Thursday, March 25, 2010
That's from July 9, 2006 and is "Freudian Slip the World's Waiting On"
And that's one of the comics where I had no idea but flipped through the paper and somehow got an inspiration but probably ruined it with the worst drawing I've ever done. Can you tell it's Bush?
I can't and I drew it.
Again, my worst drawing ever.
Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"
Thursday, March 25, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, the counting of votes in Iraq continues, Bob Gates wants to talk, Congress hears about veterans' bills, and more.
Starting with Iraqi elections, The Economist states, 'With the count almost complete, it is impossible to say who will head the next Iraqi government. The electoral alliance with the most seats will have first shot at forming one -- but with no guarantee of success. The likelist contenders are the prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki, and Iyad Allawi, one of his predecessors. But a compromise candidate could yet slip throught middl, as has happened before." On yesterday's Antiwar Radio, Scott Horton spoke with Michael Hastings about the elections:
Michael Hastings: I think Maliki's people -- you know, Maliki's party is the Dawa Party was essentially in exile for thirty until the US brought them back into power and they -- and once you have power, you want to hold onto it. And that's what this is about. This is about Maliki trying to hold onto power and using whatever sort of brinkmanship -- in this case, calling for a recount -- whatever tactic he's going to use to hold onto power. So will it result in violence? I think it's hard to say. What -- what we're seeing -- and this is sort of the argument I've been making -- is that Iraq is sort of slipping back to its more familiar authoritarianism and sort of this experiment into democracy that the Americans tried to enact over there is essentially failing and when Maliki, you know, whoever this new government is, the question is: If they're not willing to give up power when there's 90,000 Americans there and heavy American pressure on them, what's the chances of four years from now, of the next government willing to give up power peacefully? But I think these parties have shown a willingness to play chicken with the security of Iraq so they will continue to make these threats, they will continue to go as close to the edge as possible and are willing to accept a pretty high level of violence to maintain power.
Marc Lynch (Foreign Policy) writes a piece exploring where things stand and he also notes the use of threats and violence:
The moment of truth for Iraq will come if Allawi edges out al Maliki, or if the latter wins a narrow victory but cannot assemble a governing coalition due to the considerable animosity he has generated among his political rivals. Will he peacefully accept the rotation of power? Iraqis and outside analysts have watched nervously over the last few years as the prime minister centralised power within his office. His warning, pointedly issued as commander-in-chief of the armed forces, that an "illegitimate" electoral result could result in violence further frayed nerves – leading one Saudi newspaper to describe him as "Iraq's Ahmadinejad".
Iraq therefore faces a double-edged test after the elections. If al Maliki triumphs in a narrow election and assembles a coalition that largely reproduces the outgoing government, many Iraqis may feel that the election was a sham, and that democracy is not capable of producing true change. If al Maliki loses, he may not surrender power without a fight -- and many of his backers may reject the prospect of being ruled by Allawi, who drew so heavily on Sunni votes.
Robert Dreyfuss (The Nation) adds:
In a more politically mature nation--say, one whose polity was not destroyed by US invasion, subsequent insurgency and then several years of horrendous civil war -- the politicians who lead those blocs could form a coalition. But in Iraq a peaceful outcome is not at all certain. The Kurds and the INA have powerful paramilitary forces, and Maliki has shown he is prepared to use the security forces to do his bidding. And Sunnis, many of whom supported the 2003-07 insurgency, could rebel again. Even if the worst is avoided in the immediate future, Iraqi politics is a Rubik's cube of which it's hard to imagine a stable, ruling alliance forming the necessary majority in the National Assembly.
Dreyfuss also rejects Colin Powell's Pottery Barn analogy and that's so long ago that some may not know the story (and some may have forgotten). War Hawk Colin -- so embarrassed by his Blot -- said of the Iraq War that the US would end up owning Iraq because it would be like the Pottery Barn rule: You broke it, you bought it.
Lizz Winstead (formerly of Air America's Unfiltered) long ago provided the walk through that's so obviously been forgotten: Pottery Barn has no such rule. (Maybe Rachel Maddow could stop making nice with War Hawk Powell's friends and remind her audience -- her tiny audience -- of what her former radio co-host long ago explained?) There is no rule of "You broke it, you bought it" at Pottery Barn. As with most things out of the mouth of Collie Powell it is oh so distantly related to the actual truth.
Having dealt with the factual, let's take a moment to deal with something else that gets a pass and no one ever calls out. Iraq is not Pottery Barn. How the hell dare Colin Powell imply that another country is Pottery Barn for the US. It's a damning revelation that everyone's avoided for 7 years now but it's Colin admitting -- use your brains -- that the Iraq War was all about foreigners getting their hands on Iraq's assets. Why else compare a country to a store where all items are on display and have price tags? Iraq was already OWNED BY THE IRAQIS.
Back to the elections, as Chaka Khan once asked, "Who's it gonna be this time/ Who's gonna be the next in line" ("Who's It Gonna Be" written by Gary Goetzman and Mike Picirillo, appears on Chaka's Destiny album). What's known today? A lot more than was known the day after the election when no results were known but that didn't stop Steve Inskeep and Quil Lawrence from gas bagging, did it? And their gas bagger? Ashes, ashes, we all fall down. Red-faced embarrassment may explain why NPR -- despite Ron Elving's on air bragging -- hasn't filed from Iraq in nine days now. So we'll return to the discussion between Horton and Hastings and notice how Hastings is not afraid to say when something is not known.
Scott Horton: Basically Allawi or Maliki -- either one of them -- is going to have to align with Moqtada al-Sadr in order to become prime minister, is that right?
Michael Hastings: I think -- I think that's right. I mean, literally, this is not a dodge of the question, but you ask the most knowledgable experts on what's going to happen in terms of the Iraqi government formation process over the next few months --
Scott Horton: Right. That's what I'm doing right now. [Both laugh.]
Michael Hastings: Yeah. And I'm telling you no one -- no one -- really has a clue. And I say that not to dodge the question but because -- just look what happened last time. Last time how did Maliki get his job? Maliki got his job after six months of protracted negotiations. He was not even -- this guy was not even on the political map but he became this compromise candidate who no one had heard of before. Now this time around, uh, from my reporting, I've talked to Allawi's people, they have said that their most likely, they've already started to reach out to Sadirsts. So you could see that as a powerful alliance -- the Sadirsts joining with Allawi and possibly Hakim's people also supporting Allawi but you never know if they're going to. The question is Allawi acceptable because he has this sort of Ba'athist baggage? Will he be an acceptable pick for prime minister? Maliki has been politically isolated. He's alienated a lot of his friends, he really doesn't have too many friends left which is why I think he's so adament about a recount and trying to make the case that he, you know, he's the legitimate leader of the country so no matter what the results are, he's going to stay in power. So I think -- but then you have the Kurds come in. You know, who are they going to support? They don't like Maliki right now and they could probably live with Allawi. So-so really there are all sorts of combinations. We might -- the next prime minister could be someone we've never heard of. That's a possiblity.
Hannah Allam (McClatchy Newspapers) sees the (unofficial) results thus far as indicative of "a deeply fragmented Iraq in which sectarian interests remain paramount." She also reports that the Minister of the Interior called for the vote tally not to be released tomorrow; however, the electoral "commission refused to postpone the results." To rule, one of the two parties (presuming they maintain their positions in the official count) must form a power-sharing relationship with other political parties. That requires trades and meet ups. Qassim Khidhir Hamad (Niqash) reports:In just ten days, Eyad Allawi, head of the Iraqiya alliance, twice visited the Kurdistan Region and met the region's president, Massoud Barzani and Iraqi President, Jalal Talabani, also a Kurd.Kurdish officials described the meetings as 'consultative'. they say no decision has yet been made over which side to ally with in the formation of the new government."Kurds have two conditions for its post-election coalition partner. First, the partner should have faith in article 140 of the constitution relating to the disputed areas and second, Kurds should be the main partner in the next government."
Many political parties and slates competed for votes in Iraq's March 7th election and among them was the Ahrar Party which issued the following today:
Ahrar challenges validity of election results
In a letter to world leaders including Gordon Brown, Nicholas Sarkozy and Angela Merkel, Ayad Jamal Aldin formally contested the conduct of the Independent High Electoral Commission and called for a recount in the votes under the supervision of Supreme Judicial Council, Ministry of Justice, United Nations and the Arab League representatives.
Read an excerpt of the letter below, and the full text here.
As a political party we have a duty to ensure that the recent electoral vote within Iraq represents the people of Iraq's true opinions and their votes are counted accurately.
Currently, we do not believe this has happened and on behalf of my party, and all the people of Iraq, I want to formally challenge the recent election results.
The Electoral Commission has demonstrated a lack of independence throughout the election process epitomised by their decision to reduce the official campaigning time to just three weeks. For other candidates this represents an unacceptable interference from the Institute of Justice and Accountability.
In addition to this, a number of Iraqi political parties, including Ahrar Party, were subjected to malicious and violent acts of hostility by entities who are in power and other religious political parties who took advantage of their position in government and religious authorities and worship places.
The most concerning from my party's point of view are the witness statements of the voters who declared that on the 7th March, after they closed all the ballots, the results of each station were shown on the wall of each centre. At this point the total votes for AHRAR was 690,000 however now the Election Commission is declaring that Ahrar achieved only 44,995 votes. This is deeply concerning.
For further information, contact:
Ahrar Media BureauTel: +964 (0)790 157 4478 / +964 (0)790 157 4479 / +964 (0)771 275 firstname.lastname@example.org
About Ayad Jamal Aldin:
Ayad Jamal Aldin is a cleric, best known for his consistent campaigning for a new, secular Iraq. He first rose to prominence at the Nasiriyah conference in March 2003, shortly before the fall of Saddam, where he called for a state free of religion, the turban and other theological symbols. In 2005, he was elected as one of the 25 MPs on the Iraqi National List, but withdrew in 2009 after becoming disenchanted with Iyad Allawi's overtures to Iran. He wants complete independence from Iranian interference in Iraq. He now leads the Ahrar party for the 2010 election to the Council of Representatives, to clean up corruption and create a strong, secure and liberated Iraq for the future.
Violence continues in Iraq.
Bombings?Reuters notes a Tuz Khurmato roadside bombing which claimed 1 life and left five people injured, a Mosul roadside bombing which injured a police officer and a child, a Baghdad roadside bombing claimed the life of 1 "commander in a government-backed local militia" and left "two of his follwers" injured, a Kirkuk grenade attack which injured two police officer, a Ramadi bombing which injured three police officers and, dropping back to yesterday, a suicide bombing in Hit in which the bomer took his own life as well as the lives of 3 additional people and three more were injured.
Reuters notes 2 women shot dead in a Baghdad home invasion.
Turning to the United States where US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates held a press conference today at the Pentagon and a House Veterans Affairs Subcommittee held a hearing. We'll start with actual news. This morning, US House Rep Michael Michaud called to order the Subcommittee On Health so that they could review pending bills. The first panel was made up of members of Congress including the Chair of the House Veterans Affairs Committee Bob Filner.
Us House Rep Bob Filner: Mr. Chairman, we thank you for your leadership on this Subcomittee and for your fine working relationship with [Ranking Member] Mr. [Henry] Brown. I appreciate the leadership that both of you have given and I know I speak for all my colleagues when I say we appreciate the opportunity to talk about our legislation before you, so thank you for that. The bill that I am speaking on, HR 949, would improve the collective bargaining rights and procedures for reviews of adverse actions of certain VA employees. This bill is all about ensuring equity amongst the health care professionals employed by VA so that providers such as doctors, nurses, dentists, chiropractors, optomerists and podiatrists who are hired under the so-called "pure title 38" system have the same rights -- the same rights as their fellow VA health care professionals who are hired under different hiring systems. Without this bill, the "pure title 38" providers do not have the right to challenge errors in pay computations and lack other key bargaining rights enjoyed by their colleagues at the VA. To address this problem, HR 949 would clarify that these "pure title 38" providers have equal rights -- equal rights -- to collective bargaining. This means that they would be able to challenge personnel actions through such methods as grievances, arbitrations and labor-management negotiations. This bill would also require the VA to review the adverse presonnel action and issue a final decision, no later than 60 days after the employee appeals the adverse personnel action. Finally the bill would subject the VA's final decision on employee appealed adverse personnel action to judicial review in the appropriate US District Court or the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. I know that the VA has concerns , I know that they are in discussions with stakeholders and I am looking forward to working with all of them as we move forward on this piece of legislation.
These hearings allow Congressional members to present their bills to the subcommittee or committee and allow the VA to provide testimony and any others that the Congress might chose to hear from. US House Rep Steve Scalise is a representative from Louisiana and he is sponosring HR 1075 which would address continuation of medical care should a disaster close a VA hospital -- as happened with the New Orleands VA Medical Center as a result of Hurricane Katrina. US House Rep Leonard L. Boswell is sponsoring HR 3926. Boswell took a moment to recognize his legislative director Alexis Taylor who is an Iraq War veteran and he explained discovery the need for this bill when Taylor "went back to Iowa for a five-year post-deployment reunion with her unit and others and one of the women at the reunion had returned home from serving her country and was diagnosed with breast cancer and had to undergo a double mastectomy at age 25. Through the course of the night, the service members at the reunion were able to piece together, talk to one another, about six women they were deployed with who had come back from their deployment in Iraq with breast cancer -- all between the ages of 25 to 35 years old. Also, there were another half dozen women who returned with new lumps in their breasts that needed additional tests such as mammograms, ultrasounds and/or biopsies. With 70 women deployed in a battallion of about 700, this incidence rate in young women seemed high and alarming as Alexis brought this to my attention." His bill calls for a study on breast cancer within the service and within veterans to determine whether the rate is higher among the military and whether breast cancer might be a service connected disability? Boswell noted that he personally believes it is. He also explained how, during Vietnam, he was exposed to Agent Orange and suffers many health issues as a result and feels that the Congress needs to be on top of this issue now and not waiting as was the case with recognition of the effects of Agent Orange. "If we could do something about it," he declared, "and we don't, shame on us."
US House Rep Virginia Brown-Waite is sponsoring HR 84 which is concerned with the lengthy wait involved in seeing a doctor and calls for timely appointments and eliminating delays.
US House Rep Virginia Brown-Waite: In September 2007, the VA Office of the Inspector General found that the Veterans Health Administration's method of calculating waiting times of new patients understates the real waiting times. In this report, the Inspector General made five recommendations to reduce these wait times. To date, four of these five recommendations remain unresolved. When I first was elected to Congress, I inquired about wait times from my local VA community, out-based clincis and hospitals. The numbers the VA gave me both for VISN 8 and nationwide quite honestly did not match the stories that I was hearing from my veterans. I challenged them on it and I told them that I was going to be in their offices watching and waiting and talking to individuals. What was happening was, they were making the appointments within 30 days but then, around the 20th day, they'd call and change the appointment to a later date so it would be maybe 40, maybe 50 days.
US House Rep Gabrielle Giffords is sponsoring HR 2698 and 2699 which are both concerned with treatment for PTSD. The first would provide a scholarship to train VA workers and allow veterans to access PTSD health care at the VAs even if -- especially if -- the PTSD is newly emerging/manifesting. The first bill would put more and better trained workers in the VA and allow the veterans greater access to treatment. The second bill would create pilot pograms that would provide treatment but also track feedback from the veterans and their families in order to devise better treatments. US House Rep Ann Kirkpatrick is from Arizona and "my district is home to 11 tribal communities spread out across an area larger than 26 states and yet it is served by only one VA medical center." HR 4006 is one of the bills she is sponsoring.
If at all possible, we'll cover -- even if it's only one tiny section -- something from the subcommittee hearing US House Rep John Hall chaired yesterday. It went on too late to make it into yesterday's snapshot and there's not room for it today.
Moving to Sec Gates' Pentagon briefing today where he declared:
In February, I established a high-level working group to review the issues associated with implementing a repeal of the Don't Ask, Don't Tell law and to develop recommendations for implementation should the law change. At the same time, I directed the department to conduct a review of how the militiary implements the current policy, and, within 45 days, present to me recommended changes that would enforce the existing law in a fairer and more appropriate manner. Today I have approved a series of changes to the implementation of the current statute. They were developed with the full participation of the department's senior civilian and military leadership and the changes are unanimously supported by [Joint Chiefs of Staff] Chairman [Mike] Mullen, Vice Chairman [James] Cartwright and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The Department's General Counsel, Jeh Johnson, and the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel have also concluded that these changes are consisten with the existent Don't Ask, Don't Tell law. These changes reflect some of the insights we have gained over 17 years of implementing the current law -- including the need for consistency, oversight and clear standards. The changes are as follows.  We will raise the level of the officer who is authorized to initiate a fact-finding inquiry or separation proceeding regarding homosexual conduct to a general or flag officer in the service member's chain of command.  We will raise the level of the person who is authorized to conduct a fact-finding inquiry to the level of lieutenant colonel, navy commander or above.  We will raise the level of the officer who is authorized to begin an inquiry or separation proceeding by, for example, specifying that information provided by third parties should be given under oath and by discouraging the use of overheard statements and hearsay.  We will revise what constitutes a "reliable person," upon whose word an inquiry could be initiated with special scrutiny on third parties who may be motivated to harm the service member. Finally, certain categories of confidential information will no longer be used in support of discharges including [a] information provided to lawyers, clergy and psychotherapists, [b] information provided to a medical professional in furtherance of medical treatment or a public-health official in the course of a public-health inquiry, [c] information provided in the course of seeking professional assistance for domestic or physical abuse and [d] information obtained in the course of security-clearing investigations in accordance with existing DoD policies. The services will have 30 days to conform their regulations to these changes. Meanwhile these modifications will take effect immediately and will apply to all open and future cases. In effect this means that all separations from this point forward will take place under the revised regulation. I believe these changes represent an important improvement in the way the current law is put into practice -- above all, by providing a greater measure of common sense and common decency to a process for handling what are difficult and complex issues for all involved. Of course only Congress can repeal the current Don't Ask, Don't Tell statute. It remains the law and we are obligated to enforce it. At the same time, these changes will allow us to execute the law in a fairer and more appropriate manner. The work of the DoD working group chaired by Mr. Johnson and Gen Carter Ham continues. As i told the Congress in February, I am determined that we in the Dept carry out the president's directive on Don't Ask, Don't Tell in a professional and thorough way. I look forward to the continued progress of the working group as they undertake their important task in weeks and months ahead.
The announcement offers damn little to cheer but it does indicate the pressure the administration is finally start to recognize and feel. Last week, Lt Dan Choi and Capt Jim Piertrangelo chained themselves to the White House fence to protest Barack Obama's refusal to keep his campaign promise and repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell. After entering not guilty pleas last Friday, the two left the court and Choi made a statement.
Lt Dan Choi: There are other people who are oppressed that have the chains on them in their hearts. There were many times when people would say when you go and get arrested, it's difficult because your hands are restrained and the movement is a little bit stymied or halted on the physical level. But it is my hope that the larger movement, even with the chains on it, will do nothing but grow to the point where it cannot be controlled by anything but that freeing and that dignified expression of getting arrested for what you know is absolutely morally right. There was no freer moment than being in that prison. It was freeing for me and I thought of all the other people that were still trapped, that were still handcuffed and fettered in their hearts and we might have been caged up physically but the message was very clear to all of the people who think that equality can be purchased with a donation or with a cocktail party or with tokens that are serving in a public role. We are worth more than tokens. We have absolute value. And when the person who is oppressed by his own country wants to find out how to get his dignity back, being chained up and being arrested, that's how you get your dignity conferred back on you. So I think that my actions, my call, is to every leader -- not just gay leaders, I'm talking any leader who believes in America, that the promises of America can be manifest. We're going to do it again. And we're going to keep doing it until the promises are manifest and we will not stop. This is a very clear message to President Obama and any other leader who supposes to talk for the American promise and the American people, we will not go away .
Who stood with them? (Backstory, US House Rep Barney Frank revealed the administration was not pushing to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell. That's what led to the White House fence action.) Who stood with them?
The Center for Constitutional Rights used to brag in their BAD ASS BUSH YEARS that they didn't whine, they got active. So did CCR publicly stand with Dan Choi? Hell no. Hell _____ no. You can't stand from a kneelling position, someone tell CCR. What about our radical friends at the National Lawyers Guild? Did they issue a release supporting Choi? Nope. Like their noted alumni John Conyers, they talk a good game when things are easy. It was real easy for John Conyers to talk impeachment when the Democrats weren't in power. They get into power and John asks, "How far does my leash go, Nancy?" And Pelosi snaps her fingers and he drops to the floor and rolls over so she can scratch his belly. And as pathetic as John is (has karma hit the home life?), even more pathetic was how stupid he thought Americans were. We can and will, he would insist, impeach Bush after he's out of office. There's nothing to stop us, he would maintain, from impeaching Bush after he's out of office. John Conyers. What a sad, sad way to go out of public life. And will the defense be (the rumor is the current criminal charges may spread beyond the spouse) be: "I'm just a senile old man married to a young woman and I don't know what the hell she was doing, your Honor"? Fun times. Like Conyers, NLG couldn't speak out because speaking out required holding the White House accountable. You can't stand while you're on your back, boys and girls. The joke that is Amnesty International USA? That's funny. Friends with Amnesty in other countries ask what's up with our Amnesty? What's up? They're the 'independent' and 'non-partisan' organization that turned their website over to glorify the deity that thought they saw in Barack Obama. Like many a false god, he let them down -- hence the loss of their cute little graphic about Barry O and his 100 days. Amnesty, you'll never be able to speak with something rammed down you throat -- you know what I'm saying. So did anyone speak up for Dan Choi? Yeah, acutally, one organization stood with him publicly. (LGBT organizations have stood with him -- though not the cowardly HRC -- but I'm not talking about that. On the left, we either stand with each other or we allow them to turn us against one another. Dan Choi and others are fighting for basic dignity and our humanity as a nation. Everyone should have been on board.) So the only one to get on board was . . . NOW.
The National Organization for Women joins Lieutenant Dan Choi, Captain Jim Pietrangelo and equal rights advocates around the country in demanding President Obama act immediately to suspend the military's discriminatory Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy, which prevents LGBT service members from serving openly. Lt. Choi and Capt. Pietrangelo were arrested March 19 after chaining themselves to the fence of the White House in protest of the policy, under which Choi faces discharge and Pietrangelo was discharged. The policy has resulted in the discharge of more than 13,500 service members since its inception in 1994. An estimated 66,000 LGBT people currently serve in the military
The Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy has a disproportionate impact on women in the military, according to the Service Women's Action Network. Sexual harassment of military women often takes the form of lesbian baiting; and in 2008, 34 percent of service members discharged were women, although women make up only 15 percent of military personnel.
"The Department of Defense doesn't need to study this issue any longer," NOW President Terry O'Neill said. "Extensive research has already been done. Equality and justice are on the line. Instead of wasting time on another study, NOW calls on President Obama to immediately suspend Don't, Ask Don't Tell, Congress to repeal the policy and the DOD to focus on implementing the discontinuation without further delay."
"Delaying implementation until December 2010 is unnecessary," O'Neill continued. "Every day that this unjust policy continues is another day of discrimination that leads to the military's loss of valuable service members and the needless disruption of their careers and lives."
"Leadership from NOW joined Lt. Dan Choi and Capt. Pietrangelo on Friday for their arraignments after the two men spent the night in a cell filled with cockroaches -- all for peacefully demonstrating for the repeal of this extremely unjust and unnecessary policy," O'Neill said. "NOW commends all LGBT service members for their contributions to this country and demands the immediate repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell."
NOW stood with Dan. CCR? They just soiled their diapers and cried like the little babies they've now become. If you missed that earlier ad, from their Bad Ass Bush Years, click here because Mike posted it at his site back in 2006 when CCR actually was worth praise.
Good for NOW and good for their president. Terry's standing up when everyone else is crumpling or playing silent. And, since it is the month for it, let's note the obvious: Of course it would take a woman to lead. Of course. Praise for Terry.
As Cedric and Wally noted, Barry O's trying to sell ObamaCare in Iowa -- apparently the economy can continue to wait. Community posts last night covered a theme so be sure to check out Elaine's " What Have They Done To The Rain?," Mike's "What's my age again?," Marcia's "Erotic City," Ruth's "Venus," Rebecca's "american pie," Betty's "Silly," Ann's "Silly," Trina's "You Keep Me Hangin' On," Stan's "Wishes" and Kat's "I Believe (When I Fall In Love It Will Be Forever)." The theme involved music and, online, you can stream Joanne Newsom's March 23rd concert at NPR. Kat reviewed Newsom's new album (Have One On Me) last month. In May of 2006, Kat praised Josh Ritter's The Animal Years. Tomorrow at noon EST, Josh Ritter performs live on NPR's World Cafe.
TV notes. NOW on PBS begins airing Friday on most PBS stations (check local listings):
In the debate over energy resources, natural gas is often considered a "lesser-of-evils". While it does release some greenhouse gases, natural gas burns cleaner than coal and oil, and is in plentiful supply -- parts of the U.S. sit above some of the largest natural gas reserves on Earth. But a new boom in natural gas drilling, a process called "fracking", raises concerns about health and environmental risks. On March 26 at 8:30 pm (check local listings), NOW talks with filmmaker Josh Fox about "Gasland", his Sundance award-winning documentary on the surprising consequences of natural gas drilling. Fox's film -- inspired when the gas company came to his hometown -- alleges chronic illness, animal-killing toxic waste, disastrous explosions, and regulatory missteps. Drilling down to the truth about natural gas. Next on NOW.
niqashqassim khidir hamad
mcclatchy newspapershannah allam
pbsnow on pbs
Read on ...
Thursday, March 18, 2010
That's "Bully Boy and Koizumi Play Dress Up" from July 2, 2006.
And it still makes me laugh.
That was a Sunday when I had no idea what I was going to draw and I was going through two newspapers looking for ideas when I saw the Japanese Prime Minister in his Elvis pose. I thought, "He loves Elvis and dresses like him for that reason. Who would Bush dress up as? Oh, right. His mother."
It all made sense. :D
And this is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"
Thursday, March 18, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, ballot counting continues, the US military announces another death, the Senate hears from Mr. Crazy, Gordon Brown's error hasn't yet washed away and more.
Starting in the US where Congress saw some honorable moments and a whole lot of crazy. On the former (honorable), Lt Jr Grade Jenny L. Kopfstein shared her experience serving in the military while gay:
It was difficult being on the ship and having to lie, or tell half-truths, to my shipmates. Under Don't Ask, Don't Tell, answering the simplest questions can get you kicked out. If a shipmate asks what you did last weekend, you can't react like a normal human being and say, "Hey, I went to a great new restaurant with my partner. You should try it out." An answer like that would have gotten me kicked out of the Navy. But if you don't interact like that with your shipmates, they think you're weird, and it undermines working together as a team. So after being on the ship for a while, I wrote a letter to my commanding officer and told him I was a lesbian because I felt like I was being forced to lie. I did not want to get out of the Navy. I wanted to stay and serve honorably and to maintain my integrity by not lying about who I was. After I wrote the letter, I continued to do my job on the ship to the best of my ability. We went on a six-month deployment to the Middle East. I qualified as Officer of the Deck and was chosen to be the Officer of the Deck during General Quarters which is a great honor. During all this time, I am proud to say, I did not lie. I had come out in my letter officially and I came out slowly over time to my shipmates. I expected negative responses. I got none. Everyone I talked to was positive and the universal attitude was that Don't Ask, Don't Tell was dumb. I served openly for two years and four months. One thing that happened during that time was the Captain's choosing me to represent the ship in a shiphandling competition. I was the only officer chosen from the ship to compete. My orientation was known to my shipmates by this time. Nobody griped about the captain choosing someone being processed for discharge under Don't Ask, Don't Tell to represent my ship. Instead a couple of my fellow junior officers congratuled me and wished me luck in the competition. I competed by showing the Admiral my shipdriving skills and won the competition.
She was speaking before the Senate Armed Services Committee which is chaired by Senator Carl Levin. The Ranking Member is Senator John McCain. Appearing before the Committee today as they explored Don't Ask, Don't Tell which veered from the moving (such as above) to the outright puzzling. Along with Kopfstein, Maj Michael D. Almy and Gen John Sheehan spoke. Kopfstein and Almy are 'former' because they were drummed out of the service for being gay. They aren't former at this site. They didn't chose to leave, their rank stands in the snapshot. Sheehan is retired. He is not gay but if someone wants to spread a rumor, go for it. You'll understand why I say that shortly.
The hearing moved along nicely during opening statements. It seemed respectful of all and fairly typical for a hearing. There were moving statements made of the losses suffered as a result of being forced out of your chosen profession due to your sexuality. Again, Carl Levin is the Chair and he opened his questions after the prepared remarks.
Committee Chair Carl Levin: Mr. Almy, should somebody be forced to be silent about their sexual orientation in the military?
Maj Michael Almy: In my opinion, no, Senator. I think the Don't Ask, Don't Tell law is inherently in conflict with the service's core value as Adm Mullen reflected in his testimony before this hearing a month ago. The prinicpal core value of the Air Force is integrity first. And Don't Ask, Don't Tell says that gays and lesbians can serve in the military as long as they're not who they are, as long as they lie about who they are. And to me, personally, that was in direct violation of the core values of the Air Force.
Committee Chair Carl Levin: So while you were willing to keep your orientation private, you don't feel it is the right policy or the fair policy. Is that correct?
Maj Michael Almy: Correct, Senator.
Committee Chair Carl Levin: Mike, would you like to return to the military if you could?
Maj Michael Almy: Absolutely. It's my greatest desire. It's my calling in life and I miss the military considerably.
And with that Levin had finished with Almy for the first round. He moved immediately to the retired general and this is where it all went crazy. I have a name "*" starred in the following. I'm guessing at the spelling and will explain why at the end of the exchange.
Commitee Chair Carl Levin: General, you've been the NATO Supreme Allied Commander and I assume that as NATO Commander that you discussed the issue with other military leaders of our allies. Is that correct?
Gen John J. Sheehan: Yes, sir, I have.
Committee Chair Carl Levin: Did you -- did they tell you, those allies who allow open service of gay and lesbian men and women, did they tell you that they had cohesion and morale problems?
Gen John Sheehan: Yes sir they did. If you don't -- l beg the indulgence --
Committee Chair Carl Levin: Sure.
Gen John J. Sheehan: Most of this Committee knows that current militaries are a product of years of development. They reflect societies that they are theoretically paid to protect. The Europen militaries today are a product of the collapse of the Soviet Union. Nations like Belgium, Luxenberg, the Dutch, etc. firmly believed that there was no longer a need for combat capability in the militaries. As a result, they declared a peace dividend and made a concentrated effort to socialize their military. That included the unionization of the militaries. It included open homo - homosexuality demonstrated in a series of other activities. But with a focus on peace keeping missions because they did not believe the Germans were going to attack again or that the Soviets were coming back. That led to a force that was ill-equipped to go to war. The case in point I'm referring to is when the Dutch were required to defend Srebrenica against the Serbs. The battalion was under strength, poorly led and the Serbs came into town, handcuffed the soldiers to telephone poles, marched the Muslims off and executed them. That was the largest massacre in Europe since WWII.
Committee Chair Carl Levin: And did the Dutch leaders tell you it was because there were gay soldiers there?
Gen John J. Sheehan: It was a combination --
Committee Chair Carl Levin: But did they tell you that? That was my question.
Gen John J. Sheehan: Yes. They included that as part of the problem.
That there were gay soldiers among the Dutch --
Gen John J. Sheehan: The combination was the liberalization of the military. A net effect, basically social engineering.
Committee Chair Carl Levin: The -- You said that no special accomdiations should be made for any member of the military.
Gen John J. Sheehan: Sure.
Committee Chair Carl Levin: Are members who are straight, who are heterosexual allowed in our military to say that they are straight and heterosexual? Are they allowed to say that? [Long pause as Levin waits for an answer before adding] Without being discharged?
Gen John J. Sheehan: Are they allowed to say --
Committee Chair Carl Levin: Yeah.
Gen John J. Sheehan: -- sexuality.
Committee Chair Carl Levin: Are they allowed to say "Hey, I'm straight. I'm heterosexual." Can you say that? Without being discharged.
Gen John J. Sheehan: There's no prohibition to my knowledge.
Committee Chair Carl Levin: Is that a special accomidation to them?
Gen John J. Sheehan: [Long pause] I wouldn't consider it a special accomodiation.
Committee Chair Carl Levin: Why would it be a special accomidation then to someone who's gay to say 'Hey, I'm gay.'? Why -- why do you call that special? You don't call it special for someone who's heterosexual or straight. Why do you believe that's a special accomodation to someone who's gay?
Gen John J. Sheehan: I think the issue, Senator, that . . . we're talking about . . . really has a lot to do with the individuals. It has to do with the very nature of combat. Combat is not about individuals, it's about units. We're talking about a group of people who declared openly sexual attraction to a particular segment of the population and insist and continue to live in intimate proximity with them. That allows them to --
Comittee Chair Carl Levin: You allow that for heterosexuals?
Gen John J. Sheehan: Yes.
Committee Chair Carl Levin: You don't have any problem with that?
Gen John J. Sheehan: Don't have any problem. But that --
Committee Chair Carl Levin: You don't have any problem with men and women serving together even though they say they're attracted to each other?
Gen John J. Sheehan: That's correct.
Committee Chair Carl Levin: That's not a special accomidation?
Gen John J. Sheehan: No.
Committee Chair Carl Levin: Okay. But it is special to allow --
Gen John J. Sheehan: It' is because it identifies the group as a special group of people who by law make them ineligiable for further service.
Committee Chair Carl Levin: But the whole issue is whether it ought to be, whether they ought to be ineligable? Whether we ought to keep out of our service.
Gen John J. Sheehan: That's correct. the current debate, the current law clearly says --
Committee Chair Carl Levin: No I know what the law says, the question is should we change the law?
Gen John J. Sheehan: My recommendation is no.
Senator Carl Levin: No, I understand. And can you tell us which Dutch officers you talked to who told you that Srebenica was in part caused because there were gay soldiers in the Dutch army?
Gen John J. Sheehan: Uh, Chief of Staff of the Army who was fired by the Parliament because they couldn't find anybody else to blame.
Committe Chair Carl Levin: And who was that?
Gen John J. Sheehan: Hank van Brummen*.
Committee Chair Carl Levin: Pardon?Gen John J. Sheehan: Hank van Brummen.
Committee Chair Carl Levin: Why is the burden to end the discriminatory policy based on people who would end the discriminatory policy? Why do the people who want to end the policy have to show that it would improve combat effectiveness? If we're satisified it would not harm combat effectiveness and for many who would be allowed to serve they would then be permitted to serve without discrimination and without harm. Why is that not good enough for you?
Gen John J. Sheehan: Because the force that we have today is probably the finest fighting force we have in the world.
Committee Chair Carl Levin: And maybe we could have an equally fine or even better force but if it's equally fine -- if you could be satisified that it's no harm to combat cohesion or effectiveness, would that be satisifactory to you?
Gen John J. Sheehan: No. I think it has to be demonstrated, Senator.
Committee Chair Carl Levin: That there be an actual improvement.
Gen John J. Sheehan: An actual improvement.
Committee Chair Carl Levin: No harm wouldn't be good enough for you?
Gen John J. Sheehan: No. The reason I say --
Committee Chair Carl Levin: Pardon?
Gen John J. Sheehan: The reason I say that, Senator, is we've gone through this once before in our lifetime. You were in the Senate at the time. It was called the Great Society. When it was deemed that we could bring into the military categories fours and fives and help the military out and make it part of a social experiment. Those categories fours and fives almost destroyed the military.
Commitee Chair Carl Levin: I don't know what that has to do with this issue.
Gen John J. Sheehan: Well it has to do with the issue of . . . being able to demonstrate that the . . . change in policy is going to improve things. We were told . . . that this was going to help out combat strength. Combat deployable strength. It didn't. It did just the opposite. It drove people out. So I think the burden has to be on demonstrating that something's going to become better, not hoping that it will become something better.
Committee Chair Carl Levin: Well I think the burden of people -- the burden to maintain a discriminatory policy is on the people who want to maintain the policy. Not on the people who want to end it.
"Hank van Brummen*"? I'm not Dutch. I had to call around until someone said they knew who the general meant: Ad van Baal. Full name: Paulus Adrianus Petrus Maria van Baal. He was the Chief of Staff when he resigned. He resigned in April of 2002. He resigned because of a United Nations' report which found leadership at the top to be responsible for (or contributing to -- I haven't read the report, I'm going by a Dutch diplomat here) the massacre. If that's correct (I have no reason to doubt it), then does General John Sheehan even know who he was speaking to? I asked whether or not there was anyway the names could be pronounced similarly and was told "no."
The above excerpt shows that Levin conducted himself honorably. Almy did as well but he's not really the focus in the snapshot. Kat will write about this at her site tonight, Wally will write about the hearing at Rebecca's site and Ava's writing about it at Trina's. In addition, Marcia's going to quiz me on a few things at her site tonight.
Turning to Iraq where the ballot counting continues. Katrina Kratovac and Sameer N. Yacoub (AP) reports that 89% of the ballots have been counted as of today and paint a scene of "chaos" where votes are announced and then pulled back, where votes are no longer displayed for the reporters on screens but instead they're handing compact discs and hustled off elswhere. Martin Chulov (Guardian) reports that the final (unofficial) tally has been postponed "yet again". AP is listing the 89% for the vote counted (Margaret Coker says 86%) but what the vote actually is appears to be changing regularly. For example, AINA reports that Iraq's Independent High Electoral Commission has issued an announcement via Sardar Abdul Karim (who serves on the commission) "that IHEC will reconsider its decision to exclude votes from Iraqi expatriates." If the ballots allowed are being increased, the percentage of counted may be off. AFP says the 89% "includes 70 per cent of special voting, conducted three days before the election, for the security forces, hospital patients and staff, and prisoners." If accurate, the big remaining votes to be counted are among the refugee populations. As noted in yesterday's snapshot, the security forces and the refugees were the two categories that were thought to then be uncounted. Ned Parker (Los Angeles Times) notes various thoughts and whispers on the potential outcomes. Stephen Sackur (BBC News' HARDtalk) interviews Ayad Allawi regarding the elections (a clip is available at link, interview airs later). Hannah Allam and Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) explore the terrain for Nouri al-Maliki:
Maliki has no outright majority, no mandate and precious little support from factions that would be the key to his survival. The campaign against him is so robust that members of his own State of Law coalition haven't ruled out dumping him as the prime minister nominee in order to lure partners that would give them a dominant voice in the next government, according to interviews with Maliki's allies, opponents and independent observers.Even if Maliki pulls off a second term over the objections of rival parties, his opponents have said privately that they'd block his efforts in parliament and open up potentially embarrassing corruption inquiries, strategies that could lead to an even weaker and more violent Iraq just as U.S. forces prepare for a full withdrawal by the end of next year.
Margaret Coker (Wall St. Journal) notes in the unofficial count thus far, it "is still razor-thin" which Nouri having a slight edge however, "Analysts expect Mr. Allawi to benefit from expatriate votes, especially among the large numbers of Iraqis living in Jordan and Syria. Mr. Allawi made re-establishing ties with Arab allies such as Jordan and Syria a key part of his campaign."
And no one from State of Law went to Syria to get out the vote; however, Tariq al-Hashimi did visit Syria a few weeks ago in part to encourage the refugee community to vote. Tariq al-Hashimi is one of the current vice presidents of Iraq (they have two) and a member of Allawi's political party. Allawi is also thought to be hugely popular among the Iraqi refugee community in Jordan. Duraid al Baik (Gulf News) observes, "The advance of the Iraqiya bloc of Eyad Allawi against the State of Law bloc led by incumbent Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki has surprised Iraqis and analysts." Though Allawi is expected to do well in the refugee community in countries neighboring Iraq, that won't be true of all the refugee communities or 'refugee' communities. We've already called out the nonsense of allowing Iraqis who left Iraq in the seventies, eighties and nineties, were granted asylum and became US citizens -- and vote in the US -- to vote in the Iraq elections. But that did happen. And in Michigan, that population is said to be firmly for Nouri's State of Law and it's said to be true in California as well. Is it true? I don't know. I'm going by members of those communities. And we're including it because it appears that there are a few votes outstanding from provinces and the rest is the refugee population. You need to factor in that with Iraqis who left long before the invasion, there appears to be (for some) a tie to Nouri. So if that's the big remainder on vote counting, State of Law will benefit from some refugee communities and it should not automatically be seen as "They won't support Nouri!" (Why might someone see it? They're labeled "refugees." Most of us, rightly, consider a refugee to be of a recent period of time. Going back three and four decades? Most of us don't consider that to be a "refugee." Current refugees would, if they supported Nouri, be more likely to move back to Iraq. They'd feel he'd made it 'safer' whereas actual refugees know better.)
One of the political parties in the Ahrar Party and they issued the following today:
Conditions to apply for a scholarship from Ahrar Party
According to the promise made by Ahrar Party to the Iraqi youth and graduates from Iraqi or foreign colleges, Ahrar Party agreed with the American General Motors Company to provide scholarships for Iraqi cadres for a period of six months outside of Iraq for study and training on the latest means and methods of management and leadership and granting a Master's degree. The graduate of this course will be qualified to do administrative and leadership work in jobs assigned to him at a very high standard. Acceptance will be in accordance with the following conditions:
The applicant should:
Be an Iraqi national.
Be a graduate from an Iraqi or foreign university and have a bachelor's degree or equivalent.
Have no fewer than two years of practical experience.
Be between 25 and 40 years old.
Have good conduct and behavior.
Pledge to work in the place commensurate with his capabilities for no fewer than ten years after graduation from the course.
Agree to be subjected to the preferences and testing determined by the admissions committee.
Original Civil Affairs ID card + colored replica photocopy.
Original Iraqi citizenship certificate + colored replica photocopy.
Housing card or housing confirmation letter from the Office of Information for the residents of Baghdad and other provinces. This paragraph does not apply to Iraqis living abroad.
A colored replica photocopy of the ration card for the year 2009-2010, this paragraph does not apply to Iraqis living abroad.
Original graduation certificate, certified by the University he or she graduated from and his or her scientific degrees should be listed on it.
A colored replica photocopy of the passport.
(2) personal photos.
Note: Apply to the following email:
For further information, contact:
Ahrar Media Bureau Tel: +964 (0)790 157 4478 / +964 (0)790 157 4479 / +964 (0)771 275 2942 email@example.com
About Ayad Jamal Aldin:
Ayad Jamal Aldin is a cleric, best known for his consistent campaigning for a new, secular Iraq. He first rose to prominence at the Nasiriyah conference in March 2003, shortly before the fall of Saddam, where he called for a state free of religion, the turban and other theological symbols. In 2005, he was elected as one of the 25 MPs on the Iraqi National List, but withdrew in 2009 after becoming disenchanted with Iyad Allawi's overtures to Iran. He wants complete independence from Iranian interference in Iraq. He now leads the Ahrar party for the 2010 election to the Council of Representatives, to clean up corruption and create a strong, secure and liberated Iraq for the future.
On the topic of Iraqis, what do they think about their elections? Today on The Takeaway (PRI), Celeste Headlee spoke with Iraqis Lubna Naji and Waria Salihi about the elections.
Celeste Headlee: It's almost 7 years since the United States led invasion of Iraq began. And the country is now awaiting the results of its March 7th Parliamentary elections. We felt it was a good time to check in with Iraqis on the state of their country and how far it's come in the past seven years. We're joined again by Waria Salihi. He's with us from Kirkuk. He's president of the Salihi Group, the company involved in reconstruction in Iraq. And also Lubna Naji joins us from Baghdad this morning, a 24-year-old medical student from Baghdad Medical School. Good morning. Lubna, I'm wondering if you could kind of compare that day before -- the feeling in Iraq before the invasion and what it's like now?
Lubna Naji: Well look, you know, at the beginning of the invasion, you know, we had -- as young people, we had such great hopes for the future of our country. We thought that Iraq was going to be like a prosperous, peaceful nation -- powerful nation -- and that we are going to get rid from one of the most dicatators on the face of the earth, Saddam Hussein, as you know. But the trouble is that, you know, there has been lots and lots of disappointments over the way. But I can tell you that the news of the moment is much better than it used to be in 2006 and 2007. There is much hope. There is much faith in the future. But there is still a lot to be done and a lot of unsolved problems that seem to make such, you know -- so it's kind of difficult to compare if you ask me to compare the period under Saddam Hussein. But at least, you know, life used to be stable. You know things used to be predictable. But after the invasion, life has become, you know, bad as well but the problem is that there's the element of surprise and, you know, most of the time the surprises weren't good. We would hear that a loved one of yours had gotten killed or you know injured or receive threats or whatever. So the element of stability and predictability, that's the element we used to suffer from. But I can tell you that things are a little bit better than they used to be before. As I said there's still a lot that must be done. Yes.
Celeste Headlee: Okay. Waria Salihi, you actually -- things were bad enough in Iraq that you actually left the country and came to the United States and returned after the invasion. Is that correct?
Waria Salihi: Yes, that's correct.
Celeste Headlee: And you started a non-profit which does microfinance projects for business people in Iraq now.
Waria Salihi: Yeah. Actually for poor people who have no access to conventional funds or the banks.
Celeste Headlee: So with your clients that come in to get financing for their businesses, what kind of sense do you get from them? Do you -- o you get --as you heard from Lubna that there's less stability but a better country now?
Waria Salihi: Well, yes, to be fair. There is less stability but it's a better country and people like us, we believe that the country has a chance to become a good country down the road when at the time, prior to 2003, there was no such a feeling or chance for Iraq ever transformed to an open society, open market, open media and so on. So we have a chance but also, to be fair, in the last seven years a lot more progress should have been done which has not been done, in my view. The government could be much more transparent and more institutional rather than a lot of corruption and so on.
Celeste Headlee: So you were in the United States for awhile and you've had a chance to see elections as they work here and the elections as they worked in Iraq recently. Do you feel like there's a burgeoning, fair democracy in Iraq? Your own version there in your country?
Waria Salihi: I-I think this one was much better if you compare them and use them as a measurement to the last one. This one was much fairer than the past one, however, there's no way to compare the Iraqi elections which happened 2 weeks ago to the US elections because there's a lot of mismanagement, no system in place and, to some extent, there is corruption and playing with ballots and playing with people's votes. But I think if I personally compare to the last one, there's a bit of of progress and we are going toward hopefully an open, fair election.
Lubna Naji's remarks hint at something Abdu Rahman and Dahr Jamail (IPS) reported on earlier:Under Saddam Hussein, women in government got a year's maternity leave; that is now cut to six months. Under the Personal Status Law in force since Jul. 14, 1958, when Iraqis overthrew the British-installed monarchy, Iraqi women had most of the rights that Western women do.Now they have Article 2 of the Constitution: "Islam is the official religion of the state and is a basic source of legislation." Sub-head A says "No law can be passed that contradicts the undisputed rules of Islam." Under this Article the interpretation of women's rights is left to religious leaders – and many of them are under Iranian influence."The U.S. occupation has decided to let go of women's rights," Yanar Mohammed who campaigns for women's rights in Iraq says. "Political Islamic groups have taken southern Iraq, are fully in power there, and are using the financial support of Iran to recruit troops and allies. The financial and political support from Iran is why the Iraqis in the south accept this, not because the Iraqi people want Islamic law."With the new law has come the new lawlessness. Nora Hamaid, 30, a graduate from Baghdad University, has now given up the career she dreamt of. "I completed my studies before the invaders arrived because there was good security and I could freely go to university," Hamaid tells IPS. Now she says she cannot even move around freely, and worries for her children every day. "I mean every day, from when they depart to when they return from school, for fear of abductions."
From lawlessness to violence . . .
Reuters notes a Mosul bombing which injured two boys, two Baghdad roadside bombings left six people injured and a Mosul grenade attack left two people injured.
Reuters notes 1 truck driver shot dead in Mosul (his son was injured in the shooting), a Mosul home invasion left a 24-year-old woman dead and 1 man was shot dead in Baghdad.
Reuters notes 2 decapitated corpses were discovered in Shirqat (police officer and Iraqi solider).
In addition, Reuters notes, "A U.S. soldier was killed in combat operations in Baghdad, the U.S. military said in a statement." That would be at least the second US service member killed in combat this month. We don't draw that distinction the press does. If you're the family or loved one and lose someone in Iraq to a 'vehicle rollover' or whatever, it doesn't hurt less and doesn't make your loved one 'less dead.' But we're noting that because Gen David Petraeus was so highly inventive this week -- or maybe just selective -- when appearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee and the next day before the House Armed Services Committee. In both instances, he raised the combat deaths statistics. Bragging about how there hasn't been one since blah, blah, blah. Reality, when he gave that testimony, it was already known by the military that Pfc Erin L. McLyman had died Saturday, March 13th during an attack on the US military base in Balad.
Meanwhile Tony Blair told Bully Boy Bush that Bush made he feel sensual? What? For recap for the next item we'll note this from yesterday's snapshot:Still in England, Gordon Brown testified to the Iraq Inquiry March 5th. Miranda Richardson and Ruth Barnett (Sky News -- link has text and video) report that while taking questions on Wednesday Gordon Brown's claim to the Inquiry that when he was Chancellor (under Tony Blair) defense spending rose each year ("in real terms") and confronted, with it today, Brown admitted he had mispoken. [PDF format warning] Sky News has posted the letter from Brown here. Richardson and Barnett point out, "The four-page document does not acknowledge that the Prime Minister made an error in the way he described defence spending." Chris Ames (Iraq Inquiry Digest) gets the last word on Brown's letter, "It is typical Brown -- no admission of error, no apology, a lot of spin. It may be Brown's way of limiting the political damage, but to puff such a letter out with so much spin must have seriously alienated the Inquiry." Polly Curtis and Richard Norton-Taylor (Guardian) explain, "The prime minister was forced to correct his official evidence to the Chilcot inquiry -- which he repeated just last week in the commons -- after Ministry of Defence figures revealed that once inflation was accounted for, the budget declined in 1998, 1999, 2000, 2002 and 2007. The revelations are particularly damning because some of the real-term cuts spanned years when the armed forces were at war in Afghanistan and Iraq." James Kirkup (Telegraph of London) terms the incident "an embarrassing retreat". Quentin Letts (Daily Mail) observes, "The truth was extracted by Tony Baldry (Con, Banbury), who put his question in an unhysterical but assertive manner. Mr Baldry spoke along the lines of 'come on now, there's a good boy, say you're sorry, then we can all start afresh and nothing more will be said of the matter'. Mr Brown hated admitting it. Shades of a child drinking its spoonful of cod liver oil." Cathy Newman (Channel 4 News) quotes MP David Cameron offering his thanks to Brown, "In three years of asking the prime minister questions I don't think I've ever heard him make a correction or retraction." Nico Hines and Philippe Naughton (Times of London) note that Brown's correction still wasn't accurate since he claimed that it was only one or two years that his statements were incorrect: "In fact, it fell in three separate years, according to figures compiled by the House of Commons library -- four years if 1997/98 is included, although the financial year had already started when Labour came to power." Jon Craig (Sky News) wonders what other things Brown might "own up to between now and election day?"
Jason Groves (Daily Mail) reports, "Gordon Brown is under more pressure to return to the Chilcot inquiry today after he was forced into an humiliating admission that he had slashed defence spending while British troops were at war in Iraq and Afghanistan." Emma Alberici (Australia's ABC) observes, "The mistake is a blow to Mr Brown, coming just weeks before a general election is due to be held." Staying on the topic of the Iraq Inquiry, Andrew Sparrow was among the reporters covering the Inquiry for the Guardian and he notes today:
Andrew Rawnsley should have been put in charge of the Iraq inquiry. I've only just started his 800-page book, The End of the Party, but I've already picked up three key facts about Tony Blair's relationship with George Bush that haven't emerged from the Iraq inquiry hearings. Many of the figures interviewed by Rawnsley also gave evidence to Sir John Chilcot and his team. But Rawnsley seems to have asked the more searching questions.
Here are the revelations that struck me.
1. Blair told Bush: "Whatever you decide to do, I'm with you."
The inquiry has heard about the private letters that Blair sent to Bush in 2002. Alastair Campbell told Chilcot that the letters were "very frank" and that the central message was, in Campbell's words: "We share the analysis, we share the concern, we are going to be with you in making sure that Saddam Hussein is faced up to his obligations and that Iraq is disarmed." But the letters have not been published and the precise contents remain a secret.
So basically, Tony Blair sang Tina Turner's "Whatever You Want (Me To Do)" (from Tina's Wildest Dreams album) to Bush?
Whatever you want me to do, I will do it for you
Whatever you want me to be, I will be what you need
Because it's love that I feel whenever you're really near
I'm feeling sensual
I can't rely on myelf, I'm wanting you and no one else
You've got me wrapped up
In the US, individuals, organizations and groups are gearing up for the demonstrations Saturday. DC, Los Angeles and San Francisco have scheduled demonstrations. Those are three national actions, there will be actions in many communities. Michelle Rindels (The Union) reports on the action in Nevada City on Saturday:This year's event starts at 11 a.m. Saturday, March 20, with a rally in the parking lot at the intersection of Nevada and Broad streets and will feature music and speakers. Local musicians include The Shreds, Cool Hand Uke, Luke Wilson and Maggie McKaig, and Anytime Band.Marchers will continue up the sidewalks of Broad Street and end with a reception at the Peace Center, 216-B Main St., next to the South Yuba River Citizens League building. "It's not just for people to come out and express feelings about the war. It's about protesting the state of our economy," [Lorraine] Reich said. "We encourage everyone that has concerns about the economy to come out and demonstrate their democracy."
iraqthe guardianmartin chulovthe los angeles timesned parker
mcclatchy newspapershannah allamlaith hammoudi
ipsdahr jamailabdu rahman
the daily mailjason grovesabc newsemma alberici
the guardianandrew sparrow
the unionmichelle rindels
Read on ...
Thursday, March 11, 2010
That's one I remember. How come? Because I laughed when I got the idea and it's one that I will see when I'm trolling the web. This one ended up at other sites. And not like the idiot who reposted my comic without permission in 2005 and wrote that nasty thing about how he didn't usually like my comics but this one he did.
Uh, thanks to you piece of chicken s**t from Australia who wouldn't call out your own ruler (John Howard -- a War Hawk who sent Australian troops to Iraq) but was so 'brave' that, from Down Under, he could call out the US. I hated that guy, I still do.
But this comic was hugely, hugely popular. It went up June 25, 2006 and I still get e-mails on it. It was perfect because it captured how invasive that administration was.
Isaiah's latest The World Today Just Nuts, "Bully Boy Finds New Ways To Invade Our Privacy." Bully
And here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"
Thursday, March 11, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, counting ballots continues, breast cancer is on the rise in Iraq, the US Congress hears about problems veterans face as small business owners, and more.
This morning, US House Rep Stephanie Herseth Sandlin chaired the House Veterans Affairs' Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity. The hearing revolved around the Center for Veterans Enterprise. CVA, the VA explains, "is solely dedicated to assisting veterans in starting and building businesses."
In her opening remarks, Chair Herseth Sandlin explained, "As many of our witnesses will testify, small businesses are an essential component to a strong economy. This Subcommittee has held several hearings on the challenges faced by our nation's veterans seeking to start and develop a small business. We have also heard from many members of the National Guard and Reserve components who find it challenging to maintain their small businesses when called to active duty. I want to assure our panelists that this Subcommittee will continue to work to remove barriers that prevent veterans from accessing the services that may help them succeed in their small business venture."
Ranking Member John Boozman noted that Herseth Sandlin and he had "worked on creating additional tools for VA to meet and exceed the contracting goals for disabled veteran owned small business in the 109th Congress. The results of our efforts culminated in Sections 502 and 503 of Public Law 109-461. I believe it is fair to say the passage of that law was viewed very favorably by veteran small business owners. Unfortunately, we have a situation where VA appears to be dragging its feet in implementing one of the very important provisions of that law and that is establishing a data base of veteran and veteran-owned small businesses whose status as a veteran-owned small business has been verified by the VA. In other words, the only companies that should be viewed by someone searching the database are those which have been vetted by VA. Unfortunately, that is not the case. As you can see on the monitors -- we're really high tech today -- we've accessed the VA's vendor information pages database of veteran owned businesses. Although the law clearly limits the businesses listed in the database to those whose veteran-owned status has been validated by the VA, the monitor clearly shows businesses that have not been validated. VA staff notes have pointed out that the little reflow notes a veteran-owend business. I don't know about you, but it's hard to view that as satisfactory to separate the verified from the unverified. [If you click here, the "(-)" -- red dash in parenthesis is what he's pointing to.] First of all, there's no legend that identifies the symbol as meaning the company has been verified. For example, in the screen shown here, seven of the ten businesses listed have not been verified."
Boozman noted that it is three years after the passage of the law and VA has not followed it. The database was supposed to allow others to utilize it to ensure support for veteran-owned small busineses and that, unless verified by VA (as the law mandates), no business should be listed. Boozman added, "VA has presented Congress with four budges since this became law and to my knowledge not any of those budgets requested any additional resources to comply with the law." He spoke of the millions that veterans have lost out on due to fraudlent businesses posing as veteran-owned and disabled veteran-owned when they weren't.
The first panel appearing before the Subcommittee was composed of National Veteran-Owned Business Association's Scott Denniston, Paralyzed Veterans of America's Richard Daley, Vietnam Veterans of America's Richard F. Weidman, the American Legion's Joseph C. Sharpe Jr. and American Veterans' Christina M. Roof. Roof noted, in her opening remarks, that their complaints appear to have been ignored, that they haven't been listened to at CVE.
Chair Stephanie Herseth Sandlin: If CVE has become overwhelmed by the verification process, and I think others of you have talked about in terms of resources, training -- can you provide us with more specifics about what you think the requiste resources need to be, what type of contractor support does CVE need to be successful and maybe an overarching question should CVE -- should that office be formalized by statute? I think someone had testified to the importance of a separate line item in the budget but any -- a question for any of you.
Scott Dennison: I don't know that it needs to be necessarily set in statute, the office itself. I do believe that it needs a line item for the budget for the reasons that all of us on the panel have discussed. I think that the issue of resources -- in the beginning, when we started the verification process with CVE, we knew that the initial challenge was going to be to take care of that first bubble of applicants. At that time, I think we had 12,000 people in the database. And we always felt that we needed contractor support for that, to help with the administration of the applicants themselves to do some of the site visits that we had planned. And then the goal always was to be able to maintain that once we got over the initial hump with VA staff. And, as to the resources that were going to be necessary to do that. We didn't really have a firm handle on that because this was new territory to all of us but we did make some projections as to what they should be and, as I think I mentioned in my testimony, some of those resources were in fact approved about 18 months ago. To my knowledge, they haven't been forthcoming and I can't answer that.
Chair Stephanie Herseth Sandlin: And they were approved by the Board of Directors of this --
Scott Dennison: The supply fund, right.
Chair Stephanie Herseth Sandlin; The supply fund, okay.
Richard Weidman: We believe that it should be enacted in the statute. If it's worth doing, it's worth doing formally and it should be a line item. And we would also suggest that while they may be in charge of verification that's not their primary role. If you view the service-disabled veteran program as a program, it needs to be built in and encouraged by VA VOC Rehab and perhaps some changes in that section of Title 38. There's no reason why we can't bring back the old loan fund that's still been on the books since 1994 for start up capital if, in fact, people have a solid business plan. I mean there's -- Mr. Buyers introduced legislation to do that and we strongly support that. And it can become a locus. I believe that Mr. Dennison is absolutely correct: You can't do business development in South Dakota from Washington, DC. But you darn sure can find out who is the people in South Dakota either at the small business development center, at the state economic development work with the County Executive Associations which does have an office in Washington, DC to find out who do they have in economic development that you can send service disabled and other veteran owned businesses too. That should be the primary purpose. In terms of contracting out, as I mentioned before, the veteran verification really only needs to be done once. You can double check if somebody's service connected but even that doens't go away. Since there's no minimum threshold to be declared a service-connected disabled vet, once you're service-connected, you're service-connected. It might go down to zero if your cancer goes into remission but you're still a service-connected disabled vet. So you only need to do that once and frankly you can do that through automated comparisons of that individual to the databases that VA already has or has access to at DoD through the interagency agreement. [. . . -- ]
Christina Roof: If I may I just want to, Rick, you said something that, it's really been bothering me and a lot of our members. The hinderance of the re-certification on an annual basis? We've all sat up here and said "We need tougher certification processes in place." And I -- we still all believe that but this is not the best way to go about it. We already have a backlog of nine to twelve months to get original certification. So when should -- If I was a service disabled veteran -- when should I reapply for my next year's certification? Three months after I apply for the first one? Just so I make sure there's not a gap there. And also, it's almost seems unfair that veterans aren't being provided the equal protections under the law and they're made to do this extra work. So I'm hoping that maybe the next panel can shed a little light on this for us. Of what the thought behind this recertification every year would do and how they plan on handling on it because I know our membership would really like to know. Thank you.
The other panel was the VA's Tim J. Foreman (with backup singers Iris Cooper, Philipa Anderson). For reference, the first panel raised the issue (especially Roof) of how the VA would allow a small business veteran owner to only list one of his/her businesses in the database. They did not feel this was fair or needed. The Chair raises the issue with Foreman.
Chair Stephanie Herseth Sandlin: Thank you, Mr. Foreman. When did you formally take over this position.
Tim Foreman: About seven weeks ago.
Chair Stephanie Herseth Sandlin: And you were with the Department of Defense before that?
Tim Foreman: That is correct, ma'am. I did retire from the Department of Defense but people approached me before I retired and said, "Are you interested?" I said, "I have a passion for this program. I know the vets. I have worked with them. I have many friends. I'm a veteran." So.
Chair Stephanie Herseth Sandlin: So what are your initial thoughts about some of the testimony you heard on the first panel?
Tim Foreman: Well some of them I happen to believe are true.
Chair Stephanie Herseth Sandlin: Do you agree that there may be an unreasonable limit on one business being listed?
Tim Foreman: I'm sorry?
Chair Stephanie Herseth Sandlin: Do you agree with the general sentiment of the first panel that it's an unduly restrictive limit to only allow one business to be listed by a service connected disabled veteran.
Tim Foreman: You know, when I read that, before I ever talked to anybody, it was just by myself, and I went through that and I questioned right then and there because I own a business. I inherited a business and I have seven brothers -- none of them want to do any business with it, so they give it to me. I'm 500 miles away running a golf course. I am not there full time. But I hire, I fire, I do policy, I work with the advertising, I work with the lawyers --
Chair Stephanie Herseth Sandlin: You have effective control and ownership.
Tim Foreman: So I have effective control. and I'm not there. If you want me to be wearing an apron and flipping a burgers out in the eighteenth hole well that's a different issue. I think that's a little bit tight. So that's just a personal opinion. I tell you, I do have a great staff. I mean the energy there, the passion is there, the brains are there. What I think I need to do is bring some things together and I think I can make it happen. We've already started hiring 3 new people for the Center Veterans Enterprise, so that's happened. I brought in one person so far. We've got another one that might come in and I'mt rying to hire a third. So both sides of the house are growing. The limitation at this point is not the people, it's where we're going to put them.
In his testimony, he noted that he had spoken with the Inspector General about fraud that had been outlined but he had been asked not to speak of his testimony.
As Ann noted last night, Deborah Amos was a guest on Fresh Air (NPR -- link has audio and text option) yesterday. Ann observed, "Big problem I had with Amos? The Shi'ites were backed by the US. They were put in charge. Sunnis making that claim were not suggesting anything outrageous and I have no idea why she'd want to pretend that they were." That's an important point. Amos blames the 'civil war' (ethnic cleansing to others) on the Sunnis. Why? She has no proof. But that's who she blames it on. She says that Sunnis "started the sectarian war. They felt that the Ameircans had sided with the Shiites when they came into the country." That's exactly what happened -- it's not what Sunnis say happened, it's what happened.
The Americans underscored the split by setting up centers for Iraqis to report to and they divided them by asking, "Are you Sunni or Shia?" Many Iraqis have spoken of that and have spoken of how, for them, it was the first time they remember the question being put to them by some authority type. The split was underlined and underscored by the US. Equally true, who got put in charge by the US?
Deborah knows the answer to that: ". . . the Shias are in the majority in Iraq. And the second thing is they had government institutions. They were the head of the interior ministry, the defense ministry, and so they had militias in government uniforms, in police uniforms, and they went after the Sunni community very seriously as did the militias that were not tied to the government." It is not speculatin that the US sided with the Shia, it is reality. This is a good time to note Qais Nawwaf (CounterCurrents) refuting a column by Paul Craig Roberts:
Even if we were to assume Iraq's Muslims aren't united enough for Roberts' taste, he seems to have ignored the USA's critical divide-and-conquer role in Iraq. He doesn't appear aware of the USA's deployment of Shii and Kurdish troops to battle Sunni cities, such as Fallujah in November 2004. He ignores the USA's political and financial support of sectarian parties, politicians and clergymen.
A stronger section of the interview follows (Terry Gross is the host of Fresh Air):
GROSS: A lot of Iraqi exiles have gone to Syria. You point out in the book it's the only remaining Baathist regime in the world. So there's a lot of Sunni in the country. So Sunni exiles from Iraq have the potential of feeling comfortable there. But for the exiles in Syria, they're not allowed to work. Why aren't they allowed to work?
AMOS: They aren't allowed to work any place they go. This is not just a Syrian rule. It's in Jordan. It's in Lebanon. It's everyplace they go in the Middle East: Egypt, Turkey. Refugees really can't work in those communities because those communities are having their own problems with enough jobs for their own population, although there is plenty to do in the gray economy. Mostly, it's the kids who work. You can get a job putting charcoal on a narguila(ph) at a restaurant. You see little boys doing that in a lot of places. You can put you 14-year-old out to work in a factory. And many, many of the women have turned to what's called survival sex, and I spent plenty of time with Iraqi prostitutes, women who were not prostitutes when they left the country but turned to it because it was one way that you could support your family. And when you arrive as a single, female-headed household - and about one-quarter of the exiles in Damascus are in that category - and you have no skills and your family is not going to support you because you almost - most likely have come from a mixed marriage. You're a Sunni who'd been married to a Shiite, so your family is no longer going to support you and his family is not going to support you - you turn to survival sex.
GROSS: You interviewed one person in particular who admitted that she was into that. You knew other people who did but wouldn't necessarily admit it. And you went with this woman to a club where, basically, men find prostitutes. And I'd like you to describe, first of all, her physical transformation when she went to the club with you.
AMOS: Well, I had met her at her home. We had been - I had an introduction from a translator from Iraq. And the first time I saw her was at 11 o'clock in the morning, and she had on a chartreuse track suit, velour, runny makeup, her hair up in a ponytail, cracked fingernails, and, you know, she looked like she'd had a very hard night. She eventually invited me to come to her favorite nightclub, and we met at midnight, and I didn't recognize Umnor(ph). She looked fabulous. Her hair was as shiny as a horse pelt, tons of mascara, big ruby lips. Her fingernails were long and red and a very black, clingy pair of pants. I would have walked by her in the street.
Deborah Amos is a reporter for NPR, she's written a new book, Eclipse of the Sunnis, and the first chapter is available online and the Fresh Air staff have paired some links to her previous reporting for NPR on Iraq with that. We noted Amos' comments on some Iraqi women and we'll stay with the topic of Iraqi women because the American Association for Cancer Research has issued a release noting that breast cancer rates in Iraq continue to move upwards and, of the group diagnosed with cancer, "Although 90.6 percent of women detected a lump on self-examination, only 32 percent sought medical advice within the first month. Because of this, 47 percent of them presented with advanced stage breast cancer, either stage III or IV cancer."
Turning to elections, Facebook. Really? Maj Gen Anthony Cucolo shares at Facebook:
"It's a little after 2200 hours, we still have QRFs out across the battlespace with some tired Marne Soldiers making sure their Iraqi counterparts get those ballots to the security of the ballot warehouses (where more tired Marne Soldiers are with their Iraqi partners guarding the warehouses -- at the request of the Iraqi government)...
It was a great day -- our most dangerous place -- Ninewa -- was declared by Al Jazeera midday today, "The safest place in Iraq to vote..."; the enemy threw everything they had at our Diyala Province -- 66 different events (IEDs, attacks, indirect fire)...and of 36 direct attacks, only 4 caused any damage or casualties...the Iraqis stepped up, kicked butt, and the citizens walked right thru it...
Voter turnout numbers still coming in, but it looks like 60 - 70 percent overall...and remember, this is the first time they are voting for PEOPLE, individual candidates, and not some party or list...
Democracy lives in the Middle East...I am proud of these people and our Soldiers.
Rock of the Marne!
Accompanying his post is a photo of an Iraqi male -- are we suprised -- showing his ink-stained finger (indicated he's voted) while a woman is behind him and the photo cuts off her head -- are we surprised? The US military likes to throw a lot out there, don't they? The brass always hopes something sticks. Ernesto Londono (Washington Post) reports that, privately, they are admitting that Sunday was plagued by violence despite attempting to Operation Happy Talk the violence away, "But the military has since concluded that at least 30 of Sunday's attacks, which included bomb blasts, rocket attacks and small-arms fire, killed or wounded people. A U.S. official provided the data to The Washington Post on the condition of anonymity because it is at odds with the public statements of senior military officials."
Ahmed Rasheed, Rania El Gamal, Aseel Kami, Waleed Ibrahim, Jim Loney and Ralph Boulton (Reuters) report ballots continue to be counted in Iraq. Marc Santora (New York Times) notes preliminary results which indicate that it is "an exceedingly close race." Which would normally indicate that it's too close to make calls. So we'll wait until more votes are counted (30% of the vote really shouldn't be released, that's beyond laughable). Santora notes the madcap cut-up Ahmed Chalabi is demanding candidates see the tallies before the public does. No, Chalabi doesn't even pretend to embrace democracy. Leila Fadel (Washington Post) reports some Sunnis are very nervous about the outcome and that one man she spoke with is planning to leave Iraq as a result of the 'early release' or 'early figures' on the voting (which Fadel notes is only a partial count of four provinces in Iraq).
Turning to some of today's reported violence . . .
Reuters notes a Baghdad roadside bombing injured two people and, dropping back to Wednesday for all that follows, 2 Iraqis were shot dead by US and Iraqi forces, a Mosul roadside bombing left two people injured and a police officer was injured in two Mosul roadside bombings.
Figure out the phrase, solve the puzzle and meet B___ C___ P____ Nathan Hodge and his bad article at The Nation. Read it and feel informed if partial truths are what you want. If reality is what you want, grasp that either Hodge is lying to you or The Nation made him lie. Michele Flournoy? I personally know that little War Pusher. We've called her out repeatedly. He identifies her as one of two "former Clinton administration officials" at CNAS and then mentions, much later, that she's number three at the Pentagon. Apparently, she installed herself?
What the chicken s**t Baby C___ P____ can't or won't tell you is that Barack picked her for the position. They're still covering up for War Hawk Barry, the man they lied to install, at The Nation. And they have their own problems so you can't get an honest accounting of Michele and other's entry to Obama -- which started long before 2007. As usual, when there's a foul stench, look to Sarah Sewall and Samantha Power. Obama's installed Hawks and that's only a surprise if you're a Nation reader where Power's always been allowed to present as a voice of peace -- she's even allowed to lie and pretend she was against the Iraq War. The Nation refused to do articles on Barack's inner circle -- despite one attack on Hillary's people after another. Michele supported Barry's presidential campaign and was part of the 'inner sanctum' along with many, many other War Hawks. Not only did The Nation refuse to tell you about it in real time but today they write an article that makes it appear Michele Flournoy ('former Clinton official') either installed herself at the Pentagon or has held that position since the Clinton era. No, Barack gave her that position. But The Nation can't stop lying.
Baby C___ Pants wants to act like he's done something special when all he's done is write yet another cover up for a War Hawk. It's getting really damn old and, truth be told, if Katrina wasn't pissed that she and her father (and the Roosevelt Institution which they run like a private club) were shut out of the administration, Hodges article wouldn't even be running as weak as it is.
Liars like Tom-Tom Hayden want to scratch their heads and appear puzzled when they notice a War Hawk around Barack -- act like it's surprising. It's not surprising at all. When Barack brought War Hawk Samantha Power onto his Senate team in 2005, where he stood on the issues was immediately clear. (Poor Dumb Tom Hayden. Barack kept insisting -- sneering -- that he was't "one of those Tom Hayden Democrats" and even then stupid couldn't buy a clue.) Tom showed a tiny bit of bravery at his blog some time ago when he called out the War Hawk Factory that is the Carr Center at Harvard. In the many, many years since, he's not done a damn thing on the topic nor has The Nation magazine. If half-truths and evasions make you feel informed, pick a copy of The Nation. If reality's what you want, grasp that independent media does not serve you and Ava's saying right now that she and I are addressing that at Third this Sunday, we'll do a piece on Pacifica, a walk-through of how "Peace" Radio ensures that no peace will ever come about. March 20th, many organizations, groups and individuals will be participating in the march for peace in DC, San Francisco and Los Angeles. For more, you can refer to Debra Sweet's "Why Protest on March 20?" (World Can't Wait):
A week from Saturday, protests are scheduled for Washington, DC; LA; San Francisco, and smaller cities around the country. I'll be in DC, helping to surround the White House as the ANSWER coalition notes on March20.org: Anti-War Leaders: "Why I am Marching on March 20"
"Visible protest-marching to stop the crimes of our government-makes a difference because we show what we won't accept, and we learn what we're up against. These wars are not legitimate. People around the world must see that we don't support them, and know that to us, American lives are not more important than their own. Join World Can't Wait Saturday March 20 in protest..." Read more
What about you?
► Publicize and find flyers for your March 20 protests.
Staying with the US, Senator John Kerry is the Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and Tuesday his office issued the following:
BOSTON -- Senator John Kerry today announced his support for the Military Readiness Enhancement Act (S. 3065).
The Military Readiness Enhancement Act contains three main provisions: it will repeal the law that prevents gay Americans from openly serving in the military, prohibit discrimination against current and prospective service members on the basis of sexual orientation, and promote the ability of college students who wish to serve our country to join Reserve Officer Training Corps units at universities that currently prevent the establishment of ROTC units on campus.
"We're overdue to wipe away the last stain of legal discrimination in our Armed Services," said Senator Kerry. "Gays and lesbians should not have to hide who they are to be able to serve their country. President Obama, Admiral Mullen, Secretary Gates, former Secretary Powell, and -- most importantly -- our troops are speaking out, and it's past time we listened."
The bill was introduced by Senators Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) and Carl Levin (D-MI) and has the support of 22 additional Senators.
Lastly, TV note. NOW on PBS begins airing Friday on most PBS stations (check local listings):
Two men on a remarkable journey high in the Himalayas investigate
threats to global water and food supply. Next on NOW
change will cause some of the world's largest glaciers to completely
melt by 2030. What effect will this have on our daily lives, especially
our water and food supply? With falling low on a national
list of American concerns, it's time to take a deeper look at what could
be a global calamity in the making.
On Friday, March 12 at 8:30 pm (check local listings), David Brancaccio
and environmentalist -- one of the world's leading high
altitude climbers - trek to the in the Himalayan
Mountains, the source of the Ganges River, to witness the great melt and
its dire consequences first-hand. The two also visit Montana's Glacier
National Park to see the closer to
home and learn how across the world can have a direct
impact on food prices in the U.S.
Along the way, Brancaccio and Anker bathe in the River Ganges, view a
water shortage calamity in India, and see with their own eyes and
cameras the tangible costs of .
"We can't take climate change and put it on the back burner," warns
Anker. "If we don't , we won't be around as
Visit http://www.pbs.org/now/shows/516/ right now to watch an extended
hour-long version of the program, and to access David's 12-day
photo-filled travel journal from their trek.
the new york times
Read on ...