Juliet feels we need more vegetables and she herself is a vegetarian. (I agree that we need more vegetables -- all of us -- in our daily diets.) She wanted to note a favorite vegetarian recipe:
* 1 21 ounce can kidney beans
* 1/4 tsp salt
* 1/4 cup chopped onion
* 1/8 tsp pepper
* 1/4 tsp sugar
* 1 cup canned tomatoes
* bread crumbs
Drain the kidney beans and put half the beans in a greased baking dish. Top with the chopped onion and half the tomatoes. Add remaining beans and tomatoes. Sprinkle with salt, pepper & sugar. Cover with bread crumbs. Dot with margarine. Bake at 350ºF about 30 minutes until bubbly and brown.
I actually enjoyed this but I subbed cheese as the topping (instead of bread crumbs) because I know my family. I also used "Mexican Stewed Tomatoes" (Del Monte, I believe) just because I needed to rotate those on out of the cabinet. It gave it a very spicy taste.
We do need to eat more vegetables and if you would like more recipes focused on vegetables, Juliet recommends this page.
My local paper is the Boston Globe. Christopher Rowland is someone's idea of a reporter and he writes:
Despite being portrayed as responsible for myriad national ills, Wall Street bankers, oil and coal companies, and health industry executives bounced back in Congress this year with remarkable success, stalling or weakening the biggest regulatory threats on President Obama’s domestic agenda.
The success is fueled in part by a $1 billion combined lobbying blitz through the first 10 months of the year, as the industries fought off the changes that many thought were coming with Obama’s election.
A year after the worst economic crisis in 75 years, a crackdown on lending abuses and risky trading practices has barely received a hearing in the Senate. The Senate has temporarily shelved legislation in tended to combat global warming. And while Obama’s cornerstone health care proposal still has momentum, the insurance industry scored a major victory this week when Democratic leaders scuttled a government insurance option.
It just happened. All of the above. Do we expect Barack to do anything other than pose for photos and magazine covers? If we do, I think reporters need to learn to put the blame where it belongs.
Liz Peek is still at wowOwow (at least for now). And she's never had trouble connecting the dots. This is from her latest, "More Spending Stuffed Inside Turducken Defense Bill:"
A recent news story recounts that a British man presumed comatose for 23 years was actually conscious and alert the whole time. Imagine his frustration as he attempted to scream and wave his arms, but attracted no attention.
That’s how I have felt about the health-care debate. The Obama administration has steadfastly ignored rising outrage over the bill’s shortcomings, with the president as recently as a couple of days ago guaranteeing that "we are on the precipice of an achievement that’s eluded Congresses and presidents for generations." In an understatement as deep as the ocean, he adds that "there are still some differences to be worked out." Yes – like who is going to vote for it.
The health-care bill has actually come a long way in recent weeks; it has lost support across the entire political spectrum. Americans generally are now against it – the most recent NBC-WSJ poll showing only 32% think it is a "good" idea. Howard Dean, union leaders like Andy Stern, Nebraska’s Ben Nelson, liberals, conservatives and most independents – everybody hates this bill. So why is the administration committing political hari-kari to push it through?
You have to wonder what it will take to kill Barack's Big Business Give Away. There's nothing in that bill to help the average American citizen. It's nothing but a gift for the insurance companies and the drug companies. Betty, Stan, Cedric and Wally recently addressed the Give Away and I want to link to them but I also want to link to others because I'm awful at linking:
Cedric's Big Mix
Reuters shows how to waste time
21 hours ago
The Daily Jot
THIS JUST IN! THE DISTRACTORS!
21 hours ago
Thomas Friedman is a Great Man
The Big Give Away needs to be stopped
21 hours ago
Mikey Likes It!
The political jokes (Edwards and 'health reform')
21 hours ago
Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude
21 hours ago
Why does it surprise us?
21 hours ago
Chilcot's Cage Rattled
21 hours ago
All the undone work
21 hours ago
Oh Boy It Never Ends
Forced purchasing of insurance
21 hours ago
The World Today Just Nuts
The Bullies and The Tyrants
21 hours ago
Ann's Mega Dub
21 hours ago
Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills)
Maggie calls to tell me to listen to KPFA Flashpoints
21 hours ago
Like Maria Said Paz
1 day ago
My apologies to Ann because, reading the snapshot, I remembered how I repeatedly linked to new bloggers once upon a time. Ann came along after I was ready to close the kitchen and hasn't gotten half the attention from me that other sites that sprung up after me received. I'll try to link to Ann next week to make up for it.
This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for Friday:
Friday, December 18, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, Iran may have invaded Iraq and taken over an oil field, or it may not have, opinions continue to come in on the Iraq Inquiry, Iraqi Christians continue to be targeted, it's a bad week for Tom Hayden who finds little to clip and paste into his scrapbook, and more.
Today on NPR's The Diane Rehm Show -- after the unplanned bluegrass moment (for approximatly five minutes of the show "Some Morning Soon" is playing over the guests during today's show) -- Iraq was noted by Diane and her guests Youchi J. Dreazen (Wall St. Journal), Tom Gjelten (NPR) and Farah Stockman (Boston Globe)..
Diane Rehm: Youchi Dreazen of the Wall St. Journal and you're listening to The Diane Rehm Show and, Youchi, tell us about this software breach involving US drones in Iraq.
Youchi Dreazen: Yeah, what it is is that that the video feeds from the drones that are used and, frankly, from other aircraft as well but particularly the drones, the video feeds are not encrypted. Which means that if you're an insurgent nearby and you have a laptop and you have -- one of the programs you can use is called SkyGrabber which costs about $26 and you can download it off the web, you could then watch in real time and download and store the feeds of any Predator nearby which is significant for two reasons. One, the US often uses Predators over its own forces so that if there's a US operation, they have Predators overhead, so somebody who's watching that feed could be able to see our personnel. It's also significant because it shows somebody watching what we're looking for -- so Predators would be over a given highway, a given series of buildings, a lot of them are used along the Iraq-Iran border to try to cut down on weapon smuggling from Iran and this would show somebody watching those feeds theoretically what's being watched, when we're watching it, etc. What's somehow more surprising is that this has been known about for so long. It's been talked about in the Pentagon for so long and no one's done anything about it. This was an issue in Bosnia. And we reported today that in 2004 there was a concern about -- in 2004, it wasn't insurgents intercepting it, it was what if Russia and China basically use a James Cameron-style special effect so that somebody's watching a drone feed, they don't see anything and suddenly there's a tank? Or they do see something, but it's not actually there? So this has been known about, it's been discussed but no action's been taken --
Diane Rehm: Tom?
Youchi Dreazen: -- at least until now.
Tom Gjelten: Well, Diane, this is a really important story and we should point out that Youchi and his Wall St. Journal colleagues [Sibohan Gorman and August Cole] broke this story this week so, you know, credit where it's due. I think one of the complicating factors here is that ground troops, soldiers and marines are increasingly make use of use from drones and other-other aircraft. Now a lot of the time the troops on the ground don't have as high technology available to them, you know, as the drone operators do. So you have more simplified technology on the ground trying to make use of these feeds and the feeds are providing extremely important information to them to help chart their ground operations but the technology has to be to oversimplify it, it has to be simplified for the ground troops to make use of it. They may not have the decryption technology that is necessary so you can't have really highly encrypted signals coming from above if the soldiers and marines on the ground don't have the technology to decode it. That's one of the issues that complicates the solution of this problem.
Diane Rehm: So somebody got hold of this. What use was made of the information?
Youchi Dreazen: That's the open question. I mean, the way that this was discovered was a sort of interesting, cloak and dagger kind of case where US troops arrested a Shi'ite militant, took his laptop and started going through it and on the laptop found video files. Then, in July, arrested other militants elsewhere in Iraq, actually from another group as it turned out, went through their laptops and found an even wider array of drone video files so this is kind of interesting sort of spy versus spy, this power was discovered.The military continues to insist that no missions were compromised, nobody was hurt. In fairness, it's a hard thing to prove, one way or another, but that has been -- the military has been adament from the beginning till now that, yes, these were intercepted, yes, they could be used but they didn't see any evidence so far that they had been used.
Diane Rehm: How embarrassing is this, Tom?
Tom Gjelten: Well it is embarrassing and it's all the more embarrassing because it's coming at a time when this administration is really proposing a much broader uh use of these drone aircraft, the Predators in particular. I mean, yesterday -- between yesterday and today, there were ten drone strikes in Pakistan. Now I think that's the most in any two day period in a long, long time. And this fits into the broader counter-terrorism strategy that this administration is proposing for Pakistan and Afghanistan. So, you know, to-to-to highlight the vulnerability of this approach at the very time when you're really proposing an expansion of this approach is, as you say, embarrassing.
Diane Rehm: Farah?
Farah Stockman: It also just shows that these insurgents are a lot more technology savy than anybody ever imagined they would be and I think that's the -- that's the new world we're living in.
NPR sidebar: Today on NPR's Fresh Air Nellie McKay was a guest. Fresh Air is played on various NPR stations during the day and some NPR stations repeat that day's broadcast also at night and, in addition, the segment can be streamed online. Her new album is Normal As Blueberry Pie and this is a plug for Nellie because she stood up to all kinds of pressure in 2008 when she supported Ralph Nader. It took guts and, along with huge artistic talents, she has tremendous strength. Much more so than Ralph's 2000 'friends' who showed what cowards they really were. Excuse me, cowards and bullies since so many of them not only refused to stand with Ralph but actively tore down others who did. I voted for Ralph or Cynthia McKinney (I'm not saying which -- now or ever -- nor is Ava saying which she voted for). Either was a strong vote. This community endorsed Ralph. When Oklahoma members discovered they only had the choice of voting for War Hawk Barack or War Hawk John McCain, they went with with McCain because they knew there would be a strong push back on each of McCain's War Crimes as opposed to the limp response offerd by so much of the 'left' for Barack's. John R. MacArthur (Harper's magazine) notes the limp response from Frank Rich (a bad 'drama' 'critic' trying to masquerade as a 'thinker'), Hendrick Hertzberg, and others. We'll note his section on Tom-Tom Hayden:
Then there's Tom Hayden, the former radical and author of the Students for A Democratic Society's Port Huron Statement, who was a belligerent booster of Obama during last year's campaign. Hayden, too, is upset about Afghanistan, but not enough to cast aside his self-delusion about Obama. Claiming to speak for "the antiwar movement," he laments that the "costs in human lives and tax dollars are simply unsustainable" and, worse, that "Obama is squandering any hope for his progressive domestic agenda by this tragic escalation of the war."
Unsustainable? Tragic? There's no evidence that Obama and his chief of staff see any limit to their ability to print dollars, sell Treasury bonds and send working-class kids to die in distant lands. And what "progressive" agenda is Hayden talking about? So far, Obama's big domestic goals have been compulsory, government-subsidized insurance policies that will further enrich the private health-care business, huge increases in Pentagon spending and purely symbolic regulation of Wall Street.
While Obama was speaking to the unfortunate cadets, I couldn't help thinking of Richard Nixon and his "secret plan" to end the Vietnam War, a plan that entailed a long and pointless continuation of the fighting. Most liberals would agree that Nixon was a terrible president. Yet, for all his vicious mendacity, I think the sage of San Clemente had a bad conscience about the harm he did, about all he caused to die and be crippled.
Instead of shoring up Obama's image of goodness, liberals really should be asking, "Does the president have a conscience?" Because if he does, he's really no better than Nixon.
I always knew Tom-Tom would spend his faded years as Tricky Dick's mistress. Also noting Tom-Tom, is Glen Ford (Black Agenda Report -- link has text and audio) who explains Tommy and Bill Fletcher's organization "Progressives For Barack" has -- like Blackwater -- became an embarrassment so -- like Blackwater -- Tommy and Billy are trying for a clean slate by changing the organization's name to "Progressives For America":
The left-wing Obamites were the nastiest of all. They viciously libeled anyone that advanced a Left critique of their hero, calling them enemies of a new "people's movement," when in fact it was they who were shutting the movement down in favor of a fan club and cheering section for Obama. Amiri Baraka spit poison at all who failed to pledge allegiance to the Great Obama, calling us infantile ultra-leftists and just plain "rascals." Bill Fletcher and Tom Hayden stuck with Obama like little sorcerer's apprentices as the president methodically savaged virtually every item on the progressive agenda. What else could they do? To break with Obama would amount to an admission that they were wrong about the progressive "potential" of their candidate; that he had always been a thoroughly corporate politician who would lurch to the Right as soon as he took office; and that, by failing to criticize Obama early in the campaign, they were guaranteeing that he would disrespect and ignore Blacks and progressives, once in office.
Tom Hayden now declares it's finally "time to strip the Obama sticker" off his car. Well, whoopee. Back in the day, Hayden would have been expected to engage in some serious self-criticism for misleading so many people about Obama. The same goes for Bill Fletcher, who appeared on a Pacifica radio show last week sounding like he'd never been an Obama fan. Fletcher said it was inappropriate for the Nobel committee to award Obama the Peace Prize when the president had done nothing to cause a "fundamental shift" in U.S. foreign policy. You can't influence a president of the United States to do the right thing, Fletcher said, by giving him awards in hopes that he will earn them. But that's exactly what Fletcher and his fellow Obama fanatics tried to pull off when they endorsed candidate Obama on a wish and a prayer when there was no reason to believe he would undertake any "fundamental shift" in U.S. foreign or domestic policy. As a result, the Left played no role whatsoever in the 2008 election. They just blew kisses at Obama, hoping he'd kiss them back after the inauguration.
Actually, it was worse than that. Throughout 2008, Barack repeatedly HIT the left and the response was to get starry-eyed and sing, "He hit me and it felt like a kiss." Especially true of Tom Hayden who was repeatedly used by Barack as a public punching bag (not limited to but including the sneer at "Tom Hayden Democrats"). As we noted January 1, 2009: "That sort of behavior is a sickness. 2008 saw that sickness over and over as Barack repeatedly tossed population segments under the bus, repeatedly caved and sold out and was never, ever held accountable. But, hey!, he might have a liaison to the 'progressive' community! [. . .] Likewise, the Barack groupies will have to grow up at some point. Whether they do so in 2009 or after he's on his way out of office will determine whether the people force the change they need or spend the next years cheerleading blindly out of fear that they might hurt their Dream Lover. "
People need to get real. That includes grasping that a "draw-down" is what's promised in 2010, not a "withdrawal" from Iraq. Admiral Mike Mullens spoke of the "draw-down" today and yet notice all the sloppy so-called journalists calling it a "withdrawal." There is no talk of an Iraq withdrawal in 2010. The White House has been very clear that they plan a draw-down for 2010. Whether that will come to be, the world will have to wait and see. But a draw-down is not a withdrawal -- unless you're an ignorant fool.
A real demand for withdrawal -- not draw-down -- is in the news. Iraq's requesting that Iran withdraw. Caroline Alexander and Margot Habiby (Bloomberg News) report, "Iraq's National Security Council said today that Iran violated their shared border and Iraq's 'territorial integrity' and called on the Islamic republic to withdraw its forces from the region." Timothy Williams and Eric Schmitt (New York Times) add, "The Iraqi government said Friday that Iranian troops had crossed the border and occupied a portion of an oil field situated on disputed land between the two countries, but Iranian officials immediately and vehemently disputed the account." Dow Jones Newswires states they were told that by a Missan Oil Compnay official that "Iranian forces took hold of an Iraqi well in a disputed section of the border after opening fire against Iraqi oil workers"; however, the official tells Dow Jones this action took place "two weeks ago." Suadad al-Salhy, Missy Ryan and Ralph Boulton (Reuters) quote Ahmed Ali al-Khafaji, Deputy Interior Minister, stating, "At 3:30 this afternoon, 11 Iranian [soldiers] infiltrated the Iran-Iraq border and took control of the oil well. They raised the Iranian flag, and they are still there until this moment." Gulf Daily News adds, "Officials have summoned Tehran's envoy in Iraq to discuss the matter, he said. Iraqi officials said the soldiers crossed into Iraqi territory yesterday and raised the Iranian flag at Fakka." Mosab Jasim (Al Jazeera) states, "The Iraqi president called for an emergency session to discuss what they describe as a violation from Iran, but nothing came out of the meeting and whatever actions they are going to take are still not clear." The President of Iraq is Jalal Talabani. However, the report indicates Jasim was referring to Iraq's prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki. Hannah Allam (McClatchy Newspapers) offers this context, "Reports of the incident aggravated long-standing tensions between the countries, which fought a 1980-88 war that claimed as many as a million lives. Although Iraq's Shiite Muslim-led government and Shiite Iran have grown closer since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion ousted Iraq's Sunni Muslim dictator, Saddam Hussein, border issues remain thorny, with sporadic posturing from both sides." If it's been seized, what's been seized? Alice Fordham (Times of London) explains, "The well is one of several in the Fakka oil field, which was part of a group offered to foreign investors in June, but no contract was awarded." She also notes that Interior Minister Jawad al-Bolani went on state television to insist, "Iraq will not give up its oil wealth" today. Adam Arnold (Sky News) offers US military reaction: "A spokesman for the US military confirmed the soldiers had taken control of the oil well but added it was in 'disputed territory' near the border and happened fairly frequently. 'There has been no violence related to this incident and we trust this will be resolved through peaceful diplomacy between the governments of Iraq and Iran,' he said." While that source is unnamed US Col Peter Newell is on the record offering Arnold context. What really happened? Who knows? It will slowly emerge over the weekend, most likely. What is known is that the talk/rumors/incident had one result. Nick Godt (MarketWatch) reports that the rumors led to an initial rise in the price of oil per barrel today.
On the subject of oil, there seems to be a lot of confusion regarding US interests. We'll leave out the partisans on the right (to avoid mocking anyone) and instead note that the same talking point Jim Jubak (MoneyShow) which is boiled down to: The US is shut out of Iraq oil money. (A number of right-wingers are expanding and stating, "See the war wasn't about oil." Oil was part of it, oil wasn't the only thing.) Jubak laments America's lack of success in winning Iraq oil fields and points to "Royal Dutch Shell" and its success. Excuse me? What's that supposed to mean? "Royal Dutch Shell"? We think the Dutch are the only ones raking it in at Shell? Check their board of directors. 14 members of the board, 5 are British, 1 is American (Lawrence Ricciardi). 'Foreign company'? In this day and age are we that stupid? It's not "nationals," it's multi-nationals today. Jubank also notes Total's success. Total bills itself as "the fifth largest publicly-traded integrated international oil and gas company in the world" -- international. And we're not even looking at major shareholders in these companies. Again, these are "multi-nationals." That's the key word and this silly nonsense that some on the right are offering is nonsense. WQhat is British Petroleum (another winning bid)? Those not in the know would think, "State owned company in the United Kingdom." Uh, no, kids. BP was privatized sometime ago. And it absorged Standard Oil and Amoco. US companies. It's an international congolomerate, a multi-national at this point. George David sits on BP's board. George David is an American citizen. I'm not sure whether the right-wingers are that stupid or if they think we are but this idea that the US is shut out from the oil fields demonstrates (at best) a highly simplistic view of today's economic playing field and (at worst) a desire to knowingly deceive the public.
In Iraqi political news, UPI reports that Ammar al-Hakim (head of the political party the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council) was in Damascus today meeting with Syrian President Bashar Asaad with al-Hakim expressin "his appreciation for Syria's support for Iraq as it emerges from years of war." The trip might be to make Ammar al-Hakim look more like a stately world player ahead of the elections and it may be to draw a line between himself and Nouri al-Maliki. It may be any number of things but it is hard not to read as al-Hakim thumbing his nose at Nouri since Nouri has repeatedly blamed Syria for the bi-monthly Baghdad bombings beginning in August. Iraqi elections may take place in March. US Staff Sgt Natalie Hedrick writes at the US Army website that, "With the Iraqi national elections approaching, U.S. Soldiers are preparing to support the Iraqi Army and Iraqi Police while remaining in the background."
Turning to violence. Tuesday two Christian churches were targeted with bombs in Mosul. Asia News reports that since then Zeid Majid Youssef has been murdered in a Mosul drive-by and that 1 of the men who murdered him "got out of the car to make sure he was dead". They note, "Speaking with AsiaNews Mgr Louis Sako, archbishop of Kirkuk, had slammed what was happening as the national government and the local governatorate proved unable to stop events, and the city's various ethnic groups, Arab, Kurdish and Turkmen, with possible foreign involvement, blamed each other." Alice Fordham (Times of London) also reports on the recent cases of Iraqi Christians again being targeted:
Last week 100 Christian leaders and politicians of all religions held an emergency meeting just before fresh violence broke out in the northern city of Mosul, with attacks on churches and Christian schools. On Tuesday a baby was killed and 40 people, including schoolchildren, were injured in three simultaneous bombings. Two days ago a Christian man was shot dead as he travelled to work.
"It is terrible," said Fadi, 26, an electricity worker from Mosul who asked that his real name not be used. "Most of the Christians are staying at home, or when they go out they watch their backs." In late 2008, killings of Christians in Mosul by insurgent groups left 40 dead and 12,000 fleeing their homes. Fadi reeled off a string of recent, smaller-scale attacks against Christians, fearful that the same level of violence would return.
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) drops back to yesterday afternoon and night to report a Baghdad roadside bombing which left four people injured, a Baghdad car bombing which claimed 2 lives and left ten people wounded and a Baghdad roadside bombing which left three police officers wounded.
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports water department employee Mohammed Abdullah was shot dead in Sulaimaniyah today.
In London yesterday, the Iraq Inquiry concluded their public hearings for this year. They will resume public hearings next month. A number of commentators are weighing in on the Inquiry but before we get to that, we'll first note a section of yesterday's hearing. The committee, chaired by John Chilcot, heard from Jim Drummond, Martin Dinham and Stephen Pickford (link has video and transcript options).
Committee Member Martin Gilbert: I would like to turn to the question of funding and, of course, the United States was investing huge sums in the reconstruction of Iraq. The scale of the task as it appeared to you, it appeared to the UK, involved an attempt to drum up support from other donors, and this was led or went through the Madrid donors conference in October 2003. Can you explain to us -- both Mr Pickford and Mr Drummond really -- what were the obstacles to securing greater donor support for Iraq, and as a corollary to that, what impact did the then deteroiorating situation have on the attempt to obtain greater funds, greater support?
Jim Drummond: I think it had always been assumed that the World Bank and the UN would play a big role in the reconstruction of Iraq, and the UN and the World Bank did a joint needs assessment from July/August/September, so that a report was ready for the Madrid donors conference. It had a price tag on it of $55 billion, which is --
Stephen Pickford: I think the UN/World Bank one was 36 and then there was an extra 20 from the CPA, was my understanding.
Jim Drummond: All right. Anyway, a very large sum -- which they presented to the donors in Madrid. DFID and Hilary Benn in particular played a big role in trying to drum up support from the others. I think the fact that the World Bank and the UN had done this made it easier. This wasn't just a US/UK number coming up. It made it easier to get extra support. We were worried initially that we wouldn't be successful. In the end the pledges, I think, on the day added up to about $32 billion, and there were a few more that followed after that. So in terms of money put on the table, that was successful. The UK pledge was getting on for $1 billion, the US pledge was I think $18 billion. So that sort of gives you an idea of the scale of relative contribution. The security situation did play a very big part in how fast people could disperse. We ended up with relatively few donors with a presence in Iraq. As Stephen said, the World Bank and the UN -- the UN had local staff who were -- remained active, but the World Bank and the IMF essentially pulled out. There were relatively few donor experts from other countries and so the main contribution was -- in terms of expertise was certainly the US and the UK. That's quite a constraint actually, if you have got large numbers of countries pledging money but then not having any expertise on the ground to spend it. That was one of the reasons why we wanted to establish this trust fund mechanism managed by the World Bank and the UN. Just while I'm talking about that, I think yesterday you were told -- the day before -- by General Rollo that the UK contributed $300 million to a UN trust fund. The UN -- the UK contributed 30 million pounds to the UN trust fund and 40 million pounds to the World Bank trust fund.
Chair John Chilcot: Thank you for the correction.
So that's one section of the hearing yesterday. Reflecting on the Inquiry? Peter Biles (BBC) feels, "This will be remembered as the week when the Iraq Inquiry went 'private' for the first time since the public hearings began in November." He's referring to this week when the decision was made to redact Jeremy Greenstock's testimony. He states, "The committee chairman, Sir John Chilcot, had taken advantage of the one minute delay on the broadcast to prevent some of Sir Jeremy's words being revealed. Three lines on page 68 of the Iraq Inquiry's official transcript were subsequently blacked out." (We covered that in Tuesday's snapshot, FYI.) Meanwhile, Chilcot's lengthy self-note (see yesterday's snapshot) is the focus for Chris Ames (Guardian):
The inquiry's press chief doesn't want yesterday's statement by Chilcot, given at the end of the first batch of hearings, to be seen as a fightback against the very strong criticism it has endured. Fightbacks are seen as giving hostages to fortune and destined to backfire. But there has been a spin campaign this week, based on the line that the inquiry will be tougher when the big decision-makers appear in the second week of the New Year.
Chilcot made clear that Blair will appear in a public session, although he didn't rule out that the former prime minister would also have a secret session. But will the questioning be more rooted in documentary evidence, as Chilcot has promised? Can we expect, for example, to see Blair questioned about the memo written by his foreign policy adviser Sir David Manning, which allegedly records that in January 2003 he and George Bush had made up their minds to invade Iraq whatever the intelligence and whatever happened at the UN?
Trina hit on similar points last night noting "that John Chilcot feels challenged, feels his integrity (as well as that of the committee's) is being questioned." The New Statesman has a folder here for all their Iraq Inquiry coverage. [And John Lennon fans and friends (who isn't one?) click here for an excerpt of a 1968 interview.] Michael Savage (Belfast Telegraph) offers this evaluation of the public hearings held thus far by the Inquiry:One theme has emerged above all others. "This time, in contrast to previous inquiries, where it becomes essential, they are prepared to leave Blair in the firing line," said Brian Jones, a former Ministry of Defence intelligence analyst. It is not just disgruntled civil servants or under-resourced military chiefs hitting back, either. Even former advisers have left the inquiry ensuring that Mr Blair has more awkward questions to answer. While the former head of MI6, Sir John Scarlett, told the committee that Mr Blair had been made aware of last-minute intelligence that Saddam Hussein's weapons had been dismantled, his personal adviser also weighed in this week. Sir John Sawers, foreign affairs adviser to the former Prime Minister, said he did not share Mr Blair's confidence that invading had been the right decision. "Frankly, had we known the scale of the violence, it might well have led to second thoughts about the entire project," he said. Sir Jeremy Greenstock, who served as a special representative in Baghdad, added that Mr Blair had told him to make improving the media image of the situation in Iraq a priority, and accused him of giving him an unrealistic target for training Iraqi police.
Frances Gibb (Times of London) notes concerns that the lack of lawyers on the committee could prevent a truthful picture from emerging in the Inquiry and quotes Shadow Justice Secretary Dominic Grieve stating, "Having waited so long for an inquiry into Iraq, it is vital that we learn the whole truth. It is surprising that the inquiry is not benefiting from the probing questioning that an experienced lawyer would provide, particularly when it comes to taking evidence from the witnesses and experts involved"
Book notes. Yesterday, I noted: "Last month, AK Press released The Battle of the Story of The Battle Of Seattle by David Solnit and Rebecca Solnit. We did a book discussion about it at Third. It's a strong book and an important one. A good holiday present if you're looking for ideas. With Aimee Allison, David Solnit authored the must read and community favorite Army Of None. His sister Rebecca Solnit is known for her own numerous writings as well as for her work with Courage to Resist." December 8th, Ann noted the book and I should have included that. My apologies to Ann (who will say it's no big deal but I think it is).
TV notes. Friday on most PBS stations (check local listings), NOW on PBS asks: "Can a breakthrough health care innovation in Rwanda work in the U.S.?"In rural Rwanda, the simple and time-tested idea of medical house callsis not only improving the health of the community, but stimulating itseconomy as well. On Friday, December 18 at 8:30 pm (check locallistings), NOW travels to the village of Rwinkwavu to meet the Rwandandoctors, nurses and villagers who are teaming up with Boston-basedPartners in Health and the Rwandan government to deliver medicine andmedical counseling door-to-door. Would such an innovation work inAmerica? In the capital of Kigali, NOW's David Brancaccio sits down with RwandanPresident Paul Kagame to talk about international aid and Kagame'sultimate vision for a healthy, financially-independent Rwanda.
Washington Week begins airing on many PBS stations tonight (and throughout the weekend, check local listings) and joining Gwen are Charles Babington (AP), Ceci Connolly (Washington Post), John Dickerson (Slate) and Greg Ip (Economist). Meanwhile Bonnie Erbe will sit down with Nicole Kurokawa, Patricia Sosa, Genevieve Wood and controversial stand-up comic Kim Gandy (new book: It's Okay To Fail Women -- And Liberating Too! -- They're Just Icky Girls With Cooties) to discuss the week's events on PBS' To The Contrary. Check local listings, on many stations, it begins airing tonight. And turning to broadcast TV, Sunday CBS' 60 Minutes offers:
The Long RecessionScott Pelley returns to Wilmington, Ohio, to see how residents are coping a year after thousands of them lost their jobs when the town's largest employer shut down.
The PatriarchEcumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, the leader of the 300 million-member Orthodox Christian Church, feels "crucified" living in Turkey under a government he says would like to see his nearly 2,000-year-old Patriarchate die out. Bob Simon reports. Watch Video
Alec BaldwinMorley Safer profiles the versatile actor, who talks candidly about his career and his personal life - including his very public divorce and custody battle
60 Minutes, Sunday, Dec. 20, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.
We'll close with this from "Elaine Brower to Army Recruiters: 'We Will be Your Worst Nightmare'" (World Can't Wait): I was sitting there in the back office, and then stated "I would like you to know that I am a member of a national organization called 'Military Families Speak Out' and it has about 4,000 members who all have loved ones who are serving or served in Iraq and Afghanistan. We oppose the wars vehemently and are doing everything in our power to stop them." I thought they would choke on their food at that point. Then I proceeded to say, "Since I work right here, I, along with hundreds of my activist friends, will be your worst nightmare!" As you could hear a pin drop and confusion spread all over their faces, I continued. "I am so against what you are doing. You strategically placed this recruiting center so that kids who are either coming out of high school with nowhere to go, or those who graduate college in lots of debt and no jobs because of the economy are enticed to join the military." "You are taking full advantage of the bad economy and sending more of our youth off to die and kill for illegal, immoral and illegitimate wars. You should be ashamed of yourselves and I don't know how you sleep at night." I stood up, took a button off my handbag that I received while protesting at West Point. I said, "This button is for you." I slammed it on the desk. "I got it when I was protesting at West Point when Obama was giving his "escalation speech." It demands all troops home now, you can keep it as a reminder."
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