Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Prison breaks and Miss Rona joins the Times

Friday in Hilla, there was a clash at a prison and a prison break. Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that four escapees have been captured with one more remaining at large. Details have changed from one day to the next. Hammoudi quotes Hilla lawmaker Eskander Witwit stating, "The incident was very well planned, there is a clear collusion and negligence by the guards of the jail. An iron saw,police uniform and a faked pistol which looks like a pistol with a silencer had been passed to the prisoners." We'll come back to the prison break in the snapshot today and also note the section on prisons in Iraq when we pick back up on the "2010 Report on Human Rights in Iraq."

CNN offers an overview of the report which includes emphasizing this quote from the report: "The judicial system also remains weak -- and an over reliance on confessions, rather than on properly gathered forensic evidence, to convict encourage an environment where torture of detainees takes place." Like CNN, AFP quotes these statements from the report, ""The human rights situation throughout Iraq remains fragile as the country slowly transitions from a conflict to post-conflict country that faces enormous development challenges. Widespread poverty, economic stagnation, lack of opportunities, environmental degradation and an absence of basic services constitute 'silent' human rights violations that affect large sectors of the population."

Instead of combing over the report or doing something of value, the New York Times offers "Military Memo" by Thom Shanker. Reading it, you're embarrassed for Shanker. "Robin Williams slept here." A grown man wrote that? It would be embarrassing for a student journalist. When not self-styling as the paper's Miss Rona, Shanker makes illogical comparisons. The Joint Visitors Bureau on Camp Victory is not and never could be Rick's Cafe. Probably a good idea when making comparisons to films -- especially very well known ones -- to know what you're talking about: "The J.V.B. became Rick's Cafe in Iraq, a magnet drawing defense secretaries in search of progress, embedded combat correspondents conducting interviews, Congressional delegations glad-handing their local counterparts and movie stars or stand-up comics breezing through, Bob Hope style." Has Shanker ever actually seen Casablanca?

First off, Humphrey Bogart's character runs Rick's Cave Americain. Second, I'm having a really hard time seeing a US base facility as a place where various nationalities, refugees, underground elements, etc can all congregate.

Maybe calling it "Rick's Cafe" is a cute little way to self-lie that all of your time spent there was indeed worthwhile and not, in fact, avoiding the actual country and its people which you were supposed to be reporting on?

If you did that, you might not find it so wonderful that an Iraqi lake was being used as a US soldiers golf course.

Now there are real stories in Iraq, stories the paper refuses to cover. I remember rumors of John F. Burns and Dexy Filkins living it up as the Go-Go Boys of the Green Zone and those rumors includes, yes, affairs, but also there was speculation of wild living with prostitutes. Interestingly, the paper has repeatedly maintained -- less convincingly each year -- that there were no houses of prostitution in Bahgdad. Did you know that prostitution is mentioned in the UN report released yesterday?

Probably not if you counted on the New York Times. Today the Parliament is supposed to review the proposed journalism law. Has that paper reported on that? Nope. Has the paper been all over the Ministry of Electricity story? Nope. So-called 'honor' killing? Nope. Osama al-Nujafia's brother calling for the military to leave his province? Nope. Yesterday's protest in Falluja? Nope. Iraqi reaction to the release of Abu Ghraib ringleader Charles Graner? Nope.

But they wasted Thom Shanker with a glorified gossip column. And they wasted the readers' time with it. The paper apparently spends so much money on Iraq just to tell readers nothing.

The following community sites -- plus Antiwar.com, Adam vs The Man, NYT's At War blog -- updated last night and this morning:

Plus Marcia's "Chickens roosting and all of that," Elaine's "Comic, Libya, sitcoms" and Wally's "THIS JUST IN! BITCHY LITTLE GIRL!" which are not showing up on the side links currently.

Senator Patty Murray is the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee. We'll close with this
news release about an appearance tomorrow where she'll discuss the Hiring Heroes Act:

WEDNESDAY: Murray at Amazon Headquarters to Discuss Hiring Heroes Act

With unemployment rate among young veterans at over 27%, Senator Murray will discuss her landmark bill that will require job skills training for every separating service member, create new pathways to private sector and federal employment; Senator Murray will hear firsthand from employees of Amazon’s successful veterans hiring program

(Washington, D.C.) –Wednesday, August 10th U.S. Senator Patty Murray, Chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, will visit Amazon Headquarters in Seattle to discuss current efforts to address unemployment among our nation’s veterans. Senator Murray’s bill, the Hiring Heroes Act of 2011, is the first of its kind to require broad job skills training for service members returning home and comes at a time when more than one in four veterans aged 18-24 are unemployed. In addition to providing new job skills training to all service members, the bill will also create new direct federal hiring authority so that more service members have jobs waiting for them the day they leave the military, and will improve veteran mentorship programs in the working world. For more information on the bill visit HERE.

Workers hired under Amazon’s veterans recruiting program will also be sharing their stories at the event.

WHO: U.S. Senator Patty Murray

Amazon workers hired under their veteran hired program

WHAT: Senator Murray will speak at the Amazon headquarters in Seattle to highlight her Hiring Heroes Act of 2011, a bill that will require job skills training for

service members, create new pathways to private sector and federal employment

WHEN: Wednesday, August 10th

10:30 AM PT

WHERE: Amazon Headquarters

440 Terry Ave. N.

Seattle, WA 98109


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