Saturday, September 01, 2012

Idiot of the week . . .

Friday, and we're on holiday weekend!!!! :D

Okay, first up, Bill Van Auken (WSWS) reports:

On Thursday US Attorney General Eric Holder shut down a more than three-year investigation into CIA torture and murder of detainees, with no charges being brought against anyone.

This final ignominious chapter in the Obama administration’s protection of those responsible for the crimes carried out under the Bush administration concerned the CIA’s torturing to death of two detainees, one in Afghanistan in 2002 and another in Iraq in 2003.

In a statement announcing that no one would be prosecuted, Attorney General Holder claimed, “admissible evidence would not be sufficient to obtain and sustain a conviction,” adding that this conclusion had been reached following a review of “substantive criminal statutes as well as the statutes of limitations and jurisdictional provisions.”

He did not say what charges had been contemplated and provided no concrete explanation of why they could not be brought.

He included in his statement an obsequious tribute to those responsible for the torture and murders carried out under the Bush administration: “I also appreciate and respect the work of and sacrifices made by the men and women in our intelligence community on behalf of this country. They perform an incredibly important service to our nation, and they often do so under difficult and dangerous circumstances. They deserve our respect and gratitude for the work they do.”

Now for Idiot of the Week.

It's a toughie.

Reading today's snapshot, I decided it really was down to Jason Biggs or Ellen Barkin.

And I feel bad about that because I like the work of both.  I just didn't know they wanted to be so ugly as people.

Remember when stars would show up in magazines trying to be kind and loveable?

Apparently now you build a career on hate -- or think you can.

So Jason Biggs makes some of the worst comments about women as he attacks the wives of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan.

Meanwhile Ellen Barkin shows up to wonder if Clint Eastwood wants to murder the president before deciding on her Twitter feed that yes, yes, he does want to murder Barack.

That's quite a charge.  One would assume Ellen had something to back that up with.

She's got nothing.

And when a Modern Family guest shot last season looked to really help rebuild her career, she's certainly chosen a strange time, as her own sitcom is about to debut, to embrace hatred.

There was no reason for her to make such a charge.

So it comes down to hatred of women and to someone making a charge that she can't believe (unless she's crazy).

Jason Biggs' career is already over and there's probably no comeback.  Maybe he can work in gay porn? 

But Ellen Barkin stood a real chance at being popular for the first time in her long career.  Sea of Love didn't make her a star.  (Man Trouble and Switch were box office bombs.)  At last she stood a chance of connecting with America.  But instead of connecting, she wants to mkae outrageous claims of criminal desires on the part of one of her fellow actors.

So it's a tough one, but I'm going to declare Ellen Barkin Idiot of the Week.

That's too bad because I actually like her acting.  I thought she was great in Diner, The Big Easy, Bad Company,  This Boy's Life, Happy Tears and even the weird Siesta.  I was really excited about her sitcom which Ava and C.I. said was hysterical.  I believed it because she's a great actress (not a good one, a great one) and because she was very funny on Modern Family as the real estate agent poaching Phil's client.

But I'm going to call her the Idiot of the Week.

She's got a TV show about to air and this is how she decides to behave?  One station's already not going to air it

C.I. can tell you all about an actress who made similar moves and destroyed her own career.  She went on Letterman and insulted her own show which was getting great ratings.  The network never forgave the actress and blacklisted her.  As a result, she's never appeared on the major networks again really.  She would audition for lead roles, supporting roles and guest roles.  She'd get called back over and over but when the network brass got involved, she'd always be passed over.   12 years after she killed her own show, the same network allowed her to be a bit player guest on an episode of a popular show when the producer demanded she be cast.  Even that didn't result in a career re-birth.  Now her career's over and everyone but her seems to know it.

Ellen Barkin needs to be really damn careful.  There are dozens of new shows coming on.  The networks are spending a lot of money promoting them.  You f**k with them by making nasty and ugly remarks in public, you're going to be seen as the problem if the show fails and if Ellen Barkin's seen as the problem by NBC, she'll be seen that way by theo ther networks as well.

It was a stupid and idiotic thing to do.

She realizes that to some degree.  (Probably because friends like C.I. have said, "Ellen, you're hurting yourself and you're hurting Barack.  Chill.")  If you don't get that she realizes it, then you haven't checked her Twitter feed.  She's deleted her Tweets where she said Clint wanted to kill Barack.  She's just left up her Tweet asking if anyone saw a gesture during Clint's bit and did it mean . . .

To see the way the Tweets were, you can catch Twitchy.

I wanted to catch her sitcom (debuts Sept. 11th).  Now I don't know. 

I'm all for same-sex marriage, same-sex parenting, equality across the board.  In the show, a gay couple wants a baby.  They find a surrogate to carry an egg.  That surrogate is Ellen's granddaughter.  The show is about how people you think you can't understandd aren't all that different -- rather it's Ellen's dislike for gay couples (in the show, in real life she's for equality) or what have you.  But that message is kind of undermined by Ellen screaming hatred on her Twitter feed.

I don't know if I'll be able to draw a line between the two and don't know if I'll watch now.  And I really wanted to watch that show before today.

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

Friday, August 31, 2012.  Chaos and violence continue, war resister Kimberly Rivera appeals publicly to remain in Canada, Barack lies that the war is over, the US press whores whatever's left of their name to lie for him, the Telegraph of London (however) reports that British and US forces have killed over 3,000 Iraqis in the last two years alone (no, the war hasn't ended), Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani calls for the security forces to stop the increase in assassinations across Iraq, the UN and Human Rights Watch call out the executions the Iraqi government is carrying out, Jill Stein focuses on real issues in her campaign for the presidency, and more.
"My biggest fear is being separated from my children and having to -- having to sit in a prison for politically being against the war in Iraq," declared Kimberly Rivera in Canada this afternoon.  Yesterday, Kim Rivera was informed that the Canadian government planned to deport her by September 20th.  Today, Kim took part in a press conference with War Resisters Support Campaign's Michelle Robidoux.  Here's a transcript of the video the Toronoto Star has posted.
Michelle Robidoux: We are calling on the government not to deport this family.  We think it's unfortunate that this government and, in particular, the Minister of Immigration [Jason Kenney] has seen fit to intervene in a process that should that should be fair and impartial by putting forward Operation Bulletin 202 which directs immigration officers to red flag the cases of US soldiers like Kim Rivera who are applying for status in this country and to label them criminally inadmissable.
Kim Rivera: If you want to know my biggest fear is being separated from my children and having to -- having to sit in a prison for politically being against the war in Iraq which I had experience in.  Without that experience, I know that I would not have come to the decision I had made to leave and also be here in Canada for people to know that experience which I had spoken many of.  So the only thing that I guess I can really ask is that all of my legal applications that I applied be considered and my agency application also get a decision.   That's pretty much all I have.
Michelle Robidoux: It's a matter of public record that Canada did not participate in the Iraq War, that two motions were passed in Parliament calling on the government to allow war resisters to stay in Canada and that also there have been a number of federal court and federal court of appeal decisions which are upholding the arguments that war resisters have made that they face differential punishment if they're returned to the United States, that they are punished more harshly for having spoken up against the war.
Kim took a great personal risk and did so for what she believed in.  Once in Canada, she spoke out when the issue needed her.  She didn't try to turn herself into a celebrity.  If you ever read her blog on Liveblog (I can't find it there anymore), you know she was focused on her family and on her kids and she was trying to teach them ethics and how to lead a solid life.
Kim's someone I would be friends with.  She's someone I would make a point to go up and hug when I saw her in church on Sundays.    She's a regular person like you or me and that came out in her blog where, like me, she'd write about food or about her kids.
And now this woman who was so glad and so grateful to be in Canada and so wanting to become a Canadian citizen may be forced out of the country.
Kim is not a person who tried to grab the spotlight.  She's just a mother who couldn't live with returning to what she saw in Iraq, couldn't live with herself if she returned.  And she also had to make sure that whatever did happen, it kept her family together.  Canada was the best possible answer and I just can't believe that Canada's going to force her to leave.
Casey Irvin (Torontoist) explains, "While on leave in 2007, Rivera came to Canada to avoid a second tour of duty in Iraq, a war with which she had become disillusioned. Rivera lives here with her husband and their four children (the two youngest were born in Canada). The family and their lawyers are looking into their options, but Rivera probably faces jail time if she goes back. "  Jeanette Torres (ABC News Radio) notes that "Robin Long and Clifford Cornell, two American war resisters deported to the U.S., wound up facing year-long jail sentences because they refused deployment to Iraq."  Patty Winsa (Toronoto Star) reports:
On Friday, the quiet Texan spoke out for the first time after learning this week from the Canada Border Services Agency that she had been given a negative pre-removal risk assessment and must leave the country by Sept. 20.
"I'm just a bit overwhelmed. I don't want to face reality. I respect Canada's law. I'm going to take it one step at a time so I don't have a meltdown," said Rivera, who was surrounded by supporters and peace activists. "But it's is very difficult."
Rivera said quietly that she hoped her application for permanent residency status on humanitarian and compassionate grounds, which she made in 2009, would still be considered.
Charmaine Noronha (AP) adds that Kim "stepped away during a press conference Friday when she became visibly upset" and quotes Kim's attorney Alyssa Manning stating, "The 6 percent of (war) deserters who are punished through incarceration include service personnel who have been publicly outspoken about their criticisms of the Iraq war while AWOL.  The government has failed to assess that risk that Kim faces and that needs to be considered."  Alexandra Posadzki (Canadian Press) continues, "Manning said federal officials failed to consider the fact that Rivera has been outspoken about her opposition to the Iraq war when they evaluated her assessment."
Kim and the man now trying to force her out of Canada, Minister Kenney, have met.  Here's a trasncript of the video.
Minister Kenney at the University of Toronto
March 18, 2009
Michelle Robidoux:  Hello my name is Michelle Robidoux.  This is Kim Rivera.
Kim Rivera: (Shaking his hand)  Hi.
Jason Kenney:  Hello.

Michelle Robidoux:  We're just absolutely desperate and we're just sort of pleading with you.  If there's anything you can do to stop the petition.  The family has been here for almost two years. 
Jason Kenney:  Okay.
Michelle Robidoux:  She's an Iraq War resister who has refused to fight in Iraq, who has refused to continue to fight in Iraq.  And we know that you have the ability to do something to hopefully help this family in distress. They are in considerable distress.  We know there's an arrest warrant for her for deporation.  She will be arrested when she crosses the border when she's forced out next week.  So we're just asking for your intervention.  Some compassion for this family --
Pleae call Peter Van Loan, Minister of Public Safety: 1-877-738-3748 or 613-996-7752.
Jason Kenney:  Okay.  Well, actually, it's-it's the Minister of Public Safety that deals with removals, not me.  If you want to send me the particulars on the case . . .
Michelle Robidoux:  Absolutely.  But the -- the humanitarian situation she's in, she did apply for humanitarian compassionate consideration and we're just desperate trying to --
Jason Kenney: Okay.  I'm sorry ma'am because I'm not aware of your particular case because we receive thousands of applications for agency and they're generally dealt with by department officials but --
Michelle Robidoux:  She faces deporation next Wednesday.
Jason Kenney:  But if you send me the particulars, I will have my office look into it. I'm afraid I'm late for my next thing.  Thank you.
Canada's Parliament has adopted two motions calling on the federal government to allow war resisters to stay in Canada. But Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Jason Kenney has publicly labelled Iraq War resisters as "bogus refugee claimants". In July 2010, he issued a bulletin to all Immigration Officers requiring them to red-flag applications that involve US war resisters, labeling them as 'criminally inadmissible'.
Amnesty International Canada and former Immigration and Refugee Board Chair Peter Showler have called for Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) Operational Bulletin 202 to be rescinded because it "fails to recognize that military desertion for reasons of conscience is in fact clearly recognized as a legitimate ground for refugee protection" and it "misstates the law and seeks to intrude on the independence of both IRB members and Immigration Officers."
He told them it wasn't his department in March of 2009.  Then he issued orders in 2010 and now he's trying to force Kim out of Canada.  Is it his department or not?  Is any grown up in the Canadian government or is Kenney just allowed to make up whatever rules he wants?
An upcoming event, next week, in Toronto is planned:
Please attend an emergency community meeting to support U.S. war resister Kimberly Rivera and her family!

WHEN: Wednesday, September 5, 7:00 PM

WHERE: Parkdale United Church, 171 Dunn Avenue, Toronto


When Kimberly Rivera saw with her own eyes the devastation of war, and the trauma it inflicts on children and families, she followed her conscience and refused to go back. Instead, she and her husband and their (then) two children came to Canada.

Since that day in 2007, the Riveras have been fighting to live their lives in peace. But despite the widespread support of the Canadian people for U.S. war resisters, and despite two votes in Parliament calling on the government to let war resisters stay, the Harper Government continues to target war resisters for deportation.

Kim and her family - which now includes two children born in Canada - now face deportation on September 20. In the U.S., Kim faces court martial, jail time, and a felony conviction that will follow her for life. All for the "crime" of refusing to participate in the invasion, destruction, and occupation of Iraq.

Kim stood up for peace at great risk to herself. Now we must stand up for Kim, and for other war resisters who face the same struggle. Please join the War Resisters Support Campaign for an emergency community meeting to support the Riveras, and to call on Immigration Minister Jason Kenney to stop the deportation.

Please share this information with your friends and neighbours. We hope to see you there!
In peace and solidarity, the War Resisters Support Campaign
While Kim fights for her family, US President Barack Obama fights for re-election.  If only Kim Rivera had a pack of Devin Dwyer's to lie and whore for her.  ABC News' Devy, still so excited about sprouting pubes, can't be bothered with things like reporting.  When not rubbing his fingers in the tangle of his new downy growth and then sniffing his fingers, Devy assumes reporting is transcribing what Barack said and transcribing what Barack's "top aides" told him.  There's no attempt at facts, there's not an even attempt to get a response from any of the other presidential campaigns.   No, Devy, a response the Romney campaign gave on Wednesday is not what members of the press do when printing new attacks made on Friday.  Less fingers on yourself, more attention on your job.
Devy quotes Barack stating, "I told the American people that all our troops would be out of Iraq by the end of" and Devy adds" [2011]."  Don't general studies majors learn math?
You'd think since Devy's always got his fingers next to his nose, he could also use them to count.  Barack promised -- in those tent revivals that gave the Cult of St. Barack such tingles -- that all troops would be out of Iraq sixteen months after he was sworn in.  He was sworn in January 2009.  How many months does Devy think is in a year?  It's 12, Devy, twelve.  So what he promised was 2010.  By the first fourth of 2010.  Not the end of 2011. 
What you did was not reporting, Little Devy, and sorry to drop this in the midst of your horny frenzy, but ALL the US service members have not returned home nor are they all out of Iraq.  Earlier this month, when US General Martin Dempsey, Chair of the Joint-Chiefs of Staff, visited IraqRTT reported, "More than 225 U.S. troops, seven Defense Department civilians, 530 security assistance team members and more than 4,000 contracted personnel are currently in the office at the Iraqi government's invitation."
225 still in Iraq.  Over 15,000 moved into nearby Kuwait -- and the Senate Foreign Relations Democratic half issued a report stating those troops needed to stay for several more years to ensure that Iraq is 'stable' --  in fairness, the report  [PDF format warning] "The Gulf Security Architecture: Partnership With The Gulf Co-Operation Council" did advocate dropping the number down to 13,000.   (Refer to the June 19th snapshot.)
is it really that hard for Devin Dwyer to stop self-pleasuring and start reporting? Devy quotes White House spokesperson Jay Carney declaring his "surprise" that GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney did not includ "the 70,000 men and women who are serving in Afghanistan" in his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention yesterday. 
I'm more shocked that a sitting president stood in front of service members today and lied that all US troops were out of Iraq.  I'm also appalled that this fact is vanished from the press. 
Kathleen Hennessey (Los Angeles Times) at least offers some perspective, "Two years ago, as he declared the end to a long and divisive war, President Obama promised troops he would not be taking a 'victory lap.' On Friday, the president allowed himself something of a brief victory dance."  But perspective would also include that after Barack gave his August 31, 2010 speech, when the Iraq War 'combat operations' 'ended' and it was rechristened Operation New Dawn ("now he's soaking in it," as Isaiah noted),  66 American service members died in Iraq, 38 of whom even the Pentagon classifies as dead from hostilities.
Those deaths are perspective as well and how very sad and telling about the whore class trying to pass itself off as a press corps that they don't have the decency or common sense to even acknowledge those deaths.
The Iraq War has not ended.  But when you keep head in the sand (and Devin keeps his hand in his pants), you may miss that.  Remember this from Monday's snapshot: "Dar Addustour reports 5 British citizens were arrested in Baghdad yesterday -- they did not have passports or i.d. on them."
Golly gee, why would any British people be in Iraq?  The war 'ended,' right?
More than 3,500 insurgents have been "taken off the streets of Baghdad" by the elite British force in a series of audacious "Black Ops" over the past two years.
It is understood that while the majority of the terrorists were captured, several hundred, who were mainly members of the organisation known as "al-Qa'eda in Iraq" have been killed by the SAS.
The SAS is part of a highly secretive unit called "Task Force Black" which also includes Delta Force, the US equivalent of the SAS.
Wow.  The war's 'over' but Iraqis are being killed by Brits and by the US Delta Force.  Killed and captured.
In 'sovereign' Iraq this takes place.  The war's not over and only a dishonest whore would ever claim otherwise.  Barack has ended nothing. 
David Swanson went into the belly of the beast, a Barack rally, to call out the continued War Crimes and assaults on liberty.  David Swanson (War Is A Crime) reports:
Three of us went into the event. I had tickets, which were free and which the campaign could barely give away, while back in 2007 Obama had sold out the same venue. We didn't go in so as to spend hours in the hot sun just to hear an Obama speech like the one he'd given the day before in another town which we could have watched on Youtube. Thousands of people did that. We went in to disturb the war.
We wanted to shout. But what could we shout? We were only three. We were not near the front. (I recommend taking 10 to the front of one of these events if you can. You'll own the place.) We would have to be loud and clear. We couldn't mention the kill list which would be like mentioning UFOs to these people. We couldn't mention Social Security because they pretend Obama's not threatening it. We couldn't mention peace because people would think it was a pro-Obama chant. We decided to say this: Get out of Afghanistan! End the sanctions on Iran!
Here's how the Washington Post's blog reported on that:
"Protesters drown out Obama
"Posted by Amy Gardner on August 29, 2012 at 3:58 pm
"CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — An outdoor political rally erupted into a moment of chaos as protesters drowned out President Obama's speech at a downtown amphitheater here — and then the rest of the crowd drowned out the protesters. It was unclear what the protesters were saying, but several members of the crowd said a few minutes later that they heard 'Get out of Afghanistan!' The shouts prompted a flurry of Secret Service activity, and they also prompted an enthusiastic crowd of more than 7,000 to shut down the protesters with two cacophonous chants: 'Four more years!' and 'O-ba-ma!' Obama couldn't continue for a long moment, but when the noise finally died down, he said: 'I couldn't hear what those young people had to say, but that's good that they got involved.' To the rest of the crowd, he said: 'Don't just chant! Vote!'"
Obama was pretending the crowd was all young people. He'd tried to speak at the University of Virginia which had turned him down, but he gave his speech as if he were there. The crowd didn't shout us down till we'd run out of breath. They were not nearly as fast as Republicans are with their "U-S-A! U-S-A!" In fact, they seemed tremendously proud of themselves when they managed to discover that they could yell "O-BA-MA! O-BA-MA!" Voting, in the pretense of those in power, constitutes more activism than chanting or any other activity. Don't just hold teach-ins, vote! Don't just occupy the square, vote! Don't just risk your life to expose injustice, vote! If Bradley Manning had just voted, that would have been the last full measure of devotion.
As to the flurry of Secret Service activity, an Obama campaign guy started standing next to us, and a mean possibly drunk guy started shoving and threatening us. After various additional disruptions of the war (not the peace) by us, the Obama guy called the local police over who asked us to leave, and asked for our names, etc., to tell them to the Secret Service. The police had earlier refused numerous requests by the Obama staff and volunteers to evict our poster demonstration. The police had mentioned freedom of speech. The local media, as well as the police, were surprisingly decent. The Obama campaigners, on the other hand, would have exiled us all to Gitmo if they'd been able, and if they weren't suffering under the misconception that it's been closed.
WMC Live with Robin Morgan is the new radio talk show that airs live on DC's WPWS (1480 AM) on Sundays from three to four p.m. -- and streams live online -- audio and video.
Sunday is the second show and her guests will include US House Rep "Eleanor Holmes Norton on the election, Jodie Evans (CODEPINK) from the conventions; El Diario's Erica Gonzalez on Latina politics; author Ariel Levy on books and vaginas."  If you missed the first episode of the radio show from the Women's Media Center, you can stream it at the link and, because WMC understands the need for being inclusive, the transcript is here.  Realizing that a stream doesn't reach every computer user -- due to platform or connection issues or due to hearing issues -- WMC plans to transcribe each broadcast -- which will also allow for a very strong archive.
Who listened live on Sunday?  As Robin noted at the top of her broadcast, "And a special welcome to the international family online from (that I know of) Brazil, Egypt, Germany, India, Italy, Kenya, the Philippines, South Africa, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the pioneering feminists in Kurdistan." 
In the KRG, women have achieved a lot in the last few years by fighting for what is needed.  As Human Rights Watch noted earlier this week, there are still things to be done:
The practice of female genital mutilation continues in the Kurdistan region of Iraq a year after a landmark law banning it went into effect because the Kurdistan Regional Government has not taken steps to implement the law. The Family Violence Law, which went into effect on August 11, 2011, includes several provisions to eradicate female genital mutilation (FGM), recognized internationally as a form of violence against women.
The regional government has begun to run awareness campaigns, train judges, and issue orders to police on the articles of the law dealing with domestic violence. But it apparently has not taken similar steps to implement the FGM ban, Human Rights Watch found. Between late May and mid-August, 2012, Human Rights Watch spoke with over 60 villagers, policemen, government officials, lawyers, and human rights workers in the districts of Chamachamal, Choman, Erbil, Penjwin, Pishdar, Rania, Soran, Shaqlawa, and Sulaimaniya about the problem.
"The KRG parliament took a huge step forward when it passed the Family Violence Law," said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. "Authorities now need to begin the difficult process of putting a comprehensive plan in place to implement the law, including informing the public, police, and health professionals about the ban on FGM."
In June 2010, Human Rights Watch issued an 81-page report, "They Took Me and Told Me Nothing: Female Genital Mutilation in Iraqi Kurdistan," which urged the Kurdistan Regional Government, parliament, civil society, and donors to take steps to end the practice. The report described the experiences of young girls and women who undergo FGM and the terrible toll it takes on their physical and mental health. The KRG parliament passed the Family Violence Law in June 2011.
In the recent interviews, Human Rights Watch spoke with more than 20 villagers who had daughters in the age range when FGM is traditionally performed – between ages 4 and 12. Some said they were no longer intending to have the procedure performed on their daughters, as a result of awareness campaigns conducted by representatives of nongovernmental organizations who had visited their villages, but a few said they planned to have the procedure done. None had seen any action or awareness efforts by the government.
"Okay, so there's a law now, so people don't talk about it as much now, but if people in my village or another village want to have it done to their girls, they can easily still do it secretly," said a woman from Rania.
This week, Iraq has executed at least 26 people.  Today Human Rights Watch noted:
Human Rights Watch has previously documented the prevalence of unfair trials and torture in detention, particularly in national security and terrorism-related cases.
"There is no doubt that Iraq still has a serious terrorism problem, but it also has a huge problem with torture and unfair trials," said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. "The lack of transparency around these convictions and executions, in a country where confessions that may have been coerced are often the only evidence against a person, makes it crucial for Iraq to declare an immediate moratorium on all executions."
Human Rights Watch opposes the death penalty in all circumstances because it is unique in its cruelty and finality, and is plagued with arbitrariness, prejudice, and error.
Iraqi authorities rarely announce executions beforehandand have not made public the total number of executions in a given year, Human Rights Watch said.
An August 30 statement released by Iraq's parliament said that members of the Human Rights Committee had met on the previous day to discuss "a mechanism for slowing down executions." Members told Iraqi media that they had contacted Justice Minister Hassan al-Shimmari to inquire about concerns expressed this week by politicians and nongovernmental organizations that executions of about 200 prisoners now on death-row were being accelerated in anticipation of the passage of an amnesty law currently before parliament. Al-Shimmari denied these claims.
On August 29, Human Rights Watch spoke with two Justice Ministry officials as well as a guard in a prison run by the ministry and an inmate currently in another facility. All said that hundreds of inmates had begun hunger strikes on August 28 in Baghdad's Taji and Rusafa prisons to protest the recent executions and concern about the alleged plan to accelerate other executions. According to the inmate, guards had told prisoners about such a plan in the days preceding the latest executions. Human Rights Watch could not confirm the existence of such a plan.
Carol J. Williams (Los Angeles Times) notes, "Iraq has long featured in the dubious ranks of the Top Five countries carrying out the most executions each year. In 2011, China led Amnesty's list with executions estimated at more than 1,000, but it also eliminated the death penalty for 13 crimes that previously could draw the ultimate punishment. Iran acknowledged executing at least 360 people, followed by Saudi Arabia with 82 reported executions, Iraq with 68 and the United States 43."  The UN News Centre adds:
The United Nations agency tasked with defending human rights voiced renewed concern today over the sudden spate of executions in countries around the world following the recent use of capital punishment in Gambia, Iraq, and South Sudan.
"We urge all States, who have not yet done so, to introduce – or reintroduce – an official moratorium on the use of the death penalty aiming to abolish it," Rupert Colville, spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), declared in a briefing to the press in Geneva.
Violence continued today in Iraq.  Alsumaria reports that there was an armed Baghdad attack in which 1 person was shot dead and one person was kidnapped in Kirkuk (the police managed to rescue the victim after seven hours)All Iraq News notes an assassination attempt on a cleric in Baghdad -- the cleric survived, the driver was shot dead and one person was shot dead outside a Baghdad mosqueKitabat notes that Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani called in his sermon today for the security forces to stop the escalating assassinations taking place in Iraq.
In terms of the US presidential election, we're interested in the two presidential campaigns made up of four women.  The four: Jill Stein has the Green Party's presidential nomination and her running mate is Cheri Honkala and Roseanne Barr has the nomination of the Peace and Freedom Party and her running mate is Cindy Sheehan. Click here to sign a petition calling on Ms. magazine and Women's Media Center to cover her campaign and the other female candidate for president Roseanne Barr's campaignOver 250 people have signed onto the petition so far.  Some sign and leave comments and we noted some of the comments in Sunday's "Women Win When Women Run: The conversation Roseanne and Jill are inspiring" at Third -- and "women win when women run" is a theme that repeats in the comments with several people signing noting that theme or expanding on it.
While Jill Stein continues to focus on issues, Roseanne's campaign can't find any.  Part of coverage is analysis and the analysis I'm offering for Roseanne's campaign right now is not positive.
Roseanne's on a one-woman public hatred tour.  I'm deeply disappointed in a number of people including one friend who was going to get a rave review for her new show from Ava and I but  now we're on the fence about whether or not we're even going to cover it.  You do not accuse people of wanting to kill other people, Ellen Barkin.  That is disgusting and it is appalling.  And you're ensuring that your career in TV will be as dead as your film carreer was when the 90s started.  Somewhere, somehow, you and a bunch of other actors forgot the first rule: To have a career, you need an audience.  It's fine and dandy to take a polticial stand for something.  It's antoher thing to pour on hate and distortions.  Clint Eastwood, who I know and do not care for, does not want to kill anyone, certainly not a politician.  Ellen Barkin crossed a line. 
(And Clint gave a great speech.  I would have preferred not to have seen it but I said "Hold on" and stopped dictating to go and stream it since I was stating that Clint would not threaten to kill anyone.  Clint gave a great speech.  He stumbled once that might not have been intentional.  But the speech was great.  He wasn't dottering and only the dumb and foolish would say that.  What Clint did was steal a page from Jane Fonda.  Something we all should do.  She is the most effective speaker and one of her standard tricks is to start off nervous, hesitant and, as she speaks, grow more sure in her delivery.  That allows the audience to witness a transformation and have it be due to beliefs.  In other words, the effective speech sells the beliefs as strength.  Clint didn't do as well as Jane -- again, she's the best speaker alive.  But he's obviously borrowed a page for her book and, yes, his speech was effective.  You can stream it at the Washington Post.)  (And on Jane, this week she's blogged about her latest film role.)
Roseanne is doing the same as well.  And NBC's not backing her new show.  They're making that decision right now.  NBC won't back it, none of the networks will.  Because she's going beyond political into hateful.  To have a career in the performing arts, you're going to need an audience.  When you go around trashing people, making up disgusting claims about your peer group (as Ellen did to Clint), you destroy everything.  I'm all for taking stands, I'm all for calling out and I can be bitchier than anyone but when you accuse someone of wanting to kill, you've crossed a line and what's really sad is you are so far gone into a world of hatred that you can't even see that.  And if you are trying to help Barack Obama, you're hatred Tweeted is of no help to him.  It saddles him down with an ugly hatred that his campaign is not engaging in.  You desire to pollute the world with hate is harming you, harming your career and harming Barack's chances at re-election.  You really need to rethink your actions.
And the hatred of women needs to stop right damn now.  This is inexcusable:
I'd totes dip a pinky or two in Paul Ryan's wife's bleached asshole (she obvs bleaches her asshole). #RNC
Jason Biggs (@JasonBiggs)
August 30, 2012
As is this:

@JasonBiggs "@GODisSanta420: @JasonBiggs How dare you ignore Ann Romney's asshole. Ur un-American." Sorry ur right. I bet hers is un-bleached and hairy.
Those are only two of the Tweets that are unacceptable.  They do not help Barack Obama.  They do not help anyone.  They are why the basic cable network is now considering dropping Jason Biggs.  His film career is over.  As a sitcom star, he struck out.  (Though he wasn't the problem in that sitcom and was actually funny and appealing.)  Now all he has is voice work.  When you are on thin ice, Jason, you do not jump and down.  Those statements were repugnant and offensive.  That you can't grasp that says there is something seriously wrong with you.  Maybe it's temporary and you need to get out in the world.  Maybe it's something more serious and you need therapy.  But there is no excuse for what you have Tweeted -- and it's more than just those two Tweets.  You need to stop and you need to stop now.  Not only does it hurt Barack, your hero, but Barack will be called upon to apologize for your actions.  He may or may not take that step to distance himself.  But you are distracting from the campaign.  If for no other reason, that should cause you to cease and desist.  But, repeating, your comments are offensive and they are sexist.  There is not an excuse for them.  They need to stop.
Roseanne needs to find her way back to focusing on issues.  If she can't, she's accomplishing nothing and hurting the Peace and Freedom Party.  She said she was running to raise issues.  So, Roseanne, when is your big mouth going to be used to tackle an issue other than smoking pot?  Is that all you have?  If that is all you have, the Peace and Freedom Party will distance itself from you -- there were already efforts underway to make that happen.  How would it feel to be the first presidential candidate whose own party publicly rebukes them?
I noted months ago here that I would not vote for Roseanne because she's governed by fear.  I know Roseanne and I like her as a person and as an artist.  But I don't back putting fear into the White House or our election cycles.  I could end up voting for Jill Stein who continues to run a campaign based on issues.  (At this point, my plan is still not to vote for that office.)
Jill Stein took her campaign to Maine.  Deidre Fulton (Portland Phoenix) reports:

After her public speech, I asked her what it's been like trying to convince people that we're at a tipping point in terms of breaking the endless (and fruitless) back-and-forth between the two establishment political parties. She likened her experience to being a "political therapist, helping people get out of an abusive political relationship." There will always be excuses as to why people should continue voting for status quo candidates, why they should stay within the confines of a system that isn't helping them, and in fact may be hurting them. 
"The politics of fear has delivered all the things we were afraid of" Stein said. 
What's that adage about being insane? Doing the same thing over and over but expecting a different result every time?
Perhaps its time to try something new, before we all lose our minds. 

During a series of campaign stops in Maine, Stein gave the keynote address during a Green Party rally in Monument Square. Local Green Party candidates for the state legislature and school board.Stein said it's time to take back people's jobs, their health care and their educations. She said people want to take back their democracy."It needs fixing at every level," she said. "It won't get fixed ... unless it's challenged."Stein, who lives in Lexington, Mass., has a long history of activism and political involvement outside her work as a doctor.
It was during the discussion on the debt ceiling last year that Stein became more involved with the Green Party. She said both political parties made proposals to cut the debt that dismantled programs like Medicare and Medicaid and removed the social safety net.
Attached to the Stein ticket as vice president is Cheri Honkala -- a renowned anti-poverty activist based in Philadelphia.

While Roseanne continues to wallow in hatred, Jill's talking about issues including how her own outlook was transformed and about ballot access.  Scott Bernarde (Patch) speaks with Dr. Stein and reports:


As a mother of young kids and a doctor in a clinic, she saw the epidemic of chronic diseases descend on this generation's children.
"It took becoming a mother to feel the incredible vulnerability of our future, and to take it personally," said Stein.
Diabetes, obesity, ADHD and others were among her biggest concern. Some even hit close to home.
"To learn that we have effectively poisoned our own nest," she said, "not only the air, but the food that we're eating, and that it has fundamentally contaminated the womb, drives home the imperative to protect it all."
It was that realization that became the catalyst for her political career. While she is on target to be on 45 separate state ballots, she recently learned that she will not appear on the Georgia ballot. Georgia has "the most antidemocratic ballot in the country," according to Stein. Instead, she is encouraging a grassroots write-in campaign

While Roseanne spews hatred and loses focus and wastes time, Jill's campaign is focused on reality.  Craig Lyons (Portland Daily Sun) reports:
Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein said she recognizes that it's unlikely that a third party can take the White House but at least another presence in the election can turn attention to the voters who are fed up with the current policies of the two major parties.
"We're in at a unique breaking point moment right now," said Stein, during an interview with the Daily Sun. "People are ready to turn that breaking point into a tipping point."
Jill Stein has to work for coverage and is getting it.  Roseanne's a household name and the press has a natural interest in her as such but the only press she's getting is about how hateful she's being.  It's not highlighting any issues, it's not helping anyone -- including Roseanne.  November's not that far away, has she already tossed in the towel and lost interest in her own campaign?  Those are tough words.  I'd really prefer not to have to write them.  But I don't whore for anyone.  And Roseanne needs to get her act together.  (Cindy Sheehan is not top of the ticket.  She is the running mate.  But, yes, Cindy is focusing on issues.  Roseanne is the distraction.  The plan for today was actually to highlight the Roseanne-Cindy ticket with an interview Cindy did but Roseanne's appalling behavior is the story of the day for the Roseanne-Cindy ticket. And it will remain the story of the day until she stops this nonsense and starts talking about issues.)

Friday, August 31, 2012

Drones and party

Late.  From NPR's All Things Considered:

Cellphones have ushered in an age of interruption, with apps that notify you when you're mentioned on Facebook or Twitter, or even if your favorite ball team scores a run.
But Apple is the ultimate arbiter of what kinds of notifications iPhone users can receive — and some apps just don't pass muster with the tech giant.
Take Josh Begley's idea, for example. Begley created an app that sends a push notification — or beep — to an iPhone whenever there is a U.S. drone strike anywhere in the world.
Apple blocked it from its App Store.
"They said the app has excessively objectionable or crude content," Begley says. "Which I found somewhat curious, because it is literally just a republishing of news — just tracking when strikes happen."

That's a report by Steve Henn.  Can you believe it?  The app would be "crude" and "objectionable" but the Drone War itself?


Okay, I was at a party tonight.  Mom has our daughter so she's probably not blogging tonight.  (She hasn't so far and it's morning now.)   I didn't know how late the party was going to run and didn't want to leave her with a baby sitter.

It was a lot of fun.  It was a friend of Elaine's and C.I.'s from college.  We went late because Elaine's got group therapy on Thursdays.  I was really afraid she was going to say, "Go with C.I." Because I knew she was going to be tired.  But she was up for a party and we had so much fun. 

And it's always funny to watch someone's reaction if they've never seen C.I. drink.  :D

She'll drink or not depending on the party.  (She's more apt to drink if she has a headache.)  If she drinks, she's not sipping a wine cooler.  :D  She started with bloody marys (she loves tomato juice), switched to martinis at some point, then to dirty martinis and had beers in between all of that.  And tequila shots with the host of the party.  He said since she was drinking -- she doesn't drink at all parties -- they had to do a rematch of the great tequila shot battle of I don't know when.

So they did.  Elaine said C.I. was going to win.  She never even doubted it.  I thought she had a good chance of winning because I know she can drink a lot.  But this guy was tall like me (he and I are both over 6 foot) and she's small so I just knew for sure that he had fighting chance.

He so did not.

And I don't know that C.I. even got a buzz. (The guy gave up after his 13th shot.  He couldn't match C.I. on the 14th and said he was about to throw up.)

But it was fun and I think Elaine liked it best of all because among the music played was the Smash soundtrack.  She's got that but she has not had time to listen to it.  She's been wanting to do a little review of the soundtrack for her site (I cover Nikita and other shows like Fringe here, Elaine covers Smash at her site) but she hasn't had time for it.

So she got to hear it, but more importantly, everyone loved the McPhee woman's version of "Shake It Off."  (I hope I got the title right.)

But it was a great party.  I got to meet a lot of Elaine's friends going back many years.  I got to see a number of her friends that we hang out with and it was just a great party.  A lot of dancing, a lot of music.  A lot of drinking.

And I'm going to bed right now.  We just got home and she wanted to take a shower first.  She's out so I'm putting in C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Thursday, August 30, 2012.  Chaos and violence continue, Canada announces they will deport Kimberly Rivera, Mitt Romney has two proposals for veterans, the Iraqi Parliament releases a list of the most corrupt ministries, Amnesty International asks Iraq to stop the executions, Jill Stein release her first commercial since winning the Green Party's presidential nomination, and more.
GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney has a solid idea on veterans and education.  We noted that in yesterday's snapshot.  There's so much -- a great deal of it nonsense -- going on that the idea's really not getting the attention it should so we're going to open with it.  As Ari Shapiro (Morning Edition, NPR) reported today, speaking to the American Legion, Mitt Romney proposed that veterans attending college on the Post 9/11 GI Bill get in state tuition.
Ari Shapiro:  Romney offered new ways to expand veterans' education, jobs, and health care.  For example, he says veters should get in-state tuition rates no matter where they live.  And he wants people with military training to get trade credentials more easily.
Mitt Romney: And any time a veteran is unable to receive timely health care from the VA system, he or she will be allowed to see a tri-care provider at the VA's expense.
Ari Shapiro: Tri-care is the military's health care program.  Less than three hours after he touched down in Indiana, Romney was back on a plane to Tampa where he will accept his party's nomination to be president tonight.
Yesterday, we noted Mitt Romney's in-state tuition aspect.  That is a wonderful idea.  Everyone should be praising that.  Barack Obama (and other campaigns) should be grabbing it.  If someone says, "Barack, you stole that from Mitt!" -- the reply is, "When a solid idea comes along, you promote it.  You don't worry about where it came from, you do what's best."  And this is a great addition to the Post 9/11 GI Bill. 
Yesterday, I did not note the TRICARE aspect because I wasn't aware of it.  From his speech, here is Mitt Romney speaking about the in-state tuitition and about TRICARE:
The problems with the VA are serious, and must be fixed. We are in danger of another generation of veterans losing their faith in VA system. On my watch, that will not be allowed to happen.
The Obama administration has also requested $12 billion in TRICARE fee increases.  I will not ask our wartime military to shoulder more sacrifices while the rest of government grows.  I will not ask our service members -- active or retired -- to pay more for their health care to free up room for Obamacare.  
I will keep faith with our troops and our veterans -- and my administration will do better by them.  I was astounded to read about a federal building in Virginia that became structurally unstable in 2010 because so many veterans' claims had stacked up inside it.  I am going to make reforming that agency a personal priority of mine -- and I've already started thinking about the policies I will put in place to make it work better for you.
I will modify the Post 9/11 GI Bill so that any veteran wishing to continue his or her education is eligible for in-state tuition, regardless of residency.         
To make it easier for veterans to find employment in skilled trades, I will work with the states to create a common credentialing and licensing standard, and encourage credentialing organizations to recognize and grant credit for military training.
Right now the VA has a shortage of mental health care professionals.  I will hire more -- and any time a veteran is unable to receive timely health care from the VA system, he or she will be allowed to see a TRICARE provider at the VA's expense.
I have said before that this must be an American Century.  And to accomplish that, we must have the strongest military and the strongest economy in the world.
US House Rep Bob Filner, Ranking Member of the House Veterans Affairs Committee and currently running for San Diego Mayor,   He has addressed the backlog at VA in many hearings.  As Romney's remarks portray it, this sounds like points made by Bob Filner (and others) and it's a solid idea as well. If I seem less enthused, it's only because I'm not surprised by that idea because others have proposed it.  I'm glad Mitt Romney's proposing it.  I wish all the candidates running for president would make that part of their campaign.  With the in-state tuition idea, not only is it a great idea, it's one I've never heard proposed before yesterday and I've been attending the House and Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hearings and covering them here for about six years now.  Both ideas are solid and America's veterans would greatly benefit.
Someone's going to scream in an e-mail to the public account, "You've endorsed Mitt Romney!"  I didn't endorse in 2008, I'm not endorsing now.  People are mature enough to decide whether to vote and if to vote who to vote for.  (Thus far my plan is still not to vote in the presidential election.  I will vote on other races.)  I do, however, endorse Mitt Romney's two proposals.  They are great proposals.  Again, I wish all the campaigns would adopt those proposals.   It does not kill me or upset me or bother me to say, "Those are two solid and amazing proposals from Mitt Romney.  Good job, Mitt Romney."  It's a real shame that partisan hacks are ensuring we're not talking about those two proposals -- both of which can easily be done and both of which would immediately improve the lives of veterans. 
That's a goal that I would hope we could all agree on: improving the lives of veterans.  It would be really nice instead of attempting to split us everytime, we could work together on at least one issue, if we could show just some of the maturity, leadership and compassion that Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Chair Patty Murray and Ranking Member Richard Burr practice every day when it comes to veterans issues.
Staying on veterans issues, the Canadian Press reports that Iraq War veteran Kimberly Rivera "must leave Canada by Sept. 20."  Kimberly Rivera is the first female war resister to publicly seek asylum in Canada.  She is from Texas, from the D-FW (Dallas - Fort Worth) area.  She stated in July 2009, "I want to stay in Canada, with my family, because the Iraq War is immoral, illegal and I couldn't in good conscience go back.  The amount of support I'm getting from Canadians is amazing.  The parents of my kids' friends, MPs and even strangers on the street keep telling me that they can't believe the votes in Parliament aren't being respected."   Dropping back to the December 4, 2007 Iraq snapshot:

Courage to Resist profiles war resister Kimberly Rivera explaining how she ended up checking out and moving with her husband and children to Canada: "Kimberly Rivera grew up in Mesquite, Texas, a suburb east of Dallas.  She had never thought of becoming a soldier until she was seventeen and the Army recruiters visited her home to meet with Kimberly and her parents.  The recruiters offered money for college that her family did not have.  Her mother was supporting Kimberly, her father, and her two sisters after her father suffered a work related accident.  She took an aptitute test for job placement out of 'curiosity', but later signed up to be a mechanic.  She was given an elistment date following graduation for the Army Resevers."  She was released from the military due to pregnancy at the end of 200.  With the costs of raising two children, she decided to re-enlist and found herself stationed in Iraq.  "I felt like I was losing my mind.  I was so close to death so many times.  It scares me now.  My life as I knew it was falling apart and I was unable to pull it together.  I was surrouned by males who were filled with filthy comments and talking about all kinds of sexual things.  I was there for three months and was scared that some of the guys might try to get me to trust them just so later they could have their chance to abuse me."  A not uncommon nor unrealistic fear based on reported cases of sexual assault in the military.  "While in Iraq losing soldiers and civilians was part of daily life.  I was a gate guard.  This was looked down on by infantry soldiers who go out in the streets, but gate guards are the highest security of the Foward Operation Base.  We searched vehicles, civilian personnel, and military convoys that left and came back every hour.  I had a huge awakening seeing the war as it truly is: people losing their lives for greed of a nation and the effects on the soldiers who come back with new problems such as nightmares, anxieties, depression, anger alcohol abuse, missing limbs and scars from burns.  Some don't come back at all.  On December 21, 2006 I was going to my room and something in my heart told me to go call my husband.  And when I did 24 rounds of mortars hit the FOB in a matter of minutes after I got on the phone . . . the mortars were 10-15 feet from where I was.  I found a hole from the shrapnel in my room in the plywood window.  That night I found the shrapnel on my bed in the same place where my head would have been if I hadn't changed my plans and gone to the phone."  The death of an Iraqi civilian and a base visit by an Iraq father and his daughter took place before her leave.  While in Texas on leave, she and her husband made the decision to go to Canada.  In the Iraq War, there are many resisters who never go public.  Of those who go public, Stephen Funk is the first to resist.  Camilo Mejia is the first Iraq veteran to resist, Jeremy Hinzman is the first resister to go public in Canada, Ehren Watada is the first officer to resist, Eli Israel is the first to resist while stationed in Iraq and Kimberly Rivera is the first female resister to go public in Canada.

City News Toronto has a photo of Kimberly and her family.   Kimberly and her husband moved to Canada with Christian and Rebecca.  They're now the parents of four children.  Katie and Gabriel were born in Canada.  The CBC notes, "Rivera's lawyers have argued in Canada's federal court that their client would likely face a court martial and jail time, possibly up to five years, instead of an administrative discharge if she is deported because of her political opposition to the war."  Patty Winsa (Toronto Star) speaksnotes with Alyssa Manning, Kimberly's attorney, who notes that while 94% of deserters end up with an administrative discharge, it's different for war resisters who've spoken out, "There is evidence that people who speak out publicly against the war in Iraq are targeted for differential prosecution once they've returned to the United States.  There is a very small percentage that are selected for prosecution and court martial and the evidence demonstrates that in that small percentage are people who have spoken out against the war in Iraq."
Charmaine Noronha (AP) notes War Resisters Support Campaign spokesperson Michelle Robidoux states that future moves include asking Minister of Immigration Jason "Kenney to grant the family humanitarian and compassionate consideration and allow them to stay."  Speaking on the phone to two friends in the Canadian Parliament today (House of Commons, both are members of the New Democratic Party), this is not seen as an isolated incident but part of a move to target the remaining US war resisters in Canada who have not received aslyum or citizenship.  Rivera is seen as "this month's target" with others lined up for the immediate future.  The New Democratic Party, specifically under Olivia Chow direction, repeatedly brought measures before the House of Commons to protect war resisters.
Chow's most recent legislative attempt was in March of last year.  The Liberal Party MPs refused to support the measure and walked out.  They were happy at other times, the Liberal Party, to pretend to care about war resisters.  Robidoux and others will try many strategies to save Kimberly and her family as well as other war resisters -- the courts and public officials such as Kenney are their best shots.  During Vietnam, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau granted asylum to war resisters -- those evading the draft and those who had been inducted and left the service.  He didn't pass a law for it.  The law isssue is complicated by the sign-off portion in Canada and it was a dead end before the Liberals decided they no longer cared for war resisters.  If Jason Kenney or another individual or individuals is spotlighted by the War Resisters Support Campaign as someone to write and make the case for granting the Rivera family the right to remain in Canada where they have made their home, we will note that here. 
During the current US wars, Darrell Anderson was the first war resister publicly seeking asylum in Canada that turned around and came back on his own.  Robin Long was the first to be deported by Canada.  Only two have won in court so far: Dean Walcott and Chris Vassey.  Many have had more success by not going public and applying for citizenship and visa through other means.  If there's a lesson for future US war resisters, it may be that the easiest way is to not go public.  Not going public will make it harder for the movement to grow but it may make it a lot easier to be granted asylum.  Not going public also means a message is sent about Canada and those in government better realize they can't shut out war resisters and also have Canada seen as a principled country and a beacon of hope, one of the world's most advanced countries.  Canada's solid image is based in part on their behavior during Vietnam.  (I'm referring to the government here.  During the current wars -- the Iraq War is still going on, the Canadian people have been very clear about their desires and goals.  The government has refused to recognize that and support it. But the Canadian people, as a whole, remain dedicated to advancing peace. It's something worthy of praise and it's a shame their government, thus far, refuses to embrace tha generous and giving spirit.)
For now, Kimberly and her family remain in Canada.  Meanwhile War Criminal Tony Blair struts across the globe like a free range chicken.  Today he is in South Africa where, Eye Witness News informs, "A group of protesters gathered outside the Sandton Convention Centre on Thursday to protest against former British Prime Minister Tony Blair."   Faranaaz Parker (Mail & Guardian) reports:
There has been growing anger over the invitation extended to Blair from local groups who had opposed the Iraq war. The South African Muslim Network has said that it was considering holding protests outside the summit venue, sit-ins and legal action against Blair.
On Wednesday the South African Press Association reported that the Society for the Protection of our Constitution (Spoc) had filed a complaint with the South African Police Service and that a "crimes against the state" docket had been opened. A case number was issued and the matter will now go to the national director of public prosecutions for consideration.
It's hard to determine whether Tony Blair is suffering from the effects of Mad Cow or if he hopes the rest of us are.  News 24 reports on his recent comments:
"What I say to these groups is this: 'Why don't you actually go and protest against the people doing the killing?'" he told the paper.
"The vast majority of people dying from terrorist activity [are] Muslim on Muslim violence," Blair said.
Terrorist activity includes illegal war and that's what Blair took part in.  He lied to the people and he ignored the legal advice.  He wanted war and a lot of people died because of it.  he might try getting honest but War Criminals are usually immune to honesty.
Violence never ends in Iraq.  Alsumaria reports that a middle school student was kidnapped in Kirkuk after two cars filled with unknown assailants pulled into his neighborhood and grabbed him and a Ramadi roadside bombing left three people injured while a Hawja roadside bombing left a captain in the Iraqi military and a Sahwa leader injured.

Yesterday brought news of the last 9 of 140 US tanks being handed over to Nouri's Baghdad-based government.   Alsumaria notes that the 140 US tanks are in addition to the 170 tanks Iraq has purchased from Russia. AFP doesn't mention the tanks purchased from Russia but does note the tanks  "are part of Baghdad's efforts to build up its military, which U.S. and Iraqi officials admit cannot secure the country's borders, airspace, or maritime waters."  Meanwhile Alsumaria reports that the US Embassy in Baghdad has declared in a statement that how Nouri chooses to use the F-16 fighter jets is not a concern of the US.  Really?  Dropping back to yesterday's snapshot:

 In related news, AKnews reports that Monday saw NGOs protesting in Erbil to register their opposition to the US government's plan to sell Baghdad F-16s and that the NGO's issued a statement which included:

The US is selling F-16 fighters to the Iraqi government while the majority of the Middle East regimes who used heavy weapons against their peoples are being pressed on to leave power and to get stripped of their heavy weapons.  The Iraqi government is not under any external threats from the air or the ground from borders.  The purchase of these fighters is not necessary.  Each of these planes have been purchased with a huge amoung of money which the Iraqi government could use on providing services to the people and reconstructing the country.  The government could buy passenger planes instead of F-16s.  Our concern and fear of the Iraqi government's purchase of those planes stems from our experience with the former Iraqi governments that used heavy weapons against their people.

Please note, that's not a concern to the US government.

And where is Nouri right now?

Oh, that's right: Iran.

The government in Tehran publicly summoned him on Tuesday and he scooted right over.   According to  James Risen and Duraid Adnan's "U.S. Says Iraqis Are Helping Iran to Skirt Sanctions" (New York Times) earlier this month, the White House knows Nouri's government is helping Iran circumvent economic sanctions.  And now the F-16s will be turned over to Iraq with the US Embassy in Baghdad declaring how Nouri uses them and what he does with them is not any business of the US government's?

I seem to recall the last time a similar statement was made.  And it was conveyed though diplomatic staff as well.  Anyone else remember?  April Glaspie?  July of 1990, US Ambassador to Baghdad Glaspie conveyed to Saddam Hussein that, "We have no opinion on your Arab-Arab conflicts, such as your dispute with Kuwait.  Secretary [of State James] Baker has directed me to emphasize the instruction, first given to Iraq in the 1960s, that the Kuwait issue is not associated with America."  That was a bloodbath (and why the UN has kept Iraq in Chapter VII all these years later).  Remember that should another blood bath follow.  The US government has yet again refused to stand up for humanity and instead given tacit approval to a dictator to carry out his most macabre fantasies.

Nouri's been on an execution kick this week with at least 26 hangings so far for the week, nearly 100 for the year.  The Voice of Russia reports European Union Policy Commissioner Catherine Ashton "says that the growing number of executions in Iraq is openly at variance with the global trend towards the abolishment of capital punishment."  KUNA adds, "The UK government urged Iraq on Thursday to halt executions, after reports emerged that 26 people said to be linked with terrorism were executed over the past few days."  Though Nouri tries to render the executed invisible to ensure that no one can question the legal judgments, they were alive, they had names, they had families.  Habib Toumi (Gulf News) reports on one of the executed this week:
Mazen Mohammad Nashi Al Masawi is said to be among those executed by the Iraqis, but no formal statement has reached the family.
"We never suspected anything about Mazen heading to Iraq," Mohammad, the father, said. "He was a student at the Business and Management College at the King Abdul Aziz University and spent most of his free time at home. He looked normal and behaved normally and he did not exhibit any sign or indication of extremism or fanaticism," he said, quoted by local daily Okaz on Wednesday.

On the executions, Amnesty International issued the following statement today:
Iraq must halt executions
Amnesty International reiterates its urgent call to halt all execution in Iraq following reports that 26 people were executed this week and fears that others might be executed in the coming days.
A spokesman of the Iraqi Ministry of Justice reportedly announced that on Wednesday 29 August five people had been executed. Two days earlier, according to the Ministry, already 21 people had been executed, including three women.
Amnesty International has spoken to Iraqi human rights activists who have confirmed that three women aged between 23 and 49 years, one of them convicted for terrorism related offences and the others for murder were among those executed this week
These latest executions bring the total number of people executed this year to at least 96. This is a significant and worrying increase compared to the previous year. According to Amnesty International's information, in 2011 a total of at least 68 people were executed in Iraq. Amnesty International's concerns are compounded by the flaws in the Iraqi criminal justice system.
Since the death penalty was reintroduced in Iraq in 2004, hundreds of people have been sentenced to death and are now on death row. Amnesty International has denounced throughout the years that many trials of those sentenced to death failed to meet international standards for fair trials, including that "confessions" obtained under torture or other ill-treatment had been used as evidence against them. Some Iraqi television stations continue to broadcast self-incriminating testimonies of detainees even before the opening of a trial, undermining the fundamental right of defendants to be considered innocent until proven guilty.
Amnesty International is urging the Iraqi authorities to refrain from using the death penalty, commute all death sentences to terms of imprisonment and declare a moratorium on executions. This year, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions have both called for the establishment of a moratorium on the death penalty in Iraq.
Amnesty International opposes the death penalty – the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment – in all cases without exception, as a violation of the right to life.

As already noted, Nouri is in Tehran, Al Mada reports on that. AGI explains, "Nouri Al-Maliki will present Iraq's plan for the Syrian crisis at the summit of non-aligned countries in Teheran.  The two key points in the plan call for an end to the violence and the formation of a national unity government 'which includes all the components of the Syrian population'."    AFP elaborates, "Maliki was to outline the initiative, under which a Syrian regime figure would negotiate with opposition groups and elections take place under international and Arab League supervision, in a speech to the Non-Aligned summit Tehran."  In Iraq, the Minister of Foreign Affairs has been tasked with explaining the recommendation.  Prensa Latina reports, " In an address to Al-Alam television channel during the 16th Non-Aligned Movement Summit in Tehran, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari said his country will not break its relations with Damascus despite regional and international press."
Ayad al-Tamimi (Al Mada) reports that the Parliament's Integrity Committee has found that the most corrupt ministries in Iraq -- Ministries of Defense, Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Sports and Youth and the Ministry of Electricity.

On the disappeared, all this time later, there is still no amnesty law.  Currently in Mosul and Baghdad, inmates in two prisons are on hunger-strikes (more prisons may have joined this) calling for the passage of an amnesty law.  Nouri's been accused of rushing through executions to ensure that they take place before any amnesty law might stop them.  Al Rafidayn reports that Nouri's State of Law is insisting that people are wrong when they say State of Law is stalling on the amnesty law.   And possibly State of Law is telling the truth?  This could be just another example of how State of Law lacks the ability to lead on any issue.

And while State of Law denies accusations that they are stalling on the long-planned amnesty law, Al Mada reports that they're also demanding the enactment of a law to ban Ba'athists.  Ba'athists were the dominant party in Iraq under President Saddam Hussein.  Paul Bremer implemented the White House's desired purge of Ba'athists from government following the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq.  The call for a law and the demand that the Justice and Accountability Commission begin purging will no doubt be praised by the usual goons (the same ones who openly wished Nouri would steal the 2010 election, for example).  But the reality is that in early 2007, Iraq accepted -- Nouri signed off on -- White House benchmarks calling for reconciliation and ending the Ba'athist purge.

The Ba'athists have already been purged.  This really isn't about that.  What it's about is the provincial elections which are scheduled for 2013 and the parliamentary elections which are scheduled for 2014.  A lot of Nouri's opponents were eliminated from running in the 2010 parliamentary elections through creative use of the Accountability and Justice Commission -- a commission that Iraq's Parliament thought had lapsed.  Already a goonie in the US has praised the return this year of the commission.  There's nothing to praise here.  And, again, Iraq was supposed to be moving towards reconciliation.  (Equally true, the Iraq Inquiry presided over by John Chilcot in England has heard from one witness after another -- UK government officials -- about how this purge was the worst thing for Iraq and how much damage it has done and continues to do.)
Back to the US and the presidential race.  Tonight in Tampa, the RNC concluded but not before they officially proclaimed Mitt Romney to be their presidential candidate.  Paul Ryan is his running mate.   NPR continued their live coverage (expanded All Things Considered) and did a good job all week with their coverage.  When I said that to an NPR friend, he asked if we would note NPR live blogged the convention as well.  Yes, I will note that and even link to Mark Memmott's Thursday live blogging.  Qualifier: I'm not a Republican.  As a Democrat, it appeared to me that NPR was being very fair (especially when compared to other MSM outlets).  A Republican might see it differently.  It's their party and I would gladly concur that a woman or a man who is Republican and followed the RNC coverage NPR provided would be a better judge than I am on this matter.
In his acceptance speech, Mitt Romney declared, "What is needed in our country today is not complicated or profound.  It doesn't take a special government commission to tell us what America needs.  What America needs is jobs.  Lots of jobs."
On the Republican National Convention, yesterday's snapshot noted Tom Brokaw's critique that the RNC hadn't mentioned Iraq or Afghanistan on Tuesday.  Brokaw's criticism was accurate and was also non-partisan (non-partisan in that he had no axe to grind and non-partisan in that he accurately portrayed Dems and Republicans marching off to war in 2003).  Yesterday the wars were noted.

The RNC e-mailed the public account to note that veterans Jeanine McDonnell and Chris Develin-Young spoke.  This is Jeanine McDonnell introducing Chris Devlin-Young:

Good evening, I am proud to be one of the 212,000 servicewomen who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past decade.
As a 24 year old Virginian in Iraq, I worked with some of the most courageous men and women this nation has to offer, and we were united in a singular cause: to protect the nation that we love.
It has been my privilege to serve alongside heroes of every service. Defending this nation and its citizens is not without sacrifice for service members and the families who support them.
And that's why we need leaders who don't play chicken with our nation's defense. We need leaders who will invest in defense -- not abandon it.
And that's why we need Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan.
Now, it is my honor to introduce Chris Devlin-Young, a hero in his own right, a former Coast Guardsman and a two-time Paralympic gold medalist in alpine skiing. Chris.

After that Chris Devlin-Young introduced Senator John McCain:

Thank you. It's wonderful to be with you tonight.
In 1982, while flying in heavy fog during a Coast Guard mission, our plane crashed, leaving me paralyzed from the waist down. While my career as a Coast Guardsman ended, a new world of service began for me.
27 years ago, this California boy was introduced to ski racing at the first Veterans Administration Winter Sports clinic. I decided then and there to dedicate myself to racing and coaching other injured veterans.
Being a gold medal Paralympian gives me a whole new way to honor and serve my country. Being the coach of paralympic medalists gives me a way to honor and serve others.
I believe that we can all serve no matter what our challenges. Because it's not about what you've lost in life but rather what you are able to give.
And now, it is my honor to introduce a hero who has given of himself regardless of the price. He is the son and grandson of admirals, a decorated naval pilot, a war hero, and the senior senator from the great state of Arizona -- Senator John McCain.
Condi Rice spoke Tuesday night.  The former Secretary of State got a ton of criticism.  Stupidest came from Slate where  a bunch of idiots pretend to work.  Sasha Issenberg opened with:
Condoleezza Rice's turn on stage seemed to be evidence of a speaker in
 search of an argument, as though a production company lined up a star
 actor cast before determining the plot.
You stupid f**king moron.  Why don't you take general studies degree masquerading as a degree in journalism and shove it up your ass.  You're not qualified to make the criticism you strive for.  An actor or actress cast in a production company would not be lined up "before determing the plot."  You stupid f**king moron.  A production company (film) might do so before getting a script, a production company (theater) might do it before choosing a play.  But, you deeply stupid f**king moron, they would not do it before "determing the plot."  You're not capable of art references because your education has so failed you.  Stick to dragging your knuckles on the ground because you might manage that but you can't handle allusions to the world of art.  You've demonstrated that.  In your attempt to prove how awful Condi Rice was, all you demonstrated was how you had no grip on vocabulary and no understanding of what you were attempting to allude to. 
There was no reason to try to go Dowdian [Maureen Dowd] but if you're going to try to pretend that you have the education and background for that sort of reference, you need to understand the concepts which you so clearly do not.
And for any who think that may be a little too harsh, for this site it is not.  I have lost faith in many things at many points in my life, but I have never lost faith in art and I don't take kindly to little pishers who seem to feel they're qualified for discussions which so clearly float above their heads.
And why Condi?  The RNC sent her speech to the public account late this morning.  We don't have space for the full speech, but here's a sample of it (I'll run it in full tomorrow morning):
And we have seen once again that the desire for freedom is universal – as men and women in the Middle East demand it.  Yet, the promise of the Arab Spring is engulfed in uncertainty; internal strife and hostile neighbors are challenging the fragile democracy in Iraq; dictators in Iran and Syria butcher their own people and threaten the security of the region; China and Russia prevent a response; and all wonder,  "Where does America stand?"
Indeed that is the question of the moment- "Where does America stand?"  When our friends and our foes, alike, do not know the answer to that question – clearly and unambiguously — the world is a chaotic and dangerous place.  The U.S. has since the end of World War II had an answer – we stand for free peoples and free markets, we are willing to support and defend them – we will sustain a balance of power that favors freedom.
To be sure, the burdens of leadership have been heavy.  I, like you, know the sacrifices that Americans have made – yes including the ultimate sacrifice of many of our bravest.  Yet our armed forces remain the sure foundation of liberty.  We are fortunate to have men and women who volunteer – they volunteer to defend us on the front lines of freedom.  And we owe them our eternal gratitude.
I know too that it has not always been easy – though it has been rewarding – to speak up for those who would otherwise be without a voice – the religious dissident in China; the democracy advocate in Venezuela; the political prisoner in Iran. 
It has been hard to muster the resources to support fledgling democracies– or to help the world's most desperate— the AIDs orphan in Uganda, the refugee fleeing Zimbabwe, the young woman who has been trafficked into the sex trade in Southeast Asia; the world's poorest in Haiti.   Yet this assistance – together with the compassionate works of private charities – people of conscience and people of faith— has shown the soul of our country.
And I know too that there is weariness – a sense that we have carried these burdens long enough.  But if we are not inspired to lead again, one of two things will happen – no one will lead and that will foster chaos —- or others who do not share our values will fill the vacuum.  My fellow Americans, we do not have a choice.  We cannot be reluctant to lead – and one cannot lead from behind.
Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan understand this reality — that our leadership abroad and our well being at home are inextricably linked.   They know what needs to be done.
Our friends and allies must be able to trust us. From Israel to Poland to the Philippines to Colombia and across the world — they must know that we are reliable and consistent and determined.  And our adversaries must have no reason to doubt our resolve — because peace really does come through strength.  Our military capability and technological advantage will be safe in Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan's hands.
We must work for an open global economy and pursue free and fair trade – to grow our exports and our influence abroad.  In the last years, the United States has ratified three trade agreements, all negotiated in the Bush Administration.  If you are concerned about China's rise – consider this fact – China has signed 15 Free Trade Agreements and is negotiating 20 more.  Sadly we are abandoning the playing field of free trade – and it will come back to haunt us.
We must not allow the chance to attain energy independence to slip from our grasp.  We have a great gift of oil and gas reserves here in North America that must be and can be developed while protecting our environment.  And we have the ingenuity in the private sector to tap alternative sources of energy.
If Condi's speech speaks to you, great.  We're not going to fact check it. I don't care for it.  It's the argument for the war in Iraq and the argument for more wars.  That's what she believes in, she didn't hide and our site here is a rejection of those beliefs.  We can allow her to have her say and we're all mature to either agree or disagree with her and no one needs footnotes at this late date on Condi Rice.  Though I didn't care for the content of the speech (with the exception of personal notes she made, I actually was glad she made her references to her childhood), she delivered it very powerfully.
This was the big foreign policy speech at the convention.  Possibly because it was that and because Condi's a woman, that's the one the RNC chose to send to the public e-mail account (  Maybe for another reason altogether, I have no idea.  But we noted a nice size sample of it and tomorrow I'll note it in full in a morning entry and attempt to find a video for it as well.
In terms of the election, we're interested in the two presidential campaigns made up of four women.  The four: Jill Stein has the Green Party's presidential nomination and her running mate is Cheri Honkala and Roseanne Barr has the nomination of the Peace and Freedom Party and her running mate is Cindy Sheehan. Click here to sign a petition calling on Ms. magazine and Women's Media Center to cover her campaign and the other female candidate for president Roseanne Barr's campaignOver 250 people have signed onto the petition so far.  Some sign and leave comments and we noted some of the comments in Sunday's "Women Win When Women Run: The conversation Roseanne and Jill are inspiring" at Third -- and "women win when women run" is a theme that repeats in the comments with several people signing noting that theme or expanding on it.
Ian Wilder (On The Wilder Side) notes Jill Stein has released her first commercial:
Jill Stein: A Green Party president means an end to unemployment, to foreclosures, to student debt, to climate change and an end to corporate rule.  We're not talking spare change.  We need a revolution. 
Man nods in agreement.
That's what we deserve.  What we don't deserve is pandering, irresponsible bull[BLEEP]  that passes itself off as campaigning.  I can't believe I just said that but that's how I feel.
Man nods in agreement.
Man rushes to window, opens it and yells, "I'm voting for Jill Stein."
Man on bicycle: I'm for Jill Stein!
Woman holding child opens window and says, "We need a Green president!"
A figure in white at an open window throws up an arm and exclaims, "Vote for Jill Stein!"
Man on bicycle: We need a Green Party president!
Man looking at newspaper shakes his head in disgust and says, "That does it!  I'm voting for Jill Stein."
Woman looks up to the sky and says, "We need Jill Stein for president!"
Camera pulls out and up as chants of "Jill Stein" are heard and we see earth from space.
Jill Stein stands at a city park.
Jill Stein: I'm Jill Stein.  Green Party candidate for president and I approved this message.
"Donate at:"
Roseanne Barr's running mate is Cindy Sheehan and she notes the Peace & Freedom Party has just made the ballot in FloridaCindy will be speaking Monday at rally at Point Richmod Washington Park in Richomond.  The rally kcks off at 10:00 am and she and others will be attempting to hold Chevron accountable.  The Roseanne and Cindy campaign also issued the following a few days ago:

Cindy Sheehan
According to a piece in titled: "'No one really cares': US deaths in Afghanistan hit 2,000 in forgotten war,"
the death toll of US troops in Afghanistan has now surpassed 2000 under the watch of President Barack Obama and 80,000 troops still languish in the quagmire.

The presidential ticket for the Peace and Freedom Party, Roseanne Barr and Cindy Sheehan, wishes to express deep condolences to the families of the needlessly killed troops and the people of the Af/Pak region that have been devastated by almost 12 years of war.
"It's not true that 'no one cares,' we passionately care about ending US military involvement overseas to bring the world to peace," said VP candidate, Cindy Sheehan, from her home in Vacaville, California. Sheehan continued, "I am the only candidate in this race that personally knows the tragedy of war...the never-ending mourning for a son that won't return and while Roseanne and I agree the economy is a pressing issue, ending the money-pit of US empire will also bring a boon to our national economic stagnation."
The presidential ticket of Barr/Sheehan has been greatly encouraged that campaign events have been packed by people who also see immediate peace as an imperative issue in the 2012 presidential race even though the two capitalist war parties are trying to avoid the issue of the endless wars at all cost.
The Platform of the Peace and Freedom Party includes a very aggressive plank for world peace:

Peace and International Justice

The drive for greater profits by multi-national corporations which direct U.S. foreign policy is a major cause of war. We stand for peace between nations and the right of all peoples to self-determination. We support an ongoing socialist transformation everywhere. We therefore call for:
  • The U.S. to renounce nuclear first strike, and take the initiative toward global disarmament by eliminating all of its nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.
  • No U.S. intervention anywhere. End all support and aid to repressive regimes and all military and police training aid everywhere. End efforts to destabilize foreign governments. End U.S.-directed economic warfare against other countries. Abolish the CIA, NSA, AID and other agencies for interference inother countries' internal affairs. Withdraw all U.S. troops and weapons from all other countries.
  • Stop all U.S. arms exports and trade.
  • Dissolve all military pacts.
  • Convert from military to peaceful production; reallocate the resulting "peace dividend" for social benefit.
  • Abolish the Selective Service System.
  • No weapons in space.
From the Peace and Freedom Party website