Monday, January 04, 2010

Comic, Flashpoints, year end

Colgate Ready

Isaiah's Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Colgate Ready"

This evening on KPFA's Flashpoints Radio they interviewed Hedy Epstein (who's participating in the Gaza action) and featured a discussion on the Zapatistas.

Okay, I'm going to pull something out of C.I.'s snapshot to highlight it near the top:

If you're just coming back from the long holiday weekend, a number of year-end pieces posted last week: Kat's "Kat's Korner: 2009 in music" and Ruth's "Ruth's Report" and Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Brownie Approved" and his "The 2010 Plan" went up Friday. Kat's "Kat's Korner: The decade in music" and "2009 in books (Martha & Shirley)" went up Thursday and "Reflecting on 2009 (Beth)" posted on Sunday. In addition, Ann's "2009 in DVDs" and Stan's "DVDs of 2009" (joint-post) looks at DVDs. I did "The Year of Living Sickly" Friday and Trina examines the economy in "The economy," Marcia the 'message' sent to the LGBT community in "What I learned this year" and Rebecca notes how the sexism came from the top in "the 2009 take-away."

There was a lot of work done community wide. I need to add my decade in music and 2009 in music to the links but not tonight. I'm so exhausted.

Ruth wrote a great overview of the year in radio. Isaiah offered a comic that summed up the administration (Brownie) and another that looked forward. Beth did a really strong piece. Ann and Stan offered something that everyone should enjoy. Marcia noted what a lousy year 2009 was for LGBT rights, Rebecca did the same regarding sexism and Trina pointed out that as the year ended you were hearing the same hype about the economy you were hearing at the start of the year (and there was no improvement in the economy).

What is that?

I've got the TV on and there's some Mexican food on that looks gorgeous (commercial). But I am starving. (It was Chile's.) I'm so tired and I'm so hungry.

On Ruth's piece, I had an e-mail that I don't understand. I understand what's being asked, I just don't understand why ask me?

The question is why didn't Ruth include [list of various NPR programs] and [3 Pacifica Radio programs]?

Do you know how hard it is to write a year end piece?

Ruth had to narrow it down. She explains that she considers Fresh Air to be NPR's low point so that is what she focuses on. In terms of other Pacifica radio programs, she's dealing with five or so programs specifically.

She did a great job. She captured the larger parts and then zoomed in for specifics.

C.I.'s piece? She killed herself writing that. I'm not joking. Betty and I were eating some snacks, I'd just finished my year piece and Betty's daughter came in and said, "People shouldn't make fun of babies." Well we agree. She explained C.I. was writing and she asked her why she was crying and she explained that some people think it's funny to be mean to little babies. (She explained it to Betty's daughter in an easy to understand way but Betty's daughter is aware of who Trig Palin is and how people make fun of him. Yes, it's so bad that even small children know about it.)

I think C.I. wrote an amazingly powerful piece but I know she put herself through hell to do it. That's partly my fault because I needed a lot of assistance on my 2009 music piece.

I was wiped out. The first problem was my decade piece. I had written half of it and saved it and then, the next day (Thursday), I open it and nothing's there except the first sentece. So I have to start all over. And that wiped me out (remember it was New Year's Eve). And if you know me at all you know I live to procrastinate. So having finished the decade and then the next day having to start the 2009 and finish it -- a deadline -- I just didn't want to.

I knew I had to but I didn't want to.

Maggie just called. She saw something up at Indy Bay Media and wondered why no one had noted it yet? We didn't know about it. Here it is in full:

Open Letter to KPFA General Manager, Lemlem Rijio and the KPFA community
by repost from D. Bernstein
Thursday Dec 31st, 2009 12:37 PM
Dennis Bernstein replies to a letter sent by KPFA General Manager Lemlem Rijio to the staff list concerning the cuts to Flashpoints
Open Letter to KPFA General Manager, Lemlem Rijio and the KPFA community of Listeners
/And A Bold Proposal
By Dennis Bernstein, Executive Producer, Flashpoints
On December 30th
[Response to Rijio letter of 12/30, KPFA Staff: KPFA Open Letter on Budget Reductions, which is not copied here due to a confidentiality notice]

KPFA GM, Lemlem Rijio addressed the KPFA Pacifica community in an open letter . . about the current financial crunch at KPFA. While the crunch is real, I would of course disagree with several statements made in the letter by MS Rijio.
But let me just shed light on one point, in which she directly addresses Flashpoints, and then I'd like to offer a bold proposal to Management and workers at KPFA, to step up and stand strong for Free Speech Radio.
Ms Rijio states in her open letter: "At the current staffing level (after cuts to all programs), Flashpoints has more staffing per hour than all other public affairs programs at KPFA."
Really? Under current management, Flashpoints has lost fifty percent of its budget, leaving the show with 80 paid hours for staffing.

Currently KPFA news has well over 200 paid hours for staffing, five times the plant space as Flashpoints, and their own broadcast studio. They also have full access to Free speech Radio News which is a major contributor to the news cast. According to the official budget figures for fiscal 2005/2006, the news department budget went up over $50,000 dollars under current management, while the Flashpoints budget was cut. Administration went up over $30,000 dollars in the same period. The trend continued, as MS Rijio expressed her priorities clearly, by continuing to cut (and censor) Flashpoints, while increasing the budgets for the morning show and the news and administration.

Statement of Fact: The Flashpoints budget has been slashed in half under current management.
Question: Have the budgets for the morning show and the KPFA news gone up or down under the same management?
Question: Did current management bust the budget, and are they now using the bust as an excuse to get rid of, or at least marginalize a radical edgy show like Flashpoints?

MY Challenge: Ms Rijio writes in her open letter, "program teams, were given the opportunity to voluntarily spread the cuts among themselves, and some staff voluntarily reduced their hours to lessen the impact on their co-workers." Well here's my response to my boss: OK I will volunteer to go on an unpaid six months leave, and work for free, starting immediately if six of my brothers and sisters at the top of the KPFA pay scale will do the same. That would be say the two top managers, and 4 senior members of CWA (let's make room for the next generation).

One more thing, it is my understanding that several people were given major increases in their hours, even while others were being cut. Those hours should immediately be returned back to the hour pool and given back to the people who were just laid off.
If you agree to this action, in support of KPFA,the people’s radio station, Ms Rijio, then I think that it will go a long way to getting us over the financial hump, without hobbling Flashpoints and Hard Knock Radio, which have been hit hardest by the crunch, and which are born under the banner of Pacifica founder, Lew Hill.

In closing, Ms Rijio, I do admire your decision to bring this conversation out into the light of day, with your open letter to the KPFA community. I look forward to this frank open dialogue on how to keep KPFA Free Speech, non-corporate radio strong and viable into the 21st Century.

In Struggle, Dennis Bernstein Executive Producer, Flashpoints, CWA/KPFA member,
dbernstein [at]

I don't know much about where the money is going. I know C.I. was going over the budget that Dennis is mentioning and plans to work parts of it into a snapshot this week. That may not be the budget aspect though, I think C.I. is going to emphasize a different area.

Dennis raises some good issues. I'll probably go into the letter tomorrow night. Tonight I'm too tired and too hungry.

Closing with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Monday, January 4, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, Iraqis suffer from exposure to depleted uranium, US troops patrol Iraqi villages attempting to coerce Iraqi civilians (in the name of "psyops"), and more.

"This is our life and this is our environment," declares Zahraa Mohammed, a young mother of two who has been diagnosed with lung cancer. "All have been polluted by the war. I am 23 and I have cancer though I'm the only one to be infected in my family history. I wish I could become better for the sake of my children. If I die, who's going to take care of my children?" Zahraa speaks in the video report at the start of t
he latest Inside Iraq (Al Jazeera) where moderator Jasim al-Azzawi is joined by Dr. Jawad al-Ali (consultant oncologist) and Christopher Busby (radiation expert) to discuss the huge rise in cancer that coincides with the start of the illegal war and the use (by the US and others) of depleted uranium. Jasim al-Azzawi noted that the Pentagon was invited to participate in the discussion but declined to participate.

Jasim al-Azzawi: Dr. Jawad al-Ali, you are a physician, you are a member of the Iraq Cancer Board and you have seen the astronomical rate in cancers rise as well as defects in children. Explain to me what is going on in Basra?

Dr. Jawad al-Ali: Really, as you know, Iraq is effected by three wars, three destructive wars. The last two -- the 1991 war and the 2003 war -- where depleted uranium is used for the first time in history. The 1991 war, they used depleted uranium at the western part of Basra and also they dropped some of the uranium weapons [. . .] during the withdrawal of the Iraqi army. And also they dropped some of the depleted uranium at the eastern part of Basra where it was the only way to withdraw our army from Kuwait.

Jasim al-Azzawi: Did that cause such an astronomical rise in the cancer rates in 1991 and the 90s? And also in the 2003?

Dr. Jawad al-Ali: After three or four years, that is in 1994, I, myself, I noticed that the hospital receiving many patients with cancer. And we were surprised at that time. And we don't what was the link. But, after two years, that is 1996, one of the intelligent persons, worked with the intelligence and he's escorting one of the delegations, he told me that depleted uranium is used. And he told me this is a secret, please keep it inside your brain.

Jasim al-Azzawi: It is no longer a secret, Dr. al-Ali, let me bring in Christopher Busby. Mr. Busby, you were a witness expert in one of the British trials regarding a soldier who developed cancer immediately after returning from deployment in southern part Iraq.

Christopher Busby: In September of this year, I was asked by the coroner in the West Midlands near Birmingham to attend an inquest as an expert witness. I've become a witness on the health effects of depleted uranium. I sat on a number of government committees including a [UK] Ministry of Defense committee and I've studied the health effects of Uranium for almost 15 years and I've closely followed these arguments about the increase in cancer in Iraq and in other areas where uranium has been used. So I was -- I was asked to give evidence as an expert witness in this case. This man, Stuart Dyson, has worked as an Ordnance Corps support soldier. So basically what he did, he cleaned up the vehicles and, as a result, he became contaminated with depleted uranium which collected on the vehicles which were used in the 2003 Gulf War and he then developed cancer at a very early age, about 38. I mean, it's very, very rare to get that cancer, colon cancer, at that age. The normal rate is about 6 in a million people. Now we know as a result of cancer research that cancer is caused by exposure to something that causes a mutation in cells. So we have to look to something that he was exposed to that caused mutations in cells.

Jasim al-Azzawi: Yes.

Christopher Busby: And really there isn't anything else but depleted uranium.

Jasim al-Azzawi: Dr. Jawad al-Ali, you were also a member of a research team in Iraq, especially in the south, and you have seen the deformities and the defects among newly born babies in Iraq. How bad is that?

Dr. Jawad al-Ali: You know, depleted uranium, it's not only a cancer inducing factor but also it might effect the chromosomes whether in the husband or the mother of a child. And many, many children are born with deformities, with loss of limbs, with a big head, with deformed legs and the rate of this -- these deformities is increasing about seven times since 1991until 2002. And also another phenomena we noticed here that families cluster -- cluster of cancer in families -- a husband and a wife are effected. And many families, I got their pictures with me. The other phenomena is the appearance of double and triple cancers. That is three cancers in one patient or two cancers in the same patient. These phenomena are very strange for us. I haven't seen it before. Because I worked in Basra for about 39 years. And I haven't seen such cases of cancer [before]. The other thing is the change of pattern of cancer as said by Dr. Busby. We have a change in the pattern that is the cancers of elderly people appearing now in a younger age group. And this is surprising. Even the breast cancer which is disease of middle and elderly ladies now appearing at the age of 20.

Jasim al-Azzawi: Let me, Mr. Busby, in the 1991 war, most of the fighting was done outside the centers of population, out of the big cities. But in 2003, a great majority of the war, of the battles, actually happened in centers of population. In 1991, we started to see the effect of depleted uranium almost two years or three years after that immediately. Are we going to witness a dramatic rise later on, even in places like Baghdad?

Christopher Busby: I believe you are. And the way in which this works is that you get an immediate genetic shock and then you get a build up of an effect over a longer period of time. But the other thing is that if you already have cause -- genetic damage -- in the first Gulf War, then those people will be more likely to get cancer as a result of a second hit in the second Gulf War. So-so what you've got here, I am afraid, is that, in my prediction, there's going to be a massive increase in cancer and a massive increase in birth defects because this material is one of the most dangerous genetic damaging material that has ever -- that exists on earth because it binds to the DNA and it focuses radiation to that part of the body where it's most dangerous, where it causes the most damage -- for inheritable defects, as Dr. al-Ali says, for cancer also, as he says. So I'm afraid that the whole genetic makeup of the Iraqi population -- and probably a lot of the Gulf War veterans who fought there to, from America and from the United Kingdom also -- will be suffering as a result of these exposures.

All Iraqis suffer from the DU but it falls primarily on the young. They're the ones who may not only become sick themselves but may also see a parent (or both) die. The children of Iraq are not "collateral damage," they are the victims and they are the targets. If you doubt that,
Scott Fontaine (McClatchy's News Tribune) was all excited about a psy-ops operation, one he identified as just that. It's all about persuasion, blared the headline, not propaganda. But psyops, by its very nature, is propaganda. US Dept of Defense definition: PSYOPS or Psychological Operations: Planned operations to convey selected information and indicators to foreign audiences to influence their emotions, motives, objective reasoning, and ultimately the behavior of foreign governments, organizations, groups, and individuals. The purpose of psychological operations is to induce or reinforce foreign attitudes and behavior favorable to the originator's objectives. Also called PSYOP. See also consolidation psychological operations; overt peacetime psychological operations programs; perception management.

Get it? Fontaine didn't. Even with Lt Jose Perez bragging about how the operation was about managing the Iraqis behavior. It's also about lying to Iraqis. Perez explains of the December 8th bombing, "We told them that the attackers targeted Iraq's culture and Iraq's history. We wanted people to know that it was way more than an attack on buildings and people." Uh, no, the Iraqi government was attacked. The one set up by the occupying power (the US) and, no, it doesn't not have a cultural or historical role in Iraq. Most importantly, foreigners do not define a foreign country to the inhabitants. Especially when those foreigners are occupiers, they do not define a foreign country to the inhabitants. But that's what the US military does as it swarms through al-Saltuin. Roaming through the village like they own it. Barreling in and flashing guns and stopping parents, pay attention to this, who say they know nothing about any 'insurgents' only to have the US military make veiled threats. An armed US soldier speaking to an Iraqi, pumping him or her for information, and then stating to the Iraqi, "We're here to stop in some of the villages and talk to parents so their kids don't get in trouble"? Plays like a veiled threat. Doubt it? Spc Olivia Laschober tells Fontaine she talks to the Iraqi women, "Most women, if they have children, want to protect their kids, and we play into that."

That's disgraceful and outrageous. It's also shocking because we were told that these sort of raids and patrols stopped June 30th. Remember that? But the US forces are going through villages, detaining Iraqis (there's no freedom of choice when the occupier is armed and orders you to speak with them) and making veiled threats towards Iraqi children.

Moving on to other hostages, five British citizens were kidnapped May 29, 2007 in Iraq and,
Wednesday, one was released: Peter Moore. Moore, Alec Maclachlan, Jason Crewswell, Alan McMenemy and Jason Swindelhurst were kidnapped by the League of Righteous from the Ministry of Finance and, following the US military releasing League of Righteous members from their prisons in Iraq in June, the bodies of Crewswell, Swindelhurts and Maclachlan were slowly turned over to British authorities. The British government announced in July that they believed Alan McMenemy was dead but his family has continued to hold out hope. John Leland (New York Times) reports, "On Sunday, the Iraqi government spokesman, Ali al-Dabbagh, said that he did not know for sure whether Mr. McMenemy was dead, and that he hoped for 'a handover' in the next few days." Assad Abboud (AFP) quotes an unnamed spokesperson for the British Foreign Office stating, "Our position is unchanged. We have believed for some time that Alan's been killed and his immediate family have been told our views. We continue to urge those holding Alan to return his body immediately. We're in close contact with the Iraqi authorities and we're doing everything we can to try and secure a swift return to the UK." Leland explains that the League of Righteous' Laith al-Khazali had to be released by the Americans back in June before the corpses were retutnred and that his brother, Qais al-Khazali, was released from the US prison "just hours" before Peter Moore was released. Martin Chulov (Guardian) reports:The Shia cleric, Qais al-Khazali, who held the key to Peter Moore's fate was freed from Iraqi custody tonight in a move that is widely expected to prompt the handover of the body of the last of the five kidnapped Britons, Alan McMenemy.Iraq's Interior Ministry spokesman and the Sadr Office in Baghdad confirmed the Iranian-linked cleric was released after a cursory period of three days in Iraqi custody that followed the almost three years he spent in an American detention centre.Leaders of the Shia resistance group, The Righteous League, which captured the five men in May 2007 have committed to releasing the remains of McMenemy, who is believed to have been killed along with Moore's three other guards. Negotiators who have dealt with the hostage takers tonight reiterated that they were "100% sure" that McMenemy was dead. They joined the Foreign Office in downplaying speculation from Baghdad that he was still alive.Who are the League of Righteous? A group tight with Nouri al-Maliki. Once followers of Moqtada al-Sadr. From the June 9th snapshot:
This morning the New York Times' Alissa J. Rubin and Michael Gordon offered "
U.S. Frees Suspect in Killing of 5 G.I.'s." Martin Chulov (Guardian) covered the same story, Kim Gamel (AP) reported on it, BBC offered "Kidnap hope after Shia's handover" and Deborah Haynes contributed "Hope for British hostages in Iraq after release of Shia militant" (Times of London). The basics of the story are this. 5 British citizens have been hostages since May 29, 2007. The US military had in their custody Laith al-Khazali. He is a member of Asa'ib al-Haq. He is also accused of murdering five US troops. The US military released him and allegedly did so because his organization was not going to release any of the five British hostages until he was released. This is a big story and the US military is attempting to state this is just diplomacy, has nothing to do with the British hostages and, besides, they just released him to Iraq. Sami al-askari told the New York Times, "This is a very sensitive topic because you know the position that the Iraqi government, the U.S. and British governments, and all the governments do not accept the idea of exchanging hostages for prisoners. So we put it in another format, and we told them that if they want to participate in the political process they cannot do so while they are holding hostages. And we mentioned to the American side that they cannot join the political process and release their hostages while their leaders are behind bars or imprisoned." In other words, a prisoner was traded for hostages and they attempted to not only make the trade but to lie to people about it. At the US State Dept, the tired and bored reporters were unable to even broach the subject. Poor declawed tabbies. Pentagon reporters did press the issue and got the standard line from the department's spokesperson, Bryan Whitman, that the US handed the prisoner to Iraq, the US didn't hand him over to any organization -- terrorist or otherwise. What Iraq did, Whitman wanted the press to know, was what Iraq did. A complete lie that really insults the intelligence of the American people. CNN reminds the five US soldiers killed "were: Capt. Brian S. Freeman, 31, of Temecula, California; 1st Lt. Jacob N. Fritz, 25, of Verdon, Nebraska; Spc. Johnathan B. Chism, 22, of Gonzales, Louisiana; Pfc. Shawn P. Falter, 25, of Cortland, New York; and Pfc. Johnathon M. Millican, 20, of Trafford, Alabama." Those are the five from January 2007 that al-Khazali and his brother Qais al-Khazali are supposed to be responsible for the deaths of. Qassim Abdul-Zahra and Robert H. Reid (AP) states that Jonathan B. Chism's father Danny Chism is outraged over the release and has declared, "They freed them? The American military did? Somebody needs to answer for it."
The ringleaders of an attack on a US base that killed 5 American troops were in US custody and they were released, traded so that 3 British corpses and 1 British citizen could be released. Kind of hard for Barack to play commander in chief and enstill a fighting spirit or pride within the military when the answer to an attack on a US base that results in multiple deaths is the killers walk.
ITN reports that the family of Jason Swindlehurst have stated that Jason is dead because the US refused to act quickly and quote father Russel Swindlehurst stating, "We're very, very glad that Peter's back home safe and sound. But if the only reason he was released was because the Americans have released whover it is [al-Khazal], why couldn't they have done it two years ago so we might have had all five lads coming home instead of just one." As the father, it's a perfectly reasonable question. Stepping back a distance, the US never, NEVER, should have released the ringleaders responsible for the deaths of 5 Americans. And if Barack's administration had thought in the least (their thinking was addressed in Thursday's snapshot), they would have realized that the release would lead to questions such as Swindlehurst. From his point of view, it's a valid question. From the point of view that an American president is supposed to represent and protect American citizens -- Barack was not elected President of the World -- Barack's actions are appalling. Alice Fordham (Times of London) explains, "The release of Mr McMenemy, or his remains, is being linked to the impending freeing of a Shia cleric and leader of Asaib al-Haq (AAH), League of the Righteous, the group that held the five Britons. Qais al-Khazali, the AAH leader, was transferred from US to Iraqi custody shortly before the release of Mr Moore on December 30."

There are reports that
Alan McMenemy may be alive. His family has never given hope. The reports center around a questionable character as the source -- one known for headline grabbing behavior. Since the source has nothing concrete, why did he go public? The answer is: headline grabbing behavior.

Staying with England,
Stephen White (Daily Mirror) notes the growing story in England that Prince Charles vocally opposed the Iraq War (before it started) to then-Prime Minister Tony Blair. Yesterday the Press Trust of India was reporting that Prince Charles spoke out against the Iraq War to then-Prime Minister Tony Blair. Is it true? Chances are no one will ever know because Richard Palmer (Daily Express) reports, "Prince Charles will refuse to give evidence to the Iraq war inquiry amid claims he broke royal tradition by actively campaigning against the invasion." Wales News feels the most pressing question Tony Blair will face from the Inquiry "will be the central decision to go to war in the first place and whether he took the country into conflict on the basis of a 'lie' regarding Saddam's alleged weapons of mass destruction (WMD)." Paul Waugh (Evening Standard) adds that there's so much interest in Tony Blair's upcoming testimony to the Iraq Inquiry that there will be a "lottery" to determine who gets seats to attend the hearing that day. Andrew Grice (Independent of London) reports:An internet-based "people power" campaign is asking its 60,000 members to draw up the "tough questions" that Tony Blair must be asked when he is questioned by the Iraq inquiry this year.38 Degrees, a group set up last year in memory of the Body Shop founder Dame Anita Roddick, wants to ensure that Mr Blair is not let off the hook or allowed to answer the most sensitive questions in private. Although Sir John Chilcot, the former Whitehall mandarin chairing the inquiry, has insisted that Mr Blair will be questioned mainly in public, critics of the 2003 invasion fear the former prime minister may cite national security in an attempt to ensure some of the hearing is behind closed doors.The Iraq Inquiry resumes Tuesday. Tony Blair is not scheduled to testify anytime soon (nor is he scheduled to testify before the Parliamentary elections are held in England). However, Tom Baldwin and Sam Coates (Times of London) report the Labour Party feels that he's a drag on the party and can't be deployed in turn up the heat and turn out the vote efforts in the coming weeks. Tony Blair became Prime Minister in May of 1997 when the Labour Party ascended and the Conservative Party was in decline. He replaced John Major as prime minister. Over the weekend, John Major was interviewed by the BBC's Today (audio and text at the link).

John Major: I supported the Iraq War because I believed what the Prime Minister [Tony Blair] said. I had myself been prime minister in the first Gulf War and I knew that when I said something I was utterly certain that I knew it was correct and I said less than I know. I assumed the same thing had happened and on that basis I supported, reluctantly, the second Iraq War. It now seem listening to the Chilcot Inquiry, which is proving more fascinating by the day, that there were questions about whether there were Weapons of Mass Destruction. In which case, obvious points arise. Why was the matter not referred back to [UN weapons inspector] Hans Blix to take a longer look before we engaged in a war? Why did nobody go back to the United Nations seeking a proper resolution? Did the cabinet know that there were doubts about whether there were Weapons of Mass Destruction? The supisicoun arises that this was more about regime change than it was about Weapons of Mass Destruction. And there is a bit of history here which I-I'm not sure that many people have yet heard. When President Clinton was in office, America passed an act called the Iraq Liberation Act which committed the US to regime change long before President [George W.] Bush acutally came into power. We, of course, had no comparative law in this country. Some time, I think in the mid-90s, officials, not Presidnet Clinton, officials approached the UK to discuss ideas about regime change and my officials at that time replied that of course Saddam [Hussein] is a bad man and we need to get rid of him but that isn't the most important point. It has to be legal, it has to be viable and, crucially, what happens after you have removed him? After the 91 conflict many people were criticizi- critical of Geroge [H.W.] Bush and I for stopping. I think they now why we stopped [. . .] I think they now know why we stopped. Would have been illegal to go on and the moment that you go on, you have to run the country.

Violence continue in Iraq.


Li Xianzhi (Xinhua) reports 2 bombs today in Kirkuk which claimed the lives of 3 police officers and left five more wounded. AFP says the wounded toll has now reached eight. In addition, Reuters notes a car bombing outside of Mosul left eight people injured and a Mosul bombing that left five people injured. Anne Tang (Xinhua) reports the number wounded in the Mosul car bombing has now reached thirteen and that it was in "a popular marketplace in a predominately Christian town near the city of Mosul".


Reuters notes the Iraqi military shot dead 1 suspect.

USF announced the following: "BAGHDAD -- A United States Division - Baghdad Soldier died, Jan. 1, of non-combat related injuries. The Soldier's name is being withheld pending notification of next of kin. The names of service members are announced through the U.S. Department of Defense official website at The announcements are made on the Web site no earlier than 24 hours after notification of the service member's primary next of kin. The incident is under investigation." The announcement brings the total number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war to 4372. The Defense Dept identifed the fallen today as "Spc. Brushaun X. Anderson, 20, of Columbus, Ga.". Newport Television notes, "An initial press release from the Department of Defense said Spc. Anderson was attacked by an unknown assailant. A corrected release issued later omitted the reference to any assailant."

Hannah Allem (McClatchy Newspapers) reported last week "as of Friday, former president George W. Bush's 'coalition of the willing' formally ceased to exist, leaving only the U.S. military's 130,000 or so forces to shepherd their Iraqi counterparts through a volatile election". M-NF announced: "MNF-I is now United States Forces-Iraq, and we have moved!"

Sahwa haven't moved, they've just been abandoned. Sahwa ("Awakenings" and "Sons Of Iraq") are Sunni militias paid by the US military to stop attacking the US military and its equipment. In 2008, Nouri was supposed to take over the monthly payments (US tax payers were paying approximately 92,000 Sahwas $300 a month) but he couldn't get it together. Still couldn't in Februrary. In the summer he reported finally managed to absorb all the payments (reportedly? there's still no accounting for CERP funds). He's not bringing them in and there are rumors they get kicked off the payroll this month.
Michael Gisick (Stars and Stripes) reports attacks on Sahwa are on the rise with the US military estimating an average of ten attacks a week in the last two months:The killing of several members of the U.S.-allied Sunni militias known as "Sons of Iraq" has underscored the increasing weakness of groups widely credited with helping turn the tide of the Iraq war. About a dozen members of the groups have been killed in the rural areas south of Baghdad in recent weeks, U.S. military officials say. Similar attacks have occurred elsewhere, including the execution-style killing of five SOI members north of Baghdad on Tuesday. Karim Zair (Azzaman) reports today that mass arrests are taking place "in Sunni Muslim-dominated neighborhoods of Baghdad and towns and cities to the north and west of the capital".

Meanwhile the decision by Judge Ricardo Urbina (
announced Thursday) to toss out the case against Blackwater for the September 2007 massacre as a result of the Justice Department basing much of their case on statements the contractors gave to the US State Dept -- statements given after the men were told anything they said would not be used against them -- has the Baghdad based government or 'government' enraged. The Iraqi government or 'government' of Nouri al-Maliki is still publicly stamping feet. RTE News notes they are 'outraged' over the decision by Judge Ricardo Urbina. (There's nothing outrages with Urbina's decision. Prosecutorial abuse or misconduct is always supposed to be punished.) Alsumaria TV reports the rag-tag Parliament actually managed to avoid insulting each other as they bonded over mutual 'outrage' over the Urbina's decision. And, no, Urbina did not dismiss over "procedural errors." The joke that is 'justice' in Iraq might be less so if media outlets could get their facts right. If someone is told that their statements cannot be used to prosecute them, then their statements cannot be used to prosecute them. It's that damn simple. Nouri's grandstanding as well. Rebecca Santana (AP) reports he declared today, "We have done what is necessary to protect our citizens and to punish those who committed the crime and we have formed committees and filed a lawsuit against Blackwater security firm either in America or Iraq." Big words from Little Nouri. The slaughter took place in September of 2007. After the judge's decision, the foot stamping began and it was decided, "Blackwater get out!" That decision's way too late, by too many years, for Nouri to effectively grandstand. In the US, the big surprise is that there aren't calls for the Justice Dept to be punished, for heads to roll. Yesterday, CNN interviewed Ali al-Dabbagh, Nouri's spokesperson, today and he insisted that not only did Iraq plan to appeal the dismissal. al-Dabbagh's attempt to pose as shocked might have more power were it not for the fact that he also threatened to expell Black water, "Instructions have been given to check if there is any Blackwater member [in the country]. I advise him to leave Iraq and not to stay in Iraq anymore.' Oh, now? Now you want Blackwater (trying to rebrand as Xe) out? Now? After a judge's decision? But not after the shooting massacre in which 17 Iraqis were killed? Over two years after that, you want to hop the high horse and demand that they leave? These are among the reasons some Iraqi people do not feel the Baghdad government or 'government' represents them. For those just returning from a long holiday weekend, Josh Gerstein (Politico -- text and audio) reported on Judge Urbina's decision (and Gerstein's link is to a PDF document, FYI):
"In their zeal to bring charges against the defendant[s] in this case, the prosecutors and investigators aggressively sought out statements the defendants had been compelled to make to government investigators in the immediate aftermath of the shooting and in the subsequent investigation," Urbina wrote in a 90-page opinion
released Thursday afternoon.
"In so doing, the government's trial team repeatedly disregarded the warnings of experienced, senior prosecutors, assigned to the case specifically to advise the trial team on [such] issues, that this course of action threatened the viability of the prosecution. The government used the defendants' compelled statements to guide its charging decision, to formulate its theory of the case, to develop investigatory leaders and, ultimately, to obtain the indictment in this case," Urbina wrote.

I weighed in with
my opinion Friday morning (short version: "If the government -- with all its powers and its unlimited budgets -- can't make a solid case without using statements that were never supposed to be used in court, the government never should have brought the charges forward.").

If you're just coming back from the long holiday weekend, a number of year-end pieces posted last week:
Kat's "Kat's Korner: 2009 in music" and Ruth's "Ruth's Report" and Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Brownie Approved" and his "The 2010 Plan" went up Friday. Kat's "Kat's Korner: The decade in music" and "2009 in books (Martha & Shirley)" went up Thursday and "Reflecting on 2009 (Beth)" posted on Sunday. In addition, Ann's "2009 in DVDs" and Stan's "DVDs of 2009" (joint-post) looks at DVDs. I did "The Year of Living Sickly" Friday and Trina examines the economy in "The economy," Marcia the 'message' sent to the LGBT community in "What I learned this year" and Rebecca notes how the sexism came from the top in "the 2009 take-away."

NOW on PBS begins airing on most PBS stations Friday (check local listings):

President Obama is sending as many as 30,000 more troops to combatTaliban and al Qaeda forces in Afghanistan this year, but are we missingthe true target? On Friday, January 8 at 8:30 pm (check local listings),NOW reports directly from Pakistan's dangerous and pivotal border withAfghanistan, where Pentagon war planners acknowledge many of the enemyfighters and their leaders are based. The U.S. has been relying onPakistan to act against Taliban militants there, but the Pakistaniarmy's commitment is in question. NOW takes you to the true front lines for an eye-opening, inside lookyou haven't seen before, and won't soon forget.

al jazeera
inside iraq
jasim al-azzawi
the news tribunescott fontaine
the new york timesjohn lelandafpassad abboudthe guardianmartin chulovthe times of londonalice fordham
mcclatchy newspapershannah allem
bbc newstodaywales news
cnnstars and stripesmichael gisickthe daily expressrichard palmer
politicojosh gerstein
pbsnow on pbs