Sunday, March 08, 2015

Truest statement of the week

Of all the public servants I've covered since moving to Washington in 1993, none approach the Clintons in terms of both strengths and weaknesses. While I've never called them corrupt (the Whitewater land deal was legitimate), I can tell you almost 30 years of stories about their entitlement, outsized victimization, and an aggravating belief in the ends justifying the means.

-- Ron Fournier, "Emails May Be a Key to Addressing 'Pay-to-Play' Whispers at Clinton Foundation" (National Journal).

Truest statement of the week II

In light of International Women's Day as well as the recent appointment of Baghdad's first female mayor, civil engineer Zekra Alwach, it's an opportune moment to remember the many "firsts" enjoyed by Iraqi women. 
The nation produced the first female judge, ambassador, and government minister in the Arab world. Iraqi women benefited from state subsidised childcare and education; they once formed about half the public sector workforce and 50 percent of the country's doctors.
Sadly, as the 12th anniversary of a disastrous invasion and occupation looms, there is another rather grim "first" to ponder.

Iraqi women are arguably the first to see their status go from one of the highest in the region to one of the lowest, in less than two decades. (Now followed closely by their sisters in neighbouring Syria.)

--  Hadani Ditmars, "Iraqi Women: 'Things Were So Much Better Before'" ("ICH" - "Al Jazeera").

A note to our readers

Hey --

Another Sunday.  First, 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?

The Clintons. The scandals.
Iraqi women.
So an 11-year-old child is shot dead -- intentionally -- by Iraqi forces and militias and that's not news?
Ava and C.I. take on ShondaLand.

The Hands Up fell down.
Ava and C.I. take on the fifth anniversary of the Ms. Blog.
Law and Disorder Radio discusses Iraq. 
What we listened to.

Repost from Great Britian's Socialist Worker.

The UN on Iraq. 
David DeGraw's latest. 
The Center for Reproductive Rights. 

And last week we didn't have Highlights.

We don't this week.

Last week, we didn't do it.

This week it was done.

But we can't find it.

Our apologies.

But  that's what we came up with.


C.I. just found it.

Ty knew he published it so C.I. looked through other weeks:

That's it above 2/22 - 03/01 and if you click on it you'll see that.  But we're going to change the date on it so it's with the rest of this edition.


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

Editorial: A video tells ten billion words

Don't you love those United Nations statements on Iraq?

You know, the ones about how this got torn down or that got torn down and it's a crime!

It's a crime against history!

It's a crime against culture!

But the crime of murder?

The crime of murdering a child?

The crime of government murdering an 11-year-old unarmed child?

The United Nations stays silent.

TV: The only thing worse than bad TV is the Water Cooler Set that praises it

Not content with 'celebrating' Black History Month with a storyline about selling an African-American woman, Shonda Rhimes decided to insert said woman into a racial injustice story. It was bad TV piled on bad TV but The Water Cooler Set pretended otherwise.


Courtney B. Vance, whose been playing the husband of the President on State of the Union (Alfre Woodard plays the president), showed up slumming on Scandal as a father who really didn't know what to say or do when his son was killed by a police officer so he grabbed a shotgun and ran to the crime scene -- next to the White House.

He was fortunate enough to be saved by African-American angel Olivia Pope.

Are these portrayals of African-Americans supposed to be any less insulting if the 'savior' is also African-American?

Is that really the height of drama?  Stereotypes used as pawns for plot purposes?

And do we really applaud Shonda's growing stupidity?

Courtney B. Vance's character would have been arrested in real life by the end of the episode.

DC has an anti-gun law.

Iraq War veteran Adam Kokesh didn't even threaten anyone with a gun -- unlike Vance's character -- and yet he was sentenced for carrying a gun in DC.

How stupid is Shonda becoming?

Has her rush for 'feel good' battered away all her common sense?

Black Lives Matter -- that's what she was attempting to portray in last Thursday's episode.

This despite episode after episode of Olivia being kidnapped and then auctioned off -- slavery -- to the highest bidder.

Do Black Lives Matter?

We kind of think they do but wonder if Shonda Rhimes does?

Leave out Olivia's mother and father, both recurring characters and not members of the regular cast, and where are the African-Americans on Scandal other than Kerry Washington's Olivia Pope?

They're relegated to bit parts, Shonda leaves them begging for bit parts.

And badly written ones.  Sad sacks in need of Olivia's help or the racist character she wrote for Marla Gibbs ("Where's the Black  lady?" Gibbs was seen asking over and over earlier this year).

There's not one African-American working in the White House?

There was an African-American gladiator on Olivia's team, remember?


Harrison was played by Columbus Short.


Shonda has a history of firing popular African-American men from her shows.

Isaiah Washington was fired from Grey's Anatomy, for example.

There, it was said his behavior was causing problems on the set.

Columbus Short's problems were cocaine and caused no problems on the set.  TV and film have long been able to work around drug use.

He did have some legal issues but it's really not ethical to fire someone for non-convictions.

Short played a very popular character.

He was not presented with an ultimatum ("get treatment or you're fired"), he was just fired.

He was fired for having a disease.

He could sue Shonda Rhimes and ABC for that firing.

He could sue and he would stand a good chance of winning.

Shonda's gotten really stupid.

The only ones more stupid than Shonda?

The Water Cooler Set.

Todd VanDerWerff (Vox) gushed, "It's powerful because it places the current Scandal plots on hold to address issues of police brutality against young black men as forthrightly as any show on television has."


That's the hallmark of a good series?

Putting on hold plots to 'address' issues?


Laura Kadner (Hello Giggles) notes:

Sitcoms are supposed to be situational comedies. But sometimes they turn into situational dramas/this-episode-is-so-scary-that-I-can’t-watch-the-whole-thing/why-is-this-happening/this-is-supposed-to-be-serious-but-it’s-funny. I watch these episodes and sometimes wonder if I’m suddenly in some sort of waking nightmare. I can’t believe the things that are happening are actually happening. So I’ve gathered together the most memorable of these episodes, despite how much they may disturb me and others, simply to prove they exist.

Some may argue Scandal's not a sitcom.

They are right.

It's a soap opera.

An over-the-top soap opera.  Yes, a guilty pleasure.  (Shonda hates it when her shows are called guilty pleasures -- she likes to pretend she's doing an episode of Family or St. Elsewhere as opposed to the soap operas she makes.)

Sophie Gilbert (The Atlantic) at least gets that Scandal is a soap opera (though she's too scared to use the term) and notes, "Scandal is a melodrama, and its various storylines have ranged from sublimely absurd to profoundly ridiculous (season three’s visually gruesome torture scenes and insane conspiracies exemplifying the latter), but 'The Lawn Chair' was possibly its best episode to date, a tightly controlled and very deliberate exploration of race, identity, bigotry, and conscience."

Sophie's like so many idiots who came before her.

Today, we roll on the floor with laughter when the Saved By The Bell episode where Jessie's addicted to caffeine pills airs but when it was still brand new?

Idiots like Sophie were praising the heavy handed nonsense.

Here's a clue for Sophie, if you truly think a TV show had its best episode by ignoring all the plotlines viewers tune in for to deliver a message?

You're saying the show is utter crap.

You're saying that outside of this very-special-episode, the show is crap.

If that's your opinion, at least be honest about it.

Kirthana Ramisetti (New York Daily News) was impressed by the episode and offered, "Because it’s Scandal and Olivia Pope is a near-miracle worker, the officers involved in the coverup are arrested and Clarence receives an act of kindness: He gives into his grief in the arms of the President of the United States, a man who also knows what it’s like to lose a son."

That's something to be proud of?

Honestly, we don't think so.

Anybody remember Family Ties?

The sitcom did a number of very-special episodes.

But the one that stands to us is when Justine Bateman's 15-year-old Mallory is helping out at her father's public television station.  It's there she encountered "Uncle Arthur" who, over two days, comments on her body, gropes her, grabs her ass and forces a kiss on her.

And that episode was wrongly praised as well.

It was praised for highlighting the harassment young girls and women face.

But it shouldn't have been praised.

When Mallory's parents find out, the serious issue has a magical solution -- just like on Scandal -- the parents have a heart-to-hear with Uncle Art and it's all settled.

No one thinks to call the cops.

No one thinks this is an issue for human resources.

Too often The Water Cooler Set confuses good intentions with good entertainment.

They are not necessarily the same thing.

Two appeared to get that last week.

Katherine Brodsky (Mashable) pointed out,, "It could have been a complex exploration of the very real tensions we're facing, but instead it was emotionally manipulative and simplistic."  Aisha Harris (Slate) observed, "But enough praise -- Scandal still falls painfully short of making the Ferguson-inspired theme sufficiently complex. It reduces the shooting and the subsequent fallout to a problem that can still be easily 'handled,' in the words of Olivia Pope."

When the episode is the object of scorn, ridicule and mockery in the future (and it will be), remember that two critics did make a point to call out the simplistic episode (and message) in real time.

Enough about the two wise ones, let's return to the idiots.  Remember the idiot at The New York Daily News who was so blown away by the hug -- two fathers who knew loss?

Are these people idiots?

If Fitz had hugged the cop, they could have bonded two -- as two men who've committed murder.

Does no one remember that Fitz took a pillow to Supreme Court Judge Verna and smothered her to death?

And why?

Because she wanted to get honest about how Fitz did not win the presidential election, it was fixed.

And so Fitz killed her.

We're at a loss as to how Fitz is someone to embrace a murder victim's family member.

Rebecca covers Scandal at her site and she gets that the show is a soap opera.  Of last week's episode, she observed:

but those who will watch will do because of olivia and fitz.
that is the heart of the show.
which doesn't mean olivia can't end up with jake.
but it does mean such a choice has impact and viewers want to see that.
but she spent what, 4 episodes, keeping fitz and jake both from olivia.
and now what did we get?
olivia does ferguson.
no 1 watches for that.
she can do that storyline, shonda can, and maybe even pull it off.
but if she's not covering her bases, if the episode doesn't satisfy the core desire of viewers, she's failing at her job.

Rebecca's correct.

And here's a little hard truth for The Water Cooler Set: Thursday's bad episode?

It's because Shonda doesn't know what the hell she's doing.

She's painted herself into a corner and can't figure out if Oliva should end up with Fitz or with Jake.

It was yet another episode that allowed her to avoid dealing with what the viewers want to know: Who is Olivia going to end up with?

And maybe The Water Cooler Set could consider her men before rushing to praise the episode taking on the murder of a young man?

Because Olivia's sleeping with Fitz and more than okay with his murdering her friend Verna.

And Olivia's sleeping with Jake who murdered her friend Cyrus' husband James.

Olivia's sleeping with men who murder people.

So maybe she's not the right person to grandstand?

And maybe Scandal really has no higher ground to run to?

Olivia's spent season after season using Huck to torture people.

He was trained in torture by the government.  He was also tortured by the government.

And Olivia knows it screws with his sanity when he's involved with torture but she regularly deploys him to 'get answers' knowing that he will torture.  And the viewers know she knows because she'll promise to bring him back from "the dark side" if his actions leave him there.

Shonda's got serious problems.  Her latest show, How To Get Away With Murder, was a bigger hit until after the murder -- when your winter finale posts better numbers than your series finale, you're in trouble.

And while many pointed out that Scandal won the night in ratings -- few noted how low rated it was when compared to other episodes this season.

Shonda's run off a number of viewers.  And not really with the kidnapping, and the auction and now the Ferguson, but because she refuses to write the show she used to write.  Again, she painted herself into a corner and has no idea how to fix things.  So instead of exploring Olivia and Fitz or Olivia and Jake, she creates these non-stories, these distractions to mark time until the season finale when, suddenly, she'll want to make it (yet again) all about who Olivia should end up with.

Oh, Sheila

Enron's best buddy in Congress, US House Rep Sheila Jackson Lee, got embarrassed yet again.

And she wasn't the only one.

Among those tossing-their-hands-in-the-air-like-they-just-don't-care?

Sheila and US House Reps Hakeem Jeffries, Al Green and Yvette Clarke.

The images are from December 1, 2014.

They reference the claim that Michael Brown, who was shot dead by a police officer in Ferguson, had put his hands in the air prior to being shot.

As Sara Snider reported March 7th for Anderson Cooper 360 (CNN -- link is video), "Instead, the Department of Justice found that is 'inconsistent with the physical and forensic evidence' and, in some cases, 'witnesses have acknowledged their initial accounts were untrue' or witness accounts were not credible, including the witness closest to Brown when it happened --  Brown's friend, Dorian Johnson --  whose words helped spark the mantra."

So will the members of Congress correct their actions?

Maybe they don't believe the report?

That's fine.

They don't have to.

There's no requirement that anyone believe a government report.

But if they don't believe it, they need to say so.

They need to say they do not believe the work of Eric Holder and the Justice Department.

If they can't do that, they need to correct the record.

What a sad five years for Ms. Blog (Ava and C.I.)

Last week, countless hours were spent attempting to do a parody of Ms. Blog, the embarrassment that Ms. magazine continues to offer.  We were off writing "TV: Agent Carter demonstrates a path forward," and rejoined the group to find that the parody just wasn't taking.


It's hard to mock something that already has become such a joke.

A week later, Ms. Blog shows up with a post to back up what we were saying.

"Happy Birthday to Us! The 5 Top Blog Posts from the First 5 Years of the Ms. Blog."

It's not just that there's something rather sad and pathetic about writing a post congratulating yourself -- but there is that.

This site, for example, started in 2005.

But you won't find any self-congratulatory pieces about "We just turned 5!" or "Happy 10th Birthday to Us!"

Or any of that nonsense.

But if you took nonsense out of Ms., these days, what would they be left with?

That became really clear as they were dialing the rotary phone and offering their five most popular posts:

"10 Things That An American Woman Could Not Do Before the 1970s"
"My Little Non-Homophobic, Non-Racist, Non-Smart-Shaming Pony: A Rebuttal"
"At 11th Hour, Georgia Passes ‘Women As Livestock’ Bill"
"Mattel’s New Monster High Dolls Play on Old-School Stereotypes"
"What Do Dress Codes Say About Women’s Bodies?"

Where to start?

There's a post on legislation.

That's good.

You might argue that it's good there's a historical post . . . except since Ms. is all about first principles, it should probably be something young readers could relate to, like "10 Things That An American Woman Could Not Do Before the 2000s or 2010s."

But is either the height of feminism for the last five years?

And that's before we get into the oh-so-needed posts about dress codes, Monster High Dolls and My Little Pony.

This is what you've got to show for five years?

Next up, Ms. tackles "Weebles: Welcoming Body Shape Diversity or Fat Shaming?"

Equally sad, the five years?

2014's not represented.

See, online, you're hoping to increase -- or at least maintain -- your audience.

The five most popular posts all came before 2014.

On the plus, at least there were none of those whoring for the Democratic Party posts making the top five.  You know, Barack Obama's face and the claim that "This is what feminism looks like!" and all that followed which appeared to stop only at "Great Moments In Modern Feminism: Barack Scratches His Nuts!"

And thankfully, none of their posts glorifying the racist TV show Girls made it either.

Hint to Ms., you can't do a post complaining about people of color not being nominated for awards and also glorify a TV show -- set in NYC -- that refuses to add people of color to the main cast -- even after the face of the modern KKK Lena Dunham promised in season one that she'd be adding people of color in season two.  (She'd go on to explain to Terry Gross that she didn't keep her promise because she couldn't write people of color -- they're just so strange and 'other' to Lena.  This didn't explain why Lena, who pays men to write for her show, couldn't hire writers of color to do what she swears she can't.)

But what's the saddest thing of all about sitting alone at a table at night with your tiny little cake?

The blog is five years old.

Is the website?


And if you're going to 'celebrate' yourself (promote, pimp and whore yourself), you might take a moment to note those who came before, to drop a little herstory on your readers.

What we're saying is that Christine Cupaiuolo is noted no where.

Who is she?

For years, before "Ms. Blog," Christine blogged at the website with "Ms. Musings."

Now since nothing the new blog has done in the last five years approaches the readership/audience of Christine's work, you could understand Ms. (yet again) embracing its inner Sour Grape Girl and acting as if Christine never existed.

It's a little more difficult, after all, to celebrate your 'successful' five years and also acknowledge that in, for example,  2005, Ms. had a stronger online presence and many more readers when Christine was blogging than they do today where the bulk of their posts come from interns -- paid or unpaid, by the way?

No, that wouldn't make the last five years look worth celebrating.

Radio worth applauding

Though the Iraq War delivered thousands of new listeners to Pacifica Radio, the network soon grew tired of it.

Iraq is largely ignored (or else centrist Amy Goodman -- a War Hawk since Libya -- distorts the topic).

Law and Disorder Radio

Last month,  Law and Disorder Radio  devoted attention to Iraq.  The program is hosted by attorneys Heidi Boghosian, Michael S. Smith and Michael Ratner (Center for Constitutional Rights) and on the episode that began airing February 23rd,  the hosts discussed US President Barack Obama's recent AUMF request.

Heidi Boghosian:  Michael, President Obama has gone before Congress to get authorization to use military force against ISIS  but I understood that he was already fighting ISIS.  What is this about?

Michael Ratner:  It does seem bizarre, Heidi.  I mean, in one way it's probably going to expand his authority -- and we'll get into some of the details.  In another, I guess he feels better having Congress on his side against ISIS.  It may also be now that he has Republicans on both sides, that he has an easier time getting authority to go to war.  I think that's actually the biggest factor, the Democrats might give him a little harder time, not much harder, but a little harder.  Let me give a little of the technical details. It's called the Authorization to Use Military Force.  And, of course, under our Constitution, the Congress is supposed to approve the use of military force.  In fact, of course, this president, like every other one, seems to ignore that.  He has -- as people recall, he went to war against Libya without such a use of authority from Congress.  And he's been fighting against ISIS for five, six months already.  Although he's claimed that he's fighting against ISIS because it fits an old authorization to use military force -- the one from 2001 which was originally authorized to go after the people who were involved in the attacks of 9/11.  That's been infinitely expanded so far that not only is the President bombing ISIS but he's using drones in Yemen, he's using them in Somalia, he's all over the world with the 2001.  So you can see it hasn't a bit -- these broad uses of force that the president is authorized to use by Congress.  It reminds us, Heidi, of course, as we've talked about, of the Gulf of Tonkin resolution which was passed to give the president [Lyndon B. Johnson] authority to go into Vietnam and fight against the Vietnamese.  But it was so broadly stated that it went on forever and it expanded the war to half-a-million troops.  And in addition in this case, in the case of Gulf of Tonkin, it was based on a false set of facts having to do with an attack by the North Vietnamese, a supposed attack in the waters.  But in any case, these are bad examples because what happens is you give the presidents these kinds of authority and they basically expand them into world war.  And what's amazing to me hear is that you have the 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force which has already been expanded.  And they're not planning to end that one.  They're planning to leave that on the books even if they get this new Authorization to Use Military Force in 2015.  So he's going to have both.  And then he says he doesn't even need it. Even if Congress turns him down, he says, 'I still have the old one.'  So the whole thing is just a charade for wide war. 

Heidi Boghosian:  And-and I imagine Michael that it's in response to heightened media coverage of beheadings and high profile actions which, as we've seen over the years, in this country and abroad, often result in hastily passed legislation to placate public fears.

Michael Ratner: You know I that's -- that's a good point.  It may not just be the Republicans on both sides but, in fact, as the ISIS propaganda and videos come out, people are saying, 'Well what's the president doing?'  And so now he's saying, 'Look it, I'm going to Congress, I'm going to get this Authorization to Use Military Force.'  But, of course, he's going to get a very broad authorization to use military force.  Now there's three or four points in it that I want to mention because they're so shocking and surprising.  Let's just look at the scenario here.  The Democrats want to put some limits on it -- not very many, but some -- on this use of force.  The Republicans want an ever expansive use of force.  Not much real difference between them but in some of the details.  The first one comes up in what's known as the 'sunset clause.'  We've talked about sunset clauses here with respect to the PATRIOT Act, etc.  When liberals want to vote for something bad but they want to feel better about it, they say, 'Oh, we're going to put a sunset clause in!'  That means that in two, three, four years, whatever the sunset provision is, the law will end by itself and it won't be renewed automatically.  Well we know what happened with the PATRIOT Act -- which we predicted at the time -- was a lot of liberals voted for the PATRIOT Act because it had a sunset clause, that was their excuse.  'Oh, tell our liberal constituents it's going to set in four years.'  And, of course, it did set.  But, of course, before it did set, Congress went ahead and renewed it for another four, ten, whatever number of years.  So this one has a three year sunset clause.  Let's think about that.  One, they can renew it always.  But secondly, even if it sets in three years, the president -- and it won't be Obama anymore -- just goes back to the 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force --

Heidi Boghosian: Right. 

Michael Ratner: -- which has no sunset.  So essentially the sunset clause is meaningless for lots of reasons except it gives liberals cover.  And for that reason, I oppose the sunset clause because I don't want liberals having cover.  They ought to vote for what they understand they're voting for which is  indefinite war against the world.  So that's one very bad provision. 

Michael Ratner:  A second one -- and a big struggle is going on --  or, I don't know if it's big, a struggle of some sort -- at least in the press around these guys -- is the use of ground forces.  How are we going to limit the use of ground forces?  Initially, I think we were told there won't be any ground forces used against ISIS or they believe they have to use ground forces. So what does this Authorization to Use Military Force say -- the new proposed one?  This does not authorize the use of the United States armed forces in -- and here's the key word -- "enduring" offensive ground combat operations.  The word is "enduring offensive ground combat operations."

Heidi Boghosian: Right.  And what does that mean? That means a long term -- 

Michael Ratner: How long is enduring?

Heidi Boghosian:  -- something short of -- Exactly.

Michael Ratner: One year? Two year?  Five years?  Ten years?

Heidi Boghosian:  Right. 

Michael Ratner:  What's "enduring"? Forever?

Heidi Boghosian:  It's over broad and vaguely drafted. 

Michael Ratner: It's meaningless.

Heidi Boghosian: Right.

Michael Ratner: Basically the president is authorized to use ground forces forever.

Heidi Boghosian:  Right. 

Michael Ratner:  So, again, the Democrats are going to be able to say to their constituents -- or maybe a few Republicans who are a little isolationists here, will say, 'It doesn't say we gave them authority.'  So --

Heidi Boghosian: [Laughing] It's not in perpetuity!

Michael Ratner: It's b.s.  That's number two.  A third part of the law says it allows war to be made on associated persons or forces.  That means individuals and organizations associated in some way with ISIL or ISIS -- the Islamic State.  And the problem is, that's like saying war can be made anybody.  And we know that from experience because in the 2001 AUMF, it also uses the term -- or has been interpreted to mean -- you can make war on associated forces of al Qaeda or the Taliban.  Well now under the US definition -- the government definition -- that's everybody.  That's the people in Somalia, that's the people in Yemen, that's the people in Mali, that's everywhere.  So it's a meaningless restriction, 'associated forces.'  That's number three.  And number four -- and this is really striking -- really, if you're thinking about the US and perpetual war, the act, the new proposed authorization to use military force of 2015 has no geographical limitations. That means if they think there's an ISIS guy living next door  --

Heidi Boghosian: In the US of A.

Michael Ratner:  In the US, anywhere in the world. They can get that guy -- whether through Joint Special Operations, drone him, whatever they want to do.  So war on the world is not a fantasy from this act, it's not a fantasy of mine.  

Michael Ratner:  And just remember this as we go on, there was a Times article a few days ago that talks about the so-called spread of ISIS almost playing into this new Authorization to Use Military Force saying there's ISIS groups in Saudi Arabia and Yemen and Algeria and now the US,  under this act, can make war everywhere.  So what we have now is an authorization if it passes that allows the president to make more war around the world and kill thousands and thousands of Muslims.  Instead of this, of course, we should have less war, no war.  We should probably have the Congress impeaching the president for already going way beyond the war authorization he's had. Sadly, for me, the US as an imperial power has been almost impossible to restrain.  You and I know this, Heidi, since our days as Vietnam activists and beyond.  The US has been at constant war.  So we're watching a charade going on in Congress and in the media, the thousands of words, what's going to happen with the AUMF, it doesn't  make any difference in a sense.  We're watching a bloody charade that will continue for -- for a very long time. 

This edition's playlist


1)  Pretenders' The Isle Of View.

2)  Neil Young's Living With War.

3) Ben Harper's Both Sides of the Gun.

4) Stevie Nicks' Bella Donna.

5) Joni Mitchell's Shine.

6) The Cowboy Junkies' at the end of paths taken.

7) Ben and Ellen Harper's Childhood Home.

8) Chrissie Hynde's Stockholm.

9) Afghan Whigs' Do The Beast.

10) Prince's Art Official Age.

No to the racist backlash over Isis - former Guantanamo prisoner Moazzam Begg speaks out

This is a repost from Great Britain's Socialist Worker:

No to the racist backlash over Isis - former Guantanamo prisoner Moazzam Begg speaks out

by Ken Olende

Published Tue 3 Mar 2015
Issue No. 2443

Moazzam Begg was imprisoned without charge in Bagram airbase in Afghanistan and then in Guantanamo Bay.

He suffered torture and has been hounded by the state for years—and knows what it is like to be vilified by the media.

Moazzam is director of Cage, an organisation which campaigns for detainees.

The media has attacked Cage for saying that “Jihadi John”, now named as Mohammed Emwazi, was radicalised after persecution by the British security services.

But Moazzam is defiant—and says it is important to understand the context of the situation.

“I personally believe that while he was clearly pushed and alienated by the way he was treated in Britain, that that is not enough,” Moazzam told Socialist Worker.

“In the end he is responsible for what he did in Syria.

“The nine people he beheaded were innocent from whatever angle you look at it.‘Jihadi John’s’ orders didn’t come from Britain, they came from Isis. 

“And where did Isis come from? Who produced the conditions that allowed Al Qaida to flourish in Iraq?”

Moazzam said the West’s war in Iraq and the brutality of the occupation led to the creation of Al Qaida and later Isis.

“America and Britain invaded Iraq on the basis of information they got from torture,” Moazzam explained. They used it as an excuse to do what they wanted to do.

“There was no Al Qaida in Iraq in 2003. So the intelligence services may not be responsible directly for ‘Jihadi John’s’ actions, but they are responsible indirectly.”

The US and Britain invaded Iraq to reassert control over the region.

A unified resistance looked likely to push the imperialist invaders out so they used divide and rule tactics to set different groups of Iraqis against each other.


Moazzam has experienced the West’s brutality firsthand.

When he was held at Bagram he was stripped naked by soldiers, spat at, punched and kicked. Dogs were also brought in to salivate over prisoners.

And last year he was thrown into prison accused of supporting terrorism—when he was working for the release of Isis hostage Alan Henning.

“Jihadi John” first became known when he executed the British aid worker.

“The foreign office refused to allow me to make a televised appeal on his behalf,” Moazzam said. “It thwarted my attempts. It said that it sent my letter through private channels to Isis. What private channels did it have to Isis?”

He said that the racist backlash in the media is part of an Islamophobic agenda that goes right to the top.

“The Islamophobic, racist, anti-immigrant media is milking it,” he said. “It is suggesting that the terror threat is much worse than it is. They are using the language of fear. Racists have now put on suits and are slowly getting more acceptable.”

But Moazzam is confident that we can take them on if we refuse to let them divide us.

“We must expose them as the racists they are, as the Islamophobes they are and as the supporters of the ruling elite that they are,” he said.

“This government understands the politics of divide and rule.

“They are trying to turn us against one another.

“People showed how to respond in Newcastle last weekend when they came together against the racists in Pegida.

“It reminds us that they are few and we are many.”



International Women's Day 2015 Let's Save Our Women and Girls

 The United Nations issued the following:

International Women’s Day 2015 Let’s Save Our Women and Girls 

Baghdad/Erbil, 8 March 2015 – The United Nations is calling for accelerated efforts to address the needs of close to 1.3 million displaced women across conflict-affected Iraq.

Since the beginning of the violence in January 2014, an estimated 1.26 million Iraqi women have been displaced and are now living in harsh conditions.  Women and girls account for 51 per cent in the recent waves of displacements where almost 2.5 million Iraqis have been forced to flee their homes to escape violence, human rights abuses and death threats.

“Responding to the specific needs of women’s groups in such an environment is a priority for the humanitarian community,” Lise Grande, the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary General (DSRSG) and Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, said in marking International Women’s Day (IWD).  “We must do more.”

Although all of Iraqi society is affected by the ongoing conflict, women and girls remain particularly vulnerable to abuses and are often the first targets of attacks, including gross human rights violations. Reports of abductions, killings, trafficking, forced marriage and sexual violence are alarming.

Decades of conflict have produced dramatic changes to Iraq’s family structure, with approximately 1.6 million widows and even more female-headed households. Recent fighting has created thousands more.

On 5 March, the United Nations in Iraq launched the campaign “Let’s Save Our Women and Girls” in an effort to bring to the world’s attention the suffering and abuses faced by Iraqi displaced women, particularly abducted women and girls, as well as survivors of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV).

On 5th March at the Women’s Day event jointly organized by the Iraqi State Ministry for Women Affairs and the United Nations Gender Task Force, Iraq’s Prime Minister Dr. Haider Al-Abadi also launched the HeForShe campaign calling for men to join the movement and support promotion of women’s rights.  HeForShe is a solidarity movement that calls upon men and boys to stand up against the persisting inequalities faced by women and girls globally (join at

“We believe that the ‘HeForShe’ campaign has tremendous potential to be a catalytic force in mobilizing the global men against one of the most pervasive forms of human rights violations”.  “The world will never be a free place until all forms of violence against women and children are eradicated”. Dr Sadiq Syed, Country Representative, UN Women emphasised.

“Women can play a strong role in conflict resolution and peacebuilding; giving them the support and opportunity to undertake this role is key for the country. Effective humanitarian response depends on the participation and inclusion of women as decision makers,” Grande also said.

Key priorities in addressing the needs of displaced women include humanitarian aid, support for livelihoods, SGBV risk mitigation and accessible SGBV services to SGBV survivors including capacity building for staff working with displaced population, including police and security officers

UN Iraq is joining its voice to those of the State Ministry for Women Affairs and the Kurdistan High Council of Women’s Affairs in combatting violence against women among Iraqi displaced population and Syrian refugees and calling for action to end the suffering of the survivors.

The Save Our Women and Girls Campaign aims at bringing to world’s attention the plight of displaced women in Iraq - including abducted women and survivors of gender-based crimes - in an attempt to end the gruesome human rights abuses they suffer.

This year’s IWD also marks the 20th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.

The Beijing Declaration was signed 20 years ago by 189 governments. This historical landmark sets the agenda for realizing women’s rights.

For more information, please contact:

In Erbil, David Swanson (OCHA) on mobile +964-750-377-0849
In Baghdad, Eliana Nabba (UNAMI) on mobile +964-790-193-1281

David DeGraw's Transcendental Element

David DeGraw has created a new video:

The Center for Reproductive Rights issued the following:

(PRESS RELEASE) The retrial of Nirmala Thapa, a 24-year old Nepalese migrant worker who was arrested alongside her doctor in a clinic raid and found guilty of obtaining an illegal abortion, starts today in the Penang High Court in Malaysia.

High Court Judicial Commissioner Nordin Hassan overturned Nirmala’s conviction in January after he discovered she was charged and convicted without a Nepali interpreter and determined she was unable to understand the full consequences of her initial guilty plea.

Since 1989, abortion in Malaysia has been legal in circumstances when a qualified doctor considers the “continuance of the pregnancy” to pose a “risk of injury to the mental or physical health of the woman, greater than if the pregnancy were terminated.” Nirmala is the first woman to be charged and convicted for an “illegal” abortion since 1989.

Said Melissa Upreti, regional director for Asia at the Center for Reproductive Rights:

“Migrant women deserve the same reproductive health care as every other woman in Malaysia, and Nirmala was unfairly targeted.
“If Nirmala’s conviction is upheld, it will set a dangerous precedent for the harassment and unlawful imprisonment of any woman in Malaysia who obtains legal abortion care.
“We urge the Malaysian judicial authorities together with the Ministry of Health to work quickly to reverse the unjust and discriminatory charges against Nirmala and to set her free.”

In October 2014, Nirmala, who was six weeks pregnant at the time, went to a polyclinic in Taman Ciku, Bukit Mertajam seeking a legal abortion. Nirmala was an operator at a Sony factory and, because she was a migrant worker, the pregnancy put her job security at risk. The doctor considered the mental trauma associated with the risks of Nirmala losing her job, having to pay compensation to her employer, and being sent back home if found pregnant—and decided she was legally justified to have a termination.  While in the recovery room post procedure, officials from the Malaysian Ministry of Health entered the clinic and arrested both Nirmala and her doctor.

The Bukit Mertajam Sessions Court charged and convicted Nirmala in November with “conducting an act to prevent a child from being born alive without the intention of saving her own life as a mother,” under section 315 of the country’s Penal Code. Soon after, she filed an appeal in the Penang High Court which was granted by High Court Commissioner Nordin Hassan. Nirmala is currently out of prison on bail and staying at a migrant workers shelter.

The application of section 315 for terminating an early non-viable pregnancy before 22 weeks is unprecedented in Malaysia. The human rights bodies that oversee states’ compliance with the international treaties that have been signed and ratified by Malaysia have recognized the right to safe and legal abortion as a human right. Nirmala’s rights have been violated under both Malaysian law and international law and justice demands that the Penang High Court accord full protection to the rights of all women in Malaysia to reproductive health care without stigma and criminal punishment.

The Center for Reproductive Rights has built a significant presence throughout Asia with major initiatives such as the South Asia Reproductive Justice and Accountability Initiative that focuses on promoting the use of the law and legal strategies to protect and advance women’s reproductive rights in the region. The Center—which opened a Nepal office in 2012—has conducted legal research, built local capacity and undertaken advocacy at the UN in relation to numerous countries in the region.


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.

 "Iraq snapshot," "Iraq snapshot" and "Iraq snapshot" -- C.I. reports on Congressional hearings. 

"The Hollow Man" -- Isaiah dips into the archives.

"Carly Simon's Anticipation," "Diana Ross" and "Tired Madonna" -- Elaine, Betty and Kat cover music. 

"The Following," "Neil Patrick Harris,"  "Family Guy," "What I don't like about Netflix" -- TV coverage in the community. 

"The Penis Blathers" and "Man, are you normal?" -- Mike covers the penis.


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