Thursday, August 25, 2011

Caroline Speaks


From January 27, 2008, that's "Caroline Speaks."

Caroline Kennedy felt the urge to endorse Barack Obama. Why?

Because she's a two-faced little brat.

For those who didn't know, in the 90s at the height of the efforts to impeach Bill Clinton over sex, Caroline showed her ass in Newsweek to insist that he should be impeached. She said he was a womanizer.

Does the stupid idiot not realize who her father f**ked?

Does she not get it?

Or did she hate the Clintons because she hates herself?

Who knows.

But the useless and homely socialite decided she needed to do something and went with this. She'd get even more crazy after Barack won.

That's when the idiot thought she should get a seat in the Senate. Not any seat, mind you, but Hillary's seat. She'd attacked and trashed Hillary and now the piece of trash thought she'd earned a senate seat just because she whored for Barack.

When the trash showed back up, I did an entire series on it. I was one of many people pointing out how unqualified she was and I'm very happy that she didn't get appointed.

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

Thursday, August 25, 2011. Chaos and violence continue with at least 19 reported dead and over seventy injured, Iraq's Ambassador to the US agrees US troops in Iraq beyond 2011 is a done-deal, tensions continue between Turkey, and much more.
Luis Martinez (ABC News) reports, "The cost of U.S. military intervention in Libya has cost American taxpayers an estimated $896 million through July 31, the Pentagon said today." A matter of weeks, Barack Obama told the American people (via the foreign press since he wasn't even in the US when he started the Libyan War). We're also told that there must be cuts, cuts, cuts to US government spending. An unpopular war -- an illegal war -- that the American people never supported and almost one billion spent on Barry's little adventure. $896 million could have been spent on schools, seniors, children, jobs programs, you name it. Yesterday on KPFA's Flashpoints Radio, one of the segments was a broadcast of a talk Michael Parenti gave on his book tour to promote his latest book The Face of Imperialism.
Michael Parenti: Now what does Libya teach us? I mention Libya in this book but I didn't say that much about it because this book was in production and all before this stuff started here. It came out in April. Libya shows us just what I've been trying to say. Libya's sin was that it had charted a different course. It had a leader, "dictator," as everybody called him. Nobody in the west, by the way Now you tell me in the last 20 years how many of you read and heard [Hosni] Mubarak of Egypt described as a dictator? He was always President Mubarak, isn't that right? That's right. President Mubarak. How many -- how many here hear the Saudi Arabia family described as dictators? No. Saudi Arabia. Man, come on. Libya is like Athens compared to Saudi Arabia. Yeah. It's run -- it's run by the Saudi family with their Wahhabi fanatical Islamics who, you know, throw acid in a woman's face if it is uncovered -- and creepos like that. Okay. So what we had in Libya is a 'humanitarian intervention' -- and I'll end it right here, if you read this book I hope you can anticipate these things --- sponsored by the UN which becomes aerial and ground war against the existing government and the people. Even when the government -- and this is what happened in Yugoslavia, which is in the book, and Iraq -- Even when the government calls and Libya too did it in the second month and offers to negotiate, the attacks continue because the goal is really not a negotiated settlement. The goal is to unsettle. And so they bombed Libya for six months just as they bombed Yugoslavia for two and a half months, almost three months. The bombing is sponsored by the United Nations, not the bombing of Iraq or Yugoslavia. With Yugoslavia, China and Russia vetoed it. This time China and Russia, not that close to or friendly with Libya, just abstained. But even with the UN going in, the attacks in each of these cases is not carried out by the UN, it's carried out by NATO. And behind NATO, it's carried out essentially by the US. And that means massive bombing, destruction of facilities, ports, houses, hospitals, food supply depots and the like. Drones, helicopter gunships strafing civilians. The loss of life estimates 20, 30, 40 a day of Libyan civilians who were the civilians that the NATO forces were 'protecting.' They came in to rescue them -- but to save you, we had to blow you up and kill some of you. Pretenses and lies about atrocities? I remember in the first week, somebody being interviewed -- and I think it was on Amy Goodman to -- and he said, "Yes, 10,000 have been slaughtered by Gaddafi." What? 10,000? The fight had just begun, these small 'rebel' groups, we hear. But somehow Gaddafi had gone out there and he had killed 10,000. Who? Where? What locales? For what motive? What were the disturbances that led him to do that? But these kind of things come up. What you do is you demonize the leader -- whether it's a [Slobodan] Milosevic, a [Manuel] Noriega or Saddam Hussein -- who was a butcher. Saddam Hussein was a killer and a murderer and a torturer. But when he was doing that, they loved him in Washington. They adored him. He was -- he was a staunch ally. They loved him. It's when he got out of line on the oil quotas, that's when they started. It's when he refused to privatize his economy, he kept it state run, and he started training Iraqis in engineering and sending them abroad -- men and women. It's when he kept some of the reforms that the previous democratic government had had. Remember, it was a democratic government back then. And when the US went in and said, "We're going to teach these poor wittle Iraqi-wakis what democracy is, teach them how to do democracy because they don't know." Five thousand year civilization, they don't know how to do democracy. But the Americans, we know how to do democracy. Look at our democracy. Isn't it great? Don't you feel good? I mean, it's the most expensive democracy in the world. We spend 20 billion dollars every four years to elect the president, I mean who wouldn't want to match that democracy? And then the role of the media --again so predictable. Massive demonization of the leader gives license to bomb his people. But not concerned about democracy in Egypt. Not concerned about democracy in Saudi Arabia. See, it's here. Let me go back to the first points of this talk, I'll be wrapping it up now. It's here that the liberal critics come in and say, "You see how confused they are. They're going against Libya because it's not a democracy, but they're giving aid to Saudi Arabia and to the dictator Mubarak for 30 years in Egypt. How confused." They're not confused, you're confused, you stupid ass. They know which democratically elected presidents are theirs and which ones are not that are really, sincerely trying to make changes like [Salvador] Allende was doing and people like that and those are the ones they target. They know which dictators they like and support and work with and which ones they dislike. And you can also see now the death squads will be coming in as in Kosovo and in Iraq. The IMF and the World Bank which Gaddafi kept out of Libya for forty years, they're already getting ready to come in. Oil companies are coming in but that was going to happen anyway because Gaddafi, in the last seven or eight years, he saw what happened to Iraq and he started softening and making overtures and saying, "Okay, SAPs, you can bring them in." Structural Adustment Programs -- meaning cutting back on the social wage, letting private capitol take over some of the oil companies and all that. He was -- He was beginning to. But not enough. Not enough. He was not a real vassal state. He was not leaving that thing wide open. He was still had certain protections in there and he also had abuses and the like to. The goal is privatization deregulate everything, every body's poorer, every body's weaker. Wipe out the social wage -- that is the social services and the communal needs that are there. The potential enemy state becomes a vassal state. That is just some of the things the book is about.

The story is not over -- not by a long shot -- but the saga of the Libyan resistance to the superpower might of the United States and its degenerate European neocolonial allies will surely occupy a very special place in history. For five months, beginning March 19, the armed forces of a small country of six million people dared to defy the most advanced weapons systems on the planet, on terrain with virtually no cover, against an enemy capable of killing whatever could be seen from the sky or electronically sensed. Night and day, the eyes of the Euro-American war machine looked down from space on the Libyan soldiers' positions, with the aim of incinerating them. And yet, the Libyan armed forces maintained their unit integrity and personal honor, with a heroism reminiscent of the loyalist soldiers of the Spanish Republic under siege by German, Italian and homegrown fascists, in the late 1930s.

The Germans and Italians and Generalissimo Franco won that war, just as the Americans, British, French and Italians may ultimately overcome the Libyan army. But they cannot convey honor or national legitimacy to their flunkies from Benghazi, who have won nothing but a badge of servitude to foreign overseers. The so-called rebels won not a single battle, except as walk-ons to a Euro-American military production. They are little more than extras for imperial theater, a mob that traveled to battle under the protective umbrella of American full spectrum dominance of the air. They advanced along roads already littered with the charcoal-blackened bodies of far better men, who died challenging Empire.

WBKO reports there will be a send-off ceremony Saturday for the almost 600 Kentucky National Guard members scehduled to deploy to Iraq for a year. Angela Deines (Capital-Journal) reports that there was a send-off ceremony yesterday for 267 members of the Kansas National Guard who are headed to Fort Hood and then onto Iraq for a year long Operation New Dawn deployment. She quotes married couple Rosa and Spc Michael Comeau. The husband states, "It's never fun leaving home. But we kind of need the money." (The economy's been a better draft for the military than the old lottery system.) While Rosa Comeau states, "I just want him to leave so he can come back." This will be Spc Michael Comeau's second tour of duty in Iraq.
Some might find it strange for all these troops to be deploying on year long tours of Iraq in August 2011. But that's only if you really thought the US military was leaving December 31, 2011. Those who still need to believe in fairy tales should avoid the interview Josh Rogin (Foreign Policy) did with Iraq's Ambassador to the US Samir Sumaida'ie who states, "The principle that there will be some military presence [in Iraq beyond 2011] to help train Iraqi military and police has been largely agreed upon." This jibes with both what US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said on Friday and what Ali al-Dabbagh (Nouri al-Maliki's spokesperson) said over the weekend. Sumaida'ie addes, "You'll see it when you see it. Americans want everything now or yesterday. We don't do it like this. We do it in our own sweet time." Rogin adds:
Sumaida'ie tried to explain what's really going on here. He said that there is a consensus among all political players, with the exceptions of the followers of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, that Iraq needs some American military support, particularly when it comes to training, past the end of this year. "However, the form that this will take and the legal details are still being debated," he said.
He said the debate over the number of U.S. troops to remain in Iraq has ranged between 8,000 and 20,000, and that they would be non-combat forces limited to the training of Iraqi military and police forces.
Dar Addustour reports that political activists and youth organizations are gearing up for a demonstration September 9th in Baghdad's Tahrir Square. The protesters assert that the actions on the 9th will return Tahrir Square to the demonstrators and send notice to Nouri al-Maliki and his Cabinet that they need to resign. The 9th is being called "The Dawn of the Liberators" and the protests will kick off at 11:00 a.m. The Great Iraqi Revolution notes, "We live for an idea, and ideas are Bullet Proof!" Revolution of Iraq's major iraqi revolution adds that they will not rest "until we achieve complete freedom and expell the occupier, change the Constitution and establish fair elections to form a national government" that represents Iraqis. In related news, Al Rafidayn notes that the Sadr bloc is planning to issue an evaluation of Nouri al-Maliki. Per Moqtada al-Sadr, the bloc gave Nouri six months to show improvement in basic services, addressing corruption and other issues raised by the protesters. Last time, Moqtada sided with Nouri in an attempt to bury and derail the protests. His supporters may or may not allow that to be an option this time. Al Mada reports that yesterday Iraqi President Jalal Talabani gave a speech to Nouri al-Maliki and his cabinet, a speech in which he declared that Iraq was 'in bloom.' Other pearls Jalal tossed out included, "We need more facts, not just negatives."
Yesterday's snapshot noted a Ramadi suicide bomber took his own life and that of three police officers with five more left injured. Today Michael S. Schmidt and Omar al-Jawoshy (New York Times) report the death toll reached 7 (including five police officers) with four more and one civilian left injured. The reporters add, "The head of the police in Anbar Province, Maj. Gen. Hadi Rizaich, said that security officials had some warning that there was going to be a car bomb attack in Ramadi on Wednesday night, but had been unable to find the car."

Today saw three suicide bombings. Reuters notes a Basra suicide car bomber took his own life and left 4 other people dead with another thirty-four injured while in Falluja a suicide car bomber took his own life and the lives of 4 police officers with another five left injured and in Garma a suicide bomber and a suicide car bomber paired up, one after the other, taking their own lives and the lives of 3 police officers with five more left injured. Reuters also notes that a Falluja roadside bombing left three Iraqi soldiers injured, a Baghdad car bombing claimed 1 life and left fourteen more injured, a Baghdad sticky bombing claimed 1 life and left two more people injured, a Baghdad roadside bombing left five people injured, a Mosul roadside bombing claimed the life of 1 Iraqi soldier and dropping back to last night, a Kirkuk rocket attack left "an employee of the state-run oil products company" injured..Aswat al-Iraq notes a bombing targeting 7th Army Commander Maj Gen Ismail al-Duleimy who escaped unharmed but whose driver was killed and his two bodyguards injured.
Meanwhile Al Mada reports MP Sabah al-Saddi, who serves on the Integrity Commission, is calling out Nouri al-Maliki for disregarding the problemsin the Ministry of Electricity. The minister resigned following questions about various contracts resulted in charges of fraud and corruption. Sabah al-Saadi notes that the Deputy Prime Minister was involved in the scandal and remains in place. al-Saadi states that this is "a continuation of a series of failures to solve the electicity problems" and that Nouri is doling out positions based upon loyalty and not upon qualifications and that the biggest victimin all of this is the Iraqi citizen. In addition, Aswat al-Iraq reports that the "Integrity Commission has detained a doctor in a hospital in southern Iraq's Amara city, the center of Missan Province, accused of taking bribes from his patients".
Aswat al-Iraq reports there was a demonstration today at the Foreign Ministry and that the Undersectrary Mohammed al-Haj Hmoud "received on Thursday the demands of demonstrators, condemning the aggressive acts against Iraqi sovereignty by Turkey and Iran" and activist Raad Abbas is quoted stating that "the motive of our demonstration is to inform the Iraqi Foreign Ministry that the aggressive attacks on nothern Iraq are rejected and we demand the Iraqi government to take a firm attitude towards the violations against the Iraqi sovereignty." The Economist notes:
THE dull thud of mortar shells echoes across the barren mountains separating Turkey from Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq. Columns of armoured vehicles trundle along the border as Turkish F-16 fighter jets screech over their targets: rebels of the separatist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). On a nearby peak hundreds of Kurdish "peace mothers" keep vigil for their sons; some of them soldiers in the Turkish army, others PKK fighters inside Iraq. They won't come down, they say, until Turkey halts its air strikes. The army is blocking buses containing thousands of Kurds who want to join the protests, paralysing traffic in the narrow mountain roads. "They are being used by the PKK -- we won't allow it," says a stony-faced corporal.
The scenes are ominously reminiscent of the worst excesses of the 1990s, when some 3,000 Kurdish villages were emptied and destroyed, and torture and extra-judicial killings of dissidents were rife.
Although the PKK has itself been guilty of numerous human rights abuses, and has frequently deliberately targeted civilians, the recent escalation in its campaign did not come out of nothing. In the run-up to the 12 June general election, the PKK had scaled back its attacks in the hope that, once the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) had secured a third consecutive term in power, it would be prepared to launch peace negotiations.
The AKP duly won the election, securing nearly half of the popular vote. But, rather than becoming conciliatory, flushed with its electoral triumph, the AKP became more hard-line. A total of 36 members and sympathisers of the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) won seats in parliament in the June election. One was immediately stripped of his seat. Five others had run for parliament from prison, where they were being held on remand on charges of belonging to a PKK front organisation. The Turkish courts refused to release them pending the completion of their trial. Not only did Erdogan reject calls for negotiations but he refused even to acknowledge that there was a "Kurdish problem", claiming that his government had already granted the country's Kurds all the rights that they needed.
Although a large proportion of Kurdish nationalists are sympathetic to the PKK, there are many who are opposed to the organisation and appalled by its often indiscriminate use of violence. But Erdogan has refused even to meet with non-violent Kurdish nationalists.
Turkey's Hurriyet Daily News states that Iraq's government has given a "tacit green light" for the bombings because "Iraq opposes a ground assault by Turkey into its northern territory but is also uncomfortable with the presence of outlawed groups in the area, an Iraqi official said, calling for consultation before any military move." Hurriyet also reports, "In Ankara, Iraq's ambassador to Turkey, Abdul Amir Kamil Abi Tabikh, suggested that his country would not object to any ground incursion by Turkish troops to chase the Kurdish militants 'as long as the operation is in line with the bilateral treaties.Turkey's safety means Iraq's safety,' Turkey's Anatolia news agency quoted the ambassador as saying.."
Ali Abdel-Azim (Al Mada) reports that Knights of the State of Law -- a militia associated with Nouri al-Maliki's State of Law -- is causing problems not just in their threats on Kuwait (or their current attempts to take over Nineveh Province -- the Nineveh issue isn't noted in the article) but also in all the time and effort it's causing State of Law to deny that a conspiracy is currently taking place. Alsumaria TV adds, "State of Law Knights Party part of State of Law Coalition threatened Kuwaiti Government on Tuesday of counterattack and popular mobilization within 48 hours if it persists on building Mubarak port. Kuwaiti mobilization on the borders will not stop Iraqis from thwarting violation on Iraq.
In a press conference attended by Alsumarianews, the party's secretary general Abdul Sattar Jaber Al Abboudi said that the previous statement of State of Law Knights has given Kuwaitis a 10 day deadline starting August 13 to pressure the Kuwaiti Government over Mubarak port."

Joan Wile is the founder of Grandmothers Against the War and author of Grandmothers Against the War: Getting Off Our Fannies and Standing Up for Peace and we'll close with her latest article.

Say Conditions are Worsening
By Joan Wile, author, "Grandmothers Against the War: Getting Off Our Fannies and Standing Up for Peace" (Citadel Press)
On Sunday, Aug. 21, I had the privilege of speaking via conference call with several young people from the Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers. It was the occasion of what they have termed the "Global Day of Listening," during which the kids spoke with supporters and sympathizers all over the world for approximately 5 and a half hours.
Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers, Bamyan Province, Afghanistan
I was immensely saddened to hear that they are discouraged about the prospects of peace in their beleaguered country. The kids stated more than once that things are worse than they were the last time they held the conference call a few months ago, and that their hopes for peace have dwindled down to almost zero. This was in marked contrast to earlier conversations in which I participated, when they projected a sense of ebullience and hope. I had the impression in those past talks that they felt confident that they could make a difference through their admirable efforts to end the conflicts within their nation.
Yesterday, they expressed their belief that the Afghan people desire that our troops leave their country in a responsible manner as soon as possible, that our military presence there essentially contributes to the decreasing potential for peace. Yet, they see little chance of our withdrawal in the foreseeable future.
The publication recently of a report in numerous Online publications that an agreement is about to be signed which would allow thousands of U.S. troops to remain in Afghanistan until at least 2024 certainly reinforces the young peoples' despair. US Troops May Stay in Afghanistan Until 2024 | Common Dreams
The group (AYPV) of mostly teen-agers is located 100 miles to the north of Kabul in a mountainous province called Bamiyan. Their lives are extremely difficult. By contrast, an average middle-class American youngster's life seems like a rhapsodic fantasy. One of the younger ones, for instance, walks miles daily to obtain fresh water for his family. School is a luxury oftentimes, given that some must work the farms or market potatoes full-time to help support their families. The landscape is desolate, and there is a lack of warm clothing to protect against the extreme cold. Despite their hardships, though, this group of juveniles manages to devote themselves to the Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers. Among their many activities, they cleared through substantial debris to create a Peace Park, in which they planted trees and shrubs.
They have made a number of beautiful short videos very effectively urging peace. (See below.) They've traveled 100 miles through difficult and even perilous terrain to Kabul for their periodic Global Days of Listening.
Their mentor and interpreter is Hakim, a doctor from Singapore, who has spent several years organizing the AYPV, writing eloquent articles promoting their cause, creating and producing their videos, and interpreting in several languages, including excellent and fluent English, for their global conference calls. Influenced by Gandhi and Noam Chomsky's writings, Hakim gave up his private medical practice to focus on leading the young Afghans to pursue peace.
I tried to help them feel more positive as best I could, telling them I had lived many, many years and learned that things often change, even when you don't expect them to. I urged them to keep up their wonderful and inspiring actions, and that we peace grannies (the Granny Peace Brigade, Grandmothers Against the War, Grandmothers for Peace International, and the Raging Grannies, among many) would do the same.
But, they need so much more solace and stimulation than I or any one person could provide. I hope readers of these words will be moved as I was by the plight of these kids we threaten with our instruments of war. Please contact them by writing They are very heartened by words of encouragement from people from other locales, particularly the United States, a principal cause of the chaos they must endure. Ask to be notified of the various ways you can help them
Finally, please watch this very brief video made by the youngsters. They will steal your heart.

Read on ...

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Mystique Candidate


That's "The Mystique Candidate." From January 20, 2008. That's not one I ever liked. I liked the idea; however, I couldn't draw Reagan (as is obvious). So that's that.

And that's really the thing about the weekly comic. Sometimes you nail it, sometimes you don't. There's never time to feel too embarrassed or too proud because you're always thinking, "What am I going to do next?"

And C.I. gave me some great advice about three months in. I'd had something really popular -- I forget what now -- and I couldn't draw. I was just frozen.

She said that if I kept drawing, at the end of it I'd have a body of work and some of it I would love and some of it I would cringe over and some of it I would be indifferent to, but I'd have a body of work with peaks and valleys and the only way that happens is if I stop worrying "How can I top this!"

As a result, I no longer take it very seriously, good or bad. If I do, it tends to freeze me and I don't have the time for that.

And here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Thursday, August 18, 2011. Chaos and violence continue, Iraqi children continue suffer, autism is on the rise in Iraq, Turkey's prime minister appears to be declaring war on northern Iraq, and more.
Starting with the Libyan War, we noted some things in the August 10th snapshot that we'll note again. 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 released from U.S. custody in Guantanamo Bay.
Yesterday, Glen Ford (Black Agenda Report) wrote an important piece which includes:

The mostly black town of Tawurgha has fallen to NATO-backed rebels after a long siege, according to al-Jazeera, the Qatar-based media mouthpiece for the rebels. It is an event only racists could celebrate, a triumph of hate and Euro-American arms and money over an enclave of dark-skinned Libyans descended from Africans once sold in the town's slave market. As the Wall Street Journal reported on June 21, the road to Tawurgha (sometimes spelled Ta-wer-gha), 25 miles from the port of Misurata, is punctuated by rebel graffiti vowing to "purge slaves, black skin." Previously, Benghazi-based rebels methodically cleansed Misurata's black neighborhoods, warning residents never to return to their jobs or classrooms.

Rebels claimed Tawurgha's defenders used civilians as "human shields" during the final assault -- the stock phrase deployed to justify massacres of non-combatants. President Obama has, in effect, been arming a racist lynch mob and calling them freedom fighters.

Government forces earlier claimed to have recaptured Misurata, itself, along with other battlefield victories, reports that are mirrored by rebel boasts of progress in encircling the capital city, Tripoli, and its 1.5 million people. The pace of military activity has quickened, dramatically, with the September 27 expiration of the Euro-American "mandate" in Libya approaching. NATO has stepped up bombing of pro-government towns along a wide front, throwing every available unit of feuding rebel forces into the fray in hopes of achieving regime change before the deadline. Rebel claims to have captured the town of Brega are in dispute. According to the rebel high command, the oil port was once defended by a brigade of "Chadian" soldiers -- another "black African" threat that Amnesty International and other outside observers found to be totally fictional. The rebellion appears to run on Africanophobia.

Saturday the Black Is Back Coalition will be holding an International Day of Action Against the Wars on Africa and African People. The chair of the coalition, Omali Yeshitela, spoke with Glen Ford on this week's Black Agenda Radio (here for that broadcast) which airs on Progressive Radio Network each Monday from 4:00 to 5:00 pm EST. Click here for a list of actions in the US and around the world. Excerpt of interview:
Omali Yeshitela: The fact is there are more than 700 US military bases around the world and then you count all the other imperialist powers and what is necessary for them to do at this moment to try and maintain the status quo to try and maintain an imperialist dominated world that extracts so much value that half the people on the planet live off less than two-US-dollars a day. That is what people around the world, in the process right now as we speak are struggling to overturn. And that is why there are all these wars that are going down -- in fact, a situation of permanent warfare that the imperialists have to be engaged in to try and maintain the status quo. And then particularly in cities throughout the imperialist countries themselves, like the United States, and what we're seeing happening in England and France and places like Belgium and Germany where there are growing internal colonies such as that exists with us and with the Mexican people and the so-called Indians it is a crucial question and right now history is being turned right-side-up and those who've been historically so oppresed, now are determing what progess -- real progress is in the world today. And Back Is Black is a part of this process and is calling on everybody else who is genuinely interested in ending wars to stand on the side of these oppressed peoples and to oppose the imperialist attempt to maintain the status quo which is oppressive and exploitive.
Glen Ford: And of course economic warfare is at least as deadly as the shooting kind.
Omali Yeshitela: It's at least. In fact, the economic warfare that I just mentioned, you know that half the people on the earth living on two-US-dollars a day, that is extraordinary. And this poverty that's responsible for disease and death plagues us in some places where there are more natural resources that the imperialists are extracting where people ought to be doing well but they cannot do well because those resources are being sucked out and they are filling super markets throughout the US and other places like that and pocket books on Wall Street and the board rooms [. . .]
Glen Ford: And this might be another expanded struggle for the Back Is Black Coalition -- focusing on convincing people that economic aggression is also a kind of warfare.
Omali Yeshitela: It is because the problem that we have is that even when people are looking at England as an example and I say that because it's quite topical obviously and they can see young people who are rising up and burning shops and things like that, what has to be recognized is that economic warfare, that is a form of violence too, people can see the shop being burned and they say that is violence but the economic warfare, where people are deprived of the right to live and to live in dignity that is a form of warfare and that is debiliating as you know and crushing not only to the human body but also to the human spirit. And it is something that we in the Back Is Black Coalition find unacceptable and that's why we have to do August 20th as an international day of action against the wars on Africa and African people worldwide.
Turning to the Iraq War, Scott Horton (Antiwar Radio) discussed it with's Jason Ditz. Excerpt:
Scott Horton: Let's talk about the Iraq War. I know it's the summer of 2011 and as far as most people are concerned there's no such thing anymore. But I know better than that and I was wondering if you could give us the latest. I saw that there were a string of bombings over the weekend, right?
Jason Ditz: Right we had one of the deadliest days in over a year in the war and we've had bombings pretty much on a daily basis and the Obama administration is still talking about how they're open to the idea of staying if only they're asked which is a somewhat disingenuous comment because they've been demanding to be asked for several months now.
Scott Horton: Yes, as we've covered on the show. And now help me understand exactly where we're at in that process because it seems like Nouri al-Maliki had said, 'Okay, you can keep some trainers because I can give you that without turning it over to the Parliament first.' Did that stick?
Jason Ditz: It seems like that much has stuck but it looks like there's still a push for more. And whether they get more or not remains to be seen.
Scott Horton: And now when they say some trainers, how many is that? Do you know?
Jason Ditz: We don't know. It's not been clear at all how many they're talking but it's a lot.
Scott Horton: Well now I wonder if Maliki making that decision himself is what Ryan Crocker the now Ambassador to Afghanistan was talking about in these WikiLeaks cables when he was saying that Maliki is turning towards dictatorship. This was written up by John Glaser at the Blog. He had some WikiLeaks here, did you see this?
Jason Ditz: Yeah and that could be part of it but I think that Maliki made a much broader grasp for power than that. He's still the acting Defense Minister, the acting Interior Minister, he's also the Public Security Minister. He's kept all of the ministries that have any control over any armed forces or law enforcement group. So he's very much been consolidating power for awhile and the effort to cut Parliament out of the decision on the US troops is one more step along the way.
Scott Horton: Well now and so what kind of noise is the Parliament making about whether they're going to go along with inviting more troops? Or would they really have to? I mean, they do have to go to the Parliament on that, don't they?
Jason Ditz: Theoretically they should have to go to the Parliament but it's not clear if they would or not. Of course, in the US, when the Status Of Forces Agreement was passed in 2008, there was a little bit of a question of whether or not President Bush should go to Congress about it and he just decided, no, he wasn't going to and that was pretty much the end of that. So it seems like there hoping to go the same way with the Iraqi Parliament and just cut them out of the process --
Scott Horton: They never held a referendum.

Jason Ditz: Right. The 2008 vote was narrowly passed with the promise of a referendum within six months bringing the question to the Iraqi people and that referendum, years later, never happened. So it was a pretty ugly battle at the time and it's probably going to be a much uglier battle this time around.
Scott Horton: Yeah, well, you know it's really too bad that we can't read Nouri al-Maliki's mind. I wish I could but it seems to me like there's at least a good chance that he's more or less playing the same script that he played in 2008 which is 'okay, okay, I'll try to convince them to let you keep all these bases, I'll do my very best' then by the end of the year, time is up, you gotta' sign and they sign a deal no bases and everybody out by the end of the year 2011. And I'm kind of thinking this is maybe what's going on here he's playing smart politics and telling the Americans, 'You know, I'm doing my very best to oblige you, I'm trying to get permission out of these guys but so far I'm having trouble.' But then again, I guess, it's not hard to imagine that he needs our help
Jason Ditz: Certainly and the US troops are going to be there largely to prop him up. So it's not hard to imagine that he would see that as a good thing
On the topic of withdrawal or not withdrawal, The Boston Globe's editorial board concludes, "Billions of dollars and thousands of lives later, the story of the war in Iraq is not yet in the history books. The war continues, and this week's news is a reminder that the notion of mission accomplished is no better understood today than it was in 2003." And possibly this lack of clarity for the board is why they can't call for an end to the war? The lack of clarity, no doubt, also explains why they aren't able to count. 15. Not fourteen. 15 US soldiers died in the Iraq War in the month of June (they are each noted in the editorial we did at Third, use the link). Unlike the Boston Globe, Courtney Kube (NBC News) gets the number of US soldiers who died in June from the Iraq War correct and Kube notes the dangers are still present in Iraq:
The continued danger to U.S. military men and women deployed in Iraq was brought home to an NBC News team at the beginning of this month. Pentagon correspondent Jim Miklaszewski, cameraman Jim Long and I were at Victory Base in Baghdad when insurgents began launching rockets at the complex. As the sirens blared and an announcer warned of "Incoming!" an enlisted soldier ran by and said, "Here we go again." He later explained that the enemy has been "peppering" Victory with rockets lately and showed off several places where shrapnel had pocked blast walls and shattered windows.
NBC News also notes that Sgt Mark Cofield's death July 17th was the most recent US military Iraq War death and quotes his sister Sara Cofield saying, "Mark was my rock. He was my brother, he was my world. He raised me." In July, Alyssa Chin (KKTV -- link has text and video) reports that the fallen's father and brother are also serving and she spoke with family and friends of Mark

Alyssa Chin: This is a man who was promoted to sergeant just 18 months after training.

Sara Cofield (Sister): You never thought it would be you. You always thought you were the lucky one to have all three of them come back. So . . . [whisper] that was hard.

Alyssa Chin: Friends and family are left wondering exactly what happened overseas to Sgt Mark Cofield, a man they watched grow up?

Suzi Dixon (family friend): This just comes so close to home and it just hits your heart and it makes it all real.

Liz Cameron (neighbor): There's going to be such a hole in this community's heart because Mark was all about love.

Alyssa Chin: According to those who knew him best, the 25-year-old excelled at everything. A hockey player for most of his life, he competed for Rampart High School. While in Iraq, he started running marathons and even won a few.

Samantha Wolf (family friend): Mark had one of the biggest hearts of anybody I've ever met.

Ester Mabry (family friend): He had the strength and compassion that normally you don't see together.

Alyssa Chin: While gathered in the Cofield home, stories and memories of Mark overflow with smiles, love, and warmth. But his sister Sara will remember him most for the times they shared together.

Sara Cofield: I'm proud to say that my brother served, that's a good thing. He not only was a soldier and served our country and will be missed as a part of it but he'll be missed as a brother, and as a son, and as a friend.

In the face of such losses, you'd hope news outlets could at least be honest but that's apparently too much to hope for. ABC6 News notes, "159 soldiers from Minnesota are getting ready to head to 'deployment training' before being sent to Kuwait. The Minnesota National Guard's 2nd Battalion, 135th Infantry are heading overseas to help with the troop drawdown from Iraq. This group of soldiers are part of the second largest deployment of National Guard troops since World War 2." Really? For the withdrawal? The one supposed to take place December 31, 2011? Then they'd only need to deploy until then, right? Matt Peterson (Austin Daily Herald) adds, "Though Spc. Trevor Kolb of Austin has been enlisted in the Minnesota National Guard for two years, he's going to find out a lot more this fall. Kolb, along with the second largest deployment of the Minnesota National Guard since World War II, is going to Kuwait for one year." For a year? So it's not about a December withdrawal. Imagine that. In fact, it's about using Kuwait as a holding tank -- which was discussed in a 2008 Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing. Did no one pay attention? Apparently not.
Turning to the ongoing violence that is Iraq, Reuters notes 1 Iraqi soldier was shot dead in Mosul (three more injured), 1 man was shot outside his Mosul home, a Baghdad raid by Iraqi forces resulted in 2 suspected being killed and 2 soldiers being killed (three more soldiers were injured), a Baghdad roadside bombing injured two people, and all that follows took place Wednesday night -- a series of Baghdad home invasions targeting police officers resulted in the death of 1 police officer and two people being injured, a Baghdad roadside bombing left three people injured, another Baghdad roadside bombing claimed the life of 1 police officer (and left another injured) and a Tarmiya car bombing claimed the lives of 2 of Brigadier Tawfiq Ahmed's bodyguards and left seven people injured.
Yesterday the Turkish military launched another air bombing on northern Iraq. The Guardian notes, "The jets hit 60 suspected rebel targets in the mountainous region near the border with Turkey late on Wednesday as well as targets on Mount Qandil, along the Iraqi-Iranian border, where leaders of the rebel group Kurdistan Workers' party, or PKK, are believed to be hiding." The paper also notes that the Turkish government will discuss the PKK today in a national security meeting. The Telegraph of London reports that "168 rounds of artillery" were used by Turkish warplanes and that, "In Baghdad, the Iraqi government objected to the attacks, but also said rebels should not launch attacks from its territory aimed at Turkey." Sebnem Arsu (New York Times) quotes a written statement from the command of the Turkish Army, "Similar actions of the Turkish Armed Forces inside and outside the country will continue in a determined way until the North of Iraq would be turned into a secure residential area and the terror organization that uses the area as a launch pad for attacks would be eliminated." So the Turkish plan is to bomb the northern region into a residential area? Not sure how that works. Ivan Watson and Yesim Comert (CNN) state Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared "a new period is starting" in this ongoing crisis and "Rebels from PKK have claimed responsibility for a series of attacks over the last month, including a Saturday ambush near the southeastern province of Sirnak that killed at least three soldiers. In a statement e-mailed to CNN, the PKK also claimed responsibility for last week's sabotage of a natural gas pipeline between Turkey and its eastern neighbor Iran." Bloomberg News quotes Erdogan stating, "We're at the end of words, our patience due to Ramadan is over."

The PKK is one of many Kurdish groups which supports and fights for a Kurdish homeland. Aaron Hess (International Socialist Review) described them in 2008, "The PKK emerged in 1984 as a major force in response to Turkey's oppression of its Kurdish population. Since the late 1970s, Turkey has waged a relentless war of attrition that has killed tens of thousands of Kurds and driven millions from their homes. The Kurds are the world's largest stateless population -- whose main population concentration straddles Turkey, Iraq, Iran, and Syria -- and have been the victims of imperialist wars and manipulation since the colonial period. While Turkey has granted limited rights to the Kurds in recent years in order to accommodate the European Union, which it seeks to join, even these are now at risk." The Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraq has been a concern to Turkey because they fear that if it ever moves from semi-autonomous to fully independent -- such as if Iraq was to break up into three regions -- then that would encourage the Kurdish population in Turkey. For that reason, Turkey is overly interested in all things Iraq. So much so that they signed an agreement with the US government in 2007 to share intelligence which the Turkish military has been using when launching bomb raids. However, this has not prevented the loss of civilian life in northern Iraq. Back to Aaron Hess, he noted, "The Turkish establishment sees growing Kurdish power in Iraq as one step down the road to a mass separatist movement of Kurds within Turkey itself, fighting to unify a greater Kurdistan. In late October 2007, Turkey's daily newspaper Hurriyet accused the prime minister of the KRG, Massoud Barzani, of turning the 'Kurdish dream' into a 'Turkish nightmare'."

W.G. Dunlop (AFP) reports that "new neutral arbitrators" are needed in Iraq to handle disputes between Kurdish and Arab forces (which is actually repeating what the RAND Corporation's recent report, "Managing Arab-Kurd Tensions in Northern Iraq After the Withdrawal of U.S. Troops," stated, see the July 26th snapshot) and that tensions will increase without someone to fill the role currently filled by the US military. From the article:

Major Ali Jassem al-Tamimi, an Iraqi army representative to the NCCC, was confident the centres would continue to function after the US withdrawal, but conceded that disputes may arise.
"We expect that after the US withdrawal, we will work in the same way and... the same effort will continue, but there might be some small conflicts between one side and another," Tamimi said.
Captain Massud Hussein, representing the peshmerga, agreed with Tamimi, but added that the situation "will be improved for the better if they (the Americans) stay."

The US stepped into the mediation role when the central government in Baghdad and the KRG government were at loggerheads with each hurling accusations at one another. It's very easy to paint it now as the military of each group not getting along but the issue was much larger than that.
On the second hour of The Diane Rehm Show July 17, 2009, Moises Naim, Yochi Dreazen and David Ignatius were Diane's panelists and during the discussion of Iraq, Moises noted the reality side-stepped today.
Moises Naim: And the Kurdish prime minister yesterday said that the Kurdish autonomous region was closer to going to war with the central government than ever before, since 2003, since the US invasion. And that points, as Yochi said, to the tensions about the divisions -- federalism, they're trying to find out what is the divisions of authority, power between a centralized government and a regional government. And this is a region that is quite different in its governance, in its function, in its economy, in its politics, than the rest of the country.
As noted in Diane's discussion, things are very tense between the central government in Baghdad and the Kurdish Regional Government. Anthony Shadid (Washington Post) reports, "In separate interviews, Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani and the region's president, Massoud Barzani, described a stalemate in attempts to resolve long-standing disputes with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's emboldened government. Had it not been for the presence of the U.S. military in northern Iraq, Nechirvan Barzani said, fighting might have started in the most volatile regions." Quil Lawrence (NPR's All Things Considered) reported this afternoon on the tensions quoting Barzani, "Whoever wants to get ahead in Iraqi politics does so by criticizing the Kurds." On territorial disputes and what may have been an attempt by al-Maliki's government to enroach on Kurdish territories June 28th, Lawrence quotes Barzani stating, "Our problem is that we do not believe there is any political will in Baghdad to solve this problem."
In that All Things Considered report, Quil Lawrence provided this background, "Most recently, on June 28th, Nechirvan Barzani says, Iraqi army soldiers arrived in the mostly Kurdish town of Debaga, northwest of Kirkuk, at around 2:00 in the morning. Citizens filled the streets to prevent the Iraqi army from passing. And a mostly Kurdish division of the Iraqi army arrived and blocked the road, essentially putting Kurdish and Arab units of the same army on opposite ends of machine gun barrels. It took 24 hours to resolve the issue, and the Arab unit eventually withdrew." A month later, August 17, 2009, Deborah Amos (All Things Considered) reported on the plan US Gen Ray Odierno (then the top US commander in Iraq) has proposed to both the KRG and the central government in Baghdad: US troops would go into northern Iraq and patrol with Iraqi forces and the Kurdish Peshmerga as a three-way joint-force in what was hoped to be team building exercises. And the RAND Corporation report released at the end of last month noted the need for these team building exercises to continue but noted that the US State Dept is not equipped to take over from the US military to continue them.
The potential conflict between the each side's military is underscored today as Alsumaria TV reports, "Peshmerga Minister of Kurdistan Regional Government Jaafar Mustapha warned on Wednesday against Kurds boycott to the Iraqi Army for it has become a 'central army', he argued. Kurds have no longer any power in the Iraqi Army. The incidents that are occurring in the regions where Iraqi army is deployed especially in Diyala have never occurred at the time of Baath, Peshmerga Minister said." Sean Kane (Foreign Policy) wonders, "Will the phasing out of the U.S. role mean, as one leaked U.S. intelligence report suggested, that without strong and fair third party influence tensions along the Arab-Kurdish line may quickly turn to violence? Or is too much being made of the transition in what was always intended to be a temporary mechanism?" Baram Subhi (niqash) notes that some are hopeful about the Golden Lions, "The Golden Lions unit is composed of almost 400 members from three different security forces operating in Kirkuk: the Iraqi army, the local police forces and the Iraqi Kurdish military force known as the Peshmerga. The tripartite force, which eventually hopes to increase its number to 1,000, was the idea of Ray Odierno, former commander of US forces in Iraq, who hoped a joint force like this one might help put an end to ethnic clashes in the area."
Last 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." The plan here was to cover a section each of the five days. Thursday I forgot so we're grabbing it today and tomorrow. On the 10th, we covered journalists, we covered the prisons in the August 9th snapshot with women and Iraq's LBGT community was covered in the August 8th snapshot). Today we're focusing on the reports findings regarding the children of Iraq. 2010 saw at least 194 Iraqi children killed in violence wih another 232 injured. This is the violence of bombings and shootings,etc. This is not the violence of domestic abuse. For example, March 26, 2010 saw 23 children killed in Baquba bombings. There are rumors that young children are recruited to take part in armed conflict and an 11-year-old would-be suicide bomber caught in Ramadi April 6, 2010 described how three men recruited him. Iraqi children also die from the actions of the Iraqi and US armies. These deaths come in home invasions and in bombings. Iraqi children are also at risk of being killed by cluster bombs and landmines that are currently "contaminating 1,700 square kilometres of land" in Iraq. In 2006, the Iraqis Ministry of Health partnered with the World Health Organization to conduct the Iraqi Mental Health Survey of Iraqi children. The survey found "that almost half of those surveyed had experienced a war related trauma."
Children continue to be prime kidnapping targets in Iraq wih at least 31 kidnapped in 2010 (those numbers only cover ten of Iraq's eighteen provinces).
Iraqi children can be found in the jails and prisons of Iraq. And often, they're held with adults -- 520 boys and girls shared facilities with adults (those figures do not include the Kurdistan Regional Government) and "759 boys and girls were held in facilities for convicts. Numerous children, some of them extremely young, are deprived of their liberty and a child-friendly environment merely because their mothers, with whom they stay, are detained and imprisoned."
Iraqi schools face vandalization and destruction and violence prevents 2 million children from attending school. For those schools able to hold classes, they're overcrowded. The report notes, "Thousands of children with disabilities remain without access to schools, and the children of internally displaced families face a lack of educational facilities." October 31, 2010, Our Lady of Salvation Church in Baghdad was attacked. Following that, "it was reported that many Christian schools, often sharing the same grounds as their churches, cancelled classes for several weeks out of fear of a similar attack."
The report notes, "The Government of Iraq received from the World Bank a loan of $100 million US dollars over the next 30 years to boost school construction. However, the current capacity of the government to implement construction works and issues of availability of land, are hindering the progress of the school construction programme."
The report notes that children beggars in the KRG may be Arabs who came o the region with their families who were escaping violence elsewhere in Iraq. The KRG has created "homes for children who are either homeless or are unable to live with their families for various reasons" and these homes are in all three provinces but the report notes there needs to be more programs that could integrate these children back "into society." The KRG has also created juvenile police stations in all three provinces and all three also "have reformatories or detention centres for children where convicted children are kept. During visits, UNAMI assessed the living conditions as satisfactory in all three reformatories and one detention centre. The rooms are big and clean with natural light and ventilation. Overcrowding is not a problem. children housed in these facilities expressed satisfaction with the quality of food. However, educational, social and play activities are few and are not really adequate or geared for children."
Today Suha Sheikhly (Al Mada) reports on an autistic child in Iraq. Sheikhly encountered 8-year-old Hisham in the airport. His mother was told that autism had become more common in Iraq and that "the reason given for the rise in autism cases is the toxic minerals in the environment such as mercury and lead" and the war has spread these minerals. When Hisham was beginning to walk and teeth it was noticable to his mother that had difficulty with language and social skills. The article explains that the doctors do not see autism as "crazy" or deformity but as a mental illness and that Iraqi children with autism have special needs. Hisham's mother was told that the increased levels of mercury and lead in the environment was the likely cause and she believes this because behind the family's home are piles of scraps, "remnants of the military". Iraqi doctors recommend 40 hours of education a week for autistic children and do not recommend leaving the child in a vacuum (alone) or parked in front of the TV for long hours. A study of autism in Iraq by the Uniiversity of Cambridge found that there were 75 cases per ten thousand people aged five to eleven years old.

Read on ...

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Vulture Rudy G


From January 6, 2008, that's "The Vulture Rudy G." I did a couple of Rudy comics while he was running in the primaries and I think that was my own personal favorite of the Rudy G cartoons. I think it really captures him, a vulture.

Here's 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


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.


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



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."

For more information, please contact IFJ on + 32 2 235 210

The IFJ represents more than 600.000 journalists in 131 countries
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

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.

Read on ...
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