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Delhi

Posted by Thomas Nephew on 30th December 2012

That poor woman.

This has saddened the whole world. Today, UN Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon released this statement, and bless him for it:

The Secretary-General expresses deep sorrow at the death of the 23-year old Delhi student who was gang-raped by six men in a moving bus in New Delhi on 16 December. He offers his sincerest condolences to her parents, family and friends, and utterly condemns this brutal crime. Violence against women must never be accepted, never excused, never tolerated. Every girl and woman has the right to be respected, valued and protected.The Secretary-General welcomes the efforts of the Government of India to take urgent action and calls for further steps and reforms to deter such crimes and bring perpetrators to justice. He also encourages the Government of India to strengthen critical services for rape victims. UN Women and other parts of the United Nations stand ready to support such reform efforts with technical expertise and other support as required.”

This, from a Wall Street Journal article, was heart-breaking:

A 12-year-old girl wrote a message to the deceased rape victim in black crayon: “You are lucky. Many people pray for you.” The girl said there were countless women in India who get raped and assaulted daily, but few get any attention. She said she wanted to grow up in a society that is safe for women.

I hate for 12 year olds to need to know and worry about such things, let alone be surprised that a victim is even noticed and remembered.  I hate for 14 year olds to, too; I need to talk with ours, she’s been following the story and is of course upset by it.  I don’t know what we’ll tell her exactly, I guess I’ll wait to see what she wants to ask and say.

In the last few years I’m more reluctant than I used to be to be judgmental about other countries’ shortcomings – we have quite a lot of our own.  But like the Secretary General suggests, I think it’s fair to guess that more rapes happen the more women are disrespected, not valued, considered lesser human beings; we can try to resist that everywhere.  Things may (well) be worse in India than they are here, but it’s not the only place where there’s violence against women, or inadequate pursuit of justice against their assailants; yesterday, NPR reported “Years Delayed, Detroit Starts Testing Rape Kits For Evidence.

UPDATE: Also, what many Indian women are saying is no different from what any of us anywhere can agree with.  Via The speech that explains India’s outrage over a gang rape—and how women are treated every day (S. Mitra Kalita , Quartz.com),  here’s just part of what Kavita Krishnan, secretary, All India Progressive Women’s Association (AIPWA) had to say:

…I believe even if women walk out on the streets alone, even if it is late at night, why should justifications need to be provided for this, like ‘she has to work late hours’ or ‘she was coming home from a BPO job or a media job’? If she simply wants to go out at night, if she wants to go out and buy a cigarette or go for a walk on the road — is this a crime for women? We do not want to hear this defensive argument that women only leave their homes for work, poor things, what can they do, they are compelled to go out. We believe that regardless of whether she is indoors or outside, whether it is day or night, for whatever reason, however, she may be dressed — women have a right to freedom. And that freedom without fear is what we need to protect, to guard and respect.

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Todd Akin: the best opponent a corporate Democrat could buy

Posted by Thomas Nephew on 22nd August 2012

In the so-called false good Samaritan con, one con artist first creates a problem (e.g., steals a wallet, lets rats loose in the neighborhood), then another rides to the rescue (e.g., retrieves the wallet, offers pest control services) and demands a reward.  Something similar is happening in Missouri’s Senate race: a created problem, a less than fully deserved reward.

Over the weekend, Missouri Republican Senate candidate Todd Akin repeated a revealing, reprehensible, and medically false statement* popular among pro-forced birthers about how “legitimate” (read: forcible) rape was somehow different from other rape and was less likely to lead to conception.  He has since compounded the insult by saying what he really meant was that women often lie about rape.  The result has been a well-deserved firestorm of disapproval, thereby considerably boosting beleaguered incumbent Democrat Claire McCaskill’s chances: one poll showed Akin losing 8 points overnight, dropping him into a statistical tie with Senator McCaskill.

The thing is, though, that Akin became the Republican candidate with help from… Claire McCaskill and the Democratic Party.  On August 8, Sunlight Foundation’s Keenan Steiner reported:

Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., and Democratic outside groups, pouring in over $1 million during Missouri’s Republican Senate primary, got the guy they wanted: Rep. Todd Akin, who Tuesday upset two other Republicans to take the GOP nomination.

The thinking was he was more beatable by Democrats than the Republican frontrunners he defeated. So as Akin portrayed himself as the most conservative candidate to Republican primary voters, McCaskill ran ads agreeing with him.

Now Akin is definitely a misogynist moron. But that’s what makes him so very useful to nebbishy corporate-Democratic politicians like Claire McCaskill, who among other things sponsored “CAP Act” legislation essentially putting Social Security and Medicare on the chopping block, who helped kill an “audit the Fed” bill for bailout transparency, and who boasts companies like Monsanto, Boeing, and (wait for it) Bain Capital among her top 20 campaign contributors.  If it weren’t for crazy Akin, a lot of people would notice McCaskill looks a lot like a Republican herself. And as another Missourian once said, “if it’s a choice between a genuine Republican, and a Republican in Democratic clothing, the people will choose the genuine article, every time.”

So let’s get off our high horses about Akin for maybe just a minute or two, and not pretend real Democrats and/or progressives benefit much when Democratic backroom political decisions court disasters like him.

First of all, of course, Akin might still hang in there and win.  What does that say about Democrats stewardship of women’s reproductive rights as opposed to stewardship of Senate seats?  Should running this kind of risk really commend McCaskill to her number one contributor: Emily’s List?

But focusing on extremists like Akin also lets McCaskill and elected Democrats like her avoid defending, discussing, or above all recalibrating their own conservatism: they don’t need to.   To the extent rank and file Democrats have one or two other issues on their minds every six years besides post-rape abortions, that’s an important opportunity lost for those voters, and an all-too useful pass for their Senator.

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UPDATE, 9/8: Don’t Look Now But Todd Akin Has Crept Back Into the Missouri Senate Race (Voorhies, Slate): “McCaskill enjoyed leads of nine and ten points in a pair of polls taken last month as Akin was being hit from all sides. But the two most recent polls show a different story, with Akin clawing his way back within one point of the Missouri Democrat in the (liberal-leaning) PPP survey and into a three-point lead in the (conservative-leaning) Wenzel Strategies poll.”

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More on Baghdad, 7/12/07

Posted by Thomas Nephew on 13th April 2010

Yesterday I spoke about the Wikileaks video (see below) with someone who’s actually been to Iraq as a journalist to cover the war.

An engagement with wannabes?
I asked him about what I thought was the “breathtakingly nonchalant” way the group of Iraqis handled themselves — walking in the open, ignoring nearby helicopters, standing about in a tightly bunched group.  He essentially said yeah, insurgents aren’t necessarily very good at any of this.  Also, in Baghdad at that time, helicopters were always flying around — and could stand off far from their targets while still observing them.  So it’s conceivable even an insurgent group with bad intent would ignore ones that weren’t in the immediate vicinity.  I have to say I still find the Iraqi group’s behavior implausible for insurgents, but maybe it squares with bravado, a gambler’s misjudgement, and/or lack of experience.

When I asked why so few weapons — an RPG and a couple of AK-47s, among the dozen or so dead Iraqis from the first attack — he suggested that the unarmed ones were hangers-on: gophers or wannabes for the two or three full-fledged “bazaari” local tough guy/insurgent types among the group.  While unarmed, they could still have been potential support (what kind, we didn’t discuss) for the armed members of the group.  He said when he was in Baghdad and visited a neighborhood to do some reporting, men standing around would immediately make a call on their cellphone — and he then knew he had only 10 or 15 minutes of relative safety before he might be kidnapped.  The cell phone wielding support people were the kind of people he could see accompanying a few armed insurgents on a mission.

When I suggested the group might have been a neighborhood escort for the journalists, he demurred; at least in his organization, and he strongly assumed in Reuters as well, journalists were told to put as much distance between themselves and armed Iraqis as possible, precisely because of the risk that they would become a target for U.S. forces.   On the other hand, while he couldn’t explain why the Reuters people were with the group, he thought it very unlikely they were secret insurgents themselves — news agencies in Baghdad vet their Iraqi employees too well for that at this point in the war.

Lest the impression arise that he was blase about the video, he wasn’t — but he thought the missile strikes (not discussed below) were the most troubling aspect of the video, because clearly passersby were in the immediate vicinity at the time the missile hit the abandoned building under construction.

I’m not sure how much differently the “wannabe” scenario can be judged from the one I developed.  I accept the journalist’s word for it that even a lightly armed, relatively incompetent group of Iraqis might still arouse legitimate suspicion.  But at the end of the day, even “wannabes” are just that: potential but not actual fighters.  And even the ones with weapons never fired a shot or threatened to.  Both the request and permission to engage came before the single threatening, but misunderstood action happened: the photographer pointing his telephoto lens around a corner, and the helicopter crew mistaking that for an RPG launcher.

Shades of dark gray
I think each of the actions in the video was questionable – most of all, the van, but also the missile firings, and “even” the initial attack that killed the two Reuters journalists.  But I don’t want to vilify or overly criticize the American troops involved, that’s not the point.

The point is that it’s really on the American people and American political leaders that those troops were there in the first place. In the front lines and toughest neighborhoods of a counterinsurgency war, troops will be in a position where “kill them all, let God sort it out” is or can seem to be a matter of survival. It’s apparently also broadly compatible with “rules of engagement” that look strict, but have fudge/weasel words like “reasonable” that mean even very dark shades of gray – in some situations in the video, practically black — aren’t out of bounds.

There’s a car in my neighborhood with a bumper sticker I like: “I’m already against the next war.” We shouldn’t even be building up a military designed for counterinsurgency wars, much less using it in such wars.  It’s as if we’re ancient Rome and the Middle East and Third World are the barbarians to be subdued. Those troops in the video may have crossed lines, but the main line that was crossed was sending them there in the first place; we have no right to seek out such wars and put our soldiers in them.

I think everyone in the US should watch that video a few times. They may start out jingoistic, and they may end up that way too.   But they may not.  And at least they’ll know what they’re calling for when ‘the next war’ rolls around.

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Baghdad, July 12, 2007

Posted by Thomas Nephew on 11th April 2010

On Monday, the online whistleblower site Wikileaks.org released 

…a classified US military video depicting the indiscriminate slaying of over a dozen people in the Iraqi suburb of New Baghdad — including two Reuters news staff. [...] The video, shot from an Apache helicopter gun-site, clearly shows the unprovoked slaying of a wounded Reuters employee and his rescuers. Two young children involved in the rescue were also seriously wounded.

The video is provided at a separate address, collateralmurder.com, along with a timeline, photos, resources such as relevant military policy documents, and a transcript of the talk within the helicopter and radio traffic with other units on the ground and in the air.

The video below is the so-called “full,” 39 minute version.*  Even when zoomed, the grainy black and white view — one of the views the helicopter personnel relied on — is such that individuals on the ground can’t be easily distinguished from eachother.  Perhaps crucially, it’s also nearly impossible to distinguish a telephoto lens from an RPG (rocket propelled grenade launcher), when its cameraman is carefully pointing it around a corner to photograph an arriving American ground unit. But the visual quality is still high enough for a nauseating impression of the carnage high-caliber machine gun fire can wreak.

My view after watching it, looking at official reports (published by the Pentagon at a dedicated site in the wake of the leak), and reading online reactions by military personnel, was that a tragedy was followed by wrongdoing — wrongdoing even in the context of combat in Baghdad, July 12, 2007.

References in this posting to actions in this video will give the approximate video time,
by adding 25 seconds to the time given in the transcript.  C
urrently, that transcript fails
to account for the Wikileaks.org introduction.

The first attack
To me, a military engagement means a situation where both sides are shooting at each other.  That didn’t happen here.  Indeed, one of the disquieting aspects of the first attack is how quickly the option of engaging the Iraqis came up, given how little effort the alleged insurgents made to avoid harm, let alone cause any.

If the group (besides the two Reuters employees, Namir Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh) really was composed of active insurgents, they were breathtakingly nonchalant about it: sauntering down the middle of a street; a total of maybe three or four AK-47s and one RPG among a group of a dozen or so (what are the rest of the men there for then?); the men standing around and bunched together in their final moments, in plain view of two deadly American helicopters. **  “Positive identification” (PID) is a fundamental prequisite to engagement; identification here seemed to be quite a lot less than positive.

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Health care reform: an activist-annotated scorecard

Posted by Thomas Nephew on 26th March 2010

The passage of H.R. 3590 — the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — last Sunday, followed by President Obama’s signature on Tuesday, created a set of broad minimum improvements to health care and health care insurance practices in America, by enshrining a prior Senate bill into law.

These may or may not be followed by additional changes in H.R. 4872 — the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act — now under debate in the Senate, chief among which are provisions delaying and reducing the so-called “Cadillac tax” on high-cost health insurance, a subject rightly of concern to unions protecting coverage for higher levels of work-related injuries and diseases.  Passage of this bill seems likely, since the reconciliation process can’t be filibustered under Senate rules, and thus requires only a simple majority.*  Even if Republicans vote unanimously against the bill (as is also likely), Democrats are likely to command that majority even if several Democratic Senators defect.  [UPDATE: the Senate and House have passed bills fixing minor infractions of reconciliation rules, but without amendments for a public option or anything else; it's done.]

The legislation promises to improve access to health care for millions, and may well rank as a milestone in American social policy — it’s been billed by New York Times business writer David Leonhardt as “the biggest attack on economic inequality since inequality began rising more than three decades ago”, and by conservative writer David Frum as a conservative ‘Waterloo’ that will not be undone.

But the cost to liberal values and goals has also been high.

Public option dead, right to choose denied care
As rehearsed in a post earlier this month, neither House action included a public option — the popular idea of a federally administered health insurance plan to compete with private insurors that was a cost-saver in its own right, and a possible way station to a ‘single payer’ health insurance system.  Instead, an individual mandate to purchase health insurance will further fatten the bank accounts of health insurance companies.

Moreover, in the negotiations preceding Sunday’s vote, Rep. Bart Stupak (D) agreed to vote for the bill in exchange for an Obama Executive Order confirming that the executive branch would prevent federal funds from being used to pay for abortions — thus enshrining the so-called Hyde Amendment, passed annually, as a matter of permanent federal executive branch policy.  Together with provisions in H.R. 3590 — inserted by Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) to the original Senate bill — researchers are predicting abortion insurance coverage will will not just be eliminated from insurance plans operating under health insurance exchanges, but will also decline overall.  Dana Goldstein (of “The Daily Beast”) writes, “To get the health-care bill passed, a pro-choice president reneged on his pledge to support reproductive rights for rich and poor alike.”

In a second article, Goldstein captured how whipsawed liberal groups could be about the events of the past weeks with the example of Feminist Majority president Eleanor Smeal.  On the one hand, Smeal vowed to go after Stupak by raising money for primary opponent Connie Saltonstall, –while on the other hand she celebrated the passage of a health reform bill won at the expense of reproductive choice: “If you turn down half a loaf, you get nothing,” Smeal said. “Given the realities of the vote count, I am glad that 15 million people will have access to Medicaid, most of whom will be women, and another 17 million will have access to these state insurance exchanges. I think to have nothing would have been horrible.”

Online and on the ground activists score the reforms
But quite aside from what’s not in the bill, there’s also the nagging feeling that what is there is less than meets the eye.  Last Friday, Jane Hamsher of “firedoglake,” who was among the most steadfast supporters of a public option in the run-up to Sunday’s vote, published Fact Sheet: The Truth About the Health Care Bill, an itemized list of “myths” about the pending health care/ health insurance reforms, along with her footnoted rebuttals to each one.

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Worth reading

Posted by Thomas Nephew on 25th May 2008

  • A stalled U.S. peace movement? Antiwar activity since 2001 (janinsanfran, “Happening Here”) — This is the fifth and last post of a series Jan wrote to gather her thoughts for a history workshop, and the whole series is worth your while. Jan concludes:

    A more effective peace movement needs to be offering a vision of a plausible, sustainable global community that doesn’t hinge on U.S. use of force to maintain empire. Elements of that vision clearly need to include challenges related to technology, climate change, and how to rein in cancerous capitalism. We really haven’t known how to put out such a vision yet.

    That’s not surprising — it is hard and perhaps, also, the struggle against empire may not have changed us enough so that we could see it. But the group(s) that find elements of that vision will discover that millions are already with them, looking for something similar, ready to elaborate something as yet unknown. They just don’t currently identify with the peace movement.

  • The Cynic and Senator Obama (Charles Pierce, Esquire) — This is one of the best political essays I’ve read in a long time. Self-described cynic Pierce considers Obama’s oratory and politics, and finds them serviceable but not entirely satisfying:

    There is one point in the stump speech, however, that catches the cynic up short every time. It comes near to the end, when Obama talks about cynics. Obama says that cynics believe they are smarter than everyone else. The cynic thinks he’s wrong. The cynic doesn’t think he’s wiser or more clever or more politically attuned than anyone else. It’s just that he fears that, every morning, he’ll discover that his country has done something to deface itself further, that something else he thought solid will tremble and quake and fall to ruin, that his fellow citizens will sell more of their birthright for some silver that they can forge into shackles. He has come to believe that the worst thing a citizen of the United States of America can believe is that his country will not do something simply because it’s wrong. It would be a mistake for anyone — but especially for a presidential candidate — to believe that the cynic thinks himself wise or safe or liberated. In 2008, the cynic is more modest. He considers himself merely adequate to the times.

    I could go on quoting this piece at length, but I’ll make do with two quotes — one that made me nod my head as the main thing I hold against Obama (link added):

    In 2007, when asked about the possibility — just the possibility — of impeaching George W. Bush and/or Dick Cheney, Obama scoffed at the idea, not entirely because it was constitutionally unsound but also because it was impolite and a nuisance and might make many people angry at one another, and he was, after all, running to help save us from ourselves.“We would, once again, rather than attending to the people’s business, be engaged in a tit-for-tat, back-and-forth, nonstop circus.”

    He was offering a guilty country a nolo plea. Himself. Absolution without confession.

    The cynic declined the deal. There were not enough people in handcuffs yet.

    And one that made me laugh:

    “I look forward as president to going before the world community and saying, ‘America is back. We’re ready to lead,’ “ Obama says on the radio, the static crackling and popping and the transmission fading, and it takes a moment for the cynic to wonder whether or not the world wants America to lead. Maybe the world wants America to sit down and shut up for a while.

  • Race to the Bottom, (Betsy Reed, “The Nation”) — Reed stipulates that misogynistic attacks on Hillary Clinton have happened and are deplorable, but thinks declaring “sexism the greater scourge” than racism is not helpful. She continues:

    Yet what is most troubling–and what has the most serious implications for the feminist movement–is that the Clinton campaign has used her rival’s race against him. In the name of demonstrating her superior “electability,” she and her surrogates have invoked the racist and sexist playbook of the right–in which swaggering macho cowboys are entrusted to defend the country–seeking to define Obama as too black, too foreign, too different to be President at a moment of high anxiety about national security.

  • Women and the Invisible Fist (Charles Johnson, Rad Geek People’s Daily) — Libertarians (and others) grant and even assume the possibility of spontaneous order; but if so, must they not also grant the possibility of spontaneous repression? An interesting essay by libertarian Charles Johnson argues yes, with a close examination of writings by feminist theorist Susan Brownmiller. The latter coined the ugly but compelling “Myrmidon theory” of rape — that men as a class or gender benefit from the transgressions of rapists.* Roughly speaking, the thinking is that the “good” men often identify themselves as protectors, women often agree, and society as a whole shapes itself around the ever-present threat. Johnson:

    But if widely distributed forms of intelligence, knowledge, virtue, or prudence can add up, through many individual self-interested actions, into an benign undesigned order, then there’s no reason why widely distributed forms of stupidity, ignorance, prejudice, vice, or folly might not add up, through many individual self-interested actions, into an unintended but malign undesigned order. Moreover, if you consider that spontaneous orders can emerge as unintended consequences of certain widespread forms of violence, then it ought to be especially clear that not all undesigned orders can be considered benign from a libertarian point of view.

    Via Jim Henley, who seems lately to be about metamorphosing your father’s (and/or mother’s) libertarianism into something more honest, multifaceted, and interesting. See also in this respect Henley’s Art of the Possible post, and the site as a whole: “Liberals and libertarians on common ground… and otherwise.” Henley says that the challenge is to “correct spontaneous malign orders without the tool of state violence.” I’m not sure that circle can be squared — some countervailing force is needed against spontaneous malign orders, and that force will need some agreed on norms of justice and enforcement. But I’m interested that libertarians are thinking about the challenge.

  • “Secret Law and the Threat to Democratic and Accountable Government,” Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Property Rights, April 30, 2008 — From Senator Russ Feingold’s opening statement:

    “More than any other Administration in recent history, this Administration has a penchant for secrecy. To an unprecedented degree, it has invoked executive privilege to thwart congressional oversight and the state secrets privilege to shut down lawsuits. It has relied increasingly on secret evidence and closed tribunals, not only in Guantanamo but here in the United States. And it has initiated secret programs involving surveillance, detention, and interrogation, some of the details of which remain unavailable today, even to Congress.

    “These examples are the topic of much discussion and concern, and appropriately so. But there is a particularly sinister trend that has gone relatively unnoticed – the increasing prevalence in our country of secret law.

    Feingold went on to list examples like the secret Yoo memoranda on torture and (as we now know) on warrantless surveillance. Testimony by Federation of American Scientists secrecy expert Steven Aftergood, former Clinton OLC lawyer Dawn Johnsen, and University of Minnesota law professor Heidi Kitrosser, among others, delineate the problem and suggest some legislative solutions, or at least balances. Kitrosser:

    …as the experience with the surveillance and torture programs demonstrate, the oversight system too often cracks under the weight of executive branch disregard and legislative acquiescence in the same. Such disregard and acquiescence is facilitated in part by the same arguments used to justify the circumvention of substantive statutory directives. That is, the executive branch often simply asserts that statutorily required disclosures or requested disclosures would prove too dangerous, and these assertions too often are met with acquiescence.

    Johnsen:

    Given the Bush Administration’s propensity to claim that it is simply engaging in statutory interpretation when it in effect is claiming the authority to disregard a statute, Congress should amend the current notification requirement to extend beyond cases in which the executive branch acknowledges iti is refusing to comply with a statute. Presidents should explain publicly not only when they determine a statute is unconstitutional and need not be enforced, but also whenever they purport to rely upon the constitutional avoidance canon to interpret a statute.

    (“Constitutional avoidance” is when a statute admitting of an unconstitutional interpretation is instead is interpreted in such a way that the result is constitutional.) Administration spokesbot Bradford Berenson had his say as well; find it yourself. Via Marty Lederman (“Balkinization”).

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* The term “Myrmidon” is from the Iliad, where Myrmidons were Achilles’ henchmen soldiers, who did his bidding: “Loyal and unquestioning, the Myrmidons served their master well, functioning in anonymity as effective agents of terror.”

UPDATE, 6/2: “Rad Geek” elaborates on his points in a lengthy and worthwhile comment here. Also, reading between the lines of Henley’s link to this post, I wonder if I gave offense; that was not my intent. Maybe what’s metamorphosing are my own views, not libertarian thinking. I meant that I see Henley as having his own considerable impact on reshaping libertarian thinking (and/or promoting understanding of it) for the better. Glenn Greenwald is another example. Thanks also to Avedon Carol for her nice link to this post.
UPDATE, 6/10: “Rad Geek” comments on our discussion here at his own blog: “10,000 ways to lose your freedom.”

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dove evolution

Posted by Thomas Nephew on 12th May 2008

Via Roy Edroso (“alicublog”).

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A nation turns its stony eyes from you

Posted by Thomas Nephew on 6th May 2008

Last week I had to put down my newspaper in the Metro for a long time. The front page news photo — connected with the story “U.S. Role Deepens in Sadr City” — was this:


Two-year-old Ali Hussein is pulled from the rubble of his family’s home in the Shiite
stronghold of Sadr City in Baghdad, Iraq, April 29, 2008.
(Karim Kadim/AP Photo)

It might have been a more cropped version. Certainly all I looked at was the boy, Ali Hussein, aged 2. According to the caption, he died at the hospital he was brought to. Reacting to the photo in a letter to the editor this weekend, Virginia mom Valerie Murphy was upset, writing:

We know that a war is going on. Must you use a photograph of a dying Iraqi 2-year-old, especially on the front page?

I can think of no other reason for putting such a picture on the front page than to stir up opposition to the war and feed anti-U.S. sentiment.

You have sensationalized a child’s death and subjected young children to inappropriate images. From now on, I will preview what’s in your paper before my children see it.

Because after all, it’s all about the children.

As another great Virginian once said, “It is well that war is so invisible, or we should grow weary of it,” or some similarly repellent comment. This ought to be (yet another) “Napalm Girl” photo of the Iraq War, but it’s gone MIA from the Internet since then, except at the photojournalism analysis site BAGnewsNotes, Glenn Greenwald, and the Kansas City Star.

It’s a small miracle it ever appeared at the Washington Post — it’s less of one that you won’t find the front page photo they used there now.* Meanwhile lead editor Fred Hiatt was writing this weekend that Somalian chaos proves we’re right to be creating Iraqi chaos, or something like that. Hence my reposting of the photo, which I hope falls under “fair use” given that I’m discussing it here.

Did the pilot who dropped the bomb intend to kill Ali Hussein? No. Did the commander who gave him the order take sufficient care to avoid that? I don’t know — though dropping a bomb in a populated neighborhood ought to be a last resort, even for a highly critical mission. Let alone this one. Did the commander-in-chief who continues to wage this war take sufficient care to avoid it? Definitely not. Did the people who voted him into office twice, or who ever supported a needless war? Also, no. Did this or does this war and occupation serve any discernible legitimate purpose? Not in my opinion.

I’m among those who ever supported this war — so some of little Ali’s blood is on my hands too. At the time, I thought I was advocating protecting my own child and others from future attacks, ones worse than 9/11. Instead, if anything, I’ve made them more likely.

And if a Ms. Murphy speaks for any appreciable number of others, or if we passively allow this war to continue, we may collectively deserve the “terror nation” epithet Rev. Wright so controversially bestowed. Just as with Senator Durbin’s comments once about abuses at Guantanamo, what was said is not unthinkable. It’s not impossible. It may or may not always have been the truth, but it may be the truth now.

My own little Maddie turns 10 today. I love her dearly. I know this boy’s father must have loved him, too — look at him, he’s an angel even in his final moments. There’s nothing I can do for either of them but ask forgiveness — and do whatever peaceful thing I can think of to help bring this war to an end.


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* A zoomed out shot of the same scene, from a different angle, is part of the online photo slideshow for the story.
UPDATE, 5/10: The father speaks (ABC News):“You attacked civilians’ houses crowded with people for the sake of a few militants,” said Hussein’s father, his face in tears. “A considerable number of people were killed for the sake of killing four.”
CROSSPOSTED to American Street, Air America (via RSS feed)

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Real News: Winter Soldier clips

Posted by Thomas Nephew on 17th March 2008

Pieces providing an overview of the conference, “Winter Soldier testimonials,” testimony by Hart Viges, and commentary on Blackwater are also available, but aren’t currently listed above; there may be a 10-clip limit or something.

As eRobin mentions, these conferences and videos cost money. Consider supporting Winter Soldier and Real News Network.

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UPDATE, 3/17: Also consider joining the “Iraq Fax-in“, set up by Democrats.com: “We elected a Democratic Congress in 2006 to bring our troops home, but they keep giving Bush blank checks. Incredibly, Congress will soon vote on another $102 billion blank check.”
Also, there will be a teach-in at American University this Saturday, 10:30 am – 4:30 pm, at the Tavern at Mary Graydon Center, with appearances by Samuel Provance, Ray McGovern, David Swanson, and others. Organized by AU Patriots for Peace.

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Respect for Rutgers

Posted by Thomas Nephew on 12th April 2007

The Post had a nice front page photo of the Rutgers women’s basketball team today — nice in that you saw the women as thoughtful, quiet people — and so I read the accompanying articles, not really expecting to get much more out of the ugly story of Imus’ ugly comments.

But I’m glad I did. I didn’t watch much of the college basketball tournaments this year, so maybe that’s why I was surprised to find myself suddenly getting something I hadn’t: how the great achievement of those young women was trampled and vandalized by this lowlife’s remarks. From Adam Kilgore’s article in the Washington Post:

Said [Rutgers coach C. Vivian] Stringer: “While all of you come to talk about this great story, this Don Imus story, in the translation you have lost what this is really all about. At the beginning of the year, we were humiliated. But through perseverance and hard work, determination, ultimately they ended up playing for the national championship. And no one believed in them but them. That’s the greatest story. It’s not where you came from, but where you’re going, not where you start, but where you finish.With five freshmen and no seniors on its 10-player roster, Rutgers lost its first two games of the season and stood at 5-5 after 10 games. Players studied film and practiced for 10 hours daily over winter break, Stringer said, and from that point the Scarlet Knights won 22 of 25 games before Tennessee beat them in the national championship.

Along the way, Rutgers demonstrated its perseverance with stunning victories. It lost to Connecticut by 26 at home on Feb. 26, then beat U-Conn. by eight points eight days later in Hartford, Conn., to win the Big East tournament, the school’s first league championship. In the NCAA tournament, the Scarlet Knights beat No. 1 Duke, which had throttled Rutgers by 40 points in December. Stringer told her players then they were her worst defensive team in 35 years of coaching. In the Final Four, Rutgers set a semifinal record by allowing just 35 points against LSU.

“You are familiar with what you might think is the story,” said Rutgers Athletic Director Robert E. Mulcahy III, who attended the team’s news conference along with Corzine and the school’s president, Richard L. McCormick. “But the real story is not the despicable and degrading comments issued by Don Imus and his producer. The real story is about the 2007 Rutgers women’s basketball team: their incredible accomplishments, where they came from and how far they went.

(Emphases added.) There will be time enough for a reckoning with serial jockass Imus and his misguided friends, defenders (Tom Oliphant!?), employers, and advertisers. But for now, I suggest that if you’re appalled at what Imus spewed over the airwaves, go over to Hillary Clinton’s web site — and great credit where it’s due for her quick reaction — and join her and others in “Respect for Rutgers.” Don’t let Imus be who that Rutgers team remembers years from now. Instead, as Hillary put it:

Show them that we are proud to stand with them and for them.

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