Friday, June 05, 2009


The weekend!!!! :D Okay. The only thing I'm able to focus on is alleged spies. I want to be clear that the two are innocent unless a court of law says otherwise. I've been reading about it online and mainly because it is so interesting. But it also appears to have a lot of holes in it. So I'm not taking the story seriously and I want to be clear on that.

This is from Del Quentin Wilber and Marty Beth Sheridan (Washington Post):

A former State Department official with top-secret security clearance and his wife have been charged with spying for Cuba over the past three decades, passing information by shortwave radio and correspondence exchanged in local grocery stores, federal prosecutors said.
[. . .]
The couple, Walter Kendall Myers, 72, and his wife, Gwendolyn Steingraber Myers, 71, were charged with conspiring to act as illegal agents and to communicate classified information to the Cuban government. They were ordered held in jail pending further court proceedings.

Jason Ryan, Theresa Cook and Lisa Chinn (ABC News) add:

Court documents say that analysis of "Myers' classified Department of State work computer hard drives reveals that from Aug. 22, 2006, until his retirement on Oct. 31, 2007, Kendall Myers, while employed at INR, viewed in excess of 200 sensitive or classified intelligence reports concerning the subject of Cuba. ... Of these reports concerning Cuba, the majority were classified and marked secret or top secret."
The Myerses and their attorneys could not be reached for comment.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has ordered a "comprehensive review of this case" and asked for "a thorough assessment of past and current Department of State security procedures and practices" and recommendations for future practices, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said in a statement.

James Gordon Meeks (New York Daily News) leaves out qualifiers and convicts:

Kendall Myers, now 72, was recruited by spies in Cuba's UN mission on Manhattan's Lexington Ave. while he worked at the State Department's Arlington, Va., language school in 1978. The Ph.D. expert on Europe also taught at Johns Hopkins, Georgetown and George Washington Universities.
He worked his way up the career ladder - though his Cuban handlers urged him to join the
CIA - and eventually became a Europe analyst in the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research. There, he had one of the highest security clearances: Top Secret-Sensitive Compartmented Information.
Prosecutors said in the year prior to his 2007 retirement, Myers downloaded the crown jewels on Cuba - 200 "sensitive or classified intelligence reports."
"He had access to everything on the computers," the flabbergasted U.S. official told the Daily News, adding that the scope of what he passed to Cuba's spy service is unknown.

This is Josh Meyer (Los Angeles Times):

For much of the last two decades, Kendall Myers had a top-secret security clearance.
And by the time he retired in 2007, he had such a high-level job at the State Department that he read hundreds of the U.S. government's most classified reports on Cuba -- and passed some of the information along to handlers.
One of those "handlers," however, was an undercover FBI agent.
The couple, arrested Thursday afternoon by FBI agents, also are charged with acting as illegal agents of the Cuban government and with wire fraud. Both residents of Washington, D.C., they made their initial appearances in federal court Friday. If convicted, they face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison on the wire-fraud charge, and as much as 15 years each for serving as illegal agents of a foreign government and conspiracy.
"The clandestine activity alleged in the charging documents, which spanned nearly three decades, is incredibly serious and should serve as a warning to any others in the U.S. government who would betray America's trust by serving as illegal agents of a foreign government," said David Kris, assistant attorney general for national security.
" We remain vigilant in protecting our nation's secrets and in bringing to justice those who compromise them."
"Intelligence services from around the globe continue to steal what information they can from the United States," added Joseph Persichini Jr., assistant director for the FBI's Washington field office.

The New York Times' Eric Lichtblau offer:

In a diary entry that the Justice Department said Mr. Myers wrote at the time of the trip, he expressed his passion for Cuba and its Communist revolutionary goals and his distaste for "American imperialism" and the United States’ indifference to medical care, the poor and other basic public needs. "Cuba is so exciting!" he wrote, adding that "the revolution has released enormous potential and liberated the Cuban spirit."
The government alleged that soon after their return to the United States, the Myerses began using Morse code, encrypted messages and the short-wave radio to pass sensitive diplomatic information to Havana. They met Fidel Castro on a clandestine trip to Cuba in 1995 and made trips over the years to meet Cuban contacts in Trinidad and Tobago, Argentina, Brazil, Ecuador, and Jamaica, the government charged.

Repeating that the couple is innocent at this point. But it's just an interesting read and I keep playing around online and finding more and more on this couple. Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Friday, July 5, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces more deaths, Iraqis are not impressed with Barry O's big speech, members of the US Congress call for the US Embassy in Baghdad to investigate the targeting of Iraq's LGBT community, and more.

Barry O! gave his big speech in Cario. Iraqi Alaa Sahib Abudllah of Karbala states, "
The most important thing is to accomplish things, not just say them. I am astonished of how much the media is caring about it. I heard such speeches by Bush more than once. There is nothing new in Obama's speech." Patrick Murphy (WSWS) observes:

The speech delivered by US President Barack Obama in Cairo yesterday was riddled with contradictions. He declared his opposition to the "killing of innocent men, women, and children," but defended the ongoing US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the US proxy war in Pakistan, while remaining silent on the most recent Israeli slaughter of Palestinians in Gaza. These wars have killed at least one million Iraqis and tens of thousands in Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Palestinian territories.
Obama declared his support for democracy, human rights and women's rights, after two days of meetings with King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, two of the most notorious tyrants in the Middle East. He said nothing in his speech about the complete absence of democratic rights in Saudi Arabia, or about the ongoing repression under Mubarak's military dictatorship. In the days before the US president's arrival at Al-Azhar University, the campus was raided by Egyptian secret police who detained more than 200 foreign students. Before leaving on his Mideast trip, Obama praised Mubarak as a "steadfast ally."
While posturing as the advocate of universal peace and understanding, Obama diplomatically omitted any reference to his order to escalate the war in Afghanistan with the dispatch of an additional 17,000 US troops. And he tacitly embraced the policy of his predecessor in Iraq, declaring, "I believe the Iraqi people are ultimately better off without the tyranny of Saddam Hussein." He even seemed to hedge on the withdrawal deadline of December 2011 negotiated by the Bush administration, which he described as a pledge "to remove all our troops from Iraq by 2012."

Hillary Is 44 points out, "Murdered Iraqis who are gay were never mentioned. Gays and their oppression was not mentioned at all. Instead Obama quoted the 'Holy Koran' with the verse 'Be Conscious of God and speak always the truth.' Then Obama proceeded to avoid telling the truth." Stanley Heller (CounterPunch) also breaks down the Iraq section of the speech:

His speech in Cairo was the usual glittering generalities, the dropping of an Arabic word here and there, a sophisticated tone, and the pledge to tell "the truth." But look what he said about Iraq: "Iraq was a war of choice that provoked strong differences in my country and around the world. Although I believe that the Iraqi people are ultimately better off without the tyranny of Saddam Hussein, I also believe that events in Iraq have reminded America of the need to use diplomacy and build international consensus to resolve our problems whenever possible." Though the war was controversial the Iraqis are "better off". Over a million dead from sanctions, invasions, and civil war, and Obama had the utter gal to declare the Iraqis "better off". Our only problem was not recruiting enough flunkies to join the effort. Some on the Left immediately declared that Obama remarks were a "denunciation" of the Iraq war. Keep on dreaming.

Stan offered his take on the speech last night. Marcia noted that the Wall St. Journal offered "Barack Hussein Bush" because they heard in Barry's words a continuation of Bush policy. The speech came up repeatedly today on both hours of NPR's Diane Rehm Show and we'll focus on Iraqis and note this section between Diane Rehm and McClatchy Newspapers' Nancy A. Youssef.

Diane Rehm: Alright let's talk about the latest violence in Iraq in light of the president's promise that all troops will be out of Iraq by --

Nancy A. Youssef: The end of 2011.

Diane Rehm: 2011. And isn't there a June 30 deadline this year as well?

Nancy A. Youssef: Yeah.

Diane Rehm: How was that received by Iraqis? This morning we heard that many don't believe that is going to happen, that all US troops are going to be out. And in the meantime you've got bombings still going on in Baghdad.

Nancy A. Youssef: Yeah. And let's -- the June 30th requires -- and this -- I want to make a distinction. Obama mentioned it in the speech but the truth is this was outlined under the Bush administration, under the Status Of Forces Agreement that they signed with the Iraqi government, I think in part, with the anticipation of Obama coming to the White House and wanting to, I think the Bush administration wanted to set the withdrawal on its terms and not on the Obama administration's terms and so the June 30th deadline is part of that. The Iraqi government demanded that all US troops be out of major cities. Now we're already starting to hear a little bit of a dance: Maybe on the outskirts of Sadr City they'll stay? Maybe in parts of Samarra they'll stay? Maybe in parts of Mosul where we're seeing violence this week -- a US soldier was killed in Mosul. We're seeing a little dance about how strict that's going to be. Remember that for the Iraqis this is also their domestic politics. They have an election coming up -- if not at the end of the year, in January. Maliki, the prime minister, cannot afford to have US troops in the face of his people anymore. They are tired. That all said, you are absolutely right. You ask Iraqis, they don't believe that the United States is ever leaving -- that they'll be a presence there for the rest of their lives. And in some capacity you have to think there would be in the sense that, you know when the US -- with each soldier that leaves is less US influence over the course of events in Iraq. You know to me the most dangerous thing going forward is not a quick collapse of the security situation in Iraq but a small one, a gradual one that happens as the United States is increasing its force presence in Afghanistan. That United States finds itself with say 100,000 troops in Iraq and 70,000 troops in Afghanistan and truly stuck in both conflicts. But you're right, you ask Iraqis, the United States is going to be there in some capacity. And this year is this game of security and domestic and even US politics.

With regards to the points Youssef was making on the dance that's going on, yesterday
AP reported that the US military is hoping to keep "about 14 joint facilities [open] . . . after the deadline." Back to Iraqi reaction, Michael Slackman (New York Times) explains Barry O's speech was greeted in iraq by "a heavy dose of skepticism" and quotes diners in Mosul yelling "What a stupid speech!" Campbell Robertson and the Times Iraqi correspondents (New York Times' Baghdad Bureau) offer more reactions. In Najaf, Fadhil Mohammed states, "Obama's speech is nothing more than a way to paint a phony improved image about America for Islamic countries." In Falluja, Abu Adil states, "We've heard such nonsense from your former White House guys. We're overstuffed with such words." Yes, the speech the press can't stop creaming their panties and briefs over has been given many, many times before. Now when George W. Bush did that and the MSM treated it as new, CounterSpin would ridicule them for that. Today? CounterSpin's working for the man. But Aluf Been (Haaratz) points out some of the realities regarding Barry's 'words' on Palestinians and Israelies:

The United States has objected to the settlements since 1967, but its position has changed. The Johnson, Nixon, Ford and Carter administrations stated that the settlements were illegal. Since the Reagan administration (1981), the U.S. has called the settlements "an obstacle to peace" without referring to their lawfulness. Former president George W. Bush agreed to Israeli construction in the large settlement blocs in exchange for Israel evacuating the settlers from the Gaza Strip and the northern West Bank, and accepting the "two-state solution."

Rob Reynolds (Al Jazeera) noted The Changeling's shape shifting abilities, "Another thing struck me as distinctly political: Obama's constant references to his Muslim background, boyhood days in Indoensia, and frequent citations from the Quran sounded a bit odd coming from a man who made strenuous efforts to ignore those aspects of his autobiography in the 2008 campaign for the White House. In fact, Obama's campaign attacked critics who insisted on using his middle name; now, here was Barack Hussein Obama on stage in Cairo dropping a "shukran" (Arabic for "thank you" here) and an "assalaamu alaikum" (peace be unto you) there." Jake Tapper and Sunlen Miller (ABC News) caught that shift on Tuesday: "Back then, the campaign's "Fight the Smears" website addressed the candidate's faith without mentioning his father's religion:
'Barack Obama is a committed Christian. He was sworn into the Senate on his family Bible. He has regularly attended church with his wife and daughters for years. But shameful, shadowy attackers have been lying about Barack's religion, claiming he is a Muslim instead of a committed Christian. When people fabricate stories about someone's faith to denigrate them politically, that's an attack on people of all faiths. Make sure everyone you know is aware of this deception'."

Though that's just appearing on the radar it's long been known that Iraq's LGBT community was being targeted.
Jessica Green (UK's Pink News) reports that Iraqi LGBT is stating the Ministry of the Interior is part of the assault and quotes Ali Hili stating, "A police office from the Ministry of Interior Intelligence told us secretly that there is a campaign of murder and violence against gays. We had to pay him $5,000 US to help release one of our members from jail. With all the evidence we have been presenting, including some from one of our members who was recently released from pison, we have evidence of mass arrests [of LGBT Iraqis]. Still, the US is denying Iraqi government involvement, doing nothing to stop it and not assisting with our efforts to help gays in Iraq." Green also notes that US House Reps Jared Polis, Tammy Baldwin and Barney Frank have requested in writing that US Ambassador to Iraq Chris Hill investigate the charges. Polis has posted [PDF formart warning] the letter on his website and we'll jump in after the congratulations to Chris Hill on being confirmed as Ambassador:

As you know, since the fall of Saddam Hussein, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Iraqi citizens have become more susceptible to discrimination and violence. However, over the last month, we became aware of alarming human rights violations that fundamentally threaten the safety of LGBT citizens of Iraq. Both in the United States and Abroad, reports of the harrassment, detention and execution of LGBT Iraqi by Iraqi law enforcement have reached a fever pitch.
The information we received was derived from two separate testimonials of gay and transgender Iraqi men that were detained, tortured and sentenced to death for being members of an allegedly forbidden organization in Iraq called Iraqi LGBT. One of these individuals was able to escape, while the other was reportedly executed by Iraqi Ministry of Interior Security Forces. Through conversations with Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and Heartland Alliance, it has become clear to us that these are not isolated reports, but instead, reports that accurately portray an aggressive campaign to locate, arrest and execute LGBT Iraqis in and around Baghdad.
As LGBT Americans and co-chairs of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus, we are disturbed and shocked at allegations that Ministry of the Interior Security Forces may be involved in the mass persecution and execution of LGBT Iraqis. As has been stated by the State Department, we are aware that LGBT Iraqis are not being officially executed or being held on death row in Iraq for being LGBT. However, the persecution of Iraqis based on sexual orientation or gender identity is escalating and is unacceptable regardless of whether these policies are extrajudicial or state-sanctioned.
We hope that by reaching out to you and members of your staff, that the U.S. Embassy in Iraq will prioritize the investigation of these allegations, work with the Iraqi government to end the executions of LGBT Iraqis, and make protecting this vulnerable community a priority. It is crucial that the United States government take action to address this urgent humanitarian crisis and examine the evidence provided by international human rights organizations such as Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and Heartland Alliance in Iraq. Given cultural sensitivity around these issues, it is also important that the U.S. Embassy work with human rights organizations to carefully ensure the safety of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender Iraqis that may be afraid of reporting incidences to state authorities, particularly when those instances involve state authorities.
Please know that we will continue to monitor this situation and hope to be of assistance in your investigation. We wish you well in all of your endeavors as the newly confirmed U.S. Ambassador to Iraq.

The targeting of journalists in Iraq also continues.
Earlier this week, another journalist lost his life, Alla' Abdul Al Wahab and others were wounded (one in the same attack, two in another attack). Reporters Without Borders declared, "It is time the slaughter of journalists in Iraq was stopped. The Iraqi authorities created a special police unit last year to investigate murders of journalists. We urge them to investigate these two bombings very thoroughly. Only conclusive results are likely to discourage these killers and improve the safety of journalists." Independent journalist Jeremy Scahill (writing at the US Socialist Worker) provides the walk through:

The U.S.
bombed Al Jazeera in the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan, attacked it multiple times in the 2003 Iraq invasion, and killed Al Jazeera correspondent Tarek Ayoub. On April 8, 2003, a U.S. Abrams tank fired at the Palestine Hotel, home and office to more than 100 unembedded international journalists operating in Baghdad at the time. The shell smashed into the fifteenth-floor Reuters office, killing two cameramen, Reuters's Taras Protsyuk and José Couso of Spain's Telecinco. In a chilling statement at the end of that day in Iraq, then-Pentagon spokesperson Victoria Clarke spelled out the Pentagon's policy on journalists not embedded with U.S. troops. She warned them that Baghdad "is not a safe place. You should not be there."
Last week, a Spanish judge
reinstated charges against three U.S. soldiers in Couso's killing, citing new evidence, including eyewitness testimony contradicting official U.S. claims that soldiers were responding to enemy fire from the hotel. One year ago, former Army Sergeant Adrienne Kinne told Democracy Now! she saw the Palestine Hotel on a military target list and said she frequently intercepted calls from journalists staying there.
As I have
reported previously, Reuters cameraman Mazen Dana was shot by U.S. forces near Abu Ghraib prison when his camera was allegedly mistaken for a rocket-propelled grenade launcher. The U.S. listed as "justified" the killing of Al Arabiya TV's Mazen al-Tumeizi, blown apart by a U.S. missile as he reported on a burning U.S. armored vehicle on Baghdad's Haifa Street.
There have also been several questionable killings of journalists at U.S. military checkpoints in Iraq, such as the March 2004 shooting deaths of Ali Abdel-Aziz and Ali al-Khatib of Al Arabiya. The Pentagon said the soldiers who shot the journalists acted within the "rules of engagement." And Reuters freelancer Dhia Najim was killed by U.S. fire while filming resistance fighters in November 2004. "We did kill him," an unnamed military official told the New York Times. "He was out with the bad guys. He was there with them, they attacked, and we fired back and hit him."

Jeremy Scahill will be a guest on
Bill Moyers Journal tonight (check local listings -- online it provides video, audio and transcript -- accessible to all). Meanwhile Halliburton is in the news cycle. Guillermo Contreras (San Antonio Express-News) reports that "Robert Cain of San Marcos; Craig Henry of San Antonio; Francis Jaeger of Haltom City; David McMenomy of Lampasas; Mark Posz of San Antonio; and El Kevin Sar of Houston" have filed charges against Halliburton stating that "they were poisoned by toxins and emissions from burn pits at U.S. camps in Iraq and Afghanistan". Pratap Chatterjee (CorpWatch) reports on the War Profiteers of Halliburton:

The Houstonian Hotel is an elegant, secluded resort set on an 18-acre wooded oasis in the heart of downtown Houston. Two weeks ago, David Lesar, CEO of the once notorious energy services corporation Halliburton, spoke to some 100 shareholders and members of senior management gathered there at the company's annual meeting. All was remarkably staid as they celebrated Halliburton's $4 billion in operating profits in 2008, a striking 22% return at a time when many companies are announcing record losses. Analysts remain bullish on Halliburton's stock, reflecting a more general view that any company in the oil business is likely to have a profitable future in store.There were no protesters outside the meeting this year, nor the kind of national media stakeouts commonplace when Lesar
addressed the same crew at the posh Four Seasons Hotel in downtown Houston in May 2004. Then, dozens of mounted police faced off against 300 protestors in the streets outside, while a San Francisco group that dubbed itself the Ronald Reagan Home for the Criminally Insane fielded activists in Bush and Cheney masks, offering fake $100 bills to passers-by in a mock protest against war profiteering. And don't forget the 25-foot inflatable pig there to mock shareholders. Local TV crews swarmed, a national crew from NBC flew in from New York, and reporters from the Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal eagerly scribbled notes.Now the 25-foot pigs are gone and all is quiet on the western front. How did Halliburton, once branded the ugly stepchild of Dick Cheney -- the company's former CEO -- and a poster child of war profiteering, receive such absolution from anti-war activists and the media? Of course, the defeat of the Republicans in the 2008 U.S. election, the departure of the Bush administration, and a general apathy towards the ongoing, but lower-level war in Iraq are part of the answer. But don't ignore a potentially brilliant financial sleight of hand by Halliburton either. That move played a crucial role in the cleansing of the company.

Michael Winship of
Bill Moyers Journal notes Chatterjee's piece in "The Privatization of 'Obama's War':"

KBR, Halliburton and the private security firm Blackwater have come tosymbolize the excesses of outsourcing warfare. So you'd think that witha new sheriff like Barack Obama in town, such practices would be on the"Things Not to Do" list. Not so. According to new Pentagon statistics, in the second quarter of thisyear, there has been a 23% increase in the number of private securitycontractors working for the Pentagon in Iraq and a 29% hike inAfghanistan. In fact, outside contractors now make up approximately halfof our forces fighting in the two countries. "This means," according toJeremy Scahill, author of the book, Blackwater: The Rise of the World'sMost Powerful Mercenary Army, "there are a whopping 242,647 contractorsworking on these two U.S. wars."Scahill, who runs an excellent new website called "Rebel Reports," spokewith my colleague Bill Moyers on the current edition of Bill MoyersJournal on PBS. "What we have seen happen, as a result of thisincredible reliance on private military contractors, is that the UnitedStates has created a new system for waging war," he said. By hiringforeign nationals as mercenaries, "You turn the entire world into yourrecruiting ground. You intricately link corporate profits to anescalation of warfare and make it profitable for companies toparticipate in your wars. "In the process of doing that you undermine US democratic policies. Andyou also violate the sovereignty of other nations, because you're makingtheir citizens combatants in a war to which their country is not aparty.

You can catch the discussion on
Bill Moyers Journal.

Today the
US military announced: "AL ANBAR PROVINCE, Iraq -- A Multi National Force -- West Marine died as the result of a non-combat rleated incident June 5. The name of the deceased is being withheld pending notification of next of kin and release by the Department of Defense." And they announced: "CAMP VICTORY, BAGHDAD -- A Multi-National Corps -- Iraq Soldier died late last night of injuries received during a grenade attack on a patrol in the Diyala province of northern Iraq, June 4." These 2 announcements bring to 4311 the number of US service members killed in the Iraq War since it began in March 2003. In other violence today, Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing which injured two people.

Turning to the US
Kimberley Hefling (AP) reports on Chris Scheuerman whose son Jason died in Iraq. August 1, 2005, the DoD announced: "Pfc. Jason D. Scheuerman, 20, of Lynchburg, Va., died July 30 in Muqdadiyah, Iraq, of non-combat related injuries. Scheuerman was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Benning, Ga." In December of 2007, AP reported that it took "well over a year" for his family to be informed Jason had left a note which read, "Maybe finaly I can get some peace." Hefling reports today that Chris Scheuerman is upset because the "Army Medical Command's inspector general's investigation, completed in November" states no policies were violated by the military use of "unlicensed psychologists in Iraq". Scheuerman should be upset and the country should be outraged. Unlicensed psychologists are not psychologists. You're five-year-old son or daughter is an unlicensed psychologist and about as qualified as any other unlicensed psychologist. The license serves a purpose, without the license, there's really no point in calling yourself a psychologist. The military yet again played it on the cheap and did so in the combat zone where no one could afford to 'play doctor'. They didn't take it seriously, they never did. Just like they still don't take PTSD seriously today -- though they know to give it lip service due to public outrage.

Peace Mom Cindy Sheehan doesn't just offer lip service, she offers action and she's preparing to face off against Bully Boy Bush in a matter of days. Cindy's currently on a
speaking tour and these are some of the upcoming dates:
Phoenix: June 5th
Dallas: June 7th and 8th
Waco: June 9th
Austin: June 10th and 11th
Nashville: June 14-16
St. Petersburg, FL: June 17-18
Philadelphia: June 20-23
NYC: June 24-26
Cape Cod: June 27-29
New Hampshire: June 30 - July 1
San Francisco: July 3 - 5 (Socialist Conference)
Cleveland: July 8-9 (National Assembly to end the Iraq War)
Pittsburgh: July 11-12
Norfolk, VA: July 15-18
Vashon Island, Washington: July 25-26
The Dallas Peace Center notes the action Cindy will lead while in Dallas:
Start: Jun 8 2009 - 4:30pm
Cindy Sheehan will come to Dallas to protest crimes against humanity that occured during the Bush administration. According to Sheehan, "The actions of his administration are criminal and we need to keep up the pressure for accountability." To support Sheehan's effort, meet on the SW corner of Preston & Royal to join a march on the sidewalk west on Royal, south on Netherland, east on Meaders to the front of John J. Pershing Elementary School, across from Daria Dr. which leads to Bush's gated compound. No major streets will be crossed. Participants are asked to stay on message – the American people will not tolerate torture in our name, and those who have betrayed our trust must be held legally accountable.
SW corner of Preston & Royal
Dallas, TX
United StatesSee map:
Yahoo! Maps Cindy Sheehan hosts the radio program Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox which airs each Sunday (and archives at link). June 16th she'll team up with singer-songwriter David Rovics for a luncheon at Ellendale's Restrauant (2739 Old Elm Hill Pike, Donelson, TN from one to three p.m.) sponsored by Nashville Peace and Justice Center (4732 Peace and Justice Center, 4732 West Longdale Drive, Nashville, TN 37211). This is a fundraiser, I believe, and for more on it contact Jerry Hader at who is with Nashville Peace and Justice Center. This Saturday in Michigan, the Green Party of Michigan will be rallying in Benton Harbort to Save Jean Klock Park and to Free Rev Edward Pinkney:The Green Party of Michigan (GPMI) will be leading a peaceful march to Jean Klock Park in Benton Harbon on Saturday, June 6. The march will leave from the Berrien County Courthouse (at 811 Port Street) at 3:30 pm. Members of Save Jeane Klock Park will be joining the march to protest the destruction of this section of Lake Michigan beachfront dunes and the theft of this pristine piece of nature from the people of Benton Harbor, to whom it was willed "in perpetuity"!
The march will also emphasize the need to free Reverend Edward Pinkney. An appeal hearing for the community activist will be held on Tuesday, June 9 by the Third District of the Michigan Court of Appeals (State Office Building; 350 Ottawa NW; Grand Rapids, MI 49503-2349; 616/456-1167). Rev Pickney and representatives of Save Jean Klock Park will be speaking at a public meeting before the march. This session, which is open to the media, will be held at Hopewall Baptist Church (756 Highland) starting at 2 pm.
Turning to PBS, and, as noted earlier,
Bill Moyers Journal features Jeremy Scahill. Bill Moyers latest installment begins airing tonight on most PBS stations (check local listings) as does NOW on PBS:Americans have a longstanding love affair with food—the modern supermarket has, on average, 47,000 products. But do we really know what goes into making the products we so eagerly consume?This week, David Brancaccio talks with filmmaker Robert Kenner, the director of "Food, Inc.," which takes a hard look at the secretive and surprising journey food takes on the way from processing plants to our dinner tables. The two discuss why contemporary food processing secrets are so closely guarded, their impact on our health, and another surprising fact: how consumers are actually empowered to make a difference.Find out why you'll never look at dinner the same way.I really have to wonder about the above summary. It is not one that will make most say, "Honey, let's watch NOW!" The same topic with a 'find out what foods you should be serving' would be seen as instructive. The promo appears to have been written by someone whose responsibility for a meal never went beyond ordering at the drive through.Gwen sits around the table for Washington Week (which begins airing on most PBS stations tonight) with New York Times' Helene Cooper, The Economist's Greg Ip and Gebe Martinez of the publication that should not speak its name. Yes, you read that right. Two female guests to one male guest. It's usually the other way around or three male guests to one woman. Also tonight on most PBS stations, Bonnie Erbe sits down with Heather Boushey, Amanda Carpenter, Avis Jones-DeWeever and Star Parker to discuss the week's news on PBS' To The Contrary. Check local listings. And turning to broadcast TV, Sunday CBS' 60 Minutes offers: The ChairmanIn a rare interview with a sitting Federal Reserve chairman – the first in 20 years – Ben Bernanke tells Scott Pelley what went wrong with America's financial system, how it caused the current economic crisis, what the Fed's doing to help fix it and when he expects the crippling recession to end. (This is a double length segment.) Watch Video
DollyDolly Parton, the oh-so-country music superstar with the city-slicker sense of show business talks to Morley Safer about her childhood, her career and the Broadway production of her film, "9 to 5." Watch Video
60 Minutes, Sunday, June 7, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

Iraq Veterans Against the War is a group this community supports. I have friends who are members of IVAW. I mention that because two former members of IVAW have taken to e-mailing the public account for this site with smears about the organization. I dictated a response for today's snapshot but the snapshot is too long so the topic will be carried over to Third on Sunday. In the meantime, if someone's accusing IVAW of being controlled by some political party -- take a second to look at the ones accussing. What you will most likely see is Barack Obama supporters who attempted to whore out IVAW as a Barack Obama front group. That they were not allowed to do that upset them and they left. Now they're offering smears. IVAW has a diverse membership and anyone telling you otherwise should be suspect right there. Again, we'll carry it over to Third there's just no room today. But we will close with this from IVAW's Phil Aliff's "The red badge of courage" (US Socialist Worker):

When you cannot inflict casualties on the enemy, you learn that there are no limits to the level of human rage. It is the kind of rage that eats away at you. It is like a disease that tears you apart from the inside.
MILITARY VETERANS continue to carry this rage when we return home. When you are in Iraq, it is easy to justify shooting into a house or calling in mortars on a palm grove. But when you return home, you can't fire a machine gun at someone who cuts you off on the highway.
This feeling of vulnerability drives a veteran mad. We pack up our civility to prepare for combat. Everyone at home carries their socially accepted morals, while we throw them out the window to justify killing someone for nothing. We were taught how to pack our morals away, but we were never given directions for unpacking them.

iraqshane bauercampbell robertsonthe new york times
michael slackman
nprthe diane rehm shownancy a. youssefmcclatchy newspapers
sahar issakimberly heflingthe associated press
jake tappersunlen miller
phil aliffiraq veterans against the war
60 minutescbs news
jeremy scahill
bill moyers journalto the contrarybonnie erbe
now on pbs

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Dennis Loo, Tom Burghardt

Thursday. We're almost to the weekend. And sad to say, I'm already longing for July 4th. I know we've got a ways to go but that's what I'm focused on right now. Today was pretty good for a Thursday. We had some left over sushi from dinner last night. So I had it for breakfast. It was weird having it for breakfast but it really filled me up and got the day off to a real nice start.

Okay this is from Dennis Loo's "Adding Insult to Injury: the Cover-Up of Torture Photos Continues:"

Comes now a Defense Department spokesperson, anonymously speaking to Salon’s Mark Benjamin in a June 2, 2009 article entitled “Suppressed images don't show rape, official says: The Pentagon says no sexual abuse, no Abu Ghraib photos among those held back in ACLU suit.”
Benjamin writes: “[T]he Defense Department is not withholding any additional images or video of apparent detainee abuse from the notorious Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. Salon published all of that material back in 2006, which included images of prisoners being forced to masturbate and to simulate oral sex. The Pentagon is not aware of any other images of abuse from the prison. ‘You have the whole set of Abu Ghraib,’ the official said. ‘There are no 'X Files' of images sitting somewhere else of Abu Ghraib.’"
This flatly contradicts two credible sources. It also contradicts commonsense. First, as to the sources: In the May 30, 2009 edition of Salon, Benjamin quotes Lt. General Antonio Taguba who was tasked by the DOD under Rumsfeld to investigate the Abu Ghraib scandal when it broke in
2004: "'The photographs in that lawsuit, I have not seen,' Taguba told Salon Friday night. The actual quote in the Telegraph was accurate ["These pictures show torture, abuse, rape and every indecency"], Taguba said -- but he was referring to the hundreds of images he reviewed as an investigator of the abuse at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq -- not the photos of abuse that Obama is seeking to suppress."

That doesn't surprise me at all because I don't see Mark Benjamin as a truth teller. I really see him a sour grapes baby. I remember when Dana Priest and Ann Hull did their series on the problems at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and how Mark Benjamin went all over the place saying, "I reported on it too." And liars like George Soros' media moll Janine Jackson were happy to play along. Oh those bad, bad Washington Post writers. Just rewriting Mark Benajmin!

He never reported on what they did. They did an investigative series. They nailed things down. He wants to whine but the reality is he wrote a bad story that he didn't investigate. He just repeated what he was told. And that's what he's doing above. He got fed another story and he runs with it. Good for Dennis Loo for pointing out how Mark Benjamin's latest revisions don't make any sense.

While Mark Benjamin covers for Barry O, Tom Burghardt screams for you to wake up in "Obama's Cybersecurity Plan: Bring in the Contractors!:"

With billions of dollars in federal funds hanging in the balance, President Barack Obama unveiled the Cyberspace Policy Review May 29 at the White House.
During his
presentation in the East Room Obama said that “America’s economic prosperity in the 21st century will depend on cybersecurity” and that efforts to “deter, prevent, detect and defend” against malicious cyberattacks would be run from the White House.
How this debate is being framed however, has a familiar ring to it. Rather than actually educating the public about steps to prevent victimization, state prescriptions always seem to draw from the same tired playbook.
First, issue dire warnings of an imminent national catastrophe; second, manufacture a panic with lurid tales of a “digital Pearl Harbor;” third, gin-up expensive “solutions” that benefit armies of (well-paid) experts drawn from officialdom and the private sector (who generally are as interchangeable as light bulbs however dim).
As Wired magazine’s ”Threat Level” editor Kevin Poulsen
said during a panel at the Computers, Freedom and Privacy conference in Washington June 3, “the threat of cyber-terrorism is ‘preposterous’,” arguing that “long-standing warnings” that hackers will attack the nation’s power grid is so much hot-air. Poulsen contends “that calling such intrusions national security threats means information about attacks gets classified unneccessarily.”
While the president claims the new office “will not include–I repeat will not include–monitoring private sector networks or Internet traffic,” and that his administration “will preserve and protect the personal privacy and civil liberties that we cherish as Americans,” the devil is in the details and when they’re added together “change” once again, morphs into more of the same.

Barry the liar. That's what he should have been called. "Lies You Can Believe In" should have been his slogan. I'm glad we never drank the Kool Aid in this community. Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Thursday, June 4, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces another death, Iraq's Oil Minister wanted for questioning by their Parliament, the latest attack on Cindy Sheehan (from the conservative paper) comes as Cindy gears up to protest Bully Boy Bush again, Congress explores the needs of veterans' care-givers and Congress ignores that the VA's contracted duties to EDS either weren't done or a VA administrator lied to them today during her testimony, Arianna Huffington explains what's required for her to grasp a 'teachable moment' and more.

"Let me begin by asking you to think about what it took for each of you to get prepared for the day today," Anna Frese of
Wounded Warrior Project declared. "I'm not talking about the first cup of coffee or your morning paper. I'm asking you to think about more basic activities. Raising your arm to reach for a bedside light switch. Moving a finger to wipe the sleep from your eyes. Getting out of bed, walking to the bathroom. While most of us take this for granted, severely injured service members, like my brother Eric [Edmundson], can no longer carry out these basic activities of daily living without assistance. Eric and other severely wounded warriors get the most intimate, devoted care from family members in the privacy of their homes, twenty four hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year."

Anna Frese was addressing the US House Veterans Affairs Subcommittee on Health this morning in a hearing entitled "Meeting the Needs of Family Caregivers of Veterans." She explained how her father and her brother are a team in his care and wellness and how "Eric relies on Dad to assist him in everything, and Dad does it with pride and great respect. But there is an unseen price. Our father, now 54 years old, is no longer employed and has used up his retirement funds and savings, no longer has health insurance and has not contributed to Social Security in almost four years. Even though his future has been drastically altered, he tells me often, 'Eric would do it for me'."

Frese was on the first panel as was Ret. Commander Rene A. Campos of
Military Officers Association of America who read a letter from the father of a veteran injured in 2007 during part of her testimony, "All the army ever wanted was a soldier. The army got it. All we want is a little help. We got excellent care at the military treatment facility but we had to fight to get our son in private care and take him home. There are so many problems with the VA bureaucracy. We were lucky to know the system but so many other families are struggling."

US House Rep Michael Michaud chaired the subcommittee and noted that the hearing was a way of "exploring ways to better help the family caregivers of our veterans." Dr. Barbara Cohoon of the
National Military Family Association noted that family caregivers are an integral part of the recovery.

Cohoon, Campos and Frese made up the first panel. Prepared opening statements for this hearing can be found
here. (Individual links did not work in yesterday's snapshot. My apologies. So we'll just note the main page for the statements.)

Chair Mike Michaud: My first question is, we've talked about financial compensation for family caregivers so my question is, to all three, what do you think that compensation should be financially? Commander?

Rene Campos: I couldn't speak to a dollar value but, as I mentioned and as Barbara talked about, this needs to be addressed at the very beginning, at the time of injury and we have to recognize that, I don't believe, one system will fit all, that these situations are going to change over time, that the needs of families are going to change and the service member and the veteran. I -- I look at trying to get DoD and VA to work closer together, than recognizing that these families are -- are getting quite a bit of support and immediate care at the time of injury and they're pretty much in a cocoon. So when they transition into the VA system it needs to be easier for them and not try to guess all over again where to start and that's why in terms of compensation, we want to see DoD and VA work together to build a package that is -- because these folks will be going back into the DoD system and they'll be trans-trans, uhm, transitioning between the systems at several times throughout their longer term care. So I can't give you a dollar value or specifically but we should make sure that it is a package that will meet the needs of veterans, of the family, of the wounded, as they transition over their life.

Chair Mike Michaud: Doctor?

Dr. Barbara Cahoon: Our association has really proposed as far as two different types of payment -- one as far as the non-medical care and the other as far as the medical care which would be more of your hands-on. And the reason for that is that we do find caregivers are really providing two different roles and depending upon the type of injury and also the cycle of the recovery or where they are in the recovery phase kind of determines how much involvement that they're doing. If someone has a severe or a moderate TBI but, other than that, is functional as far as being able to get around then the caregiver is more involved in what you would call non-medical care -- they're making the doctors' appointments, they're making sure they are getting to where they need to go, they're actually maybe looking on their Blackberry and following a GPS to make sure they made it to Walter Reed or to Bethesda or to where ever and they're making sure that they do go home. So there's a lot of non-medical care that go on. So we're looking more at that to be kind of a range but basically a kind of an amount that's given each month. And as far as the medical care? We're looking more at what that would be as far as hands-on, similar to nursing care that would be given -- especially if someone was -- had a spinal injury and basically was from the waist down needed certain types of care, you're turning them in the bed. You're actually physically giving them medication. Those types of things. And there are systems in place now where that's actually then, you know, compensated hourly. So that's -- we're kind of looking at those two different pieces. But also too, as far as the care that they're giving, as far as providing them, they also have lost significant amount of money as far as walking away from the current job that they are. So there's two different financial impacts going on at the same time.

Chair Mike Michaud: Thank you. Ms. Frese?

Anna Frese: That's a good question. Uh -- let me work with the number that we do know. The cost per day for in-house VA nursing home care for next year is projected to rise to $887.33. Per day. We can then get an annual cost of $324,000. And while I don't want to guesstimate the cost of what enacting the caregiver legislation would be I can comfortably express with confidence that the failure to provide such support increase the risk that veterans would have to be institutionalized and those costs are clearly far in excess of the relatively modest cost of caregiver assistance would be.

Chair Mike Michaud: Thank you my next question, I know some of you have answered this in your opening statements, but if all three of you could just address if we were to pass legislation what are the -- would we put in the legislation? The three most important components of offering a caregiver program, what would the three most top priority parts be? Anna? And I know you've talked about some during your opening testimony but not knowing what we'll be able to get through the House and through the Senate, if we had to pick three, what would the three top priorities be? Ms. Frese?

Anna Frese: As we spoke about earlier, each family, each circumstance, family dynamics of each family is so drastically different. From what I hear from families and from our own experience, the health care especially for the parents who are caring and those who are not a spouse and not covered under that health care, they need some form of health care to take care of their own health so they can actually be around and continue to care for the veteran. And also it comes back to the economic support as well. The time spent worrying about how they're going to continue living and paying for their needs. You spend more time focusing on the worrying than actually -- you want to be able to focus your time, your strength and your full ability on your veteran rather than worrying. The health care piece, the income and the mental health to help sustain the long term ability of the care giver.

Rene Campos: As I mentioned, we're concerned about adding more programs or adding more layers onto already complicated bureaucracies. We go back to the need for and establishing some sort of permanent office or seamless transition agency of some kind and, again, I -- I -- if it's extending the current SOC [Joint DoD-VA Senior Oversight Committee] out or whatever, we need some good solid oversight that doesn't change when the administration changes -- So we need the continuity of the leadership and oversight of programs. So I think that's critical to whatever we do. The other thing we need to do is that we have, again, a reciprocal program for caregivers that includes both the medical and the non-medical aspects. Because, again, these families that have been on active duty, have child care, they have a lot of other family support, non-medical support services that are there. So they should have a package that they can expect that would also help transition over into the VA system. And then finally we go back to at the time of injury, they really need an advocate. They need someone that can walk them through all these different things that are going to be happening to them over, in some cases, the course of their life. So we think there needs to be an advocacy program of some kind that's set up. I think the quality of life foundation report I mentioned is a good starting point.

Dr. Barbara Cohoon: First of all this needs to start upstream, as I mentioned before, while they're still active duty if you're going to do anything as far as the caregiver. One of the conversations we recently had with Secretary [of Veterans Affairs Eric] Shinseki is that -- If the care-giver's not taken care upstream, by the time he gets them, in their veteran status, they're either burnt out or they're so frustrated with the system that they may stop being a caregiver and then everyone loses -- especially the family. So this really needs to make sure -- we want to make sure that this actually starts upstream while the service member is still active duty. The other piece is that we have to remember that the caregiver well being is directly linked to the veterans' care, well being. So if the care-giver's taken care of, we know that the veterans' taken care of and vice versa. And so ways in which we can help the caregiver is we can recognize that the role that they're playing is important and then the pieces that they are providing also need to be recognized and how we go about recognizing that can be done in lots of different ways. We talked about the compensation as far as financial, we also realize that they have walked away from a lot of different things. They lose their health care, they lose their ability as far as to maintain a retirement or even lose their retirement. We also need to make sure that they have respite care, those types of pieces. So we need to make -- we're looking at the well being of the caregiver as one of those packages you talked about. The other is the caregiver also needs to maintain a purpose in life -- not only as far as taking care of the veteran but also as far as them personally. And also remember that what surrounds them is their family. It may not be Mom or Dad, it may be their sister or brother. Or if it's Mom or Dad that's doing that, they have other children that they're taking care of or maybe a father that they're also taking care of so that the family unit itself is in a delicate balance so whatever you provide the caregiver effects everyone else.

US House Rep Henry Brown (Ranking Member) raised issues of payment and should it go to the primary care-giver. Dr. Cohoon explained why that was necessary and also addressed how more than one person in the family could be trained in the care-giving but one person would be doing it. She also noted that at some point in the process, someone steps forward and that person becomes the primary care-giver. An important point and one that does conflict with the aim to appoint a care-giver before someone is wounded -- a point she seemed not to grasp or to ignore. A service member, not injured, picking someone as their primary care-giver may fill a blank on a piece of paper but it's a lot more complicated than listing someone as a primary contact should you be injured or killed. There are people who think they can be it and then, exposed to the realities, can't. There are people who think they can do it and in injury comes when they're pregnant or some other health issue has arisen. A service member designating a primary care-giver before deploying would only fill a blank on a piece of paper, it would not really answer anything.

US House Rep Henry Brown would return to the issue of payment during the third panel where you saw government workers from the VA (administrators) pretend they worked for their tax dollars and pretend that progress was being made. How little they are doing (how slowly they are dragging their feet) would emerge slowly. But first Brown hoped he found a roll dog the Dept Under Secretary of Defense Office of Transition Policy and Care Coordination Noel Koch. But first Koch needed to know if he was being asked a question. Then Koch needed Brown to repeat the question because, Brown apparently, hadn't been paying attention. Brown actually had to repeat the question and then he had to explain it. And having to ask the question twice -- the second time at Brown's request -- it does not build confidnece in the VA that their Deputy cannot grasp the basic formulation of words into a question. After Brown explained it (after asking it twice), Koch took a stab at it.

Noel Koch: This is -- this is -- this is a somewhat complicated issue here the question of who is the receipiant of the support is -- is -- is the issue. And there's a point beyond which we can't control how families function so, in some cases, the concern is the money goes to the -- to the family and the family spends it and it's not spent on care and it's not spent on the purpose that it's been provided for. Suggestions that we provide it straight to the service member raise some of the same concerns so this is just -- it's not something -- there's a point beyond which we can't manage the way human beings conduct their lives. I mean, everybody has a sugestion and usually that suggestion is a function of some personal experience or something they're familiar with . . .

And on and on he went. Did he understand the question? If so, his simple answer was, "Different people would feel differently about payment methods." Equally true is he could have pointed to Brown that anyone wrongly using monies that resulted in a veteran not getting care would be subject to prosecution for abuse and neglect. In fairness to Koch, Brown's question may have been so confusing because the monies being discussed in the hearing were not the veterans' benefits. The hearing was about payments to care-givers for the work that care-givers do.

Brown then raised that the services were said to be hard to follow, "We've heard testimony that access to resources and information for family care-givers is highly variable and there's not any standardized and ongoing training of any formal support network. How would you respond to those concerns?" That question was directed at Dr. Madhulika Agarwal who is with the VA and is the Chief Officer of Patient Care Services. Grasp the title and prepare to be frightened. Agarwal strung a lot of words together which said nothing. She ate up time and thought she'd done a great deal of it.

Dr. Madhulika Agarwal: Um. Thank you for the question, sir. Um. [Plays with mike. The same one she was using for her opening statement just minutes prior. But it ate up a second or two of time.] We certainly are making efforts in doing better outreach about our programs. We've had an initiative known as the Combat Call Center Initiative which was instituted by Secretary [James] Peake last year which reached out to about 1600 veterans who were identified in the seriously ill category during the transition process and were given information on our current program -- particularly about the care management -- case management programs and other services and also offered services at that time. The Federal Recovery Program, again, for the seriously injured veterans . . . this resource . . . has been . . . really . . . I think amplifying in helping us with . . . navigating between the VA, the DoD as well as the private sector. They have a resource directory. Which I think is a useful resource for the care-givers and the families. We have a set of liasons in the military treatment facilities and a case management system which is very knowledgable about the programs that we offer uhm. And we are working to improve and align our outreach through the internet, intranet and MyHealth.web.

Once she mentions Peake's name, she is reading from a piece of paper in front of her, it should be noted. That's shameful. In her position, she should damn well know what the VA offers. Someone should have asked that, someone should have said, "Doctor, are you unable to answer this basic question about what the VA provides without stealing long glances at your crib sheet?" Her little cheat sheet didn't even help her. It's the "Combat Veteran Call Center" -- not the "Combat Call Center." In addition, that wasn't a test program. In May of last year, that was a program. It's supposed to be up and fully running. The
VA contracted to EDS who predicted in May of 2008 that the first six months (starting May 1, 2008) would see the Combat Veteran Call Center assisting "nearly 570,000 recent war time veterans." 16,000? 17,000 was the initial focus but by month six, 570,00 veterans were supposed to be served and if they weren't, the EDS didn't do the job they promised and the VA didn't provide the oversight they were supposed to. Now she should have been asked that but Little Debbie got to close up the questions so American veterans and their families suffered. The doctor was an idiot and anyone who needs a cheat sheet and still can't get the facts right doesn't just need to be left behind a grade they need to be expelled. There is no oversight at the VA when it comes to the administrators and, until there is, there will be very little improvement for veterans and their families.

Brown seemed confused by the doctor's wordy non-answer (it was confusing) and attempted to give her the benefit of the doubt.

US House Rep Henry Brown: So you basically have a website that has these services which are available --

Dr. Madhulika Agarwal (overlapping): We're currently working on that

US House Rep Henry Brown: -- and how to get those resources?

Dr. Madhulika Agarwal: We are working on it, sir. It's in -- it's in development phase.

Well Agarwal, the Iraq War is not in the "development phase" so when does the VA plan to get off its ass and gets its act together? Hmm. A website of resources. They're developing it. They're in that phase. The obvious follow up was: "What is the timeline for this project? When is this website scheduled to be up and running?" Again, the committee passed to Little Debbie Halvorson. All the thought Little Debbie put into the day took place in the morning when selecting that very bad outfit (was the necklace a faucet?) with the plunging neckline.

In other news of inept government employees,
last week Iraq's Trade Minister resigned. Abed Falah al-Sudani was arrested over the weekend after attempting to fly out of Iraq only to have the plane he was traveling on forced to return. The Oil Minister is now in the spotlight, as expected. Gina Chon (Wall St. Journal) reports al-Shahristani is stating he can handle the questioning from Parlaiament "[b]ut he said he thinks members of parliament have ulterior motives. He said some lawmakers want only to advance their public images before national elections in January, while others are involved in oil-related corruption." Waleed Ibrahim (Reuters) notes 117 MPs are calling for Shahristani to face their questions and that the "parliament has become far more assertive since Samarai, a Sunni politician viewed as a foe of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, was picked as speaker in April.

Claudiu Zamfir (AGERPRES) reports that Romania has completed their military mission in Iraq (838 at the start of the Iraq War, 365 which are now withdrawaing) and that the country's President Traian Basescu met with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani today in Baghdad where the two spoke of building a business relationship between the two countreis and, no doubt, Basescu didn't grasp how it sounded when he bragged, "Romania has a great tradition in oil and gas exploitation". AP notes the ceremony marking the departure took place in Nasinriyah, that 3 Romanians died in the Iraq War and "Aside from the United States, the remaining troops [in Iraq] come from Britain and Australia." England and Australia? They're not out of Iraq. Despite all the hoopla. Mike highlighted the BBC report on the UK Royal Air Force would be ending the "nearly 19 years of operations in Iraq when seven aircraft fly personnel back to the UK." And we've heard all the "England's out!" stories. Deborah Haynes (Times of London) reports, "Britain's final military mission in Iraq is in disarray after a failure to seal an agreement with the Baghdad Government by the end of last month forced two British ships to leave and scores of Royal Navy trainers to suspend work." This forced, as UPI notes, the British Navy to stop their work. The so-called Status Of Forces Agreement replaced the United Nations Security Council's authorization for the occupation of Iraq -- for the US. By not renewing the authorization, each country was required to set up their own arrangements. Romania and Iraq had worked out a memorandum of understanding. England? AFP reports that they rushed through an agreement -- one which still needs to go before the Iraqi Parliament for ratification -- which would allos the British Navy to remain in Iraq for one year, according to Nouri al-Maliki's spokesperson Ali al-Dabagh. The Mirror notes they were to depart at the end of June but now as many as "100 troops and five ships" will remain to "protect its [Iraq's] floating oil terminals". Earlier this week, Jeremy Scahill (RebelReports) reported "with Barack Obama as commander in chief, there has been a 23% increase in the number of 'Private Security Contractors' working for the Department of Defense in Iraq in the second quarter of 2009 and a 29% increase in Afghanistan, which 'correlates to the build up of forces' in the country. These numbers relate explicitly to DoD security contractors. Companies like Blackwater and its successor Triple Canopy work on State Department contracts and it is unclear if these contractors are included in the over-all statistics. This means, the number of individual "security" contractors could be quite higher, as could the scope of their expansion." Nebraska's North Platte Bulletin reports that the US Army Reserve's 1013th is composed of 98 soldiers and that fifty-seven of those "head to Iraq later this year to support military operations there" while the Honolulu Advertiser reports that the 130th Engineer Brigade is sending over 150 troops to Iraq for a one year tour of duty (their send off takes place tomorrow at Hamilton Field starting at ten a.m.). Tom Barton (Des Moines Register) reports on Tim Geiger, 19-years-old, who compets in the X Games' Hometown Heroes Amateur Skateboard Tour Competition in Urbandale and then leaves for Iraq. Though interest among many so-called 'anti-war' types has vanished, the Iraq War has not ended.

One thing that doesn't have to be sent to Iraq is homophobia -- Nouri al-Maliki ensures that homophobia thrives in the country.
Queerty weighs in noting:

We're about 99.99999999877 percent certain life is pretty miserable for many of Iraq's openly gay and transgender folks. If actually being murdered and tortured weren't bad enough, living in fear that you'll be among those rounded up (sometimes by state police), slayed, and left "wearing diapers and women's lingerie" must be pretty daunting to just getting through the day. But wait, what's this? News that being gay in Iraq is FANTASTIC? Despite laughable assurances from U.S. State Department's Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs John Fleming that all is okay with gays in Iraq -- you know, because homosexuality isn't illegal, so what's there to worry about? -- reports from Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and British-based Iraqi LGBT tell a very different story. Like how international advocates, so worried about the fate of queers there, are simply working to evacuate them after attempting the more insurmountable task of just keeping them safe.

Seth Michael Donsky (Boston's The Edge) speaks to Human Rights Watch's Scott Long who states that some believe the assaults on Iraq's LGBT community are an effort by followers of Moqtada al-Sadr to portray "themselves as moral crusaders." Long is quoted stating, "What is clear is that this is an organized and extensive murder campaign and must involve some degree of high-level direction."

Turning to some of today's reported violence . . .

Sahar Issa and Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports four Baghdad roadside bombings which destroyed 1 military vehicle and a police car while injuring six people, a Mosul "suicide car" bombing apparently aimed at a private seucirty company which resulted in 1 civilian being killed and six being injured.

Today the
US military announced: "CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE SPEICHER, TIKRIT, Iraq -- A Multi-National Division -- North Soldier died from injuries received during a grenade attack on a patrol in the Kirkuk province of northern Iraq, June 4. The name of the deceased is being withheld pending notification of next of kin and release by the Department of Defense." The announcement brings the total number of US service members killed in the Iraq War to 4309.

Turning to the US where Peace Mom Cindy Sheehan's currently on a
speaking tour and these are some of the upcoming dates:
Phoenix: June 5th
Dallas: June 7th and 8th
Waco: June 9th
Austin: June 10th and 11th
Nashville: June 14-16
St. Petersburg, FL: June 17-18
Philadelphia: June 20-23
NYC: June 24-26
Cape Cod: June 27-29
New Hampshire: June 30 - July 1
San Francisco: July 3 - 5 (Socialist Conference)
Cleveland: July 8-9 (National Assembly to end the Iraq War)
Pittsburgh: July 11-12
Norfolk, VA: July 15-18
Vashon Island, Washington: July 25-26
The Dallas Peace Center notes an action Cindy will lead while in Dallas:
Start: Jun 8 2009 - 4:30pm
Cindy Sheehan will come to Dallas to protest crimes against humanity that occured during the Bush administration. According to Sheehan, "The actions of his administration are criminal and we need to keep up the pressure for accountability." To support Sheehan's effort, meet on the SW corner of Preston & Royal to join a march on the sidewalk west on Royal, south on Netherland, east on Meaders to the front of John J. Pershing Elementary School, across from Daria Dr. which leads to Bush's gated compound. No major streets will be crossed. Participants are asked to stay on message – the American people will not tolerate torture in our name, and those who have betrayed our trust must be held legally accountable.
SW corner of Preston & Royal
Dallas, TX
United StatesSee map:
Yahoo! Maps Cindy Sheehan hosts the radio program Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox which airs each Sunday (and archives at link). Cindy notes that she's been attacked online (at the Dallas Morning News' "Park Cities" edition -- they always go north and futher north at the Morning News -- it allows them to keep the paper 'White' and ignore that the city of Dallas became majority minority sometime ago -- so they expand to Park Cities and soon will be in Sherman -- anything to avoid covering Oak Cliff or South Dallas) and explains some of the lies being repeated. She raised Casey. He is her son. She and her husband were married throughout Casey's life. (They divorced sometime after his death.) Though she doesn't note it, the attackers are confusing her (intentionally?) with another mother of a fallen soldier who is against the illegal war. That woman is divorced and the attacks being launched at Cindy are the same attacks that the step-mother (who barely knew the fallen) has repeatedly launched at the mother. Now maybe the hatred of Cindy is so intense that they just can't see clearly but it takes a lot of ignorance not to know Cindy's story. Cindy notes:

In the blog there are a lot of inaccuracies, but these people don't care about fact or reality: they care about propping up and still supporting someone who used his Presidency to enrich his oil buddies and break almost every amendment in the Bill of Rights and shred this country's laws to pieces. Bush left office with a rating that was even lower than his I.Q. and he probably purchased a house in one of the only neighborhoods in this world where he wouldn't be guaranteed a nightly flaming bag of dog poo on his porch. Many people commenting on the blog also wish that I would "Leave that poor man alone." He's not president anymore and we shouldn't be protesting someone who can't do anything about the war anymore, anyway. I think the people making the comments really believe that we are going to protest so Bush will bring the troops home. It didn't work when he was president, so why should it work when he is Citizen Village Idiot? We are protesting in front of Bush's Dallas home because we are tired of American presidents committing war crimes and crimes against humanity and getting away with it to live long lives of bar-be-que, golf and revisionist history to repair their scandalous legacies.

And if you're not understanding that this an orchestrated attack on Cindy from the Dallas Morning News, check out
this hit piece by DMN editor Michael Landauer. Cindy's event is June 8th in Dallas, Texas. The Path to Peace Foundation announces a June 9th event in New York City:On 9 June 2009 the Path to Peace Foundation will bestow posthumously the 2009 Path to Peace Award to Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho, of Mosul, Iraq. Archbishop Celestino Migliore, Apostolic Nuncio, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, and President of the Path to Peace Foundation, announced that decision was made by the Board of the Path to Peace Foundation, an agency established to carry out projects to support the work of the Holy See Mission to the United Nations. Paulos Faraj Rahho was born in Mosul, Iraq, in 1942. He spent nearly all his life in Mosul, a city with one of the oldest Christian populations. Following his ordination to the priesthood on June 10, 1965, he was appointed to St. Isaiah's Church in Mosul. He later founded the Church of the Sacred Heart on Tel Keppe, a new district of Mosul. He also opened an orphanage for disabled children. On February 16, 2001, he was ordained Chaldean Archbishop of Mosul, giving him responsibility for about 20,000 Catholics in ten parishes. Chaldean Catholics comprise a tiny minority of the Iraqi population, but are the largest group among the less than 1 million Christians in the country. Archbishop Rahho expressed disquiet at the moves to incorporate Sharia law more fundamentally into the Iraqi constitution, and continued throughout his life to lead worship in difficult situations. Following the start of the Iraq war, persecution of Christians increased dramatically. Despite the adversities facing Christians, Archbishop Rahho encouraged Christians to stay in Mosul, and he pushed for tolerance among all factions. On February 29, 2008, gunmen kidnapped Rahho outside his church in Mosul as he drove home after he had finished celebrating a prayer service. After two weeks of searching, officials at the Archeparchy were informed that the Archbishop had died and where to find his body. Also murdered were his bodyguards and driver.In addition to the Path to Path Award, four individuals will receive the Servitor Pacis Award for their contribution to the common good. These honorees are: Judge Andrew Napolitano, Bob & Suzanne Wright (Co-Founders of Autism Speaks), and Father John P. Foley, S.J. (Co-Founder of Cristo Rey Network). The event will be held at a Gala Dinner sponsored by the Foundation at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City.

At wowOwow, Lesley Stahl interviews Republican Arianna Huffington who declares that "I feel that this left/righ way of looking at the world is very obsolete" -- spoken like the wolf in sheep's clothing Arianna is. One exchange quotes Lesley trying to bring in the reality and a news perspective and Ariana bathed in the sweat of 'inspirational glow':

Lesley Stahl: Every time I point my clicker at the television set and surf around, I see Barack Obama. He's making announcements, he's giving interviews, he's there all the time. There's a debate about why he's in our faces so much and whether he's overexposed. What do you think about that? What do you think about the president and is he overdoing it?

Arianna Huffy: I don't think so, Lesley. I believe that Obama's strength from the first time he burst onto the national scene with a speech at the convention in 2004, to the last speech he gave this morning . . .

Lesley: Yes. Exactly, my point.

It's a point that escapes Ari. But a great deal escapes the backlash, anti-feminist Arianna. Why is that? The answer's actually in the interview. Nut case Arianna shares "one of those amazing, teachable moments". A teachable moment? Well here's what it takes Ari to learn something, in this case, over fifty and she's learning the importance of sleep:

And I remember getting up from my desk the first morning and fainting from exhaustion, hitting my head on my desk, breaking my cheekbone and having five stiches on my eye. And it's one of those amazing, teachable moments, because I just knew immediately that I had to change the way I was trying to do things.

Well there you go. The old dog can learn new tricks.

Provided she breaks a bone and requires medical attention.

Arianna always loves to inflate the truth. She made a career out of it. She's like a nun who gave herself to Christ. Only in this case, Christ was a gay man who wanted to stay in the closet and Arianna was a money grubber who was willing to take part in a faux marriage. No, Lesley doesn't ask her about that. It's forbidden. No one ever asks Arianna about that. Despite the fact that it is the most interesting thing about her oversimplified life. How many frumpy socialites end up with her life? Not many. In the UK, she'd be a cross dresser by now. In the US, she pretends she grasps politics. That she doesn't is very clear when Lesley asks her about Sonia Sotomayor (Barack's nominee for the Supreme Court) and Arianna insists "I really feel that she is immensly qualified for the job" but when Lesley (again) asks about the abortion issue (Arianna sidesteps it the first time -- pay attention kids, Republicans don't change their spots) and whether a campaign should be mounted against her "if it isn't clear that she's pro-choice," Arianna immediately responds, "No. I don't think so." Well she wouldn't, now would she. She's the anti-feminist woman and when that comes up, Arianna offers a bunch of sexist stereotypes about feminism ("all that anger twoard men and toward family and children" -- she's just a money grubbing liar) and then tries to prove she's not anti-feminist by insisting her position was like The Second Stage. That's the book
Susan Faludi called out in Backlash, noting it was the most damaging to the feminist movement as a 'leader' set about ripping apart the own movement the press (falsely) credited her with starting. Arianna's a backlash queen, never forget it. For more on anti-feminist Arianna see Isaac Chotiner's "The Puffington Host" (New Republic) which Elaine recommended on Tuesday.

queertyseth michael donskythe wall street journalgina chonwaleed ibrahimcindy sheehandallas peace centerthe path to peace foundationthe north platte bulletinthe honolulu advertiserthe des moines register
deborah haynes
jeremy scahill
mcclatchy newspaperslesley stahlwowowow
susan faludi