Saturday, July 05, 2014

Nouri is said to be "playing with fire"

After failing to move forward on forming a government last Tuesday, the Iraqi Parliament plans/hopes to meet this coming week and start the formation of a government.

Up for grabs?  The three presidencies.

This is the Speaker of Parliament, the Prime Minister and the President.

Jalal Talabani has had two terms as president and, even if he was healthy enough, can't seek a third term per the Constitution.  So Iraq should have a new president at some point.  They should also have a new Speaker of Parliament (as we'll discuss in a second).  Which leaves the post of prime minister.

Despot Nouri al-Maliki wants a third term.

Alsumaria reports that State of Law MP Khalid al-Asadi declared today that they are willing to accept anyone as Speaker of Parliament except Osama al-Nujaifi. State of Law's always a little slower on the pick up than any other political coalition in Iraq.  A little slower, a little more dense.   Thursday, Osama announced he would not be seeking a second term as Speaker of Parliament.  He repeated this on Friday.  NINA notes US Ambassador to Iraq Stephen Beecroft and UK Ambassador to Iraq Simon Collis "have praised the brave stance" Osama al-Nujaifi has taken.

While having demands that others don't seek additional terms, State of Law is more than happy to demand that their own leader and chief thug Nouri al-Maliki get a third term as prime minister.  State of Law MP Abdul Salam al-Maliki declared today that it was Nouri or no one else and that that was a read line State of Law was drawing.   Meanwhile the National Alliance is expressing dismay at Nouri's claim that he has the most seats in Parliament because the National Alliance -- which includes Nouri's State of Law -- has the most seats in Parliament.  And Ibrahim al-Jafarri's bloc believes Nouri's "playing with fire" by attempting to forma government outside of the National Alliance.  NINA notes rumors that al-Nujaifi's bloc and Ayad Allawi's are, after a series of meetings, forming an alliance.

Nouri's failed in so many ways in the last 8 years as prime minister.

This includes failing with regards to security.  With cities falling to rebels, violence soaring, it can be argued that Iraq's currently at its most unstable since 2003.  Mu Xuequan (Xinhua) reports:

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the man purported to be the top leader of the self-claimed "Islamic State, " made his first public appearance at a mosque in Iraq's northern city of Mosul, according to a video clip posted on the Internet on Saturday.
The video appearance came a few days after the Islamic State in Iraq and Levant (ISIL), an al-Qaida breakaway group, proclaimed the establishment of a "caliphate" straddling Syria and Iraq, crowned its leader Baghdadi as the "caliph," and changed its name into the "Islamic State(IS)."

Reuters also reports on the video and notes that "the Iraqi government denied the authenticity of the 21-minute video, which carried Friday's date."  Khalid Al-Ansary and Caroline Alexander (Bloomberg News) observe:

There were conflicting reports about the identity of the man in the video. An appearance by Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, an Iraqi with a $10 million U.S. bounty on his head, would signal a brazen challenge to Iraq's government as it intensifies its offensive against the Islamic State, the militant group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL.

As cities began falling to rebels in Iraq, there were a group of foreign nurses trapped in the country.

Alsumaria reports over 40 boarded a plane to India.  Belfast Telegraph adds, "The 46 nurses had been holed up for more than a week in Tikrit, where fighters of the Islamic State group have taken over."  Indian Express notes, "Nearly 600 more Indian nationals will return home from the conflict-hit Iraq over the next two days, the Ministry of External Affairs said on Saturday. It said 200 of them will return by an Iraqi Airways special chartered flight from Najaf to Delhi late Saturday night itself."  They also note "there are about 7,500 Indians in non-conflict zones left" in Iraq.  The Times of India speaks with 25-year-old nurse P Lesima Jerose Monisha who went to work in Iraq in hopes of paying off her student loans:

Though the insurgents assured them they would not be harmed, there was always a fear that a bomb would land on the hospital, she said.
She said the scariest moment was when the militants gave them just two hours to get ready and leave the hospital on July 2. "Indian embassy officials told us over phone to follow the gunmen's instructions for our own safety." Monisha said they were taken in a bus to Mosul where they were detained in a jail-like building. Finally on Friday they were onceagain told to pack up their belongings and board a bus. "Only then we realized we are being released. The insurgents released us on the outskirts of Mosul from where Indian embassy officials took care of us," she said.

Along with failing to provide security, Nouri's also launched repeated attacks on Iraqis.  Nouri continues  bombing residential areas in Falluja (legally defined as a War Crime).  Alsumaria reports Falluja General Hospital received five men and four women who were injured in one of Nouri's bombings. NINA notes a second Falluja bombing left 6 civilians dead and seven more injured.

In other violence, National Iraqi News Agency reports Ramadi attacks left 3 police members dead and four Sahwa injured, an al-Mansuriyya battle left 3 rebels dead, an eastern Baghdad roadside bombing left three people injured, a Sadr City bombing left four people injured, Tigris Operation Command states they killed 38 suspects in Diyala Proinvce, Joint Operations Command states they killed 27 suspects in Anbar Province and injured thirteen more, and a mortar attack late last night on a police station in Jurf al-Sakar left 4 people dead and nineteen injured.  All Iraq News adds 1 Peshmerga officer was shot dead in Baquba and a Baquba mortar attack left 2 people dead and four more injured. Alsumaria notes a second eastern Baghdad roadside bombing and this one left 2 Iraqi soldiers dead, a roadside bombing in Kirkuk province left three people injured,   2 Basra car bombings left 2 people dead and six more injured. and 3 corpses were discovered in Anbar Province -- 1 Ministry of Finance employee and two bodyguards.

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caroline alexander
bloomberg news

I Hate The War

The Kurdistan Regional Government is comprised of northern provinces in Iraq.  The KRG is semi-autonomous.  Since the US invasion of Iraq, the Kurds have often been termed "king makers."  Why?  Because when the US needs them, the Kurds usually go along with whatever the US government wants at that moment.

As we noted Friday:

In other news, the White House is objecting to the Kurds exercising their Constitutional right to explore full automony.
Oh, look, Barack's stabbed the Kurds in the back.
Can someone please tell the White House spokesperson to not take a position on Kurdish issues at a time when the White House desperately needs the help of the Kurds?
Or is the spokesperson expressing Barack's desire to f**k up repeatedly on Iraq?
This is not a White House concern, nor is it anything that's going to happen in the next few weeks.
So maybe the White House could learn to keep their big nose out?  Maybe Barack and company could learn that the world doesn't need an opinion on them about every damn thing?  That sometimes, especially when you're attempting diplomacy, the smartest thing you can do is not express opinions on side issues when you know the opinions will only anger the people whose help you need?

It's beyond stupid but so typical of the US government which honestly believes it has to have and express an opinion on whatever any other country might consider.

All Iraq News reports today:

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Marziyeh Afkham said on Saturday that Iraqis will never accept disintegration of their homeland.

She reiterated in a statement reviewed by All Iraq News Agency "Iran's support for Iraq's solidarity and territorial integrity."

So the US government is on the same page as the Iranian government.

When that tends to happen, Iraqis tend to get screwed over.  (See 2010 when the US and Iran decided to override the Constitution and the Iraqi voters to give Nouri a second term.)

If the Kurds want to pursue an option, who says other governments get a say?

And when the US government desperately needs the help of the Kurds, why are they pissing them off?

The White House is beyond stupid.  Reality, sewing dissension among Kurdistan officials is not complicated or difficult.  If the White House wants to bloc Kurdish independence, it could easily do so that way.

But to take a position on it publicly, to rebuke the notion before the world?  At a time when you need the Kurds?

For those who missed it, Thursday, KRG President Massoud Barzani spoke to the KRG Parliament and declared they needed to create an independent electoral commission for Kurdistan and that they needed to have a referendum on the KRG's future.

There was no need for a White House 'response.'

I would hope Jay Carney would have had the brains to grasp that.  The new White House spokesperson did not have the brains.

Now maybe the KRG will move immediately on what was requested.

But is that highly likely?

The KRG held provincial election September 2013.  It's July 2014 and they've only recently settled on a prime minister and deputies.

Is it really likely that they're going to get it together enough to move in the next few weeks on Barzani's request?

My own personal opinion is that the KRG needs to do what they feel is best.  I support the right of autonomy.

But if the White House doesn't, they need to learn when to be silent.

If they lose the support of the Kurds right now, any diplomatic measures the US government hopes to successfully carry out in Iraq are doomed.

It's stupidity.

Martin Chulov and Spencer Ackerman (Observer) report on Ahmed Chalabi:

He was a presidential patron, then a pariah; an alleged fraud, then an economic saviour. And, perhaps more remarkably, he was groomed by Washington, lured by Iran, and is now being courted by both as a man who could rescue Iraq.
The mercurial career of Ahmad Chalabi has been central to much of the turmoil that Iraq has gone through in the past 20 years. From guerrilla leader in exile in the Kurdish north to the pinup boy of the Pentagon's war plans, Chalabi was more responsible than any other Iraqi for the ousting of Saddam Hussein more than a decade ago.

An e-mail asks what I think about Chalabi?

His failings are well known.  I'm not particularly fond of the fact that Iraqi exiles keep getting named prime minister but I'm not an Iraqi.  It's their country.  Their MPs should be representing them.

I doubt anyone could be worse than Nouri al-Maliki.

The Parliament needs to push through the law limiting a prime minister to two terms only and that needs to be accepted by the next prime minister.

That would be the best curb on tyranny.

Chalabi?  I would guess he's more interested in being part of a world community than becoming a tyrant.  It takes a special kind of pathology to create a despot.  Nouri had it.  The paranoia made it so.

Another curb on tyranny?

The US government not being silent when bad things happen.  Like their silence when Nouri targeted gays and lesbians.  Like their silence when he killed peaceful protesters.

Nouri was installed by the US government and protected at the very least by the same government's repeated silence.  He's a tyrant but he had a lot of help becoming that.

It's over, I'm done writing songs about love
There's a war going on
So I'm holding my gun with a strap and a glove
And I'm writing a song about war
And it goes
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Oh oh oh oh
-- "I Hate The War" (written by Greg Goldberg, on The Ballet's Mattachine!)

The number of US service members the Dept of Defense states died in the Iraq War is [PDF format warning] 4489.

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National Lawyers Guild Submits Comments for Improving Military Justice System to Department of Defense Military Justice Review Group

This is from the National Lawyers Guild:

National Lawyers Guild Submits Comments for Improving Military Justice System to Department of Defense Military Justice Review Group

June 30, 2014
Tasha Moro
Communications Coordinator
212-679-5100, ext. 15

NEW YORK--The National Lawyers Guild (NLG) today submitted comments to the Defense Department’s  Military Justice Review Group as part of its comprehensive review of the military justice system. Recommendations to improve the system include eliminating the “convening authority” as the near-absolute final arbiter of what constitutes justice in a given case. The NLG also calls for eliminating criminal liability for acts that are purely military offenses, and for clarifying the effect of a conviction by summary court-martial.

“We are gratified that this review is taking place, as changes in the court martial system are long overdue.  We do not believe that anything less than a complete restructuring of the way the military handles offenses can be adequate. We have, therefore, focused on large changes, rather than the many small details that could lead to some incremental improvement without altering the basic inequities that lead so many to see military justice as an oxymoron," said David Gespass, NLG past president and one of the authors of the comments. 

The NLG was the country’s first integrated national bar association and remains its largest human rights bar association. Its Military Law Task Force (MLTF) has been defending the rights of military service members for nearly four decades and, prior to that, it had established offices in Japan and the Philippines to provide counsel to service members overseas. The MLTF has relied upon this long experience to formulate its proposals to the Military Justice Review Group. Its comments do not suggest that the court-martial system be fine-tuned; rather, they address what we see as fundamental problems that lead to a general perception of unfairness in the system as a whole, irrespective of how it may operate in any particular case. 

The National Lawyers Guild believes there are two fundamental difficulties with the military criminal system as it now exists, both premised on the false belief that they are needed to maintain discipline. Notably, at the same time as defenders of the system assert the need for such discipline, they proclaim the US military as the best, most professional in history. In particular, if the men and women in uniform today are so overwhelmingly professional, well-educated and patriotic, we can be reasonably certain that they will overwhelmingly be sufficiently disciplined so as not to endanger the strength of the force. 

The NLG believes these recommendations along with clarification regarding summary court-martial convictions would greatly improve the military justice system.  

To view the comments, click here

The National Lawyers Guild was formed in 1937 as the nation’s first racially integrated bar association to advocate for the protection of constitutional, human and civil rights.
# #



U.N. officials condemn Detroit water shutoffs (David Sole)

This is from Workers World:

U.N. officials condemn Detroit water shutoffs

By on July 4, 2014

Detroit’s Freedom Friday fights for water.WW photo: Abayomi Azikiwe
Detroit’s Freedom Friday fights for water.
WW photo: Abayomi Azikiwe

The shutoff of water to thousands of Detroit homes has become national and international news. An appeal to the United Nations by activists about the inhuman, profit-driven shutoffs has resulted in condemnation of these actions by U.N. officials involved in water and sanitation issues.

“Disconnection of water services because of failure to pay due to lack of means constitutes a violation of the human right to water and other international human rights,” said the experts. (U.N. News Centre, June 25)

“Disconnections due to non-payment are only permissible if it can be shown that the resident is able to pay but is not paying. In other words, when there is genuine inability to pay, human rights simply forbids disconnections,” explained Catarina de Albuquerque, the first U.N. Special Rapporteur on the right to safe drinking water and sanitation. She was appointed by the Human Rights Council in 2008.

Mass water cutoffs have been accelerating in Detroit. The Water Department has hired special contractors, under the direction of Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr, as part of restructuring the city in the ongoing bankruptcy proceedings. Up to 3,000 families a week are being denied water for failure to pay their water bills. These bills are often only $125 dollars behind.

Many victims of the shutoffs are already in an agreed-upon payment plan schedule. It is believed that the aim is to make the Water Department more attractive as an investment for privatization. This was confirmed by Bill Nowling, Orr spokesperson, when he stated that “the shutoff policy is a necessary part of Detroit’s restructuring.” (Detroit Free Press, June 27)

Detroit’s City Council added to the crisis by approving an 8 percent increase to water and sewerage rates in mid-June. Protesters have gathered outside the Water Board Building in downtown Detroit every Friday for the past two months. Billed as “Freedom Fridays,” demonstrators have marched throughout the downtown district after picketing the Water Board.

Protesters occupied the Bank of America office on June 13, demanding that the corporations and banks stop their attacks on poor and working people of Detroit.

On June 27, Freedom Friday 8 ended with a rally and speak-out. Those protesting water shutoffs joined with retired city of Detroit workers facing huge pension cuts in the Detroit restructuring and others concerned with the future of the people of Detroit.

Especially galling to many are reports that huge corporate and institutional water bills are delinquent, but services of those institutions are not being shut off. Palmer Park Golf Club and the Veterans Administration hospital are said to owe more than $200,000 each. The Detroit Public Schools system is alleged to be $2.2 million behind. The Detroit Red Wings hockey rink, Eastern Market and Ford Field stadium reportedly owe more than $55,000.

The Water Department reports that more than half of residential customers are behind. Detroit’s high unemployment rate, which is officially 14.5 percent, and high poverty rate make many families choose between paying for food, medicine, housing or water.

This is a human rights crisis.

Articles copyright 1995-2014 Workers World. Verbatim copying and distribution is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved.

Keeping Rosy - it's hard to find a rosy future in this competitive society

This is from Great Britain's Socialist Worker:

Keeping Rosy - it's hard to find a rosy future in this competitive society

Independent thriller Keeping Rosy has no truck with managers that tell us we’re one big family—but can’t quite grasp why we are alienated, says Camille Tsang

Maxine Peake plays Charlotte, whose life falls apart after she loses her career

Maxine Peake plays Charlotte, whose life falls apart after she loses her career (Pic: Redemption Films)

Keeping Rosy is a new, independent thriller staring Maxine Peake as Charlotte, who’s done everything to become the perfect career woman in the competitive world of work.  

The film highlights how precarious and alienating workers’ lives can be, whether you’re a “white collar” office worker or a cleaner.

At any moment, your life could take a turn that is seemingly out of your control.

Charlotte lives alone in Elysium Heights, a new block of flats in central London that’s reserved for the privileged, “virtuous” few.

But when pushed out of the company, she doesn’t just lose her job. With it, goes her career and the life she’s built up for herself.

Charlotte takes it out on the cleaner, which leads to a series of events that she cannot escape.

The film deals with the relationship between workers and their employers.

In reality, this relationship is not based on some “loyalty” to a workplace or “trust” in the boss.

That illusion is shattered when Charlotte loses her job. It becomes clear that it’s just about selling a commodity—your ability to work.


Despite this, Charlotte tries to get her cleaner to relate to her with the very same ideas of “trust” and “loyalty” that she now knows to be false.

The film also highlights how contradictory the stereotypes of women can be, both in the workplace and the home.

When a baby is brought into the office, Charlotte doesn’t really want to see it. Instead, she asks the woman when she was planning on coming back to work.

The new mother isn’t that keen on the idea, which really surprises Charlotte.

This plays to the stereotype of the career women, but later on in Charlotte develops a more ­“maternal” instinct.

This goes against the idea that they’re different types of women. In reality, it all depends on the way material conditions shape us.

However, the film does not explore the contradictions in any real depth.

It’s somewhat nostalgic about the role of the family, presenting it as an unbreakable bond between siblings.

But the saying, “You cannot choose your family” doesn’t acknowledge that the idea of the family comes with its own problems.

The film is a thriller, but in the end leaves you feeling like there should be more to it.

Keeping Rosy deals with important issues, but only touches them on the surface.

Keeping Rosy is dire­cted by Steve Reeves and is out on 27 June

Celebrating Independence from America in England

This is from David Swanson's War Is A Crime website:

Celebrating Independence from America in England

By David Swanson

Remarks at Independence from America event outside Menwith Hill "RFA" (NSA) base in Yorkshire.

First of all, thank you to Lindis Percy and everyone else involved in bringing me here, and letting me bring my son Wesley along.

And thank you to the Campaign for the Accountability of American Bases. I know you share my view that accountability of American bases would lead to elimination of American bases.

And thank you to Lindis for sending me her accounts of refusing to be arrested unless the police disarmed themselves.  In the United States, refusing any sort of direction from a police officer will get you charged with the crime of refusing a lawful order, even when the order is unlawful. In fact, that's often the only charge levied against people ordered to cease protests and demonstrations that in theory are completely legal.  And, of course, telling a U.S. police officer to disarm could quite easily get you locked up for insanity if it didn't get you shot.

Can I just say how wonderful it is to be outside of the United States on the Fourth of July?  There are many wonderful and beautiful things in the United States, including my family and friends, including thousands of truly dedicated peace activists, including people bravely going to prison to protest the murders by drone of others they've never met in distant lands whose loved ones will probably never hear about the sacrifices protesters are making.  (Did you know the commander of a military base in New York State has court orders of protection to keep specific nonviolent peace activists away from his base to ensure his physical safety -- or is it his peace of mind?)  And, of course, millions of Americans who tolerate or celebrate wars or climate destruction are wonderful and even heroic in their families and neighborhoods and towns -- and that's valuable too.

I've been cheering during U.S. World Cup games.  But I cheer for neighborhood, city, and regional teams too.  And I don't talk about the teams as if I'm them.  I don't say "We scored!" as I sit in a chair opening a beer.  And I don't say "We won!" when the U.S. military destroys a nation, kills huge numbers of people, poisons the earth, water, and air, creates new enemies, wastes trillions of dollars, and passes its old weapons to the local police who restrict our rights in the name of wars fought in the name of freedom.  I don't say "We lost!" either. We who resist have a responsibility to resist harder, but not to identify with the killers, and certainly not to imagine that the men, women, children, and infants being murdered by the hundreds of thousands constitute an opposing team wearing a different uniform, a team whose defeat by hellfire missile I should cheer for.

Identifying with my street or my town or my continent doesn't lead the same places that identifying with the military-plus-some-minor-side-services that calls itself my national government leads.  And it's very hard to identify with my street; I have such little control over what my neighbors do.  And I can't manage to identify with my state because I've never even seen most of it.  So, once I start identifying abstractly with people I don't know, I see no sensible argument for stopping anywhere short of identifying with everybody, rather than leaving out 95% and identifying with the United States, or leaving out 90% and identifying with the so-called "International Community" that cooperates with U.S. wars.  Why not just identify with all humans everywhere? On those rare occasions when we learn the personal stories of distant or disparaged people, we're supposed to remark, "Wow, that really humanizes them!" Well, I'd like to know, what were they before those details made them humanized?

In the U.S. there are U.S. flags everywhere all the time now, and there's a military holiday for every day of the year.  But the Fourth of July is the highest holiday of holy nationalism.  More than any other day, you're likely to see children being taught to pledge allegiance to a flag, regurgitating a psalm to obedience like little fascist robots.  You're more likely to hear the U.S. national anthem, the Star Spangled Banner.  Who knows which war the words of that song come from?

That's right, the War of Canadian Liberation, in which the United States tried to liberate Canadians (not for the first or last time) who welcomed them much as the Iraqis would later do, and the British burned Washington.  Also known as the War of 1812, the bicentennial was celebrated in the U.S. two years ago.  During that war, which killed thousands of Americans and Brits, mostly through disease, during one pointless bloody battle among others, plenty of people died, but a flag survived.  And so we celebrate the survival of that flag by singing about the land of the free that imprisons more people than anywhere else on earth and the home of the brave that strip-searches airplane passengers and launches wars if three Muslims shout "boo!"
Did you know the U.S. flag was recalled? You know how a car will be recalled by the manufacturer if the brakes don't work? A satirical paper called the Onion reported that the U.S. flag had been recalled after resulting in 143 million deaths.  Better late than never.

There are many wonderful and rapidly improving elements in U.S. culture.  It has become widely and increasingly unacceptable to be bigoted or prejudiced against people, at least nearby people, because of their race, sex, sexual orientation, and other factors.  It still goes on, of course, but it's frowned upon.  I had a conversation last year with a man sitting in the shadow of a carving of confederate generals on a spot that used to be sacred to the Ku Klux Klan, and I realized that he would never, even if he thought it, say something racist about blacks in the United States to a stranger he'd just met.  And then he told me he'd like to see the entire Middle East wiped out with nuclear bombs. 

We've had comedians' and columnists' careers ended over racist or sexist remarks, but weapons CEOs joke on the radio about wanting big new occupations of certain countries, and nobody blinks.  We have antiwar groups that push for celebration of the military on  Memorial Day and other days like this one.  We have so-called progressive politicians who describe the military as a jobs program, even though it actually produces fewer jobs per dollar than education or energy or infrastructure or never taxing those dollars at all.  We have peace groups that argue against wars on the grounds that the military needs to be kept ready for other, possibly more important wars.  We have peace groups that oppose military waste, when the alternative of military efficiency is not what's needed.  We have libertarians who oppose wars because they cost money, exactly as they oppose schools or parks.  We have humanitarian warriors who argue for wars because of their compassion for the people they want bombed.  We have peace groups that side with the libertarians and urge selfishness, arguing for schools at home instead of bombs for Syrians, without explaining that we could give actual aid to Syrians and ourselves for a fraction of the cost of the bombs. 

We have liberal lawyers who say they can't tell whether blowing children up with drones is legal or not, because President Obama has a secret memo (now only partially secret) in which he legalizes it by making it part of a war, and they haven't seen the memo, and as a matter of principle they, like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, ignore the U.N. Charter, the Kellogg Briand Pact, and the illegality of war.  We have people arguing that bombing Iraq is now a good thing because it finally gets the U.S. and Iran talking to each other.  We have steadfast refusals to mention a half-million to a million-and-a-half Iraqis based on the belief that Americans can only possibly care about 4,000 Americans killed in Iraq.  We have earnest crusades to turn the U.S. military into a force for good, and the inevitable demand of those who begin to turn against war, that the United States must lead the way to peace -- when of course the world would be thrilled if it just brought up the rear.

And yet, we also have tremendous progress.  A hundred years ago Americans were listening to snappy tunes about how hunting Huns was a fun game to play, and professors were teaching that war builds national character.  Now war has to be sold as necessary and humanitarian because nobody believes it's fun or good for you anymore.  Polls in the United States put support for possible new wars below 20 percent and sometimes below 10 percent.  After the House of Commons over here said No to missile strikes on Syria, Congress listened to an enormous public uproar in the U.S. and said No as well.  In February, public pressure led to Congress backing off a new sanctions bill on Iran that became widely understood as a step toward war rather than away from it.  A new war on Iraq is having to be sold and developed slowly in the face of huge public resistance that has even resulted in some prominent advocates of war in 2003 recently recanting. 

This shift in attitude toward wars is largely the result of the wars on Afghanistan and Iraq and the exposure of the lies and horrors involved.  We shouldn't underestimate this trend or imagine that it's unique to the question of Syria or Ukraine.  People are turning against war.  For some it may be all about the money.  For others it may be a question of which political party owns the White House.  The Washington Post has a poll showing that almost nobody in the U.S. can find Ukraine on a map, and those who place it furthest from where it really lies are most likely to want a U.S. war there, including those who place it in the United States.  One doesn't know whether to laugh or cry.  Yet the larger trend is this: from geniuses right down to morons, we are, most of us, turning against war.  The Americans who want Ukraine attacked are fewer than those believing in ghosts, U.F.O.s, or the benefits of climate change.

Now, the question is whether we can shake off the idea that after hundreds of bad wars there just might be a good one around the corner.  To do that we have to recognize that wars and militaries make us less safe, not safer.  We have to understand that Iraqis aren't ungrateful because they're stupid but because the U.S. and allies destroyed their home. 

We can pile even more weight on the argument for ending the institution of war.  These U.S. spy bases are used for targeting missiles but also for spying on governments and companies and activists.  And what justifies the secrecy?  What allows treating everyone as an enemy?  Well, one necessary component is the concept of an enemy.  Without wars nations lose enemies.  Without enemies, nations lose excuses to abuse people.  Britain was the first enemy manufactured by the would-be rulers of the United States on July 4, 1776.  And yet King George's abuses don't measure up to the abuses our governments now engage in, justified by their traditions of war making and enabled by the sort of technologies housed here.
War is our worst destroyer of the natural environment, the worst generator of human rights abuses, a leading cause of death and creator of refugee crises.  It swallows some $2 trillion a year globally, while tens of billions could alleviate incredible suffering, and hundreds of billions could pay for a massive shift to renewable energies that might help protect us from an actual danger. 

What we need now is a movement of education and lobbying and nonviolent resistance that doesn't try to civilize war but to take steps in the direction of abolishing it -- which begins by realizing that we can abolish it.  If we can stop missiles into Syria, there's no magical force that prevents our stopping missiles into every other country.  War is not a primal urge of nations that must burst out a little later if once suppressed.  Nations aren't real like that.  War is a decision made by people, and one that we can make utterly unacceptable.

People in dozens of countries are now working on a campaign for the elimination of all war called World Beyond War.  Please check out or talk to me about getting involved.  Our goal is to bring many more people and organizations into a movement not aimed at a specific war proposal from a specific government, but at the entire institution of war everywhere.  We'll have to work globally to do this.  We'll have to throw our support behind the work being done by groups like the Campaign for Accountability of American Bases and the Movement for the Abolition of War and the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and Veterans For Peace and so many more.

Some friends of ours in Afghanistan, the Afghan Peace Volunteers, have proposed that everyone living under the same blue sky who wants to move the world beyond war wear a sky blue scarf.  You can make your own or find them at  I hope by wearing this to communicate my sense of connection to those back in the United States working for actual freedom and bravery, and my same sense of connection to those in the rest of the world who have had enough of war. Happy Fourth of July!


David Swanson wants you to declare peace at  His new book is War No More: The Case for Abolition. He blogs at and and works for He hosts Talk Nation Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson and FaceBook.  

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This email may be unlawfully collected, held, and read by the NSA which violates our freedoms using the justification of immoral, illegal wars absurdly described as being somehow for freedom.

Privacy Board Report Strongly Suggests Attorney-Client Communications Subject to NSA Spying

The Center for Constitutional Rights issued the following:

CCR Guantanamo Attorneys Respond

July 2, 2014, New York – In response to a new report that addresses warrantless NSA searches made possible by a particular section of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Amendments Act (FISA), the Center for Constitutional Rights issued the statement below. The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) had previously addressed the collection of communications metadata, and here looked at the implications of collection of communications content under Section 702 of FISA.

The Privacy Board’s report is disappointingly superficial with respect to the main constitutional concerns raised here. The board includes no mention whatsoever of free speech, due process, and right to counsel when analyzing the legality of the NSA’s collection of the content of communications between U.S. residents and persons of interest abroad. Deeply troubling, the report found that attorneys’ legally-privileged communications are used and shared by the NSA, CIA and FBI unless they are communications directly with a client who has already been indicted in U.S. courts, which strongly suggests that the contents of privileged attorney-client communications at Guantanamo are subject to NSA warrantless surveillance. This raises serious concerns about the fairness of the military commission system and would seem to violate court orders entered in Guantanamo habeas cases that protect attorney-client privilege.

Attorneys at the Center for Constitutional Rights, in addition to representing men detained at Guantanamo since its earliest days, have been involved in challenging NSA surveillance since the initial revelations of warrantless spying in December 2005 that cast a chilling effect over their work litigating against the government.

The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change.

Friday, July 04, 2014

Thug Nouri still wants a third term, White House tries to pick a fight with the Kurds

CBS and AP report thug Nouri al-Malik is portraying himself as the one who can defeat the 'terrorists' and this implies "he won't step down despite pressure for him to do so."  All Iraq News reports that Nouri has issued a statement today announcing he remains determined to seek a third term as prime minister.  Mark Landler, Michael R. Gordon and Mark Mazzetti (New York Times) observe, "Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki is still insisting on a third term, but Kurdish, Sunni and even some Shiite politicians say a new prime minister must be selected, which also portends more wrangling."

Al Jazeera adds:

Sistani on Friday reiterated his call for the new government to have "broad national acceptance", a formulation many officials have interpreted as a signal Maliki should step aside.
Also on Friday, Osama al-Nujaifi, former Iraqi parliament speaker and a major political foe of Maliki, said he would not nominate himself for another term to make it easier for the Shia political parties to replace the prime minister.

Actually, Osama's decision was announced Thursday -- from yesterday's snapshot:

Tuesday, Iraq's Parliament met for the first time since the April 30th election and they were unable to name a Speaker of Parliament.  NINA reports today that Osama al-Nujaifi (who became Speaker in November 2010) has announced he is withdrawing his name for that post.  Along with the Speaker of Parliament, the President of Iraq and Prime Minister of Iraq are the posts to be decided by Parliament.

All Iraq News notes Osama made his statement on TV Thursday and that he issued a statement today repeating that he was not seeking the post of Speaker of Parliament.

For some harsh realities on thug Nouri  and how he got his second term, refer to Ali Khedery's "Why we stuck with Maliki -- and lost Iraq" (Washington Post). Excerpt.

Within a short span, Maliki’s police state effectively purged most of them from politics, parking American-supplied M1A1 tanks outside the Sunni leaders’ homes before arresting them. Within hours of the withdrawal of U.S. forces in December 2011, Maliki sought the arrest of his longtime rival Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi, eventually sentencing him to death in absentia. The purge of Finance Minister Rafea al-Essawi followed a year later.

Iraq's suffered so much.  Nouri's desire for a third term is not helping anyone but Nouri.

Turning to violence, National Iraqi News Agency reports a Mkeshifah suicide car bombing left 16 Iraqi soldiers dead and twenty-eight more injured, a roadside bombing "near a mosque in al-Ghazaliya district" left 2 people dead and nine more injured, a battle in Mansueiyya left 6 rebels dead, a Ras Dumex roadside bombing left three police members injured, "journalist Fadhil Hadid and his son" were kidnapped from their Wadi Hajar home, Hawija and Abbasi battles left 7 rebels dead and ten more injured, and 2 corpses were discovered dumped west of Mosul.

In other news, the White House is objecting to the Kurds exercising their Constitutional right to explore full automony.

Oh, look, Barack's stabbed the Kurds in the back.



Can someone please tell the White House spokesperson to not take a position on Kurdish issues at a time when the White House desperately needs the help of the Kurds?

Or is the spokesperson expressing Barack's desire to f**k up repeatedly on Iraq?

This is not a White House concern, nor is it anything that's going to happen in the next few weeks.

So maybe the White House could learn to keep their big nose out?  Maybe Barack and company could learn that the world doesn't need an opinion on them about every damn thing?  That sometimes, especially when you're attempting diplomacy, the smartest thing you can do is not express opinions on side issues when you know the opinions will only anger the people whose help you need?

The Kurdistan Regional Government issued the following today:

Erbil, Kurdistan Region of Iraq ( / – Kurdistan Region President Masoud Barzani visited the Iraqi Kurdistan Parliament yesterday, requesting the Parliament to immediately undertake the task of creating an independent electoral commission for the Region, and to begin preparations for holding a referendum for the people of Kurdistan to decide their future.

In his remarks to the Parliament, the President urged Members of Parliament to “promptly create an independent electoral commission and to begin preparations for holding a referendum to determine the future, as this would strengthen our hand. The time has come for us to determine our future; we should no longer wait for others to determine our future. In the meantime, we will do whatever we can to help Shia and Sunnis to save the country from this crisis.”

The President stated that the wrong policies of the Iraqi government and the collapse of the Iraqi Army have caused the current security crisis in the governorates of Anbar, Ninewa, Salahaddin, and Diyala. He said that four days prior to the events in Mosul the KRG offered to cooperate with Baghdad to confront the terrorist groups, but this was rejected by Baghdad.

  Regarding the deployment of Peshmerga forces to the disputed areas, the President said that all of these areas are now under the control of Peshmerga forces. He added, “The Peshmerga forces are there to protect the people of those areas and they will not be pressured into withdrawing. We will protect these areas and we are also ready to help both Shia and Sunnis to save them from this crisis, but this can only be achieved with new people who believe in co-existence, democracy, and the Constitution. This cannot be done with people who have destroyed the country.”

The following community sites -- plus Tavis Smiley, Cindy Sheehan, Jake Tapper, Susan's On the Edge,, Z on TV, McClatchy Newspapers and Pacifica Evening News -- updated:

  • The e-mail address for this site is

    Kurdish gains of more than a decade are under threat from latest Middle East crisis

    This is from Great Britain's Socialist Worker:

    Kurdish gains of more than a decade are under threat from latest Middle East crisis

    For the region’s Kurdish minority, both sides of the current upheaval stand in the way of liberation, writes Ron Margulies

    Kurdistan Workers Party soldiers
    Kurdistan Workers' Party soldiers (Pic: Flickr/James Gordon)

    The Kurdish people have a lot to lose from the crisis in the Middle East. The emergence of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (Isis) is a direct threat to the Kurds, against which all Kurdish forces have mobilised.
    But there is also a recurring threat that the major states will use the chaotic circumstances to deal with the Kurds, as they often have in the past.

    The Kurds live in a well?defined area, where they are the overwhelming majority. But this is divided between four countries—the south-eastern corner of Turkey, and the adjacent parts of Syria, Iraq and Iran.
    The fourth largest ethnic group in the Middle East, after Arabs, Persians and Turks, and numbering 30-40 million, the Kurds have never had a state of their own.

    Their history in each of the countries where they live has been one of oppression, sometimes more brutal, sometimes less, and revolts, always put down bloodily.
    In modern Turkey, for example, their very existence was officially denied. They were claimed to be “mountain Turks”, and their language to be a dialect of Turkish. But Kurdish is an Indo-European language while Turkish is Altaic, with its roots in central Asia.

    There were a number of Kurdish uprisings in the 1920s and 1930s, put down with extreme violence. In the 1980s, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PFF) launched a guerrilla struggle. After 30 years and more than 40,000 dead, it has finally forced the Turkish state to the negotiating table.

    Today, Turkey’s rulers have two main aims in the region.

    One is to talk about an imaginary golden age under the Ottoman Empire, and become the main force in the Middle East. The other is to stop anything that could lead to Turkey’s Kurdish minority breaking away.
    Turkey is a majority Sunni country and its government likes to play the Sunni card. It both sympathises with Sunnis in Syria and Iraq, and would like to use them for its own purposes.

    It is thought likely that the government secretly supported Isis, at least at the beginning. If they did, they bitterly regret it now, as Isis attacked the Turkish consulate in Mosul and is keeping dozens of diplomats and staff hostage.

    In Iraq and Iran, Kurdish history was similarly bloody, with genocidal campaigns against them both by the Shah of Iran and Saddam Hussein.

    However, in Iraq, an uprising against Hussein in 1991 and the First Gulf War saw guerrilla forces drive the Iraqi army out of the Kurdish northern parts of the country.

    A period of self-rule was followed in 2005 by the recognition of Iraqi Kurdistan—or South Kurdistan, as Kurds prefer to call it—as a federal part of Iraq. The region is now effectively an independent state.
    The US-led occupation forces and the government it set up preferred to accept the Kurds’ autonomy rather than risk generalised resistance from across Iraqi society.

    Similarly, the chaos in Syria has also allowed the Kurds there to create an autonomous region as Bashar al Assad’s regime focused on putting down the broader uprising. But these bastions of Kurdish rule are precarious in the shifting political sands of the Middle East. 

    Kurdish successes have alarmed Iran and Turkey, while the Syrian and Iraqi governments are in no state even to be alarmed. No ruler feels in control, and the gains made by the Kurds in the past decade or so are under threat.


    "Genocide on Its Way for Russian Speakers in Ukraine" (Francis A. Boyle)

    Francis A. Boyle is an attorney and a professor  at the University of Illinois College of Law. His books include Foundations of World Order (Duke University Press: 1999) and Tackling America’s Toughest Questions (2009).   His most recent book is United Ireland, Human Rights and International Law. This is from Lilia Dergacheva's "Genocide on Its Way for Russian Speakers in Ukraine" (Voice of Russia):

    A total of 110,000 Ukrainians who have left for Russia in an attempt to save their lives probably just want to visit their relatives and then travel back, State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said at a briefing, thus calling into question the tremendous number of people reported to be now seeking asylum in Russia. The United States generally doubts the UN figures on Ukraine refugees, endorsing Petr Poroshenko's decision to resume the punitive operation in Ukraine's southeast. Meanwhile, the so-called ceasefire is something that never happened, stresses VR's expert Francis Boyle, a professor at the University of Illinois College of Law.
    "There was not much about a ceasefire to talk about, Poroshenko's hostilities continued, there was firing across the border with Russia."
    The declared ceasefire served as an opportunity, a pretext taken up by Poroshenko to step up the sweeping military campaign and "bring up major military forces that we're now seeing unleashed on the Russian speakers in Donbass."
    Mr. Boyle comprehends these outrageous acts as war crimes, openly calling these crimes against humanity "verging on genocide." The order clearly arrived from the US, as despite the preceding four-way talks between the European foreign chiefs and the agreement President Putin clinched with his European counterparts, Poroshenko still chose to persist on with his military campaign.
    'We could see the whole thing quite quickly collapsing into outright genocide against cities and people there.'
    "It's clear that he's been ordered to do this by the United States government just before ending of the so-called ceasefire. President Putin spoke with France's Hollande and Merkel of Germany and thought he'd reached an agreement to deescalate the conflict, but apparently the Americans ordered Poroshenko to go forward with his offensive."

    Poroshenko seems to have been pushed into turning a deaf ear to anything that Russia's Lavrov has previously worked out with his EU colleagues, and it's clearly not the decision that Poroshenko took himself. A most biased approach is all there, the expert concludes, adding the coming days may see "total hell breaking loose" in the region.

    Chairman Miller Statement on Nomination of Robert McDonald for VA Secretary

    US House Rep Jeff Miller is the Chair of the House Veterans Affairs Committee.  His office issued the following statement on Monday:

    Jun 29, 2014

    WASHINGTON, D.C.— After the White House announced plans to nominate Robert McDonald for secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, Chairman Jeff Miller released the following statement:

    “If confirmed by the Senate, Robert McDonald will inherit a Department of Veterans Affairs under a specter of corruption that may very well surpass anything in the history of American government. In order to pave the way for serious and substantive reforms that will help VA to effectively deliver the care and benefits our veterans have earned, he’ll need to root out the culture of dishonesty and fraud that has taken hold within the department and is contributing to all of its most pressing challenges. Quite simply, those who created the VA scandal will need to be purged from the system. Personnel changes, however, won’t be enough. The only way McDonald can set the department up for long term success is to take the opposite approach of some other VA senior leaders.  That means focusing on solving problems instead of downplaying or hiding them, holding employees accountable for mismanagement and negligence that harms veterans, and understanding that taxpayer funded organizations such as VA have a responsibility to provide information to Congress and the public rather than stonewalling them.” – Rep. Jeff Miller, Chairman, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs