Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Oil, colds, etc

Iraq's oil industry is in a parlous state as a result of sanctions, wars and occupation. The government, through the ministry of oil's inspector general, has issued damning reports of large-scale corruption and theft across the oil sector. Many competent senior technical officials have been sacked or demoted, and the state oil-marketing organisation has had several directors. Ministries and public organisations are increasingly operating as party fiefdoms, and private, sectarian and ethnic perspectives prevail over the national outlook. This state of affairs has negative results for all except those who are corrupt and unscrupulous, and the voracious foreign oil corporations. The official version of the draft law has not been published, but there is no doubt that it will be designed to hand most of the oil resources to foreign corporations under long-term exploration- and production-sharing agreements.
The oil law is likely to open the door to these corporations at a time when Iraq's capacity to regulate and control their activities will be highly circumscribed. It would therefore place the responsibility for protecting the country's vital national interest on the shoulders of a few vulnerable technocrats in an environment where blood and oil flow together in abundance. Common sense, fairness and Iraq's national interest dictate that this draft law must not be allowed to pass during these abnormal times, and that long-term contracts of 10, 15 or 20 years must not be signed before peace and stability return, and before Iraqis can ensure that their interests are protected.
This law has been discussed behind closed doors for much of the past year. Secret drafts have been viewed and commented on by the US government, but have not been released to the Iraqi public - and not even to all members of parliament. If the law is pushed through in these circumstances, the political process will be further discredited even further. Talk of a moderate cross-sectarian front appears designed to ease the passage of the law and the sellout to oil corporations.

Kamil Mahdi's "Iraqis Will Never Accept This Sellout to the Oil Corporations: The US-controlled Iraqi government is preparing to remove the country's most precious resource from national control" (Guardian of London via Common Dreams). I'm opening with that because it's important and because, last week on KPFA's Living Room, Antonia Juhasz was addressing this and a male guest totally dismissed her and said that any oil law could be fixed years on down the line. Well laws are harder to 'fix' once they're laws and do Iraqis have years to be ripped off (foreign companies would get 75% of the profits under the proposed law)?

I was talking to C.I. about this because it still ticks me off and was provided with the best comparison. C.I. noted how, in The BU$H Agenda: Invading the World, One Economy at a Time, Juhasz writes about trying to track down information while she wasin John Conyers' office and being told (by a male, naturally), not to worry her pretty little head about it. That was so how that dismissal played out on Living Room Thursday.

I'm about to go crazy from the cold. I live in Calfornia which should mean warm temperatures but that's not the case. (But you better believe when summer rolls around, we'll all be burning up.) Is it the third or fourth night of cold temperatures? I'm just so tired of it and trying to figure out when it will end?

Hard to tell since we don't usually get this kind of cold weather. Or maybe I'm just being a baby because I'm still shaking the crud that knocked me out weeks ago? I heard Philip Malderi on air one day, I believe last week, but it may have been the week before, and he had the same crud. He was talking about he was shaking it and would be just fine and I thought, "Oh, you have no idea." I hope he had a milder case of it but it was the same thing I had, the same thing Ava and C.I. had. And it knocked us all out. Me more so than them because they didn't stop even though they were sick. But I got over it quicker because I just took two or three days to lay on the sofa and do nothing.

Toni got it this past weekend and went to the doctor today. He gave her some antibiotics and told her he'd had it and she was lucky to have it now because they'd been experimenting for weeks and finally found what will kick it. I didn't go to the doctor. When Toni told me she had it on Sunday, I told her, "Get your butt to the doctor right away." If you get it, go to the doctor. Yes, it's just a cold but it is persistant. It is so hard to kick. It's not like a normal cold.

If you can't afford visiting the doctor remember that next time the Congress refuses to give us universal health care. And do yourself a favor and mix up the over the counter. By that I mean, do not plan to use your favorite throughout. It seems to build up resistance quickly. I started switching to other things mainly because Sumner and Maggie were buying the cough syrup and cold medicine for me and weren't sure what I used. I've talked to neighbors who've had it and if you mix it up, you seem to get over it quicker. If you stick with Contact, for instance, it builds up a resistance quickly. One of my neighbors got it right before New Year's Eve and only just got over it. He is still hacking like crazy and comes home, sits down for a second and ends up planted there. It just wipes out all of your energy.

I thought I was being a drama queen in the midst of it when I thought I was about to die. But everyone I've talked to has said you just feel awful. You really do. I don't get colds that often but this was like no cold I'd had before. It's still going around so, hopefully, if you do get it, I've provided you with some information. I'll also add that the cough lingers. I've still got it. It's the weakest little cough now and I'm embarrassed every time I cough because it's this little sputter. But this thing lingers.

That's it for me tonight. Oh wait, yesterday's post that appeared at everyone's site participating was typed by Jim and myself. There were typos. Everyone's corrected them (or the ones we could find) but blame Jim and me for the typing. We were tired because Blogger/Blogspot kept going out and rushing to get it posted (at C.I.'s site first) when we finally had a window of opportunity where Blogger/Blogspot was up.

Ava and C.I. took notes (the transcript) and we typed from those but we were tired. (And Ava and C.I. had already left, along with Jess, because they had an thing they had to be at.) So Jim and I both say the typos were our fault and if you're a member of the community and they bothered you, our apologies. If you're not and they bothered you, too bad.
Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Tuesday, January 16, 2007. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, the United Nations issues a report that seems to go unread (or maybe the news industry has decided, yet again, to ignore Iraqi women?) , US war resister Agustin Aguayo has been charged by the US military, Bully Boy explains to 60 Minutes that the ten words last week were meaningless, the US military announces the death of four US soldiers, and the New York Times is going to have actually report on the chaos and violence in tomorrow's paper because with over 100 dead in Baghdad alone today even the desperate to sell the war Timid can't look the other way.

Starting with war resistance within the military, US war resister Agustin Aguayo, a medic with the US army, gave his reasons for refusing to redeploy to Iraq for a second tour in a statement to the US Court of Appeals in DC which was preparing to hear his appeal to be designated a conscientious objector:

With or without non-combatant status I will not deploy to Iraq. I have been to Iraq for Operation Iraqi Freedom II, and I know what to expect. I know what will be expected of me. And because of this first-hand knowledge, I simply cannot take part in this deployment. Some people might think that a fear of death is the reason for refusing to deploy. But that is incorrect. I have to be true to myself and do what is right. Even though I deployed as a non-combatant in 2004-05 I still carry guilt from my participation. While there as a non-combatant, I was still required to do guard-duty, although I chose to carry only an unloaded gun. While there as a non-combatant, I was still required to patch-up, treat, and help countless soldiers for "sick-call" in order to facilitate their prompt return to combatant duties. While there as a non-combatant, I was asked to drive soldiers around on patrols, patrols which could have been deadly to Americans and Iraqis alike. I regret involvement in those activities, because ultimately I was contributing to the war mission and enabling others to do what I oppose. By doing guard duty, appearing to be armed, even without bullets, I gave the false impression that I would kill if need be. I am not willing to live a lie to satisfy any deployment operation. By helping countless soldiers for "sick-call" as well as driving soldiers around on patrols I helped them get physically better and be able to go out and do the very thing I am against -- kill. This is something my conscience will not allow me to do. Although I myself did not pull the trigger, I now realize that what I did as a non-combatant nonetheless supported and enabled these missions. I cannot carry that burden on my conscience. When you know better you do better.

Aguayo self-checked out of the US military on September 2nd and
turned himself at Fort Irwin on September 26. Aguayo has argued that his Last Friday, Kevin Dougherty (Stars & Stripes) reported that the US military has charged Aguayo with desertion and missing movement and that conviction on both charges "could receive a maximum prison term of seven years". The charge of desertion is interesting in that (a) Aguayo turned himself in, (b) he was gone less than 30 days, and (c) the US Court of Appeals was set to hear his case. Also of interest is that, though no date's been set for the trial/court-martial, the military's decided to announce charges when his claim for c.o. status still awaits a ruling from the US Court of Appeals.

Turning to other war resistance news,
Iraq Veterans Against the War started Camp Resistance to show their support for Ehren Watada who faces a court-martial February 5, 2007. damon reports that they intend to stay "outside the gates of Fort Lewis and on the streets across the nation" in order "to make an impression large enough to influence the outcome of the trial". What do they need? They need:

financial support for getting
IVAW members here at Fort Lewis, particularly on the day of the trial. Also, we envision Camp Resistance FOBs (Forward Operating Base) starting all over the country; in front of recruiter's offices, military bases, etcetera. When we got kicked out of our campsite, we came to the realization that Camp Resistance is not a physical place, but a place within our hearts and minds. If your heart is filled with resistance to this illegal war and Love for LT, you can start a daily vigil in your local area or join us here at Fort Lewis.

They also need attention -- make sure your friends know and start demanding that media, big and small (also known as Useless & Useless) cover Camp Resistance.

Agustin Aguayo and Ehren Watada are part of a movement of resistance within the military that also includes Kyle Snyder, Ivan Brobeck, Darrell Anderson, Ricky Clousing, Aidan Delgado, Mark Wilkerson, Joshua Key, Camilo Meija, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Jeremy Hinzman, Corey Glass, Patrick Hart, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske and Kevin Benderman. In total, thirty-eight US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.

Information on war resistance within the military can be found at
Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.

Meanwhile Bully Boy does his War Dance In The Pants and claims, that as "The Destroyer," this dance is tyrant's choice. Appearing Sunday on
CBS' 60 Minutes (pre-taped, Bully Boy doesn't do live well), Bully Boy again attempted to pump his ten word teeny, tiny, little culpa into a thing of significance. Scott Pelley asked Bully Boy about the ten words -- the 'mistakes were made' shrug that the press thought was just AMAZING all last week. ["Where mistakes have been made, the responsibility rests with me."] It wasn't. And for the fools who didn't grasp it in real time, Bully Boy demonstrated in Sunday night's broadcast.

PELLEY: You mention mistakes having been made in your speech. What mistakes are you talking about?
BUSH: You know, we've been through this before. Abu Ghraib was a mistake. Using bad language like, you know, "bring them on" was a mistake. I think history is gonna look back and see a lot of ways we could have done things better. No question about it.
PELLEY: The troop levels . . .
BUSH: Could have been a mistake.
PELLEY: Could have been a mistake?
BUSH: Yeah. [General] John Abizaid, one of the planners, said in front of Congress, you know, he thought we might have needed more troops. My focus is on how to succeed. And the reason I brought up the mistakes is, one, that's the job of the commander-in-chief, and, two, I don't want people blaming our military. We got a bunch of good military people out there doing what we've asked them to do. And the temptation is gonna find scapegoats. Well, if the people want a scapegoat, they got one right here in me 'cause it's my decisions.

A scapegoat is someone wrongly blamed. Before anyone points to the obvious (Bully Boy has had a highly abusive relationship with the English language), let's note that you don't go to the well on the Bible as often as the Bully Boy has publicly without being expected to know the story Aaron. Bully Boy knows full well what a scapegoat is and, Sunday on 60 Minutes, he was revealing the obvious, his ten words were sop tossed out and not heartfelt. But thank you, US press, for wasting nearly a week promoting it as ground-breaking news. It's not as though anything better couldn't have been covered in that time, is it?

In the same
60 Minutes interview, Bully Boy rejected the notion that he might "owe the Iraqi people an apology" for not doing "a better job in providing security after the invasion" with "Not at all. I am proud of the efforts we did. We liberated that country from a tyrant."

Shh, don't wake the tyrant. In the real world the
United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq has released a report and, yes, it declares that 34,452 Iraqis died in 2006 with 36,685 wounded. The report also states that: "Armed operations by MNF-I continued to restrict the enjoyment of human rights and to cause severe suffering to the local population" -- MNF being the US led 'coalition'.

The tyrant thinks he 'liberated' does he? The UN report also covers the realities for Iraqi women -- new realities, post-invasion realities, brought to them by Bully Boy Inc. That includes vanishing rights, women's rights are disappearing and they "are reportedly living with heightened levels of threats to their lives and physical integrity, and forced to conform to strict, abritrarily imposed morality codes" which allows them new 'role' -- unclaimed corpse. Women are kidnapped and abused, sexually and then murdered, their corpses don't get buried by the families because to note that is your daughter, your sister, etc. would be to risk family shame. Those women who have been 'liberated' to mass sexual assault and abuse but aren't murdered? Well they have the option of 'honour killings' which, the UN report tells us, led to, in the first months of 2006, 239 women attempting to kill themselves -- burning yourself to death may be among the most popular 'roles' for Iraqi women in the public sphere. Thanks, Tyrant Bush.

Turning to today's violence which claimed over 100 lives in the capital alone.


CNN reports a coordinated attack on the Mustansiriya University involving two bombs (bomb vest and car bomb) with one "at the back entrance of the school" and the other at the "main gate under a pedestrian bridge where students and employees get public transit." Claudia Parsons and Alastair Macdonald (Reuters) note that at least 65 are dead and "many of them young women students". CNN notes that the count rose to 70 dead and at least 169 were wounded.

Also in Baghdad,
Reuters notes a roadside bomb and a motorcycle bomb claimed the lives of at least 15 and left at least 70 wounded in an attack "near a Sunni mosque"; another roadside bomb claimed four lives and left ten more wounded in an attack on a police patrol, while a "bomb inside a car" left six dead and at least 11 wounded in the Sadr City section of Baghdad.

Mohammed al Awsy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports five mortars left 10 people wounded in west Baghdad and notes that bomb that exploded inside a car in the Sadr City section of Baghdad "exploded inside a KIA minibus".


Reuters notes a person shot dead in Hawija and three were shot down in Mosul. CNN reports that "gunmen on motorcycles opend fire on a maketplace in the Mehdi Army-controlled Bunouk area of eastern Baghdad and killed 12 civilians. Seven others were wounded."


BBC reports that 25 corpses were discovered in Baghdad. Reuters notes that two corpses were discovered in Diwaniya.

Not covered in the above is the fact that the slaughter of Haifa Street (a residential street -- or residential before the slaughter began) continues.
Nancy A. Youssef and Zaineb Obeid (McClatchy Newspapers) report: "Eight days after a joint U.S.-Iraqi offensive began to take control of the Haifa Street area in central Baghdad, residents said they had no water and no electricity and that people seeking food had been shot at random. They said they could see American soldiers nearby, but that the Americans were making no effort to intervene."

In addition, Mohammed al Awsy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports: "according to a medical source from karbala health directorate, the directorate yesterday received 80 anonymous bodies from Baghdad morgue with the help of sadr office. those bodies were found 3 months ago in Baghdad and were not be able to be recognized by their families. usually after 3 month of the bodies being at Baghdad morgue if nobody claim them are sent to karbala grave yard to be buried but now the period have been lessen to one month only. this grave yard in karbala is called the anonymous grave yard. also today 85 anonymous bodies were received from Baghdad morgue to be buried at karbala anonymous grave yard."

Meanwhile the
US military announces: "Four Task Force Lightning Soldiers assigned to the 4th Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division were killed Monday as a result of an improvised explosive device while conducting operations in Ninewa province, Iraq."

Addressing the escalation, Ron Jacobs (CounterPunch) observes that the escalation is Bully Boy's plan and the US, not Iraqis, are in charge:

Initial reports from the US powers running the war explain that the first neighborhoods to be attacked will be primarily Sunni in makeup. Once these neighborhoods are pacified--gunships attack, soldiers come in, the men rounded up and the areas locked down and fenced in, the remaining residents will be issued identification cards which will most likely include retina scans and will be limited in their travels outside of the region assigned to them by the US command. The plan then apparently calls for a similar effort in the Shia areas of Baghdad, including the area known as Sadr City. This is when the Green Zone regime of al-Maliki will be challenged. Will he give in to US demands and support the almost certainly bloody raids into this part of the city? Will he accept the US plan to turn the Shia regions of Baghdad into the equivalent of the Vietnam war's strategic hamlets? Since it is quite unlikely that Muqtada al-Sadr or his followers will, if al-Maliki were to do so, he would most certainly lose the support of this important bloc of Iraqis. If he opposes US attacks and lockdowns of Shia areas of the city, then he would most likely lose his job.
The scenarios outlined above do enough to prove that it is Washington that really runs the war in Iraq. The major difference between the situation before Mr. Bush's speech and now is that the post-speech plan strips away even the pretense that the Iraqi Green Zone government is in control. What this means on the ground is that the US command will no longer even pretend to ask the Green Zone government for permission to conduct its activities. This change was graphically illustrated almost immediately after Mr. Bush's speech when US troops raided the Iranian diplomatic mission in Irbil and hijacked six Iranian consular officials. No Iraqis even knew about this raid until after the fact. In fact, the Kurdish military units guarding the region almost killed some US troops trying to enter the region because they were unaware of their intentions. We will surely see more examples like this in the coming weeks and months.

Turning to financial news, Sunday,
Stephen Foley (Independent of London) reported the GOP donor Bearing Point was having problems which included "falling more than a year behind in reporting its own financial results, prompting legal actions from its creditors and shareholders". Who is Bearing Point? A company that the US administration has been very happy to give contracts (and tax dollars) to for their work on Iraq ("on" being key). On Sunday's The KPFA Evening News, Antonia Juhasz (author of The BU$H Agenda: Invading the World, One Economy at a Time) noted that among the contracts Bearing Point currently has one for privatizing Iraq and one of their own employees sitting on Iraq's Oil Ministry. Juhasz explained:

Bearing Point has played the role on the ground in Iraq as the company tasked with the job of making sure that Iraqi's new oil law is passed. So essentially there's been a Bearing Point employee who's had no other job but to make sure that Iraq passes an oil law that supports the Bush administration's agenda for Iraq which is to get Iraq's oil as privatized as possible and into US corporate hands. And that has been Bearing Point's job and it seems that BP has done that job quite well. Bearing Point has essentially been the workhorse on the ground and also the constant threat the constant presence of the Bush administration on the ground in Iraq, doing nothing but focusing on getting this law completed and potentially passed in Iraq. [. . .] The Bechtels and the Halliburtons and the oil companises, Chevron, Exxon , Connoco, and Marathon. Those companies have all been beneficiaries of policies that Bearing Point helped develop and Bearing Point was developing policies that simply, again, serviced the Bush administration's interests. It's definitely just a tool of the administration whereas the other companises definitely had their own agendas that the administration in some ways was a tool servicing their interests like, in particular, the oil companies.