First off the video clip? Don't call four minutes a "documentary" -- though Brand Jordan has the nerve to, insiting Rise Above is a four minute documentary series. Drop back to the March 19th snapshot. We've got the transcript to The State We're In covering the American University in Sulaymaniyah's women's basketball team.
The four minute documentary can't even tell you that you're in the KRG
(but AUIS is on the jerseys and that is American University in
Sulaymaniyah). Funny, isn't it, how Michael Jordan's money reduces a
team to one woman -- and the one who's already profiled but we'll get to
that. Contrast that with someone concerned with something other than
making money and improving their 'brand,' Jonathan Groubert on The State We're In focused on very real issues.
Instead Michael Jordan's company serves up lies. "In spite of long
standing gender inequality in her land . . ." host Amy K. Nelson
prattles away not knowing a damn thing she's talking and caring even
less. That's because the spot's not about Iraqi women it's about
Iraq was the most advanced Middle Eastern country in terms of women's
rights before the illegal US war kicked off in 2003. So Nelson and
Jordan are wrong right there.
If they want to argue that they are a sports spot and therefore were
speaking of sports, Iraq has a long history of women's sports. How
ignorant is this supposed sports spot?
Iraq even had a national women's basketball team. Saddam Hussein ended
that. Basketball teams with women continued. There just wasn't the
national team. One of his sons attempted to bring it back and there was
some success with that -- only some because of the torture athletes who
did not win were targeted with and because he didn't like it when the
women performed well and the men didn't.
But she is perhaps most significant in Iraq as
one of its most beloved and respected national sports heroes, a hybrid
of, say, Chris Evert, Jackie Joyner-Kersee and Donna de Varona, the
living image of what sports once were before the despised Uday Hussein
took over and athletes who displeased him reportedly were thrown off
bridges or tossed into vats of raw sewage.
Sabeeh, who came to Washington this week as part
of a delegation to meet with President Bush and Congressional leaders,
among others, was such a force in her country in the 400 and 800 meters
in the 1980s that she still holds the national records in those events.
Her times were respectable for her day, although they were several
seconds off the world's best marks.
That her records have not been eclipsed speaks to
her national prowess, but also to the fact that Uday did not want
female athletes to represent his country. So for nearly two decades,
girls and women in Iraq rarely took up sports.
In 1984, with the Olympics looming in Los
Angeles, Sabeeh had her heart set on going until Saddam Hussein put his
son in charge of the Olympic movement. "Once he took over sports," she
said, "he never let women travel again."
But Sabeeh still thrived inside Iraq, for a
while. She was voted the most popular female athlete in the nation from
1980-87, each year confounding Uday more and more. "He didn't want
people to be more famous than he was," she said.
Michael Jordan is not a human being, he's a brand and as a brand he
markets feel-good. Feel-good is lying to the American people and
telling them that girls and women can now play sports in Iraq for the
first time ever!!!
It's a damn lie and it renders invisible women like Iman Sabeeh who
didn't just use their natural talents to compete but relied on bravery.
Read Breenan's article and find out about how Sabeeh tells Uday Hussein
"no." That's an important story and it's one that the propaganda from
Michael Jordan's company renders invisible.
What Brand Jordan just 'discovered' is already a documentary film entitled Salaam Dunk
that won awards in the Chicago International Film Festival, the
Nashville Film Festival and the Florida Film Festival. And who was the
star of that documentary? Why Layla. The start of the four minute
spot. A four minute spot with footage that looks idential to that in Salaam Dunk. Salaam Dunk's
weakness -- and why it didn't do well at other film festivals -- was
its reliance on an American to provide context. The man, a coach,
didn't know anything about Iraqi women's sport history but they didn't
stop him from trying to give the camera history lessons. The result was
that many Iraqi-Americans -- men and women -- began objecting to that
film. And that's what endedup hurting it on the film festival circuit.
Brand Jordan has shoes to sell. To do that, it needs feel-good. It
doesn't need truth. And clearly the Rise Above 'documentaries' refuse
to let truth weigh them down.
There's something very sad about a multi-billionaire who pimps
propagnada. There's something very pathetic about a society that allows
an overpraised man to render hundreds and hundreds of brave Iraqi women
invisible to sell war-is-good propaganda.
I'm traveling in some vehicle I'm sitting in some cafe A defector from the petty wars That shell shock love away
-- "Hejira," written by Joni Mitchell, first appears on her album of the same name
New content at Third:
Still on peace, Joe Carter (Christianity Today) reviews Logan Mehl-Laituri's new book Reborn on the Fourth of July: The Challenge of Faith, Patriotism & Conscience
which explains how, in the military, he has a spiritual awakening
against all forms of war, "applies to be a noncombatant conscientious
objector, leaves the Army after his request is granted, and travels to
Israel with a group of Christian peace activists." Mark Johnson (Fellowship of Reconciliation) shares:
Mehl-Laituri spoke to us on March 16, 2007 from the front of the
National Cathedral where some 3000 of us had gathered to hear testimony
before walking through the snow to the White House to protest the Iraq
War, in its 5th year. He describes the evening toward the end of his
testimonial tracing his crystallization of conscience and journey as a
Conscientious Objector, released today, July 4th 2012, because of a
confirming epiphany he had in the Cathedral that evening, before the
fresco of Jesus's Resurrection. Wandering the Church prior to the
ceremony, at which he was asked to read the words of another recognized
conscientious objector, Joshua Casteel, he had stumbled upon and fresco
and recognized with full and final force the call to forgive one's
enemies and serve God. As with much of the book, the scene is painted
vividly with characters in the fresco coming to life and being
transformed into Iraqi soldiers and families. We can feel Logan's body
quake and see the tears streaming down his face.
The just released book is available at InterVarsity Press ($12 in soft cover currently).
Retired Army colonel and retired State Department diplomat Ann Wright
says of the book, "Following your conscience while in the military can
put you at odds with its own 'institutional conscience' and with
specific missions and wars overseen by civilian politicians. Logan
Mehl-Laituri's journey from combat soldier to conscientious objector to
seminary student is a powerful story of recognizing one's conscience and
then following it to the remarkable places of witness in our world." Camile Jackson (Duke University's Duke Today) noted Tuesday:
This morning he shared his views in an interview with the Armed Services Radio Network, which broadcasts to military service members and civilians overseas.
He was a member of the Iraq Veterans Against the War and helped organize, After the Yellow Ribbon
project with Milites Christi, an emerging Divinity School student group
that helps churches and military groups "heal the unseen wounds of
Jaber Ali (Middle East Confidential) explains,
"There are fears that the trend will continue, especially on Friday.
Analysts believe that the Shiite pilgrims will be the principal targets
of bombings and security is being beefed up around Karbala." Press TV reports
that 40,000 security forces will provide security within Karbala and
that security forces are also deployed "around the central city."
Shi'ite pilgrims "gathered in the central shrine of Karbala to
commemorate Imam Mehdi's birth, with children lighting 1,179 candles,
representing the number of years since the birth of Shiite Islam's
so-called 12th imam." Sammer N. Yacoub (AP) notes the skies of the city of Karbala were filled with 14 police helicopters and all non-security vehicles were banned. Hassoun al-Haffar (AKnews) estimated
4 million pilgrims had visited this week by Thursday alone and explain,
"Twelver Shi'a believe that al-Madhi was born in 869 and did not die
but rather was hidden by God in 941 and will later emerge with Jesus
Christ in order to fulfill their mission of bringing peace and justice
to the world."
There has been violence targeting the pilgrims throughout the week with the worst taking place Tuesday:
"The blast came just hours after near-simultaneous car bombs targeting
Shiite pilgrims on the outskirts of the central shrine city of Karbala
killed four people." Alsumaria notes
of the Karbala bombing that it hit at the popular market where fruits
and vegetables are sold, it left 11 dead and forty-five injured
(according to police sources) and that millions of Shi'ites are
expected to travel through Karbala this week to celebrate the birth of
the 12th or Hidden Imam (9th century). Jamal Hashim and Mustafa Sabah (Xinhua) report, "Karbala's
twin bombings came as hundreds of thousands of Shiite pilgrims have
started to march to the holy city to commemorate the birth of Imam
Mahdi, the last of the twelve most revered Shiite's Imams. Authorities
in Karbala expect that the number of pilgrims from Iraqi Shiite cities
and outside the country, who started to arrive to observe the ritual
ahead of its climax date on Thursday and Friday morning in Karbala will
exceed five millions."
The political crisis continues in Iraq. As a result, Moqtada al-Sadr gave a major address today at 8:00 pm Baghdad time and it was carried by satellite TV.
al-Sadr is a Shi'ite cleric whose followers include 40 MPs in
Parliament. He has has had a long and difficult relationship with
both the Bush White House and the Barack White House.
All Iraqi News reports
he declared that three presidencies should be limited to two terms.and
that this is needed to ensure that Iraq does not experience another
dictatorship. The three presidencies are the President, the Prime
Minister and the Speaker of Parliament. Such a limit would mean Jalal
Talabani, current Iraqi President, would be done as would Nouri
al-Maliki. Only Speaker Osama al-Nujaifi would be elegible for another
term. When the Arab Spring swept through the MidEast in early 2011,
Nouri al-Maliki swore that he wouldn't seek a third term. A day later,
his spokesperson modified that statement to insist he wouldn't seek a
third term if he had not achieved in his second term. Then, almost a
year later, his attorney declared there is nothing preventing Nouri from
seeking a third term. Moqtada stressed that the Iraqi people need
security and that means there needs to be a Minister of Defense,
Minister of National Security and Minister of Interior (the article
actually says Intelligence but it is Interior and this second article makes that point clear).
Nouri was supposed to nominate people to be heads of the security
ministries and have them confirmed by the end of December 2010.
Instead, Nouri has failed to do so and with violence continuing to rise,
that's a serious failure. Moqtada also discussed how Iraqis need
electricity they can count on and water they can drink and jobs, they
need jobs. Those are three demands Iraqis made when they protested
in the streets in February 2011. For those who have forgotten, this is
not just when Nouri announced he wouldn't seek a third term but also
when he announced that, if Iraqis would give him 100 days, then he would
address these issues. Moqtada asked his followers to give Nouri the
100 days. After 100 days, Nouri failed to deliver and pretended as
though he'd never made the promises.
addition, Moqtada spoke about Iraq needing to get along with neighboring
countries. Nouri has alienated Turkey -- in fact, Nouri's constant
verbal attacks and constant lies about Turkey have resulted in the
Turkish government becoming much closer to the Kurdish Regional
Government and more and more distant from the Baghdad-based government.
He's alienated the Arab neighbors and this was on display during the
Arab League Summit. Dropping back to the March 30th snapshot:
There are 22 countries in the Arab League. Hamza Hendawi and Lara Jakes (AP) put
the number of Arab League leaders who attended at 10 and they pointed
out that Qatar, Saudi Arabi, Morocco and Jordan were among those who
sent lower-level officials to the summit. Patrick Martin (Globe & Mail) explains
that Sheik Hamad Bin Jassem Bin Jabr Al Thani (Prime Minister of Qatar)
declared on television that Qatar's "low level of representation" was
meant to send "a 'message' to Iraq' majority Shiites to stop what he
called the marginalization of its minority Sunnis." Yussef Hamza (The National) offers,
"Iraq has looked to the summit, the first it has hosted in a
generation, to signal its emergence from years of turmoil, American
occupation and isolation. It wanted the summit to herald its return to
the Arab fold. But the large number of absentees told a different
story." That's reality.
And let's deal with reality such as when people talk about things that they don't know s**t about. Social Media Queen Jane Arraf Tweeted with her male followers about the speech:
second one? If you click "expand" you'll find a man (of course,
Twitter's nothing but online dating apparently who ridicules Moqtada's
idea about a corruption.
He has to ridicule it
because, see, he wrote an 'analysis' that was published today and it
turned to s**t the minute Moqtada started speaking. Again, these
so-called 'experts' really aren't experts. They don't what they're
talking about, I have no idea how our world got so screwed up that these
people get to speak.
But did Moqtada say what Jane says he did?
Jane, you should embarrassed and ashamed of yourself.
The fact that you have X number of characters in Twitter is no excuse.
Moqtada stated about corruption was that it needed to be addressed with
a full government assault -- including executive orders, including
judicial committees, including Parliament and new bodies that are not
about partisanship, ethnicity or ideology.
sorry that someone offered masturbation in text form and it was
published today and that their hypothesis about Moqtada -- not "theory,"
theories can be tested with certain expected results -- turned out to
be trash. And if you'd own that, I wouldn't even be mentioning it. I
saw that piece of garbage this morning and chose to ignore it. But if
you're going to make little jokes implying that Moqtada doesn't know
what he's talking about, you're begging for someone to say you're full
And Jane Arraf did an awful job in
'reporting.' This was a major speech. We'll be returning to it on
Monday. Two Tweets? That's embarrassing. That the second one leaves
the wrong impression, distorts what he said, that's bad journalism.
In other political news, Karwan Yusuf (AK News) reports
that rumors of Saleh al-Mutlaq replacing Ayad Allawi as the leader of
Iraqya have been called "baseless" in a statement Iraqiya sent out which
notes that the false rumors are meant to weaken Iraqiya. The rumors
never should have had traction. Allawi is Shi'ite. al-Mutlaq is
Sunni. Iraqiya is a mixed slate but with the crisis in Iraq having a
Shi'ite as a leader gave them a credibility with other blocs that
al-Mutlaq wouldn't have. In addition, al-Mutlaq was not allowed to run
in 2010 because Nouri's Justice and Accountability Commission was
calling him a Ba'athist. (His name was only cleared at the end of
2010.) Saleh al-Mutlaq as a leader could easily be dimissed as he
unfairly was in 2010. As we've noted many times before, Nouri's State
of Law excells at rumors. Little else.
haven't covered this but, as usual, State of Law tries to distract. So
they've got a 'movement' to question Speaker of Parliament Osama
al-Nujaifi who they have spread rumors about (specifically he allegedly
has millions -- over 20 million dollars -- and they want to know where
it came from). That they want to distract with. And they may succeed.
Nouri has a lot of enablers in the press and certainly in the United
States. But you really don't expect to see the always
Party rush to prop up Nouri. This is truly a very sad moment but it
does explain why the Communist Party is and has been meaningless in
Iraqi politics. 'They opposed Saddam Hussein!' Yes, they did. With
the same sort of weak-spined opposition they've offered Nouri. They
apparently exist solely to mislead the Iraqi people into believing there
is a token of opposition in the country.
First off, it's twenty billion, not twenty million, I was wrong. This evening All Iraqi News reported
that Osama al-Nujaifi's office has issued a statement calling out the
slander and distortions about him and that he may resort to the court to
stop malicious slander. All Iraqi News notes he did not
identify what the slander was. He may be referring to the twenty
billion rumor. He may be referring to something else. State of Law has
a made a point to spread one rumor after another about their political
The last weeks have seen some achievements for Iraq on the world stage. Zakaria Muhammed (Kurdish Globe) reports
Ahmed Maeed, whose professional name is Ahmed Rambo, now holds the post
of president of the World Amateur Body Building Association branch of
Iraq. Muhammed explains:
began lifting weights in 1988. He didn't tell his parents who had taken
a dim view of the sport, regarding it as alien to Kurdish culture and
tradition. Within two years, Majeed had won gold in the Iraqi
Bodybuilding Championships in the 75 kilo category.
this time, he had earned his nickname for resembling Sylvester Stallone
and wearing bandanas on his head like the American actor's Rambo
Majeed left Iraqi Kurdistan in
1995 to escape the bitter Kurdish civil war, but continued to compete
successfully in Germany. He returned in 2004, and led a group of
Kurdish bodybuilders to the 2009 Asian Bodybuilding Championships in
Rudaw: What do you want to tell Ranya and its women?
To all women in Kurdistan, not only those in Ranya, I want to say that
we are very pretty and smart women. Don't hide that. Step forward. Care
about your beauty but also care about your inner self. If you are
beautiful inside, then you will look beautiful on the outside as well.
Everybody is beautiful.
Do you feel that Kurdish women cannot advance because of tradition?
What do you tell parents who do not allow their girls to step forward?
I want to say I am very proud of my parents because they allow me to do
many things. I want to open the road for Kurdish girls because I know
that, if the road is opened for them, they will feel proud about their
parents and advance.
Rudaw: Have you had any plastic surgery?
No. There was a plastic surgeon at the contest (judge panel). But I
have not had any plastic surgery, and I believe if I'd had even a small
amount of surgery, I wouldn't have won.
Al Bawaba observes,
"Beauty pageants have been absent from Iraq for decades. During the
time of the monarchy, which was overthrown in 1958, they were held in
social clubs, especially in the southern port city of Basra."
Going back to the United States, Saturday, Austin, Texas will see a parade. Tara Merrigan (Austin American-Statesman) reports,
"The parade, which will start at 9 a.m. at the Congress Avenue Bridge
and end at the Capitol, will include the 36th Division Infantry Band
from Camp Mabry, a Reserve Officers' Training Corps color guard from
Westwood High School, motorcycle clubs, muscle car clubs and a roller
derby club. The event will feature veterans from the Iraq War and
previous wars." This will be followed by a veterans jobs fair. The
following day it's Portsmouth, New Hampshire's turn. Laurenne Ramsdell (Foster's Daily Democrat) notes,
"The Welcome Home Parade will proceed from Junkins Avenue onto
Pleasant Street, then onto State Street, Wright Avenue, Daniels Street
and then through Market Square. The parade will continue onto Congress
Street and Fleet Street before it loops back toward Junkins Avenue."
This Sunday parade will also be followed by a jobs fair, held in "the
lower parking lot at City Hall." These are among the many parades that
have been taking place across the country. If you know of one in your
area, feel free to note in an e-mail and it will be included here. A
parade in Alabama did not go so well recently and it's thought that one
of the reasons was lack of awareness that it was taking place.
In Iraq, the political crisis continues. Karwan Yusuf (AK News) reports
that rumors of Saleh al-Mutlaq replacing Ayad Allawi as the leader of
Iraqya have been called "baseless" in a statement Iraqiya sent out
which notes that the false rumors are meant to weaken Iraqiya. The
rumors never should have had traction. Allawi is Shi'ite. al-Mutlaq
is Sunni. Iraqiya is a mixed slate but with the crisis in Iraq having
a Shi'ite as a leader gave them a credibility with other blocs that
al-Mutlaq wouldn't have. In addition, al-Mutlaq was not allowed to run
in 2010 because Nouri's Justice and Accountability Commission was
calling him a Ba'athist. (His name was only cleared at the end of
2010.) Saleh al-Mutlaq as a leader could easily be dimissed as he
unfairly was in 2010. As we've noted many times before, Nouri's State
of Law excells at rumors. Little else.
Nouri is currently pushing a Reform Commission. Is it for real? Well
Nouri is still facing a potential no-confidence vote in Parliament. In
the past, when Nouri was pushed into a corner and made 'concessions'
what happened? Nothing.
Like an angry toddler, he dug in with his tantrum and exhausted the patience of all around him.
That's been true with regards to his demands to have a second term as
prime minister (causing the eight month Political Stalemate I), that's
been true of his refusal to stick to the Erbil Agreement, that's been
true of his attempt to diffuse the protests last year with his "give me
100 days and I will address corruption," . . . On and on, it's his
pattern. Lie, make a false promise for some point in the future to
diffuse the current anger and never keep your promise.
All Iraqi News reports
that the National Alliance is saying that the Reform Commission doesn't
need Nouri's word or permission for changes because this is a
Constitutional issue. Have these people never met Nouri al-Maliki?
Meanwhile Alsumaria reports
that Abbas al-Bayati, part of Nouri's State of Law, insists there will
be three phases of the Reform Commission. Yeah, it's looking like this
is going to be another
Or as a friend in the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs said to me on
the phone this morning, "Where's [Iraqi President Jalal] Talbani? If
this were really the solution it's being sold as, don't you think
Talabani would be back in Iraq crowing about how this was a victory and
attempting to take credit?"
A very good point.
Instead, he remains in Germany and his PUK has had to distance themselves from him. And now from Adel Murad as well. All Iraqi News reports
the PUK has issued a statement noting member Adel Murad speaks for
himself and not the party. Murad came out in support of Nouri and
early elections. This upset the PUK and KRG President Massoud
Barzani's KDP political party.
Saturday, Austin, Texas will see a parade. Tara Merrigan (Austin American-Statesman) reports, "The parade, which will start at 9 a.m. at the Congress Avenue Bridge and
end at the Capitol, will include the 36th Division Infantry Band from
Camp Mabry, a Reserve Officers' Training Corps color guard from Westwood
High School, motorcycle clubs, muscle car clubs and a roller derby
club. The event will feature veterans from the Iraq War and previous
wars." This will be followed by a veterans jobs fair. The following day it's Portsmouth, New Hampshire's turn. Laurenne Ramsdell (Foster's Daily Democrat) notes,
"The Welcome Home Parade will proceed from Junkins Avenue onto Pleasant
Street, then onto State Street, Wright Avenue, Daniels Street and then
through Market Square. The parade will continue onto Congress Street
and Fleet Street before it loops back toward Junkins Avenue." This
Sunday parade will also be followed by a jobs fair, held in "the lower
parking lot at City Hall." These are among the many parades that have
been taking place across the country. If you know of one in your area,
feel free to note in an e-mail and it will be included here. A parade
in Alabama did not go so well recently and it's thought that one of the
reasons was lack of awareness that it was taking place.
Iraq War and Afghanistan War veterans and contractors who do return to
the US face a variety of obstacles including readjustment, the lousy
job market and much more. Many also have to address injuries. One
group returns often unaware of their injury or with it unrecognized.
That's a group who were exposed to burn pits overseas. The burn pits
were used to burn all waste -- including medical, including car
batteries, everything. The exposure to the fumes have seriously harmed
many. In 2009, following the work done by then-Senator Byron Dorgan
and the Democratic Policy Committee on this issue, DPC members
then-Senator Evan Bayh championed a federal registry for burn pit
victims. His bill never got out of Committee despite strong efforts on
In the Senate currently, Senator Mark Udall champions the Burn Pit Registery and we'll note his remarks at the June 13th Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hearing;
Senator Mark Udall: Sitting in the audience today is
Master Sergeant Jessey Baca a member of the New Mexico Air National
Guard and his wife Maria. [to them] Just give everybody a waive here,
you two. Master Sgt. Baca was stationed in Balad, Iraq and exposed to
burn pits. His journey to be here today was not easy. He has battled
cancer, chronic bronchitis, chemical induced asthma, brain lesions, TBI,
PTSD and numerous other ailments. Maria has traveled that difficult
road with him. They know first hand the suffering caused by burn pits
and they need to know the answers. It is because of them and so many
others like them that we are here today. Last year, I introduced S. 1798,
the Open Burn Pits Registry Act with Senator Corker. Representative
Todd Akin introduced it in the House. It is not a partisan issue. We
have each met with veterans and active duty members of the military and
they have told us how important it is that we act now. In both
Afghanistan and Iraq, open air burn pits were widely used at forward
operating bases. Disposing of trash and other debris was a major
challenge. Commanders had to find a way to dispose of waste while
concentrating on the important mission at hand. The solution that was
chosen, however, had serious risks. Pits of waste were set on fire --
sometimes using jet fuel for ignition. Some burn pits were small but
others covered multiple acres of land. Often times, these burn pits
would turn the sky black. At Joint Base Balad Iraq, over 10 acres of
land were used for burning toxic debris. At the height of its
operations, Balad hosted approximately 25,000 military, civilian and
coalition provision authority personnel. These personnel would be
exposed to a toxic soup of chemicals released into the atmosphere.
According to air quality measurements, the air at Balad had multiple
particulates harmful to humans: Plastics and Styrofoams, metals,
chemicals from paints and solvents, petroleum and lubricants, jet fuel
and unexploded ordnance, medical and other dangerous wastes. The air
samples at Joint Base Balad turned up some nasty stuff. Particulate
matter, chemicals that form from the incomplete burning of coal, oil and
gas garbage or other organic substances, volatile organic compounds
such as acetone and benzene -- benzene, as you all know, is known to
cause leukemia -- and dioxins which are associated with Agent Orange.
According to the American Lung Association, emissions from burning waste
contain fine particulate matter, sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide,
volatile organic compounds and various irritant gases such as nitrogen
oxides that can scar the lungs. All of this was in the air and being
inhaled into the lungs of service members. Our veterans have slowly
begun to raise the alarm as they learn why -- after returning home --
they are short of breath or experiencing headaches and other symptoms
and, in some cases, developing cancer. Or to put it more simply, by
Maria Baca, when she describes her husband's symptoms, "When he
breathes, he can breathe in, but he can't breathe out. That's the
problem that he's having. It feels like a cactus coming out of his
chest. He feels these splinters and he can't get rid of them." The
Dept of Army has also confirmed the dangers posed by burn pits. In a
memo from April 15, 2011, Environmental Science Engineering Officer, G.
Michael Pratt, wrote an air quality summary on Baghram Airfield. And I
would respectfully ask that the full memo be included in the record.
Referring to the burn pits near Baghram Airfield, he said there was
potential that "long-term exposure at these level may experience the
risk for developing chronic health conditions such as reduced lung
function or exacerbated chronic bronchitis, chronic obstructive
pulmonary disease, asthma, atherosclerosis and other cardio pulmonary
diseases. Many of our service members are coming home with
these symptoms. I believe, like you do, Madam Chair, that we are
forever in debt for their service, so we must ask the question, "How did
these burn pits impact the health of our returning heroes?" This bill
is a step towards finding the answers we owe them. The legislation will
establish and maintain and Open Burn Pit Registry for those individuals
who may have been exposed during their military service. It would
include information in this registry that the Secretary of the VA
determines is applicable to possible health effects of this exposure.
develop a public information campaign to inform individuals about the
registry and periodically notify members of the registry of significant
developments associated with burn pits exposure. It is supported by
numerous groups including BurnPits 360,
Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Association of US Navy, Retired Enlisted
Association, the Uniformed Services Disabled Retirees and the National
Military Family Association. Madam Chair and Ranking Member Burr, thank
you for your attention to this important issue. I look forward to
working with both of you and members of your distinguished Committee on
this important legislation. Thank you and a pleasure once again to be
with you today.
In the House, Todd Akin fights for burn pit registry. Rick Maze (Navy Times) reported
last Friday that Akin's bill had made it out of the House Veterans
Affairs Health Subcommittee and was headed for a full Committee vote.
That remains the status this week. Information on burn pit issues can
be found at BurnPits360.
The following community sites -- plus Ms. magazine blog, Cindy
Sheehan, Tavis Smiley, Susan's On The Edge, Antiwar.com, Jody Watley
and Pacifica Evening News -- updated last night and this morning:
As we noted last Sunday,
the Green Party USA held their political convention (in Chicago) and
nominated Cynthia McKinney to be their candidate for president. The
convention started the Friday before. For any wondering, the four-day
convention finally got a 'shout-out' on Monday's Democracy Now!
As a headline. Not a segment. A political party of the left holds a
national convention, has many speakers -- many of whom are running for
offices -- and it's reduced to a headline.
It is expected that Jill Stein,
who more than leads in the delegate count will be the next Green Party
presidential candidate. She has qualified for matching funds and
earlier this week her campaign released the following video.
Despite reports Tuesday that the Independent High Electoral Commission had postponed provincial elections, Alsumaria reported
yesterday that the commission denied to them that the elections are
postponed, that they need six months notice to prepare for the
elections and that March 17th would be their own ideal figure. They
state that they have not postponed the elections but that the failure
to name the new commissioners or renew the current ones is causing a
delay. So it appears that the provincial elections are postponed but
not by the commission.
The electoral commission is also not responsible for the banning of birds and eggs. Alsumaria reports
that the Council of Ministers banned importing eggs and birds from 18
countries including Cambodia, India, China, Egypt, Vietnam, Japan,
South Africa, Australia, Nepal and Sri Lanka. The states reason is
fear of Bird Flu (Avian Influenza). Though Bird Flu is no longer in
the headlines, June 7th, the World Health Organization announced "a new case of human infection with avian influenza A(H5N1) virus." WHO also passed on:
The Centre for Health Protection of the Department of Health, Hong
Kong, China, has reported a human case of avian influenza A(H5N1) virus
infection. The case is a 2 year-old male from Guangzhou City,
Guangdong province. He developed symptoms on 23 May 2012 in Guangdong
province and went to a private clinic in Hong Kong, China, on 26 May
2012. He developed febrile convulsion and was transferred to a hospital
on 28 May 2012 and was laboratory confirmed as A(H5N1) on 2 June 2012.
His condition remains serious and he remains hospitalized.
In other medical news, Dar Addustour reports
that six people in Nasiriyah, while undergoing eye exams, were exposed
to some form of bacteria that is still unknown at this time but that
resulted in their being blinded.
A lot of people seem to believe Moqtada al-Sadr has changed his
position. There's nothing he's said that's changed his position. He
appears to be taken the issue of questioning very seriously. And would
appear to be presenting himself as impartial and reluctant. That's been
his position all along. Is Nouri going to appear before Parliament for
questioning? If he follows the Constitution, yes. There's not X
number needed for questioning. He has been asked to appear. Whether he does or not, per the Constitution, he has to. If he does,
per Moqtada's statements, an opinion will be formed based on Nouri's
answers. If the answers are not satisifactory, Moqtada -- with a heavy
heart and great reluctantce -- would have his bloc vote for
no-confidence if the others got their required votes. As Al Mada reports
today, the vote is currently postponed because, among other reasons,
Jalal Talabani remains out of the country (that reason comes from the
Sadr bloc). I know Nouri's lackeys in the US -- non-governmental -- insist this is a
change of position but this has been Moqtada's position since April
28th. I guess not reading Arabic leaves them left out -- and makes them
offer ridiculous comments like the first All Iraqi News article we
linked to? No lawyer for Nouri speaks or is quoted or is referenced in
that article. No matter what an idiot who worships Nouri and is 'buds'
with Jane and Prashant Tweeted. In fact, if Jane Arraf and Prashant Rao
had any sense, they would have Tweeted back, "Uh, learn Arabic, that's
not what the article says." But that's not how a circle-jerk works, is
it? [And here's a helping hand for the idiot -- this is an All iraqi News article where Nouri's attorney speaks. This is.
The one you Tweeted yesterday wasn't. And this article was published
today. Not published when you Tweeted so don't try to pretend you meant
to Tweet something else, you dumb ass.]
the issue is collecting signatures, we can now collect enough. But when
it comes to voting, I don’t know who will vote in favor of the case or
not. Therefore, until the actual voting takes place, we won’t have a
clear view on the issue,” Hussein added.
Sattar Bayati, a senior official from Sadr’s faction in Iraqi
Parliament, confirms their stance on the issue, saying they have not
given up on the attempt to unseat Maliki.
must be removed from office. Whenever 124 votes in favor of withdrawing
confidence are collected, we will add the other 40 votes needed. His
Excellency Muqtada Sadr has already said this.” Bayati said.
Wait! What! The Twittering monkeys were all wrong?
Again and again and again.
I have no idea why so-called 'experts' get to remain billed as such
when they're repeatedly wrong. And it must be very frustrating for
them that they are so wrong so often when me -- not the brightest
person in the room -- has repeatedly avoided the hype. But then,
unlike gas bags, I know how to listen and store information. I also
know how to analyze information (and in that regard, I am ahead of the
curve, only in that last regard).
So in other words, the 'experts' and the reporters and 'reporters' who
passed on their 'wisdom' were wrong. We have been correct what is
taking place in Iraq and we've done mainly by ignoring the 'experts'
and instead relying on friend in diplomatic circles and with the UN.
Alsumaria notes that Iraqiya is stating that the Parliament will beging to set the stage for the questioning of Nouri next week.
Kitabat offers an essay
by Ibrahim al-Zubaidi that postulates Iraq is not a country. What is
it? It's over a million armed forces controlled by Nouri al-Maliki.
It's a land ruled by force despite having a president and a
parliament. Jalal Talabani, the president, is someone who has been
biased towards Nouri from the beginning, he is not neutral despite
repeated attempts to portray himself as such, the essay argues. He
refuses to stand and lead as the president in any other country would,
the essay continues, and Iraq is in a state of anarchy.
Nouri is still eyeing Diyala Province. He's already had nearly 100
people arrested there this week. All 'terrorists,' of course. He's
now threatening that security breaches must be addressed.
In Iraq, there is no let up in the violence. Alsumaria reports
a suicide bomber went into a Mosul shopping mall and blew himself up
also killing 4 other people and leaving twelve more injured. As
ambulances rushed the injured to the hospital, security forces closed
down the area. In addition, Trend News Agency reports a car bombing in Baghdad which left four people injured. Bushra Juhi (AP) reports
that local government official Ali Abdul-Amir's Baghdad home has bombed
resulting in the deaths of his wife and their two daughters while he
and two sons were left injured.
Through yesterday, Iraq Body Count counts 88 people killed from July 1st through the 4th.
Kay Johnson and Lara Jakes (AP) observe,
"Part of the problem is the dysfunctional Iraqi government that, so far
this year, has failed to protect its public or settle internal power
squabbles." Which is much better than yesterday when the press floated
that guns were coming into Iraq from Syria (a hypothesis that went
against everything the press and US government had said for months
It is with very deep
regret that the Ministry of Defence has to confirm that Lance-Corporal
Thomas Richard Keys was killed in action in southern Iraq on 24 June
2003 whilst serving with 156 Provost Company, Royal Military Police.
Aged 20, he came from Llanuwchllyn, near Bala in Wales, and was single. He joined the Army in August 1998, initially serving with 1st
Battalion, The Parachute Regiment. He transferred to the RMP and joined
156 Provost Company in January 2002. He had served on operations in
Sierra Leone and Northern Ireland and deployed to Jamaica on exercise. A
popular soldier, Thomas was a fully trained paratrooper and physical
training instructor who played football for the Company. His funeral service, with full military honours, was held at St John's Church in Barmouth on 14 July.
The Jarrow & Hebburn Gazette reports
Pat Long, Keys' mother, is petitioning the court "for a fresh
independent inquiry into her son's death "by a mob of Iraqis at a
police station in Majar-al-Kabir." The British troops had "little
ammunition" and an out of date radio/walkie talkie that "was completely
useless in a built-up area and could only be used in open fileds." ITV explains
the Secretary of Defence Philip Hammond has thus far refused to grant a
fresh inquest and so Pat Long has taken the issue to the High Court.
WASHINGTON, DC -- Green Party candidates and leaders said today that the
Supreme Court's ruling upholding the 2010 Affordable Care Act (ACA)
should not distract Americans from the demand for real health care
reform -- Medicare For All.
Greens said that Medicare For All (single-payer national health care)
will expand on the beneficial parts of the ACA and extend the guarantee
of quality health care to every American, while solving its
deficiencies, especially the unpopular individual mandate. Greens
support expanded and improved Medicare For All, to include dental,
vision, hearing, nutritional counseling, and proactive medicine, without
co-pays, deductibles, and "doughnut holes."
Medicare For All would cover all Americans, provide full choice of
physician and hospital, and cut costs dramatically: current Medicare
administrative overhead is only 3%, while for-profit health insurance
administrative overhead is as high as 30%. The Green Party also supports
efforts to enact statewide single-payer legislation in many states.
The Green Party is preparing for its 2012 National Convention in
Baltimore, Md., July 12-15. Baltimore has one of the premier hospitals
in the country, Johns Hopkins, but too many Baltimore residents remain
without access to health care. Andrew Straw, Green candidate for the US House of Representatives in Indiana, 2nd District (http://www.strawforcongress.com):
"While many people are celebrating the court's decision upholding the
insurance mandate, we should remember that the mandate is a direct
public subsidy to sustain and enrich the health insurance industry and
maintain its bureaucratic control over our medical system. We urge
Americans to support Medicare For All, which will remove for-profit
insurance companies from the system, along with the excessive profits
and CEO salaries that keep driving up medical costs. The ACA doesn't
give us universal coverage -- at least 26 million people will remain
uninsured. It doesn't control skyrocketing costs and won't stop people
from going into financial ruin because of a medical emergency. The
Court's decision furthermore overruled expansion of Medicaid coverage,
which could push millions more Americans out of coverage. That's why we
need Medicare For All." Audrey Clement, Green candidate for Arlington County Board in Virginia (http://www.AudreyClement.org) and co-chair of the Green Party of the United States:
"We shouldn't forget that the individual mandate is a Republican idea
that the Obama Administration coopted -- along with many other
Republican ideas and goals since his election. The mandate was
introduced by the rightwing Heritage Foundation and promoted nationally
by Republicans during the 1990s. It was the basis of Gov. Romney's
statewide health care reform plan in Massachusetts. President Obama
embraced the mandate idea to win the support of the powerful insurance
lobbies for the ACA and pay them back for contributing record-high
contributions to his campaign. The health care debate has been rigged
all along so that, whether the ACA passed and survived a court challenge
or the GOP succeeded in blocking it, the biggest winners would be the
health insurance bureaucracy and other corporate health care lobbies." Darryl! Moch, co-chair of the Green Party of the United States:
"What we need is a health care system that promotes healthy living from a
holistic approach that includes prevention. The best way to save money
and health care costs is to prevent illnesses in the first place or at
least with proper prevention methods to lessen the severity should an
illness occur. Medicare For All gives government a stake in promoting
prevention and healthy living for all Americans. The Green Party offers
the kind of medicine that we need -- a system that does not depend on
wealthy corporations to provide insurance. It's a system that guarantees
that everyone in the US has the same quality care currently enjoyed by
the President, Congress, and the Supreme Court justices (and their
families) and funded by taxpayers and hardworking people in this
country." Ursula Rozum, Green candidate for the US House in Syracuse, in New York's 24th District (http://www.ursulaforcongress.com):
"We must make health care a right for all Americans. Instead of making
health care a right, President Obama and Congress confirmed the notion
that expanded coverage is only worth pursuing if the profits of
insurance companies, pharmaceutical manufacturers, and other health care
corporations can be guaranteed. That's why health insurance industry
representatives were invited to help write the legislation. The
Affordable Care Act will help many Americans -- but millions will be
left out in the cold. It is ultimately a victory for the idea that no
reform is desirable without an assurance that corporate profits will be
maintained or increased. The Green Party says that human needs must
overrule corporate profits and that for-profit insurance companies must
be removed from our health care system." See also:
"The Green Party urges the Supreme Court to strike down the Affordable
Care Act's health insurance mandates, sees a chance for Medicare For
Green Party press release, March 5, 2012 http://www.gp.org/press/pr-national.php?ID=487
Isaiah's latest The World Today Just Nuts
"Little Dicky Loves Bad Boys." Little Dicky returns to declare, "Hey
everybody. It's me your old friend Little Dicky. And it's that time
again. Time to vote for the Lord and Master of my wet dreams. Some of
you complain that Barack's killing people -- even children -- with his Drone War.
I say that just gives him a bad boy edge. Me loves the bad boys!"
Little Dicky hasn't appeared in awhile so let's note he previously
appeared here, here, here, here, here, here, here. and here. Isaiah archives his comics at The World Today Just Nuts.
Violence continued in Iraq today. Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) notes
3 "Iraqi officials" were shot dead today and a Taji roadside bombing
left six people injured while a Zubaidiya car bombing claimed 8 lives
and left twenty-five people injured. AFP notes
the 3 shot dead in Baghdad: "policewoman Ibtisam Ibrahim[, . . .]
police First Lt Ahmed Swadi [and] employee at Iraq's parliament, Farhan
Kadhim Mussa." Alsumaria notes a Baquba roadside bombing injured three people. Yesterday saw violence as well and Margaret Griffis (Antiwar.com) counts 63 dead and 152 injured on Tuesday.
My worry is that progress is tenuous and reversible. If we were keeping
troops in Iraq past Dec. 31, the chances of Iraq achieving its full
potential would be much greater. As things stand now, the prospects of a
catastrophic failure have gone up. But there is still a chance of Iraq
developing as a model for the "Arab Spring", thereby redeeming the great
sacrifices made by so many to defeat the extremists who threatened its
Violence has increased and has been increasing. But, check our
archives, we said this would happen as well when US forces left. We
said that over and over. As someone opposed to the illegal war and
occupation, I didn't feel the need to lie. I know that's uncommon
because so many in the Cult of St. Barack think they can lie and then
run from their lies. (Such as: "I am against illegal spying! Using
drones to kill innocent people is outrageous!" -- positions they held
when Bully Boy Bush was in office but have set aside, cloaked and hidden
now that Barack is in the White House.) The US installed a puppet
regime. The minute US forces left in any large number, violence would
increase. That's a given. And I'm not psychic for knowing that. It's
the historical pattern. I have no idea why Max Boot feels he's done
something amazing by noting what historically happens over and over.
Next up: Max Boot proclaims, "I was right! The sun did rise this
Max Boot and I are on the opposite side of every issue but if his post
on violence is about his never getting credit for being right, as his
political enemy, I will say Max Boot has been right many times. He's
been more right since Barack became President of the United States and
that's because he no longer feels the need to spin and fawn for an
administration. It's a shame he couldn't have lost that desire when a
Republican occupied the White House. But he has been right about Iraq
many times since he gave up his post in the Court of Bully Boy Bush.
Chair Jason Chaffetz: The State Dept has greatly expanded its footprint in Iraq. There are approximately 2,000 direct-hire personnel and 14,000 support contractors -- roughly a seven-to-one ratio. This includes 7,000 private security contractors to guard our facilities and move personnel throughout Iraq. Leading up to the withdrawal, the State Dept's mission seemed clear. Ambassador Patrick Kennedy
testified that the diplomatic mission was "designed to maximize
influence in key locations." And later said, "State will continue the police development programs moving beyond basic policing skills to provide police forces with the capabilities to uphold the rule of law. The Office of Security Cooperation will help close gaps in Iraq's security forces capabilities through security assistance and cooperation." This is an unprecedented mission for the State Dept. Nonetheless, our diplomatic corps has functioned without the protections of a typical host nation. It's also carried on without troop support that many believed it would have. As a result, the Embassy spends roughly 93% of its budget on security alone. Without a doubt, this is an enormously complex and difficult mission. Six months into the transition, the Congress must assess whether the administration is accomplishing its mission? While the State Dept has made progress, it appears to be facing difficult challenges in a number of areas. The Oversight Committee has offered some criticism based on their testimony today. Including the
Government Accountability Office noting that the State and Defense
Dept's security capabilities are not finalized. The Special Inspector General for Iraqi Reconstruction states that, "Thousands of projects completed by the United States and transferred to the government of Iraq will not be sustained and thus will fail to meet their intended purposes." The Defense Dept's Inspector General's Office explains that the lack of Status of Forces Agreement has impacted land use agreements, force protection, passport visa requirements, air and ground movement and our foreign military sales program. And the
US AID Inspector General's office testifies, "According to US AID
mission, the security situation has hampered its ability to monitor programs. Mission personnel are only occassionaly able to travel to the field for site visits." Embassy personnel have also told Committee staff that the United States government has difficulty registering its vehicles with the Iraqi government and Iraqis have stood up checkpoints along supply lines. According to one embassy official, the team must dispatch a liason to "have tea and figure out how we're going to get our trucks through." These are just some of the challenges the State Dept is facing in Iraq today. Perhaps as a result of these conditions, Mission Iraq appears to be evolving. In an effort to be more efficient, the State Dept is evaluating its footprint, reducing personnel and identifying possible reductions. This rapid change in strategy, however, raises a number of questions. Are we on the
right track? Are we redefining the mission? What should we expect in
the coming months? And, in hindsight, was this a well managed
The Subcommittee heard about it being impossible for Americans to check
on the various costly projects the US taxpayers continue paying for (so
there is no direct US supervision) and that there was a failure to get
lease agreements so that most of the facilities could be lost. (Only 5
of 14 have land lease agreements, as the US Government Accountability
Office's Michael Courts testified.)) This matters because? It matters
because of the money the US government is spending -- taxpayer money --
in Iraq. US House Rep Blake Farenthold conveyed his displeasure to the
State Dept's Patrick Kennedy over the fact that the Police College Annex
in Baghdad was a US facility that cost US taxpayers "more than $100
million in improvements to the site" only to "be turned over to Iraq for
free" as a result of the US not securing a land lease. And don't
forget that last week, Walter Pincus (Washington Post via Stars and Stripes) reported, "The State Department is planning to spend as much as $115 million to
upgrade the U.S. Embassy compound in Baghdad, already its biggest and
most expensive in the world, according to pre-solicitation notices
published this month. Remember, it has been 3 1/2 years since
American diplomats moved into the 104-acre, $700 million facility and
only four months after State Department officials in February talked
about trying to cut back the U.S. presence there."
I'm actually going to do three entries. I thought I could pull
everything in here but that's not the case. So there will be one more
entry from me.
Kitabat reports the central and south Iraq are plagued by dust storms today with predictions that they will continue tomorrow.
As obscured as the physical view is the political view with the crisis continuing. Alsumaria reports that
Nouri has ordered raids and arrests in Diyala Province. Baquba is the
capital and it borders Iran in the north. It is predominately Sunni
with a signficiant number of Shi'ites Kurds and Turkmen. "Home to
every major sect and ethnicity of Iraq," the Institute for the Study of War has noted. The organization also noted:
Shia and Kurdish power blocs saw the organization of the Sunnis into
legitimized security forces in Diyala as a threat to their strategic
interests within a critical province. In response to the IIPs growing
power, Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki created the Diyala Support Council
(DSC) in mid-2007 in an attempt to influence Diyala from
Baghdad. Further, Maliki employed the ISF to reduce the strength of
Sunni power bloc in Diyala by arresting hundreds of Sunni fighters and
ejecting Popular Committee leaders from their offices. Lastly, in
February of 2008, Prime Minister Maliki won the approval of the
Government of Iraq to form Tribal Support Councils (TSC) throughout
Iraq. The Diyala TSCs allowed Maliki to check growing Sunni influence
within the province and play one Sunni group off another, effectively
preventing the Sunnis from creating a single, consolidated political
With at least 13 arrested in Diyala today and security sources telling
Alsumaria that 20 more have been arrested in Diyala already this month,
chances are the arrests will be seen as part of Nouri al-Maliki's
continued attack on Iraq's Sunni population.
The arrests come as Diyala official (and Iraqiya member) Nahida Daini is calling
for the Baghdad government to keep their promise regarding the Sahwa
(Awakenings, Sons Of Iraq, Daughters Of Iraq) and integrating them into
the central government's forces. She states that Sahwa's role in
allowing Iraq to function was pivotal and that they must be brought
into the process. This was supposed to happen. It never has.
(Despite Brett McGurk's lies to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee
last month.) General David Petreaus credited the Sahwa with helping to
turn things around. At the April 8, 2008 Senate Armed Services hearing when Gen David Petraeus, then the top US commander in Iraq, was explaining Sahwa.
his opening remarks, Petraues explained of the "Awakening" Council (aka
"Sons of Iraq," et al) that it was a good thing "there are now over
91,000 Sons of Iraq -- Shia as well as Sunni -- under contract to help
Coalition and Iraqi Forces protect their neighborhoods and secure
infrastructure and roads. These volunteers have contributed
significantly in various areas, and the savings in vehicles not lost
because of reduced violence -- not to mention the priceless lives saved
-- have far outweighed the cost of their monthly contracts." Again, the
US must fork over their lunch money, apparently, to avoid being beat
How much lunch money is the US
forking over? Members of the "Awakening" Council are paid, by the US, a
minimum of $300 a month (US dollars). By Petraeus' figures that mean
the US is paying $27,300,000 a month. $27 million a month is going to
the "Awakening" Councils who, Petraeus brags, have led to "savings in
vehicles not lost".
Hassan Zaidi remains impisoned. He's a journalist. Nouri, of course,
denied that any journalists are held in Iraqi prisons. A communiy
member in Anbar asked that we note this and notes there is little press
coverage of it. She states that the government keeps promising that
Zaidi will be released shortly. Again, Nouri al-Maliki flat out lied last Thursday when he denied any journalists were in Iraqi prisons. Hassan is imprisoned for 'passport falsification.' Yeah, it sounds like trumped up charges.
Ibrahim al-Jaafari, meanwhile, turns himself into a laughingstock. Dar Addustour reports
that he's declaring all these grand accomplishments that the Reform
Commission will be responsible for including the appointment of a
Minister of Defense and a Minister of Interior. Maybe that will
happen, maybe it won't. Probably not a good idea to be promising it
will or to declare that the Reform Commission is a replacement to the
no-confidence vote on Nouri. al-Jaafari was never part of that
movement and can't speak for it with any degree of accuracy.
Dar Addustour notes
that Nouri's also insisting that the tourism sector must be revitalized
in Iraq. The biggest obstacle to that remains Nouri. No one wants to
travel to the land of Stalin, Pol Pot and Saddam. But that's Nouri's
That Maliki has an authoritarian streak
has been amply demonstrated over the past 4 1/2 years, critics say.
Maliki, originally selected in 2006 as a compromise candidate assumed to
be weak and malleable, has proved to be a tough and ruthless political
operator who cannily subverted parliament to cement his authority over
many of the new democracy's fledgling institutions. In his role as
commander in chief of the armed forces, he replaced divisional army
commanders with his appointees, brought provincial command centers under
his control and moved to dominate the intelligence agencies. The
widely feared Baghdad Brigade, which answers directly to Maliki's
office, has frequently been used to move against his political
opponents. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have accused him
of operating secret prisons in which Sunni suspects have been tortured.