The women's vote carried Hillary Clinton to victory in delegate-rich states that will put her ahead in the ultimate delegate count. Her historic race has energized the gender gap, which is key because women make up the majority of voters in the general election. The gender gap, a significant margin among Hispanic voters, and confidence in her strength on the economy will all give Clinton a strong advantage against John McCain in November.
-- Kim Gandy, President, National Organization for Women (NOW) and chair of NOW PAC.
Women delivered big for Hillary Clinton in key Democratic states with the mother lode of delegates. After working for the women's movement for over forty years I am ecstatic, because I believe women are on the verge of cracking the highest of glass ceilings. I am so sick of hearing that women are their own worst enemy -- after these results, I hope that we have finally put this old saw to rest.
-- Eleanor Smeal, Co-Chair of the NOW Advisory Board
that's from 'women delivered on super tuesday' (now). and thank you to c.i. for this entry. i'm raiding a snapshot that was scrapped earlier this week. we just did the roundtable for the gina & krista round-robin. it's great, check your inboxes tomorrow morning. but i am sooooooooooooooooooo tired. i mentioned that and how i didn't think i had anything to write about because i was all 'thunked out.' c.i. asked me if i wanted to write about hillary and i said i'd planned to mention her tonight, why? there was a dictated snapshot that got scrapped and i could pull from it if i wanted. so that's largely what i'm doing. as kat noted, hillary's success tuesday night was historic.
now president kim gandy explains why she's going all over the country to speak for hillary:
*from her earliest days advising battered women, helping abused children, and providing free legal services to the poor,
*to her time in the White House advocating for universal healthcare, championing the S-CHIP (State Child Health Insurance) program, and helping to pass the Violence Against Women Act,
*to her service as a U.S. Senator, standing strong for reproductive rights and writing legislation to expand contraceptive access, helping win approval of emergency contraception, sponsoring equal pay legislation, and speaking out on the floor against the nominations of John Roberts and Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court, specifically saying that they would damage Roe v. Wade if confirmed. She was right, and I know we can count on her to nominate pro-women, pro-choice judges to the courts at every level.
now history has been rewritten before our eyes this week. for those who have forgotten, obama was the sure thing on tuesday. he was going to win new jersey, he was going to win california, he was going to win and win big and it would be the death of hillary's campaign. none of that happened and you had liars like tim carpenter re-invent what happened on democracy now and amy goodman - so happy to publish in hustler 'magazine' - didn't call him out on it (of course). he lied and said that obama had huge wins despite big media. big media called it for bambi. in fact, tuesday night, tom brokaw was on msnbc lecturing (again) the others about having made those calls that weren't accurate. for some reality on what big media's been like to hillary, here's carly rivers' 'Hillary's Pre-Tuesday Coverage Was Far From Super' (women's enews):
Journalists seemed to take without a grain of salt the idea that the torch had been passed directly from JFK to Obama; from one young man to another, and no anti-heroic women in between, thank you.
All this is not to disparage Obama, whose charisma, oratory, intelligence, message of hope and appeal to young voters are a real plus for Democrats.
But so, too, are Hillary's resonance with lower-income voters and women.
She may be prose while he's poetry, but where are the voices saying that her command of the issues and her long experience as an advocate for children fit today's needs like a glove?
Any admiration I sense for her among opinion journalists is grudging at best and, at worst, she's seen as a combination of Lucrezia Borgia and Lady Macbeth; power-mad, shrill and calculating. And, of course, there's that "cackle."
On the CNN-Time blog, The Page, critic Mark Halperin noted that Kennedy endorsement was important because:
"He has a huge following among working-class, traditional Democrats, one of Obama's weaknesses.
He has a huge following among union households, another of Obama's weaknesses.
He has a huge following among older Democrats, yet another of Obama's weaknesses.
He has a huge following with Hispanics, a big deal in California and other Super Tuesday states, and one of Obama's weaknesses."
Note the key word here? Weaknesses. They are also Hillary's strengths, but that fact was little noted in the orgy of TV coverage. (And I watched hour after hour of it.)
you can read about the breakdown of the results at women enews' blog.
now i really appreciate caryn james' article and i'm about to make an obvious point and want to be clear i'm not speaking of james. she's covering big media and that's fine and dandy. but because i've just excerpted her, i don't want this to be seen as a commentary on her.
in fact, i'll skip just a bit. to give a little breathing space.
i have said for years that we do feminism no good by allowing others to pass themselves off as it when they're not really about feminism. feminism is about equality, no question. but all topics are not 'equal.' now you can write about things that matter even when you're covering something that's trivial. read ava and c.i.'s tv reviews (my favorite is still of jericho) and you'll grasp that it can be done. you can write about something trivial like a tv show and provide a strong feminist commentary. but you can't just write about trivia in a trivial manner and say 'well i'm a girl, so this is feminism.' it's not.
the mud flap gals have done a lot of damage. i've been looking at salon's women's blog - to center for me, or i'd link - and they wrote recently about little jessie and her war on gloria steinem.
little jessie of the mud flap gals is not a feminist. she's a tootsie in a push up bra having a freak out when her boobs are noted while she's posing with bill clinton. ms. magazine made a BIG mistake printing the mud flap gals in their 35th anniversary. if you read little jessie's dumb ass remarks, you grasped that some 1 needs to kill mommy. she's not going to kill daddy because she presents like a cat in heat. but her little war on other feminists is long standing. she's gone after eve ensler, of course. she's trashed ms. magazine for having a pink cover. she's just a useless piece of crap.
and she thinks she can hide behind feminism when ever she's called out. she did a little war on feminist column a year ago that was so bad even katha pollitt - the charolotte rae to the mud flap gals - had to correct her publicly.
so salon's writing about her war on gloria and acting like it just started post-nyt column. it's long standing and it's gloria and all the women who came before.
she's not a feminist and people need to quit encouraging others to believe that.
now caryn's article talks about women bloggers - she doesn't mention jessie - but you need to ask yourself why women who blog about politics (i'm not including me, i have a foul mouth - although that's not a problem for the mud flaps) can't get links around the web but that airhead chat room that is the mud flap gals is linked to by mother jones, the nation, american prospect and much more. these are the mud flap gals who don't even blog about iraq when a 14-year-old girl is gang-raped and murdered by u.s. soldiers.
it's not a minor point. they are the chatty gals having a cup of coffee. they are not feminists. they're in the curlers and complaining about their men.
so we need to grasp that feminism is not an elastic term.
i was right about that, i've said it forever.
and i'm right about what i'm about to go into.
women need to stop acting like our only problem is big media. little media s**ts on us every damn day.
katrina vanden heuvel being editor & publisher of the nation hasn't helped women unless you think 149 bylines for women in 2007 was good when 491 men got bylines.
amy goodman published in hustler. and some idiot writes into ms. magazine in the new issue whining that amy's not been featured in ms. is ms. supposed to feature the women who publish in hustler?
feminists need to get vocal. when air america radio started, every damn show on the week day line up had at least 1 woman co-host except marty kaplin's 1 hour show (whose title repeatedly changed). that was the show before unfiltered, that was unfiltered, al franken, randi rhodes (a solo female host) and janeane's show. today that's far from the case.
and that happened without feminists calling it out loudly and clearly.
ava and c.i. shouldn't have to do every damn thing. they are the 1s who called out the nation. they are the 1s who made it a weekly feature.
and little jessie wouldn't have been a guest blogger if they hadn't called it out and shamed the magazine into doing something. will little jessie thank them - hell no, she's an ungrateful selfish child. it's past time that feminists stopped ignoring the way they're treated in little media.
it's past time that we stopped saying, 'oh good, amy goodman has a woman on today!'
amy goodman didn't even cover gender on wednesday's democracy now roundtable ABOUT THE DEMOCRATIC PRIMARIES. she didn't even cover gender.
read the statements at the top of this post. now explain to me how that happened?
and it's past time that feminists stopped talking about this by themselves and started going public with it. ava and c.i. already stepped up to the plate to call out democracy now this year.
and maybe little jessie will get a spot on the show from it?
look at rachel maddow. she was eager to latch onto the chris matthews is sexist bandwagon. she drops it when msnbc offers her a contract. and then she's tearing apart hillary on tv.
gals, rachel maddow's not a feminist. she's a war hawk. i listened to that crappy unfiltered. for those late to the party, i started my blog the day unfiltered ripped elaine apart on air. she'd blog there during lunch. she'd be between patients (and hated her assistant but had only done 2 write ups - this was before sunny, sunny is a dream) and on lunch so she'd just stay in her office, listen to the show and every now and then add a comment to their blog. she was a regular on the blog and very popular (i read it). and elaine would ask, as rachel did her 'ask a vet' segment over and over, why rachel never had a veteran on who was for ending the illegal war. this was 2004 through april 2005 and rachel maddow wouldn't bring on a vet against the war. elaine would also ask why there was no 'ask a peace activist' segment each week. (or ever?)
1 day she was posting that comment and saying hello to regulars when the hosts freaked out because every 1 agreed with elaine. that stupid paul with the panty hose on top of his head was on again (he was on rachel's show tonight, no suprise) and being fussed over by rachel as usual when elaine had said, 'the war is illegal and needs to end.' and the fact that the blog agreed with elaine led to a yelling and screaming fit on microphone. the idiots were so stupid they thought a guy wrote it (they read the name below elaine's comment).
elaine thought it was funny but i was appalled.
and our 'left' rachel, our 'feminist' rachel was saying until the show went off the air in april of 2005 that the u.s. couldn't pull out of iraq.
she's not a feminist.
she's a lesbian so people get confused. she's a power hungry centrist.
and as usual, she rode the faux feminist wave to get a spot on msnbc where she now slams hillary.
we need to stop allowing 'feminism' to be used in an elastic manner.
and we need to stop ignoring little media.
look at the web sites and notice that they didn't rush to post gloria's column or robin morgan's. note that common dreams posted responses to both columns but never posted gloria or robin.
we need to grow the hell up and grasp that the 'left' is not that 'keen' on us. women who will play the game (ignore sexism) get welcomed.
women who trash real feminists - like little jessie - get welcomed.
we need to stop that.
i doubt seriously that all the mud flap gals combined (the bloggers) could ever hope to sleep with as many men as i have. but i did that because i liked sex. i never confused sleeping around with feminism. i never thought 'i rock!' because of sex.
the nation offered little jessie as 'a guest blogger' and thinks that makes up for 491 men to 149 men?
little jessie never called them out and wasted her time at the mag's website with dopey dumb posts. she didn't call them out. she didn't do a damn thing. she rode the wave that ava and c.i. started.
i know there was tremendous support for ava and c.i.'s work in the feminist community - that was a given since women were the 1s who dumped that in their laps asking them to take on the nation for it's sexism.
but it's not really fair for the movement to hide behind ava and c.i.
they're hard hitters. they're brave women. they're strong. no question. but it's past time that other feminists started calling it out publicly and not just privately. or running to ava and c.i. and asking them to cover __ or __. yeah, they'll do it.
they don't give a damn, they're not scared and they certainly don't need money. so it's true that they've got nothing to lose. but if the feminist movement really wants to make a difference, it can't just count on ava and c.i. they're planning on packing it in online at the end of this year. they've carved out a space and made a tremendous difference but if other feminists don't step up to the plate, what happens when ava and c.i. call it quits online?
i'll continue this tomorrow because i'm just too tired. i'll also try to find hillary's speech from tuesday night and quote from that tomorrow night. again, i'm really tired. maybe we'll talk about the 'feminist' site that didn't even bother to note sandra day o'connor stepping down from the bench?
let's close with c.i.'s 'Iraq snapshot:'
Thursday, February 7, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, the US military death toll in Iraq climbs with very little attention from the press, Mosul prepares for assault, an editorial supports war resisters (so you know it wasn't written by US 'independent' media), Iraqi external refugees aren't returning and the internal ones are receiving no assistance, and more.
Starting with war resistance. Chuck Wiley is a US war resister currently in Canada. He and his wife (also in the military) left after Wiley served in the Persian Gulf and realized he couldn't take part in an illegal war. In doing so, he gave up a lengthy military career. "Drastic and difficult measures" is how the The Whig Standard characterizes it in their editorial "Welcome U.S. war resisters" advocating that the Canadian Parliament take action on the part of the war resisters and pass the motion for safe harbor put forward by the House of Commons Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration:
Canada should welcome these combat refugees without hesitation. Most Canadians recognize that the conflict in Iraq is an unjust war. That's why former prime minister Jean Chretien opted to fight the war on terror in Afghanistan, not Iraq. Chretien knew invading Iraq was unjustifiable and that there were some places one shouldn't follow even a close ally. Some will argue that men and women like Wiley knew when they enlisted that some day they might find themselves in combat; that it would be their sworn duty to fight on behalf of their country. But Bush, as the American commander-in-chief, abused the trust of his military personnel. We should not send them back to face further injustice.
Reality check -- where is independent media? Matty Rothschild could weigh in on Super Duper Tuesday at The Progressive. Katrina vanden Heuvel at The Nation is stomping her feet and insisting that "Howard Dean and the state parties need to head off a situation in which back-room deals determine the Democratic nominee." Where are they on war resistance? It's not as if they're shy about writing about governments or other countries. But independent media -- print and broadcast -- has shown no interest in this story. In November the Canadian Supreme Court refused to weigh in. The Canadian Parliament is the only answer and there is a window of time for passage. But it's not 'pressing' apparently. And let's not forget Professor Patti who, apparently flipping through the latest People magazine yet again, manages to write about Britney Spears but not one damn word about war resisters. Professor Patti's a law professor and surely the latest on Spears is more pressing than granting refugee status to resisters of an illegal war.
Unlike them, you can make your voice heard by the Canadian parliament which has the ability to pass legislation to grant war resisters the right to remain in Canada. Three e-mails addresses to focus on are: Prime Minister Stephen Harper (firstname.lastname@example.org -- that's pm at gc.ca) who is with the Conservative party and these two Liberals, Stephane Dion (Dion.S@parl.gc.ca -- that's Dion.S at parl.gc.ca) who is the leader of the Liberal Party and Maurizio Bevilacqua (Bevilacqua.M@parl.gc.ca -- that's Bevilacqua.M at parl.gc.ca) who is the Liberal Party's Critic for Citizenship and Immigration. A few more can be found here at War Resisters Support Campaign. For those in the US, Courage to Resist has an online form that's very easy to use.
There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Josh Randall, Robby Keller, Chuck Wiley, James Stepp, Rodney Watson, Michael Espinal, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb, Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Peter Brown, Bethany "Skylar" James, Zamesha Dominique, Chrisopther Scott Magaoay, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Clara Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, Blake LeMoine, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Wilfredo Torres, Michael Sudbury, Ghanim Khalil, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, at least fifty US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.
Information on war resistance within the military can be found at The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline [(877) 447-4487], Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters. In addition, VETWOW is an organization that assists those suffering from MST (Military Sexual Trauma).
Meanwhile IVAW is organizing a March 2008 DC event:
In 1971, over one hundred members of Vietnam Veterans Against the War gathered in Detroit to share their stories with America. Atrocities like the My Lai massacre had ignited popular opposition to the war, but political and military leaders insisted that such crimes were isolated exceptions. The members of VVAW knew differently.
Over three days in January, these soldiers testified on the systematic brutality they had seen visited upon the people of Vietnam. They called it the Winter Soldier investigation, after Thomas Paine's famous admonishing of the "summer soldier" who shirks his duty during difficult times. In a time of war and lies, the veterans who gathered in Detroit knew it was their duty to tell the truth.
Over thirty years later, we find ourselves faced with a new war. But the lies are the same. Once again, American troops are sinking into increasingly bloody occupations. Once again, war crimes in places like Haditha, Fallujah, and Abu Ghraib have turned the public against the war. Once again, politicians and generals are blaming "a few bad apples" instead of examining the military policies that have destroyed Iraq and Afghanistan.
Once again, our country needs Winter Soldiers.
In March of 2008, Iraq Veterans Against the War will gather in our nation's capital to break the silence and hold our leaders accountable for these wars. We hope you'll join us, because yours is a story that every American needs to hear.
Click here to sign a statement of support for Winter Soldier: Iraq & Afghanistan
March 13th through 16th are the dates for the Winter Soldier Iraq & Afghanistan Investigation. Dee Knight (Workers World) notes, "IVAW wants as many people as possible to attend the event. It is planning to provide live broadcasting of the sessions for those who cannot hear the testimony firsthand. 'We have been inspired by the tremendous support the movement has shown us,' IVAW says. 'We believe the success of Winter Soldier will ultimately depend on the support of our allies and the hard work of our members'." As part of their fundraising efforts for the event, they are holding houseparties and a recent one in Boston featured both IVAW's Liam Madden and the incomprable Howard Zinn as speakers.
Turning to Iraq. UK MTV News reports, "Angelina Jolie has made a surprise visit to Iraq in her role as a UN goodwill ambassador. The gorgeous actress touched down in the Baghdad today to raise awareness of the 2 million refugees displaced in the war-torn Middle Eastern country." Video of Jolie being interviewed by Arwa Damon (CNN) here and transcript of the interview here. Jolie explains, "Well I came to the region about 6 months ago, I first went to Syria because I work with U.N.H.C.R. and there are 1.5 million refugees in Syria alone from Iraq and while I was there, I went inside and met with some internally displaced people. And this trip is to get a better picture of the internally displaced people and to discuss with the local government, with our government, with the NGOs and with local people, the situation and to try to understand what is happening, because there are over 2 million internally displaced people and there doesn't seem to be a real coherent plan to help them and there's lots of good will and lot's of discussion -- but there seem to be a lot of uh -- just a lot of talk at the moment and a lot of pieces need to be put together." Jolie goes on to note that more than four million Iraqi refugees exist and, of the four million, two million are internally displace with an estimate that the latter includes 58% under the age of the twelve. Note that it's Angelina Jolie talking about the issue which we will get back to later in the snapshot. The Iraqi Red Crescent Organization explains, "Pregnant mothers and young children suffer particular hardships and health risks as a result of the instability and displacement of the war. Electricity shortages, insufficient clean water, deteriorating health services and worsening living conditions have led to a doubling of the child mortality rate since 1990. Chronic child malnutrition has reached 21% of the population." In addition, they note of the internal refugees, "Some families have been forced out of their homes as a result of the sectarian realignment that has affected many areas, and many have had their living space destroyed as a result of the armed conflict. Families fleeing the violence take immediate shelter wherever they can find it, sometimes in areas of uncertain safety, too often with limited access to clean water."
As Jolie calls attention to the internal refugees, new developments emerge on the external refugees. Working from AP and AFP wire reports, the Taipei Times reports the numbers are yet again rising in Iraqis fleeing Iraq and going to Syria: "A report by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNCHR), citing Syrian immigration officials, said that late last month, an average of 1,200 Iraqis came to Syria ever day compared with around 700 who returned." As before, the ones who go back to Iraq are not returning due to the 'safety' myth, they are doing so because they have exhausted their funds or are unable to receive visas (or have them extended). And while the UN was looking at externam refugees, Reuters reports the Iraqi Red Crescent has found the same trend among the internally displaced, "Iraqi officials have been eager to stress that displaced families, who fled across Iraq or to other countries because of fierce clashes between majority Shi'ites and minority Sunni Muslims, were coming back in large numbers as security improved. But the IRC's report for January, seen by Reuters on Thursday, said the number of internally displaced people (IDP) returning home had slowed sharply. The number of registered IDPs fell by 110,000 in October, but dropped by fewer than 3,000 in December, it said."
In what sounds like an attempt to change the dialogue (while actually doing nothing), the puppet government in Baghdad is making noises about 'help' on the way. IRIN reports that Ali Shaalan, of the Iraqi Ministry of Displacement and Migration's planning directorate, is announcing "compounds" will be construction "nationwide" that will provide 'homes' to the displaced and he declares, "We are still at the drawing-board phase for residential compounds to be built over 50,000 square metres, scattered nationwide. We expect to complete this phase in about a month. So far we've managed to buy land in only seven provinces including Missan, Karbala, Basra and Thi Qar; we are planning to buy more land nationwide." Drawing-board? Yeah. And note that homes will be "compounds." The UNHCR report is entitled [PDF format warning] "UNHCR Syria Update on Iraqi Refugees." The report offers the estimate of 1.5 million Iraqi refugees residing in Syria and that the "UNHCR has registered over 153,516 Iraqi refugees (53% male, 47% female). 18,969 registered since 2007 are classified as victims of torture/violence in Iraq. 21,546 registered since 2007 have an important medical condition. 2,654 registered since 2007 are considered to be women at risk." The report also notes, "The Office is following up to secure access to 50 Iraqi women in Douma Prison, and Iraqi Girls (12-17 years old) in the Juvenile and Rehabilitation Centre. The majority of the women are charged because of their involvement in prostitution acts, and the majority of the girls are survivors of SGBV including rape and forced prostitution." Those who turn to prostitution are then at risk for deportation because the report outlines that prostitution, "forring documents" and "petty crimes" are among the crimes that can lead to deportation in Syria. The Syrian government has now implemented a policy where visas are only valid for three months.
Like Syria, Jordan also has a large number of Iraqi refugees. AFP reported yesterday that the puppet government in Baghdad has made a request to the Jordanian government: "exempt Iraqis living illegally in the kingdom from hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines in a bid to help them return home". The Iraqi government is arguing that a significant number of Iraqis living in Jordan (the estimate is 360,000 Iraqi refugees are currently living in Jordan) are being prevented from returning home due to the fact that leaving Jordan would require paying fines. And what of the US?
As noted in Tuesday's snapshot, despite the US State Dept's declared goal of accepting 12,000 Iraqi refugees in fiscal year 2008, there have been only 1,432 accepted thus far. Note, fiscal 2008 started October 1, 2007 so already four months of the fiscal year are gone. That leaves 8 months for the US to accept and settle a little under 11,000 Iraqi refugees and the most recent month, January, found the US accepting a mere 375. Tuesday, US House Reps John Dingell and Alcee Hastings sent a letter to US Secretary of State and Anger Condi Rice asking for a reply by March 7th. In the letter, the two representatives note their "concerns about the humanitarian crisis in Iraq. While we commend you for your appointment of Ambassador James Foley as Senior Coordinator for Iraqi Refugee Issues, we remain concerned that not enough attention and resources have been focused on the situation deemed by many the most pressing humanitarian crisis in the world. Most disconcerting is the fact that our government does not appear to have a long-term strategy to address this crisis." From the letter:
* What are the State Department's long-term objectives in terms of addressing the plight of Iraqi refugees and IDP's? What plans are in place to coordinate with the Iraqi Ministry of Displacement and Migration to assist with this crisis? What plans exist to work with the Iraqi government once the United States military forces withdraw from the region to prevent a vacuum that non-state actors providing humanitarian assistance might fill?
* Do you believe that the United States will meet its goals of admitting 12,000 refugees this year? If not, what is preventing the United States from meeting this goal? Given the State Department's difficulties in meeting its resettlement golas, why does the Fiscal Year 2009 Budget sumbitted by the President reduce funding for Migration and Refugee Assistance by $59 million?
* It is our understanding that very few Iraqis currently in Iraq are able to apply for resettlement. Why has the United States not begun to process larger numbers of IDP's in Iraq, many of whom have been forced to leave their homes because of the assistance they provided to the United States government? What actions does the State Department need to take to begin processing these internally displaced Iraqis? Does the State Department need additional resources to process externally displaced refugees, particularly in Jordan and in Syria, to meet its resettlment goal for 2007.
*Please clarify exactly what Ambassador Foley's role is. During a briefing to Congressional staff last year, he indicated that he is tasked solely with improving the processing of visa applications for Iraqi refugees and IDP's. However, as stated above, the United States does not appear to be making progress towards this goal. We are troubled that Ambassador Foley's mandate apparently does not include coordination of humanitarian efforts, either in Iraq or in other nations in the region currently hosting Iraqi refugees. To that end, are Ambassador Foley's actions limited by a narrow mandate? Does the State Department have any plans to appoint another Senior Coordinator who is solely responsible for coordinating the United States' humanitarian efforts in Iraq and surrounding nations?
* What further recources does the State Department need to adequately respond to the Iraqi refugee and IDP crisis? Are there legislative or budgetary issues that Congresss should address in the coming year that will assist you in responding to this crisis?
On the issue of James Foley, Charley Keyes and Elise Labott (CNN) reported on Monday, "Foley was brought in last year in last year to cut through bureaucratic red tape between the departments of State and Homeland Security, after Congress harshly criticized the slow pace of resettling Iraqi refugees." They also note, "Despite comments by U.S. officials to the contrary, Foley challenged reports from last year that the United States had planned to admit 7,000 Iraqis for the financial year ending last fall, saying an official misspoke." As noted Tuesday, Labott and Bloomberg's Janine Zacharia were among the ones asking for numbers at the press conference Monday afternoon and refusing to be snowed. Labott was the one who brought up the 7,000 issue and Foley tried to deny that had been promised previously and then declared "I came on board in September" (which would have been the end of fiscal year 2007). Yet Foley maintains that 12,000 will be settled this year (fiscal year 2008, ending September 20th) and that he can be held to that pledge.
Among the other questions in the letter, they ask what the State Dept is doing regarding the distributing of the $25 million the puppet government in Baghdad promised to surrounding countries that were taking in Iraqi refugees, how is the State Dept tracking this?
The US Defense Department had their hands out begging yesterday. Nancy A. Youssef (McClatchy Newspapers) reports on US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Michael Mullen's visit before the Senate Armed Service Committee yesterday where they informed that the "administration's plan to withdraw some 20,000 U.S. troops from Iraq this summer will do little to relieve the stress on the Army and Marine Corps" and begged "for $588.3 billion in defense spending for the 2009 budget year, which begins Oct. 1." David Stout and Thom Shanker (New York Times) point out, "The military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan could cost $170 billion in the next fiscal year over and above the $515.4 billion regular Pentagon budget that President Bush has proposed, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said on Wednesday." The budget was the topic of the first hour of NPR's The Diane Rehm Show today.
Diane Rehm: How can you talk about these other big ticket items when you've got the war? When you've got the growth of this defense budget that seems to -- I understand your point about taking a lesser percentage of GDP but let us not forget Eisenhower's comments about the growth of the military-industrial-complex. And here we have this huge military budget which is almost off budget because they're not telling us the truth about what this whole war is costing?
In other news, Tina Susman (Los Angeles Times) reports that Moqtada al-Sadr has not renewed his cease-fire/truce (which will soon expire) but is telling his "followers to abide by" it "or face expulsion from his Mahdi Army militia". Patrick Cockburn (Independent of London) reports that it is due to "expire in the next few weeks and political and military leaders loyal to Mr Sadr are advising him not to renew it. They complain that state security organs, in effect controlled by their Shia rivals in the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI), are using the truce to attack them, particularly in and around the southern city of Diwaniya from which 300 Sadrist families have been expelled. The Sadrists also complain that US troops and the Iraqi army are targeting Mehdi Army leaders and al-Qa'ida has once again started bombing Shia civilians as they did last Friday when two bird markets in Shia districts were attacked, killing 99 people."
Meanwhile Crispin Thorold (BBC News) reports that as puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki is making noises about Mosul being the "decisive battle" and quotes an Iraqi journalist who explains the tensions as Mosul as stemming from inaction: "For five years Mosul has been occupied by the US and the Iraqi military and still we have no electricity, no water. We have nothing." Charles Levinson (USA Today) sounds positively giddy, "The battle for Mosul that will play out in the coming weeks and months could be a very different struggle than the successful U.S. campaigns against al-Qaeda militants in Baghdad and elsewhere." Thorold notes that many expect the assault on Mosul to begin shortly and that "locals have been stockpiling food and fuel in preparation for the operation."
In some of today's reported violence . . .
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing that wounded two police officers, a Baghdad bombing (which was attempted to be safely detonated by authorities) wounded three police officers, a Baghdad bus bombing claimed 3 lives and left seven people wounded, a Salahuddin Province bombing claimed the life of Lt. Khalid Kwan and two more people, a Diyala Province that wounded four "shepherd boys . . . between 4 and 10 years of age," a Mosul roadside bombing wounded three police officers and another one in Mosul wounded two police officers.
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 1 man was shot dead in Baghdad while driving and four of his passengers were wounded and a Diyala Province home invasion targeting 'Awakening' Council members in which women were "ordered" out of the home by unknown assailants and 3 male US collaborators were shot dead prior to the home being blown up.
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 5 corpses discovered in Baghdad.
Today the US military announced [PDF format warning]: "A Multi-National Division - Baghdad Soldier was killed when the Soldier's vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device in western Baghdad Feb. 6." As noted this morning: "The ICCC total since the start of the illegal war for US service members killed while serving in Iraq is 3950 with 6 for the month. 50 away from the 4,000 mark but since Ted Koppel stepped down from Nightline does the media -- big or small -- even bother to let those numbers register?" The numbers have gone up -- due to DoD namings, not M-NF announcements. Currently the total is 3952 since the start of the illegal war and 8 for the month thus far. On the 7th day of the month, the number of US service members who have died in the illegal war this month is 8.
Turning to 'justice' or maybe it's 'compassion,' two stories. Africa Jones (Free Speech Radio News) reported yesterday, "The Justice Department argues that while the law says that veterans are eligible for health care that does not create an entitlement to any particular kind of care beyond medical services deemed necessary by the Department of Veterans Affairs. The DoJ also arges that even VA-approved medical care hinges on the availability of funds. The court filing came after a judge denied the government's request to dismiss a class action lawsuit filed by Veterans for Common Sense and Veterans United for Truth. They accuse the government of illegally denying mental health services to some troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. Plaintiffs say that over 600,000 disability claims have not been processed and that 120 veterans comit suicide every week. The government claims they have improved VA services by hiring more mental health professionals. The plantiffs' attorneys intended request a court order to compell the government to treat veterans seeking mental health care at the next hearing on March 7th." The US Department of Justice is arguing against health care for veterans. Meanwhile Tracy Barker was sexually assaulted in Iraq while employed by Halliburton's KBR and she was sexually assaulted by US State Dept Ali Mokhtare ("He jumped up and grabbed me around the neck and tried to get my shirt off," she told 20/20 in December -- for text on the interview, Ava and I covered it here ) and she was sexually harassed by co-workers. Maddy Sauer and Justin Rood (ABC News) report that her sexual harassment will be 'addressed' in "a secretive arbitration process rather than being able to present her case in open court" while the sexual assault "climas have been severed from her case against Halliburton/KBR and transferred to the Eastern District of Virginia. As in similar cases, KBR had moved for Tracy's claim to be heard in private arbitration, instead of a public courtroom, as provided under the terms of her original employment contract. In arbitration, there is no public record or transcript of the proceedings, meaning that Tracy's [sexual harassment] claims will not be heard before a judge and jury."
In Monday's snapshot, we noted Bill Moyers Journal but I should have noted the book issue. On last Friday's program, Moyers posed the question of which book should the next president take to the White House? I believe this is the YouTube link for that segment but you can also find it online at Bill Moyers Journal if it's not. Remember the show broadcasts Friday night in most PBS markets (some may air it on another night or repeat it at another time) and online it is read, watch or listen. This Friday, he will be noting some audience suggestions. You can leave your recommendation here. Each year, Martha and Shirley and do their community book wrap up for the year here and they require all of our assistance in tabulating the community choices so I'm sure some members will want to weigh in. And I'm even more sure that the multitude of book readers in this community will want to check out the latest installment of Moyers' program to find out choices his audience has made. That should be this Friday. Check your local PBS listings for TV and go to Bill Moyers Journal online. And we don't have time to pick back up on Jolie. We'll do that tomorrow.