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Regardless of whether U.S. Special Forces removed bullets from the bodies of the Afghan women they just killed, as charged by the victims' relatives - and if they did, what their motivation was for doing so - spreading the story that the women's bodies had been found "tied up" and "gagged," as NATO did in a Feb. 12 press release still posted on its web site, if that was not true, would meet any disinterested observer's definition of the word "coverup."
The Marines known as "America's Battalion" were sent to Afghanistan last year as part of a contingent of 21,000 additional forces President Obama deployed in the administration's strategy to counter the Taliban insurgency. NPR followed the 2nd Battalion, 8th Regiment over the months of their deployment. They have since returned home and are settling into post-combat life.
US and NATO troops firing from passing convoys and military checkpoints have killed 30 Afghans and wounded 80 others since last summer, but in no instance did the victims prove to be a danger to troops, the New York Times reports. "We have shot an amazing number of people, but to my knowledge, none has ever proven to be a threat," said Gen. McChrystal. Such shootings have not dropped off, despite new rules from McChrystal intended to reduce them. The persistence of the shootings has led to growing resentment among Afghans angry at the impunity with which the troops operate - a friction that has turned villages firmly against the occupation, the Times says.
Contractors of a spy program that the Pentagon is investigating gathered word of a meeting between Afghan President Hamid Karzai's brother and Mullah Baradar, a top Taliban leader who was arrested weeks later in Pakistan, CNN reports. [This CNN report raises the question of whether this intelligence contributed to Baradar's arrest, and whether some US officials sought with the arrest to deliberately undermine the talks, which were supported by other US officials - JFP
An open diplomatic row with Israel during the visit of Vice President Biden has shined a spotlight on the U.S. failure to rein in Israeli settlement ambitions and deepened Palestinian suspicions the US is too weak to broker a deal, AP reports. The Palestinians largely lost faith in the U.S. as a broker after Obama tried - and failed - to get the Netanyahu government to stop building on lands Palestinians claim for a future state, AP says.
According to religious prognosticators, sinners will suffer the wrath of god in the form of earthquakes as biblical punishment for their errant ways. The declarations and explanations of such divine calamities always come after the fact, but let us not have such annoying details get in our way. Nobody is more out front in decoding god's will than Robertson; he declared that the devastating earthquake in Haiti was a consequence of Haitians making a pact with the devil.
Juan Cole at Informed Comment offers some excellent advice for climate scientists under attack from corrupt corporate and media sources. Al Gore writes that ignoring climate change won't make it go away nor will continuing to dump 90 million tons of pollutants into the atmosphere daily at the New York Times. A 110-year-old Chicago woman reflects on Jim Crow and the civil rights movemnt in the Chicago Sun Times. Those stories and more in today's picks.
Dutch Prime Minister Balkenende said he expected Dutch troops to come home from Afghanistan before the end of the year, after efforts to keep them there longer caused the government to collapse, the New York Times reports. The war in Afghanistan has been increasingly unpopular among voters in in many parts of Europe, creating strains between governments trying to please the US and their own people.
The New York Times today published a monstrous Op-Ed complaining that the U.S. is being too careful to avoid civilian deaths in Afghanistan, notes Glenn Greenwald for Salon. The US military has "begun basing doctrine on the premise that dead civilians are harmful to the conduct of war," the op-ed complains. "The trouble is, no past war has ever supplied compelling proof of that claim." Greenwald notes that in addition to publishing the monstrous op-ed, the New York Times essentially hides the identity of the author from the reader, by not explaining who she is, who she works for, what economic interests she might represent, and what is the basis of her alleged expertise. [Ask the New York Times Public Editor to investigate: [email protected] - JFP.]
Michael Lind reaches back into Anglo Saxon mythology for a political history lesson and some perspective on the "Tea Party" at Salon. Tom Engelhardt assures us that the Christmas bomber incident was not a national emergency but other reasons why we might want to hang on to our skivvies. The damage done to our country by the criminal behavior at our largest banks and financial institutions is probably far more profound than anything plotted in the caves of Tora Bora and Jim Hightower wants to know: "What happened to reforming Wall Street?" Those stories and more in today's picks
Relief efforts in Haiti are still falling short, the Washington Post reports. A fledgling food distribution network so far has largely managed to deliver only rice. Every day, tens of thousands of Haitians face a grueling quest to find any food. Overwhelmed doctors and nurses are facing converging streams of need, including untended wounds and illnesses born of poor sanitation. There are not enough crutches for amputees or people to teach them how to adjust. A U.S. physician described shortages of power, blood-pressure sleeves, and medicine.
The disturbing story of a US soldier waterboarding his baby girl, A Jim Hightower tribute to Howard Zinn, "Innovation" lives on in the GOP...cut taxes on the rich, and privatize everything, casualty reports from the AfPak drone war come under fire and Bob Herbert reports on the unfair distribution of income and pain in today's picks.
Secretary of State Clinton's effort on CNN to conflate the "threat" from Iran with that from nuclear-armed North Korea was "just bizarre," writes Juan Cole on his Informed Comment blog. Iran allows UN inspections of its nuclear facilities; there is no dispositive evidence of a weapons program. President Ahmadinejad made headlines by directing Iran's (regularly inspected) nuclear research establishment to begin attempting to enrich uranium to 19.75% so that that country will eventually have the ability to supply its own fuel for its sole reactor that produces medical isotopes for treating, e.g., cancer.
While U.S. officials prefer to focus on low-level fighters while hoping that an additional 30,000 troops can pummel the Taliban into a weaker negotiating position, President Karzai's government has stressed the need to reach out to the Islamist movement's leadership, the Washington Post reports. "It's questionable why the United States just wants to reintegrate the low level of the Taliban and not the leadership," said Karzai's policy chief. "That's something they are concerned about, but from the Afghan side, we are trying to include everyone in negotiations." In public statements, the Taliban has predicated any negotiation on the departure of foreign troops.
While the Constitution’s Article I, Section 8, invests Congress with the power “to declare War,” the law school dean points out this has been largely ignored since President Harry Truman in 1950 “de facto changed the Constitution so that not the Congress, but the President, and he alone, makes the decision on war.”
A proposal to swap the bulk of Iran's enriched uranium for fuel for a medical reactor appeared to be revived as President Ahmadinejad said Iran had "no problem" with a deal brokered by the IAEA, the Washington Post reports. U.S. officials reacted cautiously to Ahmadinejad's remarks. "If Mr. Ahmadinejad's comments reflect an updated Iranian position, we look forward to Iran informing the IAEA," said a White House spokesman.
In Viet Nam, for example, U.S. leaders caused the deaths of thousands of their own men and several million Vietnamese after they already knew they had made probably the worst mistake in American history. Velvel writes, “Our top military men create(d) free fire zones where civilians are killed on sight, and bomb and defoliate to the nth degree.” In Iraq, our leaders unleashed “a horrendous reign of terror from the skies, create a thus far thoroughly destabilized post-war society, and then, when all their other myths have shown to be myths, retroactively justify the war by saying that we got rid of an admittedly horrible dictator, his equally horrible sons, and his entirely horrible government.”
Since World War Two, an indisputably necessary conflict, Velvel points out the U.S. has fought the Korean War, the Viet Nam War, secret wars in Laos and Cambodia, the First Gulf War, Afghanistan, and the Second Gulf War in Iraq. It has also invaded, bombed or “quarantined” Panama, Grenada, Cuba, Haiti, Somalia, the Sudan, Bosnia, Kosovo, Serbia and Libya, and has “declared” a global war on terrorists.
Yes Magazine's Brooke Jarvis brings tells an entertaining and timely story of Murray Hill Inc, the first corporation to run for political office; proving, I suppose, that some Corps retain a sense of the absurd. Haiti's thoroughly inept government is taking increasing fire from her beleaguered citizens and Jim Hightower is back firing away at Corporate personhood in today's picks.
Sherwood Ross writes about Howard Zinn's view of the "war on terror," Joan Walsh is pleased to see Obama come off the ropes and step into the center of the ring, bin Laden claims that the US did in JD Salinger?, Texas' Jim Hightower says Hang Tax 'em High and Global warming truths in today's picks.
Shades of Watergate in Louisiana, from Informed Comment, Whats this Pelican stuff? at TPM, America's fictional Democracy, from Chris Hedges, Big Surprise, another lie from the CIA, and Garrison Keillor says "let the uninsured die?" These and other stories in today's picks.
Jim Hightower takes on the Supremes' prostitution to corporate plutocracy, Glen Greenwald wants to know whats so sacred about the defense budget, Blackwater (Xe) mercenaries still in the news, Terrible numbers from Haiti, and questions about Afghanistan and Pakistan in todays picks.
The Real News' take on Pat Robertson's Hait1 and the Devil BS, A NYT Editorial on Reforming the criminals in the financial industry, and an "Informed Comment" from Juan Cole on the latest bin Laden tape: "First, I do not think it is genuine. Second, I think it demonstrates that Bin Laden, whether he is dead or alive, is now irrelevant" are among the stories in today's picks.
We saw this type of Iraq-style disaster profiteering in New Orleans, and you can expect to see a lot more of this in Haiti over the coming days, weeks and months. Private security companies are seeing big dollar signs in Haiti thanks in no small part to the media hype about "looters." After Katrina, the number of private security companies registered (and unregistered) multiplied overnight. Banks, wealthy individuals, the US government all hired private security.
A Doctors Without Borders plane carrying medical equipment, surgical supplies and two dialysis machines, was turned away from Port-au-Prince Hait airport since Sunday night despite repeated assurances of its ability to land there. Bigfoot,Flying saucer,Michael Savage,Zombie, and Jessica Alba were not onboard
The Orwellian-named mercenary trade group, the International Peace Operations Association, didn’t waste much time in offering the “services” of its member companies like Blackwater/Xe, and Triple Canopy to swoop down on Haiti and it's eartquake stricke populace for some old fashioned humanitarian assistance disaster profiteering.
In keeping with party advisories, every effort must be used to keep our media assets, not only at Fox and CNN, NBC, ABC, CBS and the print media but our hundreds of bloggers “on message.” In keeping with Pat Robertson’s decision to blame the deaths of tens of thousands and the millions homeless on the victims themselves, we will be issuing continual updates on Satan worship, Voodoo while killing any and all stories comparing the Haiti disaster to our failure to quash press stories on our failures during Katrina. Limbaugh himself has suggested that we put him on live TV issuing “Zombie Alerts” and damning the Obama administration for its failure to implement a “Zombification Prevention Program” though the Heritage Foundation had warned of this possibility during their “End of Days, What You Can Do To Be Safe” conference held at George Washington University, Chaired by Dr. Nidal Hasan.