Iran’s LOL-ection, wasteful war spending with Jeremy Scahill, more torture documents uncovered, U.N. calls for probe into U.S.-led air strikes in the Af-Pak War, analysis of Bibi Netanyahu’s speech of nothingness, and more…
Iran Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has ordered a probe into Iran’s allegedly rigged re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. This follows a letter to Iran’s Guardian Council (“a powerful 12-member body that’s a pillar of Iran’s theocracy”) from the primary opposition to the president, Mir-Housain Mousavi, and a sit-down with the supremo himself on Sunday. Three days of protests have followed the announcement of the election’s results. Iran has arrested journalists, shut down news sites on the web, and Mr. Mousavi has called for protests to stop as Iranian stormtroopers are now packing live ammunition. Leaked interior ministry reports show Mr. Ahmadinejad finishing 3rd in the voting behind Mr. Mousavi and Mehdi Karoubi. Sevn people have been killed in the protests. Middle East scholar Juan Cole did a great analysis on his blog and in an article for Salon into why he concluded the election was rigged a couple of days ago. The Guardian Council will “recount those boxes that some presidential candidates claim to have been cheated… the body is ready to receive complaints and probe into the issue and build more confidence”.
80% of Israelis don’t see Iran as a threat, according to a poll conducted by the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS). Oddly, this is the same INSS that reported recently that 59% of Israelis support a military strike on Iran right now. People are stupid.
“Washington Maintains Cautious Response to Election Crisis” by Jim Lobe and Daniel Luban (IPS): “Although many anti-Iran hardliners here are calling for Barack Obama to make an unequivocal show of solidarity with Iran’s anti-government protesters — including imposing new economic sanctions against the Islamic Republic — his administration has so far declined to express outright support for the protesters against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his backers. Israeli hawks favor Pres. Ahmadinejad as stronger propaganda for war. Contrast this the Obama Administration’s overt support for the “March 14″ opposition to Hizbollah in Lebanon’s elections about a week ago and this prudence can be interpreted as tacit consent for Iran’s election results. When the Bush Administration was looting the American people to bail out the banks, Mr. Obama was a cheerleader, but there was only “one president at a time” when Israel slaughtered thousands in the Gaza Massacre before his inaugu-coronation. This is no different. The seldom censored U.S. veep Joe Biden, on the other hand, acknowledges there’s “an awful lot of doubt” surrounding the election. (Sayyid)
The Obama Administration is “deeply troubled by the reports of violent arrests and possible voting irregularities” in Iran following its presidential election. Roula Khalaf and Najmeh Bozorgmehr accurately describe Mir-Hossein Moussavi as “the symbol of an angry, and surprisingly determined opposition movement”. A brave, young supporter of Mr. Mousavi, Amir Sadeghi, has taken and posted some truly amazing photographs in Tehran over the last few days covering the protests as an activist. His site was banned in Iran over the weekend. On the NYT blog, Robert Mackey posted a request for pictures relating to the Iran election last Thursday. I sent the link to Mr. Sadeghi.
“Iran’s Election: None of America’s Business” by Justin Raimondo (AntiWar.com): “The U.S. government – or, at least, one branch of it – didn’t help matters much. Their fast-tracking of draconian new sanctions on Iran right before Iranians went to the polls could only have helped Ahmadinejad. How’s that for timing?”
“Official” interior ministry results are posted on the Guardian here.
Tweets containing the #iranelections hashtag are reportedly being blocked in Iran. Use #iran9 and #gr88 in your tweets and refrain from RT’ing with your Iranian source’s username. RT with “RT from Iran” or RT “anon”. The hashtag block is a rumor, but hell #iran9 and #gr88 are shorter and you only have 140 characters if you’re low on space in a tweet, right? Changing your Twitter location to Tehran and your time zone to GMT+3:30 is a help to the bloggers over there to keep them communicating and safe.
“Washington’s Afghan Shadow Army” by Jeremy Scahill (AntiWar.com) is a great article on the U.S. use of private contractors in Iraq based on a report released last week showing waste, fraud, and abuse in military spending.
“The documents released today provide further evidence of brutal torture and abuse in the CIA’s interrogation program and demonstrate beyond doubt that this information has been suppressed solely to avoid embarrassment and growing demands for accountability,” said Ben Wizner of the ACLU. The highly redacted documents can be viewed here. (h/t: The Raw Story)
Glenn Greenwald comments on the ongoing coverup of torture photos with Rachel Maddow’s interview with Mr. Wizner.
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed has told U.S. military officials that he lied to CIA interrogators due to torture.
“The Obama Officials Blocking Accountability for Bush Crimes” by Glenn Greenwald (Salon): “Ultimately, there is a real irony to the Obama administration’s active, concerted efforts to prevent accountability for past crimes: namely, the greater the suppression efforts, the greater the focus on past Bush abuses will be, since evidence of Bush crimes will seep out slowly and in increments, and there will be constant controversies concerning the Obama administration’s suppression efforts themselves (as can be seen with his continuous invocation of the “state secrets” privilege to keep torture and eavesdropping victims out of court; the pressure exerted on Britain to do the same; and his extraordinary efforts to suppress photographic evidence of detainee abuse).”
“Obama Must Prosecute Bush-Era Torture Enablers” by Larry Cox of Amnesty International (CSM). Mr. Cox lays out the precedence for prosecution in international law and cases overseas.
U.S. special envoy to the Persian Gulf and Southwest Asia, Dennis Ross, will be re-assigned by the Obama Administration after the release of a book which promotes diplomacy with Iran as a propaganda tool to “easier sell” a military strike, reports Barak Rivid. Iran has also refused to sit with Mr. Ross because of his direct involvement in the Israel Lobby movement in the U.S. What post Mr. Ross will hold is unsure. This neo-con, Clintonite, Establishment punk isn’t going away, though.
Kai Eide, the U.N. chief to the Afghanistan mission has described an “urgent need to review” the Special Operations raids that are “disproportionate to the military gains”. A U.S. led air strike in Farah province recently killed as many as 147 civilians. The Pentagon is “reconsidering” its pledge to make the probe into that strike public. Afghan President Hamid Karzai has been speaking out against these civilian killings, most recently with the U.S.’s new commander of the war, Gen. Stanley McChrystal.
The U.S. Marine Corps in Iraq will be moved to Afghanistan by the spring of 2010. There are an estimated 133,000 U.S. troops in Iraq.
Two al Jazeera (AJ) producers, Qais Azimy and Hameedullah Shah, were detained in Afghanistan. AJ’s Kabul correspondent has “repeatedly tried to find out exactly what happened”, but is in an “information vacuum”, adding: “We don’t know why they’ve been taken. We don’t know what they’ve been charged with, if they’ve been charged at all. We don’t know why they’re being interrogated, if indeed they’re being interrogated.” AJ is calling for the producers’ “immediate release”. Afghan electioneering begins tomorrow. 41 candidates have been named.
U.K. Prime Minister Gordon Brown has announced a private “independent” inquiry into the U.K.’s involvement in the U.S. Iraq invasion in 2003. This follows a large call for Mr. Brown to resign.
“Peace Talk Without Peace Vision” by Jerrold Kessel and Pierre Klochendler (IPS) is a must-read analysis of Israel PM Bibi Netanyahu’s speech at Bar Ilan calling for a ‘demilitarized Palestinian state‘.
“Netanyahu Offer a ‘Big Zero'” by Mel Frykberg (IPS) covers Palestinian reaction to Mr. Netanyahu’s speech
“On Israeli Settlements, Obama Echoes his Predecessors” by Joel Brinkley (McClatchy): “Why can’t the president of the United States, who authorizes an annual gift to Israel of at least $3 billion, persuade any Israeli government – left, right or centrist – to stop building settlements? The settlements violate international law, and Israel has agreed, more than once, to freeze settlement growth. The European Union, the United Nations and many other individual states have all inveighed against settlements. No other nation anywhere in the world endorses Israel’s settlement policy. In fact, the majority of Israelis disapprove of continued settlement expansion. And so it has always been.”
Pres. Obama saw a “positive movement” in Mr. Netanyahu’s call for a demilitarized Palestinian state. Regarding settlements, the president continued: “The parties on the ground understand that if you have a continuation of settlements that, in past agreements, have been categorised as illegal, that’s going to be an impediment to progress.” A state with no military isn’t a state. A ‘demilitarized state’ with territories financed and secured by a foreign government and its military is still a colonial occupation. Where’s this positive movement. Mr. Netanyahu called for what exists right now to exist in the future. Mr. Netanyahu also called for Israel to be recognized as a “Jewish State”. The Newspeak around this line is astoundingly ignorant. It isn’t that Palestinians reject Israel’s statehood. Arabs in Israel don’t want to be second-class citizens by law and Fmr. U.S. Pres. Jimmy Carter cited a poll recently saying 81% of Palestinians reject a religious government of any sort in a pretty great interview with Akiva Eldar. (Sayyid)
“Netanyahu’s speech closed the door to permanent status negotiations,” said the Palestinians’ primary diplomat Saeb Erekat. “”We ask the world not to be fooled by his use of the term Palestinian state because he qualified it. He declared Jerusalem the capital of Israel, said refugees would not be negotiated and that settlements would remain.”
“He wants to substitute a Palestinian state for a ghetto with no sovereignty, with no control of its land, of its resources, of its passage, of its roads, of its airspace, of its borders,” said Palestinian MP Mustafa Barghouti. “This is a game, he just used the word state to mislead the world.”
“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said just about nothing in his much awaited foreign policy speech,” Aliyana Traison of Ha’aretz commented. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said the speech was “flawed and lacks many elements”.
“Stop Demolishing Palestinian Homes” is the title of Human Rights Watch’s open letter to Israel last week followed by Jerrold Kessel and Pierre Klochendler’s article, “Israel Tightens Stranglehold in East Jerusalem” gives a look into Israel’s “master plan” for further colonization.
Gideon Levy called this speech “a large step for Netanyahu”. I normally have a large amount of respect for Mr. Levy and his work, but this response is ignorant to political reality and the reality of the conditions which he spells out in this same article and in many others of what the Israeli government is doing to the Palestinian people. Simply mentioning being open to a Palestinian state (as Mr. Netanyahu did) is not the same as even hinting toward ending Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories (which Mr. Netanyahu did not). (Little Alex)
The full text of Mr. Netanyahu’s speech is here.
Two Palestinian journalists were sentenced to two months in an Israeli jail for reporting the Gaza Massacre. Can we please stop calling Israel “the only democracy in the region,” please? Israel is still committing air strikes on Gaza.
Many injuries and detentions are reported in Georgia as police use force to end opposition protests calling on President Milkhail Saakshvili to resign. Protests have lasted for months. Leaked documents from an E.U. probe condemn the president for his invasion of South Ossetia that started the Five Day War with Russia last August. AntiWar Radio host Scott Horton did a great segment on Georgia last month posted here.
Russia vetoed extending the U.N. mission in Georgia on two grounds: (1) It does not recognize the autonomy of Abkhazia and (2) the initial resolution was passed before the Five Day War, after which Abkhazia and South Ossetia declared independence and was recognized as such by Russia. The five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council (the U.S., U.K., China, Russia, and France known as the “P5″) have veto power of all Security Council resolutions.
North Korea (DPRK) will “weaponise all plutonium extracted from spent fuel rods and that it would start to enrich uranium, as it had threatened to in April” in response to the U.N. sanctions imposed last Friday, reports Christian Oliver. The U.S. “will order the Navy to hail and request permission to inspect North Korean ships at sea suspected of carrying arms or nuclear technology, but will not board them by force” which the DPRK “would regard as an act of war… [O]ne official said the administration was told by their Chinese counterparts that China ‘would not have signed on to this resolution unless they intended to enforce it’,” reports David Sanger.
The Tamil Tigers (LTTE) are forming a “provisional transitional government“ as the Sri Lanka government continues to celebrate displacing 250,000+ people and plundering hospitals to end its decades-old war with the separatists. The LTTE’s propaganda wing has released a very detailed statement condemning existing bodies of global power.
U.S. healthcare program floating around Congress could cost $1tn over ten years (2010-19). Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND) is calling for healthcare cooperatives. I don’t know much about this, but that’s kinda’ what health insurance is: a cooperative where cost and service is voluntarily collectivized. I can’t judge Mr. Conrad’s suggestion, not knowing anything about it and I assume these are localized coercive collectives, as opposed to voluntary organization among communities or nonprofit organizations as I’ve been promoting for years. All I see now is Fmr. Gov. Howard Dean shooting it down and it was briefly mentioned on George Stephanopolous’s Sunday morning show. (Little Alex)
Nicholas Kristof supports decriminalizing drugs in this Sunday’s NYT like a total pussy — typical consequentialist gradualism garbage saying “we need to be less ideological and more empirical” about drugs. Mr. Kristof still supports sticking guns in people’s faces for doing drugs in supporting experimental “liberalization” of drug laws — suggesting “a state or two… experiment with legalization of marijuana, allowing it to be sold by licensed pharmacists” and stick guns in everyone’s face who doesn’t have a license. Mr. Kristof is a total joke — regurgitating the intelligentsia’s version of “moderation”. If you’re gettin’ empirical wit’ it, you don’t moderate a violent injustice. You get rid of it. I rant-posted a similar comment to Mr. Kristof’s NYT blog. My comment on the AC360 blog (7th from the top) asking the stupid “Is There a Case for Medical Marijuana?” question [sic] concisely stated: “There’s an even better case for not shooting or threatening to shoot people for any action which doesn’t initiate force on someone else. Drug legislation is nothing more than the government saying, ‘If we catch you using drugs, we’ll kidnap you. If you resist the kidnapping, we’ll shoot you.'” (Little Alex)