Friday, May 29, 2009

The US military announces another death

Today the US military announced: "CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE SPEICHER, TIKRIT, Iraq -- A Coalition forces Soldier died after a grenade detonated near a patrol in Ninewa province, May 29. The name of the deceased is being withheld pending notification of next of kin and release by the Department of Defense. The names of service members are announced through the U.S. Department of Defense official website at The announcements are made on the website no earlier than 24 hours after notification of the service member’s primary next of kin." The announcement brings to 4304 the number of US service members killed in the Iraq War and the number killed in this month so far to 22.

In other violence reported this morning, Reuters notes a Khalis minibus bombing which has claimed 6 lives, a Khalis car bombing which has claimed 1 life and left three people injured, a Mosul grenade attack which injured one person, the Baquba bombing (noted last entry) that killed a Sahwa leader (Khazal al-Sammaraie) and left two people injured and, dropping back to yesterday, 1 corpse discovered in Telkeif.

As the violence is on an upswing, John E. Mulligan (Providence Journal) reports:

"There remain difficulties, and they could provoke violence that might require U.S. intervention" in Mosul, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse said in a telephone interview. "It's not likely at this point, but it’s not something that can be ruled out."
Speaking in a separate interview after his own congressional visit to Baghdad, Rep. James R. Langevin said, "I wouldn't preclude that it might be necessary" to extend the deployment of combat troops in Mosul, "given the al-Qaida presence that is still strong" in Iraq’s second-largest city.
Sen. Jack Reed, who has visited Iraq more than a dozen times since the U.S. invasion in 2003 and is well acquainted with U.S. military leaders, said in Washington that "it's unclear" whether Iraqi officials will seek an extension of the deadline for removing American troops from Mosul.

In this morning's New York Times, Timothy Williams and Suadad al-Salhy's "Allotting of Iraqi Oil Rights May Stoke Hostility" is a must read that raises more questions than he or the paper can answer -- mainly because the occupiers have failed. Kirkuk was supposed to have been put to a referendum. That has not taken place. Despite the referendum being written into the country's Constitution. Now the central government in Baghdad is on the verge of selling off drilling and exploration rights to a region that they may not, in fact, have a right to sell off. The oil-rich Kirkuk is disputed territory. The Kurdish region says Kirkuk belongs to them, the central government says it doesn't. This is not a new issue. It is an issue that has not been resolved. And resolving after monies have been made and contracts signed isn't democracy, isn't freedom, but it may well turn out to be colonialism. Kirkuk was not only an issue in the Constitution, resolving the issue was a White House benchmark.

Naomi Klein's BFF Moqtada al-Sadr is back in the news today. AFP reports al-Sadr has issued orders that the LGBT community in Iraq be "eradicated" for "depravity" according to his spokesmodel Sheikh Wadea al-Atabi. He wants to 'teach' the end of gay. Big words for a man wearing the equivalent of a mumu in public. A forever increasingly larger mumu. You know, al-Sadr, they say food obsession in some males is due to latent homosexuality. Maybe al-Sadr should be eradicated? Jessica Green (UK's Pink News) covers the story. Needless to say, Amy Goodman has no time for it today although she does book professional liar Jeff Biggers to tell the world Barry O very good for the environment. And Ken Salazar too! Poor Liar Biggers, Jeffrey St. Clair and Joshua Frank (Dissident Voice) already reported reality this week. But if Amy covered the assault on Iraq's LGBT community, we wouldn't get the dramatic readings of Jeffy. Not since Kate Mulgrew attempted to play Katharine Hepburn has anyone over delivered every syllable with such relish and gusto. I'm the grandson of a coal miner, insists Jeffy Biggers, sounding like Derek Zoolander. Hint, if you're going to present yourself as speaking for Appalachians, learn how to pronounce "Appalachians." It's not a minor point. But listen and wonder if Jeffy Biggers mistook his Democracy Now! appearance for an audition as Niles and Fraiser Crane's more persnickety cousin on Fraiser.

In the US, Jessie L. Bonner (AP) reports on Lt Col Victor Fehrenbach's hope that Barack will follow through on his promise to end Don't Ask, Don't Tell and do so before Bonner's military career is ended: "The winner of nine air medals for distinguished service in flight, including one for heroism the night U.S. forces captured Baghdad International Airport in 2003, Fehrenbach is in the process of getting kicked out of the military a year after an acquaintance told his bosses he was gay." As racist Robert Gibbs has made clear in White House press briefings, ending Don't Ask, Don't Tell is not a pressing issue for Barack Obama. Earlier this month, Servicemembers Legal Defense Network issued the following:

May 19, 2009

CONTACT: Kevin Nix, Communications Director
(202) 621-5402 - office; (202) 251-5553 - cell

Active-Duty Combat Aviator Booted from Military
Soon to Lose Career and Millions in Retirement under "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"

WASHINGTON, DC - The Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) has learned that Lt. Col. Victor Fehrenbach was recently notified he will be separated from the US Air Force under "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."

Fehrenbach served in Afghanistan and Iraq. He flew the longest combat sorties in his squadron's history, destroying Taliban and Al Qaeda targets in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. And after the Sept. 11 attacks, Fehrenbach was hand-picked to protect the airspace over Washington, D.C.

"What an utter waste of talent," said Aubrey Sarvis, SLDN Executive Director. "The Colonel has a sterling combat record, does a fantastic job for his country every day and has all the medals and job performance evaluations to prove it. He did not disrupt unit cohesion or good order. But the bottom line is he's gay, so he's out."

Some are urging President Obama to issue an executive order under his national security umbrella to put a moratorium on DADT.

"If SLDN thought that would work on all fronts, for all service members, we would be all for it. We need a real, lasting fix for our service members. Congress owns DADT and only they can repeal it," Sarvis said. "What we need is Congress and this new President to engage each other immediately and with a sense of urgency to stop this madness."

SLDN has developed a discharge ticker that tracks how many service members have been fired under DADT since President Obama and Congress were sworn in earlier this year.

Lieutenant Colonel Fehrenbach's awards include the Meritorious Service Medal, nine Air Medals (including one for Heroism), the Aerial Achievement Medal, five Air Force Commendation Medals and the Navy Commendation Medal.

Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) is a national, non-profit legal services, watchdog and policy organization dedicated to ending "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."

Click here to read the original article.

TV notes. NOW on PBS begins airing tonight on most PBS stations (check local listings):

What will jobs of the future look like? Many studying that question are seeing green - green jobs. And with President Obama promising to create 5 million "green-collar" jobs over the next 10 years, some are predicting that new career paths in energy efficiency and clean power will transform the American economy.
This week, NOW on PBS talks with environmental activist Van Jones, founder of "Green for All," an environmental group dedicated to bringing green jobs to the disadvantaged.
In March, Jones was appointed as special advisor for Green Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation at the White House Council on Environmental Quality. Now that he has the President's ear, will Jones be creating a new career frontier for America?

This week on Washington Week, there are not three male guests and only one female guest . . . due to the fact that Gwen's reduced the number of guests from four to three. So there are two men and one woman: Peter Baker (NYT), Joan Biskupic (USA Today) and James Kitfield (National Journal). Bonnie Erbe sits down with stress eating Kim Gandy, Elenor Holmes Norton, Tara Setmayer and Leah Durant. This is Gandy and Holmes Norton's first joint-appearance since the two declared war on all pregnant women who are not married -- including same-sex couples not allowed to marry. It should be interesting to see what the 'film critics' have to offer. Expect Kim Gandy to look like a truck. It's been a very stressful week for her, nibble, nibble. The four discuss the week's news with Bonnie on PBS' To The Contrary. Check local listings. And turning to broadcast TV, Sunday CBS' 60 Minutes offers:

Your Bank Has Failed
Scott Pelley has an exclusive look as the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation takes control of a failed bank. | Watch Video
War In Pakistan
Steve Kroft reports from Pakistan, where Islamic insurgents are trying to take over the country and he interviews its new president, Asif Ali Zardari. | Watch Video
Michael Phelps
He swam into history at the Beijing Olympics and now the 23-year-old phenom tells CNN's Anderson Cooper what his life is like as hundreds of endorsement opportunities roll in to make this U.S. Olympic superstar a marketing millionaire. | Watch Video
60 Minutes, Sunday, May 31, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

On NPR today, The Diane Rehm Show features three female guests and three male ones. Congratulations to Diane (seriously) for proving equality is possible on air. The first hour (domestic) will be Bug Chaser Babes editor Andrew Sullivan (formerly of Bareback Rider Weekly), Ceci Connolly (Washington Post) and Jake Tapper (ABC News). The second hour (international) will be Karen DeYoung (Washington Post), Elise Labott (CNN) and Thom Shanker (New York Times). The Diane Rehm Show begins streaming live at 10:00 a.m. EST (also when most NPR stations being broadcasting it, check local stations). Within 15 minutes of the end of the show (second hour), it is usually available online as an archived broadcast for streaming (at no charge).

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