Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Dems retiring, NOW wants action, Ann Talbot gives a warning

Hump day, hump day. Need a laugh to get to the weekend? Here's Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "The 2010 Plan"

The 2010 Plan

Barack thinks it's all about him. He made 2009 all about 'look at me, dream of me.' He thinks the entire world is as stuck on him as he is on himself. Diane Rehm Show tomorrow on NPR has Diane and guest exploring Barack's shifting positions on the environment. C.I. asked me to note that because she got a call about it too late to include it in the snapshot. Okay,

Two stunning Senate retirements were preceded by a flurry of phone calls among the top Democrats in Washington.
But what was said in the phone calls involving Sens. Chris Dodd and Byron Dorgan were strikingly different.
The message to Dodd from his party establishment: Godspeed, good luck and thank you for your service.
The message to Dorgan: Please don’t go.
Dorgan’s decision shocked and upset Democratic leaders. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid lobbied him to stay and Vice President Joe Biden asked him to reconsider, according to sources familiar with the talks.

Kat wrote about Dorgan's decision last night in "Not a good day" and I agree with her. Just from the snapshots, I know Dorgan's a strong voice for veterans and there really aren't a lot of those in Congress. There are people who give lip service. That's about it. He was a real leader on the issue of the burn pits and other issues. I think Daniel Akaka needs to step down. In fact, I want us to write about that at Third this weekend. I'm tired of chairs who are too old to hold regular meetings. We need a mandatory retirement age in the Senate.

Still on the topic of Congress, this is from NOW:

Health Care Bill Must Drop Abortion Language, Include Public Option

Tell Congress

After taking action, please support our work!

Action Needed:

Please send a message to your senators and House member asking them to assure that restrictive abortion language in health care reform legislation be withdrawn, that a strong public plan is included, that age discrimination is removed, that better cost control measures are included and insurance is made truly more affordable for everyone.


Abortion Provision Must be Removed - Congress is negotiating a final health care reform bill behind closed doors, since the Democratic leadership decided to bypass a formal conference committee where they would have to contend with Republicans intent on defeating the legislation. An agreement will be made without much opportunity for public comment on severely damaging abortion restrictions, and that's why your messages to Congress are needed right away. Both House and Senate versions contain highly restrictive provisions that will greatly limit abortion access for millions of women and these must be removed!

Public Plan Must be Included - There is a danger that the better elements of the House bill, like a public option, will be dropped and that the more conservative Senate bill's provisions -- which do not include a public plan -- will prevail. Without a strong public plan private providing competition, insurance costs will continue to rise.

Additionally, the Senate bill will allow insurers to charge older persons (perhaps as young as 40) three times as much (!) as the rate charged to younger persons, making health care costs for many middle-aged women burdensome. The Senate bill has very weak provisions to bring health care costs under control and lets employers off the hook in requiring them to provide health insurance for employees. A new tax on so-called Cadillac health insurance plans will mean that union families who have accepted these high end plans in lieu of increased wages will be taxed, and that's not fair.

Costly, but Needed Reforms - Really, the Senate legislation is the profit-driven insurance industry's dream bill, delivering more than 30 million new customers and forcing everyone to have health insurance coverage or pay a penalty. Many of those 30 million will need government subsidies in order to help pay for their coverage, and that means tax dollars will go to private insurance companies.

NOW believes that is poor public policy and says that an insurance mandate should also offer a public option. That said, there are many good and needed elements of health care reform; covering a large proportion of the 47 million uninsured population is absolutely essential. The costs to taxpayers to extend coverage and to achieve these modest reforms will be great. But it is a start -- NOW activists must keep up pressure in the future on our elected leaders to continue to improve upon these reforms -- especially now in the reconciliation process and in coming years.

Congress Must Make Changes - We agree with House progressive leaders, Reps. Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.) and Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) that the following major concerns must be addressed:

  • A public option - If the bill requires people to buy health insurance, there must be a public option to bring down costs by providing lower-cost competition to private insurers and choice to consumers.
  • Affordability protections - The legislation must protect lower- and middle-income individuals by ensuring that subsidies make coverage affordable and that Medicaid patients have access to primary care physicians.
  • Tighter market regulation - New regulations must keep premiums reasonable and end abusive practices. Insurance companies should no longer be exempt from anti-trust laws, and any premium increases must be reviewed before they take effect.
  • Employer mandates - If individuals are required to buy insurance, employers should be required to provide it.
  • Tax surcharges - Health care reform should be financed by tax surcharges on the wealthy, not excise taxes on health insurance plans offered to many workers and union members.

Send a Message and Call - Please send a message to your senators and House member now. You can use our pre-formatted message or write one of your own. Also, if you can take a minute to call members of your delegation and leave a message about these needed changes in the health care reform bill, that's even better. and then

Now Barack seems confused about whether he wants his next war (he's continued the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars and he's opened war on Pakistan) to be Iran or Yemen. This week, it looks like Yemen and Ann Talbot (WSWS) reports:

Once again, the British ruling class has become the first to line up full-square behind the latest military provocation being prepared by Washington. After its participation in the wars of aggression against Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as its support for attacks inside Pakistan, Britain has joined with the US in making Yemen the next target.
Washington is intent on utilising the failed attempt to explode a bomb on Detroit-bound Northwest Flight 253 on Christmas Day as a pretext for further intervention in this poverty-stricken country. On the basis of reported links between Nigerian student Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab and Al Qaeda elements in Yemen, President Barack Obama has pledged that “all elements of US power” will be brought to bear against the country, amidst reports that military targets are already being selected.
UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown responded most eagerly to this US belligerence. He immediately ordered UK airports to introduce full body scanners, despite the fact that Europe has declared these devices to be in breach of human rights.

Once again. That's how it goes. The War Hawks control it all. I am so glad I never endorsed Barack Obama. Imagine what an idiot I'd look like if I had? I mean, I'd look like Howard Zinn!!!! And Howard's too old to see many more elections. So how embarrassing for Howard Zinn that he endorsed Barack Obama. And I want to take that to Third to do a story on. By the way, yesterday or Monday, C.I. had an entry that noted she and Ava would take on the air head Naomi Wolf this week. I had mentioned that was possible three weeks ago. It'll take place this Sunday.

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

Wednesday, January 6, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, a US soldier has died in Iraq, 5 Iraqi women are killed in a collision with the US military, the British deal with 'insurgents' is discussed, and more.

When you make a deal with opposing forces, a cease-fire, it's news.

Committee Member Roderic Lyne: Mr Day, I wonder if I could now turn to the very specific question of the ceasefire by the JAM, which -- I mean a national ceasefire was announced on 29 August by Moqtadr Sadr and I understand that there was a separate ceasefire negotiated locally in Basra. Were there contacts between British Government and the Sadrists in Basra about this?

Jon Day: Yes, I mean, I can confirm that there were contacts between the UK and the Sadrists in Basra from the spring of 2007, and that as a result of this continuing dialogue, a series of -- I think I prefer to use the word "understandings" were reached with core elements of the Sadrist JAM militias in Basra. These understandings ran from mid June 2007 and they therefore pre-dated and were separate from the national JAM ceasefire in late August.

Committee Member Roderic Lyne: Can you say what the motives were for the British Government in talking to the JAM in Basra?

Jon Day: I think the government had a number of motives for authorising this dialogue. First of all, it was part of the coalition's outreach to groups involved in violence consistent with, though separate from, what was happening with Sunni groups further north. Second, we wanted to encourage the mainstream JAM to move from violence towards a commitment to democracy and to demonstrate to them a path to that goal, especially in the context of local government elections, which were then expected in early 2008, although in practice didn't happen until early 2009.

Yes, we're on the Iraq Inquiry taking place in London and never have so many words been used to say so little. The British negotiated a cease-fire in Basra in 2007. Why? What led up to 2007? From the
November 22, 2006 snapshot:

In England,
This Is London reports: "Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett this afternoon surprised MPs by signalling the countdown to a withdrawal from Iraq. She told the Commons that Basra, where the bulk of the UK's 7,200 personnel are stationed, could be handed over from British military control to Iraqi forces as early as next spring." Basra has been a violent area for British soldiers (and for Iraqis). Earlier this month, on England's Rememberance Sunday, four British troops were killed while on a boat patrol in Basra and three more were wounded. The four killed included Sharron Elliott who was "the second British female servicewoman to die in action." The other three were Jason Hylton, Ben Nowak, and Lee Hopkins. Mortar attacks have been common in Basra and, in August, a British soldier died as a result of wounds received from mortar rounds. In October, a British soldier died in Basra from road traffic. The end of October was also when the British consulate in Basra was evacuated after it was decided it was no longer safe after two months of mortar attacks. (In August, British troops 'evacuated' from their base in Amara due to repeated mortar attacks.)

And to zoom in on their being forced off their base, from the
August 24, 2006 snapshot:

Meanwhile British troops of the Soldiers of the Queen's Royal Hussars are . . . on the move.
Ross Colvin (Reuters) reports a lot of talk about how they're 'stripped-down' and mobile (in Landrovers) but the reality is that they're also homeless -- they've "abandoned their base in Iraq's southern Maysan province on Thursday". Though the base was under "nightly attack" and though it has, indeed, been abandoned, British flack Charlie Burbridge disagrees that "the British had been forced out of Amara".

Why did the British negotiate a cease-fire? Because they were getting their asses kicked and being forced to close consulates and flee their own base. In fact, let's stay with the base a second more because it was such an embarrassing moment and the Inquriy does not appear to be prepared to tackle that issue. From the
August 25, 2006 snapshot, the day fater the British military fled their base:

In other violence, despite the British military flacks that were so eagerly allowed to
spin in this morning's New York Times, Haidar Hani (AP) reports: "Looters ravaged a former British base Friday . . . taking everything from doors and window frames to corrugated roofing and metal pipes". As Ross Colvin (Reuters) reported yesterday, the base, which had come under nightly, heavy attacks, was abandoned. The AP story today notes: "Iraqi authories had complained that the British withdrawal had caught them by surprise" and allows flack Charlie Burbridge to holler Not-true-we-gave-them-24-hours-notice! Well, Charlie, on a rental, you usually have to give a minimum of 30 days notice. But it is good to know that as they packed up everything they could carry, someone did think to make a quick call saying, "Hey, we're about to split. If there's anything you want, better grab it quick, dude!"

Reporting on Day's testimony today,
AP observes, "Britain has been accused of being too passive in the Basra region and leaving it without a proper post-conflict strategy that left it vulnerable to militias." David Brown (Times of London) reports:

There were persistent reports at the time that the British military had struck a deal with the al-Mahdi Army including transferring 60 prisoners to Iraqi custody in return for safe passage out of the palace. The Ministry of Defence at the time denied that there was any deal.
Mr Day said yesterday: "I can confirm that there were contacts between the UK and the Sadrists in Basra from the spring of 2007. As a result of this continuing dialogue I think I prefer to use the word 'understandings' were reached with core elements of the Sadrist JAM militias in Basra.
"These understandings ran from mid-June 2007 and they therefore predated and were separate from the national JAM ceasefire in late August."
Sir John Chilcot, chairman of the inquiry, said on Monday that he would hold a session in private about the British deal with the al-Mahdi Army.

Today the Inquiry heard from
Gen Peter Wall, Mark Lowcock, Christopher Prentice as well as Day (link goes to video and transcript options). While Day was less than truthful, Wall was a bit more truthful. Richard Norton-Taylor (Guardian) reports that Wall declared that British troops were "sitting ducks" and "the focus of the violence." Channel 4 News' Iraq Inquiry Blogger continues to live blog the hearings and we'll note this from one entry:

We aim for at least two entries a day here at the
Iraq inquiry blog but someone much web-savvier than me (which, admittedly, could be almost anyone) recently suggested that less is more when it comes to the quieter days – and this was certainly one of those.

With the exception of Day and Wall, it was a very slow day. If you e-mail to state that something should have been noted on one day's hearings -- feel free to do so -- please note that (a) I can miss something (very easily, very often -- which is why the day after a hearing, most days, the next morning's entries will include some coverage of that hearing), (b) I'm speaking to friends in England about the hearings to make sure we don't miss the 'big talking point' and (c) I'm making a call. My call may or may not be right. And if a friend or friends is/are adament that something is the story, I'll let them overrule my own call. (They insisted John Chilcot's lengthy statement at the end of the last public hearing in December was the story, for example, and we went with that.) But a number of visitors are e-mailing about the US slowing the British withdrawal.
Andrew Hough (Telegraph of London) and David Brown (Times of London) are among those who reported on that development. We didn't lead with it and didn't inlcude it in the snapshot because I made a call that it wasn't news. It may be new to some people but in October 2007, we repeatedly noted Kim Sengupta and Anne Penketh's "US 'delayed' British withdrawal from Basra" (Independent of London) on this issue. That's what the testimony was about -- what the two had already reported. You can disagree with my call and you may very well be right but I did not (and do not) feel that we have to spend time going over points from the hearing that were already established years ago. The only real exception is the NO WMD and that we will go over and over because so many were led to believe that there were or, after the invasion, that they were discovered. There were no WMD in Iraq. But other than that, we'll go for things that are new or at least "newish."

While we're dropping back to
yesterday's snapshot, we noted the latest episode of The Progressive Radio Show where Matthew Rothschild speaks with Sami Rasouli and that Sami Rasouli is with Muslim Peacemakers Team in Iraq and also a part of the Reconciliation Project. I meant to include links to both organizations but forgot. So the links are now there.

Outside of the Iraq Inquiry, we will repeatedly note other topics. Such as the League of Righteous. Dropping 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."

Timothy Williams and John Leland (New York Times) report that Interior Ministry spokesperson Alaa al-Taei states that Qais al-Khazali was "released two days ago" by the Iraqi government (he is the "Iraq accues of being behind the killings in 2007 of five American soldiers"). Ned Parker and Saad Fakhrildeen (Los Angeles Times) add:The release followed the complicated transfer of Khazali and 450 of his supporters from U.S. to Iraqi custody, which began in June when his brother Laith and a senior aide were given their freedom. Since then, the League of the Righteous has handed over to the Iraqi government the corpses of three of the abducted British hostages, and the kidnapping's one known survivor, Peter Moore, a computer technician. Moore was freed last week after the Americans transferred Qais Khazali to Iraqi custody. The fate of the fifth hostage remains unknown, although he is believed to be dead. The U.S. military has backed Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki's government in its effort to bring Khazali into the political process and has said the League of the Righteous halted its attacks against the Americans early last summer. Khazali had been held since March 2007 in the kidnapping and killing of five U.S. soldiers in the southern city of Karbala in January of that year. His supporters kidnapped the Britons to bargain for his release. At the time, the Americans accused Khazali of working in direct collaboration with Iran's Quds Force of the Revolutionary Guard.

Laura Rozen (Politico) did a brief write up yesterday. To be clear, the British government has every right to ask for help with their hostages -- in fact, as the Iraq Inquiry has demonstrated, if they didn't ask for help constantly, the British government would have no 'plan' when it came to freeing hostages. It is their obligation, not just their right. The British government is supposed to represent their citizens. The United States government is supposed to represent their own citizens' best interests. There will be trade-offs and one-offs and various deals made between governments.

There were no American interests in this trade, there was no benefit to the US in making this trade. The British are already allies, they can't get any closer short of gene-splicing and they can take a "no" as easily as any other country. So it did not win over support from a lukewarm ally or recruit a new ally. No American citizens had been kidnapped and were being freed as a result of the trade, so no benefit arrived that way.

All Barack Obama did was embarrass the United States. 5 US soldiers are killed. The US military has the suspected ringleaders in custody. To force their release, the League of Righteous kidnaps five British hostages. The US allowed itself to be blackmailed into a release that it had no business making. America did not benefit from the release and, in fact, the US suffered and suffers. The US military that is being sent in harm's way now knows that their lives matter very little to their commander in chief and any nut job in the world now knows if you want your leaders freed, kidnap British citizens and the US will cave. There was no benefit and it is a very disgraceful moment. Barack is desparately trying to portray himself as Mr. Security with his never-ending announcements about fighting terrorism but for all the speechifying, he let go two terrorists who are the ring leaders of the group claiming responsibility (bragging about it, not merely claiming) for the deaths of 5 US soldiers in an assault on a US base. It is not a proud moment for Barack Obama, nor is it a proud moment for the United States of America.

Today a US soldier died. Did the newly christened "USF" (United States Forces - Iraq) post a release?
No, that would be actual work. (Note, USF also apparently doesn't plan on posting the briefings the way M-NF did.) David Culter (Reuters) reports 1 US soldier died "while on patrol in Baghdad" -- other than that, we'll wait for the official statement which may or may not include "The incident is under investigation." The death brings to 4373 the number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war.

Violence claimed Iraq lives today.
Anne Tang (Xinhua) reports 5 women are dead and either other Iraqis injured after an accident with a US military vehicle outside Hilla and the bulk "of wounded people were women and children". Hannah Allam (McClatchy Newspapers) reports one of the injured, Badriya Hussein, was "dazed and blood-spattered" and crying, "Why? Why?" and the Iraqi media is reporting the US military vehicle was traveling on the wrong side of the road when it hit the women's mini-van. Reuters notes that three US soldiers were also injured in the accident and they report a Mosul roadside bombing left two police officers wounded and a Mosul bombing reaulted in the deaths of 2 children with a third left injured.

Uthman al-Mukhtar (Asia Times) reports that al Anbar Province residents are "alarmed" by the recent increase in violence in the province and quotes Noor Saadi stating, "The police can't even protect themselves." The violence is causing her to keep her son at home and not let him attend school while other people are refusing "to return to their businesses or open their shops." To the south east of Anbar Province is Nasiriyah (of Dhi Qar Province) where Katharine Houreld (Scotsman) reports a number of artificats were discovered before they could be carried across the border out of Iraq and sold on the black market.

Also on the move is Nouri al-Maliki, US-installed thug of the occupation, whom
UPI reports journey to Najaf yesterday in order "to discuss election preparations with Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani from whom Nouri was seeking a blessing as evidenced by his trip and groveling. Nouri told the Ayatollah that "his State of Law coalition would join forces with the Shii'te National Alliance slate to compete in March elections." Missy Ryan and Waleed Ibrahim (Reuters) report that Saleh al-Mutlaq, the Iraqi National Movement, calls Nouri's efforts false noting, "It's not possible for a party that has been sectarian from its beginning for dozens of years, to suddenly become nationalist." Tariq Allhomayed (Asharq Alawsat Newspaper) notes Nouri's long, long sildence while Iran occupied an Iraqi oil field last month (Iran denies it) and compares Nouri's remarks when they finally came to a popular saying:

The following popular saying applies to Mr. al Maliki's comments: 'We destroyed a house last year, and its dust came this year,' as he made his comments way after the lines have been drawn and the positions of all Iraqis became apparent. However what's strange is that after the occupation of the Iraqi Fakka oil well by Iranian forces, I, like many others, wrote about the danger of what happened. The article was called 'The Iranians Have Done Good in Iraq,' based on the consideration that the occupation will help Iraqis, or let us say the Iraqi voters, discover who are Tehran's men in Baghdad, because they will not dare say a word about Iran, even if it was occupying an Iraqi oil well. Some comments were made about us in some Iraqi media affiliated to the government that can only be described as insults and accusations, as the media affiliated to the Dawa Party and the Islamic Supreme Council launched a violent attack on me and other colleagues at our newspaper, and they cast the worst accusations against us, as well as insults and instigations, whilst Mr. Nuri al Maliki comes out today to say that Iraq "will not remain silent" in the face of any violations against his land!
The question here is: why the tension, and why the media campaigns when al Maliki is coming out today to defend Iraq, its "land, sea and air," in his own words.
Why are we thought of as sectarian and as traitors? Most importantly, the main, real reason for the recent speech in defense of Iraq, after a long silence, is the fear of the results of the upcoming Iraqi elections -- the preparations for which are in full swing today.

Bernard Gwertzman (Council on Foreign Relations) interviews Jane Arraf (Christian Science Monitor) and the subject of Iraqi elections is raised:

[Bernard Gwertzman]: Talking about politics, the national elections for a new parliament that were originally supposed to take place in January will now take place on March 7. Who are the main contenders for power?

[Jane Arraf]: The most prominent of course is Prime Minister Maliki, who has done quite a lot of things right in the view of people in the streets. After all the suicide bombings, you would think people would be incredibly angry at him. But when you ask people in the street, he doesn't get a lot of the blame. What he hasn't done so well is enforcing his alliances with the political players he needs. He was basically the compromise candidate, and that's how he came to power. Now the Kurds say that he came to power because they decided to back him. That's in part true. Right now, the Kurds are not showing their cards. They're waiting to see, as everyone is waiting to see, who gets the most votes after the elections. That's when we'll see the coalitions forming. Unlike the previous election, when we pretty much knew who was going to head these coalitions, it's still all up in the air. There are even some players from 2003. Former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, who has been backed by the United States, is back. There are various Shiite candidates who have split from the coalition that Maliki had been part of, so there is a division in the two main Shiite parties, each with competing candidates. But again, that might change after the election results are in. As you know, politics anywhere, especially in the Middle East, are full of surprises so we could see alliances that we hadn't predicted.

[Bernard Gwertzman]: Is this a different kind of election? Will people be voting for individuals or for parties?

[Jane Arraf]: They will be voting for both. For the first time in national elections, Iraqis are able to choose and vote for the candidate of their choice, not just for the party of their choice. This was one of the big debates in Parliament and one of the reasons for the delay in passing the election law. There are a lot of really unpopular members of Parliament. There's a lot of dissatisfaction in the country with Parliament, and a feeling that a lot of these members of Parliament probably won't win this time, so they were pushing for a closed slate where they were running on the coattails of the more popular parties. But in the end, they passed an election law that allows people to actually vote for the candidates themselves as well as the parties, which is seen as somewhat more democratic.

Iraqi refugees have their own opinions about the intended March vote.
Julian Barnes-Dacey (Syria Today) reports on the mood in Syria among the refugee population where a large number appear determined not to vote because they do not feel the 2005 vote made any difference for their lives and and political analyst Fadel al-Rubaie declares, "Not even 10 percent of refugees will vote because of their dissatisfaction with the political process. Today Iraqi refugees feel change is hopeless. They voted in 2005 and it made no difference." UPI reports a large number of Iraqi Parliamentary members are not expected "to run for re-election" and that a huge turnover is being predicted. Meanwhile John Leland (New York Times' At War Blog) reports on the press conference Senators Joe Lieberman and John McCain held in Baghdad in which they never even mentioned the elections and Leland observes Lieberman was "taking stock of an Iraq that has yet to emerge" with statements such as "We have together made history here, but more important than making history, we changed history." Yesterday the White House issued the following statment regarding the elections:

The Vice President [Joe Biden] met today with the U.N. Secretary General's Special Representative for Iraq Ad Melkert, to discuss developments in Iraq. The Vice President offered continued U.S. government support for the indispensable role of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq and thanked Mr. Melkert for his leadership, highlighting his recent support for Iraqi efforts to approve an election law. They discussed preparations for the upcoming national elections and pledged to help the Iraqis resolve outstanding national unity issues. To view a photo of this meeting please click

Tuning to the US where little whiners are up in arms over Andrew Tyndall's latest 'study'.
Tiny Eric Deggans (Tampa Bay Tribune) huffs that he can't find a person of color but Andrea Mitchell is "top of that heap" -- Andrea Mitchell's a woman. If, IF, the 'study' is correct and she had the most air time on the network news of any correspondent, good. About damn time. Women make up over half the US population. Deggans is not at all distressed by women's low representation (Andrea's not even in the top 20 for 2009). He just wants to play his Pig Boy games. That includes citing the Ultimate Pig Boy Andrew Tyndall as gospel. Who is Andrew Tyndall? Andrew Scott (AOL's Inside TV -- and Outside Sanity?) is clueless: ". . . Mitchell clocked in the most minutes on camera during the last decade. Her total a staggering 2,416 minutes. Andrew Tyndall, also of NBC, finished in second, with 2,328 minutes." Can we get a reading workshp for Andrew Scott?

Andrew Tyndall is not a reporter and he did not receive 2,328 minutes of time on NBC news or on any news. He is a media 'expert.' He has a stream of data he's releasing (he's still posting it at his bad blog as I dictate this) and no one ever checks it out, they just run with it. They should try checking it out.

Let's address Tyndall's bonafides, shall we?
He explains:

Sawyer's decision to lead ABC's newscast with
Kate Snow's story on the ban on military cancers in the warzone displayed a morning show sensibility. It is the type of story that sparks plenty of debate around the watercooler [. . .] yet affects very few people. Only four cancer diagnosis have occurred in defiance of Cucolo's order; those people have received no punishment more severe than a reprimand; and they have been sent home from the battlefield just as they would have been had cancer not been forbidden.

What? The military's targeting cancer patients? Proposing to possible court-martial them and Tyndall says it's "watercooler" and "affects very few people"?

No, he didn't say that. I've changed pregnancy to cancer. This is why Tyndall's hyped Tyndall Report needs to be ignored (if not called out). He does this all the time -- issuing reports that he claims are objective and they aren't. He did that repeatedly with Katie Couric, labeling something "soft news." That's not "soft news." He didn't care for it -- women were involved -- and he hissed "soft news." (We covered this topic in December. If you're late to the party,
check out this at Feminist Wire Daily. And I will again say thank you to Gen Ray Odierno for eliminating the policy.)

The pregnancy issue? What an idiot Andrew Tyndall is. Tell it to the women in the miltiary e-mailing this site outraged by the policy. Tell it to the 4 US senators lodging a complaint about the policy. The government wants to court-martial for pregnancy -- even, get this, married pregnancies -- and Tyndall says it doesn't matter and is just "watercooler." Tyndall thinks he judges by a "universal" standard. No, he judges by a sexist standard where issues effecting women are "watercooler" and don't matter as much. His crap needs to be called out.

He's released a ton of numbers -- they aren't accurate. They never are. He can't back it up and he knows he won't be checked. There are categories in there on Iraq. When PEW releases a study on media coverage of Iraq? We'll take it seriously as we always have. Andrew Tyndall? We're not interested.
September 2006 at Third we quoted from a Tyndall 'study':

CBS' enthusiasm for features includes Exclusives. Lara Logan's scoop took us behind Taliban lines in Afghanistan's Ghazni Province and David Martin landed a one-on-one with Richard Armitage, the leaker who told columnist Robert Novak that Valerie Plame, wife of diplomat Joe Wilson, was a spy. "I let down the President. I let down the Secretary of State. I let down my department, my family. And I also let down Mr and Mrs Wilson." "Do you feel you owe the Wilsons an apology?" "I think I have just done it."We then explained that 'analyst' Tyndall labels both reports as "features." Lara Logan is doing a report not a feature. Media 'analyst' Andrew Tyndall doesn't know the first thing he's talking about -- as usual. We don't trust him, we don't trust his 'findings' and we don't trust his numbers so we'll ignore the Iraq aspects of his 'study.'

Back here on earth, Francis A. Boyle is an international law expert and a noted professor. We noted that Iraqi members of Parliament may not be running for re-election earlier in the snapshot. Professor Boyle weighs in on the decision in the US by Chris Dodd not to run for re-election to the US Senate:

Contrary to conventional wisdom, Senator Dodd's retirement from the Senate will be no loss for the Irish or this country. During the past two decades, Senator Dodd has sold out the Irish and Irish Americans and Irish America on two separate occasions. In 1986, he sold us out to Margaret Thatcher and her Diplock Courts by means of supporting the U.S.-U.K. Supplementary Extradition Treaty. Then again in 2006 Senator Dodd sold out us Irish to Tony Blair and Britain's still extant Diplock Courts by means of his decisive support for the U.S.-U.K. Extradition Treaty. This first sell-out was because of Dodd's craven capitulation to President Ronald Reagan. The second sell out was because of Dodd's craven capitulation to his own presidential ambitions. As a veteran of both treaty battles, I can assure your readers that Senator Dodd alone could have stopped both treaties if he had really wanted to. Instead Senator Dodd greased the way for the two most totalitarian extradition treaties in the history of this proud American Republic going all the way back to our War for Independence against the British Monarchy. When conjoined with his own financial and banking scandals , Senator Dodd finally decided to throw in the towel on his latest re-election campaign. Bon voyage!

Caro of MakeThemAccountable adds:

"BREAKING: Democrats Hoping To Take Control Of Congress …
… From Republican Minority In 2010"
Why was
that tweet from The Onion so funny?
Because it's so true.
Despite a Democratic president, a Democratic majority in the House, and 60 members of the Senate caucusing with the Democrats, the corporate lobbyists' agenda continually prevails.
If you want to force that situation to "change", if you'll pardon the expression, read on.

Lastly Friday night on most PBS stations,
NOW on PBS begins airing (check local listings) and this week's program explores the Afghanistan War:President Obama is sending as many as 30,000 more troops to combat Taliban and al Qaeda forces in Afghanistan this year, but are we missing the true target? On Friday, January 8 at 8:30 pm (check local listings), NOW reports directly from Pakistan's dangerous and pivotal border with Afghanistan, where Pentagon war planners acknowledge many of the enemy fighters and their leaders are based. The U.S. has been relying on Pakistan to act against Taliban militants there, but the Pakistani army's commitment is in question. NOW takes you to the true front lines for an eye-opening, inside lookyou haven't seen before, and won't soon forget.
iraqthe new york timestimothy williamsthe los angeles timesned parkersaad fakhrildeenpoliticolaura rosen
anne penkethkim sengupta
the christian science monitorjane arraf
the times of londondavid brown
the guardianrichard norton-taylor
francis a. boyle
pbsnow on pbs