Friday, August 21, 2009
Gunnar Swanson is an Iraq War veteran and he's doing a march entitled A Soldier's March for Peace. Chris Johnson (Citizen-Observer) reports on his march from Dallas to Northfield "to raise funds to support War Kids Relief, a project designed to take care of children traumatically affected by war." And he's got some pictures with the story too. Swanson's march is set to end September 10th in Northfield, Minnesota. Ray Scherer (The News-Press & St. Joe Now) reports:
After spending eight years in the Guard and 2003-2004 in Iraq, he decided it was time to restart friendly relations with the children who once sold blocks of ice to chill desert-scorched bottled water.
“We want to make kids be part of the solution,” the 31-year-old said.
He has walked from 15 to 20 miles daily, and started out on his one-man journey from Dallas on July 4. He intends to reach Northfield, Minn., in time to hold a Sept. 11 event at that city’s veterans’ memorial.
“The reaction that we always get is positive,” he said. Part of the adventure has involved getting briefly lost on unmarked roads in northern Kansas.
Children are the focus of War Kids Relief, which also collects letters and artwork that will be delivered to Iraq and Afghanistan.
So that's pretty cool and probably pretty cool to be a kid in school and get a visit from Gunnar Swanson to your class. Whether it was school or Church, we were always excited, growing up, when anyone came to talk to us and if they'd visited somewhere else or were from somewhere else it was always even more interesting. And that's my Friday post. I'm off vacation when I post next (Monday). Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"
Friday, August 21, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, a new round of scapegoating follows Wednesday's Baghdad bombings, the US announces charges against 4 of their own members, the DoD announced a death yesterday, Cindy Sheehan gears up for the demonstrations on Martha's Vineyard next week, and more.
Today on NPR's The Diane Rehm Show, Susan Page filled in for Diane who had a spill and will be off for a brief period. The second hour found Susan discussing international news with Thom Shanker, Nancy A. Youssef and Brian Winter. This morning the Chicago Tribune noted the death toll from Wednesday's bombings in Baghdad had risen to 101 and Wednesday's bombings were discussed early in the program.
Susan Page: You know, Brian, we also had a lot of violence this week in Iraq. What happened there?
Brian Winter: Well you saw two coordinated bombings and then a wave of minor attacks elsewhere in Baghdad on the same day. I think the latest death toll on that is at least 100. The reaction by the Iraqi government has been interesting, though. I think in some respects, they're acting almost like a young state should in these situations because you hear talk from the politicians about accountability from the security forces and apparently they've arrested some people for negligence. Um, there's been a lot of a kind of rush to judgment saying 'Well maybe Iraqis aren't able to provide security on their own.' But the fact is this all happened six weeks after the handover of control by US troops and then you see this-this really the first major attack in Baghdad during that time so I-I think that -- I think it'll be interesting over the next couple of weeks whether you see similar attacks like this or whether they manage to clamp down and bring things under control a little bit.
Susan Page: Thom, your paper this morning, the New York Times, there was a front page story that said the Iraqi government actually had asked for the help of US troops although they waited a couple of hours after the attacks and then tried to minimize or avoid acknowledging that they had done that
Thom Shanker: Well so much of it is about the optics. The administration of Prime Minister Maliki has said that they're ready to take on security, they are a sovereign state. But within three hours of these horrific attacks that Brian's just described, they did have to reach out to the American military that, as we all recall, has withdrawn outside the major cities. They needed the support. I think there are some really important tactical decisions facing Maliki right now. He has embarked on a program to pull down these giant concrete walls. All of us on this panel spent lots of time in Baghdad and they are ugly and they divide the city and yet they are very important to security. That is one step that he could change, he could stop the removal of those walls and that could increase security dramatically.
Susan Page: Why do the walls these concrete walls, barriers, increase security?
Thom Shanker: Because they allow you to seperate nieghborhoods, they allow you to have rather impregnable checkpoints so that you can see what vehicles are coming and going. At the same time, it is an overt and ugly sign that Maliki is really not in control of his country and he wants to remove those visual reminders of the occupation.
Susan Page: But Nancy are we seeing growing tensions, rifts, between the Sunnis and the Shi'ites there?
Nancy A. Youssef: Well I think what we're seeing is an-an insurgency that's evolving in part because of those walls coming down. The Foreign Ministry which was attacked, the bomb went off at a place where there was a checkpoint a few weeks ago. And it's hard for me to answer that question only in so much as you know when the walls were up the attacks were a lot more indiscriminate. The attacker would go to crowded markets where there were Shia because they couldn't get anywhere else and now with so many walls coming down so quickly, this time they went after a political headquarters so I'm not sure if it's an evolution of the Sunni-Shia rift or if it's an anti-government versus pro-insurgency rift. I don't know how -- how sectarian it is because the-the dismantling of those walls gives the insurgency a lot more opportunity to have more precise attacks.
Susan Page: Our phone lines are open You can give us a call at 1-800-433-8850. Bryan?
Brian Winter: Yeah but we knew this would happen though, right? Both Iraqi commanders and American commanders have been warning about this kind of attack, really since the beginning of June when the pullout of the troops from US cities started to happen. And as far as your question, Susan, about Sunni-Shi'ite rift, I'm not really sure that it's any worse than it was a couple of months ago. There are apparently some political tensions right now as they try to uh you know undergo this exercise of democracy, getting their coalitions together prior to the elections in January. But things overall seem certainly much better than they were a year, a year and a half ago.
Susan Page: Nancy?
Nancy A. Youssef: I think it might also speak to an Iraqi security force that is not capable yet of taking over the city as much as people thought when this began. Is this a test of what they can handle is this a sign that the Iraqi troops aren't ready? I mean how such huge explosives could penetrate so many checkpoints is a problem. And-and as Brian points out, with everything that happens in Iraq right now, is always politically motivated -- as were the taking down of those blast walls -- and I think one of the reasons that government was so hesitant to ask for US troops it's the one sign, the ultimate sign, the ultimate sign, that Iraqis are not in control, that they have to ask US forces to come back into the cities.
Susan Page: Thom, does this violence imperil the schedule that was set up for the withdrawal of most US combat troops?
Thom Shanker: Well, I mean the schedule can be altered at the request of the Iraqi administration but it is a treaty, I mean it is a bilateral agreement so it can't be changed on its own I think one very interesting point for those who are grasping for glimmers of optimism is that the Shia have thus far not really responded with the kind of violence we saw back in '06 that truly drove the country towards civil war. So I think that the Shi'ite leadership is looking at their numbers, looking at the future and thus far according to American intelligence and our colleagues on the ground in Iraq, they're being very restrained. If that restraint holds, then they may actually sort of get through this with a level of violence unacceptable to us but somehow manageable there.
Susan Page: Thom Shanker is Pentagon correspondent for the New York Times and we're also joined this hour by Nancy Youssef, Pentagon correspondent for McClatchy Newspapers and Brian Winter, the foreign editor for USA Today.
Adam Ashton (The Hive, Modesto Bee) reports on covering the bombing for McClatchy:
I notice we're driving toward the Green Zone entrance. If we can't drive to the bombings, we'll walk there.
The plan works, even in the noontime heat that makes your heart beat a little faster and the sweat roll down.
We approach the site of a buckled 12-story building and police and firefighters start hassling us about taking pictures.
"Right, I'll fix it by not taking a picture," Hammad barks at someone in a blue uniform.
(It's irritating when this happens in the states. There's something that feels especially wrong about that pressure when you're talking about a truck bomb that kills 60 people. People need to know that this happens, and they need to see how bad it is.)
I snap a couple pictures of the damaged Foreign Ministry before we decide that I'm risking having my camera confiscated. I slink back and take pictures of rows and rows of cars with shattered windows in a parking lot opposite the ministry.
We saw an elderly woman shopkeeper sorting out debris in her street-level store. The bomb knocked her to the ground and buried her underneath her shelves and goods. A taxi driver helped her out. His car was smashed and totaled by the bomb. We ask her a couple questions and she rails on the government that she says let this happen.
"Our house is destroyed. Where are we going to sleep tonight? It would be better if I had died," she says.
Last night Ashton and Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reported on the bombings in southern Iraq whose death toll had climbed to 30 with almost 200 wounded. As pointed out last night, that moved the number of dead reported yesterday to 40 and the injured to 71. Jomana Karadsheh (CNN) reports the latest news on Wednesday's bombing is Iraqi Maj Gen Qassim Atta is stating the attacks were carried out by "a cell" and -- yes, it's coming -- it's a cell connected to "the ousted Baath regime of Saddam Hussein". Translation, they still don't know who's responsible but they will milk the blame to their own benefit for as long as they think they can. (Karadsheh words it more kindly, "The Iraqi government in the past has made claims of arrests that did not hold up. In April, it said it had captured Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, the head of al Qaeda in Iraq's umbrella group, the Islamic State of Iraq. The Islamic State of Iraq denied it, and the capture was never confirmed by the U.S. military." And remember what outlet reported that arrest without skepticism? And remember how we don't bother that with that report as a result?) Gilbert Mercier (News Junkie Post) tracks the charges and counter-charges from various political parties in Iraq. Meanwhile Adam Ashton reports that the bombings may mean a shake up in the layers of "security" in Baghdad with members of Parliament demanding resignations: "About 50 lawmakers grilled the heads of Iraq's security departments Friday, seeking answers for how insurgents managed to place trucks loaded with thousands of pounds of explosives next to the ministries Wednesday, killing 95 people and wounding more than 1,200." And for the citizens? Jane Arraf (Christian Science Monitor) reports, "A day after Baghdad's worst bombings since February 2008, shops that normally would have been packed with Iraqis buying food for the frenzy of Ramadan cooking that many engage in after breaking the day's fast had only scattered buyers. Residents who ventured out had conflicting views about whether the government should pursue plans to take down the remaining blast walls around the capital." Rod Nordland wrote the New York Times front page story Susan Page referred to on The Diane Rehm Show. His article included: "The Iraqis also kept quiet about a decision by the prime minister late Wednesday to suspend his earlier order that all blast walls and similar fortifications be removed from the city by mid-September. An Iraqi government official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss security matters, said the suspension took immediate effect. There was no official announcement, but blast-wall removal that had been under way in the Salhiya area of Baghdad did not resume Thursday."
On The Diane Rehm Show, no one mentioned the report that came out earlier this week -- even though it refutes the notion of Shi'ite spiritual leaders 'healing' their own communities. Then again, no one on the show was from an outlet that bothered to offer an article on the report. USA Today did a brief blog post. Monday Human Rights Watch released a report entitled "'They Want Us Exterminated': Murder, Torture, Sexual Orientation and Gender in Iraq." For the 67-page report [PDF format warning] click here. Today Joshua Lynsen (Southern Voice Atlanta) notes the report and notes US Ambassador to Iraq Chris Hill insists, "We have requested that the Ministry of Interior investigate any and all allegations that Iraqi security forces were in any way involved in these attaks." Lynsen points out, "But the report says such words have translated into few actions, nothing that 'armed groups still are free to persecute and kill based on prejudice and hatred' and 'the state still greets their depredations with impunity'." Kevin Lynch (Gay & Lesbian Issues Examiner) adds, "Gay activists said militiamen loyal to Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr had target lists containing the names of men suspected of being gay. Some were killed and some were tortured. " At the end of July, Paul Wiseman and Nadeem Majeed (USA Today) wrote a lenghty article on the targeting of Iraq's LGBT community noting people like Hassan who "says he sometimes stays at home with his brothers -- their parents are dead -- but he's afraid even of them, afraid they will kill him because he has brought shame to the family."
In some of the violence reported today . . .
Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad sticky bombing which resulted in 2 deaths and twenty people injured, a Tal Afar bombing which claimed 1 life and left three peopel wounded, a Mosul roadside bombing which claimed the lives of 4 Iraqi soldiers and left one more injured and, dropping back to Thursday night, a Falluja bombing which wounded "two guards of Captain Jamal al Jumaili".
Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a drive-by attack on Sheikh Abdul Rahman Thahir Al-dhari in Falluja that left two of his guards wounded and a Kirkuk shooting incident where a husband and wife and their son were injured by unknown assailants.
Reuters notes 1 corpse (peshmerga) discovered in Mosul (he was kidnapped the day prior).
The Defense Dept issued a statement yesterday: The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. Spc. Matthew D. Hastings, 23, of Claremore, Okla., died Aug. 17 in Baghdad, Iraq, of injuries sustained from a non-combat related incident. He was assigned to the 582nd Medical Logistics Company, 1st Medical Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command, Fort Hood, Texas. The circumstances surrounding the incident are under investigation. For more information media may contact the Fort Hood public affairs office at (254) 287-9993; after hours (254) 287-2520; or via the internet at Fort Hood's news center online at http://www.hood.army.mil/news.paos.aspx . The announcement -- which never came from M-NF, brings the number of US service members who died in Iraq since the start of the illegal war to 4333.
July 28th, Nouri al-Maliki ordered an assault on Camp Ashraf -- a camp in Baghdad where dissident Iranians (labeled terrorists by the US government) live. The assault has been called out by Amnesty International and the ICRC (among others). It's also received little attention from 'alternative' media. Last week Tanya Snyder (Free Speech Radio News) reported on Camp Ashraf and among those she interviewed for the report were the International Committee of the Red Cross' Bernard Barrett who explained, "In particular concern is the whole principle of nonrefulment which basically means that a person cannot be forced to go back to a country where they have grounded or serious fears of persecution or ill treatment because of the ethnicity or political beliefs or religion or whatever." Ron Jacobs (at CounterPunch) notes the silence and explains the support in the US on the part of neocons before adding:
This attack and its aftermath is not about the PMOI's all too apparent coziness with elements of the neoconservative establishment in the United States. It is about a human rights violation by Washington's client government in Iraq. This is also not the recent elections in Iran and whether or not they were fair. It is about a group of dissidents who appear to be somewhat isolated from their natural constituency while also being surrounded by well-armed US and Iraqi military with instructions to keep them penned where they are.
It is wrong that the members of the PMOI were attacked by forces of the Maliki government in Baghdad on July 28 and 29, 2009 while US forces looked on. It is the right thing to expose this action and to ask that it not be repeated. The attack exists as a human rights violation in a country that is a vast ocean of human rights violations, many of them the result of the US invasion. It should be condemned. Yet, for some reason, the PMOI is asking one of the greatest human rights violators in Iraq and elsewhere around the world--the US government--to protect them.
As Ron knows but doesn't say (it's a brief article), the ties that bind many neocons is their Socialist roots. They were the Scoop Jackson Socialists, the ones who, in 1972, refused to endorse George McGovern because they believed in continuing the war on Vietnam ('we can't pull out!' they said sounding like socialists at a think tank today that's in the 'center'). (And that's when they split with the group that went on to become Democratic Socialists for America -- Gloria Steinem, Robin Morgan, Carl Davidson, etc. who were the left wing and non-neocon Socialists.) The Scoop Jackson Socialists moved over to the State Dept under Ronald Reagan and Reagan really was their complete embrace of the Republican Party. The residents of Camp Ashraf have Marxist roots and if support from neocons is noted, it should be noted that they not only share contempt for the current leadership in Iran, but also because they hail from similar political pasts.
Today the US military announced that Staff Sgt Enoch Chatman, Staff Sgt Bob Clements, Sgt Jarrett Taylor and Spc Daniel Weber are all "charged with cruelty and maltreatment of subordinates . . . The four Soliders are alleged to have treated Soldiers within their platoon inappropriately." CNN states they are accused of "cruelty and maltreatment of four subordinates in Iraq after a suicide investigation brought to light alleged wrongdoing, the military said Friday." Michelle Tan (Army Times via USA Today) reports, "The alleged mistreatment consisted of verbal abuse, physical punishment and ridicule of the subordinate soldiers, Lt. Col. Kevin Olson, spokesman for Multi-National Division-South wrote in an e-mail to Army Times."
"They gave me a gun" he said
"They gave me a mission
For the power and the glory --
Propaganda -- piss on 'em
There's a war zone inside me --
I can feel things exploding --
I can't even hear the f**king music playing
For the beat of -- the beat of black wings."
[. . .]
"They want you -- they need you --
They train you to kill --
To be a pin on some map --
Some vicarious thrill --
The old hate the young
That's the whole heartless thing
The old pick the wars
We die in 'em
To the beat of -- the beat of black wings"
-- "The Beat of Black Wings," words and music by Joni Mitchell, first appears on her Chalk Mark In A Rainstorm.
Danny Fitzsimons is facing a trial in Iraq and could be sentenced to death. He served in the British military for eight years and was stationed in Afghanistan and Kosovo. He is accused of being the shooter in a Green Zone incident this month in which 1 British contractor, Paul McGuigan, and 1 Australian contractor, Darren Hoare, died and one Iraqi, Arkhan Madhi, was injured. Eric and Liz Fitzsimons spoke to the BBC (link has video) and noted that they are not asking for Danny to 'walk.' They stated that he has to take responsibility. But they want a fair trial and do not believe that is possible in Iraq. His legal defense team doesn't believe he can get a fair trial either stating today that the British military's presence in Iraq during the war means that Fitzsimons will be used as scapegoat. Martin Chulov (Guardian) provides an interview with Danny Fitzsimons where the contractor explains he is blurry on the details of the night of the shooting and states, "I have sat here trying to think through the whys and the wherefores. I see Paul and Darren's faces every night before I sleep and every morning when I wake up. The only two people who can tell me what happened that night are both dead. All I know is that it went really, really bad, really quickly." Oliver August (Times of London) report that attorneys John Tipple and Nick Wrack believe they have found grounds (in Iraqi law -- dating back to 1930) for allowing Danny to be tried in England -- the dead are not Iraqis (one is British, one is Australian) so a transfer to country of origin is possible.
Turning to the United States, next week a demonstration against the illegal and ongoing wars:
Next week, Cindy Sheehan will join other like-minded peace activists to have a presence near the expensive resort on Martha's Vineyard where President Obama will be vacationing the week of August 23-30.
From her home in California, Ms. Sheehan released this statement:
"There are several things that we wish to accomplish with this protest on Martha's Vineyard. First of all, no good social or economic change will come about with the continuation or escalation of the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. We simply can't afford to continue this tragically expensive foreign policy.
Secondly, we as a movement need to continue calling for an immediate end to the occupations even when there is a Democrat in the Oval Office. There is still no Noble Cause no matter how we examine the policies.
Thirdly, the body bags aren't taking a vacation and as the US led violence surges in Afghanistan and Pakistan, so are the needless deaths on every side.
And, finally, if the right-wing can force the government to drop any kind of public option or government supported health care, then we need to exert the same kind of pressure to force a speedy end to the occupations."
Cindy Sheehan will arrive on the Vineyard on Tuesday, August 25th. For more information, or to request an interview with Cindy Sheehan please contact:
Laurie Dobson firstname.lastname@example.org(207) 604-8988 or Bruce Marshall email@example.com(802) 767-6079
Related, Charlie Gibson has embarrassed himself again. No, he didn't fall asleep on live TV. No, he didn't get caught lying to Gore Vidal (in the midst of an interview on Timothy McVeigh when Charlie didn't like what Gore was saying) that the satellite signal was going out. No, he didn't step into a job held by a man who'd been injured reporting in Iraq and by a woman who was being 'eased out' for the 'crime' of pregnancy. He didn't walk around an eatery with toilet paper on his shoe either (that happened at the start of the month). No, this time he just shot off his big, uninformed mouth. Conservative Byron York (Washington Examiner) reports that Morning Chat Charlie went on the radio yesterday and declared "Enough already" about Cindy's planned protest at Martha's Vineyard. I'm not aware of Charlie owning property there (I do) so I'm really not aware of why he feels the need to weigh in? It's not as if he's the voice of the Vineyard and from calls I've had, most are at worst curious. I'm referring to the people who own. Not the hangers on who rush out this time of year to play "Look at me!" Possibly including Charlie and surely including Barack and Michelle. As someone who owns property there and wouldn't be caught dead there at this time of year due to the influx of outside posers, I'd say the "Enough already" needs to go to them and not to Cindy Sheehan who's neither posing or pretending but utilizing her First Amendment political free speech. York notes Cindy Sheehan's "Enough Already" (Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox): "Enough already?" Hmmm…I don't know Charlie Gibson and I don't pay any attention to his career, but I seem to agree with him on this one: "Enough already." Enough with the killing, torturing, wounding and profiting off of the backs of our troops and off of the lives of the people of Iraq-Af-Pak: as our brothers and sisters in Latin America say: "Basta!" Somehow, I don't think that this is what Charlie Gibson meant, though. I am sure that he just wants me to go away like most of the rest of the anti-war movement has done under the Obama presidency. One of the things I hear quite often from people from all over the political spectrum is: "Why don't you just go away, you've had your 15 minutes of fame."Yes, that's exactly what I thought as soon as I heard that my son was killed in the US's illegal and immoral war in Iraq: "this is a perfect opportunity to get my 15 minutes of fame." Actually, after I slowly recovered from the shock and horror, the pain always remains, I thought that I had to do everything I can to end this nightmare so other mothers/families wouldn't have to go through what I was going through and what I am going through.
Katie Couric (Katie Couric's Notebook, CBS Evening News with Katie Couric -- link is text and video) notes the efforts to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell in the US -- the Clinton era compromise to allow gays and lesbians to serve in the military if they didn't "tell" (which never worked out the way intended and never stopped investigations into 'character'). Couic offers, "Whatever Congress decides, one thing will not change. Gays and lesbians will still serve in uniform, fighting for our freedom, whether or not they have the freedom to acknowledge who they really are." Matthew Hansen (Omaha World-Herald) reports on Iraq War veteran Austin Bailey attending a Voices Of Honor presentation and quotes Bailey stating, "Toward the end of my career, I just didn't want to lie anymore. I thought, 'I'm putting my life on the line here. I don't have anything to be ashamed of'." Voices of Honor is a group of veterans -- straight and gay -- who are doing speak-outs throughout the country to raise awareness on the issue in the hopes of moving Congress to overturn the ban. Raising awareness is the concrete accomplishment the group will have, Congress has no plans to overturn Don't Ask, Don't Tell. It's smoke and mirrors. From the July 15ht snapshot:
The myth is that Barry O wants to repeal it. And that he's tasked Congress with getting a bill on his desk so he can repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell. The reality is that House and Senate leadership (Democratic control of both houses) would be putting it to a vote immediately if that's what Barack really wanted. He doesn't want it and the leadership is attempting to bury it. The bill's written, it's called the Military Readiness Enahncement Act of 2009. Ellen Tauscher introduced it March 3, 2009. It's July 15th. There has been no vote despite the fact that there are 161 sponsors. Now that's the House. In the Senate? Allegedly the issue will be steered by Ted Kennedy. Other than Senator Roland Burris, no one in the Senate has spoken publicly in support of changing it in the last few weeks when it's been a major topic in the press. As for Kennedy leading on it? He has other issues including his own health and promoting his upcoming book. So you have a bill that, if the House leadership was serious, they'd be voting on tomorrow. They're not. The White House doesn't want it and leadership in the House is blocking a vote. (In the Senate there is no action at all.)
Ted's offering leadership? He's attempting to alter the process for his replacement being selected because he fears he won't be able to vote on ObamaInsuranceCare. Note that the alleged Senate leader on repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell isn't concerned about it. And, truth be told, Ted never has been. But let's all lie and pretend like it's going to be repealed this year. And, at the end of this year, we can lie and pretend like next year -- an election year -- it will be repealed. Or we can get honest.
Iraq Veterans Against the War's Adam Kokesh is running for the US Congress out of New Mexico's third district and he announced last month he was going to be on the Republican ticket (link has video and text). He weighs in on ObamaInsuranceCare here and notes:
The White House announced today that its two-week old program to collect tips on people spreading "disinformation about health insurance reform" has been scrapped. While Macon Phillips, the White House new media director, described the turn of events "ironic," the real irony was the program itself. Can you fathom what kind of arrogance would lead this propaganda spewing White House to think it could convince us that they were just trying to help Americans get the truth? And that turning Americans to spy on Americans was the way to do it?
TV notes, NOW on PBS re-airs their program from April on rape kits:A terrible statistic: one in six women will be a victim of rape or attempted rape in her lifetime. But an even more shocking reality: A backlog in processing rape kits—crucial evidence in arresting violent predators—is delaying and sometimes denying justice for tens of thousands of American women.This week, NOW travels to Los Angeles County to investigate why it has the country's largest known rape kit backlog. An internal audit found that more than 50 of their cases have already exceeded the 10-year statute of limitations on rape.That begins airing tonight on most PBS stations as does Washington Week, where Gwen sits around the table with Peter Baker (New York Times), Naftali Bendavid (Wall St. Journal), Jeanne Cummings (Politico) and Ceci Connolly (Washington Post). In addition, we're asked to note that tomorrow at the Washington Week website there will be a an "Extra!" you can stream which will be an extended version of the roundtable.If you don't know, Washington Week has been offering basically an hour's worth of programming for some time. They claim it's a web bonus for their audience but the show really wants to expand and if any PBS friend is upset with me for stating that, let me suggest you look up the "extra" from earlier in the year when Gwen herself spoke of that in replying to a question a viewer e-mailed. An additional thirty minutes wouldn't be a bad thing if they'd be serious. If you've ever watched the extra each week, you know that doesn't always happen. It will be posted online tomorrow. If you watch the extra each week, you most likely grab the podcast and maybe thinking, "Huh?" That's because you can download the podcast (with extra) shortly after the show goes off. The difference this week is that instead of waiting until Monday afternoon for the extra to go up at the website, it will be up tomorrow. (And streaming from the website is easier for some computer users than podcasting. Catching a video podcast requires certain system requirements and certain types of connections unless someone wishes to spend hours downloading.)Meanwhile Bonnie Erbe and her guests Karen Czarnecki, Cari Dominguez, Irene Natividad and Patricia Sosa the week's news on this week's edition of PBS' To The Contrary. Check local listings, on many stations, it begins airing tonight. And turning to broadcast TV, Sunday CBS' 60 Minutes offers:
Don Hewitt 60 Minutes will devote its entire hour this week to the news magazine's creator and former executive producer, Don Hewitt, who passed away Wednesday at the age of 86.The 60 Minutes correspondents are working on individual segments that will tell the story of the legendary newsman's life, lasting contributions to the television news industry and especially their favorite stories about their boss and his times at the broadcast. Watch Video
60 Minutes Sunday, Aug. 23, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.
nprthe diane rehm show
nancy a. youssef
adam ashtonsahar issa
the new york timesthom shanker
the christian science monitorjane arraf
cindy sheehanbyron york
the new york timesrod norland
the times of londonoliver august
the cbs evening news with katie courickatie couric
60 minutescbs newspbsto the contrarybonnie erbenow on pbs
Thursday, August 20, 2009
But let's move on because I need to note something. This is from PETA:
PETA and millions of decent football fans around the world are disappointed that the Philadelphia Eagles have chosen to sign a man who hanged dogs from trees, electrocuted them with jumper cables, held them underwater until they drowned in his swimming pool, and even threw his own family dogs into the fighting pit to be torn to shreds while he laughed. What sort of message does this send to young fans who care about animals and don't want to see them be harmed?
PETA certainly hopes that Vick has learned his lesson and feels truly remorseful for his crimes—but since he's given no public indication that that's the case, only time will tell. At this point, all Eagles fans can do is cross their fingers and hope that they won't ever have to explain to their sons and daughters what a "rape rack" is and why their favorite player was using one, as Falcons fans once had to.
Posted by Dan Shannon
Update: Many people have asked us how to complain to the NFL. You can send an e-mail to the NFL through its official contact form here. You can call the main office of the Philadelphia Eagles at 215-463-2500, and you can find mailing addresses here.
Also, please click here to join PETA in asking the NFL to require all its players—some of whom have been involved in a series of cruelty-to-animals cases—to attend PETA's "Developing Empathy for Animals" course. You can also urge the NFL to take cases of animal abuse seriously in the future by updating its policy on personal conduct.I need to thank Dave Zirin for the above because if he hadn't been acting silly, I wouldn't have known about PETA's announcement. He's slamming them for the announcement in his latest I-Love-Michael-Vick post.
He's in full on Mean Girl snap in that column which concludes: "We as a nation must collectively recognize that in a country with 2.3 million people behind bars, being an ex-felon shouldn't mean having an "F" tattooed on your chest for the rest of eternity." You go, Girl!
Poor Dave Zirin, he hates dogs. He loves games though. In his latest column, he's again playing "Me Be the Red That Gets Oppresion!" He's such an embarrassment. He doesn't get it, he never will. For a guy who doesn't look a great deal older than me, he's surprisingly out of it. But that's what happens with guys like him. And as he gets older he'll end up working for a Republican White House, be his own little Eliott Abrhams.
That is what happens to his kind. He'll support illegal wars and much more. Because that's the only place he can go. Just like the losers who were once on the left and ended up in the Reagan White House.
Poor Dave. I feel like Hannibal to his Clarice and wonder, "Have the dogs stopped howling, Dave?"
This is from Kenneth J. Theisen's "Obama Channels Bush: 'I Will Maintain American Military Dominance':"
On Monday, August 17th, President Obama made a speech at the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) convention in Phoenix, Arizona. In many ways it was reminiscent of similar speeches made by former president George W. Bush. At the beginning of his remarks Obama made it clear that he will do his best to preserve and expand the U.S. Empire when he stated, “I am honored and humbled to stand before you as Commander-in-Chief of the finest military the world has ever known.”
He then went on to praise the military veterans for their actions in past U.S. wars in Korea, Vietnam, Kosovo, and the Middle East. He linked their past to the actions of the U.S. war machine today in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and more than 100 other countries where the U.S. currently deploys military forces to defend its empire. He stated, “Today, the story of your service is carried on by a new generation -- dedicated, courageous men and women who I have the privilege to lead and meet every day.”
We plan to cover the speech at Third on Sunday. So far, it's C.I., Cindy Sheehan and Kenneth Theisen that have taken on Barry's speech from the left. I guess Kimmy Wilder found it groovy because she never said a word. But she wouldn't make a peep, would she? She's the Green who forgot Cynthia McKinney was her party's candidate.
Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"
Jim Miklaszewski: Good evening, Lester. US officials are already blaming al Qaeda for today's bombings in an effort to stir up sectarian violence but whos ever responsible, today's bloody and blatant bombings raise serious questions about Iraq's ability to take over its own defense. Six powerful bombs rocked Baghdad within minutes in one of the deadliest days of the entire Iraq War. One blast shook up a meeting of tribal leaders. As smoke filled the room, the speaker called it terrorism. The carnage began with a suicide car bombing at Iraq's Finance Ministry at about eleven this morning. Only three minutes later, a massive truck bomb exploded outside the Foreign Ministry. Then over the next ten minutes four separate bombs tore through Baghdad in a highly coordinated attack. The Foreign Ministry took the most devastating hit -- two tons of explosives shredded the front of the building, killing at least 59 Iraqis. The wounded flocked to Baghdad hospitals. This man said one explosion threw his car into the air. The attacks come less than two months after American combat forces withdrew from Baghdad in an agreement with Iraq's government. Iraqi forces were supposed to take over security operations, but after today's bombings, NBC News producer Ghazi Balkiz says the Iraqis admit they failed in their mission.
Ghazi Balkiz: In a surprising statement tonight, the Iraqi Defense Ministry admitted that the attacks were the result of Iraqi forces negligence and said that they should take most of the blame for the security breach.
Jim Miklaszewski: Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki could ask the US forces to return to the cities but that would be political suicide and it's unlikely American combat forces would step back into the middle of an Iraqi sectarian war.
Ret General Barry McCaffrey : The last time we went in to take Baghdad, we had several thousand killed and wounded. We won't do it again. We shouldn't do it again.
Jim Miklaszewski: And despite today's attacks and a recent spike in overall violence, US military and Pentagon officials say they still intend to withdraw all US combat forces on schedule. According to one senior official, it's time for the Iraqis to step up and take over ready or not. Lester.
Lester Holt: Jim Miklaszewski, tonight at the Pentagon, thank you.
One of the deadliest days of the entire Iraq War and instead of covering that, CBS Evening News with Katie Couric spent nine minutes on the passing of CBS News' Don Hewitt. 'Once upon' a noted passing at a network resulted in the final thirty seconds with a title card showing the date of birth and date of death. Last night, CBS short changed the news and wallowed in an attempt to turn a private tragedy into world news. On non-commercial broadcast TV, PBS, The NewsHour spoke with Jane Arraf (Christian Science Monitor) about the bombings in Baghdad (link has text, audio and video option).
JANE ARRAF: Well, it was mostly what I heard, first of all. I was going to the U.N., which was commemorating the sixth anniversary of the bombing of U.N. headquarters, when there was a huge explosion, which turned out to be a mortar, landing fairly close to the U.N. building. And then the blast, this huge blast that was part of a wave of explosions that rocked Baghdad in what really is the biggest security challenge, perhaps, to the Iraqi government in some time, and certainly a challenge to Iraqi security forces' ability to secure the city. Now, the biggest one was outside the Foreign Ministry, where a truck packed with an estimated ton of explosives detonated. There was another bomb shortly after near the Finance Ministry that collapsed part of an overpass. Now, these are some of the most heavily defended buildings in Baghdad. Iraqi authorities say that they confiscated a third truck packed with explosives and showed that on television, big, red plastic barrels filled with explosive material. All in all, it's seen as a test, and a test that Iraqi security forces have failed today.
RAY SUAREZ: Who is the Iraqi government blaming for this explosion? Who would have an interest in committing this kind of crime?
JANE ARRAF: Well, that's the problem in Iraq. Pretty much everyone has an interest, but this specifically, the Iraqi government is saying it's Sunni insurgents and former Saddam loyalists, a strange sort of mix. But it does have the hallmarks of al-Qaida. I went to the site later this afternoon to see what the wreckage looked like and talked to some of the survivors, and it was a huge bomb that actually did look quite a bit like -- the remnants did look like that bombing six years ago.
It was a truck that managed to get close enough and packed with enough explosives that it did tremendous damage. The big ones are normally thought to be al-Qaida, the big suicide bombs, sophisticated attacks, coordinated attacks, and that's who's being blamed for this one today, being blamed, as well, on the streets. A lot of Iraqis think this is either al-Qaida or ex-Baathists, although some of them persist in believing it's the Americans.
***ADDED: The above has been altered at a friend (at CBS's request). A friend at CBS News states Sheila MacVicar's report did air on the East and Central time zone's CBS Evening News. If so, one minute and 23 seconds were spent on Iraq and over nine minutes on Don. Almost everyone I know is on vacation so I'm going by one person and only one person stating the report aired. It is not on the Evening News I Tivo-ed. I don't do corrections in snapshots, the policy is the next day. I'm doing this because "I'm swearing to you, we had that report" is what I was told. Normally, I would want more than one person stating that. It also doesn't explain why one person at CBS gave me the time Sheila MacVicar's report was dumped online but I can't get ahold of him right now. Because "I'm swearing," I'll take the word of one and change the above. **********
And still, the urbane, educated, civilized, "progressive" president can stand before the world and declare that America's military rapine of Iraq is "an extraordinary achievement." And so it is. And so was the Holocaust, the Inquisition, the Trail of Tears, the liquidation of the "kulaks" and many other epiphanies of human civilization. But to be extraordinarily evil is not usually considered something to brag about. That Obama can do so without batting an eye is a telling indication of moral degradation of our own society.
I remember back in the good ol' days of 2005 and 2006 when being against the wars was not only politically correct, but it was very popular. I remember receiving dozens of awards, uncountable accolades and even was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
Those were the halcyon days of the anti-war movement before the Democrats took over the government (off of the backs of the anti-war movement) and it became anathema to be against the wars and I became unpopular on all sides. I guess at that point, I could have gone with the flow and pretended to support the violence so I could remain popular, but I think I have to fiercely hold on to my core values whether I am "liked" or not.
Killing is wrong no matter if it is state-sanction murder or otherwise. Period. Not too much more to say on that subject, except what I quote above from Dr. King.
However, while the so-called left is obsessed over supporting a very crappy Democratic health care plan, people in far away countries are being deprived of their health and very lives by the Obama Regime's continuation of Bush's ruinous foreign policy.
the christian science monitor
the cbs evening news with katie couric
nbc nightly news
nancy a. youssef
the los angeles times
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
And while I was having fun, Baghdad was dealing with bombings and at least 95 people dead from them and nearly 600 wounded. This is from Sahar Issa and Nancy A. Youssef (Mcclatchy):
The deadly bombings Wednesday in Baghdad near two key government ministries raise questions about whether U.S. and Iraqi officials have moved too quickly to dismantle many of the security steps that brought about a dramatic drop in bloodshed in the Iraqi capital in the past two years.
NPR's Frank James opens with:
Wednesday's multiple bombings in Iraq which killed nearly 100 and injured several hundred more are evidence that Sunni Muslim guerrillas remain alive, well armed with explosives and defiant on the issue of Shiite control of the nation that for decades was Sunni-led.
And you really need to see the photo that goes with Andy Crick's article for The Sun. And for a reality check of how out of it Barack is, check out ABC News' "White House Hopes Attacks Will 'Energize' Iraqi Troops to Fight."
C.I. covers it in the snapshot and you'll want to catch all of that. Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"
Wednesday, August 19, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, over 100 people are reported dead in today's violence, the US military announces a death, Denmark works overtime to eject Iraqi refugees, the US State Dept and the United Nations work overtime to embarrass themselves, and more.
Today the US military announced: "FORWARD OPERATING BASE ECHO, Iraq -- A Multi-National Division - South Soldier was killed in action August 19. Release of the identity of the Soldier is being withheld pending notification of the next of kin." When ICCC updates, that will make the total number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war 4332.
"The windows of the Foregin Ministry shattered," Harry Haydon (The Sun) quotes a Foreign Ministry worker stating, "slaughtering the people inside." "Dozens of people were killed inside by shards of flying glass," adds UK's Channel 4 News (link has text and video) which identifies the woman as "Asia." Once again, violence swept through Baghdad on a massive scale -- such a massive scale that 'worst violence since US troops withdrew from Iraqi cities' was bandied about as if it were new and hadn't been used repeatedly in the last weeks. "All these things landed on top of me. These terrorists. Many innocent people were killed," surivor Samira Hachem, who'd been in her apartment, tells Ernesto Londono (Washington Post). Caroline Alexander (Bloomberg News) notes the website of the political party of Jalal Talabani (president of Iraq) reported multiple Baghdad bombings (not "immediately clear how many bombs were detonated or where") with multiple deaths and hundreds injured: "The finance, foreign, health, education, and housing ministries were all targeted, the PUK said, without indicating which blasts caused casualties. State-owned Iraqiya television broadcast footage of the capital showing plumes of gray smoke rising over rooftops." Martin Chulov (Guardian) reports that the bombings, "at least six attacks," began at 10:30 a.m. in the morning "within minutes of each other, the largest being the one outside the Foreign Ministry". Chulov's report is text and video and that's from the video. The Economist offers, "BAGHDAD has not seen a day as violent as Wednesday August 19th for a long while. At ten in the morning, simultaneous car bombs and rocket attacks struck half a dozen ministries and the cabinet office. A lorry exploded beside the foreign ministry, destroying it and leaving a large crater outside. Nearby high-rise apartment buildings were also set ablaze. A bomb smuggled into the education ministry narrowly failed to kill the minister in his office, according to Iraqi television reports, and a mortar just missed the home of the environment minister. Rockets fell across the heavily fortified green zone, destroying parts of the parliament building and damaging a neighbouring hotel a few minutes before the prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki, was expected to visit." CNN notes the targeting of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Finance. Liz Sly and Usama Redha (Los Angeles Times) agree those were "the main targets," note mortar attacks and quote eye witness Gaith Abdulla stating, "I saw people killed and wounded on the ground and many cars were ablaze. The security forces started shooting and were firing randomly. Then another massive explosion shook the whole place." ITN (link has text and video) describes the area around the Foreign Ministry, "The site was a twisted heap of smouldering cars as firefighters fought to put out the blaze." The video shows the Parliament building -- Parliament is not in session -- during the bombings as windows/panels shook and fell and dust flew in the air. Deborah Haynes (Times of London) observes, "By targeting the Foreign Ministry and the Finance Ministry, the bombers have sent a clear signal that they are able to strike at the heart of the Government. . . . Today's bloodshed will raise questions about President Obama's strategy to pull US forces out of Iraqi cities several weeks ago leaving domestic security forces in control." Natalia Antelava (BBC News) offers this analysis, "These are unusual attacks -- in the last few weeks, we have seen explosions in Baghdad but these attacks occured in some of the supposedly safest neighbourhoods of the city. For many people, these attacks confirm their worst fears over the withdrawal of US troops from cities across Iraq at the end of June and handing over of the security situation to Iraqi forces. A lot of people before the withdrawal were saying they were very fearful that attacks would rise." Jane Arraf (Christian Science Monitor) sums up, "At the stie of the deadliest Baghdad bombing in 18 months, Iraqi faith that their security forces could protect them lay shattered in the wreckage." Caroline Alexander reports, "It's too early to know whether the Baghdad assualts will prompt a change in U.S. tactics, and Iraqi officials haven't requested assistance under the security pact, said U.S. Marine Corps Colonel David Lapan, a spokesman for the Pentagon."
"Everybody on the street was going crazy. Everybody was just trying to get to their cars, just trying to get home -- and that's what I did," Mustapha Muhie told the BBC. BBC News offers a photo essay filled with plumes of smoke, showing the huge crater left by one bombing, the cranes used to check the Foreign Ministry for any people who might be alive and trapped in the building. Some outlets are saying car bombs, some are saying truck bombs. Adam Ashton (McClatchy Newspapers) goes with truck bombings and quotes Katheem Hanoon who was selling snacks and water by the ministry before "[s]he was buried under her goods and shelves after the bombing": "What security? Where is it? Is it borther killing brother, son killing father?" Sam Dagher (New York Times) informs, "The bombs crippled the downtown area, closed highways and two main bridges over the Tigris River and clogged hospitals with wounded."
Al Jazeera puts the death toll at 95 and the number wounded at 500 and quotes Iraqi Mar Gen Qassim Atta stating the Foreign Ministry was targeted by a truck bombing. Caroline Alexander also notes 95 dead but 563 injured and credits the count to AFP which got the numbers from the Interior Ministry. Anne Barker (Australia's ABC) adds, "Government ministry workers, journalists and security guards were among the dead." Jenny Booth (Times of London) offers a timeline of attacks in the last two years and August 10th saw 51 deaths (Mosul and Baghdad). Jane Arraf explains, "The ministry, surrounded by high concrete walls on a busy street, was near a checkpoint that had been dismantled earlier this year. As attacks in Baghdad have decreased, Iraqi authorities eager to show improvement in security and make the city livable again have started removing concrete walls and security checkpoints." Jamal Hashim (Xinhua) reports on the attitudes regarding the removal of (some) walls and quotes teacher Adel Hameed stating, "I feel like something heavy removed from my chest when they remove the walls, but I still feel in pain that my country had to pay very large amounts of money for those gray slabs to slice our city into Shiite and Suni enclaves."
Oliver August (Times of London) reminds, "Today is the sixth anniversary of a truck bombing that hit the United Nations compound in Baghdad, killing 22 people including special envoy Sergio Vieira de Mello." The link includes Sky News' video and you can see what looks like hundreds of burned out cars, some still aflame, and attempts to hose them down. Some were clearly parked (in a parking lot), others were on the road and apparently in motion when the explosions took place. Richard Spencer (Telegraph of London) explains, "Television footage showed cars smashed by falling concrete slabs and streets full of rubble and glass." August quotes a guest at the Rasheed Hotel stating, "The windows were blown out and the doors were taken out, even the door frames went. If I had been in my room at the time I would have been seriously injured or worse. Everything is locked down now. Nobody can move anywhere, nobody is getting in or out. Even our security team cannot move." The eye witness is identified as "John Tipple, a UK solicitor". Not noted is that Tipple is one of Danny Fitzsimons' attorneys -- the British contractor who could face trial in Iraq and face the death penalty. Tipple is in Iraq attempting to have Danny Fitzsimons' case transferred to England.AFP reports that Nouri al-Maliki has ordered a review of "security measures". Ahmed Rasheed, Khalid al-Ansary, Michael Christie, Mohammed Abbas and Tim Pearce (Reuters) report that Maj Gen Qassim al-Moussawi ("Baghdad's security spokesman") stated, "The operation shows negligence, and is considered a security breach for which Iraqi forces must take most of the blame." In the aftermath, a number showed up to compete for crazy. Chris Hill, US Ambassador to Iraq, denounced an undefined "they" as "psychopaths." Chip Cummins (Wall St. Journal) notes, "Iraqi security officials initially blamed Baathist loyalists and operatives associated with al Qaeda for the series of attacks, but provided no evidence for that claim. No one claimed immediate responsibility for the attacks." Apologies to Chip Cummins who was wrongly billed as "Chip Cummings" yesterday and that was my error. KUNA traces the swirling accusations identifying the head of "Baghdad security operations" as the first to accuse and to accuse "Baathis non-believer alliance". But crazy ass Jalal Talabani -- who so disgraced himself in the last years that his party performed miserably in the July Kurdistan elections -- may have won the prize for crazy (a padded cell) by insisting the bombings were the actions of a new polyblend: al Qaeda in Iraq and Ba'athists. KUNA quotes him stating, "Terrorist criminals from Al-Qaeda and Saddamists carried out Wednesday a number of criminal acts which targeted civil communities and government establishments." Now anyone could be responsible, anyone. But when you're going to toss around accusations with no proof, you might try making them plausible. And while al Qaeda in Iraq and Ba'athists teaming up could happen, it's not really the most realistic charge to instantly make. For one thing, Ba'athists are what? Secular. Anyone accuse al Qaeda in Iraq -- or al Qaeda anywhere -- of being secular? Nope. Never. Jalal hasn't looked so crazy since his trip to the US to unplug his arteries was followed by a major pig out which led to his collapsing in a Chicago bookstore. Someone might want to advise him that when he's no longer president of Iraq, he's probably not going to be flown in to the US every couple of months for the equivalent of cholesterol-lipo. Ben Lando (Time magazine) notes of the assertion of an al Qaeda and Ba'athist blend, "It is hard to asses that claim at the moment."
In other reported violence . . .
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports an Anbar Province car bombing which left two security guards for Habbaniyah Police Chief Khalid al Khirbeet injured. Reuters notes a roadside bombing outside of Mosul which claimed the life of 1 Iraqi soldier and left four more injured.
Reuters notes an armed clash in Mosul in which 1 police officer was shot dead and three people were injured and 1 off duty police officer was shot dead in Mosul. Dropping back to Tuesday, Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 1 person shot dead in Kirkuk and Iraqi Christian Sabah Dawood was shot dead in Kirkuk last night. Alsumaria notes 1 more person shot dead in Mosul last night "in a separate incident."
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports Dr. Semeer Gorgis's corpse was discovered today in Kirkuk and that the Iraqi Christian had been kidnapped yesterday.
News this week includes talk of the SOFA being put to a referendrum for Iraqis in January and of US forces entering nothern Iraq in a huge deployment where they hold hands with the peshmerga and Baghdad's own security forces who otherwise can't get along. Charles Cooper (Coop's Corner, CBS News) observes, "For some reason, this story has not received as much attention as it ought to. Turns out that United States General Ray Odierno and Iraq's leadership are at odds over the timetable for the departure of American forces. How this issue gets resolved is likely to have major implications for both countries and, perhaps, the wider region." Covering recent developments, Ben Lando explains:
And so there was political ambivalence when U.S. Commanding General Ray Odierno suggested this week that U.S. forces deploy to disputed territories in the north, a move not consistent with SOFA. Under his plan, U.S. troops would temporarily coordinate with the security forces there -- and those security forces are at odds with one another. For it is in Kurdistan that Iraq may actually fissure. The central and regional Kurdish governments have been arguing over oil, land and money for years. Recently, they would have clashed if U.S. forces had not intervened.
Unlike SOFA, the fate of Kurdistan is an issue the government is not brave enough to put to a ballot. This week Iraq announced it would postpone a national referendum on the disputed territories even though Iraq's Kurds have been demanding one since 2006. Whether or not the Iraqis take up Odierno's suggestion, the country's dilemma about the U.S. is clear: While Iraq can't live with the U.S. military presence, it will have to learn to live without it fast.
Monday Human Rights Watch released a report entitled "'They Want Us Exterminated': Murder, Torture, Sexual Orientation and Gender in Iraq." For the 67-page report [PDF format warning] click here. Iraqi Haytham shares:
A car pulled us over. About six men carrying a weapons stepped out and asked for our IDs. They were dressed in black, which is usually the sign of the Mahdi Army. I demanded, "Who are you to ask for our cards?" So they opened the door and pulled us out, humiliating us, calling us "puppies," saying, "We see you in pervert places all the time."
I tried to argue we were just friends, tried to convince them there was nothing between us. Then they pulled out a list and they started asking us about these names.
Though many have been silent, as Marcia noted last night, US House Rep Alcee L. Hastings' office issued the following statement:
The report documents the extrajudicial persecution, torture, and execution of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Iraqis. In recent months, hundreds of gay men have been tortured and murdered in Iraq in a systematic campaign of social cleansing by Shiite militiamen and extremists. Furthermore, victims and witnesses allege that Iraqi security forces have colluded and joined in the killing. "The alarming testimonies detailed in this report are undeniable evidence that the rights and safety of gay Iraqis are at risk," Hastings said. "Gay Iraqis should not have to live in fear of being tortured, mutilated, or murdered by their countrymen. International human rights law explicitly condemns torture and guarantees the right to life and the right to effective state protection. These abuses fundamentally threaten the rights and safety of all Iraqis."I urge the Iraqi government to stem this tide of violence and hate and to protect its LGBT citizens," he said. "I also commend Human Rights Watch for raising awareness of this urgent matter and for its ongoing dedication to defending and protecting human rights around the world."
Also addressing the report is Feminist Majority Foundation's Feminist Wire Daily:
Human Rights Watch released a report yesterday that indicates hundreds of Iraqi gay men have been kidnapped, tortured and murdered since the beginning of 2009. The report claims that Iraqi authorities have not acted to stop militias that are actively targeting men suspected of engaging in homosexual conduct and may be complicit in some attacks. The report cites a militia member who told a reporter in May that the spike in anti-gay violence is to combat "a serious illness in the community that has been spreading rapidly among the youth after it was brought in from the outside by American soldiers. These are not the habits of Iraq or our community and we must eliminate them.... Our aim is not to destabilize the security situation. Our aim is to help stabilize society." However, Human Rights Watch researcher Rasha Moumneh says, "Murder and torture are no way to enforce morality.... These killings point to the continuing and lethal failure of Iraq's post-occupation authorities to establish the rule of law and protect their citizens." The report includes interviews with many gay Iraqi men. One man told researchers: "They did many things to us, the Mahdi Army...They kidnapped [my partner] for six days. He will not talk about what they did to him. There were bruises on his side as if he was dragged on the street. They did things to him he can't describe, even to me.... They sent us veiled threats in text messages: 'You are on the list.' They sent him a piece of paper in an envelope, to his home: there were three bullets wrapped in plastic, of different size[s]. The note said, 'Which one do you want in your heart?'.... I want to be a regular person, lead a normal life, walk around the city, drink coffee on the street. But because of who I am, I can't. There is no way out."
Rebecca noted that last night and that "it's really shocking how little we seem to care about that in this country." "The supposedly liberated Iraq is encouraging the assaults on their own LGBT community," Trina wrote yesterday. Mike followed the same train of thought with, "It's not 'renegades' or a 'few bad apples,' it's the Interior Ministry, it's the security forces, it's anyone with a beef -- most likely imagined -- in Iraq. And they get away with it and they have gotten away with it. And no one says, 'Just one minute'." Marcia observed, ""I hope people in this country get that it could be them. It could be them because they're gay, because they're a person of color, because of their gender, because they have X kind of eye color. Bigotry isn't 'scientific'." Tying it into lynchings targeting African-Americans in the US during the last century, Ann explained, "So when I read the above and realize that Iraqi LGBTs are being targeted, I do identify. I do know what it's like to wonder, as I did when I first learned of lynchings, 'Why does someone hate me so much? What have I done to them?' Iraq's LGBT community hasn't done anything to anyone. They are being targeted because of bigotry and that's due to the fact that some people can't feel good about the day if they can't start it off hating someone else." Elaine weighed in with, "The bigotry is always about fear. Ramiz and others are being targeted not because they did anything to anyone else but because they are feared. Sometimes it's a fear that if others know about Ramiz, they might decide to live their own lives freely. Other times it's a fear that if you don't make an effort to beat up Ramiz, people may figure out that you are gay yourself." On the silence that has largely been the response to the report, Stan advised, "Picture yourself as gay and ask yourself what message you're then receiving as you go from left website to website and see nothing on the report or on the continued assault on Iraq's LGBT community." Ruth noted the silence and tied it into the lack of "people to speak out strongly on behalf of Iraq's LGBT community." As Betty pointed out, "We have nothing to lose in America by speaking out on this issue. We are protected and we are safe. And our speaking out could mean so much to a persecuted group of people. And I don't understand why we refuse to do that. If it were you being targeted, you'd want someone to speak out for you. If it were your child, you'd want someone standing up." Kat wondered, "What if that was your boyfriend? Or your girlfriend? And, on top of everything else, you couldn't publicly mourn?" The report was noted in Monday and Tuesday's snapshots.
Meanwhile UK Gay News reports that England is threatening to deport a gay Iraqi male and MP Sarah Teather is calling for the deportation to be halted. They note the Human Rights Watch report and state, "Ms. Teather has been working on behalf of her constituent ever since the initial government decision to deport him. The news from one of the most respected human rights groups in the world that anti-gay attacks are on the rise in Iraq makes it even more certain that her constituent would face execution if he returned to Iraq." The Human Rights Watch report concludes with recommendations and among those are the need for countries to grant asylum to members of Iraq's LGBT community. Today is World Humanitarian Day as Eric Schwartz, Assistant Secretary for Population, Refugees and Migration, noted today at the US State Dept. He also noted the Baghdad death six years ago of the UN's Sergio Vieria de Mello. A lot of pretty words. Anything behind them? Please, more garbage -- in fact it stinks more than it did under George W. Bush. Here's candy man Eric, "In Iraq, we're working hard to assist the government there to more effectively manage the reintegration of a displaced population whose estimates have varied, but we think it's probably around 2 million people, as well as the return of refugees." That's what the US State Dept now does -- sends people back to a death camp. That's ridiculous and how shameful for the Democratic Party that even under Condi Rice and George W. Bush, the previous State Dept acknowledged the violence and wasn't so obviously cold and cruel. In Eric Schwartz's remarks the world can hear "change" -- for the worse. And who would have ever thought that was possible. He also bragged that the US ("by the end of this fiscal year") would have taken in 30,000 Iraqi refugees. Really? Because the administration promised more than that. But that's really become Barack's campaign slogan hasn't: "We promised more . . . than we delivered." Schwartz can take comfrot in the fact that UN's Dr. Naeema Al-Gasser made a bigger ass out of herself today than Schwartz. She'll whore it for Nouri till her dying day and keep claiming she's doing it to help Iraqis. Dr. Trash gave another idiotic speech and the UN plugged it, like real idiots, noting that "Iraq is steadily moving towards recovery and reconstruction." I believe today's reality just punked your lying asses. And for those late to the party, Dr. Trash got into bed with Nouri most infamously last September. That's when Iraq's yearly cholera outbreak -- due to the lack of potable water -- returned and Dr. Trash it upon herself to blame Iraqi women at a press conference for the outbreak. Those silly, silly women, failing to properly boil the water. No, that silly, silly government refusing to spend the needed money to repair Iraq's water system. But there was Dr. Trash blaming Iraqi women for the cholera outbreak. Blaming Iraqi women already under assault, already living under attack, with rates of domestic abuse soaring throughout that country. And that's how Dr. Trash decided to 'heal.'
Meanwhile, Denmark continues its efforts to evict Iraqi refugees who had been granted santuary by Brorson's Church in Norrebro before police broke into the church and drug the refugees out. The Copenhagen Post reports thousands of people turned out yesterday to show their support for the refugees while Ice News notes, "When the Copenhagen police forcibly evicted 19 Iraqi asylum seekers from a church in Norrebro, their tactics were anything but gentle. Such was the heavy-handed approach to rounding up the Iraqis from their shelter in Brorson's Church that cries of outrage are ringing out from all quarters." Monday, The Copenhagen Post reported, "Speaking with Politiken newspaper, [Andam] Farzil confirmed reports of police using batons and said the beating continued inside the police bus."
Iranians at Camp Ashraf are refugees and we see how Iraq treats them. Nouri orders an assault on them. Some may whine "terrorists" but ask yourself about those Palestinians trapped on the Iraqi border all these years later. Nouri's not done a damn thing to help them. The Chicago Tribune reports that Team Barack "downplayed international fears over the safety of Iranian dissidents living at an exile camp in Iraq as recently as mid-July, days before a raid by Iraqi security forces killed 11 of the exiles and left scores wounded. . . . In a July 15 letter to a concerned British politician [MP Robin Corbett], the State Department said U.S. officials were doing their 'utmost' to ensure the safety of up to 3,500 Iranians living at Camp Ashraf in Iraq" and they quote from the letter, "U.S. military representatives are in daily contact with Camp Ashraf residents and continue to montior their situation." Really? Then how come that July 28th assault took the White House by surprise?
Last week Tanya Snyder (Free Speech Radio News) reported on Camp Ashraf and among those she interviewed for the report were the International Committee of the Red Cross' Bernard Barrett who explained, "In particular concern is the whole principle of nonrefulment which basically means that a person cannot be forced to go back to a country where they have grounded or serious fears of persecution or ill treatment because of the ethnicity or political beliefs or religion or whatever."
Turning to the US, Cindy Sheehan (Cindy's Soapbox) writes the critique of Barack's VFW speech that should have come from The Progressive and The Nation but entering the Cult of St. Barack requires taking a vow of silence. Peace Mom Cindy explains:
As I listened to clips of Obama's speech to the VFW on August 17th, 2009, I was wondering if his speechwriters were on vacation and they just recycled an old Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld/Rice speech.
While the so-called left is focused on the health care debacle and is allowing the so-called right to define the debate when it should be: Medicare for all, and all for Medicare; Obama and his neocon foreign policy team are preparing for a decades long, bloody foray in Af-Pak.
As Yael T. Abouhalkah, an editorial writer for the Kansas City Star, put it:
"President Barack Obama did his best imitation of former President George Bush Monday at the VFW national convention in Phoenix.
Obama sounded downright hawkish -- and, yes, presidential -- when he addressed the issue of terrorism in front of the veteran-laden crowd…Dick Cheney could not have said it better."
This is one of the reasons I am leading protests next week on Martha's Vineyard where President Obama will be vacationing. The anti-war movement cannot allow itself to be co-opted by the Democratic Party any longer.
She notes she and others will be demonstrating on Martha's Vineyard from August 26th to 30th. And she comments on the need for the demonstrating and protesting here (we'll try to note an excerpt from that tomorrow morning).
In an update to yesterday's snapshot, an e-mail advises that War Criminal Lynndie England is being 'managed' and the book she's getting press on is not her book -- she didn't write it. The author of the book was not invited on Lynndie's 'book tour'. The e-mail's verified by a friend who knows the writer. If the writer wishes to go public or wishes to be quoted anonymously, ___ will be. But I am noting War Criminal Lynndie is a on a for-show round of sympathy and the right-wing is pushing her. Her Library of Congress appearance was a stunt and I've also heard from people at the Library of Congress questioning the claims of death threats. In which case, that was yet another stunt to build sympathy for Lynndie. By the way, the book is Tortured and it was written by Gary S. Winkler whom I am told was not invited to the Library of Congress event despite offering to appear. Lastly, independent journalist David Bacon reports on "Taft's New Community of Mixtec Farmworkers" (ImmigrationProf Blog):Taft was once a speculator's boomtown, surrounded by a forest of oil wells, hotbed the state's burgeoning petroleum industry. Today it is a divided community, home to a growing farm worker population, who work in the fields of the southern San Joaquin Valley. Hundreds of families have migrated to Taft from the town of San Pablo Tijaltepec in Oaxaca, in southern Mexico. These Mixtec migrants charge that they are not treated as welcome participants in Taft's town life. Meanwhile, families try to preserve the indigenous Mixtec culture they've brought with them, while working and sending money home to those who depend on remittances from the north to survive. David Bacon's latest book is Illegal People -- How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants (Beacon Press) which just won the CLR James Award.
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