Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Points in the kitchen

Are you babying your kids? Jess here filling in this week for Trina while she's in Hawaii. Seriously, are you babying your kids?

A lot of her readers are bending over backwards to find snacks and meals for their kids who aren't in school.

So let me say one word: Relax.

Now let me explain. I grew up with both parents working. My mother's a public defender, my dad works on prison reform issues. So if I was sick, I better have been sick. No play sick and get one of them (usually my dad just because Mom was in court) to come pick me up from school. By the same token, we knew during the summer that we better not be whining about this or that. Not because our parents hit us (they never did) but if you were 'bored' you got an assignement. If you didn't have 'anything' to eat, you got to restock every cabinet in the kitchen and to clean the fridge top to bottom so you knew what food was in the house.

A lot of the things we ended up liking best weren't the things our parents intended. For example, we had crackers and peanut butter but one day decided jelly and jam would go well. For a whole week (at least) we were thrilled with our 'invention' sure that we were the first to ever think of such a thing.

Point. Your kids will find stuff to eat in the house. You don't need to beat yourself up over it. A lot of Trina's readers are working parents and they're under some idea that their kids are going to starve to death while they're at work. It's not going to happen. But, provided they're old enough, kicking back a little reliance onto them will help them test and expand.

And they'll find something like crackers with peanut butter and grape jam that they'll be proud of themselves for all summer long.

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

Tuesday, June 30, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces mulitple deaths, Lt. Dan Choi fights for his career, bombings grip Iraq, Barack Obama has another routine day while Ralph Nader speaks out and Cynthia McKinney gets active, and more.

Today the
US military announced: "BAGHDAD -- Four Multi-National Division–Baghdad Soldiers died June 29 as the result of combat related injuries. The Soldiers' names are being withheld pending notification of next of kin. The names of service members are announced through the U.S. Department of Defense Official Website at http://www.defenselink.mil/ . The announcements are made on the Website no earlier than 24 hours after notification of the service member's primary next of kin. MND-B will not release any additional details prior to notification of next of kin and official release by the DoD. The incident is currently under investigation." The announcement today took the number of US service members killed in the Iraq War to 4321, with 15 for the month upsetting Operation Happy Talk plans for billing June as the second lowest month for US service member deaths since the start of the illegal war.

June 30th. The for-show play-day of pretend 'pull-out'.
Mike Tharp (McClatchy Newspapers) observes, "The American and Iraqi militaries had different notions of when the withdrawal of U.S. combat forces from major cities would start. The Americans thought that "after June 30," as written in the status of forces agreement, meant 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, July 1. The Iraqis -- whose timeline ultimately prevailed -- interpreted the dawn of their new authority as when the clock ticked past midnight to Tuesday, June 30. That's one reason that so many Iraqis celebrated the handoff of authority Monday night with singing, dancing and parties in their streets and parks. In the end, once both sides realized the communications breakdown, the Americans simply told their forces to start abiding by the new rules 23 hours and 59 minutes earlier than they'd planned." So if it was a historic day, let's go to the numbers, let's go to the stats. Woops. Reporters tried to do that during a Baghdad briefining with top US commander in Iraq General Ray Odierno and it wasn't not pretty. Reuters quotes him exclaiming, "Because it would be inaccurate! Because I don't know exactly how many [US service members] are in the cities. It varies day-to-day based on the mission. [. . . .] How many times you want me to say that? I don't know." They note he apologized for his outburst ("temper" was his term) and it must be stressful to be the one who has attempted to avoid the spin but have it shoved off on you. CBS and AP cite CBS News' Lara Loogan quoting al-Maliki declaring, "Those who think Iraqis are unable to defend their country are committing a fatal mistake" and making that declaration from "a makeshift stand -- as much due to security concerns as by designs." Free Speech Radio News interviewed Iraqi Baswa Alkhateeb, an Iraqi mother of two in Baghdad (here for the segment). Manuel Rueda noted, "She says that nothing will change on a daily basis because US soldiers have already decreased their presence in Baghdad."

Baswa Alkhateeb: We don't see them around much like before so they've already shrinked their activites in the cities. They've already done that for the past four or five months. [. . . . On why she's not celebrating today.] We have a lawless state The alligance of the security forces that are taking over is not for the country or for the state it's for the Islamic groups for the clerics who are in the Parliament who ruling now so it's not really a blessing or something to be happy about. Add to that the whole institutions were dismantled. So the way that it was rearranged after 2003, 2004, it's not about the state, it's about allegiance to their sects, to the cultural, political cultural, that put them there. [. . .] What's happening now is no employment, no educational system, no health care, nothing. IDPs [Internally Displaced Persons] all over. We have graduates from university who do not have a place to be employed unless they're part of this political culture which is following the clerics and the Islamic extreme parties ruling the country. It's something new and deformed actually. Our elites are outside, they've all left. We need experts, we need professional people here. So it will take time I don't know and all these political groups, the extremist Islamists have militias. And more were enrolled in the armies -- in the security forces.

But don't believe her,
Marc Santora (New York Times) stuck his big toe out of the Green Zone and declares, "Schools are open, including one where a teacher had been strung up by her feet and her face cut off by extremists." Santora whores it so well he probably forgets that most readers of the paper may be thinking, "Why the hell didn't we ever hear about that story?" You didn't hear it because they didn't want you to. They looked the other way during the slaughter on Haditha Street, they looked the other way as thugs were installed, they looked the other way as Nouri and his thugs threatened the press (though they did pull the reporter whom Iraqi forces 'jokingly' shot at), they ignored so very much and now you're left with the choice of believeing Marc Santora who is paid by the paper that sold the illegal war or an Iraqi mother in Baghdad with children who damn well knows what the situation on the ground in her city is. While Santora worked himself into a frenzy trying to make it appear today was historic, the US government was less busy. At the State Dept's press briefing today, Iraq wasn't a topic Ian Kelly or the press bothered to bring up. At the White House, on this 'historic' day, tubby Robert Gibbs opened the press briefing laughing about his foul mouth being caught on (and edited from) video tape. Forced to address Barry O's lackadaisical attitude towards Iraq, Gibbs began insisting that wasn't the case and then dropped back to making jokes about the previous administration because when you have no plans yourself, let alone accomplishments, better to keep pointing the previous screw-up.

The 'pull-out' is not the 'drawn-down' or, heaven forbid, a withdrawal. Though he repeatedly lied to voters during the primary and presidential campaigns, Barack Obama's not done a damn thing he promised and
BBC News explains that "131,000 US troops remain in Iraq, including 12 combat brigades, and the total is not expected tro drop below 128,000 until after the Iraqi national election in January." Even then we wouldn't see withdrawal and the January elections were supposed to take place in December. Violence or other options might push them back again.

Violence? Kirkuk was the site of mass deaths from a car bombing.
Tim Cocks and Muhanad Mohammed (Reuters) count at least 32 dead with over one hundred injured Ernesto Londono (Washington Post) notes that the bombing also destroyed 30 shops in a market. Ali Windawi and Ned Parker (Los Angeles Times) explain, "The attack came barely a week after nearly 80 people were killed in a suicide truck bomb in Taza Khurmatu, a Shiite Turkmen town just south of the city. Both blasts pointed to a deliberate effort to fan the ethnic tensions in an oil-rich area that Kurds with to claim as part of their self-governing region in northern Iraq and Arabas want tied to the central government in Baghdad. The blast marred a day that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki had hailed as a historic victory". Daniel Williams (Bloomberg News) notes the death toll has risen to "at least 41 people and wounded 120 others."

Kirkuk was the subject of the Christian Science Monitor's editorial "
Iraq's next milestone: the Kurdish question" this morning -- excerpt:Tension between Mr. Maliki – an Arab – and the semiautonomous Kurdistan Regional Government in the north has escalated significantly in the last year. It touches issues of fundamental importance -- national unity, oil wealth, and the balance of power between the central government and the regions. Left unaddressed -- or worse, provoked -- the Kurd-Arab divide could split the Iraqi state. A wide swath of disputed territory lies at the heart of the problem. Last August, only direct negotiation between Kurdish President Masoud Barzani and Maliki was able to head off a military showdown between Iraqi and Kurdish forces in the Kurdish-administered town of Khanaqin. Nothing is more central to the territorial tug of war than the province of Kirkuk, which lies next to an oil field that contains 20 percent of the country's proven oil reserves. The Kurds consider Kirkuk historically theirs, but it is now populated by a mix of Kurds, Turkmens, Christians, and Arabs -- the latter group was sent by Saddam Hussein to flood the area. The 2005 Iraqi Constitution calls for Kirkuk's status to be set by referendum, but the vote keeps being delayed. In other reported violence today . . .


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 2 Baghdad roadside bombings which left four people injured


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports an armed clash in Mosul with 1 death.


Reuters notes 3 corpses ("alcohol dealers" remember fundamentalists thugs rule in Iraq) were discovered in Tikrit.

While the for-show 'pull-out' captures the bulk of the attention today, many other telling moments took place. In Iraq?

The tag-sale on Iraqi oil had a . . . Well,
Liz Sly (Los Angeles Times) calls it a disappointment: "Iraq was seeking bids from firms to develop eight of its existing oil and gas fields, but only one contract was awarded to work one oil field at a public auction televised live from Baghdad's Rashid Hotel inside the heavily fortified Green Zone." But it wasn't disappointing for everyone. This morning Keith Bradsher (New York Times) reported on what he saw as a surprise move on the part of Chinese oil companies to enter into the bidding. Surprising or not, a partnership between China National Petroleum Corporation and British Petroleum proved to be a winning combo. Robin Pagnamenta (Times of London) reports they won "access to Iraq's biggest oilfield" in the auction. It needs to be noted that there were other winners, they just didn't like what they wong. Pagnamenta reports that "all other foreign companies involved in bidding for a total of eight fields, including Royal Dutch Shell, rejected what were considered to be punitive terms on offer fromt he Iraqi Government. In total, nearly 30 overseas companies withdrew."

In the US?

Yesterday, as
Marcia and Stan noted, Barack Obama invited LGBT 'leaders' to the White House and tried to use his oily charm and pretty words to pretend he might someday -- not any time soon, understand -- do something. Someday. Maybe. In the real world, Lt. Daniel Choic fights for his career and does it with no help from the alleged 'fierce advocate' for the LGBT community. Alexa James (Times Herald-Record) reports that closed-door deliberations continue by a US Army board over what to do about the New York National Guard member who's 'crime' was being honest about who he was. James notes, "Choi graduated from West Point in 2003 as an Arabic major and served as an interpreter in Iraq in 2006 and 2007. He left active duty and joined the Guard last June." Daniel Nasaw (Brisbane Times) explains, "In one of the last instances of government-sanctioned discrimination, the military allows gay men and lesbians to serve in the military only if they keep quiet about their sexuality. For more than a year after meeting his boyfriend and falling in love, Lieutenant Choi was forced to lie or risk joining a list of almost 13,000 gay and lesbian personnel discarged in the past 16 years under the 'don't ask, don't tell' policy'." Mike McAndrew (Syracuse Post-Standard) notes the hearing began this morning at eight o'clock. Scott Horsley (NPR's All Things Considered) files a report featuring noted homophobe and hag Elaine Donnelly, apparently taking a break from writing for the National Review and taking ugly lessons, who weighs in against any changes to Don't Ask, Don't Tell declaring, "We don't make policy based on popular culture or marching in the streets or party favors." Party favors? The last time Donnelly was invited to a party, Howdy Doody was still on the airwaves, thereby explaining her bitter bitchiness. Bitchy? Oh, we're back to Barack who wanted to talk about how he was committed to changing people's minds when all the lazy ass needs to do is sign an executive order putting a stop-loss on discharges under Don't Ask, Don't Tell. That's all it takes. If he'd do that, Dan Choi would not be fighting for his career, no one would be at risk. It would cost him nothing and he wouldn't even have to go through Congress. Barry O loves to mingle with his fellow celebrities posing as 'leaders'. But Barry just doesn't like to do anything. June 19th on Democracy Now!, it was explained how simple it was for Don't Ask, Don't Tell to be stopped immediately:

AMY GOODMAN: And what is the significance of it being passed by Congress, rather than just a policy of the Pentagon?
NATHANIEL FRANK: Well, a couple things. First of all, because it's now a matter of federal law for the first time, because before that it was just a Pentagon policy and regulation, it's now that much more difficult for the policy to be repealed, because as a law passed by Congress, Congress would need to repeal it.I do want to correct one thing that Secretary Alexander said, that President Obama does have the power to stop the firings. He can act unilaterally to use his powers of stop-loss through a statute, 12305 from 1983, in which Congress itself gives the President the power to stop separations in the military for a variety of reasons. And so, he has said that he wants to stop the firings, and he actually has the power to stop the firings. And so, it's really been very unclear to many of us why he's unwilling to take that step. The White House has been --
AMY GOODMAN: You mean it would be an executive order?
NATHANIEL FRANK: It would be an executive order halting all separations while we are under a national emergency, which the statute defines as being -- having the National Guard mobilized, as it currently is. And then he could go to Congress some months down the line and say, "Look, we've had openly gay service officially" -- incidentally, we already have openly gay service; thousands of people are serving openly, notwithstanding the policy. But he could turn to this situation officially and say, "We have openly gay service because of this executive order. The sky hasn't fallen. Now, Congress, let's move to get this off the books permanently." So it would be a one-two punch. And that is an option that Obama has. And he's been asked about it, the White House has been asked about it, and they haven't given a good reason why, given what he said about wanting to stop the firings, he's continuing to let the firings go, when he has the power to do otherwise.

But he chooses not to do a damn thing. And the board has reached a decision to recommend that Lt Dan Choi be discharged. For the 'crime' of being gay and being honest about it.
Mike McAnder (Syracuse Post-Standard) reports Choi was informed of the decision at five this evening and that "he plans to appeal to higher ranking officers" because, "I refuse to lie about my love relationship."

The reality is that Barack could have stepped in at any point and put a stop to this witch hunt but he chose not to. And eality is that Barry O will be judged him not by his pretty words and empty promises but by his actions. Related, Chris Hedges' "
The Truth Alone Will Not Set You Free" (Information Clearing House): All periods of profound change occur in a crisis. It was a crisis that brought us the New Deal, now largely dismantled by the corporate state. It was also a crisis that gave the world Adolf Hitler and Slobodan Milosevic. We can go in either direction. Events move at the speed of light when societies and cultural assumptions break down. There are powerful forces, which have no commitment to the open society, ready to seize the moment to snuff out the last vestiges of democratic egalitarianism. Our bankrupt liberalism, which naively believes that Barack Obama is the antidote to our permanent war economy and Wall Street fraud, will either rise from its coma or be rolled over by an organized corporate elite and their right-wing lap dogs. The corporate domination of the airwaves, of most print publications and an increasing number of Internet sites means we will have to search, and search quickly, for alternative forms of communication to thwart the rise of totalitarian capitalism.Hedges supported Ralph Nader in 2008 and Ralph Nader's sent out an e-mail today entitled "Obama Betrayal Syndrome" which opens with:

"I want my money back, President Obama!" That's the title of Marie Marchand's column in Common Dreams this week.
Marie Marchand says she gave $20 a week for seven months to the Obama campaign -- plus $60 every once in a while for a t-shirt and sticker.
"I gave of my modest purse joyfully," she writes. "I thought I was supporting change I could believe in, not more of the same bloodshed and war!" She now feels betrayed. Millions of Americans are feeling betrayed. They thought Obama as President meant change we can believe in. They thought Obama as President meant withdrawal from Iraq.

"Well they were wrong then, weren't they?" as Marty Feldman says in Mel Brooks' Young Frankenstein. Nader's e-mail is promoting
Single Payer Action TV, so check that out. Cynthia McKinney also ran for the US presidency in 2008. And Kimberly Wilder (On The Wilder Side) passes on this news release:

friends@freegaza.org Caoimhe Butterly (Arabic/English/Spanish): tel: +357 99 077 820 / sahara78@hotmail.co.uk www.FreeGaza.org [23 miles off the coast of Gaza , 15:30pm] - Today Israeli Occupation Forces attacked and boarded the Free Gaza Movement boat, the SPIRIT OF HUMANITY, abducting 21 human rights workers from 11 countries, including Noble laureate Mairead Maguire and former U.S. Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney (see below for a complete list of passengers). The passengers
and crew are being forcibly dragged toward Israel . "This is an outrageous violation of international law against us. Our boat was not in Israeli waters, and we were on a human rights mission to the Gaza
Strip," said Cynthia McKinney, a former U.S. Congresswoman and presidential candidate. "President Obama just told Israel to let in humanitarian and reconstruction supplies, and that's exactly what we tried to do. We're
asking the international community to demand our release so we can resume our journey." According to an International Committee of the Red Cross report released yesterday, the Palestinians living in Gaza are "trapped in despair." Thousands
of Gazans whose homes were destroyed earlier during Israel 's December/January massacre are still without shelter despite pledges of
almost $4.5 billion in aid, because Israel refuses to allow cement and other building material into the Gaza Strip. The report also notes that hospitals are struggling to meet the needs of their patients due to Israel 's disruption of medical supplies. "The aid we were carrying is a symbol of hope for the people of Gaza , hope
that the sea route would open for them, and they would be able to
transport their own materials to begin to reconstruct the schools, hospitals
and thousands of homes destroyed during the onslaught of "Cast Lead". Our mission is a gesture to the people of Gaza that we stand by them and that
they are not alone" said fellow passenger Mairead Maguire, winner of a Noble Peace Prize for her work in Northern Ireland . Just before being kidnapped by Israel , Huwaida Arraf, Free Gaza Movement chairperson and delegation co-coordinator on this voyage, stated that: "No
one could possibly believe that our small boat constitutes any sort of threat
to Israel . We carry medical and reconstruction supplies, and children's toys. Our passengers include a Nobel peace prize laureate and a former U.S. congressperson. Our boat was searched and received a security clearance
by Cypriot Port Authorities before we departed, and at no time did we ever approach Israeli waters." Arraf continued, " Israel 's deliberate and premeditated attack on our unarmed boat is a clear violation of international law and we demand our immediate and unconditional release." One of the last labor reporters left in the United States is independent journalist
David Bacon -- whose latest book is Illegal People -- How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants (Beacon Press). At Immigration Prof Blog, Bacon's photos of a Mixtec migrant Margarito Salvador's family who work in the strwaberry fields of Watsonville, Calif.

free speech radio news
the washington post
ernesto londono
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tim cocksnprall things considered the new york timesmarc santorachris hedges

Monday, June 29, 2009

Grilled cheese in the Kitchen

Barry & Bully

That's Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Barry & Bully" and I'm Jess filling in for Trina who is in Hawaii with her husband on a vacation.

I'll be posting a little for her this week. She said not much. First, check out:

Cedric's Big Mix
False gods and idols? Better check yourself.

The Daily Jot

Betty's also going to be blogging on the topic but she's not posted yet.

Okay, grilled cheese sandwiches.

That was one of my favorite snacks as a child.

If you have a toster oven, grilled cheese is very easy to fix, you put cheese between two slices of bread, pop them into the toaster oven and cook.

No toaster oven? Microwave oven. You pop two pieces of bread in a toaster oven. You then put a slice of cheese in between them and microwave on a plate for 30 seconds.

No toaster oven and no microwave oven? Grab a skillet, grease with butter, put a piece of cheese between two slices of bread and cook one side of sandwich (sandwich -- chese in middle) and then flip and cook the other side.

Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Monday, June 29, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces another death, one media outlet prepares to offer indepth coverage of the targeting of Iraq's LGBT community, June 30th play day frenzy builds, uh-oh-Gordo, he's in trouble again, and more.

In a week when Iraq 'dates' will be discussed non-stop, we'll start with an important one: July 5th. That's when
BBC Radio 5 airs Gay Life After Saddam (7 to 8 p.m. in England -- that will be eleven to noon PST). Ashley Byrne and Gail Champion produce the special for Made in Manchester. James Chaperlard (Crain's Manchester Business) reports:

In Gay Life After Saddam, presenter Aasmah Mir finds out how life for the country's gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered community (LGBT), has got worse since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003. Human rights campaigners claim hundreds of LGBT people have been killed or tortured while others have fled the country fearing for their safety since Saddam was toppled from power six years ago.

Not noted in the article but among the people interviewed for the special is Nouri al-Maliki, puppet of the occupation, and his remarks should be of especial interest since he's done nothing to prevent the continued assault on Iraq's LGBT community. Note that this special is being commissioned and aired by the BBC. Did Joan Kroc's McMillions to NPR come with a codicil barring NPR from reporting on the gay community? NPR has never covered the ongoing assault on Iraq's LGBT community. June 1st, the assault was addressed on
KPFK's Connect the Dots with Lila Garrett between Garrett and LA City Council member Bill Rosendahl and that's day's snapshot included the following rundown -- and this is a partial rundown:

As noted May 15th, "
Ruben Vives (Los Angeles Times) reports that the Los Angeles City Council unanimously voted Wednesday to approve Council Rep Bill Rosendahl's 'resolution calling for federal legislation urging the Iraqi government to prevent the persecution of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people'." Lila noted that the segment was taped ahead of time so, for perspective, the resolution passed May 15th. This year, the targeting's been noted here first in more on the issue, you can see this snapshot, this entry and the roundtable Friday night ["Roundtable on Iraq," "Roundtabling Iraq," "the roundtable," "Iraq," "Iraq in the Kitchen," "Roundtable on Iraq," "Talking Iraq," "Iraq," "Talking Iraq roundtable" and "Iraq roundtable"] That's going back to the start of April and it is not true that the MSM has ignored it. They could do a lot more but they have covered it and where there has been no amplification is in Panhandle Media which appears to feel it's a 'niche' story to be left to the LGBT media. In April, Wisam Mohammed and Khalid al-Ansary (Reuters) and Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN), the Dallas Morning News, UPI and AFP reported on it. Michael Riley (Denver Post) covered the story and covered US House Rep Jared Polis' work on the issue (which included visiting Iraq), PDF format warning, click here for his letter to Patricia A. Butenis. Polis is quoted at his website stating, "The United States should not tolerate human rights violations of nay kind, especially by a government that Americans spend billions of taxpayer dollars each year supporting. Hopefully my trip and letters to US and Iraqi officials will help bring international attention and investigation to this terrible situation and bring an end to any such offenses." For the New York Times, Timothy Williams and Tareq Maher's "Iraq's Newly Open Gays Face Scorn and Murder" covered the topic. BBC News offered "Fears over Iraq gay killing spate." The Denver Post offered an editorial entitled "Killing of gay Iraqis shouldn't be ignored: We applaud Rep. Jared Polis for his efforts last week to shine the spotlight on the killings of homosexuals in Iraq," Nigel Morris offered "Iraqi leaders attacked over spate of homophobic murders" (Independent of London), the Telegraph of London covers the issue here. Neal Broverman (The Advocate), Jessica Green (UK's Pink News), and Doug Ireland
covered it (here's one
report by Ireland at GayCityNews -- he's filed more than one report), AFP reported on it again when signs went up throughout Sadr City with statements such as "We will punish you, perverts" and "We will get you, puppies" (puppies is slang for gay men in Iraq) and Liz Sly (Los Angeles Times) reported on that as well. Chris Johnson offered "Polis seeks to aid Iraqis: Says gays 'fear for their life and limb' after fact-finding trip to Baghdad" (Washington Blade), Killian Melloy (The Edge -- this is the April 2nd story that contains the State Dept stating it's not happening -- the denial) and [PDF formart warning] the April 15th "Iraq Status Report" by the US State Dept notes the killings. Amnesty International weighed in as did the International Gay and lesiban Human Rights Campaign. Jim Muir (BBC News -- text and video) reported on the targeting and the attacks. UK Gay News covered it, last week ABC News offered Mazin Faiq's "Tortured and Killed in Iraq for Being Gay" Chicago Pride and UPI covered the latest deaths last week. And AFP and Jessica Green (UK's Pink News) covered the public statement from Moqtada al-Sadr about how they needed to be "eradicated" for "depravity" and he thinks they can be 'taught' not to be gay. As for the technique, Bill Rosendahl didn't want to discuss on air Doug Ireland (ZNet) reported on that in May[.]

Though it's a partial list, NPR's not omitted. No major outlet is. ABC News, BBC, CNN, Denver Post, Dallas Morning News (a news roundup), the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, UPI and AFP are major outlets. So is NPR but it had other things to do. Now BBC's commissioned and will be airing (July 5th -- and it will stream live online) and NPR's still playing Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

Don't Ask, Don't Tell,
Matthew S. Bajko (The Edge) notes that this is being termed the "Summer of Obummer" and reviews Barack Obama's stumbles and fumbles on LGBT issues including: "In court papers the Obama administration has defended the policy, and it has also refused to issue an executive order ending discharges of LGBT service members as it determines what course of action to take." Jean Stanula (Examiner) points out that hideous policy creates many victims, including the service members' partners: "There is another group of people who are devastatingly affected by this policy as well, a group of people who are not even members of the military -- the partners of these LGBT soldiers who struggle with the same trials as military spouses, yet receive none of the support from the government, who must, in fact, remain invisible for the protection of their military partners. The husbands and wives of American soldiers receive special benefits from the government, in addition to the love and support they recieve from their communities. Some of these benefits include: receiving compensation if their husband or wife is injured or killed in the line of duty, disabled veterans who are married receive extra compensation to support their spouse, veteran's pensions, military support networks, next-of-kin notifications and more. Partners of LGBT service members are denied these benefits, even the simple benefit of expressing pride openly of their love ones." Last week, 77 members of the US House of Representatives wrote Barack about ending the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy:

Although we are confident that you will remain true to your campaign promise to end Don't Ask, Don't Tell, our LGBT service members and our country's national security will continue to suffer if initial action is delayed until 2010 or 2011. We urge you to exercise the maximum discretion legally possible in administering Don't Ask, Don't Tell until Congress repeals the law. To this end, we ask that you direct the Armed Services not to initiate any investigation of service personnel to determine their sexual orientation, and that you instruct them to disregard third party accusations that do not allege violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. That is, we request that you impose that no one is asked and that you ignore, as the law requires, third parties who tell. Under your leadership, Congress must then repeal and replace Don't Ask, Don't Tell with a policy of inclusion and non-discrimination. This bilateral strategy would allow our openly gay and lesbian service members to continue serving our country and demonstrate our nation's lasting commitment to justice and equality for all.
As the United States continues to work towards responsibly ending the War in Iraq and refocus on the threat from al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan, our LGBT service members offer invaluable skills that enhance our country's military competence and readiness. Despite the great strain on our military's human resources, the Armed Forces have discharged almost 800 mission-critical troops and at least 59 Arabic and nine Farsi linguists under Don't Ask, Don't Tell in the last five years. This is indefensible. The financial cost alone of implementing Don't Ask, Don't Tell from Fiscal Year 1994-2003 was more than $363.8 million. Our nation's military has always held itself to the highest standards, and we must recruit and retain the greatest number of our best and brightest. To do anything less only hurts our country's military readiness and our service members.
We also want to bring to your attention the most recent examples of the failed Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy in action. New York National Guard First Lieutenant Dan Choi and Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Victor Fehrenbach are two exceptional servicemen who have dedicated their lives to defending our country and protecting the American people. Their bravery and abilities have been tested in combat, and now they face impending discharge under Don't Ask, Don't Tell.
First Lieutenant Choi, a current National Guardsman with the 1st Battalion of the 69th Infantry in Manhattan, is a West Point graduate, Arabic language specialist, and Iraq War veteran who is under investigation for refusing to lie about his identity.
Lieutenant Colonel Fehrenbach, Assistant Director of Operations for the 366th Operations Support Squadron at Mountain Home Air Force Base in Idaho, has honorably served his country for 18 years as an F-15E pilot. He has received nine air medals, including a Medal for Heroism during the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and was hand-picked to protect the airspace over Washington, D.C. after the Pentagon was attacked on September 11, 2001. Lieutenant Colonel Fehrenbach, who has flown combat missions in Iraq and Afghanistan against the Taliban and al Qaeda, continues to serve while the recommendation for his honorable discharge moves forward to a review board, and eventually to the Secretary of the Air Force. Just two years away from his 20-year retirement, he stands to lose $46,000 a year in retirement and medical benefits for the rest of his life if discharged.
The American people and service members of the Armed Forces overwhelmingly support the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. According to a national Gallup poll conducted in May 2009, 69 percent of Americans, including 58 percent of Republicans, favor allowing openly gay men and lesbian women to serve in the military. Furthermore, a 2006 poll of 545 troops who served in Iraq and Afghanistan by Zogby International and the Michael D. Palm Center at the University of California, Santa Barbara revealed that 73 percent are personally comfortable with gay men and lesbian women. John Shalikashvili, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the Clinton administration, and more than 100 retired admirals and generals support this repeal, in addition to the Human Rights Campaign, the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, and Knights Out, an organization of LGBT West Point alumni co-founded by First Lieutenant Choi.

That's an excerpt.
The letter (in full) can be found at US House Rep Alcee L. Hasting's website and "was authored by Hastings and signed by Representatives Barney Frank (D-MA), John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI), Fortney "Pete" Stark (D-CA), Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Gary Ackerman (D-NY), Louise Slaughter (D-NY), Eliot Engel (D-NY), Jim McDermott (D-WA), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), José Serrano (D-NY), James Moran (D-VA), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Ed Pastor (D-AZ), James Clyburn (D-SC), Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Bob Filner (D-CA), Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Robert "Bobby" Scott (D-VA), Bennie Thompson (D-MS), Nydia Velázquez (D-NY), Melvin Watt (D-NC), Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), Lloyd Doggett (D-TX), Chaka Fattah (D-PA), Jane Harman (D-CA), Lois Capps (D-CA), Donna M. Christensen (D-VI), Diana DeGette (D-CO), Bill Delahunt (D-MA), Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick (D-MI), Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), Barbara Lee (D-CA), James McGovern (D-MA), Brad Sherman (D-CA), Robert Wexler (D-FL), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Shelley Berkley (D-NV), Michael Capuano (D-MA), Joseph Crowley (D-NY), Rush Holt (D-NJ), John Larson (D-CT), Grace Napolitano (D-CA), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Anthony Weiner (D-NY), David Wu (D-OR), William Lacy Clay (D-MO), Mike Honda (D-CA), James Langevin (D-RI), Betty McCollum (D-MN), Diane Watson (D-CA), Tim Bishop (D-NY), Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ), Linda Sánchez (D-CA), Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO), Doris Matsui (D-CA), Gwen Moore (D-WI), Debbie Wasserman Schulz (D-FL), André Carson (D-IN), Kathy Castor (D-FL), Yvette Clarke (D-NY), Donna F. Edwards (D-MD), Keith Ellison (D-MN), Marcia L. Fudge (D-OH), Phil Hare (D-IL), Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI), Laura Richardson (D-CA), Joe Sestak (D-PA), Niki Tsongas (D-MA), Peter Welch (D-VT), Alan Grayson (D-FL), Jared Polis (D-CO), Mike Quigley (D-IL), and Gregorio Sablan (D-MP)."

While there has been action in the US House of Representatives calling for the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell this month, the only US Senator publicly raising the issue is Roland Burris.
As his office notes:

Last week, Senator Burris met with Equality Illinois and a number of GLBT leaders in Chicago to discuss the current military policy of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." Burris, a member of both the Senate Armed Services Committee and the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs voiced his strong opposition to the current discriminatory policy. During a June 22nd press conference at Equality Illinois, Senator Burris vowed to work alongside Senator Ted Kennedy to bring an end to the military's ban on gay servicemen and women, and to make the United States Armed Services more inclusive and accepting of all the brave individuals who wear our nation's uniform.
"When we dismiss the sacrifices made by those with a different sexual orientation, we undermind the strength of our fighting forces. When we fail to recognize the brave contributions that gay and lesbian service members continue to make every single day, we diminish ourselves as much as we diminish their service," Senator Burris said. "We should end this offensive and discriminatory policy, so they can be the best soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines they can be, while living their lives openly and honestly."
This Sunday, Senator Burris will march alongside members of the GLBT community in Chicago's Pride Parade.

Charlotte Starck and KOMO-TV Staff (Seattle Post-Intelligencer) note that Burris, Illinois Govenor Pat Quinn and the state's Attorney General Lisa Madigan joined "the festivicites that have attracted hundreds of thousands in recent years" yesterday. Yesterday's events were part of the activism around the 40th anniversary of Stonewall and, for more on that, you can refer to Amy Goodman's "Stonewall Riots 40th Anniversary: A Look Back at the Uprising that Launched the Modern Gay Rights Movement," "Trans Day of Action: 'The Rebellion Is Not Over'" and "A Look at the Gay Rights Movement Beyond Marriage and the Military" (Democracy Now!).

Turning to England where
Rupert Hamer (Daily Mirror) informs, "A secret report by Army bosses to be presented to the Iraq war inquiry blames Tony Blair and Gordon Brown for the botched occupation of the country. The dossier -- prepared for ex-military chief General Sir Mike Jackson -- criticize then Chancellor Mr Brown for withholding fuds to rebuild Basra for FIVE months after our troops went in. And the 100-page document attacks Mr Blair for 'uncritically' accepting flawed US plans for the March 2003 invasion, which led to tens of thousands of deaths, including those of 179 British troops." Daniel Martin (Daily Mail) adds, "In a memo to the Iraq war inquiry, they say Mr Brown's refusal as Chancellor to release vital funds for the Army played into the hands of insurgents. Its criticisms are the latest in a line of attacks from senior Army figures on Mr Brown, who was Chancellor when U.S. and British troops attacked Iraq in March 2003." Nicholas Watt (Mail & Guardian) reminds that last week was when a debate in the House of Commons forced Gordon Brown and his cabinet to back off of the inquiry being held completely in private and notes that the chance "that Blair and Brown will be cross-examined on their roles in the Iraq war during the build-up to the general election that is expected to take place next year." The debate also forced Brown and his cabinet to back off the claim that the inquiry would not apportion blame. Scottish National Party leader Angus Robertson states, "This leaked document would appear to be a damning critique of the two most senior members of the Labour government at the time -- Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. It also suggests that there may be great unease about Gordon Brown's decision to allow the inquiry to be held in secret when it wished. The whole point of this inquiry was to get to the truth about the Iraq war. People wanted an open and honest inquiry, not some establishment stich-up. This leak would appear to support the fact that by every measurement the Iraq war has been the biggest foreign policy disaster in modern times, and those responsible for it have never answered the most fundamental questions about why we were led into this mess." Meanwhile the Yorkshire Post reports, "Families of soldiers killed by roadside bombs in Iraq and Afghanistan are suing the Ministry of Defence, claiming that the lightly-armoured Snatch Land Rovers in which they died should never have been used on the frontline. Over the past four years, dozens of our troops have been killed in this way."

Today the
US military announced: "A Multi-National Division-Baghdad Soldier died June 28 as the result of combat related injuries. The Soldier's name is being withheld pending notification of next of kin. The names of the service members are announced through the U.S. Department of Defense Official Website at http://www.defenselink.mil/ . The announcements are made on the Website no earlier than 24 hours after notification of the service member's primary next of kin. MND-B will not release any additional details prior to notification of next of kin and official release by the DoD. The incident is currently under investigation." The announcement brings to 4317 the number of US service members killed since the start of the illegal war.

In other reported violence . . .


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Mosul bombing today which claimed the lives of 2 police officers and a Mosul car bombing claimed the lives of 9 police officers and left eleven people injured. Reuters notes a Kirkuk roadside bombing left one person injured and, dropping back to Sunday, Ramadi roadside bombing which claimed the life of 1 "member of the Sunni Iraqi Islamic Party and wounded his son".


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 1 police officer was shot dead in Diyala Province.

Reuters notes 4 corpses were discovered in Mosul today.

Turning to the issue of the June 30th 'pull-out' and starting with this from
Alice Fordham (Times of London), "The June 30 deadline was made in a status of forces agreement between the US and Iraq at the start of the year. A national holiday has been declared for that day, although a curfew may be imposed." That's noted in Thursday's snapshot and we're noting it again because on Friday an outlet (NYT) reported on the holiday for the first time and has since gotten credit (unearned) for being the outlet to break that news. Alice Fordahm had already reported it. Ernesto Londono (Washington Post) quotes wary Iraqi Jbory stating, "I will celebrate when I see my country living in peace. I will celebrate when there is electricity and clean water, when people go to the park and feel safe. I'll celebrate when kids on the street look clean and are wearing new clothes. I will celebrate when people can earn a living." Hala Jaber, Ali Rifat Amman and Tony Allen-Mills (Times of London) quoted Sheiak Harith al-Dhari stating, "The resistance will not subside. I expect the insurgency to increase in both strength and ferocity, at least until the total withdrawal of the occupiers. Logic dictates that as long as there is fire under the pot, then the pot will continue to boil." Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reported, "The guys with the guns and bombs and best-laid plans may think the U.S. withdrawal of combat troops from major Iraqi cities will work. But some ordinary Iraqis habor another idea." Meanwhile Thomas E. Ricks debates himself. First he argues, "Will the Iraqi be able to keep the population relatively secure? To be honest, I don't know, and no one else does." Less than 20 minutes later he offers, "Iraq is probably going to be violent for many years to come, and likely will be a closer ally of Iran than of the United States". While I would personally guess that his second argument is the likely outcome for the foreseeable future, I can say 100%, I don't know. What is known? Mike Tharp (McClatchy Newspapers) offers some reality on the pull-out: "But the Status of Forces Agreement setting the June 30 deadline leaves a lot of discretionary decisions to the Americans. Lieut. Col. Drake Johnson, 39, a liaison officer with the Iraqi police, could have termed the patrol a 'force protection' mission, not a 'combined patrol.' In that case, only Americans would've been walking the route. That's one reason on Tuesday, when Iraqis wake up, they will still see U.S. soldiers and Marines on patrol and in convoys. That's why some Iraqis -- like the one who yelled at the patrol, 'Hey, it's too bad you guys will be leaving soon!' -- may be disappointed with the profile, the footprint, that the Americans will still display in Iraq." Alice Fordham (Times of London) describes the current scene in Baghdad: "Lurid artificial flowers and tinsel decorated the police cars and balloons and streamers adorned the concrete security checkpoints of South Baghdad". Derrick Henry (New York Times) reports that Iraqi MP ("and a former national security adviser") Qassim Daoud is calling for the Status Of Forces Agreement to "be extended to 2020 or 2025."

On the 'pull-out' of US forces from some cities,
Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) explained this morning, "In most cases, they'll be shifted to areas encircling the places they leave. American forces will also remain in the town of Mosul for an indefinite time." And they will remain in Baghdad where their bases sprawl in and out of the city. On the encircling, we'll fall back to Friday's snapshot:As for the pull-out from Iraqi cities, Jane Arraf (Christian Science Monitor) reveals, that instead of being in the cities, US forces will "encircle them," "put in place in the belts around those cities and in areas that are potential flashpoints of Kurdish-Arab tension. . . . The plan keeps US advisers within the cities, and in Mosul redeploys battalions that had been within the city to the surrounding areas." Ernesto Londono (Washington Post) reports that while "[t]housands of U.S. combat troops will remain at a handful of bases in Baghdad and on the outskirts of other restive cities, such as Mosul and Kirkuk, in nothern Iraq, past the June 30 deadline" and that this has US military officials worried that US service members as well as Iraqis will be put at risk in the new holding pattern Barack's created. Stop the holding pattern, just bring the troops home.

The illegal war hasn't ended.
Elizabeth Baier (Minnesota Public Radio) reports, "More than 550 troops from the Minnesota Army National Guard will head to Iraq next month, where they will serve a one-year deployment as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom." Bob Von Sternberg (Minneapolis Star-Tribune) adds, "They are scheduled to return to Minnesota next April." Lindsay Wise (Houston Chronicle) reports on the Texas Army National Guard's 72 Brigade will be shipping to Iraq for a nine month tour of duty.

Turning to Iraqi oil,
Tamsin Carlisle (The National) observes of the "live auction of oil contracts," "What is certain is that billions of dollar will be put on the table to develop some of the country's biggest oilfields. But little else is assured." Including the when as there has been a one day postponement. The postponing, Robert Tuttle and Anthony DiPaola (Bloomberg News) explain, is due to a sandstorm.

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michael rileythe new york timestimothy williamstareq maher the denver postbbc newsnigel morris
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the christian science monitorjane arraf

Friday, June 26, 2009

3 Bean Salad in the Kitchen

1 can of red kidney beans
1 can of garbanzo beans
1 can of cannellini beans
1 onion
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

Empty the (15 ounce) cans of beans so that you can rinse them to remove the sodium. After rinsing them, place them in a bowl you can cover or a tupperware container. The onion. White, yellow or red -- your choice. I use red. I slice the onion into rings. You can do that or you can chop it or dice it. Place in the bowl. Add red wine vinegar. Stir.

You'd then pop it in the fridge for at least a half hour to chill.

That's the simplest recipe. You can also chop a piece of celery and add that. And/or you can slice a cucumber and add that.

You want it to be chilled because this is the heat of the summer.

Children can have it for a snack and if you're attempting to find other things to serve.

So there's an easy recipe. You could even take it to a July 4th get together.

So that's our recipe.

The economy is depressing and unimproved.

So instead, I'll note C.I.'s "I Hate The War" from last night which was a wonderful and addressed the passing of Farrah Fawcett. I really enjoyed it and enjoyed hearing about the artist Farrah was. I loved that C.I. gave Farrah, Kate Jackson and Jaclyn Smith credit for creating their characters and explained that they had to rescue each episode because the scripts were cheesy and sexist.

I loved all of that.

And then tonight I saw a thing at MSNBC where Kate Jackson is talking about her time on Charlie's Angels with Farrah:

“She was so funny, and we had the best time that year that she did ‘Charlie’s Angles’ because we got into the habit of just sort of ad-libbing on camera and trying to make the other one laugh, or doing something unexpected.
“I remember once, where other actors and actresses fight for their close-ups, we fought to see how tightly together we could get our heads so we could do a tight three that would be as tight as a close-up. We just wanted to go home! We were so tired!
“There was one scene… Jackie (Jaclyn Smith) was sitting on one end of the couch, and I was sitting on the arm of the couch leaning over toward her, and Farrah was standing behind the couch, behind us, leaning forward so that all of our heads were real close together. It was 11 o’clock on a Friday night, and you know, we finally said to the director, ‘Now that’s a close up, isn’t it? It’s as close as you can get! Look, we’re all in there, and our heads aren’t even cut off.’ So she had some line and was supposed to walk out the door. She said the line and straightened up and started to walk out the door with that energy, you know, and as she walked out, she just sort of tapped me on the shoulder. She knew what was going to happen. I completely lost my balance and fell off the arm of the sofa. They kept rolling and I said, ‘I can’t believe you did that!’ She was walking out the door and looked back at me and laughed. It was actually in the show. I saw it in the show that week. They left it in! They left in a lot of the stuff we did. "

That's it for me tonight. This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Friday, June 26, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, Iraqi oil garners attention, the pull-out becomes a ring around the roses, the Defense Department announces a death, Barack talks Iraq (briefly), and more.

Violence continues this morning in Iraq.
Alissa J. Rubin and Campbell Robertson (New York Times) explain a Baghdad motorcycle suicide bombing which has claimed multiple lives. Nizar Latif (The National) reports the bomb was "packed with nails and ball-bearings, designed to make the blast even more deadly". CNN counts the dead to be 15 with another forty-six injured. Abdul Rahman Dhaher, Missy Ryan, Michael Christie, Tim Cocks, Sophie Hares and Bill Trott (Reuters) add, "Shredded shoes and bits of bloody clothing were scattered around the twisted frames of motorbikes. The blast site was swiftly sealed off by Iraqi soldiers and police."
The motorcyle bombing was the second in Baghdad this week. The first was
Wednesday's which resulted in at least 78 deaths. That wasn't a suicide bombing, however, the bomber was said to have fled the motorcyle (used to pull explosives hidden beneath produce) before it exploded. Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports the third took place Friday night in Baghdad and resulted in the death of 1 man and left three more injured. In other violence . . .

Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Mosul roadside bombing which claimed the life of 1 Iraqi soldier and wounded two more. Reuters notes Thursday included a Mosul car bombing which claimed the life of 1 Iraqi soldiers, a Baghdad overnight mortar attack which left four people injured and a Baghdad roaside bombing which injured two people.


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports Iraqi security forces in Mosul shot dead a suspected bomber. Reuters drops back to the Thursday to note: "Gunmen wearing military uniforms attacked a convoy carrying a senior criminal judge in Mosul on Thursday, wounding one of his bodyguards, police said. The judge was not hurt."

Today the
Defense Department announced a death (one MNF never reported): "Spc Casey L. Hills, 23 of Salem, Illinois died June 24 in Iraq of injuries sustained during a vehicle roll-over. He was assiagned to the 100th Battalion, 442nd Infantry Regiment, Pago Pago, American Samoa. The circumstnaces surrounding the incident are under investigation." The announcement brought the number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war to 4315.

Turning to the US, yesterday's
Free Speech Radio News featured a report on the latest Winter Soldier by Iraq Veterans Against the War. Click here for the segment.Manuel Rueda: At home Iraq Veterans Against the War, a grassroots organization of vets opposed to US wars, continues to organize Winter Soldier hearings across the country. It´s a venue where veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan can tell stories from their war days, in a venue where veterans can tell stories from their war days in an environment that's safe and supportive. Leo Paz reports from Los Angeles. Leo Paz: Ryan Endicott is a former Marine Corporal who did multiple tours in Iraq and returned to the US in 2006. He talked about what it's like for US marines to enforce martial law in a foreign country. Ryan Endicott: Young boys 18 to 22 are having martial law over a group of people. It's complete oppression and it actually borders on the line of terrorism. I mean you strap dead bodies to your Humvee and drive around a city with it, that's terrorism. That's scaring a group of people into your beliefs -- into your belief system and structure and that's exactly what we're doing, we're terrorizing them.Leo Paz: Corporal Endicott who was in Ar Ramadi Iraq says these were not isolated incidents but daily occurrences. Ryan Endicott: Every single day, every time you kick in a door and drag a man out of his bed in the middle of the night, that's terrorism. That's not -- we're not saving people that's not liberation. You don't liberate people by -- by kicking in their doors in and arresting people by mass numbers by shooting them that's not liberation, that's occupation. Leo Paz: Some of the soldiers recalled the harsh treatment of Iraqi civilians stopped at the numerous checkpoints installed by the US throughout the country. Former Marine Corporal Christopher Gallagher compared the checkpoints in Haditha and Falluja to herding cattle. Christopher Gallagher: If any Iraqis voiced their opinion for the way they were being treated the Iraqi police -- we had a checkpoint -- would handle the situation by harassing and assaulting them. Leo Paz: According to Gallagher when the US military went door to door in the middle of the night, raiding homes to eliminate any resistance to the occupation, Iraqis held massive protests. Gallagher described the typical US response to this protest. Christopher Gallagher: In 2004 the Iraqis would hold protests in the town of Haditha against the occupation typical response for this was to have fighter jets fly over the crowd and scare them away. Leo Paz: Corporal Endicott questioned the sanitized version of war portrayed in mainstream American media. Ryan Endicott: What should be on the media is the thousands of doors that are kicked in every day and the thousands of people that are terrorized by the US soldiers that are pumped up on adrenaline and just looking to kill people. I mean there's plenty of people that joined the military just to kill people. Leo Paz: Endicott is one of many vets who denounced the indiscriminate shooting of civilians by US military. Devon Read a former Marine infantry Sgt who took part in the invasion of Iraq in 2003 saw comrades anxious to fire at whatever came in their path. He told people at winter soldier about driving through Nazaria, speeding on the way to Baghdad, on the back of a Humvee and Marines in his unit shooting randomly at people in houses. Devon Read: You know, none of the grunts that wanted to shoot people really cared about that. If it was an opportunity to shoot someone, they'd be shooting. So there's two of us on my side of the vehicle and three guys on the other side of the vehicle and we're facing outboard and suddenly the guys on the other side of the vehicle start shooting and I'm curious what the heck they're shooting at but I can't really look because I'm paying attention to my side and the other guy that's with me decides to switch sides, switches over to the other side and starts shooting also. And I finally take a moment to look and I'm looking and they're all just shooting wildly. Leo Paz: Sgt. Reed was appalled by the random gunfire and wondered how many civilians had been shot by US troops that day. Devon Read: There's, you know, people in windows way off in the distance, who really knows? Plenty of civilians with their -- poking their heads out of the window but its just someone to shoot at and there's shooting going on so no one's going to ask any questions if they start pulling the trigger too. So everyone starts shooting randomly and I talk to everyone after and none of them had any idea what they were shooting at or why. Leo Paz: Many Vietnam war vets showed up to support the IVAW and the Iraq veterans in denouncing war and violence. Ed Garza an army gunner with the 173rd airborne Brigade still has nightmares forty years after the war. Ed Garza: I remember the dead bodies and I remember seeing them and I remember we used to kill the Vietnamese and we'd put our patch on them To remind the other Vietnamese in the area that uh that we were there, the 173rd airborne. So those are some of the things I remember. Leo Paz: According to a study conducted by Iraqi doctors, and published in a British medical journal, Iraqi dead are in the hundreds of thousands since the US invasion in 2003, Afghan civilians are estimated at more than 10,000 dead. Now into the 8th year of the war, more than 5,000 soldiers have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan according to the US military. Leo Paz, FSRN.

Staying with resistance to illegal wars,
Australia's The Guardian (The Worker's Weekly) carries an interview by Elsa Rassbach with war resister Andre Shepherd who is appealing for asylum in Germany after having served one tour of Iraq already.

Elsa Rassbach: Since the "war on terror" began, there have been many US soldiers who have spoken out and many who have refused to serve. But you are the first so far to apply for asylum in Germany. What are the grounds on which your application is based?

Andre Shepherd: Well, it's very simple: In the war of aggression against the Iraqi people, the United States violated not only domestic law, but international law as well. The US government has deceived not only the American public, but also the international community, the Iraqi community, as well as the military community. And the atrocities that have been committed there these past six years are great breaches of the Geneva Conventions. My applying for asylum is based on the grounds that international law has been broken and that I do not want to be forced to fight in an illegal war.

Elsa Rassbach: In your asylum application, you mention the Principles of the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg, which were incorporated in the UN Charter. In Nuremberg, the chief US prosecutor, Robert H Jackson, stated: "To initiate a war of aggression, therefore, is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole." In opening the trial on behalf of the United States, he stated that "while this law is first applied against German aggressors, this law includes and if it is to serve a useful purpose it must condemn aggression by any other nations, including those which sit here now in judgment." What does Nuremberg mean to you?

Andre Shepherd: The Nuremberg statutes are the foundation of many US soldiers' refusal of the Iraq war and to some extent of the Afghanistan war. The United States with its allies after World War II crafted these laws stating that even though you've gotten orders to commit crimes against humanity, you don't have to follow them, because every person has their own conscience. That was more than 60 years ago. Today the US government seems to be under the impression that those rules do not apply to it. In invading Iraq, they did not wait for a UN mandate, they didn't let the inspectors do their job, and they made up stories about who's a real threat. This is totally violated everything stated in the Nuremberg statutes. The US Constitution states that the US is bound to our international treaties, for example with the UN. When we ignore the UN, we are violating the US Constitution, which every US soldier is sworn to uphold. And the US must also respect our own very strict laws against war crimes and torture. Since the Obama administration refuses to investigate and prosecute the previous administration, it's clear to me that the Obama administration is an accomplice to the previous administration's crimes. They're setting a very dangerous precedent for the future of the world, something I don't want to see. The German people are well aware of the history; it is here that the Nuremberg tenets were first set down. Now we have to find a way to restore those tenets, to actually respect the Nuremberg tenets as well as the Geneva Conventions. Germany needs to tell the US, "Look, you guys helped create these laws, and now you guys should abide by your own rules."

On Iraq, the second hour of NPR's
The Diane Rehm Show featured Michael Hersh of Newsweek, Elise Labot of CNN and Warren Strobel of McClatchy Newspapers and Iraq was addressed early on.

Diane Rehm: Michael Hirsh, there have been bomb attacks all across the country in Iraq this week. What's going on?

Michael Hirsh: Well you have what remains of the insurgency trying to forment sectarian violence and war to get them back to -- very close to the civil war in Iraq they were at in 2006 as the US prepares for this dramatic withdrawal from Iraqi cities which is really effectively the end of George W. Bush's surge. The surge was all about putting American troops on the front-line in the cities. It worked along with other aspects of change policy. So this is a -- this is a very, very critical moment, perhaps the most critical moment since the beginning of the insurgency in Iraq War.

Diane Rehm: But why this week is it an attempt to get the US to change it's mind? is it a protest, what is it, Warren?

Warren Strobel: I think it's an attempt to portray the US withdrawal as a retreat by the insurgents. We saw similar stuff happen in Gaza a few years ago when the Israelis withdrew and Hamas was trying to do this, so that's -- that's part of it. I totally agree with Michael. I think this at least the most critical moment in Iraq since the surge began -- if not since the insurgency began. I mean this is a really, really critical point and uh it's -- we're going to see whether the Iraqi security forces all the money and training we've thrown into them can handle this.

Diane Rehm: That's a huge question, Elise.

Elise Labott: And it's not just the American troops that are leaving. They're taking with them this whole infrastructure of support and logistics and intelligence that the Iraqis have come to rely on. I mean you have intelligence satellites, cameras, bomb-sniffing dogs, medical evacuations. All of these things that the Iraqis have kind of come to rely on that they're not going to have anymore. And I think on Warren and Michael's point, it's not just about trying to portray it as a retreat, I think it's also trying to show, um, that the Iraqi government of Nouri al-Maliki is not suit -- able to handle this. And I think what we need to see right now is whether you're going to start to see the development of militias that we saw in 2005 when there was a lack of confidence in the government to be able to protect the people.

Michael Hirsh: There will continue to be a quiet presence of the US special forces and intelligence

Diane Rehm: Yes --

Michael Hirsh: In addition --

Diane Rehm: -- in what numbers?

Michael Hirsh: We don't know. As well as uh obviously surveillance from the skies And let's not forget either that uh, you know, Maliki has an air force, the US air force which is actually both his artillery and his air force and proved to be very effective when he first began cracking down on the militias as he did in Basra. So it's not a total withdrawal nor will it be, I believe, even when we supposedly fully pull out at the end of 2011. But it is a real, real test for Maliki's leadership and, as Warren said, the training of the Iraqi forces.

Diane Rehm: So what is the mood of the Iraqi people as the US prepares to withdraw, Elise?

Elise Labott: Well I think they're kind of ambivalent about it. On one hand they're ready to see the Americans go. I mean this is the last true symbolism of their sovereignty but at the same time, the reports that we hear from Iraq is that a lot of Iraqis aren't really looking for the United States to leave, they're worried as to whether the government can handle this and I think it is, it's going to be looking to the government to pick up the slack. They're not sure if Nouri al-Maliki is able to do it.

Warren Strobel: Well I think they wanted us to leave [laughing] until we actually started to leave. And now some at least Some people are having second thoughts.

Elise Labott: You don't know what you've got till it's gone.

Warren Strobel: Exactly. And there was this guy quoted in the paper from Sadr City, a huge Shi'ite neighborhood in Baghdad, expressing great concern about the pull-out of a specific, I guess it was a US security station maybe it was a joint-security station there, about what would happen next. I mean I agree with Michael that we're still going to have a lot of US assets there but the American ability to influence the situation has been steadily declining and it's going to decline a lot more in the coming months.

Elise Labott: I think you also started to see the US and the Iraqis working to implement of the US withdrawing from the cities but maybe trying to fudge the lines of what the city constitutes so that some forces could stay but at the same time technically they're outside of the cities. And the US acknowledges that it's very difficult because it's time for the Iraqis to stand up on their own. The longer the Americans are there, the Iraqis are going to become dependent on them they need to be seen as leaving for the Iraqis to step up.

Diane Rehm: What about rebuilding those cities? To what extent might that begin to take place? And do the Iraqis themselves have to go about doing that? Where do they get money, Michael?

Michael Hirsh: Well I mean obviously the oil, their oil industry is back on line to some degree. Accompanying this development of US withdrawal you finally have serious interest by US oil companies and wri-- agree to contracts that they have been unwilling to do up until now because of the violence. So they'll be getting additional revenues from that but this is -- this is also a very good test for Maliki. One is security, the other is rebuilding. You still have long periods of blackouts in Baghdad. You know, six years or more into this, you have very, very poor infrastructure and a lot of unhappiness among the Iraqis.

Diane Rehm: Michael Hersh of Newsweek, Elise Labot of CNN, Warren Strobel of McClatchy.

As for the pull-out from Iraqi cities,
Jane Arraf (Christian Science Monitor) reveals, that instead of being in the cities, US forces will "encircle them," "put in place in the belts around those cities and in areas that are potential flashpoints of Kurdish-Arab tension. . . . The plan keeps US advisers within the cities, and in Mosul redeploys battalions that had been within the city to the surrounding areas." Ernesto Londono (Washington Post) reports that while "[t]housands of U.S. combat troops will remain at a handful of bases in Baghdad and on the outskirts of other restive cities, such as Mosul and Kirkuk, in nothern Iraq, past the June 30 deadline" and that this has US military officials worried that US service members as well as Iraqis will be put at risk in the new holding pattern Barack's created. Stop the holding pattern, just bring the troops home.

At the White House today, President Barack Obama met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and he spoke about Iraq when NPR's Don Gonyea asked about Iraq's "upsurge in violence; a lot of bombings, a lot of deaths, does that give you any second thoughts on the coming deadline to pull the combat troops from the cities?"

Barack Obama: On Iraq, obviously any time there's a bombing in Iraq we are concerned. Any time there's loss of innocent life or the loss of military personnel, we grieve for their families and it makes us pay attention. I will tell you if you look at the overall trend, despite some of these high-profile bombings, Iraq's security situation has continued to dramatically improve. And when I speak to General [Ray] Odierno and Chris Hill, our ambassador in Iraq, they continue to be overall very positive about the trend lines in Iraq. I think there's still some work to do. I think the Maliki government is not only going to have to continue to strengthen its security forces, but it's also going to have to engage in the kind of political give and take leading up the national elections that we've been talking about for quite some time. And I haven't seen as much political progress in Iraq, negotiations between the Sunni, the Shia, and the Kurds, as I would like to see.
So there are always going to be -- let me not say "always" -- there will continue to be incidents of violence inside of Iraq for some time. They are at a much, much lower level than they were in the past. I think the biggest challenge right now is going to be less those attacks by remnants of al Qaeda in Iraq or other insurgent groups, and the bigger challenge is going to be, can the Shia, the Sunni, and the Kurds resolve some of these major political issues having to do with federalism, having to do with boundaries, having to do with how oil revenues are shared. If those issues get resolved, then I think you will see a further normalization of the security atmosphere inside of Iraq.

Later at the White House, spokesmodel Robert Gibbs was asked to clarify Barack's statement ("express some of the things the president is hoping for and what is he intending to do about that?") and he responded, "Well -- I mean -- Obviously, he's met continually with Ambassador Hill. Obviously, the stops -- or the meetings -- that we made during the stop in Baghdad on the -- I guess that was in late March, early April -- Obviously, without getting specific, there continues to be progress in terms of political reconciliation in terms of oil and hydrocarbons that, as move throughout a year -- a very important year -- of elections in Iraq, again, proving that it will take the steps necessary to govern its country." Interesting and telling that Gibbs would go straight to the theft-of-Iraqi-oil law.

Staying with oil, when
you're caught serving up US government propaganda at the start of the week, you'd think you'd keep your head low for the rest of the week. Not only do your talking points end up on the US government propaganda outlet Voice of America (and all its spin-offs with "Radio Free . . ." in the title), but you're rah-rah Nouri talking point is slapped down by Anthony Shadid (Washington Post) and public events slap down your 'Western companies aren't going to do oil business in Iraq!'. But apparently you woke up yesterday begging for a beating which is why Timothy Williams offers up "Warily Moving Ahead on Oil Contracts" in this morning's New York Times. In the real world, AP offers a list of the Big Oil countries rushing in to bid on Iraqi oil and we'll note their first eight countries on the list:UNITED STATES: Chevron, ConocoPhilips, Exxon Mobil, Hess Corp., Marathon International Petroleum Ltd., and Occidental Petroleum Corp. United Kingdom: BP Group PLC. Japan: Inpex Holdings Inc., Japex and Nippon Oil Corp. Australia: BHP Billiton Ltd. and Woodside Petroleum Ltd. China: China's CNOOC Ltd., CNPC International Ltd., Sinochem International Co. Ltd., and Sinopec Shanghai Petrochemical co. Ltd. Italy: Edison International SPA and Eni. Russia: JSC Lukoil and JSC Gazprom Neft. France: Total SA. Anthony DiPaola (Bloomberg News) explains that Exxon and Shell are foaming at the bit and they are only 8 "of the world's top 10 non-state oil producers" who are rushing to cash in on Iraq oil. Sinan Salaheddin's "Big Oil poised for return to Iraq" (AP) explains the basics. While Timothy Williams played the violins for Big Oil on Monday and begged for a greater theft of Iraqi oil, Ahmed M. Jiyad (UPI) details what the contracts actually allow and concludes, "Considering the above and their possible implications it seems these model related to the first bidding round do not and could not deliver the best interest for the Iraqi people, and probably this explains the growing opposition to them." Reuters explains, "Here are some facts about Iraq's oil industry" in this report which points out: "Iraq's oil has been coveted by foreign powers for decades." Also of interest, Christopher Helman's "Cashing In On Iraqi Oil" (Forbes). Earlier this month, IVAW's Aaron Hughes reported on his trip to Erbil for the International Labor Conference in Iraq at US Labor Against War at which a resolution was passed "against the draft oil and gas law" :The conference was set up to bring together the major labor constituencies from across Iraq to form a confederation based on worker rights. At the end of our second day, the eve of the conference, workers from fifteen of Iraq's eighteen provinces began to arrive. There were representatives from Iraq's oil and gas industry, its port union, the electrical generation and distribution industry, construction, public sector, transportation, communications, education, rail roads, service and health care industries, machinists and metal working sector, the petro-chemical industry, civil engineers, writers and journalists, food oil workers, tailors and students.The historical nature of the conference was clear. This opportunity for the international community and the workers across Iraq to show solidarity was long overdue. After the United States invaded Iraq and set up the provisional government, a new constitution was drafted that included worker rights. However, at the same time, Paul Bremer, head of the Coalition Provisional Authority, retained Saddam Hussein's labor laws.
[. . .]
Leading by exmaple is the Iraq Federation of Oil Unions (IFOU) lead by its president Hassan Juma'a Awad, which exploded in size over the past four years to over 25,000 members. It is the strongest and most powerful union in Iraq and is also extremely militant in regards to workers rights. For example, the union has protested, gone on strike, and used direct non-violent tactics to force the British occupation forces to stand down and furthermore drove the US contractor KBR from the oil fields near Basra.

In their 2008 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices (from February 25, 2009), the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor notes:"The constitution provides the right to form and join unions and professional associations, subject to regulating law. Labor Law 150 of 1987, enacted by the Saddam government, ...declared virtually all public sector workers to be government 'executives,' and therefore legally ineligible to form or to join unions, a move that, in effect, eliminated unions and the right of association from the public sector. In the private sector, the extant 1987 Trade Union Organization Law ...was also intended, in practice, to remove the right of association from a majority of private sector workers, because most private sector businesses employ fewer than 50 workers. Decree 8750 of 2005, which cancelled unions' leadership boards, froze their assets, and formed an inter-ministerial committee to administer unions' assets and assess their capacity to resume activity, also inhibited union activity. The laws and decree do not prohibit anti-union discrimination by employers or others. In addition to this oppressive legal and regulatory framework, violence and insecurity, high unemployment, and maladapted labor organizational structures inhibited the exercise of labor rights."Throughout the conference, in moments here and there, over sips of tea, in the hallway between talks, over a meal of lamb and rice, or in the marble floored lobby I had the opportunity to speak with the different labor leaders. Their stories were hopeful and humble. They were filled with courageous acts of resistance against the many odds stacked against them. Their government does not legally recognize unions and organizing in the public sector (seventy percent of the economy) is illegal. Union assets are frozen and confiscated. The US military has raided union leaders' homes and occupied factories and plants. The local militias target union leaders and female workers. Despite these odds, the unions are organizing, growing and winning.

Last week,
Andy Rowell (Oil Change) noted the Independent's report on the "public fury" in Iraq as "the country is handing over control of its fields to foreign companies." And you can also refer to an article by Gina Chon (Wall St. Journal). Rowell also notes a cartoon by Peter Brookes (Times of London) about the Iraq inquiry in England and concludes, "Whether the inquiry is in secret or public, one thing is certain an inquiry is unlikely to tell us whether Iraq was ever about oil." The Great Britain's Socialist Worker observes, "The row over the transparency, or otherwise, of the inquiry into the war on Iraq has exposed the continuing influence of Tony Blair on the Labour Party -- and the weakness of Gordon Brown. Blair put pressure on Brown to ensure that the inquiry into the war would be held in private." They conclude that testimony and evidence should be submitted by peace activists and they should "hold protests at MPs' surgeries to demand that the warmongers are brought to justice."

Not interested in the oil and despite foreign forces and foreign media leaving the country, Sister Maria Hanna has no intention of leaving.
She explains to Carmen Blanco (Catholic Spirit), "I am committed to staying in Iraq for those who remain: the poor, the vulnerable, the widows and their chilren." Blanco adds, "Sister Hanna, a member of the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena in Mosul, Iraq, visited Washington in June to talk about her work and to give Catholic agencies and organizations an update on current conditions in the country. She has set goals to build schools and hospitals for those remaining in Iraq and to give hope to all Iraqis."

TV notes. Coming up on
NOW on PBS:American streets are littered with foreclosed houses, but one daring advocate says these homes shouldn't go to waste. He encourages and facilitates homeless squatting. It's an idea that addresses two issues at once - homelessness and foreclosed homes -- and it's also illegal.This week, NOW travels to Miami to meet with Max Rameau, an advocate for the homeless. Rameau's organization, Take Back the Land, identifies empty homes that are still livable, and tries to find responsible families willing to take the enormous legal risks of moving in.Rameau, who considers his mission an act of civil disobedience, says it's immoral to keep homes vacant while there are human beings living on the street. But while these squatters have morality in their hearts, they don't have the law on their side.With the faltering economy separating so many people from their homes, what's society's responsibility to those short on shelter?That and other PBS programming noted begin airing on many PBS stations tonight, check local listings. Only on PBS can you get crap like Gwen gas bagging with three men and one woman in 2009 and have that junk be considered 'appropriate' and 'diverse'. On Washington Week, Gloria Borger (US News & World Reports, CNN) is the lone woman. Pete Williams (NBC), David Sanger (NYT) and John Dickerson (Slate, CBS News) are the men. To actually see women address the week's issues, join Bonnie Erbe who sits down with Sam Bennett, Victoria Lipnic, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Tara Setmayer and Genevieve Wood on PBS' To The Contrary. Check local listings. And turning to broadcast TV, Sunday CBS' 60 Minutes offers:
The Cheaters 60 Mintes and The Washington Post reveal how online poker players suspecting cheating were forced to successfully ferret out the cheaters themselves. That's because managers of the mostly-unregulated $18 billion Internet gambling industry failed to respond to their complaints. Steve Kroft and The Washington Post's Gilbert Gaul report. Watch Video
Mind Reading Neuroscience has learned so much about how we think and the brain activity linked to certain thoughts that it is now possible - on a very basic scale - to read a person's mind. Lesley Stahl reports. Watch Video
Gorongosa American Greg Carr is using his great wealth to try to help some of the poorest people in Africa by attracting more tourists to their neighborhood - the beautiful national park of Gorongosa in Mozambique. Scott Pelley reports. Watch Video
60 Minutes, Sunday, June 28, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

On this week's White House plant in the press conference,
please check out this video from Newsy. The Hurt Locker opens in Los Angeles and New York today and opens July 10th in San Francisco, Dallas, Chicago, Atlanta, Austin, Oahu, Portland, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, San Diego, Minneapolis, Denver, Toronto and DC. Kenneth Turan gives it a rave review in "The Hurt Locker" (Los Angeles Times):

"The Hurt Locker" has the killer impact of the explosive devices that are the heart of its plot: It simply blows you apart and doesn't bother putting you back together again. Overwhelmingly tense, overflowing with crackling verisimilitude, it's both the film about the war in Iraq that we've been waiting for and the kind of unqualified triumph that's been long expected from director Kathryn Bigelow.

free speech radio newsleo paziraq veterans against the wardevon readchristopher gallagherryan endicott
the washington postanthony shadid
jane arraf
ernesto londono
us labor against the war
aaron hughes
gina chonthe wall street journal
ahmed m. jiyadanthony dipaolacarmen blanco
60 minutescbs newsto the contrarybonnie erbenow on pbsnprthe diane rehm showpbs
the los angeles timeskenneth turankathryn bigelow