Wednesday, January 26, 2011. Chaos and violence continue, Nouri ignores the plight of Iraqi widows, Nouri looks the other way as illegal marriages involving one man and multiple wives take place, more bad news for Tony Blair out of the Iraq Inquiry, and more.
We'll get to Iraq in a moment but we'll start with community. Last night, Marcia's "Dandelion Salad pushes abortion lies" and Rebecca's "dandelion salad pimps abortion lies and islamophobia" went up. They are correct. There will be no correction from them. Dandelion Salad wants Marcia to issue a correction. She's not going to. Dandelion Salad wants Marcia to post a comment at Dandelion Salad. That won't happen either. Martha's passed on that Vanessa e-mailed and is outraged that a comment she left at Dandelion Salad calling out that post was edited by Dandelion Salad so that anyone reading her comment cannot follow what she's saying. There will be no correction from Marcia, from Rebecca and certainly not from me. At the backup site -- where Rebecca, Cedric and myself cross-post -- Rocket has attempted to leave comments. Sorry, Rocket. We don't do comments. But I'll give you one here: "I knew Anais Nin, you didn't and you can shut your damn mouth about her." (Rebecca also knew Anais and so did Elaine.) I love that a man who never knew Anais Nin wants to lecture me about her. I love that. That's the thing about certain men, not having any facts at all has never prevented then from rushing to weigh in.
Marcia and Rebecca both plan to address the topic tonight. I checked with them to make sure their points didn't include what I wanted to call out. The man who wrote the offensive article? Rocket? He's even more offensive in his comments, specifically his January 25th 4:03 pm comment:
i agree. that is why woman needs to look at these daring role models of old. not look to these career uppity woman that snuff their own children out to get ahead in life.
That comment by that man Rocket reeks of sexism. Do not type that -- as Rocket did -- and then claim you're not a right-winger. You are a right winger. You may not know it, but when you write tropes like that, you are a right winger and you're a sexist pig so why don't you oink-oink-oink all the way home? I'm really getting sick of men attacking women to begin with. I'm getting even sicker of men who think they're experts on either abortion or feminism when they so clearly don't know what they're speaking of. Mary Wollstonecraft (mentioned by Rocket in another comment to his own article) dying in child birth does not prove a damn thing except that the birth (her second) went wrong. That was in 1797. Shall we now go back to the surgeries men had in 1797? Hey, how about a moratorium on open heart surgery because I'm sure we can round up some men from 1797 who were opposed to cutting of any kind, let alone surgery. And, of course, all prostate procedures should be on hold as well. Stay out of my doctor's examination room and I'll stay out of yours.
Rocket wants to claim he's not a right winger. Rebecca's already demonstrated that his main link is to an organization that feels Jesus is the only true God and all others are false -- and that's on the organization's about page. Most would say, "Yeah, right wing source." True also of the church sources and it is right-wing to dictate a religous 'morality' on anyone else's life so that rules out Consistent Life. Ron Paul? He's right-wing.
Dandelion Salad will not be linked to again community wide because it presents as left and it just one more site selling out women's rights. Now we will link to Antiwar.com which is a right-wing site. But they're not hiding what they are. And if they go off on abortion, I really don't care. But I do care about these people on the left who are so quick to sell out women's rights. We have always called that out at this site and we always will. You can click on this March 2, 2005 entry for one example. I don't have time for the lefties repeating right-wing lies and spin. Dandelion Salad has demonstrated it is not a site that believes in equality and it will never be linked to again -- a community wide ban. I also offer my apologies for having linked to it before. I had no idea that they weren't left and that they attacked the rights of women. We do not support attacks on women's rights. We never have, we never will. As for Feminists for Life, long called out by Rebecca, we'll note this from Katha Pollitt's 2005 column on the group:
Can you be a feminist and be against abortion? Feminists for Life claims to be both, and if you listen long enough to its voluble and likable president, Serrin Foster, you might almost think it's true. FFL is on a major publicity roll these days, because Jane Roberts, wife of Supreme Court nominee John Roberts, is a pro bono legal adviser, former officer and significant donor (she gave between $1,000 and $2,499 in 2003). When I caught up with Foster at the end of a long day that included an hour on NPR's On Point, she talked a blue and quite amusing streak, and although it can be hard to follow an aria that swoops from Susan B. Anthony to telecommuting to water pollution, while never quite answering the actual question, I'm sure she means every word of it. How can you argue with FFL's contention that America does not give pregnant women and mothers the support they need? Feminists, the prochoice kind, have been saying this for years. So far as I can tell, FFL is the only "prolife" organization that talks about women's rights to work and education and the need to make both more compatible with motherhood. It has helped bring housing for mothers and children to Georgetown University and supports the Violence Against Women Act; Foster reminded me that she and I had been on the same side in the mid-1990s in opposing family caps, the denial of additional benefits to women who had more children while on welfare. Why, she wondered, couldn't we all just work together to "help pregnant women"?
[. . .]
Exposing the constraints on women's choices, however, is only one side of feminism. The other is acknowledging women as moral agents, trusting women to decide what is best for themselves. For FFL there's only one right decision: Have that baby. And since women's moral judgment cannot be trusted, abortion must be outlawed, whatever the consequences for women's lives and health--for rape victims and 12-year-olds and 50-year-olds, women carrying Tay-Sachs fetuses and women at risk of heart attack or stroke, women who have all the children they can handle and women who don't want children at all. FFL argues that abortion harms women--that's why it clings to the outdated cancer claims. But it would oppose abortion just as strongly if it prevented breast cancer, filled every woman's heart with joy, lowered the national deficit and found Jimmy Hoffa. That's because they aren't really feminists -- a feminist could not force another woman to bear a child, any more than she could turn a pregnant teenager out into a snowstorm. They are fetalists.
Again, that's from Katha Pollitt's 2005 column. If you suffered through the garbage up at Dandelion Salad, especially make a point to cleanse yourself by reading Katha.
And if you don't like abortion? Don't have one. And for most of the pro-life crowd, including writer Rocket, that's not too difficult since they're men. But if you're a woman and don't want an abortion, you don't have one. It's that simple. They want to bring up (under "see") China and the government forcing a woman to have an abortion. (Just one woman forced?) China does not have a monster government that decided one day, "How can we screw over our citizens?" China implemented that policy due to population concerns. Population concerns could likely end up being one of the biggest concerns of the 21st century throughout the world. Which means other countries could do the same as China. Could it happen in the US? Not currently.
Currently, the law of the land is that an abortion is a woman's decision. It is not the government's decision. It is the woman in question and only she can decide. However, if these idiots who want to repeal Roe v. Wade get their way, they're saying that government can outrank a woman and say "NO" on abortion. Any government that has the power to say "NO" also has the power to say "YES." So if you're truly concerned that the US might some day try to force women to have abortions, then you'd be doing everything you could to support Roe v. Wade because that law prevents the government from deciding on abortion. That's reality. And it's only difficult to grasp if you're one of those who sets out to destroy women's rights and women's lives.
Last night US President Barack Obama took to the airwaves again and delivered a "State of the Union" address -- either to flaunt his ignorance or his ability to lie with a straight face, you be the judge. Alsumaria TV notes, "In the annual State of the Union address, US President Barack Obama praised the progress made in Iraq in the political process and the new government formation." The government really wasn't formed. If the Constitution were followed to the letter and intent, Nouri wouldn't be prime minister. He didn't form a Cabinet, he left spots empty and filled 3 himself. That's not what the Constitution allows. But with pressure from the US government, the Iraqi Parliament waived him through. Over a month later and he still hasn't filled that Cabinet. It's less tha two months away from the one-year anniversary of the March 7th elections and Iraq still doesn't have a full Cabinet.
In a month that's not yet ended but has already seen more spectacular bombings than Iraq's seen in one month in a long, long time, even though the death toll for this (ongoing) month has already passed the official toll for last month, Barack wanted to stand up last night and insist that violence was down.
We've heard this sort of lying before from George W. Bush. Barack only demonstrated last night that he was worse than even Bush. Congratulations to the White House for that proud moment. NPR analyzed the speech, Tom Gjelten taking the Iraq and Afghanistan part, "But the level of violence in Iraq remains high, and the seeds of renewed sectarian strife and political instability have been planted with the return to Iraq of Moqtada al-Sadr, whose Iran-backed Shiite militia was responsible for much anti-Sunni violence in earlier years."
A top U.S. oversight office has recommended that the United States halt further funding for a $26 million education academy for senior Iraqi security officials after discovering that the Iraqi government had never agreed to operate or maintain the facility. The United States has spent more than $13 million on the project.
Barack declared, "Look to Iraq, where nearly 100,000 of our brave men and women have left with their heads held high; where American combat patrols have ended; violence has come down; and a new government has been formed. This year, our civilians will forge a lasting partnership with the Iraqi people, while we finish the job of bringing our troops out of Iraq. America's commitment has been kept; the Iraq War is coming to an end." And ignored that he is actively seeking an extension to the SOFA and that the back up plan is to switch the military over to the US diplomatic staff in Iraq and call that a 'pullout.'
Since the supposed end of combat operations in Iraq last summer, 18 U.S. troops and at least 649 Iraqi civilians have been killed. According to many analysts, Obama will likely maintain 5 U.S. bases and 50,000 troops in Iraq indefinetly.1 According to the National Priorities Project, U.S. taxpayers will contribute $65 billion to the war in Iraq, money that could instead pay for over 1 million jobs, or 13.4 million people receiving low-income health care.2 President Obama stated that troops would start coming home from Afghanistan this July, but Pat Alviso, who's son is currently serving in Afghanistan, asks: "The withdrawal may start in July, but when will it end? My son is in Afghanistan now, and almost 30,000 more troops are scheduled to deploy before July. When will they come home?" She continued, "If President Obama, wants to keep his promise of 'shaping a world that favors peace and prosperity,' he needs to bring my son and all the troops home now -- and take care of them when they get here." The president also made sweeping promises about improving education, health care, clean energy, and creating jobs. However, at the same time he is proposing a 5-year freeze in domestic spending, with only minor cuts to the military budget. "My community is suffering from cuts to health care, failing schools, and a rising unemployment rate. My husband was discharged from the Army in Nov. 2010. He is 75% disabled now and just had his 3rd operation. He is not able to work. His unemployment benefits have been cut, and his disability pay does not cover our expenses. I am working full time, but can not make ends meet." said MFSO member Tammara Rosenleaf from Montana. "Congress and the President may clap to show their gratitude, but I'd rather be able to actually pay my bills." Members of Military Families Speak Out and Gold Star Families Speak Out are available for interviews about the State of the Union. If you are looking for a family with a specific story, please contact Samantha Miller, MFSO's Communications Coordinator -- Samantha@mfso.org or 818-419-6994
President Obama says he wants a freeze in non-security, discretionary spending. In the unlikely event that happens, it won't really matter, because to make a real dent in the deficit, it's necessary to cut spending on the military and entitlements. The president promised big government in the past, and he delivered. I expect more of the same.
However, Obama has truly been a hypocrite on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. As a candidate, he promised to end them. Tonight we heard more hollow promises. The fact is, as president, he has kept those wars going, and has greatly escalated the war in Afghanistan. As a percentage of GDP, military spending is higher now than it was during any year of the George W. Bush administration.
Unlike President Obama, Libertarians would bring our troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan, and reduce the military budget.
The Green Party response to the speech included: "The White House and Congress can reduce the deficit drastically by ending the wars and occupations in Afghanistan and Iraq, cutting military spending and the number of US bases on foreign soil, and taxing the wealthy so that they pay their fair share. Future meltdowns can be averted by breaking up the "too big to fail" financial firms into smaller locally-based companies. The Green Party's goal of a decentralized economy, based on Main Street rather the Wall Street, will restore economic stability and security to the US." Iraq Veterans Against the War:
President Obama grossly understated the heavy toll that the Afghanistan and Iraq wars are baring on troops and the economy. The Afghanistan War is now the longest war in U.S. history. Military healthcare costs are rising at twice the rate of the national average and occupy a major chunk of the Pentagon budget (USA Today 4/25/10). 2009 was the first year since recordkeeping began that mental health disorders were the major cause of hospitalization (USA Today 5/16/10), a grim symbol of compounding trauma. Obama declared in his speech that veterans are returning home "with heads held high," a fable not reflected in the record suicide rates.
"President Obama, do you really think we are holding our heads high as we are watching our brothers and sisters suffer and commit suicide because they aren't getting the care they deserve? Troops need more than a long pause for applause, they need to be treated like humans," said Maggie Martin of IVAW, two-time Iraq veteran.
Veterans of IVAW are currently leading a campaign, Operation Recovery, launched in October to end the military's widespread practice of deploying traumatized troops back into battle. By heeding their call the President would back his promise of cutting healthcare costs. He would lower unemployment for veterans and help begin a process of national healing.
"Soldiers are being forced to redeploy into combat without receiving treatment for wounds suffered during previous combat tours. Military Sexual Trauma, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and Traumatic Brain Injury are spiraling out of control as a result, with unacceptable human and financial costs," said Jose Vasquez, who served 14 years in the United States Army and is now the Executive Director of Iraq Veterans Against the War.
Unemployment is another high cost of multiple redeployments and inadequate care. A January report released by the Bureau of Labor statistics shows recent veterans have an almost 12% unemployment rate -- 2.3% higher than the national average. Mental and physical wounds suffered during combat make it more difficult for veterans to find jobs or start their own businesses.
"The president said withdrawal from Afghanistan will start in July, but when will it end? Let's bring all the troops home immediately and invest in the care they have earned," said Zach Choate, Afghanistan War veteran and IVAW member.
Athony Fest: Mike Gravel, the worst of the recession is over?
Mike Gravel: No, not at all. Depends upon who you're talking about. The worst of the recession is over for Wall Street because they're prospering. They're the ones that got all the bailout -- not, not the average citizen who's unemployed, so, no, not at all. And just listen to the rhetoric. He's saying, you know, we can't spend money, we've got to make cuts.' Where are they going to make the cuts? Discretionary spending is only 12% of the budget. That leaves out defense. And, of course, this joke that they're going to cut the defense budget, the Republicans will fight that tooth and nail and the Democrats will cave as they normally do.
Adrienne Lauby: Mike Gravel, this is Adrienne Lauby. I want to talk about this, this rhetorical line I hear it so much: "Families sacrifice to live within their means, they deserve a government who does the same thing." And he's just about to cut the things that keep families above water.
Mike Gravel: Adrienne, it's - it boggles the mind that rational people can stand up and tell you that they're going to cut the budget and they're going to spend more to bring the infrastructure and the nation up to a competative level in the world.That just doesn't make any sense. And yet they do it with a straight face, they applaud. They're going to cut ear marks? Don't hold your breath on that one.
Mike Gravel ran for the Democratic Party presidential nomination in 2008 and has talked of running for the nomination again in 2012. Hillary Is 44 offers their take of the speech here.
Like the worst lies of Bully Boy Bush, Barack talked 'progress' in Iraq last night. Roula Ayoubi (BBC News) reports on Hanan, a single mother with three children whose husband was killed in the Iraq War. A divorced man proposed to her. She accepted. They married. She found out he was still with his first wife. That's deceit and trickery and illegal in Iraq. Polygamy, sadly, is legal with a judge's permission. Despite it being illegal -- as is genital mutilation -- it still goes on in Iraq -- as does genital mutilation. Ayoubi reports:
Nada Ibrahim, a member of parliament, supports the idea of polygamous marriage in principle - as long as a husband treats his wives "with justice".
However, she also believes that the government should provide more support for widows, to make it easier for them to survive without men.
"Widows are often young and don't have jobs, health insurance or social security. We shouldn't encourage them only to get married," she says.
Hana Edwar of the Amal charity also believes that the government should help widows financially to enable them to decide their own fate. She's firmly opposed to polygamous marriage.
"It's about women's dignity," she says. "Women need to be educated about their rights."
Women in illegal second marriages are often "in an inferior situation where they are unprotected and prone to abuse by men", she adds.
Your first clue that there's a problem? Qualifying your okay of a man having multiple wives with as long as he treats them "with justice." Right there, you see the imbalance. It's not a coming together of equal partners and the wife (second, third, fourth, whatever) is dependant upon the husband for 'justice.' To listen to a report on the issue, click here for Woman's Hour (BBC Radio). In 2006, Joshua Partlow (Washington Post) explained, "Iraq this year has $337 million to disburse from the fund for all welfare cases, not just widows, in a program that covers 500,000 people. A widow with no children is eligible for $34 a month from the government, while the maximum monthly disbursement is $81 for a widow with five or more children -- neither amount enough to escape from poverty." Also in 2006, Dahr Jamail and Ali Al-Fadhily (IPS) reported on the issue and they quoted Haja Saadiya Hussein who explained, "I had to pay a lot of money as bribes to government officials in order to get the monthly support payment, and that is not enough to support my big family. Americans killed my husband last year near a checkpoint, and now I have to work as a servant in government officials' houses to earn a living for my six children. I have stopped them going to school, to cut my expenses." Nouri could have dealt with these issues (first story from July 2006, second from December 2006 -- Nouri became prime minister in April of 2006). He never addressed it. Well, you're saying, now he's got his second term and maybe he can do a study on the issue? In February 2009, Timothy Williams (New York Times) reported that "commissions" were studying the issue. It's two years later. Are they still studying the issue? Timothy Williams noted "roughly one in six" Iraqi widows receives goverment assistance and that was "currently about $50 a month and additional $12 per child" in a country where "a five-liter container of gasoline, used for cars as well as home generators, is about $4." In March 2009, Oxfam International released "In Her Own Words: Iraqi women talka bout their greatest concerns and challenges," a survey of 1,700 Iraqi women -- approximately 60% of whom say that security is their first concern, the next grouping (55%) explain that they have been direct or indirect victims of violence since the US invasion began and the same percentage states "they were displaced at least once since 2003." Other findings included almost "25% of women had no daily access to drinking women & half of those who did have daily access to water said it was not potable; 69% said access to water was worse or the same as it was in 2006 & 2007" and "40% of women with children reported that their sons and daughters were not attending school." On the latter issue, "30% of those with children said they could not reach school without security threats." We'll note this section of the 19-page report:
In early 2009, reports of improved security in Iraq, and even a return to 'normality,' began appearing in the media. Similar reports of diminished suicide bombs and other violent indiscriminate attacks emerged at the time of the initial data collection last year. However insecurity remains in many provinces including Baghdad, Kirkuk and Nineveh where small-scale attacks, assassination and kidnappings continue. Women in particular are less safe now than at any other time during the conflict or in the years before.
Beyond security, the overwhelming concern women voiced was extreme difficulty accessing basic servics such as clean water, electricity and adequate shelter despite billions of US dollars that have been spent in the effort to rehabilitate damaged or destroyed infrastructure. Availability of essentials such as water, sanitation and health care is far below national averages. Both the Iraqi organization and researcher that carried out the survey and analyzed its findings corroborated that the overall cchallenges facing women and the Iraqi population as a whole remained the same in early 2009 as they did in the second half of 2008 when the date presented in this paper was collected.
The report notes, "As compared with 2007, 40% felt their security situation was worsening in 2008, 38% said it was improving and the remainder said it had not changes; as compared with 2006; 43% said it was worse, 34% said it was better & 22% said it had not changed." Oxfam calls for a dramatic increase in investments from donor countries to rebuild Iraq's "basic and social services sectors" and notes "The women of Iraq have been caught in the grip of a silent emergency for the past six years."
The key moments for Kyle were all anomalies, moments when the narratives were ruptured, when he confronted the reality of his situation beyond the denial and repression of military culture. One of the most significant anomalies for Kyle occurred during the last few months of his tour, when his unit was sent down to the southern suburbs of Mosul: Kyle's platoon lived at a combat out-post and, like all residences, someone had to take out the trash. The trouble came in that the trash contained a lot of edible food (mirroring US waste patterns). Kyle recollects that a good portion of the food was sealed in cellophane packaging, or in unopened boxes. There were whole loafs of bread, bruised but edible fruits and vegetables, and other food. Disposal comprised of dousing the trash (i.e. food) in JP8 fuel and setting it on fire.
As Kyle witnessed on his first trash detail, Iraqi children came from all over to try to salvage what food they could. The first time it happened, Kyle's platoon wasn't sure how to handle the situation, and allowed the children to take what was left after the fire had decimated much of it-but after the incident, they were given strict orders to bar children from taking food from the garbage.
"It was like something from the Twilight Zone," he relates. "The children were starving. They knew that the food was coming out, and they'd come from the desert hills a kilometer away." He related the story:
They would get closer and closer and as the distance between us shorten their cries got louder. We would push them back and intimidate them as they screamed and cried for the perfectly good packaged food goods that us soldiers deemed unworthy for our stomachs but edible food nonetheless. I hated doing the trash detail with a passion and seeing the poor children suffer. Our own American tax money burned in a fire pit, while Iraqi children-who we were supposed to be helping-were begging for our trash.
That's what he saw. How could Nouri avoid seeing the same suffering? How could he avoid helping Iraq's children and widows? Because it's cheaper to allow the law to be broken by allowing men to take multiple wives. Or for that matter, allowing "temporary marriage" (the man gets to have sex with the woman but doesn't have to remain married to her -- it's really cohabitatioon -- briefly or for a longer period -- but the men call it temporary marriage because it allows them to pretend they're living 'righteous' lives). The experiences in Iraq changed Kyle, he became a Buddhist. It's amazing the impact the war had him when you grasp how little it has impacted Nouri. About the only thing it's done for Nouri is increase his greed.
Like his greed, the violence never vanishes. Reuters notes a Mosul mortar attack claimed the life of 1 person and left another injured and that 1 person was shot dead in Mosul; however, the big news is the targeting of various officials and groups today such as Foreign Affairs Ministry employee Jamal Satar shot dead in Baghdad, Foreign Affairs Ministry employee Jabar Mukhtar shot dead in another part of Baghdad, an employee of the National Security Ministry shot dead in Baghdad and 1 Sahwa member shot dead in Tarmiya.
Two former cabinet secretaries – the country's most senior civil servants – mounted a devastating critique of the way Blair handled the run-up to war. The cabinet were trapped in a position where they had to agree to attack Iraq or bring down the prime minister, the inquiry heard.
Today's witnesses disputed Blair's claim to the inquiry last Friday that cabinet ministers might not have seen official papers but would have known about plans from the media. "None of those key [Whitehall] papers were presented to the cabinet so I do not accept the former prime minister's claim they knew the score ... That isn't borne out by what actually happened," said Lord Turnbull, then cabinet secretary.
Alex Barker (Financial Times of London) observes Turnbull testified that the Cabinet was denied "key documents" and the cabinet did not realize "the likelihood of military action against Iraq" in 2002. AFP reports that Lauren Booth, Blair's sister-in-law, has weighed in that Tony Blair is a War Criminal: Asked whether Blair should be arrested and sent to the International Court of Justice in The Hague for war crimes, Booth replied: "Absolutely. He misled the British people and took Britain to war on a lie." The conflict in Iraq was "an offence", she told reporters after a speech at a Malaysian university, saying it was organised well in advance between Blair and the United States leadership. Booth has been a vocal opponent of the war in Iraq, and a supporter of the Palestinian cause, and in 2008 travelled with other activists to Gaza by ship to protest against Israel's blockade of the territory.
Britain's special representative in Baghdad warned the government that US military tactics and policies in post-invasion Iraq "made the situation worse", a classified document released by the Chilcot inquiry reveals.
The document's author, Sir David Richmond, a former top diplomat, told the inquiry yesterday that the failure to stop looting after the fall of Baghdad - dismissed by Donald Rumsfeld, then US defence secretary, in his notorious phrase "stuff happens" - was "disastrous".
He told the inquiry: "It was crime and kidnapping. A virus of insecurity and instability was let loose".
BBC News emphasizes this from the document: "What might have been an uneasy acquiesence was too often turned into anger and resentment by military tactics which were heavy-handed and disdainful of the Iraqis." The document was sent June 28, 2004 and [PDF format warning] click here to read it in full.