Friday, September 13, 2013

Science Fridays on PRI

We have a press release tonight.  From PRI:

PRI will now distribute Science Friday broadcast
CONTACT: Julia Yager, PRI, 612.330.9231,

MINNEAPOLIS, September 13, 2013 — Public Radio International (PRI) and the Science Friday Initiative today announced a partnership to develop multi-platform content around the topic of science.  As part of the partnership, beginning January 1, 2014, Science Friday will be distributed by PRI. 
The two organizations recognize the complementary nature of the content created by Science Friday, the pre-eminent source of science content in public radio; award-winning science content from PRI’s The World; and The Takeaway’s host John Hockenberry’s expertise in science and technology.  By creating more science content across multiple broadcasts and making it available on more platforms, the partnership aims to reconnect people’s innate curiosity about how the world works with the everyday relevance of science.
PRI is exploring collaborations between Science Friday and its established programs including PRI’s The World®, The Takeaway, and Studio 360, as well as on-line and as podcasts.  “Ira’s passion for and knowledge of science is unmatched, resulting in an avid fan-base that wants to consume his content in many different forms. He and Science Friday will be a great addition to the PRI family,” said Alisa Miller, President and CEO of PRI. 
“Recognizing the importance of fact-based science reporting to our nation’s ability to successfully compete in a global economy, PRI and the Science Friday Initiative have agreed to build on science content we already create to increase Americans’ access to science. We are thrilled to add the Science Friday broadcast as well as this new content to our portfolio,” said Melinda Ward, PRI’s Chief Content Officer.  
“We’re excited to work with PRI to expand their science and technology coverage," said Science Friday host and Executive Producer Ira Flatow. “PRI shares our vision of serving the public by telling compelling stories about timely issues. We look forward to collaborating with them.” 

About Public Radio International®
At Public Radio International, we believe sharing powerful stories, encouraging exploration, and connecting people and cultures will affect positive change. By building a deeper awareness and understanding of the world's peoples, conditions, issues and events, we enable people to form their own opinions, share their knowledge and to take informed actions on issues that matter to them. 
For 30 years, we’ve partnered with public media's most talented producers and hosts to offer distinctly global voices on “PRI's The World®" and CBC shows like "As it Happens" and "Q with Jian Ghomeshi." We cultivate conversations representing diverse viewpoints on “The Takeaway,” “To the Point,” and "The Tavis Smiley Show." We present voices of culture, contemporary American life and artistry on "This American Life" and "Studio 360 from PRI and WNYC." And we provide decidedly fresh takes with "WireTap" and “The Tobolowsky Files.” 
Our content is consumed by millions around the world: on almost 900 public radio stations in the U.S., and on websites, mobile phones and tablet devices, as well as via podcasts and streaming. PRI helps people understand their place in the world and make informed decisions every day by enabling them to "hear a different voice™." More at

About Science Friday Initiative 
The Science Friday Initiative is a non-profit organization dedicated to increasing public access to scientific information. They produce the radio program Science Friday and other content that promotes a greater understanding of science and technology.

Betty saw that and asked me if I could note it.  She had a topic for tonight and wanted to stick with it.  She felt including the above would be too much for her post.

I have no problem helping her out.  I love Betty.

I also agree with her that we need more science on the radio.  Talk of the Nation (NPR) always has science on Friday but NPR is getting rid of Talk of the Nation so what will that leave us with?

Okay, I see that Talk of the Nation broadcast its final show at the end of June.

So, yes, PRI is doing a great service.  PRI and NPR are competitors.  They both make programming that they then attempt to get public radio stations to carry (and pay for).  NPR's programming is well know due to years and years of syndication (and monopoly).  It includes Morning Edition and All Things Considered.  It had included Talk of the Nation.

PRI's signature show is The World. It's also one of the groups behind The Takeaway.

Science is needed for our future.  We all could stand to be a lot smarter about science (we includes me).  There are so many problems facing the world (most of the problems were created by humans) and science is what could get us out of this dystopia looming in our immediate future.

I mean "we" as the world.

But it is also true that in the US, we are very much in need of additional science.

So good for PRI.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Friday, September 13, 2013.  Chaos and violence continue, twin bombings target a mixed section of Iraq, the Ashraf community remains in turmoil, Desmond Tutu speaks on the topic of Syria, new IRS scandal revelations, and more.

Sunday, in the Bay Area, there's an event:

Sunday, September 15, 2013
12:30pm to 5:00pm

Walnut Park
downtown Petaluma, CA


Daniel Ellsberg - Pentagon Papers whistleblower, supporter of Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden 
Jill Stein - 2012 Green Party Presidential candidate
Norman Solomon - author, activist, community organizer 
Therese Mughannam-Walrath - Palestinian peace activist
Michael Nagler - Director, Metta Center for Nonviolence
Marc Armstrong - Director, Public Banking Institute
Kamal Prasad - food issues activist
Also speakers on:
  • Immigration issues
  • Stopping mass incarceration
  • Fukushima nuclear plant
  • Unite Here labor campaign
  • Labeling GMOs


The Pounce & Denounce PlayHouse - Occupy Petaluma's own theater troupe
De Colores with special guest, Francisco Herrera (Música de las Americas)
Spoken Word & Drums by Masaba (the Last Poets), &
Michael Rothenburg
(100K Poets for Change)

Many Social Justice, Environmental, Labor, and Community Organizations will have Informational booths/tables.

The event is produced by the Petaluma Progressives and is cosponsored by KPFA 94.1 FM, the Peace & Justice Center of Sonoma County, The Bohemian and the Committee for Immigrant Rights, Sonoma County. It takes place at Petaluma Blvd South and D Street, downtown Petaluma. It is free to the public.

Tamales, Rice, Beans, Other Goodies & Drinks Available.

For more info, call 707.763.8134
Or by email:

A KPFA friend asked if we could note the event and note that, from one p.m. to three p.m., KPFA will be covering the event live. That's over the airwaves (94.1 on the FM dial) in the Bay Area and around the world online (KPFA offers live streaming and archives -- some archived program is archived briefly, I didn't think to ask how long this would be archived, sorry).

From an announcement to a quandry, what's wrong with this paragraph:

George W. Bush once flubbed an aphorism (granted, an easy to flub aphorism) about being fooled once, shame on the fooler, being similarly fooled twice, then the shame was on you.1 Barack Obama has turned the scenario on its head. Obama was not fooled by Bush and the neocons pushing for an attack on Iraq. In 2002, while a United States senator, Barack Obama said, “I don’t oppose all wars. What I am opposed to is a dumb war. What I am opposed to is a rash war. … That’s what I’m opposed to. A dumb war. A rash war. A war based not on reason but on passion, not on principle but on politics.”2 For Obama, invading Iraq would be a dumb war.

That's Kim Petersen (Dissident Voice) making a common mistake.  Barack Obama was not a US Senator in 2002.   He was in the Illinois state legislature.  He would run for the US Senate in 2004.  And his opposition to the Iraq War?

And I'm so sad
like a good book
I can't put this 
Day Back
a sorta fairytale
with you 
a sorta fairytale
with you 
-- "A Sorta Fairytale," written by Tori Amos, first appears on her album Scarlet's Walk

For those who can't remember, let's revisit former President Bill Clinton's 2008 remarks:

"But since you raised the judgment issue, let's go over this again. That is the central argument for his campaign. 'It doesn't matter that I started running for president less a year after I got to the Senate from the Illinois State Senate. I am a great speaker and a charismatic figure and I'm the only one who had the judgment to oppose this war from the beginning. Always, always, always.' "
[. . .]
"Second, it is wrong that Senator Obama got to go through 15 debates trumpeting his superior judgment and how he had been against the war in every year, numerating the years, and never got asked one time, not once, 'Well, how could you say that when you said in 2004 you didn't know how you would have voted on the resolution? You said in 2004 there was no difference between you and George Bush on the war and you took that speech you're now running on off your website in 2004* and there's no difference in your voting record and Hillary's ever since?' Give me a break.
"This whole thing is the biggest fairy tale I've ever seen."

"*" It was 2003 when it was first disappeared as Glen Ford has pointed out.

Barack took no stand against the Iraq War as a US Senator, instead choosing to vote to fund it over and over.  In 2008, Ted Glick became a two-bit whore for the Cult of St. Barack.  At the start of 2007, he was much more honest about just how warlike and centrist Barack Obama actually was (and is).

Today Iraq makes Ana Marie Cox's number one item the topic of Syria's crowded out of the news in recent weeks.  In a column for the Guardian, she notes:


Hey, there's still a war going on there! A milder, less deadly one, but sectarian conflict did not end with the official US military exit (over 5,000 armed private security contractors remain). Of all the other stories Americans should be aware of as the Syria debate continues, this is the most significant – and not just because the disaster looms so large in American memories, but because of the disaster that continues today – and has recently escalated. Car bombings and suicide attacks were killing a manageable 200-300 people per month last year; in July, that number was 900, and 700 in August – the deadliest months in five years. While far less than the 2,500 per month that died at the height of US involvement, the higher tolls are linked to Sunni extremists morbidly encouraged by the chaos next door in Syria.
Arming or aiding the Sunni rebels in Syria could give Iraqi Sunnis even more reasons to react with greater violence to the repressive techniques of the Shi'ite-led government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

Ana Marie Cox is correct that contractors remain.  Marines remain to guard the US Embassy and consulates.  The US military remains as 'trainers.'  As Ted Koppel pointed out in December of 2011, various others would (and did) remain behind.  And we'll yet again note Tim Arango's September 25th New York Times report which included, "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."

On the ground in Iraq, violence continues.  Twin bombings result in a large death toll on the edge of Baquba.  AP identifies the location as Umm al-Adham village.  AFP reports, "Iraqi officials say a bomb has struck a Sunni mosque during prayers north of Baghdad, killing 28 people in the latest eruption of violence to rock the country." at least forty-one more people are said to be injured. BBC News adds, "Two roadside bombs were detonated as worshippers left the al-Salam mosque after Friday prayers, police said." Lu Hui (Xinhua) reports:

At least 30 people were killed and 42 others wounded around midday when a car bomb hit worshippers as they completed their Friday prayers and went out of a mosque in the town of Ottomaniya, 15 km southwest of the provincial capital city of Baquba, a provincial police source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.

Meanwhile, one was killed and five others were wounded in a roadside bomb attack near a Sunni mosque in Qarataba, some 110 km northeast of Baquba, he added.

Raheem Salman, Isabel Coles and Mark Heinrich (Reuters) explain the two bombings "occurred about ten minutes apart in the ethnically and confessionally mixed city, situated around 65 km (40 miles) northeast of the capital Baghdad. The second explosion tore through a crowd of people who had rushed to help those hurt in the first blast."   KUNA notes the death toll rose to 35.

The attacks comes during an already violent September.  Through yesterday, Iraq Body Count counts 403 violent deaths in Iraq so far this month.

In other violence today, National Iraqi News Agency reports a Mosul home invasion has left 6 family members dead, Khalaf Humeed Mohammed (Board Chair of Shura county local council) was shot dead in Mosul, a Ramadi sticky bombing left one police officer injured, an Ishaqi car bombing targeting a bus filled with people journeying from Samarra to Balad and left 3 dead and twelve more left injured, and, early this morning, 1 Khadija preacher was shot dead and a Alaadheim car bombing left four people injured.

One week shy of the nine month anniversary, the ongoing protests in Iraq continue today.  Iraqi Spring MC notes protests took place in Ramadi, in Falluja, in Tikrit, in Mosul and in Baiji.The protesters are demanding basic rights and freedoms. They have to demand them because Nouri fails to honor the most basic promises fails to honor the most basic promises government makes to its citizens.  AP notes today, "Members of Iraq's Sunni Arab minority have been protesting against the Shia-led government since December, angered over what they see as second-class treatment of their sect and what they see as unfair application of tough anti-terrorism measures."

In Nouri al-Maliki's Iraq, everyone's a target.  The Ashraf community was attacked two Sundays ago in Iraq.  They are a group of Iranian dissidents and the latest attack on them led UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to issue  a statement:

The Secretary-General deplores the tragic events in Camp Ashraf today that have reportedly left 47 killed.  He expresses his sorrow and extends his deepest condolences to the families of the victims.
The Secretary-General reiterates his full support for and his absolute confidence in the relentless work of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI).  He appeals for the urgent restoration of security in the Camp as it is the responsibility of the Government of Iraq to ensure the safety and security of the residents. The Secretary-General calls on the Government of Iraq to promptly investigate the incident and disclose the findings.

Adam Schreck (AP) reported that the United Nations was able to confirm the deaths of 52 Ashraf residents.  Al Mada noted that Nouri's declared he should be over the Iraqi investigation since he's commander-in-chief.  And that's exactly why he shouldn't be over it.  Are we really surprised that the concepts of "independence" and "integrity" would escape Nouri?  

US Senator Robert Menendez is the Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and his office issued the following yesterday:

September 12, 2013
WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, released this statement condemning the attacks on Camp Ashraf residents, and called on the Iraqi government to protect the community and secure the release of seven hostages taken after the massacre at Camp Ashraf.

“I condemn the brutal violence targeting Camp Ashraf residents in the most forceful of terms and personally offer my deepest sympathies to the families of this horrific act of terror. The surviving residents have been moved to Camp Liberty, but serious threats endure for the community and they remain targets of future attacks even as they are relocated. The United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq must proceed with their independent investigation and thoroughly ensure the safety and wellbeing of those residents now in Camp Liberty.

“I hold the Iraqi government directly responsible to protect the community, to investigate this matter thoroughly, and to prosecute the perpetrators of this heinous act. I am deeply concerned for the seven hostages who were taken during this attack. The Iraqi government should act swiftly to determine their whereabouts and ensure their safety. There is added urgency for the global community, as well as for the United States, to help resettle this community outside of Iraq, and end this cycle of ongoing terror attacks.”


Press Contact

Camp Ashraf housed a group of Iranian dissidents who were  welcomed to Iraq by Saddam Hussein in 1986 and he gave them Camp Ashraf and six other parcels that they could utilize. In 2003, the US invaded Iraq.The US government had the US military lead negotiations with the residents of Camp Ashraf. The US government wanted the residents to disarm and the US promised protections to the point that US actions turned the residents of Camp Ashraf into protected person under the Geneva Conventions. This is key and demands the US defend the Ashraf community in Iraq from attacks.  The Bully Boy Bush administration grasped that -- they were ignorant of every other law on the books but they grasped that one.  As 2008 drew to a close, the Bush administration was given assurances from the Iraqi government that they would protect the residents. Yet Nouri al-Maliki ordered the camp repeatedly attacked after Barack Obama was sworn in as US President. July 28, 2009 Nouri launched an attack (while then-US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was on the ground in Iraq). In a report released this summer entitled "Iraqi government must respect and protect rights of Camp Ashraf residents," Amnesty International described this assault, "Barely a month later, on 28-29 July 2009, Iraqi security forces stormed into the camp; at least nine residents were killed and many more were injured. Thirty-six residents who were detained were allegedly tortured and beaten. They were eventually released on 7 October 2009; by then they were in poor health after going on hunger strike." April 8, 2011, Nouri again ordered an assault on Camp Ashraf (then-US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was again on the ground in Iraq when the assault took place). Amnesty International described the assault this way, "Earlier this year, on 8 April, Iraqi troops took up positions within the camp using excessive, including lethal, force against residents who tried to resist them. Troops used live ammunition and by the end of the operation some 36 residents, including eight women, were dead and more than 300 others had been wounded. Following international and other protests, the Iraqi government announced that it had appointed a committee to investigate the attack and the killings; however, as on other occasions when the government has announced investigations into allegations of serious human rights violations by its forces, the authorities have yet to disclose the outcome, prompting questions whether any investigation was, in fact, carried out."  Those weren't the last attacks.  They were the last attacks while the residents were labeled as terrorists by the US State Dept.  (September 28, 2012, the designation was changed.)   In spite of this labeling, Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) observed that "since 2004, the United States has considered the residents of Camp Ashraf 'noncombatants' and 'protected persons' under the Geneva Conventions."  So the US has an obligation to protect the residents.  3,300 are no longer at Camp Ashraf.  They have moved to Camp Hurriyah for the most part.  A tiny number has received asylum in other countries. Approximately 100 were still at Camp Ashraf when it was attacked Sunday.   That was the second attack this year alone.   February 9th of this year, the Ashraf residents were again attacked, this time the ones who had been relocated to Camp Hurriyah.  Trend News Agency counted 10 dead and over one hundred injured.  Prensa Latina reported, " A rain of self-propelled Katyusha missiles hit a provisional camp of Iraqi opposition Mujahedin-e Khalk, an organization Tehran calls terrorists, causing seven fatalities plus 50 wounded, according to an Iraqi official release."

Today Ramesh Sepehrrad (UPI) offers:

Addressing the Syrian situation, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry recently told Congress, "The word of the United States must mean something."
Back in 2003, it was the very words of the U.S. government that guaranteed the residents of Camp Ashraf of U.S. protection, words that remain unfulfilled today.
In early 2009, in a breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention, Washington recklessly transferred the protection responsibility for Camp Ashraf to the Iraqi government.
There was ample evidence at the time that Iraq's loyalty to Tehran was making it less than willing or capable of providing the level of protection stipulated by the international law.
Since then there have been five deliberate deadly attacks against the unarmed residents who are members of Iran's opposition group, the People's Mujahedin Organization of Iran.
Every attack has been a test of America's willingness to stand by its words and effectively pressure the Iraqis. Escalating violence against this group shows the United States has failed in every test.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees issued the following statement today, "UNHCR remains deeply concerned about developments in relation to Camp New Iraq, most notably the security of the remaining residents, not least in light of the horrific events leading to the death of 52 residents last week. UNHCR urges that a peaceful solution be found and calls in particular on the Iraqi government to ensure the security of the residents."  Meanwhile the acting special envoy in Iraq for the UN Secretary-General, Gyorgy Bustin, spoke with the press today.  Adam Schreck (AP) quotes Bustin stating, "What has happened at Camp Ashraf on the first of September is a game changer. It should be a wake-up call to all countries who are in a position to help to come forward. Resettlement is the ultimate guarantee of their security."

Though any country can come to the aid of the Ashraf community, the US government has a legal obligation.  It's really amazing that over a year ago the US took the MEK off the terrorist list nearly a year ago (September 28th) and yet they have failed repeatedly at relocating the Ashraf community out of Iraq.   That is an obligation and its one the State Dept is failing.

 Dropping back to yesterday's snapshot for another Ashraf issue:

AFP reports, "The UN has urged Iraq to investigate the disappearances but there has been 'nothing so far', [UNAMI spokesperson Eliana] Nabaa told AFP."  The National Council of Resistance of Iran states:

Kamal Amin, spokesman for the so-called Ministry of Human Rights of Iraq said today: “Iraqi security forces have detained these individuals for attacking their own forces (Iraqi security forces).” (Voice of Free Iraq, September 12, 2013).
As such, 11 days after repeated denials, the Iraqi government accepted responsibility for the abduction of seven members of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI) and said that the seven missing PMOI members have been detained by the security forces. He preposterously claimed that they had been arrested because they had attacked the security forces.
The Iranian Resistance’s President-elect, Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, demanded urgent action by the US Secretary of State, the UN Secretary General, the High Commissioner for Refugees and the ICRC to secure the immediate release of the seven hostages and their return [to Liberty].
In recent days the seven hostages were seen in blue prison uniforms in Maliki's Golden division.

Today UNHCR issued the following statement:

These seven are all known by UNHCR to be asylum-seekers, and the agency hopes to have an opportunity to interview them. In light of the numerous and persistent reports over the past week that these individuals may be at risk of forced return to Iran, UNHCR calls upon the Government of Iraq to locate them, to ensure their physical security, and to safeguard them against return to Iran against their will.

Turning to the US,  Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu spoke at Butler University last night.  Robert King (Indianapolis Star) reports:

And characteristic of a man who didn't hesitate to blast a repressive regime in his own country, Tutu didn’t hesitate to wade into the issue of the moment. He praised Americans for being skeptical of an attack on Syria given the “illegal, immoral invasion of Iraq” in 2003.
“I salute the American people because they learned a lesson in 2003, because now a majority of the American people are saying no to a military intervention,” Tutu said. He added: “You Americans are some of the most generous creatures God ever created. Why don’t you drop food and not bombs?”
Tutu’s legacy of speaking truth to power, of seeking justice for the oppressed and for reconciling relationships broken by violence and war is one he has been building for decades. But despite his animated performance, it’s not clear how much longer Tutu -- described by [Rev Allan] Boesak as “one of the greatest living icons of our time” -- would be able to carry on himself. He hobbled to the stage in a leg cast (he has tendonitis) and seemed fatigued backstage when his speech was over.

US war on Syria is not a vanished prospect.  But a number of pushbacks -- such as the protests and public opinion -- and a blunder have combined to avert it at least for now. 
 Martin Michaels (Mint Press News) reports, "About half of all Americans oppose military intervention in Syria, but opposition to attacks is much higher among current service members, according to recent opinion polling by the Military Times -- which found that 75 percent of the military now oppose a U.S. military strike in Syria."  Aaron David Miller (CNN) explains:

The American people are their own experts this time around on what constitutes a vital national interest for the United States and what they want done about it.
After two of the longest and most profitless wars in American history, the public has a more discriminating assessment of what's worth fighting for and what's not. And, deeply dismayed by the standard for victory -- when can we leave, not how do we win -- most Americans rightly see a U.S. military strike on Syria as an imperfect option that is likely either to be ineffective or to draw the U.S. into another country's civil war.

And yet Barack, even now, can't stop trying to push for war.  Jason Hirthler (CounterPunch) points out, "With almost pathological haste, Western governments have moved to undermine Russia's sensible proposal for Syria to hand over its chemical stores, thus avoiding the needless carnage being proposed by the United States. In an interview with CBS Evening News anchor Scott Pelley not hours after the proposal gained the tentative acceptance of the Syrians, Obama grudgingly conceded it was a positive development, but quickly added that it would never have been possible without 'a credible military threat,' and sounded all the appropriate reservations."  Hirthler observes:

In his national address Tuesday night, Obama rather cynically attempted this when he insinuated that the diplomatic solve had emerged from his talks with Vladimir Putin. However, the solution was evidently stimulated by John Kerry’s moment of thoughtless candor, in which he did what no warmongering deputy should ever do—offer the villain an escape route. Kerry said in London on Monday that, sure, if Syria gives up its chemicals, we won’t attack it. The Russian Foreign Minister smartly seized on the admission, quickly secured Syrian acquiescence, and announced a diplomatic breakthrough. Kerry was left dumbfounded, slumping back to Washington with a laurel leaf in hand, instead of the uranium-tipped arrows the White House was so poised to launch “across the bow” of international law.

International law isn't the only thing Barack's disrespecting.  John Glaser ( notes US House Rep Justin Amash's Tweet:

  1. Under , you'd be indefinitely detained w/o charge or trial if you sent weapons to opposition forces in . Gov't is breaking law.

Glaser writes:

I take it Amash is referring to the clause of the USA PATRIOT Act which prohibits giving material support to groups designated by the United States as terrorists. In Holder v. Humanitarian Law Projectthe court found that “training,” “expert advice or assistance,” “service,” and “personnel,” all qualified as material assistance.
Last year, the U.S. State Department officially designated the Syrian rebels’ foremost fighting group, Jabhat al-Nusra, a terrorist organization. The U.S. has maintained all along that they are employing a “vetting process” to make sure all the material support they send to Syria’s rebels doesn’t go to the bad guys. But U.S. officials told the Washington Post last year that the CIA knew very little about who was receiving U.S. support, nor could they control exactly where it ended up. The New York Times also reported that the Obama administration has been “increasing aid to the rebels” even though “we don’t really know” who is receiving it.

It's amazing that sad fools like Nancy Pelosi would rather get offended by Russian President Vladimir Putin's column yesterday than by the fact that the White House is in bed with al Qaeda and any military action the US takes in Syria would assist and enable al Qaeda.  What a way to 'honor' the victims of 9-11.

Wednesday, Ruth noted, "One year ago today, Glen Doherty, Sean Smith, Chris Stevens, and Tyrone Woods were killed in Benghazi.  We still do not have the needed answers."  In this community, Ruth does the heavy lifting on Benghazi.  (And does a great job.)  We note it mainly in terms of Congressional hearings here.  The right-wing Newsbusters (a media watchdog) e-mails to note their piece by Matthew Balan which opens, "As of Thursday morning, CBS's morning and evening newscasts have yet to mention a revelation made by their own investigative correspondent, Sharyl Attkisson, on Tuesday -- that Secretary of State John Kerry told Congress 'he will not honor the request to make Benghazi survivors available for questioning'."  The basis for the claim?  This Tweet by CBS News' Sharyl Attiksson:

Secy Kerry tells congress he will not honor the request to make Benghazi survivors available for questioning.

That requires a report and not a Tweet.  CBS needs to report it.  They can put that up against footage of John Kerry testifying before the House Foreign Affairs Committee if they're unaware of how this is news.  Not only does such a move warrant a report, it also requires a statement to the public from the State Dept and reporters at the department's semi-daily press briefing should be demanding a response to why Kerry is refusing.

We cover the IRS scandal here.  Newsbusters also notes Geoffrey Dickens piece on that:

The Big Three (ABC, CBS, NBC) networks have colluded with the Obama administration to censor the latest IRS scandal news. The latest: On September 11 the Wall Street Journal’s editorial page, in an article headlined “Lois Lerner’s Own Words,” reported the following: “In a February 2011 email, Ms. Lerner advised her staff—including then Exempt Organizations Technical Manager Michael Seto and then Rulings and Agreements director Holly Paz—that a Tea Party matter is ‘very dangerous,’ and is something ‘Counsel and [Lerner adviser] Judy Kindell need to be in on.’ Ms. Lerner adds, ‘Cincy should probably NOT have these cases.’

That’s a different tune than the IRS sang in May when former IRS Commissioner Steven Miller said the agency’s overzealous enforcement was the work of two ‘rogue’ employees in Cincinnati. When the story broke, Ms. Lerner suggested that her office had been unaware of the pattern of targeting until she read about it in the newspaper. ‘So it was pretty much we started seeing information in the press that raised questions for us, and we went back and took a look,’ she said in May.”
The article also offers a review of many developments in the ongoing story.  Of those, I would note: "On August 6, as reported on, the vice chairman of the Federal Election Commission, Don McGhan, revealed 'he has seen numerous undisclosed e-mails between FEC staffers and the Internal Revenue Service that raise new questions about potential collusion between the two federal agencies in the alleged targeting of conservative political groups'."  Otherwise?  We've covered this stuff.  Reading their list and what has or hasn't been covered, I was surprised that there was no coverage of the targeting of pro-life groups.  I am 100% pro-choice.  That's not the issue.  The issue is free speech without being hindered or penalized by government.  Dropping back to the May 17th snapshot:
US House Rep Aaaron Schock had a number of issues to raise about what the IRS did. A pro-life was group was asked about the content of their prayers and [then-Acting IRS Commissioner Steve] Miller couldn't weigh in on whether or not that was an appropriate question for the IRS to ask.  Another pro-life group was asked if they taught "both sides of the issue."  As anyone knows, I'm firmly pro-choice.  That does not mitigate my offense at these questions the IRS asked and, especially with regard to prayer, they crossed a line.  It's a damn shame Steve Miller didn't know how to respond but a clear indication he was never up for the job. Schock noted another pro-life group was asked to reveal what writing would be on signs they carried at a protest?  Again, Miller had no comment. Popular responses from Miller included: "I don't know," "I don't believe so," "I have no reason to believe . . .," "I don't think so," "I don't have exact knowledge on that," "I'm really not sure" and "I'd have to go back and check."  He wasn't sure if he had notes.  He wasn't sure about timelines.  He was sure about this or about that. 
 The targeting of pro-life groups was apparently news to The National Review when they came across it in August.  With Benghazi and the IRS, the biggest surprise for me personally is how little so many people know about it.  And by 'people,' I mean those writing about it.  Bob Somerby has strengths.  Benghazi is not one of them.  He was very good at repeating what made the papers about hearings.  He was lousy with facts because he wasn't at those hearings.  A six hour hearing, even with the best reporter, will not be accurately captured in a news article or a TV report. (Nor does my covering a hearing here does not accurately capture the full hearing.) And to hear Bob pontificate about what this or that means and make one factual mistake after another was as frustrating as it was hilarious.  Point being, the IRS scandal is a real scandal.  The press has done a poor job explaining the whys of that.  Josh Hicks (Washington Post) reported today:

House Republicans on Thursday rekindled a months-old controversy by releasing what they described as new evidence that the Internal Revenue Service targeted conservative groups for political reasons. Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, revealed e-mails that he said show “high-level IRS employees in Washington were abusing their power to prevent conservative groups from organizing and carrying out their missions.”
In one message, IRS official Lois Lerner told her staff: “Tea Party matter very dangerous. This could be the vehicle to go to court on the issue of whether [a Supreme Court decision] overturning the ban on corporate spending applies to tax exempt rules … Cincy should probably NOT have these cases.”





Thursday, September 12, 2013

The sad confusion of violence with diplomacy

"New diplomatic push for Syria draws tentative support from the US" (Free Speech Radio News):
The abrupt shift towards a diplomatic solution to the chemical weapons issue in Syria continued today, after President Barack Obama’s major public address last night.  Obama asked Congress to delay a vote on military action, as the Russian-led push for the regime to voluntarily give up its chemical weapons gained momentum.
“It’s too early to tell whether this offer will succeed, and any agreement must verify that the Assad regime keeps its commitments.  But this initiative has the potential to remove the threat of chemical weapons without the use of force.”
Obama did not take the threat of military intervention off the table.  Secretary of State John Kerry is scheduled to meet with Russian officials tomorrow to discuss next steps.
The UN’s International Commission of Inquiry on Syria says the conflict in the country has taken a dangerous turn with both government and opposition groups committing gross human rights violations including rape, murder, torture, pillage and the recruitment and use of child soldiers.  The group says Assad’s government has been responsible for eight distinct massacres against civilians and opposition groups have committed one of their own.  Paulo Pinheiro is the chairperson of the Commission.
"A society has been ripped apart.  Failure to bring about a political settlement has allowed the conflict not only to deepen in its intransigence but also to widen – expanding to new actors and to new, previously unimaginable crimes.”
The Commission called for a diplomatic solution, saying any use of external military force in Syria will intensify the suffering inside the country.

I think it is apalling that you still have so many people who want to pretend like violence is a humanitarian action.  I think C.I. really nailed it yesterday in the snapshot:

Richard Cohen is a Washington Post columnist.  He's come under intense criticism this year, more so than at any other time.  It could actually be a great thing.  Columnists are supposed to generate controversy, ideas are supposed to be provocative.  The criticism also allows Cohen to take a look at how he presents himself in his writing and decide whether he's mispresenting or whether he thinks people are misunderstanding what he's stating.  Most of all, the constant dogpile means that he is eagerly read by his harshest critics in the hopes that they can catch something to criticize him for. All of that spells success if you respond to it correctly.

I'm not one of Richard's harshest critics.  I know him and I like him and I will forever applaud his work on the illegal government spying of the seventies.  But his column showing up all over the place this week (here for San Jose Mercury News, here for Real Clear Politics to cite only two) is dead wrong.  "Where's the moral outrage?" the headline asks.

Uh, don't know, Richard?  Is the 'moral' outrage aimed at a same-sex couple attempting to adopt?  Or maybe it's aimed at an unwed, pregnant woman?  Who knows where the 'moral' outrage is and who really gives a f**k?  How about we talk ethical and leave 'morality' to the cowards who are unable to debate ethics?  Once again,  from the classic comedy sketch (about the quiz show scandal) . . .

Mike Nichols: It's a moral issue.

Elaine May: Yes!

Mike Nichols: A moral issue.

Elaine May: Yes! Yes! Yes! It is a moral issue. 

Mike Nichols:  A moral issue.

Elaine May:  And to me that's always so much more interesting than a real issue

Truly, let's talk about something that actually matters.

Richard is outraged by the deaths in Syria.  I don't doubt that.  And he's worked himself up over it to write a column whose sincerity I don't question.

Deaths are sad, wherever they take place.  Syria's in the midst of a civil war.  Deaths take place in a civil war, as any student of history knows.  Deaths take place in revolutions as well.  The American Revolution was very bloody, for example.  These are facts.

Cohen writes:

What perplexes me is how the calls for Congress to rebuff President Obama are empty of moral outrage. The civil war in Syria has cost more than 110,000 lives. It has produced a humanitarian calamity -- well over 2 million refugees. Bashar al-Assad has massacred his own people by conventional means and is accused of using poison gas several times, most recently on Aug. 21, when his military murdered 1,429 people, including more than 400 children.

Again, let's leave 'morality' out of it.  Refugees?  The Iraqi refugee crisis had/has a higher number and as the BBC -- and only the BBC -- has recently reported, violence returning to 2008 levels in today's Iraq means that, yet again, Iraqis are fleeing the country in large numbers.

What has Bashar al-Assad done or not done?  I have no idea.  Nor does Richard Cohen.  But if they are "his own people," I guess he can feed them or kill them or whatever.

"His own people"?  Do you get how insulting that is, that mind-set?  It's truly imperialism at its worst.   And that's what harms Cohen and his column.

He's outraged.  That's a feeling, we can talk about it, we can process it.  But he has a feeling and he wants to act on it.

Somewhere along the way, a very smart man has lost his toolbox.  All Cohen has is killing.  That is now his answer to everything.  Something must be done?  Kill!  Kill!  Kill!

He's like a 'sexy vixen' in a Roger Corman film. 

That really captures it and don't you love the laugh with the Roger Corman?

I love it.  I have to wonder what is wrong with Richard Cohen?

I will assume it is the establishment sickness that creeps in and takes hold.  For some, it is more important to be part of the establishment even on the lowest rungs.  The alternative of being truthful is just too scary.

You can see that among so many who should be speaking out but are silent.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Wednesday, September 11, 2013.  Chaos and violence continue, a moat in Iraq gets attention, we look at Barack's Syria speech and reactions to it, and more.

Today is the 12th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks.  US Senator Patty Murray's office released the following today:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                            CONTACT: Murray Press Office
Wednesday, September 11, 2013                                                                               (202) 224-2834
Senator Murray’s Statement on the 12th Anniversary of 9/11 Attacks
“Like all Americans, I will never forget where I was twelve years ago and the way our nation responded in the face of great tragedy. On that day, no matter our differences, our region, race, religion, or political party - we were all one thing: Americans.
“Today we not only honor the service and lives of the thousands of heroes who perished that day, and in the decade since, but we also reflect on the shared selflessness and dedication to the common good that was born out of that difficult time. On that September morning we all came to understand how fragile life can be and then immediately lined up to donate our time, money, and even our blood to help strangers.
“So as we mark this somber occasion, I encourage all Americans to find a way to channel that sense of community on this National Day of Service and Remembrance by giving back to those in need. Let’s recommit to making our nation a better place for our children and let the examples of these men and women always inspire and guide us.”
To get involved, visit for opportunities in your community.
Meghan Roh
Press Secretary | New Media Director
Office of U.S. Senator Patty Murray
Mobile: (202) 365-1235
Office: (202) 224-2834

RSS Feed for Senator Murray's office

Alsumaria reports that Iraq's Ministry of Foreign Affairs welcomes Russia's initiative to ease the tensions (with regards to the US march to war on Syria) by supervising any chemical weapons and putting them under international supervision.

At 9:00 pm EST yesterday, US President Barack Obama gave a nationally broadcast speech begrudgingly acknowledging the Russian effort.  From last night's speech (link is transcript with video option on the far right):

When dictators commit atrocities, they depend upon the world to look the other way until those horrifying pictures fade from memory.  But these things happened.  The facts cannot be denied. The question now is what the United States of America, and the international community, is prepared to do about it.  Because what happened to those people -- to those children -- is not only a violation of international law, it’s also a danger to our security.

Let me explain why.  If we fail to act, the Assad regime will see no reason to stop using chemical weapons.  As the ban against these weapons erodes, other tyrants will have no reason to think twice about acquiring poison gas, and using them.  Over time, our troops would again face the prospect of chemical warfare on the battlefield.  And it could be easier for terrorist organizations to obtain these weapons, and to use them to attack civilians.

 First off, allegations are not "facts."  As Revolution newspaper notes, "Whether the deaths were the result of chemical weapons and, if so, whether the attack was launched by the Syrian government or by rebel forces, has not been independently verified. U.S. Secretary of State Kerry initially demanded that the Syrian government allow UN investigators into the area, but then when the Syrian regime responded that it would give inspectors unlimited access, Reuters reported that: '[A] U.S. official said such an offer was "too late to be credible" and Washington was all but certain that the government of President Bashar al-Assad had gassed its own people'."  Alex Lantier and Joe Kishore (WSWS) also note Barack's 'facts' were assertions,  "Without providing a scintilla of probative evidence, Obama repeated claims that the Syrian government of Bashar Al-Assad was responsible for a chemical weapons attack on August 21. Obama tried to bolster this assertion with various unsubstantiated assertions, combined with lurid images of the victims of the attack."

Lurid images from YouTube videos.  As a US Senator was explaining to me of Senator Dianne Feinstein's idiotic support of war on Syria, Dianne's seeing YouTube videos, these are sparkly, new things to her.  This is the woman who, after all, was born three years before Charlie Chaplin made his silent film masterpiece Modern Times, she was born the year silent film star (and producer, director and writer) Mary Pickford announced her film retirement. Talkies, color pictures, black and white TVs, color TV productions, satellite TV, now streaming, it's all been such a long and crazy trip for Dianne who, at 80-years-old, is the oldest member of the US Senate.  Could whomever cuts her food for her show her the door to gracefully leave the Senate or are we next to see her with drool on her face during Senate hearings?  Or, worse, someone has to explain to her that "40 Days of Dating" is staged.  ("But I saw it on the computer thing!" Dianne insists.)

Margaret Kimberley (Black Agenda Report) points out the larger problems with Barack and Secretary of State John Kerry's 'intell':

Evidence of sketchy claims and lack of support for them came very early on in the propaganda process. The president and secretary of state made their initial appeal by claiming there would be no “boots on the ground.” The horrendously Orwellian phrase was meant to give them cover from criticism and get hesitant congress members on board. But when asked at a Senate hearing, Kerry hedged. “ I don't want to take off the table an option that might or might not be available to a president of the United States to secure our country.” The so-called gaffes were constant. When a reporter asked if the United States would be amenable to forsaking an attack if Assad gave up weapons, Kerry initially said it would be acceptable.
“Sure, if he could turn over every single bit of his chemical weapons to the international community, in the next week, turn it over. All of it, without delay and allow a full and total accounting for that, but he isn't about to do it, and it can't be done, obviously.”
The White House and State Department back pedaled furiously from Kerry’s comment. His own spokesperson said that the secretary “was not making a proposal." The evil doers had exposed themselves as the aggressors that they are. They admitted to the world community that the stated reason for going to war is a sham and that there is nothing Assad can do to call off the dogs. Even if a diplomatic process begins, the United States and the other NATO nations will try something else to bring about the regime change that they claim not to want in Syria.

On the subject of the information and intelligence:

The Institute for the Study of War has learned and confirmed that, contrary to her representations, Ms. Elizabeth O'Bagy does not in fact have a Ph.D. degree from Georgetown University. ISW has accordingly terminated Ms. O'Bagy's employment, effective immediately.

Who is she?  Leslie Larson (New York Daily News) explains who and how she figures into the Syrian debate, "A Syria expert at a U.S. think tank, whose research was cited by both Secretary of State John Kerry and Sen. John McCain during Senate testimony, has been fired for lying about having a Ph.D."   Greg Myer (NPR) explains her conflicts were more than lying about a degree, "In an interview on Fox News and in other appearances, she came under criticism for serving as a both an independent analyst at her institute and for working on a contractual basis with an advocacy group that supports the Syrian opposition, the Syrian Emergency Task Force. That group subcontracts with the U.S. and British governments to provide aid to the Syrian opposition."

Poor John Kerry, he really has become the joke of the administration. 

Along with offering 'facts' that were not facts, Barack also made an illogical assertion.  How do you claim that you have a right to break international law in order to enforce international custom?

IPS analyst Phyllis Bennis has repeatedly explained how the law works.  We'll include her speaking to Peter Hart on FAIR's Counterspin two Fridays ago:

Phyllis Bennis:  Only if the [United Nations] Security Council votes to endorse the use of force is the use of force legal.  No other agency, institution, organization has that right.  So the Kosovo precedent that you refer to and that unfortunately this is being talked about in the press.  It's being asserted that if the Security Council doesn't agree, there are other options.  Yeah, there are other options.  The problem is they're all illegal.  The Kosovo model was illegal.  What the US did in 1999, when it wanted to bomb, to start an air war against Serbia over Kosovo, realized it would not get support of the Security Council because Russia had said it would veto.  So instead of saying, 'Well okay we don't have support of the Security Council, I guess we can't do it,' they said, 'Okay, we won't go to the Security Council, we'll simply go to the NATO High Command and ask their permission.'  Well, what a surprise, the NATO High Command said 'sure.'  It's like the hammer and the nail.  If you're a hammer, everything looks like a nail.  If you're NATO everything looks like it requires military intervention.  The problem is, under international law, the UN charter is the fundamental component under international law that determines issues of war and peace.  And the charter doesn't say that the Security Council or NATO or the President of the United States can all decide over the use of force.  The only agency that can legally approve the use of force is the Security Council of the United Nations.  Period.  Full stop.

It's hypocritical to argue that international custom must be upheld . . . by breaking international law.

It makes no sense.  Neither did today's US State Dept press briefings moderated by spokesperson Jen Psaki:

QUESTION: Based on what the President said last night and what the Secretary said yesterday afternoon, is it correct that the Administration wants to first work with the Russians to get a deal on securing the chemical weapons and taking care of them, and then take that agreement and somehow enshrine it in a UN Security Council resolution – a binding resolution, not a presidential statement – and use that as the basis for going forward? Is that right?

MS. PSAKI: Well, you’re getting a little ahead of where we are in the process.

QUESTION: No, I know, but I’m asking about what your long – what your hope and intention is, based on what the President and the Secretary said yesterday.

MS. PSAKI: Well, let me start with Geneva as the first step, since that, of course, is where the Secretary is heading. So as you all know, over the last 48 hours I guess it is, the credible threat of U.S. military action has created a diplomatic opportunity to remove the threat of chemical weapons in Syria without the use of force. The Secretary will be heading to Geneva, as I mentioned, later this evening to meet with not only Foreign Minister Lavrov, but we will also be bringing a team of experts to meet with their team of experts and discuss that.
So our goal here is to hear from the Russians about the modalities of their ideas that they have put forward, and to assess whether they will meet our requirement for the final disposition of Assad’s chemical weapons. In this stage of the process, our goal here is to test the seriousness of this proposal, to talk about the specifics of how this would get done, what are the mechanics of identifying, verifying, securing, and ultimately destroying the chemical weapons. And this requires, of course, a willingness from both sides. That’s what we’re focused on here.
At the same time, I would look at this as parallel tracks, or there are three tracks happening at once. One is that. The second is the UN and their efforts that are going to be ongoing in New York. We will not be – the Secretary will not be negotiating or discussing a UN Security Council resolution as part of the next couple of days. That is not our goal here. Those efforts and that work will be done in New York. And then, of course, there is the efforts that we’ve had underway with Congress. And there’s no question, and it doesn’t come as a surprise – in fact, we welcome it, as the President said last night – that they would take into account the events of the last couple of days.

QUESTION: I understand. But are you – are – is it your desire, is it the Administration’s desire, to see any potential, acceptable agreement with Russia on the weapons – is it your desire to have that as part of or at least referenced in a Security – a binding Security Council resolution?

MS. PSAKI: We do – we are working towards, of course, a binding UN Security Council resolution.

QUESTION: That would include – that would be the enforcement mechanism for the agreement with the – because an agreement just between Russia and Syria on this is not going to be good enough for you, is it? I mean --

MS. PSAKI: There’s no question that there has to be an international community engagement here and role. What that is and the form it takes, we’re not quite there yet. But when I say credibility and verifiability, that’s all related to what the outcome would be.

QUESTION: So it is – is it – so is it correct or not that you want to see this – if some kind of acceptable agreement can be reached with the Russians, that you would like to see that as part of a UN resolution?

MS. PSAKI: I’m just not going to litigate what could or couldn’t be in a UN resolution.

QUESTION: All right.

MS. PSAKI: Obviously, we’re pursuing that.

QUESTION: Then let’s leave --

MS. PSAKI: We’re focused on day-by-day here.

QUESTION: Then let’s leave that out of it for a second --

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: -- and just talk about the UN resolution.

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: What do you want this resolution to have in it?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have anything more to tell you about what we would like to see --

QUESTION: But do you – all right. But you do want a resolution?

MS. PSAKI: Yes. That’s what we’re pushing for, absolutely.

QUESTION: Yes. Why do you want – why is it – I guess I’m asking – this is a major and significant change from last week and from even on Monday, because the Russians have still said that they don’t want a resolution. And on Friday, your Ambassador to the UN said it would be – what did she say – “It is naive to think that Russia is on the verge of changing its position and allowing the UN Security Council to assume its rightful role as the enforcer of international peace and security. In short, the Security Council the world needs to deal with this urgent crisis is not the Security Council we have.” Now that was Samantha Power on Friday, not John Bolton in 2003, and frankly it makes her – she kind of sounded more – makes him sound kind of moderate, those lines. Why is it that you now think that the Russians, even after Lavrov and Putin said they don’t want a resolution, will go for one?

MS. PSAKI: Well --

QUESTION: And this is when Lavrov and Putin said this yesterday, after the whole – their whole thing about getting a deal with the Syrians.

MS. PSAKI: Well, again, I can’t obviously predict what the Russians will or will not – I understand – I saw their comments yesterday. Let me take the first part first, the reference to the speech. There’s no question that in the last 36 hours events have changed. And leadership is having the flexibility to seize opportunities when there’s potential for them. We’re not naive about the challenges. We don’t think this will be easy. But that’s why we’re going to Geneva, and these events of the last 36 hours happened post the speeches that you’re quoting.

QUESTION: I understand. Okay.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: But the problem here – and maybe you don’t – maybe I’m misunderstanding what the Russian position is – the Russians have said that they’re willing to push the Syrians for a deal on the chemical – on their chemical weapons --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- an agreement on that. They have not said that they’re willing to have this go to the UN or they’re willing even to have a UN Security Council resolution.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Your Ambassador to the UN and the National Security Advisor, the former UN ambassador, have both said, essentially, it’s a waste of time at the – the President said that, essentially. So I don’t get why it is now even – I don’t get why it is now that you think that such an endeavor would be productive.

MS. PSAKI: Well, a couple of things. One is a lot of those comments from our Ambassador to the UN and Susan Rice and the President came before the last two days. I understand you’re also referring to the comments of the Russians.


MS. PSAKI: I can’t predict what they’ll be willing to support. But what has changed is that on Monday, when Foreign Minister Lavrov came out and made his statement, that was a more serious statement that showed a greater willingness to engage on this than we had seen in the past.

QUESTION: But his statement said nothing about the UN.

MS. PSAKI: That’s correct.

QUESTION: Or any kind of an enforcement mechanism, right?

MS. PSAKI: That’s correct. And those negotiations and discussions will happen at the UN with appropriate UN counterparts. But there’s no question that was a positive step and an indication of more of an openness than what we had even 72 hours ago.

QUESTION: All right. Well, assuming that the UN Ambassador and the former – the current National Security Advisor, former UN Ambassador speak for the Administration, is it still the Administration’s view that it was – it is naive to think that the Russians are on the verge of changing their minds in the Security Council, and that then it’s not realistic – the first was Power, this is Rice – it’s not realistic that it’s going to happen?

MS. PSAKI: Well I --

QUESTION: Is that still the position of the Administration?

MS. PSAKI: I read and watched both of their speeches.

QUESTION: Right. But is that still the position of the Administration --

MS. PSAKI: Matt, the --

QUESTION: -- given the fact that the Russians have not said anything or made any sign that they’re willing to allow the Security Council --

MS. PSAKI: You are correct, and I’m not implying that they have. But things have changed in the last 36 hours. We’re working towards a goal here of working with them. I can’t predict what will or won’t come out of the UN Security Council. I know they have a meeting later this afternoon. And beyond that, everyone in the Administration who gave those speeches are all working towards the same effort.

QUESTION: Okay. But I can – I’m a big fan of the Emerson line that “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds,” but I – aren’t you, by going back to the UN, guilty of the naivete that Ambassador Power discussed on Friday?

MS. PSAKI: Well --

QUESTION: I don’t see how what the Russians have said changes anything at the UN, and I don’t see how it can be acceptable for you for there just to some kind of a buddy-buddy agreement between Putin and Assad on the chemical weapons if there’s no enforcement, as --

MS. PSAKI: I just said we’re fully supportive of and pushing for a resolution. What I’m --

QUESTION: I know. But why isn’t that – why doesn’t that make --

MS. PSAKI: Let me just finish.

QUESTION: All right.

MS. PSAKI: What I’m also conveying is that we don’t conduct diplomacy and foreign policy with inflexibility, just to say the things we said last week, when events on the ground change and when a greater opportunity presents itself.

QUESTION: So would you say that the Administration – despite what Ambassador Power said on Friday about being naive, you would say that it is not naive to think that Russia is now on the verge of changing it? I mean, --

MS. PSAKI: Matt, we have --

QUESTION: -- either you are guilty of being naive, as she said on Friday, or you’re not.

MS. PSAKI: I simply don’t think it’s that simple.

QUESTION: All right.

Tom Hayden (Los Angeles Times) observes:

The dominant mantra we heard from the president’s allies Tuesday was that it was the credible threat of American military force that caused Russia, Syria and Iran to agree to dismantle Assad's chemical weapons. If that argument keeps us out of another war, it deserves some credit, even if it's only partly true.
But it could also be said that it was the “credible threat” of democracy -- a defeat of his war plan in Congress and in public opinion polls -- that caused the Obama administration to back away from the military brink and seek an honorable way out.

Let's note some reactions to the speech.   Frank Rich (New York Magazine) offers this on the speech, "He started with a call for military action, then veered into a prayer for diplomacy before trailing off into an inchoate 'stay tuned' denouement. I guess this proves that if you mate a hawk with a dove, you end up with the rhetorical equivalent of turducken. I'd like to believe there was some other aim, but what could it have been? A humanitarian preemption of ABC’s The Bachelor? This address should have been put on hold by the White House the moment the attack was put on hold because the urgency of the appeal for force had evaporated. Now, if the Hail Putin Pass proves a Russian-Syrian bluff or some other form of mirage, the president can't give the same speech again, minus the diplomacy part. One prime-time strike to sell the country on air strikes, and you're out."  Truth-Out posts a Real News Network (link is text and transcript) of a discussion on the speech moderated by Jaisal Noor and featuring Rania Masri and Chris Hedges.  Excerpt.

NOOR: So, Rania, let's start with you. As an activist that's been speaking out against this possible intervention, against U.S. involvement in Syria, what's your response to this speech? Obama asked Congress to delay a possible vote authorizing intervention in Syria.

MASRI: It really was what we had expected. I mean, those of us who've been spending time at the Hill and following the news, President Obama's speech was what we had expected. The postponement was expected. And [incompr.] that he postponed it not only because the Russians provided him with a really strong political way out, a political possibility for chemical weapons deterrence in Syria, but also because he simply didn't have the votes in Congress. Were this to go to the House, it would have failed. It might even have failed in the Senate.

NOOR: And, Chris, I want to pose that question to you. It seems like within the past few weeks and days, this war has become or this possible intervention in Syria has become increasingly unpopular. At least that's how it's been reported in the press. What's your response to his speech and the fact also that he had to delay this vote in Congress?

HEDGES: Well, Rania is right. He didn't have the votes, so he had no choice.
But I think this is really symptomatic of an exhaustion on the part of the American public after 12 years of war, 12 years in Afghanistan, ten years in Iraq. They have seen this scenario before. The clips of atrocities, the appealing to American exceptionalism, the high-blown rhetoric of patriotism. Kerry even trotted out once again World War II, calling this the Munich moment and referring to the graves, Normandy. And none of it worked.
It didn't work because at this point people have been lied to so many times. The excuses and propaganda that is pushed forth and has been pushed forth year after year just fall flat. It doesn't work anymore. And I think people understand that when you drop Tomahawk missiles, each Tomahawk missile carries a 1,000-pound iron fragmentation bomb or 166 cluster bombs. And they're talking about dropping hundreds of them.
You know, this circular logic whereby we go in and kill civilians--and Dempsey, the chief of staff, said there would be, quote-unquote, collateral damage to stop the Assad stopping regime from killing civilians, it just--it doesn't work anymore after Iraq and Afghanistan. I think we're really seeing a kind of implosion of the myth of war, which has sustained these imperial adventures. And I think Obama just got cornered. You know, left, right, it didn't make any difference. The [incompr.] sick of it.
And let's not forget that internally, we are, like all dying empires, being hollowed out from the inside in terms of infrastructure. I live near Philly, I live in Princeton. The school system is shattered with closings and layoffs. Libraries are being shuttered. Head Start is being cut back. Unemployment benefits are not being extended. You know, we've reached a point of both physical and emotional exhaustion.

Libertarian Justin Raimondo ( points out:

We are told a Kerry gaffe, an impressive display of Putin’s diplomatic jiu-jitsu, and – most of all – the "credible threat" of war led to what the Obamaites and their media cheerleaders are hailing as a great victory for this administration. A look at the timeline of events, however, effectively debunks the official narrative.
The key development here wasn’t Kerry’s fumble and the Russian interception but the announcement by majority leader Harry Reid that the Senate vote on the war resolution would be delayed: the War Party simply didn’t have the votes. What the administration discovered, to their horror, was that the more they made their case to the American people the less support they had: every time Kerry opened his mouth, their poll numbers went down a few points, and a few more members of Congress came out against intervention.

The World Can't Wait Tweeted:

  1. No! 's speech did not convince us to support an illegitimate, unjust and immoral war with

Matthew Rothschild (The Progressive) dissects five claims from the speech:

1. “I possess the authority to order military strikes.”
No you don’t, Mr. President. Only Congress has the authority to declare war, and ordering military strikes would be a clear act of war, thus violating the Constitution. It would also violate the War Powers Act, which says that the President can’t engage in hostilities without a declaration of war or specific Congressional authorization unless there is “a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces.” And Syria has done no such thing.

A.N.S.W.E.R. decodes Barack's speech:

The U.S. war threat against Syria has not ended. But the particular path to war has required a shift because of resounding domestic and global opposition.
The U.S. Congress will now be asked to pass a different resolution than the one originally supported by the White House. The new resolution will be constructed to authorize Obama to carry out military strikes if the U.S. government decides that Syria is not in full compliance with a new UN resolution calling for its chemical weapons stockpiles to be totally destroyed.
This was precisely the scenario used by George W. Bush and Dick Cheney when they launched the invasion of Iraq in March 2003. Even though the Iraqi government complied with UN weapons inspections demands and was actively disarming its own military forces, Bush simply declared that Saddam Hussein was not complying with UN resolutions and launched the U.S. war that toppled the government.
In Syria, like with Iraq, Libya and Iran for the past decades, the U.S. government goal of toppling independent, nationalist governments uses an assortment of tactics, including economic and financial sanctions, funding and arming internal domestic opposition, providing international legitimacy and recognition to the internal opposition, cyber attacks, and in some cases direct bombings and invasion.

Fred Goldstein (Workers World) also views the speech as a charade, "Many are hoping that this proposal will put the skids under the U.S. war drive against Syria. But that would be a fatal error and a complete misunderstanding of Washington, the Pentagon, the oil companies and the military-industrial complex, which are behind the drive to overthrow the independent, sovereign government of Syria."  BBC News provides this video reaction of various people in the Middle East to an attack on Syria.  Bruce Dixon (Black Agenda Report -- link is text and audio) has a strong commentary on the lies used to call for war on Syria.  Libertarian Christopher A. Preble (CATO) live blogged the speechThe US Green Party states:

The Green Party opposes any resumption of threats to attack Syria and supports a halt to U.S. arms shipments and training for Syrian rebels. Party leaders reiterated the call for a nonviolent resolution, with diplomacy, participation in the upcoming U.N.-backed Geneva II Middle East peace conference, cooperation with the International Criminal Court, and an across-the-board arms embargo. "While this decision to respect the Russian proposal is encouraging, we're not out of the woods by a longshot. We urge Americans to keep the heat on President Obama to avoid future military action against Syria. In the absence of continued public pressure, it wouldn't be surprising to see inspections and the talks with Russia and other members of the U.N. Security Council used as a pretext for a later attack," said Steve Welzer, Green candidate for Governor of New Jersey. Greens noted Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel's warning at a congressional hearing: "For this diplomatic option to have a chance at succeeding, the threat of a U.S. military action, the credible, real threat of U.S. military action, must continue." In fact, such action would be illegal, and the threat of attack gives President Assad reason to maintain arms to defend against that threat. Pressure should be brought on all Syrian factions to come to the peace table and for all foreign parties to stop arming them. Green Party members participated in recent protest rallies across the country in opposition to the planned attack and military aid for Syrian rebel groups and encouraged members and friends to contact their members of Congress to urge nay votes on the resolution granting the President license to order an attack.

Revolution and Stop Patriarchy's Sunsara Taylor re-Tweeted Larry Everest on the speech:

  1. Shocked Obama didn't promo this video!: (Albright defending US mass murder of Iraqi children)
  2. Obama forgot to cover this chapter of US "concern" for Iraqi children:

Elisabeth Armstrong (CounterPunch) offers this reality, "The choice is not between doing 'nothing' or bombing. Other options remain. Meaningful regional diplomacy, drawing in countries that are eager to solve the Syrian standoff, bringing in adversaries such as Saudi Arabia and Iran, bringing in US allies such as Israel and Jordan, bringing in the major powers such as Russia and the United States itself, allowing the United Nations to fulfil the process known as Geneva 2. All this is possible. It is doing something. If our media imparts news as a cynical display of power, it is complicit with any US response that begins with military force. Other ways are possible. West Asia deserves another way."  Glen Ford (Black Agenda Report) gets the last word on the topic of Syria:

It was a strange speech, in which the real news was left for last, popping out like a Jack-in-the-Box after 11 minutes of growls and snarls and Obama’s bizarre whining about how unfair it is to be restrained from making war on people who have done you no harm. The president abruptly switched from absurd, lie-based justifications for war to his surprise announcement that, no, Syria’s turn to endure Shock and Awe had been postponed. The reader suddenly realizes that the diplomatic developments had been hastily cut and pasted into the speech, probably only hours before. Obama had intended to build the case for smashing Assad to an imperial peroration – a laying down of the law from on high. But his handlers threw in the towel, for reasons both foreign and domestic. Temporarily defeated, Obama will be back on the Syria warpath as soon as the proper false flag operations can be arranged.
The president’s roiling emotions, visible through his eyes, got in the way of his oratorical skills. But then, he didn’t have much material to work with, just an endless string of prevarications and half-truths strung almost randomly together.

In Iraq, BBC News reports, "Two explosions near a Shia mosque in the Iraqi capital Baghdad have killed at least 35 people, officials say.  At least 55 others were wounded in the attack in the largely Shia district of Kasra as worshippers were leaving the mosque after evening prayers."  Reuters adds, "A co-ordinated car and suicide bomb attack on a Shi'ite mosque in the Iraqi capital killed at least 33 people on Wednesday evening, police and medical sources said.  Worshippers were leaving the mosque after evening prayers when the car bomb exploded, and as onlookers rushed to help the wounded, a suicide bomber blew himself up in their midst."  Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) adds, "The bomber wore an explosive vest, which he detonated Wednesday evening in the northwestern al-Kassra neighborhood, police officials said. The force of the blast damaged not only the mosque but several buildings nearby, police said."  AFP's Prashant Rao Tweeted:

In addition,  All Iraq News reports a Mosul sticky bombing killed 1 journalist and 1 police colonel was shot dead in Mosul.   NINA reports Sheikh Natiq Yassin was assassinated in Abe al-Kahseb, police shot dead 1 suspect and injured another in Baiji, a suicide car bomber in Tuz Khurmatu claimed the lives of 5 police officers and left another four injured, a Baquba bombing claimed the life of 1 "employee in the Sunni Waqf Directorate in Diyala and his wife," an attack on a Buhriz checkpoint left 1 police officer dead, 1 worker for the General Company for Ports of Iraq was shot dead in Basra, and last night 2 Muqdadiya bombings left four people injured. Also last night, AFP reports 1 fifty-year-old women was shot at a Goran rally on Tuesday in Sulaimaniyah and died Tuesday night at the hospital.

  Sameer N. Yacoub (AP) reports on the various ("heavy-handed") efforts that Iraqi officials are using in attempts to reduce violence including a moat around Kirkuk, vehicle restrictions and "bulldozing soccer fields."  Salman Faraj (AFP) reports on the Kirkuk moat, "workers are digging the 53-kilometre (32-mile) trench -- a defensive measure dating to ancient times."

The US Embassy in Baghdad posted "Emergency Message for U.S. Citizens" at its website late yesterday:

The U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens against all but essential travel to Iraq.
Due to heightened safety and security risks and the ongoing threat of terrorist activities throughout Iraq, the U.S. government remains highly concerned about the danger to U.S. citizens, whether visiting or residing in Iraq, and to U.S. facilities and businesses.  Threats against U.S. interests, U.S. assets, and foreign companies employing U.S. personnel in Iraq have been reported, related to a possible U.S. military strike on Syria.
On the eve of the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, the U.S. Embassy reminds U.S. citizens of the need for caution and awareness of personal security.  U.S. citizens in Iraq should avoid areas where large gatherings may occur.  Even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and escalate into violence.  You should avoid areas of demonstrations and exercise caution if in the vicinity of any large gatherings, protests, or demonstrations.
Review your personal security plans; remain aware of your surroundings, including local events; and monitor local news stations for updates.  Maintain a high level of vigilance, take appropriate steps to enhance your personal security and follow instructions of local authorities.
We strongly recommend that U.S. citizens residing in Iraq enroll in the Department of State's Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).   STEP enrollment gives you the latest security updates, and makes it easier for the U.S. embassy or nearest U.S. consulate to contact you in an emergency. If you don't have Internet access, enroll directly with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.
For the latest security information, U.S. citizens traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department of State's Internet website at where the Worldwide Caution, Country Specific Information, Travel Warnings, and Travel Alerts can be found.  Follow us on Twitter and the Bureau of Consular Affairs page on Facebook as well.  Download our free Smart Traveler app, available through iTunes or Google Play, to have travel information at your fingertips. 
Up-to-date information on security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the United States and Canada, or, for callers outside the United States and Canada, a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
The U.S. Embassy is located at Al Kindi Street, IZ, Baghdad.  If you are a U.S. citizen in need of urgent assistance, the emergency number for the U.S. Embassy is 0770-443-128, from the United States:  011-964-770-443-1286.  The U.S. Consulate General in Erbil is located at 413 Ishtar, Ankawa, Erbil:  0770-443-4396.