Friday, September 18, 2009

Contagious Love Experiment

He said he grew up assuming that peace didn't work and that violence was the only way to solve a lot of problems. After serving in Iraq, he discovered that violence causes more problems than it solves and hurts a lot of people in the process.
"When I did see progress, it was through things that I was told were weaknesses, like compromise, understanding and negotiation," Stieber said.
Curran had a similar life-changing experience. During his second tour in Iraq, the former Marine and his squad were tearing apart an Iraqi man's home. Rather than get angry, Curran said the man showed them compassion and served them tea.
"He opened my eyes to a lot of the humanity of the Iraqi people and the power that acts of kindness can have," he added.
That act of kindness has followed Curran halfway around the world and has changed not only his point of view but also his family. And now he is hoping to take that contagious act of love and kindness across the country.

The above is from John Lindenberger's "On a peace mission" (North Platte Telegraph) about John Stieber and Conor Curran. Stieber's a CO and both are Iraq War veterans. They are part of the Contagious Love Experiment. If you'd like to catch them, these are their upcoming dates.

9/18 Oshkosh

9/19 Scottsbluff


9/20-21 Wild, Wild America

9/22 Casper


9/24 Sheridan- Public Library, 6:30



9/26 Billings

9/27 Big Timber

9/28-30 Bozeman- 29th at the Christus Collegium, 7:30pm

10/1 Townsend

10/2 Helena



10/5 Missoula


10/11 Yakima

10/12-10/15 Seattle/Tacoma/Olympia area

10/18 White Salmon


10/19, 20 Portland

10/21 Salem

10/22 Corvallis

10/23, 24 Eugene

10/25 Dunes City

10/26 Coos Bay

10/27 Port Orford


10/28 Crescent City

10/31 Eureka

11/1 Ettersburg

11/2 Fort Bragg

11/3 Santa Rosa

11/4 Winters/Davis

11/5 Sacramento

11/6 Stockton

11/7 San Jose

11/8, 9 San Fransisco

11/10, 11 Berkely

11/12 Greyhound to Kansas

11/20-22 School of the Americas Watch, Fort Benning, Georgia

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

Friday, September 18, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, Biden's visit gets some press attention, Triple Canopy does as well, Chris Hill's testimony last week revealed prior knowledge of an assault (which the press has ignored) and more.

Diane Rehm returned Monday as host of NPR's
The Diane Rehm Show and today on the second hour, Iraq was a topic for Diane and her panelists James Kitfield (National Journal), Elise Labott (CNN) and Farah Stockman (Boston Globe).

Diane Rehm: Alright, let's talke about Vice President Joe Biden's trip to Iraq which is presumably more under control but it sure doesn't look that way. He's in the Green Zone and the bombs are dropping all around him.

Elise Labott: Just a mile from where he was having lunch with Prime -- or Ramadan, kind of ending the fast, with Prime Minster al-Maliki. And there were rockets that kind of landed on the American Embassy compound. And that was over two days. It seems to be under control now. This was the third trip that Biden has made this year. He was just there as recently as July. And he's supposed to be the kind of point person in the administration to look over Iraq and we've heard a lot and we've talked a lot on the show about all the security problems that Iraq has been facing in the last few months and this renewed sectarian violence. This was really a political trip. This was a message by the administration to the Iraqi leadership of two things. First of all, they're moving from this military relationship to a more strategic relationship and they want the Iraqis to know that even though the troops are not leaving, the administration is still going to give it that Cabinet level support that it needs and it's also "You need to get your political house in order."

Diane Rehm: Well what about Biden's statement, "If you want us to leave earlier, we will abide by your wishes"?

James Kitfield: That's been the case for some time, you know, ever since 2006, we ceeded that-that authority to the Iraqis. They can tell us to get out anytime they want. What's worrying the Americans is Prime Minister Maliki running on his support for a referendum on maybe pushing our departure up a whole year so in other words instead of getting out in 2011, get out the end of next year. And we're very worried about that. We think that would be moving too fast the security situation is not stable enough and these-these rockets, even while Biden was meeting in the Green Zone with Maliki, kind of underscore our concern.
Diane Rehm: Farah?

Farah Stockman: Well I just also wanted to point out that a lot of violence in the north in Kirkuk and Mosul, and uh --

Diane Rehm: He talked to Kurdish leaders as well.

Farah Stockman: Right. I think the Kurds are also -- there's a lot of tension between Arabs and Kurds and this was not a story that we were hearing a couple of years ago. You know the Kurds have oil and they want to develop their oil fields by giving a higher percentage of uh profits to these oil companies that are coming in. They want to sweeten the deal and uh Maliki's people don't want to do that. So that when they give the Kurds money for their oil, they want the Kurds to take, uh, to take a hit basically to take a bigger cut out of their own money. There's a lot -- they still haven't passed the oil law and a big agenda on Biden's -- a big agenda item for Biden.
Elise Labott: One of the things also on his agenda was "Listen you need to incur more foreign investment. You need to sweeten these deals for the foreign investment that's coming in." And so he's saying there's going to be a big conference in Washington next month on kind of incurring foreign investment and so they really need to get that oil law in order and also there's some security problems in the north that's where as we we said a lot of these attacks are and the administration it seems are going to try to take a bigger role in trying to settle disputes between Arabs and Kurds which are really shaping up to be the dirtiest part of the politics in Iraq right now.

US Vice President Joe Biden has been in Iraq this week meeting with various leaders. Yesterday's news, unremarked upon in US outlets, would be the political jockeying of Ibrahim Al Jaafari and Nouri al-Maliki as both worked overtime to prove they could be the most insulting to a visiting foreign official. Both made pointed remarks to outlets about issues such as Iraq's elections being Iraq -- and only Iraq's -- business. For those late to the party, Jaafari was the prime minster before Nouri. He was also the first choice of Iraqi MPs to be prime minister in the spring of 2006 but the US nixed that and demanded Nouri. Jaafari is part of the new Shi'ite alliance (Iraqi National Alliance) and it's thought that Jaafari's presence was what had Nouri insisting he wouldn't join the alliance unless he was promised that they'd re-nominate him for prime minister following January's scheduled elections. They refused to meet that demand and Nouri has not joined the alliance so far.

KRG notes that Biden was in Erbil Thursday and met with various officials including KRG President Masoud Barzani, KRG Prime Minister Nechivan Barzani, KRG Prime Minister designate Barham Salih. Barzani and Biden held a joint-press conference and the KRG quotes Biden stating, "The United States understands that the Kurdish people, like so many other Iraqis, suffered terribly -- suffered terribly under the rule and the regime of Saddam Hussein. And the United States and the rest of the world will never forget that. The transformation and the economic development of this region since 2003 -- indeed, since the 1990s -- has been a truly remarkable transformation and a success story." Barzani is quoted stating, "We reiterate our commitment to the constitution of Iraq and to solving outstanding problems through dialogue and peaceful negotiations with Baghdad." In addition, the KRG adds, "The discussions focused on the Kurdistan Regional Government's relations with Baghdad, the unresolved status of Kirkuk and Article 140 of the Iraqi Constitution. The pending hydrocarbons law, the governance system in Iraq and the commitment to the Constitution were also discussed." UPI adds, "Joe Biden's visit to Baghdad earlier this week -- his third this year -- came hot on the hells of a lightening visit by Russia's energy minister as the scramble for Iraq's oil riches heats up. Just as Sergei Shmatko sought favorable terms for Russian companies in an upcoming oil contract auction, Biden was hustling on behalf of the U.S. oil giants who have long dreamed of getting their hands on what may be the largest untapped oil reserves in the world." Bill Van Auken (World Socialist Web Site) also reports on the oil issues of the visit, "In his meetings with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, who is Kurdish, and Masoud Barzani, the president of Iraqi Kurdistan, Biden apparently pushed for a compromise with the Iraqi federal government in Baghdad on the issues of territorial borders and control of oil. [. . .] During the course of his visit, the US vice-president has made clear his concern that a bigger piece of this pie should go to the American oil companies, whose interests have played a prominent role in the prosecution of the Iraq war since well before the invasion of March 2003."

On Tuesday's
CNN's Situation Room, video here, transcript here, Wolf Blitzer informed that CNN's Chris Lawrence was "the only television correspondent traveling with the vice president". Lawrence explained that they got "on the plane and left out of Andrews Air Force Base, we didn't even know where exactly we were going or when we would get there. This is one of those secret trips -- not like going to London or Paris or visiting allies like that. So it was all kept very hush-hush." Chris Lawrence landed the only US television interview with Biden from Baghdad (click here for video). Ross Colvin, Tim Cocks, Missy Ryan and Jon Boyle (Reuters)report, "U.S. Vice President Joe Biden pressed leaders of semi-autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan on Thursday to compromise on the potentially explosive issue of how to manage and share the country's vast oil wealth. Biden said he did not expect the long-running feud over land and oil between Iraq's minority Kurds and its Shi'ite Arab-led government in Baghdad, seen a main threat to its fragile stability, would be settled before national polls in January."

In Mahmoudiyah today, shoppers were surprised by a bombing.
Xinhua reports the bombing took place "at a crowded market". Iran's Press TV explains it was a car bombing and adds that the city is "south of Baghdad . . . located within the so-called 'Triangle of Death' where sectarian tensions hiked in 2006 and 2007". Khaled al-Ramahi, Tim Cocks and Sophie Hares (Reuters) report that the bombing claimed 7 lives with twenty-one more left injured and remind that Mahmudiya was last rocked by bombings September 10th. In addition, Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) adds a Baghdad roadside bombing wounded two people.

Turning to the topic of reports and studies,
Nat Hentoff (Metro West Daily News) notes Physicians for Human Rights' August 2009 report "Aiding Torture: Health Professionals' Ethics and Human Rights Violations Demonstrated in the May 2004 inspector General's Report" and says, "This PHR report quotes from a February 2004 report by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) on interrogations in Iraq, but as PHR has previously noted, "hooding was used both during transportation and during interrogation," not only in Iraq. And we can only guess what special forms of hooding were invented in the CIA's secret prisons." For the report [PDF format warning], click here.

According to the February 2004 report of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) on treatment of deatinees in Iraq:
Hooding [was] used to prevent people from seeing and to disorient them, and also to prevent them from breathing freely. One, or sometimes two bags, sometimes with an elastic blindfold over the eyes which when slipped down, futher impeded proper breathing. Hooding was sometimes used in conjunction with beatings thus increasing anxiety as to when blows would come. The practice of hooding also allowed the interrogators to remain anonymous and thus to act with impunity. Hooding could last for periods from a few hours to up to 2 to 4 consecutive days, during which hoods were lifted only for drinking eating or going to the toilets.

Still on the ICRC, as noted in
yesterday's snapshot, the US military closed their prison in Camp Bucca. The International Committee of the Red Cross has a photo essay of families visiting prisoners in Camp Bucca and notes, "For families who used to visit their relatives detained in Bucca, southern Iraq, the journey was always long, perilous and costly, but well worth it. Since October 2005, the ICRC had helped make the journey possible, not least by covering part of the costs. In Spetember 2009, with the closure of the American facility at Camp Bucca, the ICRC ended its family-visit programme. During the four years that the programme ran, almost 30,000 detained people received 146,000 visits from their relatives with ICRC support."

David Bedein (Philadelphia Bulletin) reports RAND Corporation's "Withdrawing from Iraq: Alternative Schedules, Associated Risks, and Mitigating Strategies" from July was submitted to Department of Defense this week. Bedein notes that the report found that the central government in Baghdad would not be able to 'eradicate' al Qaeda in Iraq.The report was released in July and (my summary) it argues that a draw down is fine but US troops cannot leave Iraq. Because of al Qaeda in Iraq? No, the report is primarily arguing that a full US departure would lead Turkey to invade. And, since July, it's been a rare week that the report's assertion hasn't been decried by some Turkish news outlet. For example, Sunday Hurriyet Daily News ran the editorial "From the Bosphorus: Straight - RAND report wreaks of arrogance:"
There was a time, a certain age of innocence really, when it was possible to despise the CIA and associated intelligence agencies for their apparent evil. But today, we must regard them with contempt for their stupidity. A case in point of international diplomacy at its arrogant worst is the new RAND Corporation report upon which Daily News Ankara bureau chief Serkan DemirtaƟ reported in the weekend newspaper. The "sponsored" research by RAND basically urges the U.S. Obama Administration to threaten Turkey with "negative consequences" to its European Union bid should any incursion into northern Iraq impede American withdrawal from that desperate and war-torn country. [. . .]So we take great offense that RAND believes Turkey should be muscled into continuing this policy as insurance against a military incursion by Turkey in the wake of an Iraqi civil war sparked by the American exit. Such a report, particularly if embraced by Obama as policy, is simply a guarantee that the legitimacy of the "Kurdish opening" will be challenged by many in Turkey and probably derailed. Essentially, RAND's warning risks a self-fulfilling prophecy. We take particular offense that RAND would suggest U.S. coordination with European allies to make sure Turkey "understands" that any move into Iraq will harm the country's EU bid. RAND should "understand" Turkish sentiment. It is clear this institution does not. And this is why we can only summon contempt for a report that reeks of arrogance. This has not been a minor issue in Turkey and Hurriyet is among the most recent to weigh in and
Sol's reporting on it today. It's surprising that a RAND report which has caused so much controversy hasn't been reported on by the networks or US daily papers. Or maybe not surprising.The authors of the report are Walt L. Perry, Stuart E. Johnson, Keith W. Crane, David C. Gompert, John Gordon, Robert E. Hunter, Dalia Dassa Kaye, Terrence K. Kelly, Eric Peltz and Howard Shatz. In their preface [PDF format warning, click here for report] they note:The analysis supporting this report was completed in May 2009, andthe illustrative schedules all assume implementation decisions having been made in time for implementation in May, if not earlier. To the extent that such decisions are made later, the schedules would likely be pushed back accordingly. We recognize that any drawdown schedule that calls for U.S. forces remaining in Iraq beyond the end of December 2011 would require renegotiating the Security Agreement between the United States and Iraq.

The SOFA might be renegotiated? The study was prepared at the request of US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. Are you starting to get why US outlets haven't really explored the RAND study? No, the Iraq War has not ended and doesn't appear to be.
Steven Verburg (Wisconsin state Journal) reports, "About 200 Madison-based members of the Wisconsin Air National Guard are heading for Iraq in the next week."

Yesterday's snapshot noted the Istanbul meet-up of Ahmed Davutoglu (Turkey's Foreign Minister), Hoshyar Zebari (Iraq's Foreign Minister), Walid Mualem (Syria's Foreign Minister) Amr Moussa (Arab League Secretary General). Today's Zaman notes the meeting continued on Firday and that Turkey's Foreign Minister "Davutoglu also said the meeting in Istanbul would be preparation for the upcoming meeting of the High-Level Strategic Cooperation Council, which will be held in Baghdad, with Prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki presiding over the meeting." He states, "This is such an important project that, when realized, peoples living side by side for centuries will reunite in a shared economic basin. Our capabillities and assets will be mobilized to create a very powerful economic region." Barcin Yinanc (Hurriyet Daily News) reports, "Turkey again tried to assume the role of 'troubleshooter' Thursday as it pressed Syria and Iraq to ease the tension stemming from Iraqi accusations that Syria is behind bomb attacks in Baghdad." That's how it's reported in Turkey -- a long, long way from assertions Hoshyar Zebari has made on Al Jazeera TV where he repeatedly insists that Turkey sees Iraq in the right and Syria in the wrong.

Meanwhile, on the topic of Iraqi refugees, a rebuke to Nouri and his strong-arm attempts on relief agencies and the United Nations.
Julian Isherwood (Politiken) reports Iraq's Sunni Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi "has urged Denmark to reconsider the forced repatriation of Iraqis whose requests for asylum in Denmark have been refused." The Copenhagen Post adds that "Helle Lykke Nielsen, associate professor at the University of Souterhn Denmark's Centre for Middle East Studies, believes the message is a way of telling Denmark that its current method of forcing Iraqis back to their country needs to be changed." Nouri al-Maliki has been eager to force the returns. He's now joined by the dim bulb Chris Hill, US Ambassador to Iraq. Testifying to Congress last week [see Thursday's snapshot here, Friday's here and Kat's post here], Hill insisted to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the Iraqi refugees had to return for Iraq's own security. Yeah, the widow who saw her husband and oldest son shot dead before her and now lives in Syria? Without her, all of Iraq will crumble. Chris Hill was so very lucky that the press had little interest in his testimony. It was with the House Foreign Relations Committee, for example, under direct questioning from US House Rep Ted Poe that Hill had to admit the US had prior knowledge that the assault on Camp Ashraf and the Iranian refugees in the camp would take place. Hill was blabbering on about assurances that Nouri had given that the residents would be treated fairly and humanely and Poe interruped.

US House Rep Ted Poe: Excuse me, just to clairy the question -- or the answer -- was this before or after the security forces came into Camp Ashraf that we got this assurance?

Chris Hill: This uh, was before, because our -- The UN mandate for the -- for us to run -- to be responsible for uh this camp ended at the end of 2008 -- after 2008 -- that is, starting January 1, this year -- it is the sovereign and sole responsiblity of the Iraqi govenment and because of that, we sought from them written assurances that they would treat them humanely and that they would not forcibly repatriate them where they would be -- they could be -- tortured or persecuted based on their religious or political beliefs.

US House Rep Ted Poe: It doesn't appear that they have been treated humanely if eleven of them were murdered and thirty-six others were arrested.

Chris Hill: Well on July 28th, Iraqi forces went in to try to set up a uh police station. They regarded that as uh an exercise of their sovereignty because Ashraf is in Iraq.

US House Rep Ted Poe: Did we know about that before it happened?

Chris Hill: We -- I understand that -- They told us that -- Yes, they were going to do this.

So not only were their warnings from members of the British Parliament but Nouri -- according to Hill -- informed the US government that the 'action' was going to take place July 28th. For those who've forgotten, US troops were in the area when the assault took place and were ordered to stand down as they saw people bloodied. After his exchange with Poe, way after, US House Rep Sheila Jackson Lee raised the issue and he fell back to "my previous answer" (to Poe) and declared that the US had "two committments that wev'e seen in -- what we've had in writing from the Iraqi government. One, that they will respect the human rights of the camp residents. And, two, that they will not engage in any forced repatriations to Iran." Yes, that was a ridiculous response. Nouri had already broken the early agreement with the assault on July 28th. As US House Rep Sheila Jackson Lee observed, "Well I think that they're handling their business poorly and I would ask that, if there are human rights violations this blaring, we need to have answer and I appreciate if we'll have the opportunity to get them."

Answers would be good on contractors as well. (Sheila Jackson Lee pressed Hill on that issue but he tossed out a lot of words to say nothing.) Today
T. Christian Miller and Aram Roston (ProPublica) report that Triple Canopy -- sold as the 'better' choice when compared to Blackwater -- has a long history of its own scandals: "questionable weapons deals, government bungling and a criminal investigation that was utlimately closed without charges bieng filed, according to newly released files. Company employees told federal investigators that Triple Canopy swapped booze for weapons and supplies from the U.S. military. They said the company bought guns and other arms on the black market in Iraq. Some worried that the money was flowing into the hands of insurgents, records show."

TV notes.
NOW on PBS begins airing tonight on most PBS stations and this week's topic is:Commercial surrogacy -- when women are paid to carry and deliver babies for people who cannot conceive them biologically -- is banned in almost every developed country in the world except the U.S., making it a land of opportunity for parents around the world.In June, celebrity parents Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker announced publicly they had twins delivered via surrogate. But surrogacy services and their oversight vary from state to state, creating a strong potential for deceit and fraud.This week, NOW's Senior Correspondent Maria Hinojosa follows the surrogate pregnancy of a single mother over the course of several months. When she was 14 weeks pregnant, the surrogate agency that brokered the deal between her and the future parents vanished, leaving the woman stranded without health insurance and nowhere to turn.NOW investigates how shady surrogacy services and a lack of regulation in the U.S. may be defrauding hopeful couples and victimizing mothers trying to help them.Washington Week also begins airing tonight on many PBS stations and sitting around the table with Gwen tonight are Ceci Connolly (Washington Post), John Harwood (New York Times), Greg Ip (The Economist) and Martha Raddatz (ABC News). Remember that there is a web bonus each week that you can grab on podcast (video -- they also have audio podcast but it doesn't include the bonus) or wait for Monday morning when the bonus is available at the website. Also, a PBS friend asks that I note that they didn't just redesign their website at Washington Week, they added many new elements. One sidebar is on the right and it contains links to the latest writing by Washington Week regulars such as CBS and Slate's John Dickerson's article on health care at Slate. Meanwhile Bonnie Erbe will sit down with Karen Czarnecki, Donna Edwards, Eleanor Holmes Norton and Tara Setmayer to discuss the week's events on PBS' To The Contrary. Check local listings, on many stations, it begins airing tonight. Online, they address the announcement that Diane Sawyer will begin anchoring ABC's World News Tonight next year. And turning to broadcast TV, Sunday CBS' 60 Minutes offers:
The DEKA Arm New technology is making it possible for amputees to pick up small, delicate objects they never thought they would master thanks to the biggest innovation in prosthetic arms since World War II. Scott Pelley reports. Watch Video
Anna Wintour The sunglasses come off the high-queen of haute couture in this rare and unprecedented interview, in which the Vogue editor reveals why she always wears them and much more to Morley Safer in her first long-length interview for U.S. television. Watch Video
Coach Carroll Byron Pitts profiles USC college football coach Pete Carroll, who, in addition to his success in making the Trojans a football dynasty, is making positive contributions toward decreasing gang violence in Los Angeles. Watch Video
60 Minutes Sunday, Sept. 20, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.
Editor's Note: Due to live programming at 8:00 p.m., ET, 60 Minutes will probably run a full hour only in Pacific and Mountain Time zones. Central and Eastern zones may have shorter versions of this broadcast. All three segments will be available on

nprthe diane rehm show
the boston globefarah stockman
elise labott
bill van auken
cnnwolf blitzerchris lawrence
laith hammoudimcclatchy newspapers
randhurriyet daily newsdavid beiden
ross colvintim cocksmissy ryanjon boyle
60 minutescbs newspbsto the contrarybonnie erbenow on pbs

Thursday, September 17, 2009

It Knows Me By No Other Name, Mary Travers

Mary Travers, who died of complications from leukemia on September 16th at age 72, was best known as the visual focal point of folk icons Peter, Paul and Mary. With her fervent stage moves and long, straight blond hair, which she often shook to mesmerizing effect, Travers brought both powerful lungs and sex appeal to folk music.
Travers, who was diagnosed with leukemia in 2004, received a bone marrow transplant in 2006. But her condition worsened, and by earlier this year, she had stopped performing. A resident of Redding, Connecticut, Travers died at Danbury Hospital and is survived her husband, Ethan Robbins, and daughters Alicia and Erika.

That's from David Browne's "Mary Travers (1936-2009)" (Rolling Stone). Mary Travers died yesterday. Peter, Paul and Mary won 5 Grammys and they had five million selling albums and thirteen songs make it into the top forty. Time's Richard Corliss writes:

Born in Louisville, Ky., in 1936, Mary Allin Travers moved as a baby with her writer parents to New York City's Greenwich Village, where she would join the blooming local folk scene in nearby Washington Square Park. In her teens, as a member of the Song Swappers, she sang backup for Pete Seeger and appeared on Broadway in the short-lived folk musical The Next President. She also earned money babysitting; one of her charges was an infant English aristocrat, the fifth Baron Haden-Guest, who as Christopher Guest would direct and star in the 2003 film A Mighty Wind, an affectionate parody of the folk-boom years.

American Songwriter has a nice overview of her career and life and a few quotes from people who knew her. I'm going with Joe Smith who used to run Warner Bros Records. Disclosure, I've met him once through C.I., but I'm going with him because I think he has the best quote:

When we signed Peter, Paul And Mary in the early '60s, we knew they had great taste in material and a distinctive sound, but the clincher was the visual impact of this gorgeous blond woman and with these two bearded guys. The woman of course was Mary Travers and her talent was huge. The three argued a lot but, when the music started, they were very much together and Mary was the difference maker. Super bright, super talented, and a pleasure to know and work with.

Don Rhodes (August Chronicle) wrote a rememberance that made me cry. This isn't the section that had me crying, but it's an excerpt:

They were near the height of their popularity, with hits including If I Had a Hammer, Puff the Magic Dragon, Stewball (Was a Race Horse), Lemon Tree and (That's What You Get) For Lovin' Me.
They made America aware of Woody Guthrie by recording his song This Land Is Your Land, and they brought Bob Dylan to national prominence by making hits of his songs Blowin' in the Wind and Don't Think Twice, It's All Right. They scored their only No. 1 hit in recording then-unknown John Denver's Leavin' on a Jet Plane.
An article I read in The Saturday Evening Post helped set up my first meeting with Peter, Paul and Mary in 1965. The writer said that the trio were so concerned about their sound that they always had a microphone check about an hour before their concerts.
Today, it's a common practice, but most acts in those days would just be announced and go out on stage and do their shows. I figured if I showed up an hour or so early, I might get to meet the trio during the sound check.
So, after making arrangements with the booker to cover the show for a suburban Atlanta weekly, I got to the auditorium early, headed for backstage and met PP&M moments after they arrived in a station wagon. I also ended up getting them coffee and talking with them at length in their dressing rooms.

The Telegraph of London's obit includes this:

She continued her work as a political activist, taking part in missions to El Salvador and Nicaragua, and, in 1983, visiting the Soviet Union to investigate the problems faced by Russian Jews. With Peter and Paul she performed at national marches for "women's choice" in Washington and demonstrated in support of the anti-apartheid movement outside the South African embassy. The trio also campaigned against homelessness in New York City and in support of migrant strawberry workers in California.
Over the years there were a number of reunion tours, and nearly 20 new albums between 1978 and 2008, including a 35th anniversary release, Lifelines, with Ramblin' Jack Elliott, Dave Van Ronk and Pete Seeger. A boxed set of their music was released in 2004.

If I were home, I'd pull out some vinyl and have a ton of things to write. I mentioned that to C.I. who handed me a zip drive with Album 1700 on it -- Peter, Paul and Mary's album with "Leaving on a Jet Plane." It opens with "Rolling Home" where all three swap lines and Mary's voice rings clear on it. Lyrics include: "If you don't live what you defend, You can't give so you just bend, Now if you care what people think, like they supplied some missing link, Then just stand back and watch it sink, so low." Second track is "Leaving on a Jet Plane" which was their last number one hit and Mary sings lead. She's an accent on "Weep for Jamie" but she owns "No Other Name," track four. And this should have been a single. Paul wrote that song and "Weep for Jamie" is probably one of the strongest of the 'unknown' songs.

You will know me
If you will
By the wind on the hill
You'll know me by
No other name
Some girls will die for money
Some will die as they're born
And some will swear they died for love
Some die every morn
I'll die alone
Away from home
Nobody knows where I came
Stone at my head
Will say I'm dead
It knows me by no other name
It knows me by no other name

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

Thursday, September 17, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, the US targets the widow of a US soldier, Camp Bucca closes, face-to-face between Iraq and Syria, Blackwater (like the US) remains in Iraq, and more.

CNN reports that one US military prison in Iraq, Camp Bucca, has been closed. BBC Radio World Service notes that at one time the prison held many prisoners "some of whom were held for years without charge." Hannah Allam (McClatchy Newspapers) explains, "It grew into the military's largest prison in the world, and commanders used it as a closely monitored laboratory for studies in long-term detention. The results changed U.S. military doctrine on enemy prisoners of war, leading to new manuals on interrogation and detention practices, commanders told McClatchy in previous interviews. As Iraqi officials point out, however, the changes at Bucca came only after the Abu Ghraib prisoner scandal exploded into the news, undercutting the U.S. military's perceived moral superiority and fueling support for insurgents." Martin Chulov (Guardian) observes it was the largest US prison and that "Camp Cropper near Baghdad airport -- will still be operating" and he quotes Mohaamed al-Janabi stating, "I was there for 18 months. I was arrested by the Americans at my uncle's house because one of their trucks had been blown up the day before. They fed me well and they trained me in woodwork and I only ever did four nights in isolation. But I should not have been there in the first place. My story was similar to almost everyone else I met there." The US military states that they now only run the prisons Camp Taji and Camp Cropper in Iraq and still holds 8,305 prisoners. Alsumaria explains, "US army will submit a list of detainees who might be released to Iraqi authorities which have 75 days to issue warrants before any release." UPI notes that the closing meant some prisoners were transferred to Camp Cropper. Gina Chon (Wall St. Journal) reports that "the U.S. military plans to transfer the Camp Taji detention facilities, which cost $5 million a year to operate and maintain, to Iraq control." Iran's Press TV provides the history of Camp Bucca, "The isolated Camp Bucca began as a small tent camp for prisoners of war just after the US-led 2003 invasion. Over the next six years, it grew into a 40-acre desert prison filled with row after row of watchtowers, barbed-wire-topped fences and metal trailers or plywood barracks to house detainees."

Muntadhar al-Zeidi (also spelled Muntadar al-Zaidi in some outlets) was released from a Baghdad prison (under Iraqi control) on
Tuesday. AFP reports the journalist is now in Greece for medical treatment and "A family member said he suffers frequent headaches after being injected with unknown chemicals by jailers." An Iraqi correspondent for McClatchy reports that before going to Greece, Muntadar first was first received by Muhsin Bilal, Syria's Minister of Information, in Damascus.
Tensions continue between Syria and Iraq.
Xinhua reports Ahmed Davutoglu (Turkey's Foreign Minister), Hoshyar Zebari (Iraq's Foreign Minister), Walid Mualem (Syria's Foreign Minister) Amr Moussa (Arab League Secretary General) met in Istanbul today. The meeting follows the governments of Syria and Iraq withdrawing their ambassadors from each other's country after Nouri al-Maliki's government began making charges against Syria following the August 19th Baghdad bombings and demanding that Syria hand over 179 former Ba'athist members. BBC News notes, "Iraq says it has evidence that groups based in Syria orchestrated the bombings in Baghdad, a claim Damascus has dismissed."
AP reports the ministers for Iraq and Syria exchanged charges and counter-charges with Zebari insisting the country was "fueling sectarian issues" as well as "supporting terrorism and violence that threaten Iraqi unity" while Mualem (also spelled al-Moallem by some outlets) accused the Iraqi government of scapegoating Syria to cover up for its own failures. However, Hurriyet reports that the dominant issue of the talks was Iraq's drought issue: "Nearly all Iraqi ministers complained about the severe drought problem in their war-torn country, with the interior minister saying that the water shortage has sparked tensions among locals in central and southern Iraq. He said the shortages have become a security issue in the country."

Meanwhile, US Vice President Joe Biden has been in Iraq.
Scott Wilson (Washington Post) reports that "Biden pressed Iraqi leaders Wednesday to approve as quickly as possible legislation that establishes rules for the planned January general election and to make the next round of bids to develop Iraqi oil concessions more attractive to foreign investors." Edwin Chen (Bloomberg News) adds, "In back-to-back meetings with top Iraqi officials while in Baghdad yesterday, Biden addressed issues such as job creation and regulations that he told them would lead to greater interest from companies that want to do business in the oil-rich nation, according to an administration official who briefed reporters on condition of anonymity." David Rising (AP) notes, "Over his three-day visit, Biden's main focus was expected to be plans for January elections and the ongoing violence in Iraq's north. Biden last visited Iraq on July 4 to spend U.S. Independence Day with the troops. During that triGina Chon (Wall St. Journal) detailed Biden's agenda for today, "On Thursday, Mr. Biden is scheduled to travel to the Kurdish north to hold talks with regional president Masoud Barzani. Tensions between the semi-autonomous Kurdish government and Baghdad have worried U.S. officials, who fear the disputes could turn violent."p he also met with his son, Beau, who is an Army captain serving in Iraq."

The White House issued the following last night and we'll note it in full since there's been so very little press coverage of Biden's visit:PRIME MINISTER MALIKI: (As Translated) In the name of God, most compassionate, most merciful, I welcome Vice President Biden in his visit to Baghdad. This is not his first visit. It is a continuation and a follow-up of previous visits and a follow-up on the issues of mutual interest to both countries. And as in each time, these were beneficial and positive discussions and that continue with the discussions held previously during our previous visits or also during my visit to Washington. And we -- he affirmed further the need to deepen the positive relationship between the two countries and taking them and advancing them. We have discussed the steps that has been -- have been taken so far with regards to the Status of Forces Agreement that are so far going on with a high credibility and taking their normal course. We also discussed the issues within the Strategic Framework Agreement which we have very high hopes and expectations. And within the Strategic Framework Agreement, touching that issue, we focused on all the aspects of cooperation -- economic, political, cultural, scientific and commercial -- and the ways to foster and to support further the political process, this political process that has cemented the democracy in Iraq. And we also talked about the various challenges that we face. And in steps on the implementation of the Strategic Framework Agreement, we had started discussions early on in Washington during the work and the proceedings of the high coordinating -- coordination committee between the two countries. We talked about that and we talked about -- through which there was this conference that will be held on October 20th and 21st in Washington. We discussed that and the need for this conference to be a success in order to provide investments, opportunities for the companies and also in order to provide -- and we spoke about how to advance the various legislative reform needed with regard to investments and so forth. In that endeavor, the National Iraqi Authority for Investments will be putting forth some lists -- lists about the needs for types of contracts and the type of investments that this conference would attract for the big corporations, the capital and the merchants to know what we need. And we ask also from the various relevant ministries in Iraq to put forth such lists to define other needs in contracting and opportunities. And we also focused on the way to fight terrorism, this threat that is threatening the security and the peace -- international security and peace. And we also talked about our ongoing efforts to pursue the terrorists who hit the lives of people and who hit the infrastructure. And once more I welcome Vice President Biden, thank him for his visit, and hope for further good relations -- mutual bilateral relations between the two countries. VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN: Mr. Prime Minister, thank you once again for the welcome. I'm delighted to be back in Baghdad to discuss with the Prime Minister and his advisers issues of mutual interest. And I think we concluded some very productive talks. And once again, Mr. Prime Minister, I want to thank you for your hospitality as well as your leadership. And I want to assure -- I've assured the Prime Minister that the United States' commitment to strengthen our relationship with Iraq remains strong. President Obama emphasized that when the Prime Minister visited in July, and I repeat it again today: Our goal is to work in partnership with Iraq to help the Iraqi people build a country that's sovereign and stable and self-reliant -- and they're well on their way. I want -- we want a long-term relationship based upon mutual respect. And we look at the accomplishments of the last several years and in recent months -- I think we're making steady progress mutually toward that goal. We're determined to stand with our Iraqi friends as they address the challenges that remain and that -- PRIME MINISTER MALIKI: (Inaudible.) (Laughter.) VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN: I'm very tired. (Laughter.) (The interpreter translates.) My compliment to the interpreter. (Laughter.) At the end of -- at the end of June, we took a very important step by transferring security responsibility in Iraqi cities and towns to the Iraqi Security Forces. This transition was part of the security agreement concluded between our countries last November. And in accordance with that agreement, we will continue to provide training and support for Iraqi Security Forces. And we'll also move ahead in other aspects of the security agreement by removing all U.S. combat brigades from Iraq by the end of August 2010 and all remaining U.S. troops by the end of 2011. As the terrorist bombings on August 19th so vividly demonstrated, the enemies of national unity in Iraq are ready to murder innocent civilians as they attempt to re-ignite sectarian conflict. Once again, on behalf of President Obama and the American people, we extend our condolences to the families of the victims, and condemn such attacks. And we are confident -- we are confident -- the terrorists will fail. The Iraqi people and security forces charged with protecting them have shown great courage, resilience and restraint in the face of this danger. And they'll continue to reject the forces of division and destruction. I'm confident of that, as well. We also discussed the Prime Minister's efforts of his government to strengthen national unity. The Prime Minister was kind enough to discuss with us several of the issues that are in need of resolution if the Iraqis are to achieve the bright future that they have fought so hard for and deserve. As the Prime Minister also mentioned, and mentioned just a moment ago, we discussed the status of the Strategic Framework Agreement. This agreement lays the groundwork for a strong and long-lasting relationship between our countries in cultural, educational, economic and scientific fields. And it will, in our view, allow us to partner in improving governance and delivering services and promoting the rule of law, as well. The Strategic Framework Agreement is the foundation of our relationship, and we look forward to joining our Iraqi friends in developing and carrying out programs that will benefit both our countries in the near future and the long term. We're expanding our economic partnerships, and we very much look forward to the Iraqi Business and Investment Conference that was also referenced that is going to be held in Washington next month and which we believe will help bring together American and Iraqi businesses for additional economic activity in Iraq. Iraqis as, as I might add, as well as Americans have made many sacrifices in the last six and a half years, and much hard work remains. But under the Prime Minister's leadership and the efforts of the Iraqi people, Iraq is on the road to a better future. And we remain committed to cooperating with the Iraqi government and people as they work together to create a peaceful and prosperous Iraq. Again, Mr. Prime Minister, thank you for your hospitality.


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad sticky bombing which wounded a driver and a bodyguard for "the head of Islamic studies in the Sunni Endowment office," Baghdad mortar attacks which wounded four people, a Mosul roadside bombing which wounded two people, a Mosul truck bombing which claimed the life of 1 suicide bomber and 3 civilians (six people -- three police -- were wounded), a Mosul car bombing which injured four people, a Kirkuk sound bombing followed by a roadside bombing which claimed the lives of 2 members of Kurdish intelligence and left three more injured. Reuters notes an Abu Ghraib bombing claimed 2 lives and left a third person injured and, dropping back yesterday, a Baquba car bombing which left five people injured, a Baghdad car bombing which injured one person and a Mosul roadside bombing which wounded two people.


Reuters notes 1 person shot dead in a Mosul drive-by and 1 more person wounded in a shooting attack on his store.


Reuters notes 1 corpse discovered in Baghdad.

Correction to
yesterday's snapshot noted, "Yesterday's snapshot noted the release from a Baghdad prison of Iraq journalist Muntadhar al-Zeidi (also spelled Muntadar al-Zaidi in some outlets) where he'd been sentenced for throwing two shoes at Bully Boy Bush on December 14th. Today, another shoe thrower apparently emerged. The Telegraph of London reports Ahmed Latif was shot dead today by the US military in Falljua after he hurled insults and a shote at them." Sahar Issa reports today that the man was wounded. Nawaf Jabbar and Ned Parker (Los Angeles Times) add the man's name is Ahmed Abdul Latif and that Latif fell to the ground after being shot according to eye witness Ahmed Mukhlif who says that then "the four U.S. Humvees stopped and a man stepped out, his rifle pointing toward the wounded Iraqi, and a policeman intervened and prevented the American from firing again."

Peace Mom
Cindy Sheehan hosts a weekly radio and online broadcast, Cindy's Soapbox. This week's first guest is independent journalist Dahr Jamail whose latest book is The Will to Resist: Soldiers Who Refuse to Fight in Iraq and Afghanistan. We noted a section of the broadcast yesterday and we'll note another section today where Cindy and Dahr discuss his new book.

Cindy Sheehan: Dahr tell my listeners about your book
The Will to Resist. I just I support soldiers who refuse to go to these illegal and immoral wars. I support them financially, I support them morally. My son didn't want to go but he thought it was his duty so he went and he was killed hours after he actually got to post. But the thing I support about these-these men and women is that they realize they're being used as tools of the US empire and they don't want to die and they don't want to kill anybody as tools. So tell my listeners about your book.
Dahr Jamail: And that is really the spirit of the book. It's about people in the military, most of which are Iraq and/or Afghanistan veterans, some of them are active duty folks. And it's about people that basically joined the military for various reasons whether it's for economic reasons or out of patriotism or wanting to serve their country and then realizing that being in Iraq or Afghanistan, it literally pushes them up against a moral crisis where they realized they're being asked to follow unlawful orders and so many of them understand that, for example, not only the situation in Iraq but the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan violates the Geneva Conventions as well which by definition given that the US is a signatory of the Geneva Conventions, violates the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution which then by definition puts a soldier in a moral crisis where they have to decide "Do I follow these orders which are actually illegal by both domestic and international law or do I stand up and refuse?" And to do the moral thing as well as the lawful thing, these people realize, well I'm going to have to take a stand and basically go up against against the US military and be court martialed and probably have to do some jail time and so I-I started running into people who were actually taking public stands against both occupations as well as other kinds of resistance against of which there's myriad types of resistance -- whether it's from doing fake patrols in Iraq and Afghanistan or coming back home and becoming very outspoken against it and having things like Winter Soldier events like Iraq Veterans Against the War sponsored. So really I started running into all these different types of resistance that veterans and active duty folks were involved in and realized "Wow, there's more than enough material here to write a book."

Cindy Sheehan: And so, um, most of my listeners know what Winter Soldier is, my listeners are very smart and they're very well informed. But for maybe a few that wouldn't know what Winter Soldier is, could you explain to my listeners what that was?

Dahr Jamail: Winter Soldier was a phenomena that began during Vietnam when similarly soldiers were coming back from Vietnam and realizing that most of the people in this country were not getting any real clear information about how bad it was over there and what was actually happening. So similarly a bunch of Iraq and Afghanistan War veterans associated with
Iraq Veterans Against the War came back and held a big conference in Silver Spring, Maryland -- it was spring a year ago. And about fifty-six or so of them testified on different panels about what they did in Iraq, what they saw over there and showed photos and showed videos and really gave us a clear picture about what it was and the atrocities they were carrying out and how horrible the situation really was. It was a really shocking conference to be a part of and be there and was a very, very difficult weekend but a very necessary one and so it was all over the alternative media of course -- Pacifica outlets, some satellite stations, Democracy Now!, etc., Laura Flanders, but of course no big shocker corporate media in large part basically censored it.

We're stopping there. KPFA carried the first IVAW Winter Soldier starting Friday morning, continuing Saturday and Sunday. Aaron Glantz and Aimee Allison anchored the coverage.
Pacifica Radio's webpage offered all of that coverage in a live stream and once offered it in full. Then it was decided that KPFA The War Comes Home was archiving, so it could be removed from the Pacifica site. It's a little over a year later. The War Comes Home? It's been history for months now. Click here for March 14th live coverage, here for March 15th live coverage, here for March 16h live coverage at KPFA. Now in real time, WBAI elected not to break away from their very pressing weekend schedule of repeats of dead Al Lewis programs and moldy-oldy records. Translation, they didn't broadcast Winter Soldier on Saturday or on Sunday. Democracy Now!? Click here and here for their broadcast (which is more of a mix). Iraq Veterans Against the War's Winter Soldier page provides a link to video of this Winter Soldier (other Winter Soldiers have been staged regionally since -- at least two in California). Click here for Sprouts coverage of it (one hour, audio, also a mix). Chris Hayes wrote about it for The Nation (which was tremendously appreciated and that's not sarcasm). Despite a promise from a publisher of an indy rag -- shall I start telling tales off the school yard? -- that he would write about it . . . he 'forgot.' Let's drop the pretense that anyone did a damn thing in Panhandle Media. The ones who did -- whether I like them or not -- are mentioned: Aimee Allison, Aaron Glantz, Christopher Hayes, Amy Goodman, Laura Flanders. The ones who didn't? Oh, I could make a list. Including the author whose book was cited at Winter Soldier, who swore he'd cover it and then . . . like ____ . . . forgot.

And all those promises
That you made me from the start
Were filled with emptiness
From the desert of your heart
Every sweet caress
Was just your second best
Broken promises
-- "All Those Promises," written by
Janis Ian, from her album Folk Is The New Black

Sidebar, Janis is touring (always) and one show is in Dallas, Texas. A record producer friend asked that we get the word out on it. Tickets are priced from $25 to $75 for the October 22nd concert presented by the North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce in cooperation with StraightOut Media & Marketing, SRO Artists and Revenge Touring, Inc.
Click here for details and to purchase tickets. Back to the topic at hand . . .

No offense, but I'm not in the mood for this bulls**t. This bulls**t not being called out loudly in real time resulted in where we are today.

Little useless Jeff Cohen shows up a week after Winter Soldier presenting a pat-on-the-back column for Panhandle Media where he LIED that people could hear it on the radio and get it here and there and everywhere. LIES. WBAI did one damn day. That's NYC. That's a huge population center and it's the media center, THE, in the US. One damn day. More important to air repeats of Al Lewis' program -- in March 2008, more important to air repeats of Al Lewis' radio program, Al Lewis who died in February 2006.

We covered it in this community. This isn't empty finger-pointing. Community-wide, refer to "
I Hate The War," "Iraq snapshot," "Jason Hurd (IVAW's Winter Soldiers Investigation),"
IVAW's Clifton Hicks," "Kelly Dougherty at Winter Soldiers Investigation," "Corporal Eric Estenzo testifies at Winter Soldiers...," "Steve Mortillo at Winter Soldiers Investigation,"
adrienne kinne reveals the v.a. system," "Nachos in the Kitchen (and Adam Kokesh),"
Tantrum in the Oval Office" & " THIS JUST IN! INTERVIEW IN THE OVAL OFFICE!" (joint-post), "Katrina vanden Heuvel avoids Winter Soldier," "Saturday's Winter Soldier Investigation," "Truest Statement of the Week," "Editorial: Are you ready to listen," "TV: Nothing-ness," "Veterans Healthcare," "Roundtable," "Negative Critisicm of Winter Soldiers Investigation," "And the war drags on . . .," "Iraq snapshot," "Dahlai Wasfi: Rock Star," "Garret Reppenhagen at Winter Soldier," "Jesse Hamilton Winter Soldier," "IVAW, silence, Hillary," "CounterPunch never heard of IVAW?," "Common Dreams doesn't include Winter Soldier," "Iraq snapshot," "Jesse Hamilton Winter Soldier Investigation," "Iraq snapshot," "The Peter Pans of Panhandle Media refused to cover Winter Soldiers," "Jesse Hamilton, Hillary, Barack," "Video, Hillary's Iraq speech," "Jesse Hamilton Winter Soldier," "Iraq snapshot" and "Ron Cantu at Winter Soldier." I may have missed something but that's the coverage beginning the Thursday Winter Soldier started and continuing through the week after it ended.

There were tons of stories to be told, tons of thing to comment on or share. But people took a pass. And then after, people took a pass on calling out the silence. Whores like Jeff Cohen showed up to attack Real Media for not covering but he had nothing to say about the many, many in Panhandle Media who ignored it. (And Real Media did do some coverage by the way. We covered that in real time. I'm not in the mood to go through all that now.) (John Stauber critiqued the silence on Winter Soldier. To be clear, John Stauber did not and is not a whore. He and Cohen were both guests for a KPFA segment and I don't want anyone to wrongly think that he's being lumped in with Cohen.) FAIR, Coehn's brothel, showed up the Friday after Winter Soldier ended with CounterSpin where they found time to cluck over the lack of coverage . . . but forgot to include themselves because FAIR has a website and forgot to do a damn thing on Winter Soldier before it started or while it was going on. That's empty finger-pointing. Repeating, in this community, we covered it in real time.

This topic will come back up at
Third this weekend. But for now, this nonsense of acting like Panhandle Media did something? It didn't do a damn thing. It's as pathetic as Green Party members being thrilled that Amy Goodman gives their national convention, where they nominate a presidential candidate, a mention in headlines. The Green Party gets a headline. The DNC convention gets ten hours of coverage from Amy Goodman. The RNC convention gets tens hours of coverage from Amy Goodman. But Greens want to pretend that getting tossed scraps is something wonderful. I'm not in the mood for scraps. Winter Soldier was a HUGE story and should have been the biggest story for anyone slightly-left-of-center all the way to the extreme end. Now The Progressive missed Winter Soldier. Completely. While it was happening, they took a pass. But the week after Winter Soldier, they're live blogging a multi-day DNC event. Don't forget that. Don't forget where their priorities were.

Good luck to Dahr with his book
The Will to Resist: Soldiers Who Refuse to Fight in Iraq and Afghanistan but I'm not in the mood for pretending what happened didn't happen nor am I dependent upon Foreign Policy in Focus, The Progressive or anyone else for good reviews or a paycheck. So I can and will call them out for their gross negligence and silence. And Ava and I went round and round with FPIF in real time. The refusal of others to do so, the refusal to hold them accountable? It's part of the reason why Iraq has fallen off the radar despite the fact that the illegal war continues.

In related news, which is also good news for Random House, George W. Bush is more popular than anyone could have guessed (Crown Publishing will be publishing Bully Boy Bush's memoir I Came, I Killed, I Giggled aka Decision Points). So says
a new poll by Gallup which finds US President Barack Obama's highest job approval coming on the Iraq War with 56% under "approve." Since Barack's 'plan' is nothing but Bush's plan, 56% of the American people -- those polled by Gallup -- have just given George W. a big sloppy kiss.

Don't know just what I wanted
But I know I wanted more
Someone smooth, presentable
To blend with my decor
And now at night I think of how
You grinned when you undressed
And I find I miss you
More than I'd ever guessed
-- "The Carter Family," written by Jacob Brackman and
Carly Simon, from her No Secrets album (Carly's new album, Never Been Gone, is released October 27th)

And apparently a large number of Americans just wanted someone "smooth, presentable" to continue the policies of George W. Bush because that's what Barack's done and, with regards to Iraq, that's all he's done. The Status Of Forces Agreement (a treaty masquerading as a SOFA) was pushed through by the Bush White House -- and prior to it being pushed through, Barack joined the chorus of US Congress members calling out the SOFA (Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Russ Feingold, etc.). And Barack promised that, ten months after being sworn in, US forces would be out of Iraq! (Houston, Texas, speech given February, 2008. Check Tom Hayden's dresser for mash notes and fan fiction on the speech.) Sworn in and, golly, he decides the 'plan' for Iraq is . . . exactly what Bush mapped out. And 56% of Americans surveyed are fine and dandy with it. Barack Obama has not ended the Iraq War. Iraqis have not stopped dying, US forces have not stopped dying.
Greenville Daily News reports that the 1073rd Maintenance Company of the Michigan Army National Guard "earlier served more than a year in Iraq is going back for 12 more months." They quote Sgt Amanda Cole stating, "We're not as comfortable with our mission. We've never done this before. A lot of the weapons we'll be using have never been used before by members of our unit." At The Hill, two comments on the polling results are worth noting. Jim: "Isn't it interesting that his highest approval rating is simply for the continuation of the Bush doctrine in Iraq . . . hmmm . . ." and Bob: "Exactly the point! He is doing best in the one thing he has not tried to change!!! America? Do you get it yet?" Do not think the right-wing hasn't noticed the hypocrisy of so many on the left. Paul Gottfried (Right Side News) went to town yesterday, "These days, as I walk among my formerly pacifist colleagues and read their preferred news sources, I don't hear a murmur of complaint about 'the president's strategy' for extricating our troops from military danger. It is as if we were living in messianic times, when the wolf is lying down with the lamb. This is all because we now have Obama in the White House and overwhelming Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress. Once I was naive enough to wonder why the critics of our war in Iraq on the right and on the left did not join hands in a common enterprise. The answer is that the Democratic Left, with few exceptions, was never opposed in principle to military entanglements overseas. While rightwing opponents of Bush's foreign policy were marginalized and vilified for their dissent by GOP commentators and the mainstream conservative movement, the Democratic Left engaged in griping as a means of taking power." The only 'change' has been the 'antiwar' movement packing it in after they whored to elect a Democratic president. Jeremy Scahill (The Nation via CBS News) asks, "Why Is Obama Still Using Blackwater?" and notes:

Two years to the day after the Nisour Square massacre, Blackwater remains in Iraq, armed and dangerous. As The Nation has
reported, the Obama administration recently extended the company's contract there indefinitely. Blackwater has big-money contracts in Afghanistan as well, working for the State Department, the Defense Department and the CIA. As in Iraq, Blackwater forces are alleged to have shot and killed innocent civilians there. We now know that Blackwater was hired as part of the secret CIA assassination program that former Vice President Dick Cheney ordered concealed from Congress and that the company continues to work for the CIA as part of its drone bombing campaign in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Kristin M. Hall (AP) reports on military widow Hotaru Ferschke whose husband, Sgt. Michael Ferschke, died serving in Iraq August 10, 2008. He was shot dead during a house search. He and Hoatru had married a month before and she gave birth to their son, Michael "Mikey" Ferschke III, eight months ago. They married by proxy which means a ceremony "on seperate continents" and with his dying a month later, immigration officials are insisting the marriage isn't valid because, get this, it was not consummated.A child would argue the relationship was. More importantly, immigration isn't supposed to be concerned with consummation. They're required to make sure that marriages are valid but as to whether or not a couple actually has sex? That's really none of the government's business. There are couples -- if you caught that bad 20/20 'medical' show, you know this -- who do not have sex. The article notes talk that the law needs to be updated but it actually needs to be tossed out and any judge worth his or her salt would move to do so quickly. It's creating a barrier that's not present in other legally recognized marriages in the US.Hall reports that Hotaru and Michael spent "13 months" together "before he left for Iraq in April 2008. He had proposed and they were trying to conceive a baby before he deployed, Hotaur Ferschke said." Approximately two weeks after he deployed, Hotaru discovered she was pregnant and the couple then moved quickly to have the proxy marriage. This was to be sure Michael's military benefits covered the pregnancy expenses and, you can be sure, this was also to be sure -- for both Michael and Hotaur -- that their relationship was legally recognized.Now immigration is threatening deportation. Her mother-in-law, Robin Ferschke states, "She's like my daughter. I know my child chose the perfect wife and mother of his child." US House Rep John Duncan has a bill that needs a sponsor in the Senate. Apparently Bob Corker and Lamar Alexander are too busy to sign on. (Tennessee is the family's state.)

We'll close with this from the last of the independents, the true independents, Chris Hedges (via Information Clearing House):

The right-wing accusations against Barack Obama are true. He is a socialist, although he practices socialism for corporations. He is squandering the country's future with deficits that can never be repaid. He has retained and even bolstered our surveillance state to spy on Americans. He is forcing us to buy into a health care system that will enrich corporations and expand the abuse of our for-profit medical care. He will not stanch unemployment. He will not end our wars. He will not rebuild the nation. He is a tool of the corporate state.The right wing is not wrong. It is not the problem. We are the problem. If we do not tap into the justifiable anger sweeping across the nation, if we do not militantly push back against corporate fraud and imperial wars that we cannot win or afford, the political vacuum we have created will be filled with right-wing lunatics and proto-fascists. The goons will inherit power not because they are astute, but because we are weak and inept.Violence is a dark undercurrent of American history. It is exacerbated by war and economic decline. Violence is spreading outward from the killing fields in Iraq and Afghanistan to slowly tear apart individuals, families and communities. There is no immunity. The longer the wars continue, the longer the members of our working class are transformed by corporate overlords into serfs, the more violence will dominate the landscape. The slide into chaos and a police state will become inevitable.The soldiers and Marines who return from Iraq and Afghanistan are often traumatized and then shipped back a few months later to be traumatized again. This was less frequent in Vietnam. Veterans, when they get out, search for the usual escape routes of alienation, addictions and medication. But there is also the escape route of violence. We risk creating a homegrown Freikorps, the demobilized German soldiers from World War I who violently tore down the edifice of the Weimar Republic and helped open the way to Nazism.

bbc radiocnnthe guardianmartin chulovmcclatchy newspapershannah allam
the los angeles timesthe washington postscott wilsonedwin chenbloomberg newsassociated pressdavid rising
cindy sheehan
dahr jamail
janis ian
carly simon
jeremy scahill
kristin m. hall
chris hedges

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Carly Simon, David Saw

Tired. Very, very tired. We spoke today (repeatedly) and also hustled to the Senate to catch the hearing John Kerry chaired on Afghanistan.

I'm yawning, I feel like I have an eyelash poking my left eye but can't find it and all I want to do is crawl into bed.

Fall in California is just another day. Fall in DC requires hibernation. Don't get me wrong, it's pretty. But I miss my year round weather that CA always promises and delivers.

Okay, Carly Simon's mentioned in this article. From Shea Conner's "Where the river flows" (St. Joseph's News -Press):

RiverSong Chorus is a Sweet Adelines International Chorus based in St. Joseph made up of 40 women from throughout Northwest Missouri. What sets RiverSong apart from other choirs in the area is that the group sings every song in four-part a capella (barbershop quartet style). And the current members and alums have had a blast doing it for 50 years.
“I love the friendships, I love the challenge and I love the opportunities,” says Leslie Galbreath, RiverSong’s management team coordinator.
RiverSong Chorus will celebrate its 50th anniversary with a concert at 7 p.m. Sept. 19 at the Missouri Theater.
The theme for the show is “River Rising.” The body of the concert will relate the stages in a woman’s life to the long life of a river. Numbers will include “The River” by Garth Brooks, Andy Williams’ “Moon River,” “Let the River Run” by Carly Simon and Carole King’s “I Feel the Earth Move.”

I know what else I can cover. I loved David Saw's Broken Down Figure and I felt awful that I didn't know the album when it first came out. Then, a little while later, when David Saw went to England, I was thinking, "Okay, this will be where he gets some appreciation." Instead, they slagged on him in one review after another (of his album). I kept thinking, "Okay, you're most recent musical export, England, one that dominated in any way, was the Spice Girls. But David Saw, you find superficial?"

They just tore into him and, reading the reviews, I felt as if they'd read his lyric sheet and not bothered to even listen to the album.

About once every ten years, I will feel shocked (not just angry) about a mob. This was a mob. This was a mob just trying to rip David Saw apart. It had nothing to do with what he'd recorded. I have no idea what it had to do with.

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

Wednesday, September 16, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, Joe Biden's second day in the Green Zone sees a second day of shelling, a shoe tosser is shot dead by US troops, Cindy Sheehan and Dahr Jamail confront realities, the KRG has a new Prime Minister nominee and Twitter and Facebook oh my.

Peace Mom
Cindy Sheehan hosts a weekly radio and online broadcast, Cindy's Soapbox. This week's guest is independent journalist Dahr Jamail whose latest book is The Will to Resist: Soldiers Who Refuse to Fight in Iraq and Afghanistan. We'll note a section of their discussion today and a section on the book later in the week (hopefully tomorrow).

Cindy Sheehan: So, you know, many people voted for Barack Obama. And I fully, fully believe that the Democratic base in this country is anti-war. They want the war in Iraq over, the war in Afghanistan over, they want the troops to start coming home. That actually, in reality, hasn't happened. And this week has been -- there's a lot of stuff coming out of Iraq. You know the people in the government in Iraq are afraid that [Nouri al-] Maliki is trying to turn into a quasi dictator. He's ousting some people from the Interior Ministry which has been very corrupt. People I know in Iraq tell me the Interior Ministry is awful. There were 25 Iraqis killed in northern Iraq near Mosul the other day. It seems like things are really heating up in the Kurdish areas. And yesterday, 44 Iraqis were killed and 61 wounded in another Kurdish village. And we had four US soldiers killed not yesterday but the day before. And there was a report that came out that said the US is going to be taking troops out but they're going to be replacing them with mercenaries -- more than 2 to 1, in a 2 to 1 ratio, mercenaries coming from Uganda or Kenya. Dahr, what do you -- I know you have a lot of good contacts there and I know that you've been there a lot -- what's your analysis of what's happening in Iraq?

Dahr Jamail: Well for starters, Maliki is not a quasi-dictator, I mean he already is. He's basically the new Shia Saddam. I mean, there's no question about it. This is a guy that the US put into power. They're maintaining him there and largely through the intelligence services and the Mukhabarat and the Ministry of Interior. I mean, that's how this guy is staying in power. Saddam knew that the glue of his power resided in the intelligence services and Mal -- the US has helped Maliki do the same thing. Let's, let's remember that this is a guy, there was no democratic process involved in him becoming prime minister. He was basically inserted to replace Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari because Condaleeza Rice wanted him there, you know at the beckoning of George W. Bush. So there's that. And we look at the overall situation. Violence is not slowing down. Last month was the single bloodiest month for Iraqi civilians in over a year's time. We are starting to see more and more attacks on US forces. We still have over 131,000 US military personnel there. That number is not decreasing but the generals in charge of the situation are saying that that number will actually -- we'll have well over 100,000 troops in Iraq till at least half-way through next year. So it's a dire situation and when I was there earlier this year, there was a car bomb in Baghdad just about every day I was there for the month that I was there. We're looking at a situation where the country overall has become extremely Balkanized, where literally going from one neighborhood to another is almost like going to a different country. You basically had to embed with a militia to get where ever you wanted to go. So it's a dire situation and it's far, far, far from over. And we're looking at a situation where, I think in the coming months, we should expect it to get worse unfortunately.

Cindy Sheehan: And unfortunately, when we say expect it to get worse, most Americans equate that with US deaths. So there's a -- there's one aspect that has been fortunate for US soldiers is those amounts of deaths have been going down so Iraq has practically disappeared off the radar screen of our media and of public consciousness. One of my friends was in Washington D.C. on March 19th for the sixth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq and he was passing out fliers and one woman told him, "Why are you doing this? The Iraq War is over. Obama's president."

Dahr Jamail: Right. And it's amazing Cindy -- as you know all too well, probably better than anyone -- that the single most challenging thing to those of us trying to wake people up and inform people about what's actually happening in Iraq and what is US policy, the single greatest obstacle at this point is a guy named Barack Obama, where so many people have drunk the Obama Kool-Aid and they wore their t-shirts in November and he was elected and they feel like, "Hey, that's it. It's all good now, right? He's pulling out of Iraq and it's going to take some time -- I'm sure it's a bit complicated -- but things are getting better there, right?" Or "We won" -- quote unquote, "right?" And it could not be further from the truth. I mean we're still loking at anywhere between a dozen and a hundred Iraqis being killed every day and attacks on US troops there continue, the infrastructure's far worse now than it was even a couple of years ago and that that's even possible seems pretty amazing. And it's extremely unstable politically. And I think it's probably just a matter of time before we have another huge explosion and, you know, unfortunately what it really takes for people to pay attention over there is when more and more US troops are being killed but unfortunately that's probably what's going to happen -- not even talking about Afghanistan.

Cindy Sheehan: Well talk about the surge that began in January of 2007, I believe.

Dahr Jamail: Yes.

Cindy Sheehan: And about how the Republicans and the neoconservatives who are still, of course, in Obama's administration, how they term that a "success." What was really the cost of that so-called "success" and why do they even think it's a success?

Dahr Jamail: Well you know it's amazing, it's been another amazing propaganda campaign and a successful one -- the whole so-called "surge" -- because the reality is that what really caused dramatic decrese in American deaths was the buying off of the resistance -- where basically the US instituted a program back in 2006 before they even started sending in these 30,000 additional troops, where they literally found corrupt tribal sheiks and paid them off to get fighters under their control to stop attacking occupation forces. And it was relatively successful so temporarily the US stood up this 100,000 strong Sunni militia comprised mostly of former resistance fighters, paying them $300 a month in US tax payer money and we saw a dramatic decline in US deaths. But now it's-it's really complicated the situation politically because now we have these armed milita men running around and they're not being encorporated into the government forces as was promised and so we're looking at a tinderbox politically where these guys want political power. What's going to happen in the upcoming January elections, which are not far off now, if these guys don't get the political power? Many of them are already talking about going back into the political resistance and we know what that means.

Cindy Sheehan: Right and also what you talked about earlier is the Balkanization of the country has basically -- and I have not been to Iraq myself but I've talked to Iraqis all over the world, I've been to Jordan meeting with them -- and they basically say that neighborhoods that were very diverse are now just the opposite. They're all, like you said, you have to -- you have to pass through checkpoints to get to each neighborhood which had a result of -- and let's just face it Dahr, over one million people are dead and four million people displaced so the country's been decimated in population.

Dahr Jamail: It has. And in addition to those figures, we can add another eight million in need of emergency assistance and who are also living in abject poverty on less than a dollar a day according to OXFAM International. I mean, the situation is not getting any better for the Iraqi people. It's really amazing how bad it got and how it's continued to worsen and yet, of course, so many people -- even so-called anti-war folks in this country -- think, "Oh well it's better." Or, "It's won." Actually, you can't tell that to people in Iraq just trying to survive on a daily basis.

Cindy Sheehan: And it's heartbreaking. And the tragedy is that many of the large anti-war movements were co-opted by the Democratic Party. And I just get so frustrated because, like you, I haven't stopped my activism, I haven't stopped working, war is wrong no matter who's president. But it's really frustrating because these same people who supported Obama even those his Iraq plan was unsatisfactory and even though he promised to send more troops to Afghanistan, he promised to do this cross-border bombing into the tribal regions of Pakistan, they supported him, they raised money for him, they worked for him and they voted for him, they had their followers vote for him and now they write a petition to him to stop it.

Dahr Jamail: Right and, as we know, it's going to take a lot more than signing your name on a petition or wearing a t-shirt or even at this point walking in a street on a weekend. It's really, you know, the only thing that this administration or any other administration is going to understand is when it becomes politically unviable for them to continue forward with the policies that they are engaged in. And it's up to us to show them, look, not only do we disagree with this but we will, we will be your political death if you continue on with this policy that you literally won't be able to stay in power and have any kind of a base whatsoever if you continue forward with this US empire policy. And so that's what it's going to take. It's going to take real mobilization and real sacrifice and, uh, really people throwing their bodies on the front lines to make this stop. Not just signing a petition, not just trying to ask Nancy Pelosi "please," but, you know, clearly these people will only listen to things when they're personal stake -- i.e. their own political power and their own political future -- is at stake. And, again, if we aren't making -- if we aren't pushing them up against that wall, then to think that anything's just going to change? We might as well go to Disneyland.

Cindy Sheehan: Well, you know, we're on a subject -- we' just have like a minute before we have to take a break -- what do you think about these people who support Obama and they don't make any demands on him or political demands? They say, "Well at least he's better than [John] McCain." What do you think about the -- the foreign policy choices Obama's made compared to what -- would McCain have done anything differently?

Dahr Jamail: Yeah, I think that that's a nice rationalization for political sloth for people to say, "Well you know Obama's -- at least he's better than, you know, insert, you know, name of idiot here" -- whether it be McCain or Sarah Palin or George Bush because the reality when we look at the hard facts which are the National Security Strategy of the United States and the Quadrennial Defense Review report these are the exact same reports running US policy now as we had under George Bush. These policies have literally not changed, they haven't been updated, nor were they supposed to be. And, in fact, of course we've maintained Bush's Secretary of Defense in Robert Gates and, as you noted, most of the leading hawks and advisers from [Bill] Clinton's time as well as some that were hung over from George W. Bush. So we've had literally no policy change whatsoever. Instead all we have is, you know, a charasmatic, articulate, intelligent person as president as opposed to a bumbling buffoon. But that's the only thing that's really changed. When we look at the hard policies on the ground we've seen just nothing more but a continuation of George Bush's administration. We are really in George Bush's third term if we're going to get down to the brass tacks.

US Vice President Joe Biden remained in Iraq today continuing meetings with various leaders.
Gina Chon (Wall St. Journal) reports that for the second day of his trip, the Green Zone was agains targeted and Biden and Nouri had "to remain inside the building because of the explosions." The building? Nouri's palace. Today is day two of the rocket or mortar attacks aimed at the area the vice president of the United States is in. Day two. Certainly, in the US, all newscasts Tuesday led with that news. Right?

First up, Vice President Joe Biden makes a surprise visit to Iraq. During the trip, he was scheduled to meet the country's leaders and with U.S. troops. But there was a distraction when the International Zone in Baghdad came under fire. A CNN reporter said the vice president wasn't injured, but it wasn't clear whether he was actually near where the attack took place because reporters aren't allowed to discuss the VP's location. That's for security reasons. Mr. Biden arrived in the Middle Eastern nation on Tuesday. He said he made the trip, in part, to show support for the Iraqi government as it takes full control of its country. All U.S. combat troops are scheduled to leave Iraq by next August.

Is that Katie Couric with The CBS Evening News? Is it Brian Williams with NBC Nightly News? Is it Charlie Gibson with ABC World News Tonight? Maybe it's Jim Lehr with PBS' The NewsHour?

It's Carl Azuz, the anchor of CNN Student News. It's Carl Azuz doing the newscast aimed at middle and high school students. What a proud moment for the broadcast networks -- commercial and allegedly non-commerical. What a telling moment. Steven Lee Myers (New York Times) reports that 3 suspects were arrested in yesterday's shelling which used "107-millimeter rockets" and not mortars, that 2 Iraqis died and five were injured and that, "Inside the embassy compound, a piercing 'duck and cover' alarm began moments after the American military commander, Gen. Ray Odierno, told reporters traveling with Mr. Biden that security remained at its lowest levels since the war began". The US military issued a statement praising the "quick reaction" of US and Iraqi forces who "recieved small arms fire from a house near the launch site. As elements from the joint patrol maneuvered against the small arms fire, a second element captured three Iraqi males and three rocket rails belevied to have been used in the attack." Tim Cocks and Jon Hemming (Reuters) report that the three suspects were released within hours of their arrest. But don't expect your evening news to tell you or show you that.

Nobody stopped to hear him
Though he played so sweet and high
They knew he had never
Been on their TV
So they passed his music by
-- "For Free," written by
Joni Mitchell, from her Ladies of the Canyon album

And the Queen of
Panhandle Media, Simply Red Amy Goodman? Not a damn bit interested. Not a damn bit. But, in varying degrees, they all had time for Crazy Ass Jimmy Carter, didn't they? (The White House has again distanced itself from Crazy Ass Jimmy.) You couldn't get Iraq on your TV but you could get nonsense. You could get crazed musing. Dan Simpson spent over 30 years in the US diplomatic service. He's on the editorial boards of both the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Toledo Blade. Today, while adults throw tantrums, he's stuck pretty much alone in the grown up role. In a new column, he argues that the US must leave Iraq regardless of whether violence increases or not and that they shouldn't leave Iraq to be sent to Afghanistan. From his "Leave Iraq to the Iraqis:"

The attitude that the U.S. government should maintain as Iraqis sort out who will rule Iraq after the United States leaves should be clear: The 29 million Iraqis have the right of self-determination, a principle to which Americans attach the utmost importance when it comes to our own country.
The fact that it will be messy in Iraq, reflecting the history of the country and the different peoples who comprise it, is none of our affair and no justification whatsoever for the U.S. delaying withdrawal or for re-intervention. Nor is the fact that the current structure of the new, post-Saddam Hussein Iraq is in no small part our doing since the invasion of 2003. U.S. withdrawal from Iraq will take place for our own reasons, just as our initial attack on the country did.
But it will be messy. The ethnic and religious make-up of Iraq will lie at the basis of the problems, becoming more intense as the time for full U.S. withdrawal ticks down. The population is approximately 60 percent Shiite Muslim, 20 percent Sunni Muslim and 20 percent Kurdish. Each group wants to rule the country, or at least part of it. And one prize that comes with political power is access to the lion's share of the country's oil revenues, big money.

It will be messy and it is messy. Today's reported violence includes . . .

Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad sticky car bombing wounded one person, a second one injured another and a third one "destroyed one civilian car," the Green Zone attacks today (with mortars or rockest) resulted in at least two people being injured and unknown assailants blew up the home of a Sahwa leader in Saqlawiyah.


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 1 person (former police officer) was shot dead in Mosul.

Yesterday's snapshot noted the release from a Baghdad prison of Iraq journalist Muntadhar al-Zeidi (also spelled Muntadar al-Zaidi in some outlets) where he'd been sentenced for throwing two shoes at Bully Boy Bush on December 14th. Today, another shoe thrower apparently emerged. The Telegraph of London reports Ahmed Latif was shot dead today by the US military in Falljua after he hurled insults and a shote at them.

Turning to the issue of Camp Ashraf which is made up of Iranian dissidents belonging to the MEK who were given sanctuary by Saddam Hussein and have remained in Iraq for decades. Following the US invasion, the US military provided security for them and the US government labeled them "protected persons" under Geneva. Though Nouri 'promised' he wouldn't move against Camp Ashraf, but
July 28th he launched an assault. Over the weekend, Tim Cocks (Reuters) reported that "a six-week-old under strike" continues at Camp Ashraf as a result of the 36 residents who were hauled away and imprisoned by Nouri's forces. Gaelle Faure (Time magazine) observed, "Hunger strikers in Camp Ashraf -- along with those starving themselves in sympathy in Washington D.C., London, Berlin and Ottawa -- are demanding that the U.S. take back protective control of the camp. In the long term, they'd like permanent U.N. protection for the dissidents. Several lawmakers and lawyer groups in Britain are voicing their support. On Sept. 9, London-based law firm Finers Stephens Innocent released a legal opinion calling on Iraq to respect the Geneva Convention in protecting the camp dwellers -- and insisting the U.S. ensure their safety." Today, the Near East Human Rights Initiative (NEHRI) sends a press release to the public account which notes that Iraqi Parliamentarian Saleh Mutlak ("Secretary General of Iraq's National Dialogue Front") has stated, "On behalf of millions of Iraqis, I ask the United States and President Obama to uphold and follow through with US commitment for the safety and security of Ashraf residents in a proper manner. The people and political forces in Iraq an dArab countries are monitoring this situation vigilantly and for Iran to hold the upper hand in Iraq and to even be able to destroy Iranian refugees in Iraq would be a nightmare which we must present." The press release also notes that NEHRI intends "to send a humanitarian fact-finding mission to Camp Ashraf". John Hughes (Christian Science Monitors) terms the issue "a difficult foreign-policy and humanitarian challnge" for the White House:

One solution to the Iranian dissidents' problem would be for the US to give them asylum as political refugees. However, the US can hardly accept them as such while it continues to brand them members of a terrorist organization. Nor would that sit well with the Tehran regime, with which the US seeks engagement on Iran's suspected pursuit of nuclear weaponry. In view of the political implications, an asylum decision would need to take place at the highest official level, at least the secretary of State, if not the president.
The PMOI has raised the prospect of the United Nations dispatching a monitoring force to Camp Ashram. That is even less likely while such Iranian friends as Russia and China sit on the UN Security Council that would have to authorize it.
Clearly, the Ashraf dissidents should not be sent back to Iran against their will. That requires that the US exerts enough pressure on the Iraqi government to keep its word.

Jane Arraf (Christian Science Monitor) reports that Iraq's Shi'ite Vice president, Adel Abdul Mahdi is drawing a line between himself and the Shi'ite Nouri al-Maliki, "In an implicit criticism of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's reluctance to ask for help from the US following the June 30 pullback of combat troops, Dr. Abdul Mehdi called for a re-assesment of the role of US forces here that could result in more involvement for American troops sidelined by what he termed an over-optimistic view of security in Iraq." Abdul Mahdi belongs to the new Shi'ite alliance which Nouri refused to join after he was rebugged for his insistance that wins in January's provincial elections would result in his being named prime minister again. Abudl Mahdi tells Arraf, "Maliki will have his chance, others will have tehir chances, so joing the coalition with balanced rates would be the acceptable equation -- otherwise what is the point of having a coalition?" In a non-related development, Tehran Times states that Iranian pilgrims will not be going to Iraq this month for "the month of Mehr which starts from September 23 to October 23". In other political news, Sherko Raouf, Khalid al-Ansary, Michael Christie, Tim Cocks and Louise Ireland (Reuters) report that Barham Salih has been declared the prime minister of the KRG (Kurdistan Regional Government) and quotes Barham Salih from his, yes, Twitter feed declaring, "Kurdistan Parliament just nominated me for Prime Minister of regional gov. President Barzani will officialy task formation of new KRG." Oops, they didn't include the quote in full: "Kurdistan Parliament just nominated me for Prime Minister of regional gov. Pres Barzani will officially task formation of new KRG after Eid". Salih was formerly Iraq's deptuy prime minister, but he announced his resignation after July provinical elections in three KRG provinces. He currently has 2,734 followers on his Twitter account. While he himself follows such lumanaries as Oprah Winfrey, Thomas Friedman, Ahnuld of California and Stephen Colbert. Getting all with the tech savy 'news,' let's check out US Gen Ray Odierno's Facebook page where he posts nine paragraphs of Becky Pallack's Arizona Daily Star article. Stay away from AP, Ray Odierno, they don't play.

Staying with legal news,
Jamie Leigh Jones worked for Halliburton's KBR and was sent to Iraq where, she's revealed, she was gang-raped by co-workers and Halliburton employees "addressed" this by locking her in a pod. Halliburton has attempted to repeatedly prevent Jones from having her day in court. In May of 2008, Maddy Sauer (ABC News) reported Jones latest victory which was that Jones would get her day in court and not be confined to arbitration -- which Halliburton insisted was the correct venue for her case. Sauer reported that District Judge Keith Ellison "wrote in his order Friday that Jones' claims of sexaul assault, battery, rape, false imprisonment and others fall beyond the scope of her employment." Anabelle Garay (AP) reported last night that the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed Ellison's finding yesterday and her case will be "tried in open court" and not arbitration.

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