Thursday, April 28, 2011

All of her guests were men




The president said he was prompted to act “two weeks ago, when the Republican House had put forward a budget that will have huge consequences potentially to the country, and when I gave a speech about my budget and how I felt that we needed to invest in education and infrastructure and making sure that we had a strong safety net for our seniors even as we were closing the deficit, during that entire week the dominant news story wasn’t about these huge, monumental choices that we’re going to have to make as a nation. It was about my birth certificate. And that was true on most of the news outlets that were represented here.”

But the president was wrong.

According to Pew’s Project for Excellence in Journalism, that week the dominant news story was without question the economy.


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


Thursday, April 28, 2011. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces another death, protests take place in Ramadi, Camp Ashraf finds some new supporters, and more.
AP reports the US military has announced another death -- this one "in southern Iraq in a non-combat related incident" -- which, no doubt, is currently under investigation. Meanwhile Mu Xuequan (Xinhua) reports that a suicide bomber in Diyala Province targeted a Shi'ite mosque and a police source counts 12 dead and forty more injured. Chin Zhi (Xinhua) reports that yesterday in Kirkuk, Sa'ad Abid Mutlak al-Jubouri, "son of Iraqi former deputy prime minister," was kidnapped. AFP reports "a senior Iraqi general" was shot dead in Baghdad today. Reuters adds a Hawija car bombing claimed the lives of 4 police officers, a Baghdad sticky bombing claimed 1 life, a Baghdad roadside bombing left four people injured, and, dropping back to yesterday for the last two, a Baghdad roadside bombing claimed 1 life and left three people injured and a second Baghdad roadside bombing injured four people. The Hawija car bombing took place near Kirkuk and Aswat al-Iraq notes twelve people were wounded in the blast.
Nizar Latif (UAE's National Newspaper) reports "Demonstrators in Iraq are being tortured and intimidated by the security services into shopping anti-government protests, political activists say. In recent weeks, those organising public rallies claim to have been targeted in a campaign of repression by security units, carrying out illegal arrests and abusive interrogations. Among the allegations made by civil-rights activists are that government forces have beaten, shocked with electrical devices and fabricated criminal evidence against protesters involved in peaceful street rallies."
Yesterday's snapshot noted former DNC chair Howard Dean declared Tuesday of Nouri al-Maliki, "The truth is the prime minister of Iraq is a mass murderer." " Dean was referring to the most recent assault on Camp Ashraf. Following the US invasion, the US made these MEK residents of Camp Ashraf -- Iranian refuees who had been in Iraq for decades -- surrender weapons and also put them under US protection. They also extracted a 'promise' from Nouri that he would not move against them. July 28, 2009 the world saw what Nouri's word was actually worth. Since that Nouri-ordered assault in which at least 11 residents died, he's continued to bully the residents. April 4th, Iran's Fars News Agency reported that the Iraqi military denied allegations that it entered the camp and assaulted residents. Specifically, Camp Ashraf residents state, "The forces of Iraq's Fifth Division invaded Camp Ashraf with columns of armored vehicles, occupying areas inside the camp, since midnight on Saturday." Friday April 8th saw another attack which the Iraqi government again denied. Thursday April 14th, the United Nations confirmed that 34 people were killed in the April 8th assault on Camp Ashraf. Barbara Grady (San Jose Mercury News) reported that the dead included journalist Asieh Rakhshani who has family in California. The British Parliamentary Committee for Iran Freedom released the following statement yesterday:
MPs and Peers on Wednesday accused Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki of committing a 'Gestapo-style massacre' at Camp Ashraf which led to the death of 35 Iranian dissidents and caused hundreds to be injured.
At a press conference, the British Parliamentary Committee for Iran Freedom disclosed new video footage of the 8 April attack, showing direct shooting at camp residents and the various military weaponry used.
Committee chair Lord Corbett of Castle Vale (Labour Peer), said: 'The attack on Camp Ashraf was an organized military massacre on the orders of Nuri al-Maliki who is publicly committed to erasing the camp from the face of the earth.'
Medical practitioner Hoda Hosseini pointed to photographic evidence of the injuries sustained by the wounded which clearly indicated that a targeted shoot-to-kill policy was used by Iraqi forces. 'Traces left in the bodies of those killed and the wounded, and a study of the wounds and x-rays show that the Iraqi forces used automatic Kalashnikov machine guns with live, tracer and armour-piercing bullets as well as firing sonic grenades directly at the heads and chests of the civilian population at Camp Ashraf.'
Former Home Secretary Lord Waddington demanded a UN investigation into the attack to bring the perpetrators of this crime to justice, while Lord Maginnis of Drumglass said: 'Prime Minister Cameron and President Barack Obama must use the appropriate language in describing this attack as a massacre.'
Mark Williams MP (Liberal Democrat) demanded that Iraqi forces immediately withdraw from Camp Ashraf and that the United Nations take over protection of the camp as part of their mandate.
Malcolm Fowler, a solicitor and member of the Law Society's human rights committee, said that the Law Society, which represented more than 130,000 solicitors, had issued a statement urging the UN to help protect the residents.
Pointing to video footage evidencing the continued menacing presence of Iraqi armed forces in and around Camp Ashraf, on behalf of the Committee Lord Corbett urged the UN to establish a permanent monitoring team at the camp and take over responsibility for protection of the residents to prevent a further such 'Gestapo-style massacre'.
Camp Ashraf, 60 kilometres northeast of Baghdad, is home to 3,400 members of the main Iranian opposition group, the People's Mojahedin Organisation of Iran (PMOI), who are 'protected persons' under the 4th Geneva Convention.

British Parliamentary Committee for Iran Freedom
27 April 2011
In addition, Jonathan Rayner (Law Gazette) notes the April 8th assault has been condemned by the UK Law Society's human rights committee whose chair Tony Fisher states, "We call on Iraqi security forces immediately to cease all violence against the residents of Camp Ashraf and immediately withdraw from the camp. Furthermore, the relevant UN bodies, lawyers and the press must be given immediate access to the residents." Until the end of last year, James L. Jones, retired US General, was the current US administration's National Security Advisor until last November. Paul Taylor (Reuters) reports he's declared "he knew of no evidence that the People's Mujahideen were involved in terrorism" and that they should be removed from the US terror list becase "we should be more in synch with the Europeans, who have already de-listed them." Jones also shared his thoughts April 14th at the Near East Human Rights Inititiative on this issue where others speaking out against the assault including retired Gen Wesley Clark, former US Senator Evan Bayh (disclosure, I know Evan), former US Senator Bill Bradley, for CIA director Porter Goss, Barack's former DNI Denni Blair, the last spokesperson for the Bush White House Dana Perino, retired Gen Richard Myers and former AG Michael Mukasey. We'll quote Wesley Clark, "When I look at what happened at Camp Ashraf over this past weekend I find it absolutely deplorable and inexplicable. We did make a promise they would be protected persons. That's the word of the United States of America. That's important, it's time. We talk about American credibility, there it is."
Also weighing in is Reza Pahlavi whose late father was the Shah of Iran (Reza Pahlavi and the rest of his family left Iran when the Shah was overthrown in 1979's Iranian Revolution). He was interviewed by Radio Koocheh (link is text) and the topic of Camp Ashraf was raised:

Radio Koocheh: At first I would like to know about your position about what happened within recent days, as you know, based on an agreement between Iran and Iraq, there is the chance of extradition of MKO members to Iran. You have been one of the first to condemn the attack on Camp Ashraf. According to the policy of the government of the United States since 2009 that handed the Camp Ashraf to the Iraqi government and their condition of undecided fate, What kind of problems do you think this extradition can bring to this Camp members and basically what kind of policy is followed?

Reza Pahlavi: At first, allow me to address my greetings to my compatriots inside and outside of Iran and to your audience and again thank you for the opportunity of this interview. I can not guess exactly the details of the policy of the Iraqi government associated with the members of MKO currently present in Iraq, or have any particular information about the conditions that you have already expressed. But in general, what I wanted to say is that from the perspective of human rights issues, today, to no one, especially to our compatriots, it is not complicated that these people have rights as humans.

Extradition of anyone who is publicly or indirectly in a struggle with this regime, will constitute a serious threat of torture, and a thousand kind of problems or even death. What unfortunately the Islamic Republic has always done to its own people all these years and still does. Therefore it is important that in this case, that all the governments concerned be aware of the terrible and serious consequences of such act. I think this will have a very negative effect not only on public opinion in the world but also especially on our compatriots opinion.

Where the freedom fighters, today, in all the countries of the region are busy fighting for their rights, expect support and above all protection. We see this today in Libya. If these things are not respected, it definitely indicates the lack of implementation of a clear policy and even worse, a kind of political hypocrisy. Especially this fact that goes back to human rights and protection of the natural rights of individuals regardless of their political views and thoughts.

Moving to the topic of protests. Yesterday's snapshot included the following: "You pretend to know, Tim Arango, how the protests started in Iraq -- well they re-started. They were enough last year to force the Minister of the Electricy out. But you weren't covering Iraq then and are apparently unfamiliar with that aspect of the protests. " That was incorrect.
I was wrong. My apologies. Tim Arango writes to inform that he was present in Iraq when the Minister of Electricity resigned following protests last year. I stand corrected. I was wrong. Arango was present for that.
A community member found this claim by Tim Arango: "Prior to the Sadrist protest against the Americans, that issue was not a defining aspect of the protests." That was during his exchange with Dan Hind at Hind's The Return of the Public. No, that is not correct. We noted that this morning and that if he had a comment on it before the snapshot went up, it would be included. He replied to Jim's e-mail, "I don't think i have a further comment other than to say that the protests that began in february here have been about a variety of issues: services, corruption, jobs, civil liberties, Bahrain, detainees (especially in Sunni areas) -- at some of them you can hear anti-american slogans, and there have been some smaller gatherings that speak about the american military, but the overall message is that they want to perfect and improve their fledgling democracy. Of course, the Sadrists held their big protest on April 9 against the troops, and demanding that they leave on time." (Jim and everyone who works the e-mails can write back or not, that's their decision. I can't engage in private conversations via e-mail with writers covered here -- critiqued here -- because that creates a layer of conflict of interest and we can take that up tonight in "I Hate The War.)
Again, that's not correct. The protests in Iraq can be seen a series of unconnected brush fires starting at the end of January. By Februray 3rd, connective tissue is beginning to form with all people-led demonstrations.
People-led? These are demonstrations by and for the people. There are no marching orders (though Nouri will claim they are being led from outside of Iraq, and he will claim they're backed by 'terrorists' and by 'al Qaeda'). People-led, people-driven. These are very different from the Moqtada al-Sadr let-me-order-my-merry-band-of-followers. February 25th is the first day of protest where you see real connections between the movements in Baghdad and the ones in Ninevah Province or elsewhere. In addition to previous snapshots, I went over this with 2 protesters in Baghdad this morning on i.m., on the phone with a community member in Mosul and via e-mail with a protester in Falluja. February 25th was dubbed "The Day Of Rage." Protests prior to the 25th were not 'national.' Meaning there might be one in Hawija and one in Baghdad and the two weren't coordinated for a specific day. The occupation and corruption were key issues in the protests, however, even when unrelated. The Baghdad protesters were surprised that there would be a claim that they occupation was not an issue since banners were present calling for US troops to be out of Iraq. And, in fact, the whole point of attempting to storm the US-created and occupied Green Zone had to do with reclaiming that section of Iraq for Iraq. Opposition to the US occupation has always been a part of the national protests.
What's going on is Tim Arango isn't present for protests outside of Baghdad (a comment Iraqi community members make loudly in the community newsletters and one that's already up here in a Saturday entry from weeks ago) and probably the paper was not present for most in Baghdad. That's certainly explains why Stephanie McCrummen and the Washington Post were owning the story of what happened on The Day of Rage (such as here) and the New York Times missed it. The New York Times embarrassed itself as journalistic organizations -- international ones -- and human rights organizations called out what happened on Feb. 25th but the Times?
Their deference to Nouri al-Maliki is rather sad when you consider that the paper had a few outstanding reporters in Iraq (including Damien Cave) and now they're just lackeys. If Tim doesn't like that judgment call on my part, try explaining why Nouri's trashing of protesters and telling people not to participate in the Day of Rage receives more prominence than the Day of Rage actions? In the article about the Day of Rage -- or allgedly about it -- Jack Healy and Michael S. Schmidt don't open with the attack on journalists or attacks on protesters. They do one setnence and then want to rush to "high-ranking Iraqi officials." And then it's time for paragraphs on Nouri and it's paragraph seven before we actually meet a protester -- in a story about the Day of Rage. Paragraph seven of a 16 paragraph story. And for some reason, we still have to meet the US military in the story. Don't think that the last nine paragraphs are about the protesters or -- and this goes to Dan Hind's issue -- explaing what brought to protesters out in the streets. Now let's contrast that with Stephanie McCrummen's article for the Post -- which is award-worthy. Here's the opening:
Iraqi security forces detained hundreds of people, including prominent journalists, artists and intellectuals, witnesses said Saturday, a day after nationwide demonstrations brought tens of thousands of Iraqis into the streets and ended with soldiers shooting into crowds.
Four journalists who had been released described being rounded up well after they had left a protest at Baghdad's Tahrir Square. They said they were handcuffed, blindfolded, beaten and threatened with execution by soldiers from an army intelligence unit.
"It was like they were dealing with a bunch of al-Qaeda operatives, not a group of journalists," said Hussam al-Ssairi, a journalist and poet, who was among a group and described seeing hundreds of protesters in black hoods at the detention facility. "Yesterday was like a test, like a picture of the new democracy in Iraq."
Protesters mostly stayed home Saturday, following more than a dozen demonstrations across the country Friday that killed at least 29 people, as crowds stormed provincial buildings, forced local officials to resign, freed prisoners and otherwise demanded more from a government they only recently had a chance to elect.
And that's just the opening. And, as we've noted before, the New York Times editorial board has commented on these events . . . even though the paper's reporters never filed on it. Woops. This is what has so many people outraged about the bad coverage. In fairness to the reporters for the Times, the paper wasn't interested at all in Iraq. They were Cairo-obsessed and flooding the zone on that -- pushing Iraq right out of the paper during this very key time (one that you better believe will be in the history books) -- and then they did a brief withdrawal on Cairo before setting off to Libya. Somewhere in all of that, they tried to flood the zone on the Japan tsunami but only demonstrated that they do their best tsunami work when most of the staff is on vacation (see January 2005).
Show me where the Times took serious what the Post did? Again, from Stephanie's article:
Ssairi and his three colleagues, one of whom had been on the radio speaking in support of protesters, said about a dozen soldiers stormed into a restaurant where they were eating dinner Friday afternoon and began beating them as other diners looked on in silence. They drove them to a side street and beat them again.
Then, blindfolded, they were driven to the former Ministry of Defense building, which houses an intelligence unit of the Iraqi army's 11th Division, they said. Hadi al-Mahdi, a theater director and radio anchor who has been calling for reform, said he was blindfolded and beaten repeatedly with sticks, boots and fists. One soldier put a stick into Hadi's handcuffed hands and threatened to rape him with it, he said.
Where's the paper's coverage of that?
The Times has never known what was going on -- at least not judging by what's made it into the paper. (And it's falling back into its habit of rendering Iraqi women invisible.) Tim Arango overestimates the influence of Moqtada al-Sadr in my opinion (see April 19th snapshot and, as I noted then, that's in contrast with the State Dept so I will applaud Arango for refusing to go along with the State Dept's official line -- though I do think the State Dept is right in this case). He basically elevates Moqtada to officialdom and there is no higher status for the New York Times. So unless it's a small protest ordered by Moqtada (the April 8th one), the paper's really not interested. They'll serve up a ton of quotes from all the people who weren't at the protest and try to pretend that such an article actually covered the protests. Or they'll go ga-ga for Ahmed Chalabi all over again and treat his attempts at deflecting attention from protests against the Iraqi government as genuine protests.
Real protests are led by the people. They don't have to be ordered to show up. The Iraqi people have shown up for their events. And those events aren't connected to Moqtada or Chalabi so the paper's not interested. Real violence took place on February 25th but, to read the New York Times, it was the protesters who were violent -- they knocked over two of the barricade walls to the Green Zone!!!! The kidnapping and torturing of journalists and protesters never happened to read the New York Times' report. It's amazing that the paper not only took sides but took sides against the people. The paper's done a lousy job covering the protests. Dan Hind's criticism actually was on the mark. You do not learn about the protesters from the paper of record. Instead you learn what Nouri thinks or what some lying flack for the US military thanks -- and the spokesperson quoted about what a great job the Iraqi military was doing was a lying flack.
More importantly that's the end of Feburary. Where's the paper's coverage of the ongoing assault in Mosul? Where is that? Does Moqtada need to call a protest in Mosul for it to get attention from the New York Times?
These questions go beyond Tim Arango who is a reporter and not an editor for the paper. He's pitching ideas and many who covered Iraq for the paper can share their difficulties -- and many have shared them in e-mails to this site -- in convincing someone with the paper in the US that ____ is a story in Iraq and needs to be covered.

But a question he should be asking himself is: Where is the humanity? It took Sabrina Tavernise to bring the humanity onto the pages of the New York Times (Dexy and Burnsie appeared to see the whole thing as a video game). Others who followed her managed to keep that alive. It's gone now. And it's hard not to be reminded that this is the paper that reported on the murder (not the gang-rape) of Abeer in near real time but couldn't name her. This is the paper that when the truth came out that 14-year-old Abeer was gang-raped and murdered, that she was gang-raped as her five-year-old sister and her parents were killed in the next room, still couldn't name her. This is the paper that 'reported' on an Article 32 hearing on the crimes and the conspiracy (the murders and gang-rape were carried out by US soliders) and still couldn't name her. By contrast, Ellen Knickmeyer at the Post was reporting on Abeer from the minute the news came out that US soldiers might have been responsible for the crimes (and they were, and they either entered a plea of guilty or were convicted) and she had no problem providing a name.
Sabrina Tavernise provided Iraqi people with the dignity they deserve and gave them life on the pages of the New York Times. It's really sad that this accomplishment which Cara Buckley, Alissa J. Rubin, Damien Cave and so many others kept alive is now disappearing. That may be due to the fact that articles that do make the paper (as opposed to the ones that only show up on the paper's blog) have to be shorter and shorter and shorter. (It's always surprising when a paper comes to the conclusion that they're selling to non-readers.) But it's happening.
Happening tomorrow, according to Iraqi Revolution's al-Obeidi, "the sons of Mosul preparing for a major demonstration tomorrow". They note a sit-in took place at the Anbar University (link goes to video reports from Al Jazeera).
To the President of Iraqi Parliament
Greeting
we condemns in our name and the name of all the civil society activists and Iraqi bloggers and on behalf of every Iraqi citizen who tries to exercise his the rights within Iraqi constitution, which went out to vote for under the threats of terrorism, we raise your condemnation of the ongoing attacks against demonstrators in tahreer Square and the failure of troops to secure their safety , but on the contrary troops supported
the infiltrators who tries to sabotage the demonstrations
Today one of the founding member of our site and civil society activists and free Iraqi citizen suffered brutal attack and was severely beaten in front of the eyes of army troops without your security forces try to move , is this our new and this democracy that we fight for it?
We invite you to stand and condemn and questions the security forces and to demands from the Government to implement the demands of demonstrators into a realistic, real way and to stop putting obstacles in front of them and trying to sabotage their free demonstrations , they are exercising their right to expression, and we remind you that their voices are the tools that got you
today to power ,
and it will remove of any institution Governor that can not fulfill
its duty to serve the nation,
democracy requires a national army and a Governor to serve the citizen wither they support or opposite their views ,
it is your responsibility either you fulfill it or leave it to those who can
protecting
media and the protesters and activists are part of the duty of any democratic institution plays its role effectively and freely is the responsibility and obligation your job to follow who performs them and guarantee to secure for all
For Iraq and for freedom and the Constitution
Condemn and call
Iraqi streets web site
collation of activists and bloggers from Iraq
Iraqis go up against outrageous odds and circumstances to protest and make their voices heard. Front Line notes:
Front Line expresses concern regarding the attack against Iraqi human rights defender and blogger Mr Hayder Hamzoz on 22 April as he was taking part in a regular Friday protest in Sahat Al -Tahrir, a public square in Baghdad. Hayder Hamzoz attends the protests at Al-Tahrir square every Friday and uses his mobile phone to record the events to put up on Twitter and Facebook.
On 22 April he was approached by young men who asked him about his Qalaxy mobile phone (a type of mobile that facilitates connection to social media networks) and then took the phone away. It is reported that he managed to take back his phone, but the group was then joined by more than 9 people at which point Hayder Hamzoz ran to escape the assault. The men reportedly grabbed him and beat him up using their hands and feet, causing him to bleed and almost faint. His phone was confiscated.
The security forces who were around at the time reportedly stopped protesters and friends of Hayder Hamzoz from rendering assistance to him. The attackers then made away with the phone under the watchful eye of the security forces who did not interfere. Following the attack, Hayder Hamzoz, along with human rights defender Hanaa Adwar, went to the army officer who was in charge of the surrounding area but he refused to listen to their story. Later that night the attackers called him on another number and told him not to record or post anything anymore.
Hayder Hamzoz was the only protester to be attacked by the assailants, a matter which casts doubt as to their real motives. It is suspected that the assailants are security men in plainclothes who apparently attacked him as a reprisal against his peaceful cyberactivism.
Hayder Hamzoz, aged in his early twenties, is a prominent blogger and documentalist who runs a popular blog titled Iraqi Streets 4 Change. He also organises the coverage of peaceful Iraqi protests over the internet and has set up along with others a short messaging service which does not require subscription to the internet. Along with his colleagues, he also utilises social media networks to mobilise and document peaceful mass protests to encourage the Iraqi government to expedite democratic reforms. It is believed that the attack on Hayder Hamzoz is related to his peaceful and legitimate work as a blogger.
And to the thug who encourages thuggery in Iraq, New Sabaah reports on Nouri's plan to turn failure into a take over. As noted yesterday, Nouri is claiming the right to call for new elections at the end of the 100 days to fix corruption. New Sabaah notes today that Nouri's talk of a majority government does not include Ayad Allawi, head of Iraqiya. Iraqiya, of course, won the most seats in Parliament in the March 2010 elections. Nouri is eager to cut out his opponents and that's why he's threatening the new elections. He hopes this could also get rid of the Speaker of Parliament (Osama al-Nujaifi). New elections called by Nouri do not include the possibility of his stepping down but, hey, the March 2010 elections didn't either, now did they? The Parliament can call a vote of no confidence at any time. They can remove Nouri and they may need to review the process for how that's done before the 100 days expire.
Meanwhile Aswat al-Iraq reports, "A leader in north Iraq's Kurdistan Alliance has demanded that a portion of the U.S. forces remain in the areas of dispute of eastern Iraq's Diala Province, due to what he described as non-readiness of the Iraqi forces to take over the security dossier in the province." They add, "The UN Secretary-General's Representative in Iraq, Ad Melkert, has said during a visit to north Iraq's city of Kirkuk on Wednesday that the United Nations does'nt intend to send "peace-keeping forces" to the conflict areas in the country, after the withdrawal of the U.S. troops by the end of the current year." David Ali (Al Mada) also notes the UN announcement and that Ban Ki-moon's special envoy to Iraq, Ad Melkert, insists there is a move towards holding elections in Kirkuk. Those elections, per the Constitution's Article 140, were supposed to have taken place by 2007. It's four years later and the UN pins their hopes on a 'move' towards elections? How very, very sad. New Sabaah explains that Melkert met Governor Najm al-Din Karim, Deputy Governor Rakan Saeed al-Joubouri and the provincial council's chair Hassan Turan.
Amira al Hussaini (Global Voices) reports on a rumor spreading throughout Iraq, "Saddam Hussein is making the rounds on social media, with a new recording claiming that the Iraqi dictator is alive and well and that his double Mikhail was the one executed on December 30, 2006. Many netizens are quick to describe the video as phoney and assure readers that Saddam is dead and gone. Had he been alive, the former Iraqi dictator would have turned 74 today." Al Rafidayn quotes Hassan Al-Alawi who received a phone call from someone claiming to be Hussein, "I was sure that the person who phoned me and said he was Saddam is not Saddam because Saddam died."

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