Friday, December 12, 2008

Jesse Junior bare ass nekid!

Friday!!!!! Yea, weekend!!!!! At last. Okay, let's jump in with the Barack Follys and let's start with Jesse Jackson Jr.

This is from David Kidwell, John Chase and Dan Mihalopoulos' "Blagojevich fundraiser held by Jackson allies Saturday:"

As Gov. Rod Blagojevich was trying to pick Illinois' next U.S. senator, businessmen with ties to both the governor and U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. discussed raising at least $1 million for Blagojevich's campaign as a way to encourage him to pick Jackson for the job, the Tribune has learned.Blagojevich made an appearance at an Oct. 31 luncheon meeting at the India House restaurant in Schaumburg sponsored by Oak Brook businessman Raghuveer Nayak, a major Blagojevich supporter who also has fundraising and business ties to the Jackson family, according to several attendees and public records.Two businessmen who attended the meeting and spoke to the Tribune on the condition of anonymity said that Nayak and Blagojevich aide Rajinder Bedi privately told many of the more than two dozen attendees the fundraising effort was aimed at supporting Jackson's bid for the Senate.

Oh, poor little Junior. Caught with his pants down. Someone call Barack and tell him Junior needs a spanking. Can't call Rev. Jesse Jackson because Junior all but disowned him last summer. Poor pathetic Junior.

He might end up behind bars and, if so, Fat-boy might chow down and that weight might leap back up. I don't think they'll let him have surgery to lose weight while he's in prison. But he sure got

Junior's not going to be Senator now, even if he doesn't go to prison. He's not getting appointed Senator. And after his little stunt (crime), this will follow him around forever and he will most likely never get into the Senate. The only real question is if he can hold on to his House seat?

He may be able to. It's a tiny district. But that's pretty much all he has best case scenario. Worst case, Fat-Boy goes to prison. I'm pulling for that one.

It is so deserving. It's like God's saying, "Hey, Junior, those lies you were telling, there are consequences." And there should be. Junior is crooked as all get out and that was obvious when he started lying to push Barack. So it would be so great if he went to prison. I'd be dancing in the street.

Here's Shtuey from "Blago Blows It:"

So let me see if I’ve got this straight… Governor Blag the Inhaler skinned a skunk, and sewed the pelt to his head; then set up a booth at the Illinois State Fair where he put out a great big jar of jelly beans. Contestants would then give the Governor lots of money, or a sweet job. Whomever gave the Governor the most money, and/or the sweetest job, would correctly guess the number of jellybeans and get to go to Capitol Hill and eat the jellybeans until they got good and sick. Lots of people wanted to play, and some even had conversations trying to get the Governor to tell them how many jellybeans were in the jar, even though that was clearly cheating. And now it turns out that there might be some recorded conversations between Pampers’ People and Blag the Inhaler or his Inhaled People, and that those recordings are in the hands of the FBI…whoops! (tip o’ the hat)
Of course Pampers’ first response was to interrupt his morning ego massage for a press conference, or as we say in Obiana, two minutes lying, to say that none of the angels of leprosy at the Transition Central Committee spoke with Blago. Then it was off to the midway for a vigorous round of “Under-the-bus toss.” He’s gotten quite good at it. He won an oversized stuffed Stimpy.

You know when your little and the night before Christmas when your folks let you open one present? So you open it and sometimes you picked a bad one. You're like holding socks or something and your brother or sister has some video game. So like your whole night's runied and you've got to wait until the next day and you're mad and angry? Well, sometimes you're the one who pulls the video game and everything's cool. You just know, because of this one gift, it's going to be a great Christmas. That's how I feel with the news about Junior. It's like a gift to all of us who supported Hillary in the primaries.

Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Friday, December 12, 2008. The British military announces a death (and it's strange how closely it resembles their most recent Basra death), a US outlet reports on the remarks by al-Maliki's spokesperson (that the US military may be needed in Iraq for at least 10 more years), Donald Rumsfeld and many others are implicated in the Senate Armed Services Committe report, and more.

Starting with Alsumaria's "
Iraq: US Forces could be needed for 10 years:"

In the first statements that point out to Iraq's need for US Forces in the country since the declaration of the US-Iraqi security pact, Cabinet spokesman Ali Al Dabbagh said Iraq will need US troop presence to help build up its military forces past the newly agreed three-year deadline for the withdrawal of US troops.Al Dabbagh, representing Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki in Washington, said some U.S. forces could be needed for 10 years stressing that the terms of any extended presence would be negotiated between the next Iraqi and US governments in 2011 since the security pact has not tackled this issue. He added that until that time, the number of troops needed and the level of cooperation and support required would be clearer. Al Dabbagh statements came at a time when the International Security Council is getting ready to adopt during a meeting scheduled next week a resolution to end multinational forces mission in Iraq upon the request of Baghdad. Iraqi Ambassador to the UN Hamed Al Bayati affirmed in a statement to the Kuwaiti News Agency (Kuna) that Iraq has sent a similar letter to the Security Council Chief. He added that the letter has been distributed to members and will be official early next week. Al Bayati affirmed that Al Maliki has noted in a letter to the Security Council that the extension of multinational forces mission has been done for the last time and while their mission will end late this month.

Yesterday's snapshot noted David Morgan and Anthony Boadle's (Reuters) report and they noted that "Dabbagh's comments appeared to be the first to address the potential need for a residual U.S. presence since the pact was announced." (This topic was covered at length here.) Adam Ashton (McClatchy Newspapers) becomes the first reporter at a US outlet to report on it, noting today:

Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki last month sold the Iraqi people on a security pact with the U.S. that he called a "withdrawal agreement" to end the presence of American forces in his country by the beginning of 2012.
His top government spokesman, Ali al Dabbagh, undercut that claim this week, however, when he said in Washington that the U.S. might be needed in Iraq for another 10 years, a statement that reverberated with political leaders in Baghdad, renewing criticism of the deal.

On the treaty,
American Freedom Campaign:
The document parading around as the U.S.-Iraq agreement is not valid under the U.S. Constitution. Its legitimacy is based solely on the silence of lawmakers (and members of the media), who seem to be paralyzed by the fear of having an independent and intelligent opinion. Fortunately, one lawmaker has broken the silence and has acknowledged the truth before everyone's eyes.
It is now time for others, including you, to join their voices with hers.
A few weeks ago, I wrote about the pending U.S.-Iraq agreement, decrying the fact that the Iraqi Parliament was being given the opportunity to vote on whether to approve the agreement while Congress was being denied - and was refusing to fight for - the same opportunity.
Well, thanks to our efforts and the leadership of Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), the U.S. House of Representatives may finally get to voice its opinion on President Bush's unconstitutional usurpation of Congress's legislative power.
Yesterday, Rep. Lee introduced a
resolution related to the U.S.-Iraq agreement, inspired in part by AFC's call for a "signing statement" resolution. The primary purpose of this resolution is to express the sense of the House that President Bush does not have the power under the Constitution to negotiate and sign such a far-reaching agreement with another nation without seeking congressional approval of the agreement.
Passage of this resolution -- most likely following re-introduction in January -- will send a message to the Bush administration, the incoming Obama administration, and the rest of the world that the agreement holds no legal weight under U.S. law and will be considered merely advisory by Congress.
In truth, even without passage of this resolution, Congress shall not be bound by its terms. No president can unilaterally commit $10 billion per month in U.S. treasure to keep our troops in another nation. The United States has never been a monarchy or a dictatorship and we are certainly not going to accept any similar kind of system today.
Putting aside the question over whether this agreement is currently binding or not, it is important that as many lawmakers as possible openly reject the constitutionality of the agreement. So please tell your U.S. representative to co-sponsor, support, and vote for Rep. Lee's signing statement resolution (H.Res. 1535) by
clicking on the following link
Once you have sent your message, please forward this email widely to friends and family. In the alternative, you can use the "Tell-A-Friend" option on the AFC Web site that will appear after you have sent your message.
Thank you so much for taking action.
Steve Fox Campaign Director American Freedom Campaign Action Fund

Joby Warrick and Karen DeYoung (Washington Post) cover yesterday's report from the Senate Armed Services Committee on which "accuses [former Secretary of Defense Donald] Rumsfeld and his deputies of being the authors and chief promoters of harsh interrogation policies that disgraced the nation and underminded U.S. security. The report, released by Sens. Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.) and John McCian (R-Ariz.), contends that Pentagon officials later tried to create a false impression that the policies were unrelated to acts of detainee abuse committed by members of the military." The 19 page report [warning, PDF format] is entitled "Senate Armed Services Committee Inquiry Into The Treatment Of Detainees In U.S. Custody." In a statement released by his office, Levin notes:

The abuse of detainees in U.S. custody compromised our moral authority and damaged both our ability to attract allies to our side in the fight against terrorism and to win the support of people around the world for that effort. In May 2004, just after the pictures from Abu Ghraib became public, Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz said that the abuses depicted were simply the result of a few "bad apples" and that those responsible for abuse would be held accountable. More than seven months later, then-White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Asked about accountability for detainee abuses, Gonzales said "we care very much about finding out what happened and holding people accountable." Neither of those two statements was true.
Department of Defense investigations into detainee abuse failed to adequately assign accountability to those senior military and civilian officials who authorized abusive interrogation techniques.
As we began to dig into what happened, the influence of SERE (Survival Evasion Resistance and Escape) resistance training techniques on our interrogation policies and practices became more and more obvious and became the focus of our investigation. SERE training is intended to be used to teach our soldiers how to resist interrogation by enemies that refuse to follow the Geneva Conventions and international law. In SERE school, our troops who are at risk of capture are exposed -- in a controlled environment with great protections and caution -- to techniques adapated from abusive tactics used against American soldiers by enemies such as the Communist Chinese during the Korean War. SERE training techniques include stress positions, forced nudity, use of fear, sleep deprivation and, until recently, the Navy SERE school used the waterboard. These techniques were designed to give our students a taste of what they might be subjected to if captured by a ruthless, lawless enemy so that they would be better prepared to resist. The techniques were never intended to be used against detainees in U.S. custody. As one JPRA instructor explained, SERE training is "based on illegal exploitation (under the rules listed in teh 1949 Geneva Convention Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War) of prisoners over the last 50 years."
So, how did it come about that American military personnel stripped detainees naked, put them in stress position, used dogs to scare them, put leashes around their necks to humiliate them, hooded them, deprived them of sleep, and blasted music at them.

How? The report makes clear, in the section entitled "Presidential Order Opens the Door to Considering Aggressive Techniques," how:

On February 7, 2002, President Bush signed a memorandum stating that the Third Geneva Convention did not apply to the conflict with al Qaeda and concluding that Taliban detainees were not entitled to prisoner of war status or the legal protections afforded by the Third Geneva Convention. The President's order closed off application of Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, which would have afforded minimum standards for humane treatment, to al Qaeda or Taliban detainees. While the President's order stated that, as "a matter of policy, the United States Armed Forces shall continue to treat detainees humanely and, to the extent appropriate and consistent with military necessity, in a manner consistent with the principles of the Geneva Conventions," the decision to replace well established military doctrine, i.e. legal compliance with the Geneva Conventions, with a policy subject to interpretation, impacted the treatment of detainees in U.S. custody.
In December 2001, more than a month before the President signed his memorandum, the Department of Defense (DoD) General Counsel's Office had already solicted information on detainee "exploitation" from the Joint Personnel Recovery Agency (JPRA), an agency whose expertise was in training American personnel to withstand interrogation techniques considered illegal under the Geneva Conventions.

What follows is multiple meetings with then-National Security Advisor Condi Rice being brought in, with her requesting then-CIA Director George Tenet provide briefings to the NSC and for then-Attorney General John Ashcroft to "personally . . . review and confirm the legal advice prepared by the Office of Legal Council." Rice "also said that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld participated in the NSC review of CIA's program." In other words, the bulk of the administration in 2002 was involved. The Dept of Justice issued two legal opinions August 1, 2002:

One opinion, commonly known as the first Bybee memo, was addressed to Judge Gonzales and provided OLC [Office of Legal Counsel]'s opinion on standards of conduct in interrogation required under the federal torture statute. That memo concluded:

[F]or an act to constitute torture as defined in [the federal torture statue], it must inflict pain that is difficult to endure. Physical pain amounting to torture must be equivalent in intensity to pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death. For purely mental pain or suffering to amount to torture under [the federal torture statue], it must result in significant psychological harm of significant duration, e.g., lasting for months or even years.

[ . . .]

The other OLC opinion issued on August 1, 2002 is known commonly as the Second Bybee memo. That opinion, which responded to a request from the CIA, addressed the legality of specific interrogation tactics. While the full list of techiniques remains classified, a publicly released CIA document indicates that waterboarding was among those analyzed and approved. CIA Director General Michael Hayden stated in public testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee on February 5, 2008 that waterboarding was used by the CIA. And Steven Bradury, the current Assistant Attorney General of the OLC, testified before the House Judiciary Committee on February 14, 2008 that the CIA's use of waterboarding was "adapted from the SERE training program."
Before drafting the opinions, Mr. Yoo, the Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the OLC, had met with Alberto Gonzales, Counsel to the President, and David Addington, Counsel to the Vice President, to discuss the subjects he intended to address in the opinions. In testimony before the House Judiciary Committee, Mr. Yoo refused to say whether or not he ever discussed or received information about SERE techniques as the memos were being drafted. When asked whether he had discussed SERE techniques with Judge Gonzales, Mr. Addington, Mr. Yoo, Mr. Rizzo or other senior administration lawyers, DoD General Counsel Jim Haynes testified that he "did discuss SERE techniques with other people in the administration." NSC Legal Advisor John Bellinger said that "some of the legal analyses of proposed interrogation techniques that were prepared by the Department of Justice. . . did refer to the psychological effects of resistance training."
In fact, Jay Bybee the Assistant Attorney General who signed the two OLC legal opinions said that he saw an assessment of the psychological effects of military resistance training in July 2002 in meetings in his office with John Yoo and two other OLC attorneys. Judge Bybee said that he used that assessment to inform the August 1, 2002 OLC legal opinion that has yet to be publicly released. Judge Bybee also recalled discussing detainne interrogations in a meeting with Attorney General John Ashcroft and John Yoo in late July 2002, prior to signing the OLC opinions. Mr. Bellinger, the NSC Legal Advisor, siad that "the NSC's Principals reviewed CIA's proposed program on several occasions in 2002 and 2003" and that he "expressed concern that the proposed CIA interrogation techniques comply with applicable U.S. law, including our international obligations."

As Carl Levin has pointed out the myth is of a "few bad apples" at the bottom being responsible for torture used in Afghanistan and Iraq. That is not correct. Equally true is that the report does not pin all blame on Donald Rumsfeld. There are "many bad apples" at the top and all need to share in the blame and in the shame.

By November 2002, alarms were being sounded by the Air Force ("serious concerns regarding the legality of many of the proposed techniques"), the DoD's Criminal Investigation Task Force stated some techniques could leave US military personnel open "to punitive articles of the [Uniform Code of Military Justice]," the Army's International and Operational Law Division objected (noting some of the techniques "crosses the line of 'humane' treatment"), the Navy asked for further "legal and policy review," and the Marine Corps wanted "a more thorough legal and policy review" (and expressed concerns about violations of federal laws). All of this was ignored even when the Legal Counsel to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Rear Adm. Jane Dalton and her staff brought these issues to the Defense Dept (specifically the General Counsel's Office).

The report notes that Donald Rumsfeld received a recommendation from DoD General Counsel Jim Haynes that 15 of the 18 techniques be approved (November 27, 2002) and this recommendation "indicated that he [Haynes] had discussed the issue with Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Doug Feith, and General [Richard] Myers and that he believed they concurred in his recommendations." Rumsfeld signed off on the recomendations (December 2, 2002) adding, "I stand for 8-10 hours a day. Why is standing limited to 4 hours?" Alarms continued to be sounded and nothing was done (Rice states she held regular meetings to express concerns).

The report notes, "From Afghanistan, the techniques made their way to Iraq. According to the Department of Defense (DoD) Inspector General (IG), at the beginning of the Iraq war, special mission unit forces in Iraq 'used a January 2003 Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) which had been developed for operations in Afghanistan'." Col Steven Kleinman's testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committtee (September 2008) addresses abuses he personally saw. September 14, 2003 finds Lt Gen Ricardo Sanchez providing the authorization for "stress positions, environmental manipulation, sleep management, and military working dogs in interrogations." He withdrew that authority on October 12, 2003 but confusion (intended by Sanchez or not) remained as to what was and was not now authorized.

The report finds the problems went well beyond Rumsfeld. Conclusion One notes the White House's decision to toss aside Common Article 3 and Conclusion Two notes those particiapting in the process: "Members of the President's Cabinet and other senior officials . . National Security Council Principals". Conclusion 19 pertains specifically to Iraq so we'll note it in full:

The abuse of detainees at Abu Ghraib in late 2003 was not simply the result of a few soldiers acting on their own. Interrogation techniques such as stripping detainees of their cloths, placing them in stress positions, and using military working dogs to intimidate them appeared in Iraq only after they had been approved for use in Afghanistant and at GITMO. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's December 2, 2002 authorization of aggressive interrogation techniques and subsequent interrogation policies and plans approved by senior military and civilian officials conveyed the message that physical pressures and degradation were appropriate treament for detainees in U.S. military custody. What followed was an erosion in standards dictating that detainees be treated humanely.

On Wendesday,
Senator Russ Feingold issued a call to the president-elect on "Concrete Steps" needed for the Rule of Law to be restored. In terms of the topics noted above, these recommendations from Feingold are worth noting:

The new administration should express its unqualified commitment to enforcing the ban against torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, and should establish as a matter of policy a single, government-wide standard of humane detainee treatment. I have supported efforts in Congress to make the Army Field Manual on Human Intelligence Collector Operations that standard. The new administration should revoke all existing orders and legal opinions authorizing cruel interrogations, including Executive Order 13440 and any relevant opinions of the OLC.The new administration should commit to providing timely notification of and access to the International Committee of the Red Cross for any and all detainees held in U.S. custody anywhere in the world.The new administration should close the facility at Guantanamo Bay, as you have pledged to do. Closing Guantanamo raises a number of complex questions, many of which were addressed in the hearing submissions. I hope those submissions can serve as a resource to your administration in addressing these difficult issues. As you tackle the Guantanamo problem, however, I urge you not to establish an entirely new preventive detention regime based on concerns about a very small number of difficult cases.The new administration should reject the flawed military commission trial system being used at Guantanamo Bay.The new administration should develop effective means of enforcing the ban against rendering individuals to countries where they have a credible fear of being tortured.

The Senate Armed Service Committee was not the only governmental body issuing a report yesterday. The Office of Inspector General at the Dept of Defense released a report yesterday.
Walter Pincus (Washington Post) reports, "The Pentagon's inspector general said yesterday that the Defense Department's public affairs office may have 'inappropriately' merged public affairs and propaganda operations in 2007 and 2008 when it contracted out $1 million in work for a strategic communication plan for use by the military in collaboration with the State Department." And around 11:00 AM EST, the man who insulted Stephanie Tubbs Jones back in 2005 (longterm community members know whom I mean -- remember the Ohio 2004 vote didn't matter to him) rewrote Walter's article for a website. No link to that trash.

It's Friday. Violence is rarely reported. Yesterday's bombing at Abdalla Kabab resulted in 57 deaths and over 120 wounded. We'll note some of this morning's reporting on that.
Tina Susman (Los Angeles Times) explains, "The Abdullah restaurant was the kind of place Iraqis took their families on special occasions. It was the kind of place high-ranking officials in the northern city of Kirkuk chose for power lunches, where they dug in to plates on tables covered with white cloths as water burbled from a decorative fountain." Sudarsan Raghavan (Washington Post) adds, "Hundreds of families were inside the Abdullah restaurant, an area landmark, celebrating the end of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, police and hospital officials said. It was the deadliest attack in Iraq in six months." Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) observes, "The room was a shambles. On the flood was mass of tortured humanity -- those that lived. Prams and pacifiers; ribbons and toys. Purses thrown open with make up and perfume bottles strewn everywhere. I can see them with my mind's eye. They look much like what my daughter carries in her purse. . . . My daughter, your daughter . . . anyone's daughter." Nico Hines (Times of London) offers, "The explosion may have been targeted at a group of Arab elders and Kurdish political officials who were holding discussions over lunch aimed at easing long-standing ethnic tensions in the northern Iraqi region." Timothy Williams (New York Times) quotes Abdalla Kabab's supervisor Shirzad Mowfak Zangana explaining, "All of a sudden we heard a very loud explosion. Two of the walls collapsed, and then the next thing I remember is that I felt blood covering my face. People were screaming. Children were crying. Smoke filled all three dining rooms." Williams also attempts to connect it to larger issues regarding Kirkuk. Youssif Bassil and Jomana Karadsheh (CNN) do that much better -- for starters they note Kirkuk is disputed territory -- and they sketch out the current struggle taking place as follows: "The Kurds have been flexing their muscles lately by building up their substantial oil industry without conferring with the central government. They also want to incorporate towns with significant Kurdish populations outside the region into their sphere -- particularly the city of Kirkuk. But Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's government has pushed back, criticizing some of the Kurdistan go-it-alone business efforts and criticizing the deployment of the Kurdish peshmerga security forces in towns under the control of the federal government."

Today the
British Military announced: "It is with profound sadness that the Ministry of Defence must confirm the death in Basra yesterday, Thursday 11 December 2008, of a solider serving with 20 Armoured Brigade. At approximately 2200hrs local time, a report was received of a soldier who had suffered a gunshot wound within the Contingency Operating Base. Immediate medical assistance was provided but sadly the soldier died at the scene. No enemy forces were involved and there is no evidence at this stage to suggest that any third party was involved in the incident. An investigation by the Royal Military Police Special Investigations Branch is underway." This is the second British military fatality in Iraq this month. December 4th David Kenneth Wilson died in Basra from a gunshot wound and, note, "No enemy forces were involved and there is no evidence at this stage to suggest that anyone else was involved." Today's announcement brings the number of British service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war to 178 (ICCC currently is at 177 as I dictate this, it will be at 178 when they note this death).

In other news, independent journalist
David Bacon latest book (just out this month) is Illegal People -- How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants (Beacon Press) came out in September and his latest labor article explores (at New America Media) explores this week's win for Chicago workers:

When the day finally comes that Raul Flores loses his job, he will face a bitter search for another one. "I've got a family to support, so I've got to do whatever it takes," he says. "It's going to be hard. The economic situation is not good, but I can't just wait for something to happen to me." That puts Flores in the same boat as millions of other U.S. workers. Last month alone 533,000 workers lost their jobs, the highest figure in 34 years. A week ago, the heads of the big three auto companies were in Washington DC, pleading for loans to keep their companies afloat. As a price, lawmakers and pundits told them they had to become "leaner and meaner," and in response, General Motors announced it would close nine plants and put tens of thousands of workers in the street. Ford and Chrysler described a similar job-elimination strategy. What makes Flores special? He didn't just accept the elimination of his job. Instead, he sat in at the Chicago plant where he worked for six days, together with 240 other union members at Republic Windows and Doors. Republic workers were not demanding the reopening of their closed factory. They've been fighting for severance and benefits to help them survive the unemployment they know awaits them. Yet their occupation can't help but raise deeper questions about the right of workers to their jobs. Can a return to the militant tactics of direct action, that produced the greatest gains in union membership, wages and job security in U.S. history, overturn "the inescapable logic of the marketplace"? Can employers, and the banks that hold their credit lines, be forced to keep plants open?

Public broadcasting notes. One of America's most gifted contemporary singer-songwriter,
Aimee Mann, has a Christmas concert on NPR tomorrow. Live from the Kewsick Theater in Pennsylvania, Aimee's concert will be webcast by WXPN beginning Saturday night at 8:00 PM EST. This concert is part of a series of Christmas performances by Aimme that will next find her in Alexandria, VA (December 15 and 16), NYC (December 17 and 18th) and Tarrytown, NY (December 19th). Can't make it to those concerts? One more reason to catch Saturday's webcast. For Saturday's concert, her guests will be Nellie McKay and Grant-Lee Phillips. (In a year of sheep, Nellie McKay stood up for peace and did so proudly and publicly. Very few can make that claim, let alone claim to have her courage.) Aimee first came to national attention as a member of the band 'Til Tuesday whose songs and singing ("Voices Carry," "J for Jules," "No One Is Watching You Now," "Welcome Home," etc.) registered strongly and immediately. On her own she's produced hits like "That's Just What You Are" while still trying to fit into the corporate label scheme before going off on her own and producing amazing work (and earning an Oscar nomination for "Save Me"). Her latest album is @#%&*! Smilers. Kat's reviewed her latest CD as well as The Forgotten Arm. And NPR's previous Aimee Mann coverage includes "Aimee Mann: Heartache And Hope" and "Aimee Mann: Bittersweet Holidays" (here for NPR's archive of Aimee stories).

NOW on PBS visits Kiribati as it examines the issue of displacement as a result of global warming. Washington Week also begins airing tonight on some PBS stations (others tend to air it as a Sunday morning chat & chew) and joining Gwen will be Pete Williams (NBC News), Christi Parsons (Chicago Tribune), David E. Sanger (New York Times) and John Maggs (National Journal). On broadcast TV (CBS) Sunday, 60 Minutes:Barney FrankLesley Stahl talks to Rep. Barney Frank (D.-Mass.), whose position as House Financial Services Committee Chairman puts him right in the middle of the huge and controversial government bailouts, first for the financial industry and now for Detroit's automakers. Watch Video
Where's The Bottom?The mortgage mess that touched off the financial meltdown is far from over, with a second wave of expected defaults on the way that could deepen the bottom of this recession. Scott Pelley reports.
Coach CarrollByron Pitts profiles USC college football coach Pete Carroll, who, in addition to his success in making the Trojans a football dynasty, is making positive contributions toward decreasing gang violence in Los Angeles. Watch Video
60 Minutes, this Sunday, Dec. 14, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

alsumariadavid morgananthony boadle
mcclatchy newspapersadam ashton
sahar issa
the washington postwalter pincuskaren deyoungjoby warwick
sudarsan raghavan
the los angeles times
tina susmanthe new york timestimothy williams
david bacon
aimee mannnprzoltan grossman60 minutescbs newswashington weeknow on pbspbs

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Barack Blagojevich

Thursday! One day until the weekend!

Okay, Brian Montopoli is a favorite of Ava and C.I.'s and there wasn't time to note him in the snapshot so C.I. offered this to me if I wanted it. Barack's got a new website where he wants people to ask him questions but apparently only certain questions. "How'd you get so good looking?" is apparently allowed but anyting resembling an actual questions gets 'disappeared.' this is from Montopoli's "Open For Questions, But Not About Blagojevich:"

The site, designed to bring citizens' most pressing concerns to the forefront, is already generating some controversy, however. As Ben Smith reports, "Obama's supporters appear to be using -- and abusing -- a tool allowing them to 'flag' questions as 'inappropriate' to remove all questions mentioning Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich from the main pages of Obama's website."
And the questioners have noticed. One asks, "Will you explain the true connection to all your corrupt buddies? A picture is worth a thousand words." The questioner then links to a picture of Obama and Blagojevich. He then writes: "If this is not adoring enough of you then I guess it must be flagged." Despite the fact that many of the other Blagojevich-related questions are more polite, they have also been relegated to the site's equivalent of purgatory.
As Smith notes, this question was removed from the main page "because people believe it is inappropriate," according to text beneath it: "Given the current corruption charges involving Blagojevich, will 'serious' campaign finance reform that takes money completely out of politics through publicly funded elections be a priority in the first term?"

It's neither surprising that St. Barack's Cult would flag inappropriately nor that Barack's team would refuse to stop it from happening. They are thugs and America's going to see a lot more thuggish behavior from these creeps. Now here's Jake Tapper and Sunlen Miller on the censoring at Barack's new website:

Fifty-six questions have come in from people across the country dealing with Blagojevich. Most of them, however, are not readily visible -- one has to use the "search" function to find them. Why? Because users of the Transition website are allowed to "flag as inappropriate" any question they don't like. Apparently, Obama supporters (one presumes that's who's voting this way) think that any question that might make the president-elect uncomfortable is "inappropriate." So flagged and cordoned off with the warning "This submission was removed because people believe it is inappropriate" are the following:
"Is Obama aware of any communications in the last six weeks between Rod Blagojevich or anyone representing Rod Blagojevich and any of Obama's top aides?" - J, NYC
"In this story (here), it is reported that Barack Obama was meeting that afternoon with Gov. Rod Blagojevich to discuss filling Obama's vacated senate seat. Did that meeting take place?" -Rev4IU
"Did you or anyone from your transition office or proposed administration meet with or speak to the US Attorney's Office regarding the investigation of Governor Blagojevich before his arrest on December 9th?" -S, MI
"If Blagojevich does not resign tomorrow (?) how about President-elect Barack Obama 'unresign' his U.S. senate seat for now so there is no vacancy for the 'Gov' to fill? this could provide up to a month to impeach Blagojevich if needed." -Keith, NYC
"How was Governor Blagojevich able to ascertain that PEBO was against Jesse Jackson Jr. but for Valerie Jarret (sic), and was unwilling to offer anything but words for appointing Jarret (sic) if PEBO or his transition team never spoke to the governor's office?"-Brian Francis, Rossford, OH
"Given the current corruption charges involving Blagojevich, will 'serious' campaign finance reform that takes money completely out of politics through publicly funded elections be a priority in the first term?" - Metteyya, Santa Cruz, Ca.
"In light of the recent corruption scandals (Blagojevich, Rangel, Jefferson, Stevens, etc) that have dominated the political scene,is there any ethics legislation being crafted to actually curb corruption and prevent another wave of nixonian cynicism?" - lupercal, Gainesville
"Will you explain your true connection to all your corrupt buddies? A picture is worth a thousand words. If this is not adoring enough of you then i guess it must be flagged." - anty lopez, manhattan

Reality is not welcome in Obama Land. Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Thursday, December 11, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, Iraq's latest buying spree, Punk Ass Liars for the Treaty Get It Upside The Head from al-Maliki's spokesperson (the sound you hear is a thousand liars trying to delete all their past commentaries and 'reporting'), and much, much more.

Let's start by remembering recent events. October 31st,
AP reported the puppet government in Baghdad's latest boo-hoo: Oil prices had dropped and their budget for 2009 had to be cut by $13 billion. The Guardian of London (via Iraq Directory) was writing that there was talk of raising production due to the drop from the expected $80 billion 2009 budget to the $67 billion budget. In 2008, they couldn't meet their spending targets and sat on a ton of money while infrastructure remained unrepaired and Iraqis suffered without electricity and potable water. This week they're on a spending spree. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency made several announcements yesterday [all links of announcements take you to PDF format]. DSCA announced: "On Dec. 9, the Dfense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress of a possible Foreign Military Sale to Iraq of 36 AT-6B Texan II Aircraft as well as associated support. The total value, if all options are exercised, could be as high as $520 million." And they announced: "On Dec. 9, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress of a possible Foreign Military Sale to Iraq of 400 M1126 STRYKER Infantry Carrier Vehicles as well as associated equipment. The total value, if all options are exercised, could be as high as $1.11 billion." And they announced: "On Dec. 9, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress of a possible Foreign Military Sale to Iraq of 20 T-6A Texan aircraft, 20 Global Positioning Systems (GPS) as well as associated equipment and services. The total value, if all options are exercised, could be as high as $210 million." And they announced: "On Dec. 9, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress of a possible Foreign Military Sale to Iraq of (20) 30-35 meter Coastal Patrol Boats and (3) 55-60 meter Offshore Support Vessels as well as associated equipment and services. The total value, if all options are exercised, could be as high as $1.010 billion." And they announced: "On Dec. 9, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress of a possible Foreign Military Sale to Iraq of 140 M1A1 Abrams tanks modified and upgraded to the M1A1M Abrams configuration, 8 M88A2 Tank Recovery Vehicles, 64 M1151A1B1 Armored High Mobility Multi-Purpose Wheeled Vehicles (HMMWV), 92 M1152 Shelter Carriers, 12 M577A2 Command Post Carriers, 16 M548A1 Tracked Logistics Behicles, 8 M113A2 Armored Ambulances, and 420 AN/VRC-92 Vehicular Receiver Transmitters as well as associated equipment and services. The total value, if all options are exercised could be as high as $2.160 billion." And they announced: "On Dec. 9, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress of a possible Foreign Military Sale to Iraq of 26 Bell Armed 407 Helicopters, 26 Rolls Royce 250-C-30 Engines, 26 M280 2.75-inch Launchers, 26 XM296 .50 Cal. Machine Guns with 500 Round Ammunition Box, 26 M299 HELLFIRE Guided Missile Launchers as well as associated equipment and services. The total value, if all options are exercised, could be as high as $366 million." And they announced: "On Dec. 9, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress of a possible Foreign Military Sale to Iraq of (80,000) M16A4 5.56MM Rifles, (25,000) M4 5.56MM Carbines, (2,550) M203 40MM Grenade Launchers as well as associated equipment and services. The total value, if all options are exercised, could be as high as $148 million." And they announced: "On Dec. 9, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress of a possible Foreign Military Sale to Iraq of (64) Deployable Rapid Assembly Shelters (DRASH), (1,500) 50 watt Very High Frequency (VHF) Base Station Radios, (6,000) VHF Tactical Handheld Radios, (100) VHF Fixed Retransmitters, (200) VHF Vehicular Radios, (30) VHF Maritime 50 watt Base Stations, (150) 150 watt High Frequency (HF) Base Station Radio Systems, (150) 20 watt HF Vehicular Radios, (30) 20 watt HF Manpack Radios, (50) 50 watt Very High Frequency/Ultra High Frequency (VHF/UHF) Ground to Air Radio Systems, (50) 150 watt VHF/UHF Ground to Air Radio Systems, (50) 5 watt Multiband Handheld Radio Systems as well as associated equipment and services. The total value, if all options are exercised, could be as high as $485 Million." That is over six billion dollars being committed "if all options are exercised" -- which is a little over 10% of their entire budget for 2009. There's always money to spend when it comes to weapons. And human life is always done on the cheap.

Bill Van Auken (WSWS) observes, "In Iraq, the death toll has risen to well over a million. An estimated 2 million more have been wounded and at least 4 million have been forced to flee the country or turned into internal refugees. In short, nearly six years of war and occupation hvae left more than 20 percent of the nation's pre-war population, dead, maimed, expelled or homeless." IRIN reports on Egypt's Information and Decision Support Center (IDSC) and the American University in Cairo's Center for Migration and Refugee Studies survey of Iraqi refugees in Egypt which found, as stated by lead researcher Sara Sadek, "Lack of income is the main problem, followed by education." Meanwhile Christopher Watt (Maisonnueve) reports on Iraqi refugees in Syria, "In Damascus refugee circles, limbo is a popular word. The problems these people face often go deeper than uncertainty about their legal status. In the Sunni-Christian neighborhood of Jaramanah, where 100,000 Iraqis are said to live, a boy named Zaid is silent while his father, a former meachnic in Saddam's air force, describes a bus crash last year that left Zaid without his right arm and his face covered in scars. He shields them from view with a New York Yankees hat pulled down low. In a cruel irony, Zaid received his injuries on a visa run. The family had received its new stamps from Al Tanf border crossing east of Damascus, but on the road home to Jaramanah the bus driver lost control. They are seeking help in Canada, but the father believes his connection to the Baath regime could ruin Zaid's shot at plastic surgery and a better prosthetic." As the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres noted (writing in the Telegraph of London), "The refugee problem is a responsibility of the international community as a whole, and can only be effectively tackled by means of collective and cooperative action." And the issue of refugees (both Iraqi and non-Iraqi) inside Iraq?

Today the
United Nations Assitance Mission for Iraq released the following statement:

UNAMI SRSG Staffan de Mistura expresed concern about the situation of over 1000 foreign workers brought by international contractors currently in Baghdad Interntaional Airport. Mr. de Mistura said that "UNAMI takes the allegations of human trafficking by contractors in Iraq very seriously and is concerned about their predicament. The case in BIAP is one that has made public headlines but we are aware of other cases, some of which have reached relevant courts, and we hope will also be addressed in accordance with international labor law standards".
Mr. de Mistura stated that UNAMI has just conducted its own evaluation of the situation in BIAP which supplements the assessment conducted by Internaional Organization for Migration and others and coincides with their findings. He added that the relevant authorities and contractors concerned are expected to ensure that international labor standards are respected and enforced. Mr. de Mistura welcomed the indications that those directly involved are already looking into the issue and hoped it will soon be resolved, "so that the suffering of these people, whose hopes have been shattered and who have had to endure severe hardship and disappointment, is rapidly brought to an end."

This morning,
we were wondering which of Patrick Cockburn's personalities would show up next? Turns out it was Patrick Crazy Ass Cockburn. And if you doubt it, check this from Reuters: "Ali al-Dabbagh, spokesman for the government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, said some U.S. forces could be needed for 10 years but told reporters that the terms of any extended presence would be negotiated between the next Iraqi and U.S. governments." Poor Crazy Ass Patrick Cockburn. You know what, if I had LIED non-stop about what the treaty said, if I was nothing but a FILTHY LIAR, I'd be hanging my head in shame. If I were, for example, Leila Fadel, I'd hide away for days (and maybe use some of that time to buy a decent bra). But if I was Patrick Cockburn and had just FLAT OUT LIED about the treaty this morning at CounterPunch, I think I would have to just state, "I am a worthless liar that no one should ever believe. Like everyone else in my crazy family, I have no grip on reality." Sucks to be one of the liars today. Poor babies. Poor, pathetic, useless trash babies. That's our topic for this evening. Lies the sort that Patrick, Leila and oh-so many others have trafficed in KILL. That's what's wrong with them. It's not like they're pretending they're still virgins or something personal. They're lying in ways that cost lives.

On violence, mass fatalities today in Iraq from a single bombing.
Caroline Alexander (Bloomberg News) notes the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan warned earlier this morning (when the death toll was said to be 30) that the "toll in today's attack is expected to rise." The BBC notes that the bombing took place "at a restaurant near the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk" and that it was done by a suicide bomber. Hurriyet adds, "The bomber detonated explosives inside a Kurdish restaurant about 10 km (6 miles) north of Kirkuk, said Major General Jamal Tahir, police chief of Kirkuk." CNN reports the death toll is "at least 55" with one-hundred and nine people injured according to local police and that the name of the restaurant is Abdalla Kabab. PBS' NewsHour calls it "one of the deadliest attacks in Iraq in the past six months" and also notes 'at least 55" dead but with one-hundred and twenty injured before adding, "The bombing apparently targeted a high-profile meeting of Kurdish officials from the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, the party of President Jalal Talabani, and a group of Arab tribal leaders called the Awakening, who had gathered in an attempt to negotiate ethnic tensions in the region." Yaseen Taha and Adam Ashton (McClatchy Newspapers) quote Khadijah Mohammed whose sixteen-year-old son died in the bombing, "My son has become a body. He was invited by his friends to have lunch on the last day of Eid. He went out with them. He told me that they will have a nice time in this restaurant and reluctantly, we allowed him to go, and now he is just a body." Now picture that. The son is begging his mother to go Adballa Kabab. She is stating it is still too dangerous. At some point he brings up or maybe she remembers the reports of how violence is down in Iraq, of how David Petraeus says that's true and of how every news outlet she can think of has run with that garbage. Bad news 'reporting' costs lives. Own it, accept that the blood of the young men is on your hands if you've lied or pimped the illegal war. Not just before it started or at the start, but if you 'report' spin as fact, accept your responsiblity in this death and all the others. Operation Happy Talk kills, accept it. Mustafa Mahmoud (Reuters) describes an emergency room following the bombing, "Men and women clutched their wounds as they lay on gurneys, while medics and family members rushed about, shouting and wailing. A small girl around five years old was curled up quietly on a stretcher, her clothes bloodied." AP quotes Salam Abudllah who was wounded in the attack along with his wife, "I held my wife and led her outside the place. As we were leaving, I saw dead bodies soaked with blood and huge destruction." Aswat Al Iraq reports President Jalal Talabani stated, "With heartfelt grief, we have received news of the death and injury of a large number of innocent citizens in a cowardly terrorist operation that targeted a crowded restaurant on the Kirkuk-Arbil highway. As we vehemently condemn this heinous terrorist operation perpetrated by the vanquished terrorist remnants, we stress for our great Iraqi people, particularly the steadfast residents of Kirkuk, that terrorists will never be able to upset the fantastic security achievements made all over the country's province."

Turning to US politics,
Dee Dee Myers (Vanity Fair) observes of Barack Obama's speech writer and professional pig Jon Favreau (not the actor-writer-director) groping a cut-out of Hillary Clinton:

I can't stop thinking about this picture, and I confess I find it really upsetting. And, no, it's not because I don't have a sense of humor. I like to think I have a well-earned reputation for often irreverent, sometimes ill-advised humor. But I'm not laughing now.
And it's not that I was never young. My friends from college and in the years just beyond can testify that I did some things then that I wouldn't want to see on the Internet now. But I had a big job in the White House at a young age too; at 31 -- just a few years older than Favreau is now -- I became White House press secretary. And I knew instantly that the rules had changed for me, that I could no longer go to all the parties of the people just a little younger than me, who had just a little less responsibility, and expect to be anonymous. Clearly, Favreau should have understood that too. If he's old enough and wise enough and mature enough to write for the president of the United States -- and not just any president but one who seems poised to take words more seriously than any since Abraham Lincoln -- than he's clearly old enough and wise enough and mature enough to avoid getting his picture taken behaving in a way that is embarrassing to him, his boss, the secretary of state -- designate, his family, and, one hopes, a majority of 27-year-old males (though that may be too optimistic.) It's indefensible. But that's still not what's bugging me.
What's bugging me is his intention. He isn't putting his hand on her "chest," as most of the articles and conversations about the picture have euphemistically referred to it. Rather, his hand -- cupped just so -- is clearly intended to signal that he's groping her breast. And why? Surely, not to signal he finds her attractive. Au contraire. It's an act of deliberate humiliation. Of disempowerment. Of denigration.
And it disgusts me.

It is disgusting. And good for Dee Dee for speaking out.
Murphy (PUMA Pac) observes:

Every day that Jon Favreau continues to have a job as obama's chief speech writer is ANOTHER day that the office of the Secretary of State is undermined. Every day that the above image is in the news is another day that
creeps like Carville and Blitzer can convene all-male panels of sexperts and joke about how fun it is to gang up and sexually assault Hillary Clinton in effigy. (Wolf Blitzer, Alpha Epsilon Pi brother, along with Robert Novak and Jerry Nadler.Carville was a raging frat boy at LSU, where the motto is, "frat hard, frat often.")
We need to amp up our message. Columnists
ARE talking about this issue, but they are saying that women's groups have been strangely silent. We know that National NOW and Emily's List are keeping a deafening silence, but the good women at New York and Los Angeles NOW have spoken up. But still, the message is not being received.

Emily's List won't say a damn word. You don't get cabinet positions (or more of them) by speaking out. What about the pathetic Women's Media Center? They haven't said one word as usual. Yesterday, they had the nerve to write about human dignity while being silent on Jon Favreau. Ms. is just as bad with their Feminist Wire that managed to note violence against women has "increased attention in Angola" but fails to raise objections to Favreau and his friend/male lover's attempt to prove they can get it up by (at best) disrepecting women.

Independent journalist
John Pilger and Chris Martin won Best Documentary for The War On Democracy at the One World Media Awards and The War on Democracy is now available on DVD. Groundhog Day is a Harold Ramis film starring Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell and Pilger references it in his new column (New Statesman):

Obama's slogan is now "continuity". His secretary of defence will be Robert Gates, who serves the lawless, blood-soaked Bush regime as secretary of defence, which means secretary of war. (America last had to defend itself when the British invaded in 1812.) Gates wants no date set for an Iraq withdrawal and "well north of 20,000" troops to be sent to Afghanistan. He also wants America to build a completely new nuclear arsenal, including "tactical" nuclear weapons that blur the distinction with conventional weapons.
[. . .]
There is more continuity in Obama's appointment of officials who will deal with the economic piracy that brought down Wall Street and impoverished millions. As in Bill Murray's nightmare, they are the same officials who caused it. For example, Lawrence Summers will run the National Economic Council. As treasury secretary, according to the New York Times, he "championed the law that deregulated derivatives, the . . . instruments -- aka toxic assets -- that have spread financial losses [and] refused to heed critics who warned of dangers to come."
There is logic here. Contrary to myth, Obama's campaign was funded largely by rapacious capital, such as Citigroup and others responsible for the sub-prime mortgage scandal, whose victims were mostly African Americans and other poor people.

Yes, the greed. As
Elaine noted of the scandal involving who will replace him in the Senate, "I think the whole thing is poetic. Barack's home state governor accused of attempting some form of payment to appoint someone to replace Barack. It's all about greed and what was Barack's campaign run on but greed? He refused public financing. Broke the pledge on that. He took in overseas donation and has no way to prove that the donations came from US citizens. He allowed individuals to repeatedly break the legal donation limit. The greed that built him could break him and, in fact, it should." That's Illinois. In New York, the assumption is that, in January, Hillary Clinton will be confirmed as the Secretary of State and will leave the US Senate. That will allow the current governor (never elected to that post, as Ruth has pointed out) to appoint someone to serve the remainder of Clinton's Senate term. Caroline Kennedy wants the Senate seat. Marie Cocco (Washington Post Writers Group) wonders:

How can Democrats, who ridiculed Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as an inexperienced political wannabe, now embrace the idea of elevating Caroline Kennedy -- who hasn't served a day in public office -- to Hillary Clinton's New York Senate seat? How, indeed, can the same "progressives" who opposed Clinton's election as president because they were repelled by the notion of extending the "Clinton dynasty" now be keen on perpetuating the Kennedy dynasty through an appointment?
As a longtime admirer of Sen. Ted Kennedy, I am embarrassed.
The iconic Massachusetts senator and others in the family are actively promoting John F. Kennedy's daughter -- who famously shunned the gritty political world for the sanctuary of public service through her private endeavors -- to take the Senate seat once occupied by her late uncle, Robert F. Kennedy, and now held by Clinton. A decision on filling the vacancy should Clinton be confirmed as secretary of state is up to New York Gov. David Paterson, who could be forgiven, in moments like this, if he fleetingly wishes that he'd not ascended to the office after predecessor Eliot Spitzer's indiscretions.
What, exactly, is the case t
o be made for Caroline Kennedy?

iraqcaroline alexanderbloomberg newsmustafa mahmoud
john pilger
marie cocco

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Zollman Grossman

Tuesday and Elaine and I are both having the worst trouble getting a connection tonight. I'm not going to write much tonight as a result. This is from Zollman Grossman's article at ZNet:

It was always a mistaken and shallow analysis to demonize Bush and Cheney as the root of all evil, implying that removing them from office would excise unilateral militarism from foreign policy. Personalizing the problem was especially misleading for Americans who had not yet come of political age during previous Democratic administrations. It was Jimmy Carter who declared an "Energy War," established the Central Command in the Middle East, accelerated the nuclear arms race, and revived draft registration. It was Bill Clinton who repeatedly bombed Iraq, enforced draconian sanctions on the Iraqi people, and bombed Serbia and a few other countries. The problem with Democratic politicians is not only that they rarely stand up to Republican wars, it is that they have initiated wars of their own.
If the peace movement relaxes for even one minute because of the Democratic victory, it could demobilize the millions of people -- particularly younger people -- who have joined the movement since the Iraq occupation began. Note that the new administration is proposing to withdraw "combat" troops from Iraq, but keeping other "residual" troops and mercenaries in the new military bases (and adjacent countries) that could continue intervening in Iraq -- perhaps curbing the "war" but not the occupation. The national security establishment wants Obama to extend his 16-month withdrawal timetable, and to send fresh forces (such as Stryker brigades) in 2009 for occupation duty.
The new administration plans to direct General Petraeus to initiate a new "surge" in Afghanistan, to transfer more occupation troops to that quagmire and escalate yet another disastrous war. It plans to continue or expand the dangerous attacks initiated by Bush against "insurgent refuges" in Pakistan and Somalia. And it could offer the precedent of so-called "humanitarian" interventions to justify meddling in Sudan, Georgia and possibly Syria and Iran. Below, I spell out some of these past, present and future "humanitarian" interventions -- which are anything but.

The above really goes with the snapshot today. It goes to why when the press lies about the treaty and acts like it means withdrawal, it is prolonging the illegal war. And while I agree with everything Grossman says above, I have to wonder how much of a peace movement remains in the US. January 2007 was the last big rally. Then the idiots like Jodie Evans and I-Need-Attention Benjamin led the way for others (Norman Solomon) to rush to the Barack bandwagon. These losers have pretty much ensured that there is no peace movement today.

Does it remain? Is it out there sleeping, waiting to be reawakened or is it gone for good?

I don't know. I do know that people like Norman Solomon and Benjamin and Evans never need to be allowed to 'lead' the peace movement because they do nothing but destroy.

At various times, these people have talked about accountability for the Bush adminstration. I want to see some accountability from them. I want Norman Solomon, for example, to apologize publicly for all the stunts he pulled in 2008 which had nothing to do with the illegal war but everything to do with electing War Hawk Barack. I want all the Eggheads of Panhandle Media to write essays explaining how they were tricked and fooled and how, as a result, they will never again take sides in a Democratic Party primary. How they will trust their audiences to make up their own minds and not use their outlets to lie for any candidate.

And watch that be it. Elaine still can't get a connection so I'm going to play on her computer and see if I can get her one and she can blog on my computer if she wants.

Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Wednesday, December 10, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, the plight of Iraqi Christians is the focus of a US tour, the head of a Baghdad division embarrasses themselves in expression and appearance, Great Britian may leave Iraq, and more.

Starting in the US where
Gregg Krupa (Detroit News) explains Cardinal Mar Emmanuel III Delly ("patriarch of Bablyon") is on a three week visit to the US and met yesterday "with members of the largest Chaldean community outside of Iraq, here in Metro Detroit." Krupa reminds, "Christian clerics have been murdered in Iraq, amid the continuing civil strife and social discord under the American-led occupation and attempts by Muslim extremists to root them out of their homes. Tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have fled the country during the five years and nine months of war. Some have settled temporarily in Syria, Jordan, Turkey, and the United States and in Europe. International migration officials say that an increasing number has turned up in Lebanon, another country in the Middle East with a significant Christian population." AP notes the visit is to raise attention for the issues effecting Iraqi Christians including the safety crisis and Catholic Culture explains he expressed his puzzlement "as to why they [foreign military forces in Iraq] have not done more to bring about peace and security." Wayne Peal (Mirror) quotes Dave Nona, who attended a Tuesday ceremony by the Cardinal, on the issue of Iraqi Christians migrating to the US, "I would say it was about 12,000 because of homeland security. We're hoping that some 15,000 - 18,000 will be allowed to enter next year." Krupa reports that Tuesday speech noted, "All Iraqis were better off before the American-led invasion and occupation, he said, citing recent statements by President Bush and former adminsitration officials 'who admit that mistakes have been made'." Meanwhile Christian Newswire reports that "former Governor David Beasley, who has worked on numerous humanitarian projects in the Middle East since leaving politics, claimed the United States had failed in its responsibility to the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi Christians who have been forced to flee religious persecution in Iraq. The official position of Secretary Condoleezza Rice is that there is no religious persecution of Christians in Iraq." Catholic Leader notes that Chaldean Auxilary Bishop Shlemon Warduni of Baghdad Patriarchate shared with Vatican Radio last week that less than 800 of the 2,500 Christian families who fled Mosul in October due to attacks have returned. In other persecution news, NPR's Corey Flintoff (Morning Edition) reported last week from Basra on the racism there, "Although they have lived in Iraq for more than 1,000 years, the black Basrawis say they are still discriminated against because of the color of their skin . . . Long relegated to menial jobs or work as musicians and dancers, some of them have recently formed a group to advance their civil rights." Dropping back to religious news, Jenan Hussein and Adam Ashton (McClatchy News) report that the barbaric sacrifice of lambs continues in Iraq and will we hear any of the uproar from those screaming their heads off recently over the fact that Alaska Governor Sarah Palin hunted, the same crowd lying that she was shooting wolves from helicopters? The barbaraci practice of sacrificing animals continues and not a peep. And it needs to be noted that the sacrifice take place anytime the US and Iraq stages a public event. If they're dedicating a new building or they're doing some other big announcement, an animal's being slaughtered. Translation, the US military has endorsed animal sacrifices throughout the occupation of Iraq. It's interesting that the US military is expected to participate in those ceremonies (and if a sacrifice takes place before or after, it is part of the ceremonies) but were they to do the same in the US, they'd be arrested. It's also interesting when you consider that the US military is not supposed to promote religion but many are being asked to stand through these ceremonies which is participation. Equally true is that animal sacrifices goes against the personal religious beliefs of some serving in the US military. Just as the US should never go along with appeasing any host country by not allowing female service members to drive a vehicle, they should never go along with an animal sacrifice and should make it very clear that if one is done, it is done 24 hours before or 24 hours after any joint US-Iraq ceremony so as not to give the impression that the US condones or encourages animal sacrifices.

Turning to the puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki. For over two weeks now, US outlets have filed story after story about the 'mighty' al-Maliki. He's unstoppable, they gushed. He's on the rise. He's the future, Moqtada al-Sadr's the past. No one can touch him. Blah, blah, blah. None of it was news and none of it reflected reality. But the long ass-kiss may finally be ending. While the never-ending smooch was ongoing, the simmering tensions between al-Maliki and the Kurdish Regional Government was largely ignored (Rubin and others at NYT did cover it). Today
Jane Arraf (Christian Science Monitor) reports that the puppet's "coalition of support is fraying" due to the conflict with the Kurds but "[w]hile the growing Kurdish-Shiite rift may be the biggest threat yet to Maliki's tenure, what may ensure his survival are fears of the political battle that would follow his ouster and wreck many of the gains in Iraq's young democracy."

Yesterday's snapshot noted Reuters journalist Ibrahim Jassam who is wrongly being held by the US military despite the Iraqi court system ordering that Ibrahim be freed. Ibrahim is one of many reporters suffering in the 'free' Iraq. Last Wednesday's snapshot noted the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq's "Human Rights Report" [PDF format warning, click here]. The report was the latest (thirteenth) and noted the attacks on the press especially in the Kurdish region where journalists spoke of being "arrested, harassed and ill-treated by KRG police. . . . Local journalist associations have condemned the conduct of the KRG authorities while other journalists were also prevented from covering the military operations." And the snapshot included:

. . . last month saw another journalist targeted in the Kurdistan region. Adel Hussein is the journalist and he's been convicted to six months of prison for the 'crime' of "writing an article about homosexuality".
Reporters Without Border notes: "Sexual practices are part of the individual freedoms that a democratic states is supposed to promote and protect. Furthermore, Hussein did not defend homosexuality. He limited himself to describing a form of behavior from a scientific viewpoint. . . . We are astonished to learn that a press case has been tried under the criminal code. What was the point of adoptiong -- and then liberalising -- a press code in Kurdistan region if people who contribute to the news media are still be tried under more repressive laws?" The Committee to Protect Journalists is calling for the immediate release of Adel -- "a doctor and a freelance journalist with the independent weekly Hawlati". CPJ's Robert Mahoney (Dept Director) states, "A judge of all people should know that ignorance of the law is no excuse. This is the second time in a month that a court in Iraqi Kurdistan has sent a journalist to prison in violation of the new press law. We call on the authorities to ensure that the new legislation is widely promulgated and enforced, and we urge the appeal court to overturn this conviction and free Adel Hussein immediately." The other reporter referred to was Shwan Dawdi whose conviction was overturned by the court of appeal. Yahya Barzanji (AP) quotes the Kurdistan Journalist Union's Zirak Kamal stating, "We will appeal this unjust verdict and we hope that Kurdistan officials intervene and solve the problem." BBC explains the Kurdish government is attempting to say that Adel "violated a public decenty law" by reporting.

In a new development,
The Committee to Protect Journalists announces that Adel was pardoned Sunday by KRG President Massoud Barzani and quotes CPJ Deputy Director Robert Mahoney stating, "We are relieved that President Barzani intervened to right this injustice. We call on the authorities to ensure that the new legislation is enforced and that Adel Hussein is the last journalist to be sent to prison in Iraqi Kurdistan because of his work." Reporters Without Borders notes:Reporters Without Borders welcomes yesterday's release of physician and freelance journalist Adel Hussein from prison in Erbil (330 km north of Baghdad) under a pardon granted by the president of the Iraqi region of Kurdistan at the start of every religious festival.Hussein had been in prison since 24 November, when he was found guilty of offending public decency under article 403 of the criminal code for writing an article about homosexuality for the independent Kurdish-language weekly Hawlati.

Turning to the topic of Blackwater -- Monday 5 mercenaries turned themselves into US federal authorities for charges stemming from the September 16, 2007 slaughter in Baghdad,
Tina Susman and Usam Redha (Los Angeles Times) guage Iraqi opinion on the development. A veteran of Iraq's military, Ali, tells the reporters, "It means no one is above the law, even if he's an element of foreign forces. It also means the victims will get justice." An unnamed police officer states, "Because they killed 17 innocent people, of course they should be arrested." It's very rare that Iraqis are quoted or their opinions reported on.

Take McClatchy's Leila Fadel being interviewed by Paul Jay for the Real News Network in what is supposedly a nine minute interview about Iraqi suspicion of the treaty masquerading as a Status Of Forces Agreement. Yet at 2:37 in, she's still not talking about Iraqis. And she's wasted everyone's time with what appears to be a defense of McClatchy's AWFUL coverage from Baghdad of the treaty. She's yammering on and on endlessly about the Arabic version of the agreement ('which we translated into English") and who gives a damn, Leila? What do we care about? Well, how about you explain how Adam Ashton, in Iraq for McClatchy, couldn't (for McClatchy) write the truth about the treaty; however, Ashton works for The Modesto Bee and one Saturday, while still in Iraq, he could (for The Modesto Bee) write the realities that McClatchy wouldn't allow? How about you trying explaining that?

In what plays like yet another attempt to excuse the AWFUL reporting by McClatchy coming out of Baghdad, Leila begins referring to the "way that Maliki has sold the agreement to the population and has talked about it is as the end of the American occupation, he has won a date" -- uh, Fadel, he doesn't control the US press and the US press went with that -- including the Baghdad division of McClatchy that you head -- so how about taking a little damn responsibility or is that too difficult?

And, since you're now in DC and since the White House posted an English language version of the agreement (on Thanksgiving, as soon as the Iraqi Paliament voted it into effect -- as they said they would), why don't you address what that says?

And since you haven't read the White House version -- availabe for three weeks now -- maybe you ought to lose the attitude evident at 3:32 regarding Iraqis? (How "a lot of them haven't read" the Arabic version or done so well enough "to have an opinion.") In fact, if the average Iraqi that hasn't read the agreement in full doesn't have the right to an opinion in your opinion, then maybe you just should just close yourself off until you MAKE the time to read the White House version, published at the White House's website. You are, after all, a reporter and what's required and expected of you is a great deal more than what's required and expected of civilians whose country is occupied and under attack and who live in fear and do not have US passports that allow them to breeze in and out of Iraq at will? And, by the way, the Iraqis that "don't believe" in all the hog wash you have sold via McClatchy? They're right. They're right not only because it's a one-year treaty that either side can cancel in 2010 or 2011 -- which means you embarrass yourself in public when you bore us all with what's going to happen in 2011. But you don't need to know about that cancellation clause -- a clause Fadel 'forgot' to note when discussing the Arabic version for over 2 minutes (though that clause is also in the Arabic version). You only need to know that no US Embassy in any country is not protected by the US military. You only need to grasp that a larger embassy would require a larger US military force to protect it. You only need to realize that as long as the US Embassy remains in Baghdad, US forces will be on the ground in Iraq. That's reality. Here's some more -- don't show up for an inteview looking like a Los Molcajetes waitress serving chips and salsa. And for any little whiner at McClatchy who feels that's .just so harsh, let me be really clear: What McClatchy and others have done with regards to the treaty OUT DOES what Judith Miller did. Judith Miller (wrongly and laughably) believed that there were WMDs in Iraq. She should have shown skepticism, she shouldn't have been a stenographer. (And she was one of many.) But this illegal war continues because 'reporters' lie. LYING about the treaty, lying to Iraqis and Americans to lull them into a false belief that the war is winding down is nothing but an attempt to reduce pressure on the governments of both countries. You are servicing the adminstration, you are not servicing the people. And with all the lies that led to the illegal war having been exposed as lies, to provide new cover is outrageous and goes far beyond (my opinion) anything Miller could have hoped to do. In 2004 and 2005, we were regularly noting that if the Judith Millers got the US over there, the Dexter Filkins kept the US over there and they did so by lying in print regularly.

From Iraq, McClatchy rouses themselves enough to note little bits of violence . .


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing wounded five people today while another roadside bombing detonated in Mosul.


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 1 corpse discovered in Baghdad.

Yesterday the Defense Dept's inspector general released a report [
PDF format warning, click here]. Mike Mount (CNN) reports that the study shows, "The U.S. Marine Corps kenw of the threat posed by roadside bombs before the start of the Iraq war, yet did nothing to buy protective vehicles for troops . . . Additionally, Marine leaders in 2005 decided to buy up-armored, or reinforced, Humvees instead of Mine Resistant Ambush-Protected vheicles to shield troops in Iraq from mines and other explosives -- a decision that could have cost lives, according to the report obtained Tuesday by CNN." Washington Post's Derek Kravitz explained last night, "After the inspector general's report became public, the Pentagon announced late today that it would order up between 2,800 to 10,000 of the vehicles, called MRAP-All Terrain Vehicles, for the Army and Marine Corps.":

Thomas Harding (Telegraph of London) reports that Gordon Brown, UK Prime Minister, will allegedly declare in early 2009 that British forces will withdraw from Iraq. This comes as the BBC reports Conservatives in the British Parliament are calling for a public investigation of the "origins and conduct" of the illegal war.

In US political news,
Paul Street (ZNet) observes that president-elect Barack Obama's War Hawk nature was always evident (and Street called it out in real time and is the author of Barack Obama and the Future of American Politics):

The Times was wrong to suggest a significant change in Obama's concept of "reality" in regard to Iraq. Those willing to look seriously beneath the "antiwar" campaign imagery his marketers crafted for liberal and progressive voters can easily determine that there is no fundamental discontinuity. Obama voted to fund the illegal occupation without conditions in 2005 and 2006. He worked to support pro-war over antiwar Democrats in the 2006 congressional primaries. He distanced himself from U.S. Congressman Jack Murtha's (D-PA) early and courageous call for withdrawal from Iraq in 2005. He lectured progressives on the alleged need to not be seen as "working against the president" on Iraq (after the Democrats' 2006 congressional victories) and on how Democrats shouldn't "play chicken with the troops" (a preposterous conservative smear) by calling for immediate withdrawal from Iraq. He voted against a troop withdrawal proposal by Senators John Kerry and Russ Feingold in June 2006, arguing that setting a firm date for retreat would "hamstring" diplomats and military commanders. .In the fall of 2006, Obama told the Chicago Council on Global Affairs that "The American people have been extraordinarily resolved [in support of the Iraq occupation]...They have seen their sons and daughters killed or wounded in the streets of Fallujah." This was a remarkable comment in light of the two massive assaults (notorious across the Middle East and Muslim world) the Pentagon launched (indiscriminately slaughtering civilians in large numbers) on that Iraqi city in April and November of 2004.Obama's heralded "antiwar speech" of October 2002 (given when he was still a state senator) opposed the planned invasion of Iraq on pragmatic, not principled grounds. It criticized the imminent invasion as a strategic mistake (a "dumb war"), neglecting to mention its criminal and immoral nature, its petro-imperial motivations, and the large number of Iraqis it would kill and maim.Consistent with those omissions, Obama has never criticized the ethics or legality of Operation Iraqi Liberation (O.I.L.). He has always refused to significantly note Iraqi casualties (including more than 1 million civilian dead) and he denies the broader Holocaust the U.S, has imposed on Iraq. He told CNN's Candy Crowely last July that the United States should not apologize to anyone for any of its foreign policies under Bush and he has repeatedly claimed that the U.S. invaded the Iraq with "the best of intentions" (democracy- and freedom-promotion). He even told Wisconsin autoworkers last February that that the U.S. must "stop spending billions of dollars a week trying to put Iraq back together."Obama's 2002 "antiwar speech" came down from his Web site in 2003 because he decided to run for the U.S. Senate that year. He was nowhere to be seen around downtown Chicago when two nights of massive demonstrations took place there against Bush's invasion in March of 2003. And during the 2004 Democratic Convention, where he made the Keynote Address that made him an overnight celebrity (a "BaRockstar"), Obama told the New York Times that he might have voted (like Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, and John Edwards) to authorize Bush to invade Iraq if he had been in the U.S Senate and had access to the same "intelligence" as other U.S. Senators in the fall of 2002.Obama's spokespersons have been consistently mushy and deceptive about his Iraq withdrawal plans, making it clear to serious investigators that Obama will continue the occupation indefinitely. He told FOX News thug Bill O'Reilly this summer that "the Surge" had "succeeded beyond our wildest imaginations" and he has refused to sign on to legislation seeking to ban private "security" contractors like Blackwater from Iraq and Afghanistan.

nprcorey flintoff
adel husseinreporters without bordersthe committee to protect journaliststhomas hardingtelegraph of london
paul street
the los angeles timestina susmanusama redhathe new york timesdavid leonhardtcnnmike mountthe washington postderek kravitz
jenan hussein
mcclatchy newspapers
adam ashton