December 3, 2007 archive

Action Alert: U.S. Army Lt. Elizabeth Whiteside

For those who are inclined to take action as a result of the excellent Daily Kos diaries of gchaucer2 and BlueTape on the effort by some Army apparatchiks to intimidate and crush the unfortunate U.S. Army Lt. Elizabeth Whiteside, below the break is a listing of contact names, links, addresses, and phone numbers for directing your comments.

Lt. Whiteside, who suffered a breakdown while serving in Iraq, has spent the past year undergoing multiple surgeries and undergoing psychiatric care at Walter Reed. The Army is threatening to court-martial Lt. Whiteside, who has refused to resign and waive a veteran’s rights to ongoing medical care. The case encapsulates the Army bureaucracy’s cavalier, dismissive treatment of soldiers suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) resulting from the stresses and trauma of serving in Iraq.

I managed to track down the Whiteside family yesterday and spoke by phone for several minutes with Elizabeth’s father, a former Marine officer who served in Vietnam. I brought gchaucer2’s excellent diary to Thomas Whiteside’s attention, and he called back to praise gchaucer2’s excellent summary of the initial powerful investigative piece, ‘A Soldier’s Officer,’ by Dana Priest and Anne Hull in the WaPo on December 2nd.

As gchaucer2 noted yesterday, this is a case that compels not just passive outrage, but action.

Below the jump are key contacts, as well as the connecting of a few related dots.

(Previously posted version at Daily Kos.)

Four at Four

Some news and afternoon open thread.

  1. Climate talks take on added urgency after IPCC report, according to The New York Times. Thousands are gathered in Bali for a new round of climate talks to replace the expiring Kyoto treaty, “but few participants expect this round of talks to produce significant breakthroughs… By far, the biggest obstacle to forging a new accord by 2009 is the United States, analysts say. Senior Bush administration officials say the administration will not agree to a new treaty with binding limits on emissions… In his latest statement on climate change last Wednesday, Mr. Bush said, ‘Our guiding principle is clear: we must lead the world to produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions, and we must do it in a way that does not undermine economic growth or prevent nations from delivering greater prosperity for their people.'” Arghhhh!

  2. According to Spiegel, the US seeks alliance with China and India to block climate protection. “In the run-up to the Bali Climate Conference that opened Monday, the administration of US President George W. Bush established contact with representatives of the Chinese and Indian governments in an attempt to curb progress on climate protection initiatives, SPIEGEL ONLINE has learned from a source familiar with the White House’s Bali strategy. According to the source, Washington is hoping that the two greenhouse gas emitters will openly declare during the conference that they are unwilling to accept any binding limits on emissions of greenhouse gases — at least not as long as the US is unwilling to do more or if the Western industrial nations do not provide them with more financial aid for climate protection initiatives. If successful, the US could use the tactic to prevent itself from becoming an isolated scapegoat if negotiations in Bali end in a stalemate.” When will other nations use economic clout, such as sanctions and carbon tariffs, against eco-terrorist nations?

  3. The Hill reports Waxman seeks Mukasey’s help in CIA leak probe. “Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) is asking new Attorney General Michael Mukasey to help him advance a probe into the leak of the name of a CIA operative to the media. Waxman, the chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, petitioned Mukasey in a letter Monday to side with Congress in a battle with the White House over whether special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald can release ‘key documents’ to the panel… The panel is investigating circumstances surrounding the leak of the name of Valerie Plame Wilson to the media.”

  4. The Washington Post reports a Rare, “mummified” dinosaur unearthed in North Dakota. In 1999, “a high school student hunting fossils in the badlands of… North Dakota discovered an extremely rare mummified dinosaur that includes not just bones but also seldom seen fossilized soft tissue such as skin and muscles… The 25-foot-long hadrosaur found by Tyler Lyson in an ancient river flood plain in the dinosaur-rich Hell Creek Formation is apparently the most complete and best preserved of the half-dozen mummified dinosaurs unearthed since early in the last century… Although described as ‘mummified,’ the 65 million-year-old duckbilled dinosaur would be better described as “mineralized”. National Geographic News and Wired has pictures and more!

Ilona To Testify Before Congress-Requests Help

This will be a short essay, written in response to

request for help.

Ilona explains in her diary /ACTION/ Help Amass PTSD Data For the Congressional Record that she will be testifying before Congress and asks help in documenting PTSD-related incidents:


A Snag In The Campaign For War With Iran

Is Cheney Wailing?

A new assessment by American intelligence agencies concludes that Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003 and that the program remains on hold, contradicting an assessment two years ago that Tehran was working inexorably toward building a bomb.

The conclusions of the new assessment are likely to be major factor in the tense international negotiations aimed at getting Iran to halt its nuclear energy program. Concerns about Iran were raised sharply after President Bush had suggested in October that a nuclear-armed Iran could lead to “World War III,” and Vice President Dick Cheney promised “serious consequences” if the government in Tehran did not abandon its nuclear program.

The finding also come in the middle of a presidential campaign during which a possible military strike against Iran’s nuclear program has been discussed. The assessment, a National Intelligence Estimate that represents the consensus view of all 16 American spy agencies, states that Tehran’s ultimate intentions about gaining a nuclear weapon remain unclear, but that Iran’s “decisions are guided by a cost-benefit approach rather than a rush to a weapon irrespective of the political, economic and military costs.”

“Some combination of threats of intensified international scrutiny and pressures, along with opportunities for Iran to achieve its security, prestige, and goals for regional influence in other ways might – if perceived by Iran’s leaders as credible – prompt Tehran to extend the current halt to its nuclear weapons program,” the estimate states.

I have always believed the Iran scare was mostly a red herring by the cynical Bush Administration (not the Cheney cabal however) to take the focus off of IRaq and and that the only way there would be war with Iran would be if a pretext was concocted via the Iraq Debacle. I think that is more true than ever.

Thus, being firm on the Kyl Lieberman is admirable but being firm on NOT funding the Iraq Debacle is MUCH MORE important. It is one of the principal reasons I am displeased with Senator Jim Webb’s actions on these issues.

Quit giving $$$ to politicians; give the gift of peace

We’ve been regularly donating to two presidential candidates — not large amounts, but smaller contributions about once a month – for the past year.

But we’ve declared a moratorium on those checks and online contributions until after there is a Democratic nominee.

Instead, we’re going to put that money somewhere that is more likely than any politician to end the war in Iraq.

Whether we max out to Obama, Edwards, Gravel, Kucinich, Clinton or whomever isn’t going to have the slightest impact on their policy stance.  Our contributions are a drop in the multi-million dollar campaign bucket.

The same amount of  money, given to an organization working to stop the war, is far more likely to actually accomplish something.

The real War on Christmas- in Iraq

As the usual right-wing demagogues wind themselves into pretzel postures of false outrage for being denied the right to use instruments of government to impose their religious rituals on those who do not so celebrate, it’s time to point out that despite their hypocrisy, pseudo-sanctimony, and just plain cultural bigotry, there is a hidden kernel of truth in their simple-minded sloganeering. For there is an actual war on Christmas, and it is going on right before our eyes. But they don’t see it, and they certainly wouldn’t want anyone to talk about it, because it’s taking place in Iraq, and it is the fault of their political hero, George W. Bush.

As the New York Times explained, in October 2006:

Christianity took root here near the dawn of the faith 2,000 years ago, making Iraq home to one of the world’s oldest Christian communities. The country is rich in biblical significance: scholars believe the Garden of Eden described in Genesis was in Iraq; Abraham came from Ur of the Chaldees, a city in Iraq; the city of Nineveh that the prophet Jonah visited after being spit out by a giant fish was in Iraq.

Both Chaldean Catholics and Assyrian Christians, the country’s largest Christian sects, still pray in Aramaic, the language of Jesus.

They have long been a tiny minority amid a sea of Islamic faith. But under Saddam Hussein, Iraq’s million or so Christians for the most part coexisted peacefully with Muslims, both the dominant Sunnis and the majority Shiites.

One of the oldest Christian communities in the world, for the most part peacefully coexisting. And then came Bush.

But since Mr. Hussein’s ouster, their status here has become increasingly uncertain, first because many Muslim Iraqis framed the American-led invasion as a modern crusade against Islam, and second because Christians traditionally run the country’s liquor stories, anathema to many religious Muslims.

And the Times says the result has been threats, church bombings, kidnappings, and murders, with anywhere from tens of thousands to a hundred thousand fleeing the country.

In March of this year, USA Today reported:

The flight of Iraq’s Sunni and Shiite Muslims from their homes under threat of violence has earned much attention. But Iraq’s Christian community has also been targeted and is steadily dwindling as well.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees says Christians comprise some 40% of the Iraqi refugees.

Other Iraqis who are forced from their homes often relocate to another city or neighborhood, but Iraqi Christians who have to flee often leave the country, said Dana Graber, an Amman-based officer with the International Organization for Migration. “They feel even more vulnerable because they have few, if any, safe communities to where they can escape,” she said.

Long an integral part of Baghdad’s diverse ethnic and religious communities, Christians have lived side by side with their Muslim neighbors for generations, said Abdullah al-Naufali, head of Iraq’s Christians Endowment.

But as Iraq’s violence flared after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, churches and Christian homes were targeted, al-Naufali said. Ten of Baghdad’s 80 Christian churches have closed, and more than half of Baghdad’s Christian population has fled, he said.

And the Associated Press:

Pony Party: Eek, I forgot!

You know how Outlook has reminders that pop up and, well, remind you to do something?

And you know how, sometimes, you forget to look at Outlook (or your calendar).

Do you ever have that nagging feeling that you’ve forgotten to do something? Say, set up your Pony Party essay?


Bob Goodlatte (R-VA06): Hypocrite On The Take

(crossposted from Cobalt6 and Raising Kaine)


Racing industry generous to anti-online gambling politician

One of online gambling’s most passionate detractors apparently enjoys almost $40 000 in encouragement and support from an industry that benefits increasingly from his attacks on Internet gambling.

According to an article on Gambling Web this week the wannabe nemesis of online gambling, Congressman Bob Goodlatte of Virginia, has accepted almost $40 000 in campaign funds from the horse racing industry…Goodlatte has been frequently quoted as supporting the view that online gambling is immoral, somewhat out of balance with his support for the carve outs, which have contributed to the invidious (and potentially expensive) situation that the United Stated currently finds itself in vis-à-vis the World Trade Organisation; facing billions in claims from other nations…

But wait! There’s more…..below the fold….

FCC Approves Bid that Breaks FCC Rules – Monday Morning News Drop

On Friday, November 30th the following story was released, describing how the FCC bent over backwards in order to bypass it’s own rules regarding saturating/dominating local markets in order to please a corporate entity.  The corporate entity in question is Newport Television LLC, which sought to buy up 35 Clear Channel stations.  Well, now they can thanks to the “hard work” put in by the FCC that came up with this nifty idea: Rather than making the corporate entities actually follow the law and risk  losing a financing option or two why not just provide them with waivers?

The sale of the 35 television stations will mean the new owner will be out of compliance with FCC rules that limit the number of stations one company may own in a single market. The market areas include Bakersfield, San Francisco, Santa Barbara, Fresno and Monterey in California; Salt Lake City; Albany, New York; Jacksonville, Fla., and San Antonio, Texas.

Webb of Frustration


Senator Webb’s appearance on Meet the Press was much better than he is given credit for here. Rather than paraphrase what he said, I would like to explore further what he actually said on the issues.

I’ll quote and add some thoughts from the actual transcript of the show.

Hopefully, we can agree to disagree with Senator Webb while appreciating his clarity and understanding of the issues.

Chavez Constitutional Referendum Narrowly Defeated

mishima brings us this report:

Chavez Loses Constitutional Vote

CARACAS, Venezuela — President Hugo Chavez suffered a stunning defeat Monday in a referendum that would have let him run for re-election indefinitely and impose a socialist system in this major U.S. oil provider.

Voters defeated the sweeping measures Sunday by a vote of 51 percent to 49 percent, said Tibisay Lucena, chief of the National Electoral Council, with voter turnout at just 56 percent.

She said that with 88 percent of the votes counted, the trend was irreversible.

Opposition supporters shouted with joy as Lucena announced the results on national television early Monday, their first victory against Chavez after nine years of electoral defeats.

Credit to Chavez for respecting this result. It sounds strange to say that, but Latin America, unfortuately, is not famous for its fealty to democracy.


Pony Party, NFL Roundup

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