Tuesday, May 07, 2013

There's a time you gotta show you're growing now you know





Starting with the US . . .


Nerea Rial (New Europe) reports, "Hacking group Anonymous has launched OperationUSA (#OpUSA), a coordinated online attack against nine US government sites and more than 130 financial institutions for 7 May, according to a post published in Pastebin.  The attack, according to Anonymous, would be a response to social and political injustices. 'America you have committed multiple war crimes in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and recently you have committed war crimes in your own country'."  Rhonda Schwartz, Pierre Thomas and Lee Ferran (ABC News) add, "The Department of Homeland Security and the FBI are cautioning American government and financial institutions that they could be targets of a wave of cyber attacks Tuesday from Anonymous-linked hacktivists in the Middle East and North Africa."  Marshall Honorof (TechNewsDaily) reports that the specific government web sites said to be targeted are "the Pentagon, the National Security Agency, the FBI and the White House."   In other worries for the US government, there's been an arrest (which is not a conviction) of a high profile military officer.

David Martin (CBS News) reports that Air Force Lt Col Jeff Krusinski was arrested after he "approached a female victim in a parking lot and grabbed her breasts and buttocks."  Martin notes the alleged victim is said to have fought off Krusinski and his mug shot "shows signs of struggle on his face" -- cuts and scratches.  Jennifer Hlad (Stars and Stripes) identifies the 41-year-old accused as "the chief of the Air Force's sexual assault prevention and response branch."  Jim Miklaszewski, Courtney Kube and Tracy Connor (NBC News) notes that Kursinski had held that position for two months.  Luis Martinez (ABC News) quotes Air Force spokesperson Ann Stefanek stating the accused "was responsible for writing plans and programs that supported victims of sexual assault.  He worked on prevention programs for sexual assault."  Barbara Starr and Greg Seaby (CNN) add, "Arlington County police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck said the woman did not know her alleged attacker."  Jennifer Hlad notes the Air Force's other assault problem: James Wilkerson.  In November, Lt Col James Wilkerson was found guilty by a military court of assaulting a woman.  At the end of February, Lt Gen Craig A. Franklin gave an order releasing Wilkerson from prison and Franklin tossed aside the conviction.  March 13th, he was mentioned in the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Personnel hearing.  It was noted in that hearing (by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand) that 2011 saw "an estimated 19,000 sexual assaults."  Senator Clair McCaskill is a former prosecutor.  We'll note this from that hearing.

Senator Clair McCaskill:  Rape is the crime of a coward.  Rapists in the ranks are masquerading as real members of our military because our military is not about cowards.  Now our military does an amazing job of training.  I am so proud of our military.  But, unfortunately, I believe that this is not a crime that we're going to train our way out of because the crime of rape has nothing to do with sexual gratification, it has nothing to do with dirty jokes, and frankly there are a lot of studies that say it's not even connected necessarily with people who like to look at bad or dirty pictures.  It's a crime of assault, power, domination.  And I believe, based on my years of experience, that the only way that victims of sexual assault are going to feel empowered in the military is when they finally believe that the focus on the military is to get these guys and put them in prison.  So I believe that the focus of our efforts should be on effective prosecution and what do we need to do to make sure that these investigations are done promptly and professionally, that the victims are wrapped in good information, solid support and legal advice. 

 At this point, no trial has been held.  The legal system in the US is based upon innocent until proven guilty so that's what Jeff Krusinski currently is.

In DC today, the issue of Iraq came up in the briefing State Dept spokesperson Patrick Ventrell gave.

QUESTION: No phone calls at all?

MR. VENTRELL: He was in touch with President Maliki[1] in Iraq, but I don’t have any phone calls with Israelis to readout.

QUESTION: What about this phone call with Mr. Maliki?

MR. VENTRELL: Okay. Sure. One second here. Secretary Kerry called Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki over the weekend to discuss events in Iraq as well as in the region. The Secretary welcomed the recent discussions between Baghdad and Irbil and the commitment to follow through on important matters critical to Iraqi stability. The Secretary expressed condolences for the lives lost in Iraq in recent weeks and pledged continued support to Iraq’s counterterrorism efforts.
The Secretary also expressed concern about the potential for renewed sectarian conflict in Iraq and recognized the danger that the ongoing conflict in Syria poses for the region. And he urged Prime Minister Maliki to show restraint and flexibility in discussions with protesters, and stressed the need for all parties to refrain from violence and address legitimate grievances peacefully, in a manner consistent with the Iraqi constitution.
And finally the Secretary affirmed commitment of the United States, under the strategic framework agreement, to help all sides work toward sustainable compromises that will be essential to Iraq’s long term stability.

Iraq's long term stability?  What Secretary of State John Kerry should have expressed was outrage over the April 23rd massacre of a sit-in in Hawija when Nouri's federal forces stormed it.  Alsumaria noted Kirkuk's Department of Health (Hawija is in Kirkuk)  announced 50 activists have died and 110 were injured in the assault.  In response to the assault getting covered by the press, Nouri attempted to shut down several satellite channels.

Barbara Serra:  On April 28th, this past week, the Iraqi government revoked the operating licenses of ten satellite channels -- nine of them domestic, the tenth one being Al Jazeera Arabic.  The national Communication and Media Commission -- or the CMC -- accused the broadcasters of inciting and escalating the violence.  All but one of the channels are aligned with Sunni financial backers and the government's move is being seen as a crackdown on dissent by prime minister Nouri al-Maliki's majority Shia government. 

That was Barbara Serra on Saturday's Listening Post (Al Jazeera), introducing a segment by Flo Phillips in which Dahr Jamail explains, "There's a very clear division between what the government wants people to say in response to government policies and government actions and that which is reported by so much of the rest of Iraqi media.  If you look at recent events with the government crackdown on the protesters -- specifically killing of unarmed protesters Baghdad and Sharqiya, if you watch their coverage, they're going to have demonstrators on camera talking about what happened, being killed by Iraq forces.  This is exactly the message the Communication and Media Commission does not want these outlets to be broadcasting because it refutes the government's claims that these people are all terrorists."

Of this attempt at censorship, Sharif Nashashibi (Al Arabyia) points out:

This is brazen hypocrisy, and a classic example of shooting the messenger. It is unsurprising that those targeted do not include state media or pro-government news outlets. So much for the CMC’s laughable claim that its decision is not political.
“If the Iraqi government is truly committed to ending violence and sectarianism, it should reform the criminal justice system, hold the security forces accountable for attacks on protesters, and stop blocking elections in provinces in which it has little support,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, HRW’s Middle East director.
I doubt that even the authorities believe their own rhetoric. This is an act of desperation, in the wake of anti-government demonstrations that have grown considerably in frequency and size since last December, amidst the wider Arab Spring.
It is hard to fathom that Maliki would be so delusional as to think there would be no protest movement without these news organizations. Indeed, demonstrations have continued and intensified despite the authorities blocking journalists’ access to them since December.
The fact is that they are reporting events on the ground. That is their job, but the CMC is trying to ensure that they can no longer do so, because it is deeply damaging and embarrassing to the government. As such, the suspension has been widely condemned by media organizations, watchdogs and advocacy groups. “This draconian and disproportionate decision has seriously endangered freedom of information,” said Reporters Without Borders.

So it's a real shame that, based on the State Dept's read-out of the phone calls, John Kerry didn't bring this issue up.

It's also a shame that the US government can't call out the massacre.  The slaughter of the peaceful protesters in Hawija was already bad news.  Saturday it managed to turn into even worse news.  That's when UNICEF issued the following:

BAGHDAD, 4 May 2013“UNICEF has received substantial and credible information that up to eight children have been killed and up to 12 others seriously injured during violence in Hawija, near the city of Kirkuk in northern Iraq, on 23 April 2013.
“Among those reported to have been injured – all boys between the ages of 14 and 17 – several were said to have received severe gunshot wounds.
“UNICEF is extremely concerned about these reports and has requested the Government of Iraq to urgently investigate these cases.

“Children must be protected against all forms of violence and the Government needs to do more to actively promote and establish effective child protection policies, laws and systems.
“Children and their families in Iraq continue to bear the brunt of the violence and instability currently escalating across the country.”

Nouri's forces killed 8 children and "seriously injured" twelve more.  Human Rights Watch noted Saturday:

 A preliminary parliamentary committee report based in part on witness interviews and given to Human Rights Watch claims top Iraqi officials ordered a raid on a demonstrators’ camp on April 23, 2013, in Haweeja.
During the operation, scores of protesters and some soldiers died. The report provides evidence that Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, the defense minister, and senior defense and interior ministry officials may have ordered the raid, although it does not address what orders they issued concerning the use of force. It does claim that the defense minister and senior defense and interior ministry officials did not respond to warnings of excessive use of force by the security forces. The committee gave Human Rights Watch the preliminary findings of its investigation. Members of a separate ministerial committee named by Maliki to investigate the episode told Human Rights Watch that they seriously doubt they will be able to complete their work. The ministerial committee is inadequately resourced, stymied by lack of cooperation from security forces, and unlikely to lead to prosecutions or publish its conclusions, committee members told Human Rights Watch.
“The people of Iraq aren’t going to be fooled by a Potemkin inquiry into the killings at Haweeja,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “As the country teeters on the brink of further violence, the government is wasting a critical opportunity to restore confidence in its ability to achieve justice for the civilians and security forces who died on April 23.”

Dirk Adriaensens (BRussells Tribunal) reports on the Parliament's preliminary findings:

 The parliamentary investigative committee in the Hawija massacre, that left more than 50 peaceful protesters dead, revealed on Tuesday 30 April that 90% of the victims of the Iraqi SWAT team raid were shot in the head, abdomen and chest.  Some protesters were shot while their hands were tied behind their backs.  The report affirms that the protest area was free of weapons.  This confirms the claim made by the demonstration organizers, who assured the peaceful nature of the protest and vehemently denied possessing weapons or inciting violence.
Chairman of the Iraqi Parliamentary Human Rights Commission, MP Salim Al-Jabouri, revealed that “senior Iraqi military officers” were involved in the Hawija army raid. He claimed that these officers had “issued kill orders” to soldiers. “The issue does not stop at an army raid, but it goes beyond this to include executions and murder; while some of the wounded were specifically targeted. This represents a crime against humanity,” he added.
Minister of Industry & Minerals Ahmad Nasir Dilli al-Karbuli, Education Minister Muhammad Tamim, and Minister of Science & Technology Abd al-Karim al-Samarrai resigned as a reaction to the incidents.

And let's just repeat one more time that twelve children were seriously injured in this slaughter and 8 other children were killed.

Yesterday, AFP reported on the puppet Nouri tries to pretend is in charge of the Ministry of Defense (Nouri is in charge).  That would be  Saadun al-Dulaimi and he was calling the protesters terrorists and foreign agents or in control of foreign agents -- Basically, he was calling them everything but Iraqi citizens exercising their legal right to peacefully protest.  His crazy did not go unnoticed.  Alsumaria reports that the Parliament now wants al-Dulaimi to answer some questions about the Hawija massacre.

NINA adds that he's been called out by the protesters in Anbar Province for those remarks as well.  Mohammed al-Dulaimi is quoted stating, "The recent remarks by Saadoun al-Dulaimi reflect the government's hostility toward the protesters and Yards sit-in."  He calls the accusations malicious and says the judiciary should hold Saadoun accountable for the remarks.

BRussells Tribunal carries an open letter from Iraqi protesters to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon:

H.E. Ban Ki-moon, the Secretary-General of the United Nations - New York,

S/Ambassador Martin Kobler,

Iraqi People masses protester in the streets of Iraq presents its compliments to H.E. the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr. Ban Ki-moon and has the honor to mention the following:

The Iraqi people masses protesting Touched clearly that the representative of the United Nations Mission in Iraq, Mr. Martin Kobler has Indifference with what is happening of events in Iraq, especially the crimes against demonstrators in Hawija, and in all the streets of the protest. He did not show interest in executions by government authorities in Iraq and what is happening of large and severe violations of human rights guaranteed by the Iraqi simplest rules of national and international legal. He did not announce denunciation and condemnation of what is happening practices arrest, torture and murder of Iraqi prisoners.

The Iraqi People masse protesting in the streets would like to show it considers that the Ambassador Martin Kobler is persona non grata in Iraq, demanding drag and appoint someone else instead of him to be more interested in issues of the oppressed Iraqis, and not to be a follower of the wishes of the Iraqi government , curse openly criticizing and denounced the actions characterized by hatred and sectarianism, and raise the legitimate demands of the demonstrators to the General Secretariat of the United Nations and other international forums relevant quickly in a timely fashion without delay.

The Iraqi People masse peacefully waiting to respond to their legitimate demands, take this opportunity to express its thanks and great gratitude and appreciation.



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