Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Independent warms itself in front of a cozy war

Does the whoring ever end? I swear the World Health Organization should be testing every so-called reported for sexually transmitted disease.

They can start with Jonathan Owen. The Independent of London isn't all that independent, of course. And it has a large grouping of Iraq War whores. And it's got even more who loved the war on Libya and want more wars. That explains how Jonathan Owen's fabulist tale is featured to begin with.

Owen wants to explore "Curveball" in a dishonest manner, of course. Curveball was a liar and the CIA knew he was a liar -- a detail Owen can't find all these later, really? Curveball was also only one of many liars. And liars in the administration took those known lies and built on them.

Lawrence Wilkerson is quoted in the article but damned if I can understand him. Can someone knock Colin Powell's cock out of Lawrence's mouth so we can understand what he's saying?

Colin Powell was a War Criminal before the US Supreme Court ignored the will of the American people and installed Bully Boy Bush into the White House.

Article like this exist for one reason only: To prepare the world for war. To take a known illegal war and confuse the issue. It wasn't, we're supposed to understand, the governments of the US or UK's fault, it was this Iraqi defector.

So they throw a lot of words at you in the hopes that they'll stun your mind into submission, defeating the natural logic process that would lead you to respond, "Wait, this Iraqi defector didn't control any armies, didn't have millions to spend on wars and had no bombs to send, how can we pin the wars on him?"

But if we can blame someone, especially a 'foreigner,' for the Iraq War then we don't need to learn any lessons about how governments lie and lie regularly to the people and how eager the press is to enlist in the lying process. Bush and Blair had a whole host of willing participants. Strange that the Independent of London isn't interested in writing about that.

And if you're unaware of Colin Powell's previous War Crimes, visit Robert Parry's Consortium News -- only don't read anything from 2008 or later. That's when Parry gives up his ethics to whore for Barack. But in the older archives -- and especially in pieces co-written with Norman Solomon -- you can learn all about Collie Powell and how he's never been a friend of the enlisted but has always whored for war. And Parry? He got in bed with Lawrence Wilkerson and betrayed everything he ever wrote. Everything. He's a sad, sad man.

Al Mada reports Iraqi President Jalal Talabani congratulated the Communist Party on their 78th anniversary. He sent them his "warmest congratulations" and for their work -- since Saddam Hussein was removed -- in helping to build a better Iraq. No mention was made of Nouri targeting the Communist Party Monday night with the arrests. Al Rafidayn reports 1 Sahwa and two members of his family were killed in a Baghdad home invasion.

Meanwhile Ahmed Hussien (Al Mada) reports that phone service (cell) has returned to Baghdad and that the citizens can finally drive on their own streets again after a week of being held hostage by Nouri's forces.

Dar Addustour reports that Iraqiya's Ayad Allawi is in Turkey where he will discuss the ongoing Iraqi political crisis with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The current political crisis stems from Nouri al-Maliki agreeing to (and signing) the US-brokered Erbil Agreement so that he could remain prime minister but then, once he was named prime minister, going back on the agreement. Since the summer, the Kurdistan bloc has been calling on Nouri to return to the agreement. Iraqiya (which got the most votes in the March 2010 elections) has joined the call for a return to the Erbil Agreement. Since December 21st, Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi and President Talabani have been calling for a national conference to address the the crisis. Al Sabaah reports that the National Alliance is stating that preparations for the conference have been completed. Dar Addustour adds that the National Alliance is stating the conference will take place Thursday. (However, that is around the time previously announced as a prep meeting for the National Conference.)

Massoud Barzani is the President of the KRG and he is currently traveling on several diplomatic missions. Friday he was in Bulgaria. Focus Information Agency reports, "Bulgaria and Kurdistan will cooperate in the field of agriculture, healthcare and economy, as agreed at the meeting between Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov and President of Iraq's Kurdistan Region Masoud Barzani, the press office of the government announced. 'Bulgaria has year-long traditions in the friendship with the Iraqi nation and to us it is important for our country to be able to develop mutually beneficial exchange with one so important component of Iraq as Kurdistan is,' the Bulgarian prime minister remarked." President Barzani will be visiting the US on his current diplmatic tour. Friday the State Dept noted:

Iraq: Visit of Iraqi Kurdistan Regional President Masoud Barzani

Taken Question
Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
March 30, 2012

Question: What can you tell us about Iraqi Kurdistan Regional (IKR) President Barzani’s visit to Washington? Who will he meet with?

Answer: IKR President Masoud Barzani will be visiting Washington next week at the invitation of Vice President Biden, extended to him last November during the Vice President’s visit to Iraq. The Vice President looks forward to hosting IKR President Barzani during his visit. I refer you to the White House for meetings that will take place there.

President Barzani’s meetings at State Department next week will include Deputy Secretary Burns, Deputy Secretary Nides and others.

We'll close with this from the KRG:

Washington DC, USA ( – The Kurdistan Regional Government’s Representative to the US on March 27th highlighted the government’s steps to protect women and promote their participation in public and political life.

At an Ambassadors’ roundtable event convened by several women’s and business organisations, the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) Representative Mr Qubad Talabani said that in the past two decades the government has intensified efforts to address women’s problems and honour-based killings.

He said, “Today in Iraqi Kurdistan, honour killings are no longer legally excused. Police are much more likely to arrest perpetrators suspected of carrying out honour crimes, and judges are increasingly handing out stiffer sentences against those convicted of honour-related homicides.”

Mr Talabani pointed to the Kurdistan Parliament’s vital role, in issuing necessary legislation, especially when it passed the first Family Violence Law that outlaws the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) and criminalises domestic violence.

“A lot of these legislative reforms are also possible because of an increase in the number of female legislators. In the Iraqi Kurdistan Region’s Parliament, 30 percent of the seats are allocated to women,” Mr Talabani said. “The greater number of female Parliamentarians has meant that issues that matter to Kurdish women are increasingly being proposed, debated and passed into law,” he added.

As another sign of improving women’s protection in Kurdistan Region, Mr Talabani stressed that Kurdistan is the only part of Iraq where government-supported women’s shelters exist, and where women threatened with violence can be protected.

The roundtable was held to discuss women’s causes around the world in the month of March, known as Women’s History Month, and was organised by the Center for Women in Business at the US Chamber of Commerce, the Center for the International Private Enterprise, and the Diplomatic Courier Magazine.

Regarding the challenges facing the KRG, Mr. Talabani mentioned that the government needs to provide training for the law enforcement, courts, health care providers and other government employees to better understand and respond to the problem of gender-based violence, and to promote a stronger application of these new laws.

Mr Talabani concluded by saying that the law is one important tool to bring about social change, but it needs to take place alongside greater public awareness and advocacy to change how people think about issues of shame, honour and the role of women and girls in our society.

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Who decided domestic violence wasn't violence?

David Brown (Washington Post) reports that the signature wounds of the modern wars, that research demonstrates a weak link between TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) and PTSD (Post-Trumatic Stress Disorder) and "outright violent behavior." And "outright violent behaviors"? That's defined as mudering or harming a stranger. There's something really sick about this article.

Brown tells you, "Veterans with PTSD are two to three times as likely to be physically abusive of their wives and girlfriends as those without the diagnosis." There's something very disturbing about the 'allowance' being made for those criminal behaviors.

If you expand PTSD to previous related -- and some would argue that they are the same -- conditions from war, what you learn is that those suffering from PTSD are far more likely to harm themselves than to harm others. And that needs to be stressed repeatedly because many people with PTSD will never harm anyone including themselves. Those that do harm are far more likely to self-harm. There is a small number -- if you bring in the data for "shell-shocked" and other earlier conditions/classifications -- that will resort to violence and, as the article notes of solely the current classification of PTSD, that not going to be as high as the number of veterans without PTSD who will harm themselves or others.

But we don't need to lie to dispel myths and we don't need to treat unacceptable AND criminal behavior as something to ignore or minimize. Violence towards others is violence towards others and our society has progressed far enough that we no longer pretend that domestic violence doesn't take place or that it's a 'personal' issue.

Domestic violence is a crime, it is violence and I think a strong argument can be made that it's a form of terrorism.

And we don't the need the usual whiners pretending domestic violence is no big deal. As Maureen Orth detailed in Vanity Fair nearly nine years ago, there are life and death consequences.

The study's built-in fallacy that domestic abuse is not "outright violence" should be enough to decry it. You can't clean that up. You can't wash it out.

And what people should be focusing on is: Who the hell is so f**ked up that they pretend criminal and violent behavior isn't "outright violence"?

Who did the study? It appears the study was done by the Department of Veterans Affairs' National Center for PTSD. (Appears? Someone needs to teach David Brown that when you're reporting on a study, you cite the study. You don't turn in a 20 paragraph article and forget to note what study or studies you're using and who did them.)

If the VA did this study or the Pentagon, they need to answer publicly on how (and why) they created a categorization system that doesn't classify domestic violence as something other than violence. Considering the culture of denial in both the Pentagon and the VA about rape and abuse, this classification goes beyond disturbing.

The following community sites -- plus Adam Kokesh and Ms. magazine -- updated last night and today:

We'll close with this from Michigan's Green Party:

Ecological Wisdom • Social Justice • Grassroots Democracy • Non-Violence
Green Party of Michigan

News Release
March 29, 2012

For More Information, Contact:
Green Party Elections Coordinator, John Anthony La Pietra (269)781-9478
Media Coordinator: Jennifer La Pietra (508)280-1360

Green Party Candidates Vie Without Vitriol

While the Republican candidates’ now infamous tv ads spew gossip, hatred and downright lies towards each other, candidates for the Green Party’s nomination are not shy in their respect for one another.

When a voter financially supports a political campaign, what does their money actually buy? In a recent article by ProPublica, candidates’ spending is clearly outlined in an easy-to-understand graph. Companies employed by the various candidates, as well as by Superpacs, are listed in order of how much the candidates spent on them.
Just as an example, how about a quick look over the facts. Four of the top five companies employed by the Romney Campaign are dedicated to advertisement in one form or another for a total of $31,995,768 of the total $55,824,004 which they have spent so far.
The Santorum campaign, while funded much more modestly, still spends a better portion of their spending on advertisements: three (maybe four - one of the top companies has little public information available) of the top five. Out of $10,021,936 spent thusfar, $6,437,978 has gone to these three companies alone.
The Democratic party is no stranger to vice. It has been well-documented that President Obama has many times the financial support of any on the Republican side. However, since Obama has few rivals for the Democratic nomination, he can save a better portion of his negative ad money for the home stretch of the race to the White House. Of $60,814,484 Only three of Obama’s top five companies have been advertising companies, though his ads are far from kind to his Republican rivals.
A voter is done a disservice if they’ve never heard of a candidate or don’t know whether they embody the ideals that voter would like to see in a president. However, the public is best informed by what a candidate will try to achieve in office, not by what one dislike about another candidate. If the advertisement was solely used to inform, supporters’ finances would be well-spent. However, as the candidates sweep the nation through primary season, these ads are overwhelmingly negative. Ken Walsh highlighted this trend as it continued in Chicago last week: “Romney and his allied political action committee have outspent his closest rival, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, by 7-to-1 in Illinois, according to a survey by Politico . . . [t]he overwhelming majority of that money went to TV ads, largely negative commercials against Santorum.” This is where both Republicans and Democrats differ greatly from the Green Party candidates.
As of the latest official report, the leading Green Presidential hopeful -- Dr. Jill Stein of Massachusetts -- has not yet taken a single donation over $1,000. In fact, she’s made a campaign commitment to only take money from people, not corporate sponsors. Right now, she is seeking to raise $5,000 each from at least 20 states, in individual donations of $250 or less, in order to qualify for matching government funding. As of the time this article was written, she has achieved this benchmark in five states, with several others well on their way. This kind of self-imposed restriction have been a hallmark of Green candidates running for offices at all levels of government.
Because of Dr. Stein’s modest funding goals, she hadn’t garnered the funding which would require her to report her spending to the FEC at the end of the last quarterly reporting period in January. Even without the official report to turn to, one can clearly see what the Green candidates are not spending their money on: negative ads. The main focus of Green campaigns is the open, honest and fair government the people of the United States have shown a clear desire to obtain.
Instead of spending millions on tearing down the competition, Roseanne Barr who is also vying for the spot on the Green ticket, had only the very highest opinion of her opponent. As the Washington Post wrote:
“Does the sitcom queen really expect to be nominated? Not so much. She wrote on Twitter, ‘I run in support of The Green Party & probably of Jill Stein—hopefully I can be of service by speaking on media about a viable choice 4 voters.’ A Vice President Barr also doesn’t seem to be in the cards: ‘jill has already named a vice. i'm just in it to support the greens and their fine american message.’” (errors in original)
A campaign run for the good of the voters? As Jill Stein observed while in Ohio in early February: “It is great to have Roseanne Barr on the Green Party team. Let’s bring down the house!” Unlike the divided Republican party, the Green Party remains unified in their goal making government what it should be: the voice of the people.
# # #
FEC financial disclosure from the Jill Stein campaign:

Published comment about Roseanne Barr from Jill Stein, February 7th

Washington Post article where Roseanne Barr voiced support for Jill Stein:

ProPublica’s graph of campaign spending by Democrats, Republicans and Super Pacs:

Ken Walsh Article in campaign spending in Chicago:

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GPMI was formed in 1987 to address environmental issues in Michigan politics. Greens are organized in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Each state Green Party sets its own goals and creates its own structure, but US Greens agree on Ten Key Values:

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Friday, March 30, 2012

Iraq snapshot

Friday, March 30, 2012.  Chaos and violence continue, camp cheerleaders try to find "success," Iraqis continue to suffer, US not so quick to sell Iraq high-tech enemy, the US Congress talks military sexual traum and military suicides, and more.
Jane Arraf (Christian Science Monitor) wants you to know that, as Sly Stone once sang, everybody is a star, that we're all winners.   Probably Charlotte Caffey and Jane Wiedlin were closer to the truth with, "We're all dreamers, we're all whores" ("This Town," first appears on  the Go-Gos' Beauty and the Beat). Journalists are supposed to be critical thinkers not advance men for the company. The Arab League Summit was only a success if we're all toddlers and everyone gets a trophy for showing up.  Or if you're stupid enough to think something's true just because a two-bit thug like Nouri al-Maliki says it is.
There are 22 countries in the Arab League.  Hamza Hendawi and Lara Jakes (AP) put the number of Arab League leaders who attended at 10 and they pointed out that Qatar, Saudi Arabi, Morocco and Jordan were among those who sent lower-level officials to the summit. Patrick Martin (Globe & Mail) explains that Sheik Hamad Bin Jassem Bin Jabr Al Thani (Prime Minister of Qatar) declared on television that Qatar's "low level of representation" was meant to send "a 'message' to Iraq' majority Shiites to stop what he called the marginalization of its minority Sunnis." Yussef Hamza (The National) offers, "Iraq has looked to the summit, the first it has hosted in a generation, to signal its emergence from years of turmoil, American occupation and isolation. It wanted the summit to herald its return to the Arab fold. But the large number of absentees told a different story."  That's reality.
Who's the liar pimping success?  Why it's not just Nouri al-Maliki, it's Jane Arraf and Prashant Rao's Twitter buddy, the idiot Reider Visser.  A fool not qualified to discuss legalities of the Erbil Agreement as evidenced by his dime store 'legal' 'analysis' that makes Elle Woods look, by comparison, like a legal giant along the lines of Thurgood Marshall. And of course Jane and Prashant and the others weren't trained in the law either so they idiotically retweet Reider's ignorance there by multiplying it as well as endorsing it.  Reider's a Nouri al-Maliki groupie so he's hardly an impartial voice.  He's also buddies with trash Nir Rosen. Though Nir's more famous right now for turning over the names of Western reporters to the Syrian government (that's what led to the recent charges that he was a spy), he of course became infamous for presenting the 'legal' 'analysis' that Lara Logan 'had it coming.'  Nir really wasn't qualified for anything other than blowhard status but the Circle Jerk -- the same one that Jane and Prahsant employ on Reider's behalf -- ensured that a man was elevated and it didn't matter that he pisses on women or anything else.  It's really past time that so-called professional journalists started examing their own ethics.  At best, Reider is nothing but a whore for Nouri.  There's no reason to treat him as impartial.  There's no reason to treat his 'legal' renderings as worth passing on. 
And to make his lack of value clear, he's pronounced the summit "a landmark achievement."  (You sort of picture him panting that as he pulls on himself for a minute and ten seconds.)  (Though I may be implying more endurance than he actually has.)
Only a whore for Nouri would pronounce the summit "a landmark achievement." It's cute the way he and Jane Arraf and Prashant Rao and the rest ignore the assault on the Communist Party in Baghdad this week.  That took place in Baghdad.  That took place as supposedly part of 'security sweep' on the neighborhood for the summit.  12 people were arrested and forced to sign papers they hadn't read.  And that's not news?  But what a little pig and prig named Reider Viseer thinks is supposed to carry weight? 
Because like the 'professional journalists,' he ignores what was done to the Communist Party this week.  It's really interesting and illuminating to see what gets covered and what gets ignored and, excuse the hell out of me, but let's also point that when we spent a week here covering the assault on Iraqi youth, Prashant, Jane and their beloved Reider couldn't be bothered with the story.
I guess it's easy to judge Iraq a success when you ignore all the people who suffer and die.  I guess it's real damn easy -- real damn easy to lie.
And to whine.  I seem to remember these 'professional journalists' and their whines about it took two hours or four hours or they didn't have phone service wah, wah, wah.  Did any of those self-obsessed fools stop to write one damn article about the Iraqi journalists who were denied the right to cover the summit?
Did they note that printing presses were down?
Did they mention that outlets like Dar Addustour were basically forced into a holiday for the entire summit?
No, they didn't.  But they did let you know that, golly, they ate their breakfast and it was digesting but now it was two hours later and their tummies were rumbling and goodness knows the bus they were on should be moving towards food a whole lot faster.
Everyone pimping the damn lie that the summit was a success should be ashamed of themselves.  Not Reider Visser -- his kind is immune to shame.  But so-called 'professional journalists,' I don't know what the hell you think you did this week but most of you didn't do reporting.
Not only did you ignore the threats to the Iraqi people, you ignored the staples you usually cover.  Radical cleric and online tween advisor Moqtada al-Sadr takes questions from his followers and posts answers.  These are usually the 'quotes' of Moqtada's that you see in the press.  They love to cover this -- often forgetting to note it was written and it's an online exchange -- but they love to cover it.  Strangely, they ignored what he said this week.
He said the US citizen that was released was a soldier.  We're talking about Randy Michael Hills.  He was in the news March 17th and 18th.   The most fitting headline of all the coverage went was on Jack Healy's New York Times article: "Militans Free American No One Knew Was Missing." Randy Michael Hills, a 59-year-old American, former US military or current US military (take your pick) was released by forces once attached to Moqtada al-Sadr who explained that they had held the man for nine months (that he was held for nine months was confirmed by Victoria Nuland in a US State Dept press briefing).
Peter Graff (Reuters) reported that the man "was shown on telievision in a U.S. military univorm with no insignia, flanked by two members of parliament from Sadr's movement."  Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) reported:

Maha al-Douri, a lawmaker and a member of the al-Sadr movement, said Michael had been in captivity for nine months. A spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad said officials were working "to verify the information regarding the alleged U.S. captive."
A Pentagon official said the Defense Department is also looking into the reports, but added that to the best of defense officials' knowledge, no active duty military person has been missing in Iraq.
The website of the Defense Prisoner Of War/ Missing Personnel Office on Saturday showed three Defense Department contractors as still missing from Operation Iraqi Freedom. Michael was not among them.

Al Mada's coverage made clear that the Sadr brigade considers him a soldier and states they captured a US soldier (not contractor) and they state he took part in the 2004 attack on Najaf and Sadr City as well as 2008 attacks in southern and Central Iraq -- what is known as the Charge of the Knights -- that begins March 25th and is a joint US-Iraq operation targeting Moqtada's forces. And this week, Moqtada answered a question about this released hostage and again stated he was US military, not former military, not a contractor.  He may or may not be telling the truth or he may be telling what he thinks is the truth and be mistaken.  But Moqtada al-Sadr does know the difference between a US soldier and a contractor.  It's interesting that no one wanted to quote Moqtada this week.  They usually break their necks trying to follow Moqtada. (Moqtada was a press created 'political figure.'  Had it not been for the international press -- as well as Paul Bremer's demonization of Moqtada throughout 2004 -- he would not be the celebrity and power player he is today.)
There are many other stories that they ignored.  I think they were highly foolish to ignore KRG President Massoud Barzani but there's a distaste for him among a certain element in the US press.
The summit was a failure and maybe pretending otherwise allows some people -- including those who didn't file a thing until after the summit -- to pretend that they weren't failures as well.  But they were.
Some of the idiots want to tell you that the number of Arab heads of states who did not attend doesn't matter and that you should look at the ones who attended and decided to support Iraq.
That insanity (from Reider among others) comes from extreme whoring.  It's the after effects of some sort of veneral mental disease turning them all into some sort of modern day Oswald Alving.  Clearly Reider has not only never planned a large, successful function, he's never planned anything.  It was not the "Iraq League."  It was a summit for the Arab League.  About half sent heads of state.  That had little to do with Iraq and more to do with attempting to honor the organization.  It was a failure.  Iraq's neighbors are probably laughing at the turnout. They're surely laughing at the idiot claims Nouri made and at his repeated attempts to present himself as someone who has battled 'terrorism' and brought about 'peace.'   That wasn't his only bone-head move.  Youssef Hamza (The National) observes that, "Iraq's Shiit prime minister, Nouri Al Maliki, may have stunned his Arab guests when he told them his government's handling of Iraq's sectarian conflict 'can be an example to follow in other Arab Nations'."
Again, as Gulf News pointed out, "In addition, the idea that fortified areas such as the Green Zone can exist is also not the solution.  As a matter of fact, the very existence of such isolated and protected enclaves proves that there is much to be done to ensure stability and peace."
To hold the disappointing summit, Baghdad had to go into lockdown.  Airline traffic had to stop.  Barricades had to go back up throughout Baghdad.  A national holiday had to be declared for the week.  Over 100,000 extra security forces had to be deployed.  Supposedly a large amount of money was spent on armored vehicles for these forces -- these vehicles came from Jordan and the fact that the order was last minute and had to be rushed significantly increased the cost.  If the Parliament were to explore that, people might question the planning and the vast cost overruns.  Whether it's half-a-billion that was spent on the summit or a billion, that was money that has not been spent on the Iraqi people.  And how the hell does that make for a success?  We're not that many months away from the regular cholera outbreaks in Iraq.  The main reason these happen every year is due to the fact that potable water isn't readily available.  (Potable water is water that is safe to drink as is -- no boiling of the water is necessary nor purification tablets.)
UPI reports that, "Iraq is acquiring an array of missiles and other sophisticated systems for the 36 Lockheed Martin F-16s it's buying to build an air force but Washington is reluctant to provide Baghdad with the most advanced U.S. weapons."  Somewhere Reider's Tweeting: "Landmark achievement" -- with Prashant and Jane rushing to retweet.  And Reider's insisting that it's an achievement because, in 2002, the US wasn't selling Iraq F-16s!!!!!!
Al Mada noted yesterday morning that the Iraqi public and Parliament would be judging the summit a success or not based upon whether the leaders turned out for the summit. On that scale, it wasn't a success. In other words, attendence needs improvement and absences hinder progress.  In addition to snubs and rebukes, Liz Sly, Aziz Alwan and Asaad Majeed (Washington Post) also note, "The blast at the Iranian Embassy undermined the government's boasts that it had managed to pull off the summit without incident, although it would have gone unheard in the conference room deep inside the vast palace. Zebari and Elaraby both seemed surprised when asked about it by a journalist." Not a success.  Sam Dagher (Wall St. Journal) points out, "It spent almost $1 billion on preparations that included unprecedented security measures -- jamming cellphone networks and mobilizing 100,000 security-force members -- and rolling out a catered menu for dignitaries that featured a dessert of 24-carat-gold-laced dates."
Putting on the dog for visitors while the people went without?
One's left to wonder how Jane and the gang would cover Marie Antoinette?  "A success by any standards.  Today, October 16, 1793, the one-time Dauphine of France was beheaded via the guillotine . . . so that the many admirers throughout the land might have not just a corpse to remember her by but a corpse and a head! And La Veuve Capet looked simply gorgeous clad in a simple white shift as she approached the guillotine clearly having followed a strict diet in the last weeks allowing her to show off a sleaker and slimmer figure."
From the failed leadership of Nouri to the failed leadership of Tony.  One time British prime minister and Bush family pet, Tony "The Poodle" Blair barged back into the news cycle. Richard Norton-Taylor (Guardian) reports that yesterday Clare Short accused Blair of distorting reality in order to start the Iraq War. Specifically, he lied when he asserted the French would nix any attempt at a second resolution from the UN Security Council.

Backing up. The UN authorized weapons inspectors to go into Iraq. The UN did not authorize the war. Many citizens of the US and UK felt their rulers (Bully Boy Bush and Toy Poodle Tony) were committed to and, in fact, required to get a second resolution from the UN Security Council if war was the next step.

Clare Short was a Labour MP serving in Blair's Cabinet in the lead up to the Iraq War. Richard Norton-Taylor reports Short told an international tribunal yesterday that Tony Blair deliberately distorted the French government's attitude towards a second resolution. Short states (this is correct) that Blair maintained that the French would veto any attempt at a second resolution. (This is correct? The second resolution was established in the Iraq Inquiry. We pointed this out when the Inquiry completed their public testimony. We also noted that based on the public testimony and documents, Blair was not the passive one led by the genius Bush but, in fact, the one steering Bush through technical waters.) From Norton-Taylor's article:

The Foreign Office is trying to overturn a decision by Christopher Graham, the information commissioner, to disclose records of a conversation between Tony Blair and George Bush about the UN and the French position, days before the invasion of Iraq in March 2003.
Disclosing that the evidence was "fantastically important for the people of Britain and the historical record", Short told the tribunal.
The tribunal heard that Blair claimed that in a television interview on 10 March 2003, the French president, Jacques Chirac, said France would veto any new UN resolution backing war. This enabled Blair to argue before his cabinet, parliament and the British public that the UK could go to war with no further UN backing because of French opposition.
The tribunal heard on Thursday that what Chirac actually said was that France would reject a new pro-war resolution at that particular moment since the UN weapons inspectors had not been given enough time to carry out their mission in Iraq.

In the June 29, 2010 snapshot, we addressed the resolution at length as a result of the British Ambassador to France (2001 - 2007) John Holmes' testimony to the Iraq Inquiry. A second resolution was not desired by the US or the UK. It would hem them in. Holmes testified as to the French government's position and to being baffled that Jeremy Greenstock was told by Blair that he could not ask the French government what their position on UN resolutions were. This was during the exchange with Committee Member Roderic Lyne. From that exchange, we'll note this:

Committee Member Roderic Lyne: If the second resolution had contained a longer deadline for Iraqi compliance, do you think that France would have considered supporting it?

Ambassador John Holmes: I think it is possible because that's what essentially they were suggesting. They were suggesting -- they didn't like the six tests or whatever they were called, but they said "If you give -- if you put in a period" -- I think 120 days was the period they wanted -- "for the inspectors to operate, so they can do their job properly without being put against impossible deadlines, then that's something we could contemplate", but of course, they were still wanting to say that-that a second resolution of that kind would also not have any automatic trigger in it. You would still need to come back at the end of that, the Security Council would need to come back at the end of that, and take a view on what the inspectors were saying to them. So you know, at that stage, you were into third resolution territory. So that is a reason why we weren't particularly attracted, perhaps, to that route, but in any case in those timescales it was simply not available.

Both Blair and Jack Straw misled the British people and, later, the Iraq Inquiry. This might be further underscored if the conversation between Bush and Blair was released (that Short was giving testimony on). Joel Shenton (Public Service) explains, "The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is fighting calls to release details of a 2003 phone call between Tony Blair and George Bush which was made just seven days before the Iraq War began."

While Labour continues to be stained by the shame Blair brought to them (and Gordon Brown as well), the member they expelled just had a surprise victory. Eddie Buckle and Robert Hutton (Bloomberg News) report that George Galloway won 56% of the vote and was re-elected despite predictions that he would lose. ITV offers an overview of his career hereAnindya Bhattacharyya (Great Britian's Socialist Worker) explains, "George Galloway has pulled off a spectacular political comeback by winning Thursday's Bradford West parliamentary by-election by a landslide."  Nicholas Watt (Guardian) reports:
Ed Miliband was facing renewed criticism of his leadership of the Labour party after George Galloway swept back into parliament, achieving one of the greatest byelection upsets in recent history.
As Miliband said he would learn the lessons from the defeat in Bradford West, the shadow public health minister, Diane Abbott, said Labour had underestimated the popularity of Galloway and the Iraq war remained "unforgotten and unforgiven".
Now we're dropping back to Wednesday afternoon to note military sexual assault and suicides. The Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Personnel was hearing about various programs the Pentagon was working on to address the needs of their uniformed and civilian personnel. We'll note this exchange between Senator Richard Blumenthal and Acting Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Jo Ann Rooney.
Senator Richard Blumenthal: [. . .] I want to focus on one though that may not be directly related to the budget, I know the budget consumes a lot of time, but you've discussed in your testimony, Secretary Rooney, the issue of sexual assault which I know troubles you and the Secretary greatly, a great concern to you and there's a zero tolerance policy, it's a leadership issue. You say in your testimony that the estimates now are about 19,000 sexual assaults a year which is down from the estimate of 34,000 in 2006. Are you suggesting that the rates are numbers of sexual assaults has been reduced over the last six years.
Secretary Jo Ann Rooney: Sir, the way we get to that number is that we look at the number of reported sexual assaults as a percentage of the overall force and then actually multiply it. The number appears to come down but quite frankly, as you indicated, our concern is that there are any. And 19,000 is 19,000 too many or whatever the exact number is because, again, that was extrapolated from actual reported numbers. So while we believe that the attention being focused, the programs being put in place and, frankly, the leadership taking this on as such a critical area to be able to address because it goes right to the heart of what our military believes in terms of their work and their respect for each other, that that number will come down but we realize we have a lot of work to do.
Senator Richard Blumenthal: But it may not have come down in the last six years. Obviously, you're objective is to make it come down. But I'm just asking whether you have confidence in that number because, quite honestly, I'm not sure that I do.
Secretary Jo Ann Rooney: I believe that number indicates that we have a substantial problem yet. But, again, it's not a specific number. It's extrapolated from those reports we have.
Senator Richard Blumenthal: Of the defendants who reported and in those incidents 3,192 in FY '11, what percentage faced court-martial?
Secretary Jo Ann Rooney: Sir, I'll take that question for the record and get back to you on the specific.
Senator Richard Blumenthal: The information I have is fewer than 21% and I was going to ask you --
Secretary Jo Ann Rooney: That percentage is correct.
Senator Richard Blumenthal: What is the reason that they are not brought to court-martial?
Secretary Jo Ann Rooney: Often, sir, it's many of the same challenges that we see on the civilian side which is, in order to go through the court-martial, obviously we need to be able to get the evidence and make sure that our folks are trained to be able to prosecute those particular cases. Those are specific areas we are working on now -- to make sure people are trained in the specific areas of how to be able to not only get that evidence but be able to present that forward. And that's often the road block.
Senator Richard Blumenthal: So you're upgrading the procedures for collection of evidence. And what about retention of evidence?
Secretary Jo Ann Rooney: Uh, yes, sir. We actually are retaining the evidence at this point -- if it's an unrestricted report, for fifty years.
Senator Richard Blumenthal: And are you making efforts to speed the process? In one instance that has been reported to me -- and I can get you the name and perhaps you can give me more details -- there was a three year gap -- and, by the way, I'm very familiar with the defense in the civilian area since I was -- [Attorney General of the state of Connecticut from 1990 through 2010]
Secretary Jo Ann Rooney: I know you are, sir.
Senator Richard Blumenthal: -- involved in it so this is by no means to say you should use it as a model necessarily. But I know the military sets its own standards for what excellence is and you have your own goals. But that three year gap, as you know, makes evidence, even if it's collected -- that is the eye witness testimony that, if provided, may prove more difficult to get [three years after when memories are less fresh] and I just wonder what steps are being taken to make sure that these cases are brought to court-martial -- brought, in effect, to trial -- more quickly?
Secretary Jo Ann Rooney: Actually, we're working directly with the services on this and the Joint Chiefs [of Staff] have been actively involved in looking at how do we not only streamline the actual court process but also streamline from the point of reporting to -- we have such things in place now, as you know, as expedited transfers -- so all through the process making sure that we are able to protect due process, if you will, for the accused. But move that through the system from the first report through. So that's something that we're actually engaged right now with the services to do.
Senator Richard Blumenthal: Do you have numbers as to the median or average length of time it's taken and what percentage involves eventual findings of guilt, culpability? And also what the eventual penalities are in those cases?
Secretary Jo Ann Rooney: Sir, we do have those numbers but if I could take that for the record and give them to you as opposed to trying to get them from memory. But we do have them. I have seen them, sir.
Senator Richard Blumenthal: I would appreciate that.
Secretary Jo Ann Rooney: We will.
Senator Richard Blumenthal: And do you also -- Can you also provide percentages as to what numbers -- in what rate you give defendants the option of a discharge or a resignation in lieu of court-martial?
Secretary Jo Ann Rooney: I can get the information as to what the eventual resolution was. As to whether that was a negotiated plea or something in that regard, that will be a little harder. But I can certainly tell you Article 15 and various section penalties.
Senator Richard Blumenthal: And finally on this subject, can you tell me when [Defense] Secretary [Leon] Panetta is going to be releasing the recommendations? He's going to be having both administrative and legislative. Do you know?
Secretary Jo Ann Rooney: Actually, we've been working on the possible legislative proposals as recently as today. So I'm expecting those to be coming up soon and then, within the next three to six months, we'll also have some additional ways forward on specific recommendations coming out from the services as well as follow-up on the ones we mentioned -- the expedited transfer and the document retention.
Senator Richard Blumenthal: Thank you. On the issue, and you raise it in your testimony, concerning suicides, can you talk a little bit about what steps are being taken to address this issue?
Secretary Jo Ann Rooney: Absolutely. And you're right that the numbers right now -- despite many of our efforts -- have not shown a significant decrease. But what we have done in fact is -- taken the task force that had their report forward, one of their recommendations was to create a specific suicide office which we have done in the last few months. And the purpose of that office is not to create yet another layer but it's to look across all the services and actually be the conduit for what are our best practices, where are we missing some opportunities, getting rid of some of the redundancies. So that has, at this point, a temporary staff. But in the fiscal '13 budget, we have the full appropriations we're requesting on that to have that staff stand up. In addition to that, we're working directly with the services in each of their component areas to see what practices they have in place. The next thing, and I think you've seen it also from the medical side, we're embedding behavioral health not only within the units but also making it available to the families through a number of our family programs. And, again, we're continuing to monitor what has been the outreach and where have we seen some successes or not, as it were. So those are the steps at this point with many more coming forward. And, also, collecting data has been a big challenge that we've had. Contemporaneous data. So we're working closely with the VA, in particular, at this point to share information not only from the DoD side but also what the VA is getting. We're doing a lot of joint work with them. So we're getting data that is between thirty and sixty days old as opposed to a year or two -- which is what we had been getting because that's the way states are gathering it -- and sharing that information and trying to trend directly with the VA. So those are some of the ideas.

Etan gets the last word:
Groups Urge U.S. Not to Sell Attack Helicopters to Indonesia

Contact: John M. Miller, +1-718-596-7668; mobile: +1-917-690-

Ed McWilliams, +1-575-648-2078,

March 30, 2012 - Ninety organizations today urged the U.S. government and Congress not to provide deadly attack helicopters to Indonesia. Indonesia
has announced that it plans to buy eight AH-64 Apache attack helicopters
from the United States.

The groups warned that the helicopters will escalate conflicts in Indonesia, especially in the rebellious region of West Papua: "Providing these
helicopters would pose a direct threat to Papuan civilians."

The Indonesian military (TNI) regularly conducts "sweep operations,"
involving attacks on villages where innocent villagers are forced from their homes. The groups write that "Papuan civilians either flee the attacks to neighboring villages or into the surrounding forests where many die or face starvation, cut off from access to their gardens, shelter, and medical care."
Sweep operations are now underway in the Central Highlands region of West Papua.

The letter was organized by the U.S.-based East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN) and the West Papua Advocacy Team and signed by human
 rights, religious, indigenous rights, disarmament and other organizations
based in 14 countries.

Signers include: Faith-based Network on West Papua, Fellowship of Reconciliation, Peace Action, International Lawyers for West Papua, Land
 Is Life, KontrS (Indonesia), and Pax Christi Australia. A complete list of
 signers can be found here:

The AH-64 is designed for air to ground attack. It can operate day or night
and is armed with high caliber chain guns and equipped to fire missiles.

ETAN was formed in 1991. It celebrated its 20th anniversary this December
10, advocates for democracy, justice and human rights for Timor-Leste and Indonesia. See ETAN's web site:

Text of letter.

As organizations concerned about human rights in Indonesia
and West Papua, we are writing to urge the U.S. government
and Congress not to allow the sale of AH-64 Apache attack helicopters to the Indonesian military (TNI). Providing these helicopters would pose a direct threat to Papuan civilians,
who have been the target of deadly TNI assaults for many

The sale of this weapons system to the TNI -- notwithstanding its long record
of disregard for civilian casualties, corruption, human rights violations and impunity in East Timor, Aceh and elsewhere -- would only increase the
suffering of the Papuan population.

Indonesia's Deputy Minister of Defense Sjafrie Sjamsoeddin
told the Antara news agency, that Indonesia intends to buy eight AH-64
Apache helicopter from the United States.

heavily-armed AH-64 is a highly lethal weapon which can be used to
escalate conflict within Indonesia and in West Papua. These aircraft will substantially augment the TNI's capacity to prosecute its "sweep operations"
in West Papua and thereby, almost certainly lead to increased suffering
among the civilian populations long victimized by such operations.

TNI "sweep operations," including several now underway in the Central
Highlands region of West Papua, involve attacks on villages. Homes are destroyed, along with churches and public buildings. These assaults,
purportedly to eliminate the poorly armed Papuan armed resistance, force innocent villagers from their homes. Papuan civilians either flee the attacks
 to neighboring villages or into the surrounding forests where many die or
 face starvation, cut off from access to their gardens, shelter, and medical

AH-64 is designed for air to ground attack. It can operate day or night
and is armed with high caliber chain guns . It is also equipped to fire

Congress must be notified of major weapons sales. We urge Congress to
 oppose the sale of these helicopters.


Read about ETAN's 20 years of work for for human rights,
 justice and democracy: ETAN needs you support in 2012.

Follow ETAN on Facebook:

John M. Miller, National Coordinator
East Timor & Indonesia Action Network (ETAN)
PO Box 21873, Brooklyn, NY 11202-1873 USA
Phone: +1-718-596-7668 Mobile phone: +1-917-690-4391
Email: Skype: john.m.miller



Grading Nouri and the summit

The Arab League Summit took place in Baghdad yesterday. Al Mada reports 15 ministers attended. There are 22 countries in the Arab League. Patrick Martin (Globe & Mail) observes, "That 12 of the 22 Arab League leaders did not show up and sent lower-level envoys instead did not go unnoticed [. . .]" Hamza Hendawi and Lara Jakes (AP) put the number of Arab League leaders who attended at 10 and they pointed out that Qatar, Saudi Arabi, Morocco and Jordan were among those who sent lower-level officials to the summit. Patrick Martin explains that Sheik Hamad Bin Jassem Bin Jabr Al Thani (Prime Minister of Qatar) declared on television that Qatar's "low level of representation" was meant to send "a 'message' to Iraq's majority Shiites to stop what he called the marginalization of its minority Sunnis." Al Mada noted yesterday morning that the Iraqi public and Parliament would be judging the summit a success or not based upon whether the leaders turned out for the summit. On that scale, it wasn't a success. In other words, attendence needs improvement and absences hinder progress.

In addition to snubs and rebukes, Liz Sly, Aziz Alwan and Asaad Majeed (Washington Post) also note, "The blast at the Iranian Embassy undermined the government’s boasts that it had managed to pull off the summit without incident, although it would have gone unheard in the conference room deep inside the vast palace. Zebari and Elaraby both seemed surprised when asked about it by a journalist." Not a success.

Sam Dagher (Wall St. Journal) points out
, "It spent almost $1 billion on preparations that included unprecedented security measures -- jamming cellphone networks and mobilizing 100,000 security-force members -- and rolling out a catered menu for dignitaries that featured a dessert of 24-carat-gold-laced dates." Not a success.

Al Sabaah quotes Nouri hailing the Summit as a historic moment to address the developments of the region. But, as noted yesterday, Nouri refused to do that. He played the fear card instead
Yes, it appears that once again, Nouri may have some explaining to do. It was Dr. Nabil El Araby, Secretary-General of the Arab League, who spoke to the region's higher purpose and what developments and trends meant for the Arab world.

If Nouri and the summit were Pass/Fail, they'd be graded a fail.

Here's Nouri

That's Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Here's Nouri" and it would appear he once again has some explaining to do.

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