Saturday, March 31, 2018

All At Once

Zuckerberg's refusal to testify before UK MPs 'absolutely astonishing'

It is astonishing and, as I said earlier this week, something that will prevent him from running from president.

Let's celebrate with Jack Johnson's "All At Once."

"Iraq snapshot" (THECOMMON ILLS):
Friday, March 30, 2018.  So many enable the current war and occupation of Iraq.

The key to understanding Gary Younge is to remember he lies frequently.  When he writes for THE GUARDIAN (writing often reproduced in THE NATION), he's one way.  When he's writing for a Socialist publication, he's another way.  He can tailor himself to fit any outlet.  He did so this week at THE GUARDIAN where he made two key points about the Iraq War:

First, because many are still living with the consequences. Amnesia is the privilege of the powerful. The powerless do not have the luxury of moving on, because their nations have been flattened, economies ruined and sectarian divisions deepened and weaponised as a result of a war that was prosecuted in their name.
Second, it was the greatest foreign policy error of a generation or more, in which most of the political class and the media class were entirely complicit. We cannot walk away – because it has changed who we are, and so wherever we go, this dark shadow follows us.

It was really hard for him to get there because he had to provide links and he was writing for a UK audience.  This meant noting some of Tony Blair's claims (lies) in the lead up to the war.  It also means he can't note the Downing St. Memos that document so much about how Tony and Bully Boy Bush worked it out ahead of time.  In the US, much was made about the corporate media ignoring the memo but the reality is that they weren't the only ones.  The blessed GUARDIAN, to this day, has never mentioned them.  (THE TIMES OF LONDON is the British paper that first reported on them.)  That's because you can't call out Labour too harshly in the New Labour outlet that THE GUARDIAN is.

Now you can write any truth about the United States in THE GUARDIAN and Ajay Singh Chaudhary gets a few in:

Although Trump still has plenty of time to catch up (and I fear he will), his crimes do not come close to the crimes against humanity committed by members of our ruling class from political leadership to the media in our lifetime. I won’t list names here because it would be too inflammatory, but there are dozens, hundreds, who would be facing tribunals if they were not American.
They not only walk free but are rewarded for their complicity in one of the key moments that is the short walk to now. Watching the sickening rehabilitation of political and media figures of this period – and for some the simple continuity – is also a reminder of the partial utility of that term “totalitarian”.
No matter how much they destroy, how many lines they cross, whom they murder en masse, their respectability is unaffected, their leadership de rigueur. This was not the failure of the rule of law: this is the rule of law in a system in which any attempt to transform power or even challenge it has been silenced.
This was not because “norms” or the constitution were violated; this was the absolute functioning of norms and the constitution. This was the America that some tell me was already great.

But you cannot tell the truth about the UK government in THE GUARDIAN -- which is why Gary's links in his article to opposition go to GUARDIAN articles published . . . after the war had started.

From Gary, let's go to another whore of Babylon, Jane Arraf (NPR at this moment):

In 2014, tens of thousands of members of the Yazidi religious minority, facing genocide from ISIS, escaped to the mountain from the town of Sinjar and surrounding villages in northern Iraq.
The United States said it entered the war against ISIS partly to protect Yazidis trapped on the mountain with no food and water.
Four years later, several thousand of them remain there. Destitute and living in tents, they are still too afraid to come down.

True Barack story, in late 2015 as the Yazidis were still refusing attempts to 'rescue' them by getting them off the mountain, then-President Barack Obama wondered "what the f**k do they want?"  A very good question.  But not one that should have surprised him or anyone else.

In real time, in 2014, with this situation, we were quite clear.  We said don't send in US troops.  We said do air drops of packages so that they didn't starve.

That's what should have been done.

The US forces and the Kurds both provided every opportunity for the Yazidis to get off Mount Sinjar.  Not for one day, not for one week, not for one month, not even for one year.  Over and over they provided that opportunity.  The Yazdis wouldn't -- and still won't -- leave.

"I'm trapped!  I'm trapped! Rescue me!"

Save yourself.


Are you a kitten caught in a tree?

I am not a pretty girl
That is not what I do
I ain't no damsel in distress
And I don't need to be rescued, so
So put me down, punk
Wouldn't you prefer a maiden fair?
Isn't there a kitten stuck up a tree somewhere?
[. . .]
And what if there are no damsels in distress?
What if I knew that, and I called your bluff?
Don't you think every kitten
Figures out how to get down
Whether or not you ever show up?

The Yazidis don't figure it out because they don't want anything but to start more wars.  I don't know if that has to do with their worship or what.

But they have certainly been vocal about how the Kurds abandoned them!  Left them on Mt. Sinjar!  They are trapped!

No, you had you chances to come down but you refused to.  That's on you.  And everyone knows the Yazidis will use the same sentences to gripe about the US just as soon as they figure they've drained the US out of all the sympathy they can get.

The Yazidis are victims of their own making.

PIX 11 reports:

A native son of Carmel, Indiana, who served with New York City's fire department and died in Iraq received a send-off punctuated by crisp military precision, appreciation and moments of joy.
Capt. Christopher "Tripp" Zanetis was celebrated at New York University by Mayor Bill de Blasio, fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro and many others after a solemn ceremony in nearby Washington Square Park on Thursday.
On Long Island, a funeral was held for Staff Sgt. Dashan Briggs, another of the four New York Air National Guardsmen killed in a March 15 helicopter crash. Funerals will be held Saturday on Long Island for Master Sgt. Christopher Raguso, another fire department veteran, and on April 6 in Tampa, Florida, for Capt. Andreas O'Keeffe.

Amid the chaos of 9/11, as the fires burned at Ground Zero, volunteer Christopher Zanetis worked alongside the FDNY members searching in the rubble for their lost brothers.
Three years later, he joined their ranks. And in 2008, the heroic Zanetis became a member of the Air National Guard.
The 37-year-old FDNY fire marshal and U.S. Air Force major, who was killed March 15 in a helicopter crash in Iraq, was honored Thursday for a life driven by service for city and country at an emotional Greenwich Village sendoff.
The “Celebration of Life” began at his old East Village firehouse and continued in Washington Square Park, where his his brown wood casket arrived beneath its massive marble arch.

Funeral services were held today for Tech. Sgt. Dashan Briggs, of Port Jeff Station – one of four members of the Air National Guard's 106th Rescue Wing who died earlier this month in a chopper crash in Iraq.
Friends spoke Thursday about how giving he was, how great he was as a father, and how honored they were to have served with him.

Would those service members have died were it not for the Yazidi spokespersons (and the neocon p.r. firm in the US)?  Maybe not.

They refused to be rescued after their spokespeople insisted they needed to be rescued.  They should accept the fact that many have tired of their little-boy-who-cried-wolf ploys.

Again, we didn't play heartless here.  We said if they're trapped, drop food on the mountain for them.  But instead it was send more US troops into Iraq.  Where they remain.

Melissa Steininger (WTAJ) reports:

The men and women salute in honor of their country at the Punxsutawney Community Center Wednesday morning. 
The same group will soon put their lives on the line. They're the 665 Engineer Utilities Detachment and they will be deployed to Iraq at the end of the week.  

The Iraq War never ends. Remember what Anthony H. Cordesman (CSIS) argued earlier this year:

The United States, its allies, and international organizations are just beginning to come to grips with the civil dimensions of "failed state" wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, the Sudans, Syria, and Yemen. In each case, it is clear that the civil dimension of the war will ultimately be as important as the military one.
Any meaningful form of "victory" requires far more than defeating the current extremist threat in military terms, and reaching some temporary compromise between the major factions that divide the country. The current insurgent and other security threats exist largely because of the deep divisions within the state, the past and current failures of the government to deal with such internal divisions, and the chronic failure to meet the economic, security, and social needs of much of the nation's population.
In practical terms, these failures make a given host government, other contending factions, and competing outside powers as much of a threat to each nation’s stability and future as Islamic extremists and other hostile forces. Regardless of the scale of any defeat of extremists, the other internal tensions and divisions with each country also threaten to make any such “victory” a prelude to new forms of civil war, and/or an enduring failure to cope with security, stability, recovery, and development.
Any real form of victory requires a different approach to stability operations and civil-military affairs. In each case, the country the U.S. is seeking to aid failed to make the necessary economic progress and reforms to meet the needs of its people – and sharply growing population – long before the fighting began. The growth of these problems over a period of decades helped trigger the sectarian, ethnic, and other divisions that made such states vulnerable to extremism and civil conflict, and made it impossible for the government to respond effectively to crises and wars.
These issues are analyzed in depth in a new study by the Burke Chair at CSIS entitled Iraqi After ISIS: The Other Half of Victory, which is available on the CSIS web site at is being circulated in working draft form in order to seek comments, directions and additional data, which should be sent to Anthony H. Cordesman
The study shows that the economy and infrastructure of Iraq and the other countries involved in "failed state" wars have now been further crippled by years of war. As a result, each conflict has changed the country to the point where it creates a need to establish a new structure of governance and economy that reflects major shifts in the population, the balance of power in each state, and its real-world post-conflict opportunities for development.
The cumulative result is to make "stability operations" a key part of grand strategy. Defeating a given mix of terrorists or insurgents requires aid and assistance efforts that look beyond the fighting and the short-term priorities of conflict termination. Negotiations and new political arrangements, emergency humanitarian aid, and recovery aid are all critical steps towards lasting stability.

This is about occupation.  "Stability."  It's not ending.

The following community sites updated:

  • Friday, March 30, 2018

    People step away from FACEBOOK

     FACEBOOK’s problems just continue.  BLOOMBERG NEWS reports:

    Former Federal Trade Commission officials say that Facebook Inc. appears to have breached a 2011 consent agreement to safeguard users’ personal information and may be facing hundreds of millions of dollars in fines.
    The agency could fine Facebook up to $40,000 per violation per day -- which could add up quickly with millions of users involved -- if it finds the social media giant broke its earlier promises to protect user data, they say.
    “If I had to bet, they will find violations,” said Jessica Rich, a former head of the FTC’s consumer protection bureau.

    Three users of the Facebook Messenger app on Tuesday sued Facebook, seeking class-action status on behalf of all users in what appears to be among the first such suits against the social media giant in the wake of its revelation of shared data without permission.
    The suit also probes Facebook’s use of call or text message content, which the company has claimed it does not collect and sell, and is securely stored.
    The U.S. lawsuit, filed Tuesday in federal court in the Northern District of California, alleges that the social network violated users’s privacy by collecting logs of their phone calls and text messages, Reuters and other news outlets reported. Facebook has not commented on the suit, which seeks unspecified damages.
    If they win their case, it’s going to be a big win for everyone because it effects so many.  Noam Cohen  (NYT) insists:

    Even as it issues full-page apologies in print newspapers promising ritualistically “to do better,” Facebook and its allies have minimized the importance of the seismic revelation that the political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica, which worked on behalf of the Trump campaign in 2016, had gained access to the private information of about 50 million Facebook users.
    Some executives have pointed out that the mechanism that until a few years ago allowed a researcher with 270,000 app downloads to have access to 50 million profiles wasn’t exactly a secret, and, besides, Facebook users nominally agreed to the sharing of these profiles so that apps would perform better. The company’s chief security officer, Alex Stamos, took to Twitter to complain that Facebook and other “platforms” were being held to a double standard concerning the profiles, since they may well “have been criticized as monopolists for locking them down.”
    No, that’s not exactly true.  People click “accept” without even reading.  Did no one else see the hilarious episode of SOUTH PARK where Cartman wants an iPad but throws a fit in Best Buy and the other story of the episode is about someone (Kyle?) become part of the new Apple centipede because he clicked “accept”?
    No one reads those agreements.  They know that.  So don’t start throwing those in people’s faces.  What a load of nonsense.  Equally true, if that’s a legal contract, they are breaking the law by letting minors sign them without parental consent.

    "Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):
    Thursday, March 29, 2018.  The feel good nonsense or the reality of death and destruction?

    RT reports:

    The US-led coalition fighting Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) on Wednesday admitted to killing at least 855 civilians in airstrikes in Iraq and Syria in the past four years. “To date, based on information available, CJTF-OIR assesses at least 855 civilians have been unintentionally killed by coalition strikes since the start of Operation Inherent Resolve,” the US Central Command said in its monthly civilian casualty report. The coalition conducted a total of 29,225 strikes between August 2014 and the end of February 2018, and during this period the total number of reports of possible civilian casualties was 2,135. The total number of credible reports of civilian casualties during this time period was 224, according to the statement. It said that 522 reports are still open.

    That's what they are now admitting to.  You can be sure the actual count of civilians killed in airstrikes is much higher.

    All across the nation, people are protesting against "violence," and yet not one demonstration about the government's violence in , , , , , . Millions have died since 2003 and it doesn't even register on the outrage meter.

    Not that I think the gun violence march in America was irrelevant but the children of Iraq, Syria, and Palestine would like to be safe in school and at home. Where are the marches for these children? Why is the world so silent when it comes to them?

    Yes, we're back to the issue of does violence only matter when effects White kids in the US?  Do the lives of Iraqis -- including Iraqi children -- not matter at all?

    Ajamu Baraka (BLACK AGENDA REPORT) observes:

    So, it was a good week for both bourgeois parties. The Democrats didn’t get called out for their collaboration with Trump and the Republicans on the budget. The Trump folks have more ammunition to use to mobilize their supporters in opposition to what they will frame as efforts to violate the constitution and take away their guns and give more power to a repressive government. Even the intelligence agencies benefited from the week’s events with attention being shifted away from the FBI scandal that is threatening to blow the cover off of official criminal activity to undermine the electoral process, not by the Russians, but unelected forces in the U.S. state.
    But for those of us from the colonized Black and Brown zones of non-being, we can never allow ourselves to be distracted by the diversionary and accommodationist politics of the latest carefully crafted spectacle, especially one that purports to be advancing a superior moral politics.
    We must always remind ourselves that some can march with the confidence that “their” government might be trusted with regulating weapons and protecting their lives but that the protection of our fundamental human rights rest with our ability to defend our collective rights, and no one else.
    Through our painful lived experiences, we understand and must live by the insight provided by our dear brother, James Baldwin, who counseled us that we must be vigilant when our oppressors speak of morality and the sanctity of life:
    “The “civilized” have created the wretched, quite coldly and deliberately, and do not intend to change the status quo; are responsible for their slaughter and enslavement; rain down bombs on defenseless children whenever and wherever they decide that their “vital interests” are menaced, and think nothing of torturing a man to death; these people are not to be taken seriously when they speak of the “sanctity” of human life, or the conscience of civilized world.”
    Distraction can be deadly, let’s us get and stay woke.
    Saturday's look-at-me-look-at-me tantrum accomplished nothing and was never going to accomplish anything while rubbing elbows with the likes of Senator Dianne Feinstein and others.  It was an effort to release some steam from the system, a moment to distract from reality.  When elements of Congress and the press stroke themselves to stroke the event, you know it was meaningless.  As Glen Ford (BAR) points out:

    There is “movement” afoot in the U.S., but it does not “arc towards justice.” Ever since Trump’s electoral victory, the collective national consciousness has been smothered in a maddening fog of manic, industrial-scale propaganda, spewed non-stop by corporate communications conglomerates working hand-in-glove with the most aggressive elements of the surveillance-intelligence “community” and the bi-partisan War Party. We are enveloped in a toxic miasma of Russia-hate that, by sheer weight and repetition, has infested every aspect of American political thought, distorting and subverting even the most progressive-minded “movements” struggling to find a way towards human dignity under late stage capitalism in a profoundly racist country. Voices for peace and social justice are asphyxiated in the pestilential plume -- unless they find their own air.
    Damn right, there is a conspiracy -- possibly the loudest one in history! -- megaphoned by a billionaire-owned media screaming “War, War, War” day and night, fouling the public mind with pure reactionary malice. The duopoly contest has devolved into a dance of death between Donald Trump’s raw white supremacist nationalism and Democratic Party corporate imperial warmongering. Only fools claim there is space for progressive maneuver in the interstices between such forces.

    We've been "Down So Long" Jewel notes but doing for-show and feel-good fauxtests won't change a thing ("Down So Long" first appears on Jewel's SPIRIT).

    The realities of faux 'protest' and real protest were addressed when Ann Garrison interviewed Riva Enteen (BAR):

    AG: Some March for Our Lives supporters are likely to get defensive and ask whether you're refusing to support their cause. What would you say to them?

    RE: Of course we support the cause of protecting lives, but there is an exceptionalism to believing it only applies to American lives and especially white lives. In a promotional video that Democracy Now played repeatedly during their broadcast of the Washington, DC March for Our Lives, former US soldiers said that they’d learned how to put assault rifles to good purpose in US wars, but didn’t want them aimed at US citizens.
    Isn’t it time to stop aiming those guns—and our missiles, fighter jets, and drones—at the rest of the world? My mother was a member of Women Strike for Peace, founded in 1961 with the slogan “Stop the Arms Race, Not the Human Race,” and that has never been more true.
    Women, the givers of life, are confronting the Pentagon in Washington, DC, October 20-21. We hope that all peace-loving people will consider this a chance to make a stand for peace. There will be local antiwar actions springing up, as they did during Occupy, so keep your ear to the ground, and watch for updates on our websiteand our Facebook page .
    The action in DC is the Women's March on the Pentagon.  This is the event Cindy Sheehan is one of the organizers of and that we've been noting here:

    An Open Invitation:
    Women's March on the Pentagon

    April 5th in Washington DC

    April 9th in Boston  

    April 12th in Long Island




     contact Cindy Sheehan for

    more info, to organize a meeting/action
    in your area or ??


     People are dying.  Don't expect kids raised on media fawning to tell you that.  Certainly don't expect the corporate media to tell you that.  All the corporate media does is lie.

    Iraq has defeated IS and avoided the wave of Shia-on-Sunni violence that many thought would follow

    Things are great in Iraq!

    If you forget the fact that people are protesting in the streets because there are so few jobs.  Or that the medical situation in Iraq is actually worse now than at any point in the history of this wave of the Iraq War.  The brain drain got a big kick in the last six months but no one bothers to notice that -- the flight of needed professional from Iraq.  There are enough beds for the orphans but Iraq did open a cat hotel this year so I guess that's the 'great' that THE ECONOMIST sees taking place.

    B-b-b-but ISIS is defeated!  Except they are not.  ANADOLU AGENCY reports that yesterday saw 5 Iraqi soldiers killed when ISIS ambushed them at "a fake checkpoint on the road linking Mosul and the Tal Afar district."

    But the corporate press can't stop their waves of Operation Happy Talk.  It's been going on for years now and it's never turned out to be true.  Hayder al-ABadi, for example, has promised to get the trains running.  When I saw that a few days ago, I rolled my eyes as I remembered when we were sold that lie -- in THE NEW YORK TIMES, among other places.  The trains were working, running and doing great!  It took Deborah Haynes (TIMES OF LONDON) to expose that as a lie.  But here we are, about twelve years later and they're trying to re-sell that failed talking point.

    The following community sites updated: