Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Swinging Values Candidate Newt Gingrich


When I look at that one, "The Swinging Values Candidate Newt Gingrich" (March 11, 2007), my first question is: What was Newt doing?

He was in the news for something and preaching values but that's all I remember about the cartoon. I thought, "What an ass, where does he get off preaching to anyone?" I felt like, by 2007, we all knew what a joke he was. So I just didn't understand his attempts at resurfacing.

But, other than that, I really can't remember what he did that inspired the cartoon. Maybe he published a book?

Isaiah's latest The World Today Just Nuts "The Swingin

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

Thursday, October 28, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, WikiLeaks continues to be in the news, the call for an investigation into abuse and torture grows, the political stalemate continues and more.
Late Friday, WikiLeaks released 391,832 US military documents on the Iraq War. The documents -- US military field reports -- reveal torture and abuse and the ignoring of both. They reveal ongoing policies passed from the Bush administration onto the Obama one. They reveal that both administrations ignored and ignore international laws and conventions on torture. They reveal a much higher civilian death toll than was ever admitted to. Calls are coming in from officials in many countries for an investigation -- including from the UK, Norway and Israel -- and from the United Nations High Commissoner for Human Rights and the United Nations' Special Rapporteur on Torture. Russia's RIA Novsoti reports, "Moscow has called on Washington to hold an investigation into mass human rights violations committed by U.S. servicemen during the military campaign in Iraq between 2004 and 2009, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko said on Thursday."
Today Robert Fisk appeared on Australia's Lateline (ABC) and, among other questions, host Tony Jones asked him what the documents released by WikiLeaks meant?
Robert Fisk: First of all, the individual items like, you know, there are witnesses, American witnesses to torture, they didn't do anything, that the Iraqis -- security authorities were torturing Iraqis, that American air strikes were killing many civilians. We knew about this, but it was always denied by the Americans. I was doing stories years ago about Iraqis torturing Iraqis and the stories were coming from American officers who were leaking them to me. But of course every time I wrote them in the paper, the Americans denied that it was true. I went to the scenes of US air strikes. They were obviously limbs, hands, arms of children, babies, women, civilians, as well sometimes as armed men, and we wrote about this. What the WikiLeaks does is it proves beyond any doubt that what we reported was correct and that what we were told by the American authorities was mendacious, it was a lie. Just remember, the Americans now are saying, "Shame upon WikiLeaks. It's endangering lives in Iraq." I mean, invading Iraq endangered an awful lot of lives, didn't it? But, you know, if these leaks, if these 400,000 documents had confirmed that the Americans did stop torture, that they didn't kill civilians and air strikes, you know, US generals' be hadning this stuff out free of charge to journalists on the front steps of the Pentagon. It's the fact that it proves how shameful our invasion and occupation of Iraq was that this has come as such a blow to the United States -- and only, I might add, to the West. You know, the reaction in the Arab world, when they looked through all stuff in the Arabic language press, particularly in Baghdad, was, "Well, so what's new? We knew all this. We were the people being tortured. We were the people being bombed by the Americans." It's in the West that we're saying, "My goodness! Is that the case? So the generals lied." That's the big signifance at this particular point of this. One bigger significance, I think -- and it was Al Jazeera who actually picked this up -- was that this famous 242 message, which tells US troops from higher headquarters, presumably Ricardo Sanchez when he was a general in Baghdad, which syas, "If you see abuse taking place, not by Americans, report it, but basically, just do nothing."
In the US, media coverage has tended to fall into two camps "no big deal" and non-existant. For so-called 'independent' media, it has pretty much been non-existant. Danny Schechter -- at ZNet, Canadian media -- examines US MSM coverage and finds it lacking. But readers may find it lacking that, in Danny's criticism, no one appears to do anything. We never get the names of the ones called out. CNN does a crappy interview and we're not told who with CNN did the interview. We noted her Sunday: TV personality Atika Shubert disgraced herself but don't look for CNN to discipline her, she did what government officials wanted, attacked Julian Assange and turned a supposed interview about WikiLeaks into a smear against his person with unfounded rumors. There's no whore like a corporate whore. Danny Shea (Huffington Post) has video of the character attack here. Katherina-Marie Yancy (AP) notes the WikiLeaks documents demonstrate that the body count was far higher than the US government admitted to -- the documents, remember, are US military documents. That would mean, to say what the AP won't, the US government lied. [. . .] Atika Shubert could have addressed that, instead she wanted to go smutty, she wanted to go whory. It won't be forgotten. News Whore Atika was too damn lazy to do the work required for a real character assassination. Not only is she a whore, she's a damn lazy whore. If someone's denied charges (that were dropped), you either get the records or you get the witnesses. That's how you do a character assassination. But apparently whores are very limited in the number of tricks they can be taught. Atika Shubert just destroyed her image today. There will be no rebuilding of it. She will not be trusted by large numbers of the public. CNN will have to use her 'sparingly'. Not because they doubt she'll whore for them, she so obviously will. But she's now a known whore. We've all seen her whoring. She can't play journalist now and be believed by many. Danny's far too kind to call her a media whore but he still could name her. Danny calls out a story in the New York Times which . . . apparently wrote itself? The bylines Danny fails to provide: John F. Burns and Ravi Somaiya. A CJR piece he calls out is easier to understand (the lack of billing) because it has multiple authors; however, the section Danny's calling out was written by Lauren Kirchner and a lot more from that article needs to be called out. Is CJR receiving government funds or taking in government embeds? That's especially a required question when we're dealing with someone (Joel Meares) whoring for I-Hate-Iran Michael Gordon. The report cannot accurately assert, as Gordo and Andrew W. Lehren claim, where kidnapped victims were kidnapped unless they witnessed the kidnapping. That's a basic of journalism and CJR should have caught that. Instead they joined Gordo in his War On Iran by presenting a claim as fact -- and they can't back it up.
And if we're going to criticize CJR (I know three with CJR, I've never shied from criticizing it and they've never shied from hurling zingers back this way) and specifically that piece, let's criticize for their MASSIVE FAILURE. That piece ends how? The last section is a British news channel being evaluated. Justin Peters writes that section and ends it -- and the piece -- with this statement: "We'll be watching for the station's full program on Monday." Well, --
Did Channel 4 air it?
Or -- did they go off the air?
Because Monday came and went and where was CJR? In fact on Thursday, we still don't have a press coverage package as promised. Where is it? Go through Campaign Desk (yes, they're using that whorish name again after retiring it in 2004) and you'll never find it. Now their inattention to the Iraq War is appalling. However, in this case, it's appalling that they can't even deliver what they promise at their own site. No one forced them to write that they would catch Channel 4. They said they would. Why are they unable to keep their word and why should we believe them if they can't keep it? (They will argue this Joel Meares blog post -- in praise of that hideous article written by Burnsie & Snowball attacking Julian Assange -- and this Clint Hendler piece calling out the Washington Post editorial board cover it. No, that's not what was promised. On Monday, we were led to believe that they would address the coverage. Instead, they napped all week basically but managed to toss out two tiny blog posts.)
Danny's article is at ZNet where you can also find this listing:
Look in vain at US 'independent media' because our publications can't be bothered. Not The Progressive, not In These Times, not The Nation. Elaine wrote Tuesday:
Matthew Rothschild wants to maintain -- in his minute long radio spot -- that the WikiLeaks revelations reveal "just how immoral the Iraq War has been." First, I don't use "moral" or "immoral." I'll use "ethical" and "criminal" as terms but I'm not part of the morality police. Second, if Rothschild thinks it's "immoral," here's what twice as "immoral" the refusal of him and everyone at his magazine to write a damn thing on the WikiLeaks.
He's the one tossing around "immoral." So why can't he write about it? Why can't he have everyone write about it, everyone at the magazine?
That would tear away from The Progressive's efforts to turn out the vote for the Democratic Party in next Tuesday's elections.
I'm sick of The Whoring of America and sick of The Progressive and The Nation dropping the ball over and over because they're too damn busy whoring for the Democratic Party.

Elaine's absolutely right. I don't use the "immoral" term either. For the same reasons as Elaine. But if you're going to use it, if you're going to judge in that way and deem something or someone "immoral," you really need to explore the topic for more than fifty seconds or you are the one who will appear "immoral" for refusing to address a subject you pretend to take so damn seriously. Matthew's added another audio commentary. If you put them both together, you almost have two minutes -- minus bumper music -- of coverage of WikiLeaks. That's supposed to cut it? Although, to his credit, Matthew's not wearing garish make up including lipstick that's about 15 years (I'm being kind) too young for him. For that, you have to check out The Nation's website -- or as most refer to it, "Katrina's Bulletin Board." Katrina, marrying your professor may make you feel like the eternal student but you are not, however, still 21. When it comes to appearances, she's quickly becoming the Ayn Rand of the left. At The Nation, you will find a piece by Laura Flanders that has "WikiLeaks" in the title and tosses out the term a few times in the article and led a friend at the magazine to call yesterday evening wanting a quote in the snapshot. But, as it was read to me -- one potential pull-quote after another -- it became obvious the piece is not, in fact, about WikiLeaks. We addressed that this morning and we'll again note: You can't read her today without grasping how consumed with disappointment and envy she is. And maybe that's what whoring brings? She's still whoring. Laura our supposedly pro-choice Socialist is praising anti-choice Tim Kaine as "savvy" in her so-called WikiLeaks column. There's no ass she won't kiss. Meanwhile In These Times is apparently gunning for an "outstanding civilians" award from the Pentagon. How else to explain that WikiLeaks' revelations have never been written about at the site? James Weinstein is groaning from the grave but, hey, they might win a Publications Improvements award from DoD!
Apparently the bulk of Panhandle Media doesn't read anything heavier than (Democratic Party) campaign pamphlets. If that is indeed the problem, please adopt-an-independent-media 'reporter' long enough to read them the following from IPA:
Stieber is a veteran of the Bravo Company documented in the video "Collateral Murder," released earlier this year by WikiLeaks.

The British Telegraph reports: "An American military legal adviser told helicopter crew that Iraqi men were valid targets as they could not surrender to aircraft, the documents show.

"The Apache helicopter killed the two insurgents after being told that they were still legitimate targets even though they were offering to lay down their arms.

"It is thought that the aircraft, Crazyhorse 18, was the same helicopter involved in the killing of two Reuters journalists later in the war."

Stieber said today: "We've been trying even before the initial WikiLeaks video came out to say that this kind of behavior is not out of the ordinary. The fact that the helicopter unit got the go-ahead to kill Iraqis attempting to surrender shows that it's policy."

He is a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War, which just released a statement on the Iraq War Logs, "A Call for Accountability".

Last week Stieber wrote the piece "Iraq Vet to Congress: Don't Cover Up Wikileaks' Iraq Revelations."

The Guardian reports: "U.S. and UK officials have insisted that no official record of civilian casualties exists but the logs record 66,081 non-combatant deaths out of a total of 109,000 fatalities."

Jarrar, recently back from Iraq, is an Iraqi-American blogger, political analyst and architect. He was in Iraq during the 2003 invasion where he established and directed the first door-to-door civilian casualties survey in Iraq. He said today: "These documents provide us with candid snapshots of what foreign military occupations look like where Iraqis are killed, injured and tortured. Contrary to the spin many are attempting to put on the disclosure, the take-away point is not that the U.S. just stood there while Iraqis harmed other Iraqis, but that this military occupation has been brutal and destructive, and that it must end now."

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167
There's a ton of people they can interview but IPA provides them with two and easy access. Yesterday on The Brian Lehrer Show (WNYC), Lehrer spoke to the Guardian's Simon Rogers.
Brian Lehrer: Is the most important new thing the numbes of dead from the war which seems to be higher than previously reported.
Simon Rogers: I think it's the fact that we suddenly have all this incredible detail on the huge numbers of people who died and how they died and what happened? within the limitations of this enormous data base because big as it is it's not complete.
Reflecting on the revelations to be found in the documents, Osama Al Sharif (Pakistan Observer) offers:

IT is not a leak but a deluge. This is how the release of 391,832 classified intelligence documents on the whistle-blower website WikiLeaks, last week, on America's war in Iraq looked like. The information dump is the biggest of its kind in history. It will take many months for researchers and investigative journalists to sift through this and successive releases in order to piece together missing clues on what exactly happened in Iraq since the US-Anglo invasion of 2003. But the revelations have been stunning concerning the actual civilian death toll, cover-ups of torture in Iraqi prisons, Iran's sinister role in arming Shiite militias, the transgressions of private contractors, the implication of incumbent Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki in running death squads and inflaming sectarian violence, among others. The implications will be far-fetched and will last for many years to come. It is no wonder that the Pentagon and the State Department have denounced the release of this information as they did in previous cases. Their allegation that making such information public will endanger American lives and help the insurgents is preposterous. If anything the WikiLeaks war diaries will become the foundation for future investigations into one of the most controversial, unjustified and unethical wars in modern times. The revelations do only deal with what was actually taking place in Iraq at the height of the war, but bring to light distortions and lies concerning American motives, military conduct, political cover-ups, flawed administration policies, corruption and others.
The wealth of information of day-to-day observations and actions in the field by US military officers will make the Iraq War along with the ongoing one in Afghanistan one of the most documented military adventures in history. The wars are not seen through the eyes of embedded reporters, investigative journalists and future historians, but through hundreds of thousands of written communications produced by combatants in the battlefield. Never before has the big picture been so available through the reconstruction of minute details. The saying that truth is the first casualty of war aptly applies to Iraq. Public opinion and world governments have been led astray by US politicians who lied, fabricated facts and amplified fears about Iraq's alleged WMD capabilities.

Meanwhile, the Guardian examines worldwide media action with Martin Chulov covering Baghdad:

Iraq's media continues to probe two key themes from the WikiLeaks disclosures. Newspapers and television networks have focused heavily on the claim that prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, directed a counter-terrorism unit answerable only to him, which targeted predominantly Sunni areas. They have also examined disclosures that the numbers of civilian deaths throughout the eight-year war are 15,000 higher than previously stated.
The Iraqi News Network was typical of the tone: "The WikiLeaks documents revealed very important secrets," it said. "But the most painful among them are not those that focus on the occupier, but those that reveal what the Iraqi forces, Iraqi government and politicians did against their citizens. Those leaders who returned to remove Iraq from oppression toppled the dictator but then carried out acts that were worse than Saddam himself.
"If these documents make the US apologise to Iraqis, they should compel Mr Maliki to leave the political arena altogether and apologise to everyone."
The revelations have led to an uncomfortable week for Maliki, who has been battling to cobble together a coalition government that would allow him to lead the country for a second term. Members of Maliki's coalition have taken to the airwaves in an attempt to defuse fears that the leaked documents would make it harder for him to win cross-sectarian support.
March 7th, Iraq concluded Parliamentary elections. The Guardian's editorial board noted in August, "These elections were hailed prematurely by Mr Obama as a success, but everything that has happened since has surely doused that optimism in a cold shower of reality." 163 seats are needed to form the executive government (prime minister and council of ministers). When no single slate wins 163 seats (or possibly higher -- 163 is the number today but the Parliament added seats this election and, in four more years, they may add more which could increase the number of seats needed to form the executive government), power-sharing coalitions must be formed with other slates, parties and/or individual candidates. (Eight Parliament seats were awarded, for example, to minority candidates who represent various religious minorities in Iraq.) Ayad Allawi is the head of Iraqiya which won 91 seats in the Parliament making it the biggest seat holder. Second place went to State Of Law which Nouri al-Maliki, the current prime minister, heads. They won 89 seats. Nouri made a big show of lodging complaints and issuing allegations to distract and delay the certification of the initial results while he formed a power-sharing coalition with third place winner Iraqi National Alliance -- this coalition still does not give them 163 seats. They are claiming they have the right to form the government. In 2005, Iraq took four months and seven days to pick a prime minister. It's seven months and twenty-one days and still counting.

Sunday Richard Spencer (Telegraph of London) reported that Nouri insisted the release of the documents was politically motivated in an attempt to undercut him -- it's been a while since Nouri's trotted his vast paranoia across the world stage but longterm observers will remember it. Spencer noted that "part of the success he has claimed in bringing down the level of violence since he came to power has rested on his projection of a 'strongman' image. He has fought militias, including the Sadrists to whom he is now allied, and formed special security units to target suspected insurgents." Iraqiya points to the documents of proof that Nouri is a despot and Iraqiya spokesperson Maysoun al-Damluji is quoted stating, "Maliki wants to have all powers in his hands. Putting all the security powers in the hands of one person who is the general commander of the armed forces has led to these abuses and torture practices in Iraqi prisons." Iraqiya is calling for an investigation.
On Sunday's Weekend Edition (NPR, link has text and audio), Kelly McEvers reported, "The documents also detail wrongdoing by units that claimed they were directly connected to current Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. During the sectarian fighting the gripped Iraq from 2006 to 2008, it was widely believed that death squads sponsored by Maliki's Shiite-dominated government carried out killings against Sunnis. In a statement Maliki's office said there's nothing wrong with maintaining special counterterrorism forces, and the documents don't prove anything."
Maher Chmayteli and Nayla Razzouk (Bloomberg News) reported that Allawi is calling out the "oil and natural gas development contracts" Nouri has handed out on the grounds that Nouri's cabinet is outgoing and that, therefore, the contracts are illegal. Nouri's term expired some time ago. He's not supposed to be running anything. The US refused to allow the UN to set up a caretaker government while the election issues were resolved which is why Nouri's remained in his post. Not only is his term up, so is his cabinet. He doesn't even have a full cabinet at present and, in fact, the posts of Ministry of Oil and Ministry of Electricity -- two posts -- are being filled by one person -- without the approval of Parliament which also isn't supposed to take place. All cabinet posts are supposed to be approved by Parliament. Iraqiys presents numerous reasons for the contracts being illegal including Nouri signing off on them "with no reference to current laws such as Law 97 of 1967, which requires the consent of the Iraqi Parliament in the absence of a Federal Oil and Gas Law." Reuters adds, "Some lawmakers say the contracts all need to be approved by parliament, a view opposed by the oil ministry." But it forgets to weigh in on who's right? According to the Constitution, Parliament's approval is needed.
Jane Arraf (Christian Science Monitor via McClatchy) reports, "Iraqi thirsting for vengeance as much as justice welcomed the death sentence Tuesday of one of Saddam Hussein's best-known officials, Tariq Aziz. Hugh (Corrente) takes issue witha recent New York Times article by Jack Healy:
First, the article's author Jack Healy says that Aziz was "sentenced to death by an Iraqi court on Tuesday, convicted of crimes against members of rival Shiite political parties." Now to me this sounds like Healy is indicating that Aziz is himself Shia. He's not. He's Chaldean Christian. Alternately, Healy could be saying that Aziz was sentenced for crimes against various Shiite groups who are now at odds with each other. However, this too is false. Aziz was sentenced to death for crimes against members of only one Shiite group, Maliki's Dawa party.
And therein lies the story that the Times does not tell. Maliki himself along with most of the Dawa leadership fled to Iran in 1979. The following year about six months before the outbreak of the Iraq-Iran war, Dawa party members tried to assassinate Aziz. 1980 was also the year in which Maliki was sentenced in absentia to death by the Saddam regime. Maliki has scores to settle and he is settling them.
Unrelated except it's also Corrente, Libbyliberal has a piece on Ethan McCord sharing what he experienced in Iraq. Today Iraq continued to experience violence with Reuters reporting a Basra sticky bombing injuring one person, a Baghdad sticky bombing claiming the life of a police officer, a second Baghdad sticky bombing injuring a police brigadier general, a third Baghad sticky bombing which injured an employee of the Ministry of Housing and Construction, a Mosul suicide car bomber who took his own life as well as that of 1 police officer and left eight more people injured and, dropping back to last night, a Baghdad bombing which claimed 1 life and left two more people injured.
To be sure, the parallels should not be overstated. Anderson's documents totaled just a fraction of the tens of thousands of records posted on the Internet by WikiLeaks, whose Web site instantly makes its files available to anyone on the globe with the click of a mouse. In addition, Anderson was a seasoned reporter who took more care to disguise the identities of informants and to gather valuable corroborating information from interviews in the field.
Still, pioneers like Anderson and Assange are rarely respected in their own time by their establishment competitors. Just as the founder of WikiLeaks has been dismissed as a hacker/activist, so Anderson was "not a journalist," another columnist declared back in the day, but "a sewer pipe" whose reporting "goes beyond disloyalty; it sails close to the windward edge of treason." Such contempt was reciprocated by Anderson and Assange, who disparaged the press as mere stenographers for those in power.

Read on ...

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Bully Boy's Spreading the Pain Tour


That's "Bully Boy's Spreading the Pain Tour" from March 4, 2007. It's amazing when you think about how similar Bully Boy and Barack are.

What's Barack doing these days but a spreading the pain tour? And after the disaster that never lived up to the hyped title: "Recovery Summer."

We're on Lazy Number Two. The country can't take a lazy number three.

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

Thursday, October 21, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, Barack Obama attempts to stomp out the flames of freedom, Lt Dan Choi states Obama has "lost my trust," Nouri concludes his tour, the political stalemate continues, a woman whose husband died in Iraq last month shares why she feels the army is culpable in her husband's death, and more.
Starting in the US where DNAinfo quotes Dan Choi stating, "I have a message for Valerie Jarrett and all those politicians in the White House: You've lost my trust. You have lost my trust and I am not gonna vote for Barack Obama after what he did yesterday." What did he do yesterday? Showed yet another side of hypocrisy.
Lily is dancing
on the table
we've all been
too far
I guess on days
like this
you know who your
friends are
-- "Taxi Ride," written by Tori Amos, first appears on Scarlet's Walk
Lt Dan Choi was discharged from the military for the 'crime' of being gay. With federal Judge Virginia Phillips issuing a halt to discharges under Don't Ask, Don't Tell and the Pentagon telling recruiters that while Phillips' injunction on discharges is in place, they must not discriminate in recruiting against gays or lesbians (see Rebecca's "don't ask barack because he will tell" from last night), Dan Choi took action Tuesday. For a brief moment, equality appeared to exist. Betty's "Sick of the ass in the White House," Mike's "An ugly day," and Cedric's "Shame on you, Mark Sherman" and Wally's "THIS JUST IN! STOP WHORING!" covered the latest last night. For those who missed the news, Gillian Losh (Badger Herald) reports the latest in the ongoing Don't Ask, Don't Tell story:

A federal appeals court ruled to temporarily suspend a judge's ban overturning the "don't ask, don't tell" policy that prohibits openly gay and lesbian individuals from serving in the military.
The U.S. Justice Department filed an emergency motion with the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to stay the decision, arguing the injunction on the policy has caused "confusion and uncertainty" in the Pentagon and the military, according to the appeals filing.
The three-judge panel approved the short-term motion to stay while they study the issue and consider suspending the injunction for a longer period.

In an analysis, Devin Dwyer (ABC News -- link has text and video) offers an analysis:

The administration's handling of the case has angered critics on both sides of the issue. Gay rights advocates, infuriated by what they see as hypocrisy, and some legal scholars, insist the "duty to defend" has already been fulfilled and that there is ample precedent for the administration to let Judge Phillips' decision stand. Meanwhile, supporters of the law say the administration's invocation of their "duty" is a smokescreen for a halfhearted defense.
"It happens every once in awhile at the federal level when the solicitor general, on behalf of the U.S., will confess error or decline to defend a law," said former George W. Bush administration solicitor general Ted Olson, who is leading the legal challenge of California's ban on same-sex marriage. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the state attorney general have both declined to defend the law in court.
"I don't know what is going through the [Obama] administration's thought process on 'don't ask, don't tell,'" Olson said. "It would be appropriate for them to say 'the law has been deemed unconstitutional, we are not going to seek further review of that.'"
Speaking on CNN today (link has video), Dan declared, "I just heard Valerie Jarrett talk to you guys and I am so absolutely upset at the things she could be saying at this moment. Yesterday, when President Obama -- after Don't Ask, Don't Tell has been dead for a week, no enormous consequences, nobody quitting the military because of honest soldiers. And all the sudden you see give mouth to mouth resuscitation to discrimination and injustice. Valerie Jarrett said that gay people, some of us should try to understand the politics in the situation that we are a nation of laws.' Well we understand that. We don't need a lecture from Valerie Jarrett on that. Civics. Day one. American government. Checks and balances. When Congress enacts a law that's unconstitutional, whose job is it to strike it down? The court. I understand that the judicial branch is the only branch of the government that is filling its mandate to the Constitution. And that the president is not able to do that? I am resentful. Absolutely."
This month Disaster Valerie Jarrett has already referred to being gay as "a lifestyle choice." Sending her out as the White House spokesperson on this issue is as offensive as inviting Rick Warren to the inauguration, as offensive as Barack putting homophobes onstage for a South Caroline campaign event in 2007. The administration is tone deaf or being deliberately insulting.
Insulring is the use of noted homophobe Rachel Martin by NPR to cover this topic. On Morning Edition today, Martin insisted that Judge Phillips caused "a little bit of uncertainty and chaos" with her decision. Rachel Martin then went on to declare the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy had to remain in effect because the White House didn't know what to do. As only a HOMOPHOBIC LIAR can do, Rachel spun that: "They're going to have to overahaul sexual harassment rules." No, they're not. Sexual harassment is sexual harassment and the rules -- excuse me, THE LAW -- covers it in terms of same-sex sexual harassment and in terms of opposite-sex sexual harassment.
Rachel's a liar, she'll always be liar. While the liar is still among us, let's apply to logic to her lies. According to Rachel, there are all these things the government has to do, just has to do. Including "sensitivity training for troops." Was there sensisitivy training required when Eisenhow racially integrated the military? No. You give an order, that's the end of the story.
But Rachel wanted to lie because -- well that's all she's ever done.
Okay there is one week left in this month. We then have November and December.
When exactly is Barack planning on ending Don't Ask, Don't Tell. The Pentagon's laughable study is supposed to be done at the start of December. That's supposed to mean the end of Don't Ask, Don't Tell (the end to those who keep half-an-eye on the story). So what's the difference. Why is Judge Phillip's decision being appealed. Forget the injunction for a moment. (The decision was that Don't Ask, Don't Tell was unconstitutional. The injunction was added by Judge Phillips after and it prevented any discharges under Don't Ask, Don't Tell while the executive branch did any appeals.) Why are they wasting, WASTING, tax payer money on this bulls**t?
Five weeks? Five weeks until -- according to the popular narrative -- Don't Ask, Don't Tell is repealed and Barack is wasting the Justice Dept's hours and our tax dollars on this nonsense? How is that cost effective and how does it demonstrate that he knows the first thing about running a government? It doesn't.
That's the decision. Now let's move to the injunction.
The injunction did no harm. All the injunction did was prevent people from being discharged for being gay. The Penatgon added the policy that recruiters couldn't discriminate. Neither of those were causing any harm -- especially when, Barack wants us to believe -- he's planning on ending Don't Ask, Don't Tell in December.
People need to be asking what's going on because it appears Barack's primary rally cry of "We're going to end Don't Ask, Don't Tell!" Is a great deal like his cry of, "We want to end the war!" Apparently, footnotes are required for all of Barack's speeches.
Chris Johnson (Washington Blade) reports that US House Rep Barney Frank states Barack shouldn't have allowed Phillip's decision -- not just the injunction, the entire decision -- to be appealed: "First, President Obama made a mistake in appealing the decision of Judge Phillips, ruling it unconstitutional. While presidents do have the obligation to defend even laws they dislike, 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' has already been repudiated as bad policy by the President himself, by a decisive majority of the House and by a Senate majority just short of the votes necessary to break filibuster." Writing for the Palm Beach Post editorial board, Rhonda Swan also feels the decision should not have been appealed and argues, "It defies logic that an administration opposed to this bigotry would fight to maintain it. President Obama has said the policy 'weakens our national security.' The Justice Department said it has a duty to defend the laws enacted by Congress. The department did so, and lost. The right thing would have been to accept defeat. In this case, defeat would have been a win for the country." GetEQUAL issued the following:
Today, Robin McGehee, co-founder and director of GetEQUAL -- a national, direct action lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization -- issued the following statement in response to the ruling by Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issuing a temporary stay against an earlier injunction in Log Cabin Republicans vs. United States of America. The stay was sought by the Department of Justice against a ruling last week that ordered the U.S. military to immediately stop enforcement of the discriminatory "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law:
"This temporary stay, sought by President Obama's Department of Justice, brings the military's discriminatory 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' law back from the dead. It is a travesty that after numerous attempts, President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder will go down in history as the Administration that breathed life back into 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell.' The lives and careers of openly gay and lesbian servicemembers are now back in the crosshairs of our government and a renewed commitment to discrimination falls squarely in the hands of this White House."
GetEQUAL is a national, direct action lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization. Emphasizing direct action and people power, the mission of GetEQUAL is to empower the LGBT community and its allies to take action to demand full legal and social equality, and to hold accountable those who stand in the way. For more information on GetEQUAL, please visit: You can follow GetEQUAL on Twitter at, on Facebook at, or on YouTube at

Yesterday on All Things Considered (NPR -- link has text and audio), Melissa Block spoke with Robert Maginnis who was an officer in the US military until he took retirement. Maginnis "helped craft" Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Maginnis declared:
Actually, I tend to agree with what Secretary [Robert] Gates said on the issue. And that is that you need to engage the force to find out their opinion about this because, after all, this is an all-volunteer force. If in fact they are alienated by a decision like this to repeal, then they could walk. And who are you going to backfill?
We'll stop him there. He is right on one thing: Gates' position. Maginnis summarized Gates' position correctly.
Today Nouri al-Maliki continued (and concluded) his never-ending campaign tour. John Leland (New York Times) observes, "On Wednesday, Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki took his shuttle campaign to Egypt, a predominantly Sunni state that has had warmer relations with Mr. Maliki's main political rival, Ayad Allawi. Mr. Allawi's multisectarian bloc, which includes most of Iraq's Sunnis, won the most seats in the national elections in March, ahead of Mr. Maliki's bloc, which is overwhelmingly Shiite." Al Arabiya reports, "Al-Maliki, who is Shiite, is trying to remain in power in Iraq in face of strong opposition from a rival Sunni-backed bloc, which Egypt and other Sunni Arab states have supported."
Liu Wanli (Xinhua) opines, "By boosting business links with Arab nations, the incumbent prime minister run ahead of other candidates in the race to form Iraq's new government, analysts said." Wanli offers examples:
During his visit to Egypt, Al-Maliki said he had invited Egyptian companies to do housing, hospital, oil and electricity projects in Iraq.
He also proposed a joint Iraqi-Egyptian free trade zone and new pipeline that would allow Iraqi gas exports through Egypt, pledging to cut the red tape for Egyptian firms doing business in his country.
In Jordan, King Abdullah and Maliki stressed the need for practical steps to boost ties between Jordan and Iraq in all fields and highlighted the importance of establishing frameworks to enhance cooperation, particularly in the economic and commercial fields, a Royal Court statement said.
March 7th, Iraq concluded Parliamentary elections. The Guardian's editorial board noted in August, "These elections were hailed prematurely by Mr Obama as a success, but everything that has happened since has surely doused that optimism in a cold shower of reality." 163 seats are needed to form the executive government (prime minister and council of ministers). When no single slate wins 163 seats (or possibly higher -- 163 is the number today but the Parliament added seats this election and, in four more years, they may add more which could increase the number of seats needed to form the executive government), power-sharing coalitions must be formed with other slates, parties and/or individual candidates. (Eight Parliament seats were awarded, for example, to minority candidates who represent various religious minorities in Iraq.) Ayad Allawi is the head of Iraqiya which won 91 seats in the Parliament making it the biggest seat holder. Second place went to State Of Law which Nouri al-Maliki, the current prime minister, heads. They won 89 seats. Nouri made a big show of lodging complaints and issuing allegations to distract and delay the certification of the initial results while he formed a power-sharing coalition with third place winner Iraqi National Alliance -- this coalition still does not give them 163 seats. They are claiming they have the right to form the government. In 2005, Iraq took four months and seven days to pick a prime minister. It's seven months and fourteen days and counting.
Meanwhile, as Nouri concluded his tour today, he also 'graced' Turkey with his presence in a visit so brief even Nouri felt compelled to comment, "This is a short but very important visit." Ernesto Londono (Washington Post) quotes Iraqiya spokesperson Maysoon Damluji stating, "We have concerns about any agreements and promises he has given. Any agreements made after March are not legitimate because there is no parliamentary monitoring." Nor is there any prime minister. Nouri's term expired some time ago. That is why there were calls for the creation of a caretaker government. Ayad Allawi was among those making that call. For the US White House, that was not going to happen due to the fact that they doubted they would get the agreement to extend the military presence in Iraq past 2011 were someone other than Nouri put in charge (most calls for a caretaker government -- including from Allawi -- asked that the United Nations create the caretaker government).

In August, the US government's refusal to support the creation of a caretake government in Iraq was embarrassing. As the political stalemate has now reached the middle of October, it's only more embarrassing. Though Nouri stated this week that 'soon' he would create a new government that ignores the fact that (a) he's made that announcement repeatedly throughout the stalemate and (b) he may not end up prime minister. Yes, yes, the day after the election, Quil Lawrence was calling Nouri the winner and next prime minister. But NPR broadcasting that lie didn't make it any less of a lie. Throughout the stalemate, War Hawk Samantha Power has vouched for Nouri, insisting he was the US' best option. She didn't miss it but she did ignore history. Repeatedly Nouri has been the willful puppet doing just what he wanted to do. That's why he signed on the White House benchmarks after the 2006 mid-terms but never bothered to live up to them. Those benchmarks? They were to measure progress. And the US Congress, if progress was not found, was supposed to cut off all funds. The White House didn't hold him to it and the Congress -- as a body -- didn't hold him to it. (US House Rep Lloyd Doggett was among those, in 2008, publicly calling out Nouri's refusal to meet the benchmarks he had agreed to.) These benchmarks were not supposed to extend for four years or more. They were supposed to be met in a year to eighteen months time. All this time later, Nouri still can't check off a single benchmark. Like all the other War Hawks before her, Samantha Power got played.
And Nouri, of course, never did a damn thing to help Iraqi refugees. He never kept his promise to pay neighboring governments. He didn't do anything about the violence within Iraq. He never did a damn thing to help but he did do a few things to hurt -- such as offering certain countries deals if they'd evict refugees. Dropping back to Tuesday's snapshot:

Staying with the United Nation, in Geneva today, UNHCR spokesperson Melissa Fleming addressed the issue of Iraqi returnees, "A poll of Iraqis who have returned to Baghdad from neighbouring countries found that physical insecurity, economic hardship and a lack of basic public services has led the majority to regret their decision to return to Iraq. The survey also found that 34 percent said they were uncertain whether they would stay permanently in Iraq and would consider seeking asylum in neighbouring countries once again if conditions do not improve." Fleming noted that the bulk of the returnees were unable to live in their own homes (presumably they were occupied by squatter and those who ran them off to begin with) and the bulk of those who returned did so due to economic conditions (the savings they'd been living on were gone). The University of Chicago's Will Taylor reports for Global Post on Iraqi refugees Mohammad and Marwa and their daughter Noor who have arrived in the US after fleeing Iraq for Syria. Mohammad is a journalist who covered politics and government in Iraq until "local hostilities and militia" forced them to leave the country. Mohammad explains, "I wrote about a high officer in Iraq. He is official officer and besides that he has a militia." As a result, the Mahdi militia visited Mohammad's home and "kidnapped Mohammed and his mother." Though they eventually released him, the whereabouts and status of his mother remain unknown.

Despite that and despite the UN repeatedly stressing that it is not safe for returns, Dutch News reports the Dutch government announced they will continue to forcibly deport Iraqi refugees. It's hard to figure out which is worse: the Dutch government's actions (and other European nations) or the fact that worldwide condemnation has not been heaped on them for these forcible returns. On the issue of refugees, Chibli Mallat (Daily Star) reports:

I received last week a news documentary made by an Australian television network from Dr. Isam Khafaji. Khafaji is an old Iraqi friend who fought against Saddam Hussein's regime because of its appalling human-rights record, and keeps the fight on for the continuing miseries affecting Iraq. The documentary focuses on the Iraqi women who have found refuge in Syria and who became part of a prostitution ring set up with the usual villains: families who don't care and who eke out pennies for survival by selling their women folk's bodies, mafia-like rings of proxenetism, and governmental graft at various levels. The story is repeated, with variations, in Lebanon, Iran, Jordan, inside Iraq, and to some extent, Iran. It is an ugly story.
In a sea of violence, only sporadic attention has been devoted to that ongoing tragedy, which was particularly highlighted by courageous investigators in UNHCR. Only through working on a report for ESCWA on violence against women and available international legal instruments to combat it, did I know about this significant ring of misery affecting young Iraqi women in the countries of refuge.
Little is done in practice to remedy an intolerable situation. The exception is a new venture which has mobilized around Rebecca Heller and her colleagues at Yale law school as described in this page. IRAP's main focus has been US responsibility toward Iraqi refugees, in particular the weaker link constituted by girls and women living in sexual slavery in host countries. Taking up individual cases, IRAP is trying to secure the attention, sympathy and network of US immigration and related authorities to provide relief.

Today, the United Nations Population Fund issues a new report which they summarized in this release:

When women have access to the same rights and opportunities as men, they are more resilient to conflict and disaster and can lead reconstruction and renewal efforts in their societies, according to the State of World Population 2010, published today by UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund.

The report's release coincides with the 10th anniversary of the United Nations Security Council's landmark resolution 1325, which aimed to put a stop to sexual violence against women and girls in armed conflict and to encourage greater participation by women in peacebuilding initiatives.

"When women and girls suffer deep discrimination, they are more vulnerable to the worst effects of disaster or war, including rape, and less likely to contribute to peacebuilding, which threatens long-term recovery," said UNFPA's Executive Director Thoraya Ahmed Obaid at the launch of the report.

Through the stories of individuals affected by conflict or catastrophe in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Haiti, Iraq, Jordan, Liberia, the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Timor-Leste and Uganda, the report shows how communities and civil society are healing old wounds and moving forward. However, more still needs to be done to ensure that women have access to services and have a voice in peace deals or reconstruction plans.

The report is entitled "State Of The World Population 2010 Resources: From Conflict and crisis to Renewal: Generations of Change" and has a broad vista and multiple sections. We'll note the following on Iraq:
Over the last decade or two, the Office of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has out of necessity blurred a once-clear line between the internally displaced and refugees who flee from country to country. Both populations have similar needs and similar fears when conflict forces them into flight. Iraq is a case in point. According to the UNHCR and government estimates, in mid-2010, there were 4.8 million Iraqis "of concern," a description that means they felt that they could no longer live safely at home. Of these, more than 2.6 million were displaced within Iraq and 1.9 million had crossed borders into another country. Conversations with Iraqi families who have sought refuge in Jordan reveal that many of them have experienced both: first moving from place to place in Iraq in search of safety and then finally, and in desperation, fleeing the country entirely, sometimes with death threats hanging over them. After national elections in Iraq in 2010, a new fear has complicated the lives of Iraqi refugees who say they are concerned that with the Iraqi political climate declared to be "normal" and sectarian violence reduced (though not ended) they will be sent back by host countries in Europe and some parts of the Middle East.
Reuters notes that a Samarra roadside bombing claimed the life of 1 Sahwa and a Baghdad roadside bombing left three people wounded.
September 24th, US Spc John Carrillo Jr. and Pfc Gebrah P. Noonan were shot dead while serving in Iraq. A third US soldier was injured in the shooting and he or she has not been identified at present. US Spc Neftaly Platero's name has been floated in the press as the shooter. Yesterday, USF issued the following:

BAGHDAD – A U.S. service member, Spc. Neftaly Platero, is in pre-trial confinement, in connection with the shooting and killing of two service members and injury of another here Thursday.
The incident remains under investigation.
"Our condolences go out to the families of those service members whose lives were lost. We are saddened by this tragic incident," said Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan.

Lindsay Wise (Houston Chronicle) notes
Platero was on his second tour of Iraq. Joe Goldeen (Stockton Record) reports:

Carrillo's mother, Desiree Carrillo, and his wife, Reylene Carrillo, both of Stockton, were made aware Tuesday that charges were pending, and they issued a short joint statement Wednesday:
"We just want justice for our son and husband," they said.
Goldeen has been covering this story from early on. Which may be why he knows the date of the shooting but a national outlet apparently telegraphs how little they care about Iraq by not even getting the date incident correct.

Carrillo's family has already expressed their dismay that the US military, when informing them of the death of John Carrillo Junior, was not frank about the circumstances of his death.

32-year-old Sgt John F. Burner III died serving Iraq September 16th. He was on his third tour of duty. He apparently died of a heart attack. Immediately prior to his death, he had difficulty breathing and walking and sought help. He was not given the help he needed and his family has expressed their feelings that the military did not protect their loved one. Along with his parents, his loved one include his wife Verena and their two daughters. At CNN, Verena Burner explains that she spoke with her hsuband via Skype on September 15th and that "he looked pale and appeared cold," that he was sick, that his request to see a doctor was at first refused and then when he was allowed to see one the doctor told him that he (the doctor) couldn't perform any tests at that time. Verena Burner writes:
John's symptoms were coughing, difficulty breathing, tingling in hands and feet to the point where he couldn't even walk. John also told me that while on quarters he did not eat much, he was not checked on the way he should have been. Some days he only received one meal. John was uploading pictures to e-mail to me, said he would be right back. After waiting for a while, and he did not return, I started to get worried and made some phone calls. One hour later he was found outside of his living quarters. He was still alive when taken to the hospital, but had a respitory attack soon after and passed away.
I feel that his leadership and the medical system failed my husband. He started complaining about his symptoms about a week before he passed away. I can't help but think that they should have and could have done more for him.
My heart aches for my two daughters Celina (10) and Caitlyn (7).
My husband John was a great soldier, even better husband and father and deserved so much more!
I think this story needs to be heard, so changes can be made and no other family will have to go through something like that. A soldier should never be denied treatment! Like I said in some other articles, I am sure he wasn't the first and he won't be the last if no one speaks out about how out soldiers are treated.
the washington post
ernesto londono

Read on ...

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Talking Dick


That's Feburary 25, 2007's The World Today Just Nuts "Talking Dick." Dick Cheney?

Sometimes he worked as a cartoon, sometimes he didn't.

I don't think he or this comic worked. But I put some blood around his mouth and wrote up a saying for his t-shirt and people liked this comic.

This may be the one I would rate lowest of all I've done before.

But that's how it is when you do a weekly cartoon. Sometimes you'll have a good one, sometimes you won't.

And here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Thursday, October 14, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, the Iraq War continues, March Forward stages a successful action, we examine the claim that the political stalemate has impacted the rate of Iraqis returning to Iraq, the UNHCR addresses the refugee crisis, in Fort Hood an Article 32 hearing takes place, and more.

The Iraq War has not ended, not ended. Roger D. Hodge has a new book, The Mendacity of Hope: Barack Obama and the Betrayal of American Liberalism. As he explained to Harper's, the Iraq War has not ended:

He [Barack Obama] has declared an end to the war in Iraq by redefining the mission of 50,000 troops who remain there. Yet the war continues, our soldiers fight and die, and Iraq still lacks a functioning government.

We've seen much the same thing with ObamaCare. As with the Iraq War, Obama has merely redefined the mission. Far from being the universal health-care system that the country needs, Obama's health program is best understood as a bailout of the private health industry that seeks to guarantee some 30 million additional customers for insurance companies and continued obscene profits for large drug manufacturers. The paradox here is that in a system aiming at universal coverage, the actuarial role of insurance companies, which is to determine the precise odds of paying unprofitable claims on a given class of customers, has become obsolete.

The Iraq War has not ended. And activists continue to call for an end to it. Wednesday of last week, one group had some success. March Forward reports (at Party for Socialism and Liberation) on their actions shutting down a Hollywood, California military recruitment center:

Tamara Khoury, a member of the ANSWER Coalition at California State University, Fullerton said, "We're uniting with veterans and anti-war activists today to shut down this recruiting center because we keep being told that our classes are cut and tuition hiked because there's not enough money. But over $700 million a day is being used to criminally occupy the peoples of Afghanistan and Iraq. Then, recruiters come into our schools and take advantage of how hard it is to get an education in order to convince young people to go die for the profits of banks and oil giants."

March Forward! supporter Ron Kovic, Vietnam veteran and author of "Born on the 4th of July," sent a solidarity statement to the event. "With this courageous act of defiance, veterans are sending a message to countless others across the country that the time has come to bring all the troops home from these senseless and unnecessary wars."

Iraq war veteran and March Forward! member Ryan Endicott said "We know just how much this government cares about us by looking at how GIs are killing themselves in record numbers after being denied adequate treatment; by how many of us end up homeless and unemployed; by the fact that one in three women in the military are sexually assaulted, but are denied PTSD benefits for their trauma."

After shutting down the recruiting station, Prysner said, "To our brothers and sisters in the military: it's time we stopped fighting for the profits of a tiny group of billionaires; instead, we should struggle together for what's in our interests. But we're not going to fight alone -- we're going to fight with students who are getting their tuition raised, with teachers who are getting pink slips, with families who are suffering layoffs and scraping to get by -- because when we unite together, that's when we win."

Sunday Thom Shanker and Steven Lee Myers (New York Times) reported, "The delay has affected much of the American strategy in Iraq, including trade deals and talks over what, if any, military role the United States will have after a deadline to remove the remaining 50,000 American troops by the end of 2011." The Iraq War has not ended.

Meanwhile, for the last two weeks, people have been insisting that the political stalemate in Iraq was slowing the return of external refugees to Iraq.

Prashant Rao (AFP) reported on September 29th that US Brig Gen Ralph Baker stating just that. A lot of people have asserted that and asserted it as fact; however, can that claim be backed up in any way?


The latest statistical update from UNHCR on returnees shows 18,240 returnees this year thus far (January through August 2010). The month-by-month data does not support the claim. March 7th was when elections were completed (early voting started March 4th). For the claim to be correct we would have to see a steady decrease from February. But that's not what the data shows. It shows the second highest number of recorded returns (2,610) was in May. The third highest was in June (2,480). [The highest number of returnees thus far this year was in January: 2,820.] Were the stalemate the issue stopping the trickle of returns, you would see the pattern start in March when the stalemate begins. In other words, January and February -- before the statlemate starts -- would show a higher number of returns and, starting in March, each month would see a steady decrease. PDF format warning, click here for the statistics. The patterns of return -- a small amount, as has been the case for over two years and it wasn't that large to start with -- do not back up the conclusion that the stalemate has prevented returnees.

A careful chart of news stories might indicate an upswing -- MIGHT -- of returnees when the news cycle made it appear Ayad Allawi was going to be prime minister. That could explain the fluctuations. But even a careful chart of the news cycle -- and even if good news cycles for Allawi were followed by an uptick in returns -- it would still be an indication of a causal relationship and could not -- without surveys of the returnees -- be accepted as influencing returns.

Last week, the [PDF format warning] US State Dept noted:

There are almost 229,000 Iraqi refugees currently registered with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in neighboring countries and an undtermined number of unregistered refugees. UNHCR reports that 1.5 million Iraqis remain internally displaced due to sectarian violence following the Samarra Mosque bombing of February 2006.

Since the beginning of 2008, some 464,000 Iraqis have returned to their neighborhoods in Iraq. The majority of the Iraqis returning were internally displaced persons.

In FY09, the U.S. Government contributed $387 million to international and non-governmental organizations to assist Iraqi refugees, internally displaced, and conflict victims.

[. . .]

As of September 2009, a total of 1,143 Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs) have been issued for Iraqi translators and interpreters (and their dependents) since FY07 (under the Section 1059 program).

As of September 2009, a total of 1,716 SIVs have been issued for Iraqis employed by the U.S. government (and their dependents) since FY08 (under the Section 1244 program).

Though the State Dept report goes on to mention many of the claims Brig Gen Ralph Baker made September 29th, they don't include his unproven claim that the violence is stopping/slowing returnees from coming back to Iraq.

Today UN High Commission for Refugees Antonio Guterres spoke at Oxford on the topic of refugees and various issues effecting them including, "Humanitarian organizations such as ours are denied access to affected populations." Simon Tisdall (Guardian reports):

Guterres said the number of refugees being resettled abroad was rising but the number of resettlement places on offer was inadequate -- roughly 10% of the 800,000 annual applicants. The total number of applicants has doubled since 2005. "Europe currently provides around 6,000 resettlement places a year or about 7.5% of the total worldwide."
Asylum seekers faced similar obstacles while forced repatriation policies, as applied to Iraqis for example, sent an "unhelpful" signal to Syria and Jordan where the vast majority of Iraqi refugees was located, he said. Advances had been made. And the UNHCR did not dispute the right of countries to control their borders. "Overall, however, there is still no true European asylum system but a patchwork of different national ones, making the situation totally dysfunctional."

Turning to the issue of Iraq's internally displaced, BBC News reports that UNHCR Iraq Support Unit's Andrew Harper has stated "up to 11 governors were restricting access" to the internally displaced "because they lacked resources to look after the refugees."

Andrew Harper: We're seeing an increasing number of governments or states inside of Iraq closing their borders or restricting entries to new arrivals. And so we're having a pressure cooker building up inside Iraq, that there's no immenent end to the displacement; however, the possibility for the Iraqis to find safety and find assistance is becoming increasingly restrictive. And so where they can move, it's becoming increasingly overpopulated and tense.

Caroline Alexander (Bloomberg News) reports, "Former Iraqi premier Ayad Allawi stepped up efforts to lure deputies from Prime Minister Nuri al- Maliki’s alliance, in a bid to form the largest group of seats in parliament and secure the right to form the new government, as a political impasse nears its eighth month."

March 7th, Iraq concluded Parliamentary elections. The Guardian's editorial board noted last month, "These elections were hailed prematurely by Mr Obama as a success, but everything that has happened since has surely doused that optimism in a cold shower of reality." 163 seats are needed to form the executive government (prime minister and council of ministers). When no single slate wins 163 seats (or possibly higher -- 163 is the number today but the Parliament added seats this election and, in four more years, they may add more which could increase the number of seats needed to form the executive government), power-sharing coalitions must be formed with other slates, parties and/or individual candidates. (Eight Parliament seats were awarded, for example, to minority candidates who represent various religious minorities in Iraq.) Ayad Allawi is the head of Iraqiya which won 91 seats in the Parliament making it the biggest seat holder. Second place went to State Of Law which Nouri al-Maliki, the current prime minister, heads. They won 89 seats. Nouri made a big show of lodging complaints and issuing allegations to distract and delay the certification of the initial results while he formed a power-sharing coalition with third place winner Iraqi National Alliance -- this coalition still does not give them 163 seats. They are claiming they have the right to form the government. In 2005, Iraq took four months and seven days to pick a prime minister. It's seven months and seven days and counting.

Yesterday Nouri went to Syria and met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Alsumaria TV quotes al-Assad stating, "Our attitude about the formation of the government is clear: the solution must be Iraqi. [. . .] Iraqis own that decision." At the State Dept yesterday about the meet-up, spokesperson Philip J. Crowley stated, "Well, on the formation of the Iraqi Government, these are fundamental decisions that Iraq itself must make. And they should make these decisions without outside interference. That said, there is an important role for other countries in the region, including the United States, to encourage Iraq and its political leaders to put aside political interests and work more intensively to form an inclusive government that reflects the will of the Iraqi people and recognizing that all of the major blocs that achieved significant support during the election six months ago deserve to play a role in Iraq's future. But that said, we are certainly supportive of the dialogue that has occurred today between Syria and Iraq. They must have -- they should have constructive relations so that each can play an appropriate role to help reintegrate Iraq into the region." On another meeting,Salah Hemeid (Al-Ahram Weekly) reports:

Former Iraqi prime minister Iyad Allawi, who heads the country's mainly Sunni Iraqiya bloc, held talks on Sunday with King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia as Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan received the head of the Shia Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council (SIIC), Ammar Al-Hakim, in Ankara.
Both leaders were reportedly discussing with the two Sunni-dominated countries efforts to form a new government as Baghdad marked seven months of political stalemate after the 7 March disputed elections.
The Saudi official news agency said Abdullah and Allawi, accompanied by top leaders from the Iraqiya List, "reviewed the current situation in Iraq" at their Riyadh meeting.

Bill Van Auken (WSWS) observes, "It seems likely that the backroom negotiations on a new government will persist for some time, and it is hardly assured that Allawi can deliver the support of his Sunni backers in supporting a Shiite-dominated administration in which they would have even less power than in the last government. With the government having jailed many Sunni leaders over the past several years and having reneged on its promises to integrate members of the US-aligned 'Sons of Iraq' militias into the security forces, grant an amensty and seek reconciliation with former Ba'athists, there is little trust in Maliki among the Sunni population."

"Sons of Iraq," "Awakenings," also known as Sahwa and they were targeted today. Turning to today's reported violence . . .


Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) reports Baghdad was slammed with bombings and at least 6 people died as a result including four members of the Iraqiya political coalition including Abdul Karim Mahood. AFP adds that the dead included Mahood, three by-standers and Mahood's bodyguard. Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that the four killed by the bombing were "nearby civilians" and that Mahood was neither killed nor wounded, and a Baghad sticky bombing claimed the life of a Ministry of Interior worker, a second Baghdad sticky bombing claimed 1 life and left another person wounded, a third Baghdad sticky bombing injured two people, and Baladruz mortar attack on "a Sahwa headquarters" left three members injured. Reuters notes a Baghdad car bombing which claimed the life of 1 "university lecturer" and injured two by-standers, a Baghdad roadside bombing which injured three people, a Baghdad roadside bombing targeting a Sahwa checkpoint which injured five people, a Baghdad roadside bombing which injured eight police officers plus two civilians and a Mosul bombing in which two police officers were injured.


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that last night Sheikh Naseer Dally al Jorani was shot dead in Baghdad and one peshmerga and one civilian were injured in a Kirkuk drive-by. Reuters notes 1 man shot dead in Mosul.

Today Lara Jakes (AP) reports that the US military counts 77,000 Iraqi kiled from January 2004 to August 2009. While an undercount, Jakes notes that it "is the most extensive data on Iraqi war casualties ever released by the Americna military." (The Iraqi Human Rights Ministry offered an undercount of the same period plus two more months and came up with 85,694 as their total.)

In other news of violence,Today's Zamanreports, "Turkish Parliament on Tuesday approved a government motion seeking an extension of a mandate from Parliament to conduct military operations against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) based in northern Iraq." Hurriyet
adds, "The secret session was closed to the press, and details will remain private for 10 years according to Parliament regulations. With 447 deputies in attendance, the decision was passed with 14 objections and one abstention."

The Iraq War has not ended nor has the violence. Iraq War veteran Nate Rawlins, back in Iraq for Time magazine, reports:

As far as combat tours go, Scott's unit's has been underwhelming. The troops have been here entirely too long, with far too little to do, but the notion that they're finished with combat is misguided. In fact, they laugh at the irony that the vast majority of the action they've seen has come after the Aug. 31, 2010, decree that brought U.S. combat operations to an official end.
First there was the Aug. 17 suicide bombing right outside of their base, an incident known to the troops as the "suicide pants" bombing. An insurgent walked into the middle of a recruiting drive for the Iraqi security forces and blew himself up. The explosive material was inside his pants, taped with ball bearings to maximize the carnage. More than 40 people were killed that day. Eighteen days later, a team of five fighters stormed the gates of Old MoD. Two were killed just outside the gate, and the driver set off a bomb in the car. The two insurgents who got inside took prisoners in a building, beginning a three-hour standoff before detonating themselves on the third floor. Seven Iraqi army soldiers died.

That's the face to face threats. On YouTube today, AhmadAhmad4 has posted a video entitled "Americans killed in iraq.flv" which utilizes Benny Hill like music scored to videos of explosions. AhmadAhmad4 writes: "WE ARE THE MUJAHIDEN WORLD HERO HAS KILLED MORE THAN 50.000 AMERICAIN SLODIERS AND OFFICER AND BLACKWATER GARD SECRUTY COMPANES PIG IN IRAQ , IRAQ IS BABYLON EREA WHO HAS BEEN KILLED JEWS AND AND PIG LIKE THEM LONG AGO SO WE ARE HAVE IDEA TO HOW TO KILLING AMERICANS AND CHRISTIAN PIG IN EUROP SOON .ALLAH WA AKBAR LONG LIFE AL QAIDAH" How much weight to give that is up to each individual. (SITE will no doubt produce a lengthy transcript with a million 'hidden messages' embedded in the video which only Rita Katz can discern.)

Turning to the US . . .

November 5, 2009 there was an attack on Fort Hood in Texas. US Army Major Nidal M. Hasan, a 39-year-old psychiatrist was the suspected gun man who opened fire killing 13 people. An Article 32 hearing is taking place in Fort Hood. NPR has Wade Goodwyin covering the hearing for them. Yesterday on All Things Considered (link has text and audio), he discussed day one of testimony with Mary Louise Kelly.

Wade Goodwyn: Well, the first witness was a six-foot, nine-inch non-comissioned officer, Sgt Alonzo Lunsford. That day, Major Nidal Hasan was being processed, getting ready to deploy overseas. The processing center was packed with hundreds of soldiers. Lunsford saw Hasan stand, walk to the front of the room, pull out a laser-sighted pistol, yell Allahu Akbar and opened fire. It was quick and steady bam, bam, bam. A doctor, 64-year-old Michael Cahill, came out from one of the examination rooms, picked up a chair by the legs and advanced on Hasan, but he was shot and killed by Hasan before he could get there. After that, Lunsford decided to make a break for the back door, but Hasan spotted him. And Lunsford testified that he saw the laser sight rake across his face and then Hasan shot him in the left eye. But the sergeant was able to get up and make a run for the back door again. But Hasan followed him out and began shooting his direction. And the bravery that was exhibited this day was amazing. Two soldiers saw what was happening. They ran toward the shooter to come to Lunsford's aid. They threw their bodies over the sergeant, and then they grabbed a tarp and dragged the 6'9" Lunsford behind a truck. He was shot five times, once in the head, four shots to the body, but he lived to give absolutely riveting testimony today.

In a report for Morning Edition (NPR, link has text and audio) today, Goodwyn featured the courtroom artist Pat Lopez explaining, "I watched Sergeant Lunsford as he walked into the courtroom. He's a massive man. He's six-foot-nine and very, very large. He sat down and scanned the courtroom. And I knew he was looking for Major Hasan. When they found each other's eyes, their eyes locked. And Sergeant Lunsford didn't back down. So I looked at Major Hasan, and he didn't back down either. He didn't blink. He didn't move. And it was intense. And every time Sergeant Lunsford had a moment, he would look back and glare at him. It was almost as if he was saying: 'I'm here. I'm still here'."

On War and Politics, Peace Mom Cindy Sheehan offers "Memo to Nancy Pelosi from Cindy Sheehan" (Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox):

So you can't say that I didn't warn you and your colleagues that the people shouldn’t be ignored. I now realize that the warning fell on deaf ears and was futile, but also that the political game your party and the other party play are far more important to you than the people of this world are, anyway.
With the elections rapidly approaching on November 2, you once again are up for re-election yourself and the people of San Francisco will dutifully obey their Democratic impulses and send you back to DC one more time, no matter how atrocious you have been, (The question of the day, though, Nan, is when you lose your Speakership will you resign your seat? Hey, I know! Maybe you and your good buddy, George Bush, can have play dates in your mutual retirements?) but you do have opponents. I know of two for sure, the firmly antiwar Republican, John Dennis and the firmly antiwar and anti-Capitalist Peace and Freedom Candidate Gloria La Riva.

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