Sunday, December 16, 2012

Truest statement of the week

After a series of strikingly unsuccessful meetings on Capitol Hill in which she failed to impress even moderate Republicans such as Susan Collins of Maine, Rice also found herself facing resistance from foreign-policy elites who questioned her temperament and her record. In addition, human-rights critics were up in arms over her behavior toward African dictators, particularly her role in allegedly holding up publication of a U.N. report that concluded the government of Rwandan President Paul Kagame, with whom she has a long and close relationship, was supplying and financing a brutal Congolese rebel force known as the M23 Movement.

-- Michael Hirsh, "Obama Gets a Solution to His Susan Rice Problem" (National Journal).

Truest statement of the week II

Letting CNN explain to us what it means to be black in America is about as smart as chickens choosing Popeye's to teach their history. To nobody's surprise, the latest installment of CNN's “ Black in America” spoke more to white perceptions of blackness and black history than it did to actual black experiences. This episode's focus on what Zora Neale Hurston called “the tragic mulatto” revisits what's always been chiefly a white obsession, rather than any central fact of African American life, and offers a fake history of the origin of the so-called “one drop rule” which makes anybody with detectable African ancestry in the US considered black. 

-- Bruce A, Dixon, "CNN's Black In America: What Happens When Popeye's Teaches Chickens History & Current Events" (Black Agenda Report).

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.

And what did we come up with?

Michael Hirsh on the Rice debacle.
Bruce A. Dixon. 
How do you miss four days of massive protests in Iraq?

Ava and C.I. cover the 12.12.12 concert.  We took a break before doing the note.  Two have e-mailed to say it's "12-12-12-" and link to Huffington Post.  Actually, check the article, it's 12.12.12.  You'll note that in the screen snap of Brian Williams from the live YouTube broadcast.

We have one more article to go and then we wrap this feature up.  Thanks to Dona and Kat who went through screen snaps to pick the ones for this article.

In a functioning world, The Nation would make this the cover story, Democracy Now would spend the hour on it, CodePink would object to it and various leaders would be calling it out.

The spy community wants to gut the safety net.

We only heard of this while working on the edition.  Dona said we could do it as a short feature so we did.

From Senator Murray's office.

Repost from Workers World.

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


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

Editorial: How did they miss that?

Iraq is an oil-rich country of approximately 30 million people and there are many stories to cover.  The US press has long seemed to be hung up chiefly on the oil -- reflecting the US government's own interest in Iraq.  But they have managed to cover other stories out of Iraq.

So how is it that a major protest -- one that lasted days -- which took place last week didn't get coverage?

Oh, it must not have been in Baghdad, right?

Because so many of the non-Iraqi reporters are little more than human veal and Baghdad acts as their cage.  So if it doesn't happen in Baghdad, it didn't happen.

But, thing is, Baghdad was one of the places it did take place in.

On Monday, Nouri al-Maliki supposedly gave a speech on human rights but the speech was really Nouri blasting people for talking about the abuse of women in Iraqi prisons and to trash cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr.

Moqtada's supporters did not take kindly to this.  Here's Baghdad on Tuesday.

dar addustour

kitabat 2

al mada

 all iraq news

See all those protesters?  The protests were noted in Tuesday's "Iraq snapshot":

In Basra and Baghdad today, protests took place against Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.  Al Mada reports photos of Nouri were burned and he was denounced loudly.  As noted in yesterday's snapshot, Nouri used a Monday speech allegedly about human rights to attack Moqtada al-Sadr -- cleric and movement leader.  Dar Addustour adds "thousands" poured into the streets in Baghdad at two o'clock in the afternoon.  As they marched to a central location, Muzaffar Square, they chanted slogans.  Nouri can take comfort in that his wasn't the only photo burned -- there were also a few photos of former leader Saddam Hussein that were set on fire.   All Iraq News notes that as the protests took place, Moqtada al-Sadr issued a statement noting that the Iraqi army must be armed but not via corrupt deals (like the Russian deal Nouri signed and then called off) and that all arms must be to defend Iraq and not used to attack Iraqis.  Please note that all three previous links have a photo of the turnout in Baghdad, it was huge.  Just how large it was may be best captured in the photo Kitabat runs.  At the Basra protest, Sheikh Khalid al-Issawi tells Al Mada that the protest is to convey the outrage over Nouri's verbal attack on Moqtada while, in Baghdad, Sheikh Taha Altablawbawi explains that the people of Sadr City, elders, intellectuals, children, all, are serving notice that attacks on Moqtada al-Sadr will not go unnoticed and will result in a response. Protester Sam Abdul-Mahdi tells Alsumaria that this is the start of protests in Basra and that Nouri should retract his attack on Moqtada.  The Iraq Times reports that Nouri ordered helicopters to fly overhead during the Baghdad protest and that some Sadrists saw that as an attempt at intimidation.
Al Mada reports that Iraqiya is warning that if changes do not take place in Iraq quickly, popular uprisings will take to the streets.  Protests were taking place around Iraq in January.  Demonstrators were calling out the disappearance of their loved ones into the 'justice system,' they were calling out the lack of jobs and the lack of basic services.  This swelled into the massive protests that took place across Iraq February 25th.  Iraqis took to the streets and, in Baghdad, Nouri sent his forces to attack.  Iraqi reporters were kidnapped by the police after covering the protests, they were then tortured and forced to sign statements saying they had not been tortured.  Haidi al-Mahdi was one of those reporters.  It was after the protests, he and some other reporters were ordering lunch and seated a table when Nouri's forces barged over, used the butt of their guns to strike people and rounded up Haidi and the other reporters.

And the protests didn't end the day they started.  As noted in Friday's "Iraq snapshot," "Al Mada notes that protesters also showed their support for Moqtada on Wednesday in Baghdad, Najaf, Basra and Maysan and that they called out Nouri and burned photos of Nouri.  Al Mada reports that the protests continued in Baghdad and Najaf today for the fourth consecutive day.  If you're not aware of those protests, it's because the non-Iraqi media hasn't been reporting them."

So where was the coverage?

Massive protests against a sitting leader, he is denounced at the protests, his pictures are burned at the protests -- where are the US reports of this happening?

The US installed Saddam Hussein.  He's the tyrant they would turn on.  But for many years, the US government was more than happy to do business with him.  In the eighties, for example, he and Donald Rumsfeld (who would become US Secretary of Defense in 2001) were very tight.  But as tight as Rumsfeld and other US officials were with Hussein, even tighter was the US press.  In fact, Eason Jordan would take to The New York Times after the start of the Iraq War to whine about how CNN wasn't able to report the truth about Saddam Hussein.

It appears the US 'news' industry is yet again censoring itself.  In 2019 or so, when the world is going on about what a tyrant Nouri al-Maliki is (and he is, he shut down another TV station in Baghdad on Saturday and is threatening a newspaper editor currently) and wondering how it happened and where were the reporters, remember, they knew what was happening.

They just didn't report it.

TV: The Greed-athon

Ravi Shankar passed away last week and, yet again, his timing was impeccable.  The artist impacted the world of music and much more.  With UNICEF, Shankar and George Harrison started "the rock-and-roll benefit concert" in 1971 with the Concert for Bangladesh.  A legendary concert for victims in need that changed the landscape was in stark contrast to what 12.12.12 offered.


12.12.12 was a concert for . . . something.  Wednesday night's performers often seemed confused about what exactly -- which might explain the lackluster performances.   Anytime a concert gets more coverage for what a performer wore (Kanye West performed in a leather skirt and leggings) than for any song performed, that's your first clue that the music didn't make it.

Your second clue that the music was less than inspiring was that the second most talked about topic after the concert was Adam Sandler's rewriting Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah."  Sandler's been around forever and hasn't shown anything fresh since 1992, three years before he was fired from Saturday Night Live.  His most recent live-action film (That's My Boy) cost $70 million to make (plus prints and advertising) and didn't even bring in $40 million in tickets in the US.  If you hadn't caught that he was a moldy oldy before, maybe seeing him do song parodies like he used to decades ago on SNL should have tipped you off?

Instead, it resulted in glee from New York magazine, Rolling Stone and many others who attacked Mitt Romney.   That was puzzling because what was Adam Sandler doing but espousing Romney?  Begging for others to pay the bill while insisting "we" (his NYC clan) built it.  Did they miss that?  Did a few dirty words have them so amused that the entire point of the song was lost?

The further away from NYC you got, the more of a bomb Sandler's song was.  Though few connected it to Romney, we did hear people in the DC area and Colorado express sentiments about how irritating and insulting they found Sandler whose routine translated as, "We're the best in NYC, no one is better.  Now all you scum outside of NYC send us money!"  Probably not a good idea to beg for money by bragging about yourself, let alone implying others aren't worthy.

As you listened to the insufferable Sandler or the overly made up Jon Bon Jovi (who may have topped Sandler if you include the pre-taped spot aired during the concert where JBJ implied hurricanes prior to Sandy were minor -- apparently former pop stars never heard of Hurricane Katrina), you realized something else: The ego on NYC celebrities is appalling.


The 'victims' were on stage. Or answering the phones.  Poor Ben Stiller!  He shared with Brian Williams that he had been without electricity for nearly nine days!  Oh, the horror.  Ben Stiller, trapped -- due to poverty -- in a tiny hovel with no electricity . . . Oh, that's right.  A mansion.  And he could have left at any time and jetted off somewhere (like Hawaii where he'll be golfing with Barack Obama during the Christmas break).  Whoopi Goldberg was among the confused as she Price-Is-Righted a Samsung Galaxy for the cameras when she should have been focusing on the victims of Sandy and not hawking a product to Brian Williams.

Maybe the 'victims' on screen and their bad behavior explains the money raised?  Kara Williams (MTV) reports that "more than $30 million was raised from ticket revenue, sponsorships and corporate donations."  For perspective, Live Aid raised over $280 million in 1985.  Maybe smug stars full of themselves don't garner as much sympathy as people who are starving?

Kimberly Nordyke (Billboard) reported that "5.2 million" were watching the concert on TV at any given moment with a total of 19 million having checked out the five hour concert.  In other words, at any given moment more people were watching Tim Allen on any episode of Last Man Standing than bothered to watch 12.12.12.  Nordyke points out that in addition to multiple channels in the US, it was also streamed online which only makes the donations appear all the more paltry.

Daltrey?  Yes, the Who was there and 'singer' Roger Daltrey spent big on pec implants so the 68-year-old man felt the need to strip and show.  It's a shame he didn't take time for sit ups or lipo on the stomach.  But maybe the implants detracted from the fact that he just couldn't hit the notes anymore?  Despite being decades younger, Jon Bon Jovi couldn't hit the notes either.

It was embarrassing.  Almost as embarrassing as the performance of "Cut Me Some Slack."  If you were to ask people to make a dream team of a Beatles and Nirvana combo, we believe most playing this fantasy band contest would assemble Kurt Cobain and John Lennon with George Harrison and Ringo Starr rounding things out.  12.12.12 offered Paul McCartney (the most vanilla of the Beatles) and the failures who backed Kurt.  So it was the bland leading the bland.

Piano Man Billy Joel and Piano Woman Alicia Keys were the only real reason to watch.  Both offered perspective and range that was missing in the obviously rushed performances (the Stones didn't even use all their allotted time).

Two acts were worth watching in five hours?  That's not an endorsement.  Also missing were the actual victims.  For every Kristen Stewart patting themselves onstage for hopping a plane to be there, there were actual victims who were in the area but not at the concert because this benefit concert apparently wanted to use the victims, not embrace them.  In New York especially, this became an issue.  Though you were more likely to hear of it when the scalping scandal was raised, the bigger outrage for NYC residents still suffering was that no efforts were made to provide tickets for them.

They might want to consider themselves lucky.  The sight of Jon Bon Jovi humping the aged Bruce Springsteen on stage may have been meant to recall the open mouthed, french kisses Bruce used to exchange with the late Clarence Clemons but it just left us worried Patti Scialfa would spend days trying to get Jon's make up off Bruce's shirt.  We pictured her scrubbing away as furiously as the Cult of St. Barack.  After all, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut are part of the United States.

Willie Nelson and John Menllencamp championed Farm Aid in the 80s because the US government (under Ronald Reagan) was foreclosing family farms to help out corporations.  NYC needs a benefit concert?  That's really an indictment of the White House.  In fact, if this were the 70s, we might see "Obama to City: Drop Dead" on the front page of The New York Daily News.

Instead, everyone on stage and on camera wanted to pretend that an awful hurricane hit NYC (and sometimes New Jersey) and no one had a right to expect the White House to be leading the relief effort.  Heck of a job, Barry.

The Bionic Woman Season 2

"Principles that kill your friends don't fit my definition of principles."  Jaime Sommers makes that statement in the three-parter "Kill Oscar" during the second season of The Bionic Woman.  It captures what the show hinted at frequently during the first season and what it became in the second and third season. So does the screen snap below of Jaime (Lindsay Wagner) and Steve Austin (Lee Majors).

The Bionic Woman

"Kill Oscar" was one of the cross-over episodes between The Bionic Woman and The Six Million Dollar Man.  In it and the other cross-over ("The Return of Bigfoot" and "The Return of Bigfoot Part II") Jaime's not a tag along.  She's an active participant even over Steve's objections.  It's a much stronger Jaime than season one hinted at.

 The Bionic Woman

She's not playing anyone else's game, she's playing her game with her rules such as "Principles that kill your friends don't fit my definition of principles."  This is obvious throughout the season including in the ambitious two-parter "Doomsday Is Tomorrow" (written by Kenneth Johnson) in which a mad scientist, played by Lew Ayers, creates a computer "Alex" to oversee a doomsday device that will kill the world if they can't stop murdering each other with deadly weapons.

The doomsday device doesn't actually exist, Jaime finds out after risking everything.  She explains that the scientist knew someday, someone would try to set off a bomb (triggering the doomsday device) and that this was a way of making the leaders appreciate life and hopefully bringing about peace.   A Russian scientist wonders "will they remember it tomorrow?"  But he's someone Jaime's made peace with, had to trust him to work with him even though it meant exposing her bionics to a foreign agent.   Trust threads its way through every episode of season two as does the motto she embroiders on a sampler "TO YOUR OWN SELF BE TRUE."


That's in the two-parter "Deadly Ringer."  Season two is full of multi-parters because it's a more ambitious and satisfying season.  Lindsay Wagner gets to deeper and richer characterization in the lead role and also gets to again play Jaime look-alike Lisa.  She's tossed in prison and Lisa's set free.  No one will believe her that she's really Jaime.  Again, issues of trust are explored and, as Lisa says at the end, "You know, sometimes it, uh, it does take seeing something in another person before you realize you have that something yourself."  Wagner gives a tour de force performance, one that resulted in the Emmy for Best Actress. 

Seasons one and two were ratings hits for ABC.  With season one, the network wanted a second season but with season two, they were done with it.  They apparently hoped they could have a more cartoonish series and nothing complex.  Season two was too rich and too strong for them.  They also weren't too keen on women.  Fall 1977 would find The Bionic Woman on NBC and The New Adventures of Wonder Woman on CBS.  ABC wasn't opposed to super heroes, you understand.  They kept The Six Million Dollar Man.  What was the difference?  Oh, right, that show had a male lead.

"Kill Oscar" is probably the most famous of any episodes of The Bionic Woman because it introduces the fembots -- robots that pose as women created by another mad scientist, this one played by John Houseman.  (Houseman won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role in The Paper Chase -- Lindsay Wagner also starred in the film and played his daughter.)  The fembots were so popular that they ended up with an action figure, a season three return and overwhelmed the reality that there was also a 'him-bot.'  After kidnapping Oscar Goldman, Houseman sends a robot of Goldman back to OSI headquarters.


Along with John Houseman and Lew Ayers, second season guest stars included Stefanie Powers, John Saxon, Marj Dusay, Norman Fell, Hoyt Axton, Doc Severinson, George Maharis,  James Hong, Ed Walsh, Katherine Helmond, Jeff Corey and, pictured above, Vincent Price, Julie Newman, Hermione Baddeley, Abe Vigoda and William Windom.

 The Bionic Woman

As strong as the multi-episodes stories are, the stand alones work as well.  And one, "Road to Nashville" is one of two episodes that includes commentary from Lindsay Wagner who talks about Richard Dean Anderson's Oscar and how his performance on this show differed from his Oscar on The Six Million Dollar Man, the 'laws of bionics,' the importance of humor, humanity and fun to the show as well as how to sum up Jaime Sommers. The other she offers commentary on is "Biofeedback" which is both a strong episode and an interesting storyline considering Wagner's own interest in and work on holistic health.

The Bionic Woman

Artistically, season two is a huge leap.  Lindsay Wagner's offering a richer characterization than you normally see on TV for female or male characters.  Kenneth Johnson and others behind the scenes are digging deep for storylines that really resonate.  The show becomes haunting and is the perfect lead-in to season three.  Back when the likes of Starsky and Hutch and Baretta and all the rest were perfectly fine to have every season be like the one before, The Bionic Woman pioneered the kind of episodic TV we now expect from all our dramas.

In this series, we've offered "The Bionic Woman Season Three" and "The Bionic Woman Season One" and we actually have one more to do -- hopefully next week.

The Iraq secret the press is keeping from you

You may have missed it, but the US is back in Iraq.


No, we're not just talking about the reports that 3,000 US troops entered Iraq this month from Kuwait (see last week's "Editorial: The superflous American media").  We're mainly talking about what gives them authority to do that, the Memorandum of Understanding For Defense Cooperation Between the Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Iraq and the Department of Defense of the United States of America which was signed December 6th.

The memorandum calls for joint-patrols.  That was a bit hard for some to understand.  Monday's "Iraq Snapshot" covered it and the response to that was a sort of mass denial leading C.I. to offer, "But for those idiots who can't quite grasp reality, my question would be where, if not in Iraq, would you expect these joint-exercises to take place?  Paris?  Are joint teams of US and Iraqi service members going to patrol the Champs Elysees?"  The matter was addressed again in the Tuesday snapshot.

Hopefully, those who were shocked have gotten over their disbelief.

Barack always wanted US troops in Iraq.  He made that clear when speaking to The New York Times in 2007.  When the paper bungled their report on that, we grabbed the transcript of the interview and re-wrote it as "NYT: 'Barack Obama Will Keep Troops In Iraq'"  to emphasize the main point.

Counter-terrorism operations was bandied about in that 2007 interview.

No surprise, the memorandum notes that they will be engaging in joint counter-terrorism operations.

There really are no surprises here but to dispense with a few lies that have been tossed around in the last days, this is not about State Department contractors.  This is not an agreement with the US State Department.  This agreement was signed by the US Defense Department.  

This is about US service members.  Did the White House not think things through?

They thought it through enough to plan for what to do in the case of US service members' deaths.

The only shocking thing about the memorandum is how it has been greeted with silence.  Don't expect  The Nation magazine or Democracy Now! to break from their 'important' whoring for Barack to tell you about the memorandum.  But we've already included the link.  The Pentagon published the memorandum.  

And when you grasp how the alphabets (MSNBC, CNN, ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, etc.) refused to tell you about the memorandum, grasp that the Pentagon made no effort to keep this quiet.  December 6th, they released the following:

Under the auspices of the Strategic Framework Agreement, the Governments of the United States of America and the Republic of Iraq reaffirmed their commitment to an enduring strategic partnership during the second meeting of the Defense and Security Joint Coordination Committee on December 5-6, 2012 in Baghdad.
The meetings held at the Iraqi Ministry of Defense were co-chaired by Iraqi Defense Minister Saadoun Al-Dlimi, the U.S. Under Secretary of Defense for Policy James Miller, and the Acting Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Rose Gottemoeller.
Defense and Security Cooperation is one of the cooperation areas that were agreed upon in the Strategic Framework Agreement signed in 2008 between the United States Government and the Government of the Republic of Iraq in order to strengthen cooperation in areas of mutual interest for the two countries.
The United States and Iraq discussed efforts to continue strengthening their security cooperation, enhance Iraq's defense capabilities, modernize Iraq's military forces, and facilitate both countries' contributions to regional security. The two delegations explored U.S.-Iraq training opportunities and Iraq's participation in regional exercises.
The United States and Iraq also discussed the strong and growing foreign military sales program, a symbol of the long-term security partnership envisioned by both countries. The United States stated its support for Iraq's efforts to meet its defense and security needs.
Both delegations reviewed regional security issues. They exchanged views on the conflict in Syria and its effects on regional stability, with both sides urging an end to the violence and support for a political transition that would represent the will of the Syrian people. The two sides agreed to continue consulting closely on regional security matters.
The capstone event was the exchange of a Memorandum of Understanding signed by Defense Minister Saadoun Al-Dlimi and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta. This agreement represents the enduring strategic partnership between the United States and Iraq, and provides mechanisms for increased defense cooperation in areas including defense planning, counterterrorism cooperation, and combined exercises.
Finally, the United States and the Republic of Iraq committed to convene a third recurring Defense and Security Cooperation Joint Coordination Committee meeting in Washington, D.C., during 2013 to continue discussions on the enduring security and military cooperation between the two countries.
View the Memorandum of Understanding at:

The only thing wrong in the above  is the link to view the memorandum: 

Use the link and realize that the White House got their way, a legal agreement to send more US troops back into Iraq.  Also grasp that the press 'forgot' to inform you of this development. 

National Intelligence Council attacks safety net


Monday the National Intelligence Council was pimping their organization's new report "Global Trends 2030: Alternative Worlds" (PDF format warning, click here).  The report bills itself as "the fifth installment in the National Intelligence Council's series aimed at providing a framework for thinking about the future." If you're wondering, "who?," they helpfully explain:

The National Intelligence Council supports the Director of National Intelligence in his role as head of the Intelligence Community (IC) and is the IC’s center for long-term strategic analysis.
Since its establishment in 1979, the NIC has served as a bridge between the intelligence and policy communities, a source of deep substantive expertise on intelligence issues, and a facilitator of Intelligence Community collaboration and outreach.
The NIC’s National Intelligence Officers  -- drawn from government, academia, and the private sector -- are the Intelligence Community’s senior experts on a range of regional and functional issues.

The "Global Trends" is a yearly report and supposedly just intel.  But it's not.

First, owing to the likely growth of revenues dedicated to funding pensions, health-care, and other entitlements in the West to care for aging populations, younger generations will feel a growing sense of inter-generational inequality. 

Along with endorsing fracking, the report attacks 'entitlements.'  Not just above but elsewhere.

In an "Iraq snapshot" this week, the attack was noted and a member of the administration informed C.I. that she had misread the report.  The only real attack, C.I. was told, came from the report including an essay that New Marxist Review had published.  C.I. responded by asking where that 'magazine' published and whether or not she and the official had both been asleep for a number of years?

She didn't misread the report; however,  a White House official did.

The New Marxist Review 'article'?

That was written by the intelligence community.  Your first clue to that, if you read closely, is that the NMR editor (an unnamed woman in the report -- there is no such real magazine, by the way) ran an essay contest to note the 210 anniversary of Marx's birth.

Why would someone go with 210 as opposed to 200?

That's a good question.  A better one is when was Marx born? 1818.

210 years after would be 2028.

Which is why the report uses that year, it's not a typo.

In 2028, the Editor of the New Marxist Review launched a competition for the best short essay on the meaning of Marx and Communism 210 years after Marx’s birth in 1818. To her surprise, the journal was flooded with thousands of submissions. She was having a hard time sifting through the piles and selecting a winner, but she found one that pulled together many of the recurring themes. The essay made the case that Marx isn’t dead but is instead thriving and doing better in the 21st century than anybody could have imagined just 15 or 20 years ago. The following are excerpts from that essay. 

This 'essay' -- that trashes entitlements -- was written by the national intelligence community.  

So desperate is their lust to kill off Social Security and Medicare that they created a fictional magazine which in the future publishes a (poorly written) essay in which a 'Marxist' celebrates the end of 'entitlements.' 

Those in charge of the spy community don't just want to spy on you, they want to gut the safety net.

A functioning US press would be covering that, would be asking who wrote the 'essay' and where the intelligence community gets off attempting to dictate policy?

But, as we learn each year, we don't have a functioning press in the United States.

Things to watch for


The prison-industrial complex in the United States is built on greed.  More arrests are needed to fill those prisons -- those privatized prisons that have become such big business.

There's a new wrinkle that may be emerging.  Several cities across the country are considering doing with jails what has been done with prisons: Outsourcing, privatizing.

Is that really the way the population wants to go?  For-profit jails?  Jails controlled by people not working with law enforcement, underpaid and undertrained hourly employees?

Pay attention in your community to see what's going on.  Big cities and small towns are both being lobbied by big business to hand over their jails to privatization.

Senator Murray fights for veterans rights

 senator patty murray

Senator Patty Murray (above) is the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.  Last week, she took to the floor of the Senate to fight for veterans and, fortunately, the Senate passed the bill.  (The House may not, see "Is an important bill really about to die in the House?")  Her office issued the following:

Contact: Murray Press Office
Thursday, December 13, 2012 
(202) 224-2834

Murray Bill to Provide Fertility Treatment to Veterans Passes Senate
Senate takes major step forward in finally ending the ban on providing In Vitro Fertilization services to veterans and their families
Passage comes at a time when more servicemembers are suffering catastrophic injuries to reproductive organs
WASHINGTON, D.C. Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray, Chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs’ Committee, passed her Women Veterans and Other Health Care Improvement Act of 2012, through the U.S. Senate by unanimous consent. Murray’s bill builds upon previous law to improve VA services for women veterans and veterans with families and ends the ban on in vitro fertilization (IVF) services at VA to help severely wounded veterans start families. After passing the Senate, the bill will now move on to the House of Representatives where Rep. Rick Larsen has introduced a companion version of the bill (H.R.6527).
Senator Murray made the following statement after the bill passed the Senate:
“This is a major victory for veterans and their spouses, and for their dreams of starting a family. This bill will give veterans that have suffered catastrophic reproductive injuries the ability to access In Vitro Fertilization without having to pay tens of thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket costs. It also brings the VA in line with what military families are offered.
“Providing this service is a cost of war and part of the commitment we make to care for our servicemembers and veterans when they return home. I’m hopeful that now that this bill has passed the Senate without a single objection the House can also move forward and pass the bill before the end of this year. There is absolutely no reason we should make these veterans, who have sacrificed so much, wait any longer to be able to realize their dreams of starting or growing their families.”
Earlier, today Senator Murray delivered the following remarks before calling for the Senate to pass the bill by unanimous consent. During her speech, Tracy Keil, whose story is described in Murray’s speech watched from the Senate Gallery.
Senator Murray’s floor remarks:
Thank you, M. President.
I come to the floor today to request unanimous consent for S. 3313, the Women Veterans and Other Health Care Improvement Act of 2012, which is unanimously supported by the Members of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee.
M. President, this legislation not only builds upon previous laws to improve VA services for women veterans and veterans with families --
But it also brings a new focus to the need for VA to do more to help women veterans and the spouses of male veterans access assistance for one of the most impactful and serious wounds of these wars - reproductive and urinary tract trauma.
As many of you know, the nature of the current conflict and the use of improvised explosive devices leaves servicemembers far more susceptible to these injuries.
In fact, Army data shows that between 2003 and 2011 nearly 2,000 servicemembers have suffered these battle injuries.
Like so many of our veterans, these men and women come home looking to return to their lives, to find employment, and so often to start a family.
Yet what they find when they go to the VA is that the fertility services available don’t meet their complex needs.
In fact, veterans suffering from these injuries find that the VA is specifically barred from providing more advanced assisted reproduction techniques such as In Vitro Fertilization – or IVF
They are told that despite the fact they have made such an extreme sacrifice for our nation we cannot provide them with the medical services they need to start a family.
Veterans like Staff Sergeant Matt Keil – and his wife Tracy, who is here with us today.
Staff Sergeant Keil was shot in the neck while on patrol in Ramadi, Iraq on February 24th 2007, just 6 weeks after he married the love of his life – Tracy.
The bullet went through the right side of his neck, hit a major artery, went through his spinal cord, and exited through his left shoulder blade.
Staff Sergeant Keil instantly became a quadriplegic.
Doctors informed Tracy her husband would be on a ventilator for the rest of his life, and would never move his arms or legs.
Staff Sergeant Keil eventually defied the odds and found himself off the ventilator and beginning a long journey of physical rehabilitation.
Around that same time, Tracy and her husband started exploring the possibilities of starting a family together.
Having children was all they could talk about, once they adjusted to their new normal.
With Staff Sergeant Keil’s injuries preventing him from having children naturally, Tracy turned to the VA for assistance and began to explore her options for fertility treatments.
Feeling defeated after being told the VA had no such programs in place for her situation, Tracy and Staff Sergeant Keil decided to pursue IVF through the private sector.
While they were anxious to begin this chapter of their lives, they were confronted with the reality that Tricare did not cover any of the costs related to Tracy’s treatments -- because she did not have fertility issues beyond her husband’s injury.
Left with no further options, the Keil’s decided this was important enough to them that they were willing to pay out-of-pocket – to the tune of almost $32,000 per round of treatment.
Thankfully, on November 9, 2010, just after their first round of IVF, Staff Sergeant Keil and Tracy welcomed their twins Matthew and Faith into the world.
Tracy told me,
“The day we had our children something changed in both of us. This is exactly what we had always wanted, our dreams had arrived.
“The VA, Congress and the American People have said countless times that they want to do everything they can to support my husband or make him feel whole again and this is your chance.
“Having a family is exactly what we needed to feel whole again. Please help us make these changes so that other families can share in this experience.”
I have heard from these severely injured veterans and while the details of these stories vary, the common thread that runs through them all is that these veterans were unable to obtain the type of assistance they need.
Some have spent tens of thousands of dollars in the private sector – like Tracy and her husband -- to get the advanced reproductive treatments they need to start a family.
Others have watched their marriages dissolve because the stress of infertility, in combination with the stresses of readjusting to life after severe injury, drove their relationship to a breaking point.
Any servicemember who sustains this type of serious injury deserves so much more.
The bill I am here asking to pass today will give VA broad authority to offer advanced fertility treatments to the most severely wounded veterans, their spouses, or surrogates.
It also gives VA the authority to determine how best to offer these benefits.
It reverses this troubling barrier to care and will bring the VA in line with the military which provides these services to this same groups of servicemembers.
This is common sense legislation that we should pass without delay.
In fact, the NY Times recently ran an editorial on this bill and said,
“In more than a decade of combat overseas, the military and V.A. have continually had to adjust to the challenges of new traumas with new treatments, as with the epidemic of brain injuries and post-traumatic stress. Adapting the V.A. health system to better meet reproductive-health needs should be part of that response. It is one compassionate way to fulfill the country’s duty to wounded veterans.”
They also noted that even this Congress should be capable of a bipartisan agreement to pass it.
M. President, I couldn’t agree more.
And I can’t think of any reason why all Republicans and Democrats wouldn’t join us today.
This is about giving veterans who have sacrificed everything -- every option we have to help them fulfill the simple dream of starting a family.
It says that we are not turning our back on the catastrophic reproductive wounds that have become a signature of these wars.
It says to all those brave men and women that didn’t ask questions when they were put in harm’s way, that we won’t let politics get in the way of our commitment to you.
M. President, we can’t let this bill get bogged down in the obstruction that has become typical of this body.
This is too important to delay with procedural tactics.
The VA has an obligation to care for the combat wounded.
That should include access to the care they need.
And our women veterans deserve this, our male veterans deserve this, and our military and veteran families deserve this.
Thank you M. President.
I’d now like to offer a unanimous consent request for passage of S. 3313, the Women Veterans and Other Health Care Improvement Act of 2012.
Matt McAlvanah
Communications Director
U.S. Senator Patty Murray
202-224-2834 - press office
202--224-0228 - direct

Schools push students to for-profit prisons (WW)

Repost from Workers World:

Schools push students to for-profit prisons

By on December 13, 2012 » Add the first comment.
While U.S. corporations seem unwilling to cut into their profits to provide living-wage jobs for millions of unemployed youth, for-profit prisons are finding new ways to jail them.
Concern has been growing over the widespread pattern of funneling students out of schools and into the juvenile and criminal justice system. The practice usually targets impoverished or otherwise disadvantaged youth, especially students of color. So-called educators employ “zero-tolerance” policies that criminalize minor infractions of school rules.
Across the U.S., reports are surfacing that this trend is accelerating.
The U.S. Department of Justice is investigating schools in Meridian, Miss., for their policies of calling police whenever administrators want to discipline students. Police have arrested children as young as 10 years old.
The resulting DOJ lawsuit against the district found that the arrests happen automatically. It doesn’t matter what the children do or whether their actions even warrant arrest. The police simply arrest all children referred to them through the schools.
Once within the juvenile court system, these youth may be incarcerated for days without a hearing and denied basic constitutional rights. The DOJ found that Meridian’s long-time systemic abuse punishes students “so arbitrarily and severely as to shock the conscience.” (, Nov. 26)
Attorneys with the Southern Poverty Law Center started to investigate Meridian in 2008 when reports surfaced of “horrific abuse” of youth in detention centers. They found that 67 percent of the youth warehoused there came from the Meridian school system.
The young people had been denied access to lawyers. Many did not know what they were arrested for. All the students who were jailed or expelled for minor infractions were youth of color. Meridian’s population is 61 percent African American.
What infractions warranted calling the police? In eighth grade Cedrico Green was put on probation for getting into a fight. After that any minor infraction — if he were a few minutes late or broke the school dress code — landed him back in the juvenile detention center. Green estimates “maybe 30” times.
The DOJ lawsuit found that students were incarcerated for “dress code infractions such as wearing the wrong color socks or undershirt, or for having shirts untucked; tardiness; flatulence in class; using vulgar language; yelling at teachers; and going to the bathroom or leaving the classroom without permission.” (, Oct. 25)
Policy benefits for-profit prisons
On Oct. 31, Corrections Corporation of America, the largest for-profit prison/immigrant detention center operator in the U.S., was invited to participate in a lockdown and drug sweep of Vista Grande High School in the town of Casa Grande, Ariz.
Students were lined up against walls and locked in the school, while teams of police using drug-sniffing dogs searched classrooms and student lockers. While unwarranted search for drugs has become routine in many U.S. schools, this was the first raid in which for-profit prison agents participated. Two CCA canine units were involved.
Vista Grande High School Principal Tim Hamilton admitted he was unaware of any particular drug use at the school. His desire was to send a “message to kids.” The raid resulted in the arrest of three students for alleged possession of minor amounts of marijuana. (, Nov. 27)
In 2011, CCA grossed $1.7 billion from its operations that include more than 92,000 prison and immigrant detention “beds” in 20 states. Most of the revenue for warehousing prisoners and immigrant detainees came from per-diem, per-prisoner rate contracts with local, state and federal governments.
School-to-prison pipeline targets students of color
Since the 1970s, rates of school discipline — suspensions, expulsions and even arrests — have doubled. Current education policies give school administrators carte blanche to decide which students they will educate and which ones they will remove. More often than not the students who are not chosen end up in the juvenile prison system.
Students of color are most often the target of these arbitrary disciplinary disparities. African-American students are nearly three times and Latino/a students nearly one-and-a-half times as likely to be suspended as white students. (
Students of color tend to receive harsher punishments than white students for engaging in the same conduct. Segregated schools where students of color predominate are the most likely to use push-out policies and employ the harshest disciplinary policies.
Schools should be places where children go to be educated, not to be fast-tracked into an increasingly for-profit prison system. Our youth need education not incarceration, and we all need a system that puts people’s needs before profits.

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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.

"Is an important bill really about to die in the House?" and "Icky Vicky Nuland and her lust for oil" -- most requested highlights by readers of this site.

Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Symbolic Value" -- Isaiah's latest comic on how somethings have symbolic value but others apparently don't.

"Toaster oven in the Kitchen" -- Trina offers some basic uses for this kitchen appliance.

"Whitney: Fix it or axe it," "5 men," "scandal 'blown away'," "How to ruin a sitcom in season two,"
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