Saturday, July 06, 2013

Radio signals from where?

Irene Klotz (Discovery) reports on some newly detected radio waves:

Astronomers were on a celestial fishing expedition for pulsing neutron stars and other radio bursts when they found something unexpected in archived sky sweeps conducted by the Parkes radio telescope in New South Wales, Australia.
The powerful signal, which lasted for just milliseconds, could have been a fluke, but then the team found three more equally energetic transient flashes all far removed from the galactic plane and coming from different points in the sky. Analysis later indicated that, unlike most cosmic radio signals that originate in the Milky Way or a nearby galaxy.

Nola Taylor Reed ( quotes the University of Manchest (England)'s Dan Thornton who was the principal investigator, "These burst gave off more energy in a millisecond than the sun does in 300,000 years." And Amina Khan (Los Angeles Times) notes, "These flashes were coming from a long way off too – which meant they must be powerful events, for their light to reach the Earth. Measuring the distance the light from these bursts had traveled, the scientists found that they had originated from when the Universe was around 6 billion to 9 billion years old – around half the age of the universe, which is 13.8 billion years old."

I am looking forward to the idea that, before I die, we will discover other inhabited planets.

That day may not come in my lifetime or ever.

However, I realized something new today. 

I do not want aliens to emerge this year or next, or the year after, or the year after that.


I cannot image anyone more capable of screwing such a historic moment up than Barack Obama.

He would make a point to tell the aliens that they are amazing . . . because they are meeting him.  He would make it all about himself, at best, and, at worst, he would declare war on them as he does on so many other things he cannot understand.

So I would love to encounter aliens and flying saucers and anything else you can imagine.

But not while the boob is in the White House.  He'd only screw things up.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):

Friday, July 5, 2013.  Chaos and violence continue, protesters are attacked in Iraq, the press largely ignores it, Nouri's control over Iraqi forces isn't as strong as he would hope, Moqtada and his parliamentary bloc continue to call out the US, Ed Snowden may have sanctuary, Venezuela really celebrates its independence,  Barack is revealed as impotent on the world stage in so many ways, and more.

Since December 21st, Fridays in Iraq have meant protests.  The actions have been going on now for over six months.  The western media has largely ignored the attacks.  That happened again today as many outlets -- including the BBC -- wrote about 'big violence' that was only two more dead than an attack on the protesters.  But western outlets like the BBC ignored the bombing targeting the protesters.  This happens every week.  You'd think six months of dedication on the part of the Iraqi people would translate into coverage but the western media's not interested in Iraq.

Today saw protesters stand up yet again.   Iraqi Spring MC notes people turned out in Falluja, in Baiji, in Samarra, and in Ramadi (where Nouri's SWAT forces were out in full force and arrested some attempting to protest).   Falluja, Al Mada reports, is where speakers announced that the government thinks the observation of the month of Ramadan will disrupt the protests but the protesters and their will will not be broken. 

 The protesters were attacked most obviously in Sammara.  Iraqi Spring MC Tweeted about what took place:

: حسب شهود عيان السيارة كان يقودها احد عناصر القوات الحكومية وكان يروم ركنها لكنها انفجرت به

That's the remains of a car bombing that targeted Samarra's protest today and the Tweet notes that eye witnesses saw one of Nouri's forces in the car.  Pakistan's Daily Times notes, "The bomber wore an army uniform, police said."

Alsumaria reports that the preachers in the province (Salahuddin) are saying that the security failed the protesters.   All Iraq News reports that  12 people are dead from the Samarra bombing and another nineteen are injured.  NINA notes the Motahidoon Alliance denounced the attack on the sit-in and termed the attack, "continuation of the attempts to silence the voices opposing the Government's unjust and forceful trend. [. . . ] The peoples' will cannot be defeated, and the martyres' blood is a force that keeps the protestors moving to the end of the road of reform."  The Motahidoon Alliance is part of Iraqiya and it is led by Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi.   Kareem Raheem and Janet Lawrence (Reuters) report :

Protest organiser Adnan Al-Muhanna called on Sunnis to take to the streets daily and follow the example of Egyptians.
Egypt's first freely elected president Mohamed Mursi was toppled on Wednesday after the army intervened following mass demonstrations against his rule, a year after the Islamist was sworn into office.
"Demonstrations can make the change. Neither elections nor weapons can do that," Muhanna said. "Within one year, the Egyptians changed the Mursi regime through demonstrations because they were well-organized."

In other violence, NINA notes police shot 2 suspects dead in Hawija, a Kut car bombing claimed 1 life and left seventeen injured, an armed attack to the south of Falluja left two people injured,  and armed attack in Falluja left 1 Iraqi soldier dead and another injured as well as one police officer injuredMu Xuequan (Xinhua) reports, "The deadliest attack was in the Qurait area in northern Baghdad, where 14 people were killed and 31 others injured when a suicide bomber blew himself up in a Shi'ite mosque during the evening pray, a local police source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.Reuters states that the suicide bomber was a woman.  In addition, NINA notes a Baghdad car bombing claimed 1 life and left nine more people injured.

Yesterday saw at least 14 deaths and at least thirty-four injured.  Three of the dead?  Doctors killed in Baghdad. 

All Iraq News noted that  the Parliament's Health and Environment Committee "discussed several amendments on Physicians Protection Law preparing for a vote to be endorsed by Parliament."  Alsumaria added that Moqtada al-Sadr declared these attacks cannot be allowed, called for an immediate investigation into the attacks on the three doctors and declared that Iraq cannot allow the hands of terrorism to target and impair the medical community."  If you missed it, recent violence has required Iraq to utilize hospitals in other countries.  The "brain drain" in the early years of the war has not been repaired and has left Iraq without a sufficient number of medical providers.  Nouri's been prime minister for seven years now.  Why the hell he didn't implement fast track programs of training is a question the Iraqi people should be demanding answers to.  Instead, he continues to try to pad out Iraq's medical community by importing nurses from other countries.  At a time when Iraqis face massive unemployment and with all the billions Iraq sits on, there was plenty of time, plenty of people to start up a nursing program that could have turned out LVNs and RNs very quickly and had them working in the hospitals instead of importing nurses into the country.

Iraq can't afford more violence aimed at doctors.  That's what Moqtada's smart enough to grasp although it escapes Nouri.  A second brain drain is possible.  Violence is again increasing in Iraq.  Today, 3 doctors were killed in Baghdad.  This is the sort of thing that can lead to a panic.  If you're a doctor in Iraq and you've told yourself things will get better, you've said you want to honor the Iraqi people and you've stayed?  The violence has never ended and at some point -- when doctors are being targeted again -- you have to ask yourself exactly how much longer you can wait for the violence to end?  For some, it won't take much to push them out of Iraq at this point.

Meanwhile  All Iraq News reports today, "MP, Iqbal al-Ghurabi, of al-Ahrar bloc within the Sadr Trend called to close the US Embassy in Iraq due to its interference in the Iraqi internal affairs."  This is not an isolate remark but part of a series of responses from Moqtada and his Sadr bloc.

Sunday,  All Iraq News reports cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr issued a response to a question in which he declared Iraq's next prime minister will not conduct business with the occupying US.  He states, "We will nominate a Prime Minister who loves Iraq and Iraqis and will not deal with the US occupiers to let down Iraq and its honor -- and will not let the USA possess its wealth."  This is said to be in response to statements US Ambassador to Iraq Stephen Beecroft recently made.  Dropping back to last Friday's snapshot:

Al Rafidayn reports that the US Ambassador to Iraq Stephen Beecroft met with the Iraqi media and answered questions.  Among them, a new Iraqi prime minister?  Parliamentary elections are scheduled for 2014.  Beecroft stated it is the job and right of the Iraqi people to pick their leaders and the US is prepared to have a diplomatic relationship with any Iraqi chosen to represent the people.  He refused to speculate on any particular person.  He was asked about the F-16 fighters and stated that they would not be delivered until September 2014.

 Ali Abedl Sadah (Al-Monitor) reported yesterday:

In a statement distributed to the media, Sadr said, “We will nominate as a candidate a prime minister who loves Iraqis and whom they love. He will not be hated by non-believers, and will show modesty in dealing with believers. He will be one of them.” He continued, “The prime minister ... will not deal with the unrighteous occupier, in order to give Iraq prestige, independence, dignity and honor.”
"The Americans," he said, "will not be able to manipulate the fate, rights, wealth and souls in Iraq again.” Sadr then addressed the US ambassador, saying, “Your threat will not be useful. Deal with us however you wish ... We will deal with [the Americans] in ways that you have never seen before.”
The Mahdi Army, an armed branch of Sadr's movement, engaged in bloody armed combat with American forces from 2004 to 2007. However, things changed after Sadr decided to freeze his fighters’ activity and senior officials close to the movement confirmed in 2008 that the movement would turn to political action. Yet Sadr's recent remarks directed at the US ambassador indicate that he desires to rise to power after the 2014 parliamentary elections.
Tariq Kikhany, a leading figure of Sadr's movement, said, “Our political weight grew from 2003 until the April 2013 provincial elections." In a phone interview with Al-Monitor, Kikhany said, “For the 2006 to 2010 term, the movement won 30 seats. The number of seats, however, increased to 41 for the current term.”

 Some who dismiss Moqtada will dismiss his statements as idle threats.  They'd do well to remember the rumors that, in the fall of 2010, the Iranian government stated they would back Moqtada as the next prime minister of Iraq and that he should just go along with them now on Nouri al-Maliki.

Nouri can't hold on forever.  He can't even hold onto his security forces.  Dropping back to the June 13th snapshot:

 Jason Ditz ( notes:

The Iraqi military’s violent attacks on Sunni Arab protesters weren’t the panacea that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was expecting them to be, but it also cost the army 1,070 troops, according to officials.
The troops, ethnic Kurds, mutinied when they were ordered to attack a Sunni Arab town where protests were taking place, and then refused to attend “disciplinary re-training” meant to ensure that they wouldn’t hesitate to attack Iraqi towns if ordered in the future.

AFP reports that Tuz Khurmatu Mayor Shallal Abdul explains the troops are still in their same positions, they're just now working for and paid by the Peshmerga -- the elite Kurdish fighting force.

At Niqash yesterday, Shalaw Mohammed elaborated on this development:

Hundreds of Kurdish soldiers recently deserted from the Iraqi army. Were they responding to government injustice - or getting on side with others of their own ethnicity? And what does this mean for the Iraqi army? Can it still be relied upon?

The hundreds of Iraqi Kurdish soldiers who deserted the Iraqi army recently indicate once again the depth of ethnic and sectarian divisions in Iraq’s armed forces. According to information obtained by NIQASH, dozens of Iraqi Kurdish soldiers deserted when the Iraqi Ministry of Defence ordered members of the Iraqi army’s 16th Brigade and 12 Iraqi Kurdish officers to move from the disputed town of Tuz Khormato in the Salahaddin province – currently declared a disaster zone after multiple bomb blasts - to other duties a little further south, and mostly to the town of Sulaiman Bek, where Sunni-Arab protestors had become violent; in fact, gunmen took control of the town for several days.

“Our mission is to serve in the disputed areas,” Captain Recot Mohammed, the spokesperson for the 16th Brigade, told NIQASH. “So when we were given the order to move from Tuz Khormato without any apparent justification, we threatened to desert.”

And it’s not just the Iraqi Kurdish who have problems with these kinds of orders. “There are signs that the Iraqi army can no longer cope with a crisis in which it is confronting large fractions of the Iraqi population,” wrote a European peace-activist think tank with a special focus on Iraq, the Brussels Tribunal, in a roundup of events after anti-government protestors were killed by the Iraqi army earlier this year. “Many soldiers prefer to desert the army rather than shoot at protesters. Most deserters are Sunni, but some are Shia who don’t want to fight in strange places for something they don’t believe in.”

As Nouri finds the forces less than eager to help him become the new Saddam Hussein, the US remains in Iraq -- diplomatically and militarily.    Yesterday, Donna Gorman (Huffington Post) wrote of her husband year long deployment with the State Dept in Iraq which began this morning:

Our youngest child, 5-year-old Ainsley, has taken it the hardest. She snuck into our bedroom last night, as per usual, threw her arms around her daddy and said, "I don't want you to die in Baghdad, daddy."
What the what? She's 5. Let me tell you, neither of us was quite sure how to respond to that small trauma. We didn't think she even understood that he was leaving, let alone sophisticated enough to process the fact that we're sending him into harm's way. We knew it was going to be hard on our sons, who are 13 and almost 10, and who know exactly what's going on in Iraq and in the region. We figured our 7-year-old daughter might have some questions for us: After all, she's still traumatized by the duck-and-cover that we lived through here at the Embassy in Jordan just two years ago. But Ainsley? We didn't even try to explain it to her.
Explain to the other kids, yes. They all know their daddy is a policeman of sorts -- a federal agent with the State Department's Diplomatic Security Service. They usually see him in a suit and tie, but they've also seen him dressed in his federal agent gear. They've seen his office, with its cool gadgets and photos of him and his colleagues at work. They've eavesdropped on many a dinner conversation and phone call, when riots and shootings and all manner of bad guys are discussed. And of course they've seen him run out the door in a hurry when some emergency crops up. So, they know what he does for a living, and they are proud of his work. But I didn't realize, not until that late night comment from my baby, that even she understands the risks he is about to face because of his job.

That's the diplomatic aspect of the ongoing US mission.  The military aspect?   Dropping back to the April 30th Iraq snapshot:

December 6, 2012, the Memorandum of Understanding For Defense Cooperation Between the Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Iraq and the Department Defense of the United States of America was signed.  We covered it in the December 10th and December 11th snapshots -- lots of luck finding coverage elsewhere including in media outlets -- apparently there was some unstated agreement that everyone would look the other way.  It was similar to the silence that greeted Tim Arango's September 25th New York Times report which noted, "Iraq and the United States are negotiating an agreement that could result in the return of small units of American soldiers to Iraq on training missions.  At the request of the Iraqi government, according to [US] General [Robert L.] Caslen, a unit of Army Special Operations soldiers was recently deployed to Iraq to advise on counterterrorism and help with intelligence."

So last fall saw another Special Ops unit go into Iraq and the end of the year saw a new military agreement allowing for joint US and Iraq patrols in Iraq. From the December 11th snapshot:

In yesterday's snapshot, we covered the Memorandum of Understanding For Defense Cooperation Between the Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Iraq and the Department of Defense of the United States of America.  Angry, dysfunctional e-mails from Barack-would-never-do-that-to-me criers indicate that we need to go over the Memo a little bit more.  It was signed on Thursday and announced that day by the Pentagon.   Section two (listed in full in yesterday's snapshot) outlines that the two sides have agreed on: the US providing instructors and training personnel and Iraq providing students, Iraqi forces and American forces will work together on counterterrorism and on joint exercises.   The tasks we just listed go to the US military being in Iraq in larger numbers.  Obviously the two cannot do joint exercises or work together on counterterrorism without US military present in Iraq.
This shouldn't be surprising.  In the November 2, 2007 snapshot -- five years ago -- we covered the transcript of the interview Michael R. Gordon and Jeff Zeleny did with then-Senator Barack Obama who was running in the Democratic Party's primary for the party's presidential nomination -- the transcript, not the bad article the paper published, the actual transcript.  We used the transcript to write "NYT: 'Barack Obama Will Keep Troops In Iraq'" at Third.  Barack made it clear in the transcript that even after "troop withdrawal" he would "leave behind a residual force."  What did he say this residual force would do?  He said, "I think that we should have some strike capability.  But that is a very narrow mission, that we get in the business of counter terrorism as opposed to counter insurgency and even on the training and logistics front, what I have said is, if we have not seen progress politically, then our training approach should be greatly circumscribed or eliminated."
This is not withdrawal.  This is not what was sold to the American people.  Barack is very lucky that the media just happened to decide to take that rather explosive interview -- just by chance, certainly the New York Times wasn't attempting to shield a candidate to influence an election, right? -- could best be covered with a plate of lumpy, dull mashed potatoes passed off as a report.  In the transcript, Let-Me-Be-Clear Barack declares, "I want to be absolutely clear about this, because this has come up in a series of debates: I will remove all our combat troops, we will have troops there to protect our embassies and our civilian forces and we will engage in counter terrorism activities."
So when the memo announces counterterrorism activies, Barack got what he wanted, what he always wanted, what the media so helpfully and so frequently buried to allow War Hawk Barack to come off like a dove of peace.

For those who struggle with reality, you can refer to  the US Congressional Research Service published "Iraq: Politics, Governance, and Human Rights."  The report was written by Kenneth Katzman.  We'll note the part on the MoU:

Reflecting an acceleration of the Iraqi move to reengage militarily with the United States, during December 5-6 2012, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy James Miller and acting Under Secretary of State for International Security Rose Gottemoeller visited Iraq and a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed with acting Defense Minister Sadoun Dulaymi.  The five year MOU provides for:

* high level U.S.-Iraq military exchanges
* professional military education cooperation
* counter-terrorism cooperation
* the development of defense intelligence capabilities
* joint exercises

The MOU appears to address many of the issues that have hampered OSC-I from performing its mission to its full potential.  The MOU also reflects some of the more recent ideas put forward, such as joint exercises.

Hopefully, that's clear to even the most delusional member of the Cult of St. Barack.  And all that was before  last week's news about General Martin Dempsey (Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff) declaring that the US needed to send more troops into Iraq.  See:

As Michael Evans (Times of London) noted last week, "The Pentagon is to deploy specialist training troops to help Iraq's military to stop al-Qaeda-aligned forces who are arming extremist groups over the border.   More troops were sent back in last fall with no objection from the so-called 'left' peace 'leaders' in the United States.  A new military agreement was announced and not one of our 'brave,' 'left' outlets (The Progressive, The Nation, Democracy Now!, ZNet, CounterPunch, etc., etc.) could bother to note it.  Last week they were all AWOL as Dempsey spoke publicly at a press conference in DC explaining that US troops were going back into Iraq.

There's nothing independent about so-called 'independent' media in the United States.

Wednesday, July 3rd was Venequela's Independence Day.  US Secretary of State John Kerry noted the day with the following remarks:

On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I congratulate the people of Venezuela as you commemorate the day that Venezuela declared its independence 202 years ago.
Venezuela and the United States have much in common. For example, revolutionary leader General Francisco de Miranda also played a part in our own struggle for independence, participating in the Battle of Pensacola in 1781. His contribution is forever memorialized in a monument that stands in the heart of Philadelphia, the original capital of the United States. When a devastating earthquake struck Venezuela in 1812 the United States sent the Venezuelan people the first humanitarian assistance it ever provided to a foreign country. These two examples demonstrate that Venezuela and the United States have shared ties of friendship and common values since the birth of our two nations, and the ties between our people endure.
I wish Venezuelans everywhere health, happiness, and hope on the anniversary of your independence.

And their independence includes not being lackeys of the United States.  AP reports that Venezuelan President Nicholas Maduro is offering NSA whistle-blower Ed Snowden asylum and the President of Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega, stated that they would be willing to provide sanctuary in Nicaragua as well "if circumstances allow." The revelations resulting from Ed Snowden's whistle-blowing have been many. Glenn Greenwald (Guardian) provided an overview Wednesday night:

The first NSA story to be reported was our June 6 article which exposed the bulk, indiscriminate collection by the US Government of the telephone records of tens of millions of Americans. Ever since then, it has been undeniably clear that James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence, outright lied to the US Senate - specifically to the Intelligence Committee, the body charged with oversight over surveillance programs - when he said "no, sir" in response to this question from Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden: "Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?"
That Clapper fundamentally misled Congress is beyond dispute. The DNI himself has now been forced by our stories to admit that his statement was, in his words, "clearly erroneous" and to apologize. But he did this only once our front-page revelations forced him to do so: in other words, what he's sorry about is that he got caught lying to the Senate. And as Salon's David Sirota adeptly documented on Friday, Clapper is still spouting falsehoods as he apologizes and attempts to explain why he did it.
How is this not a huge scandal? Intentionally deceiving Congress is a felony, punishable by up to 5 years in prison for each offense. Reagan administration officials were convicted of misleading Congress as part of the Iran-contra scandal and other controversies, and sports stars have been prosecuted by the Obama DOJ based on allegations they have done so.

Patty Culhane (Al Jazeera) sums up Ed's revelations regarding Barack's spying on Americans as follows:

  • Keeps a record of every cell phone call made.
  • Keeps a record of all emails sent.
  • Takes pictures of all the letters mailed in the US.
  • Uses drones for domestic surveillance.
  • Reserves the right to detain people (including Americans) indefinitely without trial.
  • Can search homes without telling people they were there.
  • Can still carry out renditions.
  • Can get copies of all of your records (from the library, bank or credit card company) without a warrant.
So to sum things up, if you become a person of interest, the government can quickly find out everyone you have ever talked to and written to; everything you have ever read and bought; and everywhere you have ever been.

Xan Brooks (Guardian) reports that film director Oliver Stone spoke out in support of Ed Snowden "at the Karlovy Vary international film festival in the Czech Republic" stating, "It's a disgrace that Obama is more concerned with hunting down Snowden than reforming these George Bush-style eavesdropping techniques."  Earlier this week, Amnesty International issued the following statement:

The US authorities’ relentless campaign to hunt down and block whistleblower Edward Snowden’s attempts to seek asylum is deplorable and amounts to a gross violation of his human rights Amnesty International said today.
“The US attempts to pressure governments to block Snowden’s attempts to seek asylum are deplorable,” said Michael Bochenek, Director of Law and Policy at Amnesty International. “It is his unassailable right, enshrined in international law, to claim asylum and this should not be impeded.”
The organization also believes that the National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower could be at risk of ill-treatment if extradited to the USA.
“No country can return a person to another country where there is a serious risk of ill-treatment,” said Bochenek.
“We know that others who have been prosecuted for similar acts have been held in conditions that not only Amnesty International but UN officials considered cruel inhuman and degrading treatment in violation of international law.”
Senior US officials have already condemned Snowden without a trial, labelling him both guilty and a traitor, raising serious questions as to whether he’d receive a fair trial. Likewise the US authorities move to charge Snowden under the Espionage Act could leave him with no provision to launch a public interest whistle-blowing defence under US law.
"It appears he is being charged by the US government primarily for revealing its - and other governments’ - unlawful actions that violate human rights,” said Bochenek.
“No one should be charged under any law for disclosing information of human rights violations. Such disclosures are protected under the rights to information and freedom of expression.”
Besides filing charges against Snowden, the US authorities have revoked his passport – which interferes with his rights to freedom of movement and to seek asylum elsewhere.
“Snowden is a whistleblower. He has disclosed issues of enormous public interest in the US and around the world. And yet instead of addressing or even owning up to these actions, the US government is more intent on going after Edward Snowden.” 

Ed Snowden has revealed a great deal.  The angry reaction of the White House has less to do with spying specifics and more to do with the fact that Barack's true nature has been revealed.   Ana Palacio (The Australian) offers, "More than any other incoming American president in recent memory, Obama raised expectations worldwide. Yet he has proved to be mainly, if not solely, interested in domestic issues, resulting in a foreign policy of reaction. The Snowden affair highlights three elements of this: US-Russia relations, US influence in South America, and US relations with Europe." Stephanie Findlay (Macleans) observes that Barack's (very expensive) trip to Africa has been a bust and quotes the Wilson Center's Steve McDonald among those expressing disappointment and pointing out "the visit could have been so much more."  And, as Frank James (NPR) notes, Barack's been revealed as impotent with regards to Egypt:

The crisis of democracy in that country, specifically the military coup that overthrew former President Mohammed Morsi, has left Obama mostly a spectator to events.
Indeed, he is even less free than the average observer of the events in Egypt since he can't even use the word "coup" to describe the change in government there.
It's widely suspected that he and other administration officials have so far avoided using the word to avoid triggering a law that would require cutting off $1.3 billion of aid to the Egyptian military. That aid appears to be one of the few significant levers the U.S. has to influence events there.

Unable to command any real power on the real stage, Barack resorts to deceit and trickery to get the upper hand, ignoring the right to privacy and invading the space of any and all.  And when he's not spying on Americans, he's busy trying to trick them.  Chris Anders (ACLU Blog of Rights) offers the basics on Barack's nominee to be Director of the FBI:

While most of us are enjoying an extra-long July 4th weekend, James Comey, a top Bush lawyer who approved waterboarding and torture, is getting ready for one of his last hurdles before becoming FBI director. I'm sure that torture supporters are hoping that we spend more time at the beach and pool, and don't dig into Comey’s record.
Behind this nomination is a strange and ironic story. Beginning on Tuesday, President Obama might end up getting done what President Bush failed to do during nearly all of his last four years in office. All President Obama needs is for the Senate—and all of us—to look the other way while rubber-stamping his choice to head the FBI for the next 10 years.
As you may remember, after getting Alberto Gonzales confirmed as attorney general at the start of his second term, President Bush spent the next four years trying—and failing—to get the Senate to confirm any other members of his torture policy team. The Senate, under both Republican control and Democratic control, stood up to President Bush and turned away nominee after nominee with a record of approving water boarding or other torture. It was a principled and bipartisan rejection of rewarding the Bush administration’s torture policies.
But in a bizarre twist, James Comey—who served as deputy attorney general under both John Ashcroft and Alberto Gonzales, and who twice gave a thumbs-up to torture—has been nominated to be the FBI director for the next decade.

Iraq War veteran, talk show hots and activist Adam Kokesh posted a 23 second video on YouTube yesterday that's getting attention from the clutch the pearls crowd.  In the video, he loads a rifle.  DC's Metropolitan Police Department issued this:

Statement from US Park Police and Metropolitan Police Department regarding Adam Kokesh video

The Metropolitan Police Department and US Park Police are aware that today Adam Kokesh posted a video that appears to have been taken in Freedom Plaza in Northwest, DC. We are in the process of determining the authenticity of the video.

Jessica Huseman (Policy Mic) is offended. Jessica is convinced that this is not helping his cause.   She doesn't give a damn about his cause, she's against it so why the hell is she even writing about him?

To ridicule him and make fun of him.  You know what, Adam serving in Iraq didn't make him a saint, nor did his speaking out against the illegal war make him above criticism or ridicule.  He can be targeted the same as any of the rest of us can be.   But maybe Jessica should look in the mirror?

What Adam supposedly did . . . It doesn't hurt his cause.  I hope he's not arrested but if he is, that's what happens.  I personally wish he wouldn't do these sort of things.  That's not because I dislike his politics or his convictions.  I admire his integrity.  My personal problem is there are a lot of crazy people and when Jessica thinks she's being cute, she's really just handing out torches to the town mob.  I seriously worry that Adam's going to get hurt at some point.  That's not because of the gun issue, it could be the tax issue or any of his other stands.

I worry about him.  But he's an adult  so all I can do is just applaud him for the bravery and wish him the best in his political battles.  If everyone showed even half the fire and integrity Adam repeatedly does, we wouldn't have NSA spying, we wouldn't have US troops going back into Iraq, etc.  Adam's a brave activist.  He takes ethical stands.   Jessica Huseman?  She's a blathering idiot who popularizes Adam's cause while thinking she's taking him down.  If she needs additional targets to try to make herself better, she can refer to Matthew Rothschild's "Anti-Patriotic Quotes to Ponder on July 4" (The Progressive) and find a historical treasure trove of people who stood up for things they believed in.  And, at some point, Jessica Huseman might want to ask herself why, in an Age of Apathy, she's attacking anyone who's standing up for what they believe? 

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Barack stepped in it

Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Pants On The Ground"went up this morning.

pants on the ground 13

So true.  Bill Clinton looks like a giant when compared to the idiot Barack.

  With his spying scandal, he's really stepped in it but Barack's too dumb to know it and thinks he can wipe it off.

The White House released this today:

President Obama spoke by phone today with Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, who offered condolences on the tragic deaths of 19 firefighters in Arizona.  The President and the Chancellor discussed the recent reports of surveillance activities allegedly conducted by the U.S. National Security Agency.  The President assured the Chancellor that the United States takes seriously the concerns of our European allies and partners.  The two leaders reaffirmed the importance of continued close cooperation between our respective intelligence services in the fight against terrorism and other threats to the security of the United States, Germany, and our allies.  The leaders agreed to hold a high-level meeting of U.S. and German security officials in the coming days to discuss these matters in greater detail.  They also looked forward to the initiation of a U.S.-EU/EU Member State dialogue on the collection and oversight of intelligence and questions of privacy and data protection, as proposed by Attorney General Eric Holder, as early as July 8.  Finally, the leaders reiterated their strong support for the launch of Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership negotiations and welcomed the upcoming first round of discussions.
Oh, yeah, you'll be able to talk your way out of that, idiot.

Barack needs to be taking questions from the press in a national address and addressing his spying on the American people.

Instead, he's like Nixon, he's worse than Nixon.  He snuck back into the country today after hiding out in Africa to avoid the scandal.  It's not going away and he's a crook.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):

Wednesday, July 3, 2013.  Chaos and violence continue, this was predicted in 2010 and we note that prediction and who made it, James Zogby is a Democratic Party superdelegate and he's not objective but he is a whore, Iraq qualifies for the World Cup quarter-finals, Lie Face Melissa attacks whistle-blower Ed Snowden, Dennis Bernstein and Norman Solomon marvel over those who justify the spying on Americans, Joan Wile gears up for a Central Park event tomorrow, and more.

Let's start by dipping into the archives to give someone credit for being right:

Last night on The NewsHour (PBS -- link has text, video and audio options), Margaret Warner moderated a discussion on the latest trades and deals between Meghan O'Sullivan who served in the Bully Boy Bush administration and Feisal Istrabadi who was Iraq's Deputy Ambassador to the UN (2004 - 2007). Excerpt:
MARGARET WARNER: Let me just interrupt, and quickly, because I -- before we run out of time, what is this going to mean for the violence we have been seeing on the rise in Iraq, Mr. Istrabadi?
FEISAL ISTRABADI: I don't see any indications that Nouri al-Maliki has the first idea of what to do about the rising violence. The violence cannot be dealt with -- and we have been saying this for five years -- the violence cannot be dealt with merely militarily. There has to be reconciliation amongst the various factions. Nothing in Nouri al-Maliki's history indicates that he is prepared to undertake such reconciliation.

That's from the November 12, 2010 snapshot so "last night" was the November 11, 2010 broadcast of The NewsHour.  Let's note one more time Feisal Istrabadi's remarks.

FEISAL ISTRABADI: I don't see any indications that Nouri al-Maliki has the first idea of what to do about the rising violence. The violence cannot be dealt with -- and we have been saying this for five years -- the violence cannot be dealt with merely militarily. There has to be reconciliation amongst the various factions. Nothing in Nouri al-Maliki's history indicates that he is prepared to undertake such reconciliation.

On the first two days of July, Iraq Body Count counts 102 violent deaths.  AFP adds that 320 have been injured.  Jason Ditz ( reminds, "The UN has released its estimate on deaths in Iraq for the month of June as 761, somewhat below the May toll of over 1,000, but still well above the toll of April, and the worst June since at least 2008."  The United Nations adds, "In a report issued last week, UNAMI said that at least 3,200 civilians were killed and more than 10,000 injured in during the second half of 2012 in a reversal of the trend that had seen violence decline in recent years."

Again from November of 2010:

FEISAL ISTRABADI: I don't see any indications that Nouri al-Maliki has the first idea of what to do about the rising violence. The violence cannot be dealt with -- and we have been saying this for five years -- the violence cannot be dealt with merely militarily. There has to be reconciliation amongst the various factions. Nothing in Nouri al-Maliki's history indicates that he is prepared to undertake such reconciliation.

Violence continues today in Iraq.  National Iraqi News Agency reports a roadside bombing north of Baghdad has claimed the lives of 2 Sahwa and left five more injured, a Tikrit roadside bombing claimed the life of 1 police officer and left two more injured, another Tikrit bombing has claimed 1 life and left another person injured, a Falluja armed attack has left three people injured, and a Baquba sticky bombing injured one personAll Iraq News notes a Mosul bombing has left two people injured, another Baquba bombing left five people injured, and the corpse of a 2-year-old child was discovered in Diwaniya -- dead from gunshots to the headAlsumaria adds that a Mosul suicide bomber targeted military headquarters and claimed the lives of 4 Iraqi soldiers and twelve more were left injured.  Press TV, BBC News and AFP  report a Baghdad bombing (southwest Baghdad, Nahrawan) which has claimed 7 lives and left fourteen people injured.  Qassim Abdul-Zahra (AP) also reports the Baghdad bombing and notes that, in addition, 3 corpses (gunshot wounds) have been discovered in Baghdad.  Over 12 hours ago, that was the reported violence:  19 reported deaths and 45 injured.

But the violence didn't end there.  NINA notes 1 police officer was shot dead in Falluja by assailants on motorcycles, a Mosul car bombing killed 1 man on what should have been a special day -- his wedding -- his bride-to-be was injured as were twelve of their wedding guests, Sahwa Captain Ali Mohammed Lahbib was shot dead to the east of Falluja today, a Mosul suicide bomber claimed the lives of 2 Iraqi military members and left three more injured, a machine gun attack on a Falluja police checkpoint left one police officer injured, and  a Falluja bombing claimed the life of 1 police officer and left a bystander injuredAll Iraq News adds a Tikrit bombing claimed the lives of 2 Sahwa and left three more injured. That's 8 more deaths and 21 more injured -- day total of 27 dead and 66 injured.

Today the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq issued the following:

Baghdad, 3 July 2013 – The Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Iraq (SRSG), Mr. Martin Kobler, condemned in the strongest possible terms the wave of attacks that claimed dozens of lives across Iraq yesterday. كوردى
“These devastating terrorist attacks once again targeted innocent citizens going about their daily activities, struggling to build a more hopeful future for themselves and their children in a highly volatile environment,” the UN Envoy said. “They follow two weeks during which we’ve seen an increasing number of attacks targeting cafés, football fields and other locations where people socialize and nurture the personal relationships and social fabric that are so important for a strong, prosperous country.”
“I once again urge the Iraqi authorities to do their utmost and take all necessary measures to protect the people of Iraq from more bloodshed,” he added. “This carnage must stop.”
Mr. Kobler extended his sincere condolences to the families of the victims and wishes for a speedy recovery to those who were wounded.

Martin Kobler's really good about these generic statements.  But who could be considered responsible for the violence?  Let's quote it one more time:

FEISAL ISTRABADI: I don't see any indications that Nouri al-Maliki has the first idea of what to do about the rising violence. The violence cannot be dealt with -- and we have been saying this for five years -- the violence cannot be dealt with merely militarily. There has to be reconciliation amongst the various factions. Nothing in Nouri al-Maliki's history indicates that he is prepared to undertake such reconciliation. 
He was right.  Nouri wasn't going to help that, he was only going to increase the tensions that encourage the violence. 
We'll come back to the violence.  But we've noted someone who was right nearly three years ago.  Someone who has been proven right.  Let's note someone else now, someone whose first name should be Falsehood.

"Secondly, I'm one of the few people of Arab descent -- few people of Arab-Americans and activists -- who has always supported Kurdish self-determination."  Beware anyone making such a claim.  Anyone so self-involved and so stupid that he thinks he can get away with that claim.  The idiot in question?  James Zogby.  Kurds beware as he makes that statement right before attempting to tell the Kurds that they need to back off certain goals and certain deals having to do with oil and "a Kurdish independent move."  He's a whore, he's a cheap whore.

The Zogby family's idiot polling has been a joke among pollsters for years.  That's because it's always been a hybrid and a questionable sample.  It's also because the polls tended to lean towards Democratic Party goals -- not left goals, Democratic Party goals -- not rank and file Democrat goals, leadership goals.  Why would the polling match up so closely with what leaders wanted -- especially when Gallup and others didn't match up?  Who knows?  But one thing that might have helped answer the question was the reality that James Zogby was on the Democratic Party's Executive Committee -- a fact rarely reported and one he doesn't tend to disclose in on air appearances.

For Rudaw, Naom Abudlla hosted Zogby and David Mack (1986 to 1989 US Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates; 1990 to 1993 Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs) for a broadcast entitled "Invaded By Bush, Abandoned by Obama, What's Next For Iraq?" (link is text) and that's where he made his laughable claim about being "one of the few."

James Zogby:  I remember that election in Iraq very well.  I remember doing my own TV show for one full year after that election and talking about the same thing every week which was: are you going to get a government, what kind of government are you going to get, what's the coalition going to look like and is Iraq governable given the sectarian differences and the partisan differences that currently exists?  That was the situation, that was the house George [Bush] built.  That was what President Obama -- that was the house he moved into.  And so I think options were limited.  Our leverage was limited.  Vice President Biden tried very hard to negotiate a framework of governance that actually would be all encompassing, that would include the State of Law party [headed by Nouri] and Iraqiya [headed by Ayad Allawi]/  Uhm, it didn't work.  And, uh, uh, al-Maliki had his own agenda and has been pursuing it rather vigorously -- I think to the detriment of a-a-a more democrat en-en-environment in Iraq. 

Namo Abdulla:  So --

James Zogby:  So-so I think we're in a difficult situation.  And I think, again, our leverage is limited.  And, uh, uhm, I think Iran has far greater leverage in Iraq right now than-than the US does.

[. . .]

David Mack:  Ayad Allawi had plenty of time to establish a coalition that he would lead.  He failed.  And there are a lot of reasons for that that we can't get into here, uhm, but, uh, in the end, the US did not have the kind of political power within the country that an occupying army might be able to wield and so we couldn't keep, we couldn't prop up a government that, uh, couldn't establish a cabinet that would get a parliamentary majority.  Uh, so we're having to make the best -- Do the best we can.

The house that George built?  There are so many damn lies in the above.  In March 2010, Bully Boy Bush was out of the White House.  And the Iraqi people voted Iraqiya the winners in the election.  The White House had the choice of backing the Iraqi Constitution and democracy (and in the process getting rid of the US puppet Nouri al-Maliki that Bully Boy Bush installed in 2006) and chose not to.  Instead, they chose to side with Nouri.

Let's again note John Barry's "'The Engame' Is A Well Researched, Highly Critical Look at U.S. Policy in Iraq" (Daily Beast):

Washington has little political and no military influence over these developments [in Iraq]. As Michael Gordon and Bernard Trainor charge in their ambitious new history of the Iraq war, The Endgame, Obama's administration sacrificed political influence by failing in 2010 to insist that the results of Iraq’s first proper election be honored: "When the Obama administration acquiesced in the questionable judicial opinion that prevented Ayad Allawi's bloc, after it had won the most seats in 2010, from the first attempt at forming a new government, it undermined the prospects, however slim, for a compromise that might have led to a genuinely inclusive and cross-sectarian government."

Unlike James Zogby's weekly coverage, we covered the political stalemate in real time and were among the first (maybe the first) to apply the term "political stalemate."  That's the eight months plus after the election when nothing happens.  Why does nothing happen?  Because Nouri's lost the election.  And Nouri doesn't want to give his palace, doesn't want to give up his post.

France was advocating for a caretaker government, the US government blocked that.  The top US commander in Iraq at that time, Gen Ray Odierno, was very concerned, months before the March 2010 elections, that Nouri could lose and that Nouri would refuse to step down.  When he sounded alarms, the White House elected to instead listen to the idiot Chris Hill.  Hill would be fired from his post as US Ambassador in Iraq during the political stalemate once the White House learned how incompetent Hill was.  (James Jeffrey would replace him.) To pretend that what happened was a surprise is a lie.  To pretend that the US didn't back Nouri in the stalemate is also a lie.  He couldn't have sat there for eight months without the backing of the US.  Had the backing only lasted three months, Nouri wouldn't be prime minister.

We covered Iraq every day in 2010.  So we're aware, for example, that Moqtada al-Sadr didn't support Nouri.  And wouldn't until late in the stalemate.  The first thing Moqtada did was announce another vote.  In his vote, you would chose who Moqtada (and his bloc in Parliament) would throw their support behind.   If, like James Zogby, you've missed or forgotten these facts, you can refer to the  starting April 2, 2010 snapshot for the election and the April 9, 2010 snapshot for the election results

Nouri lost that Moqtada vote.  Had the White House not been backing Nouri at that time, in the spring, then Nouri's support would have crumbled.  Samantha Power is the person who sold Barack on the assertion that Nouri was the best choice.  She argued that Nouri would provide stability and Nouri was in the best interest of the US government.  So great was Power's argument that Barack dismissed the CIA briefing that argued for a member of the Islamic Supreme Council in Iraq to be prime minister.  The CIA briefing noted Nouri's mental instability (the State Dept had noted throughout his first term that Nouri's paranoia was dangerous).  The CIA briefing even noted that Nouri with a second term would most likely mean Nouri demanding a third term.  Then-Secretary of Defense Robert Gates did not back anyone but argued to Barack that the will of the voters should be respected (that would mean a prime minister from the Iraqiya bloc) and that it would be very dangerous to give Nouri a second term.  Gates didn't matter either.  Joe Biden warned against it and that didn't matter either.  Barack was convinced that Samantha Power was a political savant.  The self-styled journalist who -- as Keith Harmon Snow has long documented -- got everything wrong about anything she 'reported' on became the one-sided historian who pointed fingers at other countries in her writing but never found the United States government wanting or in the wrong.  As Edward Herman (ZNet) has noted:

 Power never  departs from the selectivity dictated by the establishment party line. That requires, first and foremost, simply ignoring  cases of  direct U.S. or U.S.-sponsored (or otherwise approved) genocide. Thus the Vietnam war, in which millions were directly killed by U.S. forces, does not show up in Power's index or text. Guatemala, where there was a mass killing of as many as 100,000 Mayan Indians between 1978 and 1985, in what Amnesty International called "A Government Program of Political Murder," but by a government installed and supported by the United States, also does not show up in Power's index.  Cambodia is of course included, but only for the second phase of the genocide—the first phase, from 1969-1975, in which the United States dropped some 500,000 tons of bombs on the Cambodian countryside and  killed vast numbers, she fails to mention. On the  Khmer Rouge genocide, Power says they killed 2 million, a figure widely cited after Jean Lacouture  gave that number; his subsequent admission that this number was invented had no effect on its use, and it suits Power's purpose. 
A major U.S.-encouraged and supported genocide occurred in Indonesia in 1965-66 in which over 700,000 people were murdered. This genocide is not mentioned by Samantha Power and the names Indonesia and Suharto do not appear in her index. She also fails to mention West Papua, where Indonesia's 40 years of  murderous occupation would constitute genocide under her criteria, if carried out under different auspices. Power does refer to East Timor, with extreme brevity, saying that "In 1975, when its ally, the oil-producing, anti-Communist Indonesia, invaded East Timor, killing between 100,000 and 200,000 civilians, the United States looked away" (146-7). That exhausts her treatment of the subject, although the killings in East Timor involved a larger fraction of the population than in Cambodia, and the numbers killed were probably larger than the grand total for Bosnia and Kosovo, to which she devotes a large fraction of her book. She also misrepresents the U.S. role—it did not "look away," it gave its approval, protected the aggression from any effective UN response (in his autobiography, then U.S. Ambassador to the UN Daniel Patrick Moynihan bragged about his effectiveness in protecting Indonesia from any UN action), and greatly increased its arms aid to Indonesia, thereby facilitating the genocide.

That's who Barack chose to listen to and his lack of experience and his lack of common sense explains why Iraq is mired in crises today.   Equally true, the US-brokered Erbil Agreement ended the stalemate in November 2010.  This contract gave Nouri a second term as prime minister, bypassing the Iraqi Constitution, in exchange for Nouri agreeing to give the political blocs various things.  Nouri used The Erbil Agreement to get the second term but then violated The Erbil Agreement.  Among other things, Nouri promised in that legal contract that Ayad Allawi would head a new independent committee.  Let's drop back to November 11th, when Ayad Allawi was wavering on The Erbil Agreement -- had walked out of Parliament -- and needed a phone call from  a big name to reassure him:

 Martin Chulov (Guardian) reports one hiccup in the process today involved Ayad Allawi who US President Barack Obama phoned asking/pleading that he accept the deal because "his rejection of post would be a vote of no confidence". Ben Lando, Sam Dagher and Margaret Coker (Wall St. Journal) confirm the phone call via two sources and state Allawi will take the post -- newly created -- of chair of the National Council On Higher Policy: "Mr. Obama, in his phone call to Mr. Allawi on Thursday, promised to throw U.S. weight behind the process and guarantee that the council would retain meaningful and legal power, according to the two officials with knowledge of the phone call."

Nouri never created that position.  And Iraqiya quickly found out -- as the Kurds would shortly after -- that Barack Obama's word wasn't worth s**t. 

Also true, David Mack's nonsense about forming a cabinet?

Nouri never did.  That's a Constitutional requirement.  That's not 'most of a Cabinet.'  That's a full Cabinet.  Nouri never formed a full Cabinet.  That's true even today.

Last July, Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) observed, "Shiite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has struggled to forge a lasting power-sharing agreement and has yet to fill key Cabinet positions, including the ministers of defense, interior and national security, while his backers have also shown signs of wobbling support."  Those positions were supposed to have been filled before the end of December 2010.  They were not.  They are still not filled.  Nouri refused to fill them because once the Iraqi Parliament confirms a nominee, that nominee is autonomous.  Nouri can't fire them, only the Parliament can.  (Which isn't easy.  Nouri's gotten Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi convicted of 'terrorism' and sentenced to death with the Baghdad courts he controls but he can't get Parliament to strip Tareq of his title.)

Zogby  laments that the Iraq Study Group recommendations were not implemented -- which would shock people who think this piece of s**t is just a columnist and runs a polling group with his brother John Zogby.  No, he's a Democratic Party insider whose power comes from that role.  He doesn't have an independent power base.

And, I'm sorry, but Rudaw needs to mention that on air when they interview him.  Considering that they allowed him to attack John McCain and minimize Barack's actions, they need to note it, they need to note that James Zogby is a super-delegate, that he pledged to Barack in the summer of 2007 (he publicly made the pledge at the end of February 2008, he told the Obama campaign in the summer of 2007).  This is not an impartial guest.  You owe it to your audience to let them know who's speaking -- in fact David Mack showed more independence than did Zogby.

Back to the violence.  If Nouri ever bothered to nominate people to head the security ministries -- ever once in the last three years -- as he was supposed to, would the security situation be so bad?

Maybe not.

All Iraq News notes Iraqiya leader Ayad Allawi posted to his Facebook page today, "Iraq and the Iraqis are living a disastrous situation due to the continuity of bombings and the lack of services in addition to the unstable political and security situations."  They also note Allawi posted, "Maliki's method is against what we have fought for during Saddam's regime where we and the Iraqi people do not accept this method."   The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization issued the following earlier today:

Baghdad, 3 July 2013; Director of UNESCO Office in Iraq Ms. Louise Haxthausen condemned the killing of Dr. Ahmed Shaker, professor at the University of Baghdad and urged the authorities to investigate this crime.
"UNESCO condemns this terrible act and offers its deep condolences to Dr. Shaker's family and friends, as well as his colleagues and students at the University of Baghdad", said Ms. Haxthausen. "A clear message must be sent to the perpetrators that their acts will not go unpunished. Such crimes affect the Iraqi society at whole, as they erode the human capital of the country. Teachers and professors define the shape of our future. They are the true advocates of durable peace and sustainable development in Iraq”, added Ms. Haxthausen.
According to security reports, Dr. Ahmed Shakir, specialist in cardio-vascular diseases and professor at the Faculty of medicine in the University of Baghdad, was killed when a bomb planted in his car exploded in Zaafaraniyya, south of Baghdad, on Monday 1 July 2013.
Acts of violence committed against academics and scientists in Iraq remain a main cause of brain drain. Many qualified academics flee to other countries in search of security. In partnership with the Iraqi government and UN sister Organizations, UNESCO is responding to these challenges through projects that focus on supporting Iraq in restoring its human capital, and improving the country’s learning environment.

Yesterday's violence claimed many lives including that of Abdul Rahman Adnan.  NINA reports that he was killed in Falluja and that he was Iraq's Body Building Champion.  Though it's posted three times today and twice yesterday's Iraq's Ministry of Youth and Sports hasn't noted the passing of  Abdul Rahman Adnan.  In other sports news, All Iraq News reports Iraq beat Paraguay today in the World Cup quarter-finals.  AP notes that this is Iraq's "first appearance in the tournament for 12 years."  UK Eurosport adds, "Iraq's match with Paraguay saw the Middle Eastern nation win thanks to an extra-time strike by Farhan Shakor."  And Supersport offers this recap of that play, "Adnan has been something of a hero for Iraq at these finals and he was involved at the other end when Hakeem Shakir’s side took the lead four minutes into the additional 30 of extra time.  His deep cross caught Paraguay captain Junior Alonso napping, and in stole substitute Farhan Shakor to send a header spinning into the net off the inside of the left-hand post. The noisy band of Iraqi fans erupted, which Shakir did a jig of delight, and they can now look forward to a trip to Kayseri in the quarterfinals."  Meanwhile CNN reports on a new sport growing in Iraq:

Leaping from rooftops and doing backflips off walls is when Prince Haydar feels the most free.
The 25-year-old from Baghdad is one of the city's small band of freerunners, who take every opportunity to practice parkour in a city striving for normality and currently facing a resurgence of deadly violence.
"When I do parkour, I get rid of all the scattered thoughts in my head and empty all the anger from inside me," said Haydar.
From the streets of Paris in the 1990s, where parkour was first popularized, to Zawra park in Iraq's capital, freerunning has become a global phenomenon.

Dropping back to yesterday's snapshot:

Today NINA reports:

The political bureau of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) published the points that have been agreed upon with the political bureau of the Democratic Party on the extension of the presidential term. According to the points, the constitution of the region will be modified by national consensus, while the extension of the presidential term will be linked to on condition that Massoud Barzani will not nominate again.

All Iraq News speaks with MP Latif Nirawi (a member of Talabani's PUK party) who discusses the same conditions.  Asked about the extension of the presidential term and the Constituional issues at stake during  the US State Dept press briefing today, spokesperson Jen Psaki was clearly caught off guard and responded, "I would just have to check with our Iraq folks on that for you and get you a response. I’m happy to do that."

Today, Jen Psaki was again asked about the matter in the State Dept press briefing (link is text and video):

QUESTION: Jen, could I just --

MS. PSAKI: Uh-huh.

QUESTION: Did you manage to get an answer to my question on Iraq yesterday?

MS. PSAKI: I did. I did. Thanks for bringing that up. So we’ve, of course, seen the press reporting and we will be engaging with officials there to discuss the implications of this decision. The United States supports regular, free and democratic elections as fundamental to ensuring the will of the people. And we are looking forward to seeing successful parliamentary and provincial elections in September in the Kurdish region. And we are confident that the new Kurdish regional parliament will take up issues of concern to the Kurdish people such as finalizing a regional constitution and presidential elections.

QUESTION: So you’re comfortable with the fact that the decision on whether to hold presidential elections will be postponed until the new Kurdish parliament meets post the elections in September?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think we’re hopeful that this will all happen soon and that they will undertake to put in place elections soon.

QUESTION: And in general, a two-year delay on holding presidential elections, how would you characterize that?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t want to characterize it other than to say that we’re hopeful that they’ll have these elections soon.

QUESTION: Okay. Thank you.

Today Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Pants On The Ground" went up noting Barack's humiliation from the NSA whistle-blowing Ed Snowden has done.  The media is against Ed Snowden and that includes the ones that are supposed to be left like the losers of MSNBC.  That includes Melissa Harris-Lacewell who's remarried again and has the name Melissa Harris-Parry.  She's destroyed her family life (and doesn't even know it) and she's just a little liar.  Ava and I called her out through out 2008, over and over, dubbed her Lie Face, noted "Black" Melissa vouching that Barack was "Black" even though he had a White mother probably should be telling Black audiences that she's got a White mommy too.  Instead, in some sort of reverse Imitation of Life, she denied her own mother and was left to sing "I'm Living In Shame" when not lying on television and radio as an analyst who 'forgot' to tell the hosts and audiences that she was working for Barack's campaign and had been since 2007.  Democracy Now!, Charlie Rose, so many shows she appeared on as an 'analyst' who forgot to explain she was working for the Barack Obama campaign.  It's what whores do -- even ugly ones with ratty, dollar store 'hair.'   It's why she's not at Princeton today.  That was a huge ethical violation and if others had joined Ava and I in calling her out, she might not have a show on MSNBC to lie from today.  At any rate, Bruce Dixon (Black Agenda Report) notes her non-stop attacks on Ed Snowden:

A day or two later Harris-Perry channeled the cop again, with a Snowden segment on her own show. Harris-Perry insisted from her comfy TV chair, that any whistleblower or dissenter who failed to meekly submit to whatever punishment authorities deign to mete out is illegitimate at least, possibly self-serving as well, though just how the self is served in such cases was unclear. She brought up Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, the state senator who filibustered in Texas, and the folks who get arrested for “Moral Mondays” in North Carolina every week, and later in the show, Dan Ellsberg..
Harris-Perry might be a bright professor, but on TV she's a lousy cop and a worse historian.
Nelson Mandela was on the run for years, a fugitive inside and outside South Africa, before being caught. The ANC maintained camps and facilities in African countries neighboring South Africa quite openly during the last decade or two of the apartheid regime, while receiving substantial aid from many African countries and most notably from the Soviet Union. They got none from the United States, by the way. Martin Luther King was arrested many but usually refused bail for a day or two while the press and religious leaders successfully clamored for his release. Dr. King never faced the prospect of felony time except once, briefly, for breaking a silly law against boycotting. King's longest stretch in jail was 11 days, during which he was allowed to write a short book, Letters From a Birmingham Jail, while receiving phone calls and interviews from people around the world.
Daniel Ellsberg was released on bond after no more than a day or two in custody, and the “Moral Monday” folks are typically booked for disorderly conduct or some such trivial offense.
None of that compares with the way the US treats political dissidents, and even suspected political dissidents today. Bradley Manning has been confined almost 3 years, the entire first year naked and in solitary confinement, no letters, no interviews, no phone calls, no writing materials, and a gag order slapped on his lawyers. What's a gag order mean? It means you can't talk about the case publicly or privately, sometimes that you can't tell an outsider the defendant says “happy irthday” to so-and-so. Veteran civil rights attorney Lynne Stewart is about to die in a federal prison for transmitting an innocuous public message from a defendant convicted of terrorism.
King was allowed to write a book in prison. Iman Jamil Al Amin, who as H. Rap Brown led SNCC and risked his life to start freedom schools, organize co-ops and register voters in rural Alabama was finally framed for the shooting of a deputy in Atlanta. To keep him from family and other Georgia prisoners, he was moved to federal custody and is now in an underground supermax cell half a continent away in Colorado, allowed one phone call and one letter to family per month. California prisoners found with just the name --- not his books, just the scrawled name --- of Black Panther leader George Jackson or other political items are classified as “gang members” and placed in automatic solitary confinement for the remainder of their sentences, which may also be lengthened due to that classification.

Yesterday, Dennis Bernstein (KPFA's Flashpoints Radio) spoke with Norman Solomon about the spying and, no surprise, neither was whoring.  They were also calling out those who were.

Dennis Bernstein:  And I'm concerned, Norman, that a driving force in Obama's ability to continue is the endlessly forgiving liberal community, his supporters.  Uh, the kinds of defenses I've heard of this from people I never expected to hear -- I'm not going to name names here -- but the kind of bending over backwards so far you have to break your spine to somehow defend what Obama has been doing is beyond belief. 

Norman Solomon: Yes, we've got to snap out of any tendency to  accept a policy which is reprehensible because we like the person or think that we have reason to like the person --

Dennis Bernstein: He's a good talker.

Norman Solomon:  Yeah and so if you just step back and you look at this massive surveillance program which has been by any measure extended in the last four and a half years by this administration.  And just step back and think "Now what if was McCain, what if it was Romney what if it was Bush instead of Obama in the Oval Office?"  It is no more acceptable no matter what the party or persona of the president.   And this gets down to matters of life and death in terms of endless war.  And it goes back to Civil Liberties and if we're going to retain the actuality of these precious amendments that we call the Bill of Rights,  particularly the First, Fourth and Fifth, then it is essential for us to say "we stand on principle." And that includes calling to account every member of Congress and Senator who claims to represent us and I'm talking about Barbara Lee we're broadcasting from her district in the East Bay but throughout California and the country  there are members of Congress who should be getting our phone calls and letters and we should not let them wriggle off the hook. All the platitudes don't do it. There's Obama administration perpetuating the surveillance state and it has to be challenged on that basis.

Dennis Bernstein:   If all of these revelations  came out under Bush I Bush II imagine if this came out under Shrub all these  liberals -- all these progressive -- they'd be like -- we'd be  'How could this Republican do this!'

Norman Solomon: Well there's that important principal: Be here now.  And that means being real about the political circumstances -- not that we wish we were or we expected we'd be  in but where we are now.  If you go back to the huge story which was delayed a year by the New York Times but did break in late 2005 revealing the NSA spying on Americans the wiretapping and so forth -- remember the huge uproar that was under President Bush?  And then we had candidate Obama for president saying, "I am opposed to  illegal infringement upon people's privacy rights.  I am opposed to illegal  wiretapping."   We didn't understand what he was saying.  We had a tendency to believe that, in 2008, what Obama was saying was he didn't want that kind of surveillance to go on because it was illegal.   What we now know and it's very clear is that President Obama does not want that surveillance to be illegal he wants it to be legalized, in fact he voted for that the FISA legislation in the middle of 2008 as a senator that's where we are now.  These surveillance measures, no matter what secret hand picked court says, they are unconstitutional they are fundamental violations of our rights.

 Joan Wile is the founder of Grandmothers Against the War and has written the book Grandmothers Against the War: Getting Off Our Fannies and Standing Up for Peace. She and others will be taking part in a peace celebration Thursday the 4th of July:


Norman Siegel, the eminent civil liberties attorney, got a  unique idea 44 years ago.  He decided that on July 4 he would go and sit quietly and read the Constitution and reflect on the principles underlying our Democracy.  He felt it was the most appropriate way to celebrate the holiday.

And, he did so for the next 36 years.  Wherever he was, he would find a perch somewhere in a quiet spot and read and reflect alone on the Constitution.

Seven years ago, he decided to make it a public event.  With the assistance of New York City's peace grannies -- the Raging Grannies, Grandmothers Against the War, and the Granny Peace Brigade -- he began his annual Reading of the Constitution in Strawberry Fields.

This year will mark the seventh Annual Reading in the lovely Central Park oasis created as a tribute to John Lennon by his widow Yoko Ono.  At noon on Thursday, July 4, Siegel and his many supporters will once again gather in Strawberry Fields to read aloud parts of the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the entire Declaration of Independence and discuss their principles in terms of recent decisions by the Supreme Court as well as revelations of increased U.S. Government surveillance practices.

The Reading has become a tradition for July 4 in New York City along with Nathan's hot dog eating contest and Macy's fireworks and is not to be missed by people concerned with how our government is adhering to the tenets of the great documents.

There will be guest commentators and entertainment by the Raging Grannies.

Everyone is welcome to attend at noon on July 4 in Strawberry Fields, entered at CPW and West 72nd Street.  Follow the path for a block at the STRAWBERRY FIELDS sign. 

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 joan wile