Thursday, June 20, 2013

The stuffed shirt

stuffed shirt

From February 7, 2010, that's "The Stuffed Shirt."

And it's a good one to use to figure out what's wrong with it?  The left side of the drawing (your left, where my name is) the ear is too small.  If you try to give Barack normal size ears, he doesn't look like Barack.

Most of the time, I get the ears a lot bigger.  But I've noticed that some of his worst cheerleaders draw him with normal ears and it ends up looking nothing like him.

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

Thursday, June 20, 2013.  Chaos and violence continue, Anbar and Nineveh Province get to vote,  polling stations are targeted with violence, turnout is high, IHEC finds no irregularities in the vote, Nouri gets out maneuvered with regards to Baghdad's provincial government, today is World Refugee Day with notable remarks from John Kerry (good), Angelina Jolie (good) and Senator Rand Paul (embarrassing).

Proving that War Hawks need lots of (ego) feeding to survive, Andy Bowers of Slate (a War Hawk who got in the faux antiwar club as a result of the circle jerk) gushes today, "George Packer, a New Yorker staff writer known for his brilliant coverage of the Iraq War, turns his attention to problems here at home in his new book The Unwinding. "  No, no one who gave a damn about Iraq would ever note Packer's "brilliant coverage of the Iraq War" because it just wasn't there.  George Packer is a  War Hawk.  Oh, he wrote a (bad) play.  Who the hell cares?  He cheerleaded the Iraq War whined in a book that there wasn't enough military on the ground because, hey, the war's not wrong, it was just fought wrong, we can fight it better next time!  That's what these people sell over and over.  There is no awareness, there is no awakening, there is only attempts to defend war and insist any mistakes must result not from the decision to start a war but from the way it was fought.  In his awful 2006 'book,' he wanted to argue that , even though the Iraq War was a war of choice, "this didn't make the war immoral by definition."

From the classic comedy sketch (about the quiz show scandal) . . .

Mike Nichols: It's a moral issue.

Elaine May: Yes!

Mike Nichols: A moral issue.

Elaine May: Yes! Yes! Yes! It is a moral issue.  

Mike Nichols:  A moral issue.

Elaine May:  And to me that's always so much more interesting than a real issue

Always be skeptical of those who talk 'morality' but ignore the law.

The War Hawks love to conceal their true natures.  Norman Solomon (Huffington Post) calls War Hawk Thomas Friedman out and when Friedman attempts to spin, Norman quotes Friedman.

National Iraqi News Agency reports 1 person was killed by a mortar attack on an Anbar Province polling station and another was left injured. and that, according to the Nineveh Province Police Brigadier General Khaled al-Hamdani, bombings are taking place in various areas of that province in order to prevent voting.

Iraq has 18 provinces.  3 of the 18 are the KRG -- a semi-autonomous region that will hold provincial elections in September.  Being semi-autonomous it votes on its own schedule (and did during the 2009 provincial elections as well).  The exception being the parliamentary elections when all Iraqi provinces that are voting vote at the same time.

So the 3 KRG provinces didn't vote in the April 20th provincial elections.

In addition, Kirkuk (again) did not get to vote.  This is because, long story short, Kirkuk is disputed territory -- claimed by the central government in Baghdad and by the KRG.

The United Nations was pressing the case for allowing Kirkuk to vote.  Even so, that was unlikely to happen.  It's even more unlikely now that the UN Secretary-General Special Representative to Iraq is an empty seat.  Next month, Martin Kobler is placed over the Congo.  No one has been named (still) as Kobler's replacement.

That adds up to four provinces. There are 18.  So 14 should have voted, right?

Only 12 voted.  Nouri decided to penalize the two provinces where he is most unpopular -- Anbar and Nineveh -- by refusing to allow them to vote in April.  Kirk H. Sowell (Foreign Policy) rightly observed, "Iraq's April 20 provincial elections were like two elections in one country.  They included all  provinces outside the Kurdistan region except Kirkuk, due to a long-standing dispute over election law, and the predominately Sunni provinces of Anbar and Ninawa, where the cabinet postponed elections under the pretext of security following a series of candidate assassinations."

Today, they were finally allowed to vote.  The US Embassy in Baghdad issued the following statement:

The United States congratulates Iraq for conducting successful provincial elections in Anbar and Ninewa today, ensuring that the citizens of these two provinces have the opportunity to exercise their democratic rights at the ballot box. This was an important step toward solidifying Iraq’s democratic future.
We also congratulate Iraq’s Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC), which managed and organized the elections in the face of a challenging security environment. Iraqi police and military forces should be commended for their work in securing polling sites and protecting voters as they cast their ballots at over 1,000 polling centers in Anbar and Ninewa.
This day did not pass without violence, however. We condemn the attacks that occurred at polling stations in both provinces that wounded a number of Iraqis.

Wang Yuanyuan (Xinhua) reports, "The state-run television Iraqia showed Parliament Speaker Osama al-Nujaifi entered a polling station to cast his vote in his hometown city of Mosul, the capital of Nineveh province.  Iraqi security forces spread into the cities of the two provinces, cordoned off polling centers and imposed a traffic ban on vehicles."

AFP notes that the two provinces have nearly 3 million registered voters and that there are at least 1185 politicians competing for 69 seats.  Alsumaria reports that there were over 1107 polling stations in the two provinces.  In the two provinces.  You catch that right?  Apparently there was no concern over refugees who fled the provinces being able to vote. When the 12 provinces were allowed to vote in April, there were polling stations set up in Anbar and Nineveh -- but just for refugees from the 12 provinces who had moved in to Anbar and Nineveh to vote.  The Independent High Electoral Commission announced that there were "special polling centers" set up for displaced persons from Nineveh and Anbar . . . if they were in the KRG.  Only, if they were in the KRG.  Now if you were a member of the armed services and resided in Anbar or Nineveh in your downtime but were deployed to other provinces, IHED had 266 polling stations in 15 of the other provinces for you to vote.  But if you were a resident of Anbar or Nineveh who had been displaced and went to any province other than the three in the KRG, you were out of luck on voting.

As Iraqiya leader Ayad Allawi told BBC World Service's Sarah Montague interviewed yesterday,  only 30% of registered voters voted in the April 20th elections.  Safety concerns and disillusionment may be the reason for the low turnout in April.

Today, AFP quotes Mosul college student Fahd Ismail stating, "I have come to the polling centre not to vote, but just to destroy my ballot. I saw that students who graduated before me got nothing from the government, and now we are in the same situation."  Last week, Mustafa Habib (Niqash) quoted voters in the two provinces with reasons why people might not vote. Candidate Imad Zakariya stated, "The hot weather at this time of year will make people reluctant to vote. In spring, when it is cooler, people are more inclined to get out and vote." It was 105 degrees (F) in Ramadi this afternoon and 'dropped' to 100 degrees at nightfall. Ramadi is a major city in Anbar Province. Mosul is a major city in Nineveh Province. The high in Mosul today was 104 degrees (F).  Anbar Province resident Harith al-Ani told Niqash last week, "The changes in the election dates and in voter registration centres has also caused confusion."

The Journal of Turkish Weekly notes, "A vehicle ban was imposed in major cities in the two provinces and thousands of policemen have been deployed" and "The United Nations reported 17 candidates were assassinated ahead of this year's election, more than half of them in Anbar and Nineveh. Adam Schreck and Sameer N. Yacoub (AP) also note, "A total of 17 candidates have been assassinated ahead of this year's election, with the bulk of them from Ninevah, according to Jose Maria Aranaz, the chief electoral adviser at the United Nations mission to Iraq."

Despite all of that and much more, it appears the voting in Anbar and Nineveh was successful today.  Alsumaria reports that the Independent High Electoral Commission states 37.5% of registered voters turned out in Nineveh and that 49.5% turned out in Anbar.  Alsumaria notes that UNHCR assisted with the elections and were at polling places.  At five o'clock, when voting was scheduled to end, UNHCR checked to make sure that all voters were out of the polling stations and then locked the doors and, with IHEC, secured the ballot boxes.  All Iraq News notes that IHEC's Electoral Office head Muqdad al-Shiriefi declared in a Baghdad press conference this evening, "There are no violations in the PCs elections of the provinces."  NINA reports that the Mottahidoon Coalition issued a statement declaring the high rate of turnout in the two provinces was an indication that the protesters, who "have suffered various severe conditions in order to get their demands and recover their usurped rights," believe in their democratic rights.

The United Nations notes:

20 June 2013 – The United Nations envoy in Iraq today congratulated the men and women of the Anbar and Ninewa governorates on casting their votes on local elections that were delayed two months ago over mounting concerns about security.
“The people of Anbar and Ninewa overcame threats to cast their vote today, and violence failed to disrupt the democratic process,” said the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Iraq, Martin Kobler.
Most Iraqi governorates held their local elections two months ago. However, voting was delayed by officials in Anbar and Ninewa because of security concerns.
The past couple of months have been some of the deadliest on record for Iraq, with a series of bombings killing hundreds and injuring many more across the country. Candidates have been regularly targeted, and on Wednesday a suicide bomber reportedly blew himself up as he embraced a political leader in northern Iraq, killing the candidate and four of his relatives.
In addition, a roadside bomb targeted a bus carrying five officials from the Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) in the town of Baiji in Ninewa today, killing one of them.
“Despite the best efforts of the security forces, it is very sad that lives were also lost in this process,” Mr. Kobler said. “Several candidates were targeted in the lead-up to today’s vote, while an IHEC staff member was tragically killed in an attack on a bus today and several IHEC colleagues were wounded.”
Delegations from the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) visited a number of polling centres, and Mr. Kobler commended the professionalism and commitment of the IHEC in carrying out the elections. He also welcomed the efforts of Iraqi Security Forces under the command of the High Electoral Security Committee in assuring safe conditions for voting.
Mr. Kobler extended his deepest condolences to the families of the victims and wished a speedy recovery to the wounded.

The violence didn't end when the voting was completed.  Reuters reports, "A[Ramadi] suicide bomber killed seven people at an Iraqi vote counting centre on Thursday evening, police said, hours after polls closed in two Sunni Muslim-dominated provinces." 4 of the 7 "were members of Iraq's electoral commission."   Alsumaria notes the death toll rose to 9 and that twelve people were also injured.  They also explain the bombing occurred directly outside the polling station.  In addition, Alsumaria reports a Kirkuk bombing targeting a military convoy left 1 military officer dead and another injured. Through yesterday, Iraq Body Count counts 333 violent deaths in Iraq so far this month.

 On the topic of the ongoing violence, Rudaw reports:

 An upsurge of violence and deadly car bombs in Iraq in the past few months appear to have served as a wake up call to some Iraqi leaders, among them former Vice President Adil Abd Al-Mahdi.
“Terrorism is clear in its message, but we are not clear in our plans and reactions,” Abd Al-Mahdi wrote last week on his personal Facebook page.
Abd Al-Mahdi is from the Supreme Islamic Council (SIC) and is considered one of Iraq’s most influential Shiite leaders.
His party controls many important security and army posts. But Abd Al-Mahdi believes that the government does not quite know how to deal with the problem of terrorist attacks.
“We either react to it on a sectarian basis or only give it more popular support and space, which it doesn’t deserve,” he wrote, “Or we deal with it haphazardly and kill the innocent instead of the culprit.”

Abd Al-Mahdi served from 2006 to 2010 as vice president -- alongside Tareq al-Hashemi -- and was named for a second term in November 2010.  He left the post in the summer of 2011 after Nouri had asked the Iraqi people to give him 100 days to clear up corruption and after Nouri had let the 100 days expire without ever addressing the corruption.

While today was good for the voters, it was also bad for Nouri.  His State of Law had struggled in April to get votes.  The struggles for State of Law continue.    Mustafa al-Kadhimi (Al-Monitor) reports:

Despite the success of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's State of Law Coalition in obtaining 20 of 58 seats in Baghdad, the Al-Ahrar bloc, led by Muqtada al-Sadr, won 11 seats; the Sunni Mutahidoun block, led by Osama al-Nujaifi, obtained seven seats; the Citizen bloc obtained six seats and around 14 seats were distributed over other blocs and minority quotas. The way the seats were distributed allowed these forces to come together and form a government that excluded the biggest winner in the elections.
At first glance, it seems that this distribution, according to which the local government of Baghdad was formed on Saturday, is wide-ranging, inconsistent and incompatible at key points. It also seems that the State of Law Coalition will overcome its loss by trying to attract small blocs in the Baghdad Council to change the current government, a scenario that may be realized in the coming months. There is, however, another scenario that is more attainable, which involves the new alliance in Baghdad achieving greater harmony and making this experience a prelude to changing the political map in the general elections in 2014.
Not only does Baghdad have the largest population in Iraq (about 8 million), but its local government may have the means to tame the sectarian sensitivities, which are becoming more dangerous in Iraq and the region.

US President Barack Obama has decided to arm the so-called 'rebels' in Syria.  This goes against the wishes of a number of Iraqis. (Not all and maybe not even a majority, but there is a vocal segment in Iraq against the arming or supporting of the so-called rebels.)  Christianity Today speaks with MP Yondadam Kanna who is also Secretary General for the Assyrian Democratic Movement (as in Assyrian Christians):

Q: What do you think about future of Christians in Middle East?

A: Well, it depends upon the political systems or political regimes in the region. If the regimes are fanatic Islamists, extremists or racists, then it's very difficult for us. But if the regime is liberal, if it's recognising civil and human beings rights and looks to a nation's identity rather than to a religious basis, then it can work out.  It's our grandfathers' lands which we love and want to stay in. We want to live in peace with our partners and neighbours, on the same standard, equal for all citizens.
But if they are extremists or fanatics and run the countries on a religious basis, it will be very hard in, for example, Syria. We'll face a huge migration in the future. Same like what's going on with the Copts in Egypt, and same [as] what happened with us in Iraq after the fall of Saddam [Hussein].
The policy that is used today in Syria, under the excuse of getting rid of the regime, is very dangerous. If the state collapses, then the jihadists are in power. If the jihadists are in power, it's a huge risk, not only for Christians, but also Muslims of that region — not only in Syria, but in the rest of Middle East and then Europe, too. They are pushing Syria to be unorganised, the whole region to be unorganised. After Syria, next will be Lebanon, Iraq and so on.

[. . .]

Q: Are you saying the Obama administration's decision to support the Free Syrian Army with weapons is a wrong decision?

A: Unfortunately, the [term] "the Free Syrian Army" is very broad. Who is the Free Syrian Army? Jihadists? Jebhat al Nusra [a Syrian group with links to al Qaeda]? All others? Which one of them is it? So who are they really supporting?

There is a very real fear that the already huge Middle East refugee crisis could grow even larger in number as a result of Barack's decision.  Let's note the 'rebels.'  Back on June 11th, outlets -- such as AFP -- were reporting that al Qaeda in Iraq was out of the so-called rebels, that a split had taken place.  We noted:

The 'damage' has been that Jabhat al-Nusra has had 'funding' issues.  Governments wanting to support them -- the UK, the US -- are faced with questions by their citizens of why is the government supporting people who tried to kill US and UK service members in Iraq?  Kwame Holman (The NewsHour, PBS -- link is text, video and audio) noted yesterday, "The Obama administration could decide this week whether it's time to ship arms to rebels in Syria. Top U.S. officials began meeting today to consider the question. And Secretary of State John Kerry put off a trip to the Middle East to take part in the sessions."
Of course, the 'rebels' aren't really rebels and the main reason for the action be taken to split the two (publicly split, probably not in reality) was that the Iraqi faction outraged many on Sunday when they killed a child.

Probably not in reality?

Today, AFP files their latest, "Al-Qaeda's leader in Iraq has defied orders from al-Qaeda senior leader Ayman al-Zawahiri to break up his self-proclaimed merger with Jabhat al-Nusra (JAN), indicating tensions within the organisation, AFP reported."

Back to the topic of the refugees.  Today was World Refugee Day.  UNHCR noted, "World Refugee Day was established by the UN General Assembly in late 2000 and is marked each year on June 20, with the aim of bringing attention to the plight of the world's forcibly displaced."  Yesterday, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees issued their "Global Trends Report 2012" which found that the number of refugees worldwide increased.

The report notes that "the top five source countries of refugees at the end of 2012" were: Afghanistan, Somalia, Iraq, the Syrian Arab Republic and Sudan.  That order is -- from highest to lowest -- the top five refugee producing countries.  When all five countries are combined, they account for 55% of 2012 refugees worldwide.  For Iraq, 2012 saw 746,400 Iraqis become external refugees (refer to Figure Four on page 13 of the report). Table one on page 39 shows that Iraq has 1,131810 internally displaced persons (IDPs).

Today, at the US State Dept, Secretary of State John Kerry explained the day and its meaning:

[The video is also available with closed captioning on YouTube.]
Thank you. Thank you very, very much. I really appreciate the opportunity to be here. I apologize for being a moment late. I just came from the Hill, where I was testifying on the subject of Syria, where we obviously have an enormous impact in terms of refugees. I appreciate your allowing me to sneak in and move the box and stand here and talk to you. (Laughter.) I’m delighted to welcome our ambassadors here. Thank you all for joining us this morning. And it’s a privilege for me to be here. And I want to thank our outstanding Assistant Secretary for Population, Refugees, and Migration, Anne Richard, who has been a tireless advocate on behalf of the world’s most vulnerable people. And I think all of you know that the challenges that we’re here to talk about today are monumental, they are humbling, and they remind us of the unbelievable global, moral responsibility that we have to try to deal with people who face some of the toughest circumstances on earth.
I thank the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres. I see you on the screen there. Thank you for being with us. Happy for the modern technology, which is bringing us together here. I gather you’re in Jordan, and appreciate your participating from there. And he has, as all of you know, been absolutely relentless in his efforts to try to help us do a better job to respond. It’s an endless job, and nothing more serious than what he is facing today, being in Jordan.
I also want to thank the members of Congress. I just – they beg their apologies here, but they were going to come down here, many of them, to be supportive – and they are – but they’re voting, in the middle of the vote. That’s actually one of the ways I got rescued from my hearing. (Laughter.) So now I’m very much in favor of those votes, folks. (Laughter.)
And I want to thank Wilmot for sharing his story with everybody here today. We appreciate his service in the military and his work with veterans.
Today is just the 12th official World Refugee Day, but I’m proud to say that in United States of America, our country has had a tradition of welcoming the “huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” and it runs deep in our roots. I think it’s safe to say it’s part of our DNA as Americans, and we’re proud of that.
Roughly 150 years before the American Revolution took place and 400 years before the Statue of Liberty first stood up in New York Harbor to welcome people, a fellow by the name of John Winthrop came to this land as a Puritan refugee from England with a group of refugees on a sail vessel, the Arbella.
And he crossed the Atlantic. Before he arrived in Boston Harbor, he delivered a very well-known sermon, envisioning the colony they were going to create there as this “City Upon a Hill,” words that have been well quoted now by President Kennedy initially and President Reagan subsequently. He challenged the congregation that came over with him to serve as a model of justice and tolerance because, as he said, “the eyes of all people are upon us.”
Well, I would say to you today that they still are. The eyes of all people are upon us. And opening our docks and our doors to refugees has been part of the great tradition of our country. It defines us. It really is who we are. Most people came to this country at one point or another from another place.
And I think it’s safe to say that as we look at the world today and we consider where the High Commissioner is today, this challenge is as great as ever. Nearly 1.6 million people are now refugees out of Syria, a very significant portion of them in Jordan, where the High Commissioner is now. He will tell you, as I have experienced in my trips to Jordan, the profound impact that these refugees have on a community when they come there.
Many of them are not in the camps; they’re just in the general population and they seek employment, or they rent an apartment, 10 of them to the apartment, all contributing to the rent, which raises rents, which produces pressure on other people within the normal Jordanian course of life. That has an impact on Jordanian citizens; it has an impact on the politics.
In addition to that, they go to work or try to go to work. And because they’re desperate to go to work, they work for less money. In working for less money, they lower wages, and that has a social impact on the rest of the community.
So there are profound impacts from refugees. And obviously we live in a world today where not all refugees are refugees as a consequence of revolution or war and violence. We have refugees because they can’t find water. We have refugees because of climate change. We have refugees who are driven out by drought and the lack of food, who move accordingly because they want to be able to live.
And today we see refugees in so many new parts of the world. We see refugees in Mali, in the mountains of Burma, and in many other places. It’s fair to say that as we gather here for this 12th occasion, the eyes of some 46 million displaced people around the world are upon us. And we need to be able to look back at them with the knowledge that we are doing everything that is possible to try to help.
The challenge is immense. We just put an additional huge amount of money into Syria. And I think it’s safe to say that everybody comes to this table committed to try to do everything in our power to live up to our values and to meet the needs. The State Department, USAID, our partners in the U.S. Government, the United Nations, nonprofits around the world, faith-based groups, humanitarian organizations – all of them try to come together in order to try to live up to our common values.
And we don’t do this just because we’re trying to keep faith with the past; it’s because working to resolve this issue is critical to our future. And I think it’s vital to our nation’s strategic interest. It’s also the right thing to do.
When the stakes are high, you need to up your game, and I’m proud to say that the United States is trying to do that. Today, I announced that we are nearly doubling our contributions this year to the UNHCR. We are giving to the High Commission on Refugees a $415 million commitment that brings our 2013 total to $890 million. And I’m proud to say to you that that makes the United States of America the largest single contributor in the world. We provide more aid to the UNHCR than any other country and more than the next six countries combined. Americans should be proud of that. (Applause.)
What does this provide? This funding provides clean water, provides shelter, provides medicine to families around the globe. It tries to provide them with the ability to be able to survive day to day, from Afghanistan, Ecuador, from Burma to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. This funding will advance our efforts on behalf of those who simply cannot defend themselves, including the elderly and the disabled. It will help to continue all of the programs to protect women and girls from abuse and exploitation and to aid the victims of gender-based violence. And we make this investment because it makes a real difference in the lives of fellow human beings. I have seen this with my own eyes, and I think many of you here have seen it also.
The families of two of my predecessors, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, escaped Hitler and Stalin, and they landed on the shores of our county, like so many other American families centuries earlier, all of whom came here yearning and hoping for a brighter future.
Another one of our State Department family, Alex Konick, was born in Romania to parents who instilled in him a passion for geography, a fascination with other cultures. But the Romanian communist regime would not give his father a passport. And so, with nothing but the clothes on his back, Alex cut through a barbed-wire fence on the Yugoslav border and he made it to a refugee camp in Italy. And finally, later, on November 17th of 1982, he arrived in New York City.
Alex calls that day his “freedom birthday,” and he celebrates it every single year. After graduating from Columbia University and getting married, he took the passion that he inherited for travel and geography and culture and he decided to serve his country right here in the State Department. Today he’s proudly serving at the U.S. Embassy in Belgrade, in what is today a much different region from the one that he escaped. That’s the difference that we can make.
You can take another person, Gai Nyok, who is one of the Lost Boys of Sudan, who escaped the war there, trekking 500 miles on foot to Ethiopia. He finally arrived at Kakuma, Kenya, a sprawling refugee camp that housed 100,000 refugees, but food and rations there were very meager, and conditions were inadequate. So when the United Nations came, Gai immediately – when the United States came, he immediately signed up.
You fast-forward just a few years. Gai finished high school early, with a 4.0 GPA; he graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University with a degree in economics and international relations. And I’m proud to say that today, Gai is one of our Pickering Fellows here at the State Department, on the path to becoming a diplomat in the Foreign Service.
Tomorrow his story and his photo will be featured on the State Department’s blog and he is a prime example, like so many millions of others, of exactly why it is worth all of us standing up for the world’s most vulnerable, fighting on behalf of refugees, people who are determined to work hard, to give back, to rebuild their lives and to become part of the fabric of this country or whatever country they can find asylum in, people who have started businesses and gone on to win prizes, recognition for literature, for science, for technology, and other great endeavors.
So my friends, as we gather here today, the eyes of all people are still on us. And thanks to the work of people like Anne and Antonio – and so many of you – I believe we have reason to be hopeful. Because of your commitment, our most sacred values and the United States hopes and aspirations still remain a beacon of hope for people all over the world. We have work yet to do, but we recognize that we do it as a land of second chances and as an example for what we can do to help people achieve that second opportunity.
Thank you for the privilege of being here with you today. Thank you. (Applause.)

Others making statements today included UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie:

The Syrian crisis here in Jordan and across the region is the most acute humanitarian crisis anywhere in the world today.
1.6 million people have poured out of Syria with nothing but the clothes on their backs, and more are arriving every minute.
More than half are children.
They have left behind a country in which millions of people are displaced, suffering hunger, deprivation and fear; where countless women and girls have endured rape and sexual violence; where a whole generation of children are out of school; and where at least 93,000 people have been killed: the friends, neighbors, fathers, mothers and children of people in this camp today.
I want to thank the people of Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq and Turkey for hosting Syrian refugees in their homes and communities. Their generosity is lifesaving. But they cannot do it alone. Appeals must be met and support given. The over-burdening of these countries' economies is the greatest risk to their stability.
I pray all parties in the Syrian conflict will stop targeting civilians and allow access for humanitarian aid.
And I appeal to the world leaders please, set aside your differences, unite to end the violence, and make diplomacy succeed. The UN Security Council must live up to its responsibilities. Every 14 seconds someone crosses Syria's border and becomes a refugee. And by the end of this year half of Syria's population ten million people will be in desperate need of food, shelter and assistance. The lives of millions of people are in your hands. You must find common ground.
On this day, World Refugee Day, I would like to say a word about the more than 15 million people who live as refugees worldwide.
Refugees are often forgotten, and frequently misunderstood. They are regarded as a burden, as helpless individuals, or as people who wish to move to someone else's country. That is not who they are.
I have met refugees around the world. They are resilient, hardworking and gracious people. They have experienced more violence and faced more fear than we will ever know. They have lost their homes, their belongings and their countries. They have often lost family and friends to horrific deaths. Faced with war and oppression they have chosen not to take up arms, but to try to find safety for their families. They deserve our respect, our acknowledgment and our support not just today but for the duration of their ordeal.
By helping refugees, here in Zaatari camp and across the globe, we are investing in people who will one day rebuild their countries, and a more peaceful world for us all. So on this day, I honor them, and I am privileged to be with them."

Elise Foley (Huffington Post) notes US Senator Rand Paul 'celebrated' early with statements made yesterday slamming refugees.  Foley also reports:

Paul has previously said the U.S. should reexamine its policies toward Iraqi refugees based on concerns about terrorism.
"We've exempted 60,000 Iraqis in the last three years," he said on "The Dennis Miller Show" in April. "My question is, for one, are any of them intending to do us harm? And two, we won the war in Iraq -- why would they be running from a democratic government?"
He said earlier in June that Iraqi refugees should not be allowed to remain in the U.S. unless they could find work.

We're not picking on Rand Paul because he's a Republican.  We're picking on him because he's being stupid.  His father, former US House Rep Ron Paul, is clearly a great deal smarter on the topic of Iraq.  I can't imagine anyone else in the Senate saying anything so stupid as Rand Paul has now with "we won the war in Iraq -- why would they be running from a democratic government?"

Rand Paul takes some brave stands and that's what he usually ends up noted in the snapshots for but that's a really stupid statement to make and hopefully we'll be able to get into just how stupid tomorrow.

However,  yesterday's snapshot included Secretary of State John Kerry's important remarks noting Pride Day, inclusion and progress.  There was also a brief Q&A and I said we'd include that today:

SECRETARY KERRY:  Please sit down. I gather we’re going to do a couple questions, so we’ll – I’ll do that.

MR. KERO-MENTZ: Great, great. Thank you very much, Mr. Secretary. I loved what you said about where homophobia rears its ugly and frightened head, we’ll be there. I thought that was a really powerful statement, and demonstrates your long-held and heartfelt belief in equality and human rights for everyone. So thank you very much. Thank you as well for your mention of GLIFAA, and it’s great to know that we have your back – or you have our back, and you’ve got our back, and we’ve got your back.

SECRETARY KERRY: You’ve got to have mine too, folks, or I’m in trouble. (Laughter.) I’m counting on you.

MR. KERO-MENTZ: So – and thank you for answering a couple of questions. We asked our GLIFAA post representatives overseas – we’ve got about 100 serving in our embassies and consulates – to send us some questions that maybe we could pose to you. And you’ve got probably time for about two of them, if that’s okay.


MR. KERO-MENTZ: The first question from our GLIFAA post rep in Kyiv, Ukraine, Doug Morrow. He asks, “I’ve noticed a marked increase in anti-gay legislation and homophobic statements made by host country government officials and religious leaders in many countries around the world, including Nigeria, Ukraine, Russia, Uganda, and elsewhere. There seems to be a relationship between this sort of state-sponsored homophobia and increases in hate crimes against LGBT activists and individuals. Many of us have seen it firsthand. I know that the Department in our missions overseas are promoting human rights for everyone, including LGBT persons, but what more could we reasonably do to combat state-sponsored homophobia?”

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, that’s a great question. What we need to do is do things like we’re doing here today, where you speak out and where you show people what is appropriate as well as permissible. In a lot of places – I’ve seen it for years. I used to – when I was in the DA’s office, I used to be a prosecutor. I remember going and meeting with kids, young kids, because I wanted to find out why kids were falling into the criminal justice system at age – whatever, 14, 15, 16. And almost invariably, almost ninety-whatever percent it was, I found kids who came from very troubled families, from places where they didn’t have adult input. And like everybody in life, we all learn from people ahead of us.
And so this is going through a huge generational transformation where, in fact, today, we’re kind of learning from a younger generation where the kinds of things that older folks who lived in a different norm are not as in touch with, but where the younger folks coming up are realizing none of this really matters. They’re just growing up with a different sense of what’s important. And as kids have come out in high school or in college or whatever, and their friends are their friends, they realize this person isn’t any different, and it breaks down the barriers. So what you had is a whole transformation taking place that hasn’t taken place in many of these other countries.
I’ve never met any child – two and half, three years old – who hates anybody. They hate their broccoli maybe, or they hate – but they don’t hate people. They haven’t learned it yet. And so the issue is really one of teaching people, of setting up rule of law, of establishing a different norm where people begin to break down the fear and they recognize that they’re not, in fact, threatened. And I think – it doesn’t mean you’re going to change everybody’s minds overnight. There are people who hold a strongly held religious belief or cultural belief, and they may go to their grave believing that, but that doesn’t mean they have to be intolerant.
And that’s the key thing that I think America has so much more than almost any other place that I know. We’re not without fault. We’re not without ability to be criticized. But by and large, we are capable of showing more tolerance than almost any other people. Not exclusive; there are people in Europe and people in some other countries who also share that.
But I think what we have to do is help people to feel they are protected in their ability to be able to stand up, as they have in France recently, against very bitter opposition, very divisive, but they won. And it changed things, and it will change things, and the next generation that comes along will see that. And over time – and I mean time, real time – we will break down in some of these more difficult places this notion that you have to actually hate people and punish them for who they are. It doesn’t mean you have to agree with them; it doesn’t mean you have to adopt that – or whatever, that you can give people space to live and live their life.
Now, interestingly, in a lot of these places where that challenge is particularly difficult, we also face the challenge of just getting them to accept democracy, or getting them to accept reasonable standards of rule of law and the ability of people to speak their mind and a whole bunch of other things that we value enormously as the defining assets of our nationhood and of our citizenship. Those things have to be able to be promoted elsewhere. So I think doing what we’re doing, going out and advocating, standing up against that injustice, speaking out in various countries about human rights as we will continue to everywhere we go, will over time allow the same evolutionary process to take place in some of these places of resistance as it has here and in other parts of the world, in other countries in Europe and elsewhere. And I think ultimately we just have to keep standing up for tolerance and for diversity, and I guarantee you under this Administration we certainly will continue to do that and, I hope, for the long-term future.

MR. KERO-MENTZ: Great. Thank you. Mr. Secretary, this next question comes from our GLIFAA post rep in Tijuana, Mexico, Victor Garcia-Rivera, who asks, "What preparations has the Department of State made for when DOMA is struck down, particularly with regards to expedited naturalization for our foreign national same-sex spouses? Should the court strike down DOMA, as hoped, can we all – can we expect all things to be equal, including immigration rights?"

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, I should probably let Pat Kennedy and Linda tackle this question, because they’re the ones who are working this through, but we’ve talked about it in our meetings. We are planning for the expectation that DOMA will be struck down in some form, and we’re laying the groundwork for all the things that we need to adjust. And I will just tell you, frankly, we are looking forward to the opportunity of doing that, because it will define the road ahead for us much more easily, it’ll be far less complicated, and I think everybody here will breathe a sigh of relief if that ruling comes through the way we hope it will.
So we’re laying all the groundwork necessary so that every law or every practice or every – whatever process is in place by history and precedent here will be evaluated against the notion that that law is no longer the law of the land, and therefore that everybody is indeed fully equal and we have to apply policies accordingly. And you can count on the fact that that will happen. And I think we’ll probably get a decision before too long here. So Pat Kennedy is anxiously awaiting that decision, folks. He’s crunching down further in his seat right now. (Laughter.)
Thank you. Anyway, Happy Pride to all. Thank you for the privilege of being here, and I wish you well. Thank you very much. (Applause.)

the associated press
sameer n. yacoub

Read on ...

Thursday, June 13, 2013

If It Stared In Her Face

If It Stared In Her Face

From January 31, 2010, that's "If It Stared In Her Face."

C.I. wrote:

Gossip columnist Amy Goodman, fresh from 'reporting' at the Sundance Film Festival, insists, "I do real reporting! What movie were you in?" War Criminal Tony Blair, fresh from testifying Friday at the Iraq Inquiry, tries to convince her he is someone of interest, "Blimey! Amy Goodman, it's me Tony Blair! Don't you know news when you see it!" Isaiah archives his comics at The World Today Just Nuts.

When I post a comic here, I usually note a little bit on it.  I had four e-mails over last week's -- each of you was asking about what was going on and that the comic didn't jog your memory.  Sometimes, they don't jog mine either.  But if you use the link to the original posting at The Common Ills, C.I.'s generally written a description with links.  Sometimes, always if I get the idea from someone else, I'll ask her to link to a specific site in her description. 

But you've always got that you can go to.

On the above, the Iraq Inquiry was holding public hearings and Tony Blair had testified -- War Criminal Tony -- and Amy Goodman was too busy interviewing Robert Redford (who wore that ridiculous wig) and playing around at Sundance to do real reporting. 

Amy Goodman's a joke pretty much period. 

She was a hero of the early '00s who flamed out.

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

Thursday, June 13, 2013.  Chaos and violence continue,  Nouri targets Iraqiya (again), Nineveh Province Governor Atheel al-Nujaifia (Iraqiya member) survives an assassination attempt, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon leads Nouri to believe Iraq's about to be taken out of Chapter VII, Kurdish fighters refuse Nouri's orders to attack Sunni protesters, we look at Alex Gibney's We Steal Secrets documentary, note the difference between WikiLeaks supporters and Julian Assange groupies, veterans force the State Dept to talk Iraq, and much more.

 Alex Gibney We Steal Secrets is the new documentary telling the story about WikiLeaks.  As a result, it's been trashed -- largely by trash.  Loved the comments (that's sarcasm) by the trash that wears a wire to a court-martial -- we all know who I mean, right? -- where no recording devices are allowed.  That is how you end up with audio of Bradly Manning speaking that you release to the world.

WikiLeaks was an organization that pledged to release secrets.  It was a cute stunt and that's what the documentary exposes that probably cuts to the core of too many people who are too invested in Julian Assange and really need to take a step back and get a little perspective.

In its brief history, WikiLeaks accomplished a great deal.  It was to be the people's intelligence agency.  You don't hear that anymore because that motive doesn't come with First Amendment protections in the US, but that's what it was presented as (and the documentary captures that).  It allowed for minor embarrassments in a series of minor -- on the world stage -- exposures.

Then came its biggest leak.   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.  None of its subsequent leaks would ever be as massive or impressive.  That's because we are largely a visual people and this one had video.  It had video that the US government had refused to release.  Reuters had pressed forever to know how their two journalists were killed.  They were stonewalled.

The video contained the comments of those doing the killing.  To the shock of many, there was a cold hearted and a they-got-what-they-deserve attitude on the recording.  As though you could do that without hardening and removing yourself from questioning?  I don't know.  A lot of the shock over the video was about drawing lines between yourself and the ones doing the killing and, honestly, there's no great line there.  Anyone could have been the pawn that the killers were.  That is what the training and the socialization is about.

You got drama queens denouncing the killers.  But the killers killed on orders and acted as they were trained to do.  Meaning the problem went above them.  That was too much to explore, that was too much to acknowledge for the simplistic who need everything in black and white -- strangely, this is a group that bashed Bully Boy Bush for his either/or stances.

We didn't glom on the sugaring coating.  Check the archives, we were talking about the larger issues.  Also, you can go into archives before April 5, 2010 and you'll see we supported WikiLeaks.  You can go after, and you'll see the same thing.  When the cables came out, unlike all of the Julian Assange groupies (Greg Mitchell, etc.), we actually covered those in real time.  Democracy Now! couldn't be bothered.  We spent weeks on them here.  And we charted what was happening -- the silence -- at Third.  October 30, 2010, Ava and I wrote "TV: Media of the absurd:"

As two who've experience not only multiple revivals of Albee's Tiny Alice but the canonization of the Twenty-First Century's two leading dim bulbs Bush and Barack, we thought we had a handle on the theatre of the absurd but, in fact, nothing prepares you.
That point became very clear in last week's coverage of the release of government documents. Friday October 22nd, WikiLeaks released 391,832 US military documents on the Iraq War. The documents -- US military field reports -- reveal torture and abuse and the ignoring of both. They reveal ongoing policies passed from the Bush administration onto the Obama one. They reveal that both administrations ignored and ignore international laws and conventions on torture. They reveal a much higher civilian death toll than was ever admitted to.
How would Panhandle Media handle this? The beggar media, for those who've forgotten, came to new levels of name-recognition (if not fame) and access to the pockets and, more importantly, pocket books of a huge number of Americans as a result of the illegal Iraq War. It was a cash cow, a rainmaker, for Panhandle Media. For the first time in it's 145 year history, The Nation magazine found itself raking in the dough and turning an actual profit, Pacifica Radio found itself flush with so much cash, local stations skimming off the top wasn't really a liability. Those with faces for radio, found a home on TV. It truly was a heady time during which many recast themselves as independent voices of the left when, in fact, they were nothing more than megaphones for the Democratic Party.
Bully Boy Bush's eight-year occupation of the White House was bad for the world but it put a shiny veneer and polish on a number of whores and that was never more clear than last week if you were waiting for WikiLeaks coverage from Panhandle Media.
The Nation magazine offered nothing on WikiLeaks last week. There was a video of Jeremy Schahill appearing on MSNBC talking about WikiLeaks -- that would be MSNBC's content that The Nation magazine reposted. They also reposted Laura Flanders GritTV 'commentary' that managed to buzzword WikiLeak without ever actually discussing it or explaining it. In fact, Laura's 'commentary' was like a trashy website listing porn terms in a desperate attempt to drive up traffic. Which, if you think about it, really does summarize The Nation today.
Yes, the same Laura who once declared it impossible to ignore WikiLeaks (look for her April 2010 column making that claim) ignored it. Despite having a half-hour TV show which airs Monday through Friday. She ignored it over and over. But that's what a whore does and that's all Laura Flanders has become, a cheap, tacky and, yes, ugly media whore.
She's far from alone. In These Times boasts no public access TV 'celebrity' but they couldn't be bothered writing one damn word last week about the documents WikiLeaks released. The Progressive?

Last week, the magazine published 15 online text pieces and not one was about WikiLeaks. That's appalling. In a ridiculous radio commentary last week, Matthew Rothschild opened with, "WikiLeaks has performed a service that our mainstream corporate media has failed to do."
Wow. They've failed! You know, Matt, it's too bad you don't run a magazine. If you did, you could get everyone to cover the WikiLeaks release . . . Oh, wait.
Matthew, you must have forgotten, you are the editor and the CEO of The Progressive magazine. You know what's "really ugly"? Your failure to publish even one article at the website. And you can trash US Senator John Ensign all you want (we have no need to defend Ensign) but if you don't want to look like a hypocrite, you shouldn't attack Ensign for not wanting a hearing on the revelations when you and your magazine can't even write about it. 'Not at all." [For more on Rothschild, refer to Elaine's "The Whoring of America" from last week.]
All last week, Beggar Media had time for every subject except the WikiLeaks release. An actress phoned us Friday to say of KPFK, "It's offered more 'news' of Obama on The Daily Show than on WikiLeaks." No, she wasn't joking. To listen to KPFK programming last week was to have no idea that WikiLeaks released any documents. During the Bush reign, KPFK had a number of hosts insisting no one cared more about the Iraq War than they did. Today? All quiet on the Democratic Party front.

We had no problem supporting WikiLeaks because we had no problem supporting the truth.  But Panhandle Media?  They couldn't take the truth in the releases.  They avoided one of the most serious revelations and you had to look to overseas media to find about that -- start with  Angus Stickler's "Obama administration handed over detainees despite reports of torture" (The Bureau of Investigative Journalism).  The notion that Panhandle Media supported WikiLeaks?  It's a myth, it's a revisionary myth.  They offered generic lip service 'support.' They refused to utilize the cables, to broadcast what was in them, to write about what was in them.  They sure as hell weren't going to go after their hero Barack.  But in their black and white world, they would use them to vilify Bully Boy Bush --  who Barack was never going to prosecute so we should all just take the 'win' and ignore now that he was finally evicted from the White House.

But it was all about yesteryear because focusing on that allowed these children posing as adults to pretend all was well in the world.  That's the lie WikiLeaks was fighting so don't even pretend that a Michael Ratner or an Amy Goodman or The Nation magazine was supporting WikiLeaks at that time.

This is important due to the reaction Alex Gibney's documentary has received from some.  I like the documentary, I applaud it.  But I understand film and I'm also not a cheap whore.  A friend at Universal (which has released the film) asked if I would give it a plug in a snapshot and couldn't understand why the film was so reviled by some.  I explained, "You understand film, you understand a documentary.  But these people don't understand anything but blind faith in their comic book heroes."

As they've demonstrated repeatedly, they're children who will not face truth.  They will lie that all US troops are out of Iraq -- a war they once decried and how they attacked lies about Iraq then -- because their hero is Barack Obama.  They're children who couldn't deal with the information that WikiLeaks released.  You had to be an adult especially to go through those cables because there were a ton of them and lazy children don't do that.  They instead offer generic statements about WikiLeaks and pretend that's covering the release of the cables.  Lazy children have to believe that Julian Assange is god and Superman and Buddah and ET rolled into one.  Because in their simplistic world, in their eternal childhood, that's how they see things.

The documentary's far from perfect.  I don't approve of the term "sex crimes."  Rape is rape but "rape" is only used in the documentary when we see text reports on camera.  The film doesn't pretend to know that Julian Assange raped the two women.  It does allow one woman to tell her side and offers frequent clips of Julian telling his side on that issue -- telling his side means attacking the women -- the thing that did more to destroy the myth of Julian than anything else as his howler monkeys echoed those attacks and the world recoiled.

What Michael Ratner -- who is part of Julian's defense and misuses the public airwaves every week on WBAI to promote his clients or his family (in the case most recently of Lizzy Ratner's appearance) -- wants is a film that says Julian Assange is a victim of others.  What the film argues is Assange is a victim of his own making.  Looking at British newspaper coverage of him, Julian declares, "Wow.  I'm untouchable now in this country."  How quickly that would change. 

Documentaries have a point of view.  Sorry this a surprise to some, sorry that so many never bothered to educate themselves.  If you think I'm a defender of the First Amendment (and I am), I'm an even bigger defender or art and do not suffer fools on that topic.

The documentary also tells Bradley Manning's story and that especially offends the children because Bradley's only of interest to them in terms of Julian Assange.  They've done damn little for Bradley the entire time he's been imprisoned.

Monday June 7, 2010, the US military announced that they had arrested Bradley Manning and he stood accused of being the leaker of the Collateral Damage video. Leila Fadel (Washington Post) reported in August 2010 that Manning had been charged -- "two charges under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The first encompasses four counts of violating Army regulations by transferring classified information to his personal computer between November and May and adding unauthorized software to a classified computer system. The second comprises eight counts of violating federal laws governing the handling of classified information." In March, 2011, David S. Cloud (Los Angeles Times) reported that the military has added 22 additional counts to the charges including one that could be seen as "aiding the enemy" which could result in the death penalty if convicted. The Article 32 hearing took place in December. At the start of this year, there was an Article 32 hearing and, February 3rd, it was announced that the government would be moving forward with a court-martial. Bradley has yet to enter a plea. The court-martial was supposed to begin before the November 2012 election but it was postponed until after the election so that Barack wouldn't have to run on a record of his actual actions.   February 28th, Bradley admitted he leaked to WikiLeaks.  And why.

Bradley Manning:   In attempting to conduct counter-terrorism or CT and counter-insurgency COIN operations we became obsessed with capturing and killing human targets on lists and not being suspicious of and avoiding cooperation with our Host Nation partners, and ignoring the second and third order effects of accomplishing short-term goals and missions. I believe that if the general public, especially the American public, had access to the information contained within the CIDNE-I and CIDNE-A tables this could spark a domestic debate on the role of the military and our foreign policy in general as [missed word] as it related to Iraq and Afghanistan.
I also believed the detailed analysis of the data over a long period of time by different sectors of society might cause society to reevaluate the need or even the desire to even to engage in counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations that ignore the complex dynamics of the people living in the effected environment everyday.

No surprise, The Nation and so many of the we-love-Bradley! scribes ignored that -- just as they have refused to call out counterinsurgency throughout the last decade.  (And a reminder, the left always called out counter-insurgency in this country.  That's why The Battle of Algiers is such a well known film to this day and not just an obscure classic.)

We Steal Secrets takes you back to when the Collateral Murder video was released by WikiLeaks.

Alex Gibney: The team posted the unedited video on the WikiLeaks website.  They also posted a shorter version, edited for maximum impact.  Julian titled it "Collateral Murder."

TV anchor:  No surprise it's getting reaction in Washington.

White House spokesperson Robert Gibbs:  Our military will take every precaution necessary to ensure the safety and security of civilians.

Julian Assange: The behavior of the pilots is like they are playing a computer game.  Their desire was simply to kill.

TV anchor:  The Pentagon says that it sees no reason to investigate this any further.

TV reporter:  It's only inquiry found that the journalists' cameras were mistaken for weapons.

If Howard Zinn had been alive then, would it have gone down the same?  Maybe not.  If Zinn were alive, someone who had dropped bombs and regretted it, he might have been able to steer the spotlight above the ones who did the killing, to those who ordered, to those who created the culture for it.  But maturity was in short supply for the left then.  So, except for some hisses at Hillary Clinton, the administration would be ignored -- even though it was Barack deciding not to open a new investigation, even though it was Robert Gibbs lying to the American people. 

From We Steal Secrets:

Michael Hayden:  Frankly I'm not.  But I can understand someone who is troubled by that and someone who wants the American people to know that because the American people need to know what it is their government is doing for them.  I actually share that view.  When I was Director of the CIA, there was some stuff we were doing I wanted all 300 million of Americans to know.  But I never figured out a way without informing a whole bunch of other people who didn't have a right to that information, who may actually use that image, or that fact, or that data, or that image, or that message to harm my country men.

US Government Classification Czar J. William Leonard:  From a national security point of view, there was absolutely no justification for that videotape. Number one, gunship video is like trading cards among soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, it's freely exchanged back and forth.  What is even more disturbing is it was one in a series of efforts to withhold images of facts that were known.

Alex Gibney: Reuters knew its reporters had been killed.  The news agency requested the video but the Army refused claiming the video was classified.

J. William Leonard:  The fact that innocent people were killed in that helicopter attack, that was a known fact that was not classified.

Alex Gibney: A record of the incident and a word-for-word transcript of the pilot's conversation had had already been published in a book called The Good Soldiers by a writer embedded with the army [David Finkel]. The Army later confirmed that the information was not classified yet the Army would prosecute the man [Bradley Manning] who leaked the video to WikiLeaks.  What kind of games was the Army playing?  Why was a transcript less secret than a moving image?

That could be a defense argument if Bradley had real legal representation.  He clearly doesn't, his attorney is an idiot and so are a few of the 'talkers' pretending to support Brad.  Jodie Evans is guilty of taking her stupidity all over the airwaves.  The elderly woman with the Valley Girl speak who married for money is -- and always was -- a supreme idiot.  As she demonstrated on KPFK's Connect the Dots with Lila Garrett Monday.  Jodie marveled over how the prosecution presented their case (opening arguments) with precision.  She said that they had it all lined up and it left her cold.  Showing the xenophobia that's always been there (I've known Jodie since she was a gofer for Jerry Brown), she went on about how it sounded like a foreign language.  And then Daniel E. Coombs got up (Bradley's civilian attorney) and started talking about it in terms that touched her heart. 

Jodie was praising that.  It's a losing strategy and we explained that in the June 3rd snapshot:

Ian Simpson (Reuters) notes Bradley's civilian attorney David Coombs declared that Bradley was "young, naive, but good intentioned."  Is ignorance of the law going to be Coombs defense?  He is aware that's not an excuse, right?  And if he thinks he's laying the groundwork for ineptitude, he's doing it very poorly.  (Ineptitude is a recognized military defense.  If you were inept -- it has to be specific -- then you can be found not guilty.  Ineptitude is not ignorance.)  Also, it's "well intentioned," not "good intentioned."  What a moron.  Who is the idiot who paired Bradley with this attorney?
ITV (link is text and video)  quotes Coombs more fully, "He was 22-years old.  He was young.  A little naive, but good intentioned in that he was selecting information that he thought would make a difference.  He is not the typical soldier.  He was a humanist."
That argument?  It's meaningless.  It became meaningless when the decision was made by the defense not to seek a trial by his peers and instead allow the military official overseeing the court-martial to decide on guilt or innocence.  Denise Lind will be swayed only by the law.  Coombs is such an idiot he's making jury arguments when there's no jury present.  What an idiot.

[. . .]
So while the prosecution is being systematic in their presentation, Coombs is all over the board with idiotic statements which don't even rally public support outside the courtroom.  All weekend long we heard or read or saw one interview after another of Daniel Ellsberg and others maintaining, "I am Bradley Manning."  The point of that p.r. blitz is to normalize Bradley, to make him appear like someone you know, someone you can understand.  But Coombs is presenting Bradley as an "oddball."  While the p.r. campaign is saying we're all like Bradley, Coombs is arguing Bradley is nothing like others.
It's stupid.  It's stupid in that this part of the hearing is open and his statements could be used to rally the public but Coombs is too stupid to grasp that.  It's stupid because he already looks like an idiot before the judge while the prosecution looks methodical and informed.  It really says something when you think about the brain trust that devoted their time and energy to Julian Assange (including but not limited to American attorney Michael Ratner) but there's a brain drought when it comes to Bradley's defense.
What should Coombs be doing?  Having failed to get a plea deal that would allow Bradley to serve less than five years (that was possible), having failed to get a jury trial, having failed to stipulate so that the trial would not last (as many outlets insist it will) 12 weeks, what is Coombs left with?
He's left with the law.  You argue the law.  And it's not hard to argue the law.  The law is in conflict all the time.  You raise those conflicts before the judge, you make the judge explore those conflicts on her own, in her own mind.  You're not going to sway a military judge with kittens and sob stories. 
[. . .]

You make the legal argument.  You engage the judge's critical thinking and you do so grasping that judicial activism -- which happens across the political spectrum -- happens because judges think they know so much and think if writing the law was left up to them all the problems in the world would be solved.  You invite the judge into a legal maze and let the judge sort it out.  The vanity usually works to the defense's interest.

Jodie doesn't have a damn clue and as she marvels over the court-martial with Lila, you're left with the realization that this alleged 'activist,' this alleged 'anti-war' 'activist,' never got her ass into a court-martial before and never followed the coverage of one.  Despite the fact that court-martials have been held against war resisters Camilo Mejia, Robin Long, James Burmeister, Mark Wilkerson, Ehren Watada, Kimberly Rivera . . .   In fact, Kim Rivera's very telling.

Supposedly, Jodie Evans and Medea Benjamin created a group for women opposed to the war.  Kim Rivera is a war resister.  She and her family went to Canada because she refused to go back to the Iraq War which she found to be criminal.  In September of 2012, she was informed she would be deported back to the US.  We covered that repeatedly here, check the archives.  CODESTINK?  They had time to issue, among other nonsense, "Two Women Wrongfully Arrested for Standing on Sidewalk Holding Pink Bras in front of Bank of America."  They never issued one damn press release on Kim.  April 29th, Kim faced a court-martial.  They were too busy with the Bush library and with their idiotic hunger strike (are they dead yet?) to cover Kim. 

Idiotic hunger strike?  In 2006, they announced that stupid action.  I supported it here -- check the archives -- with reservations and encouraged those who wanted to participate to do so once a week and to seek a doctor's advice before beginning a hunger strike. CODESTINK has never grasped that failing to include that "seek a doctor's advice before beginning a hunger strike" leaves them open to litigation.  In addition, I never would have supported -- and criticized in real time -- a woman's group promoting a hunger strike because women and girls are the ones most prone to eating disorders in this country. Now here's the reality -- I'm not in the mood for CODESTINK -- the bulk of their members who were hunger striking were cheating.  They were claiming no food but they were eating. Even worse, they claimed they were hunger striking to end the war.  But they ended their hunger strike as the war continued.  Now they were hunger striking because Guantanamo prisoners were.  Guantanamo prisoners are not doing that for a fad.  Nor would they be doing it if they were not in Guantanamo.   A hunger strike in a prison may be your only route to expression and to register your objection.  But a hunger strike on the outside?  In 'solidarity'? That's not only stupid, it's futile.

Which is the perfect description of Jodie Evans.  The 'antiwar' 'activist' who did nothing to help Kim Rivera and who does nothing to inform the American people that the Iraq War is not over.

She's as big a liar as Jay Carney.  Carney, White House spokesperson, declared Monday, June 10th, "and of course the president ended the war in Iraq."  That was noted to me by a friend at the briefing who took notes and slid them over to me Monday night.  See this Tuesday entry.  They've still refused to post a transcript.  On the phone with a friend at the White House, he pointed out the video was posted.  Yes, it is.  And if you hit the "transcript" option on that page?  You're taken to a transcript of June 6th, not of the June 10th press briefing.  It's not an accident.  And it's not an accident when Jay Carney lies that "the president ended the war in Iraq."  Or when Jodie Evans lies about that.

April was the worst month in terms of death toll for Iraq in five years.  Then May came along and became the worst month in five years in terms of the death toll.  The war's not over. All US forces never left Iraq.  And more have been sent in.  They've trained Nouri's new SWAT forces, the same forces responsible for the  April 23rd massacre of a sit-in in Hawija.  Alsumaria noted Kirkuk's Department of Health (Hawija is in Kirkuk)  announced 50 activists have died and 110 were injured in the assault.   AFP has been reporting 53 dead for several days now -- indicating that some of the wounded did not recover.  UNICEF noted that the dead included 8 children (twelve more were injured). Not only should there be international outcry, but here in the US, all the people who claimed to give a damn about Iraq, all the people who marched when Bully Boy Bush occupied the White House, should be denouncing this massacre and the fact that it took place with arms and training supplied by the US.

A SOFA's no longer needed.  The US now has their MoU.  Dropping back to the April 30th Iraq snapshot:

December 6, 2012, the Memorandum of Understanding For Defense Cooperation Between the Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Iraq and the Department Defense of the United States of America was signed.  We covered it in the December 10th and December 11th snapshots -- lots of luck finding coverage elsewhere including in media outlets -- apparently there was some unstated agreement that everyone would look the other way.  It was similar to the silence that greeted Tim Arango's September 25th New York Times report which noted, "Iraq and the United States are negotiating an agreement that could result in the return of small units of American soldiers to Iraq on training missions.  At the request of the Iraqi government, according to [US] General [Robert L.] Caslen, a unit of Army Special Operations soldiers was recently deployed to Iraq to advise on counterterrorism and help with intelligence."

If that's still confusing -- Jodie Evans has always been deeply stupid -- you can refer to this [PDF format warning]  from the June 3rd, Kenneth Katzman "Iraq: Politics, Governance, and Human Rights" report for the US Congressional Research Service:

Heightened AQ-I and other insurgent activity has shaken the Iraqi leadership’s confidence in the ISF somewhat and apparently prompted the Iraqi government to reemphasize security cooperation with the United States. On August 19, 2012, en route to a visit to Iraq, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey said that “I think [Iraqi leaders] recognize their capabilities may require yet more additional development and I think they’re reaching out to us to see if we can help them with that.”39 Iraq reportedly has expressed interest in expanded U.S. training of the ISF, joint exercises, and accelerated delivery of U.S. arms to be sold, including radar, air defense systems, and border security equipment.40 Some refurbished air defense guns are being provided gratis as excess defense articles (EDA), but Iraq was said to lament that the guns would not arrive until June 2013. Iraq reportedly argued that the equipment was needed to help it enforce insistence that Iranian overflights to Syria land in Iraq for inspection.
After the Dempsey visit, reflecting the Iraqi decision to reengage intensively with the United States on security, it was reported that, at the request of Iraq, a unit of Army Special Operations forces had deployed to Iraq to advise on counterterrorism and help with intelligence, presumably against AQ-I.41 (These forces presumably are operating under a limited SOFA or related understanding crafted for this purpose.) Other reports suggest that Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) paramilitary forces have, as of late 2012, largely taken over some of the DOD mission of helping Iraqi counter-terrorism forces (Counter-Terrorism Service, CTS) against AQ-I in western Iraq.42 Part of the reported CIA mission is to also work against the AQ-I affiliate in Syria, the Al Nusrah Front, discussed above.
Reflecting an acceleration of the Iraqi move to reengage militarily with the United States, during December 5-6, 2012, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy James Miller and acting Under Secretary of State for International Security Rose Gottemoeller visited Iraq and a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed with acting Defense Minister Sadoun Dulaymi. The five year MOU provides for:

• high level U.S.-Iraq military exchanges 
• professional military education cooperation 
• counter-terrorism cooperation 
• the development of defense intelligence capabilities 
• joint exercises 

The MOU appears to address many of the issues that have hampered OSC-I from performing the its mission to its full potential. The MOU also reflects some of the more recent ideas put forward, such as joint exercises.

It's strange that an 'anti-war' group like CODESTINK wouldn't be all over that . . . until you remember that Jodie Evans was a bundler for Barack.  Her electoral politics trumped any opposition to war or any concern for the Iraqi people.

Jodie doesn't give a damn about Bradley either.  He's facing a kangaroo court -- something, to her credit, that Lila Garrett does offer.  Jodie insists that's not true but she's just doing advance work for a possible Julian Assange trial.  She slips up in her interview with Lila twice.  The second time has her claiming "This is one of the most important cases of our lifetime."

The Bradley Manning trial is actually meaningless beyond the fact that Bradley's being railroaded.  That's unfortunate and wrong.  Hopefully, there will be an appeal.  But Brad's case is important in terms of him.  It doesn't have a damn thing to do with the majority of Americans.  Now, whistle-blower Ed Snowden?  If he's charged, that case could have implications.  But Bradley's trial doesn't effect the New York Times or the Washington Post or Pacifica Radio.

And military court-martials are not legal findings in civilian court.  They do not become precedents in a civilian court.

Brad's going to be found guilty.  Short of pressure on Barack Obama (a tactic that Jodie of course wouldn't mention) that's what's going to happen.  But Brad being found guilty is not a legal precedent.  It's a military court-martial.  It has no impact on civilian law.  Grasp that right now.

Brad did something heroic, in my opinion, and shouldn't be facing a military trial at all.  But I'm not able to whore and lie like Jodie.  She wants you to make this the most important aspect of your life over the next 12 weeks. 

Why does it feel like, yet again, she's playing defense for the White House? 

Ed Snowden's a whistle-blower that would have impact on the civilian world.   But CODESTINK has not said one word about Snowden.  They don't want to address Barack's spying on Americans and the world.  If Ed Snowden faces a trial, that could have civilian implications because he's a civilian.  Which is why NPR's distortions about spying matter.  A military court-martial has no impact on civilian law.

I do know the law and I also know that pressure on Barack is the only thing that could save Brad at this point.  The court-martial was supposed to take place in the fall of 2012.  It got moved back to 2013 because Barack didn't want it hurting his re-election chances.  We pointed that out for months after the decision was made.  But none of the Jodie Evans wanted to try to pressure Barack when they had the chance.  They don't want to pressure him now.  So Brad's going to prison -- 98% chance he's going to a military prison for a very long time.  It's not fair, it's not right.  But he's got an idiot for an attorney and I'm not going to waste my time on this. There are serious matters today -- including Barack's spying on Americans -- and CODESTINK wants to distract you from those serious matters (while trying to do advance work for potential charges against Julian Assange).  If you're not seeing what's going on, look at Law and Disorder Radio.  They've got time to bring on Michael Ratner's niece to babble about NYC.  Yes, the programs airs on WBAI but it also airs across the country on various radio stations -- including one where the station manager told me it's about to be pulled because his listeners are asking what the hell is up with all the NYC stories and insult to southerners (silly hosts think it's cute to insult southerners -- while wanting southern listeners?).  So they wasted time doing nepotism and NYC-ism while ignoring the spying scandal.  These are three attorneys and they can't call out the spying but damned if they didn't when Bully Boy Bush was in the White House.  At this point, Brad is Jack in James Cameron's Titanic and Rose needs to let go. It's about survival.  You're not going to change a military court-martial after you've refused to have a jury (it was the jury that saved Ehren Watada -- when the judge realized the prosecution had acted like a fool and lost the jury, Judge John Head immediately called a mistrial to give the prosecution a do-over -- he didn't get his way because the double-jeopardy clause exists exactly so prosecutions don't get a do-over).  Doesn't mean you stop caring about Brad, doesn't mean you don't believe an injustice is taking place, it just means you use your time wisely on efforts you can have an actual impact on.

Today the US State Dept issued a press release on Iraq:

Media Note

Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
June 13, 2013
A delegation of five senior Iraqi government officials and civil society leaders is visiting Washington, DC, from June 13-20 to meet with U.S. counterparts to discuss ways to address the challenges facing widows and female heads of household in Iraq. Conducted under the auspices of the Department of State’s Iraqi Women’s Democracy Initiative (IWDI), the program will include meetings with U.S.-based experts on the needs and concerns of widows and female heads of household, and training in topics such as social assistance and welfare, implementing national programs to support vulnerable populations, developing frameworks for action and innovation to support women’s economic empowerment. While in Washington, the Iraqi delegation will meet with senior U.S. Government officials to strengthen both countries’ understanding of the status of this disadvantaged and underrepresented segment of Iraqi society.
There are an estimated one to three million widows and single female heads of household in Iraq. One in ten households in Baghdad is headed by a woman. To address the unique needs of this vulnerable population, the Department launched the Secretary’s War Widows Initiative in 2009, which directs funds to NGOs in support of literacy, entrepreneurship, and vocational skills for Iraqi widows and female heads of household. To date, the program has awarded $10 million in grants that have covered a range of issues to build the capacity of Iraqi widows, improve NGO services to widows and their children, and connect more widows to the Government of Iraq’s widow stipend program.
The IWDI was established in 2004 by the Department’s Office of Global Women’s Issues and the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor to support Iraqi women’s political, economic, legal, and social advancement. Since its inception, the IWDI has provided approximately $33 million in support of efforts to advance the status of Iraqi women.

Why did they issue a press release on Iraq?  I was told by the State Dept friend who forwarded it that they're getting a lot of flack over the lack of Iraq content at their website when the State Dept is spending millions of US tax dollars in Iraq every day.  I was told the latest wave of angry feedback came from Iraq War veterans. I was also asked if I had anything to do with it?  Nope.  But we spoke to a veterans group last week and one on Monday and they did raise the issue of why the media and the administration were ignoring Iraq when so much money was being spent on it?  Monday's group even brought up  Mark Thompson (Time magazine) report  -- which noted the $2 billion contract that the State Dept has with PAE Government Services, Inc., "That’s a million dollars a day over a five-year period, if the contract hits its ceiling. The down payment is $347,883,498 (don’t you just love such precision? It’s almost a prime number, for Pete’s sake)."

While the US State Dept issued their statement today on Iraq, in England an MP with the Labour Party, two time Academy Award winner Glenda Jackson issued a statement on the Iraq War as well. Emma Youle (Ham and High) quotes Jackson stating:

The true tragedy was that no-one sat down and seriously discussed how we were going to win the peace after the bullets stopped and bombs ceased falling.  You cannot invade somewhere without a plan of how justice, peace, prosperity and happiness can be built following a war.  I vividly remember the day the news emerged that 52 British Ambassadors had written to the Prime Minister urging him not to invade Iraq back in 2003. We must listen to the expert people around us and within countries who understand their own homes. The most important thing now is that we learn from this horror.  We must never ever go down that road again. This is incredibly important with the ongoing conflict in Syria, and I hope the Prime Minister will take heed. We must draw a red line in the sand.

Sometimes it appears the only ones who "learn from this horror" are the Iraqi people who see the illegal war didn't bring them democracy (they voted Nouri out as prime minister in 2010 but Barack overrode their votes and went around the Constitution to give Nouri a second term) but it brought destruction and continues to bring birth defects.  Stephen Lendman (Activist Post) notes the birth defects and cancer the illegal war creates:

Children born with two heads reflect it. Some had only one eye. Missing sockets look like the inside of an oyster. They're milky and shapeless.
Some children had tails like a skinned lamb. One or more had a monkey's face. Girls had their legs grown together. They were half fish, half human.
Miscarriages are frequent. Hundreds of newborns have cleft pallets, elongated heads, overgrown or short limbs, and other malformed body parts. Some are too gruesome to view.

Sunday Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki traveled to the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government to meet with KRG President Massoud Barzani.  As we've noted all week, it doesn't appear to have had any real impact.  One of the few people to see that reality in real time (on Sunday) was Chen Zhi (Xinhua) who also noted:

Moreover, Iraq's Kurdish, Sunni and some Shiite factions have frequently accused the government of killing the democratic process by attempting to gain more power, and evading his commitments to implementing the terms of the power-sharing deal, also known as Erbil agreement.
The deal, reached in November, 2010 in the Kurdistan region, paved the way for Maliki's current partnership government after the Iraqi political rivals ended their differences that lasted eight months following the parliamentary elections on March 7, 2010.
Observers see that Maliki's move in Kurdistan is an attempt to get better relations with the Kurds while confronting the protests of the Sunni Iraqis.

The Erbil Agreement was the US-brokered contract.  Nouri's State of Law came in second to Ayad Allawi's Iraqiya in the 2010 elections meaning Nouri needed to vacate his position as prime minister.  Instead, like a spoiled child, he stamped his feet and brought the country to gridlock, eight months plus of a political stalemate as he refused to surrender his position.  He got away with it because he had Barack's backing.  The Erbil Agreement was negotiated in November of 2010 and signed then.  It went around the Constitution and the people's votes to give Nouri a second term in exchange for him giving various blocs things they wanted -- like his promise to implement Article 140 of the Constitution.  That's actually why The Erbil Agreement never should have been signed.  Oil-rich Kirkuk is in dispute.  The KRG claims that they have the rights to it while the central government out of Baghdad makes the same claim.  The Iraqi Constitution explains, in Article 140, that a census and referendum will be held to determine the status of Kirkuk.  This was supposed to happen no later than the end of 2007, per the Constitution.  Nouri blew it off -- despite his oath to follow the Constitution.

If his Constitutional oath didn't make him implement Article 140, why would anyone take his word afterwards?  No surprise, Nouri used the legal contract to get a second term as prime minister and then proceeded to ignore the contract in terms of the promises he'd made in it. 

When Nouri visited the KRG on Sunday, he trotted out Article 140 and his past history on that goes a long way towards explaining why a face to face wasn't going to work.  Words are meaningless from Nouri's mouth.  Words are meaningless from Nouri on a peace of paper.

Iraq came to a standstill in 2010.  The only thing that allowed the country to move forward was the power-sharing agreement, The Erbil Agreement.  Nouri trashed it.  The US government looked the other way (despite promising the political bloc leaders that it was a binding contract that had the full backing of the White House).  By the summer of 2011, Moqtada al-Sadr, the Kurds and Iraqiya were calling for the implementation of The Erbil Agreement.  There is no resolving the current situation in Iraq without that contract being honored.

When a contract was broken (after Nouri used it to get the second term the Iraqi people didn't elect him to), you can't pave over it with more words.  Nouri needs to show action.  Excuse me, Nouri needs to show action that indicates his word has meaning.  He doesn't need to show the action All Iraq News reports today: He's gone back on his stated promise regarding the distribution of seats in Najaf following the provincial elections -- in doing so, he's angered the leader of the Islamic Supreme Iraqi Council Ammar al-Hakim and movement leader, cleric and Sadr Bloc leader Moqtada al-Sadr.

But United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has made it clear that he believes in enabling a torturer like Nouri.  He's turning himself and the UN into a joke. 

We addressed Article VII yesterday:

Adam Schreck (AP) reports that Nouri met in BAghdad with Kuwait's Prime Minister Jaber Al Mubuarak Al Sabah.  I don't understand this article.  How do you write about this meeting and not write about Chapter VII.  That's what the meeting was about.  I do not understand why the US press repeatedly fails to address Chapter VII. I've been at the UN watching the Security Council briefings and heard Martin Kobler talk about Chapter VII and seen US reporters leave that out, even when they quote him right before he mentioned Chapter VII and right after.  Why is Chapter VII such a damn secret?
Kuwait is owed, the United Nations determined, reperations by Iraq for Iraq's war on Kuwait.  Until those monies are paid off, Iraq remains in Chapter VII.  This is a huge issue to Iraq.  Every year, Nouri sends a representative to appear before the UN Security Council and make the case that 'enough has been done' and Iraq should be removed from Chapter VII.  How do you _____ miss this over and over except intentionally?

It was the only leverage on Nouri to get him to stop attacking the Iraqi people, to get him to honor The Erbil Agreement.  All Iraq News reports today, "The Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki received a phone call from the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon during which Ki-moon informed Maliki that the UN will do its best to exempt Iraq from the UN Charter's 7th Chapter."

Ban Ki-moon's name was already being ridiculed this week in Iraq as a result of his statements about being concerned about Iraq which came as he announced he was pulling Martin Kobler as head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq without naming anyone to replace Kobler.  Today, All Iraq News reports Ban Ki-moon's declared he has five people he's considering to head UNAMI.  No rush, Kobler leaves in what, two weeks?

And it's not like Iraq can afford a transition right now.  Two months in a row of record violence?   An now Nouri's back to targeting Iraqiya?  All Iraq News notes an arrest warrant's been issued for Iraqiya MP Haider al-Mulla.  That's only to inflame tensions.  And things are already beyond tense.  Jason Ditz ( notes:

The Iraqi military’s violent attacks on Sunni Arab protesters weren’t the panacea that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was expecting them to be, but it also cost the army 1,070 troops, according to officials.
The troops, ethnic Kurds, mutinied when they were ordered to attack a Sunni Arab town where protests were taking place, and then refused to attend “disciplinary re-training” meant to ensure that they wouldn’t hesitate to attack Iraqi towns if ordered in the future.

AFP reports that Tuz Khurmatu Mayor Shallal Abdul explains the troops are still in their same positions, they're just now working for and paid by the Peshmerga -- the elite Kurdish fighting force.
National Iraqi News Agency reports a Mosul roadside bombing has injured three police officers.  They also report mass arrests in Hamrin Hills (near Baquba, 5 people), and in Diwaniyah Province (25). Mainly, they report a Mosul car bombing attack on Nineveh Province Governor Atheel al-Nujaifi.   Sameer N. Yacoub (AP) adds that the assassination attempt claimed the lives of 2 by-standers.  Atheel is a Sunni, he's a member of Iraqiya, he's the brother of  Osama al-Nujaif, the Speaker of the Iraqi Parliament, and he's been repeatedly targeted with verbal attacks from Nouri for the last two years.  (Nouri has tried to force him out of office repeatedly.)  Like the arrest warrant for Haider al-Mulla, this will only increase tensions in Iraq.  Alsumaria adds that the bombing left six people injured (including 3 of Atheel's bodguards), 2 Mosul bombings left two Iraqi soldiers, one civilian male and his son injured,  and that the Kirkuk airport was the location for a rocket attack today.

jason ditz

the associated press

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