Monday, July 29, 2013

The failed economy

jobs and the economy

That is Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Jobs" which went up yesterday along with  Kat's "Kat's Korner: Ebony Bones' Sonic, Nocturnal Mystery Tour."  You'll note the football in the comic says "THE ECONOMY." 

Andre Damon (WSWS) reports today, "Four in five Americans are “economically insecure,” according to yet-unpublished data reported by the Associated Press Sunday, which shows that the vast majority of the population struggles with near-poverty and unemployment, or relies on government antipoverty programs during at least part of their lives."  Eric London and Barry Grey (WSWS) call out the hypocrisy Barack repeatedly offers on the economy (including to be a friend of the 'middle class'):

Obama spoke with the Times last Wednesday after a speech in Galesburg, Illinois, an industrial town devastated by the closure of a Maytag refrigerator factory in 2004. His appearance there was the first in a series of campaign-style events focusing on his economic policies.
In the interview, Obama spoke of the growth of social inequality in the US and the lack of “upward mobility” for working Americans. “And that’s what’s been eroding over the last 20, 30 years, well before the financial crisis,” he said.
Obama claimed that he is “obsessed” with “how are we growing the economy, how are we increasing middle-class incomes and middle-class wages, and increasing middle-class security.”
These remarks reflect the awareness and concern within the American ruling elite of growing popular discontent over mass unemployment, rising poverty and cuts in vital social programs alongside record stock prices, corporate profits and CEO pay. There is a potential, Obama was hinting, for a rapid growth of social opposition.
Obama, however, seems to think that this can be avoided with large doses of demagogy. The interview was an exercise in hypocrisy and obfuscation. This was reflected, first of all, in Obama’s terminology. In keeping with the standard practice of American politicians, Obama avoided any mention of the working class, instead invoking ad nauseum the “great” (and totally undefined) American “middle class.”

As disgusting as Barack is, so is (sadly) the AFL-CIO.  Patrick Martin (WSWS) reports that as Detroit is driven into bankruptcy in the latest neoliberal scam, the union does damn little, "The AFL-CIO has responded to the bankruptcy of the city of Detroit with a predictable combination of rhetorical appeals to the Obama administration and a refusal to lift a finger to actually defend the interests of the working class."

This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for Monday: 

Monday, July 29, 2013.  Chaos and violence continue, one 'expert' covers for Nouri, others note it's time for him to leave (he's been prime minster since 2006), July is set to have the record death toll in recent years, Iraq War veteran Bradley Manning awaits the verdict in his court-martial, Lynne Stewart remains a political prisoner (despite her husband Ralph Poynter's efforts and his noting that Lynne is dying), we tough on the Bob Filner scandal, and more.

Starting with Bob Filner.  The former US House Representative didn't seek re-election in 2012, choosing instead to run in San Diego's mayoral race.  He won.  He is currently Mayor Bob Filner.  How likely that is to last is probably best left to a betting pool.

I know Bob Filner.  I like Bob Filner.  Bob did many great things in Congress.  He has done many strong things as Mayor.  He may or may not be able to continue in that role.  He stands accused of sexual harassment and misconduct for actions since he has been mayor.

Is he guilty of what he's currently accused?  I have no idea.  He's never been anything but friendly to me and I've never seen him harass anyone.  That doesn't mean he's innocent, that does mean that's all I can speak to personally on the allegations.

I wouldn't be discussing this today were it not for Lila Garrett.  On today's Connect the Dots with Lila Garrett (KPFK) she gave a sermon -- she's gotten so fond of those -- that was full of 'facts,' (She falsely claimed that Monica Lewinsky has never been able to get a job since the exposure of her sexual relationship with Bill Clinton -- there has been her tacky handbags, her time as a spokesperson for Jenny Craig, etc -- Lila wanted to slime Bill Clinton so facts got replaced with 'facts').

Bob Filner, she insisted, was "politically correct" (her term) because he's installed solar panels.  And he was taking on big oil, she insisted.  The allegations, which she accepted as true, were not about him as a politician, they were about his "personal behavior," she maintained.

To be really clear to Lila, a man or woman who harasses those working under him/her is not displaying "personal behavior."  It is a crime (which Lila at least realized) but it's not "personal behavior" (which she did not realize).

She also saw harassment in some novel ways.  It was, she explained, stemmed from an individual (man, she used repeatedly) feeling powerful and proud and so you want to celebrate and have the applause, she insisted, but it's not there and so you look to a woman, any woman, Lila insisted, and want to celebrate with her.

That's certainly a novel way to look at it.  But the reality is that sexual harassment in the work place is generally about control and the inner psyche of the harasser is not 'I am so wonderful! Give me  applause!'  There are two major arguments regarding the profile of sexual harassers and Garrett's managed to avoid both while presenting an entirely new argument.  (The psyche and feminist argument is that it's about power; the conservative argument -- which tries to use examples of early humans -- is that it's about selection and desire.  Those have been the two dominant arguments society has had on the profile of the harasser.)

Lila goes on to conclude that Bob Filner must resign as mayor.

Lila Garrett broadcasts on KPFK.  Where does she live?

Not in San Diego.

Nor do I.  It is not my choice whether or not Filner resigns, I have no say in the matter.  Only the people of San Diego can make that call.  It's the same as with the NYC mayor's race.  From the eighth Congressional district of California, I have no business endorsing any candidate in a race I can't vote in or calling for someone in a race I can't vote in to step down.

There have been e-mails noting the Filner scandal and insisting I have said nothing on it.  There's no reason to say anything.  An Iraq War veteran raped his daughter.  That's a news story.  It's not one I'm interested in covering.  We cover feminist issues here and have covered rape and have covered sexual harassment and abuse.  We will continue to do so.  But we do not cover every single story.

As for ignoring it, July 12th, Rebecca posted "What the hell?" where she includes Bob's statement acknowledging something (what is being acknowledged in that statement is not clear to me).  She then asks a series of questions and I provide my take in response.  I note, as I have above, that this is matter (a) for the voters of San Diego and (if harassment occurred) for law enforcement (sexual harassment is a crime).

I like Bob.  I will always praise his work on the House Veterans Affairs Committee.  He deserves praise for that.  I have never seen him exhibit the behavior he is currently accused of.  I would hope that means it is not true, however, I am aware it may very well be true.  As much as I like -- no, as much as I love Bob, it is not my job to run interference for him or to insist that he's innocent.  I hope he is.  I do not know he is.  These are serious charges.  Women who are making them have a right to be heard.   I am certainly not interested in attacking these women or in smearing them.

Again, I hope Bob Filner is innocent and that this is an awful misunderstanding. But neither my hopes for Bob nor my love for him trump any suffering of someone he caused.  If the accusations are true, he must suffer the consequences.  If the accusations are true, it will be a horrible mark on his public record; however, it will not be his own legacy.  His work for veterans will remain outstanding.  That work will not make it 'okay' that he harassed women (if the charges are true).  But they go to the fact that people can do very great things and also do very unethical and/or very criminal things.  Heroes largely exist in children's comic books and on IMAX screens in the summer.  Sometimes those that we make larger than life have the worst feet of clay.  That's not to justify harassment, abuse or rape.  It is to note that -- thinking of the sliming of two women that so many on the left (men and Naomi Wolf) took part in -- someone who has done something good can also be someone who's done something wrong or criminal. 

Iraq is bleeding.  Nathan Morely (Vatican Radio) notes, "A relentless campaign of bombings and shootings has killed nearly 4,000 people in Iraq since the start of this year -- that's according to the violence monitoring group Iraq Body Count.  The violence has raised fears of a return to full-blown conflict in the country where Kurds, Shia and Sunni Muslims have yet to find a stable way of sharing power."   Salam Faraj and Ahmed al-Rubaye (AFP) note, "More than 800 people have now been killed in violence so far this month, according to AFP figures based on security and medical sources - an average of upwards of 27 a day."   Iraq Body Count counts  831 violent deaths in Iraq so far this month through Sunday and  violence continues to slam Iraq.  Today's violence led acting head of UNAMI Gyorgy Busztin to declare, "I am deeply concerned about the heightened level of violence which carries the danger that the country falls back into sectarian strife.  Iraq is bleeding from randmo violence, which sadly reached record heights during the Holy month of Ramadan."

 This morning,  Duraid Adnan (New York Times) counted 15 car bombings throughout the country with a death toll of 46 and over a hundred left wounded.. Kareem Raheem (Reuters) reports the death toll from the car bombings has already reached 60. Sofia News Agency offers, "The Baghdad bombs, hidden in parked cars, hit markets and car parks in several areas of the city, police say. The deadliest was said to have hit the eastern Shia district of Sadr City."  The car bombings in Baghdad, Basra, Mosul, Kut, Samawa and elsewhere were not the only acts of violence in Iraq today -- nor were they the only acts of violence that resulted in loss of life.  For example, the National Iraqi News Agency reports 1 person was shot dead in Baquba.  As if often the case when Iraqi violence gets significant press attention, the press tends to focus on areas with a high volume of deaths.  That's why 28 deaths spread out around the country with 2 here, 3 there, etc -- especially with the bulk outside of Baghdad -- rarely results in intense press coverage and why the rising death toll tends to creep up on (and surprise) many press outlets.

Yang Yi (Xinhua) notes, "Monday's bombing spree came after 14 people were killed in attacks across the country on Sunday.  Last week, dozens of gunmen stormed Taji and Abu Ghraib prisons, respectively north and west of Baghdad, in an attempt to free prisoners."  For the BBC, Rami Rhuayem addressed the violence today (link is video).  Excerpt.

Rami Ruhayem:  It's been going on for a long time but, as you said, this is a marked increase in violence.  And this time it appears it might be on the verge of causing political problems.  You might think it should have caused political problems a long time ago, but actually the government has been able -- with a very complex range of tactics -- to deflect blame and to escape the kind of public anger directed against it  which such violence would cause in other places.  However, now -- and after the prison break just over a week ago in which hundreds of prisoners -- high value, dangerous prisoners -- escaped -- there were cracks within the government and people were asking "Why?"  Which is your question and which I cannot answer but which the government is now under increasing pressure to answer: Why can you not stop all these car bombs from entering Baghdad when you know that people are trying to do this?   How come you cannot guard high-value prisons when you know that people are trying to get the prisoners out? 

Deutsche Welle observes that tensions have been mounting for some time in Iraq as evidenced by the ongoing protests, "Protests broke out in Sunni-majority areas at the end of 2012 and are still ongoing. Iraq’s Sunni Arab minority has argued that the Shiite-led government was failing to address its concerns, instead marginalizing and targeting their community with unwarranted arrests and terrorism charges."   Arthur Bright (Christian Science Monitor) points out:

The string of car bombs is just the latest event in Iraq's ongoing sectarian conflict, which has flared in recent months. The BBC reports that April, May, and June of this year each saw more than 700 people, mostly civilians, killed in Iraq, with a high of some 1,045 dead in May, according to United Nations figures. July has already surpassed the 700-dead mark, with Reuters putting the tally at 810 so far. Iraq Body Count, an independent watchdog tallying the conflict's death toll, put July's total at 831 before today's attacks.

A statement issued today by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon observed, "Iraq is at another crossroads.  Its political leaders have a clear responsibility to bring the country back from the brink, and to leave no space to those who seek to exploit the political stalemate through violence and terror."

All Iraqi News notes the Sunni Endowment has condemned the attacks as has the European UnionKUNA notes that the United Kingdom also condemned today's attacks.  And credit to US Ambassador Robert Beecroft and the US Embassy in Iraq for immediately releasing a statement condemning the violence:

The United States condemns in the strongest terms the brutal terrorist attacks that killed and injured dozens of innocent Iraqis across the nation today. We deplore the senseless loss of life caused by these attacks and offer our sincere condolences to the families of the victims, and hope for the quick recovery of those injured. The United States stands firmly with Iraq in its fight against terrorism.
Not long ago, a self-righteous prig in the media was mocking the statements such as the above.  'What good do they do?' huffed the idiot.  Well they don't do you much good, but they're not aimed at you.  They acknowledge an attack, they express condemnation and this is aimed at the Iraqi people the same way, for example, statements immediately following 9-11 were aimed at the American people to let them know that they were not alone.  The statements do matter.  They especially matter when there are repeat attacks and people, such as the Iraqis, see France and England repeatedly condemn the attacks while the US is silent.  That has been the case for some time.   It sends a message to the Iraqi people and its a message in conflict with the 'aid' (military and diplomatic) that the US continues to send supposedly to improve Iraq.
This morning, we asked: Will Iraq come up in the State Dept press briefing today?  And we noted: It generally does not.  When it does, the press tends to be asking about Iran or Syria.  Despite the huge death tolls in Iraq of the last months, Iraq really hasn't been seen as a topic to explore in the briefings -- despite the billions of US tax dollars the State Dept is now given each year to spend in Iraq.

The State Dept has had its press briefing today.  Neither spokesperson Jen Psaki nor the reporters present bothered to raise the issue of Iraq.  How very telling. Iraq was also ignored at the White House press briefing by Josh Earnest today.  Please note, Ernest felt the need to touch on such 'pressing issues' as "some grilled chicken, some pasta jambalaya" and other nonsense but neither he nor the reporters present felt the need to mention Iraq.  Not everyone was silent on Iraq today.  One journalist had a conversation with himself on the topic.    Dan Murphy (Christian Science Monitor) played Socrates as he provided answers to a series of questions he asked himself:  We'll note this one.

Q: What are the political implications of the attacks for Iraq?

Maliki doesn't even lead a unified Shiite bloc in government. The political movement of the Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr frequently opposes Maliki's initiatives, and Maliki appeared to blame the Sadrists for assisting the Al Qaeda jailbreak in a television address. He said the guards who collaborated with the attackers were directed to do so by a militia linked to Mr. Sadr.
That claim is evidence of deep political tensions inside Iraq that have been threatening to boil over for months.

 While Dan Murphy aims high with the Socratic method, Alexander Besant takes Global Post into the gutter by seeking out the 'thoughts' of "Middle East analyst' Jared Levy. Levy's showboated stupidity can be seen in the following exchange:

What was the protest encampment in Hawija about and why did the government crack down so hard?

JL: I think the government made the decision to clear the protest camp for two reasons. First, it was a response to a recent incident of individuals connected to the protest movement in Hawija attacking security forces in the area. Second, at that phase of the protest movement, I think the central government wanted to take a stand that they weren’t going to allow sustained financially disruptive activity, such as permanent encampments, or protracted blocking of major highways.

 It should be noted that Besant is a big dumb ass for reprinting that garbage.  First off, Liar Levy (or maybe just stupid, he does seem to think that recent bachelor degree made him an expert on something) is referring to the April 23rd massacre  --  when Nouri's federal forces stormed a sit-in and killed adults and children.  Alsumaria noted Kirkuk's Department of Health (Hawija is in Kirkuk)  announced 50 activists have died and 110 were injured in the assault. UNICEF informed the world that 8 of the dead were children and twelve more children were left injured.  The world largely shrugged.

Let's deal with his claims and I'm not in the mood to spoon feed today.  He claims the massacre was a response to "individuals connected to the protest movement in Hawija attacking security forces in the area."  That is a claim.  It's not a convincing one.  The Friday before the Tuesday massacre, there was violence in Hawija.  Check that day's snapshot if you're late to the party.  One protester was killed.  By security forces.  Away from the protests, a figure seen darting through the street, would attack security forces (killing one).  That took place after the fact and away from the protest area.  The claim that it was a protester has never been established.

Second, Hawija, April 23rd, had to be stopped so Nouri could say they "weren't going to allow sustained financially disruptive activity, such as permanent encampments, or protected blockings of major highways"?  But they had already allowed just that.  Is Levy so ignorant that he's unware of that?  Has he never heard of Anbar Province?  Has he missed the blocking of the international highway in the seven months of protests?  A blocking that started months before the April 23rd massacre?

Nothing Levy says makes sense because he doesn't know the facts.  It's embarrassing.  It's also outrages that Global Post allows a massacre of a sit-in to be talked about in such terms.  Shame on them.  They have blood on their hands -- including the blood of children.  They allow idiot Levy to pontificate on how Sadr might respond -- "" -- which is only more problematic since Sadr called for protests against Nouri's handling of the security situation (mishandling) Sunday, July 21st -- not Sunday yesterday, two Sundays ago:

 All Iraq News notes cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr is calling for the people to protest the government's lack of response to the violence and sttes, "The silence of the people concerning the terrorist bombings, the people of other countries would revolt and call for toppling the government if their countries witnessed such bombings.  We witness strange silence over these bombings and we cannot grant the government another chance to improve the situation."

 The next day, World Bulletin interpreted Moqtada's statements as calling for the overthrow of Nouri al-Maliki.  A week later, 'expert' Levy shows up to tell the world that the worsening security situation might lead Moqtada to criticize Nouri.  What an idiot.  'Predicting' the past for too many years to count, Jared Levy.

As he provides cover for Nouri al-Maliki, Levy becomes an increasingly sidelined observer.  Today, the editorial board of the Guardian points out:

 But the prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, has proved to be a disastrous leader, subverting the constitution to concentrate power in his own hands, to exclude the Sunni minority and potentially to threaten the so far peaceful Kurdish north. The resulting Sunni backlash, exploited by al-Qaeda, is the background to the latest violence. The situation has been made worse by recent breakouts from the Abu Ghraib and Taji prisons, which returned veteran extremists to the fray and which suggest that the government may be as incompetent as it is dictatorial. Security, after all, is supposed to be Maliki's forte.

Over the weekend,  the Washington Post editorial board weighed in on Iraq noting:

But Iraq’s troubles are also due to the narrowly sectarian and quasi-authoritarian policies of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who prosecuted Sunni leaders in his own government and sent troops to attack a Sunni protest encampment.
[. . .]
The Obama administration has for too long offered nearly unqualified support to Mr. Maliki. 

The board goes on to note that Nouri should be informed that future weapons and military assistance is dependent upon his ability to get along with political rivals (they are more specific).These are suggestions that many have offered (including neocon Kimberly Kagan -- she was actually right on that and we gave her credit for being right on that).  The Minneapolis Star Tribune reposts the Post editorial today.

Meanwhile Laura Raymond and Leah Todd (Truthout) report on the possibility that Iraq might get a human rights hearing:

As toxins from US munitions and the burn pits the US military used to dispose of waste linger in Iraqi cities and villages, doctors and human rights advocates are reporting unprecedented and widespread medical problems in the population. In Fallujah, a doctor found that rising rates of birth defects were 14 times higher than the rates in Hiroshima and Nagasaki following the US nuclear bombings in 1945. Cancer rates in Iraq have doubled since 1995 and are 40 times what they were in 1991 before the first Gulf War.
 "We sent women from my organization to [the Iraqi town of Haweeja]. We were surprised to see hundreds of children that had birth disabilities. We see things in Iraq that we've never seen in our lives," Yanar Mohammed, president of the Organization of Women's Freedom in Iraq, told Democracy Now in March 2013. Yanar, whose organization works on a broad range of human rights issues in Iraq, has been documenting the sharp rise in serious birth defects and incidents of cancer in the aftermath of the Iraq War along with the Federation of Workers Councils and Unions in Iraq (FWCUI), the country's second-largest labor network.

  Dar Addustour reports that an Iraqi military officer (Lt Gen Hamid) is being sent to Russia and the Ukraine to negotiate weapons . . . and goats.  That doesn't negate the editorial board's point (and Iraq would prefer weapons from the US -- goats, I'm not so sure of).

The violence has raised fears of a return to the full blown conflict in the country where

Turning to the US and the issue of the military and veterans.  First, Online has an article entitled "An Online College Guide for Veterans" -- that is not my endorsement of online degrees.  I can neither endorse nor condemn them, I know nothing about online colleges.  But that is a new resource and Ruth was asked to note it (in an e-mail to her).  She asked me if I knew anything about it and I don't but I told her I'd include it in the military and veterans section of the snapshot.  Still on the military, as early as tomorrow, Bradley Manning make get an answer regarding the outcome of his court-martial.  Court-martial for what?

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. 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."

Chelsea J. Carter (CNN) offered this morning that Colonel Denise Lind, the military judge presiding over the court-martial, is expected to announce a verdict that will determine whether he's a disillusioned "idealist" or a "traitor" -- whistle-blowing doesn't enter into CNN's limited scope.  Lind refused to toss out the aiding the enemy charge (despite Amnesty International publicly calling the charge a "travesty" and urging that it be tossed).  If convicted only of that charge, Brad could spend his life in prison.   David Dishneau (AP) notes there are 20 other charges against Brad but that this is "the most serious."

This afternoon, Jake Miller (CBS News) reported that Col Denise Lind stated today that her verdict would likely be announced tomorrow.  9 News World adds, "The phase of Manning's court martial dedicated to determining his sentence could begin as early as Wednesday."

Amy Goodman (Democracy Now! -- link is text, audio and video) spoke with Michael Ratner (attorney and we'll have more on him in a moment) and journalist Alexa O'Brien.  One of the key moments (and there were many in the segment) was this:

AMY GOODMAN: Can you explain—I was reading Charlie Savage’s piece in The New York Times, who described what was happening in the media center, talking about how the—let me see if I can find the words. "While Major Fein made his arguments, reporters watched the trial on a closed-circuit feed at the media center. Two military police officers in camouflage fatigues and armed [with holstered] handguns paced behind each row there, looking over the journalists’ shoulders, [which had not] happened during the trial. No explanation was given."

ALEXA O’BRIEN: You know, it’s interesting because I was here yesterday while the judge deliberated, and the commander came up to me—and I’m not allowed to name her, actually, or I could lose my press credentials. I can’t name any staff by their surname, etc. She told me that she was actually the media person responsible for all the images of Saddam Hussein’s capture and that those photographs were taken with her digital camera. So, she clearly understands how to manage the message. And that’s really central to this trial, is how Fort Meade has managed the message by the lack of public access to court documents, the subject matter expert, by the Military District of Washington, which is responsible for convening a fair and impartial trial for the accused, Bradley Manning. The first subject matter expert we had was a member of the prosecution. Nobody in the press pool knew that. It’s really what Mr. Ratner just spoke about, the fact that the prosecution wants to make sure that it makes the headlines, so it takes up a whole day of court and essentially squeezes any kind of press attention away from the defense. The fact of the matter is, is that if this trial were to be televised, if people could actually see Bradley Manning, see how earnest he is and how sincere a character and sympathetic a character he is, public opinion about this trial would change dramatically.

AMY GOODMAN: I mean, the fact that you’re at the headquarters of the National Security Agency, right—it’s right there at Fort Meade—and a military base, and talk about just the trouble you have with the Internet. And what is your ability to work? Describe what happens in the courtroom, in the media center. And can you go online at all there?

ALEXA O’BRIEN: We can no longer go online. The military—sorry, the Public Affairs Office here says it’s because of commercial Internet issues with Comcast. However, the fact of the matter is, is that we’re—we have to go outside in order to file. Let’s say something dramatic happens in the courtroom. We can’t tweet or publish anything, even send an email. We have to leave the media operations center, stand on the steps, open up our phone, which we’ve gotten out of our car, and then tweet something or, you know, email something or file something.

You know, we have to also look back. There was a period of almost eight months when it was just simply a small cadre of independent journalists, where we didn’t have a media operations center, where transcripts were pen and paper, and where we were trying to get out as much information as possible about a trial and motions related to aiding the enemy, whether or not the government was trying to craft an Official Secrets Act in this trial. It has been a completely surreal experience.

Lynne Stewart is a US political prisoner -- sentenced for the 'crime' of issuing a press release.  This Thursday, there will be a rally in San Francisco for Lynne:

Free Lynne Stewart Now!
Rally in Support of Activist lawyer and Guild Member Lynne Stewart
Thursday, August 1, Noon
Federal Building
7th & Mission in San Francisco
Send a message to Bureau of Prisons Director Charles E. Samuels Jr. that he must reverse his decision.
Link for this event on Facebook:
Long-time National Lawyers Guild member and activist lawyer Lynne Stewart needs our help and she needs it now! The Federal Bureau of Prisons has denied Lynne Stewart’s application for compassionate release, despite recommendations in favor from the warden at her facility, the Regional Office Director, and vetting of Stewart’s release plans by the Federal Probation Office in New York.
Lynne Stewart’s condition is deteriorating rapidly. Medical treatment to arrest the cancer that is metastasizing in her body has been halted because she is too weak to receive it. She remains in isolation, as her white blood cell count is so low that she is at risk for generalized infection.
For over 30 years, Lynne Stewart devoted her life to the oppressed – a constant advocate for the countless many deprived in the United States of their freedom and their rights. She, herself, was targeted and prosecuted because she defended vigorously her unpopular clients – people the U.S. government sought to execute, disappear, and demonize. Read the rest of this entry »

On this week's Law and Disorder Radio,  an 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) topics addressed include Detroit, the late Henri Alleg and Lynne.  Lynne's husband Ralph Poynter joins the program to provide an update "Her spirits are great but her body is dying. [. . .] We're trying to get her home so that she can die around people who care about her.".  Since June 17th -- minus a few days for media interviews -- Ralph has been protesting outside the White House calling for his wife's release.  Lynne is 73-years-old, a grandmother, an attorney and a woman dealing with the return of cancer.  She was convicted of her 'crime' in her hometown of New York, New York

Heidi Boghosian:  Ralph, what's the status with Judge [John] Koeltl?  Has he been approached about this given the   --

Ralph Poynter:  Motions will go befor Judge Koeltl Friday to ask him to get involved.  We don't know what the results of this will be But it is the medical records.  We had to fight the Bureau of Prisons to get all of Lynne's medical records.  They insisted that -- They first told the lawyers that they had to go before the Freedom of Information Act to get Lynne's medical records.  Lynne wrote a personal letter saying that they should give up all of her medical records.

This is part of the petty games the prison system is playing with Lynne -- who is dying.  They've lied about the severity of her condition  -- Ralph notes one of the doctors treating her is fighting back and has written a letter about Lynne's health because, the doctor says, she is bound to  by ethics to tell the truth.  Heidi raised the issue of Koeltl because when he originally sentenced her, he noted that he did not want to give Lynne a death sentence.

Koeltl originally sentenced Lynne to 28 months.  That wasn't good enough for the Barack Obama Justice Department.  Lynne was re-sentenced to 10  years (July 15, 2010).  Under Bully Boy Bush, Lynne was allowed to remain at her home (and receive treatment for cancer) while she appealed the conviction.  Under Barack Obama, Lynne was forced into custody (November 19, 2009) and hauled off to prison.  That's where she remains today, the cancer is back, not a minor case, and she has limited time left.

 Lynne's 'crime' spans three administrations.  Her 'crime' took place during President Bill Clinton's second term.  Janet Reno was Attorney General.  Janet Reno looked into the matter, gave Lynne a slap on the wrist because Janet Reno had the brains to grasp that administrative measure is not a law and that breaking it by issuing a press release is not a crime.  So that was that.

And then the Supreme Court put Bully Boy Bush into the White House and he made John Ashcroft Attorney General.  Ashcroft's most important act was going after Lynne.  Maybe that's why 9-11 happened?  Maybe if Ashcroft had paid attention to actual issues, 9-11 wouldn't have happened?  Who knows?  But he made it his life's work to go after Lynne because Lynne is the people's attorney who spent her career taking the defendants no one else wanted.  Maybe they couldn't pay the big bill or maybe they were too 'controversial' -- but Lynne took them on and fought for them and gave them the strong defense that the US legal system demands.

For that she was punished.  One of the lies about Barack that the Cult of St. Barack whispered in 2008, trying to drum up support for the corporatist War Hawk, was that, as the son of a Black male and White female, and as a Constitutional law 'professor,' Barack would rush to free Lynne. (Lynne is White. Her husband Ralph is African-American.)

Back then, I said Barack wouldn't do anything for Lynne.

I was right.  But I was wrong in that I didn't anticipate that he would do everything against Lynne that he could.  While he wouldn't help her, he and his administration went out of their way to penalize her -- again, she is taken into custody not under Bully Boy Bush.  She was convicted in February 2005.  Bully Boy Bush, for all his many faults and crimes, did not insist Lynne be taken into custody.  She was not a security threat to anyone and she was being treated for cancer and she was appealing the conviction.  So Bush let her remain at her residence in 2005, in 2006, in 2007 and in 2008.  It's only after January 2009, when Barack is sworn in, that Lynne's ordered to surrender.  And it is only after Barack is sworn in that Lynne gets resentenced (from 28 months to ten years).

Lynne could be out now.  But as Stephen Lendman (People's Voice) noted months ago, "Obama Wants Lynne Stewart Dead:"

Lynne's 73.  She's gravely ill.
Obama killed Chavez.  He wants Lynne dead.  Unjustifiable longterm imprisonment assures it.
She's a breast cancer survivor.  It reemerged.  It's spreading.
She's dying.  Vital life-saving treatment is delayed or denied.  Expert private care can save her.  She needs it now.

In the February 7, 2013 snapshot, we became the first to float compassionate release:

Lynne's now served over 38 months in prison.  Her original sentence was 28 months.  Stephen Lendman (San Franciso Bay View) explains, "She requested transfer to a New York hospital. She's been successfully treated there before.  She was denied."  Brenda Ryan (Workers World) reports, "The re-emergence of Stewart's cancer was first detected in a PET scan.  [Lynn and Ralph's daughter Dr. Zenobia] Brown noted that it took two months from the time of the scan until Stewart was able to see a doctor.  Stewart's hands and feet are shackled every time she goes to the hospital.  While there she is cruelly shackled to a bedpost by her ankle and wrist."  This is ridiculous.  She's served the original sentence.  She's now dealing with cancer again.  She needs to focus on her treatment.  She cannot do that behind bars.  She is a 73-year-old woman who has never been a threat to herself or others, she needs a medical release right now.  The US Justice Dept allows what is known as a "compassionate release" and it includes criteria such as "extraordinary or compelling circumstances which could not reasonably have been foreseen by the court at the time of sentencing."  That would include the return of Lynne's cancer.  There is no risk to the public in Lynne being released under a "compassionate release."  It is in Lynne's best interest for her to be released, it is in the government's best interest to release her.  On the latter, as University of California San Francisco's Dr. Brie Williams pointed out, "Current compassionate release guidelines are failing to identify seriously ill prisoners who no longer pose a threat to society, placing huge financial burdens on state budgets and contributing to the national crisis of prison overcrowding."

The idea came up because, earlier that day, I had been debating Lynne with a friend in the administration and, as he insisted that there was nothing that they could do if they wanted to do something, I flashed on compassionate release.  Guess what?

The pressure has to be on Barack.  The friend (who heads a Cabinet) agreed that with the cancer Lynne could get that release if -- IF -- there was pressure on the White House.

So please stop making excuses for Barack.  Stop being Michael Smith whining about Bush and Bush's family.  When you talk about Lynne, talk about Barack.  If he feels pressure or shame, he may demand Lynne's release.  Again, before there was a petition for Lynne to get a compassionate release, before there was a movement, the idea came up because of a conversation with a Cabinet head about what was happening to Lynne and how she was suffering.  A compassionate release, the Cabinet head agreed, was possible but only if Barack felt pressure.  The movement behind Lynne has not done enough in the months since to put the pressure on Barack.  If they had, I wouldn't have to be going over the February conversation (which will probably tick off my friend but Lynne's days are limited so I'm putting it out there).

The pressure needs to be on Barack.  This is a 73-year-old woman who owns no gun, used no gun in any crime, has no history of violence and made her life's work about being The People's Attorney.  Her cancer has returned.  She can't be treated adequately in prison.  And it breaks my heart to say this, but she's probably got 12 months if that left to live.  Lynne needs to be home with her family and that's not going to happen with the same tactics of "call for her release but blame Bush!"

Bush isn't in the White House (thank heaven).  Barack is.  That's who can act and that's who needs to be forced into acting and who can be forced into acting.

The hosts of Law and Disorder provide three phone numbers to call to advocate for a compassionate prison release for Lynne.

Please call to push for Lynne’s release from prison.
  • U.S. Bureau of Prisons Director Charles E. Samuels – 202-307-3198  Ext. 3
  • U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder – 202-514-2001
  • President Barack Obama – 202-456-1111