"The Third Hotel by Laura Van Den Berg" -- Trina.
"T.J. Berry's Space Unicorn Blues" -- Marcia.
"HELLO GORGEOUS by William Mann" -- Stan.
"CLEOPATRA: HISTORIES, DREAMS AND DISTORTIONS" -- Mike.
"Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M.: Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany's and the Dawn of the Modern Woman Paperback" -- Ann.
"No one Peter Bogdanovich knows is ever gay" -- Marcia.
"Dusty (by Karen Bartlett)" -- Marcia.
"Judy Garland (the biographies)" -- Kat.
"JEAN HARLOW: TARNISHED ANGEL" -- Betty.
"THE YELLOW WALLPAPER" -- Marcia.
"Anne Sexton: THE COMPLETE POEMS" -- C.I.
"Charlotte Chandler's MARLENE" -- Elaine.
"barbara ehrenreich's 'natural causes'" -- Rebecca.
"Weight Watchers New Complete Cookbook" -- Trina.
"IN SEARCH OF OUR MOTHERS' GARDENS" -- Elaine.
"Blackfish City" -- Marcia.
"THE CHICKEN CHRONICLES by Alice Walker" -- Ruth.
"Harry Belafonte" -- Mike.
"THE SAME RIVER TWICE (Alice Walker)" -- Isaiah.
"Dancing with Demons: The Authorized Biography of Dusty Springfield" -- Marcia.
"Good for Jimmy Stewart, bad for readers" -- Stan.
"Good for Jimmy Stewart, bad for readers" -- Stan.
"Conversations with Toni Morrison" -- Marcia.
I think it's been an interesting mix. C.I. wasn't going to participate -- that was understood. But she ended up doing two pieces. She covered poetry (Anne Sexton -- she may be the only one who's covered poetry) and she covered Sy Hersh's new book.
I'm the only one so far that's covered sci-fy but, as anyone who stops by even just occasionally knows, I'm a huge sci-fy fan. Trina's covered a new fiction book. She mainly covers recipe books though or anything to do with Socialism.
It's interesting to see what topic attracted who.
And though I enjoy the book coverage, I really haven't been using it. I was at Barnes & Noble today and, by chance, came across Alice Walker's The Chicken Chronicles which Ruth had really enjoyed. Since Ruth had and since I think Alice is a great writer, I grabbed it as one of my purchases. I came home, made some popcorn and thought I'd read a little of it.
I read the whole thing.
Alice raises a group of chicken in this book and learns about chicken and about people.
My one envy of chicken?
Alice says they love to nap. I do too. And chicken love to nap collectively.
Alice lives on forty acres of wood. She has fenced off one acre. She grows roses, vegetables, has fruit trees, etc. And the deer that she loves tend to eat those things. So she protects that one acre. But, over the years, the land around her has become vineyards and the deer have fewer and fewer places. She writes:
For a long time Mommy didn't know what to do. This was her stupidity. Often that is what stupidity really is. Not knowing what to do. You see the problem; it troubles your heart; but you have no idea what your part is in making a change. So Mommy was stuck for a couple of years. Seeing fewer and fewer deer, and no intact deer families at all, only terrorized does and bewildered, frightened fawns. Until one night there was a big storm that knocked down part of her beautiful fence. Next morning she saw how eagerly and gracefully deer began to leap through the broken part. Aha! She though. That's it. The deer and I need a broken fence. She decided not to repair it. And then to kick down and cut through other sections of the fence as well.
However, some of the old problems returned. Chewed up roses, munched-to-the-ground apple trees, devoured veggies and fruits. All the things close to her food-growing heart. Even blackberries! And then she realized what she needed to do. The solution came to her in a flash of inspiration, which is simultaneously a welcome release from stupidity! Instead of fencing the deer out, she needed to fence herself in, her and her various gardens and munchables. She saw how she and her kind, humans, were really the dangerous ones. So that is what she did. She drew a snug through graceful circle around her house and yard and fenced that in. She drew another tight and attractive circle around her vegetable garden and fenced that in. Small orchard trees she gave their individual small fences. Altogether this accounted for less than an acrew of the land. The deer would have the rest, all thirty-nine acres. Well, she and the deer.
And Mommy waited for deer families to be reunited and return. She especially waited to see a good-sized buck. And today, hallelujah, that is what she saw.
It's a really great book and I wouldn't have picked it up if it weren't for Ruth. Thank you, Ruth!!
And I see Ann's reviewed a book tonight as well "The really bad book The Bridge ." So let me note that.
Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"
#UPDATE Iraq's parliament calls an emergency session after a curfew was imposed in the southern city of Basra following a fresh outbreak of deadly protests over poor public services and as shells were fired into Baghdad's fortified Green Zone
Footage of streets of southern #Iraq city of Basra tonight as protesters set ablaze governmental, political party and militia offices as protests have been growing in the city over lack of basic services:
Last month, the International Crisis Group was noting 50 protesters had already died. That was about it for international groups. Like the bulk of the western press, most took a pass on the protests. In fairness to Human Rights Watch, two of their main actors were too busy trying to lead the 'resistance' to Donald Trump and covering for the Israeli government (in their assault on Palestinians) to focus on human rights. By our choices, we will be revealed.
What is happening is not a shock unless you're one of the fools who has spent weeks insisting that these protests do not matter and that they will died quickly. For weeks and weeks, some observers have expressed that view.
We'll name one person because they did a lot of harm -- intentional or not. When I would beg and plead for coverage of this to friends in the US media they'd say they'd look into it and then explain -- usually in an e-mail -- that it wasn't a real issue. Why, didn't I know, even Mustafa Habib at NIQASH -- who we quote all the time -- had pooh-pahhed them.
Yes, I knew he had. Here:
Protests are expected in Iraq in summer. It’s so hot that a lack of potable water and power to cool things down, or keep food, is enough to drive people onto the streets in anger. But these protests – which spread from Basra to other provinces, including the capital Baghdad – are different from past ones in several ways. For one thing, they appear to be spontaneous and leaderless, their demands are many, often non-specific and in some cases, unrealistic. And if the protestors have one thing in common, it is their distrust of, and lack of confidence in, the whole of the Iraqi political establishment. They are not targeting any one party or sector; basically, they don’t like anyone.
Was he trying to convey that it was a non-story? I have no idea but that's the impression many got and they used his conclusions to argue for ignoring the protests.
September is the third month of the ongoing protests. You'd think the media would have covered it seriously long ago.
But that didn't happen.
And without the international spotlight shining, the Iraqi officials could -- and did -- order attacks on the protesters. And instead of meeting the demands, the Iraqi government has -- as usual -- dithered. Drinking water that sends you to the hospital for medical attention? When that happens in Iraq, that water should be bottled and all in the Green Zone should be forced to drink it. The Green Zone has never had problems with potable water.
The so-called leaders have looked out for themselves while failing the Iraqi people.
The protests have turned down violent?
Maybe now the government will start to listen to the demands. You cannot brush off basic needs and get away with it.
The Barzani family's charity has been one of the few to step up -- they have provided some potable water for the people of Basra. I'm confused as to why the central government was unable to do the same. Nouri al-Maliki, for example, running for prime minister in 2010, was able to use clean water (and ice) in an attempt to bribe voters. I'm confused as to why Baghdad was unable to deliver safe drinking water to the residents of Basra the minute the reports of hospitalization began coming in.
And forget the inaction of Baghdad, where was the international community?
Duaa did speak out. She used her Twitter feed. She gave interviews including one for the August 15th broadcast of KPFA's VOICES OF THE MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA. She did her part. David M. Witty is someone we've cited throughout the protests because he's another person who's tried to raise awareness.
As for those suddenly expressing interest -- yes, CIA asset John Cole (to use your birth name), we mean you (and, also, your legal name, you never legally changed it -- most pundits don't work under a stage name) -- we're fully aware that you've done nothing and only appear to be interested now because of the protests may have on oil.
The violence is the natural outcome when the people are put at risk and the protests are not heeded.
The world needs to pay attention to what is happening. They have been doing peaceful and legitimate protests for a long time. Iraqi forces began using violence to suppress them. If we don't want another large scale cycle of violence in Iraq, the int. comm. needs to speak out.
Exactly. There are various people expressing their views on what is taking place. Let's note Lawk Ghafuri.
5-All that made the formation of the government in #Iraq more complicated and delaying the formation of the biggest parliamentary bloc to form the government.
6-The delay in forming the government is more related to the Kurds and their conditions, as Abadi+Sadr are not ready to meet all the conditions Kurds have. Also 16th of October incidents in #Kirkuk made Kurds to become a rival to Abadi, and US made a huge mistake in this move.
We're also going to note Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani but I'm not seeing any reports on that yet so I'm building from social media. It's Friday, his message has been clear. The Ayatollah condemns the attacks on the protesters that have resulted in injuries and in deaths. He condemns the officials who have failed the people of Basra by failing to provide safe drinking water. He notes that the officials have received support from foreigners and condemns that as well. He is against a new government formed on the old ways (which is being interpreted on Arabic social media as him opposing the quota system that has been in use in previous, post-invasion formations -- again, I'm going by Arabic social media, I'm not seeing reports on this yet). For change to happen, the government needs to change.
He is one of the most powerful voices in Iraq. Hopefully, his words will be given consideration.
The Parliament is to hold an 'emergency' meeting tomorrow -- noted in a Tweet above -- and that's ridiculous. They should be forming a government. Hayder is failing the Iraqi people. They need a government and a government that meets the needs of the people.
Let's wind down with this press release from Senate VA Chair Johnny Iskakson:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Amanda Maddox, 202-224-7777
Thursday, September 6, 2018
Isakson: VA’s IT, Accountability Positions are of Tremendous Responsibility, Importance
Committee considers two nominees for VA’s offices of information and technology, accountability and whistleblower protection
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, on Wednesday held a hearing to consider the nominations of James Gfrerer to be chief information officer (CIO) and assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Office of Information and Technology (IT) and Tamara Bonzanto to be assistant secretary of the VA Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection.
In his opening remarks, Isakson called the two positions being considered “of tremendous responsibility and importance” and emphasized the need for a responsive, accountable and responsible VA.
“We want to be able to help you do anything you need to do to succeed, but you’ve got to talk to us,”said Isakson to the two nominees. “You’ve got to work with us. You’ve got to do your job. You’ve got to empower the Department of Veterans Affairs employees to do their job for our veterans.”
Isakson pointed to VA’s recent failure to meet a critical Aug. 1 implementation deadline for the so-called “Forever G.I. Bill” law that was passed in 2017 because of a delay in standing up its IT system to accommodate the updated G.I. Bill payments as an example of the VA missing the mark when it comes to being responsible for its undertakings.
“When I heard about [the missed deadline] I said, ‘How could we do that?’ Well it turned out we did it because we weren’t watching our responsibility,” said Isakson. “The change that should’ve been made in the technology center wasn’t made. Checks and balances we have built into the system weren’t followed.”
The VA’s chief information officer oversees a number of critical projects at the VA, including the massive electronic health records merger, a new system to support the expanded VA caregivers benefits, processing of G.I. Bill payments and many other IT priorities.
Isakson pointed out to the CIO nominee that, if confirmed “it’s your responsibility” to oversee the implementation of the VA’s many IT systems and priorities. “We’re going to take great pride in finding out where we’re weak and making ourselves strong. We’re going to take great pride in making our agency an agency that’s responsive and responsible to our veterans. We’re going to keep our promises.”
Isakson said the VA should handle problems going forward in a way that will “identify the problem; locate the person responsible; hold them accountable. And this is where our second nominee today comes into play because she’s responsible for the whistleblower and accountability office that we created in law we passed in 2017.”
The Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection was established in 2017 in legislation that Isakson, the Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act. The law requires the office be headed up by a Senate-confirmed assistant secretary to ensure full accountability by Congress and the American people, a role that Bonzanto has been nominated to fill.
“Our committee is working to ensure the new Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection meets its responsibility to manage senior executive discipline and protect the rights of whistleblowers,”said Isakson. “Having this leadership position filled is critical to furthering that effort.”
Isakson noted that the committee has provided the VA unprecedented tools to hold bad actors accountable.
“I believe these tools should be used to swiftly remove employees that are not working to enhance the lives of our veterans,” said Isakson. “We owe our veterans the best possible care and support that they have earned. By helping to instill a culture of accountability at the VA, we can see to it that we deliver on that promise.”
In closing, Isakson said, “I have been looking forward to today’s hearing for quite some time because I think we’re finding the right kind of people now to tackle the jobs and correct the problems I know we have [at the VA]. We’re looking forward to you both being something we can brag about.”
Isakson announced at Wednesday’s hearing that a committee vote on the nominations of Gfrerer and Bonzanto will be held soon.
The Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs is chaired by U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., in the 115th Congress. Isakson is a veteran himself – having served in the Georgia Air National Guard from 1966-1972 – and has been a member of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs since he joined the Senate in 2005. Isakson’s home state of Georgia is home to more than a dozen military installations representing each branch of the armed services as well as more than 750,000 veterans.
The following community sites -- plus Cindy Sheehan and Jody Watley -- updated: