Thursday, November 05, 2009

Cheese

BULLY BOY PRESS & CEDRIC'S BIG MIX -- THE KOOL-AID TABLE

CELEBRITY IN CHIEF BARRY O IS A CHEESE HEAD WHICH HAS LED AT LEAST ONE CITIZEN TO WEAR A CHEESE HAT TO ONE OF HIS EVENTS.

BUT CHEESE HEAD IS FAR FROM THE WORST OF HIS PROBLEMS. HIS RECENT POLITICAL GOLDEN GLOBE (NOBEL) REMAINS HOTLY CONTESTED WITH SOME POINTING OUT THAT HE'S NOT DONE ANYTHING, OTHERS NOTING HIS WAR ON PAKISTAN, AND STILL OTHERS REMINDING THAT HE'S ORDERING ASSASSINATIONS IN SOMALIA.

NOT SINCE PIA ZADORA'S HUSBAND BOUGHT HER A GOLDEN GLOBE HAS A CELEBRITY AWARD BEEN SO QUESTIONED.

FROM THE TCI WIRE:

Today the Oversight and Ivenstigations Subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee held a hearing entitled Iraq and Afghanistan: Perspectives on US Strategy, Part II. It certainly lived up to Part I and, no, that wasn't a good thing. That October 22nd hearing was covered in the October 23rd snapshot and, as we asked then, "Where the hell was Iraq?"

Let's go with a big moment which raised no eyebrows. This is US House Rep Duncan Hunter (elected for the first time last year, fills his father's seat) opening remarks. He supports sending more troops to Afghanistan, just FYI.

Duncan Hunter: We're not at the ground floor of this debate anymore. We'we're kind of talking like we are. And my question, one is, we're over there, we're committed, we're on the 50th floor, so what now? And I don't think that our commanders over there are ignorant of anything you are saying. I think they all -- they all -- Do you think they're ignorant of this? I think that they have heard probably every point of view and-and the State Department involved -- I was stationed in Afghanistan for my third deployment in 2007. I just went back this last weekend, it was fun. The State Department involvement and the civilian and Smart Person involvement now with the military in Afghanistan is unprecedented. Never happened before. It's quintupled since July -- the State Department, US AID personnel. And there's a two-star civilian for every two-star military person there, there's a whole chain of command for the civilian side along with the military side, everybody's confident, they're asking for a troop surge, I mean that's what everybody's asking for. But my question is: So what now then? I mean they -- there's -- we're talking a lot, we're at the 50th floor, not the ground floor anymore. We're over there. We're committed. Dr. Khan might have us pull out but not on the basis that we can't win, on the basis that you don't think we'll stay

Muqtedar Khan: Yes.

Duncan Hunter: Right?

Muqtedar Khan: Yes, exactly.

Duncan Hunter: Okay. So what now. That's-that's all I got. And that's the big . . . What do you recommend if we do want it stable and we do want it so that we can leave in the next two to five years, leave it relatively stable, not abandon it totally and we'll probably leave troops there like we will in Iraq. But so what now?

Excuse me, "and we'll probably leave troops there like we will in Iraq"? I don't disgree with Hunter but there has been a big effort to deny that was planned. That statement should get attention but don't wait for the press to pick it up. The same press that sold you the illegal war on Iraq really isn't interested in that war ever ending -- as long as they don't have to cover it, they're hap-hap-happy.

There's another obvious moment that should be addressed. It's not Iraq related and Kat's grabbing it for her site and will write about it tonight. So let's move over to US House Rep Mike Coffman and whether he was attempting to spit on Jonathon M. Sylvestre's memory or if he was just damn stupid? We'll go with bulb nose being damn stupid -- and possibly the WC Fields like nose was a tip off? Two days ago, DoD announced: "Spc. Jonathon M. Sylvestre, 21, of Colorado Springs, Colo., died Nov. 2 in Kut, Iraq, of injuries sustained from a non-combat related incident. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 10th Field Artillery Regiment, 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Benning, Ga." Does he not matter to Coffman?

Because Coffman supports the continued war on Iraq? No, Coffman probably still supports that continued war, he supported it back when he could actually remember a war was going on there. But Coffman's lost interest in Iraq long, long ago. And it was disgusting to watch him do an exchange where he cited 'recent' deaths in Afghanistan from his home state and he didn't have a damn thing to say about Jonathon M. Sylvestre who, for the record, is Colorado's most recent service member to die in Iraq or Afghanistan. But Coffman wasn't interested in that. It should be noted US House Rep Susan Davis wasn't interested in Iraq either and our state, California, saw two deaths announced this week in Iraq; Lukas C. Hopper of Merced and Christopher M. Cooper of Oceanside.

The subcomittee heard from retired Maj Gen Paul Eaton, Professor Christine Fair (Georgetown), Professor Muqtedar Khan (University of Delaware) and Marin Strmecki (Smith Richardson Foundation). Eaton and Strmecki were aware of the Iraq War as evidenced by their opening remarks. In his opening remarks, Eaton noted speaking to US President Barack Obama over a year ago, being asked what the army wanted and replying, "Senator, we want your Secretary of Agriculture to be at least as interested in the outcome in Afghanistan and Iraq as is your Secretary of Defense." Does anyone get the idea that this interest is present in the Secretary of Agriculture? That's Tom Vilsack. And, just for example, click on this page (US Agricultural website) and note just what's been 'done' (covered) in 2009 compared to 2008. See an increase? No. And click here for archives and you'll see more efforts noted in every year of the Iraq War except 2004 and 2005. So where's the increase?
Wait, you're saying, Barack had all those problems getting qualified people (and a few tax cheats) confirmed, right?

Wrong. Not with Vilsack. He was nominated December 17, 2008 and he was confirmed by the US Senate January 20th -- the day Barack was sworn in as president. Vilsack did his swearing in January 21st. So let's not pretend like Vilsack showed up late. He was there from the first day of this administration.

Now Eaton told that story in his opening remarks. At any point did any member of the Subcommittee ever ask him, "Do you think what you asked for happened or is happening?" No. And no one ever explored it. Remember, it was about Iraq and the hearing, though including Iraq in the title, really wasn't interested in Iraq. Congress can vote, in 2002, some form of authorization or approval for an impending Iraq War they just don't seem able to focus on it while it continues. That seems to be the tricky part and may be why they've become so lousy about providing oversight on it?

(Or for that matter, pulling the plug on it.)

If there's an exception to that it's been the Senate Democratic Policy Committee. Tomorrow there will be another hearing held by them, this one looking into the burn pits:

Chairman Byron Dorgan (D-ND) announced Wednesday the Senate Democratic Policy Committee (DPC) will conduct a congressional oversight hearing on Friday, November 6, to examine the health risks associated with the continued use of open-air burn pits by the U.S. military and contractor KBR in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The hearing is set for 10:00 AM and will be held in Room 628 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington, DC.
Although military guidelines allow the use of burn pits to dispose of waste only in emergency situations, most large U.S. military installations have continued to use burn pits for years, despite growing evidence that exposure to burn pit smoke may be causing an increased incidence of chronic lung diseases, respiratory ailments, neurological disorders and cancer.
Hearing witnesses are expected to testify that plastics, paints, solvents, petroleum products, rubber, and medical waste have been burned in the pits.
The hearing will also examine whether military contractor KBR operated the burn pits in a safe and cost-effective manner.
Witnesses will include the Air Force's former Bioenvironemental Flight Commander at Joint Base Balad, who warned three years ago about health hazards associated with burn pit smoke at the base, two KBR whisteblowers, and a medical expert who will describe the adverse health consequences associated with burn pit smoke inhalation.

Details follow:
WHO: Senators: Byron Dorgan (D-ND), Chairman, and others
Witnesses: Lt. Colonel Darrin Curtis, former Air Force Bioenvironmental Flight Commander at Joint Base Balad; Rick Lamberth, former KBR employee; Russell Keith, former KBR medic; Dr. Anthony Szema, MD, expert on health impact of burn pit smoke.
WHAT: Congressional oversight hearing.
WHERE: Room 628 Dirksen Senate Office Building
WHEN: 10:00 AM, Friday, November 6, 2009
WHY: To examine the health impact of burn pit smoke on U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, whether the Army is providing exposed soldiers and veterans with accurate information about the risks, and whether contractor KBR is safely operating burn pits.

We'll try to cover that hearing in tomorrow's snapshot (but we're juggling our schedule because we only just learned of it). In other oversight news, Josh Rogin's "Exclusive: Did the U.S. government buy favorable coverage of Iraq's Anbar Province?" (Foreign Policy) reminds that a lot of money has gone into the sinkhole that is the illegal war and for a lot of questionable activities:U.S. taxpayer money that was supposed to be used for emergency purposes in Iraq was spent to buy a special advertising issue for an Anbar businessman in a British trade magazine, a U.S. government investigation has found. FDI magazine, a bimonthly print publication and website owned by the Financial Times, nearly simultaneously showered Anbar Governor Qasim Abid Muhammad Hammadi Al Fahadawi with positive coverage, praising the dangerous Anbar province as "a hot place to invest in" and giving the businessman an award as "Global Personality of the Year for 2009." FDI's award was announced three days before the "Special Report" on Anbar, entitled, "Bridge to the Future," was published on its website. The award was immediately praised by the U.S. military in Iraq, without mention of the U.S. funds spent on the supplement, and the website makes no mention of it having been paid for by the American government. Then again last month, FDI magazine Editor Courtney Fingar handed the governor another award naming Anbar province one of FDI magazine's "standout regions of the year." Reached by The Cable, Fingar confirmed the U.S. government had spent "in the neighborhood of $50,000" on the special supplement but denied her magazine's content had been bought and paid for, calling the report on Anbar "balanced and accurate." The investigation was disclosed in the October quarterly report of the office of the Special Inspector General for Iraqi Reconstruction (SIGIR), which is tasked with monitoring U.S. expenditures and projects in Iraq, but has so far not been publicly reported. Sources told The Cable that after the report is submitted to Congress, it's up to that body to determine if the payment violated funding rules or the law.


And now . . .

It could playfully be argued that by performing this concert Joni Mitchell was the attending mid wife at the birth of Greenpeace. It is a fact, however, that the music on this CD has been donated and approved by the artists and their publishers for a limited period with all proceeds from sales going to Greenpeace in support of our work.

What is that? Joni Mitchell, Phil Ochs and James Taylor did a 1970 concert to benefit Greenpeace. Starting November 10th, the concert is out on CD for a limited time. Click here for more information. Joni Mitchell is, of course, a legendary, one of kind songwriter and artist. The late Phil Ochs left his mark with "I Ain't Marching Anymore," "Changes" and many others and James Taylor is the name of a man who was once married to the legendary artist Carly Simon and whose intense vanity was documented by both Joni and Carly ("watching your hairline recede my vain darling," as Joni put it in "Just Like This Train"). On the live album, Joni's songs include "For Free," "Woodstock," "Big Yellow Taxi," "My Old Man," "Cactus Tree," "The Gallery," "The Circle Game" and "A Case Of You." Phil Ochs contributions to the live album include "Changes," "Chords of Fame," "I'm Gonna Say It Now," "The Bells" and "I Ain't Marching Anymore." Not having yet begun doing vanilla covers of R&B classics, James offers "Fire and Rain," "Sweet Baby James" and a few other songs he wrote (James last recorded a batch of new songs he'd written on 2002's October Road). Carly Simon's latest album is a reimagining of some of her classics as well as two new songs and is entitled Never Been Gone (an amazing album, Kat praised it here). Yesterday, Carly was a guest on NPR's Soundcheck.


Finally, with Aimee Allison (co-host of KPFA's The Morning Show), David Solnit authored the must read Army Of None. David Solnit has now teamed up with his sister Rebecca Solnit, of Courage to Resist, for a new book and there's a new action.
Two things I'd like to tell you about:
ACTION: A Global Day of Action for Climate Justice on the ten year anniversary of Seattle WTO shutdown, Nov 30, 2009. Yesterday African delegates walked out of pre-Copenhagen trade talks in Barcelona demanding the US and rich countries commit themselves to deeper and faster greenhouse gas emission cuts and European activists blockaded the talks. The key fight over the future of the planet is taking place right now around climate; corporate market solutions are the new WTO and the US and the rich countries are undermining any efforts at climate solutions to avert even more catastrophic impacts. What could shift things right now is people in the US (doing what we did ten years ago) showing mass resistance to the US government and corporate capitalism's obstruction and false solutions. Please join one of the regional actions being planned in SF and around the US (details here soon) and sign up to take or support direct action and get your folks together now!
BOOK: AK Press asked me to make a book reflecting on the Seattle WTO shutdown from an organizers view. With my sister Rebecca Solnit, Kate and the AK Press collective workers, designer Jason Justice and contributions from fellow organizers we did it just in time for the ten year anniversary. Please support by buying a book , get ten at half-off, and pass on the announcement below.
hope and resistance, David Solnit

About the book:

From dawn to dusk on November 30, 1999, tens of thousands of people shut down the World Trade Organization meeting, facing cops firing tear gas and rubber bullets, the National Guard, and the suspension of civil liberties. An unexpected history was launched from the streets of Seattle, one in which popular power would matter as much as corporate power, in which economics assumed center-stage, and people began envisioning who else they could be and what else their economies and societies might look like. The Battle of the Story of the Battle of Seattle explores how that history itself has become a battleground and how our perception of it shapes today's movements against corporate capitalism and for a better world. David Solnit recounts activist efforts to intervene in the Hollywood star-studded movie, Battle in Seattle, and pulls lessons from a decade ago for today. Rebecca Solnit writes of challenging mainstream misrepresentation of the Seattle protests and reflects on official history and popular power. Core organizer Chris Dixon tells the real story of what happened during those five days in the streets of Seattle. Profusely illustrated, with a reprint of the original 1999 Direct Action Network's "Call to Action" broadsheet-- including key articles by Stephanie Guilloud, Chris Borte, and Chris Dixon -- and a powerful introduction from Anuradha Mittal, The Battle of the Story of the Battle of Seattle is a tribute to the scores of activists struggling for a better world around the globe. It's also a highly-charged attack on media mythmaking in all its forms, from Rebecca Solnit's battle with the New York Times to David Solnit's intervention in the Battle in Seattle film, and beyond. Every essay in this book sets the record straight about what really happened in Seattle, and more importantly why it happened. This is the real story.

For more on the book, including ordering it, click here and last night Ann noted the book and the importance of the issues the book is covering.


RECOMMENDED: "Iraq snapshot"
"Another 'deadline' passed and no election law"
"The price of oil"
"Battle for Seattle"
"The economy continues to be bad news"
"EDNA, Oprah and the Cult"
"edna hearing in the senate tomorrow"
"Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose"
"Janis Ian, Dennis Kucinich"
"Equality"
"Only ten?"
"The Big Insurance Give Away"
"The day after"
"Family scandals"

"THIS JUST IN! BARRY'S TRASHY FAMILY!"

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