Thursday, September 3, 2009

Joni Mitchell and Woodstock

Joni Mitchell is a singer-songwriter responsible for many classics including one of the all time great albums Blue. As I noted during "The Joni Roundtable" a few Sundays ago at Third, my favorite Joni album is Miles of Aisles. That is her live album that comes out in the mid-seventies and finds her working with the same band from Court & Spark (another classic album) while she performs her songs live and, I felt, found even more life in them than in the original recordings. (And if you know the original recordings, you know that my statement is really saying something.) I also felt she found, with that band, a chance to explore even further. They gave her sound a band foundation and I can hear the jazz explorations more strongly on the live album and I think that comes from Joni's confidence about finally having a band that grasped the sound she was going for.

This is from George Christie's column in The Beverly Hills Courier:

Viewing Ang Lee’s "Taking Woodstock," we recalled that Joni Mitchell, who’s not in the film, wrote the Woodstock song. Even though she dropped out from making that festival scene in upstate New York in 1969. Why? Her manager insisted she appear on the Dick Cavett Show. All the same, Joni immortalized the event with her lyrics, as did singers Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, who scored a hit on Billboard’s Hot 100 with the Woodstock single from their album, Deja Vu. “By the time we got to Woodstock,” go the lyrics, “we were half a million strong, and everywhere there was song and celebration …”
“She captured the feeling and importance of the Woodstock festival better than anyone who’d been there,” reflected David Crosby. Joni wrote the song in a Manhattan hotel room, while watching the events unfold on her television. Not being there, she claimed, gave her an intense perspective on what was happening during the landmark folk-rock concert of “peace and victory.”

Canadian-born Joni, who recovered from polio at age nine, taught herself ukulele and developed her unique style of rhythmic picking and strumming with guitar, before taking off from her native Alberta for Toronto. “I’m going to be a folksinger,” she told her mother, soon performing in the coffee houses and boites of the East Coast, where audiences loved her original harmonies.
Her music’s influenced legions of singers: Prince, Annie Lennox, Madonna, Bjork, Elvis Costello, George Michael, Tori Amos, Alanis Morissette, Counting Crows, Seal, Fiona Apple, and others. Reading Sheila Weller’s Girls Like Us about Joni, Carole King and Carly Simon, we discovered that Joni lived for five weeks with a lover in an ancient Minoan cave in the Mediterranean. You have to admire that kind of spunk.

I do not think she would have written "Woodstock" if she had been there. I think by not being there, she really was able to see it in terms of the experience whereas, had she attended, it would have been more of a rock festival with herself as a participant onstage. There is a reason that none of the many acts (including some highly talented ones) were able to write a solid Woodstock song. Being on stage removed you from the experience we now identify with Woodstock. (I did not attend and I have written about that before.)

This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Thursday, September 3, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces more deaths, at least 15 Iraqis are reported dead today and 120 are reported injured, a British hostage missing since 2007 is confirmed dead, the US military -- according to a military official -- has little power in Iraq now due to reduced size, the Iraqi government continues to target the press, Cindy Sheehan provides input on a recent NYT article, and more.

Yesterday a British corpse surfaced in Baghdad. A somber UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown faced the cameras to issue a statement. Via ITN News (video link):

Gordon Brown: It's with the deepest regret that the body passed to the British embassy today is now discovered to be that of Alec Maclachlan. My thoughts, and I believe the thoughts of the whole country, are with the Maclachlan family at this time of great grief. No family should have to endure what they have gone through. The loss through the hostage taking, then the period of silence and not knowing what was happening and now to find that their loved one is lost -- Our thoughts are also with the families of those people who are the other hostages. We are demanding of the hostage takers that they now give us information about the whereabouts of Alan McMenemy and return Peter Moore who we still believe to be alive as soon as is possible. We will pursue these hostage takers. There is no justification for what they've done. And we are working with the Iraqi government at every point to ensure that we get information to the relatives, we get the return of the others and, at the same time, we bring the hostage takers to justice. That is what every family should expect of us and that is what we are going to do.

May 29, 2007 the League of Righteousness kidnapped five British citizens in Baghdad. Three are known to be dead: Jason Creswell, Jason Swindlehurst and Alec Maclachlan. Alan McMenemy is assumed dead (but that is not known) and Peter Moore is thought alive. Yesterday
Colin Freeman (Telegraph of London) explained, "The men were abducted by gunmen posing as policemen by a group calling itself League of the Righteous, a group of Shia militants. They were recently understood to have been seeking to enter mainstream politics in Iraq, but attempts to release the hostages through dialogue have proved fruitless." The Daily Mail noted that the League of the Righteous had earlier attempted to use the five hostages to broker a release of "nine Iraqi militants" at Camp Cropper (the leader and his brother were two and, again, they were released in June) and that this "is Britain's longest running hostage crisis since Terry Waite and John McCarthy who were held for nearly five years in Lebanon in the 1980s." Nouri is very close with the League and last week Eli Lake (Washington Times) reported that Ahmed Chalabi was as well.

Oliver August (Times of London) reports, "Mr MacLachlan, who is from Llanelli, south Wales, died from multiple gunshots in what appears to have been an execution. According to sources close to the investigation, the killing took place quite some time ago, possibly last year, given the partly decomposed state of the body." BBC News' Frank Gardner states, "When I last met the men's families, they were still hoping reports of more deaths were untrue." He's referring to the announcement a month and a half ago by the British government about their believing Alec Maclachlan and Alan McMenemy were dead. The families remained hopeful due to the fact that there were no bodies.

The League of Righteous is now responsible for the murders of three British citizens and is assumed to be holding 2 more and they are also responsible for an attack on US forces in which 5 US soldiers (Brian S. Freeman, Jacob N. Fritz, Johnathan B. Chism, Shawn P. Falter and Johnathon M. Millican) were slaughtered. Because the League of Righteousness is Nouri's best buddy, the UK and the US apparently have decided to humor the organization.
Deborah Haynes (Times of London) reported on the release by the US military of Laith al-Khazali (the ringleader of the group) and his brother. At the end of July BBC News' Humphrey Hawksley (link has video and text) filed this report:

Humphrey Hawksley: Alan [McMenemy] from Dunbarton, Alec [Maclachlan] from South Wales believed to be two more victims in this long running Iraq hostage tragedy. Security guards whose colleagues Jason Swindlehurst from Lancaster and Jason Creswell from Glasgow were shot dead, their bodies recovered last month. There's hope that Peter Moore, the IT specialist they were protecting, is still alive. This is the fortified Finance Ministry in central Baghdad from where the five men were kidnapped more than two years ago in May 2007 in a highly organized operation. Forty men wearing the uniforms of the Iraqi police drove up surrounded the building and took the hostages off to a secret location. For moths there was no news then, in November, there came a video from Jason Swindlehurst and, three months later, another from Peter Moore. He called for the release of nine Shia Iraqis being held by the Americans, release them so we can go, he said. And a year ago Alan asked the British government to try to get them home as soon as possible. The Foreign Office has adopted a low profile, softly-softly approach although the families did speak out from time to time hoping their voices might lead to the freedom of their loved ones. But nothing until last month. Thousands of suspected insurgents are being held in Iraq but are slowly being released. On June 7th, one of the nine referred to in Peter Moore's appeal was freed. Twelve days later, the two bodies were recovered. They'd been shot some time earlier. It's not know if there was a connection. The hope now is that somewhere in the dangerous world of Iraqi militias, Peter Moore is alive with a chance of being released. Humphrey Hawksley, BBC News.

Oliver August includes an interesting aside deep in his report, "The staggered return of the hostages is part of a quid-pro-quo deal brokered by the Iraqi Prime Minister, who met representatives of the kidnappers two months ago. The League of the Righteous has apparently renounced violence and is seeking to enter the open political process ahead of parliamentary elections next year." Nouri and his friends are so very close. Some say it was this close nature that allowed them to successfully kidnap 5 British citizens to begin with.

July 29th, the families of the hostages held a press conference. Haley Williams is the mother of Alec's child and she spoke at the press conference noting the British government's statements that Alec and Alan were thought to be dead.

Haley Williams: These reports are the worst possible news for us but we continue to hope that they cannot be true. But whatever Alec's condition, he no longer should remain in Iraq. We appeal to those holding him to please send him home to us. I speak to you as the mother of Alec's son. We are not the people holding your men but I do understand your feelings cause you're going through the same pain we are going through. If we had any influence over the release of your men we would release them to you but we don't. Please send him home because as a family we can't cope with this anymore."

Martin Chulov (Guardian) reported:

The release of the third body had been widely anticipated since members of the Righteous League were hosted by the Iraqi prime minister, Nour al-Maliki, in July. The group, which has strong links to the Lebanese Hezbollah, has been campaigning for political legitimacy in the run-up to national elections in January.Britain has maintained a policy of not negotiating with the hostage takers and moves towards the release of the captives have been handled by Iraqi mediators, who have attempted to convince them that legitimacy will remain out of reach as long as they hold hostages.
In one positive sign, the group promised in August to lay down its weapons and join the political process. Over the past three months, up to 15 high-profile members of the Righteous League have been freed from American custody in Iraq.

Today the
US military issued the following announcement: "CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE SPEICHER, TIKRIT, Iraq -- Two Multi-National Division - North Soldiers were killed and five wounded in a vehicle rollover accident in the Diyala province of northern Iraq Sept. 2. The names of the deceased are 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 incident is under investigation." ICCC is currently down [they note a server crash and that they are working to get the site back up] but the announcement should bring the number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war to 4338. (It was 4336 on Sunday.) We'll stay with today's reported violence.


Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing which injured three people, a second Baghdad roadside bombing which resulted in five people wounded, a Baghdad sticky bombing targeting the Sahwa ("Awakenings" or "Sons Of Iraq") which resulted in eight people being injured (four were Sahwa), a Mosul roadside bombing which claimed the life of 1 police officer, another Mosul roadside bombing which injured two people, a third Mosul roadside bombing which claimed the life of 1 police officer, a fourth Mosul roadside bombing which injured three people, a Babil car bombing and four other Babil bombings which claimed 4 lives and left sixty-five people wounded, a Baquba car bombing which wounded four people, a roadside bombing outside Karbala which claimed 2 lives and left three people injured and, dropping back to yesterday, a Tal Afar suicide bomber who invaded a home and killed the wife and husband and then detonated his bomb when the police showed up wounding seven of them and an Iraqi soldier. Reuters notes a Mussayab bombing at a mosque which claimed 4 lives and left twenty-four people injured and, dropping back to yesterday, a Ramadi suicide bombing that left five people wounded (four were police).

July 28th was when the assault on Camp Ashraf by Nouri al-Maliki's 'troops' began. During Saddam's time, Iranian exiles were allowed safe harbor in Iraq. The exiles were leftists who were opposed to the religious fundamentalist leaders following the toppling of the Shah (the exiles did not favor the Shah). They utilized violence and are known as the People's Mujahedeen Organization of Iran or the MEK. They remained in Iraq in the 80s, the 90s and this decade. The European Union and England are among the organizations and countries that listed the MEK as a terrorist group -- past tense. The MEK has renounced violence and was removed from the terrorist listing. The US still has the MEK listed as a terrorist organization. There were efforts to remove it from that listing by Congress beginning in 2008; however, the previous administration wasn't interested in that or anything else to do with MEK. It is a hot button issue and it was ignored repeatedly by the Bush administration. This is one of the hot potatoes dropped into the current administration's lap.Repeating (for friends in the administration who have become whiners), Camp Ashraf is a hot potato that was dropped into the lap of the current administration. The outgoing administration made promises to Nouri and promises to Camp Ashraf. They also declared it protected under the Geneva Conventions.While it was a hot potato and unexpected, they were aware of how serious it was following the election. (To be clear, it was an obvious problem prior to the election and any observer could have known that. It was only after the election, during the weeks of information being passed on and relayed from outgoing to incoming, that they realized just how explosive it was due to a lot of empty promises made to both sides by the Bush administration. As that became clear, it was tasked to two people who were supposed to lead on the issue. They did not lead. They carved it out and removed it from the State Dept -- long before Hillary was asked to be Secretary of State -- and were supposed to lead on the issue. They did not lead. That is among the reasons -- there are at least four primary ones -- that Vice President Joe Biden was recently put in charge of Iraq.)As happened with the Bush administration in the fall of 2008, Nouri promised that he had no intention of assaulting Camp Ashraf. (To its credit, the Bush administration strongly suspected Nouri was lying. They were right.)AP's Kim Gamel files an in-depth report on Camp Ashraf and notes the video of the US military (who protected Camp Ashraf prior to the start of 2009) near the camp as the assault begins, with bloodied camp residents pleading for help to US "soldiers [who] get into a white SUV and roll up their windows as the bloodied men plead for help."Well they bellowed, and they hollered And they threw each other down Down in this valley This cruel and lovely valley Oh it should have been an alley In some low down part of town As the lights came up There was no sun And brandy splattered all over the ground As this woman with her head held high Yelled love and why oh why You're killing me, oh follow me As I watched safe and clean From the frosted windows of my limousine -- "Memorial Day," written by Carly Simon, from her album Spy. [Spy features the classic "Never Been Gone" and it is among the songs she's redone for Never Been Gone, Carly's latest (and mainly acoustic) album which will be released October 27th. (The album also contains two new compositions.)] Gamel quotes an anonymous "senior US military official" stating, "We could not become decisively engaged with a situation that really is up to the sovereign Iraqi government to settle in a peaceful manner as they have assured us that they would do. Even in a situation that allowed engagement, we didn't have nearly the amount of forces present to jump in the middle of this fray."
So why is the US military still in Iraq? Why is a long 'withdrawal' of "combat" troops planned when that will only create more moments where the US military can't step forward and watches as an assault takes place. Which is one of the scenarios then-Senator Joe Biden tossed out during an April 2008 Senate Foreign Relations committee hearing he chaired. Another was that the US military remaining on the ground in Iraq would be utilized to prop up Nouri's government and attack Iraqi civilians. So why is the US not leaving immediately and quickly? Exactly how long will thug of the occupation Nouri be humored?

Oliver August (Times of London) reports on the 'plan' to withdraw US "combat" troops from Iraq and he paints it as incredible difficult, "a logistics feat," when it is no such thing. There were more US service members in Vietnam in 1972 than are in Iraq now and George McGovern ran for the presidency with a plan to withdraw all in six weeks. It was possible.When tensions at home required Georgia (country, not US state) to withdraw their military at the start of 2008, they did so quickly demonstrating that the US could, in fact, do a complete and full withdrawal in six weeks.Anyone who tells you it's not possible is either uninformed or a liar. As commander in chief, all Barack has to do is give the order and the US military would make it happen. "A more difficult task is the removal of 100,000 vehicles, including tanks," August writes. But then goes on to note: "After six years of heavy use, much of the US military's equipment is in a bad state. Bases are littered with broken air-conditioners, leaking generators and discarded barbecues."Exactly. The bulk of the machinery does not need to be brought back and, check out the military's wishlist, you'll see that a large number of things being brought back are due to be replaced shortly.Give it to Iraq. Give it to Kuwait. Over half the equipment and machinery can easily be transported out of Iraq (with all US troops, ALL) in six weeks. A little over third of the equipment and machinery does not need to be brought back. Which really means that the inventory would have to be reviewed and some choices to do a FULL withdrawal in six weeks.Barack's not doing a withdrawal. He's removing "combat" troopos. We've long noted that more than 50,000 US troops would remain in Iraq -- we've noted that since the election. And that's because, as repeatedly pointed out, that's what the White House has been saying privately. Oliver August doesn't address the fact that the press began whispering in sotto voice in the last 13 or so days that, golly, 75,000 US troops may remain in Iraq. (After the 'withdrawal' of 'combat' troops.) George F. Will (Washington Post) has a column calling for withdrawal today. We'll go into that tonight in "I Hate The War." Unlike Peter Hart, I promise not to go off topic to snark on Will and we'll instead focus on reality and what's taking place (which we've noted repeatedly in the Thursday night entries was coming).July 28th, a Baghdad bank, Rafidain Bank, was robbed and eight security guards were killed as millions were taken out of the bank. Yesterday, four of the nine robbers were sentenced to death by hanging. Some of the robbers were body guards for Abdel Mahdi, Iraq's Shi'ite vice president. Today Rod Nordland and Riyahd Mohammed write a major piece for the New York Times entitled "In Bank Killings, Highs and Lows of Iraq Justice" filled with details that haven't made it into the paper before. Possibly, they can be so free with the information because they tie a ribbon around it? They note one of the nine was aquitted and four are missing. But then they get to that you-see-Timmy moment (see Speechless starring Michael Keaton and Geena Davis where he explains a speech needs a you-see-Timmy moment, end of the episode of Lassie where an episode and life lesson is quickly summed up):But the suspected ringleaders, with well-known ties to the Shiite political elite, have escaped. Even so, the Zuwiya robbery also demonstrated in some rickety way that Iraq's young institutions, the judiciary, the news media and its increasingly democratic politics, make it difficult for even the country's most powerful people to snap their fingers and make an embarrassing case go away. As details emerged, the vice president and his party, the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, the largest Shiite grouping, would suffer a public relations body blow, one that may well affect Mr. Abdul Mahdi's ambitions to become the next prime minister in elections in January. "I am sure Adel Abdul Mahdi was not involved," said Ahmad Abdulhussein, a journalist threatened for an article he wrote on the case. "But the Iraqi people have to think, do they want a leader who has bodyguards who rob banks and kill?" Possibly because the verdict and (limited) trial can be spun as "Iraqi justice on the move!" the readers of today's paper can finally learn some of the efforts on the part of Abdul Mahdi to stop the proceedings? Strangely, the paper continues to avoid the attacks on the press. For example, they included Mahdi and his party threatening Iraqi newspapers that printed stories of the robbers connections to the vice president (and in one case, they sued a paper for such reporting).
The reporters tell you that five of the nine robbers were Mahdi's bodyguards. That lawsuit? It involves details like that. Details that the Times was silent on in real time while an Iraqi paper struggling to report was under attack. And it involved bullying journalists who write opinion pieces. Ahmed Abdul Hussain wrote "800,000 blankets" for Al Sabah and it was social satire. A concept that members of the Shi'ite vice president's political party especailly refused to grasp.Maybe noting the lawsuit and the bullying and blustering wouldn't have allowed a you-see-Timmy moment? But it would have meant that (a) readers could get the truth and (b) an Iraqi paper struggling to utilize freedom-of-the-press got some backing from a heavy weight who could well afford to toss some support into the ring.Another thing harming the life lesson is the fact that the judge in the case refuses to be identified in any reporting. If things were progressing as brightly and shiningly as everyone keeps saying, that wouldn't happen, now would it?If you
go to Al Jazeera, you'll see the names of the four convicted (Ali Eidan, Basheer Khalid, Ali Ouda and Ahmad Khalaf) as well as this detail:Most of the money was later recovered in the office of a newspaper owned by Adel Abdul-Mahdi, the Iraqi vice president and a senior member of Iraq's largest Shia party, investigators said.Abdul-Mahdi has denied any involvement saying one of those charged in the robbery worked as part of his security team.He has said any suggestions of wrongdoing on his part were a politically motivated attempt to sabotage his bid to be re-elected in next January's polls.

Last week
Agnes Callamard (Guardian) tackled the proposed draft-law in Iraq which is seen as an effort to destroy a free press and among the points she explained was this one:

When local media workers express their concerns about the draft journalists' protection law, one of the issues they point to is the extremely
narrow definition of a journalist as "one who works for press … and who is affiliated with the Iraqi Journalists' Syndicate". This specifically excludes editors, commentators, bloggers, citizen journalists and freelancers who may also be in the business of providing information and comment to the public sphere.

Friday August 21st, Inside Iraq's Jasim Al-Azzawi addressed the topic of press freedom in Iraq with panelists Jane Arraf (Christian Science Monitor), Saad al-Muttalibi (Ministry of National Dialogue) and Freshta Raper (Iraqi reporter).

Jassim al-Azzawi: Jane Arraf let me start with you, in light of the powerful bombs in Baghdad yesterday [Black Wednesday, August 19th] killing scores of people, is it still relevant for us to discuss an issue like freedom of the press in Iraq?

Jane Arraf: That's a great question and certainly as journalists I think we definitely have an interest in discussing this. But for the rest, I think, what that attack does, that horrifying attack which really shook so much that we thought was at the heart of the improving security here, it shows what the stakes are. That these are life and death stakes and that journalists are part of that and that's the atmosphere they're not only trying to cover but the events they are trying to convey and the threat that the government feels in responding to journalists.

Jassam al-Azzawi: And yet, Saad al-Muttalibi, in the package we've just seen we saw Jalal Talibani, the Iraqi president, in a way sniping at the Iraqi journalists and the Iraqi media for somehow covering the Rafidain robbery and there are enough circumstantial evidence to implicate the Iraqi vice president Abdul Mahdi. Why Jalal Talabani being so super sensitive?

Saad al-Muttalibi: Well start with we're in the process of building a stable state and that requires legislation and that requires that even at the darkest moments to look at the press, freedom of the press, and to look at other aspects of the state of Iraq. And I'm not here to defend anybody, I'm just saying that there were no evidence. For somebody to write a piece, an article in a state-owned newspaper and claim that he knew in advance that somebody, anybody has the intention of doing the robbery and buying blankets and distributing the blankets through -- during the elections, that sounds to me like going out of the norm, this is not media reporting, this is accusation and without any evidence. I mean the journalists didn't have any evidence for his case. A journalist's job is uh to produce the news uh to convey the news and events that happen in the country and as truthfully and honest as possible and but not to make interpretation, their own interpretation of events. Thank you.

Jassim al-Azzawi: Freshta Raper, of course that journalist is in hiding right now fearing for his life. The article he wrote pretty much is a tongue-in-cheek, political satire if you will, rather than a direct accusation. But let me talk to you about yourself. You are one of the Iraqi journalists, if I'm not mistaken, whose name is on a list. Tell us about it.

Freshta Raper: Last year, last year exactly, just July to say of a year ago, I -- the paper has leaked from the KRG [Kurdistan Regional Government] official offices that 14 journalists are the most wanted and has to be take care of and we even -- again we make sure that this was a genuine statement. I personally sent a letter e-mailed to Nechirvan Barzani personally sent to the Iraqi the embassy, we sent a letter to everyone of them to make sure this is genuine or is this a joke because if this is a joke, this is a sick joke to threaten people with killing. They have been doing it for many years and Jalal Talabani has to condemn this because he has a lot for himself to cover up, a lot of dirty secrets what are they doing against the journalists. The only thing I have done in the past four or five years, I'm writing more as criticizing the abuse of power, the corruption, and there are billions of evidence over there of how they misuse the power and how they are abusing people and abusing the system in a daily light. So I am -- I am one of those who could become a victim and at the time I was a lucky one. The person in Baghdad, I feel sorry for.

Jassim al-Azzawi: And you are remarkably lucky in the sense that you live in London and you contribute to the news and you appear on the news but, Jane Arraf, not everybody is as luck as Freshta. Iraq has been for the last few years perhaps the most dangerous place on earth. More Iraqis as well as foreign journalists have been killed in Iraq than in any other war zone and you have covered many of these war zones.

Jane Arraf: Absolutely I think they're some of the bravest people on the earth and one of the amazing things about this past six years has been that throughout the tragedy Iraqi journalists really keep coming out and trying to tell the news. Now they are working in a very difficult background. This is a new industry. Press freedom here is not developed as we're talking about. There also aren't a lot of entrenched standards for the press but one of the things that you see over and over is just an absolute proliferation of journalists who, despite the fact that almost 200 journalists and media workers have been killed here, still feel that they are going to go out, go out on those streets, stand up to those officials and it's -- it's absolutely amazing.

Jassim al-Azzawi: And yet Saad Muttalibi, this proliferation Jane Arraf is talking about, you cannot help but seeing a tinge of sectarianism in it. Most of the newspapers and most of the TV stations and the radios somehow, one way or another, they are affiliated by or financed by this political party and that political party and they take a life of their own. They pretty much attack the others based on sectarian, on ethnicity and other calibrations.

Saad al-Muttalibi: Absolutely right. Hence we require regulations. We require laws to define rights and to define limitations. Journalists jobs in Iraq is probably the hardest job to do, the most dangerous job --

Jassim al-Azzawi: What will laws do if you have militias assigned to a political party? They do the actual on behalf of that political party if they're politicians are attacked.

Saad al-Muttalibi: I must interrupt you -- I must interrupt you. There are no militias anymore. [The two journalists on the panel react in disbelief to the statement.] The militias were crushed in a very bloody way last year and we have now remnants of gangs that could be --

Jassim al-Azzawi: Hold that statement for a second.

Jane Arraf: That's an extraordinary statement.

Jassim al-Azzawi: Jane wants to say something.

Jane Arraf: I'm sorry.

Jassim al-Azzawi: Go ahead Jane.

Jane Arraf: I was just going to say that would really be wonderful if that were the case but that's not the evidence that we are seeing, that we are hearing from Iraqis when we go out in the street. They're -- I think the consensus is that there are militias. There certainly are not the militias there were a year ago that is certainly true but there are places where militias are creeping back and a lot of it depends upon how you define militias.

Saad al-Muttalibi: Yes, you are -- yes, you are absolutely right. As I said --

Freshta Rape: Exactly

Saad al-Muttalibi: -- as I said there are still criminal elements and gangs roaming certain parts of-of Iraq. Including al Qaeda, including uh uh from this party or that party that is all possible. I'm sure Freshta could tell us more about the things in Kurdistan but -- but the case is that regulation is required. We do require to make sure that we safeguard the journalists. As I said, the journalist job in Iraq is very-very tough. So is the soldiers so is every individual living in Iraq now. I mean people who died yesterday in the explosion, they weren't journalists, they weren't soldiers, they were just passers-by. So things here in Baghdad are very, very dangerous and journalists know that. But journalists also need to know the limitation of journalism. They need to know that they cannot accuse any citizen in Iraq --

Jassim al-Azzawi: Indeed, indeed they should, Saad Muttalibi, but when it comes to the ultimate sacrifice -- hold on -- by somebody going after them and killing them, that is not the way to settle the political atmosphere, Freshta, is it?

Saad al-Muttalibi: Of course, of course, of course --

Freshta Raper: No, it's not --

Saad al-Muttalibi: I'm saying

Jassim al-Azzawi: Saad Muttalibi, hold on just a second

Freshta Raper: Sorry. It's caused more violation. I-I totally agree with Jane. It's what sort of militia we're talking about. It is different. But the militia of today in the street -- especially if I look at the north part of Iraq -- is-is almost an enormous number of youths, unemployed and skillful, they are deprived from job, deprived from basic rights. And they are angry, they are upset. They are -- these are the people contributing the violence because they have been ignored and they don't feel they are part of there. They are not brutal murders. They are not bad people. But they can't get a basic right like the son and the daughter of people in power. They've got all the privilege in the world and there is no equality. There is no equal opportunity between the normal people and the people's children in power. That is what causes all these violations. People are very, very angry. And the government officials mainly, they don't listen to poor people. The people outside their zone and outside their border And that is -- I'm 100% sure yesterday's bombing is caused from -- it's not al Qaeda but anger of people anger of people that they are crying and screaming for some sort of security or basic life or imporving that poverty. You go to Baghdad you look like a stoneage village, is just feel some area of Baghdad you just feel disgusted with the country of an ocean of oil and a region of such poverty.

"I'm standing on the banks of the Tigris River where the water is so low the banks are cracked and dry,"
declares NPR's Deborah Amos (Morning Edition). "There's been a two year drought decades of war and mismangement. But Iraq once had the most fertile lands in the region. The Tigris is a reminder that's there's an environmental disaster."It's an important report at any time but it's especially important at a time when Nouri's created an international incident with the Syrian government. Nouri's attempting to force them to hand over to guests in their country, former Ba'athists. And since the law isn't on Nouri's side, he's resorted to bluster. As the tensions have risen, Turkey was presented as a broker in the dispute.A broker?Iraq and Syria will listen to Turkey why?As Deborah Amos pointed out, Iraq's suffering from a drought. Turkey has water. Some say it has water as a result of damns. Some in Iraq say that.Ivan Watson and Yesim Comert (CNN) report ministers of the three countries met in Anakara today and the topic was water: "Baghdad and Damascus want Turkey, where the source of the Tigris and Euphrates is located, to increase the flow of water passing through its network of dams." Ibon Villelabeitia and Diana Abdallah (Reuters) report, "Turkey has failed to meet a pledge to release more water down the Euphrates and Tigris rivers to Iraq, an Iraqi minister said on Thursday, and called for a coordinated water policy in the region."

Monday's snapshot included comments on the hideous article in the New York Times Sunday. Tuesday, Peace Mom Cindy Sheehan offered her critique of the article:

The New York Times ran an article on Sunday claiming that after a long period of dormancy, the "anti-war" movement was getting "restive" and planned to do some actions in October around the 8th anniversary of the invasion of Afghanistan. Well, some of us have been restive and working for years and the groups that are now becoming "restive" are the very ones that let the War Genie out of the bottle, and will have a lot of problems putting it back in, if that is really the intention of these groups. The "restive anti-war movement" is planning "teach-ins" and "memorials" but not planning on surrounding the White House and demanding that their leader bring the troops home from all theaters of war and then threatening to withhold support if he doesn't. The "restive anti-war movement" will not do anything it thinks will compromise Democratic chances in the 2010 midterms. I have two questions to ask of the "restive anti-war movement." 1) How did the people of Iraq/Afghanistan lose value as human beings when the Democrats took over power in 2007? 2) How did the people of Pakistan lose their value as humans when Obama became president at the beginning of the year? The born-again "restive anti-war movement" allowed the Democratic Party to suck the wind out of our sails in 2007 and it is almost like we will have to start from scratch. "Give Him a chance," they say. "He's better than McCain," they say. "If you question Him then you're a racist," they say. I say "go to Iraq-Af-Pak and tell these things to the people who are being drone bombed for simply having the nerve to want to get married." Give Him a chance for what? No thanks, keep the change!
That's an excerpt, read the whole thing. We will include all the resource links Cindy notes:

Go here for more information about the October 5th protests.Go here to view a great interview that Cindy did with Russian TV this past week in Martha's Vineyard.Go here to listen to last week's Soapbox with attorney, Ellen Brown who talks about monetary policy.Go here to donate to our continuing efforts for peace.

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ivan watsonyesim comertcnnreutersibon villelabeitiadiana abdallahnprdeborah amosmorning editionoliver augustthe times of london
martin chulovdeborah haynes
the guardianagnes callamard
cindy sheehan
the christian science monitorjane arraf