Friday, July 24, 2009

US military announces another death

Today the US military announced: "BAGHDAD – A Multi-National Division–Baghdad Soldier died, July 24, of non-combat related injuries in eastern Baghdad. 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 . 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 4328 the number of US service members killed in the Iraq War.

That number is not a complete count. Trejo Rivas just passed away and he was a veteran of the Afghanistan War and the Iraq War. It was in Iraq that a mortart attack October 12, 2006. As Sig Christenson (San Antonio-Express) explained Tuesday, "Retired Army Reserve Lt. Col. Raymond Trejo Rivas died Wednesday in San Antonio after battling to recover from head injuries suffered nearly three years ago. He was 53."

Nada Bakri (Washington Post) reports on continued negotiations the US is having with former Ba'athists and other groups currently excluded from political life in Iraq. Bakri reports "two meetings this spring" held in Turkey:

U.S. officials declined to provide details of the meetings, which they said took place in March and April. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said Thursday that military and diplomatic officials "meet with a wide range of Iraqi contacts with the purpose of promoting reconciliation and fostering national unity" and that "the meetings in question occurred some months ago and with the knowledge of officials within the Iraqi government."

Sam Dagher (New York Times) adds that the central government in Baghdad states it is "demanding explanations" on the meeting and declares the meetings (known for weeks before they took place and covered in Arab media though the New York Times seems unaware of that fact) were "an interference in Iraq's internal political affairs". Dagher notes an Aljazeera interview aired on July 15th where Ali al-Juboouri (Political Council of the Iraqi Resistance) "revealed that his council, which represents Sunni insurgent groups, met in March with representatives of the American government in Istanbul. He said a protocol was signed then to govern future negotiations between the two sides. He said that a second meeting took place in May" but ended over differences including that the US agree to compensation and a public apology for the illegal war.

Early voting has begun but regular voting takes place Saturday in the KRG which is holding provincial elections as well as electing a president. The northern region of Iraq did not participate in the January 31st provincial elections -- it was three of the four provinces not participating. Liz Sly (Los Angeles Times) covers the attempts of one party to take Barry O's empty brand and use it in the KRG:

At night, the streets of Sulaymaniya, Kurdistan's second city, come alive with the honking of horns as cars and motorcycles trailing Change's blue flag, emblazoned with a candle, hurtle through the streets. In the city center, people gather and light candles on the sidewalks.
Though Change's leaders deny any conscious similarity to President Obama's campaign, it is evident in the slate movement's official campaign slogan: "Yes, We Can Change It."
"We must have change because the Kurdish people have suffered from corruption for the last 18 years," said Kamal Abdullah, 34, a private contractor who says he is out of work because he cannot afford to pay the bribes needed to obtain business.
"This government took all the money and sent it outside to Swiss bank accounts, and they give all the jobs to their own children," he said.

Change, as with Barry O, goes undefined. That's what's so great about the slogan: Vapid people don't think past, "Yeah, change!" Change to what? That's too much thought.

Which is our transition to Timothy Williams (New York Times). Williams reports that the Turkmen in Kirkuk Province are threatening to boycott a census currently scheduled for October. That'll teach 'em, seems to be the concept. The census, which was Constitutionally mandated to have been conducted in 2007, will survey the contested region. Turkmen are claiming Kurds are beefing up their population with transplants. They are. They have been doing it for years. If you don't like it, you probably should have demanded a census long ago. The shipping in of Kurds? That was a concern in 2006. It's too late to whine about something long on reported on.

Williams isn't much on thought this morning so he can't provide an obvious comparison/contrast. In 2005, some groups (largely Sunni) felt they would be shut out of the electoral process. A decision was made to boycott the elections. Some stood by that decision after the elections, some felt it was a mistake. In the January 31st elections this year, the real story was that the ones who had boycotted last time turned out in large numbers (while the drop off came from the Shi'ites who had participated in 2005). Now an election (or all elections) you might or might not want to boycott. You can certainly say, "Don't blame me, I didn't vote." But this isn't an election. This is a census.

And if you feel you are already going to be under-represented because of an influx of Kurds, then your decision not to participate in the census makes little sense. Unless you're attempting to stop the census, which may be the point.

But the census needs to take place, it's years late as it is.

And reducing your official numbers in the census to zero isn't going to help you.

If you decide not to participate in a census, that doesn't make it questionable. You have made a decision not to participate. You've made that decision. You weren't blocked from participating, you weren't prevented. You took yourself out. So there's really nothing you have to complain about. I can understand boycotting a vote. This isn't a vote. This is a census. And groups who threaten to boycott should be informed that they're hurting their own interests and that the census will take place with or without them.

TV notes. This week on NOW on PBS:

The Obama Administration recently released its proposal for financial regulatory reform, but before change comes to Wall Street, a reform plan has to get through Congress with its teeth intact.
This week, David Brancaccio sits with Zanny Minton Beddoes, economics editor for The Economist magazine, to review the proposal and its ramifications for America. Beddoes encourages streamlining the regulatory system, leaving fewer but more efficient overseers. But where powerful interests are at stake, nothing is a sure bet.
"There is some good stuff in [the reform plan]. But it's a relatively modest rearranging of the financial supervisory structure ... I think it's more interior design than a whole new foundation."

On Bill Moyers Journal, health care is addressed with CJR's Trudy Lieberman (who has a strong article in the current CJR) and by Marcia Angell. My goodness, Bill found two women. Mark the calendars! As noted in Third's "Editorial: Taking sexism seriously," "In the first six months of this year Washington Week had 33 female guests and twice that number (66) of male guests while Bill Moyers featured 43 men and only 13 women." And, for the record, I'm only noting that segment. In another Bill floats his attacks on free speech. Free speech is something you support or you don't. Believing in it doesn't mean you can't decry statements, that you can't call them out, that you can't say they're offensive or that they crossed a line. But it does mean that you support free speech and grasp the difference between words and action and grasp that the Constitution supports free speech for an important reason.

Now did we just note Washington Week? Usually four guests a week sit down with Gwen but as of the last week of June, she'd spent the year with 66 men and only 33 women on her program? How does it happen? By weeks like this one where she sits down with three men and one woman: New York Times' Peter Baker, Washington Post's Michael Fletcher, National Journal's Marilyn Werber Serafini and Wall St. Journal's David Wessel. Now how do you book that show and not notice that you have three men and only one woman? You know it. You know it and you do it on purpose. You don't accidentally end up with twice as many men as women. PBS' Editorial Standards & Policies states: "The goal of diversity also requires continuing efforts to assure that PBS content fully reflects the pluralism of our society, including, for example, appropriate representation of women and minorities. The diversity of public television producers and funders helps to assure that content distributed by PBS is not dominated by any single point of view." Repeating, "Appropriate representation of women and minorities." Why have a policy if PBS doesn't ensure that their programs follow it? There's no excuse for Bill or Gwen to get away with the crap that they continue to get away with. They are in direct violation of PBS' own Standards & Policies and they need to get their shows in order and PBS needs to provide the supervision to ensure that they do.

Bonnie Erbe sits down with Eleanor Holmes Norton, Melinda Henneberger, Kathleen Parker and Tara Setmayer on PBS' To The Contrary. Check local listings, all four PBS shows begin airing tonight on many PBS stations. And turning to broadcast TV, Sunday CBS' 60 Minutes offers:

  • Coming Up On 60 Minutes

    Gun Rush
    Americans are snapping up guns and ammunition at an increasingly higher rate despite the economic downturn. But as Lesley Stahl reports, the economic downturn, as well as the election of Barack Obama, may be the reason for the run on guns. | Watch Video

    The African lion, already down as much as 85 percent in numbers from just 20 years ago, is now in danger of becoming extinct because people are poisoning them with a cheap American pesticide to protect their cattle herds. Bob Simon reports. | Watch Video

    Steve Wynn
    The casino mogul most responsible for taking Las Vegas to new heights of gaming and glitter talks to Charlie Rose about his spectacular success and the eye disease that's slowly robbing him of his ability to see the fruits of his labor. | Watch Video

    60 Minutes Sunday, July 26, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

If you're rubbing your eyes, that was the lineup for last Sunday, however, they used the first hour of prime time to air a tribute to CBS Evening News' former anchor and managing editor Walter Cronkite who passed away last Friday at the age of 92.

Diane Rehm is on vacation but The Diane Rehm Show continues with new broadcasts. Steve Roberts fills in for Diane this morning. The first hour is devoted to domestic news and the panelists scheduled are The Economist's Greg Ip, Wall St. Journal's Laura Meckler and NPR's David Welna. The second hour is the international hour and the scheduled panelists are The Financial Times' Daniel Dombey, Washington Post's David Hoffman and CNN's Elise Labott. The Diane Rehm Show begins airing on most NPR stations at 10:00 a.m. EST (and streaming online).

We'll close with this from Debra Sweet's "A Proposal for Actions Against (Obama’s) War and Torture" (World Can't Wait):

We've put out a proposal for actions in early October, including Monday October 5 in Washington DC for actions at the White House & Congress, and a national day of resisting the recruiters in high schools Tuesday, October 6.

After networking and consulting with other organizations and leaders, the World Can't Wait Steering Committee will meet on August 1 to finalize fall plans. We want your input. Please take the survey
here by July 31. Or write me about the questions below...or what is on your mind.

1. Do you feel the controversy over the Obama administration not prosecuting anyone involved in torture has changed the political climate in this country? If so, how so? If not, why not?

2. What do you think of Obama's expansion of the war in Afghanistan? Why? Do others you know agree or disagree? How much has that war been successfully re-branded as the "good war"?
3. In the past few months has your opinion of Obama changed? Favorably or unfavorably? Why? How about people you know?
4. After reading the October 5/6th proposal what do you think is possible for these days of resistance? What do you think is necessary? What is your vision of protest for those days?

Your input is needed! Please complete
this survey by July 31 to feed into our discussions on August 1. To make all this possible, send along a donation, or become a sustainer 4RealChange.

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