BULLY BOY PRESS & CEDRIC'S BIG MIX -- THE KOOL-AID TABLE
KILLER BARRY O SANG HIS FAVORITE SONG FROM THE AUSTIN POWERS MOVIES AGAIN TODAY:
DADDY, DADDY WASN'T THERE
TO TAKE ME TO THE FAIR
IT SEEMS HE DOESN'T CARE
DADDY WASN'T THERE
TO CHANGE MY UNDERWEAR
IT SEEMS HE DOESN'T CARE
DADDY WASN'T THERE
AND BIG BADONKADONK-ED KATHA POLLITT DEMONSTRATED THAT A BUTT UGLY WOMAN CAN BE OBSESSED WITH AN ATTRACTIVE WOMAN TO THE POINT THAT SHE LIES, WHORES AND DISTORTS ABOUT THE PRETTY WOMAN.
OF COURSE KATHA WAS IMMEDIATELY PRAISED BY GLENN GLENN GREENWALD -- EVERY GLENN GLENN NEEDS A HAG.
POOR KATHA, EVER SINCE SHE LOST THE MAN OF HER HEART TO A YOUNGER, SMARTER WOMAN, SHE'S BEEN RIDICULOUS, FIRST STALKING THE MAN AND THEN ENTERING INTO SOME SORT OF FUZZY HAZY ESPRESSO COMMERCIAL MOMENT.
OH WELL, AT LEAST HE'S NOT AROUND TO COMPLAIN ABOUT HER FARTING AT THE DINING TABLE ANY MORE. KATHA CAN FART FREELY -- AS SHE DID THROUGHOUT THE RELATIONSHIP -- WITHOUT FEAR.
FROM THE TCI WIRE:
Your Call airs on the Bay Area's public radio station KALW Monday through Friday (ten to eleven in the morning Pacific Time). Today host Rose Aguilar and the program offered something you rarely hear on American radio today: a discussion of Iraq. The guests were Kael Alford and Thorne Anderson.
Rose Aguilar: It's been almost ten years since the US invasion and occupation of Iraq. In fact today marks the 10th anniversary of the historic global protests against the war that took place all over the world. In 2003, today's guests photo journalist Kael Alford and Thorne Anderson took photos of Iraqi citizens outside of the confines of the US military's embedded journalist program. Their goal was to find out how the war was effecting ordinary people. Their photos are on display at the de Young Museum in San Francisco. The description on a photo taken in Baghdad at a hospital on April 9, 2003 says, "A pool of blood is left on the floor of the lobby of the Saddam Medical Center after a man died on a makeshift operating table. Located near the front lines, the hospital was overlowing with patients." Another photo taken in Najaf on August 21, 2004 shows a man holding his crying son. The description reads, "On the wrecked outskirts of the old city, a father tries to cross the front lines with his terrified child signaling to snipers to hold their fire. Father and son crossed safely." Thorne Anderson began his work in Iraq in October 2002 photographing the impact of UN sanctions on Iraqis. He spent ten months of the last two years -- actually, that's not right. He was last in Iraq in 2004. While covering the war from Baghdad, he was arrested by Iraqi intelligence and expelled from the country. He returned from Iraq as soon as the borders opened at the end of the war and has covered the occupation resistance movements. He's also worked in the Balkans, Afghanistan, Israel and Palestine. He's taught photo journalism at the American University in Bulgaria and his photographs regularly appear in major American and international newspapers and magazines. And Thorne joins us here in the studio. [. . .] We're also joined by Kael Alfred, a freelance photo journalist who was based in Baghdad during the US invasion in 2003. She was last in Iraq in 2011. Her work focuses on the growing culture of resistance, religion and the grassroots movements developing since the invasion. She has worked extensively covering southeast Europe and the Middle East for many major US and European magazines. She's currently working on a longterm project about the environmental degradation of the landscape and culture of the Gulf Coast.At the top of each Friday show, Your Call always asks their guests to note reporting that they found valuable and noteworthy that week.
Kael Alfred: Well this isn't specifically -- It's not journalism but it's reporting done by Human Rights Watch. They just -- every year they publish this world report based on what happened in the last year. And as I was researching and preparing to speak to audiences about Iraq, I came across their report which goes into some depth about what's happened in Iraq in the last year. And, although I was there in 2011, it's nice to see -- or, it's not sort of nice, but it's confirmed in this report what I saw in Iraq in 2011 which is that the leadership of Iraq is, and I'm quoting the report here, sort of the intro to the report, "is using draconian measures against opposition politicians, detainees, demonstrators and journalists -- effectively squeezing the space for independent civil society and political freedoms in Iraq." Human Rights Watch said this today in their world report -- this was just published at the end of January. And so it's -- There just isn't a huge amount of reporting coming out of Iraq these days by western media because budgets are shrinking. There are a lot of conflicts happening all over the world and our attention shifts elsewhere. And, you know, we were just speaking about this before the show, how tens years on, the anniversary of this war, we don't really know what's happening in Iraq, we don't know what it looks like.
Rose Aguilar: Right. I remember on MSNBC, one of the hosts said, "President Obama has announced that the war is over, the troops are leaving." Sort of 'end of story.'
Kael Alford: Right.
Rose Aguilar: So you went there last year. Just talk about when you go, where do you go and what do you set out to do? What did you find this time around?
Kael Alford: Well I-I had a short period of time to work there. I only had a few weeks. And actually my time was even shortened by my having to get my visa through. So I had this window to work and I decided that what I would -- The best way to catch up with what had happened since I was there last would be to take the photographs I had made and revisit as many of the people as I could in these photograph -- people I had met in the past and reported on in the past. So I searched systematically, went searching for these people, and it was like detective work because the country was so up-ended in the last years that I didn't know where to find anyone, they weren't living in the same neighborhoods, they certainly didn't have the same phone numbers --
Rose Aguilar: And these are the people you have gotten to know over the years?
Kael Alford: Right. The people who I met in 2003 and 2004. And, you know, I hadn't really kept in close contact with them, it was really difficult, many of them don't speak English or don't write English and I don't speak or read Arabic. So when I went back, I found these people and just sort of asked them what's happened in the last eight years since I was here last? How is your life? What are your concerns? And almost universally, people's lives had gotten much, much harder. The situation was violent. It was very divided. People couldn't live safely in the places they'd lived before. The Sunni people I'd met, many of them felt confined to specific neighborhoods. There really was this ethnic divide, this ethnic cleansing, that targeted mostly Sunnis -- who are in the minority now -- were the subject of that. So Sunni people were really living in much more cloistered circumstances than they'd lived before -- if I could even find them at all. And-and there's one woman. Her name is Karimah. She and her family, I'd spent time at their house a lot in 2003 and 2004 and she's a widow and her husband was killed in the Iran - Iraq War. She has a large number of kids. And I went to visit her and her son, her oldest son, Aalee had been picked up at a cafe in a raid. And there were these Iraqi security forces who were looking for members of the Sadr militia. They picked him up, detained him, didn't charge him with anything really and interrogated him, extracting a confession from him and then proceeded to sort of keep him in prison until the family sold everything they had and could buy him out of prison basically. And that speaks to the state of the Iraqi judicial system today. It's a confession-based sort of system and people are frequently detained and not charged with anything until people can just buy them out. And that's included in this Human Rights Watch report. So it's really, the biggest concerns for the people who are coming up from this new very sort of corrupt and ineffective Iraqi government, in their words, in the way they described it and also the infrastructure was just a mess.
Rose Aguilar: Tell us more about that because we've done -- over the years we've done a lot of shows about the infrastructure. And I remember when we used to have a series Open Line To Iraq and we'd bring Iraqis on on a regular basis and the first question was do you have electricity, do you have water and it was so sporadic.
Kael Alford: So sporadic. I mean, the grid supplies maybe six hours of power a day -- the national grid. And otherwise, there are these neighborhood generators that are either privately owned by one wealthy person in the neighborhood that sells energy to everybody else -- produces it and sells it to everybody else at whatever price they decide to set. At least when I was there, they were talking about regulating this generator system but it wasn't happening yet when I was there. And then sometimes a neighborhood would go in together and buy a generator and they can be more of a grassroots, sort of democratic use of the generator. And these are the very large generators, like the size of shipping containers that would sit every few blocks and were constantly running and spewing fumes -- they run on petroleum and they smell terrible and they're loud. And then people would have a little generator at their house if they were wealthy enough to have their own generator that they would run when both those other systems weren't working.
Thorne Anderson: You know, it's important to note, we're not talking about an earthquake or some kind of natural disaster. What we're talking about here is just a disaster of massive corruption because there have been billions and billions of dollars that have been poured in for the rebuilding of Iraq's infrastructure and that has not been realized. That money has gone into Iraq but it hasn't gone into the infrastructure.
Kael Alford: That's a good point.
Thorne Anderson: So we're not talking about a national disaster here. We're talking about a really poorly managed transition of huge amounts of money.
The exhibit is entitled to "Eye Level in Iraq" and the exhibit continues to June 16, 2013 at the de Young Museum. Kenneth Baker (San Francisco Chronicle) reviews the exhibit today observing:
Looking at these images, visitors who opposed the man-made human catastrophe of Operation Iraqi Freedom before or after it began will experience again some of the nauseating helplessness they felt a decade ago at government deceit, lawlessness and ideology-driven aggression.
The exhibition leaves it to viewers to connect the discredited neocon foreign policy with draconian provisions of the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act and with the killer drones now fatally realizing abroad the nightmare concept of the world as a battlefield. A picture such as one Alford took in Zafrania a month after the invasion suggests the peril she must have faced daily from enraged Iraqis certain of her foreignness but not of her relationship to the calamity engulfing them.
No less chilling is a shot she took from behind on the same day of an insurgent peering from an alley, a loaded rocket launcher on his shoulder. Was he aware of her presence? What preceded and followed from the image we see?
The Your Call discussion is a great one and hopefully we'll return to it next week. I'll also note that Thorne Anderson is an associate professor at the University of North Texas (Denton, Texas). And quickly, on the topic of photography, AFP's Prashant Rao Tweeted:
@AFP has begun publishing its 'Iraq War - 10 Years On' series of photographs. Have a look: http://www.bit.ly/AFPIraqPhotos
Moving to Iraq. Last Friday saw the largest turnout in the ongoing protests which now span three months (December, January and February). Each week, the numbers grow, but last week was a huge leap forward in participation. (I'm basing that call on media coverage, on social media photos, on reports from Iraqi community members by e-mail and two that I spoke with on the phone as well.) Nouri's forces infamously attacked the protesters in Falluja on January 26th., killing at least nine (Human Rights Watch noted that 2 more of the wounded had died) with dozens left injured. And this resulted in public condemnation -- though not from the US government where the pathetic response from the State Dept was to have Icky Vicky Neocon Nuland, Dick Cheney's former Deputy Advisor on National Security, insist that both sides should not resort to violence. (Number of protesters killed by Nouri's forces: at least 9. Number of forces killed at protests: Zero.) But while Victoria and the administration coddled, stroked and fondled their puppet Nouri al-Maliki, prime minister and chief thug of Iraq, others were appalled. The United Nations and the British government were among the most publicly vocal. Nouri knows the world is watching and that's, for now, prevented another assault on the protesters.
With the huge increase in participants and with Nouri refusing to meet the demands -- which have been the same demands for months now and which are also pretty much the exact same demands that the protesters were making in February 2011 (demands Nouri swore he would meet if given 100 days -- he didn't meet them, he didn't care, he lied to stall for time and to try to stop the protests) -- the protesters decided maybe a stronger presence was needed in the capital. From Saturday:
Kitabat reports that yesterday some protesters in Anbar Province announced their intent to march to Baghdad next Friday. All Iraq News notes National Alliance MP Qasim al-Araji is calling out the plan to stage a sit-in in Baghdad. The Ministry of Interior (run by Nouri al-Maliki since he never nominated anyone to head it) had its own announcement. Alsumaria reports that today it was declared their intent to crack down on any protest -- anywhere in the country -- that they felt was a threat or lacked a permit. Al Mada notes that the spokesperson for the Anbar protests, Sayad Lafi, states that the protesters have written Baghdad seeking permission to pray in the city on Friday and return the same day.
And Nouri's response? From Tuesday's snapshot:
In the failed state of Iraq, Nouri al-Maliki is refusing to allow Iraqis from the west to enter their own country's capital. We noted this development yesterday morning and in yesterday's snapshot. The non-Iraqi press continues to ignore it with only one except[ion]: Jane Arraf (see yesterday's snapshots for her Tweets) who reports for Al Jazeera, the Christian Science Monitor and PRI. Today, she Tweets.
Alsumaria reports that there will be a ban on 'roaming' in Baghdad starting Thursday and that "security reasons" are being cited for the curfew that kicks off at midnight tonight and for the refusal to allow 'outsiders' into Baghdad. Dar Addustour adds that security forces have been put on "high alert" and that there is pressure on various mosques in Baghdad not to call for demonstrations on Friday while i.d.s continue to be checked and people from western Iraq are being refused access to Baghdad. The Iraq Times notes that two military brigades are being used to stop cars attempting to enter Baghdad.
Why is he allowed to use the military to prevent Iraqis from entering the capital? Whether you agree with his call or not -- I don't -- why is he repeatedly allowed to use the military on the Iraqi people? The military is supposed to protect from external threats. Nouri also controls the police. Why does he keep using the military? Juntas use militaries to control the people. Thugs and dictators use militaries to control the people. It it any surprise that the Los Angeles Times' Ned Parker made this discovery:
Most striking thing in Anbar last week was how many young Sunni males are afraid to come to Baghdad because they fear the security forces.
Following the Falluja massacre last month, Nouri was forced to pull the military out of Falluja by the provincial council which demanded he stop using the military to police the people. Baghdad's not in Anbar so the Anbar council has no power. But why is he allowed repeatedly to use the military on the Iraqi people?
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