Friday, November 20, 2009

House ArmedServices Committee

Friday! Finally the weekend. :D

And all I want to do is curl up and go to sleep. :(

General Wesley Clark ran for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination in 2004. So the fact that he testified to Congress this week might have been news but I didn't see it. I was bored with today's news and C.I. offered me her notes from the Tuesday Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee hearing of the House Armed Services Committee.

I'll note this comment by Clark, "NATO is a problem because it is a -- it's a one strike and you're out organization. It's been successful thus far. We took it into Afghanistan without NATO demanding of us an effective strategy. And were we to simply fold our tent and go home, I think we'd have a problem with NATO. I think it's incumbent upon us to create a successful strategy that brings us success and an exit and NATO can contribute to that. [. . .] It's going to take a lot more than troops for NATO to be successful in Afghanistan."

Kim Kagan mentioned Iraq in a subordinate clause to a sentence. She talked much more on Pakistan. Are you surprised?

By the way, Fred Kagan (neocon) is married to Kim Kagan (neocon).

You have to wonder how these creeps get invited to testify? Vic Synder loves him some neocon. He sure doesn't seem to love him some Iraq, does he?

And speaking of droopy, Politico reports that Barack had dipped below 50% approval. His rise was (too) fast, his fall has been just as swift

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

Friday, November 20, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, the US Defense Dept announces a death in Iraq, the 'intended' January elections remain murky, a War Hawk is denied a title, another War Hawk refuses to meet with the parent of a child kidnapped in Iraq, Congress explores the wounded, and more.

Today the
Defense Department issued a release noting "the death of a sailor who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. Petty Officer 2nd Class Brian M. Patton, 37, of Freeport, Ill., died Nov. 19 in Kuwait in a non-combat accident." M-NF missed announcing the death (DoD is only supposed to identify the fallen) and the announcement brings to
4363 the number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war.
"According to the Defense Manpower Data Center, at the Department of Defense, approximately 35,000 service members have been wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan," explained US House Rep Stephanie Herseth Sandlin yesterday afternoon. She was opening the House Veterans Affairs' Subcommittee on Economic Development's hearing entitled Adaptive Housing Grants. What are Adaptive Housing Grants? The
VA explains: "Veterans or servicemembers who have specific service-connected disabilities may be entitled to a grant from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for the purpose of constructing an adapted home or modifying an existing home to meet their adaptive needs. The goals of the Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) Grant Program is to provide a barrier-free living environment that affords the veterans or servicemembers a level of independent living he or she may not normally enjoy."

The first panel was composed of
Disabled American Veterans' John L. Wilson, Paralyzed Veterans of America's Richard Daley, Blinded Veterans Association's Thomas Zampieri and Homes For Our Troops' John S. Gonsalves. From Daley's opening statement, we'll note this section:

The $63,700 currently available using the Specially Adapted Housing grant is a significant help for a veteran to make the needed modifications to their existing home or newly purchased previously owned home. Since it is difficult to find an existing home that can be made totally accessible, some veterans choose to design a new house incorporating accessibility into the plans. Often financial considerations or a convenient living location near family members may preclude designing a new home. In those situations the often monumental task of making the existing structure accessible must be considered. Guidance and information to make modifications for accessibility can be found in the VA's newly issued VA pamphlet 26-13, Handbook for Design: Specially Adapted Housing for Wheelchair Users, which was also reviewed by PVA's Architecture Department before its publication.
Many existing homes can be modified to improve access for a wheelchair user and enhance the function of the home. Some basic alterations would include creating an accessible entrance to the home including an accessible route to the entrance door, a level platform that is large enough for maneuvering during door operation, and enlarging entrance doorways. One bathroom would need complete renovation including plumbing arrangements if an accessible roll-in shower is required. The movement of an existing wall may be necessary for a person in a wheelchair to use each fixture of the bathroom, allow room for door operation and general circulation in the bathroom. Similar construction alterations would be required for the kitchen to be accessible and usable, and perhaps alterations to the master bedroom. The current grant amount of $63,700 in many situations would not pay for the entire project of making a home accessible for a wheelchair user. Since the house must be made accessible for the veteran, they would have no other option than to pay for remaining construction costs from personal savings, arrange a loan from a bank, or borrow needed funds from family members. We have been told that more often, than not, this is the situation the veteran faces.

That provides a general overview of some needs shared by many disabled veterans. We'll now zero in on an example of one person's needs in particular.

Thomas Zampieri: I had an OIF blinded service member that sent me an e-mail about the special housing grant program which I included in my [prepared] testimony because it sort of explains some of the frustration. While he was happy that he got the $10,000 grant in 2007, I actually had to spend $27,000 to do the adapted housing changes that he needed to provide room and space for his computer, the monitors, the scanners, the printers and the magnifiers in order for him to complete his college degree. All of this was great VA adaptive technology that was provided to him as a blind veteran but you have to have a place in order to store it and a way for that equipment to be connected. A lot of the blind veterans have unique, uh, requirements in regards to lighting and electrical work and the current amounts don't cover that.

Kerry Feltner (The New Hampshire) reports on Nathan Webster's campus lecture "Can't Give This War Away: Three Iraqi Summers of Change and Conflict." Webster is a photo journalist. Feltner spoke with people who attended the lecture. Gretchen Forbes declared, "It's really unusual to get a first-hand report of the war. You'd think by now it would be our duty to have major news organizations over there to write about the war . . . that really surprises me. I feel like it's the media's responsibility." Betty Nordgren declared, "I'm always interested in hearing about the war and the images were great to see, but I think that the news organizations are in trouble if they don't start covering this war more thoroughly." Both women are correct and it's also true that the least covered in any war are the ones with visible wounds. It's apparently too tempting to look away. That's true of the challenged and disabled population in general but especially true of those members of that population whose wounds derive from a war or military conflict. We'll note the following exchange from the hearing.

Chair Stephanie Herseth Sandlin: One of the concerns, I know that, Dr. Zampieri, you have in terms of the updated version -- Well, maybe not a concern. But maybe you could elaborate for us. With the updated version of the handbook, is that helpful for visually impaired veterans. What further provisions would your organizations like to see in-in the handbook?

Thomas Zampieri: Yeah, the handbook is helpful. A lot of the modifications in regards to lighting and additional electrical outlets and all those things. And then the --

Chair Stephanie Herseth Sandlin: You had mentioned that in your oral statement. That you would like to see those types of adaptions added.

Thomas Zampieri: Right.

Chair Stephanie Herseth Sandlin: So maybe a comprehensive list of what would be available --

Thomas Zampieri: Okay.

Chair Stephanie Herseth Sandlin: Is that?

Thomas Zampieri: Right. And the voice activated types of devices are also, you know, he [John Gonsalves] had mentioned. Especially for blind veterans who now days live alone. All those things add to safety and other things.

Chair Stephanie Herseth Sandlin: And then, Mr. Gonsalves, you had expressed concerns that I think that in terms of some requirements in the grants -- that there are injuries that require some sort of adaptions or its sort of mandatory but to have some additional flexibility in the grants would be helpful.

John Gonsalves: Right.

Chair Stephanie Herseth Sandlin: Is that correct?

John Gonsalves: Yes, and I think some of that may have been taken I hadn't seen the new VA pamphlet. I-I hadn't seen it before the testimony but one of the things that Homes For Our Troops does now -- and you can kind of tell from one of the pictures that we have here -- we have a soldier who actually, before his house is being built -- this is under the Fully Functioning Kitchens For Mobility. We qualify what kind of adaptations are going to happen in a house based on injury. And I guess it would sort of work the way VA rates disability percentage. We -- At the time a service member gets qualified for SAH, we have enough information at that time. And what Homes For Our Troops has done is we have an adaptation check list. We only have five sets of home plans that we build. And the home, the footprint is always the same. The windows are always the same. The floor plan is always the same. But there's an adaptation check list based on what the soldier needs and that's why I provided some photos in here. It really gives you an idea. Obviously a quadriplegic would need a lifting care system where somebody that has the mobility of their upper arms probably doesn't need it. And I think at the time of being qualified for SAH, basically all of the technology is there. We've built for, I think, every type of injury out there from amputees who are blind to different levels of spinal cord injuries. So we know what's available to put in a home and it would be really great to be out in the front once they qualify. A whole checklist be put together.

Chair Stephanie Herseth Sandlin: I think that that's very helpful and you have some ideas and recommendations that would be helpful and would like you to share those with us, with the VA. I think that with addition to what they've done to update their pamphlet, to have someone who's undertaken the mission that you've undertaken doing this work on the ground would be beneficial in creating those types of checklists. I would also think that it would be somewhat beneficial based on the work that you've done in having these checklists for the different types of injuries that the veteran may have suffered from and how to construct a home suitable to his or her needs as it relates to the overall cost of that. And I know that you agree in addition to TRA that the specially adapted housing grant be increased and again that's sort of the historical analysis that you're providing specific in Exhibit One for that grant. What do you -- do you have a ballpark figure? I mean, knowing again that if we adjust ed it to inflation, it would be up to $170,000. But based on the work you've done and the relative cost of doing that, do you have a ballpark figure?

John Gonsalves: Yes. On average, uhm, we've averaged $343,00 for the cost of building a new home.

Chair Stephanie Herseth Sandlin: Okay. So that's even greater than the average new home price.

John Gonsalves: Right. But these are 100% fully adapted homes --

Chair Stephanie Herseth Sandlin: Yes.
John Gonsalves: -- which they do cost a little more to build. You need a little extra square footage compared to what the average home that the census bureau uses.

[. . .]

Chair Stephanie Herseth Sandlin: One last question. Mr -- Dr. Zampiri. Can you explain the difference in changing the Specially Adaptive Housing Grant from 5 - 200 to 20 - 200 with regard to visual impairment?

Thoomas Zampieri: Yes. In fact, thank you very much. I was afraid someone didn't notice that. And also I appreciate that Congressman [John] Boozman [Ranking Member] just coincidentally showed up at the right time [laughter from Zampieri and Boozman]. I'm legally blind. I can't drive. A lot of jobs I can't do. My vision is worse than 20/200. And I don't qualify for anything under this program because the requirement is 5/200 which is really just you can't tell if there's a light on. There's no light/dark perception for lack of a better way to describe it. If somebody has 5/200 and they waive their hand in front of your face and you don't see it, you're quote-quote, 'meet this requirement, "totally blind." Our concern is -- and this is growing thing -- a lot of the Traumatic Brain Injured service members who have significant functional impairments, who need extra lighting and all these other things get zip. When I was in Houston and I was first service-connected for my blindness, for example, because of the 20/200 vision, they said no. So I went and I ended up spending not a whole lot but almost $7,000 to do the modifications to my house in Houston because, you know. And so the total number of service members coming back that would be 5/200 is fairly low. In fact, the Navy says there's less than 20 in the last 8 years out at Bethesda. But there are 140 that are enrolled in the VA with this 20/200 and are told "nope" and -- So it's a frustrating thing. And I realize of course that the magic problem is that if you change this section and you open it up to 20/200 as the definition of blindness then of course, you know, the automatic reaction is "Uh-oh. You're going to expand the costs of the program." And-and, I'm always suspicious of that. It's sort of like a few years ago, a couple of years ago when you did the TRA legislation. I'm sure people initially reacted by saying this is going to cost millions and millions and you're going to have all sorts of veterans applying for this. And the experience that I have is it usually isn't that way. People don't apply automatically. But I think Mr. Boozman may have some thoughts about this problem of the vision complications.

Ranking Member John Boozman: I appreciate you bringing that up and you make such an important comment -- that probably the VA's the only entity in the world that uses that standard versus the 20/200 standard. As an optometrist, I helped start -- in fact I started the School For The Blind's low vision program in Little Rock. And I would say probably about 90% of the kids in there did not -- would not meet the -- did you say 5/200 was the standard? Yeah, I mean, that's the standard I'm familiar with because nobody uses it. But I would say that if you looked at all the kids in blind schools or schools for the impaired, the vast majority, the vast-vast majority, there's no way that they would meet a 5/200. Most people, and lay people don't understand this but, most people that-that are blind have a lot of usable vision that can be worked with. And it truly does, you know, going in and setting up a kitchen or setting up a house so that a person can easily pour a cup of coffee -- you know, do things, that we just take for granted. Somebody might really struggle with that that did not meet this definition of vision which is so stringent in the VA so I think you make a great point.

Thursday's snapshot noted the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia which Kat covered Thursday night. Wednesday's snapshot covered the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hearing and Kat covered that Wednesday night.

Remember the two women in New Hampshire noting the lack of Iraq coverage in the media? On NPR today,
The Diane Rehm Show didn't have time for Iraq but it did have time for Nadia Bilbassy to laugh condescendingly at an e-mailer (Tom from Jacksonville, Florida) caller and presumably all Americans before she went on to declare what American tax payer money should be spent on. Nadia scored a double: She managed to (a) be insulting and (b) also pimp opinion passed off as fact. It was not attractive. And it was cute the way she worked every answer back to her own community and issues -- a fact not revealed on the broadcast. I wonder if the Basques in Spain will next be brought on to lobby for an hour without NPR revealing who they are? Her remarks did not approach journalism. But, hey, she got to be rude and insulting and isn't that what NPR is all about? Strangely, Diane's show last week (with a guest host) told people the vote was on track in Iraq. That's now up in the air so you'd think they would have felt the need to do an update. But possibly when one guest keeps talking about 'her people' (but forgetting to inform the listeners of that) there's very little time for anything else.

Let's turn to the issue of the elections.
Jane Arraf (Christian Science Monitor) reported this afternoon that "the country's top election official said that even if lawmakers resolved all their differences, it would be impossible to hold elections in January" and quoted Independent High Electoral Commission's Faraj al-Haydari stating, "We have already stopped all our work." Arraf reminds that both the "IHEC and the United Nations officials have said they need at least 60 days to prepare a credible election."

This morning, the
New York Times editorialized on the election issues noting:

The Constitution requires the election by the end of January. Election officials had said that the law needed to be done by Oct. 15 to allow enough time to prepare for the voting. Even though Iraq's Parliament overshot that deadline when it approved compromise legislation, the election was expected to take place between Jan. 18 and Jan. 23.But the Presidency Council (composed of the president, a Kurd, and two vice presidents, a Sunni and a Shiite) has the final say. And Mr. Hashimi chose to exercise his veto power and put in doubt Iraq's second national election, a critical test of whether democracy can endure as the United States withdraws its troops.

The editorial board thinks the Constitution matters . . . sometimes. Sometimes Iraq's Constitution doesn't matter. It appears the editorial board is concerned with the Constitution only when what they want doesn't happen. Refuse to conduct a national census? The editorial board's okay with that. Refuse to resolve the Kirkuk issue (as the Constitution mandated be done by 2007)? The editorial board's okay with that. It's a funny sort of semi-devotion to the Constitution but then the New York Times is a funny sort of news outlet.
Sami Moubayed covers the developments in Iraq at Asia Times notes the argument that the Iraqi refugees will be underrepresented in the Parliament (true even if there wasn't an effort to expand the number of seats and to hand the bulk to Shi'ites). Mouybayad explains, "Frantically [Nouri al-] Maliki responded. On Thursday evening, the Constitutional Court (over which Maliki has plenty of influence) overruled Hashemi's veto, calling it 'unconstitutional'." Let's jump to what's happening and then come back to the 'unconstitutional' assertion. Waleed Ibrahim, Suadad al-Salhy, Aseel Kami, David Alexander, Deepa Babington, Samia Nakhoul and Todd Eastham (Reuters) report, "Instead of addressing Hashemi's demand that the law give more seats to Iraqi refugees and minorities, lawmakers squabbled over whether the veto was legal. They scheduled a session Saturday in which they would vote on whether to reject Hashemi's veto and send the law back for approval by the three-person presidency council without changes, said the speaker of parliament, Ayad al-Samarai." Now back to the "unconstitutional" claim. The reporters go on to address the claims Baha al-Araji was making (see yesterday's snapshot) about the veto being "unconstitutional" and how this is "political wrangling" and MP Saleh al-Mutlaq states, "To my knowledge, the federal court did not say the veto is not constitutional. They are trying to create a real political crisis."

Turning to the daily violence. First, a correction. McClatchy was included in yesterday's daily violence and that was Wednesday's daily violence. Not Thursdays. It will not be counted in the weekly total at Third. McClatchy didn't do a violence report on Thursday or, thus far, on Friday. Apparently, there were other things to do.
Reuters noted the following violence today a Mosul roadside bombing today which injured a police officer, a Mosul stabbing of "an Egyptian" last night and another civilian shot dead in Mosul last night as well as a Thursday Baghdad bombing which left nine people injured.

Moving to Europe where noted War Hawk Tony Blair was delivered some, for him, bad news. As
Middle East Online reports, "Former British premier Tony Blair took a blow after being rejected as EU president, mainly due to his stained repuation after supporting and taking part in the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003." There is no joy in the killing fields tonight, Poodle Tony has struck out. Blair is the former British prime minister. His roll dog Gordon Brown is the current one. Leicester Mercury reports Brown is refusing to meet with the father of Peter Moore who was kidnapped along with 4 other British citizens in Iraq back in May 2007. The other four are all dead or thought by the government to be dead. Only Peter Moore is assumed to be alive at this point. But Brown has refused to meet with him and the reason given is that the "designated next of kin" is not Graeme Moore. Though some are shocked by Brown's decision, it should be remembered that Gordon is himself a War Hawk and, as such, may not be able to fake compassion very well and just attempting to do so may wear Gordon Brown out. In which case, he needs to limit the occassions on which he fakes sympathy in public.

Yesterday (or last night, for those not on the West Coast),
KPFA's Flashpoints Radio spoke with Stephen Funk, Eddie Falcon, Clare Baird and Courage to Resist's Sarah Lazar. Nora Barrows-Freidman was speaking with them about the efforts of Iraq and Afghanistan war resisters to work with Israeli refuseniks. Stephen Funk wrote about this project earlier this month. Stephen is the first known Iraq War resister who self-checked out starting on February 9, 2003 and went public April 1st announcing that he would not deploy. We've noted Stephen Funk here before and will again, but he went public before this site started so we'll note his story in the following excerpt.

Nora Barrows-Freidman: We are now joined on the phone by Stephen Funk. He was one of the earliest who refused to serve in the occupation of Iraq. And, Stephen, thank you so much for being with us again on Flashpoints.

Stephen Funk: Thanks for having me.

Nora Barrows-Freidman: Tell us a little bit about your own history of refusing military service and then what can you say about this international push to dismantle militarism and the specific relationship between the United States and its expanding policies of entrenched occupations in the Middle East and Israel's ongoing and long suffering project of occupation and colonialism? What are the similarities that-that you're seeing there on the ground in Palestine, Israel? And what about the solidarity and the meetings you've been having with Israeli refuseniks?

Stephen Funk: I guess, with my own story, I joined the military after 9-11. I voluntarily enlisted in the Marine Corps. I came from a background of activism. I grew up in Seattle, organized for the WTO and I moved to LA and protested against the Democratic National Committee in 2000 and I also spent two months in the Philippines when their president was being impeached -- that was at the same time George W. Bush was being inaugurated for the first time and I was hoping that the same kind of thing could happen in the United States that was happening in the Philipines. But despite that background, I enlisted. I feel -- maybe as an activist, I thought I could be a more reasonable person in Afghanistan and not be like a racist, hot head which is what I thought a lot of people joining at the time -- there was a lot of a fear going on and lot of people joining at the time were very reactionary about 9-11 and, you know that was -- that was where I was coming from. But when I went to the Marine Corps, I went to the violent training and I had to shout "Kill! Kill! Kill!" all the time and, you know, I also had to deal with being queer in the military. And I realize that I didn't want to be violent and I did not want to participate in any war -- especially the Iraq War for political reasons. But then, that I couldn't aim a gun at anybody and pull the trigger and that, ultimately, that is what I would be doing if I stayed in the marines. I had the option -- because I was gay, I had the option to get out under Don't Ask, Don't Tell. And everybody knew I was gay, everybody thought I was gay. It wouldn't have been difficult. But my issue wasn't that I was being oppressed it was that I was being asked to oppress others. And I felt that it would be more honest to get out under conscientious objection. So I started work on that. I went back to San Francisco and participated in the shut down before the war began and kept on protesting and was speaking out anonymously. But then there wasn't very -- despite all of the rallies that were happening every weekend, despite, you know, all of the worldwide mobilizations and all of the people that were in the streets, the media wasn't paying attention to anybody. And I believe the difference between 2003 and the war began, it was as if everybody in the United States agreed with it -- despite the fact that I was living in San Francisco and clearly people were not happy that the war was happening. So I guess I just talked to people and I decided that I would become a public war resister. And I was the first person to do it. And, you know, the next several months, traveling the country -- I was based in New Orleans -- and I traveled the country. I was eventually sent to jail. That was the long story.
Eddie Falcon is a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War and he writes about the current project that he and others are working on

TV notes,
NOW on PBS debuts its latest episode Friday on most PBS stations and this one examines:
The Pentagon estimates that as many as one in five American soldiers arecoming home from war zones with traumatic brain injuries, many of whichrequire round-the-clock attention. But lost in the reports of thesereturning soldiers are the stories of family members who often sacrificeeverything to care for them. On Friday, November 20 at 8:30 pm (checklocal listings), NOW reveals how little has been done to help thesefamily caregivers, and reports on dedicated efforts to support them.
Washington Week also begins airing on many PBS stations tonight (and throughout the weekend, check local listings) and joining Gwen around the roundtable are John Dickerson (CBS News, Slate), Doyle McManus (Los Angeles Times), David Sanger (New York Times) and Karen Tumulty (Time magazine). Meanwhile Bonnie Erbe will sit down with Avis Jones-Deweever, Page Gardner, and Tara Setmayer to discuss the week's events on PBS' To The Contrary. Check local listings, on many stations, it begins airing tonight. And turning to broadcast TV, Sunday CBS' 60 Minutes offers:
The Cost of DyingMany Americans spend their last days in an intensive care unit, subjected to uncomfortable machines or surgeries to prolong their lives at enormous cost. Steve Kroft reports. Watch Video
WitnessRecently freed after four months of interrogation and torture at the hands of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, Newsweek reporter Maziar Bahari tells his story to Bob Simon and writes about his ordeal in the next issue of Newsweek.
Cameron's AvatarMorley Safer gets the first broadcast look at how "Titanic" director James Cameron created his $400 million 3D fantasy "Avatar." Watch Video
60 Minutes, Sunday, Nov. 22, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

the christian science monitorjane arraf
the new york timesthe asia timessami moubayedwaleed ibrahimsuadad al-salhyaseel kamidavid alexanderdeepa babingtonsami nakhoultodd easthamreuters
60 minutescbs newspbsnow on pbsto the contrarybonnie erbenprthe diane rehm showwashington week
nora barrows friedmanflashpoints

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Ahnuld goes to Iraq, abortion, etc.

Thursday! Almost the weekend. :D I am so looking forward to this weekend. I'm tired, long week, my lips are chapped, I'm sleepy, you name it. The weekend can't get here quick enough for me.

People go to Iraq all the time and, to be honest, it often seems like, if they're politicians, they're just doing it to get some publicity. As Ann noted last night ("Arnold visits Iraq"), Ahnuld went to Iraq.

Iraq 2

So good for him, as Ann pointed out. Not a fan of his politics but good for him. I don't see why he'd need publicity -- he's probably the most famous governor in the country (at least since Sarah Palin stepped down if not before). So he went for whatever reasons but I don't think publicity was one of them. And it made a lot of people happy, check out the photo above.

The Senate passed a bill this week which is supposed to be a HUGE improvement over the House's bill. Is it? This is from NOW:

I want to make sure you saw my first email about the disastrous anti-abortion provision in the House health care reform bill, and give you an update.
The Senate version of the health care bill, released last night, purports to be less harsh, but make no mistake: the anti-abortion provisions of this bill are harmful to women. What's worse, we know there will be an attempt to amend the Senate bill to go all the way with a provision mirroring the House's Stupak-Pitts Amendment.
We are pulling out all the stops to prevent Stupak-like language from being added to the Senate bill. But we can't continue our critical work without
your help.
NOW chapters around the country are rallying and demonstrating, phoning, writing and emailing their Senators. Our message is simple: keep abortion safe, legal, and accessible to every woman. Anti-abortion measures have no place in health care reform!
Please contribute today -- we need
your support now before these harmful anti-abortion provisions are allowed to be passed in the name of health care reform.
For justice and equality,
Terry O'Neill

NOW President

So read that over and get that despite the claims of a lot of liars, the Senate version is not any better. Not at all. Do you realize how much lying it's taken to pass a bill in the House and one in the Senate?

Is that not insane?

I can't believe this s**t. This is beyond belief. It's as though we voted a Republican into the White House. I'm not joking. As my mother has noted, the one good part of the administration is the State Department. And from the State Department, here's a section of "Women: Interview With Lois Romano of the Washington Post" with US Ambassador at Large for Global Women's Issues Melanne Verveer:

QUESTION: Welcome Melanne Verveer, Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women's Issues. Thanks for joining us today.

AMBASSADOR VERVEER: It's my pleasure, Lois.

QUESTION: This is a new position.


QUESTION: So what took us so long to send this sort of message to the international community that this is a priority for the United States?

AMBASSADOR VERVEER: Well, I think we have had some progressive steps over the years. Back in the '90s, there as the formation of the Women's Office. There was a strong commitment from the Congress, from many in the Congress. So there was a Women's Office here. It functioned up until this time, really. It had a lot to do with the preparations for the Beijing Forth World UN Conference. We're ramping up to its fifteenth anniversary, but, really, it's been evolutionary because if you look back to the '90s, not too long ago, there weren't even cables written from posts about what was happening on issues of concern to women that were really matters for our foreign policy consideration.
So, in many ways, we've come a long way, and we've come to a point where President Obama and Secretary Clinton clearly recognize that these are issues that matter a great deal to our foreign policy, that it's hard to imagine how we're going to respond to challenges, whether they're economic or they're matters of security, matters of governance, the environment, if we don't have women participating at all sectors of society.
So it's an effort to truly integrate these concerns into the overall operations of the State Department, and, really, when you look at it fundamentally, they are about women, uniquely affect women, but they really are about the kind of world we want to create. So they're much larger, and it gives us an opportunity to really focus in a way that can be a resource to all of the Departments here.

QUESTION: Your larger message is the empowerment of women, both economically through education, through, you know, political elections. Are these western notions, though, that we're trying to impose on other countries that are not ready?

AMBASSADOR VERVEER: No, they're not western notions, and, you know, what's so interesting is that in so many places around the world, women may not know what was in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which recognizes that all of us are created equal, and we are human beings, and our dignity is protected by these rights.
But they do know deep inside of them, they shouldn't be victims of abuse, they should have the right to participate in the political and economic lives of their society, the right to go to school, and what's happening in places that may be the most hostile environments are what women are doing in those places aided by men and through NGOs, through governments and other ways. They are actually bringing about change.
So, for example, in Morocco, the Family Code was reformed. It took years of struggle because there were many who said it was hostile to their religious values, that it was inappropriate, and yet women and the good men at their sides struggled with them; some were imprisoned, but they finally made it happen. And what they did is they realized that their opponents were saying that this was contrary to their religious values, and the women said, "No. These are our religious values. Our religion doesn't oppose the kinds of things that we are trying to make happen."
And when the family law reform in Morocco was proclaimed, for example, and it said women had the right to divorce, there was, beneath the provision of that code, a Koranic verse that supported it, and then it would say right to custody of the children, another Koranic verse, demonstrating in that society that these were values that went hand in hand, and those who try to say otherwise were really out of step.
So, today, they're making progress. They're training judges. They're informing women in the rural areas of their rights, but this is all done from within that society.

QUESTION: You are dealing with on a daily basis developing countries where there are entrenched cultural attitudes that marginalize women and diminish women. How can you move your argument forward when you can't even get some of these countries to prosecute some of the, you know, violators, like in the Congo where you've had 14,000 reports of rape and 280-something prosecutions?

AMBASSADOR VERVEER: You're right, Lois. Sometimes it's really tough, and you've probably raised one of the most difficult situations anyplace, and that is the tremendous violations, that kind of abuse, and raping used as a tool of the armed conflict and what is resulting. And the conflict goes on more than a decade now. There is tremendous physical and mental and, certainly, every other kind of damage done to the victims of this, and what we have to do is we have to operate at every level.
We operate at the United Nations, and a series of resolutions have been passed. And one that Secretary Clinton just worked to strengthen on a U.S.-proposed resolution in the Security Council several weeks ago, that was unanimously adopted to create a Special Representative of the Secretary-General to really go in and deal with these kinds of instances of sexual violence against women and to create a pool of experts who can be placed in a country before the worst happens, to look at all kinds of issues from impunity to other related problems.
But the UN is one way. Through our aid and assistance programs is another way. We've got--you know, Howard Wolpe in this case is the Special Envoy for the Great Lakes trying to bring countries of interest together in the region and beyond the region to look at the political issues.
After the Secretary's trip there, she committed to a series of interventions dealing with the impunity, with corruption, with other accountable--accountability issues that clearly need to be put in place that this is going to change. So it's operating on many, many levels. It is a difficult process, but it is one in which we are really trying to impact in a positive way. But, oftentimes, these are very, very tough issues.

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

Thursday, November 19, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, the 'intended' elections remain up in the air, the US State Dept ignores warnings on refugees, another Iraqi is sentenced to execution, and more.

Starting with the 'intended' January elections in Iraq which are in question as a result of the veto by Iraq's Sunni vice president Tariq al-Hashemi.
Waleed Ibrahim, Suadad al-Salhy, Aseel Kami and Deepa Babington (Reuters) reports that the MPs are stating presently they intend to ignore his objection and just revote on the same draft law -- while exploring whether or not he has the 'power' to veto. This will reportedly take place on Saturday. Abu Dhabi's the National condems al-Hashemi's action in an editorial, "Mr al Hashemi has claimed that his veto was in defence of the constitution, but that is seriously in doubt. Even his right to a veto is dubious as the constitutional provisions regulating the presidency council state that all its decisions must be unanimous. This was not the case here. If anything, it appeared to be motivated by blind sectarian interest, which is all the more shameful considering the effort it took to overcome those same interests and pass the law in the first place." But the paper's Phil Sands and Nizar Latif report that Iraqi exiles are ecstatic over al Hashemi's move and quotes Jalil Abu Arshad stating (from Syria), "I fully support the need to give more seats to exiles. The .parliament agreed to have one MP representing each 100,000 Iraqis and nobody can believe that the seven or so seats that would be chose by refugees is enough. There are millions of Iraqis with no choice but to live outside the country and they have the right to a say in choosing the next government. This is a matter of democratic principles, it has nothing to do with Sunni, Shia or Kurd."

On Democracy Now! today pampered Raed Jarrar joined Amy Goodman for a segment of non-stop spinning. Baby Raed treated Iraqi refugees as an afterthought, a footnote. But then Baby Raed's never wanted for a damn thing his entire life. And the spoiled candy ass sure does spin so very well. Here's Raed revealing that his tiny, limp brain doesn't allow him to read:

Now, unfortunately, the Obama administration -- in the beginning, it was good in being vocal and clear about the withdrawal being time-based, not conditions-based, which is the main difference between the Obama plan and the Bush plan. Bush talked for six years about how the US will leave when conditions permit. But Obama talked about a timetable for withdrawal that is not conditions-based, and that's why his plan had a lot of support in the US and Iraq.
Poor, stupid Raed, apparently play-acting tires him out. Reality, Barack always talked conditions based. Raed was too busy self-stroking to posters of Barry O to deal with reality but those of us who aren't WHORES knew reality some time ago. Let's drop back to the January 15th snapshot -- before Barack was even sworn in:

Elisabeth Bumiller and Thom Shanker (New York Times) report on the US military commanders contingency plan for Iraq. Last month Bumiller and Shanker reported on the military commanders presenting a partial drawdown of US troops in Iraq on a slower scale than Barack's 'pledge' of 16 month withdrawal (of "combat" troops only). No objections were raised over the timeframe by the president-elect but, in case objections are registered in the immediate future, they've come up with an alternate plan they could implement. This calls for a high of 8,000 a month (more likely four to six thousand) to be pulled. Using the high figure, 48,000 US service members could be out of Iraq (with at least 30,000 of that number redeployed to Afghanistan) in six months. That would still leave close to 100,000 US troops in Iraq. And there is no full withdrawal planned by Barack. That is why he refused to promise that, if elected, all US troops would be out of Iraq by the end of his first term (2012). Of course, Barack also rushed to assure the Times (2007) that he would easily halt any drawdown and rush more troops back into Iraq (and no words to declare this a temporary measure) when he sat down with Michael Gordon and Jeff Zeleny (see this Iraq snapshot and Third's article and the actual transcript of the interview -- a transcript Tom Hayden should have read before humiliating himself in public, then again Tom-Tom seems to enjoy public humiliation). So the article tells you that the military's preparing for all possibilities . . . except the possibility the American people want (and some foolishly believe Barack ever promised) full withdrawal of Iraq. That is not an option the military even considers.
"In the beginning," Raed? Before Baby Jarar Jarar grabs his crayola to do another one of those laughable e-mails, let's note that the "this Iraq snapshot" links back to
November 2, 2007. Yes, before Barack was even the Democratic Party nominee, he was explaining any subtracting of troops (not a full withdrawal -- he never promised that outside of campaign slogans) would be conditions based. From the November 2, 2007 snapshot:

So let's be clear that the 'anti-war' Obama told the paper he would send troops back into Iraq. Furthermore, when asked if he would be willing to do that unilaterally, he attempts to beg off with, "We're talking too speculatively right now for me to answer." But this is his heavily pimped September (non)plan, dusted off again, with a shiny new binder. The story is that Barack Obama will NOT bring all US troops home. Even if the illegal war ended, Obama would still keep troops stationed in Iraq (although he'd really, really love it US forces could be stationed in Kuwait exclusively), he would still use them to train (the police0 and still use them to protect the US fortress/embassy and still use them to conduct counter-terrorism actions.

Facts is hard for Baby Raed. Someone change his diaper, he's looking cranky.

Raed does what Amy loves her guests to do: Channel spirits from the Land of Fantasy. Having no facts, Raed starts offering fantasies of why the vice president vetoed the election law. Naturally, since Raed wants the election law, the vice president must be evil and full of malice to do something Raed doesn't approve of. Amy laps that s**t up because, after all, this is the Crazy who, in Decmeber 2003, was broadcasting across the air waves -- with fellow lunatic John Nichols -- that Hillary would take over the 2004 DNC convention in an attempt to grab that year's presidential nomination. It takes a lot of crazy to live in Amy Goodman's world and Raed's crazy enough to qualify as a next-door neighbor.

Raed's real tight with CODESTINK -- which we all know isn't a peace group (by their actions, they revealed themselves) -- so he spins for Barry and states that the US military withdrew from all Iraqi cities at the end of June. The bases? Raed doesn't want to think about them, that would require work and the only work most could picture him doing is deciding which photo of Barry to place on his pillow while he humps the bed to climax each night. Hey, anyone remember when Raed was 'informing' that the 'surge' was really going to be used to attack Shi'ite militias? Oh, that fact-free, wacky child. Kisses, Raed, kisses.

Also making an ass out of himself is Baha al-Araji who has given multiple statements to the press today (they may or may not print them tomorrow). The Shi'ite who serves on Iraq's Constitutional Court states/rules (depending upon which outlet he's speaking to) that Tariq al-Hashmi doesn't have the power to veto the election law. Now that would toss the issue up in the air and require examination but chatty al-Araji goes on to weaken his own case by blathering on about how his own (al-Araji) deciding was based on what al-Hashmi objected to. That would undercut al-Araji's alleged conclusion. Either the presidential council has the power to veto or they don't -- it doesn't matter what their reasoning is. They possess the power or they don't. At every other point, the council's possessed this power. Most outlets will probably ignore the ravings of al-Araji because the Parliament's taking up the issue on Saturday. Today at the Pentagon, US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates spoke on the subject of the veto and where things stand currently, "And we hope that the concerns that have been expressed can be resolved quickly and a -- and new legislation passed to that the election can take place within the constitutional framework, meaning before the end of January."

Al Jazeera interviewed (link is video) Tariq al-Hashemi.

Tariq al-Hashemi: What I have done in fact is based on my Constitutional obligation. When I discovered there was a major loophole, it's our duty -- according to the Constitution -- to try to make some sort of remedy on a legal basis and that is what I have done today.

Kamahl Santamaria: Okay, so you've done it according to the Constitution. You've done what you say is legal. My question to you though is the repercussions of this. If this election can't happen as it is supposed to happen by January the 31st, then what happens? It is a huge opportunity lost for Iraq.
Well I don't think that this sort of amendment is going to defer the timetable of the commission. I made a thorough discussion with the commission staff the day before yesterday. I very much assured that all logistic had been already covered, action had been taken, so just to make this amendment is going to take one or two days, is not going to make any major shift to the timetable that has been agreed upon.

Kamahl Santamaria: But what's interesting is I spoke to a member of the electoral commission only an hour ago. He said everything's off, they're not pressing on with anything, of course it's been thrown into doubt.

Tariq al-Hashemi: I'm not -- I'm not agree. I think this announcement is not based on any -- on any acceptable ground because, as I told you in fact, I-I-I had a lengthy discussion the day before yesterday. I checked everything and the chairman of the commission told me specifically that all action being taken, all what we need in fact to press the button on the form which will be according to number of seats and this could be sorted out within hours.
Kamahl Santamaria: Why is five-percent, the sticking point of five-percent for Iraqis in exile, Iraqis abroad, why is five-percent not enough?

Tariq al-Hashemi: Well five-percent, in fact, if you just -- if you just reflect it to a number of seats -- we are talking a number not exceeding, in no way, seven seats. Seven seats according to Article 49 of the Constitution doesn't mean anything. According to the text of this article, we have to ensure that each 100,000 Iraqis, whether they are living inside or out -- or outside Iraq, they should be entertained by one seat. So seven seats doesn't entertain the least figure which ministry of migration has maintained time being. The number of Iraqis outside of-of Iraq which has been recorded as per Ministry of Migration is one-million-five hundred. If you're talking NGOs, international human rights, this figure could reach to 4.5 million. So if we are allocating only seven seats, this means that we are entertaining 700,000 Iraqis and ignored 800,000.

If you paid attention, not only did Amy Goodman not book anyone to present the side above, it was never addressed. Just nutty conspiracy theories from Raed. Amy calls it "public affairs" -- no one knowledgable would use that term.

Monday's snapshot noted the assassinations of the Sahwa members in Sadan village and that the assassins were said to be wearing Iraqi forces uniforms. Aswat al-Iraq reports Tariq al-Hashemi declared at a Wednesday news conference, "What happened in Abu-Ghraib two days ago is that groups in army uniform arrested 17 people from their houses, then killed them with cold blood in a nearby ceremony." Staying with the topic of Sahwa, we're dropping back to the March 30th snapshot:

Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) explained Saturday, "16 people were injured (seven Sahwa members, four Iraqi soldiers and four civilians) after clashes broke out between the Iraqi army and Sahwa members in Fadhil neighborhood in downtown Baghdad around 2 p.m. The clashes broke out during an operation of the Iraqi army to arrest the leader of Fadhil Sahwa and one of his deputies. Five Iraqi soldiers were kidnapped in the incident." McClatchy's Leila Fadel added Adel Mashhadani was the arrest target and that the arrest of him (as well as an assistant) "heightened fears among Sunnis that the Iraqi government plans to divide and disband the movements now that its taken control of all but a few thousands of the 94,000 members across the country."

Adel Mashhadani is in today's news cycle. The
Telegraph of London reports that he has been "condemned to death" for an alleged kidnapping and murder. John Leland (New York Times) adds that he has his defenders and detractors and that rumors swirl including: "Many Fadhil residents said that Mr. Mashhadani was not in police custody but was in Turkey, and that the courts announced the sentence to incite Sunni violence and justify a government crackdown. Some said the plan was led by Iranians in the government." Larry Johnson (Seattle PostGlobal) reports, "Iraq is planning to excute up to 126 women by the end of the year. At least 9 may be hanged with the next two weeks. Human rights goupt say the only crime committed by many of these women was to serve in the government of Saddan Hussein. Others, according to human rights groups like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, were convicted of common crimes based on confessions that were the result of torture." Last September, Amnesty International released a report [PDF format warning] entitled "A Thousand People Face The Death Penalty In Iraq" which noted that the country "now has one of the highest rates of executed in the world" and:

Defendants commonly complain that "confessions" were extracted from them under torture during pre-trial interrogation, often when they were held incommunicado in police stations or detention facilities controlled by the Ministry of Interiror. These "confessions" are then often used as evidence against them at their trials, and are accepted by the courts without taking any or adequate steps to investigate defendants' allegations of torture. Defendants also complain that they are not able to choose their own defence lawyers; those tried before the CCCI [Central Criminal Court of Iraq] on capital charges have defence lawyers appointed by the court if they are unable to pay for defence counsel, but the quality of such representation is low. Some lawyers refuse to represent defendants accused of "terrorism", mostly Sunni Muslims, fearing reprisals by armed milita groups linked to Shi'a political parties represented in the Iraqi Council of Representatives (parliament).

Back in November of 2006,
Brian Bennett (Time magazine) reported on the "glitches and logistical snafus" in the executions including a man hanged September 6th -- the rope broke and he fell fifteen feet and declared "Allah saved me! Allah saved me!" while a debate took place among officials for forty minutes over whether it was divine intervention or not. In October of 2008, Robert Fisk (Independent of London) reported on the executions and quoted an unnamed British official who explained a hanging recently observed, "They made him stand on the bench, put the rope round his neck and pushed him off. But he jumped on to the floor. He could stand up. So they shortened the length of the rope and got him back on teh bench and pushed him off again. It didn't work. They started digging into the floor beneath the bench so that the guy would drop far enough to snap his neck. They dug up the tiles and the cement underneath. But that didn't work. He could still stand up when they pushed him off the bench. So they just took him to a corner of the cell and shot him in the head."

"The reports already out," declared Michael H. Posner this afternoon to US House Rep Jim Costa. "Those designations will happen in the next few months. The human rights -- the broader human rights report is just a factual summary." Posner, the Assistant Secretary for Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor at the US State Dept, was appearing before the US House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia. The report he was refering to was the State Dept's
International Religious Freedom Report which was released October 26, 2009.

On Iraq, the State Dept's publication notes:

At the end of the reporting period, national identity cards continued to note the holder's religion, which has been used as a basis for discrimination; however, passports did not note religion.
Law No. 105 of 1970 prohibits the Baha'i Faith, and a 2001 resolution prohibits the Wahhabi branch of Islam. Although provisions on freedom of religion in the new Constitution may supersede these laws, no court challenges have been brought to have them invalidated, and no legislation has been proposed to repeal them.
In April 2007 the Ministry of Interior's Nationality and Passport Section canceled Regulation 358 of 1975, which prohibited the issuance of a nationality identity card to those claiming the Bahai' Faith. In May 2007 a small number of Baha'is were issued identity cards. The Nationality and Passport Section's legal advisor stopped issuance of the cards thereafter, claiming Baha'is had been registered as Muslims since 1975 and citing a government regulation preventing the conversion of "Muslims" to another faith. Without this official citizenship card, Baha'is experience difficulty registering their children for school and applying for passports. Despite the cancellation of the regulation, Baha'is whose identy records were changed to "Muslim" after Regulation 358 was instituted in 1975 still could not change their identity cards to indicate their Baha'i faith, and their children were not recognized as Baha'is.
A March 2006 citizenship law specifically precludes Jews from regaining citizenship if it is ever withdrawn.
[. . .]
There were allegations that the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) engaged in discriminatory behavior against religious minorities. Christians and Yezidis living north of Mosul claimed that the KRG confiscated their property without compensation and that it began building settlements on their land. Assyrian Christians alleged that the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP)-dominated judiciary in Ninewa routinely discriminated against non-Muslims and failed to enforce judgments in their favor. There were reports that Yezidis faced restrictions when entering the KRG and had to obtain KRG approval to find jobs in areas within Ninewa Province administred by the KRG or under the security protection of the Peshmerga.
There were also allegations that the KRG exhibited favoritism toward the Christian religious establishment, and it was alleged that on February 17, 2008, KRG authorities arrested and held incommunicado for four days an Assyrian blogger, Johnny Khoshaba Al-Rikany, based on articles he had posted attacking corruption in the church.
Yezidi and Shabak political leaders alleged that Kurdish Peshmerge forces regularly committed abuses against and harassed their communities in Ninewa Province. Districts that are within the security control of the Peshmerga include Sinjar, Sheikhan, Ba'asheq (sub-district of Mosul), and Bartalla (sub-district of Hamdaniya). Minority leaders alleged that Kurdish forces were intimidating minority communities to identify themselves as Kurds and support their inclusion in the KRG. Yezidi political representatives also reported that because of their religious affiliation, they were not allowed to pass through security checkpoints in areas controlled by Kurdish Peshmerga as they traveled from Baghdad to their communities in northern Iraq.
The KRG denied allegations that it was behind violent incidents directed at Christians and other minorities. Moreover, despite such allegations, many non-Muslims reside in northern Iraq and the KRG area, and there were reports that some sought refuge there from other parts of the country where pressures to conform publicly to narrow interpretations of Islamic tenets were greater. In February 2009, the IOM estimated that there were 19,100 internally displaced families in the Ninewa Plain and that 43,595 internally displaced families were located in the Kurdistan region.

In reply to a question from US House Rep Bob Inglis today, Posner said there were three things the US government could do to support religious communities being targeted around the world:

1) Be very viligant when religious communities are targeted and in trouble.

2) The US government can help amplify their voices.

3) The US government can provide direct, material, financial support.

With regards to the US government speaking out against targeting of religious communities, Posner declared that "governments take notice of that" and that "it is always valuable for us to speak out."

Religious minorities are among Iraq's refugee population. The genocide and ethnic cleansing of Iraq led to millions of refugees -- some internal, some external.
Julien Barnes-Dacey (Christian Science Monitor) reports that "up to 2 million" of the external refugees "remain stranged in neighboring countries" while the United Nations faces shortfalls in funding. As Barnes-Dacey reports, that has not prevented Iraqi refugees from continuing to leave Iraq. One example of that is Abu Ali who entered Syria in August and states, "I had to leave: they say there's security, but on the ground it's a different story. They still kill you because of your ID papers." As a backdrop to the crisis, the US State Dept's Eric Schwartz wrapped up a multi-day bad will tour today. Over the weekend, Schwartz made the usual ass of himself including when AP interviewed him and, despite the fact that various humanitarian organizations have issued studies this year pointing out how little the Baghdad government or 'government' has done for refugees, he declared 'strides have been made'. And the 'answer' is for Iraqi refugees to return to Iraq -- despite the fact that the Red Cross and the United Nations both have stated that that Iraq is not 'safe' enough for refugees to begin returning nor is that country able to handle a mass return. Wednesday he was in Syria which estimates they currently house 1.2 million Iraqi refugees. Khaled Yacoub Oweis (Reuters) reports that Schwartz declared the influx of Iraqi refugees to the US this current fiscal year would be "substantial." And Schwartz declares it will be "at least 17,000." That's substantial? By whose measurement? Or have we forgotten Schwartz promised 20,000 would be settled in FY '09 -- a little over 18,000 were re-settled in the US for that fiscal year. So 'substantial' is now even less than his predications for the last fiscal year? Phil Sands (The National) reports:

Abdul Rahman Attar, the president of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, criticised the international community and the Iraqi government, saying both were failing in their duty to care for displaced Iraqis. And he cautioned there were dangerous implications in four million people continuing to live as refugees, many of them struggling to cope with increasing levels of poverty.
"Perhaps the world is underestimating the significance of the Iraqi refugees issue," he said. "It is not a short-term matter. We are talking about medium- and long-term impacts. It has already been six years or more for some refugees and they need greater support. "The international community should not allow its attention to drift easily away from the refugees. This issue is a bomb that can still explode at any time."

It would certainly seem that Eric Schwartz is underestimating the significance. But the State Dept has always done that with Iraq -- especially with regards to Iraq's LGBT community and the continued assault on the community. Tuesday,
Kelvin Lynch (Dallas Examiner) was reporting that Iraqi LGBT was estimating the number of LGBT men and women murdered in Iraq since the start of the illegal war is 720 and Lynch observes, "But the big question continues to be, why hasn't the U.S. government done anything to help?" Taylor Luck (Jordan Times) reports on the Sabian Mandaeans who left Iraq due to the violence and are currently in Jordan:

Fatwas were issued declaring Mandaens kuffar, or infidels. Mandaens, known for their gold and jewellery craftsmanship, became frequent targets of kidnappings, with ransoms set as high as $100,000.
Since the US-led invasion, the Mandaean Human Rights Group has recorded around 180 killings, 275 kidnappings and 298 assualts and forced conversions within Iraq.

Jake Armstrong (Pasadena Weekly) notes, it's day 2420 of the Iraq War. And as the war continues, so does the violence.


Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad sticky bombing which injured one "governmental employee". Deutsche Presse-Agentur reports a Mosul roadside bombing which claimed the lives of 3 police officers (five more injured).


Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports Mohammed Aziz Al Shamari was injured in a Baghdad assassination attempt on his life (he is "an advisor for the Iraqi government"). Deutsche Presse-Agentur reports 1 man shot dead in Mosul with another left wounded.

Please note, Reuters has filed no story on violence today. That is why you do not use ICCC for an Iraqi body count -- ICCC only goes by Reuters, 'their' count is a tally of Reuters.

Meanwhile in the United States,
Gidget Funetes (Navy Times) reports that Ray Mabus, Secretary of the Navy, "rejected a clemency request from a Marine infantry squad leader convicted of killing an Iraqi man in 2006, a case that drew two jury convictions and five guilty please from seven other members of his squad." This is the case where US service members ("the Penleton 8") plotted to kill an Iraqi and went to his home April 26, 2006 only to find him not at home and instead grabbed another Iraqi whom they bound, dragged and shot dead. Jeanette Steele (San Diego Union-Tribune) reports Mabus was asked to review the case in terms of Lawrence Hutchins conviction and eleven year sentence and that Mabus denied Hutchins clemency and "also ordered that four of the other seven defendants in the case be discharged from the military." Mark Nero (LA Examiner) identifies the four, "Marine Lance Cpls. Tyler Jackson, Jerry Shumate and John Jodka III, and Navy Corpsman Melson Bacos were the servicemembers ordered removed. They had been originally been allowed to stay on active duty after serving short jail terms for lesser offenses."

NOW on PBS debuts its latest episode Friday on most PBS stations and this one examines:

The Pentagon estimates that as many as one in five American soldiers arecoming home from war zones with traumatic brain injuries, many of whichrequire round-the-clock attention. But lost in the reports of thesereturning soldiers are the stories of family members who often sacrificeeverything to care for them. On Friday, November 20 at 8:30 pm (checklocal listings), NOW reveals how little has been done to help thesefamily caregivers, and reports on dedicated efforts to support them.

reuterswaleed ibrahimsuadad al-salhyaseel kamideepa babington
laith hammoudimcclatchy newspapers
leila fadel
the new york timesjohn leland
the seattle postglobelarry johnson
kelvin lynchthe telegraph of london
time magazinebrian bennettthe independent of londonrobert fisk
gidget fuentesjeanette steelesan diego union-tribunemark nero
pbsnow on pbs

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Grab bag

Hump day, hump day! We've got sushi and some movies so we're doing short posts tonight (I hope we are, I didn't ask Elaine.) First up, abortion.

This is from Bonnie Erbe at US News & World Reports:

Now the George Washington University's School of Public Health has released an analysis of the amendment, which says in part:
In view of how the health benefit services industry operates and how insurance product design responds to broad regulatory intervention aimed at reshaping product content, we conclude that the treatment exclusions required under the Stupak/Pitts Amendment will have an industry-wide effect, eliminating coverage of medically indicated abortions over time for all women, not only those whose coverage is derived through a health insurance exchange.
Who's going to be hit hardest? Poor women, that's who. These are the women who are least able to provide for the children they will have to bear and raise due to their lack of coverage for abortion.
If only the burden could be shifted to the people who limit access to abortion, the debate would be over. Let the uber-religious folks (who want to impose their view of "life" on the rest of us) pay for these children including all food, clothing, medical care, education, rent and so on from birth through the age of 18, and they'd stop being so-called pro-life in a skinny minute.
Instead we all have to pay--all taxpayers—in the form of huge taxes for social services. It's a crazy world we inhabit and this is one of the craziest aspects as far as I am concerned.

Meanwhile, foxy coverboy and celebrity Barry O can't stop chatting about his weight, revealing it fluctuates by five pounds. That's one ironed will she-devil, I tell you. I can just see Barry O tearing up the treadmill. Link goes to Politico and they've got video.

And it must be midnight -- like a broken clock, Lieberman's right about twice a day. :D Meredith Shiner (Politico) reports:

Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) said the Senate can't sit back for the Obama administration to investigate the shootings at Ft. Hood, so he’s pushing ahead with a Homeland Security Committee hearing to look into what went wrong before the massacre.
There’s been some tension between members of Congress who want a thorough investigation into the Ft. Hood shootings, but the Obama administration has been hesitant about letting key government officials testify before congressional panels. Lieberman is holding a hearing Thursday on the issue.

This needs to be conducted by the Senate and in the open. It's the only way to ensure that the bulk of Americans will be satisfied a real investigation took place. It needs to be done in the open.

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

Wednesday, November 18, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, the Army's suicide rate for 2009 is already higher than last year, the US Senate explores veterans employment, the Iraq election law has met a veto, Anderson Cooper 360 began their 4-part series on the murder of 4 Iraqis last night, and more.

"These are difficult times for many Americans," declared US Senator Daniel Akaka today, "with an unemployment number higher than it has been for 20 years. When the number of those who have given up looking for work because they believe none is available is combined with those who are only able to find part-time employment, the extent of our challenge is staggering. For our nation's veterans, especially those who have recently separated from active duty, the search for a job can be particularly difficult. Skills honed on the battlefield are not easily translated to a resume for the civilian job market. Add to that the need for a readjustment to civilian life and the problem is compounded."

Akaka was chairing the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee's hearing entitled Easing The Burdens Through Employment. To underscore the problems with employment, Senator Patty Murray explained that the citizen-soldiers of the 81st Brigade Combat Team of the Washington Army National Guard "just returned this summer after serving their country honorably in Iraq," that there were approximately 2300 in the brigade "about 1/2 of them tried to get direct job placement or job training" but "only 20% have been able to get a job so far."

The first panel was the Assistant Secretary for Veterans Employment and Training from the US Dept of Labor, Raymond Jefferson who noted that this was his 100th day on the job in his current position andh touted the Dept of Labor's Veterans Employment and Training Service (VETS) in his opening remarks. He also noted that the veterans population included under-served populations such as (from prepared remarks, except for a nod to Senator Jon Tester, more or less the same as what he stated to the committee) "Native American Veterans, especially those on tribal lands, are one such population. [Labor] Secretary [Hilda] Solis hosted a Summit of Tribal Leaders at the Department of Labor earlier this month that VETS participated in. We discussed the challenges facing Native American Veterans and potential solutions. This event began the process of better serving this community. VETS will also be participating in a number of major Native American outreach events in 2010. Furthermore, we are conducting a study on the employment needs of Native American Veterans living on tribal lands to identify best practices for serving this population." Another population he noted was "wounded, ill or injured" veterans which the VETS program is mainly addressing via
REALifelines and America's Heroes At Work. We'll note one exchange from this panel for two reason. (A) I don't think we've noted Senator Mark Begich in any hearing before. (B) Because the exchange resulted in some laughter.

Senator Mark Begich: Let me, if I can add, expand a little bit on, Senator Tester commentary. Being from Alaska, you know we also have a very strong rural component of our state but also of Indian country can you -- I was listening carefully to what you were describing to Senator Tester. What it sounds like, and I don't want to put words in your mouth, but I -- and I want this to be viewed as positive -- that there has not been an aggressive approach in reaching out to rural communities, especially American Indian country. Is that a fair statement?

Raymond Jefferson: Senator, when I took office 100 years ago, and I've assessed it -- [Laughs] 100 days ago,

Senator Mark Begich: 100 days ago.

Senator Jon Tester: I like the way he looks for 100 years.

Raymond Jefferson: It's been a lot of midnights.

Senator Mark Begich: It feels like 100 years, I know.

Raymond Jefferson: But, senator, I'm just not satisified.

Senator Mark Begich: Okay.

Raymond Jefferson: I realize that with the resources we have, we have to work. Working harder isn't going to cut it, I think we have to work more innovatively. And there's two key components. The first is the dialogue we're having with the Native American veterans and the tribal leaders and also, as Senator Tester alluded to, broadening that to the representatives of the rural community to find out from them what will best serve them. And then what I'm looking at is parternships, partnerships with other agencies and specifically non-profits and some of these new veteran volunteer initiatives can be helpful there.

Panel two was composed of
America Works's Peter Wikul (US Navy Capt, retired), Vietnam veteran Dexter Daniel (with Marriott), National Organization On Disability's Helen Tymes, Iraq War veteran Joshua Lawton-Belous (with Oracle) and Lutz Ziob (Microsoft). We'll provide a sample exchange from the second panel.

Chair Daniel Akaka: It seems that one of the themes running through all of your testimonies this morning is mentoring, coaching and hands-on approach to providing assistance. Let me ask each of you to rate this aspect of any program that might be developed in terms of its value and as a factor for success.

Helen Tymes: I'll make a statement on that.

Chair Daniel Akaka: Ms. Thymes.

Helen Tymes: Yes, sir. As far as the effectiveness of our program, it is right now 90% as far as the veterans that we serve and the opportunities that we have assisted to get. We -- we give individualized services to veterans. As far as the transition from being in the military has been stated later and to the civilian sector, many of those skill sets, the individual, the veteran, is not aware of what they are. Because of our education and history and knowledge of the military, we are able to get those skill sets out and come up with resumes that are working resumes, not just a show resume, but something that actually has substance to make that veteran competent for employment and to also help with any other application process there is for education. Our veterans today are facing a lot of mental problems -- PTSD, TBI, a combination of both. This makes the veterans upset, they get angry, have a very low temper tolerance and, because of our services -- because of our personalized services, we're able to assist the veteran with what needs to get accomplished.

Dexter Daniel: I concur with --

Chair Daniel Akaka: Mr. Daniels.

Dexter Daniel: -- Miss Helen. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. What I personally experienced was I was so ashamed when I came home, I just couldn't, you know, really face the reality of wanting to talk to people about my problems and I just didn't reach out. And, you know, the shame that I felt caused me to react in a lot of the ways that I did. Again, I always thank God for MAC VETS (Maryland Center for Veteran's Education and Training 1-410-642-1693) because they reached out in a way that no one else ever had. You know, I was literally in prison and they had a represenative that came around, I was in the cell and, at that time, I knew I was facing a lot. Then an individual came around and found out first and foremost, he's a veteran, number two, this is an availability of a program that we have. Longterm, two year availability to be able to do it, that to me is personalized. Once I got there, the counselors welcomed me with open arms and I still had a lot on my plate at that time. I still had obligations and commitments to the division of parole and probation to come out. They went the extra mile to even talk to my probation agent and the judge, to solidify this one final -- and that's how I felt, one final -- opportunity that I'd have in this life to do good. They gave me my shot and, you know, we've just had a wonderful partnership ever since then. That's the effect that it's had on me.
Chair Daniel Akaka: Mr. Belous?

Joshua Lawton-Belous: Mr. Chairman, as a representative of Oracle corporation, we've found that there are many reasons we don't actually need to ask for money from the federal government to run our wounded warrior program. Mainly because each wounded warrior we take in is a value added proposition for Oracle corporation. They add something to it. And it's a dual mentorship. It's a two-way street on the mentorship role. One is that those who are in the industry need to mentor wounded warriors, soldiers, marines, veterans coming out of the military to explain to them the career path. It's a completely different world when you go inside and understanding it will take some time. There's always that uptick no matter what job you go to where there's a learning curve. But secondly, it behooves veterans to mentor those who are mentoring them to show them 'This is exactly what I learned in the military, this is what I'm capable of doing.' Because, as we find now, only 1/2 of 1% of the population is actually serving in the wars that we are fighting today which means that over time -- and it has already occured where those who are hiring do not understand the valued added proposition that service members can bring to an organization. That, I believe, is the greatest effect of the mentorship program. That way programs that we have today to help veterans transition out of the military will be more successful when the vast majority of senior to mid-level managers are no longer military veterans.

Chair Daniel Akaka: Captain?

Peter Wikul: Chairman Akaka when America Works is racked and stacked against organizations that do similar types of work in the New York area, we consistently rank number one in terms of getting people jobs. People come in the door, we give them mentoring, we give them mentoring. We give them interview skills so that when we get them an interview, they give the right answers to the right questions so they can get them the jobs. We don't get them the jobs, we get them the interviews. They have to get the job and we coach them in that process. If you're a veteran and you need a suit, we get 'em a suit. There's a program to get them a suit. And I have to tell you just recently with in the last two weeks, I went to two veterans homeless shelters in New York City to give a motivational speech and some of these guys are really whipped down and they're broken. And you start talking to them and I try to motivate them and I try to tell them, "Look when we help you get a job, you will get back your self-respect and dignity and-and it will put you on the road to getting an even better job." And so we go there, we go right into the shelters, we talk to them, we give them a speech, and around town, we have a card and it says: "Do you need a job? America Works. If you're a New York City resident and are having difficulty finding a job, call this number and go here. No fee." And we are right in the trenches, we get these people, we bring them in the door . What's amazing is when I first hooked up with this company, which I really find amazing, is you walk in the door at the beginning of the day and it's loaded with people. It's just, you have to fight your way in to get to the offices. And I came back, we went on some sales calls, and I came back about five hours later and I said, "Where are all the people?" And they said, "Out on interviews getting jobs." And so this is what this company does. Against similar companies, we're ranked number one. We get people jobs. We're right on the streets. We're in the trenches. We go to homeless veterans shelters, we talk to the people, we mentor them, we bring them out of their shells, we give them the interview skills and a suit if necessary and we help them restore their dignity and their self-respect so that they can become whole and good American citizens.

Lutz Ziob: To answer your question, Chairman Akka, I believe internships are very important. Occupational success is typically the combination of subject matter expertise. You have to be a good nurse, system manager, but also know how to navigate the world of work, the changing world of work. It's your - your - what you know about your job. The mentorship people that are in the trenches can provide that guidance. The difficulty is they have a day job as well so we need to free up their time and find the opportunity to connect them -- mentor and mentee -- in an effective way.

This was more of a fact finding hearing and Senators Tester and Begich set up time next month with Raymond Jefferson to address concerns for rural veterans and Senator Murray sounded out Lutz Ziob specifically on potential legislation (a bill) she's attempting to draft and plans to bring to the Senate floor next year.

This morning
Anthony Shadid (Washington Post) reported that Tariq al-Hashimi, Iraq's Sunni vice president (they have two vice presidents, one Shia -- Adel Abdul Mehdi, one Sunni) vetoed the election law: "The veto by Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi was the latest wrinkle in growing criticism over the law by the country's biggest minorities, Sunni Arabs and Kurds. Both groups are effectively demanding the allocation of more seats to their blocs in the next parliament, which is almost assured of having a Shiite Muslim majority." In yesterday's snapshot, we noted that the food rations cards being used for the registry was a joke and included a number of reasons why. All Shadid can do is tell you that the food rations cards are overseen by the Trade Ministry. The name we used yesterday -- the one Shadid fails to attach to this story -- is Abdel Falah al-Sudani -- a Nouri appointee, to Minister of Trade, a member of Nouri's own political party and someone who was forced to resign in May of this year over corruption issues. It is not a minor issue when your voter roll was overseen by a minister who has had to resign in disgrace. In real time, Bloomberg News noted that al-Sudani "acknowledged cases of corruption and said the system needed to be revised" in May of this year and that "Iraq's Commission on Public Integrity earlier this month charged nine trade ministry officials with financial and administrative corruption related to the country's food import program." "Financial and administrative corruption related to" what is now being hailed as a legitimate voter roll. CNN added this morning that Tariq al-Hashimi "refused to sing the law without an amendment that would increase the number of seats allocated to refugees, many of whom are Sunnis, from five percent to 15 percent. The Constitution stipulates that every 100,000 Iraqis should have one representative in the country's parliament but al-Hashemi said that refugee numbers are not included in how seats have been calculated." Martin Chulov (Guardian) observes, "However, Hashimi's move has set the scene for a showdown between MPs and the Sunni minority, which increasingly feared it was likely to lose even more political ground. The last election, almost five years ago, was boycotted en masse by Sunnis." Liz Sly and Raheem Salman (Los Angeles Times) provide this context: "Iraq's constitution stipulates that elections must be held by the end of January, and failure to meet that deadline could plunge the country into a constitutional crisis. The vote was originally slated for Jan. 16, but the commission had already said that would be impossible. Hussaini estimated that the latest date on which it can feasibly be held is Jan. 21. It will be impossible to hold the election in the last 10 days of January, Hussaini said, because of the Shiite Ashura holiday, when millions of pilgrims converge on foot on the holy city of Karbala from all over the country and the world. The roads will be clogged, and many Shiites will be away from their home constituencies and unable to vote." Anne Barker (Australia's ABC) reminds that the current Parliament is set to expire by the end of January. So where are things right now? Anthony Shadid and Daniel Dombey (at the Financial Times of London) flip through the memory books to pull this now-forgotten reality back out, "The election deal was only reached after sustained lobbying by Joe Biden, US vice-president, and had been portrayed by the Obama administration as a rare piece of good news from the Middle East and 'critically important' for Iraq's prospects". On today's All Things Considered (NPR), Corey Flintoff examined the latest news.

Corey Flintoff: When President Obama hailed the passage of the law on November 8th, he cited the link between elections and the US withdrawal.

US President Barack Obama (November 8th): This agreement advances the political process that can bring lasting peace and unity to Iraq and allow for the orderly and responsible transition of American combat troops out of Iraq by next September.

Corey Flintoff: US officials have said that if the security situation in Iraq is stable they can begin withdrawing troops 60 days after the election. Iraq's Constitution calls for a new Parliament to be elected by the end of January when the current government's mandate expires.
Flintoff notes that Constitutional crisis could take place but that some MPs state that the Parliament has the authority to extend the term by one month. At the US State Dept today, in the daily press briefing, spokesperson Ian Kelly declared:

We're disappointed at these developments related to the elections law. We urge the Iraqi leaders and Parliament to take quick action to resolve any of the outstanding concerns that have been expressed. And this is so elections can go forward. And these elections, of course are mandated by the Iraqi Constitution. We believe that it's the responsibility of all Iraqi partiest to ensure that the Iraqi people are able to exercsie their democratic right to vote and this election law represent the best way forward for the Iraqi government to be able to consolidate the democratic and political achievements.

The proper response to Kelly's statement was: "Oh, explain that law to us." Naturally, no one embarrassed Kelly with a difficult question -- one his laughable remarks begged for.
Ahmed Rasheed and Deepa Babington (Reuters) quote the Independent High Electoral Commission's chief commissioner Hamdiya al-Hussaini stating, "As a result of the veto, we have decided to stop all our activities and work as we await a final law with a presidential decree that determines the exact date of the election." BBC News quotes Tariq al-Hashemi stating, "I sent a letter to parliament asking for the law to be amended. Parliament said I could veto the contested first article, which is what I have done today. The proposed amendment affords justice to all Iraqis abroad, in all countries, and not just those residing in, or forcefully displaced to, neighbouring countries. Furthermore, the amendment would consecrate the concept of political pluralism and would preclude the monopolisation of the political scene by the strong electoral lists that win the elections." Rod Nordland (New York Times) adds, "Gen. Ray Odierno, the commanding general of U.S. forces, said he Wednesday was still hopeful elections would be held on time, but he added that the military could adapt if there were a delay." Ben Lando (Wall St. Journal) explains, "The election law now appears headed back to parliament, which only approved it after months of sectarian squabbling and heavy U.S. lobbying. The key sticking point in the final weeks of debate was how to carry out the vote in the contested Kirkuk province, claimed by Kurds, Arabs and Turkmen." Li Xianzhi (Xinhua) notes noted gum flapper Nouri al-Maliki whined today that "the veto is a serious threat to the political process." Richard Spencer (Telegraph of London) quotes Nouri whining, "The high national interests were not taken into consideration."

Violence continued today . . .


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad sticky bombing which wounded "a governmental employee". Reuters notes a Garma roadside bombing which left two police officers wounded and, dropping back to last night, a Falluja bicycle bombing which injured one police officer.


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad assassination attempt on Mohammed Aziz Al Shamari ("advisor for the Iraqi government") which left him wounded. Reuters notes a Baquba home invasion which claime dthe life of a Sahwa "leader and his cousin".

Turning to the US,
Nancy A. Youssef (McClatchy's Kansas City Star) reports, "Suicides in teh Army are expected to reach a new high this year, with 140 suspected cases among active-duty soldiers so far, Army officials said Tuesday. This will be the fifth year in a row that grim stastic rose despite an aggressive military campaign to tackle the mental health stigman in the Army." Ann Scott Tyson (Washington Post) also reports on Army Vice Chief of Staff General Peter Chiarelli's press conference: "Substance abuse, which can be related to mental health problems and suicide, is on the rise in the Army, Chiarelli said, and he added that the force is short about 300 substance abuse counselors." Luis Martinez (ABC News) offers a video report here.

Last night
Anderson Cooper 360 (CNN) began the first part in Abbie Boudreau's four-part investigative series on the killing by US forces of four Iraqis. Click here for transcript, here for video. "It's the story," explained Anderson, "about three decorated Army sergeants who killed four Iraqis execution-style on the battlefield. They were convicted of premeditated murder. And they're all serving long sentences at Fort Leavenworth. But, as you're going to see tonight, in war, nothing is cut and dry." Here's an excerpt and note that Joshua Hartson was not charged or tried for any actions related to the murders.

Abbie Boudreau: The Army has a strict policy on detainees. At the time, the rules called for soldiers to drop off detainees at the detainee housing area, of the DHA. Bu tthat didn't happen.

Joshua Hartson: My 1st Sgt comes up to me and pulls me away from everybody. Then he asks me, if -- if we take them to the detainee facility, the DHA, that they're goign to be right back on the streets doing the same thing in a matter of weeks. He asked if I had a problem if we take care of them. And I told him "no."

Abbie Boudreau: And what do you think he meant by that?

Joshua Hartson: To kill them.

Abbie Boudreau: How could you be okay with that?

Joshua Hartson: They were bad guys. If we would have let them go or take them in, we risked the chance of them getting out and killing us, killing other people.

Abbie Boudreau: So, in a convoy of three vehicles, 13 soldiers holding 4 Iraqi detainees headed down this dusty road leading to the canal. 1st Sgt John Hatley was in charge. At the end of this canal, the soldiers lined up the men in their custody. The three leaders, Sgts Hatley, [Joseph] Mayo and [Michael] Leahy, put their .9-millimeter pistols at the back of the detainees' heads, shot and killed them. They left their bodies in the canal. A year later, divers could not find the bodies. For nine months, the soldiers kept the murders a secret. But, in time, the truth came out. Earlier this year, 1st Sgt Hatley, Sgt 1st Class Mayo and Sgt Leahy would be convicted of premeditated murder and conspiracy to commit premeditated murder. All three are in prison at Fort Leavenworth.

The four-part series continues through Friday night. Anderson Cooper 360 airs on CNN at 10:00 pm EST and tonight's report includes an interview with Jamie Leahy who is married to Sgt Michael Leahy.

In non Iraq news,
Ben Smith (Politico) tackles an issue today which I've avoided because (a) it belongs at Third and (b) the 'outside' help Newsweek has so often relied on. Ben Smith notes that women's groups seem dumbfounded on Palin's assertion that Newsweek has treated her in a sexist manner. The idiot Marie Wilson of the laughable White House Project (let's see, they couldn't save a TV show and they let women go down in flames in 2008 -- maybe they should just pack it in) says of the Newsweek cover, "It's much more complicated than sexism." What a piece of trash. She continues that, "What the [Republican] Party was selling, and people were buying -- and what the candidate colluded [in] -- is what shows up in that Newsweek picture. She winked at people, right?" Marie's never winked at people. With her lopsided and semi-disfigured face, a wink would be incredibly frightening.

Marie wants to blame a woman for sexist treatment. In Marie's world, any woman who doesn't follow Marie's rules gets what they deserve. No, it's not feminism. But Marie's not a feminist. Just another unattractive woman who couldn't cut it in the real world and tried to build herself a niche. Terri O'Neill has just made her first IGNORANT move as the head of NOW and she damn well better be aware that after Kim Gandy's misleadership of NOW, we're not in the mood. She better get her s**t together and get it together real damn quick. Her job is not to be a Barack cheerleader, her job is to defend women. She states of the Newsweek cover that it "didn't strike me as horribly offensive" but also claims it is part of a the "basically sexist" world we live in. Terri, what you're willing to live with, other women aren't. And you are no longer an individual, you are the president of NOW so start acting like it.

The photo is offensive since Newsweek previously allowed the wives of employees to screen Barack's cover shot. Or have we all forgotten that? Trophy wives, even smelly ones, don't feel the need to defend women, however, which is how the Newsweek cover began. The cover plays on "How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria?" which Terri O'Neill tries to pass off as a "proto-feminist anthem." Terri needs to get out more. Many a (male) lounge singer has performed that song for decades now and it's about as feminist as Paul Anka's "You're Having My Baby." The cover tag line was snide, the photo choice was snide. That's before you open the magazine. Newsweek's not supposed to be doing opinion journalism in what they present as news (they have columnists who write columns). The cover exists to ridicule and mock Palin and to mock all women. It's no different than when Vanity Fair decided to run a cheesecake photo of Sherry Lansing (a photo from several decades prior). What did that have to do with her job of running a studio (Paramount)? Not a damn thing but teh-hee, look at her body. It was sexism. It's sexism for Newsweek to run the photo of Palin. There's nothing wrong with the photo for Runner's World -- which is the publication Palin posed for. Newsweek ran it to ridicule her and to mock her. And any woman who can't grasp that isn't a feminist.

Flip through the magazine where they will find a 'doll' of Sarah Palin dressed as though she is Britney Spears filming the ". . . Baby One More Time" video. You'll find 'noted' woman hater Christopher Hitchens has contributed an article on Palin. You'll find a sexualized photo -- the same sort that the New York Times used against Hillary's campaign in 2008 -- of Palin speaking in public that strips away her identity and her view to render her a sex object. It's disgusting and Newsweek did it intentionally. I'd thought that could wait until Sunday. Marie's usual idiocy wasn't surprising but Terri's non-response is highly distressing.

Women's groups are not supposed to be in service of the Democrat Party, they're supposed to exist to fight for women's rights.
Ben Smith has another report which will seem familiar to you -- maybe you'll grasp Maxy Blumenthal and Thomas Frank just 'wrote' columns with all the same talking points? Despite the lies, the crowds are turning out for Palin. As Cedric and Wally pointed out last night, polls are showing Palins' more popular than Barack. No woman has to silence her disagreement with Sarah Palin's politics (if she has them -- I do) but she has no business tearing Palin apart and ignoring that the attacks on Palin are attacks on all women. Palin's being attacked in such a scorched earth manner that it damn well effects all women. I honestly don't know why so many women are willing to whore themselves out. Sarah Palin's not yet said there were 57 states in the United States so these cries of her being an "idiot" seem little more than yet another attempt to attack a woman in order to protect Barack -- Barack who, for the record, declared that he had visited that many states. Barack makes idiotic remarks like that and the press (and Saturday Night Live) all play "Lovely robes, Emperor!" Palin does it and she's ripped apart. When Max Blumenthal's father was (wrongly) accused of beating his wife, we were offended (on the left). These days, Sidney's son is one of the people hurling lies non-stop at Sarah Palin. It's ugly and it needs to stop and women damn well need to call it out. Too many of us were silent when it was Hillary, were silent when it became Sarah, were silent when Cynthia McKinney was rendered invisible. It's no longer acceptable to dismiss it as, "That's her problem." If your a woman, it is your problem, it is our problem and we better start calling it out and stop contributing to it.

the washington postanthony shadidthe new york timesrod nordlandcnn
nprall things consideredreutersahmed rasheeddeepa babingtonmartin chulov
the guardian
the los angeles timesliz sly
raheem salman
mcclatchy newspapersmohammed al dulaimy
the wall street journal
ann scott tyson abc newsluis martinez
cnnanderson cooper 360abbie boudreau