Friday, November 06, 2009

Economy and music

Friday!!! The weekend! Yea. I celebrated with spicy sushi roll. :D

Okay, this is from Victoria McGrane's "Obama: Economic challenges lie ahead:"

Democrats – headed into an historic health care vote this weekend — got smacked in the face with a 10.2 percent unemployment rate in October, the government reported Friday.
The jobless rate is well above the 9.9 percent that economists expected and breaks the psychological barrier of 10 percent, topping double digits for the first time in 26 years. It's the last headline the Obama administration wanted to see going into the
House healthcare vote, and President Barack Obama quickly took to the Rose Garden to reassure Americans he has a plan to create jobs.

That's Politico and it does have a listen option if it works better for you. Speaking of listening, most of us have listened to Joni Mitchell -- did you know tomorrow was her birthday?

And speaking of artists, LA Times reports Laura Nyro has a shot at being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this go round. She died in 1997 and wasn't inducted while she was alive because the Hall inducts dozens each year but only one or two women and sometimes no women at all. They'll bend the rules for men -- Smokey Robinson was already in as part of a group but they wanted him in as a solo as well so everyone looked the other way on the year requirement and he got waived in. Women don't get that.

Joni Mitchell's is in the Hall and should be. But Carly Simon's not. And people better get that acts like the Bee Gees are getting into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame -- a disco group -- while women are being kept out. we've written about this many times at Third.

I know C.I. was pressuring hard to get more women on the potential list for nominations this year. She was begging, twisting arms and guilting anyone and everyone. There are 13 acts that Nyro has to compete with to get in and, get this, one of the acts is LL Cool Jay. A rapper. A faded rapper. (He's a good actor, I enjoy him in movies and on TV.) It's not the Rap Hall of Fame, it's the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Laura Nyro's dead.

They didn't care enough about her while she was alive to induct her even though she was eligible. And I get the feeling that's going to happen to Carly Simon, Stevie Nicks, Linda Ronstadt and a whole lot of other women. They'll get in after they're dead.

It's really disgusting and it's past time that the Hall was really called out. I have a feeling when the nominees are announced, there's a good chance that it will be this year.

If you're new to the topic:

Third Estate Sunday Review: Cock Rock Hall of Fame
Sep 21, 2008 ... The Third Estate Sunday Review focuses on politics and culture. We're an online magazine. We don't play nice and we don't kiss butt. - Cached - Similar
Third Estate Sunday Review: Sexism and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Sep 28, 2008 ... The Third Estate Sunday Review focuses on politics and culture. ... As we noted last week in "Cock Rock Hall of Fame," there are 159 - Cached - Similar
Hide more results from
Third Estate Sunday Review: Musical facts are still facts
The Third Estate Sunday Review focuses on politics and culture. ... September 21st's "Cock Rock Hall of Fame" included this paragraph: - Cached - Similar
Third Estate Sunday Review: The winner and top ten runner ups
The Third Estate Sunday Review focuses on politics and culture. ... "Cock Rock Hall of Fame" and its follow up ("Sexism and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame") - Cached - Similar

I think those are the three articles we wrote on the topic.

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

Friday, November 6, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, Democratic senators hear how KBR's greed put everyone in Iraq at risk, some gas bags shouldn't be on radio, the Fort Hood shooting, and more.

Rick Lamberth: As a LOGCAP [Logistics Civil Augmentation Program] Operations Manager, it was my duty to report to KBR management when the company was in violation of guidelines and the contract Statement of Work. I witnessed burn pit violations on a weekly basis. When I tried to report violations, I was told by the head of KBR's Health Safety and Environment division to shut up and keep it to myself. At one point, KBR management threatened to sue me for slander if I spoke out about these violations.
Rick Lamberth was in Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan. In addition to being an Iraq War veteran, he worked for KBR and saw "KBR employees dump nuclear, biological, chemical decontamination materials and bio-medical waste, plastics, oil and tires into burn pits" thereby exposing many US and Iraqi citizens to health risks. Rick Lamberth, for example, now has a series of respiratory problems. Last week,
Kelly Kennedy (Army Times) reported, "An open-air 'burn pit' at the largest U.S. base in Iraq may have exposed tens of thousands of troops, contractors and Iraqis to cancer-causing dioxins, poisons such as arsenic and carbon monoxide, and hazardous medical waste, documentation gathered by Military Times shows." Kelly was reporting on Joint Base Balad. L. Russel Keith worked for KBR at Joint Base Balad (March 2006 to July 2007) and he explains, "While I was stationed at Balad, I experienced the effects of the massive burn pit that burned 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The ten-acre pit was located in the northwest corner of the base. An acrid, dark black smoke from the pit would accumulate and hang low over the base for weeks at a time. Every spot on the base was touched by smoke from the pit; everyone who served at the base was exposed to the smoke. It was almost impossible to escape, even in our living units."

Rick Lamberth and L. Russell Keith were two of the four witnesses appearing before the Democratic Policy Committee today, for a hearing into burn pits led by Committee Chair Byron Dorgan. Also appearing as witnesses were Lt Col Darrin Curtis and Dr. Anthony Szema. At the start of the hearing, Chair Dorgan explained, "This is the twenty-first in a long series of hearings that we have held in the Policy Committee to examine contracting waste and abuse in Iraq and Afghanistan. A number of these hearings have focused on substantial abuse which have put out troops lives in danger. Some focused just on waste and some on fraud. Today we're going to have a discussion and have a hearing on how, as early as 2002, US military installations in Iraq and Afghanistan began relying on open-air burn pits -- disposing of waste materials in a very dangerous manner. And those burn pits included materials such as hazardous waste, medical waste, virtually all of the waste without segregation of the waste, put in burn pits. We'll hear how there were dire health warnings by Air Force officials about the dangers of burn pit smoke, the toxicity of that smoke, the danger for human health. We'll hear how the Department of Defense regulations in place said that burn pits should be used only in short-term emergency situations -- regulations that have now been codified. And we will hear how, despite all the warnings and all the regulations, the Army and the contractor in charge of this waste disposal, Kellogg Brown & Root, made frequent and unnecessary use of these burn pits and exposed thousands of US troops to toxic smoke."

That's from Chair Dorgan's opening remarks and you can [PDF format hearing warning]
click here to read his prepared remarks (the above is what was stated which differs slightly from the prepared remarks). You can also visit the Democratic Policy Committee's home page for more information and streaming video of today's hearing should be up there as well. (If it's not up already, it will be up by Monday.)

The burn pit issue was dismissed and ignored for many years -- despite the fact that the rules weren't being followed.
On October 28, 2009, US House Rep Tim Bishop's office released a statement noting: "Today, President [Barack] Obama singed into law the National Defense Authorization Act 9H.R. 2647), which includes important provisions authored by Congressman Tim Bishop (NY-1) to protect the thousands of troops exposed to toxic, open burn pits used in Iraq and Afghanistan. These provisions were based on Bishop's legislation, the Military Personnel War Zone Toxic Exposure Prevention Act, (HR 2419) introduced with Rep. Carol Shea-Porter on May 14, 2009." Hopefully, that signing will result in the press paying a bit more attention to the issue and not, as some have done, treat it as a dispute between political parties -- which is how it was too often treated by the press during the Bush years, with a lot of hedging and a lot of 'some say' type 'reporting.' December 20, 2006, Lt Col Darrin Curtis wrote a memo entitled "Burn Pit Health Hazards" [PDF format warning, click here].

Chair Byron Dorgan: Mr. Curtis, why did you decide to write the 2006 memorandum? And did anyone else at that point share your concerns about the health impact of burn pits?

Lt Col Darrin Curtis: Yes, Senator, they did. The Chief of Air Space Medicine had the same concerns I did. The memo was initially written so that we could expedite the installation of the incinerators. From my understanding, there were spending limits of monies with health issues and not health issues so I wanted to write the report to show that there are health issues associated with burn pits so that we could hopefully accelerate the installation of the incinerators.

Chair Byron Dorgan: Of the type of burn pit you saw in Iraq in 2006 -- that's some while after the war began and infrastructure had been created and so on except without incinerators -- if something of that nature were occurring in a neighborhood here in Washington DC or any American city, what are the consequences to them?

Lt Col Darrin Curtis: At least fines and possibly jail.
Chair Byron Dorgan: Because?

Lt Col Darrin Curtis: Of the regulations that are out there today.

Chair Byron Dorgan: Because it's a serious risk to human health?

Lt Col Darrin Curtis: Yes, sir.

Chair Byron Dorgan: You say that when you arrived in Iraq an inspector for the US Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine -- which is CHPPM -- told you that the Balad burn pit was the worst environmental site that he has seen and that included the ten years he had performed environmental clean up for the Army and Defense's Logistic Agency. And yet in your testimony, you also say that CHPPM has done this study and says adverse health risks are unlikely. So you're talking about an inspector from CHPPM that says 'this is the worst I've seen' and then a report comes out later from CHPPM that says: "Adverse health risks are unlikely. Long-term health effects are not expected to occur from breathing the smoke." Contradiction there and why?

Lt Col Darrin Curtis: I think any organization, you're going to have people with differences of opinion. But at CHPPM, I'm sure that was the same-same outcome there. Cause I don't know if that individual --

Chair Byron Dorgan: (Overlapping) Do you think that CHPPM -- do you think CHPPM assessment that's been relied on now is just wrong?

Lt Col Darrin Curtis: (Overlapping) I think -- I think -- Senator, I think the hard line that there is no health effects is a -- is a very strong comment that we don't have the data to say. Do we have the data to say that it is a health risk? I don't think we have that either. But I do not think we have the data to say there is no health risk.
Chair Byron Dorgan: You are a bio-environmental engineer what is -- what is your own opinion? Without testing or data, you saw the burn pits, you were there, you hear the testimony of what went in the burn pits, you hear Dr. Szema's assessment. What's your assessment?

Lt Col Darrin Curtis: I think we're going to look at a lot of sick people later on.

"I think we're going to look at a lot of sick people later on." And why, the bigger why? Why would anyone -- KBR or anyone -- put people at risk? Rick Lamberth explained during the hearing, "KBR was able to get away with this because the Army never enforced the applicable standards. KBR's Project Controls Department also kept their information hidden. During one visit by a representative from DCMA. I heard someone from Project Controls state that it was her job to keep DCMA away from the books during the inspection. KBR management would brag that they could get away with doing anything they wanted because the army could not function without them. KBR figured that even if they did get caught, they had already made more than enough money to pay any fines and still make a profit."

"Brag that they could get away with doing anything." "Even if they did get caught, they had already made more than enough money to pay any fines and still make a profit." Chair Dorgan noted that one of his greatest disappointments is that there is not "a Truman type committee with subpoena powers" currently "perhaps some day we'll get that." Senator Tom Udall agreed with Dorgan that a Truman type committee was needed. Rick Lamberth told Senator Udall that he did an analysis about how the burn pits could be shifted down wind.

Senator Tom Udall: They didn't want to do that?

Rick Lamberth: Correct, sir.

Senator Tom Udall: Cost them too much?

Rick Lamberth: Correct, sir.

Senator Jon Tester spoke of how Lamberth was told by KBR to keep quiet about violations "because that clean up was future business." He wondered, "How many burn pits there were in Iraq?" L. Russell Keith stated Balad was the biggest one (and the one he was familiar with), that it was ten acres, that "a lot of parts of it were below ground [. . .] there were a lot of things in it that wouldn't burn [. . .] old vehicles [. . .] transit buses". Senator Blanche Lincoln noted that the burn pits continue in Iraq and Afghanistan and we'll include this exchange.

Senator Blanche Lincoln: The comment made about the fact that these [burn pits] were used because there's potential future business, is it the typical business of KBR and others for hazardous waste clean up?

Rick Lamberth: What do you mean, ma'am, by the -- ?

Senator Blanche Lincoln: I mean if there's potential business -- what you're creating? It sounds like what we're creating, to what many of us have lived through up here, which are Super Fund sites and hazardous waste clean up. Is that a business that the current contractors actually have or can facilitate?

Rick Lamberth: Yes, ma'am. They have -- it's currently a contract line item number in the master statement of work. And what they'll do, they don't have the expertise in how, so they'll turn around and they'll contract it out. When I left July 2009, I left Baghdad, they had subcontracted that out to [**]. Yet when you talk to them, they act like they're resolved of all responsibility. And I tell them: "Negative, you are still responsible, you being the prime contractor, you're still responsible for compliance of EPA and DOD regulations and Defense Logistic Agencies regulations which is really in charge of DoD's Hazmat Defense Logistic Agency and they would want to deny that. They say 'No, [**] is doing that now.' I say 'No, you're still, you being the prime, you're still responsible.'

Senator Blanche Lincoln: Well of course that's a whole different issue I suppose in terms of spending our US tax payer dollars to clean up things that the same contractor actually created.

First, "[**]"? Epilogue or Echologue was what Lamberth was saying. I have no idea on subcontractors or whether the subcontractor would get 'fancy' with the name and spell it a different way. So we're just noting it as "[**]" Second, Lincoln went on to note that even more important than the dollars being wasted are the people who've been harmed by exposure.
BURN PITS Action Center is a resource and a clearing house of information. Among those sharing their experiences is "Debby:"

I arrived at Joint Base Balad, formerly known as Camp Anaconda in March 2008, and needless to say we all have the same issues as to what we smelled and what we saw. I have been home 11 months now and I want to make a statement about this issue. First off keep a good record of how your feeling. You may not notice anything at first. I started getting shortness of breath and just thought that it was the humidity in our air here in Indiana. I got a respiratory infection once I was home that turned into bronchitis. It took me OVER a month to clear that up. I had a cough from day one from leaving Iraq, and could not understand this or why I was doing this? Blamed it on the weather. My cough got so bad I contacted the VA and said this is not normal and I want to have my lungs tested...pulmonary function test was ordered...I failed it and found out I have COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). I now use an inhaler and my breathing is worse at night, because I wheeze now. I came home at the end of November by March I had another issue, my colon. I was 47 at the time and had to do a colonoscopy 3 years earlier than I should have. Found out I had polyps and a tear in my colon. It is now November and I cannot seem to understand why I have still a colon issue. Now my esophagus is a problem. I had another cold back a few months ago and lost my voice for 3 full weeks. I had bronchitis again. Could not shake it. I am scheduled for another colon scope since I have this issue and also to have my throat checked out. My esophagus is closing up and I may have to have it stretched back out. NO ONE in my family has ever had an issue like this. I blame this on the effects of the burn pit. My memory and forgetfulness is a REAL problem for me. I can't seem to remember anything. So I guess anyone's secrets are safe with me I would forget easily after a few days. I have other issues I just wanted to list a few. Take photos of the burn pits for your own personal records they would prove very helpful later on. Keep researching all that you can on this issue, there are long lists of what soldiers are reporting that is wrong with them. I have to write mine down or I will forget. Not that a person can but my memory won't allow me anymore to recall things like I once did. Life if going to be challenging and many of us may not live a full life due to our new found health issue. But from one soldier to all you others we fought a good battle and we should keep each other in our prayers. God Bless you all and keep up the good fight and take care of your health.

Back to the hearing, Dr. Szema compared what is being seen to the conditions of fire fighters who were at Ground Zero following 9-11. He noted that he sees young people whom he shouldn't be seeing including ones with asthma -- when asthma would prevent them from being inducted into the military and that even if a few managed to skirt by in the screening process, the rates of asthma shouldn't be as high as it is. We'll note this exchange from early in the hearing.

Chair Byron Dorgan: Dr. Szema, what's your assessment of what you've heard? You've not been in Iraq, you've not seen the burn pits, you've heard them described, you heard Mr. Lambert and Mr. Keith describe what was thrown into the burn pits. What's your assessment of what we might see as a result of this? Is this a potentially serious threat to human health of those who were exposed?

Dr. Szema: Originally, I didn't even know what a burn pit was. So we thought that the higher asthma rates that we were seeing anecdotally were related to the shamal, the dust storms in Iraq, and possibly exposure to inhalational particles of improvised explosive devices. And then we wrote -- we did our study indicating that the rates of asthma were twice that if you were an Iraq deployed versus stateside deployed. And only recently when I learned about the burn pits, I knew that that could potentially, plausibly be one of the explanations. We-we actually did have PM 2.5 data from CHPPM in one of our presentations at the American Thoracic Society Conference and the PM 2.5 levels were in the thousands. Just for an example, in comparison, the Environmental Protection Agency standards in the United States is 35 micrograms per cubic meter. If you're over 35 in the United States, that's air pollution and they were measuring it in the thousands and that's irrespective of what's actually the concentration so, in and of itself, there were clearly particles in the air. That was not included in the 2008 report, that was part of our poster presentation. So my concern is -- what -- you're not supposed to be burning anything. Even if you're burning wood in cooking, we know that in third world countries if we reduce the use of cook stoves and fires, we can reduce respiratory mortality by millions of people worldwide. And, in fact, the American Thoracic Society is coming out with a position statement that even in the United States, if we roll back the EPA pollution standards a little bit, we will save millions of lives in the United States from air pollution. So clearly, I think, when you have uncontrolled burns, there will be a litany of health effects

One more time, Rick Lamberth's statements on how greed was able to trump humanity, "KBR was able to get away with this because the Army never enforced the applicable standards. KBR's Project Controls Department also kept their information hidden. During one visit by a representative from DCMA. I heard someone from Project Controls state that it was her job to keep DCMA away from the books during the inspection. KBR Management would brag that they could get away with doing anything they wanted because the army could not function without them. KBR figured that even if they did get caught, they had already made more than enough money to pay any fines and still make a profit."

Iraq was addressed on NPR's
The Diane Rehm Show today during the second hour. Diane's guest host Katty Kay was joined by James Kitfield (National Journal), Paul Richter (Los Angeles Times) and Farah Stockman (Boston Globe).

Katty Kay: On the one hand we had the Iraqi Parliament which failed again this week to approve a law regulating its January election. Uh, Paul, do you think this election is going to take place?

Paul Richter: It sounds like it could be delayed but I notice some Iraqi legislators who are telling the press 'Well maybe it will only be delayed slightly. On the other hand, they've been debating this election law for some time and it has serious consequences for the US if they don't get this settled because, of course, the White House and the Pentagon are thinking about drawing-down those troops further. We need more in Afghanistan probably.

Katty Kay: And at the same time, we have Iraq signing deals to develop its oil fields. There was news this morning in the Washington Post [Ernesto Londono and Qais Mizher's "
Exxon-Shell Consortium signs deal to develop Iraqi oil field"] that Exxon and Shell are going to sign a deal with the Iraqi Oil Ministry as well. So sort of some good news on the economic front, perahps James?

James Kitfield: Some good news but you know the prob -- and why we're so in getting these elections behind Iraq -- is so they can then get back to the major issue of reconcilation that are outstanding and one is an oil law. You know, the K- you know, the Kurds are already signing deals, you know, independently of the central government. That's a potential fault line for divisions in Iraq.

Katty Kay: And, of course, the hitch behind signing the current election law is over --

James Kitfield: Kirkuk.

Katty Kay: Kirkuk which is a big oil --

James Kitfield: Right! There is concern among -- ever since Saddam has been ousted -- he had flooded Arabs into Kirkuk area. Since he's been ousted, a lot of the Kurds have been pushing more people into Kirkuk. There's concerns in that tension between the Arabs and the Kurds that the election will sort of uh give one side an advantage over the other and so that's been the sticking point. But I'll take Paul's point a little further, I suspect there's going to be a surge of some tens of thousands of troops to Afghanistan even though Obama hasn't announced that yet. I [su]spect he will. For that to happen, it really -- we have a very aggressive withdrawal from Iraq [. . .]

Okay, point. James Kitfield? Doesn't belong on radio. Potential? "POOOOOO -- tential!" As he stumbles and fumbles his damn words. It's difficult to listen to him. Forget what he's offering (which isn't informed), he can't speak a complete sentence without changing in the middle of it -- usually several times. Do they not get how hard on the ears this is? It's not just the uh-uh (and he does it far more than I note), that's fine. Stumble. Gather your thoughts. But speak the English language. Deciding mid-word that you want a different one? Over and over? I remember oral exams in grad school where highly nervous people came off more assured than Kitfield. It isn't pleasant to listen to and it doesn't make for good radio.

Now that's (A). (B)? Know your damn facts. He maintains (we're not including that section) there are 115,000 troops in Iraq currently. What? 128,000 was August 31st and that's the GAO's estimate that they provided on Monday. Unless someone's done a head count since then, an organization or an individual, that's your number. A friend in the brass in Iraq says the number is "about 123,000" right now. About. The problem with not going with the known is that an "about" X suddenly gets lowered by a James Kitfield. He pimped 115,000 US troops in Iraq. Pimped it today. On NPR and was not corrected. A gas bag with a lot of opinions and few facts is always a problem.

Katty Kay: Give us a quick update, Farah, on the security situation in Baghdad following, of course, last week's truck bombing. Have you heard anything on how security's been changed or boosted? Have they reinstated some of the barriers, for example, in the streets in the Green Zone?

Farah Stockman: I just think that we're hearing a lot of reports about bombings and it's not looking good and it's not looking good -- it's not looking good. But I think James might have a better on that than I do.

Oh, Farah. How you failed the listeners. Instead they got to hear James stumble around yet again and, in the process, pronounce "domestic" three different ways. That's what happens when you don't committ to a word until your half-way done speaking it. Get him off the radio. There's no excuse for this. People have been far too nice to him for far too long. It's not that he's an idiot -- he is one -- it's that he sounds like an idiot on the radio. If it's too difficult for him to speak, don't bring him on the radio. And grasp that as difficult as it is for him to figure out which words to randomnly string together, it's that much harder for the audience to have to listen to him. There's no excuse for that.


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Mosul roadside bombing which claimed the life of 1 police officer and a second one which left five people wounded.


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 1 Sahwa ("Awakening" or "Sons Of Iraq") shot dead last night in Kirkuk. Wang Guanqun (Xinua) reports an attack on a barber shop in al-Sa'adiya in which 1 barber was shot dead and another person was wounded.


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 1 corpse (Peshmerga officer) discovered in Kirkuk last night.

Turning to the US, Frances and Jack Barrios were last noted in the
October 30th snapshot. Efforts have been taking place to deport Frances Barrios, the wife of Iraq War veteran Jack Barrios and the mother of their two children. Her 'crime'? Coming to the United States at six-years-old. Teresa Watanabe (Los Angeles Times) reports that yesterday the couple learned she was granted "humanitarian parole" and will be able to apply for a green card and remain in the country. Tony Valdez (Los Angeles' Fox 11 -- link has text and video) was present when Frances Barrios received the news:Tony Valdez: Frances Barrios looked mystified and anxious about her attorneys visit to her Van Nuys apartment in the evening. She usually went to Jessica Dominguez' office whenever there was a development in her bid to stay in the US with her husband and her children. What the attorney told her husband, an Iraq War veteran, was completely unexpected.Jessica Dominguez: The Citizenship and Immigration Services has granted your wife parole which means you can now give her legal permanent resident status without her having to go back to Guatemala.

Yesterday in Texas, there was an attack on Fort Hood.
Mary Pat Flaherty, William Wan and Christian Davenport (Washington Post) report that the suspect is US Army Maj Nidal M. Hasan, a 39-year-old psychiatrist whose aunt said he had endured mocking and verbal abuse over the years for being a Muslim and she states that he attempted to get out of the military. Peter Slevin (Washington Post) reported 12 people were killed at the base with thrity-one more left injured. The death toll has risen to at least 13. Julian E. Barnes, Josh Meyer and Kat Linthicum (Los Angeles Times) explain, "Ft. Hood, which sprawls across 339 square miles of central Texas hill country, is the world's largest military installation. It supports two full armored divisions -- the 1st Cavalry Division and the 4th Infantry Division -- and is home to more than 70,000 soldiers, civilian workers and family members. It is the largest single employer in Texas." Ann Scott Tyson (Washington Post) notes, "This year, 117 active-duty Army soldiers were reported to have committed suicide, with 81 of those cases confirmed -- up from 103 suicides during the same period last year. Ten suicides have been reported at Fort Hood this year; more than 75 of its personnel have committed suicide since 2003. Fort Hood's high number of suicides is also linked to the fact that it is the Army's largest base, with more than 53,000 soldiers." Dahr Jamail adds:
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Fort Hood, located in central Texas, is the largest US military base in the world and contains up to 50,000 soldiers. It is one of the most heavily deployed bases to both Iraq and Afghanistan. In fact, the shooter himself was facing an impending deployment to Iraq. The soldier says that the mood on the base is "very grim," and that even before this incident, troop morale has been very low. "I'd say it's at an all-time low - mostly because of Afghanistan now," he explained. "Nobody knows why we are at either place, and I believe the troops need to know why they are there, or we should pull out, and this is a unanimous feeling, even for folks who are pro-war." In a strikingly similar incident on May 11, 2009, a US soldier gunned down five fellow soldiers at a stress-counseling center at a US base in Baghdad. Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the US military's Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters at a news conference at the Pentagon that the shootings occurred in a place where "individuals were seeking help." "It does speak to me, though, about the need for us to redouble our efforts, the concern in terms of dealing with the stress," Admiral Mullen said. "It also speaks to the issue of multiple deployments." Commenting on that incident in nearly parallel terms, US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said that the Pentagon needs to redouble its efforts to relieve stress caused by repeated deployments in war zones; stress that is further exacerbated by limited time at home in between deployments.
Nancy A. Youssef (McClatchy Newspapers) informs the suspect was supposed to deploy to Afghanistan. Kelly Gooch (Tyler Morning Telegraph) reports on some families reactions as they attempted to find out the status on their loved ones at Fort Hood:Spc. Shawntae Hall, 22, is one of the soldiers stationed at the Army base.Her mother, Norma Tompkins, of Tyler, said she called Ms. Hall Thursday and left a message on her cell phone. She also tried all of her daughter's friends and a fellow military mother. "I kind of lost it for a few minutes. When I heard from her it was the biggest relief of my life," she said. During the short phone conversation, Mrs. Tompkins said Ms. Hall told her officials were about to lock down the base and she would not be able to use a cell phone or the Internet. Ann Davies (The Age) notes): that a female police officer "arrived and shot Hasan several times before he went down. She was wounded in the process." That was Sgt Kimberly Munley. Matthew Schofield (Kansas City Star) reports, "Muley also took three bullets, one in each thigh and one in a wrist. By all accounts, she was swift, decisive, and probably saved lives. It was a lucky thing she happened to be nearby when the emergency call came in. She found Hasan four minutes after the first 911 call." In addition, on NBC's Today Show this morning, Matt Lauer spoke with Lt Gen Robert Cone who praised Amber Bahr who assisted other soldiers including carrying one, Grant Moxon, away from the crime scene despite the fact that she herself had been shot: "I think most notable about her is the fact that despite the fact she was shot, she assisted in helping other soldiers, put a tourniquet on a solider, carried him out to medical care -- and only after she had taken care of others did she realize that she herself had been shot." Moni Basu (CNN -- link has text and several videos as well) offers, "Soldiers were dragging bodies away from the shooter. They snatched tablecloths off tables, cut up their own sage-green digital combat uniforms, even their tan undershirts, and turned them into tourniquets and pressure bandages. Everyone tried to render CPR and medical aid. Some were medical personnel. Others were simply friends helping friends." Among the 13 who lost their lives is Francheska Velez. Peter Slevin (Washington Post) reports the 21-year-old Iraq War veteran was set to begin maternity leave. Her cousin Jennifer Arzuaga tells CBS' Derrick Blakley, "She was a very wonderful person, very brave, very kind hearted. She didn't deserve to lose her life. She had a lot to live for." CBS reports Michael Pearson, who was set to deploy to Iraq, died while in surgery after being shot three times and quotes his mother Sheryll Pearson stating, "He was the best son in the whole world; good student, good friend, loyal, hardworker. He was my best friend. I was just shocked because I was getting ready for him, I was preparing for him to come home for Christmas and I knew he would probably be deployed in January and this was just amazing to me, it just doesn't seem real to me." Mark Memmott (NPR) reports on this morning's press briefing at Fort Hood:7:37 a.m. ET: The suspect's condition is "stable." Why was it originally said by Army personnel that suspect Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan was dead? "Confusion," says the briefer, Col. John Rossi.7:39 a.m. ET: One civilian was killed. The other fatally wounded victims were military personnel, Col. John Rossi says.7:40 a.m. ET: The soldiers at the scene were not armed. The "first responder" who wounded the suspect was a female police officer. She was wounded and is now in stable condition.

TV notes,
NOW on PBS begins airing on most PBS stations tonight (check local listings) and their focus this week is:Only one year after a historic election rerouted the course of America's political culture, do the 2009 election results show momentum swinging in the opposite direction?This week, NOW's David Brancaccio talks to political author and columnist David Sirota about populist anger, the Obama administration's successes and failures, and how this week's election results foreshadow the state of politics in 2010.Also airing tonight on many PBS stations, Bill Moyers Journal offers a veterans day special. Washington Week finds Gwen sitting around the table with James Barnes (National Journal), Ceci Connolly (Washington Post), John Harris (Politico) and Martha Raddatz (ABC News). Meanwhile Bonnie Erbe will sit down with Sam Bennett, Karen Czarnecki, Cari Dominguez and Avis Jones-DeWeever to discuss the week's events on PBS' To The Contrary. Check local listings, on many stations, it begins airing tonight. And turning to broadcast TV, Sunday CBS' 60 Minutes offers:
Cyber WarCould foreign hackers get into the computer systems that run crucial elements of the world's infrastructure, such as the power grids, water works or even a nation's military arsenal, to create havoc? They already have. Steve Kroft reports.
Andre AgassiKatie Couric interviews the tennis champion about his drug use, the depression that made him use methamphetamine and other aspects of his personal life and tennis career in his first interview about his upcoming book. (This is a double-length segment).
60 Minutes, this Sunday, Nov. 8, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

kelly kennedy
nprthe diane rehm show
the washington postqais mizherernesto londono
mcclatchy newspaperssahar issa
the los angeles timesteresa watanabe
ann scott tyson mary pat flaherty william wan christian davenport peter slevin julian e. barnes josh meyer kate linthicum dahr jamail
ann daviescnnmoni basu
nancy a. youssef
matthew schofieldnprmark memmott
60 minutescbs newspbsto the contrarybonnie erbe

Thursday, November 05, 2009

IVAW, the elections

Thursday. Almost the weekend and we'll start off with some news out of Texas. There was a shooting at Fort Hood today. This is from Iraq Veterans Against the War: Recieve IVAW txt
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So that's on the Fort Hood shooting. Dropping back to Tuesday's election results, this is from Manu Raju and Jonathan Allen (and at Politico so you can listen to it if you'd prefer):

While the White House and party leaders are urging calm, Democratic incumbents from red states and Republican-leaning districts are anything but; Tuesday's statehouse defeats have left them acutely aware that their votes on health care reform and other major Obama initiatives could be career-enders in 2010 or beyond.

“I should be nervous,” said Rep. Parker Griffith, a freshman Democrat from Huntsville, Ala.

Griffith said the Democratic rank and file is “very, very sensitive” to the fact that issues being pushed by party leaders “have the potential to cost some of our front-line members their seats.”

House Democrats, forced to take a tough vote on a controversial cap-and-trade climate change bill in June, may have to vote as earlier as this weekend on the even more controversial health care bill. Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her leadership team have struggled to get moderates on board for that vote, and Tuesday's results won't make the task any easier.

And that's the reality. And Dems who grasp it will be better off in the 2010 elections than those who don't. That's it for me tonight. Not much, I know. But I'm tired. Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Thursday, November 5, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, no election law continues, Nouri's attacks on the press continues, a US House Armed Services subcomittee's lack of interest in Iraq continues, and, of course, the war itself continues.

Earlier today Qassim Abdul-Zahra (AP) reports that Parliament finished today's session (Thursday's session) "without agreeing" to any election law. Nothing has been passed. Xiong Tong (Xinhua) reveals, "The Council of Representatives postponed the voting on the elections law to Saturday after the lawmakers agreed on a proposal submitted by the parliament's legal committee." Warren P. Stroble (McClatchy Newspapers) adds, "The standoff is jeopardizing plans for national elections in mid-January, as well as the timetable for an orderly drawdown of the 120,000 U.S. troops here, even as President Barack Obama weighs sending tens of thousands more soldiers and Marines to Afghanistan." I believe the only known count was given by the GAO Monday and that was 128,000. Considering that the press has been lazy asses for months now and tossed around the 120,000 INACCURATELY you'd think now that the GAO has presented a hard number, they'd get off their candy asses and try using the correct number. In addition, there's no "drawdown of the 120,000" -- the White House and press ran with 50,000 since the November 2008 election and we stated here the number would be 70,000. The number the White House uses now is 70,000. Gina Chon (Wall St. Journal) reports, "Lawmakers said they would meet again on Saturday, but big differences over the legislation remained. After a meeting Thursday evening, the country's election commission decided it would wait until Saturday to make a final decision on whether the polls should be delayed, commission chairman Faraj al-Haideri said. He added that even if a law is passed on Saturday, the commission could still recommend that the elections be delayed depending on which voting system the parliament ends up choosing." Oliver August (Times of London) explains that the Iraqi Constitution mandates the elections be held no later than January 31st and, in addition "[a]n important Shia religious holiday in early February makes it difficult to push back the poll by only a few weeks." Timothy Williams and Sa'ad Izzi (New York Times) report, "Hamdia al-Hussaini, a member of the Independent High Electoral Commission, the government agency that organizes elections here, said she would wait until Parliament met on Sunday to decide whether to postpone the election. Earlier in the week, Faraj al-Haideri, the head of the electoral commission, warned that if a law was not passed by Thursday, he would recommend a delay because there would be insufficient time to print ballots and perform other prepatory work." Sammy Ketz (AFP) quotes election commission head Faraj al-Haidari stating, "We can no longer organise elections on January 16 -- that would have been difficult even if we had received the law today. Whether they retain the old electoral law, amend it or adopt an entirely new one is a matter for members of parliament but we are the ones who will have to implement their decisions according to the timetable. We hope that MPs will resolve their dilemma but we are not going to sacrifice international norms and criteria -- we're obliged to respect the rules so that these elections are transparent." Iraqi MP Ayad Jamal Aldin wrote a letter to the editors of the Guardian on the issue of the elections:

I have written to the head of the UN expressing concern over the possibility of "free and fair" elections taking place in Iraq next January. Repeating the much-publicised vote-rigging seen in Afghanistan, since the last national Iraqi election in 2005, political factions have placed supporters on the Iraqi Electoral Commission to assist them in manipulating the result in the upcoming election. This self-interested action must be defused now, and I am calling on the UN to replace Iraq's Electoral Commission with fresh faces, unaligned and unbeholden to the factions in Baghdad. This could take place immediately, with no disruption to the political process, and would give the best possible chance of a fair vote in January.
A free, fair and properly supervised election in January is absolutely vital for our country's young democracy and the wider region. As has been witnessed in Afghanistan, failure to ensure a free vote is too damaging to imagine.

Ayad Jamal Aldin is running for re-election and promises, at his website, "A better life for Iraqi families" via three steps: "1 million new jobs, especially for our young, Make the electricity system work within 2 years, Major upgrades to deliver running water."

While the election's at a stand-still, the greed factor keeps corporations lusting Iraqi oil. David Gauvey Herbert (National Journal) notes the foreign monies being thrown at Iraqi oil in a long thing piece whose observations include: "Even with more investment, Iraq still doesn't have enough engineers or institutional experience. While Saudi Arabia has half a century of oil expertise under its belt, brain-drain robbed Iraq of plenty of talent under Saddam Hussein and scared off more talent during the turbulent aftermath of the 2003 invasion." This morning AFP reported that the Iraqi Oil Ministry announced today the awarding of a contract to Exxon Mobil for West Qurna 1 field: "West Qurna 1 currently produces about 279,000 bpd and has reserves of around 8.5 billion barrels, according to oil ministry figures." Liz Sly (Los Angeles Times) observes, "Major oil companies have been eyeing Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, but the Iraqi government has acted slowly to encourage them. That changed earlier this year as falling oil prices and lagging exports put a squeeze on the national budget. But the June auction fizzled after it emerged that Iraq wasn't willing to pay the fees demanded by the oil companies." Ernesto Londono and Qais Mizher (Washington Post) note the next auction is scheduled for December and that today's contract and the BP-CNPC one indicate "that foreign companies that initially balked at the terms the ministry offered at a public auction in June now think the prospect of eventually tapping into Iraq's vast oil reserves outweighs the risks." Away from the big dollar figures tossed around -- 'oh, so impressive' -- what's it like? Owen Fay (Al Jazeera) investigates (link is video, transcript to video follows):

Owen Fay: Children play on a street filled with sewage, live in homes surrounded by rubbish and grow up in villages displaying all of the signs of abject poverty. This is southern Iraq, just outside Basra and, by any measure, one of the wealthiest pieces of land on earth. Iraq has the world's third largest reserves of oil and the bulk of it is located right here. The government in Baghdad is in the middle of signing a series of deals with major oil companies from around the world worth billions and billions of dollars but people here have seen none of it.

Female Resident of Basra: We have not benefited from anything, we have nothing to show for it at all.

Own Fay: Instead, what they do have is widespread unemployment, intermittent electricity and wells filled with septic water.

Male Resident of Basra: Is this Iraq? This is an oil rich country? It is true that there is security now and that's much improved. Security is there but what's the use of that? It is true this is an oil country but as you can see can anyone live in this sewage water?

Owen Fay: Local government officials are circumspect about the major new deals being announced in Baghdad. They say they're not opposed to the oil companies coming here but they do have conditions.

Jabaar Amin (Head of Basra Provincial Council): If the contracts are beneficial to Iraq, we welcome them. If they subjugate us and take Iraq's oil wealth, we do not.

Owen Fay: Another set of oil auctions is due to take place next month. Big names like Exxon will get a chance to invest billions and right now assurances are being made that one of the conditions for any successful bid will be local and regional investment.

Shiltag Aboud (Governor of Basra): These companies will not only be contributing to the oil sector but will contribute to the economic, cultural and environmental situation in Basra too. They're not just going to be based at the fields far from everyday life. The impact on the city will be felt.

Owen Fay: If that does happen, it will be warmly welcomed but people here say they'll believe it when they see it. For now, they're deeply skeptical because as they look around what they see are international companies far more interested in what lies beneath this land than in the people who have to live on it. Owen Fay, Al Jazeera.

Friday's snapshot noted Nouri's latest attack on the press: "On the latter, Azzaman reports he has 'banned movement by press vehicles with equipment to broadcast live. [. . . ] The order has been issued by the military command of Baghdad operations which specificially denies television broadcasters the right of live coverage'." And it never ends. Martin Chulov (Guardian) reports today that there are "journalists cliaming to have been beaten by security forces and ministers issuing warnings about media coverage" while Farqu Abd al-Qadir, the Communications Minister, is insisting that all broadcast media apply for a $5,000 permit: "Observers say the move appears to have been prompted by official anger at recent coverage of a string of devastating bomb attacks on government ministries, which caused about 250 deaths and seriously eroded the government's security credentials." And the coverage may have hurt installed thug Nouri al-Maliki's chances at re-election. Meanwhile journalist Mohammed Jabar explains he was attempting to report on a bombing but instead was attacked by Iraqi forces who "attacked me with the butts of their rifles. They saw I had all the right badges and knew I was entitled to be there. They beat me till I was unconscious. I am sure they didn't behave like this on their own. It's obvious they have orders to block any coverage of explosions."

Turning to some of today's violence which did get coverage . . .


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing which wounded two people and another one which wounded three people, a Mosul roadside bombing which claimed the life of 1 police officer and wounded three more, a Ramadi sticky bombing which claimed the life of 1 police officer ("in the investigations department") and was followed by a second bombing which claimed 2 lives and wounded seven people, and a Kirkuk "assassination attempt" by roadside bombing on Brig Gen Adnan Khairu.


Reuters notes US and Kurdish forces killed 1 'suspect' and "freed three child hostages".

Today the Oversight and Ivenstigations Subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee held a hearing entitled Iraq and Afghanistan: Perspectives on US Strategy, Part II. It certainly lived up to Part I and, no, that wasn't a good thing. That October 22nd hearing was covered in the October 23rd snapshot and, as we asked then, "Where the hell was Iraq?"

Let's go with a big moment which raised no eyebrows. This is US House Rep Duncan Hunter (elected for the first time last year, fills his father's seat) opening remarks. He supports sending more troops to Afghanistan, just FYI.

Duncan Hunter: We're not at the ground floor of this debate anymore. We'we're kind of talking like we are. And my question, one is, we're over there, we're committed, we're on the 50th floor, so what now? And I don't think that our commanders over there are ignorant of anything you are saying. I think they all -- they all -- Do you think they're ignorant of this? I think that they have heard probably every point of view and-and the State Department involved -- I was stationed in Afghanistan for my third deployment in 2007. I just went back this last weekend, it was fun. The State Department involvement and the civilian and Smart Person involvement now with the military in Afghanistan is unprecedented. Never happened before. It's quintupled since July -- the State Department, US AID personnel. And there's a two-star civilian for every two-star military person there, there's a whole chain of command for the civilian side along with the military side, everybody's confident, they're asking for a troop surge, I mean that's what everybody's asking for. But my question is: So what now then? I mean they -- there's -- we're talking a lot, we're at the 50th floor, not the ground floor anymore. We're over there. We're committed. Dr. Khan might have us pull out but not on the basis that we can't win, on the basis that you don't think we'll stay

Muqtedar Khan: Yes.

Duncan Hunter: Right?

Muqtedar Khan: Yes, exactly.

Duncan Hunter: Okay. So what now. That's-that's all I got. And that's the big . . . What do you recommend if we do want it stable and we do want it so that we can leave in the next two to five years, leave it relatively stable, not abandon it totally and we'll probably leave troops there like we will in Iraq. But so what now?

Excuse me, "and we'll probably leave troops there like we will in Iraq"? I don't disgree with Hunter but there has been a big effort to deny that was planned. That statement should get attention but don't wait for the press to pick it up. The same press that sold you the illegal war on Iraq really isn't interested in that war ever ending -- as long as they don't have to cover it, they're hap-hap-happy.

There's another obvious moment that should be addressed. It's not Iraq related and Kat's grabbing it for her site and will write about it tonight. So let's move over to US House Rep Mike Coffman and whether he was attempting to spit on Jonathon M. Sylvestre's memory or if he was just damn stupid? We'll go with bulb nose being damn stupid -- and possibly the WC Fields like nose was a tip off? Two days ago, DoD announced: "Spc. Jonathon M. Sylvestre, 21, of Colorado Springs, Colo., died Nov. 2 in Kut, Iraq, of injuries sustained from a non-combat related incident. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 10th Field Artillery Regiment, 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Benning, Ga." Does he not matter to Coffman?

Because Coffman supports the continued war on Iraq? No, Coffman probably still supports that continued war, he supported it back when he could actually remember a war was going on there. But Coffman's lost interest in Iraq long, long ago. And it was disgusting to watch him do an exchange where he cited 'recent' deaths in Afghanistan from his home state and he didn't have a damn thing to say about Jonathon M. Sylvestre who, for the record, is Colorado's most recent service member to die in Iraq or Afghanistan. But Coffman wasn't interested in that. It should be noted US House Rep Susan Davis wasn't interested in Iraq either and our state, California, saw two deaths announced this week in Iraq; Lukas C. Hopper of Merced and Christopher M. Cooper of Oceanside.

The subcomittee heard from retired Maj Gen Paul Eaton, Professor Christine Fair (Georgetown), Professor Muqtedar Khan (University of Delaware) and Marin Strmecki (Smith Richardson Foundation). Eaton and Strmecki were aware of the Iraq War as evidenced by their opening remarks. In his opening remarks, Eaton noted speaking to US President Barack Obama over a year ago, being asked what the army wanted and replying, "Senator, we want your Secretary of Agriculture to be at least as interested in the outcome in Afghanistan and Iraq as is your Secretary of Defense." Does anyone get the idea that this interest is present in the Secretary of Agriculture? That's Tom Vilsack. And, just for example, click on this page (US Agricultural website) and note just what's been 'done' (covered) in 2009 compared to 2008. See an increase? No. And click here for archives and you'll see more efforts noted in every year of the Iraq War except 2004 and 2005. So where's the increase?

Wait, you're saying, Barack had all those problems getting qualified people (and a few tax cheats) confirmed, right?

Wrong. Not with Vilsack. He was nominated December 17, 2008 and he was confirmed by the US Senate January 20th -- the day Barack was sworn in as president. Vilsack did his swearing in January 21st. So let's not pretend like Vilsack showed up late. He was there from the first day of this administration.

Now Eaton told that story in his opening remarks. At any point did any member of the Subcommittee ever ask him, "Do you think what you asked for happened or is happening?" No. And no one ever explored it. Remember, it was about Iraq and the hearing, though including Iraq in the title, really wasn't interested in Iraq. Congress can vote, in 2002, some form of authorization or approval for an impending Iraq War they just don't seem able to focus on it while it continues. That seems to be the tricky part and may be why they've become so lousy about providing oversight on it?

(Or for that matter, pulling the plug on it.)

If there's an exception to that it's been the Senate Democratic Policy Committee. Tomorrow there will be another hearing held by them, this one looking into the burn pits:

Chairman Byron Dorgan (D-ND) announced Wednesday the Senate Democratic Policy Committee (DPC) will conduct a congressional oversight hearing on Friday, November 6, to examine the health risks associated with the continued use of open-air burn pits by the U.S. military and contractor KBR in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The hearing is set for 10:00 AM and will be held in Room 628 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington, DC.
Although military guidelines allow the use of burn pits to dispose of waste only in emergency situations, most large U.S. military installations have continued to use burn pits for years, despite growing evidence that exposure to burn pit smoke may be causing an increased incidence of chronic lung diseases, respiratory ailments, neurological disorders and cancer.
Hearing witnesses are expected to testify that plastics, paints, solvents, petroleum products, rubber, and medical waste have been burned in the pits.
The hearing will also examine whether military contractor KBR operated the burn pits in a safe and cost-effective manner.
Witnesses will include the Air Force's former Bioenvironemental Flight Commander at Joint Base Balad, who warned three years ago about health hazards associated with burn pit smoke at the base, two KBR whisteblowers, and a medical expert who will describe the adverse health consequences associated with burn pit smoke inhalation.

Details follow:
WHO: Senators: Byron Dorgan (D-ND), Chairman, and others
Witnesses: Lt. Colonel Darrin Curtis, former Air Force Bioenvironmental Flight Commander at Joint Base Balad; Rick Lamberth, former KBR employee; Russell Keith, former KBR medic; Dr. Anthony Szema, MD, expert on health impact of burn pit smoke.
WHAT: Congressional oversight hearing.
WHERE: Room 628 Dirksen Senate Office Building
WHEN: 10:00 AM, Friday, November 6, 2009
WHY: To examine the health impact of burn pit smoke on U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, whether the Army is providing exposed soldiers and veterans with accurate information about the risks, and whether contractor KBR is safely operating burn pits.

We'll try to cover that hearing in tomorrow's snapshot (but we're juggling our schedule because we only just learned of it). In other oversight news, Josh Rogin's "Exclusive: Did the U.S. government buy favorable coverage of Iraq's Anbar Province?" (Foreign Policy) reminds that a lot of money has gone into the sinkhole that is the illegal war and for a lot of questionable activities:

U.S. taxpayer money that was supposed to be used for emergency purposes in Iraq was spent to buy a special advertising issue for an Anbar businessman in a British trade magazine, a U.S. government investigation has found.
FDI magazine, a bimonthly print publication and website owned by the Financial Times, nearly simultaneously showered Anbar Governor Qasim Abid Muhammad Hammadi Al Fahadawi with positive coverage, praising the dangerous Anbar province as "a hot place to invest in" and giving the businessman an award as "Global Personality of the Year for 2009."
FDI's award was announced three days before the "Special Report" on Anbar, entitled, "Bridge to the Future," was published on its website. The award was
immediately praised by the U.S. military in Iraq, without mention of the U.S. funds spent on the supplement, and the website makes no mention of it having been paid for by the American government. Then again last month, FDI magazine Editor Courtney Fingar handed the governor another award naming Anbar province one of FDI magazine's "standout regions of the year."
Reached by The Cable, Fingar confirmed the U.S. government had spent "in the neighborhood of $50,000" on the special supplement but denied her magazine's content had been bought and paid for, calling the report on Anbar "balanced and accurate."
The investigation was disclosed in the October quarterly report of the office of the Special Inspector General for Iraqi Reconstruction (SIGIR), which is tasked with monitoring U.S. expenditures and projects in Iraq, but has so far not been publicly reported. Sources told The Cable that after the report is submitted to Congress, it's up to that body to determine if the payment violated funding rules or the law.

And now . . .

It could playfully be argued that by performing this concert Joni Mitchell was the attending mid wife at the birth of Greenpeace. It is a fact, however, that the music on this CD has been donated and approved by the artists and their publishers for a limited period with all proceeds from sales going to Greenpeace in support of our work.

What is that? Joni Mitchell, Phil Ochs and James Taylor did a 1970 concert to benefit Greenpeace. Starting November 10th, the concert is out on CD for a limited time. Click here for more information. Joni Mitchell is, of course, a legendary, one of kind songwriter and artist. The late Phil Ochs left his mark with "I Ain't Marching Anymore," "Changes" and many others and James Taylor is the name of a man who was once married to the legendary artist Carly Simon and whose intense vanity was documented by both Joni and Carly ("watching your hairline recede my vain darling," as Joni put it in "Just Like This Train"). On the live album, Joni's songs include "For Free," "Woodstock," "Big Yellow Taxi," "My Old Man," "Cactus Tree," "The Gallery," "The Circle Game" and "A Case Of You." Phil Ochs contributions to the live album include "Changes," "Chords of Fame," "I'm Gonna Say It Now," "The Bells" and "I Ain't Marching Anymore." Not having yet begun doing vanilla covers of R&B classics, James offers "Fire and Rain," "Sweet Baby James" and a few other songs he wrote (James last recorded a batch of new songs he'd written on 2002's October Road). Carly Simon's latest album is a reimagining of some of her classics as well as two new songs and is entitled Never Been Gone (an amazing album, Kat praised it here). Yesterday, Carly was a guest on NPR's Soundcheck.

Finally, with Aimee Allison (co-host of KPFA's The Morning Show), David Solnit authored the must read Army Of None. David Solnit has now teamed up with his sister Rebecca Solnit, of Courage to Resist, for a new book and there's a new action.

Two things I'd like to tell you about:
ACTION: A Global Day of Action for Climate Justice on the ten year anniversary of Seattle WTO shutdown, Nov 30, 2009. Yesterday African delegates walked out of pre-Copenhagen trade talks in Barcelona demanding the US and rich countries commit themselves to deeper and faster greenhouse gas emission cuts and European activists blockaded the talks. The key fight over the future of the planet is taking place right now around climate; corporate market solutions are the new WTO and the US and the rich countries are undermining any efforts at climate solutions to avert even more catastrophic impacts. What could shift things right now is people in the US (doing what we did ten years ago) showing mass resistance to the US government and corporate capitalism's obstruction and false solutions. Please join one of the regional actions being planned in SF and around the US (details here soon) and sign up to take or support direct action and get your folks together now!

BOOK: AK Press asked me to make a book reflecting on the Seattle WTO shutdown from an organizers view. With my sister Rebecca Solnit, Kate and the AK Press collective workers, designer Jason Justice and contributions from fellow organizers we did it just in time for the ten year anniversary. Please support by buying a book , get ten at half-off, and pass on the announcement below.

hope and resistance, David Solnit

About the book:

From dawn to dusk on November 30, 1999, tens of thousands of people shut down the World Trade Organization meeting, facing cops firing tear gas and rubber bullets, the National Guard, and the suspension of civil liberties. An unexpected history was launched from the streets of Seattle, one in which popular power would matter as much as corporate power, in which economics assumed center-stage, and people began envisioning who else they could be and what else their economies and societies might look like.

The Battle of the Story of the Battle of Seattle explores how that history itself has become a battleground and how our perception of it shapes today's movements against corporate capitalism and for a better world. David Solnit recounts activist efforts to intervene in the Hollywood star-studded movie, Battle in Seattle, and pulls lessons from a decade ago for today. Rebecca Solnit writes of challenging mainstream misrepresentation of the Seattle protests and reflects on official history and popular power. Core organizer Chris Dixon tells the real story of what happened during those five days in the streets of Seattle.

Profusely illustrated, with a reprint of the original 1999 Direct Action Network's "Call to Action" broadsheet-- including key articles by Stephanie Guilloud, Chris Borte, and Chris Dixon -- and a powerful introduction from Anuradha Mittal, The Battle of the Story of the Battle of Seattle is a tribute to the scores of activists struggling for a better world around the globe. It's also a highly-charged attack on media mythmaking in all its forms, from Rebecca Solnit's battle with the New York Times to David Solnit's intervention in the Battle in Seattle film, and beyond. Every essay in this book sets the record straight about what really happened in Seattle, and more importantly why it happened. This is the real story.

For more on the book, including ordering it, click here and last night Ann noted the book and the importance of the issues the book is covering.

the associated press
qassim abdul-zahra
the wall street journal
gina chon
timothy williams
the new york times
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