Friday, March 18, 2011

Don't Meet The Morgans

It’s vicious vengeance. It’s horrific punishment. It’s cruel cruising. We talk of course of Barack Obama’s latest vacation.

How do we know Obama is about to embark on yet another vacation? An Obama vacation is preceded by a series of publicity stunts calculated to feign involvement. Yesterday and today the schedule has shifted from appearances on golf courses to several appearances to make statements on something or other. But be not deceived, Obama is only dreaming of loving crowds and the beaches of Rio.

Think of it as Obama’s revenge.

Back when we played that video with regularity Barack Obama had just made a fool of himself by traveling to Copenhagen in a forlorn effort to get the Olympic games to Chicago in 2012.

Obama’s spectacular boobery failed to get the Olympic games. Rio won. On that October 2009 we questioned the priorities, common sense and judgment of Barack Obama. It was not a wise use of time to fly away from domestic unemployment and other troubles in order to bask in Nordic adulation. The results were that Obama thought there was going to be adulation and a great Olympic victory but all he came back with was his scowling wife, a ravenous Oprah, and a face smarting from the many slaps the Olympic Committee awarded to him – smack dab in the kisser.

Now Obama cruelly punishes Brazil by scheduling a vacation to that lovely country:

“The Obama family will also take in the sights in Rio. A trip to Corcovado mountain, where the Christ the Redeemer statue stands (France gave us Lady Liberty, gave Brazil Jesus) is supposedly on the itinerary. What trip to Rio would be complete without it? If they do make it to the top of the mountain, they will do so with an entourage of secret service and Brazil’s Elite Squad, known as BOPE.”

Bereft of adoring crowds at home (a new poll has 50% of registered voters prepared to vote against Obama and only 40% in support) Obama is traveling in search of a publicity stunt to kick off a still expected reelection attempt. Obama will speak at Cinelandia Square, in a cinematic moment, for cinematic effect – namely a campaign video to try to convince former Hopium addicts to again take up the needle and abandon the disastrous reality of the past three years.

[Oops, the outside Cinelandia speech has been canceled. The unions in Brazil think Obama is a creep and were prepared to protest. The speech will now be in a theater- it should be a circus tent.]

Barack sounded just like Bush today, didn't he? I'll talk about that next week, maybe. But it's movie night.

Before that, though. Please, please take part in an action tomorrow. If we don't demand an end to these wars, they're not to end. So for yourself, for the country, for the world, take part in an action against the wars tomorrow.


I like Hugh Grant.

I know some people don't. (I know some people do.) I think he's really funny in certain comedies. (Certain? I've never seen "About A Boy" -- the trailer just immediately turned me off the film.)

If it's a comedy, I'll almost always consider seeing it and probably 90% of the time, I'll go see it.

He's made an awful comedy that I've seen. It was called "Mickey Blue Eyes." And I didn't think he'd ever top that . . . however . . .

"Did You Hear About The Morgans?" If not, let me tell you, it sucks.

"Did You Hear About The Morgans?" is the film starring him and Sarah Jessica Parker. While I'm glad SJP finally got her chin wart removed, I don't think she's all that funny, sorry.

And in this film she's just awful.

She also looks awful. Her hair is awful. She looks like she lost about 40 pounds after she had her wardrobe fitting. She looks tired throughout.

She brings the whole movie down.

Hugh Grant has some funny solo moments. And he's good enough that you can realize how great a film it would have been with, for example, Meg Ryan in the SJP role. It really needed a funny woman in it. Julia Roberts would have been just as bad as SJP was. But Meg could have carried it.

Speaking of horse faced Julia.

If you've seen the trailer for "Larry Crowne," you probably thought, "Oh, so that's going to be the big bomb this summer."

Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts have made another film together.

Julia does the snit-fit simmer she's been doing for years now. If you want her 'acting technique,' you just have pull up your nostrils and toss your voice to the roof or your mouth while looking bored.

Tom has straightened his hair again. I have no idea why. It makes him look stupid and deformed.

So he works at like a Best Buy or Costco and he gets fired because of the economy and because he doesn't have a degree. (Yeah, right, the stockers at Target are being let go on whether or not they have a fine arts degree.)

So he does what anyone would do, buy's a scooter at a garge sale and signs up for a speaking class at community college.

Julia's his teacher.

They're too old for this. They probably couldn't have pulled it off in the '00s but they look ridiculous in the '10s. Well maybe this'll be the film that finally sinks Tom Hanks?

It is just not funny (the trailer) and you really just want Cher to show up, slap Julia hard across the face and holler, "Snap out of it!"

A part of me wants the film to succeed if only to avoid the next step in Julia Roberts' pathetic career: TV drama.

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

Friday, March 18, 2011. Chaos and violence continue, The Diane Rehm Show self-embarrasses over the airwaves, Iraqi forces in Baghdad beat protesters, Iraqi forces in Falluja vow they will "hunt down" the protesters there, Americans with ethics gear up for tomorrow's protests against the wars, KPFK may be the only Pacifica station that remembers the wars, and much more.
A CBS news reporter was attacked and sexually assaulted while stationed in Egypt to cover the events there. We'll call her "Ms. Logan" for right now -- that's not an insult to Logan and you'll understand after an excerpt why we're doing that. The February 24th snapshot noted that Diane Rehm asked Al Jazeera's Abderrahim Foukara about the fact that "Al Jazeera Arabic did not cover" the assault on Logan. He begged off at the time and stated he'd be happy to address it at a future date, after he was able to pursue the topic and gather some information. On The Diane Rehm Show (NPR) this morning, that day finally arrived during the second hour.
Diane Rehm: Abderrahim, the last time you were on this program, we asked you about why the sexual assault of Laura Logan in Egypt was not reported by Al Jazeera You said you'd give us an answer the next time you came on.
Abderrahim Foukara: So, I mean, I'd be happy to report my findings, so to speak. What I've been told is that there was some debate about how the Laura Logan story should be reported and if it should be reported at all. For Al Jazeera English, there were people who wanted to, in one way or another, report the story. And there were others who thought that the focus should remain the revolution in Egypt rather than what happened to an individual journalist, although many other journalists had come under attack in Cairo. There are actually people who knew -- there's one particular individual who is the managing director of Al Jazeerra English, who knew Sarah Logan personally from his time at CBS. He knew her personally. She's a former collegue of his. And the decision eventaully was made that because Al Jazeera English broadcasts to 120 different countries, not just the United States, that they would go with the revolution at the focus not what happens to individual journalists.
Diane Rehm: Abderrahim Foukara. He's Washington bureau chief for Al Jazeera Arabic. When we come back, we'll open the phones, read our e-mail, look at our Facebook postings and your Tweets.
First, let's note that in the previous conversation -- which was now being 'updated' -- it was agreed by both that Al Jazeera English had reported on Logan's assault but Al Jazeera Arabic had not. Second, Al Jazeera -- either English or Arabic -- was not going to have an exclusive interview with Logan. All they were going to do was a 30-second headline in a series of headlines. That would not have changed the focus. Foukara's a damn liar and Diane's a damn fool. Al Jazeera was posting Nir Rosen's 'reporting' days after his apology tour. Don't pretend the two weren't connected.
And don't pretend that a "f**king fool" (ABC News correspondent) who refers to "Laura" and "Sarah" Logan did a damn bit of research on anything. L-A-R-A. Not "Laura." And that brings us to the idiot that is Diane Rehm (though at CBS News, she's being called worse than "idiot" right now). She made a point to raise the issue. And she didn't know the woman's name. Lara Logan's name was given three times on the third hour of The Diane Rehm Show and neither the host nor the guest knew Lara's name.
How stupid can you be? Diane's been all over the media in the last weeks, talking about how NPR needs tax payer money to continue the high quality journalism. Diane, you can't even get Lara Logan's name correctly. You want to pretend you're offering high quality journalism? Really, Diana Reeves?
What a stupid, stupid woman. Is it any wonder that as the Iraq War's eight anniversary arrives, Diane-Diane-Dana can't find Iraq for week five? Week six? Yet, as Ava and I noted at Third Sunday, last week Diane Rehm wanted to grand stand and present guests who claimed -- in a discussion of the costs of wars -- that the American people had forgotten the Iraq War. No, the American Gas Bags have forgotten Iraq.
March Forward! has not forgotten the Iraq War or avoided addressing the realities. Their latest includes the following:
On March 19, 2003, U.S.-led forces invaded Iraq in an attempt to force the oil-rich country to accept imperialist rule. "National defense" and "building democracy" were simply lies to mask the real aim of the war: the de-nationalization of Iraq's oil. Eight years later, over 1 million Iraqis are dead, millions are refugees and living conditions have deteriorated to the point that last year Baghdad was rated the least livable city in the world.

Although the invasion began in 2003, Iraq has been the target of U.S. aggression since 1991, when tens of thousands of civilians died in the "Gulf War." This was followed by genocidal sanctions that led to 1.5 million deaths, including half a million children under the age of 5.

This brutality, however, did not succeed in forcing the Iraqi people to surrender their sovereignty. Starting in 2002, the Bush administration began a racist, fear-mongering campaign to drum up support for an outright invasion. The claim that Iraq was harboring terrorists or developing weapons of mass destruction were obvious lies, but nevertheless politicians from both the Republican and Democratic parties overwhelmingly voted to authorize the war.

Although Baghdad fell just a few weeks after the invasion, popular Iraqi resistance bogged down occupation forces and challenged the U.S.-backed regime. The fighting escalated and in 2007 the Bush administration announced the "surge," involving increased troop levels and cash payments to buy off the formerly anti-occupation Awakening Movement. Violence declined but the Iraqi people never fully accepted foreign rule.

The war continues today, by virtue of both the physical presence of U.S. forces and the economic and social devastation caused by nearly a decade of occupation. Although combat operations have officially been declared "over," 50,000 U.S. troops remain in the country.

While the withdrawal from Iraq is supposed to be completed by the end of 2011, Defense Secretary Robert Gates has strongly hinted that the deadline will be ignored. Rep. Adam Smith, a high-ranking member of the Armed Services Committee, said that the number of troops still in Iraq after the end of this year "could be 20,000." Permanent U.S. bases and compounds are set to remain.

Occupation brings death and suffering

The Iraq war has led to a staggering number of deaths. According to the results of a 2008 study by the UK-based Opinion Research Business, 1,033,000 people have died as a result of the war. This is consistent with the findings of a study conducted by The Lancet, one of the oldest and most respected scientific journals in the world.

But even this figure does not truly convey the magnitude of the human suffering caused by the invasion and occupation. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, 4.7 million Iraqis, about 15 percent of the population, have been forced to flee their homes. 2.7 million are internally displaced and 2 million have left the country entirely; 5 million Iraqi children are orphans.

Corruption is rampant at all levels of the illegitimate Iraqi government. A 2009 document issued by the Iraqi Commission on Public Integrity reported 5,031 complaints of corruption the previous year. However, out of over 3,000 cases sent to courts, only 97 officials, less than 3 percent, were convicted. Iraq was ranked the fourth most corrupt country in the world in 2010.

Excluding Baghdad, about 30 percent of the population does not have access to potable water. In the capital the figure is slightly lower, around 25 percent, but much higher in some rural areas, at roughly 50 percent. Iraq is only capable of producing slightly more than half of the electricity it needs, leaving most Iraqis without power on a regular basis.

Outright unemployment stands at 15 percent, but rises to 43 percent if the underemployed are included. Young people are especially affected by joblessness and 23 percent of the population lives on less than $2.20 a day.

Iraq is now poisoned with the remnants of depleted uranium and chemical weapons. Staggering levels of birth defects, cancer, and infant mortality has labeled parts of Iraq with a fallout "worse than Hiroshima" -- or, worse than the worst fallout in history.

Those who fantasized that somehow U.S. intervention would create a better life for the Iraqi people than under the government of Saddam Hussein are left looking at the biggest humanitarian crisis in the Middle East and civilian casualties at genocidal proportions.

You could have turned the above into five hours of discussion easily if you gave a damn about the Iraq War but, clearly, Diane Rehm doesn't. Tomorrow A.N.S.W.E.R. and March Forward! and others will be taking part in these action:

March 19 is the 8th anniversary of the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Iraq today remains occupied by 50,000 U.S. soldiers and tens of thousands of foreign mercenaries.

The war in Afghanistan is raging. The U.S. is invading and bombing Pakistan. The U.S. is financing endless atrocities against the people of Palestine, relentlessly threatening Iran and bringing Korea to the brink of a new war.

While the United States will spend $1 trillion for war, occupation and weapons in 2011, 30 million people in the United States remain unemployed or severely underemployed, and cuts in education, housing and healthcare are imposing a huge toll on the people.

Actions of civil resistance are spreading.

On Dec. 16, 2010, a veterans-led civil resistance at the White House played an important role in bringing the anti-war movement from protest to resistance. Enduring hours of heavy snow, 131 veterans and other anti-war activists lined the White House fence and were arrested. Some of those arrested will be going to trial, which will be scheduled soon in Washington, D.C.

Saturday, March 19, 2011, the anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, will be an international day of action against the war machine.

Protest and resistance actions will take place in cities and towns across the United States. Scores of organizations are coming together. Demonstrations are scheduled for San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and more.

Last night The Lawyer's Guild (KPFK) devoted significant time to the Iraq War. (Click here for the archives, scroll down and you have 58 days from today to listen to it before it goes offline.) Public radio could use a lot more Jim Lafferty and a lot less Diane Rehm. Jim's guests included March Forward's Mike Prysner, an Iraq War veteran. Excerpt:
Jim Lafferty: Mike Prysner, let's get you into this discussion, my friend. Both you and Dick Becker [A.N.S.W.E.R.'s Richard Becker] of, as I mentioned, protests this coming Saturday against the US wars and occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan -- And, by the way, listeners, I'm proud to say that here in LA, KPFK is the media sponsor for the March 19th antiwar protest. The war in Iraq's now eight years old, the war in Afghanistan ten -- the longest war of our country. I can't help but wonder, Mike, if these wars would have gone on for as long as they have or ever been started in the first place if so many of those Middle Eastern countries weren't run by governments beholden to the United States anyway. Do you have a thought on that?
Mike Prysner:Uhm, well, yeah. I mean basically the goal of the United States in the region, we know that the Middle East is home to the vast majority of oil and natural gas reserves. And the United States, whether it's through directly military intervention, whether it's through backing dictatorships or enacting sanctions to try to overthrow independent countries, the main goal in the region is controlling the oil and the natural gas reserves. And there's a variety of different tactics used to do that but that's the primary goal of US domination in the region. That's what its military is used for. That's the purpose of the wars. The purpose of every other client-state that it backs there.
Jim Lafferty: Sure. Well two-thirds, Mike, two-thirds of the American people, as you well know, think the war in Afghanistan is not worth fighting, that we should get out, that's been true for some time now. So a fair question for somebody dropping in from another planet might be, so why is it that in this supposed democracy the government of the people keeps on fighting the war they don't want?
Mike Prysner: Absolutely. We never really got to vote on whether or not we [should] invade Iraq. In fact, the actual voting was done in the streets when there was the largest anti-war demonstration in history, when there was the biggest outpouring of people ever to stop the war from happening. That's where the real was happening. But, you know, these decisions of who we bomb, who we go to war with -- you know, if we're going to bomb Libya, if we're going to stay in Afghanistan -- these are decisions that we have no say in at all. These are decisions that are made behind closed doors with virtually all the same people who were there during the Bush administration -- are retained through the Obama administration, all the generals and civilian advisors in the Pentagon. So essentially we don't really have a democracy. What we have is a rule of the rich, a government that serves the interests of those oil giants and those Wall Street CEOs that stand to gain billions of dollars in profits from having access.
Jim Lafferty: Mmm-hmm. And yet as we proved in Vietnam -- and I for one believe we can still prove again -- we can overcome that -- what we might call, that deficit of democracy or that lack of democracy -- overcome that with a long enough and a hard enough fight, a militant fight, a fight that finally builds enough of a massive movement both within the armed services themselves -- and certainly you're going to talk about that in a minute -- within the armed services themselves there's little stomach for these wars, build a massive, big enough movement in the streets over and over again so it finally becomes impossible. I noticed even today that in this new Congress, [Dennis] Kucinich was able to pick up another 22 or 26 votes to the 40 or 50 or whatever it was votes that he got last time for getting out of Afghanistan. So even there there's a certain weakening of will, if you will. Mike, I understand though that this year the protests focus a great deal on the sky rocketing cost of these wars at a time when so many Americans are out of work and social services are being so drastically cut. Will that be true of the demonstration here in LA, Mike Prysner?
Mike Prysner: Absolutely. And, you know, since the economic crisis in 2008 there's been a really accelerated attack on working people. You know, our rights and our benefits and our pay, these are things that were always under attack but, of course, when there's an economic crisis for the richest people in the country, that burden has to be shifted to the people who are the most vulnerable. So in the past two years or in the past three years, you know, unions, public sector workers, workers in general have lost their jobs, have lost their benefits, have lost their pay increases, have lost access to health care. Students, we know, we saw massive demonstrations last year, students are having tuition go up. Upwards of 40% in some places and this is really ridiculous.
Jim Lafferty: Yep.
Mike Prysner: And all the while, while things keep getting harder and harder at home, we're watching upwards of $700 million every single day being spent on the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan alone. You know, this doesn't even count the entire military budget to sustain this network of 800 military bases around the world. And so, absolutely, we have to make these connections. These issues are absolutely linked. They're inextricably linked. That all of the attacks against working people at home and all of the cuts to benefits, health care and education are coming because this government needs all this money to do other things -- to bail out the banks and to fund these criminal wars abroad.
Jim Lafferty: Yeah. Well in fact -- I know for a fact, I mean it's no secret -- that the entire deficit, the total deficit of all 50 states combined is about 127, 129, billion dollars. That's a tidy sum, to be sure, but chump change when compared with the one trillion dollars [$1,000,000,000,000.00] spent on Iraq and Afghanistan.
The LA protest starts at noon at Hollywood & Vine. And as Jim pointed out KPFK is the official media sponsor. They are the only, THE ONLY, Pacifica radio station to promote the protest all week long on the main page of their website. Ron Kovic will be among those participating in the LA action and you can find more details at the LA A.N.S.W.E.R. website. KPFA isn't promoting the Bay Area protest on their website, WBAI is not promoting the NYC event at their website (and someone needs to explain why the Left Forum thought this was the weekend to compete with the NYC event -- we'll again note the NYC event at the end of this snapshot). A KPFA friend has passed on numerous complaints that the station is receiving and Ava and I will probably include those in some way in a piece we write for Third on Sunday. KPFA's silence is not accidental and it has not gone unnoticed by the listeners whose money they are desperate for. Don't worry, there's always time for the Bay Area Entertainment calendar, just not time for peace news despite the fact that peace issues were the sole reason Pacifica Radio was created. KPFA and WBAI are about as far from their roots these days as a bottled blond.
Tomorrow's the anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. Eight years ago, the illegal war began and it continues. Despite claims that it has ended (that was the press coverage that ended, not the war), despite claims that it ends at the end of the year. While so many are silent, the must-read report today is Lara Jakes (AP) report: "Despite a security agreement requiring a full U.S. military withdrawal by the year's end, hundreds if not thousands of American soldiers will continue to be in Iraq beyond 2012."
Alsumaria TV reports, "Hundreds of Fallujah residents demonstrated on Friday calling to release detainees who have not been charged. A police source in Diwaniya province reported on the other hand that two Katyusha missiles hit a US military base, western Diwaniya, without revealing the death toll or extent of damages." Aswat al-Iraq reports that protesters were forcibly dispersed and a curfew has been imposed. Al Mada reports that those rallying in Baghdad called for the release of detainees ahead of the protests on Facebook. This was how the 2011 protests in Iraq began, with families and friends of the imprisoned speaking out against the lack of trials, the secret prisons, the inability to meet with their loved ones. Al Mada also notes that the Anbar Salvation Council announced yesterday that they would be joining the Baghdad protests and ASC's Hamid al-Hayes explains that they joined with Baghdad because they want to raise attention of the issues in Anbar Province. David Ali (Al Mada) reports "hundreds" turned out in Baghdad's Liberation Square today calling for an end to corrpution and poor basic services as well as an end to torture, prison reform and the release of detainees. Iraqi forces cut off roads leading to the gathering with barbed wire and Iraqi forces and military vehicles. The Iraqi forces ordered the protesters to stop their demonstration and, when that did not happen, the forces began beating peaceful protesters with batons while firing bullets into the air and arresting many of them. Those arrested have been taken to detention centers where they will likely be tortured if the past experiences repeat. After being tortured, they'll be forced to sign a statement declaring that they weren't tortured and then released. That's how it goes in 'free' and 'liberated' Iraq under the US-installed puppet government.
Dar Addustour reports that in mosques Friday morning, religious clerics again stated their support for the protesters and peaceful demonstrations. Of the Baghdad protest, the paper notes Nouri al-Maliki's name came up in chants as did the governor of Baghdad's name in calls for people to resign. They quote a reporter present in Liberation Square stating, "The riot police called for the demonstrators in Tahrir Square to leave and then used batons on them and began arresting them." The paper notes that in Falluja, Iraqi forces are attempting to "hunt down" the people who organized today's Falluja demonstration. In Falluja, Iraqi forces prevented the reporters from having access to the protest and from speaking to the protesters. The assualts on journalism and a free press just never end in Nouri al-Maliki's Iraq.
Reuters must be related to Diane Rehm -- they file nothing from Iraq today. Poor little scared puppies. But violence took place in Baghdad as peaceful protesters were attacked, it took place around Iraq. Aswat al-Iraq notes a Kirkuk bombing claimed the lives of 2 children while leaving a third injured.

Falah Torch asks, "Why continue demonstrations?" (Kitabat) and answers because they force the realities to the surface, the truth about the corruption, the government that fails to perform for the people, the displacements, the killings, the denial of dignity, all of it is forced to the surface when the Iraqi people take to the streets and protest. In addition, it makes the government uncomfortable and forces resignations. The essay argues that these resignations will continue for as long as the protests do.

Apparently dispatched by the Iranian government, Moqtada al-Sadr returned to Iraq weeks ago, attempting to circumvent the protests. He has called on people not to protest but that tactic didn't work. Another delaying tactic was to insist that a refendum needed to be held first to detrmine what Iraqis wanted -- perhaps Moqtada was unable to read the banners the protesters were carrying? Al Mada reports that the results of the refernedum are now known, that 327,000 voted in Basra and that the voters support the right to protest. Yes, that is shocking. (That was sarcasm.) Alsumaria TV adds 3 million people across Iraq participated (Iraq's population is estimated to be 26 to 28 million) and that "Most participants believe the services in Iraq are deteriorating and stressed the necessity to protest in order to improve services in the country."

Moqtada declared this week that Iraqis should be protesting what's taking place in another country (Bahrain) and that plays like yet another attempt by Moqtada to derail the protests. In addition, yesterday the Parliament announced they'd take a ten day vacation -- pinning their sloth and inability to focus on Bahrain by declaring they were taking a ten day break to show solidarity with Bahrain. Gee, kind of thought the people of Bahrain were standing up and fighting, not hiding or going on holiday.

Of course, eight days prior, Parliament made a big to-do in announcing they wouldn't take a brief break in April but would instead work straight through May 14th. That was then. And what better time to take a break when Iraqis are decrying the government's refusal to govern and provide basic services? Or when the country is still without a Minister of Interior, a Minister of National Security or a Minister of Defense. The posts were supposed to be filled long ago. And the whispers were that Nouri would name them yesterday.

That didn't happen. Al Mada prints the latest round of whispers that Nouri was missing approval for one name and didn't want to announce two without the third.

A poem at Kitabat notes:

Barack, Barack, Barack
It is impossible to die, Iraq
It is impossible to die, Iraq
Do not back down

Robert Olson (Lexington Herald-Leader) observes, "While the Obama administration and the Pentagon have stated that U.S. combat troops will be withdrawn by the end of 2011, most Middle East analysts think up to 20,000 combat troops and other security personnel will remain. The State Department and Bureau of Diplomatic Security intend to employ another 10,000 to 12,000 security contractors. This indicates the U.S. plans to have a substantial presence in Iraq for the foreseeable future, including air bases."

Peace Mom Cindy Sheehan has a must read column -- no excerpt because it's humorous (and pointed) and I don't want to risk stepping on the laugh line in an excerpt. (We'll no doubt pick something from it to excerpt in a Truest at Third on Sunday.) Wait, we will do an excerpt. It'll give us a transition. Remember, Cindy's being sardonic, she's not become a cult member who is okay with anything done so long as it's done by a Democratic president:
I also must admit that I used to spend a lot of time worrying about Pfc Bradley Manning being incarcerated and tortured at Quantico for allegedly dumping info about US policy to Wikileaks. Now, I believe that if he did that to my wonderful president, he must deserve the treatment he is getting. Manning, that traitor, is lucky President Obama (D) hasn't just decided to drop a Hellfire missile on him from one of those righteous drones he loves to use! Additionally, if Obama (D) says that Manning's treatment is "appropriate," I believe him now. Worrying about Bradley was keeping me up at night and now I wish I had the money back that I incorrectly donated to his legal defense fund so I can send it to the Committee to Re-Elect the President.
Background on Bradley Manning. Monday April 5th, WikiLeaks released US military video of a July 12, 2007 assault in Iraq. 12 people were killed in the assault including two Reuters journalists Namie Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh. Monday June 7th, the US military announced that they had arrested Bradley Manning and he stood accused of being the leaker of the video. Leila Fadel (Washington Post) reported in August that Manning had been charged -- "two charges under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The first encompasses four counts of violating Army regulations by transferring classified information to his personal computer between November and May and adding unauthorized software to a classified computer system. The second comprises eight counts of violating federal laws governing the handling of classified information." Manning has been convicted in the public square despite the fact that he's been convicted in no state and has made no public statements -- despite any claims otherwise, he has made no public statements about the charges against him. Manning has been at Quantico in Virginia, under military lock and key, for months. Earlier this month, David S. Cloud (Los Angeles Times) reported that the military has added 22 additional counts to the charges including one that could be seen as "aiding the enemy" which could result in the death penalty if convicted. David E. Coombs is Bradley's attorney and he provided a walk through on Article 104. Like many, Sophie Elmhirst (New Statesman) emphasized the possibility of the death penalty.

Today the Center for Constitutional Rights issued the following statement:
Coalition of Human Rights Activists, Musicians, and Actors Send Letter to President, Sec. Gates Protesting Abuse of PFC Bradley Manning
Treatment of solider "brings back memories of the abuses committed in Abu-Ghraib"
Rallies to be held around the world this weekend
Washington, DC -- Top human rights organizations, actors, musicians and activists, including Viggo Mortensen, Roseanne Cash, Amnesty International and the Center for Constitutional Rights, sent a letter today to President Obama and Secretary Gates asking for immediate action into the inhumane treatment of PFC Bradley Manning, the U.S. Army private accused of disclosing classified materials.
The letter urges officials to "stop the cruel treatment of an American soldier." Full text of letter can be found here (link) and below.
This weekend, supporters from Washington to Berlin to Montreal and at Quantico are holding rallies protesting his abuse. Please find a complete list of locations here.
Top editorial boards around the country including The New York Times, Los Angeles Times and San Francisco Chronicle have also blasted Manning's treatment.
Signatories to the letter include: Rosanne Cash; Daniel Ellsberg; Shepard Fairey; Danny Glover; Jane Hamsher; Tom Morello; Viggo Morstensen; Jesselyn Radack, Government Accountability Project; Michael Ratner, Center for Constitutional Rights; Vince Warren, Center for Constitutional Rights; Angela Wright, Amnesty International.
To read the letter, click the PDF link below.

We'll close by again noting the NYC protest. If you are in NYC or the surrounding area, you might consider this one that Joan Wile is the founder of Grandmothers Against the War and has written the book Grandmothers Against the War: Getting Off Our Fannies and Standing Up for Peace. They will be taking part in the NYC demonstration:
It's encouraging to see the people uprisings abroad and in our own country. The Egypt revolt really sparked something, and, on its revolutionary heels, the workers of Wisconsin came to life and fought Gov. Walker's efforts to strip them of their rights. People in other states being subjected to the same onslaught rose into action, also. It seems as if we might be on the cusp of meaningful fightback in the U.S. against the new robber barons who don't give a damn about you and me but are only interested in swelling their over-bloated portfolios to even greater obscene proportions.
This is a supremely opportune time to apply this welcome surge of People Power to the anti-war movement. We in the peace movement who have been conducting our futile struggle for almost 8 years to prevent, then end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, must grab this moment to pursue our cause with greater force. This does not take anything away from the battle to protect workers rights -- to the contrary, it is a wonderful support. Bring the troops and the war dollars home, and fix our broken economy. Remove all justification that way for cutting benefits and salaries -- then, the greedy scoundrels would have no rationale for busting the unions.
Accordingly, I urge all those within travel distance of New York City who will not be going to the Washington rally on March 19 to attend our adjunct protest on the same day, coordinated by the local Chapter 34 of the Veterans for Peace and by Grandmothers Against the War. As we did on Dec. 16 in support of that day's protest at the White House, we will meet at the Times Square recruiting station at 5:00 pm. In December, 131 people were arrested in D.C. and 11 of us were arrested in New York. We will again carry out non-violent civil disobedience in our continuing efforts to thereby keep the issue alive and, hopefully, to nudge the sleeping citizenry with the urgent need to end these immoral and tragic wars.
Let's turn out in massive numbers in Washington and in the Big Apple. They are doing it in Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, and other locales. We can, we must, get out on the streets, too, and finally stop the killing!
DATE AND TIME: 5-6 pm, Sat., March 19
PLACE: Times Square recruiting station, Broadway at 44th St.
endorsed by
Big Apple Coffee Party; Brooklyn For Peace; Catholic Workers; Chelsea Neighbors United to End the War; Grandmothers Against
the War; Granny Peace Brigade; Gray Panthers; Pax Christie of
Metro New York; Peace Action Bay Ridge Interfaith Peace Coalition; Peace Action Manhattan; Raging Grannies; Veterans for Peace Chapter 34 (NYC);
War Resisters League

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