Saturday, August 13, 2011

4 women, 2 men

The first hour of The Diane Rehm Show Friday featured Naftali Bendavid, Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Susan Page. The second hour was Nadia Bilbassy, Yochi Dreazen and Courtney Kube. It was a rare Friday with 4 women and 2 men. Usually the six guests break down the other way, 2 women and 4 men.

Thursday I noted I was "hugely disappointed" by the second hour of Diane's show when the guest was Jane Fonda. (That goes to the hour.) Jane Fonda (goes to Jane's site) is an actress whose films I enjoy (between what Cedric brought in and what I did, I thnk we have every Jane Fonda film except Tall Story and Circle of Love) (Cedric's my husband). And of course I have admired her activism. But that interview disappointed me. I talked to C.I. after I posted and she hadn't listened to the interview but said, "I can cover it. Do you want me to?" I honestly wasn't trying to get her to address it but once she offered I took her up on it because I knew she'd do a much better job than I could.

And I really enjoyed reading "I Hate The War" with C.I. talking about acting and demons and, honestly, anytime your writing includes "Natalie Wood introduced me to" (Henry Fonda, for that sentence's sake) hooks me. At C.I.'s each summer, one of the things I always do is pull the photo albums off the shelves in the library and go through them. I do love seeing all the famous people, yes, but I also love seeing the photos C.I. took of various adventures and trips.

Back to Jane, I'm reading Prime Time right now and really enjoying it. I recommend it to everyone and I'm always asked what it reminds me of? Because a lot of people -- a lot, it was a big best seller -- read My Life So Far and wonder if this is another volume of autobiography or what?

The book it most reminds me of is Gloria Steinem's Revolution From Within. But it's also a little like a more advanced Women Coming of Age (a Fonda written book in the late 80s). C.I. and I were talking about it last night and we'd like to pair a section with a song by Melanie. I think it's a book that will have a lot of meaning for anyone who picks it up.


This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Friday, August 12, 2011. Chaos and violence continue, the US Army releases data on military suicides, Nouri and State Of Law object to something they previously agreed to (twice0, the AFL-CIO pulls a fake out, and more.
Starting with the Libyan War, Amnesty International issued the following this week:
NATO must take all necessary precautions to avoid civilian casualties during military operations, Amnesty International said today, after allegations by Libyan officials loyal to Colonel Mu'ammar al-Gaddafi that 85 people were killed during an air strike on Monday night.
The organization called on NATO to thoroughly investigate allegations of the deaths of unarmed civilians during the air strike in the area of Majar, south of Zlitan city.
Independent journalists taken to the scene reported having been shown up to 30 body bags, of which the bodies of two women and two children were revealed
On Tuesday, NATO military spokesperson Colonel Roland Lavoie said the "legitimate target" of the strike was several farm buildings taken over by al-Gaddafi forces and said that he had "no evidence of civilian casualties."
"NATO must take all feasible precautions to avoid civilian casualties, even in those cases where al-Gaddafi forces are using civilian facilities for military purposes," said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui of Amnesty International.
"NATO continues to stress its commitment to protect civilians. To that effect, it should thoroughly investigate this and all other recent incidents in which civilians were reportedly killed in western Libya as a result of air strikes."
On 2 August, Amnesty International wrote to NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen asking for clarification on incidents in June in which unarmed civilians were reportedly killed and injured in Surman and Tripoli.
On 19 June, several civilians were reportedly killed, including two children and a woman, when a projectile struck their homes in Tripoli.
A NATO Spokesperson later said that during the air strike on a missile site, "a potential weapon system failure occurred and this caused the weapon not to hit the intended target, and reportedly resulted in a number of civilian casualties."
On 20 June, NATO strikes in Surman against what appeared to be civilian homes in a compound belonging to one of Colonel al-Gaddafi's associates, Khweildy al-Hamedi, reportedly killed several civilians, including two children and their mother.
NATO said that the facility was a legitimate military target and assured that precautions were taken before conducting the "strike which minimized any potential risk of causing unnecessary casualties".
Since March 2011, Amnesty International has repeatedly requested access to territories under the control of Colonel Mu'ammar al-Gaddafi in order to investigate allegations of human rights violations and violations to international humanitarian law. These included the sites of NATO bombings where civilian casualties have been reported. The organization received no response.
On 17 March, as fighting intensified in eastern Libya as well as in Misratah, the UN Security Council authorized the establishment of a no-fly zone over Libya and the implementation of all necessary measures, short of foreign occupation, to protect civilians.
The international alliance launched its first military attacks against al-Gaddafi forces on 19 March. NATO took over the military operation in late March.
In their attempt to regain territory under opposition control, al-Gaddafi forces launched indiscriminate attacks and attacks targeting civilians.
Such attacks were particularly widespread in Misratah. Residents faced relentless and indiscriminate rocket attacks from March to mid-May and sporadic attacks in the summer.
On 31 July, three unarmed civilians were killed and another injured when rockets landed in the residential neighbourhood of Magasaba.
Whether attacking hospitals or bombing news outlets, NATO has shown a blood desire to inflict as much destruction and death as possible in what was originally termed a "humanitarian mission" that would "protect" civilians. At the start of the war, it was also asserted it would be a matter of weeks. That was six months ago. Every other week, the media breathlessly announces that the so-called 'rebels' are advancing. Are they crawling across Libya on their bellies?
The reality is that they're not advancing in any real sense and that's due to the fact that the US government has yet again backed exiles -- decades old exiles -- and just knows that these people who chose to leave the country will have sway on those who remained behind. Not very likely. And that's why NATO bombs like crazy, more than willing to kill civilians in the hope that the final result will be Libyans screaming, "I don't care! I don't care! Do whatever you want! Just stop the bombings!"
This week's talking points was "advancing" and "success" just around that corner. But the week ends with Reuters reporting the so-called 'rebels' attempting to overthrow the current government suffered 11 deaths "in the past 24 hours" while fighting in Brega.
Meanwhile the Coalition of the Killing got a little bigger today when Russia made an announcement. Xinhua reports, "Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed a decree Friday backing the U.N. Security Council resolution that authorized international military action in Libya, the presidential press service said. Russia abstained from voting on UNSC Resolution 1973, which imposed a no-fly zone over Libya and tightened sanctions on the North African country, when the measure was presented in March. According to a decree posted on the Kremlin's website, Russia has agreed to ban all flights to Libya in Russian air space with the exception of flights for humanitarian purposes or for making an emergency landing."
2008 US presidential candidate and former US House Rep Cynthia McKinney is speaking around the country, truth-telling, about the Libyan War. Press TV notes today that hundreds turned out in Canada to hear her speak this week and that tomorrow (August 13th) she will be taking part in the Millions March in Harlem. David Hungerford (Fight Back News) notes hundreds turned out for Cynthia's Newark, New Jersey speak-out and that she quoted Libyans stating, "This is our land and what lies underneath it belongs to us. We aren't going to let anyone take it away. We wiil fight to the last person and the last bullet." Workers World notes of her speech to a packed crowd at Atlanta's Shrine of the Black Madonna last month, "She declared to the enthusiastic crowd that she would never be a 'team player for war' but was representing the 'peace team' on her travels around the world'." June 24th, she spoke in DC and this is an excerpt of the speech:
Cynthia McKinney: I took a rash step because I was so outraged. I was outraged that our president would launch yet another illegal, unconstitutional, immoral war. And so I also knew that my government was lying. I knew -- Again, yes, that's right. I knew also that the press were lying. After all, in this country we've got at least one court decision that says it's okay for the press to knowingly lie to the American people and to the international community. But not only that, we know from just a few years ago with Iraq that 935 times not only were we lied to but our president, vice president and Condoleeza Rice but the press readily, zealously printed all of those lies. And since I'm a student of the counter-intelligence program, I know that it didn't start with the Iraq War, it started a long time ago. And the demonizing, the targeting. Our own FBI said that they wanted to neutralize certain leaders who dared to dissent. And while I'm here, I'm staying at the home of John Judge who has dedicated his life to understanding the nature of political assassinations that have taken place in our country and so we know that we have had silent coups and the end of sniper's bullets that have killed our leaders who have dared to dissent. Faced with all of that, Brother Akbar [Muhammad] that is so vitally important. Black Amrica has been extremely supportive of our president but not in this case. A line has been drawn in the sand with respect to our president bombing Africa. And Libya in particular because of the history of support when the United States was supporting apartheid in Africa, on the African continent it was the people of Libya and the leadership of Muammar Gaddafi who were fighting to eradicate apartheid. And for those Blacks and people of color inside this countrty who were fighting to eradicate American style apartheid, the people of Libya and Muammar Gaddafi were supportive as well. Now I don't know that history but Brother Akbar knows that history very well. And that is part of the reason why Black America has drawn this line in the sand because this is something that is a historical relationship that has context that [. . .] that our President Obama has stepped across, he has crossed over the threshold. I have been blessed to be able to travel all over the world and as I have traveled, at one point I was extremely proud of the fact that Black people in the United States all over the world have a moral authority because everyone all over the world understands the plight that we have struggled against and that we continue to have to struggle against. But unfortunately now, the policies of the Bush administration have been enuciated and implemented by Black faces from Colin Powell and Condoleeza Rice and now we have a continuation of those polices through the office of President Obama. So I am directly impacted negatively by the actions of these Black people who have decided that they would cast their lot with War Mongerers, War Criminals and people who peddle in death and destruction. So I decided that as a responsible and conscious Black person, I wanted my voice heard against what these other people were inunciating. And at the same time, I am sick and tired of war.
Cynthia McKinney's truth-telling tour continues:
A continuing mobilization against the U.S. war on Libya has taken place in cities across the country. Packed, standing room only audiences at major meetings have heard former Congressperson Cynthia McKinney report on her June fact-finding trip to Libya with the Dignity delegation. In every meeting the message rings out: Stop the U.S./NATO bombing of Libya.
In the coming ten days Cynthia McKinney is scheduled to speak at meetings in Boston on Saturday, August 6, in Los Angeles on Sunday, August 7, in Vancouver on Tuesday, August 9. McKinney will speak at the Millions March in Harlem of August 13 along with Minister Farrakhan and other opponents of war and sanctions on Libya and Zimbabwe. She is scheduled to speak at 2 meetings in North Carolina on Sunday, August 14 hosted by the Black Workers for Justice in Rocky Mount and later at a historic civil rights church in Durham.
CLICK HERE for FULL LISTING
CLICK HERE TO DONATE FOR TOUR EXPENSES
To see Cynthia speaking at Riverside Church, click here. The release notes that Cynthia spoke to a standing-room-only audience at Newark's Abyssinian Baptist Church. Quoting from the release:
A Full listing of the current tour follows and is available at: www.IACenter.org
National-tour, now to 19 cities, organized by International Action
Center in coordination with many antiwar and
community organizations from July 7 to August 28, 2011.
And we'll note her upcoming events:
August 13, Saturday - NYC with Millions March in Harlem
August 14, Sunday - Rocky Mount, and Durham, NC
August 19, Friday – St Louis MO
August 21, Sunday - Pittsburg, PA
August 25, Thursday - Baltimore, MD
August 27, Saturday – Detroit, MI
August 28, Sunday – Denver CO
Please note if you're planning to see her Sunday in Rocky Mount that the venue has changed. She will now be speaking at the Imperical Centre. It will still start at 3:00 p.m.
Turning to Iraq where Nouri al-Maliki's greed was once only fabled and whispered of softly, today it's legendary. As he continues to fleece the Iraqi people, his greed may be the thing that destroys the US-propped up government.

Despite the March 7, 2010 election being seen as a rejection of Nouri -- whose slate came in second despite all of the predictions otherwise as well as Nouri's own abuse of office in an attempt to bring in the votes -- his greed would not allow for anyone else to be prime minister. As Nouri dug in his heels following the election, a few wondered what it would take to get Nouri out of the office he had just lost? Thanks to the US, he didn't have to worry and, after nine months of Political Stalemate I, he and the political blocs agreed to follow the Erbil Agreement. Among other things, the Erbil Agreement called for the creation of a national council on security which would be headed by Ayad Allawi (Allawi's Iraqiya came in first in the March 2010 elections). Then Nouri got named prime minister-designate and promptly trashed the agreement.

Via a series of summer house parties, Jalal Talabani brought together the political blocs and, as late as yesterday, there was praise for Jalal's efforts in the Iraqi press. Political Stalemate II was going to be ended. And before nine months! The political blocs -- including Nouri -- had agreed to return to the Erbil Agreement. Yesterday in Parliament, the most vocal opponents to the creation of the national council were from Nouri's State Of Law. Alsumaria TV reports today, "Iraq Premier Nouri Al Maliki reiterated that he is not convinced by the Higher National Strategic Policies Council as the country is heading towards Ministerial reduction and added that the Council is to be established in order to please some parties and doesn't have any role in solving the problems of the political process. During an interview with Alsumaria TV Maliki said he is not convinced by establishing this council especially that the institutions of the Iraqi State are currently flaccid. Maliki stressed that the situation will deteriorate if politics interfered in security."

Though the body was supposed to be independent and have actual powers, Al Rafidayn quotes Nouri stating that its work would be purely advisory. Nouri's trashing this latest agreement much sooner than he did at the end of 2010. When State of Law carped and complained in Parliament yesterday following the reading of the draft law, many observers knew that they must do so with Nouri's blessing (Nouri is the head of State of Law). Now the surprise over that has been replaced with puzzlement over why Nouri is attacking the agreement he just signed off on? Since the only thing most are aware he got was for others to begin publicly speaking favorably of at least entertaining the thought of US forces remaining on the ground in Iraq beyond 2011, that would appear to be all he got from the summer House Parties -- spreading the blame for a continued US presence all around in the government.
On the subject of whether or not US troops remain in Iraq after the start of the new year,
Robert Naiman (Huffington Post) observes, "John McCain once said that there's no problem with keeping U.S. troops in Iraq forever, just like we do in Germany, Japan, and South Korea. How liberals mocked him! But that's what the Obama Administration is now trying to do: keep US troops in Iraq forever. [. . . ] The Pentagon doesn't want you to notice that at the same time Washington is seized with debt hysteria, and the nation's mainstream media are demanding cuts to Social Security and Medicare benefits on the preposterous claim that 'we can no longer afford it,' the Pentagon is laying plans to keep 10,000 U.S. troops in Iraq forever. They call these troops 'trainers,' so we are not supposed to notice. But these 'trainers' engage in combat: they kill Iraqis, and they get killed by Iraqis." Naiman is with Just Foreign Policy and they're asking you to tell Congress no more Iraq War funding after the end of 2011. And while Americans wait for the day that Barack will speak publicly about the efforts of the US government to extend the US military presence in Iraq, the costs are not only finanical but also human lives. A memorial in California has been tracking deaths in the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars. Has been. Jonathan Morales (Contra Costa Times) reports that the memorial in Lafayette has simply run out of space for any more crosses. There is no more space to erect additional crosses to note the deaths and yet the US government wants to continue both wars.
Political intrigue continues in Iraq as well. For example, Al Mada reports that the Sadr bloc is calling for an investigation into the alleged fake contracts and alleged theft of funds in the Ministry of Electricity. Over the weekend, Nouri al-Maliki announced he was firing the Minister of Electricity due to fake contracts worth billions. There were two main responses. First, many stated Nouri didn't have the power to do the firing, only Parliament did. Second, the Minister of Electricity floated that he had many stories to tell. It has since emerged that these contracts Nouri claims to be surprised and appalled by carry . . . Nouri's signature. Nouri and State Of Law's latest move is to note that this member of Nouri's Cabinet is also a member of Iraqiya. I'm not sure how that assists Nouri since, over the weekend, Iraqiya was the first to state that they supported the move Nouri made. Dr. Nimrod Raphaeli (The Middle East Media Research Institute) offers an analysis of what happened:
In July of this year, the Ministry of Electricity signed a contract with a Canadian company, CAPGENT, for $1.2 billion for the construction of 10 power stations with a production capacity of 100 megawatts each. The company was registered in Vancouver, Canada. It also signed a second contract with a German company, Maschinerbrau Halberstadt, for €500 million ($650 million) for the construction of five power stations with a production capacity of 100 megawatts each, to be completed within 12 months from the time a line of credit was extended. It now appears that the two companies are fictitious, and had the contracts been executed they would have would have constituted a monumental case of fraud involving senior officials of the Ministry of Electricity.
The two fraudulent cases came to light thanks to the personal efforts of Jawad Hashim, a former minister of planning in Iraq during the early Ba'thist regime in the 1960s and early 1970s. In a handwritten letter to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, datelined Vancouver, Canada, August 2, 2011, Hashim detailed the fraud.
As a resident of Vancouver, Hashim decided to investigate the available information on the Canadian company while he asked the former minister of economy and governor of the Iraqi central bank, Fakhri Yassin Qadduri, who resides in Germany, to investigate the identity of the German company.

David Baines (Vancouver Sun) reports that Jawad Hashim (the whistleblower) was convicted of "in absentia, of embezzling more than $50 million from the Arab Monetary Fund" and that Hashim maintains that the charges are false and were revenge for his defection from Saddam Hussein's government and his departing Iraq. Hayder Najm (niqash) questions whether the contracts are indeed with fake companies.

Last Friday, a prison in Hilla saw a riot and a break out. Among the details that were passed on to the media was that guns with silencers were stored in the prison -- by guards. Why do you need a silencer in a prison if you're a guard? That question was never answered. Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports four prisoners were killed, 1 guard was killed and four guards were injured. Dar Addustour reports that the prison break was addressed in Parliament today. Now might be a good time to note what's not addresssed: though there was a great deal of grandstanding when protests were taking place repeatedly throughout Iraq, no salaries were changed. That's the presidency and the vice presidency, that's the prime minister.
Reuters notes a Baghdad roadside bombing last night left three people injured and a second one left two Iraqi soldiers injured (other events from last night noted by Retuers were included in yesterday's snapshot).

"There is no way to fund what we must do as a nation without bringing our troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan. The militarization of our foreign policy has proven to be a costly mistake. It is time to invest at home" - AFL-CIO Executive Council, Aug. 3, 2011

Tom Hayden found the statement amazing and a sign of a 'progressive' victory. This morning, I disagreed. Tom may have indeed been right. Because the statement is rather weak and the AFL-CIO has been calling out the Iraq War for years, click here for one 2007 example and although the new statement was approved and passed August 3rd, you can search in favin on the AFL-CIO's website for it. You'd think such an important statement might make the main page. Wrong. But on the main page you will hear about what you can do for the Democratic Party in next year's elections and about those 'bad' Republicans. But you won't find the statement. Because it means nothing to the AFL-CIO. If it did, they'd make it their damn banner already. It's nothing but an attempt at advertising. It's nothing but, "We've got to elect Dems! Who can connect with liberal voters now that Barack's proven to be the golden calf? I know! The unions! Get the AFL-CIO to issue a statement and then when they come to the website we'll lock in their votes for the Democratic Party." I'm real damn sick of this illegal war to begin with. But I'm also sick of the partisn b.s. that has surrounded it from day one. It's been used to give Republicans control of Congress (that was the 2002 strategy), it's been used to give Democrats control of both houses of Congress and it's been used to flip the White House. But the Iraq War has not ended. And if 'progressives' were serious about ending it today, they'd be talking about the war every time they were in front of the camera or microphone and, in Congress, Barbara Lee wouldn't be writing that embarrassing letter. Instead, she or someone else, would compose a letter that simply stated: "We will not allow you to continue this war. We will stop funding." That's all that needs to be said. And it's not even an issue of votes. A real filibuster could defeat any and every attempt at continuing to fund the illegal war.
On the main page of US Labor Against the War, the top headline, in huge letters, is about the AFL-CIO resolution. And if they cared about their own resolution, that's what the AFL-CIO would have done as well. Instead it's a 'progressive.' Meaning, it tricks and decieves, lies and manipulates because all that ever matters is how you vote every other year in November. That is the true meaning of progressive as they have repeatedly taught us (so-called progressives) since 2007. They're fakes. Many of them are adults who are too scared of their own shadow to declare they're Socialists. Matthew Rothschild, for example, presented as "progressive" and only came out as a Socialist after the 2008 election. (And no doubt, actual Socialists wish the coward would go back in the political closet.) If you use the links US Labor Against the War provides, you suddenly find the 'statement' at the AFL-CIO website.
Remember progressives are fakes? Tom Hayden, the mother of all progressives, the one who nursed them with his man boobs, Tom Hayden writes about this 'amazing' statement, turns it into a Huffignton Post article.
Is there a bigger fraud than Tom Hayden?
"There is no way to fund what we must do as a nation without bringing our troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan. The militarization of our foreign policy has proven to be a costly mistake. It is time to invest at home." Is that not just the sweetest little open the heavens and let in the light statement to be made?
What's the problem with the statement? It's 42 words.
42 words. And this 'big statement' that's only 42 words?
It's not really a statement.
If I want to make a statement about the wars, I make a statement about the wars. I don't bury two little sentences of 42 words in a, pay attention, 1592.word essay. That 'statement'? It's the eighth paragraph of their press release that should be entitled "Your 2012 Voters' Guide." 19 more paragraphs follow paragraph eight. Only paragraph eight -- those two sentences of 42 words, mentions the wars. And Tom wants to claim it as a progressive victory. Wants to treat it as major news. And thought he'd get away with it. There's nothing worth praising here.
US Senator Patty Murray is also the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee. Her office notes this event next week.

(Washington, D.C.) – On Tuesday, August 16th, U.S. Senator Patty Murray, Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs, will hold a listening session to hear from area veterans on local challenges and to discuss her efforts to improve veterans care and benefits nationwide. This will be Senator Murray's first discussion with local veterans as Chairman of the Veterans' Affairs Committee. Senator Murray will use the struggles, stories, and suggestions she hears on Monday to fight for local veterans in Washington, D.C.

WHO: U.S. Senator Patty Murray

Local veterans

WHAT: Veterans listening session with Senator Murray

WHEN: Tuesday, August 16th

1:00 PM PT

WHERE: Ft. Vancouver Artillery Barracks

600 East Hatheway Road

Vancouver, WA 98661

Map

Still on veterans issues, Joe Fryer (KING5) reports on March Forward's press conference this week where the addressed the issue of military suicides and noted that Sgt Derrick Kirkland repeatedly attempted to take his own life yet was labeled "low risk" by the military. Michael Prysner is quoted stating, "Within 48 hours of being in the care of Fort Lewis, he was dead. The mental health care system is broken. Soldiers are sent on constant, repeated deployments. When they ask for help, they receive notoriously inadequate care."

Tonight at Coffee Strong -- the GI coffeehouse -- a speak-out was held. Among those telling truths was Mary Kirkland, mother of the late Sgt Derrick Kirkland. Jeremiah Kirkland is a member of March Forward and, like his brother Derrick, he served in the Army. He spoke about his brother's suicide in an interview with March Forward. Excerpt:


MF: What was he like when you talked to him after he was sent home?

Jeremiah Kirkland: He was just totally depressed. It all got to him.

MF: Did he express his frustration with the treatment he was getting?

JK: Yeah, he said all they did was load him up with drugs.

MF: What was your reaction when you heard that he had killed himself?

JK: In all honestly, I was not surprised. I mean, Army mental health care is a joke. You pretty much go there, don't even tell them anything, and they determine whatever category you're in based on different factors and that's the treatment you get. My brother got substandard treatment. The consistently dropped the ball.

MF: Who do you think is responsible for your brother's death?

JK: This government! If he hadn't been deployed, for no goddamn reason but corporate greed, he would still be here.

MF: What do you think about Derrick being rated a "low risk" for suicide by the Army?

JK: Not surprised, honestly. It's just, you know, pretty much whatever they can do to save the government dollar on giving our soldiers actual health care. It just doesn't work.
The speak-out comes as the US Army delivers the latest monthly results on suicide. Youchi J. Dreazen (National Journal) explains: "There were 32 Army suicides in July, the highest monthly toll ever recorded. The grim figure underscores the military's continuing inability to find ways of preventing troubled soldiers from taking their own lives."
Next week, we'll do two days on the UN report. I forgot it yesterday and just don't have the time tonight. My apologies.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

3 women, 2 men

Today on The Diane Rehm Show's first hour, the guests were Zoe Williams, Simon Nixon, Kenneth Lieberthal and Scheherazade Rehman. For the second hour, it was Jane Fonda.

I was hugely disappointed with the second hour, sorry. Don't know if it was Diane or Barack. But Jane was specifically asked about the current wars and gave a fluff answer.

I may return to this topic tomorrow night.

I do recommend Jane's new book PrimeTime, it's a great read.


This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Thursday, August 11, 2011. Chaos and violence continue, Senator Patty Murray raises concerns about the treatment of female veterans, Political Stalemate II continues, house bombings are still the new fad in Iraqi violence, and more.
Starting with women veterans. Senator Patty Murray is the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee and her office notes:
(Washington, D.C.) -- Today, Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee Chairman Patty Murray and Illinois Senator Dick Durbin sent a joint letter to Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Eric Shinseki expressing their concern about the placement of homeless female veterans in unsecure housing in Chicago, which jeopardized their safety. Chairman Murray and Senator Durbin's letter asks VA for assurances that homeless female veterans across the country who are being cared for by the Department are housed in appropriate, safe and secure conditions.

The full text of the Senators' letter is below:

The Honorable Eric Shinseki

Secretary

Department of Veterans Affairs

810 Vermont Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20420

Secretary Shinseki:
We are writing to express our strong concerns regarding the privacy, safety, and security of homeless female veterans who participate in the grant and per diem (GPD) program. As you know, women veterans are more likely than their male counterparts to become homeless, and VA must be prepared to serve the unique needs of this growing population.
We were recently informed that several homeless female veterans were placed with a provider in Chicago, Illinois, which was only approved to house male veterans. As you know, sexual trauma and domestic violence are prevalent in the homeless women veteran population. Furthermore, placing these women into a mixed-gender environment often exacerbates their trauma. While we understand VA has taken immediate action to remove the women veterans from this facility and to immediately stop per diem payments to this provider, the failure to mitigate the privacy, safety and security risks for these female veterans is simply unacceptable.
Although this appears to be an isolated incident, the problems raised in Chicago do call into question the Department's ability to exercise effective oversight over its GPD grantees and to provide the type of care that homeless female veterans truly need and deserve. In order to ensure that a situation like this never occurs again, we request that you provide us with the results of an inventory of active GPD grantees to certify that there are no ongoing inappropriate placements of homeless female veterans at other facilities or housing situations. Please also provide a description of the measures VA is taking to ensure that homeless female veterans are not housed in inappropriate housing situations in the future, including a description of the grantee inspection process. We expect a detailed briefing to our staffs on these matters as soon as possible.
Secretary Shinseki, we appreciate your commitment to ensuring the highest quality care for homeless veterans. We are grateful for the leadership you have displayed in fighting to end veteran homelessness once and for all and look forward to continuing to work with you to achieve this mutual goal.

Sincerely,

U.S. Senator Patty Murray

Chairman Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee

U.S. Senator Richard Durbin

Senate Majority Whip

###

Meghan Roh

Deputy Press Secretary

Office of U.S. Senator Patty Murray

@SenMurrayPress

202-224-2834

Get Updates from Senator Murray

Now moving on to the Libyan War, Saturday July 30th, NATO attacked the Libyan Broadcasting Authority. We noted the Libyan Broadcasting Authority's statement in the August 3rd snapshot. The International Federation of Journalists issued the following statement on NATO bombing the journalism outlet:
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today condemned the NATO air strikes against Libyan state television which took place last Saturday in Tripoli, killing three journalists and injured fifteen staff members according to its director of the English service, Khalid Basilia.
According to agency reports, NATO confirmed that it bombed the transmitters without giving any details of casualties, posting on its website that their aim was to degrade Libyan leader Gaddafi's "use of satellite television as a means to intimidate the Libyan people and incite acts of violence against them."
"We utterly condemn this action which targeted journalists and threatened their lives in violation of international law. These kinds of actions that use violence to stifle dissident media spell catastrophe for press freedom," said IFJ General Secretary, Beth Costa.
The IFJ says that the bombing is in contravention of UN Security Council resolution 1738, passed in December 2006, which explicitly condemned such attacks against journalists and media, and clearly established that media equipment and installations constitute civilian objects and are not to be considered target of any type for military reprisals.
The IFJ has continually protested these kinds of attacks since the 1999 NATO bombing in Belgrade of the Serbian broadcaster RTS, which killed 16 people. At the time, NATO said the station was a legitimate military target because it was a "propaganda mouth piece" for the regime of Slobodan Milosevic regime.
The IFJ says there is no justification for the action under international law and calls once again on NATO to refrain from such attacks against media.
"Our concern is that when one side decides to take out a media organisation because they regard its message as propaganda, then all media are at risk," said Costa. "In conflict situations, international law is clear that unarmed journalists cannot be treated as combatants, irrespective of their political affiliations."

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Barack Obama declared war on the Libyan government back in March but has hid behind NATO and claimed that it was not a war to avoid getting Congressional approval. He also insisted that it was to protect protesters in Libya from a violent government response. Barry Neild (CNN) notes that with protests and riots breaking out in England, the governments of Libya and Iran are "mocking Britain over riots" and that "The criticism came as other nations around the world reassed their usually peaceful views of the UK, revising official advice to Britain-bound travelers and publishing newspaper headlines and editorials likening London to the troublespots such as Somalia's Mogadishu."
Law and Disorder Radio -- which airs Mondays on WBAI and around the country throughout the week -- is a weekly program which examines issues and offers solid legal analysis because the three hosts are all attorneys as well: Heidi Boghosian, Michael S. Smith and Michael Ratner (Center for Constitutional Rights). On the program for the week of July 11th, the legality of the Libyan War was explored.
Michael Smith: Michael, the actions that the Obama administration took against Libya is really a perversion of the law. Explain what they did in order to justify not going to Congress.
Michael Ratner: Well the use of military force by the president has to be authorized by Congress under the United States Constitution. That's very clear. And it's not just war, it's use of -- it's hostilities, it's really any military action anywhere in the world other than in self-defense. So we start from the premise that military actions, whether in Libya, killing people in Somolia or Yemen, etc., has to be authorized by Congress. In some cases the president claimed that the authorization to use military force passed in 2001 -- after 9/11 -- gave him authority. But in other cases, he's just asserting raw, naked power. He's claiming that because these don't amount to large wars that the Constitution doesn't apply and he doesn't have to go to Congress. Now then what happened because this is a common claim of presidents whether it's in Libya or Somolia, Congress after Vietnam built in a safety trigger. They said, "Lookit, you still need our consent to go to war, or to go into hostilities or bomb people, etc. But we're going to put in a safety trigger. If you do that, if you engage in hostilities and you don't come to us first like you're required to do under the Constitution, then you have sixty days to come back to us and get authority or within sixty days all troops have to be automatically withdrawn." So it's a safety figure because they knew the president would do exactly what Obama is doing, violate the Constitution. They put in a safety trigger that said you have sixty days to get authority, if you don't have authority then you then have 30 more days to get all the troops out, a total of 90 days. So in the case of Libya, of course, the 90 days have passed and the War Powers Resolution had required that all those troops be brought out. So we had a sort of double system. Is that clear, Michael?
Michael Smith: Well as a practical matter, the political will in this country is lacking to do anything. Technically what he did is a crime and he can be impeached for it and tried and gotten out of office but I don't think that's going to happen.
Michael Ratner: It's a high crime or misdemeanor. It's true violation of the Constitution, it's a violation of Congressional statute, you could impeach him. But good luck. We've never -- we've never successfully impeached anybody. I mean, we had, you know, Andrew Johnson after the Civil War was at least tried and acquitted eventually but I think that was the case. Nixon, rather than be impeached, resigned. Clinton made it through. Bush made it through. So what do you say, Michael? It looks like it's not a really good lever.
FYI, Michael Ratner has teamed with Margaret Ratner Kunstler for the just released book Hell No, Your Right To Dissent. Back to the Libyan War, as Michael Ratner noted, Barack is in violation of the War Powers Act. A group of men, thought to be former citizens of Libya and supporters of the so-called rebels (Transitional National Council) stormed an embassy today. Al Jazeera reports the the Libyan Embassy in Stockholm was attacked with people hanging the flag of the TNC and tossing any photos of Libya's leader Muamma Gaddafi "out of its windows." Al Jazeera notes 7 men were arrested.
The Secretary-General is deeply concerned by reports of the unacceptably large number of civilian casualties as a result of the conflict in Libya. He expresses his sincere sympathies and solidarity with the Libyan people, in particular, those who have lost loved ones in the recent attacks carried out in the country. The Secretary-General calls on all parties to exercise extreme caution in their actions, in order to minimise any further loss of civilian life.
He once again reiterates his strongly held belief that there can be no military solution to the Libyan crisis. A ceasefire that is linked to a political process which would meet the aspirations of the Libyan people, is the only viable means to achieving peace and security in Libya.
The Secretary-General urges all Libyan parties to immediately engage with his Special Envoy, Mr. Abdul Ilah Al-Khatib, and respond concretely and positively to the ideas presented to them, in order to end the bloodshed in the country.
Jacob Zuma is the President of South Africa. AFP quotes him stating, "We have found ourselves in a situation where the developed world has decided to intervene in Africa in a manner that was not agreed to when the UN resolution 1973 . . . was passed. We have found this resolution being abused in a manner that is totally unacceptable." Zuma, like the African Union, wants the violence stopped and peace talks to take place. (He does not see Gaddafi being a part of those talks.) While the African Union has repeatedly called for the matter to be left to the regional powers (which would not include the US or NATO), the White House wants Gaddafi out of power and wants to split Libya up into at least three regions. The Council on Foreign Relations loves every war -- at least until continuing to love it reveals their War Hawk nature, at which point (as with Iraq) they finally start calling for an end to it. Today they offer Daniel Serwer 'explaining' what can be done with Libya after the US kicks out Gaddafi (I'm not saying that will come to be, but that is the premise of Serwer's paper, Gaddafi is gone). As with the selling of the Iraq War, Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies is at the forefront of the calls for violence. That did not register at the start of the Iraq War. Hopefully, people will notice it this time. Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies is nothing but a hotbed little War Hawks.
The TNC (so-called 'rebels') assassinated Abdel Fatah Younes. He had defected from Gaddafi's side early in the war and was with the TNC, even holding a position in it. And then the TNC began to doubt him and murdered him. While a large number of TNC-ers are exiles (some from America, some from elsewhere), without actual Libyans on the TNC's side, it's going to be very difficult for them to continue to pretend to represent the will of the Libyan people. And when one of the highest ranking defectors in the TNC is still not trusted, it does not instill a sense of security in others who defected over to the TNC side. Patrick Cockburn (Indpendent of London) observes:
This week the head of the TNC, Mustafa Abdel Jalil, sacked his whole government on the grounds that some were complicit in the killing. He was apparently forced to do so in order to quell the rage of the powerful Obeidi tribe to which Younes belonged.

A ludicrous aspect of the whole affair is that at the very moment the rebel leaders are at each other's throats, they are being recognised by country after country as the legitimate government of Libya. This week TNC diplomats took over the Libyan embassies in London and Washington and are about to do so in Ottawa. In a masterpiece of mistiming, Britain recognised the rebel government on the day when some of its members were shooting their own commander-in-chief and burning his body.

Noting Cockburn's article last night, Elaine observed, "The Libyan War receives more attention from the international press these days, have you noticed that? I am sure another wave is due any day now on how godly and saintly and wonderful the so-called 'rebels' are. This 'brief' mini-cakewalk that Barack promised is now what, five months old? When it's in year whatever, do you think people will give a damn?"
Yesterday, the State Dept's spokesperson Victoria Nuland was quizzed about her claim that TNC was "a sign of vibrant transparency and democratic accountability and she responded, "I think we stand by what I said yesterday, which is that this is an opportunity for renewal not only in political terms, but in terms of the confidence that the Libyan people are going to to have in TNC leadership." The TNC murdered one of their own and Victoria Nuland wants to talk "opportunity for renewal"?
Turning to the Iraq War, if it ends at the end of 2011, why are they still deploying troops to it? Today the Providence Journal reports a send-off is scheduled this Friday (9:00 a.m., Quonset Air National Guard Base) for two units of the Rhode Island National Guard who are deploying "to Iraq for a year. They will provide aviation support for combat and reconstruction operations, the National Guard said." Jennifer Quinn (WPRI) also notes the deployment, "A Company, 1st Battalion 126th Aviation and D Company 126th Aviation will deploy ti Iraq for one year."
March 7, 2010, Iraqis voted. The elections would determine members of Parliament who would then determine who was prime minister who would then determine with the Parliament who made up the Cabinet. This is not a lengthy process. Or it's not supposed to be. But it drug on for a little over nine months creating Political Stalemate I. In November 2010, a deal was hammered out, the Erbil Agreement, saying Nouri and State of Law would get this, Iraqiya would get this, etc. This deal allowed Political Stalemate I to end. And Nouri became prime minister-designate that month. And Nouri quickly disregarded the other elements of the deal, refusing to honor them and starting Political Stalemate II.

Nouri was named prime minister-designate in November. Per the Constitution, he then had 30 days to nominate members of his Cabinet and have the Parliament approve them. But Nouri never nominated a full Cabinet. And to this day, the positions of Minister of the Interior, Minister of Defense and Minister of National Security have never been filled. Every few weeks comes the speculation that finally Nouri is going to make nominations. It's August, eight months after the positions should have been filled. Will Political Stalemate II last longer than the first one?

Dar Addustour states that "informed sources" state that the issue will be resolved "net week" and that the candidates have already been decided. Al Rafidayn states three nominees will be named by the National Alliance and credits the recent House Party at Jalal's for ending the impasse.

The Erbil Agreement called for the creation of a National Council on security issues and called on Ayad Allawi (whose Iraqiya came in first in the March 7th elections) to head the new body. On the first day Parliament met following the Erbil Agreement, many members of Iraqiya walked out when the agreed to creation of this body was immediately tabled. Al Sabaah reports that people expect today's session of Parliament to be "heated" due to the fact that the issue of the National Council is on the agenda -- finally on the agenda. Aswat al-Iraq reports that National Alliance MP Abdul-Hussein Abtan objected at the first reading of the draft law and is stating that the council would have too much power.

The Cabinet was reduced by 17 positions last month. Nouri had promised everyone something in an attempt to sew up votes for prime minister. As a result, even with three ministry heads not named, Nouri kicked things off in December with a bloated Cabinet. Charges of corruption and protests led Nouri to propose trimming the Cabinet's ministers and deputy ministers. Bilgay Duman (Sunday Zaman) calls out the decision:

This decision which was taken with the agreement of political groups of the Republic of Iraq is seen that will cause new problems for Iraq even if it seems as positive at first. First of all, there is a big question mark that is about which tasks will be given to political groups whose ministries are taken over. On the other hand, associating ministries is in question. For instance, associating Ministry of Culture and Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities is being discussed. However, the Ministry of Culture was afforded to the Coalition of Iraqi union under the leadership of Cevat El Bolani who is the former internal affairs minister and the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities was afforded to one person of Al-Sadr's group. In case of associating these two ministries, the possibility of being a moot question concerning it will be afforded to which group is pretty high. Because of the fact that there has not been any appointment to ministries, it is thought that the new assignments will raise problems in Iraqi politics. This situation may lead the Republic of Iraq to a new crisis. On the other side, the continuing discussions relating to the existence of American soldiers in Iraq and also the disagreement among political groups might deepen this crisis. In the forthcoming period, the issues such as reviewing of government or calling an early election may be anticipated to be brought up to the agenda again.

Patrick Seale (Gulf News) observes, "Iraq's new-found 'democracy', dominated by Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki, is characterised by a great number of parties and splinter groups, all jostling for advantage. This produces a lot of heated talk but not much action — to the extent that a leading Iraqi (consulted for this article) described the Iraqi political scene as resembling that of the French Fourth Republic."
Filing early and never updating, Reuters notes Wednesday events that they didn't cover yesterday: two Kirkuk roadside bombings injured one police officer, 1 corpse was discovered in Kirkuk, 1 corpse was discoovered in Hilla, a Mosul roadside bombing injured a child, another Mosul roadside bombing injured a police officer, a Falluja roadside bombing injured eight people. Interesting. But today W.G. Dunlop Tweets:

wdunlop87 3 dead, 49 wounded in #Iraq violence on Thursday http://bit.ly/nWBnx5

Ali Yussef (AFP) reports 3 people were killed by a bombing of police officer's Ramadi home leaving 3 dead and 24 wounded. As we noted Monday, home bombings are the new craze in Baghdad -- Sunday an Iskandariya home bombing resulted in the death of 5 family members (nine more injured) and a Baghdad home bombing claimed the life of 1 Sahwa and the life of his son (two female family members were injured) and Monday a Haswa home bombing left four members of a police officer's family injured. In addition, AFP notes four bombings slammed Baghdad after sunset with at least ten people left injured.


Yesterday it was still news in Australia that the last 33 Australian soldiers were finally leaving Iraq. Yes, Kevin Rudd lied and said "Elect me and all soldiers come home." Why do you think it was so easy to defeat Kevin Rudd in the first place (Rudd didn't even make a full three years in the post). Jeremy Thompson (Australia's ABC) reports that John Howard's words may come back to haunt him. Howard was prime minister before Rudd. As Tony Blair and Bully Boy Bush lied to their own nations in the lead up to the war, so Howard lied to Australians. Now MP Andrew Wilkie wants Parliament to launch an inquiry into the war and wants Howard to testify before it. The article notes of the start of the illegal war, "At the time, Mr Wilkie was an intelligence officer with the Office of National Assessments (ONA) and resigned his post because he said the Government had no evidence Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction." David Ellery (Canberra Times) explains, "Mr Wilkie said yesterday that Mr Howard and former Coalition foreign minister Alexander Downer must be made to explain why they took Australia to war based on a lie in 2003. He wants an inquiry similar to the one being conducted by Sir John Chilcot in Britain." AAP adds, "No light had ever been shone on the behaviour of Mr Howard and former foreign minister Alexander Downer." News9 reports that Tony Abbott, opposition leader in Parliament, is already shooting down the idea of an inquiry. Meanwhile Dennis Jett (McClatchy Newspapers) notes that the US has had no inquiry:

Various Senate committees and special commissions put out reports five or six years ago, but they were set up to have a balance between Republican and Democratic politicians and given narrow mandates. The results were invariably weasel-worded conclusions that evaded the truth and provided little insight and no accountability. To the extent any blame was assessed, it was directed at unnamed bureaucrats. Instead of bearing any responsibility for the war and its aftermath, Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Powell and Tenet rake in seven figure advances for their books and six figure fees for giving speeches to friendly audiences.

So why is there no interest in finding out what lessons can be learned from the Iraq experience, what went wrong and who is responsible? The four failures identified by the Chilcot committee apply even more to Bush since Blair was only acting as Bush's poodle. Does America suffer from NADD -- national attention deficit disorder? Or is there another reason.

The war was unnecessary because Saddam Hussein had no WMD. And he wasn't going to get any because the UN inspectors were doing an effective job. The war was illegal, because, as the legal experts in the British Foreign Office concluded, it was against international law. Bush used violations of Security Council resolutions to justify invading Iraq. He never bothered to ask the UN for the authorization that would have legitimized the invasion, however, because he knew he could not get it.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

5 men, 1 woman

The first panel on today's Diane Rehm Show (NPR) was Norman Ornstein, Gretchen Morgenson, Stuart Rothenberg and James Fallow. The second hour was Geoffrey Gray and Frederick Gutt.

Dan Hirschhorn (POLITICO) reports Ron Paul's family is going through Iowa to help him in his run for the GOP nomination for president.

Let's hope the GOP has the sense to back Ron Paul this go round.

This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Wednesday, August 11, 2011. Chaos and violence continue, the financial cost of war is noted (pay attention, Steve Inskeep), talk of extending the US military presence in Iraq continues, Iraqi Youth issue a statement, and more.
Starting with the Libyan War. Black Star News (via San Francisco Bay View) notes that "the entire Black population" of Misrata has been driven out of the city by the so-called rebels and cites this Wall St. Journal report where the rebels boast of being "the brigade for purging slaves, black skin." Were George W. Bush still illegally occupying the White House, there would be a huge outcry over that. Instead it's little reported. Black Star News states the New York Times has ignored the racism of the so-called rebels of the Transitional National Council and the attacks on Black Libyans:
If the case was reversed and Black Libyans were committing ethnic cleansing against non-Black Libyans, does anyone believe that the people who now control the editorials or the news pages at the New York Times would ignore such a story? Evidently, it doesn't bother the sages at the Times that Black Libyans are specifically being targeted for liquidation because of their skin color.
Instead, the New York Times is busy boasting of its support for NATO's bombing campaign -- as in a recent editorial -- which this week alone is reported to have killed 20 civilians. The Times has also ignored Rep. Dennis Kucinich's call to the International Criminal court (ICC) to investigate NATO commanders on possible war crimes in connection to Libyan civilians killed.
The Times can't write about the ethnic cleansing of Black Libyans and migrants from other African countries because it would diminish the reputation of the 'rebels,' who the Times have fully embraced, even after the ICC also reported that they too have committed war crimes. Instead, the Times is comfortable with the simplistic narrative, "al-Qaddafi bad," "rebels good," regardless of the fact that the Wall Street Journal also reported the rebels are being trained by former al-Qaeda leaders who were relesed from U.S. custody in Guantanamo Bay.
Monday, Elaine noted:
Charles Levinson (Wall St. Journal) and William Booth (Washington Post) both report that the so-called 'rebels' in Libya, the TNC-ers, have 'reshuffled' their administrative cabinet in a desperate bid to try to calm the fears of their western supporters over the TNC's assassination of their own colleague Abdel Fattah Younis.
I don't believe a simple cabinet shuffle will calm fears. Their supporters are ready to bail on them. The TNC provided a ton of promises and delivered on none of them.
For a roundtable at Third on Sunday, Jim asked what the most important recent news in the Libyan War had been:
Mike: I'll go. I think it was, I'm pulling up Friday's snapshot, give me a second. Okay, on the second hour of Friday's Diane Rehm Show, James Kitfield of National Journal said, "People aren't really talking about but I believe it's in September the UN resolution that really okayed this runs out and given that NATO has gone way beyond what it originally said it was going to do which was just to protect people from massacre from the air to bombing command centers and taking out tanks, it's very hard for me to imagine that they get an extension of that [resolution] through the [United Nations] Security Council so that means that there might be a due-by-date on NATO airstrike and power for this and the further complicates it." I did not know the UN resolution ran out next month. To me, that's the biggest development.

Elaine: I'd agree with Mike but note that another important story is Reuters' report that the so-called 'rebels' were supplied with ammunition yesterday by a Qatari plane. The coverage from Al Jazeera has been one-sided and pro 'rebels.' That plane owned by the government of Qatar? Al Jazeera is also owned by the government of Qatar.

Ann: While those are both important points, I think the points we made last Sunday in "How's that Libyan War going?" were the biggest issue because, all last week, throughout the whole week, the death of Abdul Fatah Yunis continued to have an impact.
All are important items but Ann's correct that the murder of Abdul Fatah Yunis has continued to have an impact. That is why the so-called 'rebels' did the 'cabinet shuffle' and Elaine's right that that's not enough. Last night Amir Ahmed (CNN) reported 'rebel' 'leader' "Mustafa Abdel Jalil has dismissed the rebels' 14-member executive board" and that this is over the assassination of Abdel Fattah Younis. Kim Sengupta (Independent) explains, "The dismissal of the entire cabinet by Mustafa Abdel Jalil was acknowledged as an attempt to reassure the family of General Abdel Fatah Younes and the powerful tribe to which he belonged -- the Obeidis -- that action was being taken over the death. However, the move late on Monday was also viewed as a further sign of schism within the rebel movement, beset by internal feuding six months into a civil war which appears to have reached a stalemate, with Muammar Gaddafi still in power in Tripoli." RT (Journal of Foreign Relations) notes a 70-page plan to force Gaddafi out which would require staging "a mass uprising in Tripoli" which the US and NATO hope would cause people to leave the government's side and support the 'rebels.' The article notes: "Key to the council's strategy will be the creation of a 10-15,000-strong military force, which is to quell any remaining resistance from Gaddafi loyalists. The troops will be paid for by the United Arab Emirates, the plan suggests. They should be recruited amongst Libyans living in the north-west of the country, Tripolitania, so that their presence is not erroneously taken as a foreign occupation by the locals, says the document."
Turning to the Iraq War and starting with economics in the hopes that we won't all be as ignorant on the topic as Steve Inskeep (see yesterday's snapshot). Nobel winning economist Joseph Stiglitz appeared on Yahoo's Daily Ticker today to address the US economy.
Jeff Macke: We've got a massive debt situation effecting this country. We've got the baby boomers all set to retire, Generation X are set to pick up the tab. Is more stimulus the answer to this debt crisis and what's the end game here?
Joseph Stiglitz: Well more stimulus is about the only thing that we can do. One of the other things that we can do is restructure the debt. One-quarter of all Americans owe more money on their home than the value of their house. The home used to be the retirement account, something to pay for their kid's education. No longer true. It's a liability. And we need to restructure these debts. In corporations, we understand the principal. We have something called Chapter 11 which is designed to keep the corporations going, keep jobs and give the corporation a fresh start. We need to do that for all Americans. We need to have what I call "A Home Owners' Chapter 11" to get these millions and millions of Americans who are being dragged down by this excessive debt, pushed by the mortgage companies and the banks. Restructure it and give them a fresh start. It doesn't do anybody any good to force these people out of their homes. An economy in which you have homeless people and empty homes doesn't make any sense and that's where we're going.
Aaron Task: Right. Right and I know we have to wrap it and I know this opens up a whole other can of worms but did you see anything in the debt ceiling that got done, let's forget the cantankerous negotiations for a second, the deal itself that gives you any hope that we're a step closer to resolving our problems?
Joseph Stiglitz: No. And it actually leaves me very pessimistic because if I had been talking, engaged in that kind of discussion, I would have gone back to 2001 where we had a 2% of GDP [Gross Domestic Product] surplus. And [former Chair of the Federal Reserve Alan] Greenspan argued that we needed to have a tax cut because if we didn't we would pay off the entire national debt and it would be dificult for him to conduct monetary policy. So in a span of just a decade we went from this almost unmanageable surplus to an unmanageable deficit. And to answer the question as to what we ought to do, all you need to do is think about how did we get from there to here? Four things made a big difference. In fact, account for almost all of the difference. And if we reverse those four things, we're actually home easy. What are those four things? A tax cut for the rich beyond our ability to afford. Trillion dollar wars that have not improved our security. A major economic downturn. Put America back to work and our tax revenues will increase enormously. And finally a medical part D of Medicare, Medicare Part D, where we put a provision that we not negotiate with the drug companies, estimated to cost by various people giving various estimates as much as a trillion dollars in a decade.You get rid of those four things and were actually on pretty sound basis.
Most experts estimate that the defence budget would lose $600 billion to $700 billion over the next 10 years. If so, let the guillotine fall. It would be a much-needed adjustment to an out-of-control military-industrial complex.
First, some history. The Pentagon's budget has risen for 13 years, which is unprecedented. Between 2001 and 2009, overall spending on defence rose from $412 billion to $699 billion, a 70 per cent increase, which is larger than in any comparable period since the Korean War. Including the supplementary spending on Iraq and Afghanistan, we spent $250 billion more than average US defence expenditures during the Cold War -- a time when the Soviet, Chinese and Eastern European militaries were arrayed against the United States and its allies. Over the past decade, when we had no serious national adversaries, US defence spending has gone from about a third of total worldwide defence spending to nearly 50 per cent. In other words, we spend almost as much on defence as the planet's remaining countries put together.
Today Dan Rodricks (Baltimore Sun) also notes military spending, "While defense spending in the United States flat-lined for a time, it was always the largest chunk of discretionary spending in the federal budget, and it grew significantly after the Sept. 11 attacks. It grew, by some estimates, 110 percent since the advent of the war on terror and the wars in in Iraq and Afghanistan. We spend more on defense than all other countries combined." The editorial board of the Billings Gazette also notes the large financial drain of the wars, "According to the Congressional Research Service, the United States budgeted spending of $51 billion this year alone on the Iraq War. The Afghan war budget for this fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30, is $119.4 billion. The amount spent on these two wars over the past decade far exceeds the defense cuts contemplated over the coming decade in the deficit-reduction law. War-related costs already total $1.29 trillion for Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom." Press TV (link has text and video) interviews the Washington Peace Center's Paul Mango about the economy and the military. Excerpt.
Press TV: Why doesn't the US right now remove their troops from Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan, is it because of their revenue for their security firms of Blackwater and DynaCorp?

Magno: Well, I'm not sure if it's the private security auxiliaries in particular. Certainly, there are a lot of privateers like that and a lot of military contractors who have a lot of profits at stake and perpetuating permanent warfare in the region. And so that ends up being part of the problem and the willingness of our political personalities. The secretary of defense --and the president capitulate to that-- keeps the problem going forward. We haven't accomplished very much in the region in a decade's time, and we ought to get out of there and save our money and save what is left of our dignity, I suppose. And that's what all the American people want...
Meanwhile Fatima al-Zeheri (Eurasia Review) gives Steve Inskeep a run for the money in the stupidity contest. Like Steve, it's difficult for Fatima to stay up to date on facts. Fatima wants the US to pay Iraqis money. Really? No, the Iraqi government or 'government.' No way in hell. The Iraqi people are not and have not been served by the government the US put in place. When the Iraqis are finally free of the exiled thugs the US forced on them, they have every right to demand payment for lands damaged and lives lost. But Fatima wants to reward -- please grasp this -- the 'government' made up of exiles who advocated for the Iraq War. In other words, Ahmed Chalabi going to get paid by US tax payers. The 'government' is corrupt. That's why so much money is missing, that's why it's ranked so low on the transparency index. That's before you get into Nouri's latest scandal where over a million dollars in contracts were signed with companies . . . including companies that don't exist. And while Nouri blames the Minister of Electricity, others point that Nouri was co-signer on those contracts. I'm all for the US government paying for the damage inflicted by the Iraq War -- provided it is to Iraqis or a legitimate government that they chose and that represents them.
Fatima the Foreign Policy In Focus writer also insists that the US "must clean up the mess that it made." No, stop saying that crap. The US needs to get out of Iraq. Only a ______ idiot or a War Hawk would suggest, that the US "must clean up the mess that it made." We addressed that stupidity back in 2004 with "Should This Marriage Be Saved?"
When you say the US "must clean up the mess that it made," you are saying that the US must remain in Iraq in order to, yes, "clean up the mess." Buy a damn clue. Your stupidity hurts. I can't be nice to you, I can't pretty it up for you or say, "Nice effort." Your stupidity hurts.
Clean up? We've used the "white carpet" example repeatedly in this community. From February 16, 2006:
On the radio earlier tonight (on Pacifica), it was noted that the Iraqi government, in wake of the most recent Abu Ghraib pictures, was asking that all prisoners in US custody be turned over to the Iraqi government. But some well intentioned ones (or "well intentioned" ones) still think our government can "fix" things. As though if we just give Karen Hughes enough time to work out her spin-charms, Iraqis will forget all about the raids, the arrests, the bombings, the tag-sale on their industries and public goods . . . Elaine long ago compared this attitude to a jerk who spilled red wine on her white rug. If you missed that story, it was years ago. Elaine had her first "adult" apartment that she could furnish as she wanted and she thought the most adult thing in the world would be a white rug (white couch, white was the theme of that living room). As soon as she had the entire apartment decorated to her taste, she threw a party. As I remember the jerk, he was drunk off his rear. He was loud and annoying and staggering. At any rate, he spills not a drop of red wine but the entire glass on her carpet. The color drained from Elaine's face. I'll never forget that. I made no attempt to go over because I knew how much Elaine loved that rug (although I think it may have been carpet, check with her). The jerk insisted upon helping and was only spreading the stain (possibly because he was drunk but maybe just because he didn't know what he was doing). Elaine kept telling him to get out of her way and let her clean up the mess. (That's when I went over.) But apparently, the well intent set can't grasp that when you destroy something, people aren't waiting for you to fix it -- they just want you to go. They want you to leave.
Elaine told the story the next day at her site. And she's told it many times before in community newsletters as well as at Rebecca's site in 2005 when she guest blogged for Rebecca:
It's the same attitude that says, "We have to stay now because we have to fix our mess." Because, apparently, the Iraqis are children who can't do anything without wonderful us. We are causing more strife and more tension, enflaming the region. We can't fix the problem we've caused because we haven't changed a damn thing about ourselves. We went over there with the attitude that we had a right to do so. Now we think we have a right to "fix" the problems. The only people we see with rights over in Iraq are Americans. We render the Iraqis invisible (when not portrayed as terrorists). Simple children who need us to fix it.
Have you ever thrown a party? If so, you'll probably be able to relate to this story. After a year in practice, I decided I was going to have my dream home and that, foolishly, included white carpet in the living room. One glass of spilled red wine and that was it for the carpet. But when the person spilled it, I didn't want their help in "cleaning it up." I wanted them to step away and let me try to fix my own carpet. It couldn't be cleaned up so I had to replace it.
So here's my point, we've ruined their white carpet and while they're doing a slow burn over that, we're saying, "Hey, we can fix it." They just want us out already.
If that's too difficult for someone to grasp, I'd suggest they read "
Should This Marriage Be Saved?"
The US needs to leave Iraq. It needs to leave Iraq immediately. If the carpets need cleaned or replace, a bill can be sent. The US does not need to "clean up the mess" -- cleaning up the mess would require the US staying in Iraq even longer. The US needs to leave Iraq and it needs to leave immediately.
That, of course, isn't likely to happen when the US government is in negotiations with the Iraqi government to continue the US military presence beyond December 31, 2011. Al Jazeera and the Christian Science Monitor's Jane Arraf Tweets:
jane arraf
janearraf New #Sadr warning on US troops in #Iraq - interestingly in English, which even English-speaking Sadrists won't speak goo.gl/r33Oa
Xinhua reports Moqtada al-Sadr is yet again bleeting that US troops need to leave Iraq. The tubby terrorist is said to have declared, "Enough of this occupation, terror and abuse. We are not in need of your help. We are able to combat and defeat terrorism and achieve unity." And certainly Moqtada did help unity when his militia helped purge sections of Baghdad during the 2006 and 2007 ethnic cleansing. After awhile, the issue becomes: Are his followers as stupid as he thinks they are? Moqtada always makes these noises and doesn't follow them up. In the US, he'd be a Democrat in the House. Swearing that any day now, any day, he's going to draft a resolution that's going to put Barack on notice and things are going to change.

Moqtada makes these noises all the time. He's done it since, early on in the start of the war, he was elevated (thanks to Iran) from neighborhood thug to leader. You'd think his followers would grasp that he's not doing anything by now. But, hey, some Americans convince themselves that ____ (yes, I am thinking of one in particular) is really about peace and really cares about it and, gosh, if ___ only had more support, the wars would be over.

Moqtada trots out his standard response every time -- when the UN mandate was renewed at the end of 2006, at the end of 2007, when the SOFA was being debated. He's a chatty do-nothing.

Another do-nothing is H.D.S. Greenway whose International Herald Tribune column ("Stop Dithering in Iraq") rightly calls for the US to leave Iraq but wrongly fails to hold Barack accountable for his efforts to keep the US military in Iraq. Greenway whimpers, "I had thought President Obama had already made a decision: U.S. troops out in 2011. But now there is foot dragging on the part of the U.S. military and others in the administration."

I'm sorry, is the Herald Tribune attempting to report a coup? Is Barack no longer president?

Barack Obama is doing what he wants to do with Iraq. It's what Samantha Power spoke of during the campaign (especially when she thought she was off record). Power and Joe Biden were tasked by Barack to supervise Iraq. They are not 'off the reservation' or 'lone wolves.' They are carrying out his orders. It's amazing how pathetic some adults are as they repeatedly demonstrate that they can call out a policy but only if they work overtime to make it appear that this administration policy somehow came to be without Barack's knowledge or permission.

On withdrawal, Margaret Griffiths (Antiwar.com) observes, "On the other hand, if the Americans do leave on schedule, the various militias could make good on threats to attack those Iraqis who assisted U.S. troops. Tens of thousands of Iraqis have worked for the U.S. government or American contractors since the beginning of the occupation. Many have already been killed or are in hiding because of their work. They would like to immigrate to the United States, but proper visas are difficult to win even for them." From Walid Kalaji's "US wants an Iraq stay, indefinitely" (Star):

In the melee of protests surging through most of the Arab world, it is very noticeable that hardly any news concerning the public anger and discontent in Iraq is allowed to flash across the news broadcasts of most TV satellite channels, especially those that sing to the tunes of the US occupying regime and its cohorts. They are busier with the hot issues going on in other arenas such as in Syria and Libya where the old designs of regime change are never ending, as befit the overall picture of a subservient Arab world, in the clutches of Western Imperialism and Zionism.
It is comically perplexing to hear the US officials lamenting the unsubstantiated death toll of 2,000 civilians in Syria over the past five months, while the number of deaths caused so far by the US-led occupation of Iraq has reached almost 1.5 million Iraqis, mostly civilians, besides some 2 million who perished during the sanctions regime to which Iraq was subjected to from 1991 – 2003.
We have not heard any of the said TV lackey mouthpieces lament the daily death of Iraqis at the hands of US troops and their protégées, the Iraqi security forces and the sectarian militias of senior US-backed Iraqi officials. Yet news does filter through various media outlets detailing the daily demonstrations and protests sweeping Iraqi cities and towns in protest at the continuous foreign occupation and the corrupt Iraqi government of Nouri Al-Maliki.

Meanwhile, Aswat al-Iraq reports that Nouri's been given until September 9th to get his house in order. By whom? The paper reports, "The Young Activist, Laith Mohammed Reza, has said on Wednesday that a group of Young Activists have granted the government of Iraq's Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, what it termed as the 'last' chance to present its resignation, due to 'its sectarian policy, suppressing peaceful demonstrations and the press,' or else the Activists would 'launch protest demonstrations, similar to the demonstrations of February 25th last'." The Great Iraqi Revolution posts the following statement:

An announcement to the great people of Iraq and to its youth:
Over the past seven months , the protests and the sit ins that we have participated in have achieved alot more for us than it has for other nations and countries under similar circumstances. One of the most important acievements is the spirit of demonstration and protest against injustice ,which was not a prevalent feature or practice in our society under occupation. It has also succeeded in raising international public awareness about what is happening in Iraq after a long international media blackout which was due to special international interest or reluctance of most governments and media corporations to upset the occuping power .We have thus managed through communal activism to throw a rock into the stagnant pond of international compliance and nonchalance.
During this holy month of Ramadan, we need to begin planning a new start for the Iraqi Revolution starting on the first Friday after Eid Al Fitr on September 9. We call on our beloved Iraqi people , the youth of the revolution and all the angry masses to start a campaign of mobilization of the public towards demonstrating on 9/9 in Tahrir Squara in Baghdad and every where else in the country.
We call upon all Iraqis to use every opportunity that presents itself during this holy month be it in daily intervisits between families in communities , prayer in mosques ,or during other communal events and meetings to promote for this monumental event.
It is the responsibility of every freedom loving Iraqi who wants to live in a country that he can proudly call his own, where corruption is weeded out and dealt with in the most transparent legal way possible , where people have a right to electricity and other utilities , where police and security forces provide safety rather than terror, and where innocent detainees tortured in secret prisons are released and compensated. For those of us who are aspiring for these fundemental rights, going to the streets is the only path for us , the people, to regain our lost rights and to seek compensation and retribution as citizens. Otherwise there is little hope for change any time soon.
August 9, 2011
In today's reported violence, Reuters notes a Baghdad car bombing injured six people, a Baghdad roadside bombing injured eight people, a Baghdad bombing injured three people and in Falluja yesterday, 1 people died in a bombing.
At the start of the week, the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights released [PDF format warning] "2010 Report on Human Rights in Iraq." It's a major report and we're covering each day this week in the snapshots (we covered the prisons in yesterday's snapshot with women and Iraq's LBGT community covered in Monday's snapshot). Today we'll cover media workers who will be called "journalists" by me throughout the rest unless we're quoting from the report. (Stringers in Iraq do far more than stringers are expected to do. Even drivers have had to do far more than drive a vehicle. It's a war zone and everyone's pitched in. They've earned the right to be called "journalists.") I was hoping this week, the media or journalism organizations would weigh in on the proposed law in Iraq to 'protect' journalists. Based on Arabic media, I side with Goran (Change) on the proposal and object to it. It would have been really great if US outlets could have reported on it or journalism organizations could have reviewed it and came out with a position. But apparently, they were all too busy . . . doing . . . nothing. Lots and lots of nothing.
The report covers the year 2010. It asserts that freedom of assembly and expression are important and that they are guaranteed by the Constituion. However, defamation is treated as a criminal act (and in the KRG, just reporting can get you cited for "breeches of peace"). The report fails to mention the best known lawsuit, when Nouri pitched a fit over the Guardian. April 30, 2009, Ghaith Abdul -Ahad reported on how Nouri was the New Saddam based on a wide, wide range of interviews and research. Excerpt from the article:
The charges voiced by the INSI officers are heard, in hushed tones, more and more around Baghdad these days. Critics say Maliki is concentrating power in his office (the office of the prime minister) and his advisers are running "a government inside a government", bypassing ministers and parliament. In his role as commander in chief, he appoints generals as heads of military units without the approval of parliament. The officers, critics say, are all loyal to him. He has created at least one intelligence service, dominated by his clan and party members, and taken two military units - the anti-terrorism unit and the Baghdad brigade - under his direct command. At the same time he has inflated the size of the ministry of national security that is run by one of his allies.
Maliki, who many say was chosen because he was perceived to be weak and without a strong grassroots power base, has managed to outflank everyone: his Shia allies and foes, the Americans who wanted him removed at one time, even the Iranians.
The article -- which also featured friends of Nouri singing his praises ("he is very honest and very organised") -- enraged Little Saddam In May of 2009, Martin Chulov (Guardian) reported, the country's "national intelligence service . . . launched a court action to sue the Guardian." As 2009 wound down, Martin Chulov and Julian Borger (Guardian) reported the newspapers lost the case, "An Iraqi court has ordered the Guardian to pay Nouri al-Maliki damages of 100 m dinar (52,000 British pounds) after supporting a complaint by the Iraqi prime minister's intelligence service that he had been defamed by a Guardian story in April describing him as increasingly autocratic. The ruling ignored testimony by three expert witnesses from the Iraqi journalists' union summoned by the court, who all said that the article was neither defamatory nor insulting and argued that no damages were warranted." Julian Borger (Guardian) reported on the reaction to the Guardian losing the court case, "There was widespread condemnation from around the world today of an Iraqi court ruling fining the Guardian for reporting criticism of the country's prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki. A broad range of leading journalists, Iraq experts, civic society activists and former officials involved in Iraq's postwar reconstruction said the ruling and fine -- for an article quoting intelligence officials as saying Maliki was becoming increasingly authoritarian -- reflected a marked decline in press freedom in Iraq." Charles Tripp (Guardian) offered this analysis:
But it underlines two odd features in the court case. The first is that Maliki was not cited as the injured party, and yet has been awarded unprecedented damages by a supposedly independent Iraqi court. The second is that the article's description of his emergence as a "strong man" of Iraqi politics is not simply accurate, but is part of the very image that he himself has been cultivating for the past couple of years. In order to aspire to this role, he has used some familiar idioms of Iraqi political life, among them the well-known practice of al-targhib wa al-tarhib [perhaps best translated "carrot and stick"]. The Iraqi press has had to tread a fine line if they are to avoid both when reporting Maliki's political ascent.
Throughout 2008 he used the Iraqi armed forces to reconquer the provinces of Iraq, projecting himself as the leader whose only thought was the unity of the country. This was the image he wanted to convey in the January 2009 provincial elections. So to make sure he got a good press, he promised that thousands of journalists would be awarded grants of land for a nominal price, or for free. He was reviving a form of land patronage long used by his predecessors to cement officers, officials and now journalists to their retinue.
Some welcomed it and others were appalled. But for those who persisted in investigating awkward questions, the government had no hesitation in using the courts. More journalists found themselves fighting charges of libel or of endangering national security – a charge levelled at foreign news media, particularly from the Arab world.
And he's only become more of a Little Sadam since then. And the US government has rewarded him for that. It's not about making Iraqi lives better, it's about the US and its allies getting out of Iraq what they want (oil, new markets, etc.). Fortunately for journalism, the case didn't end there. The newspaper appealed. In January, we noted, "Josh Halliday (Guardian) reported in the middle of this month that the Guardian had, on appeal, won in the libel case brought against them by Nouri al-Maliki's Iraqi National Intelligence Service over this article."
The UN report notes, "The appeal court in Wassit Governorate issued a warrant to arrest Sajjad Salim al-Fatlawi, the editor in al-Sada newspaper, on 6 September, after the Wassit Governorate Council and the President of Wassit Appeal Court has sued al-Fatlawi for defemation and slander after he had criticized the executive and judicial authorities in Wassit." July 11, 2010, Iraq's High Judicial Council stated they had created a court just for "media-related cases".
The Journalistic Freedom Observatory, an Iraqi NGO, cautioned against the establishment of this court because Article 95 of the Constitution of Iraq outlaws special or extraordinary courts. An early case handled by the court concerned Ziyad al-Ajily, editor of Aalam newspaper and head of the Journalistic Freedom Observatory, who was sued for damages on 26 September by the Ministry of Youth over an article about a sports complex construction in Basra. The court ruled on 31 October that al-Ajily had not defamed the Ministry and that his article satisfied the citizens' legitimate demands he informed about matters of public interest.
Zooming in on the KRG, the report notes that the KRG Parliament passed the Law of Journalism in 2010 and the report sees pluses to it and minuses as well (offences are efined vaguely and fines are very high)
UNAMI notes with concern that political and other enties appear to use judicial procedures as a tool to discourage media from investigating allegations of bad governance, often seeking disproportionate fines or damages. For example, on 2 August the KDP filed three lawsuits for defeamtion against the newpaper Roznama, its editor-in-chief, and one author. Roznama is funded by the opposition party Corran (Change List) and has accused the KDP and PUK of benefitting from oil smuggling. The KDP also sued three other newspapers, Hawlati, Awene and Levin, for damages, relying on provisions of the ICPC and not on the more liberal KRG Journalism Law.
Turning to the US, Senator Patty Murray is the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee and her office notes this event on Thursday:
(Washington, D.C.) -- On Thursday, August 11th, U.S. Senator Patty Murray, Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs, will hold a listening session to hear from area veterans on local challenges and to discuss her efforts to improve veterans care and benefits nationwide. This will be Senator Murray's first discussion with local veterans as Chairman of the Veterans' Affairs Committee. Senator Murray will use the struggles, stories, and suggestions she hears on Monday to fight for local veterans in Washington, D.C.

WHO: U.S. Senator Patty Murray

Local veterans

WHAT: Veterans listening session with Senator Murray

WHEN: Thursday, August 11th

9:00 AM PT

WHERE: VFW Post 239

190 S. Dora Avenue

Bremerton, WA 98312

Map

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