Today Military Families Speak Out notes the passing of Charlie Richardson "on May 4th, 2012 at home after a six-year battle with cancer". They note: The seeds of MFSO were sown in the summer of 2002 when Charley’s son,
a U.S. Marine, was being deployed and it became clear he would most
likely be ending up in Iraq. As life-long peace and labor activists,
Charley, and his wife Nancy Lessin, knew they couldn’t sit by silently
while their son was being sent into harm’s way, to a war that should not
be happening, an illegal and immoral war of aggression. They brought a
sign to anti-war protests with their son’s picture on it that said, “Our
Son Is A Marine – Don’t Send Him to War for Oil!” Charley and Nancy
were overwhelmed by the response they received to the power of their
voice as a military family protesting the war. At one of these rallies they met another a father whose son was facing deployment to Kuwait. Together, they formed Military Families Speak Out
to organize and amplify the voices of military families in opposition
to an invasion of Iraq. Just months later, Nancy and Charley spoke at a
press conference, offering their home phone number for MFSO; within
days, two hundred families from around the country joined the
organization. In February, 2003 Charley and Nancy were lead plaintiffs in a lawsuit
against then-President George W. Bush and Secretary of Defense Donald
Rumsfeld, calling for a temporary restraining order that would prevent
the U.S. from invading Iraq until there was a congressionally mandated
declaration of war. Three active-duty service members, other MFSO
members and twelve Members of Congress were part of that lawsuit. The
case went two rounds in the First Circuit Court of Appeals, and finally
failed on March 18, 2003. The bombs dropped on Baghdad the next day. For the next two years MFSO existed in Charley and Nancy’s living
room. On top of their day jobs as prominent labor activists, Nancy and
Charley wrote grant proposals, helped members start chapters, trained
families on how to speak to the media and pushed tirelessly to create a
home for families like them, who had loved ones in the military and were
opposed to the war. Families came to them with the same story. “Thank
God I found you. I thought I was the only one! What can I do to be a
part of this?”
Staying with the topic of peace, Yavuz Baydar (Al-Monitor) notes, "Sticking to its promises, the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK)
appears to have started pulling out from Turkey as agreed with Ankara.
At least 50 militants are said to have crossed into Iraqi Kurdistan
since May 8." At her site last night, Betty continued the conversation about how ridiculous Nouri looked for declaring Thursday that the PKK could not come into Iraq. World Bulletin News quotes
Turkey's Foreign Ministry, "This announcement seems to result more from
the contestations between Baghdad and Erbil. It is obvious that the
PKK withdrawing from Turkey will not be a threat to anyone, and that
they will leave behind terror. We are not sending terrorists to another
country to organize attacks. Therefore there is no reason to worry.
The PKK came from Iraq anyway and would enter and exit periodically.
Why are they now a problem?"
Background. Turkey has been the part of many histroical empires -- including the
Hittite, Byzantine and the Ottoman Empire. From 1918 to 1922,
Constantinople was occupied by the French, British and Italians. The
native population fought back, expelled the occupiers and the Republic
of Turkey was created. That's a very brief and incomplete history of
Turkey. Aaron Hess (International Socialist Review) described the PKK in 2008,
"The PKK emerged in 1984 as a major force in response to Turkey's
oppression of its Kurdish population. Since the late 1970s, Turkey has
waged a relentless war of attrition that has killed tens of thousands of
Kurds and driven millions from their homes. The Kurds are the world's
largest stateless population -- whose main population concentration
straddles Turkey, Iraq, Iran, and Syria -- and have been the victims of
imperialist wars and manipulation since the colonial period. While
Turkey has granted limited rights to the Kurds in recent years in order
to accommodate the European Union, which it seeks to join, even these
are now at risk." May 8th saw the start of a process the two sides had spent some time negotiating.
While the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government in the north is
where the PKK will go, it has been the central government out of Baghdad
which has spent the week complaining. Along with Nouri, you've had his
Cabinet members launch various verbal attacks on Turkey. How bad is
it? So bad that Nouri's government figured they better make nice with
another neighbor. Al-Shorfa reports,
"Iraq has re-opened its land border crossing with Jordan two weeks
after closing it for security reasons, Anbar's local government said
Jordan, like Turkey on Sunday and Syria previously, has been accused by
Nouri and his Cabinet in the past of being responsible for the ongoing
protests in Iraq which kicked off December 21st and continued today. Iraqi Spring MC reports that a Reuters reporters has been detained in Anbar while attempting to cover a protest. In related news, the National Iraqi News Agency reports,
"Police forces prevented the media and journalists from entering the
Mosque of Muhammad Rasoolollah in the city of Kirkuk to cover the
unified Friday prayers." Falluja is in Anbar and the sit-in continues there. In this Iraqi Spring MC video, the speaker in Falluja rejects the division of Iraq. Today's protests were about unity and dignity and a unified Iraq. Alsumaria notes
the Ramadi protest saw tens of thousands turn out to celebrate dignity
and choose peace. They called on the United Nations and the religious
authorities to curb Nouri's lust for power. NINA reports
that the Ramadi and Falluja protesters "demonstrated after Friday
unified prayers on The international road condemned the double standard
policy of Maliki government in dealing with Iraqi people component and
demanded to bring down such a government."
It was another bad day for prime minister and chief thug Nouri al-Maliki. Alsumaria reports
that cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr declared his sympathy
for the Iraqis who've lost family members as a result of the purchase
and use by Nouri's government of 'magic' wands -- which have been known
not to work since 2009. Moqtada urged the families who lost loved ones
and those who were injured as a result to sue the person who purchased
the items. (That would be Nouri.) April 23rd (see the April 24, 2013 snapshot),
James McCormick, the man who made and sold the wands, who was on trial for those wands,
was pronounced guilty on three counts of fraud. And still Nouri has
allowed -- no, insisted that the wands be used. May 2nd, McCormick was sentenced to a maxium of 10 years. Jake Ryan (Sun) quoted
Judge Richard Hone stating, "The device was useless, the profit
outrageous and your culpability as a fraudster has to be placed in the
highest category. Your profits were obscene. You have neither insight,
shame or any sense of remorse." And yet last Friday, Ammar Karim (AFP) reported
that the 'magic' wands to 'detect' bombs (and
drugs and, no doubt, spirits from the other world) are still being used
in Iraq. He spoke with a police officer in Baghdad who admits that
everyone knows that they don't work but that the police are under orders
to use the wands.
Last Saturday, NINA reported,
"Leader of the Sadrist Trend, Muqtada al-Sadr, demanded Prime Minister
Nuri al-Maliki to apologize and stand before Parliament to answer about
the deal of the explosives detection instruments." Moqtada suspects
Iraqis were bribed in this deal and wants names he also demands that the
'magic' wands stop being used immediately stating that they are "an
insult to the Iraqis' intelligence." Moqtada and Iraqiya have called
for Nouri to appear before Parliament and explain why the wands were
purchased, who profited from them and the various details of the deal
that was made for them.
Al Mada reports
that the Ministry of the Interior claimed today that they would recover
all the money spent on the magic wands. Ministry of the Interior
Inspector General Aqeel Turaihi states that they have known and
acknowledged since October 2010 that the magic wands do not work.
REACHED FOR COMMENT BY THESE REPORTERS, BARRY O SAID A NEW IDEA WOULD PARALYZE THE COUNTRY, "WE KNOW WHAT WE'RE DOING. TRUST US. WE'RE THE ADULTS IN THE ROOM. WHAT!!!! OH COME ON! GUYS, WHO TOOK MY JUICE BOX? YOU KNEW THAT WAS MY JUICE BOX!"
Lynne Stewart is a US political prisoner. For the 'crime' of issuing a press release, she was eventually tossed in prison. The'crime' happened on Attorney General Janet Reno's watch. Reno has her detractors who think she was far too tough as Attorney General. She also has her supporters who see her as a moderate. No one saw her as 'soft.' Reno had her Justice Department review what happened. There was no talk of a trial because there was no crime. No law was broken. The Justice Department imposes guidelines -- not written by Congress, so not laws -- on attorneys. Lynne was made to review the guidelines and told not to break it again. That was her 'punishment' under Janet Reno. Bully Boy Bush comes into office and the already decided incident becomes a way for Attorney General John Ashcroft to try to build a name for himself. He goes on David Letterman's show to announce, after 9-11, that they're prosecuting Lynne for terrorism.
Eventually tossed in prison? Even Bully Boy Bush allowed Lynne to remain out on appeal. It's only when Barack Obama becomes president that Lynne gets tossed in prison. It's only under Barack that the US Justice Depart disputes the judge's sentence and demands a harsher one (under the original sentence Lynne would be out now). Lynne's cancer has returned.
Her husband Ralph Poynter and Mya Shone and Ralph Schoenman provide an important update this week:
A major milestone has been reached in the struggle for Lynne Stewart's freedom. Lynne Stewart wrote on April 26 to confirm that the Warden at FMC Carswell recommended Compassionate Release to the Federal Bureau of Prisons. “So Happy that the Compassionate Release was granted at Carswell and we are on the road!!! "Who DID It? --- The People Yes – and we certainly deserve a VICTORY and this is one for sure!!” With this dramatic development, the International Campaign to Save the Life of Lynne Stewart crossed a critical threshold. We directed our attention immediately to Charles E. Samuels, Jr., the Director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Following two expedited communications from former Attorney General Ramsey Clark, a probation officer charged with inspecting the residence designated for Lynne Stewart's recovery was dispatched to the home of her son, attorney Geoffrey Stewart. Soon afterwards, we were notified that the residence was approved. Thus, another hurdle has been overcome, paving the way for Lynne Stewart's Compassionate Release. There is no time to lose. Lynne Stewart has been in quarantine for several weeks at FMC Carswell since her white blood count dropped precipitously. As Ramsey Clark wrote to BOP Director Samuels: "Further medical tests reveal that the cancer that had metastasized rapidly to her lungs, lymph nodes and shoulder remains aggressive. If the series of chemotherapy treatments slowed its spread in certain areas, it has not attenuated in her lungs. … The sustained treatment and preparations by the medical team at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City are critical to her survival.” This is the moment to intensify our global mobilization. We must prevail upon the director of the Bureau of Prisons to file the motion for compassionate release with Judge John Koetl, the sentencing judge. ASK FIVE OF YOUR FRIENDS OR COLLEAGUES TO SIGN THE PETITION. PUT THE PETITION ON YOUR FACEBOOK PAGE AND SEND A TWITTER MESSAGE NOW. Among the latest signers are: Fr. Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann, Bianca Jagger, Margaret Ratner Kunstler, Mark Lane, Noam Chomsky, Medea Benjamin, Rosa Clemente, Kathy Kelly, James Ridgeway and William Blum.
Charles E. Samuels Jr. Federal Bureau of Prisons 320 First Street, NW Washington, DC 20534
Lynne's been there when people have needed her -- everyone from so-called 'respectable' people to people no one else would help. That's how she earned the title of "The People's Attorney." She never should have been put in prison in the first place and she needs to be out now to get the treatment she needs, to have the support system of her family and her friends (and a support system is very important when you're being treated for cancer). She turns 74 this year. She's not a threat to anyone and she needs to be home.
Julian Assange and WikiLeaks. I referred in the Tuesday snapshot to how Julian loses his case. A number of people want clarification. If the goal is to get Julian Assange out of London to Ecuador, then they're again bungling everything.
Julian Assange is a divisive figure. You may not like that fact if he's your hero or someone you support but the ugly truth needs to be told and it needs to be recognized. What his legal team wrongly thinks is that they can 'humanize' Julian Assange. No.
That will not happen. Assange is not an unknown where the problem is people just don't know him. He's not a cypher that you can write a new pattern over. He is a known. And he pisses a number of people off. If you want him out of the Embassy in London, you need to quit lying and start recognizing reality.
Before the rape allegations emerged, Julian Assange were already divisive. Long before they emerged, South Parkwas mocking him (he was a rat). He's also seen as an ego maniac. We can list all of his negatives but, if you're honest with yourself, you know how he's seen.
The key to Assange's freedom is not Celebrity Profile Assange!
And every time one of those appears, he looks stupid (and trivial) to all but his small fan base. That's not enough support. To garner more support, his legal team needs to grasp that WikiLeaks is more popular than Julian. When he gives interviews, he needs to be talking about WikiLeaks. No one needs his thoughts on today's 'hot topics.' He needs to give interviews where he talks about what WikiLeaks has done but, most importantly, what WikiLeaks can do, what's up next.
Julian Assange's value is limited. He's one person and not someone who polls well. (As his legal team knows from repeat polling but they keep kidding themselves that they're just one soft feature away from convincing the people that they actually love Assange.) WikiLeaks is where the value is -- provided WikiLeaks is publishing. WikiLeaks as a curio from the past? Not going to motivate people. WikiLeaks still active today (which it is) and that the focus of any Julian Assange interview is what lets his issues become issues that matter.
You tie him into WikiLeaks, you make the case for WikiLeaks. He doesn't become more likable in the process but he's off the table. It's no longer bout what Julian does as Julian Assange it's about what WikiLeaks does. I've made this argument repeatedly. People nod (I'm thinking of two of his attorneys) and claim insight. But then we get the nonsense like the Chris Hedges interview. Chris is going to softball Julian. He's going to fluff. He's the best (most favorable) interviewer Julian could have. And Julian and Michael Ratner wasted that interview with crap like what Julian Assange thinks about gay people in the military.
No one cares. Leave aside that the repeated use of "homosexual" at a time when most say "gay and lesbian" made it seem as if Julian was ridiculing gays and lesbians, there was no need for the topic and it had nothing to do with WikiLeaks. Every time he goes off topic, he risks saying something offensive and his favorables are so low he can't afford to turn off any more people.
The topic has to be WikiLeaks. By hard selling its past impact, its current work and, most important, where the future leads for WikiLeaks, you're suddenly on the issues that more people care about and you're making a case for extraditing Assange by sketching out something much more important than one person.
Matt Sledge (Huffington Post) reports, "Fed up with the military's limits on access to the court martial of Bradley Manning, the Army private who has admitted to sending hundreds of thousands of sensitive documents to the transparency organization WikiLeaks, a nonprofit group announced Thursday that it is crowdfunding a court stenographer to create daily trial transcripts." That's a topic that should have been raised with Chris Hedges. That's the sort of thing that WikiLeaks needs to be doing.
Vivienne Westwood revolutionized fashion beginning with the punk movement in the 70s so she was a natural for the Metropolitan Museum of Art's gala this week celebrating the exhibit PUNK: Chaos To Courture (which runs through August 14th). Karen Dacre (Evening Standard) reports, "The inimitable Vivienne Westwood -- a vision in a pale pink kimono and grey ruched waist dress from her own label -- led the charge. And rightly so, the British designer is the godmother of the era this whole evening was devised to celebrate." But not everyone was impressed. Lucy Waterlow (Daily Mail) explains that, on the red carpet, Vivienne was questioned by Vogue's Billy Norwich on a live feed and Norwich quickly cut her off. Norwich was bothered by her brooch and her discussing it. Michael Dickinson (CounterPunch) explains Vivienne's brooch was a large photo of Bradley Manning with the word "TRUTH" on it and that Norwich cut her off after Vivienne said: The most important thing is my jewelry, which is a picture of Bradley Manning. I’m here to promote Bradley. He needs public support for what’s going on with secret trials and trying to lock him away. He’s the bravest of the brave, and that’s what I really want to say more than anything. Because punk, when I did punk all those years ago, my motive was the same: Justice, and to try to have a better world. It really was about that. I’ve got different methods nowadays.
The background on whistle blower Bradley Manning. Monday April 5, 2010, WikiLeaks released US military video of a July 12, 2007 assault in Iraq. 12 people were killed in the assault including two Reuters journalists Namie Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh. Monday June 7, 2010, the US military announced that they had arrested Bradley Manning and he stood accused of being the leaker of the video. Leila Fadel (Washington Post) reported in August 2010 that Manning had been charged -- "two charges under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The first encompasses four counts of violating Army regulations by transferring classified information to his personal computer between November and May and adding unauthorized software to a classified computer system. The second comprises eight counts of violating federal laws governing the handling of classified information." In March, 2011, David S. Cloud (Los Angeles Times) reported that the military has added 22 additional counts to the charges including one that could be seen as "aiding the enemy" which could result in the death penalty if convicted. The Article 32 hearing took place in December. At the start of this year, there was an Article 32 hearing and, February 3rd, it was announced that the government would be moving forward with a court-martial. Bradley has yet to enter a plea. The court-martial was supposed to begin before the November 2012 election but it was postponed until after the election so that Barack wouldn't have to run on a record of his actual actions. Independent.ie adds, "A court martial is set to be held in June at Ford Meade in Maryland, with supporters treating him as a hero, but opponents describing him as a traitor." February 28th, Bradley admitted he leaked to WikiLeaks. And why.
Bradley Manning: In attempting to conduct counter-terrorism or CT and counter-insurgency COIN operations we became obsessed with capturing and killing human targets on lists and not being suspicious of and avoiding cooperation with our Host Nation partners, and ignoring the second and third order effects of accomplishing short-term goals and missions. I believe that if the general public, especially the American public, had access to the information contained within the CIDNE-I and CIDNE-A tables this could spark a domestic debate on the role of the military and our foreign policy in general as [missed word] as it related to Iraq and Afghanistan. I also believed the detailed analysis of the data over a long period of time by different sectors of society might cause society to reevaluate the need or even the desire to even to engage in counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations that ignore the complex dynamics of the people living in the effected environment everyday.
"FIELD TRIPS"? DID JAY CARNEY CUT THE CRUST OFF THE SANDWICHES BEFORE THEY LET HIM LEAVE ON HIS "FIELD TRIP."
THE "FIELD TRIPS" WILL ALLOW BARRY O TO GIVE, YES, "MORE SPEECHES" ABOUT CREATING JOBS.
THE SPEECHES LOST THEIR LUSTER ABOUT FOUR YEARS AGO BECAUSE JUST TALKING ABOUT JOBS DOESN'T GIVE ANYONE A JOB. BARRY O IS IN THE 5TH YEAR OF HIS
PRESIDENCY AND HE'S FAILED TO CREATE JOBS.
BUT HAVING FAILED AT GUN CONTROL AND ALWAYS A CHICKEN WHEN IT COMES TO IMMIGRATION, HE DECIDED IT WAS THAT TIME OF THE YEAR WHERE HE PRETENDS TO CARE ABOUT UNEMPLOYMENT AND OFFERS A FEW SPEECHES ON THE TOPIC.
REACHED FOR COMMENT BY THESE REPORTERS, AN ANIMATED BARRY O JUMPED FROM FOOT TO FOOT AS HE EXPLAINED, "I PROMISED I WOULDN'T WANDER OFF AND THAT I WOULDN'T ROUGH HOUSE. THIS IS GOING TO BE SO MUCH FUN! WHERE'S MY JUICE PACK? JAY!!!! WHERE'S MY JUICE PACK?"
In peace news, a nun and two activists have been convicted today. Al Stefanelli (God Discussion) explains, "It is known as the 'Fort Knox' of nuclear storage facilities. Within is what is known as 'highly enriched uranium.' Located in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, the Y-12 National Security Complex is supposed to be an impenetrable fortress. It was breached by three senior citizens, armed with flashlights and a bolt cutter. One of these is an octogenarian nun.Sister Megan Rice, 83, along with 57-year-old Greg Boertje-Obed and Michael Walli, 63 [. . .]" Tricia Escobedo (CNN -- link is text and video) adds, "Armed with flashlights and a bolt cutter, they cut their way through the fence, fully expecting to be arrested on the spot. Instead, they walked nearly a mile, cutting through four fences in all, breaching what was supposed to be the most tightly secured uranium processing and storage facility in the country."
Rice said she didn't feel obligated to ask the Catholic bishop in the area for permission to act at Y-12. Challenged by a prosecutor about whether it would have been a courtesy to inform superiors of her plans, Rice responded: "I've been guilty of many discourtesies in my life."
The stage was set for Sister Megan Rice. Sister Megan took the stand after 5:00pm and spoke for almost an hour, and yet she commanded the attention of every last juror. The whole room listened in rapt attention as she responded to Francis Lloyd’s questions, describing her early childhood realization of the horrors of nuclear weapons, her education in radiation biology in her master’s program at Boston College, and her missionary work in Africa, teaching science and building schools. She spoke of the sacredness of the Nevada desert, taken from the Shoshone people ("illegally, breaking a treaty") and desecrated by the effects of nuclear testing; she spoke of the suffering of downwinders, the cancer caused in people and animals, and the $6 million apiece spent on each test. She spoke of the transformative power of her participation in the Nevada Desert Experience. Besides the "harmonious vibrations" emitted by the mountains and all the earth, Sister Megan also felt in Nevada “the culture of silence, the culture of secrecy” surrounding weapons testing and its consequences. "It was extremely clarifying about the reality of the military industrial complex of this country." Fast-forward to July 28, 2012. As Megan, Greg, and Michael approached Y-12, Megan says they "prayed together, we were filled with love and compassion" for the people who had to work in such a dangerous facility. "We wanted to bring love and healing." She felt led by the Holy Spirit, and was more and more surprised to find herself reaching the heart of Y-12. When Francis asked her about the surveillance tape footage and the way she bowed to Mr. Garland, Megan explained the Buddhist tradition of deeply reverencing each living being. In response to questions about the extent of the damage she did, she said lightly, "I could have repaired it!" As 6:00 approached, Sister Megan was still not quite finished answering Francis’s questions. The judge dismissed the jury anyhow, and when he did, Megan stood, folded her hands in front of her, and bowed to the jurors as they filed past the witness box.
Last August, Scripps Interactive Newspapers Group posted a video by Adam Brimer (Knoxville News Sentinel) of an interview with Sister Megan Rice during which she declares of the action, "We were doing it because we knew we had to reveal the truth of the criminality which is there -- and that's our obligation."
(Washington, D.C.) – Today, during a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) questioned Secretary of the Air Force Michael B. Donley and Gen. Mark A Welsh III, Chief of Staff of the Air Force, on the issue of sexual assaults in the military, including recent allegations made against an Air Force official, and strongly urged them to revisit the current culture that fosters these attacks. Yesterday, Senator Murray and Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) introduced theCombating Military Sexual Assault Act of 2013, which would reduce sexual assaults within the military and address a number of gaps within current law and policy, building upon the positive steps the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) has taken in recent years.
“The fact that the SAPRO report that was released yesterday says that 62 percent of servicemembers who report sexual assaults are retaliated against is really disconcerting,” said Senator Murray. “Because if people are retaliated against and there’s that fear of retaliation, we will never be able to stop this. So can you please address that issue and talk to us about how we need to make sure that the chain of command issue is not preventing these people from really being protected from ever having someone go after them if they commit one of these heinous acts?”
A key provision of the Combating MSA Act is the formation of a new category of legal advocates, called Special Victims Counsels (SVCs), who would be responsible for advocating on behalf of the interests of the victim as well as advise the victim on the range of legal issues they may face. The formation of the SVCs was modeled after a current Air Force pilot program, which General Welsh addressed during today’s hearing.
“In the victim care arena, we believe one -- maybe the first game-changing thing we found, one of that collection of things we need to incorporate, is the special victims counsel program,” said General Welsh. “The initial returns on the special victims counsel program lead us to believe that victims are very happy with the legal advice they get from the time they're assigned to the time they complete their legal proceedings. We now have 265 victims from the last year assigned to the special victims counsel.That person's job is the represent that victim and guide them through the legal morass that goes along with prosecution of these cases. It's intimidating. It's scary. And if you don't understand the law, it is completely, completely baffling…So we think special victims counsel will help over time. And we think the results of the pilot program we're doing here will demonstrate that.”
Senator Murray is the Chair of the Senate Budget Committee. She also serves on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee (which she was the Chair of until this year). The issue is one that she has repeatedly raised and there may be more urgency for the Congress to address this issue as a result of the arrest that became public Monday of Air Force Lt Col Jeff Krusinski who is charged with assaulting a woman in a parking lot and who had been, as Jennifer Hlad (Stars and Stripes) noted, "the chief of the Air Force's sexual assault prevention and response branch."
Kelley B. Vlahos (Antiwar.com) notes what's going on and why the United States should be focusing: According to UNICEF, 5.2 percent of children under the age of 17 experienced the death of one or more parent during the 2003 war and aftermath. The number of orphans in Iraq vary, with estimates at 800,000, all the way up to 3.5 million. The state-run orphanages are a scandal, with no investment and no child protection laws in place to speak of. Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and non-profits struggle, but find it hard to keep up with the demand, they say. According to UNICEF back in November, one-third of Iraqi’s 16.6 million children are lacking basic fundamental rights, like access to physical and mental health care, education, safety against domestic violence, and treatment for disabilities. While we cannot expect the American public to focus on the tragedy of every child in every wretched place of the earth, Iraq is a particularly special tragedy because America caused it, then walked away. There is no other way to describe it when War Child, in its aforementioned report, points to the fact that international aid to Iraq went from $20 billion in 2005 to $1.5 billion in 2011. We know the U.S is responsible for most of the total aid, yet when the military pulled up stakes in 2009, the reconstruction and development effort largely went with it, leaving behind unfinished, unsustainable projects, and a nation broken by the occupation and civil war. Even Ryan Crocker, loyal Washington diplomat and former ambassador to both Iraq and Afghanistan, recently described the war/post-war ethos thusly: “let’s punch out their lights and realign their society…and then when we find out the latter is more difficult than we expect, we say ‘OK, let’s go somewhere else.’”
The Australian carries a wire service report which quotes UNICEF's Iraq representative Marzio Babille stating that "all boys between the ages of 14 and 17 -- several were said to have received severe gunshot wounds." What's Babille speaking of? 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. AFP has been reporting 53 dead for several days now -- indicating that some of the wounded did not recover. Over the weekend, UNICEF noted that the dead included 8 children (twelve more were injured). AKI notes that the youngest killed at the protest was a 13-year-old and that all who were killed died from gunshot wounds. Yassin al-Sabawi (Kirkuk Now) reports, "The administration council of Hawija has halted their duties as a tribute to the violence but the schools and service establishments are open." Ali Abel Sadah (Al-Monitor) notes another response, youths are arming themselves in Anbar, Kirkuk and Mosul "to protect protesters, should they be subjected to an attack similar to the one that occured in Hawija." Sadah adds that "carrying weapons is necessary, according to tribal traditions in Iraq. After tribal members are killed, their relatives believe they have to avenge their death and defend their peers."
Al Mada reports that Iraqiya leader Ayad Allawi is calling for Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi to formally question Saadun al-Dulaimi who is fronting the Ministry of Defense for Nouri al-Maliki. Iraqiya bested Nouri's State of Law in the 2010 elections. Nouri has refused to nominate anyone to head the Ministry of Defense so he retains control while insisting that Saadun al-Dulaimi is the 'acting' official in charge. Allawi states Saadun slumbered in "deep sleep" while Nouri's SWAT forces carried out the massacre. Allawi also characterized Saadun's charge remarks on Sunday as "irresponsible."
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.
All Iraq News notes that one of the first decisions the legislative body made was to allocated one billion Iraqi dinars to the provinces effected by flooding. From yesterday's snapshot: Over the weekend, it rained in Wasit Province. Heavy rains. What does that mean? All Iraq News explained displace families as a result of the flooding: "Dozens of families were forced to evacuate their residences leaving their livestock behind, heading towards Sheikh Saad district of southern Wasit province since their villages and their mud-hut houses were swept due to rain floods." As we were noting Friday, "Anytime heavy rains are forecast, various areas of Iraq have to worry about flooding because Nouri's failed in his seven years as prime minister to fix the sewage system." Alsumaria noted that the International Red Crescent Society has helped over 200 families Saturday in Maysan Province who also saw the heavy rains flood their streets and homes. Alsumaria reports that the Iraqi Red Crescent Society was conducting air relief missions in Diyala Province while Nouri's Cabinet allocated 100 million dinars each for flood relief in Wasit, Maysan and Dhi Qar Provinces. (That's roughly $86,000 for each province in US dollars.) Al Rafidyan reports that a natural damn has collapsed in Maysan Province and led to 61 villages being flooded while yesterday, the Iraqi Red Crescent Society announced, 4 people (two of which were children) died in Wasit when their homes collapsed due to flooding. Over 50 other homes have collapsed in Wasit and Maysan due to flooding in the last days.
Al Mada reports that the flooding has cut off roads, including one in to Baghdad, that families have been left standing out in the open, unprotected from the rain, some of the luckier ones are in tents set up by the Iraqi Red Crescent Society or seeking shelter in public government buildings. The effected areas are inhabited by hundreds of thousands of people.
Nouri's failures are so many. Including the 'magic' wands that detect bombs . . . but don't. And are still being used in Iraq under Nouri's orders. Dar Addustour reports that the Ministry of the Interior (over the police) is insisting that politicians should not be talking about this and that talk is politicizing the issue. The issues are that a fortune was spent on 'magic' wands that don't work, that in 2009 the wands were exposed as fake, that the man who made and sold them got convicted last month in a British court and yet Nouri still orders these wands that do nothing to be used. The National Alliance is a Shi'ite political body. Alsumaria reports that their MP Shirwan Waeli is describing the use of the wands as "genocide."
Which is what it is -- that or "assisted murder." If you're ordering the police to use these wands that don't work, you're not just having them use a device that does nothing. You're also grabbing the time that they could be using to prevent violence and wasting it, throwing it away. Nouri needs to face answers in Parliament about this -- as Moqtada al-Sadr said on Saturday.
THOUGH THAT WAS PROBABLY SUPPOSED TO MAKE THE WORLD SEE BARRY O AS STRONG AND ATHLETIC, IT JUST MADE HIM SEEM LIKE JO ON THE FACTS OF LIFE WHEN HARRISON ANDREWS TAKES HER TO THE 9TH GREEN AND ATTEMPTS TO RAPE HER. LET'S HOPE MRS. GARRETT ARMED BARRY O WITH A SHARP HIGH HEEL SO THERE WAS NO "PUTTING ACTION ON THE 9TH GREEN."
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.
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
MR. VENTRELL: He was in touch with President Maliki in Iraq, but I don’t have any phone calls with Israelis to readout.
QUESTION: Okay. 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
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.”
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
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.”
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
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.
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.
H.E. Ban Ki-moon, the Secretary-General of the United Nations - New York,
S/Ambassador Martin Kobler,
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:
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.
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.
Iraqi People masse peacefully waiting to respond to their legitimate
demands, take this opportunity to express its thanks and great gratitude