Thursday, November 24, 2011

Basra slammed with bombings

Press TV notes at least 10 dead and dozens are injured from multiple bombings today in Basra. Nabil al-Jurani (AP) explains, "Three bombs went off in a popular open-air market in Basra, police officials said." BBC News quotes shop owner Noufal Hassan, "I immediately went out of my shop and saw the blood. The nearest shops were shattered and the cars were burned." W.G. Dunlop (AFP) counts over 65 injured and they have 19 killed and they're able to back that up with figures from the Basra health directorate, Riyadh Abdelamir.

In other violence reported today, Reuters notes 1 police officer and his son were kidnapped in Ramadi, a Ramadi market bombing left five people injured, the Jalawla village mayor was shot dead in a market, an attack on a Mosul military checkpoint claimed the life of 1 Iraqi solider, 1 employee of the Ministry of Electricity was shot dead in Shura, an armed clash in Baaj left one Iraqi soldier dead and an Iraqi military officer injured and a Mussayab home bombing targeted a Sahwa leaving two people injured.

Meanwhile, Blue Coat Systems is back in the news. From the October 31st snapshot:

Mvelase Peppetta (Memeburn) reports alarm that the government of Syria has "internaet censorship equipment." It's illegal, according to US law, for it to have this Blue Coat Systems 'filter.' How did it get it? Apparently from Iraq. The US government okayed the sale of web censorship equipment to Iraq. Did the US government bother to run that past either the Iraqi people or the American people? No. Nor did it publicize the sale.

Today Khaled Waleed (Niqash) reports on the issue:

The US government says it is investigating how the devices got to Syria and Blue Coat Systems of Sunnyvale, the California-based company responsible for manufacturing the equipment, says it is cooperating fully. If the firm deliberately violated the sanctions -- which say special permission is required to import this kind of equipment into Syria -- then it could be liable for a fine of up to US$1 million.
Although the 14 web monitoring devices were shipped to Dubai late in 2010 from where they were supposed to be sent to Iraq, Iraq itself has denied any involvement in the transaction.
Nonetheless in Iraq, the issue is also causing concern. Since 2004, when the US put into effect the Syria Accountability Act, for what the US sees as Syria's support of "terrorism, involvement in Lebanon, weapons of mass destruction programs and the destabilizing role it is playing in Iraq", goods that contain more than 10 per cent componentry that is manufactured in the US have been prohibited from being exported there. However it is quite possible that Syria has been able to obtain embargoed goods through third parties. The question now is what Iraq had to do with the 13 Blue Coat web surveillance devices.

How sweet. The US government is worried that Syria has the technology and might use it to harm the people of Syria. But the US allowed despot Nouri to have the technology even though he has a long record of suppressing freedom.

The following community sites -- plus On The Wilder Side, ACLU, Adam Kokesh and Michael Ratner (he updated with a post by his daughter Ana) -- updated last night:

Joan Wile is the founder of Grandmothers Against the War and has written the book Grandmothers Against the War: Getting Off Our Fannies and Standing Up for Peace. She is taking part in the Occupy Wall Street protests in New York and this is her latest report on that:

Down But Far From Out
by Joan Wile, Author,
Grandmothers Against the War: Getting Off Our Fannies And Standing Up For Peace (Citadel Press)

Zucotti Park is greatly changed from the bustling, overflowing, colorful encampment it was only a week ago when I was there. All the tarps, tents, flags, banners, food tables, various outreach tents with busy computers and phones, are gone. There are fewer people there.
But, it IS still there, and still embodies the spirit that catapulted it overnight into the nation's consciousness just two months ago.
It is still there despite the iron fences that surround every inch of space making it look like an open-air prison compound.
It is still there despite the plethora of police and security guards that now occupy Occupy. One can't help noting the irony of so many of "New York's Finest" deployed on one square block of Manhattan real estate while there are whole neighborhoods, even vast sections of New York City rampant with crime, poor sanitation, and safety threats with no police presence at all. These conditions are the avowed reason why Mayor Bloomberg sent the troops in to demolish Zucotti in the first place. Something is wrong with this picture.
Today, Monday, Nov. 21, I had the great privilege of going to Zucotti Park with a delegation of senior citizens, union retirees, people with disabilities, health and social justice advocates and just plain people concerned about the threat of cuts to the safety net, particularly those affecting seniors. We went there after a meeting held at the United Federation of Teachers premises a couple of blocks from Zucotti. Approximately 7 or 8 young Occupy people had joined our meeting and expressed solidarity with our concerns. We, of course, thanked them for all that they are doing. As one of the elders said, "You have awakened the sleeping giant!"
At the iconic site, we held a rally, Zucotti style, following their "Mic Check" method of human amplification wherein a speaker says a few words and then the audience loudly repeats them. As we spoke, beginning around 1 p.m., the crowds began to thicken in the park. A couple of us authors found that there is still a library, vastly depleted by the cops' vicious confiscation of all the occupiers' property, and we donated copies of our books. We were told by Jonathan, who was manning the meager little collection, that it was probable that the books would be grabbed again at the end of the day.
After we finished our program, a delightful bit of street theatre was presented by a batch of college and university students affiliated with Wearing caps and gowns, they were presented with Debt Diplomas inscribed with various amounts of money
-- one was $57,000, another $35,000, and so on. Each recipient was identified by name -- Penny Less was one. Bill O'debt another. You get the idea. I thought it was cute (are we allowed to apply that adjective to such serious people as Occupiers?).
A professor from New York University told us that the Federal Government would need $70 billion to cover all 2- and 4-year public college and university students today. He told us that 70 billion dollars was equivalent to that lost by the Pentagon for unaccounted-for spending.
I must add to this my own concern as founder of Grandmothers Against the War that the money wasted on our wars/occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan total far more than that amount, and we should all be pressing for an end to those unconscionable conflicts.
So, Zucotti Park goes on. Given the dedication and creativity of the wonderful young people there, physically and symbolically, I have full confidence that the movement they have sparked will continue to grow and flourish until the urgent changes we 99 percent seek are implemented.

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