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TAKE ACTION: Tell Your Senators to Vote Against 'Hyde on Steroids'

The Senate may be voting on a "Hyde on steroids" amendment similar to Stupak-Pitts that would prevent millions of women from obtaining insurance coverage for abortion under health care reform. Floor debate begins next week, and senators are being pressured to accept this outrageous evisceration of Roe v. Wade in order to get reform legislation passed. It is not acceptable to achieve health care reform by pushing women back to the back alleys. The Senate must not adopt this House-passed amendment that would expand the Hyde Amendment (which prohibits federal funding of abortion, except in cases of rape, incest and threat to a woman's life). Please tell your senators Stupak-Pitts is not status quo and it is not okay.

Please Take Action NOW!

Please Take Action NOW!

After taking action, please support our work!


The Senate will soon begin floor debate on the most important health care legislation (S. 1796) in decades. Women have much to gain from both Senate and House bills, which end insurance industry abuses and extend coverage to millions currently uninsured, but we are not willing to pay for this with an accompanying rollback of women's fundamental and constitutional rights. Several senators who oppose abortion rights are said to be planning to offer an amendment like the sweeping abortion prohibition offered by Reps. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) and Joseph Pitts (R-Penn.) and adopted by the House on Nov. 7.

Reportedly, Sens. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) and Bob Casey (R-Penn.) may offer a version of the Stupak-Pitts Amendment to be attached to the Senate bill. That means, in all likelihood, if the Senate adopts this harmful amendment, it will remain in the final Senate-House conference bill and become law. Alternatively, a modified variation of Stupak-Pitts could be incorporated into the bill. Either way, millions of women lose -- big time.

Please Take Action NOW!

The Stupak-Pitts amendment explained:

  • The ban on abortion coverage in insurance would apply to both the proposed public option and to private health insurance plans sold in the new regional health insurance exchanges. It is estimated that some 36 million uninsured persons would be purchasing insurance policies through new exchanges and would be eligible for federal affordability subsidies.
  • Health insurers may not sell plans that cover abortion to customers who are paying without a subsidy, if even just one person who is receiving the federal affordability credits (the subsidy) were to purchase a plan. In other words, even if you are paying 100 percent of your insurance costs, abortion coverage would not be available in your plan if anyone with affordability credits joins the same plan.
  • Women may purchase a separate abortion "rider" for coverage, though many doubt that these riders would be offered by the insurance companies.
  • Small companies (fewer than 100 employees) would also likely purchase health insurance through the exchange, but if any of their employees received affordability credits no abortion coverage could be included.
  • Eighty-seven percent of employer-based insurance plans now cover abortion services, but if employers withdraw coverage and send their employees to the health insurance exchanges, those employees would likely lose abortion coverage under these new prohibitions.

There may be a modified version of this harmful amendment that is included in the Senate health care reform bill that will be debated next week. We want to make sure that Stupak-Pitts language is not used and that no variation of this harmful amendment is passed. Please send a message to your senators that you oppose any restrictions on insurance coverage of abortion. Thank you for all the work you do for women's rights.

Please share this action alert with friends and family.

http://www.now.org/congress/issues/alert/?alertid=14342106 and then https://www.now.org/contribution.php?code=TAAXNWCDX&srce=emaa111309btbtn

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i'm going to repeat, if you gave me money to bet with and told me i could bet on any group to stand tall against the dems caving on reproductive rights, i would bet on now.


don't make me laugh.

those chicky-baby-boom-booms made fools of themselves, made asses of themselves.

naral needs to give it up.

and i always laugh when i watch the video that c.i. and the gang shot on their cell phones in d.c. i forget if it was the alito confirmation or the roberts 1 but there's naral's original idiot katie mich. and she's sobbing and crying and making a spectacle of herself.

that always makes me laugh and it always underscores how pathetic naral is.

they'd rather cry in the halls of congress than fight the democratic party.

they'd rather play the victim than show any self-respect.

that's the reality.

i'm not saying i'll win by betting on now, but i'm saying that's the best shot i have. they will not cave and cower. the new leader means business and i'd advise you to watch and see how they fight. again, we may not win. but now's ready to fight, they're not going to roll over and smile pretty while women are stabbed in the back and used for political gain.

thank you to c.i. who insisted upon watching my daughter tonight so we could go out with every 1 that was going to the concert (matthew sweet and susanna hoffs).

let's close with c.i.'s 'Iraq snapshot:'

Friday, November 13, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, a war cheerleader need to profit from the war gets even messier, McClatchy becomes the first US outlet to speak out in support of the Guardian and press freedom, more lawsuits are filed against KBR and more.

This afternoon, Jenan Hussein and Warren P. Strobel (McClatchy Newspapers) report a satire by Warid Badr Salim in al Mada has led over 150 members of Parliament sign on to suing the newspaper. The reporters note, "The chilling atmosphere for the news media was underscored this week when an Iraqi court fined the London-based Guardian newspaper nearly $87,000, finding that it had defamed Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki. An article in the paper in April quoted unnamed Iraqi intelligence officials describing what they said was Maliki's increasingly authoritarian rule. [. . .] Free expression is one of the few benefits that Iraqi count from the March 2003 U.S.-led invasion. Basic services such as electricity and sewage are still in disrepair, and sectarian violence, while much reduced, is still a daily occurence. The backlash against journalists and curbs on book, cartoons and plays, often for religious reasons, raise questions about what kind of society the United States will leave behind when American troops withdraw from Iraq at the end of 2011." The article in question is Ghaith Abdul-Ahad's "Six years after Saddam Hussein, Nouri al-Maliki tightens his grip on Iraq" (April 30, 2009). Tuesday the court or 'court' rendered their or 'their' verdict.
As Elaine observed Wednesday, "The above topic should have been the front page of every daily paper this morning. Instead everyone turned their heads, averted their eyes and, in doing so, endorsed the assault on the press. If Nouri al-Maliki saw that the entire world would jeer him over these nonsense law suits, you better believe he'd think twice about doing it again. As it is, he's been allowed to attack the press. Let me add: Yet again." And let me add, because I've been waiting to see if this would be the case, that's All Things Media Big and Small. ALL. Get the picture? Thursday the Guardian editorialized, "But the case against the Guardian in Iraq is notable alarming. Despite repeated hearings over several months, the paper was not asked to present written evidence or provide statements from the editor or the reporter invovled. Compensation was apparently awarded for damage to the Iraqi prime minister, even though he was not a party to the legal action. The Iraqi people were promised freedom after the fall of Saddam. They deserve a free press and fair courts, robust enough to stand up to government."

Exactly. And yet where has the media been on this story?
I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together.
See how they run like pigs from a gun, see how they fly.
I'm crying.
-- "I Am The Walrus" (recorded by the Beatles, written by John Lennon, credited to Lennon & McCartney)
Thursday we noted that the Guardian is out there pretty much all alone. No outlet has stepped forward to stand with them. That's disgraceful. And when Nouri's other cases (both pending ones and ones yet to be filed) against news outlets come forward, some of these same outlets are going to want others to stand up for them and stand with them. Why should anyone bother? When none of them can stand up for the press right now, why should anyone later stand up for the cowards?
Thursday night, it turned out I might have been a bit harsh. That's when Bill Keller, executive editor of the New York Times, took a brave stand and stated:
This rulling has to send a shiver up the spin of anyone who hopes for a genuinely democratic Iraq. What the court calls libel is, in most countries, called journalism. Indeed, if a respected journalist like Ghaith Abdul-Ahad can be punished for reporting on concerns about a trend toward authoritarian government, the verdict would seem to lend credence to those very concerns.
What a brave editorial statement from Bill Keller and thank goodness he was not afraid to put that in print in his paper because . . .
Oh, wait.
That didn't appear in the New York Times.
Bill Keller was quoted in Julian Borger's article for the Guardian that posted Thursday ngiht and appeared in Friday's paper. You know what, Bill, I think Guardian readers have some idea about the case. It's readers of the New York Times that might be helped by hearing your comments. But the New York Times has been so very busy on so many other things. Certainly, they're some panty sniffing they're prepared to splash on the front page any day now and pass it off as journalism, right?
There's not a damn thing wrong with Bill Keller's statements. And I'll applaud them . . . when they appear in the New York Times. Instead, it's as though Nouri attacked Guardian at school and Billy stood by and didn't nothing but later that day Billy ran over to Guardian's house and said, "Oh man, that was so wrong. I'm so mad. Man, I could just kick Nouri's ass." Brave statements become less brave when they're not made where it matters.
What the press tried to ignore, groups we spoke to about Iraq after the Tuesday verdict got. They got it instantly. They got that it was about press freedom. They got that it was about Iraq. They understood that a messages were being sent globally. They grasped that one message was that Nouri could get away with what ever he wanted and that he would be emboldened as a result. They also grasped that a message was sent to the Iraqi people to let them know that they were once again on their own and that the world press would look the other way as they did so often under Saddam. Those pulling a blank on what I'm referring to can jog their memories by reading Eason's now infamous NYT column where he whined for forgiveness for CNN's efforts at covering for Saddam in order to have continued access to Iraq.

This is not a minor issue but outside of the Committee to Protect Journalists, Chris Floyd and one or two others, find anyone commenting on it outside of the Guardian. Imagine what it must be like to be the average Iraqi right now. Following the start of the illegal war, you might have had some internet access and some access to satellite TV and you could see the press get lively (too lively for Paul Bremer who launched an attack on Falluja largely because he didn't like a cartoon -- no, it wasn't of his butt, the newspaper wasn't a broadsheet). And now you've seen the US install exile puppet Nouri al-Maliki. And you've seen him crack down on the internet and satellite channels. You've seen him run Al Jazeera out of the country. Now you're seeing him go after a Western outlet (the Guardian) and trash the work of Iraqi journalist Ghaith Abdul-Ahad. And you look around to see that world press you hear so much of. That brave, strong, independent, call out the tyranny where ever it is press. And you see silence. From the East to the West, you see silence.
And slowly it sinks in that today's thug is going to get away with the same things the previous one did because your life isn't very important on the world stage. And let's get real damn honest, that's why Iraqis suffered in silence all those years. They suffered in silence because they were less important -- to the world press -- than their leader. They suffered because the press wanted to curry favor with Saddam. And now the same world press is sending the message -- with few exceptions (count McClatchy now as one exception) -- that they will cover for Nouri because freedoms and the people of Iraq are unimportant.

That is the message being sent and you better believe that is the message being received.
Amy Goodman couldn't give us that today or yesterday or the day before. In fact, Goody missed Iraq a lot this week but Ava and I will tackle that at Third on Sunday. Mad Maddy Rothschild likes to pretend he gives a damn about the free press (in 2008, he liked to pretend he was a Democrat, this year he finally outed himself publicly as a Socialist so maybe in 2010 he'll reveal that he really doesn't give a damn about the press?). But for all of his bluster, Mad Maddy didn't have time to defend the Guardian. And then there's The Nation. Did John Nichols losing his daily paper mean that he lost interest in the press? Apparently because he's tossing more sop out about Sarah Palin. But then John Nichols HATES women. Is there any woman he hasn't attacked this decade? This is the man, please remember, who attacked Barbra Streisand, BARBRA STREISAND, for the Iraq War. That was Barbra's fault. Now not in the mind of any sane person, but as you read his attack on Barbra, you knew you weren't dealing with a sane person. (The basic 'logic' of his argument was that Barbra donated her money -- HER money -- as she saw fit to Democratic politicians and not as John Nichols felt she should donate HER money. Therefore, Barbra was responsible for the Iraq War.) At some point, Panhandle Media's going to have to have to start offering group therapy for all these misogynists but in the meantime, we all suffer because they can't address what really matters. Another swipe at Palin or advocating a free press? Nichols goes with another slam at Palin.
The topic wasn't discussed on the second hour of NPR's The Diane Rehm Show today, but guest host Susan Page and panelists Karen DeYoung (Washington Post), Roy Gutman (McClatchy Newspapers) and David E. Sanger (New York Times) did discuss other Iraq issues.
Susan Page: Roy Gutman, I know that you were reporting from Iraq last month. This week we hear that Iraq's Parliament finally has approved a law for its election in January. There had been a kind of stalemate before that.
Roy Gutman: Well there had been and it was a very damaging stalemate. If they hadn't approved the law by this point then you begin to have to predict the country going downhill rather quickly. Uhm, had they approved it a month ago, you could have said Iraq is almost heading towards a normalcy despite all of the violence. This kind of muddled middle that took a long time to decide actually is nevertheless huge progress. This election, uh, is in a way is going to create a new Parliament. There will be what they call open lists -- every parliamentarian or every person running for a seat uh will be named before the elections so it's possible for people to find out who they are and rather they have dual citizenship. You know I heard while I was there that as many as 70% of the Iraqi -- of the current Iraqi Parliament has dual citizenship. Many of them Iranian-Iraqi dual citizenship. So that-that part will end and it looks like -- they have an independent election commission, they run elections that I think, in comparison with Afghanistan, certainly in comparison with Iran, are going to look good, very clean. It's possible that this election could make a real big difference.
Susan Page: Karen, this week we found out that top executives at Blackwater, the private military company, okayed bribes for Iraqi officials. Why were they going to bribe them?
Karen DeYoung: This was in connection to the late 2007 attacks in Baghdad for which I believe five Blackwater employees who were working for the State Department have been charged. 17 Iraqis were killed. At a time when it was not clear which way the Iraq government was going to go in terms of prosecuting them, preventing them from leaving the country. This was reportedly Blackwater's attempt to influence those decisions and also the decision whether Blackwater whose-whose income is derived from -- has been derived from -- huge contracts in Iraq would be continued to allow -- be allowed to work there.
Susan Page: Alright. Yes, Roy?
Roy Gutman: One of the -- one of the most incredible things about the American war in Iraq is that we relied on outside contractors to the extent that we did. I heard the figure while I was there of -- from American military -- that there was as many as 170,000 contractors, maybe even more than that, to 140,000 troops. I think that -- obviously it drove up the cost -- but it was the idea of outsourcing the war obviously to people like Blackwater to do all the functions that would normally be carried out by the military. It's a hell of a way to run a war. It's -- maybe it's the modern way of war but I think that the Bush administration in a way into thinking that it was only 140,000, only 160,000, in fact the numbers were far, far higher.
Karen DeYoung: I-I think that's true and the bulk of the contractors certainly work for the Defense Department. [Clears throat.] Excuse me. The bulk of the controversy has been over-over personal security contractors working for the State Department and that's what -- that's what Blackwater was doing. This is a problem as policy becomes a sort of civil-military hybrid where we're trying to do reconstruction in a war zone, we're trying to boost the civilian components of our efforts in places like-like Iraq and in Afghanistan. And now the question is always: Who is going to protect these people? Is this the proper role for the military, is this something that we want soldiers to do? The State Department doesn't want soldiers to do it and so you're going to have this problem increasingly going on.
Susan Page: Do private military contractors continue to play as big a role during the Obama administration as they did during the Bush administration, David?
David E. Sanger: Well certainly as the war has moved to Afghanistan and as our attention is focused to Afghanistan -- we still have more troops in Iraq today than we have in Afghanistan -- something you could lose sight of --

Karen DeYoung: Twice as many.
David E. Sanger: -- picking up -- picking up the newspaper. Yeah. That may not be true six months from now but it certainly is true now. Uh, I don't believe that there are as many contractors at work in the Afghan theater. But it's a very different kind of situation. The exception to this, again, is the personal security forces including around the embassies.
Roy Gutman: But you know when you enter the American Embassy in Baghdad, you get first questioned by Peruvians who are contractors. I-I think the traditional role of the marines as being the guard for embassies is actually a good one. And I think the idea of contracting that out, however necessary it was during the war because there simply weren't enough troops of any force to do it -- is a real question. I don't see -- and the State Department didn't master having these private contractors. They-they lost control of them again and again and again. There not able to manage them, frankly. And, uh, the whole embassy. You go to this embassy, it's an immense thing really. It was built kind of for a pro-counsel's role. And you have to ask: 'Why did we do this in the middle of the war?'
Susan Page: Roy, Roy, I don't understand. So this security at the US Embassy in Baghdad is Peruvian?
Roy Gutman: The first line.
Karen DeYoung: The outer parameter.
Roy Gutman: The outer parameter.
Susan Page: And who's employing the Peruvians to provide the security?
Roy Gutman: Uh, I don't know. Maybe it's Triple Canopy. I forget the name of the contractor.
Susan Page: But it's a contractor working for the US government?
Roy Gutman: Oh yeah.

Susan Page: Huh. Alright. That surprises me.
Roy Gutman: In fact, going into -- into what is now the International Zone, the former Green Zone, you get queried by Ugandans, Uruguayans, Peruvians are there. It's-it's like a small United Nations. Most of them being ill paid. And go to any of the bases, the American bases, the first lines and the second lines of-of checkpoints are all run by non-Americans.
Afghanistan is not our focus ("Iraq snapshot") but since it was mentioned above, we'll note that the Democratic Policy Committee (Democratic members of the Senate and Senator Byron Dorgan chairs the committee) has released a new report on Afghanistan "Our Best Chance for Success in Afghanistan: Getting the Strategy Right First."
Meanwhile James Bone (Times of London) reports on the problems for an adivsor to the KRG: "A prominent former United Nations official was forced to defend himself yesterday against accusations that he used his influence in Iraq to enrich himself. Peter Galbraith, 58, a former US ambassador who recently quit as deputy head of the UN mission in Kabul, struck a potentially lucrative oil deal in Iraqi Kurdistan which could reportedly earn him $100 million (£60 million). He helped the Kurds to negotiate provisions in the 2005 Iraqi Constitution that gave them control over new oil finds on their territory." Peter Galbraith is denying any wrong doing. He repeated his denials in Melissa Block's interview which aired on yesterday's All Things Considered:
Melissa Block: Ambassador Galbraith, you've been on our program many times before, you've published many op-eds, you've written books. Why not disclose your business ties before this? Put this out in the open if it is so-so benign as you say.

Peter Galbraith: It's obviously quite common for people to be in government, to be in private business. And it is the nature of private business that the precise arrangements are often confidential. And, indeed, some of my arrangements were subject to confidentiality agreements. But I did disclose that I was in business and that I had corporate clients in Iraq. So I think that people did know that I had these interests.
Melissa Block: Ambassador Galbraith, do you see how this business connection, your connection with the oil company, would fuel the anger that US interests in Iraq are purely about oil and about profit?

Peter Galbraith: I -- uh, well I can understand that there will be politicians that will want to use that as part of their debate with the Kurds but, uh, frankly, I was a private citizen at the time, I had no role in the US -- with the US government. The US government did not, in any way, facilitate any of my visits to Iraq. Uh, so, I was like many other former government officials who have become private citizens and who, uh, in -- generally the practice do not disclose what clients they may have in their business activities.
While he was happy to share his notions of discosure to Melissa Block yesterday, others attempted to address his lack of disclosure. Noting that he's written columns on the Kurdistan issues for the New York Times since 2004 (when his relationship with DNO began), an "Editor's Note" in today's paper (published online yesterday) concludes:

Like other writers for the Op-Ed page, Mr. Galbraith signed a contract that obligated him to disclose his financial interests in the subjects of his articles. Had editors been aware of Mr. Galbraith's financial stake, the Op-Ed page would have insisted on disclosure or not published his articles.
The New York Times is stating Peter Galbraith didn't disclose to them and that, had they known about the deal, they would have either not published his columns on Iraq or required that he disclose those interests -- those financial interests. Please note that Melissa Block conducted a lengthy interview with him (over four minutes) and those are only excerpts above. Peter Galbraith continues to maintain he has done nothing illegal, wrong or unethical. Chris Floyd (Empire Burlesque) weighs in:
The New York Times is shocked -- shocked! -- to find personal enrichment of American elites at the heart of the rape and gutting of Iraq. Who could possibly have ever foreseen such a scenario as the Times revealed on Thursday, describing how "influential American adviser" Peter Galbraith helped "ram through" highly controversial provisions in the constitution that the occupying force and its collaborators imposed -- provisions that could put more than $100 million in Galbraith's pocket.

Of course, Galbraith's war-profiteering machinations are hardly unique; the roll call of "advisers" and officials and other insiders feasting on Iraqi corpseflesh is longer than the Mississippi, and considerably more muddy. Just this week,
the Financial Times noted that another gaggle of occupation geese, "including Zalmay Khalilzad, former US ambassador to Baghdad, and Jay Garner," the first appointed satrap of the conquered land, are now cashing in on their blood-soaked connections in Iraq.

Chris Garofolo (Brattleboro Reformer) notes that Galbraith was speaking at an event at the Brattleboro Centre Congregational Church last night when the issue was raised and he said of the New York Times article (by James Glanz and Walter Gibbs ), "I actually find the article quite, well, it is full of innuendo. If you read the facts [with the implications and innuendo], I find [it] offensive. [. . .] The article argues, or suggests, that somehow I had a conflict, hmm, it doesn't say it, but there's innuendo there. That there's a conflict of interest because I advised the Kurds on the constitution at the same time I had business interests, including a contract with a Norewegian oil company DNO, in which I assisted them to make investments in the oil industry." Garofolo also notes that Peter Gailbraith supported the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
From greed to the violence it led to . . .
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad sticky bombing (no one wounded or killed apparently)
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 1 13-year-old Iraqi Christian male shot dead in Mosul. AFP notes the shooting but says the male was 16-years-old and was Rami Katchik who "had been hosing down the entrance to his family home when the shooting occurred." Iran's Press TV drops back to yesterday to note "a man working for a weaving factory in Mosul" shot dead yesterday."
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 1 corpse (20-year-old man) discovered in Mosul.
Turning to the United States, Jake Armstrong (Pasadena Weekly) notes "lawsuits in 32 states have been filed against Halliburton, KBR and other military contractors over so-called 'burn pits' the companies allegedly used in Iraq to burn everything from human body parts to tires, the Associated Press reported Tuesday." Ed Treleven (Wisconsin State Journal) reports Iraq War veteran Michael Foth and Afghanistan War veteran Brett Mazzara have filed against KBR: "The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Madison, brings to 34 the number of similar lawsuits pending across the United States, said Susan Burke, a Washington, D.C., lawyer representing the soldiers, including Mazzara and Foth. A first wave of lawsuits filed earlier this year have been merged for pretrial proceedings in Greenbelt, MD., she said." Lisa Guerriero (MetroWest Daily News) reports on Iraq War veteran Jeffery Cox (we've noted his lawsuit against KBR already this week). O fthe KBR burn pit he was exposed to, Cox notes, "This is not your little leaf fire. This is 10 acres or greater." On the health issues relating from exposure to the burn pits, Cox observes, "It's widespread. A lot of people have some type pulmonary issue. It's the Agent Orange of the Iraq war." Meanwhile the Houston Chronicle offers the editorial "Invisible wounds: Returning soldiers with mental health problems are ill-served by their country" which includes this: "It's also ironic that the same legislators who sign off on billions to wage wars -- conservatively estimated at almost $700 billion to date for Iraq and Afghanistan -- are often loath to invest even modest sums for the care of the soldiers wounded in those wars."
Meanwhile, KBR and others can profit off the war but telling the truth? Apparently not allowed in the United States. Valerie Plame is a former CIA agent. Former not by choice. She was outed by the Bully Boy Bush administration in an attempt to get back at and attack her husband, former diplomat Joe Wilson. The CIA sent Wilson on a fact-finding mission to Niger ahead of the Iraq War to determine whether or not Saddam Hussein was seeking or had sought yellow cake uranium (which would allow him to make deadly, nuclear bombs). Wilson's investigation determined no attempt had been made. Despite that, the administration (including Bully Boy Bush) began publicly making statements to the contrary. Wilson originally corrected the issue with some members of the press. When he came out publicly in the New York Times with "What I Didn't Find In Africa" (July 6, 2003), the administration began working to attack him and using adminstration friends in the press. These friends would include Matt Cooper who keeps trying to crawl out from under his rock despite the fact that he's never, NEVER, gotten honest about his part in this or his covering for so many in the administration and for Karl Rove. Robert Novak (now dead) was the one who finally outed her. (As John R. MacArthur has noted, there's nothing wrong with outing CIA agents -- with the press doing it. It is, however, a different story for the government to out you. Valerie Plame worked for the United States government as an undercover agent and her cover was blown by the Executive Branch of the federal government. That is wrong, that is a problem.) David Kravets (Wired) reports that here efforts to go public with details (non national security details) such as the time of her employment are being withheld (despite them already being part of the Congressional record) and other petty measures are taking place. Why? A judge decided but never forget that a judge decided (wrongly, my opinion) only due to the fact that the Barack Obama administration decided to fight Plame on this. Yes, Barack is yet again proving to be Bush III. So two administrations have now disgraced themselves in the manner in which they've treated Valerie Plame.
TV notes. NOW on PBS begins broadcasting on many PBS stations tonight (check local listings) and this week's show

What exactly is going on with the economy? Stocks are up and big bonuses are back, but while they're throwing parties on Wall Street, there's pain on Main Street. One out of every six workers is unemployed or underemployed, according to government statistics - the highest figure since the Great Depression.
This week NOW gets answers and insight from Harvard professor Elizabeth Warren, who's been heading up the congressional panel overseeing how the bailout money is being spent. NOW Senior Correspondent Maria Hinojosa talks with Warren about how we got to this point, and where we go from here.
What will it take to put both bankers and American businesses on the same road to recovery?

Washington Week also begins airing tonight (and throughout the weekend) on many PBS stations. Joining Gwen around the table this week are Peter Baker (New York Times), Naftali Bendavid (Wall St. Journal), John Dickerson (CBS News and Slate) and Ton Gjelten (NPR). Meanwhile Bonnie Erbe will sit down with Bernadine Healy, Melinda Henneberger, Star Parker and Patricia Sosa to discuss the week's events on PBS' To The Contrary. Check local listings, on many stations, it begins airing tonight. And turning to broadcast TV, Sunday CBS' 60 Minutes offers:

The Deadliest Weapon
Byron Pitts and 60 Minutes cameras spend two days on the road with a bomb-hunting unit in Afghanistan as they encounter one deadly bomb after another. | Watch Video

B. Rex
Lesley Stahl meets the inspiration for the lead character in the classic film "Jurassic Park" and reports on how famed dinosaur hunter Jack Horner is shaking up the paleontology world. | Watch Video

Resurrecting Eden In Southern Iraq, where many biblical scholars place the Garden of Eden, Scott Pelley finds a water world where the "Marsh Arabs" are making a comeback after Saddam nearly destroyed the "cradle of civilization." | Watch Video

60 Minutes, Sunday, Nov. 15, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

60 minutes
cbs news
to the contrary
bonnie erbe
washington week


some stand strong, some don't

Anti-Choice Law a Non-Starter for Schakowsky PDF Print
WASHINGTON, DC (November 10, 2009) – Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-IL, released the following statement committing herself to vote against health care reform that erodes a woman’s right to choose. As a co-chair of the Congressional Women’s Caucus and member of the Pro-Choice Caucus, Rep. Schakowsky has fought to expand women’s rights and improve health care for all women. Rep. Schakowsky has added her name to letters that are being sent to the President and the Speaker, plainly establishing her position.

“In the critical fight to reform our health care system and expand access, we cannot marginalize women by forcing them to pay more for their care or limiting their access to a legal medical procedure. If left as is the health care reform bill would be the largest repeal of anti-choice laws in nearly four decades. It is not a continuation of current law as the proponents claim. The pro-choice caucus worked night and day to find an acceptable compromise that all parties could support including prohibiting one penny of federal dollars for abortions. I will continue to work with the Senate and the Conference Committee to make the bill acceptable, but cannot and will not support health care reform that blatantly discriminates against women.”

the above is from u.s. house rep. jan scharkowsky's office. now is alerting people to protests taking place:

Last weekend feminist activists watched in distress as, one by one, 240 members of Congress, many of whom were Democrats, voted to pass the Stupak Amendment, which severely interferes with a woman's right to choose. If the Stupak Amendment is included in the final version of the health care reform bill, it will: prevent women receiving tax subsidies from using their own money to purchase private insurance that covers abortion; prevent women participating in the public health insurance exchange from using 100 percent of their own money to purchase private insurance that covers abortion; and make it next to impossible for low-income women to obtain an abortion.

The Democratic leadership might have decided to compromise women's rights in order to push through the health care bill, but women whose lives are directly affected by Stupak's draconian measures will not stay silent.

Signs at the November 9th protest against the Stupak Amendement

Just this Monday, activists from NOW and the Feminist Majority gathered to express their discontent by staging a rally in front of the Russell Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C. I was there and am happy to report that the rally was a smashing success. There were about 30 of us altogether -- an impressive number considering we only had 24 hours to organize the event. We proudly marched around the block, letting our voices be heard, so that our representatives would know how ardently we disapprove of their actions. All of the activists present had great energy, and everyone around us was definitely paying attention.

Activist: My Body. My Money. My Choice.

As we walked, other women stopped to cheer us on and state their displeasure with the Stupak Amendment. Quite a few of them asked for our NOW stickers, so we gladly passed them out.

Our rally also attracted a couple of anti-choice protestors. One of them followed us around, shouting at us from a megaphone. His intent was clear: he was trying to intimidate us, to make us go away. However, his megaphone proved to be no match for the combined power of our voices, and we easily drowned him out.

NOW encourages you to join us and other activists Monday, Nov. 16 and 23, from 12:00 noon to 1:00 pm in front of the Russell Senate Office Building. This is a great opportunity to network with your fellow women's rights activists and get some fresh air while you're at it.

Women are 51 percent of the population, yet we are continuously subjected to discriminatory laws. It is time we let our politicians know that their disregard for reproductive health care is unacceptable and that we will not idly stand by and watch as our rights are being taken away.

as i said earlier this week, if you're going to bet on any organization to stand up and see this through, bet on now.

at women's media center, gloria feldt writes:

Headlines blaring, “Abortion an Obstacle to Health-Care Bill,” got it backward. And the biggest obstacle was President Obama’s approach, which meshed all too well with Speaker Pelosi’s: they are both so averse to feather-ruffling that one wonders why they entered the rough and tumble of politics in the first place. No amount of Rahm Emmanuel’s mean-guy interference could have kept this chicken’s eggs from breaking, let alone its feathers in place.

Smart as he is, why didn’t Obama know that when you start from a position of compromise, you'll end up with a fragment of what you wanted, if that? The public option is too weak to exercise serious cost-cutting control. And now women have been sacrificed, like so much detritus, even though we are 51 percent of the population and (in case they haven't noticed) 60 percent of Democratic voters. In response, I’m seeing the most intense wave of anger building among women voters of all ages since the Senate’s 1991 trashing of Anita Hill culminated in the 1992 “Year of the Woman”.

I am not convinced by after-the-fact reassurances that the final bill will reflect the already unjust status quo via the Capps amendment “compromise” that codifies existing restrictions. That’s because the table for expanding prohibitions on abortion was set by the Democrats themselves.

smart as he is?

based on what?

based on his grades?

we don't know his grades.

based on his being the 1st bi-racial president of the harvard law review?

uh, we all now know he was installed in that position because an african-american with real opinions and ideas scared the committee. to prevent that man from getting the presidency, the law review backed barack.

i don't know why we need to offer this garbage that barry o's smart.

a man who supports stripping women of their basic rights?

doesn't sound real smart to me, gloria feldt.

But let’s not stop there. President Obama said during the elections that the Freedom of Choice Act, which would guarantee women's civil right to make our own childbearing decisions and give us at last the right to our own lives, would be among his top priorities. He subsequently took it off the priority list, but we must hold him to his promise by the fire of our political engagement.

gloria feldt, you're a strong woman. next time you tackle the issue, how about you be sure and distribute the same amount of blame and the same amount of rage to barry and nancy? i honestly believe barry's more responsible. he's consistently sent the message that women don't matter.

gloria, that's what the basketball games and the golfing matches have been all about - hence, the exclusion of women.

so before you next step up to defend us, how about you grasp that letting barry o hide behind nancy pelosi's skirts doesn't strike me as feminist at all?

how about you grasp that barry o has more pull with blue dogs than does nancy?

i don't care for nancy pelosi. i never have.

check my archives.

but i find it very distressing that she's the 1 being blasted and barry o gets a paragraph calling him out.

it was his 'plan'. hold him accountable.

let's close with c.i.'s 'Iraq snapshot:'

Thursday, November 12, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, calls for investigations into Blackwater's reported efforts at bribery take place in Baghdad and DC, the PKK doesn't feel a new level of understanding has been reached, oil and money drive the news cycle, and more.
Each Sunday, Cindy Sheehan does her weekly radio show Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox. This week's guests were Debbie DeNello and Adam Kokesh. We'll note the following section of the broadcast.
Adam Kokesh: I think for the soldiers on the ground who see what Obama is doing, you know, they see troops are being taken out only to be replaced with a greater number of contractors and then for those troops to be put into a surge in Afghanistan and nothing to really change about the kind of abuse? You know, I think that's still a huge, major factor: lack of confidence in the mission. I mean, nobody really believes, no matter what Obama says, that these are wars of necessity --
Adam Kokesh: -- or that Afghanistan is the good war. In fact, Obama actually by coming out and saying that Afghanistan is not a war of choice, implying that Iraq is, you know what does that say to the over 100,000 troops that we had in Iraq at that time? 'Hey, you guys don't really have to be there but you're going to keep going out and being shot at and getting killed anyways'? And then to the contractors? I mean the same factor goes with them but at least they're doing it as private citizens with a little more free will -- the impact is not as much. For a soldier who's being told "You're going to go back to this war zone that doesn't have to exist." You can imagine the effect on that. Especially for the
fifth, sixth seventh deployment.

Cindy Sheehan: Well, Adam, you know that I have been, since my son [Casey Sheehan] was killed, actively just calling for troops out now. But when Obama, of course, says that Afghanistan is a war of necessity, he called Iraq "a dumb war" and, like you said, people are still dying in this "dumb war" --
Cindy Sheehan: -- that he has proclaimed "dumb." Well you know, all wars are dumb. Let's tie this, what happened to you in Iraq, what you know, you have the exper -- experiential opinions on this. But tie it in with your Congressional campaign. What is your platform? What will you do in Congress?
Adam Kokesh: Well I'm a Constitutionalist. I'm a non-interventionalist. I'm still a proud member of Iraq Veterans Against the War and I support the mission of Iraq Veterans Against the War. I'm also a proud member of Veterans for Peace and I think that the mission of the organization Veterans for Peace is even more applicable now when we see the kind of hypocrisy of the Democrats. It's almost worse than what we had when the neocons were in charge. The neocons were easy to hate, they were brazen and upfront about it and had this swaggering machismo whereas what we see under Obama now is this really disgusting deceitfulness that has some people with really intense mixed feelings. But one of the things that we're counting on here is that by November 2010 when my election is held and I'm going to be running against -- well I am running against an incumbent Democrat who has said that he is calling for an immediate withdrawal from Afghanistan, an immediate request for an exit strategy and yet votes to -- votes for all the funding for Iraq and Afghanistan and all of that and has toed the Democratic Party line and I think people are really going to be fed up with that. And, you know, it's definitely not the Republican Party that has all the answers but there are people within the Republican Party like myself that are trying to make it the party of Big Tent smaller government again and ensure that that includes a very strong committment to this policy of non-interventionism. Not isolationism, but non-interventionism which means free trade and commerce and friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none. And unfortunately in the world we live in, having a strong national defense is appropriate at this time. But there's a reason it's in the Constitution that Congress has the power to declare war and when they declare war they're supposed to do it with a specific enemy and a declaration and there's an objective. And then they give the military the mission and then they get out of the way. And this is the way it's supposed to be when it's legitimate self-defense. You go to war, you win, you come home. And when we have these open-ended committments, when we have these world policing opportunities where they are run by Congress, they are run by a political machine, and not by a military with a specific objective, you get this kind of open-ended nation building process that puts so much money into the military industrical complex, concentrates so much more power in the hands of the federal government -- into the executive especially. And that hasn't changed under Obama. You know, we want to see a return to the Constitution because of those principles behind it and make sure we don't engage in these wars because when you engage in war when there's not a declaration you know that the premise is faulty, you know that it is not honorable, you know that it is not righteous in the case of self-defense. And we know that neither Iraq or Afghanistan, in terms of what we're doing there today, qualify for any sort of just war theory. And getting back to that and making sure that that message has -- has an oppotunity to be heard in the 2010 elections is a really important part of this campaign for me. It's not easy, you know? It's really not easy. Talking to the progressive base is a lot easier than talking to the conservative base but it's a really important challenge to make sure that they live up to those values and understand why the Constitution was written the way it was.
Cindy Sheehan: Well, Adam, sometimes I think talking to progressives is harder because of what you said. They want to put all their hope eggs into the basket of Obama and the Democrats and clearly, clearly, they're not the peace party. The Democrats and Republicans, institutional parties, are all the same. They're the War Party and we have to put a big chunk of what's happening now on the shoulders of a Congress in 2001 that gave George -- that abrogated their Constitutional duty and gave George Bush the authority to do what is happening right now.

Adam Kokesh: Well the grass -- well the thing that I've learned is the grassroots of both the Republican and the Democratic parties are totally different from the national leadership --
Cindy Sheehan: Absolutely.
Adam Kokesh: -- and it just so happens that when the Democratic Party's in charge, they're better able to sway their base into being pro-war and supporting big government and supporting interventionism, supporting theft and violence as we see our-our, you know, just so essential to what our federal government is doing these days. But really the base of the Republican Party -- and even here in New Mexico there's a distinct difference between the leadership of the Republican Party and the base -- the grassroots activists and the rank and file members. They're totally receptive to this message. They understand that it's not economically feasible to send so much manpower and material into this nation-building -- these nation-building exercises and not have it hurt people here at home. And when they're forced to consider it like that, you know they realize that what we're doing there isn't worth it. And being able to get them to take that step at this point, it's really satisfying to bring this message to people who haven't heard it because when the Republican Party was in charge for the last eight years, they were getting that propaganda. Now that the War Propaganda is coming from the Democratic machine, they're much more ready to question it --
Adam Kokesh: -- and start speaking out against it.
Cindy Sheehan: Well, Adam, unfortunately we're running out of time. Tell my listeners how they can get ahold of you.
Adam Kokesh: Oh great! This is my opportunity for the shameless plug! Thank you so much.
Cindy Sheehan: Yep, yep.
Adam Kokesh: Kokesh for Congress is the website, K-O-K-E-S-H F-O-R Congress.com, check us out there. You can e-mail me at adam@kokeshforcongress.com. You can follow me on Twitter at Adam Kokesh. And our phone number here at campaign headquarters is (505) 470-1917.
Cindy Sheehan: And I encourage my listeners to -- I know they all know about your anti-war work but I encourage them to go to your website and don't have a knee-jerk reaction just because you have a "R" after your name, right?
Adam Kokesh: Exactly. Well you know there's a lot of issues that cross party lines and it's been great to know that there are people like you who are also seeing that the Federal Reserve is such an integral issue economically which makes all these wars possible and all the other crimes of our government --
Adam Kokesh: -- and our corporations happen because of the Federal Reserve.
Staying with those who make war Big Business, yesterday's snapshot, Mark Mazzetti and James Risen (New York Times) interviewed four former Blackwater execs who stated that, in December 2007, approximately one-million dollars was used to bribe officials in Iraq in order to get them to look the other way in the face of Blackwater's continued assaults. Iraq's Minister of the Interior Jawad al-Bolani spoke to CNN (link has video as well as text) and stated that his ministry had launched an investigation into the assertion that Iraqi officials took bribes.
Jawad al-Bolani (via translator): Blackwater has no new positions to operate in Iraq. Blackwater has a problem and a lawsuit. Some of its employees committed a crime against innocent Iraqi civilians in Nussor Square and this case is an ongoing trial in American courts. Blackwater is a company that caused a major national tragedy. The Nussor incidient was a very difficult one and no Iraqi can ever forget it. But the Iraqi government was committed and acted responsibly for the sake of the Iraqi people and the reputation of Iraq.
James Risen (apparently due to the Times' fear of a Nouri-related lawsuit) rushes to print this morning to proclaim, "The Times article reported that former Blackwater executives who learned of the plans said they did not know whether the money was, in fact, delivered to Iraqi officials." Daniel Barlow (Times Argus) reports US House Rep Peter Welch formally called yesterday for an investigation into the allegations of bribery on Blackwater's part writing the Chair of the House Oversight Committee, "Early reports indicate that Blackwater may have violated the Foreign Corrupts Practices Act and potentially interfered with a grand jury inquiry by issuing these bribes. The United States government simply cannot turn a blind eye to such actions." Oliver August (Times of London) quotes a "relative of a Blackwater shooting victim," Aquil Akram stating, "Everything about them is bad. The victims's families were paid at most a few thousand dollars in compensation but the company is giving a million dollars to some government officials."

Meanwhile Iran's Press TV reports that Iraq's Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari has passed on 'details' to the UN Secretary-General's assistant Oscar Fernandez-Taranco on the August 19th and October 25th bombings: "We provided him with all the information which was not published in the media. We have not accused any country, but evidence asserts that former Baathists and al-Qaeda were involved in the attacks." Which would mean that they infilatrated the Iraqi police and the Iraqi military and, to steal from Annie Hall, "the FBI, and the CIA, and J. Edgar Hoover and oil companies and the Pentagon and the men's room attendant at the White House." The trucks loaded with bombs went through multiple checkpoints.
In other news, Reuters reports a prison break in Basra with three escaping last night. The violence continues in Iraq with Marwan Ibrahim (Telegraph of London) reporting kidnapping of children is increasing in Kirkuk and goes over some of the known kidnappings including that of Sheikh Othman Abdel Karim Agha's son Moahmmed who says, "They chained me and beat me, and I was in the dark because they blindfoled me. I am still in shock from the constant fear of death."

Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing which wounded three people and a Mosul grenade attack which left two police officers injured. Reuters reports a Baghdad car bombing injuring four people.
Zhang Xiang (Xinhua) reports 2 Sahwa members were shot dead today in Jurf al-Sakhr. Sahwa are also known as "Awakenings" and "Sons Of Iraq" (there is also a "Daughters Of Iraq"). Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) explains it was Sahwa commander Othman Mohammed was shot dead in Diyala Province as was an aid accompanying him and reports 1 "headmistress of al Ma'ali School for girls" was shot dead in Baghdad and 2 people shot dead in two different osul shootings. Reuters reports a Balad shooting yesterday which claimed the life of 1 police officer (three more injured) and a Kirkuk shooting yesterday which injured a police officer.
Sahwa are also known as "Awakenings" and "Sons Of Iraq" (there is also a "Daughters Of Iraq"). The US government paid them to stop attacking the US military and its equipment. Richard Sale (Washington Times) reports today:

A congressional staffer who spoke on condition that he not be named because he was discussing sensitive intelligence said that after the U.S. stopped paying Sunni forces directly in June, it wasn't long before payments to the tribes "simply stopped. You got paid if you were a power in the government, and the tribal leaders were last on [Prime Minister Nouri al-] Maliki's list," the staffer said.
The Iraqi Embassy in Washington declined to comment.
The PKK is a group of Kurds who fight for a Kurdish homeland. Labeled terrorists by many countries, including Turkey, they long ago set up a camp in the northern mountains of Iraq (which borders Turkey). Reporters have visited the camp -- Deborah Haynes of the Times of London, for example. Recent developments have included some PKK turning themselves over to the Turkish government which has then released them. Reuters reports a second wave of PKK has turned themselves into the Turkish government today (eight members). The PKK issue is not seen as a 'big' one in Iraq currently. For example, the top US commander in Iraq, Gen Ray Odierno, sees the tensions between the KRG and Baghdad as the greatest source of conflict. But the PKK issue has never gone away no matter how many times the current or the previous administration might want it to. The government of Turkey has received repeated promises from the US government (current and previous administrations) that the PKK issue would be 'dealt with' and 'handled' and all that has ever happened has been postponing it until it flares again, at which point the US government is suddenly concerned all over again. For over two years now, Turkey has been conducting air raid bombings over northern Iraq. Asso Ahmed (Los Angeles Times) visits the main camp of the PKK to speak with the leader Murat Karayilan about where things stand currently:

Q: How do you view the policy of the United States on the Kurdish issue? The U.S. has asked Turkey to resolve the issue peacefully.
A: I am doubtful of this policy by America. When [President] Obama visited Turkey he met with Ahmet Turk, the Kurdish parliamentary bloc representative in the Turkish parliament. The meeting had implications, but America does not want to resolve our cause for their own interests in the region. They want to put pressure on us to make more compromises.
Q: How do you manage to stay in Iraq? Do you get any assistance from the Kurdish Regional Government?
A: We have no relations with the KRG, we are not in need of their assistance, we rely on our own finances from our people in Turkey and our supporters abroad. The Kurdish people in Kurdistan sympathize with us and support us morally, but not materially. At the same time, we believe the current situation of the Kurds and their role in the political equation in the region is becoming weaker day after day.
James Glanz and Walter Gibbs (New York Times) contributed a bad article this morning. Peter Galbraith (long called out at this website -- search the archives) finally gets the write up for his help or 'help' which was accompanied by efforts to enrich himself. As October wound down, Al Jazeera's Inside Iraq addressed this issue.
Jasim al-Azzawi: When Norway's most respected financial newspaper, Dagens Noeringsliv, covered the activities of a small, Norwegian oil company called DNO operating in northern Iraq, no one expected subsequent investigations to implicate the former US politician Peter Galbraith. Ambassador Galbraith is now suing DNO for a quarter of a billion dollars because the Kurdistan Regional Government has squeezed him out of his 5% stake in the company. What is more devastating for Iraq is the role Mr. Galbraith played as a political consultant to the KRG writing Iraq's Constitution in a way that can only be described as a potential ticking time bomb. This story has all the marks of dual loyalty, betrayal and international intrigue. [. . .] I am now joined from Oslo by Terje Erikstad, a financial news editor at Dagens Naeringsliv and from London by Sabah al-Mukhtar, president of Arab Layers Association in London. And we were also supposed to be joined by Mohammad Ihsan, Minister for Extra-Regional Affairs of the KRG but unfortunately we were informed at the last minute that he fell sick and cannot join the program.
Transcript of a partial excerpt of the broadcast can be found in the October 26th snapshot. Today NPR's Melissa Block (All Things Considered) interviewed Peter Galbraith about his oil dealings.
Notwithstanding questions over the credibility of US President Barack Obama's anti-Iraq war rhetoric, he has artfully taken the world attention away from Iraq, which his predecessor George W. Bush invaded.
Obama is seen to be fighting his war in the Af-Pak region against Taliban and al-Qaeda militants. Obviously, it is the daily terror incidents and military operations in Pakistan and Afghanistan that fill the front pages of US newspapers. Incidents in Iraq either make no news these days or are relegated to inside pages.
This does not mean that the United States has shelved Iraq. Far from it, Iraq is very much on its agenda. The shifting of the focus from Iraq to Afghanistan is seen by many observers as deliberate and sneaky. The US apparently does not want much media attention when it is reaping the fruit of the invasion. Like a couple who want to be intimate send their children to play, the US has sent the media to Afghanistan while it digs deeper into Iraq's national wealth. Can we call this Obama's weapon of mass deception?
Last Thursday, Exxon-Mobil and Royal Dutch Shell won the development rights of a massive oil field -- West Qurna near Basra in Iraq's south. The two oil giants hope to boost daily production from the current 300,000 barrels to 2.3 million barrels a day at West Qurna, which the ousted and hanged Iraqi President Saddam Hussein wanted to give to a Russian oil company.
Last month, British Petroleum (BP) and the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) won a contract to develop another oil field. The invitation to China to join the plunder of Iraq is probably a payoff by the US so that this Asian economic powerhouse and rising military power would not rock the pirates' boat.
James Cogan (WSWS) offers, "Having drowned the Iraqi people in blood, the American financial and corporate oligarchy now believes that day has finally arrived. While US corporations are not the sole beneficiaries of the contracts, there is no question who has the final say over Iraq's oil. With huge military bases in the country and a Baghdad regime tied to Washington, the US is positioned to dictate terms to its European and Asian rivals and, amid rising great powers tensions, to wield the threat of cutting off oil suppliers -- a longstanding tenent of American strategic policy." Meanwhile Rod Nordland (New York Times) reports, "Iraq's Baghdad Trade Fair ended Tuesday, six years and a trillion dollars after the American invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein, and one country was conspicuously absent" -- the United States. US House Rep John Murtha spoke with the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (link has text and video) over the weekend and predicted that the costs of the wars in Iraq and Aghanistan will lead to inflation in "seven or eight years". Last Friday, US House Rep Dennis Kucinich issued the following statement:
Why is it we have finite resources for health care but unlimited money for war? The inequities in our economy are piling up: trillions for war, trillions for Wall Street and tens of billions for the insurance companies. Banks and other corporations are sitting on piles of cash of taxpayer's money while firing workers, cutting pay and denying small businsses money to survive. People are losing their homes, their jobs, their health, their investments, their retirement security; yet there is unlimited money for war, Wall Street and insurance companies, but very little money for jobs on Main Street. Unlimited money to blow up things in Iraq and Afghanistan, and relatively little money to build things in the US. The Administration may soon bring to Congress a request for an additional $50 billion for war. I can tell you that a Democratic version of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan is no more acceptable than a Republican version of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Trillions for war and Wall Street, billions for insurance companies . . . When we were promised change, we weren't thinking that we give a dollar and get back two cents.
Tuesday's snapshot noted Human Rights Watch's new report entitled [PDF format warning] "On Vulnerable Ground: Violence against Minority Communities in Nineveh Province's Disputed Territories." The Kurdistan Regional Government has issued a response to the report and we'll note this section of the response:
The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has a long standing and productive relationship with Human Rights Watch (HRW). We appreciate what HRW has done in the past. As an oppressed community ourselves, we fully understand the value of ensuring justice for all members and factions of society. In addition, the KRG appreciates the interest in the condition of the minority communities in Ninevah Province's disputed territories. We regard the well-being of all communities in these areas to be of paramount concern.
The KRG is ready and willing to look into each and every allegation, and we are ready to work on these issues under the legal framework of both the Kurdistan Region and the Republic of Iraq, with the help of HRW and other reputable human rights organisations. The KRG will investigate each specific claim outlined in the report carefully and thoroughly. There may be instances of maltreatment and neglect; the KRG does not claim to be flawless.
But the report reveals a systematic misperception of the circumstances in Ninevah and a worrying ignorance of Iraqi history. HRW therefore produces an inaccurate portrayal of the situation. Furthermore, due to the methodology employed to produce this report, it cannot be the basis for legitimate judgements or assertions.
The main thrust of this report could be grossly misleading and the KRG affirms its strong disagreement in this regard. The KRG has done more for the protection of minorities than any other entity in Iraq, and continues to insist on tolerance and peaceful coexistence in the Region and throughout Iraq.

We don't have time for the KRG's full statement in this and, equally true, the HRW report was not given a ringing endorsement here on Tuesday. (Repeating, I believe the two activists who detailed their abuse while in Kurdish custody.) We opened with IVAW and we'll close with it. Yesterday was Veterans Day in the US and, at Fort Hood, there was a candle light vigil. Shelton Green (KVUE -- link has text and video) reported on it.

Shelton Green: Well Tyler, they call themselves, Iraq Veterans Against the War. Tonight, they not only honored their fallen comrades, they also brought attention to the growing mental health needs of returning soldiers. There's another vigil Wednesday night to honor the slain and injured and last Thursday's shooting at Fort Hood. But the fire burning within these soldiers and their supporters has a less popular fuel source.

Michael Kern: I approached the army when I got back from Iraq and I was like hey I need to talk to someone, I need some help. And they said come back in two months.

Shelton Green: Michael Kern who is presently in the army met President Barack Obama Tuesday when he was at Fort Hood for a memorial service for the thirteen killed in Iraq last week. Kern slipped the president a list of changes he'd like to see made for troops returning home from battle.

Michael Kerns: He came over to me to shake my hand, put out his hand to shake my hand and very respectfully I pulled out the letter in my pocket, tried handing it to him and I was like, "Sir, IVAW has some issues they would like you to address." And at that point, he put his hand down and moved to the next soldier. Secret Service then took the letter from me and that was the last of it.

Shelton Green: Iraq Veterans Against the War want to see a withdrawal of troops from Iraq and Afghanistan. They also believe both countries should get reperations from the US. And they want to see better mental health care for returning soldiers.

Chance Mills: There should be a more compassionate attitude towards soldiers who are dealing with a lot of stress. And that's where it has to start. No program, no poster on the wall is going to fix that.

Shelton Green: Now Iraq Veterans Against the War claims its membership of 2,000 is growing. The group is also organizing a petition for better mental health services for returning troops. We're live at Fort Hood, Shelton Green, KVUE News.