Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Gross gross

I like Michael Caine. That doesn't excuse Terry Gross (NPR's Fresh Air) for only using women as guests for 20% of the time in the last five months. But he was her guest on Tuesday and it's amazing that she gets away with it until you realize how many self-hating women like Riverdaughter will go along and promote Terry.

This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Wednesday, November 3, 2010. Chaos and violence, a threat is issued against Iraqi Christians, Nouri's lack of protection for them is noted, the stalemate continues and -- guess what -- some are saying Nouri's about to be prime minister (we've been there before, yes), WikiLeaks gets further attention (and student press tends to do better than Big or Little Media in the US), and more.
The National notes the cry for Iraq to defend their Christian community in 2008:
The question now is: what were the government's measures since 2008 to preserve one of Iraq's components from opression and violence?
Unfortunately, nothing has been done. It is easy to accuse al Qa'eda of brutal massacres, but the country's Christians are publicly targeted and are beseeching the government to provide their security, but what did Nouri al Maliki's government offer them?
The targeting of minorities could lead to the fragmentation of Iraq and the disruption of its cultural and political fabric. No one can guarantee that the Lebanese Christians won't be targeted in the future.
This comes as Martin Chulov (Guardian) reports that al Qaeda in Mesopotamia has postead a statement online that it will launch more attacks on Iraqi Christians, referring to Pope Benedict XVI as "the hallucinating tyrant of the Vatican" and declaring Iraqi Christians will be "extirpated and dispersed." They state: "All Christin centres, organisations and institutions, leaders and followers, are legitimate targets for the muhadjideen wherever they can reach them. We will open upon them the doors of destruction and rivers of blood." Richard Spencer (Telegraph of London) observes, "While Iraqi Christians have been under siege since the fall of Saddam Hussein, the sudden public threats mark a new development." AFP reports al Qaeda in Mesopotamia is insisting that Camilia Shehata and Wafa Constantine -- married to two priests in Egypt -- are being imprisoned in Egypt because they "willingly converted to Islam." Really? Now they're concerned about forced conversions?
Angus Crawford (BBC News) reported on the forcible conversions of the pacifistic Mandaens in Iraq by Islamic militants including tennage Luay who was kidnapped, forcibly circumcised ("a practice not allowed in the Mandaean religion") or Mandaen Enhar who they 'punished' for reufsing to wear a veil by gang-raping her. Do we want to talk about the Yazidis or any of the other religious minorities in Iraq? The persecution has taken place with Nouri refusing to do a damn thing. That point's made today by The National, it was made when over 200 Yazidis were killed in August of 2007 and the KRG's Khaled Salih stated "because of the inaction of the government in Baghdad and their inability to protect the population they are suffering the way they are now." Sabean-Mandaen Layla told her story to Jennifer Utz (Huffington Post -- link has text and video) -- about fleeing "in 2005 after a militia group wearing Iraqi police uniforms kidnapped her husband, and following his refusal to convert to Islam, tortured and killed him in front of their 13 year-old son." You can find more of Jennifer Utz' work at Iraqi Refugee Stories. While we're noting the religious minorities, Yezidi Human Rights Organization-International continues to attempt to correct some misconceptions about their religion -- we noted the reality a few years ago when a major US daily newspaper wrongly called them devil worshipers and we'll note their statement now:
In the past 20 years to present, especially since the internet has become the easiest way to find information regarding whatever a person wish to search for. We have seen that more than 99% of the writers accusing the innocent Yezidi as devil worshipers, this is absolutely pure fiction. During the Saddam's era the Yezidis were misclassified as Arab in ethnicity by force. Although Saddam has gone, but the Kurds have come to power in Northern Iraq since 1991, and they are forcing the innocent Yezidis to be misclassified as Kurdish, again this time under KRG's brutal and dictatorial system. All these are misleading, untruth, and pure fiction about the innocent Yezidis (Ezdae). Because of all these misunderstanding the truth about the Yezidis, we have been attacked hundreds of times in the past 1000 years to present, therefore we (Ezdae) have lost millions of innocent Yezidis in brutal and inhumane attacks against this most indigenous and peaceful nation in the world today.
We have and will continue to note Yezidis as Krudish if they self-identify as Kurdish to the press (some do). We've also noted -- especially in the 2008 wave of attacks -- when Yezidis did not identify as Kurdish. (Some who did not identify as such voiced their opinion that the KRG was behind the attacks on them in an effort to force them to accept 'protection.') There are many religious minorities in Iraq. The Baha'i Faith still has an estimated 2,000 members in Iraq and that may not be a choice. Under Saddam Hussein, they were not allowed passports or various other papers and documents which meant they couldn't leave Iraq. Nouri's government made a big-to-do about how they were going to be issuing identity and residency papers to them finally (back in May 2007) but that hasn't come to pass in reality. Mideast Youth notes that since the announcement "only about six or seven Baha'i identity papers" have been issued. As with all the problems facing Iraq's religious minorities, Nouri's done nothing. He's sometimes made a show of pretending to do something, but he's not done a damn thing.
Related: Iraq's been using 'wands' purchased from England to 'find' bombs -- they require you 'start' them by basically high stepping in place for a half-minute or more. They are a joke and ineffective and that's been known for some time (the UK has banned their sale) but only now can the 'government' in Iraq catch on. Ernesto Londono (Washington Post) reports today that this 'new' finding by Iraq's Minister of the Interior "was unsurprising. But in today's Iraq, it had the potential to be politically explosive. What the ministry did in response to the inspector general's conclusion speaks volumes about how the Iraqi government works these days - and why so often it doesn't." Dropping back to the January 22nd snapshot:
Caroline Hawley (BBC Newsnight -- link has text and video) reports that England has placed an export ban on the ADE-651 'bomb detector' -- a device that's cleaned Iraq's coffers of $85 million so far. Steven Morris (Guardian) follows up noting that, "The managing director [Jim McCormick] of a British company that has been selling bomb-detecting equipment to security forces in Iraq was arrested on suspicion of fraud today."
And before that, November 3, 2009, Rod Nordland (New York Times) would report that retired Lt Col Hal Bidlack was explaining these 'magic wands' operate "on the same principle as a Ouija board" meaning "the power of suggestion" and that Nouri's government or 'government' was wasting between $16,500 to $60,000 a piece on these wands (of which they "purchased more than 1,500"). Bidlack's best discussion of the wands may have been to Richard Roth (CBS Evening News with Katie Couric -- link has text and video) where he explained, "They're fine for fooling a 4-year-old at a birthday party, but they're immoral if they're trying to save lives at a checkpoint." All this time and only now is Iraq admitting the wands don't work. Accountability and transparency don't exist in Nouri's Iraq. But he thinks he should continue as prime minister?
March 7th, Iraq concluded Parliamentary elections. The Guardian's editorial board noted in August, "These elections were hailed prematurely by Mr Obama as a success, but everything that has happened since has surely doused that optimism in a cold shower of reality." 163 seats are needed to form the executive government (prime minister and council of ministers). When no single slate wins 163 seats (or possibly higher -- 163 is the number today but the Parliament added seats this election and, in four more years, they may add more which could increase the number of seats needed to form the executive government), power-sharing coalitions must be formed with other slates, parties and/or individual candidates. (Eight Parliament seats were awarded, for example, to minority candidates who represent various religious minorities in Iraq.) Ayad Allawi is the head of Iraqiya which won 91 seats in the Parliament making it the biggest seat holder. Second place went to State Of Law which Nouri al-Maliki, the current prime minister, heads. They won 89 seats. Nouri made a big show of lodging complaints and issuing allegations to distract and delay the certification of the initial results while he formed a power-sharing coalition with third place winner Iraqi National Alliance -- this coalition still does not give them 163 seats. They are claiming they have the right to form the government. In 2005, Iraq took four months and seven days to pick a prime minister. It's seven months and twenty-seven days and still counting.
Suadad al-Salhy (Reuters) notes that Iraq's Parliament is currently set to meet on Monday -- that may or may not take place (court order not withstanding) -- and that it's possilbe a motion could be put forward favoring Nouri. Should that be attempted, it's equally possible that enough members could storm out of the session leaving the Parliament without a quorum. BBC News quotes acting speaker Fouad Masum stating that Monday will see the election of "the president of the parliament and his two associates" -- which would not refer to the presidency (currently Jalal Talabani) and the vice presidencies (currently Shi'ite Adil Abdul-Mahdi and Sunni Tariq al-Hashimi) but would refer to the post of Speaker and two associates -- and BBC correspondent Jim Muir expresses his belief that the signs lean towards Nouri remaining prime minister -- but, to be clear, the Speaker said nothing about taking up that matter on Monday. Equally true, if Nouri was named prime minister every time the press declared he was about to be named prime minister, March 8th would have seen him crowned (Quil Lawrence was pimping Nouri the day after the elections). Jomana Karadsheh and Arwa Damon (CNN -- link has text and video) report on the statements and announcements and they make no claims that the prime minister will be chosen Monday: "While the speaker election may be a step toward getting the political process back in motion, there is little if any indication that talks to form an inclusive government have made any progress." On CNN, Errol Barnett spoke with the International Institute For Stragic Studies' Mamoun Fandy about yesterday's attack and wondered whether it might either result in further delays for the political process or whether it might in fact speed things up?
Mamoun Fandy: Well there are two things here. First of all, as Arwa [Damon] pointed out, we have a process that's deadlocked for the last eight months and there's an insistence on the part of Prime Minister Maliki and his group on forming a sectarian government and there's a general perception in Iraq -- as well as outside of Iraq -- that this government has been sectarian and that violence is a response to the dominance of extreme Shia trends within the government that's marginalizing the Sunnis, the Kurds and the Christians and everybody else. Now this violence could very much focus the attention of the politicians that the price is really high and it is urgent for them to heed the call of [KRG President] Masoud Barzani and his group in Kurdistan to form a government or to heed the call of King Abdullah [II] of Saudi Arabia who invited all the Iraqis to come to Riyadh -- and have a discussion of how to form a government -- in two weeks after the Hajj [pilgrimage].
AFP reports that the country's Foriegn Minister, Hoshyar Zebari, declared today that he was receptive to talks in Saui Arabia and quoted him saying, "It is a good initiative and we welcome it because it comes to serve the people." Robert Dreyfuss (The Nation) offers this take on the reactions (prior to Zebari) to the Saudi offer:
That's not to say that all parties will welcome Saudi Arabia's involvement. Most of all, Saudi Arabia favors the Sunnis, who've rallied behind former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi's Iraqiya bloc, and they don't like Prime Minister Maliki one bit. The State of Law party, the hilariously misnamed party set up by Maliki, has already delivered its to-be-expected rejection of King Abdullah's initiative, and Kurds don't like it either, apparently. But Abdullah is not easily deterred. "Everyone believes that you are at a crossroads that requires the utmost to unite, get over traumas, and get rid of sectarianism," said the Saudi king. By "sectarianism," of course, Abdullah means Shiite triumphalism. But the Saudi king is smart enough to know that if Iraq is going to have a stable government, it's going to mean that Maliki, Allawi, and other factions—notably the boisterous Kurds—are going to have to divide power three ways.
That, the Saudi monarch undoubtedly knows, means that Saudi Arabia and Iran (along with Turkey as a minority shareholder) will have to strike a deal of their own to support a broad-based, compromise government. The idea that Saudi Arabia and Iran can make that kind of deal isn't unprecedented. Over the past several years, they've done precisely that in Lebanon, where Saudi Arabia and its Sunni partners, along with the Christian allies, stuck a deal with Iran and its Shiite partners, including Hezbollah and its own Christian allies, and so far it's worked. That deal didn't make the United States happy, but it's stabilized Lebanon, as much as that sect-ridden nation can be called stable.
Tanya Nolan (Australia's ABC) explores the waves of violence in Iraq and the stalemate's perceived role in them:
A former senior analyst with the CIA and now senior fellow at the National Defence University in Washington DC, Doctor Judith Yaphe, says the political instability is a perfect storm for militants wanting to wreak havoc.
Dr Yaphe says militants may be trying to encourage a civil war while incumbent prime minister Nouri al-Maliki leads a weak government.
"One thing they're probably testing is to see how strong are the security forces. Will they stand behind Maliki?" she said.
Dr Yaphe says she believes Iraq will not be able to form a government before the end of the year.
The latest reports in the Guardian newspaper quote Mr Allawi as threatening to pull out of a US-backed power sharing deal with Mr Maliki and the Kurdish bloc.

"I have come to accept that opposition is a real option for us," Allawi said in an interview with the Guardian. "We are in the final days of making a final decision on this issue."
Until recently, Allawi had been clinging to hopes that a compromise would be reached between his bloc, known as Iraqiya, and the coalition of the prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, whom Allawi's bloc narrowly edged by 91 seats to 89 in the 7 March election.
However, interminable rounds of shuttle diplomacy, mostly conducted in neighbouring capitals, appear to have convinced him that a US-backed power-sharing government is not viable.
"We are not ready to be a false witness to history by signing up to something that we don't believe can work," Allawi said, in reference to a mooted plan to create for him an office with executive powers equal to those of the prime minister.

Friday October 22nd, WikiLeaks released 391,832 US military documents on the Iraq War. The documents -- US military field reports -- reveal torture and abuse and the ignoring of both. They reveal ongoing policies passed from the Bush administration onto the Obama one. They reveal that both administrations ignored and ignore international laws and conventions on torture. They reveal a much higher civilian death toll than was ever admitted to. Ali Bharib (Columbia Journalism Review) provides an overview of the release with regards to Iran and what the documents do and do not indicate. Travis Gumphrey (Daily Cougar) emphasizes one of the most importants points from the release:
The primary force in the latest leaks is that of detainee abuse and torture. Shortly after taking office, President Barack Obama promised to return America to a "moral high ground" by vowing to ensure that terror suspects weren't tortured or abused and ensuring American personnel comply with the Geneva Convention.
Additionally, the implication was that US forces would make sure that the authorities to whom the detainees were handed over to for detention or interrogation were not torturing or abusing them.
One document filed on April 2, 2009, details the claims of a prisoner who says he was hog tied and beaten with a shovel as a part of a day-long torture ordeal. The report makes note of "minor injuries" including rope burns and a busted ear drum.
While there is no proof in any of the files of direct detainee mistreatment at the hands of US forces, there are allegations of abuse even after President Obama signed the order to put an end to torture.
He's done what the bulk of the US media hasn't: mentioned turning over detainees to known torturers and under who's watch. Barry Grey (WSWS) critiques Arthur S. Brisbane (New York Times) and the paper itself and notes, "Unlike the non-US media, which emphasized the killings of civilians, torture and other war crimes and the systematic government lying exposed by the documents, the Times downplayed these facts, declaring that the war logs added nothing new to what was already known about the war and occupation. It buried, for example, the news that the United Nations chief investigator for torture had publicly called on President Obama to launch an investigation into evidence that the American military handed over prisoners to Iraqi jailers for torture and execution. Indeed, the Times assiduously avoided using the word "torture" in its coverage of the documents." At Huffington Post, Human Rights First's international legal director Gabor Rona writes:

The trove of Iraq war documents recently made public by Wikileaks underscores several important truths.

One, the American people have a right to know when Americans or their allies commit violations of the laws of war. Two, the American government has been woefully nontransparent. Transparency is key to accountability, to minimizing violations and to preventing the civilian population from turning against US forces. This, in turn, protects, rather than endangers, US troops.

Yesterday Baghdad was slammed with bombings. Ned Parker and Jaber Zeki (Los Angeles Times) report:

Militants unleashed a wave of deadly attacks in Baghdad on Tuesday, killing at least 113 people in Shiite neighborhoods in an apparent bid to provoke a new sectarian war in the country.
Seventeen car bombs and other blasts shook the city at sunset in one of the bloodiest days this year. The coordinated attacks, which bore the earmark of the Sunni Arab militant group Al Qaeda in Iraq, came just 48 hours after 58 people were killed after armed men seized a Baghdad church.
Of yesterday's events, Jane Arraf (Christian Science Monitor) adds, "In Fallujah, west of Baghdad, mosque loudspeakers announced a lock-down, with no vehicle traffic allowed. The Anbar provincial council said it was prepared to send police to Baghdad, and appealed to citizens to donate blood to the wounded." Alsumaria TV adds, "In the wake of Baghdad bombings on Tuesday, Anbar Police Chief Brigadier Bahaa Al Karkhi told Alsumaria News that a comprehensive curfew was imposed in the province until further to avert possible attacks. In Waset, intensified security measures were taken in the province to avoid possible attacks as well, Police Chief Brigadier Khalaf Shafi Jaber told Alsumaria News." Arraf quotes Baghdad council member Mohamed al-Rubeiy stating, "For the last four months we have seen attacks around Baghdad but now they are inside (the city). Karrada is the center of Baghdad and Baghdad is the center of the government. That means the terrorists are sending a message to the world: 'We are back and we are here'."
Reuters notes that today's violence includes a 17-year-old male shot dead in front of his Mosul home, a Ramadi motorcycle bombing which injured two people, a Ramadi roadside bombing which injured two people, a Hammam al-Alil car bombing which injured three Iraqi soldiers and a Mosul grenade attack which injured one woman.

Now in spite of the continued violence and the last days spectacular violence, Thaindian News reports, "The Dutch government on Tuesday said that the situation in Iraq is not so unsafe that failed asylum seekers cannot be deported back to Iraq. Dutch Minister for Immigration and Asylum Affairs Gerd Leers announced his stance on Tuesday after a call for action from Amnesty International. Leers argued that this year alone, more than 400 Iraqi asylum seeks have already voluntarily returned to their country." Radio Netherlands Worldwide reports that Gerd Leers, the country's Minister of Immigration and Asylum, swore to Parliament "that the situation in the country is not so unsafe that people cannot return" but he has apparently backed down (at least temporarily) as a result "of a letter from the European Court of Human Rights banning the deporation". Dutch News also notes the letter as the reason Leers wasn't able to force through the deportations thus far.
Changing topics . . .
Azzam Alwash: My memory of those boat trips is that we're passing through these passage ways that are surrounded with reeds that -- to my mind's eye -- extended to the sky, these were towering reeds. I remember leaning over the outside of the boat and looking into this clear water and seeing fish and I remember heat. And every now and then, we'd go out of these meandering rivers to these wide lakes and suddenly there's this breeze that comes into you that cools you down. What I remember is a sense of serentiy, a sense of warmth, a sense of love, a sense of being with my father enjoying a uniqure place.
Azzam Alwash is an engineer, like his father. His family left Iraq long ago but he returned after the US invasion and was saddened to see the state of the marshes. The story is told on PBS' Nature in the "Braving Iraq" episode. Last week Jane Arraf (Christian Science Monitor) reported on Moutn Permagrone in the Kurdistan Regional Government. The mountain "is home to one-sixth of the roughly 3,300 plant varieties intended to be collected and preserved in a new national herbarium -- a catalog of the country's plant specimens that was looted and destroyed in Baghdad after Saddam Hussein was toppled in 2003." In the article, Azzam Alwash stressed, "Those who want the marshes restored understand that there is an intrinsic connection between the mountains of Kurdistan and the marshes of Iraq. If I want the marshes restored and managed properly, I have to not only protect the marshes but protect the integrity of the environment in Kurdistan because it's all one habitat."
And we'll drop back to the US for this from DiversityBusiness:
Call for Nominations: 2011 "Champions of Diversity"
southport, CT., June 16, 2010 / -- DiversityBusiness.com announced its call for 2011 nominations for "Champions of Diversity" award. This distinguished group of individuals is recognized for their outstanding achievements in various diversity initiatives.

"The List represent individuals who have demonstrated a commitment to solutions in diversity issues on a global and "national scale. The honorees have made a significant impact on diversity issues in education, procurement, housing and employment. These unsung champions have not waved a diversity flag but rather have quietly made a difference in the lives of people by positively impacting their lives, and improving the economic conditions for their families and communities.

"I was extremely excited about the 2010 honoree list" said Kenton Clarke, CEO of DiversityBusiness. "This recognition brings attention to comprehensible results provided by many different people representing all sectors of diversity, who can quantify success made by their efforts".

The 2011 nomination application can be found online at:
www.diversitybusiness.com/NominationFormChampions.doc

Nominations are due: November 30, 2010

Winners will be honored at our Awards Ceremony: "11th Annual National Multicultural Business Conference" on April 20 – 22, 2011 at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in Washington, D.C.
About DiversityBusiness.com
Launched in 1999, DiversityBusiness, with over 50,000 members, is the largest organization of diversity owned businesses throughout the United States that provide goods and services to Fortune 1000 companies, government agencies, and colleges and universities. DiversityBusiness provides research and data collection services for diversity including the "Top 50 Organizations for Multicultural Business Opportunities", "Top 500 Diversity Owned Companies in America", and others. Its research has been recognized and published by Forbes Magazine, Business Week and thousands of other print and internet publications. The site has gained national recognition and has won numerous awards for its content and design. DiversityBusiness reaches more diverse suppliers and communicates more information to them on a more frequent basis then all other organizations combined. We also communicate with mainstream businesses, government agencies and educational institutions with information related to diversity. Our magazine reaches over 300,000 readers, a monthly e-newsletter that reaches 2.4 million, and website visitors of 1.2 million a month. It is a leading provider of Supplier Diversity management tools and has the most widely distributed Diversity magazine in the United States. DiversityBusiness.com is produced by Computer Consulting Associates International Inc. (
CCAii.com) of Southport, CT. Founded in 1980.
the nation
robert dreyfuss

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