Sunday, January 20, 2013

Truest statement of the week

Zero Dark Thirty depicts our messy history in order for us to reckon with it, all of it, good and bad. Those like Jane Mayer in the New Yorker who have said the film "milks" torture for drama "while sidestepping the political and ethical debate it provokes" seem to miss the point of movies entirely: Zero Dark Thirty doesn't exist to help us hash out our principled or unprincipled political dialogue about a particular U.S. policy and how it was instituted. (Mayer, no doubt, prefers Lions for Lambs to Apocalypse Now.) Instead, it puts us in the cockpit, literally and figuratively, which is a much more uneasy place to be. Faces of politicians like Barack Obama and George W. Bush flash by on TV screens in Zero Dark Thirty, while the characters working for the C.I.A. furrow their brows and stay silent. They're too busy to debate. What seems to disturb people like Mayer most of all is that Bigelow doesn’t treat such characters as placards in a Congressional hearing. She sees them as real people, with flaws and understandable motives.

--  Paul Schrodt, "Just Watch Zero Dark Thirty for Chrissakes," (Esquire).

Truest statement of the week II

There have been sporadic protests throughout Iraq ever since the Arab spring began in 2010. But Iraqi government forces, trained and armed by the US, have violently suppressed them, sometimes firing into unarmed crowds. Thus, large-scale protests, like those we saw in Egypt and Tunisia, never got off the ground in Iraq.
These recent protests, however, are unique in their size and character. They focus on the prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, accusing him of corruption, brutal repression, and sectarianism. Maliki's regime has military support from the US, and thus the protesters consider it the "second face" of the occupation.

-- Ross Caputi, "Iraqi protests defy the Maliki regime and inspire hope" (Guardian).

A note to our readers

Hey --

Another Sunday.

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

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

And what did we come up with?

Paul Schrodt's first truest.

We're pretty sure Ross Caputi has had a truest before.   He's an Iraq War veteran and the founder of The Justice for Fallujah Project.

And hold on here while we do a PSA.

This is from Thursday's snapshot:

In yesterday's snapshot, we noted the development regarding burn pits.  The Veterans Administration explains:
On Jan. 10, 2013, President Obama signed a new law (218 KB, PDF) requiring VA to establish a burn pits registry for Veterans who may have been exposed to burn pits in Iraq or Afghanistan.
VA will announce how to sign up once the registry is available.
The new registry will enhance VA's ability to monitor the effects of exposure and keep Veterans informed about studies and treatments.
Additionally, VA is conducting studies on possible health effects.
Stony Brook University in Stony Brook, New York is gearing up to host a symposium on the issue.  This will be their second one, their 2nd Annual Scientific Symposium on Lung Health after Deployment to Iraq & Afghanistan.  The symposium will take place March 4th which isn't that far away.  If you'd like to register to attend, you can click here for the registration info if you're doing it by mail or by fax as well as a registration link if you'd like to register online.
Rosie Lopez-Torres is the executive director of BurnPits 360. Her husband is Iraq War veteran Captain Leroy Torres who left the US in strong health and had it destroyed by burn pits in Iraq.  Burn Pit 360 (and the Torres family) have worked very hard on lobbying for a National Registry. 

 I (Jim) told C.I. I'd grab an illustration and do the post noting the above symposium.  I forgot.  We'll note it in its own entry next week but, for now, it's included in our note to the readers.

There were several choices that they could go with this week but Ava and C.I. decided the story was Crackle, how they had a great six-part series and how they dumped and buried it.

This editorial is now above the TV feature.  Didn't realize we had the wrong time stamp on it until now.  Barack promised transparency but he's not even appointing IG's to oversee departments.  And hasn't for his first term.  Where is the outrage?  Hey, Ralph Nader, why don't you call that out?

"The Wives of Nouri al-Maliki" is a term C.I.'s coined for the paid protesters who show up to swear Nouri is great.  My apologies to three readers -- two Iraqis in the US, one an Iraqi in Europe -- Ty just informed me that three had written in asking that we repost C.I.'s writing on those 'wives.'  If I had known earlier, we would have.  How about next week?  This feature focuses on their American counterparts, people like radio deejay Scott Horton and historian Gareth Porter who have spent years covering for Nouri al-Maliki.  It's going to get a little harder to do in the coming weeks.  Toby Dodge's book is going to be very influential.

Ty's always argued for us highlighting Chris Hedges book regularly by just picking a paragraph or two at random and doing a post with just that in an attempt to interest people who may not have yet read the book.

This wasn't planned.  What happened?  The 'intro' is tacked on.  I didn't say it.  We were talking about the e-mails and suddenly Ava and C.I. started taking notes after about 2 minutes.  They realized this was a feature and nodded to Dona who poked me so I'd see that they were taking notes.  Roundtables?  We hate them. We love them when they're done but just the idea of mounting one is enough to make us cringe.

Ava and C.I. on Eve Ensler who really, really cares about the issue of rape and assault . . . when she can use it to promote Democrats.  No Socialist has ever worked harder for Barack Obama than the craven Eve Ensler who pursued Hillary as if she had some radical, passionate crush on her and then quickly turned on Hillary.  Maybe she did have a crush on Hillary Clinton?  Maybe Hillary told her she wasn't into fat brunettes?  Maybe that explains the vicious attacks Eve launched on Hillary?  And as for her health problems, Ty points out, "God don't like ugly."

If we'd started the mailbag earlier, you'd have heard me suggest we repost something C.I. wrote last week.  She said no but said we had to ("we have to") repost Mike's piece on Fringe.  We agreed.  Great piece, Mike.

A repost from Workers World.

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

And that's what we got for the week.  We're about to go out and grab something to eat so if you're expecting something to go up right away at The Common Ills, don't.  C.I. will be posting tonight but right now we're all getting something to eat.


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

Editorial: Where is the oversight?

Oh, the fools of PolitiFactThey want to talk Barack Obama and transparency.  But they forget that transparency involves oversight.

You can't provide oversight of the State Department, for example, without an Inspector General.  Currently, the US State Department has no Inspector General.

Oh, the person left, like Hilda Solis is leaving her post as Secretary of Labor?


Oh, the post is vacant because of Republican obstroctionism?


Barack's never nominated anyone to be Inspector General of the State Department.

While claiming to support transparency and accountability, Barack made it through his first term without ever nominating an Inspector General.   (The State Department's IG is nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate.)

And the 'acting' IG?  Deputy Inspector General Harold W. Geisel?


He was appointed by Bully Boy Bush and the Senate back in June of 2008.

We don't want to give the impression that Barack's been appointing IGs elsewhere.  This is a problem throughout his administration.  For example, Ernesto Londono (Washington Post) reports that despite 22 indictments, 91 ongoing investigations and $67 million tax dollars recovered, the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction is set to expire in March and there's no push to renew the office.

Maybe the White House is a little sore over the Congressional testimony Stuart W. Bowen's provided over the last two years?  About how the State Department refuses to answer basic questions about spending or even goals?

 Regardless, it's a serious problem and the money is not being tracked.

When the Defense Department was over Iraq, over the money, there was graft, corruption and theft.  Who's over the billions of US tax dollars flowing into Iraq today?  The State Department.

Human nature fundamentally changed in 2009? 

No, it did not.  So how does one claim that there's no need for an Inspector General?

You can't make that claim and be taken seriously.

TV: Like soggy cereal

Last week was a feast of TV offerings.  To cite only a few, you had the return of audience favorites Scandal, Revenge, Arrow and Nikita, you had high profile guest stars like Megan Mullally (30 Rock),  Mark Paul Gossner (Happy Endings), Colin Ferguson (Happily Divorced) and Reggie Wayne and Andrew Luck (Parks and Recreation) and you had Fringe wrapping up a five year run with a two-hour finale.

After several weeks where only TV Land provided new content, prime time programming returned.  And this is when Crackle decides to debut its new series?

Crackle was Grouper until Sony Pictures bought it in 2007 with the plans to use it as an experimental format for emerging artists.  It was then renamed Crackle and the one-time YouTube-like channel began showing 'emerging artists' like Jerry Seinfeld.  For over five years, Crackle's big claim to net-fame was offering up old episodes of Seinfeld.

Other than that exclusive, they're pretty much like Hulu but with less choices.  Both show commercials, both offer old TV shows and movies.  It hasn't had much drawing power and has been considered a second-rate Hulu.  Last week, Crackle demonstrated yet again that it is not to be taken seriously.


They finally had new content that didn't look like something that might be shown on Current TV, a  tight, six episode series entitled Chosen and starring Milo Ventimiglia of Heroes and That's My Boy fame.  That's My Boy fame?  Though conventional wisdom is that no one came off good in that film, Milo's nude scene has been one of  2012's most talked about scenes by straight women and gay men.  For (not work safe) examples, see's "Milo Ventigmiglia Incredibly Hot Nude Scene in That's My Boy" and OhLaLa Mag's "Milo Ventimiglia Hotness in 'That's My Boy'."

You can't buy that kind of heat and Milo has it right now.  As Ian Mitchell, he's separated from his wife Laura (Nicky Whelan) who arrives to pick up their daughter Ellie (Caitlin Carmichael) and, shortly after she leaves, there's a box left on his doorstep and he's shot at.  The box contains a photo of a man he's never met, Daniel Easton played by Diedrich Bader, and Ian's expected to kill him.

If he doesn't, his family will be harmed.  Can he do it? Can he kill someone in cold blood?

As much as That's My Boy was a showcase for Milo's body, Chosen is a showcase for his acting. 

Or would be if people could see it.

Crackle had the ideal time to showcase this series over the last weeks when there was no new prime time programming from CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox and The CW.  A well crafted suspense series could have owned the net during that time period.

But instead Crackle elected to start the series on Thursday, January 17th.  Just past the middle of the week.  And instead of doling out an episode at a time to build interest and talk, they dumped all six episodes on the same day. 

In its nearly six years of existence, Crackle has remained pretty much a secret or a joke.  Last week demonstrated that was no accident.  Crackle fails to crackle or snap or pop.  It just sort of floats there in the bowl like cereal left too long in milk.

The American Wives of Nouri

If you missed it, and you may have because Iraq receives so little coverage, Barack Obama's puppet in Iraq, Nouri al-Maliki, is growing into more of a despot and, get this, people outside of Iraq are starting to notice.

What will the American wives of Nouri al-Maliki -- or maybe they're just his whores -- do now?


From April 2007, Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "My Cousin Maliki" featuring Nouri and then-US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.

You know who we mean, right?  Scott Horton and his ridiculous twang is exceeded only by his ridiculous whoring for Nouri in one broadcast after another of "Antiwar" Radio.  And if Scotty's vouching, you know 'historian' Gareth Porter's right there singing Nouri's praises.  They've done that for years and years, ignoring reality.

Nouri, for those who don't know, was one of the many exiles who only returned to Iraq after the US invaded.  Decades out of the country meant Nouri was out of touch but the American government didn't care about that.  They wanted a puppet they could control.  In 2006, as the Parliament wanted to name Ibrahim al-Jaafari to be Prime Minister of Iraq, the Bush White House said uh-uh.

They remembered the conflict they'd had with al-Jaafari when he'd been prime minister earlier.  They wanted a puppet, a very pliable puppet.  Nouri, unlike many in Iraq, had no armed militia, so it was thought he would be even easier to control.

 Here's Nouri

From January 2012, Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Here's Nouri."

As prime minister from 2006 to 2010, he oversaw the ethnic cleansing popularly known as the civil war which helped create the largest refugee crisis in the Middle East since 1949.  Millions of Iraqis were displaced internally and even more were forced to flee the country for their lives.

He also oversaw attempts to strip women of their rights.  But get this, the Bush White House told him to cut it out.  The Bush White House, already mocked for using women to justify the Afghanistan War and mocked for a war that only made life worse for the women there, was sensitive to charges that women were losing their rights.  They didn't do much, but they did demand that women had representation.

Iraqis suffered those four years.  The Jewish community dropped down to less than eight people, the Iraqi Christians made up a large part of the external refugees, the LGBT community was regularly targeted and Nouri did nothing about public services.

 Not Quite There
From December 2010, Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts  "Not Quite There."

Reliable electricity and potable water remained a dream while Nouri's decision to create secret prisons and detention centers where people were tortured became the waking nightmare of Iraq.

The way it's supposed to work in Iraq now is that the country holds parliamentary elections.  The political slate that wins the most seats in the elections puts forward a representative that the President of Iraq names "prime minister-designate."  That person then must put together a Cabinet (that's a full Cabinet) in 30 days (nominate the people, get Parliament to approve them) or else the President of Iraq will name a new person to be prime minister-designate.

It didn't work that way in 2006.  The US government forced Nouri off on the Iraqi people.

Despite violence, Iraqis turned out in March of 2010 because they were tired of Nouri.

Nouri tried the bribes that had helped the year before in provincial elections, he tried the threats, he tried the scare tactics, he had political rivals removed as candidates, his face was all over Baghdad and all over state TV.  And he (and NPR) announced he was the winner by a wide margin.

The Plan for Day 101

From June 2011,  Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "The Plan For Day 101."


He wasn't the winner at all.

Iraqiya, headed by Ayad Allawi came in first.  Nouri's response?

He threw an eight month tantrum, digging his heels in, refusing to allow anyone to be named prime minister designate.  And the US government backed him up on that.  They even went so far, and this is the Barack Obama White House, this is 2010 -- they even went so far as to draw up a contract, The Erbil Agreement, that would circumvent the Iraqi Constitution and allow Nouri to have a second term.

It spit on the wishes of the Iraqi people, on any hopes of democracy taking root, on the country's Constitution and it revealed that Barack didn't give a damn about the Iraqi people or people in general.  Greedy toddler just wanted his way.  And he got it.

And the Iraqi people got screwed.

The silence on that has begun to break.  For example,  John Barry's "'The Engame' Is A Well Researched, Highly Critical Look at U.S. Policy in Iraq" (Daily Beast) noted a major book released at the end of the year which addressed realities in today's Iraq:

Washington has little political and no military influence over these developments [in Iraq]. As Michael Gordon and Bernard Trainor charge in their ambitious new history of the Iraq war, The Endgame, Obama's administration sacrificed political influence by failing in 2010 to insist that the results of Iraq’s first proper election be honored: "When the Obama administration acquiesced in the questionable judicial opinion that prevented Ayad Allawi's bloc, after it had won the most seats in 2010, from the first attempt at forming a new government, it undermined the prospects, however slim, for a compromise that might have led to a genuinely inclusive and cross-sectarian government."

In the days of Bush, the occupant of the Oval Office would have been called out.  But cheap whores like Scott Horton and Gareth Porter wake up each morning pulling their dicks off the sticky sheets -- sticky from last night's wet dream about Barack.  They are the American Wives of Nouri.

 These days puppets pull the strings
From April 2010, Isaiah's latest The World Today Just Nuts "These days, puppets pull the strings."

They ignore Little Saddam's actions, the way he terrorizes the people, his 2011 attacks on protesters, his current attacks on protesters.  They look the other way as relatives of suspects are thrown in prison because the police can't find the suspect.  They look the other way over and over and then they gush over Nouri with a "ya'll" or two tossed in.

More voices are gathering to call out Little Saddam and how he is victimizing the Iraqi people. 
 Toby Dodge's just released Iraq: From  War To A New Authoritarianism  is an indictment of Nouri. January 15th, Dodge discussed his book at the Virginia Woolf Room at Bloomsbury House in London.  
Toby Dodge:  And I've identified three drivers of the violence that killed so many innocent Iraqis.  The first is undoubtedly the sectarian politics and those Iraqis among us will remember -- fondly or otherwise -- the huge debates that Iraqis had and Iraqi analysts had about the role of sectarian politics.  I'd certainly identify what we could call a series of ethnic entrepreneurs, formerly exiled politicians who came back to Iraq after 2003 and specifically and overtly used religious and sectarian identity, religious ethnic identity to mobilize the population -- especially in those two elections in 2005.  Now the second driver of Iraq's descent into civil war was the collapse of the Iraqi state in the aftermath of the invasion  Now this isn't only the infamous disbanding of the Iraqi army and its intelligence services, this isn't only the driving out of the senior ranks of the if the Ba'ath Party members, the dismembering of the state, 18 of the central government buildings were stripped when I was there in 2003 in Baghdad.  So much scrap metal was stolen from government buildings that the scrap metal price in Turkey Iraq and Iran, it's neighbors dropped as a result of the ill-gotten gain of the looters  was shipped out of the country.  But thirdly, the big issue that drove Iraq into civil war was the political system set up after 2003.  I've gone into that in quite a lot of detail and I've labeled it -- much to the horror of my editor -- an exclusive elite pact -- which basically meant that those former Iraqi exiles empowered by the United States then set up a political system that  deliberately excluded a great deal of the indigenous politicians -- but anyone associated, thought to be associated with the previous regime, in a kind of blanket attempt to remake Iraqi politics.  Now the conclusions of the book are broadly sobering and pessimistic.  That certainly the elite pact has not been reformed in spite of Iraqiya's electoral victory in the 2010 elections, that sectarian politics and sectarian rhetoric that mobilized Iraqi politics from 2003 to 2010 has come back into fashion with the prime minister himself using coded sectarian language to seek to solidify his electoral base among Iraqis.  And basically the only thing that has been rebuilt since 2003 are Iraq's military and they now employ 933,000 people which is equal to 8% of the country's entire workforce or 12% of the population of adult males.  However, running parallel to that, the civilian capacity of the Iraqi state is still woefully inadequate.  In 2011, the United Nations estimated that there only 16% of the population were covered by the public sewers network, that leaves 83% of the country's waste water untreated, 25% of the population has no access to clean, running water and the Iraqi Knowledge Network in 2011 estimated that an average Iraqi household only gets 7 and a half hours of electricity a day. Now in the middle of the winter, that might not seem like a big issue.  But in the burning hot heat of Basra in the summer  or, indeed, in Baghdad, Iraq has suffered  a series of heatwaves over the last few years.  Not getting enough electricity to make your fan or air conditioning work means that you're in a living hell.   This is in spite of the fact that the Iraqi and US governments have collectively spent $200 billion seeking to rebuild the Iraqi state. So I think the conclusions of the Adelphi are rather pessimistic.  The Iraqi state, it's coercive arm, has been rebuilt but precious little beside that has.  But what I want to do is look, this afternoon, is look at the ramifications of that rather slude rebuilding -- a large powerful army and a weak civil institutions of the state.  And I thought I might exemplify this by examining a single significant event that occurred on the afternoon of Thursday the 20th of December 2012.  That afternoon, government security forces raided the house of Iraq's Minister of Finance, Dr. Rafaa al-Issawi.  Issawi is a leading member of the Iraqiya coalition that in 2010 won a slim majority of seats in the Iraqi Parliament -- 91 to [State of Law's] 89 on a 62% turnout.  Now the ramifications of attempting to arrest Issawi and indeed arresting a number of his bodyguards and prosecuting his chief bodyguard for alleged terrorist offenses cannot be overstated.  In the aftermath of the elections, there were a series of tortured, fractured, very bad tempered negotiations which finally resulted in the creation of another government of national unity and, much more importantly, let Nouri al-Maliki, the prime minister since 2006, to retain the office of the prime ministership.  Issawi as Minister of Finance is probably the most important, most powerful Iraqiya politician to gain office in the country.  He won plaudits in his professional handling of the Ministry of Finance and attempted to push himself above the political fray not to engage in the rather aggressive, knockabout political rhetoric that has come to identify Iraqi politics.  So in arresting or seeking the arrest of Issawi and charging him with offenses of terrorism, clearly what Prime Minister al-Maliki is doing is throwing down a gauntlet, attempting to seize further power and bring it into the office of the prime minister.  Issawi, when his house was raided, rang the prime minister to ask him who had authorized it -- a call the prime minister refused to take.  He [Issawi] then fled seeking sanctuary in the house of the Speaker of Parliament, a fellow Iraqiya politician, Osama al-Nujaifi.  He then held a press conference where he said -- and this is a politician not prone to wild rhetoric, not prone to political populism -- he said, "Maliki now wants to just get rid of his partners, to build a dictatorship.  He wants to consolidate power more and more."  Now if this wasn't so disturbing, the attack on Issawi's house triggers memories of a very similar event almost 12 months before, on the same day that the final American troops left Iraq in December 2011, Iraqi security forces led by the prime minister's son laid siege to Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi's house.  Hashemi was subsequently allowed to leave to the Kurdish Regional Government's capital of Erbil but a number of his bodyguards were arrested, two of them were tortured to death and the rest of them were paraded on television where they 'confessed' to activities of terrorism.  So basically now let me turn to explain what the raid on Issawi's house in December 2012 is representative of -- what I've called in the book, the rise of the new authoritarianism.  And this authoritarianism has been driven forward by Nouri al-Maliki  who was first appointed prime minister in the early months of 2006.  Now quite fascinatingly why Nouri al-Maliki was appointed was at the time he was seen as a grey politician.  He was the second in command of the Islamic Dawa Party -- a party that was seeking to maximize the vote of Iraq's Shia population but a party that had no internal militia, that had no military force of its own.  So it was seen by the competing, fractured ruling elite of Iraq as not posing a threat.  Now upon  taking office in April 2006, Maliki was confronted by the very issue that had given rise to his appointment, his inability to govern.  Under the Iraqi system in 2006, the office of the prime minister was seen as a consensus vehicle.  Maliki was sought to negotiate between the US Ambassador, the American head of the Multi National Coalition and other Iraqi politicians.  He wasn't seen as a first among equals.  What Maliki has done since 2006,  is successfully consolidate power in his own hands.  He first seized control of the Islamic Dawa Party, his own party, and then he built up a small and cohesive group of functionaries, known in Iraq as the Malikiyoun  -- a group of people, friends, followers, but also his family, his son, his nephew and his son-in-law and he's placed them in key points across the Iraqi state, seeking to circumvent the Cabinet -- the official vestibule of power in the Iraqi state -- and seize control of Iraq's institutions.

How much longer will the American Wives of Nouri be able to spin for him, to lie for him, to justify?  We don't think much longer but then again, Gareth Porter and Scott Horton have acted bat s**t insane for several years now.  Scott sounds like a yokel on his broadcasts so maybe we don't expect much from he who wants to be the voice of 'antiwar'; however, Gareth used to have a spine.  We believe he traded that in to a higher power in order for Barack to be elected president in some sort of modern day retelling of The Gift of the Magi.

We are rapidly becoming a third-world country

chris hedges

Chris Hedges' Death of the Liberal Class. came out in 2010 and remains an important book.  Here he is discussing Ralph Nader (page 181):

In 1996 he allowed the Green Party to put his name on the ballot before running hard in 2000 in an effort that spooked the Democratic Party.  The Democrats, fearful of his grassroots campaign, blamed him for the election of George W. Bush, an attack that found fertile ground among those who had abandoned rational inquiry for the sound bites of television news.
Nader's status as a pariah corresponded with an unchecked assault on the working class by corporations and their tacit allies in the liberal class.  Long-term unemployment, millions of foreclosures, criplling personal debts and bankruptcies, the evaporation of savings and retirement accounts, and the crumbling of the country's infrastructure are taking place as billions in taxpayer subsidies, obscene profits, bonuses, and compensation are doled out to corporate overlords.  The drug and health-insurance companies, subsidized with billions in taxpayer funds, will soon legally force us to buy their defective products while remaining free to raise co-payments and premiums, especially if we get seriously ill.  The oil, gas, coal and nuclear power companies have made a mockery of Barack Obama's promise to promote clean, renewable energy.  We are rapidly becoming a third-world country, cannibalized by corporations, with two-thirds of the population facing severe financial difficulty and poverty.  



Jim: Once more into the e-mails and this time, it's just Third. Our e-mail address is  So first up, Rhonda writes, "I'm not objecting to or complaining about the fact that Workers World articles are reposted here, I'm just wondering why?"  Okay, Jess, grab that one.

Jess: Workers World is part of the left.  So we do care what they say.  If we're opposed to it, it's not going up here.  But we usually find something we agree with or find to be an interesting take on something.  That's especially true of international events.  They are a site that allows people to republish as long as you include the copyright notice which is another reason we include them.  We're republished online and we're fine with that.  We've never e-mailed any of the sites doing it a take-that-down e-mail.  When we're reposted, we always assume it gives us a shot at reaching some readers we might not otherwise.

Ty: And the reality is that these are always popular.  If you visit this site and scroll through the edition, I don't know what you're reading.  But when you click on a specific article, we get a count in Blogger/Blogspot.  And that's how I know what's popular -- Jim and I and sometimes Dona do check to see that.  And the Workers World articles always get a minimum of 30 reads every week.   So for a repost, that's pretty good. I think Jess explained it really well but I want to be sure everyone reading understands.  If we disagree with a Workers World article, it doesn't make it up here.  If we read it and think, "I feel differently but I see their point," it will make it up here.  That's because we're fine with their views and feel that left views need to be amplified.  We generally agree.  But there are times we may not but we think they've got a really good take, different than our take, on something and we're happy to repost.

Dona: And that's another issue, people think we all are on the same page about every issue.  No.  We agree on core issues like fairness and equality.  But do you honestly think we would write as many pieces as we do that never get posted or take as long as we do to write something that does get posted if we were all in agreement?  We usually make a point to respect one another's differences but we will have differences of opinion.  If you're thinking we never do, I don't know what to tell you.  For -- goodness, this is our anniversary month.   We started January 16, 2005.  Eight years. Wow.  So if you're thinking that for eight years we've been doing this and there's never been a cross word, you're wrong.

Jim: And on the issue about group writing, two things.  This is a small roundtable, just the six of us.  So we may get more from Ava and C.I. than usual.  But there are readers who get mad that Ava and C.I. frequently don't speak a great deal in the roundtables.  First off, they're the ones taking notes.  If I'm taking notes, no one can speak normally, they'll all need to speak very slowly.  Second, they have always felt that they have the TV pieces to speak in, they write those, and that they don't need to weigh in as heavy here.  Third, they're the ones who step up when we don't have enough for an edition.  Look at last week.

Ava: And I want to comment there.   In Tuesday's "Iraq snapshot," C.I. called out yet another in a series of sexist attacks on Maureen Dowd by Bob Somerby:

Maureen Dowd is many things -- some good, some bad -- but she's rarely as boring as Bob.  Dowd  wrote about a White House photo that's been getting a great deal of press attention of late.  You can see it at Third in "The real War on Women" and Ava and I covered the photo in "TV: Screw Little Mika."  Idiot Bob quotes David Gregory from Sunday's Meet The Press.  Ava and I had to quote that broadcast in our piece -- that we wrote two days ago -- but we didn't go with David Gregory, we went with Andrea Mitchell explaining the photo to the Meet The Press panel.

Ava (Con't):  We were at the Golden Globes Sunday.  We get a call from Jim that the edition just isn't working.  We've already done two pieces for the edition:

Ava (Con't): And now, at a party after the awards, we're having to stream Meet The Press, State of the Union, Face The Nation -- just the first five minutes to determine there was nothing in that broadcast related to the topic and ABC's This Week -- also just the first five minutes.  And then we have to write something.  We've already written two pieces for the edition.  Now we have to do a third.  Sunday night.  At a party.  Then Tuesday morning Bob Somerby wants to come along and attack Maureen Dowd -- and women, it was an attack on women -- and he can't even be honest about the issues at play?  He's had two days to absorb them.  C.I. and I had to write that thing on the fly.  When Jim called and said the edition was short the only thing we could think of was that idiot Mika and how we could develop that into something.  And we did.  And we were honest.  Along comes lying Bob to go to town on Maureen Dowd yet again.  He just needs to get over his obsession with Maureen Dowd.  The man is a sexist.

Dona: Agreed.  And to add to the critique of Bob's nonsense, let's remember that his whole point was that this wasn't a serious topic, Maureen Dowd addressing the gender imbalance at the White House.  Instead, he wanted everyone to write about what Kevin Drum was writing about.  Bob Somerby's a sexist pig.  And you better believe that he could have found 30 national columnist who are male who were not writing about education but he glommed on Maureen Dowd as always and insisted that her topic wasn't valid.  He's a pig.

Jim: And that's another issue.  KS e-mailed to say, "I get it sexism is bad.  Does it have to be addressed over and over?"  Iraq is an issue we address every week and often feel like we're repeating since C.I. covers it daily at The Common Ills.  On sexism?  No, we're never repeating.  We're not writing the same story over and over.  Sexism presents plenty of examples every week.  We could do a whole month of articles on sexism -- nothing but sexism -- and still not cover what's going on.  If it makes you uncomfortable, then you probably need to find another website.  I'm really glad that we've not been afraid to tackle that issue.  It was probably easier to tackle it before 2009 because then the reaction was always "Oh, evil Bush and those awful Republicans!"  But sexism didn't vanish.  I think an argument can be made that it's getting a lot worse.  A lot.  And I'm glad that we cover it.

Ty: Jordan e-mailed wanting to know the most important book that's come out while we've been online?  I saw the question -- I read the bulk of the e-mails -- and had time to think about it so I'll answer but I won't put anyone else on the spot.  For me, the book would be Chris Hedges' Death of the Liberal Class.  We always talk about including a paragraph at random every week.  Just having that be its own little post.  While the book's been discussed and talked about in many outlets, I still don't feel it has received the attention it deserves.

Jim: And that's a good pick.  I would want to think about it, like Ty said, but I will note that we picked Carrie Fisher's "Carrie Fisher's Wishful Drinking" as one of our ten favorites.  The other nine:  "Peter Laufer's Mission Rejected," "Chris Hedges'Death of the Liberal Class," "Shirley MacLaine's I'm Over All That," "CCR's Articles of Impeachment Against Bush," "Manal M. Omar's Barefoot in Baghdad," "Susan Faludi's The Terror Dream," "Joyce Murdoch and Deb Price's Courting Justice," "Anthony Arnove's Iraq: The Logic Of Withdrawal" and "Tori's Piece by Piece." Those would be books worth reading, all of them.

Ty: Lisa e-mailed asking if we had plans to do a Wonder Woman series or focus on any other TV show starring a woman after we did our series on The Bionic Woman?

Dona: Let me grab that one.  The plan was for four parts.  We did "The Bionic Woman Season One" "The Bionic Woman Season 2"  and "The Bionic Woman Season Three."  We planned four parts.  The fourth was going to be Bionic Woman -- covering the season of that failed reboot.  But that show was so awful.  It was especially awful after a year where we were able to enjoy Lindsay Wagner's work as the original Bionic Woman.  I couldn't get through it.  Ty couldn't get through it.  That rebott was awful.  Ava and C.I. could and did but they do this kind of work every week for their TV articles.  They manage to get through shows they dislike.  And then Jim suggested that we let them write it.  Just have Ava and C.I. write about the reboot.  To which they replied, we already did.  And they had.  Back when the show was airing, they wrote  "TV: Moronic Woman."  So there's not going to be a part four.  I went and read what they'd written and they are comparing the two shows -- the reboot to the original -- and they are right that anything they'd now write on the reboot would just be them repeating themselves.   As for Wonder Woman, I liked that show and used to watch it in the morning before going to school -- the live action show.  I would love to do that.  But that means everyone writing it would have to watch and that requires time.  Ava and C.I. have to log in time every week on TV, reading scripts, watching episodes, calling friends at networks so to promise another series like the one on The Bionic Woman?  I don't think I'd do that.  But if someone else pushed for it to happen, I'd be happy to take part in writing it.

Ty: Kevin wants to know why we don't cover The Six Million Dollar Man?

Jim: For some of the reasons Dona just outlined but also because when we cover something we're trying to cover something that's not the most covered topic.  If we're doing music, for example, we'd rather write about Prince or Stevie Nicks or someone else who has left a huge impact on the world of music but doesn't get the same amount of attention as the usual covers of Rolling Stone magazine -- you know the people I mean.  We've covered The Bionic Woman and, of the two shows, that's the one I would want us to have covered.

Ty: A number of people miss the comic coverage and wonder if that's gone for good?

Dona: Gone for good?  I don't think so.  But there are times when we just have other things to do. And regular features are easy to burn out on.  I don't think we've even done a TESR Test Kitchen in months.  One thing we experimented with more recently was doing an entire edition on one topic.  And that's worked out rather well.  We may continue toying with that from time to time.

Jess: I think it's important to ask how are we different?  Difference can come via our scope and also via our approach.  I think we're still in touch with the roots of 2005, we're still not going to rush to join a cult or circle jerk and we still can't be bought.  I'm proud of the work we've done over the eight years -- the body of work.

Jim:  And we need to wind down so I'll toss to C.I. to say something.

C.I.: I'm glad Dona remembered that it was eight years.  I hadn't.  Congratulations to Dona, Jim, Ty, Jess and Ava on the eight years.  They had wanted to do a website for awhile but were hesitating.  So the lesson there is, if you're reading this and thinking you should do a website, you probably should.  Get started right now.  You'll learn as you go along and that's fine.

Jim: And tell your truth!   Alright, so that'll be it for this e-mail feature. Our e-mail address is

I Ain't Gonna Work on Eve's Vagina No More (Ava and C.I.)

Failed socialite and failed actress Eve Ensler wants to overtake Valentine's Day this year.  This annual stunt gives the appearance that Eve does actual work and that she cares about female victims of violence.  Oh, if only.


V-Day exists to prolong Ensler's own semi-fame.  She's not about helping rape victims.  But she can be deployed to call out Republicans on the topic. 

There was most recently her self-righteous "Dear Mr. Akin, I Want You to Imagine . . ." It's a really bad essay and it's praise all over the internet goes to a failing educational system.

Self-righteous Eve wrote, "You used the expression 'legitimate' rape as if to imply there was such a thing as 'illegitimate' rape."  Eve's calling out Akin?

"If it was rape, it was good rape."

Why didn't Eve call him out for that?  Oh, right.  Todd Akin didn't say that, Eve Ensler wrote it in The Vagina Monologues (her sole claim to semi-fame).  She wrote a 13-year-old girl saying it about being sought out by a 24-year-old woman for sex.  Due to complaints, Ensler reworked it so that the girl was 16.  She left the line in.

The age change didn't make it any better and the line told us all we need to know about Eve Ensler.

In her column, she railed on and on about how it was as if she'd been raped all over again.  Re-raped, she wrote, using a term she's grown fond of.   In November of 2011, she ripped off Robin Morgan's "Good-bye To All That" and "In Support of Hillary Clinton: Good-bye to All That Pt. II" in the essay "Over it."  That's not a minor thing.  "Over It" takes its form and style from Morgan's work and does not credit Robin.  This is how women's accomplishments get erased.  And if it's bad when a man does that to a woman (and it is), it being done to a woman by another woman doesn't make it  any less harmful.

As Dale Spender notes in 1983's Feminist Theorists, "But what all of these women have done has all been done before.  It has 'disappeared'.  So while men proceed on their developmental way building on their inherited tradition, women are confined to cycles of lost and found, only to be lost and found again -- and again."

In her "Over It" column, Eve Ensler wrote,  "I am over rape victims becoming re-raped when they go public."


December 2010, we were writing pieces like "TV: Saboteurs" in which we called out the attacks on two women who stated they had been raped. 

Where were you, Eve?

Then or since?

The two women stated Julian Assange raped them.  They were then "re-raped" (to use Eve's term) in public as they were attacked non-stop (see this for a few examples).

Our big, strong voice on rape couldn't write a single word about that -- then or since.

Because Socialist Eve Ensler puts Socialism ahead of all things, even ahead of women.  Women's needs didn't matter to her, the Socialist agenda did.  That's fine.  But go make your name on the backs of Socialists and stop pretending to give a damn about women.

Eve Ensler does make-work projects to get herself some publicity.

If and when she can call out the attackers of women who come forward, we might give a damn about her latest stunt.

Probably not, though.  We're familiar with the many problems in her writing which either renders people of color invisible or treats them like the 'exotic' Native Americans of Dances With Wolves.  We're aware of her transphobia as well.

And being a tool for the Democratic Party's patriarchy?  It still makes you a tool of the patriarchy.

So  the real truth is: We ain't gonna work on Eve's vagina no more, We ain't gonna work on . . .


Also see Elaine's "Eve's day of self?"

Fringe goes out strong (Mike)

Jim: Ava and C.I. reviewed Fringe back in May of 2009.  It's a good show and I'll miss it and I can't believe it's been five years.  But Fringe has a special place for this site and longterm readers.  Our plan was to go dark after the 2008 elections.  We had announced that in a roundtable back in 2005.  Actually, C.I. announced it.  Fringe is the reason we didn't go dark. 

How so?  September 14, 2008, Ava and C.I. wrote in their TV coverage:

Fringe debuted on Fox last week and re-airs tonight. It's a roller coaster ride that, if you don't pay attention to what's actually happening, will move quick enough to keep you entertained. If you pay attention, you'll most likely be repeatedly outraged.
When we shared that judgment with a writer for the show, we were asked to wait until the mid-season to review the show (changes are promised -- don't believe it). We're more than happy to wait because the fringe was what really interested us. Not the show, not the writing, the fringe. Or, as some might call it, the lunatic fringe.

They were so busy, Ava and C.I., that they agreed to review Fringe after the mid-season started.  Which would be 2009.  It didn't even hit them when they agreed to it.  

I'm not complaining, we were willing to keep going, it was Ava and C.I. that wanted to quit.  So if you read these days and are glad we're around, thank Fringe (or curse Fringe if you wish we were gone).  If Ava and C.I. hadn't made an offhand promise, this site would have gone dark in 2008.

Fringe wrapped up Friday night and Mike has written about that at length.  


Fringe goes out strong

I just screwed up Elaine's site!  We keep a laptop in the bedroom. I usually blog on it.  Since I wasn't blogging last night, she used it.  No problem.  But I use SeaMonkey as a browser.  She never uses anything but Google Chrome.

I get on, pull up Sea Monkey and click "create post." I'm rubbing my eyes and trying to figure out how to write about the end of Fringe.  I dive in.  And I hit post.  And Elaine was using SeaMonkey last night and didn't log out.  I never log out.  It saves me time.  So you may have seen this at Elaine's site briefly.  I didn't even realize it after I hit post.  I booted down the laptop and Elaine's friend called to say, "Are you covering Fringe or did Mike post at your site?"

So I'm posting at both and adding "guest post" at Elaine's.  Here's what I wrote.

Last night, Fringe ended.  The last two episodes of the series.

The bad news, I still don't get the frog thing.  The frogs were supposed to be clues, remember? We were told that in the first two seasons -- not on the show but in press for the show.

Other than that the ending was perfect.  I think the key scene in the first hour was the scene where they learned that Windmark had ordered Michael taken to Liberty Island and that it was too protected for them to get onto.

Olivia: We need an end run.  We need to bypass security all together.

Peter: How?

Olivia: The other side.

Astrid:  The other side of what?

Peter:  You mean the alternate universe.

So Olivia's going to travel to the other side.  She needs to be injected with the drug Walter injected in her as a child.  Remember season four?  When Nimoy was trying to end the world?  To save the world, Olivia had to die.  Walter shot her because Leonard Nimoy's Billy was using her to open a portal.  He shot her in the head.  The only way to keep this universe from being torn. 

Billy immediately bailed and Walter called for Peter to help him remove the bullet.  The drug in Olivia's body was at its height and if they could remove the bullet, she would self-heal.  That's the magic bullet that saved the world.  And they gave it, on a necklace chain, to Etta and then, when Etta died this season (Etta was/is Peter and Olivia's daughter), they got the bullet back.  It's already helped Olivia with the people who grabbed her earlier this season.

So for Olivia to cross over now that all that drugs has burned out of her system (when it brought her back to life in season 4), she'll need to be injected.  There's concern because no one knows much about the drugs or what could happen to Olivia.  She's injected four times and it looks bad.  But she comes to and has 3 hours before the drugs out of her system.  If she hasn't crossed over to the other side and gone to Liberty Island there to cross back over into our side and grab michael, cross back over to the alternate earth to get him out of Liberty Island (our Liberty Island has no escape) and then go to Battery Park to cross back into our world, if this hasn't taken place in 3 hours, then the drug's effects will wear off and Olivia will be trapped on the other side or in on our Liberty Island that she won't be able to escape from.

So she crosses over and the other side has alarms going off.  Forces surround her and she raises her hands in the air.  Olivia2 and Lincoln are with her next.  (Remember in season four, Lincoln met Olivia2 and when the bridge between the 2 was closed, he decided to stay with Olivia2 because he was in love.)  Olivia2 and Lincoln have a family and are happy.  And eager to help our Olivia.

Olivia2 notices that Olivia's not right.  Walter had feared the drug might not be stable and told her to transport back if she's not able to see straight or has headaches, etc.  Olivia2 can tell something's going on but, because she's an Olivia, she just registers it for a second and never mentions it.  The way she'd want our Olivia to do for her if she was on a mission.

She even lightens the mood by telling Lincoln to stop checking out her younger ass. (Olivia is younger than Olivia2 because Olivia was suspended in amber for 20 years.)

They get her onto Liberty Park and to the room the area that, on our side, Michael should be kept in.

Windmark has questioned Michael, or tried.  Instead of making him bleed, Michael makes Windmark's nose bleed.  Windmark goes into the future and tells his commander that Michael has emotional and thought capabilities in advance of humans and watchers.  The commander says the boy is too important and must be studied.  Windmark says they must kill him because the unknown must be feared.  If they don't kill him, Michael could destroy them all.  The commander says the boy must be studied but that doesn't mean the boy has to be alive.  They'll kill him and preserve the parts.

The surgery is starting when Olivia crosses over.  She stumbles and is hazy.  She sees both layers blinking in and out, our universe and universe 2.  But she manages to take out one watcher.  She makes it to the surveillance room.  She kills the loyalist there and sees them about to operate on Michael.  She rushes to that room as alarms go off about an intruder.  A watcher tells the doctor and the nurse to stay with the boy and he rushes out of the room.

Olivia enters, kills the doctor and tells the nurse to stand still.  She then grabs Michael, who smiles at her, and helps him with his gown when a watcher enters.  Olivia transports out with Michael.  She and Michael are running down the hall when the Watcher crosses over.  He and Olivia start fighting.  She's on the ground but uses her brain to set off fireworks of sorts, she's shutting down the electriticy.  He looks away and she's able to kill him.  Another pops in and he's about to kill her when Lincoln and Olivia2 show up and shoot him dead.  Olivia yells, "Behind you!"  They turn and fire on a third watcher that's just crossed over.

They get Olivia to Battery Park.  She and Michael cross over.  She tells Peter, Walter and Astrid that they don't have much time, the watchers know she's been crossing over.

At the lab, during all of this September's been assembling parts of the machine he and Walter planned to save the world.  He needs another part.  He goes to a watcher who owes him and asks him to help.

Episode two (or second hour of the season finale) (last hour of the show) has many key scenes but, for me, it's really this one where Astrid shows Walter Gene.  Remember Gene.  She's the cow they've used for one experiment after another since season one?  This was her only season five appearance.

Walter's letting Peter know he'll be going into the future with Michael and he has to in order to save the world.  He and Peter are both trying not to cry and Astrid tells Walter to come with her for a second.  She takes him into the amber and shows him Gene.  She thought about taking Gene out of the amber but Gene moos so loud, the security guards on the university might have heard her and discovered the lab.

Astrid:  I at least wanted you to see her.

Walter:  You always know how to sooth me.  You always have.

Astrid:  Walter, this is not the end, we're going to win this and when we do, we're going to be drinking strawberry milkshakes in the lab and we're not even going to remember that this happened.

Walter:  That sounds lovely. [Pause]  It's a beautiful name.

Astrid:  What is?

Walter:  Astrid.

It's been a running gag on the show how, for five seasons, Walter's always getting Astrid's name wrong.  (I think he got it right once.)

Astrid and Olivia go to the watcher's house to get the part.  The door's open.  They enter.  There's a
watcher and a loyalist.  Astrid and Olivia hide on either side of a door and see the watcher hanging from a rope.

Olivia shoots the watcher.  Then Olivia slips off and Astrid stands there waiting for the Loyalist who comes into the door frame.  He aims at Astrid who lowers her gun as Olivia comes up behind him.  They want to know what happened to the part?  The part the watcher (December) was getting for September.  They no longer have the part. 

Olivia tells Michael he smiled when he first saw her, like he knew she would be coming.  She needs him to tell her what she needs to do now because without that part they can't get him to the future.  He tells her by putting a finger over his mouth.  Astrid figures out that they can use a shipping path/route.

Meanwhile where's Broyles?

Broyles was getting some things he thought they might be able to use.  But he's the one who found out Michael was on Liberty Island.  Only three people besides Windmark knew that. Windmark questions them and finds out that Broyles was told.

Windmark went to Broyles' office and told him he needed to question him.  They've already used a machine on Broyles' car so they 'heard' the last conversation Broyles had in it, on the phone with Olivia, where he said he'd meet them after he picked up some stuff.

Broyles, using the technqiue Emma taught him is able to stop Windmark from reading him.  He gets in his car and drives off.  But Windmark and the watchers are following him.

One of them was stupid enough to leave gloves in Broyles car.  This clues Broyles in on the fact that he's being followed.  He calls Olivia and they want to rescue him but he says that won't work, he'll just keep them occupied for as long as he can.

He tries to ditch them while he's under Boston Harbor.  Looked like the Callahan Tunnel to me, but ti was probably Ted Williams because that's the one every one uses.  Then again, if they really filmed on site, it would probably be easier to get filming access to Ted Williams Tunnel than to Callahan or Sumner.

So he ditches his car and goes running -- while traffic piles up -- to one of the foot exists and shoots the lock off.  He's in the stairwell and we're hoping he'll escape.  Just as he might, a Watcher shows up to stop him.

He's then taken in for interrogation.  It's the same building  that the part's being held.  Using a past fringe case, they soak the air with chemicals that breed in your stomach (when you breathe them in).  It's like Alien with things bursting out of the Loyalists and Watchers stomachs.  It stops Phillip Broyles' interrogation.  Olivia and Peter enter with gas masks as everyone's being evacuated.  They go to the surveillance room.  Peter figures out where the part is and Olivia sees Broyles on the monitors.  They rescue him.  He's safe because there are no ducts into the interrogation rooms. They give him a gas mask and he leaves with them.

Windmarks discovers that they are trying to reset time.  He pushes for his side to do so first.  September tells Peter and then Walter that he, not Walter, will go into the future with Michael.  Seeing Peter and Walter together and "saw what he meant to you and I understood what my feelings were" towards Michael "and why they were important."  Walter's upset but agrees.

A huge battle ensues as both sides are basically trying to open a portal in time,

Our side's winning and they're ready for Michael.  Where's Michael? Broken glass.

Peter runs to the van and grabs Windmark.  Windmark has Michael and was going somewhere, who knows where?  But Peter grabbing on appears to have limited his travel powers.  So he tosses off Peter and Olivia shows up.  He fights with Olivia and she fights hard, but she loses.  She's tossed to the ground not far from Peter.

Windmark grabs Michael and Olivia sees the magic bullet.  It slid off her during the fight.  She concentrates and begins moving things with her mind.  It distracts Windmark who is watching and she then moves a car so that it crushes him against another.

Michael's safe.  September's going to take him to the future.  In the future, this will all end when they see Michael and what he can do.  Boom.  Someone just shot September dead  Knowing there's no time, Walter takes Michael's hand and goes through the portal.

And we're back at that moment we've seen over and over.

Olivia and Peter in the park with Etta (five or almost five).  Peter calls to her and she runs towards him.  This is where the Watchers pop up and start shooting everyone.

Only that doesn't happen this time.

Instead, Etta runs to Peter's arm and the three of them  go back to their home where Peter finds a letter from Walter -- it's just a drawing of a tulip.

He smiles and that's the end of the show, the end of the series.  Time has been reset and, as Olivia had believed episodes back, they have Etta back.

My second choice of scene for this episode?  When Walter hugs Peter and tells him, "You are my favorite thing, Peter, my very favorite thing."

Great ending to the show.

Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Algerian gas filed takeover ends in bloody attack (WW)

Repost from Workers World:

Algerian gas field takeover ends in bloody attack

By on January 17, 2013 » Add the first comment.

French military invasion in Mali escalates regional tensions

Jan. 17 — France has escalated its military intervention into the West African state of Mali with increased bombing operations in the north, central and east of the country and the deployment of additional troops. Paris says it will soon have more than 2,000 military personnel occupying Mali. Progressive and anti-war groups, including some in France and throughout Europe, have spoken out against the French imperialist assault on Africa.
Meanwhile, in neighboring Algeria, a group of armed combatants — in opposition to the invasion of Mali — took control Jan. 16 of the In Amenas gas field, partially operated by BP Corporation and Statoi and owned by the Algierian government. Hundreds of Algerian nationals and foreign personnel were taken into custody by the group, which media reports call “Islamists” associated with the “Battalion of Blood” led by Abu al-Baraa.
A raid was carried out today by Algerian Special Forces units. Nearly 600 of the Algerian workers were released from the facility, while several foreigners employed at the field from Belgium, the United States, Japan and Britain also survived the Algerian military assault.
According to Reuters, “Thirty hostages and at least 11 Islamist militants were killed. Two Japanese, two Britons and a French national were among at least seven foreigners killed.” (Jan. 17) Other reports, not yet verified, indicated that approximately 50 people died in the raid.
The same article continues, “Eight of the dead hostages were Algerian. The nationalities of the rest, as well as of perhaps dozens more who escaped, were unclear.”
Algerian military forces were engaged in the operation at In Amenas for eight hours after the government refused to grant a demand that the combatants be allowed to leave the country with those detained. The bodies of Egyptians, Tunisians, Libyans and at least one Malian and a Frenchmen were reportedly found at the scene of the firefight.
U.N. Security Council, European foreign ministers back occupation
The French government went before the 15-nation U.N. Security Council Jan. 14 and won approval for its bombing mission in Mali. The U.S. is supporting the invasion by helping to airlift troops into Mali. (CBS Evening News, Jan. 17)
On Jan. 17, European foreign ministers approved the deployment of troops purportedly to help train Malian forces to fight against the insurgents in the north and central regions of the vast country. Although the foreign ministers claimed that their respective states outside of France would not participate in ground operations, they noted that this position may soon change.
Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius of France said in the aftermath of the European decision, “It is possible, but it remains the responsibility of the other countries involved whether they decide not only to provide logistical support, but also to provide combat troops. But we cannot force them to do it.” (, Jan. 17)
In the same article, the Western-backed government in Mali, through its Foreign Minister Tieman Hubert Coulibaly, praised the decision by the European states. He stressed, “All European countries today declared their support, not only for the action taken by the French Foreign Minister, but also for what we are doing on the ground.”
The meeting of the European ministers indicated that the support mission for the French military bombing and ground invasion would last for fifteen months at a cost of 12 million euros.
French fighter jets bombed Douentza, some 500 miles from the capital of Bamako on Jan. 15. The Islamists had held the town since September.
In addition, the cities of Timbuktu and Gao were also struck by Rafale war planes, killing many people and forcing thousands to flee the surrounding areas.
Later a spokesman for the Ansar Dine (Defenders of the Faith) group, Senda Ould Boumama, stated that they had withdrawn from the main cities and towns in the north of the country as a “tactical retreat” aimed at minimizing civilian injuries and deaths. A leader of the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO), Abou Dardar, stressed, “France has attacked Islam. We will strike at the heart of France.” (, Jan. 15)
Growing opposition to French imperialist intervention
The World Federation of Trade Unions issued a statement opposing the intervention in Mali by France. The WFTU Secretariat partly states, “After the genocide in Rwanda and the demolition of Libya, France continues to use the military bases it maintains in Africa in order to strengthen its role in the inter-imperialist competition and to serve the interests of its monopoly groups who are plundering the wealth-producing resources (gold, uranium, etc.).” (Jan. 15)
The Workers’ Party of Belgium denounced Brussels involvement in the Malian invasion, saying, “As the former colonial power, France continues to have huge economic interests in the region.” (, Jan. 16)
The statement also noted, “Mali possesses gold mines and petroleum, while also uranium is extracted in the region, which is used for part of the French nuclear industry. Just like with the deadly NATO bombing of Libya two years ago, Belgium has been very quick to offer its participation to the French military intervention. And this is taking place without any democratic debate about its objectives, consequences or cost. In a period of painful austerity measures and cuts in the social budgets, any increase in the Defense budget is simply cynical.”

 Articles copyright 1995-2013 Workers World. Verbatim copying and distribution is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved.


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.

 "Idiots at the Boston Globe don't give a damn about..." and "349 military suicides "not such an unreasonable nu..." -- two most requested highlights by readers of this site.

"Hot Dogs in the Kitchen" -- Trina offers some kid-kitchen-friendly tips.

"On reading . . ." -- Betty weighs in on the topic of books and reading.

"Jane Mayer got served!" -- yes, we were happy too.

"Michael J. Fox gets piggy" -- he really needs to watch it.  Bitchy doesn't play well.  Ask Charlie Sheen who's Anger Management was a hit until season two just premiered.

 "Jane Fonda needs to rethink Django,"  "Look who's reteaming!," "Promise Her Anything" -- Ann, Kat and Stan on film.

"Eve's day of self?" -- Elaine on the joke that is Eve Ensler.

"Feathering the nest" and "THIS JUST IN! MAKING BANK!" -- when they pay him, it means he is bought.
"Oh, Jodie," "Jodie?" and  "What a load of crap" -- Ann, Elaine and Marcia on Jodie Foster.

"Benghazi" -- Ruth continues her Benghazi coverage.

"Barack Prepares To Talk To The Kids" -- Isaiah dips into the archives.

"Jane Fonda needs to rethink Django"
"Drill, Curiosity, Drill!" -- Betty continues her coverage of Curiosity.

"Ed Asner and other hypocrites" -- Trina calls out the rotund and worthless.

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