Starting off with The Daily Howler:
Today, Barry sits on the D.C. city council. In that role, he recently entered this country’s ongoing debate about same-sex marriage. The city council had approved a bill to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions. Last Wednesday, Tim Craig reported Barry’s comments and actions, on the front page of the Washington Post:
CRAIG (5/6/09): The D.C. Council overwhelmingly approved a bill yesterday to recognize same-sex marriages performed elsewhere, in a vote that followed a sharp exchange between an openly gay member and a civil rights champion and set off shouts of reproach from local ministers.
The council passed the measure by a vote of 12 to 1. During the debate, council member David A. Catania (I-At Large) accused Marion Barry (D-Ward 8), who cast the dissenting vote, of having taken a "bigoted" position.
After the vote, enraged African American ministers stormed the hallway outside the council chambers and vowed that they will work to oust the members who supported the bill, which was sponsored by Phil Mendelson (D-At Large). They caused such an uproar that security officers and D.C. police were called in to clear the hallway.
Yesterday's action could be a precursor to a debate later this year over whether to legalize same-sex marriage in the city. "There is no turning back," said Catania, who plans to introduce a broader gay marriage bill in a few months.
Barry, who said he supports gay rights and civil unions, warned after the vote that the District could erupt if the council does not proceed slowly on same-sex marriage.
"All hell is going to break lose," Barry said. "We may have a civil war. The black community is just adamant against this.”
Is Barry right about the views of “the black community?” We hope—and assume—that he isn’t. (Our assumption is based on the 12-1 vote within the city council.) That said, Barry’s comments produced spirited reaction in, and from, the Washington Post. Three days later, for example, the Post printed an editorial condemning Barry’s statements (click here). “Mr. Barry's Ugly Words,” the headline said. “The D.C. Council member chose politics over principle in a vote against recognizing same-sex marriages.”
Barry is a major American politician, in a major American city. He sits where the rubber meets the road—inside a political body which may consider a bill to legalize same-sex marriages. We weren’t offended by Barry’s “ugly words” ourselves—although we hope (and assume) he was wrong in his sweeping assessment of the views within DC’s black community.
But it’s funny, ain’t it? You haven’t heard squat about Barry’s “ugly words” on your “progressive” cable news channel! But last night, The Dumbest Person in the World devoted another lengthy segment to ridicule of Carrie Prejean, an insignificant 21-year-old who recently made the mistake of saying something about same-sex marriage which Olbermann has never even bothered describing. (For the record, her view on the matter seems to resemble that of Barack Obama. And that of Hillary Clinton. And John Kerry and Al Gore.) The big nut went on for almost seven minutes mocking Prejean—and her breast implants. But it’s funny, ain’t it? You’ve never heard a word on this program about the things Marion Barry said.
Of course, the reasons for that are obvious:
Olbermann doesn’t have videotape of Barry walking around in a two-piece swim suit. And Barry is an older man, not a younger woman. As Olbermann has made dumb-foundingly clear, he seems to live for the opportunity to ridicule young women. He never says boo about older man—perhaps understanding they could come to his studio and engage in conduct which might require him to obtain a sphincter implant.
Olbermann’s a woman-trasher—a genuine nut on this matter. And no, we hate to break the news: He doesn’t do “progressive” television. He seems to do work designed to capture the eyeballs of well-meaning young liberals. And for some ungodly reason, he does television which has long been devoted to the ridicule of women’s brains and bodies.
Marion Barry doesn’t count. An insignificant creation of Donald Trump quite incessantly does.
(Background: Trump owns the Miss USA contest. He now engineers a dispute every year, hoping to bring his product parity with the more famous Miss America pageant.)
For sheer stupidity, we strongly recommend last night’s buffoonish segment, devoted to the eternal dumbness of Miss California. (To watch the segment, click this.) Olbermann plays you every way but blue, citing those breast implants two separate times (including in his opening paragraph) and failing to tell you why Prejean might be upset about the way she’s been treated. (He always forgets to explain this.) You see, in the world of “progressive cable,” calling a young woman a “c*nt” and a b*itch” isn’t worthy of comment—if she fails to hold pseudo-progressive views, that is. “Where are the feminists?” Laura Ingraham inquired. We would broaden her limited framework: Where are the progressives?
Oh, we forgot! They’re dragging their knuckles and sucking their thumbs, watching a 50-year-old nutcase get his eternal jollies. And drive his rating among the demo, putting millions of bucks in his pants.
My thoughts re: Marion Berry? I'm ashamed of him. Someone who has depended so often on forgiveness from others has no right to stand in the way of progress for anyone. That said, I fear he's correct re: the community. Things are not as bad as they were but they are still bad.
That's why my church worked on the issue (and continues to): The homophobia in the Black community. And people like Marion Berry continue the homophobia. He's a community leader that means he needs to lead. He doesn't need to be where the community is comfortable, he needs to be pulling the community, leading it.
As for the Miss California, her opions are her own. One thing I would point out is that Bob Somerby feels he's done something amazing in defending the woman. And while he has been largely alone, equally true is that before this attack on that woman started, Michael Winship was attacking another beauty queen for a statement/position. He was ridiculing her in his online commentary. As I recall, the only one to call that out was C.I.
Michael Winship works for Bill Moyers. I can't watch Bill Moyers anymore. He became a Barack Cult member and is just too nutty. He's like a crazed person. He makes no sense and he's so unhinged it's embarrassing to watch him.
He seems to orgasm on air while discussing Barack. And it's always been that way. He pimped Barry harder than anyone else on PBS -- and PBS was never an anti-Barry news outlet.
Okay, tonight's theme post. Stevie Nicks is a singer-songwriter. She rocks on her own and also with the group Fleetwood Mac. She wrote the band's biggest hit (number one) "Dreams" and she and Fleetwood Mac are on the road right now. So our theme tonight is dreams.
And dreams are something I really don't have time for. I usually go to bed so exhausted that whatever dreams I have I don't remember the next morning. The exception to that is Saturday morning where I sleep in a little. My Saturday dreams are sugar filled. I dream of pink cotton candy, sugar cookies, chocolate chip cookies, Girl Scout Cookies, Oreos, banana splits, sundaes, strawberry shortcake, brownies, fudge, you name it.
And I'm not someone who has a sweet tooth. I do have a secret stash of Whoppers (the round chocolate candy). And I'll dig into that about once every two weeks. But that's really it.
I have no idea why I dream of so many sweets lately.
It would make sense if I was dreaming of popcorn (I am always eating popcorn) or of chips (I have many favorite chips) but sweets?
I guess sometimes dreams don't make sense.
Nor do they have.
We get to take a little mini-vacation.
"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Wednesday, May 13, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, more details emerge in Monday's shooting, Steven D. Green's sentencing hearing continues (day three), Congress examines new techniques for veterans' treatment, the President of the KRG expresses disappointment in the US, Barack breaks another promise, and more.
Starting with Steven D. Green, convicted last Thursday in the gang-rape of 14-year-old Iraqi Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi, her murder, the murder of her five-year-old sister and the murders of both of her parents. His sentence hearing is ongoing and on the third day. Evan Bright reports that the defense put Gary Solace ("a Vietnam War vet who testified about military training+combat stress and its effects") and Andrew Horn. Horn's a retired Marine. He knows Green from . . . well he doesn't. Green has been convicted. The defense is tossing up 'experts' and using damn little time to provide people who know Green. Green's been convicted. 'Experts' aren't the issue at this point. Yesterday was nothing but 'experts' except for Green's uncle Dr. Greg Simolke. Evan Bright reports of that testimony yesterday:
You could see the emotion growing in Simolke's face and demeanor. He spoke of Steven, Doug, and Danny not having many rules. When asked about Doug's "being tough" on Steve, he testified that "Doug...was hard on Steve...(pause)...it felt like that...wore on Steve. Doug was sort of..." At this point, Dr. Simolke broke down crying and had to pause for a few minutes to regain his composure. He was given some water and he continued. "Doug was sort of...in charge, but he was too young to manage Steve." Bouldin asked what his(Simolke's) thoughts were on Green and he "generally..I felt sorry for Steve. I felt that he wasn't completely normal....nothing drastic or super unusual...he was generally left out [throughout] his life. (pauses...more tears) Nothing ever worked out for him, he had a black cloud hanging over him..(pause)..I just didn't think life was workin' out for him." During all of this, Green was noticed staring straight ahead. Simolke testified that he wouldn't have called Steven Green a leader. "No....I don't want to be offensive...he wasn't a leader...anyone who knows Steve wouldn't say he was. He's a follower." Simolke testified about Green living with him for a few months, maintaining a C-average, before realizing that he was so far behind in school that wouldn't be able to graduate high school that year with the rest of his classmates; after which dropping out and moving back to his hometown of Midland, TX where he got his GED.
Instead of staying with that and pursuing that line, they offered 'experts'. Deborah Feverick (CNN) notes, "Defense lawyers trying to save their client from the death penalty argued Tuesday that former U.S. soldier Steven Green exhibited clear symptoms of acute stress disorder in Iraq and that a military psychiatric nurse-practioner failed to diagnose the troubled infantryman and pull him out of combat." The 'experts' didn't even know what they were talking about and one conflicted his account on the stand and better hope the jury doesn't learn what happened this weekend. Bright reports that Dr. Ruben Gur stated Green needed structure and was asked if Green would do well in military? Gur answered affirmative. After explaining the MRI said otherwise. Did no one catch that? He would also, according to Gur, do well in prison with the structure. AP reports Green "threw a lunch tray" in jail Saturday over needing to shave but not having (or, more likely, being given) a razor. Gur was an 'expert.' Another reason not to waste the jury's time with 'experts.' Guilt was already established. The issue now is the sentencing. Friends and family of Green is who needs to be put on the stand to humanize Green, not to turn him into a case study.
Yesterday CBS Evening News with Katie Couric offered a report by Bob Orr on the Sgt John M. Russell shooting five other service members in Iraq:
Bob Orr: His commander feared Sgt John Russell was on the edge. They took away his weapon and ordered him into counseling in a combat stress clinic in Baghdad. He went there yesterday, officials say, and opened fire killing five service men. 22-year-old John Michael Russell: He's got medals. And he was doing good for -- for the country. Bob Orr: Today at their home in Sherman, Texas, Russell's twenty-one year-old son struggled to understand how his dad on his third tour of duty in Iraq now faces five counts of murder. 22-year-old John Michael Russell: For him to do something like that, he couldn't have been in his right state of mind. They had to -- they had to put him to a breaking point and just -- he just had to have lost it. Just lost all train of thought to do anything like that. Bob Orr: [Sgt] Russell's father said he may have snapped fearing his military career could be ended by a stress diagnosis. Wilburn Russell: His life was over as far as he was concerned. He was going to lose everything. And I guess it was too much. Bob Orr: Military investigators don't know what triggered the shootings but say Russell was agitated when asked to leave the clinic after arguing with a counselor. A short time later, Russell returned to the stress center with a weapon he apparently stole from his armed escort. The rampage played out quickly. Gen David Perkins: The suspect was apprehended outside the clinic shortly after shots were heard. Bob Orr: The incident is the deadliest involving soldier-on-soldier violence in the six year Iraq War. In response the army has now launched an investigation to determine whether it needs more people and facilities in war zones to deal with combat stress and soldiers on the brink. Patrick Campbell (Iraq & Afghanistan Veterans of America): These are the canaries in the mine. If we don't start addressing these issues, people are going to get more and more injured and it's going to be harder to treat them. Bob Orr: For Sgt Russell who had planned to be home by July, it's too late. Wilburn Russell: His father's heartbroken, his mother's crying in their hiding. We're -- we're sorry for the families involved too. Cause they're going through heart ache. Bob Orr: His family says they knew of no warning sings. Russell in fact recently e-mailed his son on his birthday and just Sunday e-mailed his mother for Mother's Day.
James Dao and Lizette Alvarez (New York Times) report, "Lt. Col. Edward Brusher, the deputy director of behavioral health proponecy for the surgeon general, said in March that there was one provider for 640 service members in Iraq." They quote him stating, "There are currently enough behavioral health providers." As Elaine noted last night:The military is saying that speculation does no good but this is the same military that has closed the stress center. 1 US soldier just shot 5 others dead. If there were ever a time when a stress center was most needed, it would be right now. Had a shooting taken place at a support hospital or triage center, they would not have shut down.They wouldn't have had the option. The feeling would have been, "This is emergency work." But note the difference when it comes to the brain, to mental issues, to stress.They closed down the combat stress center yesterday. When it was most needed.
Meanwhile Ernesto Londono (Washington Post) identified two of those killed on Monday: Charles K. Springle and Michael Edward Yates. Luis Martinez, Martha Raddatz and Kate Barrett (ABC News) speak with Yates' stepfather, Richard Van Blarga Jr., who states, he thinks Yates mentioned Russell in a call on Sunday: "On the conversation with my wife on Mother's Day, he said that he had met a sergeant, that he was, in his words, he was a very nice guy, he could deal with him, but he had some major issues. He was out there on the branch hoping for somebody to help him." Stephanie Gaskell (New York Daily News) reports Christian Bueno-Galdos, Matthew Houseal and Jacob Barton are the other three who were shot dead on Monday. She also notes the phone call Yates made to his mother on Sunday and quotes Shawna Machlinski (his mother) stating, "I do have some sympathy and I do know that I can forgive him [Russell]." Liz Sly (Los Angeles Times) notes, "The shootings concerned the military, which is preparing to withdraw troops from Iraq's cities by the end of June under the terms of the security agreement reached with the Iraqi government. Camp Liberty, part of the sprawling complex of bases that make up Camp Victory, will not close because both countries have decided that it is not part of Baghdad." The bases are in Baghdad and out of it (they sprawl). According to the treaty masquerading as the Status Of Forces Agreement, the US soldiers on them should be removed or else the US base could become a joint US-Iraqi base. Neither is happening, the much lauded SOFA is being violated. That's only one aspect. In a report that only Alsumaria currently has, the Status Of Forces Agreement doesn't apply to all of Iraq. That's the claim being offered by a US Major: "56th Combat brigade Chief in the US military Major Marc Ferrero clarified that his forces stationed in Taji are not included in the decision of US Forces withdrawal from Iraq cities since this region is out of Baghdad Province. He ruled out as well the possibility of violence spike in the regions under his command where security and stability reign." Back to the issue of the US soldiers and of injuries . . .
"I want to thank you all for being here," declared US House Rep Bob Finer bringing the House Veterans' Affairs Committee -- full committee, which he chairs -- to order [click here for prepared opening statement, I'm quoting what he actually said.] "The purpose is very simple. In my job and I'm sure everyone of my colleagues has the same experience, we come into contact with constituents in business or patients who have had contact or have invented or have manufactured instruments, technologies, treatments which would seem to have a great benefit for our veterans. And yet many have had a frustrating experience of dealingwith a bureaucracy that just doesn't seem to react very quickly to new ideas and treatments and people are frustrated."
The committee was holding a hearing this morning entitled Innovative Technologies and Treatments Helping Veterans. There were two panels of witnesses. The first panel was composed of David R. Bethune (Zila, Inc), Dr. David Sidransky (Johns Hopkins University), Robert A. Beckman (Brainport Technologies), David A. Broecker (Alkermes, Inc.), Mark Munroe (Mobile Medical International Corporation), Stanley Stern (TeleMed Network) and Dr. David Scadden (Harvard). The second panel was composed of Dr. Howard J. Federoff (Georgetown University), Dr. Nelson M. Handal (Harmonex, Inc) and James A. Schoeneck (BrainCells Inc). Click on the name for prepared statements (these are all non-PDF format, no worries). We'll be focusing on the first panel and largely one aspect.
The full committee was supposed to be present but that did not happen. "None of our Republican colleagues are here," Chair Bob Finer explained. "They decided somehow that special interests were invited." If so, wasn't it their job to call out special interests? Apparently Republicans on the Committee just needed a Snow Day.
Robert Beckman spoke of a portable device, the Brainport Vision Device, where a small camera ("with zoom capability") is hooked to other neurochannels ("such as the tongue"). Beckman stated, "One blind user with two glass eyes was able to successfully shoot a basketball and another used the Brainport Vision Device at an indoor rock climbing gym to see the next rock holds and at home with his daughter to play Tic-Tac-Toe."
"The Brainport Vision Device will not replace the cane or the sight dog," he continued. "But it will become an important, additional tool to improve the safety, mobility and quality of life for blind users. Some examples. Finding the open seat on a crowded bus or train. Identifying the direction to the target building in a confusing parking lot. Finding the handle in order to remove a hot pot from the stove. Wicab recently sponsored clinical testing of the Brainport Vision Device at the Atlanta VA. Dr. Michael Williams, the PI concluded, 'Bottom line, the device performs remarkably well for the tasks that we looked at in phase one'. To optimize the device we need feedback from a much larger pool of users who are blind. We would welcome the opportunity to further test the Brainport Vision Device at VA sites. Perhaps those willing soldiers who are blind as a result of a blast injury should be first in line to test this new technology?"
US House Rep Jerry McNerney's had a few questions.
Jerry McNerney: Mr. Beckman, the Brainport Vision Device. This sounds very -- How intrusive is the -- is the device that's on the tongue? Are you able to eat? Do you have to remove it for different activities? Or -- how intrustive is this?
Robert Beckman: Well for vision, the device does rest on top of the tongue. And so, yes, indeed, in its current form you would have to remove the device when you were eating, talking, etc. However, with additional funding there is no -- there are no technological barriers to making this device totally wireless so that the intra-oral device could be mounted on the upper pallette and blind people using wireless techonology would be able to use the device without anybody else knowing that they actually have the technology available to them.
Jerry McNerney: Well that's pretty exciting. I'm kind of thrilled by the technical aspect of this rather than the administrative aspect, if you can't tell.
US House Rep John Hall also had some questions.
John Hall: Mr. Beckman, I was wondering if you could tell us why Brainport Devices are not implantable and is that something that could change?
Robert Beckman: I think one of the key advantages of the Brainport Device is the fact that it's non-implantable. In fact, it's a portable device where there's no need to implant the techonology. Other technologies for vision such as retinal implants are being developed. But I think the fact that they involve surgery, that they're invasive, means that those technologies will likely not be available for probably ten years or more. Our technology is available today.
John Hall: I understand that and I can see the advantadges to either -- to both. Cochlear implants, for instance, have been and are being used by large number of people with some success. Is that because of the location in the brain of the nerves that one would need to get at and the centers one would need to get at that it's more difficult. Or is this something that you see happening in the future?
Robert Beckman: That was really, going back to my testimony, that was really one of Dr. Paul Bach-y-Rita's main hypothesis that the brain is not hard wired so, in other words, you can use an alternate sensor -- you can use an alternate sensor and also an alternate path to send that signal to the brain. And we have demonstrated that, for instance, people who are blind who perform a certain task with our device and while they're performing that task they are analyzed with PET [Positron Emission Tomography] imaging. We have demonstrated that those people process the visual information in the visual cortex of their brain. On the other hand, people who are sighted, that perform the exact same task, process that same information in the somata sensory region of their brain. So in other words, people do -- the brain is masterful in the way that it can process the information in the appropriate area
John Hall: And it can -- it can change? It can switch and adapt from one pathway to another?
Robert Beckman: Yes.
John Hall: What's the typical training -- You may have said this in response to a question before I got here -- what's the typical training time for someone to use --- to adapt to Brainport?
Robert Beckman: I think that's also an amazing part about this technology. We train blind people literally in hours to start to recongize symbols, pathways, doorways, etc. We have not, so far, had anybody except for one blind person, Erik Weihenmayer, use the device even more than ten hours. So all the -- we've got videos on our website, etc., that show some of the benefits. All of those people are performing the tasks that we show with less than ten hours of training. And I think what is most interesting is what will happen when we get this technology into the hands of many, many adults letting them take it home, use it on their own, explore the potential benefits of the technology on their own. That's where we'll start to really discover what the advantages and possibilites are for this technology.
Beckman also spoke of the Brainport Balance Device for those with balance problems. Broecker spoke of VIVITROL which was FDA approved in 2006 and treats alcoholism. How? He was more interested in discussing alcoholism. Were I testifying to Congress, I would assume the members were aware of alcoholism and would use my time to explain why my medicine needed government money and/or veterans access as opposed to offering a history of alcoholism. Bethune and Sidransky spoke of oral cancer, the rate of which is on the rise and veterans account for five-percent of all cases each year in the United States. Bethune explained, "Veterans are almost 3 times more likely to be diagnosed with oran cancer than are members of the general public." They were seeking to have ViziLite Plus used for early screening of veterans. Mark Munroe was asking for attention to and resources for Mobile Medical which is a "mobile surgical hospitals." It was used in Iraq on The Learning Channel's Little People, Big World, episodes nineteen and twenty which TLC described as follows, "When Matt Roloff learns of an Iraqi family with dwarf children who are in severe need of medical intervention, he is compelled to help them. Amy and the Roloff kids are concerned for Matt's safety as he makes the long, difficult and dangerous journey to Baghdad. Once there, he falls in with the U.S. military, who provides armed escort into the Green Zone -- where Matt meets the family and gains their trust. Touched by the familys heartwarming spirit, Matt gets photos and X-rays of the kids to bring back to America for evaluation by medical specialists." From those two episodes, let's note this clip where Matt Roloff speaks with Iraqi journalists
Matt Roloff: I think it was important for me to be able to communicate with the Iraqi people that it's important for their citizens to put value on all of their fellow citizens, even if they are little people. That's an important message we're still trying to communicate in the States and to be able to do it in another country is just as, if not more gratifying, just as gratifying.
There is a point in including the quote beyond the hearing. We'll get to it. Back to the hearing. Stanley Stern's focus was TeleMed Internet Endpoint (TIE) which would provide face to face (via phone calls) help with health care providers and could also allow a veteran to participate at any time in a group therapy session that runs around the clock. Scadden spoke of stem cell research including technology that would allow an adult stem cell to be taken back in maturation.
Remember Matt Roloff's words about everyone being respected? The Christian Science Monitor feels differently. They argue that religious leaders are being ignored in Iraq. But they reveal how STUPID they are by taking the word of professional con-artist and admitted LIAR Andrew White. White breezes in and out of Iraq but of course had his snit fit with the press after he offered testimony, under oath, which he did not know would be reported on. (Hence the snit fit.) White declared there were no more Jews in Iraq back in 2006 when Jews were still in Baghdad. And White was allegedly raising funds to help them. But he lied, under oath. White is a joke. He's a War Hawk who cheerleaded the illegal war and he doesn't speak Arabic. He stays hidden away in the Green Zone when he manages to make it to Iraq. No one needs to take White seriously but it is telling that Matt Roloff saw a need for all Iraqis to be treated equally and the Monitor wants to argue that religious clerics need to be elevated further. Further. The same religious clerics who have issued orders to kill gays and lesbians, the same fundamentalists who have turned Iraq from the most advanced MidEastern nation into a nightmare. Doug Ireland (ZNet) reported more news on the assaults of gay Iraqi males last week:
As the murder campaign targeting Iraqi gays intensifies, a leading Arabic television network last week revealed the use of a horrifying new form of lethal torture against Iraqi gay men -- anti-gay Shiite death squads are sealing their anuses with a powerful glue, then inducing diarrhea, which leads to a painful and agonizing death. The use of this stomach-turning new torture was first reported by the Al Arabiya network, which is headquartered in the United Arab Emirates and was alerted to the story by a leading Iraqi feminist and human rights activist.Yanar Mohammed, president of the Organization of Women's Freedom in Iraq (OWFI), told Al Arabiya that the torture substance "is an Iranian-manufactured glue that, if applied to the skin, sticks to it and can only be removed by surgery. After they glue the anuses of homosexuals, they give them a drink that causes diarrhea. Since the anus is closed, the diarrhea causes death. Videos of this form of torture are being distributed on mobile telephones in Iraq." Al Arabiya said its reporter confirmed the use of this anal torture by "visiting the Baghdad morgue in Bab-al-Moazaam in central Baghdad, where Neman Mohsen, the medical examiner, confirmed they have the bodies of seven homosexuals in the morgue. He said, 'We were not able to identify the culprits, who dumped the bodies in front of the morgue and fled without being seen.'" A two-person team from Human Rights Watch (HRW) currently in Iraq to investigate persecution of LGBT people has also confirmed the use of this form of torture. In a widely-circulated email from Iraq, the head of HRW's LGBT desk, Scott Long, said he and his colleague had gathered evidence which confirms the Al Arabiya report and that HRW would make its own detailed report after the organization's two staffers return to the United States next week. OWFI's Mohammed, the woman responsible for gathering information about the use of this sadistic anal torture and passing it on to Al Arabiya, told Gay City News that "the story was so horrific that when I first heard it from gay friends I didn't believe it. But then I investigated and found it was really true that the anuses of gay men were being glued shut." Speaking by telephone from Toronto, where she was on a brief visit to relatives before a scheduled return to Iraq next week, Mohammed told this reporter that, "Fortunately, Al Arabiya has a very good human rights reporter, to whom I told what I had found, and he was able to confirm it by visiting the morgue."
When the cheesy ass editorial board of the Monitor wants to call out the attacks on Iraq's LGBT community, we may take them seriously. Until then, we'll just shake our heads at their gross stupidity. The Monitor's Jane Arraf (a reporter, not an editorial board member) sticks to reality and conducts multiple interviews with "senior US and Iraqi officials and US intelligence officers" who feel optimistic about some areas of Iraq 'stabilizing' and not so about others: "But the outlook for progress in some of the country's most volatile cities is less certain. Iraqi security officials in Mosul and Diyala Province have considstently said that they need the assistance of US troops past a June 30 deadline for American forces to leave Iraqi cities. But Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's recent statements that he will not ask US forces to stay in those cities, while domestically popular ahead of elections next year, has sent military planners scrambling." For the Baghdad suburb of Adhamiya, Natalia Antelava (BBC) reports the issue of the Sahwa ("the so-called Sahwa, or Awakening, Councils") the same, al-Maliki's government refuses to bring them, they're still having trouble being paid and they're just frustrated with the Shi'ite dominated government which, people tend to forget, is one reason they took arms (against the US and the Shi'ite controlled government) to begin with. "I think the Iraqi government is not capitalizing on the momentum. I think it's a huge blow to the momentum we've created." That quote by US Army Capt Jason Dudley about the failure to bring in Sahwa is highlighted by Thomas E. Ricks (Foreign Policy) who notes it "echoes the findings of the Silverman study I blogged the other day that concluded that there is widespread distrust of the central government not only among Sunni leaders but also among Shiites". Ricks is the author of The Gamble: General David Petraeus and the American Military Adventure in Iraq 2006-2008. Timothy Williams (New York Times) zooms in on the tensions in Nineveh Province where the governor of the province, Atheel al-Nujaifi (an Arab), was not allowed to enter Bashiqa Friday for a hot-air ballon exhibition. The ones owning the toll bridge? The Kurdish pesh merga. This may have led to the protest in Bashiqa and Mosul yesterday ("more than a thousand people") insisting the pesh merga leave the province. The tensions run high for a number of reasons including the still undecided fate of oil-rich Kirkuk (which was supposed to have been put to a resolution long ago). Meanwhile Missy Ryan and Shamal Aqrawi (Reuters) report that disappointment is being expressed by Kurdish leaders in Iraq over the US and their feeling that they have been let down. The President of the Kurdistan Regional Government Masoud Barzani states, "We have had a historic and friendly relationship, but frankly speaking, we were expecting more. They could have played a much larger role in solving this problem [Kirkuk] than they did." The disappointment comes at a time of multiple disappointments. As Ruth noted yesterday, the Kurds were informed Sunday that they could act on their oil contracts only to have Hussein al-Shahrastani, Minister of Oil, state yesterday that the contracts were "illegal". This is a huge mess and will only get worse. It's one of the many reasons Barack should have immediately began a withdrawal (something he led many to foolishly believe he was promising during his campaign). The US can't make the decision and can't impose it. The decision on Kirkuk has been delayed repeatedly. The decision on whether the region can sign their own oil contracts is still not settled. These are issues Iraq has to work out on its own. And as long as the US is there (propping up al-Maliki's puppet government), segments will expect the US to step in. (And stepping in means creating the new Israel-Palestine divide that will haunt the world for over a century. This is a decision for the players involved and that does not include the US.)
Turning to some of the reported violence for today . . .
Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing claimed the life of 1 person and wounded two more and "Sahwa sources in the area said that a low level Sahwa leader was killed with his son in the explosion" and a Mosul car bombing which claimed the lives of 2 Iraqi soldiers. Reuters notes a Baghdad sticky bombing which left five injured, a Ramadi roadside bombing which claimed the lives of 2 Iraqi soldiers, a Kirkuk roadside bombing which left three police officers wounded and a Mosul mortar attack which left one person injured.
Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 1 Iraqi soldier shot dead in Mosul and 1 "employee in the integrity committee" shot dead in Baghdad.
Reuters notes "a doctor and his daughter" were rescued from kidnappers in Baghdad by the Iraqi military.
Turning to Barry O!, the celebrity in chief. As Trina, Cedric and Wally noted yesterday, he's already stabbed the LGBT community in the US in the back yet again. Today brought another. Margaret Talev and Jonathan S. Landay (McClatchy Newspapers) report Barack changed his mind and will not release the prisoner abuse photos from Iraq and Afghanistan: "The move is an about-face from the administration's decision last month to release 44 photographs in response to an order that a New York federal district court issued three years ago. The American Civil Liberties Union had sued the Department of Defense under President George W. Bush for the release of the photos. The Bush administration had challenged the release." In response, the ACLU issued the following:
The Obama administration announced today that it is reversing its promise to make public photos depicting detainee abuse by U.S. personnel overseas. The Department of Defense had told a federal judge that it would release a "substantial number" of photos in response to a court ruling in an American Civil Liberties Union Freedom of Information Act lawsuit.
The following can be attributed to Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director of the ACLU:
"The Obama administration's adoption of the stonewalling tactics and opaque policies of the Bush administration flies in the face of the president's stated desire to restore the rule of law, to revive our moral standing in the world and to lead a transparent government. This decision is particularly disturbing given the Justice Department's failure to initiate a criminal investigation of torture crimes under the Bush administration.
"It is true that these photos would be disturbing; the day we are no longer disturbed by such repugnant acts would be a sad one. In America, every fact and document gets known -- whether now or years from now. And when these photos do see the light of day, the outrage will focus not only on the commission of torture by the Bush administration but on the Obama administration's complicity in covering them up. Any outrage related to these photos should be due not to their release but to the very crimes depicted in them. Only by looking squarely in the mirror, acknowledging the crimes of the past and achieving accountability can we move forward and ensure that these atrocities are not repeated.
"If the Obama administration continues down this path, it will betray not only its promises to the American people, but its commitment to this nation's most fundamental principles. President Obama has said we should turn the page, but we cannot do that until we fully learn how this nation veered down the path of criminality and immorality, who allowed that to happen and whose lives were mutilated as a result. Releasing these photos -- as painful as it might be -- is a critical step toward that accounting. The American people deserve no less."
More information about the ACLU's FOIA lawsuit, which has resulted in the release of more than 100,000 government documents to date, can be found online at: www.aclu.org/torturefoia
evan brightsteven d. green
brett barrouquerecnndeborah feyerickcbs newsthe cbs evening news with katie couricbob orrthe washington posternesto londononatalia antelavajane arrafthe new york timestimothy williamsalsumariajames daolizette alvarez
abc world news tonightmartha raddatz
thomas e. ricks
mcclatchy newspapersjonathan s. landay
the los angeles timesliz sly