Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Sequestration" went up last night.
If The Onion hadn't made an ass out of itself last night, Seth's bad jokes probably would be the big news.
Instead it's The Onion using the c-word. About a 9-year-old girl.
I can take Laura Hudson's explanation in Wired of why she thinks it happened.
She's logical and it makes sense.
But, come on, how stupid do you have to be to call a 9-year-old girl the c-word?
This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"
All Iraq News reports that various leaders in and members of Iraqiya reported to Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq's office today for a meet-up to address "the political situation in Iraq and the file of the current demonstrations." Iraqiya is a political slate headed by Ayad Allawi. Along with Allawi, prominent members include Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi and Saleh al-Mutlaq. One prominent member is the country's Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi; however, al-Hashemi wasn't present since Nouri ran him out of the country early last year with charges of 'terrorism.' Iraqiya is a non-sectarian slate. It came in first in the March 20120 elections besting Nouri's own State of Law political slate. A statement from al-Mutlaq notes that Allawi called the meeting and stressed "the importance of answering the demonstrators' demands."
The demonstrators and their demands become more important each week as their numbers grow. Friday, Iraq saw massive demonstrations in the ongoing protests with participants number over 3 million -- especially amazing in a country where that would make an estimated 10% of the population. The BRussells Tribunal and Iraqi Spring Media Center offer two photo essays -- here and here -- on Fridays' demonstrations.
Nouri has his own way of not ignoring the protesters: He spies on them. And Friday, Nouri's forces were taping the protesters. This happened in 2011 as well. And then the protesters began to be targeted not at the protests, but at their homes. The photo is from Iraqi Spring Media Center. Zarzis Thomas (Al Mada) reported Saturday about the Friday Mosul protest where complaints about the treatment of the protesters reached Governor Atheel al-Nujaifi who went down to the square to find out what was going on. Protesters reported that they were being arrested and harassed. al-Nujaifi took down the names of protesters said to have been arrested so his office could follow up. When he was leaving, the governor reports that federal police (they are controlled by Nouri al-Maliki) attempted to attack his car and his security detail to provoke them into exchanging gun fire. He states the federal police deliberately attempted to create a crisis, deliberately attempted an attack on a sitting governor. In addition, Tigris Operation Command (Nouri's force) -- specifically Brigades 46 and 47 -- continue to do house raids in the area.
Nouri's forces attempted to provoke the security detail for the governor of the province into an exchange of gun fire. You would think this would result in some outcry. Instead, in a sign of just how bad things are in Iraq, it barely registers.
National Iraqi News Agency quoted Iraqiya MP Hassan al-Jubouri condemning actions taken Saturday in Mosul, "The Third Army Division in Mosul has shut down the Square protest and blocked access in and out and cut the power, prevented the media from covering the events, and the purpose of this measure is an attempt to get the protesters out of their peaceful protest ."
That action and the incident with Governor Atheel al-Nujaifi may have prompted today's Iraqiya meet-up (Atheel al-Nujaifi is a member of Iraqiya and the brother of Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi). It may also be behind the United Nations sudden desire for meet-ups in Iraq. National Iraq News Agency reports that the UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy to Iraq Martin Kobler met with the Iraqi Minister of Finance Rafie al-Issawi Sunday to discuss various issues. al-Issawi, a member of Iraqiya, states, "the demands of the demonstrators and the importance of meeting them by the government because they are legitimate and constitutional demands." Yesterday, Alsumaria noted that Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi met with Kobler to discuss the crack down on the protesters and the harassment. Anadoln Agency adds, "In a written statement on Sunday, Kobler noted that his meeting with al-Nujaifi covered the issues of human rights and the emergency situation in Iraq." All Iraq News notes that Kobler met with Nouri today. Also today, they note, US Ambassador to Iraq Stephen Beecroft met with Ruz Mahdi Shawis.
The protests were discussed on this week's Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox as Cindy spoke with Iraq War veteran Ross Caputi and with Dr. Dahlia Wasfi. Wasfi and Caputi are with The Justice for Fallujah Project. Excerpt.
Cindy Sheehan: So, Dahlia, I want to ask you this. Of course, we are supposed to praise Obama because he ended the war in Iraq. And part of the problem is that he got a Nobel Peace Prize and people think he's anti-war because he called the war in Iraq "stupid" -- even though he said he's not against war. So what -- you're Iraqi-American, you have family there. What is your sense of where Iraq stands today?
Dr. Dahlia Wasfi: Well I'm -- I'm watching from a distance and I would sort of I think is a reflection of the repression has continued and worsened today in Iraq is that I can't talk politics with my cousins out of fear of anybody listening to the conversations and that there would be repercussions for them because of it. But I think, uhm, yes, technically, there was an official troop withdrawal in 2011 but this does not include the thousands who remain -- US military personnel who remain behind to protect at least the US Embassy. And then there are thousands of mercenaries. And, by my estimations, its the CIA administrators operating out of the Embassy and I'm not sure how many they have -- involving themselves in government affairs and civil affairs in Iraq today. But what we can see now is our legacy from the invasion and occupation -- with the government that came to power during our occupation -- is that these unbelievable degrees of repression -- including arbitrary detentions, torture, rape -- this is ongoing for Iraqi society. And this is what the demonstrations in Iraq are about today. Now, of course, the mainstream media tells us a story that, 'Well this is a Shia government and these are Sunni who are upset with that and so they are rejecting the Shi'ite government.' But from all the news that I'm getting on the ground that this is -- and they put the signs in English for western media that say, 'We are against sectarianism. We reject the tyranny of this government. We reject Nouri al-Maliki. And there's no sectarianism, this is unity.' And also as a result of our invasion, religious groups and their militias that were based in Iran crossed over into Iraq, especially southern Iraq, in the earlier years -- 2003, 2004, 2005 -- and became dominant in the south. And what also happened was under our control of the Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Defense, we installed individuals who would orchestrate the death squads in Iraq. And these individuals like Bayan Jabr also was from Iran, originallly Iraq but was from Iran and was actually a high ranking member, high ranking official of the Bard Brigades. So the structure that is in place in Iraq today is absolutely -- They call it the second part of the occupation. Iraqis know exactly what is going on and they are fighting once again to have their -- basically to have their sovereignty. So this is the legacy that continue today. Most -- most of the west, as far as I can tell, is turning a blind eye to it. But this is a real liberation movement. You can call this a liberation movement. And meanwhile the US administration continues to deal arms with the Iraqi government. So it's same-old-same-old. This is very comparable to the relationship that the United States had with Saddam during the 1980s. And I believe that when Nouri al-Maliki no longer satisfies our agenda in the area then we will have to "liberate" Iraq again. So we'll see what happens. But the people, their slogan is "NO RETREAT." And they have endured enough and are willing to-to -- They have bled for their future in the past.
Please note, that's the first time that the Iraqi protests have been discussed on independent or 'independent' media. Haifa Zangana (Guardian) writes about the protests noting:
The plight of women detainees was the starting point for the mass protests that have spread through many Iraqi provinces since 25 December 2012. Their treatment by the security forces has been a bleeding wound – and one shrouded in secrecy, especially since 2003. Women have been routinely detained as hostages – a tactic to force their male loved ones to surrender to security forces, or confess to crimes ascribed to them. Banners and placards carried by hundreds of thousands of protesters portray images of women behind bars pleading for justice.
[. . .]
No wonder, ten years after the invasion, the Iraqi authorities are accused by US-based Human Rights Watch of "violating with impunity the rights of Iraq's most vulnerable citizens, especially women and detainees". HRW's account is echoed by a report by the Iraqi parliament's own human rights and women, family and children's committees, which found that there are 1,030 women detainees suffering from widespread abuse, including threats of rape.
Responding to these findings, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki threatened to "arrest those members of parliament who had discussed the violence against women detainees". Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Hussain al-Shahristani has acknowledged that there are 13,000 prisoners in custody accused of terror offences, but he only mentioned women detainees in passing:
"We transferred all women prisoners to prisons in their home provinces."Al-Shahristani's statement is one in a long list of contradictory and misleading statements by the regime's most senior officials – from al-Maliki speaking of "not more than a handful of women terrorists", to his contradictory promise that he will pardon all "women detainees who have been arrested without a judicial order or in lieu of a crime committed by some of their male relatives". That assurance was followed by parading nine women, cloaked in black from head to toe, on the official state TV channel, al-Iraqiya, as a gesture of the regime's "good will".
Protesters and Iraqi human rights organizations estimate that there are as many as 5,000 female detainees. The truth is leaking out, drip by drip. A few weeks ago, 168 women detainees were released and there were promises of another 32 waiting to be released. No one accused of torture, rape or abuse has yet been brought to justice.
Drip by drip. Now if only the western media could pick up on it? Instead of avoiding this issue which is at the heart of the protests but never makes it into the wire reports. It shouldn't be that hard to note this reality. In a column for Al Quds (in Arabic), Haifa Zangana ends by noting that the Iraqi Spring began with protests against the prison rapes in Mosul and Anbar Province and that the protests are only becoming more popular because their demands strike a common thread. Bie Kentane (BRussells Tribunal) observes, "Women prisoners have been subjected to torture by electrocution, beatings, and rape by the investigators during interrogation. Often they were arrested instead of their husbands. Some of the women have no idea why they were arrested and imprisoned for many years. Some of the inmates' children were born in prisons. Have a look at these revealing videos. This horrendous situation has been created by the US occupation and is continuing under Maliki's puppet government."
Saturday, NINA reported Nouri al-Maliki declared he would ask the judiciary to condemn (that would be a death sentence) "anyone who talks in sectarianism." Sunday, Kitabat reported that Anbar Province's Sheikh Ahmed Abu Risha has responded that the person resorting to sectarian talk is Nouri al-Maliki himself. Oudai Hatem (Al-Hayat via Al-Monitor) also speaks with Sheikh Abu Risha:
Abu Risha called on Maliki to “sue himself since he is the main promoter of sectarianism and the reason behind the escalating tension in the country.”
Abu Risha was referring to the statements Maliki made two days ago, in which he threatened to sue “promoters of sectarianism,” accusing some countries, without specifying names, of “entrenching sectarianism in Iraq.”
Regarding the extension of the mandatory vacation of al-Iraqiya List ministers, Abu Risha considered that the “participation of al-Iraqiya ministers in the government will transform them into false witnesses; therefore, I call upon them to withdraw from the government. There’s no point in maintaining their participation.”
Information sources closely tied to the prime minister’s office have revealed that “Maliki has issued a decision to extend the mandatory vacation of al-Iraqiya ministers who boycotted the session for another month.”
Abu Risha denied forming a delegation to negotiate with the government, stressing that “the demands have been handed to the government since the first days of demonstrations. Sending more delegations will be in vain; the protests will continue until the government fulfills the demands.”
When he should be dealing with the above, Nouri is instead jotting down to southern Iraq yesterday for an unneeded event/facility. Al Rafidayn reports he went to Basra for the Sports City opening. Iraqis need potable water and dependable electricity, the need a strong rations program, a program that cares for widows and children. We noted this earlier in the month but, again, Iraqi Women Platform For Lasting Peace has called for unity. UNAMI notes this statement from the group:
We urge the women of Iraq, mothers and wives from all across the country, to speak with one powerful voice from now on against violence and violations.
We are Iraqi Women Members of Parliament, and in order to ensure a bright future for the men and women of Iraq, we proclaim that we want no part in the loss of more lives and shedding of more blood. On behalf of the women seeking stability and justice in the country, we declare that only through peace can Iraq be built.
The crisis appears to be complicated, with many parties involved, but we all believe that Iraqi leaders - both women and men - are capable of resolving the crisis and tackling its reasons wisely and consciously.
We reject violence in all its forms. We condemn terrorism and murders all over Iraq. We assert the constitutional rights of the people in peaceful demonstrations. And we further assert the responsibility of the armed forces in protecting the demonstrators and respecting their legitimate prospects.
We express our willingness in active, serious actions: meeting with the demonstrators, listening to the citizens, communicating the demands and institutionalizing and reforming the political and development processes.
We will keep claiming: peace and security for our country. Peace and security for our country.
Again, while he can't address the needs of the Iraqi people, he can rush down to Basra for Sports City.
Iraq Body Count counts 299 violent deaths in Iraq this month through Sunday. Violence today continued. Alsumaria reports that a Mosul suicide car bombing claimed the life of 1 police officer and left five more injured, 2 Mosul roadside bombings left six Iraqi soldiers injured, and a Baghdad sticky bombing has left 2 people injured. All Iraq News notes that the sticky bombing targeted "a key official within the Political Prisoners Establishment" and, though she wasn't injured, they put the number injured at three. In addition, All Iraq News notes a Mosul sticky bombing claimed the life of 1 police officer.
Turning to detention and holding, Nadir Dendoune has not been allowed to leave Iraq. From the January 29th snapshot:
As we noted this morning, Nadir Dendoune, who holds dual Algerian and Australian citizenship was covering Iraq for the fabled French newspaper Le Monde's monthly magazine. His assignment was to document Iraq 10 years after the start of the Iraq War. Alsumaria explains the journalist was grabbed by authorities in Baghdad last week for the 'crime' of taking pictures. (Nouri has imposed a required permit, issued by his government, to 'report' in Iraq.) All Iraq News adds the journalist has been imprisoned for over a week now without charges.
Nadir is the latest journalist to be targeted in Nouri's Iraq. A petition calling for his release has already gathered 15,594 signatures and a Facebook page has been created to show support for him. The Journalistic Freedoms Observatory in Iraq, Reporters Without Borders and The Committee to Protect Journalists have called for his release.
February 14th, it was announced he was released. KUNA reports that today the French Foreign Minister in Paris met with Iraq's Ambassador and, according to spokesperson Philippe Lalliot, they discussed the fact that Nadir remains detained.
In the US last night, Academy Awards were handed out. Al Arabiya runs a photo of actress Catherine Zeta-Jones and her husband actor-producer Michael Douglas and notes the Arab designers whose fashions were worn last night. Links that follow go to photos the dresses worn and info is from the Al Arabiya article. Catherine wore a design by Zuhair Murad who had previously clothed Jennifer Lopez for the 2012 Academy Awards. Eli Saab's previously dressed Angelina Jolie, Halle Berry and Natalie Portman for the awards and this year provided Sandra Bullock's black and lace number. Kristen Stewart sported a dress by Reem Acra. All three designers are Lebanese. In other Academy news, Alsumaria notes Iranian media is calling out Ben Affleck's Argo, stating that it was the CIA version of events and not what actually took place in Iran in 1979. They also see the evening as political and politically planned because US First Lady Michelle Obama presented Argo with the Academy Award for Best Picture.
We're covering the design issue because there were 18 e-mails in Arabic to the public account on the fashions and on the fact that Arab designers were worn. So good for Eli Saab, Reem Acra and Zuhair Murad. We're noting the Argo because it is in the Iraqi media. I have not taken a stand on Argo. I know Ben, he's a great director and I'm very happy for him. We're noting what Iraq media is reporting Iranian media is stating. I'm not attempting to be like the idiot Ed Rampell whose latest garbage for The Progressive is offensive. Is there a reason, Rampell, other than sexism to mention Shirley Bassey's age? Sean Connery's age isn't mentioned -- no one's age is. The rude remarks about Jennifer Garner? We've called out Alias -- Ava and I have criticized Alias many times including for its Deanna Durbin 100 Men And A Girl cast -- for many things but seven years later we're really not ridiculing Jennifer Garner for playing a spy. Nor are we surprised that spies are staples of film. We're not surprised that hookers are either. That Rampell sees a conspiracy that goes all the way back to James Bond's Dr. No? He's a little crazy and not just sexist. And did Tom Hayden really tell Rampell this:
Ironically, another of the evening’s award presenters was that icon of the Hollywood Left, two-time Oscar winner Jane Fonda, Hayden’s former wife. As the Chicago Seven alum told The Progressive, “the CIA had files on both of us,” because of the couple’s activism and, presumably, Fonda’s influence in movies, with films such as 1979’s anti-nuclear “The China Syndrome” and the 1978 antiwar feature “Coming Home” and the suppressed 1972 anti-Vietnam War documentary “FTA.”
First, it's cute the way he leaves out 9 to 5 -- which is a very political film and grossed more than all three of the ones he lists. On-site day care, flexible shifts, equal access to training and promotion, etc. -- it's not just a funny film, it's probably Jane's most political film.
Second, it was the Justice Department that kept the most files on Jane Fonda. They spied on her illegally. She sued and -- in what she called a moral victory -- in 1979 they promised never to spy on an American citizen without cause (then they got The Patriot Act and it no longer mattered apparently). But Jane brought her lawsuit -- Tom didn't sue -- after reporter Jack Anderson passed on some things to her. I bring that up because we're talking 1974. Now surely the CIA did spy on her. And maybe they even did so after 1974. I've never heard that charge made. It seems really dumb because you didn't need to pay rats and creeps to attend her speeches by the second half of the seventies -- she and Tom were on Meet The Press discussing the dangers of nuclear power plants. It seems really dumb to do so when you're dealing with someone who is suing one agency already. It seems really dumb when you're dealing with someone who is largely in the US by that point. For the record, the FBI is known to have spied on Fonda as was Defense Dept intelligence -- military intelligence and by the IRS. The last one opened an investigation into her and others working with GI resistance -- GI Coffee Houses, etc. I don't know why Rampell is emphasizing CIA over the rest other than he probably doesn't know what he's talking about. All the spying was invasive.
I don't disagree that the CIA and the entertainment industry are too cozy. But I also believe the left is far too cozy with the CIA as well. (Disclosure, as Elaine's detailed at her site, there was an attempt to recruit me for the CIA. I was offended, this was back in college, and left the meet-up. I had not been told this was about the CIA and really hadn't been told anything by the professor who arranged the lunch. The professor, by the way, is still a big name today and sometimes I think I'll out him here before he dies and sometimes I think I'll just wait until he dies and all the left periodicals have enshrined him to write a piece here called "When ___ Helped Try To Recruit Me For The CIA?" For now, his image is semi-safe.) But I think Rampall's an idiot and always has been. And sentences like the following don't make me re-think that judgment:
There’s a good reason why the spies who dupe us with propaganda disguised as mass entertainment haven’t been played in onscreen dramas by, say, Jerry Lewis, Karl Malden or Melissa McCarthy.
Jerry Lewis hasn't appeared in many dramas period, has he? Nor has Melissa. You're kind of stacking the deck aren't you? Mike Myers has played Austin Powers. I don't see how that acted as a recruiting poster for anything but time machines. Equally true Elliott Gould and Donald Sutherland starred in S*P*Y*S in 1974 and weren't trying to recruit. Robert Redford played a spy in 1975's Three Days of the Condor, 1992's Sneakers, 2001's Spy Game. I don't know anyone who would accuse any of the three of attempting to take part in pro-CIA propaganda. Spies have been a staple of film since its inception. If Rampell has a charge to make, he should make it. I don't care if he backs it up or not. But his awful column for The Progressive reads like, "Here I will name the names of a lot of performers I don't like and ignore the ones I do -- like Redford -- while pretending I'm just appalled by CIA on film." And let's remember that Bond isn't in the US in most features so he's not working with CIA agents in most films. Being British, he is, of course, not a CIA agent. By the time Rampell's typing -- I'm not joking -- "La La Land," there's really no reason to even pretend to take him seriously. Yes, Jiminy Glick calls it that. But Jimney Glick is a hilarious character created by Martin Short.
The increasingly laughable Progressive has plenty of time for the Academy Awards -- even an uninformed audio commentary -- but they can't mention Bradley Manning. They couldn't last week before the protests and they can't now after the protests.
But others did cover the protests that took place over the weekend. Anna Leach (Gay Star News) reports, "Rallies in 70 cities around the world marked the 1,000 day that Bradley Manning, the gay US soldier who allegedly released hundreds of thousands of confidential army documents to Wikileaks, has been held in prison by the American government." The Voice of Russia notes that rallies took place in the "US, UK, Canada, across Europe, and as reaching as far as South Korea and Australia." David Lin (Washington Square News) explains, "On Tuesday in Fort Meade, Md., a judge will decide whether to dismiss the Manning case based on lack of speedy trial." In an opinion piece, Erin Niemela (Las Vegas Informer) argues, "Give Bradley Manning his due process – that’s the least of what he deserves. Better yet, free him. Show the world that America stands for accountability, integrity, and human rights. Unlike depriving a person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, whistleblowing is not, and should not be, a crime."
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 before the November 2012 election but it was postponed until after the election so that Barack wouldn't have to run on a record of his actual actions. Independent.ie adds, "A court martial is set to be held in June at Ford Meade in Maryland, with supporters treating him as a hero, but opponents describing him as a traitor."
Liisa Wale (Arizona Community Press) reports on a local rally (text and photos) noting:
Here in Arizona rallies in support of Manning where held in Tempe and Tucson. The Tempe rally took place at the corner of Mill and University following the Local to Global Forum on Saturday. There was chanting “Free Bradley Manning” and some horn honking by passing traffic. It was a spirited rally and provided an opportunity to educate and provide updates to those that stopped to talk.
CBS St. Louis notes that local Veterans for Peace members held a demonstration and quotes Reese Forbes stating, "He violated regulations, but that was for a higher purpose. The time served now is enough." Tess Scheflan (Activestills.org) has a photo of the Boston action Saturday. Today Chuck Rosina files a report on the Boston protest for Free Speech Radio News:
Crowd: Free Bradley Manning! Free Bradley Manning! Free Bradley Manning!
Woman 1: The only thing that Bradley Manning has done is to tell the American people the truth about our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. And we do not consider that a crime. It is not a crime to expose War Crimes. We think the people who did those War Crimes are the ones who should be in jail, not Bradley Manning.
Man 1: So the point is we have to begin a campaign and we've been doing that for the last several months starting last summer to call on the President of the United States -- who has the authority to do so under Article II, Section II of the Constitution -- to pardon Bradley Manning. Now he could do it today. The reality is, no, it's not going to happen. But he can do it on his own authority as the President of the United States.
Justin D'Addario: This is Justin D'Addario. I'll make this short and sweet. I was in the US Army for 3 years and four months. I served in Iraq and Afghanistan. I am telling you right now, Bradley Manning speaks the truth. Things happened over there. It's not like a war zone at all, it's more like a police state. My job over there was to look for IEDs, to look for roadside bombs. They told us always have your eyes open, always be on the lookout for things that might hurt you. I feel like I was the only one over there who really had my eyes open. Everybody else says, 'Oh, we're over there to fight for our freedoms.' But the people taking away our freedoms are not the ones over there, they're the ones right here. Free Bradley Manning!
Male Veteran: You know it's my obligation as a veteran. I swore to uphold the Constitution from all enemies -- foreign and domestic. As far as I'm concerned, the people keeping Bradley Manning in jail are a domestic enemy. But I'm saying this stuff. I know what I saw over there.
[. . .]
Man 2: He's like the Daniel Ellsberg of our time and he's certainly let us know information that we need to know about the conduct in the war in Iraq.
Woman 2: And so we've got to stand up for Bradley Manning because he stood up for the truth and this is the 1000th day that he's been in jail now with no trial. And his trial won't be until June. But we certainly hope that they don't put him away for life like they're trying to.
Crowd: Free Bradley Manning! Free Bradley Manning! Free Bradley Manning!
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