Friday, May 21, 2010

Thoughts on Michael Caine

Stan's said I should participate in Friday movie night. Okay. But with a difference.

I'll cover Michael Caine. I've seen about ten of his sixties films now (not Alfie, however) and in the bulk of them he's a spy of some form or another. And they want so badly to be stylish but they just don't cut it.

For example, Deadfall. Early on a woman in a white hat looks semi-stylish. The hat is. Then you notice how the outfit doesn't really fit the body and then you notice how the scenery is tacky and they didn't even know how to fix a book case to look good on camera.

That's not an insult of Caine but it may be why Julie Christie is this huge international star and Michael Caine slowly became one. What stands out is how different he looked when he was young. Yes, he just looks older. But in those earlier films he has a kind of glow the way Jude Law does. In fact, he's a pretty hot little number in the sixties.

Billion Dollar Brain was another film he did that should be great but falls apart because of flat filming. The worst scene is when he's in bed with a woman and she's about to go at his back with a pin. There's no tension and all you can think is, "What an ugly bed and are those sheets even clean?"

More time was taken with Julie Christie's films -- with the scenery, with the filming. If that hadn't been the case would she have become the huge star she is?

I don't know but I would guess yes because she has the glow Michael Caine had (that I was talking about a moment ago) and she also had a gravity that just made her seem so of this earth and of this moment.

In a way, I think Brit films were working harder to build Caine than Julie Christie which left her alone to develop into a true actress while he had to detour through a lot of caper films (like most of Tom Cruise's films).

But even in his worst film, you can't ignore him. Which has to be the mark of a real star.

Radio note, if you like a good love story, listen to the first half-hour of NPR's The Story.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Friday, May 21, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, another broken promise from Barack, co-dependents rush to enable him, the refugee crisis continues and more.

Today Barack Obama worshiper
E.D.Kain (Truth/Slant) reminds (before excusing), "The potentially big viral video of the day is this one. It's of Barack Obama promising, 16 months ago, that by today -- May 21st, 2010 -- we'd be out of Iraq." As noted, he quickly excuses the broken promise. That's it, E.D., keep suckling on your golden calf. Those man boobs of Barack may yet bear milk. But make room for Jamelle Bouie who wants to go even further in minimizing Barack's broken promise. He says it's not a broken promise because Barack wasn't president!!!! What a stupid ass. "I don't know as much as I should about our Iraq policy" confesses Dumb Ass Jamelle. He doesn't know much about anything. Barack broke his promise. And it's not even a surprise. Samantha Power said he would, that's what she told the BBC in March 2008. From the Friday, March 7, 2008 snapshot:

Obama still lacks the leadership to take control of his campaign -- that would have required firing Power. Instead she resigned indicating that he's unable to run a campaign as well as unable to tell the truth. Power -- who also went to work for Obama in 2005 when he was first elected to the US Senate (November 2004) -- also had to deal with
the BBC interview she'd given. Barack Obama has not promised to pull ALL troops out of Iraq in 16 months. He has promised the American people that "combat" troops would be removed. But promises, promises (as Dionne Warwick once sang) . . .

Stephen Sackur: "You said that he'll revisit it [the decision to pull troops] when he goes to the White House. So what the American public thinks is a commitment to get combat forces out within sixteen months, isn't a commitment is it?"

Samantha Power: "You can't make a commitment in whatever month we're in now, in March of 2008 about what circumstances are going to be like in January 2009. We can'te ven tell what Bush is up to in terms of troops pauses and so forth. He will of course not rely upon some plan that he's crafted as a presidential candidate or as a US Senator."

Which would mean Mr. Pretty Speeches has been lying to the American people.

In a bit of good news for Jamelle, Barack has two nipples. That's one for Jamelle and one for E.D. Suckle on your golden calf, boys. And be sure to wipe the floor down when you leave -- maybe even disinfect it. In the real world,
Jason Ditz ( observes:

In all seriousness, everyone who has been following the story even a little knows that just two days after his inauguration,
President Obama was already talking about the promise as "aspirational" and a month later the "16 month plan" was formally replaced with the so-called 19 month plan, which would involve having some American troops leave Iraq by August 2010, declaring combat over, and keeping 50,000 troops "indefinitely."
At the time that pledge seemed a terrible betrayal of a campaign promise that was made the center of his foreign policy in debates. Now, even the "19 month plan" is looking pretty good by comparison,
as officials admit it too is being "reconsidered."

Xinhua reports a car bombing in Diyala Province's Khalis. CNN notes it was "just outside a coffee shop" and resulted in 22 dead and fifty-three injured. BBC adds, "The BBC's Jim Muir in Baghdad said a car containing explosives was set off in a busy market in front of a coffee shop where crowds were enjoying the cool evening." Steven Lee Myers (New York Times) quotes Mohammed Ahmed stating, "The explosion was so big I thought for a minute I was in hell." Waleed Ibrahim, Jim Loney and Charles Dick (Reuters) report the death toll has climbed to 30 with eighty injured. AFP reminds, "Khales itself was last struck with a major attack on March 26, when twin bombings in front of a cafe and a restaurant in the city killed 42 people and wounded 65 others."

In other reported violence . . .


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad bombing which injured four police officers. Waleed Ibrahim, Jim Loney and Charles Dick (Reuters) report a Nimrud car bombing which left seven people injured. Reuters notes a Kirkuk Thursday roadside bombing which claimed the life of 1 militia member and a Mussayab Thursday night car bombing which left six people wounded.


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports an Abu Zaid armed clash which claimed 4 lives and left a fifth wounded and dropping back to Tuesday a Mosul attack which claimed the lives of 2 police officers. Reuters notes a Baquba home invasion (by assailants "wearing military unifornm") in which 4 family members were slaughtered and a fifth was left injured.

Iraqis continue to die while in 'custody' and
Hannah Allam and Jamal Naji (McClatchy Newspapers) report families of six Sunni men who died this month while imprisoned are planning to sue the Iraqi government, that "at least three of the six [. . .] showed signs of torture and they quote the late Salah al Nimrawi's brother Talib al Nimrawi stating, "I blame the Iraqi government, which bears responsibility for the death of my brother, and the American forces hold even more responsibility for handing him over to the Iraqis. The Americans should exert pressure on the Iraqi government to hand over the criminals who did this. Otherwise, (our) tribe is not a small tribe."

Yesterday's snapshot noted the Turkish military bombing northern Iraq. Reuters notes that the Kurdistan Regional Government issued a statement today regarding that bombing and the shelling the Iranian military has been doing on northern Iraq: "The presidency of the Iraq Kurdistan region condemns these attacks on the border regions, and at the same time considers this a violation and aggression on the sovereignty of the Iraqi state and demands its immediate cessation." Iran is in the news for other topics as well including influence. Marjorie Olster and Qassim Abdul-Zahra (AP) report that unattributed 'chatter' portrays the US government concerned with Iran's alleged backing of Nouri al-Maliki to remain as prime minister of Iraq. Nouri al-Maliki's political slate, State Of Law, came in second in the March 7th elections winning 89 seats in the new Parliament. Ayad Allawi's slate, Iraqiya, came in first with 91 seats. Al-Ahram Weekly quotes Allawi stating, "I really don't know how it will end but what I know is that we are not going to accept that the will of the Iraqi people is going to be confiscated."

The Iraq War created many things but democracy wasn't one of them. Refugees? The illegal war created a huge number of refugees internally and externally. This week the
Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre released [PDF format warning] "Internal Displacement: Global Overview of Trends and Developments in 2009." Findings in the report include:

* This internally displaced population -- equivalent to one in ten Iraqis -- had been displaced in three phases. Since February 2006, around 1.5 million people had fled sectarian and generalised violence including military operations by multinational, Iraqi, Turkish and Iranian forces in northern Iraq. Approximately 190,000 people had been displaced by military operations and generalised violence from 2003 to 2005, and close to a million by the policies of the former government of Saddam Hussein, including the "arabisation" of Kurdish areas, destruction of marshlands in southern Iraq, and repression of political opposition.

* Iraq's many minority groups faced particular threats, including Christian Assyrians, Faeeli Kurds, Yazidis, Palestinian refugees, and also Sunni and Shia people where they were in the minority. Children and women faced recruitment by armed groups, sexual and gender-based violence, and labour exploitation. Despite the decline in violence, the UN and the humanitariancommunity continued to report human rights abuses and violations against civilians by militias, criminal gangs, and security forces, with perpetrators generally avoiding prosecution.

* Over half of the world's internally displaced people (IDPs) were in five countries: Sudan, Colombia, Iraq, DRC and Somalia.

* Internally displaced women and children were particularly exposed to rape and sexual violence in many countries including Chad, Colombia, DRC, India, Iraq, Kenya, Myanmar, Somalia and Sudan.

* In Iraq, displaced women heading households on their own faced higher risks of sexual exploitation than women who were accompanied by men.

*In many countries, returns were not voluntary and IDPs' involvement in planning the process was limited. In countries including Bosnia and Herzegovina, Columbia, Iraq and Sudan, IDPs were encouraged or forced to return before it was safe or sustainable for them to do so.

* In Iraq, most displacement in 2009 was caused by the actions of militant groups targeting members of other communities.

* In Iraq, the number of returnees increased but remained a small percentage of the number displaced.

* In Iraq, despite the overall decline in violence, returnees and IDPs continued to face endemic violence and threats on the basis of their religious, sectarian or ethnic origins, or simply for being displaced or a returnee.

All starred statements above are direct quotes from the report. Iraq makes the list of countries with the most internally displaced people (Iraq comes in third with an estimated 2.76 million IDPs). That's the internally displaced. There are also the external refugees.
Monday on Australia's ABC Radio (link has video), the refugee crisis was discussed on Radio National Breakfast with Fran Kelly:

Fran Kelly: . . . Michael Otterman, a freelance journalist and human rights consultant. He is the author of a new book called
Erasing Iraq: The Human Cost of Carnage. Michael, thanks very much for joining us again on Breakfast.

Michael Otterman: Thanks for having me in.

Fran Kelly: The premise of your book, Erasing Iraq, is the litany of wrongs that Iraqi people have suffered at the hands of foreigners. It's seven years since the 2003 invasion of Iraq, there's still plenty of violence going on as we hear every day or every week at least. But there is now some political stability. They're have been elections recently -- although they're still being resolved. Is Iraq a better place than it was under Saddam Hussein in 2003?

Michael Otterman: Well you have to look at the wider costs. Things are more stable today certainly as they were right after the invasion. The rates of violence relative to the worst days of the post-invasion chaos are down but what my book is about is the human costs. The costs have been tremendous. As part of this book's research, I've spent time in Syria and Jordan speaking to Iraqi refugees and they were very quick to point out the trauma they've experienced -- obviously it endured under Saddam Hussein. And I include narratives of life under Saddam and torture that some people endured under Saddam. But they're -- in terms of US aggression in that country -- they pinpoint 1991, during the first Gulf War, and the UN sanctions and then, finally, 2003 and the post-invasion chaos as this real continuum of suffering. The costs have been tremendous. Over five million displaced. Millions killed. So it's really hard to compare apples to oranges -- what's better, what's worse? Iraqis I spoke to -- Look, some supported the toppling of Saddam Hussein but I didn't meet any Iraqi that supported this prolonged occupation.

Fran Kelly: Okay. Just the title itself, Erasing Iraq. What do you mean?

Michael Otterman: Well we talk about the concept of sociocide in the book and sociocide is a term which -- essentially it reflects the killing of people and displacement but also reflects the larger cost. And we argue that includes the destruction of society. And sociocide's an apt term to describe the level of destruction in Iraq. And-and is akin to erasing Iraq because not only do you have millions killed and millions displaced, but you have destruction of very basic and central elements of Iraqi life coming through, say, if you look at the religious and minorities in Iraq. We talk about the Mandaeans which is a religious group that have lived, well, for centuries in Iraq. They numbered about 50,000 strong before 2003 and after 2003 they've just been obliterated by Sunnia, Shia fundamentalists. Their numbers are about four or five thousand today, down from fifty thousand. And they've had this almost global diaspora. They've been killed, kidnapped within Iraq. So this is a religious group that's unique to -- or was unique to Iraq -- which has been completely obliterated in the post-invasion chaos. Sociocide, erasing Iraq, also refers to the destruction of cultural elements in the country, the destruction of shared artifacts. Things like the Baghdad museum which was sacked after the invasion. Over 9,000 artifacts are still lost and presumed destroyed. This reflects the wider costs of this war which the term sociocide describes.

Fran Kelly: I suppose no one really thinks any war has no costs. And here, sitting in the West, perhaps we think it's worth it, Saddam is gone, these people are now holding relatively free and fair elections, it seems to be moving forward. I think one statistic that I read in your book that I hadn't really focused on much was the displacements, the displaced people, the amount of refugee people living -- well, homeless in Iraq but outside of Iraq. It numbers in the millions, as you said,
Michael Otterman: Yeah, I mean, it's an incredible number. It's an incredible movement of people. It's the largest refugee crisis in the region since 1948 and the establishment of Israel. But it's almost an invisible crisis because, like I said, there's almost 2 million externally displaced refugees. Most of them live in Syria and Jordan. But unlike other refugee crises that come to mind, these people aren't living in tents. They live in the outskirts of Damascus and Amman in kind of the rougher neighborhoods and in ramshackle buildings. Interestingly, these are mostly middle-class Iraqis, many professionals and school teachers. These are actually the people that Iraq needs certainly right now to rebuild -- to rebuild its society. But they remain displaced and, despite relative drops in violence, they choose not to return because they don't see a country that (a) is stable and (b) that - that has water, power, basic sewage, the services --

Fran Kelly: So life is better in sort of some kind of refugee situation in Syria or Iran or Jordan than it is in Iraq?

Michael Otterman: That's right. I mean, there hasn't been massive returns. Actually, there's only been a trickle of returns.

Moving over to England. HXA is the name the British legal system is using to refer to an Iraqi refugee whose identity is not being publicly disclosed. He entered England in 2000 and was allowed to remain through the fall of 2005; however, he was instead 'detained' and then released only to be arrested and accused of aiding 'terrorists' in Iraq on a 2004 visit.
Channel 4 News (link has text and video) reports that, in 2005, there was an attempt by Tony Blair's government (specifically Home Secretary Charles Clarke) to set up a prison in Iraq ("a Guantanamo-Bay style camp") in Basra that HXA could be sent to: "The High Court ruled today that such attempts were a breach of the man's rights, and that he was detained illegally in the UK while the Home Office plotted to deport, and detain him, in Iraq." BBC notes Judge Justice King found today that he was falsely imprisoned and that damages will be set at a later date.

Turning to the US where Iraqi refugees and other immigrant populations could depend on the East Couny Refugee Center in El Cajon, California.
Anne Krueger (San Diego Union-Tribune) reports Joseph Ziauddin has been funding the center himself "but his funds are running short. He's applying for government grants, but money for the bills is getting tight while he waits to hear if any of the requests for funds have been approved." Diana Nguyen (Southern Maryland Headline News) speaks with Iraqi refugee Sawsan al-Sayyab who left Iraq due to violence and went to Jordan. Of those refugees in Jordan, she was one of the few to be granted admission to the US. She states, "I never left the country after all these years of wars and embargoes. I didn't want to leave even in 2006, but when there's a certain moment when your life is in danger, you have to step up."

Back to England. Ignore the jabbering idiots (or
do like Rebecca and call them out), Iraq had an impact on the UK elections this month. If you still don't get that, take a look what's going on currently. Labour is no longer the majority party in Parliament and there is huge competition to lead the party. Ed Balls is among those vying for the leadership slot. Mary Riddell and Andrew Porter (Telegraph of London) interviewed Balls:

His greatest criticism is reserved for the Iraq war, which still saps Labour support. Mr Balls today becomes the first former Cabinet minister unequivocally to condemn the invasion, claiming the public were misled by "devices and tactics".
"People always felt as if the decision had been made and they were being informed after the fact." Though not yet elected as an MP, Mr Balls -- as Mr Brown's adviser -- was party to top level discussions after attempts to get a second UN Security Council resolution failed.
"I was in the room when a decision was taken that we would say it was that dastardly Frenchman, Jacques Chirac, who had scuppered it. It wasn't really true, you know. I said to Gordon: 'i know why you're doing this, but you'll regret it'. France is a very important relationship for us."
Although Mr Balls concedes that, had he been an MP at the time, he would have voted for the war on the basis of the facts provided, he now concedes that not only was the information wrong but the war unjustified.
"It was a mistake. On the information we had, we shouldn't have prosecuted the war. We shouldn't have changed our argument from international law to regime change in a non-transparent way. It was an error for which we as a country paid a heavy price, and for which many people paid with their lives. Saddam Hussein was a horrible man, and I am pleased he is no longer running Iraq. But the war was wrong."

Ed Balls is only one vying for the position and talking Iraq.
Patrick Wintour and Allegra Stratton (Guardian) report, "Labour's divisions over Iraq broke out into the open tonight as Ed Miliband became the first contender for the leadership to make it an issue during the campaign. He said UN weapons inspectors were not given enough time in 2003 before coalition troops invaded the country, and asserted that the way in which Britain decided to go to war led to 'a catastrophic loss of trust in Labour'." Miliband's position is much weaker than Balls and that may be intentional (right now no one seriously believes Ed Miliband would challenge his brother David Miliband for the leadership post -- everyone could be wrong, but no one believes it's happening). If it is intentionally weak, he's there to siphon off potential support for Balls while not making such a strong statement against the illegal war that it might potentially force his brother to make a comment/rebuttal.

In the US, Barack is set to deliver an address at West Point tomorrow and this from Debra Sweet's "
Obama Readies Troops: Protest Needed Now!" (World Can't Wait):
Saturday, May 22: President Obama speaks at West Point. Anti-war Protest 10:00 am Memorial Park in Highland Falls, NY. Rally and march to the West Point Gate. Call 866 973 4463
Help publish
Crimes are Crimes - No Matter Who Does Them again, in another national publication.
Listen to former C.I.A. analyst Ray McGovern, advisor to War Criminals Watch, on the history of U.S. government assasination, and Obama's order to kill al-Awlaki.
ACLU Letter Urges President Obama To Reject
Targeted Killings Outside Conflict Zones
May 13, the New York Times front page:
U.S. Decision to Approve Killing of Cleric Causes Unease
This is exactly the moment are voices are needed! Please take a moment to
circulate this statement, and ask your friends to sign it!
Cindy Sheehan's Peace of the Action announces a Sizzlin' Summer Protest in Washington DC July 4-17. Join in!
4th of July in Lafayette Park (North Side of White House) at 1pm to pass out Peace Literature to the people who flock to DC for the Nation's Birthday.
The Wars Drone On and On Monday, July 5th -- Friday, July 9th
Hands off our Kids! Monday, July 12 to Friday, July 16

This week, Debra Sweet was a guest of
Scott Horton's on Antiwar Radio:Scott Horton: Well, you know, Ehren Watada said, "I will not lead men into battle to commit war crimes. I will not do it, put me in prison. I will not --" Well, he tried to stay out of prison, but he said I would rather go to prison and it wasn't just I don't want to commit War Crimes. It was, "Look, I'm an officer. I'm responsible for the men under me. How can I give them illegal orders to invade and murder people in their own country? I will not do it. And [yet] this is what Barack Obama's asking of these young officers graduating from West Point: To bring young men into battle and order them to commit atrocities.
Debra Sweet: You're right. And we're going to be out at the gate with hundreds of people. Not thousands and not tens of thousands but hundreds who, I'm sure, are going to be giving a counter message to this. This is an immoral, unjust, it's an illegitimate occupation. It has to stop. And we are going to be reading the names of the civilians in Afghanistan killed and also the US military killed. We want there to be an accounting.

David Bacon is an independent journalist who covers the labor and immigration beat -- one of a tiny number of actual labor reporters remaining in the US -- and we'll note this from his "Hundreds of Union Janitors Fired Under Pressure From Feds" (Truthout):

Federal immigration authorities have pressured one of San Francisco's major building service companies, ABM, into firing hundreds of its own workers. Some 475 janitors have been told that unless they can show legal immigration status, they will lose their jobs in the near future. ABM has been a union company for decades, and many of the workers have been there for years. "They've been working in the buildings downtown for 15, 20, some as many as 27 years," said Olga Miranda, president of Service Employees Local 87. "They've built homes. They've provided for their families. They've sent their kids to college. They're not new workers. They didn't just get here a year ago." Nevertheless, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) division of the Department of Homeland Security has told ABM that they have flagged the personnel records of those workers. Weeks ago, ICE agents sifted through Social Security records and the I-9 immigration forms all workers have to fill out when they apply for jobs. They then told ABM that the company had to fire 475 workers who were accused of lacking legal immigration status.

David Bacon's latest book is Illegal People -- How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants (Beacon Press) which won the CLR James Award. Bacon can be heard on KPFA's The Morning Show (over the airwaves in the Bay Area, streaming online) each Wednesday morning (begins airing at 7:00 am PST).

TV notes,
Washington Week begins airing on many PBS stations tonight (and throughout the weekend, check local listings) and joining Gwen around the table this week are Dan Balz (Washington Post), John Dickerson (Slate) Susan Milligan (Boston Globe) and Jeff Zeleny (New York Times). And Gwen's column this week is "When Washington Insiders Become Outsiders." Remember that the show podcasts in video and audio format -- and a number of people sign up for each (audio is thought to be so popular due to the fact that it downloads so much quicker). If you podcast the show, remember there is the Web Extra where Gwen and the guests weigh in on topics viewers e-mail about. And also remember that usually by Monday afternoon you can go to the show's website and stream it there (including Web Extra) as well as read the transcripts and more. Meanwhile Bonnie Erbe will sit down with Cari Dominguez, Nicole Kurokawa, Leticia Velez-Hudson and Patricia Sosa on the latest broadcast of PBS' To The Contrary to discuss the week's events. And at the website each week, there's an extra just for the web from the previous week's show and this week it's Laura Bush's book where she states she pro-choice and pro-same-sex marriage. For the broadcast program, check local listings, on many stations, it begins airing tonight. And turning to broadcast TV, Sunday CBS' 60 Minutes:
Are They Safe?Chemicals called phthalates found in soft plastic products we use everyday are so ubiquitous, that traces of them can be found in everybody. The government has banned some of them in children's toys for fear they may be harmful, but are they? Lesley Stahl investigates.
The SEED SchoolThere's a unique school that's giving kids from an inner-city neighborhood that only graduates 33 percent of its high school students a shot at college they never had before. Byron Pitts reports on Seed School, the first urban, public boarding school.
Marty's Big IdeaHear the story of the invention of the cell phone from the man whose team came up with it at Motorola. The inventor, Martin Cooper, is still at it, improving the gadget he came up with 37 years ago. Morley Safer reports.
60 Minutes, Sunday, May 23, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

antiwar.comjason ditz
abcradio national breakfastfran kellymichael otterman
the guardian
the telegraph of londonpatrick wintour
allegra stratton
mcclatchy newspapersjamal naji
hannah allam
debra sweetthe world cant wait
antiwar radioscott horton
60 minutescbs newsto the contrarybonnie erbe
washington week

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Vote and vote often

Go vote at TV Squad to save The New Adventures of Old Christine.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Thursday, May 20, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, post-election madness does as well, the military 'suddenly' discovers DNA and a finger print on a weapon thought to have been used in a November death, a House Veterans Affairs Subcommittee phones it in, and more.

Helen Benedict is someone we've noted many times before. She wrote
The Lonely Soldier: The Private War of Women Serving in Iraq and she is a professor at Columbia University. She appeared before Congress today and her opening remarks included:

Too often they told me that when they tried to report an assault, the military and VA treated them as liars and malingerers. They also told me that their Sexual Assault Response Coordinators, assigned to them by the military, often treated them with such suspicion that they felt re-traumatized and intimidated out of pursing justice. Indeed, the usual approach to a report of sexual assault within the military is to investigate the victim, not the perpetrator, and to dismiss the case altogether if alcohol is involved. Counselors have told me of seeing case after case where a battered and abused victim has been told, "It's your word against his." It is therefore essential that the counselors used by the military and the VA be trained in civilian rape crisis centers, away from a military culture that habitually blames the victim and that is too often concerned with protecting the image of a platoon or commander by covering up wrongdoing. These counselors -- and indeed anyone within the military charged with investigating sexual assault -- should be trained to understand the causes, effects and costs of sexual abuse to both the victim and to society. Within the VA, reform is also needed. The process for evaluating disability caused by military sexual assault needs to be automatically upgraded. And victims who were too intimidated to report an assault while on active duty should never be denied treatment once they come home, as they so often are now. The VA needs to recognize the fact that some 90 percent of victims never report assaults within the military because its culture is so hostile to them. The VA must also recognize and address the fact that it can take years to recover from sexual assault and that untreated trauma caused by sexual assault can result in depression, homelessness, self-destructive behavior and suicide. No victim of military sexual assault should ever be denied benefits and help.

She was but one qualified witness appearing before the Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs, chaired by US House Rep John Hall, and the Subcommittee on Health, chaired by Michael Michaud. There were also two who shouldn't have been present. Kaye Whitley, for example, will always get eye rolls when talking about how 'happy' she is to speak to the Congress (it will never be forgotten that she refused to appear before the Congress under Bully Boy Bush). And then there was Scott Berkowitz and I'm not donating to RAINN anymore. Scott's an idiot and he's always been an idiot but, more importantly, he spoke on behalf of an organization. Every other oganization sent women: Anuradha K. Bhagwati (Service Women's Action Network), Jennifer Hunt (Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America) and Joy J. Ilem (Disabled American Veterans). But even with Whitley and Berkowitz, it should have made for a strong hearing.

It should have.

How many times did we hear a variety of this: "Your complete written statements are a part of the record, Chairman Michaud and I uh spoke about the time situation before and if ther'es no objection from members of the submccomties we would like to submit our questions in writing and for the record and move on to the second panel so that we can try and hear from as many witnesses as possible."

That's US House Rep John Hall. Guess what? Unacceptable.

What a load of s**t. 'Mexico's president is in the country!!!!!!' Can we not wet ourselves.

And we can talk decorum? I don't care what the Arizona law is (I haven't read it -- like the White House, I haven't actually read it), you do not applaud someone from another country -- you certainly don't stand up and applaud -- coming into the halls of Congress and delivering a speech calling out one of the fifty states. I believe the Dixie Chicks -- who did not hold any public office -- were banned, had their CDs burned and more for much, much less. That was shameful and disgusting. Joe Biden had the sense to remain seated, Nancy Pelosi was standing.

That was a shameful moment. It's a very thin line and the Congress needs to learn how to walk it. They are the public servants of the United States of America. Arizona is a part of those fifty states. To applaud and cheer Calderon's remarks against Arizona? That was disgusting. As they demonstrated at State of the Union address, the Congress has made WHORES out of themselves and no one should ever take them seriously. Apparently, when not in session, they can be found providing laugh tracks and applause for various sitcoms. They are not private citizens (the Dixie Chicks are), they are public servants and they were in the US Congress making monkeys of themselves.

At some point, someone might want to ask why Calderon of I-stole-the-election fame (or infamy) was even allowed to speak? He's unhappy with Arizona? Well I think the world's unhappy with the murders in Oaxaca. What the hell is he doing on that? And if it objecting to a law in the US is keeping him from addressing that issue, by all means take your ass back to your own country, don't feel you have to stay any longer.

So there was a serious topic today and it wasn't addressed seriously.

What was the hearing. We all had to stand for the Pledge. Why was that? If time was of essence, guess what, that's the first thing that could have been chucked. (Hall always starts his hearings with the pledge.) Then Hall made his statement then Doug Lamborn spoke from Land of Crazy -- you know all these false rapes and false claims and blah, blah, blah. But he was going to listen and hoped to learn something. The first thing he should have learned? When to stay silent. When not to flaunt the ignorance.

So here's how the 'hearing' went, there were three panels. Each witness read their prepared statement outloud. As one finished the next started. When panel one finished, panel two was called, then panel three.

Where were the questions?

There were none.

Don't worry -- we were told -- they'd be part of the record. They'd be done in writing. No, that's not good enough. That's outrageous.

What is that? Hearing by correspondence?

That is an embarrassment and it's an insult to those suffering from MST and those working in that field. You can give many sentences -- as Hall and Michaud did at the end of the 'hearing' -- claiming that this isn't an insult to the issue or the people or blah, blah F**KING blah. That's exactly what it is.

Calderon never should have been invited to address Congress to begin with. He had nothing of value to say and he's done nothing of value in his own country. But his chance to insult Arizona was deemed more important than the US government doing their business -- the business they are paid by the tax payers to do.

But they're only following lazy-ass-in-chief for whom every day is a snow day. Which is why the Gulf disaster continues. But hey, Barry got a chance to preen and pose today and isn't that what democracy is all about.

This hearing needed to take place and it needed to take place publicly.

There is no excuse for this.

In Iraq, bombings from the skies.
Hurriyet Daily News states Turkey's military aircraft "hit PKK camps in northern Iraq." Counting 20 planes, Al Jazeera reports, "Turkish fighter jets have bombed dozens of Kurdish separatist targets in northern Iraq, local television has reported." The network's Anita Mcnaught declares, "This is one of the biggest strikes in the last two years. This was a very much larger strike than usual -- almost 50 locations. And a day long attack involving all these fighter jets." Ivan Watson and Yesim Comert (CNN) report, "A Turkish military source told CNN Turk, CNN's sister network, that the military scrambled jets to carry out the attack after a group of suspected fighters were detected on Iraqi territory, approaching Turkey's mountainous border with Iraq." And AFP adds, "Thursday's strikes followed a series of daring attacks in recent weeks by PKK rebels on Turkish military targets in the country's southeast, which left several soldiers dead." RTT notes, "At least 37,000 people have died in the two-decade-long violence unleashed by the PKK, which is listed as a terrorist organization by most of the international community including the United States and the EU."

March 7th was when elections were held. If the last time Nouri was crowned is any indication, there are still two months to go before anyone is 'selected' for prime minister. Back then, elections were held in December 2005. Nouri was 'crowned' in April 2006. Should the schedule be similar this go round, it would be July. However, this go round brought new stresses and Nouri and his toys did everything they could to tarnish Iraqiya's victory. They screamed that the results weren't accurate and that there was massive fraud -- so much so, they just knew (they claimed 'proof') that in Baghdad alone they could pick up to 20 extra seats via a recount. They screamed that elected candidates were Ba'athists and would not be seated in the new Parliament. They targeted Iraqiya with harassment and arrests. And, in the process, not only upped the stress levels for Iraqis, they put a cloud and question mark over Iraqiya's win which was the whole point. While Iraqiya was defending their win, Nouri was working on coalition building -- something he would have been rebuked on had he not made Iraqiya's win murky. (The winning slate is guaranteed first shot at forming a coalition.) While this may have been a 'winning' 'strategy' for his State Of Law slate, it has created stress among Iraq's middle class.
Borzou Daragahi (Los Angeles Times) reports fundamentalists militias invading Ibtisam Hamoody's neighborhood didn't send her packing, "turning it into a killing field" didn't send her packing and her husband being shot dead didn't send her packing. But now she and her youngest daughter or leaving Iraq with plans to live in either Jordan or Syria. Why? The continued uncertainty and return to violence in the madness of post-election Iraq. Jane Arraf (Christian Science Monitor) notes, "More than two months after the vote, Maliki and former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi -- leaders of two political blocs considered essential to a coalition government -- have still not met." Arraf notes that he was out of the country today as many leaders attended a scheduled lunch with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani. Alsumaria TV explained that the meeting today with Talabanai would be attended by Iraqiya's Tareq al-Hashemi (Iraq's Sunni vice president), Mohammed Allawi, Hussein Shaalan and Hasan al-Ulwi but "Kurdistan Alliance senior official Abdul Bari Zebari demeaned the importance of the meeting at Talabani's headquarters." Steven Lee Myers (New York Times) reports on the meet up and notes that with all the leaders attending, there was "not a single woman among them" and he quotes Tariq al-Hashemi stating of the drawn out post-election period, "It's a shame on Iraq. The United Kingdom formed a government in five days. Despite the political conflicts in Sudan, they were able to form a government quicker than us."

29-year-old Amy Seyboth Tirador died serving in Iraq last November, she was on her second tour of duty in Iraq. The 1998 Colonie Central High School graduate joined the military soon after high school and served for ten years.
March's news included that the military had ruled Amy had taken her own life . . . because most who do shoot themselves in the back of the head, right? WRGB notes, "Tirador's mother, Colleen Murphy, has long maintained her daughter was murdered in Iraq last November despite a ruling from the armed forces that it was suicide. South Colonie High School is going to honor Tirador with a Memorial Day ceremony May 28th." Murphy tells Nicol Lally (WTEN) that the military has informed her that they found fingerprints and DNA on the gun assumed to have been used in the shooting. Dennis Yusko (Albany Times Union) adds, "But word of the possible evidence did not excite or assuage Murphy, who refuses to accept that her 29-year-old daughter committed suicide. Murphy, 53, believes her daughter was killed, and the military is covering up what really happened. She called the latest information 'stall tactics.' That's because she wants to launch a private investigation into Tirador's death with Michael Baden, a nationally known forensic pathologist, but can't get access to additional photos, interviews and other materials from the Army until the Criminal Investigative Division closes its case." Allawi had planned a trip out of the country and done so, he says, before the lunch was announced. Nouri had his own plans for today. Suadad al-Salhy (Reuters) reports that on this day of 'breaking bread' and public smiles, "Maliki crticised his rival in an interview published on Thursday in the al-Mada newspaper, saying Allawi was 'preaching for a civil war'." Viola Gienger (Bloomberg News) notes that Iraq's Ambassador to the US, Samir Sumaida'ie, declared today, "The outline of the endgame is becoming clear. It will be very difficult for any government to survive unless they include everybody or they satisfy the four leading blocs." Related, I've never called Gen Ray Odierno out for word games. And Gienger's report is the perfect example of why I don't: If the press doesn't have enough sense to know what a statement means, that's on them. For example, Gienger, you quoted Odierno giving you a non-answer. The SOFA does not include an end of August drawdown. That's Barack Obama's promise, it's not part of a SOFA. So when Odierno states that the post-election period is not effecting the SOFA, if you're not smart enough to follow up with: "Well, what about with Obama's promise to drawdown to 50,000 by the end of this August," that's on you. Gienger can take comfort in the fact that at least she didn't offer a 'detailed' 'analysis' of the SOFA the way Ryan Harvey did and embarrass himself and Iraq Veterans Against the War and everyone else that's reposting that crap. Is reading really that difficult?

Does no one know how to read? The SOFA is the SOFA. It was negotiated, it was signed off on. In fact, it passed the Iraqi Parliament Thanksgiving Day 2008 and the signing ceremony for it became a world event because that's where Bully Boy Bush got the shoes tossed at him. That's what he and Nouri were doing at that ceremony, signing the documents. So this garbage that Ryan Harvey's offering? If it's something not in the SOFA, it's not in the SOFA. Learn to read before you offer an analysis. That, especially being posted at IVAW, is the best example of stupid and Gienger need not worry that she's the global idiot today, not when we have Ryan Harvey. And for anyone wondering, he is not a member of IVAW, he did not serve in the military. He does serve in the Doofus Forces where he attacks right-wingers non-stop. Usually in bad song.

Iraq today saw waves of violence.


Reuters notes a Mosul suicide bombing which claimed the life of the bomber, 2 police officers and 1 bystander (either more people were wounded), a Mahmudiya roadside bombing which injured four people, a Baghdad roadside bombing which injured six people, a second one which injured two, a third which injured three, a fourth Baghdad roadside bombing which injured five people, a Yusufiya home bombing which injured three people a Mahmudiya roadside bombing which injured three people and, dropping back to yesterday, a Baiji roadside bombing which injured six militia members.


Reuters notes 2 police officers shot dead in Mosul, 1 civlian shot dead in Mosul, two civilians wounded in yet another Mosul shooting, a Balad Ruz armed clash which claimed 5 lives, and, dropping back to yesterday, an apparent kidnapping attempt in Kirkuk in which 1 person was killed and two more injured.

Jeremy Kuzmarov's book review "
U.S. Terrorism in Vietnam" (Monthly Review):In late 1970, prompted by the debate over the exposure of U.S. atrocities in the village of Mỹ Lai, an anonymous GI wrote a letter to Army Chief of Staff William Westmoreland, claiming to have witnessed hundreds of acts of terrorism by U.S. soldiers during Operation Speedy Express. The campaign, intended to reclaim portions of the Mekong Delta, purportedly killed over ten thousand enemy but seized only seven hundred weapons."In the ambushes we killed anything or anybody and a lot of these weren't VC. We used claymores on any people, on any boat that passed even if sometimes it would be loaded with bananas and a couple of women, or a papasan [male Vietnamese] with a hoe. No big thing, they were VC as soon as we killed them." The GI went on to state that there was random shooting from helicopters at anything that moved on the ground and that the "snipers were the worst killers who were responsible for at least 600 murders per month [during the Operation]." The Battalion commander [Lieutenant Colonel David Hackworth, among the most decorated soldiers in U.S. history], told his company commander that "pretty soon there wouldn't be any rice farmers left because his snipers would kill them all. And he laughed."Such revelations provide a pivotal component of Bernd Greiner's compelling new book, War Without Fronts: The USA in Vietnam, which vividly details the genocidal nature of the warfare carried out by the U.S. Army in Vietnam, based on evidence drawn from Army criminal investigation division reports into alleged war crimes. These records were declassified in 1994 but largely ignored by scholars until recently. Greiner's findings and analysis are especially pertinent, given the historical revisionism and cultural amnesia that have taken root in U.S. society about the Vietnam War, paving the way for the current military aggression in the Middle East. The above might remind many of video released last month. Monday April 5th, WikiLeaks released US military video of an assault in Iraq. 12 people were killed in the assault including two Reuters journalists Namie Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh. Iraq War veteran Josh Stieber was a member of the military company depicted in the video. Paul Jay (Real News Network) did a four-part interview with Josh. We noted a portion of part- three last week and we'll note this from part-four.

Paul Jay: So talk about that day or the few days or whatever leading up to that application for conscientious objector status. This must've been quite dramatic.

Josh Steiber: Yeah. Well, I actually didn't know what conscientious objection was until I got back from Iraq and I knew I had to act.

Paul Jay: So you finished your tour of duty.
Josh Steiber: Right, I finished my tour with all these questions going on in my mind and knew I had to start changing things but wasn't sure how extreme I would do with this until we got back and I got to spend a month back home with my family. And that process for me literally brought everything back home as I started to imagine all the different things that we have done to other people's families for the last 14 months going on to my family, and not just these big headline catchers like, you know, what you see in the WikiLeaks video. Obviously, that stuff goes on, but sometimes even the smaller things of what we were doing on a day-to-day basis.

Paul Jay: Like what?

Josh Stieber: Of searching through people's homes and people would often be disrespectful and that, and just, you know, you're told to search for weapons, so you go in a house and you tear it apart looking for weapons or anything suspicious. And I know, you know, people in my neighborhood growing up who, if that happened to their home, they would have some probably pretty passionate responses to that and other little thinks like, you know, if we were driving down the strett, somebody might think it was funny to swerve into a mud puddle and splash an old lady with mud, or when we were going into a house to pull the head off a baby doll that a kid was holding and hand it back to the kid. And, again, it's like that's not going to make, you know, the front page of the newspaper but you start to think, "Well what if that was my mom that got splashed with mud?" or "What if that was my little sister whose baby doll got ripped apart? How would I feel about that?" And so I got down to this very simple idea of doing unto others and I knew I wouldn't want other people to do to me.

Paul Jay: Now in this kind of culture that, you know, it's relatively acceptable to shoot civilians. We've been told of stories that, during these house searches, there's been quite a few killings, that people thought there were weapons -- or maybe they didn't -- and they shot anwyay. Did you experience any of that?

Josh Stieber: Not that I can remember offhand of something specifically in a house search but, again, it was sometimes even smaller things that would affect me -- like just how we treated the locals when we went into their house and knew that, if that kind of thing went on back here, that, you know, most people would be up in arms about that. You know, even some of the relatively minor things would set people off.

On veterans issues, we'll note this from the
Senate Democratic Policy Committee:

Senate Democrats have a long record of working to ensure that our nation's veterans receive the care and benefits they have earned through their service. Over the past several years, congressional Democrats led the effort to fill in critical funding shortfalls at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) created by the previous Administration and championed the passage of the largest investment in veterans' education since World War II. In addition, working with President Obama, Senate Democrats have taken significant action to improve and expand access to VA health care services, better meet the needs of returning Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans, enhance access to benefits for all veterans, and ensure more timely claims processing and efficient management at the VA. As we near the Memorial Day holiday, we honor the service of the men and women who have sacrificed for our country and pledge to continue our commitment to the heroes that have served and continue to serve each day.

This Fact Sheet outlines the relevant legislative initiatives Senate Democrats have advanced since the start of the 111th Congress.

Senate Democrats have worked to provide historic funding increases to ensure first-rate care and services to our nation's veterans.

Senate Democrats led the passage of the Fiscal Year 2010 budget, putting in place a blueprint for record increases for veterans' health care and services. The Budget Resolution for Fiscal Year 2010 included a funding increase of more than 11 percent for veterans' programs above the Fiscal Year 2009 level. According to veterans' service organizations, the discretionary budget authority exceeded the recommendations they provided in their policy and budget plan for the year, known as the Independent Budget – for the first time in the 24-year history of the Independent Budget. The Budget Resolution also included a provision to end the previous Administration's ban on enrolling modest income, non-service connected (part of the so-called "Priority Group 8") veterans in the VA health care system, which, according to the VA, will effectively bring more than 500,000 additional veterans into the VA system by 2013. Additionally, it authorized advanced funding for the VA medical care program to ensure stable management of VA medical services from year to year.
Under Democratic leadership, the Senate passed the Fiscal Year 2010 funding legislation to implement this historic budget increase. In December, the Senate passed the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2010 (as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2010), which, in line with the Budget Resolution, provided for a record increase in funding this year – $2.5 billion above the Fiscal Year 2009 level – for critical veterans programs and services. The legislation included $53 billion in discretionary funding – the largest appropriation for veterans' programs in the VA's history – as well as $56.6 billion in mandatory funds. For the first time, the bill provided for advance appropriations ($48.3 billion) to fund VA medical programs for Fiscal Year 2011, a measure designed to ensure a stable and uninterrupted source of funding for medical care for veterans. The bill included other key priorities that:

· Expanded the Rural Health Initiative and the Rural Clinic Initiative, effectively improving access to medical care for veterans in underserved rural areas;
· Ensured the VA has the resources to meet the health care needs of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan ;
· Increased medical and prosthetic research in key areas, including mental health, traumatic brain injury (TBI), spinal cord injury, burn injury, polytrauma injuries, and sensory loss;
· Funded vital long term care programs for aging veterans as well as severely wounded combat veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan;
· Provided increased funding for health care and support services to assist homeless veterans, and established a new initiative to combat homelessness among our nation's veterans;
· Expanded access to VA health care to disabled veterans earning modest incomes;
· Addressed critical maintenance and repair needs as well as new construction priorities at VA hospitals and clinics; and
· Allowed the VA to hire 1,200 new claims processors to improve the timeliness of claims processing.
These increases build upon years of Democratic leadership that have ensured robust funding for the VA. Democrats have consistently worked to provide all veterans the health care and services they need and deserve. Throughout the previous Administration, Democrats in Congress fought against proposed fee increases for veterans' health care; pushed for bolstered investments in VA medical services; led the effort to enact a post-9/11 GI bill to provide enhanced educational benefits to today's veterans; and supported initiatives to expand services to rural veterans, better meet the needs of returning Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans, and increase housing assistance and other support services and benefits to veterans and their families. In 2007, the first year after Democratic leadership had been restored, Congress appropriated the biggest increase to veterans' programs in the history of the Department. Congress went even further the following year, providing a $4 billion dollar increase, or $2.8 billion above President Bush's budget, for the VA in Fiscal Year 2009.[3]
Democrats strongly support President Obama's Fiscal Year 2011 budget proposal. Senate Democrats have endorsed the President's proposal, which would provide for a 7.6 percent funding increase to support critical programs; expand VA services to veterans in need, including rural veterans; authorize advanced funding for the VA medical care program for Fiscal Year 2012; bolster efforts to end veterans' homelessness; invest in initiatives to build a 21st century VA; and provide enhanced education benefits under the new GI bill.
Democrats worked to secure passage of landmark legislation to improve the support services and the quality of care for veterans. Last month, the Senate unanimously passed the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2010, a bill that combines several legislative initiatives to extend benefits to the caregivers of injured veterans and to enhance vital veterans' health care services. The bill was signed into law by the President on May 5.

Support for the caregivers of wounded veterans. The legislation establishes a new, permanent program that will provide the caregivers of wounded warriors with training, counseling, mental health care and key support services. It also provides a living stipend and health care to the family caregivers of injured veterans under the Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs (CHAMPVA) program. This legislation is critical to alleviating the many hardships that have faced caregivers and recognizing their many sacrifices in caring for our nation's wounded veterans.

Breaking down barriers for veterans in rural America . The legislation breaks down many obstacles that make it difficult for veterans in rural area to receive the health care they have earned. Specifically, the bill provides reimbursement for travel to VA facilities, establishes grants for veterans service organizations transporting veterans from highly rural areas, and expands VA's telehealth program and its ability to collaborate with community organizations in rural areas.

Expanding health care service for women veterans. The legislation helps VA adapt to the needs of the growing number of women veterans. As provided for in the bill, qualifying women veterans can count on health care for their newborn children for one week. VA is also required to train its mental health providers in the treatment of military sexual trauma, provide readjustment services for women veterans, implement a pilot program to provide women veterans with child care, and report to Congress on a comprehensive assessment of the barriers in providing health care to women veterans.

Improvements in veterans care and services. The legislation also includes a number of provisions for enhancing veterans care, including measures that will enhance mental health care; remove barriers to care for catastrophically disabled veterans; strengthen the VA's workforce; and expand and improve services for homeless veterans.

Senate Democrats championed a bill to ensure timely and predictable funding for the veterans' health care system. The Veterans Health Care Budget Reform and Transparency Act, passed by the Senate in August, ensures that funding levels for veterans' health care will be determined one year in advance of the regular appropriations process. By reforming the current year-by-year funding process, the bill will put an end to funding delays for medical care programs for veterans and facilitate more effective budget planning at VA hospitals, allowing them to better meet veterans' needs. Additionally, it will ensure transparency in VA funding by requiring public reports and Government Accountability Office (GAO) audits on the VA's funding projections. In the words of President Obama, "For the VA, this means timely, sufficient and predictable funding from year to year. For VA hospitals and clinics, it means more time to budget, to recruit high-quality professionals, and to invest in new health care equipment. And most of all, for our veterans it will mean better access to the doctors and nurses and the medical care that they need: specialized care for our wounded warriors with post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injuries, and the staffing to welcome back to the VA those half-million 'Priority 8' vets." The President signed the bill into law on October 22, 2009.

Democrats led Senate passage of legislation to enhance benefits for veterans and their families. On October 7, 2009, the Senate unanimously adopted the Veterans' Benefits Enhancement Act of 2009, to provide expanded compensation, housing, employment, education, burial, and insurance benefits to veterans and their families. Specifically, the bill included provisions to strengthen life insurance and mortgage insurance programs for disabled veterans; remove the enrollment cap on the number of veterans allowed in VA's Independent Living Program; and ease the burden of proof on veterans seeking to establish that their disabilities are related to their service. Further, the legislation provided for retroactive payment to service members who suffered from traumatic injury while on active duty on or between October 7, 2001 and November 30, 2005 – a benefit that previously was available only to those service members who were injured while serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom or Operation Enduring Freedom during that time.

Democrats worked to provide $1.4 billion in reinvestment and recovery funding for VA hospital and medical facility construction and improvements. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 included $1.4 billion for the VA, with funding directed primarily for infrastructure repairs at existing Veterans Health Administration (VHA) hospitals and capital infrastructure needs at state VA long-term care facilities. Specifically, the bill provided: $1 billion for nonrecurring maintenance for VA medical facilities; $150 million in funding for grants and construction of state extended care facilities; $50 million for information technology systems for the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA); $150 million for VBA to decrease waiting times for claims surge processors; and $50 million for the National Cemetery Administration for monument and memorial repairs.
[8] In addition to creating jobs, these investments helped the VA address critical facility maintenance and upgrade needs, improving care for veterans across the country.
Under Democratic leadership, the Senate passed a bill to ensure the value of compensation for veterans and their survivors is protected from potential inflation. The Senate passed the Veterans' Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2009 to ensure that inflation does not erode veterans' benefits. The bill stipulated that, if the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates an increase in inflation based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI), the Secretary of VA would be required to increase veteran and survivor compensation by that rate. It also stated that if the CPI decreases, veteran and survivor compensation would remain at the previous year's rate. Effective December 1, 2009, the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) would be applicable to veterans' disability compensation, dependency and indemnity compensation for surviving spouses and children, and additional related benefits. The President signed the bill into law on June 30, 2009.

the los angeles timesborzou daragahialsumaria tv
the christian science monitor
jane arraf
the new york timessteven lee myers
monthly reviewjeremy kuzmarov

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A hump day

As we wrote yesterday, “most of the winners in today’s primaries are getting a ticket to nowhere – well, at least the Dimocrats.” These Dimocrats will lose for the same reason we wrote on May 11th, “Get the fork, get the shovel, call the undertaker, order the coffin, schedule the burial, get the foot tag – Arlen Specter’s dead, doornail dead. Diagnosis: Poison. Death by Obama.”
Yup, Barack Obama is Poison. Poison.
Obama is Poison and that is reflected in low Dimocratic voter turnout. In the district where Bill Clinton campaigned, turnout was up even contrary to the statewide turnout evn though the Sestak/Specter race generated a lot of “buzz”. But Bill Clinton can only help he cannot save a candidate that runs with Barack Obama. Indeed Dimocrats are still in a great deal of trouble in November:

It really is something, how a sitting president can't help his own party. Everytime Barry goes into campaign mode, his chosen loses. That's reality and it has happened too many times to pretend otherwise -- unless you are a member of the press.

He is poison. He is toxic. And I'm so very happy by indications that he will be leaving the White House in two years. He can be a name on a page in a book. He'll do far less damage that way.

I caught him on NPR tonight. The hourly report noted that he was entertaining Mexican president Felipe Calderon and that the two spoke about immigration. Then we heard Barack stating that he'd like to fix immigration but he didn't have 60 votes in the Senate.

I'm so damn sick of his excuses. I'm so damn sick of the Democrats excuses. "We need one house!" they swore in 2006. They get two. "We need the White House!" They get it in 2008. They always have some excuse for why they can't govern as a majority party or even an opposition party. And that's why I'm voting Green this election and urge others to do likewise.

Vanessa Williams is joining the cast of Desperate Housewives. That's probably the only good news for today.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Wednesday, May19, 2010. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, a big meet up takes place, a high ranking US senator declares OMB doesn't give a "s**t" about homeless veterans, and more.

Scott Brown is a junior US senator, just elected in January. Does he know that he stopped a very important conversation from taking place today? Does he know that the American people almost got some truth but he cut off the Veterans Affairs official? I have no idea. I don't know Brown. But I do know that the White House wants to put Social Security on the chopping block ("trims" is their codeword that no one in the press wants to report on but everyone in the DC press knows). Last week, US House Rep Susan Davis chaired a Subcommittee hearing of the House Armed Services Committee. I like Davis, she's a great Chair. But I ignored the hearing because I really didn't want to unpack all this. Today we have to. The White House wants to cut Social Security benefits (again "trim" is their word). To sell that, the current plan is to spin that "we" "all" "have to sacrifice." That means "all." And "all" means everyone not independently wealthy. (That's not sour grapes on my part. I'll be sitting pretty regardless of what happens.) That would include veterans. And, for a brief second, before Scott Brown cut the witness off, Americans almost learned what the White House might have in store.

Senator Scott Brown: I'm wondering if you could just tell me what benefits might be at risk at this point and time? Any specific issues that we need to focus on that we're missing or falling through the cracks? Thomas Pamperin: Benefits that are currently being delivered that might be taken away? Senator Scott Brown: Right. Things that we -- that you're saying, "You know what? We got to keep our eye on this."
Thomas Pamperin: Uh - uh, we'd be glad to - to give you a more extensive response in - in the future. Uh . . . My - my concern is that the nation clearly --

Senator Scott Brown: Can I interrupt just for a second?

He clearly could because he did and he then rephrased the question so that it was about benefits that are in place that aren't being worked in full. (
Wally is covering Brown's testimony at Rebecca's site tonight.)

What benefits, Brown asked, might be at risk. And Pamerin was clearly frustrated -- taking long pauses in responding (in the above excerpt), stumbling over his words and uh-uh-ing. "Benefits," he asked Brown, "that are currently being delivered that might be taken away?" And then continuing down that line, he started talking about a "concern" "that the nation clearly" when he was cut off.

The US "clearly" had what "concern" at present? That would be the economy, that would be the debt. Brown should not have cut off the witness, he should not have rephrased the question. DC talk is all about the cuts that the White House is dreaming of pushing through. And there was the VA's Thomas Pamperin stating -- before he was cut off -- what everyone's talking about on the social circuit in DC while they avoid reporting on it at their papers and on their broadcasts.

The Senate Veterans Affairs Committee is Chaired by Daniel Akaka and today's hearing was on pending legislation. Not on the lengthy list of pending legislation? The national list that Senator Evan Bayh presented to the Committee in October of last year. The first panel is our focus -- both for the Brown exchange and another. But we need to pick up one aspect of the second panel first. Vietnam Veterans of America's Richard Weidman was among those testifying on the second panel. In his opening testimony, he commented on each proposed piece of legislation. Senator Richard Burr is the Ranking Member on the Committee. On Burr's proposed Multifamily Transitional Housing Loan Program legislation, Weidman testified:

In regards to possible improvements in the multifamily transitional housing loan program, VVA favors signficant expansion of this program beyond five loans. We have been stuck at no more than five loans since this program was first enacted as a loan guaranty progrm in 1998. The animus of the permanent bureaucracy at the Office of Management and Budget to this program from the outset continues to be a classic study in the irrationality of a runaway and virtually unaccountable fourth branch of government. Initially the OMB opposition was because it was a loan guaranty program and therefore less subject to tight control by the OMB bureaucracy. Whether this move to change this from a loan guaranty program to a direct loan program is due to finally acceding to bureaucratic wishes, or simply a reflection fo a vry different reality in the private capital markets due to financial problmes of the last few years, we do not know. However, we do know that if this program is worth doing, and we believe it is, then after being in existence for more than a decade it must be expanded beyond something that can and is used for the benefit of only one or two private investors. This program in an expanded form is very much needed if we are to virtually eliminate, or at least to dramatically reduce, homelessness among veterans with the next five or six years.

His prepared remarks will be noted (ahead of time) in this exchange during the first panel.

Ranking Member Richard Burr: Mr. Jefferson, I'll show you the same love today OMB provided you to come to this hearing. [C.I. note: OMB did not clear the prepared remarks by the Dept of Labor's Raymond Jefferson in time for them to be included in the record. ] Mr. Pamperin, in your testimony, it indicated VA would be submitting a legislative proposal in the near future. Now I didn't see anything in your description of it relating to homelessness so let me turn to Dr. Jesse. Does the administration require legislative changes as part of its overall homelessness program?

Dr. Robert Jesse: Uhm, I don't think so at this point. Right now as you know homelessness is one of uhm -uhm Secretary Schinzeki's major initatives. It's his top initiative. Not just to reduce homelessness but to eliminate it. And there are, uh, significant forces being martialed towards that end -- both at very high levels within his office as well as in uh, uhm, the VHA to address homelessness not just from providing housing but trying to address the fundamental issues related to that.

Ranking Member Richard Burr: Were those the FY011, 012 advance funding requests anticipate or require changes in the law to release funding for homeless veterans programs?

Dr. Robert Jesse: Uhm -- from my perspective, I don't see that it does at this point but I don't think we should preclude asking for that.
Ranking Member Richard Burr: Can anybody tell me when the Committee would be wise to expect legislation to come from the VA?

Richard Hipolit: Uh, I was in touch with the Office of Management and Budget yesterday and they're assuring us they're going to clear our bill for submission.

Ranking Member Richard Burr: I hope they do better than they did with Mr. Jefferson's testimony today.

Richard Hipolit: Yeah, they're telling me they hope to clear it today in fact. So hopefully we'll be getting it up very shortly.

Ranking Member Richard Burr: Well Dr. Jesse, our second panel, Mr. Weidman, testifies, will testify in support of my bill but he had some criticism of the Office of Management and Budget -- arguing that OMB's permanent bureacracy has been opposed to the program from the onset. What's been your experience as it relates to the oversight of the program?

Dr. Robert Jesse: Uhm -- I apologize but I don't think I can really speak to that.

Ranking Member Richard Burr: Have you had an opportunity to look through the bill that I've introduced with Senator Akaka, with Senator [Roland] Burris, with Senator [Dick] Durbin?

Dr. Robert Jesse: Uh, we -- we -- we're -- we don't have comments cleared for - for that, sir.

Ranking Member Richard Burr: Well, I -- Do you have any personal comments that you'd like to make? Other than the comments of the Office of Management and Budget? Now let me say, I whole heartedly endorse the Secretary's committement to homelessness. Let me tell you, OMB doesn't give a s**t about homelessness. If they did, this problem would be solved. The Secretary is genuine and passionate about ending it. But if OMB is going to design the program, it's not going to get solved. I'm not soliciting an answer. I'm not asking a question. I'm making a statement that I hope all of you let it penetrate. If we're going to solve this problem, we can't wait for somebody down the street to come up with another bureaucratic solution to a problem that keeps veterans on the streets. We can go home and feel good about the fact that we put a shelter over their head. But if OMB is not willing to release the program to work where the wrap around services provide that veteran everything they need to end permanent homelessness, it isn't going to happen. So let's quit fooling ourselves. And you might say to the Secretary, he's the only one who can have a conversation with OMB. If OMB is the one that we need to pull up here and not VA, then for goodness sake, tell the Chairman and we'll start pulling OMB up. Mr. Pamperin, in a recent opinion, Posey v. Shinseki, a judge on the US Court of Appeals for Veterans [Judge Lawrence B. Hagel] provided this observation [concurring opinion] about what happens when an individual tries to appeal to the court but mistakenly sends his or her notice of appeal to a VA office: "It has become clear to me that VA somewhat routinely holds correspondence from claimants that it determines, sometime after receipt, are Notices of Appeal to this Court. As a result, in far too many cases, the Court receives the Notice of Appeal from VA only after the 120-day appeal period has expired, permitting the Secretary to then move to dismiss the appeals for lack of jurisidiction." First of all, can you give us an idea of how frequently a Notice of Appeal mistakenly is sent to the VA rather than the court?

Thomas Pamperin: Uh, no - no, sir. I - I am aware that it does happen periodically. But in terms of a hard number, I don't have such a number.

Ranking Member Richard Burr: What policies are in place for dealing with a Notice of Appeal that's mistakenly been sent to the VA?

Thomas Pamperin: The letter is sup -- is to be returned to the veteran and advised as to where he should file it.

Ranking Member Richard Burr: Has a written guidance been provided to VA staff on these policies and, if so, can the Committee have a copy of that written policy?

Thomas Pamperin: Uh -- Sir -- I don't know specifically that but if -- I will bring that back and we will provide you with the instructions that have been provided.

Ranking Member Richard Burr: Do you know if VA staff is following these policies?

Thomas Pamperin: [Long inhale] The VA routinely conducts site surveys of its regional offices. Each regional office, once every three years. And an assessment of the performance of the office in terms of compliance with instruction is included in that. I do not recall, in the last couple three years, a specific reference that that has been idenfitied as an issue.

Ranking Member Richard Burr: Last question, Mr. Chairman, do you think that more could be done to protect the appeal rights of veterans who mistakenly send their Notice to the VA instead of to the court?

Thomas Pamperin: Yes, sir. I think that there are legitimate uh occasions when the 120 day, hard and fast rule needs to be adjusted.

Ranking Member Richard Burr: Well given - given that you can't cite an instance lately, I'll be more than happy to supply you with some instances that you can look back at. I thank the Chair.

Again, Senator Daniel Akaka is the Chair of the Committee and his office notes:

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee Chairman Daniel K. Akaka (D-Hawaii) held a hearing today to review pending veterans' benefits and health care legislation. The Committee questioned witnesses and reviewed 20 bills in preparation for later legislative action.

"The bills before us represent a sincere effort to improve the care and benefits veterans receive. I will work with my colleagues on developing a package of legislation that can move forward," said Akaka.

The Committee heard from the Departments of Veterans Affairs (VA) and Labor (DOL), as well as representatives from leading veterans service organizations, on legislation to improve veteran employment, telehealth services, and VA outreach. Assistant Secretary for Veterans' Employment and Training Ray Jefferson described several veterans' employment initiatives currently underway at DOL. The Committee also reviewed four technical bills Akaka introduced to help veterans and their survivors, based on Committee oversight of the VA disability compensation system.
Chairman Akaka's full statement, as well as written testimony from today's witnesses, and a webcast, is available at To view the agenda, including a list of the bills reviewed today, please click here: LINK.

In addition, Chair Akaka's office notes:

The U.S. Senate passed legislation last night to clarify that VA health care programs can meet the minimum coverage standard required by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. This includes the health care VA provides to children with spina bifida born to veterans of the Vietnam War, to some veterans who served in Korea during specified times, and to children of women Vietnam veterans with certain birth defects. The bill passed the House of Representatives last week, and now awaits the President's consideration.

"This bill gives the Secretary of Veterans Affairs the authority to ensure that veterans' family members who receive health care from VA will meet the health insurance reform law's minimum health care coverage requirement," said Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee Chairman Daniel K. Akaka (D-Hawaii),
author of the Senate bill.

Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, individuals must hold a minimum level of health care coverage. The bill passed last night,
H.R. 5014, would provide the VA Secretary with the authority to designate VA health care programs as meeting the minimum standard.

The original clarification bill authored by Akaka, S. 3162, was
approved in the Senate on March 26. H.R. 5014 is the House companion to Akaka's bill.

Wally is covering Brown's testimony at Rebecca's site tonight. Also noting, Memorial Day (May 31st) will not have a snapshot unless the news of the day demands one. But there will be an entry re: veterans that a number of community members and visitors are helping with. Reminder on that, you need to weigh in (including responses) no later than May 27th to ensure that you're heard on that. Rural veterans (community members and visitors) are weighing in (and thank you for that) and if that remains where the bulk of responses are, that will be the focus of that Memorial Day entry.

August 19th Baghdad was slammed with car bombings and rocket attacks targeting various sections of the government -- Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education and Ministry of Housing. Today, Press TV reports, Nouri al-Maliki made a big-to-do out of reopening the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. David Gura (NPR) notes that it is "nine months to the day" of the attack. Little Nouri wants to continue as prime minister. Each day is another wave of talking points and spin from Little Nouri as he attempts to convince someone -- anyone! -- that he's brought safety to Iraq and can continue to do so. Hence the World Cup 'confessions' (we're ignoring that crap and the US military doesn't buy it either, FYI). Today Caroline Alexander and Nayla Razzouk (Bloomberg News) report Little Nouri's insisting that 2010 will be the year he ends inflitration of the security forces! Apparently the last four year-plus were just a dress rehearsal for Little Nouri but if he's allowed to continue as prime minister, he will absolutely, positively continue making loud statements . . . if not providing action. Iraq held Parliamentary elections March 7th. McClatchy Newspapers provides a primer on what took place and where things stand. From that, we'll note the following:Q: Have the major players changed since election day?A: Not much. The main blocs are still Allawi's Iraqiya, a mixed-sect ticket with broad Sunni support; Maliki's State of Law, mostly from his conservative Shiite Dawa Party; the Iraqi National Alliance, the main religious Shiite grouping of Iranian-backed parties, including politicians loyal to militant cleric Muqtada al Sadr. The two main Kurdish parties ran on a single ticket as the Kurdistan Alliance. An upstart Kurdish opposition party, Gorran, won some seats, as well.Q: One of the first snags was an attempt to disqualify some winning candidates by accusing them of ties to the late dictator Saddam Hussein's Baath Party. Did they lose their seats? A: There were several rounds of de-Baathification, the controversial process of rooting out former Baathists and barring them from public service. Former exile and Bush administration ally Ahmad Chalabi and his deputy Ali al Lami, who both ran in the elections, oversaw the purges. Hundreds of candidates were eliminated, but an Iraqi court Monday ruled in favor of nine victorious candidates whose cases were in dispute. Those candidates are expected to take their seats in the next parliament.

Ernesto Londono (Washington Post) quotes the US Assistant Sec of State Jeffrey D. Feltman stating, "Iraqi leaders now are spending a lot of time debating who gets to go first trying to form a government. I would argue it's more important to be talking about what the programs of the new government are going to be." Others would argue that who it is will determine what the programs are. Sami Moubayed (Asia Times)provides an overview of the process thus far and includes this on the coalition of Iraqi National Alliance and al-Maliki's State Of Law, "Both the INA and Maliki's team are Shi'ites, and both have a desire to create a mini-theocracy in Baghdad modeled after the government in Tehran. Both have scores to settle with the Sunni community for having produced Saddam Hussein, whom they fought for decades until his downfall in 2003. The new coalition is closely affiliated with Iran, which bankrolled their activities and offered them sanctuary during Saddam's three decades of power. United States ambassador Christopher Hill called the alliance a 'Shi'ite mega party'." What a proud contribution for Hill and -- like so much he's done in Baghdad -- 'snazzy' if the year were 1993. Jane Arraf (Christian Science Monitor) reports that "key political players, international diplomats, and government officials" met today and that the UN's Ad Melkert sees it as a hopeful sign for movement on Parliament. Arraf reports, "As waiters passed canapés around at a reception following the ceremony, much of the talk was over who would show up for a presidential lunch on Thursday aimed at bringing political leaders together. More than two months after the vote, Maliki and former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi -- leaders of two political blocs considered essential to a coalition government -- have still not met."

Turning to some of today's reported violence . . .


AFP reports Iskandiriyah car bombings claimed 6 lives with ten more left injured. Mazin Yahya (AP) says it was one car bombing and "The car was left in front of a restaurant where people had gathered to eat grilled meat." Reuters notes the bombing was in Mussayayb and puts the death toll at one, a Mosul roadside bombing which injured one Iraqi soldier and the wounded at thirteen and, dropping back to yesterday, they note that a Baghdad roadside bombing injured five people.


AFP reports 2 Iraqi soldiers were shot dead in Mosul. Reuters notes an armed clash in Basra.

Iraqi journalist Sardasht Osman was kidnapped from his college campus and murdered. His corpse was discovered
May 6th. Demonstrations have been held to protest the murder. Sam Dagher (New York Times) reports, "Now his death is underscoring the limits of free expression and igniting angry debate about what issues could cost journalists their lives. Many question whether true democracy can take hold in this corner of Iraq that has been spared much of the violence and instability that has plagued the rest of the country over the past seven years, allowing it to be considered a haven for business and investments." Wamith al-Kassab (MidEast Youth) writes:Sardasht Osman wrote over two years under the pseudonym Sardo Zardasht the Kurdish website, is well known for its satirical articles about the two ruling parties, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK ). Sardasht also wrote for Hawlati, a popular newspaper with its headquarters in Sulaimaniya, in the south of Kurdistan.He drew the attention of the situation of the poor people and Kurdish youth who cannot find jobs other in security forces through the rolling parties. He translated the anger of young Kurdish citizen in a sarcasm of his dream to marry Barazani's daughter.[. . .]I will not talk about human rights or freedom of speech, because many people like this young man died in Iraq and received death threats for saying words against holy men or political leaders. Both groups would not be in such power if not for America to come and get ride of Saddam so they can "enjoy" freedom of choice and expression. Both groups, the religious and politicians, were refugees and in exile and fighting Saddam for his tyranny and for preventing any man to speak against him or his policies and beliefs.Today it is funny to know they will kill you if you speak or make fun or express disapproval of them. Why the victim became a punisher? I do not know.The Committee to Protect Journalists notes an open letter to the KRG:As journalists who have covered Iraqi Kurdistan for many years, we are writing to express our concern over the apparent deterioration in the right of Kurdish journalists to report and comment freely and in particular about the recent murder of twenty-three-year-old journalist Zardasht Othman. The Kurdistan Regional Government condemned the killing and stated, "This is a heinous crime and a crime designed to undermine the security of the region and to attack the life and liberty of the people. The relevant security forces are closely investigating this case and are doing their utmost to bring the perpetrators to justice." We echo the condemnation of the Kurdistan Regional Government. However, given the credible allegations of security force involvement in Mr. Othman's kidnapping on 4 May and his brutal murder immediately afterwards, we respectfully request that an independent investigation be empowered. Mr. Othman, as you know, was handcuffed, tortured and shot dead, before his family were told to collect his body from the outskirts of Mosul. We further request a public commitment from the Kurdistan Regional Government to Articles V and VI of the Kurdish Press Law of 2008 calling for severe punishment of anyone, including the security forces, who attacks members of the press. The murder of Mr. Othman, a university student who had written critically of the leadership and published biting satires of a kind that are tolerated by leaders in other democracies, is only the latest in a series of assaults on independent journalism in Iraqi Kurdistan. Last year, Kurdish journalist Soran Mama Hama was murdered in front of his house in Kirkuk after he had written articles that offended government officials. On 20 April 2010, regional security forces attacked at least sixteen Kurdish journalists reporting student demonstrations in Suleimania. Some were beaten severely by police, and others had their cameras taken and their photographs destroyed. On 28 April, police interrogated the editor of the respected journal Hawlati, Kamal Rauf, for five hours after he published information on the absence of public services in a Kurdish village. Another editor, Fuad Sadiq, lost his job for criticizing Prime Minister Barham Salih. Hakim Qubadi Jali Zada, a Kurdish jurist and poet, was dismissed as a judge in Suleimania for writing an article in the newspaper Hawal that disparaged aspects of the judicial system. Despite these and other assaults on Kurdish journalists, no one has been apprehended or charged in a court of law. The effect of the government's inaction has been to intimidate Kurdish journalists, many of whom rightly fear for their lives. During the Kurdish struggle against the Iraqi dictatorship, when Kurds suffered savage repression and attempted genocide, the maxim was that the "Kurds had no friends but the mountains." The truth was that the Kurds had friends in the free press, many of whose members risked their lives to cover Iraqi government crimes against the people. Dana Adams Schmidt of the New York Times in 1963, Peter Sturken of ABC News in 1975, Gwynne Roberts after the massacre at Hallabja and many others raised the alarm to an outside world that would otherwise have been ignorant of the crimes committed against the Kurds. We were always grateful for the protection that the Pesh Merga afforded us on hazardous missions in northern Iraq. All of us who send you this letter have covered your country at great personal risk going back to the revolts against the Iraqi dictatorship by the father of the Kurdish national movement, Mulla Mustafa Barzani. Some of our colleagues, including Gad Gross and Kaveh Golestani, died to bring the news of the Kurds' suffering to the world. On many occasions, when you were in hiding in the mountains or in exile, both of you told us of your intention to end the abuses of freedom, including the suppression of the press, in your country. We who write to you today do so as friends rather than opponents, as correspondents who believed your words when you were seeking power and as journalists who respectfully remind you of your past commitment to your people's liberty. This liberty includes the right to expose corruption and, yes, to satirise national leaders. Kurdish journalism has an honorable tradition dating to the first Kurdish-language newspaper, Kurdistan, in Cairo in 1898. In solidarity with our Kurdish colleagues and as friends of the Kurds, we urge you not to imitate the oppressive policies of the regime your people struggled against for so long. Yours sincerely, Geraldine Brooks Gérard Chaliand Charles Glass Yves Harté Cécile Hennion David Hirst Jim Hoagland Marc Kravetz Chris Kutschera Quil Lawrence François-Xavier Lovat David McDowall Edward Mortimer Fabrice Moussus Jim Muir Jonathan Randal Hazhir Teimourian Martin Woollacott

Turning to the US where President Barack Obama plans to give a commencement address at West Point May 22nd.
Scott Horton discussed it with World Can't Wait's Debra Sweet on Antiwar Radio:Scott Horton: Well, you know, Ehren Watada said, "I will not lead men into battle to commit war crimes. I will not do it, put me in prison. I will not --" Well, he tried to stay out of prison, but he said I would rather go to prison and it wasn't just I don't want to commit War Crimes. It was, "Look, I'm an officer. I'm responsible for the men under me. How can I give them illegal orders to invade and murder people in their own country? I will not do it. And [yet] this is what Barack Obama's asking of these young officers graduating from West Point: To bring young men into battle and order them to commit atrocities.Debra Sweet: You're right. And we're going to be out at the gate with hundreds of people. Not thousands and not tens of thousands but hundreds who, I'm sure, are going to be giving a counter message to this. This is an immoral, unjust, it's an illegitimate occupation. It has to stop. And we are going to be reading the names of the civilians in Afghanistan killed and also the US military killed. We want their to be an accounting.Need more on that protest? This is from Debra Sweet's "Obama Readies Troops: Protest Needed Now!" (World Can't Wait):
Saturday, May 22: President Obama speaks at West Point. Anti-war Protest 10:00 am Memorial Park in Highland Falls, NY. Rally and march to the West Point Gate. Call 866 973 4463
Help publish
Crimes are Crimes - No Matter Who Does Them again, in another national publication.
Listen to former C.I.A. analyst Ray McGovern, advisor to War Criminals Watch, on the history of U.S. government assasination, and Obama's order to kill al-Awlaki.
ACLU Letter Urges President Obama To Reject
Targeted Killings Outside Conflict Zones
May 13, the New York Times front page:
U.S. Decision to Approve Killing of Cleric Causes Unease
This is exactly the moment are voices are needed! Please take a moment to
circulate this statement, and ask your friends to sign it!
Cindy Sheehan's Peace of the Action announces a Sizzlin' Summer Protest in Washington DC July 4-17. Join in!
4th of July in Lafayette Park (North Side of White House) at 1pm to pass out Peace Literature to the people who flock to DC for the Nation's Birthday.
The Wars Drone On and On Monday, July 5th -- Friday, July 9th
Hands off our Kids! Monday, July 12 to Friday, July 16

iraqthe new york timessam daghermideast youthwamith al-kassabthe committee to protect journalistsmcclatchy newspapersthe washington posternesto londonomcclatchy newspapersthe asia timessami moubayedbloomberg newscaroline alexandernayla razzoukantiwar radioscott hortondebra sweetthe world cant wait