Sunday, August 25, 2013

Truest statement of the week

The anti-democratic character of the trial itself served as an obstacle to the waging of a principled legal defense. At the same, Manning’s lead defense attorney, David Coombs, worked entirely within the framework set out by the military and the Obama administration and refused to mount a political defense of the young whistleblower.

-- Eric London, "US prosecutors: Manning 'does not deserve the mercy of a court of law'" (WSWS).

Truest statement of the week II

On Wednesday, President Obama insisted there was no NSA spying on Americans, just hours after the government was forced to release documents showing broad, systematic spying on Americans had been going on for years. Today, President Obama insisted that all the violations were “inadvertent and accidental” and, well you can probably see where this is headed.
Continuing the strategy of lying at the worst possible time, Obama’s claims were immediately followed by a report from the NSA Inspector General, which showed that there were several instances of “willful violations” in which the NSA deliberately broke rules so they could spy on Americans.
President Obama’s latest flat out lie came during a CNN interview in which he insisted he was determined to “do a better job” convincing Americans that the NSA programs are being carried out legally and aren’t being abused.

-- Jason Ditz, "Obama Keeps Lying on NSA: Insists Violations 'Inadvertent'" (

A note to our readers

Hey --
Another Sunday.

First up, we thank all who participated this edition which includes Dallas and the following:

The Third Estate Sunday Review's Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess and Ava,
Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude,
Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man,
C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review,
Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills),
Mike of Mikey Likes It!,
Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz),
Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix,
Ruth of Ruth's Report,
Wally of The Daily Jot,
Trina of Trina's Kitchen,
Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends,
Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts,
and Ann of Ann's Mega Dub.

We thank them all. This was the second Sunday we were all together in California so we probably should have done a roundtable.  But we didn't.  What did we come up with?

We believe this is Eric London's first truest.  Marcia nominated him.
Jason Ditz has been a truest before.  Kat nominated this one.
What will Nouri do now as all eyes look everywhere but Iraq?

Ava and C.I. took the hard piece, the heavy lifting.  At one point, they had a Comedy Central show also in this review and it was hilarious.  But as everyone laughed hard while I (Jim) read it out loud, they made the decision to pull everything that wasn't about Syria.  This is a really strong piece.  
A short feature.
At the request of the readers, we return to the kitchen.

The text?  Probably worth nothing.  But Ava and C.I. got three public domain photos (the last three in the piece) from the Library of Congress of Dietrich and we wanted to use them before we forgot.
In Style.  Other than The New York Times, it may be our most picked upon publication at this site.
Today you get in free.

Workers World repost.
Senate Veterans Affairs Committee notice, plus (in italics) C.I.

Mike and the gang did this and we thank them for it.


-- Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava and C.I.

Editorial: Eyes everywhere but Iraq

Reuters reports this morning, "At least 22 people were killed across Iraq on Sunday, including five soldiers who were shot dead by gunmen who then burned their bodies, police and military sources said."  Yes, violence continues in Iraq with Iraq Body Count counting 630 violent deaths for the month thus far through Saturday.  As Lara Jakes (AP) observed August 16th, despite the ongoing violence, Iraq was disappearing in the news cycle.


And that disappearance certainly explains how Friday's protests in Baquba, Tikrit, Baji, Mosul, Falluja, Baghdad's AdhamiyaSamarra, Rawah, Jalawah, and Ramadi got ignored -- as did the fact that they were part of an ongoing wave of protests launched December 21st.

While violence and funerals took place, Nouri went to India.


[Nouri with India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.]

He returned to Iraq today, All Iraq News reported.  Not that it matters.

He's had seven years to improve living conditions for Iraqis and he has failed repeatedly.

When the protests kicked off, he made a pretense of listening (when not calling the peaceful protesters "terrorists").  But, as he saw that the international press he feared was not paying attention, he stopped pretending he cared about the protests.

The international press' lack of attention, the same lack of attention Lara Jake noted, helped Nouri decide to attack the protesters on a massive scale.  Tuesday, April 23rd saw a massacre of the sit-in in Hawija by Nouri's federal forces.  Alsumaria noted Kirkuk's Department of Health (Hawija is in Kirkuk)  announced 50 activists have died and 110 were injured in the assault.  UNICEF informed the world that 8 of the dead were children and twelve more children were left injured.

There was some minor press attention briefly.  By the time UNICEF had issued its finding, the press had already moved on which is why US outlets never mention the children killed in the assault.

What will Nouri do next?

One thing is visit the United States where he'll address 'security issues' with the White House and, apparently, ask for even more troops in Iraq.  This would be a formal request.  For weeks, Nouri and the White House are said to have been discussing this move.

Would such a request mean that the US press would suddenly remember Iraq again?

Probably not.

After all, for nearly a year, US news outlets have ignored  Tim Arango's September 25th New York Times report which noted, "Iraq and the United States are negotiating an agreement that could result in the return of small units of American soldiers to Iraq on training missions.  At the request of the Iraqi government, according to [US] General [Robert L.] Caslen, a unit of Army Special Operations soldiers was recently deployed to Iraq to advise on counterterrorism and help with intelligence."

It's amazing how few people are aware of that report.

Media: Pimping War

It's not often you hear a sitting US president called a p**sy on national radio.  Even less so on National Public Radio.  But that's pretty much what happened last week.


It shouldn't have happened for a number of reasons.

First and foremost, an adult was supposed to be present: USA Today's Susan Page.

She was, in fact, supposed to be the guest host for both hours of The Diane Rehm Show and had even Tweeted about it:

  • Looking forward to hosting show today - Intl News Roundup - w/ Warren Strobel, ,

  • And with Susan and the New York Times' Mark Landler, things might have been different.

    Instead, Pentagon chew-toy Tom Gjelten was the guest host and, if you stood still and silent, you could almost hear the nation shudder in horror.

    The second hour of The Diane Rehm Show kicked off with over 15 minutes of war propaganda, with Barack laughed at (listen, they're actually amused) for not starting war with Syria, with ridiculous claims presented as fact and so much more.  How do wars get started?

    In part, they get started by media calling for them and presenting one-sided arguments.

    That's what Tom offered, it's what  McClatchy Newspapers' Warren P. Strobel offered [we warned you here repeatedly about him -- most recently in "Media: The Destruction of McClatchy will be broadcast (it all hits the fan)" and "Media: The destruction of McClatchy willbe broadcast, not printed (Iraq)"], it's what the awful Barbara Slavin (Al-Monitor) offered and it's what Mark Lander increasingly offered as he stopped hedging and decided to roll in the mud with the other three pigs.

    Let's stop here for a moment because we have the power to call this out and we should and do use that power.  But here, in our space, we also have the power to correct. Let's start with International Action Center's Sara Flounders.

    Sara Flounders: A big thing on Syria, and a reason that the US is determined to destroy it, to shred it, to rip it apart is that it is a secular state and there is nationalized property.  And, as Barbara just described, there's a rich culture.  There's enormous -- whether it's in TV or it's archaeological or its the high education level, or it's the fantastic, really, I mean, the medical schools?  Top notch.  The pharmaceutical industry.   They want to destroy all of this.  And they also -- It's what they want to destroy.  It's what they're targeting in Iran.  The idea of a country using its oil wealth for its own development and the development of the culture and the educational level of its people and a huge improvement in life expectancy -- a big cut in child mortality.  That's big accomplishments.  But the very fact that Syria -- it's an example to the whole region --  could be a multi-ethnic, multi-religious, multi-cultural, secular state.  And it's secular, see.  And the US response has been how to bring in intolerant religious fanaticism.   And fund it.  And fund it and use it as a battering ram against any kind of progress.

    Sara Flounders wasn't on the program.  She couldn't be.  She can't sing from the War Is Good hymnal.  But she can speak her truth and she's been doing that for some time including in this Workers World video.

    She's an American.  She follows current events and writes often of them.  If the US is planning military action, voices like Sara's have every right to be involved in the debate.

    The debate?

    Saturday morning, we went to visit a down on her luck friend and take care of errands for her.  That means we covered her expenses as we went to various stores.  At the liquor store she frequents, she was entranced by the TV broadcast.  It was Fox News.

    Back at her place, as we helped her unpack groceries, booze and some clothing, she informed us, "I'm thinking about it and, man, Barack needs to send some missiles over there."

    She continued speaking for quite a bit more before she noticed our shocked faces.

    This woman spoke out against the Iraq War (as did we), she voted for Barack for president twice (our hands are clean), she defines herself as a Socialist and, to her, that largely means that she grumbles about any police officer she sees -- under her breath until they are out of ear shot.  She hates all forms of authority (and every Oval Office occupant except for Barack).

    Yet here she was --  granted, suffering from momentary Fox News exposure -- insisting that the answer was for the US government to play cops of the world and bomb Syria?  Hit it, Carly.

    Strange times in Portland, Maine
    Lobsters dancing on the docks
    Switzerland's been weird since they unplugged the clocks
    Man and a woman in Brooklyn Heights
    Each convinced the other's in the wrong
    While last year the divorce rate tripled in Hong Kong

    If through all the madness
    We can stick together
    We're safe and sound
    The world's just inside out and upside down

    -- "Safe and Sound," written by Jacob Brackman and Carly Simon, first appears on her Hotcakes


    And our friend?

    She's one of the good people who lose their way.  When the media wants war and sells war, many good people can lose their way.

    The media ensures this by keeping people like Sara Flounders out of the discussion.

    The media ensures this by promoting war and setting doubts and facts to the side.

    Let's review that first 15 minutes.

    Tom Gjelten quickly declares 1000 dead in Syria and that "it certainly appears that chemical weapons have been used" (at a time when no such thing was certain).  Mark Landler noted some in the US government believe chemical weapons were used, that there are "expressions of certainty from Israel," that the White House met with top US officials Thursday to discuss what might have happened and how and if to respond.  Gjelten stated Barack noted concerns in a CNN interview but "words don't mean all that much anymore."  Barbara Slavin chimed in to compare the whole thing -- with Tom's help -- to when "Saddam Hussein used poison gas" on the Kurds in Halabja.

    Slavin then repeated "words don't seem to matter much" and noted Barack had "warned of enormous consequences" and done so "just a year ago" but nothing happened, but "then, of course, in April the administration confirmed that there had been some use of chemical weapons.  And at the time Obama promised that there would be weapons sent to -- not chemical weapons, but other weapons -- sent to the Syrian opposition.  As far as we know, that hasn't happened yet.  So I think there are real questions about the credibility of the Obama administration if it doesn't react in some more forceful way."

    And they weren't done yet.

    But grasp what took place.  NPR refuses to question the credibility of the administration with regards to spying on the American people, despite one revelation after another, despite one lie after another.  But the network explains that if Barack "doesn't react in some more forceful way" with Syria, he will lose credibility.

    Those are the priorities when media whores gather.

    Gjelten was amused at this point and felt the need to remind that "the red line was actually crossed a couple of months ago and," excuse his mirth, Warren Strobel, explain what happened then. An amused Warren explained the administration insisted on background that they were going to send lethal arms to the so-called rebels but that never happened.

    Warren Strobel:  I think Obama's really on the spot here. And let's not forget, almost two years ago to the day, August 18, 2011, he called on President Assad to leave power.

    And that didn't happen either.

    Gjelten, moving the conversation along, pruned options to "sending arms to rebels" or what?  Mark offered there could be "a one-off cruise missile strike."  And maybe this would back up what Barack's talk of the red line was meant to do -- meant to do but "which has clearly failed."

    At this point, possibly remembering he was a reporter, Mark Landler cited the Chair of the Joint-Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark Dempsey, and referred to his statements about complexities.  But when you sell war, you stay focused on propaganda which is why Gjelten cut him off with "Right" and immediately went to Barbara to ask if the UN was needed to determine what happened?

    Barbara Slavin:  Yeah, but it's not necessary. I mean there are other ways in terms of interviewing survivors and other ways in which U.S. intelligence was able to verify the previous claims of chemical weapons use. So it would be good, but I don't think it's essential. Also, you know, the administration has used many excuses for inaction in Syria over the last two years. And it just strikes me that so many of their arguments -- I mean if you look at what the Israelis have done, they've repeatedly now -- two or three times -- gone into Syria and hit discreet targets that they thought were of concern. When it appeared that certain weapons were being transferred to Hezbollah, for example, the Israelis went in and struck. They even killed a senior member of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps during one of their strikes. And why the United States could not do one or two strikes -- also, it appears that U.S. -- if not U.S. domestic opinion is changing, certainly opinion in Congress is changing about this. Some of the folks who were more dovish are turning more hawkish after this.  And even a few weeks ago you had Carl Levin, the chairman of the Armed Services Committee, talking about the need for strikes on Syrian airplanes, air fields, missile batteries. So there are steps that could be taken without embroiling the United States deeply in this war. 

    You really need to re-read that passage to grasp both the hubris and the inherent stupidity of Barbara Slavin.

    Mainly, you should wonder how, after Iraq or the failures of 9-11, Slavin can cite US intelligence as trust worthy.

    Gjelten then noted that a journalist was kidnapped "by the rebel forces."  And, gosh, The New York Times splashed that on the front page and "did not present those rebel forces in a very positive light."  Strobel to the rescue, that's "al-Nusra Front [and it] is not the largest in terms of size."

    Oh, well thank goodness.  Just a tiny element of the 'rebels' are kidnapping journalists.

    Strobel allowed that "the Pentagon, from day one, and Dempsey's letter reflects it, they want no part of this" but "the State Deparment and John Kerry have consistently been pushing for more action."

    The discussion repeatedly hit a low point throughout, but one stand out moment has to be this.

    Tom Gjelten:  Well, you know, I mentioned this interview that President Obama gave to CNN. And in that interview he said the American people expect me to think before taking action. And that's probably true. And I mean, Barbara, I didn't mean -- do we -- is there really popular appetite for something beyond cruise missiles and, you know, one-off bombing raids? 

    Barbara Slavin:  Possibly not, but there's also, you know, the question of whether we're over thinking this. 

    Trust us, no one's ever accused Barbara Slavin of over thinking -- or even accused her of thought.

    Barbara Slavin:  I mean, sometimes you just have to respond to an atrocity. 

    Where there's ass to be kicked, there is Barbara Slavin . . . urging someone else to do it.  And if she wants to respond to an atrocity, we'd suggest she start by going after whomever gave her that ridiculous haircut.

    Barbara Slavin:  And, you know, there's a question of whether the United States is now suffering from Iraq syndrome or Afghanistan syndrome, whatever you want to call it --

    Mere thinking might provide the answer as to what to call it but, again, Slavin's known for being a non-thinker.

    Barbara Slavin: --  that we're so afraid of getting involved in another war that we're paralyzed in a case like this. And I think if it's proven that the Assad regime killed more than 1000 people with chemical weapons, it's not enough just to call an urgent session of the U.N. Security Council. 

    Wait.  "We're"?

    Okay, we're confused.  We need to know what war Barbara Slavin is a veteran of because we weren't aware of her military service.

    She has no military experience?  She's supposed to be an independent journalist?

    Well they don't generally make statements like "we're so afraid of getting involved in another war that we're paralyzed in a case like this."

    Reporters also usually don't treat general's opinions as material for brief asides.  Gen. Martin Dempsey's thoughts last week were conveyed in an August 19th letter to US House Rep Eliot Engel -- a letter Engel leaked to the Associated Press (really, Engel, did you think no one would find out?) in an effort to push the US government into action against Syria.

    The letter from Dempsey is now online and you can read it [PDF format warning] at the House Foreign Affairs Committee's Democratic Party website:

    To the specific point in your letter, there are certainly actions short of tipping the balance of the conflict that could impose a cost on them [Syrian government] for unacceptable behavior.  We can destroy the Syrian Air Force.  The loss of Assad's Air Force would negate his ability to attack opposition forces from the air, but it would also escalate and potentially further commit the United States to the conflict.  In a variety of ways, the use of U.S. military force can change the military balance, but it cannot resolve the underlying and historic, ethnic, religious, and tribal issues that are fueling this conflict.
    Syria today is not about choosing between two sides but rather about choosing one among many sides.  It is my belief that thr side we choose must be ready to promote their interests and ours when the balance shifts in their favor.  Today, they are not.  The crisis in Syria is tragic and complex.  It is a deeply rooted, long-term conflict among multiple factions, and violent struggles for power will continue after Assad's rule ends.  We should evaluate the effectiveness of limited military options in this context.  

    Possibly backing up Dempsey's view is Matthew Schrier.


    That would be the journalist, the kidnapped one.

    Strangest thing, four journalists present on Diane's show and Schrier's on the front page of The New York Times but not one of them knows his name or can mention it?

    Of course not.  Never name the victims when it doesn't help your case for war.

    Schrier was tortured by the so-called rebels who mocked him and said this was retribution for Guantanamo Bay Prison.  Sort of goes to Dempsey's points.

    Friday, the same day the 'reporters' were treating the alleged attack as real and carried out by the Syrian government,  Jason Ditz ( pointed out, "Officials continue hyping Wednesday’s allegations of a chemical weapons strike, saying that they believe such an attack probably happened even though they don’t have any actual proof to back that up."

    And when you have no proof and you're pimping war, you insult.  In the lead up to the Iraq War, the press insulted protesters.  In the march to war on Syria, we hear the press attempting to bait Barack into it by inferring he's a p**sy and that he'd losing his credibility by not killing people.

    And maybe it will work considering how image conscious Barack is.

    But are you starting to get just how f**ked up the press actually is?

    As we listened to the horrid broadcast, we were reminded that Diane Rehm always brags that her listeners are the smartest people.  So we checked the message board.

    Sure enough, Diane is right.

    Her listeners, in comment after comment, not only rejected the war being pimped, they rejected the pimps as well.  For example:

    I am very surprised at the comments made by Barbara concerning our role in Syria. She clearly wants to get in there ASAP, and the saber rattling in her comments is pretty chilling. Barbara - why is it our responsibility to go in there? You're advocating even unilateral intervention! Unbelievable. You've clearly been drinking to much of the cool aid at the Atlantic Counsel luncheons. Hey, are you a journalist, or a neo-con meddler?
    You had the gall to also suggest said that we may be suffering from "Iraq Syndrome." Well, THAT'S A GOOD THING! I commend the President for his great reluctance regarding intervention - I wish the last dope had the foresight to avoid similar entanglements.

    August 23, 2013 - 11:32 am
    It has yet to be determined that the Syrian Regime was the party responsible for using chemical weapons. If the evidence eventually proofs that the rebels were the ones responsible; Is the U.S. prepared to take the side of Assad? Twenty years ago we heard the testimony from a young lady named Nayirah. And about a decade ago we were given indisputable evidence of WMDs in Iraq. Both testimonials were eventually discredited. Unfortunate too late for far too many. Isn't it time that "journalists" return to objective reporting instead of reporting conjecture.

    August 23, 2013 - 11:33 am
    It's not even clear that chemical weapons were used at all, though that seems likely. That is my take from interview with Raymond Zilinskas, a former U.N. chemical and biological weapons inspector in Iraq, who directs the Chemical and Biological Weapons Nonproliferation Program at the Monterey Institute of International Studies. That would be the first question, before attribution. Asking this question is not "overthinking."
    Barbara Slavin said we should not "overthink" intervention. She then hedged by saying if we have proof that Assad regime used chemical weapons. Her comments lead me to believe she will not worry much about the standard of proof. I agree with BrooksDavid that her saber-rattling was chilling, but I am not sure if she is a neocon, or a cruise missile humanitarian.

    August 23, 2013 - 12:28 pm
    I think the so called "iraq syndrome" is positive, another name for common sense, rational thinking, caution, and a clear eyed realization that the 10 years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan was a colossal waste of resources and lives. The press should stop their slick manipulative name calling. And furthermore the press should stop hounding and bullying the American people into going to war.
    August 23, 2013 - 4:28 pm

    Whose American sons and daughters do these neocons want to send into Syria? Surely not their own. Isn't that always the case with these warmongers.

    Yes, it is always the case.  And thinking about it (over thinking?), we realized that there was no Iraq War syndrome.  There was only less gullibility as a result of the public catching on to just how much they were lied to.  Though we'd take away the Iraq War in a minute if we had a magic wand, if that dreadful and illegal war had to take place, at least it's left citizens more aware of just how dishonest their government can be and just how much the media lies.

    It had to happen . . .


    As this August 22nd White House photo by Pete Souza demonstrates, it finally happened.

    In Rochester, New York's Magnolia's Deli & Cafe, Barack's speechifying sent one child (seen on the floor) into seizures. White House officials insist on background that, until now, the worst has been howling dogs.

    From The TESR Test Kitchen

    Granola bars come in many varieties and picking one can be difficult.  Enter Monkey Bars (Chewy Granola Bar) which boasts, "FOR KIDS AND IMMATURE ADULTS" and swears its 100% natural.

    monkey bars2

    It may be 100% natural but it tastes like 100% crap.

    Or at least the chocolate peanut butter banana flavor does.

    More precisely, it tastes like a few bits of granola sprinkled on top of a brick.

    And a bland and tasteless brick at that.

    The thick brick layer of peanut butter, banana and chocolate somehow finds all three flavors canceling one another out leaving behind bland.

    If you're looking for an actual granola bar, we happen to love Kellogg's Fiber Plus Antioxidants Bar Chocolate Chip.


    dietrich 4

    90 years ago, Marlene Dietrich made her first film, The Little Napoleon.  It was the first of 55 films she'd make (56 if you count Im Schatten des Glucks which some maintain was Dietrich's 1919 film debut).

    dietrich 6

    1930's Blue Angel (filmed in German and English) was a crowning point of her early career.  Later that year, she traveled to America in 1930 and, with the film, Morocco, kicked off a series of film classics in English.


    These included Shanghai Express, Blonde Venus, Desire, Destry Rides Again, Kismet, Billy Wilder's A Foreign Affair and Witness for the Prosecution,  Orson Welles' Touch of Evil, Alfred Hitchcock's Stage Fright. and Fritz Lang's Rancho Notorious.  Her final film acting role (non-cameo) was in 1961's Judgment at Nuremberg.

    dietrich 3

    A decade prior, she'd begun performing live and this would be her professional focus on through the seventies.

    dietrich uso

    Dietrich passed away in 1992.  Even today, she remains famous for her acting, charisma, USO work during WWII,  her relationship with Otto Katz,  her many affairs with men and women and always for her cheekbones.

    Look out, NYT!

    What was Kerry Washington doing in 2006?  Apparently something deeply sinister because In Style charts her "Transformation" in the current issue, covering all the years from 2004 through 2013 with only one omission: 2006.

    We're assuming she was part of NASA's STS-121 mission and that preparing for it kept her busy up to the July 4th launch while she was busy with debriefing for the rest of the year.


    Yes, the new issue of In Style is out, featuring Drew Barrymore on the cover and announcing "OUR BIGGEST ISSUE EVER!! 716 PAGES!"

    That's right, America, there finally is something just as large as the Sunday New York Times that is even more useless.

    Along with raising the issue of Kerry Washington's 2006 whereabouts, the magazine also explains why models are so thin:  A Bloomingdale's ads shows picking at a plate of gold jewelry.  And it's time to "LOVE YOUR CLOSET!"  (poor Wentworth Miller, he really picked the wrong time to come out).

    Oil of Olay has a new commercial which thinks it can fool you into thinking it's something more by being a behind-the-scenes of an Oil of Olay commercial.  In Style puts the same practice into print -- with one so-called 'feature' being not all that different from the ads which take up the bulk of the magazine (Vanity Fair, eat your heart out!).

    In what passes for articles about Drew Barrymore, a series of brief sentences hawk Drew's cosmetic line as well as her wine line.  She deserved so much better.

    But hats off to In Style for proving a magazine for non-readers can continue to publish and thrive.

    Get thee to a national park

    Plans for today?


    Get thee to a national park!

    The National Park Service announces:

    It's our birthday, and we hope you'll visit a national park and help us celebrate! On August 25, the National Park Service turns 97 years old. We are waiving entrance fees and inviting everyone to join in the festivities taking place coast-to-coast.
    Our big day, Sunday, August 25, is a fee-free day, so head to any of the country's 401 national parks and take in the scenery, learn a little history, or simply enjoy the great outdoors.
    Ninety-seven may sound old, but we're young at heart and celebrating with everyone who shares our youthful exuberance! Parks across the country are offering loads of fun activities. Take the kids on a snorkel adventure, bike ride, kayak tour, hike, or archaeological dig. Catch a campfire talk, make a painting, or explore the cavernous underworld. Search the events calendar to find out what's happening at a park near you! You can help the kids earn a free Junior Ranger badge at almost any park—just ask at the visitor center.

    The National Park Service falls under the Department of Interior and the official timeline notes:

    Starting in the 1800s, the scenic natural wonders of the West, places like mineral springs in Arkansas, towering mountains and majestic trees of Yosemite, spouting geysers of Yellowstone, and the arid ruins of Casa Grande, inspired individual Americans to call for their preservation, asking their government to create something called “national parks.”

    In 1916, the work of caring for these places was moved to a new agency created by Congress for that specific purpose. The National Park Service was given the responsibility to not only conserve and protect parks, but also to leave them “unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.” 

    Fight to free Chelsea Manning (Workers World)

    Repost from Workers World:

    Fight to free Chelsea Manning

    By on August 22, 2013

    It was no surprise, but no less a crime of U.S. military injustice, that Pvt. Chelsea Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison. And there is no reason that the movement that supports this young soldier, whose actions most of the world’s people consider heroic, should slow down its actions to win Manning’s freedom.

    Thus, it is encouraging that her legal defense is already appealing for a presidential pardon, that the American Civil Liberties Union has denounced the sentence, that Amnesty International has called on President Barack Obama to commute it to time already served and that the Center for Constitutional Rights — which just won an important legal case against the racist “stop and frisk” police actions in New York City — has called for a full pardon.

    Workers World calls on its readers and supporters to back all the efforts to stop punishing this exemplary soldier, who has shown the world that right in the belly of the beast, in the heart of the empire, in the very entrails of the Pentagon, the spark of solidarity with the world’s oppressed can light a fire.

    It is a telling sign that even the editorial board of the New York Times found it necessary to distance itself from the harsh sentence, which it found overly punitive and based on the imperialist state apparatus’s perceived need to stop whistleblowers from exposing the crimes of the empire. It is certainly true that the sentence has nothing to do with law and justice as these ideas are taught in the universities or expounded in ruling-class propaganda, which tries to paint the United States as the pinnacle of freedom and justice. The sentence has more to do with what those in power believe is necessary to stop others from reporting the lies, crimes and murders they witness as unwilling agents of the center of world oppression and exploitation.

    From the point of view of the exploited workers of the world — and all workers are exploited — who want independence for their nations and want to fight for a decent life, it is important now to fight for Manning’s freedom exactly because it will encourage others to follow the private’s example.
    How encouraging it is for all who love freedom, for all who identify with the most oppressed, that a private first class, the lowest rung in the U.S. military, was able to throw a wrench into the machinery of U.S. imperialism. May Manning’s splendid example spread to tens, hundreds and thousands of those in the U.S. military, to those civilian employees of the Pentagon, the National Security Agency and other instruments of oppression; and may they too identify with the workers and poor of the world.
    In another sign of the courage Manning has displayed throughout the three years of incarceration, the private — the sentence removed the “first class” from the title — announced her wish to live her life as a woman and to be called Chelsea Manning. This adds another dimension to her struggle; we salute her determination to live a life where truth is more important than personal gain, and where the injustice of seeing civilians gunned down in an Iraqi city by U.S. gunships awakens a need to resist despite the risks.

    Free Pvt. Chelsea Manning!

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    Senate Veterans Affairs Committee field hearing


    There will be a meeting of the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs at the Southcentral Foundation in Anchorage, Alaska on Monday, August 26, 2013, at 9:30 a.m. to conduct a field hearing titled “The State of Veterans Services in Alaska”.
    Heather L Vachon
    Chief Clerk
    Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs
    SR-412 Russell Senate Office Building

    A field hearing is when they go outside DC.  Alaska's veterans are lucky to have Senator Mark Begich who never fails to raise their issues in DC Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hearings.  He ensures that the VA is aware of their needs and the problems they face -- problems that usually go to the rural nature of Alaska and how that impacts access.

    This hearing is this Monday morning and a perfect time for Alaska's veterans, their families, supporters and those interested in the Senate process to show up. 


     This piece is written by Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude, Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix, Kat of Kat's Korner, Betty of Thomas Friedman is a Great Man, Mike of Mikey Likes It!, Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz, Ruth of Ruth's Report, Marcia of SICKOFITRADLZ, Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends, Ann of Ann's Mega Dub, Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts and Wally of The Daily Jot. Unless otherwise noted, we picked all highlights.

    "A lack of reasoning never silenced Jeffrey Toobin" -- most requested highlight of the week by readers of this site.

    "Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Your Server, Barack" -- Isaiah weighs in again on the spying scandal.

    "Quick and Easy Pesto in the Kitchen" -- Trina shares a recipe and family issues.

    "IPS and Andrew Levine are sexist and stupid," "Charles Haymarket is part of the problem," "Those War Hawks," "Idiot of the Week," "Make me laugh again Jason Johnson," "Shut up Starita Smith," "Jake Tapper talks Benghazi," "More war propaganda," "The idiot DC Blogger at Corrente and the lies she ...," "Superficial NPR" and "More nonsense from The Advocate" -- press critiques from the community.

    "Jason Ditz shares the truth," "Spying and Linda Ronstadt," "Barack and his fake glasnost," "Idiot Alex Wagner" and "More revelations about Barack's spying" -- some of the spying coverage.

    "You're Next," "Worst Bond film ever," "ben affleck: crazy or genius?," "i don't believe it," "Godfather II," "Do we really need Captain Phillips?" and "The Big Fix" -- Stan and Rebecca cover movies.

    "The VMAs," "Mistresses punishes viewers" and "What? No Zoolander sitcom?" -- Ann, Ruth and Kat cover TV.

    "Birth of a Power Bottom" -- Marcia's not impressed.

    "No Lasting Consequences" -- Isaiah dips into the archives.

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