Saturday, March 03, 2012

Fringe (Peter walks out on Olivia)

It's the weekend. Am I going to switch from Friday to Saturday? Probably so that I can grab Fringe or Nikita. I blog about those shows. I grabbed Nikita this year, knowing it was on Fridays. Fringe move to Fridays last year. Now there's no way to blog on both on Monday and, more importantly, I really can't get too far behind.

How come? Fox and the CW both are destroying their audiences by refusing to allow you to stream a new episode until 7 days AFTER it airs. So I'm covering the online schedule which is already 7 days behind.

So I probably will try to grab a Saturday instead of a Friday to knock out at least one of the shows. At Hulu right now, you can stream this episode of Fringe.

Remember my hypothesis last week? That Peter was really the Peter we'd always known (yes, we know that) and that the reality he was living in, Earth3, was our reality, the one we knew him in from the first two seasons?

I really think that's what's going on.

On the latest episode, we learned quickly that Olivia3 and Nina3 weren't what they seemed. Olivia was Olivia. However, Nina3 is Nina4 or someone else. She's the evil Nina. The one that Walter and Lincoln spoke to who was acting innocent was the innocent Nina. We found that out when Nina was 'tortured' to get Olivia to activate her powers. Olivia didn't feel a connection to the Nina. She didn't want her tortured but she couldn't light up some light bulbs (the test they wanted her to complete) because there was no connection. She thought it was the drugs (or said so) and asked Nina to give her a memory, insisting she couldn't remember a lot of things clearly.

Meanwhile innocent Nina wants an attorney. I can't believe this. I thought "1" and "2" and "3" would make it less confusing. Now it's even more confusing.

So Peter and Walter and Astrid are trying to find Olivia. Peter and Lincoln find a camera in Olivia's apartment. Then they're trying to get images from an old disc when a Watcher shows up and he's been shot. And then? He's dying. Peter gets Walter to hook him up to a machine so he can enter the Watcher's mind.

There he learns that Olivia2 (the red head who crossed over and pretended to be Olivia) got pregnant with his son Henry (we knew that already, we saw that but he didn't). And that the child died when Peter was erased from allt he timelines. We learned that our Olivia was supposed to have had the child.

The Watcher shows him that and Peter thinks it's 'his' Olivia but I'm saying that his Olivia is the Olivia he's with. That's the real Olivia, the one we got to know in season one.

So evil Nina's trying to figure out what Olivia couldn't light the light bulbs on the panel? Olivia tells her it really has only worked when Peter was around. Evil Nina stages a 'I'm in pain' moment to get pulled out. And then she tells the bad guy what she learned.

The Watcher tells Peter he needs to go home. Peter keeps talking when he needs to shut the f**k up. It's like in that movie In The Spirit when Marlo Thomas tells Elaine May, "No, don't interpret!" May's saying that she saw a flashlight and Marlo's saying, "No, you saw a light."

So Peter's trying to interpret when he should be listening.

I think the Watcher was telling him he was home. As well as go home because the bad guy's going to kidnap you and take you to Olivia.

Which is what happens, he goes home and is kidnapped.

A screen rises on the wall in the room Olivia's in. She sees Nina supposedly locked up to some device. And she sees the bad guy. And she sees Peter with some henchman holding a knife to his throat. The bad guy says they have the room Olivia's in bugged and that's how they knew she needed Peter.

Make the lights light and Peter will be fine.

Olivia concentrates and one light after another goes on and then she goes after the main electricity. Nina starts asking what are you doing? Olivia tells her that she's a fake and Olivia knew from the made up memory Nina told her.

Olivia starts causing sparks killing one the henchmen bystanders. Nina, the bad guy and 1 henchman go running off.

Olivia comes into the room and grabs Peter. She's so glad to see him.

Evil guy and Nina and henchman are in the hallway where evil guy has set up this transporter thing to get them to another reality.

And Evil guy sends henchman back for Olivia and Peter, to distract them.

Olivia's gone into a seizure and Peter's trying to help him when henchman shows up. He and Peter get into a serious fight. Then, just as Olivia struggles to stand, aims a gun and yells FREEZE, Peter wins the fight.

They go running after the Evil Guy. He tells Nina to cross over and Nina makes it. Then Olivia pulls her gun on him and tells him to freeze. He ignores her and she shoots him, right through the throat. No great blood loss.

He says it's a benefit of being put back together atomically.

Then he leaves.

Peter calls for paramedics for Olivia. And then he tells her he has to find his Olivia (I say taht's his Olivia) and that it's wrong for him to mislead her.

He's going home, he says.

The paramedics have pulled up. The last of the episode is Olivia looking at Peter and saying, "Okay, Peter I'm in love with you and I just can't turn that off. I'm in love with you." And Peter walks off.

It was a really good episode and I'm serious, I believe this is Peter's Olivia.

Why didn't she remember right away? Have we forgotten when he got into the machine on the last episode last season it was erasing Peter from all the earths.

And remember, that's how the season started this year (well, back in the fall). And we were clear that we were on our earth with our Olivia and the second earth with the bad Olivia (the red head).

Then two or three episodes in, Peter surfaces in the lake and he's convinced he has to get home when the reality is that he's always been home. That's the mistake he's making and he pulled us in with him.

He's always been home. But he was erased from the timelines. That's my argument anyway.

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

March 2, 2012. Chaos and violence continue, protesters continue to be attacked in Iraq, protesters continue to protest in Iraq, monthly totals for February's violence are out, the White House hosts a veterans dinner, and more.
Yesterday snapshot noted Wednesday's Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hearing where the VA appeared as witnesses. Senator Patty Murray is the Chair of the Committee, Richard Burr is the Ranking Member. The topic was the White House's budget request for VA in Fiscal Year 2013. Many topics were raised in relation to the budget. We'll note this exchange initiated by the former Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Commitee, Senator Daniel Akaka.
Senator Daniel Akaka: General Shinseki, as you know, we often face challenges in treating our veterans who live in many rural and remote areas. This is especially true in places like Alaska and Hawaii where you just can't get to some places by jumping in a car and driving there. I know you're working on an MOU [Memorandum Of Understanding] with the Indians to find solutions to help provide services to our Native American veterans and I commend you and all of you involved in these efforts. Mr. Secretary can I get your commitment to possible ways of working with the Native Hawaiian health care systems and the Native American veterans systems that provide services for Native Hawaiian veterans who live in many of the rural parts of the state of Hawaii.
Secretary Eric Shinseki: Senator, you have my assurance that, uh, we will do our utmost to provide for any of our veterans wherever they live -- the most rural and remote areas, the same access and quality to health care and services as we provide to someone living in a more urban area. There is a challenge to that but we are not insensitive to that challenge and we're working hard to provide VA provided services and where we can't to make arrangements -- if quality services exist in those areas marking arrangements for veterans to be able to participate in those local opportunities. We are, I think you know, working and have been for some time on signing an MOU with Indian Health Service so that wherever they have facilities and we have vested interests that a veteran -- an eligible veteran -- going to an Indian Health Service facility will be covered by VA's payments. We're in stages of trying to bring that MOU to conclusion. We intend to do that. And where tribes approach us prior to the signing of the MOU and want to establish, from Tribal Nation with VA, a direct relationship because they have a medical facility and would like us to provide the same coverage, we're willing to do that. But that would be on a case-by-case basis.
Senator Daniel Akaka: Thank you. Secretary Shinseki, staffing shortages continue to be a problem although there's been some progress. But some clinics are seeing staffing levels below 50% causing excessive waiting time for veterans that need care. I understand this is an issue you've been working on. As you know the number of veterans needing services is growing yearly and it shows that you have been making progress. Can you provide an update on the Department's progress to address staffing levels?
Dr. Robert Petzel: Uh, Mr. Secretary, thank you; Senator Akaka, thank you for the question. The -- uh -- We've addressed mental -- We've talked about mental health earlier and the efforts we're making to try and assess whether there's adequate staffing there. I think you're probably talking about primary care, which is our largest out patient clinic operation. We treat 5 -- 4.2 million veterans in our primary care system and it accounts for the lion's share of our budget expenditures. We assessed staffing three years ago when we began to implement a Patient Aligned Care team or PAC program and have done it again recently. And we're finding that we're now able to bring up the support staffing and the physician staffing to reasonable levels associated with the standards around the country. I would like to take off record -- offline -- any information you have about specific places where there's a 50% vacancy rate. I'm not aware that we have this around the country. So I would be delighted to meet and talk with your staff and find out where these areas might be so that we can address them specifically.
Senator Daniel Akaka: My time has expired but, Secretary Shinseki, as we face budget constraints, we must all work to improve our efficiency and redouble efforts to look for ways to get the most from our budgeted resources. My question to you is can you talk about any steps you are taking to improve the acquisition process at VA and any efficiencies you've been able to realize in this area?
Secretary Eric Shinseki: Senator, I would tell you that, uh, we have been working for several years now on restructuring our acquisition business practices. Three years ago, acquisition was spread throughout the organization. Now it's consolidated in two centers. One comes directly under Dr. Petzel and that's where all medical acquistions -- gloves, masks, aprons -- we ought to be able to leverage that into a bulk purchase and get a good price on those kinds of things. For everything we have an Office of Acqusition, Logistics and Construction and we have a director who heads both offices then come up to my level to the deputy secretary as part of our monthly oversight review process.
When I think of veterans in "rural" areas, I think of them in southern states or in Michigan which is densley populated in and around Detroit but much more sparsely populated throughout the rest of the state. I also think of Alaska, Montana and other states. I never consider Hawaii rural but of course it is. "Remote and rural" really drives that home. Senator Akaka's word choice really drove the point home. He also asked about staffing and a community member (Troy) had asked if the empty medical positions at VA were raised by any senator when discussing the budget on Wednesday? Ranking Member Richard Burr raised that issue.

Ranking Member Richard Burr: Since the Chair just asked about mental health, let me just ask if my information is correct. In December, VA polled their facilities and they found that there were 15,000 open mental health positions. Is that accurate? Dr. Petzel?

Secretary Eric Shinseki: Let me turn to Dr. Petzel.

Dr. Robert Petzel: Uh, could you repeat that number, Senator Burr.
Ranking Member Richard Burr: In December of 2011, the VA polled their facilites and found there were 15,000 mental health slots that were unfilled meaning --

Dr. Robert Petzel: Our of 20,500, that's true.

There were many important questions raised in the hearing. On Iraqi violence, Mohammad Akef Jamal (Gulf News) raises an interesting one today about the February 23rd attacks across Iraq, "The spokesman of the Ministry of Interior announced that the ministry possesses grave and important information regarding the blasts. He then proceeded to threaten all those who have carried out the terrorist operations -- but if the ministry was truly in possession of information, why are the culprits still at large? " Don't expect it to get answered anytime soon but it is an important question. AKE's John Drake appeared Wedensday on New Zealand's Radio Live (link is audio) to dicuss the ongoing violence. Excerpt:
James Coleman: John Drake is an Iraq intelligence analyst at AKE Intelligence -- an organization offering research and analysis on security risks around the globe. He joins us from London. John, good evening to you.
John Drake: Good evening and good morning.
James Coleman: So Baghdad is the focus of much of the violence. What has triggered the increase in aggression in the capitol?
John Drake: Well it's the focal point of all the main political organizations in Iraq. It's the seat of government, it's where a lot of the Iraqi and international media are based. So by conducting attacks in Baghdad, it often gives the militant groups additional attention, it raises the profile of their activies. It generates an audience for whatever political agenda they're trying to push. That's one of the main reasons. It's also, wherever you get a large amount of people in a large urban area that is often where you will get the great concentration of violence. Larger cities tend to see more crimes. It's often very similar when it comes to terrorism as well.
James Coleman :Mosul's been unusually quiet. Is there any indications that militants are looking elsewhere?
John Drake: That could be the case. Mosul is normally one of the most violent parts of the country. Over the course of last year, it saw an average of about one to two attacks a day. Over the last few weeks, it's been down to about two or three attacks a week. Now while the Iraqi authorities did indicate this was maybe due to some of their recent counter-insurgency operations in the city, the operations that they've been initiating haven't been more intense than normal and they haven't really been netting more militants than normal either. So there are two concerns. One is that militants may be looking across the border to Syria. They may be crossing the border to sell weaponry or even equipment and medicine or anything that they could put on the black market to raise finances for their operation. They may also be sending fighter across the border into Syria to engage in unrest and revolution there. They may be trying to infilitrate the main opposition organizations to Syrian President Basher Assad. They may be responsible for conducting some of the recent terrorist attacks in the country. However after the attacks -- the series of attacks in central Iraq a few days ago, it's obvious that they haven't all gone across the border. There's still a lot of them still in Iraq and looking to conduct attacks in the center of the country.
Staying with violence, AGI reports 2 Baghdad bombings resulted in 6 deaths and ten people injured today while Mohammed Ameer and Peter Graff (Reuters) report that Iraqi governmental ministries have released the February death toll figures asserting that 151 people died in February. They note these official numbers may be low and that "[o]ther sources, such as Iraq Body Count, a group which compiles data from media reports, give higher figures."
So let's look at how many we noticed the media reporting.
February 1st 2 were reported dead and eleven injured; February 2nd 4 were reported dead and one injured; February 3rd 3 were reported dead and eight injured; February 4th 5 were reported dead and three injured; February 5th 1 was reported dead and 5 injured; February 6th 1 was reported dead and twenty-two injured; February 7th 4 were reported dead and sixteen injured; February 8th no reported deaths; February 9th 2 were reported dead 3 injured; February 10th 1 death was reported (we don't include the border clashes with Turkey when we do these counts); February 11th none reported dead or wounded; February 12th 2 were reported dead and twelve injured; February 13th 3 were reported dead and seven injured; February 14th 9 were reported dead and twenty-seven injured; February 15th 4 were reported death and four injured; February 16th 1 was reported dead and eight injured; February 17th 5 were reported dead and one injured; February 18th no one was reported dead and none injured, February 19th 40 and thirty-three; February 20th zero were reported dead or wounded; February 21st zero were reported dead or wounded; February 22nd zero were reported dead or wounded; February 23rd 70 were reported dead [well over] a hundred wounded [these were the bombs across Iraq and once the wounded reached 100 the press largely stopped counting]; February 24th 1 dead and three injured; February 25th zero were reported dead or wounded; February 26th 2 were reported dead and seven injured; February 27th one person was reported wounded; February 28th 8 were reported dead, twelve injured; and February 29th 11 were reported dead and twenty-six injured. Check my math, that should be 175 dead and 329 injured. That's just the ones we noted and I surely missed many. In addition, not all deaths are covered by the media -- true throughout the war and only more so now.
Okay, let's go to John Drake's figures.

At least 18 people were killed and 48 injured in #Iraq violence last week.

At least 19 people were killed and 55 injured in #Iraq violence last week.

At least 45 people were killed and 74 injured in #Iraq violence last week.

At least 53 people were killed and 245 injured in #Iraq violence last week.

His totals are 135 dead and 422 injured. Iraq Body Count probably keeps the best records of those monitoring deaths covered by the media and they counted 248 civilian deaths in Iraq for the month of February.
Zooming in on violence to violence against protesters. Mahmoud al-Hassani al-Sarkh is a religious leader whose offices were attacked around February 19th when Grand Ayatollah al-Sistani's were being attacked. Nasiriyah News Network reports that approximately 100 Sarkhi supporters protested yesterday in Nasiriyah as they called for his office to be reopened. Hassan Sahlani (Nasiriyah News Network) adds that a delegation from the protesters met with the governor and the province's police chief.Violence also took place today in Nasiriyah. While Thursday's demonstration went well Alsumaria TV reports when the same supporters of religious authority Mahmoud al-Hassani Sarkhi demonstrated in public today, they were run off by riot police using water hoses.
And sadly, if that's all that happened, it may have been the least response to protesters by any portion of the Iraqi government.
February 25, 2011 was when Iraqi youths began their nationwide Friday protests -- joining with other groups to demand basic services (potable water, electricity, etc), jobs, the release of the 'disappeared,' the end of government corruption and more. A year later, the demonstrators attempted to gather again in Baghdad on Friday the 24th (see that day's snapshot) and Saturday the 25th (click here). Yesterday Human Rights Watch released "Iraq: Intimidation at Anniversary Protests; Beatings, Detentions in Kurdistan; Blocked Access in Baghdad."

In the KRG, demonstrators gathered on February 17th and they numbered in excess of 250. They report to Human Rights Watch that they were beaten, threatened and intimidated. Journalist attempting to cover the December 17th action were also attacked: "They confiscated the camera of Rahman Gharib, coordinator for the local press freedom group Metro Center to Defend Journalists, and beat him on the head and leg after he took some photographs, Gharib and witnesses told Human Rights Watch. The Metro Center has documented numerous abuses against Kurdish journalists, including more than 200 cases of attacks and harassment during the protests in Sulaimaniya between February and May, 2011."

In Baghdad, a number of methods were used to suppress turnout. From the report:

Members of several protest groups told Human Rights Watch that they attempted to demonstrate in Tahrir Square on February 25, the anniversary of Baghdad's 2011 "Day of Anger," when thousands gathered in the square to protest widespread corruption and demand greater civil and political rights. During nationwide demonstrations on that day a year earlier, security forces killed at least 12 protesters across the country and injured more than 100. Human Rights Watch also saw Baghdad security forces beat unarmed journalists and protesters, smashing cameras and confiscating memory cards.
On February 25, 2012, security forces in Baghdad again attempted to stop protesters from reaching Tahrir Square, though with different methods. Several demonstrators told Human Rights Watch that security forces blocked many roads approaching Tahrir Square, at times saying the roads were blocked because a car bomb that had gone off in the vicinity, although protesters said local merchants reported hearing no explosions and Iraqi authorities released no specific information to the media.
Security forces told also told protesters walking toward Tahrir Square that they had intelligence indicating that "many terrorists" were in the square and 11 bombs had been placed in the area, and that security forces "could not guarantee the safety of protesters." Human Rights Watch witnessed security forces using similar explanations to prevent journalists and protesters from going to Tahrir Square many times between March and December 2011.
Some of the protesters who reached Tahrir Square said they did not enter the square because the show of force by security forces frightened them. According to observers, the forces numbered between 600 and 1,000 armed personnel in and around Tahrir Square, with more amassed on side streets.
As protesters approached the multiple checkpoints surrounding Tahrir Square set up that morning, security forces informed them that they had a long list of protesters whom they had orders to arrest and that they would check this list against the identification cards of anyone wishing to pass through. A young activist who did not want his name used for fear of government reprisal told Human Rights Watch that one smiling soldier told him and other protesters, "We may have your name. Why don't you step forward and see if you get arrested?"
Another activist said that an officer told protesters that even people with names "similar" to those on the list would be arrested.
"From the way he said it, I thought he might arrest me no matter what my name was, so we left," he said.
One demonstrator, who said he was intimidated and did not try to pass the police checkpoints, said: "I just stood monitoring, outside Tahrir Square. No one at all was allowed to take photos or use their phones. There were so many members of the army; they were standing every half meter in the square with their sticks."

Please note the above took place on Saturday -- days prior to Tim Arango's frothing at the mouth in the New York Times about how groovy Nouri was and beloved and authoritarian measures are so popular! nonsense.

And Tim Arango and the New York Times? They didn't report on any of the above. Iraqi reporters were trying to cover the Baghdad demonstration and Human Rights Watch notes that:

Journalists told Human Rights Watch that security forces prevented them from covering the demonstration by not allowing them to enter the square with photographic equipment, voice recorders, mobile phones, and even pens. One Iraqi news agency reported that security forces briefly detained journalists for "violating the rules of demonstration, entering banned areas and trying to provoke the public." Human Rights Watch has observed security forces interfering with journalists at work at more than 20 demonstrations at Tahrir Square during the past year.
Iraq's constitution guarantees "freedom of assembly and peaceful demonstration."As a state party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Iraq is obligated to protect the rights to life and security of the person, and the rights to freedom of expression, association, and peaceful assembly. In May, the Council of Ministers approved a draft "Law on the Freedom of Expression of Opinion, Assembly, and Peaceful Demonstration," which authorizes officials to restrict freedom of assembly to protect "the public interest" and in the interest of "general order or public morals," vague criteria that the law does not define further. The draft law is awaiting approval by parliament.

Dan Murphy (Christian Science Monitor) reminds:
Iraq's Constitution formally guarantees the rights of free speech and assembly, but in practice it's generally ignored.
The Committee to Protect Journalists rated Iraq the worst country in its "impunity index" for last year, which measures how a national legal system does, or does not, protect reporters. Five reporters were killed across the country in 2011 and 150 have been killed there since 2003. Last year, 26 journalists were detained by the authorities for their work. The CPJ says that there has not yet been a conviction in any of those cases.

In spite of the attacks and threats, Jane Arraf (Al Jazeera, Christian Science Monitor) Tweets that protests took place in Baghdad today:

#Iraq ex civil servants gathering in rain in #Baghdad's Tahrir Square demanding jobs back - far more riot police - what are they afraid of?

From the current occupation to a potential new one, on this week's. Black Agenda Radio, hosted by Glen Ford and Nellie Bailey, (airs each Monday at 4:00 pm EST on the Progressive Radio Network), Glen Ford discussed Syria with international law expert Francis A. Boyle. Excerpt.
Glen Ford: The US and its allies insist that Syria doesn't have the right to protect itself. Now about one-third of the deaths in this internal conflict have already been Syrian soldiers and policemen. Clearly, it is an armed conflict.
Francis A. Boyle: Obviously. My guess is like what happened in Libya there was a spontaneous protest and demonstrations by people living there against the Assad government. That doesn't surprise me at all. But it was quickly hijacked and has been used as a pretext to promote an attempt to overthrow the Assad government and, if that doesn't work, to produce civil was in Syria that would neutralize Syria and its long standing refusal to succumb to Israel's demands and the Zionist demands that they effectively give up the Golan Heights. And also to crack Syria up into its ethnic components, which it does have along the lines of what they've already done to Afghanistan, Iraq, Yugoslavia and Libya as well. So the same thing could very easily happen to Syria and it would simply serve the interests of Israel, the United States, France -- the former colonial power there. It's a joke and a fraud to say that France is the least bit interested in human rights in Syria. And also Turkey -- the other former colonial power in Syria. And, again, it's a joke and a fraud to say that Turkey's the least bit interested in human rights in Syria -- especially after what's it's done to its -- what it's still doing to its own Kurdish people in Turkey itself and also in northern Iraq. So you really can't take these colonial-imperial powers seriously when they shed crocodile tears for human rights.
Glen Ford: France is demanding a humanitarian corridor in Syria. But of course we remember that NATO rejected the idea of a humanitarian corridor in Libya when the African Union proposed one.
Francis A. Boyle: Look at the proposal by the African Union which is the appropriate regional organization, set up under Chapter 8 of the United Nations Charter to deal with Africa. And they had a very comprehensive peace proposal there for Libya and it was completely brushed aside and indeed stymied at the Security Council and in the General Assembly. So the colonial-imperial powers in NATO and the United States paid absolutely no attention to the African Union. This is all eyewash that they're concerned about human rights. Have any of them lifted one finger at all to help the Palestinians? Especially the
1.5 million Palestinians now who are being subjected to slow motion genocide in Gaza? Of course not. So it's just preposterous. This is all propaganda here in the United States that I don't think really deceives anybody over there in the region about what's really going on.
Glen Ford: It seems to many of us that Syria has been forced to battle block by block in certain cities lest the West declare some area, some city, some border area, some sliver of land in Syria to be a kind of liberated territory that must be protected by the West.
Francis A. Boyle: Well they did the same thing in Libya in Benghazi, right? Remember Reagan tried to do the same thing in Nicaragua with the Contras and set up some kind of free zone and a liberated government that could then ask for military intervention? That is correct. So this is pretty much par for the course for these colonial-imperial powers. Right.
Glen Ford: So as an expert on international law, is Syria within its rights to defend its control over all of its territory?
Francis A. Boyle: Well I'm not justifying any human rights violations by Syria -- one way or the other. But certainly it seems to me that what is going on here is an organized attempt to overthrow the legitimate government of Syria that is being coordinated by the United States, France, Turkey, Qatar -- a dictatorship -- and by Saudi Arabia -- another dictatorship. And it appears support coming from Israel and Iraq and other forces under the control of Western intelligence agencies such as al Qaeda. For example, last week the Financial Times reported that all of these al Qaeda fighters -- after they did the dirty work in Libya are now moving over to mobilize against Syria. Also they are mobilizing now in Jordan, as we speak. The government does have a right to keep itself in power. You know, who gives Obama the right to say that the government in Syria should step down? None. But they don't really care. There has been no effort made at all by the United States, any of these imperial powers or by the United Nations or by the League of Arab States to achieve a peaceful resolution of this dispute as required by the terms of the United Nations Charter under Chapter Six -- which is what they should have done before moving to Chapter Seven enforcement measures. No effort at all has been made to produce a peaceful resolution of this matter and that's exactly what happened in Libya -- no effort at all was made. So I think that indicates just an absence of good faith at and, at this point, they have no intention of a peaceful resolution of this dispute. Their objective, their intention is to overthrow the Assad government, put in a stooge puppet if possible that will be under the control of the United States, France and at the end of the day sign some type of bogus peace treaty with Israel that will give them the control of the Golan Heights.
In the US, 2012 is an election year. Your vote is your vote, you own it, no one else does. Who you vote for or whether you vote is your business. (I've noted that I most likely will not be voting in 2012 after my 2008 mishap where I mistook a voting booth for a margarita machine -- just joking about the frozen margarita machine but serious about I will most likely not vote for president in 2012.) Among the many candidates -- hopefully, many candidates, we need more choices, not less -- we'll be the Democratic Party's presidential nominee, the current office holder, President Barack Obama. Last night, he hosted a number of veterans at the White House. This is Colleen Curtis' write up from the White House and I was asked to note it and it does fall under Iraq so we will (Curtis' write up also includes video of Barack's speech if you use the link):
President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Dr Jill Biden tonight welcomed a group of true American heroes to the White House. "A Nation's Gratitude: Honoring those who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn" was a formal dinner that paid tribute to our Iraq veterans and marked the end of the war.
More than 100 service members and their guests were in attendance, and the invitees included men and women in uniform from all ranks, each U.S. state and territory, and every branch of the Armed Forces. Together, they represented the million American troops who served in Iraq, and they also represented what Vice President Joe Biden called the finest generation of warriors in all of history.
In his remarks, the President welcomed the veterans home, praised their bravery and dedication to their mission, and thanked them on behalf of more than 300 million Americans:
Tonight, what we can do is convey what you've meant to the rest of us. Because through the dust and the din and the fog of war, the glory of your service always shone through. In your noble example, we see the virtues and the values that sustain America, that keep this country great.
You taught us about duty. Blessed to live in the land of the free, you could have opted for an easier path. But you know that freedom is not free. And so you volunteered and you stepped forward, and you raised your hand and you took an oath -- to protect and defend; to serve a cause greater than yourself, knowing, in a time of war, you could be sent into harm's way.
You taught us about resolve. Invasion turned to insurgency and then sectarian strife. But you persevered, tour after tour, year after year. Indeed, we're mindful that even as we gather here, Iraq veterans continue to risk their lives in Afghanistan, and our prayers are with them all tonight.
In one of our nation's longest wars, you wrote one of the most extraordinary chapters in American military history. Now the Iraqi people have a chance to forge their own destiny, and every one of you who served there can take pride in knowing you gave the Iraqis this opportunity; that you succeeded in your mission.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

5 work weeks?

Thursday, Thursday. Where is my weekend. I was headed to Elaine's work tonight (she does her veterans group on Thursday nights) and there's a sandwich truck right outside of her building so I'm thinking YES!!!!

I was starving and it was that kind of a day where all I'd really had time for was coffee. But I've got no cash on me (two bucks). So I rush into the building Elaine's office is in, due quick cash on the ATM and go running out to the street to discover that the sandwich truck is gone.


All that really left werBolde the building vending machines. So I've had multiple bags of chips.

Reince Priebus of POLITICO explains how Barack's spent his time:

It’s a big night Thursday for President Barack Obama. In New York, he will hold his 100th fundraiser since declaring reelection — his 33rd this year alone.

Let’s put that in perspective. On average, one can reasonably say attending a fundraiser takes two hours out of the president’s schedule. So, in total, the president has likely spent at least 200 hours, or five standard workweeks, filling his campaign coffers since April.

Five work weeks. Since April alone? NOw get that he's also taken multiple vacations. No wonder the economy is still in the toilet.

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

Thursday, March 1, 2012. Chaos and violence continue, a US teacher dies in Iraq, Nouri continues his paranoid ravings, the VA Secretary tells the Senate he has no idea if sequestration would apply to the VA, and more.
First off a correction to yesterday's snapshot, There were three hearings we were trying to cover: Tuesday's joint-House and Senate Veterans Affairs Comimttee, Wednesday House Foreign Affairs and Wednesday's Senate Veterans Affairs. The snapshot ends: "It is also highly illogical to claim that you will determine whether or not a group of people are terrorists and we're out of space." I finished dictating right at nine p.m. as I was walking in front of a group Ava and I were speaking to. That left a very dear friend with the issue of editing to get the thing down to a workable size. The House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing was reduced to my commentary with no excerpts (which is fine). It was still large and my friend had to condense and edit and ditched the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee's Wednesday hearing (which we'll cover this snapshot), the Center for Constitutional Rights (which we'll include if there's room today) and other things -- and that's all more than fine. The only problem was that in condensing and several sections,the timeline went screwy. That's not his fault, he wasn't at any of the hearings. I was so it's my fault.and my apologies for that. Thank you to Kat who saw the snapshot when it went up last night and immediately went in to add "yesterday" and make clear that the joint-hearing by the Senate and House Veterans committees was Tuesday. And thank you to ___ for editing and condensing and doing a great job. The mistake falls on me and my apologies for that. I did not check it, I did not help edit it and, let's be honest, it's cause I'm sick of the online life as much as it's because I was pressed for time. Again, my apologies.
Okay, let's dive in. Tuesday's joint-hearing -- House and Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hearing -- Senate Committee Chair Patty Murray noted that VA Secretary Eric Shinseki would be before the Committee and she would be attempting to get an aswer regarding sequestering from him. Sequestering refers to automatic cuts that would kick in on various federal departments and programs. Along with Senator Murray, Senator Jon Tester and House Veterans Affairs Committee Chair Jeff Miller have noted that the inability of veterans to get a straight answer on this issue is frustrating and that veterans have a right to know what's going on with the budget of the VA.
Chair Patty Murray: [. . .] let me begin the questions by getting this one off the table. It's on the issue of sequestration and cuts to spending. Like I said in my opening remarks I believe that all VA programs including medical care are exempt from cuts but there is some ambiguity between the budget act and the existing law. And when I asked the acting OMB director to adress this issue in a budget hearing two weeks ago, he said OMB had yet to make a final determination. So I am concerned that by not settling this issue now, we are failing to provide our veterans with the clarity they really deserve to have. And so while you're here, I wanted to ask you: Do you believe that all VA programs -- including medical care -- are exempt from any future cuts?
Secretary Eric Shinseki: I think, Madame Chairman, the answer that the OMB director provided you was the same one that I understand. They are still addressing the issue. For my purposes, I would tell you I'm not planning on sequestration. I'mI addressing my requirements and presenting my budget as you would expect me to do. I think sequestration in part or in whole is not necessarily good policy. And I think the President would argue the best approach here is a balanced deficit reduction and that the budget he has presented does that and I would ask that the Congress look at that budget and favorably consider it.
Chair Patty Murray: I think we all hope that is the outcome but we want to provide clarity to our veterans. They are very concerned about this issue.
Murray asked, she attempted to get an answer as to -- yes/no -- whether the VA is a department immune to sequestering. Not only did she ask, she announced in an open hearing the day prior that she would be asking. Shinseki came into that hearing knowing he would be asked.
The answer? Another non-answer. The person in charge of the VA Department has no idea, if sequestering goes into effect, whether or not his department would be affected. That seems like an answer you would need to know for a hypothetical. With sequestration looking more and more likely, that seems like an answer you would need to know in order to plan for worst case scenarios in the department you oversee.
But he can't answer the question and has no knowledge as to whether or not VA would be effected if these cuts kick in.
On the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, Senator Patty Murray is the Chair. Richard Burr is the Ranking Member. A number of witnesses accompanied Shinseki to the hearing including Dr. Robert Petzel who is the Under Secretary for Health, Allison Hickey who is the Under Secretary for Benefits, Steve Muro who is the Under Secretary for Memorial Affairs, Roger Baker who is the Assistant Secretary for IT (Information and Technology) and W. Todd Grams (Executive in Charge for the Office of Management and Chief Financial Officer).
With that brain trust, you might think they could answer a basic question but you'd be wrong. As was the case in a recent House Veterans Affairs Committee hearing, the problems started with Allison Hickey (she refused to answer Ranking Member Bob Filner's questions and then there was a rush by the VA witnesses to 'wall her off' from Filner's questions -- see the February 15, 2012 snapshot and pay attention to when Filner tells her, "You're not answering the question."). Claims processing was the issue Ranking Member Richard Burr brought up yesterday in the Senate Committee hearing. He was concerned with the diagnosis (it being incorrect and a veteran suffering as a result) and with the timeliness of it. There is a huge backlog -- when Chair Patty Murray held her Virtual Town Hall with veterans February 9th -- sponsored by Disabled American Veterans, full transcript of the exchange can be found here -- the claims backlog was an issue the veterans repeatedly raised. In fact, it kicked off the discussion and Senator Murray noted, "This is one of the most common complaints I hear. And let me say that w know that the claims system is broken." So Ranking Member Burr was asking about an important issue and just asking for basic information: How can, a year from now, they determine whether or not there's been improvement?
Ranking Member Burr noted that the accuracy with diagnoses was at 84% nationally for the VA but at regional centers it varied from 61% to 94%. What part of the budget is going to go to evaluation of the diagnoses? Shinseki passed it to Hickey. As usual, she began speaking at a hearing without turning on her microphone. "I'm glad you're asking about quality because we're very focused on production and quality . . .," she insisted as she avoided Burr's question but continued talking for over two minutes about nothing of importance and nothing that resembled an answer to his question. Ranking Member Burr interrupted her and wanted to know how far into the year will they go before they'll be able to determine if the plan for improvements is working?
Ranking Member Richard Burr: But at some point, you've got to say, "We're going to look at this and see if it's working."
Allison Hickey: We did, sir, absolutely did.
Ranking Member Richard Burr: So?
Allison Hickey: And we did it in local pilots and we are just this week --
Ranking Member Richard Burr: So a year from now, when we get together for the 2014 budget if the quality is not improved or the timeliness down, it will have failed?
Allison Hickey: No, sir, I don't expect the quality not to have improved. We have some very significant decisions and initiatives --
Ranking Member Richard Burr: My point is, what if it doesn't?
Allison Hickey: Sir, then we will adjust as necessary to find the reasons why, we will tackle that hard, but I don't expect that to be the answer. I expect us to see improvement in both quality and production.
Ranking Member Richard Burr: Thank you. We have --
Secretary Eric Shinseki: Senator, Senator, if I might, quality is the function of trained people with the right tools. And we're working on both items right now.
Ranking Member Richard Burr: My question was, Mr. Secretary, at what point we will determine whether what we've implemented is working?
Secretary Eric Shinseki: Fair. We'll be happy to provide that. We set a target of ending this problem with backlog in 2015.
But they haven't even reduced it. House Ranking Member Bob Filner pointed that out in Tuesday's joint-hearing. More people were hired by the VA to work on claims and the backlog has only increased. Whatever the VA's doing thus far, it's not working. Is it a comprehension issue? Does VA just not listen? Senate Ranking Member Burr repeatedly asked how they would measure this year whether the changes were working or not. He got no answer and it appears the VA thinks they'll decide whether things worked or not to improve quality and speed when 2015 comes to an end. Do they not understand the need for regular evaluations? For checking the process? They didn't appear to yesterday before the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.
You're a veteran and you need help with something, let's say PTSD. Is the VA providing timely care? No. And yet in the proposed 2013 Fiscal Year budget, they're asking for only a 5% increase in funding when it comes to health care providers. Is that really enough, Chair Murray wondered?
Chair Patty Murray: Mr. Secretary, last year, we talked a lot about mental health care and I think we together uncovered a lot of serious issues best summed up by a veteran that I heard from recently who uses the Ann Arbor Medical Center and had to wait months and months to get into counseling but then he had glowing things to say about his mental health care once he got in. So in order to address those types of issues, VA has to be certain it has enough resources to not only keep up with the increasing number of veterans seeking mental health care but also bring down that unacceptably long wait time. Over the course of the last fiscal year, the number of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans who are looking for mental health care went up by about 5% and that's about 18,000 every quarter. So I wanted to ask you this morning if you believe the increase in mental health funding in the budget request is sufficient to accomplish the goals and keep up with this increasing demand?
Secretary Eric Shinseki:: I-I believe that the budget, if you look at the 13 budget request, I think it's adequate for us to meet what we understand our requirements are in 13. Are there issues out there now that we will discover between now and executional budget? I would say if we do, Madame Chairman, I would be the first to tell you. Now you asked us to do a survey and we did. It was very hastily done. Senator Burr referred to some of the output conclusions out of that survey. Out of 27,000 of our health care -- mental health providers, 319 were surveyed and the results were as described. My question of VHA was did you go to the places we thought there would be problems? And the answer was yes, because we were asked to go figure this out. So I would say we got a pretty pure response. What I think we need to do is make sure -- we're going to take another broader look -- to make sure we understand across the larger population what our issues are and where there are opportunities for -- reallocation or to hire more people? I would offer to the Chair, I took a look at what we've done in mental health over the last 4 budgets. If we look at '12 to '13, it's rather unimpressive. I mean, it's 5% and it matches the increase in the medical budget but between '9 and '13 our increase is 39%. in mental health. And if you include the 14 advance appropes [2014 advance appropriations requests] it will go up 45% --
Chair Patty Murray: And that is a result of the number of soldiers who are coming home with the invisible wounds of war which is dramatically increasing, correct?
Secretary Eric Shinseki: Uh, true but we are trying to anticipate that there's going to be a larger requirement in the odd years even if we don't have clarity, we're trying to prepare for that. We want to do a larger survey here as I indicated and then see -- and then see what the outcomes are. But let me turn to Dr. Petzel for any details.
Dr. Robert Petzel: Thank you, Mr. Secretary. Madame Chairman, as a result of the hearing that we had earlier in the year, we have now done two things that are, I think, important and on point with regards to your question. One is that we've developed a staffing model. It is the only staffing model that I know that is available about mental health. It's in the -- in the beginning stages but it is giving us some information about what the need might be. But I think more importantly, we're site visiting all 152 of our medical centers to look at the access to mental health services -- both the initial appointment and subsquent appointments, be it for PTSD patient program, a group program or individual psychotherapy. And what we're finding is that there is -- We do meet the criteria for the first appointment in most every instance. We're having some difficulties in some parts of the country making the next appointment in a timely fashion, getting them -- as you mentioned earlier -- into the specialty services. This could be the result of three things. One, is do we have enough staff out there? Have we given enough positions and enough resources? Two is: are those positions filled? Are they filling those positions up in a timely fashion. And then the third is are we getting the appropriate level of productivity out of each one of those people? If we do discover, as the Secretary just mentioned, that we do have additional needs that are unment, I can guarantee you that we will be in communication with the Commitee about those needs and in for a discussion.
Chair Patty Murray: Okay, I appreciate that. This is a top priority for us this year.
Secretay Eric Shinseki: I would just share that in FY '11, we hired about 897 additional mental health professionals bringing us up to about 20,500 mental health professionals so the interest is there in trying to determine what the requirement is and we're not hesitant about increasing those numbers.
As usual, Senator Daniel Akaka brought up a point that others miss (about the rural nature of Hawaii -- and "others" includes me and I have a house in Hawaii). I'd like to cover that tomorrow but we tried to cover the big issues today (and tried to cover these yesterday but it had to be cut due to space).
In Iraq today, the dead include an American. Reuters notes Jeremiah Small was shot dead in Sulaimaniya Province by a student named Beyar al-Talabani who then shot himself. AFP adds that the student was 18-years-old. Sam Dagher and Ali A. Nabhan (Wall St. Journal) note that the student was an 11th grader at Classical School of the Medes ("a Christian school run by U.S. evangicals"). Jeremiah Small was 33-years-old and had taught with history and English lit at the school for seven years. There are a number of details in dispute and we're not going to note those. If you're looking for a strong article, Dagher and Nabhan are clear about what happened, what's said to have happened and what's in dispute. Aswat al-Iraq notes a Mousl bombing claimed the life of 1 Iraq solider and left another injured.
Iraq is in an ongoing political crisis which began approximately 15 months ago when Nouri al-Maliki signed off the Erbil Agreement because it guaranteed he would remain prime minister but once that was implemented (right away) he began stalling on the other aspects before walking completely away from it. Since this summer, the Kurds have been puclicly calling for him to return to the Erbil Agreement. Iraiqy and some elements of the National Alliance have joined that call. The New York Times repeatedly ignored the crisis but were forced -- only after other US outlets were already covering it -- to give their half-assed version of 'coverage' in the last third of December when Nouri began demanding that Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq be stripped of his post and that Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi be arrested for terrorism.

The crisis isn't over despite the New York times repeated attempts to whitewash the realities. Al Mada reports unnamed sources are stating that Nouri and al-Hashemi are set to resolve their differences. Not all unnamed sources got the same memo. One of them tells Dar Addustour that Nouri and State of Law (Nouri's political slate) believe that public statements Tareq al-Hashemi made are the equivalent of a fatwa. In addition, supposedly Nouri's weighing sending forces into the KRG to seize al-Hashemi.

Should that happen, Nouri will be declaring war on the KRG and, for a day or two, the New York Times will 'address' it with articles explaining how the violence is an example of diplomacy and wisdom on the part of Nouri.

Other whispers this morning are that Iraqiya -- this from State of Law -- is determined to disrupt the Arab Summit and intends to bring up the political crisis at the national conference. Al Mada notes that and many other charges by State of Law. If there are storms moving in on the Arab Summit, one has to look no further than the rain cloud that is Nouri. Aswat al Iraq reports, "The Emir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah al-Ahed Al-Jaber al-Sabah expressed keeness to attend the coming Arab summit in person, according to a statement issued by Iraqi foreign ministry." So Kuwait's excited? Al Mada reports that Nouri's looking to 'clarify' border issues when he visit Kuwait shortly. Add that to the millions Iraq still owes Kuwait (why the United Nations has them in Chapter VII). Nouri thinks that's how you set the stage for a successful Arab Summit. In other news of his paranoia, Al Rafidayn reports that the Ministry of the Interior is insisting that there's a coup plot against Nouri in the Maysan Province. It's so difficult to keep Nouri's paranoia coups straight so please don't confuse this with claims that military officers are passing on intel to the United States. Dar Addustour reports that there will be a campaign of arrests on the military officers accused of spying for the US.

Hiwa Osman (Rudaw) explores the prospects for the Arab Summit and the national conference to resolve the political crisis and concludes:

On the other hand, it takes a different stance from the rest of the Arab world on a number of issues that are related to its neighbors like Syria, Iran and even Turkey.
In practice, neither of the two meetings will change anything on the ground. The Iraqi meeting, if held, won't change the relationship between's Iraq's Shia and Sunni leadership and population.
The Arab summit could create more problems for Iraq with its neighbors.
The only strength of the summit would be symbolic: an Arab summit and a Kurdish head. It would be held in the absence of some of the most brutal Arab dictators. The summit would be seen as the summit of the people with more elected representatives. The Kurds could take the opportunity and get a motion out of the summit that supports the Kurdish people in the Middle East.

In the US, 2012 is an election year. Jill Stein is running for the Green Party's presidential nomination. The Green Party of Michigan notes she has two events in Michigan (Ann Arbor and Ferndale) next Monday:
Rick Santorum is a former US Senator who is now running for the presidential nomination of his political party (Republican). On Saturday, he weighed in on the topic of Iraq with the following essay.
President Obama has an amazing ability to make Jimmy Carter's foreign policies look good.

Opposition to imperfect allies and support of radical Islamists has resulted in the almost-extinction of religious freedom for religious minorities -- from the Copts in Egypt to the defenseless women and children who were slaughtered in Homs, Syria -- in the Middle East.

Another example is the devolving situation in Iraq. President Obama was so committed to fulfilling an arbitrary campaign promise to get our troops out of Iraq that he ignored the advice of his senior military officials about the consequences of establishing a firm withdrawal date and about how long it might take before Iraq was ready to manage the situation on their own. As a result, Al-Qa'ida is resurgent, Iran's influence is greater than ever, religious tensions between Sunni and Shi'a are increasing, the existential threat facing Iraq's indigenous minority communities has never been greater, and our ability to affect the situation there is weaker now. Recent coordinated car bomb attacks are just the latest in a string of such events since the start of the new year, and they portend many more violent assaults to come.

The departure of our military forces has once again left a security vacuum that is bound to be filled by someone, and all those with the means to vie for that space will do so, whether Sunni insurgents, terrorists like Al Qa'ida, security forces controlled by the ruling Shi'a political establishment, and in parts of the country even Kurdish Peshmerga. These machinations undermine institutionalizing the rule of law, protecting minority rights, or developing the economy and infrastructure, let alone advancing American interests in that country and the region.

The most vulnerable people in this situation also happen to be the ones most aligned with our values and interests. These are Iraq's besieged Christians -- the Chaldeans, Assyrians, Syriacs and Armenian Orthodox communities. The role their faith has played in developing their worldview is far more in keeping with America's values than any other constituency in the country or the region. Moreover, because these communities have an ethic that places a premium on education, entrepreneurship, and peaceful co-existence and respect for others, they have constituted a disproportionately large part of the upper-middle class, they have historically contributed far more to the country's economy than their numbers would suggest, and they have been the most trusted elements of Iraqi society. They also have a much greater respect for the value of the rule of law, they were the ones who came along side our military, diplomats, and contractors to provide translation services and cultural advice.

With the departure of our forces and the recent announcement of the Obama Administration that we will also be reducing our embassy staff by 50 percent because it is now too dangerous for our diplomats there we are effectively abandoning both Iraq and our investment there as well as the communities who risked the most to help us in that effort. What is more, walking away like this also sends messages to other players in the region. It signals to potential allies in the future that we are not dependable. It signals to terrorists that if they just lay low, they can wait us out. It signals to the world that we no longer have the resolve to see a situation through to the end -- that we can't finish what we started.

We need all the help we can get in that part of the world, and Iraq's Christians are the ones most inclined to provide that help, but not if doing so is only going to increase the prospect of their genocidal annihilation.

Accordingly, we need a comprehensive policy aimed at preserving these communities in Iraq. We need to focus on helping Iraqis create the conditions that incentivize staying in Iraq and making there a better future for themselves. The last thing we want is for them to abandon the land their ancestors have occupied for nearly 7,000 years,forsake the culture they have preserved in that volatile region for all these millennia, and deprive the country, the region, and the world of the positive contributions they could still make if only some space was created for them in Iraqi society. These people -- who are all but canaries in a coal mine -- represent hope for a better future for a pluralistic Iraqi society.

First, they need security. By "security," though, I mean more than just safety from terrorist and insurgent attacks. I mean they need the means to protect themselves and their own communities so they do not have to depend on political actors whose interests are not necessarily aligned with the needs of their own communities. They should not be subjected to political shakedowns and corrupt political machinations.

Second, they need political empowerment. They have the right to some degree of self-determination and to have a say in how their local communities should be governed. It is wrong for them to be treated as a political football, constantly crushed between manipulative forces that surround them.

Third, they need economic development in the region where they now find themselves. Having been forced off their ancestral lands in the last century, they reestablished themselves in the cities such as Baghdad and Basra. In the aftermath of the second Gulf War, though, they have had to seek refuge back in the North again. Yet this region was not developed very well under Saddam's regime, and today's Iraqi Christians are disproportionately of the urban professional class rather than farmers.

It is time that we stand with those who stood with us over the last 8 years. We must not abandon them. I will stand with those who stand for freedom of religion and conscience and against violent jihadism and persecution of religious minorities in Iraq, Egypt, and elsewhere.
As noted on Saturday, I'm not voting for Santorum. Because there are a lot of little babies, I have to note that. "You quoted Santorum! You must be voting for him! You must agree with him!" We usually note serious comments on Iraq by any presidential candidate -- go look in the 2007 and 2008 archives. Oh, and currently, I'm not planning to vote for president in 2012. That would change if someone earned my vote. At present, no one has. If Jill Stein gets the Green Party nomination, I will consider voting for her.
We do note the Green Party here and we'll note this from the Michigan Green Party on Jill Stein's upcoming events (Monday) in Ann Arbor and Ferndale.

Ecological Wisdom • Social Justice • Grassroots Democracy • Non-Violence

Green Party of Michigan

News Release

March 1, 2012

For More Information, Contact:
John A. La Pietra, Elections Co-ordinator / GPMI (269) 781-9478

Jill Stein Brings Campaign for Green Party Nomination to Michigan

(Ann Arbor, Ferndale) — The public is invited to attend one of two meetings with Dr. Jill Stein of Massachusetts who is vying for the Green Party's nomination for president of the United States on Monday, March 5th. Come hear her speak about the Green New Deal and what it would mean for Michigan.

Dr. Jill Stein is a mother, housewife, physician, longtime teacher of internal medicine, and pioneering environmental-health advocate. Presenting herself as a positive option to the main two political parties, Dr. Stein's campaign has centered around the Green New Deal which was created to help America regain its prosperity in four ways: securing jobs with living wages for all Americans able to work, adopting green technologies and production practices, revamping the financial sector and strengthening our democracy so that the people's voice will be heard in Washington.
Dr. Stein will make two stops in Michigan as she makes her way through the Great Lakes region. First, she will be in Ann Arbor from 4pm to 6pm at Amer's Deli on S. State Street.
After Ann Arbor, she will move on to Ferndale where she will be at AJ's cafe on 9 Mile Rd from 7:30pm to 10:30pm.
Dr. Stein will be available to answer questions, talk about her candidacy and what the Green Party can do to make America thrive. To learn more about Jill Stein, visit her website at or look for her on Facebook.
Other candidates seeking the Green Party's nomination include comedienne Roseanne Barr, Kent Mesplay of California and Michigan's own Harley Mikkelson.

For more information about the Green Party of Michigan, its candidates, its positions on issues affecting Michiganders, and upcoming party events, go to:
Also check out the Green Party/Partido Verde of Michigan group on Facebook.

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Lastly, we'll close with this from Feminist Majority:
March 1, 2012
Contact: Francesca Tarant, 703-522-2214,
Women Leaders Vow to Fight Back Against Assaults
As the Senate prepared to vote on the Blunt Amendment, a coalition of over 50 women's organizations held a press conference to announce an unprecedented drive to mobilize women voters on the ground and online around Health and Economic Rights—HERvotes—in 2012. Speakers emphasized the power of women voters as a force for change, as well as their collective outrage over the politicization of vital aspects of women's health care, such as birth control and breast cancer services.
"This is a day in and day out fight. Women are not going to be silenced," said Feminist Majority President Eleanor Smeal. "Women are not a political wedge issue, and we are determined to ensure that women have access to quality health care; to protect the gains women have made in the workplace, health care, education and basic individual rights and to continue moving forward an equality agenda,"
"Women's rights are under attack, with reproductive rights in the center of the bullseye," said Byllye Avery, a founder of Raising Women's Voices and the National Black Women's Health Imperative, who outlined the women's health issues at risk in these elections and noted that the Affordable Care Act will end discriminatory health care practices against women.
National Council of Negro Women Executive Director Avis Jones-DeWeever highlighted economic perils for women and children, and saying that women will stand up for jobs, equal pay and equal opportunities: "Women will not be silent. We will not be bamboozled. We will not be complacent."
Sarah Audelo of Advocates for Youth made it clear that young women are part of this fight: "The right to basic preventive health care, such as contraception. The right to decide if and when to have a child. The right to vote and have our voices heard. These are rights our mothers and grandmothers fought for and won. These are rights I never thought my generation would have to fight for . . . . We will reward those who support and respect our rights, and hold accountable those who do not."
HERvotes announced that the 51 organizations are working together to mobilize voters and to sound the alarm that women's gains are at risk. For example, Lisa Maatz described a $1.5 million campaign being launched by the American Association of University Women to turn out women's votes, particularly Millennial women. Maatz exclaimed: "There is a palpable buzz . . . women are mad. We are fed up. We don't want you to touch our birth control. We're tired of being told what we can do with our bodies. We'll be canvassing, advertising, social media campaigns, and reaching women where they live."
National Women's Political Caucus President Linda Young, responding to a reporter's question about the historic likelihood of women to vote more Democratic than Republican, said "Women will vote for those candidates who support our issues and who are not trying to take away our rights."
HERvotes leaders outlined multiple online drives that will reach over 20 million women. For example, there will be a massive online campaign by MomsRising, which reaches over 3 million women through email, Twitter, Facebook and other means.
"Women are tired of the politicization of birth control, the politicization of breast cancer, and abortion bills that really are just about humiliating women . . . The more they attack women's ability to get along day by day… they are losing our votes," said Terry O'Neill, president of NOW, urging women to go to to find out about the issues at stake. "People are waking up."
The 51 organizations of HERvotes will be on the ground and online, educating voters about the 12 advances for women that are at risk in 2102, as well as potential gains. To read about the 12 Advances at Risk in 2012 and see the list of coalition members, go to