Friday, November 23, 2012


Marcia's "Whitney and Happy Endings" went up yesterday.  "Whitney" airs on NBC Wednesday nights.

Marcia talked about Mark and wondered about my reaction?

I hate it.

The subplot of the episode was Mark opening a bar.  How's he going to run a bar and be a police officer?

He's not.  He's leaving the force.

One of the things I liked about Mark was his police work.  In Wednesday's episode he said he just liked the bar and speeding when it came to police work.  We know that's not true from last season.  For example, the episode last season when he and Whitney were going through the apartment of Roxanne's ex-husband. 

I felt like someone thought, "Uh-oh, don't know what to do with a police officer.  Let's make him a bar owner."  And I don't feel like it was handled well.

Like Marcia, I think Mark's best scene was with Lily.  She wants a lime slice for her drink and freaks out that he's going to lose everything.  She tells him about her own life, which is not going good, and though she feels awful, he feels great now.

It was the best scene Mark had in the whole episode and he needed more scenes like that.

My other problem?

I know that the actor who played Neal decided to go back to "30 Rock" (where they have only used him for one episode, what a dumb move).  But I'm getting tired -- and we're only on episode two -- of the jokes about Neal being gay.  That was not the cliffhanger last season. 

There were two more episodes.  Now it's even later, Neal's gone (no one explains why) and it's joke about Neal joke about Neal joke about Neal.

I don't want to imply that the show's not funny.  It was a hilarious episode.  But those were two things that really bothered me about the episode. 

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):

Friday, November 23, 2012.  Chaos and violence continues in Iraq, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani wades into the latest crisis, Iraq increases crude oil exports by 1.1%,  some in Iraq's special needs community participate in a hunger strike, Iraqi women face increased harassment from fundamentalists, David Lawly-Wakelin weighs in on protesting Tony Blair, and more.
Last week at Highgate Magistrates' Court, in answer to my interrupting Tony Blair whilst he was giving evidence at the Leveson Inquiry, I was found guilty of causing him 'harassment, alarm or distress', and ordered to pay a £100 fine plus £250 costs.
The Leveson Inquiry was set up specifically to look into the lies and deceit of others. Some might just scream double hypocrisy when one also considers the harassment, alarm or distress caused to the families of well over half a million lives lost as the John Hopkins Bloomberg school of public health estimated (654,965 up until 2006) let alone the harassment alarm or distress to those families still giving birth to deformed babies in Fallujah.
As a nation, just as with Hillsborough, we are being asked to turn a blind eye to what millions of us believe - that former prime minister Tony Blair, in a conspiracy with George W. Bush, deceived us into a corrupt and illegal Iraq war that took the lives of well over half a million people. Since he has left office it's been reported that he has accumulated well over £60million on the back of his lies.
Knowing that Iraq was crippled from 10 years of sanctions, George W. Bush and Tony Blair believed the war would be over in months. No one would then care or notice, five years later, the business deals that would follow.
Last Friday, Oliver Laughland and Emine Saner (Guardian) reported that Lawley-Wakelin was found guilty by the court and ordered to pay 250 British pounds in court costs and another 100 pounds as a fine.  They quote him stating, For me to have been found guilty of causing Tony Blair harassment, alarm or distress, for calling him a war criminal while he is giving evidence in an inquiry that is looking into the lies and deceits of others is the greatest hypocrisy I've heard in a very long time."  From the May 29th snapshot:
Samira Shackle (New Statesman) reported that while Tony Blair gave testimony a the Royal Courts of Justice, he was shouted down with a cry of, "This man should be arrested for War Crimes!"  Tom Chivers (Telegraph of London) identifies the truth-teller as David Lawley-Wakelin who made the documentary Alternative Iraq Enquiry. Sam Lister, Rosa Silverman and Brian Farmer (Independent of London) report that Lawley-Wakelin shouted, "This man should be arrested for War Crimes.  JP Morgan paid him off for the Iraq War.  Three months after he invaded Iraq they held upt he Iraq bank for 20 billion.  He was then paid six million dollars every year and still is from JP Morgan six month after he left office.  This man is a War Criminal!" As Connor Simpson's piece for The Atlantic noted, "Tony Blair Can't Escape the Iraq War."
Suzannah Hills (Daily Mail) reports that Lawley-Wakelin appeared on James O'Brien's LBC radio program today You go through the metal detectors, any member of the public can actually go in, and I tried to get in through the front entrance of the Leveson inquiry but was evicted as I don't have any press accreditation. But I figured out there must be a back way in as Lord Leveson himself must have one.  When I got there I was surprised to find out that there was no security at all and in fact the door to the court was wide open in the same way that Lord Leveson himself would have got in there."  The Telgraph of London quotes Leveson telling the inquiry today, "Yesterday morning a man by the name of David Lawley-Wakelin interrupted and disrupted the proceedings of this Inquiry for purposes of his own.  I directed that an inquiry should take place and it has now been completed.  Appropriate measures to prevent any risk of repetition have been taken."  Lawley-Wakelin appeared on Press TV (link is video and transcript) today and was asked if War Criminal Blair would ever appear before the Hague?
Lawley-Wakelin: You know, whether he ever gets to court that's another thing.  Taking on the American government, Bush and Blair and the British government it's just an enormous thing.  There are lots of websites where you can join petitions to get Blair indicated for war crimes and perhaps one day we can hope that he will be taken down to the Hague but it's a long road and we can only hope that it will happen.  There is plenty of evidence to point towards it.  The sad thing is that the Chilcot Inquiry [so named after its chairman Sir John Chilcot] over here in England which is known as the Iraq Inquiry won't be looking into any criminal activity, they'll only be making inquiry into what went wrong in the decision-making by the politicians and the government and putting guidelines towards that but they won't be looking at all the money that washed around at the time and that Blair is still making.
War Ciminal Tony Blair is not forgotten in England where the former prime minister remains at large and is wanted for citizens arrests as noted at Arrest Blair.  Blair, Bully Boy Bush, Gordon Brown and Barack Obama have all overseen the illegal war on Iraq.  They are all responsible for the state of Iraq today but it's apparently too gruesome for any of them to look straight-on.
So don't look at me sideways
Don't even look me straight on
And don't look at my hands in my pockets, baby,
I ain't done anything wrong
-- "Never Said Nothing," written by Liz Phair, first appears on Phair's Exile in Guyville
In Iraq, the political crisis on top of the political crisis continues.  And it dwarfs the original one.  Earlier this week,  Rami Ruhayem (BBC News) described the origins of the first political crisis this way:
Straight after the withdrawal of US troops at the end of last year, a warrant was issued for the arrest of Vice-President Tariq al-Hashemi, the most senior Sunni politician in Iraq.
He was accused of running death squads, tried in absentia, and sentenced to death.
And Mr [Nouri al-]Maliki has kept both the defence and interior ministries under his control, refusing to hand them over to his partners within the government.
That was alarming and had led to calls for a National Conference to resolve it -- calls by Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi.  But Nouri's created yet another crisis and it's so huge even some who normally stay out of the political process are wading in to try to resolve the issues.  Kitabat notes things are so fraught that Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani has had to weigh in to try to resolve the situation.  The Grand Ayatollah is calling for the Constitution to be followed with regards to the conflict.          All Iraq News notes that Sheikh Abdul Mahdi al-Karabalai has joined the Grand Ayatollah's call.
Along with the clergy, others are alarmed as well.  Hurriyet reports:
Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan warned about a sectarian and ethnic-based civil war in Iraq on Nov. 22 and pointed to energy wars as the main motivation behind it. The next day, Iraq's Shiite-origin Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, sent a strong "Not if you trigger it" reply to Erdoğan, only to be snubbed as "delusional" by the Turkish Foreign Ministry. Almost simultaneously, al-Maliki released a photo showing the deployment of Iraqi troops to Tuzhurmatu in order to face Kurds piling up along the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) borders, despite still being part of Iraq on paper.
It is surely about energy resources. There are still untapped oil and natural gas beds in the KRG territory, for which the energy giants of the world - from Exxon and Chevron of the United States to Total of
France and Gazprom of Russia (Turkish companies too) - have sealed deals with the KRG President Massoud Barzani in Arbil. Despite the strong protests of al-Maliki in Baghdad and disapproving lip service from Washington, D.C., they are not taking any steps back. Al-Maliki knows that if Kurds manage to sell their oil and gas via NATO member Turkey without interference from Arabs, Russians and Iranians, that would mean a de-facto change in Iraqi borders and sovereignty, if not de jure.
Nouri had his own response, he publicly stated that the conflict in Syria could take over Turkey, implying that the Turkish government should focus on that and not speak of Iraq.  UPI notes the response of the Turkish government, "Turkish officials labeled delusional statements by Iraqi [Prime Minister] Nouri al-Maliki warning sectarian violence in Syria could engulf Turkey.  Roy Gutman (McClatchy Newspapers) reports Nouri's response also hinted that Erdogan would soon be ousted in Turkey.  Nouri declared, "Erdogan should focus his attention on addressing Turkey's domestic issues, which raise our concern, as Turkey heads toward civil war.  [. . .]  Turkish people are looking forward to changing the political situation to protect Turkey from worsening domestic and foreign problems."

Read more here:
The crisis results from Nouri sending forces into the disputed areas after years of refusing to implement Article 140 of the Constitution (which states that disputed areas will be resolved via census and referendum).  The Kurds see this is as an attempt by Nouri to seize the areas and claim them for the Baghdad-based area.  Realizing too late that Barack Obama's for-show trip to Asia was a mistake, the White House is scrambling to get more face-to-face diplomats into Iraq.  (The trip was a joke and Barack made a fool of himself.  Americans didn't give a damn about the visit, his reception on the trip was lukewarm and Hillary Clinton seized all the news interest with her trip to the MidEast leaving Barack looking like a glorified extra on the world stage.)  Reuters adds:,  "Washington intervened to end a similar standoff in August and is now again in contact with Iraqi and Kurdish officials to ease tension mounting over the formation of a new command center for Iraqi forces to operate in the disputed areas."  Iran's Trend News Agency notes that Iraq's Col Dhia al-Wakeel is alleging that "Kurdish forces, backed by rocket launchers and artillery, reinforced troops already in the cities of Khaniqeen and Kirkuk on Thursday."

Iraqi politicians are attempting to resolve the issue as well.  Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi visited with KRG President Massoud Barzani Wednesday and returned to Bahgdad yesterday to meet with Nouri al-Maliki.  All Iraq News notes that they met late yesterday evening and that a statement issued by al-Nuajaif called the meeting productive.

Bit by bit, all of the political blocs are getting into the process.All Iraq News notes that the National Alliance leader Ibrahim al-Jaafari is preparing a paper on the issue.  Alsumaria notes that Kurdistan Alliance MP Mahmoud Othman is calling for Nouri al-Maliki and Massoud Barzani to sit down together (this echoes Moqtada al-Sadr's call for a working lunch between the two to be hosted by Moqtada).Kitabat reports that sources are stating Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and KRG President Massoud Barzani are discussing the option of withdrawing confidence from Nouri. Dar Addustour reports that Iraqiya leader Ayad Allawi traveled to Erbil yesterday to meet with Talabani and Barzani to discuss this issue.  All Iraq News says that Moqtada al-Sadr, leader of the Sadr bloc, has given the green light for such talks.  
Rebwar Karim Wali (Rudaw) offers his opinions on the political situation:
The Shia will stand by him, and the Sunnis will too since most of his officers are former Baathist Sunnis.
Then, he thinks, if everything goes according to plan, he will turn on the Kurdistan Region and what the Kurds have achieved so far. Maliki wants to show the Kurds that Kurdistan is part of Iraq, and he does not conceal this sentiment.
At this time, Kurds and their political groups have reached a unanimous conclusion that this is Maliki's intention. In the meantime, they have admitted that they lack a united voice.
However, when the Dijla Operations Command deployed, the leader of the Change Movement (Gorran) -- who had previously sided with keeping Maliki in his seat -- went to Kirkuk and vehemently rejected the actions of the forces.
Judging from the tone of its media, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) is waging a full war against Maliki. The party's secretary general, Jalal Talabani, concurs with President Barzani that Maliki is a threat to both Iraq and Kurdistan.
Territories defined as "disputed" through constitutional Article 140 include 43 percent of Kurdish land. According to international laws, when an area is considered disputed, no one side has the right to make decisions about it unilaterally. If the two sides do not trust each other, then a third force -- often an international one -- comes to mediate.

Yesterday,  Al Mada reported Nouri' had announced that KRG officials may not leave Iraq without the permission of the federal government (his permission).  Kitabat picks up the story about Nouri al-Maliki declaring that Kuridstan officials could not leave the country without the federal government/s permission -- that would be Nouri's permission.  It is intended to be an inflammatory insult.  It has no teeth.  Not unlike when Nouri was screeching that the KRG had to hand over Iraqi Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi and they didn't have to do that and they didn't do that.  They will continue to do as they want.  They share a border with Turkey which doesn't take orders from Nouri.  Hurriyet Daily News notes:

The Turkish Foreign Ministry issued a statement on its website today calling for the Iraqi government to "not make imaginary assumptions about the expectations of the Turkish public, but to listen to advice instead," according to daily Hurriyet. 
The statement was released Nov. 23 in response to a statement issued by the Iraqi Prime Ministry several days before that accused Turkey of "meddling with regional problems." 
In other news, the Telegram reports that Iraq's crude oil exports for October increased by 1.1%. According to the World Bank, Iraq's GDP for 2010 was $82.15 billion.  And yet even with increased crude oil output, Azzaman reports, "Iraq imports 70% of its needs from foreign countries, especially neighboring states, said the head of the Iraqi Chamber of Commerce Jaafar al-Hamadani."  That's the reality of Nouri's Iraq where demonstrations have not vanished. Al Mada reports that yesterday, for the third day in a row, special needs persons staged a strike outside the Kurdistan Parliament in Sulaimaniya.   They are staging a hunger strike, spokesperson Iara Mohammed explained, that the money allocated to those with special needs does not meet the most basic needs.  Azzaman notes, "The wars Iraq has gone through in the last three decades have produced a nation of disabled people -- six million out of a population of 30 millions."  Najaf alone has at least 120,000 people who are challenged or have special needs.  Meanwhile, a strike is threatened in Babylon.  Al Mada reports that teachers in Babylon are considering going on strike for, among other reasons, a lack of protection and accountability.  A school headmaster was killed and Wednesday saw demonstrations over it.  It is not felt that the death is being taken seriously or being investigated as needed.
In Iraq, Parliament's Human Rights Commission announced earlier this week that they will begin making prison inspections due to the increased reports of women being abused and treated poorly in prison, Al Mada reports.  The announcement led the Ministry of Justice to announce mid-week that they are responsible for prison interrogations.  And outside of prison?  Hanaa Edwar states, "Day after day, I am seeing more indicators that there is discrimination against women who choose not to wear hijab in Iraq."  Dina al-Shibeeb (Al Arabiya) speaks with Hanaa Edwar who founded the Iraqi Women's Network and is the General Secretary of Iraqi al-Amal Association:

Edwar, also founder of Iraqi Women's Network, sounded the alarm about attempts to force women to wear the hijab, especially in government offices.
Head of Iraq's Ministry of Women, Ibtihal Kasid al-Zubaidi, ordered in January that women working in government offices dress "modestly." Zubaidi axed tight pants, short skirts and colorful clothes.
Zubaidi, who segregated genders in her ministry, was lambasted as "anti-female" and her ministry described as an "anti-women ministry."
Edwar's Iraqi Women Network, made up of 18 civil society organizations, protested against Zubaidi's policy, describing it as seeking to curb women's civil liberties.
More women are approaching Edwar to file their complaints about government institutions and even TV channels belonging to religious political which enforce strict dress code and gender segregation.
Hanaa Edwar also decries the increase in temporary marriages in Iraq.  Kelly McEvers (NPR's  All Things Considered -- link is audio and text) reported on temporary marriages in October of 2010 with Robert Siegel observing in the introduction that the practice is popular in Iraq but had not been in Iraq where it was banned by Saddam Hussein.  After the US invaded Iraq in 2003, things changed.  Excerpt:
KELLY MCEVERS: This woman is so ashamed about what happened to her, she doesn't want to give her name. A mother of three, she says her husband abandoned her when she found out he preferred men. She had no way to support the family.

Unidentified Woman: (Foreign language spoken) 

MCEVERS: A religious figure in her neighborhood promised to help. He brought her to his home, locked the door and had sex with her. He offered her $15.
For the man at least, it was a brief moment of muta'a, the Arabic word for pleasure and the Arabic word for temporary marriage.

Unidentified Woman: (Foreign language spoken)

MCEVERS: The woman says the man who had sex with her worked with leading Shiite religious clerics in the Iraqi City of Najaf. It's one of the most revered places in Shiite Islam.
We're standing on a main street in the Holy City of Najaf. Just down some of these smaller streets are the offices of the Marjah. That's the four top clergymen for the Shiite community in all of Iraq.
Al Mada notes that Parliament's Integrity Commission disputes their ranking by Transparency International on the corruption index.  Today is the International Day to End Impunity.  Transparency International explains:

Friday, 23 November marks the International Day to End Impunity. At Transparency International we view impunity as getting away with bending the law, beating the system or escaping punishment. Impunity is anathema to the fight against corruption.
Earlier this month, activists, businesspeople, politicians, public officials, journalists, academics, youth and citizens who convened at the 15th International Anti-Corruption Conference in Brazil made it clear that transparency alone is not enough but must be accompanied by prosecution and punishment.
In a joint declaration, the gathering of 1,900 representatives from 140 countries called on political, business and community leaders everywhere "to embrace not only transparency in public life but a culture of transparency leading to a participatory society in which leaders are accountable."
"We are watching those who act with impunity and we will not let them get away with it," said the declaration, adopted in Brasília on 10 November.
The International Day to End Impunity is organized by IFEX, a global network that defends and promotes free expression. Events in more than 14 countries raise public awareness about what creates and sustains a culture of impunity. Transparency International supports the goals of protecting journalists and others engaged in the vitally important work of exposing corruption.
Dictionary definition of impunity im·pu·ni·ty  [im-pyoo-ni-tee]
1. exemption from punishment.
2. immunity from detrimental effects, as of an action.
Many of Transparency International's some 100 national chapters are involved in initiatives that work toward ending impunity for corruption in their country, including helping in the detection of corruption, facilitating access to the judiciary, strengthening the judiciary's independence and capacity, or by analysing and monitoring how corruption cases are being judged.
TI's Advocacy and Legal Advice Centres (ALACs) offer the opportunity for citizens to pursue complaints about corruption. ALACs also play an instrumental role in identifying corruption hotspots that demand reform or official action. These centres are already functioning in more than 50 countries.
Our Rwandan ALAC pursued a case of land grabbing involving a mining cooperative president who sought to renew the mine's certificate under his name. With the help of the ALAC, an investigation was launched with the Public Prosecutor Authority; after being taken to court the cooperative president's was sentenced to 10 years in jail and fined nearly US$3,500.
Many TI chapters have conducted election monitoring, including in Serbia, Bahrain and the Dominican Republic. In Venezuela, our chapter is part of an initiative, Alerta Electoral, which monitors electoral irregularities including potential misuse of taxpayer money by political candidates.
Several TI chapters are also working to improve whistleblower protections by advocating for strong legislation and assisting whistleblowers. These include chapters in Hungary, Lebanon and Zambia.
Our chapter in Ireland has established "Speak Up", a free, secure helpline and online system for employees considering reporting wrongdoing. The Ireland chapter is also campaigning for the passage of a national whistleblower law that would cover all employees.
The need to fight impunity was also stressed at the closing session of the 15th International Anti-Corruption Conference, which called for the promotion of a culture of transparency leading to a participatory society in which leaders are held accountable.
Transparency International believes that 'impunity undermines integrity everywhere' and is proud to participate on 23 November along with citizens who are fighting to end impunity for corruption and other crimes.

Press contact(s):

Chris Sanders
Manager, Media and Public Relations
+49 30 3438 20 666

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Junior's disgrace

Hillary is 44 did not post again today.  It has not posted since November 15th.  Before November 15th it had also gone over six days without posting.  This is a website we can depend upon?

When it does work, it is a good website.  But I'm not in the mood for one post a week.  There is so much going on and if they're not up to covering it then they should just say so.

Jesse Jackson Junior is no longer in Congress.  Cry baby resigned today.

US House Rep. Bobby Rush is trying to mitigate the embarrassment for Junior.  Step away from the freak show, Bobby.  You're one of the few politicians I still have respect for, don't blow on loser Junior.

No one whored for Barry quite like Junior in 2008.  He savaged Hillary Clinton with lies.  Then he became so desperate to nuzzle at Barack's crotch that he attacked his own father, Rev. Jesse Jackson.  The father was caught on an open mike talking about how ball-less Barry was.

And Junior just couldn't stop attacking his own father.  Basically disowning him.  It was like "Imitation of Life" come to life.  Thanks to his father, Junior went to good schools and had a shot at a political career.  But he turned on his own father, he savaged his own father, to be Barack's Little Whore.  And now?

And now the chickens came home to roost for Junior.

I knew he was married but I always figured him for a down-low type. 

But we learn today he had an affair in 2010.  With a woman.  That's the shocker.

He wants the world to know "health reasons" are forcing his resignation.

Junior's a liar.  New reports:

Shortly after Obama won the White House in 2008, Jackson lobbied Blagojevich about being appointed to the vacant Senate seat. Jackson reportedly directed Raghuveer Nayak -- an Illinois businessman -- to tell Blagojevich that he would raise $6 million for the governor's reelection campaign in return for the Senate appointment, according to a report by the Office of Congressional Ethics. Jackson denied the allegation.
Nayak was indicted June 20 by the Justice Department on a variety of federal tax and fraud charges, shortly after Jackson disappeared from Capitol Hill.
Nayak also paid for two round-trip airline tickets for a "social acquaintance" of Jackson's, a Washington restaurant hostess, to fly to Chicago. In September 2010, Jackson issued a public apology for his interaction with Giovana Huidobro but never explicitly admitted to an extramarital affair.
Jackson's defense team released a statement on Wednesday saying that he is "cooperating" with federal investigators, but noted it may take "several months" to work out a potential resolution of the case against him.

Prison would do Junior well.  He's always concerned about his weight.  This way he could hit the weights every day.  Prison would do Junior well.  Maybe his wife could be in adjoining cell?

Stephanie Condon (CBS News) reports, "The investigation into misused campaign funds has now expanded to include Jackson's wife, Chicago Alderman Sandi Jackson, according to reports. Investigators are scrutinizing whether Mrs. Jackson was aware of or complicit in her husband's alleged misuse of campaign money. Investigators have not yet indicated whether they plan to charge Sandi Jackson."  If she did misuse money, it makes sense.  I can't imagine any woman being married to Junior for love. 

And get this, they're saying the special-election for Junior's seat will leave Chicago with a bill of over five million dollars.

They should bill Junior for the costs.  I'm not joking.  He knew about the investigation before he ran for re-election.  He should be stuck with the bill not the people of Chicago.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):

Wednesday, November 21, 2012.  Chaos and violence continue, Thanksgiving looms in the US, Osama al-Nujaifi attempts to ease tensions between Baghdad and Erbil, Nouri's power grab continues, and more.
In the United States, Thanksgiving will be celebrated tomorrow. Today, the White House offers some Thanksgiving history:
Did you know that before the 1940s Thanksgiving was not on a fixed date but was whenever the President proclaimed it to be?
George Washington issued the first Presidential proclamation for the holiday in 1789. That year he designated Thursday, November 26 as a national day of "public thanksgiving." The United States then celebrated its first Thanksgiving under its new Constitution. Seventy-four years later, in 1863, Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a national holiday on the last Thursday in November
By the beginning of Franklin D. Roosevelt's Presidency, Thanksgiving was not a fixed holiday; it was up to the President to issue a Thanksgiving Proclamation to announce what date the holiday would fall on. Tradition had dictated that the holiday be celebrated on the last Thursday of the month, however, this tradition became increasingly difficult to continue during the challenging times of the Great Depression. 
Roosevelt's first Thanksgiving in office fell on November 30, the last day of the month, because November had five Thursdays that year. This meant that there were only about 20 shopping days until Christmas and statistics showed that most people waited until after Thanksgiving to begin their holiday shopping. Business leaders feared they would lose the much-needed revenue an extra week of shopping would afford them. They asked President Roosevelt to move the holiday up from the 30th to the 23rd. He chose to keep the Thanksgiving holiday on the last Thursday of the month, however, as it had been for nearly three-quarters of a century.
In 1939, with the country still reeling from the effects of the Great Depression, Thanksgiving once again threatened to fall on the last day of November. This time President Roosevelt did move Thanksgiving up a week to the 23rd. Changing the date seemed harmless enough, but it proved to be quite controversial. Small business owners felt it put them at a disadvantage and they sent letters of protest to the President. 
While Thanksgiving is tomorrow,  US Vice President Joe Biden celebrated early. CBS News reported Monday, "The Bidens hosted wounded warriors for Thanksgiving dinner. It was their fourth Early Thanksgiving for servicemen and women and their families. At the dinner were five from the Army, four from the Marines and one from the Air Force."   On Thanksgiving, the American Legion notes:
Two thousand veterans across America are $60 richer for Thanksgiving, thanks to checks sent to them by The American Legion to pay for food during the holiday. The checks went to veterans who have disabilities suffered while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. Included with each check was a letter from the Coalition to Salute America's Heroes, the Connecticut-based organization that donated the money, thanking veterans for their "enormous personal sacrifices."
Verna Jones, director of the Legion's Veterans Affairs & Rehabilitation Division, said that $60 can make a big difference for a veteran's family on Thanksgiving Day – especially if that veteran is out of work. "Given the high jobless rate among our younger veterans and the state of our economy, these checks do a lot for veterans and their families," she said. "Over the years that we've been distributing these checks, you'd be surprised by the thank-yous that we get back. Veterans call us and say, 'You know what? I would not have had a Thanksgiving meal for my family – I didn't know how I was going to put food on the table for my children – and this check came, and I was able to give my family a good Thanksgiving.' And they have food left over to carry through the rest of the week."
The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) estimates the average cost this year for a 10-serving Thanksgiving dinner is $49.48. AFBF says that amount of money can provide a 16-pound turkey, 12 rolls, a 1-pound relish tray of carrots and celery, a half-pint of whipping cream, 14 ounces of cubed stuffing, three pounds of sweet potatoes, one gallon of whole milk, 12 ounces of fresh cranberries, one pound of green peas, 30 ounces of pumpkin pie mix and two pie shells.
Turkeys cost slightly more this year, according to the AFBF. In 2011, a 16 pounder went for an average price of $21.57; this year it has increased to $22.23.
The American Legion's national headquarters contacted its department service officers across the country, asking them to submit contact information for wounded or disabled veterans who served in Iraq or Afghanistan. Then the Legion started mailing out checks last week.
Jones said many disabled veterans can't work or are working part-time, and sometimes are still waiting for disability benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs. "So a $60 check showing up in your mailbox that makes it possible to treat your family at Thanksgiving – it makes it seem more like Christmas," she said.
The jobless rate for veterans who have left active duty since 9/11 stands at 10 percent, higher than the national average of 7.9 percent. Women veterans are even worse off, with an unemployment rate of 15.5 percent.
The letter that accompanied the checks thanked veterans for their "enormous personal sacrifices" and said the $60 was being presented by the coalition and The American Legion "to help you celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday by sharing a special meal with those closest to you." A "Thank You and Get Well" card was also enclosed.
"On behalf of our organization and the Legion," the letter continued, "please accept this gift and card as a combined gesture of gratitude, along with our best wishes for a wonderful holiday and continued success along your personal road to recovery."
The American Legion has chapter throughout the country.  Many will be hosting Thanksgiving dinners tomorrow for veterans and many of those dinners will be at no charge. If you are a veteran and don't know where your closest American Legion chapter is located, you can visit the American Legion website and in the top right-hand corner there is a gold box labeled "FIND IT QUICK" -- in the box click on "Find a Post" and a pop up will allow you to enter the address you are at and search for the closest chapter.
The things that I have done that I regret
The things I seen, I won't forget
For this life and so many more
And I'm trying to find my way home
Child inside me is long dead and gone
Somewhere between lost and alone
Trying to find my way home
-- "Trying To Find My Way Home," written by Jason Moon, from Moon's latest album Trying To Find My Way Home
Jason Moon is an Iraq War veteran and has released the album Trying to Find My Way Home (which you can download from Amazon for $8.99).  Britta Reque-Dragicevic profiles Jason for American Songwriter.  Excerpt:
It wasn't until after being misdiagnosed with major depression and insomnia, after telling a VA mental health worker what he'd seen in combat only to be told to "just forget about it," after a failed suicide attempt, that music resurfaced and quite literally saved his life. Today, Jason Moon works with veterans of all wars to put the emotions of combat and the hidden terror of dealing with it alone into song. WarriorSongs is a non-profit that matches veterans with songwriters and together, a song becomes the saving grace that embodies what veterans so often cannot find the words to say. How war impacts the human soul. How combat affects the mind. How life after war is never a matter of "just getting on with it."
And how there is hope. For healing, for managing symptoms, for making something meaningful out of something that took all meaning away.
"It was an incredibly dark time," recalls Moon. "The VA system wasn't prepared for PTSD when my unit got home. No one even mentioned it to me. So all that time I thought I was weak, that there was something wrong with me, that I was the only one this was happening to. I mean, they tried me on nine different anti-depressants and several different sleeping pills -- but when the cause of your symptoms is not depression or insomnia, those pills do weird things to you. I started drinking, I'd go out looking for a fight, I was hypervigilant, couldn't work, couldn't do anything. After four years of this, I took all the pills I had and some alcohol. I was done."
But life wasn't done with Moon yet. "I woke up three days later in the hospital. The VA finally decided I had PTSD -- but only thanks to a music therapist who happened to have a pamphlet on it and gave it to me. It laid out every symptom I'd had for the last four years. It meant I wasn't weak or alone. There was a name for this and a reason I was feeling the way I was," Moon says. It took a suicide attempt to get the attention he should have had from the day he arrived home. "All of a sudden, I had the top professional at the VA attending to me, they got my medication figured out, I was able to get three to four hours of medicated sleep. I took every program they offered from biofeedback to meditation, to breathing exercises."
But his big "aha" moment came at a Soldier's Heart retreat -- where they take groups of vets and lead them through a healing process based on the ancient traditions of warriors. "I had Vietnam vets coming up to me, one after another and telling me: 'hey, I lost my marriage, my kids, I've lost it all, don't wait 30 years to deal with your war.' I realized if it could happen to these hard-core veterans, it could happen to me. I knew I had to fight to win this battle."
And for those who are fortunate enough to be able to spare some money and are looking for a worthy cause, this is the donation page for Paralyzed Veterans of America.  (That is not a guilt trip. Times are tough, most people are struggling, the economy remains in the toilet. I'm not suggesting anyone do without or suffer to make a donation.  I'm merely tossing that out as a worthy organization if, this time of year, you're looking for one to make a donation to.)  We'll note another organization worthy of donations at the end of the snapshot.
In Iraq, the rains have been falling with significant consequences.  Tuesday, All Iraq News reported that the rest of the week would be rainy and foggy.  And Iraq had already seen heavy rain fall.  Sadr City was one of the areas effected.   Joseph Muhammadwi and Mahmoud Raouf (Al Mada) reported on the flooding of Sadr City and included a photo of the water up to the frame of a mini-van. Despite the flooding and continuing heavy rains, traffic police stand outside directing vehicles. One resident jokes that Nouri can replace the food-ration cards with free small boats.  The water's flooded the streets and also gone into homes and schools and a makeshift bridge of bricks has been constructed to allow access to one school.  Dar Addustour noted that many of the cities, such as Kut, have been hit with the heavy rains.  Baghdad residents protested the lack of public services -- proper sanitation (i.e. drainage) would alleviate a great deal of the standing water. Nouri's had six years to address Baghdad's sewer system and done nothing.  AFP reports today the heavy rains in Kut led to houses collapsing resulting in the death of six children and leaving one adult male injured.
Dropping back to yesterday's snapshot:
Amani Aziz (Al Mada) reports that Moqtada al-Sadr's bloc is ready to oust Nouri al-Maliki over the arms deal which has led to confessions from State of Law that there was huge corruption in the Russian arms deal. MP Jawad al-Hasnawi states it is a logical step to remove him after Nouri signed the deal while refusing to provide details including who were the go-betweens.  This was the deal -- that's now supposedly broken -- that found Nouri signing a contract worth $4.2 billion.  Alsumaria reports the Kudistan Alliance today announced that an investigative committee was being formed in Parliament to review the Russian arms deal.  Omar Sattar (Al-Ayyam via Al-Monitor) adds, "The Iraqi parliament's Security and Defense Committee collected the names of more than 50 MPs demanding the formation of a committee to investigate the caneled Russian arms deal.  The committee has confirmed its intention to interrogate all the officials whose names were linked to this case."   Dar Addustour reported yesterday on Nouri's plan to isolate Jalal and that Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi, Iraqiya leader Ayad Allawi and KRG President Massoud Barzani are in conversations with people assuming it is over withdrawing confidence in Nouri.
As rumors continue to circulate about the corruption involved in the arms deal, All Iraq News reports Nouri's spokesperson Ali al-Dabbagh felt the need today to publicly deny that he had any involvement in the deal.  Alsumaria adds that al-Dabbagh declared he warned Nouri about suspicions before Nouri left on the trip to Russia.
Nouri's problems never go away.  Al Mada reports that in the Kurdistan Regional Government, the KRG is able to meet 85% of the electricity needs in the region but in the rest of Iraq that Nouri's responsible for?  Nouri's still not even able to meet 50% of the electricity needs.
That would be bad news any day but espeically today when Parliament was supposed to hold a session.  But first, they delayed the start for two hours because they didn't have enough present to meet a quorum.  That didn't work.  They still didn't have enough so Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi sent everyone homeThey were supposed to hear from the Minister of Electricity and the Minister of Oil about the progress and projects being worked on and MP Susan Saad expected them to address the crisis related to new electricity stations.  When Nouri's not even able to ensure that Iraq meets 50% of its electricity needs, hearing testimony from the Minister of Energy and the Minister of Oil was probably needed. 
Security's needed in Iraq as well.  Alsumaria reports that 1 Sahwa and one assailant were killed in a Baghdad clash, a Bahgdad home invasion claimed the life of 1 council member and 2 of his sons, a Mosul kidnapping resulted in the abduction of a Ministry of the Interior employee and a Kirkuk roadside bombing left a husband and wife injured.
Tensions continue in Iraq and threaten to roll the region over Nouri's decision to send forces into Iraq's disputed areas. That should come as no real surprise.  Dropping back to the July 26, 2011 snapshot:
Of greater interest to us (and something's no one's reported on) is the RAND Corporation's  report entitled "Managing Arab-Kurd Tensions in Northern Iraq After the Withdrawal of U.S. Troops."  The 22-page report, authored by Larry Hanauer, Jeffrey Martini and Omar al-Shahery, markets "CBMs" -- "confidence-building measures" -- while arguing this is the answer.  If it strikes you as dangerously simplistic and requiring the the Kurdish region exist in a vacuum where nothing else happens, you may have read the already read the report.  CBMs may strike some as what the US military was engaged in after the Iraqi forces from the central government and the Kurdish peshmerga were constantly at one another's throats and the US military entered into a patrol program with the two where they acted as buffer or marriage counselor.  (And the report admits CBMs are based on that.)  Sunday Prashant Rao (AFP) reported US Col Michael Bowers has announced that, on August 1st, the US military will no longer be patrolling in northern Iraq with the Kurdish forces and forces controlled by Baghdad. That took years.  And had outside actors.  The authors acknowledge:
Continuing to contain Arab-Kurd tensions will require a neutral third-party arbitrator that can facilitate local CMBs, push for national-level negotiations, and prevent armed conflict between Iraqi and Kurdish troops.  While U.S. civilian entities could help implement CMBs and mediate political talks, the continued presence of U.S. military forces within the disputed internal boundaries would be the most effective way to prevent violent conflict between Arabs and Kurds.
There is no neutral third party present today.  The study came out in 2011.  Where was the White House?   Diaa Hadid (AP) explains, "The commander of Kurdish forces dispatched fighters to a disputed northern area of Iraq Wednesday, as tensions mounted between Iraq's central government and the Kurdish-ruled autonomous region."  Alsumaria quotes the Ministry of Peshmerga's Anwar Haji Osman stating that the Peshmerga remain prepared to act if needed. 
  AFP quotes Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan stating, "The [Baghdad] regime wants to lead this [country] into a civil war."  He's referring to the crisis Nouri's provoked by sending his forces (Tigris Operation Command) into disputed territories in the north. Trend News Agency sums up the comment and notes a skirmisk outside Tikrit that appears to be last Friday's -- but that claimed 1 or 2 lives depending upon the outlet (1 of Nouri's forces and some outlets also noted a civilian) whereas Trend News Agency is saying "12 Iraqi soldiers and one civilian" died in the skirmish.  Unless the wounded died -- which the Iraqi press hasn't covered, if the outlet's covering Friday's incident, their fatality numbers are incorrect.  Liz Sly (Washington Post) offers a different take on who was involved with the fight on Friday -- it involves unpaid for gasoline, the Iraqi police, the Tigris forces and Kurdish guards with, in the words of Tuk Hurmatu's Mayor Shalal Abdul, "everyone started shooting at everyone else."  Sly also establishes just how up-in-the-air and tense things are:
But Kurds said they suspect that the reinforcements, which include tanks and heavy artillery, signal an intent to attack their forces. "If the central government keeps sending these extra troops, we fear there may be clashes," said Jabar Yawar, the pesh merga's secretary general. "If one bullet is fired, the whole of the disputed areas will erupt in flames."
Jason Ditz ( observes, "The fight goes well beyond just Kirkuk, however. KRG officials have been predicting a fight for years, and earlier this month Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki demanded the KRG transfer the Peshmerga to his personal control. With Maliki also the nation's Defense Minister, Interior Minister, Public Security Minister, etc, he currently directly every single force in Iraq except for the Peshmerga."

Remember when, at the start of 2011, Iraqiya said Nouri was staging a power-grab by refusing to nominate people to head the Ministry of the Defense, the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of National Security?  And remember how the Western press scoffed, rolled their eyes and swore Nouri would nominate people to those posts in a matter of weeks?

Weeks?  Weeks turned into months and now we're approximately six weeks away from the two year mark when they were promising Nouri would fill those spots.  And he never has.  That was a power grab.

It's a power grab today on Nouri's part -- sending troops into disputed territories.  Condi Rice pens a piece that tells you all you need to know about US policy in one sentence: "If Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki cannot count on the Americans, he will take no risks with Tehran."  Condi is the former Secretary of State and National Security Advisor during the Bully Boy Bush years.  Bully Boy Bush installed Nouri as prime minister.  Ibrahim al-Jafaari was the choice of the Iraqi Parliament (which -- on paper -- elects their prime minister).  Bully Boy Bush said no and wanted Nouri to get the job.  The US puppet went on to run secret prisons -- bravely and repeatedly exposed by Ned Parker and the Los Angeles Times -- and do other crimes against humanity.

But Barack Obama loves Nouri al-Maliki.  So much so that when Nouri's State of Law came in second in the 2010 elections and this meant that he didn't get a second term, Barack pulled out his penis and pissed on the Iraqi people, pissed on their votes, pissed on their Constitution and pissed on any thoughts of democracy.  Nouri would get a second term, Barack would ensure it, votes be damned.  So the White House backed Nouri as he refused to budge, refused to give up the post he no longer had.  For eight long months this political stalemate continued in Iraq.  Then the US government negotiated the Erbil Agreement, a contract that they swore was legal and that the US government would stand by.  The parties signing the contract?  All of the leaders of the political blocs.  Kurds wanted Article 140 of the Constitution implemented?  Okay, you let Nouri have his second term, he'll implement that.  That's how they got people to sign off.  What was Nouri willing to trade to have a second term?

Nouri used that contract to get the second term and then refused to honor it.

And Barack did nothing.  Gone were the promises of the US government standing by this contract.

Why?  Because, as Condi puts it, "If Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki cannot count on the Americans, he will take no risks with Tehran."

The White House has put the interests of Iraqis behind -- far behind -- the desires of Nouri al-Maliki and they have done so repeatedly and done so because they doubt there would be a better puppet for the US government.    So they look the other way as he demonizes Iraqi youths -- starts a witch hunt on Emo and LGBTs.  That came from the Ministry of the Interior -- they sent out a letter, they went to schools encouraging the targeting, this was all Nouri.  He's refused to nominate anyone to head the Ministry of the Interior which makes him the head of it.  Add that to the secret prisons.  Add that to his possible involvement in murder (the former governor of Basra, journalists including Hadi al-Mahdi).  But it doesn't matter to the White House.  Like Condi Rice, they believe, "If Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki cannot count on the Americans, he will take no risks with Tehran."  So they indulge the petty tyrant.  And dishonor the Iraqi people.
Hints by al-Maliki and his supporters in parliament that they will seek a majority government have become more frequent, even as news reports say that the president of the Kurdistan region, Masoud Barzani, has been leading a movement alongside Allawi and others to thwart al-Maliki's efforts to create such a government. Al-Maliki has also been quick to respond to his political opponents' threats to oppose his running for a third four-year term in 2014. Discussion of a majority government emerged earlier in the year from within al-Maliki's camp, as a response to threats of a motion of no confidence issued by his opponents in parliament, specifically members in Allawi's coalition and the parliamentary faction supporting Barzani.
There are three likely scenarios that could play out as a push for a majority government grows, beyond the maintenance of the status quo. The first, as some of al-Maliki's supporters have speculated, would be that some members of the Iraqiya and Kurdish parliamentary coalition join elements of the Shiite coalition to form a majority government that maintains at least a minimum level of sectarian and ethnic representation. However, the viability of this scenario is uncertain, at least in the current parliamentary session, and it is even less likely given the lack of international and American support.
The second scenario would be the resurrection of the 2005 Shia-Kurdish coalition which would keep Iraqiya out of the government and maintain the historical Shiite-Kurdish alliance. If this were to occur, it would completely exclude the bloc that represents the Arab Sunni population from the government and could possibly lead to the return of armed Sunni rebellion -- something al-Maliki's ally, former Prime Minister Ibrahim Jafari, has warned of.
The third scenario would be the revival of the "Erbil Alliance" between the Kurds, Sunnis, and the Sadrist bloc. However, this possibility already failed earlier in the year and does not currently have much resonance among politicians or the media, due to the prevailing mistrust between the three parties in this alliance.
In this climate, Nouri's moves are especially striking.  Ipek Yezdani (Hurriyet Daily News) speaks with the KRG's Dr. Molla Basher al-Hadad and Yezdani notes, "Authorities in Baghdad want to run the country like a dictatorship that recalls Saddam Hussein's rule by using anti-democratic and sectarian policies, according to the Kurdistan Regional Government's (KRG) top cleric."  That's a description that certainly seem apt.

Yesterday, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani was in Erbil where he met with KRG President Massoud Barzani.  Al Mada reports that they were also meeting with the National Alliance.  That is a large Shi'ite political group headed by Ibrahim al-Jafaari.  Al Mada notes Talabani was surprised that Nouri was sending in the Tigris forces while he and Barzani were awaiting a delegation from the National Alliance.

In March 2010, Iraq held parliamentary elections.  The winner was Iraiqya, headed by Ayad Allawi, which won the most seats.  Any so-called 'majority government' that shuts out Iraqiya would be shutting out the most popular political slate in Iraq.  Alsumaria reports Iraqiya's Haider Mulla is stating that mediation between Baghdad and Erbil is needed and that Iraqiya is more than willing to play the role of mediator. Already an Iraqiya member is acting as mediator.  AFP reports Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi is speaking to political leaders on both sides "in order to defuse the crisis."  Representing approximately a half-million of Iraq's 31 million people, Amin Farhan Jeju spoke today.  All Iraq News reports that the Yazidi Movement for Reform and Progess head is saying Nouri is within his rights to send the Tigris forces into disputed area.  Probably a good idea to read the Constitution before commenting on it.  Just a thought.  Also carrying water for Nouri is Shaker Darraji.  All Iraq News notes that the State of Law MP is accusing the Kurds of upsetting the political process.
In the US, the winter holiday season has begun.  Some people, this time of year, look for an organization to donate to.  One of the many worthy organizations is Doctors Without Borders and their donation page is here.  Where people are in need, Doctors Without Borders goes.  That includes Iraq.  Doctors Without Borders notes:
Domeez camp, near the city of Dohuk in the Kurdish region of Iraq, was set up at the beginning of 2012 and is now serving as a temporary home for nearly 15,000 Syrian refugees of Kurdish origin. Since May 2012, Doctors Without Borders/ Médecins Sans Frontières(MSF) has been running a 24-hour clinic in the camp, in collaboration with Dohuk's Department of Health.
As the camp's main health provider, MSF has been offering medical consultations and mental health care to the refugees, while also providing training for local health staff. To date, MSF teams have provided more than 20,500 consultations.
"Until June, there were about 2,000 people settled in Domeez, and the camp was running well," says Anja Wolz, MSF field coordinator in Dohuk. "But in August, the situation deteriorated because of a sudden massive arrival of refugees. With up to 1,000 people crossing the border each day [at the time], the camp quickly became overcrowded and, despite the efforts of the authorities, the level of assistance was clearly insufficient."
For the past few months, major efforts have been made to improve the situation before the onset of winter. But at present, as roughly 500 people cross the border into Dohuk governorate each day, some of the newly arrived refugees in Domeez camp still have to share tents, blankets, mattresses, and food with other families. 
"I arrived with two of my children, but had to leave my husband and my two other daughters behind," says a middle-aged Syrian woman. "We walked for more than six hours to cross the border. We don't have our own tent yet, so we must share with another family. I have a kidney stone and it is very painful. Since we arrived here I have been lying down all the time because of the pain. I need surgery to remove the stone. Here, we Syrians suffer from sickness, but also from the difficult situation we have gone through."
Most of the refugees in Domeez arrived with nothing, having left everything behind in Syria. Once in Iraq, they are issued with a six-month renewable residence permit by the Kurdish authorities, which allows them to look for work. Most find jobs as daily laborers. People who have been here for some time have begun to build extensions to their shelters, and some have opened small shops within the camp. 
Some of the refugees have had no news from their families back in Syria, and many report having lost family members as a result of the violence. 
"In our consultations, we see many patients suffering from psychological distress," says Wolz. "So in August we decided to open a mental health program to provide them with specific care." By the end of September, MSF's mental health team had carried over 290 psychological consultations. 
Lastly, the departure of David Petraeus as CIA director continues to stir interest and commentary.  The former top US commander in Iraq left the CIA in disgrace. Nick Mottern (Truthout) points to an earlier disgrace:
In 2007, Consumers for Peace, of which I am director, published an analysis of the Petraeus counterinsurgency manual and the "surge" in Iraq. The studies document the degree to which General Petraeus was willing to ignore international law and engage military activities that can be defined as war crimes; this must be further investigated and exposed. 
The major US press organizations will not do this. They aggrandized General Petraeus through the surge and after, willfully ignoring the horrific consequences of the Iraq occupation and then abandoning coverage of Iraq when President Obama announced US troops were leaving Iraq at the end of 2010. (There is no press mention of the large US mercenary forces that remain in Iraq and the guerilla war there.)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

NPR should be ashamed of itself

Joe Palca (Morning Edition, NPR) had a pretty important report this morning:

Scientists working on NASA's six-wheeled rover on Mars have a problem. But it's a good problem.
They have some exciting new results from one of the rover's instruments. On the one hand, they'd like to tell everybody what they found, but on the other, they have to wait because they want to make sure their results are not just some fluke or error in their instrument.
It's a bind scientists frequently find themselves in, because by their nature, scientists like to share their results. At the same time, they're cautious because no one likes to make a big announcement and then have to say "never mind."
The exciting results are coming from an instrument in the rover called SAM. "We're getting data from SAM as we sit here and speak, and the data looks really interesting," John Grotzinger, the principal investigator for the rover mission, says during my visit last week to his office at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. That's where data from SAM first arrive on Earth. "The science team is busily chewing away on it as it comes down," says Grotzinger.

The rover's name is Curiosity, Palca.  I have no idea what the big news is but I will assume it is big.

As a general rule, scientists are not carnival barkers.  They deal in the probable and the verifiable. 

But leave it to NPR to turn something important into a joke.  They're so disgusting.  What am I talking about?  This blog post by Eyder Peralta.  Is NPR supposed to encourage us to think or does it exist for cheap jokes?

The title asks what we think Curiosity found.  But to make sure that we get what a put-on they think it is, how dumb and lame they think science is, they offer us this crap:

What did the Curiosity Rover find on Mars?

And from there, it just gets worse with comments about the stupid political campaigns that just ended.  Heaven forbid we ever treat science as something serious and something to marvel over with wonder. 

NPR should really be ashamed of itself.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):

Tuesday, November 20, 2012.  Chaos and violence continue, tensions boil between Baghdad and Erbil, rumors fly about a withdrawal of confidence in Nouri, today is Universal Child's Day, Susan Rice fights to maintain the death penalty, and more.
Sean McLachlan is visiting Iraq for AOL News and his reports can be found at "Destination: Iraq,"   In his latest, he visits the National Museum in Baghdad. Excerpt:
The National Museum of Iraq is as battered and defiant as the country it represents. Battered because it has suffered looting and neglect, defiant because its staff fought to protect it. Now they're rebuilding and the museum will soon reopen.
I got a sneak peak while
visiting Iraq and was overawed. I knew I would be. Here is the treasure house of the dawn of civilization. Giant statues of Assyrian guardian demons stand next to cases filled with wide-eyed Sumerian statues pleading with their gods. Detailed bas-reliefs from excavated palaces show scenes of war and hunting. Cases full of cylinder seals show scenes of Babylonian life in miniature.
My favorite was the writing. The first scribes developed a simple system around 3300 B.C. or even earlier. Clay tokens represented objects such as sheep or jugs of beer. These were often sealed in clay envelopes with an impression of the tokens on the outside, thus creating the first contracts. Soon tablets were used with a system of writing that was mostly pictorial – a bull's head represented a bull, etc. As the needs of the developing civilization grew more complex, so did the system of writing. The pictures morphed into almost unrecognizable collections of lines, and words for abstract ideas appeared. The writing was done with a stylus on soft clay to make a series of wedge-shaped impressions called cuneiform.
Looking at these ancient texts was hypnotic. The same process we're engaged in right now, with me writing and you reading, was going on 5,000 years ago in a vastly different culture. We don't have to know each other or even be in the same country to communicate. It was an incredible innovation that opened up countless possibilities for the human race.
He has strong photos that accompany his text reports so make an effort to visit "Destination Iraq."  And if you're thinking, "I thought it was already open . . ."  That's because it's forever getting press coverage for 'opening.'
The most infamous opening was February 23, 2009 and it got a lot of press.  At the time the Minister of Culture Jabir al-Jabari was stating that no, the museum was not opening while the Minster for Tourism and Antiquities (Baha al-Mayahi). What happened? Jane Arraf (Christian Science Monitor) reported it was resolved by "a compromise: The museum will reopen Monday for the first time in six years. But only eight of the museum's 26 galleries will be accessible, and for only a few hours". It wasn't a real re-opening. It was just for show. And a few noted that in real time. The Los Angeles Times' Babylon & Beyond blog pointed out, "As for when the rest of Iraq will be able to see the museum, that's unclear. Iraqi guards Monday afternoon told journalists it would be a couple of months." Steven Lee Myers (New York Times) also underscored that key point, "When Iraqis may actually see for themselves a collection of relics and art that spans millenniums was a question even the museum's deputy director, Muhsin Hassan Ali, dared not answer, even when pressed."
But it's supposed to open -- in two months -- so maybe this will finally be the real opening?  No one should hold their breath.
In November of 1979 at the UN, the International Year of the Child Secretariat Representative Dr. E. Aldaba-Lim presented Fleetwood Mac with a citation for their donation of the royalties from "Beautiful Child" (written by Stevie Nicks).  UNICEF continues today as do children in need and today is Universal Children's Day.  UNICEF explains:
On Universal Children's Day, UNICEF issued a new research paper highlighting global demographic shifts forecast for the coming generation of children that present major challenges to policy makers and planners.
The paper for instance says that by 2050 one in every three births will be African – as will also be almost one in every three children under the age of 18. One hundred years earlier, sub-Saharan Africa's share of births was just one in 10.
The paper, Generation 2025 and beyond: The critical importance of understanding demographic trends for children of the 21st century, says that in turn under-5 deaths will continue increasingly to be concentrated in sub-Saharan Africa, in pockets of poverty and marginalization in populous lower-income countries and in least developed nations.
"What is important is whether the world as it prepares for the post-2015 agenda takes account of this fundamental and unprecedented shift," said co-author UNICEF's David Anthony. "We must do everything possible so these children get an equal chance to survive, develop and reach their full potential."
In October 2011, the world's population reached 7 billion and on current projections it will hit 8 billion by 2025. The paper says that next billion of global inhabitants will still be children by 2025 and 90 per cent of them will have been born in less developed regions.
The paper projects only a modest four per cent increase in the global population of children by 2025, but the population growth shifts significantly to countries in the South.
According to projections, the 49 countries classified as the world's least developed nations will account for around 455 million of the 2 billion global births between 2010 and 2025. Five populous middle income countries – China, India, Indonesia, Pakistan and Nigeria – will account for about 859 million births between 2010 and 2025.
The only high-income country projected to have an increasing proportion of children by   2025 is the United States – among the top five countries for births in the next 15 years.
Though China and India will continue to have a major share of the world's population, in absolute terms Nigeria will see the highest increase in its under-18 population of any country, adding 31 million children, a rise of 41 per cent, between 2010 and 2025. At the same time, Nigeria will account for one in every eight deaths among under-18s.
The paper says policy implications of the shift of child population and child deaths to the world's poorest and most populous countries are key. For least developed countries, serious consideration must be given to how to meet the needs of children, especially in health and education.
The study, derived from projections by the United Nations Population Division, says the ageing population globally will increase pressure to shift resources away from children.
"Children do not vote, and their voices are often not heard when governments make decisions about funding," said paper co-author Danzhen You from UNICEF. "So it will be more important than ever to safeguard children so their rights are respected and upheld."
The paper's recommendations include: targeting investments to the areas where children will be born; an emphasis on neglected groups, especially in high population, middle income countries; reaching the poorest and most isolated households, and urgently tackling the issue of old age dependency.
# # #
UNICEF works in 190 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world's largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit:
In the International Year of the Child 1979, UNICEF staged a concert with hosts Gilda Rander, Henry Winkler and David Frost, a declaration read by Henry Fonda and musical acts: Donna Summer, Olivia Newton-John, Rita Coolidge, Earth, Wind & Fire, Rod Stewart, Kris Kristofferson, Andy Gibb, Abba and the Bee Gees.  That took place in NYC.  In England in 1979, Paul McCartney organized four nights of concerts to benefit UNICEF and the people of Kampuchea with Paul and Wings performing each night and other participants included the Pretenders, Elvis Costello & the Attractions, Queen, the Who, the Specials and the Clash.  But neither the NYC or London events were the first UNICEF benefit concert: "UNICEF has started many trends over the years. One of the most influential -- the rock-and-roll benefit concert -- began in 1971, when George Harrison and Ravi Shankar teamed up with UNICEF to raise money for children and families fleeing the war in what was then East Pakistan."  The Concert for Bangladesh.
Children around the world remain in need.  On Iraq, the paper, Generation 2025 and beyond: The critical importance of understanding demographic trends for children of the 21st century, written by Danzhen You and David Anthony, notes that the population is expected to increase by 6 million.  Currently, the CIA estimates Iraq's population to be 31 million.  Due to war and sanctions, it's a very young population.  The median age is 21.1 years.  37.6% of Iraq's population is under the age of 14.  On Iraqi children, UNICEF released the following today:
BAGHDAD, 20 November 2012 -- On Universal Children's Day, UNICEF calls for urgent action for Iraq's most vulnerable children.
"Every third child in Iraq, or about 5.3 million children, is still currently deprived of many of their fundamental rights," said UNICEF's Representative to Iraq, Dr. Marzio Babille. 
"UNICEF calls on all stakeholders - in government, civil society, the private sector and the international community - to urgently invest in these children to respect their dignity and give them an equal chance to become healthy, productive young citizens of the new Iraq," Dr. Babille stated.
Child rights violations across Iraq that need to be addressed include: inadequate access to and promotion of health services; lack of access to quality education; violence against children in schools and families; psychological trauma from years of extreme violence; discrimination; prolonged detention in juvenile facilities; insufficient attention to the special needs of children with disabilities and who are not in their family environment; and lack of access to information and participation in cultural life.
While the majority of children in Iraq experience at least one violation of their fundamental rights, around 1.7 million children, or 10 per cent of all Iraqi children, have most of their rights fulfilled.
"There are extreme disparities amongst Iraq's 16.6 million children," noted Dr. Babille.  "Our collective challenge now is to narrow these gaps between those children who are marginalized, having very limited opportunities to improve their well-being, and the children who have every opportunity to fully progress in their lives."
"Iraq's National Development Plan, which is currently being revised, is the ideal place to start robustly planning the expanded delivery of essential services across Iraq that will narrow this gap."
UNICEF is working with the Government of Iraq and partners to ensure children's rights and best interests are included in policies and that equitable approaches that prioritize the most marginalized children are adopted.
"UNICEF remains unwavering in its commitment to support the Government protect all children's rights and build an Iraq that is fit for all children," stated Dr. Babille.
Today is the 23rd anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which lays the foundational principles from which all children's rights must be achieved, and calls for the provision of specific resources, skills and contributions necessary to ensure the survival and development of children to their maximum capability. Iraq ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1994.

Staying with the United Nations, the 67th General Assembly's Third Committee noted Monday, "The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) today approved a draft resolution that would have the General Assembly express its deep concern about the continued application of the death penalty and call on States to establish a moratorium on executions, with a view to abolishing the practice.  The draft text, approved by a record vote of 11 in favour to 39 against, with 36 abstaining, would have the Assembly call on States to respect international standards that provided safeguards guaranteeing the protection of the rights of persons facing the death penalty, as set out in the annex to Economic and Social Council resolution 1984/50 (1984)."  Today the Press Trust of India reports that 39 countries voted against the resolution, declaring their right to kill, and among the countries voting no?  The United States and Iraq.  What a proud moment for the US Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice who heads the mission.  The US voted no and gave a little speech on the topic, on the right to kill.  And that little speech took place yesterday but all those Susie Rice supporters 'forgot' to tell you about that.  Probably because they guessed, correctly, that a lot of her left support would crater if they were aware she was over arguing that using the death penalty is a decision for individual countries to make.
And what of Iraq?  The Iraqi government can't stop executing these days.  It's got a lust to satisfy.  From the November 12th snapshot:
Staying with violence, as noted in the October 15th snapshot, Iraq had already executed 119 people in 2012.  Time to add more to that total.  Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) reported last night that 10 more people were executed on Sunday ("nine Iraqis and one Egyptian").  Tawfeeq notes the Ministry of Justice's statement on the executions includes, "The Iraqi Justice Ministry carried out the executions by hanging 10 inmates after it was approved by the presidential council."  And, not noted in the report, that number's only going to climb.  A number of Saudi prisoners have been moved into Baghdad over the last weeks in anticipation of the prisoners being executed.  Hou Qiang (Xinhua) observes, "Increasing executions in Iraq sparked calls by the UN mission in the country, the European Union and human rights groups on Baghdad to abolish the capital punishment, criticizing the lack of transparency in the proceedings of the country's courts."
At least 129 executions so far this year.  And if you're not getting how death penalty crazy Nouri's Iraq is, sitting Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi has been sentenced to death in recent weeks . . . not once, but four times.  It's an addicition.
Alsumaria reports 1 police officer was shot dead inside his Mosul home.  Dropping back to yesterday, Margaret Griffis ( reported 1 police officer was shot dead in a Mosul armed clash and another was left injured, 1 Iraqi soldier was shot dead in Mosul, a Ramadi roadside bombing claimed the life of 1 police officer (another was injured) and 2 Tikrit bombings left five police officers injured.
Tensions have been rising in northern Iraq with Nouri al-Maliki sending troops in.   The World Tribune notes today,  "The greatest friction between Baghdad and KRG has focused on the Kirkuk area, claimed by the Kurds. The Iraqi military has established the Tigris Operations Command, led by Lt. Gen. Abdul Amir Al Zaidi and responsible for the provinces of Diyala, Kirkuk and Salah Eddin."  Bushra Juhi (AP) reports that, as a result of Nouri sending "tanks and armored vehicles toward"  the city of  Kirkuk (actually, towards Tuz Khurmatu) the Peshmerga are ready to attack at a minute's notice according to Commander Mahmoud Sankawi.  Al Mada notes that there are 35 Tigris forces tanks at the edge of Tuz Khurmatu currently.  Alsumaria notes that Iraqi Minister of Trade Khairallah Babker has stated that if Nouri does not stop the movements of the Tigris forces into disputed territories, the Kurds made clear to Nouri yesterday evening, that violence would ensue.  Al Mada adds that Moqtada al-Sadr's bloc has declared they do not support war on the KRG, that Nouri's actions are his alone and that Iraq needs someone to step forward and create a peaceful, civil state.  Kitabat notes that Ahmed Chalabi has declared Nouri's actions will cause violence and are harmful to all Iraqis.

Late yesterday, AFP reported that Col Dhia al-Wakil, of Nouri's Tigris forces, was stating Nouri was warning the Kurdish forces not to approach his troops.   Dar Addustour quotes the Secretary General of the Ministry of Peshmerga, Jabbar Yawar, stating that Nouri knows fully well what are and what not disputed territories in Iraq.

Hevidar Ahmed (Rudaw) notes that Iraqi President Jalal Talabani (a Kurd)  "repeatedly asked Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki to halt the activities of the military command.  Maliki ignored his calls and broadened the activities of the DOC instead."  The Tigris forces are also known as Dijla Operations Command.  As we noted some time ago, these forces were seen as Nouri's attempt to take over disputed territories.  He has been prime minister since 2006.  The Constitution mandated that he implement Article 140 and he was supposed to do it by the end of 2007.  He never has.  Article 140 provides for resolving disputed territories like oil-rich Kirkuk which both the Baghdad-based government and the KRG insists is rightly their land.  Per Article 140, a census and referendum will be held.  The last time Nouri acknowledged this was when he was desperate for a second term and promised a census would take place at the start of December 2010.  But the Erbil Agreement in November 2010 meant he could go back on his promise and he immediately cancelled the census.

Ahmed notes that Talabani initially took Nouri at his words despite rumors and reports from the Kurdish Asayish forces.  Events have forced Jalal to open his eyes and he has now called out the Tigris forces.  Ahmed reports:

Spokesperson and member of the KDP political bureau, Jaafar Ibrahim, told Rudaw, "Talabani was never alone and has always been supported by Barzani and the KDP. Sometimes we might have had our differences, but in fateful matters such as Article 140 and the Kirkuk issue, KDP members support Talabani and the PUK." 
After Talabani prevented the effort to withdraw confidence from Maliki – brought forward by the KDP, Iraqiya List, Sadr Movement, Kurdistan Islamic Union (KIU) and Kurdistan Islamic Group (Komal) -- it was said that the KDP would not support Talabani in this case in Baghdad. 
But Ibrahim said, "The KDP will not leave Talabani alone in Baghdad as we have openly told Maliki that the DOC is a provocation and playing with fire."

Reports yesterday noted that Jalal was in Erbil to meet with KRG President Massoud Barzani.  All Iraq News reports the two political rivals (the KRG has two dominant political parties, the KDP and the PUK, each heads one) met today.  All Iraq News notes that Nouri's Cabinet also met to discuss the issue today.  Many people were getting involved in the tense situation and it may have been kicked to a new level when, Alsumaria reports, the PKK announced that any attack on the Kurdistan Region would see a response from them. Aaron Hess (International Socialist Review) described the PKK in 2008, "The PKK emerged in 1984 as a major force in response to Turkey's oppression of its Kurdish population. Since the late 1970s, Turkey has waged a relentless war of attrition that has killed tens of thousands of Kurds and driven millions from their homes. The Kurds are the world's largest stateless population -- whose main population concentration straddles Turkey, Iraq, Iran, and Syria -- and have been the victims of imperialist wars and manipulation since the colonial period. While Turkey has granted limited rights to the Kurds in recent years in order to accommodate the European Union, which it seeks to join, even these are now at risk."

An offer was made -- an offer only an idiot would accept.   Hou Qiang (Xinhua) reports:

The Iraqi government suggested Tuesday to jointly control the security with the Kurdish regional forces in the disputed areas in northern Iraq, in a bid to ease the tension between Baghdad and the autonomous Kurdistan region, an official Kurdish website said.
"The ministerial council proposed in its meeting Tuesday to jointly run the security file of the disputed areas between the federal government and Kurdistan region," said the official website of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), a major Kurdish party.
Enter the idiot Jalal Talabani.  Alsumaria reports Jalal has announced he's grabbing the offer.  He really is that stupid.  When your opponent is struggling, you don't let the define how the battle ends.   And Nouri's certainly struggling these days.
Amani Aziz (Al Mada) reports that Moqtada al-Sadr's bloc is ready to oust Nouri al-Maliki over the arms deal which has led to confessions from State of Law that there was huge corruption in the Russian arms deal. MP Jawad al-Hasnawi states it is a logical step to remove him after Nouri signed the deal while refusing to provide details including who were the go-betweens.  This was the deal -- that's now supposedly broken -- that found Nouri signing a contract worth $4.2 billion.  Alsumaria reports the Kudistan Alliance today announced that an investigative committee was being formed in Parliament to review the Russian arms deal.  Omar Sattar (Al-Ayyam via Al-Monitor) adds, "The Iraqi parliament's Security and Defense Committee collected the names of more than 50 MPs demanding the formation of a committee to investigate the caneled Russian arms deal.  The committee has confirmed its intention to interrogate all the officials whose names were linked to this case."   Dar Addustour reported yesterday on Nouri's plan to isolate Jalal and that Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi, Iraqiya leader Ayad Allawi and KRG President Massoud Barzani are in conversations with people assuming it is over withdrawing confidence in Nouri.
Nouri is a failure.   Back in May, the World Bank released [PDF format warning] "Doing Business in the Arab World."  We're dealing with it today because a friend (professor of economics) found a post elsewhere online to be outrageous.   (I've learned to expect something less than precision from that writer.)  Iraq didn't do well in the report, in fact it did awful.  I wasn't surprised by that.  Months before, we were walking you through how awful Iraq's image had become in the business world.  But the post in question, the one that went up today and outraged a friend concludes of Iraq's lousy business status today "That's largely because the country has had a state-run economy since the 1960s."  The economics professor called me and asked (a) is that what the writer's asserting or (b) did the report argue that and the writer forgot to include something like "The report maintains, that's largely because . . ."  That's the writer's conclusion and those conclusions are ignorant and uninformed. 
In the Arab World, Iraq ranks 19 out of 20 countries for ease of doing business (164th out of 183 countries worldwide). The report states:
In the past 6 years policy makers in 163 economies globally (including 17 of the 18 Arab economies in the sample) made dmoestic regulations more business-friendly.  They lowered barries to entry, operation and exit and strengthened protections of property and investor rights.  Only a few economies moved in the opposite direction.  Among the Arab economies, Iraq is the only one that did so."
Everyone in the Arab world's been moving in the World Bank's right direction . . . except Iraq.  Iraq is called out for offering no reforms in the last six years to ease doing business in the country.  Instead, "In Iraq starting a business became more expensive because of an increase in the cost to obtain a name reservation certificate and in the cost for lawyers to draft articles of association."  In Saudi Arabia, the World Bank maintains, someone can start a business in 5 days while it will take 77 in Iraq.
In a bit of good news in the report for Iraq, those wanting construction permits had to go through 13 procedures which allowed Iraq to be fourth on the list of fewest procedures; however, though they're only 13 procedures, in Iraq they tend to take forever (187 days) and are very expensive.  Exporting and importing is a nightmare and you're looking at over a month from when you start either process.
The report is concerned largely with events of the last six years.  Iraq having a state-run economy since the 1960s doesn't factor in.  The report doesn't go back that far, Iraq's actually gotten worse in the last six years and the term "state-run economy" never appears in the report -- it's not concerned with that.
Iraq has many barriers and the blogger who enraged my friend may feel that these stem from having a state-run economy.  If that's his argument, he needs to make it.  He didn't just fail to back it up, he didn't even make the argument.  The World Bank does not make that argument in "Doing Business in the Arab World 2012."  Having a "state-run economy" shouldn't cause Iraq to drop over the last year.  That is what happened.  It's gone from really bad to really, really bad in the latest report.
Having a state-run economy should, in theory, allow Iraq to move quickly to address the issues raised in the report.  But they haven't and they won't because Nouri al-Maliki is a failure.  He has been a failure in nearly everything he's attempted (in fairness, he did excell at torture and the running of secret prisons).
Closing with music.  One of the many women who paved the way for so many others and went on to become one of the great American songwriters is singer-songwriter Carly Simon.  She's won the Grammy (twice), she's won the Golden Globe, she's been honored with The ASCAP Founders Award, she's even won an Academy Award.  This Wednesday night, she's doing a web concert with her children Sally Taylor and Ben Taylor.  It kicks off at 8:00 PM EST, 7:00 PM Central and 5:00 PM Pacific. It is a forty minute concert.  Tickets are $20 with a portion going to the Red Cross for the victims of Hurricane Sandy.  Carly is notoriously stage shy.  She could make a ton of money today if she did a national tour.  She's one of the few acts that could make a ton of money.  And one reason she could haul in that money (I'm not talking a ten date tour, I'm talking across the country) is because she has toured so rarely and so many of her fans across the country haven't had the pleasure of seeing her live (though they've wanted to).  The tours have been very rare and tended to be short ones.  This is a chance -- first-come-first-serve, there are about 90 tickets left -- for you to see her regardless of your location.  The concert is Wednesday.  And Sally and Ben are their own artists.  You can hear strains of their parents in them but they are their own artists with their own unique talents so the concert should really be something.  And Ben is also the guest on NPR's Mountain Stage -- the program may have already aired today in your area but you can check it out here -- 41 minutes of audio and also a video of him performing "It Really Doesn't Matter To You."  I haven't had time to stream the concert but I do know "It Really Doesn't Matter To Me" and I think it's among his best, right up there with "Wicked Ways."
And while I'm plugging music, Janis Ian is an amazing artist, real, genuine, able to touch the heart.  A very gifted artist and a sweet woman.  A music producer friend asked me awhile back to note that Janis -- who is always on the road -- was performing in Dallas, Texas at a very intimate venue.  This was going to be the first time Janis was in Dallas in some time and, again, it was a club where every seat was supposed to be a great seat.  So we were more than happy to include it.  The same friend called to ask that we note that Janis hits Texas next month and will perform at One World Theatre in Austin on Monday, December 10th; Dosey Doe in The Woodlands on December 9th; and Saturday, December 8th, Janis will be back in Dallas at Hamon Hall.  As Ann and Nancy Wilson can tell you, if you can get Texas behind you, you can always tour.  As a state, its history hasn't been to be trendy and, if you give a good show, concert goers will show up for the career highs as well as the more mellow periods.  Janis is one of the premiere concert artists.  She is not going through the motions, she is creating a show.  She's a legend on the road and, if you're able to check her out, please do so.  Click here for her full touring schedule.  But, I'm not joking, it's known in the music industry that if you can get into the Texas circuit and give a strong show, concert goers will show up for years to come.  They really value music -- and not trends -- in Texas.  (That's also the reputation Louisiana has and why smart stage performers like Stevie Nicks always include those regions when planning a tour.)
And the friend I'm dictating this to asked if I was going to mention Ann?  I didn't know Ann Wilson had something this week. Ann and her sister Nancy are the trail blazing rockers behind Heart which has a new album Fanatic (Kat raved over it here) -- on sale for only $6.99 as an Amazon download right now, a tour and also a wonderful book Kicking & Dreaming: A Story of Heart, Soul, and Rock and Roll (Ava and I loved it).  But Thursday, November 22nd, (that's Thanksgiving Day), Ann will be performing the National Anthem, broadcast on Fox TV, at the Dallas Cowboys versus the Washington Redskins football game. The game's scheduled to start at 2:15 PM EST, 3:15 Central, 1:15 Pacifica.  Along with being on Fox TV (that's the entertainment channel that airs The Simpsons, Fringe, etc. -- I know Fox has a ton of channels), it will also be broadcast on Sirius Radio (channel 93).  So Ann sings the National Anthem.  And she's someone who can.  Many don't have the range for that song, it's a hard one to sing.  Ann's got the range and, goodness knows, the power so it should be something to see and hear.