Friday, September 09, 2011

Yeah, I said it

Is there a bigger whore than Amy Goodman these days?

When not fingering CIA contract labor Juan Cole on camera, she's blowing Gilbert Achcar who endorsed the war on Libya because that's what whores do.

Amy Goody Whore has quickly become a charter member of the Cruise Missile Left.

Her failure to oppose the Libyan War was very telling and I have to wonder now if, like her good buddy Juan Cole, she's on the CIA payroll as well?

That would explain a great deal.

Meanwhile, when I was a child, this country was at war with Vietnam. I cannot imagine being a child today.

Picture yourself 8 years old or eleven if you prefer older.

You're 11 and you look around and the US is still at war with Iraq, it's still at war with Afghanistan, it's using drones to attack Pakistan and it's started the Libyan War.

This is only possible via a lot of disinformation.

I'm sure David Petraeus writes "thank you" on those checks to Amy Goodman.

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

Friday, September 9, 2011. Chaos and violence continue, protest erupt in Iraq, an assassin or assassins killed yesterday but Hadi al-Medhi is not forgotten, Iraqis and human rights and journalism organizations call for his killer(s) to be brought to justice, the Sadr bloc wants to oust the Speaker of Parliament, Nouri wants to hush up the judge heading the corruption investigations, and more.
"They promised to serve the people while all they did is loot!" was one of the cries in Baghdad's Tahrir Square this morning. Alsumaria TV observes, "Massive demonstrations took place in Iraq provinces on Friday." Dar Addustour notes that protests took place in several cities as protesters demanded basic services, jobs and reforms with some activists calling for early elections as well. The paper explains that there were attempts to halt the protest in Baghdad by tightening security and blocking off roads; however, citizens turned out in the "thousands"
We'll come back to Baghdad but demonstrations took place across Iraq on what is called the Dawn of The Liberators. The Great Iraqi Revolution posts video of the protest in Ramadi where the chants included "We're coming to Baghdad, we're all soldiers to liberate Baghdad!" Aswat al-Iraq reports protests took place in Hilla as well with citizens demands ("handed to the Provincial Council") including "dissolving the council, relieving Babil governor from his post, putting to account all corrupted governmental officials, activation of industrial, trade, service, agricultural and sodial services, protection of civil freedoms and adopting talented people for building the new society." A council member responded that the governor is "on probation" and that the other issues are issues that the central government out of Baghdad (Nouri) has to address. The Great Iraqi Revolution reports that in Wasit Province's Kut, "the government refused to grant the activists the permit required. Anti riot forces armed with guns, armors and armored vehicles, ambudlances and police cars are spread in and around the city specifically Amel Square in Kut; and invidiual searches are carried out as well." And they report that "security forces in Wasit province arrested a large number of the demonstrations organizers and the number of detainees exceeded 50 people, among them the activists Sayed Jaber and Sajad Salem were arrested in the city of Kut." Aswat al-Iraq reports on the protest in Falluja where "hundreds of unemployed youths, intellectuals and triable sheiks demonstrated" and organizer Kahmess Jadan al-Lihaibi explains the demands (end to corruption, employment, basic services and a functioning judicial system) included "stopping the work in Kuwaiti Morbarak terminal and calling the UN to intervene to terminate Iranian and Turkish atrocities against Iraqi borders." The outlet reports on the protest in Diwaniya as well noting that the "hundreds" of participants included members of the Socialist Movment, NGOs, Democratic and Communist parties "and some well-known personalities" and they quote the Communist Party's Jabbar al-Shaibani stating that "the demonstration marched with 500 citizens, including women and children, who raised placards denoucning the government and demanding the central and local governments the implementation of basic services, otherwise these demonstrations shall be repeated in stronger manner." Al Jazeera notes protests also took place in Basra and Najaf.
Back to Baghdad, Alsumaria TV notes, " In Baghdad, an Iraqi army force using batons dispersed a demonstration organized by Abu Ghraib residents, western Baghdad, in protest against administrative corruption. Demonstrators staged three rallies in Al Tahrir Square, central Baghdad. The first demanded the elimination of corruption, the second called for the establishment of FAO port and the abolition of borders' demarcation with kuwait while the third objected the visit of Iraqi speaker Ousama Al Nujayfi, and Iraqi Vice President Tarek Al Hashimi to Saudi Arabia. Security Forces closed all entrances to the Green Zone and tightened security measures in anticipation to any security implications." Something's left out of that, did you catch it? Let's move over to Aswat al-Iraq which states that the demonstration in downtown Baghdad (Tahrir Square) lasted over three hours and called for "better services, early elections and termination of corruption" and that they "shouted against Mubarak terminal and the Turkish and Iranian atrocities in the north" (Turkey and Iran's armies are shelling and bombing northern Iraq). Hmm. They miss it too.
"The martyr was one of the activists in the movement against corruption and the curbing of rights and freedoms, through Facebook and through demonstrations in Tahrir Square. He was always stressing the need to reject any violation of the constitution and the law." That's WG Dunlop (AFP) quoting activist Zahir al-Jamaa. Speaking of? Journalist and activist Hadi al-Mehdi who was not at the protest today because he was assassinated yesterday.
His face was seen at today's demonstrations across Iraq as, in Baghdad and throughout, protesters carried photos of Hadi. The Great Iraqi Revolution notes, "Our correspondent in Baghdad:: The government forces refused to release the body of the assassinated journalist Hady Mahdy for the public funeral arranged by protestors. The did not allow a symbolic funeral to take place either.// Hady Mahdy , what greatness! They fear you dead or alive."
Dar Addustour calls the assassination of Hadi "a deep wound in the conscience of Iraq" and Hadi "a shining star in the honored sky illuminating the path in the stuggle against tyranny." In Baghdad today, at the Tahrir protest, activist Hattem Hashem told AFP, "The voice of Hadi will not be silenced, despite his assassination with a silenced weapon." Al Jazeera quotes Hadi once telling the network, "When we speak up and raise our voices they kill us and tell lies about us." They describe his weekly radio program:
Music and humour punctuated his pointed attacks on everyone he thought was ruining Iraq.
Taxi drivers were riveted by the show and callers phoned in to complain about everything - from paying bribes to get running water to politicians who, once elected, moved to the Green Zone, the heavily guarded area where many of Baghdad's government institutions are housed.
Although his favourite targets were corrupt politicians and the Iraqi parliament, he also lashed out at armed groups considered untouchable.
Anne Gowen (Washington Post) reports on the protest in Baghdad and notes Hadi al-Mahdi, "On his radio program, 'To Whoever Listens,' Mahdi loudly criticized Iraqi politicians of every stripe, including Maliki. He had a background in theater, and it showed in his delivery. He often used humor in his attacks. Maliki's officials often had complained about Mahdi's views to the radio station that aired the thrice-weekly talk show, supporters said." Dina al-Shibeeb (Al Arabiya) reports:

Iraqis reacted to the news of Mahdi's death with condemnation and criticized a government they see as increasingly dictatorial and basically unchanged from the rule of its brutal predecessor, Saddam Hussein.
In response to Mahdi's killing, a Facebook group, "We Are All Hadi al-Mahdi," was created, and has attracted 1,700 members.
"In a cowardice operation a criminal hand killed the activist and the organizer of tomorrow's protest ... " one member wrote, while another commentator said "the path of freedom has become the path of martyrdom … the revolution has begun."
One female reader wrote "write all that comes from your souls and hearts, we are all corpses that will be buried one day," and another group member said, "death to Maliki and long live Hadi al-Mahdi."

Al Mada quotes Hanna Edwar stating, "Hadi al-Mahdi was a strong voice calling out attacks on freedom and demanding reforms in the system." Ali Hussein (Al Mada) cals out the assassination and "the silencing of voices of truth and justice" seeing similarities between the current Iraq and Iraq under Saddam Hussein's rule, how "many things have not changed." The assassination of Hadi is a cae where "a citizen loses his life with the utmost simplicity due ot the absence of law and the lack of knowledge and responsibility on the part of those who are supposed to implement the law." The assassin accomplished very little because Hadi al-Mahdi remains in the hearts of Iraqis with the same brilliant smile and childlike features. Ali Hussien writes of knowing Hadi and of Hadi's belief in the future of Iraq, of seeing him last in a Baghdad cafe one evening with friends, full of life and talking about his future and the future of Iraq and he saw Iraq as an adventure and living in Baghdad as an adventure. Ali Hussein ends the column wondering, "Who killed Hadi al-Mahdi? I think all of Iraq should be seeking that answer."
The Committee to Protect Journalists denounced the assassination and CPJ Deputy Director Robert Mahoney declared, "Iraq remains one of the most dangerous places for journalists to work, and the Iraqi authorities' record of impunity for journalist murders is dismal. Wih this murder, a strong independent voice in Iraq has been silenced. Those who carried out this killing cannot go unpunished." Human Rights Watch issued the following:

(Beirut) -- Iraqi authorities should conduct an immediate, full, and transparent investigation into the September 8, 2011 killing of Hadi al-Mahdi, a popular radio journalist often critical of the government, at his home in Baghdad, and prosecute those responsible, Human Rights Watch said today.
"The killing of Hadi al-Mahdi sadly highlights that journalism in Iraq remains a deadly profession," said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. "After more than six years of democratic rule, Iraqis who publicly express their views still do so at great peril."
Witnesses at the crime scene told Human Rights Watch that they saw no evidence of a struggle or theft, suggesting that the killing was deliberate. Al-Mahdi's cell phone, laptop, and other valuables were left in the house untouched.
Al-Mahdi, a freelance journalist and theater director, had been openly critical of government corruption and social inequality in Iraq. His popular talk radio program, "To Whoever Listens," ran three times a week in Baghdad before he left the show two months ago. The program's appeal was al-Mahdi's fearless and scathing voice, laced with a sense of humor, Human Rights Watch said. Leading up to the country's "Day of Anger" mass pro-democracy and anti-corruption demonstrations on February 25, he became increasingly involved as a vocal organizer of Iraq's new protest movement in Baghdad.
Human Rights Watch spoke with al-Mahdi during the demonstration on February 25, and he stressed the importance of peaceful protest. As riot police began acting aggressively and groups of protesters started to throw hundreds of rocks, Human Rights Watch saw al-Mahdi take a leadership role with those who locked arms and made a human chain between angry crowds and riot police in an attempt to keep the peace. Many who did so were injured by rocks or by the riot police's use of force.
After the protests, security forces arrested him and three other journalists at a Baghdad restaurant. They beat and blindfolded them, and threatened them with torture during their subsequent interrogation. Al-Mahdi told Human Rights Watch after they were released the next day that interrogators had forced him, while blindfolded, to sign what he was told was a criminal confession and also a pledge to refrain from participating in future demonstrations. He showed Human Rights Watch bruises and red marks on his face, neck, and shoulders, as well as on his legs and abdomen.
Al-Mahdi continued to attend and organize many of the weekly Friday demonstrations that followed in Baghdad's Tahrir Square. He told Human Rights Watch that on March 4, an unknown man in the crowd approached him in an intimidating fashion and said that security forces were watching him, and then listed all of the people al-Mahdi had called on his phone that day. Al-Mahdi said on March 11 that in the previous week he had been threatened several times by phone or text message not to return to Tahrir Square.
Al-Mahdi was also one of the prominent organizers of a big demonstration planned for the first Friday after the end of the month-long Muslim holiday of Ramadan, on September 9. His Facebook profile picture was an announcement for the demonstration, and he posted the following message describing threats against him in the hours before his death:

Enough ... I have lived the last three days in a state of terror. There are some who call me and warn me of raids and arrests of protesters. There is someone saying that the government will do this and that. There is someone with a fake name coming on to Facebook to threaten me. I will take part in the demonstrations, for I am one of its supporters. I firmly believe that the political process embodies a national, economic, and political failure. It deserves to change, and we deserve a better government. In short, I do not represent any political party or any other side, but rather the miserable reality in which we live. ... I am sick of seeing our mothers beg in the streets and I am sick of news of politicians' gluttony and of their looting of Iraq's riches.
The killing of al-Mahdi follows years of targeted violence against journalists in Iraq. Most recently, on August 29, an assailant beat a prominent journalist, Asos Hardi, in Sulaimaniya with a pistol, requiring Hardi's hospitalization and 32 stitches.
Since the start of protests in Iraq in February over widespread corruption and lack of services, journalists have faced escalating attacks and threats, including from members of the government's security forces.
"In Iraq, we're used to journalists being attacked, but this one was close to the bone," Ammaral-Shahbander, head of the Institute for War and Peace Reportingin Iraq and a friend of al-Mahdi's, told Human Rights Watch after seeing al-Mahdi's body lying in the kitchen at his home. "This attack was different because usually journalists here have been killed in the line of duty, and you expect fatalities in war zones. But sitting in your own home and getting shot like this is too much to bear."
Emad al-Ebadi, another friend of al-Mahdi's, told Human Rights Watch that al-Mahdi confided that he was receiving daily death threats via social media and cell phones with blocked numbers: "He would come to me very upset and angry and shows me the incoming calls to support his allegations. I used to try always to calm him down and tell him to not care that much about these phone calls and advise him to be careful at the same time and stay alert."
Al-Ebadi, a television journalist who has frequently criticized parliamentary and government figures, survived an attempt on his life on November 23, 2009, when unknown assailants shot him in the neck and head.
Al-Shahbander expressed hope that al-Mahdi's killing would not deter Iraq's journalists from reporting on events in the country.
"So many journalists have been kidnapped and killed in Iraq but it doesn't matter how many are tortured, intimidated, or killed -- journalists will continue doing their jobs," he said. "This attack just shows how desperate the enemies of democracy have become."

Amnesty International notes:
The killing of a prominent radio journalist in Baghdad highlights how Iraqi authorities are failing to protect media workers from continued threats and violence, Amnesty International said today.
Hadi al-Mahdi, 44, was shot twice in the head in his flat in the Karrada district of Baghdad yesterday, ahead of a planned protest he was due to attend in the city's Tahrir Square today.
Friends have said he had feared for his life after receiving a string of threats in recent weeks.
"Journalists continue to pay a high price amid the ongoing violence in Iraq, and politically motivated attacks like this must no longer be tolerated," said Philip Luther, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Director at Amnesty International.
"Iraqi authorities must roundly condemn Hadi al-Mahdi's killing, carry out a full investigation to identify and bring his killers to justice, and ensure other journalists who face threats are given adequate protection if they request it."
Al-Mahdi was an outspoken political critic, and his popular Radio Demozy show "To Whoever Listens" took on a wide range of issues. No-one across the political spectrum was spared his scrutiny, and his analysis was described as irreverent and witty, drawing on his theatrical background.
Officials in President Nuri al-Maliki's government had reportedly complained to Radio Demozy about the show.
Al-Mahdi stopped broadcasting the show about two months ago, reportedly out of fear for his safety.
Earlier this week, al-Mahdi had been using social media sites to publicize a protest planned for 9 September in Baghdad's Tahrir Square, where he had been attending weekly protests in recent months.
Several hours before he was killed on the eve of the protest, al-Mahdi posted a note on Facebook saying he felt he was in danger:
"I have lived the last three days in a state of terror. There are some who call me and warn of raids and arrests of protesters. There is someone saying that the government will do this and that. There is someone with a fake name coming on to Facebook to threaten me."
Earlier this year, al-Mahdi had told Amnesty International about how a group of at least 15 soldiers detained him and three other journalists on 25 February, after they had attended a pro-reform demonstration in Tahrir Square.
The four journalists were detained overnight for interrogation at the headquarters of the army's 11th division, where al-Mahdi was beaten, given electric shocks and threatened with rape, before being released without charge.
In August, Iraq's Parliament passed a new law on legal protections for journalists, who face ongoing politically motivated threats and attacks. However, the law does not provide for their physical protection.
"Al-Mahdi's murder just a month after this new law was passed merely highlights this major loophole in the measure," said Philip Luther.
"Iraqi authorities must redouble their efforts to ensure journalists can carry out their work in safety."

Read More

One of the few US reporters, and the first, to take seriously the events immediately following the February 25th protests, was Stephanie McCrummen who filed a report the next day for the Washington Post that opened with, "Iraqi security forces detained hundreds of people, including prominent journalists, artists and intellectuals, witnesses said Saturday, a day after nationwide demonstrations brought tens of thousands of Iraqis into the streets and ended with soldiers shooting into crowds." Hadi was among those noted in her article:
Hadi al-Mahdi, a theater director and radio anchor who has been calling for reform, said he was blindfolded and beaten repeatedly with sticks, boots and fists. One soldier put a stick into Hadi's handcuffed hands and threatened to rape him with it, he said.
The soldiers accused him of being a tool of outsiders wishing to topple Maliki's government; they demanded that he confess to being a member of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party. Hadi told them that he blamed Baathists for killing two of his brothers and that until recently he had been a member of Maliki's Dawa Party.
Hadi said he was then taken to a detention cell, his blindfold off, where he said there were at least 300 people with black hoods over their heads, many groaning in bloody shirts. Several told him they had been detained during or after the protests.
Hadi, who comes from a prominent Iraqi family, and his colleagues were released after their friends managed to make some well-placed phone calls.
"This government is sending a message to us, to everybody," he said Saturday, his forehead bruised, his left leg swollen.

And many believe the assassination Thursday of Hadi was another message from the government of Nouri al-Maliki. NPR's Kelly McEvers Tweeted yesterday:
kellymcevers Kelly McEvers
The cold-blooded killing of gov't critic Hadi al Mahdi in #Iraq says as lot about why this country's protest movement petered out.
Kelly McEvers was also one of the few US journalists to take seriously what happened immediately after the February 25th protests. She interviewed Hadi for NPR's Morning Edition (link has text and transcript).
Meanwhile there's a battle going on between Nouri and members of Parliament. Dar Addustour reports Nouri is attempting to force out Judge Rahim Ugaili as the chair of the Integrity Commission. At Nouri's request and under intense pressure, Judge Ugaili tendered his resignation and Parliament is saying not so fast. Ugaili ticked off Nouri as a result of his investigation of alleged corruption among government officials and Nouri wants Ugaili out so that he (Nouri) can go public with files on his political opponents while ensuring that members of his own Cabinet -- who do have files as well -- will not be revealed publicly. In other news of Parliament, the Sadr bloc is attempting to oust Osama al-Nujaifi as Speaker of Parliament. Dar Addustour cites the bloc's Jawad Hasnawi as stating that and tomorrow Parliament meets to review several proposals.
wdunlop87 W.G. Dunlop
#Iraq security forces on Friday found mass grave w/ 40 victims killed in the past two years, police say
In the last two years? No, the violence didn't vanish after 2007 despite the way some outlets attempt to spin it.
Turning to the whitewash of the murder of Baha Mousa, a 26-year-old Iraqi who was beaten and tortured to death in less than two days by the British military in 2003. The British inquiry into it has issued the laughable findings. For reality, we'll note Timothy McDonald's report for The World with Eleanor Hall (Australia's ABC -- link is audio):
Timothy McDonald: Baha Mousa was working at a hotel which British soldiers raided in search of weapons in 2003. He was detained with nine others and within forty-eight hours, he was dead. An autoposy showed that he suffered 93 injuries including fractured ribs and a broken nose. His mother wants the men responsible to be prosecuted.
Baha Mousa's mother: Of course he died as a young man. He was deprived of his youth and his children. His sons are deprived by the British soldiers. They killed him so how could the court release them? We call upon the British government to reconsider the report.
Also worth noting is a video report by Laurence Lee (Al Jazeera -- link is video).
Laurence Lee: Baha Mousa died at the hands of British soldiers who were supposed to be making Iraq a better place. Instead this innocent 26-year-old was subjected to abuse described by this inquiry as "vile and cowardly," "a grave and shameful episode for Britian. ... Here's the crux of it: The soldier being filmed [in the video] called a violent bully was the only one to be jailed even though many more are implicated. The techniques as they're called, like hooding, are illegal under the Geneva Convention. Yet Baha Mousa and nine others were subjected to two days of this. The military unit was operating in a building without doors in the open. Soldiers boasted about what they were doing. It was described as "a free for all." Even before Baha Mousa died, the detainees were described as looking like they were in a car crash. The soldiers were using the so-called five techniques: hooding, sleep deprivation, use of noise, wall standing and food deprivation. All had been banned by the British government in 1972. Yet somehow the soldiers knew all about them.
Somehow they knew these techniques. In 2003, techniques that had been banned 31 years before, before any directly involved had even been born, the soldiers knew these techniques. Was it past-life recall? More likely they knew what to do because they were told what to do. They were trained to do what they did. And the inquiry refused to go there. At the same time, the inquiry refused to blame those higher up the chain of command. If the soldiers weren't doing what they were instructed to do, then the command should have known about it. Their refusal to monitor those serving under them is dereliction of duty. The report refused to indict the chain of command in any way or form.
Laurence Lee: The report calls for better training and says soldiers may not have been clear what was allowed. Lawyers for the Iraq detainees say that's absurd.
Phil Shiner: We've seen the training materials. They've managed to lose the training materials from before the war but we've managed to see the training materials from 2005 and 2008. And they're riddled -- those materials -- they're riddled with techniques which were clearly unlawful -- harshing, get them naked and keep them naked if they won't cooperate.
Laurence Lee: This was the biggest inquiry into professional standards in the British army since the Bloody Sunday investigation into the killings of unarmed Catholics in Northern Ireland forty years ago. It tries simultaneously to say that mistreatment of Iraqis wasn't a one-off but that there was no general culture of abuse. Based on the evidence, some are likely to read it as the continuation of a historical pattern.
The final key failure was not holding those in positions of authority accountable. It is perhaps not surprising that a corporal was the only person punished. The laws of war, which the British government promotes elsewhere in the world, states that those in a position of authority who knew or should have known about a serious offence and failed to prevent it, or to hand the matter over for prosecution, are themselves guilty of crimes.
Senior officers should have been aware of the abuse Mousa was enduring. The inquiry heard that Mousa and his fellow detainees endured repeated beatings and hooding. Hooding is one of the "five techniques" that the British government said 40 years ago it would never use again and is prohibited by the Geneva conventions. Such acts are not just a few soldiers out of control, but require training and orders. In fact, given the knowledge of abuse in Iraq in 2003, the most senior officers and the politicians ultimately in charge should have been aware of the extent of the abuse that was taking place. There is precious little evidence of any steps being taken to stop it.
The editorial board of the Arab Times observes, "Predictably, the British Army response has been that this was an isolated incident. It was not as isolated as they would believe. It was not the only British military crime in Iraq. There was Ahmed Kareem, forcibly drowned in May 2003, allegedly by four British soldiers. Many will say that it was just the most recent in a long line of British military atrocities, stretching from its colonial period in India, South Africa, Kenya and elsewhere to, more recently, the troubles in Northern Ireland." In addition, Nina Lakhani (Independent of London) reports, "The Ministry of Defence is facing legal action by the families of 32 dead Iraqi civilians, who they say were killed unlawfully by British troops, unless it agrees to hold an independent inquiry into the deaths so that lessons can be learnt. Among the dead are Hanaan Salih Matrood, an eight-year-old girl, who died after being shot by a British patrol in August 2003. The MoD denies the deaths were unlawful."
As we wind down, in the US an important tenth anniversary is approaching at the end of the month:
Haymarket Books 10th Anniversary Celebration
Friday, September 30, 2011
Galapagos Art Space
Brooklyn, NY

Haymarket Books is ushering in its tenth year of independent publishing with an evening of drinks, music, and politics at Galapagos Art Space in Brooklyn on Friday, September 30.

We hope you will join us as we celebrate our first decade and lay the foundation for our next decade.

We will be joined by authors Dave Zirin, Chris Lehmann, Frances Fox Piven, Brian Jones, Moustafa Bayoumi, Michael Schwartz, Jose Vazquez, Jeremy Scahill, and Amy Goodman. We will also have special greetings from Arundhati Roy, Omar Barghouti, John Carlos, China Mieville, Mike Davis, Ilan Pappé, Aviva Chomsky, David Barsamian, Wallace Shawn, and other Haymarket writers.

Doors will open at 7 pm and the event will begin at 8 pm.

Tickets are available now


Buy tickets
Congratulations to Haymarket on ten years, a populace that reads is not only educated, it's (more importantly) informed. Senator Patty Murray is the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee. We'll close with this from her office on another 10th anniversary, the 9-11 annivesary this Sunday:
Friday, September 09, 2011 (202) 224-2834
Senator Murray's Statement on 10th Anniversary of 9/11 Attacks

(Washington, D.C.) -- Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray released the following statement as the United States prepares to commemorate the 10th Anniversary of the September 11th attacks this Sunday.
"Ten years ago terrorists attacked our country, our financial center, our military headquarters, and our sense of security. The shocking pictures from that day are still fixed in our minds. Our collective history was changed and none of us will ever be the same. On that day, no matter our differences, where we came from in life, the region of the country, our race, religion, or political party - we were all one thing: Americans.
"This somber anniversary should serve as a reminder to everyone that there truly is more that binds us than divides us. It is our freedom: to live, to prosper, to govern ourselves, and yes – even to disagree. This makes us all Americans.
"Our great nation has withstood many challenges. We have learned and grown together as a result of the attacks of September 11th, and we will never forget that terrible day ten years ago. Our hearts will forever go out to the victims, their friends and family, the volunteers and workers, and the police and firefighters and other first responders who answered the call.
"Our nation must also pay tribute to the men and women in uniform who have answered the call to serve after that fateful day ten years ago. Since the attacks, brave American service members have stepped forward to serve our nation. Many of these service members have done more than one tour of duty abroad – sometimes serving, three, four or even more tours.
"Many who have served have come from the ranks of our National Guard and Reserves and have turned a part time commitment into a full time job protecting our nation. These men and women, who chose to join our all volunteer force, come from all walks of life and from every corner of our nation. They serve as a constant reminder of what our nation can accomplish when differences are put aside in order to move our country forward, and it is our solemn duty to care for them when they return home.
"So as we commemorate this unspeakable tragedy, as we remember the thousands lost, and as we recount the stories of the heroism and compassion, I urge all Americans to remain vigilant, to remember and to revisit the common good that still exists between us all."

Meghan Roh

Deputy Press Secretary

Office of U.S. Senator Patty Murray



Get Updates from Senator Murray

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Nick Ashford

Nick Ashford -- one half of Ashford & Simpson -- died last month. Hiram Lee covers the passing for WSWS:

After attending East Michigan University in Ypsilanti for a time, Ashford chose to leave school and pursue his interest in music. He left for New York in the early 1960s in the hopes of making it as a performer. Ashford was homeless and sleeping on park benches when he first met music student Valerie Simpson at the White Rock Baptist Church in Harlem in 1964. The two young musical talents took to each other fairly quickly and began what proved to be a lifelong collaboration. Within two years, they would have a number one hit on the R&B charts, with Ray Charles’ 1966 recording of their song “Let’s Go Get Stoned.” That same year, Ashford and Simpson signed with Motown Records in Detroit.

At Motown, Ashford and Simpson joined an impressive staff of in-house composers, including such dynamic songwriters as Smokey Robinson, Holland-Dozier-Holland, and Norman Whitfield, along with a who’s who of singers and musicians. These talented songwriters and performers produced some of the most outstanding pop music of the 1960s.

Ashford and Simpson’s most enduring compositions are undoubtedly those recorded by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell (who died of a brain tumor in 1970 six weeks before her 25th birthday) between 1967 and 1968, among them “Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing,” “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” “You’re All I Need to Get By,” and “Your Precious Love.” Just to say the names of these songs is to conjure up a wealth of emotion and memory.

Our takes differ somewhat -- due to personal tastes -- but I appreciate his writing about the passing and WSWS running it. For community coverage of Nick Ashford's passing, you can refer to:

Rebecca and the comments of others had me listen to The Boss again. Ashford & Simpson wrote all the songs on that Diana Ross album and they were the producers as well.

I asked C.I. for background and Diana was striking out on her own. She was leaving California (where Motown moved in the 70s) and was in New York. "The Boss" was a song Nick and Valerie wrote about the new Diana who was taking charge of her own life. They captured that mature and sophisticated woman in the songs on the album.

I won't delve into Diana's personal life except to note that she and Berry Gordy were now really over as a couple. Part of the reason she recorded it in NYC was so that she and Nick and Val would have final say (not Berry).

This was very much a personal statement on her part.

And that does come across in the lyrics. I love, for example, Baby It's Me (produced by Richard Perry) who did get Diana's seductive glow in so many of the songs; however, he missed the liberation (or maybe it was just emerging). Valerie Simpson plays piano like nobody's business and one of the joys of The Boss is those keyboard riffs. (Along with Valerie, that's also Ray Chew on keyboards.) It's so alive.

And the songs really say a great deal and are ear catching.

It's a strong album and much stronger than I remembered. I think I would call it one of the great works of Ashford & Simpson.

I'd also include Street Opera, their own album on that list. I wonder if Hiram Lee has heard that because so much of what he says about what Motown songwriting represented is addressed in that.

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

Thursday, September 8, 2011. Chaos and violence continue, Iraq remains unsecure, Iraq is at risk of panademic, more on the US desire to stay in Iraq beyond 2011, Tom Hayden shows up to self-embarrass yet again, journalist Hadi al-Mahdi is assassinated, and more.
In Iraq, a journalist has been murdered. In addition to being a journalist, he was also a leader of change and part of the movement to create an Iraq that was responsive to Iraqis.
Al Mada reports Iraqi journalist Hadi al-Mahdi is dead according to an Interior Ministry source who says police discovered him murdered in his Baghdad home. Along with being a journalist, Al Mada notes he was one of the chief organizers of the demonstrations demanding change and service reform that began on February 25th -- the day he was arrested by Iraqi security forces and beaten in broad daylight as he and others, after the February 25th protest, were eating in a restaurant. The New York Times didn't want to tell you about, the Washington Post did. And now the man is dead. Gee, which paper has the archives that matter to any real degree. Maybe it's time to act like a newspaper and not a "news magazine" with pithy little human interest stories? (That is not a dig at Tim Arango but at the paper's diva male 'reporter' who went on NPR to talk of an Iraqi college this week.) So while the Times missed the story (actaully, they misled on the story -- cowtowing to Nouri as usual), Stephanie McCrummen (Washington Post) reported:

Four journalists who had been released described being rounded up well after they had left a protest at Baghdad's Tahrir Square. They said they were handcuffed, blindfolded, beaten and threatened with execution by soldiers from an army intelligence unit.
"It was like they were dealing with a bunch of al-Qaeda operatives, not a group of journalists," said Hussam al-Ssairi, a journalist and poet, who was among a group and described seeing hundreds of protesters in black hoods at the detention facility. "Yesterday was like a test, like a picture of the new democracy in Iraq."

A picture of the new democracy in Iraq, indeed. And now one of the four is dead. But back to that roundup, from the February 28th snapshot:
Over the weekend, a number of journalists were detained during and after their coverage of the mass demonstrations that took place in central Baghdad's al-Tahrir Square. Simone Vecchiator (International Press Institute) notes:

["]During a news conference held on Sunday, four journalists -- Hussam Saraie of Al-Sabah Al-Jadid newspaper, Ali Abdul Sada of the Al-Mada daily, Ali al-Mussawi of Sabah newspaper and Hadi al-Mehdi of Demozee radio -- reported being handcuffed, blindfolded, beaten and threatened by security forces. They also claimed they were held in custody for nine hours and forced to sign a document, the contents of which were not revealed to them.
Aswat al Iraq news agency reported that the journalists will file a court case against the executive authority in response to the alleged violations of their civil rights.
This episode is the latest in a series of repressive measures adopted by security forces in order to stifle media reports about the current political and social
NPR's Kelly McEvers interviewed Hadi for Morning Edition after he had been released and she noted he had been "beaten in the leg, eyes, and head." He explained that he was accused of attempting to "topple" Nouri al-Maliki's government -- accused by the soldiers under Nouri al-Maliki, the soldiers who beat him. Excerpt:
Hadi al-Mahdi: I replied, I told the guy who was investigating me, I'm pretty sure that your brother is unemployed and the street in your area is unpaved and you know that this political regime is a very corrupt one.
Kelly McEvers: Mahdi was later put in a room with what he says were about 200 detainees, some of them journalists and intellectuals, many of them young protesters.
Hadi al-Mahdi: I started hearing voices of other people. So, for instance, one guy was crying, another was saying, "Where's my brother?" And a third one was saying, "For the sake of God, help me."
Kelly McEvers: Mahdi was shown lists of names and asked to reveal people's addresses. He was forced to sign documents while blindfolded. Eventually he was released. Mahdi says the experience was worse than the times he was detained under Saddam Hussein. He says the regime that's taken Sadam's place is no improvement on the past. This, he says, should serve as a cautionary tale for other Arab countries trying to oust dictators.
Hadi al-Mahdi: They toppled the regime, but they brought the worst -- they brought a bunch of thieves, thugs, killers and corrupt people, stealers.
Madhi had filed a complained with the courts against the Iraqi security forces, noting that they had now warrant and that they kidnapped him in broad daylight and that they beat him. Mohamed Tawfeeq (CNN) adds, "Hadi al-Mehdi was inside his apartment on Abu Nawas street in central Baghdad when gunmen shot him twice with silencer-equipped pistols, said the ministry official, who did not want to be identified because he is not authorized to speak to media." Mazin Yahya (AP) notes that in addition to calling for improvements in the basic services (electricity, water and sanitation), on his radio program, Hadi al-Mehdi also used Facebook to get the word out on the Friday protests in Baghdad's Tahrir Square.
Al Mada notes that Hadi has been killed on the eve of tomorrow's protest. The youth activists took the month of Ramadan off and announced that they would return to downtown Baghdad on September 9th (tomorrow). And tomorrow they'll now be minus at least one. Al Mada quotes Hadi writing shortly before he died on his Facebook page about the demonstration, noting that it would herald the emergence of real democracy in the new Iraq, an Iraq with no sectarian grudges, just hearts filled with tolerance and love, hearts saying no to corruption, looting, unemployment, hearts demaning a better Iraq and a government for the people because Iraqis deserve the best and they deserve pride and dignity. The Great Iraqi Revolution notes, "The funeral of the martyred jouranlist Hady Mahdy, who was killed earlier today will process from his Karrad home where he was assassinated to Tahrir Square. The funeral procession will commence at around 9 A.M."

Reporters Without Borders roundly condemns the well-known journalist Hadi Al-Mahdi's murder in Baghdad today, on the eve of nationwide protests that he supported. His body was found at around 7 p.m. in his home in the central district of Al-Karada. He had been shot twice in the head. There can be no doubt that his murder was politically motivated.

Offering its sincere condolences to his family, friends and colleagues, Reporters Without Borders urges the authorities to quickly investigate this murder and to assign all the necessary resources to ensure that those responsible are identified and brought to justice. This crime cannot go unpunished.

Aged 44, a Shiite and married to a Kurd, Mahdi hosted a talk show called "To whoever listens" on Radio Demozy (104,01 FM). His irreverence, his well-observed criticism that spared no one, neither the prime minister nor his detractors, and his readiness to tackle subjects ranging from corruption to the deplorable state of the Iraqi educational system made it one of the most popular talk shows in Baghdad.

It was clear from the messages that Mahdi had sent to relatives that he knew he was in danger. He had received many warnings and had told friends two days ago that something terrible could happen ( But he was determined to tough it out, regardless of the risks.

After covering a demonstration in Baghdad's Tahrir Square on 25 February, he and three fellow journalists were arrested, threatened and beaten.

Shortly after graduating from Baghdad's Academy of Fine Arts in 1989, Mahdi fled to Syria and then to Sweden and did not return until 2007, after nearly a decade in exile. He began hosting "To whoever listens" for Radio Demozy, an independent station, a year later. (A New York Times profile of Mahdi)

He was the seventh Iraqi journalist to be murdered since the start of 2011 and the 12th since the United States announced the withdrawal of its combat troops in August 2010.

Mahdi's murder comes exactly a month after the Iraqi parliament adopted a law on the protection of journalists on 9 August.

Nouri al-Maliki's forces beat Hadi. They are under Nouri's command. Nouri demonized the protesters all along. He has repeated the slurs in the last weeks that the September 9th protests are organized by Ba'ahtists, are out to topple him, are out to turn Iraq into a lawless state and much more. Did Little Saddam aka Nouri al-Maliki, thug of the occupation, order his forces to murder Hadi? Regardless, he certainly created the climate for the murder at the very least. At the more extreme? Little Saddam may be dreaming of becoming the next Augusto Pinochet.
Hadi had a dream that Iraq could become what so many in the US press portrayed it as being, a democracy, a place of fairness, a government that provided for the people. The youth activists will carry on the struggle, as will be evident tomorrow, but it says a great deal about the stae of Iraq, he real state of Iraq, that Hadi can be targeted and murdered for wanting what so many US gas bags and US politicians and liars wnat to insist Iraq already has and is.
Let's turn to two of the whores: Tom Hayden and Barbara Lee. Take your tongues out of Barack's asshole and come on down.
In all the years (decades) I've known Tom, I'd say he's verbal. He's not active. He's really not much of a writer, never has been. But he can give a speech. Ususally one that self-promotes. I think it was a few months before he was expelled from the Berkeley commune that I first heard him compared to J.J. Hunsecker -- an apt comparison, I used to think. But J.J. knew how to read and, increasingly, it appears Tom-Tom is illiterate.
Two days to late and still unaware, Tom Hayden shows up at The Nation to flaunt both his own uselessness and Barbara Lee's. If you're late to the party, see Tuesday and Wednesday's snapshots, my willingness to spoonfeed today is extremely limited. Tom just discovered about the story Fox News reported on -- about an option where the White House would keep 3,000 to 4,000 US troops in Iraq. Yes, let's split whores, let's go to Barbara Lee from Tom's story and then come back to Tom. Baraba doesn't read either -- illiteracy appears to be a pre-requisite for membership in the Cult of St. Barack. So when Tom called his girlfriend Barbara Lee to dish about wet dreaming of Barack and mentioned the fact that the White House is considering keeping 3,000 to 4,000 US troops in Iraq after 2011, 'anti-war' Barbara Lee insisted it was "a move in the right direction."
Oh, how the whores have fallen.
Baraba Leeis a fraud. She's a fraud and a fake. When I used to say that, people would offer defenses. These days the only defense comes from the Cult of St. Barack. They are the only ones stupid enough to defend 'brave' Barbara Lee. Everyone else long ago caught on to the reality that Little Ms. I'll End The Iraq War gave up long, long ago. I can remember so many Congressional hearings how she'd dash in when the cameras were there, spit out a few commentaries masquerading as questions, announce with disgust that she had nothing else for the witness and rush off to whever it was she rushed off to (not to floor votes, not to another hearing). She'd get her media attention, her sound byte for back home, and she'd breeze off somewhere else.
Bush was occupying the White House then. So Baraba was against the war. The same war that today she's fine with because Barack's president. She doesn't try to end the Iraq War now. She doesn't give the speeches about how we need to put pressure on the leadership. She doesn't do a damn thing. And nothing I'm saying here is news to the Out of Iraq Caucus in the House. In fact, most members cite Baraba Lee as the reason that caucus is no more. She's a liar and a hypocrite and nothing I could call her here would match what she's called by her peers in Congress whom she once stood with against the wars.
Leaving any US troops beyond 2011 should be unacceptable to her. But it's Barack so she's saying "step in the right direction." You go, 'brave' Barabra. And she'll no doubt pen a strongly worded letter to him calling for more to leave and then do nothing after he blows her off. Because standing up to Bush was fun but she's not going to call out Barack.
Moving from the fraud in Congress back to the fraud that never gets anywhere, Tom's a ___ idiot. Again, check those two snapshots. The 3,000 to 4,000 is one option -- one of several the White House is considering. We've noted several here throughout the year -- one we noted repeatedly is today an "AP Exclusive" -- but those following the actual reporting, those doing their own reading, were aware that there were several options. Tom isn't because there's no whore like an old whore.
(Tom was not the friend at The Nation that I spoke to Thursday -- mentioned in Thursday's snapshot -- but doesn't he prove my point in that snapshot that no one at The Nation actually reads? And Tom's not a friend. A friend is someone I'd invite to my home and I really don't associate with gigolos and certainly don't invite them into my home -- both due to theft concerns and infestation issues.)
3,000 is one option, it's not the only option. In fact, if you learned to read Arabic, you'd know what Nouri's media advisor said about it. But you don't know because you apparently can't read. If only you couldn't speak imagine how much better the world would be.
As usual, the faux leader of the peace movement -- who knew the peace movement had an elderly Gypsy Rose Lee in it? -- wants to call this a win. And wants to caution that people can't ask for more because, he insists, the economy is the number one issue and blah, blah, blah.
Old Pock Marks On The Soul really needs to go the way of other divorcees who cashed out big time on their wealthy exes when making a living on their own proved too difficult. He's Roxanne Pulitzer without the ability to write trash (he's just able to live it) and without a body anyone would pay to see naked.
Kevin Barone (Stars & Stripes) quotes the former top US commander in Iraq who is now the Army Chief of Staff, Ray Odierno stating today of the 3,000 proposal, "I will say, when I was leaving Iraq a year ago, I always felt we had to be careful about leaving too many people in Iraq. I'm not saying 3,000 to 5,000 is the right number, but what I would say is there comes a time, and I've said this before, where it becomes counterproductive," He goes on to also disagree with the notion of leaving a large force. Which is probably due in part to the fact that he's been among those advocating within the administration for 20,000 to 12,000 US forces to remain on the ground in Iraq beyond 2011.
Dar Addustour reports that Haitham Jubouri, who serves on the Commission on Defense and Security, was among those receiving a withdrawal time table for US forces. It's not one thing, it's several options, the paper says, and that it was stressed there is no final decision as yet. The article then notes US media reports on this issue in the last two days -- emphasizing the 3,000 to 4,000 US troops kept beyond 2011 option -- and that while the negotiations continue, there's a sense of urgency when it comes to the US supplying F-16s to Iraq. Al Mada also notes US media reports and adds that Nouri al-Maliki's media advisor Ali al-Moussawi has declared that the numbers are not ones Iraq has proposed or agreed to. Justin Fishel (Fox News) notes Odierno declared that one of the issues to be resolved in the negotiations would be where US troops would be staged after 2011 and "Odierno said it's most likely that any major U.S. base would be located outside of Baghdad."
There are many options being considered. Robert Burns and Rebecca Santana (AP) report on the option of moving US troops to Kuwait. They cite annonymous "US officials" who state that Kuwait is being considered as a staging area for the US military and that it could also be used to keep "a small U.S. combat force" that could enter Iraq swiftly should a problem arise. And they note that US military equipment could be left in Kuwai instead of sent back to America.
We've covered that option repeatedly because it's Joe Biden's option. Joe was then US Senator and not US Vice President. It was 2007 when he began to seriously speak of it. It was 2008, two months after he dropped out of the Democratic primaries, that he raised the issue for the first time seriously in public. When it became clear, during the transition period as Samantha Power insisted US troops would not leave Iraq, that post-2011 plans might need to be considered, Joe brought this idea out. Barack was responsive to it from the start and one reporter (not mentioned above but he'll know who he is) was cited as having proposed it to Barack during a 2008 interview. (Barack was giddy at the suggestion and noted that ___ had suggested it mere months ago.) Hillary Clinton was not part of the transition team. After Barack was in the White House and after he nominated her for Secretary of State and she became part of the administration, she supported this as an option to explore in at least one meeting.
Kuwait is only one option. The White House is looking at several options. Let's again note Greg Jaffe and Annie Gowen (Washington Post) observation from yesterday:
This much is clear: There will likely be some kind of U.S. military presence in Iraq after 2012.

Again, 3,000 is only one of the proposals being considered. It was the proposal discussed yesterday on On The Record (Fox News -- link has text and video) by host Greta Van Susteren and Herman Cain who is running for the GOP's presidential nomination:

VAN SUSTEREN: So I'm not going to ask you about that, so let me ask you about foreign policy since it was a little bit short on foreign policy. The big issue is whether or not the president is going to draw down to 3,000 troops in Iraq. What do you think about that idea if indeed that is the president's plan?

CAIN: I believe that's a bad idea, Greta. Once again, this president did not listen to the expanders on the ground. The commanders on the ground do not agree with that, just like the commanders on the ground didn't agree with the drawdown in Afghanistan. That's very scary in terms of foreign policy and our position in the world. So I don't agree with it. Why? Because the commanders on the ground don't agree with it. They believe it is too much, too fast. And I believe it is going to leave the 3,000 there vulnerable.

VAN SUSTEREN: That's what I don't understand. It seems to me -- I really can't believe the president isn't listening to his commanders. I'm a little suspicious there are commanders telling him 3,000 is fine. Is there any reason why you think, if it is true, that he doesn't have any commanders support him, why would he go ahead and do this, just sort of freelancing without consulting commanders?

CAIN: Two reasons, in my opinion. One, to carry out a campaign programs, and secondly to create a distraction. This president has nothing to talk about in terms of his record on the economy, zero new jobs created. They are trying to get away from that. So if he -- if next year he can say we have pulled out all of the troops out of Iraq, then that will give him something to brag about, along with the taking out of Usama bin Laden. The American people are not that stupid.
Herman Cain is for continuing the war but he is running for the Republican Party's presidential nomination. He is a Republican. In 2006, that would be obvious. In 2011, when so many Democratic office holders are fine and dandy with the illegal war continuing and a Democratic president attempts to continue it, it may need clarification that Herman Cain is not a Democrat. On the Democratic Party side, only Barack at present is running for the White House. On the Republican side, there are many. Ron Paul is the only candidate in that race invited to the debates who is promising to end the wars.
Al Rafidayn reports on a doctor's funeral Monday in Kirkuk -- Dr. Yildirim Abbas Dmarja and his brother -- in a killing that is part of a wave of targeting doctors and other professionals in Iraq. This targeting also includes kidnappings. The Director General of Health in Kirkuk is leading a call for the government to provide protection for doctors. It is estimated that over a million and a half dollars (US equivalent) have been paid by families to kidnappers of doctors. Al Sabaah notes that Wednesday also saw a sit-in at a Kirkuk hospital as doctors and medical staff demanded protection from the ongoing violence. They also demanded that those responsible be brought to justice. There's a medical issue taking place in Iraq beyond this and a friend with WHO brought it to my attention last week: the flu. Al Sabbah reports that Iraq's seen 175 cases of the flu since the start of the year with 15 people dying so far. The paper notes that 88 of the cases have been in Baghdad alone. The paper does not note that some of these have been Swine flu and some have been bird flu. In 2006, neighboring Turkey saw an outbreak of bird flu (avian flu) which resulted in the deaths of at least four children. In April 2009, a teenage girl died of bird flu in the KRG's Sulaimaniyah, hers was the first documented case bird flu in Iraq. In addition, Al Sabbah notes that Salah Din Province is dealing with viral hemorrhagic fever. Attempts to comabt it include an awareness campaign targeting everyone from children in kindergarten through adults as well as by increasing inspections of fields with livetock, of livestock and of vendors selling meat. They are warning people not to purchase meat from street vendors. The Center for Disease Control explains that humans are not the natural hosts for viral hemorrhagic fever and that the "viruses naturally reside in an animal reservoir host or antrhopod vector. They are totally dependent on their hosts for replication and overall survival. For the most part, rodents and anthropods are the main reservoirs for viruses causing VHFs. The multimammate rat, cotton rat, deer mouse, house mouse and other field rodents are examples of reservoir hosts. Arthropod ticks and mosquitoes serve as vectors for some of the illnesses. [. . .] The viruses carried in rodent reservoirs are tract with urine, fecal matter, saliva, or other body excretions from infected rodents. The viruses associated with anthropod vectors are spread most often when a vector mosquito or tick bites a human, or when a human crushes a tick. However, some of these vectors may spread virus to animals, livestock, for example. Humans then become infected when they care for or slaughter their animals." The CDC notes that once a person is infected with viral hemorrhagic fever, it is possible for the disease to jump from the infected person to another person.
Why are we noting this? Because a friend raised the issue, yes. But also because Iraqis are suffering and at risk and because Iraq doesn't need to turn into a hot zone that then quickly spreads diseases throughout the world (remember that foreigners in Iraq include people from all over the world including the United States). We note it because of tomorrow's protest.
Iraqis are calling for decent, livable public services. They don't have adequate sanitation. Children in Baghdad -- orphans on the street and just average children as well -- are confronted with garbage, sometimes play on it. Garbage piled up in the street. Not taken away. Just piled up there attracting children who will look for things to climb ecause that's what children do, they explore their surroundings and play. It will also attract bugs and rodents. The Iraqi people are very fortunate that the failure of the government has not yet resulted in a pandemic. But as long as the government refuses to address the issues of sewage and sanitation, Iraqis are at risk of a pandemic at any moment. Nouri's been prime minister since 2006. The Iraqi government takes in billions in oil dollars every year. There's no excuse for the failure to address and solve this issue. It puts Iraqis and the entire region at grave risk. Should a pandemic break out, it will not be confined to Iraq and it will not be confined to the Middle East.
While feathering his own nest with Iraqi money, Nouri is a slum lord, one of the world's biggest slum lords, who refuses to address the health and safety of the Iraqi people. The US government is not going to do a damn thing about it. All they're focused on is extending the US military presence in Iraq. Maybe the neighboring countries can pressure Nouri? Certainly if a pandemic breaks out in Iraq, then Turkey, Jordan, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Syria will be among the first countries effected.
The protesters demands in Iraq have never been unreasonable. They're very basic. Improve the public services (water and electricity and sanitation), provide jobs, end the government corruption and stop the sinkhole that is the Iraqi prison-judicial system where families never even know if their loved one was arrested, let alone if he or she remains alive. These are very basic issues. That they're demands goes to just how corrupt the government in Iraq is, that anyone would have to demand these basic needs be met goes to just how corrupt it is. That's what the protesters have been protesting for months now.
And it's telling that the likes of Tom Hayden and Barbara Lee have shown no interest in the needs of Iraqis. They've not spoken out,t hey've not written of it. They've washed their hands and only show up on the topic of Iraq when it's time to excuse Barack's latest back-stab.
I didn't know Hadi al-Mehdi. I never met him, I never spoke to him on the phone. We did exchange e-mails when he was kind enough to correct me on an issue I had wrong (not the first time I was wrong,, not the last time I will be). And I'm no expert on himbut what came through in the four or five e-mails was just how much he believed that the better Iraq the people deserved was possible. And yet he and what he believed in is invisible in the US and ignored by so many 'voices' for 'peace' who should have been drawing attention to the protests in Iraq. Instead, they were ignored. ( and Antiwar Radio is the only antiwar outlet that covered them.) (Excuse me, Democracy Now! covered them badly in one segment. Congratulations, Amy Goodman.) Haid al-Mehdi's dead but there are others who share the dream he had and they'll carry on the fight for a better Iraq.
But they'll do so with less and less attention from the US 'peace' groups. Why/ Because a Democrat's in the White House. So now Democrats are as embarrssing as Republicans were when they repeatedly tried to sell "success" in Iraq. They sold it for their man Bush. Democrats now sell it for their man Barack. Hero worship never built a peace movement. Real leaders -- Ghandi, MLK, etc -- rejected hero worship. I think it was with Abeer that it became very clear that the Democratic pretense of caring about Iraqis was revealed to be pure lies. When 14-year-old Abeer was gang-raped by US soldiers while one US soldier murdered her five-year-old sister, murdered her parents and then murdered her, set her body on fire to try to destroy the evidence, when all this came out, when the Article 32 heairng was held, when the court martials were held, when Steven D. Green's trial was held in Kentucky, where was The Progressive, where was The Nation, where was In These Times, where was Democracy Now? Silent. Alexander Cockburn did write a few paragraphs about it ione column -- I'll credit his CounterPunch for that, not The Nation. After months of complaints and public shaming, feminist or 'feminist' Katha Pollitt finally found time to write about Abeer in a half-sentence.
But would she have if I hadn't made fat jokes about her here and her friends hadn't begged me to remove those jokes and I hadn't agreed to? If that had happened would Katha have ever written even that half-sententce about Abeer?
Judging by all that's gone down since, I doubt it. Pay attention, if you need to motivate Katha to 'cover' an issue,aim some fat jokes her way. It's the only thing that will get her off her, yes, fat ass.
I'm just not in the mood for the liars and the whores these days. It's not just that their whoring for Barack means that the Iraq War does not end. It's also that their whoring means that Iraqis suffer in every way imaginable including suffering in silence because exposing the realities of Iraq might harm Barack's election chances.
And aren't the dreams and desires of a vain man withe ating disorders so much more important than twenty-five to thirty Iraqi people? Isn't it more important to secure that second term for Barack to continue the wars and continue Guantanamo and destroy Social Security (and the economy) than the Iraqi people ever having any peace?
You can speak in soothing tones about how you objected to the sanctions in the 90s all you want. Until you're ready to call out the War Hawk Barack, you're just another whore promoting war and destruction.
Reuters notes a man shopping in Mosul was shot dead and a Mosul bombing injured one Iraqi soldier.
Meanwhile, northern Iraq is being bombed and shelled by the armies of two countries: Iran and Turkey. Iran is allegedly targeting the PJAK (Kurdish rebels fighting for independence with Iran) and Turkey is allegedly targeting the PKK (Kurdish rebels fighting for independence in Turkey). In the meantime, both are killing and wounding civilians and tearing up the region from which people are fleeing -- farmers and shepherds especially -- due to the non-stop bombings. Aswat al-Iraq reports that "hundreds" demonstrated in Erbil yesterday against the continued attacks from both countries and that "demonstrators raised the Kurdish flags and photos of the victims of Turkish-Iranian bombardments, that led to the killing of a complete family." Alsumaria TV reports, "Anti Iranian Kurdish party, the Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK), said that the Iranian shelling has killed its deputy military leader and announced that its fighters killed 123 members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards during clashes between the two parties this month." In protest of the bombings, Aswat al-Iraq reports, Iraq's Parliament today suspended their "session for half an hour" at the request of Parliament's Kurdish coalition.
"I remember Baha all the time," Daoud Mousa tells BCC News (link is video). "I look He's -- Baha -- in my heart. I love Baha. He's good son." His 26-year-old son was tortured and killed by the british military, receiving over 93 documented wounds in less than 48 hours. The white wash was released today and there's not space to cover it and I don't have the energy, I'm sorry. We covered it this morning here and I'll try to grab it in tomorrow's snapshot. Justice was not done and hopefully tomorrow we'll be able to note Iraqi reaction -- at present there's nothing but Al Jazeera predicting what reaction will be to the findings from the inquiry into Baha's death (a 'few bad apples' went off the reservation is the cover story).

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Joni's Blue

You mention above that Blue is sad, and it is. A lot of critics have spent a lot of time discussing how its sparse musical arrangements are a mirror to the “raw nerve” that Joni Mitchell has confessed to being at the time. But the sadness that I hear here isn’t the kind that leads to wallowing; it’s the kind that creates songs as tough as “Little Green” or as funny as “A Case of You” or as buoyant as “All I Want”. I think that’s what critics are responding to, and I think that’s why it ranks so highly on the Great List.

I only really got around to Blue a few years ago, and I suspect that if I had heard it at a more fragile time in my life I might have focused on the heartbreak that winds through the album too. But as I listen to it as a reasonably settled middle-aged man, I hear something that’s richer than sadness. There’s a real sense of resilience behind Blue, and that’s why it’s an album that I keep coming back to—and it’s why I suspect that Mitchell would give you a run for your money when it comes to bawdy gags.

That's from a discussion of Joni Mitchell's Blue at Pop Matters. It's a classic album, one of the all time greats, released in 1971 and still able to cause passionate discussions. And people still find richness in the material.

James Blake is someone who's performed Joni's "A Case of You" from that album live; however, he's now recorded it and it will be on his 6-track EP released next month.

If you've never heard Blue, make a point to check it out. It's one of the few undisputed classics in the rock canon by a woman. They will dicker and belittle many women, but the sexist male critics cannot deny Blue no matter how much they might want to.

Favorite song? This time of year, it's usually "River" just because I get Christmasy in September in anticipation of the (months away) holiday.

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

Wednesday, September 7, 2011. Chaos and violence continue, more talk of the US extending the military presence in Iraq beyond 2011, Iraq gets good news with regards to phosphates, the KRG prime minister states Nouri's acting like a dicator, as does a member of the Iraqi Parliament, and more.
Thomas E. Ricks used to be a journalist. Then he became a COINista and went to work for a think tank and tried to continue passing himself off as journalist. Overseas, they were the first to catch on to the charade. Campuses in this country have caught in even if some outlets haven't. Today Tommy turns in a piece so shoddy it's difficult to believe he was ever a journalist. His blog is "Best Defense" and we're not linking because he's engaged with his usual circle jerk (including CIA contractor Juan Cole) and we don't need any diseases from Tommy's whoring. With the help of a guardrail, he mounts his high horse to declare (his now standard) "Suppose we gave a war in Iraq and nobody here cared?" You mean yourself, Thomas? This is only the second time he's written about Iraq since July 27th. We'll come back to Tommy.
Today Eric Schmitt and Steven Lee Myers (New York Times) cover the news Fox broke yesterday but forget to give credit to those who broke that news. They do point out that keeping 3,000 troops in Iraq after December 31st could cause problems:

It also reflected the tension between Mr. Obama's promise to bring all American forces home and the widely held view among commanders that Iraq is not yet able to provide for its own security. And it reflected the mounting pressures to reduce the costs of fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, both wars that have become increasingly unpopular as the 10th anniversary of the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, approaches.

Felecia Sonmez (Washington Post) notes Fox News broke the story and that the Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Senator Dianne Feinstein, states she will do her part to block any effort to drop the number of US troops to 3,000. She expresses her belief that the US needs to remain in Iraq to ensure what she sees as gains. Mackenzie Weinger (POLITICO) notes that Fox News broke the story and notes, "The other proposal, presented at the Pentagon recently by the senior U.S. commander in Iraq Gen. Lloyd Austin, would keep 14,000 to 18,000 troops there." David S. Cloud (Los Angeles Times) observes, "As the deadline nears, some senior U.S. and Iraqi officials warn that Iraq's army and police, despite billions of dollars in aid from Washington and its allies, will be unable to contain sectarian violence or prevent neighboring Iran from expanding its operations if U.S. forces are drawn down too far."
Back to Thomas E. Ricks, when not pushing his sins off on others, he reveals just what a dullard he is. Does no one read? We gave Fox News credit for breaking the story about one option the White House has. One. But we also noted in yesterday's snapshot:
On the issue Fox News reported on and that Norah O'Donnel asked about, Lolita C. Baldor, Rebecca Santana, Lara Jakes and Robert Burns (AP) report that the White House "is reviewing a number of options" but that a request needs to be made before Barack can decide which option to go with.
I'm all for giving credit where it's due but Fox News was not the only one reporting and certainly Baldor, Santana, Jakes and Burns are a formidable team with a strong track record to point to. So why is everyone ignoring their report?
Today Dan Murphy (Christian Science Monitor) zooms in on the Fox News report and asks, "One thing much of the media commentary has neglected so far?" The AP story. (No, he doesn't say that, but that is the answer.) David Jackson (USA Today) also manages to ignore the AP story.
Today Jakes, Burns and Baldor team up Donna Cassata and Julie Pace (AP) report that the White House is insisting they've made no decision yet with James Jeffrey insisting that 3,000 is not a number tossed around in the "ongoing discussions in Baghdad, where both governments have been weighing whether as many as 10,000 U.S. forces should stay." The AP team also reports that "Iraqi officials" were taken aback by the 3,000 number (apparently they missed AP's report yesterday as well). Sunlen Miller (ABC News) reports Senators Lindsey Graham, Joe Lieberman, John McCain decried the 3,000 to 4,000 number from the Senate floor saying it was too low. In addition, John T. Bennett (The Hill) reports Senate Armed Services Committee Chair Carl Levin states he's "not concerned" by leaving 3,000 US troops in Iraq while the House Armed Services Chair Buck McKeon states "more American troops must remain in Iraq to preserve what he sees as U.S. victory there." Reuters offers Senator Carl Levin's statements at greater length, "I don't think it's appropriate for us to be pressing the Iraqis to be asking us for troops. We ought to consider a request . . . But for us to be sending a message that 'you need us,' is the wrong message, I believe." Kevin Baron (Stars and Stripes) notes that conservative and centrist think tanks are also in a tizzy feeling the number would be too small. Howard LaFranchi (Christian Science Monitor) adds, "US military commanders, led by Gen. Lloyd Austin III, the senior commander in Iraq, are proposing that up to 18,000 US troops remain in Iraq after the year-end pull-out date." MJ Lee (POLITICO) quotes US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta stating, "No decision has been made. [. . .] They have indicated a desire, obviously, for our trainers to be there, and obviously, that would probably be at the core of whatever negotiations take place." Greg Jaffe and Annie Gowen (Washington Post) remind that numbers isn't the only issue, there is also what remaining troops will be doing in Iraq. Their lede is worth noting:
This much is clear: There will likely be some kind of U.S. military presence in Iraq after 2012.
James Kitfield (National Journal) adds, "The Iraqis had indicated that they might have been willing to accept 10,000 residual U.S. forces, a senior U.S. military official with extensive experience in Iraq told National Journal." Whatever the number, they're supposed to be 'trainers.' Jason Ditz ( observes, "Spinning the continued US presence as a (mostly) training mission should please Prime Minister Maliki, who has repeatedly insisted he doesn't need parliamentary approval to keep US trainers in the nation. Parliament was deeply divided over the prospect of a continued occupation, and such a vote was expected to be difficult." In addition, yesterday Julian E. Barnes, Adam Entous and Siobhan Gorman (Wall St. Journal) reported the US military "commanders and intelligence officers" are advocating "for greater authority to conduct covert operations" within Iraq allegedly "to thrwart Iranian influence" and that if the White House signs off on the request, "the authorization for the covert activity in Iraq likely would take the form of a classified presidential 'finding'." How many troops would be left behind for cover operations? That information would, of course, be "classified" and not released to the public.
Staying on the topic but moving over to what's said from Iraq, Al Mada reports that KRG President Massoud Barzani is stating that civil war is likely if US troops withdraw from Iraq at the end of this year. Barzani was speaking yesterday at a conference in Erbil and stressing the KRG position that US forces remain needed in Iraq. He further stated that this was the opinion of all political blocs in Iraq and discussed away from the microphones; however, for public consumption, few are willing to speak honestly. Bazani noted the issue of the Constitution's Article 140 which calls for the resolving on the Kirkuk issue. By end of 2007, a census and referendum were supposed to have taken place to determine the fate of the oil-rich and disputed Kirkuk. However, Nouri al-Maliki refused to follow the Constitution and, all these years later, no referendum has been held, no census taken. He also called out Nouri al-Maliki's refusal to follow the Erbil Agreement.

Background, following the March 7, 2010 parliamentary elections, Iraq entered Political Stalemate I -- a nine month period where nothing was accomplished. The blocs met in Erbil at the start of November 2010 to hammer out an agreement, the Erbil Agreement, which provided the various political blocs with at least one win each. For example, State of Law came in second but their leader Nouri al-Maliki was allowed to retain the position of prime minister. Once the Erbil Agreement was agreed to, Parliament held a session and began moving forward. Iraqiya came in first in the March 2010 elections and at the session of Parliament, a number of their members walked out when it became obvious to them that the Erbil Agreement was tossed into the trash by Nouri once he was named prime minister-designate. Those Iraqiya members were not mistaken about what was happening. By the end of December 2010, Iraq had entered Political Stalemate II as a result of Nouri's inability to follow the Erbil Agreement. September 25th, it will be nine months since the start of Political Stalemate II. Again, the first political stalemate lasted nine months.

In the speech, Barzani raised the issue of the recent draft oil law that Nouri's Cabinet is proposing. Barzani called it out stating that it disregards the Constitution and said that Nouri is behaving like a dictator. It's an observation others are making as well. Aswat al-Iraq quotes Iraqiya MP Khalid Abdullah al-Alwani stating that "the present government, headed by Premier Nouri al-Maliki, is similar to a dictatorship, with one ruler and one party, without real partnership, just in name. There are no consulations in government affairs and non-implementation of Arbil agreement."
And speaking of violence and destruction, Tony Hayward's back in the news. Graeme Wearden (Guardian) reports:

Tony Hayward has sealed a deal to exploit the oil fields of Iraq's Kurdistan region, landing the former BP boss an expected windfall of around £14m.

Hayward's return to the oil industry was finalised on Wednesday as his new investment vehicle, called Vallares, agreed a merger with Genel Energy International of Turkey. The deal will deliver an estimated £176m windfall for Hayward and his fellow backers of Vallares, including Nat Rothschild.

Iraqis need to be asking how these deals were made and who made the decision that Iraqi lives and Iraqi water ways were so unimportant that the man who oversaw the BP Gulf Disaster was just waived on in. Agustino Fontevecchia (Forbes) observes, "Hayward will be once again at the helm of an oil and gas company after the disastrous accident in the Gulf of Mexico in the summer of 2010, when the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded, killing 11 and producing one of the worst natural disasters ever in the region. Hayward, who was replaced by BP's current CEO Bob Dudley, was blamed by many for not doing enough on time to ameliorate the problems."

In other news, citing Iraq's Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, the Associated Press reports that Iraq and Kuwait are no longer in conflict over Kuwait's proposed port. Fang Yang (Xinhua) reports, "Iraq may close its main border point with Kuwait to put pressure on its neighboring country to change the location of its controversial huge port on the joint navigation channel to the Gulf, an official newspaper reported Wednesday." Yang cites Iraq's Minister of Transportation Hadi al-Amri as the official. Al Sabaah is the newspaper in question and it runs a very brief item which notes that if the port goes through, Kuwait will no longer need to send items through Iraq and that this would harm Iraq's economy. Zebari apparently didn't read Parliament in on the 'resolved' issue. They're planning to address what Dar Addustour calls "the crisis" and that includes rumors that Iraqi MPs have been paid off by Kuwaiti officials.

In other news, David Blair (Financial Times of London) reports that it's been discovered Iraq has "the second biggest phosphate reserves in the world, after Morocco." In 2010, the Guardian explained, "Phosphorous is an essential nutrient for plant growth, along with nitrogen and potassium. It is a key component in DNA and plays an essential role in plant energy metabolism. Without it, crops would fail, causing the human food chain to collapse.
Phosphate production is predicted to peak around 2030 as the global population expands to a predicted 9.1 billion people by 2050. And unlike oil, where there are renewable energy alternatives to fossil fuels, there is no substitute for phosphorus, according to the US Geological Survey."
Yesterday there were many Iraq issues to address and the biggest one was the issue of the various scenarios for keeping US troops in Iraq beyond the 2011 deadline. So we really weren't too interested in this column by Bill Keller. It could wait and waiting would allow us to see if Greg Mitchell had anything to offer.
He had nothing and that's far more depressing than anything in Bill Keller's column. Bill Keller was a columnist for the New York Times in the lead up to the illegal war. He made the decision to disgrace his reputation, such as it was, by becoming a War Hawk. Though Chris Hedges would be savaged by the paper for a speech he gave against the war, being for it cost you nothing. This was demonstrated when the pro-war Bill Keller was promoted from opinion columnist to executive-editor four months after the start of the Iraq War.
Jill Abramson is now executive editor of the paper, the first woman to hold that post. Bill Keller has returned to being a columnist. It's a weird step-down and I can't think of, for example, any former editors of the Washington Post doing anything similar, but to each their own. This year, Keller was seen, rightly or wrongly, as using his position as executive-editor (that he still held at that time) to grab onto a column at the front of The New York Times Sunday Magazine (he was seen as doing that within the paper -- the minor criticism of those columns from outside the paper were nothing compared to the internal criticism). He's now a columnist for the paper and not the magazine as a result.
As a columnist these days, his genius is for tossing out ideas. He fails to develop these -- whether it be his column on Twitter or the one yesterday -- and they're poorly written. But they do attract a flurry of media attention suggesting that he remains an ideas person if not a writer. Joe Coscarelli (New York Magazine) wrote a strong critique of Keller's Monday column and noted the column weighed in at "nearly 3,500 words." (It has not gone unnoted by Times reporters that Keller is allowed a word count that they could only dream of, even for breaking news. Nor that, as executive-editor, Keller failed to champion long pieces and instead insisted that "Middle America" dictated the paper print more short pieces.) And along came The Nation's Greg Mitchell.
Keller wrote a column of nearly 3,500 words. Monday, Greg wrote a 'critique' that ran over 1,600 with the promise that he'd return to the topic today. Over 1600 words. And he was going to return to the topic today. (He failed to keep that promise. No surprise.)
And yet where's The Nation's coverage of the White House scenarios for keeping US troops in Iraq? When I spoke to a friend with the magazine this morning -- close to this afternoon -- I was asked, "What scenarios?" It was in the news yesterday (see yesterday's snapshot) and it's covered in today's papers. Do they not read at The Nation these days?
Having (falsely) sold Barack as anti-war, you'd think The Nation would be on top of efforts to extend the US military presence in Iraq beyond 2011. Apparently, it's more important that they pretend the world stopped (or at least world problems did) when Bush left office. And that's a bit of Greg Mitchell's problem.
If you're going to take on Bill Keller's column -- for nearly 1700 words -- you should have something worth saying. Mitchell accuses Keller of, basically, serving up reheated mashed potatoes that were cooked several days ago which, for the record, is what Greg Mitchell himself does.
I don't know Bill Keller's motives for writing the column. I will not forget his war cheerleading before the start of the war. I won't excuse it. Nothing in the column suggests he's taken accountablity for it. The topic most likely was chosen because he knew it would garner attention (again, ideas he can come up with, execution is Bill's problem).
If I were going to hold Bill Keller accountable for his actions, I don't know that I'd rely on Judith Miller. Her pre-war reporting is before Keller's executive-editor. Where in Greg Mitchell's nearly 1700 words is that noted? Greg can't shut up about Judith Miller. That field's been plowed several times over. Time to rotate the crops, Greg.
Greg Mitchell has never had objectivity and he's also lacked sense. No where is that more clear than in his attack on Bill Keller for the paper's backing Judith Miller when erstwhile federal prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald was investigating the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame. The paper was correct to defend Miller. It would be correct to defend any journalist who refused to name sources. And a case that can't be made without compelling reporters to testify about sources is a case that was weak to begin with. (See the current witchhunt efforts to force James Risen to testify about his source or sources.) Keller's decision to defend Miller was controversial because Judith Miller was controversial. In terms of principals, it was the right thing to do and Keller deserves applause for his decision there.
But Greg Mitchell's beyond the thought required for that. He's not much of a thinker -- he struggles with comprehension, as we've noted at Third. And when he's caught in factual errors, he changes them without noting he's altered them. So it's not surprising to read the 1700 words and hear Greg whine endlessly about the coverage of Colin Powell's speech to the UN and the WMD coverage ahead of the war and all the other things that the paper did . . . when Keller wasn't executive-editor.
It's a bit hard, I guess, to do the real criticism necessary. The real criticism would be calling out the Iraq reporting under Keller. That would be the Burnsie & Dexy Green Zone frolics. By the time Keller becomes executive-editor, the Iraq War has started. His era's problem is not pre-war coverage, it is the stenography that kept the Iraq War going. His problem is 'reporting' that appeared many, many days after it should have. Why does a report on a November 15, 2004 battle appear on the front page of the November 21, 2004 edition of the New York Times? Why the delay? Unless the paper's allowed the military to vet the copy before they published it.
Dexter Filkins is another Judith Miller because, if you buy into the argument that Miller got us into Iraq, or helped to get us into Iraq, it's Dexter Filkins and his lik that keep us there. He wants to reflect on his time in Iraq but not in any meaningful way. For instance, he doesn't want to talk about the limited realities he does see (from the Green Zone) or, for that matter, that his movements are limited. The ultimate embed has promoted the myth that Iraq was a place where he could move freely in article after article. (And the Times has mainly relied on stringers, Iraqis, to explore the areas outside the Green Zone.)
Truth in advertising (because we won't call it "reporting") would have meant a lot more Americans would have grapsed earlier what the reality was.
Bill Keller should be pushed on the issue of the use of white phosphorus used on the residents of Falluja and how Dexter didn't report on it. Bill Keller should especially have to explain how Abeer Qasim Hamza was repeatedly nameless in the paper? Ellen Knickmeyer (Washington Post) filed a major report when the news broke that the military's story -- ran with no questioning or skepticism by the New York Times -- from months prior was false, that 'insurgents' had not attacked a family home, that it was US soldiers and that they gang-raped 14-year-old Iraqi Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi, murdered her, murdered her five-year-old sister Hadeel Qassim Hamza and both of her parents Wassim Hamza Raheem and Fakhriya Taha Muhasen. And Ellen Knickmeyer named the victims. The New York Times rendered them invisible over and over again. To read the New York Times coverage was to wonder if the "14-year-old girl" who was raped and killed by US soldiers had a name. She didn't in one report after another. She didn't during the court martials, she didn't have a name.
Ask Bill Keller how that happened? Ask him how the paper 'reported' ahead of the Article 32 hearing? Because what the paper did was present the defense case. Before the defense did. A defense that military law expert Eugene Fidell would state, after it was presented at the Article 32 hearing, "This is not a defense known to the law." But days before, the paper had a 'report' that argued just what the defense did. How did that happen?
Ask Bill Keller why Dexter Filkins did campus appearances in 2006 claiming that he wasn't allowed to print what was really happening in Iraq?
There are many things regarding the Iraq coverage during Bill Keller's reign as executive-editor to complain about (there are many things to praise as well: Sabrina Tavernise, Damien Cave, Alissa J. Rubin, Tim Arango, etc.). I'm not really sure why he's expected to forever answer for the coverage by other people before he was executive-editor. One reason may be that, as usual, Greg Mitchell's unable to do the work required to launch anything but a critique that's been gone over and over and over by every outlet except the New York Times. By the way, while The Nation remains silent over the talk of extensions, long, long ago Elisabeth Bumiller was reporting on that for the New York Times. Don't expect Greg Mitchell to ever note that either.