Thursday Reads

Good Morning!! Once again, the Osama bin Laden story is eclipsing just about everything else. Nevertheless, I’ll do what I can to search out a few non-Osama links for your reading pleasure. But first, the latest on the the media obsession du jour.

You’ve probably heard about the reports that bin Laden was first captured alive and then shot execution style in front of his 12-year-old daughter. At least that is how she described the events to Pakistani officials who are currently holding her and other survivors of the raid. From the Guardian:

The girl, who was found at the scene of the raid by Pakistani security services, is being cared for at a military hospital having been wounded in the attack. She has been questioned about the sequence of events during the raid last weekend.

The official said Pakistani intelligence services, who are holding 11 other survivors of the deadly raid on Bin Laden’s Pakistani hiding place, would not allow their interrogation by US officials.

“That would occur only if there was written assent from their country of origin. We are yet to receive any request to my knowledge, but given the [critical] statements coming out of Washington and the fact that [the raid] was not an operation we were involved in, we would not accept,” he said.

Hmmm…sound like the Pakistani official is slightly miffed about the way the U.S. handled this.

At least 10 people were left alive at the end of the attack, which saw Bin Laden killed in an upstairs room of the three-storey house where he had been living. Hamza, one of the al-Qaida leader’s sons, was killed. His body was removed with that of his father by the assault teams.

The survivors include eight children and two adults, both women. One is Bin Laden’s fifth wife, a 29-year-old Yemeni, Amal Ahmed Abdul Fatah who married the al-Qaida leader around 11 years ago in Afghanistan. The other is understood to be a Yemeni doctor in her 30s whose passport indicates that she arrived by legal means in the region sometime between 2000 and 2006, when the document expired.

I still haven’t heard any word about what happened to the son’s body. Have you? It does seem the administration still has some explaining to do. Justin Elliott of Salon tried to get some clarification.

Legitimate doubt has been cast on the official narrative of the raid ever since the Obama administration changed major details of what it claims happened. (A Pentagon official, for example, said Monday that bin Laden was firing a gun at U.S. forces from behind a human shield when he was killed. Now the White House says he was not armed and there was no human shield.)

The possibility that bin Laden was captured was raised in a report by an Arab news agency citing Pakistani officials describing an interview with bin Laden’s young daughter, who was apparently at the compound:

The daughter has claimed that she watched as her father was captured alive and shot before being dragged to a US military helicopter, Arabic news network al-Arabiya quoted Pakistani officials as saying.

Elliott also notes that President Obama said during an appearance on Monday night that the top secret operation had “resulted in the capture and death of Osama bin Laden.” He got no answers from the White House, but the CIA told NBC that the 12-year-old’s eyewitness testimony is completely wrong. They deny that bin Laden was “captured” before being killed and they deny putting his son’s body in a helicopter and taking it away.

More problems for the administration: The Telegraph reveals that there is no live video of the attack on the bin Laden compound.

A photograph released by the White House appeared to show the President and his aides in the situation room watching the action as it unfolded. In fact they had little knowledge of what was happening in the compound.

In an interview with PBS, Mr Panetta said: “Once those teams went into the compound I can tell you that there was a time period of almost 20 or 25 minutes where we really didn’t know just exactly what was going on. And there were some very tense moments as we were waiting for information.

“We had some observation of the approach there, but we did not have direct flow of information as to the actual conduct of the operation itself as they were going through the compound.”

Mr Panetta also told the network that the US Navy Seals made the final decision to kill bin Laden rather than the president.

Hmmm….that’s a bit troubling.

At FDL, David Swanson is very troubled by the killing of Osama bin Laden. According to him, Osama bin Lynched. I’ll say one thing for Swanson: the guy can write. I recommend reading his blog just for the pleasure of reading some good writing, if nothing else.

Here is some more evidence that our government is being run by silly adolescents. Several media outlets have reported that a number of Senators, including Saxby Chambliss, Kelly Ayotte, and Scott Brown, claimed to have seen the graphic photos of Osama bin Laden’s dead body. It turns out all they saw was the same fake doctored photo that everyone else saw all over the internet yesterday. The Boston Globe reports:

US Senator Scott Brown said in several televised interviews today that he had seen perhaps the most controversial and closely guarded photos in the world: those showing Osama bin Laden’s dead body.

Brown, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, suggested he had viewed them as part of an official briefing, and he argued that they were too graphic to be released to the public and could enflame terrorists.

Oops.

Brown later acknowledged that he had fallen victim to a hoax, apparently the same doctored images that were making the rounds on the Internet.

‘‘The photo that I saw and that a lot of other people saw is not authentic,’’ the senator said in a one-sentence statement issued hours after the interviews aired.

Meanwhile, President Obama is protecting all of us by keeping the photos under wraps along with the torture photos he is hiding. Whatever. I have no desire to see bin Laden’s dead body. But then why did they release all the other bloody photos that are everywhere on the internet? Like we haven’t all seen worse in the Movies and on TV.

BTW, if you don’t want to hear Obama explain why we’re all too fragile to see the dead terrorist, avoid watching 60 Minutes on Sunday, because POTUS will be making a campaign stop on the show this week.

Of course we all know that photos can be faked, doctored and even staged by our government. Reuters explains:

Reuters White House photographer Jason Reed describes how the president made his speech to a single TV camera, then immediately after finishing, he pretended to speak for the still cameras.

Reed writes:

“As President Obama continued his nine-minute address in front of just one main network camera, the photographers were held outside the room by staff and asked to remain completely silent. Once Obama was off the air, we were escorted in front of that teleprompter and the President then re-enacted the walk-out and first 30 seconds of the statement for us.”

That means the photograph that appeared in many newspapers Monday morning of Obama speaking may have been the staged shot, captured after the president spoke. This type of staging has been going on for decades.

I never knew that before. Kind of creepy, if you ask me.

Here are couple more humorous Osama anecdotes from Raw Story. A reporter from the St. Petersburg Times, Meg Laughlin, says she saw bin Laden is Islamabad in 2002.

On a quick run to the grocery store with photographer Carl Juste and a driver/translator, Juste pointed out the window and said, “Look! There’s Osama bin Laden!” Laughlin wrote in a first-person account of the incident published Tuesday in the St. Petersburg Times.

“We couldn’t believe our eyes,” she wrote. “There, in front of us was the most wanted man in the world, the face on countless posters offering a reward of $25 million for information on his whereabouts. There was no mistaking him. Towering over the men with him, he was lanky with olive skin and that scraggly long beard, those sad brown eyes and that splayed nose.

The three of us began screaming, ‘It’s Osama bin Laden! Osama bin Laden!'”

Honestly, Bush and Cheney could have caught the guy anytime they wanted to. Republicans should be ashamed for trying to give them credit. Not that Republicans are capable of shame….

This is really good. CNN reporter Nic Roberts found something interesting growing next to the compound where bin Laden and his family and friends were living.

Among the various vegetable crops growing alongside the bin Laden compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, a row of marijuana plants was also discovered by CNN reporter Nic Robertson.

It begs the question: was Osama bin Laden a pothead?

Of course, the answer to that is in no way clear. The plants very well could have been for one of the other individuals who stayed at the compound, or another local entirely. Reports from the scene indicated that as many as three dozen people shared the three-story house, including as many as 23 children.

Some have speculated that the al Qaeda leader may have been using the marijuana as a medicine. If he was indeed on dialysis, as an unnamed U.S. intelligence source told Asiaweek back in 2000, then he could have used marijuana as a painkiller.

If we’re already getting silly stories like this one, I hate to think what trivial morsels we’ll be seeing served up by the media in a couple more days. They are going to milk this story for all it’s worth and then some.

Poor Muammar Gaddafi has been nearly wiped off the front pages by the Osama blockbuster news. But he’s still up to his old tricks. Yesterday, he bombed a humanitarian relief vessel as it was trying to evacuate foreign citizens Libyan civilians from Misrata. But it looks like the UN is going to indict Gaddafi for war crimes and try to arrest him.

The question then arises as to which organisation should carry out the arrest. Under the 1998 Rome Statute on which the court was built, that duty falls first to the national government in question, and there is at least a faint hope among western governments that the issuing of ICC arrest warrants would provide a trigger and a legal justification for any remaining waverers in the Gaddafi camp to move against him.

If not, the UN security council has to decide what to do. The job could be passed to Nato, but that would require a resolution, which Russia and China could well object to. They already believe that the February resolution allowing “all necessary measures” to protect Libyan civilians has been exploited by Nato to wage war on the side of the rebels.

To further complicate the situation, the Obama administration might also object, as it would involve sending troops into Tripoli, something that Washington has sworn not to do.

The council could instead restate the court’s demand for the Libyan leaders to turn themselves in.

It sounds like Gaddafi should be a little bit nervous right now, but according to Fox News, this probably won’t have much effect on his behavior. Nevertheless, the Prime Minister of Turkey is calling on Gaddafi to step down “for the sake of the country’s future.”

The Guardian has an op-ed by Alaa al-Ameri arguing that NATO forces would be justified in targeting Gaddafi personally.

Various commentators have declared that the deaths [allegedly of Gaddafi’s son and possibly others] prove Nato has overstepped its mandate, and has violated international law by targeting Gaddafi personally. This is based on their definition of Gaddafi as a head of state, and their belief that the UN mandate is confined only to the establishment and maintenance of a no-fly zone. Both these premises are false.

Gaddafi is not a head of state. He is a warlord in control of a personal army that he has tasked with the mass killing and terrorising of Libyans for the crime of wishing to live as free human beings. There is no meaningful Libyan government structure or decision-making body besides Gaddafi himself and his sons.

Which logic or legal principle underlies the notion that while militia in the act of aggression against a civilian population may be attacked, the leader of that militia – actively engaged in directing the violence – is off limits? What claim to special rights and privileges can be made by a man who uses rape as a weapon of war? Which principle of international law would be eroded by his death?

Despite assertions to the contrary, UN resolution 1973 does not confine Nato action to a no-fly zone. The now familiar central clause authorises member states “to take all necessary measures to protect civilians under threat of attack in the country, including Benghazi, while excluding a foreign occupation force of any form on any part of Libyan territory”. Some critics of Nato’s action have interpreted this so narrowly as to assert that it allows no more than “a protective cordon around Benghazi”.

Another author Robert Barnidge Jr. makes a similar argument at Politico. He claims that killing bin Laden was “lawful,” and killing Gaddafi would likewise be “lawful.”

Some now argue that it is unlawful to target Qadhafi. NATO has been put on the defensive. But it shouldn’t apologize. The law is on its side.

U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973 reaffirmed that the situation in Libya threatened international peace and security. Crucially, the resolution, in paragraph 4, authorized member states to “take all necessary measures … to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya” subject only to some procedural requirements.

International law prohibits states from threatening or using force in their international relations — with two exceptions: when states act in self-defence, and when the Security Council authorizes it under chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter. Resolution 1973 is an example of the latter.

Given that Resolution 1973 is a legal instrument, the question is what paragraph 4 permits — and what it forbids. For example, both sides in the debate about the lawfulness of the 2003 invasion of Iraq largely agreed that “all necessary measures” would mean the use of force. The debate with Iraq was whether Security Council Resolution 1441 (2002) had “revived” this language in the earlier Security Council Resolution 678 (1990). (Resolution 678 used the language “all necessary means” — but there is no significant legal difference between “measures” and “means.”)

The government of Syria is still doing ghastly things to its citizens.

Amnesty International said it has received first-hand reports of torture and other ill treatment from detainees held in Syria, as a wave of arrests of anti-government protesters intensified over the weekend.

Amnesty International said “widespread, arbitrary arrests” had taken place in towns across the country in recent days. At least 499 people were detained Sunday during house-to-house raids in Daraa, a key location for pro-reform protests, the group said, adding that most were being held at unknown locations without access to lawyers or their families.

The rights group also said it had the names of 54 people killed last Friday, which brought to 542 the number of people killed during a month and a half of protests in Syria. Amnesty International stated in a report that the high number of deaths can be attributed to tactics by Syrian security forces.

The group gave the accounts of two men detained last month in the coastal city of Banias.

One detainee said he was forced to “lick blood off the floor” after being stripped and beaten, Amnesty International said in a statement. The man told the group that he and and others detained with him had been beaten with sticks and cables as well as kicked and punched.

The rights organization said the detainee also reported being held for three days without food and being forced to drink dirty water from a toilet.

Actor Jackie Cooper died on Tuesday. He was one child actor who grew up to be a successful adult actor as well.

Before the heydays of Shirley Temple and Mickey Rooney, young Jackie, a ragged urchin with a pout and a mischievous half-winked eye, was dreaming up schemes in “Our Gang” comedies and Wallace Beery pictures, like “Treasure Island,” that Hollywood churned out for the rialto.

As Americans flocked to escapist movies, he made $2,000 a week, toured the nation and hobnobbed with Bing Crosby, Tallulah Bankhead and Joan Crawford. At 9 he became the youngest Oscar nominee for best actor (a record that he still holds), in “Skippy” (1931). Later he dated Lana Turner and Judy Garland, and spent weekends on the yacht of MGM’s boss, Louis B. Mayer.

By his late teens, though, he seemed washed up, just another fading child star bound for oblivion and the life of drugs, booze and anonymity that became the fate of many of Hollywood’s forgotten children.

But he got into television in the 1950s, starring in the sitcoms “The People’s Choice” and “Hennesey,” and later became an Emmy-winning director of “M*A*S*H” and other hits; was introduced to a new generation of moviegoers as Perry White, editor of The Daily Planet, in four “Superman” films; and earned his star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame.

Have you heard about the new study that shows eating a lot of salt isn’t associated with heart problems? It was just published in the JAMA.

Jan A. Staessen, MD, PhD, of the University of Leuven, Belgium, led a study that measured urinary sodium levels in 3,681 healthy, 40-ish people and then followed their health for about eight years.

Their finding: People with the highest sodium levels had a significantly lower risk of dying from heart disease than did people with the lowest sodium levels.

“Our current findings refute the estimates of computer models of lives saved and health care costs reduced with lower salt intake,” Staessen and colleagues conclude in the Journal of the American Medical Association. “They do also not support the current recommendations of a generalized and indiscriminate reduction of salt intake at the population level.”

Repeat after me: “Correlation does not equal causation.” Every single one of the studies of diet and disease you hear about is based only on correlations (associations). Guess what? Heart disease (and cancer, and many other illnesses) run in families. There is nearly always a genetic component. I’d rather have good genes any day that trust the results of the countless studies that claim certain foods or behaviors are bad for me.


That’s it for me. What are you reading and blogging about today? Lay it on me!


40 Comments on “Thursday Reads”

  1. boogieman7167 says:

    i think the seal missain to bin Ladens compond was a kill mission .

  2. Pat Johnson says:

    Just because I am up to my ears in the bin Laden story and congress wanting to pass legislations banning abortion as the nation’s attention has been diverted while the congressional fundies set about doing another end run around women’s rights, I happened to read an article about Mariah Carey choosing names for her newborn twins.

    The boy is named Moroccan, the girl is named Monroe.

    Probably because Abercrombie and Fitch were already taken?

    Give me a break!

  3. Fannie says:

    It’s not so much pain from diaylsis, as it is fighting infection after infection, and the fact that it drains your energy everytime you connect to the machine. Either reason would be cause for someone to smoke a joint.

    And about that salt, try convincing the millions with high blood pressure to return to a diet full of salt.

    • bostonboomer says:

      The study was on “normal” people. There are some people with hereditary issues related to bp and cholesterol. On the other hand, some people with high bp or high cholesterol never develop heart problems.

      I’m not telling anyone what to eat. I don’t use any added salt–don’t even have a salt shaker. I’m sure I still get plenty in my diet though.

      • Fannie says:

        Yes, we certainly do get the added salt even if we don’t have a salt shaker.

        I’m going through testing right now for everything, but everything, and you know my husband is awaiting kidney transplant. So the re-prioritizing has been on going.

      • bostonboomer says:

        I hope everything works out OK Fannie. That sounds really stressful. I know that’s probably an understatement.

    • dakinikat says:

      India’s speaking up too saying they told the US twice in 2007 and 2008 that he as near Islamabad.

      • paper doll says:

        I’m sure they did. But you don’t cash in on an assest just any old time. As I say, a bin Laden video was not seen as enough this election

    • boogieman7167 says:

      i think if they told the Pakistan the info they were comming we still would not have killed him

      • boogieman7167 says:

        the message im stratting to here from Pakistani leaders is the same i got from sargent shultz

      • paper doll says:

        the message im stratting to here from Pakistani leaders is the same i got from sargent shultz

        Well that’s one way to keep a story straight. Don’t offer up yet another one

      • boogieman7167 says:

        i belive that high level people in the Pakistani gov knew he was there . and probley would have tiped him of if the US said they were coming

      • boogieman7167 says:

        i have a qustion dose anyone eles think that Pakistani officals knew he was there and may have even been collusion with him???

      • dakinikat says:

        I think this is still an open question. There are two hypotheses I have at the moment. I don’t think the Prez of Pakistan knew he was there… I think select Intel people probably did. However, there is information that both the Pakistanis and the Indians told the US about the compound much earlier than previously thought. It’s possible that the CIA in 2007ish may have ignored it or not investigated it thoroughly. I’ve always thought he was more useful to the Bush agenda alive and out there than captured and dead.

        I think that the Geronimo response we heard about was a confirmation to a presidential order that OBL be killed. I think they probably subdued him. There have been three stories on this so far and there’s the most ‘fog of war’ around that. I believe they had him subdued and POTUS issued a kill order rather than try to bring him back. I think with the intel they picked up via paper, computers, etc. he was more of a liability alive than he was an asset. This will probably never be known in my life time, but that’s the one thing I’d guess is ‘fishy’. I think the daughter probably saw him subdued. I think he was more useful to the Obama administration dead than alive. I think this puts him back on the front pages and off the back burner. I still think the Arab spring was making him more irrelevant every day.

        I bet Joe Cannon has some ideas on both and I’d be interested in hearing them.

      • bostonboomer says:

        Yet, if you check my post, you’ll see that the WH and Pentagon specifically say that the Seals on the scene made the decision to kill OBL. I guess we’ll never know for sure.

      • dakinikat says:

        Yeah. I know, it’s basically a conspiracy hypothesis, but when I get these gut things, they usually turn out to be right and my gut is singing high Cs on that one …

  4. dakinikat says:

    Jobless claims are up again. Gee, like we didn’t see the labor market stall coming. They’re calling it more ‘anomalies’ like car factory shut downs that couldn’t be explained by seasonality. They called it unexpected. Raise your hand if you expected a constantly improving job market!

    • paper doll says:

      lol! who could have known! The business that count ( banks) get our money directly from the government. They don’t need our direct involvement( buying ) at all . Hence, the pink slip tsunami . They finally figured out how to by pass the need for us to buy thier crap.:(

      • dakinikat says:

        The hiring figures are totally anemic. No one seems to get this is a demand problem other than economists. Wish Romer was there. She definitely gets this. Businesses are not going to hire without customers. Households are still wary. Incomes are off and prices are down on everything but food and gas which is sucking budgets up. So, everything else has no customers. You can’t get any more basic than that but the politicians in Washington DC are still talking stupid things …

      • paper doll says:

        The hiring figures are totally anemic. No one seems to get this is a demand problem other than economists

        That because those in “leadership” positions are at least hard up millionaires…and really cannot fathom that a lack of money on the consumer’s part is the problem. I remember during Bill’s first campaign for the Presidency, he proposed a 1,500 mortgage break. The wealthy Bush people laughed at the thought such a paltry sum would move anyone to vote for Bill. But it was not chicken shit to the average person and it helped Bill quite a bit. If you have tons of money yourself ,you never think lack of money is the problem for the other guy

  5. Sweet Sue says:

    My cousin was a young actress making the Hollywood rounds in the early seventies.
    She told me that Jackie Cooper was the nicest man that she ever met.
    RIP, Jackie Cooper and Mari,too.

  6. dakinikat says:

    National Journal has an interesting list of items concerning OBL they think need ‘clarification’

    Here’s just one of them as an example. They are all good.

    “[Bin Laden] was engaged in a firefight with those that entered the area of the house he was in. And whether or not he got off any rounds, I quite frankly don’t know.” This statement by Homeland Security Adviser John Brennan at Monday’s press briefing at the White House left unanswered one of the biggest questions of the operation: Was bin Laden armed? Brennan’s answer implied that he was, but at Tuesday’s briefing, Carney settled the debate: “He was not armed,” he said, in a scripted narrative written by the Defense Department. Bin Laden did “resist” U.S. forces, Carney said. He declined to elaborate beyond saying that “resistance does not require a firearm.”

  7. Minkoff Minx says:

    It appears that Jay Carney is not stepping up to the plate:

    Jay Carney is floundering under pressure, say Washington insiders – Telegraph Blogs

    “I think he’s doing very badly,” says a political contact based in Washington. “And I’ve heard others say that he’s really struggling.”

    This is a pivotal moment in Barack Obama’s presidency, a moment when the eyes of the world are locked on Washington. In the global battle for hearts and minds, it is essential that the leader of the free world exudes an air of calm authority at this time. Yet the White House’s handling of the media in the aftermath of Sunday’s events has been breathtakingly amateurish, planting seeds of doubt about the legality of the operation and about Osama bin Laden’s death that would not otherwise be there. The constantly changing narrative – or “fact pattern”, as one White House official described it – suggests that the president and his advisers have been caught on the hop and have no clear strategy for dealing with the fallout from bin Laden’s death. This is epitomised by the halting, timid delivery of Jay – “How’m I doin’?” – Carney, who must bear some of the responsibility for this communications failure.

    I think his performance yesterday was sad, but so was the fact that the story keeps changing.

    And as far as releasing the picture, I think Obama will release it when it is beneficial to him. The campaign will trot it out just before the election in 2012 to remind everyone.

  8. Minkoff Minx says:

    Hey BB, the Bruins have a chance to sweep Philadelphia…if they do Boston will be playing my team, Tampa Bay Lightning in the East Coast finals. I know you are a Red Sox fan, what about your B-town Hockey team?

    • Seriously says:

      Hey Minx, since the Bruins have no chance of going all the way, I’d much rather see them lose to the Lighning than anyone else. Since they screwed Esposito (and themselves) by trading him to the Rangers and he ended up founding the Lightning, it would be poetic justice to see them go all the way (again!!). Good luck!!!

      OTOH– it’s the Bruins. They’ll more than likely find a way to lose to the Flyers. It’s what they do. 🙂

    • bostonboomer says:

      Hi Minx,

      I’m not much of a Hockey fan. It sounds like Seriously knows her stuff though. I’ll try to follow what’s happening–keep me posted!

  9. Minkoff Minx says:

    Check out the pictures on this article, h/t Maddow Blog:

    War Dog – An FP Photo Essay By Rebecca Frankel | Foreign Policy

    Those dogs are amazing!

  10. T says:

    …thoughts

    At best, the presidential administration badly botched the public relations effort around the OBL assasination. (At worst they’re a pack of liars and are hiding something).

    Still, we are expected to believe the administration goofballs are somehow so incredibly competent that they caught Bin Laden when Bush couldn’t???? Ha-ha-ha, makes no sense whatsoever, that you could be so incompetent and so competent at the same time.

    For me, it’s obvious. The CIA and military careerists did their job. Essentially they set up a scenario wherein all the sitting president (whoever that happened to be) had to do was push a button, and bam the sucker was dead.

    So Obama certainly didn’t want to save the Bin Laden kill button for some other president! He wanted to push that button himself…and since their was no “present” button, he pushed the kill!!

    My theory on not showing the pictures is that Bin Laden was very likely a sickly older guy, having had years of kidney failure wrecking havoc on his body….didn’t look like the raging killer the govt wants to portray…doesn’t give the image of Obama as a fighting machine against evil.

    …end thoughts.