Thursday, April 30, 2009

Why there are so few women columnists

Why do we not have more women columnists?

Sexism to be sure.

It is equally true that so many women take themselves out of the role.

For example, find a young woman who made her name online who is now a columnist somewhere? You cannot.

You can find many men.

Ana Marie Cox was already a political writer (for various publications including In These Times) before Wonkette.

But at the awful Wonkette, at least she pretended to care about politics.

So when they needed a political columnist, there was Ms. Cox.

But while males have lept from blogs, none of the women have. As Jessica Valente and so many other demonstrate, they cannot even translate blog success to book sales.

But they cannot land a column spot.

The reason for that is that columnist are supposed to have beats.

Even today, when it is all so blurry, they are supposed to have a beat. You read E.J. Dionne, you expect he will be writing about politics. You read Paul Krugman, you expect that he will be writing about the economy.

But the do-me feminist set online? They think they can write about everything.

That is all very well and good until it turns out that they actually want to make a living off their writing.

In which case, they should have behaved professionally.

I do not mean that they would have to forego their swear words. I know they could not live without their swear words.

I do mean they should have demonstrated they could cover a beat.

They should have demonstrated they could work a beat.

Instead, they are all over the map and who is going to hire that?

E.J. Dionne retires tomorrow and The Washington Post needs a new political columnist covering the horse race aspect and Congress. You might go to Atrios or any number of men. Which women would you go to?

There really are not any. (Leave out the ones already writing for political publications.)

That is due to the fact that Feminising, Feministe, and all the rest play hop-scotch when they should be defining their beat if they really think they have it in them to write professionally.

All they have to 'shop' is the fact that they are foul-mouthed versions of Erma Bombeck.

Covering a beat was too much for them.

But they think they can be professional journalists which makes it all so very funny.

They have dug their own graves.

This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for today and do not miss her critique of the push-up bra, do-me feminists set:

Thursday, April 30, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, bombings continue throughout Iraq, Robert Gates wants money, money, money, there is no real improvement in veterans' health care in the US, Thomas E. Ricks respond to someone's Cliff Notes, England is kind-of out of Iraq (kind-of), two US soldiers testify against Steven D. Green in his War Crimes trial, Ryan Crocker says the US may be in Iraq past 2011, and more.

Tony Capaccio (Bloomberg News) reported that US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates appeared before the Senate Appropriations Committee -- as did US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton -- and he asked for the 'supplemental' funding of the Iraq War and Afghanistan War (an $83.4 billion request) to be pushed through "as quickly as possible" because by the end of next month, he claims, "we will need to consider options to delay running out of funds" if the 'supplemtnal' is not approved. The money is also needed for Pakistan -- a country the US is not officially at war with but one in which the newly sworn in President Barack Obama bombed as one of his first acts of office. Don't confuse the supplemental with the money the DoD is begging for to carry out wars in fiscal year 2010. That's other money, more money. The US tax payer money which will go down the sinkhole as well. This morning US Senator Carl Levin noted that FY 2010 request at the start of the Senate Armed Services Committee which he chairs, "Most of the changes will no doubt be in the detailed budget for 2010 that we now expect next Thursday and we're also planning on Secretary Gates testifying on that detailed budget the following Thursday which is two weeks ago today." [I left shortly after that to attend a hearing on veterans. Kat has some stuff she intends to note tonight on this hearing which she attended all the way through. Tuesday the snapshot covered the Senate Foreign Relations Committee's hearing on the War Powers Resolution of 1973 and Kat shared her thoughts on the hearing here and here she shared her thoughts on last Thursday's House Armed Services Committee's Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs.]

Most likely the DoD will get all the money they have asked for and they will get with little to no oversight. Underfunded is every other area in American life including veterans health care. And the funding is only part of the problems, there is also the refusal on the part of the VA to be accountable and the refusal on the part of Congress to hold the VA accountable. This morning, US House Rep Michael Michaud declared, "We are here today to talk about the VA's progress on meeting the mental health needs of our veterans. Specifically, we will discuss issues of funding and implementation of the Mental Health Strategic Plan and the Uniform Mental Health Services Handbook." He was bringing the US Veterans' Affairs Committee's Subcommittee on Health hearing to order (
click here for his opening statement) and, before the hearing was over, everyone would learn just how little was being accomplished by the VA. The issue of the quality of health care for veterans and those serving was the topic of yesterday morning's House Armed Services Committee's Military Personnel Subcommittee hearing chaired by US House Rep Susan Davis (noted in yesterday's snapshot) as well as yesterday afternoon's US Senate Committee on Armed Services' Personnel Subcommittee hearing. We're going to jump back and forth between this morning's House Subcomittee and yesterday's Senate Subcommittee.

An the morning hearing, Adrian Atizado (Disabled American Veterans) thanked the Veterans' Affairs Subcommitee and the Congress for their "continued support" but then noted, "Nevertheless we believe much still needs to be accomplished to fulfill our obligations to those who have serious mental illness and post-deployment mental health challenges." And you have to wonder why that is?

Yesterday's Senate Armed Subcommittee hearing featured opening remarks by Chair Ben Nelson and Ranking Member Lindsey Graham. Senator Nelson noted that, "We all remember February 18, 2007. The day the first in a series of articles appeared describing problems faced by our wounded warriors receiving care in out patient status. Many of these service members who are wounded or injured in service to our nation were living in substandard facilities, were unaccounted for and were fighting there way through a bungled, adversarial administrative process to rate their disabilities. After they left DoD care, they had to start all over with the VA and many fell through the cracks in the transition. And as a result of these articles and various reports on wounded warriors transition policies and programs, Congress passed the Wounded Warriors Act which was incorporated into the Fiscal Year 2008 National Defense Authorization Act. The Wounded Warrior Act, among many other things, required the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs to work jointly to implement a comprehensive set of policies to improve the care, management and transition of recovering, wounded, ill and injured service members."

The February 18, 2007 article Nelson was referring to was Dana Priest and Anne Hull's "
The Other Walter Reed" (Washington Post) -- click here for the Post's Walter Reed articles and Priest, Hull and photographer Michel du Cille won the Pulitzer for their coverage. Senator Graham noted in his opening remarks, "People care a lot. There's a lot of bureaucracy out there that cares a lot, we've just go to get it focused on doing the best job it can." That was only underscored this morning in an exchange during the final panel as US House Rep Jerry Moran asked the VA's Dept Chief Consultant from the Office of Mental Health Services about something that should have been implemented some time ago.

US House Rep Jerry Moran: The question is, it's been nearly two-and-a-half years since the Veterans Benefits, Health Care and Information Technology Act of 2006 was signed into law. The legislation added licensed marriage and family therapists, MFTS, and licensed professional mental health counselors, LPC, to the list of eligible VA health care providers. I thought at the time that they would provide -- this would be a great opportunity for the VA to expand its ability to meet the needs of veterans and have championed this cause but, two-and-a-half years later, I've seen little evidence that the VA has actually implemented the law. Is there an explanation? A justifable explanation for the delay or am I misunderstood -- understand the situation?

Dr. Amptmette Zeiss: Well we welcome the question. We welcome the question. At this point, we have met extensively with the professional organizations that represent both licensed professional counselors and marriage and family therapists through our office in mental health and have been very impressed with the potential to add these professionals to the team that would serve veterans. The -- the issues are with Human Resources. The law also stated very clearly that new titled -- hybrid titled 38 job series needed to be created for each of these, that they were not -- the law did not allow them to enter through the mechanism of other existing series. So there are a number of licensed professional counselors and marriage and family therapists who work in VA under other series and that has continued to increase and we look forward, as you do, to HR reaching the point of having the qualification standards developed and having the hybrid title 38 job series in place so that they can be hired directly under the auspices of their professions.

US House Rep Jerry Moran: So there's no impediment from the health care side of VA? This is what I would describe as the bureaucratic process of bringing these people onto the payroll?

Dr. Amptmette Zeiss: We do not -- yeah, we certainly support this and have tried to be very available to these organizations and to feed forward information to support the process of developing these new hybrid title 38 job series.

US House Rep Jerry Moran: Mr. Chairman, we've been through this numerous times. We've tried to add professional categories to the VA's list of appropriate providers. Chiropractors are one [example]. It is an enormous undertaking apparently and I would welcome anyone on the committee who would like to work with me to see if we can't get the VA to move in a more expeditious manner. I think this is important. While we're sitting her talking about the lack of professionals, there's an opportunity for these services to be provided and yet, because of the nature of the VA and it's credentially and accounting process, it's not happening. And I think it's not only disappointing to me, to the professionals who want to provide the services, but more important it means that there are veterans who could be served but are not because of the bureaucratic nature of the VA's process.

"Every American wants us to get this right. This has got nothing to do with party politics," Senator Graham declared yesterday with Senator Nelson agreeing "there's nothing partisan about the need for care for our men and women and their families who serve our country in so many ways." So why is it that nearly three years after something should have been implemented, it's not? Don't give that crap about Human Resources. Congress might buy it but no one else will. Congress doesn't work in the real world. They're removed from the day-to-day. Anyone working in any remotely corporate or government setting, however, damn well knows that it doesn't take a year to -- or even six months -- to write up a new classification for employees. More importantly, when you're instructed to do so by Congress, it shouldn't even take you three months to do so. Moran was polite and nice to Dr. Zeiss and he shouldn't have been. There was no reason to or to ask her to work with him on this. As the Deputy Chief Consultant, it is her job to ensure that the process is moving along and if and when it's not, she either makes it move along or she screams bloody murder to Congress to let them know it's not working. She certainly doesn't wait two-and-a-half years to bring it up -- and then only because she was asked. That's ridiculous.

But ridiculous was who else was on the panel with her this morning. Yesterday, Senator Graham was rightly noting that we should (he said "would") hold people who are supposed to be providing the care responsible for the level of care they provide. Well then explain how Ira Katz not only sat on the fourth panel but remains employed by the VA?

Exactly one year ago US Senators Daniel Akaka and Patty Murray (who both serve on the Senate Vetarans Affiars Committee, with Akaka being the Chair) were calling for Katz to be fired. Why the hell is he still employed by the VA? For those who've forgotten, you can refer to this original CBS New report, this update and
this report by CBS News' Pia Malbran which notes:

For months, CBS News has been trying to obtain veteran suicide and attempted suicide data from the VA. Earlier this year, the agency provided CBS News with data that showed there were a total of 790 suicide attempts in all of 2007 by veterans who were under the VA's care. On February 13, however, Katz sent an e-mail indicating the total number of attempts was much higher.
The e-mail was addressed to his top media advisor Everett Chasen and entitled, "Not for the CBS News Interview Request." Katz wrote: "Shh! Our suicide prevention coordinators are identifying about 1000 suicide attempts per month among veterans we see in our medical facilitates." He then asked "is this something we should (carefully) address ourselves in some sort of release before someone stumbles on it?" In another e-mail message, Katz told the VA's Under Secretary for Health, Michael Kussman, that there are "about 18 suicides per day among America's 25 million veterans." This is a figure that the VA has never made public.

And let's drop back for the
April 25, 2008 snapshot:

Thursday on the Senate floor, during a vote on the Veterans' Benefits Enhancement Act, Murray stated the following:

And just this week, we got more evidence that the Administration has been covering up the extent of the toll this war has taken on our troops. Internal e-mails that became public in a court hearing show that the VA has vastly downplayed the number of suicides and suicide attempts by veterans in the last several years. Last November, an analysis by CBS News found that over 6,200 veterans had committed suicide in 2005 -- an average of 17 a day.
When confronted, VA officials said the numbers were much lower. But according to the internal e-mails from the VA's head of Mental Health -- Dr. Ira Katz -- 6,570 veterans committed suicide in 2005 -- an average of 18 a day. The e-mails also revealed that VA officials know that another 1,000 veterans -- who are receiving care at VA medical facilities -- attempt suicide each month.
Mr. President, these numbers offer tragic evidence that our nation is failing thousands of veterans a year. And they reflect an Administration that has failed to own up to its responsibilities, and failed even to own up to the true impact of the war on its veterans.
What is most appalling to me is that this is not the first time the VA has covered up the problems facing veterans who sacrificed for our country. Time and again, the VA has told us one thing in public -- while saying something completely different in private. It is outrageous to me that VA officials would put public appearance ahead of people's lives. Yet, Mr. President, it appears that is what has happened again.
When we -- as members of Congress -- sit down to determine the resources to give the VA, we must have a true picture of the needs. And if there's a problem, we have to act. It's our duty -- and the duty of the Administration -- to care for veterans. By covering up the true extent of that problem, the VA has hindered our ability to get those resources to the veterans who need them. That is irresponsible, and it's wrong.

Senator Daniel K. Akaka has joined Murray in calling for Ira Katz' resignation.
So why is he offering testimony to Congress this morning and why the hell should anyone believe a word he says? April 24, 2008, Senator Murray questioned the VA's deputy chief and explained, "I used to teach preschool, and when you bring up a 3-year-old and tell them they have to stop lying, they understand the consequences. The VA doesn't." And when people like Ira Katz remain in their jobs, they never will understand the consequences. The most embarrassing moment in this morning's hearing -- and there were many -- was when US House Rep Jerry McNerney declared, "Dr. Katz, I certainly want to thank you for your service to our country through our veterans." What world is he living in? In what world has Dr. Katz earned a "thank you" for his "service . . . through our veterans"? He hasn't been and what that indicates is McNerney needs to do a lot more work before showing up at hearings. That is shameful and it is offensive. The man should have been fired. Bad enough that he wasn't. But he certainly hasn't done a damn thing to warrant public praise from the Congress.

US House Rep Vic Snyder: In your statements you make reference to the need to perhaps add other employees to CBOC [Community Based Outpatined Clinic] to handle mental health issues is -- did I read your statement right?

Ira Katz: Well there's been extensive enhancements in VA mental health staffing including staffing in CBOC.

US House Rep Vic Snyder: How do you -- how do you do that when those are private contractors that have got a set amount of overhead? You can't just pick up the phone and say, 'Put on two more people.'

Ira Katz: Some clinical based -- some community based outpatient clinics are contract based. Most are VA owned and operated with federal employees.

US House Rep Vic Snyder: So you don't do that to the ones that are contract based?

Ira Katz: We're committed to enhancing services, ensuring we provide or make available the services that veterans need. Whether we provide them by VA employees, by contract or fee based or other mechanisms.

US House Rep Vic Snyder: May I just add for the record then, why don't you respond to the question: How do you do an enhancement of mental health services at a privately contracted CBOC since they have a contractual arrangement with a set overhead?

Ira Katz: I will have to take that for the record, thank you.

How typical for Ira Katz, unable to answer a question. The Office of Inspector General's Dr. Michael Sheperd (testifying on the third panel) noted, "One of the issues which we cited and which the previous panel cited is, for example, in terms of provisions of evidence based treatments for PTSD. In the absence of knowing who you've provided these treatments to, whether they've done part of these treatments, completed these treatments, whether they've opted not to pursue these treatments -- in the absence of a data system that's able to capture that, you really down the road don't know -- you don't have the structure you need to make outcome judgments in terms of evidence based therapies for PTSD." Considering Ira Katz' history and the VA's history in general on PTSD, it's very difficult to see this problem as anything but an effort to distort the 'help' being given for PTSD and make it appear far more sufficient than it actually is. Dr. Sheperd note, "We think there's a real urgent need for VA to adjust their data [. . .] to allow for what type of services were provided, not just that a service was provided." And it's a real shame that obvious point has to come from outside the VA. Dropping back to yesterday's Senate Subcommittee, many important stories were shared on the first panel which was made up of veterans and the spouses of veterans. We'll note this exchange because it does go to the huge costs that are pushed onto veterans and their families. Kimberly Noss is the wife of Scot Noss. Scot Noss was 29-years-old and serving in Afghanistan when the MH-47Chinook Helicopter he was flying in crashed February 18, 2007. Kimberly Noss was on the first panel.

Senator Kay Hagan: Dr. Noss, I have a question for you. You husband is currently, I think you said, is in Tampa, so he's still in the -- in care?

Kimberly Noss: Yes, he is. He's still in patient in Tampa, the Polytrauma Unit.

Senator Kay Hagan: And what do you -- when he -- will he leave? Will he be sent some place else? What's his long term prognosis of where he might go?

Kimberly Noss: He's going home with me.

Senator Kay Hagan: He'll be able to come home?

Kimberly Noss: Well we're going to make it where he can come home. I don't believe in putting him in a nursing facility for a long term.

Senator Kay Hagan: Well then from the standpoint of any sort of financial help to you at that point and time, what is -- what is the VA established for that?

Kimberly Noss: They do have a benefit package that Scott will receive every month and it is a substantial amount of money; however, the net income will be -- will be small because you have to take into consideration our bills that we will incur in a month. For example, I know of a family who has a quadriplegic -- he's quadriplegic and he's on a vent and because of the 24 hour having power source, the venelator, and his bed -- has a special type of bed that's hooked up to power, they're electric bill is over a thousand dollars a month. And because of that, the special care that Scott's going to have to receive because of his injuries, even though the essential amount of benefit money that will come in per month, what we're going to have to pay for bills is large so the net is going to be small.

Katz will remain in his job, the Noss family and many others will continue to struggle but Robert Gates will get every dime (of American tax payer money) he is requesting. There have been no changes in our national priorities. Bully Boy Bush has been replaced with Bully Boy Barack and any differences between the two are merely cosmetic. Last night Barack held a press conference.
Corinne Reilly and Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) note Barack falsely asserted last night that "civilian deaths . . . remain very low compared to what was gong on last year." The reporters explains that "statistics kept by McClatchy show that in Baghdad alone, more than 200 people have been killed in attacks so far this month, compared with 99 last month and 46 in February, according to a McClatchy count. The last time McClatchy recorded more than 200 civilian deaths in one month in the capital was more than a year ago, in March 2008." Sam Dagher and Sudad al-Salhy (New York Times) note that throughout Iraq this month, the number of Iraqis killed thus far comes to "at least 300". Violence has been on the increase in Iraq starting in February after the latest waves of Operation Happy Talk told us January was a turned corner and peace was blooming like daises throughout Iraq. Yesterday's violence, and the pattern of last week's as well, led to a stark discussion on MSNBC Wednesday morning:

Brian Williams: [Speaking over video of the carnage from Wednesday's Baghdad bombings] We are back as part of this day long discussion of the Obama presidency this is an inextricable part of that. 41 people dead. New violence Sadr City this morning. That section of Baghdad that was in the news for so long for good reason. Seventy injuries here. As I said before the break, we are fortunate that our chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel has chosen to spend a little of his home leave with us here in New York before leaving again for Pakistan this coming Saturday. Richard's here with us in the studio. It's interesting watching you back in your home newsroom where we're all forced to communicate with you by telphone and home computer while you're away. People actually get to see you and talk to you. Invariably they say, 'Tell me what do you make of Iraq these days?' And what do you tell them? Richard Engel: I'm actually very concerned about what's going on in Iraq right now. We could be in the situation where there's the eye of the storm. Where things are quiet but it's starting to brew around the edges and it's starting to take -- to take force. The conflict in Iraq right now is at a very important turning point. It is the transition from a combat role, a war fighting role to a training role. Brian Williams: What everybody feared. Richard Engel: And the danger is that it's going to be an unclear mission for US troops. US troops are now confined mostly to their bases. What's going to happen in June is that they will legally be confined to their bases in most Iraqi cities and will only be able to operate with a warrant. Now we're seeing the Iraqi government flexing its muscles and the prime minister of Iraq, Maliki, is threatening to prosecute some American soldiers who were involved in a mission that the Iraqis say resulted in civilian casulities. So we're entering a grey area and I think that is a troubling thing considering that you have more than 100,000 troops on the ground.

On yesterday's violence,
Sam Dagher and Sudad al-Salhy (New York Times) review some of the hypotheses floating around Iraq: Ba'athists, al Qaeda in Mesopotami and/or Americans are responsible for yesterday's Sadr City bombings. Ernesto Londoño and Qais Mizher (Washington Post) offer Iraqi MP Ahmed al-Masudi who believes it is "Sunni extremists aided by Western intelligence agencies". Saif Hameed and Liz Sly (Los Angeles Times) quote Adnan Dawood who was wounded in the Sadr City bombings who asks, "How is this possible? There are three entrances to Sadr City and all are overseen by army checkpoints. What is the army dong? Are they there for only oppressing and arresting people?" And they quote eye witness Sabah Mohammed stating, "The army is not playing its role. When the army first came to Sadr City, I was happy, but now all they care about is hitting on girls and women. They don't inspect incoming cars. They only inspect them if there are women inside." Joel Brinkley (McClatchy Newspapers) sees puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki as as bearing the "primary resposibility for the violence" due to the fact that he's done very little for Iraq as a whole but a great deal for his own greedy ass: "His primary golas in office have been to protect the nation's Shiite citizens while also enriching himself and his aides. On his watch, Iraq's government has grown to be one of the two or three most corrupt on Earth." The violence continues today . . .


Laith Hammoudi and Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) report four Baghdad roadside bombings which left a total of thirteen people injured, a Mosul roadside bombing which left two people wounded and three Mosul roadside bombings last night which left eight people injured.


Laith Hammoudi and Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) report 1 Iraqi soldiers hot dead in Mosul and a KDP (Kurdistan Democratic Party) guard was shot dead in Mosul.


Laith Hammoudi and Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) report 3 corpses discovered in Tal Afar.

The plan was to cover Iraqi refugees today. There is no room for it. The topic will be covered in Friday's snapshot, my apologies.

March 12, 2006, Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi, a 14-year-old Iraqi girl, was gang-raped by two US soldiers while a third shot her parents and five-year-old sister dead before joining in the gang-rape and shooting Abeer dead after. This morning, Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) noted, "The trial of a former soldier accused in the 2006 rape and murder of an Iraqi teenager and the killing of her family has begun. Steven Green is accused of being the ringleader in raping and killing fourteen-year-old Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi and killing her parents and five-year-old sister. Green is being tried in a Kentucky civilian court. Three soldiers have already been sentenced to life in prison in the case." It would have been nice if Goodman could have called them War Crimes because that is what they are. But Goodman covered it. If only a headline, she did cover it and that only brings home how pathetic everyone else has been. KPFA Evening News, Free Speech Radio News and The KPFA Swine Flu Morning Show (seriously, listen to the daily garbage that crap-fest has offered this week) can't be bothered. They are far from alone. At (Democratic) Women's Media Center, you can find a bad piece of fluff written by Melissa Silverstein this week about a rape . . . in movies. (We'll leave it for others to debate whether or not it's rape, I haven't seen the film, I don't see any of Seth Rogan's films for obvious reasons.) Melissa Silverstein wants you to know that this is Sexaul Assault Awareness and Prevention month and what better way for her and Women's Media Center to observe that than by getting all worked up over a film that bombed at the box office? What better way? How about covering the trial?

I'm sorry, did Kentucky outlaw women? Maybe their borders were closed? Something to do with Swine Flu? If so, I'm sure The Morning Show is, or soon will be, on it with a half-hour segment. But a border closing must be why we're getting no news on the case from Women's Media Center. Or from Feminist Wire Daily. And what about our
Mud Flap Girls? The ones who put the woah-is-me into 'do-me' feminism? The chicky-baby-boom-booms of Baby Jessica's Feministing have gone all damn week without ever noting the trial. The losers of Feministe? Not a word. And unlike when Sandra Day O'Connor announced her retirement, no one can claim they were too busy posting vaction pictures of themselves in bikinis for two weeks to bother cover it. Feminist Law Professors? Apparently War Crimes don't interest the gals. Melissa McEwan and her posse of useless at Shakesville? Not a damn word. But cat blogging and baby photos they have time for. Being useless they always have time for.

Paul Cortez and James Barker were tried in military courts and entered pleas of guilty. Jesse Spielman was convicted in a military court of mutliple charges (rape, intent to rape, felony murder, etc.). Brian L. Howard entered a guilty plea to being an accessory. Yesterday Anthony Yribe offered testimony. Iran's Press TV reports Yribe stated that Steven Green had bragged of the War Crimes to him not once but twice "hours after the March 12, 2006 attack and again the next day."
Press TV notes: "Also on Wednesday, jurors saw photos taken by Yribe hours after the attack. The photos showed a mother, father and small girl lying in pools of blood with shotgun wounds. Other photos showed badly charred and barely recognizable human remains." AFP notes Yribe stated he didn't believe Green at first, "I wanted to know if he was serious or if it was just him talking. He said he was serious. He said he had done it alone. I said, 'You're dead to me, man.' I said that he needed to get out of the army and that if he didn't do it, that I was going to help him." Yribe didn't reveal the War Crimes. Asked why, he replied, "He's one of my brothers. I'm not going to tell on him. I'm half way protecting him and I half way didn't believe him . . . I don't know if I was just being naïve or what." Brett Barrouquere (AP) continues his years of coverage on this story and notes that the jury was shown photos Yribe took (as part of the military investigation) "hours after the attacks" when everyone (except those involved and Yribe) thought 'insurgents' were responsible for the crimes. Barrouquere notes, "Green sat at the defense table, rubbing his eyes, staring at Yribe and looking around the room." Today Jesse Spielman testified. AP notes that his testimony included their use of "ninja suits" and "ski masks" while executing the War Crimes. These were War Crimes and the silence among the faux feminists online goes a long way to explaining so many of the problems with the so-called third wave -- a subset who is happy to write about rape or domestic violence if they can find a film or a celebrity (Rhianna?) but can't manage to move their fat fingers across the keyboard when the victim's not going to be covered by Perez or TMZ.

England has officially ended 'combat operations' in Iraq today. So all the UK troops have been sent home! No. And it's not over for England. They've just drawn down from 4,000 to a lower number and will most likely keep at least 400 UK soldiers stationed in Iraq for five more years. The
Telegraph of London notes that 179 UK soldiers died in Iraq since the start of the illegal war (and they list all 179). James Hider (Times of London) reports on the ceremony at Basra Airport today which included the lowering of the British flag and which was attended by the UK Secretary of Defence John Hutton. CNN notes, "While Britain began closing down the combat operations in Basra, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki was in Britain for a meeting with his counterpart, Gordon Brown. The two discussed opening Iraq up to more investment opportunities." An inquiry into the illegal war has long been promised and postponed in England. The Telegraph of London notes that Conservative MP David Cameron immediately began calling for the inquiry and quotes him stating, "Now after years of foot dragging, I believe it is the time for the Government to announce a proper Franks-style inquiry. Instead of starting in many months' time, it should start right now." The paper's Thomas Harding quotes Liberal Democrat spokesperson Edward Davey dismissing the "threadbare excuses" and declaring, "Minister now owe it to the troops to talk to opposition parties about the remit for the inquiry." The paper's Damien McElroy reveals, "As it was confirmed that the government would hold an inquiry into the circumstances leading up to the war under Tony Blair's leadership, the flag was lowered on the last British combat operation in Basra after commanders handed over to an American brigade with a handshake." McElroy's source is John Hutton. Mark Deen (Bloomberg News) observes Gordon Brown, UK Prime Minister, and Nouri held a joint-press conference today where they praised 'progress' . . . from the safety of London.

And winding down with Iraq in books and speeches. First up, book notes. Thomas E. Ricks is the author of the bestseller
The Gamble: General David Petraeus and the American Military Adventure in Iraq 2006-2008. My opinion (expressed here before) it's not only a great book, it's the most important one on the war by a US author thus far. The book has been repeatedly distorted by people who apparently 'read' a book by studying the cover and asking themselves, "What do I think is inside?" Because opening a book and actually reading it is very scary. Oooooohhhh. In the April 22nd snapshot, Vijay Prashad huge distortion of the book was noted (and called out). Today Thomas E. Ricks (at Foreign Policy) notes his reaction to the gross distortions of his book which included contacting Prashad and explaining, "Your statement is flat wrong. I actually say that there is no prospect of victory in Iraq, and that we are stuck there for years to come even to reach a mediocre outcome. In addition, I also conclude that the surge failed. In fact, I don't think your comment could be written by anyone who actually has read the last 100 pages of my book." Prashad replies that his statements were his opinion. No, his opinion is Ricks wrote a good or bad book, Ricks got this or that wrong, Ricks 'wants to say . . . but won't come out and say . . .' Those are opinions. What Prashad did was completely distort the book Ricks wrote, state it concluded this and that when it never made those conclusions. On to speeches. In February, Ryan Crocker stepped down as the US Ambassador to Iraq. Martin Surridge (Walla Walla Union-Bulletin) covered a speech Crocker gave this week (Stan noted it last night) during the talk, he noted the issue of withdrawal and stated, "We will only be there as long as the Iraqi government wants us there. It's their country, will will not be the ones making their decisions." Surridge notes, "Crocker was careful to avoid long-range predictions, but expects the conflict in Iraq could extend longer than the scheduled withdrawal date, 'Who can say where we will be in 2011?' he asked. 'The landscape could change dramatically'."

the washington postdana priestanne hull
pia malbran
brett barrouquere
mcclatchy newspaperscorinne reillyhussein kadhim
sam dagherthe new york timessuadad al-salhy
msnbcrichard engelbrian williams
thomas e. ricks
damien mcelroy
thomas harding
james hider

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Sexism then, sexism now

Friday, as with most Fridays, I was able to join C.I., Ava, Kat and Wally in speaking to some groups about the Iraq War. The topic turned to Barack with a number of students (we were on a college campus) talking about how he has not kept his promise on Iraq and how disappointed they were with him. No surprise there, right?

So this one young woman stood up and it is probably my age but she honestly looked not a day older than 14-years-old. And she was really upset and the first thing C.I. did was to ask everyone to give her a moment to gather her thoughts because it was obvious she was upset by whatever she was about to comment on. So she took the moment and then she started speaking and she talked about how she was very upset about the people Barack had stocked his cabinet with and how she was really bothered by the fact that the supposed 'left' on campus included a lot of guys who "verbally assault and attack women every chance they get. It happens in the quad, it happens in the lecture. I've just had it with it and I don't get how they can call themselves left and express so much hatred of women."

And C.I. got examples from others present -- it wasn't just this one woman upset by it. No surprise, Barack's Cult used sexism non-stop, against both Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin. So C.I. notes that I was addressing sexism a lot back during the primaries and I stood up and spoke a bit about that. And then C.I. said this is not peculiar to this age and noted that these sexists generally turn right. C.I. used Chirstopher Latsch as an example and pointed out that he was never left despite writing for New Left Review and other publications. He was a pig who wanted what he wanted for him when he wanted it and someone saw that as 'political' and as 'left.' C.I. boiled this all down in to about three minutes and I'll never do it justice but we have The New York Review Of Books. My husband and I subscribed to it during Vietnam. And C.I. had referenced some of Lastsch's writing in that periodical. I was only able to find one so far (I had to go digging through the attic). This is from the November 2, 1972 issue, page six and the article by Latsch is entitled "Election II" about George McGovern's race against Richard Nixon:

Abortion poses a similar set of problems for McGovern. Here again working-class apprehensions conflict with the wishes of the liberals who make up the heart of the McGovern movement and who support legalized abortion either because they are feminists or because it coincides with the goal of "zero population growth." McGovern cannot completely repudiate the demand for liberalized abortion laws without antagonizing many of his most devoted supporters, but neither can he endorse it: to do so would be fatal in working-class constitutuencies. Here too McGovern tries to escape from his dilemma by arguing abortion is not a "real" issue -- a disingeneous argument that has the additonal disadvantage of being completely unconvincing.

First, yes, Senator McGovern was nt the pro-abortion rights person that today's myths try to make him out to be. As C.I. likes to say, "we all have the scars of Miami." That is where the D.N.C. held its convention in 1972 and where Senator McGovern sold out women.

When I mention that, I always get e-mails saying, "Ruth, you are remembering wrong." No, I am remembering correctly. Those of us with the scars do not forget.

So it was worth including if only for real-time press noting Senator McGovern stabbed a stake through abortion-rights (and really set the stage for it to be dismissed as a side issue). But I also include it because of the dismissal of it that Mr. Lasch offers. He was always that and there was this mistaken believe that he was 'manly' left. No, he was just a sexist and he was never left. And one wonders what would happen if sexism was called out strongly by the left? Might we be spared the betrayals when people like Mr. Lash admit they are conservatives?

We waste a lot of time and I remember a great deal being wasted by some people defending Mr. Lasch from charges of sexism. He was a sexist until his dying day.

We really need to stop being hesitant to call out sexism.

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

Wednesday, April 29, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, the Sadr City neighborhood of Baghdad is rocked with multiple bombings, Congress takes testimony on TRICARE, the United Nations voices grave concerns for Iraqi women, an attack leaves a US soldier wounded in Iraq, Steven D. Green's trial for War Crimes continues, and more.

Baghdad was rocked by bombings today. Two (
Los Angeles Times, Reuters and Albawaba) or three (BBC, UPI, McClatchy, Xinhua, Washington Post) car bombings exploded in Baghdad's Sadr City. CNN reports the death toll from the Sadr City bombings (they say three) is "at least 45 people" with sixty-eight more injued. Xinhua explains, "The incident occurred in the afternoon when three booby-trapped cars parked at different popular marketplaces in Sadr City neighborhood in eastern Baghdad, detonated simultaneously, the source said." BBC notes, "The BBC's Jim Muir in Baghdad says the attacks are the kind of provocation, blame on militant Sunni Islamists, which triggered and fuelled a deadly spiral of sectarian violence in 2006 and 2007." Liz Sly and Saif Hameed (Los Angeles Times) report, "Survivors of the carnage turned their wrath on the security forces, hurling bottles and bricks at the police and army troops until the soldiers fired in the air to disperse the crowd." Ernesto Londono (Washington Post) provides this context, "The attack was the deadliest in Sadr City since the Iraqi army wrested control of the impoverished Shiite district from militias last May." He also notes Iraqi police claim "the defused three other car bombs shortly after the blasts." Corinne Reilly (McClatchy Newspapers) observes, "The attacks are the latest sign that security gains here are beginning to reverse. Large-scale bombings targeting civilians have been on the rise since March." Reilly points out that over 200 people have died in Baghdad this month thus far and the last time McClatchy shows that happening was March of last year.

In other violence,
Sahar Issa and Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) report a Baghdad car bombing left five people injured and two Baghdad car bombings which claimed 2 lives and left eight injured (this is in addition to the Sadr City bombings which they also note), a New Mosul roadside bombing which wounded two, a grenade attack in Kirkuk on US forces which resulted in two Iraqi civilians being shot and four more wounded. CNN cites US Maj Derrick Cheng stating that the US military had been "working with local police to provide micro-grants" when the attack took place and Cheng states 2 "attackers" were dead with two more injured as well, according to Cheng, one US soldier wounded. Reuters adds that Diyala Province roadside bombings claimed the lives of 3 Iraqi soldiers (two also left injured) and 2 Mosul roadside bombings (this is in addition to the New Mosul one) resulted in the death of 1 police officer and five Iraqi civilians being injured. Going with CNN's 45 dead in Sadr City, that would mean at least 53 reported deaths in Iraq today. Caroline Alexander (Bloomberg News) notes 41 is the death toll in Sadr City according to the political party website of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani. Alsumaria quotes US Brig Gen David Quantock stating that the increase in violence is not due to the release of Iraqi prisoners from US prisons in Iraq.

According to US Major Cheng, one US soldier was wounded today. We'll use that to jump over to a US Congressional hearing this morning. "Today, the Military Personnel Subcommittee will hold a hearing on the organization of the office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs," stated Subcommittee Chair Susan Davis calling the hearing to order. Of Health Affairs/TRICARE Management Activity, she noted "we are clearly dealing witha different model than the rest of the Department. We do not know if that is good-different, bad-different, or just different. It is therefore important for us to examine this structure so that we may understand exactly how the organization operates and how that impacts care for our men and women in uniform and isn't really that the bottom line here that we're seeking?" (
Click here for US House Rep Susan Davis' opening statement, non-PDF format -- but not that I'm quoting her remarks and they're not word for word the prepared statement.) Joe Wilson is the Ranking Member on the Committee and his opening remarks included noting, "General George Washington and the Continental Congress understood the necessity of good medical care during the fight for our independence. After suffering a sizeable number of casulities from disease, the Continental Congress established the medical department of the Army in July 1775. Washington then appointed the first Director General and Chief Physician of the Hospital of the Army." That was Dr. Benjamin Church -- a poor choice who was replaced by Dr. John Morgan. Church was a poor choice? He was a spy for the British. Wilson didn't go into that or name Church, I'm just tossing it in as historical trivia and wouldn't have known it if the office of a Dem House Rep hadn't told me after the hearing (when I asked about the trivia). Other triva included that it is "Surgeons General" and not "Surgeon Generals" when you are dealing with the plural. US House Rep Vic Snyder asked and established that.

Appearing before the subcommittee were the following: Acting Under Secretary of Defense, Personnel and Readiness Gail H. McGinn (DoD, -- PDF formart warning --
here for her opening statement), Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense Health Affairs (DOD -- PDF format warning, here), Lt Gen Eric Schoomaker (Army Surgeon General, PDF format warning, here), Vice Admiral Adam Robinson (Navy Surgeon General, PDF format warning, here), Lt Gen James G. Roudebush (Air Force Surgeon General, PDF format warning, here) and Maj Gen Elder Granger (DoD's Deputy Director TRICARE Management Activity, PDF format warning, here). It was Granger's last appearance before the committee who is retiring. From the opening statements, we'll note one section that is of interest and is not in the prepared remarks.

Lt Gen Eric Schoomaker: In a nutshell, the MHS [Military Health System] exist to support war fighters on the battlefield, the Direct Care System exist to deliver military readiness, Private Sector Care supports and fills the gaps in the Direct Care System. If form is to follow function then the MHS should be optimally organized to suport the Direct Care System. I don't believe this is always the case. For example in the budgeting process, Private Sector Care forecasts are considered must pay while Direct Care System estimates are considered "unfunded requirements." The Department's priority has been to fund the Private Sector Care at 100% of projected requirements while many of our Direct Care System needs are not addressed until year end when overforecasted PSC funding becomes available for distribution to the Direct Care System. Since Private Sector Care is often over-programmed , they return money to the MHS and they're seen as "cost containing." Our Direct Care System health care bills are always after the fact and are seen as "cost overruns." This resourcing construct appears to prioritize Private Sector Care over the Direct Care System.

Most veered from their prepared remarks (Robinson brought up San Antonio, for example) but Schoomaker's veer went to the issues raised in the hearing.

To cut down on the "gobbledeegook," US House Rep Vic Snyder gave the witnesses examples so they could speak in specifics.

US House Rep Vic Snyder: The first example is a special-needs kid which I think some of us have talked about before. General Schoomaker, you talked about supporting our war fighters overseas and I think nothing creates more heart ache for our folks overseas than if they have a special-needs kid and the kid is not getting the kind of care that they think they need while they're at a military facility some place. So let's take a kid with either insulin-dependant diabetes or autism or something that requires a fairly intensive amount of help. The second example might be that I think a lot of us have run into over the last several years would be a somebody in the reserve component who is mobolized for active duty for a period of 18 months or so, so there family then goes into the military health care system but may be geographically living in a place, not near a base, not near providers who are used to dealing with TRICARE. So what I would like each of you to do -- and just tell me if I'm off base. It may be the tensions that we were talking about, which you all were discussing, have nothing to do with those examples but how does what you're talking about relate specifically to our men and women and the care that they give and if these are a couple of examples where it may -- it may give you an opportunity to describe how the tension may relate to the actual care that men and women and their families get?

Lt Gen Eric Schoomaker: Well candidly, sir, from my perspective, both of the cases -- and I'll be interested in hearing what my colleagues have to say -- both of those cases I think are not necessarily confounded by the tensions that we're creating here. In fact, I think that both of them in many cases are a tribute to the far-sightedness and the vision of setting up a TRICARE system as we did 15 years or so ago. In the case of special-needs kids, we have an extraordinary generous benefit which is fairly uniformly applied and, in fact, I think it's resulted in -- in the military health care system being one of the elements of a family's decision with a special-needs child to stay in uniform. So I would have to say that doesn't necessarily -- I don't see my role in executing these programs as being interfered with in any way, shape or form in taking care of special-needs kids. I would have to say the same about the mobilized reserve component -- National Guard and Reserves -- many of whom come from places in this country where we don't have a robust Direct Care System: central Idaho, parts of Montanna, Wyoming. We don't have large, robust medical centers and health services systems. And so having an effective Purchase Care System and a Managed Care Support Contractor that is reaching out and providing care to those families is, I think, that again reflects the far sightedness of a well executed TRICARE program. I'm not taking away from any of that part of it.

Vice Admiral Adam Robinson: I would come at this a little differently. I don't completely disagree with General Schoomaker but I think that the autism and the insulin-dependent diabetic do come into play in this regard. Often -- first of all, the private sector care, the network care and the direct care can both play here. Let's take 29 Palms, I'll just take a Marine Corps base in southern California, very remote location. I'm not going to be able to get network care there. It's going to have to be direct care. It's going to have to be uniform care. Now when I say "I can't get it," there are people that will go there but that's very difficult so I have places in this country that are very difficult to, in fact, get network care. That means I need it in uniform [care]. However, very often there's also been -- and I don't want to get caught in the mire of the gobbledeegook -- but there's also thoughts that very often we on the direct care side and uniform should be be there for very specialized war fighting activities that make us incredibly essential for the battle and for the things that the military system in fact, was built to do. But, in fact, in 2009 we have taken on added responsibilities which include garrison and family care. So my question then is I need pediatric endocrinologists as much as I need trauma surgeons but it may be difficult sometimes to, in fact, get there because of how we have, in fact, looked at what we think we should get from the war fighting versus the non-war fighting situations. Now I'm not suggestiong to you that anyone's denying the Navy or the other services pediatric endocrinologists. I'm just simply saying that there is a tension that does exist because of some thoughts and some assumptions made as to how we really should in fact divy up our uniform versus our network. I'd like to add just one other thing. I'm not going to comment on the reserve component. I think that General Schoomaker's answer is -- would be mine also. I'd only like to say, overseas with our EDIS -- exception developmental instructional programs and also our exceptional family member programs this is also the case because overseas we're not able to, in fact, engage in that war care so if I don't have it -- if I can't either contract it to bring it or if I don't have it in uniform, it's much more difficult to get. And those are just challenges that I must look at. I'm not suggesting that anyone's keeping me from getting there but these are the challenges from an SG's perspective that I must look at.

Lt Gen James G. Roudebush: Congressman, I think you raise a point that really brings out the essence of what we're talking about this morning. There is a role and relationship and it's not "either/or" it's "and." For us in uniform there are in fact places where we are going to need to have in uniform speciality capabilities for family members because family care is mission impact. When our men and women are in harm's way, if they're not confident their families are fully cared for, they will not be focused on what's in front of them and that has mission impact. So family care plays directly into the mission. For us, TRICARE gives us that wrap-around in those circumstances where we may not have the capability readily available for our reserves in areas where we don't have a facility availabe for example. Or for special-needs youngsters, we may not have that readily available within the uniform service. TRICARE gives us that wrap-around capability. And, quite frankly, when you get to speciality care for our youngsters that is rather expensive to make and sustain in uniform. And the more cost-effective solution and clinically effective solution in many circumstances is in fact a contract for that capability and that care through the private sector TRICARE. So it's not "either/or," it's "and" and finding the right balance, each of us within our roles, to get that mission accomplished. So I think you do raise an intersection that's critically important for us to get right.

Subcommittee Chair Susan Davis: Thank you, I'm going to move on. Ms. Tsongas?

US House Rep Niki Tsongas: Thank you. I'm enjoying this testimony and I have to say much of this as a new member as a relatively new member, much of it is new to me. I have to say, many years ago as a child of the Air Force, I needed a very delicate eye surgery and I was in an Air Force hospital in Langley Air Base and then subsequently at Tachikawa Air Base. I received remarkable care and, again, I was with Congressman Wilson in Balad where we did see the remarkable work that you're doing. But obviously we're in a time and an era when health care is far more complicated and far more expensive and it's clear that you're wrestling with both on multiple layers. My question, slightly different though, is we have representatives of the different services and you obviously have different cultures, some times very different needs as a result of the roles you play, and I'm just curious as how this plays itself out given the different tensions that you all have described? Is it another layer to it or is it really not particularly significant?

Lt Gen Eric Schoomaker: Well I'll speak for the Army. I think, ma'am, it's very significant and I think it's why we -- not for parochialism or not because we're looking to build duplication or triplication within -- within the defense health system -- why we insist on executing our programs in each one of our services. Each one of the services -- for very good reasons -- has important differences in how it fights war, in how its military health care uniform members support the deployed force. And that's not to say that there aren't commonalities in some large metropolitan areas, like in the national capitol region or San Antonio, we can't find shared platforms where we can retain common skills, where we can share the opportunities in the greater Washington area where we have 36 or 37 different health care facilities across the three services from Pennsylvania down to Quantico and as far west as Fort Belvoir. We have plenty of opportunities to share those platforms for caring for about a half-million beneficiaries. But when it comes down to ships at sea and brigades in battle, some of the remote sites that General Roudebush and I in the Army have to service, the service cultures are very much a part of this and it's why we, Surgeons General and commanders of our medical forces, want to have a very firm grasp on the execution of these programs.

Vice Admiral Adam Robinson: Each service has a concept of care. I think that as the long war has continued in both Iraq and Afghanistan our concepts of care have actually become much closer together. They've merged. From the Navy's perspective, I'm not speaking now for the Army or Air Force but I don't think they're much different, patient and family-centric care is our concept. It's what we think is important in order to make sure that we can meet the mission. Both the operational -- that is the war mission -- as well as the family and the garrison care mission because we can't separate them out any longer. Since people on the battlefield, men and women can now e-mail and text message family members during an intense encounter, it is no longer the case that I can, in fact not take care of families as I'm also taking care of men and women on the battlefield. We've moved into another era of communication, of technology and of the insistence by the people that -- our beneficiaries that we in fact care for them in a very organized and meaningful way and that's what I think all three services do but we all do it differently -- leverging those things that our service chiefs and the equities of Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps must have in order to meet their missions and at the same time making sure that we leave no patient, no family and no member behind.

US House Rep Niki Tsongas: And not to interrupt but do health affairs and TRICARE management acknowledge this in your relationship or is yet one more -- one of those things that is a source of tension?

Vice Admiral Adam Robinson: I think that Health Affairs does acknowledge that. I think that they do in fact understand the differences in the services and how to meet them. I also think that very often the concept of what is important from a patient perspective can sometimes get clouded or get shaded in relationship to the business perspective of efficiencies and effectiveness. Now that's the world that we live in so I'm not complaining to you about that because everyone has to look at costs and has to look at the bottom line that we're trying to get done. The key here in medicine is that patients usally when they're coming to you and they need something to save their lives, they need something that they think is going to be absolutely essential to their well being are not interested in hearing the business rules involved in doing that. My job is to, in fact, take that into account and to balance that out with the needs of the patient.

Subcommittee Chair Susan Davis: General, do you want to comment?

Lt Gen: James G. Roudebush: Just very quickly. At times folks will talk about culture and say, 'Well culture is interesting." I would suggest to you that culture is a signficant part of what we do. We have an all volunteer force. Every soldier joins the Army because he or she is attracted to the mission and the culture. Likewise every sailor and Marine and Air man joins that service because they are attracted to the culture and the mission. Their families are wrapped in that culture. We care for our servicemen within that culture and within that mission ethos. So culture is a big part and, particularly when these men and women are injured or ill, that culture wraps around them and supports them, helps them through that recovery, rehabilitation. And so while some of the -- many of the clinical activities are certainly the same in the Army, Navy and Air Force that wrap around, that family, that team that's caring for them is an important part of the construct and I think that can't be lost in the discussion.

FYI, April is Autism Awareness Month. Ruth has covered that
here, here and here this month. For more information, the Autism Society of America is one resource.

Back to Iraq, a
Sunday attack in Kut continues to make the news. The pre-dawn US raid resulted in two deaths and condemnation from Nouri al-Maliki. US Col Richard Francey spoke to the BBC earlier this week and today tells Alsumaria that the incident "could have been avoided" and that a joint US-Iraqi investigation has been launched. Alsumaria also reports, on the legislative front, "Iraq's Parliament voted to proceed with the secret intelligencer law rejecting the proposal of the legal committee which called earlier to suspend this law." Meanwhile the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq announces their latest report which finds "the overall human rights istuation in Iraq remains a matter of concern." More to the point:

The report shows that gender-based violence remains one of the key unaddressed problems throughout Iraq. Numerous murders of women under the guise of so-called "honour killings" are still being recorded as suicides, the report shows, while in the Northern Region of Kurdistan the practice of Female Gential Mutilation (FGM) remains a tolerated practice.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, whose staff helped compile the report, said "the situation of Iraqi women is extremely difficult. Violent actions are taken against them on a daily basis and I urge the authorities to make it a priority to both improve legislation, and law enforcement in order to protect them properly."

Iraq is also the largest refugee crisis and women and girls who are internal or external refugees are at risk and are often victimized via Iraq's underground sex trade or the sex trade in other countries such as Syria. The US has done a lousy job providing Iraqi refugees with asylum.
Nina Berman (Mother Jones) explores the conditions for some Iraqi refugees who make it to 'safety':

The United States took in a mere 735 Iraqi refugees between 2003 and 2006. Criticized for not doing enough, 17,000 are slated to arrive between September 2008 and September 2009. But the high-minded policy change seems more like another American broken promise. Recently arrived refugees interviewed in Dallas wonder how they're supposed to become self-sufficient on minimal assistance in the worst economy since the Great Depression. Rather than making new lives, they are facing unemployment, eviction and isolation. "The life here is closed," said Lara Yakob, whose husband, an architect in Mosul, has been out of work since he arrived five months ago. His best prospect to date: a tryout in a laundry room. "I think the American government feels that they made bad things for Iraq, so they bring us here. I don't know why they do that if they don't find us a job. This life they start for us, is a very bad life, " said Omar Ibrahim, who arrived in Dallas in 2008 and still is jobless. He lives in a housing complex on the edge of the city, on a tree-lined street off the freeway, near Garland. Around 100 refugee families from Iraq, Myanmar and central Africa share this neighborhood of two-story apartments around the corner from a gas station -- the site of a recent police killing -- a Cash America outlet, aging strip malls and shuttered superstores. His rent assistance stopped after four months, and to pay the bills he had to do the unthinkable. "I called my family in Iraq to send me money," he said. And they asked him, "You are in America, and you are asking us for money?"

A large number of Iraqi refugees are Christians and we'll note them tomorrow. Turning to legal news,
Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi is the 14-year-old Iraqi girl who was gang-raped by US soldiers in March of 2006 while her parents and five-year-old sister were murdered and then Abeer herself was murdered. Steven D. Green is on trial in a federal court in Kentucky (he was discharged before the War Crimes came to light) for assorted charges including gang-rape and murder. The ones who have confessed thus far have all fingered Green as the ringleader. Time magazine has not ignored the War Crimes. It has covered them here and here. Noting the other trials for these War Crimes so far, Jim Frederick provides a walk-through on what's known going in:

Nursing a hatred of Iraqis stemming from heavy losses their unit had suffered, and fueled by several bottles of Iraqi whisky, they embarked upon a premeditated crime of gruesome barbarity. Donning black long underwear outfits as disguises, even though it was the middle of the day, they traveled a few hundred meters to an isolated farmhouse where they gang raped
Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi, a 14-year old Iraqi girl and murdered her, her parents, and her six-year old sister. The men returned to their checkpoint unnoticed and for months afterwards, the massacre was considered by the Army and locals alike to be just another outburst of the frequent Iraqi-on-Iraqi violence that plagued the area.

Time notes: "Jim Frederick, a former editor at TIME, is writing a book about Green's unit, entitled Black Hearts: One Platoon's Disintegration in the Triangle of Death and the American Ordeal in Iraq, which will be published in Spring, 2010 by Harmony Books." Meanwhile the
Washington Observer-Reporter makes the trial the topic of their editorial and they conclude, "But there are no hardships, military or otherwise, that could excuse an atrocity like this and you can't blame it on a 'lack of leadership'." AP's Brett Barrouquere has long cover this story (three years in a few more months) and he reports Col Todd Ebel's testimony yesterday was that the accused, Steven D. Green wanted to shoot civilians because "the enemy could be dressed as civilians" and that Lt Col Thomas Kunk began testifying today (continues this morning) "about the investigation into the deaths." The hearing continued today and Barrouquere reports that Lt Col Thomas Kunk was on the witness stand and stated he had heard rumors that Green wanted to murder "all Iraqis" so he spoke with him and Green denied that stating that there were 'some' good Iraqis and he didn't wish to harm them.

Meanwhile, as noted in
yesterday's snapshot, Iraq War resister Cliff Cornell entered a guilty plea to desertion in his court-martial at Fort Stewart yesterday. UPI notes that Cliff has been sentenced to one year imprisonment and quotes Cliff's civilian attorney, James Branum, stating, "Cliff is being punished for what he believes, for his comments to the press. Because he spoke out against the Iraq war, Cliff's sentence is harsher than the punishment given to 94 percent of deserters who are not penalized but administratively discharged." Nanaimo Daily News reports Cliff "tearfully read a prepared statement to the judge apologizing for leaving his unit." Across Georgia quotes him stating, "It was wrong for me to leave my unit and go to Canada. I was very anxious about whether I might be asked to do things that might violate my conscience. I felt trapped. I didn't know what to do." Cliff went to Canada in 2005. He sought asylum there repeatedly and was rejected. He was to be deported when he left Canada in February and turned himself in. (Some say he was deported. Due to the order, we won't split hairs on either interpretation.) Travis Lupick (The Straight) gives the background story here. Frenchi Jones (Coastal Courier) explains, "Cornell was stationed at Fort Stewart at the time of his desertion. He was a soldier with the 1st Battalion, 39th Artillery Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, and 3rd Infantry Division." Courage to Resist notes that in addition to the year in prison, "The military judge, Col. Tara Olson, also ordered Cliff's rank be reduced to private and for him to receive a bad conduct discharge."

Meanwhile independent journalist
John Pilger evaluates US president Barack Obama's first 100 days:

It is more than 100 days since Barack Obama was elected president of the United States. The "Obama brand" has been named "Advertising Age's marketer of the year for 2008", easily beating Apple computers. David Fenton of describes Obama's election campaign as "an institutionalised mass-level automated technological community organising that has never existed before and is a very, very powerful force". Deploying the internet and a slogan plagiarised from the Latino union organiser Cesar Chavez -- "Sí, se puede!" or "Yes, we can" -- the mass-level automated technological community marketed its brand to victory in a country desperate to be rid of George W Bush. No one knew what the new brand actually stood for. So accomplished was the advertising (a record $75m was spent on television commercials alone) that many Americans actually believed Obama shared their opposition to Bush's wars. In fact, he had repeatedly backed Bush's warmongering and its congressional funding. Many Americans also believed he was the heir to Martin Luther King's legacy of anti-colonialism. Yet if Obama had a theme at all, apart from the vacuous "Change you can believe in", it was the renewal of America as a dominant, avaricious bully. "We will be the most powerful," he often declared. Perhaps the Obama brand's most effective advertising was supplied free of charge by those journalists who, as courtiers of a rapacious system, promote shining knights. They depoliticised him, spinning his platitudinous speeches as "adroit literary creations, rich, like those Doric columns, with allusion..." (Charlotte Higgins in the Guardian). The San Francisco Chronicle columnist Mark Morford wrote: "Many spiritually advanced people I know... identify Obama as a Lightworker, that rare kind of attuned being who... can actually help usher in a new way of being on the planet." In his first 100 days, Obama has excused torture, opposed habeas corpus and demanded more secret government. He has kept Bush's gulag intact and at least 17,000 prisoners beyond the reach of justice. On 24 April, his lawyers won an appeal that ruled Guantanamo Bay prisoners were not "persons", and therefore had no right not to be tortured. His national intelligence director, Admiral Dennis Blair, says he believes torture works. One of his senior US intelligence officials in Latin America is accused of covering up the torture of an American nun in Guatemala in 1989; another is a Pinochet apologist. As Daniel Ellsberg has pointed out, the US experienced a military coup under Bush, whose secretary of "defence", Robert Gates, along with the same warmaking officials, has been retained by Obama.

ETAN notes:Groups Urge Meaningful Pressure on Jakarta for Papuan RightsContact: Ed McWilliams, WPAT, +1-575-648-2078John M. Miller, ETAN, +1-718-596-7668 April 27 - Two U.S. organizations concerned about human rights in West Papua today urged the U.S. government "to apply meaningful pressure on the Indonesian government and its security forces... to address long-standing Papuan concerns and grievances." The West Papua Advocacy Team (WPAT) and the East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN) called the new Obama administration's approach to West Papua "hardly fresh." In testimony before Congress last week, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton called for supporting West Papua "in its efforts to have a degree of autonomy within Indonesia." "Failure of the U.S. government to think seriously and act responsibly about West Papua, before Indonesia's July presidential elections, risks further deterioration of human rights and communal violence," said Ed McWilliams, a retired U.S. diplomat and spokesperson for WPAT. "Papuans have repeatedly rejected 'Special Autonomy' and... have demanded instead an internationally-facilitated dialogue with the central government to address key issues, including demilitarization of West Papua, an end to intimidation, the release of political prisoners, and the right to self-determination," the groups said. The full statement is below. The U.S. government and Congress should "apply meaningful pressure" for such a dialogue and for "an end to restrictions that prevent the international community from monitoring human rights developments and the welfare of Papuans in the region." Pressure should include conditioning "assistance to the Indonesian military, Brimob, Indonesia's intelligence agencies on real reform [of the security forces], human rights accountability and demonstrated respect for people of West Papua." In recent weeks, their has been an escalation of both peaceful protest and violent conflict in West Papua, which Indonesia annexed in 1969. Since then Papuans have suffered massacres and other systematic human rights violations, environmental destruction, and marginalization in their own land. -30-Joint Statement by West Papua Advocacy Team (WPAT) and East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN) on U.S. Policy and West Papua Appearing last week before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, for the first time as Secretary spoke directly about the human rights crisis in West Papua. While candidly acknowledging the "many human rights abuses" in West Papua, Secretary Clinton framed both its problems and their solutions essentially in the same way that the Bush Administration had: She emphasized that West Papua was part of a "sovereign Indonesia," and said West Papua needed support "in its efforts to have a degree of autonomy within Indonesia." For nearly eight years the Indonesian government has pursued its "Special Autonomy" policy for West Papua. This was to have afforded long-denied fundamental rights to Papuans and ended decades of systematic human rights violations, environmental destruction and marginalization. Clearly, the Indonesian government has failed to implement this policy, instead continuing to rely on a security approach. Indonesia's military, militarized police (Brimob) and intelligence agencies continue to terrorize Papuans. These security forces violate fundamental human rights with impunity and collude with domestic and international corporations to deprive Papuans of their land. At the same time, the Indonesian government has drawn a curtain around West Papua preventing or limiting international monitoring of conditions there by journalists, international human rights officials, and others. Recently, it demanded the departure of International Committee of the Red Cross because its officials had met with Papuan political prisoners. The Indonesian government continued denial of essential services health, education and employment, leaving the Papuans to suffer among the worst levels of poverty, mortality and education in Asia. Papuans have repeatedly rejected "Special Autonomy" and -- in massive, peaceful popular demonstrations -- have demanded instead an internationally-facilitated dialogue with the central government to address key issues, including demilitarization of West Papua, an end to intimidation, the release of political prisoners, and the right to self-determination. Unfortunately, the Obama Administration appears to ignore the reality of Papuans' suffering and the urgent need for fundamental change in West Papua. Secretary Clinton's call for a "degree of autonomy" for West Papua is hardly fresh or progressive thinking. Rather than resort to the failed Bush Administration approach of calling upon Jakarta to afford "a degree of autonomy," the crisis in West Papua calls for fresh approach and a genuine commitment to Papuans fundamental rights, including a right to self-determination. A decade ago, the U.S. Government similarly failed to understand the dynamics of the deteriorating human rights environment in East Timor. During that crisis, the U.S. sought only to press the Indonesian military to take more seriously its responsibility to protect human rights in East Timor. Then (and now) the U.S. government failed to understand that the Indonesian military, (as well as Brimob and Indonesian intelligence agencies) bore ultimate responsibility for the death and destruction in surrounding the UN-organized referendum in 1999. Instead of offering stale policy prescriptions, we urge the U.S. to apply meaningful pressure on the Indonesian government and its security forces to press for an internationally-facilitated, senior level dialogue between the Indonesian Government and Papuans, including Papuan civil society, to address long-standing Papuan concerns and grievances. The U.S. government should urge an end to restrictions that prevent the international community from monitoring human rights developments and the welfare of Papuans in the region. The U.S. government should also press for fundamental reform of the Indonesian security forces which continue to violate human rights, are unaccountable before Indonesia's flawed judicial system, and are not fully subordinate to civilian government control. The current administration and Congress should clearly condition assistance to the Indonesian military, Brimob, Indonesia's intelligence agencies on real reform, human rights accountability and demonstrated respect for people of West Papua. etanetanetanetanetanetanetanetanetanetanetanetanJohn M. Miller Internet: National Coordinator East Timor & Indonesia Action Network PO Box 21873, Brooklyn, NY 11202-1873 USA Phone: (718)596-7668 Mobile: (917)690-4391 Skype: john.m.miller Web:

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