Friday, August 17, 2012

6 men, 2 women

Today's Talk of the Nation (NPR) featured (as guests)  Eric Topol, George Hawkins, Martin Melosi, Michael Hoffman, Gary Nabel, Maria Popova, Danica McKellar and Michael McDonald.

Danica McKellar is now the author of several books that help people understand math.  Her target audience is teenage girls. She was a very famous teenage girl in the 80s and early 90s.  That's when she played Winnie Cooper on The Wonder Years.

For some reason, until tonight, I've always thought she was married to Pete Sampras, the tennis pro.

And I've thought she has a really good soul as a result because Pete was hotter than hot in the 90s but, like Mel Gibson, the years have not been kind to Pete. 

But Pete is actually married to actress Bridgette Wilson who has made many films but who I don't believe I've seen in anything except for I Know What You Did Last Summer.  It says she played Sarah Michelle Gellar's sister in that.  So she was the pouty older sister who was jealous of SMG.

That is the character in the book.  I'm not picking on Wilson's performance.  She did a great job in the role.  It was just two or three scenes in the movie (it's a bigger part in Lois Duncan's book, if I remember correctly) and Wilson made the character believable and memorable.  I don't think I've seen it since before the sequel came out.  I remember before the sequel with Brandy, I rented it out of fear I might miss the complexities (yes, I really believed the sequel would have some -- no, it didn't).  So that's been fifteen years probably.  And I still remember the character.  Bridgette Wilson did a great job in the role. 

You know who didn't do a great job?  Barack Obama.

Read the snapshot in a second but let me weigh in with how disgusting.  A group of people -- including at least two veterans -- did a sit-in at Barack's Oakland campaign office.  They wanted a pardon for Bradley.  Guess what the staffers did?

They attacked the people.  They screamed, yelled, raised chairs in the air, shoved them, knocked them to the ground.

That's disgusting.  Barack Obama is even more disgusting because he hasn't apologized or anything.  How disgusting.

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

Friday, August 17, 2012.  Chaos and violence continue, Barack's Oakland campaign includes staff that attacked veterans yesterday, Iraqis bury their dead after the second most violent day of the year yesterday, the stalemate continues in Iraq,  the suicide epidemic continues in the US military, Adam Kokesh and Bruce Dixon fact check Barack on Iraq, Jill Stein talks about writing off all student loan debt in the US, and more.
Yesterday in Oakland some veterans were attacked in public.  The attack took place at Barack Obama's Oakland campaign office and it was Barack's staff that attacked the veterans.  One female volunteer had the intelligence to see how badly attacking anyone -- let alone veterans -- looked and she demanded that all campaign workers follow her to the back.  Prior to that, some staff (I'm sure that's paid staff and volunteers) did attack veterans, pushed them, shoved them, attempted to grab their camera and who knows what else.  And they scream and yell, "Get out of here! Get out of here!"    It was an ugly look at what happens when reality walks in the door and the devoted can't take it so they attack.  Everyone but the woman who called everyone to the back should be removed from the campaign.  That behavior was outragous.  The campaign should issue an apology for the assault on veterans.  You can see the tape US News & World Reports has posted.  It's not pretty. When the police use tactics like that, we are appalled.  There is no excuse for campaign staff (paid or volunteer) to behave that way.
Those inside the office included Iraq Veterans Against the War's Joshua Shephard and Scott Olsen -- both of whom were also participants of Occupy Oakland. Scott, is of course, the veteran whose encounter with Oakland police resulted in a fractured skull (among other injuries) and the world was outraged.  If the camera hadn't been there yesterday, how far would it have gone?  Supposedly chairs were also wielded against the veterans?  That's not in the video (the camera operator is knocked to the floor at one point and who knows what happened during that period).  When Olson was attacked in 2011, it prompted a review by the Oakland police into their policies.  Something similar needs to happen to Barack's Oakland office and Barack needs to issue a public apology to veterans.  (Will he? I doubt it.  He's always the first to scream at others for a supposed insult but the last to offer an apology.  That was the pattern as candidate in 2007 and 2008 and it's remained the pattern -- as we saw most recently with regards to Poland.)
Veterans are not props.  Politicians love to use veterans to shore up their own shoddy credentials. Those who have been happy to utilize (use) them for their campaigns should have the maturity to apologize publicly when an incident like what took place in Oakland goes down.
Joshua Shepherd: We're calling for a full pardon of Bradley Manning as well as an apology for Obama's statement that declared Bradley Manning was guilty before he faced any judicial proceedings.  You know the military judicial system is not quite as fair as the civilian but it is, you know there are certain measures and a minimum level of justice and due process that is required.  And the Obama administration has presided over this obliteration of that system and much to Bradley's deteriment.
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 3, 2012, 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.  His court-martial was to take place next month but has been pushed back to February.
The San Jose Mercury News has a photo essay of the protest (photos by Ray Chavez)Kristin J. Bender (Oakland Tribune) reports there were sixty protesters outside and seven inside and that the protest "ended peacefully late Thursday, with a handful of arrests."  World Can't Wait posts KTVU's reportBay City News covers it hereCedric's "Now if we can just replicate the Oakland spirit" and Wally's "THIS JUST IN! OAKLAND'S GOT SPINE!" noted the protest this morning.

Outside the headquarters a woman explained, "American troops are being killed all over Asia and the Middle East.  American troops suicide rate is higher right now than combat deaths.  There's a reason for that."
Yesterday the Pentagon announced, "The Army released suicide data today for the month of July.  During July, among active-duty soldiers, there were 26 potential suicides:  one has been confirmed as suicide and 25 remain under investigation.  For June, the Army reported 11 potential suicides among active-duty soldiers; since the release of that report, one case has been added for a total of 12 cases:  two have been confirmed as suicides and 10 remain under investigation.  For 2012, there have been 116 potential active-duty suicides:  66 have been confirmed as suicides and 50 remain under investigation.  Active-duty suicide number for 2011:  165 confirmed as suicides and no cases under investigation.  During July, among reserve component soldiers who were not on active duty, there were 12 potential suicides (nine Army National Guard and three Army Reserve):  one has been confirmed as suicide and 11 remain under investigation.  For June, among that same group, the Army reported 12 potential suicides (nine Army National Guard and three Army Reserve):  seven have been confirmed as suicides and five remain under investigation.  The Army previously reported 10 Army National Guard and two Army Reserve cases for June."
Leon Panetta is the Secretary of Defense.  July 25th, he appeared before the House Veterans Affairs Committee. From that day's snapshot:

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

Secretary Leon Panetta: You know -- Obviously, there's no silver bullet here.  I wish there were to try to deal with suicide prevention.  We-we have a new suicide prevention office that's trying to look at programs  to try to address this terrible epedemic. I  mean, we are looking.  If you look at just the numbers, recent total are you've got about 104  confirmed and 102 pending investigation in 2012.  The total of this is high, almost 206.  That's nearly one a day.  That is an epedemic.  Something is wrong.  Part of this is people are inhibited because they don't want to get the care that they probably need. So that's part of the problem, trying to get the help that's necessary.  Two, to give them access to the kind of care that they need.  But three -- and, again, I stress this because I see this in a number of other areas, dealing with good discipline and good order and, uh, trying to make sure that our troops are responding to the challenges -- it is the leadership in the field.  It's the platoon commander.  It's the platoon sergeant.  It's the company commander. It's the company sergeant.  The ability to look at their people, to see these problems.  To get ahead of it and to be able to ensure that when you spot the problems, you're moving that individual to the kind of-of assistance that they need in order to prevent it.  The Marines stay in close touch with their people.  That's probably one of the reasons that the Marines are doing a good job.  But what we're stressing in the other services is to try to develop that-that training of the command.  So that they two are able to respond to these kinds of challenges. 

US House Rep Mac Thornberry also raised the issue of suicides, noting Time magazine's recent cover story (July 23rd issue), Mark Thompson &; Nancy Gibbs' "One A Day: Every day, one U.S. soldier commits suicide.  Why the military can't defeat its most insidious enemy."  He raised the issue of "33% of all military suicides have never deployed overseas at all and 43% had deployed once."  Panetta confirmed that statistic from the article was accurate.  Panetta argued that suicide is on the rise "in the larger society" and that this is reflected within the military. 
Today Rebecca Ruiz (NBC News) emphasizes this point on the latest suspected suicides, "Bruce Shahbaz, a medical analyst on the Army's Suicide Prevention Task Force, told Time that experts did notice the deaths of non-commissioned officers outnumbered those of junior enlisted members for the first time since 2001."   Mark Thompson (Time magazine) adds, "The Army has been fighting suicides when they were occurring at the rate of nearly one a day -- in fact, that was the cover line on a Time story last month into the vexing problem of soldiers killing themselves after a decade of war. But July's 38 likely suicides spread over the month's 31 days works out to almost 1.25 suicides a day."   For service members in need, there is Military One Source which does include a crisis hotline 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255).   There is also online counseling.
But Military One Source doesn't always work for service members as yesterday's report by David Martin (CBS Evening News) noted utilizing a talk Rebecca Morrsion gave in June at the annual DoD and VA suicide conference in which she spoke of her husband Capt Ian Morrison taking his own life, how he went to two different clinics but received no help and how he then dialed Military One Source, "He was on hold with Military One Source for over an hour before he hung up."  Greg Jaffe (Washington Post) quotes mental health social worker and the wife of a Marine who took his own life seven years ago Kim Ruocco stating, "The military really is trying hard.  But we need more money, more resources, and we need to make mental health care a higher priority.  There are still too many gaps in care and too long of waits for soldiers seeking care."
Justin Moyer (Washington Post) reports on a University of Utah study entitled "Reasons for Suicide Attempts in a Clinical Sample of Active Duty Soldiers."  The paper argues, "Explicit skills training in alternative behaviors that serve an emotion regulation function (e.g. mindfulness, relaxation, cognitive restructuring) could replace the use of suicidal behaviors for this same purpose."  Katie Drummond (Forbes) notes, " Analysts suspect that as troops draw-down from combat zones overseas, more veteran soldiers -- many of whom have been deploying consistently since the dawn of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan -- are struggling to reintegrate into civilian life."
Jamie Crawford (CNN) quotes the Vice Chief of Staff of the Army, Gen Lloyd Austin,  "Suicide is the toughest enemy I have faced in my 37 years in the Army. And it's an enemy that's killing not just Soldiers, but tens of thousands of Americans every year.  That said, I do believe suicide is preventable. To combat it effectively will require sophisticated solutions aimed at helping individuals to build resiliency and strengthen their life coping skills." 
In Iraq, Adam Schreck (AP) notes, families were burying yesterday's victims: "Dozens of people carried the coffins of relatives through the streets of the neighborhood Friday.  Some mourners wept, while others sought solace by chanting 'God is Great'."  Yesterday, Iraq was slammed with a wave of violence.  Today the numbers are still rising.  AP earlier reported 59 died from yesterday's bombings and shootings.  But Iraqi officials later claimed the death toll was 93.  Thursday was the second largest death toll day since Decembr.  Al Mada notes the wave of violence and that the dead included at least one child (Kirkuk home bombing).  Alsumaria reports that a Nineveh Province citizen's council is blaming the Ministry of Health for the death of many wounded.  Why?  They state that the Ministry has inadequately funded the hospitals leading to a lack of doctors and ambulances which resulted in a number of wounded whom they feel should have survived the attacks instead ending up among the dead.  The Minister of Health is Dr. Majeed Jamil.  Alsumaria also notes that others, including a member of the Parliament's Security and Defense Committee, are calling out the security plan.  France's Foreign Ministry issued the following statement today:
France condemns in the strongest possible terms the attacks carried out on Thursday throughout the country, which took the lives of more than 50 people and injured more than 200.
It offers its condolences to the Iraqi people and the families of the victims, and expresses its solidarity with the Iraqi authorities in their fight against terrorism
France stands by Iraq's side and reaffirms its full support for the Iraqi government, which is engaged in an effort to promote recovery, stability and security. It has decided at the highest level to support Iraq in its stabilization and reconstruction process. This commitment, which we are determined to fulfill, has translated notably into programs to provide training in law, security and governance. It represents one of our priorities in our cooperation with Iraq. We are ready to study any additional requests by the Iraqi authorities in this area.
I am appalled at the wave of heinous attacks that shook the country throughout the day yesterday," said Mr. Kobler, who extended his condolences to the families of those killed and wished a speedy recover for the wounded.
Noting that the attacks coincided with the onset of Eid al-Fitr, the Muslim holiday marking the end of Ramadan, Mr. Kobler also condemned the violence for disrupting the spirit of peace associated with one of the holiest days in the Muslim calendar.

Possibly in response to yesterday's violence, it's been announced that there will be over 8,000 security forces in Diwaniya for Eid al-Fitr.

The political crisis continues in Iraq and the 'Reform Commission' -- now just a list -- becomes more laughable each day.  The Sadr bloc notes that a piece of paper is not going to solve the ongoing crisisAl Mada reports that State of Law is stating that they did not bother to address the issue of the three presidencies.  That's Speaker of Parliament, President of Iraq and Prime Minister.  It's not a minor issue.  It's one State of Law has hissed at publicly when others raised it -- Moqtada al-Sadr, Ayad Allawi and Massoud Barzani among others have raised.  Nouri has had two terms and, in Februrary 2011, announced he would not seek a third term when rulers in the region were being forced out of office.  He quickly took back that promise and his attorney has told the press repeatedly that Nouri can seek a third term.   If Nouri doesn't try for a third term, State of Law loses the office because they have no other name leader -- they're a motley band of has-beens and strugglers who've made no real impact on the political scene.  And they know Moqtada al-Sadr wants to be prime minister as does the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq's Ammar al-Hakim and Adil Abdul-Mahdi and Ibrahaim al-Jaafari (for al-Jaafari, it would be a second term as prime minister) so if Nouri can't have a third term, short of poaching from a rival political slate, State of Law stands a good chance of petering out.

All Iraq News notes that Arshad Salhi, head of the Turkmen Front, has stated that the three presidencies, the Cabinet ministers and the MPs should all hold a meeting to address the situation in Iraq and that the meeting should continue until all can reach a shared solution on what needs to be done. Al Mada notes that ISCI states meetings will be held following Eid al-Fitr.  Still hiding out in Germany, Jalal Talabani issued a statement hailing the 'progress' on the political crisis, Alsumaria notes.

As All Iraq News notes, there continues to be disagreement about the composition of the Electoral Commission.  This was supposed to have been decided long, long ago.  And a law passed.  Elections are supposed to take place in March of next year (provincial elections).  The Parliament recently extended the 'current' commission by 35 days while they continue working on the new law.  ('Current' written that way because before they were extended, their terms really had ended.) The National Alliance's Qassim al-Araji states that the commission should be expanded (increase the number of members) and he criticized those who are opposing this move.
Turning to the White House.  Fauxgressives for Obama surfaced again.  Mike called them out in "2 Dumb Whores: Carl Davidson - Bill Fletcher Jr.."   At Black Agenda Report, Bruce Dixon takes on the 'logic' put forward by Davidson and Fletcher:
Fletcher & Davidson credit Obama with taking the troops out of Iraq.
This is an outright lie, as more than a hundred thousand US – financed mercenaries remain in Iraq indefinitely, and the Obama White House fought till the last minute to get its Iraqi client state to set aside the Status of Forces agreement negotiated under the Bush administration which required all official US forces to leave the country.
Adam Kokesh:  "Number Two.  He ended the war in Iraq and is drawing the war in Afghanistan to a close.  Like he said he would."  Holy f**king s**t, this is pathetic. If you're anti-war, if you understand that war is just a f**king embarrassment -- and I do because I'm a veteran, I was in Falluja in 2004, I get it.  Yeah, war is a racket, just like Major General Smedley Butler said,  always has been, always will be.  So here's the thing.  You're going to support a guy who's 'ending the war in Iraq' was actually attempting to keep it going longer than we would have had it end under the Bush plan?  Now when he [Barack] took office, there was the Bush plan [SOFA] in place and he [Barack] promised to end the war immediately but instead did everything in his power to extend the Bush plan.  And as it was, what we got with Obama, in terms of Iraq policy was exactly what we would have had under Bush except it looked worse and was more two-faced. Yeah.  Afghanistan?  He's bringing Afghanistan to a close?  Yeah, after a surge.  That's like saying to someone who's-who's robbing your house, "Oh, can you only just clear out one more room before you stop robbing me?" I mean are you serious? This is like, this is a feather in Obama's cap that he's bringing the war in Afghanistan to a close after sending in a surge of 30,000 troops on top of the 100,000 that were already there?  And now keeping the 100,000 that were already there as long as he can possibly get away with?  That's your idea of ending a war?  That's like shoving that guy out of your house who's robbing you and saying, "Thank you for leaving."
While it isn't her official title, Dr. Jill Stein sure sounds like the first presidential candidate of the Occupy Wall Street movement.
Stein, technically the Green Party nominee, is running a longshot but aggressive campaign against a political system she feels has capitulated to corporate interests.
She sees no difference between the Democratic and Republican parties, and she thinks voters are tired of both of them. So she's calling for a "voter rebellion."
"We must occupy our elections just as we must occupy our banks and our schools and everything else," Stein said in an interview during a visit to Seattle to speak at Hempfest, in addition to other events. "Because they belong to us."
Ross Reynolds:  And you're certainly putting forward some proposals that we're not hearing from the major candidates.  Among them, a plan to forgive current student loan debt.  Now I saw that it was 904 billion dollars in the first quarter of 2012.  Are you talking about forgiving all of that debt?  And who's going to pay for it?
Jill Stein: Yeah.  I mean, we are talking about a trillion dollars worth of student debt.  We found a way to forgive much more than that from the bankers who caused this problem with the waste, fraud and abuse on Wall Street.  We think that the students who are the victims of this waste, fraud and abuse ought to have equal forgiveness.  So there are a variety of ways to do it.  There are some proposals that we do in other quantative easing but it's time to do it for student debt rather than motrgate debt.  There are a variety of solutions.  I can't say that we're dedicated to any one of them at this point but I think in principle it's really important that we bail out the students for all kinds of reasons.  Our economy depends upon it.  They are endentured servants basically.  In order to move forward, we need to get them out of debt.
Ross Reynolds: You've talked about a plan to create 25 million jobs.  That's huge.  Where would the money come from to pay for that?
Jill Stein:  In short, the money would come from downsizing the military. We're spending a trillion dollars a year now in this bloated military-industrial-security complex.  That has been doubled over about the last ten years.  Certainly without doubling our security in many ways.  We are just as insecure as ever -- dropping bombs on funerals and weddings out of our drones which are proliferating madly.  This does not buy us security. Over a thousand military bases scattered in over 100 countries around the world.  Indeed, the trillions that we spent on Afghanistan and Iraq have not made us more secure, they've not made Iraq and Afghanistan more secure, they continue to teeter on the brink of civil war.  So much of the money would come from the military, much of it would come from taxing Wall Street -- a Wall Street transaction tax, also known as a Robin Hood tax which would be a good in of itself for discouraging reckless Wall Street speculation.  We're also looking at health care as a human right which actually saves us money. Trillions of dollars  over the coming decade would be saved not only by reducing the massive health insurance bureaucracy but also by stabilizing medical inflation.
On 2012 Labor Day-Enough Is Enough-Nationalize Chevron Under Worker-Community 
Control and Prosecute The Criminals Running This Out Of Control Empire.

Rally & Press Conference in Front of Richmond Chevron Refinery

Contact: Steve Zeltzer:
 Monday September 3, 2012 10:00 AM
841 Chevron Way, Richmond California 94801

Speakers from union and community.

Cindy Sheehan, Peace and Freedom Party Candidate For Vice President of the United States
Charles Smith, Richmond Resident and AFSCME 444 Delegate To Alameda Labor Council and United Public Workers For Action UPWA
Mark Mason, San Pablo Bay Ecological Preservation Association
Mary Flanagan, Richmond Teacher, Member of United Teachers Of Richmond UTR
Charles Rachlis, Industrial Hygienist/UPWA

The explosion and fire at the Chevron Richmond refinery is a man made disaster for the workers and community
in Richmond and the East Bay. It was caused by the criminal negligence of the Chevron corporation
which did not want to replace a worn gas pipe to save more money for the corporation. They continually
violate the environmental regulation and rules as well as OSHA rules and yet there are no serious actions taken
against them by these agencies and both the California government and US government. 
This is for a company that made $26.9 billion last year.

The continuing contamination with 30% of the children of Richmond having Asthma and many other diseases
is unacceptable and an outrage to me and that is why I and Roseann Barr are calling for the immediate
seizure and nationalization of the Chevron refinery and other oil companies and for them to be run by workers and for the community and
people of California. This is not only a problem at Chevron but the many other refineries in California and the US.

We the people of the United States cannot be terrorized by these outfits like Chevron who pollute the world
and then terrorize people in the United States by their refusal to do proper maintenance on the refineries
here in the bay area and throughout the United States.
We support that the profits from a nationalized refinery be immediately put to use to prevent further
accidents, for the establishment of free healthcare for the people of Richmond and and for the funding
of education for the children of Richmond.
We are also calling for the criminal prosecution of Chevron managers, executives and owners for putting
the residents and workers in deadly danger and causing illness through their drive for profit.
We support a major program of the development of alternative energy sources including solar which should
be required on all new construction in the California and the US and a massive government funded program
for all housing in the state and the country along with mass transportation to limit the use of oil for automobiles.

We also condemn the silence of Governor Brown and the Obama administration about these continuing
man made disasters and the refusal to call for the criminal prosecution of these corporations.
In California Governor Brown has put the OSHA health and safety inspectors on furloughs even though they
are not paid for by the state budget and the 182 inspectors are not enough to properly protect the 18 million workers
of California.
On Labor Day September 3, I will be joining labor and community and environmental activists  at the Chevron Refinery to
in Richmond to call for the refinery to be nationalized and for it to be run by the workers for the benefit of the workers and
We cannot afford another Chevron disaster. Enough is Enough.


Thursday, August 16, 2012

4 women, 1 man

Today on Talk of the Nation (NPR), the guests were Dr. Rhonda Randall, Fernando Torres-Gil, Sister Mary Hughes, Oksana Marafloti and Brooke Runnette.

If you really want to be depressed, click here for an NPR story about how CNN is changing for ratings. Great, another cable cess pool.

Just what TV needed.

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

Thursday, August 16, 2012.  Chaos and violence continue, a State of Law MP goes on TV to blame the Kurds for today's wave of violence, Julian Assange and Ecuador steal focus, Camp Ashraf, Jill Stein and Roseanne Barr, and more.
We're dropping back to November 28, 2010 for a moment from the KPFA Evening News:

Anthony Fest: The whistle blower website WikiLeaks released another trove of confidential documents today. Last month WikiLeaks released thousands of Pentagon documents most associated with the US occupation of Iraq. In contrast, the documents made public today include thousands of diplomatic cables -- communications between the State Dept and Washington and US consulates all around the world. The documents cover both the George W. Bush and the Barack Obama administrations. WikiLeaks gave an advance look at the documents to several media organizations including the New York Times and the British newspaper the Guardian. Those publications now have articles on their websites analyzing the documents. WikiLeaks says it will post the documents on its own website in the coming days although it has said its site was the target of a cyber attack today. The documents release is certain to provoke tension between the US and its allies. For example, some of the cables say that Saudi donors are the largest financiers of terror groups. Other cables detail the cover-up of US military activities. One of them records a meeting last January between US Gen David Petreaus and the president of Yemen about air attacks against rebels in Yemen. The president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, tells Petraeus, "We'll continue to say they are our bombs and not yours." According to the Guardian, the documents reveal that some Arab leaders had privately urged an air attack against Iran and that US officials had been instructed to spy on the United Nations' leadership. Among the other disclosures are deep fears in Washington and London about the security of Paksitan's nuclear weapons. Another document asserts massive corruption at high levels of the Afghanistan government saying the Afghan vice president traveled to the United Arab Emirates carrying $52 million in cash. Still other documents disparage the British military in Afghanistan.
In 2010, WikiLeaks was still doing major releases.  In fact, that was probably the high water mark for WikiLeaks.  Already,  Monday April 5, 2010, WikiLeaks had 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. Still in 2010,  June 7, 2010, the US military announced that they had arrested Bradley Manning and he stood accused of being the leaker of the video. And that was part of the change.  At that point, the head of WikiLeaks and the face of WikiLeaks to the media and the world, Julian Assange, was stating that they didn't know who the leaker was (that leaked the material to them).  Ever since, Julian Assange has lived on the defensive.
Today he's in the news cycle because Ecuador is offering him asylum. 
If the last four years have taught those of us on the left anything, it should have taught us that there is no excuse or justification to whore for one person, that we either stand up for what we believe in and do so truthfully or we're liars in the eyes of the whole country.
I like Michael Ratner but his Julian Assange commentary has been less than honest for some time.  Today Assange was the topic of a segment on the lousy show Democracy Now! and Michael Ratner fell to the program's low level.
Ecuador has granted asylum to Julian Assange which is pretty much conditional
 upon his getting out of England or else hoping to live in the Ecuador Embassy in the UK.  Michael Ratner wants to assert that Ecuador is "doing what was legally required here."  That is incorrect.  That is a falsehood.  As someone who has repeatedly advocated for Canada to grant asylum to US war resisters, I have never argued that Canada had to do so or that they were legally required to.  Because they weren't.  No country is required to grant someone asylum.  That is why cases for asylum are argued.
There are enough lies out there with regards to the Julian Assange case.  More do not need to be put out there. It is also dishonest for Michael to assert claims to legal rights of asylum when stating that the UK needs to back off.  Julian Assange was released on bail.  He is in violation of British law currently. 
You can assert that B means we follow the law while ignore the earlier event (A).  But when you assert that, you look like you are eithter uninformed or dishonest to anyone who knows the actual details.  In addition, you make others look foolish for believing you.  Kimberly Wilder (On The Wilder Side) is an intelligent and caring person.  And she believed she could trust that 'trusted voices' were telling the truth.  She has outraged several who have e-mailed this site about her comments regarding the accusations against Julian Assange in Sweden.  Her pithy claim that they wouldn't even be crimes in the US is embarrassing.  It appears that the Grand Idiot Naomi Wolf has influenced Wilder's take (either through reading or hearing Wolf or hearing others repeat Wofl's arguments).  Here's a tip for every woman in the US, when it comes to rape don't trust Naomi.  This is the woman who stayed silent following a gang rape -- excuse me, that's wrong.  This is a woman who stayed silent in terms of going to the authorities but who laughed with the rapists the night after a gang rape -- laughed about the victim, laughed about the victim's shoe left behind in the frat house as she escaped following her gang rape.  Why did Naomi laugh?  She didn't want to be called a lesbian.
Nothing could hurt the cock-driven (cock-starved?) Naomi Wolf more than to be called a lesbian.  Why didn't she call the authorities?  On that she's remained silent.  But when a professor apparently made a pass at her in the midst of a private evening (he denied it, she said it happened), she wanted the whole world to know about it, over a decade later.  (Did it happen? I have no idea.  But after you've mocked a victim of gang rape with her rapists and then been stupid enough to share that story, don't expect sympathy from me.)  Ava and I have repeatedly warned against that nutcase over the years (in terms of the nutcase and Assange, see "TV: Saboteurs"). 
The harm she's done on the Assange case will not go away.  That's why you don't lie.  Someone's going to believe you're on 'our side.'  When it comes to rape, however, 'our side' gets a hell of a lot smaller and any woman capable of self-honesty will admit that.  When it comes to the environment, the left is one big happy family, hugging trees and replanting forests.  When it comes to issues of violence against women, the left willing to call it out is about a quarter of what it was for the environment.
Michael at least says "my view" at one of his most ludicrous moments.  But he's an attorney and he should know better so the "my view" is nonsense.  He asserts that Julian "has a right to leave that embassy, get on a plane and go to Ecuador.  Will the British ever honor that . . ."? 
The British  right to arrest him -- he is a fugitive -- trumps the right of Ecuador.  They are on British soil.  It is not complicated and Michael knows that.  As does Julian Assange which is why Assange isn't strolling through London to an airport right now.
The dishonesty is so disappointing because we don't need more of it on the left.  If you want to make a case for Julian Assange going to Ecuador, you should be able to do so without resorting to falsehoods.  When Michael Ratner, an intelligent and usually thoughtful person, presents the sloppy throw-everything-at-the-wall-and-hope-something-sticks faux legal argument that he has, anyone paying attention is going to wonder: "If Michael Ratner can't make a plausible legal case, does that mean that there's not one?"
In fairness to Michael, he's not speaking as a legal analyst and shouldn't have been presented as such.  He's working for Assange.  A real public affairs program that operated under journalistic standards would have presented him with another guest who took a different opinion.  And the back-and-forth of such an exchange probably would have greatly sharpened Michael's own argument.
He makes assertions on aslyum that are puzzling at best.  He asserts that "once you've been given asylum, it's not like you can be then picked up by a country and sent into the hands of your persecutor.  Whether it's in the car, whether it's on the streets, wherever you are, it's illegal to do so."  There's no UK case law that backs that up.  If there's an international law that states that, I'm unfamiliar with it -- I am unfamiliar with it and many countries are also unfamiliar with it because this standard he's applying has not been the standard.  If you are wanted for murder and you claim you're a political target and Spain agrees to give you asylum, unless you are in Spain, the authorities have the right and will attempt to arrest you.  This is not a new development. 
Michael Ratner is incorrect when he says it's the law.  Asylum isn't a floating space in the midst of a game of tag-you're-it.  You're granted asylum at an embassy or in that host country.  By Michael's logic, Julian can remain in London, he can travel all over and, if anyone tries to arrest him, he just says, "Uh-uh, I've got asylum from Ecuador."  That's not how it works.
Michael asserts that, "It's illegal for them to stop Julian Assange trying to get to Ecuador."  In what world?  Does he not know any of the asylum cases during the lead up to WWII?  I cannot believe anyone would make such a claim.
We deserve better than that from Michael Ratner or from anyone.  What was broadcast today was a bunch of cheery, beat off material.  I believe the left has self-pleasured enough for the last four years.  Let's try reality and honesty instead.
We can discuss this again tomorrow but for now I am tired of people lying to make their political cases, I am tired of all the whoring.  I realize it's ingrained in some, certainly a number were more than willing to repeat as gospel whatever the party line was out of the mouth of Joseph Stalin.  It needs to stop.  Kimberly Wilder is a smart and caring person.  She's repeated a false claim because the left media whored.  They refused to tell the truth.  That needs to stop right now.  On the left we need to be smarter and more factual.  We're not helping anyone by dumbing ourselves down.  (And Bob Somerby tries to make that argument every day at The Daily Howler.  I wonder how many of us even listen?)
In addition, Michael sounded like the best little Joe Stalin groupie as he attacked the US and the UK and Sweden while praising Ecuador (CCR has also issued an embarrassing press release, Talk Radio News reports on it here).  Ecuador, despite their whoring, is not Mecca.  Click here for Human Rights Watch and here for Amnesty International.  Or go to Huffington Post to read about Ecuador's "Lesbian Torture Clinics."  (To be clear, the US can be criticized and I do so every day here.  That's not the issue.  The issue is presenting Ecuador as some wonderful savior when indigenous people, gays and lesbians and many, many more would beg to differ with your portrayal of their country.)
The left needs to grow the hell up, all of us.  And that includes losing the need to paint anyone who thinks as we do (or appears to) as marvelous, wonderful and 100% pure.  There is a growing number of people (possibly a small number but it's out there, we encounter them when we speak to college audiences especially) who feel Assange distracts from political prisoner Bradley Manning (I agree) and that Assange should turn himself in already because with his talk show and his this and his that he's become a joke (it's his decision to turn himself in or not, I have no opinon on that).  I would like that to be the end of it this week on Assange and hope that Monday, when the latest Law and Disorder Radio, rolls around -- which is hosted by  Heidi Boghosian, Michael S. Smith and, yes,  Michael Ratner -- that Michael will have sharpened his argument regarding to Julian Assange and we can open the snapshot with his explaining to us why the amnesty must take place.  He can, for example, present the same claims as the ethical (or "moral" -- but I refrain from the use of that term whenever possible) choice.  That's fine.  But don't claim something's the law when it's not.  We can't afford to be any more ill-informed or mis-informed in this country.  And we can't afford to lose someone as smart as Michael Ratner to the easy-bake punditry that has afflicted so many on the left.
Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) observes, "The current Muslim holy month of Ramadan was bloody for Iraqis as al Qaeda in Iraq carried out a number of deadly attacks across the country, targeting mainly Shiite areas."  And the violence of the month continued today as Iraq was slammed with a wave of violence.   RT offers a photo essay of some of the damage.   At least nine cities have seen major violence.  Kareem Raheem, Mustafa Mahmoud, Jamal al-Badrani, Fadhil al-Badrani, Ali Mohammed, Barry Malone and Patrick Markey (Reuters) note that while no one has claimed credit for today's violence -- it may be the work of one group or of many groups and individuals -- the Islamic State of Iraq has been taking credit for recent violence (following the announcement of their Breaking The Walls campaign) and "It has been reinvigorated by the inflow of fighters and cash into neighboring Syria, providing a morale boost and some extra arms and cash, security experts say. Iraqi insurgents are vowing to retake territory lost during a long war with American troops."  And such a move -- retaking territory -- would explain why some of the al Qaeda in Iraq that is now a part of the Free Syrian Army is reportedly buring weapons (see yesterday's snapshot) to prepare for the "after" if President Bashar al-Assad is driven out of power.  July 22nd, the Islamic State of Iraq released an audio recording announcing a new campaign of violence entitled Breaking The Walls which would include prison breaks and killing "judges and investigators and their guards."  (They also threatened to attack America on US soil.) Regardless of which individual or individuals are behind today's attacks, it is a bloody day in Iraq.

al Bawaba reports, "In the multi-ethnic city of Kirkuk (north), four car bombs exploded between 08.15 and 09.30, killing one person and injuring 20 others, according to a police official and Dr. Wali Karim from the main hospital in the city. Many members of the security forces were among the wounded, added the two sources."   Xinhua reports, "In addition, gunmen with assault rifles attacked a police checkpoint at an intersection just west of Baquba, killing one policeman and wounding another, the source added. Meanwhile, a member of the government-backed Awakening Council group was gunned down by gunmen near his house in Aswad village, some 9 km north of Baquba, he said." Near Baquba, Alsumaria reports, MP Hussain Kazhim Mahmud declared that his bodyguards were attacked today by 30 gunmen in three cars outside his Khalis office resulting in one assailant being killed and two of his bodyguards being injured (he is part of the Sadr bloc in Parliament).  Salam Faraj (AFP) reports, "In Al-Garma, near the former insurgent bastion of Fallujah west of Baghdad, four policemen were killed and three others wounded in a shooting at a checkpoint, according to police Major Enes Mahmud and Dr Omar Dalli at Fallujah hospital. As emergency responders and civilians rushed to the scene, a roadside bomb exploded, wounding three others."  Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) reports, "A car bomb exploded outside a real-estate building in northeastern Baghdad on Thursday morning, killing six people and wounding 32 others, police said.  Also Thursday, a car bomb exploded on a busy road in al-Taji district on the northern outskirts of Baghdad, wounding nine people, police said." Alsumaria reports the Tikrit police disarmed a car bomb at noon today but a Salahuddin Province home bombing resulted in the death of the wife of Mushtaq Ahmed al-Jaffar and left him and three of their sons injured.  Mu Xuequan (Xinhua) counts 29 dead and one-hundred-and-one people injured.

BBC News notes of today's violence throughout Iraq, "Many of the attacks targeted security personnel." Police, soldiers, Sahwa.  There are 15 more days in the month but already August has been a violent one.  Through yesterday, Iraq Body Count counts 206 violent deaths in Iraq so far this month.
 State of Law's Sa'ad al-Motallebi went on Iran's Press TV (link is text and video) to blame today's violence on . . . the Kurds?  Excerpt.

Press TV: Why do you think there has been a spike in attacks and violence in the past month. Do you see any relation to the current situation in Syria as the terrorist groups there are getting support from the US and its allies?

al-Motallebi: Yes, I think one of the factors, one of the reasons for the escalation of violence in Iraq could be for regional reasons from regional interferences.

Unfortunately, we have very complicated circumstances happening in Syria and a lot of al-Qaeda is transferring their activities from Iraq into Syria and vice versa.

Also, we have a complicated political situation with KRG, the Kurdistan Regional Government. Usually whenever we have differences with Kurdistan there would be an escalation of violence.

We are not sure of the relationship between the two events, but we cannot escape the fact that there are may be regional interference from inside Iraq or from Syria and definitely Turkey and Saudi Arabia will always be accused of instigating unrest in Iraq.
State of Law may have also been behind the rumors about the KRG earlier today.  Alsumaria reports KRG President Massoud Barzani has denied that the KRG will be providing asylum to the residents of Camp Ashraf.   What is Camp Ashraf?
Since Barack Obama has been sworn in as US president, Nouri has ordered not one but two attacks on Camp Ashraf resulting in multiple deaths.  Let's recap.  July 28, 2009 Nouri launched an attack (while then-US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was on the ground in Iraq). In a report released this summer entitled "Iraqi government must respect and protect rights of Camp Ashraf residents," Amnesty International described this assault, "Barely a month later, on 28-29 July 2009, Iraqi security forces stormed into the camp; at least nine residents were killed and many more were injured. Thirty-six residents who were detained were allegedly tortured and beaten. They were eventually released on 7 October 2009; by then they were in poor health after going on hunger strike." April 8, 2011, Nouri again ordered an assault on Camp Ashraf (then-US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was again on the ground in Iraq when the assault took place). Amnesty International described the assault this way, "Earlier this year, on 8 April, Iraqi troops took up positions within the camp using excessive, including lethal, force against residents who tried to resist them. Troops used live ammunition and by the end of the operation some 36 residents, including eight women, were dead and more than 300 others had been wounded. Following international and other protests, the Iraqi government announced that it had appointed a committee to investigate the attack and the killings; however, as on other occasions when the government has announced investigations into allegations of serious human rights violations by its forces, the authorities have yet to disclose the outcome, prompting questions whether any investigation was, in fact, carried out." Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) observes that "since 2004, the United States has considered the residents of Camp Ashraf 'noncombatants' and 'protected persons' under the Geneva Conventions."
In recent weeks the situation surrounding the safety of 3,400 members of an Iranian opposition group based in Iraq has taken a significant turn in the halls of the White House.
As the US takes a keener interest in protecting these Iranians from the clutches of the regime in Tehran, it appears that this US administration has finally realised that it cannot allow Iraq to fall into the hands of Tehran.
How the story of Camp Ashraf now plays out will tell us much about where the future of Iraq lies.
[. . .]
[US Secretary of State Hillary] Clinton and her team in Iraq must succeed in guaranteeing the safety of the Camp Ashraf residents. This will allow the UN to carry out the ultimate relocation work. Not only will this ensure that the US has carried out its humanitarian duty, but further it will leave Iraq less influenced by Iran and the US seen as a nation which lives up to its obligation. This is something that the entire democratic opposition movements of the Arab Spring will look to for hope and is a test which the US cannot fail.
The US State Dept may make a decision in October, it may not, as to the residents.  The US federal court system is expecting the State Dept to have made a decision by then.

David Letterman:  Now let me ask you about medical marijuana.

Roseanne Barr: David, you know one thing I want to say is Obama is trying to take our medical marijuana  over there in California and trying to send in federal troops to get our medical marijuana and I'll tell you this, Obama, you'll get my joint when you pry it ouf of my cold, dead fingers.  That's when.  And I know -- I don't want to get Obama's kill list.  You know, I got to look out for drones on my way home now I know.
David Letterman:  Let's say a person signs up for the medical marijuana --
Roseanne Barr: Okay.
David Letterman:  -- is there a list of ailments that you have to support or prove you have?
Roseanne Barr:  You know, it's not funny, Dave.  It's a real medicine that a lot of people can't live without.  I mean it really helps with mental illness and stuff which is why I use it.  [Applause.]  The only bad thing is you can't use it and own a gun.  If you're on the medical marijuana, they won't let you own a gun.  Well all these drunks are walking around with guns.  And now, did you know that in the state of California that big government is trying to get these porn stars and force them to wear rubbers.  The founding fathers are rolling over in their graves on that, Dave.
On CBS' The Talk, actress and co-host Sarah Gilbert [who played Darlene on Roseanne] offered, "I think Roseanne's always been a pioneer, she's always thought outside the box and done things diferently than anybody else and I wish her all the success in her new career."  Independent Political Reporter notes Darcy Richardson on who he is supporting:
While I deeply respect Rocky Anderson and Jill Stein, I'm in the process of organizing a Peace & Freedom Party affiliate here in Florida and hope to place Roseanne Barr and Cindy Sheehan on the November ballot. We filed our qualifying paperwork  --  i.e., the party's officers, bylaws and constitution --  with the Division of Elections on Tuesday.
On The Big Picture with Sam Sacks (RT), Jill Stein spoke about the Green New Deal and Vote Third Party has reposted the episode.  Excerpt.
Sam Sacks:  The Green Party is the only political party today running on a new Economic Bill of Rights guaranteeing a job, a living wage, quality health care, a good education and housing and other rights to all Americans.   Not only that, the Green Party is the only political party that's speaking out against the corporate takeover of our democracy and economy.  It's running on a platform to overturn corporate personhood, guarantee a vote  for all eligible Americans and set up a robust public financing system that breaks up the two party duopoly in America and brings new ideas into the political debate.  Our nation is in crisis today and it's obvious that doubling down on 30 years of failed economic policy won't work and neither will trimming around the edges and looking for minor tweeks.  We need revolutionary change in America and joining me now to talk about how that happens is Dr. Jill Stein, the Green Party's presidential candidate for president of the United States.  Dr. Stein, welcome.
Jill Stein:  Thank you so much, Sam, it's great to be with you.
Sam Sacks:  It's an honor to have you on.  You're proposing this Bill of Economic Rights I just mentioned that [US President Franklin D.] Roosevelt tried to propose.  Had he been successful 70 years ago, would we have been able to see CEOs taking more and more profits that should have gone to better wages?  Would we have seen Too Big To Fail jump up on Wall Street and crash our economy?  Would we be in the mess that we're in today.
Jill Stein:  Well we certainly shouldn't be.  You know, where we'd be is hard to say because even those reforms that were passed in that era following the Great Depression, those reforms to separate the investment from the commercial banks, the Social Security, Medicare, you know, the various reforms that have grown out of the New Deal and beyond, they are -- they havehave been under attack for decades. So it's hard to say where we'd be, but it's clear that right now we are in a real crisis.  And that crisis give us, you know, it's really a perfect storm for revisting where we are.  And that means not only an Economic Bill of Rights, but also a full employment program to put people back to work.   We did this in the midst of the Great Depression.  And the New Deal substantially got us out of the Great Depression.  It reduced the unemployment rate to about 25% down to about 10% before the start of WWII which finished the job.  But prior to that it had been enormously successful.  There's no reason why we don't do that today.  We could have a full employment program by directly creating jobs -- for basically the amount of money that the president  spent in the stimulus package of 2009.  Instead of jump starting two to three million jobs which was actually what was created then, we could actually create 16 million jobs directly, which in turn would create a secondary waves of about 8 million jobs, get us to  25 million jobs which is what we need.  And the difference is that instead of providing tax breaks to large corporations  which was the bulk of that stimulus package, instead we can directly provide jobs at the community level, provide national funding, but put communities in charage of deciding what jobs they need to become sustainable not only economically, [but] socially and also environmentally.   And in doing that,  we not only solve the economic emergency that we're facing but also the climate emergency because the Green New Deal jump starts that transformation to the Green  Economy which is absolutely essential if we're to survive not only into the next century but increasingly we're looking at into the next decade or two given the rate at which climate change is accelerating and exceeding the wildest and most dire predictions of the science which is  has been proven really to have been too optimistic.  So, in our view, the clock is ticking.  We don't have time to fool around with the unemployment crisis or the climate crisis that we're facing.