Tuesday, August 13, 2013

WBAI's troubles (C.I.)

C.I. here filling in for Stan.  Yesterday, at The Common Ills,Kat's "Kat's Korner: Sam Phillips finally comes across" and Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "The Rebranding" went up.


I love Kat and Isaiah's contribution which add so much to The Common Ills.

Today on Free Speech Radio News, this was noted:

And effective today, nearly two-thirds of staff at WBAI-FM, one of the five Pacifica Radio network stations, are laid-off, including the entire news team. According to Pacifica's Interim Director Summer Reese, who announced the lay-offs, the move comes as the station is no longer able to meet payroll and transmitter payments.
In signing off the airwaves Friday, WBAI News Editor Andrea Sears addressed the audience.
“I am in many ways incredulous that the entire news department has been taken off the air. News and information from a perspective that is outside the mainstream, a critical perspective that puts the needs of people first and holds on to the ideals that are at best paid lip service by those with money and power, journalism that speaks truth to power, that to me is the heart and soul of WBAI. And where better to practice that craft than here in New York City, the media capital of the world.”
WBAI will continue to broadcast terrestrial and online radio, but will distribute low or no-cost content.

What's going on?  (And Stan asked me to write about this, FYI.)

The easiest explanation is that WBAI has not pulled its own weight, it has wasted money, it has pulled from the Pacifica coffers.  Doug Henwood hosts Behind The News which started at WBAI and now airs on KPFA.  For The New York Observer, he wrote:

But when Marksman died suddenly in 1999, there was no one of any stature to succeed him. There began a decade of civil war within WBAI, with faction fighting faction. Charges of “racism” were lobbed constantly. A succession of managerial mediocrities drove the station into the ground. Excruciating stupidity was embraced in the name of populist programming. For several years in the mid-2000s, the station was run by a cabal of black nationalists of an antique and alienating sort. They were forced out by Pacifica central, only to be replaced by an even less distinguished (though not black nationalist) set of sub-mediocrities.
The period that Henwood's saying the Black nationalists were in charge was when WBAI especially was in trouble.  And it drained Pacifica and the whole health of the network was in question.

I'm not really vested in the garbage that was WBAI.

It has been a worthless radio station.  I don't slam the shows about "conspiracy theories" the way Henwood does.  I think they gave WBAI some diversity in thought.

But the garbage, I call that crap out and have for some time.  We wrote about a lot of this in real time.

For example, Saturdays and Sundays on WBAI was crap with one dee jay oldies music show after another.

After Grandpa Munster passed away his Saturday time slot should have gone to needed news programming.  Instead Al Lewis was kept on the air (via old programs) for a year after he died.

Now this garbage on the weekend?

WBAI gets credit for airing Winter Soldier put on by Iraq Veterans Against the War.

But it didn't air them.

It aired Friday's proceedings.  They skipped Saturday and Sundays proceedings to air their crappy programs where they spin old records.  Actual news was taking place -- and KPFA was airing it -- but WBAI wasn't.

Doug Henwood apparently is uncomfortable calling that out.  I have no problem.  I called them out on the Saturday it happened.


WBAI's news has been a damn joke forever.

They are in the media capitol of the world and yet their news played like the worst local news in the worst and smallest market in the country.

The news only aired Monday through Friday and for a half hour.

So if any news broke on the weekend, WBAI couldn't cover it.

While KPFA has hourly news breaks during the day -- at the top of the hour (except during Democracy Now!) -- WBAI considers 'news' to be telling people the time and temperature.

They are an embarrassment.  So is the DC station.

And if you can't carry your weight and you're risking destroying the 'network' (five stations) you need to go.

I'm sorry, KPFA (Bay Area) and KPFK pull their weight.

They've even teamed for an hour long week day newscast.  (KPFA has an evening newscast on Saturdays and Sundays as well. And public affairs programming both days. Live, not recorded.)

WBAI has been trying.

I will give them that.  And they could rebuild.

But if it's just to rebuild as it was, that's not good enough.  They do not raise enough money (Pacifica depends on pledges).  That's not surprising because, as Henwood notes, so much of their programming was wretched.

The morning program is a nightmare and has been since Deepa was forced out.  It's unfocused.

Pacifica has troubles beyond all the millions WBAI has borrowed that it cannot now or ever pay back.  That's the fact that people aren't donating to the network as much anymore.

That's a problem.

And it's their problem, the network's.

KPFK and KPFA schooled listeners -- and those stations actually had listeners -- about what was reporting and what was fawning.

As donations continue to drop for the two strongest stations in the network, it's time for Pacifica to stop allowing the pro-Barack propaganda.

ObamaCare is not single-payer.  It's 'universal' by way of being mandatory -- what Mitt did in Boston.  And when he did it, the KPFA and KPFK news teams called it out.

It's past time to stop spit shining Barack and return to left values.  That does mean calling out the president. When that happens, KPFA and KPFK will be seen as independent and more listeners will be donating.

That's a problem that can be fixed.

WBAI needs to come up with a plan for how the new WBAI is different from the old.

That means a commitment to news and that means news breaks on the hour.  No more of your 'musings' and time and temperature.

And no more of this "You own a slot" nonsense.

The hosts are entrenched and that needs to stop.  Not everyone is Janet Coleman (actually talented) and a lot of people did not belong on the air. They did not how to do radio and it showed.

When your 'young person' on air is 40-or-so, that's another problem.

Saturday and Sunday need public affairs programming.

Nothing wrong with arts programming but let's stop pretending that people spinning records is art.  It's not.  It's cheap and it's tacky radio and it's why the only thing worse than WBAI's rating during the week were it's ratings on the weekend.  (In the last three or so years, actual programs were being created.  WBAI should have been promoting those programs on air during the week because the Bing Crosby and the Carmen Miranda and all the other spin-a-record programs had run the weekend audience off.)

This can be an exciting time for WBAI, a period of rebirth.

If not, if it's just trying to come back as the same-old nonsense, sell the channel on the dial and pay back what you borrowed from Pacifica because you were a failure and coming back the same way won't make you less of a failure.

Here's today's "Iraq snapsot:"

Monday, August 12, 2013.  Chaos and violence continue, Michael Wolff goes lurid in public, counter-insurgency yet again comes up in the military proceedings against Bradley Manning, over 300 have died violent deaths in Iraq so far this year, Heidi Boghosian discusses her new book on the US government's spying, and more.

Starting with Bradley Manning who's facing possible life in prison and wondering what do you say to Michael Wolff's nonsense for USA TodayLast night, Wolff wrote a column declaring Brad "a woman caught inside a man's body" and whining:

The media, too, seems flustered, faced with a story clearly beyond its psychological range.
Manning's hardly hidden gender evolution is a riveting fact and a dramatic character conflict; yet, at a moment in media time when it often seems that no personal detail is too personal, it remains an elephant in the room.

 Richard Cohen (Washington Post) has been under attack fo addressing, in light of media coverage of a politician's marriage and the chest thumping why-does-she-stay question, the fact that he had always assumed he would walk if cheated on but things worked out differently.  Richard's been trashed for that column because (a) as a society, we tend to trash those who don't walk out (the anger over wives standing by their politician husband confessing to having an affair or being gay or whatever goes to that) and (b) as a society, we're appalled anyone would admit to being cheated on without being forced to (especially a man who has stayed in the marriage).

But Richard wrote about his own experience.  You can disagree or not with his intent to stay in his marriage but to pretend the column makes no sense (in terms of why he wrote it) is beyond stupid.  Columnists use their personal lives all the time to attempt to navigate and explore current media obsessions.

Had Michael Wolff's column been his confessing to his own gender confusion, it might have made some sense.  But that's not what the column's about.

Unlike Richard Cohen, Michael Wolff's the one who should be trashed.  How does a column so stupid get waived into print?

And reading it, I'm questioning more than Wolfe's pruriency.  There's a tone in the column tied to Wolff's beliefs about Brad -- a tone that really comes through when he Tweets about the article:

Strange?  Unnatural, you mean?

If Brad or anyone feels they were born into the wrong gender and are actually the other gender, that's not "strange" or anything to mock and if you're too immature to deal with it then that reflects only on you.

Wolff's entire pose is stupid and insulting.  It's a mystery to self-presenting media expert and critic that the press isn't running with the story?

What story?

Doug is confused about gender or was confused about gender or knows he is a woman born in the wrong body -- those are three different stories.  In addition, another story might be Doug's enjoys role playing a woman.  There are many scenarios here.

The press would cover it when?

While Doug is alive, they'd really need to speak to Doug or else be at risk of a lawsuit.  If, for example, Doug had been confused about gender and -- either on his own or in therapy -- worked through his issues and the press said he was a woman trapped inside a man's body, he'd have the grounds for a winning lawsuit because not only had the press mischaracterized him (while never speaking to him about this issue) but a judge would rightly feel that the press had also trampled onto an area that should have been off limits to press speculation unless Doug had raised the issue (which he hadn't).

Brad has not spoken to the court or the press about this issue.  Taking the word of his parents - of any parents -- on such an issue would still be an iffy reason to lead with this as a story but in Brad's case, his mother has made one statement to the press (supporting her son) which didn't touch on any of Wolff's 'concerns' and his father hasn't commented.

Where is the basis to run with this in coverage?  There is none.  In the pre-court-martial proceedings, Brad's attorney David E. Coombs made a brief, fumbled remark.  In closing arguments, Coombs raised it again.  The remarks provided no clarity as to where Brad was then or if he continues to remain there now.

Brad was 22-years-old when the US government tossed him behind bars.  He had already had a difficult life.  A father who (at least then) did not want a son to be gay was only one issue he was dealing with.  In addition to not having Brad address this subject to the court or to the press, what Wolfe wants emphasized lacks clarity in terms of were whatever thoughts that took place fleeting, were they firm convictions, were they a response to stress or to issues around being gay (when at least one parent has a very negative view of same-sex attraction)?

It's amazing what Wolff will talk about when you consider all that he and the press are avoiding.  Let's deal with the facts:

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.

July 30th, Brad was pronounced guilty by Colonel Denise Lind of multiple charges and the trial is now in the sentencing phase.

Michael Wolff doesn't want to talk about counter-insurgency.   The press doesn't want to explore that.  Wolff would rather write a lurid column -- treating fairly natural possibilities as 'shocking' -- than to explore the US government's methods of tricking and harming residents of a country they're supposedly liberating.

The basic message of counter-insurgency is: We value the rights and liberties of those of you who will bow to our will but those of you who think you can have a say in your country are going to be targeted.  That's my interpretation of counter-insurgency and it was the left interpretation for decades.  It's only in the '00s that the left bends over backwards to act as if counter-insurgency isn't taking place.  By that time, it's leading proponents include Harvard's Carr Center and Samantha Power and questioning counter-insurgency requires more fortitude than some can apparently manage.  Which is too bad because counter-insurgency is why Brad went public (his revulsion of it) and, guess what, it's also why he was sent to Iraq to begin with.

David Dishneau (AP) reports on today's sentencing phase proceedings:

Manning's brigade commander, Col. David Miller, testified the 2nd Brigade's 10th Mountain Division deployed in late 2009 with 10 to 15 percent fewer intelligence analysts than the authorized number. But Miller denied feeling any pressure to take soldiers who should not have deployed.
"In a counterinsurgency fight, you can always use more," he said.

 But no one wants to talk counter-insurgency.  At least not the press in this country.  Last year, Adam Curtis (BBC News) filed a very thorough report on counter-insurgency:

[. . .]  a group of very senior US military men, led by a General called David Petraeus, were sitting down in a military staff college in Kansas and beginning to write a study that would completely transform the tactics of the US army in Iraq and in Afghanistan.
What General Petraeus and his team did was to go back into the past and exhume a theory of warfare that had been discredited by the US military who thought it was long buried and forgotten. It was called Counterinsurgency.
And out of that would allegedly come the same kind of arms-length, privatised interrogation and torture methods that Idema was indulging in.
I thought I would tell the history of how Counterinsurgency was invented, why it was discredited in America, and how it returned in 2007 to dominate and brutalise the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is a fascinating and weird story that is far odder than anything Jack Idema could have dreamt up - it involves Mao Zedong, John F Kennedy, French fascists, the attempted assassination of Charles De Gaulle, and strange Potemkin-style villages in Vietnam where women get pregnant for no discernible reason.
The theory of Counterinsurgency also had a terrible logic built into it that repeatedly led, from the 1950s onwards, to horror - torture, assassination and mass killing on a far wider scale than anything Jack Idema ever did in his house in Kabul.

Let's move through the report to Vietnam:

There is a strong counter-argument to these criticisms. It simply says - so what? In war killing happens, and a programme of targeted assassination certainly killed far fewer civilians than the horrific indiscriminate bombing by America's conventional forces.
But the documentary goes on to show how the Phoenix programme created something much worse - which it was powerless both to understand or to stop.
The Rational Peasant approach looked at Vietnam as a society of millions of self-seeking rational individuals. In reality, Vietnamese society was far more complicated. Extended families had tangled and intricate histories of relationships - some were friendly but many were driven by rivalries and hatreds.
As the film makes clear this had created a powerful tradition of violent retribution in Vietnamese society - and it goes on to show how some of the militias that the Americans had created used the free rein their masters gave them, to kill and torture not communists, but other, innocent civilians against whom they had long-standing grudges or hatreds.
One CIA officer describes how he found that the local police chief was using their programme's safe house to torture and carve up people who didn't have the right family protection.
An innocent Vietnamese woman who was tortured describes how the Americans just stood and watched.
It shows the terrible limitations of the economic model of society. The Americans were helpless because their militias would assure them that the people they were torturing were communists.
And when you look at everyone as simply a "rational actor" you have no way of knowing whether they were telling you the truth or not.

Many were driven by rivalries and hatreds?  Gee, think that might happen in Iraq?  Think that those the US 'empowered' might use their power to go after people they disliked? Yeah, because it's known to have happened.  Again to Adam Curtis' report:

In his book - The War Within - the reporter Bob Woodward challenges the myth of the surge. He says bluntly:
"The truth is that other factors were as or even more important than the Surge.
Beginning in about May 2006 the US military and intelligence agencies launched a series of TOP SECRET operations that enabled them to locate, target and kill key individuals in extremist groups
The operations, which were part of Special Compartmented Information (SCI) incorporated some of the most highly classified techniques and information in the US government"

And that's just one of the frightening realities of counter-insurgency.  And the US continues counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism operations in Iraq.  As Ted Koppel noted in December 2011, while many 'reporters' were insisting "withdrawal," the drawdown left US Special-Ops troops in Iraq, the CIA and much more.  And there's Tim Arango's September 25th New York Times report, "Iraq and the United States are negotiating an agreement that could result in the return of small units of American soldiers to Iraq on training missions.  At the request of the Iraqi government, according to [US] General [Robert L.] Caslen, a unit of Army Special Operations soldiers was recently deployed to Iraq to advise on counterterrorism and help with intelligence."

And the Memorandum of Understanding -- which the US and Iraq signed December 6, 2012 -- allows for more.  In the December 10th snapshot, we went over the Memo:

The White House got what they wanted: The right to add US troops on the ground in Iraq. Read over section two.
The Participants intend to undertake the following types of defense cooperation activities:
a) reciprocal visits and meetings by high-ranking delegations to military facilities and institutions;
b) exchanges of instructors, training personnel, and students between Participants' military academies and related institutions;
c) counterterrorism cooperation;
d) the development of defense intelligence capabilities;
e) cooperation in the fields of defense-related research and development and technology security;
f) acquisition and procurement of defense articles and services;
g) exchanges of information and experiences acquired in the field of military operations, including in connection with international humanitarian and peacekeeping operations;
h) training and exchange of information regarding the development of military health services, military health facilities, and military medicine training opportunities;
i) training and exchanges of information regarding staff organization and human resources for regulation and management of defense personnel;
j) cooperation for the development of logistics support and sustainment systems;
k) defense planning;
l) joint exercises; and
m) cooperation in the area of social, athletic, and military culture activities.
That's very clear if you understand contracts.
Clearly many didn't understand contracts so we returned to the Memo in the December 11th snapshot:

In yesterday's snapshot, we covered the Memorandum of Understanding For Defense Cooperation Between the Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Iraq and the Department of Defense of the United States of America.  Angry, dysfunctional e-mails from Barack-would-never-do-that-to-me criers indicate that we need to go over the Memo a little bit more.  It was signed on Thursday and announced that day by the Pentagon.   Section two (listed in full in yesterday's snapshot) outlines that the two sides have agreed on: the US providing instructors and training personnel and Iraq providing students, Iraqi forces and American forces will work together on counterterrorism and on joint exercises.   The tasks we just listed go to the US military being in Iraq in larger numbers.  Obviously the two cannot do joint exercises or work together on counterterrorism without US military present in Iraq.
This shouldn't be surprising.  In the November 2, 2007 snapshot -- five years ago -- we covered the transcript of the interview Michael R. Gordon and Jeff Zeleny did with then-Senator Barack Obama who was running in the Democratic Party's primary for the party's presidential nomination -- the transcript, not the bad article the paper published, the actual transcript.  We used the transcript to write "NYT: 'Barack Obama Will Keep Troops In Iraq'" at Third.  Barack made it clear in the transcript that even after "troop withdrawal" he would "leave behind a residual force."  What did he say this residual force would do?  He said, "I think that we should have some strike capability.  But that is a very narrow mission, that we get in the business of counter terrorism as opposed to counter insurgency and even on the training and logistics front, what I have said is, if we have not seen progress politically, then our training approach should be greatly circumscribed or eliminated."
This is not withdrawal.  This is not what was sold to the American people.  Barack is very lucky that the media just happened to decide to take that rather explosive interview -- just by chance, certainly the New York Times wasn't attempting to shield a candidate to influence an election, right? -- could best be covered with a plate of lumpy, dull mashed potatoes passed off as a report.  In the transcript, Let-Me-Be-Clear Barack declares, "I want to be absolutely clear about this, because this has come up in a series of debates: I will remove all our combat troops, we will have troops there to protect our embassies and our civilian forces and we will engage in counter terrorism activities."
So when the memo announces counterterrorism activies, Barack got what he wanted, what he always wanted, what the media so helpfully and so frequently buried to allow War Hawk Barack to come off like a dove of peace.
In Section Four of the Memo, both parties acknowledge that to achieve these things they may need further documentation and that such documenation will be done as attachments "to this MOU."  Thse would include things like "medical reports" for "dispatched personnel."  Oh, some idiot says, they mean State Dept personnel.  No, they don't.  The US is represented in this Memo by the Defense Dept.  This refers to DoD personnel.  They may also need an attachment to go over "procedures for recalling dispatched personnel," and possibly for covering "the death of dispatched personnel with the territory of the host country."  The Memo can run for five years from last Thursday (when it was signed) and, after five years, it can renewed every year afterwards.  US troops could be in Iraq forever.  The kill clause in this differs from the SOFA.  The 2008 SOFA had a kill clause that meant, one year after notification of wanting out of the SOFA, the SOFA would be no more.  The Memo doesn't require lead time notice.  Instead, "Either Participant may discontinue this MOU at any time, though the Participant should endeavor to provide advance notice of its intent to discontinue the MOU to the other Participant."
Again, Barack got what he wanted.  He'd stated what he wanted in 2007.  He got it.  If your life's goal is to cheer Barack -- that is the goal of the Cult of St. Barack -- start cheering and stop whining that Barack's been misrepresented.  The Memo gives him everything he wanted so, for Barack, it's a victory.  For those who believe in peace, for those who believe the US military should be out of Iraq, it's a tragedy.

A tragedy which only gets more tragic.  Paul McLeary (Defense News) notes today, "The US government is poised to sell billions of dollars worth of military equipment and maintenance support to Iraq at a time when the Baghdad government is struggling internally with a resurgent al-Qaida movement, while weighing external responses to the continuing Kurdish independence movement in the north, the Syrian civil war to the west, and the potential of a nuclear Iran along its eastern border."

Nouri is being armed with weapons.  At a time when he's immensely unpopular in Iraq.  Is anyone bothered by that?  April 10, 2008, Joe Biden was bothered by US ties and promises.  Of that day's Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing:

 Biden noted the "internal threat" aspect being proposed and how these requires the US "to support the Iraqi government in its battle with all 'outlaw groups' -- that's a pretty expansive commitment."  He noted that it requires the US "to take sides in Iraq's civil war" and that "there is no Iraqi government that we know of that will be in place a year from now -- half the government has walked out." 
"Just understand my frustration," Biden explained.  "We want to normalize a government that really doesn't exist." 

Nouri's still prime minister as a result of Barack overriding the 2010 parliamentary elections and insisting Iraqi leaders sign The Erbil Agreement -- a contract which went around Iraq's Constitution and gifted Nouri with a second term.  He now wants a third term.  Despite the fact that his goverment is in shambles.   And there are the rumors.    Adnan Hussein (Al-Monitor) reported Friday:

As soon as the results of the Iraqi provincial council elections in April 2013 were announced, some within political circles and the media speculated that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki may seek to postpone parliamentary elections scheduled for next spring to an unspecified date.
The speculations were triggered by a significant decline in Maliki’s popularity, as seen in the provincial elections. This decline, of course, is due to the failure of Maliki's government to achieve its promises, particularly in the area of ​​security and public services.
Initially, there were speculations that Maliki may resort to postponement to buy some time and regain his lost popularity. But later, a rumor arose of the possibility that Maliki and his coalition may conduct a coup against the democratic path of the political process.
This possibility was raised by a Sadrist MP, thus making the coup scenario more credible. The Sadrists are the allies of the State of Law coalition within the National Iraqi Alliance, the largest partner in the current government. They know what is happening on the inside.
In a press statement, Iraqi MP Amir al-Kanani said he feared that there will be no peaceful transfer of power if “the results of the upcoming elections turn out different than what Maliki is aiming for.”

And yet the US government is arming Nouri?

It's a shock to some that Barack supports counter-insurgency.  Why?  Samantha Power spoonfed it to him.  She blurbed the military's counter-insurgency manual.  Her name and endorsement was used to sell it.  She truly is A Problem From Hell.

And hell is what the US's counter-insurgency has created in Iraq.  Trend News Agency reports a Balad suicide cafe bomber claimed the lives of 24 people with eighteen more injured, a Muqdadiyah football field bombing claimed 5 lives and left fourteen injured and a Baquba market bombing claimed four lives and left twenty injured.  NINA reports that 1 police officer was shot dead in Falluja1 civilian was shot dead in Falluja, an armed attack on a Shirqat police station left 1 police officer and 2 rebels dead, a Falluja suicide bomber claimed the life of 1 Iraqi soldier and left four more injured, a Mansouriyah roadside bombing claimed the lives of a husband and wife, 3 Iraqi soldiers were shot dead in Qayara  and 2 Baquba bombings left four people injured.

Through yesterday, Iraq Body Count counts 303 violent deaths in Iraq which is roughly an average of 28 deaths a day.  Saturday, Iraq was slammed with bombings.  Lin Jenkins (Observer) notes that car bombings went off across Baghdad "The attacks took place during celebrations at the end of the fasting month of Ramadan."  Sameer N. Yacoub (AP) quotes eye witness Saif Mousa, "My shop's windows were smashed and smoke filled the whole area. I went outside of the shop and I could hardly see because of the smoke. ... At the end, we had a terrible day that was supposed to be nice because of Eid."

Catharina Moh has a video report for BBC News in which she observes, "Saturday saw a wave of bombings apparently coordinated to hit market areas, cafes and restaurants at their busiest." RT counted 80 dead and two hundred injured from the "series of bombings" across the country today. Tim Arango (New York Times) points out, "The bombings were the latest in a surge of attacks in Iraq this summer -- before, during and after Ramadan -- that have brought monthly death tolls to levels not seen in nearly five years, according to United Nations figures."   Pravda provides this context, "Around 700 people have been murdered in Iraq during Ramadan this year."

 303 people killed by violence and we're not even at the half-of-the-month mark.

 The International Committee of the Red Cross and Red Crescent issued a report today:

Currently, the ICRC is supporting information sessions for senior officers of the Iraqi armed forces and the Kurdistan Peshmerga and Asayish forces. We are also in regular contact with universities, supporting efforts to include the study of international humanitarian law in their curricula, and have just organized an international humanitarian law competition for law students in Iraqi Kurdistan.
We asked practitioners from different parts of Iraq how they saw international humanitarian law and its application in contemporary armed conflict.

If you missed it, this is what the US State Dept is supposed to be doing with the funding (billions) they received.  The ICRC has a series of interviews that make up the report:

Law and Disorder Radio  is a weekly, hour long program that airs Monday mornings at 9:00 a.m. EST on WBAI and around the country throughout the week, hosted by attorneys Heidi Boghosian, Michael S. Smith and Michael Ratner (Center for Constitutional Rights).  This week, they discuss an important new book.  Excerpt.

Michael Smith:  Heidi, congratulations on your new book,  Spying on Democracy. What a great title, Spying on Democracy: Government Surveillance, Corporate Power and Public Resistance.  It just came out.  It's got a fabulous cover of a finger print and an eye looking out at you.  We're going to have a long discussion with Michael Ratner and you and me when vacation period is behind us but we did want to inform our audience that Spying on Democracy by Heidi Boghosian is out and it's available on the internet and in bookstores.  And we want to talk a little bit about it and alert you to it so you can go out and read it.  Heidi, what was it that brought you to write Spying on Democracy?  

Heidi Boghosian:  Well, Michael, as you know, in the National Lawyer's Guild and certainly on Law and Disorder, we've covered over the last few years, reports of activists being infiltrated by law enforcement officers, really the kind of monitoring we haven't seen since the COINTELPRO programs of [notorious FBI Director] J. Edgar Hoover and the activism of the sixties and early seventies.  And I think that what interested me was how technology interfaced with the spying apparatus and the surveillance programs that are really omnipresent in all of our lives.

Michael Smith: I mean, Is it true what some people are saying--  -- particularly Snowden -- that they know everything about us -- who we talk to, who we write, who we reach on the internet who we talk to on the phone?  I mean how pervasive is it?

Heidi Boghosian:  It's all pervasive and I think even recent reports which have come out after the initial Snowden revelations are showing the greater extent of the data collection that occurs.  Now it doesn't necessarily mean that they know exactly what Michael Smith is writing in e-mails -- although they certainly have the capacity to do that.  They're amassing and storing such hoards of meta data that they had to build a new computer center in Utah with huge computers to store it all. The danger, of course, being that it's then available for future use if a new crisis or fear on the part of the government arises that they want to retroactively target you for.

Michael Smith:  How does this impact those of us who are involved in the movement for social justice?   

Heidi Boghosian:  It clearly has what we call a chilling effect -- especially on lawyers who may wish to communicate, either the Center for Constitutional Rights or the Lawyers Guild or you or any independent practitioner who wants to have e-mail or telephonic communication with a client who may be deemed unpopular by the government.  And what it means is you can never trust that your communications are not being listened in on, so that alters the content of what you say and, as is the case with the Center that means you have to travel abroad or conduct communications in writing -- really making the relationship a more difficult one to keep alive.

Michael Smith:  The subtitle of your new book Spying on Democracy: Government Surveillance, Corporate Power and Public Resistance  -- talk to me for a minute about corporate power.

Heidi Boghosian:  We know that 70% of the government's intelligence operations are conducted by private business.  They have a very co-dependent relationship in which Boeing, a lot of other military operations develop equipment specifically to conduct surveillance.  And the US government actually depends on them for analysis of data that is gathered and for setting up the internal communications system, for example, at the Pentagon.  So it behooves business, it helps their bottom line to create more sophisticated and intricate technology that the government depends on.  You must also realize that business is immune from Constitutional stricture so that they can in many cases spy free from liability and the government has given the telecommunications industry immunity from lawsuits so it really shows the extent that not only do we give them latitude but President Obama has a panel of corporate CEOs who advise him on policy.

There's  a bit more but we're limited on space.  (Norman Solomon has a column on Bradley Manning worth reading and this is a strong Democracy Now! segment with Jennifer Hoelzer.) The program plans to address Heidi's book more fully in three weeks.  Phyllis Bennis is on for a discussion about Israel and Palestine, Peter Werbe is on to address the government's attempt at a Green Scare, how environmental activists are targeted and imprisoned activist Marie Mason and they play a Left Forum presentation by Dr. Harriet Fraad on what Socialism in the US might look like.



law and disorder radio
michael s. smith
heidi boghosian
michael ratner

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