Saturday, February 25, 2012

Iraqis turn out to protest

Al Mada reports Iraqis turned out in Baghdad's Tahrir Square today demanding reform on the anniversary of the wave of youth protests that began last year on February 25th. (If your new to last year's protests, click here for a CNN iReport with links to various videos.) Banners carried had slogans on them such as "OIL FOR THE PEOPLE, NOT THE THIEVES" and "MALIKI'S GOVERNMENT HAS FAILED." Siham al-Zubaidi explained her view and that of her peers who were protesting: Nouri al-Maliki has had a year since Iraqi youths began making their demands and he has changed nothing, he has met none of the demands on safety, electricity or job creation.

An unidentified male protester states that crowd is smaller now because a number of people have sold their peers and conscience out for government money. He also noted that Nouri's security forces were present not to protect the peaceful demonstrators but to protect the Green Zone. Al Mada notes that Najaf also saw Iraqis protesting today. Dar Addustour adds that the demonstrators called for Nouri's government to resign and that banners denounced the decision of the Parliament to spend at least $50 million on the purchase of 350 armored vehicles for members of Parliament. Dar Addustour offers some idiotic statements by an idiot named Mohammed Chihod whom they wrongly identify with the National Alliance.

Yes, Chihod is with the National Alliance. But he's State of Law. And when he blathers on with lies to defend Nouri, it's the State of Law that needs to be disclosed to readers. So Liar Mohammed says that the protesters are wrong in their call for a resignation, that there can be no resignations because these leaders were elected by the people. Calling for Nouri and his cabinet to resign is perfectly acceptable and not one of them was elected to a Cabinet post or prime minister by the people. The people voted for members of Parliament. (And their will was ignored.) And even though they voted for MPs, they still have the right to call for their resignation. The one who's "wrong" isn't the Iraqi people, it's liars like Mohammed Chihod who apparently are also illiterate since he can't read and comprehend his country's Constitution. He's such a sweetheart for Nouri, you'd almost think the two men were engaged and planning a wedding.

Aswat al-Iraq notes, "Laith M. Redha, member of a youth group told Aswat al-Iraq that another group of demonstrators will hold their activities in Culture Street of Mutanabi. He added that the demonstrators will commemorate this occasion and demand the reforms which were promised by the government a year ago, eradicating corruption, availability of services and electricity."

Meanwhile Al Rafidayn reports Iraq's former Vice President Adel Abdul-Mahdi visited on Saturday with the Grand Ayatollah Moahmmed Said al-Hakim in Najaf and the two discussed security issues effecting the country and public services. In December, he was visting with internal refugees. He's continued doing diplomatic visits. You'd think a (US) news outlet would begin to notice his twelve or so weeks of diplomatic issues and how this politician who stepped down to protest the inability of Nouri's government to address corruption and provide basic services might be campaigning for a job higher than vice president. But for that to happen, you'd have to have correspondents who paid attention, not ones who wait for stringers to provide them with 'local color' while they spend all their own time in a villa watching Battlestar Galatica DVDs.

That's Iraq War veteran Adam Kokesh speaking
at the February 20th Veterans for Ron Paul action. I'm including a partial transcript below (full transcript in the community newsletter El Espiritu in inboxes tomorrow morning). US House Rep Ron Paul is running for president, he is the anti-war candidate with some comparing his run to that of Eugene McCarthy (though I'm not remembering McCarthy's anti-war stance resulting in his being tarred an "isolationist"). Adam is among many who have endorsed Ron Paul and Ron Paul has received more donations from active duty US troops than any other politician running for the GOP presidential nomination and he's also received more money from active duty troops than has Barack Obama.

Adam Kokesh: Dear President Obama, I am writing to you as just one veteran, just one man. But today you may see that I am joined by many more. We gather before you in support of Ron Paul and not because we think he would merely be a better administrator of government than you, but because we believe your policies to be fundamentally immoral. We are here demanding peacefully, orderly change at the ballot box. We are gathered here today as active duty service members and veterans exercising the right to self-expression that we have all risked our lives to protect -- something you've never done in uniform. The military you command has made attempts to silence us -- not just in the existing codes and regulations intended to suppress dissent in the ranks but also in direct orders that your officers have issued to the troops who would be with us today, who would speak out against the status quo, who would challenge the man, who would speak a desperately needed truth to a desperately delusional power. Do not think for one second that you can silence this voice. Do not dare whisper the command to silence this voice. Do not deny that Ron Paul is the choice of the troops. You are not wanted as, you are not respected as and you are not fit to be the commander in chief of this great [force? -- applause and cheers are too loud for me to make out his next words].

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Moqtada calls Nouri is a dictator (and a glory hog)

Pakistan's The News notes that Moqtada al-Sadr issued a statement last night which declared of Nouri al-Maliki, "The dictator of the government is trying to make all the accomplishments as though they were his accomplishments, and if he cannot he will try to hinder these accomplishments and erase them." The paper notes that his bloc is a member of the National Alliance, as is Nouri's, and that this may "indicate a new round of political conflict" for Iraq.

Iraq has been in Political Stalemate II for over a year now. Political Stalemate I is the eight months following the election when Nouri refuses to allow any forward movement because, although his State of Law came in second in the elections, he demands that he remain prime minister. With the White House backing, he knows he can bring things to a standstill and never be called out. He wasn't either. Think of all that time and how there was no effort by the US government to ever pin the blame where it belonged. That's because they were aiding aiding and abetting Nouri in his theft of the prime minister post.

Political Stalemate I ends in November 2010 with the US-brokered Erbil Agreement which allows Nouri to remain prime minister and grants various deals to the political blocs. Nouri seizes his post, immediately refuses even the most basic promises (the Erbil Agreement included that Iraqiya members who'd been targeted prior to the elections would have their names cleared -- couldn't do it, Nouri said). The US press whores for Nouri always with few exceptions. Nouri becomes prime minister at the end of December despite failure to meet the Constitutionally mandated task of naming a Cabinet (not a partial one, a Cabinet means all posts are filled). The US press rushed to insist that the three security ministries would have ministers shortly, probably in six weeks.

That was a year and two months ago. That is the start of Political Stalemate II. Nouri, as critics charged in real time, wanted to keep the security portfolios for himself. That way he controlled them. Nominating someone and seeing them approved by Parliament meant that person was in control (and Nouri could only fire the person with the approval of Parliament).

Over the summer, the Kurds became especially vocal about the Erbil Agreement and how it needed to be followed. Iraqiya soon joined the call. Ammar al-Hakim, leader of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq which is part of the National Alliance, also joined the call for the Erbil Agreement to be honored. Nouri refused. His apologists in this country (US) began saying the Erbil Agreement was illegal and unconstitutional. It's not unconstitutional. There's nothing that bars the Erbil Agreement within the Constitution. It might be extraconstitutional -- but it shouldn't be my job to educate the Nir Rosen 'Gulf Analysis' Circle Jerk on both the law and grammer. At some point, little boiz, you need to stop expecting to be spoonfed. But here's one last bite you can savor, if you're going to argue in any way that the Erbil Agreement is illegal, then you better grasp that means you're arguing Nouri is not really/legitimately prime minister right now because it's the US-brokered Erbil Agreement that allows Nouri his second term as prime minister. Now burp yourselves and try to wipe your own asses because I'm done with you boiz.

December 16th Iraqiya announced they were walking out on Parliament and Cabinet hearings. The US press didn't give a damn. Didn't even report it. Because they're all whoring for Nouri most likely. Now some try to sneak it into their reports but back then no one bothered. Just like for days Nouri had tanks circling the homes of Iraqiya members and the press knew but waited until December 17th (online, 18th in print) to report on it. And even then, that was just one outlet. Only the Washington Post has ever reported on that.

The New York Times is so far down on Nouri's cock they can tell you how longs it's been since he washed his pubes. Bill Keller says the paper's not trusted because of Iraq. Yeah, but not just because of the lead up, because of all the lies since and the current group is no better than go-go boys John F. Burns and Dexter Filkins when it comes to reporting the truth. That's why February 16, 2011, the Times was bragging about Nouri's restraint and wonderfulness while Liz Sly (Washington Post) and Kelly McEvers (NPR) would be reporting on Nouri's attacks on the protesters, on 16 killed, on journalists kidnapped by Nouri's forces and tortured.

Those are actions that are documented and took place but never made it into the New York Times. And they wonder -- the TV boiz and essay writers -- why no one takes them seriously? Tanks are circling elected politicians homes -- on Nouri's orders -- and for the staff of the New York Times, that wasn't news. This took place right after US troops largely left the country. But it wasn't news for the New York Times. Writers more used to covering puppies and TV didn't see a ruler ordering tanks to patrol the homes of his political rivals as news.

The New York Times could have come back from selling the illegal war. Other papers did and other papers have historically (Iraq was not the first time the press sold a war for an administration). What hurt the paper is that it never got the story right. Even now, it can't get the story right. I'm walking through some of their biggest mistakes right now because they've refused to get the story right.

I don't like writing about the New York Times. Know why? It's not because friends with the paper who know I'm C.I. will call and complain. I could care less about that.

I don't like doing greatest hits. And when Jim told me that the stats for most read entries include 8 pieces specifically about the New York Times, my attitude was, "I'm really done with that paper." I'm not going to be Connie Francis, in a light blue formal with a paper corsage pinned to it and climb the stage and perform "Where The Boys Are" night after night. I can't imagine anything sadder and more lifeless than that.

So if something called 'The New York Times wants to play tabloid today' resulted in a half-million views, I'm not interested in redoing what I've already done.

Which means I'd rather write about anything else. And could, Bill Keller, if your paper would get your correspondents to start telling the truth and tell your editors to let the truth in the paper. If you did that, I wouldn't have to review your paper's many crimes. In other words, if you did your damn job, you might have already moved past the selling of the Iraq War scandal.

But you don't. You don't do your job. But how you love to whine in e-mails, how you love to bully and bitch. How you to love to pretend that it's everyone's fault but your own. If NPR could report on it, so could you. If the Washington Post could report on it, so could you.

At the end of the day, none of your excuses add up. But you sure did spend a lot of time coming up with them. Anything to avoid doing the real job, eh?

The political crisis continues in Iraq -- despite the New York Times attempt this month to declare it over. One aspect of it is Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi who stands accused of terrorism by Nouri and Nouri's puppets on the bench in Baghdad. Another aspect is Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq whom Nouri wants stripped of his post for calling Nouri a dictator. (Nouri has a pattern of suing people who call him a dictator -- the Guardian newspaper, for example -- and wanted to sue an MP last fall; however, he couldn't because the MP has immunity. As does Saleh al-Mutlaq. Stripping him of his post might strip him of immunity -- might -- and if that happens, Nouri could sue al-Mutlaq.)

In an attempt to solve the ongoing political crisis, President Jalal Talabani and Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi have been calling for a national conference since December 21st. All that's taken place so far is prep meetings. Today Aswat al-Iraq reports that MP Ahmed al-Massari, who serves on the prep committee, is declaring that al-Mutlaq's case will be decided by the "the three presidencies" (that's Talabani, Nouri and Osama al-Nujaifi). There's no unified opinion on al-Hashemi's case, the MP states. but he notes "that the two working papers of Iraqiya and National Allaince blocs were unified, containing most of Arbil agreement items." Al Mada is reporting that the issue of al-Mutlaq will be resolved by Parliament.

Wally and Cedric's just went up.

And the other community posts from Thursday night, Friday and today:

Lastly, David Bacon's latest book is Illegal People -- How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants (Beacon Press) which won the CLR James Award. We'll close with this from Bacon's "IMMIGRANT STEEL WORKERS MARCH AGAINST UNJUST FIRINGS" (Truthout):

BERKELEY, CA (2/18/12) -- Two hundred immigrant workers, their wives, husbands, children, and hundreds of supporters marched through downtown Berkeley February 17, protesting their firing from Pacific Steel Castings. The company is one of the city's biggest employers, and the largest steel foundry west of the Mississippi River. Starting at City Hall, they walked for an hour past stores and homes, as bystanders often applauded. Teachers and students at a Montessori school along the route even came out to the sidewalk to urge them on.
At a rally before the march started, fired worker Jesus Prado told the assembled crowd, "I worked for Pacific Steel for seven years. We've organized this March for Dignity because we want to stop the way they're stepping on us, and treating us like criminals. We came here to work, not to break any laws."
"Many of us are buying homes, or have lived in our homes for years," added another fired worker, Ana Castaño. "We have children in the schools. We pay taxes and contribute to our community. What is happening to us is not just, and hurts our families. All we did was work. That shouldn't be treated like it's a crime."
Berkeley City Councilmember Jesse Arreguin agreed. "We're here today to send a message to the Obama administration that the I-9 raids have to stop," he told the crowd.

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Rick Santorum writes about Iraqi Christians

I am not endorsing anyone for president in 2012. I may not even be voting. I am a Democrat but I didn't vote for Barack in 2008 (and won't in 2012 -- he now has a body count greater than Bush). I also didn't vote for John McCain. I do not plan to vote in the 2012 presidential race currently. Should that change, I would note I was voting in it but note that I wasn't endorsing. I think people are smart enough to know who speaks to them and who doesn't and the last thing they need is someone screeching, "Vote for ____!" Get a life already. Talk about issues that matter and stop being such a little whore for politicians. I have to say all of that because someone's going to say, "You're endorsing Rick Santorum." I am not endorsing Rick Santorum and would not vote for him (and I'm sure he would be thrilled by that because I'm too left to be on his team -- way too left). But his campaign has issued a statement (which was e-mailed to the public account) and which is on Iraq (and other things).

It's a serious attempt at discussing Iraq and religious minorities. You may or may not agree with him. Read it and figure out where you stand. Below is a photo of him with his family.


For those who don't know him, Rick Santorum's a former US Senator and is running for the GOP's presidential nomination. I believe those still running are Santorum, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul and Mitt Romney. (The only one of the four I've encountered is Newt and I don't care for him on a personal level, setting politics completely aside. If his campaign had a serious statement on Iraq, we'd be happy to note it here.) You can find out more about Rick Santorum's campaign by visiting the campaign's website. Feel free to agree or disagree with what he writes but please grasp that on my side (the left) Iraq is the forgotten issue. And this is how we allow the right to control the conversation on an issue -- by dropping it like a hot potato.

Here's the thing he wrote that his campaign is sending out:

President Obama has an amazing ability to make Jimmy Carter's foreign policies look good.

Opposition to imperfect allies and support of radical Islamists has resulted in the almost-extinction of religious freedom for religious minorities -- from the Copts in Egypt to the defenseless women and children who were slaughtered in Homs, Syria -- in the Middle East.

Another example is the devolving situation in Iraq. President Obama was so committed to fulfilling an arbitrary campaign promise to get our troops out of Iraq that he ignored the advice of his senior military officials about the consequences of establishing a firm withdrawal date and about how long it might take before Iraq was ready to manage the situation on their own. As a result, Al-Qa'ida is resurgent, Iran's influence is greater than ever, religious tensions between Sunni and Shi'a are increasing, the existential threat facing Iraq's indigenous minority communities has never been greater, and our ability to affect the situation there is weaker now. Recent coordinated car bomb attacks are just the latest in a string of such events since the start of the new year, and they portend many more violent assaults to come.

The departure of our military forces has once again left a security vacuum that is bound to be filled by someone, and all those with the means to vie for that space will do so, whether Sunni insurgents, terrorists like Al Qa'ida, security forces controlled by the ruling Shi'a political establishment, and in parts of the country even Kurdish Peshmerga. These machinations undermine institutionalizing the rule of law, protecting minority rights, or developing the economy and infrastructure, let alone advancing American interests in that country and the region.

The most vulnerable people in this situation also happen to be the ones most aligned with our values and interests. These are Iraq's besieged Christians -- the Chaldeans, Assyrians, Syriacs and Armenian Orthodox communities. The role their faith has played in developing their worldview is far more in keeping with America's values than any other constituency in the country or the region. Moreover, because these communities have an ethic that places a premium on education, entrepreneurship, and peaceful co-existence and respect for others, they have constituted a disproportionately large part of the upper-middle class, they have historically contributed far more to the country's economy than their numbers would suggest, and they have been the most trusted elements of Iraqi society. They also have a much greater respect for the value of the rule of law, they were the ones who came along side our military, diplomats, and contractors to provide translation services and cultural advice.

With the departure of our forces and the recent announcement of the Obama Administration that we will also be reducing our embassy staff by 50 percent because it is now too dangerous for our diplomats there we are effectively abandoning both Iraq and our investment there as well as the communities who risked the most to help us in that effort. What is more, walking away like this also sends messages to other players in the region. It signals to potential allies in the future that we are not dependable. It signals to terrorists that if they just lay low, they can wait us out. It signals to the world that we no longer have the resolve to see a situation through to the end -- that we can't finish what we started.

We need all the help we can get in that part of the world, and Iraq's Christians are the ones most inclined to provide that help, but not if doing so is only going to increase the prospect of their genocidal annihilation.

Accordingly, we need a comprehensive policy aimed at preserving these communities in Iraq. We need to focus on helping Iraqis create the conditions that incentivize staying in Iraq and making there a better future for themselves. The last thing we want is for them to abandon the land their ancestors have occupied for nearly 7,000 years,forsake the culture they have preserved in that volatile region for all these millennia, and deprive the country, the region, and the world of the positive contributions they could still make if only some space was created for them in Iraqi society. These people -- who are all but canaries in a coal mine -- represent hope for a better future for a pluralistic Iraqi society.

First, they need security. By "security," though, I mean more than just safety from terrorist and insurgent attacks. I mean they need the means to protect themselves and their own communities so they do not have to depend on political actors whose interests are not necessarily aligned with the needs of their own communities. They should not be subjected to political shakedowns and corrupt political machinations.

Second, they need political empowerment. They have the right to some degree of self-determination and to have a say in how their local communities should be governed. It is wrong for them to be treated as a political football, constantly crushed between manipulative forces that surround them.

Third, they need economic development in the region where they now find themselves. Having been forced off their ancestral lands in the last century, they reestablished themselves in the cities such as Baghdad and Basra. In the aftermath of the second Gulf War, though, they have had to seek refuge back in the North again. Yet this region was not developed very well under Saddam's regime, and today's Iraqi Christians are disproportionately of the urban professional class rather than farmers.

It is time that we stand with those who stood with us over the last 8 years. We must not abandon them. I will stand with those who stand for freedom of religion and conscience and against violent jihadism and persecution of religious minorities in Iraq, Egypt, and elsewhere.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Iraq snapshot

Friday, February 24, 2012.  Chaos and violence continue, the press loves to play, can you be both something and also linked to that something (no), Iraqi youths turn out to protest and make new demands, the 2012 budget is finally passed in Iraq, Veterans For Peace calls on the White House to drop the charges against Bradley Manning, and more.
Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) reports the US Embassy in Iraq has issued a statement on yesterday's attacks throughout the country which includes, "These heinous acts targeted people going to work and shopping, children going to school and security forces working to protect the citizenry."  Yes, that would be wrong.  Which is why, of course, that the US government evacuated every Iraqi out of the country in February 2003 in anticipation of the invasion.  It's why the US ensured that no one was in Falluja before they started their November 2004 assault.  What's that?  Oh, right.  The US government didn't do either of those things.  It launched a war and didn't give a damn about children going to school or people going to work or people shopping or anything.  It launched an illegal war of choice and now it thinks there's some high ground that can be stood on?  There is none.
Last December, Iraq War veteran Ross Caputi (Guardian) wrote about the November 2004 attack on Falluja:
I do not see any contradiction in feeling sympathy for the dead American Marines and soldiers and at the same time feeling sympathy for the Fallujans who fell to their guns.  The contradiction lies in believing that we were liberators, when in fact we opprssed the freedoms and wishes of Fallujahs.  The contradiction lies in believing that we were heroes, when the definition of "hero" bares no relation to our actions in Fallujah.
What we did to Fallujah cannot be undone, and I see no point in attacking the people in my former unit.  What I want to attack are the lies and false beliefs.  I want to destroy the prejudcies that prevented us from putting ourselves in the other's shoes and asking ourselves what we would ahve done if a foreign army invaded our country and laid siege to our city.
I understand the psychology that causes the aggressors to blame their victims.  I understand the justifications and defense mechanisms.  I understand the emotional urge to want to hate the people who killed someone dear to you.  But to describe the psychology that preserves such false beliefs is not to ignore the objective moral truth that no attacker can ever justly blame their victims for defending themselves.
Ross Caputi is the founding director of the Justice for Fallujah Project. And the birth defects that continue to be found in the children born in the area after the 2004 assault is not something Iraqis have forgotten or will.  Alsumaria TV's most watched report this month was this report on the birth defects in Falluja.  Last week, Matthis Chiroux spoke at the Occupy Military Recruiters actions in Manhattan (link is video at World Can't Wait).  
Matthis Chiroux: Hey everybody, I'm Matthis. I haven't spoken out in awhile. I've been going to college and learning about the corruption in the market places and the courthouse and right here in these military recruiting centers. And on these US military bases all over the world. These abuses are not part of the story these recruiters are trying to sell your kids. They're trying to sell your kids the Boy Scouts. They're trying to sell your kids the Girl Scouts. They're trying to sell your kids the Peace Corps. The mission they are selling is to engage and destroy so called enemies of the United States of America. Killing bombing writing through streets with guns doesn't help people, is not the Boy Scouts, is not the Girl Scouts, is not fostering democracy. It's fostering a lot of debt. It's fostering a lot of hatred. It's fostering a lot of abuse. And the military, it bears the face of that abuse You see it in vets who come home and can't ever feel normal again. You've seen soldiers who are still in the military can't picture a life without war.
Matthis is an Afghanistan War veteran and Iraq War resister.  He and Ross Caputi made some very important observations that appeared to escape our 'wise' press.  Fortunately, on the second hour of today's The Diane Rehm Show (NPR), Diane and guests Abderrahim Foukara (Al Jazeera) and Moises Naim (El Pais) were able to discuss yesterday's violent attack across Iraq in an adult manner.
Abderrahim Foukara: Obviously, these bombings in Iraq have happened in a very interesting context because Maliki has been touting himself as the leader of the Iraqi Spring.  He's been saying, 'My government' which is a Shi'ite dominated government 'has brought stability to Iraq.'  The Iraqis are actually gearing up for hosting the Arab Summit in Baghdad as another sign that the government in Iraq thinks that Iraq is stable.  The Saudis, to placate the Iraqis and reward them for joining the boycott of the sanctions against Syria, have said that they will actually -- that they have actually appointed an ambassador for the first time to Iraq since 1990.  So I think this spate of bombings is really the answer to all this talk coming out  of Baghdad that the situation is under control.
Diane Rehm: Could this be sectarian warfare?
Abderrhaim Foukara:  There is definitely sectarian warfare.  Nouri's government is Shi'ite dominated government and it's seen by many Sunnis -- not just in Iraq but also in the neighborhood of Iraq --  it's seen as a proxy of Iran.
Moises Naim: It is sectarian and has sectarian elements but let's remember it is also about power.  These are the use of sectarian sentiments and manipulation of religious feelings and ethnic divides  this is a very, very basic fight for power and how to share power between different groups that are jockeying to dominate politics and government in Iraq.
So what do you know, there are political aspects and social aspects and things that go so far beyound the simplistic narrative of "al Qaeda branch" and "al Qaeda llinked" and "al Qaeda adjacent with a stunning turn of the century cottage out back."   Reality, the attacks were carried out by Iraqis.  It sure makes things simpler if you just pin it all on "al Qaeda" and deny the reality that there are serious splits in Iraq to this day and deny that there is strong opposition to the Nouri al-Maliki government on the part of some Iraqis.  If you ignore that, of course, then you'll never, ever have to way in on how authoritarian his goverment has gotten.  Which is what most of the US press does over and over.  They avoid the issues, they avoid exploration because crowing "al Qaeda! al Qaeda!" means you can have 'fun' conversations where you pretend what if you were an FBI agent tracking a terrorist or 'terrorist' and how you'd conduct yourself.  By all means, sit on the couch and explore your own personal fantasies -- but with Oprah off daytime, maybe you should take those sessions to a licensed therapist and instead use media time to discuss realities in Iraq?
Lara Jakes apparently needs therapy desperately.  She opens her AP report with, "A spokesman for al-Qaida in Iraq" -- not linked, not branch, not franchise, not chain food establishment, it is, Lara Jakes tells us, "al-Qaida in Iraq." Strangely, in her very next paragraph she insists that Abu Muhammed al-Adnani, the spokesperson she's referring to, is the "spokesman for the al-Qaida-linked Islamic State of Iraq."  Which is it?  Is it al Qaeda or is al Qaeda linked?  Can we at least whatever today's lie is straight?  Is that too much to ask?
Reading Jakes' report is distressing on every level including on the news consumer level. 
Patient exhibits the signs of dissociative identity disorder as evidenced by her appearing to speak in one voice and then quickly shifting to another voice.  The first voice maintains a man is the spokesperson for al Qaeda in Iraq.  The second voice, or personality, chimes in that he is a spokesperson for "the al-Qaieda-linked."  Neither personality appears aware of what the other stated.  At this stage in the treatment it's too soon to determine if either is the host personality.  Possible etiological roots of the reporter's disease may stem from her long-term assignment to conflicts and war zones which may have created higher levels of stress than the host personality could handle, causing a disruption which manifested itself in at least one additional personality.
You're either "linked to" or you "are" them.  You can't be both. So let's try to figure out what today's lie is before rushing copy off to the wires, okay?
Lara Jakes does, fortunately, tell us that the translated remarks she's parading came from Rita Katz's SITE Intelligence Group. Ugly Rita's done a great deal of damage over the years.  Robert F. Worth gushes about Rita and what a big help she was to him when he was covering Iraq, "Rita really knows what she's talking about -- who's responsible for attacks, what's a legitimate terrorist organization and what's not."  Does she?  Because I'm not remembering any great arrests resulting from Rita's 'information.' 
But in this community, we remember 'reporter' Robert F. Worth and his accomplice Carolyn Marshall.  We remember them in relation to their coverage -- excuse me, their pre-coverage -- of an Article 32 hearing  into the March 12, 2006 gang rape and murder of 14-year-old Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi, the murder of her parents  Qassim Hamza Raheem and Fakhriya Taha Muhasen and the murder of her five-year-old sister  Hadeel Qassim Hamza. These crimes were War Crimes and the criminals were US soldiers.  We may have last noted Robert and Carolyn's 'amazing' 'reporting' in the April 6, 2009 snapshot:
Friday, June 20, 2006, Steven D. Green was arrested in the US (Asheville, North Carolina) having already been discharged in May. He was charged with murder and with rape. Green appeared in a Kentucky federal court November 8, 2006 and entered a plea of not guilty. Green was out of the US military, Paul Cortez, Jesse Spielman, Bryan Howard and James P. Barker were still in. An Article 32 hearing was scheduled for August (2006) and, strangely, Robert F. Worth and Carolyn Marshall (New York Times), ahead of the Article 32 hearing, presented the defense's argument. That was strange not only because the defense hadn't presented their argument yet but also because the defense argument was a strange one. After the defense had made the argument,
Andy Mosher (Washington Post) would quote the go-to-military law expert for the press, Eugene Fidell stating, "This is not a defense known to the law. But this kind of evidence could come in during the court-martial, and it might be pertinent to the sentence. They could be setting the stage to avoid a death penalty." Wow. So will Robert F. Worth and Carolyn Marshall ever be asked to explain how they offered the defense -- excuse me, how they made the defense argument in an alleged article of reporting? They didn't quote the defense. They didn't have to. They didn't present this as an argument, they presented it as what happened.
Talk about great reporting, Robert and Carolyn knew the defense's strategy before the defense revealed it.  Or, possibly, lazy writers like Robert need someone to present them with a framework to put their easy conclusions into.  So it's Rita Katz or it's whispers (uncredited in the article) from the defense.  Once upon a time, if you presented the defense's case (before they did) in an article, if you made their case or tried to in what supposed to be a report, your editor would ask you who your source was.  And if your source was the defense, if you were turning over your space in the paper to allow the defense to fight their case and you weren't even noting that you'd gotten this from the defense, you'd be out of a job.  Rita Katz is the 'answer' for reporters who don't like questions and don't like doing real work.  Just run with what Rita tells you and try to ignore the long, long history of grudge f**king she's done to that region and that she'll never get over Daddy being executed for being an Israeli spy. 
And that suspect motive (I say her entire motive for breathing), but that suspect motive, that used to be enough to get you considered questionable as a source.  And that's before you go on 60 Minutes pretending to be someone other than who you are.
It says a great deal about the lack of standards on the part of AP, the Washington Post, the New York Times and others using Rita's 'reports' and 'information.'  It also says a great deal about their Islamophobia. And let's be very clear that we have objected to this for years publicly and we're not the only ones.  When history reviews this time period and recoils in disgust at the witch hunts which took place, when those news outlets try to pretend that it was 'normal' and complaints were never raised about Rita Katz and her demented "Terrorist! Everywhere!" (she's sort of like Eleanor Abernathy, the crazy cat lady on The Simpsons), let it be known that those outlets are liars and that they were urged repeatedly to stop using the work of a woman who was well and widely known for her prejudice against Muslims.  They were urged to but they chose to continue to use it and they made sure that they participated in this modern day McCarthyism. They'll try to turn Rita Katz into the great villain when they're the people who give her the megaphone.
Standards don't matter when the press is feeling frisky and wants to play. Charles Duelfer recalls (at the Washington Post) how a press corps entertaining itself (my description, not his) ended up having real world consequences on Iraq.  He concludes his piece with: "It is worth recalling this today as we discuss equally signficant decisions regarding Iran and, in many ways, are equally ignorant about Iranian leadership -- and vice versa."  Also worried about how the press could influence a war on Iran, Reza Marashi and Trita Parsi (Huffington Post) stress the need for the media to explore:
According to the Congressional Research Service, total war-related funding for Iraq has exceeded $800 billion -- an average of approximately $100 billion per year. With these numbers in mind -- and at a time of over 8 percent unemployment and unprecedented government bailouts -- how will we pay for a war with Iran?
Looking back at America's recent wars, the American people trusted that their elected leaders accurately assessed the pros and cons of their policies. It didn't take long before protracted quagmires collapsed that trust. With the notable exception of neoconservatives, most Americans eventually realized the sad truth: their leaders didn't have a plan beyond bombing; they knew little if anything about the country in question; and they failed to conduct a realistic cost assessment -- in both blood and treasure -- of the endeavor. By the time Americans realized all of this, the damage had already been done.
Avoiding another war of choice will require a media that digs beyond agenda-driven analysis and prevents the debate from being curtailed. It will require a media that doesn't permit a question of life and death to be framed in a simplistic manner that leaves the U.S. with a false choice of either bombing Iran or accepting an Iranian bomb. It is the responsibility of reporters -- not congressmen, senators, neoconservatives or foreign governments -- to not only get answers to their questions, but also to define the questions properly.
On Iraq, the mainstream media did not ask the right questions until disaster was a reality. On Iran, those questions need to be asked now so that disaster can be avoided.
Friday, February 25, 2011, protesters turned out throughout Iraq and they would continue to protest each subsequent Friday. In Baghdad, they gathered in Tahrir Square. Many were beaten, many were killed (at least 16 were killed). A number of journalists covering the demonstrations were later rounded up and tortured. That included Hadi al-Mahdi who was assassinated September 8th in his Baghdad home.

Today, the first anniversary is being observed. Kitabat notes that the protesters were demanding change and reform and that, back then, Moqtada al-Sadr was describing Nouri as a dictator. (Notice Nouri never went after Moqtada the way he has Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq.) A protester states that there demands were not met and that they will continue protesting until they are. AFP reports that police officers and the military made their presence known in Baghdad's Tahrir Square today with weapons ("wooden clubs, pistols and assault rifles . . . police vehicles mounted with machine guns"). They quote chant leader Muayid al-Tayyeb stating that "when the government faced these demands with repression, our request became new elections."  Anissa Haddadi (International Business Times) notes, "Youth and pro-reform movements took to the streets in Baghdad to call for greater political reform and new elections."  Aswat al-Iraq notes the protesters plan to "continue their protests on Saturday (Feb. 25) in memory of the first demonstration against corruption" and that on February 27th of last year, "Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki gave his cabinet 100 days to improve the delivery of services to Iraq's people or face 'changes,' but no one was ultimately fired." Nor were the services improved.  Al Mada reports today saw crowds and verbal exchanges and scuffles and that the protest was no different than the ones which came before.  But one thing, the paper reports, did change and that was the number attending which was far greater than the number who took part last Friday.  The protesters noted the expected national conference (to resovle the political crisis) and stated if the conference should fail, Iraq would have no choice but to call new elections. They also called for a public debate between one of their own and Nouri to address issues such as Nouri's authoritarian rule.  Dar Addustour also reports on the call for a public debate.
In other news, Iraq's finally approved their 2012 federal budget. The Great Iraqi Revolution posted a photo of a school to underscore how the money doesn't make it to the peopleAseel Kami (Reuters) notes the budget is $100 billion US dollars. Aswat al-Iraq adds that $17 billion of that is for "defense." KUNA explains the 2012 budget is "22 percent higher" than last year's budget. Kitabat breaks money issues down in real world terms , yesterday the Parliament voted to spend approximately $50 million (US) on 350 armored vehicles for their own members while Iraq citizens have no such protection, while Iraqi citizens receive no protection. But don't worry, the ruling elite will continue to live high on the hog and safely.  At McClatchy's Inside Iraq, an Iraqi correspondent weighs in on the planned purchase:
I am speechless. I have no real words can describe my feelings now. Those people who claimed they would work for Iraqis think about no one but themselves. While the bodies of the people who voted for them scattered to pieces, they think about nothing but gaining more and more before the coming parliamentary election.
I felt so ashamed when I read the news about approving this law especially when i read sentence (the Iraqi parliament) because those group of people who carry the Iraqi citizenship prove with no doubt they are Iraqis only because they carry official Iraqi documents not because they are real Iraqis who care about Iraq and Iraqis.
Al Mada notes that the Sadr bloc (Moqtada al-Sadr's representatives) did put forward a motion (which passed) that 25% of oil export revenues to spending on the Iraqi people (Al Rafidayn states it's 20%); however, though it passed, the measure would still need the approval of Nouri's Cabinet.
Veterans for Peace has issued a press release on Bradley Manning, they are calling for all charges to be dropped:
In May 2010, the Army arrested PFC Manning, then 22, in Iraq, where he was working as a low level intelligence analyst.  He is accused of leaking classified information, including an Army video that shows US soldiers in Baghdad shooting down unarmed civilians, including two Reuters employees, from an Apache helicopter.  The video, dubbed "Collateral Murder," has been viewed millions of times on YouTube.
Prosecutors have also accused Manning of giving Wikileaks thousands of Army diaries from its occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan.  The Army's own reports reveal that the killing of civilians was a regular occurence and that the Army regularly lied about it.  The diaries also show that the Armyw as lying to the American people about the progress of the wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
"It is not a crime to reveal evidence of war crimes, but it is a crime to cover up evidence of war crimes, as the Army has apparently done," said Leah Bolger, a former Navy Commander who was recently elected the first woman president of Veterans For Peace. "The American people deserve to know the truth about the wars being waged in our name," continued Bolger.  "Our soldiers should not be asked to die for a lie, and those who tell us the truth should not be the ones being punished."
Bradley Manning has been confined for 21 months, including 8 months in solitary confinement at the Marine brig at Quantico, Virginia, where reports of his abuse bordering on torture caused an international outcry.  Manning is now at another military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and the Quantico brig has been closed down. The US government has declined repeated requests by United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture, Juan Mendez, to interview PFC Manning privately about his treatment.
Private Manning's lawyer, David Coombs, has complained on his blog that most of his requested defense witnesses were denied by the Army judge, while all of the prosecution witnesses were allowed.
"This is a kangaroo court martial," said Gerry Condon of Veterans For Peace. "It is now obvious that the US Army will not give PFC Manning a fair trial.  That is why Veterans For Peace is calling on Army Chief of Staff General Ray Odierno, Defense Secretary Leon Panneta, and Commander-in-Chief Barack Obama to drop all the charges against Bradley Manning."
At its national convention in 2010,  Veterans For Peace awarded Bradley Manning for his courage.  "If he actually did what he is accused of doing, then he is a hero," said Mike Ferner, Interim Director of Veterans For Peace.
US political prisoner and attorney, grandmother and breast cancer survivor Lynne Stewart remains behind bars for the 'crime' of issuing a press release. Her sentecing is the subject of a hearing on February 29th.  Before that:
Come and Support Lynne's appeal!
VIGIL -- February 28, 2012 sundown until @ Tom Paine Park, NYC
February 29, 2012 -- Lynne's Appeal @ 500 Pearl Street, NYC 9am
Lynne says:
"A Large Outpouring of Support in Folely Square and Tom Paine Park and in the Courtroom will signal to these abriters of 'Justice' that attention must be paid, the 99% are watching them with suspicion and tallying up the roads not taken."
Lynne's a very strong woman.  I don't think many people could survive what she has -- the attacks from the Bush administration (the witchhunt against her, the desire to punish her for 'crimes' the Clinton Justice Department had already ruled weren't crimes -- the press release) and then the Barack administration which increased her sentence.  But she can because she's strong. The thing is, with all she's given to so many people over the years, she really shouldn't have to be strong.  After her dedication to helping the poor and the ones who would have no attorney and no legal voice, she really should be able to be home rallying NYC to support OWS and other things.  Ralph Poynter, her husband, is no weakling either.  But it is very hard on him to see his life partner and best friend locked away on these ridiculous 'crimes'.  Stephen Lendman (URUKNET) writes about what's at stake and, most importantly, he writes about the meaning of an attorney like Lynne and why they would be targeted to begin with.  Excerpt:

For 30 years, Stewart worked tirelessly defending America's poor, underprivileged, and unwanted. They're never afforded due process and judicial fairness without an advocate like her.

Where others wouldn't go, she did courageously, defending controversial figures like Weather Underground's David Gilbert, United Freedom Front's Richard Williams, Black Liberation Army members Sekou Odinga and Nasser Ahmed, and many more like them. She knew the risks, but took them fearlessly and courageously until wrongfully indicted for doing her job.

Her case sent a chilling message to other lawyers that it's dangerous defending unpopular clients ruthless prosecutors want to convict.

Throughout her career, she scrupulously observed the American Bar Association's Model Rules. They obligate lawyers to:

"devote professional time and resources and use civic influence to ensure equal access to our system of justice for all those who because of economic or social barriers cannot afford or secure adequate legal counsel."

She did that and much more. She's a model attorney and human being. Now she's wrongfully imprisoned for 10 years. On February 29, her skilled legal team will argue persuasively for justice. For Lynne, it's long overdue.

Her original sentence was unjust. Increasing it fourfold constituted cruel and unusual punishment. The Eighth Amendment prohibits it.

A single prison day ignores her lifetime commitment to community, the rule of law, society's poor, underprivileged and unwanted, and the profession she chose to represent them honorably and courageously.

Many worldwide support Lynne. This writer's proud to call her a friend. On February 29, join others in Manhattan's federal court on her behalf.

Lynne says her case is "bigger than just (her) personally." She'll always struggle for justice and urges others to as well in her signature comment, saying:

"Organize - Agitate, Agitate, Agitate."

"Love Struggle"


Protest in Baghdad, money to protect the rulers

Friday, February 25, 2011, protesters turned out throughout Iraq and they would continue to protest each subsequent Friday. In Baghdad, they gathered in Tahrir Square. Many were beaten, many were killed (at least 16 were killed). A number of journalists covering the demonstrations were later rounded up and tortured. That included Hadi al-Mahdi who was assassinated September 8th in his Baghdad home.

Today, the first anniversary is being observed. Kitabat notes that the protesters were demanding change and reform and that, back then, Moqtada al-Sadr was describing Nouri as a dictator. (Notice Nouri never went after Moqtada the way he has Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq.) A protester states that there demands were not met and that they will continue protesting until they are. AFP reports that police officers and the military made their presence known in Baghdad's Tahrir Square today with weapons ("wooden clubs, pistols and assault rifles . . . police vehicles mounted with machine guns"). They quote chant leader Muayid al-Tayyeb stating that "when the government faced these demands with repression, our request became new elections."

Iraq's finally approved their 2012 federal budget. Nouri's usual sycophants online are already cooing and mewing. But this photo is being used to illustrate a point at the Great Iraqi Revolution.

great iraqi revolution 2

Where do the billions go because it's not going to the Iraqi people?

Aseel Kami (Reuters) notes the budget is $100 billion US dollars. Aswat al-Iraq adds that $17 billion of that is for "defense." KUNA explains the 2012 budget is "22 percent higher" than last year's budget. (Online sycophants did not refer to those just listed or to reporters. It referred to the Nir Rosen Online Brigade. They know who they are.)

It's left to Kitabat to put money issues in real world terms
, yesterday the Parliament voted to spend approximately $50 million (US) on 350 armored vehicles for their own members while Iraq citizens have no such protection, while Iraqi citizens receive no protection. But don't worry, the ruling elite will continue to live high on the hog and safely. Al Mada notes that the Sadr bloc (Moqtada al-Sadr's representatives) did put forward a motion (which passed) that 25% of oil export revenues to spending on the Iraqi people (Al Rafidayn states it's 20%); however, though it passed, the measure would still need the approval of Nouri's Cabinet.

Okay house cleaning steps. First, this appeared yesterday morning:

Iraq has yet again been hit with a series of spectacular attacks. Instead of addressing the attacks, the reporters hide behind garbage like "a hallmark of Al Qaeda in Iraq" (AP) and "Sunni insurgents affiliated to al Qaeda" (Reuters). One bombing attack after another. [Credit to to participate in this game. And, please note, the Ministry of Interior has proclaimed it was al Qaeda in Iraq on their website though AFP's the only outlet noting that in their coverage -- the only outlet mentioning al Qaeda in Mesopotamia that bothers to note they're repeating a charge of a ministry.] And [. . .]

Who? Who was I saying needed credit? BBC News.

What happened?

I put a link in and all the words linked vanished.

That's happened repeatedly this morning.

I use Flock. I love Flock. Flock is no more as a Browser. (It was discontinued a year ago.) And a number of us just switched laptops Wednesday. So I'll either have to transfer Flock over from the old laptop or get use to another browser. I've used Mozilla Firefox the last two days -- to be clear, I use multiple browsers -- I have Internet Explorer, Rock Melt, Google Chrome and Firefox all open right now and multiple screens in each. But I used Flock for Blogger/Blogspot. I had to stop using Internet Explorer two or so years ago because they're 'upgrade' made it not work with Blogger/Blogspot. I have some http tag with "gif" showing up in some entries. That's from the browser not working as well. And I am an HTML. That's what I'm comfortable blogging in. Can't do it in this browser. I have to flip to add a link because if I add it in HTML, it doesn't go where I highlighted for it to go, it goes a paragraph above.

In addition, this keyboard layout is different so I'm adjusting to that as well. (There are additional keys.)

And that's why (second question) there was no "I Hate The War" last night?

No. The plan was to post something and to explain that that was it for "I Hate The War" until spring got here. I hate winter. I can almost stand it when I'm home where's it warm and, even today, would be in the sixties. I have always hated winter. And I'm not in the mood these days to do the columns for the newsletters on Thursday night and then do something here. I'll be fine when spring gets here.

What happened to the plan? Elaine and I got ripped off. We wanted a piece at Third last Sunday and there wasn't time. So we decided we'd write it together. And we did. And Elaine showed it to a few friends for feedback, which is fine, except one (who is also a friend of mine) decided to rip one of our key phrases and use it in a speech this week (speech by a Democratic politician). When I saw that, I was furious. And confronted him on his using that for the speech he wrote for _____. That meant I had no interest in redoing that one phrase. I told Elaine she could run it at her site tonight but we'll probably just trash it. (And please note, I know if I'm seated next to a columnist at dinner, anything said can end up in their copy. They're magpies. Fine. I know that. I know the same with screenwriters and songwriters. And I'm fine with it. When my back went out a few years back and I was in screaming pain and a few months later I turn on the TV and a friend has written that into a sitcom, I don't object. I just laugh at the funny parts and know that everything is copy. But when ___ steals a phrase to use for ___ who is a politician I do not care for, I do get ticked off and I seriously am still. If it were another politician, I'd probably laugh at it. I'm not laughing at this.) [That phrase, which is the only thing that worked in the speech that was delivered, was the structure around which we built our piece -- on Chris Hedges, OWS, the so-called violence debate and more. And I honestly don't want e-mails saying, "Oh, you're using ____'s phrase from the speech he just gave." I do not like that politician. I would not copy or emulate that politician.]

So I was in a sour mood due to the winter, in an angry mood due to the stolen phrase and not really wanting to navigate the new browser or the keyboard. The different browser and keyboard is also why the entries are going up a little later than usual. Give me about a week and hopefully I'll have a better browser to use and be adjusted to the keyboard (the down and up arrows are what are really screwing me over -- I hit them and it turns I'm on a different key and I've summoned the help genie).

I did get laptops for those who are kind enough to take the dictation and type it into the Iraq snapshots. Which is the last house cleaning question: Was the snapshot shorter than usual?

It was 135K. That had to do, however, with something other than the text. When I was told we'd hit 135K, we pulled one section and sent it immediately to see if it would stick (anything over 90K is a problem). Later when I saw it, I realized this was a different issue. (It's why, in the dictate e-mail account -- I usually do transcripts of hearings or of radio programs myself and save the draft and then when it's time for the snapshot that's pulled up and used by whomever I'm dictating it too -- it has remained Yahoo classic and not gone to Beta. Which may be too much information but if we switched to Beta it would have changed the K amount when we were used to using 90K as the cut off point for snapshots.) So it has something to do with that switch. But the point wasn't too have a shorter snapshot yesterday, we honestly thought it was a long one due to the 135K. Why was only it showing up? I have no idea on that. (After it hit the site -- it's e-mailed to the site -- no other entries were showing. Normally there are five entries on the main page.)

ADDED right after this went up. Before someone wonders why the latest photos (one here, one in the previous entry) are not up in the latest Flickr account, I don't know the password. With Flock I didn't have to. I never had to enter it. I closed and when I reopened (even if it was after a shut down), everything came up. I'm using an earlier one for those and I called Sunny to get Elaine's password. (Sunny's Elaine's assistant. Elaine's very sweet assistant.) Because I knew there was still space in that one.

The e-mail address for this site is

Chasing 'al Qaeda'

AP wants you to know this morning that "al Qaeda" has claimed credit for yesterday's attacks across Iraq. Well, "a branch," the Islamic State of Iraq. A "branch"? That's interesting. The Islamic State of Iraq has never claimed to be a branch of al Qaeda. Yes, the press loves to claim it is, in fact Jane Arraf was doing just that last night on The NewsHour (PBS -- link has text, video and audio). Sorry to break it to the press but the US government is not the center of the damn universe. And what the US government -- which is supposedly no longer occupying Iraq -- thinks about an Iraqi group is not supposed to be the final say. Nor are press distortions supposed to pass for reality. A 'head' of the Islamic State of Iraq at one point was the 9 Lives Abu Omar al-Baghdadi whom, you may remember, was announced dead repeatedly by both the US government and the Iraqi government.

It has been 'linked' to al Qaeda in Mesopotamia. It's not a "branch" despite the claims. AP forgets to inform us if their revelation builds on the claims of the Interior Ministry or upon SITE. I'm not sure which I would find more dubious -- Rita Katz sets a very low bar, doesn't she?

It's amazing that a woman who went on 60 Minutes and publicly lied about who she was to advance her own desires -- and got caught -- can be seen as credible by so many parts of the press today, isn't it? (It goes to the fact that the US press no longer functions. When it semi-did, garbage like that would have resulted in Rita Katz never being utilized again. But, back then, there were semi-standards.)

Here's Jane Arraf from last night's NewsHour trying to make a connection between al Qaeda and the Islamic State of Iraq -- note there's no "al Qaeda in Mesopotamia" or "al Qaeda in Iraq" utilized. Just fear, fear, fear!!!! Market that fear, sell it.

JEFFREY BROWN: Jane, when they say al-Qaida, what exactly does that mean? To what extent, for example, are there foreign elements involved?

JANE ARRAF: That is a really key question. Al-Qaida tends to be quite freely and in fact it's become a franchise. So what we're talking about here in Iraq are increasingly decentralized and small cells that are either linked to al-Qaida central, although, in a very diffuse way, or to what has become the main umbrella group, the Islamic State of Iraq, and increasingly links with other groups. Now, one of the things that the U.S. and Iraq say they did was really take down a lot of that network. It disrupted their communications, their lines of command. And we're not seeing a lot of those big attacks that we have in the past.

I'm sorry I can't pretend to be four-years-old and shaking under the sheets, trying not to breathe so the monsters don't hear me, telling myself I'll leap from the bed in 10 seconds and run out the bedroom door, down the hall . . .

Not playing that game because I'm an adult. And I'm not interested in this crap. The attack came from Iraqis. Iraqis that have largely been ignored throughout the war. As Molly Bingham pointed out early on, when Dexter Filkins (New York Times) got a frowning face from a US military officer over a planned interview with Iraqi insurgents, Dexy immediately axed the interview. That's how it went. And now when the US government has supposedly ended the occupation, they still get to dictate the terms?

What a compliant little press. Just keep putting the food in front of them, they've very happy in their veal pens.

So Jane yammers away -- with The NewsHour's full blessing -- about "al Qaeda" forever and a day and what do we learn about Iraq in that time? Not one damn thing. But maybe that's a good thing since Jane also attempted to talk about prevention and she's apparently developed her own system. Slap a copyright on it, Jane.

If there was a problem yesterday, Jane wants people to know it wasn't the police. You really can't stop attacks. You investigate and prevent them, she declared.


Hmm. That kind of goes against every recommendation the US government -- in various forms -- has made. Even the basic PSAs. It's interesting. I know PBS is looking to develop new programs along the lines of History Detectives, but Jane Arraf: Terrorist Hunter? I really don't see it. Maybe next time, Jane Arraf and PBS can tell us about Iraqis and leave the 'catching of terrorists' to others?

It's also cute to watch the press 'psychics' scramble. I wasn't interested in the garbage of ALL GOOD TERRORIST GO TO SYRIA (animated with celebrity voices!) earlier this week. I read that crap, including at McClatchy, and thought how very sad some people lives are. But what I didn't grasp was that was the set up for what they would offer later in the week. Laugh as Reid Smith and others rush to explain that they were right earlier this week but they're still right now and blah blah blah. Laugh especially as Reid tugs Thomas E. Ricks who tugs the Hudson Institute who tugs -- It's the never ending Circle Jerk . . . masquerading as journalism.

Here's some reality the press'll hide from you to keep you ignorant and afraid? No one -- not them, not me -- knows who was responsible for the attacks. "al Qaeda" -- notice they've dropped "in Iraq" or "of Mesopotamia" now even on "serious" and "commercial free" PBS -- is the period at the end of the final sentence in a paragraph. It transitions nothing. It is the dead end to fear, the dead end to questioning, the dead end to thinking.

That's what al Qaeda has become.

And at some point, smart people would realize that Iraqis who don't like the system imposed upon them? They really have more of a say than any foreign government -- including the US government.

And at some point, mature people grasp that you stop screaming terrorist at people whose lives you've destroyed and who you've prevented having any other way to voice their objections -- you've prevented that by refusing to honor the results of elections which, Jane Arraf, were nearly two years ago -- two, not one.

No child wakes up and says, "Firefighter, dancer or terrorist? I think I want to be a terrorist!" Terrorism is bred by conditions that aren't mysterious or unknown . . . unless you're a US reporter going on television to talk about everything but why people are unhappy with the 'gift' the US provided.

great iraqi revolution

That photo appears at the Great Iraqi Revolution and the writing on the flag the US service member is holding reads, "THERE IS NO FLAG LARGE ENOUGH TO COVER THE SHAME OF KILLING INNOCENT PEOPLE." You might want to bury your head in the sand or you might want to try being an adult and figuring out why that photo has meaning with a number of Iraqis?

Not that it will stop the whining phone calls after this posts, but let me add Jane Arraf is probably the finest foreign reporter in Iraq. And, yes, before it's pointed out to me over the phone, the Christian Science Monitor (one of her employers) is very vested in painting the Islamic State of Iraq as "al Qaeda." I know those things. I will also allow that Jane didn't set the agenda on The NewsHour. But use that link and grasp how little of value was offered -- she didn't even note Iraqiya's call for the current government to provide security or resign -- in that segment. Notice how much of it was wasted on "al Qaeda."

The photo above appearing at an Iraqi website tells you a great deal more about the mood in Iraq then all the wasted speculation on PBS last night regarding "al Qaeda."

NPR wastes a great deal of time. This morning, you got some coverage of Ron Paul that was actually worth hearing. Renee Montagne (Morning Edition) spoke with Martinique Chavez (whom she'd spoken with in 2008 about the elections, the first Martinique would be old enough to vote in) and Martinique's brother Zeke.

Zeke is a Ron Paul supporter and explains (among other things), "He's against the wars and when he's been in office he's actually done the things he said he was going to do. [. . .] When we go to war, the older people don't fight the wars, we do. [. . .] There's a saying: 'We're being taxed to blow up bridges in Iraq while ours are falling apart at home'."

The last NPR Ron Paul coverage (it wasn't on Morning Edition) I caught consisted of a host trying to get Paul to say he'd drop out -- over and over and over. Throughout the entire segment. Imagine if NPR (and others) used their time to really explore what candidates stand for instead of reporting on campaigning. Campaigning is supposed to be a means to public office. It's not really the main story. The main story is supposed to be what the candidate is saying, what the candidate is proposing and whether there's reason to trust any of it. But that requires work and today's 'journalists' don't like to work.

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