Saturday, December 08, 2007

Green Beans, Onions and Nuts in the Kitchen

A few weeks ago, I made a point to explain (because I'd offended one readers, and I do apologize) that I use canned vegetables when I'm cooking. That resulted in many e-mails and Ginger said I could share what she wrote about.

Ginger didn't grow up middle class, didn't grow up working class, she grew up poor. That's no reflection of 'wrong' on her or her family. It does reflect a wrong of our society and it does reflect a wrong of how we've gone from a nation that grasped poverty could effect anyone and the government's role was to assist (instead, we now treat poverty as a 'sin'). As a result, Ginger's family had to save everything. In terms of food, that meant much more than using the bones for soup or what have you. Ginger identifies as working class today but writes that those days left a big impression on her. In terms of fresh produce, if it spoils quickly, it rarely gets used. Ginger writes that she ends up trying to ration it or save it for something special. By that time, lettuce, tomatoes, etc. have gone bad.

My grandmother (who has passed away) did that as well and that went to growing up during the depression. You had to finish everything you ate in her house. However, there would be produce that got tossed out. She would complain that the store was selling bad produce but the reality was that she had waited too long and it had gone bad.

So there's a personal example and there's Ginger's example. There are four other e-mails similar to Ginger's. One had an additional issue which was suffering from eating disorders and still addressing the issue of buying food (although the eating part was under control).

So this is an issue for at least some and may be an issue for more than we know. Mass produced canned goods came about as part of a revolution in food. Before that, canning was a a revolution for communities. It's a way to ensure that people had food (in this case, vegetables) year-round. Fresh produce does have more nutrients. After than, frozen is better than canned. But I hadn't realized how many people felt under attack from certain current food movements.

If you live in California, for instance, it's very easy to write a food book and lecture/hector the nation. The climate is warmer and can produce a variety of crops year round. Well bully for you and your movement but your regiional tips are upsetting a lot of Americans. Canning came about for a reason (to prevent food from spoiling and to have it on hand for the non-growing seasons). Canned goods remain the most readily available produce throughout the country. It's one thing to note the nutrition order (fresh then frozen then canned). It's another thing to ride your high horse all over people's own lives.

A point not raised in e-mails that needs to be noted is that many shoppers (primarily women) are both working and running homes for others (by others, I mean not just themselves). They working on the clock and, off the clock, they're doing house work, raising kids, etc. Some do not have the time (or the fresh markets) to be dashing near daily for this or that piece of produce. The slow food movement is one that is nutrious. It's also tasty. If you're fortunate enough to benefit from it due to your area, be grateful but don't assume your life is everyone's life. (The woman who raised the issue lives in a remote, rural area and stocks up on canned goods due to the fact that they are so far from a grocer.)

So with all that in mind, I'm offering up a recipe this week that is both easy and that centers on a canned good.

Green Beans, Onions and Nuts
2 cans of green beans
1 onion sliced in rings or half-rings
1 ounce of nuts

In a skillet, saute the onions (in butter or oil) for a few minutes until tender. Add the nuts -- I prefer almonds; however, you can use whatever nuts you enjoy. If you're using almonds, you may want to roast them and we've covered the how-tos on that before. Add both cans of green beans and heat thoroughly. If I'm busy, I'll cover the skillet, turn the knob to the lowest heat for the burner and take care of whatever for five to six minutes. You can serve this as a side dish or over rice.

This is a very simple recipe and onions keep longer than most other produce. Onions contain vitamins B and C, are dietary fiber and are thought (including by the World Health Organization) to provide many benefits. Nutrititional information on green beans can be found on the back of the can and the same with nuts unless you grow your own. If you grow your own, you no doubt already know their benefits. For people with pecan trees, pecans work very well in this recipe.

I was discussing this topic with Ava and C.I. and they noted that in their area (Bay Area), they can dash into any produce market with no hassle but that's not the case for many areas of the country. They also noted that inner-cities tend to offer less variety of fresh produce (and less fresh produce period) so they agree no one should be made to feel guilty that they're not eating fresh produce. Once upon a time, before canning and mass transportation, we were all limited to the items that grew in our area. If you live in area where fresh produce is not in abundance, that's not your 'fault.' (And those who might respond 'move' obviously didn't grasp why some were hit harder by Hurricane Katrina than others.) I can imagine one chirpy person (I'm, in fact, thinking of one woman) e-mailing to say, "Well start your own food co-op!" Yes, do that. After you've washed your young children's clothes, after you've cooked a meal, after you've worked at a paying job all day, after you've checked your kid's homework and cleaned the house, get right on that. That was sarcasm. Food co-ops are wonderful but let's not be so amazed by their benefits that we fail to grasp the realities for many women today.

I do understand when people are offended and, repeating, I have never tried to make anyone feel bad for using canned foods. I have noted that if you're using canned goods, due to the sodium used for packing, you should rinse the contents of the cans before you begin cooking. I have noted that fresh is better nutritionally. But I do have canned goods in my pantry and I do use them in cooking. I am not fond of cream of anything (mushroom, chicken, etc.) being used as a cure-all (toss a can of cream of whatever on chicken and you don't have a meal, you have a really bad tasting dish in my opinion -- especially since so many today don't seem to understand that condensed soup requires diluting). But I was listening to the radio last spring when a woman was talking fresh-fresh-fresh. The male host of the program brought up that pizza was a way to get children to eat more vegetables and the woman recoiled in horror.

I've never read her book and have no interest in reading it. If she can't grasp that kids love pizza she either doesn't have kids or she lives such a 'wonderful' life that she really doesn't endure any of the struggles so many of us know as day-to-day living. She came off like an idiot and then used her hatred for pizza to launch into an attack on other foods. (To be clear, the host was speaking of pizzas you made at home, speaking of using fresh tomatoes, fresh vegetables and the pizza had no meat. But that wasn't good enough for the guest who launched into a screed.) The woman was from California and maybe her intent was to write a regional cooking book? If so, stay off the national circuit.

If you're reading this site, I'm assuming you're buying what's available in your area and what's affordable. There is no shame in that and, as the mother of eight kids, I know that many nights it was a struggle just to get that evening meal on the table. Don't let anyone make you feel guilty (that includes me) when you're doing the best you can. If you encounter someone like that guest I'm speaking of, remind yourself of the differences in her life and your own and don't feel any guilt. You can pity her because she's so inward that she's failed to grasp everyone does not have the opportunities she does and you can grasp that for all her talk of high-minded purposes, she really doesn't get that time and money are luxuries not every woman has. (She made a point to cite 'bad mothers' who just don't put in 'enough time' in thinking through their menus. She either has no children or has been blessed with angels or robots who always do what they're told and always eat what is served regardless of what it is.)

That guest was part of the 'slow food' movement. I love the slow food movement but I live in an area where I can utilize it. Others aren't so fortunate and any cook book writer who doesn't grasp that obviously missed many other things.

If you're coming here and thinking you're going to be judged, let me say that even if you dump a can of cream of mushroom on some chicken (nothing else) and toss that in the oven, I assume you know what you're doing. It's not something I'd fix but your kitchen is your kitchen and I wouldn't come in and try to rearrange your kitchen or tell you, "You're wrong!" For all I know, that can of cream of mushroom may be the only way you're going to be able to get your child to eat dinner. You know best about what you or your family will eat. The 'slow food' movement is going to run into a brick wall if the participants fail to grasp the realities for people throughout the country.

Dennis Kucinich is running for the Democratic Party's 2008 presidential nomination. Sean Penn has endorsed him in "Piano Wire Puppeteers" (CounterPunch):

High crimes and misdemeanors? How about full-blown treason for the outing our own CIA operatives? How about full-blown treason for those who support this administration through media propaganda?
While I'm not a proponent of the Death Penalty, existing law provides that the likes of Cheney, Bush, Rumsfeld and Rice, if found guilty, could have hoods thrown over their heads, their hands bound, facing a 12-man rifle corps executing death by firing squad. And our cowardly democratically dominated House and Senate can barely find one voice willing to propose so much as an impeachment. That one voice of a true American. That one voice of Congressman Dennis Kucinich.
This is not going to be a sound bite. Not if I can help it. I'm torn. I'm torn between the conventional wisdom of what we all keep being told is electibility and the idealism that perhaps alone can live up to the challenges of our generation. Of the democrats running for President, only Congressman Dennis Kucinich’s candidacy is backed by a voting record of moral courage and a history of service to our country that has fully earned our support and our gratitude. And when I say support, I am not speaking to democrats alone, but rather to every American who would take the time on behalf of their children, our planet, and our soldiers to educate themselves on the Kucinich platform.
In the recent debate among Democrats in Las Vegas, the candidates, one after the other, placed security ahead of human rights. Benjamin Franklin once said "Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both." Then, there was good ole Patrick Henry. Remember him? "Give me liberty, or give me death." These were the real tough bastards. The real John Wayne's.
These are the traditions we should be serving. I found the debate infuriating, nearly an argument for fascism with few exceptions, key among them Dennis Kucinich. Of course as a strategic politician, Mrs. Clinton pulled out her set of Ginzu knives and dominated once again on "centrist" political strategy. In fending off attacks upon she, the front runner, she reminded the audience and her fellow candidates, "We are all Democrats."
Wolf Blitzer asked each candidate if they would support the other should they themselves not be the nominee. One after another, the answer, yes. One exception: Dennis Kucinich, who with the minimal time allotted him, once again rose up beyond the sound bite and put principal ahead of party; argued policy rather than politeness. He has been the dominant voice of integrity on issues of trade, labor, education, environment, health, civil liberties, and the one endlessly determined voice of peace.
But is he too short? Does his haircut not appeal? Is he not loyal enough to a cowardly democratic platform? Does he not appeal to the cult of personality? And what if the answer is yes? What if Dennis Kucinich, the most deserving and noble of candidates, the most experienced in issues of policy and the least willing to play into the politics of personal power? What if we can’t elect a man simply on the basis of the best ideas, the most courage, and the most selfless service? What does it say about our country when we can’t rally the voices of the common good to support a man, like our troops, who would die for us, who would die for our constitution? Who, as mayor of Cleveland at the age of 31 stood up against contracts on his life. Three separate assassins whose intent was to kill him as he stood up for his constituency there.
Nonetheless, he carries on. He continues to serve.

Hopefully, if you've not yet considered Kucinich, you'll think about what Penn writes. I am supporting Kucinich and I do believe he is not just the best candidate the Democrats have, he is the only real one. Mike Gravel has done heroic things but that campaign seems to have never gathered steam. I'm not speaking of media interest. The media has trashed him, true. I am speaking of a grassroots support issue. He is a decent man with a noble record. His participation in the debates have raised serious issues. But I have looked to see him embraced and haven't. Possibly due to the fact that so few know of him and you can pin the blame for that on The Nation and other Obama cheerleaders trying to pass themselves off as 'independent' media outlets.

Next week, December 11th, the Canadian parliament holds hearings on the issue of US war resisters which will be a public attempt by war resisters to explain why Canada should grant residency to war resisters. I hope you will follow the hearings. I know that will most likely require a great deal of work since most media -- big and small -- will not be covering it.

This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for Friday:

Friday, December 7, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, the Canadian parlaiment's December 11th hearings on war resisters approach, IVAW's Justin Cliburn speaks in Dallas Sunday, Buzzy and Cookie remain brothers but one is now unemployed (don't cry, Blackwater will probably officially hire him now), bombings in Iraq get some media attention and more.

Staring with war resistance. November 15th, Iraq War resisters Jeremy Hinzman and Brandon Hughey learned that the nation's Supreme Court would not hear their appeals. As a result, the focus is now on getting the Canadian Parliament to address the situation. On December 11th, the parliament will hear testimony from war resisters. Dustin Langley (Workers World) notes Hinzman's statements on the illegal war, "They said there were weapons of mass destruction. They haven't found any. They said Iraq was linked to international terrorist organizations. There haven't been any links. This was a criminal war. Any act of violence in an unjustified conflict is an atrocity." Cindy Sheehan (OpEdNews) urges people to utilize Courage to Resist's easy to mail or e-mail resources to allow the Canadian government to know you are watching and to support organizations supporting war resisters as well as supporting war resisters:

Support actual war resisters in Canada by sending them expense money. From my friend Ryan (I gave him and his wife money to get to Canada over two years ago):

In light of the recent Supreme Court denial in Canada, I (Ryan Johnson), My wife (Jen Johnson) and Brandon Hughey need help raising funds to travel to Ottawa to attend hearings before the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration, where War Resisters will be giving Testimony to the committee. At these hearings the committee will be deciding on whether or not to make a provision to allow war resisters to stay in Canada. This is one of our last chances to be able to continue living in Canada. We will be leaving December 7th because the hearings are December 11th, 2007 so we need to act fast. They may try to send guys back soon and we need to have a strong War Resister Presence. We appreciate all of the support and Want to thank all of you who can help.

Checks/money orders can be sent for Ryan, Jen and Brandon to:312 Tower Rd Nelson, BC V1L3K6

There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes James Stepp, Rodney Watson, Michael Espinal, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb, Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Peter Brown, Bethany "Skylar" James, Zamesha Dominique, Chrisopther Scott Magaoay, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Carla Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, Blake LeMoine, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Wilfredo Torres, Michael Sudbury, Ghanim Khalil, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, at least fifty US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.Information on war resistance within the military can be found at The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline [(877) 447-4487], Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters. In addition, VETWOW is an organization that assists those suffering from MST (Military Sexual Trauma).

The voice of war resister Camilo Mejia is featured in Rebel Voices -- playing now through December 16th at Culture Project -- that's ten more days -- and based on Howard Zinn and Anthony Arnove's best-selling book Voices of a People's History of the United States. It features dramatic readings of historical voices such as war resister Mejia, Sojourner Truth, Frederick Douglass, Malcom X and others will be featured. Musician Allison Mooerer will head the permanent cast while those confirmed to be performing on selected nights are Ally Sheedy (actress and poet, best known for films such as High Art, The Breakfast Club, Maid to Order, the two Short Circuit films, St. Elmo's Fire, War Games, and, along with Nicky Katt, has good buzz on the forthcoming Harold), Eve Ensler who wrote the theater classic The Vagina Monologues (no, it's not too soon to call that a classic), actor David Strathaim (L.A. Confidential, The Firm, Bob Roberts, Dolores Claiborne and The Bourne Ultimatum), actor and playwright Wallace Shawn (The Princess Bride, Clueless -- film and TV series, Gregory and Chicken Little), actress Lili Taylor (Dogfight, Shortcuts, Say Anything, Household Saints, I Shot Andy Warhol, Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle, State of Mind) and actor, director and activist Danny Glover (The Color Purple, Beloved, The Royal Tenenbaums, The Rainmaker, Places In The Heart, Dreamgirls, Shooter and who recently appeared on Democracy Now! addressing the US militarization of Africa) The directors are Will Pomerantz and Rob Urbinati with Urbinati collaborating with Zinn and Arnove on the play. Tickets are $41.. The theater is located at 55 Mercer Street and tickets can be purchased there, over the phone (212-352-3101) or online here and here. More information can be found at Culture Project.

Meanwhile IVAW is organizing a March 2008 DC event:

In 1971, over one hundred members of Vietnam Veterans Against the War gathered in Detroit to share their stories with America. Atrocities like the My Lai massacre had ignited popular opposition to the war, but political and military leaders insisted that such crimes were isolated exceptions. The members of VVAW knew differently.
Over three days in January, these soldiers testified on the systematic brutality they had seen visited upon the people of Vietnam. They called it the Winter Soldier investigation, after Thomas Paine's famous admonishing of the "summer soldier" who shirks his duty during difficult times. In a time of war and lies, the veterans who gathered in Detroit knew it was their duty to tell the truth.
Over thirty years later, we find ourselves faced with a new war. But the lies are the same. Once again, American troops are sinking into increasingly bloody occupations. Once again, war crimes in places like Haditha, Fallujah, and Abu Ghraib have turned the public against the war. Once again, politicians and generals are blaming "a few bad apples" instead of examining the military policies that have destroyed Iraq and Afghanistan.
Once again, our country needs Winter Soldiers.
In March of 2008, Iraq Veterans Against the War will gather in our nation's capital to break the silence and hold our leaders accountable for these wars. We hope you'll join us, because yours is a story that every American needs to hear.
Click here to sign a statement of support for Winter Soldier: Iraq & Afghanistan

March 13th through 15th are the dates for the Winter Soldier Iraq & Afghanistan Investigation.

IVAW's South Central Region Coordinator Justin Cliburn will be speaking this Sunday in Dallas, Texas at the First Unitarian Church of Dallas, Raible Chapel (4015 Normandy Avenue, Dallas, TX 75205) at 10:30 am. Cliburn served in Iraq (2005-2006) and this event is free and open to the public.

In yet another sign of the failures of the puppet government, Eric Westervelt (NPR's Morning Edition) reports that the health ministry does not have a program to care for the wounded civilians or even to track how many there are. The illegal war hits the five-year mark in March. Puppet of the occupation Nouri-al Maliki and his initial cabinet were all in place by May of 2006. And there is no system in place to track the wounded let alone to treat them. Westervelt tells of 36-year-old, father of five Majid Hameed -- a victim of a bombing targeting his work place in March 2004 that left him burned and then, lack of treatment, left him with gangrene in both hands which spread and his arms were amputated to "just above the elbow" who must now attempt to provide for his family by hawking "trinkets" on the streets of Baghdad. He had been a blacksmith and a security guard prior to the bombing. The failed system really depends on international aid. Westervelt doesn't make that point but that is what's going on. Just as, in the US, Wal-Mart doesn't provide for their employees and expects government services to subsidize them, the Iraqi government leaves it to the NGOs to 'handle' the situation. Hammed got the run around at the various government ministries, a private organization told him they would need both medical and police reports to treat him and the police station refused to assist him with those forms while the local council "laughed at me saying, 'We don't give letters to disabled people confirming they were hit by a car bomb. We know nothing about it. This is not our business'." It's no one's business because the failed puppet government of Nouri al-Maliki is not one that serves Iraqis. Why should the puppets show interest in the Iraqi people when the US government never has?

Big Oil's enable Iraq Development Program is announcing "positive signs" in Iraq's economy and sourcing it to Bayan Jubur al-Zubaydi (Iraq's Minister of Finance). It's silly nonsense from a silly 'organization' that quotes the minister stating "the new budget allocated $10 billion dollars to subsidise ration card items and the salaries of government employees and pensioners." Yes, we are back to the subsidies. Note the amount. How much of that alleged ten billion goes to saleries? It's worth pondering because Reuters reports Abdul Falah al-Sudany (Iraq's Trade Minister) asserts that the massive reduction in subsidies that will kick in next month stem from a request for "$7 billion in next year's budget to distribute 10 basic items but received only $3 billion." If both officials are telling the truth that would mean seven billion dollars was required to pay the puppet government. That's a big payroll (especially when government workers make so little that IDP is trumpeting the fact that they've been granted income tax waivers) especially when you consider that "more than 60 percent of Iraq's population rely on the rations." Actually, that's the candied number, United Nation's agencies were estimating it was 80 percent and that was before the vast refugee (internal and external) began. Sameer N. Yacoub (AP) explains, "The system under which all Iraqis are issued ration cards allowing them to buy 10 items -- sugar, flour, rice, powdered milk, cooking oil, tea, beans, baby milk, soap and detergent -- for a nominal fee". The issue isn't money, the issue is the White House's lust for privatization that led to a tag sale in Iraq. It's nothing but the (PDF format warning) same crap the US has been pushing for some time in the name of "economic rehabilitation and reform for Iraq." This despite the fact that Steven Mann, Paul Bremer's boy, was more interested (November, 2003) in "Building the market structure that promotes private business." In September 2003, the United Nations' World Food Programme was sounding alarms over the crisis in Iraq and noting, "Any significant disruption of the public distribution system would have a severe negative impact on food access." That was 2003. Things have not gotten better and anyone who has trouble grasping that can just focus on the numbers then for external refugees (100,000) and internal ones (200,000). Both categories are now in the millions (and combined account for over 4 million people). The food program is not 'less needed' today, it's more needed.

But the tag sale on Iraq is more important to the puppet government which works for the US government which -- apparently -- works for big business. Hence, Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) notes today, "UPI is reporting Iraq's Oil Ministry is preparing to sign deals for the country's largest oil fields even though the Iraqi government has failed to pass an Iraq oil law. BP, Shell, ExxonMobil, Conoco Phillips and other oil companies are all attempting to win contracts in Iraq. Executives from BP and Shell are expected to be meeting soon with Iraq's Oil Minister. Under Iraqi law, the Oil Ministry can sign service contract deals on its own. But any production-sharing contracts would need parliamentary approval." This follows Selina Williams reporting (for MarketWatch) earlier this week that BP PLC and Royal Duth Shell PLC were to meet Wednesday with Hussein al-Shahristanti (Iraqi oil minister) for oil discussions. UPI's Ben Landon offers "Big Oil's big dreams are close to coming true as Iraq's Oil Ministry prepares deals for the country's largest oil fields with terms that aren't necessarily what companies were hoping for but considered a foot in the door of the world's most promising oil sector." Now who could have added additional strong-arming on that? Has any US official recently visited Iraq?

Robert Gates holds the title of US Secretary of Defense. Spinning the illegal war apparently comes under his job description (and comes naturally but who other than Robert Parry stepped up to call the nomination out when it mattered?). Gates has left Iraq after his photo-op. Thom Shanker (New York Times) quotes Gates declaring he was "encouraged" and that he was "feeling very good abou tthe direction of things in the security arena". Gates was greeted with bombings and bombings continued through his brief stay. Of course, bombings followed his exit. Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports, "A suicide woman wearing an explosive belt detonated herself among the civilians near the center of the local committees in Al Mu'alimeen nieghborhood in Muqdadiyah town east of Baquba city around 9,30 am. 16 civilians were killed in the explosion (8 men, 5 women and 3 children) and 27 others were wounded (19 men, 4 children, 2 Sahwa members and 2 women)." CNN, citing the police, identifies the bomber as Suhaila Ali and notes the bombing "took place outside a building that hosts meetings for local members of a so-called awakening council, whose members are opposed to al Qaeda and have formed an alliance with U.S. and Iraqi forces. . . . More than half of the dead and wounded in Friday's bombing were members of the awakening council, the Interior Ministry said." CBS and AP note that two of Suhaila Ali's sons "were killed by Iraqi security forces" and quotes Ibrahim Bajalan ("head of Diyala provincial council") stating, "She wanted to avenge the killing of her two sons." Alaa Shahine (Reuters) pieces together the immediate lead up to the bombing, "Witnesses said a woman walked up to the building, in a street full of shops, and began asking questions. She detonated the vest she was wearing when people out shopping before Friday prayers began gathering around her." UK's In The News notes, "In April the town was hit by another female suicide bomber who killed over 12 people at a police recruitment centre." The Belfast Telegraph observes it was "the second [attack] in the space of 10 days carried out by female suicide bombers." That refers to a November attack summarized then by M-NF as: "A female suicide bomber detonated an explosive laden suicide-vest, wounding seven U.S. soldiers and five Iraqi citizens in Baqubah, Nov. 27." That was only one of the bombings in the Diyala Province. AFP informs, "Hours later, a suicide car bomber rammed his vehicle into an army checkpoint at the nearby town of Al-Mansuriyah, killing 10 people and wounding eight, among them soldiers and members of another Awakening group, security officials said." Alaa Shahine (Reuters) places the death toll at 10 ("seven Iraqi troops and three members of a local neighbourhood patrol") and eight injured. New York Times' Cara Buckley (at the company's International Herald Tribune) notes that the "three volunteers . . . had been working with the U.S. forces." CBS and AP note that two bombings were "about 10 miles apart". Cami McCormick (CBS News) interviews the newly returned to Fort Hood Army 3rd Brigade Combat Team who had been stationed in Diyala for fifteen months.

McCormick: Many say they were stunned by how dangerous their deployment became.

Spc. Cory Barton: I'd always heard from the guys that had been previous deployed and, you know, family members and friends that had been deployed before, they'd always tell me about the major hot spots -- like Falluja, Najaf, Baghdad, Mosul and places like that -- I've never heard anything about Baquba and then when we touched down, we touched ground in there and it was like an epiphany.

McCormick: It was scary?

Barton: Oh, it was a bad dream.

It's not 'safer' in Iraq. In other violence . . .


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that today two police officers wounded in a Baghdad gun battle and Jabbar Khalaf ("chief of Rabi'aa police station") was shot dead in Mosul along with 4 other police officers and that yesterday a farmer was shot dead outside Kirkuk, 1 Beshmarga Kurdish force intel officer was wounded (by "a pistol with a silencer) while 1 person was shot dead in Kirkuk and another wounded.


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 3 corpses discovered in Baghdad.

If you missed it, it was time for the laughable Nation magazine to do another editorial on the illegal war. Why they bothered is anyone's guess. They accepted (without question) the bulk of the spin regarding the latest wave of Operation Happy Talk. By contrast, the US Socialist Worker demonstrates needed common sense in their "Editorial: 'Mission Accomplished' again?" noting: "A new U.S. war lie -- concocted by the Bush administration, endorsed by the Democrats, embraced by the mainstream media -- has been deployed to justify continuing the occupation in Iraq. The claim is that the Bush 'surge' of 30,000 U.S. troops to Iraq worked -- and is, at long last, bringing 'peace' and 'stability.' . . . . But lurking behind the hype is a different reality -- one that reporters working in Iraq readily admit. A Pew Research Center poll of U.S. reporters working in Iraq found that '[n]early 90 percent of U.S. journalists in Iraq say much of Baghdad is still too dangerous to visit' -- and that many believe U.S. media 'coverage has painted too rosy a picture of the conflict'." As the editorial notes, imperialism is a bi-partisan goal with Republicans and Democrats embracing one another from across the aisle. Which is why CBS and AP's bulletin should come as no surprise: "Democrats controlling Congress sent the most explicit signals yet on Thursday that they are resigned to providing additional funding for the war in Iraq before Congress adjourns for the year." They're preparing to cave again. And as CBS reports that $1 billion in equipment is missing in Iraq. There for-show stunt that found US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid claiming they woulnd't budge has collapsed. As the Socialist Worker concludes, "The bipartisan Washington establishment is rallying around the consensus that the surge worked because it provides the excuses for continued occupation. Opponents of the war need to expose this new war lie -- and insist that life in Iraq will only really improve when the U.S. gets out."

And those enlisting to assist don't just include The Nation but also NPR. As Ruth noted yesterday, the public radio network "did 'investigative journalism' . . . They discovered that the American people have lost interest in ending the illegal war. How did they unearth this questionable claim? They spoke to Congressional staffers. They spoke to staffers of Congress members, the same Congress that has refused to end the illegal war. It is truly a shock, at least to NPR, that said staffers might lie to take the heat off the people who sign their pay checks." NPR's Day to Day wants you to believe that "Iraq has become less of an issue in the presidential campaign." They need you to believe it having offered a two-hour Democratic presidential hopefuls 'debate' this week where, despite the US being engaged in a war, the 'moderators' never asked about the Iraq War. As noted in Wednesday's snapshot, that 'reality' is far from reality: "In fact the latest poll found it the issue most noted by respondents -- you could take the second and third most cited issues (economy and healthcare), add them together and Iraq would still outrank them. But the media has lost interest. Add another poll to the mix. Faye Fiore (Los Angeles Times) reports on the Los Angeles Times - Bloomberg News poll which found, "Nearly six of every 10 military families disapprove of Bush's job performance and the way he has run the war, rating him only slightly better than the general population does." Was the illegal war "worth it"? All poll respondents state no by 60%, respondents from homes "with active military/vets" said no by 57% and homes "with military in Iraq/vets" said no by 60%. Translation: America says the illegal war was not worth it. To anser the Clash's musical question -- "Should I Stay or Should I Go" -- 23% polled said bring them home "right away" (21% for homes with active military/vets and 27% for homes with military in Iraq/vets) while 41% say bring them home "within next year" (37% and 42% in the previous breakdown). Bring the troops home? 64% say YES! It's only in the lame media that wants to pretend the issue is no longer an issue. And of course the media includes some on the 'left' because you can't pimp the war supporter Barack Obama so hard and still call for an end to the illegal war. (LAT piece is also at Common Dreams.)

Turning from the mercenaries in Congress to the mercenaries of Blackwater. When last we checked in on Buzzy and Cookie (November 19th snapshot), Howard Cookie Krongard was remaining the US State Dept's inspector general but stated he was going to remove himself from pretending to provide oversight of Blackwater due to the fact that his brother A. B. Buzzy Krongard serves on the advisory board of Blackwater. Previously, Cookie had tried to deny that Buzzy was working with Blackwater, deny in a Congressional hearing, but admitted it was true after requesting a break. Despite Cookie's claims, Buzzy told Scott Shane (New York Times) that he had told his brother he was on the advisory board "a few weeks ago." In an update, Reuters reports today that Cookie has announced he will resign from the State Department. Jeremy Scahill (Common Dreams) provides an update on the latest to do with Blackwater and he will be back on Democracy Now! next week to discuss the latest regarding the mercenaries (I believe Monday). Scahill concludes in his latest piece: "In short, Blackwater is moving ahead at full steam. Individual scandals clearly aren't enough to slow it down. The company's critics in the Democratic-controlled Congress must confront the root of the problem: the government is in the midst of its most radical privatization in history, and companies like Blackwater are becoming ever more deeply embedded in the war apparatus. Until this system is brought down, the world's the limit for Blackwater Worldwide--and as its rebranding campaign shows, Blackwater knows it."

jeremy hinzmanbrandon hughey

democracy nowamy goodman
blackwater usa