Tuesday, July 2, 2013

White House Down


Sunday, at Third, we did "Movie roundtable" and I wanted to expand some on "White House Down."

The plus for the film was Channing Tatum.

He's an actor who saw far doesn't do any false movements on screen and makes you believe in him.  I don't know if Bruce Willis could have carried this film.

The problem is the script.

I didn't get that until the end of the discussion. C.I. noted:


Channing Tatum's natural movie star appeal carries the film.  Disclosure, I know Channing.  The film is often too precious for words.  It starts off slow because they need to give a 'cute' to Jamie Foxx's character.  So he's headed home but wants the helicopters to deviate from the route to zip close to landmarks in DC.  Is there any point to it?  Not at all.  They trot it out at the end as well.  The president is not the lead character.  This is a case of an actor needing a 'moment' in a script.  It's wasted and makes the film drag.  Channing's wife in the film was miscast and we could have done without her because we've already had enough backstory at this point.  You could lop 15 minutes off the start without the film losing anything.  When the action does finally get started, it moves along quickly enough.  Even so, I would cut the scenes in Paris of panicking First Lady.  We don't need them, they slow everything down -- it's just two scenes -- and we've already got dialogue establishing the First Lady is in Paris.  We don't need to see her.  She's not part of the action at the White House.  Jaime Foxx tries too hard to be likeable to the point that he's failed to provide the stature a president is supposed to have.  Channing Tatum carries the film on his shoulders.  A tighter edit would have made this the action film of the summer.  Jaime Foxx emerges from the film having made another questionable decision and even more in need of an audience pleaser that finds him playing a functioning adult.  Channing emerges unscathed and earns the credit for the film's success.


And she's exactly right.  A good ten minutes of the film is wasted in the opening as we see Jaime Foxx in the helicopter surrounded by helicopters and he, the president, wants to do 'the thing' and Maggie Gyllenhal objects but then agrees and the helicopters zip up to various DC monuments.

And at the end, the president wants to do 'the thing' again.  But guess what?

Jamie Foxx isn't the lead.  He's not even the co-lead.

And all that crap at the beginning does is mean the action's going to start that much later because we still have to set up Channing's character.

Jamie Foxx wanted to play the role but not really.  And that's too bad, it's a supporting role.  His ego meant it got beefed up but it's still a supporting role.

And, honestly, it's a damsel in distress role.

Yet again, Jamie is the little girl.

Considering the rumors about him from the start and the fact that he's never said, "I'm gay," you'd think he'd consider how he appears in the roles he plays.

This is the second huge mistake for him and he's like Cuba Gooding Jr. -- squandering an Academy Award. But at least Cuba came off like an adult in his films.

Jamie Foxx is such a little girl.

That's true in Django -- being strung up by his feet naked and fondled by a White man is not a strong part.

It's true here.

And he's so dull.

Who ever thought Jamie Foxx could be so dull?

He refuses to give the president a personality.  He's like Susan Sarandon playing First Lady of the Screen.

The film works because of Channing Tatum and the little girl playing his daughter.

It fails because of Cuba Gooding Jr and Rachel Lefevre who plays Channing's ex-wife.

Is she supposed to be a pole dancer?

Then do something with that awful hair.

Straighten it, brush it, pull it back, do something with it.

Someone made the mistake of telling her it was cute, it's butt ugly.  She's only slightly above butt ugly.

And she brings the whole film down.

It could have been a tight ninety minute film.

Instead, it's 137 meandering minutes.

James Woods.  I'm not a huge fan.  Until a film like this.  It reminds me of when I saw "The Specialist" and was so grateful for Woods.  I am with this film again.  It really needs him.

It also needed Lance Reddick.  The two of them keep the suspense going and Reddick is so good at his character that you think he's in on the plot until the very end.

It could have been a strong movie.  But that would have required real edits and everyone being honest that Jamie Foxx was not the star or co-star and that a lot of his little 'moments' needed to be lost because they did nothing to advance the plot.


Going out with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"


Tuesday, July 2, 2013.  Chaos and violence continue, Nouri continues his trip to Russia, the PUK and KDP reached an agreement barring Massoud Barzani from a third term as president, the US State Dept is confused by that -- and by so much more,  Secretary of State John Kerry comes back from an expensive trip with nothing to show for it, the administration continues its attacks on NSA whistle-blower Ed Snowden, as the cancer eats away at her Lynne Stewart languishes in a Texas prison far from her family and friends, and more.

It was not a good day for the US government.  The administration looks increasingly incompetent and the US State Dept's becoming a national joke.  We'll come back later in the snapshot to the State Dept press briefing but note this remark from AP's Matthew Lee in the midst of the briefing today:

Okay. So let me just do a little quick recap from the most transparent Administration in history. You won’t tell us what you are asking for [Egypitan] President Morsy to do or what you would like to see. The conversations that you have with countries involving [NSA whistle-blower] Mr. Snowden are private and you can’t talk about them. Your conversations with European allies and others about the NSA spying allegations are also private. I don’t know. How would you respond to someone who might say that it appears that the only privacy that this Administration is interested in protecting is its own?

Damning remarks from AP's Matthew Lee.  Completely accurate ones, no needed embarrassment for Lee but who the hell is running the US government currently as it spins out of control and veers from one scandal to the next?  The incompetence, it's the continued incompetence.  Maybe next time, a president doesn't leave the country on an expensive family vacation (look at all the relatives the tax payers paid to go to Africa) when he should be governing.  Turning to Iraq . . .

Long before noon in the United States, Iraq had already been slammed with violence.  You already had Iraq's National Iraqi News Agency reports the military killed 2 suspects in Mtaibijh, a Mosul roadside bombing left two people injured, another Mosul roadside bombing claimed 2 lives and left a police officer injured,  a Falluja roadside bombing injured three people,  an armed clash to the west of Mosul left 4  Federal Police and SWAT forces dead and four more injured, a Kirkuk roadside bombing claimed 1 life and left another person injured,  and last night a Baquba suicide bomber attacked a cafe leaving 7 people dead and twelve injured. -- last night's bombing has resulted in allegedly tighter security and in "popular cafes in the city of Baquba" closing their doors today.  That amounted to 16 dead and twenty-three injured.

But it wasn't news.  No US outlet was covering it, the wires weren't covering it.    16 dead just didn't feel like news to them.

Let's zoom in on AFP --  Agence France-Press -- which is the world's oldest wire service, having started in 1835.  Prashant Rao is the Baghdad Bureau Chief for AFP.  He tweeted about none of the above violence.  What was he Tweeting?




 
Looks like will soon be able to fly direct to Baghdad -- perhaps an asylum claim is upcoming?


Oh, that's funny.  It's good to know that those in charge of news coverage are busy making braying asses out of themselves while ignoring death and destruction around them.

When did he register violence today?


At least 15 dead in wave of Baghdad car bombs - :

Baghdad got hit by car bombs, suddenly violence mattered.  16 dead and 23 wounded before that didn't mean a damn.

Qassim Abdul (AP) reports 2 car bombgs hit northern Baghdad resulting in 9 dead and twenty-four injured, a Baghdad bombing in a market (followed by a second bombing when people came running to help) left 12 dead and twenty-seven injured, an eastern Baghdad market was hit by a car bomb which claimed 5 lives and left sixteen injured, a car bomb in southern Baghdad left 4 dead and fifteen injured, a car bomb in Baghdad's Hurriyah section claimed 3 lives and left thirteen injured  and, in the Amiriyah section, a car bombing claimed 2 lives and left twelve injured.  The Amiryah may be the most surprising -- Nouri's got more troops there than a year ago -- more of his troops more of his police.  Why?  Because of the ongoing protests.  The bombing there indicates that security can't provide security.  Kareem Raheem, Aref Mohammed, Ahmed Rasheed, Isabel Coles and Andrew Heavens (Reuters) report, "At least 45 people were killed in bomb attacks across Iraq on Tuesday, most of them in busy markets and commercial areas of the capital Baghdad, police and medics said.Detsche Welle adds, "Bombings also occurred in Mosul, Samawah and Basra." In Basra, three bombs targeted the Mnawi Basha hotel, Reuters has video of the aftermath.   Al-Manar notes that 4 people were shot dead in Baghdad.  Al-Shorfa reports, "Three Iraqi soldiers were killed and five wounded in clashes between Iraqi security forces and al-Qaeda elements who tried to enter Iraq from Syria, Iraqi police in Ninawa province said Tuesday."


With no one claiming responsibilities, various outlets trot out their own pet theories.  So Iran's Press TV uses the opportunity to go after rival neighbors, "There has been an upsurge in violence across Iraq recently, and Iraqi authorities say Qatar and Saudi Arabia have had a hand in some of the deadly incidents."  And they focus on Shi'ites forgetting the attacks in Amiriyah and near Abu Ghraib (which would be Sunni populations)BBC News goes with,  "Violence erupted in April when Iraqi security forces stormed an anti-government Sunni protest in the city of Hawija, killing and wounding dozens of protesters."  RTE offers, "A sustained campaign of attacks since the start of the year has increased fears of wider conflict in a country where ethnic Kurds, Shia and Sunni Muslims have yet to find a stable power-sharing compromise."  AFP adds, "And while political leaders have pledged to resolve the dispute, with Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki meeting his two main rivals last month, no tangible measures have been agreed. Meanwhile, tensions have persisted in a swathe of territory in northern Iraq that Kurdish leaders want to incorporate into their autonomous three-province region over Baghdad's objections."  Jamal Hashim (Xinhua) provides an analysis which includes:


In a bid to contain the country's slide into an all-out sectarian strife, some top politicians from different Iraqi factions, including Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, a Shiite, Parliament Speaker Osama al-Nujaifi, a Sunni, and the Kurdish Maliki's deputy Roj Nuri Shawis, held a meeting on June 1 at the office of the Shiite leader Ammar al-Hakim, head of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI), to discuss the means to end political differences.
The meeting was a sign of breakthrough in the country's political deadlock, but it only yielded limited results on the ground, as violence in June was reduced from 1,045 people killed to 761, and people in Baghdad noticed that some militias which appeared by the spike of violence have again kept low profile.
However, sporadic waves of massive attacks and daily killings continued, as gunmen focused this time on targeting coffee shops, restaurants, football pitches, markets, funeral tents and mosques of both Shiite and Sunni communities.


Of the evening Baghdad bombings, KUNA notes, "A security source from Baghdad operation command told KUNA that one of the biggest bombing targeted a football field at Al-Sha'la area killing 14 people and injuring 18 others.  The source added a bomb was hidden inside a box near the football field cause the explosion."  Last week kicked off a series of repeated bombings of football fields in Iraq -- the most recent being on Sunday.  Today, Khalis Rifhan (Goal) reports:



Sheikh Salman has urged the local government to ensure that spectators are safe at football matches and insisted that the game should be used to unite people
Asian Football Confederation (AFC) president Sheikh Salman bin Ibrahim Al Khalifa has strongly condemned the series of attacks on football stadia in Iraq.
A bomb recently went off at a Baghdad arena, killing 15 people, mostly youngsters, during a domestic league match between Karbala and Air Force.
Several Karbala players were also wounded as a result of the incident, while coach Mohammed Abbas died from injuries sustained in the bombing.



Last Thursday, the United Nations Security Council voted to eliminate Chapter VII with regards to Iraq.  Or at least that's been the whole story for many.  The reality is Iraq was actually moved from Chapter VII to Chapter VI which carries a number of restrictions that no one seems to grasp -- or maybe they're trying to spin to look better the Iraqi people.  Thus far, cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr has been one of the few political leaders to grasp that the country is Chapter VI.

Today, Rosemary DiCarlo, the Charge d'Affaires United States Mission to the UN, took questions at a press briefing (link is video and text):

Reporter: Thank you, Madame President. My name is Saloua Jendoubi with Kuwait News Agency. I understand the Council is going to renew the mandate on July 24th of UNAMI, and I wonder if the new resolution will reflect the tasks that have been assigned to UNAMI, the ones that were adopted last week between Iraq and Kuwait. Thank you.
Ambassador DiCarlo: Yes, thank you very much. We will be renewing the mandate. We don't envision a significant change to the mandate, I should tell you that. But there will be reference to the resolution that was adopted last week and the new role for UNAMI in Iraq-Kuwait relations.

Nawzad Mahmoud and Miran Hussein (Rudaw) explore the reaction among the various political camps in Iraq and we'll focuse on the Kurds:

Dindar Zebari, special representative of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in the UN, believes that lifting the sanctions does not mean Iraq is no longer under the observation of the international community.
“Iraq will remain under observation and it has to respect the role of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI),” says Zebari, who adds, “Iraq is still not a stable country so the UN delegation will keep its presence there.”
Contrary to current belief, Zebari thinks that lifting the sanctions on Iraq will not slow down the economic, political, and diplomatic activities in the Kurdistan Region.
Peshraw Hamajan, political science lecturer at Sulaimani University, says that Kurdish fears over the lifting of sanctions are valid, since Erbil’s diplomatic ties are restricted by the Iraqi constitution.  He shares the widespread Kurdish distrust of the Shiite Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.
“No doubt Maliki and his government will regain full sovereignty and independence,” he says.  “All the frozen Iraqi assets will be freed, with which the Iraqi government can buy heavy weapons and sign military treaties.”
We'll stay with the topic of the Kurds, from yesterday's snapshot:

There's also political news out of the KRG.  Al Rafidayn reports that, amidst outcries from the Goran (Change) opposition party, the KRG Parliament voted to extend the term of President Massoud Barzani by two years.  Alsumaria notes that this will extend Barzani's term to 2015 and that this two-year-extension may not be repeated.  The Turkish Press notes that the Kurdistan Democratic Party and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan -- the KRG's two major political parties voted in favor of the measure while Goran, Yekgirtu and Komal (minor parties) were against the measure and refused to vote.  The move means that, while provincial elections are scheduled for September in the KRG, the presidency will not be voted on until 2015.   Though minor parties were upset, the Kurdish people most likely will not be.  Last week,  Alsumaria reported on a new poll of the KRG which find that 69% of those surveyed want Barzani to serve a third term.  That number is much larger than any press reports have indicated.  At issue was a measure passed during Barzani's first term as president limited the president to two terms only.  The measure was not retroactive.  So Barzani could have run for the presidency again -- and there was support from his political party for another run.  The two-year extension appears to be a way to avoid a third term.




Appears to be and is.  Today NINA reports:

The political bureau of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) published the points that have been agreed upon with the political bureau of the Democratic Party on the extension of the presidential term. According to the points, the constitution of the region will be modified by national consensus, while the extension of the presidential term will be linked to on condition that Massoud Barzani will not nominate again.


All Iraq News speaks with MP Latif Nirawi (a member of Talabani's PUK party) who discusses the same conditions.  Asked about the extension of the presidential term and the Constituional issues at stake during  the US State Dept press briefing today, spokesperson Jen Psaki was clearly caught off guard and responded, "I would just have to check with our Iraq folks on that for you and get you a response. I’m happy to do that."  Earlier in the day,  Kamal Chomani (World Bulletin) opined:

While President Masoud Barzani was in a meeting with the French President Fran├žois Hollande, discussing the Kurdistan Region’s booming economy and democracy, his Kurdistan Democratic Party was in another meeting with Jalal Talabani’s party, Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, breaching the laws and violating the most basic principles of democracy in their effort to extend Barzani’s incumbent term for another two years. However, a surprising development occurred when a few of the PUK’s Politburo members and the KDP agreed, in a clandestine meeting, to postpone extending Barzani’s term until August 19, 2015, and to extend the Parliament’s term to be continued till November 1, 2013.

In the comments (there are two) to the article, already one rejects Chomani's conclusions and offers that the stability is needed due to the fact that Article 140 of the Iraqi Constitution has still not been implemented and disputed Kirkuk remains unresolved.  That's actually not going to be a rare opinion.  The reason for the massive support (69%) in the poll had to do with that and it had to do with the fact that Iraqi President Jalal Talabani's fate remains a question mark.

 Last December,  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.  At the end of May, photos popped up --   Al Mada ran a photo of Jalal Talabani seated outdoors with his medical team -- to refute rumors that Talabani was worse than was being let on.  Repeated assertions that he would return to Iraq shortly have yet to pan out.

There are two main political parties in the KRG: the PUK and the KDP.  They transfer power back-and-forth rather easily.  With the question mark around Jalal currently, it's not a surprise that his PUK would side with the KDP and would most likely argue that this is a stability issue -- important as calls for Jalal to be replaced include a small number of calls for him to be replaced with a Shi'ite (which would strip the Kurds of the ceremonial post of president which carries little weight but a great deal of international prestige).


Nouri al-Maliki continued his visit to Russia today.  NINA notes the Iraqi prime minister met with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and quotes a statement from Nouri's office declaring, "The two sides also discussed the latest developments in the region especially the Syrian crisis."  And later he met with Russian President Vladimir Putin. While meeting with Putin, All Iraq News quotes Nouri stating, "There are no obstacles to apply the armament deal with Russia."  Al Mada notes that flights from Moscow to Baghdad and back are to start shortly.

In terms of other countries, Seema Sengupta (Arab News) ponders relations between Iraq and India:

Is India inching toward making a post-war factious Iraq one of her key strategic partner in the Middle East?
Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid’s fairly successful trip to Baghdad last month raises the possibility of New Delhi reopening its high-level diplomatic contacts with Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki’s administration. After all, both the nations have a long history of thriving partnership that goes far beyond the tumultuous days of the Gulf War.
Iraq, holding the world’s second largest proven oil reserves was a major energy source for New Delhi and more importantly remained the biggest market for project exports as well as export of chemicals, commercial goods and foodstuff from India till the United Nations imposed sanctions in the early 1990s.
Those were the golden days of bilateral bonhomie that not only prompted New Delhi to consistently oppose the American invasion of Iraq but also emboldened the then foreign minister, the late Inder Gujral, to undertake a whirlwind tour of Iraqi occupied Kuwait and thereafter Baghdad at a time when Saddam Hussein has already become a pariah of the international community.




US Secretary of State John Kerry didn't go to Baghdad but he did have a multi-day trip through the Middle East and Asia that was supposed to have accomplished something.  Sadly, it didn't.  And the US looks very sorry and very sad as a result.  Kerry made headlines -- and continues to -- with his idiotic remarks about NSA whistle-blower Ed Snowden.  John Kerry is no longer a US Senator.  So his every thought on every topic is no longer needed.  He is Secretary of State and he needs to narrow his remarks and show more focus.  There is no Geneva 2 as the end of his trip.  There is nothing to show for his trip but a bunch of snarky remarks about Snowden.  The US taxpayers are suffering enough, they don't have time to waste money to send Kerry around the world so that he can bully and bluster about an American citizen.  He needs to learn to focus.  All that money wasted and nothing to show for it.

From today's US State Dept press briefing.




 
Matt Lee: All right. And then the other thing is that – and I didn’t – wasn’t going to bring this up, but since you insist on repeating the Secretary’s line that he made real progress on this trip, can you point to one solid, tangible, public example that would back up that claim?

Jen Psaki: Well, Matt, I know you and Patrick had quite a fruitful conversation yesterday.

Matt Lee: Yes. Yeah, and I wasn’t going to bring it up again, but since you continue to insist that this – that real progress was made, and I continue to not see any sign of real progress being made, I bring it up again. So here’s your opportunity. Show me.


Jen Psaki: Well, Matt, this is another one of those cases where the Secretary believes, as many of the parties believe, that the best way to create the conditions for both parties going back to the table is for those talks and conversations to remain private. He also knows, as I’m sure all parties know, that this will be judged by the outcome. But I would, again, point you to what he said about how we can’t – we couldn’t risk not making an effort to put energy and put time and resources into this process. But I don’t have any more updates for you or any readouts of private conversations to tell you about.


Matt Lee: Well, I’m not asking for private. I’m specifically saying public. So the answer to my question is no, you cannot point to a single tangible piece of evidence --

Jen Psaki:  Well, Matt, there are --


Matt Lee:  -- that would support your claim, the Secretary’s claim, that real progress was made.

Jen Psaki:  Well, Matt, there are – he did leave several staff members on the ground. They’re having some technical conversations. Beyond that, stay tuned.

Matt Lee:  So that’s the sign? That’s what you’re pointing me to? The fact that Frank Lowenstein and some guy from the Legal Adviser’s Office stayed behind and – stayed behind? That is a sign of progress. Is that correct?

Jen Psaki:  He had long --

Matt Lee:  I just want to know. Is that what you’re pointing to?

Jen Psaki:  That is one that is – what is happening as we speak, Matt. But as you know --

Matt Lee:  That that is a sign of progress?

Jen Psaki:  -- and I know your colleague was there suffering in the vans as these meetings were happening, but these were lengthy meetings, they were intense meetings.

Matt Lee:  I’m sure they were. But having a lengthy meeting isn’t a sign of real progress. I just want to make clear – make sure I understand that you’re saying that Frank Lowenstein and this guy from the Legal Adviser’s Office staying behind to do – to follow up on his visit is a sign – that’s a sign of real progress?

Jen Psaki:  Well, my larger point, Matt, is about what the best path to creating the conditions to move to a path to peace would be. And the Secretary believes that should be through private discussions.

Matt Lee: All right. I’m going to take that as a no, that you can’t point me to one piece of evidence that --

Jen Psaki:  Stay tuned, Matt. Stay tuned.


No progress was made.  When progress is made, when even one cent out of a million of taxpayer dollars accomplishes something, it's trumpeted.  Instead, it was a wasted trip.

Jen Psaki would not speak, when asked today, about the State Dept stipulation in the Bradley Manning case.  She referred reporters to the US military.  No.  The State Dept made the stipulation therefore they are the ones responsible for explaining it, no one else.  By contrast her yacking on yet again about Ed Snowden?  That is outside her reference and she and the State Dept need to stop talking about Ed Snowden.

NSA whistle-blower Ed Snowden blew the lid off Barack Obama's spying on Americans and on the whole world.  He has global popular support but, currently, he's struggling to find a country to grant him asylum.

The Times of India quotes  the spokesperson for India's Foreign Ministry Syed Akbaruddin stating,  "Our embassy in Moscow did receive a communication dated 30 June from Mr Edward Snowden. That communication did contain a request for asylum. Following careful examination, we have concluded that we see no reason to accede to Snowden's request."  Alonso Soto, Todd Benson and Vicki Allen (Reuters) report that Brazil's Foreign Ministry also announced they were rejecting an asylum request.  Heather Saul (Independent) offers this summary, "Brazil, Finland, India and Poland have all outright rejected Mr Snowden's requests for asylum, and Austria, Spain and Norway have taken the same stance as Ecuador, rejecting asylum on the basis that he is not on their soil." BBC News reports:


Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Mr Snowden had withdrawn the application to Russia because Moscow had said he should give up "anti-American activity".
"After learning of Russia's position yesterday, voiced by President Putin... he abandoned his intention [of staying] and his request to be able to stay in Russia," said Mr Peskov.
President Putin had said that while Moscow "never hands over anybody anywhere", Mr Snowden could only stay on condition that he stopped damaging Russia's "American partners" with his leaks.

WikiLeaks Tweeted the following:



The question is not which country will grant Mr. Snowden asylum. The question is which countries still have an independent executive.


This evening, the rumor was that Bolivia would offer Ed Snowden asylum and that he was bound for the country.  Al Jazeera reports:




Bolivia has said President Evo Morales' plane was forced to land in Austria after France and Portugal refused air permits, apparently because they suspected it was carrying Edward Snowden, the former US spy agency contractor wanted by Washington on espionage charges.
Bolivian Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca on Tuesday furiously accused France and Portugal of putting Morales' life at risk and insisted that Snowden was not on Morales' plane.
Choquehuanca told reporters that Portugal and France had abruptly cancelled the air permits, forcing the unscheduled Vienna stopover as Morales was returning on a Bolivian government aircraft from Russia.

Michael Pearson, Matt Smith and Jethro Mullen (CNN) quote Foreign Minister Choquehuanca stating, "We don't know who has come up with this huge lie. We would like to let the international community know that the rights of aerial traffic for Bolivia have been violated."

 CNN was where War Criminal Bully Boy Bush elected to share, with CNN's Robyn Curnow (for State of the Union), "I think he damaged the security of the country."  Sadly, the old drunk and killer of millions wasn't speaking of himself in third person or of his soul twin Barack Obama.  No, he was attacking Ed Snowden.  Because the best way to prove how wrong Barack is would be for Bully Boy Bush to surface with praise.  Shamus Cooke (CounterPunch) notes:



When the NSA spying scandal broke, so did the illusion that President Obama was significantly different than his predecessor, Bush Jr. Obama’s meticulously crafted image was specifically created as an alternative to Bush: Obama campaigned as a peace candidate who loved civil liberties and wanted to work with the UN instead of unilaterally launching wars.
But now that the president has been fully exposed as an aspiring Bush III, will he retreat back into the sheep’s clothing he wore as candidate Obama? Or will he shed any remaining pretense and fully adopt Bush’s international recklessness? The answer is that both are likely true: Obama will continue to perform his stale routine as a “pragmatist” while in reality acting out an even more dangerous foreign policy than Bush.
This is because Edward Snowden, Russia, and Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad have backed President Obama into a corner; all have exposed major weaknesses in the foreign power of the United States, and Obama will not allow himself — and more importantly “U.S. national [corporate] interests” — to appear weak while Iran, Russia and China are rising economically and/or politically. This dynamic will inevitably lead Obama to a more aggressive foreign policy, more Middle East wars, and more dangerous confrontations with Iran, Russia, and China.



Stephen Lendman appeared on Press TV today and it wasn't pretty for Barack (link is video and text):


Lendman also said President Barack Obama downplayedAmericas unconstitutional spying at home, its lawless blind on a global scale”.
European leaders in Germany, in Italy, in France, in other countries they expressed outrage quote on quote about what America is doing. They know perfectly well what American is doing. They may know more now because of details that Edward Snowden revealed. He connected a lot of dots that maybe even insiders didnt fully know about this”, he explained.
 Snowdens revelation is the tip of the iceberg. It reflects Americas imperial agenda. Obama is waging wars in the Middle East, in central Asia. He’s got other wars in mind”, the analyst said.
 "Humanity may not survive on Obamas watch. America has a permanent war policy”, Lendman said. “In the entire history of America, its an almost unbelievable fact, but its true. America never in a single year experienced peace”.


But if you're not getting how much damage Barack is doing worldwide and how much resentment he's causing towards the United States, the Press TV article to check out is "Terror drone kills 7 in northwestern Pakistan."  The Drone War so many in the US want to pretend isn't taking place?  Silence isn't how it's greeted around the world.  Hostility and hatred are being bred and its directly because of Barack's Drone War.


Americans might also prefer to pretend that there are no political prisoners in the US.  There are many.  One is attorney Lynne Stewart who was sentenced to ten years behind bars for the 'crime' of issuing a press release to Reuters.  As if that's not outrageous enough, cancer survivor Lynne has learned the cancer has returned.

In reality, there's probably not much time for Lynne.  You always hope for a miracle, for something to work, but the reality is that Lynne's probably looking at only a year at best before she succumbs to cancer.  She's done so much for so many over the years and now she's dying and the US government could release her on a compassionate release, allowing her to leave the Texas prison and return to New York where her husband and her children and her grandchildren are, where her friends are, where the doctor who treated her for cancer before is.  It would mean so much.

So of course the US government refuses to do anything.  At Change.org, there are over 20,000 signatures on the petition calling for Lynne to be freed.  But she's not.  Here's the latest update on Lynne:



The Federal Bureau of Prisons has DENIED Lynne Stewart’s application for compassionate release. Director Charles E. Samuels, Jr. took this action despite recommendations for compassionate release from Federal Medical Center, Carswell Warden Jody R. Upton and South Central Regional Office Director J.A. Keller, as well as the vetting of Stewart’s release plans by the Federal Probation Office in New York.
The struggle to free Lynne Stewart continues on many fronts. First and foremost, each and every one of us must increase the number of people worldwide who sign the petition.
Lynne Stewart’s condition is deteriorating rapidly. Medical treatment to arrest the cancer that is metastasizing in her body has been halted because she is too weak to receive it. She remains in isolation, as her white blood cell count is so low that she is at risk for generalized infection.
We shall not stand by idly while the Federal Bureau of Prisons murders Lynne Stewart. The Bureau of Prisons can and must reverse its decision.

A message from Lynne Stewart:

6/25/13 - Disappointed but Not Devastated
My Dear Friends, Supporters, Comrades:
I know we are all disappointed to the marrow of our bones and the depths of our hearts by the news that the Bureaucrats, Kafka like, have turned down my request for compassionate release.
Let me say, that we are planning ahead. The letter from the BOP is flawed, to put it mildly. Both factually and medically it has major problems. We intend to go to court and raise these in front of my sentencing Judge Koeltl. At the first sentencing he responded to a query by one of the lawyers that he didn’t want me to die in prison — we’ll see if he can now live up to that. He is of course the same Judge who increased my sentence to 10 years — but this IS very different and we can only hope that we can prevail. Stay tuned for what we need from you. We will never give up.
In the meantime, once again, I grieve for my children and grandchildren who love me so much and had such great expectations of enjoying life together again in our beloved NYC and not just trying to, in the prison visiting room. My Ralph, too, whose dedication and love are only exceeded by the work he does on my behalf — but he is a born fighter and although he hurts, it all comes more naturally to him.
But for everyone else, I hope that your affront at this crass bureaucratic denial of the request, which you by your signatures and letters and phone calls, demanded — How far can we let this go? when a 73-year old woman who IS dying of cancer (maybe not on their timetable,) her life of good works ignored, be shunted aside … “she does not present circumstances considered extraordinary and compelling … at this time.” We must show them that I cannot be ignored, that YOU cannot be ignored.”
Fight On — All of Us or None of Us. An affront to one is an affront to all.
Love Struggle,
Lynne Stewart














qassim abdul-zahra






 


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