* MISSION ACCOMPLISHED
By Brad Friedman
It seems perversely appropriate that we’d be able to watch the very last U.S. military convoy exit Iraq today, as seen above, courtesy of a U.S. Air Force Predator drone hovering overhead. The video documents what is purported to be the last truck crossing the border into Kuwait as the robotic camera zooms in on the gates at the border crossing as guards close them, bringing the undeclared war to a quiet and ignominious close…of sorts…
It required the service of more than 1 million U.S. troops, the deaths of some 4,474 of them (the last of whom was 23 year-old Army Spec. David E. Hickman, killed last month), debilitating and often permanent physical injuries to more than 33,000 of them, the mental scars to God-only-knows how many hundreds of thousands of them, the deaths of a minimum of 104,000, though as much as over 1,000,000 Iraqi civilians, all at a cost of nearly $1 trillion at a minimum, though as much as $3 trillion.
But the evil dictator, whose evil dictating the U.S. had helped support and finance and facilitate for much of his reign, was permanently removed from power. So there’s that.
Today, after nearly a full decade in support of that absurd purported mission, the last of all but 150 U.S. troops have finally left Iraq, with the rest — and several thousand “private” contractors — left behind to guard our embassy and other remaining “U.S. assets”.
Yes, it’s true that candidate Obama had promised to end the Iraq War, even as President Obama fought to keep it going against the preference of the Iraqis, and even as, with that battle lost, he’s now more than happy to take credit for it finally being “over” nonetheless.
As Marcy Wheeler notes, it’s not really over, as evidenced by the U.S. Senate’s recent rejection of Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) motion to officially declare as much by Congressional fiat. The undeclared and second-longest “war” in U.S. history will rage on in the hearts of those who’d never had the courage to officially declare it in the first place.
But home the troops are coming, as scheduled, in time for Christmas. And for those men and women and their families, this particular leg of this particular self-inflicted long national nightmare — one of an ongoing too-many — is finally coming to a long overdue end.
And for now, at least if the calls to make the same-but-even-worse mistake all over again by attacking Iran — as echoed by virtually all of the GOP Presidential candidates (save for Ron Paul) at last Thursday’s debate — is any indication, we will not have learned a single lesson from any of it. […]
* ALL ”REASONS” FOR WAR ON IRAN ARE “EMPEROR HAS NO CLOTHES” OBVIOUS LIES
By Carl Herman, Washington’s Blog
The US and Israel lie for war with Iran in two key areas of propaganda that you are responsible to understand if you want a US government operating UNDER the law:
- Iran’s president never physically threatened Israel.
- All of Iran’s nuclear material is fully accounted for peaceful and legal use for energy and medicine.
The US completely lied for its unlawful attack and invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. We now know from our own government’s disclosure of the evidence that all “reasons” for war were known lies.
Our soldiers, government employees, and citizens who operate under good faith have been duped with the above “Big Lies” that are easily proven but difficult to embrace from cognitive dissonance.
When the facts are so clear, the obvious conclusion any rational citizen must make is that the US has planned and is considering a false flag attack to use a dirty or nuclear bomb, blame Iran, and finalize their Middle East tyrannical policy of domination.
The solution is to arrest and prosecute the obvious criminals in areas of war policy and corporate media that lie in provable commission and omission to continue US CRIMINAL wars.
READ AND VIDEO @ http://www.washingtonsblog.com/
* ENGINEERING CONSENT FOR ATTACK ON IRAN — U.S. COURT CLAMIS IRANIAN 9/11 LINK
By RT, Information Clearing House
A US court has won a default judgement that Iranian officials, including its supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, provided help to the 9/11 hijackers behind the worst terror attack on American soil. The lawsuit was filed by the families of the atrocity’s victims. There was no Iranian representation in court. RT talks to Michel Chossudovsky, Director of the Center for Research on Globalization.
IRAN ACCUSED OF 9/11 ROLE
By Fox “FAUX” News
May 20, 2011 “Fox News” — NEW YORK: Two defectors from Iran’s intelligence service have testified that Iranian officials knew in advance about the attacks of September 11, 2001, says a US court filing that seeks damages for Iran’s ”direct support for, and sponsorship of, the most deadly act of terrorism in American history”.
* PANGALOS’ RECEPTION IN BERLIN
By When the Crisis hit the Fan
This is how the vice-president of the Greek government, Theodoros Pangalos, was received in Berlin by local Greek activists (of the Real Democracy movement). The banner stated support for the 400 strikers of Hellenic Halyvourgia steel industry. They’ve been on strike for about two months, one of the biggest labor actions for decades. The strike has been greatly underreported in the Greek media, causing concern and suspicion.
* POLITICS OVER PRINCIPLE
By Andrew Rosenthal, NYTimes
The trauma of Sept. 11, 2001, gave rise to a dangerous myth that, to be safe, America had to give up basic rights and restructure its legal system. The United States was now in a perpetual state of war, the argument went, and the criminal approach to fighting terrorism — and the due process that goes along with it — wasn’t tough enough.
President George W. Bush used this insidious formula to claim that his office had the inherent power to detain anyone he chose, for as long as he chose, without a trial; to authorize the torture of prisoners; and to spy on Americans without a warrant. President Obama came into office pledging his dedication to the rule of law and to reversing the Bush-era policies. He has fallen far short.
Mr. Obama refused to entertain any investigation of the abuses of power under his predecessor, and he has been far too willing to adopt Mr. Bush’s extravagant claims of national secrets to prevent any courthouse accountability for those abuses. This week, he is poised to sign into law terrible new measures that will make indefinite detention and military trials a permanent part of American law. […]
* OBAMA’S “TWISTED VERSION OF AMERICAN EXCEPTIONALISM” LAID BARE
By Jason Leopold, Truthout
President Barack Obama would like the world to know that the US can do whatever it damn well pleases, thank you very much.
Obama also wants the whole, wide world to get this through its thick skull: only rogue governments that implement a policy of rendition, torture, indefinite detention and extrajudicial assassination are guilty of human rights abuses and should be held accountable.
That’s the clear-cut message Obama articulated late last Friday when he issued a proclamation commemorating the 63rd anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
“All people should live free from the threat of extrajudicial killing, torture, oppression and discrimination, regardless of gender, race, religion, nationality, sexual orientation, or physical or mental disability,” Obama’s proclamation states.
Apparently, the Nobel Peace Prize-winning president doesn’t believe the indefinite detention of detainees at Guantanamo, especially those who have already been cleared for release; or the administration’s refusal to allow prisoners detained and tortured by the US government in Afghanistan, rises to the level of human rights abuses as outlined in his stunningly hypocritical proclamation. Nor does the former constitutional law professor believe that the extrajudicial killing of Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki and propagandist Samir Kahn, US citizens accused of aiding terrorists who were assassinated without due process by a drone strike Obama personally authorized, is a noteworthy human rights issue.
Obama’s proclamation also contained another embarrassing contradiction: it declared the week of December 10th as Human Rights Week, the same week Congress debated and is set to pass the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), a controversial piece of legislation that would give the president the power to indefinitely imprison without charge or trial or a court hearing anyone suspected of terrorist activity in the US.
On Wednesday, White House spokesman Jay Carney said Obama’s senior advisers would recommend to the president that he should not veto the bill, as Obama had promised to do, because Congress made minor changes Monday to the provisions in the legislation related to the treatment of terrorism suspects with which the administration is now satisfied.
When the US voted in favor of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, it promised to uphold several ideals, including one that said, “no one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention, or exile.”
Kenneth Roth, the executive director of Human Rights Watch, said if Obama signs the bill, he will “go down in history as the president who enshrined indefinite detention without trial in US law.” […]
* AN INDIE FILM TAKES UP BRADLEY MANNING’S PLIGHT
By Bob Calhoun, Salon
|As the army private’s hearing begins, this harrowing short imagines his detention
Director Kyle Broom wanted to take “Prevention of Injury (POI)” through the film festival circuit just like every other independent filmmaker, but this 20-minute film has the burden of being about something. The film’s main character is doesn’t have a name. He’s referred to in the credits only as “The Detainee.” Actor Jordan Butcher doesn’t look much like Bradley Manning, but this hardly matters. Butcher pretty much is Bradley Manning here. He’s locked in a white-walled cell in near solitary confinement where being “administratively upgraded” to suicide prevention status brings with it the tortures of restraint and sleep deprivation. Amnesty International has condemned the real Private Manning’s treatment as harsh and punitive. In this film, you get a glimpse of what it must be like. After a few screenings at various Occupy sites, Broom and producer Alexandra Spector posted their film on Vimeo to get as wide an audience as possible before Manning’s Article 32 hearing (a kind of military code preliminary hearing) set for Friday.
Watch the film while you can. This whole country might soon become one giant sequestered jury.
* SUPPORTERS GIVE BRADLEY MANNING A HERO’S TRIBUTE OUTSIDE FORT MEADE
By John Grant, This Can’t Be Happening
(Photo: John Grant)
Ft. Meade — Saturday, December 17th was Bradley Manning’s 24th birthday, and at least 300 supporters gathered outside Fort Meade, Maryland, where the military was in its second day of a preliminary hearing process that’s expected to take about a week. Manning worked in military intelligence and is alleged to have released military secrets to WikiLeaks, which released the material publicly.
After collecting at the main gate, Manning supporters set off for a two-mile march to a gate nearer the military hearing site. The group was quite spirited and, despite Anne Arundel County Police efforts to keep marchers on the sidewalk, insisted on taking up a lane of the street. The police wisely did not attempt to stop them and there were no problems. […]
* WHY IS THE NYPD AFTER ME?
By Nicholas K. Peart, NYTimes
WHEN I was 14, my mother told me not to panic if a police officer stopped me. And she cautioned me to carry ID and never run away from the police or I could be shot. In the nine years since my mother gave me this advice, I have had numerous occasions to consider her wisdom.
One evening in August of 2006, I was celebrating my 18th birthday with my cousin and a friend. We were staying at my sister’s house on 96th Street and Amsterdam Avenue in Manhattan and decided to walk to a nearby place and get some burgers. It was closed so we sat on benches in the median strip that runs down the middle of Broadway. We were talking, watching the night go by, enjoying the evening when suddenly, and out of nowhere, squad cars surrounded us. A policeman yelled from the window, “Get on the ground!”
I was stunned. And I was scared. Then I was on the ground — with a gun pointed at me. I couldn’t see what was happening but I could feel a policeman’s hand reach into my pocket and remove my wallet. Apparently he looked through and found the ID I kept there. “Happy Birthday,” he said sarcastically. The officers questioned my cousin and friend, asked what they were doing in town, and then said goodnight and left us on the sidewalk.
Less than two years later, in the spring of 2008, N.Y.P.D. officers stopped and frisked me, again. And for no apparent reason. This time I was leaving my grandmother’s home in Flatbush, Brooklyn; a squad car passed me as I walked down East 49th Street to the bus stop. The car backed up. Three officers jumped out. Not again. The officers ordered me to stand, hands against a garage door, fished my wallet out of my pocket and looked at my ID. Then they let me go.
I was stopped again in September of 2010. This time I was just walking home from the gym. It was the same routine: I was stopped, frisked, searched, ID’d and let go.
These experiences changed the way I felt about the police. After the third incident I worried when police cars drove by; I was afraid I would be stopped and searched or that something worse would happen. I dress better if I go downtown. I don’t hang out with friends outside my neighborhood in Harlem as much as I used to. Essentially, I incorporated into my daily life the sense that I might find myself up against a wall or on the ground with an officer’s gun at my head. For a black man in his 20s like me, it’s just a fact of life in New York.
Here are a few other facts: last year, the N.Y.P.D. recorded more than 600,000 stops; 84 percent of those stopped were blacks or Latinos. Police are far more likely to use force when stopping blacks or Latinos than whites. In half the stops police cite the vague “furtive movements” as the reason for the stop. Maybe black and brown people just look more furtive, whatever that means. These stops are part of a larger, more widespread problem — a racially discriminatory system of stop-and-frisk in the N.Y.P.D. The police use the excuse that they’re fighting crime to continue the practice, but no one has ever actually proved that it reduces crime or makes the city safer. Those of us who live in the neighborhoods where stop-and-frisks are a basic fact of daily life don’t feel safer as a result. […]
* NORTH KOREAN LEADER KIM JONG II IS DEAD
By Evan Ramstad, Wall St. Journal
Kim Jong Il, the dictator who used fear and isolation to maintain power in North Korea and his nuclear weapons to menace his neighbors and threaten the U.S., has died, North Korean state television reported early Monday.
His death opens a new and potentially dangerous period of transition and instability for North Korea and northeast Asia. Mr. Kim in September 2010 tapped the youngest of his three sons, Kim Jong Eun, to succeed him, and North Korean state television on Monday said the younger Mr. Kim will lead the country.
Mr. Kim, who was 69 or 70 years old, according to varying accounts, died during a train ride on Saturday, a weeping television announcer said. He was believed to have been in ill health since suffering a stroke in 2008, and North Korean media said he experienced an “advanced acute myorcardial infarction,” or heart attack. […]
* THE 14 BIGGEST LIES OF 2011
By David J. Rothkopf, Foreign Policy
I live in Washington where lying is an art form. Actually, that suggests an artist’s intent and here in D.C., lying is more reflexive, like breathing or taking cash from fat cats.
But when you live in a place like this — if you can call it living — where somehow we have managed to train moral mice to produce the shit of bulls, you really get an appreciation for a fine lie. Some stand out for their subtlety — they almost feel true. (President Obama wants to get special interests out of American politics.) Some are noteworthy because of their audacity (Newt Gingrich brought down communism.) Some capture our attention because of the ability of their authors to deliver them with a straight face (Mitt Romney says he has deeply held political convictions).
But every year there are a select few lies offered here and out on the world stage that stand out. They are the big lies that have defined our times.
Let me offer a few examples from just the world of U.S. foreign policy and then, if you have more suggestions, please, send them in. Someday soon we plan to build a Museum of Lying right out on the Mall so there is finally a monument that captures the essence of this festering swamp.
1. “This next summit of European leaders will be decisive …”
We’ve heard this one every few weeks for months now. And every time our supposedly sophisticated financial markets fall for it again. It’s like Lucy with Charlie Brown’s football. When will we learn?
2. “The war in Iraq is finally over after 9 years.”
Much celebration today due to this “fact.” Seems pretty straightforward. But of course, we’ve been militarily engaged one way or another with Iraq since the early 1990s. This is just the end of one of a series of wars in the region. My bet is it’s not the last one.
3. “America’s mission in Iraq was a success.”
See previous lie. The place is divided, undemocratic, heavily influenced by Iran, corrupt, and our invasion cost $1 trillion, thousands of U.S. lives, hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives, and our national reputation. Look in the dictionary next to fiasco. There’s a little picture of a dude in a flight jacket standing on a carrier deck in front of a “Mission Accomplished” banner.
4. “We are winning in Afghanistan.”
Latest version of this howler came just today from Secretary of Defense Panetta in Afghanistan. If winning were narrowly defined as beating al Qaeda, it’d be true. But, if we leave and the place is more dangerous, the Taliban is back in charge, we’re associated with corruption and departure, we’ve strengthened the region’s extremists and the threat of instability in nuclear Pakistan is now actually higher than it was when we went in, it’s hard to see how we can call it “winning” unless by “we” we mean Charlie Sheen.
5. Tie: “Pakistan is America’s ally” and “Afghanistan is America’s partner.”
I know, I know, you say “it’s a lie,” I say, “it’s diplomacy,” potato, potahto. But there is actually no credible definition by which the government of Pakistan could be called an ally of the U.S. unless you are willing to overlook all their enemy-like behavior. Same re: our pal Karzai in Kabul. He’s only a partner in the sense that he’s got his hand in our pocket, even as he is talks smack about us to the world.
6. “America is unthreatened by China’s growth.”
Secretary Clinton was the latest to utter this little prayer. And I’m sure she meant it. And it should be true. But it’s not.
7. “We believe diplomatic pressure may stop Iran’s nuclear program.”
If we believed that would we be waging a secret war there? Which brings us to another lie, “America will never attack Iran.” This is a lie — because we already have.
8. Tie: “Republicans are the problem” and “Democrats are the problem.”
This is the great lie of American politics. It’s not the parties that are the problems. It’s not even the parade of snake oil salesmen and the idle rich who make up our political leadership class. It’s the money. The system is so resolutely corrupt that recent scandals have only resulted in more money flowing into the system and past reforms being undone.
9. “Cutting the taxes of millionaires helps creates U.S. jobs.”
This one wins in the audacity category. It is said with a straight face without one shred of evidence to support it. You know why there’s not one shred of evidence, right? ‘Cause it’s an idiotic, insupportable idea.
10. “The U.S. might default on its debt.”
Wasn’t close to happening. Will never happen. This is still the country that owns the printing presses that produces what is unchallenged as the world’s reserve currency. No president or congress of either party would ever let it happen. The “scare” in August was half hysterical, half fabrication and, in keeping with the way we do math here in D.C., half about trying to jolt the inert denizens of the U.S. Capitol into actually doing something to fix the U.S. deficit.
11. “The Obama administration is committed to serious financial services reform.”
Ha. Dodd-Frank was a palliative. Creating oversight responsibilities without funding the overseers is kabuki theater. Virtually all the serious threats to the financial system that caused 2008 remain. (Even if U.S. banks have made some progress on the capital requirements side, that’s offset by the fact they’re connected to even more reckless eurobanks. And there are more “too big to fail” financial institutions today than there were before the crisis. Derivatives? Only a bigger problem than before. Global regulation? Not an inch of progress.)
12. “Only 9 percent of Americans approve of Congress.”
This can’t possibly be true. There can’t possibly be that many.
13. “The operation in Libya will be over in a matter of days or weeks.”
The operation was a success. But this was wrong and then wrong and then wrong again for months.
14. “I love Israel.”
* DEAL TO AVERT GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN CUTS PELL GRANTS FOR UP TO 100,000 STUDENTS
By Pat Garofalo, Think Progress
Congressional leaders last night agreed to a $1 trillion bill to fund the government, averting a shutdown that would have started at midnight tonight. The bill reportedly dropped many of the unrelated policy riders that House Republicans had tried to insert into it.
However, the bill does include a cut to the Pell Grant program that could affect up to 100,000 low-income students. Republicans have been pushing for months to slash the Pell Grant program — which provides low-income students with money for higher education — and to limit it’s eligibility requirements. Though the maximum grant will be preserved under the spending deal, students on the edges of eligibility will be out of luck next year:
The bill, HR 3671, draws from ideas put forward in Republican and Democratic spending plans earlier this year: it would preserve the maximum Pell Grant at $5,550, but change the program’s eligibility criteria, making as many as 100,000 of its 9 million recipients ineligible. The grants could be used for a total of 12 semesters, not 18, as in the past — a change that would affect an estimated 62,000 beneficiaries and take effect July 1, 2012. Higher education lobbyists said the limit would apply to any semesters a student was enrolled, rather than only those in which he or she attended full-time, as they had originally thought.
The maximum amount families could earn and automatically contribute nothing toward an undergraduate education would decrease from $30,000 to $23,000.
The plan also retroactively limits the number of semesters that a student can use grants, meaning some students a semester or two away from graduation could see their grants dry up. The Institute for College Access and Success said that these changes “would disproportionately affect black students and transfer students.” The education reform organization Education Trust also criticized the cuts, saying that they “will hit some of America’s most disadvantaged college students the hardest.”
At the same time that Republicans so adamantly opposed a surtax on income in excess of $1 million that Democrats ultimately dropped it from the negotiations, it’s disheartening that one of the few things the two parties could agree on was cutting a program that is key to America’s education competitiveness. […]
* TEN THINGS YOU CAN DO TO SUSTAIN THE OCCUPY MOVEMENT
By Walter Moseley and co-edited by Rae Gomes, The Nation
Angela Davis has noted that one of the failures in our collective memory of the 1963 bombing of a church in Birmingham is that we have forgotten the names and activist leanings of the four girls—Carole, Denise, Addie Mae and Cynthia—who are often merely reported to be four black girls who died in the bombings. In fact, the burgeoning activists were preparing to give a presentation about civil rights at the church’s annual Youth Day program. Rosa Parks, before she refused to give up her seat on a bus in Montgomery, had just finished a course on nonviolent action. To neglect the activist background and intention of these women is to believe falsely that historic moments like the civil rights movement “just happen.” In fact, years of organizing and strategizing bring about their birth. Travis Holloway, a poet, political philosopher and activist at Occupy Wall Street, believes this movement has the potential to go beyond mere words and slogans (though, he writes in a recent piece, these help), and like the civil rights movement, to effect real change. Along with suggestions from a wide range of activists, here are “Ten Things” to keep the Occupy movement going and build a foundation for long-term change.
1. We are the 99 percent. A movement of the 99 percent must be inclusive in its makeup and its goals. “The issues of the bottom of the 99 percent have to move to the top of the agenda,” writes Elias Holtz. Be sure that the movement involves those of all backgrounds, sexual orientations, religious and cultural affiliations and work towards representing the movement through women and people of color. Engage community leaders and ask them what are the most pressing issues they’re facing and fight alongside them. Read organizer Paulina Gonzalez’s experience at Occupy LA.
2. Whose streets? Our streets! Crackdowns on encampments means the movement shifts from holding a space to major public events, actions on the street, and horizontal, online organizing forums. Join a working group according to your interest and stay updated on major days of action.
3. Imagine all the people. Rallies aren’t the only form of protest. Be creative and don’t forget to surprise. If your opponent is counting on noisy drum circles or big signs, try a silent march or vigil (like the students at UC Davis) or looking like your opponent by walking the streets in business suits. For ideas and inspiration, read Gene Sharp’s 198 Methods of Nonviolent Action. Some ideas include boycotts, mock awards, mock elections, mock funerals, prayer and worship (as a symbolic public act), silence, teach-ins, refusal of public support, etc. Get more creative action ideas from the YesLab.
4. This is what democracy looks like. The value of top-down organization is no longer self-evident—not only in government, given the lack of trust in political representatives, but also in our everyday jobs and institutions. Consider adopting a horizontal decision-making structure. Here are the principles of workplace democracy and some people who practice it.
5. Occupy the future. Set major, future events now to define the agenda and the permanence of the movement, then use the winter to network in order to better mobilize in the spring. Community organizations, churches and labor have real connections with the community and add support and energy to existing movements. Go to OrganizingUpgrade for ideas on how to build and maintain connections. And don’t let Facebook leave out your grandma.
6. Occupy your life. Everyone has an opportunity to act out the ideals and goals of the Occupiers in his/her everyday life. We may not be able to leave jobs that are inconsistent with our values, but reflecting on our own feelings and opinions can make us stronger and influence others. Check out Occupy Yourself for the holiday season and beyond. Read this article and watch this video to rethink your allegiance to popular brands.
7. Boycott the 1 percent. Take on a corporation or person that in their actions embody the worst of greed Whoarethe1percent. If you are in a non-union workplace, consider the benefits of worker solidarity when confronting unfair wages or work conditions. Many union organizers are willing and prepared to help you form a union with your fellow workers.
8. Study. Winter is a time to learn more about economic inequality and real strategies for resistance. Schedule a teach-in at an Cccupy event or consider attending one (schedule of NYC teach-ins here). Read “There Are Realistic Alternatives” for a crash course on nonviolent resistance and browse the OWS Library.
9. Nonviolent resistance is five parts organizing, four parts media and one part action. One of the major challenges and successes of organizing is to get media to report on an event. Designate a media person whose sole goal is to pitch to reporters, build relationships, update them on actions, and report back to members. Just keep reiterating the main themes of the movement. You may feel like a broken record, but few things are more powerful than an idea whose time has come. Go to Pitching to news outlets for more suggestions.
10. Occupy education. Occupy the DOE was a great way the movement showed it could shift from the streets to strategic action by protesting the lack in the structures that instruct. Identify student loan corporations and colleges with the most atrocious tuition hikes. If you are a public university student, connect and collaborate with other schools within your network to protest tuition hikes that most state schools are undergoing. Go to Occupy Student Debt Campaign to learn more.
A Couple More Things:
11. Exit Strategy Always have one. Be imaginative enough to see possible outcomes of the movement and always have a plan for anything that arises.
12. Occupy “Other Things.” Think we missed out on a fundamental piece of advice or suggested action? Think we were utterly wrong about one of them? Send your suggestions, corrections and slams to firstname.lastname@example.org. […]