Friday, August 28, 2009

Joni Mitchell, Tom Rush

Friday! The weekend at last. :D

Mainly spent the evening listening to records. Dad was picking mainly but he let others pick out a few too. And we listened to Joni Mitchell's Blue and Shine and For The Roses and I realized that I really love her piano playing and chord choices when she's on the piano. "The Last Time I Saw Richard," for example and the first song on Shine (the instrumental) and pretty much anything on For The Roses.

Otherwise, it was mainly Pink Floyd and prog rock. That's what Dad was in the mood for. So it was a pretty cool evening, we had the Iraq study group and then just hung with Dad and since I moved out I really don't get to do that a great deal.

At Third two Sundays ago, we did "The Joni Roundtable" and it was fun but it really seems to have made an impression on people I know who read it. They're going through their own Joni albums to listen again to catch something that someone pointed out in the roundtable and to judge their own rankings. That's pretty cool. In the roundtable, Ruth takes part in doing the set up for people without a background in Joni and she notes:

I was picked because I knew of Joni as the songwriter. Though most music lovers today of all ages are aware of Judy Collins, Tom Rush is a name they're less familiar with. Tom Rush was someone my friend Treva was crazy for and, in our college days, if Tom was playing, we were there. Tom was, and I'm sure is, a very talented performer. He was singing "Urge for Going" and, at some point, Treva found out it was by Joni Mitchell. It was one of those things, those in passing, let's have a drink, conversations. So that was probably 1966 or 1967. And in 1968, The Circle Game comes out, which is the finest Tom Rush album, in my opinion, and "Urge for Going" is on it. It's a really important song that sums up wanderlust and the strings that can tie us down so you can picture it being very big in club circles in the mid-to-late sixties. It really was a summation for so many of us. And you've got the title track of Tom Rush's album written by Joni as well, "The Circle Game." And also "Tin Angel." The bulk of the songs, as I remember it, were written by Joni, Jackson Browne or James Taylor. Plus Tom's own classic "No Regrets." And it was Tom's album -- and a beautiful one -- but it really was an announcement of this new significant artist: Joni Mitchell. Tom's album came out near Hanukkah and I must have talked everyone's ear off about "The Circle Game" and the album because I ended up getting, from my brother, Joni Mitchell's first album which had come out earlier that year, Song to a Seagull. And "I Had A King" and "Cactus Tree" and "Night In The City" were wonderful but it was a different sound. On Clouds, Joni's sound would become her own. That's her 1969 album which contains "Both Sides Now" -- made famous by Judy Collins' cover version which was a hit. This first album was promising but Clouds was a huge step forward in terms of her sound. And the huge step from Song To A Seagull to Clouds would be completely forgotten as, one after the other, Joni's next albums made such huge strides that, in retrospect, so much of what she'd already achieved seemed of less value. She's one of the strongest songwriters contemporary music has had. For many, she's the waif-like blond, strumming the guitar and singing in that high soprano voice. For many, that phase is the one they've tried to freeze her in.

That's the first I ever heard of Tom Rush. But he's in Big Mass. I was telling that to Ruth and saying we could go as a group if she wanted to catch him. (She's calling Treva to see if she'll be able to come in.) This is from the Amesbury News:

Tom Rush fans get a lot for their money at the folk singer’s concerts.
Besides good music and poetic songwriting that can make you laugh one minute and cry the next, there’s also plenty of intelligent wit and humor. Must be it’s that Harvard education Rush got when the then English lit major first began performing back in 1961.
You can make your recession entertainment-dollars go further on Sunday, Sept. 13, when the Firehouse Center for the Arts will give fans two opportunities, at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m., to see Rush and hear him sing tunes from the newly-released “What I Know,” his first studio recording in 35 years.
Tickets are $32 for members and $35 for non-members and may be purchased at the Box Office, 978-462-7336, or online at

Elaine and I will probably go regardless because I'm curious about him and I'm sure Elaine already knows his music. But hopefully we'll be able to get a group going and all.

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

Friday, August 28, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces more deaths, Human Rights Watch's report on the targeting of Iraq's LGBT community gets some attention, a Shi'ite leader is mourned, from the start of the month until yesterday there have been 471 reported deaths and 1,822 Iraqis reported injured, Steven Lee Myers is a tiny man but a huge fool, and more.

Today the
US military announced: "BAGHDAD – Two 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) Soldiers died of wounds suffered following an improvised explosive device in eastern Baghdad Aug. 28 at approximately 2:30 a.m. The Soldiers names are being withheld pending notification of next-of-kin and release by the Department of Defense. The incident is currently under investigation." The deaths bring the total number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war to 4336.

Before Steven Lee Myers wrote
his dumb ass blog post at the New York Times website, I thought we could wait on unpacking the violence this month until, golly, the month ended. But whores are always lying and Steven's no reporter. August 1st, McClatchy reported 1 soldier dead in Mosul. August 2nd, 8 people were reported killed and twenty injured. August 3rd, 23 were reported dead and sixty-five wounded (these include late reporting of the day before's violence -- these are the deaths reported that day -- also note that we will not include Swine Flu deaths and that US military deaths and contractors will not be noted in this count). August 4th, 2 dead and nine wounded. August 5th, 9 reported dead and twelve reported injured. August 6th, 8 dead and thirty-two injured. August 7th, 59 dead and injured one-hundred and ninety-eight wounded. August 8th, 1 death was reported and two people injured. Because there is an UNDERCOUNT every month of the reported dead and because ICCC's count is WAY OFF each month on civilians, we've started monitoring the reported toll at Third. Third noted August 16th, there were 122 reported deaths in Iraq the previous week and 414 reported wounded ("Last Sunday found the press reporting 6 deaths and 12 people injured. Monday saw 61 deaths reported and 252 injuries. Tuesday saw 11 dead and 57 wounded. Wednesday's numbers were 11 dead and 21 injured. Thursday 25 lives were claimed and 51 people were wounded. Friday there were 2 reported deaths and 6 reported injured. Saturday saw 6 dead and 15 injured.") Third noted August 23rd resulted in 211 reported deaths and 950 wounded. ("Last Sunday saw 13 reported dead and 41 reported injured. Monday saw 24 dead 59 wounded. Tuesday the reported death toll was 5 and 24 were reported injured. Wednesday 102 were reported dead and 572 wounded. By Thursday evening, 22 were reported dead with 67 injured. Thursday night 33 more deaths were reported and 145 wounded. Friday saw 8 deaths reported and 31 people wounded. Saturday saw 4 dead 11.") This week? August 23rd 4 dead and eleven injured. August 24th, 11 dead, twenty-nine wounded. August 25th, 4 dead, nineteen injured. August 26th, 4 dead and ten wounded. August 27th, 4 dead and fifty-one wounded. Leaving out today, that's 27 dead and 120 wounded this week. ICCC shows 413 dead. That's incorrect. Use the links, there have been 471 reported deaths -- not including today -- in August and 1,822 reported injured. That's Reuters and McClatchy with one inclusion of Xinhau. Use the links. So Steven Lee Myers, you stupid liar, ICCC's count is not "invaluable" -- it's not even correct, you stupid moron. That the New York Times can't do their own count tells how damn little Iraq and Iraqis matter to them. So Steven Lee shows up whoring again and hoping we're all so stupid we mistake it for reporting. He not only whores on the civilian count, he whores on the number of US service members killed.

"In Iraq," Steven types, "fewer American soliders have died this month -- seven, including two in a roadside bombing early Friday -- than any other month of the war, a figure that . . ." The month isn't over. How many damn times do we have to point that out each year? Hmm. And how many were reported dead in July in the first days of August? 7. 7 were reported dead. The same damn number that outlets like the New York Times trumpted at the start of August as "lowest!!!!!"

He can't tell you that. From the
August 4th snapshot:

Late yesterday,
DoD announced: "Staff Sgt. Johnny R. Polk, 39, of Gulfport, Miss., died July 25 at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Landstuhl, Germany, of wounds suffered when his vehicle was struck by anti-tank grenade on July 23 in Kirkuk, Iraq." That July 25th death was never reported by M-NF and, again, was only announced late yesterday -- long after the outlets had done their 'end of the month' pieces. This happens over and over and the press falls for it everytime -- like saps, like suckers.

Yeah, they fell for it at the start of the month and, late August 3rd (after all the outlets had done their month-in-review pieces on July), the US military finally, FINALLY, announced a July death.

I'm not in the mood for nonsense. We are talking numbers, they are not supposed to be fluid, they are supposed to be fixed. That's why they are numbers and not ranges. Do you get the difference you damn glorified general studies major or that just beyond your highly limited education? I'm not in the mood.

Steven Lee Myers did an early roll-out on how the military wants August spun: Low deaths for civilians! Lowest month evah for US military! Evah! In fact, the whole thing reads like Maj Gen John Johnson wrote it. He gave a press briefing yesterday at the Pentagon (he appeared via videolink from Baghdad) and about the only thing of interest there was that he was asked about the 135,000 US troops in Iraq and didn't correct on that number. We'll come back to his briefing later in the snapshot.

Steven Lee Myers' cluelessness reminds me of two friends. One is a producer, the other is a singer. The singer wanted an arrangment in B flat. The singer then insisted that the arrangement was in some other key and the producer replied that the singer wouldn't know a car key from a music key "but let's go over to the piano right now and I will teach you a musical key." The singer let it go and sang the arrangement as arranged. I'm reminded of that story when I think of Steven. Who was right? The song was recorded as the producer wanted. The singer hit number one with it and it's also gave the singer the longest number of weeks in the Hot 100 -- more than any of the singer's other hits. (Yeah, I'm avoiding gender and trying to keep this very much a blind item.) Like the singer, Steven Lee Myers doesn't know what the hell he's talking about. And yet he's doing the early roll out and this is what we'll have to put up with because the press never self-corrects. (Nor does the press have a good beat that you can dance too.)

This was the month the the
Project for Excellence in Journalism noted a 92% drop in Iraq coverage took place from the first part of 2007 "to the middle of 2009." So we get less coverage and, thanks to the likes of Steven Lee Myers, we get worse coverage.

One of the few outlets -- the very few media outlets -- which has not forgotten Iraq is NPR's
The Diane Rehm Show. Diane Rehm tripped last Thursday and while she recovers from her fall, guest hosts are filling in. USA Today's Susan Page filled in for her today and Iraq was addressed during the second hour (the international hour) with panelists David Ignatius (Washington Post), Barbara Slavin (Washington Times) and Janine Zacharia (Bloomberg News).

Susan Page: Lots of developments in Iraq this week, including the death of a Shi'ite leader. Tell us what's happening there, Barbara.

Barbara Slavin: Abdul Aziz al-Hakim headed something which used to be called the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, SCIRI. It changed it's name to the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, taking out "Revolution." But it's a very important organization it was essentially created in Iran by Iran's Revolutionary Guard corps in the 1980s, after the beginning of the Iran-Iraq War. The Hakims returned to Iraq after the US overthrew Saddam. And Abdul Aziz al-Hakim has had lung cancer for some time and so this is not unexpected. But it still happens at a very delicate phase where we are anticipating elections in Iraq next year and there is a reorganization going on among the Shi'ite parties. His party, others affialiated with Moqtada al-Sadr -- a militant leader, with Ahmed Chalabi whom we'll talk about in a little bit have formed an alliance that excludes the prime minister who is a Shi'ite, Nouri al-Maliki. And they are all manuevering to see who will take power as the US withdraws from Iraq.

Susan Page: How important is this situation, David? And how perilous for US interests?

David Ignatius: Well as the US now withdraws its forces in ernest from Iraq -- we've pulled back from the cities and are really not a factor in day-to-day security -- we are seeing an increase in violence and in political chaos in the country. The death of Abdul Aziz al-Hakim a figurehead for the Shi'ite religious parties, is an example of this but in every direction I look in Iraq, I see similar uncertainty. Maliki is increasingly cocky about his own role as prime minister and I-I think has decided he can go it alone separating himself from the other Shi'ite parties. He's got his own complicated dealings with Iran. You've got the Kurds who are pushing for their own interests ever more stridently. I think the question that we need to think about is: Going forward in Iraq, is this project of the new Iraqi state that was created in 2003, after the United States invasion, do Iraqis think it's going to continue? And are they going to buy into it? And are they going to make the deals that would be part of having some kind of viable country and democracy? And right now it's really tough to be confident about that.

Susan Page: Janine?

Janine Zacharia: Just to follow up on what David was saying, I think the August 19th co-ordinated attacks where nearly 100 people were killed and 600 were wounded and US forces who were pulled back on June 30th were sitting on the outskirts and couldn't get in there because the Iraqis had not invited them, I think that this is something the US is going to be looking closely at going forward and we have to see how that's going to effect Obama's promises of doing a complete US pullout by the end of 2011. Just quickly on al-Hakim, some people have said that he's been, because of his illness, as Barbara said, he hasn't been as important day-to-day in Shi'ite politics right now and one US diplomat I spoke to said they're hoping actually this will clear the way for fresh Shia leadership within that party who can challenge Moqtada al-Sadr who is the more radical concern for them.

Susan Page: David.

David Ignatius: I've met Abdul Aziz al-Hakim's son Ammar who's the new leader of this party. We had a long and very interesting breakfast conversation and he's the sort of young man who, you know, when you meet him and talk to him, you think, "Gee, maybe things are really going to work out in this country." He is surrounded by some of the toughest, meanest politicians and I think of this nice, young man, this cleric from Najaf, getting eaten alive by the -- by the wolves of Baghdad.

Susan Page: You mentioned, Barbara, Chalabi, a familiar name to Americans from the very beginning of the Iraq War. What happened this week to an aid of his?

Barbara Slavin: Yeah, well, the twists and turns involving Ahmed Chalabi are just incredible. This is the guy, to remind people, who led Iraqi exiles after the Gulf War, who lobbied so hard to overthrow Saddam Hussein, who presented information to the media about alleged Weapons of Mass Destruction that didn't turn out to actually exist in Iraq once the US got there and he also, throughout this time, had maintained good relations with Iran -- which makes sense if you're an Iraqi Shia, since Iran is the neighbor and the biggest Shi'ite country. And what we have now is more evidence that his connection with the Iranians are closer perhaps than we even thought. The
Washington Times has a front page story today about the arrest of a top aide to Chalabi on charges that he was a liason to an Iraqi Shi'ite militant group called the League of the Righteous which, among other things, is believed responsible for the execution-style murder of five US marines in 2007. And Chalabi, of course, denies it, the aide denise it, but, uh, senior US military officials say that, indeed, Chalabi's links and the links to this group are-are documented and that Chalabi has been playing both sides of the fence.

The article Barbara Slavin's referring to was
written by Eli Lake who notes, "Mr. Chalabi is a top Iraqi politician best known in the West for helping to persuade the Bush administration to go to war to remove Saddam Hussein from power. In 2004, he sat with first lady Laura Bush during Mr. Bush's State of the Union address to Congress." Lake quotes anonymice US officials (three). The aide's name is Ali Faisal al-Lami.

For those late to the party on who the League of Righteous is, we'll drop back to the
June 9th snapshot:

This morning the New York Times' Alissa J. Rubin and Michael Gordon offered "
U.S. Frees Suspect in Killing of 5 G.I.'s." Martin Chulov (Guardian) covered the same story, Kim Gamel (AP) reported on it, BBC offered "Kidnap hope after Shia's handover" and Deborah Haynes contributed "Hope for British hostages in Iraq after release of Shia militant" (Times of London). The basics of the story are this. 5 British citizens have been hostages since May 29, 2007. The US military had in their custody Laith al-Khazali. He is a member of Asa'ib al-Haq. He is also accused of murdering five US troops. The US military released him and allegedly did so because his organization was not going to release any of the five British hostages until he was released. This is a big story and the US military is attempting to state this is just diplomacy, has nothing to do with the British hostages and, besides, they just released him to Iraq. Sami al-askari told the New York Times, "This is a very sensitive topic because you know the position that the Iraqi government, the U.S. and British governments, and all the governments do not accept the idea of exchanging hostages for prisoners. So we put it in another format, and we told them that if they want to participate in the political process they cannot do so while they are holding hostages. And we mentioned to the American side that they cannot join the political process and release their hostages while their leaders are behind bars or imprisoned." In other words, a prisoner was traded for hostages and they attempted to not only make the trade but to lie to people about it. At the US State Dept, the tired and bored reporters were unable to even broach the subject. Poor declawed tabbies. Pentagon reporters did press the issue and got the standard line from the department's spokesperson, Bryan Whitman, that the US handed the prisoner to Iraq, the US didn't hand him over to any organization -- terrorist or otherwise. What Iraq did, Whitman wanted the press to know, was what Iraq did. A complete lie that really insults the intelligence of the American people. CNN reminds the five US soldiers killed "were: Capt. Brian S. Freeman, 31, of Temecula, California; 1st Lt. Jacob N. Fritz, 25, of Verdon, Nebraska; Spc. Johnathan B. Chism, 22, of Gonzales, Louisiana; Pfc. Shawn P. Falter, 25, of Cortland, New York; and Pfc. Johnathon M. Millican, 20, of Trafford, Alabama." Those are the five from January 2007 that al-Khazali and his brother Qais al-Khazali are supposed to be responsible for the deaths of. Qassim Abdul-Zahra and Robert H. Reid (AP) states that Jonathan B. Chism's father Danny Chism is outraged over the release and has declared, "They freed them? The American military did? Somebody needs to answer for it."

That's what Barbara Slavin was referring to and she noted that she was only citing one example of the group. Another involves British citizens. From the
August 6th snapshot:

Jason Swindlehurst, Jason Creswell, Alec Maclachlan, Alan McMenemy and Peter Moore, all British citizens, were kidnapped in Baghdad May 29, 2007. Jason Swindlehurst and Jason Creswell were dead when their bodies were turned over to the British authorities after the two leaders of the group bragging about having done the kidnappings were released from US custody. (The same group, and why the brothers had been imprisoned originally by the US, bragged about their actions in assaulting a US base and killing 5 American soldiers.) The British government considers Alec and Alan to be dead (the families remain hopeful) and it is thought (by the British government) that Peter Moore is alive. The group taking credit for the kidnappings and for the deaths of 5 US soldiers is alternately called the Righteous League or the League of Righteous by the press. The press? They got press this week, see
Monday's snapshot, because Nouri met with them to bring them back into the government. As noted in the Tuesday snapshot, the press spin that the group has given up violence is false. Their spokesperson says they will not attack Iraqis but that they will continue to go after US service members.

Recapping: the League of Righteous has claimed credit for the deaths of 5 US soldiers and credit for kidnapping 5 British citizens, at least 2 of whom are known to be dead. In addition, British outlets noted last month that the Iraqi government appeared to be involved in the kidnappings (see the
July 31st snapshot if you're late on this story). Gareth Porter (Asia Times) reported in August that recent developments demonstrate how Nouri al-Maliki, puppet of the occupation and US-installed thug, has long been working with the League of Righteous:

The history of the new agreement confirms what was evident from existing information: the League of the Righteous was actually the underground wing of the Mahdi Army all along, and the Sadrist insurgents were secretly working closely with the Maliki regime against the Americans and the British - even as it was at war with armed elements within the regime. The contradictory nature of the relationship between Maliki and the Sadrists reflects the tensions between pro-Sadrist elements within the regime - including Maliki's Da'wa Party - and the anti-Sadrist elements led by the Supreme Council of Islamic Revolution in Iraq. The relationship between Maliki and the US was also marked by contradictions. Even though he was ostensibly cooperating with the US against the Sadrists in 2007 and 2008, the Maliki regime was also cooperating secretly with the Sadrist forces against the Americans. And Maliki - with the encouragement of Iran -- was working on a strategy for achieving the complete withdrawal of US forces from Iraq through diplomatic means, which he did not reveal to the Americans until summer 2008.

That was earlier this month and no one really followed up on what Gareth Porter was reporting. But that is the League of Righteous. Nouri has some ties to it and now the Washington Times is stating that three US government officials (who may or may not be telling the truth) are stating that Ahmed Chalabi also has a relationship with them. On The Diane Rehm Show, Steve Roberts has also been filling in for Diane and
Monday's show featured him with a panel discussing Iraq and Afghanistan with three people. I'll provide a link to it and note that Steve did a strong job filling in but the guests were decidely unimpressive and that's why we didn't note it.

While we're in the US,
Peace Mom Cindy Sheehan has been on Martha's Vineyard protesting the continued illegal war and the Afghanistan War and the undeclared war on Pakistan. Mike Seccombe (Vineyard Gazette) reports her events included a press conference where she stated of Barack Obama, US president, "Just because he's better than Bush doesn't sell me, because practically everybody in the world is better than Bush." George Brennan (Cape Cod Times) adds, "Like she has since her son, Casey, was killed in Iraq in 2004, Sheehan is using the backdrop of a presidential vacation to make her pitch for peace. It's an effective way to get her anti-war protests attention, she said. 'The only change in foreign policy has been a change for the worse,' she said, wearing a pink T-shirt with a peace symbol and the words, 'Peace. Love. Vineyard'."
The White House states that due to a funeral, Barack will be leaving the island. Not the funeral that has the world's attention. That funeral hardly gets noticed in the US -- outside of those mourning the passing.
BBC News (link has text and video) reports that Abdul Aziz al-Hakim's body has been taken to Baghdad and "PM Nouri Maliki and hundreds of officials met the coffin of Hakim, the leader of one of Iraq's most powerful Shia parties, at Baghdad airport. The body is to be taken to the Shia shrine city of Karbala, before being buried in Najaf on Saturday." Xinhua quotes Nouri stating at the airport, "We lose you in a delicate and sensitive period, when we are in need of a strong an experienced man." That's always been Nouri's problem, like Melissa on thirty-something, he needs a man. Al Jazeera hails al-Hakim, who died Wednesday, as "the most powerful Shia politician in Iraq". A memorial service was held yesterday in Tehran and the central government in Baghdad has declared a three-day mourning period. CCTV has video of Nouri at the memorial service in Baghdad. Alsumaria provides this sketch of al-Hakim's life:He is the son of Grand Ayatollah Mohsen Al Hakim and the youngest of his ten children who most of them were killed during the former regime.Abdul Aziz Al Hakim co-founded the Islamic Revolution Supreme Council in Iraq and fled the country in the early eighties after his family was chased and assassinated. He lived in Iran leading the Iraqi opposition against the regime of former President Saddam Hussein.Sayyed Abdul Aziz Al Hakim returned to Iraq on April 17 2003 following the topple of the former regime.He gained an influential political role when he took over as head of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq after his elder brother, Grand Ayatollah Muhammad Baqer Al Hakim, died in a car bombing.

Jomana Karadsheh (CNN -- link has video and I'm told it includes the shot of the thousands reaching for the coffin that CNN was running throughout the afternoon -- footage which resulted in a high number of e-mails to CNN about the funeral because that footage caught a number of American viewers' attention) reports that security was tight in Baghdad with streets "sealed off Friday, and Iraqi air forces helicopters hovered overhead. Sobbing mourners beat their chests and heads, a traditional Shiite way of mourning. They swarmed around the coffin trying to touch it as it was carried into the Kadhimiya shrine, one of Shiite Islam's holiest." Jane Arraf (Christian Science Monitor) notes, "The black turban signifying his family's descent from the prophet Muhammed was placed on Hakim's coffin which was covered in flowers and placed on a covered platform on the tarmac." Gulf Times reports that Ammar al-Hakim (his son) led the mourners and wore a black robe and turban while President Jalal Talabani was the first mourner to speak and stated, "He was a leader, a devoted fighter of Iraq. We are confident that the void left in his family and in the Supreme Council will be filled by the men of his family, such as Ammar al-Hakim."

The security was tight but how tight is underscored by the decision to hold that memorial ceremony at Baghdad International which means that the US forces were also out in force. Camp Victory is a US base (not handed over to iraq) and it surrounds Baghdad International Airport. Turning to some of today's reported violence . . .


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Nineveh Province roadside bombing which claimed 1 life (civilian) and wounded an Iraqi soldier and, dropping back to last night, a Mosul roadside bombing which claimed the lives of 2 people and left four injured.


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports Nineveh Provincial Council member Tariq Ali Abbawi was assassinated last night. Reuters notes the US military shot dead 1 man and injured another stating the two were suspected bombers and, dropping back to last night, note an attack in Mosul on Iraqi police which claimed the life of 1 young girl and left another civilian injured.

None of that was included in the earlier count. Yesterday, US Maj Gen John Johnson spoke to the press and Military Times' Bill McMichael asked about Sahwa, aka Sons Of Iraq, aka "Awakening." These are the Sunnis the US government armed and trained (they
dispute arming them) and paid to stop fighting US troops. Nouri al-Maliki does not want to bring them into Iraq's security forces. Many a reporter has WRONGLY stated that they've been brought in. Since November. They have not been brought in. Johnson stated that of the "over 90,000 Sons Of Iraq," only "about 20% of them will be integrated into the Iraqi security forces" and he then stated that "over 3,300, as I said, have already been pulled into the Iraqi ministries" and then he would say that was just in Baghdad and throughout Iraq there were "a little over 13,000 that have been integrated into Iraqi security forces, either into the army or into the Iraqi police" -- no, that's not really 20% which is why it appears he's helping Steven Lee Myers, neither can handle numbers. And when you can't handle 20%, I really fear for your wait staff. I mean, however do you tip? Like Steven Lee Myers, another US general tried to play down the violence today.
Diana Elias (AP) reports that Gen George Casey yammered away about "ebb and flow" -- he sounds like a Righteous Brother but not, however, a member of the League of Righteous.

Human Rights Watch released "
'They Want Us Exterminated': Murder, Torture, Sexual Orientation and Gender in Iraq," a 67-page report [PDF format warning] click here, last week. In the US, it's received more attention this week than last. Wayne Besen (Windy City Times) noted of the revelations about the targeting of Iraq's LGBT community, "In Iraq, 'extremism' is too mild a word to describe the acts of those who abuse gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people." Rex Wockner (San Francisco Bay Times) adds, "The killers invade homes and grab people on the street, HRW reported. Victims are interrogated for names of others before being murdered. Torture practices include supergluing victim's anuses shut, then feeding them laxatives." At CounterPunch, David Rosen notes the report and attempts to find some larger points:

Sexuality, and the attendant issue of "honor" killings, provides a unique window into the alleged clash of civilizations. It is that sphere of human existence in which the twin dimensions of being human are forged. In sex, the truely human (i.e., consciousness) and the truely animal (i.e., physicality) are unified into a singluar experience. This unity is lived out as both species reproduction and erotic pleasure.
Sexuality is also one aspect of socio-personal life that is very much sharpened by "civilization," by cultural values and religious beliefs as well as by the marketplace and battles between geopolitical empires. Peoples, nations and civilizations have struggled for millennia over the meaning of sexuality, whether for men, women or young people and whether defined as hetrosexual or homosexual.
Explicit and aggressive sexuality is a powerful force dividing the West from, for example, the Arab and Islamic world. It is one of the most threatening dimensions of Western capitalism's cultural system that is pushing ever-deeper into the intimate, private lives of people throughout the world.
For many, the experience of globalization resonates less in the plunder of a nation's natural resources or the exploitation of its collective labor power than in the flood of erotic sensibilities challenging established power relations. This apparent assault often provokes the greatest resistance.

I do not believe David Rosen is attempting to state or imply that same-sex attraction and relationships are new or just emerging in Iraq. Someone will e-mail to protest. To be clear, HRW's report makes a point of noting that LGBTs are not new to Iraq and they're certainly not new to any region or area.
Sherwood Ross (Veterans Today) weighs in on Lawrence Velvel's America 2008 (Velvel is the Dean of Massachusetts School of Law at Andover):

Iraq's bloodshed is worse, Velvel writes "because today we not only have a years-long unwinnable war, but also torture, kidnappings and renderings to foreign countries for torture, many years of detention without trial of people who are innocent, the use of massive private armies to help carry out Executive policies" suppression of the media far beyond anything experienced during Viet Nam"the use of Executive Branch lawyers to write professionally incompetent secret memoranda giving clearance to awful policies, and the use of retired generals who are making a fortune from the Pentagon to spread its gospel on the mainstream media."
Today's wars of aggression are being waged, Velvel notes, because previous Washington officials were not held to account for their crimes: "Lyndon Johnson retired to his ranch, Nixon received a pardon and went back to San Clemente, McNamara became the long time President of the World Bank, Kissinger became richer and richer (and secretly advised Bush and Cheney on Iraq)"Wolfowitz was given a sinecure at the World Bank, lawyers who facilitated the misdeeds---such as Jay Bybee and John Yoo---are federal judges or professors at leading law schools."

TV notes, and all PBS programs begin airing tonight in most markets.
NOW on PBS offers:Would you pay more in taxes to fix roads and rail?The majority of American goods are transported by trucks, even though freight trains are greener and more fuel-efficient. Where should America be placing its bets for moving our economy and what would you personally sacrifice for it?This week, Correspondent Miles O'Brien looks at the contemporary needs, challenges, and solutions for transporting vital cargo across America, and how those decisions affect the way you live, work, and travel.This program is part of a PBS-wide series on the country's infrastructure called "Blueprint America."On Washington Week, Gwen sits around the table with David Broder (Washington Post), Karen Tumulty (Time magazine), David Wessel (Wall St. Journal) and Pete Williams (NBC News).Meanwhile Bonnie Erbe and her guests Karen Czarnecki, Ann Friedman, Irene Natividad and Tara Setmayer discuss 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:
The Wasteland Where do the millions of computer monitors, cell phones and other electronic refuse our society generates end up? Some of it is shipped illegally from the U.S. to China, reports Scott Pelley, where it is harming the environment and the people who salvage its valuable components. Watch Video
Financial Weapons of Mass Destruction Steve Kroft examines the complicated financial instruments known as credit default swaps and the central role they are playing in the unfolding economic crisis. Watch Video
Birdman Forrest Bird's invention, the respirator, has saved millions of lives and, approaching his ninth decade, he's still living his life to the fullest, flying his airplanes and working 12-hour days. Morley Safer reports. Watch Video
60 Minutes Sunday, Aug. 30, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

nprthe diane rehm show
gareth porter
the washington timeseli lake
mcclatchy newspaperslaith hammoudi
cindy sheehan
the christian science monitorjane arrafmike seccombegeorge brennanthe guardianagnes callamardbbc newsalsumariaal jazeera
sherwood ross
60 minutescbs newspbsto the contrarybonnie erbenow on pbs

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Dennis Loo is a PRISSY idiot

Almost the weekend. We have to endure a bit more first.

And that includes Dennis Loo.

Denny Loo obviously missed Mary J. Blige's message: No more drama. Ava and C.I. already attempting to instruct Loony Loo ("To Dennis with Loo from Ava and C.I.") but there's no hope for the idiot, obviously. I had an angry e-mail asking me if I'd address Denny Loo? I did better than that, I passed it on to some others who will be addressing Denny Loo-Loo tonight.

So World Can't Wait can't curb Denny Loo. No one can. His biggest problem is he never learned to shut the hell up. What a little weasel. He's going off on Eddie today. And Eddie catches him lying. I'm linking and everyone else will just link to me because they've had it (I don't blame them).

Here Denny Loo trashes Ruth and Third (and I helped write the Third article). And he says, "I couldn’t figure out why I was being accused of being homophobic. Then a friend said that they’re saying I used the term “tea bagger” and that this term is a slam on gay men." Then he's insisting that we said (at Third) he used the term in his World Can't Wait essays. We never said any such thing.

Denny Loo is a hell of a priss pot. He lies repeatedly and his problem is no one ever kicked the s**t out of him. Trust me, that little priss, the way he acts online, a lot of people wanted to kick the s**t out of him. He's a puny fellow so they may have restrained themselves for that reason. But one good ass kicking would taught Denny Loo to shut the hell up. Instead, he's not just got to have the last word, he's got to have the last 500 words.

And he's never right and he always changes what he's talking about hoping no one will pin him down.

It's bulls**t and World Can't Wait is becoming bulls**t as a result. This crap needs to stop. As a general rule, comments shouldn't be dominated by Dennis Loo. He's already written a (bad) essay. Let people respond. He can't do it.

C.I. would know for sure, but I think he first pissed off community members with this August 13th scribble. Two people left comments complaining. That's a lot for World Can't Wait, trust me. And after those two? You get the never ending Denny. Bickering, bitching, moaning and whining. Put a stop to it already. Seriously if this little weasel had gotten the ass kicking he deserved a long time ago, he never would have turned out this pompus. But here are the first two comments disagreeing with Freaky Denny Loo:

+2 #1 Truth 2009-08-13 17:28 I'm surprised WCW posted this article, blasting the very people/movement that they should be supporting.Obviously, Loo & WCW are stuck in the Left/Right paradigm & can't see that it is that very Left/Right paradigm that is tearing this country apart, pitting people one against the other, while the real criminals are getting away with doing whatever they want because people/organizations like you/yours are falling for their distraction tactics.Americans aren't protesting just the health care bill. The health care bill is the last straw, but it is not the only issue. People are tired of yrs of gov't usurpation of the Constitution. Of needless wars, of our rights being stomped on via the Patriot Act, Military Commissions Act, etc. They're tired of the Federal Reserve Bank, a private, for profit corp. running the monetary policy of this country in secret & for their profit. They're tired of seeing Congress pass bills without reading them. They're tired of bankster bailouts & all the other corp. bailouts. They're tired of having clean pure water & untainted food stripped away. They're tired of seeing Congress pass bills despite the majority of The People opposing them. They're tired of not being heard, yet made to pay for everything the thieves in Congress want for themselves & their corporate buddies. The health care bill is just the final straw in a long list of grievances.They're tired of all the crap that's been going on in this country for the last 20 years, & you post an article that demonizes them? SHAME ON YOU!!!I used to be a supporter of World Can't Wait. I removed myself about a year ago when I realized that your agenda is NOT really about understanding with depth & building bridges, but about pointing fingers & hating everyone & anyone who does not fall into your side of your paradigm. Believe me-THAT ATTITUDE NEVER LEADS TO PEACE, BUT ONLY TO MORE WARS!!I went to your website to see what you've been up to, & this article has brought me great sadness. How sad to see your org. repeat lies & spins so full of hate for your fellow American. You should be supporting these people as many of them are against the wars, too. But instead of looking for & finding truth, you choose to be pawns of the hate/war machine that divides people, marginalizes them, so the powers that be can be "justified" in silencing & doing away with them.No one's contacted me from the Rep Party, or any group, to go to townhall meetings. No one's offered to pay me to go. Yet 2 days ago I saw a job listing posted on Craig's List-Sacramento, CA, offering to hire & pay people to go to townhall meetings & oppose ordinary citizens who are finally coming out to speak their mind. Yet the msm portrayal is quite the opposite & you fall for it. How utterly stupid for you to believe anything coming out of msm. Surely you must know that Dems voted for the wars, & voted to fund the wars that you supposedly oppose. The doo-doo on Clinton, Bush, Gore, Rumsfeld, Cheney, Pelosi, et al, is so deep!You may have some awareness, but obviously you're not looking at the whole picture clearly, & thus, are used by the hate/war machine.BTW: Adam Kokesh, IVAW, is running for Congress. Here's a quote off his website: "Not only is federal interference in healthcare unconstitutiona l, it is insulting to New Mexicans to say that we need to send money to Washington so they can tell us how to organize healthcare for our state." - are you supporting him? Quote

#2 Keesha 2009-08-13 23:50 Thank you to Truth. I read the article and thought I\\\'d be the only one scratching my head. Good to know I\\\'m not.For the participant who was scared, grow up. Democracy is loud and it\\\'s messy, it\\\'s not a tea or a social. Good for the right for calling out Barack\\\'s nonsense plan. We should be calling it out on the left. Truth\\\'s exactly right, WCW has gotten stuck in a left-right frame where if the right objects we have to defend. There\\\'s nothing to defend in Barack\\\'s big give away to Big Pharma and the Insurance Companies. Offer single-payer and I\\\'ll applaud him, I\\\'ll fight for it. I\\\'ll defend loudly and proudly.But that\\\'s not what he\\\'s offering. He\\\'s a joke and WCW makes itself a joke.I don\\\'t have sympathy for anyone who\\\'s nervous at a townhall. I\\\'m an African-American woman, I don\\\'t have time to tremble this society. I have to stand up. It\\\'s a shame WCW decided to play Mommy of the Nation instead of standing up.

Now he wrote his little bitchy e-mail to Ruth which started this nonsense. He talked down to her in his pompous and prissy manner. It was a nasty e-mail and he's nasty piece of work.

Let his drama run out of his ass until he dehydrates, he's just ends up looking like the prissiest little whiny ass in the whole wide world.

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

Thursday, August 27, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, Cindy Sheehan and others continue demonstration on Martha's Vineyard, Barack Obama's approval rating hits a record low in a new poll, and more.

Starting in the US, Peace Mom
Cindy Sheehan's on Martha's Vineyard. She is protesting an occupant of the White House. (For those confused, we now have President Barack Obama. I have never used the p word to describe George W. Bush and will not start now.) She is demonstarting against the continuation of the illegal wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and attempting to raise attention. Justin Raimondo ( observed this week:

There was a time when
Cindy Sheehan couldn't go anywhere without having a microphone and a TV camera stuck in front of her. As she camped out in front of George W. Bush's Crawford ranch, mourning the death of her son Casey in Iraq and calling attention to an unjust, unnecessary, and unwinnable war, the media created in her a symbolic figure whose public agony epitomized a growing backlash against the militarism and unmitigated arrogance of the Bush administration. It was a powerful image: a lone woman standing up to the most powerful man on earth in memory of her fallen son.

Karen Travers (ABC News) reports today, "Sheehan said today she wanted to tell Mr. Obama that even if he goes on vacation, her group will not take a break from spreading their message of peace. . . . The scene outside the Oak Bluffs School on Martha's Vineyard today was a far cry from those massive rallies aimed at Bush. Only a dozen people showed up to hear her speak, and about half of them were part of her contingent." NBC's Alicia Jennings quotes Cindy stating today, "The facade has changed but policies remain the same. Integrity in our movement means we have to do same for Obama as we did for Bush. We're here to make wars unpopular again. Because if we were right to oppose it under Bush, we're right to oppose it under Obama. While the Obamas are here on vacation, people are still dying. There's no vacation from body bags. And the families of dead soldiers will never be able to truly enjoy a vacation again." Mark Silva (Chicago Tribune) quotes Cindy stating, "We have to realize, it is not the president who is [in] power, it is not the party that is in power, it is the system that stays the same, no matter who is in charge." Patricia Zengerle (Reuters) adds, "Sheehan, whose son was killed in Iraq in 2004, set up a small "Camp Casey," named for her late child, near Blue Heron Farm, the compound on the Massachusetts island Martha's Vineyard where Obama and his family are spending a weeklong holiday."

That's Real Media. What about beggar media? What about the Queen of
Panhandle Media Amy Goodman, The Nation and The Progresive? Not one damn word. At some point when Amy, Matty Rothschild and Katrina vanden Heuvel take their tongues out of Barack's asshole, what they'll be tasting is their own hypocrisy and don't think the right wing's not pointing out and don't think the general population isn't registering it.

Victor Davis Hanson, of the right-wing Hoover Institute, is laughing at the left:The war in Iraq is scarcely in the news any longer, despite the fact that 141,000 American soldiers are still protecting the fragile Iraqi democracy, and 114, as of this writing, have been lost this year in that effort.[. . .]As long as Barack Obama is commander-in-chief, and as long as casualties in Iraq are down, there will be no large public protests or much news about our sizable Iraq presence. The cost and the attendant politics -- not why we went there -- always determined how the Iraq war was covered.The left better grasp that we are not huge. We are not this bulge in the population. The biggest section of the population is the group that does not obsess over politics. And you better grasp that every time the right points to the hypocrisy of the left, it registers because the right's correct to point. "Cindy Sheehan protesting a president? It's something to cover!" That was the cry in 2005. In 2009? What's changed? The White House now has a Democratic occupant.You better grasp the message you send and how you look like a liar operating under situational ethics and how you say to the middle and the non-identifying crowd that the left has no ethics and no standards. But they aren't journalists. Would a journalist do what Katha's done? Write a little bit about a town hall she didn't attend but her friend told her about? That's journalism? What high huge standards. Meanwhile Patricia J. Williams sounds like such a raging loon ("America's own Weimer moment"!) that you start realizing that they have nothing to offer. They really have nothing. So they're running with fear and propaganda and trying to outrage a public. A few years back, we called those people right-wing pundits. Today we call them Panhandle Media. A bunch of beggars who couldn't work a real job -- even in journalism -- if their life depended upon it. So instead they're political evangilists, the Jerry Fallwells of today, unwilling to work but thrilled to beg, "Send money! Send money!" They'll happily fleece your pockets. They have no ethics. They have nothing but the greed and the hate. And these are people who want to influence you. That last one may be the saddest of all. But grasp that they'll fleece you and they'll make money off of you and then they will abandon you. The are no ethics among these so-called leaders. The left needs real leaders. One of those people is Cindy Sheehan who could be vacationing right now. She could be doing a number of things. She doesn't the hate aimed at her or the silence from supposed allies. Cindy doesn't want to be the face of the movement but she also knows that the movement is fading very quickly and that no one is stepping forward. So she's yet again offering leadership.

Someone has to. Cowards like the self-loathing lesbian Laura Flanders won't. This is the woman who never called Barack out for homophobia. Not during the primaries, not during the general, not at the inauguration, not ever. The woman's a lesbian. She won't fight for herself how the hell can she fight for anyone else? Answer: She can't. We were asked to note her crappy show. And I considered it. She's got an interview with two women about Iraqi women. It's not worth noting. It's not saying anything. And certainly the self-loathing lesbian can't say anything. Here's
Laura at Information Clearing House, "But President Obama has a problem. Every American military commanders want more troops but maybe, someday, the president's anti-war base will get restive." But without you, Whora Flanders. You're the liar in 2008 who claimed the left needed to hold Barack's feet to the fire and you would, you said. But you never did. You're just a liar with a chalky face (apparently covering a hundred facial eruptions -- those aren't pimples, I have no idea what they are). Her guests are from the laughable MADRE. The liars of MADRE. MADRE gave up the high ground when they refused to call Barack out for his silence during the January assault on Gaza. Not only were they silent about that, they were raving over him. They were drooling over him. Life's too short to be willfully stupid and it's too precious to be silent. Cindy Sheehan's doing a brave thing and you better believe people are absorbing what's going on, they are taking a measure of the left gas bags and noticing how silent they are. You better believe that will effect the left in the next 15 years more than anything else. Laura doesn't know it because she doesn't know America. But anyone with any history in this country knows where this leads for the left 'leaders.'

For the peace movement, if no one turns out for Cindy, it's not bad. (People have turned out and more are planning to.) Because Cindy's standing up. She's standing up and she's making a difference and she's putting it on the line. Forget the right-wing pundits, but people on the right who didn't understand her and thought she was just some 'anti-Bush' person are seeing that's not the case. It doesn't mean they agree with her (though some may), but it does mean that they're willing to reconsider their original thoughts of her. And in the center and, more importantly, in the mass of Americans who are not politically obsessed, the message is being sent that we protest war, regardless of who is in the White House. And the message is being sent that despite so many self-appointed leaders being massive hypocrites, Cindy Sheehan's the real deal. She is planting seeds. And she deserves applause for what she's doing. Instead those who were happy to beg her to show up for their magazine's benefit to raise more money (these magazines cannot support themselves because so few people read them) now act like they don't know her.

The Iraq War has not ended. This morning
Emily Nipps (St. Petersurg Times) reported, "Family and friends said farewell Thursday morning to an Army Reserve military police battalion heading to Iraq." Among those present was Caleb Dawson's wife, Patrice Dawson: "Patrice just got out of the military after her own stint in Iraq, and another with deatinees in Cuba. Every deployment is a little different, she said. This time, too, the couple's son C.J., a restless 4-year with a mohawk, understands his 'Daddy's going to work with the Army,' she said."

Turning to veterans issues,
Tuesday's snapshot went over some of the recent events (some of which may be PTSD related, some may not) of violence against others and themselves by Iraq War and Afghanistan War veterans. And, repeating, that is not saying that veterans -- suffering from PTSD or not suffering from it -- are a threat to society. That is not true. Even those with PTSD or other conditions are not a threat. But there are a number, a small number at present, of veterans who are struggling and are resorting to violence. And, more importantly, there is a higher number of veterans who are struggling and doing so in the dark without any help and because their struggle does not lead to violence, they are easy to render invisible.
"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.
In Tuesday's snapshot, we noted "Posttraumatic Stress Disorder as a Risk Factor for Suicidal Ideation in Iraq and Afghanistan War Veterans" (Journal of Traumatic Stress, Vol. 23, No. 4, August 2009, pp 303 - 306). When we had a functioning media, as opposed to 24-7 Celebrity Death Watch, published studies in peer reviewed scientific journals were news. Apparently, if it doesn't make E!, it's not considered news by the daily papers. The study was composed of sample of 435 Iraq and Afghanistan War veterans. Half of the sample was diagnosed with PTSD (49.6%) prior to study. The findings included:
Prior research with Vietnam veterans with chronic PTSD has established an association between PTSD and suicide (Bullman & Kang, 1994). This study extends these findings by demonstrating an association between suicidal ideation and PTSD in treatment-seeking OIF/OEF veterans with more acute forms of PTSD. PTSD was significantly associated with suicidal ideation after accounting for age, depression and substance abuse, with PTSD veterans over four times more likely to report suicidal ideation than veterans who did not screen psotive for PTSD. Among veterans who screen positive for PTSD, there was no significant increase in risk for suicidal ideation associated with a single comorbid disorder. However, the likelihood for suicidal ideation was 5.7 times greater in veterans with PTSD who screened positive for two or more comorbid disorders relative to veterans with PTSD alone. Results suggest that veterans with PTSD who have multiple psychiatric comorbidities may be at greater risk for suicidal ideation. This increased likelihood of suicidal ideation associated with comorbidity is notable because, of those OIF/OEF veterans diagnosed with a mental disorder, 27% have three or more different mental health diagnoses.
Monday the Department of Veterans Affairs announced, "The VA is publishing a proposed regulation today in the Federal Register to make it easier for a Veteran to claim service connection for PTSD by reducing the evidence needed if the stressor claimed by a Veteran is related to fear of hostile military or terrorist activity. Comments on the proposed rule will be accepted over the next 60 days. A final regulation will be published after consideration of all comments received. Under the new rule, VA would not require corroboration of a stressor related to fear of hostile military or terrorist activity if a VA psychiatrist or psychologist confirms that the stressful experience recalled by a Veteran adequately supports a diagnosis of PTSD and the Veteran's symptoms are related to the claimed stressor." Tuesday US House Rep John Hall declared, "I am optimistic that this new rule is going to be a giant step forward in getting veterans the benefits they have earned faster and easier. This rule should make major progress in clearing the VA's claims backlog.
I will work with the VA and veterans during the comment period to ensure that the rule in application is as comprehensive and inclusive as my COMBAT PTSD Act. Veterans currently face an adversarial process when they seek treatment and compensation from the VA. Our servicemen and women have been forced to 'prove' a specific stressor that triggered their PTSD, even if they have already been diagnosed. They need to track down incident reports, buddy statements, present medals, and leap other hurdles to mee the threshold the VA mandates in order to receive desperately needed compensation. Just
as our military adapts and reforms its strategies in every war it fights, the VA is now
adapting to assist the surviving heroes of those wars."
James Dao (New York Times) reported on the VA's proposed change yesterday and noted, "Critics said the proposed rule would still require veterans to prove a connection between a traumatizing event and their PTSD, even when that connection was not clear cut. Strict application of that requirement could lead to many rejected claims, they say." Which is why it's all the sadder that 'change' in the administration saw the VA being put under a retired general
and he's not proposing half of what US House Rep John Hall is.

IVAW's Cameron White notes a retreat for female members of the military and former members:

Combat to Connection A Retreat for Female Service Members and Veterans October 8-11, 2009
During this four-day retreat we will focus on healing, connecting & finding our strengths.
Connect with other women veterans by sharing stories, experiences and community; learn stress management techniques; exercise your creative side;
and enjoy a beautiful setting through hiking & kayaking on scenic Tomales Bay, California.
Who is eligible? All women who served in the military since September 11th, 2001, without regard for race, religion, politics or sexual preference.
What does the retreat cost? There is no cost to you for lodging, meals, workshops, ground transportation or air travel. Coming Home Project programs are completely free of charge to the participants.
Applications? Deadline is Sept. 8th, 2009 Click Here to Apply
Everyone is welcome as they are and all are treated with respect. There is no particular political or religious belief or affiliation that is represented or required. The intention of the Coming Home Project is to serve veterans
and contribute to their well-being and healing.
Coming Home Project 1801 Bush St. #213 San Francisco CA 94109

Dan McCue (Courthouse News Service) reports on Iraq War veteran Khadim Alkanani who was disabled due to being shot by contractors while serving in Baghdad
and is now suing the mercentaries of Aegis Defense Services: "Sgt. Khadim Alkanani claims the June 2005 shooting was 'remarkably similar' to other incidents which employees of Aegis Defense Services have captured on 'trophy videos' which show 'senseless
shootings of innocent personnel in automobiles from an armed vehicle."

Oliver August (Times of London) reports, "Iraq is on heightened alert after a string of car bombgs in Baghdad [. . .] amid preparations for the biggest public funeral since the country regained sovereignty." He's referring to Abdul Aziz al-Hakim whose death yesterday morning continues to have an impact. On PBS' NewsHour last night (link has text, video and audio options) Judy Woodruff explained, "The leader of the largest and most powerful Shiite party in Iraq died today after a long battle with lung cancer. Abdul Aziz al-Hakim had been in Iran undergoing treatment. The 59-year-old cleric was instrumental in shaping Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hussein. His son is his likely successor as party leader, with just five months to go before Iraq's parliamentary elections." Liz Sly (Los Angeles Times) notes al-Hakim managed to juggle "his close relationships with both Washington and Tehran." Ernesto Londono (Washington Post) cites the Congressional Research Service's Kenneth Katzman stating, "Hakim's passing
is likely to set off a major power struggle in ISCI that could lead to its fracture. Ammar is viewed by the older ISCI figures as inheriting the position rather than earning it." The
Telegraph of London adds, "The ISCI, which holds a quarter of the seats in the Iraqi parliament, this month joined a new alliance ahead of scheduled elections in January 2010. The alliance includes Muqtada al-Sadr, and -- if it prevails at the polls – could introduce a new era of Shia dominance in Iraqi politics." The White House's lack of
interest in Iraq has been much noted and it continued yesterday as they
issued a statement (under pressure) which was perfunctory at best:

Office of the Press Secretary ______________________________________________________________________
For Immediate Release August 26, 2009
Statement by the Press Secretary on the death of His Eminence Abdul Aziz al-Hakim
We were saddened to learn of the passing of His Eminence Abdul Aziz al-
Hakim, who has played an important role in Iraq's national history. We offer
our condolences to his family and colleagues.

Ali Sheikholeslami and Caroline Alexander (Bloomberg News) note the White House statment and note Nouri al-Maliki, thug of the occupation, issued praise as did Jalal Talabani, President of Iraq. Marc Santora (New York Times) reveals Nouri had need
to praise al-Hakim, "Mr. Hakim's influence could be seen as recently as February, when
a plan by leading politicians to try to oust Mr. Maliki was scuttled because Mr. Hakim
would not offer his support, according to a coming article in The National Interest, a
journal of current affairs, by Kenneth M. Pollack. Mr. Hakim objected because he felt
it would look as if the politicians were trying to overturn the will of the people, Mr.
Pollack reports." The
United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq issued the following:

Baghdad 27 August 2009 -- The Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Iraq (SRSG) Ad Melkert extends his deepest condolences
to the family of His Eminence Abdul Aziz Al Hakim as well as to the Iraqi people.
Mr. Melkert said that with the death of Abdul Aziz Al Hakim, "Iraq lost an
important leader at a critical juncture." He said that the late Abdul Aziz Al Hakim played an important role in helping Iraq stabilize and chart a path from conflict
to reconciliation and the United Nations appreciates the support his eminence extended to it over the past few years.

AP describes "thousands" gathering in Iran for al-Hakim's memorial and quotes various Iranian leaders making statements about al-Hakim's legacy. CNN notes a memorial scheduled in Baghdad for tomorrow and reports of today's memorial in Tehran, "Iraqi and Iranian government officials attended the procession with senior religious figures and some members of the Iraqi parliament." Xinhua reports the following was aired on Iraqi state-TV, "The Iraqi government announced three-day national mourning starting from Thursday for the death of Sayyed Abdul Aziz al-Hakim." Oliver August explains, "His coffin will be driven in an armed convoy from Baghdad across Iraq on its way to the world's largest cemetery in the holy city of Najaf in what will be a highly charged event. The procession will be guarded by thousands of troops and police in view of an upsurge in violence." Memorials go beyond those two countries. Niraj Warikoo (Detroit Free Press) reports that tonight and tomorrow will see memorials in Dearborn Michigan: "Hundreds are expected to attend the services at the Karbalaa center in Dearborn. And many are watching the funeral services in Iran on satellite TV stations, [Iman Husham] Al-Husainy said." And some anticipate that violence levels will rise tomorrow. Today?

McClatchy Newspapers reports 2 Baghdad sticky bombings resulted in twelve people wounded, a Baghdad car bombing claimed the life of 1 civilian and left five more injured, 5 Baghdad roadside bombings resulted in thirteen people left injured, a Mosul roadside bombing claimed the life of 1 police officer and left one more injured while a second Mosul roadside bombing claimed 1 life and left an Iraqi soldier injured. Reuters drops back to Wednesday night to note 2 Baghdad car bombings resulted in twelve people being injured, 2 Baghdad roadside bombing resulted in five people being wounded, a Kirkuk roadside bombing injured two people and 1 police officer was shot dead in Kirkuk

In the US,
Barack Obama's got bad news in the latest Economist/YouGov poll which finds his approval ratings at a record low of 48% and the poll also sought to measure opinions on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars:

The fighting in Afghanistan is nearing the end of its eighth year, while the war in Iraq is six years old. Americans interviewed in this week's poll see no end in sight for either war, and think that both will end with America withdrawing without victory. A third of Americans think the US is winning in Iraq, while only 15% say that about Afghanistan. That's even lower than the 18% who thought America was winning the war in Afghanistan last week, before the presidential election there.
Little sets the two wars apart in Americans' minds, but there is one very big difference. Only 31% think America made a mistake getting involved in Afghanistan. But a majority, 55%, say sending troops to Iraq was a mistake.
There are partisan differences on both wars, but they are especially stark when assessing Iraq. A majority of Republicans (60%) say America is winning in Iraq, something just 20% of Democrats think. Most Republicans (62%) expect eventual victory there, more than twice the number of Democrats (24%) who say this. Republicans reject the claim that America made a mistake sending troops to Iraq. Just 16% of Republicans say that, compared with 78% of Democrats.

Iraq Veterans Against the War's Carl Webb posts a review by Louis Proyect of Molly Bingham and Steve Connors' amazing documentary Meeting Resistance:

Meeting Resistance is a film that gives a voice to the shadowy Iraqi resistance
that has fought the world's most powerful imperialist country in history to a standstill. With an economy of means, this documentary accomplishes what all great art strives for, namely the humanisation of its principals. With so much hatred directed against Sunni insurgents, who lack the socialist credentials
of past insurgencies that attracted the solidarity of the Western left, Meeting Resistance takes a giant step forward in making the "enemy's" case.
After watching this powerful film, one will have to agree with British MP and
anti-war activist George Galloway's assessment in a speech given at the
al-Assad Library in Damascus on July 30, 2005: "These poor Iraqis -- ragged people, with their sandals, with their Kalashnikovs, with the lightest and most basic of weapons -- are writing the names of their cities and towns in the
stars, with 145 military operations every day, which has made the country ungovernable by the people who occupy it.
"We don't know who they are, we don't know their names, we never saw their faces, they don't put up photographs of their martyrs, we don't know the names
of their leaders. They are the base of this society. They are the young men and young women who decided, whatever their feelings about the former regime -- some are with, some are against. But they decided, when the foreign invaders came, to defend their country, to defend their honour, to defend their families, their religion, their way of life from a military superpower, which landed
amongst them."
Co-directed by Steve Connors and Molly Bingham, Meeting Resistance allows
a group of insurgents in the al Adhamiya district in Baghdad to explain why
they decided to fight the occupation, how they are organised, and -- perhaps
of the greatest interest -- what kind of backgrounds they have. Among the most interesting revelations is that only a small percentage can be described as Ba'athist "dead-enders", the description that was offered by the Bush gang
early on and that was accepted by some sectors of the left. A political science
professor in Baghdad, the only interviewee who is not actually part of the resistance, estimates that less than 10% are Ba'ath Party activists.

Independent journalist
David Bacon reports on the struggling immigrant community in Alameda at ImmigrationProfBlog:Familes receive food at a food distribution organized every month by Hope for the Heart in Hayward. Many people begin lining up for food the day before, and sleep overnight on the sidewalk in order to make sure they get their food before it runs out. Many families are immigrants from Mexico, and don't have enough money to buy food or pay rent. Food for the program comes from the Alameda County Community Food Bank, and the people distributing the food are all volunteers, organized by local churches. During the food distribution, children of food recipients listen to music, and watch a religious service while their families are waiting.The report is text and visual. David Bacon is noted for his photography and his latest exhibit is "People of the Harvest, Indigenous Mexican Migrants in California." The reception for it takes place tonight at 6:00 pm at the Asian Resource Gallery (310 Eight Street at Harrison, Oakland, CA). The exhibit runs through next month and the gallery's hour are nine in the morning until six in the evening, Monday through Friday. Immigrant Rights News carries the following:People of the Harvest is part of a larger project, Living Under the Trees, that documents the lives of communities of indigenous Mexican farm workers in California, through documentary photographs. The photographs in People of the Harvest were taken in 2009. It's no accident the state of Oaxaca is one of the main starting points for the current stream of Mexican migrants coming to the United States. Extreme poverty encompasses 75 percent of its 3.4 million residents. Thousands of indigenous people leave Oaxaca's hillside villages for the United States every year, not only for economic reasons but also because a repressive political system thwarts the kind of economic development that could lift incomes in the poorest rural areas. Lack of development pushes people off the land.The majority of Oaxacans are indigenous people-that is, they belong to communities and ethnic groups that existed long before Columbus landed in the Caribbean. They speak 23 different languages. "Migration is a necessity, not a choice," explains Romualdo Juan Gutierrez Cortez, a teacher in Santiago Juxtlahuaca, in Oaxaca's rural Mixteca region.In California, indigenous migrants have become the majority of people working in the fields in many areas, whose settlements are dispersed in an indigenous diaspora. This movement of people has created transnational communities, bound together by shared culture and language, and the social organizations people bring with them from place to place. People of the Harvest documents the experiences and conditions of indigenous farm worker communities. It focuses on social movements in indigenous communities and how indigenous culture helps communities survive and enjoy life. The project's purpose is to win public support for policies helping those communities to achieve social and political rights and better economic conditions. The communities documented in this show are locacted in Arvin, Taft, Oxnard and Santa Paula, Santa Maria, Fresno, Greenfield, Watsonville and Marysville. They include Mixtecos, Triquis, Zapotecos, Chatinos and Purepechas. The photographs are digital color images, which focus on the relationship between community residents and their surroundings, and their relations with each other. They present situations of extreme poverty, but they also show people as actors, capable of changing conditions, organizing themselves, and making critical decisions. The project is a partnership between David Bacon, documentary photographer and journalist (The Children of NAFTA, UC Press, 2004, Communities Without Border, Cornell/ILR Press, 2006, and Illegal People - How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants, Beacon Press, 2008), California Rural Legal Assistance, especially its Indigenous Farm Worker Project, and the Binational Front of Indigenous Organizations (FIOB). Special thanks to Rick Mines and the Indigenous Farmworker Study, funded by the California Endowment, who made the documentation in People of the Harvest possible.David Bacon's latest book is Illegal People -- How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants (Beacon Press) which just won the CLR James Award. Bacon is also on KFPA's The Morning Show each Wednesday discussing labor and immigration issues.

cindy sheehan
the los angeles timesliz slycnnthe washington post
ernesto londonothe new york timesmarc santora
james dao
the journal of traumatic stress the new york times
caroline alexanderbloomberg news
david bacon