
outrage surrounding this choice focuses on Warren's opposition to gay marriage and reproductive rights. But there's something else about Warren, something the women of America might like to ponder as they watch this worthy pray aloud at our new President's swearing-in: this is a man who believes that wives should be subservient to their husbands. Marriage is not an equal partnership, in Warren's view, but a dominance hierarchy, a union between a superior and an inferior. Kind of like a boss with one employee.
As explained on Warren's
Ministry Toolbox site by Beth Moore, a suitably submissive wife: "It is a relief to know that as a wife and mother I am not totally responsible for my family. I have a husband to look to for counsel and direction. I can rely on his toughness when I am too soft and his logic when I am too emotional."

Those wanting or preferring video can
click here for CBS' The Early Show video where Harry Smith discusses the issue with David Corn and Robert Jeffries. "Excuse me, this is a serious civil rights issue in this country," Harry Smith says when Jeffries tries to turn it into a joke and good for Harry Smith. Women's Media Center chooses to go the pathetic and useless route: "Disappointed By Obama's Rick Warren Pick, But Not Discouraged." In other words, please don't break my arm and blacken my eye, just blacken my eye. Pathetic. They offer that in their "Daily News Brief" (it's nothing but a link to content outside WMC). A record number of e-mails came in today regarding the trojan at WMC. Women's Media Center not only does not get a link here, it is pulled from all community sites. If you've visited it this week, scan your computer for virus. NOW -- who has been extremely disappointing to put it mildly -- did offer "We HOPE You Will CHANGE Your Mind:"

Today, we are disheartened that one of the voices that may be privileged to be part of this historic moment is that of Rick Warren. His delivering the invocation would be an insult to all of us, women and men, who support women's right to self-determination. His presence is offensive to all of us, gay and straight, who support equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people.
We understand your desire to engage people from opposing sides of many issues. But dialogue requires treating your opponents with respect. Rick Warren has compared abortion to the Holocaust and stated that he would not vote for a "Holocaust denier." He implies that those of us who support abortion rights are equivalent to Nazis.
Rick Warren worked to take away the rights of LGBT people in California by supporting Proposition 8, calling it a "moral issue that God has spoken clearly about" and stating the "homosexual marriage is one of the five issues that are not negotiable." He calls LGBT people "unnatural."
Words do matter, President-elect Obama. Words lifted you to the White House and all of us to a place where we felt included in your vision. By choosing Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at your inauguration you have deeply offended progressive people who worked and voted for you in record numbers. This is not the tone we hoped you would set on this historic day - and giving a platform to a messenger of intolerance does not send a message of acceptance and change.
There are limitless opportunities for your administration to work with people who do not agree on every issue, but who nonetheless agree that we must end poverty, address climate change, and achieve human rights for all. We are deeply disappointed that you have made a different choice and hope that you will reconsider Rick Warren's inclusion in this important and historic celebration.
President-elect Obama, you can still select a minister who will speak to our collective vision for hope, change and the promise that we will all be part of this great country, and we urge you to do just that.

Not as weak or pathetic as WMC (silent except for tossing out a link) but not as strong as the National Organization for Women should be. It is the National Organization for Women, not the National Organization for Obama. If you want to see really pathetic, check out the types
Ashley Smith and Eric Ruder (Socialist Worker) encounter at the convention of United for Piss & Injustice. UPFJ has done nothing for two years and plans to do nothing for four. They are pathetic. Leslie, I am personally ashamed of you. Of people quoted in the article, only Iraqi-American Zaineb Alani can hold their head high:

Local actions are not loud enough. The media will not cover them, and so the message will be silence. I am for mass action this spring in Washington where all the decisions are made with regard to economic and foreign policy.
With all this talk of change in Washington, the Iraqi people do not see any change. They're not going to see any change in the next three years because they will still be under occupation. The SOFA [status of forces agreement] is full of loopholes. We do not know what is coming. All the Iraqi people can hear is silence in Washington.

Public broadcasting notes. Yesterday
Gwen Ifill participated in the online chat at the Washington Post. There's much to amuse and I'll leave it at that and carry it over to Third for Sunday. Gwen's Washington Week airs on PBS and, in most markets, airs tonight. Her guests include Washington Post's Michael Fletcher, Los Angeles Times' Janet Hook and the Bobsey Twins John Dickerson and John Harwood -- even their hairdresser can't tell them apart. NOW on PBS also begins airing tonight on most PBS stations (check local listings) and their focus is slavery in Nepal where "many families in western Nepal have been forced to sell their daughters, some as young as six, to work far from home as bonded servants in private homes. With living conditions entirely at the discretion of their employers, these girls seldom attend school and are sometimes forced into prostitution." Journalist Sarah Chayes speaks with Bill Moyers on Bill Moyers Journal which also begins airing tonight on PBS in most markets. Chayes is probably the American journalist most knowledgable of Afghanistan. The Journal's Michael Winship notes:

The amount is $904 billion -- that's how much we've spent on American military operations, including Iraq and Afghanistan, since the 9/11 attacks; 50 percent more than what was spent in Vietnam, reports the non-partisan Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessment. Their study does not include the inestimable toll in human life. Of that money, nearly 200 billion has gone to Afghanistan, where 31,000 American troops are nearly 60 percent of the NATO peacekeeping force. When he becomes President, as promised during his campaign, Barack Obama will oversee the deployment of at least another 20,000 troops there. This has been the deadliest year for American forces in Afghanistan since the war began. Our military faces a resurgent Taliban and al-Qaeda, better trained, better armed, supported from sanctuaries in Pakistan. But in
an op-ed piece in last Sunday's Washington Post, Sarah Chayes -- the former National Public Radio reporter who has lived in Kandahar province since shortly after 9/11 -- argued that America's and Afghanistan's biggest problem comes from within -- our continuing support of a corrupt and abusive Afghan government that's driving its people back into the arms of the fundamentalists. Chayes, who organized a co-op of Afghan men and women making skin care products from herbs and botanicals as an alternative to the opium poppy trade, wrote, "I hear from Westerners that corruption is intrinsic to Afghan culture, that we should not hold Afghans up to our standards. I hear that Afghanistan is a tribal place, that it has never been, and can't be, governed. But that's not what I hear from Afghans."Chayes followed up that article with an interview conducted by my colleague Bill Moyers on the latest edition of Bill Moyers Journal on PBS. She told him that the United States and its NATO allies have had to convince themselves and public opinion in each of their countries that "this is a democratically elected representative government [in] Afghanistan in order to justify the sacrifices in money and troops. But the Afghans see it differently."What they see instead, she said, is a restoration to power under President Hamid Karzai of the gunslinging, crooked warlords who were repudiated when the Taliban first started taking over vast parts of the country a few years after the Soviet withdrawal in 1989. The "appalling behavior" of officials in the current government, including rampant bribery, extortion and violence, is a serious factor in the Taliban resurgence -- it's estimated that they now have a "permanent presence" in 72 percent of the country, according to one think tank, the International Council on Security and Development.
On broadcast TV (CBS) Sunday,
60 Minutes:SchwarzeneggerThe former Hollywood action star-turned California governor may be facing his most formidable foe in a $40 billion state budget gap caused by the economic decline. Scott Pelley reports.
Screening The TSAAre the hassles passengers endure at airport security checkpoints really making them safer? The Transportation Security Administration says they are, but a security adviser who has advised them says those measures are "security theater." Lesley Stahl reports. Watch Video
The OrphanageIvory is selling for nearly $1,000 a tusk, causing more elephants to be slaughtered and more orphaned babies in need of special care provided by an elephant orphanage in Kenya. Bob Simon reports.
60 Minutes, this Sunday, Dec. 21, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

iraqnico hinesqassim abdul-zahrathe new york timestimothy williamsatheer kakanthe los angeles timesjulian e. barnes
the washington postsudarsan raghavanqais mizheroliver augustthe new york timescampbell robertsontareq maherned parkersaif hameedthe los angeles timesmcclatchy newspapershussein kadhimoliver august
60 minutescbs news
randall joycewashington weeknow on pbspbssarah chayesbill moyers journal

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Normy loves Jeffy loves Barack

Thursday! One more day until the weekend!!!!! And it's almost Christmas! And almost the new year!!!!!!!

I'm really excited and mainly because I finished my Christmas shopping finally today. I had four ideas for Elaine's nice present and I kept trying to figure out which one. I tried running it by her but she said she didn't want me to spoil it. So today I took pictures with my camera phone and e-mailed them to Rebecca and C.I. They agreed on one strongly. That's the one I got for her. And now that I have and that it's wrapped, I know it's the right one which makes me so happy.

I'm pretty sure on my Dad's gift but not so sure on everyone else. And I've already wrapped it so people better play "I love it!" real good for my benefit! :D

Last night, Elaine noted Arne The School Destroyer in "Barack goes after the teachers unions." So when I saw something else on Arne Duncan, I wanted to highlight it. This is from Jesse Sharkey's "Arne Duncan's Privatization Agenda:"

Teachers in Chicago are sorry to see that the CEO of the Chicago Public Schools (CPS), Arne Duncan, is getting a promotion. Barack Obama has selected Duncan to be his Education Secretary.
In the past couple years, Duncan has been turning public schools over to private operators--mainly in the form of charter and contract schools--at a rate of about 20 per year. Duncan has also resuscitated some of the worst "school reform" ideas of the 1990s, like firing all the teachers in low-performing schools (called "turnarounds"). At the same time, he's eliminated many Local School Councils and made crucial decisions without public input.
Charter schools and test-score driven school "choice" have been the watchwords of Duncan's rule in Chicago. Expect more of the same in Washington, D.C.

By the way, the idiot who got caught lying (when he was trying to say he was part of this community -- and he's never been part of it) is praising Arne Duncan. As usual, the idiot didn't bother to find out anything before writing. That was the problem with the idiot's previous site by the way, and why he shut that one down.

Next up is something I mentioned to Jim who hit the roof and started griping. :D I told him that I didn't know that. He thought C.I. had passed on an idea to me that's going to be used at Third. Nope but that is a good point and will be great at Third Sunday. And it will underscore what LIARS Norman Solmon and Jeffy Cohen are. This is from Young Lovers Normy and Jeffy's latest duet entitled "The 2008 P.U.-litzer Prizes :"

Now in their seventeenth year, the P.U.-litzer Prizes recognize some of the nation’s stinkiest media performances. As the judges for these annual awards, we do our best to identify the most deserving recipients of this unwelcome plaudit.
And now, the P.U.-litzers Prizes for 2008:
This award sparked fierce competition, but the cinch came on the day Obama swept the Potomac Primary in February -- when Chris Matthews spoke of “the feeling most people get when they hear Barack Obama’s speech. My, I felt this thrill going up my leg. I mean, I don’t have that too often.”

Actually, I think Normy and Jeffy won the HOT FOR OBAMA PRIZE. Those two young lovers just flipped their wigs for Barry. They embarrassed themselves daily and I have some discs of Normy on KPFA's The Morning Show disgaracing himself repeatedly.

Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Thursday, December 18, 2008. Chaos and violence continue,

Committee to Protect Journalists released their end-of-year analysis today and "the deadliest country in the world for the press" is . . . For the sixth year in a row, the 'honor' goes to Iraq:

All of those killed in Iraq were local journalists working for domestic news outlets. The victims included Shihab al-Tamimi, head of the Iraqi Journalists Syndicate, who died from injuries suffered in a targeted shooting in Baghdad. Soran Mama Hama, a reporter for Livin magazine, was targeted by gunmen in front of his home after reporting on prostitution and corruption in Kirkuk.
Two media support workers also died in Iraq during the year. Since the beginning of the war in March 2003, 136 journalists and 51 media workers have been killed, making it the deadliest conflict for the press in recent history.

11 journalists CPJ lists as killed in Iraq in 2008 are Alaa Abdul-Karim al-Fartoosi in Balad January 29th, Shihab al-Tamimi in Baghdad February 27th, Jassim al-Batat in Basra April 25th, Sarwa Abdul-Wahab in Mosul May 4th, Wissam Ali Ouda in Baghdad May 21st, Haidar al-Hussein in Diyala Province May 22nd, Mohieldin Al-Naqeeb in Mosul June 17th, Soran Mama Hama in Kirkuk July 21st, and in Mosul -- on September 13th -- Musab Mahmmod al-Ezawi, Ahmed Salim and Ihab Mu'd.

Iraqi journalist Muntader al-Zeidi is currently imprisoned following his tossing two shoes at the Bully Boy of the United States on Sunday.
Yesterday Randall Joyce (CBS News) observed, "He has disappeared into an Iraqi legal system that is deeply flawed and, at times, intentionally confusing. If transparency is the standard for a good court system, then Iraq's is the opposite. Opaque doesn't begin to describe it." Joyce noted that Muntader was not present in Iraq's Central Court as had been announced and that family and lawers were instead given second-hand accounts. Joyce explained, "Al-Zeidi's family was informed at today's hearing that he is being held in a jail in the Green Zone, but when our crew went to that facility they were told he had never been there. So far, no member of his family has seen him and we have no idea of his physical condition. There is no explanation so far as to why the hearing took place a day earlier than planned at a secret location without the presence of al-Zeidi's legal team or family." Today Randall Joyce notes that Muntader's attorneys are still being prevented from seeing their client as is his family: "Family members have expressed concern that al-Zeidi may have been severely beaten after the incident and is being hidden from view to keep the nature of his injuries from the public. His continued detention is becoming a political issue here in Baghdad, where thousands have marched demanding his release. The television channel he works for continues to run extended programs featuring interviews and phone call-in segments demanding his release." According to Joyce, the law under which Muntader might be prosecuted "existed before the U.S. invasion". One question should be why Saddam-era guidelines are being followed after Saddam has not only been disposed but also executed? Another would be where's the evidence? AFP reports that the judge is stating, "The shoes were examined by the Iraqi and American security services and then destroyed." If true, the shoes -- or alleged shoes -- were never examined by the court and cannot be presented as evidence. Wisam Mohammed (Reuters) reports puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki says Muntader has apologized for throwing the shoes. And he did so in writing -- al-Maliki claims. Which may or may not be true (as with most of al-Maliki's claims). But they've produced a written confession! After denying Muntader access to his attorneys and, of course, after beating him. Jormana Karadsheh (CNN) portrays the written confession as a request "for leniency" and allows Yaseen al-Majeed -- spokesperson for the puppet -- to babble on without ever making the point that neither his family nor his attorneys have been allowed to see Muntader. Riyadh Suhail (Saudi Gazette) notes Dergham al-Zeidi, Muntader's brother, states he's been told "his brother's hands and ribs are fractured and he has eyes and leg injuries."

Zain Verjee (CNN) interviewed US Secretary of State Condi Rice for Anderson Cooper 360 and the topic of Muntader was raised. From the transcript at the State Dept website:

Zain Verjee: Staying in Iraq, the shoe-throwing incident, it was really a symbol in so many ways in the Arab world of utter contempt --
Condi Rice: Yeah --
Zain Verjee: -- for President Bush.
Condi Rice: And it was one journalist among several who were sitting there respectfully, and I hope it isn't allowed over time to obscure the fact that this was the President of the United States standing in Baghdad next to the democratically elected Shia Prime Minister of a multiconfessional Iraq that has just signed agreements of friendship and cooperation with the United States for the long term.

Zain Verjee: But the man may have been one journalist, but he was viewed throughout much of the Arab world as a real hero.

Condi Rice: Oh, I --

Zain Verjee: My question is --

Condi Rice: I have heard so many people --
Zain Verjee: My question to you is --
Condi Rice: Yes?

Zain Verjee: -- does it bother you that with all the diplomacy that you've done, President Bush's policies, the policies that you've carried out --

Condi Rice: Zain --
Zain Verjee: that the US is so loathed around the world?

Condi Rice: Zain, the United States is not loathed. The policies of the United States are sometimes not liked. People don't like that we've had to say hard things and do hard things about terrorism. People don't like that we've spoken fiercely for the right of Israel to defend itself at the same time that we've advocated for a Palestinian state. But I have to go back. So many people in and around when that incident happened told me how embarrassed they were by the fact that that had happened. But the crux --

Zain Verjee: But didn't it upset you? Didn't it?

Condi Rice: No, no, only the focus of those who are supposed to be reporting for history didn't focus on the historical moment, which is what this was -- the President of the United States in Baghdad, for goodness sake, with a freely elected prime minister in a show of friendship. It didn't get reported that the Iraqi band spent apparently several -- all night trying to learn our national anthem and did it really rather well.

No, she's not that stupid. She is an educated woman and she knows damn well that the history books do not spend pages and pages on how the British band played "The World Turned Upside Down" as the British surrendered at Yorktown in 1781 -- or how many hours of practice the band had. She knows that, November 5, 1913, when then Col. Teddy Rossevelt landed in Argentina on the Rosario, the military band played both the US and the Argentine national anthems but that's not really a main item in the history books -- nor is how long the band practiced before their performance. The things she refers to are the details -- as she well knows -- while the news is the shoe toss. At the State Dept today Sean McCormack parroted and referenced Rice's really bad interview. As the head of the alleged diplomatic arm of the US plays the fool,
Reporters Without Borders started calling for the release of Muntadar on Tuesday:

We obviously regret that the journalist used this method of protest against the politics of the American press. But for humanitarian reasons and to ease tension, we call for the release of Muntadar al-Zaidi who has been held by the Iraqi authorities for two days.
Given the controvery surrounding this incident, we urge the Iraqi security services to guarantee the physical wellbeing of this journalist, who was clearly injured during his arrest.
While we do not approve of this kind of behaviour as a means of expressing an opinion or convictions, the relaxed way in which George W Bush spoke about the incident afterwards, should give the Iraqi authorities all the more reason to show leniency.

Wall St. Journal's Baghdad Life blog reminds that the issue in Iraq isn't just the Bully Boy of the United States, "the jokes also include Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who held out his hand to try to block the second shoe thrown at Mr. Bush." On al-Maliki, Martin Sieff (UPI) declares, "The plotters arrested in Iraq's Interior Ministry did not pose a serious threat to the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. But the very existence of the plot throws enormous doubt over the survival and stability of Iraq's 3-year-old democratic system, once the main combat force of the U.S. armed forces leaves the country." Coup! Oh goodness! Oh nonsense. Al Jazeera reports that Ministry of Interior's Abdul-Karim Khalaf for the record "dismissed suggestions that they [those arrested] had been plotting a coup." Aseel Kami and Waleed Ibrahim (Reuters) add that "Khalaf ridiculed speculation about a coup" and declared, "Suggesting there is a coup going on in Iraq is like saying an ant is going out to arrest an elephant." Al Jazeera notes: "Brigadier-General Alaa al-Taei, the ministry's head of public relations, said those arrested were not accused of plotting a coup, but were suspected of planning to burn down the ministry, possibly to destroy evidence again" while MP Abbas al-Bayati states, "I think talking about a coup is an exaggeration." Campbell Robertson and Tariq Maher (New York Times) broke the story and set the pattern for over reliance on official whispers. Sudarsan Raghavan and Qais Mizher (Washington Post) stuck with the facts: "It was unclear precisely why the officials were arrested. Some said it was because they were involved in corruption involving the issuing of fake documents and car license plates. Others described a more diabolical plot to resurrect al-Awda, or the Reutrn, a party composed of Hussein's loyalists that has been banned by the government. . . . Also unknown was whether the officials were trying to plot the overthrow of Maliki, who has been trying to cement his power in recent months, raising tensions with various political parties." Oliver August (Times of London) noted a problem with the reported versions early on, "Contrary to media reports that an elite military unit controlled by the Prime Minister made the arrests, the ministry spokesman said, 'The officers were connected to the Baath Party [once run by Saddam Hussein[ and they were arrested by our forces inside the ministry'." Raheem Salman and Ned Parker (Los Angeles Times) added, "Western officials have described Maliki a religious Shiite, as deeply suspicious of a coup by Iraqi security officers, many of whom are secular and nostalgic for the old Iraqi army. The prime minister has long sought to consolidate his power and control of the army and police. All security forces now report back to his office."

Semi-Iraq note that should be higher up because it is POLICY. Don't e-mail this site whining that you want your name removed from a publicity release sent out by an organization to be noted and noted here two years ago. You shouldn't have taken part with the organization if you didn't want to be listed publicly (by them). You and your actions are now part of the public record and NO, I DO NOT SCRUB that. The public record is the public record. Writing that you now have "privacy concerns"? You took part in public actions, you are now part of the public record. You can't airbrush it out. You went to DC to bear witness (and confront Congress) and you were available for interviews -- as one of the organization's press releases noted. Sorry, that's public record. We don't rewrite history here. Jess read the e-mail and Googled the woman's name. She can try contacting the organization, Common Dreams and assorted other sites and maybe she'll have better luck with them but we do not alter the public record just because someone's no longer comfortable with their actions.

Washington Post reminds everyone of president-elect Barack Obama's words last January: And when I am President, we will end this war in Iraq and bring our troops home; we will finish the job against al Qaeda in Afghanistan; we will care for our veterans; we will restore our moral standing in the world; and we will never use 9/11 as a way to scare up votes, because it is not a tactic to win an election, it is a challenge that should unite America and the world against the common threats of the twenty-first century: terrorism and nuclear weapons; climate change and poverty; genocide and disease.

This as
Elisabeth Bumiller and Thom Shanker (New York Times) report that Barack's 16-month pledge on Iraq appears to be out the window as Generals Ray Odierno and David Petraeus' proposal was presented to Barack on combat forces being removed from Iraq (only combat forces). The reporters state the meeting took place last week and lasted over five hours. This revelation comes after a string of them including, as Sudarsan Raghavan and Qais Mizher (Washington Post) explained Sunday, "American combat troops will remain inside Iraqi cities to train and mentor Iraqi forces after next summer, despite a security agreement that calls for their withdrawal from urban areas by June 30, the top U.S. military commander said Saturday."
While US forces aren't leaving anytime soon, Blackwater may be. Today at the State Dept, Sean McCormack was asked if Blackwater's contract (to protect the State Dept) would be renewed and he replied:

Well, there's a draft Inspector General's report circulating. It's not yet completed. I'm not going to comment on any of the particulars of it. I will -- let me just back up a bit and talk about the decision-making process, about how we protect our diplomats in Iraq as well as elsewhere around the world. Specifically on Iraq, we all recall the incidents around September 17th, and I know the FBI recently announced some moves to prosecute some individuals who were connected with those events who work for Blackwater. That is going down a separate pathway, and the FBI and the Department of Justice can talk about those actions.

Scott Shane (New York Times) writes of the draft, "The report says that if State Department contractors lose their immunity from criminal prosecution under Iraqi law, as many officials expect, employees of Blackwater and other contractors may choose to leave Iraq or demand higher pay. . . . Unlike some American contractors in Iraq, Blackwater does not have a license, but it has applied for one. Iraqi authorities have allowed it to operate while officials consider the application." Most important, Shane notes that the draft report warns that it is likely Blackwater will be banned by the Iraqi government. That really removes the decision from the State Dept unless it makes a decision quickly. Senators John Kerry and Bob Casey Jr. sent a letter to Secretary Rice this week:

Dear Madam Secretary: We are writing in response to recent news reports that Blackwater Worldwide ("Blackwater") -- which earlier this year had its multi-million dollar contract renewed with the U.S. State Department ("State") -- now intends to move away from private security contracting. As you know, Blackwater received harsh scrutiny for its heavy-handed U.S. private security efforts in Iraq following the deaths of 17 Iraqis in a September 16, 2007 shooting at Nisoor Square in Baghdad. While we welcome the opportunity that Blackwater's apparent decision provides to turn the page on contractor abuses, the move also raises important questions about the future role of private security contractors in personal protective service missions in Iraq and elsewhere. Blackwater's decision highlights longstanding concerns about the wisdom of relying so heavily on security contractors to perform overseas personnel protection missions. Looking ahead, to assess how these missions can be executed in the future, we request your help in providing answers to the following questions: (i) Under Secretary of State Patrick Kennedy said last week that he has not been notified of any change in Blackwater's intent to fulfill its renewed Worldwide Personal Protective Services (WPPS) contract. Is that your understanding? (ii) We understand that such a contract may be terminated at any time that it is considered in the United States' best interests to do so. Assuming that Blackwater intends to honor its recently-renewed contract, would a criminal indictment arising out of the September 16, 2007 incident be grounds for termination of its contract? (iii) On May 10, 2008, the New York Times cited claims by State officials that "only three companies in the world meet their requirements for protective services in Iraq, and the other two do not have the capability to take on Blackwater's role in Baghdad." Do you agree with this assessment? What had State been doing prior to this week's news to respond to this alleged capacity shortfall? (iv) Under Secretary Kennedy has stated that, "[i]f the contractors were removed, we would have to leave Iraq." Taken together with the aforementioned May 10, 2008 statements attributed to State officials, it is clear that our options in Iraq are limited, perhaps even more so after Blackwater's reported decision to reduce significantly its private security profile. What, if any, steps does State propose to take to lessen its dependence on private security contractors? (v) In light of Blackwater's decision, are you considering expanding the number of full-time employees in the Diplomatic Security Service ("DS")? The October 2007 Report on the Secretary's Panel on Personal Protective Services in Iraq called for an overall increase of 100 positions in DS. What steps are being taken to implement this recommendation? Would State consider adding a more limited subset of DS personnel who are trained exclusively in personal protective services (rather than typically more general law enforcement activities) to improve relevant skills and contain costs? (vi) In response to a question Senator Kerry had posed in a June 5, 2008 letter regarding contingency plans in the event that contractor support becomes unavailable, the Assistant Secretary of Legislative Affairs Jeffrey Bergner wrote that work will be "competed or awarded sole source (depending on the circumstances) among the remaining WPPS vendors." However, given that State officials have previously cited a dearth of vendors and their apparent lack of capacity, is this a viable contingency plan? Has State prepared any other risk mitigation plans in the event Blackwater or other private security contractors are unable or unwilling to fulfill their contracts? (vii) As the United States reduces its troop presence in Iraq, do you anticipate increased military resources will be contributed to provide for the security of diplomatic personnel serving in Iraq, or do you anticipate this security responsibility will continue to fall to private security contractors? (viii) Where is the line that divides permissible conduct by private security contractors from their performance of "inherently governmental" functions? How have recent negative incidents in Iraq and Afghanistan informed your views, if at all, on this subject? Your prompt answers to these important questions can demonstrate that our government fully understands the implications of hiring private companies to engage in overseas security contracting, and has a sustainable plan to protect diplomatic personnel in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere consistent with American interests and values. Thank you for your serious and timely consideration of this request. We look forward to hearing from you regarding this critical matter. Sincerely, John Kerry
Bob Casey, Jr.


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad mortar attack last night that claimed 1 life and six more people injured, a Baquba roadside bombing today that left eighteen injured and a Mosul roadside bombing that claimed the life of 1 Iraqi soldier and left a second injured.


Reuters notes 3 'suspects' shot dead in Mosul, 1 police officer wounded in Mosul and 1 police officer shot dead in Mosul.


Reuters notes Jelawish Hussein's corpse was discovered in Kirkuk. The woman was "a member of the Communist party in Kirkuk".

Last night, Stan offered "
Margret Kimberley, The Black Apologist," Cedric "Twinkees," Wally "THIS JUST IN! 2 PEAS IN A POD!," Trina's "St. Barack disappoints yet again," Mike's "Chuck and realities," Rebecca's "heroes and cry baby sarah posner," Marcia's "Barack shows the 'love' again," Ruth's "Barack's homophobia runs wild," Elaine's "Barack goes after the teachers unions," Kat's "The auto crisis" and Betty's "The New Adventures of Old Christine." Stan, Ruth and Marcia covered Barack's latest attack on the LGBT community. From People For the American Way, "People For the American Way 'Profoundly Disappointed' that Rick Warren Will Give Invocation:"People For the American Way President Kathryn Kolbert responded today to the news that Rev. Rick Warren of Saddleback Church will deliver the invocation at the presidential inauguration of Barack Obama: It is a grave disappointment to learn that pastor Rick Warren will give the invocation at the inauguration of Barack Obama. Pastor Warren, while enjoying a reputation as a moderate based on his affable personality and his church's engagement on issues like AIDS in Africa, has said that the real difference between James Dobson and himself is one of tone rather than substance. He has recently compared marriage by loving and committed same-sex couples to incest and pedophilia. He has repeated the Religious Right's big lie that supporters of equality for gay Americans are out to silence pastors. He has called Christians who advance a social gospel Marxists. He is adamantly opposed to women having a legal right to choose an abortion. I'm sure that Warren's supporters will portray his selection as an appeal to unity by a president who is committed to reaching across traditional divides. Others may explain it as a response to Warren inviting then-Senator Obama to speak on AIDS and candidate Obama to appear at a forum, both at his church. But the sad truth is that this decision further elevates someone who has in recent weeks actively promoted legalized discrimination and denigrated the lives and relationships of millions of Americans. Rick Warren gets plenty of attention through his books and media appearances. He doesn't need or deserve this position of honor. There is no shortage of religious leaders who reflect the values on which President-elect Obama campaigned and who are working to advance the common good.

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Chuck and realities

Hump day, hump day. We're almost done with the week and on to the weekend!

Chuck airs Monday nights on NBC and this week's episode found Chuck and Sarah with a serious problem between them that Sarah doesn't even know about.

The episode started with a 'crazed gun man' driving into (through the walls) the Buy More and holding Chuck and everyone else working there hostage -- plus Chuck's sister and Dr. Awesome who were shopping there. So Chuck ends up connecting with the 'gunmen' and talking to him during this crisis. The police arrive and the head of it eventually makes it into the Buy More right after the 'gunman' releases Sarah and Casey (who got his toe shot off) to show good-faith.

Lie! He was getting them out of there. The gunman and the cop actually work for the Evil Fulcrum. They know Sarah and Casey's real identities and assume they must be assigned to the area because they're guarding something important. So they set up the whole hostage thing to find out what it is. Chuck flashes on the cop and realizes he's Fulcrum and warns the gunman at which point he finds out the gunman is Fulcrum as well.

And Sarah and Casey are no where to help.

The cop takes Chuck outside and to an ambulance. Sub-stories included Anna thinking Morgan wasn't manly enough and fawning over another guy until he kissed her when she told him off. Morgan missed that part and just saw the start of the kiss.

Sarah makes it to the Christmas tree lot where the cop has Chuck. She tells Chuck to run and she'll take care of it. She trains her gun on the cop and tells him he's under arrest and going away for a long time.

He then explains he is high placed in Fulcrum and they will stop at nothing to break him free at which point Chuck's cover will be blown. To save Ellie (Chuck's sister) from being killed, Chuck told the cop he had the intersect in his head.

So Sarah shoots him dead.

And Chuck has doubled back and sees the whole thing.

But Sarah doesn't know that.

Later at the Buy More, he asks her what happened and she tells him the guy's been taken off to a prison. He is looking at her in a different way and this is apparently going to be a huge problem for them.

Now let's talk Baby Barack. He is the new Bully Boy. He and the current one are so much alike but everyone wants to pretend otherwise. They're both obsessive about their workouts. (People forget all the pride Bush took in his girlish figure before the start of the illegal war, same way Barack does today.) So the LAT blogs have two incidents and people really should pay attention to them.

From "Obama goes to school, talks Iraq, royalty, decimals and dog poop:"

Obama also cut off a reporter seeking a reconciliation between Obama's previous promise to keep a hands-off approach to choosing his Senate successor and revelations that his chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, did, in fact, discuss the succession with Blagojevich in meetings apparently wiretapped by federal agents but not yet released by Obama.
Obama said he wouldn't let the reporter waste time asking a question he had no intention of answering. So there.

Helen Thomas better be getting some rest, she's really going to need it when the latest egomaniac hits the White House. Also remember how Bully Boy loves to insult his underlings publicly? At the same school visit, Barack 'joked' about how Joe Biden was so stupid he didn't know how to do decimals. Again, Barack's nothing but a Bully.

Now we're going to "Move along, folks, nothing to see here: Obama on Blagojevich:"

President-elect Barack Obama re-re-explains the delay in releasing the promised list of contacts between his office and that of accused Illinois Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich over filling Obama's now vacant U.S. Senate seat.We have two news videos this morning. One just below shows Obama's own words on the Blagojevich case. And the other on the jump (click the "Read more" line) covers the Illinois legislature's first day of gubernatorial impeachment proceedings in Springfield.
According to Obama, the contact chronology and list are complete and do not contradict his statement last week that nothing inappropriate was done by him or his staff.But no one can see it yet.

Yeah, accountability! If you consider the current White House accountable. Most normal humans don't consider it accountable but it's Barack's role model. The Cult really doesn't know what it has begged for. They'll soon find out.

Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Wednesday, December 17, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, Gordon Brown captures headlines, justice in Iraq remains a joke, the State Dept appears to publicly being doing everything they can to ensure the creation of a martyr, and more.

Muntathar al Zaidi is the journalist who threw his shoes at the Bully Boy of the United States on Sunday and has been imprisoned since.
Jenan Hussein and Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) report on today's actions in support of Muntathar which included, "Students raised their shoes and threw rocks at American soldiers, who reportedly opened fire above the crowd. Protesters said that indirect fire wounded one student, Zaid Salih. U.S. forces haven't confirmed the account." Demonstrations have been taking place throughout Iraq since Monday demanding the release of the journalist and they continued today when, AP reported this morning, Muntadar was expected to see his case taken to the Central Criminal Court of Iraq today where it would be determined whether or not futher judicial review is needed, with some calling for him to be charged "with insulting a foreign leader, a charge that carries a maximum of 2 years imprisonment or a small fine."
Timothy Williams and Abeer Mohammed (New York Times) explained that "Iraqi criminal lawyers not involved in the case say there are several possible charges he could face, including initiating an aggressive act against the head of a foreign state on an official visit, with a potential punishment of seven years in prison. A less severe charge, insulting the leader of a foreign nation, carries a sentence of up to two years in prison or a fine of 200 Iraqi dinars, about 17 cents. A third possible crime, simple aggression, is punishable by up to one year in prison or a fine." Catherine Philp (Times of London) reports on a new development, "The brother of Muntadhar al-Zeidi, who secured his place in infamy with his outburst at the President's press conference in Baghdad, claimed that the Shia journalist had been so badly beaten in custody that police were unable to produce him in court.
Mr al-Zeidi's family were told that a court hearing had been held in his jail cell instead and that they would not be allowed to see him for at least another eight days." Dargham al-Zeidi is quoted stating, "That means my brother was severely beaten and they fear that his appearance could trigger anger at the court."
BBC quotes Muntadhar's brother Uday al-Zeidi stating, "We waited until 10 in the morning but Muntadar did not show up. Upon inquiring as to his whereabouts, we were told that the interrogating judge had gone to see him, something that contradicts the measures followed in all international laws in general."

While Dana Perino,
speaking for the White House Tuesday, has made clear the White House's position ("So we hold no hard feelings about it, and we've really moved on"), the US State Dept continues to appear caught off guard. Monday spokesperson Robert Wood declared, "I mean, look at how President Bush was received overall by Prime Minister Maliki and others in the Iraqi government. I think it says a lot." Today, Wood continued to spin when asked if the US was taking a position on the case, "That's -- look -- this all happened in the context of Iraq's democracy and that will be a decision for the Iraqis as to whether or not this person is charged. . . . But look, Iraq's a democracy, these type of things happen in a democracy and that's all I can say about it." Challenged that he was avoiding the issue, Wood responded, "I'm not ducking anything. It's an Iraqi matter so it should be left to the Iraqis to deal with." Wood is ducking everything including skirting the issue of anyone facing the Iraqi judicial system. On Monday Staffan de Mistura, United Nations Special Representative to Iraq was sounding alarms regarding the Iraqi judicial system. Kim Gamel (AP) reported, "Concern is currently focused on the beleaguered Iraqi judicial system, with the United Nations warning in a recent human rights report about overcrowding and 'grave human rights violations' of detainees in Iraqi custody." Also this week Human Rights Watch issued a report on Iraq's Central Crimal Court - the court Muntadar went before today. Reuters noted of the report, "They also received ineffectual legal counsel and judges frequently relied on testimony from secret informants or confessions likely to have been extracted under torture or duress, the New York-based group said in a report. Impartial administration of justice for all Iraqis was supposed to be a hallmark of the country's break with the abuses of the Saddam Hussein era and help heal sectarian divides after years of horrific violence, it said."

Los Angeles Times' Babylon & Beyond noted the growing cry to relase Muntadar including "A Sunni lawmaker, Noureldeen Hiyali, held a news conference to defend Zaidi, saying the reporter had cracked after more than five years of war as seen through the close-up angle of a reporter." Jenan Hussein and Adam Ashton (McClatchy Newspapers) offer, "Zaidi's employer, the Baghdadiya satellite channel, hasn't criticized its reporter. To the contrary, it's resisted a call for an apology to the government and called for Zaidi's unconditional release." CBS and AP note international actions today included: "In Pakistan, demonstrators held a candlelight vigil outside the U.S. Consulate in Lahore on Wednesday, carrying photographs of al-Zeidi and hand-painted signs saying things like 'Hush, Hush Bush. We Hate You.' And on a road in Karachi, a man painted "10" inside a large outline of a foot, with an arrow pointing to 'BUSH' --- a reference to Bush's joke about the shoe's size. At a small rally outside the Iraqi Embassy in Ankara, Turkey, the head of a civil servant union displayed a pair of shoes he said he intends to send to al-Zeidi as a show of support." In Iraq, Catherine Philp (Times of London) explains, "Anger at Mr al-Zeidi's treatment erupted none the less, hijacking a legislative session in Parliament, provoking stand-up rows and prompting the resignation of the assembly's notoriously hot-tempered Speaker." She then quotes Mahmoud al-Mashhadani stating, "I have no honour leading this parliament and I announce my resignation." Al Jazeera observes that Muntadhar was one of several issues causing the uproar: "Mahmoud al-Mashhadani, Iraq's parliament speaker, has threatened to resign following house arguments concerning the presence of foreign troops and the imprisonment of a local journalist who threw his shoes at George Bush."

Bobby Ghosh (Time magazine) offers this evaluation, "Still, al-Zaidi may have done Bush a favor. In an ABC News interview the next day, the President conceded for the first time that al-Qaeda had no presence in Iraq before the U.S. invasion, adding, "So what?" In another news cycle, this admission would have dominated the headlines: that after the debunking of Bush's original excuse for war--Saddam's weapons of mass destruction--his argument that Iraq was a crucial nexus in the global war on terrorism also held no water. Thanks to al-Zaidi, nobody heard the other shoe drop." And while that puts the Bully Boy into perspective, Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) explains that the folk hero journalist may be sparking a movement as the non-stop closing of a bridge in Baghdad is not merely tolerated today:

Around 12:30 p.m. several vehicles loaded with Iraqi soldiers accompanying two or three buses stopped in mid square and tried to close it (like every day) but drivers refused to obey. We are tired of closed roads.
The horns of tens of cars were loud. Angry drivers yelled at soldiers. Not even when the soldiers brandished their rifles at the cars would the drivers stop. There were shots in the air, but the vehicles continued on. The military saw, for the first time I think, mass anger for blocking roads.
I have been in this square almost every day for the last four years, on the way to one official function or another, and nothing like this has ever happened. This time, the soldiers were forced to park their vehicles in a way that allowed civilian cars to pass.

Which brings us back to Robert Wood and his remarks on behalf of the State Dept. The US State Dept has repeatedly demonstrated it grasps very little. That is how Moqtada al-Sadr found renewed status in February of this year. If the State Dept wants to risk the transformation of a folk hero into a martyr, then they should continue to sit on the sidelines and do nothing.

In other news, Prime Minister Gordon Brown was in Baghdad today and he and puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki issued
the following joint-statement: "The role played by the UK combat forces is drawing to a close. These forces will have completed their tasks in the first half of 2009 and will then leave Iraq." Brown expects the British 'military operations' to conclude in May and for British troops to 'leave' in July. Tina Susman (Los Angeles Times) explains, "When Brown became prime minister in 2007, he made it clear that he planned to greatly reduce the number of British troops in Iraq. His initial plan, to bring the number down to about 2,500 by the end of last year and to withdraw completely by the end of 2008, stalled after an Iraqi army offensive prompted major clashes with Shiite Muslim militias last spring in the southern city of Basra, where the British contingent is based." Mark Deen and Caroline Alexander (Bloomberg News) remind, "The U.K. and the U.S. stood alone in the invasion against the objections of France, China and Russia, damaging the popularity of government on both sides of the Atlantic and leading to the resignation of Blair in 2007." The illegal war drove Tony Blair out of office and ushered in Gordon Brown with the hopes that he would heed British public opinion and end the country's involvement in the Iraq War. That still has not happened and today's announcement does not promise to pull all British troops from Iraq.

It's being callead a "withdrawal" but, "
withdrawal" was when the British forces fled their base in Maysan Province with less than 24 hours notice back in August of 2007. All the British forces fled. That's a withdrawal. What's being touted currently is a conditional drawdown. If the conditions Gordon Brown outlines -- similar to the ones he outlined September 14, 2007 and, on his first visit to Iraq as Prime Minister, October 7, 2007 -- hold, then the UK will reduce their troops to approximately 300 troops which will be called "military advisers."In light of what's being (falsely billed) as "withdrawal" today, it's worth quoting Gordon Brown's words in Baghdad on October 7, 2007:So what we propose to do over these next few months is to move from a situation where we had a combat role to one where we have an overwatch role; where the Iraqis increasingly take over, with the 30,000 that they have, responsibility for their own security; and with us, as the British, having an overwatch so that we maintain a facility for re-intervention if necessary, but at the same time we play a greater role in training future security forces in Iraq.
Even today, he's not promising fully withdrawing and his remarks are 'conditions based.'
Deborah Haynes (Times of London) marvels, "It's hard to see how the job is done in Basra when thousands of American soldiers are being rotated into the province as British troops prepare to leave. They will be training the police, mentoring the border guards and may even be required to embed with the Iraqi army, the flagship product of six years of British efforts in southern Iraq."

Corey Flintoff (NPR) notes the following nations will be departing from Iraq by December 31, 2008: the Ukraine, Czech Republic, Bularia, Denmark, Albania, Lithuania and Moldova. Actually one of those countries has withdrawn as of today. For those who are confused, SOFIA News Agency explains today that Bulgaria last unit of troops that were stationed in Iraq arrived "at the SOFIA International Airport Wednesday afternoon." That would be a withdrawal. A withdrawal is like a pregnancy in that there's no such things as "a little bit withdrawal." It either is or isn't. The Bulgarian News Network opens their coverage with: "Every last Bulgarian soldier is now withdrawn from Iraq as the plane with the last contingent touched down on Sofia Airport Wedensday." Bulgaria lost 13 soldiers in Iraq since the start of the illegal war in March 2003. This morning Bulgaria's DC Embassy confirmed that all Bulgarian forces are out of Iraq. SOFIA News Agency notes Nancy McEldowney, US Ambassador to Bulgaria, issued a statement praising Bulgarian forces which included the following: "Bulgaria has proven itself an unwavering friend and invaluable ally. The decision to join the Coalition's efforts was not an easy one and it did not come without cost. ... The United States salutes the brave men and women who serve in the Bulgarian Armed Forces and is honored to stand as a genuine friend and true partner of this fine country."

In the US the State Dept garners attention for a new report as yet officialy unreleased. The report covers the mercanaries-for-hire Blackwater Worldwide.
CBS and AP explain, "The 42-page draft report by the State Department's Inspector General says the department faces 'numerous challenges' in dealing with the security situation in Iraq, including the prospect that Blackwater may be barred from the country. The department would have turn to other security arrangements to replace Blackwater, officials said." BBC explains that Blackwater "has been under intense scrutiny" since the September 16, 2007 slaughter in Baghdad resulted in the deaths of at least 17 Iraqis and that 5 "employees have now been charged in the US with manslaughter and otehr offences, but the company itself has not faced charges." Tim Reid (Times of London) adds,"If Blackwater is dropped next year, it is not clear how it will be replaced. The department relies heavily on private security guards. There are an estimated 30,000 in Iraq and Ryan Crocker, the US Ambassador in Bagdhad, told Congress last year: 'There is simply no way at all that the State Department's Bureau of Diplomatic Security could ever have enough full-time personnel to staff the security function in Iraq'."
Turning to some of today's reported violence . . .


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad "double explosion" (car bombing and roadside bombing) that claimed 18 lives and left fifty-two people wounded, a Mosul roadside bombing that claimed 2 lives and left four people injured, and, dropping back to Tuesday night, a Mosul sticky bombing that claimed 2 lives.


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 1 person was kidnapped Tuesday night in Mosul.


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 1 person was wounded in a shooting outside of Kirkuk last night.

On the topic of Kirkuk, the
United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq issues the following press release:

The Special Representative of the Secretary General for Iraq (SRSG) Mr. Staffan de Mistura embarked on Tuesday, 16 December on a two-day trip to the city of Kirkuk to discuss the situation there with local leaders and representatives of the various communities. Mr. de Mistura's visit comes on the heels of the tragic bombing that killed and wounded dozens of innocent civilians at a popular restaurant on 11 December.
During his visit, the SRSG is holding meetings to discuss the important work of Article 23 Committee with all relevant parties, and to stress the UN's readiness to provide it with technical assistance. He is exploring with his counterparts the ways and means through which the United Nations can augment its contribution for the reconstruction and development in Kirkuk.
During his many meetings with members of the Kirkuk Provincial Council, heads of different political parties, and religious, civil society and tribal leaders Mr. de Mistura heard from his interlocutors some suggestions and ideas for increased engagement between the UN and the people of Kirkuk.

In November the United Nations was supposed to release a report regarding Kirkuk, the release of those recommendations have been put on hold until after the provincial elections scheduled for January 31st currently. (Oil rich Kirkuk will not be taking part in the elections.)

In non-Iraq news, independent journalist
David Bacon latest book is Illegal People -- How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants (Beacon Press) and it has created a stir. Laura Carlsen reviews the book at Foreign Policy in Focus:

The immediate challenge is to build a broad-based movement to pass a fair and humane reform that grants all workers and their families equal rights and protections under the law. David Bacon's book, Illegal People: How Globalization Creates Immigration and Criminalizes Immigrants provides essential tools to envision and fight for this reform. For that reason, Michele Wucker's biased interpretation and portrayal of the book does this budding movement a disservice. There are two fundamental differences of opinion between Wucker and Bacon that must come to the forefront of the debate on how to frame this reform. The first question is the bad apples one - whether the numerous cases of employer abuse of undocumented workers and guestworkers that Bacon describes are anomalies or corporate labor strategies for reducing costs and increasing profits. Wucker states that Bacon chronicles the misdeeds of "bad-apple employers" while giving short shrift to "employers who would hire workers with papers if the system provided a way to do so" and that Bacon's "cut-and-dried labor-good, corporate-bad message doesn't leave room for such subtleties." The problem isn't one of subtleties - it's a question of how we analyze the real forces opposing legalization for migrant workers and what kind of strategies we build based on that. Bacon's book is devoted to documenting the structural aspects of the use of visa and undocumented workers in the United States and how that has become a major strategy for competition and profits in the age of globalization. He describes a series of corporate-led policies and practices - trade agreements that displace workers in their countries of origin, the criminalization of work, the definition of people as illegal, and the use of migrant labor to erode labor rights - that create a system of abuse. After reading the skilled combination of history, personal testimonies, statistics and logically constructed arguments, it's difficult to see this system as anything less than a widespread corporate strategy based on fundamentally unfair practices. Immigration Myths Debunked Bacon debunks several myths of the immigration debate that have led to dead-ends. One is that employers would hire native workers if they could. Bacon cites many statistical studies showing that the increase in migrant labor has been accompanied by an increase in unemployment among certain sectors of U.S. workers, especially black workers. The reason is not that migrants do work U.S. workers won't do. It's that employers have actively replaced organized workers and workers with exercisable rights with the more easily manipulated migrant workforce.

The same link will take you to Mary Bauer's review and Michele Wucker. Meanwhile last night's community posts explored Peanuts, Stan's "The Invisible Franklin," Mike's "Charlie Brown stinks at baseball," Rebecca's "i always identified with sally brown," Marcia's "The Outing of Charlie Brown," Betty's "Franklin and Violet," Ruth's "A Jewish perspective," Trina's "Peanuts in the Kitchen," Elaine's "Snoopy and Woodstock," and Kat's "Charles Shultz' women." Cedric's "Park Avenue Prisoner Edwin Schlossberg " and Wally's "THIS JUST IN! EDWIN SCHLOSSBERG, PRISONER OF PARK AVENUE!" (joint-post) went up this morning.

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