Sunday, January 29, 2012

Truest statement of the week

Mic check. Mic check. I want you to know that we all should have known better when Mr. Obama said that he was for change and peace. I want you to know that we should have known better when he started to run and he went to the Black Caucus to ask for their support. When they asked him why hadn't he supported the issues of the Black Caucus, his words were he did not want to be tainted by the Civil Rights Movement. We all know that Fannie Lou Hamer only wanted to vote. This is what Mr. Obama did not want to be tainted by; therefore, when we choose not to support Mr. Obama we want him to remember all of his words where he did not want to be tainted by the Civil Rights Movement, he said stop whimpering, stop whining, stop yammering. So we want to say to Mr. Obama when we don't show up to vote, stop whining! Stop whining, Mr. Obama! We no longer believe that you will stand for anything. You never stood for the First Amendment right of free speech. You never stood for the Fifth Amendment right to have an attorney. You never stood for anything that didn't support the corporations. We are standing for all of the people not the corporations. Mr. Obama, we are going to send you back home to Chicago where you helped destroy the projects. We need someone who stands for housing. We need someone who stands for jobs. We need someone who will be true to the words they say. Goodbye Mr. Obama.

-- Ralph Poynter, husband of political prisoner and legendary attorney Lynne Stewart, speaking at the protest outside the Apollo Theater which was shut down for Barack's private fundraiser. On last week's. Black Agenda Radio, hosted by Glen Ford and Nellie Bailey, (airs each Monday at 4:00 pm EST on the Progressive Radio Network), they played the speech.

Truest statement of the week II

Of course, it's important that U.S. troops and Pentagon-paid contractors have been withdrawn. Indeed it's a huge victory for the U.S. and global anti-war movements who made it imperative for President Obama to enforce the U.S.-Iraq agreement requiring just that. But the U.S. war is not over. U.S. troops have left Iraq, but thousands are streaming into Kuwait and onto Navy ships cruising just "over the horizon." Maybe just a few hundred uniformed U.S. troops will be left in Iraq, but 15,000 or more State Department-paid mercenaries are pouring in, doing the same things--guarding the biggest-in-the-world U.S. embassy, training Iraqis to use the weapons we're still flooding the country with, "special operations"--that continue the instability. The contractors include some of the same armed men whose Pentagon-paid violence led to such outrage in the past. Americans may have forgotten, but Iraqis certainly remember.

-- Phyllis Bennis, "It's Already Too Late in Iraq" (US News & World Reports).

A note to our readers

Hey --

Another Sunday.

First up, we thank all who participated this edition which includes Dallas and the following:

The Third Estate Sunday Review's Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess and Ava,
Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude,
Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man,
C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review,
Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills),
Mike of Mikey Likes It!,
Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz),
Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix,
Ruth of Ruth's Report,
Wally of The Daily Jot,
Trina of Trina's Kitchen,
Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends,
Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts,
and Ann of Ann's Mega Dub.

What did we come up with?

Ralph Poynter's speech in Harlem. (Amy Goodman 'forgot' to report on that too.)
Phyllis Bennis telling the truth about the war.

We had three more features to do when time ran out. We went with the editorial and hope to return to the two other next week. This is our Iraq feature. And, yes, we did adujst our photo of the front page of The New York Times' Sunday Review to make the paper yellow -- e.g. the paper practices "yellow journalism."

Ava and C.I. cover things that others sweep under the rug, that others spend their entire lives denying. This is another brave piece by two of the strongest feminists online. And grasp that while GLAAD and NOW get mad at two episodes of Working It, they stay silent about 30 Rock's ongoing homophobia, about their ridicule of men who dress as women (Paul), and more. Ava and C.I. also take on Democracy Now, Amy Goodman and Ralph Nader. And to repeat, this site is no longer interested in Ralph Nader. He's got a book to sell so he whores. Fine and dandy but we're not interested. As Elaine said, "Screw you, Ralph Nader."

Amy Goodman lied about the protest against Barack Obama in Harlem. She's not the only one who lied, but she is among the liars. She who ridiculed the media for under-reporting protests against wars and against Bush, whores for Barack and lies about the protest. She refuses to do a correction even after it's been pointed out to her that she's wrong. She refuses to do a correction even after Glen Ford and others take the matter public. She's a whore.

This is a short feature. We did it once to round out an edition. Then we did it a second time. E-mails and stats on those TESR Test Kitchen pieces show they're very popular. So we'll try to work in at least one a month.

Glen Ford and Chris Hedges discuss the National Defense Authorization Act and how it is a threat to Americans.

A short feature on how the Barack returned to the mother ship.

One of the great things about Ava and C.I. being on the road nearly every week (usually with Wally and Kat) is that they get exposed to so much that we would miss otherwise. We'd never heard of Undercurrents, for example. It's heard on about 100 stations around the country. (In our area, it sometimes plays on KPFA as a special. The next closest radio station to us would be in Sacremento.)
Good news for political prisoner Mumia.

A note from Ava and C.I.

An important story about how the damange from burn pits harms lives by the wife of an Iraq War veteran exposed to a burn pit in Iraq.

Senator Patty Murray wants answers on what the VA's doing for homeless women veterans.

Repost from Workers World.

Mike and the gang wrote this and we thank them for it.

We'll see you next week.


-- Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava and C.I.

Editorial: The Iraq Liars

Participating in the Debate feature at US News & World Reports last week, Phyllis Bennis and US House Rep. Dennis Kucinich both observed that the Iraq War wasn't over. But it's a point that escapes the corporate media coverage which repeatedly proclaims that all US troops have left Iraq. (We know from our e-mail that that is not the case. US troops remain in Iraq.) And sometimes they add that all have come home. (Again, we know from our e-mail that troops have been placed all around in Iraq in surrounding regions.)

It's the same media that spent last week telling you that "about 200" or "over 200" people had died in Iraq from violence since December 18th when the actual number was at least 428 by Friday. Yes, that is over 200, it's also double the number the press repeatedly insisted upon using.

Undercounting the dead, how the press has specialized in that throughout the Iraq War. They sold the Iraq War, they just didn't want to claim the deaths they were responsible for.

Anymore than they want to tell you about the political crisis and how the White House insisting Nouri al-Maliki remain prime minister despite the 2010 election results caused the crisis.

Most of all, they want to tell you that the Iraq War is over. And you should believe the press . . . because they told you that Iraq had Weapons of Mass Destruction and was connected to 9-11 and both of those claims turned out to be . . . false.

The press is lying to you all over again. They lied to start the war, they lie to continue it.

They lie and they distract. They ignore the issues that matter to waste your time and distract you with garbage about who slept with who. Newt Gingrich's many marital problems are well known and have been in the 90s and in the '00s. But what makes the cover of The New York Times' "Sunday Review" today?


Gail Collins trashy column which notes her prurient priorities in the first paragraph ("sexual misbehavior"). She and the paper have nothing better to do than dig through Newt's already well documented marital record. It doesn't tell you that you shouldn't or should vote for Gingrich because of what he might do as president. But it does distract you and turn us into a nation of gossipy little gutter snipes -- dumb ones at that, eager to laugh at and enjoy others' misery.

In typical New York Times' fashion, on page 10 of the "Sunday Review," they run an editorial entitled "Unfinished Business in Iraq." Unfinished business in Iraq is buried. Gail Collins' smutty column is front-paged.

TV: Covering for their own

Noting the lousy sales for Ani DiFranco's new album, yesterday Kat pointed out that many reviewers are reviewing Ani's politics and not the lousy album she produced. Which had us thinking about how politics allows bad shows to be treated as if they're wonderful. We could have grabbed one last week; however, it was a 'to be continued' and we wanted to be fair.


Let's start there, with 30 Rock which has a great many problems even before you notice that Tina Fey's unable to lose the pregnancy weight. We first checked to see if NOW had called 30 Rock out. Of course not. Even worse, GLAAD praised it.

But GLAAD is a useless group, one Anne Heche rightly attacked when their spokesperson called Ellen DeGeneres ABC sitcom "too gay for TV" on Jay Leno's show. For those whose memories don't stretch back to the late 90s, Ellen had come out of the closet on her self-titled sitcom and in real life. It was the cliff hanger for season four. Season five was what happens after you come out. And what happens after you come out is, apparently, GLAAD trashes you as "too gay." However, if your program includes homophobia, GLAAD praises you, as they did 30 Rock.

For those who have forgotten, Tracy Morgan let his homophobia and sexism run free over the summer. As we noted back in June, Tina Fey's response was to compose a comedic essay, turning the whole thing into a joke. Only we weren't laughing. We take homophobia and sexism as serious as we do racism whereas Tina's only concerned with racism.

And that's why her show has been so homophobic as we have repeatedly noted over the years. The only way to be gay on her show is to flounce in a stereotypical manner and you're never part of the group, you're either a nemesis or you're a one-episode character. And because you're gay -- or, rather, because you're gay on a homophobic show -- most of your comments will revolve around sex.

But not to worry, GLAAD has never called out 30 Rock. Ever. And, in fact, they praised them, their Herndon Graddick did, declaring of the episode we're focusing on for this piece, "I thought it was hilarious. We've been called worse than trash bag manufacturers and look forward to seeing the second part next week."

Yes, Tracy Jordan (Morgan's character) does call Glad the trash bag company to apologize when one of his homophobic rants outrages the LGBT community. Presumably Graddick saw the entire episode (he does insist he's eager to the see the second part, doesn't he)?

What's the message of the "People Are Idiots Too" (that GLAAD praises)? That homophobes are lovable. "He really is a good person," Liz (Tina Fey) insists to a group of stereotypical gay men protesting outside NBC.

It gets worse.

Confronting Tracy not on his homophobia but on the problem he's caused for the show, Liz asks him if he knows how many of his co-workers are gay? She then points out an open door at people passing by, "Him, him, her when she's drunk, I genuinely don't know."

Of the four people only "I genuinely don't know" applies to a series regular. She's referring to Lutz. The two gay men? Extras we've never seen before as is the woman.

And, excuse us, but gay "when she's drunk"? What kind of comment is that on lesbians or homosexuality? Is Tina Fey suggesting sobriety as a "cure" for being gay?

But apparently, because a man with GLAAD found it hilarious, it's okay.

Just like it was okay for GLAAD to declare Ellen "too gay for TV" when Ellen was under fire from idiots who insisted that the show be pulled because the actress and the lead character were gay. Yeah, that's GLAAD, never helping the LGBT community, never standing up for the LGBT community. During the same period, GLAAD rushed to inform America that Mel Gibson wasn't a homophobe. (We all now know better though some of us knew better in real time.) Why, GLAAD wanted you to know back then, Mel was genuinely surprised that anyone found anything in Bravehart homophobic.

Yeah, GLAAD, and D.W. Griffith was surprised people called out the racism in Birth of a Nation, so what's your damn point?

Repeatedly, GLAAD has been in the business of picking on the unpopular while excusing and ignoring homophobia from the popular and powerful.

30 Rock offers no regular gay character, re-enforces stereotypes about the LGBT community repeatedly, turns "gay" into a joke repeatedly (we covered the program's homophobia last February) and GLAAD's just happy to giggle along with the show instead of issuing demands such as the need for a regular gay character. What a pathetic organization.

On the 30 Rock episode, Matt Lauer appears at one point to read a statement from Liz where she says he's "not hateful," Tracy's just an idiot. Which leads to Tracy tossing a flat screen TV and forming a protest led by idiots. And it's time for more hilarity.

The reality is that Tracy Morgan and Tracy Jordan's statements were hateful -- Jordan's far less because he didn't threaten to kill anyone. And the reality is that they were never dealt with, they were just swept aside with, "Tracy's so stupid but he be lovable."

Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin were dismissive of the outcry over the summer. (Alec denies he was dismissive.) But there was one cast member who didn't dismiss the remarks. Does anyone remember that?

Cheyenne Jackson. Though he plays straight Danny, Cheyenne is out and openly out in real life. As it has been on TV since at least the days of The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, sitcoms are more than happy to hire gay actors to play straight (Sheila Kuehl), they're just not big on including gay characters in the mix.

Most critics are referring to the "two parter" of "People Are Idiots Two" and "Idiots Are People Three" but actually it was a three-parter. "Dances Like Nobody's Watching" kicked things off with Tracy upset that Liz wasn't paying attention to him and warning that he would do something crazy to get attention. The other episode that's aired is "The Ballad of Kenneth Parcell." What do all four episodes have in common?

No Cheyenne Jackson.

Where's Danny?

Is Danny not being used because the actor wouldn't be a dancing monkey and pretend that homophobia was okay or funny?

It's a question people should be asking.

They should be also be asking why 30 Rock demonizes gay men, portraying them as willing to marry and deceive a woman to advance, of being a backstabber incapable of having friends, of being devious and . . . Goodness, we're getting to 1950s stereotypes of gay men, aren't we. But GLAAD never says a word.

Did you know that GLAAD joined in the dog pile on Work It? That they declared the show "harmful"? Their action alert included:

While the show’s pilot does not explicitly address transgender people, many home viewers unfamiliar with the realities of being transgender will still make the connection. As the ad states, by encouraging the audience to laugh at the characters’ attempts at womanhood, the show gives license to similar treatment of transgender women.

“This show could contribute to the high levels of job discrimination that transgender Americans face and will give license for people to mock and ridicule those whose gender expression might not fit with what society considers the norm,” said GLAAD’s Acting President Mike Thompson. “The media should use this as an opportunity to address the huge number of inaccurate or offensive images of transgender people in news and entertainment today.”

Oh, "home viewers unfamiliar" might be deceived into believing these two straight men were trans? Anyone mistaking them for "trans" would actually be mistaking them for gay because their working knowledge would be so small, a reality GLAAD ignores.

Seeing a man on TV dress as a woman and be mocked for that, be made fun of, called a "shh-man" and worse? Seeing him hire someone to sit on him for sexual pleasure? Seeing him put a woman on a leash and walk her through a dog park while he is dressed as a woman?

It's strange that GLAAD never objected to any of that -- either for what it implied or for what impression it might leave with viewers. All of those things? They didn't happen on Work It. They happened on 30 Rock. That's Paul, Jenna's sometimes boyfriend. Who on top of everything else is a sexist who is fond of saying "as the man in this relationship" -- while in full drag.

It's not funny. And, again, it goes to how the Republican Tina Fey (Republican until the last decade, of Republican parents, and only a nerdy Republican would have been in college worshiping Amy Grant) portrays gays and trans-genders and cross-dressers and more. But GLAAD will look the other way every damn time. 30 Rock will get away with one insulting stereotype after another and GLAAD will never object.

Before we move beyond the issue of homophobia, we need to note our agreement with Marcia (see her "The joke that is Sundance") that there is no justification for Robert Redford's film festival hosting an event in which Morgan was given the Spotlight Initiaive Award. It hasn't even been a year since Morgan's homophobic and sexist remarks surfaced and all he did after that was p.r. to save his own ass. None of which warrants an award.

But then 30 Rock's racked up a ton of awards and it really hasn't deserved them either. Used to be, the show's tired jokes were recycled from season to season. So you'd get, in season five, Matt Damon's character saying that as a pilot he got a discount at Sunglass Hut and this seasons you get Criss (James Marsden) telling Liz, "I called Sunglass Hut and got my credit limit raised 80 bucks!" But now the rip-offs come much more quickly and within the same season. For example, on the first episode of this season, Jack (Alec Baldwin) riffs on Liz secretly wanting to see Gary Marshall's New Year's Eve -- riffs at length. Then, three episodes later, 30 Rock opens with a trailer for MLK Day.

They really don't have anything left and are just spitting out their own fumes these days.

And that more or less describes Amy Goodman and Democracy Now!

The last months have not been good for the program. There was, for instance, Amy again chatting up her good friend and frequent guest Juan Cole on live TV and radio when Cole lets slip that he's a CIA contractor and Amy fidgits nervously to avoid exploring on air what she already knew. There's been criticism from CounterPunch's Alexander Cockburn, "On Amy Goodman's Democracy Now one was far more likely to hear CIA-consultant Juan Cole issuing fervent support for the entire intervention than rather any vigorous interviewing of informed sources about what was actually happening on the ground in Libya."

Last week, Glen Ford joined the growing chorus calling out Democracy Now! when the show wrongly reported of a protest against Barack Obama, "A crowd of around 100 protesters with Occupy Wall Street and other groups demonstrated outside of the Apollo" ("Headlines, January 20, 2012). At Black Agenda Report, Ford explained the crowd was about 400 and called out "the left flank of Obama's apologists and protectors" including Amy Goodman's show, "But Democracy Now!, whose politics has undergone a palpable turn to the right during Obama's time in office, told its audience that only about 100 people protested, when in reality, the MoveOn section of the demonstration alone approached that number. In this sense, Democracy Now! is worse than the police at reporting demonstrations it doesn't support."

Interestingly enough, Amy Goodman wasted three pages (147-149) of her Exception To The Rulers (copy and pasted with help from brother David Goodman) denouncing NPR and The New York Times for undercounting the crowd at an October 26, 2002 protest. NPR would go on to correct their error on air. A week after her error aired, Amy Goodman has offered no correction. But then she's always been too busy pretending to be Last Journalist Standing to ever issue needed corrections.

Last week came the most telling and embarrassing Democracy Now! moment of all. The morning after the State of the Union Address was delivered by US President Barack Obama, Amy invited Ralph Nader on her program to join her in whoring for Barack.


Ralph rattled off about "lawless militarism" in the speech, that Barack's unable to use the word "poverty," that Barack "says one thing and does another," etc. Goody Whore then asks him what to tell people who ask, "What is the alternative here? Mitt Romney? Newt Gingrich?" Like a cheap whore, Ralph Nader replies the answer is to put pressure on Barack and whimpers about the pressure from the corporations on Barack.

The whole thing was an embarrassment and this publication will never again encourage anyone to ever listen to Ralph Nader again. Nader wants the microphone, so he'll whore now.

We're not in the mood.

The entire segment was a testimonial. The Obama campaign used testimonials in 2008. They were often successful at them. They put lipstick on a bunch of cheap hookers in the summer of 2008 who would lie that they were for Hillary but were for Barack now (we called out one whore who delivered that performance on Democracy Now!, where all the frauds eventually go). This testimonial relies on the premise that you will relate at the beginning and therefore buy into the conclusion: So it starts with the expression of outrage and then ends with a sigh of 'oh, well, what can we do?'.

The testimonial exists to strip you of your anger and your power and turn you into a meek little lamb shuffling off to slaughter.

That it would come from the mouth of Ralph Nader is beyond disappointing.

Let's deal with the what-can-you-do aspect first. What can you do? You can vote a protest vote which does include voting for whomever is on the GOP ticket. You should not, however, try to protest vote by writing in the name of another Democrat. As we reported in 2008, writing in the name of a Democrat (such as Hillary Clinton) in many states will result in your vote being counted for Barack.

In addition, you can protest vote by not voting. That's the option that we're currently entertaining. (We're not advising anyone else to follow our lead, we're merely disclosing.)

You can also vote for a third party or independent candidate.

Have you ever heard of those?

See, we thought every adult knew about that option but it's one Ralph Nader failed to mention on Democracy Now! despite the fact that he ran for president in 2000, 2004 and 2008. Yet now all he can offer is "put pressure" on Barack?

He never thought that was good enough or an answer when Bully Boy Bush occupied the White House. But suddenly it's the answer?

Despite being repeatedly attacked for it, Ralph Nader didn't cost Al Gore the 2000 election; however, none of those attacks on him could have done more damage to Ralph than what he did on TV and radio last week as he refused to suggest that voters even consider a third party or independent candidate. Elaine shared her outrage on Friday. She voted for Ralph in 2008. She'll never do so again. She feels betrayed and, judging from the response to her post, she's far from alone.

Tina Fey and Amy Goodman are two of the most overly praised and petted on the left. Both had some early work that demonstrated some promise; however, that promise long ago flickered out and, even more disappointing, they've become guilty of the very things their supporters supposedly oppose. How sad that what they'll protest from others, they'll accept and applaud from Fey and Goodman.

Amy Goodman's Exception For The Ruler

1 exception

Just in time for the 2012 political season, Amy Goodman and brother David Goodman have updated their self-stroking volume which they've now dubbed The Exception For The Ruler 2012.

Barack Obama may be in the White House but some things haven't changed. For instance, the authors still bash Bush because otherwise they'd have no one to hiss at. Barack?

He's their object of affection.

So they've updated their tome. Page 147, for example, now reads:

Protesters? What Protesters?

ON OCTOBER 26, 2002, the
Democracy Now! crew headed to Washington, D.C., to cover a major protest against an attack on Iraq. Although the police in Washington, D.C., no longer issue official estimates of crowd size, they told us unofficially that there were between 150,00 and 200,000 people. The next day, The New York Times reported that "fewer people had attended than organizers had hoped for . . . even though the sun came out." NPR reported "fewer than 10,000" showed up.

In 2003, this really mattered to me; however, in 2012, I came to understand that really good reporting means getting the totals wrong.
Good reporting means whoring for the White House and working overtime to ensure that they are not embarrassed. That's why, on a recent program, I reduced a protest of at least 400 people in Harlem to 100 people.

As I work hard to whore for Barack Obama and to suck up to power, I am learning that journalists are entertainers. We are not reporters. We go to places that are popular. We broadcast voices that are status quo. We are here to win popularity contests.

So let me make a confession. In the original edition of this book, I went on and on about how we broadcast political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jabar's commentaries on my show. I explained how NPR had hired him first but, due to protests, had dropped him. And I went on and on about how we broadcast him on our show.
Of course, by the time the book made it into print, I had dropped Mumia's commentaries from the show. They were now broadcast by Free Speech Radio News.

I used to live in fear that a reviewer or interviewer would call me out on that. But no one ever did. Yes, I dropped Mumia. Not because of the same reasons NPR did. NPR dropped him because they got complaints from listeners. I dropped him because I got complaints from new outlets that had just begun to carry my show.
So for those who read this 2012 edition and think, "Way to whore Amy!," well let me just tell you, I have been whoring for years. And years.

Those of you are 18 and older should join me in the next chapter, "Seduced by Samantha Power" where I discuss what it's like to embed with a War Hawk.

From the TESR Test Kitchen

Michaelina's offers frozen foods for about a buck and the slogan "LET MAMA FEED YOU!" Praising the line in 2008, The Orlando Sentinel's Moms At Work declared, "I'm here now to tell you: Don't be scared!" We're here to tell you, they don't hire 'em to smart at The Sentinel.

See Moms At Work was tackling Michaelina's Lean Gourmet line, the line that boasts, "When you're looking to cut the calories, without cutting the taste, Mama has you covered."

No, Strange Woman, you don't.

And shoppers would do well to check before purchasing.


For example, Beef & Peppers. There's the regular gourmet line and there's the lean gourmet version. If you eat one, you will be consuming ten fewer calories.

But which one?


If you guessed the Lean Beef & Peppers, you guessed wrong. Though that is the 'diet' version of the product, at 280 calories, that's ten more calories than you'll be getting if you consume the non-diet version.

Radio highlight of the week

glen ford

Last week's strongest radio moment would be a discussion of the new National Defense Authorization Act. The discussion took place on Black Agenda Radio, hosted by Glen Ford (above) and Nellie Bailey (airs each Monday at 4:00 pm EST on the Progressive Radio Network) and was presented as a conversation between Ford and journalist Chris Hedges.

chris hedges

Hedges is the author of many books including the just out in paperback Death of the Liberal Class which we selected as one of the ten most important books of the last ten years and a top ten book of the year in 2010 and in 2011 in Martha and Shirley's survey of The Common Ills community. He is also suing President Barack Obama and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta over the NDAA.

Glen Ford: Veteran journalist Chris Hedges fears that anyone can be thrown into prison without trial under the preventive detention bill signed into law by President Obama so Hedges has sued the president. We asked Hedges how he decided to take on the White House.

Chris Hedges: It actually wasn't my idea. Carl Mayer who has been involved in lawsuits to defend the assaults against civil liberties including the ACLU lawsuit against the FISA reform act -- of which I am one of the plantiffs -- came to me and said, "Look, under this legislation, someone like you could be, potentially because of the nebulous language, charged. You've had direct, personal contact with groups that the state has defined as terrorist organizations. There are no provisions in this legislation to exempt journalists. Would you be willing to be a plantiff?" And I said yes.

Glen Ford: Particularly ominous in this legislation is the use of the term "substantial support," not material support.

Chris Hedges: Right.

Glen Ford: And most people think they understand what material support is --

Chris Hedges: Right.

Glen Ford: -- giving money, passing a gun, something, but substantial support?

Chris Hedges: Right and it could be substantial support for something called associated forces so it leaves open such a broad interpretation that there is no protection for someone like me under this law or I think for ultimately any kind of dissident because there has been a clear effort on the part of the security state to try and tar the Occupy Movement as a movement that's an enemy of American democracy. When you look at the list or the criteria by which the Attorney General's office can investigate people for terrorism, tossing in a couple of obstructionist tactics by the Occupy Movement isn't much of a stretch. I mean, people who are missing fingers on one hand, people who store over seven days of food and provisions, people who have weather proof ammunition. I mean, they're going to have to round up my entire family in rural parts of Maine.

Glen Ford: That's their profile of the potential terrorist.

Chris Hedges: Yeah, as 'worthy of investigation.' We know that there are at this point probably tens of millions of Americans who, because of the FISA reform act, whose e-mails, home messages, all of which are being monitored by the government

Glen Ford: In terms of substantial support, that could be interpreted as speech, giving aid and comfort to someone that they declare is the enemy.

Chris Hedges: Yeah, the way the law is written is, when you read it really closely, really terrifying because it's the whim of the security and surveillance state whoever they want to go after they can pretty much do so under this piece of legislation and then, of course, the way they do it is to use the military to carry out extraordinary rendition on American city streets. And I think to listen to the Obama White House, you know Obama assured in his signing statement that he would not use this legislation to target American citizens? Well [US Senator] Dianne Feinstein proposed inserting into this legislation a clear statement that American citizens would be exempted from it and this was rejected by both the Democractic Party and the Obama White House. They had an opportunity to do it and they didn't. And we know from leaks out of [US Senator] Carl Levin's office that the difficulty that the Obama White House had with the bill was not over the denial of due process but the fact that the executive branch wanted to abrogate for itself the right to decide who, what American citizens would be subject to arrest and detention without access to a lawyer or courts by the military and who would be given exemptions. It was a debate about the prerogatives of the executive branch, it was never a debate about due process or the rule of law.

Glen Ford: Now if we don't have due process, do we have the rule of law?

Chris Hedges: Well if you don't have due process, you don't have the rule of law.

Glen Ford: Are you optimistic?

Chris Hedges: I don't have a lot of faith in the Supreme Court. We saw the case of Jose Padilla. They used to call him the sort-of missing hijacker. He was a US citizen held for three and a half years in a military brig without access to a lawyer or due process. It was challenged, went up to the Supreme Court and, before the Supreme Court took up the case, he was transferred to a civilian court and the Supreme Court said they wouldn't rule on it because it was moot. I mean, they sort of passed it. But given the composition of this particular Supreme Court, I wouldn't say I'm optomistic but I still say we have to try.

Glen Ford: Apologists for Obama say, 'Well this law is nothing new. President Bush claimed the right to detain anyone based on his own criteria and without charges. And that this is nothing new. But it is something new when you codify it into law with the benediction of the Congress.

Chris Hedges: They're right only in this sense: Under the 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force Act, they already were doing a lot of this stuff -- including, of course, targeting American citizens for assassinations. Barack Obama serving as judge, jury and executioner for
Anwar al-Awlaki, the cleric who was murdered in Yemen. But I think that most legal scholars saw that as a fairly radical interpretation of that piece of legislation. This [NDAA] essentially legalizes, overturns 200 years -- over 200 years -- of law to permit the armed forces or the military to carry out domestic policing. And I think the other important point about this legislation is that the 2001 act was tied to groups who were directly related to al Qaeda. This now permits this kind of war against a multiplicity of groups, many of which didn't even exist when 9-11 happened -- groups in Yemen, groups in Somolia. It's a way of sort of cementing into place the permanent war psychosis. And remember that these people can be picked up by the military, held without charges, without trial, without access to an attorney, in the language of the bill, until the end of hostilities. Well, you know, when is that? This is an endless war. The 2001 act was bad enough but, you know, at this point to pass a piece of legislation like this which goes into effect in March is catastrophic assault against what's left of civil liberties and our anaemic democracy.

Glen Ford: If this bill had moved through Congress when Bush was president, would you have expected a hailstorm of protest?

Chris Hedges: The Democratic Party is very good at expressing moral outrage against George Bush or Republicans but doing absolutely nothing to counter those activities. So yeah, you would have had the Democratic Party and the liberal establishment speaking out against it and expressing deep disgust and distaste for these measures yet at the same time I think what these people do and what they say is very different.

Again, Black Agenda Radio is a weekly program hosted by Glen Ford (above) and Nellie Bailey (airs each Monday at 4:00 pm EST on the Progressive Radio Network and cross-posted to Black Agenda Report -- usually on Tuesdays.)

Photo of the month


Well lookie lookie, the fairy tale comes home.

CPB failing the mandate for diversity (Ava and C.I.)

One thing our CPB friends -- as well as the people at Undercurrents -- can be thankful for is that we waited until today to write about them -- meaning the program finished its fundraiser yesterday. What is Undcurrents? Not a good program for women, not a good program for equality or diversity.

The Association of Independents In Radio noted in the summer of 2006, "Conceived in response to Native Radio's request to diversify and add programming, the most striking aspect of UnderCurrents is the way it challenges conceptions of Native music and Native tastes." Your first tip off that all was not as it appeared was when the brief write-up featured five artists: Beck, Bjork, Neil Young, Robbie Robertson and Bob Marley. Native Radio, for those who don't know, is Native American radio. The closest to a Native American on that list is the half-Jewish (his father's side) Canadian Robbie Robertson (his mother's Mohawk). He's about as Native American as Cher but you'll never hear her on Undercurrents.

Among the many reasons for that is that you don't hear many women period on the program.

A 'good' broadcast of the daily program might feature eleven women and some might argue that sounds like a solid number. Hopefully, those making the argument would be unaware that Undercurrents is a five hour, commercial free, radio broadcast.

On Saturday's program (playlist here), you'll find 14 women featured if you're as generous as we were. Generous? If it's not a solo female, our rule is they had to be a vocalist. Not 'a harmony vocalist.' They had to be in the group as an equal member, the way Stevie Nicks is with Fleetwood Mac. They may not always sing lead vocals, but they do sing lead vocals. Backup singers? They're backup singers.

Our guidelines ended up eliminating, for example, the "Native Radio" classic "Respect Yourself" covered by "Native Radio" artist Huey Lewis & the News -- with female backup singers. Our guidelines did allow groups with female members who sing but didn't sing on the song played to be included in our 14.

'Some may argue, that's not fair to some women, just counting vocalists!' Yes, it is true that our system will overlook, for example, the 10-member band with a sole female flugelhorn player. We're okay with that. Bands with female "dancers" also didn't make our 14. And for those who argue that's not fair, we'll point out that host Gregg McVicar doesn't do much more than tell the name of the artist and song. Expansive for him on Saturday night's program, for example, included dubbing solo artist Tchiya Amet "a soccer mom." Amet describes herself on her MySpace pages as "basically a buppy" which, for those unaware, "a young, upwardly mobile black professional."

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14 different females. But again, we've been generous. Even being generous doesn't change the fact that 16 songs (Wanda Jackson and the group Pamyua have two songs each played) out of 79 doesn't begin to approach equality.

What is it? It's 17.7% of the playlist. 17.7% of the playlist featured women (there were four bands -- only one, The Be Good Tanyas -- was an all female band).

Why does it matter?

It should matter because, in 2012, you wouldn't catch that on most commercial radio stations. (Certainly not country or popular music.) We've thankfully moved beyond that and beyond the fears of 80s "Hits Radio" about playing two female artists in a row.

And this isn't commercial radio, this is public radio meaning the American public is paying for it with pledges and with tax dollars. Their money is being used to continue and promote sexism.

It's appalling that the Corporation for Public Broadcasting would give money to a program for diversity without imposing guidelines on what qualifies for diversity.

As we noted earlier, the only reason the program exists is, let's be honest, to shut up Native Radio by offering a 'diverse' program. It should be standard for any grant for diversity that diversity is defined.

17% of the performers featured are women? That doesn't qualify as diversity.

It doesn't qualify as half (50%), it doesn't qualify as a third (33%), it doesn't qualify as a quarter (25%), it doesn't even qualify as a fifth (20%).

Nor do Eric Clapton, Steve Winwood, the aforementioned Huey Lewis, Tom Petty, John Fogerty, the Rolling Stones, the Cars, etc. (all featured on last night's broadcast) qualify as "Native Radio" music.

What's going on is that Undercurrents is using tax dollars and pledges to reinforce the all male canon of music greatness. It's crumbled elsewhere but a White man has managed to take tax pay dollars under the promise of creating "diversity" on air and all he's doing is playing the same White man he grew up listening to.

That's why you won't get Carly Simon, that's why you won't get Stevie Nicks, Erykah Badu, Tori Amos and assorted other women. Who will you get? The Beatles, solo Paul McCartney, Paul Simon, Lindsey Buckingham, R.E.M., Duncan Sheik, Radiohead, Pink Floyd, Nick Lowe, Coldplay, pre-Stevie Nicks Fleetwood Mac*, T. Rex, Jeff Beck, Elton John, Led Zeppelin, John Hiatt, etc.

Those aren't 'random' men. Those are staples, men played repeatedly in the month of January, over and over, in multiple shows.

They sprinkle in a Native American artist every now and then. Maybe one every hour and a half. They're not living up to diversity via Native American artist (unless Belgian-Australian Goyte is your idea of Native American) and they're not managing diversity in any other way.

If you're not getting how the canon is created and furthered, let's take a minute to explain. You choose a series of men to program over and over, you play them nearly daily. That's usually a series of American (US and Canada) men and British men, all are White. You include Jimi Hendrix and Bob Marley to cut down on charges that the canon is all White. You include Joni Mitchell because if you think you're going to be accused of being a sexist for your numbers, just wait what happens when you exclude the performer whose artistic level is critically rated on the same level as the Beatles and Bob Dylan.

There's another woman they play semi-regularly: Buffy Sainte-Marie. Last week, on the road, we heard her played twice. Buffy is played because she's a Native American -- one of the few Native Americans Undercurrents plays.

And how they play her goes to how the canon works. You choose a number of men, put them in steady and regular rotation. You play their 'classics' -- songs you help make 'classics' by making them well known by repeatedly spinning them over the airwaves. You choose minor songs by women, often sexist songs (there were several this week on Undercurrents -- remember gals, make yourself a stereotype and unimportant and you will be played!) by minor female artists. You avoid any woman who projects confidence in a recording. So you have strutting males up against weak and passive girls thereby perpetuating the myth that women can't make music. (Or rock.)

Remember Buffy? She does have a collection of well known songs. So much so that her first label, Vanguard, released a collection of her sixties recordings in The Best of Buffy Sainte-Marie in 1970 and, the following year, released The Best of Buffy Sainte-Marie Vol. 2. Her well known songs include "Now That The Buffalo's Gone," "Universal Soldier," "Until It's Time For You To Go," "Cod'ine," "My Country 'Tis of They People You're Dying," "Little Wheel Spin and Spin," "Cripple Creek," "He's a Keeper of the Fire," "Gonna Feel Much Better When You're Gone," "The Carousel" and "God Is Alive, Magic Is Afoot" (all songs written by Buffy except the last one which she wrote with Leonard Cohen). You won't hear those songs. That's how the canon works.

What you'll hear are tracks from her -- synth heavy -- 2008 Running for the Drum. You'll hear these fast synth numbers and slow ballad synth numbers up against Neil Young live performing one of his classics from the 70s -- performing it acoustic. Or Paul Simon, or any number of men. It's a way to undercut her. Ignore her strongest work, put synth work up against canon males not using synths to make her come off "sugary."

It's how the canon's always worked. It protects the males, it popularizes their songs and it works to make an argument against women. You won't, for example, hear any of Steve Winwood's embarrasing eighties synth songs -- even those are the biggest hits of his career and even though you will hear Winwood repeatedly on Uncurrents. That's supposed to compete with live recordings of Eric Clapton?

No, it's not supposed to and that's the entire point. The women they include today (excepting Joni and Native American Buffy) we'll be gone in a few years (quicker if they find success) and replaced with a new underwhelming crop and a heavy sigh of, "We play women, but the audience just doesn't seem to want those songs."

That the CPB is wasting tax payer money to preserve sexism is disgusting and should stop immediately. That we're once again the ones providing the oversight needed is even sadder. As they dole out grants, does the CPB ever bother to monitor how the money is actually spent or would that be too much workers for these employees paid with tax payer dollars?

*Christine McVie plays keyboards and is a lead singer in Fleetwood Mac prior to Stevie joining. However, the songs played are not ones Chris has a lead vocal on. It's the usual male jerk off of Freeform Music (FM radio) of the late 60s and early 70s.

Mumia finally in General Population

Mumia Abu-Jamal

Mumia Abu-Jamal is a political prisoner of several decades. The journalist was found guilty of murdering a police officer in a fixed trial. Many Americans have spoken up for him over the years and have called for a real trial. Some 'friends' of the left have been backstabbers such as corpulent Michael Moore who, in 2003's Dude, Where's My Country?, offered 'advice' under the heading "Admit that the left has made mistakes." His example?

Mumia probably killed that guy. There, I said it. That does mean he should be denied a fair trial or that he should be put to death. But because we don't want to see him or anyone executed, the efforts to defend him may have overlooked the fact that he did indeed kill that cop. This takes nothing away from the eloquence of his writings or commentary, or the important place he now holds on the international political stage. But he probably did kill that guy.

While we agree with Moore that the left has made mistakes (plenty of them and we will continue to make mistakes), we do not agree that Mumia "probably killed that guy." We believe Mumia is innocent and though Michael may have packed on sixty more pounds to his already bulky frame since he wrote that book, that doesn't give his opinion any weight or heft.

Fortunately for Mumia (and all-you-can-eat-buffets around the country), Michael Moore is only one person. And his opinion not all that important. On the left, many have long called for a fair trial, for Mumia to be taken off death row, for him to be released.

The new year brought the news that, at last, Mumia was off death row.

That is a major news. Thankfully, a few outlets have treated it as such. One would be Law and Disorder Radio -- a weekly hour long program that airs Monday mornings at 9:00 a.m. EST on WBAI and around the country throughout the week and is hosted by attorneys Heidi Boghosian, Michael S. Smith and Michael Ratner (Center for Constitutional Rights). Last week, they again discussed the news of Mumia. Excerpt.

Michael Ratner: Heidi, we all heard the good news over the last few weeks that Mumia was taken off death row and is no longer facing the death penalty. I know there are other issues you want to talk about with Mumia and I know you just had a visit with Mumia. So why don't you tell us what's going on with Mumia, where is he, how was your visit?

Heidi Boghosian: Mumia was transferred from the facility SCI Greene where he'd been on death row for 17 years -- 17 of the past 30 years -- in that facility and he was transferred to SCI Mahanoy which is in Frackville, Pennsylvania.

Michael Ratner: SCI means?

Heidi Boghosian: State Correctional Institution. It's about two and a half hours from New York so it makes it a lot easier to visit him than in the other location.

Michael Ratner: Is that where you visited him? In his new location?

Heidi Boghosian: I've been to his new location three times.

Michael Ratner: Wow.

Heidi Boghosian: Yes. And it's actually a medium security facility. The problem is that Mumia's held in what's called Restrictive Custody in the Administrative Housing Unit there. So he was literally taken off death row and moved into solitary confinement where he is shackled and handcuffed whenever he leaves his cell, his number of weekly visits has been reduced to one and that's just for one hour -- that doesn't include legal visits which can last for several hours.

Michael Ratner: Let me ask, and I want you to go on, when you visit him, he comes into the room or where ever you visit him in shackles?

Heidi Boghosian: Yes. And it's noteworthy that years ago at SCI Greene, he also was in shackles until [Bishop] Desmond Tutu visited him a few years ago and complained that this was inhumane treatment because essentially he's behind thick plexi-glass in a small 4 by 6 roughly foot holding unit and there are little perforated holes on the side so you can hear each other. But, so now he's back in the shackles. His phone call privileges have been --

Michael Ratner: Wait a second. You talk to him through a wall?

Heidi Boghosian: Yes, you're sitting on one side of a thick plexi-glass partition. So you're in the same room but it's divided in half by plexi-glass. So, anyway, his phone call privileges have been reduced. He can only have, I think it's ten stamps and envelopes a week. And, as a writer, you can well imagine that Mumia writes probably at least ten letters a day so this is a dramatic change. He doesn't have his radio or TV.

Michael Ratner: Books?

Heidi Boghosian: I think he only has four books. At first, he had none, then they allowed him four. The National Lawyers Guild along with the Human Rights Research Fund, which is co-chaired by Kathleen Cleaver and Natsu Taylor Saito, sent a letter to the Department of Corrections on January 11th calling for him to be moved into General Population as he was supposed to have been when he left SCI Greene. And we cited, as listeners probably know, that for over a century the US Supreme Court has recognized the psychological damage that results from being held in solitary. There was a case in 1890, In re Medley. Also the Commission on Safety and Abuse in America, a few years ago, found that the increasing use of punitive segregation is not only counter-productive but it often results in violence in the facilities and also contributes to post-release recidivism and Juan Mendez, the UN Special Rappoorteur on Torture just a few weeks ago called for a ban on solitary confinement longer than 16 days, reiterating that it amounts to torture or cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment. As a result, the people's movement has really been calling the facility. We are disheartened to note that there were rumors Mumia was going to be moved into general population as of last Thursday and that has -- of this airing -- not happened.

Thursday came news that Mumia had finally been transferred to General Population. From Free Mumia:

As of 1/27/12, Mumia Abu-Jamal has officially been transferred to General Prison Population after being held in Administrative Custody ("The Hole" or Solitary Confinement) at SCI Mahanoy, Frackville, PA for seven weeks. This is the first time Mumia has been in General Population since his arrest in 1981.
This comes within hours of the of delivery of over 5,500 signed petitions to Department of Corrections headquarters in Camp Hill, PA and a compliant filed with the support of United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture, Juan Mendez.
PLEASE NOTE that while this is a victory in transferring Mumia out of the torturous Restricted Housing Unit (RHU), we call upon the closure of ALL RHU's! Furthermore, we call upon the IMMEDIATE RELEASE of Mumia Abu-Jamal and are not disillusioned by this transfer. Free Mumia!

Write to Mumia to send him some love!
Mumia Abu-Jamal

SCI Mahanoy
301 Morea Road
Frackville, PA 17932

Frank Kummer (Philadelphia Inquirer) quotes law professor and one of Mumia's attorney Judith L. Ritter stating, "This is a very important moment for him, his family, and all of his supporters. We are all grateful for the roles played by so many in getting him off death row after so very long."

On the Law and Disorder Radio broadcast, Heidi Boghosian spoke of how the move off death row has brought renewed energy to the call to free Mumia. Hopefully, we will see that in our lifetimes. That doesn't take anything away from the huge accomplishment in Mumia being transferred off of death row. As Michael Ratner noted on the last broadcast of Law & Disorder of 2011, "And, of course, it's still thirty years and you can't get over thirty years [imprisoned] and it's right now facing a life imprisonment sentence so it's still very difficult. But you look for -- I wouldn't call the difference between life and death a small victory -- it's a huge victory against the state. I mean, we shouldn't deny that it's the people's support that really made a difference here."

NPR does inclusion (Ava and C.I.)

NPR has been providing live coverage of the caucus and primaries on the night of the contests. That's been Tuesdays and one Saturday so far. This Tuesday, live coverage will be provided of the results of Florida's 6,796 precincts.

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We have critiqued this coverage as it's aired. The Iowa caucus was covered in "TV: The misguided Water Cooler Set," the New Hampshire primary was covered in "TV: The head scratchers" and the South Carolina primary was covered in "Media: The uninformed boosting ad revenues."

Last Sunday when the South Carolina coverage went up, we began hearing complaints from NPR friends. In the lead up to the primary, Morning Edition and All Things Considered had both featured female voters being interviewed in the daily broadcasts. And while, yes, this should always happen, no, it had not happened with two contests that came before. It was a noticeable and welcome change and one that lived up to NPR's diversity mandate.

We applaud both shows for the coverage they did. On one phone call after another, we repeatedly explained that the efforts were not noted because we weren't covering those two programs. We were covering the live coverage. We further explained that we had planned to review ABC's Revenge, to review it in a creative essay in which we injected ourselves into the review. That we'd done an outline Sunday morning only to have Jim tell us that we had to ("HAD to") cover the South Carolina live coverage NPR offered.

That wasn't our plan. We had each caught at least half the coverage. We didn't take notes. We weren't planning on writing anything about it. But Jim's argument was we had set a pattern. Our argument was (a) we make no promises ahead of time about what we'll cover (we made one on Fringe and ended up having to extend the life of this site as a result -- we were going to slam Fringe for its lack of female characters when a friend with the show asked if we could wait because they were adding more female characters, we agreed to forgetting that the site was supposed to go dark) and (b) if we established a pattern it was for critiquing the Tuesday live coverage.

But we agreed to do something on the South Carolina live coverage.

It was written quickly and under duress.

And while the piece did not include (and was not supposed to include) commentary on Morning Edition or All Things Considered, we will note -- even gladly note -- right now that the two programs did a strong job of being inclusive while covering the lead up to the South Carolina primary.

Rosie Torres: Living with a burn pit survivor


Rosie Torres is the executive director of BurnPits 360. Her husband is Iraq War veteran Captain Leroy Torres who left the US in strong health and had it destroyed by burn pits in Iraq. He is among the many Iraq and Afghanistan War veterans and contractors who are suffering. His wife Rosie Torres has shared what it's like to be a family dealing with the effects of exposure to burn pits.

The barriers faced by those affected by toxic exposure stem from the various components that define the word Toxic Exposures and Burn Pits. It's those same barriers that for thousands of reservists and their families have left them financially, emotionally, and mentally broken. Our story is far too familiar for those that have been affected, so here is our story. I am the wife of Captain Leroy Torres, prior to his deployment I was working full time for the Department Of Veteran Affairs and he served a dual role in his community as both a full time State Trooper for the State of Texas and a U.S. Army Reservist. Our salaries combined placed us comfortably in the bracket of about $90,000 a year, but all that changed the day he stepped foot onto the airbase in Balad, Iraq. Camp Anaconda, the FOB with the largest Burn Pit in existence, the place where all of our dreams and hopes turned into toxic chemicals. The same chemicals that followed us home and have haunted us for the past 3 years.

For thousands of reservists the story goes like this, the soldier returns from war and immediately the effects of toxic exposure surface like the invisible wounds that they are. The soldier begins seeking treatment at various healthcare facilities only to discover that neither DOD nor VA is acknowledging toxic exposure from particulate matter or burn pits. The only option left if you happen to be blessed with the luxury of private insurance is to seek specialized healthcare in the private sector. Desperately seeking answers to the question of why this once active and healthy soldier can no longer function at the capacity that he/she once did. Why the once healthy father/mother, husband, wife, daughter, son can no longer breathe, why the diagnosis of cancer, why the white matter and the lesions in the brain, the fertility issues, the fatigue, the parasitic infections, the list goes on and on. The family spends their life savings traveling to access specialized healthcare from the physicians they call their heroes. The only healthcare providers brave enough to stand behind the truth of how toxic chemicals affect the body.

The family exhausts all of their finances to gain answers, the soldier can no longer work due to multiple diagnosis and symptoms immediately forcing the once successful career person to give up their life-long dreams. The reservists files an LOD which can take up to two years, the veteran files a claim with the VA which will never grant a rating compensation because there is no category for toxic exposures. All of this forces the family into an abyss of darkness, mental stress, financial stress, and denial of acceptance to their new way of life. The once productive, healthy, and functioning military family is suddenly falling apart at the seams. The gap between VA and DOD for the reservist component of the military service members wounded must be bridged by identifying the needs of those affected immediately. Too many people are losing their homes, their life savings, and their hope, hope in a system that once promised to care for them once they returned.

As I watch my husband deteriorate before my eyes, I wonder what happened to that Captain that stood tall and strong, the father that ran 2 miles twice a week with his boys, the state police officer that served on the tactical squad, and the husband that could run circles around me but instead he is now a patient of doctors from every specialty, pulmonary, neurology, Gastroenterology, Infectious disease.

As I walked into the waiting room of the State Department of Human Services to ask for public assistance I thought to myself how can this be possible. What happened to the Captain's wife, to the once full time VA employee, why have we lost our medical tricare insurance for our children, why are we asking for help? My husband holds a masters degree and we are both educated professionals, what happened to our lives? The toxic exposures from the burn pits from war happened to our lives and to thousands of others coming home. It's only a matter of time.

BurnPits360 is working on a number of issues including a national registry for victims of burn pits:

BurnPits360 is serving as a pathway of advocacy to assist veterans, their families, and civilian contractors who have been negatively affected by toxic burn pits. Contractors were assigned the task of properly disposing of any and all trash on military installations in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other locations in the Middle East. Unfortunately, instead of using incinerators, the contractors disposed of the waste through toxic burn pits and now thousands of veterans have been put at serious risk.
BurnPits360 is inviting anyone that has been affected from exposure to toxic burn pits and environmental hazards to sign up on the registry. We are conducting a voluntary cohort anonymous study with Dr. Szema at Stony Brook University. The study simply requires self-reporting your information on the online registry, providing a proof of military service (DD-214), a signed legal consent form, and additional questionnaires. This study will help to provide vital information to doctors and researchers that will help properly diagnose and treat the vast array of medical complications arising from these exposures. It will provide the Department Of Defense and the Department Of Veteran Affairs with data that will allow them to develop a healthcare model for specialized healthcare specific to toxic exposures and environmental hazards.
The importance of this registry is to serve as a model for all military personnel, civilian contractors, and their families to self-report injuries and deaths from toxic exposure from burn pits and other environmental hazards. It will also assist in proving causation and the correlation between the exposure and the illness, as well as determine all areas of possible exposure. It will provide the VA with the data needed to develop legislative language for the development of a compensation and pension category specific to toxic exposures.
Most importantly, this study is completely anonymous. None of your personal information will be shared at any time. (In such cases where information would ever need to be made public, it would not be done so without the members written consent, whereas the veteran, contractor, and/or their family have the option to decline to participate at that time.)
Should you be interested in participating in the study, please contact Burn Pits 360 via email [] or by telephone [361-816-4015].

Homeless Women Veterans

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US, Senator Patty Murray is the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee. Her office notes:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Murray Press Office
January 23, 2012 (202) 224-2834

GAO Report Shows VA's Shortcomings in Dealing with the Rising Number of Homeless Women Veterans

In new report requested by Senator Murray, data shows that the number of homeless women veterans MORE THAN DOUBLED from 1,380 in 2006 to 3,328 in 2010 but that more data is needed


(Washington, D.C.) – A Government Accountability Office (GAO) report released today showed that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has had difficulty in planning for and meeting the unique needs of a growing number of homeless women veterans. The study, which was requested by U.S. Senator Patty Murray, Chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs' Committee, is one of the first of its kind to examine the troubling rise in homelessness among women who have served.

Among the key findings in the report the GAO found that:

· VA has limited data on the number and needs of homeless women veterans, and therefore has difficulty planning to meet their unique needs;

· Homeless women veterans are not always aware of the services available to them;

· VA is unevenly implementing its process to refer homeless veterans to emergency shelter until they
are admitted into transitional or permanent housing programs;

· Facilities have difficulty providing for the children of homeless veterans, and

· VA lacks minimum standards for the privacy, safety, and security of women veterans in mixed-gender housing facilities.

"While we have seen a decrease in the overall number of homeless veterans, the number and needs of homeless women veterans across the country are growing and the VA is struggling to keep up," said Chairman Murray. "I've been sounding the alarm that these veterans, many of whom are also struggling to provide for their children, are going to need unique attention from the VA. But as this report shows, the VA has not properly planned for or met the unique needs of these veterans. I'm going to be working to ensure that the recommendations in this report, including increased collaboration between VA and HUD, are followed. I'll also be working to make sure that as more women return from Iraq and Afghanistan, the VA is keeping pace with the need to track and provide the services that they need."

Senator Murray has been a leader in calling for increased services for women veterans, including those who have become homeless. Last Congress, she enacted legislation to create an employment program for
homeless women veterans, including those with children. This year, she passed legislation, which extends VA's transitional housing programs for special populations, including women with children. She is also continuing to advocate for a legislative provision, included in S. 914, that authorizes VA to pay for the children of homeless veterans in the Grant and Per Diem program. Senator Murry intends to explore this issue, and others at a hearing on veteran homelessness shortly.


Meghan Roh

Deputy Press Secretary

Office of U.S. Senator Patty Murray



Get Updates from Senator Murray

LGBTQ protesters: 'Gay families matter!' (WW)

Repost from Workers World:

LGBTQ protesters: ‘Gay families matter!’

Published Jan 28, 2012 11:15 AM

In Michigan, the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community is fed up. LGBTQ people are mad at right-wing legislators and the support they are getting from Gov. Rick Snyder.

More than 150 people rallied outside the State House in Lansing on Jan. 19 to deliver a message: “Gay Families Matter.” The protest was organized by a coalition of LGBTQ community centers around the state, after Snyder signed a bill making it illegal for any public employer to provide domestic partner benefits.

Zachary Bauer, executive director of the Kalamazoo, Mich., Gay and Lesbian Resource Center, explained that 60 percent of the voters of Kalamazoo voted to give domestic partner benefits to city workers. The bill overturns this progressive vote. “They took away your voice,” said Bauer.

“Anytime that someone works to deny the rights of a group — rights that they enjoy — they are a moral hypocrite,” said David Garcia, executive director of the Detroit-area community center, Affirmations. “I am a gay father. My son lives with me. I am a Mexican-American. My son is being raised by many aunts, uncles and cousins. Rick Snyder is a moral hypocrite.”

“We’re residents of the state of Michigan. We deserve the same rights as heterosexual families,” added Curtis Lipscomb, executive director of KICK, a Detroit organization for LGBTQ African Americans.

Also represented at the rally were ­LGBTQ centers from the Michigan cities of Benton Harbor, Grand Rapids, Ann Arbor and Saginaw; the Ruth Ellis Center for LGBTQ youth in Detroit; and the statewide civil rights group, Equality Michigan.

When Snyder exited the building, he waved but maintained his distance from the rally. He was loudly booed, and so was the bill’s sponsor, Republican State Rep. Dave Agema. Protesters followed Agema down the street, chanting “Gay families matter!” Agema complained on Facebook of being “swarmed with gay men screaming hate at me.”

Right wing targets LGBTQ community

Last year, the right wing failed to strip state employees of domestic partner benefits. An anti-same sex marriage bill passed by Michigan voters was used to try to take away these negotiated health care benefits. The right wing said granting equal benefits treats same-sex relationships as the equivalent of heterosexual marriage and is therefore illegal.

The Civil Service Commission then ruled that a state employee could choose an individual living with them — a partner, family member or housemate — to put on their insurance plan. A majority of the state legislature voted against the Civil Service ruling but lacked the supermajority needed to overturn it.

The latest bill is a mean-spirited attack on LGBTQ municipal and county workers after the right wing could not take benefits away at the state level.

The same state legislature refused to pass an anti-bullying bill to protect schoolchildren from abuse based on categories including race, religion, sex and sexual orientation. In other states, where policies “enumerated” specific types of discrimination, student complaints decreased.

Michigan was one of five states that had no anti-bullying statute until a weakened law passed last year without enumeration. The bill removed previous language that actually contained an exception for bullying driven by religious conviction.

The LGBTQ movement in Michigan will try to stop the state legislature from passing House Bill 5039, which would overturn local civil rights ordinances that prohibit anti-LGBTQ discrimination. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled a similar bill in Colorado unconstitutional.

There are at least three other bigoted bills that may be voted on this year in Michigan. Senate Bill 518 forces state universities to allow students in psychology and counseling programs to refuse to counsel LGBTQ students. House Bill 4089 blocks gender reassignment surgery in prisons and other state institutions. Agema has introduced a new bill that eliminates the Healthy Michigan Fund Initiative for HIV prevention and care, making Michigan also ineligible for federal funds for these programs.

The right-wing attacks on the LGBTQ community are anti-union and anti-democratic. It is now illegal for public unions to negotiate equal benefits. The right of a local community to ban discrimination is threatened.

Meanwhile, Michigan Public Act Four allows Snyder to appoint an “emergency manager” to take over a city, county or school board, stripping power from elected governments. The EM can break union contracts, privatize schools and sell public assets, but must fulfill debt obligations. So far, most cities under receivership are majority African-American.

Activists at the demonstration on Jan. 19 eagerly signed the petitions to repeal Public Act 4.


This piece is written by Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude, Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix, Kat of Kat's Korner, Betty of Thomas Friedman is a Great Man, Mike of Mikey Likes It!, Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz, Ruth of Ruth's Report, Marcia of SICKOFITRADLZ, Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends, Ann of Ann's Mega Dub, Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts and Wally of The Daily Jot. Unless otherwise noted, we picked all highlights.

"I Hate The War" and "Sir Talks A Lot" -- the two most requested highlights by readers of this site and Ty asked us to note that the latter is to be credited to Ava and C.I. (C.I. wrote it based on observations she and Ava made about the State of the Union address and they wanted it written to avoid Jim assigning them the State of the Union for this edition).

Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "State of the Union" -- Isaiah's highly popular comic on the State of the Union address.

"Rice Casserole in the Kitchen" -- Trina offers a recipe and a look at reality.

"United Steelworkers sells out workers" -- And we're also placing high Trina's explanation about unions. All of us are pro-union. We are not, however, pro-union selling out the workers.

"Animation" -- Betty discusses a talent she wishes she had.

"Oh, how they copy" -- Ruth noting photo copies as opposed to the real deal.

"Screw Flanders and screw Nader" -- Elaine speaking the truth.

"Whitney," "5 men, 1 woman," "no revenge," "Whitney," "Body of Proof?," "The NewsHour: Failing at the Fact Check," "South Park," "grimm" and "Desperate Housewives" -- Betty, Ann, Rebecca, Marcia and Stan cover TV.

"Ani DiFranco's latest falls to 286" -- Kat charts Ani's 'success' with her bad album.
"Netflix" -- Stan on the problems.

"Iraq snapshot," "Diane," "continuing c.i., i grab goodman," "Ricks, Rosen, Vessar and the rest of the creeps," "Grab bag" and "2 women, 4 men" -- C.I. started a discussion and Trina, Rebecca, Marcia, Elaine and Ann continue it.

"Sir Talks A Lot," "America's back? From where?," "Barack's not a Christian," "Sir Talks A Lot and a Lot and a Lot and a Lot" & "THIS JUST IN! SIR TALKS A LOT!," "That awful speech," "The NewsHour: Failing at the Fact Check," "oh, gloria feldt, give it up already" and "Genius of the week" -- some of the State of the Union coverge in the community -- Ava & C.I. (and please note that three snapshots last week also include State of the Union coverage by C.I.), Betty, Mike, Cedric & Wally, Trina and Rebecca.

"Academy Awards" -- Kat on the nominations.

"The Approved Cover" -- Isaiah dips into the archives.

"Glen Ford's important report" -- Mike notes Ford.

"Embarrassing Pelosi" and "THIS JUST IN! U.S. FINALLY BELIEVES PELOSI!" and "The battle of the speakers comes to a close" -- Ruth and Wally and Cedric on when Pelosi is believable.

"Who gets an obit?" -- good question from Kat.

"Rand Paul" -- Ruth notes some people need to educate themselves.

"The joke that is Sundance" -- Marcia speaking some strong truths.

"Hillary Clinton's president?" -- Stan offers a strong critique.
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