Saturday, September 19, 2009

THIS JUST IN! BIG BONED!

BULLY BOY PRESS & CEDRIC'S BIG MIX -- THE KOOL-AID TABLE

CELEBRITY IN CHIEF BARRY O WANTS TO ENRICH INSURANCE COMPANIES AND BIG PHARMA AND WITH PUBLIC SUPPORT FOR HIS 'PLAN' NON-EXISTENT, HE'S DEPLOYED WHAT THE PRESS IS CALLING A "HEAVYWEIGHT" ALTHOUGH WE'D JUST CALL MICHELLE "BIG BONED." OTHERS REFER TO HER AS A HEALTHY EATER.


FROM THE TCI WIRE:

Meanwhile David Bedein (Philadelphia Bulletin) reports RAND Corporation's "Withdrawing from Iraq: Alternative Schedules, Associated Risks, and Mitigating Strategies" from July was submitted to Department of Defense this week. Bedein notes that the report found that the central government in Baghdad would not be able to 'eradicate' al Qaeda in Iraq.The report was released in July and (my summary) it argues that a draw down is fine but US troops cannot leave Iraq. Because of al Qaeda in Iraq? No, the report is primarily arguing that a full US departure would lead Turkey to invade. And, since July, it's been a rare week that the report's assertion hasn't been decried by some Turkish news outlet. For example, Sunday Hurriyet Daily News ran the editorial "From the Bosphorus: Straight - RAND report wreaks of arrogance:"
There was a time, a certain age of innocence really, when it was possible to despise the CIA and associated intelligence agencies for their apparent evil. But today, we must regard them with contempt for their stupidity. A case in point of international diplomacy at its arrogant worst is the new RAND Corporation report upon which Daily News Ankara bureau chief Serkan DemirtaƟ reported in the weekend newspaper. The "sponsored" research by RAND basically urges the U.S. Obama Administration to threaten Turkey with "negative consequences" to its European Union bid should any incursion into northern Iraq impede American withdrawal from that desperate and war-torn country. [. . .]So we take great offense that RAND believes Turkey should be muscled into continuing this policy as insurance against a military incursion by Turkey in the wake of an Iraqi civil war sparked by the American exit. Such a report, particularly if embraced by Obama as policy, is simply a guarantee that the legitimacy of the "Kurdish opening" will be challenged by many in Turkey and probably derailed. Essentially, RAND's warning risks a self-fulfilling prophecy. We take particular offense that RAND would suggest U.S. coordination with European allies to make sure Turkey "understands" that any move into Iraq will harm the country's EU bid. RAND should "understand" Turkish sentiment. It is clear this institution does not. And this is why we can only summon contempt for a report that reeks of arrogance. This has not been a minor issue in Turkey and Hurriyet is among the most recent to weigh in and Sol's reporting on it today. It's surprising that a RAND report which has caused so much controversy hasn't been reported on by the networks or US daily papers. Or maybe not surprising.The authors of the report are Walt L. Perry, Stuart E. Johnson, Keith W. Crane, David C. Gompert, John Gordon, Robert E. Hunter, Dalia Dassa Kaye, Terrence K. Kelly, Eric Peltz and Howard Shatz. In their preface [PDF format warning, click here for report] they note:The analysis supporting this report was completed in May 2009, andthe illustrative schedules all assume implementation decisions having been made in time for implementation in May, if not earlier. To the extent that such decisions are made later, the schedules would likely be pushed back accordingly. We recognize that any drawdown schedule that calls for U.S. forces remaining in Iraq beyond the end of December 2011 would require renegotiating the Security Agreement between the United States and Iraq.

The SOFA might be renegotiated? The study was prepared at the request of US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. Are you starting to get why US outlets haven't really explored the RAND study? No, the Iraq War has not ended and doesn't appear to be. Steven Verburg (Wisconsin state Journal) reports, "About 200 Madison-based members of the Wisconsin Air National Guard are heading for Iraq in the next week."

Yesterday's snapshot noted the Istanbul meet-up of Ahmed Davutoglu (Turkey's Foreign Minister), Hoshyar Zebari (Iraq's Foreign Minister), Walid Mualem (Syria's Foreign Minister) Amr Moussa (Arab League Secretary General). Today's Zaman notes the meeting continued on Firday and that Turkey's Foreign Minister "Davutoglu also said the meeting in Istanbul would be preparation for the upcoming meeting of the High-Level Strategic Cooperation Council, which will be held in Baghdad, with Prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki presiding over the meeting." He states, "This is such an important project that, when realized, peoples living side by side for centuries will reunite in a shared economic basin. Our capabillities and assets will be mobilized to create a very powerful economic region." Barcin Yinanc (Hurriyet Daily News) reports, "Turkey again tried to assume the role of 'troubleshooter' Thursday as it pressed Syria and Iraq to ease the tension stemming from Iraqi accusations that Syria is behind bomb attacks in Baghdad." That's how it's reported in Turkey -- a long, long way from assertions Hoshyar Zebari has made on Al Jazeera TV where he repeatedly insists that Turkey sees Iraq in the right and Syria in the wrong.

Meanwhile, on the topic of Iraqi refugees, a rebuke to Nouri and his strong-arm attempts on relief agencies and the United Nations. Julian Isherwood (Politiken) reports Iraq's Sunni Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi "has urged Denmark to reconsider the forced repatriation of Iraqis whose requests for asylum in Denmark have been refused." The Copenhagen Post adds that "Helle Lykke Nielsen, associate professor at the University of Souterhn Denmark's Centre for Middle East Studies, believes the message is a way of telling Denmark that its current method of forcing Iraqis back to their country needs to be changed." Nouri al-Maliki has been eager to force the returns. He's now joined by the dim bulb Chris Hill, US Ambassador to Iraq. Testifying to Congress last week [see Thursday's snapshot here, Friday's here and Kat's post here], Hill insisted to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the Iraqi refugees had to return for Iraq's own security. Yeah, the widow who saw her husband and oldest son shot dead before her and now lives in Syria? Without her, all of Iraq will crumble. Chris Hill was so very lucky that the press had little interest in his testimony. It was with the House Foreign Relations Committee, for example, under direct questioning from US House Rep Ted Poe that Hill had to admit the US had prior knowledge that the assault on Camp Ashraf and the Iranian refugees in the camp would take place. Hill was blabbering on about assurances that Nouri had given that the residents would be treated fairly and humanely and Poe interruped.

US House Rep Ted Poe: Excuse me, just to clairy the question -- or the answer -- was this before or after the security forces came into Camp Ashraf that we got this assurance?

Chris Hill: This uh, was before, because our -- The UN mandate for the -- for us to run -- to be responsible for uh this camp ended at the end of 2008 -- after 2008 -- that is, starting January 1, this year -- it is the sovereign and sole responsiblity of the Iraqi govenment and because of that, we sought from them written assurances that they would treat them humanely and that they would not forcibly repatriate them where they would be -- they could be -- tortured or persecuted based on their religious or political beliefs.

US House Rep Ted Poe: It doesn't appear that they have been treated humanely if eleven of them were murdered and thirty-six others were arrested.

Chris Hill: Well on July 28th, Iraqi forces went in to try to set up a uh police station. They regarded that as uh an exercise of their sovereignty because Ashraf is in Iraq.

US House Rep Ted Poe: Did we know about that before it happened?

Chris Hill: We -- I understand that -- They told us that -- Yes, they were going to do this.

So not only were their warnings from members of the British Parliament but Nouri -- according to Hill -- informed the US government that the 'action' was going to take place July 28th. For those who've forgotten, US troops were in the area when the assault took place and were ordered to stand down as they saw people bloodied. After his exchange with Poe, way after, US House Rep Sheila Jackson Lee raised the issue and he fell back to "my previous answer" (to Poe) and declared that the US had "two committments that wev'e seen in -- what we've had in writing from the Iraqi government. One, that they will respect the human rights of the camp residents. And, two, that they will not engage in any forced repatriations to Iran." Yes, that was a ridiculous response. Nouri had already broken the early agreement with the assault on July 28th. As US House Rep Sheila Jackson Lee observed, "Well I think that they're handling their business poorly and I would ask that, if there are human rights violations this blaring, we need to have answer and I appreciate if we'll have the opportunity to get them."



RECOMMENDED: "Iraq snapshot"
"Say hello to the new Judy Millers"
"Biden's visit to Iraq, mortars"
"I Hate The War"
"Bully Boy & The Thirteenth Confession "
"Bob Somerby's a blog tease"
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"Certify Schechter nuts"
"Serious realities"
"Friday! Sushi Friday!"
"Max Blumenthal practices McCarthyism as does KPFA"
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"THIS JUST IN! CAUGHT IN A LIE!"

Thursday, September 17, 2009

THIS JUST IN! CAUGHT IN A LIE!

BULLY BOY PRESS & CEDRIC'S BIG MIX -- THE KOOL-AID TABLE

HEY REMEMBER A MONTH AGO WHEN POLITICAL CLOSET CASE AMY GOODMAN DECLARED IN HER AUGUST 17TH HEADLINES:

"MANY BRITONS WERE SURPRISED TO READ A RECENT EDITORIAL IN THE AMERICAN NEWSPAPER INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY. THE EDITORIAL STATED, "PEOPLE SUCH AS SCIENTIST STEPHEN HAWKING WOULDN'T HAVE A CHANCE IN THE UK, WHERE THE NATIONAL HEALTH SERVICE WOULD SAY THE LIFE OF THIS BRILLIANT MAN, BECAUSE OF HIS PHYSICAL HANDICAPS, IS ESSENTIALLY WORTHLESS." HAWKING WAS IN FACT BORN IN THE UK AND HAS LIVED THERE HIS WHOLE LIFE. THE PAPER WAS FORCED TO RUN A CORRECTION."

TODAY, SEPTEMEBER 17TH, AMY GOODMAN WAS STRANGELY QUIET REGARDING A DEVELOPMENT FROM BARACK'S ADDRESS TO CONGRESS LAST WEEK.

IF LAUGHING AT FOOLS DOES IT FOR YOU, GET THIS. BARACK DECLARED THAT A PATIENT (OTTO RADDATZ) HAD DIED WHEN HIS INSURANCE COMPANY CANCELLED HIS POLICY WHILE HE WAS HAVING CHEMO TREATMENTS.

"THEY DELAYED HIS TREATMENT," DECLARED THE CELEBRITY IN CHIEF, "AND HE DIED BECAUSE OF IT."

WOOPS! THAT TOOK PLACE IN 2005.

ACTIONS RESULTED IN THE POLICY BEING REINSTATED.

HE DIDN'T DIE THEN (2005), HE DIED IN 2008.

WOOPS!

FROM THE TCI WIRE:


Peace Mom Cindy Sheehan hosts a weekly radio and online broadcast, Cindy's Soapbox. This week's first guest is independent journalist Dahr Jamail whose latest book is The Will to Resist: Soldiers Who Refuse to Fight in Iraq and Afghanistan. We noted a section of the broadcast yesterday and we'll note another section today where Cindy and Dahr discuss his new book.

Cindy Sheehan: Dahr tell my listeners about your book The Will to Resist. I just I support soldiers who refuse to go to these illegal and immoral wars. I support them financially, I support them morally. My son didn't want to go but he thought it was his duty so he went and he was killed hours after he actually got to post. But the thing I support about these-these men and women is that they realize they're being used as tools of the US empire and they don't want to die and they don't want to kill anybody as tools. So tell my listeners about your book.
Dahr Jamail: And that is really the spirit of the book. It's about people in the military, most of which are Iraq and/or Afghanistan veterans, some of them are active duty folks. And it's about people that basically joined the military for various reasons whether it's for economic reasons or out of patriotism or wanting to serve their country and then realizing that being in Iraq or Afghanistan, it literally pushes them up against a moral crisis where they realized they're being asked to follow unlawful orders and so many of them understand that, for example, not only the situation in Iraq but the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan violates the Geneva Conventions as well which by definition given that the US is a signatory of the Geneva Conventions, violates the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution which then by definition puts a soldier in a moral crisis where they have to decide "Do I follow these orders which are actually illegal by both domestic and international law or do I stand up and refuse?" And to do the moral thing as well as the lawful thing, these people realize, well I'm going to have to take a stand and basically go up against against the US military and be court martialed and probably have to do some jail time and so I-I started running into people who were actually taking public stands against both occupations as well as other kinds of resistance against of which there's myriad types of resistance -- whether it's from doing fake patrols in Iraq and Afghanistan or coming back home and becoming very outspoken against it and having things like Winter Soldier events like Iraq Veterans Against the War sponsored. So really I started running into all these different types of resistance that veterans and active duty folks were involved in and realized "Wow, there's more than enough material here to write a book."

Cindy Sheehan: And so, um, most of my listeners know what Winter Soldier is, my listeners are very smart and they're very well informed. But for maybe a few that wouldn't know what Winter Soldier is, could you explain to my listeners what that was?

Dahr Jamail: Winter Soldier was a phenomena that began during Vietnam when similarly soldiers were coming back from Vietnam and realizing that most of the people in this country were not getting any real clear information about how bad it was over there and what was actually happening. So similarly a bunch of Iraq and Afghanistan War veterans associated with Iraq Veterans Against the War came back and held a big conference in Silver Spring, Maryland -- it was spring a year ago. And about fifty-six or so of them testified on different panels about what they did in Iraq, what they saw over there and showed photos and showed videos and really gave us a clear picture about what it was and the atrocities they were carrying out and how horrible the situation really was. It was a really shocking conference to be a part of and be there and was a very, very difficult weekend but a very necessary one and so it was all over the alternative media of course -- Pacifica outlets, some satellite stations, Democracy Now!, etc., Laura Flanders, but of course no big shocker corporate media in large part basically censored it.

We're stopping there. KPFA carried the first IVAW Winter Soldier starting Friday morning, continuing Saturday and Sunday. Aaron Glantz and Aimee Allison anchored the coverage. Pacifica Radio's webpage offered all of that coverage in a live stream and once offered it in full. Then it was decided that KPFA The War Comes Home was archiving, so it could be removed from the Pacifica site. It's a little over a year later. The War Comes Home? It's been history for months now. Click here for March 14th live coverage, here for March 15th live coverage, here for March 16h live coverage at KPFA. Now in real time, WBAI elected not to break away from their very pressing weekend schedule of repeats of dead Al Lewis programs and moldy-oldy records. Translation, they didn't broadcast Winter Soldier on Saturday or on Sunday. Democracy Now!? Click here and here for their broadcast (which is more of a mix). Iraq Veterans Against the War's Winter Soldier page provides a link to video of this Winter Soldier (other Winter Soldiers have been staged regionally since -- at least two in California). Click here for Sprouts coverage of it (one hour, audio, also a mix). Chris Hayes wrote about it for The Nation (which was tremendously appreciated and that's not sarcasm). Despite a promise from a publisher of an indy rag -- shall I start telling tales off the school yard? -- that he would write about it . . . he 'forgot.' Let's drop the pretense that anyone did a damn thing in Panhandle Media. The ones who did -- whether I like them or not -- are mentioned: Aimee Allison, Aaron Glantz, Christopher Hayes, Amy Goodman, Laura Flanders. The ones who didn't? Oh, I could make a list. Including the author whose book was cited at Winter Soldier, who swore he'd cover it and then . . . like ____ . . . forgot.

And all those promises
That you made me from the start
Were filled with emptiness
From the desert of your heart
Every sweet caress
Was just your second best
Broken promises
-- "All Those Promises," written by Janis Ian, from her album Folk Is The New Black

Sidebar, Janis is touring (always) and one show is in Dallas, Texas. A record producer friend asked that we get the word out on it. Tickets are priced from $25 to $75 for the October 22nd concert presented by the North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce in cooperation with StraightOut Media & Marketing, SRO Artists and Revenge Touring, Inc. Click here for details and to purchase tickets. Back to the topic at hand . . .


No offense, but I'm not in the mood for this bulls**t. This bulls**t not being called out loudly in real time resulted in where we are today.

Little useless Jeff Cohen shows up a week after Winter Soldier presenting a pat-on-the-back column for Panhandle Media where he LIED that people could hear it on the radio and get it here and there and everywhere. LIES. WBAI did one damn day. That's NYC. That's a huge population center and it's the media center, THE, in the US. One damn day. More important to air repeats of Al Lewis' program -- in March 2008, more important to air repeats of Al Lewis' radio program, Al Lewis who died in February 2006.

We covered it in this community. This isn't empty finger-pointing. Community-wide, refer to "I Hate The War," "Iraq snapshot," "Jason Hurd (IVAW's Winter Soldiers Investigation),"
"IVAW's Clifton Hicks," "Kelly Dougherty at Winter Soldiers Investigation," "Corporal Eric Estenzo testifies at Winter Soldiers...," "Steve Mortillo at Winter Soldiers Investigation,"
"adrienne kinne reveals the v.a. system," "Nachos in the Kitchen (and Adam Kokesh),"
"Tantrum in the Oval Office" & " THIS JUST IN! INTERVIEW IN THE OVAL OFFICE!" (joint-post), "Katrina vanden Heuvel avoids Winter Soldier," "Saturday's Winter Soldier Investigation," "Truest Statement of the Week," "Editorial: Are you ready to listen," "TV: Nothing-ness," "Veterans Healthcare," "Roundtable," "Negative Critisicm of Winter Soldiers Investigation," "And the war drags on . . .," "Iraq snapshot," "Dahlai Wasfi: Rock Star," "Garret Reppenhagen at Winter Soldier," "Jesse Hamilton Winter Soldier," "IVAW, silence, Hillary," "CounterPunch never heard of IVAW?," "Common Dreams doesn't include Winter Soldier," "Iraq snapshot," "Jesse Hamilton Winter Soldier Investigation," "Iraq snapshot," "The Peter Pans of Panhandle Media refused to cover Winter Soldiers," "Jesse Hamilton, Hillary, Barack," "Video, Hillary's Iraq speech," "Jesse Hamilton Winter Soldier," "Iraq snapshot" and "Ron Cantu at Winter Soldier." I may have missed something but that's the coverage beginning the Thursday Winter Soldier started and continuing through the week after it ended.

There were tons of stories to be told, tons of thing to comment on or share. But people took a pass. And then after, people took a pass on calling out the silence. Whores like Jeff Cohen showed up to attack Real Media for not covering but he had nothing to say about the many, many in Panhandle Media who ignored it. (And Real Media did do some coverage by the way. We covered that in real time. I'm not in the mood to go through all that now.) (John Stauber critiqued the silence on Winter Soldier. To be clear, John Stauber did not and is not a whore. He and Cohen were both guests for a KPFA segment and I don't want anyone to wrongly think that he's being lumped in with Cohen.) FAIR, Coehn's brothel, showed up the Friday after Winter Soldier ended with CounterSpin where they found time to cluck over the lack of coverage . . . but forgot to include themselves because FAIR has a website and forgot to do a damn thing on Winter Soldier before it started or while it was going on. That's empty finger-pointing. Repeating, in this community, we covered it in real time.

This topic will come back up at Third this weekend. But for now, this nonsense of acting like Panhandle Media did something? It didn't do a damn thing. It's as pathetic as Green Party members being thrilled that Amy Goodman gives their national convention, where they nominate a presidential candidate, a mention in headlines. The Green Party gets a headline. The DNC convention gets ten hours of coverage from Amy Goodman. The RNC convention gets tens hours of coverage from Amy Goodman. But Greens want to pretend that getting tossed scraps is something wonderful. I'm not in the mood for scraps. Winter Soldier was a HUGE story and should have been the biggest story for anyone slightly-left-of-center all the way to the extreme end. Now The Progressive missed Winter Soldier. Completely. While it was happening, they took a pass. But the week after Winter Soldier, they're live blogging a multi-day DNC event. Don't forget that. Don't forget where their priorities were.

Good luck to Dahr with his book The Will to Resist: Soldiers Who Refuse to Fight in Iraq and Afghanistan but I'm not in the mood for pretending what happened didn't happen nor am I dependent upon Foreign Policy in Focus, The Progressive or anyone else for good reviews or a paycheck. So I can and will call them out for their gross negligence and silence. And Ava and I went round and round with FPIF in real time. The refusal of others to do so, the refusal to hold them accountable? It's part of the reason why Iraq has fallen off the radar despite the fact that the illegal war continues.

In related news, which is also good news for Random House, George W. Bush is more popular than anyone could have guessed (Crown Publishing will be publishing Bully Boy Bush's memoir I Came, I Killed, I Giggled aka Decision Points). So says a new poll by Gallup which finds US President Barack Obama's highest job approval coming on the Iraq War with 56% under "approve." Since Barack's 'plan' is nothing but Bush's plan, 56% of the American people -- those polled by Gallup -- have just given George W. a big sloppy kiss.

Don't know just what I wanted
But I know I wanted more
Someone smooth, presentable
To blend with my decor
And now at night I think of how
You grinned when you undressed
And I find I miss you
More than I'd ever guessed
-- "The Carter Family," written by Jacob Brackman and Carly Simon, from her No Secrets album (Carly's new album, Never Been Gone, is released October 27th)

And apparently a large number of Americans just wanted someone "smooth, presentable" to continue the policies of George W. Bush because that's what Barack's done and, with regards to Iraq, that's all he's done. The Status Of Forces Agreement (a treaty masquerading as a SOFA) was pushed through by the Bush White House -- and prior to it being pushed through, Barack joined the chorus of US Congress members calling out the SOFA (Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Russ Feingold, etc.). And Barack promised that, ten months after being sworn in, US forces would be out of Iraq! (Houston, Texas, speech given February, 2008. Check Tom Hayden's dresser for mash notes and fan fiction on the speech.) Sworn in and, golly, he decides the 'plan' for Iraq is . . . exactly what Bush mapped out. And 56% of Americans surveyed are fine and dandy with it. Barack Obama has not ended the Iraq War. Iraqis have not stopped dying, US forces have not stopped dying. Greenville Daily News reports that the 1073rd Maintenance Company of the Michigan Army National Guard "earlier served more than a year in Iraq is going back for 12 more months." They quote Sgt Amanda Cole stating, "We're not as comfortable with our mission. We've never done this before. A lot of the weapons we'll be using have never been used before by members of our unit." At The Hill, two comments on the polling results are worth noting. Jim: "Isn't it interesting that his highest approval rating is simply for the continuation of the Bush doctrine in Iraq . . . hmmm . . ." and Bob: "Exactly the point! He is doing best in the one thing he has not tried to change!!! America? Do you get it yet?" Do not think the right-wing hasn't noticed the hypocrisy of so many on the left. Paul Gottfried (Right Side News) went to town yesterday, "These days, as I walk among my formerly pacifist colleagues and read their preferred news sources, I don't hear a murmur of complaint about 'the president's strategy' for extricating our troops from military danger. It is as if we were living in messianic times, when the wolf is lying down with the lamb. This is all because we now have Obama in the White House and overwhelming Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress. Once I was naive enough to wonder why the critics of our war in Iraq on the right and on the left did not join hands in a common enterprise. The answer is that the Democratic Left, with few exceptions, was never opposed in principle to military entanglements overseas. While rightwing opponents of Bush's foreign policy were marginalized and vilified for their dissent by GOP commentators and the mainstream conservative movement, the Democratic Left engaged in griping as a means of taking power." The only 'change' has been the 'antiwar' movement packing it in after they whored to elect a Democratic president. Jeremy Scahill (The Nation via CBS News) asks, "Why Is Obama Still Using Blackwater?" and notes:

Two years to the day after the Nisour Square massacre, Blackwater remains in Iraq, armed and dangerous. As The Nation has reported, the Obama administration recently extended the company's contract there indefinitely. Blackwater has big-money contracts in Afghanistan as well, working for the State Department, the Defense Department and the CIA. As in Iraq, Blackwater forces are alleged to have shot and killed innocent civilians there. We now know that Blackwater was hired as part of the secret CIA assassination program that former Vice President Dick Cheney ordered concealed from Congress and that the company continues to work for the CIA as part of its drone bombing campaign in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Meanwhile Kristin M. Hall (AP) reports on military widow Hotaru Ferschke whose husband, Sgt. Michael Ferschke, died serving in Iraq August 10, 2008. He was shot dead during a house search. He and Hoatru had married a month before and she gave birth to their son, Michael "Mikey" Ferschke III, eight months ago. They married by proxy which means a ceremony "on seperate continents" and with his dying a month later, immigration officials are insisting the marriage isn't valid because, get this, it was not consummated.A child would argue the relationship was. More importantly, immigration isn't supposed to be concerned with consummation. They're required to make sure that marriages are valid but as to whether or not a couple actually has sex? That's really none of the government's business. There are couples -- if you caught that bad 20/20 'medical' show, you know this -- who do not have sex. The article notes talk that the law needs to be updated but it actually needs to be tossed out and any judge worth his or her salt would move to do so quickly. It's creating a barrier that's not present in other legally recognized marriages in the US.Hall reports that Hotaru and Michael spent "13 months" together "before he left for Iraq in April 2008. He had proposed and they were trying to conceive a baby before he deployed, Hotaur Ferschke said." Approximately two weeks after he deployed, Hotaru discovered she was pregnant and the couple then moved quickly to have the proxy marriage. This was to be sure Michael's military benefits covered the pregnancy expenses and, you can be sure, this was also to be sure -- for both Michael and Hotaur -- that their relationship was legally recognized.Now immigration is threatening deportation. Her mother-in-law, Robin Ferschke states, "She's like my daughter. I know my child chose the perfect wife and mother of his child." US House Rep John Duncan has a bill that needs a sponsor in the Senate. Apparently Bob Corker and Lamar Alexander are too busy to sign on. (Tennessee is the family's state.)

We'll close with this from the last of the independents, the true independents, Chris Hedges (via Information Clearing House):

The right-wing accusations against Barack Obama are true. He is a socialist, although he practices socialism for corporations. He is squandering the country's future with deficits that can never be repaid. He has retained and even bolstered our surveillance state to spy on Americans. He is forcing us to buy into a health care system that will enrich corporations and expand the abuse of our for-profit medical care. He will not stanch unemployment. He will not end our wars. He will not rebuild the nation. He is a tool of the corporate state.The right wing is not wrong. It is not the problem. We are the problem. If we do not tap into the justifiable anger sweeping across the nation, if we do not militantly push back against corporate fraud and imperial wars that we cannot win or afford, the political vacuum we have created will be filled with right-wing lunatics and proto-fascists. The goons will inherit power not because they are astute, but because we are weak and inept.Violence is a dark undercurrent of American history. It is exacerbated by war and economic decline. Violence is spreading outward from the killing fields in Iraq and Afghanistan to slowly tear apart individuals, families and communities. There is no immunity. The longer the wars continue, the longer the members of our working class are transformed by corporate overlords into serfs, the more violence will dominate the landscape. The slide into chaos and a police state will become inevitable.The soldiers and Marines who return from Iraq and Afghanistan are often traumatized and then shipped back a few months later to be traumatized again. This was less frequent in Vietnam. Veterans, when they get out, search for the usual escape routes of alienation, addictions and medication. But there is also the escape route of violence. We risk creating a homegrown Freikorps, the demobilized German soldiers from World War I who violently tore down the edifice of the Weimar Republic and helped open the way to Nazism.


RECOMMENDED: "Iraq snapshot"
"Biden in Iraq, US immigration tries to kick a widow and young mother out of the country"
"Camp Bucca closes, Mary Travers passes away"
"Alex Insenstadt, Bob Somerby"
"Kucinich on health care, me on Hillary"
"Cass Elliot"
"the czars"
"Dennis Kucinich, Charles Lane"
"Carly Simon, David Saw"
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"Somerby & Peanut Head"
"It's not forgotten by me"
"Brian Montopoli, Debra Sweet"
"Jimmy, Jimmy Hack, stay away and don't come back"
"THIS JUST IN! THE WRECKING CREW!"

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

THIS JUST IN! THE WRECKING CREW!

BULLY BOY PRESS & CEDRIC'S BIG MIX -- THE KOOL-AID TABLE
FORMER PRESIDENT JIMMY CARTER MISSES THE LIMELIGHT. THE MILLIONAIRE WHO POSED AS A SIMPLE PEANUT FARMER, HOODWINKED JANN S. WENNER BY (MIS)QUOTING BOB DYLAN AND HINTED TO REPORTERS IN 1975 THAT HE SMOKED POT IS BACK IN THE NEWS.
MOST AMERICANS HAVE NO IDEA WHO HE IS AND THOSE WHO DID UNIVERSALLY RESPONDED, "ISN'T HE DEAD?"
REACHED FOR COMMENT BY THESE REPORTERS, JIMMY CARTER SOBBED OVER THE PHONE, "I HAVE SECRETLY BEEN A RACIST IN MY HEART AND MY MOUTH IS THE NATIONAL MALAISE."
Peace Mom Cindy Sheehan hosts a weekly radio and online broadcast, Cindy's Soapbox. This week's guest is independent journalist Dahr Jamail whose latest book is The Will to Resist: Soldiers Who Refuse to Fight in Iraq and Afghanistan. We'll note a section of their discussion today and a section on the book later in the week (hopefully tomorrow).
Cindy Sheehan: So, you know, many people voted for Barack Obama. And I fully, fully believe that the Democratic base in this country is anti-war. They want the war in Iraq over, the war in Afghanistan over, they want the troops to start coming home. That actually, in reality, hasn't happened. And this week has been -- there's a lot of stuff coming out of Iraq. You know the people in the government in Iraq are afraid that [Nouri al-] Maliki is trying to turn into a quasi dictator. He's ousting some people from the Interior Ministry which has been very corrupt. People I know in Iraq tell me the Interior Ministry is awful. There were 25 Iraqis killed in northern Iraq near Mosul the other day. It seems like things are really heating up in the Kurdish areas. And yesterday, 44 Iraqis were killed and 61 wounded in another Kurdish village. And we had four US soldiers killed not yesterday but the day before. And there was a report that came out that said the US is going to be taking troops out but they're going to be replacing them with mercenaries -- more than 2 to 1, in a 2 to 1 ratio, mercenaries coming from Uganda or Kenya. Dahr, what do you -- I know you have a lot of good contacts there and I know that you've been there a lot -- what's your analysis of what's happening in Iraq?
Dahr Jamail: Well for starters, Maliki is not a quasi-dictator, I mean he already is. He's basically the new Shia Saddam. I mean, there's no question about it. This is a guy that the US put into power. They're maintaining him there and largely through the intelligence services and the Mukhabarat and the Ministry of Interior. I mean, that's how this guy is staying in power. Saddam knew that the glue of his power resided in the intelligence services and Mal -- the US has helped Maliki do the same thing. Let's, let's remember that this is a guy, there was no democratic process involved in him becoming prime minister. He was basically inserted to replace Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari because Condaleeza Rice wanted him there, you know at the beckoning of George W. Bush. So there's that. And we look at the overall situation. Violence is not slowing down. Last month was the single bloodiest month for Iraqi civilians in over a year's time. We are starting to see more and more attacks on US forces. We still have over 131,000 US military personnel there. That number is not decreasing but the generals in charge of the situation are saying that that number will actually -- we'll have well over 100,000 troops in Iraq till at least half-way through next year. So it's a dire situation and when I was there earlier this year, there was a car bomb in Baghdad just about every day I was there for the month that I was there. We're looking at a situation where the country overall has become extremely Balkanized, where literally going from one neighborhood to another is almost like going to a different country. You basically had to embed with a militia to get where ever you wanted to go. So it's a dire situation and it's far, far, far from over. And we're looking at a situation where, I think in the coming months, we should expect it to get worse unfortunately.
Cindy Sheehan: And unfortunately, when we say expect it to get worse, most Americans equate that with US deaths. So there's a -- there's one aspect that has been fortunate for US soldiers is those amounts of deaths have been going down so Iraq has practically disappeared off the radar screen of our media and of public consciousness. One of my friends was in Washington D.C. on March 19th for the sixth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq and he was passing out fliers and one woman told him, "Why are you doing this? The Iraq War is over. Obama's president."
Dahr Jamail: Right. And it's amazing Cindy -- as you know all too well, probably better than anyone -- that the single most challenging thing to those of us trying to wake people up and inform people about what's actually happening in Iraq and what is US policy, the single greatest obstacle at this point is a guy named Barack Obama, where so many people have drunk the Obama Kool-Aid and they wore their t-shirts in November and he was elected and they feel like, "Hey, that's it. It's all good now, right? He's pulling out of Iraq and it's going to take some time -- I'm sure it's a bit complicated -- but things are getting better there, right?" Or "We won" -- quote unquote, "right?" And it could not be further from the truth. I mean we're still loking at anywhere between a dozen and a hundred Iraqis being killed every day and attacks on US troops there continue, the infrastructure's far worse now than it was even a couple of years ago and that that's even possible seems pretty amazing. And it's extremely unstable politically. And I think it's probably just a matter of time before we have another huge explosion and, you know, unfortunately what it really takes for people to pay attention over there is when more and more US troops are being killed but unfortunately that's probably what's going to happen -- not even talking about Afghanistan.
Cindy Sheehan: Well talk about the surge that began in January of 2007, I believe.
Dahr Jamail: Yes.
Cindy Sheehan: And about how the Republicans and the neoconservatives who are still, of course, in Obama's administration, how they term that a "success." What was really the cost of that so-called "success" and why do they even think it's a success?
Dahr Jamail: Well you know it's amazing, it's been another amazing propaganda campaign and a successful one -- the whole so-called "surge" -- because the reality is that what really caused dramatic decrese in American deaths was the buying off of the resistance -- where basically the US instituted a program back in 2006 before they even started sending in these 30,000 additional troops, where they literally found corrupt tribal sheiks and paid them off to get fighters under their control to stop attacking occupation forces. And it was relatively successful so temporarily the US stood up this 100,000 strong Sunni militia comprised mostly of former resistance fighters, paying them $300 a month in US tax payer money and we saw a dramatic decline in US deaths. But now it's-it's really complicated the situation politically because now we have these armed milita men running around and they're not being encorporated into the government forces as was promised and so we're looking at a tinderbox politically where these guys want political power. What's going to happen in the upcoming January elections, which are not far off now, if these guys don't get the political power? Many of them are already talking about going back into the political resistance and we know what that means.
Cindy Sheehan: Right and also what you talked about earlier is the Balkanization of the country has basically -- and I have not been to Iraq myself but I've talked to Iraqis all over the world, I've been to Jordan meeting with them -- and they basically say that neighborhoods that were very diverse are now just the opposite. They're all, like you said, you have to -- you have to pass through checkpoints to get to each neighborhood which had a result of -- and let's just face it Dahr, over one million people are dead and four million people displaced so the country's been decimated in population.
Dahr Jamail: It has. And in addition to those figures, we can add another eight million in need of emergency assistance and who are also living in abject poverty on less than a dollar a day according to OXFAM International. I mean, the situation is not getting any better for the Iraqi people. It's really amazing how bad it got and how it's continued to worsen and yet, of course, so many people -- even so-called anti-war folks in this country -- think, "Oh well it's better." Or, "It's won." Actually, you can't tell that to people in Iraq just trying to survive on a daily basis.
Cindy Sheehan: And it's heartbreaking. And the tragedy is that many of the large anti-war movements were co-opted by the Democratic Party. And I just get so frustrated because, like you, I haven't stopped my activism, I haven't stopped working, war is wrong no matter who's president. But it's really frustrating because these same people who supported Obama even those his Iraq plan was unsatisfactory and even though he promised to send more troops to Afghanistan, he promised to do this cross-border bombing into the tribal regions of Pakistan, they supported him, they raised money for him, they worked for him and they voted for him, they had their followers vote for him and now they write a petition to him to stop it.
Dahr Jamail: Right and, as we know, it's going to take a lot more than signing your name on a petition or wearing a t-shirt or even at this point walking in a street on a weekend. It's really, you know, the only thing that this administration or any other administration is going to understand is when it becomes politically unviable for them to continue forward with the policies that they are engaged in. And it's up to us to show them, look, not only do we disagree with this but we will, we will be your political death if you continue on with this policy that you literally won't be able to stay in power and have any kind of a base whatsoever if you continue forward with this US empire policy. And so that's what it's going to take. It's going to take real mobilization and real sacrifice and, uh, really people throwing their bodies on the front lines to make this stop. Not just signing a petition, not just trying to ask Nancy Pelosi "please," but, you know, clearly these people will only listen to things when they're personal stake -- i.e. their own political power and their own political future -- is at stake. And, again, if we aren't making -- if we aren't pushing them up against that wall, then to think that anything's just going to change? We might as well go to Disneyland.
Cindy Sheehan: Well, you know, we're on a subject -- we' just have like a minute before we have to take a break -- what do you think about these people who support Obama and they don't make any demands on him or political demands? They say, "Well at least he's better than [John] McCain." What do you think about the -- the foreign policy choices Obama's made compared to what -- would McCain have done anything differently?
Dahr Jamail: Yeah, I think that that's a nice rationalization for political sloth for people to say, "Well you know Obama's -- at least he's better than, you know, insert, you know, name of idiot here" -- whether it be McCain or Sarah Palin or George Bush because the reality when we look at the hard facts which are the National Security Strategy of the United States and the Quadrennial Defense Review report these are the exact same reports running US policy now as we had under George Bush. These policies have literally not changed, they haven't been updated, nor were they supposed to be. And, in fact, of course we've maintained Bush's Secretary of Defense in Robert Gates and, as you noted, most of the leading hawks and advisers from [Bill] Clinton's time as well as some that were hung over from George W. Bush. So we've had literally no policy change whatsoever. Instead all we have is, you know, a charasmatic, articulate, intelligent person as president as opposed to a bumbling buffoon. But that's the only thing that's really changed. When we look at the hard policies on the ground we've seen just nothing more but a continuation of George Bush's administration. We are really in George Bush's third term if we're going to get down to the brass tacks.
US Vice President Joe Biden remained in Iraq today continuing meetings with various leaders. Gina Chon (Wall St. Journal) reports that for the second day of his trip, the Green Zone was agains targeted and Biden and Nouri had "to remain inside the building because of the explosions." The building? Nouri's palace. Today is day two of the rocket or mortar attacks aimed at the area the vice president of the United States is in. Day two. Certainly, in the US, all newscasts Tuesday led with that news. Right?
First up, Vice President Joe Biden makes a surprise visit to Iraq. During the trip, he was scheduled to meet the country's leaders and with U.S. troops. But there was a distraction when the International Zone in Baghdad came under fire. A CNN reporter said the vice president wasn't injured, but it wasn't clear whether he was actually near where the attack took place because reporters aren't allowed to discuss the VP's location. That's for security reasons. Mr. Biden arrived in the Middle Eastern nation on Tuesday. He said he made the trip, in part, to show support for the Iraqi government as it takes full control of its country. All U.S. combat troops are scheduled to leave Iraq by next August.
Is that Katie Couric with The CBS Evening News? Is it Brian Williams with NBC Nightly News? Is it Charlie Gibson with ABC World News Tonight? Maybe it's Jim Lehr with PBS' The NewsHour?
Wrong. It's Carl Azuz, the anchor of CNN Student News. It's Carl Azuz doing the newscast aimed at middle and high school students. What a proud moment for the broadcast networks -- commercial and allegedly non-commerical. What a telling moment. Steven Lee Myers (New York Times) reports that 3 suspects were arrested in yesterday's shelling which used "107-millimeter rockets" and not mortars, that 2 Iraqis died and five were injured and that, "Inside the embassy compound, a piercing 'duck and cover' alarm began moments after the American military commander, Gen. Ray Odierno, told reporters traveling with Mr. Biden that security remained at its lowest levels since the war began". The US military issued a statement praising the "quick reaction" of US and Iraqi forces who "recieved small arms fire from a house near the launch site. As elements from the joint patrol maneuvered against the small arms fire, a second element captured three Iraqi males and three rocket rails belevied to have been used in the attack." Tim Cocks and Jon Hemming (Reuters) report that the three suspects were released within hours of their arrest. But don't expect your evening news to tell you or show you that.
Nobody stopped to hear him
Though he played so sweet and high
They knew he had never
Been on their TV
So they passed his music by
-- "For Free," written by Joni Mitchell, from her Ladies of the Canyon album
And the Queen of Panhandle Media, Simply Red Amy Goodman? Not a damn bit interested. Not a damn bit. But, in varying degrees, they all had time for Crazy Ass Jimmy Carter, didn't they? (The White House has again distanced itself from Crazy Ass Jimmy.) You couldn't get Iraq on your TV but you could get nonsense. You could get crazed musing. Dan Simpson spent over 30 years in the US diplomatic service. He's on the editorial boards of both the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Toledo Blade. Today, while adults throw tantrums, he's stuck pretty much alone in the grown up role. In a new column, he argues that the US must leave Iraq regardless of whether violence increases or not and that they shouldn't leave Iraq to be sent to Afghanistan. From his "Leave Iraq to the Iraqis:"
The attitude that the U.S. government should maintain as Iraqis sort out who will rule Iraq after the United States leaves should be clear: The 29 million Iraqis have the right of self-determination, a principle to which Americans attach the utmost importance when it comes to our own country.
The fact that it will be messy in Iraq, reflecting the history of the country and the different peoples who comprise it, is none of our affair and no justification whatsoever for the U.S. delaying withdrawal or for re-intervention. Nor is the fact that the current structure of the new, post-Saddam Hussein Iraq is in no small part our doing since the invasion of 2003. U.S. withdrawal from Iraq will take place for our own reasons, just as our initial attack on the country did.
But it will be messy. The ethnic and religious make-up of Iraq will lie at the basis of the problems, becoming more intense as the time for full U.S. withdrawal ticks down. The population is approximately 60 percent Shiite Muslim, 20 percent Sunni Muslim and 20 percent Kurdish. Each group wants to rule the country, or at least part of it. And one prize that comes with political power is access to the lion's share of the country's oil revenues, big money.
It will be messy and it is messy.
RECOMMENDED: "Iraq snapshot"

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

THIS JUST IN! THEY'RE ALL WACKOS!

BULLY BOY PRESS & CEDRIC'S BIG MIX -- THE KOOL-AID TABLE


REMEMBER WHEN PRESIDENTS USED TO GOVERN?

CELEBRITY IN CHIEF BARRY O IS TOO BUSY SCHEDULING HIS TAPINGS TO MAKE TIME FOR GOVERNANCE. WHEN NOT TAPING PROMOS FOR GEORGE LOPEZ' BASIC CABLE SHOW, BARRY O CAN BE FOUND SITTING ACROSS FROM DAVE LETTERMAN.

INDUSTRY OBSERVERS PREDICT BARRY O'S PERFORMANCE WILL RANK RIGHT UP THERE WITH "THE DIVINE PERRINE" A FLAKY VALERIE PERRINE WHO BLAMED HER PERFORMANCE ON HAVING JUST FLOWN TO NYC LEADING DAVE AND SANDRA BERHARND TO REPEATEDLY MAKE FUN OF HER AFTER SHE'D LEFT THE SET.

ONCE UPON A TIME PRESIDENTS WAITED UNTIL AFTER THEY GOT OUT OF OFFICE TO DISGRACE THE OFFICE: JUST LOOK AT JIMMY CARTER TODAY -- FRESH FROM ATTACKING ISRAEL, HE NOW TURNS HIS CRAZY EYES TOWARDS THE U.S.


FROM THE TCI WIRE:

Iraqi journalist Muntadhar al-Zeidi (also spelled Muntadar al-Zaidi in some outlets) has been released from pison today in Baghdad. December 14th, Bully Boy Bush (still occupying the White House at that time) held a press conference in Baghdad with Nouri al-Maliki, prime minister and US-installed thug, where they lied and smiled and signed the treaties Bush pushed through (Strategic Framework Agreement and the treaty masquerading as a Status Of Forces Agreement.). Muntadhar was a journalist attending the press conference."This is a gift from the Iraqis. This is the farewell kiss you dog!" Muntadhar exclaimed hurling a shoe at Bush. And then, hurling a second shoe, "This is from the widows, the orphans and those who were killed in Iraq." Nouri's thugs pounced on Muntadhar and beat him up. He was then whisked away and, for weeks, denied all but one visitation with his family and attorney. In December, many in the press (including the New York Times) ran with a forced confession, presenting it as truth and asking no questions about it. He was sentenced to three years in prison but released today. ITV News (video clip) covers the release here. Alice Fordham and Richard Spencer (Telegraph of London) explain, "The three-year jail term for assaulting a foreign head of state was reduced on appeal to one year, with a three-month remission for good conduct." Martin Chulov (Guardian) states the release "was met with muted celebration in Baghdad but rapturous applause in some corners of the Arab world, where the 30-year-old television journalist is feted as a David and Goliath figure for his act of defiance." BBC describes the scene at al Baghdadiya TV (where Muntadhar works): "Arriving at the al Baghdadiya compound, a trumpeter and two drummers sounded a welcome for Mr Zaidi - and in his honour, three sheep were slaughtered live on his own channel." Richard Spencer (Telegraph of London) adds a list of gifts being offered to the reporter such as, "The Emir of Qatar has offered a godlen statue of a horse."

BBC News reports Muntadhar stated today he was tortured: "Shortly after his release from nine months in a Baghdad prison, Muntadar al-Zaidi demanded an apology - and said he would name the officials later." Ned Parker and Mohammed Arrawi (Los Angeles Times) quote him stating today, ""Here I am free and the country is still a prisoner." Marc Santora (New York Times) adds, "He claimed that he was beaten with pipes, steel cables and electric shocks while in custody. He added that he believed there were many who would like to see him dead, including unnamed American intelligence agencies." Ahmeed Rasheed, Suadad al-Salhy, Khalid al-Ansary, Tim Cocks and Samia Nakhoul (Reuters) quote his bother Uday stating, "I wish Bush could see our happineess. When President Bush looks back and turns the pages of his life, he will see the shoes of Muntazer al-Zaidi on every page." Phillippe Naughton and Richard Kerbaj (Times of London) describe the reporter, "Sporting a thick beard and wearing a sash in the colours of the Iraqi national flag around his shoulders, Mr al-Zaidi was unrepentant after his release from jail after serving nine months of a one-year sentence." McClatchy Newspapers' Sahar Issa provides a full translation of Muntadhar's remarks and this is an excerpt:

Firstly, I give my thanks and my regards to everyone who stood beside me, whether inside my country, in the Islamic world, in the free world. There has been a lot of talk about the action and about the person who took it, and about the hero and the heroic act, and the symbol and the symbolic act. But, simply, I answer: What compelled me to confront is the injustice that befell my people, and how the occupation wanted to humiliate my homeland by putting it under its boot.
And how it wanted to crush the skulls of (the homeland's) sons under its boots, whether sheikhs, women, children or men. And during the past few years, more than a million martyrs fell by the bullets of the occupation and the country is now filled with more than 5 million orphans, a million widows and hundreds of thousands of maimed. And many millions of homeless because of displacement inside and outside the country.
We used to be a nation in which the Arab would share with the Turkman and the Kurd and the Assyrian and the Sabean and the Yazid his daily bread. And the Shiite would pray with the Sunni in one line. And the Muslim would celebrate with the Christian the birthday of Christ, may peace be upon him. And despite the fact that we shared hunger under sanctions for more than 10 years, for more than a decade.
Our patience and our solidarity did not make us forget the oppression. Until we were invaded by the illusion of liberation that some had. (The occupation) divided one brother from another, one neighbor from another, and the son from his uncle. It turned our homes into neverending funeral tents. And our graveyards spread into parks and roadsides. It is a plague. It is the occupation that is killing us, that is violating the houses of worship and the sanctity of our homes and that is throwing thousands daily into makeshift prisons.
I am not a hero, and I admit that. But I have a point of view and I have a stance. It humiliated me to see my country humiliated. And to see my Baghdad burned. And my people being killed. Thousands of tragic pictures remained in my head, and this weighs on me every day and pushes me toward the righteous path, the path of confrontation, the path of rejecting injustice, deceit and duplicity. It deprived me of a good night's sleep.
Dozens, no, hundreds, of images of massacres that would turn the hair of a newborn white used to bring tears to my eyes and wound me. The scandal of Abu Ghraib. The massacre of Fallujah, Najaf, Haditha, Sadr City, Basra, Diyala, Mosul, Tal Afar, and every inch of our wounded land. In the past years, I traveled through my burning land and saw with my own eyes the pain of the victims, and hear with my own ears the screams of the bereaved and the orphans. And a feeling of shame haunted me like an ugly name because I was powerless.

Again, that is an excerpt. A small one. He outlines many things in speech including the torture he says he experienced. McClatchy's Hannah Allam notes he states "Iraqi guards tortured him with whippings and electric shocks during his nine-month detention. He was missing at least one front tooth. The focus of Zaidi's speech Tuesday wasn't on his own ordeal, however, but the death and destruction that Iraqis have experienced since the U.S.-led invasion of 2003." CNN reports (link has text and video) he's now heading to Greece, citing his brother Dhirgham al-Zaidi, "for medical treatment."

His claims of torture are not surprising and Iraq's prisons were the subject of a report on Sunday by Alice Fordham (writing for the Christian Science Monitor):

In a room thick with heat and sweat, light from a small window falls on rows of squatting prisoners and plastic bags of belongings hung from nails on every inch of the wall. The guard explains that 74 men live in this room, which is roughly 10 by 20 feet. A further 85 are usually in the corridor, he adds, while 12 are kept next to the toilet.
This is Hibhib prison on the outskirts of Baquba, the dusty, volatile capital of Diyala Province roughly 40 miles from Baghdad.
It is just one of the prisons in the province where detainees and US forces allege overcrowding, lengthy pretrial detention, and torture used to extract confessions. While the conditions here may be more severe than elsewhere in the country, Iraq's national detention system as a whole has been harshly criticized by Western human rights organizations.
A December 2008 report by the New York-based watchdog Human Rights Watch (HRW) went as far as to assert a "disturbing continuity" with Saddam Hussein-era detention. A committee set up by the Iraqi government in June is investigating abuses. But a lack of accountability and political will, say human rights workers, are serious impediments to reversing the culture of abuse cultivated under Mr. Hussein.

US Vice President Joe Biden is in Iraq. He landed there today on an unannounced visit. Scott Wilson (Washington Post) reports of his landing, "As he emerged from his C-17 aircraft into a hot dusk about 4:50 p.m. local time, the vice president was greeted by Gen. Ray Odierno, the top U.S. commander in Iraq; U.S. Ambassador Christopher Hill; and Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari. Biden's national security adviser, Tony Blinken, and deputy secretary of State Jim Steinberg followed him through the welcome line." Karen Travers (ABC News) reports he stated he believes a referendum on the Status Of Forces Agreement will take place at some point. Edwin Chen (Bloomberg News) quotes his use of "optimistic" to describe US military leaders on Iraqi security forces abilities to increase security functions in their country and notes the top military commander in Iraq, Gen Ray Odierno, used the term "stable" to describe security in Iraq. Really? Too bad the news cycle already had an Odierno injection today. He'd just spoken to BBC News before the visit and painted a far bleaker picture: "It's important to see this through. I concern myself that people don't forget about Iraq, and what we're trying to accomplish here [. . .]" BBC: "BBC correspondent Andrew North says that Gen Odierno was choosing his words with care. But he was giving a clear message, that with the situation still fragile here, the US cannot leave Iraq early."

Karen Travers ABC news report is text but it does have video of Biden speaking in Iraq to reporters including when he declares, "I've made -- this is my third trip since we've been elected. The second trip since we've been sworn in and I'll be back -- I'll be back again. And, uh, I'm coming back to speak with the Iraq leadership." Iraqi leadership? In last Tuesday's snapshot, The Economist editorial entitled "Iraq's freedoms under threat: Could a police state return" was noted:

In any event, Mr Maliki and his friends are trying to secure as much control as they can over the levers of power in the run-up to a general election in January, all the more feverishly since a rash of big bombings in Baghdad in the past two months has badly dented his reputation as a guarantor of public safety. His government is also seeking to tighten rules to regulate political parties and independent associations (including charities), causing still more alarm. "This is not how you build a democracy," says Maysoon al-Damluji, a liberal member of parliament.

Chris Floyd (Empire Burlesque) weighs in on the editorial and notes a 2008 piece he wrote:

The 2008 post goes on to detail just some of the vast amount of information, readily available in mainstream newspapers and magazines, about the American use of death squads and "paramilitaries" to carry out "extrajudicial killings" of people accused -- by someone, somewhere, for some reason or no reason at all -- of being "terrorists" or "insurgents," or "bad guys," to use the playground parlance so favored by our high priests and their media acolytes. These killings, these "dirty squads," have been part of the occupation of Iraq since the beginning, as has the systematic use of torture and the unlawful detention of innocent people. That al-Maliki is carrying on the practices and policies of those who put him into power should come as no surprise -- not even to the Economist.



Last Thursday, Oliver August (Times of London) reported, "The Iraqi opposition accused Nouri al-Maliki, the Prime Minister, yesterday of purging the American-trained security apparatus so that he could attain quasi-dictatorial powers. Mr al-Maliki, who is facing a tough election battle, has dismissed three high-profile members of the Ministry of Interior, which oversees the fight against insurgent groups. He has also forced the resignation of the head of the intelligence service and replaced several police and army commanders in the last few weeks. The moves provoked outrage among political opponents, who worry about the rise of a new police state and accuse the Prime Minister of using the aftermath of last month's massive bomb attack in Baghdad to make a power grab." Gina Chon (Wall St. Journal) reports today that Nouri's "embarked on a charm offensive agmong Shiites in the south of the country, a crucial but fickle electorate, in his bid to hold on to power in Iraq's January parliamentary vote." The voters he is hoping to woo complain about public services including the water -- or lack of -- which lead Nouri to promise a multi-million dollar project that will provide Basra with potable water. Suddenly, that's an issue. It's funny how when Nouri hits the campaign trail he appears to 'discover' that not everyone lives in the lap of luxury he does.





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"THIS JUST IN! OH NO HE DIDN'T!"
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THIS JUST IN! OH NO HE DIDN'T!

BULLY BOY PRESS & CEDRIC'S BIG MIX -- THE KOOL-AID TABLE

CELEBRITY IN CHIEF BARRY O INJECTED HIMSELF INTO THE KANYE-TAYLOR WEST THROW DOWN BY DECLARING KANYE A "JACKASS" TODAY IN A CNBC INTERIVEW.

WHETHER IT WAS SOUR GRAPES OR AN HONEST OPINION NO ONE CAN KNOW BECAUSE SUCH A MINOR, TRIVIAL TOPIC HAS BEEN DECLARED OFF LIMITS BY THE WHITE HOUSE, ABC AND CNBC WHO INSIST IT WAS AN "OFF THE RECORD" REMARK.

SAID THE GHOST OF WALTER CRONKITE, "IT'S AMAZING WHEN THOSE SUCKY LITTLE PUNK ASSES WILL LET THE POWERFUL GET AWAY WITH TODAY. IN MY DAY, IF L.B.J. HAD GONE AFTER HERMAN'S HERMITS, WE WOULDN'T HAVE COVERED UP FOR HIM."

FROM THE TCI WIRE:

As the world watches, a surprising member of the Cult of St. Barack emerges. Jonathan Adams (Christian Science Monitor) reports a new tape, allegedly from alleged 9-11 ringleader Osama bin Laden has been released, maintains that US President Barack Obama has made George W. Bush's Iraq and Afghanistan Wars his own because Barack is "powerless" and, apparently, controlled by a some nefarious, worldwide Jewish lobby. Oooooh. He so scary. And so original. I mean, no one's ever attempted to allege a Jewish conspiracy before, right? No one ever mistook him for a brain but, even for him, this is something. The president of the United States is one of the most powerful positions in the world. In the last 100 years, it's pretty much been the most powerful position in the world. Whether Barack Obama uses the power wisely, poorly or not at all remains to be seen but he's not some lowly backbencher in the British Parliament. Claiming otherwise is as insane as insisting there's some international world conspiracy. Insane's really doesn't capture it. It's beyond insane, it's hate-riddled. It's a hatred for others that makes you insist there's some Jewish cabal and it's a hatred for others that makes you insist someon's preventing Barack Obama -- a grown man with a mind of his own -- from doing exactly what he wants to. Osama bin Laden's so insane, he should get his own Pacifica Radio program. From the Firehouse Studio. James Carroll (Boston Globe) writes of Barack's Wednesday speech: "The elephants in the congressional chamber last week were not the scowling Republicans, but Iraq and Afghanistan, neither of which was mentioned. [. . .] In Iraq, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is headed toward his own dubious election, coming in January, as his Shiite coalition crumbles, Sunnis openly sympathize with insurgents, and Kurdish alienation adds to the decentralized chaos. Meanwhile, Iraqi security forces are overwhelmed by renewed violence and the US determination to keep the three blocs together in one nation is overseen by Vice President Joe Biden, who spent the two years of his presidential campaign passionately denouncing the idea."

Today the Defense Department announced Duane A. Thornsbury died in Baghdad on Saturday from "injuries sustained during a vehicle roll-over." Like so many service members' deaths, DoD adds, "The circumstances surrounding the incident are under investigation." If you look for the Multi-National Force announcement, you'll be looking in vain. They never announced the death -- the most important duty they are tasked with is announcing the deaths, DoD is responsible for putting a name to the fallen after families have been notified. They made five announcements on Saturday and two on Sunday but the death just wasn't important enough for them. The announcement brings the number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war to 4344. Maria St. Louis-Sanchez (Colorado Springs Gazette) reports Duane Thornsbury was no his third deployment to Iraq and had previously served there in 2003 and 2007. Jessika Lewis (State Journal) adds that he "enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserves back in April 1996 and came onto active duty service in September 2002".

In the United States on Sunday there was a memorial service for seven soldiers who died September 17, 2008. From the September 18th snapshot:

Turning to Iraq, last night CNN reported that a helicopter has crashed in Iraq claiming the lives of 5 US service members. Sameer N. Yacoub (AP) said the death toll is "seven U.S. soldiers" and cites M-NF as the source. M-NF updated it today announcing: "Seven U.S. Soldiers were killed when a CH-47 Chinook crashed about 100 km west of Basra at approximately 12:01 a.m. Thursday. The Chinook was part of a four-aircraft aerial convoy flying from Kuwait to Balad. The seven Soldiers were the only ones onboard the Chinook at the time of the crash. A British Quick Reaction Force team was dispatched from Basra to assist at the site. A road convoy in the vicinity was also diverted to the scene.
The names of the deceased are being withheld pending notification of next of kin and official release by the Department of Defense The incident is under investigation, however enemy activity is not suspected." The Washington Post notes, "There was no word on the cause of the crash or whether hostile fire was involved." Camilla Hall and Michael Heath (Bloomberg News) report that the military is now publicly stating that this should be considered "an accident" on their 'initial' information but that the US military added, "At this time we are uncertain of the cause, but hostile fire has been ruled out." Sudarsan Raghavan (Washington Post) observes, "In total, that means 11 U.S. service members have died since Sunday for non-combat-related reasons" while noting the helicopter crash itself "was the deadliest U.S. helicopter accident in Iraq since Aug. 22 of last year, when a Black Hawk helicopter crashed in the northern part of the country, killing 14 U.S. soldiers."
Joseph Giordono (Stars & Stripes) notes, "The AP reported that an aide to U.S. Rep. Mary Fallin, R-Okla., said four Texans and three from Oklahoma were among the seven National Guardsmen killed in [the helicopter crash[ . . . Fallin's spokesman Alex Weintz says the four Texans killed were soldiers from the Texas National Guard." ICCC lists 4168 as the number of US service members killed since the start of the illegal war with 17 for the month thus far.

The seven who died in the September 2008 helicopter crash were Corry A. Edwards, Robert Vallejo II, Anthony Luke Mason, Brady J. Rudolf, Julio Ordonez, Daniel Eshbaugh and Michael E. Thompson. Chris Vaughn (Fort Worth Star-Telegram via Houston Chronicle) reports on yesterday's Texas ceremony, "Under a constant and soaking rain, the last of their remains were buried in a single battleship-gray casket at the top of a hill in the Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery, a fitting end, some said, because of their close relationship while alive." Jeffrey Weiss (Dallas Morning News) explains of the Army National Guard's 2-149 General Support Aviation Battalion's ceremony, "Ten weeks after their tour of Iraq formally ended, they assembled to celebrate their successes and surivavl -- and to mourn seven members of the unite who died in a helicopter crash weeks after arriving in Iraq. [. . .] More than 500 people -- family, freinds, comrades and fellow citizens -- braved Sunday's downpour for a brief graveside service at Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery then gathered for a set of prayers inside a hangar at the National Guard base where the unit is headquartered."

Yesterday's ceremony for the seven who died in the helicopter crash took place on the same day a US helicopter came under fire in Mosul. Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports "the U.S. military returned fire killing one insurgent. The police responded to the situation and engaged the insurgents in a fire fight killing two more insurgents and captured another. Two policemen were killed during this confrontation." In other reported violence . . .

Bombings?

Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing which injured three people (including one police officer), another Baghdad roadside bombing which injured one person, a Baquba car bombing whcih wounded four people (two Iraqi service members), a Baquba roadside bombing which killed 1 man and injured his son, a Mosul roadside bombing which claimed the life of 1 police officer and left seven more wounded and another Mosul roadside bombing which claimed the life of 1 woman and wounded her daughter.

Shootings?

Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports an armed attack on an Iraqi military checkpoint which resulted in the death of 1 Iraqi soldier. Reuters notes a Jurf al-Sakhar home invasion in which the family of a police officer were ordered to leave the home, the police officer was shot dead and the house was set on fire and they drop back to last night to note an attack on a Jurf al-Sakhar police checkpoint which resulted in the death of 1 police officer and two more being injured.

Kidnappings?

Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a woman studying at the Institute of Technology in Kirkuk was kidnapped yesterday.

The Jurf al-Sakhar home invasion today recalls another assault on a police officer's home yesterday. Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reported a home invasion in which four members of a family were killed (assailants used silencers) and David Rising (AP) added the home belonged to a police officer (Sgt Omed Abdul-Hamid) who was not home and his wife and three kids were killed "execution-style" in their sleep. Ned Parker and Ali Windawi (Los Angeles Times) explain the children were ages 2, 4 and 6 and quote the father stating, "I was astonished when I found my family, my wife and three children were killed while they were in their bed. Oh my God, may you take revenge on the killers . . . What is the guilt of my son Mohammed and he is an infant! What is the guilt of my small daughters?" The four deaths were among the 22 reported Sunday (26 people were reported injured). Yesterday, at The Third Estate Sunday Review, we noted the reported deaths for last week were 136 (230 reported wouned) ("On Sunday, there were 24 reported deaths and 7 reported wounded, Monday 26 dead and 44 wounded, Tuesday 27 dead and 42 wounded, Wednesday 13 dead and 38 wounded, Thursday 31 dead and 75 wounded, Friday 4 dead and 7 wounded and Saturday 11 dead and 27 wounded.").



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