Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Do I hate Batman?

Two e-mails (did you get together and plan this?) came in noting my Marvel comics remarks and wondering if I hated Batman?

I wasn't a big fan of the comics growing up.  Sorry.

But I did love the TV show.  I loved Burt Ward and Yvonne Craig and Adam West as Robin, Batgirl and Batman.  I still love the TV show and would buy it on DVD.  (It's not released on DVD and may never be.  There are all these apparent conflicting contractual issues or something.)  I would especially buy the third season which is when Yvonne Craig comes on and also when Eartha Kitt begins playing Catwoman. 

For most of the time growing up, Eartha was my favorite Catwoman.

I do not care for Christopher Nolan's b.s.  He's a reactionary conservative and your first clue there was his attack on the Occupy movement.  But that reactionary b.s. is also in his three Batman films.

The only good thing about Nolan's nonsense was that my local grocery store carried a cheap DVD set of Batman from 1943.  It's a 15-part serial entitled "Batman" and it stars Lewis Wilson in the the title role.   I've really enjoyed this more and more with each repeat viewing. 

The Joel Schumacher films?  I can take "Batman Forever."  Val Kilmer's effective.  But I can't stand "Batman & Robin."  George Clooney is a joke.  Alicia Silverstone has no part in the film but keeps showing up (I like her, I just wish they'd given her a real role).  Uma Thurman's given a Catwoman rip-off storyline. 

But I love Tim Burton's films.  "Batman" and "Batman Returns" are my two favorite Batman movies.

The first one features the one and only Jack Nicholson as the Joker and he is amazing.  Both films star Michael Keaton and he's a great Batman.

"Batman Returns" features a great performance by Michelle Pfeiffer.  In that film, she becomes the best Catwoman ever. 

Better than Eartha, better than Julie Nemar, best ever.

Halle Barry tried hard but they weakened the character and that script was bad.  (I can watch and enjoy the Halle film but I don't think it is what it should have been.)

I love Anne Hathaway but she was awful as Catwoman in Nolan's third Batman film.

Did she even know what character she was playing?

Did she even know they were filming?

She never seems to even be trying to be in character. 

Michelle Pfeiffer remains the one and only Catwoman and Tim Burton is a genius.

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

Tuesday, July 30, 2013.  Chaos and violence continue, the violence increases stress levels in Iraq, Nouri al-Maliki's called out for his contribution to the worsening security, Bradley Manning's court-martial verdict is pronounced, US Senator Patty Murray addresses assault and rape in the military, and more.

Starting in the United States where a verdict has been declared in the court-martial of an Iraq War veteran.  Military judge Colonel Denise Lind has declared Barack guilty of all but two of the 21 charges but, Tom Vanden Brook (USA Today) notes, the charge of aiding the enemy wasn't one of the 19 charges Lind found him guilty of.  Michael Sherer (Time magazine) points out, "A military judge, Col. Denise Lind, rebuked the prosecutors claims Tuesday by ruling that Manning was not guilty of the government’s most serious charge against him, aiding the enemy, in a decision that amounts to a victory for Manning and his supporters by sparing him an immediate life sentence without the possibility of parole." Jes Burns (Free Speech Radio News) adds that Brad still  "faces lengthy jail time.Dorian Merina (also Free Speech Radio News) observed that Brad "could now face more than 100 years in prison."

Aiding the enemy?  Who was the enemy?  Apparently WikiLeaks.     Monday April 5, 2010, WikiLeaks released  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 7, 2010, 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 2010 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." In March, 2011, 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. The Article 32 hearing took place in December. At the start of this year, there was an Article 32 hearing and, February 3rd, it was announced that the government would be moving forward with a court-martial. Bradley has yet to enter a plea. The court-martial was supposed to begin before the November 2012 election but it was postponed until after the election so that Barack wouldn't have to run on a record of his actual actions.  Independent.ie adds, "A court martial is set to be held in June at Ford Meade in Maryland, with supporters treating him as a hero, but opponents describing him as a traitor."  February 28th, Bradley admitted he leaked to WikiLeaks.  And why.

Bradley Manning:   In attempting to conduct counter-terrorism or CT and counter-insurgency COIN operations we became obsessed with capturing and killing human targets on lists and not being suspicious of and avoiding cooperation with our Host Nation partners, and ignoring the second and third order effects of accomplishing short-term goals and missions. I believe that if the general public, especially the American public, had access to the information contained within the CIDNE-I and CIDNE-A tables this could spark a domestic debate on the role of the military and our foreign policy in general as [missed word] as it related to Iraq and Afghanistan.
I also believed the detailed analysis of the data over a long period of time by different sectors of society might cause society to reevaluate the need or even the desire to even to engage in counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations that ignore the complex dynamics of the people living in the effected environment everyday.

For truth telling, Brad's being punished by the man who fears truth: Barack Obama.  A fraud, a fake, a 'brand,' anything but genuine, Barack is all marketing, all facade and, for that reason, must attack each and every whistle-blower.  David Delmar (Digital Journal) points out, "President Obama, while ostensibly a liberal advocate of transparency and openness in government, and of the 'courage' and 'patriotism' of whistleblowers who engage in conscientious leaks of classified information, is in reality something very different: a vindictive opponent of the free press willing to target journalists for doing their job and exposing government secrets to the public."

Bradley Manning had a laughable defense provided by David Coombs.  Early on, in pre-court-martial appearances, he argued that Bradley was transgendered and then largely ignored that defense until the prosecution used a photo of Bradley taken shortly after he leaked to WikiLeaks -- in the photo, Brad was smiling and in drag.  The prosecution argued that the photo meant that Brad was not troubled by leaking and glad to have leaked while Coombs countered that the photo just suggested Brad was -- in drag -- at last comfortable with who he was.  Other than that, the transgender issue was largely ignored and you had to wonder why Coombs raised it and ticked off a number of Brad's defenders who were uncomfortable with the transgendered?  The assertion was also disputed by some in the LGBT community.  Lou Chibbaro Jr. (Washington Blade) notes:


Transgender advocates have also expressed skepticism of a claim by one of Manning’s defense attorneys that his action was due, in part, to his personal struggle over his gender identity. The attorney and others who know Manning noted that he referred to himself for a short period of time with a female name and downloaded information over the internet about gender identity disorder.
“I don’t see that his identity has anything to do with what he did,” said Maryland transgender advocate Dana Beyer. “His sexual identity, however you want to define it, is completely irrelevant.”

There was never method to Coombs madness and Brad's guilt was determined when the decision was made to forgo a military jury and allow a judge to determine guilt or innocence.

As we've long noted, when you go with a judge (especially in a military court), you're not making a hearts and flowers appeal.  A military judge will blow off such a defense (and a female military judge might find it offensive and assume that the defense is making that argument due to some stereotypical notion they have of women).  With a judge determining guilt or innocence, you lead them into the maze that is the legal system -- where this law conflicts with that law.  You present them with a mess and an attitude of: "Please, Judge, in all your training and wisdom, figure this out."  This appeals to the judge's vanity.  In closing arguments, Coombs appeared to grasp that notion.

Coombs failed Brad with witnesses as well.  Every witness in the chain of command that was called to testify should have been asked -- by Coombs -- what their punishment was.  If this was truly the biggest and most shocking crime that the prosecution repeatedly argued it was, then why is Brad the only one punished?  In the military, there is responsibility up the chain of command.  That means Brad's superiors share guilt if Brad is guilty.  By pointing out (repeatedly) who was not punished, Coombs would have underscored that this was not a case of the military seeking justice but of the US government lashing out at Brad.

The verdict was announced at 1:00 pm EST and Amy Goodman's Democracy Now! did a special broadcast on this (this is in addition to Democracy Now!'s regular broadcast this morning).  The Nation's Greg Mitchell told Amy during the broadcast that the decision that Brad was not aiding the enemy  was very important.

Greg Mitchell:  Well it's extremely significant, both for Manning and for journalists and whistle-blowers and people who really care about this everywhere.  But, of course, it probably gets him off the hook for the most serious sentencing -- which the process does begin tomorrow -- which was life in prison.  The other charges and the 19 charges -- whatever the final total is -- of course, will mean he will spend many years in prison, no doubt.  But the aiding the enemy was the most serious for him.  And, in terms of others, it -- if he'd been convicted of that -- it certainly threatened journalists everywhere and, of course, whistle-blowers.  Amy, as many of your listeners know, this kind of charge was unusual in this case and it would put in danger people who disseminate, publish, leak or make public important information for the public that could be or ended up in the hands or was cited by some unknown enemy abroad which would mean that, you know, any kind of information that you could charge that someone, somewhere -- one of our alleged enemies -- made us of, you could then be brought up on this charge to face, you know, to face life in prison or whatever.

Amy Goodman:  Now Greg, we're reading the Tweets as we talk to you.  This is a live broadcast on the day of the verdict.  The most serious charge -- aiding the enemy -- Bradley Manning has been aquitted of.  Alexa o'Brien now writes:

  1. Spec 9, Charge II GTMO File 793(e) Espionage GUILTY (10 Years MAX)

Amy Goodman (Con't): Kevin Gosztola writes:

  1. Manning was found GUILTY of wantonly causing to be published intelligence on the Internet

Amy Goodman (Con't):  Explain.

Greg Mitchell:  Well these are the long list of charges -- many of which, or some of which -- he had pleaded guilty to quite some time ago.  The judge today had to affirm them so they're included as if he hadn't really pleaded to them but they're part of the charges he is now found guilty of and, you know, the array of charges against him, you know, was espionage, was use of a computer to leak information, leaking the videos.  I haven't quite -- I haven't seen the verdict on the Granai video -- this is not the Collateral Murder video which I believe he did admit to but the other video which was a mass slaying abroad.

Mitchell is referring to the May 4, 2009 US airstrike on Granai in Afghanistan in which close to 150 innocent civilians were killed.  Brad stated he had leaked that video to WikiLeaks as well.  (WikiLeaks has since lost the video.)

Mitchell (and others) are right that Lind not finding Brad guilty of aiding the enemy is important but there's also a self-serving manner in the coverage. I'm not referring to Mitchell or anyone highlighted above or below.  I am referring to cable TV coverage which left at least two people convinced Brad was acquitted of the charges against him.  We were discussing the verdict with a group of students -- fairly well informed ones taking summer semester classes -- and two who had caught cable TV coverage were convinced Brad had been acquitted of all charges.

The press is thrilled that aiding the enemy was tossed.  But that really isn't about Brad -- their excitement. It's about what it would have possibly meant for them if Brad had been found guilty of it.  Brad did a great thing when he exposed what was taking place and had taken place.  And while he had entered a plea on many of the other charges, that doesn't change the fact that Brad was found guilty and that this wasn't a good thing.  He first raised the issue of War Crimes with a superior who blew him off.  He then leaked evidence of War Crimes.  He should be applauded for that.  The US government is supposedly against War Crimes so Brad's actions should be seen as a good thing and his conviction on any charges -- let alone ones that potentially add up to a lengthy prison sentence -- is nothing to be thrilled about.  Alexa O'Brien has posted the document listing the charges Brad was convicted of.   An exception in the MSM coverage may have been Jim Miklaszewski's report for NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams who observed legal experts predict Manning's convictions will have a chilling effect on future leakers." Newsday's editorial notes:

President Barack Obama has gone overboard in his crackdown on leakers. The administration has brought seven cases under the Espionage Act against CIA and FBI employees and contractors accused of leaking national security information -- more than all previous administrations combined.
And Obama's Justice Department has clumsily entangled journalists in its net. Federal prosecutors, investigating a leak that intelligence officials had warned Obama about North Korea's plan to conduct a nuclear test, labeled James Rosen of Fox News a "co-conspirator" after he reported the story in 2009. And prosecutors are still demanding that New York Times reporter James Risen testify at the espionage trial of a former CIA official accused of leaking information in 2003 about the U.S. effort to disrupt Iran's nuclear weapons program.

On The NewsHour (PBS -- link is audio, text and video) this evening,  Jeffrey Brown moderated a debate on the convictions -- the Center for Constitutional Rights' Michael Ratner debated form CIA official Jeffrey Smith.  Excerpt.

MICHAEL RATNER, Center for Constitutional Rights: I think it's probably one of the greatest injustices of our decade.
Here you have man who who's revealed very important information about war crimes, whose information actually sparked the Arab spring, and you have him being convicted of 20 charges that can carry 134 years. And you have to people who were engaged in the criminality he revealed not being investigated at all.
Bradley Manning is a whistle-blower. He shouldn't be prosecuted. The people who committed the crimes ought to be prosecuted.

Other NewsHour coverage includes:

Mike McKee is with the Bradley Manning Support Network and he told Free Speech Radio News that he and others gathered at Fort Meade to show their support, "We had about between 50 or 60 people here today as well as a rather revved up media presence as well, both representatives of American media and foreign as well. We’ve held a vigil on the first day of each week of court proceedings, attendance fluctuates, this was certainly one of the larger ones although the numbers weren’t totally uncommon. You saw a good variety of home-made signs as well as banners that people have made for various events and demonstrations that have been had for Bradley over the past year."

In England, Julian Assange held a press conference at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.  Assange is the founder of WikiLeaks.  AFP reports that he stated, "Bradley Manning's alleged disclosures have exposed war crimes, sparked revolutions and induced democratic reforms.  He is the most important journalistic source the world has ever seen."  Assange also noted the prosecution and verdict demonstrated the "national security extremism" of Barack's administration.  Ed Pilkington (Guardian) adds:

In a statement, Manning's family said they were disappointed by so many guilty findings – he was deemed to be guilty of 17 of the 22 counts against him in their entirety and three others in an amended form. But the statement, written by a US-based relative, said the family was "happy that Judge Lind agreed with us that Brad never intended to help America's enemies in any way."

The editorial board of the San Jose Mercury Times offers their take on the verdict which praises Lind for the guilty rulings she made as well as the one she didn't:  "But she found him not guilty of aiding U.S. enemies -- the Obama administration's nuclear option to stop persistent government leaks. Manning will serve jail time, but a conviction on aiding enemies would have meant life in prison with no possibility of parole. That would have been unjust."   Douglas Rushkoff (CNN) offers his take on the verdict:

The verdict comes on the 235th anniversary of the passage of America's first whistle-blower protection law, approved by the Continental Congress after two Navy officers were arrested and harassed for having reported the torture of British prisoners.
How have we gotten to the place where the revelation of torture is no longer laudable whistle-blowing, but now counts as espionage?
The answer is that government has not yet come to terms with the persistence and transparency of the digital age. Information moves so fast and to so many places that controlling it is no longer an option. Every datapoint, whether a perverted tweet by an aspiring mayor or a classified video of Reuters news staffers being gunned down by an Apache helicopter, will somehow find the light of day. It's enough to make any administration tremble, but it's particularly traumatic for one with things to hide.

The Center for Constitutional Rights issued the following statements on Lind's rulings:

July 30, 2013, New York – Today, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) released the following statement in response to the verdict in the trial of Bradley Manning:

While the "aiding the enemy" charges (on which Manning was rightly acquitted) received the most attention from the mainstream media, the Espionage Act itself is a discredited relic of the WWI era, created as a tool to suppress political dissent and antiwar activism, and it is outrageous that the government chose to invoke it in the first place against Manning. Government employees who blow the whistle on war crimes, other abuses and government incompetence should be protected under the First Amendment.
We now live in a country where someone who exposes war crimes can be sentenced to life even if not found guilty of aiding the enemy, while those responsible for the war crimes remain free. If the government equates being a whistleblower with espionage or aiding the enemy, what is the future of journalism in this country?  What is the future of the First Amendment?
Manning’s treatment, prosecution, and sentencing have one purpose: to silence potential whistleblowers and the media as well. One of the main targets has been our clients, WikiLeaks and Julian Assange, for publishing the leaks. Given the U.S. government’s treatment of Manning, Assange should be granted asylum in his home country of Australia and given the protections all journalists and publishers deserve.
We stand in solidarity with Bradley Manning and call for the government to take heed and end its assault on the First Amendment.

The Center for Constitutional Rights represents WikiLeaks and Julian Assange in the U.S. and filed a case challenging the lack of transparency around the Manning trial on behalf of itself and a diverse group of media figures: Glenn Greenwald, Amy Goodman of Democracy Now!, The Nation and its national security correspondent Jeremy Scahill, and Wikileaks and its publisher, Julian Assange. Also included are Kevin Gosztola, co-author of Truth and Consequences: The U.S. vs. Bradley Manning and a civil liberties blogger covering the Manning court martial, and Chase Madar, author of The Passion of Bradley Manning and a contributing editor to The American Conservative. Jonathan Hafetz of Seton Hall Law School is co-counsel with CCR in that case, along with Bill Murphy and John J. Connolly of Zuckerman Spaeder LLP’s Baltimore office.

To read the judge's verdict, click here. The court has not provided transcripts at any point in the trial: what transcripts there are have been privately organized by the Freedom of the Press Foundation and others with crowd-sourced funding.

The Center for Constitutional Rights and Douglas Rushkoff are among the few noting the fact that the verdict is wrong.  Again, others are more interested -- self-interest, self-preservation -- in breathing sighs of relief over Lind not finding Brad guilty of aiding the enemy -- and sighing in relief because it means that their own lives are unaffected . . . for now.

The authorities of United States have a long history of spying on those who actively participate in the nation's democracy through free speech and other civic and community activities.  Over the years, citizens and the judiciary have tried to rein in state surveillance by asserting First Amendment protections of free speech and Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures.  From the Palmer Raids through COINTELPRO, periods of perceived national emergency have typically eroded these protections.  Today, a sprawling industry has mushroomed, financed by taxpayer money, ostensibly to protect the nation from terrorism and other threats.  As this industry consolidates and grows, sophisticated surveillance technologies pose new threats to privacy and the right of association.

That's Heidi Boghosian (National Lawyers Guild Executive Director and co-host of Law and Disorder Radio) from her new book Spying on Democracy: Government Surveillance, Corporate Power and Public Resistance -- officially released next Tuesday.  And she's right and this applies to the sighs going off today.  It's a momentary -- only a momentary -- reprieve unless the press finds the guts to stick up for themselves which means actual reporting.  They can start by covering the item Amy Goodman noted this morning:

New Zealand’s government is rebuffing a report that U.S. intelligence agencies helped its military monitor the communications of a freelance journalist reporting for McClatchy in Afghanistan. A report in New Zealand’s Sunday Star-Times says "U.S. spy agencies" assisted the New Zealand military in collecting metadata on the phone calls of Jon Stephenson and his "associates" while he was reporting on the U.S.-led occupation of Afghanistan last year. New Zealand’s defense minister said a review of the claims is underway. If confirmed, the report could show spying techniques used by the National Security Agency and recently revealed by former contractor Edward Snowden have been used against journalists.

The AP reported on this yesterday -- to note that the US government denies the allegations.  That's a press release (from the government), that's not reporting.  As for Brad, what happens now?  Amy Goodman explained, "After the verdict, the trial enters the sentencing phase where both the prosecution and defense will present more evidence and arguments."

Brad was trying to save the Iraqi people and others harmed by War Crimes.  As Peter Walker (Guardian) notes today:

• The first revelation came in 2010, from a video showing a US helicopter crew laughing as they launched an air strike killing a dozen people in Baghdad in July 2007, including a photographer and driver working for the Reuters news agency. The footage was recorded on one of two Apache helicopters which were hunting for suspected insurgents. They encounter a group of men on the ground, who do not immediately appear armed, and there is no sign of gunshots. But one helicopter crew opens fire, with shouts of "Hahaha. I hit 'em," and "Oh yeah, look at those dead bastards". As the wounded are helped, one of the helicopters opens fire again, with armour-piercing shells.
• The next tranche of revelations came in July 2010, from documents dating from 2004 to 2009 about the Afghan war. One set raised concerns in the US by suggesting alleged support for the Taliban from Pakistan, particularly that the country's spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), had been collaborating with the Taliban.
• The Afghanistan files also included details of an incident from 2007 in which US marines escaping an attack outside the city of Jalalabad fired their guns indiscriminately, killing 19 unarmed civilians and wounding 50 more. While the aftermath of the attack was plain to military authorities, the files suggested, the incident was referred to in an official report only as this: "The patrol returned to JAF [Jalalabad air field]."
• In October 2010 came a series of revelations about events in Iraq. Chief among these was that US authorities failed to investigate hundreds of reports of abuse, torture, rape and even murder by Iraqi police and soldiers. The reports of abuse, often supported by medical evidence, describe prisoners shackled, blindfolded and hung by wrists or ankles, and subjected to whipping, punching, kicking or electric shocks.
• Another Iraq-related revelation was that the US collated details of more than 100,000 people killed in Iraq following the invasion of the country, including more than 15,000 deaths that were previously unrecorded. The tally goes against previous protestations by the UK and US that there were any official statistics on the death toll connected to the war.

Meanwhile, at the US State Dept press briefing today, AP's Matt Lee attempted to get a response from the Dept about the verdict in Brad's court-martial.

MS. PSAKI: Hi, everyone. I know there’s lots of news happening around here today, but --

QUESTION: Really? Where? (Laughter.)

MS. PSAKI: Well, Matt, we were just up on the eighth floor. I didn’t see you there, but --

QUESTION: Oh, I thought you were talking about Fort Meade.

MS. PSAKI: -- it was an exciting statement by the Secretary, but let’s start with what’s on your 

QUESTION: It was an exciting statement. I’d love to start with the Middle East --

MS. PSAKI: Great.

QUESTION: -- but since I know that you’re not going to be able to answer any of my questions, I’ll start with another topic that you won’t be able to answer my question on, which is: What is the State Department’s reaction to the verdict of the Manning trial?

MS. PSAKI: Well, Matt, we have seen the verdict, which I know just came out right before I stepped out here. I would – beyond that, I would refer you to the Department of Defense --

QUESTION: Look, for the --

MS. PSAKI: -- with no further comment from here.

QUESTION: For the entire trial, this building had said that it wouldn’t comment because it was pending – it was a pending case. Now that it’s over, you say – you’re still not going to comment?

MS. PSAKI: That’s correct. I would refer you to the Department of Defense.

QUESTION: Can I – okay. Can I just ask why?

MS. PSAKI: Because the Department of Defense has been the point agency through this process.

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

QUESTION: These were State Department cables, exactly. They were your property.

QUESTION: State Department employees were (inaudible).

MS. PSAKI: We don’t – we just don’t have any further comment. I know the verdict just came out. I don’t have anything more for you.

QUESTION: Well, does that mean – are you working on a comment?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t --

QUESTION: Are you gratified that this theft of your material was --

MS. PSAKI: I don’t expect so, Matt, but if we have anything more to say, I promise everybody in this room and then some will have it.

QUESTION: Okay. I’m a little bit surprised that you don’t have any comment, considering the amount of energy and time this building expended on assisting the prosecution, but also when they were – when the cables were first put out, your former predecessor, Mr. Crowley, spent a huge amount of time on it and I – it would be --

MS. PSAKI: I’m aware of that --


MS. PSAKI: -- and if there’s more to say at any point today, I’m sure we’ll make that available to all of you.
Did you want to move on to another topic?

QUESTION: I’ll let other people go on to their topic, because I’m sure I will be as unsatisfied with your responses to other questions as I was to --

MS. PSAKI: We’ll see, Matt. You never know.

Where he had grave concerns for the people, the White House has none -- which is why violence continues in Iraq.  National Iraqi News Agency reports 3 civilians shot dead in Kut, a Kirkuk roadside bombing claimed the life of 1 police officer and left another injured, a Kirkuk sticky bombing claimed the life of 1 civilian and left two more injured, and a Tikrit car bombing left seven security forces injured.  Alsumaria adds that a police officer was shot dead outside his Mosul home, an attack on a Mosul checkpoint left 2 police officers dead,  and a Tikrit suicide bomber attacked the Salahuddin Province Council leaving five people injured.   All Iraq News notes a Baghdad perfume shop bombing which claimed 2 lives and left seven people injured.  Mu Xuequan (Xinhua) notes a Baquba shop bombing which claimed 5 lives and left sixteen injured, a Tuz-Khurmato bombing ("at Siyd Mahdi Shiite mosque") which left 3 dead and twelve more injured and -- in separate incidents -- 2 shop owners were shot dead in Falluja.

Through yesterday, Iraq Body Count counts 891 violent deaths for the month thus far. Yesterday, a wave of bombings struck Iraq. Bob Schieffer noted on Monday's CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley (link is video), "And this was another deadly day in Iraq.  At least 58 people died as car bombs ripped through markets, parking lots and a cafe.  In all, 18 bombs went off today.  There has been a surge of violence throughout Iraq by some accounts close to 700 people have died just this month alone."  Over at ABC 'News,' George Stephanopoulos filled in for Diane Sawyer on World News in order to waste everyone's time with a segment (the same non-news and non-issue that Bob Somerby called out Erin Burnett for wasting time on).  He had no time for Iraq but he was full of "practical tips to save time" which just goes to the fact that George isn't a trained journalist but a hack for politicians.  In the future, put Bob Woodward behind the anchor desk and leave George to fluff.
AFP notes that the rising violence is impacting stress levels in Iraq:
"Some Iraqis, he says, are “just permanently stressed” and will jump at the honk of a car horn or get into arguments at the drop of a hat.  
"It’s really hard. I’m always on edge, always tired,” says Qaisar, a 26-year-old traffic policeman, standing in the midday heat on a busy Baghdad thoroughfare"
 In other news of violence,  NINA notes al Qaeda in Iraq has claimed responsibility for yesterday's bombings.  "For Iraqis it's a grim reminder of a past they had hoped was over.  Once again, multiple bomb attacks are sewing havoc," BBC's Bridget Kendall observes (link is video).

Bridget Kendall: So what's fueling the violence? Well, one problem is worsening Sunni - Shia tensions in Iraq exacerbated by the Shia-led government of Nouri al-Maliki who Sunni politicians say is behaving like a dictator.  That resentment has helped al Qaeda in Iraq recruit Sunni militants.  And the conflict in Syria next door has played its part too.  al Qaeda extremists operate in both countries.

All Iraq News notes that a member of the Security and Defense Committee in Parliament is strongly calling out Nouri for his failure to visit any of the wounded from yesterday's attacks while the Sadr bloc MP Jawed al-Shiheli has criticized Nouri for failing to visit the injured and for failing to visit the sites of the bombings.  Meanwhile Sadr bloc MP Jawed al-Hasnawi declared that Nouri has "full responsibility for this situation. There should be an inclusive change to the security leaders."

Last week's prison break appears to still be drawing attention to Iraq (or maybe the media's finally realized it was a mistake to drop Iraq from the news radar).  In terms of al Qaeda in Iraq, Robin Simcox (Huffington Post UK) offers:

Much of the media narrative suggests that the group was irrevocably destroyed by the Anbar Awakening and American surge of late 2006/early 2007. While it is true that these events hugely damaged ISIL, it is not as if the group packed up its operations and accepted defeat. AQ is nothing if not resilient, and the departure of all American troops in 2011 provided it with the perfect fillip to bounce back with a vengeance.
Even prior to the 2011 withdrawal, ISIL was able to carry out co-ordinated attacks every four to six weeks, killing on a mass scale. They have picked up their pace further now, with approximately 2500 dying in Iraq as the result of terrorism in the last two months.

Among the analysis currently being offered by the Brookings Institute.  Kenneth M. Pollack offers (PDF format warning) "The Fall and Rise and Fall of Iraq."   Excerpt.

The problems reemerged after Iraq’s 2010 national elections. Ayad Allawi’s mostly - Sunni Iraqiyya garnered slightly more votes than Maliki’s overwhelmingly Shi’a State of Law coalition. But Maliki refused to believe that he had lost, and refused to allow Allawi to take the first shot at forming a government. He pressured Iraq’s high court to rule that he could get the first chance to form a government.
Rather than insist that Allawi be given the first chance, as is customary in most democracies and was clearly what was best for Iraqi democracy, the United States (and the United Nations) did nothing. Ten months of bickering, backstabbing and political deadlock followed. In the end, the Iranians forced Muqtada as - Sadr to back Maliki, uniting the Shi’a behind him. At that point, the Kurds fell into place, believing that the prime minister had to be a Shi’a, and Iraqiyya’s goose was cooked. But so too was Iraqi democracy.
The message that it sent to Iraq’s people and politicians alike was that the United States under the new Obama Administration was no longer going to enforce the rules of the democratic road. We were not going to insist that the will of the people win out. We were willing to step aside and allow Iraq’s bad, old political culture of pay - offs, log - rolling, threats and violence to re - emerge to determine who would rule the country -- the same political culture that the U.S. had worked so hard to bury.
It undermined the reform of Iraqi politics and resurrected the specter of the failed state and the civil war. Having backed Maliki for prime minister if only to end the embarrassing political stalemate, the Administration compounded its mistake by lashing itself uncritically to his government. Whether out of fear of being criticized for allowing him to remain in office in the first place, or sheer lack of interest and a desire to do what required the least effort on the part of the United States, the Administration backed Maliki no matter what he did -- good, bad or indifferent.

We'll cover the report more this week.  Today, Bradley is the story and we focused on him.

This year, Senator Patty Murray became Chair of the Senate Budget Committee.  Prior to that, she was Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.  She remains on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee (now Chaired by Senator Bernie Sanders) and she remains committed to addressing issues effecting service members and veterans.  Her office issued the following today:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                            CONTACT: Murray Press Office
Tuesday, July 30, 2013                                                                                          (202) 224-2834
MILITARY SEXUAL ASSAULT: Murray Meets With Top Air Force Official

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) met with Air Force Major General Margaret H. Woodward to discuss the epidemic of sexual assault in our nation’s armed forces. In June, Maj. Gen. Woodward was named the Director of the Air Force Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) Office. In May, Senators Murray and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) introduced the bipartisan Combating Military Sexual Assault Act to provide trained military lawyers, also known as Special Victims Counsels (SVCs), to victims of sexual assault in all service branches. This legislation has been included in the pending National Defense Authorization Act, which is expected to be considered by the full Senate in the coming months. The SVC program is based on a successful pilot program currently implemented in the Air Force.
“Our legislation to provide victims with a dedicated legal counsel absolutely gets to the heart of effectively addressing the tragic epidemic of sexual assault in our military,” said Senator Murray. “When our best and our brightest put on a uniform and join the United States Armed Forces, they do so with the understanding that they will sacrifice much in the name of defending our country and its people. However, it’s unconscionable to think that entertaining unwanted sexual contact from within the ranks is now part of that equation. Special Victims’ Counsels are a major step forward in reversing this awful trend and establish the necessary means for victims to take action against their attackers. It’s inexcusable for us to wait any longer to address this issue and I’m glad we have a willing partner in Major General Woodward to start taking meaningful action to do right by our nation’s heroes.”
In a statement endorsing the Murray-Ayotte SVC legislation, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey said, “The Air Force Special Victims’ Counsel (SVC) pilot program, while very new, has shown positive results and provides a robust support program for victims of sexual assault.  Hundreds of victims have availed themselves of SVC services in the Air Force in just the past several months since it was implemented.  Many of those victims who initially filed restricted reports of sexual assault decided to change their report to unrestricted, allowing full investigation of the offenses committed by their assailant.  As the early reports have been so promising, I expressed in my May 20, 2013, letters to Senators Levin and Inhofe that the proposed SVC legislation had merit. I support providing victims of sexual assault this important resource.”
Meghan Roh
Press Secretary | New Media Director
Office of U.S. Senator Patty Murray
Mobile: (202) 365-1235
Office: (202) 224-2834

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