Saturday, October 19, 2013

If you mean it, you'd speak more strongly

"Empire of the Senseless" (Jeffrey St. Clair, CounterPunch):
To a great measure, the responsibility for the fatal ease with which Obama has been able to implement his draconian policies, from domestic spying to drone strikes, must be borne by the timid response of the political left, who have serially denied what they knew to be Obama’s true agenda, an agenda of neoliberal austerity at home and imperial aggression abroad—an agenda that was incubating from the moment the young senator hand-picked Joseph Lieberman to be his ideological mentor in the US Senate.

Predictably, the more they indulge Obama, the more he tends to ignore, if not psychologically resent, their existence. For most of us, the economy is still crashing. A recent analysis by UC Berkeley’s Emmanuel Saez and Thomas Piketty of the Paris School of Economics, revealed that 95 percent of the economic gains since the recession began have been captured by the top one percent. This was not an accidental outcome. Obama’s economic plan was geared to generate precisely this result. But no one wants to talk about it on the Left.


But why does CounterPunch spend so little time on this issue when compared to their nonsense about Republicans?

They weigh in on Republicans all the time.  They rarely call out Democrats.  When they do?  They go all timid and respectful.

Barack Obama is a War Criminal.

I have no problem saying that.  His Drone War is killing innocents but continues because too many people refuse to call him out.

I think CounterPunch should focus a great deal more on leading the war against The Drone War and a lot less on whatever nutty thing Republicans have supposedly done this week or next.

Be sure to read Mike's "Graham Nash" from yesterday.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills): 

Friday, October 18, 2013.  Chaos and violence continue, ongoing protests in Iraq reach the ten month mark (where's the western press), Iraqi Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi states he has evidence of Nouri al-Maliki's crimes against the Iraqi people, news of NSA whistle-blower Ed Snowden, and much more.

Tareq al-Hashemi is one of Iraq's two vice presidents.  Sunni and a member of Iraqiya, he was targeted by Nouri in 2011 and has sought safety in the KRG and Turkey.  From yesterday's snapshot:

Today, al-Hashemi was supposed to participate in a human rights conference in Brussells.  Nouri's State of Law went into a tizzy.  All Iraq News quotes State of Law MP Salman al-Musawi insisting, "The participation of the convicted Vice-President, Tariq al-Hashimi, in a Human Rights Conference held by the European Union violates the sovereignty of Iraq."  Then the outlet reports the Iraqi embassy bragged that they had forced the cancellation of a press conference today by Tareq al-Hashemi.  NINA notes:

It is mentioned that a statement from the Office of Tareq al-Hashemi, who was sentenced to death in absentia, said he has arrived to Brussels yesterday afternoon , at the invitation of the EU.
The statement added that al-Hashemi will attend today's formal meeting in the European Parliament, which will listen to his speech on the challenges facing Iraq. According to the statement.

Today AFP reports the Vice President did hold a press conference and he declared, "My case is politically motivated and the charges are absolutely fabricated. Nevertheless, I now express my readiness to return to Baghdad immediately ... in (the case) the EU guarantees a fair trial."  Middle East Monitor quotes al-Hashemi also stating, "The chances of just litigation are non-existent in Iraq when Chief Justice Medhat Al-Mahmoud is clearly complicit with the Prime Minister's Office, thus distorting the image and reputation of Iraq both domestically and internationally."

Even those who believe al-Hashemi is guilty have to, if they have any self-honesty, have to admit the Baghdad courts are a joke and Tareq was denied a fair trial.

In France, where they kiss in the main street, Francois Hollande is president.  Can you picture any French court denying to allow Hollande to testify as a character witness in a trial?  No. But Iraqi President Jalal Talabani was denied by the Baghdad court when he attempted to offer testimony on behalf of Tareq.  Equally true, by 2010, it was obvious that the Baghdad courts were not independent and were ruling for Nouri and against the laws of Iraq (including the Constitution).  As Congress was repeatedly informed in the last years of the '00s, the graft and corruption in Iraq included the judicial system.

The world looked the other way when  the Baghdad judges declared him guilty in February 2012 at their press conference and while one judge was stating that he had been threatened by al-Hashemi. Excuse me, that is wrong.  They reproduce what the judges said.  They failed to note the Iraqi Constitution -- which protects Tareq or anyone in office from being tried while they hold public office and which protects all with the belief of innocent until proven guilty.

Reuters and the others couldn't be bothered with facts or the law.  They couldn't even raise the issue of a group of Bahgdad judges declaring a person guilty before a trial had even started.  They were so up the ass of Nouri that they treated this moment as normal.

It was not normal.  Tareq was tried in absentia in a kangaroo court.  For those who've forgotten, al-Hashemi also asked that the trial be moved to another area of Iraq where Nouri did not control the judiciary.  That was refused.   Today Middle East Monitor reports:

During the conference, Hashemi revealed documents and videos proving the involvement of Al-Maliki and his office in acts of torture and serious violations of human rights. He explained that: "most of the detainees are innocent while the real criminals are still free with the knowledge of the security services. The major proof is the continued collapse of security; the incidents, assassinations and sectarian displacement, all with the support of Al-Maliki's security services."

In all the bad western media coverage of 2012, one lie after another was repeated as the 'indpendent' press conveyed Nouri al-Maliki's position like good little stenographers.  The steno pad, for example, was fond of repeating Nouri's lie that an arrest warrant was issued and then Tareq fled Baghdad.  Lie.  Dropping back to December 18, 2011:

AFP reports, "Iraqi Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi and several of his bodyguards were escorted off a plane at Baghdad airport on Sunday because two of the guards were wanted on 'terrorism charges,' officials said, the latest step in a deepening political crisis." Also on the plane was Saleh al-Mutlaq, Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister whom Nouri has asked Parliament to strip the powers of. al-Mutlaq was also forced off the plane. On today's All Things Considered (NPR), Kelly McEvers offered this take:

Kelly McEvers: Here in Kuwait, just having crossed over the border, we have all these US commanders telling us that they're leaving Iraq in a better place, that it's a thriving democracy. Yet in Baghdad it looks like you have Prime Minister Maliki -- who is a Shi'ite and whose government is Shi'ite -- going after his rivals who are Sunnis. Just yesterday, charges were announced against the Vice President who is Sunni and troops surrounded his house. The Maliki government accuses him of being involved in a terrorist plot. But Maliki's detractors say this is sectarian revenge. So you know we've got these promises from US commanders that things are going really well but this kind of national reconciliation government looks like it's unraveling.

Nizar Latif (The National) observes:

Those moves have added to a fear among the prime minister's critics that he is seeking to eliminate rivals and consolidate power.Iraqiyya warned it would pull out of the coalition government unless Mr Al Maliki agreed to seek a solution that respects "democracy and civil institutions".
"Iraq is now in a very difficult position. This is a critical time," said Eytab Al Douri, an MP with the Iraqiyya bloc. "If solutions are not found quickly, Iraq will be heading towards sectarian and ethnic divisions, and a return to civil war."

The Baghdad authorities had Tareq.  They pulled him off the plane (and Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq as well), held him for a few hours and then led to proceed to the KRG.  The next day, December 19, 2011, they issued an arrest warrant.  From that day's snapshot:

CNN reported this afternoon that an arrest warrant had been issued for Iraqi Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi by the Judicial Commitee with the charge of terrorism.  Omar al-Saleh (Al Jazeera) terms it a "poltical crisis" and states, "The government says this has nothing to do with the US withdrawal, that this has nothing to do with the prime minister consolidating his grip on power.  However, members of al-Iraqiya bloc, which Hashimis is a member of, say 'No, [Maliki] is trying to be a dictator."  Sam Dagher (Wall St. Journal) observes, "The arrest warrant puts Mr. Maliki on a possible collision course with the Kurds, who run their own semiautonomous region in the north and participate in the central government but have longstanding disputes with Baghdad over oil and land; and with Sunni Arabs in provinces like Anbar, Diyala, Nineveh and Salahuddin who have pressed in recent weeks for more autonomy from Baghdad with the backing of the Kurds."

Somehow, Nouri's the western press, aka Nouri's steno pool, turned that into "a warrant was issued for al-Hashemi who then fled."

They were so eager to serve Nouri, they didn't even bother to get the timetable correct.

So it's no surprise they also ignored Tareq al-Hashemi's conflict with Nouri.

We didn't.

Because the conflict was long standing.  Just as Nouri became prime minister in 2006, Tareq al-Hashemi became vice president the same year.

They had many conflicts.  The most recurring conflict?  Over the abuse of Iraqis held in detention centers and prisons.  When  Ned Parker (the Los Angeles Times) and Human Rights Watch would reveal the secret prisons -- supervised by Nouri -- where torture took place, everyone would play dumb.  Except al-Hashemi who always had a public statement.  While prisons were otherwise ignored in Iraq, Tareq would announce he was going into one and taking press with him.  In other countries -- and this especially pissed Nouri and his State of Law off in 2010 -- Tareq's visits would include him discussing the abuse taking place in Iraqi prisons.  This was among the reasons, during the 8 month political stalemate of 2010 (Nouri had lost the parliamentary election but refused to step down as prime minister), State of Law was publicly denouncing Tareq and insisting he was not vice president (when he was and would be named to a second term in November of 2010).

I don't doubt that Tareq al-Hashemi has proof of Nouri's crimes against the Iraqi people.  In part because Nouri's so stupid and so crooked.  But also because Tareq's always been sharper than Nouri.  In 2009, when Sunnis were being marginalized in the upcoming elections (as voters), Nouri felt he had a clean sweep at victory.  But that fall, Tareq used his Constitutional power to stop the bill Parliament had passed and to demand that Sunni refugees had the same voting rights of Shi'ite refugees and other Iraqi people.  Nouri was not pleased.

But the steno pool couldn't -- or wouldn't -- tell you that.  They'd lie and type that he was the former vice president.  They could do that.  But he was never stripped of office.  (Failure to first strip him of office is why the verdicts against him have no legal standing.)  Nouri tried.  He spent months -- a little over five -- trying to have Tareq stripped of office and Saleh al-Mutlaq stripped of office as well.  He failed in both cases.  In May of 2012, Nouri dropped his efforts to have Saleh stripped of office and, at the same time, the trial of Tareq (in absentia) also took place.  The two events were related.  Even after the Baghdad judges pronounced Tareq guilty in Februrary 2012, the trial didn't start.  Because Nouri knew he had to first get Tareq stripped of office -- and was convinced he could.  The trial only started after he faced the reality that it wasn't happening -- not for Tareq, not for Saleh.  Then, in violation of the Constitution, the trial began.

I know the press is largely stupid and rarely bother to look at the law.  But by the time Nouri was going after Tareq, even a lazy and ill-informed press should have known what's what.  In part because Nouri attempted to sue an MP only months before.  Sabah al-Saadi was the MP and his criticism of Nouri resulted in Nouri going crazy.   September 22, 2011, Nouri swore out an arrest warrant for al-Saadi. Let's drop back to the September 20, 2011 snapshot:

Meanwhile Dar Addustour reports MP Sabah al-Saadi is stating there is no arrest warrant out against him and that the claims of one stem from Nouri al-Maliki attempting to cover up his own corruption and he states Nouri has deliberately kept the three security ministries vacant and he charges Nouri is willing "to sell Iraq to maintain his hold on power."  Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) observes, "The increasing violence is likely to be taken as a further sign of political gridlock in the Iraqi government, in particular the inability of Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki to name permanent ministers for the key security posts 18 months after the March 2010 elections."

So Sabah al-Saadi was arrested!


As an MP, he had immunity.  The Constitution guarantees him that -- guarantees Nouri that.  Only while in office, but it exists.  And the western press never bothered to tell you that fact.  Though they were frequently able to repeatedly lie and insist that Tareq was a "former" vice president.  Tareq is Vice President he's never been stripped of office.

December 2011, Nouri showed to the world his disrespect for the Constitution and his political rivals as he abused his office to target Nouri.  A year later, he underscored that point.  From the December 21, 2012 snapshot:

In Iraq, it's seasonal tidings.  Yes, that time of the year when Nouri uncorks The Crazy.  How bad is it?  So bad that rumors attach War Criminal Henry Kissinger's name to the current crisis.   Or, with a take from a different angle,  conservative Max Boot (Commentary) proclaims, "Ho hum, another holiday season, another power grab by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki."  AFP says the new crisis "threatens to reignite a long-running feud between the secular, Sunni-backed Iraqiya bloc" and Nouri and his State of Law political slate.  What the heck are we talking about?  Look at this Reuters photo (individual photographer is not credited by the news agency or we'd note him or her by name) of the thousands who turned out to protest in Falluja today demanding Nouri al-Maliki resign as prime minister.
After morning prayers, Kitabat reports, protesters gathered in Falluja to protest the arrests and Nouri al-Maliki.  They chanted down with Nouri's brutality and, in a move that won't change their minds, found themselves descended upon by Nouri's forces who violently ended the protest.  Before that, Al Mada reports, they were chanting that terrorism and Nouri are two sides of the same coin.  Kitabat also reports that demonstrations also took place in Tikrit, Samarra, Ramdia and just outside Falluja with persons from various tribes choosing to block the road connecting Anbar Province (Falluja is the capitol of Anbar) with Baghdad.  Across Iraq, there were calls for Nouri to release the bodyguards of Minister of Finance Rafie al-Issawi.  Alsumaria notes demonstrators in Samarra accused Nouri of attempting to start a sectarian war.
So what happened yesterday?  Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) reports:

Iraq's Finance Minister Rafei al-Essawi said Thursday that "a militia force" raided his house, headquarters and ministry in Baghdad and kidnapped 150 people, and he holds the nation's prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki, responsible for their safety.
 Members of the al-Essawi's staff and guards were among those kidnapped from the ministry Thursday, the finance minister said. He also said that his computers and documents were searched at his house and headquarters. He said the head of security was arrested Wednesday at a Baghdad checkpoint for unknown reasons and that now the compound has no security.

Kitabat explains that these raids took place in the Green Zone, were carried out by the Iraqi military and that Nouri, yesterday evening, was insisting he knew nothing about them.    In another report, Tawfeeq quotes al-Essawi stating, "My message to the prime minister: You are a man who does not respect partnership at all, a man who does not respect the law and the constitution, and I personally hold you fully responsible for the safety of the kidnapped people."

And those December 21, 2012 protests?  Though the western press ignores them, they continue non-stop to this day.  This was the ten month anniversary of the start of them but don't expect to discover that via AP or any other US outlet which seems to see it as a point of pride that they really don't care -- not even to report on Nouri's efforts to ensure that reporters don't cover the protests.  You don't need to read Arabic to grasp how Nouri's forces treat the press, just look at the photo to this Kitabat report.

Embedded image permalink

Iraqi Spring MC reports protests took place in Samarra (above),  Falluja, in Ramadi, in Tikrit, and in Rawah, among other places.  Other places?  How about the KRG?  Erbil found protesters blocking the road and insisting the government provide protection for the people.  Alsumaria reports that an estimated 300 protesters turned out in Erbil.   National Iraqi News Agency reports:

Sheikh Mohammed Fayyad, one of the organizers of Anbar sit-ins ,said to NINA reporter : "The citizens participated in the prayers that held in the courtyard northern Ramadi and eastern Fallujah cities , stressing that the goal of this trickle is to send one again a message to the governing in Baghdad that our demonstrations are peaceful and backed by citizens deep conviction.

Alsumaria reports that, at the Falluja protests, Younis al-Hamadani called for the government to disclose the status of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and that it is impossible to believe the Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki do not know Talabani's condition.  Last December,  Iraqi President Jalal Talabani suffered a stroke.   The incident took place late on December 17th (see the December 18th snapshot) and resulted in Jalal being admitted to Baghdad's Medical Center Hospital.    Thursday, December 20th, he was moved to Germany.  He remains in Germany currently.  al-Nujaifi has disclosed he attempted to meet with Talabani last spring on a trip to Germany but that Talabani's office refused to allow the meet-up to take place.  On the topic of al-Nujaifi, the White House issued the following yesterday:

Readout of Vice President Biden's Call with Iraqi Council of Representatives Speaker Osama al-Nujaifi

Vice President Biden spoke today with Iraqi Council of Representatives Speaker Osama al-Nujaifi. The two leaders discussed events in the region and efforts to bolster moderate forces against the terrorists and other extremists targeting innocent Iraqis. The Vice President expressed his sympathies to the families of those killed in these cowardly attacks.  He also pledged continuing U.S. support under the Strategic Framework Agreement to help Iraq bring the perpetrators of these atrocities to justice.  The Speaker also discussed the important issues pending before the Iraqi parliament, including the law to govern national elections in 2014.  The two leaders noted the recent resolution from the Iraqi parliament, stating that these elections should be held no later than April 30, 2014, and the Vice President urged all of Iraq’s leaders to work together to finalize the election law as soon as possible.

Meanwhile Nouri's gearing up for his visit to the US. Alsumaria reports his visit will begin October 29th.  There are rumors of protests when Nouri meets with Barack on November 1st -- chiefly by the Ashraf community supporters who wear yellow when attending Congressional hearings.

Back to today's protests in Iraq, The Association of Imams and Khateebs released a statement noting that Nouri al-Maliki's government has not responded to the demands of the protesters that the innocent prisoners and detainees be released.

Cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr has publicly called for his supporters to be released from Iraqi prisons.  These are his followers who did not harm the Iraqi people but did resist foreign occupation.  They were long ago supposed to be released.  The Iraq Times reports that Nouri has 'responded' to Moqtada's call.  Earlier this week, the paper reports, Nouri's SWAT goons entered  Camp Cropper Prison in Baghdad and beat up, tortured and electrocuted prisoners associated with Moqtada.   On protests,  The Voice of Russia reports today:

In August a number of individuals protesting in Nasiriyah and Baghdad were assaulted and detained by police. It followed reports that several provinces had refused to issue permits allowing people to protest. On 2 August Iraqi Security Forces in Baghdad are reported to have detained 13 people to prevent them from protesting against corruption and the deteriorating security situation in the country. Some of those detained also claim they were assaulted by security forces.
The British Government said: "We share Human Rights Watch’s concerns about this incident, and the government of Iraq’s use of regulations which allow police to prevent peaceful protest. We are also concerned by reports that Iraqi Security Forces raided Baghdadiya TV station offices on 13 September".

Al Rafidayn reports that, at the start of this week, KRG President Massoud Barzani declared he did not believe Iraq's political crisis could be resolved before the next parliamentary elections (which are supposed to take place April 30th) and he noted that some fear a civil war will break out before then.

Turning to violence, yesterday's snapshot included NINA reporting 10 Baghdad car bombings left 13 people dead and eighty-seven injured. AFP reports today that the death toll for the Thursday Baghdad bombings increased to 44.  Through yesterday, Iraq Body Count counts 601 violent deaths so far this month.  The US Embassy in Baghdad issued the following today:

U.S. Embassy Condemns Attacks During Eid al-Adha

October 18, 2013
The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad condemns in the strongest possible terms the cowardly attacks across Iraq on Thursday, including the targeting of the minority Shabak community in the village of Mwafaqiya. These attacks killed over 50 and injured dozens of innocent men, women, and children. The United States stands with the Iraqi people against this violence and continues to work with the government of Iraq to combat terrorism and to bring to justice those individuals responsible for these cowardly attacks.  Such violence against innocent civilians is always abhorrent, but is particularly reprehensible when inflicted on the occasion of Eid al Adha. We extend our sincere condolences to the families of the victims and wish for a full and speedy recovery to the injured. 

On the violence,  NINA reports a Baghdad car bombing has left 12 people dead and twenty-three injured, a Tikrit bombing claimed 6 lives and left nineteen injured, and a Dour bombing claimed the life of 1 police officer and left three more injured.

Yesterday in Iraq, violence targeted the Shabaks. This led to, All Iraq News notes, a protest in Nineveh Province demanding that security measures be taken.   Today the religious minority under attack was the Yezidis.  National Iraqi News Agency reports that 3 Yezidis were stabbed to death in Sinjar.

In 2007, Sean Thomas (Daily Mail) noted the Yezidis "number between 400,00 and 800,000" globaly.  The Yezidi Human Rights Organization-International states:

We Yezidis are an Ezidi speaking people who live principally in northern Iraq presently.  We number approximately 650,000 - 750,000 in Iraq; smaller populations live in Syria, and Turkey, Russia, Armenia, Georgia and  with more than 200,000 settled in other parts of the world especially Germany and other European countries such as the Netherlands, France, Denmark, Belgium, Austria; small communities live in USA, Canada, Australia, etc.  We Yezidis are mostly a poor and oppressed people in today’s world without basic human rights recognition and protection from the International Communities, but we have a very rich spiritual tradition that we contend is the world's oldest people.  Originally we Ezidis are from the heartland of Mesopotamia (Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey and Iran) and also some live in India.  And about 900 years ago, we Yezidis also were living in Afghanistan (Kandahar), Yemen (Sinjar), Tunis, Morocco and Algeria, but unfortunately due to Islamic extremists and fanatics’ attacks against us, the Yezidi people were totally annihilated in those regions.  Well before this time, as far back as 4000 B.C., we Yezidis were living in the Middle East and playing an important role in the Sumerian, Babylonian, Assyrian, and Jewish civilizations. Today, we (the Yezidis) have the oldest religion in the world, contending that the truth of this is reflected in the antiquity of our calendar.  We can trace back our religious calendar 6760 years, thus making 2010 Calendar Era (CE), the Yezidis year of 6760.  In relation to some of the other major religions, our Yezidi Calendar is 4,750 years older than the Christian or Gregorian calendar, 990 years older than the Jewish calendar, and it is 5329 years older than the Muslim Calendar. In the past 20 years to present, especially since the internet has become the easiest way to find information regarding whatever a person wishes to search for.  We have seen that more than 99% of the writers accusing the innocent Yezidi as devil worshipers, this is absolutely pure fiction.  During the Saddam’s era, the Yezidis were misclassified as Arab in ethnicity by his political force.  Although Saddam has gone, but the KRG (Real Dictators) has come to power in Northern Iraq since 1991, and they also are forcing the innocent Yezidis to be misclassified as Kurdish; again this time under KRG’s brutal and dictatorial system. All these are misleading, untruth, and pure fiction information about the innocent Yezidis (Ezdae). 

Stuart Stevenson is the president of the European Parliment's Iraq delegation.  Last week, he wrote (The Hill) about the vast number of groups targeted and at risk in Iraq:

The Syrian conflict raging on the borders of Iraq has poured petrol on the flames. In Iraqi Kurdistan, one of the few havens of peace in the country, terrorists have infiltrated groups of refugees fleeing to safety, setting off a series of bombs in the Kurdish capital Erbil some days ago that killed six people and injured dozens, the first terrorist attack in six years. Kurdistan is now swarming with refugees, not only from Syria but from the rest of Iraq, where ethnic minorities as well as minority women and LGBTI (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex) individuals are daily at risk from targeted violence, arbitrary arrest and detention, torture, harassment, intimidation, displacement, political disenfranchisement and social and economic marginalization. 
The many ethnic groups who for generations lived in peaceful harmony side by side with the majority Shia and Sunni communities now suffer systematic abuse. Despite being guaranteed safety and security in a multi-faith society enshrined by the Iraqi Constitution, the reality is much different. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, a puppet of neighboring Iran and its hard-line mullahs, has become increasingly sectarian, ruthlessly removing all Sunni politicians from influential government positions and cracking down hard on dissent. The predictable Sunni backlash has unleashed a storm of violence, directed not only at the Shiite community but inevitably targeting ethnic minorities.
The Christian population of Iraq, once estimated at more than 1.5 million, is now down to less than half that figure, with many Christians fleeing abroad or to Kurdistan for safety. Soon, some people think that one of the oldest Christian communities in the world may become extinct. But they are not the only minority facing ethnic cleansing. There are only around 3,500 Mandean-Sabeans left from a previous population estimated at 70,000 a mere 10 years ago. Iraq’s Jews have suffered extreme persecution since the 1950s and now there are now only an estimated 10 individuals left living in the country from an original population of more than 150,000, although it is reckoned that many others may be in hiding, literally practicing their faith in secret in the privacy of their homes.
Other ethnic groups like the Turkmen, Baha’i, Shabak and Yezidi minorities all suffer discrimination, despite their rights being guaranteed in the Constitution. The black Iraqis, an ancient community of African slave descent, are regarded as inferior by many of their Arab neighbors and live as almost total outcasts, mostly in Southern Iraq, where -- despite numbering around 2 million -- they are denied identity documents, marriage certificates or even access to basic education for their children, and live in abject poverty.
Around the world, countries have often had wonderful sounding documents that outlined rights but were, in fact, not practiced.  As the illegal spying scandal has made clear US President Barack Obama -- 'the Constitutional law professor' -- declared the Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution null and void, Americans are beginning to see how different the written law and that actually practiced by the government can be.

Turning to today's press briefing at the State Dept by spokesperson Jen Psaki:

QUESTION: The New York Times piece on Snowden today makes reference to his claims that while in Hong Kong, before going to Russia, he transferred information to other journalists at that time. We do know, of course, that the Consulate and whatnot had been alerted, and I’m wondering if there’s any information as to what the State Department had done at that time, whether there’d been any outreach to these journalists who allegedly received this information from him.

MS. PSAKI: I just don’t have any new information. Obviously, as you all know, we work with journalists frequently when they’re reporting on stories, but in terms of what the statements were in The New York Times and the accuracy of those, I don’t have anything new for you on that.

QUESTION: But was there – was there any outreach by the Consulate in Hong Kong at that time to make contact with those journalists?

MS. PSAKI: I’d have to check on that. I’m happy to do that for you .

What's being discussed?  Kind-of-sort-of today's front page of today's New York Times has an article by James Risen on NSA whistle-blower Ed Snowden.  Risen interviewed Ed online, over several days.  Risen reports:

 He argued that he had helped American national security by prompting a badly needed public debate about the scope of the intelligence effort. “The secret continuance of these programs represents a far greater danger than their disclosure,” he said. He added that he had been more concerned that Americans had not been told about the N.S.A.’s reach than he was about any specific surveillance operation.
“So long as there’s broad support amongst a people, it can be argued there’s a level of legitimacy even to the most invasive and morally wrong program, as it was an informed and willing decision,” he said. “However, programs that are implemented in secret, out of public oversight, lack that legitimacy, and that’s a problem. It also represents a dangerous normalization of ‘governing in the dark,’ where decisions with enormous public impact occur without any public input.”         

In the interview, he speaks of a climate of fear and intimidation at the NSA.  He explains that going through channels does not work -- through the examples of what was done to Thomas Drake as well as a minor spat he had with a supervisor when he (Ed) identified a flaw in the CIA software.  In 2009, while removing items that were not supposed to be on a computer, he came across an IG report on the NSA's illegal spying under Bully Boy Bush and discovered how pervasive and illegal the spying was.  He tells Risen he realized, "If the highest officials in government can break the law without fearing punishment or even any repercussions at all, secret powers become tremendously dangerous."

Somehow this was missed by the press at today's briefing and in the 'reporting' by  the BBC, AP,  and Michael Winter (USA Today).   We'll close with two Tweets from YourAnonNews:

  • Why Is Preventing The Release Of The Senate Torture Report?
  • Head of NSA's Snowden task force will be next deputy director

  • Thursday, October 17, 2013

    Syria again

    American Diplomacy features an important speech by Thomas E. McNamara which closes with this on Syria:

    Syria: Some Observations and Lessons
    • Divisions over Syria are a consequence of Afghanistan and Iraq. They reflect our PTSD because we doubt — as do our friends — our ability to use power effectively. The public, sees Syria as another Iraq. It shies away from any involvement, believing it must lead to military action.  Diplomacy must be our first, and most persistent recourse in Syria and elsewhere.
    • Diplomacy, if successful (a huge “if”), may close a rogue chemical weapons program, and could significantly change Syria’s civil war. It is well worth trying.
    • Diplomacy alone did not get us to this point. I recall Kofi Annan after meeting with Saddam Hussain in 2003. Asked if diplomacy could work, he replied that it can, but that diplomacy backed by the threat of force works even better. Our threat to use force was one, but not the only, reason Russia and Syria might destroy those weapons. It should remain on the table.
    • Among Russia’s objectives are to seize an opportunity to become a Mideast power after a 40-year marginalization and to preserve its Syrian foothold in the Mideast. Putin will help or abandon Assad, depending on how either helps achieve these. Among Iran’s objectives are to eliminate sanctions, which are hurting Iran, by improving relations with the U.S., and to build a Shiite corridor from Teheran to the Mediterranean (Tehran, Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut).
    • Lesson #1: Draw red lines very rarely and not unless we are certain we are ready, willing, and able to react when they are crossed.   
    • Lesson #2: Threats, like red lines, should be used rarely and not unless we are certain we are ready, willing, and able to enforce them.
    • Lesson #3: Declaring regime change does no good. It limits our flexibility, drives the regime to dig in harder, increases repression, and raises false expectations among our partners and the regime’s opponents.  Don’t declare it; just do it, when necessary.
    However Syria turns out, we need to get our policies, priorities, and capabilities in line, or the future will not be a good for us in the Mideast or elsewhere.bluestar

    He worked for Reagan and he's more cautious than some Democrats and certainly more so than Mia Farrow. Here's his bio, by the way:

    Thomas E. McNamara, a retired career Foreign Service officer, served as assistant secretary of state for political-military affairs, ambassador to Colombia, ambassador-at-large for counterterrorism, and on the NSC staffs of Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush, among other senior assignments. He is Adjunct Professor at the The Elliott School of International Affairs of The George Washington University.

    Diplomacy should always be our first goal.  War should always be a last resort.  In any lead up to a war, questions should be encouraged not silenced.

    I felt that way with the start of Iraq.  Unlike Mia Farrow and other idiots, the fact that a Democrat's in the White House now does not mean I believe war is okay or not to be questioned.

    "Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
    Wednesday,  October 16, 2013.  Chaos and violence continue, Nouri is visiting (the press reports after the White House gives them permission), failure Nouri asks Iraqis to stop using electricity, we again review the fact that US troops are not out of Iraq, The Drone War goes on, Cindy Sheehan goes on trial next week for protesting The Drone War, and much more.

    Statement by the Press Secretary on the Visit of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki of Iraq

    On Friday, November 1, President Obama will host Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki at the White House.  The visit will highlight the importance of the U.S.-Iraq relationship under the U.S.-Iraq Strategic Framework Agreement (SFA).  The President looks forward to discussing with Prime Minister Maliki efforts to enhance cooperation in the fields covered under the SFA, and to coordinating on a range of regional issues.

    Strange this wasn't noted in today's State Dept press briefing.  Even stranger is the press coverage like The Voice of Russia, Reuters, AFP, David Jackson (USA Today), and KUNA.  Dropping back to Monday's snapshot:

    His intended end of the month visit to DC is about making sure that he still has the White House backing.  While the US government has refused to acknowledge the visit and the last official statement (from State Dept spokesperson Marie Harf) this past week is that there is no visit, the Iraqi press tells a different story.  Nouri's office announced the visit October 6th the one the State Dept was denying on Wednesday.  Saturday,  All Iraq News reported on Nouri's planned visit to DC noting that security issues will be the focus of the meet-up.  National Iraqi News Agency reports today the visit is scheduled for October 25th.   And, by the way, this visit Marie Harf lied about?  NINA notes it comes "in response to an official invitation of U.S. President Barack Obama."

    The 'reports' today ignore Marie Harf's attempt to pretend no visit was taking place.

    The 'reports' do more than that, however.

    It illustrates just how much is wrong with the press.

    The US government denied the meeting (spokesperson Harf).

    And that was it for the media.

    "News" is only what the US government says it is.

    It did not matter, to the press, that Nouri al-Maliki's office had announced the meeting that, even after the no-meeting-we-know-of denial, Nouri's office continued discussing the visit.

    The Iraqi press -- only the Iraqi press -- continued to report on the visit.

    One denial from a flunkie like Marie Harf and the world's press goes into silent mode.

    How shameful and how disgusting but, most of all, how telling.

    Marie Harf's press briefings are quickly becoming one of the biggest jokes of the administration.  Earlier this week, Kelley B. Vlahos noted some of Harf's issues from that press briefing in a column entitled "Washington's Silence On Iraq" (  A number of people felt the need to weigh in on that -- to complain that a column they liked -- or in three cases -- that they wrote didn't get highlighted but Libertarian Vlahos did.

    Kelley wrote an epic column filled with important points.

    One of these columns that we ignored was a piece Charles Davis wrote for Al Jazeera.  He is calling out Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for not doing everything to end the Iraq War while wining about how some Republicans with convictions (whether you agree with them or not, they have convictions and -- unlike Reid -- they have spines).

    As I've ignored it, the e-mails on it have grown more frantic.  I should, I'm told, not only highlight it but love it because I wrote the same way on US House Rep Tim Ryan.

    I would disagree about "same."  I wrote in a much stronger tone and did that in the October 4th snapshot.  So for Davis to show up two days later?  I don't consider it an homage.  I really wouldn't call it theft because it's just an approach.  But again, I called out strongly while Davis kind of whimpers and that bothered me more than the derivative nature of his column.

    But that's not what didn't get him linked.  To stop the endless e-mails -- and to introduce reality again -- I'm explain why I did not highlight his column.  Davis wrote:

    The last US soldier did not leave Iraq until the end of 2011. And even that belated withdrawal, which left behind an army of private military contractors, was required as a result of an agreement signed by President George W. Bush - and, sort of importantly, demanded by Iraqis. Numerous Democratic fundraising letters were no doubt written around opposition to the war, but only an Iraqi refusal to grant US troops legal immunity for their acts on Iraqi soil compelled the US government to finally leave.

    Davis is a stupid idiot. If he doesn't like that?  Maybe he'd prefer to be called a stupid liar?

    Those are the choices.

    All US troops left at the end of 2011, did they?  Then why, at the end of September 2012, did  Tim Arango (New York Times) report this in the middle of an article on Syria:

    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 General Caslen, a unit of Army Special Operations soldiers was recently deployed to Iraq to advise on counterterrorism and help with intelligence.        

    Robert Caslen is now stateside, the superintendent at West Point, if some one in the lazy US press would like to ask him about his revelation that the Iraqi government, in fall 2012, asked for US troops and Barack Obama sent in "a unit of Army Special Operations soldiers"?

    Here's his home page at West Point, there are contact forms at the bottom.  We covered Tim Arango's report.  Just here, we've covered it over sixty times since it was published.  That agreement Arango noted?  It was signed in December.  We covered it.

    No one else bothered to.  We did.

    Let's go to the April 30th Iraq snapshot:

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

    December 6th, Alsumaria was covering it.  December 6th, though the US press ignored the MoU, the Pentagon even issued a press release on it.  Use that day's link.  What did the agreement say?  No one knew because -- despite providing a link online (the link didn't work) -- the Pentagon hadn't published it.  They did on December 10th and a DoD friend called to tell me it was up online.  At which point we returned to the topic to anlyze it.

    Because no one else was covering it -- and because it allowed for joint patrols (US and Iraqi) in Iraq,  angry e-mailers flooded the public account --  apparently, they could figure out how to click on "send" but not how to click on a link.  So we returned to the topic the next day.

    That was December 2012.  Starting in 2013, Kenneth Katzman's regular report,  entitled "Iraq: Politics, Governance, and Human Rights," for the US Congressional Research Service, began noting the same things.  That's Congress' think tank so if you missed Tim Arango's report -- and a lot of people did apparently -- every few weeks Katzman would publish a new report on Iraq noting the Special Ops sent back in, the MoU and more.

    At this late date, I don't even care that they're unaware of the over 10,000 (still over 10,000) US troops stationed in countries surrounding Iraq (such as Kuwait which has the bulk), or that they're unaware of the so-called 'trainers,' or that they missed Ted Koppel's important report in December 2011.

    At this late date, I'll let all that slide.  But when you're pimping the lie that US troops are not in Iraq -- pimping because you're stupid, you're a whore, you're a liar or what (I don't know and I don't care), I'm not in the mood to link to you, let alone praise you.

    Quinton D. Thompson writes a letter to the editors of the Baltimore Sun.  It seems like a heartfelt letter but it includes this:

    First, the authors stated that the combat troops associated with the war effort had left Iraq, when in fact they didn't just leave. Instead, they were withdrawn and sent home at the end of 2011 by President Barack Obama in an obvious political ploy to enhance his chances of being reelected in 2012.
    Quinton D. Thompson isn't a journalist.  He doesn't write columns.  He depends on the US media to inform him.
    And they failed.
    They failed day after damn day.

    Charles Davis is only one in  a string of disappointments who have lied to the American people by insisting all US troops are out of Iraq.

    What are we supposed to do?

    Seriously.  When a lie is repeated over and over, day after day, are we just supposed to be silent?

    Are we supposed to be 'nice' and 'ladylike' and look the other way?

    Maybe some will but I won't.

    I am damn tired of the fact that when a Tim Arango squeezes some truth into the news reporting, it is ignored, it is as if it never happened.

    You can be damn sure that if Bully Boy Bush were in the White House now and had sent a unit back into Iraq in 2012, it would be huge news across the spectrum.

    But instead we're a county of Medea Benjamins who self-present as activists but are truly little more than wet nurses to Barack Obama.  CODESTINK should have been calling for protests the day Arango's 2012 report hit the net.  They didn't.  They've never even acknowledged it.

    People like Medea and certain others aren't about peace or ending war.  They're about covering for Democrats and complaining about Republicans.  They exist not to make a better world, they exist to try to scare up votes for the Democratic Party.

    It's too bad because if it weren't for the shutdown, the US military would likely be launched against Syria and more US military would be back in Iraq.  Not "likely" on Iraq.  It would be -- according to two DoD friends.  Remember, it was back in June that Gen Martin Dempsey, Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, stated,  "We've made a recommendation that as we look at the challenges faced by the Lebanese armed forces, the Iraqi security forces with a re-emerging Al Qaida in Iraq, and the Jordanians, that we would work with them to help them build additional capability."

    Maybe you don't remember?  Maybe you missed that too?  Like you're missing the reason for Nouri's visit?

    We'll tell the truth here.  I can't control the lies that are spread elsewhere.  But we can, and we will, call them out here.

    Today the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe issued the following statement:

    “We must make sure that water remains a catalyst for cooperation not conflict among communities and countries” stated United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon at the opening of the Budapest Water Summit on 8 October 2013, while underlining the role in this regard of the UNECE Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes (Water Convention): “This (Convention) will soon be available to all United Nations Member States. I urge countries outside the UNECE region to join the Convention and further develop it.” An amendment opening up this previously regional agreement entered into force in February 2013 and countries are expected to be able to join from early 2014.
    The Secretary-General’s words were echoed by Sven Alkalaj, UNECE Executive Secretary, who also underlined the complementarity of the Water Convention with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Non-navigational Uses of International Watercourses – also known as the United Nations Watercourses Convention. “Cooperation on water resources shared by two or more countries is vital for peace, stability and economic growth and a precondition for sustainable development”, he said.
    The United Nations Watercourses Convention is expected to enter into force by the end of 2013, thus creating, with the UNECE Water Convention, a comprehensive international legal framework for transboundary water cooperation and the avoidance of conflict. The new treaty regime will strengthen transboundary water cooperation if, as earlier called for by the Secretary-General, the two legal frameworks are implemented in a synergistic way.
    It was against this background that a panel discussion was held later in the Budapest Water Summit, on 9 October, to examine how global frameworks strengthen transboundary water cooperation in practice. During the discussion, the Minister of Agriculture of Tunisia, Mohamed Ben Salem, reconfirmed Tunisia’s interest in joining the UNECE Water Convention — in a spirit of cooperation and good neighbourliness — and also explained how Tunisia was already cooperating with neighbouring countries over shared water resources, such as with Algeria.
    Other non-UNECE countries manifested similar intentions. The Ambassador of Iraq to Hungary, on behalf of the Minister of Water Resources of Iraq, Mohanad Salman Al-Sady expressed his country’s willingness to join the UNECE Water Convention, explaining that Iraq believed that the two Conventions — the United Nations Watercourses Convention and the UNECE Water Convention — are “complementary for an effective role in the region in supporting and strengthening the cooperation on sustainable water management”. He further explained that the legal aspects of the United Nations Convention could be perfectly supported by the institutional model that had been developed by the UNECE Convention over the past 20 years.
    Katariina Poskiparta, State Secretary in the Finnish Ministry of the Environment, presented her country’s rich experience in transboundary water cooperation and its support of the two global agreements. André Laperrière, Deputy CEO of the Global Environment Facility, provided practical examples of investments under the Facility’s international waters programme.

    Moving from water to electricity,  AFP reports that Iraqis are still having to rely on private generators for electricity.  Yesterday, they offered a photo essay of "electricity-starved Iraq."  All that oil and all that oil money and Nouri's still not managed to provide basic, reliable electricity for the people of Iraq (though there are no electricity shortages in the fortified Green Zone).   This as 6.4 million Iraqis live below the poverty line (that's the official number, the real number is probably higher).  That's a fifth of the country's population.  Nouri's failed them as well.  Today, that only became more clear.  All Iraq News reports Nouri used his weekly televised address to call for Iraqis to reduce their use of electricity and insisting Iraqis only use electricity (his words) "for cooking or heating."  Iraq is one of the three oil richest countries in the world, billions and billions of dollars flow into Iraq's coffers each year as a result of petrol sales; however, the government not only has failed to provide regular and consistent electricity, Nouri's now urging Iraqis to cut back on their use of the limited electricity available.

    Since 2006, he has been prime minister.  And yet Iraq's public services have not improved.  The rainy seasons mean flooding throughout the country -- knee high in parts of Baghdad -- because Nouri wouldn't fix the sanitation services -- even public gutters were too much for Nouri.  Outside Baghdad.  Thank goodness for the International Red Crescent.  Were it not in Iraq, who would aid all the people forced to flee their homes due to heavy rains?  Or the ones whose homes collapsed in the heavy rains?

    And there's the other water issue -- potable water.  That means safe drinking water.  Nouri can't provide that either so Iraqis have to use tablets and have to boil water to make it safe to drink.

    Seven years ago, Nouri became prime minister and he's done nothing to help the Iraqi people.

    Yesterday, UNAMI issued the following:

    The Secretary-General condemns in the strongest terms the string of bombings that have killed and wounded scores of people, including school children, across Iraq over the past days. He extends his deepest condolences to the families of the victims and the Government of Iraq and wishes the wounded a speedy recovery.
    These attacks, the latest in an upsurge of bombings, are particularly despicable as they hit Iraqis at a time when they extend their hands to the needy and the suffering on the occasion of Eid Al-Adha. On this holiday, the Secretary-General reiterates his call on Iraqi leaders to work for political unity and bring the country back from the brink of sectarian violence.
    The United Nations, including the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), will continue to support the Government and people of Iraq in building a peaceful, democratic and prosperous country.

    Iraq Body Count counts 22 violent deaths yesterday which would include the 15 deaths (including three children) AFP reported from the bomb targeting a Sunni mosque in Kirkuk.  Today's violence?  National Iraqi News Agency reports a Tikrit roadside bombing claimed the life of 1 police officer and left another injured, 1 police officer was shot dead in Falluja as he left his home, a Ramadi bombing has left four members of the police injured, an Abu-Saida roadside bombing killed 2 people with three more injured (the dead and injured were from the same family), an armed attack in Falluja left 1 police officer dead and another injured, a Falluja roadside bombing left two Iraqi soldiers injured, a Barwanah police station was attacked with mortars, a Ramadi police station came under mortar attack,  and a Hadeethah roadside bombing left the Police Chief of Hadeethah "and one of his bodyguards injured.  All Iraq News adds an Iskandariya bombing injured one person, and armed clashes left 4 militants dead in Tikrit.  Alsumaria reports that a bombing north east of Baquba has claimed the life of 1 farmer and left five more injured.  Through yesterday, Iraq Body Count counts 520 violent deaths so far this month.

    In other news, NINA reports, "The Board of Commissioners of the Electoral Commission endorsed the timetable for the 2014 election of the House of Representatives."  This comes as Alsumaria reports the leader of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, Ammar al-Hakim, declared today that there must not be a postponing of the elections for any reason.  As everyone should be aware by now, with elections in Iraq nothing can be taken for granted.  All Iraq News quotes Hakim in their report:

    Hakim said in a speech he cited at his office “Only few months separate us from the parliamentary elections which will give the authority for the coming government through the polling boxes,” stressing that “Iraq needs fair electoral system to meet expectations of all Iraqis rather than the desires of this party or that bloc.” 

    Turning to The Drone War,  The Bureau of Investigative Journalism has started a project entitled Naming The Dead.  It's an important project.  The Drone War is killing people.  The Drone War is overseen by Barack Obama and he and the White House lie about who dies insisting they're all terrorists -- even the children apparently.  And as long as the dead are nothing but (under-reported) numbers, it's easy for those in the US to avoid reality and ignore the assassinations that are taking place.  As Cedric and Wally noted this morning (see "Sit down, tired Medea" and "THIS JUST IN! WEAK ASS MEDEA BENJAMIN!"), 16-year-old Malala Yousafazal can look Barack Obama in the face and tell him he needs to stop The Drone War on Pakistan but cowardly Medea can babble on in interviews about how awful The Drone War is while refusing to even mention Barack's name.  It's important to name the victims.  It's as important to name the criminals.

    This month, Paul Gottinger (World Can't Wait) interviewed journalist Madiha Tahir about The Drone War:

    PG: How do most Pakistanis see the U.S. drone attacks? Is there a difference between how the drone attacks are seen by the people directly impacted and the people in the larger urban areas like Karachi and Islamabad?

    MT: I’ve spoken to family of victims and survivors of drone attacks in the tribal areas. There is not a single one that is for the drone attacks obviously. I think that is the predominant attitude in the tribal areas, particularly in North Waziristan, which is subject to drone attacks. But there is some discussion. People are feed up with the Pakistani military and they are feed up with the violence of the militants. So out of the frustration some of the people who are not directly impacted, but still live in these areas say, ‘if these are our choices… If there is no fourth choice, and we have to live with the violence of the Pakistani military, or the violence of the militants, or the violence of the drones, then maybe the drones are the best option. But these choices are made in a very specific context with limited options.

    Cindy Sheehan's called out The Drone War -- and all the wars Bully Boy Bush and Barack have elected to start.  She frequenly refers to Barack as "Obomber."  (My personal favorite of late is Wally and Cedric's use of The Dahlibama.)  Cindy's protested these wars.  And, as she notes today, she's been arrested for these wars.  She's going on trial next week:

    This past June 29th, (near the end of Tour de Peace) we were holding a demo against drone bombing in front of CIA HQ at Langley, VA and six of us were detained because we held a simulated drone attack and "die-in" past the yellow crime tape (appropriate that the CIA wrapped itself in crime tape, since many unspeakable things are planned from there). We SIX are going on trial in Alexandria, VA on October 22 (info below). We are defending ourselves "pro se."

    The CIA 6 are: Joy First; Malachy Kilbride; Max Obuszewski; Janice Sevre-Duszynska, Phillip Runkel, and Me. Except for Malachy and Max, we all come from out of the area.

    The policy of using UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) to bomb civilians still continues and has greatly expanded under the Obama administration, however principled protest has contracted.

    If you are able, please donate to defray my expenses to journey back to the Belly for this trial. Anything collected above and over my expenses, I will share with my co-DEFENDants. 

    We are doing the "time," can you spare a "dime?"


    TUESDAY, October 22
    8:30 AM

    Albert V. Bryan U.S. Courthouse
    401 Courthouse Square
    Alexandria, VA 22314 

    If you would like to donate to the legal expenses -- and can spare it -- you can do so online here or you can:


    Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox, LLC
    PO Box 6264
    Vacaville, Ca 95696

    Yesterday was Global Hand Washing Day.  I wasn't aware, maybe you were?  A friend with UNICEF asked if we could note the following:

    NEW YORK, 15 October 2013 – As the world observes the 6th annual Global Handwashing Day, new figures from UNICEF say 1,400 children under five still die every day from diarrhoeal diseases caused by a lack of safe water, sanitation and basic hygiene.
    “The simple act of handwashing with soap is one of the most effective ways to save children’s lives,” said Sanjay Wijesekera, global head of UNICEF’s Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) programmes. “Washing hands before eating and after defecation drastically reduces the spread of diarrhoeal disease and has far reaching effects on the health and welfare of children and communities.”
    According to UNICEF, diarrhoea remains the second largest cause of under-five mortality globally. With 600,000 children dying in each year and over 1.7 billion cases, diarrhoeal diseases are also associated with a higher risk of stunting (low weight for age and developmental delay) and take a huge toll on society. However, one of the simplest and most inexpensive barriers to infection is handwashing with soap.
    Global Handwashing Day events around the world are helping promote handwashing and raise awareness of the crucially important role it plays in child survival and overall community health.
    In Ethiopia around 5 million children will participate in handwashing demonstrations and workshops around the country.
    In Yemen, Global Handwashing Day celebrations will take place in 3,300 schools, involving 1.4 million children. There will also be a mass media campaign aimed at sensitizing the public around hand washing.  
    One thousand school children in Viet Nam; 450 primary schools in Sierra Leone and 424 in Mali; 200 schools in 50 communities in the Gambia; 12 cities in Indonesia and 22 educational institutions in several municipalities in Bolivia – all will be holding Global Hand Washing Day activities.
    This year’s theme, announced by the Global Public Private Partnership for Handwashing, which includes UNICEF, is "The power is in your hands" because, the Partnership says, everyone has the power to create healthier communities through handwashing with soap. 
    “The evidence is clear.  Each individual—every mother, every child, every teacher, every member of every community—can contribute to the health of all by just washing their hands,” said Wijesekera. “If you knew of something monumental that could benefit the world, you would do it. Everyone has this power – simply wet, lather and rinse - with soap and water.”

    I said we'd include it at the end of the snapshot and I would also repost this weekend.  If I'd been asked yesterday, we would have noted it then.  As the press release notes, "Everyone has this power."