Friday, September 28, 2012

Idiot of the week

Friday.  The weekend. 

And October starts Monday.  So that's cool.  Halloween will be here shortly.  In the meantime, let's do Idiot of the Week.

It's not Danny Schechter.  He had another strong column this week.  (I disagreed with most of it but it was still a strong column, well written.) So while he doesn't deserve it, Matthew Rothschild does

What a sorry website The Progressive is.  And how pathetic and cowardly their response was when they felt Barack's UN speech this week was threatening Iran.

They are so pathetic.

But I decided to go with someone else.

This week, the idiot of the week is . . .


How come?

First did you read these by C.I. this week:

She notes two things.  The first is Barack has sent another team of Special-Ops into Iraq.

That didn't surprise me.  I knew Special-Ops didn't leave Iraq because I caught the Ted Koppel report last December.

But the news that the White House is now in negotiations with the Iraqi government to send US troops back into Iraq?

I shouldn't be surprised.  But I was.

And I shouldn't be surprised that huge news like that was reduced to a single sentence in the 15th paragraph of a story about Syria in the New York Times.

But I was.

The same paper that sold the illegal war is now concealing that negotiations take place for more US forces to be sent back into Iraq. That should be a front page story.  Instead, they bury it in the 15th paragraph of a story.

I should have known better.  I was caught by surprise.  I am the idiot of the week.

Where's the outrage over this?

Where's the outcry?

Next week, I won't be so kind and award myself this title.  Next week, I may focus on all the 'left' outlets who still have not noted this reality.

I really think this needs to be one of the big issues of October: Why is Barack claiming credit for pulling (most) troops out of Iraq when he's negotiating to send them back in?

I'm voting for Jill Stein.  I wish she'd call out the negotiations to send troops back into Iraq.  This is from her campaign:

Speaking before an audience of nearly 400 last night at a campaign stop at Humboldt State University in Eureka, California, Green Party candidate Jill Stein cited a report on drone warfare published today from Stanford and NYU researchers as evidence that her intention to stop drone warfare was the right course for America. The report documented the number of civilians being killed by U.S. drone strikes, as well as the antagonism that such strikes are producing among the affected populations.
According to Stein, "The Stanford and NYU report underscores the serious mistake that has been made by the Obama Administration in turning to this type of warfare. The inability of this technology to avoid civilian deaths is just the first of its many problems. In using it, the Obama administration has blurred the distinction between combatants and non-combatants, and between the battlefield and civilian communities. They have encroached upon the sovereign right of nations to have their airspace free of unauthorized foreign aircraft.  And they have truly brought a reign of terror to entire populations. The arrogance with which the Administration dismisses the concerns over this weaponry is truly disturbing.”

"During the Vietnam war, it was said that the real battle being fought was for the 'hearts and minds' of the populace," Stein continued, "Nothing could be better calculated to lose such the hearts and minds of a people than subjecting them to a war of terror from the air using drone aircraft. The fact cited in the report - that 74% of the people of Pakistan now regard the United States as their enemy - is due, in part, to the use of drone warfare."

Green Party vice-presidential candidate Cheri Honkala added "Imagine what it must be like to know that wherever you go, bomb-carrying drones of a foreign power are circling overhead, watching you, and possibly deciding to bomb you based on their own secret and error-prone decision-making process. This sounds like the bleak future from a science-fiction movie.  America is not winning friends with this approach."

George Martin, a longtime leader of United for Peace and Justice, expressed his agreement with Dr. Stein, saying that, "We are sinking into a moral abyss in which we apply the rich man's tools of terrorism to fight those whom we accuse of using the poor man's tools of terrorism.  America must take a stand as a nation of peace and compassion, not as a nation of airborne terror with scant regard for innocent life. Let us tell
the White House, with our voices and with our votes,  that it is time to end drone warfare."

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

Friday, September 28, 2012.  Chaos and violence continue, Iraq War veteran Brian Kinsella begins motoring across America to raise awareness of soldier suicide, the Defense Dept releases their latest monthly suicide figures, the State Dept reclassifies a group, the Wall St. Journal does the best Western-English language report on the prison assault in Tikrit, Bradley Manning's attorney calls for charges against Bradley to be dropped, and more.
Iraq War veteran Brian Kinsella is among many who enjoy motorcycles (he rides a Harley Davidson Street Glide).  Today, at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, he begins a two-week, 5,000 Ride For Life as part of the mission of Stop Soldier Suicide:

During the journey, Kinsella will talk with soldiers, veterans, and senior military leaders at 12 military installations while spreading a word about military suicide prevention and existing civilian sources of aid for US troops.

Click here to see a map of the route at the Stop Solider Suicide website.  Online, you can follow the journey via the Ride For Life Twitter page, the Stop Soldier Suicide Twitter page and via the Stop Soldier Suicide Facebook page as well as the Stop Soldier Suicide blogAlyssa Newcomb (ABC News) reports Brian Kinsella was the platoon leader in 2006 when an 18-year-old soldier in his platoon attempted to take her own life.  He tells Newcomb, "She moved into a male dominated unit, trying to figure out what the hell she was doing to go to war.  We as a command could have done more to make sure this person had better acclimated to our unit."  Julie La Roche (Business Insider) explains:
During the two-week ride, Kinsella will make stops at 12 military installations where he plans to promote SSS's mission, raise awareness about soldier suicide and form partnerships. 
He's also encouraging people to join him on different lengths of the ride to show their support.
"Our desire is for people to join the ride as I pass through towns. It will really show how much people care and support our brave veterans," Kinsella said over coffee last week on September 11th in the Flatiron District. 
The Ride For Life comes as the suicide rate is such that Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has rightly termed it a crisis. July 25th, he appeared before the House Veterans Affairs Committee. From that day's snapshot:

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

Secretary Leon Panetta: You know -- Obviously, there's no silver bullet here.  I wish there were to try to deal with suicide prevention.  We-we have a new suicide prevention office that's trying to look at programs  to try to address this terrible epedemic. I  mean, we are looking.  If you look at just the numbers, recent total are you've got about 104  confirmed and 102 pending investigation in 2012.  The total of this is high, almost 206.  That's nearly one a day.  That is an epedemic.  Something is wrong.  Part of this is people are inhibited because they don't want to get the care that they probably need. So that's part of the problem, trying to get the help that's necessary.  Two, to give them access to the kind of care that they need.  But three -- and, again, I stress this because I see this in a number of other areas, dealing with good discipline and good order and, uh, trying to make sure that our troops are responding to the challenges -- it is the leadership in the field.  It's the platoon commander.  It's the platoon sergeant.  It's the company commander. It's the company sergeant.  The ability to look at their people, to see these problems.  To get ahead of it and to be able to ensure that when you spot the problems, you're moving that individual to the kind of-of assistance that they need in order to prevent it.  The Marines stay in close touch with their people.  That's probably one of the reasons that the Marines are doing a good job.  But what we're stressing in the other services is to try to develop that-that training of the command.  So that they two are able to respond to these kinds of challenges. 
Yesterday the Defense Dept released the latest suicide data: "During August, among active-duty soldiers, there were 16 potential suicides:  three have been confirmed as suicides and 13 remain under investigation.  For July, the Army reported 26 potential suicides among active-duty soldiers: 13 have been confirmed as suicides and 13 remain under investigation.  For 2012, there have been 131 potential active-duty suicides:  80 have been confirmed as suicides and 51 remain under investigation.  Active-duty suicide number for 2011: 165 confirmed as suicides and no cases under investigation.  During August, among reserve component soldiers who were not on active duty, there were nine potential suicides (five Army National Guard and four Army Reserve):  none have been confirmed as suicide and nine remain under investigation.  For July, among that same group, the Army reported 12 potential suicides (nine Army National Guard and three Army Reserve); four have been confirmed as suicides and eight remain under investigation.  For 2012, there have been 80 potential not on active-duty suicides (49 Army National Guard and 31 Army Reserve):  59 have been confirmed as suicides and 21 remain under investigation.  Not on active-duty suicide numbers for 2011:  118 (82 Army National Guard and 36 Army Reserve) confirmed as suicides and no cases under investigation."  The Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-TALK, 1-800-273-8255.  (FYI, Cell phones have different lettering than landlines. That's a fact that seems to escape people giving out letters for phone numbers currently.)
Moving from government department to another, today the US State Dept released the following:
Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
September 28, 2012
The Secretary of State has decided, consistent with the law, to revoke the designation of the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) and its aliases as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) under the Immigration and Nationality Act and to delist the MEK as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist under Executive Order 13224. These actions are effective today. Property and interests in property in the United States or within the possession or control of U.S. persons will no longer be blocked, and U.S. entities may engage in transactions with the MEK without obtaining a license. These actions will be published in the Federal Register.
With today's actions, the Department does not overlook or forget the MEK's past acts of terrorism, including its involvement in the killing of U.S. citizens in Iran in the 1970s and an attack on U.S. soil in 1992. The Department also has serious concerns about the MEK as an organization, particularly with regard to allegations of abuse committed against its own members.
The Secretary's decision today took into account the MEK's public renunciation of violence, the absence of confirmed acts of terrorism by the MEK for more than a decade, and their cooperation in the peaceful closure of Camp Ashraf, their historic paramilitary base.
The United States has consistently maintained a humanitarian interest in seeking the safe, secure, and humane resolution of the situation at Camp Ashraf, as well as in supporting the United Nations-led efforts to relocate eligible former Ashraf residents outside of Iraq.
Some would be seers have insisted all week that the move was a mistake and that the MEK deserved to be labeled terrorists (in 1997 by the Clinton administration) yet they never found an argument to make on behalf of the Camp Ashraf residents.  If Glen Glen and the other Three Faces of Eve are unhappy with the way things were headed, they should have factored in that there was a legal obligation to the Camp Ashraf residents on the part of the US government and then they should have come up with a suggestion of how to honor that obligation without taking the MEK off the list.  As Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) observed earlier this year that "since 2004, the United States has considered the residents of Camp Ashraf 'noncombatants' and 'protected persons' under the Geneva Conventions." 
Paul Richter (Los Angeles Times) observes, "The Iranian government condemned the decision and blamed the group for an incident in which a senior Iranian diplomat in New York for the U.N. General Assembly was assaulted on the street."  CNN notes today that "since 2004 the United States has considered the group, which has lived for more than 25 years at a refugee camp in Iraq, 'noncombatants' and 'protected persons' under the Geneva Conventions."  So if the Three Faces of Eve had objections to changing the status of the MEK, they should have made time to propose how to address the issues of the Camp Ashraf residents.  It's not as though, for example, hasn't spent years savaging the MEK.  If they had a way to address the legal obligations to Camp Ashraf, they should have proposed it. 
Today was another deadly day in Iraq.  Alsumaria reports  Sheikh Mohammed Hussein Ahmed was shot dead south of Kirkuk.  All Iraq News reporting 1 police officer shot dead in Falluja and that a Tikrit car bombing left two people injured.
Yesterday's violence included the assault on the Tirkit prison which left prisoners and guards dead and wounded.  Mohammed Lazim (CNN) notes, "The attackers wore police uniforms and used cars similar to those driven by police, a police source told the National Iraqi News Agency."  BBC offers, "The raid appeared to be well co-ordinated between the gunmen and some of the inmates, the BBC's Rami Ruhayem in Baghdad reports."  Possibly well coordinated with others?  Ayad al-Tamimi (Al Mada) reports that accusations are flying insisting that the police chief of the province received warnings -- "warnings," three -- ahead of the attack but that the warnings were ignored. The Saudi Gazette adds, "And a traffic police lieutenant colonel who was near the scene of the attack said militants blew up part of the prison fence, and between 30 and 40 inmates were able to escape. A police colonel said a riot broke out in the prison, while witnesses said inmates seized the guards' weapons, and that more than 100 of them escaped and fought security forces in the surrounding area." Not only did a number of prisoners escape but Radio New Zealand and Alsumaria report that they were smart enough to grab their own files and, as a result, there are no records on them.   Apparently Iraq is an oil-rich country that's not worried about going green or paperless since all files are apparently paper.  
Those reporting this morning on the violence were hard pressed to nail down the numbres as various officials gave various figures.   Sameer N. Yacoub (AP) cited Raed Ibrahim ("health official") for a death toll of 10 prison guards and 2 prisoners with thirty-two injured and cites politician Qutaiba al-Jubouri as the source of 81 prisoners escaping with 36 of them being captured after escape. UPI stated that 14 died in the assault and, citing Salaheddin Province Governor Ahmed Abdallah al-Jabouri said 33 escaped prisoners had been captured.  Tang Danlu (Xinhua) offered 15 dead and forty-five injured and the source is the police who also state 200 prisoners escaped and that 81 remain at large.  Hassan Obeidi (AFP) noted, "A hospital official in Tikrit, the ancesestral home of now-executed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, said 13 police were killed and 34 wounded in the violence."  And Duraid Adnan and an unnamed stringer in Tikrit (New York Times) were the only ones this morning to note  the death penalty aspect by quoting Tikrit's head of security, Muhammad Hassan, stating, "They were sentenced to death, so they were ready to do anything to escape." Kuwait's KUNA notes, "The mass breakout started as the security services began transferring 40 convicts on the death roll fromt he jail to a Baghdad jail."

The death penalty aspect is not a minor issue.  It's what fuels support for the attacks on prisons in Iraq.  Ali A. Nabhan and Sam Dagher (Wall St. Journal) reported this afternoon:
Frustration among Iraqi Sunnis with what they regard as the government's sectarian bias has colored parliamentary deliberations over a controversial amnesty law, which if passed could see thousands of prisoners freed for the sake of furthering national reconciliation.
On Thursday, a Shiite parliamentary bloc that had adopted the bill withdrew it from voting after failing to agree on whether those convicted under a terrorism law known as Article Four should be considered for amnesty as advocated by Sunni lawmakers.
[. . .]
Many of those held at the Tikrit prison were on death row and were scheduled for transfer to Baghdad to carry out their sentences, said Mr. [Mishaan al-]Jubouri [, former MP],  and other officials in the province.
Good for the Wall St. Journal for being the only English language publication to address what's going on.  The Iraqi press can and does address it.  By English language outlets refusing to do the same they're encouraging the confusion many Americans encounter when they learn of the armed conflict between the PKK and the Turkish government today. 
As the numbers make clear, it's not a surprising issue.  The US Census Bureaus says the US population is 311.5 million.  Iraq's population is about one-tenth of that.  (28 to 31 million is the usual estimate -- they haven't had a census since the middle-stages of Saddam Hussein's rule; the CIA estimates its 31.1. million while the World Bank goes for 32.9 million).  So with Iraq being one-tenth of the population, let's now look at the execution rates because both countries ignorantly continue to use the death penalty.

Doug Craig ( reported at the start of this month that there were 27 executions in the US so far this year.  That's 27 too many and you can be sure the number will be much greater by the end of the year.  Iraq, by contrast, has executed at least 96 people so far this year with another 200 scheduled for execution.

With one-tenth of the population the US has, they've already executed over three times as many people this year.  At the end of last month, Human Rights Watch noted of Iraq's executions:

Authorities said that all had been convicted on charges "related to terrorism," but provided little information about what crimes they had committed. 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."

This comes as mass arrests continue -- yesterday there were 78 mass arrests (that does not count recaptured prisoners).  In a country where mass arrests take place daily, where the arrested (some innocent, some guilty) disappear into a system that makes it impossible for most families to find their loved ones, where the judicial system is a joke, where even get a trial make take years, you've created an environment where people can feel sympathetic to the Islamic State of Iraq's actions.  They can imagine it's them and not the person down the street, especially since the mass arrests have not only taken place for years now in Iraq but they continue.   
Alsumaria reports the spokesperson for the Sadr bloc in Parliament, Mushriq Naji, is pointing out that yesterday's assault and escape is what happens when corruption reigns and the institutions of reform fail and he specifically notes the faliure of the Parliament to pass the amnesty law.  All Iraq News adds that there is a demand to reform state institutions immediately.  The National Alliance line comes from one of their MPs who insists that political parlies helped with the prison break and this is an attempt to provide pressure to pass the amnesty law.  Al Mada notes Ahmed Chalabi is calling for MPs to propose amendments to the amnesty law to address whatever concerns they have.  This is most likely aimed at State of Law since they've been the biggest obstacle to the passage of an amnesty law.

The prison assault was part of yesterday's violence, it was not the only violence.  A number of Iraqi outlets are focusing on the assassination of former Basra Governor (2005 - 2009)  Hussein al-Asadi.  Alsumaria reports that MP Hussein al-Asadi, from Basra, states that the assassination is proof of how weak the security remains in Iraq.   He notes an increase in recent bombings and called on Nouri al-Maliki and the Ministry of the Interior to make changes immediately.  Dar Addustour covers the assassination hereAlsumaria notes the Ministry of the Interior has announced the formation of three committees to examine the assassination.  Prior to that announcement, the Islamic Virtue Party (political party) was calling for an investigation to be startedAll Iraq News notes that MP Hussein al-Asadi is insisting that the fault for the assassination lies with the Barra police. Alsumaria adds that MP Shawn Mohammed Taha is calling for the security leaders in the Iraqi government to be changed.  What he should bbe noting is that Nouri al-Maliki has refused to nominate heads of the security ministries making him the de facto head of the Ministry of the Defense, the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of National Security. 

Yesterday, Parliament was in session.  They were to vote on bills regarding a line of credit, infrastructure and amnesty.  Over infrastructure,  members of Iraqiya and the Kurdish Alliance walked out.  Deprived of a quorum, the session ended.  Al Mada notes that State of Law is now accusing Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi of blocking the infrastructure law.  While al-Nujaifi is a member of Iraqiya, he has not taken part in any of their walk-outs, including the first day of the current Parliament back in 2010.  Since he didn't walk out and since he's scheduled the infrastructure bill for a Monday vote, State of Law's latest attempt to uncork the crazy falls flat and then some.  In the meantime, Al Mada notes, Parliament is denying that they have a draft law for compulsory service in the Iraqi military.
Iraq has had two political stalemates since the March 2010 elections.  Immediately after the elections, when Nouri al-Maliki's political slate State of Law came in second to Ayad Allawi's Iraqiya, Nouri caused the first stalemate by refusing to allow the Constitution to be followed (the results meant that Allawi's group should get named prime minister-designate and be given 30 days to form a Cabinet or someone else would be named prime minister-designate).  Nouri refused to allow the process to take place.  This created an eight month political stalemate.  Nouri was able to create this because he had the backing of the US White House.  In November 2010, the stalemate was finally ended as a result of a contract the US government brokered.  This contract, the Erbil Agreement, found the political blocs agreeing that Nouri could have a second term as prime minister provided he meet certain agreements -- implement Article 140 of the Constitution, create an independent national security council, etc.  Nouri used the agreement to become prime minister and then trashed the agreement  Since the summer of 2011, the Kurds, Iraqiya and Moqtada al-Sadr have been publicly calling for the Erbil Agreement to be followed.  This is the beginning of political stalemate II which is ongoing. 
Right now, hopes are pinned on a national conference.  Supposedly, it will be able to resolve the political stalemate that has transitioned into a political crisis.  Al Mada reports that Iraqiya would be represented in the talks by Allawi; however, 'would be.'  The paper notes many are starting to doubt a national conference will actually take place.  Nouri has opposed it from the start, it was first proposed December 21st -- by Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi and Iraqi President Jalal Talabani.
On the topic of Nouri and politics, Joel Wing (AKnews) examines Iraq and Nouri's Dawa political party:
In 2011, the Women's Affairs Ministry attempted to institute a dress code for female public workers. The order came from the Higher National Committee for the Advancement of Iraqi Women who demanded that women working for the government wear "moderate dress" in September 2011. The committee was under the Women's Affairs Minister Ibtihal al-Zaidi of the Dawa Party. One committee member said that the ruling came as a result of public workers not dressing according to Islamic traditions. The Planning and the Higher Education Ministries, which were run by the Sadrists and State of Law respectively read the rules to all their female employees. Other ministries run by other parties did not comply. Again, this was an instance where Dawa members were acting against what they saw as violations of their interpretation of religion. Iraqi public workers wear all types of dress from traditional to Western. Some members of the Women's Affairs Ministry were getting offended by the latter, and attempted to put an end to it. The fact that Iraq has a divided government with different parties controlling different ministries also showed the limited power the Dawa actually had over the matter. Those ministers with Islamist leanings attempted to enforce the ruling, but others who were either non-religious or opposed to Maliki, ignored it. That highlighted the unwillingness of Maliki and Dawa to go beyond those jurisdictions that they had direct control over.
The latest example of Islamist inspired action was far more violent. In 2012, there were reports that anywhere from six to forty emos and gays were murdered in Baghdad. This came after the Interior Ministry posted a statement on its website calling emos Devil worshippers in February. The Ministry then called for a police crackdown, while at the same time claiming that any deaths were being made up by the media. Stories emerged that Shiite militants were handing out lists of people they were going to kill. In March, Human Rights Watch blamed the government for the attacks, which was later substantiated by a BBC investigation. The BBC found that the Interior Ministry statement about emos being Satanists led to a concerted and covert campaign to murder gays and emos in the capital by members of the security forces. While Adnan Asadi is the deputy Interior Minister, he was appointed by Prime Minister Maliki in 2011, who is still the acting Interior Minister. Like the alcohol banning, this appears to be an instance where the premier has used the security forces to go after those he feels are in violation of his image of what an Islamic society should be like. Unlike those earlier events however, this one has led to several deaths, which will go unpunished since they are at the behest of the central government. At the same time, this again shows that Maliki and Dawa have only felt comfortable imposing their views on a limited scale, only going after emos and homosexuals in certain districts of Baghdad, rather than the whole city, other provinces or the entire country.
Via videolink from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, WikiLeaks' Julian Assange spoke to the United Nations General Assembly.  The Voice of Russia has the video.
Julian Assange:  Today I want to tell you an American story. I want to tell you the story of a young American soldier in Iraq. The soldier was born in Crescent, Oklahoma, to a Welsh mother and to a U.S. Navy father. His parents fell in love. His father was stationed at the U.S. military base in Wales. The soldier showed early promise as a boy, winning top prizes at science fairs three years in a row. He believed in the truth, and like all of us, he hated hypocrisy. He believed in liberty and the right for all of us to pursue it and happiness. He believed in the values that founded an independent United States. He believed in Madison, he believed in Jefferson, and he believed in Paine. Like many teenagers, he was unsure what to do with his life, but he knew he wanted to defend his country, and he knew he wanted to learn about the world. He entered the U.S. military and, like his father, trained as an intelligence analyst. In late 2009, age 21, he was deployed to Iraq. There, it is alleged, he saw a U.S. military that did not often follow the rule of law and, in fact, engaged in murder and supported political corruption. It is alleged it was there, in Baghdad, in 2010 that he gave to WikiLeaks, he gave to me, and, it is alleged, he gave to the world, details that exposed the torture of Iraqis, the murder of journalists and the detailed records of over 120,000 civilian killings in Iraq and in Afghanistan. He is also alleged to have given WikiLeaks 251,000 U.S. diplomatic cables, which then went on to help trigger the Arab Spring. This young soldier's name is Bradley Manning.

Monday April 5, 2010, WikiLeaks released US military video of a July 12, 2007 assault in Iraq. 12 people were killed in the assault including two Reuters journalists Namie Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh. Monday June 7, 2010, the US military announced that they had arrested Bradley Manning and he stood accused of being the leaker of the video. Leila Fadel (Washington Post) reported in August 2010 that Manning had been charged -- "two charges under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The first encompasses four counts of violating Army regulations by transferring classified information to his personal computer between November and May and adding unauthorized software to a classified computer system. The second comprises eight counts of violating federal laws governing the handling of classified information." In March, 2011, David S. Cloud (Los Angeles Times) reported that the military has added 22 additional counts to the charges including one that could be seen as "aiding the enemy" which could result in the death penalty if convicted. The Article 32 hearing took place in December.  At the start of this year, there was an Article 32 hearing and, February 3rd, it was announced that the government would be moving forward with a court-martial.  Bradley has yet to enter a plea and has neither affirmed that he is the leaker nor denied it.  The court-martial was supposed to begin this month has been postponed until after the election . 
On 19 September 2012, the Defense filed its Motion to Dismiss All Charges and Specifications With Prejudice for Lack of a Speedy Trial. PFC Manning has been in pretrial confinement since 29 May 2010. As of the date of the filing of this motion, PFC Manning had been in pretrial confinement for 845 days. To put this amount of time into perspecive, it took only 410 days to construct the Empire State Building.   By the time the Government actually brings PFC Manning to trial in February of 2013 (983 days after he was placed into pretrial confinement), the Empire State Building could have been constructed almost three times over.
On 29 October 2012, the Defense will argue that the military judge should dismiss this case with prejudice due to the Government's abject failure to honor PFC Manning's fundamental speedy trial rights.
During August, among active-duty soldiers, there were 16 potential suicides: three have been confirmed as suicides and 13 remain under investigation.  For July, the Army reported 26 potential suicides among active-duty soldiers:
The Green Party presidential candidate is Jill Stein.  Her campaign notes:
Despite the Democrat and Republican candidates' near silence on the issue, climate change is happening, the impacts are getting more severe, and it's not something we can choose to ignore.

Join us online this Sunday, September 30th at 4pmPST/7pmEST to hear how Jill Stein's Green New Deal would curb climate change and transition the United States to a sustainable economy. 
  • Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein
  • Colin Beavan, aka No Impact Man, Green Party Candidate for Congress, will moderate the event
  • Bill McKibben, author and climate change expert, will offer scientific, non-partisan background on the issue
Here's how to participate in the event:
  • Click here on Sunday 9/30 at 4pmPST/7pmEST. (Yes, it's that easy!)
  • Host a house party! (Of course, this is optional, but we'd be grateful if you chose to!) Have a little BBQ with neighbors and friends and watch the event together. If you and your guests are impressed with what you learn about the vision of the campaign, collect donations to help that dream become reality!
  • Join the conversation online! Use the hashtag #ClimateTownHall to share your thoughts and questions with us on Twitter. Post comments on our Facebook wall, as well as your own (be sure to tag our page).
Have a question you'd like Jill to answer? You can submit questions both before and during the event in the following ways:
  • Tweet your question using the hashtag #ClimateTownHall
  • Post your question on our Facebook wall. (Please still tag it #ClimateTownHall, so we know it's related to this event.)
  • Share your question with us on Google+ (again, using the hashtag above).
  • Submit your question during the event on LiveStream.
And, here's how to help us demand action now!

This event is just one part of an entire day of action. The Green Party is urging local supporters to organize events (or issue a release) in your community to highlight our demand that the US take action now on climate change. The Green Party of NY has drafted a 
Green Climate Change Model Media Release and Green Climate Change Action Plan you can use for local releases, news conferences, and media events.

The Republicans are climate change deniers, the Democrats are climate change evaders. Contact or visit the Green Party of New York State website for more information.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Jill Stein, the election, Trouble

Thursday, one more day to the weekend.  And I am one tired Daddy.  Thursdays is when Elaine does her veterans group session and that means it's me with our daughter.  I was thinking that I was the problem and I was just trying to pack too much into our Thursday nights.  Wrong.

She is actually extra energetic on Thursday nights.  We go to Elaine's office and eat dinner with her after her last session and before group therapy starts.  Then we head on home.  And Elaine's been telling me that our daughter was extra active on Thursdays.  I think it's because she knows that on Thursdays, she gets whatever she wants.  It's just me.  So I'm not going, "Okay, well we'll do that this weekend."  Or, "Now that toy is up in the closet and we're not getting it down and messing up your room."  On Thursday, she wants a toy, I get it down from the closet.  (She has a toy box but she has too many toys for that so some are up on the top shelf in her closet. And she picked the ones to put up there.)  Of if she wants Clue or what's the game that I pop the dice.  Trouble?  Where you move the people around the board that's like a stop sign and in the middle is a bubble over dice and you press down on the bubble to roll the dice?

She loves that game.  My dad gave her the one we used to play as kids and she just loves it.

So I warned you before anything, I'm tired.

Patrick Martin (WSWS) reports:

The Obama campaign events in Ohio focused almost entirely on the bailout of the auto industry, which the Democratic candidate portrayed as a great boon to the working class, without mentioning that it was based on slashing wages by 50 percent for new-hires and robbing retired workers of health and pension benefits they earned in the course of decades of hard manual labor.
He's so dishonest, going around the country acting like the friend of workers.  He's not.  And what really chaps my ass is that he will not mention poverty.  Jill Stein really is the only candidate willing to talk about poverty in America.  We even noted that at Third on Sunday with "The presidential campaign unafraid to talk about poverty."

Jill Stein's a pretty cool candidate.  If you haven't checked out her campaign or heard about her, you might not know that.

She's the presidential candidate for the Green Party.  She's a doctor.  She's against empire wars.  She's for real universal, single-payer health care.  She believes that Green jobs will revive the economy and that the Constitution isn't to be trashed.  She wants to focus on the issues that matter and not do the business and bidding of the corporations.

I really liked this that her campaign posted about how voting for what you believe in is not wasting your vote:

Though, if you prefer to see America continue on its current path, a vote for Green Party Candidate, Dr. Jill Stein, would be a wasted vote.
Holding both parties accountable for 30 years of this country's largest transfer of wealth to the rich means coming to terms with the fact that neither are in a position to solve the challenges we face. While some partisan Democrats are once again claiming that a vote for the Greens is a vote for the Republicans, that argument falls flat with millions of disenfranchised voters who believe we can do better. These are Americans who believe we must stop our descent into economic disparity, the erosion of our civil liberties, and the corruption of our political system by corporate power and massive wealth. They are Americans who understand the Democratic Party has been complacent, if not complicit, in this process and is now, as evidenced by an administration that has kept the policies of George W. Bush largely in place, institutionally incapable of any real reform.
The fact is, political parties change over time, so why shouldn't our votes change as well?

This is not the Democracy the revolutionaries of 1776 envisioned. They had just lived through a long, bloody war to throw off the shackles of an oppressive regime that had denied them rights and representation while pillaging their resources and their labor. It was not their intention that we live under a duopoly political system where a tiny handful of people control the pursestrings and allegiances of both parties.

Votes aren't being stolen, they are being bought.
Hundreds of millions of dollars from a small group of individuals are being spent by the two establishment parties to control the national conversation and convince Americans they have a clear choice. That sum of money and their record provide clarity enough. It is not a choice, it is maintenance of the status quo. It is a further grab for power by those who are threatened by recent cracks in the national conversation opening to issues of money and politics, the polarization of wealth, ecological responsibility, and the preservation of civil liberties.

The choice to be made is: Do we wish to be truly represented? Do we need to set a new course as a country? Do we need a real opposition party immediately capable of new ideas and energy, that isn't subject to the approval of the most rich and powerful?

Evil vs. Eviler.
Choosing the lesser of two evils keeps things exactly as they are. Fear tactics have worked well in the past to keep party stragglers and independent voters in check. But today's America is not the the America of 2000. We've seen first hand that the lesser of two evils isn't lesser at all. Arguably, it is worse because we are encouraged to hope against history, yet the outcome is the same.
If Democratic operatives were only concerned with the 2012 election results, they would not be aggressively fighting to keep people from voting Green in states like New York, California, Oregon, Minnesota, Illinois, Massachusetts, and many more, that have absolutely no chance of going GOP due to the Electoral College system. These tired tactics and failed arguments of the two dominating parties are beginning to be seen for what they are: the last remnants of a fear-based political landscape that is changing.

The election IS spoiled, but not by the Greens.
Even though the Republican and Democratic Parties were once third parties themselves, they have shored up the political system to keep third parties out. This battle continues over the issue of the presidential debates. Neither of the establishment candidates wishes to share to stage with a candidate like Dr. Stein who freely speaks truth to power - a candidate who stands on a platform of building a sustainable economy and creating a future that puts the dignity of Americans ahead of corporate interests.

Including Dr. Stein in the debates would do something unthinkable to the Democrats and Republican candidates: show them as two peas from the same, spoiled, pod. An alternative voice is urgently needed and Dr. Stein's deserves to be heard.
Vote what you believe.
A simple enough statement. If we all found the courage to do so, we would begin to rebuild the country we deserve instead of settling for what gets left behind.

The Green Party and our 2004 presidential nominee made the Ohio Recount possible. If not for the continued determination of elected Greens, we would not have municipal sick leave or minimum wage and living wage policies in cities across the country. There would be no movement to amend the Constitution to overturn the Citizens United ruling and end the toxic influence of money in our political system. The cause of equal marriage rights would not be as far along as it is (because of Green mayors and mayoral candidates defying anti-marriage laws in CA and NY). And the 100s of cities that passed anti-war and anti-PATRIOT Act resolutions would likely have been many fewer, since those efforts were also led by Green elected officials.
Meanwhile the establishment parties try to avoid our discontent by changing the subject from the real problems we face, and making elections all about preventing the other party from winning. In a way, the Democrats and Republicans are each correct. Either one of them winning would mean more of the same for America: maintaining a status quo that continues to ruin what is best about the United States.
The Green Party and the Green New Deal will shatter the status quo by addressing the real economic, social, and political challenges we face at their root causes with specific and already proven solutions. Vote for Jill Stein for President. Give a mandate for the Green New Deal. 
Join us and come be part of the solution. We are all in this together.

Jill Stein's smart.  She bested Romney in the debates for governor in my state.  She could be that incredible on the stage next month.  But Barack and Mitt are two scared little boys who won't debate a woman because they know she'd kick their ass.

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

Thursday, September 27, 2012.  Chaos and violence continue, Barack continues to campaign on taking 'all' troops out of Iraq, the White House continues to negotiate with the Iraqi government to send US troops back into Iraq, Nouri's targeting Iraqi activists, the amnesty bill didn't get passed today despite all the promises, assailants target an Iraqi prison, and more.
Starting in the US, Mark Halperin (Time magazine -- link is video and text) notes US President Barack Obama's latest re-election ad today.  As usual, Barack praised himself for Iraq.   It's rare that Barack doesn't mention Iraq.  September 8th found him delivering a weekly address and stating, "We've ended the war in Iraq and brought our troops home."  Iraq's in shambles, at best, and yet Barack can't stop mentioning it in speeches and the press can't stop whoring for him -- like Scott Horsley who declared at the start of the month on Morning Edition (NPR), "There are no more US troops in Iraq."  The same media that wants to fact check Mitt Romney willingly lies for Barack.  And it works on a number of people, these lies.
Yesterday afternoon,  Joe Hamilton explains to the Muskegon Chronicle editors why he's supporting Barack, "But I'd maintain that if the only thing that Barack Obama accomplished in foreign policy during his entire time in office was the end of U.S. military involvement in Iraq, then that alone makes his presidency significant, historic and well worth voting for.  Yesterday  Jack Burgess (Ironton Tribune) explained, "He's brought the troops home from Iraq on schedule, in spite of pressures from some in the military and Republicans such as Sen. John McCain, his opponent in 2008, who said he didn't care if our troops remained there for 100 years."  Last week, Tonja Adams insisted to the Wisconsin State Journal, "Thankfully, President Barack Obama brought our troops home from Iraq and will bring more home from Afghanistan in 2014."
People believe it.  It was never true.  Yes, 15,000 US troops remain in Kuwait right there on the border of Iraq and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee wants them there for years but will allow them to drop to 13,000 in number -- see their  [PDF format warning] "The Gulf Security Architecture: Partnership With The Gulf Co-Operation Council" released last June and pay attention to this:
Currently, there are approximately 15,000 U.S. forces in Kuwait, but the number is likely to decrease to 13,500. Kuwaiti bases such as Camp Arifjan, Ali Al Salem Air Field, and Camp Buehring offer the United States major staging hubs, training rages, and logistical support for regional operations. U.S. forces also operate Patriot missile batteries in Kuwait, which are vital to theater missile defense.
In addition, last December, for NBC's Rock Center with Brian Williams, Ted Koppel addressed the US presence after what Barack called a "withdrawal" but the Defense Dept called a "drawdown" (the terms have different meanings):

MR. KOPPEL: I realize you can't go into it in any detail, but I would assume that there is a healthy CIA mission here. I would assume that JSOC may still be active in this country, the joint special operations. You've got FBI here. You've got DEA here. Can, can you give me sort of a, a menu of, of who all falls under your control?

AMB. JAMES JEFFREY: You're actually doing pretty well, were I authorized to talk about half of this stuff.
The media just doesn't like that truth.  They prefer the lie that everyone came home. 
And now they prefer not to talk about what's taking place between Iraq and the United States right now: Discussions between the two governments to get US troops back on the ground in Iraq.  In exchange for allowing US troops back into Iraq in significant numbers, Al Rafidayn reports, the Iraqi government will get many things including weapons which can shoot down any thing entering Iraq's air space.  You may remember that Iraq has airspace issues.  And even the Iraqis currently in the US training to fly in Iraqi skies are not going to change that.  2014 was the 'hoped for' date when bandied around by the Bush administration as when Iraq could patrol their own skies.

For details on the negotiations, Al Rafidayn cites an MP and the New York Times, Tim Arango's article, which contained this: "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."  Though Tom Hayden wrote six paragraphs for The Nation about Arango's article he only focused on one sentence ("At the request of the Iraqi government, according to General [Robert] Caslen, a unit of Army Special Operations soldiers was recently deployed to Iraq to advise on counterterrorism and help with intelligence.").  He ignored the sentence that preceded that in Arango's article: "Iraq and the United States are negotiating an agreement that could result int he return of small units of American soldiers to Iraq on training missions." 
When you've built your campaign on 'ending' al Qaeda (by US forces killing Osama bin Laden) and yet al Qaeda most likely was behind the September 11, 2012 attack on the US Consulate in Libya, that false claim to have brought all the troops home from Iraq and ended the US military involvement, seems like it's a major news story, a very big story, that the US government is negotiating with the Iraqi government to redeploy troops into Iraq.
 but forgot to inform readers that Barack was in talks to send significant numbers of US troops back into Iraq. 

The return of US troops, Al Rafidayn reports, is wanted by the White House in part because Iraq has been unable to stop Iranian flights to Syria.  In addition, they want it due to fears that, in the words of Sheikh Hamid al-Hayes, that rebel fighters are grouping in units with al Qaeda in Mesopotamia. 
Alsumaria reports that the former governor of Basra, Mohammed Misbah Waili, was assassinated today (the firearm had a silencer).  The latest day's violence includes a prison attack BBC News reports assailants using bombs and guns attacked a Tikrit prison.  AFP quotes a police Lieutenant Colonel stating, "A suicide bomber targeted the gate of the prison with a car bomb and gunment then assaulted the prison, after which they killed guards" and a police Colonel stating, "The prisoners killed one policeman and wounded (prison director) Brigadier General Laith al-Sagmani, the gunmen took control of the prison, and clashes are continuing."  Kitabat states two car bombs were used to blow up the entrance to the prison and gain access and they also state 12 guards have been killed. Reports note the riot is continuing.  Alsumaria reports four guards have died, 1 police officer and the injured include two soldiers and the prison director al-Sagmani.  There's confusion as to whether a number of prisoners were able to escape in the early stages after the bombing and during gunfire.  Reuters goes with "dozens" escaping which is probably smarter than the hard number some are repeating. Mu Xuequan (Xinhua) reports 5 police officers killed and another two injured -- the numbers are going to vary until tomorrow, this is ongoing -- and state over 200 prisoners escaped with 33 of them already having been recaptured.  If you skip the English language media, what's not confusing is why it happened and why it was able to happen.   Alsumaria reports that there are approximately 900 inmates in the prison and that many have death sentences.  Alsumaria does even more than that.  It notes the recent prison violence throughout the country and ties it into the death sentences.  These aren't just happening at random, this is about the many people being sentenced to death -- a fact the English language press either doesn't know or doesn't think people need to know.
When prisoners escape, as some have, without being caught, it makes a lot of sense when you grasp that they are seen as persecuted.  They're not the deadly evil suddenly let loose and roaming through a town that's going to cause people to pick up the phones and call the authorities.  These are people that many Iraqis feel didn't get a fair trial or received an unduly harsh sentence.  The refusal for this part of the story to be reported goes a long way towards explaining the confusion over what's been taking place in Iraq for months with these increased attacks on prisons.
Already the English-language press is obsessed with the Islamic State of Iraq -- a violent group that may be responsible.  And they may be. July 22nd, the Islamic State of Iraq released an audio recording announcing a new campaign of violence entitled Breaking The Walls which would include prison breaks and killing "judges and investigators and their guards."  (They also threatened to attack America on US soil.)  They've had great success since then in launching deadly attacks.  And one of the reasons for their success is Nouri al-Maliki.  The Islamic State of Iraq is using violence which appalls many Iraqis but for reasons that a number of Iraqis can identify with. 
Nouri created this.  Nouri's the reason it thrives.  Again, the English-speaking press has ignored it but there have been mass arrests all month.  Alsumaria reports 17 arrested today for 'terrorism' just south of Baghdad, another 17 arrested in Nineveh Province and another 44 in Kirkuk -- while in Diyala Province, the federal forces are said to be out of control but they insist that they have not seized control of residential areas and that they are not putting up barriers as part of their security measures or 'security measures.'  Mass arrests create a climate in which the Islamic State of Iraq's actions can garner sympathy.  You may be lucky and it didn't happen to anyone in your family but, down the street, it happened to one of your neighbors and the thing about mass arrests is that they (rightly) create distrust in the government.  And they create sympathy for responses like the Islamic State of Iraq.   You see and overhear plotting and planning, in a stable society you might call the police.  In Nouri's Iraq, you instead understand the motives and you may not take part in violence yourself but your attitude is you're not going to stop it.
This is on Nouri.   Dropping back to August 16th:
Saturday, Al Mada noted that Iraqiya is calling for Nouri to release the imprisoned who have not been found guilty and to do so in the spirit of the holy month of Ramadan.  This follows Imam Mahmoud al-Issawi's call during Friday prayers for the government to release the detainees being held who have not been found guilty.  In the 2011 protests that took place throughout Iraq, this was a repeated demand and Nouri led people to believe in February 2011 that his 100 days (give him 100 days and he'll fix everything!) would result in this.  It never did.  And he's been silent in the face of the calls from Imam Mahmoud al-Issawi and Iraqiya.  Today Alsumaria reports that Nineveh Governor Ethel al-Nujaifi announced the release of 18 detainees.  al-Nujaifi, the brother of Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi, may have especially enjoyed making that announcement when Nouri has no similar announcement to make.  The two are political rivals and back before Nouri spent all his days trying to hold onto his post of prime minister, he repeatedly attempted to force al-Nujaifi to step down as governor. 
Not only has Nouri resisted such calls, his political slate State of Law is the one that's repeatedly thrown up road blocks in Parliament when it comes to the still not passed amnesty law.
All Iraq News notes the Parliament met today to vote on a number of bills including a bill about credit, a bill abaout infrastructure and a proposed amnesty law.  So determined is State of Law to block the law that they're willing to spread rumors about Nouri's new bestie Saleh al-Mutlaq.  Ayad al-Tamimi (Al Mada) reports that the morning found Deputy Prime Minister al-Mutlaq (a member of Iraqiya -- at least in name) denying charges from State of Law that he was making back door deals to get the amnesty bill passed.  All Iraq News adds that the vote on the amnesty bill was only scheduled for today due to demands from Moqtada al-Sadr and his bloc.
The amnesty bill did not get passed today.  As noted September 25th, "How bad are things in Iraq?  They need an infrastructure law to authorize spending but . . .  Ayad al-Tamimi (Al Mada) reports that there are MPs -- including Moqtada al-Sadr's bloc -- that want additional guidelines written in because they see it as likely that Nouri could use the $40 billion to grab even more power and to militarize Iraqi society.  Things are so bad that members of Parliament have to attempt to write into the infrastructure budget guidelines to prevent Little Saddam from misusing the money in his effort to grab even more power."  Mustafa Habib (Niqash) explains a variety of objections to the bill with two MPs going on the record but it's this last objection, that no one wants to own up to, that's the real issue:
And behind the scenes, further reasons were given for the antipathy being directed at a legislation the country really seems to need badly: the upcoming elections. Al-Maliki is not a popular man – a large group of MPs have recently tried to oust him from his position. And with upcoming elections, they're worried that his main motivation with a law like this – which relates to many things that the Iraqi voters need and want – is to increase his own popularity with electors, without concern for consequences.
And it was the infrastructure bill that ended the possibility of votes today.  Alsumaria reports that Iraqiya and the Kurdistan Alliance walked out of the session to protest the infrastructure bill.  This left the Parliament without a quorum and business came to a halt.  All Iraq News notes that the payment on credit bill is now scheduled to be voted on Monday.  And the infrastructure and the amnesty bills?  Kitabat reports that they are now the victims of political differences with them postponed until a currently unscheduled day. 
And why should anyone trust Nouri al-Maliki?

Al Mada reports on the concentrated efforts to arrest Facebook activists who took part in the Friday protests that swept Iraq in 2011.   A lot of people don't know about those protests because the White House didn't want you to and a lot of 'news' outlets worked overtime to minimize the story (take your bow, New York Times -- you attacked the protesters -- the ones who were beaten and kidnapped by Nouri's forces, what a proud moment for the paper) or just ignore it (most major dailies not named the Washington Post, most US broadcast outlets who aren't CNN or NPR).

Nouri was the White House's . . . Well, not friend.  You invite friends into your home.  And Barack wouldn't leave the campaign trail this week to meet with Nouri in NYC which is why Nouri cancelled his trip and planned address to the UN on Saturday.  Nouri was the White House's best bet -- according to foreign policy nitwit posing as a guru Samantha Power.  And so the White House didn't just demand a second term for Nouri despite the poor showing for State of Law in the 2010 elections (defeated by the brand new Iraqiya despite Nouri and his goons refusing to allow certain Iraqiya candidates to run for election, despite the targeting and murders of some members of Iraqiya in the weeks leading up to the elections, despite Nouri's non-stop speeches telling Iraqis that Iraqiya was a band of terrorists), they went so far as to negotiate a contract, the Erbil Agreement, assuring the political blocs it was not only legal, it was legally binding.  Even more importantly, they promised the Kurds and others that this US-brokered contract had the backing of the US government meaning it would be followed.  The White House gave the word of the US government.  And then Nouri used it to become prime minister and tossed aside all the points in the contract he agreed to for that second term (such as the creation of an independent national security commission, finally implementing Article 140 of the Constitution which was supposed to take place in 2007, etc.)/  And all the promises the US government made?  Amnesia on the part of the White House as the political blocs have demanded that the Erbil Agreement be honored.

So when you're Nouri, hoping to ride it out through 2014 when, right now, you plan to run for a third term, you launch one power grab after another.  In the US, for example, Barack Obama is President.  Secretary of Defense is Leon Panetta.  In Iraq, Nouri is prime minister.  And Minister of the Defense.  And Minister of the Interior so he's over the police.  And Minister of National Security.  He was supposed to nominate people to those positions and they were supposed to be approved by Parliament.  If he wasn't able to do that in 30 days, per the Constitution, he not only didn't advance from prime minister-designate to prime minister, someone else was namded prime minister-designate and given 30 days to put together a Cabinet.
The White House could protect him to a degree.  Not from the 2011 protests.  They could only encourage the press not to cover them, not protect Nouri from them. Iraq was only one part of the region facing protests.  And in some countries, the protests were toppeling leaders.  Nouri was scared.

He announced he would not seek a second term.  Then the promise was taken back less than 24 hours later, since then not only has his attorney announced that he can seek a third term, it's been announced a third term would be best for Iraq.

Here's how Press In My Pocket works when you're a US puppet.  All outlets report that you won't seek a second term.  They then write editorials about how great that is of you and how you're showing leadership and how wonderful you are.  And those editorials appear after your spokesperson says you are not promising to seek a second term.  Not only does that not make the editorials, you don't report it.  Name the foreign wire service that reported it because it's a lot easier to name the only English language outlet that reported that then all the US outlets which refused to do so.

Afraid that he was going to be toppled and knowing that the press could amplify not just the protests but how deeply unpopular he was, Nouri didn't just put out that he wouldn't seek a third term, he also begged the Iraqi people to leave the streets and given him 100 days.  At the end of 100 days, he would have ended corruption, he would have addressed the lack of basic services, he would address unemployment, he would address the many who had 'disappeared' in the Iraqi 'justice' system.

Anyone who has watched Nouri closely since the US first installed him as prime minister in 2006 knows his modus operandi: Stall.  Promise anything and then stall.  Your opponents will grow weary, fighting for justice can be weary, and you just wait them out.

So Nouri did nothing to improve the lives of the Iraqi people which means it's time to round up those who might protest him again.  Al Mada speaks with young activists in Nineveh Province where arrrests have been non-stop and they tell the paper about how the crack down is targeting youth activists and bloggers.  In Mosul, the people talk about how these activists are arrested with no arrest warrants, how 'terrorist acts' are their protests actions on Facebook.  Since last Thursday, Nineveh Province Council Member Abdul Rahim al-Shammari explains, hundreds of people have been arbritrarily arrested who wonders where the arrest warrants are?  The arrests are by the Federal Police, not the province police.  The federal police are controlled by the Minister of the Interior.  Who's that again?

Oh, yeah, Nouri.  In his power grab, he seized control of the three security ministries.  Just two months ago,   Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) observed, "Shiite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has struggled to forge a lasting power-sharing agreement and has yet to fill key Cabinet positions, including the ministers of defense, interior and national security, while his backers have also shown signs of wobbling support." 

Ethel al-Nujaifi is the governor of the province and he tells Al Mada that the council of the province has decided -- all voting in agreement -- to launch an investigation into these arrests and the torture of the detainees.  He points out that neither the military nor the security forces are a judicial body and they have no rgith to torture.  In Baghdad, activists speak of how the security forces spy on them.  In Babylon, youth activists are being arrested.

In 2011, the press amplified Egypt while rendering Iraq invisible.  The Iraqi people thought it was only a matter of time before the international press paid attention.  Especially with all the attacks on journalists as well as activists. 

And the people who stood up for Iraq are being rounded up by Nouri's forces.  But don't expect the US press to do their job.  If they'd done it when it mattered, if in February 2011 or at any point since, the New York Times had reported the truth (I'm talking about reporters -- the editoral board has been much more truthful than the paper's reporters), Hadi al-Mahdi might not be dead.

But the silence from the US media and the lies from the New York Times (they chose to attack the protesters in print) contributed to Hadi's assassination.  Nouri knew the world wouldn't care if there was no spotlight on his actions.

And now Nouri goes after more Iraqis but, hey, it helps the White House and their negotiations to get US troops back into Iraq so the New York Times doesn't have time or space to cover what's happening to the youth activists (or any of Nouri's victims).
In what some spinner or fool will surely hail as 'progress,' Iraq's 9th commissioner to the one-time independent Electoral Commission was named today.  Alsumaria notes that Turkman Khan Kamal Ali was voted as the ninth member today.   It's not progress.  Even if the size of the commission is not increased -- as the Iraqi court says it must be -- you've still got Christians who feel they were betrayed and you've still got a commission that has no women on it.  Earlier this week, the United Nations Secretary-General's Special Representative in Iraq Martin Kobler made an idiot of himself attempting to find the positive.  But it was Kobler who, months earlier, was insisting women must be represented on the commission.  (The Iraqi court says that women must make up 1/3 of the commission.)
Iraq's Shi'ite Vice President addressed the United Nations General Assembly today.  We have limited space so we'll briefly note some of his remarks.
Vice President Khudier al-Khuzaie:  Our renewed ambition in building a modern state where the Iraqi people enjoy freedom, development and prosperity requires us to move towards the establishment of friendly and equal relations with all nations the world over, within a framework of a cooperative international system governed by clear rules that prevent problems and crises which undermine its prosperity and stability.  The new Iraq has made its choice by embarking on the path of cooperation and collaboration with the International community on the political, economic and development levels.  This has been coupled with significant leaps in our economic growth that will qualify Iraq to return to the space of world economy and merge within the international economic system based on a realistic vision that achieved a number of positive developments over the past years.  According to certain indicators, our Gross Domestic Product doubled which in turn doubled the per capita share of the GDP.  According to projections by the International Monetary Fund, GDP will reach about 150 billion dollars in 2014.  The Iraqi government also succeeded in implementing policies to curb inflation and to control government spending in addition to our success in collaborating with the International community to reduce the debt accumulated by Iraq in the past decades.
Still in the US, Senator Patty Murray is the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.  Her office notes:
Contact: Matt McAlvanah
(202) 224-2834
Mystery Republican Blocks Cost Of Living Adjustment for Disabled Veterans
Secret Republican hold on bill could prevent more money in disability benefits from going to millions of veterans
(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray, Chairman of the Senate Veteran's Affairs Committee, announced that an as yet unnamed Senate Republican has blocked a traditionally non-controversial bill that would provide over 3.9 million veterans and their survivors with a Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) for the benefits they receive. The COLA increase, which is designed to offset inflation and other factors that lead to the rising cost of living, was brought to the Senate floor by Senator Murray last Thursday. The bill was cleared by all Senate Democrats but was blocked by at least one Senate Republican that has not come forward to claim responsibility.
"This is stunning" said Senator Murray. "Particularly because we still don't have any indication why someone would block a cost-of-living adjustment for veterans and their surviving spouses, many of whom are struggling to make ends meet. This adjustment for our disabled veterans is hard earned and well deserved. My hope is that whichever Senator has decided to hold up this bill will at least come forward to own up to it. That way we can move forward to overcome their oppositions and get our veterans the support they need."
The Veterans COLA will affect several important benefits, including veterans' disability compensation and dependency and indemnity compensation for surviving spouses and children. The COLA rate will match the annual increase provided to Social Security recipients and is based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Price Index.
Matt McAlvanah
Communications Director
U.S. Senator Patty Murray
202-224-2834 - press office
202--224-0228 - direct