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Janet Ritz
Janet Ritz is the publisher and managing editor at The Environmentalist Magazine, a nominee for's Changemaker Award and a journalist with articles carried by Reuters and USA Today.

Her first novel, a cautionary tale, received the 2009 Green Book Festival Award for Fiction. Her second novel, the first book of a historical trilogy with parallels to current events, is slated for completion in late 2016.

Janet is also a music producer, receiving Yamaha's International Music Production Prize (first place) in 2005, and a photojournalist. For more information:

Follow Janet at @janetritz
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Entries by Janet Ritz

Falling Oil Prices Threaten a Key Ally in Fight Against ISIS

(8) Comments | Posted January 20, 2016 | 3:35 PM

Qubad Talabani, the deputy prime minister of Iraq's Kurdish Regional Government, has issued an urgent warning that falling oil prices, combined with the costs of war and of housing refugees, is threatening the Kurdish Peshmerga's ability to fight ISIS (Daesh).

"The world is focused on the war against ISIS...

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Turning Point: Coordinated Operations in the War on ISIS

(1) Comments | Posted November 12, 2015 | 1:24 PM

Coordinated military offensives against ISIS have begun in the Middle East. In Iraq, Kurdish Peshmerga, with Special Ops and Coalition support, have begun an attack on an ISIS held city that controls an ISIS supply road. In Syria, Kurdish YPG and YPJ units, also backed by airstrikes and U.S. Special...

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RFK's 1968 Gun Control Speech in Roseburg, Oregon Shows How Little Has Changed

(3) Comments | Posted October 5, 2015 | 1:22 PM

In May 25, 1968, ten days before he would be assassinated in California, democratic presidential candidate, Senator Robert F. Kennedy called for gun control in Roseburg, Oregon, the site of this country's latest school massacre.

The 1968 British television news magazine, 24 hours, hosted by Cliff Michelmore, gave context to...

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Who Are the Yazidi?

(25) Comments | Posted August 8, 2014 | 2:36 PM

ISIS has attacked the Yazidi people -- a sect of the Kurds -- in Iraq. The jihadists have driven the survivors to the slopes of Mt. Sinjar, where the Yazidi are running out of food, water and hope, while the ISIS militants advance to wipe them out in...

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Special Ops Deployed to Iraq: What Does It Mean?

(0) Comments | Posted June 21, 2014 | 12:31 PM

President Obama announced that 300 Special Operations soldiers will be deployed to Iraq to advise the Iraq army and to perform special missions. He didn't elaborate on the missions so what does that mean?

A clue might be found in an extraordinary special operations mission from 2003 known as Operation Viking Hammer, when a small contingent of Green Berets flew under radar to Iraqi Kurdistan where al Qaeda linked terrorists known as Ansar al-Islam had established a safe haven from which they rumored to be manufacturing poison gas. This was an urgent concern to both the U.S. military and to the Kurds in nearby Halabja, a town that was gassed by Saddam in 1988, resulting in the deaths of over 5,000 men women and children.

The Green Berets, in small groups of 10-12 special ops soldiers (Operation Detachment Alpha (ODA) teams) took a low level flight (500 feet) from Rumania, through Jordan, to land behind the lines in Iraq. From there, they linked up a local militia -- in this case, the Kurdish Peshmerga -- with a plan to use them as troops to take out Ansar al-Islam.

The special forces met with Jalal Talabani, a Kurdish leader (and later, the Kurdish President of Iraq), to convince him to deploy 7,000 peshmerga fighters in a complicated six-pronged assault against heavily armed terrorists who had the high ground. When Talabani heard his men would have to storm uphill to defeat the enemy, he asked for details.

The commander of the special ops team produced a to scale topographical model and used it to outline the entire operation. One team would go in through the valley. others would cover them from the ridges. Still more would take outlying villages. Talabani gave the go ahead.

The Green Beret teams were dispersed between Kurdish (5-12 Americans to thousands of Kurdish fighters). The special ops teams had radios with which to coordinate the battle. They also had a sniper, a fifty caliber machine gun, heavy ordinance and a limited ability to call for air strikes or use anti-tank ordinance to gain the advantage.

Kurdish Peshmerga Photo:Public Domain

The Americans fought beside the Kurds house to house in villages and stormed the high ground with them against withering gunfire to overwhelm the terrorists' position.

Ansar al-Islam was all but wiped out (at the time) with survivors fleeing across the border into Iran. The Americans and Kurds took their base where they found a laboratory with Ricin, a chemical weapon made from castor beans, and passports that identified the Ansar al-Islam fighters as Saudis, Somalis and other foreigners.

"Viking Hammer would go down in the annals of Special Forces history--a battle fought on foot, under sustained fire from an enemy lodged in the mountains, and with minimal artillery and air support."

The techniques used in the battle have become a textbook example of a small visiting command unit using the indigenous population as troops to reach an objective. Members of the Special Forces received the silver star for the operation. The Kurds went on to fight other battles with the Americans, and Jalal Talabani became the first Kurdish president of Iraq.

President Obama didn't specify what the Special Forces deployed to Iraq would do, but, if the past is an indication, Operation Viking Hammer provides a...

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Historic: The Kurds Seize Kirkuk

(2) Comments | Posted June 17, 2014 | 4:07 PM

People unfamiliar with Kurds may not see the significance of the Kurdish army taking the Iraqi oil city of Kirkuk, a rich oil city they've long wanted as part of Iraqi Kurdistan.

To take Kirkuk, the Kurds had to come out from behind their semi-autonomous border (see: "

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Fact Checking the Bergdahl Affair

(0) Comments | Posted June 9, 2014 | 11:10 AM

When did we go from an America that's relieved a soldier has been recovered from captivity--whatever he may have done--to brawling on the Internet before he's home? Have the loud and hyperventilated accusations surrounding the release of Bowe Bergdahl made moderate voices on both sides of the aisle too difficult...

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Edward Snowden: The Elephant in the Room

(10) Comments | Posted June 25, 2013 | 11:19 AM

There are many questions about the information stolen by Edward Snowden and why he went abroad instead of facing American justice. A separate and growing question is how he obtained access to the information in the first place. A 29-year-old high school dropout who purposefully obtained a job at an...

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We're All Journalists Now

(2) Comments | Posted April 22, 2013 | 2:43 PM

In the Internet age, we're all journalists -- or we should be. The dissemination of information is so quick and potentially exponential, anyone can be the source and everyone the recipient.

With the CNN/Fox media debacle of the false reports of early capture (kudos to Pete Williams...

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President Obama's Next Four Years

(1) Comments | Posted November 16, 2012 | 9:54 AM

Lost in the election's afterglow for Democrats and deep funk of Republicans is the hard work to be done and how the president's success -- which, by definition, is the country's success -- depends on how many of us will have the president's back for the next four years.


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Romney's Empty Binder

(11) Comments | Posted October 18, 2012 | 11:47 AM

During the second debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, the ex-governor of Massachusetts made a comment that has now become an Internet meme:

"I went to a number of women's groups and said, 'Can you help us find folks?' and they brought us whole binders full of women,"...

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Romney's Debate Technique

(326) Comments | Posted October 5, 2012 | 6:01 PM

Mitt Romney's over the top October 3rd debate performance used a technique forbidden in policy debates known as "spreading" taken to a creationist extreme.

Policy debaters started talking fast in the 1960s, when a team from the University of Houston figured out that speed allowed them to cram...
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The Romney Negative

(2) Comments | Posted October 3, 2012 | 12:17 PM

The Romney negative, a statistic closely watched by campaign aides and pundits, has been consistently higher than his favorables. Those gaffes, policies, refusal to be transparant and those secret tapes are certainly contributing to those numbers.

Sixty-one percent in a new ABC News/Washington Post poll hold an...

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A New Climate Reality: What Happens Now?

(67) Comments | Posted April 10, 2012 | 4:50 PM

In a prior post, A New Climate Reality, I wrote how difficult it has been for specialists to face the more personal aspects of climate change. Some of those who know the science and say, yes, this is really happening, are more easily drawn to the lure of...

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The Non-Mandated Society

(20) Comments | Posted April 4, 2011 | 7:03 PM

A multi-billion program the Obama administration has sent to states hardest hit by the recession to provide emergency mortgage loans to the unemployed was not altruism. It was initiated to save the tax base in middle class neighborhoods -- an essential ingredient to economic recovery. The program had...

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A New Climate Reality

(47) Comments | Posted February 8, 2011 | 9:26 AM

The world changes so fast, it's difficult to see it in context. Scientists watch from a mathematical point of view, points on a graph, comparative analyses, blips on radar from sensors slapped on the bows of ships. Dry bits of brain matter fight the brain freeze caused by information overload...

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Tunisia's Riots: A Warning to Regimes in the Middle East

(9) Comments | Posted January 14, 2011 | 4:07 PM

If anyone doubts the connection between the economy, the climate and the risk to existing autocratic regimes, they need only look to the protests in Tunisia that began over unemployment, rising food prices and anger at oppression.

The unrest in Tunisia has exploded into a national crisis...

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"A Success Story in the Middle East"

(23) Comments | Posted December 28, 2010 | 3:38 PM

A recent conversation with Qubad Talabani, the Kurdish representative to the U.S. for their regional government, centered on what the son of Iraq's President Jalal Talabani called the U.S.'s success story in the Middle East. It was during an interview that covered politics, religion, Turkey, Iran, and the Kurdish attitude...

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Obama's Tax Deal: How Leaving Out the 99ers Impacts 2012 (VIDEO)

(50) Comments | Posted December 14, 2010 | 12:43 PM

Unemployed or know someone out of work? Relieved the president's tax deal will provide thirteen months of continued unemployment benefits? Sorry to burst your bubble, but not all the unemployed promised a thirteen month authorization of benefits in exchange for the Bush tax cuts will receive those benefits for thirteen...

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The White House Answers My Question About 99ers (Video)

(92) Comments | Posted November 30, 2010 | 12:34 PM recently called for the unemployed and those who support them to submit questions to the White House. I've followed the plight of the 99ers, people who've lost jobs through no fault of their own and who have exhausted their benefits, and have become increasingly concerned at the treatment and...

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