1/23/2009

chris floyd on gaza

While several thousand Palestinians remain homeless or otherwise displaced, the competition for hearts and minds that has plagued and propelled Palestinian politics over the past 20 years is palpably shaping how quickly Gaza will be rebuilt -- and by whom.
As average people struggle to pick up the pieces and survive the winter, their leaders are scrambling for the right to put this shell-shocked coastal strip on the road to reconstruction. A shaky cease-fire -- which will be a week old on Sunday - looked likely to hold.
Hamas, which says it is ready to take charge of reconstruction, plans to begin distributing $35 million to $40 million in assistance this Sunday to Gazans affected by the war, a spokesman said.


that's from ilene r. prusher's 'In Gaza, a family wonders how to rebuild' (christian science monitor). and now gaza has try to rebuild before the next full scale attack. i'm not hearing about rebuilding outside of gaza, are you? not hearing about this tremendous damage done to israeli territory. seems like only the victims suffered and isn't that how it always is?

barack obama refused to do a damn thing, refused to even call it out. couldn't even offer up some of that chicken sop for the soul he's so famous for. but when he was president, we'd know what he thinks. (1st clue that something's wrong with the election process: you don't know where the person who just won the election stands.) chris floyd analyzes barack's late response in 'Thus Sprach Barack: Pouring Acid on Gaza's Wounds' (baltimore chronicle):


Yesterday, we wrote of our eager anticipation of Barack Obama's long-suppressed opinion on the mass slaughter in Gaza. As we all know, the most eloquent, forthright and morally concerned orator of the age kept a demure silence on this subject for weeks, because, he said, "we have only one president at a time," who alone should speak about foreign policy. Of course, that didn't keep the morally concerned orator from speaking freely on almost every other aspect of foreign policy -- Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, etc. But consistency, as they say, is the hobgoblin of small minds, and the brain of the new president -- who has set the world aflame with rhetoric that has never been heard in Washington before, soaring phrases of penetrating uniqueness about freedom, hope, peace, and the enduring greatness of the American people -- is famously large.
Anyway, we have waited, and at last Obama has spoken.
Here's what he had to say today, while welcoming Hillary Clinton to the State Department and appointing Establishment grandee George Mitchell as his special envoy to the Middle East:
Let me be clear: America is committed to Israel's security. And we will always support Israel's right to defend itself against legitimate threats. For years, Hamas has launched thousands of rockets at innocent Israeli citizens. No democracy can tolerate such danger to its people, nor should the international community, and neither should the Palestinian people themselves, whose interests are only set back by acts of terror.
To be a genuine party to peace, the quartet has made it clear that Hamas must meet clear conditions: recognize Israel's right to exist; renounce violence; and abide by past agreements. Going forward, the outline for a durable cease-fire is clear: Hamas must end its rocket fire; Israel will complete the withdrawal of its forces from Gaza; the United States and our partners will support a credible anti-smuggling and interdiction regime, so that Hamas cannot rearm.
Yesterday I spoke to President Mubarak and expressed my appreciation for the important role that Egypt played in achieving a cease-fire. And we look forward to Egypt's continued leadership and partnership in laying a foundation for a broader peace through a commitment to end smuggling from within its borders.
There you have it. The invasion of Gaza -- which began after Israel broke the ceasefire, launched provocative and deadly raids inside Gaza, and had also tightened its death-grip blockade to a level quite legitimately comparable to the Warsaw Ghetto -- was actually the fault of (wait for it, wait for it).... the Palestinians. Thus sprach Barack.But do let's be fair. The new president also feels the pain of the Palestinians in Gaza. He feels it so much that he is going to ensure that any reconstruction in Gaza is controlled by the kleptocracy known as the Palestinian Authority -- the same faction that tried -- with American and Israeli backing -- to overthrow the legitimate, democratically elected government of Palestine, instigating a vicious civil war that, lo and behold, left Palestinian resistance to Israeli occupation weak and splintered.



that really says it all, doesn't it?

notice how few people are calling him out?

that's typical. we're all supposed to just be grateful that israel stopped the bombs and the bullets for a week or two that we'll do cartwheels.

and it's exactly that attitude, in the time between full blown assaults, that allows israel to get away with their crimes over and over.


let's close with c.i.'s 'Iraq snapshot:'

Friday, January 23, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces another death, KBR appears guilty in the death of a US service member who was electrocuted, provincial elections loom and more.

Having failed to snag an invite to this week's earlier power-breakfast with the military, Nancy A. Youssef cracked open her little black book and pulled a few strings. Why McClatchy's one-time ace reported bothered is the only puzzler? What
she scribbles is an insult to not only journalism but the collective intelligence as well. Gen James Conway announced (over breakfast tacos?), "The times is right for Marines to leave Iraq." Nance tosses around the name "Barack" and we're all supposed to see this as some sort "New World Coming" (sing it, Cass). Hamlet declared, "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horaito, than are dreamt of in your philosophy." Someone needs to explain, "There was a world before this week, Nancy, and it's a well documented one." Translation? Thom Shanker (New York Times) was reporting what Nance stumbled upon and was reporting in October of 2007: "The Marine Corps is pressing to remove its forces from Iraq and to send marines instead to Afghanistan, to take over the leading role in combat there, according to senior military and Pentagon officials." The same day Ann Scott Tyson (Washington Post) was covering the story and explaining, "The proposal, discussed at senior levels of the Pentagon last week, would have the Marine Corps replace the Army as the lead U.S. force in Afghanistan, where U.S. troops number more than 25,000 and make up the largest contingent of the NATO-led force there. . . . Marine Corps officers who have served in Iraq expressed enthusiasm for the idea, which would in essence allow the service to extricate itself from the increasingly unpopular and costly Iraq war. . . . Senior Pentagon officials, including Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, have not publicly spoken of the issue. Officers knowledgeable of the Marine Corps' push for the new mission did not characterize it as a formal plan." August 2008, CNN quoted Conway stating, "To do more in Afghanistan, our Marines have got to see relief elsewhere." Liam Stack (Christian Science Monitor) in August noted, "American and Iraqi officials announced on Wednesday that United States forces would hand over control of the Anbar Province, the scene of some of the war's most gruesome violence, to the Iraqi military as soon as next Monday. Most of the departing US soldiers are marines, many of whom will be sent to Afghanistan, where conflict has renewed between NATO forces and a resurgent Taliban." Tony Perry (Los Angeles Times) explained in November, "The Marines have long made no secret of their desire to depart from Iraq and redeploy to Afghanistan, where they were the first conventional U.S. troops in 2001 to invade the country to assist local forces in toppling the Taliban regime." And in December, Cami McCormick (CBS Radio News) reported, "The Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps says it's 'high time' his troops leave Iraq and take their battle skills to Afghanistan. 'We are a fighting maching,' Gen. James Conway tells CBS News, and the fight is now in Afghanistan." None of that 15-month public history makes it into Youssef's 'report.' Nancy's too busy mouthing, "Now I have a song inside, The birds sing to me, I finally can be, Free to spread my wings in harmony" (Diana Ross' "Every Day Is A New Day").

Ron Jacobs (CounterPunch) calls out the nonsense of 'noble war' Afghanistan and addresses Iraq concluding, "There are at least two antiwar protests coming up in spring 2009. If Barack Obama is not taking the path towards peace that he was elected to take by then, it is essential that those who voted for him with the understanding that US troops would be leaving Iraq (and not going to Afghanistan) attend at least one of these protests. That is what democracy really means." I've chosen that quote but, for any who don't use the link, Jacobs is absolutely not saying, "Wait until the protests." He is calling for action and calling for it right now. Military Families Speak Out is staging "The Change WE Need" from Feburary 6th to 9th in DC which will include marching from Arlington National Cementery to the White House. A.N.S.W.E.R. is among the organizations sponsoring March 21st "Bring the Troops Home Now" rally and march in DC. Dropping back to CounterPunch, Alexander Cockburn writes, "But credit where credit is due. On his second day in the White House Jimmy Carter amnestied Vietnam draft dodgers and war resisters." Then blah blah on Barack. Jimmy Carter did that, Alex? No, he sure as hell as did not do what you say he did. I guess it's easy to treat Jimmy Carter as heroic if you invent actions he never took. War resisters during Vietnam were draft dodgers and deserters. The first category -- and only the first category -- got amnesty from Carter. You can click here for CBC reporting on that (January 21, 1977) and the reaction in Canada. Also on January 21st -- and note, January 21st. Barack's praise from Alex is over Jan. 22nd. His second full day in office. Jimmy Carter pardoned draft dodgers on his first day in office -- and, yes, that is important. January 21, 1977, The MacNeil/Lehrer Report (now The NewsHour) featured a discussion on Carter's actions that day. Americans for Amnesty's Louise Ransom was vocal about all war resisters (and protestors) needing amnesty. On the broadcast was Elizabeth Holtzman who was then a US House Rep. I like Liz, I've known her for many years. But what she did is something everyone should learn from because it should not repeat today. She was "pleased" (you know it because she used the phrase "I'm pleased" three times in her first sentence) but, "I would have liked to have seen it broader, I would like to have seen it extend to some of the people who are clearly not covered and whose families will continue to be separated from them . . . but I don't think President Carter has closed the door on this category of people." She didn't think?It's a good thing she didn't wager a bet. That was it. Carter didn't do another damn thing. And those of us calling for more were told, "We can't pressure him. He'll get to it." No, he wouldn't and, no, he didn't. It sure is cute of Alex to come along all this time later and give Carter credit for something he never did. It sure is cute of Alex to rewrite history. (In fairness, he doesn't know the history. Vietnam wasn't personally pressing to him in real time for obvious reasons -- he was Irish, not American, and when he came to the US he was well beyond drafting age for male citizens.) Credit where it's due? Jimmy Carter earns no credit for that. He did as little as possible and he only did that much because he was pressured. Ford had already offered a program (that you had to jump through hoops for) that covered draft dodgers and deserters. Carter was running against Ford and there was a real peace movement in America at that time -- not the fake crap offered by the pathetic creatures trying to pass for 'leaders' today. Demands were made on him.
That's the only reason he followed through on draft dodgers (which he had spoken of to the Veterans of Foreign Wars' convention during his 1976 presidential campaign) was because there was pressure. Gerald Ford was considering pardons for war resisters as he left office but it was thought Carter would take care of it. Carter didn't. He only took care of draft dodgers. And as wonderful as Liz Holtzman can be, she was dead wrong about America 'hoping' Jimmy would find time to revist the issue. He didn't get serious pressure and he never revisted it. There's a lesson in there for today's activism -- although that's a joke. Outside of a few groups, there's no activism going on. Just a lot of embarrassments (see
Mike calling out the Center for Constitutional Rights over their fondling of Barack). History isn't just a bunch of memorized items. It either has real-life, current applications or it's trivia and not history.

Wednesday's
Free Speech Radio News included this item by Mark Taylor-Canfield in the headlines:

Hundreds of US soldiers have relocated to Canada, Europe or LatinAmerica after choosing not to serve in the US war and occupation in Iraq. Many of the soldiers have gone into Canada by crossing the border between Washington State and British Columbia, which also served as a point of entry for conscientious objectors escaping toCanada during the US war in Vietnam. Now
Project Safe Haven is calling on President Barack Obama to grant immediate amnesty to all US war resisters who have refused to serve in Iraq. The group is also calling for the immediate withdrawal of all US troops from Iraq and an end to the war in Afghanistan. Other demands include reparations for the people of Iraq and Afghanistan and full benefits and healthcare for US military veterans. According to Project Safe Haven organizer Gerry Condon, the petition was circulated among national anti-war and veterans groups and was delivered to the President-elect's transition team.

Gerry Condon has posted a transcript at his site and you can find out more information there. We noted here throughout 2007 and 2008 that the Democratic candidates were not being asked about amnesty. Had they been asked when US House Rep Dennis Kucinich and former US Senator Mike Gravel were in the race, others might have been forced to say they'd at least consider that or look into it. We noted after the nomination was given to Barack that he needed to be pressed on the issue of war resisters. In 1972, the peace movement pressured. McGovern had to promise amnesty and Nixon upped his lies that he was ending that illegal war because of pressure from the peace movement. McGovern didn't lose because he was forced to publicly support amnesty. And by McGovern doing that, it made it easier for Gerald Ford to do his program when he became president. The pressure on McGovern, Ford and Carter was serious pressure and it vanished on Carter shortly after he was sworn in. Barack should have been pressured on the issue sometime ago. He wasn't. That doesn't mean serious pressure can't be applied now. Especially on a president who claimed (lied) that he was always against the Iraq War and that was proof of his superior judgment. For those who lacked that superior judgment, you know, mere mortals, Barack should be more than willing to pardon them. And a real movement, a real peace movement, would be pressuring him to do so.

But we don't have a peace movement in the United States and we don't have a Dove for a president. We have a Corporatist War Hawk that people are so scared and reluctant to call out. Which, as
Paul Street (ZNet) points outs, was the entire of point:

At the same time, many of his elite sponsors have certainly long understood that Obama's technical blackness helps make him uniquely qualified to simultaneously surf, de-fang, and "manage" the U.S. citizenry's rising hopes for democratic transformation in the wake of the long national Bush-Cheney nightmare. As
John Pilger argued last May: "What is Obama's attraction to big business? Precisely the same as Robert Kennedy's [in 1968]. By offering a 'new,' young and apparently progressive face of Democratic Party - with the bonus of being a member of the black elite - he can blunt and divert real opposition. That was Colin Powell's role as Bush's secretary of state. An Obama victory will bring intense pressure on the US antiwar and social justice movements to accept a Democratic administration for all its faults. If that happens, domestic resistance to rapacious America will fall silent." Obama's race is part of what makes him so well matched to the tasks of mass pacification and popular "expectation management" (former Obama advisor Samantha Power's revealing phrase). As Aurora Levins Morales noted in Z Magazine last April, "This election is about finding a CEO capable of holding domestic constituencies in check as they are further disenfranchised and....[about] mak[ing] them feel that they have a stake in the military aggressiveness that the ruling class believes is necessary. Having a black man and a white woman run helps...make oppressed people feel compelled to protect them."

Paul Street is the author of
Barack Obama and the Future of American Politics -- one of three books in 2008 this community found worthy of praise. On the subject of books, Gerald Nicosia (San Francisco Chronicle) praises two new books today Aaron Glantz' The War Comes Home: Washington's Battle Against America's Veterans is the first, "What makes 'The War Comes Home' such a powerful plea is that Glantz admits his initial bias against the vets - they were the ones who caused all the misery among the poor Afghans and Iraqis. But his eventual realization that both reporter and soldier are common victims of a government that wages such wars allowed him to identify with the vets and to empathize with their struggles." Iraq Veterans Against the War and Glantz' Winter Soldier: Iraq and Afghanistan Eyewitness Accounts of the Occupations is the second, "Like 'The War Comes Home,' 'Winter Soldier' makes us feel the pain and despair endured by those who serve in a military stretched to the breaking point by stop-loss policies, multiple combat tours, and a war where the goals and the enemies keep shifting. But these books also make us admire the unbreakable idealism and hope of those men and women who still believe that by speaking out they can make things better both for themselves and for those who come after them."

Someone will come after Ryan Crocker. He is the outgoing US Ambassador to Iraq.
Anthony Shadid (Washington Post), Timothy Williams (New York Times), and Lourdes Garcia-Navarro (All Things Considered) cover that in various degrees. A propaganda outlet outdoes them, Meredith Buel's Voice of America report. So does Tina Susman (Los Angeles Times):

Obama would like to have all the troops out by spring 2010. An agreement forged by the Bush administration and the Iraqi government calls for the last troops to leave by the end of 2011, though it is subject to change. Whatever happens, the ambassador said that if it were to be a "precipitous withdrawal, that could be very dangerous." Crocker said he was confident that was not the direction Obama was going. However, the president campaigned on a promise to end the war in Iraq, and with violence at its lowest level since 2003 and commanders in Afghanistan saying they need more troops, Obama will face pressure to move quickly on his campaign vow. In a conference call Wednesday night with Obama, Crocker said, he and the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, Army Gen. Ray Odierno, gave their assessments of the security situation in Iraq. He would not say what they told the president, though Odierno has also urged caution in reducing forces.


Provincial elections are scheduled to take place in fourteen of Iraq's eighteen provinces on January 31st.
Afif Sarhan (Islam Online) offers some numbers including that 100,000 is the number of internal refugees in Iraq who've signed up to vote. To put the number into context, International Organization for Migration Iraq's most recent report on internal refugees put the number at 2.8 million. (That report was released this month. PDF format warning, click here.) Sarhan notes approximately "2.9 million Iraqis are registered to vote" -- that's all Iraqis registered -- and internal refugee Wissam Muhammed explains he can't travel to Baghdad to vote: "We don't have money to go to the polling stations. Few displacement camps will have the chance to have a moving station or be driven by someone to vote. In our case, like many other displaced families here [Babel], our polling station is in in Baghdad and we cannot vote here." Jane Arraf (Christian Science Monitor) observes, "This year, campaigning falls during the 40 days of mourning for the death of Imam Hussein and election posters compete for space with Shiite flags on buildings, concrete walls and intersections." Viet Nam News explains, "Bombings and the assassination of candidates have increased as the election approaches prompting widespread fear that the vote may spark a new round of bloodshed. Although the incidents cannot prevent the election, they confirm the ferocity of the continuing power struggle." Walled Ibrahim, Fadhel al-Badrani, Tim Cocks, Michael Christie and Samia Nakhoul (Reuters) report on the Sunni participation efforts in Ramadi and Falluja, "Sitting beneath a photograph of his smiling son, killed by al Qaeda militants two years ago, Sheikh Amir Ali al-Sulaiman said he couldn't wait to stand for a seat in Jan. 31 local elections, after he boycotted the last ones in January 2005." They quote him stating, "We are determined to participate to reclaim what we missed out of before. We urge people to vote this time." Nouri al-Maliki is hoping to fix the vote and, most recently, attempted to force out a police chief. Stanford's Joel Brinkley (McClatchy Newspapers) explains:.


Maliki claimed that this man, Maj. Gen. Abdul Haneen al-Amara, was failing to uphold election laws because he hadn't prosecuted anyone for tearing down campaign posters that candidates from Maliki's political party had put up.
The good news is not that Maliki decided to fire him. No, the encouraging development is that Maliki's decision caused a controversy. His political opponents protested and refused to accept the president's choice of a replacement. In Washington two years ago, the Senate set about changing the law that permitted the president to appoint U.S. attorneys without the Senate's consent. Isn't that the way a democracy is supposed to work? When the United States drafted its Constitution more than 220 years ago, the founders had few real historical precedents on which to base their decisions. That's what makes the document such a work of genius. Of course, by the time the United States began pushing Iraq to create a democratic government, starting in 2003, much of the world had already made that transition. The problems and possibilities were well-known.

McClatchy Newspapers readers will be learning about those attempted tricks in Wasit Province for the first time because, while
Timothy Williams and Mudhafer al-Husaini (New York Times) reported on them, McClatchy never found the time. Maybe their partners at the Institute for War & Peace Reporting didn't think it was news? (Ruth covers some of the critiques on IWPR.)

Provincial elections are eight days away.

Today
Al Jazeera reports 8 family members were killed in a home invasion late last night (11:30 p.m.) outside Balad Ruz while two more people (presumably also family members) were kidnapped during the home invasion: "The family members, who are all Sunni Muslim Arabs, were targeted in the predominantly Shia Muslim village a week before provincial elections." Citing an unnamed police official, Pakistan's GEOtv states 9 family members were killed in the home invasion. Khalid al-Ansary, Tim Cocks and Janet Lawrence (Reuters) report it was eight people and, "The attack at 11.30 p.m. on Thursday (2030 GMT) evoked memories of the tit-for-tat sectarian slaughter that nearly tore Iraq apart in 2006-2007, which has only recently subsided."


In some of today's other reported violence . . .

Bombings?

Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing that claimed 1 life and left two people wounded.

Shootings?
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that a Wasit home invasion (Thursday night) claimed 4 lives ("the mother, father, daughter and baby son").

Iraq Body Count includes the Wasit home invasion in Thursday's violence and state the day resulted in 9 deaths including 3 brothers killed in Mosul during a US house raid. It sure is interesting how Mosul -- the center of violence more and more -- gets ignored in daily violence reports. It's also interesting that this is billed "US forces raid house" when allegedly the Iraqis had taken on control.

This morning the
US military announced: "BAGHDAD -- A Multi-National Division - Center Soldier died in a non-combat related vehicle accident Jan. 22. The Soldier's name is being withheld pending next-of-kin notification and release by the Department of Defense. The incident is currently under investigation." ICCC lists the total number of US service members killed in Iraq at 4230.

Meanwhile KBR and its former parent Halliburton collect bad press like treasured coins.
Peter Spiegel (Los Angeles Times) reports the latest scandal from those who sought to make a buck cheaply off an illegal war: "An Army criminal investigator told the family of a Green Beret who was electrocuted while taking a shower at his base in Baghdad that the soldier's death was a case of "negligent homicide" by military contractor KBR and two of its supervisors. The report last month to the family of Staff Sgt. Ryan Maseth said Houston-based KBR failed to make certain that qualified electricians and plumbers were working on the barracks where Maseth was killed a year ago, according to a U.S. government official who has seen the correspondence." James Risen (New York Times) notes the response from the Vultures, Heather Browne (publicity hack) declares, "KBR's investigation has produced no evidence that KBR was responsible for Sergeant Maseth's death." You get the feeling teachers knew not to leave the classrooms when KRB execs were taking tests? Scott Bronstein and Abbie Boudreau (CNN) provides this background:CNN first reported the death of Maseth, a highly decorated, 24-year-old Green Beret, last spring. His January 2, 2008, death was just one of many fatalities now believed to be linked to shoddy electrical work at U.S. bases managed by U.S. contractors, according to Pentagon sources. The Pentagon's Defense Contract Management Agency last year gave KBR a "Level III Corrective Action Request" -- issued only when a contractor is found in "serious non-compliance" and just one step below the possibility of suspending or terminating a contract, Pentagon officials said. In KBR's case, it means the contractor's inspections and efforts to ensure electrical safety for troops have been unacceptable and must be significantly improved, Pentagon sources told CNN.

Carolyn Lochhead (San Francisco Chronicle) reports, "On her first day at the helm of the Senate Intelligence Committee Thursday, California Sen. Dianne Feinstein vowed that never again would there be 'a National Intelligence Estimate that was as bad and wrong as the Iraq NIE was" before continuing, "I voted to support the war because of that and I have to live with that vote for the rest of my life. And I don't want it to ever happen again." Good for DiFi and I mean that sincerely. Better would be grasping Dennis Blair will be a blight on any administration but good for her on that. While Dianne is the new Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Hillary Clinton is the new Secretary of State and we noted that yesterday but I forgot to ask that a link to Marcia's Wednesday post on that be included. My apologies, that was my error.

Moving to those who never take accountability, dumb reporters.
A number pimped the joy, the absolute and total joy among the troops over the inauguration. As if all Americans could ever agree on anything. Richard Sisk (New York Daily News), meet reality. Deborah Haynes (Times of London's Inside Iraq):


Many US soldiers in Iraq watched the inauguration of their new President on television, with opinion split over whether Barak Obama will make a better commander-in-chief than George Bush. Some troopers cheer the change at the top, welcoming the back of a President who led the United States into two wars during his time in the White House.
Others, however, deliberately skipped the historic swearing in of their country's first African-American leader because they are wary of his military ideas on the way forwards in Iraq.

Public radio notes for Sunday, Monday and Wednesday, all air on
WBAI:Sunday, January 25, 11am-noonTHE NEXT HOURPost-Warholian radio artists Andrew Andrew hold the fort.Monday, January 26, 2-3pmCAT RADIO CAFEPlaywright William M, Hoffman and actor David Greenspan on thepremiere of "Cornbury: The Queen's Governor," Hoffman's satiricalcollaboration with the late Anthony Holland about a cross-dressing NewYork governor; Artistic Director Scott Morfee on "Fortnight," afestival of new and improvised works at The Barrow Street Theatre; andproducer Scott Griffin on the landlord-tenant crisis at The Chelsea,"the hotel where Dylan Thomas drank and Arthur Miller wrote and. . ."Hosted by Janet Coleman and David Dozer.Wednesday, January 28, 2-3pmCCCP: THE MONTHLY LAUGHING NIGHTMAREGloves-off satire to greet the new bunch with Janet Coleman, DavidDozer, John McDonagh, Moogy Klingman, Scooter, Otis Maclay, PaulFischer, Jon Swift, The Capitol Steps, Red State Update and the greatWill Durst.Broadcasting at WBAI/NY 99.5 FMStreaming live at WBAIArchived at Cat Radio Cafe
Public television? . NOW on PBS actually examines the economic meltdown's effect on older Americans: "The economic crisis is affecting people in all income and social brackets, but America's baby boomers and seniors don't have the option to wait it out. The housing meltdown, market crash, and rising costs of everything from food to medicine have taken the luster out of seniors' 'golden years' or worse, put them into deep debt." That begins airing tonight on most PBS stations. Washington Week also begins airing tonight on many PBS stations and Gwen chats with Dan Balz (Washington Post), Martha Raddatz (ABC News) and Pete Williams (NBC News) while Time magazine's Karen Tumulty offers a new Bette Davis impersonation this go round -- the later stages of the party scene in All About Eve, watch as she decrees that the week's ceremonies were 'historical' and 'fantastic' but "it's going to be a bumpy night."

And on broadcast TV (CBS) Sunday, no
60 Minutes:"The Winter Of Our Hardship"Scott Pelley reports on Wilmington, Ohio, whose residents have been hit particularly hard in this economic crisis because the town's largest employer, DHL, is shutting its domestic operation. Watch Video
No Peace DealBob Simon reports from Israel and the West Bank where a growing number of Israelis and Palestinians say that a two-state solution is no longer possible.
Wine RxScientists have found a substance called resveratrol in red wine that slows down the aging process in mice. Will it someday lengthen the lives of humans, too? Morley Safer reports.
60 Minutes, this Sunday, Jan. 25, 2009, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.



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mikey likes itruths reportsickofitradlz
ruths report

1/22/2009

john pilger, robert fisk

i was going to link to something at counterpunch on democrats and israel but how dumb do you have to be to not know how to spell david paterson's name?

he's the governor and, in fact, the writer's governor. he's in the news every day for four weeks. where's the writer? head up the ass?

i don't kow but that did not build confidence. (to be clear, i'm not so big on typos but when all you've done is provide quotes and put a name to it, i think you get the names right and if you don't, i wander if your quotes are correct. had their been links which would have allowed me to quickly check that they were, i would have linked to it.)



what i will highlight is john pilger's incredible 'Come on Down For Your Freedom Medals' (dissident voice):

On 13 January, George W. Bush presented "presidential freedom medals," said to be America's highest recognition of devotion to freedom and peace. Among the recipients were Tony Blair, the epic liar who, with Bush, bears responsibility for the physical, social and cultural destruction of an entire nation; John Howard, the former prime minister of Australia and minor American vassal who led the most openly racist government in his country’s modern era; and Alvaro Uribe, the president of Colombia, whose government, according the latest study of that murderous state, is "responsible for than 90 per cent of all cases of torture".
As satire was made redundant when Henry Kissinger and Rupert Murdoch were honored for their contributions to the betterment of humanity, Bush's ceremony was, at least, telling of a system of which he and his freshly-minted successor are products. Although more spectacular in its choreographed histrionics, Barack Obama’s inauguration carried the same Orwellian message of inverted truth: of ruthlessness of criminal power, if not unending war. The continuity between the two administrations has been as seamless as the transfer of the odious Bono's allegiance, symbolized by President Obama's oath-taking on the steps of Congress -- where, only days earlier, the House of Representatives, dominated by the new president’s party, the Democrats, voted 390-5 to back Israel’s massacres in Gaza. The supply of American weapons used in the massacres was authorized previously by such a margin. These included the Hellfire missile which sucks the air out of lungs, ruptures livers and amputates arms and legs without the necessity of shrapnel: a "major advance," according to the specialist literature. As a senator, then president-elect, Obama raised no objection to these state-of-the-art [sic] weapons being rushed to Israel -- worth $22 billion in 2008 -- in time for the long-planned assault on Gaza’s fenced and helpless population. This is understandable; it how the system works. On no other issue does Congress and the president, Republicans or Democrats, conservatives or liberals, give such absolute support. By comparison, the German Reichstag in the 1930s was a treasure of democratic and principled debate.


pay attention boys & girls who fancies themselves journalists, the above is how a journalist writes. a real 1.

and here's robert fisk on the grossly disappointing hopium of barack:

There was the phone call yesterday to Mahmoud Abbas. Maybe Obama thinks he's the leader of the Palestinians, but as every Arab knows, except perhaps Mr Abbas, he is the leader of a ghost government, a near-corpse only kept alive with the blood transfusion of international support and the "full partnership" Obama has apparently offered him, whatever "full" means. And it was no surprise to anyone that Obama also made the obligatory call to the Israelis.
But for the people of the Middle East, the absence of the word "Gaza" - indeed, the word "Israel" as well - was the dark shadow over Obama's inaugural address. Didn't he care? Was he frightened? Did Obama's young speech-writer not realise that talking about black rights - why a black man's father might not have been served in a restaurant 60 years ago - would concentrate Arab minds on the fate of a people who gained the vote only three years ago but were then punished because they voted for the wrong people? It wasn't a question of the elephant in the china shop. It was the sheer amount of corpses heaped up on the floor of the china shop.
Sure, it's easy to be cynical. Arab rhetoric has something in common with Obama's clich├ęs: "hard work and honesty, courage and fair play ... loyalty and patriotism". But however much distance the new President put between himself and the vicious regime he was replacing, 9/11 still hung like a cloud over New York. We had to remember "the firefighter's courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke". Indeed, for Arabs, the "our nation is at war against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred" was pure Bush; the one reference to "terror", the old Bush and Israeli fear word, was a worrying sign that the new White House still hasn't got the message. Hence we had Obama, apparently talking about Islamist groups such as the Taliban who were "slaughtering innocents" but who "cannot outlast us". As for those in the speech who are corrupt and who "silence dissent", presumably intended to be the Iranian government, most Arabs would associate this habit with President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt (who also, of course, received a phone call from Obama yesterday), King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and a host of other autocrats and head-choppers who are supposed to be America's friends in the Middle East.
Hanan Ashrawi got it right. The changes in the Middle East - justice for the Palestinians, security for the Palestinians as well as for the Israelis, an end to the illegal building of settlements for Jews and Jews only on Arab land, an end to all violence, not just the Arab variety - had to be "immediate" she said, at once. But if the gentle George Mitchell's appointment was meant to answer this demand, the inaugural speech, a real "B-minus" in the Middle East, did not.


oh well, maybe the beggar media in the u.s. just loves barack because he won't say gaza? a ton of those beggars are apologists for israel, if you haven't noticed. and there's a reason for that. by the way, why do we have a beggar media (our so-called independent/alternative media) which is so predominately jewish?

i really do not understand that. i do know, having followed gaza for a long, long time, that it does impact what gets covered and how.

i didn't hop on naomi klein's call for a boycott for a number of reasons including some stupid remarks naomi made in chicago and the fact that i'm really starting to get sick of her weak ass. but as i remember it when a boycott was proposed before, the nation - naomi's u.s. mother-ship - told every 1 that wasn't fair. they nixed the idea.

and remember when the nation ran that insulting arab ad and katrina refused to apologize. this happens for a reason.

people need to think about it and need to be thinking before the next full blown assault takes place. (gaza is always under assault.)

let's close with c.i.'s 'Iraq snapshot:'

Thursday, January 22, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, provincial elections loom, a governor 'escapes,' Kurtz and Kimberley offer up some reality, and more.

Starting with presidential children: Qubad Talabani. He is the son of Iraq's president, Jalal Talabani, and he is also the Kurdish Regional Government's DC representative. The
Kurdish Globe reports he's very hopeful of the new administration in DC and quotes him praising Sec of State Hillary Clinton (she was sworn in last night) as well as mentioning US Vice President Joe Biden. How well placed or misplaced his hopes on that may be are open to debate but someone needs to explain political parties to him. He states of the KRG, "The government should be left to conduct duties away from political parties' intervention. We should now clearly show what duties are for the government and what role political parties might have." A mammoth and most likely impossible project. And that it's being promoted by Qubad Talabani may be an indication of political immaturity in the KRG (which would be classified thus far as a rebellion and not a revolution). Massoud Barzani is the president of the KRG and the Kurdish Globe reports he's all for Kurds and Arabs being close due "to the historical bonds of friendship" but it's a funny kind of friendship wherein he rejects Arab councils (he's referring to the "Awakening" Councils). In the KRG? No. In "adjacent areas." While maintaining that the KRG has no interest in attempting to control Mosul, his attempts to dictate what Mosul can and cannot do is an attempt to control. Mosul is in the Nineveh Province and it is not a part of the Kurdish region. Barzani states that if they are set up in areas adjacent to the KRG, it will "trigger" violence That's a far cry from their position -- when al-Maliki was sending troops into Mosul back in May -- of "We, the KRG, support any plan or attempt by the central government and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki aimed at the stabilization of security and enhancement of the sovereignty of the State." When al-Maliki just knew (he was wrong) the provincial elections were just around the corner, he was happy to launch his "clear, hold, build" campaigns. As the Defense Ministry's spokesperson Maj Gen Moahmmed al-Askari stated June 25th, "The decision of the commander in chief, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, before the end of this month and before the provincial eleciton, we should secure all cities. Therefore, the Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Interior put a schedule in coordination with Multi-National Force to clear up these cities according to the importance of the city and its priorities." Basra and Mosul were targeted in February. Diyala and Maysan would follow. September 18th, KUNA would report that al-Maliki had pronounced the Nineveh Province operation (Umm al-Rubai'in") a failure: "There are factors that resulted in failure of Umm Al-Rubai'in military operations. . . . We can attribute the successes of other military operations to the effective cooperation by citizens which we did not find in Mosul."

Mosul has an estimated population of 1.8 million, making it Iraq's second largest city (population wise). It is a hot bed that finally garnered serious attention when the attacks on Iraqi Christians began there last fall. While talk of 'calmer' and 'safer' abounds, Mosul charted at least 915 reported deaths for 2008 which comes to 76.25 per month. (That's from a friend at M-NF who says it should track closely with Iraq Body Count. Translation, the number of reported deaths were probably higher.)
Ned Parker (Los Angeles Times) reports on the province's governor, Duraid Kashmoula, who failed and plans to "leave for exile in the semiautonomous Iraqi region of Kurdistan after his successor is picked by a newly elected provincial council."

As late as January 11, 2007, the US military was singing Kashmoula (a former car parts salesperson) 'leadership' abilities.
M-NF posted Maj Roderick Cunningham's report and "Ninewa" is Nineveh Province while "Twitty" is US Col Stephen Twitty and Kashmoula was present for the praise:

Recognizing the similar levels of violence in a comparable city in America, Twitty paints an optimistic picture of the current state of Mosul and Ninewa Province.
"Amdist the turmoil and issues that persist in Iraq, there is a semblance of peace and normalcy in the north. Ninewa's leadership works hard to provide its citizens security, build its economy, and implement programs that will continue to keep sectarian violence from the province," Twitty said. "One thing we cannot do is attempt to put an American standard on any Iraqi city."

Or, apparently, utilize any form of standards at all. That is why
Parker can offer, "This provincial capital [Mosul] is a shambles, a sea of gray concrete buildings, with police and army checkpoints everywhere, thunderous explosions almost every day. Services are nonexistent." And now the soon to be outgoing governor intends to slink off to the Kurdistan region. It should be remembered that while the Iraqi Christians were being attacked, Duraid Mohammed Kashmoula could hold press confrences (and state at least 3,000 had fled), he just couldn't do anything to offer protection. CNN reported the US military stressed that Kashmoula "has been working with sheiks and local leaders in the area to bring about peace and stability to the city" of Mosul. Of course, CNN reported that in September . . . 2004. And when the assault on Mosul was taking place in 2008, Kashmoula was cozy with al-Maliki and giving the green light. Pepe Escobar (Asia Times) reported in May, "Tribal chiefs had to plead to Mosul governor Duraid Kashmoula, according to the Jordanian newspaper al-Ghad: 'The Council of Arab tribes in Mosul reported that the government cut off water supplies from the right side of the city for two days as part of a collective punishment policy against Arabs who refused to deny their pan-Arabism, and reject the campaign of 'Kurdishization' of the city'." Escobar noted Sunnis were being driven out by al-Maliki and explained, "No one has asked the million-dollar-question: How come multicultural Mosul - a non-Kurdish city - is now being ruled by deputy governor Khoso Goran, a Kurd?" The Kurdish Globe quotes Barzani stating today, "I urge you to be wary of allegations that the Kurds have ambitions for Mosul and are on the verge of controlling Mosul. These assertions could have dangerous consequences. Incitement to sedition and discord is a heinous crime."

The hopium across the outlets is that Barack is moving, moving on Iraq. The reality is very different.
William Wharton (Dissident Voice) analyzes a segment of yesterday's PBS Newshour:


More significant resistance will be provided to any serious attempt to end the US occupation of Iraq. Evidence of this was provided during the nightly News Hour program aired on Wednesday January 21st. The segment was entitled "Next Steps for Iraq," and featured the pro-Bush retired General Jack Keane and the Obama-ally retired General Wesley Clarke. Both Keane and Clarke delivered a clear message -- no troop removal anytime soon.
Keane, the military author of Bush's "surge strategy," claimed that Obama's campaign pledge to remove troops by 2010 "rather dramatically increases the risks" in Iraq. He recommended a "minimal force reduction" in order to "protect the political situation." Though a 2010 departure was "a risk that is unacceptable," Keane assured viewers that "Everyone knows that we are going to take our troops out of Iraq."
The Democratic Party's dog in the fight, Wesley Clarke had little bite as be agreed with Keane's assessment "it [Obama's troop removal pledge] is risky." "When President Obama made that pledge almost a year ago," Clarke claimed, "the context of what combat troops was, was taken from the legislation that was going back and forth through the House and the Senate." He then provided a key qualification, "Distinguishing combat troops from trainers, from counter-insurgency troops or counter-terrorist troops that would go against Al-Quada in Iraq and distinguishing them from the logistics troops." "So," Clarke concluded, "to say that all combat troops will be out in 2010 in sixteen months doesn't necessarily mean that all troops will be out by 2010."
If this double-speak was not enough, Clarke then provided another clear signal that the Obama campaign pledge may fall far short of anything resembling a remotely anti-war position. Clarke praised Keane as the architect of the surge policy and "the success that has been achieved through it."
[. . .]
The Clarke-Keane discussion should be quite useful for anti-war activists. It clearly signals that the "surge-consensus" forged by the Bush administration is still fully operative among the military establishment in Washington. Obama's desire for continuity in military strategy, signaled clearly through his re-appointment of Robert Gates as Secretary of Defense, should be understood as his acceptance of the positions articulated by Keane and Clarke. This presents a sharp challenge to the anti-war movement.

The 'pledge' was never genuine -- as Samantha Power told the BBC in March of 2008 -- and what he 'promised' at his rallies wasn't even what he was saying elsewhere. "Combat" troops was always his weasel term. We'll drop back to the
January 15th snapshot:

Today
Elisabeth Bumiller and Thom Shanker (New York Times) report on the US military commanders contingency plan for Iraq. Last month Bumiller and Shanker reported on the military commanders presenting a partial drawdown of US troops in Iraq on a slower scale than Barack's 'pledge' of 16 month withdrawal (of "combat" troops only). No objections were raised over the timeframe by the president-elect but, in case objections are registered in the immediate future, they've come up with an alternate plan they could implement. This calls for a high of 8,000 a month (more likely four to six thousand) to be pulled. Using the high figure, 48,000 US service members could be out of Iraq (with at least 30,000 of that number redeployed to Afghanistan) in six months. That would still leave close to 100,000 US troops in Iraq. And there is no full withdrawal planned by Barack. That is why he refused to promise that, if elected, all US troops would be out of Iraq by the end of his first term (2012). Of course, Barack also rushed to assure the Times (2007) that he would easily halt any drawdown and rush more troops back into Iraq (and no words to declare this a temporary measure) when he sat down with Michael Gordon and Jeff Zeleny (see this Iraq snapshot and Third's article and the actual transcript of the interview -- a transcript Tom Hayden should have read before humiliating himself in public, then again Tom-Tom seems to enjoy public humiliation). So the article tells you that the military's preparing for all possibilities . . . except the possibility the American people want (and some foolishly believe Barack ever promised) full withdrawal of Iraq. That is not an option the military even considers. And the report is backed up by the statements Pentagon spokesperson Goeff Morrell made today, "Our military planners do not live in a vacuum. They are well aware that the president-elect has campaigned on withdrawing troops from Iraq on a 16-month timeline. . . . So it would only be prudent of them to draw up plans that reflect that option. But that is just one of the options that they are drawing up."

Officialdom is so confused as to what Barack's doing or will do or may do. It's all a lot of . . . To chart the latest, we'll first drop back to
yesterday's snapshot for the will-he-or-won't-he:

Back to the US press breakfast with the general.
Elisabeth Bumiller (New York Times' The Caucus) notes another point Chiarelli discussed. Asked about withdrawal of 'combat' troops within 16 months (popularly presented as Barack's 'pledge') his reply included, "You can pick up and leave anything very quickly, but if you do, you'll leave it in a certain condition that won't be as good if you went through a certain deliberative process of working through those issues. And there's a lot of logistical issues that have to be worked through, and I think everybody has to understand that, that you can do antyhing, but it just depends on how you want to look and what instructions are given for what you bring and what you leave behind and the contition that you leave your operating bases in when you leave." That's nonsense and Barack could safely withdraw all US troops from Iraq in his first 100 days if he wanted. Now follow closely because it's about to get confusing. AP reports that Ali al-Dabbagh, Nouri al-Maliki's mouthpiece to the press, has declared that US service members could leave Iraq "even before the end of 2011." That's what the Status Of Forces Agreement masquerading as a treaty could allow for (departure in 2011) if it was followed and not altered or cancelled (either party can cancel it). Barack's 16-month 'pledge' (only for 'combat' troops) would mean 'combat' troops would be out in April 2010. While al-Maliki's spokesperson stated 'sure, leave early,' others sent a different message. Camilla Hall and Zainab Fattah (Bloomberg News) report Hoshyar Zebari (Iraq's Foreign Minister) disagrees and states, "Nobody can afford in 2009 to contemplate any change in military policy. . . . [We can't] give any impression that there will be draw-downs, reductioins, redeployment because this year Iraq has three elections." So which is it? When pressed, al-Maliki's spokesperson has a long history -- as does the puppet -- of backing down.

Aseel Kami and Michael Christie (Reuters) report other 'official' voices has waded in: US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker who asserts that there will be no quick withdrawal and Iraq's Minister of Defense Abdel Qader Jassim who also nixed a quicked withdrawal.

In nine days, 14 of Iraq's 18 provinces will hold elections.
Missy Ryan (Reuters) reports that some voters who supported theocrats in 2005 are voicing their displeasure and notes, "Such rumblings are a warning for Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's Dawa party and the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council (ISCI) -- which represent Iraq's Shi'ite Muslim majority -- and the Iraqi Islamic Party which is the biggest Sunni Arab group." And that byline is actually Missy Ryan, Waleed Ibrahim, Mohammed Abbas, Peter Graff, Aref Mohammed, Khaled Farhan, Fadhel al-Badrani, Michael Christie and Tim Pearce. Ernesto Londono (Washington Post) reports that 2009 sees an "open ballot" allowing voters to vote candidates as opposed to 2005 and Londono offers this analysis:

The provincial contests, as well as national parliamentary elections expected in the fall, will offer new clarity about the balance of power among Iraq's parties, several of which have resorted to violence over the past few years in the pursuit of power.
The relationship between the central government and provincial authorities is also on the line, which has prompted Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to create and fund "support councils" in provinces where his Dawa party does not have deep roots. Maliki also has become the public face of one list of candidates, converting the elections into a referendum on his rule.
And whereas Shiite parties joined a grand coalition in 2005, this time they are competing against one another in heavily Shiite southern provinces. Tribal leaders, meanwhile, are attempting to play the role of kingmaker in the south, as well as in other parts of the country.
Sunni Arabs, many of whom boycotted the 2005 elections, are widely expected to gain political ground around the country this year. In predominantly Sunni provinces, particularly Anbar, west of Baghdad, established religious parties are competing against secular ones, including some created by former insurgents who were thrust into leadership roles after the U.S. military put them on the payroll and enlisted them to fight the Sunni insurgent group al-Qaeda in Iraq.

Turning to the issue of violence.

Since McClatchy got in bed with the 'creative' Institute for War & Peace Reporting it's become a real joke and can manage to report from Iraq most days. How bad is it?

Iraq Body Count (which undercounts) reports 34 dead yesterday and somehow McClatchy missed all of the incidents including 18 corpses discovered Khalis. We have avoided IBC because it undercounts but, as I noted this morning, we can't be too picky with so many losing interest in Iraq.

Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) does manage to note 1 corpse discovered in Samarra . . . yesterday. IBC notes that as well. We may start using them (which would put us one day behind). McClatchy's already become the new Judith Miller so why not note IBC as well?

In other news, two things are coming back to Iraq. First, Abu Ghraib will reopen. Citing KUNA,
UPI explains it will now be called Baghdad Central Prison. Oh, that'll wipe everything away! (That was sarcasm.) Meanwhile BBC reports that despite such 'state of the art' accessories as "a missile launcher," Saddam Hussein's yacht is being treated like a Ford Fiesta as no one seems overly impressed and refuses to pony up the thirty million bucks: "Baghdad officials have blamed the global economic slump for their failure to find a buyer."

In the United States,
New York Times' Lizette Alvarez reports (via Detroit News), "As the number of jobs across the nation continues to dwindle, more Americans are joining the military, lured by a steady paycheck, benefits and training." It's amazing what a bad economy and a bunch of 'hope' propaganda can do for recruitment -- that and the fact that alleged 'anti-war' groups like United for Peace & Justice only do "Counter Military Recruitment" when Republicans are in the White House. The recruiting news includes the completion of an investigation. Catherine Abbott of the Army's Office of the Chief of Public Affairs announces, "The U.S. Army concluded a two and a half month investigation into the suicides of four Soldiers assigned to the Houston Recruiting Battalion. . . . The investigation concluded that there was no single cause for these deaths. Relevant factors included the command climate, stress, personal matters, and medical problems. None were diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)." The Army plans to offer more "leadership training, suicide prevention/ resiliency training" -- and, yes, that category title alone shows how little the Army comprehends -- and "rcuriter wellness." Linsday Wise (Houston Chronicle) notes, "[Brig Gen Dell] Turner said his investigation found evidence of a poor command climate inside the Houston battalion, which has lost four recruiters to suicide since 2005, including two who hanged themselves within weeks of each other last year. All four had served in Iraq or Afghanistan before being reassigned to recruiting duty, a job considered one of the most stressful in the Army, especially in wartime." Wise also notes:

At least 17 recruiters have killed themselves nationwide since 2001. The deaths come at a time when suicides among all active duty soldiers have hit record highs. In 2007, 115 committed suicide, the highest number since the Army began tracking such statistics in 1980. By October of last year, 117 soldiers had reportedly killed themselves.

US Senator John Cornyn was among those calling for the investigation and
Michelle Roberts (AP) reports he is now calling "for a congressional hearing on suicides among Army recruiters" who says the investigation found pressures from superiors: "As you might imagine, corners might have been cut -- and they were -- given the exigency of recruiting for war. The concern is that this is not isolated to a single battalion."

Turning to the media driven frenzy,
Howard Kurtz (Washington Post) offers some common sense and sanity, including, "But what's past is prologue. If journalists don't start holding the 44th president accountable -- in the same way the left wanted us to hold George W. Bush accountable -- we will have defaulted on our mission. It will be bad for the country, and bad for Obama." Also worthy of note, Margaret Kimberley (Black Agenda Report) breaks through the fog and offers reality:

Eight years ago, the presidential candidate who was actually defeated at the polls managed to be sworn in as the 43rd president of the United States. The election theft was followed by the theft of public assets and blatant law breaking. It is easy to understand why the departure of George W. Bush invokes renditions of "Ding Dong the Witch is Dead."
Unfortunately the witch is not dead. The witch is a political system controlled by the dictates of wealthy individuals and big corporations who are all very much alive. They realized before anyone else did that the Republican brand was failing, and a new product line was needed.
Fortunately for them, a master marketer came along in the nick of time and allowed them to stay in the game. One year ago Barack Obama won the Iowa caucuses and proved that he could become president. More to the point, he proved that white people would vote for him. Doubt about his chances for success disappeared in the black community and so did any memory of the way that a dedicated mass movement forced change on a nation.
Now Obama is president and there is great joy and excitement throughout most of the country. There is quite literally no way to escape his face or his words. His image is everywhere and casual conversations, church sermons and staff meetings somehow turn into Obama loveathons.
It is easy to feel demoralized and defeated when any mention of dogs inevitably turns into a discussion about his daughters' new puppy. The feelings of defeat are magnified by the non-stop barrage of media, endlessly repeating that a wonderful history is being made, and by the very real emotions that the faithful so readily exhibit.
Now that the inaugural parties are over, it is time to reenergize ourselves and prepare for the fight of our lives. If we do not, we are no better than the new president who cynically tells the easily fooled that they shouldn't "bicker" or "wrangle" over their political rights but instead accept the dictates of their overlords. If there were ever a time for righteous wrangling and bickering, it is now.


iraq
the new york timeselisabeth bumillerthom shanker
the los angeles timesned parkerlizette alvarez
pepe escobar
missy ryan
the washington posternesto londono
howard kurtz
pbs
the newshour
aseel kami
margaret kimberley

1/21/2009

things to think about re: gaza

Palestinian political leaders said Wednesday any resumption of peace talks with Israel would require the Jewish state to commit to withdraw from land occupied in 1967 and freeze all settlement activity.
The Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) issued a statement in the West Bank city of Ramallah after new U.S. President Barack Obama telephoned Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in his first full day in office Wednesday.


that's from reuters and i want to toss out a few things i think you should think about.

white house after white house kisses the israeli government's ass. over and over.

if you want life to improve for the palestinians, it's not about inviting them to the table. that's not enough when you clearly favor israel. it's as though every 1 else get a four-course meal but they're being served bread and butter. yeah, you invited to the table and then proceeded to ignore them throughout the entire meal.

and until you can call out the israeli government out loudly for their actions and not pretend like 'oh well both sides are at fault,' you're not going to get peace.

until israel knows it could really lose, it's going to do what it did in 200 and does all the time. it's going to demand that palestinians give up this and give up that and blah, blah, blah.

it's time for israel to start giving up.

and they need to do it real damn quick because as bad as things are in terms of public opinion for the israeli government right now, when the palestinians outnumber israel and do not have their own land or their rights - when they are the majority population and they are still discriminated against, israel's not going to have a single supporter in the world other than the u.s.

barack's already started off on the wrong foot. mr. hopey-changey has done what every 1 before him did and israel grasps that and grasps that they can do whatever they want.

as if they had any doubts when barack let the slaughter of gaza go on for 22 days without ever calling it out.

as long as israel knows that they can slaughter and still be treated like both sides are 'equal,' the terrorizing of the palestinians will continue.

it's not difficult to see that until some 1 stands up and calls it like it is, the israeli government will continue to do what it wants which includes using palestinians as targets whenever the country's ruling party needs to pump up their support ahead of elections (israel holds elections next month).


let's close with c.i.'s 'Iraq snapshot:'

Wednesday, January 21, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, Iraq okays US leaving quickly . . . and it doesn't okay that, provincial elections loom, the inauguration's first fatality was common sense, Liz Smith plays the fool and so much more.

Starting with Iraqi provincial elections which are scheduled to be held in 14 of Iraq's 18 provinces on January 31st.
Aseel Kami (Reuters) explores the issue of females running for seats (a little over 1/25 of those seeking office are women), "But in a country that was once one of the most progressive for women's rights in the Middle East, and where black candidates plan to run for election for the first time, female candidates say the quota gives them little real clout. The system has been dominated by conservative religious parties since U.S.-led forces ousted Saddam Hussein in 2003." Women are afraid to put up their campaign material with photos, they're afraid to campaign and they have to deal with 'honor' killings, threats and sexism. Meanwhile Alsumaria offers, "In this context, some liberals have accused dominant religious parties of giving quota seats to carefully selected women who would not call for better women's rights. However, many Iraqi men, like Abu Omar, welcome the presence of women in the political establishment." In a separate report, Alsumaria explains that Faraj Al Haydari, head of Iraq's Independent High Electoral Committee, has declared a "curfew will be imposed and airports will close off on the day of elections." NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro (Morning Edition -- link has text and audio) offers an overview:Sheik Aifan al-Issawi is a founding member of one of these groups, the Sahwa, or Awakening, movement. In 2006, he and other tribal leaders turned against al-Qaida in Iraq and joined the Americans.Now, Anbar is one of the more stable Iraqi provinces — and these fighters want to become a political force in Iraq.Issawi, head of Fallujah's tribal security force, says he and other tribal fighters have sacrificed more than anyone else. He cites his own personal losses: nine members of his family killed, including his mother and sisters.The Sunni boycott of the polls in 2005 left them with little representation. This time, the sheik says they are going to flex their electoral muscle.There has been a push in Basra to become its own region (similar to the KRG) andBasil Adas (Gulf News) reports that the push has failed after supporters "fell short of the 10 per cent of votes" needed but "further division and quarrelling" is expected to continue. Basra resident Khamis Al Alwan is quoted stating, "The Basra failure is a blow to those who are in favour of the division of Iraq. Iraqis want Iraq to remain one country, and this can be seen through the cooperation of Sunnis and Shiites to prevent its division." CNN explains only 32,448 people signed the petition (out of 135,707 required) and offers this background, "Basra is the only Iraqi province that borders a body of water -- the Shatt al Arab waterway near the Persian Gulf. The province also borders Kuwait and Iran. Cities in the province include Basra city, Umm Qasr and Zubayr."

In some of today's reported violence . . .

Bombings?

Laith Hammoudi and Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad car bombing that targeted "Zeyad al Ani, the President of the Islamic Univiersty" and resulted in 4 deaths, wounded two of his guards, and injured ten other people; and a Kirkuk roadside bombing claimed 1 life and left one wounded. Reuters notes a Dour roadside bombing that claimed 5 lives and left three people wounded.

Shootings?

Laith Hammoudi and Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 1 broker was shot dead in Mosul.

Corpses?

Reuters notes 1 corpse discovered in Zubair.


Today in DC Gen Peter W. Chiarelli (vice chief of staff in the Amry) met with reporters.
CQ Politics reports that he discussed an ongoing top-to-bottom review that will be completed at the end of next month. David Wood (Baltimore Sun) explains Chiarelli revealed approximately "20,000 soldiers are unable to serve in war zones because they are recuperating from long-term or minor injuries, including an increasing number suffering from stress fractures and other ailments caused by carrying too much weight in combat". Wood notes the general stated that the number continues to increase and that he hopes there would be downtime before any US troops from Iraq were redeployed to Afghanistan (as Barack wants them to be). The general refers to the need for relief. April 1, 2008, the US House Subcommittee on Health held a hearing entitled Post Traumatic Stress Disorter (PTSD) Treament and Research: Moving Ahead Toward Recovery. US Army Director, Divisions of Psychiatry and Neuroscience, Walter Reed Army Institute of Research's Col Charles W. Hoge testified on the first panel.

Hoge declared, "One of the issues with multiple deployments and the dwell time for soldiers when they've come back, we've learned from the research that we've done, [is] that 12 months is not enough time for soldiers to reset and go back for another deployment." Twelve months -- one year -- was not sufficient. US House Rep Shelley Berkley asked him, "Not enough time between tours of duty, did I hear you correctly?" He replied "Yes [pause] What we've found [pause] Yes. That's what I said. [pause] The 12 months is insuf- appears to be insufficient." Now in the United Kingdom, there is a push for British troops to get more time between deployments.
BBC reports General Richard Dannatt is calling for British troops "not to be sent on operations for more than six months out of every 36." Currently, deployments overseas are supposed to have 24 months between them and the plan would push the number of months to thirty. Chris Green (Independent of London) adds that:

. . . the shadow Defence Secretary, Liam Fox, described General Dannatt's comments as "yet more confirmation that overstretch is seriously damaging the Army's ability to do its job" and called for a review of the present strategy. He said: "The surest way to have unhappy service personnel is to have unhappy service families. General Dannatt's suggestions should be taken seriously, as he is at least attempting creative solutions for our overstretch problem.
"Reducing the number of overseas deployments is a start, but the Government must also look at issues of housing, health care and veterans' welfare if it wants to avert a serious crisis in recruitment and retention. Repairing the broken military covenant is long overdue."

Thomas Harding and Jon Swaine (Telegraph of London) quote Dannatt stating, "We have seriously stretched our soldiers -- both their good will and their families." And where is the concern in the US where service members already have less time home between deployments? In the US where Congress has been informed that 12 months is not enough? Tony Perry (Los Angeles Times' Babylon & Beyond) reports on 250 Marines who have finally returned from Iraq and how Cpl Kylie Vanderwende's family plans to celebrate Christmas in a few days, Edward Dikitanan's son Nalani just wants to go to the zoo with his father, Jason Bergmann was finishing his fourth deployment and the first since he'd gotten married 16 months ago to Karie Bergmann who he last saw twelve months ago, and Andrew Anderson who got to hold his daughter Kezia for the first time. In the United Kingdom, the service members already get more time between deployments and they are now moving to increase that time. It's time the US Congress did what needs to be done. (US House Rep Patrick Murphy has floated legislating deployment time and downtime and it may be time for that if the military cannot do it on their own even after the admission in an open hearing that 12 months is not enough downtime.)

Back to the US press breakfast with the general.
Elisabeth Bumiller (New York Times' The Caucus) notes another point Chiarelli discussed. Asked about withdrawal of 'combat' troops within 16 months (popularly presented as Barack's 'pledge') his reply included, "You can pick up and leave anything very quickly, but if you do, you'll leave it in a certain condition that won't be as good if you went through a certain deliberative process of working through those issues. And there's a lot of logistical issues that have to be worked through, and I think everybody has to understand that, that you can do antyhing, but it just depends on how you want to look and what instructions are given for what you bring and what you leave behind and the contition that you leave your operating bases in when you leave." That's nonsense and Barack could safely withdraw all US troops from Iraq in his first 100 days if he wanted. Now follow closely because it's about to get confusing. AP reports that Ali al-Dabbagh, Nouri al-Maliki's mouthpiece to the press, has declared that US service members could leave Iraq "even before the end of 2011." That's what the Status Of Forces Agreement masquerading as a treaty could allow for (departure in 2011) if it was followed and not altered or cancelled (either party can cancel it). Barack's 16-month 'pledge' (only for 'combat' troops) would mean 'combat' troops would be out in April 2010. While al-Maliki's spokesperson stated 'sure, leave early,' others sent a different message. Camilla Hall and Zainab Fattah (Bloomberg News) report Hoshyar Zebari (Iraq's Foreign Minister) disagrees and states, "Nobody can afford in 2009 to contemplate any change in military policy. . . . [We can't] give any impression that there will be draw-downs, reductioins, redeployment because this year Iraq has three elections." So which is it? When pressed, al-Maliki's spokesperson has a long history -- as does the puppet -- of backing down.


We're still on inauguration coverage and here's how it works. If you result in 40 or more e-mails complaining (from community members), you get called out. I'm not in the mood. And I'm not in the mood to try and answer that many e-mails one on one. When that many people are pointing to a problem, it will be called out here.
Danny Schechter. We just rolled our eyes all through 2008 when he pretended repeatedly that he was just calling it like it was and oh, goodness, no favoritism to Barack. Why does the media suck? It sucks because alleged independents refuse to do their jobs. The garbage -- and that's the only word for it -- at Danny's News Dissector today is not journalism and it is not independent. If he can't grasp it, he should substitute "Bush" for "Barack" and he should be appalled by offering up a version of Fox "News."

For starters, Rev Joseph Lowery is not "one of Dr. King's soldiers." There is NEVER any need to MILITARIZE the work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Repeating, NEVER. That is appalling and there's no excuse for it. Not even that Danny's giddy over Barack. The US is in two wars with Barack's advisors already itching for two more. Stop trying to turn our civil society into the military. And on Lowery, again
refer to Kimberly Wilder's post at On The Wilder Side.

Meanwhile, it's always great -- and oh, so rare -- when Danny manages to quote a woman at his blog, but possibly stand-up comics who don't know what the hell they're talking about should be avoided?

Jessi Klein? Doesn't know what she's talking about. And Danny should know that. Long before John Roberts, Chief Justice, screwed up the oath, Barack had already done that. And, big point, I'd be awfully careful making fun of John Roberts. Not out of fear that he or his minions would come after but due to questions about Roberts' health which swirl around DC. Also true is the oath isn't that difficult and the presumably healthy Barack has no excuse for messing it up. Jessi wants to ignore that. She wants to say it's "perfectly symbolic" because of who appointed him. And Danny apparently agrees.

Roberts -- whom this site LOUDLY opposed -- was confirmed by the Senate. Barack's buddy Cass Sunstein (currently married to War Monger and Our Modern Day Carrie Nation Samantha Power) pimped Roberts hard. Barack obviously loves Cass' 'judgment' since he's named Cass to head Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs.

Barack voted against Roberts while also leading the public argument of "WE CAN'T FILIBUSTER!" The Democrats could have kept Roberts off the bench. They did not do so. The Senate confirmed Roberts: 78 voted for Roberts, 22 voted against. Who voted for Roberts among Democrats? Well Robert Byrd among others, Russ Feingold, Kent Conrad, Chris Dodd, Patrick Leahy, Carl Levin, Patty Murray, Bill Nelson, Ben Nelson, Ken Salazar (whom Barack nominated to be Sec of Interior and whom the Senate confirmed in the post yesterday), Herb Kohl, Blanche Lincoln -- we can go on and on. Only 22 senators voted against Roberts (all Democrats). The Democrats had a bloc of 45 votes at that time (44 Dems plus independent Jim Jeffords). When half of them voted to confirm him and when the Dems would not filibuster the nomination, Roberts sitting on the Court -- presiding over it -- is as much their fault as the Republicans. That's reality in The Land of Grown Ups.

Barack said what on the Senate floor about his vote? "Given that background, I am sorely tempted to vote for Judge Roberts based on my study of his resume, his conduct during the hearigns, and a conversation I had with him yesterday afternoon. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind Judge Roberts is qualified to sit on the highest court in the land. Moreover, he seems to have the comportment and the termperament that makes for a good judge. He is humble, he is personally decent, and he appears to be respectful of different points of view." Barack continued on and on.

That's a little more complicated than Jessi Klein and Danny Schechter want to make it. But Barack's 2008 campaign ran on that sort of simplification. Danny, it's "Jessi" and writing two episodes (two bad episodes, in fact) of Samantha Who? did not make Jessi a political scholar or, for that matter, informed. But then you knew she wasn't informed when you read her. It failed as political criticism and, like so much of her writing, it failed as comedy. Stick to drooling over David Gergen, Jessi.


It was "stirring" -- gushes Danny of the inauguration -- of the pomp and assholeness of it all. (And that's true of every inauguration.) He confesses Iran's PRESS TV didn't "share my enthusiasm" and that an interviewer for South Africa media "was more focused on what policies, if any, would shift." That should have been the first sign that there's a problem with your reaction.

We could go line by line but we're wrapping up. I will note that I attended the inauguration to see Joe Biden sworn in. I didn't feel the need to go goo-goo-gaa-gaa. I haven't written about it and don't intend to. I'll leave the mash notes to our so-called 'independent' media.

Danny quotes AP (though it's not clear at his website that he's doing that) "Not since the September 2001 terrorist attacks have so many television networks shown such a unity of purpose, this time for a moment of hope." Manufacturing of consent and Danny toiled in the TV industry long enough to grasp that without my pointing it out. Then it's time for him to provide the transcript to the bad poem. It's a really bad poem because it's neither the 19th nor 20th century currently.

For a supposed new day dawning (those words top Danny's site currently), trying writing about today and not nostalgia. What's really sad is Alexander doesn't even grasp that her Norman Rockwell garbage is neither realistic nor poetic. She's got a teacher telling students to "take out your pencils" -- take out your pencils? She apparently thinks it is 1899 and not 2009. She's then off to "dirt roads" and "highways." She apparently even pre-dates the creation of the nation's interstates.

With no sense of irony, Danny then quotes Michael Parenti on, among other things, "conservative forces" who "continue to reject . . . publicly funded campaigns." Who rejected public money? Oh, yeah, War Hawk Corporatist Barack Obama.


To Danny's e-mailer from Denmark, Barack Obama is not your president. I am so sorry that you are so ashamed of your own country which you must think is pathetic and backwards. But that's your problem. This goes for people in Kenya (non-Obama family members), France and elswhere. Barack is a citizen of the United States, elected to be the president of the United States. Denmark and all the rest, don't whine about the US always trying to throw its weight around when your PATHETIC LIVES are so empty that all you can do is obsess over another country's leader.

It really wasn't cute in Breaking Away when Dave was obsessed with a country other than his own, when he need to pretend he's from that country. It was seen as adolescent and embarrassing and it's the main reason the box office for the film was so poor and why it ended up on NBC (broadcast TV) so quickly that it couldn't even go back into theaters after its Oscar win for best screenplay. No one wants that crap. No one wants some whiney ass obsessing about another country. If you loathe Denmark so much, work on improving it. If you're tired of the US throwing its weight around, stop hero worshipping the country.

Is this the same crowd that worships Prince Harry and gets out the scones (even though they're not British or part of the United Kingdom) and tea for their 'wedding parties' anytime HRH has a family member getting married? It's pathetic. Do you not have lives to live? They're the equivalent of rubber neckers passing a traffic accident but with their pinkies lifted.

John Pilger actually is independent and you can find him explain Barack
here and here and here and here and here. And you can find Danny telling the same or similar truths . . . Where?


And now we move on to
Liz Smith. Liz apparently missed the news of the actor who will never play gay (because he is and he's in the closet) who got drunk last night at a ball, mistook a high school junior for a trick and caused an ugly, ugly scene (that only got worse when the parents -- part of official Washington -- ended up involved). Or maybe she's ignoring that scoop to cover for the actor? I have no idea. But I know what she's dishing out today is GARBAGE and needs to be called out. Liz wants everyone to leave Barry alone. He's "historic" and people need to get out of his way, says the tall Texan before explaining:

I'm more worried about the Democrats and their mumbling about taking members of the Bush administration -- perhaps even the ex-president himself -- to legal task for eight years of ineptitude and possibly worse. Please! Nancy Pelosi, buy a clue. When your president talks about turning the page, he doesn't mean to have the country and media embroiled and obsessed with Bush and company for ages ahead. I don't want to see or hear or concern myself with anything Bush from now on. Leave them all to heaven.

Liz, Nancy's not the one who needs to buy a clue. You're the damn fool who's clueless. Now everyone was laughing at you two weeks ago when you were running with Tina Fey's p.r. that she and Sarah Palin were friends. You got punked, Liz. You're not going to get your credibility back by refusing to grasp the seriousness of what the Bully Boy did to this country. You embarrass yourself. You don't come off funny or hilarious. You come off completely unconcerned with the law and more interested in covering up for torture than holding anyone accountable. Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the House, really doesn't need your 'strong' 'editorials.' Why don't you stick to who's sleeping with who and stay away from topics so clearly beyond your limited grasp? For reality on the need to hold the previous administration accountable, see
this by the Center for Constitutional Rights president Michael Ratner who also is a co-host of Law & Disorder along with Dalia Hashad, Heidi Boghosian and Michael Smith. And on Guantanamo, Barack's last public statements were they he would close it but would move the prisoners elsewhere. As Ava and I pointed out, "Believe it or not, the cry to close Guantanamo was not a cry for relocation. It was a cry for freedom. But Barack made clear to The Post that some people held at Guantanamo could not be convicted in a court of law because their 'confessions' resulted from torture." As Barack now indicates that even closing Guantanamo will take a year, the Center for Constitutional Right's Executive Director Vince Warren points out: "It only took days to put these men in Guantanamo, it shouldn't take a year to get them out."



iraq
the new york timeselisabeth bumiller
tony perrythe los angeles times
mcclatchy newspapers
camilla hall
thomas harding
aseel kami
basil adasnprmorning editionlourdes garcia-navarro
law and disorder
michael ratner
michael smith
dalia hashad
heidi boghosian