Saturday, February 11, 2012

Again with the sell-out


Lynn Sweet offers "Why Obama Backed Down On Birth Control" (Chicago Sun-Times).  It includes this:


Another part of the answer is that Obama did not anticipate that he would create a big problem for allies — especially in battleground states he needs to win in November.
I’m told his wake-up call on that came when former Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine — a close friend and early backer of Obama’s 2008 presidential bid and former Democratic National Committee chairman who is now running for a Senate seat — broke with Obama over the rule.
In past days a lot of stories have been written about the considerable White House internal debate over how to handle the new contraception coverage rules being put in place as part of Obama’s Affordable Care Act.


So a bunch of men, led by wimpy Barack, worked overtime to ensure that women didn't have a shot at fairness or equality.

Typical.

The only "change" Barack's ever offered is for him to prove he can treat women as bad as the worst stereotypical Republican.

Barack sold women out and he always does.

Heaven forbid the little princess ever have to stand up for anything that actually matters.

You get the feeling that even his own mother would be ashamed of the bastard she produced.

Ann, Marcia and I covered "Whitney" last night and Rebecca covered "Revenge":







  • "Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
    Friday, February 10, 2012.  Chaos and violence continue, implications of Iraq are noted in a series by the New York Times, Nouri faces rumors of involvement with the US CIA, veterans suicides get some attention, banks profit off veterans, and more.
    "Asking what the United States should do in Iraq today is an awful question," observes Brookings Institution's Kenneth Pollack.  He took part in the New York Times' "Room for Debate" feature yesterday.  We'll note four of the participants, two men, two women.  It's an interesting discussion and their views are highly similar because it's a range of center to right.  There are no leftists involved in the "room for debate."  We should probably underline that.  In what the New York Times bill as their "room for debate," room for actual debate does not include anyone from the left.
    One of the most prominent right-wing voices on Iraq in the last two months has been the Hoover Institution's Kori Schake.  In her piece, she argues the White House made various mistakes and Iraq is now splintering, "This is not what Iraqis wanted, not what they voted for. The political culture of Iraq waas trending toward trust beyond sectarian lines, political leaders seeing electoral benefit in reaching across religious communities and emphasizing the achievements of governing." Also from the right is Cato Institute's Christopher Preble who offers, "A small group of 'true believers' who were instrumental in starting the war want to double down on that losing wager.  They assert that a large U.S. presence might forestall a possible civil war, and counteract Iran's rising influence.  In reality, they simply don't know if a U.S. presence would have this effect. But, as before, they are willing to risk the lives of U.S. troops, and the fortunes of U.S. taxpayers, to cover their high-stakes gamble."  The centerist (some would argue right-leaning) Pollack feels that there are methods the US still can utilize, "We still have some capacity to name and shame, although that requires Iraqi leaders who are not shameless.  We still have some things -- aid, weapons, diplomatic clout -- that the Iraqis want, although that will depend on our own willingness to place long-term interests ahead of political expediency and so provide them.  And we still have some ability to shape the region in which Iraq lives, although that requires an American leadership willing to take on the challenges of the Middle East and not flee to East Asia or some other easier part of the globe." 
    The non-partisan Institute for the Study of War's Marisa Cochrane Sullivan argues, "United States policy today is focused on maintaining the status quo in Iraq, offering unqualified support for Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki in the name of stability.  But the status quo is inherently unstable.  Maliki, emboldened by this support, feels few contraints on his actions and has little incentive to compromise." He has steadily consolidated control over Iraq's security and intelligence institutions, and has effectively isolated and fragmented his political rivals.  Even in the current political crisis, Maliki has used questionable and even unconstitutional tactics to remove rivals without reducing American support. At the same time, the Maliki government has committed widespread human rights abuses in its crackdown on political dissent in Iraq. While the United States may feel Maliki offers the best chance for stability, his consolidation of power may make Iraq more unstable as Iraq's rival factions seek other means to check him -- either through politics or ultimately through force."   And we'll note Schake's simillar observations, "First, we must stop turning a blind eye to Prime Minister Maliki's creeping authoritarianism.  Maliki returned from his White House meeting declaring the end of the war and issued an arrest warrant for his vice president. The White House was silent, as it has been on Maliki's earlier unconstitutional arrogation of power and political machinations, such as arresting hundreds of Sunnis and striking candidates from electoral lists.  While it is probably too much to expect the Obama administration to vigorously contest what is occuring in Iraq's internal politics, we ought at least to bear witness."
    It's a serious discussion which would have benefitted from some left voices and from some antiwar voices (left, right or center).  In fairness to the paper, there aren't a lot of honest discussions about the Iraq War on the left these days.  Apparently spines were removed by many to assist with easier ass kissing.  Cindy Sheehan (Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox) notes the sad case of cat got your tongue plaguing a large number on the left:
    I, and many others, were in favor of a large demo in DC that year [2008], as we always did, but one of the lead antiwar(Bush) organizations actually told us, since Democrats were in the majority in the House and they were continuing to fund Bush's wars and not impeach him, that a demo in DC would, "embarrass the Democrats."

    Now that we have had two years of a complete Democratic tyranny in DC and almost four years of a Democratic regime in the White House, the antiwar movement has continued its tailspin because it was mostly populated by "liberal" Democrats, or other Democratic functionaries like the Communist Party, USA.

    A recent poll commissioned by the Washington Post shows, that by a vast majority "Liberal" Democrats favor keeping Guantanamo Prison (53%) camp and torture facility open and the drone bombing campaigns (77%) that their president has increased by at least 300 percent over the Bush years. Unbelievably, "liberal" Democrats also are in favor of the Presidential Assassination Program where Obama can have any American executed by his order, only. Trials? Like John Yoo's Constitution, these anachronisms will soon be considered "quaint."
    In Iraq, the political crisis continues. Shihab Hamid (Dar Addustour) offers that national reconciliation is important to the political and social future of Iraq as well as to the security and stability of the country and that all Iraqis should be able to participate because, otherwise, the price paid with millions dead was for nothing. Al Mada notes that Iraqiya has confirmed to them that there are various plans being put forward for the national conference and that, at Monday's meeting, the National alliance offered a working paper, as did Iraqiya and the Kurdistan Alliance. The plan is for the three proposals to be discussed at the next meeting which is currently scheduled for Sunday. Yes, another meeting to make preparations. President Jalal Talabani and Speaker Osama al-Nujaifi have been calling for a national conference since December. It's February. Is it going to take eight months of preparation? Or, more likely, in a month or two is Nouri just going to say that since they've managed this long without one, they really don't need it?

    When Nouri returned to Iraq, his war against Iraqiya and Sunnis became more obvious and he began demanding that Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq be stripped of his position and that Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi be arrested on 'terrorism' charges. Al Mada notes that Saleh al-Mutlaq is stating that the problems in Iraq remain serious and that he will not return to Cabinet meetings until there is a guarantee that the political proces will be fixed and that the groundwork for a real partnership is in place. He maintains this needs to take place before the Arab Summit which is scheduled to be held in Baghdad currently. Al Sabaah notes that the meeting is scheduled for March 29th and is part of a series of planned visits by foreigners to Iraq -- a list that's said to include UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon visiting.  Aswat al-Iraq notes al-Mutlaq is going on a visit, "An al-Iraqiya Bloc MP described the visit of deputy premier Saleh al-Mutlaq's visit to Turkey as personal, not governmental, pointing out that Mutlaq 'should solve his problems internally without any external intervention'."  But while they acknowledge al-Mutlaq's visit, they say another is not taking place, "Al-Iraqiya Bloc's spokesman denied the news of vice-president Tariq al-Hashimi travelling to Turkey, stressing he is present in Sulaimaniya province, Kurdistan."
    Meanwhile Pakistan's The Nation offers "CIA to stay in Iraq, Afghanistan: WP"  which refers to Greg Miller's Washington Post report from earlier this week:
    The much-feared Central Intelligence Agency is planning to maintain a large and secretive presence inside both Iraq and Afghanistan long after American troops leave those nations, The Washington Post reported Wednesday.
    In Iraq, where most US troops have already left, the massive CIA presence in Baghdad has been re-purposed. Once focused chiefly on tackling Qaeda in Iraq and other insurgents, the American spies are now "monitoring developments in the increasingly antagonistic government."
    In many ways thing have come full circle for the CIA, which had a presence on the ground spying on the Saddam Hussein regime before the 2003 US invasion. Now, having spent the last eight years helping the military prop up the Nurul Maliki government, the agency again finds itself there spying.

    It's amazing that foreign outlets can reference the important article but in the US we have so much silence over what Miller reported.   Prensa Latina notes, "The CIA's stations in Kabul and Baghdad will probably remain the agency´s largest overseas outposts for years. According to The Washington Post, this will happen even if they shrink from record staffing levels set at the height of American efforts in those nations to neutralize insurgency attacks."
    Still on the topic of the CIA, Nouri is facing rumors that he's cooperating with the CIA or assisting them. Al Mada notes State of Law MP Adnan al-Sarraj has issued a statement denying any involvement Nouri has with the CIA -- presumably current involvement is being denied since Nouri and the CIA had a pre-existing relationship prior to 2003 -- and stating that when Nouri met with US President Barack Obama in December, Nouri made clear that the CIA wasn't welcome in autonomous Iraq. Al Mada notes not only Miller's report for the Washington Post but also Iraqi intelligence sources who have that Iraq's leadership and the CIA have an extensive relationship.
    On the issue of violence, Aswat al-Iraq notes, "More than 12 casualties were caused due to clashes yesterday between the Turkish PKK party and the Turkish army in different areas along the Iraqi-Turkish border lines, border security forces reported today." And they note a Falluja sticky bombing claimed the life of 1 Sahwa (Sons Of Iraq, "Awakening").
    "What my clients want to know is why -- when they're living at home or under supervised care -- their veteran suddenly has to have a VA fiduciary at all?" attorney Douglas J. Rosinski asked Congress yesterday.  "My veterans have had decades of family members giving them care and handling their benefits without VA interruption.  Suddenly, VA appoints a perfect stranger -- perfectly unknown to the veteran --  who has never contacted a veteran, who will not contact a veteran and is paid money from that veterans account to withhold the money from the veteran, to place it in bank accounts that they will not disclose to the veteran and they will not even disclose under FOIA [Freedom Of Information Act].  They will redact the veterans own information about his own money from the files they give out.  My clients want to know why, that if there is a need, for a VA-appointed fiduciary, it has to be this stranger.  They want to know why this veteran is told to take all of the veterans finances, all of his bank accounts and ask questions about his CDs [Certificate of Deposit] and whether he owns a boat and what his wife's salary is and where is that salary put and then go into the banks and take all of it and not tell them where it is.  They want to know why VA not only will not correct that when I've had personal discussions with members sitting -- or people sitting -- in this hearing today and then they will not fix that problem? They want to know why VA defends those practices at every turn, in every court, in every discussion?  This is not about numbers and procedures and policies.  My clients don't care about policies and procedures.  They want to know why they have $100,000 in the bank and they cannot afford the medicine that the VA doctors prescribed last month?  They want to know why the power company's in the front yard when they have $50,000 in the bank?  And it takes an emergency motion to the Veterans Court before these people will call the power company and tell them they'll pay $178."
    Rosinkski was appearing before the House Veterans Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations yesterday as they held a hearing on the VA's fiduciary system -- where someone's appointed by the veteran or by the VA to manage/oversee/control the veterans benefits.  Rosinski appeared on the second panel and noted, "That's what my clients would like to hear today.  And I did not hear any of that from the prior panel."
    The hearing had two panels (and many breaks due to votes on the House floor).  The first panel was the VA's Dave McLenachen (with the VA's Diana Rubin), the second panel was composed of Katrina Eagle with the Veterans Law Office of Michael Wildhaber, Veteran Fiduciary Pam Estes, attorney Rosinski with the Law Office of Douglas J. Rosinski, and Vietnam Veterans of America's Rick Weidman.  We covered the first panel in yesterday's snapshot.  US House Rep Bill Johnson is the Chair of the Subcommittee.  We'll note this exchange.
    Chair Bill Johnson: Ms. Eagle, if VA is paying a fiduciary a percentage of a veterans' compensation, only to allow VA to have the final say , then why pay a fiduciary in the first place?
    Katrina Eagle: I have many veterans and clients who ask that same question.  I don't understand it myself. I find it ironic that I have several cases where the veteran is paid also [clears throat], excuse me, his Social Security benefits and he has no fiduciary managing his Social Security benefits but the VA finds that he must be appointed a fidcuiary for his VA benefits which also then get sucked into including his Social Security benefits. Moreover, as Mr. Weidman was saying, with respect to veterans who try to get out of the program, I've seen many instances of retribution, so to speak, in that when the veteran applies to get out of the fiduciary program, he is then found perfectly fine with his medical condition, the underlying medical condtion be it physical or often a psychiatric condition, and therefore he [his benefits] is reduced.  And that is encouraging the veteran to say nothing, go along and not question or cause problems.
    Chair Bill Johnson: I want to read this paragraph for everyone's attention out of that form we're discussing. It says, "Approval for use of VA funds" -- and this is the 21-4703 that we're discussing -- "VA must approve any use of a veterans VA funds.  You" -- and I'm presuming that's the fiduciary -- "agree to use these funds only as specifically authorized by VA.  You agree to request VA approval for all spending of these funds unless VA has previously authorized the expenditures.  Any questions regarding authorized expenditures should be addressed to the fiduciary activity at the address and phone number on the front side of this form."  Ms. Eagle, in your opinion, should VA remove this paragraph in question of form 21-4703?
    Katrina Eagle: Yes.
    Chair Bill Johnson: Okay, thank you.  Ms. Estes, you mentioned that you submitted the anual report to VA but have heard nothing since.  When is your last date to be informed of the status of this issue?  You said today, correct?
    Estes: They told me I had 30 days so I'm assuming -- I took 30 days from the postmark, that would be today.
    Chair Bill Johnson: Okay.  What results good or bad have you experienced in the fiduciary program.  Now that's -- that's a big question but . . .
    Pam Estes: When there is contact, it's fine. They come out and I talk to them and we go over the expenditures and stuff. I don't have a problem there. It's like a black hole. I don't get any return calls when I leave a message. I was afraid to send the accounting because they require originals of everything -- original bank statement and stuff like -- and you're not handing it, you're mailing it so I suspected something like that might happen so we sent it certified and everything.  And I followed up with a phone call saying I did this.  I know I'm supposed to have an audit but nobody came out so I'm submitting it. And so then we got the letter that said I hadn't submitted it at all.
    Chair Bill Johnson: So basically, it's miscommunication, lack of communication?
    Pam Estes:  They were being -- No communication.
    Chair Bill Johnson:  No communication.
    Pam Estes: It's no communication.
    Chair Bill Johnson: Okay.  Ms. Eagle, on the first panel, we discussed VA waivers for fiduciaries.  And if I recall the testimony, they were not aware of waivers being granted for certification or fiduciary qualifications.  Do you have any experience with VA fiduciary requirements being waived?
    Katrina Eagle: I do.  And what I find and what Mr. McLenachen was talking about is a fiduciary for the first time will be reviewed, background checks perhaps performed.  What I see happen in all of the cases I have reviewed in assisting the veteran is that if that fiduciary has been at all ever in the VA system as a fiduciary previously, the background check is waived, criminal background checks are waived, etc., etc.  So once he's in, it's good to go.
    Chair Bill Johnson: Mr. Rosinski, is the issue of a person with a criminal background being allowed to serve as a VA fiduciary an isolated incident in your view?
    Doug Rosinski:   Mr. Chairman, there's no way to tell. As Ms. Eagle just said, they waive all the background checks I've ever seen. And my experience is all they ask is they're asking, 'Check a box, have you ever been convicted and served more than one year for a felony, yes or no?'  So I'll leave it to you whether a convicted felon is going to answer that yes or no.  That is, as far as I know, the background check.  And that is what is waived on top of it.
    Chair Bill Johnson: Okay. Mr. Rosinski, in your experience and clients you've represented, what is your background of some of the VA fidcuiaries? Have you -- have you seen incidents where fiduciaries have been removed?
    Doug Rosinski: The only fiduciary that I know that was removed was the daughter who was taking care of her 81-year-old father and was a registered nurse and had been taking care of her father full time for two decades, had retired from being a nurse to do that.  She took her father to an Alzheimers clinic because he has advancing Alzheimers and VA turned around and fired her as fiduciary and registered a complaint for misuse of those funds because they were not pre-authorized.  I've also -- that's my example of firing.  The issue of qualifications, I had the privilege of deposing two actual fiduciaries in the state of Texas. One was a cabinet salesman who in 2009 got his first fiduciary appointment. In 2011, November 2011, when I deposed him, [he] had 53. He had never heard of a fiduciary until someone suggested that this would be a good job to have since he had had a heart attack.  The other fiduciary there is the full-time, single working mother who said her father had been a VA fiduciary and that's how she found out about the program.
    Chair Bill Johnson:  Okay. Ms. Eagle, given the 3 to 5% paid to a fiduciary for administering a veterans account, what purpose would a fiduciary have for hoarding a veteran's money?
    Katrina Eagle: I think that the issue of hoarding has nothing to do with how much they're being authorized from the veteran's money on a monthly basis.  The reason they would be hoarding -- and there's two kinds of fiduciaries that I've dealt with.  The hoarding is encouraged by the VA program leadership  because they are to save as much money as possible in case of certain emergencies. Keep in mind that these are monthly recurring benefits. So needing to save $100,000 when the veterans going to get paid $3,000 every month until and unless he passes, there's no need to save that much money.  Second of all, lots of these fiduciaries are banks. It is in their best interest to keep as much money in their accounts as possible.   
    Staying with veterans issues, I've noted my opinion on the national parade issue earlier this week (see this snapshot) -- briefly, veterans of the current wars will get the nation's attention for only a short time and there would appear to be more serious issues to address while the nation is paying attention.  (My comments are on a national parade and that's a Congressional issue and we covered in January how Congress de-funded the planned parade some time ago. I've noted that various people -- including a governor -- can stage a local, county or state wide parade.)  We're going to note a few opinons on the issue.  Jerry Maza (Salem-News.com) offers:
     
    It isn't like starting a war in Iraq on lies, that Saddam Hussein had WMD when no one, not even the UN's inspector (referee) for nuclear weapons, Hans Blix, could find nary a missile, poison gas, Niger yellowcake uranium, or any secret locales for the stash. There were no goal posts in Iraq. No fighting from your 20-yard line to the 50 and marching down it to a touchdown, a kick for the goal, and your seven points up. The stated purpose of the shock and awe of the linemen was bringing democracy to Iraq. You might as well bring sea bass to a Thanksgiving dinner.
    In fact, the last thing on anybody's mind was democracy, given the unilateral and illegal attack on Iraq. Now, who's going to march over that shameful premise? Sorry to say, our brave players were sent on a fool's mission once again. The field had no markers, no big rectangle broken into ten yards ten times. The war was one you had to find, break down doors, terrorize families, looking for the man with the ball, the I.E.D. or hidden weapon, and knock him to the ground. In frustration for often not finding those things, soldiers took it out on innocent viewers of the ongoing chaos. Also, soldiers had to watch their buddies go nuts, over the top, at the atrocities they often had to commit (albeit much like WWII), but mostly back then there were victories and a people were spared from total holocaust. What they learned from it seems questionable sometimes.
    Larry Mendte (Philly Post) calls for a parade for Philadelphia's veterans (and for those in surrounding areas -- he's in fact calling for every big city to stage a parade):
    I have put together an online petition asking Mayor Michael Nutter for a parade in Philadelphia to honor the more than 100,000 men and women from our area who served in Iraq. Please sign it and then pass it on through emails, Twitter and Facebook. Philadelphia should lead the country on this. The positive national media attention will be well worth the cost. More importantly, it is the right thing to do.
    Iraq War veteran Colby Buzzell pens a piece for the Washington Post which focuses more on the bigger problems veterans of the current wars are facing:
    While all this arguing is going on, veterans are struggling. In this country, an average of 18 veterans commit suicide every day. The jobless rate for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans is as high as 15 percent. They are trying to find work despite having been labeled ticking time bombs, unable to assimilate back into society, plagued with post-traumatic stress.
    Later this month, on an evening like any other in America, nearly 70,000 veterans will spend the night on the street while President Obama and the first lady host a special White House dinner to honor 200 or so hand-picked Iraq veterans from a war that produced more than 30,000 wounded in action. Across the country, on any given night, nearly 5,000 dinner tables have an empty place where a loved one who never came home from the war used to sit.
    On the issue of suicides, Michael Moran (Global Post) points out, "Statistics on Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, obtained in 2011 through a Freedom of Information Act request by a San Francisco newspaper, found that more than 2,200 soldiers died within two years of leaving the service, and about half had been undergoing treatment for post-traumatic stress or other combat-induced mental disorders at the time."

    Thursday, February 09, 2012

    Whitney

    So last night, Whitney (NBC) put my fears to rest -- at least temporarily.  Roxeanne is back with her ex-husband Lance.

    That means, at least for now, Mark and Roxanne can remain friends.  They have a nice friendship chemistry and might make it as a really   good couple; however, it would be too soon and also make all six characters part of 3 couples which would really be Couples City.

    Mark was his usual funny self.  Lance was very popular.  Now that he's back?  Whitney is opposed to him and that's it.  Except for the fact that Alex is calling Lance one of his best friends and freaking Mark out.  (Mark says he's choosing to focus on the "of" -- one of his best friends.)  Mark feels like he's being iced out.

    So he's with Whitney on her plan to prove that Lance is scum.

    They don't come up with anything (though Mark does try planting an ear in Lance's apartment).  And Roxeanne asks her to just be happy for her.  Which Whitney agrees to but notes that if he hurts her again, he's a dead man.

    It was a really funny episode.  And it was funny to see Mark on Whitney's side for two scenes.  She's not really taking him seriously which is a good approach for her character.  I like how they all interact so differently.  You can tell care is taken with the writing of this show.

    Usually Ann or Marcia write about Lily so I'll just note that Lily was hilarious this episode and let them explain why at their sites.






    "Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):

    Thursday, February 9, 2012.  Chaos and violence continue, Iraq's Parliament discusses two Iraqi military officers who are reportedly spying on behalf of the United States government, an MP's brother turns up dead, big news for the peace movement out of Chicago, the US Congress examines who's watching veterans benefits, and more.
     
    Infoshop News reports some major US peace news, "A settlement has been reached in the class action law suit Vodak v. City of Chicago, brought against the Chicago Police Department on behalf of over 700 protestors who were falsely arrested during a demonstration against the Iraq war on March 20, 2003. On that date, over 10,000 protestors demonstrated in Chicago against the U.S. invasion of Iraq, marching through downtown streets and up Lake Shore Drive before Chicago Police surrounded, detained and arrested over 700 people." The Chicagoist adds that the National Lawyers Guild and People's Law Office have "worked on the case for nine years" and quotes the People's Law Office stating: "Based on our collective experience litigating police misconduct cases for decades, we feel very positive about this settlement and about the amount of compensation for each sub-class member. We also believe that such a significant settlement will send an unequivocal message to the City of Chicago and its Police Department that they must respect you right to demonstrate."  The National Lawyers Guild issued the following:
     
    Contact:
    Nathan Tempey,
    Communications Coordinator 
    (212) 679-5100, ext. 15
    "Looking ahead to a spring of protests, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel and his peers around the country should take note," said National Lawyers Guild Executive Director Heidi Boghosian. "Short-sighted attempts to extinguish free speech often come at great expense."
    A Seventh Circuit ruling on the case (Vodak v. City of Chicago, 639 F.3d, 738 (2011)) holds that police cannot arrest peaceful protesters without warning just because a demonstration lacks a permit. The decision bears new weight in light of mass arrests of Occupy Chicago protesters this winter, as well as recently ratified, far-reaching city ordinances that aim to squelch protests of the G8 and NATO summits in May.
    The over 700 plaintiffs in the Vodak suit will receive compensation up to $15,000 each, and Guild lawyers are negotiating additional payments for class representatives and class members who were required to give depositions.
    "The rights of dissenting Chicagoans could have been buried under the county jail," Boghosian said. "Instead, thanks to years of tireless work by Guild members, those rights have been vindicated."
    The city's settlement offer comes on the eve of a scheduled trial. The suit was litigated over the course of almost nine years by a team of NLG lawyers and legal workers including People's Law Office attorneys Janine Hoft, Joey Mogul, Sarah Gelsomino, and John Stainthorp, as well as People's Law Office paralegal Brad Thomson, and attorneys Melinda Power and Jim Fennerty.
    The team has reached settlements totaling over $300,000 in other excessive force lawsuits stemming from the 2003 protest.
    For more information and updates on the settlement visit peopleslawoffice.com.
    The National Lawyers Guild was founded in 1937 and is the oldest and largest public interest/human rights bar organization in the United States. Its headquarters are in New York and it has chapters in every state.
    ###
     
    Heidi Boghosian and co-hosts  Michael S. Smith and Michael Ratner (Center for Constitutional Rights) produce a weekly radio progam entitled  this week's Law and Disorder Radio which airs Monday mornings at 9:00 a.m. EST on WBAI and around the country throughout the week (and is always streaming at the website).  There may not be time for them to cover this on the program which starts airing Mondy but you can be sure that they will cover it shortly. And it is a big victory.
     
     
    In Iraq today,  Al Mada reports that the CIA's mission in Iraq (and Greg Miller's Washington Post article) was discussed by the Parliament's Commission on Security and Defense. The discussion noted that the US is still in control of Iraqi air "under the pretext" of protecting their diplomatic mission. The Commission also discussed two officers in the Iraqi forces who are said to be paid spies/informants for the US government and supply information for the monthly salary they receive. The two Iraqis, who are not named, are the subject of an ongoing investigation and are expected to be charged at the end of the investigation.

    Two other Iraqis, two young males, took their own lives. Aswat al-Iraq reports they died in Amara as part of a joint-suicide and that it was over "a family feud." Aswat al-Iraq also notes an attack in Kirkuk by unknown assailants left 1 police officer dead and three more wounded. For others, today is a day of celebration. Dar Addustour notes a festival taking place, a Festival of the Sadrist Movement, to celebrate the departure of so many US forces. Salam Faraj (AFP) explains this latest celebration resulted in "tens of thousands" attending the ceremonies in Sadr City and quotes Moqtada al-Sadr from his pre-recorded number, "The armies of resistance terrified the occupiers, so they left after they lost. [. . .] The occupying forces were working for strife and destruction and to destabilize security. The occupier is not the one who can bring peace and safety to Iraq, but rather you, and only you."  Press TV declares "millions" took part -- Jill Reilly (Daily Mail) says those present were "mostly men and boys" and AP's video suggests that might actually be an undercount.  Iraqi flags were waived, towers were climbed, Moqtada appeared on a jumbo screen, balloons were released, and yellow suited participants stomped the British and US flags painted on what appears to be styrofoam.  Sadr City is a section of Baghdad which means if Nouri's enforcing the rules properly, this was a rally that required a permit.  I do have a point here.  This was an official event, led by one of Iraq's most prominent Shi'ite particiants.  And they symbolically stomped on the flags of the United Kingdom and the United State so explain to me why the hell the US government is providing one more dollar to this thuggish regime?
     
    The Iraq War is illegal.  I have no expectations that Iraqis are in love with the US.  But these thugs who were put in power by the United States and still depend on aid from the United States?  There's a world of difference between these official functions -- and this was official -- and what happens in Tahrir Square.  A jumbo screen was put up for Moqtada.  That thing was huge.  And the government of Iraq is in fact stomping on both the British and American flags.  So there's no reason for either government to provide a damn thing to Nouri.  Repeating, this is different than Tahrir Square and I've never called them out for burning a US flag and wouldn't.  But this should have been a permitted march, it had security, it had prepared parts to it and that huge jumbo screen. 
     
    The New York Times' Tim Arango was on NPR's Morning Edition yesterday (link has audio and text) discussing his report on the US State Dept in Iraq with Steve Inskeep and Arango noted of hostility towards the US within Iraq, "It also suggests how easy an issue the American presence is for Iraqi politicians to sort of demagogue on, and to use with their own public.  They don't want to be seen in public supporting the Americans or accommodating them in every way."  The stomping on the 'flags' and the cheering crowds were an awful lot like, highly reminescent of, the street activity in Iran before the US Embassy in Tehran was seized.  Now maybe that's just me being overly cautious or paranoid or whatever.  But if Americans are seized (more than likely it would be outside of the Baghdad compound) in Iraq, networks should cue up that AP footage and ask why it didn't alarm the US government in real time?

     

    In other news, Aswat al-Iraq reports, "A leading al-Qaeda Commander, of Saudi nationality and holding the post of Military Emir (Prince) of al-Qaeda in northern Iraq's city of Mosul, has been sentenced to death by the Central Iraqi Criminal Court, according to a statement from within the High Judicial Council on Wednesday." The government of Iraq has been on a major killing spree of late. Already having a 'legal' system that's a joke throughout the world wasn't enough for the Iraqi government and now they apparently want to be seen as having a backward and brutal 'legal' system far beyond their practice of forced confession. Human Rights Watch issued the following this morning:


    (Washington, DC) -- Iraqi authorities should halt all executions and abolish the death penalty, Human Rights Watch said today. Since the beginning of 2012, Iraq has executed at least 65 prisoners, 51 of them in January, and 14 more on February 8, for various offenses.
    "The Iraqi government seems to have given state executioners the green light to execute at will,"said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. "The government needs to declare an immediate moratorium on all executions and begin an overhaul of its flawed criminal justice system."
    Human Rights Watch is particularly concerned that Iraqi courts admit as evidence confessions obtained under coercion. The government should disclose the identities, locations, and status of all prisoners on death row, the crimes for which they have been convicted, court records for their being charged, tried, and sentenced, and details of any impending executions, Human Rights Watch said.
    A Justice Ministry official confirmed to Human Rights Watch on February 8 that authorities had executed 14 prisoners earlier in the day. "You should expect more executions in the coming days and weeks," the official added.
    According to the United Nations, more than 1,200 people are believed to have been sentenced to death in Iraq since 2004. The number of prisoners executed during that period has not been revealed publicly. Iraqi law authorizes the death penalty for close to 50 crimes, including terrorism, kidnapping, and murder, but also including such offenses as damage to public property.
    Human Rights Watch opposes capital punishment in all circumstances because of its inhumane nature and its finality. International human rights law requires that, where it has not been abolished, the death penalty be imposed only in cases for the most serious crimes in which the judicial system has scrupulously complied with fair trial standards, including the rights of the defendant to competent defense counsel, to be presumed innocent until proven guilty, and not to be compelled to confess guilt.
    Criminal trials in Iraq often violate these minimum guarantees, Human Rights Watch said. Many defendants are unable to pursue a meaningful defense or to challenge evidence against them, and lengthy pretrial detention without judicial review is common.
     
     

    Jill Reilly (Daily Mail) notes, "Iraq primarily uses hanging as a method of execution."  Reuters adds these executions come "despite objections from the United Nations human rights chief."  Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) notes a statement Iraq's Ministry of Judiciary has posted online, "Questioning the credibility of the Iraqi judiciary system by the U.N. High Commissioner is (a) strange thing and the High Commissioner should also (be) aware of the size of the challenges that Iraq is facing by terrorist groups who had committed heinous crimes and mass executions against innocent people."  UPI notes that the executions are seen by some as also part of Nouri al-Maliki's targeting opponents:
     
    The executions and Maliki's targeting of the Sunni leadership of the opposition Iraqiya bloc, using his Shiite-controlled security forces, seem intended to further his drive to establish a new dictatorship in Baghdad following the U.S. military withdrawal in December.
    Leaders of Iraq's Kurdish minority, which has its own semi-autonomous enclave in the north, say they are alarmed at the direction Maliki has taken and has given sanctuary to a senior Sunni politician the government is targeting. This could inflame the swelling crisis.
    The Americans, whose boast they left behind a "stable and democratic Iraq" soon proved to be perilously empty, have starkly failed to replace military influence with political and economic influence and so are powerless to smother the mushrooming violence.
    The spate of executions is a gruesome indication of the way things are heading in Iraq where the Sunnis, once the backbone of Saddam Hussein's regime, are struggling against being marginalized by the majority Shiites.
     
     
    Al Rafidayn reports that the corpse of Akrahm al-Daini was discovered today outside Tikrit, five days after the man and his bodyguard weTe kidnapped. The family was ordered to pay a one-million ransom but refused. The deceased was MP Nahida al-Daini's brother. MP al-Daini is a Sunni and she is also a member of Iraqiya. A woman's corpse was also discovered. As for the bodyguard, the kidnappers shot him from behind, apparently assumed he was dead and left him, according to an unnamed National Security source. The bodyguard was able to make it to the police. Was this part of the continued targeting of Sunnis or of Iraqiya or of both? Possibly. Equally true, kidnapping remains a huge money maker in Iraq and the attraction here might have simply been: Here is someone who can afford a bodyguard, here is someone whose sister serves in the Parliament, surely they have money.

    In Australia, the issue of off-the-book prisons, hidden from the Red Cross and others, is in the news. Tony Eastley (AM on Australia's ABC, link is audio and text) explains, "There are claims this morning that Australia played a key role in the potentially illegal detention of Iraqi prisoners of war. The British newspaper, the Guardian, has sourced a US military document that says an Australian SAS squadron of 150 men was 'integral' to the operation of a secret facility, known as H1, in Iraq's western desert in April 2003. The revelations are the first to suggest that the Australian military was directly involved in so-called 'black sites'." Ian Cobain wrote the Guardian article ("RAF helicopter death revelation leads to secret Iraq detention camp") which reported on a 2003 secret prison and how at least one prisoner, Tanik Mahmud, died while the RAF was transferring him to the secret prison (he was apparently killed on the helicopter ride). Emily Bourke (Australia's ABC) summarizes, "The Guardian report says an SAS team manning a roadblock in Iraq's desert arrested and detained a group of 64 men during a sweep for "high-value" members of Saddam Hussein's regime. The paper says the men were listed as being detained by US personnel because a single American soldier was attached to the SAS unit manning the roadblock."

    Dylan Welch (Goondiwindi Argu) observes:

    The revelation has led to an Australian human rights organisation investigating such secret prisons to claim that the Australian military might have been complicit in war crimes by handing detainees over to the so-called ''black site'' known as H1.
    The revelations - which the Defence Department last night denied, saying it was only ''providing security'' when the detainees were handed over - would be the first time the Australian military has been implicated in the black sites.
     
     
    Today the House Veterans Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations held a hearing on the VA's fiduciary system.   There are veterans who are unable to overseeing or manage their benefits solely by themselves so they might ask that someone be a fiduciary -- thereby putting someone in charge of overseeing the benefits.  The veteran might pick someone they know or they might ask the VA to select someone.  There are problems with the system currently.  The Subcommittee attempted to determine why that was.
     
    The hearing had two panels (and many breaks due to votes on the House floor).  The first panel was the VA's Dave McLenachen (with the VA's Diana Rubin), the second panel was composed of Katrina Eagle with the Veterans Law Office of Michael Wildhaber, Veteran Fiduciary Pam Estes, attorney Doug Rosinski with the Law Office of Douglas J. Rosinski, and Vietnam Veterans of America's Rick Weidman. US House Rep Bill Johnson is the Chair of the Subcommittee.  And we'll note this exchange.
     
    Chair Bill Johnson: What are the criteria for choosing a fiduciary:
     
    Dave McLenachen: Mr. Chairman, the criteria for choosing a fiduciary is-is controlled by law. Congress required us when looking to see who should be a fiduciary to check a number of things: criminal history, credit and general willingness to act as a fidcuairy for a beneficiary. VA's policy, Mr. Chairman, is to always try to select the least restrictive and most effective payment for a beneficiary. To do that, the first thing that we do is look at who does the beneficiary want us to appoint? That's our first step. If we can qualify that person we will -- we will appoint that person. If that person cannot be qualified, we'll look to the person who has the care and custody of the beneficiary.  That may be a family member that lives with the beneficiary and provides care or maybe a guardian?  That's who we look to next. The next step is any other family member of person interested in performing these functions for a beneficiary. Only as a last resort, Mr. Chairman, will we look to a paid fiduciary or a court-appointed fiduciary. That is because we're looking for the least restrictive method.  And I -- And I can assure you, Mr. Chairman, that that is our policy and that  Just so there's no misunderstanding, currently only about 8% of the roughtly 120,000 beneficiaries pay a commission for fiduciary services.
     
     
    Chair Bill Johnson: Okay, the CFR states that a commission is only given to a beneficiary when it is necessary to obtain his or her services. Further it states that commissions should only be used if the veterans best interests would be served by the appointment of a qualified professional or a qualified person.  What does qualified mean to the VA?
     
    Dave McLenachen: To us, Mr. Chairman, qualified -- as I've described -- means that it's a person that has the interest of the beneficiary in mind, is willing to perform the service and meets the qualifications that have been prescribed by Congress for us to implement. That is what the regulations are referring to. So if it's an individual who has a criminal history or that has bad credit history or for some other reason cannot be bonded, that individual will not be appointed as a fiduciary --
     
    Chair Bill Johnson: Are there -- are there any educational or other qualifications required to be classified as a qualified person?
     
    Dave McLenachen: Not at this time, sir. However, one of the first things that I did when I took this job approximately five months ago was to initiate a complete review of our current regulations which Congressman [Jon] Runyan mentioned during his statement. I think there's a real need to update those regulations. We've reviewed all of those regulations and are currently revising them now. That is one issue that I would like to address in our regulations is whether there should be such requirements for fiduciaries?
     
    Chair Bill Johnson:  Would it -- would it surprise you to know that we have sworn testimony that a VA fiduciary stated that she had approximately one semester of community college education while she is the appointed fiduciary for 43 veterans, as a single mother working full time. Is that -- Would that be the VA's acceptable criteria for a qualified person?
     
    Dave McLenachen: Sir, I can tell you that with our current regulations, there is nothing to prohibit that fiduciary from serving in that role.
     
    Chair Bill Johnson: In your opinion, would that be a qualified fiduciary?  If you're a veteran would you want -- is that who you would want to put in charge of your daily care?
     
    Dave McLenachen: It may be, sir. If that's the wishes of the veteran to have that particular --
     
     
    Chair Bill Johnson: No, not this wasn't the wishes of the veteran. I'm talking about the VA appointing someone who is a qualified person. The veteran has gone to the VA saying I need a fiduciary and you request a fiduciary.  Would that be your idea of a qualified person?
     
    Dave McLenachen: Sir, I would like to strengthen the requirements to be a fudiciary.  So in that instance, I think that there should be some more stringent requirements.
     
     
    Chair Bill Johnson: Okay. How many fiduciaries have the background checks or certifications waived?
     
    Dave McLenachen: Sir, we just recently issued new guidance that affirms our responsibility to check the background --
     
    Chair Bill Johnson: Does the VA waive fiduciary background checks and certifications?
     
    Dave McLenachen: It's not my knowledge that we do. Uh, the guidance out there now is to check background in every fiduciary --
     
    Chair Bill Johnson: I hope you're going to stay around for all of the testimony today then.
     
    As Johnson noted in the hearing, ten veterans saw their fiduciary walk away with $900,000 of their money.  4% is supposed to be the largest amount the fiduciary can take of the veterans annual benefits.  However, the Subcommittee was already aware of fiduciaries taking more than 4%.  As the exchange above made clear, there appears to be a lack of serious oversight.  The House Veterans Disability Subcommittee has also been examining this issue and a number of them sat in on the hearing.  The Ranking Member on that Subcommittee is Jerry Mcnerny and he noted the lack of "oversight and accountability."  He noted a 2010 field hearing where family members serving as fiduciaries were actually experiencing more government oversight than were strangers the VA picked to serve as fiduciaries.  (One of the most public cases in the news during the current wars was of a family -- parents -- who used their disabled war veteran son's VA benefit checks to buy themselves a new truck, to go gambling and much more.  I'm not implying that family members don't need oversight nor was Mcnerny implying that.  He was noting that hand picked choices by the veterans, people who had the veterans trust, were getting more oversight than these people who are professional fiduciaries -- meaning they are primarly being fiduciaries for strangers due to the pay.) Mcnerny noted that most fiduciaries are doing an outstanding job.  Rubens agreed noting that 90% of the fiduciaries are taking care of only one veteran.
     
    Still on veterans issues,   Senator Patty Murray is the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Commitee and her office notes the following:      
     
    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 9, 2012
    Contact: Murray Press Office
    (202) 224-2834
     
    VETERANS: Senator Murray Participates in Virtual Town Hall Meeting hosted by Disabled American Veterans
     
    Murray fielded questions, concerns, and suggestions from veterans, members of the military, and their family members across the country.                                                                                             
     
    View full transcript of the Disabled American Veterans' Virtual Town Hall HERE.
    (Washington, D.C.) -- Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray, Chairman of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, had the opportunity to chat one-on-one with veterans across the country in a Virtual Town Hall Meeting, organized by Disabled American Veterans, a non-profit charity dedicated to building better lives for America's disabled veterans and their families.  In the hour-long chat, Senator Murray discussed a wide range of issues including mental health care, VA claims wait times, women veterans, and veteran jobs. Over 3,000 veterans, members of the military and family members participated in the chat. Senator Murray will use the struggles, stories, and suggestions she heard today to continue to fight for veterans in Washington, D.C.
    ###
     
     
     
    On this week's. Black Agenda Radio, hosted by Glen Ford and Nellie Bailey, (airs each Monday at 4:00 pm EST on the Progressive Radio Network), featured an interview with journalist Ralph Poynter, husband of the people's attorney, political prisoner Lynne Stewart.  Excerpt.
     
    Glen Ford: On the last day of Feburary, a court will hear the appeal of movement lawyer Lynne Stewart imprisoned for 10 years on charges of supporting terrorism. Stewart was the attorney for Omar Abdul Rahman the so-called "blind Sheikh" charged with the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center.  Attorney Stewart is in federal prison in Fort Worth, Texas. She was first sentenced to only two-and-a-half years but then the courts decided to pile on some more years. Her husband and co-activist Ralph Poynter explains.
     
    Ralph Poynter:  This is an appeal of the re-sentencing Lynne received. She received a sentence of two-and-a-half years.  28 to 30 months.  Then, when she was appealing, when she was free on her appeal, they called her back for a re-sentencing because a government appeal to the 2nd Circuit of a sentence 'too light' was taken up and two of the three judges agreed that the sentence was 'too light.'  And besides Lynne Stewart continued "traveling around the country at the law schools and universities corrupting our youth."  These are the words of the judges of the 2nd Circuit.
     
    Glen Ford: In other words, her sentence was increased -- five times -- to ten years based upon her speech?
     
    Ralph Poynter:  Based upon her speech and they said it: "traveling around the country at law schools and universities corrupting our youth." Now Lynne Stewart said that the treatment of Sheikh Omar Abdul Rahman was racist and government funded and that there was no terror plot, that the government had done it.  And it was all done by an Egyptian double agent, Emad Salem, who was hired by the Egyptian government and the American FBI --or  CIA -- and so she had him on the witness stand and she caught him lying 32 times.  And it got to the point where he just said, "Well I guess, Miss Stewart, I mis-stated, I lied," and put his head down.  The jury heard that and yet they convicted Sheikh Omar Abdul Rahman.
     
    Glen Ford:  So when Lynne went to these universities and law schools, she was not just exercising her own freedom of speech to say whatever she said, but also she was speaking on behalf of her client as a lawyer?
     
    Ralph Poynter: Yes, the blind Sheikh, on his appeals, and his right for the First Amendment. And she answered all questions and she gave these law students a history lesson on racism in America.  And she would use her own experiences -- experiences the people of the sixties, the activists, because remember Lynne Stewart was a teacher and an activist, she was a Christian Dutch Reform and honor student.  And when she came to New York City as a 23-year-old who was born not five miles from Harlem, she didn't know it existed.  So she said, "This is American miseducation. Not only do they not treat the Black children to read, write and count, they don't teach White children what America is and I'm the example." And you could imagine what effect that had on the students. So no wonder we are where we are: Islamophobia. And then she went into law, what law is about, understanding the Bill of Rights and what a lawyer's job is and how it came to this formulation.  And one of the things that Lynne and I have an argument about, she says that with all of the warts and flaws in the new US justice system, she thinks it's the best model. But it will only be that if the lawyers play their proper role of being the person between the government and the accused and explaining that that is what protects all of us -- a vigorous defense by attorneys -- and if one person doesn't have that defense, none of us do.
     
    Glen Ford: So when Lynne is talking to university students and law students about her principles and explaining her actions and what she thinks it means to be a citizen and a lawyer she is then faced with this massive retribution -- an increase of five times her sentence -- and in her appeal she's calling that substantial unreasonableness in terms of legalese.
     
    Ralph Poynter: And this is what the appeal is.  Now, before you can appeal your basic sentence, you know, her basic guilt -- she was found guilty in the federal court of terrorism, supporting terrorism, she has to go through the Second Circuit so this is a double.  She's opposing the unreasonableness and the unfairness and the illegal upping of her sentence before she can before the Supreme Court on her original trial, the trial of being found guilty of supporting terrorism.  Now the question is: How are they going to defend this?  My answer to that is: If there were law in the first place, Lynne would never be in jail.  And one of the first speeches that she made, they were holding a conference in California on the coming of the police state and Lynne was the speaker and  she said, "The coming of the police state?  The police state has always been here for certain members of our nation and now it's coming to White people and I'm the evidence."  And it was standing ovation.  The police state has always been here, the people didn't recognize it because it was against us [persons of color -- Ralph Poynter is African-American].
     
    Glen Ford:  And that statement was one of those -- and reports on that statement in the press was one of those factors in the judge multiplying her sentence by five?
     
    Ralph Poynter: You got that 100% right.
     
    Glen Ford: And thus verifying that the police state had arrived.
     
    Ralph Poynter: And as I said to Lynne, you have to understand, we just got out of COINTELPRO, they listened to everything.  She felt that one of the most embarrassing things of the left was allowing our defenders of the community to lay in jail all of these years.
     
    Lynne's appeal takes place at the end of this month.  She notes:
     
    The same group of 3 Judges that heard and decided the original appeal will also hear the arguments on the 29th. The government is not asking for more time; they are satisfied with their pound of flesh but it is not likely that this Court will take any action that will help me. The times are askew for prisoners and their lawsuits.
    The lawyers that argued in July of 2010 will be on board with the addition of Herald Price Fahringer, an eminent attorney in the First Amendment field (the win in the Larry Flynt Hustler case in the US Supreme Court was his. He was also in the line of fire (no injuries) when the shooting took place.) He will enthusiastically present our case. I will not be present -- not unusual once imprisoned.  But my spirit will be there to inspire !!!
    Of course, my case has always been government firing  warning shots  to Lawyers, that a vigorous defense, of certain clients, if not conforming to government specifications,  will be punished severely .  This chill effect in these days that we are confronted with Grand Jury investigations and dismantling of Occupations is not something we should contemplate with anything less than alarm.  I have just finished David Gilbert's book (Love Struggle) and the intercession of lawyers when there are arrests of designated enemies of the "state" are the only  meaningful protection available.
    A Large Outpouring of Support in Foley Square and Tom Paine Park and in the Courtroom will signal to these arbiters of "Justice" that attention must be paid, the 99% are watching them with suspicion and tallying up the roads not taken.
     
     

    Wednesday, February 08, 2012

    Very disappointing

    A radio documentary "Say It Plain Say It Loud" is from American RadioWorks.  Reader Denise e-mailed me about it and asked me to listen.

    I have.  I agree with Denise that it was skewed.

    It operates from the premise that all Blacks are leftists.

    They play this speech or that speech and, if it is a conservative or someone they think is conservative, they bring on some 'expert' to explain it.

    So we get Michael Eric Dyson raving nonsense after they play Bill Cosby on education.

    Bill's points were that not enough attention is paid to education. He worded them in the form of a comedy routine which isn't that surprising since he is a comedian.  The hysteric Michael Eric Dyson is brought on to give a critique and he's just ranting and raving about Clarence Thomas and has nothing to say about Cosby's points.

    I found that highly offensive.

    This happened at other times as well.

    I'm a left and real left unlike Michael Eric Dyson.

    And I'm real tired of him trying to Blacker Than Thou.  Why is it always these bi-racials people like Melissa Harris Parry or these men who marry White women like Michael Eric Dyson that think they can speak for the Black race?

    Who the hell asked them to?

    And Bill Cosby is not my favorite person in the world.  And I think we can criticize him or anyone else.  But the rant that Michael Eric Dyson was offering was just nonsense and missed the whole damn point of what Bill Cosby was saying.

    And Cosby said it poorly but there was a larger point he was making and it is true.

    We need to speak correctly.

    I don't mean we need to sound like Rhodes Scholars but we need to be offering something more than "Who this be calling me?"

    What Cosby was saying wasn't all that different than what Henry Gates III was saying elsewhere in the program.

    People of my parents generation were raised to learn.  They were raised to learn, they were told it was something no one could take away from them, no White racist, etc.

    And now we've got extreme poverty across the board in the US and it has hit the Black community worse than any other.

    And we can wallow in that or we can be like our strong ancestors and reach for something more.  Maybe not for us but for our children.

    We can do that.  In the end, that was the point of Bill Cosby's remarks.

    And Michael Eric Dyson had to go all freaky and ranting and shrill.

    It's a shame that they chose to go there and to air that because a real conversation could have done so much more instead.




    "Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
    Wednesday, February 8, 2012.  Chaos and violence continue, the CIA will remain in Iraq, Tim Arango's report from yesterday continues to dominate Iraqi discussion in the US, several conservatives call the reported decision to scale back the US diplomatic mission an indication of policy failure, Camp Ashraf residents are being told to prepare for a move, Stan catches War Hawk Terry Gross pimping for War With Iran, and more.
     
    After "ALL" US forces left Iraq, a number of Marines remain to guard the diplomatic missions (Embassy and consulates), a number of US service members remain to provide training (Nouri al-Maliki publicly stated that number was 700), Special Ops remain, the FBI remained and the CIA remain.  Today Greg Miller (Washington Post) reports which explains:


    The CIA is expected to maintain a large clandestine presence in Iraq and Afghanistan long after the departure of conventional U.S. troops as part of a plan by the Obama administration to rely on a combination of spies and Special Operations forces to protect U.S. interests in the two longtime war zones, U.S. officials said.
    U.S. officials said that the CIA's stations in Kabul and Baghdad will probably remain the agency's largest overseas outposts for years, even if they shrink from record staffing levels set at the height of American efforts in those nations to fend off insurgencies and install capable governments.
     
    Although "agencies" have picked up the story and Russia' Interfax and Iran's Press TV as well, US outlets have studiously avoided the report.  Instead they focus on Tim Arango's New York Times report on the US State Dept's Iraq mission.  Yesterday on NBC Nightly News, Richard Engel (link is is text and video) attempted to push the notion that this was a cost-saving measure for the good of the American people, quoting US State Dept spokesperson Victoria Nuland insisting, "We're trying to do our best to save the American taxpayer money in the way we support our diplomatic personnel."
     

    Aswat al-Iraq reported what US outlets wouldn't last month: "Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr clled his 'resistance' followers to be prepared to face the US Embassy in Baghdad, if they did not stop their breaches. In response to a question made to his followers, received by Aswat al-Iraq, he expressed rejection that US officials walk in Baghdad streets with their weapons."


    Now since then, a US helicopter emergency landed in Baghdad (with another transporting the Americans away), reports of F-16 jets flying overhead are coming from the Iraqi Parliament and there is the drone issue which enraged Iraqis last week. Tuesday morning,Hossam Acommok (Al Mada) reported that the US is stating that they are only flying planes and drones and helicopters in Iraq airspace to provide protection for the US Embassy in Baghdad (and its various consulates throughout the country). Parliaments Security and Defense wants answers as to exactly what the US is doing in Iraq's skies.


    In this climate, a decision may (or may not have) been made. Equally true, we were informed last week that the US and Iraq were back in negotiations regarding the US military presence. If a pull out of diplomatic 'forces' is going to happen, at present, the American people have no idea whether this is happening on its own or as part of the negotiation process for US troops in Iraq.
     
    But Victoria Nuland wants to assert that it's a cost-cutting measure? 
     
    Strange that the billions didn't bother anyone in the administration until after Congress allocated them.   BBC News notes that the US Embassy in Baghdad alone cost $750 million and that the "huge diplomatic operations [. . .] reportedly costs $6bn a year" -- that doesn't count the embassy cost, construction was completed on that back when Ryan Crocker was the US Ambassador to Iraq.  Reportedly?  The current US Ambassador to Iraq, James Jeffrey, told a media roundtable in November of last year, "We are standing up an embassy to carry out a $6.5 billion program, when you throw in the refugee program as well as the actual State Department budget for 2012, of assistance in support for Iraq on a very broad variety of security and non-security issues.  The direct budget, operating and assistance (to Iraq), was $6.2 billion [and] a little less than $300 million [of] that goes to refugee and displace person programs."  Karen DeYoung (Washington Post) observes of the State Dept mission in Iraq, "It has a $6 billion budget, its on airline and three hospitals, and imports virtually all of its food.  Its central fortress, otherwise known as the Baghdad embassy compound, is nearly as Vatican City."  She quotes US Senator Patrick Leahy  calling the embassy "a relic before the paint was dry" and insisting that Congress may have to make cuts in the costs if the White House is unwilling to.  Writing it up for NPR, Eyder Peralta declared, "The Times story [Tim Arango] today as well as the Al Jazeera story from December mention a program run by the embassy, which trains Iraqi police officers. The program cost $1 billion last year and will cost about $500 million this year. Al Jazeera noted that an audit found there's no way to know whether the program is working." Al Jazeera noted that?  No, they didn't.  The error is Peralta's. An audit can only "find" what is there.  It's not an abstract, an audit is basic inventory, addition and subtraction.  No audit "found" what Peralta insists it did.  The Al Jazeera piece was published December 16th.  We're falling back to December 7th and the report we did in that day's snapshot on the House Oversight and Government Reform's National Security Subcommittee hearing -- US House Rep Jason Chaffetz is the Chair of the Subcommittee.
    Appearing before the Subcommittee that day were the Defense Dept's Inspector General Gordon S. Heddell, the State Dept's Deputy Inspector General Harold Geisel, the acting inspector general of US AID Michael Carroll, the acting inspector general for the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction Steven J. Trent and the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction Stuart Bowen.
     
     
    US House Rep Raul Labrador: Mr. Bowen, right now the police development program is the administration's largest foreign aid project for Iraq going forward.  And there's some evidence that the Iraqis don't even want this program. So have you or your staff asked the Iraqi police forces if they need the $500 million a year program that the Obama administration is planning to spend on the police development program?
     
    SIGIR Stuart Bowen: Yes, Mr. Labrador, we have and we reported on that in our last quarterly report noting that the senior official at the Ministry of the Interior, Senior Deputy Minister al-Assadi said "he didn't see any real benefit from the police development program." I addressed that with him when I was in Iraq a couple of weeks ago and I asked him, "Did you mean what you said?"  And his response was, "Well we welcome any support that the American government will provide us; however, my statements as quoted in your recent quarterly are still posted on my website."
     
    US House Rep Raul Labrador: So why is the administration still spending $500 million a year to provide this program?
     
    SIGIR Stuart Bowen: There's a beliff that security continues to be a challenge in Iraq, a well founded belief, I might add, given the events of this week. Killings of pilgrims again, on the way to Najaf, on the eve of Ashura. The focus though on trying to address those problems has been a widely scattered, high level training program involving about 150 police trainers who, as we've seen again this week, are going to have a very difficult time moving about the country.
     
    US House Rep Raul Labrador: So what other problems have you found with the police development program, if any?
     
    SIGIR Stuart Bowen: Several.  Well, Mr. Labrador, we pointed out in our audit that, one Iraqi buy-in, something that the Congress requires from Iraq, by law, that is a contribution of 50% to such programs,has not been secured -- in writing, in fact, or by any other means. That's of great concern.  Especially for a Ministry that has a budget of over $6 billion, a government that just approved, notionally, a hundred billion dollar budget for next year.  It's not Afghanistan.  This is a country that has signficant wealth, should be able to contribute but has not been forced to do so, in a program as crucial as this.
     
     
    We covered the November 30th House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the MiddleEast and South Asia in the December 1st snapshot and noted that Ranking Member Gary Ackerman had several questions. He declared, "Number one, does the government of Iraq -- whose personnel we intend to train -- support the [police training] program?  Interviews with senior Iaqi officials by the Special Inspector General show utter didain for the program.  When the Iraqis sugest that we take our money and do things instead that are good for the United States. I think that might be a clue."  The State Dept's Brooke Darby faced that Subcommittee. Ranking Member Gary Ackerman noted that the US had already spent 8 years training the Iraq police force and wanted Darby to answer as to whether it would take another 8 years before that training was complete?  Her reply was, "I'm not prepared to put a time limit on it."  She could and did talk up Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Interior Adnan al-Asadi as a great friend to the US government.  But Ackerman and Subcommittee Chair Steve Chabot had already noted Adnan al-Asadi, but not by name.  That's the Iraqi official, for example, Ackerman was referring to who made the suggestion "that we take our money and do things instead that are good for the United States."  He made that remark to SIGIR Stuart Bowen.
     
    Brooke Darby noted that he didn't deny that comment or retract it; however, she had spoken with him and he felt US trainers and training from the US was needed.  The big question was never asked in the hearing: If the US government wants to know about this $500 million it is about to spend covering the 2012 training of the Ministry of the Interior's police, why are they talking to the Deputy Minister?
     
    After 8 years of spending US tax payer dollars on this program and on the verge of spending $500 million, why is the US not talking to the person in charge ofthe Interior Ministry?
     
    Because Nouri never named a nominee to head it so Parliament had no one to vote on.  Nouri refused to name someone to head the US ministry but the administration thinks it's okay to use $500 million of US tax payer dollars to train people with a ministry that has no head?
     
    None of that raised a concern on the part of the US State Dept about spending but we're supposed to believe some magical change of the 'mission' now is the result of concern about spending?
     
    Suadad al-Salhy, Francois Murphy and Andrew Heavens (Reuters) report that Brooke Darby's Adnan al-Asadi is declaring that curbs are about to be placed on contractors in Iraq and he states, "What the Interior Ministry worries about is that there is a giant army of these companies on the streets with their weapons."
     
    The man whose report started it all appeared today on Morning Edition and discussed the article with Steve Inskeep. As Tim Arango explains on the program, the State Dept plan wasn't made, a year ago, in isolation. It was supposed to include a continued strong US military presence. Excerpt.
     
     
    INSKEEP: So what happened?
     
    ARANGO: It really is a remarkable thing that so quickly after the American troops left that the State Department realized that the embassy that they built is too big, is too costly and the situation on the ground means that they can't get out and do the things that they like to do to justify that cost.
     
    INSKEEP: What do you mean the situation on the ground?
     
    ARANGO: Well, there's two things going on. There's the persistent security problems that prevent diplomats from moving around as much as they'd like. And then what they didn't plan on was how the Iraqis would react as soon as the military left in terms of obstructing what they want to do. They immediately started enforcing customs regulations that the Americans were not accustomed to abiding by. And then there's the situation with the visas. Prime Minister Maliki now - his office has to approve all the visas for Americans. And so it's resulted in these lengthy delays.
     
    INSKEEP: Lengthy delays in even getting the staff into Iraq. And then they have difficulty moving around once they're in Iraq?
     
    ARANGO: Absolutely. There's a new kidnapping threat in the Green Zone. And as such is getting out of the Green Zone to interact with ordinary Iraqis, there's even new security procedures for moving around in the Green Zone which is probably one of the most fortified places in the world.
     
    Repeating, Arango will point out that that the State Dept mission, planned throughout 2011, was supposed to go hand-in-hand with a larger US military presence in Iraq than what it currently is.  Without that, Arango indicates, the State Dept mission was an overreach. Kori Schake served on Bully Boy Bush's National Security Council and she argues (Foreign Policy) that this goes to a foreign policy failure:
     
    It was an odd choice by the State Department to make Iraq the flagship of "smart power," given that the White House has consistently conveyed that President Obama just wants Iraq off the agenda. The president never invested in getting from Congress the resources necessary --- even if the State Department had the capacity to carry out its ambitious plans.
    Nevertheless, the State Department's plan for maintaining two thousand diplomats -- protected and supported by 15,000 other civilian personnel -- was a terribly cost-ineffective program fraught with potential for disaster. Outside review of the department's plan by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the Commission on Wartime Contracting, and every other outside source highlighted the crucial dependence on mobility that was both vulnerable and reliant on civilian contractors (the majority of them non-American) with the authority to use deadly force. Why the government of Iraq would grant immunity from prosecution to civilian contractors when it denied immunity to better trained military personnel was only one among many questionable planning assumptions.

    Conservative commentator Max Boot (Commentary) offers:
     
    So much for a "strong and enduring partnership" that has "our diplomats and civilian advisers in the lead." Those of us who argued for a continuing military presence were deeply skeptical the State Department would actually be able to main a mission of some 2,000 diplomatic personnel supported by an army of 15,000 or so contractors. The size of the task they faced was just too huge, and the State Department lacks the resources the military can bring to the task. Sure enough, the U.S. embassy has been having trouble stocking its vast chow hall and getting its personnel outside its fortified walls.
     
    Turning to the issue of Iraqi women.  Jane Arraf (Al Jazeera -- link is video) reports that though the UN estimates 1 in 5 Iraqi women is physically abused.
     
    Jane Arraf: Sarah doesn't like her children outside. A few weeks ago, she left her husband.  She's afraid he'll come back and kill her.  He'd hit her for years.  But last month, after getting angry with their son, he got out a police baton and started beating him. 
     
    Sarah (translated by Jane Arraf): He said to me, 'Why are you looking at me?," and put his finger in my eye and wanted to pull it out. I ran out of the room and he kicked the door and got to me. With his baton, he beat me hard. When I collapsed and he saw me lying on the floor, he jumped up and down on me and stepped on my head and belly and said, "Die."
     
    Jane Arraf: At the hospital, they told her she had a broken rib. She had photos taken of her injured but her husband told her he'd kill her if she went to the police.  Now she and her four child live with her mother. [. . .]  In a society Sarah where a woman leaving her husband for any reason is grounds for punishmnet, Sarah is one of the lucky few who have relatives willing to take them in. 
     
    Jane Arraf's report is one of three disturbing reports on Iraqi women this week One of the many casualties of the illegal war is the rights of Iraqi women. Rebecca Burns (In These Times) speaks with the Organization of Women's Freedom in Iraq's Yanar Mohammed. Excerpt.

    RB: OWFI members have been beaten and sexually assaulted while demonstrating, just like female protesters in Egypt. Why are women targeted in this way?

    YM: They wanted us to feel ashamed. Our organization made sure that these demonstrations had a female face. We had our slogans, our banners, which we carried every single Friday. This was not approved by al-Maliki's government. And in an Arab society, if a woman is shamed, she is pushed out of the public arena. They expected that we would go hide in our homes and not show our faces to anybody. The same way in which women are forced to immolate themselves or made the victim of an honor killing, they wanted to force a political dishonoring on us in order to end us politically.

    RB: How are the women who have been attacked in Tahrir Square faring today?

    YM: All of them are back in the square. But we are very careful as to our whereabouts. Once we see security forces, we leave the square. We are not willing to be tortured again and again.

    RB: Are you working to get women elected directly to Parliament?

    YM: In Iraq, 25 percent of members of Parliament are required to be women, which is good. But more than half the women in Parliament are from the Religious Right. When we were beaten in Tahrir Square – 25 of us – not a single female Parliamentarian spoke out. In other words, those women are puppets.

    Doug Moore (St. Louis Post-Dispatch) reports on a group of attorneys -- 12 Iraqi women and five US women -- who teleconference once a month:

    The St. Louis lawyers hope that kind of moral support could help the Iraqi lawyers get women into more powerful positions in the legal system and in government. Islamic laws protecting women are inadequate or not enforced in a culture where men are in charge and women are treated as property. Domestic violence is often considered accepted practice.
    [. . .]
    [Nancy] Mogab said the ultimate goal is forming a group similar to a women lawyers' association here, and called on the Iraqi women to create a list of goals they want to accomplish.
    "Together they will be able to provide a voice whereas a single lawyer can't do that there," Mogab said after the groups' third meeting earlier this month.
    Law school classes in Iraq are an even mix of men and women, but there are very few women judges. And those who practice law have little influence in a male-dominated legal system.
     
    Moving to the topic of Camp Ashraf, KUNA reports, "The United States on Tuesday urged the 3,400 residents of Iraq's Camp Ashraf to relocate immediately, as it is 'no longer a viable home for them'. Ambassador Dan Friend told reporters that 'We look forward to the first residents moving from Camp Ashraf to Camp Hurriya in the immediate future,' referring to a new camp the Iraqi government constructed for the Iranian dissidents who have occupied Camp Ashraf for the past 30 years. The camp was under US control until January 2009, when US handed over control to the Iraqi government." Ian Duncan (Los Angeles Times) adds:

    Speaking in the European Parliament on Tuesday, Maryam Rajavi, the group's leader in exile, said residents of the camp were willing to move but were "demanding minimum assurances, namely a dignified and humane treatment at the new location."
    "The EU, U.S. and U.N. should actively and immediately intervene to prevent turning of Camp Liberty into a prison," she said.
    This push follows earlier news this week that some Camp Ashraf residents and their supporters found alarming.   Monday Fars News Agency reported that National Alliance MP Abbas al-Bayati appeared on al-Baghdadia TV. His statements were both explosive and embarrassing for the United Nations. According to al-Bayati, Iraq will be expelling the MEK (Iranian dissident group welcomed into Iraq decades ago). All will be expelled or sent to Iran, declares al-Bayati in direct conflict with what the United Nations has been stating in what will now be seen as stalling statements made by the international body as it attempted to buy time. This bad impression will take hold because al-Bayati denies that the UN has any supervision of Camp Liberty. He states, "No, the camp is under the control of Iraqi government and (the camp's control) has nothing to do with the United Nations. Iraq came to the decision to provide the UN with the reports of the camp and also let them visit the camp."

    Though the US media has been ignoring it, you can't visit the US State Dept (I did last week) and not see the Camp Ashraf supporters gathered across from it. The MEK has Iranian-American relatives in this country (a large number in California -- many in US House Rep Bob Filner's district). Following the revolution in Iran, some members of the MEK went to Iraq. When the US invaded, the US military entered into negotiations with the approximately 3,400 residents of Camp Ashraf. The end result was that they became protected persons under international law and the Geneva Conventions. Though Nouri has given repeated promised to the US that he would protect the residents, that has not happened. He has twice launched attacks on the camp. They've now relocated to a new camp that some British MPs have described as a "concentration camp." The only defender the new camp (which has no medical facilities and Nouri al-Maliki is refusing to allow medical supplies in) had was the United Nations, which vouched for it so strongly based on a single, brief visit of the unnoccupied camp-to-be. That vouching now appears incredibly misinformed.

    December 23rd, Human Rights Watch noted:

    Human Rights Watch sent letters on December 15 and 16, 2011, to the governments of the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Denmark and Sweden seeking their support for the appeal by Martin Kobler, the United Nations special envoy for Iraq,to the Iraqi government to extend a December 31 deadline for closing Camp Ashraf. Human Rights Watch also urged the governments to helpensure the safe transfer of camp residents for individual refugee status interviews, and respond quickly and positively to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's call for UN member states to indicate their willingness to accept Camp Ashraf residents for resettlement.
    "Resolution of the Camp Ashraf situation requires the active involvement by other major players like the United States and the EU who can play a critical role in resettling Camp Ashraf residents and monitoring to make sure they are safe and are treated fairly," said Frelick.
    The Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK) was founded in 1965 as an armed group to challenge the Shah of Iran's government. In 1981, two years after the Iranian revolution, the group went underground after trying to foment an armed uprising against Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the former Supreme Leader of Iran. After a period of exile in France, most of the group's leaders relocated to Iraq in 1986 and established Camp Ashraf, although its top leadership remains in France.
    Human Rights Watch called on all parties to allow international diplomats, UN agencies, and independent observers to be present to monitor every step of the transfer of these residents to a protected transit site, such as the former Camp Liberty at Baghdad's international airport. Human Rights Watch also urged the UN to continue monitoring the human rights and humanitarian situation after camp residents have been relocated to the transit site.
    Human Rights Watch previously appealed to both the Iraqi government and the leadership of the MEK to cooperate fully with the UN to ensure the protection and safety of Camp Ashraf residents. Tension and mistrust between the MEK leadership and Iraqi security forces remain high following two violent incidents involving Iraqi security forces that led to the deaths of more than 40 Camp Ashraf residents, in July 2009 and April 2011. Human Rights Watch has repeatedly called on Iraqi authorities to refrain from using excessive force against Camp Ashraf residents, and for independent and transparent investigations to investigate the two incidents and any crimes committed during them.
    The Iraqi government has not opened investigations into these incidents.
    The UN Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials states that "law enforcement officials may use force only when strictly necessary and to the extent required for the performance of their duty." The UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms provide that law enforcement officials "shall, as far as possible, apply non-violent means before resorting to the use of force" and may use force "only if other means remain ineffective." When the use of force is unavoidable, law enforcement officials must "exercise restraint in such use and act in proportion to the seriousness of the offence."
    Human Rights Watch has also called on the Iraqi government not to return the exiles to Iran against their will, saying they may risk torture or other serious abuse. Human Rights Watch has documented the prevalent use of torture in Iran, particularly against opponents of the government.
    As a state party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Iraq is bound to apply the principle of nonrefoulement. The UN's Human Rights Committee, which interprets the covenant, has explained this obligation as: "States parties must not expose individuals to the danger of torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment upon return to another country by way of their extradition, expulsion or refoulement."
    The Iraqi government has assured Washington that it would not forcibly transfer any member of the group to a country where they face a risk of torture.
     
    In Iraqi government news, Al Mada reports that Nouri al-Maliki is attempting to rally MPs with State of Law (his political slate which came in second in the March 2010 elections) to push through a 2012 budget (yes, the 2012 budget should have been taken care of some time ago). Ayad al-Tamimi (Al Mada) notes that political leaders who attended yesterday prep meeting for a national conference are attempting to map out the post-US Iraq. As for proposed documents, Kurds present stated that the Erbil Agreement already maps out the steps necessary.

    Following the March 2010 elections and Iraqiya's first place results, Nouri al-Maliki refused to allow Ayad Allawi (leader of Iraqiya) the chance at forming a government that his slate's win guaranteed. Nouri didn't want to give up being prime minister. Because the White House backed him, he was able to bring Iraq politics to a stand-still. Eight months of political stalemate followed during which Parliament met briefly once and that was it. There was no governing of Iraq taking place. Nor any efforts to move forward. (A White House friend has insisted in the last week that the reason the White House backed Nouri was because they needed to get started on negotiations for when most US troops left. That's a nice spin to their decision to back a thug.) Political blocs met in Erbil in November 2010 and the Erbil Agreement was hammered out. It was supposed to do a number of things for all actors involved. However, the minute it kicked in with Nouri being named prime minister-designate, he quickly disregarded the agreement. That's what's caused the political crisis. That's what the Kurds have been demanding Nouri agree to return to -- demanding since this summer. When Iraqiya announced their planned walk out December 16th, they were calling for a return to the Erbil Agreement. (The arrest warrant against Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi had not yet been issued at that point.)

    Nouri (and his sycophants in the US) today like to insist the Erbil Agreement is unconstitutional. (A) They only made that claim after he used it to remain prime minister and (B)they're not legal scholars. The Erbil Agreement was not illegal or unconstitutional. But if Nouri and his pep squad want to keep insisting it was, they should grasp that means Nour's prime minister tenure is illegitimate. Al Rafidayn notes rumors that al-Hashemi has left the Sulaymaniyah villa he was staying in and is now in an undisclosed/unknown location.


    Nouri is fearful of February 25th. Wael Grace (Al Mada) notes that the fear is that activists might take to Tahrir Square as they did a year ago. Nouri responded by (a) promising to cut his salary (no one ever followed up to see if that happened), (b) kicking the can -- insisting that he would address corruption in 100 days (100 days came and went and corruption in Iraq remains -- Nouri was saying earlier this month that it was as big a threat as terrorism) and (c) swearing he wouldn't seek a third term (his attorney has declared that promise to be non-binding). Grace speaks to Nouri's thugs that have been occupying Tahrir Square and running off the real protesters. One explains that he's a political activist with State of Law and he didn't get a seat in Parliament. These are Nouri's thugs. We noted that when they first appeared. Grace is the only journalist to pursue the story. If it were in English, it would be all over the internet.

    Will the demonstrators show back up Feb. 25th (or more likely the 24th since they were protesting on Fridays after morning prayers)? Maybe so.

    None of the demands were met. Basic services have not been met. Unemployment remains high and jobs scarce. People continue to disappear in the Iraqi justice system and more.  An Iraqi correspondent for McClatchy Newspapers reports that, over the weekend, a generator had to be moved when the landlady refused to allow it to be ket on her land.  Due to wiring issues and other things, the people ended up without electricity for two days.  The correspondent report on the frustration of the Iraqi people:
     
    One of the angry people shouted "why does the government pay budget for the ministry of electricity?  Why does it pay salaries for unproductive employees?" and finally he asked simply "why don't they give us the money to manage our electricity problem instead of wasting money?" The last question was the most important one for me. It reflects clearly the disappointment of Iraqis. Obviously, we don't trust our government and our politicians in general because after even after eight years of collapsing Saddam's regime, our politicians failed in everything. They failed in providing services, they failed in forming a real national government, they failed in protecting Iraq and they failed in saving Iraqis lives. They succeeded only in one thing. They perfectly succeeded in dividing Iraqis.
     
     
    A year later and all the problems are still present -- and more plentiful than before. The cry that may have scared Nouri the most last year -- remember the regime in Egypt was falling and numerous leaders were worried they would be next -- might have been the one about how they'd turned out to vote in the elections and nothing changed. They had the same prime minister, the same president, the same vice presidents (one, Adel Abdul Mehdi, has since resigned in protest of the corruption and the inability of the government to address it), so what was the point of 'democratic' elections?

    16 days until Friday the 24th. Nouri's paranoia is well known. It'll be interesting to see what happens.
    On the subject of violence, Aswat al-Iraq reports a Khanaquin Township sticky bombing targeting Sheikh Jabbar Husein claimed the sheikh's life and leaving three people riding with him injured and a Baghdad bombing left three people injured.
    At World Can't Wait, Ray McGovern explores a US war on Iran (and gives too much credence -- my opinion -- to what Barack supposedly really, really wants -- stop listening to the people around him, when Samantha Power hyped Jeremy Scahill, that should have been the end of it, the embarassing punking JS received should have ended it for all). Stan makes a far more important catch.  Terry Gross was part of the selling of the Iraq War though she's supposed a lefty.  She not only sold it, she attacked Ehren Watada on her program.  Now she's hoping no one will catch her pimping for a war with Iran.  Stan caught her. She interviewed the New York Times' William Broad about his new book 
    The Science of Yoga: The Risks and Rewards.  Terry felt the need to bring up Iran and how it 'wants' a bomb. Broad explained to her slowly and carefully -- when she brought up Iran -- that there was no proof that Iran even wanted to make a nuclear bomb.  After this had been gone over at great length (see Stan's post), Terry does a mm-hmm "So is there an estimate of how far away they are from actually having a bomb?"  She goes back to insisting they want one even though it's just been explained to her that there's no proof of that. 
     
     
    Yesterday we noted the family of Troy Gilbert. We'll close with more news of what they're enduring as they attempt to rescue their loved one's body.  Ginger Gilbert Ravella tells Brian New (KENS 5 -- link has text and video), "Someday my five kids are going to ask me, 'Did you do everything, did the government do everything to bring Daddy home?' I want to be able answer I did and they did absolutely everything." She is the widow of Maj Troy Gilbert, "During a 2006 mission near Baghdad, Maj.Gilbert was credited with saving twenty Americans under fire when he destroyed a gun truck from his F-16 jet. The Air Force pilot then turned around to attack another truck when the tail of his plane hit the ground."

    Those attacking the US service members then took Gilbert's body from the plane. His widow remembers seeing photos of his body and an unopened parachute released by the enemy. In 2007, those who took Maj Gilbert's body released a video using his body for propaganda purposes. How did the US military walk away from this issue? A small amount of tissue was in the crashed plane and this tissue was identified as belonging to Troy Gilbert so the government has declared him found.

    KSAT (link has text and video) explains, "However, the military was able to confirm Gilbert's identity using the tissue so his death was listed as 'accounted for.' Gilbert said that meant there is no active search to recover his body. His family says that's simply unacceptable."


    Jim Douglas (WFAA -- link is text and video) reported on the issue by speaking to the fallen's parents, Ronnie and Kaye Gilbert, and they explained that they meet with the Defense Dept later this month where they will attempt to convince the military to change the qualification from "body accounted for." Unless such a change takes place, the US government insists that there is no need for a search, that the tissue counts as "found" and, apparently, that the body of Troy Gilbert can be carted all over the world and back and it's of no concern to the US government.