Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Bob Woodruff back in Iraq

Entering from the North, we landed in Kirkuk but because of the sand, we could not even feed our video. I'm officially inside Iraq for the first time since I was hit and nearly killed by an IED near here 3 and a half years ago. For a long time I had been hoping to return to Iraq. Once the sand settles we will be able to see if and how Iraq has changed.

The above is from Bob Woodruff's "Grounded by Huge Sandstorm in Iraq" (ABC News' The World Newser). Woodruff was supposed to do his first report from Iraq (since being injured there) last night on ABC's World News Tonight; however, the sandstorms delayed it and his first report is now scheduled for tonight's broadcast of the evening news. In January 2006, Bob Woodruff and Elizabeth Vargas were co-anchors of ABC's World News Tonight and he was wounded in roadside bombing in Iraq which required extensive recovery work. This is his first time back in Iraq since that bombing. Many journalists have been wounded in the Iraq War and the Iraq War is the deadliest for journalists with at least 225 killed since the start of the illegal war (we count "media workers" as journalists -- they are anywhere, but especially in a war zone and note that the June 1st death isn't included in Reporters Without Borders count so we're saying "at least"). The journalists most at risk have been Iraqi journalist (and one of the "brain drains" not written of at length re: Iraq is the large number of Iraqi journalists who have fled the country in the last six years). Foreign journalists have also risked a great deal. Along with CBS News' Kimberly Dozier, Woodruff is the most high profile US journalist wounded in the Iraq War. And NBC News' David Bloom was killed in Iraq April 6, 2003.

Richard Huff's "ABC News' Bob Woodruff returns to Iraq, three years later" (New York Daily News) notes:

Three-and-a-half years ago, Woodruff and cameraman Doug Vogt were traveling with the 4th Infantry Division when an improvised explosive device went off, nearly killing them.
Woodruff endured a year of rehab and wasn't seen on TV until ABC aired a special on his recovery a year later. Vogt, whose injuries were not as serious as Woodruff's, still works as a cameraman for ABC News.
"I was in Iraq for the seventh time when I was injured," he wrote Monday. "None of us ever could have imagined then that I would ever be able to go back, or even report again."
Woodruff said he wanted to "get back on the horse again" but admitted it would be different this time. He said he wouldn't run outside the "wire" and wouldn't be going into the streets or to a battle zone.

The Sotomayor Circus continues today and, make no mistake, the chief clown responsible for this nonsense is Sonia Sotomayor. It's past time the American people knew where she stood on abortion. This is not a minor issue. She did nothing yesterday but gas bag. You realize how bad her performance was by Amy Goodman's trash this morning on Democracy Now! where we're exploring Sotomayor's "historic" blah-blah. That's a feature story, you f**king idiot. That's a feature story, that's not news. Her confirmation hearing started yesterday. Yesterday. That means you have a news report today. You either have that or you explain why you don't. And the reason you don't is because the circus accomplished nothing. The American people have a right to know where she stands on abortion -- ESPECIALLY when abortion rights were used to scare up female support for Barack in the general election. As Green Change explains:

Here's what we know so far.

In 2002, Judge Sotomayor upheld President Bush's "global gag rule" which forced groups receiving U.S. assistance to pledge not to support or carry out abortions.

In 2004, Judge Sotomayor ruled mostly in favor of anti-abortion protesters in a case regarding police use of force against them.

In 2007, Judge Sotomayor joined an opinion that upheld a school district's policy of requiring teachers to notify parents if they thought that a girl was pregnant.

In a sign of just how ridiculous yesterday was, Danny Schechter writes this:

As Rachel Maddow noted lasted night on MSNBC, the Republican members avoided her record and even her so-called Judicial philosophy in any detail, and,instead went after racial issues and their own paranoia with constant references to one comment made off the bench about her seeing herself as a wise Latina woman. The context of that remark or her intent in making it was never questioned. What we saw was a lot of posturing and an UNWISE agenda driven White Men doing what they do best–appealing to fear and stereotypes,

That's the end of his sentence (and the paragraph) even though there's a comma. Now Danny wants to whine about White men? Danny who saw no sexism in the non-stop attacks on Hillary Clinton? Now he wants to posture. (I believe Sonia Sotomayor is White. Ethnicity is not race. I grasp that idiots have trouble with that but unless Sotomayor's background includes something we do not yet know, she's considered White. Maybe it's time some took a sociology class in race and ethnicity? Just as Danny can be White and Jewish, Sotomayor can be White and Latina.)

And of course he does so by promoting the ridiculous and self-serving Rachel Maddow. The idiot who turns everything into smut is someone we cite? Bob Somerby's Daily Howler has documented what a sewer Rachel Maddow inhabits and only a little suck-up desperate for air time or a fool who doesn't pay attention would praise Rachel Maddow. You decide which Danny is. Last week he was attacking Gloria Steinem but he got his marching orders this morning and he's all concerned about calling out the "White man" (which would include himself, especially if you tossed out "old"). Let's see how long that laughable pose lasts.

And let's all chuckle as Danny whines about those mean-old Republicans who apparently are supposed to roll over and just waive her through. Republicans have every right to question her. And their disagreements with her? Unless you can crawl into their heads, quit putting words in their mouths. It's amazing that Danny didn't say one damn word during the non-stop public stoning of Hillary (which he participated in) but today any critique of a woman, questioning her for a lifetime appointment must be sexism and racism? Bulls**t. Leigh Ann Caldwell (Free Speech Radio News) notes, "Lawmakers avoided personal attacks but some conservatives including Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich have called her a racist. Republicans on the committee refused to make that assertion. Instead they critiqued her judicial philosophy." (Click here for the segment itself.)

I haven't endorsed Sotomayor, I haven't called for her not to be appointed. I can't do either because I don't where she stands on anything. If I knew she was pro-choice, I'd probably endorse the corporatist candidate. But despite the promise from Barack that he would only nominate pro-choice, we're now into her confirmation hearings and we still don't know where she stands on abortion. That's ridiculous. And it's ridiculous that Betty's "Sotomayor" offers more reality than a self-appointed "News Dissector." It's ridiculous that, reading Betty, you learn Sotomayor (if confirmed) will be the sixth Catholic currently sitting on the Court. Six out of nine Justices will be Catholic? That's diversity?

And did anyone need Amy's garbage this morning when Pacifica Radio has already ground to a standstill to air the hearings live? How much non-news can be filled up hour after hour?

And let's not pretend that Danny Schechter, so concerned about the Iraq War when he had a documentary to promote and when it was later on DVD, or any of the rest do a damn thing on Iraq and that war is not over (despite ridiculous claims by Brookings).

[Added: July 19, 2009. Originally in this space a letter appeared. It's been deleted because the writer's a coward and either a fool or a liar. We don't have time to waste with either. It's too bad someone wanting to praise their brother's military service in public as brave has no such bravery as his own and gets all scared and wimpy, starts e-mailing and insisting that he didn't mean this in his letter or that in his letter and besides laws apply, LAWS!!!! No laws applied. Don't lie to me. He's chicken s**t and that's reason enough to remove his letter.]

On veterans, Jia-Rui Chong's "Veterans with stress disorder appear more likely to develop dementia" (Los Angeles Times) reports, "Older veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder are nearly twice as likely to develop dementia as those who do not have the disorder, according to a new study presented today at an Alzheimer's disease conference. 'These findings are important because PTSD has become a common consequence of combat and exposure to trauma,' said Dr. Kristine Yaffe, the paper's lead author, in a statement." Good thing no journalist is telling PTSD victims they can be 'cured' all by themselves, right? Good thing no name journalist has been promoting Quack Science comparing PTSD to a broken bone -- which can apparently heal all on its own, right? Oh wait, one has.

Turning to Iraq, the US military released the following statement yesterday:

BAGHDAD – Soldiers serving with 266th Military Police Company, 8th Military Police Brigade in Basra, Iraq have been charged with misconduct during the unit’s pre-deployment training at Fort Dix in the fall of 2008.
Charges were preferred against Sgt. Gilbert Parker and Spc. Matthew Delia, July 3 and July 7, respectively. Both Soldiers are National Guardsmen activated with the 266th Military Police Company out of Manassas, Va.
While at mobilization training at Fort Dix, N.J., Parker is alleged to have committed an indecent act by filming and photographing female members of his unit while they were taking showers. Parker is also charged with conspiracy, violating a lawful general order, obstructing justice, and distributing pornography in violation of Articles 81, 92, and 134 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). The maximum authorized sentence based on the charges preferred against Parker includes confinement for 18 years, reduction to E-1, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and a dishonorable discharge.
Delia is charged with conspiring with and assisting Parker, as well as distributing the videos and images in violation of Articles 81, 120 and 134, UCMJ. The maximum authorized sentence for Delia includes confinement for 12 years, reduction to E-1, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and a dishonorable discharge.
The preferral of charges is the initial step in the possible prosecutions of Parker and Delia. The CID investigation of this incident is still ongoing. All Soldiers are presumed innocent until proven guilty.

Last night the following community sites updated:

Those who don't need second-by-second, minute-by-minute coverage of the Sotomayor Circus can click here for BBC Radio. If any actual news is made in the hearing, you'll hear it there. Otherwise, you'll be informed of life beyond the circus, around the world -- including Charles Taylor's trial which isn't even a blip in this country.

The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com.

thomas friedman is a great man

oh boy it never ends