Sunday, November 08, 2009

Truest statement of the week

They're headed to Iraq for the next year, marking the unit's third deployment there since the invasion, and they won't be the last to go. The Iraq war, contrary to popular opinion, isn't near over, and American troops won't be out until 2011 -- and maybe not for years after that.

-- Sig Christenson, "More GIs from S.A. deploy to Iraq" (San Antonio Express-News).

Truest statement of the week II

In our view, American military force no longer plays a role in Iraq other than "peace-keeping." Someone must contain the violence over time to allow democratic-like institutions to flourish. That should not be the role of American military power; it must be done by Iraqi institutions controlled solely by the Iraqi government.

It is now time for a broad and sustained military withdrawal of American military forces from Iraq. Whatever American forces of any sort that remain should be paid for exclusively by the Iraqi government.We can argue forever about the wisdom of our invasion and presence in Iraq beginning in 2003. For sure, Iraq cannot be allowed to become another Korea, where today 30,000 American troops are held hostage to a crazy North Korean regime while "protecting" a rich and prosperous South Korea.

Withdraw now the 120,000 military personnel from Iraq, Mr. President and Congress. Do it as quickly as the safety of those troops will permit.

--The Joplin Globe, "In our view: Time to get out of Iraq," November 3, 2009.

A note to our readers

Hey --

One long and crazy Sunday.

As usual our delay is Flickr. We thank everyone who participated in the writing of this edition which is 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),

Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix,

Mike of Mikey Likes It!,

Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz),

Trina of Trina's Kitchen,

Ruth of Ruth's Report,

Wally of The Daily Jot,

Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts,


Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends

and Ann of Ann's Mega Dub.

We've got a variety of articles this week and we're holding the book and comic book pieces. Both need more work. Isaiah helped with the comic book piece and he helped with one piece that actually made the edition.

So what do we got?

Truest statement of the week -- It's the reporters who cover areas and regions that the enlisted come from who tend to get the realities correct. More and more, so many of the 'coastal' papers have just drifted off from reality.

Truest statement of the week II -- See above. And good for this newspaper for grasping that the Iraq War continues and that we need to be calling for it to be ended.

Editorial: The results hold a lesson -- Isaiah worked on this as did Trina. I (Jim) and glad Isaiah worked on this. Otherwise we'd have used him and had nothing to show for it (translation, I would have wasted his time). (The comic book feature will run next weekend.) This is our photo essay. It started out as an article and was stronger that way in many ways. We were at a loss for an editorial (and very tired) so we reworked this into an editorial. It works in a different way as such.

TV: Drinking in a time of cholera -- I'm sorry but I love the title I gave Ava and C.I.'s piece. They do write about drinking (early on and in the final paragraph) and I'm always making jokes about the book Love In A Time Of Cholera so I just love my title. As wonderful as I think it is, Ava and C.I.'s article is only more so. This is covering a wide scope and the sort of thing that some of the new readers not only love but expect. New readers, a tip, never expect from Ava and C.I. They hate expectations and if they feel they're being asked to sing the same song, they'll instead break out another one. They will deliberately go the opposite direction just because of expectations. So enjoy this one and grasp it may be awhile before you get anything similar.

KBR burn pits kill and wound US service members -- The reporting for this article was done by Ava, C.I., Kat and Wally. They attended the hearing and C.I. took extensive notes (as usual). The rest of us helped with writing the article after the four of them finished the first draft.

How ABC pissed off everyone (Ava and C.I.) -- We were feeling the edition wasn't strong enough. Ironic because we postponed one feature that was on Iraq and, if we hadn't postponed it for next week, we'd be heavy, heavy with Iraq. Dona and I asked Ava and C.I. if they could do another feature this week. They said they didn't have it in them to do another review. Well, we wondered, any juicy gossip. No. In fact, everyone at every network was too busy griping about ABC (except ABC which they said was just lost) to offer any good gossip. What's up there? Okay, Ava and C.I. said, we've got an article. And indeed they did.

Iraq -- The Iraq feature. This went on longer than they usually do and, even so, C.I. stresses there are a multitude of things left out and not mentioned.

For those about to download . . . -- This was a reader suggested article. We're happy to do it. Those who wanted to download now have no excuses.

The Battle of the Story of the Battle of Seattle -- David Solnit and his sister Rebecca Solnit have written a book that is released this month.

Highlights -- Mike, Elaine, Rebecca, Betty, Ruth, Marcia, Ann, Cedric and Wally wrote this and selected highlights unless otherwise noted. We thank them.

And that's what we ended up with. We'll see you next week and articles should include one on comic books and one on books. We'll be covering current events as well. For Melrose Place freaks waiting for Ava and C.I. to tackle that, they're waiting for Heather Locklear's return. Ty asked that I note that since so many e-mails are coming in on that.

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

Editorial: The results hold a lesson

Last Tuesday, voters in New Jersey and Virginia elected governors. Early on, some Democratic hacks rushed to assure you that the outcome meant nothing. Of course, their assertions came a week after polling showed Dems losing in Virginia and likely to lose in New Jersey so their 'observations' were, at best, suspect.

The spinning didn't stop after the votes were counted. And it was hilarious. Virginia we'll set aside (largely because Ava and C.I. address it in El Spirito this morning) and instead zoom in on New Jersey.

Victory Tweet from Corzine

That's the Twittering Jon Corzine on election night, inviting one and all to his Victory Party. Though it would be three days before he'd Tweet again, that was not due to excessive Victory Partying. Corzine, the Democrat, lost.

Jon Corzine, the incumbent governor of New Jersey, lost his re-election bid.

'That's not a reflection on Barack!' insisted the spinners.

Really? Why is that?

It was Barack who declared, "You've had a leader who has fought for what matters most to the people of New Jersey. That's the kind of governor Jon Corzine's been."

Doubt us?

There he is below -- with Caroline Kennedy -- cheering on his pal Jon Corzine.

The Losers

Not a reflection on Barack? Then what about the ad that claimed Barack and Jon were "One Voice"?

They are one!!!

Not a reflection on Barack? Even though the White House took over Corzine's campaign? Even though Barack was darting in and out of New Jersey non-stop?


The Screwing


Those are only a few of the photos Corzine's campaign promoted.

John F. Harris and Jonathan Martin (Politico -- link has text and audio) explained the morning after, "Independents took flight from Democrats. They suffered humiliating gubernatorial losses in traditionally Democratic New Jersey, where Obama lent his prestige in a pair of eleventh-hour campaign rallies Sunday, and in Virginia, which had been trending leftward and just last year was held up as an example of how Obama was redrawing the political map in his favor.
Tuesday night’s trends were emphatically not in Obama's favor. Among those paying closest attention are dozens of Democrats who won formerly Republican congressional districts in 2006 and 2008 and are up for reelection in 2010. Many of these pickups that powered the Democrats’ recapture of Congress came in Southern and border states, or in the Ohio River Valley, where political conditions are similar to those in Virginia."

They lost independents and they lost them in a state that Barack campaigned heavily in. A lot is being made of the fact that this is an off-off-year election. Well those take place, so do off-year elections which is what next year is as the entire US House of Representatives is up for re-election as are a few senators.

Now it would be wrong to look at Tuesday's results and say, "Barack will lose re-election in 2012." That would be misusing the results. But what the results do show is that Barack would have a very difficult time being re-elected if the election were held next month.

The results are a snapshot and they don't have to be for 2010 or 2011 or 2012. Nothing is fixed or etched in stone.

Provided people learn from them. Denying what they indicate doesn't demonstrate anyone's been educated. Refusing to look at the results and use them to tune details, to work on messages, is to refuse the social sciences.

Tuesday's results in Virginia and New Jersey -- with voters stating that they were very worried about the economy in exit polling -- are indicative of where the Democratic Party stands right now. Barack Obama carried both states in November 2008. Yet one year later, both states go Republican. One year later, his heavy campaigning in New Jersey fails to result in a re-election victory for Corzine (who spent a ton of money on the race).

Barack's polling from January through May was astounding with so many fools touting those snapshots as if they represented the electorate's mood in 2012. As has since been established, it doesn't even represent the electorate's mood for the second half of 2012.

Maybe the White House took those early polls to seriously and thought (wrongly) that nothing could ever hurt Barack? If so, they were living in a fantasy world the same way Bully Boy Bush did. He was brought down to earth by reality and reality's brought Barack down to earth as well (reality: he's continuing all of Bush's policies).

The 8 x 10 glossy finally got a resume and suddenly the voters were no longer able to project on him as though he were a blank canvas. Like Tartuffe, once he got a track record, he stood exposed.

Now the White House can live in denial and last week's snapshot will become a snapshot for 2012 as well. Who knows what those wacky boys (we use the term intentionally) will do next?

But Dems up for re-election in 2010? They better grasp that there are no coat tails to run on right now and they better prepare some sort of record of their own that will engage voters. They also better start grasping that the wounds of 2008 are not healed -- how could they be when so few would admit to the non-stop back stabbing? -- and that Hillary supporters have not forgotten. It's really not the time (and never should have been) for any member of Congress to claim (as Nancy Pelosi once did) that Barack was "a gift from God."

Reality has intruded upon the fairy tale. Those who think fawning over Barack will get them re-elected will soon be joining Jon Corzine in attempts to line up post public servant speaking gigs. Those who realize that the White House's positions are increasingly unpopular (continuing Guantanamo, continuing the war in Iraq, continuing the war in Afghanistan, starting the war on Paksitan, continuing warrantless spying on American citizens, continuing DOMA, continuing Don't Ask, Don't Tell, etc.) and buck the White House and show some real spunk and guts will no doubt find voters willing to overlook many not-so-great details on their resume.

Love You Like Lovers

In other words, get too close and the frustration many are feeling with Barack (including independents, Dems and many non-Dems on the left) could rub off on you.

If nothing's done, you can be sure Dems will lose control of at least one house of Congress. For Dem voters who don't remember, the line from 2006 forward was that majorities in both houses didn't mean a thing, they needed super-majorities to get things done! So, for example, just losing two members in the Senate -- yet still retaining control -- would render the Dems in the Senate as useless as they were in 2007 and 2008.

Not to mention cause so many Dems in Congress to reflect on how "The last Tweet is the deepest . . ."



For more on this topic, see Mike's "ObamaGiveAway," Betty's "Corzine goes down for the count" and Trina's "The economy continues to be bad news" and "The economy."

TV: Drinking in a time of cholera

The week started with bad TV and, for us, ended with bad TV. Last Sunday we were catching up on an entertainment show, reading scripts, watching episodes and mainly calling a friend on the show to ask, "What the hell is this crap?" Friday, we were rushing around the hotel, attempting to get ready for the day and shocked at the train-wreck taking place on a supposed public affairs program. Both shows are staffed with people who claim to care but at least CBS' Three Rivers can use the excuse that its populated with fictional characters.


Three Rivers is a brand of Whiskey and it is also a drink made with Whiskey (two ounces, plus an ounce each of triple sec and Dubonnet, serve on the rocks). And you'll probably need one or the other -- if not both -- to make it through an episode of the TV show Three Rivers.

Watching, we groaned, we moaned and we wondered when would it ever end. As we told our Three Rivers friend, "No one wants reality, they want to be entertained. Even the 'reality' shows have to get creative and script in a few details." But this is real life, this is what it's like, this is real. That's what we were told anyway.

You know what, real life isn't all that interesting. Certainly not when characters rush around saying things like, "Hey, don't procure that liver until we get it straightened out."

'It' was: Who gets the liver?

The Three Rivers crew or another hospital. Both had patients needing it. In the process of bickering over it, the conditions of the two patients needing the transplant weren't discussed but one doctor did end up with a broken nose. "That really happened!" insisted our friend in the cast. Well it was probably humorous to everyone working at the hospital. But CBS is really hoping to garner a larger audience than that, right?

We'd think so if only because of the commercials before the show began airing. You may have caught them. Where a male voice informed you that something sexy this way comes: Alex O'Loughlin.

We wondered at the time: (a) Why is CBS telling us there's a sexy man on a new show, (b) why is the voice telling us this male, (c) why does this O'Loughlin look like Noah Wylie in a shower cap and (d) who the hell is supposed to find that sexy?

In answer to the last question: Gay men into body fur.

We repeatedly asked straight women we knew if they thought Alex was really that sexy looking? No, especially not with that hair cut. Then we brought the issue up with some gay male friends who told us there was an entire cottage industry devoted to O'Laughlin who is, apparently, bringing furry back. (If so, he's several chests too late. We already noted that trend this fall.)

Type in "Alex O'Laughlin" and "hairy" and you'll be able to eavesdrop on a million and one conversations as various photos of him are posted leading to comments from men like this "I like his hairy chest… And that bulge in his undies too…. He’s much hotter here than in the previous posts… Very lickable and doable…" and this "HOT BUTTERED YUM!!! Nice face, chest, armpit and the crotch!! Though thought it looked to shrink up a bit the more her hands were down there."

Hot Buttered Yum . . . just in time for the holiday season. Ourselves, we're not big on cloves, so we'll pass. And we'll pass on shows where writers spend too much time focused on medical jargon and too little time focused on characters. If you can get past the medical jargon, you'll quickly notice that the dialogue is hideous, on the nose and, worst of all, dull.

Incredibly dull. And when they finally set it aside, usually in the final five minutes of each episode, they strive to find other ways to bore you. So look, there's two men jamming on guitars! Roll the credits! And pretend like it fleshes out characters or has anything to do with what came before. There's a word for shows like this, actually two: Cop Rock.

Thursday, a shooting took place on the Fort Hood military base in Texas. By Friday morning, the death toll was thirteen. CBS News offered a photo essay of the dead and wounded. Mike Cahill, Maj Maj L. Eduardo Caraveo, Staff Sgt Justin M. DeCrow, Capt John Gaffaney, Spc Frederick Greene, Spc Jason Dean Hunt, Amy Krueger, Aaron Thomas Nemelka, Pfc Michael Pearson, Capt Russell Seager, Pvt Francheska Velez, Juanita Warman and Pfc Kham Xiong were the thirteen murdered. The wounded included Spc Grant Moxon, Joey Foster, Kimberly Munley, Keara Bono, Ray Saucedo, Cpl Nathan Hewitt, Amber Bahr, Matthew Cooke, George Stratton III, Staff Sgt Alonzo Lunsford and Staff Sgt Joy Clark.

Friday Democracy Now! decided to do a 'report' on the shooting and, strangely, they mentioned none of the victims. Or not so strange. Increasingly, the show seems determined to reflect some extremist vision that has little in it most people on the left can relate to -- let alone the general population.

The show, as usual, kicked off with headlines and it took exactly four sentences for Amy Goodman to declare, "A relative told reporters Hasan had complained of being harassed for being a Muslim and had tried to leave the military." At no point in the headlines did she attempt to identify any of the wounded or dead but the dead and wounded were never her concern. She identified her concern in the teasers for the show, "We'll go to Fort Hood for response and speak with an advocate for Muslim soldiers who fears the shooting may spark a Muslim witch hunt in the military."

13 are dead, thirty are wounded and Amy Goodman's worried what might happen. She's got a massacre to 'cover' and what's she worried about isn't what happened, but what her radical hatred for this country tells her is just around the corner. It's getting sick and so is she.

After headlines, the next segment featured two guests, one of which was "Qaseem Uqdah of American Muslim Armed Forces and Veterans Affairs Council." Uqdah was left (repeatedly) to do what Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez refused to do, honestly address what happened. Such as when he declared, "And that's something that we have to focus on here, as with removing any doubt on anyone's mind that this is something that’s dealing with Islam. It's not with Islam. This soldier committed a criminal act."

Over and over, in Goody's warped mind, the victim was the alleged shooter. She had no sympathy for the dead but she constantly fretted and worried over the shooter. The shooter is a criminal. He doesn't deserve any sympathy due to his background. No, we're not talking about the fact that he is Muslim. We're talking about the fact that he's a psychiatrist. He's trained. He wasn't a combat veteran, he was a psychiatrist and he was trained. He knew better and he knew how to get help if he needed it.

The other guest for the segment was Aaron Glantz who never tires of acting as though he was in combat. (He wasn't.) Sounding as demented as his new mentor (Jimmy Carter), Aaron Glantz first comment was, "Well, you're exactly right, Amy, that we have an Army psychiatrist who listened to many, many stories."

Yes, we all knew where he was headed with that and fortunately fate was as disgusted by it as we were (as evidenced by the fact that Aaron's phone call was then lost and we were spared of his gas baggery for a few minutes). Aaron was going to boo-hoo the stress the alleged shooter was under because he heard horror stories. Boo-f**king-hoo. Elaine has heard these stories as well, since the first wave of service members began returning home. (And, credit to Elaine, all the veterans she treats are treated pro bono.) Does it wear on Elaine? Yes, it does and there are times when she needs to just escape from it, there are times when she needs to not talk about anything, there are times when she thinks she'll never stop crying if she hears one more detail.

But she's a trained professional and the training includes not only knowing how to assist those suffering but also how to ensure her own mental well being.

It was hilarious to watch Amy Goodman, Juan Gonzalez and Aaron Glantz steer the conversation to their 'concerns' which, pay attention, had little to do with the damn war. Little to do with it because they don't give a damn. People who give a damn, they're not reaching years back for examples.

Example? Aaron Glantz tossed out a soldier who took his own life: John Fish. He noted that he had written of the soldier (such as in February of this year). He would show up all over the internet later Friday as he rushed to trot out John Fish. Trot out?

It's hard to take Aaron seriously. Andres Raya was another he offered up on the show, this time when he wanted to talk about "death by cop" -- incidents where the veteran is shot by the police and may have courted the shooting as a form of suicide. Anyone paying attention to Iraq War veterans this week should have been aware of John LaBossiere who was killed last Sunday in a confrontation with the police. If, like Aaron, you're late to the story, you can refer to Jackson Holtz (Everett's Herald) report.

We'll come back to him, let's move to Amy Goodman:

Aaron, I wanted to ask you about a shooting the New York Times had reported October 21st, 2009. An American soldier accused of killing five other service members in a base in Iraq in May had been behaving erratically for weeks, even threatening to commit suicide, but a lack of adequate guidelines on how to handle his case allowed it to get out of control. US military investigators said this in a report. And the Times went on to say the shootings took place at Camp Liberty combat stress clinic, where the soldier, Sergeant John M. Russell, was being counseled.

Let's deconstruct that because there are a lot of misleading statements.

Aaron, I wanted to ask you about a shooting the New York Times had reported October 21st, 2009. An American soldier accused of killing five other service members in a base in Iraq in May had been behaving erratically for weeks, even threatening to commit suicide, but a lack of adequate guidelines on how to handle his case allowed it to get out of control.

Really? The New York Times 'reported' that? On October 21st?

Funny because October 19th (two days before), one of us (C.I.) was noting the [PDF format warning] military's report at The Common Ills:

From some of the conclusions (I'm on page 303):

After abruptly leaving his session with (b)(3)(b)(6) and asking the MPs to take him in, (b)(3)(b)(60 tossed a knife to the ground. The 54th EN BN has no template for setting a unit watch, and neither did any of the unit leaders we interviewed in the course of this investigation. There is no standard for escorts, how many, how senior, and what type of escort should be assigned to a troubled Soldier, a suicidal Soldier or a homicidal Soldier. Additionally, at the unit level, there is no real conception of when to Command refer Soldiers for assistance. (b)(3)(b)(6) unit encouraged him to self-refer for 3 appointments within 3 days. Access to care is not an issue. On the fourth day, the Behavioral Health clinic asked the 54th, to make it a "Command referral." Granted our Commands want to reduce the stigma associated with ill health, but there is a lack of emphasis upon Command involvement and responsibility for behavioral problems. There is no message, SITREP, or verbal notification required for Soldiers with suicidal ideations. The Commander, 54th EN BN, was never notified that his subordinates had removed (b)(3)(b)(6) bolt from his weapon. Correspondingly, when his bolt was removed, (b)(3)(b)(6) was not put on buddy or unit watch. Unit Commanding Officers at the 03-05 level need more than awareness training, they require precise instruction in effective suicide and behavioral problem remediation measures to effectively support our Behavioral Health professionals.

So, Goody, two days before The New York Times 'reported' it, that detail was already known.

US military investigators said this in a report.

Yes, Goody. You got that right. At least.

And the Times went on to say the shootings took place at Camp Liberty combat stress clinic, where the soldier, Sergeant John M. Russell, was being counseled.

The paper said that on October 21st? That was 'news' on October 21st? That's interesting because the May 11th shooting was well covered in May when it was known where the shooting took place (Martha Raddatz was reporting on ABC News with exclusive footage because she'd just been in the clinic for another story) and that Russell was being ordered to seek counseling.

We said we'd come back to Aaron Glantz and here's where we do:

Well, I mean, you may remember that Sergeant Russell was on -- I don't remember exactly how many tours now, but he had been in Yugoslavia and was on not his first tour in Iraq and Afghanistan, when he walked into this combat stress clinic in Baghdad in May and shot it up and killed many people inside the combat stress clinic.

"Was on not his first tour in Iraq and Afghanistan"? The shooting took place in Iraq. Russell was not deployed to Afghanistan. He was on his third (we remember exactly how many, Aaron) deployment to Iraq. As for "Yugoslavia"? He was stationed in Bosnia and Kosovo.

If you're still not getting how little the three cared, try this: "When we come back from break, we're going to go to Killeen, Texas. We're going to go to Fort Hood and find out the reaction there."

That's what Amy said as the segment ended. But guess what?

They came back from break . . . and . . . no, they didn't go to Killeen. They dropped Fort Hood to pimp ObamaCare and then the racist 'comedic' stylings of failed TV actress Anna Deavere Smith.

Remember, folks, the Jerry Lewis racist caricatures passed off as 'Asians'? Not at all racist when done by African-American Anna Deavere Smith -- or at least that's the lie we're supposed to believe.

Despite the fact that three journalists or 'journalists' spoke about the shooting on Democracy Now! Friday, it was only the non-journalist, Qaseem Uqdah, who noted that the shooting was a crime. It was only the non-journalist who dealt in facts. The journalists or 'journalists'? They served non-stop gas baggery. And never once attempted to put a face on the people shot dead or left wounded. (They did find time to show a segment of an interview Fox News did -- the same group that's never called out the White House attacks on Fox News was more than eager to utilize them for an interview with a member of the shooter's family.)

Last week, TV started bad and it ended bad. Just reliving it for this review is enough to make us sick. Or at least give us an excuse to mix some more Three Rivers.

KBR burn pits kill and wound US service members

What if you were sent into a war zone and managed to make it out alive? Many people would probably feel grateful and thankful and lucky. But what if you found out, after you'd made it home, that you really didn't make it out the way you thought you had? What if, for example, you were used to running each morning and now you continually find yourself winded? What if visits to the doctor turn up conditions that are threatening to your health and possibly to your life? And what if you find out that these conditions result from a corporation making a decision to ignore rules and regulations to squeeze out a few more pennies?


These were the issues the Democratic Policy Committee was addressing in Friday's hearing chaired by Senator Byron Dorgan as the Committee examined the continued use of burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan. He explained as he called the hearing to order, "Today we're going to have a discussion and have a hearing on how, as early as 2002, US military installations in Iraq and Afghanistan began relying on open-air burn pits -- disposing of waste materials in a very dangerous manner. And those burn pits included materials such as hazardous waste, medical waste, virtually all of the waste without segregation of the waste, put in burn pits. We'll hear how there were dire health warnings by Air Force officials about the dangers of burn pit smoke, the toxicity of that smoke, the danger for human health. We'll hear how the Department of Defense regulations in place said that burn pits should be used only in short-term emergency situations -- regulations that have now been codified. And we will hear how, despite all the warnings and all the regulations, the Army and the contractor in charge of this waste disposal, Kellogg Brown & Root, made frequent and unnecessary use of these burn pits and exposed thousands of US troops to toxic smoke."

Burn pits?

Waste is burned off. Iraq War resister Joshua Key has written (The Deserter's Tale) of working a burn pit in Iraq (as punishment). That burn pit was the waste from the latrines. The burn pits the Committee heard about contained a bit more than fecal matter. Medicines were regularly tossed into the burn pits and, former KBR employee L. Russell Keith explained in reply to a question by Senator Jon Tester, anything they couldn't get rid of, whether it would burn or not. So old vehicles got tossed in as did transit buses and they'd just leave them in the burn pits, burning off whatever would burn. Keith described the burn pit at Joint Base Balad as the biggest he'd seen and that it was ten acres with sections above ground and below.

L. Russell Keith: The ten-acre pit was located in the northwest corner of the base. An acrid, dark black smoke from the pit would accumulate and hang low over the base for weeks at a time. Every spot on the base was touched by smoke from the pit; everyone who served at the base was exposed to the smoke. It was almost impossible to escape, even in our living units. Ash from the smoke would seep into the air conditioning systems and our living areas would be covered in a coating of dark soot. Our rooms had what looked like dark-colored flour spread over everything, including our beds, our clothing and the floor. We called this "Iraqi talcum powder." There was no way to keep the powder out of our living quarters. I could often taste the smoke in the air at the base, both inside and outside.

Stony Brook University Medical Center's Dr. Anthony Szema (testifying on his own and not on behalf of or representing SBUMC) explained that it's known that when you burn anything, the smoke is not healthy to inhale and that the smoke contributes to air pollution -- even the most simple camp fire. But the burn pits weren't simple camp fires. Medicines, chemicals, were being burned and transferred into the air (and probably into the ground water). What would happen if someone in the US burned off the same things that were tossed in the Balad burn pit?

"You'll probably go to jail," Dr. Szema explained, "if you burn medical waste in the United States."

It was a point echoed by another witness.

Chair Byron Dorgan: Of the type of burn pit you saw in Iraq in 2006 -- that's some while after the war began and infrastructure had been created and so on except without incinerators -- if something of that nature were occurring in a neighborhood here in Washington DC or any American city, what are the consequences to them?

Lt. Col. Darrin Curtis: At least fines and possibly jail.

There are laws forbidding it because it's thought that it is dangerous to surrounding populations.

And yet KBR did this over and over in Iraq. With no concern for their own employees, or US service members or the Iraqi people.


They did have a few concerns.

Iraq War veteran and former KBR employee Rick Lamberth revealed one, the mess KBR was creating could bring KBR more money when they were hired to clean it up. Senator Blanche Lincoln compared it to a Superfund site and she wanted to know whether KBR is able to do such work. Lamberth revealed that it was in their contract even though what would most likely happen was that KBR would pocket the big money for cleaning up and then subcontract out the actual work of cleaning up the hazardous site. Lincoln voiced her displeasure of the possibility that "our US tax payer dollars [would be used] to clean up things that the same contractor actually created."

Lamberth detailed how he came up with a suggestion to just move the burn pits down wind while he was in Iraq but KBR rejected even doing something that simple.

Senator Tom Udall: They didn't want to do that?

Rick Lamberth: Correct, sir.

Senator Tom Udall: Cost them too much?

Rick Lamberth: Correct, sir.

They threatened him with a lawsuit "for slander if I spoke out about these violations" but they also maintained that, in Lamberth's words, "Even if they did get caught, they had already made more than enough money to pay any fines and still make a profit."

KBR's motive was profit and they were so motivated by profit that, even with the US tax payer footing the bill, they didn't give a damn about the regulations, they didn't give a damn about the safety, they didn't give a damn about the consequences of their actions.

Staff Sgt. Steven Gregory Ochs and Staff Sgt. Matt Bumpus did not testify at Friday's hearing. They couldn't because both men are dead. October 8th, Ochs' sister Stacy Pennington testified to the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee on behalf of her brother and her family and on behalf of Bumpus and his family.

Stacy Pennington: Both of these brave soldiers you see before you dodged bullets, mortar attacks, roadside bombs and suicide bombers. Eventually their tours of duty would take their lives. The ultimate sacrifice for a soldier, for his country, is death. However, their deaths did not show up in the manner you may assume. In Balad is the site of the infamous enormous burn pit that has been called by Lt Col Darrin L. Curtis, USAF and Bio-environmental Engineering Flight Commander, as "the worst environmental site" he had ever visited. Staff Sgt Ochs and Staf Sgt Bumpus were both stationed in Balad and war, as strategic as it is, followed them home. Death lay dormant in their blood and waited for them to return safely home and into the arms of their loved ones. Like every silent ticking bomb, it eventually exploded. On September 28, 2007, just months after Steve's return home from his third tour, he was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia, also known as AML. He spent the next ten months as a patient -- more like a resident -- at Duke University Hospital. Doctors at Duke said his aggressive form of AML was definitely chemically induced and, like Steve, both agreed it was due to the exposures he experienced while in Iraq and Afghanistan. However, the doctors refused to go on record citing as the reason that they could not prove it. The aggressive AML that Steve endured was similar to bullets ricocheting in the body causing torturous pain. The graphic images embedded in my mind are of Steve's last screams for air as he was rushed into ICU. Steve waved goodbye to my husband. Steve, with very little strength, said, "I love you, sis" and my mom kissed his forehead and said, "We will see you when you get comfortable." Five minutes later, while in the ICU waiting room, the nurse came in to tell us Steve went into cardiac arrest and they were working on him now. My mom ran into ICU -- fell to her knees as she realized her son was dying. Screams filled the air as we begged God to keep Steve here with us. We know Steve heard us as tears were in Steve's eyes. Doctors and nurses pumped on Steve's chest trying to revive him. But I knew immediately he was gone. His spirit that surrounded my dear, sweet brother was gone. We were left alone with Steve's body for hours as we were all in pure shock. My mom looked upon my brother's face and wiped away the tears puddled in his eyes. And at that very moment, our lives were changed forever. Steve died on July 12, 2008. Two weeks later, on the opposite of the coast, Staff Sgt Bumpus would succumb to the same fate. For Staff Sgt Matt Bumpus, the ticking time bomb exploded with a vengeance on July 31, 2006. Matt was rushed to the hospital by ambulance with acute appendicitis. In Matt's own words, I quote, "The next thing I remember is hearing that I had been diagnosed with AML." Doctors declared that there was chromosome damage due to exposures he must have come in contact with while in Iraq. Matt ended his prestigious service to the Army one short year before the war zone chemical warfare showed signs of its presence. As if this was not enough suffering, Staff Sgt Bumpus' family was met by the VA with harsh claims of denial to benefits. This battle continues to this day as Lisa, Staff Sgt Bumpus' wife, is left alone with two small children to raise with no VA or military benefits for her family. The aggressive assault of the AML in Matt's body was taking claim. Jo, Matt's mother, recalls the haunted look in Matt's eyes as he revealed to her that the AML invasion was back. Matt's mother will never forget the discouragement and sadness that overwhelmed Matt as the realization that promises he made to his wife and children to provide for his family, to love and protect them, and that his sacred word would be broken. He knew now that the battle was over and he would be leaving his family behind. Tuesday, July 29, 2008, Matt once again entered the hospital with fever and septic infection that discharged throughout his body. Doctors notified the family that it would just be days before his demise. Matt was heavily sedated as the pain and incubation was unbearable. Nate, Matt's ten-year-old son, bravely entered his father's hospital room to lay on his daddy's chest as he said his final goodbye. Nate curled up by his dad and cried and cried. Despite Matt's heavy sedation, Matt too was crying. Matt, being a devoted Christian, appropriately passed away on a Sunday morning, surrounded by his wife, mother, father and sister as they expressed to Matt their everlasting love. They, too, were in shock and stayed with Matt's body as the realization overwhelmed them that Matt would not be going home. Matt died on August 3, 2008.

The burn pits, the KBR burn pits, are responsible for illness and death. And you have to wonder when, if ever, KBR intends to take accountability for what their cut-every-corner-safety-be-damned attitude resulted in?

(As with all the other charges of misconduct -- they've amassed a lengthy rap sheet in the last few years, KBR denies any responsibility.)

Following the hearing, Blanche Lincoln issued this statement, "As we approach Veterans Day, we are all reminded of the heroic service and sacrifice of our troops who give of themselves to protect the freedom of all Americans. As a grateful nation, we must do all we can to ensure that their health is not at risk as they fulfill their missions abroad. By reducing the prevalence of burn pits and transitioning to other methods of disposal, we can greatly improve the quality of life and health for our troops. Costs associated with these other disposal methods have been a barrier to their implementation. However, though costs may increase in the short-term, the long-term savings could be substantial. As burn pit use is reduced, related medical treatments will decline for the servicemen and women who are exposed to this hazardous smoke."

In the hearing, Chair Dorgan noted his great disappointment that a Truman-style commission ("with subpoena power") has not been created. Senators Jon Tester and Tom Udall also expressed their dismay over that. That's three Democratic senators who want a real commission with real powers to investigate. With the Democrats currently controlling both houses of Congress and the White House, it shouldn't be impossible for such a commission to be created -- unless of course, profit continues to trump human life.

Chair Byron Dorgan: You are a bio-environmental engineer what is -- what is your own opinion? Without testing or data, you saw the burn pits, you were there, you hear the testimony of what went in the burn pits, you hear Dr. Szema's assessment. What's your assessment?

Lt. Col. Darrin Curtis: I think we're going to look at a lot of sick people later on.

Those contractors and service members now back in the US who suspect they may have been harmed should seek medical treatment and refer to BURN PITS Action Center which is a clearing house and resource of information.

How ABC pissed off everyone (Ava and C.I.)

It should have been easy enough, ABC was bringing back a cult favorite from the 80s, one that had resulted in not one successful mini-series but two and a less successful TV show. That was V and it was broadcast last Tuesday.

Unlike most ABC shows, it was geared to a smaller audience. Because it's sci-fi? No, because ABC was being an ass. That's the only explanation and friends at ABC don't like it when we say that, but, again, that is the only explanation.

NBC and Fox jump-started Hulu, which streams their programs online. ABC joined up as well and, with big fanfare, their shows began joining the line up over the summer. ABC execs monitor Hulu religiously. Seeing if any of their shows made most popular for the day is their own trip to the confessional. And they've got some Hulu hits.

Which is good because the ABC player, that people use to watch ABC shows, is a pain in the ass which requires installation, works as a pop up and works only some of the time.

So Hulu was giving them an online presence.

And now they've pissed off execs at Hulu, NBC and Fox.



V, as we noted, aired Tuesday. Which means it was available at Hulu on Wednesday morning where even more . . .


It wasn't available Wednesday. Nor Thursday. Nor Friday.

And not just at Hulu but at ABC as well.

It pissed off a lot of people with Hulu, NBC and Fox because ABC appeared to be implying (via their actions) that their one show was of more 'value' than anything the other three offer. It especially ticked off Hulu because the World Series has meant that they've missed two weeks of Fox programming (Fox broadcast the World Series and pre-empted regular programming) -- shows such as American Dad, Family Guy, Fringe, The Simpsons, etc. which attract hits to the Hulu website. A show like V (or NBC's Heroes) is made for Hulu, it appeals to their core demographics. And at a time when Hulu had lost one of their biggest content providers (Fox), ABC was denying Hulu what would have been their biggest streaming program?

ABC knew they'd piss off their new bed partners but were willing to take that risk because they wanted to drive up the ratings on the (costly) new show. And they wrongly assumed the way to do that was to 'ration' V.

They appear to have been very wrong.

Some visitors (randomly selected) to ABC's website last week who stopped by to check out V were invited to take a survey. Those who did scared the hell out of ABC.

The survey explained that ABC and Hulu would offer streaming of V . . . on Saturday. The responses to 'would you watch' were blistering.

As is to be expected. First of all, no one wants to see Hulu quarantining broadcasts (the decision was ABC's) and that would kill off Hulu.

Second of all, when you want to watch something, you want to watch it. If the schedule's already in place -- and it is, even at CBS -- and says the latest episode is available for streaming the day after the broadcast, then that's the schedule. In other words, if mail's being delivered by a carrier in a car, no one's screaming for a return of the pony express.

ABC thinks the respondents will watch anyway. Well, they hope that.

But they repeatedly missed the point when the issue came up in discussions.

"Do you believe in V? Do you think it's entertaining?" We repeatedly asked that and the response was always yes. Well, if you believe that, you want a big audience. Hell, you want a big audience even if you don't believe it. But if you think the show can hook the audience, then you want as many people watching as possible to get the word out.

"So?" was the usual response.

So you have to let people see it. They're not going to be any good talking up something they haven't seen.

And where do people talk things up? At bars, at sports bars, all over the place. Largely on Fridays and Saturdays when they get together with groups of friends. Public gatherings where their conversations can be overheard by others -- increasing the word of mouth on any TV show.

"Okay, okay" one v.p. at ABC said to us, "so we missed Friday. Well we make it up on Saturday."



No, because that's not how it works and before ABC next wants to tinker with the streaming schedule, they might try learning the online world.

Ask Hulu when they get their largest numbers and, no surprise, it's during normal work hours -- nine to five, Monday through Friday.

That's not surprising and it's the same pattern that e-mail services have had this entire decade.

Why is that, do you think?

Well, especially at the start of the decade, some people just have internet access at their jobs. Now, each year, the number of homes with internet access increases (though the economic crisis may alter that pattern in the near future). But that's not always state of the art. In other words, some people with internet access never stream on the weekends because they don't have the capabilities. They wait until the start of the work week and stream at work.

At work, many people are just killing time which does allow for streaming. Also many multi-task which can also benefit streaming.

If ABC had to embargo V at all, if, they should have been smart enough to have put it up on Hulu (and on ABC's site) Friday morning. That was the last day that a huge section of people had a shot at watching anything online.

"Wait!" our v.p. insisted, "What you're saying is that since they won't be able to stream V until Monday, Tuesday night will have a huge showing!"

No, that's not what we're saying. We think the chances are good that it will have a bump because there is good word of mouth from the (smaller) audience that watched the broadcast. And some may stream it Monday (at ABC or Hulu) and be eager to see it the next night. However, what was lost was the weekend word of mouth, what was lost was the weekend chat cycle.

That can't be brought back.

And speaking of things that can't be . . .

We'll review V in 2010.

Why not before then?

This 'series'? Actually a mini-series. Which airs three more episodes and then goes off the air until March. ABC publicly claims that was always the plan and there's some truth that that was the plan early on. But what's not being publicly discussed is the big turnover in behind the scenes talent which will mean that the show returning in March will be different than what viewers check out in November.

A little different or a lot?

We're going to answer that by again stressing V needed all the word of mouth it could get -- all that it did not get due to ABC's decision to embargo the show.



It was the week when the press played the sucker day after day with few exceptions. The national elections 'intended' for January had no law authorizing them at the start of last week and no law authorizing them at the end of the week. But like a bunch of saps, outlets kept filing stories each day with promises of (sing it, Annie) tomorrow when, bet your bottom dollar, the Parliament would pass an election law. Thursday, Sammy Ketz (AFP) quoted election commission head Faraj al-Haidari stating, "We can no longer organise elections on January 16 -- that would have been difficult even if we had received the law today. Whether they retain the old electoral law, amend it or adopt an entirely new one is a matter for members of parliament but we are the ones who will have to implement their decisions according to the timetable. We hope that MPs will resolve their dilemma but we are not going to sacrifice international norms and criteria -- we're obliged to respect the rules so that these elections are transparent." And you might think that would lead some of the reporters/saps to be less gullible (isn't skepticism supposed to be a hallmark of reporting?) but it didn't.

The Associated Press, at least, began to have fun with their headlines and may have been the only US outlet to voice skepticism of anything passing last week.

90 days.

Today, when the cry is (yet again) that the Parliament will pass something, is November 8th. The election commission says they need 90 days to prepare for the elections -- that's printing ballots, staffing polls, security planning, etc. [AFP reported that Faraj al-Haidari, head of the country's Independent High Electoral Commission, declared on Al-Sharquiay TV Tuesday, "The electoral commission held talks with the United Nations on Tuesday to discuss the timetable. We must receive the law in the next two days, otherwise we will be unable to hold the election on the scheduled date of January 16. There is material relating to the election, and international companies need time to print it. Fifteen thousand polling stations have to be made ready for the election, as do 50,000 personnel."] So what's the earliest that national elections, if the law is passed today, could take place?

November has 30 days and today's the 8th. That leaves 22. December has 31 days. 31 + 22 + 53.

90 - 53?


Sadly, January only has 31 days.

Which means for the elections to be considered legitimate (the UN and the elections committee have both voiced that rushing the process would de-legitimize the results), the earliest elections could be held would be February 6th. But Oliver August (Times of London) reported,"An important Shia religious holiday in early February makes it difficult to push back the poll by only a few weeks."

So how far back would it be pushed?

No one wants to say. Liz Sly (Los Angeles Times) interviewed US Lt. Gen. Charles H. Jacoby Jr. last week about the elections and he admitted, "And so we're very concerned that we're past the date that the Iraqis wanted to have an election law, and that every day that goes by eats into the established date for the election. Iraq has the opportunity to demonstrate that it has a viable and credible democracy, and can be a model for the region. There's lots of opportunity here and we don't want to miss these opportunities by having this election drift." Gina Chon (Wall St. Journal) reported, "The election commission said if parliament doesn't approve a law by the end of Thursday, it will be impossible to hold the polls as scheduled on Jan. 16 because there won't be enough time to organize it. In meetings earlier this week, United Nations officials also told lawmakers if a law isn't passed by Thursday, the U.N. would urge postponement of the elections."

While the election law remained a stand-still, violence continued.

Monday the US military announced another death: "FORWARD OPERATING BASE KALSU, Iraq -- A Multi-National Corps -- Iraq Soldier died Nov. 2 of non-combat related injuries. Release of the Soldier's identity is being with held pending notification of the next of kin. The name of the deceased service member will be announced through the U.S. Department of Defense Official Web site [. . .] The announcements are made on the web site no earlier than 24 hours after notification of the service member's primary next of kin. The incident is currently under investigation." Wednesday the US military announced: "Contingency Operating Base Speicher, Iraq -- A Multi-National Division -- North Soldier died Nov. 4 from combat related injuries. The name of the deceased is being withheld pending notification of next of kin and release by the Department of Defense. The names of service members are announced through the U.S. Department of Defense official website [. . .] The announcements are made on the Web site no earlier than 24 hours after notification of the service member's primary next of kin. The incident is under investigation." And they announced: "Contingency Operating Base Speicher, Iraq -- A Multi-National Division -- North Soldier died Nov. 4 from non-combat related injuries. The name of the deceased is being withheld pending notification of next of kin and release by the Department of Defense. [. . .] The incident is under investigation." The announcements brought the number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war to 4359. In addition, Reuters reported Wednesday that a Tuesday Baghdad mortar attack left 7 US service members injured.

Sunday saw 25 Iraqis reported deaths and 97 injured. Monday saw 4 reported dead and 3 reported wounded. Tuesday saw 3 reported dead and 10 reported injured. Wednesday saw 7 reported dead and 25 reported wounded. Thursday saw 5 person reported dead and 15 reported injured. Friday saw 4 people reported dead and six people reported injured. Saturday saw 3 reported dead and 3 reported injured. Totals: 51 reported dead, 159 reported wounded -- and many more people were killed and wounded than were reported.

While the violence continued, the disinterest from the US House Armed Services Committee's Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigation continued. October 23rd, the subcommittee held a hearing entitled "Iraq and Afghanistan: Perspective on US Strategy" and managed to ignore Iraq. November 5th, they held part two of the hearing and they continued to ignore Iraq -- once more focusing on Afghanistan and Pakistan. In passing, a moment of interest may have taken place as US House Rep. Duncan Hunter spoke of a troop 'surge' taking place in Afghanistan and asked a witness, "What do you recommend if we do want it stable and we do want it so that we can leave in the next two to five years, leave it relatively stable, not abandon it totally and we'll probably leave troops there like we will in Iraq. But so what now?"

Hunter was saying that "we'll probably leave troops there like we will in Iraq." After the 'withdrawal,' Duncan Hunter says troops will be left in Iraq.

The work week started with the Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan holding a hearing on Monday. The GAO's William Solis testified that the Pentagon had yet to complete the plans for a draw-down. Not a withdrawal, mind you, for the draw-down. The draw-down is supposed to be completed by August 2010. That's approximately nine months away and the Pentagon hasn't gotten around to completing draw-down plans? What are they waiting on? Or do they know something that others don't?

Solis testified there were 128,700 US service members in Iraq as of August 31st; however, he testified that no one had a count on the number of contractors in Iraq. It was also revealed that KBR had yet to submit a plan which led Commissioner Robert Henke to request a "short, succinct answer" to this question, "If the president announces on February 27, 2009 the draw-down plan and we're on November 2nd, is it possible that the contractor hasn't provided you any plan to adjust staff accordingly?" He got nothing resembling an answer in the response. (KBR was the subject of a Democratic Policy Committee hearing on Friday. We cover the hearing this edition in this article.)

In the US on Monday, Iraqi-American Noor Faleh Almaleki died. The 20-year-old woman was intentionally run over October 20th while she and Amal Edan Khalaf were running errands (the latter is the mother of Noor's boyfriend and she was left injured in the assault). Police suspected Noor's father, Faleh Hassan Almaleki, of the assault and stated the probable motive was that he felt Noor had become "too westernized." The father immediately went on the lamb. After fleeing to Mexico, he then fled to London only to have England refuse to admit him and return him to the US. Upon arrival in Atlanta, he was arrested. Dustin Gardiner (Arizona Republic) quoted prosecutor Stephanie Low stating of the father, "By his own admission, this was an intentional act and the reason was that his daughter had brought shame on him and his family. This was an attempt at an honor killing." Iraqi American Romina Korkes offered her thoughts on the so-called 'honor' killing last week in a column for the Arizona Republic.

In the US, Fort Hood saw an attack. (See Ruth's "Fort Hood Shooting" and also this week's TV commentary.) In Van Nuys, California an Iraq War veteran and his wife received some good news. For weeks now, efforts have been made to deport Frances Barrios for the 'crime' of entering the US when she was six-years-old. She is the wife of Jack Barrios and the mother of their two children. Her husband suffers from PTSD and has described his wife as "his rock." Teresa Watanabe (Los Angeles Times) reported last week that the couple learned Frances was granted "humanitarian parole" and will be able to apply for a green card and remain in the country. Tony Valdez (Los Angeles' Fox 11 -- link has text and video) was present when Frances Barrios received the news:

Tony Valdez: Frances Barrios looked mystified and anxious about her attorneys visit to her Van Nuys apartment in the evening. She usually went to Jessica Dominguez' office whenever there was a development in her bid to stay in the US with her husband and her children. What the attorney told her husband, an Iraq War veteran, was completely unexpected.Jessica Dominguez: The Citizenship and Immigration Services has granted your wife parole which means you can now give her legal permanent resident status without her having to go back to Guatemala.

For those about to download . . .

Last week's "10 thoughts of Carly Simon's Never Been Gone" included this: "Many of us downloaded the album. That means no notes. While you can [PDF format warning] download the Carly's notes here, is there a place you can go online to get credits for the tracks including who is playing on which one? (Yes, we can find that information out very easily -- we didn't all download the album. But it is an issue, and the primary one for this age of downloads, when it comes to albums.)"

17 of you e-mailed in to suggest we do what was needed. So we will.


If you purchase the CD of Never Been Gone, you get a 24-page booklet. Carly Simon's essay, noted above, is included. Jack Mauro writes a two-page introduction, then Carly's essay and then you get the song lyrics and credits for each track.

"The Right Thing To Do" written by Carly Simon; track arranged by Carly who plays acoustic guitar and piano on it as well as contributing the lead vocal, Peter Calo contributes acoustic guitar and acoustic bass, Benjamin Taylor offers background vocals and Ben Thomas offers additional piano work as well as drum programming.

"It Happens Every Day" written by Carly Simon; arrangement by Benjamin Taylor, Peter Calo, Larry Clancia, David Saw and Carly Simon, Carly offers vocals, Peter Calo offers backing vocals, as well as acoustic and baritone guitar, Larry Ciancia offers percussion and cajon, Ben Taylor plays acoustic guitar and does loops and backing vocals and Ben Thomas plays bass and electric piano.

"Never Been Gone" written by Jacob Brackman and Carly Simon; track arranged by Ben Taylor, Peter Calo, Larry Ciancia, Teese Gohl, David Saw and Carly Simon, Carly offers vocals and acoustic guitar, Peter Calo, David Saw and Ben Taylor offer acoustic guitar, Ben also offers backing vocals as do Guilia Casalina and Frank Filipetti, Larry Ciancia offers cajon and Teese Gohl offers acoustic piano.

"Boys In The Trees" written by Carly Simon; track arranged, engineered and mixed by Carly Simon who provides vocals and plays all the instruments, Sally Taylor and John Forte provide backing vocals.

"Let The River Run" written by Carly Simon; track arranged by David Saw and Ben Taylor, Carly provides vocals, Margaret Bell, David Saw, Meredith Sheldon and Ben Taylor provide backing vocals with Ben and David also doing acoustic guitar work, Peter Calo plays baritone guitar, Teese Gohl plays piano and string pads and Larry Ciancia plays djembe.

"You're So Vain" written by Carly Simon; David Saw and Ben Taylor did the arrangement, Carly plays guitar and provides vocals, Peter Calo, David Saw and Ben Taylor provide acoustic guitar work and Saw and Taylor provide background vocals as does Frank Filipetti, Teese Gohl plays the acoustic piano, Ben Thomas plays bass and Larry Ciancia provides cajon and percussion.

"You Belong To Me" written by Carly Simon and Michael McDonald; arrangement by John Forte, JK and Ben Taylor, Carly contributes vocals, David Saw, Ben Taylor and John Forte provide backing vocals with Forte also adding acoustic guitar and additional programming, Teese Gohl plays acoustic piano, JK plays lead guitar and Ben Thomas play bass, organ and handles drum programming.

"No Freedom" written by Carly Simon, David Saw and Benjamin Taylor; arrangement by Ben Taylor who also provides acoustic guitar, loops, drum programming, piano, "DJing" and backing vocals, Carly does lead and backing vocals, Larry Ciancia provides drums and percussion and Christopher Thomas plays bass.

"That's The Way I've Always Heard It Should Be" written by Jacob Brackman and Carly Simon, arrangement by Carly who also provides the vocal and keyboard programming as well as the arrangement for the syth guitar Jimmy Parr plays, Ben Taylor offered backing vocals, Teese Gohl handled the conducting duties for the orchestra: Elena Barere, Toni Glicman, Yana Goichman, Ann Lehmann, Katherine Livolsi-Landau and Nancy McAlhaney (violins), Vincey Lionti, Adria Benjamin and Alyssa Smith (violas) and Richard Locker, Stephanie Cummins and Eugene Moye (celli).

"Coming Around Again" written by Carly Simon; arrangement by Carly and David Saw, Carly contributes vocals, David Saw and Ben Taylor provide backing vocals and acoustic guitar work, Peter Calo also offers acoustic guitar work and Larry Ciancia offers cajon and percussion.

"Anticipation" written by Carly Simon; arrangment by Carly and David Saw, Carly provides vocals and acoustic guitar work, Ben Taylor, Meredith Sheldon, Jill Dell'Abate and David Saw provide backing vocals with Saw also providing acoustic guitar work, Larry Ciancia provides cajon, Peter Calo offers acoustic guitar and bass and Teese Gohl offers acoustic piano work.

"Songbird" written by Carly Simon; arrangement by Ben Thomas and Teese Gohl, Carly provides vocal and piano, Ben Thomas provides additional piano work, Peter Calo provides lap stell, Ben Taylor offers backing vocals and Teese Gohl conducts the orchestra: Elena Barere, Toni Glicman, Yana Goichman, Ann Lehmann, Katherine Livolsi-Landau and Nancy McAlhaney (violins), Vincent Lionti, Adria Benjamin and Alyssa Smith (violas) and Richard Locker, Stephanie Cummins and Eugene Moye (celli).

So now those who've downloaded (or plan to download) have all the credits. On the back of the booklet, Carly dedicates the album to Jacob Brackman ("May we both never be completely gone.") and offers various credits and thanks. In addition, the inside cover of the package features two paragraphs by Carly "Note On The Orchid." There's a photo of the orchid on the CD and on the back of the CD package.

Iris Records is the label putting out the album is available on CD and available for download on iTunes and Amazon and at Carly Simon's website which also features various offers on purchasing a CD and assorted other items.

Tonight at 9:00 pm, you can hear Carly on NYC's Q104 ("Streamed" for online listeners). Wednesday she'll be on Fox's Good Day and NBC's Latenight with Jimmy Fallon.

And if you still haven't gotten the album, read Kat's review "Carly Simon's warm benediction."

The Battle of the Story of the Battle of Seattle

We used to book discussions here all the time. In the early days, it wasn't a problem. And we'd chart the early days all the way through 2006. There were times when we'd divide up for the book discussions and do two or three or even four books. We now have a lot more people working on each edition and even before we reached this number, book discussions were becoming very difficult.

This year, we added comic books to the terrain we covered and we've covered various comics, various themes, we've covered the Com-Con in San Francisco and we've covered a comic book artist's book signing. We continue to cover that (and will have an article next Sunday). Why? When we extended for six months (through this month -- we'll most likely be extending another six months after Thanksgiving but C.I. says "Don't bother me with that until Thanksgiving"), C.I. threw out there, "What are we going to be doing that justifies staying around? What topic are we grabbing that we haven't already?" That topic -- suggested by Stan, Mike, Dona, Wally, Betty and C.I. -- was comics.

And we've done a few book pieces (and have another one next edition) this year. We're really not planning on returning to them. They're a mess, they're messy (such as when, early on, we panned a book written by a friend of C.I.'s, a book C.I. happened to love) and there's just too much work to do. But there's a new book about to be released that we're considering doing a book discussion on. If we do a book discussion on it, we'll be doing it the Sunday after the book's released. What's the book? David Solnit and Rebecca Solnit's The Battle of the Story of the Battle of Seattle.

Two things I'd like to tell you about:
ACTION: A Global Day of Action for Climate Justice on the ten year anniversary of Seattle WTO shutdown, Nov 30, 2009. Yesterday African delegates walked out of pre-Copenhagen trade talks in Barcelona demanding the US and rich countries commit themselves to deeper and faster greenhouse gas emission cuts and European activists blockaded the talks. The key fight over the future of the planet is taking place right now around climate; corporate market solutions are the new WTO and the US and the rich countries are undermining any efforts at climate solutions to avert even more catastrophic impacts. What could shift things right now is people in the US (doing what we did ten years ago) showing mass resistance to the US government and corporate capitalism's obstruction and false solutions. Please join one of the regional actions being planned in SF and around the US (details here soon) and sign up to take or support direct action and get your folks together now!

BOOK: AK Press asked me to make a book reflecting on the Seattle WTO shutdown from an organizers view. With my sister Rebecca Solnit, Kate and the AK Press collective workers, designer Jason Justice and contributions from fellow organizers we did it just in time for the ten year anniversary. Please support by buying a book , get ten at half-off, and pass on the announcement below.

hope and resistance, David Solnit

To many mass movements in developing countries that had long been fighting lonely, isolated battles, Seattle was the first delightful sign that people in imperialist countries shared their anger and their vision of another kind of world.”—Arundhati Roy

AK Press is pleased to announce the release of a new book in honor of the tenth anniversary of the Seattle WTO protests: November 30, 2009

By David Solnit & Rebecca Solnit
with Anuradha Mittal, Chris Dixon, Stephanie Guilloud, and Chris Borte

From dawn to dusk on November 30, 1999, tens of thousands of people shut down the World Trade Organization meeting, facing cops firing tear gas and rubber bullets, the National Guard, and the suspension of civil liberties. An unexpected history was launched from the streets of Seattle, one in which popular power would matter as much as corporate power, in which economics assumed center-stage, and people began envisioning who else they could be and what else their economies and societies might look like.

The Battle of the Story of the Battle of Seattleexplores how that history itself has become a battleground and how our perception of it shapes today’s movements against corporate capitalism and for a better world. David Solnit recounts activist efforts to intervene in the Hollywood star-studded movie, Battle in Seattle, and pulls lessons from a decade ago for today. Rebecca Solnit writes of challenging mainstream misrepresentation of the Seattle protests and reflects on official history and popular power. Core organizer Chris Dixon tells the real story of what happened during those five days in the streets of Seattle.

Profusely illustrated, with a reprint of the original 1999 Direct Action Network’s “Call to Action” broadsheet—including key articles by Stephanie Guilloud, Chris Borte, and Chris Dixon—and a powerful introduction from Anuradha Mittal, The Battle of the Story of the Battle of Seattle is a tribute to the scores of activists struggling for a better world around the globe. It’s also a highly-charged attack on media mythmaking in all its forms, from Rebecca Solnit’s battle with the New York Times to David Solnit’s intervention in the Battle in Seattle film, and beyond. Every essay in this book sets the record straight about what really happened in Seattle, and more importantly why it happened. This is the real story.

David Solnit lived and organized in Seattle in 1999 with the Direct Action Network, a group co-initiated by the Art and Revolution Collective, of which he was a part. He has been a mass direct action organizer since the early ’80s, and in the ’90s became a puppeteer and arts organizer. He is the editor of Globalize Liberation: How to Uproot the System and Build a Better World and co-author with Aimee Allison ofArmy of None: Strategies to Counter Military Recruitment, End War and Build a Better World. He currently works as a carpenter in Oakland, California and organizes with Courage to Resist, supporting GI resisters, and with the Mobilization for Climate Justice West.

Rebecca Solnit is an activist, historian and writer who lives in San Francisco. Her twelfth book, A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities that Arise in Disaster, came out this fall. The previous eleven include 2007’s Storming the Gates of Paradise; A Field Guide to Getting Lost; Hope in the Dark: Untold Histories, Wild Possibilities;Wanderlust: A History of Walking;As Eve Said to the Serpent: On Landscape, Gender and Art; River of Shadows, Eadweard Muybridge and the Technological Wild West (for which she received a Guggenheim, the National Book Critics Circle Award in criticism, and the Lannan Literary Award). A contributing editor to Harper’s, she frequently writes for the political site She has worked on antinuclear, antiwar, environmental, indigenous land rights and human rights campaigns and movements over the years.

Available now in electronic galleys. Contact Kate Khatib ( to request a copy for review. Please consider scheduling articles to coincide with the tenth anniversary of the Seattle WTO protests on November 30, 2009.


The Battle of the Story of the Battle of Seattle
is now available for preorder at the AK Press website, and will ship in mid-November. Individuals can get a 25% discount on the cover price (a modest $12) by ordering in advance. If, however, you or your organization is interested in buying copies in bulk at a wholesale rate, to sell or give away at upcoming events or convergences, we have a special deal for you!

Order 10 or more copies of The Battle of the Story of the Battle of Seattle by November 20, and get 50% off the cover price. Books will be shipped to arrive by N30. (Orders must be prepaid, and are non-returnable, except in the case of damaged books. Shipping fees vary based on location.)

Email for more information or to place an order, or simply place your order for 10 or more copies on our website, note *Special 50% off deal* in the comments box during checkout, and we'll apply the 50% discount before we charge your card.

Questions? Email, or call the warehouse at (510) 208-1700.

Battle of Seattle Cover


ISBN: 978-1-904859635

November 2009

5.5 X 8.5, 128 pages
40+ B&W Illustrations


AK Press

For more information or to request a review copy, please contact:

Kate Khatib
p (410) 878-7706
f (510) 208-1701
674-A 23rd Street
Oakland, CA 94612

Please send any and all reviews to the
addresses above.
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
Poll1 { display:none; }