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Saturday, July 30, 2011


 

NATO bombs Libyan state TV


In a familiar pattern, "NATO" (most likely the U.S.) has now bombed Libyan state television, just as they did in Yugoslavia, Iraq and Afghanistan (not state TV in the latter case but rather Al Jazeera TV), with the same specious claim of military justification, that TV was being used to "intimidate the Libyan people and incite acts of violence against them." In reality, one more war crime.

Any bets on whether a single member of the U.S. corporate media will speak out against this crime, since precisely the same "justification" would allow them to be bombed?

Update: Three Libyan journalists were killed in the bombing. Meanwhile, coverage of this war crime in the Western media remains spotty at best, and I'm still waiting for the first journalist or editorial to speak out against it.

Update 2: Although there was a several paragraph AP story on the bombing that one could find online, in the two days since, not even a one-paragraph version in the "News of the World" section appeared in print in my local paper (San Jose Mercury News), nor have I heard word one about the bombing on various TV news programs (although it did make the New York Times). War crimes aren't what they used to be (although just imagine if Libya succeeded in bombing the BBC, what coverage would ensue).


Wednesday, July 27, 2011


 

Rich and poor alike


Barack Obama:
"If I’m saying to future recipients of Social Security or Medicare that you’re going to have to make some adjustments, it’s important that we’re also willing to make some adjustments when it comes to corporate jet owners, or oil and gas producers, or people who are making millions or billions of dollars."
Anatole France:
"The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread."

 

News schizophrenia


These stories are both are in the "news" (we use that term loosely) today:

Story 1:

"The State Department is warning Americans that al Qaeda and affiliated organizations continue to plan terrorist attacks against U.S. interests around the world, including Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.
Story 2:
The United States is “within reach’’ of defeating Al Qaeda...Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said."

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


 

Obama's confusion on interest vs. taxes


In his address to the nation about the debt ceiling "crisis," President Barack Obama had this to say about the consequences of failing to raise the debt ceiling:
"Interest rates would skyrocket on credit cards, on mortgages and on car loans, which amounts to a huge tax hike on the American people."
But this is completely wrong on two counts. First of all, a tax hike on the American people would go to the government, and allow the government to fund needed social programs, with the ancillary benefit that such spending creates jobs for the people delivering those social services. Interest is paid to banks and other corporations, and funds private profit (which quite often leads to one corporation buying another one with subsequent job cuts).

And secondly, higher interest rates on credit cards, mortgages, and car loans will not come out of the pockets of "the American people." No, they'll come out of the people who actually pay interest on their credit cards because they can't pay off their bills, people who have to borrow money to buy houses and cars rather than paying for them in cash. Who are these "people"? The poor and middle class, not the rich. And of course home owners itemizing deductions on their income tax get to deduct that increased mortgage interest directly from their income anyway, meaning even less money for the government.

No, President Obama, increased interest rates are in no way the equivalent of a "tax hike on the American people."


Saturday, July 23, 2011


 

No white terrorists at the New York Times (nor unpeaceful Norwegians)


In an almost unbelievable display of anti-Muslim bias, the New York Times repeatedly describes the suspect in the murder of 87 people in Norway as a "lone political extremist," not as a "terrorist," which is certainly how they would have described any alleged murderer had he been a non-white Muslim, rather than a "conservative Christian." Adding to the offense, the characterization (attributed to the police) asserts categorically that this was a "lone" attack, although it's obvious that in such a short time, no one could possibly know if the alleged attacker didn't have accomplices.

But the real sin of the Times comes later in the article. Despite having what seems to be a pretty clear suspect in custody, and despite a fairly clear picture of the basic characteristics of that suspect (right-wing, anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant), the article closes with six paragraphs describing suspicions and reasons why the attack might reasonably be expected to have originated with "Islamic terrorism." Suspicions which never should have been voiced in this article to begin with, but all the more so since a suspect not fitting that description has already been apprehended.

The final insult in the article is its perpetuation of the entirely undeserved "peaceful" image of Norway, "a nation better known for its active diplomacy and peacekeeping missions than as a target for extremists." We even have a Norwegian telling us how "Norway is such a neutral country." The article does note (later) that Norway has 550 soldiers serving in Afghanistan; it fails to note, as Glenn Greenwald does this morning, that Norway is actively participating in the assault on Libya, and Norwegian planes have dropped more than 300 bombs on that country! Not exactly your concept of a "neutral country."

Of course, Norway is also the country in which Barack Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. So it's certainly no stranger to irony.


Thursday, July 14, 2011


 

Again on who's dying in Libya


The press (and the U.S. and NATO) count on nothing more than people not paying attention. Here are two excerpts from the same article:
NATO will keep bombing Moamer Qadhafi’s forces during Ramazan in August as long as the Libyan regime continues to attack civilians during the Muslim holy month, the alliance said on Tuesday.
...In Brussels, alliance spokeswoman Oana Lungescu said: "It is hoped that the Qadhafi forces will stop attacking and threatening to attack civilians not just for Ramazan but immediately."
That's what the "alliance" spokespeople say. But what is actually happening? Hey newspeople it was right there in your own headline:
19 rebels killed in Misrata, Algeria
Even more instructive is the article:
Forces loyal to Libyan leader Moamer Qadhafi shelled rebel positions in the coastal city of Misrata overnight, killing 19 rebels and wounding 22, rebels said in a statement on Tuesday.
So the source of information about who is being killed is the "rebels." Now isn't it 100% certain that if there were any grounds on which the rebels could have claimed that the 19 dead and 22 wounded were "civilians" and not "rebels," they would have, just like the U.S. and NATO claim that everyone they kill (be it in Libya, Pakistan, Iraq, Afghanistan, or elsewhere) is not a civilian? Of course they would. The plain fact of the matter is that Qaddafi forces are not "attacking and threatening to attack civilians," and that NATO's claim as to why they are continuing to attack and kill Libyans is just as bogus as their claim why they started in the first place.

And just how many Libyans have the U.S. and NATO killed? 1,108 civilians, with another 4,537 wounded, according to Libya's prosecutor-general, who "intends to prosecute NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen in Libyan courts for "war crimes.'" Sadly, good luck with that. And, by the way, NATO is responsible for the deaths of all the Libyans it has killed (including quite a few rebels, by the way), not just those classified as "civilians."


Sunday, July 10, 2011


 

"NATO says..."


More NATO bombs fall on Libya, and, at least one news outlet picks a good picture to accompany their story. But the story, which is an AP story, asserts about the site which was bombed:
Government troops used the missile site outside the rebel-held port city of Misrata to fire indiscriminately on civilians in the area, NATO said.
Yes, "NATO said." But was it true? Did we get to read "...but AP could not verify this claim"? Of course not.

And again, what is the truth? Let's consult another source which is hardly likely to be sympathetic to the Libyan government - the Voice of America. Here's their story from July 5:

At least 11 Libyan rebels have been killed in clashes with pro-government forces near the opposition-held city of Misrata....more than 40 rebels have been wounded.
And July 8:
Medical sources say at least two rebels were killed in the shelling of the western city that has been under siege for months.
Now don't you think that if there were any chance they could label the dead as "civilians," they would have?

Here's one of the only sources I could find which seems to offer proof of such "indiscriminate bombing," claiming that "Day and night attacks from Grad ground-to-ground rockets claim victims indiscriminately. The hospitals are overwhelmed, attending to an average of 70 casualties a day." Really? And VOA isn't reporting that? They also report: "About 1200 of the city's inhabitants have been killed and more than 8000 injured. Hospital staff say that about 40 per cent are civilians." But who is a "civilian"? A doctor who is likely the source of the reporter's information says: "For me all of them are civilians because even those who take a gun are businessmen, engineers, students - none of us are soldiers." Well, on the one hand, he's certainly correct. Which points out why, in a civil war like this, the correct terms should be "combatants" and "non-combatants." Clearly, killing combatants, be they civilians or uniformed soldiers, is "acceptable" behavior (to the extent that any war or any killing is acceptable) and of a different character than killing non-combatants. But given that clarification, the numbers are still suspect. Obviously, some non-combatants have been killed, as always happens. But are they being killed by "indiscriminate bombing," as "NATO says"? Based even on reports from U.S. government-friendly media, I see no evidence of that.

And, as a counterpart to the picture of the Washington, D.C. demonstration which accompanies the first article linked above, here's a video of yesterday's action in San Francisco:


Friday, July 01, 2011


 

Obama: "Constitution and laws are just 'noise'" and other lies about Libya


Via fellow blogger WIIIAI, I was alerted to an Obama press conference I somehow missed on Wednesday. One could use up a lot of electrons on picking apart what he had to say on lots of subjects, but let's concentrate on the most egregious statements - the ones on Libya (a subject which, curiously enough, was apparently not important enough to be addressed by Obama in his introduction, and only came up in the Q&A session).
Q: There have been a lot of questions about the constitutionality -- constitutional interpretations of a few decisions you’ve made, so I’ll just simply ask: Do you believe the War Powers Act is constitutional?...

A: I’m not a Supreme Court justice so I’m not going to -- putting my constitutional law professor hat on here. Let me focus on, initially, the issue of Libya. I want to talk about the substance of Libya because there’s been all kinds of noise about process and congressional consultation and so forth.
Absolutely remarkable. To a man who was a Constitutional law professor, discussions of the Constitution and laws passed by Congress are just "noise." The Constitutional mandate for Congress to declare war is just a "process." Are we sure this man actually was a "Constitutional law professor"? I have my doubts.
Obama: And throughout this process we consulted with Congress. We’ve had 10 hearings on it. We’ve sent reams of information about what the operations are. I’ve had all the members of Congress over to talk about it.
Not only is he unfamiliar with the Constitution, apparently he's unfamiliar with the English language as well. Congressional hearings are not "consultation." Sending information to Congress is not "consultation." Talking to members of Congress could potentially be "consultation," if the members of Congress were allowed to talk back and if what they had to say had the slightest effect whatsoever. However the Constitution and the War Powers Act don't require "consultation." They require Congress to authorize the war.
Now, when you look at the history of the War Powers resolution, it came up after the Vietnam War in which we had half-a-million soldiers there, tens of thousands of lives lost, hundreds of billions of dollars spent -- and Congress said, you know what, we don’t want something like that happening again. So if you’re going to start getting us into those kinds of commitments you’ve got to consult with Congress beforehand.
A straight-out lie about the War Powers Resolution. Regardless of how you interpret the "meaning of Congress," the WPR doesn't say the President has to "consult" with Congress. It says they have to authorize his actions.
Muammar Qaddafi, who, prior to Osama bin Laden, was responsible for more American deaths than just about anybody on the planet, was threatening to massacre his people.
First of all, Qaddafi threatened to crush an armed rebellion, which every government in the world would do, not to "massacre his people." Second of all, "more Americans than just about anybody"? Really? Hitler comes to mind. So do George Bush and his fellow conspirators, who were responsible for the deaths of thousands of Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan. Obama himself is responsible for the deaths of more than a thousand Americans who he has kept fighting in Afghanistan. I could also mention the American health "care" system, which is responsible for the deaths of 18,000 (some estimates are higher) Americans every single year.
And as part of an international coalition, under a U.N. mandate that is almost unprecedented, we went in and took out air defense systems so that an international coalition could provide a no-fly zone, could protect -- provide humanitarian protection to the people on the ground.
The entire operation, dropping hundreds of bombs and missiles a day on Libya, summed up as "providing a no-fly zone." Please, Barack, the American people are naive, but not that naive. Everyone in the world knows the operation is way beyond a "no-fly zone." But you'd still like to maintain that fiction, apparently.
And as a consequence, we’ve protected thousands of people in Libya.
"Protected" hundreds of them from the hazards of breathing by putting them safely in their graves, including small children. Some people will say that that number is not proven, and it could be less. No doubt that's true. But the "thousands" that Obama claims the U.S. has protected (in the sense that he's using the word) is entirely unproven and unknowable, pure conjecture.
What we’ve seen is reports of troops engaging in horrible acts, including potentially using rape as a weapon of war.
Obama resorts to the same dodge that I wrote about the other day when the U.S. Ambassador to Libya claimed to have seen "reports" that up to 30,000 people had died. "Seeing reports" means almost less than nothing, and Obama even dodges a second time with the word "potentially." And whatever the ICC says, that rape charge is as bogus as they come.


Why stop here? There's more...

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