Friday, December 05, 2008

Another bail-out?

"Democratic leaders and the White House reached a deal to provide billions of dollars in relief to the ailing U.S. auto industry, a senior congressional aide told Reuters on Friday," Reuters reports. They did? That's not what BBC reports:

Congress and the White House will hold talks over the weekend on a deal after two days of Congressional hearings.
A White House spokesman said progress was expected, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she wanted a vote on the package next week.

So which is it? And where do our elected officials get off doing 'talks' with the White House and not with the people? By that I mean, exactly who do they think they are dipping into the public till yet again for another bail-out without first putting any proposal on the table for the American people to review?

Meanwhile, did you know that our Senate was, like the House of Lords in England used to be, something passed down via birthright?

I did not know that. I wrongly thought that senators had to be elected by the people and, if appointed, had to have an amazing record. Somehow that does not appear to be the case.

Reuters reports: "Caroline Kennedy, daughter of slain President John F. Kennedy, is considering pursuing the New York Senate seat Hillary Clinton will vacate to become secretary of state, The New York Times reported on Friday."

Let me explain to the Ugly Princess: Caroline, you ain't done shit your whole life to be proud of. Your first national byline was an embarrassment (and Caroline knows what that means). You're a cheap-ass whore for what you did then. You will never be anything but a cheap-ass whore and, pay attention Trashy Kennedy Clan, the KING? He trumps Princess Brat.

Now a lot of people don't know that story and some have forgotten it. But we will be addressing it and it's an appalling story, one that shows just how cheap-ass the whore Caroline is.

Poor Caroline. No one liked her as a child. America embraced her brother John-John with that little salute he gave. Caroline? The ugly, awkwad girl who grew into an ugly, awkward woman. Who's done nothing with her life and does not deserve to be appointed to the Senate.

This is a press release from New Agenda:

December 1, 2008: The New Agenda Calls on Governor Paterson to Make History
For Immediate Release
Contact: Amy Siskind

Date: December 1, 2008
Sleeping Majority No More!

The New Agenda Calls on Governor Paterson to Make History
The New Agenda, a new, nonpartisan women’s rights organization, is calling upon New York Governor David Paterson to appoint a woman to fill the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Hillary Clinton. Senator Clinton’s anticipated departure to become Secretary of State in President-elect Obama’s cabinet presents Governor Paterson with an historic opportunity. With the results of the November elections a record number of women, 17 would serve in the Senate when the 111th Congress convenes in January.
“Women will no longer be a sleeping majority. In 2001, Hillary Clinton was elected the first woman to serve the people of New York as a U.S. Senator. If Clinton’s seat opens it should be filled by another woman,” stated Amy Siskind, co-founder The New Agenda. “We are calling for parity in government at all levels.”
Since our nation’s founding over 200 years ago a total of 35 women have served in the U.S. Senate. That number includes Rebecca Latimer Felton a Democrat from Georgia who was appointed in 1922 and served just one day. According to the Center for American Women and Politics, it wasn’t until 1948 that Margaret Chase Smith a Republican from Maine became the first woman elected to the Senate.
The progress of women in government in the U.S. lags far behind much of the rest of the world, according to the World Economic Forum. Sweden tops the list in Europe with women comprising nearly 47% of all members of parliament. Rwanda has 48% of its parliament seats held by women the highest percentage in the world. In the U.S. women hold 16% of the seats in Congress.
“Recent polls show that a majority of American women are disappointed about how women fared in the election. Gov. Paterson has an opportunity to marry hope and history in New York by appointing a qualified woman to carry on Hillary Clinton’s legacy,” said Elaine Lafferty, co-founder The New Agenda.
There are a number of qualified women The New Agenda recommends to fill Senator Clinton’s shoes. The list includes:
• Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney• Congresswoman Kirsten Gillibrand• Congresswoman Nita Lowey• Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy• Congresswoman Yvette Clarke• Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez• Congresswoman Louise McIntosh Slaughter• Caroline Kennedy• City Council Speaker Christine Quinn• Former President, Morgan Stanley, Zoe Cruz• Former Citigroup, Inc. executive Sallie Krawcheck
“At The New Agenda we know our country needs talented women in leadership positions and we need them now,” said Siskind. “New York has a deep bench of women who are ready to step into Senator Clinton’s heels.”

I don't see Caroline Kennedy's name on the list and the reason for that -- the good reason -- is that she's not done a damn thing to warrant such an appointment.

In other news, Joe Satriani is suing Coldplay stating they ripped off his "If I Could Fly" in their "Viva La Vida". Good for Satriani.

Want a heads up? Tomorrow at The Common Ills, something's going up. When you see it, you may wonder, "Huh?" Put on your thinking caps. The title will be your clue as to what you're looking at. (For those needing more clues "hell" will be in the title.)

I think most of you will get it right away. A few may need to ponder the title and what you're looking at. It was passed on to C.I. who asked me Thursday night whether it should be posted? I said absolutely. There was too much to do Thursday so it had to wait. If you get into a light mood, you will get it tomorrow when you see it immediately.

Closing with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Friday, December 5, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, Iraq holds an Energy Expo . . . as the price of oil drops further, the 'coalition' continues to shrink, a military trial ends in tears and shouts at the verdict, and more.

Today the Iraq Energy Expo took place at Baghdad International Airport and the sponsor was the mercenaries for hire corporation Triple Canopy Inc.
Sourcewatch notes that the company, started in September 2003, was awarded over $90 million in US government contracts before the end of 2005. The Iraqi-American Chamber of Commerce and Industry organized the event. Gina Chon (Wall St. Journal's Baghdad Life) observes that "Iraqi oil officials made sure they put their best faces on today" for the "large crowd" turning out for the expo (due to complete on Sunday) and that the bulk of the crrowd will be staying at the new hotel just opened at Baghdad International Airport. The expo was originally supposed to take place from October 17th through the 19th but it was cancelled due to the fact that the convention center wasn't fully constructed at that point. UPI's Ben Lando noted the announced ates back in September were December 3rd to 5th. AFP reports that "many major global oil companies" -- such as Exxon, Total and BP -- skipped the expo and quotes an unnamed US oil company exec complaining, "Since we have been here, we haven't made money. We sent some expert teams, then we took them back (as) we had no results. There are two many problems." Of the 'guests'/ 'visitors,' Chon notes, "Because they were limited to either the conference hall or their hotel rooms, the one amenity they did appreciate was a bar in the hotel, one of the few in Baghdad. The bar opens at noon and last call is at 11:30 p.m., but it closes after midnight. 'I'm not allowed to go anywhere except the hotel and the oil conference, so at least there is the bar go to,' one international company representative said. 'There is nothing else to do at night. That will be one drawback if we set up here." Quick, get that on the travel brochure! Ben Landon (UPI) reports that Hussain al-Shahristani, Iraq's Oil Minister, gave the keynote speech and insisted during it that the oil reserves in his country were "understated" and he also declared, "The oil sector represents an important part of Iraq's recent history and also its future." That as Mark Shenk (Bloomberg News) explains, "Crude oil fell for a sixth day, capping the biggest weekly drop since the Persian Gulf War in 1991, on concern demand will decline after a resport showed U.S. employers cut jobs in November at the fastest pace since 1974. Oil is down 25 percent since Nov. 28 as the recession deepened in the U.S., Europe and Japan."

The energy expo took place while many issues were still up in the air.
Gina Chon (Wall St. Journal) reports that Hussein al-Shahrastani was sending "mixed signals" today "about a possible detente over oil contracts between the central government and the semi-autonomous Kurdish region." Anna Fifield, Javier Blas and Delphine Strauss (Iraq Updates) note, "Iraq's central government and regional authorities in Kurdistan are moving closer to signing a long-awaited oil deal that could pave the way for exports from the northern region's oil fields early next year." But Ben Lando (UPI) explains, "Eleven days after the Iraqi oil minister traveled to the KRG capital, Erbil, for meetings with the region's prime minister and oil minister, both sides have continued firing warning shots in the debate that has continued for more than a year on Kurdish oil contracts with the international oil companies."

While foreigners visit for the expo, foreign troops beat a hasty retreat out of the country.
This week South Korea was among those ending their missions in Iraq. The
KRG notes Nechirvan Barzani, KRG Prime Minister, declared to Kim Joong-ryun (Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff Vice Chair), "We are pleased with this relationship and proud of this friendship with the people of Korea. The motto that you brought to the Kurdistan Region was 'We are friends'. I can say with full sincerity, and from the bottom of my heart, that we in the Kurdistan Region are your true friends, too." Mike noted Tony Perry's "IRAQ: Back to Azerbaijan, 'land of valiant sons'" (Los Angeles Times' Babylon & Beyond) last night on Azerbaijan's departure and , Tina Susman (Los Angeles Times) reported yesterday on a ceremony held in Iraq for Tonga who "became the latest member of the 'coalition of the willing' to end its mission in Iraq." (Tonga had 55 service members stationed in Iraq.) Gina Chon (Wall St. Journal's Baghdad Life) reports the Czech Republic had their departure ceremony yesterday . Any nations who decide to continue stationing troops in Iraq will need to reach some agreement one-on-one with the puppet government. Adam Ashton (McClatchy Newspapers) notes that next month only six countries are expected to have troops in Iraq: Australia, El Salvador, Estonia, Romania, the UK and the US. Troops aren't the only ones leaving. After the US, the next largest number of troops comes from the UK. Alissa J. Rubin (International Herald Tribune) states they have 4,100 soldiers stationed in Iraq and notes of the treaty the UK is attempting to work out with the puppet government, "A diplomat at the British Embassy in Baghdad who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the media said that the negotiations were continuing but that the mission of British forces here would be dramatically reduced by early next year. After that, British forces will be almost exclusively involved in training Iraqi troops, according to Iraqi officials." Corinne Reilly (McClatchy Newspapers) reflects on her seven weeks reporting from Iraq: "I saw a lot of people cry while I was in Iraq, but I think of the hugging soldiers and the rocking civilian most often. Maybe it was the strangeness of seeing uniformed soldiers in tears. Maybe it's the way they made me feel: guilty, because I got to leave. Whatever the reasons, I'm glad that I think about them, glad that their grief is my last remembrance of Iraq. Because for all the stories of reduced violence and political and social successes there, Iraq remains, for the most part, a devastated country."

On the treaty the White House is pushing through with their puppet government in Iraq,
Campbell Robertson (New York Times) observes, "If the pact were to fail in the referendum, which is scheduled to be held in July, Iraq would pull out of the agreement. But that process, under the agreement's terms, would require giving the Americans a year's notice." Ramzy Baroud (Information Clearing House) notes the nonsense of the press in reporting the treaty: "Thousands of headlines exuded from media outlets, largely giving the false impression that the Iraqi government and parliament have a real say over the future of US troops in their country, once again playing into the ruse fashioned by Washington that Iraq is a democratic country, operating independently from the dictates of US Ambassador to Baghdad Ryan Crocker and the top commander of US toops in Iraq, General Ray Odierno." Noting the stenography of the press, Baroud makes a point to cite the Guardian's Jonathan Steel and Al Jazeera's English website for the poor job they did in covering the treaty. From his column:

What is particularly interesting about the Iraq case is that news reports and media analysts scampered to dissect the 18- page agreement as if a piece of paper with fancy wording would in any way prove binding upon the US administration which, in the last eight years, has made a mockery of international law and treaties that have been otherwise used as a global frame of reference. Why would the US government, which largely acted alone in Iraq, violated the Geneva Conventions, international law and even its own war and combat regulations, respect an agreement signed with an occupied, hapless power constituted mostly of men and women handpicked by the US itself to serve the role of "sovereign"?

It's also bewildering how some important details are so conveniently overlooked; for example, the fact that the Iraqi government can sign a separate agreement with the US to extend the deadline for withdrawal should the security situation deem such an agreement necessary. Instead, the focus was made on "concessions" obtained by the Iraqis regarding Iraq's jurisdiction over US citizens and soldiers who commit heinous crimes while "off duty" and outside their military bases. This precisely means that the gruesome crimes committed in prisons such as Abu Ghraib and the wilful shooting last year of 17 Iraqi civilians by Blackwater mercenaries in Nisour Square in Central Baghdad is of no concern for Iraqis. And even when crimes that fall under Iraqi jurisdiction are reported, such matters are to be referred to a joint US-Iraqi committee. One can only assume that those with the bigger guns will always prevail in their interpretation of the agreement.

From those duped by the treaty to the duped workers now trapped/imprisoned in Iraq,
Michael Ware (CNN) reports they have reported physical battering as well, stating that "Iraqi police handcuffed and beat them" and while "the men spoke to CNN on camera, an official in charge of them threatened to lock them out of the compound unless they returned inside within two minutes." Deborah Haynes (Times of London's Inside Iraq) quoted one of the men, Ganesh Kumar Bhagat, stating, "We have no money, no food, no toilet, no water, no job. The first time I arrived here I was happy, I had a good feeling. But we have not been lucky. Nobody should come to Iraq."

Certainly note with all the ongoing violence or the fact that it is an illegal war. On the violence,
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing that claimed 2 lives and left two people injured and an Iranian "bombardment" in Sulaimaniyah that injured a shepherd. It's a Friday, not a lot of violence gets reported.

Tina Susman (Los Angeles Times) filed a piece expressing the belief that Moqtada al-Sadr was losing influence in Iraq and that Parliament's vote in favor of the treaty was among the signs "of how Sadr's clout has diminished since 2005". I disagree. And prior to the flare up in Basra, I had bought the idea that he had lost influence. The rumors then were he was a hotel clerk in Najaf (alternatating with Iran) and studying. He had been gone from Sadr City (if not Iraq) for some time and the residents were living in a violent hell with no one to speak up for them, let alone to protect them. I have no problem stating I was wrong in thinking he'd lost his influence. When Basra flared up (al-Maliki launched his attack on the city -- jumping the announced date and doing so without the US military's express consent or lengthy consultation according to what Gen David Petraeus told Congress in April), al-Sadr stood alone as the person standing up. He called out the attack. His stock rose. Despite the fact that there was no 'win' for al-Sadr in either the assault on Basra or on Sadr City (started shortly after), his stock rose. He became seen -- rightly or wrongly -- as someone who spoke the truth and that image went far beyond just his usual supporters or even just Shi'ites. Susman's take may be correct but it may not. I don't believe (my opinion) he's losing influence. Sudarsan Raghavan (Washington Post) has a report that could be picked for support that al-Sadr's losing influence or that he's holding steady (or gaining). The thrust of the report is that his supporters are going to have to find other ways to build the movement. No doubt they will. However, problems his supporters have are their own. Moqtada enjoys a special status because of his father and because of his actions since the start of the illegal war. To point to some follower in some city of Iraq and say this can prove al-Sadr's grasp is slipping is a reach. If the US is smart, they won't antagonize him. (No more taunting speeches to al-Sadr from Secretary of State Condi Rice, for example.) That might allow him to fade -- maybe -- provided things actually improved in Iraq ("improved," not lessened -- "violence lessened, misfortune lessened, the refugee crisis lessened," etc.). But his power is a personal nature and has to do with what bloodlines have vested in him and what his own actions since the start of the illegal war have been. At any point, even should his image be at an all time low (short of any scandal -- real or imagined -- or planned like the Abu Ghraib photos were planned to embarrass prisoners after they were released if the prisoners 'made trouble'), all he has to do is return to Iraq and walk through the streets of any neighborhood. There will be an automatic excitement and rush.

Turning to the US where a trial was ongoing into military deaths in Iraq, Alberto B. Martinez was on trial for the murders of Philip Esposito and Louis Allen. A decision was reached yesterday leading Louis Allen's widow Barbara to shout, "
He slaughtered our husbands, and that's it?" and at Martinez, "You murdered my husband." Jim Kambrich (WNYT -- link has text and video) reports on the verdict in the case of the double murders June 7, 2005 and highlights Philip Esposito's widow Siobhan stating in October, "We would rather be back with our children than be here in the court room but we're here seeking justice for our husbands." Hema Easley (Lower Hudson Journal News) explains the jury had fourteen members and they found Martinez not guilty of fragging the two men ("military slang for the intentional killing of an officer, especially by hand grenade"). Robert Gavin (Albany Times Union) notes, "Staff Sgt. Amy Harland of Ohio, who also worked in supplies at the base, testified she provided Martinez with the mines in May, unaware of what would transpire. The jury Thursday asked to listen to her testimony, in which she said the soldier's ire toward Esposito was increasing." Paul Woolverton and Corey G. Johnson (Fayetteville Observer) report that when the verdict was read, someone shouted (in disbelief), "This is the United States of America!" John Sullivan (Times Herald Record) adds that another person (unidentified) yelled at Martinez "murdering son of a bitch" as the judge, Col Stephen Henley, cleared the courtroom. Hema Easley also reports that a plea agreement was floated to the widows and quotes Barbara Allen stating: "We got a call from Iraq to gauge our feelings about a guilty plea, and we said no, we needed the truth. At that point we had faith in the judicial system." Siobhan Esposito adds, "We said absolutely not." The US Army's statement on the case can be found here. The US State Dept has repeatedly underestimated him (though that's not the case currently) and thought many times that he was 'out.' Each of those times added to the image he already had as "the son of" and helped carve out an individual image for himself. Moqtada al-Sadr is -- rightly or wrongly -- the person who calls out the abuses in Iraq brought on by the US invasion and US control of the puppet government. There is no fade for that image. He is Iraq's Che, James Dean and assorted other mythic figure. As long as there is chaos and violence in Iraq, al-Sadr has power because his role is the critic. Every day that peace does not come to Iraq backs up his role and his statements. al-Maliki is attempting to further consolidate his power (a power grab) and currently in conflict with the Kurdish officials. Possibly Susman's grading al-Sadr's 'loss' on some daily measurement? It's not a daily ebb and flow. He has a power base and that is now a personal one that he inhabits. It's no longer coming from his father or who his father was, or who does or does not declare their support for him publicly. He's become a mythic figure and -- short of a scandal that goes to character or Iraq having a prolonged outbreak of peace -- only he can destroy his power at this point.

Public broadcasting notes. PBS programs begin airing tonight in some markets, check local listings for time and date.
NOW on PBS offers:How should President-elect Barack Obama handle our tricky relations with Pakistan? This week, David Brancaccio sits down with author and journalist Tariq Ali, who grew up in Pakistan, to discuss what he thinks team Obama should do to improve its standing in Pakistan in particular and the region as a whole."I think it should back off militarily. That's the key," Ali tells NOW. Ali says the U.S.'s roughly 20 reported attacks against Al Qaeda inside Pakistan's borders since late August are doing more harm than good because they "mainly have hit civilian targets."The question of how to handle nuclear-armed Pakistan has become especially difficult amidst Indian claims of Pakistani links to the recent terrorist attacks in Mumbai, which left at least 170 people dead.What's the best strategy for the U.S. in Pakistan and how will it impact the war in Afghanistan, where Obama has said he plans to send more troops? Watch for an insider's view of how the president-elect should proceed.and:Tehran-born author Hooman Majd talks to NOW's David Brancaccio about America's thorny relationship with Iran and how he thinks Obama should handle the problematic issue of Iran's nuclear program."I think the main issue for Americans, and certainly for the [Obama Administration,] is how do we persuade Iran to not take that step? We can't take the knowledge away from them anymore," says Majd, who grew up in American and Britain, but often returns to Iran.Iran has produced enough nuclear material to produce a nuclear bomb, according to a report released last month from the International Atomic Energy Agency.Although Iran denies that its nuclear program has military aspirations, it has called for wiping out the state of Israel. What's the best way forward with this unpredictable country in Middle East?On Washington Week's latest installment, Gwen sits around the table with Karen Tumulty (Time magazine), Peter Baker (New York Times) and David Wessel (Wall St. Journal). Public radio? WBAI on Sunday:Sunday, December 7, 11am-noonTHE NEXT HOURDocumentary filmmaker/psychologist Murray Nossel and psychiatrist PaulBrowde, co-stars of the off-Broadway hit, "Two Men Talking,"demonstrate their storytelling techniques with members of theirNarativ Workshop. With storytellers Benaifer Bhadha, Marion Stein,Archimedes Bibiano and Jerome Deroy. Hosted by Janet ColemanBroadcasting at WBAI/NY 99.5 FMStreaming live at WBAIArchived at Cat Radio CafeNOTE: CAT RADIO CAFE is pre-empted on December 8 for WBAI fundraising.Regular programming resumes on December 22. Information on CAT RADIOCAFE and THE NEXT HOUR fundraising specials to be announced.
And on broadcast TV Sunday, CBS offers CBS
60 Minutes:The Oil KingdomDespite the pledge of President-elect Barack Obama and others to lessen America's use of foreign oil, Saudi Arabia – the world's largest oil supplier - isn't worried. That's what Saudi officials told Lesley Stahl when she visited the oil kingdom and toured its vast petroleum facilities, which are gearing up to produce even more. (This is a double length segment.) Watch Video
SchnabelHis painting took the art world by storm in the 1980s and then Julian Schnabel reinvented himself as a film director to more kudos. Morley Safer profiles this titan of art and film. Watch Video

ben lando
gina chonthe wall street journal
the los angeles timestina susman
ramzy baroud
deborah haynes
michael wareadam ashton
corinne reilly
mcclatchy newspapers
sahar issatony perry
mikey likes it
the fayetteville observerjim kambrichhema easleyjohn sullivanrobert gavinpaul woolvertoncorey g. johnson
the washington postsudarsan raghavanwbaicat radio cafejanet colemandavid dozer60 minutescbs newskaren tumultywashington weeknow on pbspbs

Thursday, December 04, 2008


Asian men who've been living in warehouses near the Baghdad airport while awaiting promised jobs with a military subcontractor now are in line to be sent home, and they're still not sure how they'll be paid for their time in Iraq.
Tensions simmered throughout the week at a compound where about 1,000 men from Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka spoke out against their treatment by Najlaa International Catering Services, the Kuwaiti company that hired them for work in Iraq.

Adam Ashton's "Warehoused Asian workers in Iraq will be sent home" (McClatchy) above. ICS is the subcontractor. It's KBR's contract that they tried to flip for a profit. Let me explain the reality, it is KBR. KBR won the contract and they are responsible for whom they hire the same way the US is responsible for hiring KBR to begin with.

Last spring, I had some work done at my place, specifically with the dark room but some other things as well. I could have probably had done it illegally but, since I wasn't going to be there (I was on the road during the week with Ava and C.I.), if there was a problem, I couldn't very well make demands for it to be fixed if everything wasn't done according to code. So it involved some walls being knocked/shifted and some electrical and some plumbing. The plumbing did not work and how they thought it would is beyond me?

But I called the man I hired and got the runaround about how it wasn't his work and he doesn't do plumbing so "of course" he had to hire someone else. He could give me the guy's number but that's all he could do. I'm fuming and the plumber does not return any of my 15 messages on day one. On day two, same thing and C.I. asks me who I'm trying to reach. I explain. C.I. asks me the guy I hired and the number. C.I. calls and says, "You sub-contracted out, it is your responsibility. You are going to take care of this and everything will be fixed by the end of the week or we will be in court. My attorney will follow up with a call this afternoon." At which point, C.I. hung out and called her attorneys. She asked that a 'scare' be put into my contractor.

I tell all of that because KBR sub-contracted out. They won the government contract. They are the responsible. (And, by the way, everything was fixed by the end of that week.) KBR won the contract. To turn a profit, they sold it off. They are responsible.

These poor workers have been treated like prisoners and KBR needs to make it right financially.

Several of you, speaking of the economy, e-mailed Michael Moore's dumb ass idea on the automative industry. You all felt it was stupid. Of course it was stupid, it was from Michael Moore who sold his independence to be a Democratic Party toady. Add in that he's made 'jokes' about Mumia that the real left has not forgotten and a host of other issues and the reality is no one gives a damn what Fat Ass Michael Moore has to say. People don't even see his films these days. SICKO had huge buildup and publicity but look how it did at the box office. His career is on the downward swing and will be for some time.

Closing with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Thursday, December 4, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces more deaths, the presidency council passes the treaty, and more.

Starting with the treaty masquerading as a Status Of Forces Agreement.
Last Thursday (Thanksgiving in the US) the Iraqi Parliament passed the treaty (and, after its passage, the White House finally released some version of it to the public). Monday's snapshot included those developments for any playing catch-up after the holiday. The treaty is back in the news today but for those who need a memory jog, Great Britain's Socialist Worker offered the following on Tuesday:

The Iraqi parliament has approved the Status of Forces Agreement that sets a date for the withdrawal of US combat troops from the country by 31 December 2011.
The deal is being presented as an end to the US misadventure in Iraq.
But it does not mark the end of the occupation.
The US has had to back down on a series of Iraqi demands, including ending the immunity of the mercenaries who spread terror throughout the country, and giving Iraqis greater control over military operations.
The Iraqis were also able to set a timetable for withdrawal despite the objections of the neo-cons.
But although the deal gives the US an exist route from Iraq, thousands of US soldiers will remain in "advisory roles", and combat troops could return if the country was threatened by "internal revolt" or external threat.
It is no wonder that George Bush is said to be happy with the pact. Both the Sunni resistance organisations, headed by the Association of the Muslim Scholars, and Shia Muslim supporters of rebel cleric Moqtada al-Sadr have denounced the deal as "legitimising the occupation".
© Copyright Socialist Worker (unless otherwise stated). You may republish if you include an active link to the original and leave this notice in place.
If you found this article useful please help us maintain SW by »
making a donation.

Having passed the Parliament the only way it could be stopped this year was for the presidency council (made up of Iraq's president and two vice presidents) to have nixed it (which would have only required one of them saying "no"). [Next year, the treaty can be nixed if a referendrum vote -- promised, but what does that mean really? -- takes place.]
Reuters reports the presidency council's given the thumbs up to the treaty between the White House and the puppet government. CNN notes: "The three-member presidency council -- Kurdish President Jalal Talabani, Shiite Vice President Adel Abdul Mehdi and Sunni Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi -- approved the agreement unanimously a week after the Iraqi parliament passed the measure." The presidency council also approved the Strategic Framework Agreement. Iran's Press TV explains, "The controversial agreement replaces a UN mandate -- which covers the presence of foreign forces in Iraq and is due to expire at the end of 2008 -- which was approved by Iraq's parliament last month after months of wrangling." Asked at the White House today about the referendrum and whether it could allow the treaty to be tossed aside, spokesperson Dana Perino responded, "I know that they were thinking about having a national referendum, but since it was just finalized this morning around 7:00 a.m. our time, I haven't seen for sure. But if there is a national referendum, Iraq is a soveriegn country and they could decide to do lots of different things with it. But I think that the fact that their representative leadership has signed this agreement today, that they recognize that they are going to continue to need our help for the next little while."

What's going on? The White House is laughing their asses off at Iraqis foolish enough to go along with the 'referendum.' The UN mandate expires December 31st. They need a renewal for one year. They got it. Or, as Barack's team might put, they got what they wanted. If a referendum is held and Iraqis vote to break the treaty, what does that mean?

The treaty operates for (minimum) the year they need. The referendum is a sidebar and it is not mentioned in the treaty. The treaty signed off on by both parties (we'll come to the US Congress in a moment) states what for breaking the treaty? Either the US or Iraq can do it at any time. However, after making their intention known, the treaty runs one year. They have to give one year's notice. July 2009 is often mentioned for the referendum vote to be held. Using that date, if July comes and Iraqis say, "Get out now!"? July 2010 would be the soonest the treaty could be broken due to the one-year notice required. So Pernio's lack of concern today centered around the fact that the referendum is really meaningless in terms of order US troops out of Iraq 'quickly.'

The US Congress has not had input in the treaty. The White House has circumvented the Constitution.and the Congress is apparently not going to stand up for either themselves or the Constitution. When the press reports the treaty as a done-deal now due to the passage of it by the presidency council, the reason they report it as such is because Congress has done nothing since US House Rep Bill Delahunt chaired a hearing back in November. There have been no statements issued to the press, there has been no talk of special session to address this, there has been nothing. Where are they? Has Iraq fallen off their radar?

One could argue it's fallen of the US State Dept's radar. Today Robert Wood started the department's press briefing with, "Good morning, everyone. I don't have anything. We can go right to your questions." This was the same morning that the treaty has been passed by the presidency council. How little does the war in Iraq matter to our federal government? Near the end of the briefing, Wood would try to pass the blame off onto the press, "Oh, by the way, one thing I should note -- I've been meaning to note -- since no one asked the question, I thought I would just raise it. Toady, as you know, is the ratification of the -- by the presidency council of the Strategic Framework Agreement and the security agreement. So we welcome it, and there will be an exchange of diplomatic notes -- and then the agreement will go into force January 1, 2009." The fact that Congress refuses to do its job -- its sworn duty -- goes a long way towards not only explaining how Wood could forget to mention the treaty but also how he could declare the process finalized.

On a related topic, a little truth makes it into print in the New York Times.
Thom Shanker reports that president-elect Barack Obama has backed up from his 'pledge' to have all 'troops' out within 16 months of being elected: ". . . as he moves closer to the White House, President-elect Obama is making clearer than ever that tens of thousands of American troops will be left behind in Iraq, even if he can make good on his campaign promise to pull all combat forces out within 16 months." Huh???? Well it was never ALL US forces out of Iraq. Barack loved to stand before his adoring and slavish crowds offering the meaningless, "We want to end the war in Iraq!" cry. Yeah. And? Want to? He didn't promise to. His plan was "combat troops" out of Iraq within 16 months of being sworn into office (in Houston, Texas -- in February -- Barack dropped it down to 10 months after he was sworn in).Shanker quotes the Christ-child Barack stating, "I said that I would remover our combat troops from Iraq in 16 months, with theunderstanding that it might be necessary -- likely to be necessary -- to maintain a residual force to provide potential training, logistical support, to protect our civilians in Iraq." Translation, no withdrawal. Surprised? Take it up with the liars who lied for Baby Barack from day one. Take it up with ALL THE LIARS who insisted he was the anti-war candidate and he was going to end the Iraq War and blah, blah, blah. Now, as Mike and Elaine point out, some were little bitty babies. Hillary wouldn't apologize for her vote! She said it was a mistake and she wouldn't do it again if she had to do over. What more did people want? And, point, where was the peace movement asking Barack about his votes on Iraq? If he was against it and wants credit for his puny (and bad) 2002 speech (the reason it was 'recreated' was because it was so damn underwhelming -- the woman in the red t-shirt is especially unimpressed as she and the tiny crowd listen to him drone on) where he said he loves war, really loves it, but feels if one is started with Iraq, it may hurt the war he wants right now in Afghanistan, well he should have been asked to admit it was a mistake to vote to fund the illegal war. He wasn't in the Senate in 2002 but he sure voted for every war funding bill he could until late 2007. Why wasn't he asked if that was a mistake? Why didn't CODESTINK insist he apologize for them?

Or are we all supposed to ignore how PATHOLOGICALLY SICK Medea Benjamin and company have become as they target Hillary over and over even more so than they did the White House occupant who started the illegal war? And the pattern continues among the deranged. The incoming administration will not be run by Hillary. It's as though Christopher Hitchens just birthed a litter of Baby Hitchys.

Barack is the incoming president. It is what
Panhandle Media wanted -- at some point they might try getting honest about why -- and they need to grasp that Americans are not going to put up with four years of their demonizing Hillary and calling that 'sticking it to the president.' She's not the president. Barack is. He's the one responsible and they better start tailoring their critiques to that or admit that they're nothing but the most vile women haters of all time. (Amy Goodman confessed to that when she decided Larry F**nt's H**tler magazine was a 'magazine' to publish in.)

Today the
US military announced: "Two Multi-National Division - North Soldiers were killed as a result of an attack from a suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosives device while conducting operations in the city of Mosul today." The announcement brings the total number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war to 4209. And regardless of who is named Secretary of State, the president of the US will make the decision regarding when US service members leave Iraq. Barack Obama is now the one who will continue or end the illegal war and the critiques need to be directed at him.

Iraqis have violence directed at them all the time including today.
Laith Hammoudi and Mohammed Al Dulamy (McClatchy Newspapers) report Falluja was rocked by two bombings today with over one-hundred people left wounded and 15 killed. On one of the bombings, they note, "At the Hdheri police station in central Fallujah, officers saw the attacker approaching them in a truck. They reportedly ordered him to stop, and shot him when he continued driving. The truck exploded, damaging houses and injuring many." Tina Susman (Los Angeles Times) adds, "Abass Alwan, who witnessed one of the blasts, said a suicide bomber drove a truck at high speed toward the police station and rammed its main gate. Alwan said there was an elementary school next to the police station and that many of the injured were children." Deborah Haynes (Times of London) explains, "The Fallujah blasts targeted police stations in the east and west of the city, once an al-Qaeda stronghold, before tribal leaders turned against the militants and sided with the US military two years ago. Six police officers were among the dead." Al Arabiya offers, "Iraqi police said that two suicide bombers carried out the attacks from one car near a police station in west Fallujah while the second truck bombing targeted a police station in the police district east of the town."

In some of today's other reported violence . . .


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Mosul bomber who killed his/herself and 8 other people, a Baghdad sticky bombing that claimed 1 life and left two people injured, a second Baghdad sticky bombing that left four people injured and another Baghdad bombing that resulted in two people being wounded.


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 1 police officer shot dead in Mosul and another wounded.


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 21 corpses discovered in Diyala Province. Reuters ups the count to 80 corpses.

Alissa J. Rubin (New York Times) explores the continued tension between the puppet government in Baghdad and the Kurdistan Regional Government. She terms it "a power struggle" and focuses on Kurdish objection to 'tribal councils' ("Awakening" for the north) and al-Maliki's objection to what is seen as Kurdish efforts to expand their territory. She questions al-Maliki's assertion that the 'tribal councils' are unarmed since "every adult male" in Iraq "is permitted one gun." She notes Jalal Talabani's objections to al-Maliki's proposed 'councils'. Talabani is the President of Iraq and he is Kurd. He has stated al-Maliki's efforts are extra-Constutional and is calling for the Federal Supreme Court to intervene. al-Maliki says (basically), "Nah-nah-nah, I'll create what I want and who cares if it's mentioned in the Constitution or not." Xinahua quotes from al-Maliki's letter to Talabani that "there is no practical or legal justification to dissolve the support councils after they managed to provide security, stability and backed the national reconciliation efforts in Iraq." Rania Abouzeid (Time magazine) observes al-Maliki "has recently picked fights with his Kurdish allies, his Shi'ite opponents and his Sunni partners over a variety of issues." Abouzeid notes:

The acrimonious exchanges between Maliki and the Kurds are rooted in the economic and territorial ambitions of both parties, and they threaten to widen the broadening Arab-Kurd schism. Maliki's recent call to amend the constitution to beef up the central government's powers at the expense of Iraq's 18 provinces did not spare the semiautonomous three-province Kurdish region in the north. It has not only stoked tensions with the independence-minded Kurds but has also drawn fire from his Shi'ite coalition allies in the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council, who want to set up a similar semiautonomous region in the Shi'ite south. On Monday, the Kurdish regional government strongly condemned Maliki's governance, basically equating it to Saddam Hussein's. Maliki wants to "take the people of Iraq back to a period we are desperately trying to get beyond," the statement read. "A period where the excessive concentration, or centralization, of economic and political power condemned all Iraqis to unimaginable suffering." It may an emotional argument that the Kurds are using, but it's also grounded in regional self-interest -- which is the Prime Minister's case against those who oppose him. Maliki has lambasted the Kurdish regional government for unilaterally signing oil deals with international companies and cutting Baghdad out of the loop, as well as opening representative offices overseas. He has also pushed back against the Kurds' attempts to extend their military presence into territory south of their regional border. "The central government thinks the Kurdish regional government behaves like a state, and the Kurds think Maliki wants to flex his muscles and go back to a strong central government with him as the strongman," says Mahmoud Othman, an independent Kurdish parliamentarian.

Meanwhile Iraq's Foreign Ministry continues establishing diplomatic ties. Sunday,
Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari met with Hani Khalwaf (Arab League Representative in Baghdad). Monday morning found Zebari receiving Russia's Ambassador to Iraq Valerian Vladmiri Wavij Shofayif during which "Shofayif expressed his country's commitment towards the relations with Iraq". Monday Zebari also met with Sayon McDonald, advisor to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown. While the Foreign Ministry works on increasing Iraq's interaction with other countries, Tina Susman (Los Angeles Times) notes a ceremony held in Iraq today for Tonga who "became the latest member of the 'coalition of the willing' to end its mission in Iraq." (Tonga had 55 service members stationed in Iraq.)

Yesterday, KBR was in the news for imprisoning workers in Iraq and now Scott Bronstein and Abbie Boudreau (CNN) report KBR is being sued by 16 members of Indiana's National Gaurd who served in Iraq and maintain that KBR knew a water treatment plant (which the soliders were assigned to) exposed them to dangerous chemicals such as the carcinogenic sodium dichromate. David Ivanovich (Houston Chronicle) explains, "In their suit filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Evansville, Ind., the plaintiffs contend KBR knowingly allowed them to be exposed to sodium dichromate, a chemical used as an anti-corrosive but containing the carcinogen hexavalent chromium. The alleged exposure occurred while the guardsmen were providing security for KBR workers at the Qarmat Ali water plant in southern Iraq." Rajini Vaidyanathan (BBC) elaborates, "The soldiers say that they and other civilian contractors there were repeatedly told there was no danger, and that when they reported health problems such as nose-bleeds to their bosses, they were told they were simply 'allergic to the sand'. The court papers claim that these symptoms were the early side-effects of the chemical, and that some who served on the site went on to suffer severe breathing problems and nasal tumours." Meanwhile Kelly Kennedy (Army Times) noted at the start of the week, "Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, chairman of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, has asked that the co-chairs of the Defense Department and Veterans Affairs Oversight Committee begin a review of environmental toxins - including those coming from burn pits -- at bases in Iraq and Afghanistan. . . In November, Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., asked Gen. David Petraeus for an investigation into whether troops are being exposed to harmful fumes from burn pits." With an update on the KBR workers stranded/imprisoned in Iraq, Deborah Haynes (Times of London) explains they are calling on the intnerational community to take action: "America why are you silent? Human rights organisations why are you silent? United Nations where are you?" One of the many signs carried by those tricked into coming to Iraq for jobs that do not exist and now trapped in that country.

Today the Institute of Medicine released a
report on traumatic brain injury. Amanda Gardner (HealthDay) reports, "The committee found evidence of a causal relationship between penetrating TBI and unprovoked seizures as well as death, and between severe or moderate TBI with unprovoked seizures." Alex Nussbaum (Bloomberg News) informs that the report "found a link between moderate and severe injuries and rising depression, memory loss, aggression, Parkinson's-like tremors and social problems that hinder employment." Benedict Carey (New York Times) notes approximately 5,500 US "military personnel have suffered brain injuries from mild to severe. The wounds account for an estimated 22 percent of all casualties in Afghanistan and Iraq -- about twice the rate in Vietnam." Rick Rogers (San Diego Tribune-Tribune) reports, "The committee's major recommendations include urging the Defense Department to establish a baseline for identifying pre-and post-deployment mental health problems by assessing the mental well-being of all troops before they start their combat tours. The panel also asked VA leaders to include uninjured service members and other comparison groups in its fledging Traumatic Brain Injury Veterans Health Registry."

the socialist worker
the new york timesthom shankerscott bronsteinabbie boudreaucnnlike maria said pazmikey likes it
alissa j. rubinrania abouzeid
rick rogers
mcclatchy newspaperslaith hammoudi
mohammed al dulaimy
the los angeles timestina susman
deborah haynes

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

A game marketed too late

Scene It Seinfeld? Has everyone seen the advertisement?

It's a video/board game using scenes from the sitcom Seinfeld. That went off in 1998?

Hasn't the ship sailed for games based on the show?

I don't know how many people are aware of this, but Seinfeld is doing these 'state' commercials in syndication. They'll feature "Yada, yada, yada" and other catch phrases and then say Seinfeld-ese created in NYC but perfected in ____ [insert state's name].

Now what that ad -- and I've seen in at least six states while we've been on the road -- says to me is the sitcom's syndication audience has petered out.

I'm not saying no one is watching. I'm sure many still do. But you do not come up with an ad campaign for a syndicated series unless it's ratings are in trouble. Every show gets their 'next on ___' ad. But these theme ads geared to promoting one show (once its in syndication) only come along when they're not achieving and Seinfeld was (and is) a costly sell in syndication.

It's been over a decade since it left the airwaves. Add that only Julia has anything to brag about today. Jerry? One 'hobby' after another, no work. (In a recession, don't think that won't be noticed.) Michael Richards insanity. The show is just old. We've seen all the episodes over and over. And some were more 'clever' than funny.

So I see that ad for the board & video game and think, "Uh, will they be trying for a Seinfeld movie next?" It's as if Jerry thinks they're Sex in the City.

Closing with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Wednesday, December 3, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, press freedom becomes a bigger joke in Iraq, as does the judicial system when a judge is caught bragging about just how biased he is, KBR imprisons workers, and more.

Picking up from
yesterday's snapshot, the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq released their thirteenth "Human Rights Report" with this one covering January 1, 2008 through June 30, 2008 [PDF format warning, click here]. One of their recommendations for the Iraqi government was: "Issue on a regular basis mortality data compiled by the Ministry of Health, based on informaction received from all governorates and statistics kept at the Medico-Legal Institute in Baghdad, together with details of the methodology used to calculate the figures." Tina Susman (Los Angeles Times) notes, "Until April 2007, the reports also included mortality rates based on number provided by government ministries, hospitals and medical officials. But after the January 2007 U.N. report came out and estimated that 34,452 Iraqis had been killed in war-related violence in 2006, the Iraqi government refused to give out the numbers anymore. It had put the 2006 death toll at 12,357. As The Times wrote at the time, the official and unofficial reasons given by the government for withholding numbers varied. Publicly, Iraq's government said it did not have the organizational capabilities to ensure accurate counting of war victims. But privately, U.N. officials at the time said the Iraqis were worried that the large numbers would tarnish the country's image, so they decided to withhold information." China's Xinhau zooms in on this quote from the report: "The targeted killings of journalists, educators, medical doctors, judges and lawyers has continued, as did criminal abductions for ransom." The Press Trust of India quotes this statement from the report, "Grave human rights violations that are less widely reported [than general security], and the elimination of which requires long-term political commitment, remain unaddressed." UPI explains, "In addition to recommendations for the Iraqi government, the report recommended the multinational security forces investigate promptly and impartially credible allegations of unlawful killings by military personnel, and take appropriate action against those found to have exercised indiscriminate or excessive force. It also called on the international forces to consider implementing basic due process guarantees to improve prisoners' access to counsel and grant human rights monitors access to detention facilities."
Picking up with the remainder of the thirty page report (we noted the first sixteen pages yesterday), the report notes that there are more than 2.8 million internally displaced people in the country and that approximately an eighth of them "were living in public buildings and under the threat of eviction." But the number of the internally displaced may be decreasing and, if so, one reason may be that it is "increasingly difficult to move within Iraq as well as to neighbouring countries given the more retrictive entry policies". It notes that the People's Mojahedin Organization of Iraq remain under US military protection in Camp ashraf (Diyala Province) and that the camp has been attacked plus "the Government of Iraq issued a statement declaring the PMOI a terrorist organization calling for their expulsion" (June 17, 2008) despite the United Nations position that the PMOI should be "protected from focible deporation, expulsion or repatriation".

The report notes the total number of prisoners in Iraq is 50,595 ("detainees, security internees and sentenced prisoners"), that February's General Amnesty Law has still not gone into effect, that the number detained by Iraq's central government (exclude Kuridsh section of Iraq) was higher than it was in the last six months of 2007 and that reports of prisoner abuse continue to come in. The report then moves to prisoners held by the US military and notes that the US insists due process does not apply and that the United Nations believes Geneva provides for all prisoners to have the right to know why they were arrested, "to be brough promptly before a judge if held on a criminal charge, and to challenge the lawfulness of their detention." [As noted elsewhere in the report -- and in yesterday's snapshot -- the UN is also still attempting to get monitors into US prisons in Iraq.] With regards to the Kudistan region, the KRG continues to hold a number of people on "vague accusations" for great lengths of time, those suspected of "terror-related incidents" are tortured ("violent treatment amounting to torture during investigations"). Four people were sentenced to death from the start of the year through March in the Kurdistan region and 34 people "are on deathrow in Erbil Central Prison as of June 2008" and the UN is calling for a stay of executions due to "the impossibly of avoiding execution of the innocent and absence of proof of deterrence effect of the penalty". The report ends listing various ways in which UNAMI provides support in Iraq.

We skipped pages 17 through 19 at the top to deal with them here. That section beings by noting religious and ethnic minorities in Iraq as well as others in vulenerable groups. In the first six months of the year, there have been "17 reports of attacks and kidnappings against Chaldo-Assyrians (Christians) throughout Iraq" with the bulk in Mosul. Shabaks had nine reported attacks and the bulk of them were also in Mosul. Five Yezidis were killed in the first six months of this year. Over 80% of the Mandean community have fled the country (10,000 to Syria, 3,000 to Jordan and the rest to Yemen and Egypt). [5,000 have moved into the Kurdistan region for shelter.]

Now we're emphasizing the sections on journalists and freedom of expression. UNAMI's report notes: "Journalists and media workers remain one of the most vulnerable professional groups throughout Iraq being subjected to threats, targeted violence, kidnappings and assassination." The report then moves to the Kurdistan region:

UNAMI continued to receive reports of intimidation and/or arrests of media professionals in the Kurdistan region, in particular those who had reported on issues of public interest. Officials have also filed several criminal defamation complaints against journalists. During the same period of time, KRG human rights authorities have declared to work at imprvoing the situation of journalists.
A few journalists UNAMI was in contact with alleged tha ton 31 January and 1 February 2008, they were arrested, harassed and ill-treated by KRG police. They also reported that their photographs and notes were confiscated whilst attempting to cover the impact of Turkey's military operations on civilians and civilian properties along the border. Photographs provided to UNAMI showed a journalist being surrounded and dragged by security forces. Local journalist associations have condemned the conduct of the KRG authorities while other journalists were also prevented from covering the military operations.
On 4 February, the Editor-in-chief of an independent newspaper, was summoned to court in Sulaimaniya to respond to a complaint filed against him by President Jalal Talabani for publishing an article on the President's personal assets. He was released on bail and his case postponed indefinitely. On 10 February, Umar Ahmed Mahmood, journalist from Hawlati newspaper, was summoned to Kalar Court, Sulaimaniya, where the Head of the KDP Office in Kalar district filed a complaint based on an article Mahmood had written about conflicting loyalties of KDP politicians. The journalist was subsequently detained for three days and released on bail. On 16 February, a journalist and blogger was arrested by Kurdish Peshmargas in Talkif District, Nineveh, and was interrogated for four days at an Asayish facility in Dohuk. He was forced to sign a ltter whereby he agreed not to "defame" KRG leaders and Christian clergymen before being released. On 16 March, a Dohuk court issued an arrest warrant against Muhamad Salih Haji, Editor-in-chief of Rasan Newspaper (licensed to the Kurdistna Islamic Union (KIU) and another KIU member, for publishing an article charging the court's decision to arrest a number of KIU members for alleged involvement in terror activities last year as politically motivated. Both were subsequently released on bail.
On 9 February, staff members of Kurdistan TV received death threats and had their equipment damaged when they tried to film an attack on a traffic policeman by a group of armed men in Erbil. The Kurdistan Journalists' Syndicate has condemned the attack and requested the Minister of Interior to investigate. On 2 March, Nabaz Goran, a journalist received a death threat in a letter sent by Halo Ibrahim Ahmad, a relative of a high-ranking Iraqi official. It was reported that although Halo Ibrahim had apologized, he subsequently reiterated his threat on Kurdistan post web-site. On 17 March, UNAMI wrote to KRG authorities requesting justifications for the arrests and complaints filed against these journnalists and urged the KRG to investigate the death threat against Nabaz Goran. Srood Mukarram Fatih, a journalist arrested a year ago by the Asayish in Erbil has yet to be charged noting that he was accused of being involved in terror activities.

The lengthy excerpt is included because the close of last month saw another journalist targeted in the Kurdistan region. Adel Hussein is the journalist and he's been convicted to six months of prison for the 'crime' of "writing an article about homosexuality".
Reporters Without Border notes: "Sexual practices are part of the individual freedoms that a democratic states is supposed to promote and protect. Furthermore, Hussein did not defend homosexuality. He limited himself to describing a form of behavior from a scientific viewpoint. . . . We are astonished to learn that a press case has been tried under the criminal code. What was the point of adoptiong -- and then liberalising -- a press code in Kurdistan region if people who contribute to the news media are still be tried under more repressive laws?" The Committee to Protect Journalists is calling for the immediate release of Adel -- "a doctor and a freelance journalist with the independent weekly Hawlati". CPJ's Robert Mahoney (Dept Director) states, "A judge of all people should know that ignorance of the law is no excuse. This is the second time in a month that a court in Iraqi Kurdistan has sent a journalist to prison in violation of the new press law. We call on the authorities to ensure that the new legislation is widely promulgated and enforced, and we urge the appeal court to overturn this conviction and free Adel Hussein immediately." The other reporter referred to was Shwan Dawdi whose conviction was overturned by the court of appeal. Yahya Barzanji (AP) quotes the Kurdistan Journalist Union's Zirak Kamal stating, "We will appeal this unjust verdict and we hope that Kurdistan officials intervene and solve the problem." BBC explains the Kurdish government is attempting to say that Adel "violated a public decenty law" by reporting.

While this affront to journalism and free speech is taking place, the Kurdistan Regional Government wants the international community to be outraged by actions Nouri al-Maliki is taking. Yesterday the
KRG released a lengthy litany of Nouri al-Maliki's actions which they felt violated the Iraqi Constitution. AP's Hamza Hendawi reports today that Jalal Talabani (Iraq's president and a Kurd) has decided to ask the federal court to step in and prevent "al-Maliki from establishing tribal councils" in the KRG region and quotes Talabani declaring, "Nouri al-Maliki is my friend and enjoys the confidence of parliament. He is not budging and remains adamant that creating these councils is legal. We will go to the federal court to see whether this is indeed the case." The KRG fears that thugs will be brought in (as happened with the "Awakening" Councils) while the puppet government in Baghdad feels the Kurdish government has gotten highly expansionist. The attacks on Christians in Mosul and surrounding areas beginning in July also forced al-Maliki to do something to ensure safety of minority populations.Now it's a little hard for Talabani and others to play this as they are standing up for the rule of law when they continue to target journalists and show no respect for a free press. The KRG might want to check the Iraqi Constitution they're so fond of citing these days -- it includes provisions for a free press.

The judicial system throughout Iraq is wanting and
Alissa J. Rubin and Katherine Zoepf (New York Times) provide a peak at alleged impartial and unbiased judges today:

Judge Khalifa said Mr. Majid was guilty of crimes against humanity. Mr. Majid remained calm, but Mr. Ani shouted: "I welcome death if it is for Iraq, for pan-Arabism and for the Baath. Down with the American and Persian occupation!"The judge responded, "Shut up."In later remarks to fellow judges, Judge Khalifa was overheard saying: "All the Baathists are this way. Baathists live as Baathists and die as Baathists."

Adam Ashton (McClatchy Newspapers) reports, "About 1,000 Asian men who were hired by a Kuwaiti subcontractor to the U.S. military have been confined for as long as three months in windowless warehouses near the Baghdad airport without money or a place to work." The contractor is KBR and Noah Shachtman (Wired) reminds that workers from India lodged a complaint against KBR in 2004 stating they had been deceived by them while 2007 found a KBR subcontractor explaining to the US Congress how Filipinos were "kidnapped to work on the U.S. embassy in Baghdad." And today the imprisoned made their displeasure known. Deborah Haynes (Times of London) reports, "Iraqi guards opened fire above the heads of 1,000 migrant workers who staged a mini-riot today in protest at their poor treatment in Baghdad and the prospect of being sent home without pay. The men, from Bangladesh, Nepal, India and Sri Lanka, will be flown to Dubai after the Kuwaiti company that hired them failed to secure enough contract work at dining facilities inside a number of US military bases across Iraq. Their passports have also been taken." Haynes goes on to reveal that the workers have been held since arriving -- this after paying $3,000 (US equivalent) for jobs that did not exist. Haynes also visited the compound and filed a report on it:

He had dreams of coming to Iraq, making his fortune and migrating to Australia. Instead Manoj Kodithuwakku, 28, a Sri Lankan, is stranded in an overcrowded hangar near a US military base with no money, no job and no way out.
Poorly dressed and desperate, he and hundreds of other men from developing countries who came looking for work are living in pitiful conditions. Yesterday The Times entered one of three pale blue hangars that house foreign workers near Baghdad airport. They are full of men who paid a small fortune to come here and have ended up forgotten and trapped.

While workers are trapped, countries continue leaving the so-called 'coalition' of the willing. Today Azerbaijani follows South Koera in ending their mission and
Michael Christie (Reuters) notes, "Barely a day goes by without an end-of-mission ceremony in a dusty military camp somewhere in Iraq, with U.S., allied and Iraqi officials delivering grateful speeches to departing troops, and pinning medals on chests as military bands play." Joe Sterling (CNN) adds, "So far this year, Poland, Armenia, Mongolia, Georgia, Latvia, Macedonia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kazakhstan and South Korea have departed or begun departing Iraq. Over the next couple of weeks, Azerbaijan, Tonga, the Czech Republic, Japan, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Denmark, Moldova and Albania will be leaving, a total of more than 600 troops."

In some of today's reported violence . . .


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing claimed 1 life and left five more people wounded and a Baghdad mortar attack left five people wounded.


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 1 tribal leader was shot dead in Diyala Province today.


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 1 corpse discovered in Baghdad.

Andrew Cockburn (CounterPunch) speaks with Winslow Wheeler (who was editor of America's Defense Meltdown: Pentagon Reform for President Obama and the New Congress) regarding president-elect Barack Obama and Wheeler explains:

He campaigned on "Change We Can Believe in" and his transition almost immediately switched to "Continuity We Can Believe In." The people so far selected, especially Robert Gates, have a track record, and that track record is basically to keep things the way they are. Gates will do what he's told on issues like Iraq and Afghanistan. He's already made it clear that as far as managing the Pentagon is concerned he thinks he's been doing a competent job. But during his tenure things have only gotten worse. The budget's going up faster than ever before in recent history; the size of our forces is going south; the equipment continues to get older. We have a new report from the Congressional Budget Office that tracks the size of our weapons inventory and its age. This study shows that if everything goes perfectly according to Gates' plans as revealed in his Pentagon budget, our forces will continue to shrink and the equipment will continue to get older.
The one exception is Obama's plan to expand the number of combat units in the army and marine corps. That is turning out to be a question of much larger cost than people suspected. It's going to cost us somewhere in excess of a hundred billion dollars. It's very unclear therefore if that expansion is actually going to occur and the historic trend suggests that even if it does occur it will reverse itself in a few years and the additional units will be phased out. Also, if you look at previous wars such as Korea and the Indochina wars, the expansions that
occurred during those conflict were gigantic compared to the puny little 60,000
man increase that Robert Gates and Barack Obama say they want to endorse.

In other news, Music pioneer
Odetta died yesterday. Her influence was wide reaching and among the many who cited her as an influence over the years were Carly Simon (Odetta's voice was the one that allowed Carly to hear herself as a singer), Bob Dylan, Harry Belafonte, Carolyn Hester, Janis Ian, Phoebe Snow, Holly Near, Janis Joplin and Judy Collins. The Washington Post headlines their obituary "Odetta, 77; Sang the Soundtrack for the Civil Rights Movement" (Martin Weil and Adam Bernstein, wrote the obit).

MediaChannel has opened MEDIA STORE for the holidays: "The Economy may be crashing, but we as a culture still believe in a season of giving. That's why MediaChannel and GlobalVision are opening an online store, as others close theirs, to share books and films we believe offer food for the mind and make for valuable gifts. Buying through us helps support MediaChannel. Your support in this season means alot to us. Our last fundraising drive has helped keep us alive! Your continuing help will keep us online and on the issues we all care about."

iraqadel husseinreporters without bordersthe committee to protect journalistsyahya barzanji
the los angeles timestina susman
the new york timesalissa j. rubinkatherine zoepf
deborah haynes
adam ashton
mcclatchy newspapers
andrew cockburn
the washington post

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Facts, Sec of State

Katrina vanden Heuvel is an idiot. She's just a hopeless fool. We're on the road as usual (Ava, C.I. and myself) and C.I. gets a call from a friend in Nation management who's going on and ona bout Katty-van-van and her most recent embarrassments. C.I. avoids The Nation these days unless a friend or friends with the magazine ask, "Please call this out!" So C.I. was getting the scoop on Katty-van-van's latest dumb ass-itis when all of the sudden, C.I. screams, "Stop!" I'm driving but we're at a red light so I know that's not directed at me. C.I. proceeds to give a 15 minute seminar on the Socialist and Communist Parties at the start of the last century through WWII to explain just how lunatic Katty-van-van is.

I'll be very nice because I see a blogger thinks he knows something about the Communist Party in the 1930s and he doesn't. I should have already known he was wrong (I did get some of this in college) but even if I hadn't remembered, I would have had C.I.'s seminar in my mind. I told C.I. (and Ava agrees with me) that we need to address the Communist Party and the Socialist in terms of the way Katty-van-van doesn't get it. (She's not lying, she's jut an airhead. She has no clue.)

So we may do that. I just e-mailed Jim about it and I know he'll go for it. The lies and errors was the main selling point on the piece that became "Book discussion roundtable" Sunday. That came partly about due to Mike's sticking to one issue and C.I. grasping what the rest of us didn't. C.I. asked, "Mike, is your grandfather wanting this covered?" He was. The minute that we found out that, it became a topic we had to cover. First of all because if anyone's family wants something covered we do try to grab it. Second, Mike's grandfather is a Socialist and has been one his whole life. He has never been in a political closet and he doesn't have a lot of sympathy for those who were. He has even less sympathy for those Communists and Socialists today who won't own up to who they are. (I'm not referring to young people. Young people today are the main life in both parties. But those who can't get honest send the message that there's something to be ashamed of. That's a point long made at Third. I really think this could have been a time for the Socialist Party to gather many but they blew that all year with their little snit-fits, their insistence in screaming "racist!" at the working class (a refusal to support Barack Obama did not make someone racist -- as we're seeing today, it made them visionary). They could have spoken to the workers and reached out to get this bond going but, as usual, the egg heads weren't interested in increasing numbers, just in feeling superior so they made a lot of false charges and damaged their own chances.

I did not read a book for the discussion we did Sunday. I had CD reviews to do and just didn't have the time. Ty spent all last week with his grandparents so he was also book free and Jim felt it would be better if Ava and C.I. didn't have a book assignment partly because all three of us are on the road and I'd already said it was too much and partly because they can add details to the discussion. Which they did. So did Elaine, by the way.

Hillary's Secretary of State and I see a lot of e-mails in the public account about that. Truthfully? I wish she wouldn't have taken it. She will be the designated fall guy. But she took it and I'm sure she'll put her all into it. Will she be any good? I don't think we've had a Secretary of State that's made much of a difference in my lifetime, certainly not while I was an adult.

By the way, I said "she is." Technically, she isn't. Barack's not been voted president yet (by the electoral college) and all appointments need Senate approval; however, the Senate pretty much always waives through one of their own. It's just protocol. So while Bill Richardson should probably be spoken of in caution, Hillary or anyone else who was or is in the Senate should be considered a shoe-in.

Closing with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Tuesday, November 2, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, KRG objects to al-Maliki, the United Nations issues a report on Iraq, and more.

Today the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq released their thirteenth "Human Rights Report" with this one covering January 1, 2008 through June 30, 2008.
In their press release, they note:

The report highlights the situation of detainees across the country that remains of severious concern, including in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region. Many detainees have been deprived of their liberty for month or even years, often under harsh physical conditions, without access to defense counsel, or without being formally charged with a crime or produced before a judge. Continuing allegations of widespread torture and ill-treatment of inmates are of particular concern. Slow bureaucratic procedures, insufficient resource, degraded infrastructure and lack of effective accountability measures result in inordinate delays in processing detainees' cases.
The plight of women across Iraq still requires urgent measures to combat gender-based violence, including so-called honor crimes.

The report is entitled "Human Rights Report" [PDF format warning,
click here] and is thirty pages and divided into five sections. The first section is the Executive Summary, the second is the Recommendations, third is Protection of Human Rights, fourth is Rule of Law and finally Promotion activities of UNAMI. The summary is ten points that notes the violence in generalities, notes that the March and May attacks on Basra and the Sadr City section of Baghdad resulted in claims that civilians were wrongly targeted (and that UNAMI is investigating those claims), the targets of certain professional classes, the issue of prisoners, etc. The Recommendations are broken up into three sections. First up is those give for the Iraqi government and topping that list is: "Issue on a regular basis mortality data compiled by the Ministry of Health, based on informaction received from all governorates and statistics kept at the Medico-Legal Institute in Baghdad, together with details of the methodology used to calculate the figures." In addition, they called for measures to protect at risk populations (religous and ethnic minorities, women) and to ensure prisoners are provided with counsel (and access to relatives), prompt judiciary processes, investigations of reports of abuse, better trained employees, etc. In this section the confusion over which prisoners belong to the US (M-NF) and to the KRG (Kurdistan Regional Government) is broached and that leads us to the recommendations for the Kurdish region which (yet again) notes that policies regarding journalists and media professional need to be reviewed, that the vulnerable communities need to be better protected (not that different from their recommendations for the Iraqi government) the policies with regards to prisoners need to be reviewed and careful consideration should be given to "a moratorium on the death penalty pending a thorough review of legal proceedings followed at both pre-trials and trial stages." Next come the recommendations for M-NF which include the need for continued investiagtions ("throughly, promptly and impartially") of all alleged "unlawful killings," a weak request that the US follow internationa human rights law, determine custody of prisoners captured jointly by the US and Kurdish forces, a weak request to allow international human montiors access to US prison facilities, etc.

The next section, "Protection of Human Rights; Extrajudicial executions, targeted and indiscriminate killings" notes at the start reports that civilians were targets following "car and suicide bombings" and that "Armed groups continue to ignore the distinction between civilian and combatants." The same grouping (armed groups) has acted with impunity in attacking "government officials, religious figures, state employees, law enofrmacement personnel and a number of professional groups including academics, journalists, lawyers and judges." The section then goes on to provide a breakdown of the violence for the time period. The next section focuses on the targeting of certain groups. We'll note two specific groups from that section.

Religious figures and activists have been the victims of targeted violence throughout Iraq during the reporting period. These attacks included the killing of Sheikh Essam Fleih Hassani, Imam of Al-Mukhtar mosque in Samarra, a member of the Sunni "Association of Muslim Scholars" and a well-known figure opposed to Al-Qaeda and other militia groups. On 8 February, four Christian activists who were on a missionary work with the Norwegian Churches Organization were kidnapped by gunmen from Al Sakhra Church in Barsa. On 29 February, Paulos Faraj Rahho, Chaldean Bishop of Mosul, was kidnapped and killed. On 5 April, gunmen shot dead Adel Yousif, a priest in Hay al Karrada in Baghdad. On 11 April, Riyad al Nouri, director of Al Sadr Office was shot dead by gunmen in Najaf. On 15 April, Ali al Fadhli, a representative of Grand Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani was shot in downtown Basra city. On 16 April, gunmen attacked and injured Sheikh Habib Al-Khateeb.

[. . .]

Medical workers and doctors continued being targeted. These attacks included the killings of surgeon Jinan Al Sabbagh in Basra on 12 Janury, Munther Mehrej Radi, Dean of the Faculty of Denstiry in Baghdad University, on 23 January, Khalid Nasir Al Meyeahee, Director of Basra Hospital on 9 March. Dr. Amer Lazem in Baghdad on 17 April, Dr. Barakat Kathem in Balad Rux on 16 June and the kidnappings of surgeon Mohammad Abid Ali Al Ta'ei in Hilla on 10 April, Dr. Sabbar Mahrooz Abdullah, and his assistant, Dr. Ahmad Salah, in Tikrit on 15 May.

The report notes that Diyala Province had "the highest number of kidnapping incidents" and that it, Nineveh, Anbar and Diwaniyah joined Baghdad in having large number of corpses discovered. Now a few who can go into the way-back machine will remember when the New York Times (and which reporter) were pimping the 'less corpses discovered in Baghdad per week!' lie to sell the idea that things were looking up, thing were looking up. So note this: "During the reporting period, between 3 and 5 unidifentifed bodies were found almost on daily baiss in different areas of Baghdad, including Karrada, Mansour, Sadr City, Dora, Tobchi, Shaab, Fedhyah and Hurriyah." Three to five would be more than when the New York Times was insisting -- case closed!

There is no news in the section on contractors. The next section explores civilian deaths at the hands of Iraqi forces and US forces (but not really much data on the latter). We'll note this:Civilian deaths reportedly caused by Iraqi Security Forces (as well as by US-supported armed groups such as Awakening Councils and the Sons of Iraq) including the following: a lawyer shot by Iraqi police curing an exchange of fire with gunmen in Kut, on 8 January; 15 civilians killed in a fight between Awakening Council members and suspected insurgents in three villages around Mosul on 10 February; nine civilians killed in clashes between Iraqi Security Forces and the Mahdi Army in Kut on 11 March; 9 civilians were killed amid clashes between armed groups and Iraqi security personnel in Hay al Mithaq in Mosul on 11 March; one woman was killed by police in car that failed to stop at a checkpoint in Samarra on 14 March; in Mosul four civilian were killed on 9 April, and two others amid clashes between gunmen attacking a security checkpoint and the armed people defending the checkpoint and the armed people defending the checkpoint (south east of Mosul) on 27 April.

The next two pages involve the "Situation of women" and starts off noting complaints to UNAMI:

. . . from women regarding restrictions on their freedoms by conservative elements operating in neighbourhoods, governmental institutions and educational establishments in certain parts of Iraq. Wome reported receiving verbal comments on their mode of dress, particularly in cases where they were not wearing headscarves. UNAMI also received reports of instances where women faced harassments or threats at checkpoints for similar reasons. Female students at universities reported increasing pressure on them by their families to conform to a more conservative style of dress and behavior. Where female students failed to comply, retaliatory measures outside the university grounds were reported against them. Certain areas formely controlled by radical elements have witnessed a lessining of such pressures on women and girls since it came under the control of Iraqi Security Forces or the Awakening Councils. This includes the ability to move more freely, report to work or attend educational activities.

The report also notes violence throughout Iraq, and the incidents of 'honor' killings and domestic violence in the Kurdish region. That's the first half of the report.
Mary Beth Sheridan (Washington Post) reports a move towards improvement on the part of some women in Baghdad and uses college student Hadeel Ahmed as one exmaple. Ahmed is learning to drive and has given up "her head scarf and long skirts". That is not: All things are great for women in Iraq! Or even just in Baghdad. It is one small group of women in Baghdad who are making an effort to reclaim rights they had prior to the start of the illegal war. Electronic Iraq posts an IRIN report entitled "Violence against Iraqi women continues unabeted" and quotes the UN's Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women Yakin Ertuek explaining that "violence against Iraqi women is committed by numerous actors, such as militia groups, insurgents, Islamic extremists, law enforcement personnel, members of the family as well as the community." And Sunday Afif Sarhan (Observer) reported that 'honor' killings in Basra had increased with 81 women murdered in 2008 to date including Rand Abdel-Qader:

Rand Abdel-Qader was killed after her family discovered that she had formed a friendship with a 22-year-old infantryman whom she knew as Paul. She was suffocated by her father then hacked at with a knife. Abdel-Qader Ali was subsequently arrested and released without charge.
Rand's mother, Leila Hussein, who divorced her husband after the killing, went into hiding but was tracked down weeks later and assassinated by an unknown gunman. Her husband had told The Observer that police had congratulated him for killing his daughter.

Reuters notes Turkey sent planes to bomb northern Iraq again yesterday. Hurriyet notes that the Turkish military has confirmed the attacks: "Turkish warplanes on Monday bombed terror organization PKK targets in northern Iraq, the general staff said in a statement, confirming an earlier statement by Iraq's border guards." AP reports Iraqi refugees in Syria are not pleased by the treaty and that approximately 3,000 of them protested against it yesterday: The protesters carried banners including one that read: 'The pact aims to put Iraq under US tutelage.' They also chanted anti-US slogans and called on Iraqi leaders to revoke the pact." Meanwhile South Korea says bye-bye. Hwang Hae-rym and Teri Weaver (Stars and Stripes) note South Korea has now left Iraq and is no longer part of the so-called 'coalition' of the willing.


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Mosul car bombing that claimed 5 lives and left thirty people wounded and a Mosul cart explosion that claimed 6 lives and left fifteen people wounded. Reuters notes a Hilla roadside bombing that claimed the lives of 5 Iraqi soldiers.


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports two police officers wounded in a Mosul shooting.

AP reports that the "U.S. military is urging Iraq's Shiite-led government to boost the number of Sunni volunteers into its security forces" -- meaning the "Awakening" Council members. The "Awakening" Council figures into a lengthy statement the Kurdish Regional Government issued. They noted they had held off commenting specifically about Nouri al-Maliki's November 20th speech because they didn't want to harm the vote in Parliament on the treaty. Their concerns include the use of groups similar to the "Awakening" Council which they feel not only rewards thugs who have caused harm in the past but undermines their ability to police their own area. (al-Maliki and Baghdad's take is that the tribal councils are necessary to provide protection and that the KRG has 'expansionist desires'). The KRG is also worried that al-Maliki is circumventing the Constitution and they note the following:
1. The Prime Minister aims to suspend the Constitution. Despite his talk about the need to make amendments to the Constitution, what he really wants is to suspend the Constitution; a constitution which he participated in drafting and for which he has expressed admiration. The idea of suspending the constitution is a very dangerous action indeed. Amendments can be made to the Constitution and there is a mechanism set out in the Constitution for this purpose. Suspension of the Constitution is unacceptable to all parties, even those who opposed the constitution.2. Imposing decisions of one party at the exclusion of participation in the decision-making process by other parties who are part of a coalition government. The Prime Minister applies the decisions taken by the Islamic Dawa Party (the Prime Minister's faction) to the government. This is in violation of the Constitution and in violation of all the agreements we have. Most importantly, it is a violation of the program of the coalition government of federal Iraq.3. Militarization of society by using the Iraqi Army for political purposes and establishing political groups armed and funded by the government. The Federal Prime Minister attempts to militarize the society and create Support Councils. In fact, these are all linked to and belong to his party. Of course, his party has the right to establish such organizations in accordance with regulations set out in the law. But they cannot be established in the name of the government and be funded and armed by the government.4. The federal government does not rely on a law to govern the work of the Council of Ministers. The Council of Ministers doesn't even have an agreed upon charter, so proposals and decisions are all drafted in the Office of the Prime Minister (by leaders of the Islamic Dawa Party) first and then presented to the Council of Ministers.5. The Federal Prime Minister keeps maintaining that he is the only one in charge of the executive branch. But this is not the case when we look at Article-66 of the Constitution which says, "The federal executive power shall consist of the President of the Republic and the Council of Ministers and shall exercise its powers in accordance with the Constitution and the law."The Constitution has entrusted executive powers to the Council of Ministers. Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki is the head of the Council of Ministers. Important decisions must be made by the Council of Ministers headed by him. They cannot be taken by himself on behalf of the Council of Ministers. In the new Iraq, decisionmaking is not to be monopolized.

Turning to the War Hawk Corpratist who is now president-elect, Barack Obama gets easy publicity today for comments about he'd 'like' a 16-month withdrawal . . . of combat troops. The same old song-and-dance.
Chris Hedges (Truthdig via Information Clearing House) reminds:

Barack Obama's decision to increase troop levels in Afghanistan and leave behind tens of thousands of soldiers and Marines in Iraq -- he promises only to withdraw combat brigades -- is a failure to rescue us from the status of a rogue nation. It codifies Bush's "war on terror." And the continuation of these wars will corrupt and degrade our nation just as the long and brutal occupation of Gaza and the West Bank has corrupted and degraded Israel. George W. Bush has handed Barack Obama a poisoned apple. Obama has bitten it.The invasions and occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq were our response to feelings of vulnerability and collective humiliation after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. They were a way to exorcise through reciprocal violence what had been done to us.Collective humiliation is also the driving force behind al-Qaida and most terrorist groups. Osama bin Laden cites the Sykes-Picot Agreement, which led to the carving up of the Ottoman Empire, as the beginning of Arab humiliation. He attacks the agreement for dividing the Muslim world into "fragments." He rails against the presence of American troops on the soil of his native Saudi Arabia. The dark motivations of Islamic extremists mirror our own.

Jeremy Scahill (CounterPunch) examines whom the War Hawk is staffing with, "Barack Obama has assembled a team of rivals to implement his foreign policy. But while pundits and journalists speculate endlessly on the potential for drama with Hillary Clinton at the state department and Bill Clinton's network of shady funders, the real rivaly that will play out goes virutally unmentioned." Almost worth applauding, Scahill. But you don't know a thing about Bill's funders and your association with crap-ass Pacifica programming, specifically the one where John Nichols FLAT OUT LIED that he was getting proof in Canada that it was Hillary and not Barack talking to the Canadian government about NAFTA means you should learn to stick to what is known. After Scahill defeats the point of his own opening, he gets around to semi-exploring Susan Rice -- a Supreme War Hawk (as noted here for months and months and months) and that is work worth applauding.

Thursday's snapshot noted: "Meanwhile in Germany a US soldier is seeking aslyum. Andreas Buerger (Reuters) reports 31-year-old Iraq War veteran Andre Shepherd self-checked out of the military in 2007 and is now seeking sancturay in Germany where he held a press conference today and declared: 'When I read and heard about people being ripped to shreds from machine guns or being blown to bits by the Hellfire missiles I began to feel ashamed about what I was doing. I could not in good conscience continue to serve. . . . Here in Germany it was established that everyone, even a soldier, must take responsibility for his or her actions, no matter how many superiors are giving orders'." Today James Ewinger (Plain Dealer) reports for Andre's hometown (Cleveland) that the 31-year-old war resister calls the Iraq War "illegal" and he notes:

Shepherd said he grew up on East 94th Street in Cleveland, attended Lakewood High School and studied computer science at Kent State University until he ran out of money.
He enlisted in 2004 with the hope of flying the Apaches, but was urged to become a mechanic first.
Scharf said he doubts that Shepherd's expected order to return to Iraq would, by itself, constitute an unlawful order.
"His best argument would be that Apaches are used to kill civilians," Scharf said, but he still viewed it as a weak case.

iraqthe washington postmary beth sheridanhwang hae-rymteri weaverthe los angeles timestina susmanchris hedges
jeremy scahill