Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year

Happy New Year's Eve. "Kat's Korner: Mystic Melanie" went up this morning. That was the one more review I wanted to get in. It's a review of Melanie's Ever Since You Never Heard of Me -- her latest album. I really love this album. I'd hoped to do a review last weekend or the one before but there just wasn't time. There almost wasn't time now. But I made it.

I still have to write my year-in-review on music. I'll do that later tonight, after I've partied too hard and drank too much. I don't know when it will go up because I'll write it in long hand and work on it until I'm done or crash. If it's the latter, it'll probably go up late Saturday.

I did not post Thursday. I wasn't the only one. Wally, Cedric and Isaiah also did not. The four of us agreed to post on Friday or Saturday -- agreed amongst ourselves -- because we knew that if everyone in the community -- except C.I. and Third -- stopped posting on Thursday, some community members would feel let down.

Be sure to read Marcia's "2010 in Page Turners" and Rebecca's "2010 in page turners" look at the best in books you can't put down and also Ann's "10 Best DVDs of 2010" and Stan's "10 Best DVDs of 2010" on their picks for best DVDs of the year.

Marcia and Rebecca have me interested in checking out this Steve McQueen book and I really want to see Salt and Tetro as a result of Ann and Stan's joint-piece. I don't see that many movies as it is. I should see more but who has the time. I really wanted to see Salt at the movies this summer. It struck me as a real pop corn film and I could see going in on a hot day, buying a big bucket of pop corn and a huge soda and sitting down in the back -- back row -- to watch that film in the cool of the air conditioning. But there was just never time.

I used to see most of the films that came out in the Bay Area each year -- that's big and small films -- and that's a lot of films. But since 2005, I really haven't had that kind of time. And since 2006, I've been on the road.

Victor Manuel Ramos and Emily C. Dooley (Newsday) report that 41-year-old Iraq War veteran Bill McKenna died Tuesday "at a Florida hospice from a rare form of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma that his family, doctor and the Department of Veterans Affairs said was linked to his exposure to toxic fumes from one of the military's burn pits -- where anything from regular garbage to plastic refuse and feces were routinely burned at bases in Iraq." From the article:

Military agencies could not be reached Friday for comment. The Tampa Tribune reported earlier this week that the Veterans Affairs Department has linked McKenna's cancer to the burn pits.

Besides his wife and father, McKenna is survived by two daughters, Katelynn, 13, and Sabrina, 5; his mother, Kathleen McKenna, of Pensacola, Fla.; and his brother, Brett McKenna, of Philadelphia.

Visiting hours are from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. Sunday at Johnstons' Wellwood Funeral Home, 305 N. Wellwood Ave. in Lindenhurst.

And here's something that really ticks me off, Newsday let's you rate articles on a star basis with four being the best. Who would rate the story of this man's death as not worth reading? I have no idea. Maybe KBR and people responsible for the burn pits? Regardless, the article was one-star. I voted four-star.

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

Thursday, December 30, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, Iraqi Christians continue to be targeted, Kurdistan beefs up security ahead of New Year's Eve, IVAW announces a February event, and more.
December 25th, KRG President Masoud Barzani issued the following statement, "I would like to reiterate the importance of peaceful co-existence and religious tolerance in Iraq and call on the federal government to make the protection of Christians and religious sites a priority. We will always defend the rights of the Christian community and we repeat that the Kurdistan Region is open to embrace the displaced Christians." It's a fairly clear statement.

And Christmas did take place, was publicly celebrated in the KRG. They beefed up security, there were no known attacks on Iraqi Christians. Nathan Deuel (Daily Beast) reported from Erbil, "It's Christmas morning in northern Iraq, and the parishioners of St. Joseph's Church are emerging from their homes into the bright desert sunlight. With two Iraqi friends, I drive along narrow avenues decorated with twinkling lights and the occasional inflatable Santa. We pass a clutch of men wearing bright sweaters, pressed slacks, and loafters. A trio of women breaks into tight smiles; one is wearing a red skirt with a band of white snowflakes. We round the corner, and we're surprised to see that a shimmering tanker truck is blocking the road to the church. Frowning men in uniform wave their arms. As one of the largest Christian centers of worship in Erbil, the capital of the Kurdish autonomous zone in northern Iraq, the church is a potential target. We're urged to park down the block. But high security is better than nothing at all."

How is Barzani able to do to that over three provinces and Nouri can't even secure the city of Baghdad? In what world does that make sense?

Janet Ritz (Huffington Post) interviewed Qubad Talabani, the KRG's US representative and the son of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani. Excerpt:

In Iraqi Kurdistan, nationalism is the common belief in a distinctly pluralistic society where the Kurds have opened their gates to Iraqi Christians seeking refuge from extremist violence.
"We've had this welcoming policy [to Iraqi Christians];" Mr. Talabani explains; "we've probably settled in Kurdistan 12,000 to 15,000 Christian families and, regrettably, hundreds of thousands have left Iraq altogether. Those who've chosen not to leave Iraq have resettled in Kurdistan."
They've shown the same tolerance toward other religious minorities. Problems, when they do arise, are cultural in nature. Mr. Talabani was candid about the challenges faced by women in their rural regions, with crimes of honor killings and female genital mutilation, on which, he said, Kurdistan, unlike other parts of the Middle East, reports and has begun work to stop. It won't be easy. In the male dominated culture that exists in the rural areas, he points out that it will take religious leaders and village elders to change the practices. There's been some progress in those efforts, including a statement by the Kurdish Islamic authority to condemn the practices, but, as he said, "we can't shy away" from the problem. There's more work to be done.

Long targeted throughout the endless and illegal Iraq War, Iraqi Christians have faced a new wave of persecution which began October 31st with the attack on Our Lady of Salvation Church in Baghdad. Attacks have continued in Baghdad and Mosul forcing many Iraqis to flee. Some have gone to the KRG, others have left the country. J. Lee Grady (Charisma) looks back at the "Top Spiritual Trends of 2010" and notes, "The Open Doors organization says the 'religicide' of Christians in Iraq today is similar to what happened to Iraqi Jews in 1941." Maria Mackay (Christian Today) reports:

Barnabas Fund recently received a letter from an Iraqi archbishop warning that Christians were too afraid to leave their homes. The very real threat of being killed in broad daylight is making it difficult to do the very practical things like shopping and, more importantly, going to work.
The international director of Barnabas Fund, Dr Patrick Sookhdeo, said: "It is like living in a prison camp. You could leave the house but you don't know what is going to happen. Because of the targeted attacks, there is a chance that Christians venturing out to work or onto the streets will be attacked or killed. The fear is effectively leaving Christians stranded in their homes."

Sunday AFP reported, "Iraqi Christians who survived the deadly storming of a Baghdad church attended a special Christmas mass on Sunday in France, where they were evacuated following the attack. [. . . Elish] Yako said at least five of the wounded have returned from France to Iraq and six are still in hospital, while others have applied for asylum. France has said it also plans a second evacuation flight for a further 93 Christians." Nick Vinocur (Reuters) reports on the sour grapes of Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project (the lack of leadership currently at that organization was never more obvious) and the UNHCR over France taking in victims ofthe October 31st attack. The two go down to the whine cellar and emerge with a chardonnay of green-eyed bitchery. Bitter Becca Heller, IRAP, whines that it's just not fair to everyone that France took in Iraqi Christians. Grow the hell up. A spectacular attack on a house of worship resulted in France offering medical help and asylum. It's not at all surprising, it's not 'discriminatory' towards others. It was spectacular attack like nothing anyone was prepared for or expected. France's offer was not at all different from those reaching out to the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Little whiny asses need to stop their carping. Instead of whining over what someone else did, maybe the two organizations might try doing something of their own. Because what the world's seeing is the United Nations repeatedly stating that it is not safe to return to Iraq but unble to halt the forced deportations of Iraqi refugees in Europe back to Iraq. And IRAP? The US-based organization has had no impact on US policies. So instead of whining over what the government of France did -- a noble thing to reach out to any community after an attack -- the two organizations might try sobering up, rolling up their sleeves and getting to work on a real issue.
Monday Reuters reported a Dujail roadside bombing claimed the life of 1 "Christian woman and wounded her husband." That alone makes Becca Heller and company look like idiots but why stamp a fool with "IDIOT" on the forehead just once when you can do so repeatedly? BBC News reports that Baghdad was slammed with bombings targeting the homes of Iraqi Christians today leaving 2 people dead and fourteen wounded. Michael Christie and Matthew Jones (Reuters) note the number injured has risen to "at least 16" and note "Iraqi Christian leaders say they fear Sunni Islamist al Qaeda wants to drive them out of the country." David Batty (Guardian) offers this perspective, "The grenade and bomb attacks came a week after Islamist militants linked to al-Qaida threatened a wave of violence against Iraq's beleaguered Christian community." Xinhua adds, "The attacks occurred in different parts of Baghdad at night, the first roadside bomb exploded near the house of a Christian in the Ghadeer neighborhood southeast Baghdad, killing two and wounding three, the source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity. Al Jazeera notes, "Al Jazeera's Rawya Rageh reports from Baghdad that the ten explosions took place outside as well as in the yards of Christian homes across Baghdad. She said the attacks were 'not simultaneous but clearly appeared to be coordinated'. The attackers used a combination of grenades and simple homemade bombs. In at least two cases, police arriving on the scene found additional unexploded bombs." Jacques Clement (AFP) reports, "The attacks started at 7:30 pm and continued over two hours in six different parts of the capital as the Christian community still reels from a massacre at a Baghdad cathedral on October 31 in which 44 worshippers and two priests died." BBC News provides this analysis: "The BBC's Jim Muir in Baghdad said the bombs were not big by Baghdad standards, but the message was clear. He says that the Islamic militant group affiliated to al-Qaeda which said it carried out the deadly attacks in October had warned that there would be more to come." John Leland and Omar al-Jawoshy (New York Times) quote Noor Isam stating, "We will love Iraq forever, but we have to leave it immediately to survive. I would ask the government, 'Where is the promised security for Christians'?" Yeah, where is that security? Why is it so difficult for Nouri to deliver on what he promised? Especially when Baghdad's been walled off into sections and checkpoints? (Checkpoints Nouri's considering eliminating.)
In other violence, Reuters notes a Baghdad rocket attack left three people injured and that 1 man was shot dead at his Kirkuk home.
Yesterday, Saman Basharati (Rudaw) reports that 1,000 peshmerga (Kurdish forces) have been sent to the city due to rumors "of a military coup" and "This is the first time since 2003 that a top Kurdish official has acknowledged the threat to Kurdish politicians of a military coup." Today Shamal Aqrawi (Reuters) reports that security is being beefed up in Kurdistan ahead of New Year's Eve out of concern that attacks may be planned, " It remained an oasis of relative calm while the rest of Iraq descended into sectarian bloodshed after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion. There are few blast walls protecting buildings from bomb attacks and residents can stay out after dark and frequent restaurants and clubs. It has become a gateway to investing in Iraq, with shopping centres, hotels and a booming real estate sector." Meanwhile the conflicts between Iraq's neighbors Iran and Saudi Arabia continue as Iran's state-run outlet Press TV works overtime to encourage a Shi'ite - Arab split. Press TV reports that Fawzi Tarzi, a Moqtada al-Sadr acolate, is isnisting that Saudi Arabia supports terrorism in Iraq and quotes the Iraqi National Alliance's Mohammed Hussein stating, "We should seal our borders with Saudi Arabia to hold the flow of terrorism." And Iran's state-run media also serves up Wisam al-Bayati (link has text and video) with the assertion that Saudi Arabia is "snubbing" Iraq's government out of Baghdad because many in it are Shi'ite.
For realities about Iraq, an upcoming Iraq Veterans Against the War event should provide many:

February 25, 2011

9:30-10:30 am

Busboys & Poets,

Langston room

14th & V st NW

Washington DC

This report back will be to answer questions from media and the peace movement about the recent trip back to Iraq by members of Iraq Veterans Against the War.

The war is not over but it is not the same as it was in years past.

What is the humanitarian situation in Iraq?

How can we do reparations and reconciliation work?

Speakers are all returning from this delegation and include:

Geoff Millard (IVAW)

Hart Viges (IVAW)

Haider Al-Saedy (Iraqi Health Now)

Richard Rowely (Big Noise Films)

Meanwhile two papers weigh in that the US needs to leave Iraq. The editorial board of the Orange County Register argues, "We argued from the beginning, nearly eight years ago, that the invasion of Iraq was a mistake, and the prolonged U.S. occupation seems to have led to an Iraq that is more shaky than stable and has serious tolerance problems, leading, for example, to most Iraqi Christians fleeing the country. For better and for worse, however, it is time to allow Iraqis to handle these Iraqi problems. The U.S. should continue to withdraw troops on schedule and allow historians of the future to weigh the pluses and minuses of our misadventure in Iraq." The Pensacola News Journal's editorial board opines, "Frankly, we figure the future of Iraq lies in an increasingly authoritarian government that, while mild by Middle East dictatorship standards, will hopefully also be reasonably secular and relatively democratic. Meanwhile, the terrorists will continue to set off bombs, the Shiites and Sunnis will continue to scratch and claw for power, and the Kurds will try to stay out of it under independent governance. For the United States, the best outcome will be if Iraq keeps arm's-length from Iran and succeeds in greatly expanding oil exports, which frankly we believe was the point all along, no matter all the rhetoric we were spoon fed about spreading democracy, etc."

"We want to end the war now!" hollered Barack Obama to the Cult of St. Barack at the many tent revivals during the 2008 Democratic Party primaries. He used double speak and made promises he had no intention of keeping -- as Samantha Power pointed out to the BBC in March of 2008 -- and he's become the War Hawk Supreme and fraudlent in so many ways. Peace Mom Cindy Sheehan examines who Barack allows redemption for and whom he refuses it to:
I believe prisons should be rehabilitative and not punitive, but was justice served and did Michael Vick pay his debt to society for his horrendous crimes? Is he redeemed? Of course, what he did was heinous and inhumane and thinking about it fills me with disgust, but our president is not similarly conflicted. On Sunday, from Hawaii, Obama reportedly called Jeffrey Lurie, owner of the Eagles and huge donor to Barack Obama and other Democrats to "thank" him for giving Vick a "second chance."
Hmmm -- "Second chances" are almost miraculous for some people and impossible for others. One similar call could take Mumia off of death row, or pardon railroaded defense attorney, Lynne Stewart, or get Pvt. Bradley Manning out of his inhumane imprisonment (this list could fill a book, I am afraid, so I'll stop now).
Also, a study by the Independent Committee on Reentry and Employment, for example, found that up to 60% of ex-cons in New York was still unemployed one year after release. Stats on this are difficult to find, like most statistics on unemployment (which only count those that are receiving unemployment checks, or applying for them), but I am almost 100% sure that 100% of the 60% are not Michael Vicks or fictional, Gordon Gekkos, looking for multi-million dollar salary scores after incarceration. Most certainly, many of these "ex-cons" looking for work didn't commit as heinous of a crime as Vick did, either, but that's something we can only speculate on.
Lastly Jeff Gates (at Dissident Voice) wonders why money continues to be poured into the wars when it could address energy needs:
With the U.S. humbled in Iraq, mired in Afghanistan and in danger of being drawn into Iran, is it time to replace aggression with development and firepower with solar power?
With extremism the new enemy, what's our best defense? What if the U.S. projected its power by defending against the indignities of energy poverty and illiteracy?
Absent a strategy for addressing the roots of human indignity, it's not clear that the war on terrorism can be won. Energy poverty is a war we know how to win.
Parents of children using solar-powered LED lights report how their grades improve when they have light for studying. While that's not enough, it's a good start.
Can the U.S. afford not to embrace a solar defense? If not literacy, what is the best long-term defense against extremism? For $12, a solar-powered LED system can power a desk lamp and a phone charger.
the daily beast
nathan deuel
the huffington post
janet ritz
j. lee grady
christian today
maria mackay
al jazeera
rawya rageh
the new york times
john leland
bbc news
jim muir
the orange county register
the pensacola news journal
press tv
wisam al-bayati
cindy sheehan

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Janis goes to Japan

Tour Dates

click on any date for full information
click again to close that date

All tour dates updated on December 21, 2010

more tour dates

That's Janis Ian's tour schedule for 2011 so far. That should be a fun tour (and I'm sure more dates will be added -- there's no way the Road Queen's calling that her entire tour of 2011) especially in Japan where there was no 'slow' period for Janis' career.

I always wonder about stuff like that. For example, Diana Ross. She's still hugely popular in England and has charted there much longer than here. Her last pop hit in this country was "Chain Reaction" in 1986 and it was a minor pop hit here but that was a huge, huge hit in England. (I believe number one.) And she's continued to chart in England.

Do the British appreciate Diana more than we do because she's foreign? Do we take Diana for granted because she's native to us?

And I wonder that about Janis. But knowing less about Japanese audiences, I also wonder if the Japanese are just more loyal period? Not just with Janis, but with all their favorites?

In the US, for example, we need new, we must have new, if we don't get new, we will have the shakes.

We really don't stand by many -- if any -- for that long.

What I don't wonder? Janis in concert. I've noted before, she's an incredible live performer and the concert is like breathing, she's got you in the palm of her hand and she's going to turn it into a real experience. So never miss Janis if she's got a concert near you. (And if you're really lucky -- or loud -- maybe she'll do "All Those Promises" which, more and more, seems like one of the greatest songs she's ever written and certainly one of her most magical performances.) (Loud? Well you could be one of those annoying concert goers who, every time it gets quiet, yells out, "Sing ___!" over and over.) (No, you really don't want to be that person.)

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

Tuesday, December 28, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, a US soldier is wounded in a bombing, the Speaker of Parliament discloses his finances and urges others to do the same, Nouri says the SOFA stands (and then adds it stands unless it's replaced with a new SOFA), some Baghdad checkpoints may be pulled, the Nineveh governor faces calls to step down, what of the responsibilities of Progressives For Obama, and more.
On this week's Law and Disorder Radio (began airing Monday on WBAI and around the country thorughout the rest of the week), hosts Michael S. Smith and Michael Ratner spoke with Nellie Hester Baily, co-founder of the Harlem Tenants Council and co-host of Black Agenda Radio (Progressive Radio) with Glen Ford (Black Agenda Report) and the hose of WHCR's Inside Housing. Excerpt.
Nellie Hester Bailey: You are undoubtedly aware of the letter that originated with, I think his name is Paul Halle [John Halle]. He is a professor at Bard College. And this letter was sent out almost a month ago and it called upon basically the Progressive for Obama -- i.e. Bill Fletcher, Tom Hayden, Barbara Ehrenreich to look at Obama for what he is and, in fact, called upon them specifically to support the December 15th action Veterans for Peace, that was in Washington, DC, there was a demonstration in front of the White House about 131 people were arrested in that protest. [. . .] And Halle wants to get about 5,000 signators on that letter. He has close to 4,000 now. The response from Tom Hayden has been rather visceral: 'Who are you to talk to me like this?' Bill Fletcher is very upset. Yet they continue in this vein of Progressives for Obama to support his policy and not pull him back because what we need most of all for poor and working people and, in particular, African-Americans is for the blinders to be pulled off so that people can see actually what it is that we are dealing with and that President Barack Obama is no longer sugar coated as "the historic first," "he's our Black president,' 'no matter what he does, we're going to support him' when at the same time, as we see the collapse of the empire -- and I think there is an inevitability in all of that when you look at the unstatainable wars that we are engaged in, when you look at the move to the right domestically with that of the Republican agenda which means more civil rights oppression against the populace here, when you look at the economic demise of so many Americans which is why White America is so upset -- because they're standard of living has declined dramatically, when you look at the recent report, I believe, from the Center for Disease Control that now we have more than a 50% increase in the number of people who are uninsured [PDF format warning, click here]. And when you look at all of these factors and the work force has been reduced, we are expected to work long hours, we are expected to retire later in life. In fact, we are being worked to death and our kids are being sent to war, and, if you are an immigrant and if you want the Dream Act, if you want to become an American citizen, then prove to us that you are willing to die and, if you do die, then we will grant you citizenship. These are the realities, the undeniable realities that we are looking at when we look at and when we embrace the Obama administration. Now, what it is that we can do, we can support the initiatives of Halle, we can put those strattling liberal progressives on the sideline by saying, "You no longer can lull the people, or herd the people like sheep, into this nightmare of compromise which in fact is our demise from the Obama adminsitration. What we can do, and this is a big problem we have in the African-American community because upon his election, one noted activist here in New York City said, 'You know President Obama gave us a wink-and-a-nod. You know, he knows, he knows. And we can expect the best out of him. And Michelle is going to make him do right. And Michelle will do --" I mean, this soap opera scenario and day dreaming which is just incomprehensible and particularly when you look at the left, we're talking about the Marxist left, that there was no class and race analysis about this man's presidency. How can one call themselves and declare themselves a Marxist and you support President Barack Obama? How is that possible? What was the failure of the left? Why was the left so blinded by this 'historic first'? 'First African-American president.' Well we had --
Michael Smith: You had Colin Powell, you had Condoleeza Rice --
Nellie Hester Bailey: We had Colin Powell, we had Condoleeza Rice as the first and we saw what fruit that bore. It was not a good fruit.
Michael Ratner: So why do you think it happened? I mean, I understand. Really your analysis is quite clear, quite sharp and one could even argue that the powers-that-be got Obama in to essentially supress the progressive movement and the African-American community --
Nellie Hester Bailey: Absolutely.
Michael Ratner: -- that would have actually diverted it and it created this whole tension about should we do this or not. But why do you think people missed it so much? Particularly, there are a lot of good people who you know. Your friends who were certainly on the fence if not worse in terms of their thinking this was going to be the great savior.
Nellie Hester Bailey: I-I'm at a loss. I mean, when you look at people whom I love dearly -- Amiri Baraka, I mean how do you explain that?
Michael Ratner: That one's a hard one.
Nellie Hester Bailey: Fletcher? Nnnnnhhh -- he straddled the fence here and there. Nnnnhhh, you know you can, okay. But people like Baraka? Some of the other noted left wingers, a long history, tradition of Marxist analysis -- How is that possible? One of the excuses we heard was, "Well the people are for him, we don't want to display this vanguard elitism." These forces, Progressives for Obama, need to step back and realize their responsibility to building a working class people, multi-racial movement to take on this system that is declining, that is in collapse, it is not sustainable. We see the desperation every single day. And it seems to me that if they cannot wake up at this point, then a large part of the movement that we're trying to build, that Michael talked about, we saw it from the very beginning, that you're talking about, that others are talking about, that we are all going to be doomed not unless conditions force the populace into the streets as we are seeing in Ireland, as we are seeing in England, as we are seeing throughout Europe, as we are seeing in Greece, as we're seeing in France. And if conditions don't drive people into the street, that there comes a point that they can no longer tolerate the assault on their lives and their civil liberties, then we are in fact doomed and I'm not too optimistic. But, as Che said, if you are a revolutionary, then we are full of optimism. So I am optimistic but it is a hard road ahead of us.
Also on this week's broadcast, Michael Ratner and Michael S. Smith discussed political prisoner Lynne Stewart. The child of Brooklyn grew up to be the people's attorney -- called that because she took the cases of those targeted and those in need. Sometimes she was the only one who would take the cases. As she declared at an anti-war rally in March 2005, the government was targeting her for "what I have been doing for the last 30 years, organizing and defending people who need to be defended, and nothing to do with the 'T' word." The 'T' word being terrorism. Lynne is an attorney. She is now in prison. Not for breaking a law because guidelines aren't laws and because the Justice Dept cannot pass laws (though they can make guidelines). Lynne's 'crime' was issuing a press release. As Peter Daniels (WSWS) reported in real-time on Lynne's 2005 trial, "The government's case was based on illegal spying on confidential attorney-client communications. The prosecution presented as evidence tape-recorded phone conversations and prison visits. The charge was that Stewart, who had been forced to agree to draconian rules restricting [Sheik Omar] Abdel Rahman's communications with the outside world, had nevertheless relayed messages to the media from the imprisoned cleric. The politicl character of the charges against Stewart was clear from the beginning. Although the heart of the government's case deals with a May 2000 meeting between Stewart and her client at the Federal Medical Center in Rochester, Minnesota, nothing was done about this until six months after the September 11 attacks." If you're late to the charges, Elaine Cassel (Find Law) covered the charges and what they meant for the future in this 2002 column. and, in this February 14, 2005 column, she's covering the verdict. In July of this year it was decided her sentence was too 'easy' and she was re-sentenced. Michael S. Smith (at Monthly Review) wrote about the re-sentencing. As Fight Back! News notes, "Stewart is a 71-year old breast cancer survivor who was jailed for her work as a lawyer representing Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman, also known as the 'Blind Sheikh.' Abdel-Rahman was accused of plotting the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Stewart has a long career as a human rights champion, defending the poor, the oppressed and the unpopular, who rarely get good legal representation or a fair trial." Petra Bartosiewicz (Los Angeles Times) observed last July that "Stewart's plight has larger implications for us all: It is a bellwether of the increasingly stringent secrecy and security measures imposed in federal courts, particularly in terrorism trials -- all part of the systemic erosion of due process that reformers expected would end with the election of Barack Obama, but which has been only further institutionalized. Stewart's case has come to symbolize the increasing difficulty attorneys face in zaelously advocating for politically unpopular clients -- a necessary component of due process in an adversary legal system." Ruth and Mike covered Michael Ratner and Michael S. Smith's discussion of the latest Lynne news, she's been moved from New York (where her family is) to Texas. We'll note this letter from Lynne posted at her website:

Dear Folks:

Some nuts and bolts and trivia

1 New Address
Lynne Stewart
Federal Medical Center, Carswell
53504 – 054
Unit 2N
PO Box 27137
Fort Worth TEXAS 76127

2 Visiting is very liberal but first I have to get people on my visiting list Wait til I or the lawyers let you know. The visits are FRI, SAT, SUN AND MON for 4 hours and on weekends 8 to 3. Bring clear plastic change purse with lots of change to buy from the machines. Brief Kiss upon arrival and departure, no touching or holding during visit (!!) On visiting forms it may be required that you knew me before I came to prison. Not a problem for most of you.

3. One hour time difference

4. Commissary Money is always welcome It is how I pay for the phone and for email. Also need it for a lot that prison doesn't supply in terms of food and "sundries" (pens!) A very big list that includes Raisins, Salad Dressing , ankle sox, mozzarella (definitely not from Antonys–more like a white cheddar, Sanitas Corn Chips but no Salsa etc. To add money, you do this by using Western Union and a credit card by phone or you can send a USPO money order or Business or Govt Check. The negotiable instruments (PAPER!) need to be sent to Federal Bureau of Prisons , 53504-054, Lynne Stewart, PO Box 474701, Des Moines Iowa 50947-001 (Payable to Lynne Stewart, 53504-054) They hold the mo or checks for 15 days. Western Union costs $10 but is within 2 hours. If you mail, your return address must be on the envelope. Unnecessarily complicated ? Of course, it's the BOP !)

5. Food is vastly improved. Just had Sunday Brunch real scrambled eggs, PORK sausage, Baked or home fried potatoes, Butter(sweet whipped M'God !!) Grapefruit juice Toast , orange. I will probably regain the weight I lost at MCC! Weighing against that is the fact that to eat we need to walk to another building (about at far as from my house to the F Train) Also included is 3 flights of stairs up and down. May try to get an elevator pass and try NOT to use it.

6. In a room with 4 bunks(small) about two tiers of rooms with same with "atrium" in middle with tv sets and tables and chairs. Estimate about 500 on Unit 2N and there are 4 units. Population Black, Mexicano and other spanish speaking (all of whom iron their underwear, Marta), White, Native Americans (few), no orientals or foreign speaking caucasians–lots are doing long bits, victims of drugs (meth etc) and boyfriends. We wear army style (khaki) pants with pockets tee shirts and dress shirts long sleeved and short sleeved. When one of the women heard that I hadn't ironed in 40 years, they offered to do the shirts for me. (This is typical of the help I get–escorted to meals and every other protection, explanations, supplies, etc. Mostly from white women.) One drawback is not having a bathroom in the room—have to go about 75 yards at all hours of the day and night –clean though.

7 Final Note–the sunsets and sunrises are gorgeous, the place is very open and outdoors there are pecan trees and birds galore (I need books for trees and birds (west) The full moon last night gladdened my heart as I realized it was shining on all of you I hold dear.

Love Struggle


Michael Ratner urged that people send letters, send books and Lynne's enjoying the birds in that region and asking for books about birds of the south. Michael S. Smith quoted her telling him, "I'm walking out of here." Both men noted that she sounded hopeful and optimistic. From the crazy that keeps Lynne wrongly behind bars to the crazy that is the Iraq War.
Ride out
any old way you please!
In this place everyone talks to his own mouth.
That's what it means to be crazy.
Those I loved best died of it --
the fool's disease.
-- "Flee On Your Donkey," written by Anne Sexton, from Live Or Die.
Sam Dagher (Wall St. Journal) reports on an interview he conducted with thug and prime minister Nouri al-Maliki. Were Dagher still working for the New York Times, the laughable report would never have been printed. You've had too many reports from too many reporters at that paper about the plans for 2012 for any of the nonsense printed without question to fly.

One example:

A majority of Iraqis -- and some Iraqi and U.S. officials -- have assumed the U.S. troop presence would eventually be extended, especially after the long government limbo. But Mr. Maliki was eager to draw a line in his most definitive remarks on the subject. "The last American soldier will leave Iraq" as agreed, he said, speaking at his office in a leafy section of Baghdad's protected Green Zone. "This agreement is not subject to extension, not subject to alteration. It is sealed."

Let's start with World Can't Wait's Debra Sweet being interviewed by Angela Keaton (Antiwar Radio).

Debra Sweet: And don't forget that the war in Iraq is not over. The occupation is as robust as ever. 50,000 -- you know, now they call the troops advisors or trainers -- they're still there with the full compliment of military equipment. They're still an occupying army. And all they've done is militarize some of the people under the control of the State Dept and those are the combat troops. Now, this is kind of incredible, run not by the Defense Dept but now by commanded by Hillary Clinton and the State Dept. This is what passes for an end of the occupation of Iraq: 17 military bases, huge numbers of private contractors that they don't even have to account for and reveal to us.

Debra's describing the widely reported -- and acknowledged -- plan for what happens if US soldiers have to 'leave' Iraq. In that case, they continue to stay but under the cover of the State Dept (and commanded not by Hillary but by the NSA -- which is why NSA has been in Iraq so much in 2010 -- but don't notice that, don't notice that the NSA has issued more statements on Iraq in 2010 -- and often issued from Baghdad -- than has the current US Ambassador to Iraq -- an ambassador who also has NSA ties).

But that's the back up. That's what the US government will do if they can't get an extension. Joe Biden thinks they'll get one, Robert Gates thinks it's probable, those are just some of the executive branch employees on the public record.

Nouri says it's not happening! Well for the Wall St. Journal that probably passes for 'reporting.' Away from it? Most would feel the need to note that Nouri made similar noises in 2006 -- before extending the UN mandate -- and in 2007 -- before extending the UN mandate. Only the Wall St. Journal would ignore pattern. Amy Goodman ignores pattern and fact check today on Democracy Now! as well but does add, "Maliki added that the timetable could be changed if Iraq and the US reach a new Status Of Forces Agreement, which would require parliamentary approval." Jason Ditz ( might have wanted to have stuck around for that last sentence before rendering an opinion. UPI also notes, "Maliki said the only way for any of the remaining 50,000 U.S. soldiers to stay beyond 2011 would be for the two nations to negotiate a new Status of Forces Agreement similar to the one concluded in 2008."
Meanwhile Fadel al-Nashmi (Niqash) provides a lack-of-character sketch of Nouri which includes: "Al-Naser Duraid, a political analyst, believes that, whereas after 2005, Maliki was keen to break from the legacy of his predecessor, al-Jaafari, which based on sectarianism and an absence of a national project, he has now abandoned this path." Duraid states, "Today, I am not sure if Maliki's behaviour is a tactic or a strategy. But I believe that the way he acted to retain power has shaken people's confidence in him." Looking back at the year, Michael Jansen (Irish Times) notes, "The Iraqi election campaign began with an all-out effort by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and the dominant Shia religious parties to prevent the secular Sunni Iraqiya bloc from gaining an appreciable number of seats in the national assembly in the March 7th election. When polling was deemed largely fair by local and foreign monitors, Maliki refused to accept being edged out of the first place by Iraqiya. It took eight months and intervention by Iran and the US to break the deadlock, caused by his drive to stay in office. Maliki succeeded, despite accusations of being a dictator, at the exepense of the credibility of the political system. Violence escalated, and increasing numbers of foreign fighters infiltrated Iraq to join al-Qaeda." Basaer News reports that the Association of Muslim Scholars accuses the Kurds of cooperating with "Zionists" in order to disrupt Iraq and that the Kurdish leaders "no longer represent the Kurdish people" and have abandoned the call for Kurdish rule.
DPA reports attacks in Mosul (a car bombing and an assault on police) have claimed 8 lives. Alsumaria TV reports that a Baquba bombing claimed the life of 1 child and left another person injured, a Baghdad bombing wounded a Foreign Ministry employee and a US patrol in Najaf was targeted with a bombing (no word on whether anyone was harmed -- US or Iraqi). Reuters adds an attack on a Tal Afar Iraqi military checkpoint resulted in the death of 1 Iraqi soldier and another left injured and, dropping back to last night, 1 employee of the Parliament was shot dead in Baghdad. That's 11 dead and three wounded in today's news cycle. In addtion, Reuters reports a Baghdad roadside bombing wounded 1 US soldier.
Rebecca Santana (AP) reports Nouri's ordered an examination of the 870 checkpoints in the city of Baghdad to determine whether any of them could be eliminated. At Inside Iraq, an Iraqi correspondent for McClatchy Newspapers adds, "I don't know how the authorities are going to specify the importance of the security checkpoints. When I meet with my friends, we almost agree that the security checkpoints do nothing but delaying people and causing traffic jams. Some of my friends who have military experiences believe strongly that 24 hours patrols can do better job than checkpoints. Hameed Jasim, 40 years factory manager served for more than 6 years in the former Iraqi army says 'I feel so worried whenever I reach a checkpoint because I always expect a suicide bombing because I know the insurgents target civilians.' Hameed believes that patrols can do better because they can watch all the roads not only the areas of the checkpoints." Additional checkpoints and Bremer walls was Nouri's 'solution' this month to the targeting of churches in Baghdad. Asia News quotes churchgoers stating, "The churches are like fortresses now and its difficult to pray as we should in them." October 31st kicked off the latest wave of attacks targeting Iraqi Christians as Our Lady of Salvation Church in Baghdad was attacked leaving approximately seventy dead and seventy more injured. Following that, Christians in Baghdad and Mosul were regularly targeted leading to a large number fleeing -- some to the Kurdistan Regional Government, some to bordering countries. Catholic Culture reports that the European Parliament President, Jerzy Buzek, declared today that he will "monitor the situation closely".
Hamid al-Zubaidi (Iraq Hurr) reports that last night in Mosul, the Presidency of the Conference of Nineveh, calls were made for the removal of the governor of Nineveh Province (Ethel Nujaifi also spelled Atheel al-Najafi). It's been a busy second half of the year for Nujaifi. In August, he was nearly assassinated, in September he condemned a US raid in Mosul and the arrests which followed, dubbing them "politically motivated," October saw further tensions between the Provincial Council and Nujaifi and that Nujaifi was angling for the post of Foreign Minister (Hoshyar Zebari had the post at that time and Zebari holds the post in last week's 'new' announced Cabinet) and, along with many other activities, he also helped delay the census. Last night in Mosul, Nujaifi was accused of overstepping his role and exceeding his powers due to various alleged abuses including the appointment of a mayor whom he allegedly has ties to. His brother is Osama Najafi who is the new Speaker of Parliament. New Sabah reports Osama Najafi is raising the issues of salaries in the Parliament -- Jalal Talabani's and the two vice presidents. As President of Iraq, Talabani's salary "is more than the salary of [US] President Barack Obama." It is agued that laws are needed to address this -- the same argument was made in the previous Parliament. Nujaifi, who surprised many by disclosing his own finances in a Monday Parliament session, is calling for other MPs and Cabinet ministers to do the same.
Turning to the US, Byron Pitts (CBS News) reports on service members who were stop-lossed that "fewer than half of those eligible have received the funds [. . .] just 69,000 of the 145,000 eligible servicemen and women have filed and received payment." Stop-loss is the backdoor draft. Those thinking their service contracts were ending are informed by the military that, no, they're not. Though no one's explored this aspect in this year's coverage, when the person stop-lossed was not an American citizen, the law was violated. Those who were stop-lossed and were not US citizens at the time should consider seeking legal advice on what their options are if they are now citizens (if they have not become US citizens, they are welcome to consider suing but they should be aware that the most likely response from the government would be deportation).

Since so few have applied for the funds, the deadline has again been extended. The US Army announces:

The deadline for eligible servicemembers, veterans and their beneficiaries to apply for Retroactive Stop Loss Special Pay has been extended to March 4, 2011, Defense Department officials announced today.
The deadline extension is included in the continuing resolution bill that President Barack Obama signed Dec. 21, providing funding for federal government operations through March 4.
Congress established the retroactive pay to compensate military members who served involuntary extensions or whose retirement was suspended between Sept. 11, 2001, and Sept. 30, 2009. Eligible members and their beneficiaries are required to submit a claim to their respective military service to receive the benefit of $500 for each full or partial month served in stop-loss status.
The services estimate 145,000 servicemembers, veterans and beneficiaries are eligible. Because most of those eligible had separated from the military, the services have engaged in persistent outreach efforts throughout the year.
Efforts, including direct mail, engaging military and veteran service organizations, social networks and media outlets, will continue throughout the period of eligibility, Defense Department officials said.

Monday, December 27, 2010

David Bowling, correct your damn errors

Jay Lustig (New Jersey Star-Ledger) picks Joni Mitchell's "Urge for Going" as the song of the day. He explains why and also provides a video in case you're not familiar with the song. (It's not on any of Joni's studio albums. It first appears on a Joni album in the 90s with Hits.) In other music criticism, David Bowling (Blogcritics) looks back at the Mamas and the Papas' If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears:

The album is best remembered for two legendary singles that became huge hits. “California Dreamin’” remains one of the most recognizable pop songs of the era. Rolling Stone Magazine ranked it number 89 on their list of The 500 Greatest Songs Of All Time. The lush harmonies soar as the lyrics tell of a person longing for the warm weather of California. The song reached number four on the Billboard Magazine Pop Chart. “Monday Monday” is very similar in approach as the harmonies combine into a symphony of sound. The song would win a Grammy Award and reach number one of The United States Pop Charts. Both songs were written by John Phillips.

The cover songs were well chosen and expertly remade in the band's own image. The Lennon/McCartney song, “I Call Your Name,” features a classic Mama Cass vocal. “Spanish Harlem” demonstrates what a wonderful voice Denny Doherty possessed plus the background harmonies of Michelle Phillips and Mama Cass soar in support. The Turtles hit, “You Baby,” is reinvented as a pop classic. The gem is the old Bobby Freeman hit, “Do You Wanna Dance,” which is slowed down from an early rock ’n’ roll uptempo classic. It emerges as a beautiful pop creation.

Were I looking back on the album, I would have certainly included "Got A Feeling" which has some gorgeous harmonies that you don't hear anything remotely like from the group again until "Safe In My Garden" (The Papas & The Mamas). But that's opinion and we can disagree on that.

What we can't disagree on are the facts. "California Dreamin'" was written by John and Michelle Phillips. In a snit fit, John tried to insist he wrote it by himself. No. Doesn't work that way, can't rewrite history. (It was actually credited to John Phillips and Michelle Gilliam on the original album -- for some reason, Michelle, though married to John, was listed by her maiden name.) As C.I. would point out, considering that John took not only credit but royalties for a song he didn't co-write (Hedy West's "500 Miles") for years, it's all the more amazing that anyone would have believed him when he attempted to strip co-writing credit from Michelle.

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

Monday, December 27, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, Ramadi is slammed with bombings, questions remain about the 'new' and 'future' Iraq Nouri's in charge of, Camp Ashraf residents remain targeted, A.N.S.W.E.R. plans an action for the new year, John and Yoko see their work distorted, and more.
Matthew Rothschild (The Progressive) chose Christmas Day to 're-examine' "Happy X-Mas (War Is Over)" -- it's a shame he couldn't examine it to begin with. The song is "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)" and it is written by John Lennon and Yoko Ono -- click here for sheet music you can look at (and purchase if you want it). That's the writing credit, get it? Is too much for your damn sexist minds? If you need further proof consult this page of Beatles Bible. I'm not in the mood. This is one topic we have to address every year because some man's bound and determined to strip Yoko of her credit -- out of love for John, you understand. They think they loved him more than she did, knew him better than she did, probably feel they would have given him head better than she did. But let's review, Matthew Rothschild: (1) John Lennon AND Yoko Ono wrote the song and (2) it is not titled "So This Is Christmas (War Is Over)," it is titled "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)." Got it? If you think the song is important enough to write about, you need to get your facts straight. And it's exactly this sort of erasing of women from the conversation that leads The Progressive to be considered a sexist publication. (As noted before, I know Yoko. I also knew John. That is only one reason this pissed me off. I'm damn sick of women seeing their credits stripped away. I'm also offended when 'the press' wants to cover the arts but thinks because it's the arts that they don't have to get it right. No one asked you to cover it, you decided to. You're supposed to be a journalist, you need to apply some standards to your work. When a famous song that's decades old is one you can't even get the title of right -- after you make the choice to write about it -- that goes to sloppy journalism. There's no excuse for it.)

Though Matthew Rothschild didn't know him, Matthew is correct that John was no fool which is why John wouldn't have written the stupid column that Matthew did -- one that refuses to acknowledge the ongoing Iraq War. The Progressive is published out of Wisconsin. Is Rothschild unaware of the deployments of the Wisconsin National Guard including the most recent at the end of last month? We'll assume Matthew wasn't among those donating to replace the personal gear of 20 Wisconsin service members in the Madison-based (just like The Progressive!) Army Reserves 911th Forward Surgical Team in Iraq. And why is it that AP Deputy Managing Editor for Standards and Production Tom Kent can issue this in September:
Whatever the subject, we should be correct and consistent in our description of what the situation in Iraq is. This guidance summarizes the situation and suggests wording to use and avoid.
To begin with, combat in Iraq is not over, and we should not uncritically repeat suggestions that it is, even if they come from senior officials. The situation on the ground in Iraq is no different today than it has been for some months. Iraqi security forces are still fighting Sunni and al-Qaida insurgents. Many Iraqis remain very concerned for their country's future despite a dramatic improvement in security, the economy and living conditions in many areas.
As for U.S. involvement, it also goes too far to say that the U.S. part in the conflict in Iraq is over. President Obama said Monday night that "the American combat mission in Iraq has ended. Operation Iraqi Freedom is over, and the Iraqi people now have lead responsibility for the security of their country."
However, 50,000 American troops remain in country. Our own reporting on the ground confirms that some of these troops, especially some 4,500 special operations forces, continue to be directly engaged in military operations. These troops are accompanying Iraqi soldiers into battle with militant groups and may well fire and be fired on. In addition, although administration spokesmen say we are now at the tail end of American involvement and all troops will be gone by the end of 2011, there is no guarantee that this will be the case.
Our stories about Iraq should make clear that U.S. troops remain involved in combat operations alongside Iraqi forces, although U.S. officials say the American combat mission has formally ended. We can also say the United States has ended its major combat role in Iraq, or that it has transferred military authority to Iraqi forces. We can add that beyond U.S. boots on the ground, Iraq is expected to need U.S. air power and other military support for years to control its own air space and to deter possible attack from abroad.
Unless there is balancing language, our content should not refer to the end of combat in Iraq, or the end of U.S. military involvement. Nor should it say flat-out (since we can't predict the future) that the United States is at the end of its military role.
But our so-called independent media can't be bothered with noting the Iraq War continues? You can be a Matthew Rothschild and let the Iraq War 'slip your mind' or you be A.N.S.W.E.R. and call for action:

March 19 is the 8th anniversary of the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Iraq today remains occupied by 50,000 U.S. soldiers and tens of thousands of foreign mercenaries.

The war in Afghanistan is raging. The U.S. is invading and bombing Pakistan. The U.S. is financing endless atrocities against the people of Palestine, relentlessly threatening Iran and bringing Korea to the brink of a new war.

While the United States will spend $1 trillion for war, occupation and weapons in 2011, 30 million people in the United States remain unemployed or severely underemployed, and cuts in education, housing and healthcare are imposing a huge toll on the people.

Actions of civil resistance are spreading.

On Dec. 16, 2010, a veterans-led civil resistance at the White House played an important role in bringing the anti-war movement from protest to resistance. Enduring hours of heavy snow, 131 veterans and other anti-war activists lined the White House fence and were arrested. Some of those arrested will be going to trial, which will be scheduled soon in Washington, D.C.

Saturday, March 19, 2011, the anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, will be an international day of action against the war machine.

Protest and resistance actions will take place in cities and towns across the United States. Scores of organizations are coming together. Demonstrations are scheduled for San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and more.

Click this link to endorse the March 19, 2011, Call to Action.

In San Francisco, the theme of the March 19 march and rally will be "No to War & Colonial Occupation – Fund Jobs, Healthcare & Education – Solidarity with SF Hotel Workers!" 12,000 SF hotel workers, members of UNITE-HERE Local 2, have been fighting for a new contract that protects their healthcare, wages and working conditions. The SF action will include a march to boycotted hotels in solidarity with the Lo. 2 workers. The first organizing meeting for the SF March 19 march and rally will be on Sunday, Jan. 16 at 2pm at the Local 2 union hall, 209 Golden Gate Ave.

In Los Angeles, the March 19 rally and march will gather at 12 noon at Hollywood and Vine.

Let us know if you are going to be protesting locally. Events taking place around the country will be listed at

Click this link to submit your local event listing.

Cities around the country will be printing flyers, posters and stickers to spread the word about March 19 events. Funds are urgently needed to help in this effort. Please make a generous financial contribution today. Click this link to donate online with a credit or debit card, and to find out how to contribute by check.

Fight Back! News reminds, "On Dec. 22, the U.S. House and Senate passed the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2011. The bill authorizes $725 billion for next year's Defense Department budget, including nearly $160 billion of what the Pentagon calls 'overseas contingency operations' -- Congress's name for the U.S. wars and occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. All 100 senators, every Republican and every Democrat, voted for the mammoth military spending bill. The House passed it by voice vote without debate or discussion. The $725 billion amount is likely to grow more through separate supplements for the Afghanistan occupation throughout the year. This is the largest military budget since 1945, the last year of World War II."
Wednesday's snapshot included, "John Leland (New York Times) writes about the reactions of Iraqis and we'll note Anbar Province because the State Dept thinks/fears it's the new hot spot in Iraq: [. . .]" Give it up for the State Dept, they got one right. Today Ramadi is slammed with bombings. (Ramadi is in Anbar.) AP reports there are said to have been two suicide bombers -- one in a minibus and one on foot. Citing police sources, RTT News says the bombs were car bombs -- they count 17 dead and over forty injured. Hamid Ahmed (AP) reports that the bombings came one after the other, with people gathering after the minibus bombing to survey the destruction and then the suicide bomber on foot detonating. DPA notes, "The second attack occured when a suicide bomber wearing a belt of explosives approached the scene of the first attack after crowds of policemen, medics, and civilians had gathered. He blew himself up after policemen tried to prevent him from entering the area." Al Sumaria TV estimates there were 15 minutes between the two bombings. Jamal Naji (McClatchy Newspapers) quotes one of the people who rushed to the first bombing site to help right before the second bomb went off, Muhammed Kardoss al Zobai, who states, "I was swept off my feet and came crashing to the ground. I got up and started home without looking back." At this point, UPI explains, "Police evacuated the area, fearing a third attack." Jamal Hashim (Xinhua) adds, "The powerful blasts left 12 government and civilian cars charred at the scene, which was cordoned off by the Iraqi security forces for hours, the source added." Fadhel al-Badrani (Reuters) provides these details, "At the site of Monday's blasts, pools of blood dotted the ground, footage from Reuters Television showed. The stumps of the suicide bomber's severed legs lay at the scene." Al Jazeera reports, "Ramadi hospital's emergency room was reportedly filled with patients wounded in the attack. The hospital was also crowded with people who had responded to an appeal broadcast on mosque loudspeakers to donate blood to help the injured." Aaron C. Davis (Washington Post) quotes Alanbar Hospital's Dr. Senan Ala'anee stating, "Many of the wounded have lost some of their body parts and the others were severely burned. We called the imams of the mosques at the city to call upon the citizens to donate their blood to the wounded." BBC World Service noted in their half-hour headlines that the target appeared to be the government compound in Ramadi. Nawaf Jabbar and Salar Jaff (Los Angeles Times) note, "The 17 dead and 40 wounded Monday included women and children lined up to file compensation papers for relatives killed in the earlier bombing, said Mustafa Hitti, a doctor at Ramadi's general hospital." John Leland (New York Times) offers, "Though no one claimed responsibility for the bombing, officials in Anbar said it was likely a response to raids in the last week and a half that rounded up 93 suspected militants. Officials speculated the bombers also intended to scare off foreing investors and developers. The oil ministry recently completed the auction of a gas field in Anbar to a consortium of Kazakh and Korean developers." BBC News reminds, "On 12 December, 11 people were killed when a suicide car bomber targeted the same government office in Ramadi."

Ramadi is predominately (some argue universally) Sunni and the capital of Al Anbar Province which borders Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Syria. Aqsim Abid Muhammad Hammadi al-Fahadawi is the governor. He wasn't elected to that post by the citizens, he was handed it by Saleh al-Mutlaq and Ahmed Abu Risha (he'd left the country over two years prior to being named governor). Fadhel al-Badrani (Reuters) quotes Lt Gen Hussein Kamal (Deputy Interior Minister) stating, "Prime Minister (Nuri al-Maliki) has ordered an investigative committee to be formed due to the repeated taregting of (this) building in Anbar province." Another investigation launched by Nouri. And torture confessions to follow? Jamal Naji (McClatchy Newspapers) points out that this is "the first major attack since Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki assumed temporary control of national security matters. In announcing his new cabinet last week, Maliki left open the sensitive posts of ministers of defense, interior and national security, saying he needed several more weeks to vet candidates."
Those posts would be the ones Nouri (as prime minister) would consult with regarding the US military staying past 2011. Presumably, he will now consult with himself. Some might point to the Parliament but wasn't Nouri's entire first term about rendering the Parliament powerless? Whether it was naming someone to a Cabinet post ('temporarily') and doing so without the required approval of Parliament or swearing that there would be a referendum on the SOFA in July of 2009 and then not holding one, Nouri's repeatedly make a mockery out of rule of law and separation of powers. Joost Hilterman thinks the fractured aspect might prevent such an action from taking place and he may be right. He discusses Iraq with The Council on Foreign Relations' Bernard Gwertzman:
Bernard Gwertzman: The Bush administration signed as one of its last actions an agreement to pull its forces out of Iraq by the end of next year. Is that still on track?
Joost Hiltermann: The withdrawal is definitely on track. The question was always if it can it be delayed through an extension of the current security agreement the Bush administration signed with the Iraqi government. This would require a Status of Forces agreement that would have to be initiated by the new government. Now, the new government is barely functioning, and it's so much a coalition government involving so many different parties and individuals that it's going to find it very difficult to come to any sort of decision. It's going to be operating by default more than anything. We'll have to see whether this government can muster the will to approach the United States and say "yes, we do want to negotiate a follow-up treaty to the security agreement," and then to pull it off within the time period that works. For U.S. forces to fulfill the promise to withdraw before the end of 2011, they would have to set things in motion by June of 2011 at the latest.
His answer seems to rely on the Parliament. If so, the Parliament's had no power over the SOFA under Nouri nor -- pay attention -- did it have any power when the UN mandate was the issue. (The SOFA replaced the UN mandate for the occupation.) The mandate was yearly. As 2006 drew to a close, Nouri signed off on a renewal. Parliament went into an uproar when they found out (after the fact). They said it was a violation of the Constitution (it was) and that they'd pass new legislation if they ahd to. Nouri told them he'd never, ever -- cross his heart -- do it again. Then, as 2007 drew to a close, Nouri yet again renewed the UN mandate without Parliament approval of input. Joost could be right -- and he knows a great deal more than I do about Iraq and many other things -- but his answer appears to rely on the power of Parliament and -- under Nouri -- the Parliament's had no power. If he's relying on the Cabinet to define "government," Nouri's never maintained a full Cabinet. From the beginning, in the spring of 2006, he wasn't able to put together a full Cabinet and his first term was notable only for the many ministers who dropped out. The Cabinet may be approved by Parliament but, after that, no one's yet to demonstrate they had any real power except Nouri. On Nouri and the government, Michael Jansen (Gulf Times) observed over the weekend:
More than nine and a half months after Iraqis went to the polls in a credible parliamentary election, Nouri Al Maliki secured confirmation of an "inclusive" government comprised of Sunnis, Shiites, and Kurds. However, during the over-long period of gestation, the process of forming the government lost credibility.
Furthermore, the government itself has little credibility because it is comprised of faction figures nominated just 24 hours before Maliki announced his line-up rather than competent technocrats who could solve Iraq's many urgent problems. Maliki's cabinet has 42 ministries but he could make firm appointments to only 29 posts because of factional bickering.
Ten portfolios are temporary while Maliki retains the sensitive ministries of defence, interior and national security until agreement can be made on permanent candidates for these ministries. This means the jockeying for position and power continues while Iraqis suffer from insecurity, unemployment, lack of electricity, and inadequate services.
Global Post adds, "Meantime, seven years after the U.S.-led invasion, the deplorable state of public services, especially electricity, remains a top concern. Severe power rationing remains routine and sparked deadly protests during the summer as temperatures soared above 120 degrees across central and southern Iraq." AKnews reports one effort to address the lack of improvements: The Parliament has a (binding? non-binding?) new set of rules wherein MPs who do not attend sessions will not be paid the US equivalent of $400. Binding or non-binding, it's a joke. Last month, Barbara Surk (AP) reported that the MPs received $90,000 per diem and $22,500 per month. If an MP missed every session and there was at least one session a week? They'd be out $20,000. Less than one month's pay. Some 'action.' Sammy Ketz (AFP) reported, "Female MPs, both religious and secular, have slammed the under-represention of women in Iraqi institutions, especially government, sparking public soul-searching by male parliamentarians." Ketz quotes various MPs including MP Aatab al-Duri who says, "I am astonished at the absence of women in the government."
Meanwhile Bloomberg News notes, "Revenue from Iraq's crude oil exports rose to $4.62 billion (Dh 16.9 billion) in November, the highest level this year, the State Oil Marketing Organisation said." Covering this news, Al Jazeera TV this morning announced, "It is the first time that Iraq haas reached this level of production in twenty years." That apparently passes for news that matters. This despite that fact that the entire hour, Al Jazeera never even noted the Ramadi bombing.
In other violence today, Reuters notes a Dujail roadside bombing claimed the life of 1 "Christian woman and wounded her husband" while a Baghdad attack left two police officers injured.
Following the US invasion, the US made the residents of Camp Ashraf -- Iranian refuees who had been in Iraq for decades -- surrender weapons and also put them under US protection. They also extracted a 'promise' from Nouri that he would not move against them. July 28th the world saw what Nouri's 'promises' were actually worth. Since that Nouri-ordered assault in which at least 11 residents died, he's continued to bully the residents. Denis G. Campbell (Truthout) reports today, "Exiled after attempting to overthrow the shah of Iran, the largely secular 3,400 Ashraf residents are involved in a high-stakes power game virtually invisible to most in the West. These refugees have been denied medical treatment, live under physical and emotional threat and daily face the possibility of genocide. Iranian intelligence and Iraqi government tormentors engage daily in around-the-clock psychological torture. They want the camp closed and its residents driven back into Iran - which would mean their certain death." The US Committee For Camp Ashraf Residents notes:
In a letter earlier today to Assistant Secretary of State, Jeffrey Feltman, the U.S. Committee for Camp Ashraf Residents (USCCAR) expressed dismay over the State Department's lack of action to halt the continuing atrocities perpetrated against the residents of Ashraf by Iraqi security forces.
The letter came on the heels of a brutal, unprovoked attack Sunday afternoon by Iraqi forces against members of Iran's main opposition, the People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), in Camp Ashraf, Iraq. Dozens of residents were severely wounded, including Mr. Behrouz Mohajer, who sustained chest injuries and is in critical condition.
USCCAR wrote, "It is now abundantly clear that the continued U.S. inaction vis-a-vis this deteriorating situation has further emboldened the committee in the Prime Minister [Nouri al-Maliki's] Office, tasked with the destroying Ashraf, to step up the suppression of the residents."
The letter stressed that the United States' see-no-evil-hear-no-evil attitude toward Ashraf residents, "Protected Persons" under the Fourth Geneva Convention, is in violation of Article 45 of that convention and a clear disregard for the call made by a bi-partisan majority of the U.S. House of Representatives who called "upon the President to take all necessary and appropriate steps to support the commitments of the United States" toward Ashraf residents.
"It is also contrary to the solemn pledges you personally made in a recent Congressional hearing in response to the expression of concern by senior members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, including the outgoing and the incoming chairs of the Committee, over the State Department's ambivalence towards the plight of the residents and the continuing and blatant violation of basic human rights of the residents of Ashraf," the latter added.
USCCAR urged Ambassador Feltman, as the official directly responsible for this portfolio in the State Department "to personally and immediately intervene to bring an end the assaults and the inhuman treatment of the residents of Ashraf, including the round-the-clock deafening barrage of 140 loudspeakers and the persistent deprivation of medical assistance to needy patients at the Camp." USCCAR also called on the United States "to abide by its treaty and international obligations and resume the protection of Camp Ashraf," emphasizing that "urgent action by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is vital for averting another humanitarian catastrophe at Camp Ashraf."

Turning to the topic of Bradley Manning. Monday April 5th, WikiLeaks released US military video of a July 12, 2007 assault in Iraq. 12 people were killed in the assault including two Reuters journalists Namie Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh. Monday June 7th, the US military announced that they had arrested Bradley Manning and he stood accused of being the leaker of the video. Leila Fadel (Washington Post) reported in August that Manning had been charged -- "two charges under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The first encompasses four counts of violating Army regulations by transferring classified information to his personal computer between November and May and adding unauthorized software to a classified computer system. The second comprises eight counts of violating federal laws governing the handling of classified information." Manning has been convicted in the public square despite the fact that he's been convicted in no state and has made no public statements -- despite any claims otherwise, he has made no public statements. Manning is now at Quantico in Virginia, under military lock and key and still not allowed to speak to the press. Paul Courson (CNN) notes Bradley is a suspect and, "He has not admitted guilt in either incident, his supporters say." On this week's Law and Disorder Radio (began airing this morning on WBAI and around the country thorughout the rest of the week), hosts Michael S. Smith and Michael Ratner noted Bradley.
Michael S. Smith: Michael, Bradley Manning the US Army private is alleged to have leaked all kinds of stuff exposing the United States war in Iraq and other places. He's been in solitary confinement now for five months, what's the update for that?
Michael Ratner: He is 22-years-old. He is actually, if you add up his time that he spent overseas -- which was two months of solitary which was in Kuwait -- and now five months at Quantico Virginia, we're talking about leaving someone in a deep, dark hole for seven months. And the most important article was written by Glenn Greenwald in Salon. It's called the "Inhumane Conditions of Bradley Manning's Detention." And I just recommend it because if you think that we turned a leaf, or turned a page, after we took the people at Guantanamo out of the hellhole of punative isolation and detention, you'd be wrong. Bradley Manning is in a situation that is certainly cruel and abusive and that many of us think amounts to torture. Bradley Manning is in sensory deprivation, he's getting sleep deprived. He doesn't even have a sheet or a pillow to sleep on. And what they're doing, they're trying -- I presume -- they're trying to break this guy's will. They're trying to do what we've discussed on this program time and again of the old -- what Al McCoy called the techniques that the US has been using to break people for scores of years including at Guantanamo an it's a form of torture and people ought to object. This is outrageous. Right in Quantico, in this country, Bradley Manning is in a hellhole.
Hosts Michael S. Smith and Michael Ratner also addresed what's being done to political prisoner Lynne Stewart and Ruth and/or Mike may note that tonight but we'll note it tomorrow as well in the snapshot.

David E. Coombs is Bradley's attorney and we'll note this from Coombs' "A Typical Day for PFC Bradley Manning:"

PFC Manning is currently being held in maximum custody. Since arriving at the Quantico Confinement Facility in July of 2010, he has been held under Prevention of Injury (POI) watch.

His cell is approximately six feet wide and twelve feet in length.

The cell has a bed, a drinking fountain, and a toilet.

The guards at the confinement facility are professional. At no time have they tried to bully, harass, or embarrass PFC Manning. Given the nature of their job, however, they do not engage in conversation with PFC Manning.

At 5:00 a.m. he is woken up (on weekends, he is allowed to sleep until 7:00 a.m.). Under the rules for the confinement facility, he is not allowed to sleep at anytime between 5:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. If he attempts to sleep during those hours, he will be made to sit up or stand by the guards.

He is allowed to watch television during the day. The television stations are limited to the basic local stations. His access to the television ranges from 1 to 3 hours on weekdays to 3 to 6 hours on weekends.

He cannot see other inmates from his cell. He can occasionally hear other inmates talk. Due to being a pretrial confinement facility, inmates rarely stay at the facility for any length of time. Currently, there are no other inmates near his cell.

From 7:00 p.m. to 9:20 p.m., he is given correspondence time. He is given access to a pen and paper. He is allowed to write letters to family, friends, and his attorneys.

Each night, during his correspondence time, he is allowed to take a 15 to 20 minute shower.

On weekends and holidays, he is allowed to have approved visitors see him from 12:00 to 3:00 p.m.

He is allowed to receive letters from those on his approved list and from his legal counsel. If he receives a letter from someone not on his approved list, he must sign a rejection form. The letter is then either returned to the sender or destroyed.

He is allowed to have any combination of up to 15 books or magazines. He must request the book or magazine by name. Once the book or magazine has been reviewed by the literary board at the confinement facility, and approved, he is allowed to have someone on his approved list send it to him. The person sending the book or magazine to him must do so through a publisher or an approved distributor such as Amazon. They are not allowed to mail the book or magazine directly to PFC Manning.
Meanwhile Al Jazeera (via African Online) reports, "The United Nations office for torture issues in Geneva is now investigating a complaint that the torturing Bradley Manning. Manning is the detained Army private suspected of giving classified documents to WikiLeaks. He has been held in solitary confinement for seven months despite being an exemplary prisoner. Many experts believe that being held in solitary confinement for an extended period of time does constitute torture. The U.N. said it received a complaint from one of Manning's supporters alleging conditions at the brig amount to torture. According to the U.N., the complaint received alleges that Manning's physical and mental health are deteriorating in the face of continual solitary confinement. The office of Manfred Nowak, special lawyer on torture based in Geneva, confirmed that they are investigating the report. A spokesman for the Marines denied mistreating Manning, telling the AP he is being kept safe, secure and ready for trial."
In entertainment and peace and violence news, Louis Proyect (The Unrepentant Marxist) has an insightful review of the just-released True Grit film. Lastly, Women's Voices, Women Vote issued the following last week:
This holiday season, the greatest gift Women's Voices. Women Vote has received is your continuing support. Without your dedication and commitment, our work would not be possible and millions of Americans would not have their voices heard.

As the year draws to a close, we are already preparing for what the new year will bring for our work: more learning, more innovation and more voices engaging in the political process.

Women's Voices. Women Vote is so grateful for the incredible support you have shown us in 2010 and we look forward to working with you in 2011 and beyond. From everyone at WVWV, have a joyous holiday and a wonderful new year!

Astonishing Growth Among the Rising American Electorate

Recently released data from the Census Bureau's October Community Population Survey (CPS) shows that 95% of the growth among the voting eligible population comes from the Rising American Electorate-unmarried women, people of color and youth ages 18-29. The voting eligible population grew from 206,072,413 people in 2008 to 209,652,599 in 2010. The RAE accounted for 3,414,619 of the 3,580,186 overall increase in the number of eligible voters.

This is a demographic shift that could have incredible electoral consequences. These citizens continue to be underrepresented at the ballot box, even as their numbers increase dramatically, making WVWV's work to engage these voters more important than ever.

The Clock Is Ticking... Vote TODAY for WVWV!

The countdown is on: there is just over a week left to show your support for Women's Voices. Women Vote by voting for us at Voting for WVWV is an easy, free and important way to support our critical mission. Wish Women's Voices. Women Vote a Happy New Year by voting for us by December 31st.

CREDO members have a direct say in who receives funding in 2011, and WVWV needs your vote. The more votes WVWV gets from you, the more funding we receive to reach out to underrepresented voters around the country and ensure that everyone has a voice in our democracy. Every vote we receive helps us to evaluate and test our models, programs and messages in 2011 and prepare for 2012.

To vote for Women's Voices. Women Vote, click