Thursday, October 17, 2013

Some can stand up

I hope you saw Cedric's  "Sit down, tired Medea" and Wally's "THIS JUST IN! WEAK ASS MEDEA BENJAMIN!" this morning.  As C.I. points out in "The Drone War and how Medea Benjamin keeps it going" Medea gave an interview on The Drone War but never managed to mention two words: Barack Obama.  What a coward Medea is.  Cedric and Wally contrast that with 16-year-old Malala Yousafzai who asked Barack to stop The Drone War.  Dave Linfdorff covers it at CounterPunch:

After that courageous Pakistani advocate of girls’ right to an education, Malala Yousafzai, had her meeting with President Obama and his wife Michelle and older daugher Malia in the White House, the White House issued a press release and a photo, saying that the presidential couple had invited this youngest ever Nobel Peace Prize nominee to visit “to thank her for her inspiring and passionate work on behalf of girls’ education in Pakistan.”
It hardly did justice to the courage of a young girl who, for publicly demanding that children of her gender be allowed to study in a society where many Muslim fundamentalists consider the education of women a dangerous threat, continues her advocacy even after she was attacked on her way to school and targed with a nearly fatal shot to the head by a Taliban death squad .
But the White House press release was worse than just dismissive of this brave girl.
It further diminished the import of he visit, and her remarkable courage, by failing to note that she had taken the opportunity of her visit to tell the president directly to his face that he should halt the drone attacks that he has been ordering on suspected Taliban “leaders” in western Pakistan — drone attacks that have often been calculated to kill not just targeted individuals but many innocent men, women and children in the vicinity of the blasts.
As Malala recalls the moment in a statement she released herself after her meeting with the commander in chief of the most powerful war machine the world has ever known:
“I thanked President Obama for the United States’ work in supporting education in Pakistan and Afghanistan and for Syrian refugees. I also expressed my concerns that drone attacks are fueling terrorism. Innocent victims are killed in these acts, and they lead to resentment among the Pakistani people. If we refocus efforts on education it will make a big impact.”
Wow! Sitting just feet away from the president of the United States, and as his invited guest, that had to take guts.

I think that young lady has shown up a ton of lefties in the US.  Good for her.

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

Wednesday,  October 16, 2013.  Chaos and violence continue, Nouri is visiting (the press reports after the White House gives them permission), failure Nouri asks Iraqis to stop using electricity, we again review the fact that US troops are not out of Iraq, The Drone War goes on, Cindy Sheehan goes on trial next week for protesting The Drone War, and much more.

Statement by the Press Secretary on the Visit of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki of Iraq

On Friday, November 1, President Obama will host Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki at the White House.  The visit will highlight the importance of the U.S.-Iraq relationship under the U.S.-Iraq Strategic Framework Agreement (SFA).  The President looks forward to discussing with Prime Minister Maliki efforts to enhance cooperation in the fields covered under the SFA, and to coordinating on a range of regional issues.

Strange this wasn't noted in today's State Dept press briefing.  Even stranger is the press coverage like The Voice of Russia, Reuters, AFP, David Jackson (USA Today), and KUNA.  Dropping back to Monday's snapshot:

His intended end of the month visit to DC is about making sure that he still has the White House backing.  While the US government has refused to acknowledge the visit and the last official statement (from State Dept spokesperson Marie Harf) this past week is that there is no visit, the Iraqi press tells a different story.  Nouri's office announced the visit October 6th the one the State Dept was denying on Wednesday.  Saturday,  All Iraq News reported on Nouri's planned visit to DC noting that security issues will be the focus of the meet-up.  National Iraqi News Agency reports today the visit is scheduled for October 25th.   And, by the way, this visit Marie Harf lied about?  NINA notes it comes "in response to an official invitation of U.S. President Barack Obama."

The 'reports' today ignore Marie Harf's attempt to pretend no visit was taking place.

The 'reports' do more than that, however.

It illustrates just how much is wrong with the press.

The US government denied the meeting (spokesperson Harf).

And that was it for the media.

"News" is only what the US government says it is.

It did not matter, to the press, that Nouri al-Maliki's office had announced the meeting that, even after the no-meeting-we-know-of denial, Nouri's office continued discussing the visit.

The Iraqi press -- only the Iraqi press -- continued to report on the visit.

One denial from a flunkie like Marie Harf and the world's press goes into silent mode.

How shameful and how disgusting but, most of all, how telling.

Marie Harf's press briefings are quickly becoming one of the biggest jokes of the administration.  Earlier this week, Kelley B. Vlahos noted some of Harf's issues from that press briefing in a column entitled "Washington's Silence On Iraq" (  A number of people felt the need to weigh in on that -- to complain that a column they liked -- or in three cases -- that they wrote didn't get highlighted but Libertarian Vlahos did.

Kelley wrote an epic column filled with important points.

One of these columns that we ignored was a piece Charles Davis wrote for Al Jazeera.  He is calling out Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for not doing everything to end the Iraq War while wining about how some Republicans with convictions (whether you agree with them or not, they have convictions and -- unlike Reid -- they have spines).

As I've ignored it, the e-mails on it have grown more frantic.  I should, I'm told, not only highlight it but love it because I wrote the same way on US House Rep Tim Ryan.

I would disagree about "same."  I wrote in a much stronger tone and did that in the October 4th snapshot.  So for Davis to show up two days later?  I don't consider it an homage.  I really wouldn't call it theft because it's just an approach.  But again, I called out strongly while Davis kind of whimpers and that bothered me more than the derivative nature of his column.

But that's not what didn't get him linked.  To stop the endless e-mails -- and to introduce reality again -- I'm explain why I did not highlight his column.  Davis wrote:

The last US soldier did not leave Iraq until the end of 2011. And even that belated withdrawal, which left behind an army of private military contractors, was required as a result of an agreement signed by President George W. Bush - and, sort of importantly, demanded by Iraqis. Numerous Democratic fundraising letters were no doubt written around opposition to the war, but only an Iraqi refusal to grant US troops legal immunity for their acts on Iraqi soil compelled the US government to finally leave.

Davis is a stupid idiot. If he doesn't like that?  Maybe he'd prefer to be called a stupid liar?

Those are the choices.

All US troops left at the end of 2011, did they?  Then why, at the end of September 2012, did  Tim Arango (New York Times) report this in the middle of an article on Syria:

Iraq and the United States are negotiating an agreement that could result in the return of small units of American soldiers to Iraq on training missions. At the request of the Iraqi government, according to General Caslen, a unit of Army Special Operations soldiers was recently deployed to Iraq to advise on counterterrorism and help with intelligence.        

Robert Caslen is now stateside, the superintendent at West Point, if some one in the lazy US press would like to ask him about his revelation that the Iraqi government, in fall 2012, asked for US troops and Barack Obama sent in "a unit of Army Special Operations soldiers"?

Here's his home page at West Point, there are contact forms at the bottom.  We covered Tim Arango's report.  Just here, we've covered it over sixty times since it was published.  That agreement Arango noted?  It was signed in December.  We covered it.

No one else bothered to.  We did.

Let's go to the April 30th Iraq snapshot:

December 6, 2012, the Memorandum of Understanding For Defense Cooperation Between the Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Iraq and the Department Defense of the United States of America was signed.  We covered it in the December 10th and December 11th snapshots -- lots of luck finding coverage elsewhere including in media outlets -- apparently there was some unstated agreement that everyone would look the other way.  It was similar to the silence that greeted Tim Arango's September 25th New York Times report which noted, "Iraq and the United States are negotiating an agreement that could result in the return of small units of American soldiers to Iraq on training missions.  At the request of the Iraqi government, according to [US] General [Robert L.] Caslen, a unit of Army Special Operations soldiers was recently deployed to Iraq to advise on counterterrorism and help with intelligence."

December 6th, Alsumaria was covering it.  December 6th, though the US press ignored the MoU, the Pentagon even issued a press release on it.  Use that day's link.  What did the agreement say?  No one knew because -- despite providing a link online (the link didn't work) -- the Pentagon hadn't published it.  They did on December 10th and a DoD friend called to tell me it was up online.  At which point we returned to the topic to anlyze it.

Because no one else was covering it -- and because it allowed for joint patrols (US and Iraqi) in Iraq,  angry e-mailers flooded the public account --  apparently, they could figure out how to click on "send" but not how to click on a link.  So we returned to the topic the next day.

That was December 2012.  Starting in 2013, Kenneth Katzman's regular report,  entitled "Iraq: Politics, Governance, and Human Rights," for the US Congressional Research Service, began noting the same things.  That's Congress' think tank so if you missed Tim Arango's report -- and a lot of people did apparently -- every few weeks Katzman would publish a new report on Iraq noting the Special Ops sent back in, the MoU and more.

At this late date, I don't even care that they're unaware of the over 10,000 (still over 10,000) US troops stationed in countries surrounding Iraq (such as Kuwait which has the bulk), or that they're unaware of the so-called 'trainers,' or that they missed Ted Koppel's important report in December 2011.

At this late date, I'll let all that slide.  But when you're pimping the lie that US troops are not in Iraq -- pimping because you're stupid, you're a whore, you're a liar or what (I don't know and I don't care), I'm not in the mood to link to you, let alone praise you.

Quinton D. Thompson writes a letter to the editors of the Baltimore Sun.  It seems like a heartfelt letter but it includes this:

First, the authors stated that the combat troops associated with the war effort had left Iraq, when in fact they didn't just leave. Instead, they were withdrawn and sent home at the end of 2011 by President Barack Obama in an obvious political ploy to enhance his chances of being reelected in 2012.
Quinton D. Thompson isn't a journalist.  He doesn't write columns.  He depends on the US media to inform him.
And they failed.
They failed day after damn day.

Charles Davis is only one in  a string of disappointments who have lied to the American people by insisting all US troops are out of Iraq.

What are we supposed to do?

Seriously.  When a lie is repeated over and over, day after day, are we just supposed to be silent?

Are we supposed to be 'nice' and 'ladylike' and look the other way?

Maybe some will but I won't.

I am damn tired of the fact that when a Tim Arango squeezes some truth into the news reporting, it is ignored, it is as if it never happened.

You can be damn sure that if Bully Boy Bush were in the White House now and had sent a unit back into Iraq in 2012, it would be huge news across the spectrum.

But instead we're a county of Medea Benjamins who self-present as activists but are truly little more than wet nurses to Barack Obama.  CODESTINK should have been calling for protests the day Arango's 2012 report hit the net.  They didn't.  They've never even acknowledged it.

People like Medea and certain others aren't about peace or ending war.  They're about covering for Democrats and complaining about Republicans.  They exist not to make a better world, they exist to try to scare up votes for the Democratic Party.

It's too bad because if it weren't for the shutdown, the US military would likely be launched against Syria and more US military would be back in Iraq.  Not "likely" on Iraq.  It would be -- according to two DoD friends.  Remember, it was back in June that Gen Martin Dempsey, Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, stated,  "We've made a recommendation that as we look at the challenges faced by the Lebanese armed forces, the Iraqi security forces with a re-emerging Al Qaida in Iraq, and the Jordanians, that we would work with them to help them build additional capability."

Maybe you don't remember?  Maybe you missed that too?  Like you're missing the reason for Nouri's visit?

We'll tell the truth here.  I can't control the lies that are spread elsewhere.  But we can, and we will, call them out here.

Today the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe issued the following statement:

“We must make sure that water remains a catalyst for cooperation not conflict among communities and countries” stated United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon at the opening of the Budapest Water Summit on 8 October 2013, while underlining the role in this regard of the UNECE Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes (Water Convention): “This (Convention) will soon be available to all United Nations Member States. I urge countries outside the UNECE region to join the Convention and further develop it.” An amendment opening up this previously regional agreement entered into force in February 2013 and countries are expected to be able to join from early 2014.
The Secretary-General’s words were echoed by Sven Alkalaj, UNECE Executive Secretary, who also underlined the complementarity of the Water Convention with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Non-navigational Uses of International Watercourses – also known as the United Nations Watercourses Convention. “Cooperation on water resources shared by two or more countries is vital for peace, stability and economic growth and a precondition for sustainable development”, he said.
The United Nations Watercourses Convention is expected to enter into force by the end of 2013, thus creating, with the UNECE Water Convention, a comprehensive international legal framework for transboundary water cooperation and the avoidance of conflict. The new treaty regime will strengthen transboundary water cooperation if, as earlier called for by the Secretary-General, the two legal frameworks are implemented in a synergistic way.
It was against this background that a panel discussion was held later in the Budapest Water Summit, on 9 October, to examine how global frameworks strengthen transboundary water cooperation in practice. During the discussion, the Minister of Agriculture of Tunisia, Mohamed Ben Salem, reconfirmed Tunisia’s interest in joining the UNECE Water Convention — in a spirit of cooperation and good neighbourliness — and also explained how Tunisia was already cooperating with neighbouring countries over shared water resources, such as with Algeria.
Other non-UNECE countries manifested similar intentions. The Ambassador of Iraq to Hungary, on behalf of the Minister of Water Resources of Iraq, Mohanad Salman Al-Sady expressed his country’s willingness to join the UNECE Water Convention, explaining that Iraq believed that the two Conventions — the United Nations Watercourses Convention and the UNECE Water Convention — are “complementary for an effective role in the region in supporting and strengthening the cooperation on sustainable water management”. He further explained that the legal aspects of the United Nations Convention could be perfectly supported by the institutional model that had been developed by the UNECE Convention over the past 20 years.
Katariina Poskiparta, State Secretary in the Finnish Ministry of the Environment, presented her country’s rich experience in transboundary water cooperation and its support of the two global agreements. André Laperrière, Deputy CEO of the Global Environment Facility, provided practical examples of investments under the Facility’s international waters programme.

Moving from water to electricity,  AFP reports that Iraqis are still having to rely on private generators for electricity.  Yesterday, they offered a photo essay of "electricity-starved Iraq."  All that oil and all that oil money and Nouri's still not managed to provide basic, reliable electricity for the people of Iraq (though there are no electricity shortages in the fortified Green Zone).   This as 6.4 million Iraqis live below the poverty line (that's the official number, the real number is probably higher).  That's a fifth of the country's population.  Nouri's failed them as well.  Today, that only became more clear.  All Iraq News reports Nouri used his weekly televised address to call for Iraqis to reduce their use of electricity and insisting Iraqis only use electricity (his words) "for cooking or heating."  Iraq is one of the three oil richest countries in the world, billions and billions of dollars flow into Iraq's coffers each year as a result of petrol sales; however, the government not only has failed to provide regular and consistent electricity, Nouri's now urging Iraqis to cut back on their use of the limited electricity available.

Since 2006, he has been prime minister.  And yet Iraq's public services have not improved.  The rainy seasons mean flooding throughout the country -- knee high in parts of Baghdad -- because Nouri wouldn't fix the sanitation services -- even public gutters were too much for Nouri.  Outside Baghdad.  Thank goodness for the International Red Crescent.  Were it not in Iraq, who would aid all the people forced to flee their homes due to heavy rains?  Or the ones whose homes collapsed in the heavy rains?

And there's the other water issue -- potable water.  That means safe drinking water.  Nouri can't provide that either so Iraqis have to use tablets and have to boil water to make it safe to drink.

Seven years ago, Nouri became prime minister and he's done nothing to help the Iraqi people.

Yesterday, UNAMI issued the following:

The Secretary-General condemns in the strongest terms the string of bombings that have killed and wounded scores of people, including school children, across Iraq over the past days. He extends his deepest condolences to the families of the victims and the Government of Iraq and wishes the wounded a speedy recovery.
These attacks, the latest in an upsurge of bombings, are particularly despicable as they hit Iraqis at a time when they extend their hands to the needy and the suffering on the occasion of Eid Al-Adha. On this holiday, the Secretary-General reiterates his call on Iraqi leaders to work for political unity and bring the country back from the brink of sectarian violence.
The United Nations, including the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), will continue to support the Government and people of Iraq in building a peaceful, democratic and prosperous country.

Iraq Body Count counts 22 violent deaths yesterday which would include the 15 deaths (including three children) AFP reported from the bomb targeting a Sunni mosque in Kirkuk.  Today's violence?  National Iraqi News Agency reports a Tikrit roadside bombing claimed the life of 1 police officer and left another injured, 1 police officer was shot dead in Falluja as he left his home, a Ramadi bombing has left four members of the police injured, an Abu-Saida roadside bombing killed 2 people with three more injured (the dead and injured were from the same family), an armed attack in Falluja left 1 police officer dead and another injured, a Falluja roadside bombing left two Iraqi soldiers injured, a Barwanah police station was attacked with mortars, a Ramadi police station came under mortar attack,  and a Hadeethah roadside bombing left the Police Chief of Hadeethah "and one of his bodyguards injured.  All Iraq News adds an Iskandariya bombing injured one person, and armed clashes left 4 militants dead in Tikrit.  Alsumaria reports that a bombing north east of Baquba has claimed the life of 1 farmer and left five more injured.  Through yesterday, Iraq Body Count counts 520 violent deaths so far this month.

In other news, NINA reports, "The Board of Commissioners of the Electoral Commission endorsed the timetable for the 2014 election of the House of Representatives."  This comes as Alsumaria reports the leader of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, Ammar al-Hakim, declared today that there must not be a postponing of the elections for any reason.  As everyone should be aware by now, with elections in Iraq nothing can be taken for granted.  All Iraq News quotes Hakim in their report:

Hakim said in a speech he cited at his office “Only few months separate us from the parliamentary elections which will give the authority for the coming government through the polling boxes,” stressing that “Iraq needs fair electoral system to meet expectations of all Iraqis rather than the desires of this party or that bloc.” 

Turning to The Drone War,  The Bureau of Investigative Journalism has started a project entitled Naming The Dead.  It's an important project.  The Drone War is killing people.  The Drone War is overseen by Barack Obama and he and the White House lie about who dies insisting they're all terrorists -- even the children apparently.  And as long as the dead are nothing but (under-reported) numbers, it's easy for those in the US to avoid reality and ignore the assassinations that are taking place.  As Cedric and Wally noted this morning (see "Sit down, tired Medea" and "THIS JUST IN! WEAK ASS MEDEA BENJAMIN!"), 16-year-old Malala Yousafazal can look Barack Obama in the face and tell him he needs to stop The Drone War on Pakistan but cowardly Medea can babble on in interviews about how awful The Drone War is while refusing to even mention Barack's name.  It's important to name the victims.  It's as important to name the criminals.

This month, Paul Gottinger (World Can't Wait) interviewed journalist Madiha Tahir about The Drone War:

PG: How do most Pakistanis see the U.S. drone attacks? Is there a difference between how the drone attacks are seen by the people directly impacted and the people in the larger urban areas like Karachi and Islamabad?

MT: I’ve spoken to family of victims and survivors of drone attacks in the tribal areas. There is not a single one that is for the drone attacks obviously. I think that is the predominant attitude in the tribal areas, particularly in North Waziristan, which is subject to drone attacks. But there is some discussion. People are feed up with the Pakistani military and they are feed up with the violence of the militants. So out of the frustration some of the people who are not directly impacted, but still live in these areas say, ‘if these are our choices… If there is no fourth choice, and we have to live with the violence of the Pakistani military, or the violence of the militants, or the violence of the drones, then maybe the drones are the best option. But these choices are made in a very specific context with limited options.

Cindy Sheehan's called out The Drone War -- and all the wars Bully Boy Bush and Barack have elected to start.  She frequenly refers to Barack as "Obomber."  (My personal favorite of late is Wally and Cedric's use of The Dahlibama.)  Cindy's protested these wars.  And, as she notes today, she's been arrested for these wars.  She's going on trial next week:

This past June 29th, (near the end of Tour de Peace) we were holding a demo against drone bombing in front of CIA HQ at Langley, VA and six of us were detained because we held a simulated drone attack and "die-in" past the yellow crime tape (appropriate that the CIA wrapped itself in crime tape, since many unspeakable things are planned from there). We SIX are going on trial in Alexandria, VA on October 22 (info below). We are defending ourselves "pro se."

The CIA 6 are: Joy First; Malachy Kilbride; Max Obuszewski; Janice Sevre-Duszynska, Phillip Runkel, and Me. Except for Malachy and Max, we all come from out of the area.

The policy of using UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) to bomb civilians still continues and has greatly expanded under the Obama administration, however principled protest has contracted.

If you are able, please donate to defray my expenses to journey back to the Belly for this trial. Anything collected above and over my expenses, I will share with my co-DEFENDants. 

We are doing the "time," can you spare a "dime?"


TUESDAY, October 22
8:30 AM

Albert V. Bryan U.S. Courthouse
401 Courthouse Square
Alexandria, VA 22314 

If you would like to donate to the legal expenses -- and can spare it -- you can do so online here or you can:


Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox, LLC
PO Box 6264
Vacaville, Ca 95696

Yesterday was Global Hand Washing Day.  I wasn't aware, maybe you were?  A friend with UNICEF asked if we could note the following:

NEW YORK, 15 October 2013 – As the world observes the 6th annual Global Handwashing Day, new figures from UNICEF say 1,400 children under five still die every day from diarrhoeal diseases caused by a lack of safe water, sanitation and basic hygiene.
“The simple act of handwashing with soap is one of the most effective ways to save children’s lives,” said Sanjay Wijesekera, global head of UNICEF’s Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) programmes. “Washing hands before eating and after defecation drastically reduces the spread of diarrhoeal disease and has far reaching effects on the health and welfare of children and communities.”
According to UNICEF, diarrhoea remains the second largest cause of under-five mortality globally. With 600,000 children dying in each year and over 1.7 billion cases, diarrhoeal diseases are also associated with a higher risk of stunting (low weight for age and developmental delay) and take a huge toll on society. However, one of the simplest and most inexpensive barriers to infection is handwashing with soap.
Global Handwashing Day events around the world are helping promote handwashing and raise awareness of the crucially important role it plays in child survival and overall community health.
In Ethiopia around 5 million children will participate in handwashing demonstrations and workshops around the country.
In Yemen, Global Handwashing Day celebrations will take place in 3,300 schools, involving 1.4 million children. There will also be a mass media campaign aimed at sensitizing the public around hand washing.  
One thousand school children in Viet Nam; 450 primary schools in Sierra Leone and 424 in Mali; 200 schools in 50 communities in the Gambia; 12 cities in Indonesia and 22 educational institutions in several municipalities in Bolivia – all will be holding Global Hand Washing Day activities.
This year’s theme, announced by the Global Public Private Partnership for Handwashing, which includes UNICEF, is "The power is in your hands" because, the Partnership says, everyone has the power to create healthier communities through handwashing with soap. 
“The evidence is clear.  Each individual—every mother, every child, every teacher, every member of every community—can contribute to the health of all by just washing their hands,” said Wijesekera. “If you knew of something monumental that could benefit the world, you would do it. Everyone has this power – simply wet, lather and rinse - with soap and water.”

I said we'd include it at the end of the snapshot and I would also repost this weekend.  If I'd been asked yesterday, we would have noted it then.  As the press release notes, "Everyone has this power."