Friday, August 17, 2012

Dear Pathetic Matthew Rothschild

How pathetic are you?

Your magazine's called "The Progressive." 

It was started by Robert La Follette (Sr.) as you like to point out.

Was Bob ("Fighting Bob")?  A Democrat?


He was a Republican at one point.

But what he became was a Progressive.

That was his party.

So if the magazine was started by a member of a third party, why the hell can't you provide coverage of Jill Stein or Roseanne Barr or Gary Johnson?

Why are you such a little whore to the Democratic Party?

You finally came out as a Socialist in 2009.

That's pretty pathetic that you were at the magazine for that long and couldn't admit what you believed in.

Now that you're out, you're  just a little whore for the Democratic Party.

I have no idea why.

I do know that the Oakland staff of Barack Obama's re-election campaign attacked peaceful activists attempting a sit-in.

And had them arrested as well.

And I know you haven't said one damn word.

But then you're nothing but a chicken shit, right?

That's all you've ever been and ever will be.

You can lead anyone because you're too busy cowering.

You're such a sorry disappointment.

Let's turn to someone who never fails to stand up straight and speak truth to power, here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Friday, August 17, 2012.  Chaos and violence continue, Barack's Oakland campaign includes staff that attacked veterans yesterday, Iraqis bury their dead after the second most violent day of the year yesterday, the stalemate continues in Iraq,  the suicide epidemic continues in the US military, Adam Kokesh and Bruce Dixon fact check Barack on Iraq, Jill Stein talks about writing off all student loan debt in the US, and more.
Yesterday in Oakland some veterans were attacked in public.  The attack took place at Barack Obama's Oakland campaign office and it was Barack's staff that attacked the veterans.  One female volunteer had the intelligence to see how badly attacking anyone -- let alone veterans -- looked and she demanded that all campaign workers follow her to the back.  Prior to that, some staff (I'm sure that's paid staff and volunteers) did attack veterans, pushed them, shoved them, attempted to grab their camera and who knows what else.  And they scream and yell, "Get out of here! Get out of here!"    It was an ugly look at what happens when reality walks in the door and the devoted can't take it so they attack.  Everyone but the woman who called everyone to the back should be removed from the campaign.  That behavior was outragous.  The campaign should issue an apology for the assault on veterans.  You can see the tape US News & World Reports has posted.  It's not pretty. When the police use tactics like that, we are appalled.  There is no excuse for campaign staff (paid or volunteer) to behave that way.
Those inside the office included Iraq Veterans Against the War's Joshua Shephard and Scott Olsen -- both of whom were also participants of Occupy Oakland. Scott, is of course, the veteran whose encounter with Oakland police resulted in a fractured skull (among other injuries) and the world was outraged.  If the camera hadn't been there yesterday, how far would it have gone?  Supposedly chairs were also wielded against the veterans?  That's not in the video (the camera operator is knocked to the floor at one point and who knows what happened during that period).  When Olson was attacked in 2011, it prompted a review by the Oakland police into their policies.  Something similar needs to happen to Barack's Oakland office and Barack needs to issue a public apology to veterans.  (Will he? I doubt it.  He's always the first to scream at others for a supposed insult but the last to offer an apology.  That was the pattern as candidate in 2007 and 2008 and it's remained the pattern -- as we saw most recently with regards to Poland.)
Veterans are not props.  Politicians love to use veterans to shore up their own shoddy credentials. Those who have been happy to utilize (use) them for their campaigns should have the maturity to apologize publicly when an incident like what took place in Oakland goes down.
Joshua Shepherd: We're calling for a full pardon of Bradley Manning as well as an apology for Obama's statement that declared Bradley Manning was guilty before he faced any judicial proceedings.  You know the military judicial system is not quite as fair as the civilian but it is, you know there are certain measures and a minimum level of justice and due process that is required.  And the Obama administration has presided over this obliteration of that system and much to Bradley's deteriment.
Monday April 5, 2010, WikiLeaks released US military video of a July 12, 2007 assault in Iraq. 12 people were killed in the assault including two Reuters journalists Namie Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh. Monday June 7, 2010, the US military announced that they had arrested Bradley Manning and he stood accused of being the leaker of the video. Leila Fadel (Washington Post) reported in August 2010 that Manning had been charged -- "two charges under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The first encompasses four counts of violating Army regulations by transferring classified information to his personal computer between November and May and adding unauthorized software to a classified computer system. The second comprises eight counts of violating federal laws governing the handling of classified information." In March, 2011, David S. Cloud (Los Angeles Times) reported that the military has added 22 additional counts to the charges including one that could be seen as "aiding the enemy" which could result in the death penalty if convicted. The Article 32 hearing took place in December.  At the start of this year, there was an Article 32 hearing and, February 3, 2012, it was announced that the government would be moving forward with a court-martial.  Bradley has yet to enter a plea and has neither affirmed that he is the leaker nor denied it.  His court-martial was to take place next month but has been pushed back to February.
The San Jose Mercury News has a photo essay of the protest (photos by Ray Chavez)Kristin J. Bender (Oakland Tribune) reports there were sixty protesters outside and seven inside and that the protest "ended peacefully late Thursday, with a handful of arrests."  World Can't Wait posts KTVU's reportBay City News covers it hereCedric's "Now if we can just replicate the Oakland spirit" and Wally's "THIS JUST IN! OAKLAND'S GOT SPINE!" noted the protest this morning.

Outside the headquarters a woman explained, "American troops are being killed all over Asia and the Middle East.  American troops suicide rate is higher right now than combat deaths.  There's a reason for that."
Yesterday the Pentagon announced, "The Army released suicide data today for the month of July.  During July, among active-duty soldiers, there were 26 potential suicides:  one has been confirmed as suicide and 25 remain under investigation.  For June, the Army reported 11 potential suicides among active-duty soldiers; since the release of that report, one case has been added for a total of 12 cases:  two have been confirmed as suicides and 10 remain under investigation.  For 2012, there have been 116 potential active-duty suicides:  66 have been confirmed as suicides and 50 remain under investigation.  Active-duty suicide number for 2011:  165 confirmed as suicides and no cases under investigation.  During July, among reserve component soldiers who were not on active duty, there were 12 potential suicides (nine Army National Guard and three Army Reserve):  one has been confirmed as suicide and 11 remain under investigation.  For June, among that same group, the Army reported 12 potential suicides (nine Army National Guard and three Army Reserve):  seven have been confirmed as suicides and five remain under investigation.  The Army previously reported 10 Army National Guard and two Army Reserve cases for June."
Leon Panetta is the Secretary of Defense.  July 25th, he appeared before the House Veterans Affairs Committee. From that day's snapshot:

US House Rep Mike Michaud:  Quick question, and I want to read from a Veterans Service Organization letter that they actually sent to Senator [Jim] Webb just last week.  And just part of it says, "The only branch of the military to show a marked improvement decreasing the number of persons taking their own life is the United States Marines.  They should also be praised for their active leadership from the very top in addressing the problem and implementing the solutions.  The remaining services have yet to be motivated to  take any substanative action. "  Secretary Panetta, I've been to Iraq and Afghanistan several times and I've looked the generals in the eye and I've asked them what are they doing personally to help the stigmatized TBI, PTSD?  And the second question is: Do they need any help?  I get the same answer over there as I do over here in DC: 'Everything's okay.  We've got all the resources we need.  We don't need any help.'  But the interesting thing is someone much lesser ranked came up to me, after I asked the general that question, outside and said, "We need a lot more help."  And he suggested  that I talk to the clergy to find out what they are seeing happening.  And I did that trip and every trip since then.  And I'm finding that our service members are not getting the help that they need.  And my question, particularly after looking at this letter that was sent to Senator Webb, it appears the Marines are doing a good job so why is it so different between the Marines, the Army and other branches?  And can you address that?

Secretary Leon Panetta: You know -- Obviously, there's no silver bullet here.  I wish there were to try to deal with suicide prevention.  We-we have a new suicide prevention office that's trying to look at programs  to try to address this terrible epedemic. I  mean, we are looking.  If you look at just the numbers, recent total are you've got about 104  confirmed and 102 pending investigation in 2012.  The total of this is high, almost 206.  That's nearly one a day.  That is an epedemic.  Something is wrong.  Part of this is people are inhibited because they don't want to get the care that they probably need. So that's part of the problem, trying to get the help that's necessary.  Two, to give them access to the kind of care that they need.  But three -- and, again, I stress this because I see this in a number of other areas, dealing with good discipline and good order and, uh, trying to make sure that our troops are responding to the challenges -- it is the leadership in the field.  It's the platoon commander.  It's the platoon sergeant.  It's the company commander. It's the company sergeant.  The ability to look at their people, to see these problems.  To get ahead of it and to be able to ensure that when you spot the problems, you're moving that individual to the kind of-of assistance that they need in order to prevent it.  The Marines stay in close touch with their people.  That's probably one of the reasons that the Marines are doing a good job.  But what we're stressing in the other services is to try to develop that-that training of the command.  So that they two are able to respond to these kinds of challenges. 

US House Rep Mac Thornberry also raised the issue of suicides, noting Time magazine's recent cover story (July 23rd issue), Mark Thompson &; Nancy Gibbs' "One A Day: Every day, one U.S. soldier commits suicide.  Why the military can't defeat its most insidious enemy."  He raised the issue of "33% of all military suicides have never deployed overseas at all and 43% had deployed once."  Panetta confirmed that statistic from the article was accurate.  Panetta argued that suicide is on the rise "in the larger society" and that this is reflected within the military. 
Today Rebecca Ruiz (NBC News) emphasizes this point on the latest suspected suicides, "Bruce Shahbaz, a medical analyst on the Army's Suicide Prevention Task Force, told Time that experts did notice the deaths of non-commissioned officers outnumbered those of junior enlisted members for the first time since 2001."   Mark Thompson (Time magazine) adds, "The Army has been fighting suicides when they were occurring at the rate of nearly one a day -- in fact, that was the cover line on a Time story last month into the vexing problem of soldiers killing themselves after a decade of war. But July's 38 likely suicides spread over the month's 31 days works out to almost 1.25 suicides a day."   For service members in need, there is Military One Source which does include a crisis hotline 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255).   There is also online counseling.
But Military One Source doesn't always work for service members as yesterday's report by David Martin (CBS Evening News) noted utilizing a talk Rebecca Morrsion gave in June at the annual DoD and VA suicide conference in which she spoke of her husband Capt Ian Morrison taking his own life, how he went to two different clinics but received no help and how he then dialed Military One Source, "He was on hold with Military One Source for over an hour before he hung up."  Greg Jaffe (Washington Post) quotes mental health social worker and the wife of a Marine who took his own life seven years ago Kim Ruocco stating, "The military really is trying hard.  But we need more money, more resources, and we need to make mental health care a higher priority.  There are still too many gaps in care and too long of waits for soldiers seeking care."
Justin Moyer (Washington Post) reports on a University of Utah study entitled "Reasons for Suicide Attempts in a Clinical Sample of Active Duty Soldiers."  The paper argues, "Explicit skills training in alternative behaviors that serve an emotion regulation function (e.g. mindfulness, relaxation, cognitive restructuring) could replace the use of suicidal behaviors for this same purpose."  Katie Drummond (Forbes) notes, " Analysts suspect that as troops draw-down from combat zones overseas, more veteran soldiers -- many of whom have been deploying consistently since the dawn of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan -- are struggling to reintegrate into civilian life."
Jamie Crawford (CNN) quotes the Vice Chief of Staff of the Army, Gen Lloyd Austin,  "Suicide is the toughest enemy I have faced in my 37 years in the Army. And it's an enemy that's killing not just Soldiers, but tens of thousands of Americans every year.  That said, I do believe suicide is preventable. To combat it effectively will require sophisticated solutions aimed at helping individuals to build resiliency and strengthen their life coping skills." 
In Iraq, Adam Schreck (AP) notes, families were burying yesterday's victims: "Dozens of people carried the coffins of relatives through the streets of the neighborhood Friday.  Some mourners wept, while others sought solace by chanting 'God is Great'."  Yesterday, Iraq was slammed with a wave of violence.  Today the numbers are still rising.  AP earlier reported 59 died from yesterday's bombings and shootings.  But Iraqi officials later claimed the death toll was 93.  Thursday was the second largest death toll day since Decembr.  Al Mada notes the wave of violence and that the dead included at least one child (Kirkuk home bombing).  Alsumaria reports that a Nineveh Province citizen's council is blaming the Ministry of Health for the death of many wounded.  Why?  They state that the Ministry has inadequately funded the hospitals leading to a lack of doctors and ambulances which resulted in a number of wounded whom they feel should have survived the attacks instead ending up among the dead.  The Minister of Health is Dr. Majeed Jamil.  Alsumaria also notes that others, including a member of the Parliament's Security and Defense Committee, are calling out the security plan.  France's Foreign Ministry issued the following statement today:
France condemns in the strongest possible terms the attacks carried out on Thursday throughout the country, which took the lives of more than 50 people and injured more than 200.
It offers its condolences to the Iraqi people and the families of the victims, and expresses its solidarity with the Iraqi authorities in their fight against terrorism
France stands by Iraq's side and reaffirms its full support for the Iraqi government, which is engaged in an effort to promote recovery, stability and security. It has decided at the highest level to support Iraq in its stabilization and reconstruction process. This commitment, which we are determined to fulfill, has translated notably into programs to provide training in law, security and governance. It represents one of our priorities in our cooperation with Iraq. We are ready to study any additional requests by the Iraqi authorities in this area.
I am appalled at the wave of heinous attacks that shook the country throughout the day yesterday," said Mr. Kobler, who extended his condolences to the families of those killed and wished a speedy recover for the wounded.
Noting that the attacks coincided with the onset of Eid al-Fitr, the Muslim holiday marking the end of Ramadan, Mr. Kobler also condemned the violence for disrupting the spirit of peace associated with one of the holiest days in the Muslim calendar.

Possibly in response to yesterday's violence, it's been announced that there will be over 8,000 security forces in Diwaniya for Eid al-Fitr.

The political crisis continues in Iraq and the 'Reform Commission' -- now just a list -- becomes more laughable each day.  The Sadr bloc notes that a piece of paper is not going to solve the ongoing crisisAl Mada reports that State of Law is stating that they did not bother to address the issue of the three presidencies.  That's Speaker of Parliament, President of Iraq and Prime Minister.  It's not a minor issue.  It's one State of Law has hissed at publicly when others raised it -- Moqtada al-Sadr, Ayad Allawi and Massoud Barzani among others have raised.  Nouri has had two terms and, in Februrary 2011, announced he would not seek a third term when rulers in the region were being forced out of office.  He quickly took back that promise and his attorney has told the press repeatedly that Nouri can seek a third term.   If Nouri doesn't try for a third term, State of Law loses the office because they have no other name leader -- they're a motley band of has-beens and strugglers who've made no real impact on the political scene.  And they know Moqtada al-Sadr wants to be prime minister as does the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq's Ammar al-Hakim and Adil Abdul-Mahdi and Ibrahaim al-Jaafari (for al-Jaafari, it would be a second term as prime minister) so if Nouri can't have a third term, short of poaching from a rival political slate, State of Law stands a good chance of petering out.

All Iraq News notes that Arshad Salhi, head of the Turkmen Front, has stated that the three presidencies, the Cabinet ministers and the MPs should all hold a meeting to address the situation in Iraq and that the meeting should continue until all can reach a shared solution on what needs to be done. Al Mada notes that ISCI states meetings will be held following Eid al-Fitr.  Still hiding out in Germany, Jalal Talabani issued a statement hailing the 'progress' on the political crisis, Alsumaria notes.

As All Iraq News notes, there continues to be disagreement about the composition of the Electoral Commission.  This was supposed to have been decided long, long ago.  And a law passed.  Elections are supposed to take place in March of next year (provincial elections).  The Parliament recently extended the 'current' commission by 35 days while they continue working on the new law.  ('Current' written that way because before they were extended, their terms really had ended.) The National Alliance's Qassim al-Araji states that the commission should be expanded (increase the number of members) and he criticized those who are opposing this move.
Turning to the White House.  Fauxgressives for Obama surfaced again.  Mike called them out in "2 Dumb Whores: Carl Davidson - Bill Fletcher Jr.."   At Black Agenda Report, Bruce Dixon takes on the 'logic' put forward by Davidson and Fletcher:
Fletcher & Davidson credit Obama with taking the troops out of Iraq.
This is an outright lie, as more than a hundred thousand US – financed mercenaries remain in Iraq indefinitely, and the Obama White House fought till the last minute to get its Iraqi client state to set aside the Status of Forces agreement negotiated under the Bush administration which required all official US forces to leave the country.
Adam Kokesh:  "Number Two.  He ended the war in Iraq and is drawing the war in Afghanistan to a close.  Like he said he would."  Holy f**king s**t, this is pathetic. If you're anti-war, if you understand that war is just a f**king embarrassment -- and I do because I'm a veteran, I was in Falluja in 2004, I get it.  Yeah, war is a racket, just like Major General Smedley Butler said,  always has been, always will be.  So here's the thing.  You're going to support a guy who's 'ending the war in Iraq' was actually attempting to keep it going longer than we would have had it end under the Bush plan?  Now when he [Barack] took office, there was the Bush plan [SOFA] in place and he [Barack] promised to end the war immediately but instead did everything in his power to extend the Bush plan.  And as it was, what we got with Obama, in terms of Iraq policy was exactly what we would have had under Bush except it looked worse and was more two-faced. Yeah.  Afghanistan?  He's bringing Afghanistan to a close?  Yeah, after a surge.  That's like saying to someone who's-who's robbing your house, "Oh, can you only just clear out one more room before you stop robbing me?" I mean are you serious? This is like, this is a feather in Obama's cap that he's bringing the war in Afghanistan to a close after sending in a surge of 30,000 troops on top of the 100,000 that were already there?  And now keeping the 100,000 that were already there as long as he can possibly get away with?  That's your idea of ending a war?  That's like shoving that guy out of your house who's robbing you and saying, "Thank you for leaving."
While it isn't her official title, Dr. Jill Stein sure sounds like the first presidential candidate of the Occupy Wall Street movement.
Stein, technically the Green Party nominee, is running a longshot but aggressive campaign against a political system she feels has capitulated to corporate interests.
She sees no difference between the Democratic and Republican parties, and she thinks voters are tired of both of them. So she's calling for a "voter rebellion."
"We must occupy our elections just as we must occupy our banks and our schools and everything else," Stein said in an interview during a visit to Seattle to speak at Hempfest, in addition to other events. "Because they belong to us."
Ross Reynolds:  And you're certainly putting forward some proposals that we're not hearing from the major candidates.  Among them, a plan to forgive current student loan debt.  Now I saw that it was 904 billion dollars in the first quarter of 2012.  Are you talking about forgiving all of that debt?  And who's going to pay for it?
Jill Stein: Yeah.  I mean, we are talking about a trillion dollars worth of student debt.  We found a way to forgive much more than that from the bankers who caused this problem with the waste, fraud and abuse on Wall Street.  We think that the students who are the victims of this waste, fraud and abuse ought to have equal forgiveness.  So there are a variety of ways to do it.  There are some proposals that we do in other quantative easing but it's time to do it for student debt rather than motrgate debt.  There are a variety of solutions.  I can't say that we're dedicated to any one of them at this point but I think in principle it's really important that we bail out the students for all kinds of reasons.  Our economy depends upon it.  They are endentured servants basically.  In order to move forward, we need to get them out of debt.
Ross Reynolds: You've talked about a plan to create 25 million jobs.  That's huge.  Where would the money come from to pay for that?
Jill Stein:  In short, the money would come from downsizing the military. We're spending a trillion dollars a year now in this bloated military-industrial-security complex.  That has been doubled over about the last ten years.  Certainly without doubling our security in many ways.  We are just as insecure as ever -- dropping bombs on funerals and weddings out of our drones which are proliferating madly.  This does not buy us security. Over a thousand military bases scattered in over 100 countries around the world.  Indeed, the trillions that we spent on Afghanistan and Iraq have not made us more secure, they've not made Iraq and Afghanistan more secure, they continue to teeter on the brink of civil war.  So much of the money would come from the military, much of it would come from taxing Wall Street -- a Wall Street transaction tax, also known as a Robin Hood tax which would be a good in of itself for discouraging reckless Wall Street speculation.  We're also looking at health care as a human right which actually saves us money. Trillions of dollars  over the coming decade would be saved not only by reducing the massive health insurance bureaucracy but also by stabilizing medical inflation.
On 2012 Labor Day-Enough Is Enough-Nationalize Chevron Under Worker-Community 
Control and Prosecute The Criminals Running This Out Of Control Empire.

Rally & Press Conference in Front of Richmond Chevron Refinery

Contact: Steve Zeltzer:
 Monday September 3, 2012 10:00 AM
841 Chevron Way, Richmond California 94801

Speakers from union and community.

Cindy Sheehan, Peace and Freedom Party Candidate For Vice President of the United States
Charles Smith, Richmond Resident and AFSCME 444 Delegate To Alameda Labor Council and United Public Workers For Action UPWA
Mark Mason, San Pablo Bay Ecological Preservation Association
Mary Flanagan, Richmond Teacher, Member of United Teachers Of Richmond UTR
Charles Rachlis, Industrial Hygienist/UPWA

The explosion and fire at the Chevron Richmond refinery is a man made disaster for the workers and community
in Richmond and the East Bay. It was caused by the criminal negligence of the Chevron corporation
which did not want to replace a worn gas pipe to save more money for the corporation. They continually
violate the environmental regulation and rules as well as OSHA rules and yet there are no serious actions taken
against them by these agencies and both the California government and US government. 
This is for a company that made $26.9 billion last year.

The continuing contamination with 30% of the children of Richmond having Asthma and many other diseases
is unacceptable and an outrage to me and that is why I and Roseann Barr are calling for the immediate
seizure and nationalization of the Chevron refinery and other oil companies and for them to be run by workers and for the community and
people of California. This is not only a problem at Chevron but the many other refineries in California and the US.

We the people of the United States cannot be terrorized by these outfits like Chevron who pollute the world
and then terrorize people in the United States by their refusal to do proper maintenance on the refineries
here in the bay area and throughout the United States.
We support that the profits from a nationalized refinery be immediately put to use to prevent further
accidents, for the establishment of free healthcare for the people of Richmond and and for the funding
of education for the children of Richmond.
We are also calling for the criminal prosecution of Chevron managers, executives and owners for putting
the residents and workers in deadly danger and causing illness through their drive for profit.
We support a major program of the development of alternative energy sources including solar which should
be required on all new construction in the California and the US and a massive government funded program
for all housing in the state and the country along with mass transportation to limit the use of oil for automobiles.

We also condemn the silence of Governor Brown and the Obama administration about these continuing
man made disasters and the refusal to call for the criminal prosecution of these corporations.
In California Governor Brown has put the OSHA health and safety inspectors on furloughs even though they
are not paid for by the state budget and the 182 inspectors are not enough to properly protect the 18 million workers
of California.
On Labor Day September 3, I will be joining labor and community and environmental activists  at the Chevron Refinery to
in Richmond to call for the refinery to be nationalized and for it to be run by the workers for the benefit of the workers and
We cannot afford another Chevron disaster. Enough is Enough.


Thursday, August 16, 2012

Chicken a la Schechter

Thursday.  I have no idea what happened but this column is a huge disappointment.

It didn't have to be that way. 

If I want to criticize David Cameron in the UK, I don't forget to name him.  I don't waste everyone's time with my critique of William Hague.

But that's what Danny Schechter did in his awful column. 

He can't say "Barack" or "Barack Obama."

But he's all over Hillary Clinton -- as usual.  And then he wonders why he's seen as a coward and a sexist pig?

He's the one who didn't want Hillary to be president.

He got his wish.  She's not.  Barack is.

So why can't he accept that if Barack's president, that's where you aim your criticism.  You don't hide under someone's skirt.

Danny was doing such strong columns and then along came this nonsense.

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

Thursday, August 16, 2012.  Chaos and violence continue, a State of Law MP goes on TV to blame the Kurds for today's wave of violence, Julian Assange and Ecuador steal focus, Camp Ashraf, Jill Stein and Roseanne Barr, and more.
We're dropping back to November 28, 2010 for a moment from the KPFA Evening News:

Anthony Fest: The whistle blower website WikiLeaks released another trove of confidential documents today. Last month WikiLeaks released thousands of Pentagon documents most associated with the US occupation of Iraq. In contrast, the documents made public today include thousands of diplomatic cables -- communications between the State Dept and Washington and US consulates all around the world. The documents cover both the George W. Bush and the Barack Obama administrations. WikiLeaks gave an advance look at the documents to several media organizations including the New York Times and the British newspaper the Guardian. Those publications now have articles on their websites analyzing the documents. WikiLeaks says it will post the documents on its own website in the coming days although it has said its site was the target of a cyber attack today. The documents release is certain to provoke tension between the US and its allies. For example, some of the cables say that Saudi donors are the largest financiers of terror groups. Other cables detail the cover-up of US military activities. One of them records a meeting last January between US Gen David Petreaus and the president of Yemen about air attacks against rebels in Yemen. The president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, tells Petraeus, "We'll continue to say they are our bombs and not yours." According to the Guardian, the documents reveal that some Arab leaders had privately urged an air attack against Iran and that US officials had been instructed to spy on the United Nations' leadership. Among the other disclosures are deep fears in Washington and London about the security of Paksitan's nuclear weapons. Another document asserts massive corruption at high levels of the Afghanistan government saying the Afghan vice president traveled to the United Arab Emirates carrying $52 million in cash. Still other documents disparage the British military in Afghanistan.
In 2010, WikiLeaks was still doing major releases.  In fact, that was probably the high water mark for WikiLeaks.  Already,  Monday April 5, 2010, WikiLeaks had released US military video of a July 12, 2007 assault in Iraq. 12 people were killed in the assault including two Reuters journalists Namie Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh. Still in 2010,  June 7, 2010, the US military announced that they had arrested Bradley Manning and he stood accused of being the leaker of the video. And that was part of the change.  At that point, the head of WikiLeaks and the face of WikiLeaks to the media and the world, Julian Assange, was stating that they didn't know who the leaker was (that leaked the material to them).  Ever since, Julian Assange has lived on the defensive.
Today he's in the news cycle because Ecuador is offering him asylum. 
If the last four years have taught those of us on the left anything, it should have taught us that there is no excuse or justification to whore for one person, that we either stand up for what we believe in and do so truthfully or we're liars in the eyes of the whole country.
I like Michael Ratner but his Julian Assange commentary has been less than honest for some time.  Today Assange was the topic of a segment on the lousy show Democracy Now! and Michael Ratner fell to the program's low level.
Ecuador has granted asylum to Julian Assange which is pretty much conditional
 upon his getting out of England or else hoping to live in the Ecuador Embassy in the UK.  Michael Ratner wants to assert that Ecuador is "doing what was legally required here."  That is incorrect.  That is a falsehood.  As someone who has repeatedly advocated for Canada to grant asylum to US war resisters, I have never argued that Canada had to do so or that they were legally required to.  Because they weren't.  No country is required to grant someone asylum.  That is why cases for asylum are argued.
There are enough lies out there with regards to the Julian Assange case.  More do not need to be put out there. It is also dishonest for Michael to assert claims to legal rights of asylum when stating that the UK needs to back off.  Julian Assange was released on bail.  He is in violation of British law currently. 
You can assert that B means we follow the law while ignore the earlier event (A).  But when you assert that, you look like you are eithter uninformed or dishonest to anyone who knows the actual details.  In addition, you make others look foolish for believing you.  Kimberly Wilder (On The Wilder Side) is an intelligent and caring person.  And she believed she could trust that 'trusted voices' were telling the truth.  She has outraged several who have e-mailed this site about her comments regarding the accusations against Julian Assange in Sweden.  Her pithy claim that they wouldn't even be crimes in the US is embarrassing.  It appears that the Grand Idiot Naomi Wolf has influenced Wilder's take (either through reading or hearing Wolf or hearing others repeat Wofl's arguments).  Here's a tip for every woman in the US, when it comes to rape don't trust Naomi.  This is the woman who stayed silent following a gang rape -- excuse me, that's wrong.  This is a woman who stayed silent in terms of going to the authorities but who laughed with the rapists the night after a gang rape -- laughed about the victim, laughed about the victim's shoe left behind in the frat house as she escaped following her gang rape.  Why did Naomi laugh?  She didn't want to be called a lesbian.
Nothing could hurt the cock-driven (cock-starved?) Naomi Wolf more than to be called a lesbian.  Why didn't she call the authorities?  On that she's remained silent.  But when a professor apparently made a pass at her in the midst of a private evening (he denied it, she said it happened), she wanted the whole world to know about it, over a decade later.  (Did it happen? I have no idea.  But after you've mocked a victim of gang rape with her rapists and then been stupid enough to share that story, don't expect sympathy from me.)  Ava and I have repeatedly warned against that nutcase over the years (in terms of the nutcase and Assange, see "TV: Saboteurs"). 
The harm she's done on the Assange case will not go away.  That's why you don't lie.  Someone's going to believe you're on 'our side.'  When it comes to rape, however, 'our side' gets a hell of a lot smaller and any woman capable of self-honesty will admit that.  When it comes to the environment, the left is one big happy family, hugging trees and replanting forests.  When it comes to issues of violence against women, the left willing to call it out is about a quarter of what it was for the environment.
Michael at least says "my view" at one of his most ludicrous moments.  But he's an attorney and he should know better so the "my view" is nonsense.  He asserts that Julian "has a right to leave that embassy, get on a plane and go to Ecuador.  Will the British ever honor that . . ."? 
The British  right to arrest him -- he is a fugitive -- trumps the right of Ecuador.  They are on British soil.  It is not complicated and Michael knows that.  As does Julian Assange which is why Assange isn't strolling through London to an airport right now.
The dishonesty is so disappointing because we don't need more of it on the left.  If you want to make a case for Julian Assange going to Ecuador, you should be able to do so without resorting to falsehoods.  When Michael Ratner, an intelligent and usually thoughtful person, presents the sloppy throw-everything-at-the-wall-and-hope-something-sticks faux legal argument that he has, anyone paying attention is going to wonder: "If Michael Ratner can't make a plausible legal case, does that mean that there's not one?"
In fairness to Michael, he's not speaking as a legal analyst and shouldn't have been presented as such.  He's working for Assange.  A real public affairs program that operated under journalistic standards would have presented him with another guest who took a different opinion.  And the back-and-forth of such an exchange probably would have greatly sharpened Michael's own argument.
He makes assertions on aslyum that are puzzling at best.  He asserts that "once you've been given asylum, it's not like you can be then picked up by a country and sent into the hands of your persecutor.  Whether it's in the car, whether it's on the streets, wherever you are, it's illegal to do so."  There's no UK case law that backs that up.  If there's an international law that states that, I'm unfamiliar with it -- I am unfamiliar with it and many countries are also unfamiliar with it because this standard he's applying has not been the standard.  If you are wanted for murder and you claim you're a political target and Spain agrees to give you asylum, unless you are in Spain, the authorities have the right and will attempt to arrest you.  This is not a new development. 
Michael Ratner is incorrect when he says it's the law.  Asylum isn't a floating space in the midst of a game of tag-you're-it.  You're granted asylum at an embassy or in that host country.  By Michael's logic, Julian can remain in London, he can travel all over and, if anyone tries to arrest him, he just says, "Uh-uh, I've got asylum from Ecuador."  That's not how it works.
Michael asserts that, "It's illegal for them to stop Julian Assange trying to get to Ecuador."  In what world?  Does he not know any of the asylum cases during the lead up to WWII?  I cannot believe anyone would make such a claim.
We deserve better than that from Michael Ratner or from anyone.  What was broadcast today was a bunch of cheery, beat off material.  I believe the left has self-pleasured enough for the last four years.  Let's try reality and honesty instead.
We can discuss this again tomorrow but for now I am tired of people lying to make their political cases, I am tired of all the whoring.  I realize it's ingrained in some, certainly a number were more than willing to repeat as gospel whatever the party line was out of the mouth of Joseph Stalin.  It needs to stop.  Kimberly Wilder is a smart and caring person.  She's repeated a false claim because the left media whored.  They refused to tell the truth.  That needs to stop right now.  On the left we need to be smarter and more factual.  We're not helping anyone by dumbing ourselves down.  (And Bob Somerby tries to make that argument every day at The Daily Howler.  I wonder how many of us even listen?)
In addition, Michael sounded like the best little Joe Stalin groupie as he attacked the US and the UK and Sweden while praising Ecuador (CCR has also issued an embarrassing press release, Talk Radio News reports on it here).  Ecuador, despite their whoring, is not Mecca.  Click here for Human Rights Watch and here for Amnesty International.  Or go to Huffington Post to read about Ecuador's "Lesbian Torture Clinics."  (To be clear, the US can be criticized and I do so every day here.  That's not the issue.  The issue is presenting Ecuador as some wonderful savior when indigenous people, gays and lesbians and many, many more would beg to differ with your portrayal of their country.)
The left needs to grow the hell up, all of us.  And that includes losing the need to paint anyone who thinks as we do (or appears to) as marvelous, wonderful and 100% pure.  There is a growing number of people (possibly a small number but it's out there, we encounter them when we speak to college audiences especially) who feel Assange distracts from political prisoner Bradley Manning (I agree) and that Assange should turn himself in already because with his talk show and his this and his that he's become a joke (it's his decision to turn himself in or not, I have no opinon on that).  I would like that to be the end of it this week on Assange and hope that Monday, when the latest Law and Disorder Radio, rolls around -- which is hosted by  Heidi Boghosian, Michael S. Smith and, yes,  Michael Ratner -- that Michael will have sharpened his argument regarding to Julian Assange and we can open the snapshot with his explaining to us why the amnesty must take place.  He can, for example, present the same claims as the ethical (or "moral" -- but I refrain from the use of that term whenever possible) choice.  That's fine.  But don't claim something's the law when it's not.  We can't afford to be any more ill-informed or mis-informed in this country.  And we can't afford to lose someone as smart as Michael Ratner to the easy-bake punditry that has afflicted so many on the left.
Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) observes, "The current Muslim holy month of Ramadan was bloody for Iraqis as al Qaeda in Iraq carried out a number of deadly attacks across the country, targeting mainly Shiite areas."  And the violence of the month continued today as Iraq was slammed with a wave of violence.   RT offers a photo essay of some of the damage.   At least nine cities have seen major violence.  Kareem Raheem, Mustafa Mahmoud, Jamal al-Badrani, Fadhil al-Badrani, Ali Mohammed, Barry Malone and Patrick Markey (Reuters) note that while no one has claimed credit for today's violence -- it may be the work of one group or of many groups and individuals -- the Islamic State of Iraq has been taking credit for recent violence (following the announcement of their Breaking The Walls campaign) and "It has been reinvigorated by the inflow of fighters and cash into neighboring Syria, providing a morale boost and some extra arms and cash, security experts say. Iraqi insurgents are vowing to retake territory lost during a long war with American troops."  And such a move -- retaking territory -- would explain why some of the al Qaeda in Iraq that is now a part of the Free Syrian Army is reportedly buring weapons (see yesterday's snapshot) to prepare for the "after" if President Bashar al-Assad is driven out of power.  July 22nd, the Islamic State of Iraq released an audio recording announcing a new campaign of violence entitled Breaking The Walls which would include prison breaks and killing "judges and investigators and their guards."  (They also threatened to attack America on US soil.) Regardless of which individual or individuals are behind today's attacks, it is a bloody day in Iraq.

al Bawaba reports, "In the multi-ethnic city of Kirkuk (north), four car bombs exploded between 08.15 and 09.30, killing one person and injuring 20 others, according to a police official and Dr. Wali Karim from the main hospital in the city. Many members of the security forces were among the wounded, added the two sources."   Xinhua reports, "In addition, gunmen with assault rifles attacked a police checkpoint at an intersection just west of Baquba, killing one policeman and wounding another, the source added. Meanwhile, a member of the government-backed Awakening Council group was gunned down by gunmen near his house in Aswad village, some 9 km north of Baquba, he said." Near Baquba, Alsumaria reports, MP Hussain Kazhim Mahmud declared that his bodyguards were attacked today by 30 gunmen in three cars outside his Khalis office resulting in one assailant being killed and two of his bodyguards being injured (he is part of the Sadr bloc in Parliament).  Salam Faraj (AFP) reports, "In Al-Garma, near the former insurgent bastion of Fallujah west of Baghdad, four policemen were killed and three others wounded in a shooting at a checkpoint, according to police Major Enes Mahmud and Dr Omar Dalli at Fallujah hospital. As emergency responders and civilians rushed to the scene, a roadside bomb exploded, wounding three others."  Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) reports, "A car bomb exploded outside a real-estate building in northeastern Baghdad on Thursday morning, killing six people and wounding 32 others, police said.  Also Thursday, a car bomb exploded on a busy road in al-Taji district on the northern outskirts of Baghdad, wounding nine people, police said." Alsumaria reports the Tikrit police disarmed a car bomb at noon today but a Salahuddin Province home bombing resulted in the death of the wife of Mushtaq Ahmed al-Jaffar and left him and three of their sons injured.  Mu Xuequan (Xinhua) counts 29 dead and one-hundred-and-one people injured.

BBC News notes of today's violence throughout Iraq, "Many of the attacks targeted security personnel." Police, soldiers, Sahwa.  There are 15 more days in the month but already August has been a violent one.  Through yesterday, Iraq Body Count counts 206 violent deaths in Iraq so far this month.
 State of Law's Sa'ad al-Motallebi went on Iran's Press TV (link is text and video) to blame today's violence on . . . the Kurds?  Excerpt.

Press TV: Why do you think there has been a spike in attacks and violence in the past month. Do you see any relation to the current situation in Syria as the terrorist groups there are getting support from the US and its allies?

al-Motallebi: Yes, I think one of the factors, one of the reasons for the escalation of violence in Iraq could be for regional reasons from regional interferences.

Unfortunately, we have very complicated circumstances happening in Syria and a lot of al-Qaeda is transferring their activities from Iraq into Syria and vice versa.

Also, we have a complicated political situation with KRG, the Kurdistan Regional Government. Usually whenever we have differences with Kurdistan there would be an escalation of violence.

We are not sure of the relationship between the two events, but we cannot escape the fact that there are may be regional interference from inside Iraq or from Syria and definitely Turkey and Saudi Arabia will always be accused of instigating unrest in Iraq.
State of Law may have also been behind the rumors about the KRG earlier today.  Alsumaria reports KRG President Massoud Barzani has denied that the KRG will be providing asylum to the residents of Camp Ashraf.   What is Camp Ashraf?
Since Barack Obama has been sworn in as US president, Nouri has ordered not one but two attacks on Camp Ashraf resulting in multiple deaths.  Let's recap.  July 28, 2009 Nouri launched an attack (while then-US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was on the ground in Iraq). In a report released this summer entitled "Iraqi government must respect and protect rights of Camp Ashraf residents," Amnesty International described this assault, "Barely a month later, on 28-29 July 2009, Iraqi security forces stormed into the camp; at least nine residents were killed and many more were injured. Thirty-six residents who were detained were allegedly tortured and beaten. They were eventually released on 7 October 2009; by then they were in poor health after going on hunger strike." April 8, 2011, Nouri again ordered an assault on Camp Ashraf (then-US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was again on the ground in Iraq when the assault took place). Amnesty International described the assault this way, "Earlier this year, on 8 April, Iraqi troops took up positions within the camp using excessive, including lethal, force against residents who tried to resist them. Troops used live ammunition and by the end of the operation some 36 residents, including eight women, were dead and more than 300 others had been wounded. Following international and other protests, the Iraqi government announced that it had appointed a committee to investigate the attack and the killings; however, as on other occasions when the government has announced investigations into allegations of serious human rights violations by its forces, the authorities have yet to disclose the outcome, prompting questions whether any investigation was, in fact, carried out." Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) observes that "since 2004, the United States has considered the residents of Camp Ashraf 'noncombatants' and 'protected persons' under the Geneva Conventions."
In recent weeks the situation surrounding the safety of 3,400 members of an Iranian opposition group based in Iraq has taken a significant turn in the halls of the White House.
As the US takes a keener interest in protecting these Iranians from the clutches of the regime in Tehran, it appears that this US administration has finally realised that it cannot allow Iraq to fall into the hands of Tehran.
How the story of Camp Ashraf now plays out will tell us much about where the future of Iraq lies.
[. . .]
[US Secretary of State Hillary] Clinton and her team in Iraq must succeed in guaranteeing the safety of the Camp Ashraf residents. This will allow the UN to carry out the ultimate relocation work. Not only will this ensure that the US has carried out its humanitarian duty, but further it will leave Iraq less influenced by Iran and the US seen as a nation which lives up to its obligation. This is something that the entire democratic opposition movements of the Arab Spring will look to for hope and is a test which the US cannot fail.
The US State Dept may make a decision in October, it may not, as to the residents.  The US federal court system is expecting the State Dept to have made a decision by then.

David Letterman:  Now let me ask you about medical marijuana.

Roseanne Barr: David, you know one thing I want to say is Obama is trying to take our medical marijuana  over there in California and trying to send in federal troops to get our medical marijuana and I'll tell you this, Obama, you'll get my joint when you pry it ouf of my cold, dead fingers.  That's when.  And I know -- I don't want to get Obama's kill list.  You know, I got to look out for drones on my way home now I know.
David Letterman:  Let's say a person signs up for the medical marijuana --
Roseanne Barr: Okay.
David Letterman:  -- is there a list of ailments that you have to support or prove you have?
Roseanne Barr:  You know, it's not funny, Dave.  It's a real medicine that a lot of people can't live without.  I mean it really helps with mental illness and stuff which is why I use it.  [Applause.]  The only bad thing is you can't use it and own a gun.  If you're on the medical marijuana, they won't let you own a gun.  Well all these drunks are walking around with guns.  And now, did you know that in the state of California that big government is trying to get these porn stars and force them to wear rubbers.  The founding fathers are rolling over in their graves on that, Dave.
On CBS' The Talk, actress and co-host Sarah Gilbert [who played Darlene on Roseanne] offered, "I think Roseanne's always been a pioneer, she's always thought outside the box and done things diferently than anybody else and I wish her all the success in her new career."  Independent Political Reporter notes Darcy Richardson on who he is supporting:
While I deeply respect Rocky Anderson and Jill Stein, I'm in the process of organizing a Peace & Freedom Party affiliate here in Florida and hope to place Roseanne Barr and Cindy Sheehan on the November ballot. We filed our qualifying paperwork  --  i.e., the party's officers, bylaws and constitution --  with the Division of Elections on Tuesday.
On The Big Picture with Sam Sacks (RT), Jill Stein spoke about the Green New Deal and Vote Third Party has reposted the episode.  Excerpt.
Sam Sacks:  The Green Party is the only political party today running on a new Economic Bill of Rights guaranteeing a job, a living wage, quality health care, a good education and housing and other rights to all Americans.   Not only that, the Green Party is the only political party that's speaking out against the corporate takeover of our democracy and economy.  It's running on a platform to overturn corporate personhood, guarantee a vote  for all eligible Americans and set up a robust public financing system that breaks up the two party duopoly in America and brings new ideas into the political debate.  Our nation is in crisis today and it's obvious that doubling down on 30 years of failed economic policy won't work and neither will trimming around the edges and looking for minor tweeks.  We need revolutionary change in America and joining me now to talk about how that happens is Dr. Jill Stein, the Green Party's presidential candidate for president of the United States.  Dr. Stein, welcome.
Jill Stein:  Thank you so much, Sam, it's great to be with you.
Sam Sacks:  It's an honor to have you on.  You're proposing this Bill of Economic Rights I just mentioned that [US President Franklin D.] Roosevelt tried to propose.  Had he been successful 70 years ago, would we have been able to see CEOs taking more and more profits that should have gone to better wages?  Would we have seen Too Big To Fail jump up on Wall Street and crash our economy?  Would we be in the mess that we're in today.
Jill Stein:  Well we certainly shouldn't be.  You know, where we'd be is hard to say because even those reforms that were passed in that era following the Great Depression, those reforms to separate the investment from the commercial banks, the Social Security, Medicare, you know, the various reforms that have grown out of the New Deal and beyond, they are -- they havehave been under attack for decades. So it's hard to say where we'd be, but it's clear that right now we are in a real crisis.  And that crisis give us, you know, it's really a perfect storm for revisting where we are.  And that means not only an Economic Bill of Rights, but also a full employment program to put people back to work.   We did this in the midst of the Great Depression.  And the New Deal substantially got us out of the Great Depression.  It reduced the unemployment rate to about 25% down to about 10% before the start of WWII which finished the job.  But prior to that it had been enormously successful.  There's no reason why we don't do that today.  We could have a full employment program by directly creating jobs -- for basically the amount of money that the president  spent in the stimulus package of 2009.  Instead of jump starting two to three million jobs which was actually what was created then, we could actually create 16 million jobs directly, which in turn would create a secondary waves of about 8 million jobs, get us to  25 million jobs which is what we need.  And the difference is that instead of providing tax breaks to large corporations  which was the bulk of that stimulus package, instead we can directly provide jobs at the community level, provide national funding, but put communities in charage of deciding what jobs they need to become sustainable not only economically, [but] socially and also environmentally.   And in doing that,  we not only solve the economic emergency that we're facing but also the climate emergency because the Green New Deal jump starts that transformation to the Green  Economy which is absolutely essential if we're to survive not only into the next century but increasingly we're looking at into the next decade or two given the rate at which climate change is accelerating and exceeding the wildest and most dire predictions of the science which is  has been proven really to have been too optimistic.  So, in our view, the clock is ticking.  We don't have time to fool around with the unemployment crisis or the climate crisis that we're facing.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The dead and the brain dead

Hump day, hump day.  Alexander Cockburn died recently.

There was a time when that might have been sad to me.  His crap in 2008 ensured that I was left indifferent to the passing. I wouldn't even be writing about it now but I think David Walsh (WSWS) nailed it in his obit:

Cockburn did not look back from this. Whatever critique of this or that feature of contemporary society he offered during the next forty years was never rooted in a scientific assessment of capitalist society and the contradictions that would inevitably produce social explosions.
After all, could a serious threat to the powers that be have been tolerated for a decade at the Wall Street Journal, a principal mouthpiece of the US financial oligarchy? When the Village Voice fired Cockburn in 1984, largely because of his exposure of Israeli crimes, the Journal kept the journalist on the payroll, noting complacently that “Interesting columnists come, like Cromwell, warts and all.”
Cockburn’s writing has a political sameness about it, from year to year. To a certain extent, he required verbal gifts and “spice” to disguise the fact that he was repeating many of the same truisms (at best) over and over again.
Going through the pages of the numerous books put out by Cockburn and St. Clair in the past decade, for example, one comes upon colorful accounts, interesting facts and even insights. The New York Times and Judith Miller receive a deserved pummeling, along with the Washington Post, Fox’s Bill O’Reilly, Rupert Murdoch, Colin Powell, Elie Wiesel, the “war on drugs,” Bill Clinton and Al Gore, liberal proponents of torture, and so forth.
Cockburn certainly had an advantage over those who were frantically abandoning every principle and joining the pro-imperialist camp in the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union and during the wars against the former Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and now Syria.

[. . .]

In this regard, Cockburn and St. Clair are not distinguished from the pseudo-left as a whole, including the International Socialist Organization and numerous other “socialist” tendencies that conceive of the “left” as a lobby within the Democratic Party orbit.

And Lynn Sweet writes about the Dem and Rep back and forth:

 The latest tangles started Tuesday, when Vice President Joe Biden at a rally in southern Virginia jumped off his script to make a point about Romney’s Wall Street proposals.
Biden said, “Romney . . . in the first hundred days, he is going to let the big banks once again write their own rules. Unchain Wall Street. They are going to put y’all back in chains.”
I don’t have a clue why Biden, from Delaware, decided to use a Southern dialect — that’s what it sounded like when I listened to him several times. And yes, race comes to mind because of where Biden said it.
Romney jumped on the opening Biden gave him at his rally in Chillicothe, Ohio, Tuesday night and Wednesday.
“Another outrageous charge just came a few hours ago in Virginia, and the White House sinks a little bit lower. This is what an angry and desperate presidency looks like. President Obama knows better, promised better, and America deserves better,” Romney said Tuesday.

The New York Post offers this take on why Biden said something that would at least appear to be painting Romney as a racist:

Surely the president’s diminishing support with his bedrock core constituency — African-Americans — has his chief political operatives in a sweat.
A recent poll by the Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling gives Romney 20 percent of the black vote in North Carolina — a state where Obama took 95 percent of black votes in 2008.
And where, as recently as May, he was winning 87 percent of those votes.
Polls in other states with a large black vote have shown similar results.
Why? Who knows?
We’d guess that the president’s “evolution” on gay marriage has disconcerted African-American social conservatives.
But for whatever reason, the decline — while marginal — is real.


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

Wednesday, August 15, 2012.  Chaos and violence continue,  Nouri continues spying on Iraqis, the stalemate continues as well, an Iraqi who came to the US (after snitching on his own father) is charged in a rape, Australians begin to lobby for an inquiry into the Iraq War, we look at two presidential campaigns, and more.
It's war, war, war all the time thanks to no real change in the Oval Office in years.  As Syria remains targeted, international law expert Francis A. Boyle weighed in today:
Professor of International Law at the University of Illinois College of Law in Champaign, Boyle said today: "Without authorization by the United Nations Security Council and express authorization from the U.S. Congress pursuant to the terms of the War Powers Resolution, for President Obama to establish any type of so-called 'no-fly zone' over Syria would be illegal, unconstitutional, and impeachable."  While serving as the Lawyer for the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1993, Boyle procured the NATO no-fly zone over Bosnia.  He is the author of The Bosnian People Charge Genocide (Aletheia Press: 1966).
Staying on the topic of Syria,  on yesterday's Flashpoints Radio on KPFA (here for KPFA archive -- after 14 days, the show will only be archived at Flashpoints site), guest host Kevin Pina spoke with a Syrian correspondent.  His name was something like Al'a Ibrahim.  (Something like? I'm not sure of the spelling.)  We'll do an excerpt.
Kevin Pina: My last question is you've probably heard in Damascus the increasing rhetoric by the Obama adminstration, Secretary [of State] Hillary Clinton certainly raising the stakes, saying openly that they are preparing for a post government, a government post-Assad dictatorship -- as they're describing it.  Has there been any reaction in Damascua?  Have people heard of it, these pronouncements by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton?
Syrian Correspondent in Damascus: Well though it's very useful to call on the statements of the American Secretary of State Clinton and American President Barack Obama, I don't know how much we can count on them.  Let's keep in mind, President Obama said last year, in June,  that the days of President [Bashir] al-Assad were numbered.  Yet, a year later, he's still in power.  He still controls the army.  He still controls the country and everything seems to be at his hands right now.  So as important as these statemens may be as an indication of where the American politics are going and what they will do, I wouldn't count on this?  I think one way or anorther we're seeing the events in Syria.  They're saying they've been preparing for the post-Assad era and they should worry about all the free army.  The Free Army is obviously linked to al Qaeda, is obviously linked to jihadists.  Everyone knows that.  You have people coming from all over the world to fight the Syrian government, a secular government.  [. . .] Who will they attack later on?  I've been speaking today with one of my sources inside the Free Syrian Army and he told me something very interesting.  There's a rift growing right now between the Free Army and these and when we talk about the when we talk about the Free Army, we're talking about mainy that includes some deserting soldiers, some people who are against the government, some people who have issues with authority one way or the other. 
And the other side?  The Islamic Movement, the Red Brigade and the front for al Qaeda.  The correspondent noted that in addition to the growing rift, he has also observed this second side burying weapons.  Why?  They're convinced that President Bashar al-Assad will be driven out of the country and that when that happens, that's when they will need weapons to take over the country. 
That's who the US government has gotten into bed with.  And it does matter who you get in bed with.  The US government previously hopped into bed with Jasim Mohammed Hassin Ramadon.  The Iraqi should have sent off alarm signals and would have in any thinking person's head.  "Turncoat" is the only word for him.  He repeatedly turned over Iraqis, snitched on them, to the US military.  Some might applaud that but I think even those who applaud would pause when they learned that among those who snitched and saw taken away was his own father.  Matt Stafford (KOAA) told the tale of the snitch and as Iraq War veteran Delman Fletcher says in that report, "13 years old; who would turn in their father?"  Exactly.
The snitch is making headlines again.  The 22-year-old* is now accused of a violent assault.  [*22?  In the KOAA story already linked to, he is said to be 19.  That was last October.  All outlets today are reporting he is 22.]  AP explains the turncoat "is one of five Iraqis accused of rape-related chartes after a woman suffered serious injuries during a [. . .] assault in Colorado Springs."  Andy Koen (KOAA) reports that the police say "a significant of blood" was all over the crime scene and quotes police Lt Howard Black stating, "I would tell you that this is one of the most horrific [. . .] assault crimes I've seen in my career as a police officer."  [What's missing?  "Sexual."  We say over and over -- rightly -- that rape is not about sex.  So why are we calling these crimes "sexual assaults"? I don't know.  I've heard it questioned by others but only registered as a result of our noting various assaults here.  From this point forward, we're not including "sexual" before assaults in these cases.]  The other four suspects arrested are Ali Mohammed Hasan Al Juboori, Sarmad Fadhi Mohammed, Yasir Jabbar Jasim and Mustafa Sataar Al Feraji.  And, yes, they all are suspects at this point, even Jasim Mohammed Hassin Ramadon.  But when you snitch on your father, when you snitch on your own father and get him turned over to foreign forces in your country, no one's going to rush to give you too much benefit of the doubt.  All five men are Iraqis.
Jasim Moahmmed Hassin Ramadon has been charged with assault and with being an accessory.  Charges are pending against the others. CBS Denver adds that, "Police say she [the victim] sufered significant internal injuries consistent with blunt force trauma and serious bodily injuries that they say they rarely see.  Because the men are Iraqis with permanent resident status, the Colorado Springs Police Department says they may be deported if they are convicted."  On this story, the US press would do well to stop referring to Ramadon as a "hero."  In Iraq, he's not considered a hero.  You don't turn your own father over to foreign, occupying forces and get to be called a 'hero.'  If he is found guilty, his attorney will most likely (he has a public defender at present) argue against returning him to Iraq by insisting that Ramadon's collaboration with the US military means he is at risk of being killed if he returns to Iraq.  Should that argument take place, the American news consumer will grasp it a lot quicker if this 'hero' nonsense was dropped. 
The news cycle started today with Australia as Ninesmn reported former Minister of Defense Robert Hill (2001 to 2006) was insisting that Australia didn't need an inquiry into the Iraq War with him declaring, "There's a lot of big challenges out there in the world today, including challenges of peace and security."  And that could have been the end of it.  Certainly after the miserable inquiry into the death of Jake Kovko, no one can expect much in the way of honesty from the Australian government on the topic of Iraq.  But then other voices began weighing in.  Radio Australia notes, "Former defence secretary Paul Barratt has told Australia Network's Newsline it is apparent now that in the lead-up to the war there was a great deal of manipulation of intelligence within the US system." Richard Norton-Taylor (Guardian) reports:
Demands for an inquiry are led by former Liberal prime minister, Malcolm Fraser, former defence secretary, Paul Barratt, and former chief of the Australian Defence Force, General Peter Gration.
In a foreword to the publication "Why did we go to war in Iraq? A call for an Australian inquiry", which says Australia was exposed to the accusation of waging an illegal war, Fraser writes that an inquiry would not rake over old coals but rather "develop a better understanding of how warfare decisions are reached and to strengthen the governmental structures against precipitous or ill-considered actions in future."
The call for an inquiry is also supported by a statement signed by 30 leading academics in politics and law, retired senior diplomats and experts in the field of war and conflict.
Ramesh Thakur (National Times) has come up with eight reasons why an inquiy is needed.  Here are the first three reasons:
There are several reasons why an inquiry would be timely, if not overdue. First, 2013 will mark the 10th anniversary of the launch of the Iraq War. A decade on is a good time to reflect back on the reasons, circumstances and decision-making procedures by which a country went to any war.
Second, there is by now widespread, although not unanimous, international agreement that the Iraq War was morally wrong, illegal, unjustified and had many seriously damaging consequences for Western interests. The primary justification for going to war was to destroy an alleged active program of building weapons of mass destruction. This has been proven false. In 2008 former secretary of state Madeleine Albright said that the invasion of Iraq was ''the greatest disaster in American foreign policy'', worse even than Vietnam in its unintended consequences. We need to study the long-term consequences of the war for Australia's security interests.
Third, prime minister John Howard committed Australia to war by citing the ANZUS Treaty. Yet the Iraq War may itself have been in violation of Australia's international obligations under ANZUS. Its Article 1 obligates all members to settle any international disputes ''by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security and justice are not endangered and to refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force in any manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations''. Australia must reconcile its ANZUS and UN obligations.

Will Australia get an inquiry?  It would put it ahead of the US which still hasn't had a real one.  Also true is that John Howard, prime minister at the start of the Iraq War, doesn't feel like he's ever gotten the credit he deserves.  His envy of all the press attention on War Criminals Bush and Blair could have him itching to appear before ain inquiry board.
Kristina Wong (Washington Times) reports, "The Pentagon's top officer [Gen Martin Dempsey, Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff] will travel to Iraq at the end the month to check on progress in a country that has been beset by sectarian violence and political turmoil since the United States withdrew most of its troops in December."
And in Iraq, multiple acts of violence.  Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) reports a Baquba car bombing claimed 3 lives and left nine more people injured while in Muqdadiya a car bombing was quickly followed by a second bombing resulting in 7 deaths and twenty-seven people injured. al-Shorfa adds that Iyad Hussein Ahmed ("lead judicial investigator in Mosul) was shot dead in Mosul. All Iraq News reports a police officer was shot dead in Mosul and a woman and her daughter were left wounded due to an attack on the checkpoint by unknown assailants.  AP reports 2 Yazidis were shot dead in Qahataniya (the two were brothers).  AFP notes a Dohuk sticky bombing which left two people injured.  In addition, Alsumaria notes the PKK has announced they killed 2 Turkish soldiers near the Iraq border. Margaret Griffis ( counts 13 people reported dead yesterday in Iraq and another seventeen reported injured.  Also today, Ahlul Bayt News Agency reports another mass arrest, this time 7 were arrested in Anbar Province.
The big news out of Iraq today centers around spying.  Al Mada reports that Nouri al-Maliki has been provided with sophisticated spying devices which allow him to gather information on his political rivals and, the devices were provided by the US government.  These devices are said to have been used to record the recently released 2011 conversation between Tareq al-Hashemi and Ayad Allawi.   Along with speaking to various MPs, Al Mada also spoke with security sources and they revealed that the hidden camera was found in Tareq al-Hashemi's former office and that this is one of many such devices Nouri has planted in the offices of his rivals.  (For more on the spying topic and for the al-Hasemi and Allawi taped conversation, see "Iraq's sex tape rumors.")

As early as 2008, Parliament was sounding alarms that their private discussions did not appear to be so private.  In the years since, it's only been more obvious that Nouri has been illegally spying.  From the October 31, 2011 snapshot:

Mvelase Peppetta (Memeburn) reports alarm that the government of Syria has "internaet censorship equipment." It's illegal, according to US law, for it to have this Blue Coat Systems 'filter.' How did it get it? Apparently from Iraq. The US government okayed the sale of web censorship equipment to Iraq. Did the US government bother to run that past either the Iraqi people or the American people? No. Nor did it publicize the sale.

From the November 25, 2011 snapshot:

Today Khaled Waleed (Niqash) reports on the issue:

The US government says it is investigating how the devices got to Syria and Blue Coat Systems of Sunnyvale, the California-based company responsible for manufacturing the equipment, says it is cooperating fully. If the firm deliberately violated the sanctions -- which say special permission is required to import this kind of equipment into Syria -- then it could be liable for a fine of up to US$1 million.
Although the 14 web monitoring devices were shipped to Dubai late in 2010 from where they were supposed to be sent to Iraq, Iraq itself has denied any involvement in the transaction.
Nonetheless in Iraq, the issue is also causing concern. Since 2004, when the US put into effect the Syria Accountability Act, for what the US sees as Syria's support of "terrorism, involvement in Lebanon, weapons of mass destruction programs and the destabilizing role it is playing in Iraq", goods that contain more than 10 per cent componentry that is manufactured in the US have been prohibited from being exported there. However it is quite possible that Syria has been able to obtain embargoed goods through third parties. The question now is what Iraq had to do with the 13 Blue Coat web surveillance devices.

Now the US government is worried about supplying freedom suppressing techonology?  Now that Syria has the technology and might use it to harm the people of Syria. But the US allowed despot Nouri to have the technology even though he has a long record of suppressing freedom.

In 2011, journalists and activists repeatedly spoke of how they were being spyed on.  They noted that the Iraqi government seemed to know a great deal about them.  They were threatened on their cell phones and told not to attend protests.  A huge wealth of information appeared to be available to Nouri al-Maliki.

In addition to the above, Al Mada notes the Ministry of Communication recently issued a warning that cell phones were being monitored by "international" bodies -- such as the CIA which remains in Iraq.
Guess what else remains in Iraq?  That's right, the political stalemate. It might be something Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari would like to speak to the US Ambassador to Iraq about.  However, there is no US Ambassador to Iraq.  All Iraq News reports he met instead with Robert Beecroft who is the Charge D'Affairs.  Al Mada reports that Kurdish MP Muhammad Qasim told them the questioning of Nouri before Parliament and no-confidence vote has not been forgotten, merely delayed until after Eid al-Fitr.  Qasim notes that the Constitution allows for the questioning of the PM and that they are doing things according to the law.  Earlier, Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi also noted that the questioning had not been disgarged.  Eid al-Fitr is a holiday to mark the end of Ramadan and of fasting during that holy month.  In Iraq this year, it starts on August 19th and continues on the 20th and 21st.  It's a three day celebration.   All Iraq News notes that State of Law MP  Abdul Slam al-Maliki has issued a statement declaring that the names of the nominees for the Minister of Defense and Minister of Interior will be announced after Eid al-Fitr.

Christophe Ayad (Le Monde via the Guardian) weighs in on the conflict between Nouri's Baghdad-based government and the Kurdistan Regional Government:

Baghdad and Erbil have an endless list of grievances, ranging from border controls and the integration of the peshmerga to the Iraqi national army, to the delimitation of Kurdistan and the sharing of wealth between the centre and the autonomous region – especially oil.
There is a fear that growing Kurdish independence will serve as an example to the Sunni provinces, or even to the oil-rich Shia province of Basra in the far south of Iraq, which produces 2m of the 2.5m Iraqi barrels a day. "Al-Maliki would far rather be the leader of a large country than the master of a 'Shia-istan' in the south of Iraq," was one western diplomat's analysis. Conversely, Barzani sees himself as the defender of Iraqi minorities in the face of Shia "hegemony". That is why he granted asylum to the Sunni vice-president Tariq al-Hashemi in December 2011, after he was judged in abstentia in Iraq for having headed a death squad during the civil war (2005-2008).

The much anticipated Reform Commission is really just a forthcoming list.  Alsumaria notes that the KRG, via Mohammad Ehsan, has made clear that the list better include the issue of Article 140.  Article 140 is in the Iraq Constitution -- hence its name -- and it requires that the disputed territories have a census and referendum.  It also was supposed to be implemented by the end of 2007.  This is not open to debate or dispute, this is written into the Constitution.  Nouri al-Maliki becomes prime minister in Iraq in the spring of 2006.  But Nouri ignored it, despite taking an oath to uphold the Constitution.  He has repeatedly refused to implement this. 
Turning to the US where the chair of the Black Is Back Coalition,  Omali Yeshitela, spoke with Glen Ford on this week's Black Agenda Radio (here for that broadcast) which airs on Progressive Radio Network each Monday from 4:00 to 5:00 pm EST.  Excerpt of interview:
Omali Yeshitela: It is time for us to demand that we change the situation where we have people who are running for office, and Barack Hussein Obama is just a glaring example, that can speak to every constituency, make all kinds of promises to every constituency, except the African community.  That has nothing positive to say.  In fact, the only time he speaks to the African community generally speaking has been negatively while he can give the whole of Jerusalem to the Israelis in order to court the Jewish vote and this country, while he can talk about accepting and promoting same-sex marriages to win the gay vote in this country, while he can even give platitudes to the so-called Latino Hispanic, as he calls it, vote even while deporting  more than even Bush did, he cannot even make any promise, he cannot even make a promise specific to the African community which suffers from severe contradictions -- which is not to say that other communities don't.  But the fact is we can no longer tolerate a situation where somebody can simply get our vote by being Black and being unwilling to address any of the contradictions specific to our community.
Glen Ford: And isn't this distressing that for the first time Black folks are accepting not being directly spoken to?
Omali Yeshitela:  It is extraordinarly distressing and I'm concerned about what it could mean in terms of a certain kind of precedent because how do you come back and make demands on any other president when all we do is make excuses for this guy?  I hear people saying, 'Well he's representing all the people so we can't make demands specific to us.'  I hear them saying, 'Well the power of the president is so limited so he can't do this and that.'  But that's now what people were saying about Bush.  And that's not even what a lot of people were saying about Clinton.  So this guy gets a free ride.  And in doing so, I just hate what it means in terms of politically immobilizing the African community and I believe putting us in bad place in terms of being able to make demands on any person who is in office and certainly the president.  But that is one of the things that I believe that makes the Black is Back coalition so important at this juncture in history when the world is going through such incredible transformation -- that the Black Is Back Coalition has been there, has not deserted the African community, has tried to arm the community so that despite the fact that so many are currently less than before but caught up in the Obama Drama that people will be able to have some kind of leadership that they can fall back on as a consequence of what this coalition is doing.
Last week, while reporting on Jill Stein's campaign for WBUR, Todd Domke may have come up with a campaign slogan for the Stein - Honkala ticket, "We are the change we are still waiting for."  Domke points out:
The New York Times reported last month that the Green Party "expects to be on the ballot in at least 45 states." And Stein "will be the party's first candidate to have qualified for federal matching funds -- a milestone for this 11-year-old alternative party and potentially a major boost for a campaign that does not accept corporate donations."
 DC blogger (Corrente) notes of the Stein campaign, "Now hiring for the most exciting campaign of 2012."   Today the campaign Tweeted:
jillstein2012 The #GreenNewDeal will make our communities sustainable, healthy & just. If that's a future you'd like, PLS RT. 2 hours ago · reply · retweet · favorite
jillstein2012 It's time to end unemployment & debt in America. It's time to transition to a new #green economy. It's time for a #GreenNewDeal. 5 hours ago · reply · retweet · favorite
Jill:   / Well, there's one thing I should say which is just that the core of the Green New Deal is actually creating jobs and for the cost of the President's first Stimulus Package, which made a small dent but really wasn't a solution. It was not a solution of the magnitude that we need. This would really create the solution that we need for the same amount of money but it would work, because instead of just giving it away to corporations, which was the majority of that Stimulus Package. It was basically tax breaks. That doesn't create jobs. Instead we would do direct job creation like they did during the New Deal. It actually worked. It substantially moved us forward out of the Great Depression. This would put resources and money--
Rob: What does that mean? "Direct job creation?" That sounds like bottom up to me.
Jill:   Exactly. It's totally bottom up, so that it would provide the funding from a national level. It would provide the funding, and I'll talk about where the funding comes from in a second. But it provides the funding to communities, so it's an extremely bottom up solution. It provides it to communities. It's not a top down cookie cutter program. It provides resources to communities and certain guidelines that allow the communities to identify what kinds of jobs they need in order to become sustainable; not just ecologically but also economically and socially. So, it provides communities the ability to create jobs which are locally based. So, we're not talking about bringing in a branch of Bank of America or some mortgage foundation or some multi-national corporation: Coca-Cola or whatever. It's about jumpstarting local small businesses and worker cooperatives in a whole broad area of the Green economy and areas that meet our social and economic needs so that we have local economies where the dollars are being re-circulated. Where, as you probably know, every dollars counts for much more because it's passing through the hands--many hands within the community. Every dollar counts for more and the profits are not being shipped overseas to corporate headquarters in the Cayman Islands. They stay right there in small businesses, who've been killed, been killed by both Democratic and Republican policies over the last couple decades. So this re-establishes local small business-based economies and businesses as well as worker cooperatives, because we need to diversify this economy.
It also creates public services and public works which allow you to just go down to the employment office instead of the unemployment office and at the employment office, you can get a job doing a whole variety of services and works that serve your community. And again, this is within that broad spectrum of jobs that range from local food supplies, establishing a relocalized organic agricultural system, which is resilient to the stresses of rising oil prices as well as climate change and all that. There's just innumerable benefits to developing local sustainable agriculture and supporting our small farmers, as well as public transportation, including an active. What we call recreational transportation components, so you can ride your bike to the train, get on the train, have a place to take your bike with your or leave it there, etc. That begins to create an infrastructure for health that allows us to get our exercise, getting to where we need to go safely and conveniently instead of having to go join a health club and pay a big health fee. That's not how you get a healthy society. We need to be able to be active as a component of transportation.
It includes, of course, weatherization, insulation--all those things that can put communities to work that have high unemployment rates but don't have PhDs. You don't even need a high school degree in order to do that insulation and sort of simple construction and weatherization work. So, we can get the jobs into the communities that need them most and I should mention that that is a provision also of the Green New Deal; that it directs the resources to where they're need, not to the places that have political influence, but rather particularly it prioritizes the places with the worst unemployment so we can start providing the relief where it is most needed. That includes, creating green energy as well, solar and wind as well as the efficiencies and as well as the social services, like teachers and nurses, after school daycare, elder care, drug abuse prevention and rehabilitation, violence prevention and affordable housing construction. So, it's a broad range of job.
Communities have full leeway to decide what kinds of jobs are priorities for them and are needed most in their communities. So, it's a win-win because it not only solves the economic emergency, it also solves the climate emergency, because it prioritizes that transition to green energy and it also just so happens, it make wars for oil, obsolete. You don't need oil when you've got green energy here at home. And in doing that, it allows us to cut back on our military budget which has doubled over the last decade without making us twice as secure. Hardly, in many ways, we are not more secure at all. So, we're calling for downsizing and right sizing the military, bringing the troops home and bringing the bases home as well that are scattered around the globe.
Sunday, Roseanne Barr became the first presidential candidate to be roasted on TVKenneth Walsh [kenneth in the (212)] notes his favorite moment of the roast was when Roseanne said, "I'd really like to thank [ex-husband] Tom [Arnold] for showing up tonight . . . he was very funny . . . but, Jesus Christ, how many [bleeping] jobs do I have to get for that guy.  If I can bury my rolling, boiling, ceaseless hatred for the likes of Tom Arnold, maybe there's a chance we can have world peace."
The P&F Party describes itself as California's Feminist Socialist Political Party and "opposes capitalism, imperialism, racism, sexism and elitism." Though she has no chance to win, she told CNN's Piers Morgan that she hopes to make "socialist solutions part of the narrative."  
Answering a Green Party questionnaire earlier this year, Barr says the issues closest to her heart were obliterating the two party system (she calls them the "two-headed beast"); ending corporate personhood; preventing the exportation of jobs to "countries with immoral, inadequate and nonexistent labor laws;" shutting down all U.S. military bases worldwide, and legalizing marijuana.
On her Peace and Freedom platform she also says she also will recognize Palestine, forgive all student loans, and allow third-parties the right to ballot access in all 50 states.
This weekend please join former Congresswoman and presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney along with Roseanne Barr – who is running for President this November! Both of these courageous women will be appearing on the 2nd day (Saturday, August 18) of this 3 day historical event.
The Consciousness Beyond Chemtrails Conference will be held from August 17 – 19, 2012, at the historic Ebell Theater in Los Angeles. The entire event will also be available live online; details for viewing are listed on the website.
At the conference an impressive roster of concerned citizens will examine the global implications of manipulating the weather. In addition to Roseanne Barr and Cynthia McKinney, international bestselling author and GMO expert Jeffrey M. Smith, will discuss the alarming increase in genetically engineered foods and there will also be the world premiere of Michael Murphy's new film, "Why in The World Are They Spraying?"
Roseanne's running mate Cindy appeared on The Karel Show.   With the host, she discussed her recent essay "No Dancing? No Thanks."  Excerpt.
Cindy Sheehan: It was relevant to say though because everybody thinks that Roseanne Barr is not serious about running for president --
Charles Karel:  Right.
Cindy Sheehan: And she's very serious.  She's not a clown, she's a comedian.  I think you know the difference between being a clown and a comedian.  A comedian can like dig down in these serious issues and make them relevant and funny to people so they understand them better.
Charles Karel:  Right.
Cindy Sheehan:  It's just something that needed to be said.
 [. . .]
Charles Karel: GIven that you may not win, what do you want to add to the dialogue of the campaigns?
Cindy Sheehan: There's one very specific thing that we'd like for to happen  in California, of course we need  to register 48,000 more people to the Peace and Freedom Party and if we get 50,000 people to register to the Peace and Freedom, that sends a message to the Democrats that they're not doing their job.  And another thing is my major issue is peace.  Of course,  Roseanne is a big anti-war, anti-empire, pro-peace person herself, but her big issue is medicinal cannabis.