BULLY BOY PRESS & CEDRIC'S BIG MIX -- THE KOOL-AID TABLE
REMEMBER WHEN PRESIDENTS USED TO GOVERN?
CELEBRITY IN CHIEF BARRY O IS TOO BUSY SCHEDULING HIS TAPINGS TO MAKE TIME FOR GOVERNANCE. WHEN NOT TAPING PROMOS FOR GEORGE LOPEZ' BASIC CABLE SHOW, BARRY O CAN BE FOUND SITTING ACROSS FROM DAVE LETTERMAN.
INDUSTRY OBSERVERS PREDICT BARRY O'S PERFORMANCE WILL RANK RIGHT UP THERE WITH "THE DIVINE PERRINE" A FLAKY VALERIE PERRINE WHO BLAMED HER PERFORMANCE ON HAVING JUST FLOWN TO NYC LEADING DAVE AND SANDRA BERHARND TO REPEATEDLY MAKE FUN OF HER AFTER SHE'D LEFT THE SET.
ONCE UPON A TIME PRESIDENTS WAITED UNTIL AFTER THEY GOT OUT OF OFFICE TO DISGRACE THE OFFICE: JUST LOOK AT JIMMY CARTER TODAY -- FRESH FROM ATTACKING ISRAEL, HE NOW TURNS HIS CRAZY EYES TOWARDS THE U.S.
FROM THE TCI WIRE:
Iraqi journalist Muntadhar al-Zeidi (also spelled Muntadar al-Zaidi in some outlets) has been released from pison today in Baghdad. December 14th, Bully Boy Bush (still occupying the White House at that time) held a press conference in Baghdad with Nouri al-Maliki, prime minister and US-installed thug, where they lied and smiled and signed the treaties Bush pushed through (Strategic Framework Agreement and the treaty masquerading as a Status Of Forces Agreement.). Muntadhar was a journalist attending the press conference."This is a gift from the Iraqis. This is the farewell kiss you dog!" Muntadhar exclaimed hurling a shoe at Bush. And then, hurling a second shoe, "This is from the widows, the orphans and those who were killed in Iraq." Nouri's thugs pounced on Muntadhar and beat him up. He was then whisked away and, for weeks, denied all but one visitation with his family and attorney. In December, many in the press (including the New York Times) ran with a forced confession, presenting it as truth and asking no questions about it. He was sentenced to three years in prison but released today. ITV News (video clip) covers the release here. Alice Fordham and Richard Spencer (Telegraph of London) explain, "The three-year jail term for assaulting a foreign head of state was reduced on appeal to one year, with a three-month remission for good conduct." Martin Chulov (Guardian) states the release "was met with muted celebration in Baghdad but rapturous applause in some corners of the Arab world, where the 30-year-old television journalist is feted as a David and Goliath figure for his act of defiance." BBC describes the scene at al Baghdadiya TV (where Muntadhar works): "Arriving at the al Baghdadiya compound, a trumpeter and two drummers sounded a welcome for Mr Zaidi - and in his honour, three sheep were slaughtered live on his own channel." Richard Spencer (Telegraph of London) adds a list of gifts being offered to the reporter such as, "The Emir of Qatar has offered a godlen statue of a horse."
BBC News reports Muntadhar stated today he was tortured: "Shortly after his release from nine months in a Baghdad prison, Muntadar al-Zaidi demanded an apology - and said he would name the officials later." Ned Parker and Mohammed Arrawi (Los Angeles Times) quote him stating today, ""Here I am free and the country is still a prisoner." Marc Santora (New York Times) adds, "He claimed that he was beaten with pipes, steel cables and electric shocks while in custody. He added that he believed there were many who would like to see him dead, including unnamed American intelligence agencies." Ahmeed Rasheed, Suadad al-Salhy, Khalid al-Ansary, Tim Cocks and Samia Nakhoul (Reuters) quote his bother Uday stating, "I wish Bush could see our happineess. When President Bush looks back and turns the pages of his life, he will see the shoes of Muntazer al-Zaidi on every page." Phillippe Naughton and Richard Kerbaj (Times of London) describe the reporter, "Sporting a thick beard and wearing a sash in the colours of the Iraqi national flag around his shoulders, Mr al-Zaidi was unrepentant after his release from jail after serving nine months of a one-year sentence." McClatchy Newspapers' Sahar Issa provides a full translation of Muntadhar's remarks and this is an excerpt:
Firstly, I give my thanks and my regards to everyone who stood beside me, whether inside my country, in the Islamic world, in the free world. There has been a lot of talk about the action and about the person who took it, and about the hero and the heroic act, and the symbol and the symbolic act. But, simply, I answer: What compelled me to confront is the injustice that befell my people, and how the occupation wanted to humiliate my homeland by putting it under its boot.
And how it wanted to crush the skulls of (the homeland's) sons under its boots, whether sheikhs, women, children or men. And during the past few years, more than a million martyrs fell by the bullets of the occupation and the country is now filled with more than 5 million orphans, a million widows and hundreds of thousands of maimed. And many millions of homeless because of displacement inside and outside the country.
We used to be a nation in which the Arab would share with the Turkman and the Kurd and the Assyrian and the Sabean and the Yazid his daily bread. And the Shiite would pray with the Sunni in one line. And the Muslim would celebrate with the Christian the birthday of Christ, may peace be upon him. And despite the fact that we shared hunger under sanctions for more than 10 years, for more than a decade.
Our patience and our solidarity did not make us forget the oppression. Until we were invaded by the illusion of liberation that some had. (The occupation) divided one brother from another, one neighbor from another, and the son from his uncle. It turned our homes into neverending funeral tents. And our graveyards spread into parks and roadsides. It is a plague. It is the occupation that is killing us, that is violating the houses of worship and the sanctity of our homes and that is throwing thousands daily into makeshift prisons.
I am not a hero, and I admit that. But I have a point of view and I have a stance. It humiliated me to see my country humiliated. And to see my Baghdad burned. And my people being killed. Thousands of tragic pictures remained in my head, and this weighs on me every day and pushes me toward the righteous path, the path of confrontation, the path of rejecting injustice, deceit and duplicity. It deprived me of a good night's sleep.
Dozens, no, hundreds, of images of massacres that would turn the hair of a newborn white used to bring tears to my eyes and wound me. The scandal of Abu Ghraib. The massacre of Fallujah, Najaf, Haditha, Sadr City, Basra, Diyala, Mosul, Tal Afar, and every inch of our wounded land. In the past years, I traveled through my burning land and saw with my own eyes the pain of the victims, and hear with my own ears the screams of the bereaved and the orphans. And a feeling of shame haunted me like an ugly name because I was powerless.
Again, that is an excerpt. A small one. He outlines many things in speech including the torture he says he experienced. McClatchy's Hannah Allam notes he states "Iraqi guards tortured him with whippings and electric shocks during his nine-month detention. He was missing at least one front tooth. The focus of Zaidi's speech Tuesday wasn't on his own ordeal, however, but the death and destruction that Iraqis have experienced since the U.S.-led invasion of 2003." CNN reports (link has text and video) he's now heading to Greece, citing his brother Dhirgham al-Zaidi, "for medical treatment."
His claims of torture are not surprising and Iraq's prisons were the subject of a report on Sunday by Alice Fordham (writing for the Christian Science Monitor):
In a room thick with heat and sweat, light from a small window falls on rows of squatting prisoners and plastic bags of belongings hung from nails on every inch of the wall. The guard explains that 74 men live in this room, which is roughly 10 by 20 feet. A further 85 are usually in the corridor, he adds, while 12 are kept next to the toilet.
This is Hibhib prison on the outskirts of Baquba, the dusty, volatile capital of Diyala Province roughly 40 miles from Baghdad.
It is just one of the prisons in the province where detainees and US forces allege overcrowding, lengthy pretrial detention, and torture used to extract confessions. While the conditions here may be more severe than elsewhere in the country, Iraq's national detention system as a whole has been harshly criticized by Western human rights organizations.
A December 2008 report by the New York-based watchdog Human Rights Watch (HRW) went as far as to assert a "disturbing continuity" with Saddam Hussein-era detention. A committee set up by the Iraqi government in June is investigating abuses. But a lack of accountability and political will, say human rights workers, are serious impediments to reversing the culture of abuse cultivated under Mr. Hussein.
US Vice President Joe Biden is in Iraq. He landed there today on an unannounced visit. Scott Wilson (Washington Post) reports of his landing, "As he emerged from his C-17 aircraft into a hot dusk about 4:50 p.m. local time, the vice president was greeted by Gen. Ray Odierno, the top U.S. commander in Iraq; U.S. Ambassador Christopher Hill; and Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari. Biden's national security adviser, Tony Blinken, and deputy secretary of State Jim Steinberg followed him through the welcome line." Karen Travers (ABC News) reports he stated he believes a referendum on the Status Of Forces Agreement will take place at some point. Edwin Chen (Bloomberg News) quotes his use of "optimistic" to describe US military leaders on Iraqi security forces abilities to increase security functions in their country and notes the top military commander in Iraq, Gen Ray Odierno, used the term "stable" to describe security in Iraq. Really? Too bad the news cycle already had an Odierno injection today. He'd just spoken to BBC News before the visit and painted a far bleaker picture: "It's important to see this through. I concern myself that people don't forget about Iraq, and what we're trying to accomplish here [. . .]" BBC: "BBC correspondent Andrew North says that Gen Odierno was choosing his words with care. But he was giving a clear message, that with the situation still fragile here, the US cannot leave Iraq early."
Karen Travers ABC news report is text but it does have video of Biden speaking in Iraq to reporters including when he declares, "I've made -- this is my third trip since we've been elected. The second trip since we've been sworn in and I'll be back -- I'll be back again. And, uh, I'm coming back to speak with the Iraq leadership." Iraqi leadership? In last Tuesday's snapshot, The Economist editorial entitled "Iraq's freedoms under threat: Could a police state return" was noted:
In any event, Mr Maliki and his friends are trying to secure as much control as they can over the levers of power in the run-up to a general election in January, all the more feverishly since a rash of big bombings in Baghdad in the past two months has badly dented his reputation as a guarantor of public safety. His government is also seeking to tighten rules to regulate political parties and independent associations (including charities), causing still more alarm. "This is not how you build a democracy," says Maysoon al-Damluji, a liberal member of parliament.
Chris Floyd (Empire Burlesque) weighs in on the editorial and notes a 2008 piece he wrote:
The 2008 post goes on to detail just some of the vast amount of information, readily available in mainstream newspapers and magazines, about the American use of death squads and "paramilitaries" to carry out "extrajudicial killings" of people accused -- by someone, somewhere, for some reason or no reason at all -- of being "terrorists" or "insurgents," or "bad guys," to use the playground parlance so favored by our high priests and their media acolytes. These killings, these "dirty squads," have been part of the occupation of Iraq since the beginning, as has the systematic use of torture and the unlawful detention of innocent people. That al-Maliki is carrying on the practices and policies of those who put him into power should come as no surprise -- not even to the Economist.
Last Thursday, Oliver August (Times of London) reported, "The Iraqi opposition accused Nouri al-Maliki, the Prime Minister, yesterday of purging the American-trained security apparatus so that he could attain quasi-dictatorial powers. Mr al-Maliki, who is facing a tough election battle, has dismissed three high-profile members of the Ministry of Interior, which oversees the fight against insurgent groups. He has also forced the resignation of the head of the intelligence service and replaced several police and army commanders in the last few weeks. The moves provoked outrage among political opponents, who worry about the rise of a new police state and accuse the Prime Minister of using the aftermath of last month's massive bomb attack in Baghdad to make a power grab." Gina Chon (Wall St. Journal) reports today that Nouri's "embarked on a charm offensive agmong Shiites in the south of the country, a crucial but fickle electorate, in his bid to hold on to power in Iraq's January parliamentary vote." The voters he is hoping to woo complain about public services including the water -- or lack of -- which lead Nouri to promise a multi-million dollar project that will provide Basra with potable water. Suddenly, that's an issue. It's funny how when Nouri hits the campaign trail he appears to 'discover' that not everyone lives in the lap of luxury he does.
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