It’s a beautiful autumn day here in New Orleans. Many of us are voting early to ensure David Vitter’s political career ends this month. There are some interesting dynamics this election cycle. There’s only so much craziness allowed in the Republican Party by the moneyed interested before they start closing down the monkey house that’s become much of the local structure and grass roots. The base and the establishment couldn’t be more at odds. There is real concern that the Trump flame isn’t burning out. Last cycle, they were able to bring the insipid Mitt Romney through the process only to lose big time to the President. They also managed to hoist Dubya Bush on us at a cost of blood and treasure. Nixon really burned the house down. The Southern Strategy has really come back to haunt them.
There are some interesting articles up today analyzing various topics. The first is from WAPO and deals with establishment panic over Donald Trump.
Less than three months before the kickoff Iowa caucuses, there is growing anxiety bordering on panic among Republican elites about the dominance and durability of Donald Trump and Ben Carson and widespread bewilderment over how to defeat them.
Party leaders and donors fear that nominating either man would have negative ramifications for the GOP ticket up and down the ballot, virtually ensuring a Hillary Rodham Clinton presidency and increasing the odds that the Senate falls into Democratic hands.
The party establishment is paralyzed. Big money is still on the sidelines. No consensus alternative to the outsiders has emerged from the pack of governors and senators running, and there is disagreement about how to prosecute the case against them. Recent focus groups of Trump supporters in Iowa and New Hampshire commissioned by rival campaigns revealed no silver bullet.
In normal times, the way forward would be obvious. The wannabes would launch concerted campaigns, including television attack ads, against the front-runners. But even if the other candidates had a sense of what might work this year, it is unclear whether it would ultimately accrue to their benefit. Trump’s counterpunches have been withering, while Carson’s appeal to the base is spiritual, not merely political. If someone was able to do significant damage to them, there’s no telling to whom their supporters would turn, if anyone.
Trump gave an epic rant on Carson and dumb Iowans in Fort Dodge which has really sent the money crowd off the edge. Carson’s response today is to pray for Trump. What kind of people find either of these guys even attractive as human beings let alone potential presidents?
Ben Carson apparently had a simple response to rival Donald Trump after the real-estate mogul savaged Carson during a Thursday-night stump speech.
“Pray for him,” Carson said, according his business manager Armstrong Williams’ Friday account to CNN.
Williams, who often acts as a Carson surrogate, further lashed into Trump.
“It is so immature,” Williams said. “It is so embarrassing. I feel so sorry for him.”
The day before, Trump launched a no-holds-barred assault against Carson, his top rival in the GOP primary.
Those attacks included Trump doubling down on his comparison of what he has called Carson’s incurable “pathological temper” to child molesters, while at the same time questioning Carson’s account of his violent childhood incidents. This all occurred during a 95-minute speech in Fort Dodge, Iowa.
“How stupid are the people of Iowa? How stupid are the people of the country to believe this crap?” Trump asked his supporters of Carson’s stories.
Trump characterized Carson’s lying as “pathological and akin to child molester’s who can’t be cured. Can you believe this is the level of discourse we’ve come to? Can any of them even talk about a policy that’s remotely good and realistic for the country?
Meanwhile, we’re finally getting some good old fashion press attention to the behavior of the Bush administration prior to the 9/11 attacks. They were all on vacation when a series of warnings crossed their desks. When can we actually get some justice on what they did to this country? This is even from Tiger Beat on the Potomac so will it get enough attention to start the main stream media to focus on the lies to the Iraq War and the intelligence that was ignored or made up at that time?
Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.” The CIA’s famous Presidential Daily Brief, presented to George W. Bush on August 6, 2001, has always been Exhibit A in the case that his administration shrugged off warnings of an Al Qaeda attack. But months earlier, starting in the spring of 2001, the CIA repeatedly and urgently began to warn the White House that an attack was coming.
By May of 2001, says Cofer Black, then chief of the CIA’s counterterrorism center, “it was very evident that we were going to be struck, we were gonna be struck hard and lots of Americans were going to die.” “There were real plots being manifested,” Cofer’s former boss, George Tenet, told me in his first interview in eight years. “The world felt like it was on the edge of eruption. In this time period of June and July, the threat continues to rise. Terrorists were disappearing [as if in hiding, in preparation for an attack]. Camps were closing. Threat reportings on the rise.” The crisis came to a head on July 10. The critical meeting that took place that day was first reported by Bob Woodward in 2006. Tenet also wrote about it in general terms in his 2007 memoir At the Center of the Storm.
But neither he nor Black has spoken about it publicly in such detail until now—or been so emphatic about how specific and pressing their warnings really were. Over the past eight months, in more than a hundred hours of interviews, my partners Jules and Gedeon Naudet and I talked with Tenet and the 11 other living former CIA directors for The Spymasters, a documentary set to air this month on Showtime.
The drama of failed warnings began when Tenet and Black pitched a plan, in the spring of 2001, called “the Blue Sky paper” to Bush’s new national security team. It called for a covert CIA and military campaign to end the Al Qaeda threat—“getting into the Afghan sanctuary, launching a paramilitary operation, creating a bridge with Uzbekistan.” “And the word back,” says Tenet, “‘was ‘we’re not quite ready to consider this. We don’t want the clock to start ticking.’” (Translation: they did not want a paper trail to show that they’d been warned.) Black, a charismatic ex-operative who had helped the French arrest the terrorist known as Carlos the Jackal, says the Bush team just didn’t get the new threat: “I think they were mentally stuck back eight years [before]. They were used to terrorists being Euro-lefties—they drink champagne by night, blow things up during the day, how bad can this be? And it was a very difficult sell to communicate the urgency to this.”
That morning of July 10, the head of the agency’s Al Qaeda unit, Richard Blee, burst into Black’s office. “And he says, ‘Chief, this is it. Roof’s fallen in,’” recounts Black. “The information that we had compiled was absolutely compelling. It was multiple-sourced. And it was sort of the last straw.” Black and his deputy rushed to the director’s office to brief Tenet. All agreed an urgent meeting at the White House was needed. Tenet picked up the white phone to Bush’s National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice. “I said, ‘Condi, I have to come see you,’” Tenet remembers. “It was one of the rare times in my seven years as director where I said, ‘I have to come see you. We’re comin’ right now. We have to get there.’”
Tenet vividly recalls the White House meeting with Rice and her team. (George W. Bush was on a trip to Boston.) “Rich [Blee] started by saying, ‘There will be significant terrorist attacks against the United States in the coming weeks or months. The attacks will be spectacular. They may be multiple. Al Qaeda’s intention is the destruction of the United States.’” [Condi said:] ‘What do you think we need to do?’ Black responded by slamming his fist on the table, and saying, ‘We need to go on a wartime footing now!’”
“What happened?” I ask Cofer Black. “Yeah. What did happen?” he replies. “To me it remains incomprehensible still. I mean, how is it that you could warn senior people so many times and nothing actually happened? It’s kind of like The Twilight Zone.” Remarkably, in her memoir, Condi Rice writes of the July 10 warnings: “My recollection of the meeting is not very crisp because we were discussing the threat every day.” Having raised threat levels for U.S. personnel overseas, she adds: “I thought we were doing what needed to be done.” (When I asked whether she had any further response to the comments that Tenet, Black and others made to me, her chief of staff said she stands by the account in her memoir.) Inexplicably, although Tenet brought up this meeting in his closed-door testimony before the 9/11 Commission, it was never mentioned in the committee’s final report.
And there was one more chilling warning to come. At the end of July, Tenet and his deputies gathered in the director’s conference room at CIA headquarters. “We were just thinking about all of this and trying to figure out how this attack might occur,” he recalls. “And I’ll never forget this until the day I die. Rich Blee looked at everybody and said, ‘They’re coming here.’ And the silence that followed was deafening. You could feel the oxygen come out of the room. ‘They’re coming here.’”
It’s amazing to me that major failures of policy by Republican administrations never seem to matter to any one as long as the money keeps funneling its way up to the rich and they can keep their base stupid and angry. The deal is that I truly believe that behavior is backfiring on them finally during this election cycle. It’s bad enough that we suffered through the Reagan years and they were characterized quite differently and that so many people believe the hype and not the reality apparent in the facts. My hope is that entangling the neocon policy will bring about a higher realization since so many Americans died as a result. However, look at the Republican Field. We have folks that are either totally clueless on the entire foreign area. For example, Ben Carson actually stated in the last debate that China was active in the Middle East which is not the least bit true. The other side is Jeb and the like who come with the same advisers as Dubya. How can any of this be representative of one of the two parties seeking leadership of the world’s only superpower?
The Blog “The Progressive Professor” discusses how we’ve gone from a place where the Republicans were perceived as the party most knowledgeable and able when it comes to foreign policy to the party that is completely clueless and inept. This should be worrisome to both the American Electorate and the world.
It used to be that the Republican Party had candidates who had a reputation for foreign policy expertise, including Richard Nixon and George H. W. Bush.
Now, we have Rand Paul, representing the isolationist viewpoint; and the viewpoint of the neoconservatives, which includes just about everyone else, all who have apparently learned nothing from the disastrous policies of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. They want to commit US military forces to another war, but of course give not a care to veterans once they come home from war, often wounded physically and mentally by their experience.
And some have not a clue as to what is going on in foreign policy, demonstrating unbelievable ignorance, particularly Dr. Benjamin Carson and Donald Trump.
As this blogger has stated many times in the past few years, in the 2012 election cycle, ONLY Jon Huntsman had any legitimate background in foreign policy; and in the 2016 election cycle, only John Kasich demonstrates any experience in foreign policy, although inferior to that of Huntsman.
One may criticize Barack Obama in some areas of foreign policy, but his top aides and advisers on this have included Vice President Joe Biden, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and present Secretary of State John Kerry. Many would criticize all of them, but in comparison to the Republican camp, they are people of experience and awareness of the complex world we live in!
Donald Trump went as far as to state that Russia was going after ISIL when in fact, Russia has been attacking the anti-Assad Forces supported by the US and allies This article is from the Times of London and clearly illustrates that the Russians are not on our side no matter how much The Donald and The Carly want to brag about their green room romps with Putin.
• Iran was on Thursday night moving up its ground forces in Syria in preparation for an attack to reclaim rebel-held territory under the cover of Russian air strikes, according to sources close to Damascus. Hizbollah, the Lebanese Shia militia which has come to the Assad regime’s rescue in battle-fronts across the country in the past two years, is being prepared to capitalise on the strikes, a Syrian figure close to the regime told The Telegraph
• Sources in Lebanon told Reuters that Iran, which is the main sponsor and tactical adviser to Hizbollah, was sending in hundreds of its own troops to reinforce them. Iran made no comment on the claims but Josh Earnest, the White House spokesman, said the move would be an “apt and powerful illustration” that Russia’s military actions had worsened the conflict.
• A Hizbollah-backed advance would fit the pattern of Russian air-strikes, which have predominantly targeted those rebels not aligned to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant who currently present the gravest threat on the ground to core regime territory.
• The long-term aim would be to defeat or demoralise the non-Isil opposition, so that Isil became the regime’s only enemy. That would force the West to back President Bashar al-Assad against it. “They want to clean the country of non-Isil rebels, and then the US will work with them as Isil will be the only enemy,” the Damascus source said.
But the most amusing category belongs to politicians who defend bogus claims by citing secret evidence that only they have access to. As Rachel noted on the show last night, this comes up more often than it should.
Rep. Duncan Hunter Jr. (R-Calif.), for example, claimed last year to have secret information about ISIS fighters getting caught entering the United States through Mexico, which never happened in reality. Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) claimed to have secret evidence that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, which is the exact opposite of the truth.
And then there’s Ben Carson, who claimed this week that China has deployed troops to Syria, despite the fact that China has not deployed troops to Syria. Yesterday, Armstrong Williams, a top Carson campaign aide, defended the claim by pointing to – you guessed it – secret intelligence. Here was the exchange between Williams and MSNBC’s Tamron Hall:
WILLIAMS: Well, Tamron, from your perspective and what most people know, maybe that is inaccurate, but from my intelligence and what Dr. Carson`s been told by people on the ground involved in that area of the world, it has been told to him many times over and over that the Chinese are there. But as far as our intelligence and the briefings that Dr. Carson`s been in, and I`ve certainly been in with him, he`s certainly been told that the Chinese are there.
Last month, the retired right-wing neurosurgeon claimed Russian President Vladimir Putin, Iran Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, and Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas all went to college together. When told that didn’t make any sense, Carson insisted he’s talked to “various people” who’ve provided him with unique insights.
You can follow the link to a snippet from Maddow’s show that discusses some absolute bizarre comments from Carson. This includes a really bizarre CBN interview about ties between those three leaders as some kind of dormmates at the same university and that he has secret sources.
So, the question being discussed across coffee at my house is who the hell is supporting these guys and wtf is wrong with them? I’m no psychologist, but what causes a person to go gaga over a pathological liar and a malignant narcissist to the point of thinking they should be president? Why do so many Republicans want Ben Carson in office? (I need to add that this discussion is held between two former Republicans. My friend is a very recent addition to my reformed republican club which I formed 20 years ago having decided that the absolute craziness over gay marriage and adoption was the most bigoted and hateful thing she’d ever seen.)
Here’s some analysis of a poll done by ABC.
Respondents saw Carson’s lack of experience in politics as a strength, not a weakness. Like other Carson supporters we interviewed, Karen Mihalic, 61, loves that the neurosurgeon’s “not like your typical politician.”
“I don’t think politicians are really in tune with the rest of America and what we need,” Mihalic said. “We need someone to shake things up down there.”
Don, 30, who declined to give his last name, said he doesn’t see a difference between Carson’s experience in politics and that of President Obama.
Jeanne Blando, 71, agreed.
“I think Carson will be much more effective than the president we have now,” Blando said.
Carson’s values are important.
But why not support fellow outsider Donald Trump instead? For Blando, it’s all about Carson’s values.
“I love Trump because he says what he thinks, but that won’t work for governing,” Blando said.
Jesse Varoz, 28, called Carson an “upstanding guy.” Richard Medina, 69, said Carson was “truly honest and someone I can depend on.”
“If you listen to [Carson] speak, he thinks about what he’s gonna say, while other candidates do not,” Medina said.
Ignorance is not only bliss, it’s evidently a very attractive and powerful opiate of a good portion of the masses.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
Morning, Afternoon, Evening…ugh.
(That this post is getting published, finally, is something in itself. I don’t know why, lack of motivation or enthusiasm…)
The images for today are hands used in political posters. I’ve gotten them from board on Pinterest: Affiche/Main – Poster/Hand on Pinterest | 1352 Pins
For a discussion on the use and symbolism of the fist in propaganda, take a look at this article from Lincoln Cushing:
A persistent symbol of resistance and unity, the clenched fist (or raised fist) is part of the broader genre of “hand” symbols that include the peace “V,” the forward-thrust-fist, and the clasped hands. The clenched fist usually appears in full frontal display showing all fingers and is occasionally integrated with other images such as a peace symbol or tool.
The human hand has been used in art from the very beginnings, starting with stunning examples in Neolithic cave paintings. Early examples of the fist in graphic art can be found at least as far back as 1917 , with another example from Mexico in 1948 . Fist images, in some form, were used in numerous political graphic genres, including the French and Soviet revolutions, the United States Communist Party, and the Black Panther Party for Self-defense. However, these all followed an iconographic convention. The fist was always part of something – holding a tool or other symbol, part of an arm or human figure, or shown in action (smashing, etc.).
Then there are a few other articles to look at here:
The fist of protest has its roots in the deep traditions of revolutionary imagery of 1848 and French Romantic painting. It became a staple of banners and logos of unions and political parties. Raised out of the crowd, the fist clenched in strength, anger and determination could serve groups of almost any ideological stripe.
If some of you have access to JSTOR: JSTOR: Journal of Design History, Vol. 13, No. 4 (2000), pp. 319-339
This article focuses on the use of graphic signs in the political struggle between the National Socialist German Workers’ Party and the German Communist Party during the 1920s. It first examines the Nazi swastika’s relationships to a new ‘abstract and primitive’ style of trademark design that emerged in Germany during the First World War and to a discussion during 1919-20 about the Weimar Republic’s new emblem.
As the NSDAP’s sign grew more prominent in public discourse, John Heartfield, who was trained as a graphic designer, sought to counter it through satire and emblems that he designed for the KPD. The most powerful of the latter were a series of images in 1928 based on photographs of workers’ hands, which drew both on past emblems of worker solidarity and recent Surrealist photography. The clenched fist soon stood opposite the swastika as signs of the violent political struggle between left and right that marked the last years of the Weimar Republic. The article explores how practices of commercial graphic design became instruments of mass politics during the 1920s.
To see more posters:
I’ll connect the hand gestures to a situation that is getting heated in Egypt today.
Astute observers of recent pro-Morsi protests in Egypt will note a new symbol cropping up in photos of the protesting crowds: Demonstrators are now holding four fingers in the air. Many carry yellow posters emblazoned with the same gesture.
This new hand sign refers to the Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque, the site of a violent confrontation between Morsi’s followers and the Egyptian army. Reported deaths from the clash range from hundreds to thousands of Muslim Brotherhood supporters. In Arabic, “Rabba” means “four” or “the fourth;” hence the new Rabaa symbol.
The new hand sign is important because it signals both a conscious shift in the Muslim Brotherhood’s focus from a global audience to an Arabic one and a rejection of the ideals of the Arab Spring.
The Rabaa replaced a more recognizable sign in the Arab world: the two-fingered “V for Victory” salute, a gesture that transcends language and nationality. Many Americans know of the V as the peace sign after its widespread use by the anti-war and counterculture movements of the late 1960s and 1970s. Invented by the BBC in World War II as a pan-Allied propaganda campaign — think a cigar-smoking, pinstripe-wearing Winston Churchill flashing the V and a grin — the sign came to the Arab world when Yasser Arafat popularized it in 1969. To this day, Palestinians have exhibited a two-fingered V upon their release from Israeli jails, and the sign is well represented at rallies in Gaza.
Now to the links for this Sunday:
A mess in Egypt as the anniversary of the revolution comes around:
On the eve of the 4th anniversary of the Egypt’s 2011 uprising, which was part of the Arab Spring, and which ultimately forced the overthrow of long-time dictator Hosni Mubarak, a female protester and reported journalist was shot by police near Tahir Square in Cairo.
Shaima Sabbagh was shot with birdshot as she was marching in remembrance of the Arab Spring and of the people killed during the revolution. She was shot at close range. Several people caught images of al-Sabbagh both before and after the shooting. Beware, they’re heartbreaking. After Shaima was shot – her husband was arrested and their four-year-old son is without parents.
The AP is reporting 15 killed:
However that number has risen according to Al-Jam:
Thousands of Egyptian protesters chanted “down with the military and the regime” and “Interior Ministry are thugs” at a funeral on Sunday for a young mother and activist who was shot dead by security forces during a peaceful protest marking the fourth anniversary of Egypt’s Arab Spring revolution, according to local media reports.
Shaimaa al-Sabbagh, 32, was one of at least 20 people killed during protests over the weekend across Egypt, mainly in Cairo and Alexandria, commemorating the Jan. 25, 2011 ouster of former president Hosni Mubarak from office, according to the Ministry of Health.
The funeral took place in Alexandria, Sabbagh’s hometown, where activists remembered the slain protester as an advocate for labor rights and children, independent daily Al-Shorouk reported.
Sabbagh was among dozens of protesters marching on Saturday to Cairo’s Tahrir Square, the symbolic heart of the revolution, to place wreaths of flowers there to commemorate more than 800 people killed during the 18 days of turmoil that sought to usher in a new era of democracy in Egypt.
Some disturbing images at those links.
This next link about the reaction to Boehner’s outright “fuck you” to the President and protocol: Addicting Info – Fox News Actually Expresses Shock And Outrage Over Boehner And Netanyahu Undermining President Obama (VIDEO)
On Friday, the world watched in disbelief as Fox News actually defended the honor and office of President Obama in the wake of Speaker Boehner violating US protocol by inviting Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to speak to Congress. In other news, pigs are flying.
During a segment on Fox, host Shepard Smith discussed the scandal with fellow host Chris Wallace, and both men were absolutely shocked and outraged by the actions of the top Republican in the House of Representatives.
On Wednesday, Boehner announced that he invited Benjamin Netanyahu to speak to a joint session of Congress. The problem is that Boehner did this without clearing the invitation with the White House, which is protocol.
“The protocol would suggest that the leader of one country would contact the leader of another country when he’s traveling there. This particular event seems to be a departure from that protocol,” said press secretary Josh Earnest.
Furthermore, Netanyahu is specifically going to speak to Congress in an effort to trash Obama’s foreign policy in a deliberate attempt to wreck US nuclear negotiations with Iran, negotiations which a majority of Americans support.
You see, President Obama wants to use diplomacy to ease tensions between Iran, Israel, and the United States. That means securing an agreement that prevents Iran from developing a nuclear weapon while allowing them to use nuclear power as another source of energy in the Middle Eastern nation. But Republicans are literally trying to sabotage these efforts by seeking more harsh sanctions against Iran, which would be seen an act of American aggression at a time when the State Department and White House are seeking mutual peace.
Well, I would not go so far as to call this completely shocking, as it was Shep who called Boehner out. Y’all know he is the Black Sheep of the network.
For more on Israel, not just the Boehner invite.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defended on Sunday a planned speech to the U.S. Congress about Iran, saying he had a moral obligation to speak out on an issue that poses a mortal threat to Israel.
His visit to Washington in March has opened up a rift with the White House and has drawn accusations in Israel that Netanyahu is undermining the country’s core foreign alliance in an effort to win an election due two weeks after the trip.
Briefing his cabinet on the March 3 speech to a joint meeting of Congress, Netanyahu said his priority was to urge the United States and other powers not to negotiate an Iranian nuclear deal that might endanger Israel.
Suzie Madrak makes a huge point here:
Gee, when people offered to send slaves back to Africa, we called that racist.
And flowing into this news:
Leaders of Jewish communities and Holocaust memorial groups in Britain and the Netherlands have reacted with rage and despair at the arrival in Rotterdam of the world’s biggest ship, the Pieter Schelte, named after a Dutch officer in the Waffen-SS.
The vice-president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, Jonathan Arkush, said: “Naming such a ship after an SS officer who was convicted of war crimes is an insult to the millions who suffered and died at the hands of the Nazis. We urge the ship’s owners to reconsider and rename the ship after someone more appropriate.”
Esther Voet, director of the Centre for Information and Documentation on Israel (Cidi), based in The Hague, said that the timing of the ship’s arrival, shortly before Jews were targeted and killed in Paris and the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, was “a coincidence, I’m sure, but a sign of the times. We lost our battle to have the ship’s name changed, and we are left eating dust.”
Survivors of the Holocaust in Britain also spoke out. Ruth Barnett, a tireless campaigner who arrived from Nazi Germany as part of the Kindertransport, said: “I am outraged by the intensity and extent of denial and indifference that fails to challenge things like this ship, and allows the impunity for perpetrators to think they can get away with it.”
The London-based Lloyd’s Register dug in to defend its role in the ship’s building and development, while the shipbuilder said it had been named in honour of the owner’s father for his “great achievements in the offshore oil and gas industry”.
Read the rest of that story at the link, especially the bullet points… it is obvious that the ship’s name is something that could be seen as a slight. (To say the least.)
There is an op/ed over at the New York Times that should give you all pause…When Calculus of Loss Doesn’t Add Up – NYTimes.com
Joseph Kahn, The Times’s top-ranking editor for international news, told me that the Paris and Nigeria stories aren’t comparable. “These were totally different challenges,” he said, with the former happening in a major Western capital where The Times has a substantial staff.
He, and others, spoke of the difficulty of covering the Boko Haram story because of its remote location, the problems of verification, and the questions hanging over early reports. While Amnesty International was reporting as many as 2,000 dead, he told me, some trusted experts were cautioning against using the number. The Times needed to verify what had happened, something best done on the ground. But getting there is both difficult and time-consuming.
In retrospect, Mr. Kahn said, a story about the controversy over the numbers would have been one way to provide early and meaningful coverage — informing readers without falling prey to overstating what had happened. Such a story, especially if it had been prominently displayed and published quickly, would have been a valuable way to be transparent with readers about what The Times knew and what it didn’t know.
Mr. Kahn also said that while the Paris attack had an intense and short news arc, the Boko Haram story would continue and that The Times would keep covering it with commitment. The editor on the International Desk who handles Africa coverage, Greg Winter, told me last week that Mr. Nossiter (who has also been a leading reporter on the Ebola story) was in Nigeria again working on a major Boko Haram piece.
“I understand readers’ concerns about covering Nigeria, and I share them, which is why our correspondent has risked his life for years to cover the country and the turmoil in the north,” Mr. Winter said.
I asked Mr. Kahn how, in general, the numbers of violent deaths figure into editorial decisions. “We don’t cover everything equally,” he said. “It goes to gut news judgment, as we ask: ‘Is this a big deal? Are we going to deploy someone?’ ” Among the factors: “The circumstances, how unusual it is, the location, the relevance to American interests.”
And, he said, The Times has to be careful not to overreport violent death.
“Not every incident of carnage is a major story for The New York Times. You have to put it in context, and not fill the news report with unlimited doses of terrible violent news from around the world.”
I agree. I have no objection to the extent of the Paris coverage. But whatever the calculus of news judgments, these lost Nigerian lives surely were worthy of The Times’s immediate, as well as its continuing, attention.
Overreport violent death?
And on that note:
Notice, not from the NYT…
And now back to the US:
The following links are dealing with the GOP…and the usual shit.
And while on the subject of coochies:
Police in Florida and officials at St. Mary’s Medical Center in West Palm Beach have agreed not to charge a teenager they caught posing as a doctor.
The South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports police were called Tuesday after a patient alerted staff at the medical center’s OB/GYN office that a juvenile dressed in a lab coat was inside an exam room. The patient said the lab coat had St. Mary’s logo and “anesthesiology” stitched on the front.
A security guard told police he’d seen the teen around the hospital for a month. Another said the teen entered secured areas of the hospital this week.
The teen’s mother told police he’s under the care of a doctor and is not taking his medicine.
On to the Arts…Movies…etc.
And something that will probably make a film one of these days, have you seen this story out of Argentina:
Gosh, what a lot of links for you today, and I’ve got a couple more:
And end with two stories on women, journalism and internet threats.
That’s all folks….
BTW, here is a gallery of images, some of which were not put up in the post here.
Good Morning All
I had completely forgot today was Sunday, and since my laptop is still giving problems…and my new one is not being delivered until Monday, this post is going to be brief.
Images will be from this blog…discarding images, if you have some time go and check that site out.I love the crossed eyes on the knight that is getting hit with the flaming fart…and the sad face on the bonnacon, like he is sorry but he can’t help it…
Now the links:
Weather was the “triggering factor” in the crash of AirAsia flight 8501 with icing likely causing engine damage, Indonesia’s meteorological agency said on Sunday, as bad weather continued to hinder rescue efforts.
The Airbus A320-200 crashed into the Java Sea a week ago carrying 162 people from Indonesia’s second city Surabaya to Singapore, and relief workers are hunting for the “black box” flight data recorders to determine the cause of the crash.
The search teams from several countries including the United States and Russia recovered another body on Sunday, bringing the total to 31.
They also found another major part of the aircraft to add to the four discovered on Saturday but rough seas again forced them to abandon their efforts early.
In other aviation news: Saudi national airline may introduce gender segregation on its flights — RT News
You may remember I linked to a story recently about the delays caused by certain Orthodox Jewish men who refuse to sit next to women passengers on flights out of New York. This is on the other side of the coin…I mean religious coin, if you get what I am saying.
Saudi Arabia’s national airline carrier is planning to introduce gender segregation aboard its flights following complaints from passengers who refused to have random males seated next to their wives, the Kingdom’s media report.
Airline company Saudia will order its staff to keep men and women separated onboard, unless they are close relatives, the Emirates247 news website reported.
Meanwhile, sticking with the Mideast…North Africa a little longer:
Have you seen this? Egypt warned Amal Clooney she risked arrest | World news | The Guardian
More on this from Juan Cole: Why Egypt’s Threat to Arrest Amal Clooney will hurt its Economy | Informed Comment
Patrick Kingsley of The Guardian reported on Friday that Amal Clooney was threatened with jail by Egyptian authorities last February if she released a report in Cairo on flaws in the Egyptian judiciary that had been commissioned by the International Bar Association. The report is available on the Web here.
Significant elements of the Egyptian judiciary are obviously arbitrary, conspiratorial to the point of paranoia, and a complete mess, as demonstrated by the opposite verdicts reached in the two cases against former dictator Hosni Mubarak; in the mass executions of Muslim Brothers ordered by a notorious provincial hanging judge; by the jailing of Aljazeera and other journalists for reporting the news; and by the jailing of protesters for protesting (the hero of 2011, Ahmad Maher of the April 6 Youth, among many others, is in jail for another two years).
Ms. Clooney and her colleagues wrote early last year,
“Three distinct prosecutorial trends are discernible. First, under the short period of military rule that followed the 2011 revolution, more civilians were prosecuted for ‘crimes’ against the military – such as the crime of ‘insulting the military’ – than had ever been prosecuted during 30 years of Mubarak rule. Secondly, under Morsi’s Brotherhood presidency, those who insulted Islam or insulted the President himself were targeted. According to some sources, the number of prosecutions brought for ‘insulting the president’ in the Morsi period exceeded the number of such prosecutions brought over three decades under Mubarak and the number of persons who were sentenced to imprisonment for insulting Islam also increased dramatically. Finally, in the post-Morsi era during the second half of 2013, a startling number of prosecutions were initiated against Brotherhood figures, including the former President himself, the Brotherhood’s entire senior leadership and thousands of others.
This record of selective prosecutions undermines the potential for a peaceful transition and reconciliation between communities in Egypt, as well as the right to freedom of expression in a new democracy. It is therefore suggested that a transitional justice process be put in place, ideally with international involvement to guarantee independence and impartiality. This would honour the rights of the many victims of serious crimes that have been committed in Egypt and combat impunity for government abuses.”
So she probably wasn’t surprised when they threatened to prosecute her, too.
One reason all this matters, beyond the thuggish threats of arbitrary imprisonment of people for thinking independently, is that Egypt’s judiciary is an obstacle to the country attracting foreign investment.
More at the link.
To think that Clooney’s wife may get more attention then him? hmmmm
Not that I think it is, as the title of this article puts it: The End of Men – Atlantic Mobile
Earlier this year, women became the majority of the workforce for the first time in U.S. history. Most managers are now women too. And for every two men who get a college degree this year, three women will do the same. For years, women’s progress has been cast as a struggle for equality. But what if equality isn’t the end point? What if modern, postindustrial society is simply better suited to women? A report on the unprecedented role reversal now under way— and its vast cultural consequences
Meh, you go and read the article and take it for what it is…it is a long winded piece of…well, it was written back in 2010, I guess the Atlantic felt the time had come to republish it? I don’t know but they had it up at their site as if it was a recent post. The point is, things have gotten worse for women and I feel it ain’t going to get better any time soon.
More than twenty years have passed, but Jonathan Huston still vividly remembers one specific day during his stint as editor of a New Hampshire weekly.
[I was] writing a series on the titans of trash — about racketeering by the nation’s two largest garbage haulers. A lawyer came to my office one day to convey a warning about my latest investigative reporting.
“Jonathan, I hope I don’t open up the pages of the Union Leader one day,” he said, “to read that the editor of a certain weekly newspaper got into his car, turned over the ignition, and got blown sky high.”
“That shall not happen,” I said.
“How can you be so sure?”
“Because I don’t own a car.”
To some extent the specter of violent death hangs over us all, lurking at the edge of consciousness most of the time, perhaps brought into focus by a mass shooting in which victims remind us of our children or friends, or of ourselves. Or maybe we are shaken by a local story about domestic violence, a murder suicide, a drive by, or road rage turned lethal.
For women in particular, the threat never completely disappears. A cartoon that made its way around Facebook underscores the point. On one side a thought bubble above a male figure reads, “What if she gave me a fake number?” On the other, a bubble above a female says, “What if he rapes and kills me?”
Mercifully, for most of us most of the time, the risk of violence seems small and distant. Even so, it can shape how we live. It can make us hesitate to say no. Or yes. It can make us hesitate to stay home alone. Or go out at night.
Or speak our minds.
Fear has the power to paralyze and silence even strong, determined people, which is why threats of violence are such a potent, common, and toxic presence in political discourse. Consequently, it is a wonder, and a gift to us all, when engaged citizens like Jonathan Huston refuse to be silenced.
Threats of violence can be explicit or implied, verbal or behavioral. They can target a single individual like the president, or a class of individuals, like queers. And the intimidation can take many forms: the mob lawyer’s casual comment about a car bomb; an assault weapon slung over a shoulder in a Texas restaurant; a Louisiana law forcing abortion providers to publish their names, addresses and photos; the body of a lynch or rape victim swaying from a tree.
As a psychologist turned writer, I found myself wanting to understand more about what life is like for activists who find themselves living—to borrow a biblical phrase—in the valley of the shadow of death. I wanted to understand also why some of them, instead of backing down decide to lean in. So, I started asking around. One of the first things I learned was how surprisingly many people within two degrees of separation from my own life had dealt with threats of violence at one time or another. The second thing—less surprising—was that staying centered and engaged in the face of even threatening innuendo is far from easy.
Read the rest at the link.
In strange as fuck news: Granite City man finds out what’s been hidden in his arm for 51 years : News
Uh, here’s the kicker…it was a piece of a car, a 1963 Thunderbird turn signal that got stuck in there from an accident years ago.
Anyway, there is a good article however over at the Atlantic about my home state of Georgia: What’s Wrong With Georgia? – Atlantic Mobile
Throughout the economic downturn and subsequent recovery, there have been some usual suspects when it comes to the most pitiful state in monthly unemployment figures.
For awhile, Michigan took the prize for highest unemployment rate in the country, until Nevada knocked it off its perch in May of 2010. Nevada then held the title for most of the next three years, sometimes sharing the honor with California, until it ceded the top (more accurately, the bottom) spot to Rhode Island in December 2013.
But now, as the economy picks up steam, and consumer sentiment rises to its highest levels since 2007, a new state keeps appearing at the top of the unemployment list. Georgia, home to Fortune 500 heavyweights such as Home Depot, UPS, and Coca-Cola, had the highest unemployment rate in the nation in August, September, and October. With a November rate of 7.2 percent, the state was narrowly edged out by Mississippi’s 7.3 percent (December statistics won’t come out until mid-January).
This may seem surprising, since Georgia was named the best state to do business in both 2014 and 2013 by Site Selection magazine, largely because of its workforce-training program and low tax rates. Nathan Deal, the state’s GOP governor, handily won reelection in November against Jimmy Carter’s grandson by speaking about Georgia as a job magnet.
But those who follow the state’s economy say the state’s troubling economic figures are directly related to Georgia’s attempts to paint itself as a good state for corporations.
“This is what a state looks like when you have a hands-off, laissez-faire approach to the economy,” said Michael Wald, a former Bureau of Labor Statistics economist in Atlanta. “Georgia is basically a low-wage, low-tax, low-service state, that’s the approach they’ve been taking for a very long time.”
I found this interesting, Cannonfire-Get the government off our tops!
Are they serious? Oklahoma may soon have a law banning hoodies in public. Apparently, this new piece of legilsation is an extension of an old law against wearing a hood during the commission of a crime — a measure originally designed to make life inconvenient for the KKK.
This is ridiculous. I used to wear a hoodie, during my first winter on the east coast. When you’re a shaven-headed guy with no scarf, a hoodie can be a lifesaver. (My ears get cold, even in summer.) Eventually, I acquired some classier means of staying warm — tuques, hats, scarves, earmuffs, long winter coats.
But dammit, I’ll wear a hoodie if I want to. It’s my right. Besides, they offer cheap warmth.
Interestingly, this measure is taking hold in Oklahoma, which is nobody’s idea of a blue state. How can the Republicans blame government intrusiveness on the Dems?
How the hell can the Republicans pass shit like this continuously, not to mention the crap they pull with women’s right to choose…and still say they are against government interference? We are in for a shitstorm of GOP legislative fuckturds…I am telling you!
Oh, and since I brought up the subject of fuckturds: 2014 LIEBERMAN AWARD WINNER: BOB McCULLOCH | Gin and Tacos
(Editor’s note: The Lieberman Award is given annually to the worst example of a human being over a twelve month period. Click the tag at the end of the post to review past winners.)
Gin and Tacos and its parent company, Nordyne Defense Dynamics, hold very high standards with respect to the final product you see published here four or five times per week. When we say someone is an asshole, we want you the reader to know that we have done our homework and vetted the subject thoroughly. We aren’t going to give you people who are just kind of an asshole. You can rest assured that when we look back at a year and say “This person was an asshole of such magnitude that he defined 2014 with how rotten he is at being human,” the honor is richly deserved and well earned.
St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch is everything wrong with America today, far more so than any cigar stealing Thug or even any trigger happy police officer could ever be. He is old, dying, white America incarnate, struggling mightily to control a country it is no longer capable of understanding and not even willing to try.
Bob McCulloch is every gun-hoarding authoritarian personality type who sees a threat in everything and everyone that does not look and behave like himself. Bob McCulloch is the America that is on its way being demographically irrelevant and is attempting to maintain a position of superiority by dominating the institutions of state power to such an extent that their privileges can never be taken away. You know, like white people did in Apartheid-era South Africa.
Bob McCulloch is your uncle who bitches constantly about big government and taxes while every paycheck he has collected in his life has been from the public teat. He is the public’s mental caricature of an incompetent, corrupt civil servant, so protected and insulated from the repercussions of his professional actions that he is unwilling even to fake giving a shit if you can see how corrupt he is. Bob McCulloch is the old, bitter white people that dot major cities throughout the Rust Belt; everyone young and financially able has left and now he reigns over a poor, crumbling, crime-ridden corpse of a city and it makes him so bitter and angry, despite his job security and material comfort, that all he can do to make himself feel a little better is lash out at people he considers a rung (or two) beneath him on the social ladder.
You need to go read the rest. Y’all know I post links regularly from Gin and Tacos, be sure to check this one out.
There is a series going on now at the National Geographic: On the ‘Grapes of Wrath’ Trail, the Dust Bowl Still Resonates
Retracing the route Steinbeck described in his classic novel 75 years ago, a family finds parallels between today and the ‘Dirty Thirties.’ This is the first of three parts.
“The highway became their home and movement their medium of expression. Little by little they settled into the new life.” —The Grapes of Wrath
In another nostalgic look, this time cartoons: Saturday Morning Cartoons: The Dot and the Line
The 1950s were arguably the most successful decade of animator/director/overall creative genius Chuck Jones’ career: he directed almost two dozen cartoons for the Warner Bros. studio during that period. Eight of these cartoons would eventually be voted to the Jerry Beck-curated 50 Greatest Cartoons list in 1994; four of them–What’s Opera, Doc; Duck Amuck; Duck Dodgers in the 24 1/2 Century; and One Froggy Evening–appear in the top five of that list. In fact, Jones is the most-represented animator on the list–with ten total entries, his work comprises a full TWENTY PERCENT of what is considered the “best” animation of all time.
No other artist comes close.
Jones was undoubtedly the biggest asset to the Warner Bros. animation empire, and he was locked into an exclusive contract with the studio. But in the early 1960s, Jones collaborated with animators from UPA to produce the feature Gay Purr-ee (1962), which he co-wrote with his wife, Dorothy. Ironically, Warner Bros. won the distribution rights for the film; when Jones’ role in its production was discovered, his now-violated contract with the studio was terminated in 1962. The Warner Bros. animation department was shut down the following year.
Jones subsequently formed his own animation studio, Sib Tower 12 Productions, and rehired his old unit from Warner Bros. (which had been disbanded after Jones was fired). The studio was contracted to create new cartoons for the Tom and Jerry series for MGM; two years later, Jones’ studio was purchased outright by MGM and renamed MGM Animation/Visual Arts. All in all, Jones produced nearly three dozen Tom and Jerry shorts throughout the 1960s.
But his time wasn’t completely consumed by the antics of the cat and mouse; he also worked on several other projects for the studio, one of which–The Dot and the Line: A Romance in Lower Mathematics (1965)–won Jones his only competitive Academy Award as a producer.
The Dot and the Line, as its full title indicates, tells of the romance between a dilettante dot and the straight line that loves her. While the dot is initially enamored of a “wild and unkempt squiggle” (whose wildness is underscored by a clamorous rock-and-roll tune that sounds every time it is onscreen), the “stiff as a board” straight line tries to adapt himself into something else in order to entice the dot back to his side. After struggling a long time, the line finally learns to form himself into an angle, which then allows him to form an unending series of increasingly complex shapes that, in the end, are much more appealing to the dot than the “chaos” presented by the squiggle. The cartoon concludes with the tongue-in-cheek moral: “To the vector belong the spoils.”
Read more about “The Dot and the Line” at the link and you can also see the full video of the cartoon here:
And since this post has been illustrated with doodles and drawings from Medieval manuscripts: New Images on the Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts – Medieval manuscripts blog
Exciting news for those of our readers who might want to search for an image of a 13th-century devil with horns, an English drawing of a horse from the 10th century, rain over the Italian countryside, severed limbs or even Job afflicted with boils. More than 200 new images are now available online in our Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts. For those who have not yet used this catalogue, it has an advanced search page which allows you to search for key words combined with place of origin, date range and many other criteria: http://www.bl.uk/catalogues/illuminatedmanuscripts/search2.asp.
Over 4000 illuminated manuscripts from 800 to 1800 have been catalogued to date and we have now added a new selection with images and descriptions that were not previously available online, mostly from the Additionals series.
I bet you can tell from the images below…the search keyword was “dwarf.”
Finally, bits of childhood keep washing up on the shores of beaches…BBC News – Mapped: The beaches where Lego washes up
The story of millions of Lego pieces washing up on beaches attracted huge interest when first told by the Magazine. The list of places where the toys have been spotted is still growing.
Beachcomber Tracey Williams has been picking up Lego along the Cornish coastline ever since a container spill dumped millions of the toy pieces into the sea in 1997.
Since the curious tale was reported by the Magazine, dozens of people have contacted Williams to say they, too, have found parts of the much-loved toy scattered on shores.
They mostly got in touch via the Facebook page she set up about the drifting toy pieces from various Lego sets, many of which were nautical-themed.
Most of the people who’ve contacted her found Lego around Cornwall, she says. “From what I’ve been told, Perranporth is a hotspot for brooms, and the Lizard seems to be a hotspot for octopuses.”
Brighton, East Sussex, some 300 miles away, is the furthest confirmed report she has received to the east along England’s southern coastline. But some of the sightings have come from much further afield.
Nearly 4.8 million Lego toy parts fell overboard from the Tokio Express container ship in a storm off Land’s End on 13 February 1997.
Williams says the pieces which now drift up on an “almost daily basis” in numerous locations are flippers, spear guns, seagrass, scuba tanks and life preservers.
There is a breakdown of parts that were lost and other pictures at the link…
Well, have a
I’ve been spending a lot of time studying all kinds of things on the Middle East recently because I believe the human rights violations committed by extremist religious states are dire. It’s almost impossible to pick out a region of the world these days–or a continent–where religious extremists aren’t committing atrocities and removing the rights of others.
I want to start with ISIS. ISIS is a radical Sunni Jihadist group that is tearing through parts of Iraq and Syria. They are destroying historical sites, villages, homes, and competing religions in an attempt to create a homeland for radical Sunnis. They have recently attacked the Yazidis and the Kurds. Yazidis are a hybrid of various traditions of Islam–primarily of the Sufi school–and Zoroastrianism. There are hundreds of thousands of displaced citizens due to recent ISIS aggression into the region.
A humanitarian crisis that could turn into a genocide is taking place right now in the mountains of northwestern Iraq. It hasn’t made the front page, because the place and the people are obscure, and there’s a lot of other horrible news to compete with. I’ve learned about it mainly because the crisis has upended the life of someone I wrote about in the magazine several weeks ago.
Last Sunday, Karim woke up around 7:30 A.M., after coming home late the night before. He was about to have breakfast when his phone rang—a friend was calling to see how he was doing. Karim is a Yazidi, a member of an ancient religious minority in Iraq. Ethnically, he’s Kurdish. An engineer and a father of three young children, Karim spent years working for the U.S. Army in his area, then for an American medical charity. He’s been waiting for months to find out whether the U.S. government will grant him a Special Immigrant Visa because of his service, and because of the danger he currently faces.
Karim is from a small town north of the district center, Sinjar, between Mosul and the Syrian border. Sinjar is a historic Yazidi area with an Arab minority. Depending on who’s drawing the map, Sinjar belongs to either the northernmost part of Iraq or the westernmost part of Kurdistan. Since June, when extremist fighters from the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham captured Mosul, they’ve been on the outskirts of Sinjar, facing off against a small number of Kurdish peshmerga militiamen. ISIS regards Yazidis as devil worshippers, and its fighters have been executing Yazidi men who won’t convert to Islam on the spot, taking away the women as jihadi brides. So there were many reasons why a friend might worry about Karim.
“I don’t know,” Karim said. “My situation is O.K.” “No, it’s not O.K.!” his friend said. “Sinjar is under the control of ISIS.”
Karim had not yet heard this calamitous news. “I’ll call some friends and get back to you,” he said.
But the cell network was jammed, so Karim walked to his father’s house. His father told him that thousands of people from Sinjar were headed their way, fleeing north through the mountains to get out of Iraq and into Kurdistan. It suddenly became clear that Karim would have to abandon his home and escape with his family.
ISIS had launched its attack on Sinjar during the night. Peshmerga militiamen were outgunned—their assault rifles against the extremists’ captured fifty-caliber guns, rocket-propelled grenades, mortars, anti-aircraft weapons, and armored vehicles. The Kurds began to run out of ammunition, and those who could retreated north toward Kurdistan. By dawn, the extremists were pouring into town. Later, ISIS posted triumphant photos on Twitter: bullet-riddled corpses of peshmerga in the streets and dirt fields; an ISIS fighter aiming his pistol at the heads of five men lying face down on the ground; Arab locals who stayed in Sinjar jubilantly greeting the new occupiers.
Karim had time to do just one thing: burn all the documents that connected him to America—photos of him posing with Army officers, a CD from the medical charity—in case he was stopped on the road by militants or his house was searched. He watched the record of his experience during the period of the Americans in Iraq turn to ash, and felt nothing except the urge to get to safety.
The Yezidi are now a diaspora trapped on a mountainside. They practice some of the oldest religious traditions mankind invented and many of their practices and myths found their way to much younger traditions like Christianity.
They are scared of lettuce. They abhor pumpkins. They practise maybe the oldest religion in the world. And now, after at least 6,000 years, they are finally being exterminated, even as I write this.
If you haven’t noticed this epochal crime – the raping and the slaughter – you’re not alone. Of late, the world has focused on the horrors of Gaza. When we’ve had time to acknowledge the Satanic cruelties of Isis, in Iraq, we’ve looked to the barbaric treatment of women, and Christians. Yet the genocide of the Yezidi, by Isis, is as evil as anything going on right now in the Middle East; it is also uniquely destructive of a remarkable cultural survival.
So who are the Yezidi? Some years ago I studied them when researching a thriller. I also traveled to meet their small diaspora community, in Celle, north Germany. And what I found was astonishing.
Yezidism is much older than Islam, and much older than Christianity. It is also deeply peculiar. The Yezidi honour sacred trees. Women must not cut their hair. Marriage is forbidden in April. They avoid wearing dark blue because it is “too holy”.
They are divided strictly into castes, who cannot marry each other. The upper castes are polygamous. Anyone of the faith who marries a non-Yezidi risks ostracism, or worse. Yezidism is syncretistic: it combines elements of many faiths. Like Hindus, they believe in reincarnation. Like ancient Mithraists, they sacrifice bulls. They practise baptism, like Christians. When they pray, they face the sun – like Zoroastrians. There are also strong links with Sufism, the mystical branch of Islam.
Then there is the devil worship: arguably, the Yezidi worship what Christians or Muslims might call “Satan”, though the Yezidi call him “Melek Taus”, and he appears in the form of a peacock angel.
Why might Melek Taus be “the devil”? For a start, the Yezidi believe the peacock angel led a rebellion in heaven: clearly echoing the story of Lucifer, cast into Hell by the Christian God. Also, the very word “Melek” is cognate with “Moloch”, the name of a Biblical demon – who demanded human sacrifice.
The avian imagery of Melek Taus likewise indicates a demonic aspect. The Yezidi come from the ancient lands of Sumeria and Assyria, in modern-day Turkey, Iraq and Kurdistan. Sumerian gods were often cruel, and equipped with beaks and wings. Birdlike. Three thousand years ago the Assyrians worshipped flying demons, spirits of the desert wind. One was the scaly-winged demon in The Exorcist: Pazuzu.
The Yezidi reverence for birds – and snakes – also appears to be extremely old. Excavations at ancient Catalhoyuk, in Turkey, show that the people there revered bird-gods as long ago as 7000BC. Even older is Gobekli Tepe, a megalithic site near Sanliurfa, in Kurdish Turkey (Sanliurfa was once a stronghold of Yezidism). The extraordinary temple of Gobekli Tepe boasts carvings of winged birdmen, and images of buzzards and serpents.
Taking all this evidence into account, a fair guess is that Yezidism is a vastly ancient form of bird-worship, that could date back 6,000 years or more. If this is right, it means that Yezidism is therefore the Ur-religion, the mother ship of Middle Eastern faiths, and it is us who have incorporated Yezidi myths and beliefs into our religions, of Christianity and Islam and Judaism.
ISIS is literally exterminating all those individuals of rival religions. It is destroying their places of worship and any historical artifacts related to their existence.
The Yezidi religion is part of the Kurdish identity. Iraqi Kurdistan’s flag eschews the crescent moon so common on the flags of Islamic countries and opts for fire imagery from the Yezidi religion instead. Many years ago I interviewed the president of Duhok University in Iraq Kurdistan and he seemed to speak for the majority when he professed his affection for these people and their ancient religion. “I am a Muslim,” he told me. “But I love the Yezidis. Theirs is the original religion of the Kurds. Only through the Yezidis can I speak to God in my own language.”
Sinjar is a Kurdish town, but it’s in Nineveh province outside the Kurdish autonomous region. The armed Kurdish Peshmerga forces operating there ran out of ammunition and had little choice but to retreat in the wake of the ISIS assault. Tens of thousands of civilians fled the area and are stranded atop a remote mountain without food, water, or shelter.
Eight years ago I visited the Yezidi “Mecca” in Lalish, Iraq, inside the Kurdish autonomous region a ways south of Duhok. This is where the Yezidis believe the universe was born. Eternal flames burn forever in little shrines. Baba Sheik, their leader, showed me around and took me into their temple.
“All people in the world should be brothers,” he said. “You are welcome here for the rest of your life.”
Meanwhile, we continue to witness the effects of the latest Israeli attack on Gaza. This includes reactions that may surprise you. Universities are supposed to grant professors academic freedom to express unpopular ideas. It’s a hallmark of a free country and an open learning environment. Today, an Arab American professor has lost his job due to his open support of the Palestinian cause on Twitter. I’m going to refer you to the blog of Corey Robin.
Until two weeks ago, Steven Salaita was heading to a job at the University of Illinois as a professor of American Indian Studies. He had already resigned from his position at Virginia Tech; everything seemed sewn up. Now the chancellor of the University of Illinois has overturned Salaita’s appointment and rescinded the offer. Because of Israel.
The sources familiar with the university’s decision say that concern grew over the tone of his comments on Twitter about Israel’s policies in Gaza….
For instance, there is this tweet: “At this point, if Netanyahu appeared on TV with a necklace made from the teeth of Palestinian children, would anybody be surprised? #Gaza.” Or this one: “By eagerly conflating Jewishness and Israel, Zionists are partly responsible when people say antisemitic shit in response to Israeli terror.” Or this one: “Zionists, take responsibility: if your dream of an ethnocratic Israel is worth the murder of children, just fucking own it already.”
In recent weeks, bloggers and others have started to draw attention to Salaita’s comments on Twitter. But as recently as July 22 (before the job offer was revoked), a university spokeswoman defended Salaita’s comments on Twitter and elsewhere. A spokeswoman told The News-Gazette for an article about Salaita that “faculty have a wide range of scholarly and political views, and we recognize the freedom-of-speech rights of all of our employees.”
I’ve written about a number of these types of cases over the past few years, but few have touched me the way this one has.
It’s unbelievable to me that the University of Illinois could be quite so blind to the principles of academic freedom. This is a principle worth defending.
While Salaita has been until very recently very active on Twitter, he stopped posting several days ago, which is unusual for him. He is an active writer beyond Twitter, with op-eds (which of late have identified him as an Illinois professor) and with campaigns on behalf of the movement to organize an academic boycott of Israel. He has also published scholarly books, including Israel’s Dead Soul (Temple University Press) and Arab American Literary Fictions, Cultures, and Politics (Palgrave Macmillan).
Salaita’s writing last year, while at Virginia Tech, drew fierce attacks (including death threats). In a piece in Salon, he questioned the idea that people should be asked in various ways to “support the troops.”
“ ‘Support the troops’ is the most overused platitude in the United States, but still the most effective for anybody who seeks interpersonal or economic ingratiation,” Salaita wrote. “The platitude abounds with significance but lacks the burdens of substance and specificity. It says something apparently apolitical while patrolling for heresy to an inelastic logic. Its only concrete function is to situate users into normative spaces.”
While Virginia Tech did not fire him (as many critics urged it to do), some faculty members thought the university — in pointing out that his views didn’t reflect those of the institution — didn’t do enough to defend his academic freedom.
Some who have raised questions about Salaita at Illinois have stressed that they are focused on what they see as incivility and bigotry, not opposition to Israeli or American policies.
We’re going to have to see what I come up with today because I openly admit to being extremely tired. We’ve had all this rain recently and it’s dark and gloomy all the time. Yesterday, it was so hard and heavy that the French Quarter flooded. So, here are a few things to consider before I head back to bed for awhile.
The Boston Globe features an article arguing that Southern Blacks and Hispanics will eventually trump angry, resentful, and backward white Republican voters in the South. If only. The analysis is by Bob Moser. The demographics have to be playing into white backlash which make the South the epicenter of voter suppression laws but it’s also a place where voter turnout is highly irregular.
The question is whether Democrats in these states are better served by following the region’s five-decade-long drift toward the GOP — or by betting that the climate is finally changing in their favor.
It’s a sign of things to come in states like North Carolina, where large influxes of Latino immigrants and “relocated Yankees,” both black and white, are tilting the demographic balance toward the Democrats and inspiring a new progressive movement. But despite Obama’s own surprising Southern breakthroughs — after Al Gore and John Kerry lost the entire region, he won three large Southern states in 2008 and two in 2012, falling just short in North Carolina — the region’s blue future is still a long-term proposition. Candidates like Hagan are stuck between the past, when Southern Democrats’ recipe for victory involved courting white moderates and conservatives, and a future in which they’ll be able to successfully campaign as full-throated, national-style Democrats. To win, Hagan and her compatriots must simultaneously woo independent-minded whites while persuading massive numbers of young voters and nonwhites, who lean left on both economic and social issues, to join them.
It’s an awkward proposition, to be sure. But the Democratic contenders have appeared hell-bent on making it look downright impossible.
In a poll by Landmark Communications released Sunday, Democrat Michelle Nunn has a commanding lead against both of her potential challengers in Georgia’s US Senate race. Against Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA) Nunn is up by eight points, 49% to 41%. The poll also shows her with a nice lead against businessman David Perdue as Nunn leads him 48% to 42%. Perdue and Kingston are heading into a GOP primary runoff this coming Tuesday. The survey shows Kingston with a sizable lead as he is ahead by seven points, 48% to 41%.
While Nunn holds leads against both men, the thought is that she’d prefer to face Kingston in the general election. Atlanta-based political analyst Bill Crane had the following to say after this poll was released.
“I think Michelle Nunn would prefer to run against Jack Kingston. Twenty-two year incumbent, PAC money, special interest, her preferred race is the race that I think she’s going to get.”
Nunn taking the Georgia Senate seat would put a huge crimp in the plans of Republicans who feel they can take over the US Senate this November. Currently, the GOP needs to net six seats in the midterm to become the majority party in the Upper Chamber. Losing a Senate seat in a deep-red state that was previously held by a Republican will almost certainly prevent Republicans from taking over the Senate. While it is nearly a given that Democrats will lose seats this November, it is looking more and more promising that they will be able to retain control of the Senate.
There’s all kinds of things happening that have caused me to pull the blankets over my head. The horrors in the Gaza strip, the ongoing downed Malaysian jet catastrophe, and the week long visit of the Army of God to our city. They’re all over our women’s health clinics and they are creepy as creepy gets. Russia’s hand prints are all over the downed commercial airliner. Militants weirdly suggested that the people on the plane were all dead before the plane took off. WTF kind of craziness is this?
In a briefing at the Pentagon on Friday, Rear Admiral John Kirby told reporters that it “strains credulity” to think pro-Russian separatists believed to have shot down MH17 didn’t have at least some help from Moscow. Kirby said the Buk is a “sophisticated piece of technology” that would likely require technical assistance from Russia.
Indeed, Air Force Gen. Philip Breedlove said in June the U.S. military’s intelligence was that rebels were being trained in tanks and anti-aircraft capability across the border, before heading back into eastern Ukraine to put it into practice.
According to IHS Jane’s Defense, a resource for intelligence and defense analysis, operating a Buk requires a trained crew. While the government of Ukraine also has Buk missile systems, Jane’s notes that the Ukrainian military has none of the systems in the region near the MH17 crash, as they were overtaken by pro-Russian separatists.
“The system is not a simple system to use. You need at least four to six months of training and ongoing training to operate it,” Ronald Bishop, a former U.S. Air Force missile expert, told Australia’s Warwick Daily News. “To fire this system you need to have highly-specialized military training.”
It finally looks like Europe is getting fed up with Russia and their cronies. The response comes because of the careless treatments of the remains of the victims of the missile attack.
Investigators are still far from an official judgment of what brought down a Malaysia Airlines flight in eastern Ukraine, killing all 298 passengers and crew onboard. But the global court of public opinion, the verdict appears to be rendered.
Vladimir Putin is guilty.
The Russian President could once claim a semblance of a role as a global statesmen. But with the downing of a commercial airliner by what U.S. and Ukrainian officials suggest were pro-Moscow rebels using a missile supplied by Russia, Putin was facing a very personal barrage of worldwide condemnation that threatened to result in further sanctions on Russia if it did not rapidly change course in Ukraine.
Australia raised the prospect of banning Putin from a G-20 meeting of the world’s most powerful nations in November if he did not exert more pressure on the rebels who left corpses strewn on the ground for days,contaminated the crash site, and hampered an international investigation. Britain, meanwhile, openly accused the Russian leader of sponsoring “terrorism.” U.S. Secretary of State John F. Kerry, appearing on multiple political talk shows Sunday, called this a “moment of truth” for Russia.
Particularly in Europe – a continent long leery of going too far to pressure Moscow over its support of separatists in Ukraine – initial shock was quickly gathering into outrage and action.
On Sunday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President François Hollande and British Prime Minister David Cameron held a joint phone call on Russia. A Downing Street spokesman said the three leaders agreed that the European Union “must reconsider its approach to Russia and that foreign ministers should be ready to impose further sanctions on Russia when they meet on Tuesday.”
John Kerry gave Fox News a perfect opener during an appearance on Sunday. Fox is about as neocon as you can get and they love it when Israel goes on any killing spree. Kerry’s oops moment is interesting. It’s hard to believe some one as skilled in politics as Kerry didn’t assume a hot mike and inquiring minds.
In an unusual moment during “Fox News Sunday,” host Chris Wallace presented Secretary of State John Kerry with video recorded before he came on air.
Wallace introduced the segment as being in reference to civilians killed in fighting in the Gaza Strip. “While you were on camera and while on microphone,” Wallace said, “you spoke to one of your top aides between the interviews about the situation in Israel.” He then played what the network had recorded. In the clip, Kerry is holding a cellphone conversation with someone. The person on the other end of the call isn’t identified, and the audio from the other participant is staticky.
Kerry’s comments are clear. “It’s a hell of a pinpoint operation,” he says, then repeats it. “It’s a hell of a pinpoint operation.” It’s an apparent reference to Israel’s insistence that its incursion into the region would be limited. “It’s escalating significantly,” the person on the phone replies, and Kerry then says: “We’ve got to get over there. I think we ought to go tonight.” He then calls it “crazy” to be “sitting around.”
“When you said it’s a hell of a pinpoint operation,” Wallace asked, are you “upset that the Israelis are going too far?”
“It’s very difficult in these situations,” Kerry said, repeating that the United States supports Israel’s right to defend itself. He then explained his comments by saying, “I reacted, obviously, in a way that anybody does in respect to young children and civilians.”
I’m getting really tired of every one fellating Bibi. He’s got to be high up there on the War Criminals list now and it’s about time we pressure Israel for a regime change. To hate Bibi is not to hate Jewish people. It’s to abhor genocide. I just really have gotten to the point where I hate religion altogether and the Abrahamic brands are just about the worst of it all. It’s just evil. Here’s the resident evil religious whackos plaguing New Orleans for the week. I’m probably going to go do some clinic escorting midweek.
A week of planned anti-abortion protests in the New Orleans area began Saturday morning (July 19) with about 55 people affiliated with Operation Save America gathered at the Causeway Medical Clinic in Metairie.
Shortly after, 40 picketed a private home in Carrollton, some holding posters with graphic images of aborted fetuses. Organizer Rusty Thomas of Waco, Texas, said activists are still arriving and other demonstrations are planned for coming days.
The organization said it was encouraged by anew Louisiana law that opponents say will likely shut down three of the five clinics in the state that perform abortions. The law, which supporters say is aimed at improving patient safety, goes into effect Sept. 1.
Richard Fegan of Mandeville, outside the Metairie location, said, “We’re trying to shut the place down because God gives life and God takes life … this place is trying to be God.”
Planned Parenthood said the protests are sparked by the organization’s upcoming new facility on South Claiborne Avenue in New Orleans. No one was gathered at the construction site Saturday morning.
“Planned Parenthood’s focus is the health and safety of women, men and families in Louisiana,” said Melissa Flournoy, state director of Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, in a statement. “These extremist organizations are trying to stop a new health center from serving this community, but in the end they’re only helping us build more support.”
It’s just hard to know what to do with people that just want to inflict their view of the world on the rest of us. What is with all this craziness? It’s like we’ve not gotten much farther than when we crawled out of the caves. At least back then, we could only do limited damage.
Anyway, naptime is calling my name folks! What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
Can you believe it is December 1st? Honestly, I can’t.
What an exhausting year this has been, to think it is almost over.
Anyway, here are your reads for this morning, Israeli Arabs, Palestinians protest plan to relocate Bedouins.
Thousands of Arab citizens of Israel and Palestinians in East Jerusalem and the West Bank demonstrated Saturday against an Israeli government plan that in some cases would relocate Bedouins from traditional lands in the Negev desert to urban communities.
Some of the gatherings turned violent, with 28 protesters arrested and at least 15 police officers injured, one of them stabbed. Police fired stun grenades, tear gas and skunk water to disperse demonstrators.
The “Day of Rage” was called as the Israeli parliament was preparing to give final approval to what has become known as the Prawer Plan, named after an Israeli government official who wrote it.
Israeli officials say the plan was reached after extensive consultation with Bedouin leaders. It would provide recognition and previously denied services for some Bedouin communities that have been viewed by the Israelis as squatters on state land and relocate others while providing some compensation.
The controversial plan faces strong opposition from many Bedouins, who say it would in effect expropriate 200,000 acres of Arab land and forcibly relocate more than 40,000 Bedouins.
The protest have even spread to the UK: Day of Rage Rocks Israel, Spreads to UK.
U.S. airline officials say they are complying with new State Department guidance urging carriers to alert China before any flights pass through that country’s new self-declared air-defense zone.
Airline officials said Saturday that compliance would not disrupt travel to Asia, since they already communicate with any government when crossing through or over foreign territory.
In US politics: N. Georgia key battleground in Senate GOP primary
At the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains sits one of the most Republican congressional districts in the country that is home to Georgia’s governor, lieutenant governor and speaker of the House.
The 9th Congressional District and the nearby 14th district are considered the heart of the GOP in Georgia and will be key battlegrounds in a fiercely contested Republican primary next year for an open U.S. Senate seat, a race that will be watched nationally as Democrats look to thwart efforts by Republicans to take control of the Senate.
While not as populous or packed with deep-pocket donors as metro Atlanta, the two districts in north Georgia offer a strong and reliable base of fiscal and social conservatives and are largely up for grabs considering no major candidate has a direct link to the area.
Yeah this is my district, the Saxby Chambliss district….according to that article, 20 percent of the state’s Republican voters are in these districts.
All the top candidates have already made trips and are expected to keep visiting ahead of the May 20 primary. The voters are used to seeing their elected officials and are known for asking tough questions.
“They are a lot like Iowa caucus voters. They expect to see their candidates in the flesh,” said Lake, who recently left the Senate campaign of Rep. Phil Gingrey of Marietta, citing differences in opinion, and is no longer aligned with a candidate in the race.
A number of voters who attended a recent congressional hearing in the 9th district said they remain undecided. Besides Gingrey, the other major candidates are tea party favorite Rep. Paul Broun of Athens; Karen Handel, who has a statewide grassroots organization from her previous campaigns; fundraising leader Rep. Jack Kingston of Savannah; and David Perdue, cousin of former Gov. Sonny Perdue and past CEO of Dollar General and Reebok.
Ugh. More disgust at the link, with no possible chance of getting a decent representative in Washington D.C.
Another link on an asshole of another kind: Seattle Asshole Demands Employee Firing Over Bar’s Google Glass Policy
The most absolute awful thing about the story of Nick Starr is not that he exists, but that there are surely more people like him: the Seattle IT drone threw a Facebook fit when he was asked to take off his face-camera at a cafe. “I would love an explanation, apology, clarification…or her termination.”
Read the rant at the link above.
Here’s the logic: the ability to covertly take pictures of people and perhaps post them to Twitter—as Starr has done in the past—shall not be infringed upon. Any attempts to subvert this divine right will be attacked in kind. This is an ostensibly carbon-based life form arguing for garnished wages or a lost job because he couldn’t wear a face computer into a watering hole.
Those Google Glass things are over the top and cross the line…and that this asshole has taken pictures of people in the bathroom and put them online…geez what a dickhead.
Okay, two links about JFK:
In Wednesday’s Nova special on the JFK assassination, private investigator Josiah Thompson is an avuncular presence, repeatedly explaining what happened on Nov. 22, 50 years ago in Dallas.
But Thursday the author of Six Seconds in Dallas said he was “outraged,” calling the program “rigged.”
He wasn’t accusing “Cold Case: JFK” of faking or staging any tests, but said the program failed to fully examine acoustic evidence that suggests four shots were fired that day, because doing so might have derailed the show’s conclusion, that Lee Harvey Oswald was probably the only gunman.
Jack Ohman suggested “we see what we want to see” regarding the JFK assassination (“Kennedy slaying answers elude us”; Forum, Nov. 17). Marcos Breton blamed our skepticism on advancing age: “It’s the ultimate baby boomer fetish,” he scoffed (“Count me out of the JFK club”; Our Region, Nov. 17).
If you still think the Warren Report is an example of a trustworthy, paternal federal government here to help you, listen up.
Remember the auction of Classic Movie Memorabilia? If you are curious as to how much some of those items ended up going for, check it out here: Classic Movie Memorabilia
ICONIC MALTESE FALCON LEAD STATUETTE FROM THE 1941 FILM Sold for $4,085,000 At the TCM / Bonham’s Auction Nov 23,2013
Angela Lansbury is making a comeback. No, she is not dead. Hold Up–Angela Lansbury Is Returning To The Stage
In breaking entertainment news that is sure to get me 500 billion clicks today alone, Angela Lansbury is set to make her triumphant, beautiful return to the stage. After a more than 40 year absence from the London stage,
Jessica FletcherLansbury will star in a West End revival of Noel Coward’s play Blithe Spirit.
TCM has been showing some crappy movies lately, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang? Please. Hopefully they get back to the good stuff soon.
Anyway, this next article is interesting too, from BBC News – A visit to a hidden coca plantation
The Peruvian government says it is committed to eradicating the coca leaf, from which cocaine is made – but a walk in the jungle suggests that for cash-strapped farmers, it is not an easy choice.
I should probably have listened just a little more carefully when the farmer answered my question.
I had asked if she would show me where her hidden coca plantation was – and what she said was: “Yes, of course, but it will mean a bit of walking.”
Now, I like walking, I walk for pleasure. But what a Peruvian farmer means by a “bit of walking” turned out to be rather different from what I mean.
We were in the region known as the High Amazon. It is breathtakingly beautiful. Green, lush hillsides and steep wooded valleys, where the foothills of the Andes meet the Amazon jungle. Traditionally it has been one of the main production centres for Peruvian cocaine.
And from coke production to art history: Vermeer’s Secret Tool: Testing Whether The Artist Used Mirrors and Lenses to Create His Realistic Images | Vanity Fair
David Hockney and others have speculated—controversially—that a camera obscura could have helped the Dutch painter Vermeer achieve his photo-realistic effects in the 1600s. But no one understood exactly how such a device might actually have been used to paint masterpieces. An inventor in Texas—the subject of a new documentary by the magicians Penn & Teller—may have solved the riddle.
In the history of art, Johannes Vermeer is almost as mysterious and unfathomable as Shakespeare in literature, like a character in a novel. Accepted into his local Dutch painters’ guild in 1653, at age 21, with no recorded training as an apprentice, he promptly begins painting masterful, singular, uncannily realistic pictures of light-filled rooms and ethereal young women. After his death, at 43, he and his minuscule oeuvre slip into obscurity for two centuries. Then, just as photography is making highly realistic painting seem pointless, the photorealistic “Sphinx of Delft” is rediscovered and his pictures are suddenly deemed valuable. By the time of the first big American show of Vermeer paintings—at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, in 1909—their value has increased another hundred times, by the 1920s ten times that.
Despite occasional speculation over the years that an optical device somehow enabled Vermeer to paint his pictures, the art-history establishment has remained adamant in its romantic conviction: maybe he was inspired somehow by lens-projected images, but his only exceptional tool for making art was his astounding eye, his otherworldly genius.
That is a long read…complete with videos.
Have a good day, and think of this as an open thread.
There’s a long article in the September 30 New Yorker by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Dexter Filkins about a powerful Iranian military leader named Qassem Suleimani. Sueimani is the Commander of the Quds Force. According to Wikipedia, the Quds Force is:
a special unit of Iran‘s Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution (Revolutionary Guard). It has been tasked with “exporting” Iran’s Islamic revolution, and is responsible for “extraterritorial operations” of the Revolutionary Guard.
Filkins describes the functions Quds Force as follows:
The force is the sharp instrument of Iranian foreign policy, roughly analogous to a combined C.I.A. and Special Forces; its name comes from the Persian word for Jerusalem, which its fighters have promised to liberate. Since 1979, its goal has been to subvert Iran’s enemies and extend the country’s influence across the Middle East. Shateri had spent much of his career abroad, first in Afghanistan and then in Iraq, where the Quds Force helped Shiite militias kill American soldiers.
I have to admit that I haven’t read the entire article yet, but yesterday I heard a fascinating interview of Dexter Filkins by Terry Gross on her NPR show Fresh Air. You can listen to the interview at the link. It lasts about 44 minutes. Filkins covered the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq for the New York Times beginning in 2002. In addition, he is the author of the book The Forever War. Based on what I heard in the Fresh Air interview, just about everything many Americans think we know about Iran, Iraq, Syria and Iran’s powerful influence in the Middle East is going to have to be revised and updated. Even Filkins was surprised by what he learned through his research and reporting in Iran.
Here’s what Filkins writes about Suleimani:
Suleimani took command of the Quds Force fifteen years ago, and in that time he has sought to reshape the Middle East in Iran’s favor, working as a power broker and as a military force: assassinating rivals, arming allies, and, for most of a decade, directing a network of militant groups that killed hundreds of Americans in Iraq. The U.S. Department of the Treasury has sanctioned Suleimani for his role in supporting the Assad regime, and for abetting terrorism. And yet he has remained mostly invisible to the outside world, even as he runs agents and directs operations. “Suleimani is the single most powerful operative in the Middle East today,” John Maguire, a former C.I.A. officer in Iraq, told me, “and no one’s ever heard of him.”
According to Filkins, through Suleimani’s influence, after the U.S. took down Saddam Hussein and everything went to hell in Iraq, Iran has basically controlled what went on there; and now Iran is a powerful influence in the Syrian conflict. Here’s the introduction to the Filkins interview from Fresh Air site. Meet The Iranian Commander Pulling Strings In Syria’s War:
Perhaps the most important military commander in Syria’s civil war is not Syrian at all. He’s Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Suleimani, and he’s the subject of an article by Dexter Filkins in the current edition of The New Yorker.
For the past 15 years, Suleimani has been the chief of the Quds Force, a small but powerful branch of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. He’s not a familiar name to Americans, but one former CIA officer described him to Filkins as “the single most powerful operative in the Middle East today.”
Filkins writes that Suleimani “has sought to reshape the Middle East in Iran’s favor, working as a power broker and as a military force: assassinating rivals, arming allies, and, for most of a decade, directing a network of militant groups that killed hundreds of Americans in Iraq. The U.S. Treasury Department has sanctioned Suleimani for his role in supporting the Assad regime, and for abetting terrorism.”
On Suleimani’s influence on the reshaping of the Middle East:
Qassem Suleimani — who is this extraordinarily powerful man behind the mask, very mysterious guy, very powerful guy — he was instrumental in 2010 in making sure that the Americans left no troops behind in Iraq. During the Iraq War, he supervised and directed militias which were responsible for hundreds of American deaths.
It appears, by the evidence, that the Iranians, and the Quds Force in particular, were behind the assassination of Rafik Hariri, the president of Lebanon, in 2005. Qassem Suleimani appears to be running or directing or at least playing a very large part in the war in Syria on behalf of the Assad government. So he’s everywhere, and, again, the Iranians have been extraordinarily aggressive over the past 15 years in asserting themselves in the Middle East, often at American expense.
Filkins also says that it’s clear the Iranians do want to develop nuclear weapons, and he doubts if the U.S. will be able to get them to agreed not to do it. The reason the Iranians are reaching out to the West right now is that the sanctions are really hurting them–basically the middle class in Iran has been decimated.
You can read more excerpts from the interview at the Fresh Air site. I plan to finish reading the Filkins article in the New Yorker today. I hope I’ve given you enough information to get you to read it too. I’m sure this article will be much discussed in the coming weeks.
Here’s Charles Pierce on the Filkins piece: The Limitless Bungling Of George W. Bush And Co.
Dexter Filkins has a long, fine piece in the September 30 New Yorker about one Qassam Suleimani, an Iranian who seems to be the Zelig of Middle East spookdom, and who is now currently working with the Assad government in Syria.
Since then, Suleimani has orchestrated attacks in places as far flung as Thailand, New Delhi, Lagos, and Nairobi-at least thirty attempts in the past two years alone. The most notorious was a scheme, in 2011, to hire a Mexican drug cartel to blow up the Saudi Ambassador to the United States as he sat down to eat at a restaurant a few miles from the White House. The cartel member approached by Suleimani’s agent turned out to be an informant for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. (The Quds Force appears to be more effective close to home, and a number of the remote plans have gone awry.) Still, after the plot collapsed, two former American officials told a congressional committee that Suleimani should be assassinated. “Suleimani travels a lot,” one said. “He is all over the place. Go get him. Either try to capture him or kill him.” In Iran, more than two hundred dignitaries signed an outraged letter in his defense; a social-media campaign proclaimed, “We are all Qassem Suleimani.”
If you want evidence behind your essential instinct that the tangle in that part of the world is beyond our ability ever to untangle, you’ve got it here. But there is one other little tidbit that’s worth bringing up, given the fact that some officials formerly in the employ of C-Plus Augustus — most notably, David Frum — have snuck into the national dialogue again, probably through an unguarded window, instead of going off and living a penitent’s existence for what they did to the country.
(To be entirely fair, according to Filkins, Suleimani was formed by his participation in the savage Iran-Iraq War in which the United States, employing the brilliant realpolitik of blood-beast Henry Kissinger, helped both sides, guaranteeing that nobody would trust us thereafter. Genius!)
In other news,
Hillary had a few choice words for the Republicans who are trying to shut down the government in order to defund The Affordable Care Act. From the WaPo: Hillary Clinton says government shutdown ‘wouldn’t be the worst thing for Democrats’:
Hillary Rodham Clinton said Tuesday that if a “noisy minority” of Republican lawmakers force a government shutdown over funding for President Obama’s signature health-care law, they would face negative political consequences.
“It wouldn’t be the worst thing for Democrats if they tried to shut the government down,” said Clinton, a former secretary of state and potential 2016 Democratic presidential candidate. “We’ve seen that movie before and it didn’t work out so well for those so-called obstructionists.”
Clinton was referencing the political harm for Republicans in the mid-1990s when they forced a shutdown during husband Bill Clinton’s presidency.
“If they want to try to shut the government down, that’s on their head, that’s their responsibility,” she added.
Isn’t it great to have Hillary talking about politics again?
I’m really late with this post, so I’m going to wrap it up with a link dump:
From Huffington Post — DC Exempts Itself From Federal Government Shutdown
From The Political Carnival: Don’t Buckle Your Seatbelt? Go To Jail — Or Your Death
From Vanity Fair, battles among the richie-riches in San Francisco’s toniest neighborhood —
Bluebloods & Billionaires
Scientific American — Peculiar Brain Signals Found in “Flat-Lined” Patient What does it really mean to be dead?