Sunday, January 11, 2015

Truest statement of the week

As usual, just about everything we’ve heard about the economy is wrong. To start, the 5.0 percent growth number must be understood against a darker backdrop: The economy actually shrank at a 2.1 percent annual rate in the first quarter. If we take the first three quarters of the year together, the average growth rate was a more modest 2.5 percent.

-- Dean Baker, "Why You Shouldn’t Believe What You Hear About the US Economy" (CounterPunch).

Truest statement of the week II

Today we need millions of jobs. Depending on how you count the unemployed, the underemployed and the “non-employed,” we have at least 12 million seeking jobs and upwards to at least twice that amount. This does not include the tens of millions of working poor, those who work but remain in poverty. Is it fair for the government to provide jobs while so many people are barely scraping by? Or is the intent of the JG to pay substandard wages?
The stupendous calamity we face is not a jobs issue, it is a lack of income issue.

-- Bernard Marszalek , "The Economy Sucks, Now What?" (CounterPunch).

A note to our readers

Hey --


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

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

And what did we come up with?


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

Editorial: A majority of Americans oppose US troops in ground combat in Iraq

When will the media get around to talking about the Brookings Institution's poll?

That's the one asking whether or not the White House should send US troops into ground combat in Iraq.

57% of Americans said no.

A clear majority.

The White House wants US troops in ground combat.

That was made clear when they sent   Secretary of State John Kerry on December 9th to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to insist that any bill passed on Iraq and Syria must include that the White House can send troops into Iraq for combat.


That's the number the White House knows it has to whittle down.

And if the American people knew this number, it would be harder to whittle down.


Because the White House wants to insist that the people opposing US troops in combat hold a minority opinion -- a fringe opinion.

If Americans knew this was the majority opinion, it would be much more difficult for the White House to get the increase to the ongoing Iraq War.

TV: Jane The Iron Maiden

Maybe Rachel Bilson's Dr. Zoe Hart can have her hymen restored?

Maybe that would be enough to get her a Golden Globe and her show Hart of Dixie renewed?

This weekend, The CW renewed 8 shows -- including Jane The Virgin.

When asked about Hart of Dixie, The CW pedophile -- oops, we mean president -- Mark Pedowitz declared, "We’re going to look at the ratings. We’ll get an opportunity to see how it plays with Jane the Virgin. If it ends, [this season is] a great series finale; if it doesn’t end, it’s a great season finale. But we’re not committed one way or another."

Well let's look at those ratings.

Jane The Virgin aired 9 episodes in 2014.  Hart of Dixie aired only one.

Only three episodes of Jane The Virgin got higher ratings than Hart of Dixie's episode.  The first episode got the best ratings, the second episode got slightly less strong ratings and everything else until the winter finale got worse ratings than Hart of Dixie.

But Jane The Virgin, starring a 30-year-old woman as a woman accidentally artificially inseminated -- and by the man she used to have a crush on, gets a renewal?

Who watches Jane The Virgin?

Very few people because most girls and young women aren't seeing Jane as 'cool' or 'trendy.'

They're seeing her as the pathetic grown up who denies herself sex and lives at home with Mommy.

She's not a strong woman, she's a pathetic child scared of the world around her.


She is popular, the idea of her, with pedophiles and what's the Hollywood Foreign Press but a bunch of pedophiles?

This is the group, please remember, that has given Sarah Jessica Parker more awards for comedy than they have Carol Burnett.  You read that correctly.

Carol, a trail blazing comic legend, has less Golden Globes than Srah Jessica Parker who really can't do comedy -- or did everyone miss Did You Hear About The Morgans? (With a domestic gross of less than $30 million, it's safe to say everyone did miss Did You Hear About The Morgans?)

Because Jane The Virgin stars a 30-year-old Latina, some women feel they can't criticize it the way they would if it starred an Anglo White woman.

That's nonsense.

A show that reduces women the way Jane The Virgin does deserves to be slammed by any and all feminists.

It's a ridiculous show with an all knowing male announcer making it even more ridiculous.

That alone was reason enough to call it out.

And let's be clear that The CW can't stop trying to recreate Arrow but they have no plans for Jake The Virgin.

Of course, they don't.

Even the pig headed of The CW would get how ridiculous a show about an adult lead holding onto their virginity and living with Mommy was if it revolved around a male lead.

On top everything else, there's the fact that the show revolves around a forced pregnancy and that Jane's thrilled to death with it.

What sort of message does that send to young teens?

And what sort of message does The CW send when Hart of Dixie pulls in more viewers than Jane The Virgin but it's not announced as renewed over the weekend.

No, it has to prove itself.

See, a show starring a woman who's got an education, who charts her own way in life and who -- gasp! -- has sex is just a little too unnerving for The CW.

And that's another reason women should be outraged.


 Jim: It's time to roundtable again.  A number of topics will come from e-mails and our e-mail address is  Participating in our roundtable are  The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava, and me, Jim; 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); Ruth of Ruth's Report; Trina of Trina's Kitchen; Wally of The Daily Jot; Marcia of SICKOFITRDLZ; Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends; Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts and Ann of Ann's Mega Dub. Betty's kids did the illustration. You are reading a rush transcript.


Jim (Con't):  First up, Ty wanted to address an issue and it will probably take up a third of the roundtable at least.  Ty?

Ty: "Black Lives Matter."  WTF?  I'm so damn sick of this stuff.  Marcia wrote a post about it "I get Oprah's point," noting all lives matter.  And I agree with her points but, as an African-American man, I'm bothered by another aspect.  I'm not your f**king charity case, White America.  This is an issue, it's an issue for the Black community.  If you're not Black, shut the f**k up.  Stop trying to lead.  "Black Lives Matter" is not a slogan of our community.  "F**k the police" might be.  I am so sick of the over-60, White male, Communist Jew out of NYC, usually with his own podcast or Pacifica Radio program, thinking we need his thoughts or his leadership.  He needs to shut the f**k up and yet that does include Michael Ratner.  It's not your world, it's not even your community.  Shut the f**k up.

Cedric: Is it okay to jump in?

Ty: Sure.

Cedric: I get exactly what you're saying and I'm sure Stan and Isaiah do as well since we're African-American men.  For women, it's a different thing, and I'm sure Betty, Ann and Marcia can speak to that.  But like Ty, I'm sick of it.  We're not important enough, African-American men, to speak for ourselves, apparently.  We need the elderly White, Communist Jew like Michael Ratner or Michael Smith to speak for us.  Not because we're important but because we're fashion accessories for them.  I hear Betty laughing, let me yield.

Betty: Laughing in agreement.  Yeah, it is like being a fashion accessory.  Please note the Michaels Ratner and Smith have their own Pacifica Radio show.  Every now and then they even have a Black guest. Every now and then.  But mainly it's two White men talking about Black people.  That show's over a decade old.  They could have had a Black co-host.  They don't.  Neither does Amy Goodman -- to note another Communist Jew in NYC trying to use Black people to make herself look soulful.  I agree with Cedric and I agree with Ty.  Shut the f**k up.  That goes to any White person with a radio program or TV show.  We don't need you to speak for the Black community.  We don't need you to message for the Black community.  We need you to shut the f**k up, sit your tired ass down and let Black people speak on this issue for Black people.

Ty: Exactly.  They want to control the conversation and paint themselves as so wonderful and so brilliant for defending the 'colored help.'  Please note, they won't turn down the mike themselves, they won't say, "You need Black voices on the air hosting programs."  But they'll happily talk about, as White gods looking down on the Black masses, what needs to be done.  I'm feeling a lot like the Native Americans in the early seventies when they told Jane Fonda to shut up and that she wasn't a leader on the Native American cause.

Isaiah: And one aspect that's being hinted at but maybe not fully developed enough for non-African-American audiences in the conversation we're having right now is the weakling factor.  There may be some strength in, for example, Ann saying, "Black lives matter!"  She's African-American.  But when it's being said or shouted by a White person it tends to look like pity, like we're Wednesday's child, the latest charity case.  I don't want your charity, I want my place at the microphone, my place on the stage.  It's time for White people to stop trying to seize control of Black issues.  You need to learn that we don't need your pity and anything you have to say about how African-Americans are treated can probably be better said by an African-American.

Ty: Amen.

Isaiah: I'm tired of it.  And I'm tired of when we get our rare chance in the media to discuss our issues, you've got these White people rushing in to speak for us.  They really need to sit their tired asses down.  We are not their props.  CodeStink, for example, tried to use some Black women as props.  The organization has had how many years to build membership but can't get any Black members so they go out and grab some Black women who are mothers and basically use them as puppets.  I'm damn tired of it.  White people shut up.  We don't need to hear you explain what it's like to be Black.  You want to talk about what it's like to be White or ask questions about what it's like to be Black, amen, let's have that conversation.  But stop trying to stand on a soapbox and tell the world what it's like to be Black because you don't know and you're loud and bellicose voice is preventing Black voices from being heard.

Jim: Okay, we seem to be at a stopping point.  Let me bring Ann and Marcia in because they were mentioned a little earlier.  Ann, since it was Cedric who mentioned you and you two are married, why don't you pick it up.

Ann: Sure.  Cedric was talking about how African-American men are treated, by certain White radicals, as accessories and these White people -- usually men -- tend to build up their egos and images and do so by treating African-American men as weaklings in need of their leadership.  It's really the master and slave relationship from the plantation days -- no matter how much a Michael Ratner or Michael Smith might want to pretend otherwise.  And when African-American woman are invited into the conversation controlled by White people -- such as the CodeStink example Isaiah noted -- we are to do so as helpless Black women -- mothers -- little more than Black mammies, clutching the women of CodeStink to their bosoms  and singing "Steal Away."

Betty:  Steal away, steal away, steal away to Jesus
Steal away, steal away home
I ain't got long to stay here

Marcia:  And as Betty, Ann and I have so frequently noted at our sites, the White community makes news out of the deaths of African-American men while ignoring the deaths of African-American women.  When the White left establishment does choose to include us, as Ann and Betty note, it's for us to play Black mammies bemoaning the fate of the males.  Our own issues, our own agency, that will apparently never be decreed worthy of discussion in the White controlled media.

Betty: And we're repeatedly told to shut up.  Anita Hill stands up and tells the truth and the reaction by some is, "Why's that Black girl trying to take down a Black man?  She needs to shut up and let him have his time to shine."  And that's pretty much the way it always is in the media.

Ty: And now an e-mail question from Ian.  We're now at the ten year mark.  Why didn't we note it, Ian wants to know, and what does it mean for us?

Rebecca: And let me jump in to say I'm a guest and so are others and I'm sure we all agree this is a question that goes to Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava and C.I.  And that we all congratulate them on the 10 years.

Dona: Thank you.  For me, it's just a blink of the eye.  We were on the ast coast, we were in college, now we're out west, Jim and I are married and parents and it's like where did the time go.

Jess: I agree with that, where did the time go.  There have been so many changes in our lives.  Of course, our big issue as college students was the ongoing illegal war and, ten years later, it's still ongoing.

Ava: But a change there is that when this site started there was coverage of Iraq on the left, there were calls for the war to end.  Now, with a Democrat in the White House, the lousy peace 'leaders' can't speak out.  We're still speaking out.

Ty: Yeah, I'd agree with that and note how disappointing it is that so many on the left (a) no longer care and (b) those who you think might care are just cowards or whores.  It's really disheartening to look back on what was a colorful and living movement and see how it withered.

C.I.: I don't mean to be disagreeable but I see it differently.  I don't see it as withering, I see it as being killed. United for Peace and Justice announces right after the 2008 election that they're closing shop.  Those organizations that continue -- A.N.S.W.E.R. for one -- rush to find other 'issues.'  Saint Barack must not be called out -- that was their chief issue, these groups.  They killed the movement, it didn't wither.  My opinion.

Jim: Yeah, I'd go along with that.  The corruption and mendacity of the Leslie Cagans, Medea Benjamens, Ray McGoverns and so many other worthless 'leaders' -- it's appalling.

Ruth: If we are moving beyond the ten year anniversary of this site, I would note that what really shocks me about the Iraq War and the whorish 'leaders' is that you cannot pick one as the most whorish.  It is as if they are all in competition to be awarded the title, jostling one another for the dishonor.

Jim: Okay, let's go with Ruth and open this up.  Name the biggest disappointment on the left for you of the last ten years.  You can explain why or not but let's go around and name some.

Trina: I'd say World Can't Wait.  They spring to mind because last week I was visiting the site trying to find something to highlight and there was nothing on Iraq. Not this month, not last month.  Hey, Debra Sweet, I Can't Wait for you to wake the f**k up and start calling out the continued war on Iraq.

Marcia: I'll go with Matthew Rothschild of The Progressive who used to climb on the cross as he soapboxed about the Iraq War but now has nothing to say.  He's not a coward, he's just a whore.  It's that simple.

Betty: I'll just say all of KPFA.  Once Barack became president, it morphed into the worst of Air America Radio -- total propaganda.  It made clear that its interest was not in the people but in Barack Obama.  They called out RomneyCare -- even though it took place miles away.  But when Barack recycled it as ObamaCare, they suddenly no longer objected.  They're whores, just cheap whores.  And we especially need to single out public menace Aimee Allison who not only called for book burning when The New Yorker mocked Barack and Michelle in a sardonic cover but who also posted a video to YouTube defending Barack's Drone War. That little whore should burn in hell for eternity.

Rebecca: Iraq Veterans Against the War.  A useless group.  They can't even protest war on Iraq today despite such a protest being their only claim to fame.  They're a disgrace.  And I can remember when they went around insisting they should be leading the antiwar movement because "we were there."  But, again, when little Barry Obama became president, they fell silent.

Elaine: I would agree with Rebecca.  To me, that group is the most appalling.  They are silent about the troops Barack's sending into Iraq despite their name being "Iraq Veterans Against the War."  It's probably time for them to close shop.  No one takes them seriously anymore and its the organization's own damn fault.

Stan:  I'd go with Naomi Klein.  I really thought she was the real deal and the hope for the left's future and then came Barack and Naomi was just a whore, she was an outright liar.  To pick up on an earlier theme, White people we are not your props.  Stop using us as your props.  To defend her support for Barack, Naomi had to invent a story about African-American men.  Now she didn't speak to them, she just watched them.  Like they were animals, apparently, Gorillas in the Mist and all.  But she's awful.  She pretended to care about Iraq, she castigated people for supporting John Kerry who she felt were co-opted yet Canadian born Naomi did a softcover book tour in 2008 to campaign for Barack.  And she hasn't called him out.  She's whored for him.

Mike:  And she's a real dirty whore.  This is the woman whose father and mother were American.  Why did they go to Canada?  Because her father didn't want to serve in Vietnam.  Yet she's done so damn little for war resisters of the Iraq War and, of course, she doesn't do anything anymore but walk around whoring.   For me, though, Robert Parry's the biggest whore.  He's sold out everything he believed in to run a fan board for Barack Obama, that's all Consortium is now, just a fan board for Barack.  He used to insist on accountability for presidents and all this other stuff that just flew out the window.  He's a joke and a huge disappointment.

Cedric: Al Sharpton's just a cheap little hustler but I'll include him because it's appalling that he's got an MSNBC program and is a 'friend' of the White House, etc.  Al Sharpton's a shake down artist.  He has no ethics.

Isaiah:  I think I would go with Riverdaughter and Paul Street.  It's hard to call out Barack for some people.  So they do what those two did, they call him out but make a point to call other critics racist -- whether they are or not.  In 2008 and 2009, Riverdaughter had a site and a huge following.  Now she's fallen from hundreds of comments on each post to ten or less.  Because she had to keep attacking others and smearing people as racists.  Paul's the same way and the reality of the matter is that Paul's work is weak.  As an African-American, I think I've got a little more insight into whether someone is racist against African-Americans -- more insight than White Riverdaughter or White Street.

Kat:  Well there are all these good points being made.  I'm going to go with my BFF Kevin Zeese.  Even now, Kevy's gotta tip toe around criticizing Barack because Kevin's a f**king coward.  The victims of the ongoing Drone War, for example, don't benefit from Kevin's tip toeing around serious issues.

Ann:  Or Ralph Nader.  What the hell has happened to him?  He's a disgrace.  He can't call out Barack at all.  Talk about a little kiss ass.  He needs to retire from public life.  If he can't call out Barack's actions in Iraq, he has nothing left to say.

Dona:  It's amazing that with Barack's popularity so low and with so many We The People speaking out against Barack's policies, the so-called leaders are basically speechless. For me, it would be the blogosphere.  Without the Iraq War, it really wouldn't have taken off on the left.  It motivated so many of us to speak out.  But look around today and there's no real efforts on Iraq in the US.  There's C.I., of course.  She's there every day at The Common Ills.  But outside of her, there's really not anyone.

Ty: I'd say the embarrassing Danny Schechter.  Iraq mattered enough for him when he could try to make money off it with a book and a documentary.  Didn't he talk big and brave?  He doesn't now.  In fact, he doesn't talk at all now.  He shut down his blog in October. In its last days, he was linking to 'explanations' for why poor little Barack was 'forced' to send troops into Iraq and bomb it.  Danny Schechter's disgusting -- a fat piece of filth with no spine.  I could go on but I'll leave it at that.

Wally:  Danny Schechter is such a joke and he wonders why he lost readers?  Because he talked about accountability and about ethics and he tossed them all aside to become a cheerleader for Barack.

Ty: He worships Black cock.  Let's be honest.  He's too cowardly to act on his desires but his worship of terrorist Ike Turner, his worship of Barack, go down the list.  Dude just wants his mouth on some Black cock.

Wally: We're all laughing right now.  I don't know for me.  There was a time when I would have said Marjorie Cohn or Dave Lindorff but both seem to have grown aware that silence is not an option so I would leave them off the list. And while I can knock two people off my list, there are still so many on the list.  Let me go with Ani DiFranco whose just a nutcase.  Bob Roberts was a funny movie.  We on the left loved it. Hilarious.  Tim Robbins is a near genius.  But who would have thought that 'protest singer' Ani, the folkie who says she's not folk, would record a protest album protesting those who didn't bow down before a War Hawk Corporatist President?  Yeah, I'll go with Ani DiFranco who decided to bring Bob Roberts to life.

Jess: That's a real good choice.  Me, I'm wondering when Mr. Bright Eyes Connor Orbst is planning on doing a version of "When A President Talks To God" for Barack?  Oh, that's right, never. Chicken s**t piece of precious.  These entertainers better realize they have destroyed their careers.  They can't come back when a Republican's in the White House and claim, "Look, I'm about the issue not the person."  No, they're about whoring for the Democratic Party.

Jim:  And don't forget the washed up Eddie Vedder.  He's a sausage maker.  Kurt Cobain was an artist. Chris Cornell is an artist.  Eddie Vedder just churns it out.  Cheap product that most people no longer want to watch.

Ava:  I would say US House Rep. Barbara Lee and others like her.  So fired up and passionate to stop the war and end the war when Bully Boy Bush was in office but so laid back once Barack was elected.  And throw losers like Tammy Baldwin.  C.I. remains the only one to call Baldwin out.  As a member of the US House of Representatives, Tammy was part of the Out Of Iraq Caucus -- calling for US troops to be pulled out of Iraq.  As a Senator?  Tammy's all for Barack sending US troops into Iraq.  She's a hypocrite and a fake ass.

C.I.:  There are so many disappointments.  I'm going to go with Jane Fonda.  She's completely useless, Iraqi women are sick of her because of her silence after promising she'd be speaking out.  She's restyled herself as a sexpot -- we all should have known that was coming when she went blond again.  She's going to hit 79 this year but she's more concerned with pretending she's this highly sexual creature -- the only kind of stardom she's ever known -- than with speaking out against war.  Again, she's going to be 79 this year.  I don't know how many years she thinks she has left or why she thinks people will overlook her embarrassing politics.  She's the one who calls herself an activist but she won't speak out for peace, not when a Democrat's in office.  Maybe she just doesn't like Arabs?  Remember, she did cheer, in Israel, a demonstration of the government's attack on Palestinians.  Maybe that tells us all we need to know about Jane's attitude towards the Arab world.  Although you could add in Rollever which is probably the most anti-Arab film ever made and Jane didn't just star in it, she produced it.

Jim: And Ruth, since you kicked this off, who would you choose.

Ruth: I was a huge fan of Law and Disorder Radio.  We all were.  Listening to the Michaels and their nonsense over the last six years has been a huge disappointment.  I thought they stood for something.  Clearly I was wrong.  They need to take accountability for promoting President Barack Obama, for whoring for him and so much more.  And do not tell me that Mr. Ratner spoke out against the Libyan War because he made his comments meaningless.  If you feel as he does that that war was a crime, six months later you are not offering praises to Mr. Obama.

Jim: Alright.  That's going to be it and this is a rush transcript.

Why that tired ass won't sit down

Mama June took Honey Boo Boo -- the cash cow and spectacle -- down.  The tale was tawdry and probably fitting for 'reality' TV and the trash it features.

But as yet another vacuous nova implodes some wonder why Kim Kardashian and her ilk are still standing?

She's not really that attractive -- in face or body -- which is why the modeling career never took off.

She's got no talent and her 'fame' -- such as it is -- rest on her large ass and her tacky life.

So why is the media so obsessed with marketing her?

Well it's really not.

It's actually E!

The Real Housewives of Atlanta, for example, are all much more interesting than any Kardashian but that show airs on Bravo so E! doesn't have any interest in intensive coverage of it.

But by promoting Kim and her family non-stop, E! is also promoting their own TV show Keeping Up With The Kardashians.  In other words, E! promoting Kim non-stop allows E! to make more money of the increasingly tired show.

Why is Kim still around?

Because the E! network has turned itself into a non-stop Kardashian Twitter feed.

Tweet of the week

  • Obama's only stop your aircraft for the killing of children, Syria and Iraq, but you know that God sees you ??

  • This week's playlist

    Never Been Gone

    1) Carly Simon's Never Been Gone.

    2) Prince's Controversy.

    3) The Jimi Hendrix Experience's BBC Sessions.

    4) Stevie Nicks' In Your Dreams.

    5) The Mamas and the Papas' Deliver.

    6) Phoebe Snow's Phoebe Snow Live.

    7) The Doors' The Doors.

    8) Bonnie Raitt's Slipstream.

    9) Etta James' All The Way.

    10)  Wilco's A Ghost Is Born.

    Al-Sweady inquiry clears soldiers - but more torture cases expected

    This is from Great Britain's Socialist Worker:

    Al-Sweady inquiry clears soldiers - but more torture cases expected

    by Simon Basketter

    British army in Basra
    British army in Basra (Pic: The US Army)

    Allegations that British soldiers murdered Iraqis and mutilated their bodies after a battle in Iraq were rejected by an inquiry at the end of last year. But it found that soldiers abused prisoners and that troops breached the Geneva convention.

    The al-Sweady inquiry—named after an Iraqi teenager killed by British soldiers—concluded that troops were guilty of mistreating detainees.

    Sir Thayne Forbes, a former high court judge, found the most serious allegations made against the soldiers were “wholly and entirely without merit or justification”.

    The inquiry looked at the aftermath of the battle of Danny Boy, named after a British checkpoint near Majar al-Kabir, north of Basra, on 14 May 2004.

    Twenty bodies as well as nine captured Iraqis were brought to a British base called Camp Abu Naji. The report said this left the soldiers “very exposed to allegations that Iraqi men had been murdered, tortured and mutilated” at the camp. It also outlined examples of ill-treatment by soldiers during “tactical questioning”. 
    This included the practice of blindfolding. This was meant to be banned after criticism of its use in Northern Ireland in 1972.


    It was prohibited again after the killing of Basra hotel worker Baha Mousa in British custody in 2003.
    He suffered 93 injuries, including fractured ribs and a broken nose.

    According to Phil Shiner, lawyer for many Iraqi victims, “By the end of January there will be more than 1,100 cases of torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, deaths in custody and other unlawful killings.

    “There are at least a further 30 Baha Mousa-type cases we know about.”

    The government was forced to set up the Iraq Historic Allegations Team (IHAT). They say they are investigating 1,000 cases of killings and ill-treatment. They include Hanaan Salih Matrood, an eight-year-old, who was playing near her home when she was  shot by a member of the 1st Battalion of the King’s Regiment. 

    Or 15-year-old Ahmed Jabbar Kareem, who was arrested by a British Army unit, beaten and thrown into the Shatt al-Arab river. This was a practice soldiers called “wetting”. Unable to swim, he drowned. 
    IHAT have interviewed 83 people since July 2013. Justice for the Iraqi victims of the British occupation is a long way off.

    Murray and Isakson work together to protect veterans

    Senator Patty Murray (above) is the Chair of the Senate Budget Committee and serves on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.  Her office issued the following:

    For Immediate Release                                                      CONTACT: Murray (202) 224-2834
    Friday, January 9th, 2014                                                                                        Isakson (202) 224-7777
    Top U.S. Army Official Fixes Retirement Benefits Issue After Calls from Murray, Isakson
    In a November letter to Army Secretary McHugh, the Senators called for immediate reversal of previous policy

    WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Johnny Isakson (R-GA) applauded U.S. Army Secretary John McHugh for reversing a policy that caused a significant number of Army officers to retire at a lower rank and lose significant retirement benefits, as much as $1,000 per month for the rest of their lives.  

    Under the now-reversed policy, a significant group of Army captains and majors (former non-commissioned officers who were recruited for Officer Candidate School after September 11, 2001) were forced to retire at their highest previous enlisted rank, instead of their rank as officers, as a result of the Army’s use of Enhanced-Selective Early Retirement Boards (E-SERB).  In November, the Senators sent a letter to Sec. McHugh calling for this change. The new policy will result in a significant increase in lifetime retirement benefits for the impacted soldiers, for some as much as $1,000 per month or more, or just over $1 million over a 40 year retirement in the case of a captain forced to retire as a sergeant first class.   

    “I heartily share your concern regarding those officers…who were informed they must retire in their previous enlisted grade,” Secretary McHugh wrote to the Senators.  “I am pleased to inform you that…I have waived the minimum requirement for those officers, allowing them to retire as officers without regard to the number of years they  have in active commissioned service.”  

    The full text of Secretary McHugh’s letter can be viewed HERE.  

    "These brave men and women answered the Army’s call to duty not just once, but twice, and I applaud Secretary McHugh’s swift action to correct this policy and ensure we fully honor the service and sacrifice of our nation’s heroes,” Senator Murray said. “I'm grateful to my friend and colleague, Senator Isakson, for joining me in this fight.”
    “I am thrilled Secretary McHugh responded quickly and is taking the steps necessary to rectify this situation and allow these deserving men and women to retire at the rank they have earned and appropriately honor their service to our nation,” said Isakson, chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee.

    Read a one-page summary of the issue here.

    Under the previous Army policy, a soldier must have served at least 8 years of active service as a commissioned officer in order to retire as a commissioned officer.  Soldiers who served 20 years total, but less than 8 years as commissioned officers, were retired at their highest enlisted rank. 

    During the “Grow the Army” effort, the Army dramatically increased the number of officers commissioned via its Officer Candidate School (OCS).  The Army expanded to a post 9-11 peak of 570,000 soldiers in 2010 and is currently executing an end strength reduction designed to shrink the Army to 450,000 soldiers.  Many of those OCS graduates are now being forced to retire through the E-SERB process as the Army shrinks.  Officers with more than 18 years active service are screened by E-SERB and those selected will be forced to retire on the first day of the month following the month they reach 20 years of service. These former non-commissioned officers stepped up and volunteered for OCS at a time the Army badly needed officers and served honorably for between 6 and 7 years, but many were being retired at enlisted ranks they had not held in years. 

    Senators Murray and Isakson were joined in sending their initial letter by: Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), Susan Collins (R-ME), Tom Harkin (D-IA), Mike Johanns (R-NE), Tim Johnson (D-SD), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Mark Pryor (D-AR), Bernard Sanders (D-VT) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH).
    Sean Coit
    Press Secretary
    Office of U.S. Senator Patty Murray


    Post Pop -- uncovering the tension among Soviet bloc dissidents

    This is from Great Britain's Socialist Worker:

    Post Pop -- uncovering the tension among Soviet bloc dissidents

    The Saatchi Gallery’s eclectic new Post Pop exhibition looks at Pop Art outside its western heartland—and the results are revealing.

    Lenin and Coca-Cola, Alexander Kosolapov (1987)
    Lenin and Coca-Cola, Alexander Kosolapov (1987) (Pic: Marta Motagirl/flikr)

    A new exhibition on Pop Art has polarised art critics. The liberals cried that it’s “without taste” while conservatives branded it “bonkers”.

    The purpose of the Saatchi Gallery’s exhibition is to look at Pop Art’s influence around the world, including outside Western capitalism’s traditional heartlands.

    It’s certainly impressive in scale, featuring 250 works of art by 110 artists from the 1970s to the present.

    We’re taken on a tour from New York through Moscow to Beijing.

     This breadth can leave the exhibition feeling like a lash-up of
    different bits of art. The work is certainly eclectic.

    It won’t immediately make you think of artists such as Roy Lichtenstein or Andy Warhol who pioneered Pop Art in the 1950s and ’60s.

    There are some fairly pointless installations such as Paul McCarthy’s Spaghetti Man. But there are parts of the exhibition where the connections become more obvious.

    The older works of art are far better.

    What’s interesting is how artists in the former Soviet bloc used pop art to subvert the regimes’ official message. But this can be a double-edged—or even triple-edged—sword.

    The print Malevich: Black Square by Russian expat artist Alexander Kosolapov is fantastically ironic.


    It juxtaposes references to Kazimir Malevich, one of revolutionary Russia’s most groundbreaking artists, with images from advertising.

    On the one hand, it takes aim at the sanitisation of Malevich by a regime that no longer represented the revolution. But Kosolapov’s work is riddled with contradictions, and he wrongly looked to the West as an alternative.

    Kosolapov shot to fame in 1975 when he left Russia for New York.

    His most famous work depicted  revolutionary leader Lenin as a Coca Cola advert on a New York Times Square billboard.

    Soviet dissident art wasn’t straighforward and had dubious politics.

    But one of the points being drawn out was the parallels between US and Russian society and culture.

    The other interesting work is by Russian duo Vitaly Komar and Alexander Melamid. It features a burnt image of Andy Warhol’s famous Campbell’s Soup reproduction.

    Komar and Melamid set up the “Sots Art”—Soviet Pop Art—movement in the late 1960s, as a reaction against the Communist Party-sanctioned “Socialist Realism”.

    There’s an interesting story worth telling here. This exhibition doesn’t quite tell it, but is a way to start exploring it.
    Post Pop: East Meets West
    Saatchi Gallery, London SW3 4RY.
    Until 23 February

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