Saturday, February 26, 2011

An infestation

With the move coming up (to a house), I spent most of the morning packing up things in the kitchen. We'd already worked on boxing up other items throughout the week but the kitchen is such a constantly used room, we'd hesitated.

I've left out a skillet, a pizza pan (which I use for pizza but also for cookies, bisquits, you name it -- I prefer it to a square baking sheet), two sauce pans and one stock pot. I figure that should cover the basics and we'll probably end up doing Subway and stuff like that anyway just to avoid big messes. I left four glasses, four plates and four coffee mugs unpacked. I packed all the silverware and we can just use plastic ware between now and March 2nd.

I'm mainly amazed at how much crap we've picked up along the way. For example, magazines. Cedric read The Nation prior to 2008 (when their lack of ethics was too great to ignore). I read the late, great Clamor until it ceased publication. I have all my issues and plan to keep them. So I was willing to pack up The Nation for Cedric but his attitude was "throw that rag out." He had assorted issues of The Progressive and felt the same way about it. It's really a shame that not one magazine maintained its integrity. But we should remember that when a Republican's in the White House next and these liars want to call out Republicans as hypocrites.

I wasn't surprised that The Nation would sink as low as it has. That's part of why I'm a Green. Democrats talk about 'we need this' and 'we need that' while they're out of power but the second they have power, they don't want to do a damn thing except offer excuses. And instead of holding them accountable, the supposed left press goes along with it.

I also tossed all my Ms. magazines. I let my subcription lapse due to the crap they were pulling. I had issues going back to 1997 until 2008 (when they too exhibited no ethics) and I tossed them all. What a bunch of liars. A real Ms. magazine would have been covering Hillary Clinton's run, Cynthia McKinney's run and Sarah Palin's run in 2008. Instead, that supposed 'feminist' magazine worked overtime to clear the field for Barack. No woman was good enough for Ms.

And Donna Brazile is just Satan.

I never want to see her ugly face again in my life.

Throwing that garbage out, I was reminded yet again of the fact that when the rubber hit the road, they didn't believe in anything except supporting and advertising a man running for the Democratic presidential nomination.

I didn't get the latest issue with Nancy Pelosi's badly damaged face on the cover (and she looks awful, even with Ms. doing some heavy photo shopping) but that's just one more example of how disgusting Ms. has become. Nancy Pelosi became Speaker of the House in January 2007. Her party was put in charge to end the Iraq War and she swore that was going to happen. (Unlike impeachment, which she took off the table.) It's 2011, she's no longer Speaker and the Iraq War continues. So excuse me if I won't whore for Nancy and pretend she was a great speaker. She didn't even do the one thing she promised.

And she could have. She could have cut off funding at any point and forced the end of the war. She could have held hearings on the SOFA to overturn it -- thereby forcing US troops to leave Iraq immediately.

But she did nothing. Except for stabbing women in the back.

House cleaning should be freeing but looking at all those 'political' magazines just reminded me how many liars and whores infest America.


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

Friday, February 25, 2011. Chaos and violence continue, Iraqis take to the streets with their demands, protesters are shot at and attacked, one governor resigns another is pressured to, the US stands on the sidelines, and much more.
For weeks, protests were planned for today in Iraq. This was done publicly, not hidden away. Along with using Facebook, organizers and planned participants gave interviews to the press. Clerics publicly supported the protests at the start of the month. Nouri al-Maliki then began making weak, generic statements of support which seemed to be empty lip service forced by the actions of the clerics. Last Sunday, Grand Ayatollah al-Sistani issued a statement of support for the protesters. Wednesday, things suddenly changed as Moqtada al-Sadr leaves Iran and shows back up in Iraq. He's had no interest in Iraq since his brief layover in January but suddenly he's back and insisting that the protests must stop. al-Sistani also says the protests need to stop. Nouri al-Maliki makes clear that he was just mouthing empty words as he now declares that the protests must stop and starts resorting to fear mongering by again trotting out his claims that Ba'athists, from outside the country, are behind the protests and that the protests will tear Iraq apart.
It wasn't just words. Alsumaria TV reports that attempts to stop the protests included curfews that immediatley went into effect in Samarra, Nineveh and Sulaimaniah. Al Mada quotes Nouri's desparate plea last night where he labeled the protests subversive and insisted that intellecturals, writers and civil society organizations, workers and peasants, doctors, institutions and scientists, teachers, engineers and everyone must not participate in the demonstration Friday, they must drop their objectives because the terrorists are using this event to advance their own interests. He continued that there was a "legitimate need" for basic services and reforms but this was trumped by "compelling evidence" that terrorists were behind the demonstrations in order to return Iraq to its "former Ba'ath era of black days and mass graves and chemical weapons and lack of freedoms."
No where in his speech claiming to understand the protesters did Nouri mention or acknowledge that Iraq's had one prime minister since 2006: himself. And that under his leadership for years now, basic services haven't been provided. He's lied. In 2009, trying to get votes for his candidates in provincial elections, he claimed basic services were just around the corner. He'd show up in towns with a large 'block' of ice to provide them fresh (temporary) drinking water and swear that their own safe water would flow shortly but he got the votes he wanted and discarded his promise. He did that over and over. The demands the Iraqis are making are not new demands that just surfaced in the last 48 hours. Justin Raimondo (Antiwar.com) points out:
So this is why we killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, sacrificed thousands
of our own, and spent $3 trillion on "liberating" Iraq – so we could install this Gadhafi clone in office. Of course, Maliki hasn't unleashed his hired thugs
(hired by you) on the protesting populace quite yet – "only" three or four protesters have been killed, so far, in Iraq. Yet it isn't hard to imagine a
Libya-like scenario playing out in "liberated" Iraq: the country is a powder
keg waiting to go off.
Occupied Iraq where the war continues and gears up for its eight year mark next month. Occupied Iraq where billions in oil revenues flow into the government each year, where the population isn't even half a million, is barely over a quarter million, and yet the last eight years have seen an increase in poverty, an increase in an unemployment, destruction of infrastructure and basic services and much, much more. The government can't even provide safe drinking water. Iraqis had it before the start of the war. Now many are required to boil water before drinking it. Or there are those little purification tablets the UN passes out in order to mitigate the annual fall cholera outbreaks. The rivers are polluted -- which makes them unsafe for drinking as well -- as are the streets and basic sanitation is a problem. Basic electricity even more so as generators have had to become household items as common as stoves. The disabled, the widows and the orphans are largely left to fend for themselves with little help other than that provided by NGOs.
In this environment Moqtada al-Sadr waded in -- presumably doing the bidding of the government of Iran, the country he's made his home for how many years now? -- and declared that protests must cease immediately and that, instead, he'd hold another one of his wonderful (inept) referendums. The New York Times hailed Moqtada (wrongly) as second in influence in Iraq only to Nouri. What was going to happen?
Al Rafidayn reports Baghdad saw thousands congregate at Tahrir Square with the army and the police surrounding the area. Activist Lina Ali, who stood holding flowers while protesting in Tahrir Square, explains that electricity and potable water are not available. Al Mada adds comments from various people -- including some Iraqis -- about how the internet has changed things and offers, as one example, that Saudis twenty years ago didn't learn that Iraq had invaded Kuwait until three days after due to a media blackout; however, now the information travels. Ahmad Ezzeddine, Microsoft's director in Iraq, is quoted (from an interview with Alsumaria TV) stating that at one point Iraq's internet was a series of network connected to Dubai, England or Germany but today it is far greater and it's not as simple to block or censor. Iraq also now has over 45 satellite channels.

Ben Lando (Wall St. Journal) notes military helicopters flew over Baghdad -- he doesn't note whose military: "As well as criticizing the demonstrators, the government has strictly limited freedom of movement across the capital in an attempt to curb Friday's protests. There has been an increase in military helicopter traffic and heightened security at checkpoints in the capital on Friday. In Baghdad's commercial district of Karrada, police and army officials are stopping and questioning pedestrians." Stephanie McCrummen (Washington Post) explains Baghdad "was virtually locked down" last night with a curfew imposed: "Near midnight Thursday, a red banner flashed across state television broadcasts announcing the curfew, a draconian measure more often deployed to deal with insurgent attacks." BBC News reports, "Soldiers blocked every road leading into Baghdad to try to stop protesters from carrying out their planned day of rage, says the BBC's Jonathan Head in the Iraqi capital. No vehicles were allowed into the city centre and thousands of riot police took up position in and around Baghdad Tahrir Square." Realizing at the last minute that the protesters weren't going to just drop the demonstration, Al Mada reports, the Baghdad Security Committee issued a desperate order that the protesters would not be allowed to carry "anti-government" banners. Despite this, Jane Arraf reported for Aljazeera that protesteros chanted "No to unemployment" and "No to the liar al-Maliki."
Alice Fordham and Raheem Salman (Los Angeles Times) report, "In Baghdad, witnesses said security forces fired live ammunition and used water cannons and tear gas to disperse the crowd. Many people were beaten and chased through the streets. No deaths were reported in the Iraqi capital." AFP adds, "A journalist said security forces had used a water cannon and tear gas in a bid to disperse the crowd. An interior ministry official said 15 people were wounded." Jane Arraf (Christian Science Monitor) observes, "Despite government attempts to portray the demonstration as politically motivated, many of the young men who raged against Mr. Maliki had much more basic reasons, complaining of a lack of jobs and public services and of the perception that in a country listed as among the world's most corrupt, officials are stealing the wealth." She quotes protester Oday Kareem stating, "I'm a laborer. I work one day and stay at home for a month. [. . .] He [Nouri al-Maliki] said people will do beter than they did under Saddam Hussein -- where is it?" For All Things Considered (NPR), Kelly McEvers filed a report which included:
But many of the protesters here calling Maliki a liar were young, unemployed men. They called for jobs, better electricity an end to corruption. They
repeated a word they'd heard in other protests around the region: peaceful, peaceful. But then one group toppled concrete blast walls blocking a bridge
to the fortifide Green Zone where Iraqi officials live and work. Riot police responded, protesters began throwing rocks. Okay, we're just beyond the
outskirts of what's going on but it's turned very violent, The sound you hear is people banging on corrugated steel as they are throwing rocks and clashing
with riot polie.
According to eyewitnesses, at least three protesters were shot dead by police during the standoff. Despite television footage to the contrary, the Baghdad Operation Command and Baghdad Police Department have denied that any protestors were killed or injured.
Multiple issues had helped bring out the protesters. Among the banners on display at Baghdad's Tahrir Square were, "Maliki has become just like Saddam," "We want the government to get rid of corruption and punish the corrupt," and "What happened to all the billions in oil revenue?" Many consider the lack of electricity, clean water and sanitation an insult for a nation known to have some of the world's largest proven petroleum reserves. As unemployed Baghdad resident Mohammed Khuadier al-Hamadani, 49, says, "There is no power, water , basic services, good infrastructure, food rations or jobs in a wealthy oil country like Iraq. This is unjust. They must stop this oppression. I want my share from oil just like the Gulf States. You know the Emir of Kuwait gave his citizens [profits and food rations]. Why can't we be just like them and have a prosperous life?"
Aswat Al Iraq counts nine people injured in Baghdad -- seven police officers and two civilians. Protests took place not just in Baghdad but across the country, some were more sedate, some saw more violence. BBC News has a photo essay of various protests. Aswat Al-Iraq reports a number of disabled and/or challenged persons demonstrated in Thi Qar carrying signs (which hopefully they made and/or approved) declaring to the government, "God made us dumb and deaf but why are you like us?" Kadhim Ajrash and Caroline Alexander (Bloomberg News) report one Shi'ite cleric publicly bucked the call of Nouri and Moqtada, that Sheikh Ahmed al-Safi joined thousands in Karbala's Imam Hussein Square today declaring, "Demonstrations on the streets of Iraq are taking place because people are collectively saying that they wants to be heard. The constitution guarantees the right of protests and it is the right of any person to protest peacefully." The reporters note that al-Safi's roles include serving as spokesperson for al-Sistania. In Kut (Wassit Province), activist Fadel Aanied described his fellow protesters, "The gathering, most of them are young men, raised banners accusing officials of stealing oil revenues and criticizing bad services in the province. They also chanted slogans against Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and against Lawmaker Hayder al-Abadi, who described them as rioters." Mustafa Abdul Wahid (Iraqhurr.org) reports from Karbala that protesters made their way through the city carrying a coffin to symbolize the electricity problem that continues to plague the country. They also had banners condemning the Ba'ath Party.
Aswat Al Iraq reports that security forces shot 16 protesters in Falluja who were 'storming' the local government compound. Fang Yang (Xinhua) reports over 1,000 demonstrated in Tikrit and they "stoned the government building and clashed with the guards demanding resgination of the provincial governor [Salahudin Province] and the provincial council members, who are blamed by the protestors of being behind the deterioration of public services and corruption. Also in the province, angry protesters attacked the city council of Sulaiman-Pek and set fire to the building after clashes with the security forces. Seven people were injured, a local security source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity." At NPR's The Two-Way, Bill Chappell notes this from Kelly McEvers, "The most violent protests were in the northern city of Mosul where demonstrators tried to burn the regional government headquarters demanding jobs and better services. Guards opened fire." The Guardian offers, "Anger over corruption and abysmal basic services erupted in a 'Day of Rage', with the most serious clashes in Mosul and Hawija, in the north, and Basra in the south. At least six people were killed – three in Mosul and three in Hawija – and 75 injured in clashes with security services as protesters tried to attack government buildings." Mosul is in Ninewah Province. Aswat Al Iraq reports that there were 5 deaths in Mosul with fifteen people injured and quote an unnamed security source stating, "The injuries were the result of shooting, shrapnel and stun bombs." Aswat Al Iraq adds that the Ninewa Provincial headquarters were set on fire. Al Rafidayn is reporting that Nouri al-Maliki has called on Speaker of Parliament Osama Nujafi to persuade his brother, Ethel Nujafi, to resign as governor of Ninewah and, citing an unnamed source, says Nouri fears the anger is building in Ninewah but that Nujafi is standing by his relative and has accused Nouri of being behind the protesters who stormed the government buildings and set them on fire..
Ramadi was the site of demonstrations as well. Iraqhurr.org notes that Radio Free Iraq's Ahmed al-Hiti (Iraqhurr.org is the website for RFI) reported that the Anbar Province city saw calls for improved basic services today and that protesters were not scared off by yesterday's suicide bombing in the town. They were, however, fired at by security forces.
The protest in Kirkuk is said to have wounded 23 police officers. Aswat al-Iraq reports 39 police officers were wounded in the Basra protest, Al Rafidayn reports Basra protesters were calling for the resignation of the governor as part of their demands. Aswat Al Iraq notes that al-Iraqiya satellite TV is now reporting that, according to MP Ismail Ghazi, Shaltagh Abboud (Governor of Basra) will resign in two days. Aljazeera reports, "While in the south, a crowd of about 4,000 people demonstrated in front of the office of Governor Sheltagh Aboud al-Mayahi in the port city of Basra, Iraq's second-largest city, located 550km southeast of Baghdad. They knocked over one of the concrete barriers and demanded his resignation, saying he had done nothing to improve city services. They appeared to get their wish when Major General Mohammad Jawad Hawaidi, the commander of Basra military operations, told the crowd that the governor had resigned in response to the demonstrations." Alsumaria TV reports that Sheltag Abboud has held a press conference announcing his resignation as governor.
The numbers are still being counted and may rise but currently Stephanie McCrummen (Washington Post) reports 23 protesters were killed across Iraq today. Human Rights Watch issued the following today:
The Iraqi authorities should order an immediate independent inquiry into each of eight killings and any unlawful use of force by security forces during demonstrations on February 25, 2011, Human Rights Watch said today. Dozens more were injured in crackdowns on demonstrations in several Iraqi towns and cities. Human Rights Watch observed security forces beating unarmed journalists and protesters in Baghdad, and counted at least 18 injured.
Any unlawful use of force, especially force resulting in deaths, should lead to the prosecution of those responsible, including those who gave the orders or who were otherwise responsible, Human Rights Watch said. The Iraqi authorities also should lift all unnecessary restrictions on peaceful assembly and protest.
"The Iraqi authorities need to rein in their security forces and account for every single killing," said Tom Porteous, deputy program director for Human Rights Watch. "The security forces need to use the maximum possible restraint in dealing with protesters."
In Mosul, security forces opened fire, reportedly killing at least two people and wounding 20, after demonstrators tried to force their way into a provincial council building. In the town of Hawijah, security forces shot stone-throwing protesters, killing at least three and wounding more than 12, according to news reports and a local journalist interviewed by Human Rights Watch. In Ramadi, security forces fired on about 250 demonstrators, killing one person and wounding eight. And in Tirkit, police fired on demonstrators trying to raid a government building, killing two and wounding nine.
In Baghdad, security forces severely limited demonstrations after imposing strict restrictions on vehicle travel, starting in the early morning. The ban by Baghdad Operations Command forced protesters to walk to the center of the capital for the demonstration and prevented television satellite trucks from covering the protests live. Scores of demonstrations have taken place across the country since early February, mainly focused on the chronic lack of basic services and perceived widespread corruption. Since February 16 security forces have killed more than a dozen protesters and injured more than 150 at demonstrations throughout Iraq.
Earlier this week, Iraqi police allowed dozens of assailants to beat and stab peaceful protesters in Baghdad. In the early hours of February 21, dozens of men, some wielding knives and clubs, attacked about 50 protesters who had set up two tents in Baghdad's Tahrir Square. The assailants stabbed and beat at least 20 of the protesters who were intending to camp in the square until February 25, when groups had called for national protests similar to the "Day of Anger" in Egypt. The February 21 attack came directly after the police had withdrawn from the square, and witnesses suggested the assailants were in discussion with the police before they attacked.
On June 25, 2010, in response to thousands of Iraqis who took to the streets to protest a chronic lack of government services, the interior ministry issued regulations with onerous provisions that effectively impeded Iraqis from organizing lawful protests. The regulations required organizers to get "written approval of both the minister of interior and the provincial governor" before submitting an application to the relevant police department, not less than 72 hours before a planned event. These regulations are still in effect.
Iraq's constitution guarantees "freedom of assembly and peaceful demonstration."As a state party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Iraq is obligated to protect the rights to life and security of the person, and the rights to freedom of expression, association, and peaceful assembly. Iraq should also abide by the United Nations Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms, which state that lethal force may only be used when strictly unavoidable to protect life, and must be exercised with restraint and proportionality. The principles also require governments to "ensure that arbitrary or abusive use of force and firearms by law enforcement officials is punished as a criminal offense under their law."
Human rights law on the right to life, including article 6 of the ICCPR, requires an effective and transparent investigation when deaths may have been caused by state officials, leading to the identification and prosecution of the perpetrators of any crimes that took place.
On its main page, Kitabat features an essay noting today was the statement of the Iraqi people, that they wrote it in blood as they took to the streets to decry the betrayal of freedom, this was the statement of the people as they risked arrest and brutality frm the regime of tryants who resort to attacks on journalists, secret arrests of activists and attempts to crackdown on the people in order to circumvent the demonstrations. The mood of the people, the essay continues, was peaceful but the security was in a panic at the unarmed people in the streets, the government was on a "holy war" too silence the voice of the people. Today, the essay concludes, was the last warning to the Parliament, the political elites and the government that the people will not be silenced by repressive forces and that peace and demonstrations will continue to grow in Iraq.
Iraqis stood up today. They have stood up many times before. In the not-so-distant past, they were asked to stand up during the first Gulf War of the early 90s, when George H.W. Bush was president. Lance Selfa (ISR) reminds what took place:
On February 15 -- a month into the air war -- Saddam's government announced it would accept UN resolutions calling for its withdrawal from Kuwait. The U.S. and its lackey, Britain, dismissed Saddam's surrender. Instead, Bush called for Iraqis to rise up and overthrow Saddam: "[T]here's another way for the bloodshed to stop, and that is for the Iraqi military and the Iraqi people to take matters into their own hands, to force Saddam to step aside." Bush's statement communicated two points: first, that the U.S. wouldn't settle only for Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait, and second, that the U.S. might back anyone who rose up against Saddam. The first point proved that expelling Iraq from Kuwait was a mere pretext for wider U.S. designs in the war. The second point proved a lie only weeks later, when masses of Kurds and Shiites took "matters into their own hands" and rose up against Saddam.
Saddam had essentially cried "uncle," but the U.S. wanted to mount a ground offensive anyway. In six days, U.S. and coalition ground troops swept across Kuwait and southern Iraq, forcing Iraqi troops into a full-scale retreat. In the last 40 hours of the war, before Bush called a cease-fire on February 28, U.S. and British forces mounted a relentless assault against retreating and defenseless Iraqi soldiers. The road leading from Kuwait to Basra became known as the "Highway of Death." Iraqi soldiers fled Kuwait in every possible vehicle they could get their hands on. Allied tank units cut the Iraqis off. U.S. warplanes bombed, strafed and firebombed the stranded columns for hours without resistance. In a slaughter which a U.S. pilot described as "like shooting fish in a barrel," thousands of Iraqi conscripts were killed on a 50-mile stretch of highway. So many planes filled the skies over southern Iraq that military air traffic controllers maneuvered to prevent mid-air collisions.
The "Highway of Death," and, in fact, the ground war itself, served no military purpose. Saddam had admitted defeat before the ground war began. Attacks on retreating Iraqis merely delayed the war's end. But the U.S. mounted this barbarism for one reason only: to render an example of what would happen to any government which bucked the U.S. For nearly two days, the Pentagon invented the excuse that the Iraqis were staging a "fighting retreat," a fiction which they knew was a lie. "When enemy armies are defeated, they withdraw," said Air Force Chief of Staff Merrill A. McPeak. "It's during this time that the true fruits of victory are achieved from combat, when the enemy is disorganized . . . If we do not exploit victory, the president should get himself some new generals."
The savagery of the U.S. war took some of the luster off Bush's victory. But nothing so revealed the callous disregard for ordinary Iraqis as U.S. complicity in Saddam's suppression of the Kurdish and Shiite uprisings in the weeks following Iraq's defeat. Demobilized soldiers in the southern, predominantly Shiite sections of the country returned to their hometowns and vented their fury on all symbols of Saddam's regime. Kurdish guerrillas launched a coordinated uprising in Iraqi Kurdistan. In the week following the Gulf War cease-fire, ordinary Iraqis stormed the regime's police headquarters, barracks and prisons. Crowds broke into underground dungeons and torture chambers, freeing political prisoners who hadn't seen daylight in decades. Masses of people lynched officials of Saddam's government. For almost two weeks, ordinary Iraqis controlled whole regions of the country and Saddam's government seemed on the verge of collapse.
Then, Saddam got a helping hand from an unlikely source -- the U.S. government. Bush had meant his call for Saddam "to step aside" as a signal of U.S. support for a military coup against him -- not a popular uprising. An uprising from below might set the wrong example for the populaces of the U.S.-allied feudal dictatorships in Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf States. U.S. officials also expressed fears that successful uprisings could lead to a breakup of Iraq and the strengthening of the other Gulf bogeyman, Iran. U.S. military officials refused to meet with emissaries of the rebels. And U.S. forces stood by as Saddam's government, officially violating the terms of the cease-fire agreement, mounted a counterattack. When Saddam's forces dropped firebombs on fleeing rebels near the southern Iraqi city of Kerbala, American planes patrolled high above, surveilling the attack.
In the wake of all the slaughter and destruction, George Bush promised that Desert Storm would usher in a "new world order." But the new order looked quite a bit like the old order.
In Kuwait, U.S. bayonets restored to power the ruling al-Sabah family, a feudal dynasty. Bush had made much about the rights of the Kuwaiti people to determine their own destiny free from Iraqi rule. But in restoring the al-Sabahs to the throne, Bush restored a political system which allowed only 3 percent of Kuwaiti residents any political rights at all. Women still can't vote in Kuwait. As soon as the al-Sabahs returned, they launched a reign of terror against Palestinian "guest workers," whom the al-Sabahs accused of pro-Iraq sentiments. Kuwaiti police rounded up thousands. They summarily executed hundreds of them. Kuwait expelled more than 400,000 Palestinian workers -- many of whom suffered under the Iraqi occupation -- from the country. Human rights organizations denounce Kuwait's disregard for elementary human rights.
By the end of March 1991, Saddam had put down the Shiite/Kurdish rebellion. The immediate result was a humanitarian catastrophe that dwarfs even the horrible situation in Kosovo today. As many as 3 million Kurds fled into Iran and Turkey. When destroying Iraq, the coalition air forces flew one raid a minute. In the first week of the Kurds' torment in makeshift camps in the mountains, those same forces could manage only 10 flights. The total relief for Kurds that Congress approved in April 1991 amounted to about eight hours of spending on the war. When the U.S. announced Operation Provide Comfort, it used the safeguarding of Kurds to establish a military occupation of northern Iraq.
Today Iraqis stood up on their own, for themselves, without any promises of assistance from the US or any other government. This was the protest of the Iraqi people, by the Iraqi people. They followed no one, they led. It was homegrown and it was the voice of the people. In what played out like a bad attempt to short-circuit the protests (most likely played out that way because that's what it was intended to be), Moqtada attempted counter-programming with himself as the tasty treat. Al Rafidayn reports Moqtada led Friday prayers at a Kufa mosque (Kufa is in Najaf). They note the religious leader Moqtada last devliered a service to the congregation in 2007. But Moqtada al-Sadr could not short-circuit the will of the people, nor could the United States or anyone else. Stephanie McCrummen (Washington Post) quotes International Crisis Group's Joost Hiltermaan explaining, "Obama wants to convey that 'Yes, Iraq has a number of problems that need to be addressed, but the country is on the right track. You can't possibly say, 'Iraq is in a crisis, and by the way, we're leaving." McCrummen also notes that the US Embassy in Baghdad's spokesperson Aaron Snipe "played down Friday's violence, as well as the draconian measures Maliki took to stifle turnout."
The voice of the Iraqi people and their attitude towards their government may have been best expressed in Kelly McEvers' report for All Things Considered, "As one protester put it, just give us one-fourth of what you steal, we could be rich on just that."
Reuters notes a Garma home invasion resulted in the deaths of 6 family members, a Tuz Khurmato roadside bombing injured two people, an attack on a Hilla checkpoint claimed the lives of 2 Sahwa members (a thrid wounded), a Kirkuk mortar attack left three police officers injured and at least 2 protesters in Hilla were killed by police and twenty-two more injured.
The real nature of the Kurdish kleptocracy is well-known to my longtime readers, but the Kurds' public relations campaign – funded by you, the American taxpayer – has done a pretty good job, so far, of obscuring the truth. While Hitchens was having "a perfectly swell time" taking in the sights and sounds of ideological tourism in Kurdistan, Dr. Kamal Sayid Qadir, a Kurdish human rights activist, was being sentenced to 30 years in prison for "insulting" the President of Kurdistan, Massoud Barzani, and "defaming" the Kurdish people. His real "crime" was exposing the corruption of the Kurdish state-within-a-state. He was eventually released due to an international outcry, but what of all the other poor souls trapped in Kurdistan's notorious prisons, where torture is ubiquitous and the "legal" process is dicey, at best?
For years, the Kurdish government has been ethnically cleansing Arabs, Turkmens, and other minorities from its territory, jailing its internal critics, enriching its friends, and aiding the terrorist Kurdish Workers Party (PKK), which uses Iraqi Kurdistan as a base from which to launch attacks on civilian targets in Turkey.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Talk of the Nation

A few e-mails have been coming in regarding NPR and Talk of the Nation. I had planned to start back up this week. I had put it off and put it off last week, as you may remember. I'm not starting it back up.

I was talking to C.I. and she said, "Ann, you did a month. That's enough." In March, I'll be grabbing a new show. I just can't stand Talk of the Nation. I can't stand listening to it. I can't stand it.


I can't stand that women are brought on for 'soft' topics. And that they're so rarely brought on. I can't stand how the show repeatedly sends a message on Fridays that women and girls can't do science. And, as an African-American woman, I'm bothered by how few African-Americans make it onto the show and how, when we do make it on, we're only on to talk about Black events in the past.

The thought of following that show for one more episode, let along tracking it for six months or a year, is too depressing.

So when March starts up, I'll be tracking a new NPR show. I'll promise to do it a month. I may end up extending that. I may not and my switch to following another program.

I am very committed to noting the gender imbalance in radio. A lot of you e-mailing are asking about that. I'm not going to drop that. But with work being crazy (all those lay offs) and with other things (hey, we're moving, hold on for that), I just cannot bring myself to listen to that show, life's hard enough.

C.I.'s going to be irritated with me for this paragraph but I don't care. Cedric and I have been house hunting the last two weeks on top of everything else going on. Our plan was to save up for a few years until we could afford it -- and we have been doing that. We'd need another year at least to have a good size down payment. You may remember the guy trying to break down my neighbor's door and threatening her. I wrote about that here. Some of you wondered if Cedric was mad about that. No. He was upset that he hadn't been home and he was determined that we were moving. The day after that, he contacted various realtors and I guess gave information because we weren't going to pass the credit check, he was informed. He called C.I. to see if she knew someone at some bank who could go ahead and do the loan and she said, "Don't be silly. You're going to take the money from me as a gift." Cedric said he'd pay it back and she said no. And she means no. We're very thankful for the money. We've found the house we want and signed everything. The man in it vacates it at the start of the month so we move in probably March 2nd.

I haven't written about the house hunting which has also been consuming a lot of time because I know how C.I. is about not wanting credit for anything she does (and she does so many generous things for so many people). But I'm writing about next month (which is almost here) and next month we move into a new house so I want to at least once say publicly "thank you" to C.I.
This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Thursday, February 24, 2011. Chaos and violence continue, Nouri wants no protests tomorrow, Moqtada runs free (despite murder charges) but the shoe-tosser is re-arrested in Baghdad, Ramadi is slammed with a suicide bombing, Julian Assange's attorney is completely unreliable -- and that's a judge's determination, not my own -- and much more.
Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) reports a Ramadi suicide bomber took his own life and that of 12 other people (twenty-four more injured). AP adds that Jasim al-Halbusi, Chair of the Anbar Provincial Council, says the attack was an attempt to assassinate the deputy governor. BBC says Hikmet Khalaf, the deputy governor was injured the bombing. Trend notes, "A journalist with the Iraqi satellite television station al-Ittijah was among those killed in the blast. The reporter's name remains unknown." Fadhel al-Badrani (Reuters) notes the death toll has risen to 15 and quotes Hikmet Khalaf stating, "We were in the middle of a ceremony to celebrate the anniversary of Prophet Mohammad's birthdy when a male suicide bomber carme to the door of the room and said 'God is Greatest' and blew himself up." In addition, DPA reports that a Baquba home invasion has killed 1 man and three of his sons. Tang Danlu (Xinhua) reports a Baquba roadside bombing claimed 1 life and left two people injured, that Lt Col Tha'ir al-Obiedi sruvived a sticky bomb attack in Baquba, a Baquba roadside bombing injured two people, and 2 Baghdad roadside bombings left five people injured.

Meanwhile an Iraqi govenor has declared that a prisoner died of torture. Dar Addustour reports that Nineveh's governor, Ethel Nujaifi, announced yesterday that another prisoner died of torture in Mosul. The man's name was Khalid Walid Sayf al-Din and that he had been born in 1976. An investigation has been announced and a promise made that those responsible will be punished. AK News reports on it here. The treatment of prisoners is among the many things that Iraqis have been protesting against in recent weeks. Human Rights Watch issued a report this week entitled [PDF format warning] "At a Crossroads: Human Rights in Iraq Eight Years After the US-led Invasion" which includes a section on torture.
On December 19, 2009, during one of the numerous security sweeps of Mosul, Iraqi soldiers kicked open the front door of Ahmad M.'s family home, arresting the 21-year-old for alleged terrorism.
For months, no one in his family knew where he was taken or if he was still alive. Ahmad said that during the worst days of his ordeal at a secret government detention facility at Muthanna Airport, he wished he wasn't alive.
"During the first eight days they tortured me daily," he told us. "[The interrogators] would put a bag on my head and start to kick my stomach and beat me all over my body. They threatened that if I didn't confess, they would bring my sisters and mother to be raped. I heard him on the cell phone giving orders to rape my sisters and mother."
In one torture session, Ahmed, who was blindfolded and handcuffed, said his tormentors stripped him and ordered him to stroke another detainee's penis. Then they forced him to the floor and forced the other detainee on top of him.
"It hurt when it started to penetrate me. The guards were all laughing and saying, 'He's very tight, let's bring some soap!' When I experienced the pain, I asked them to stop and said that I would confess. Although I confessed to the killings, I mentioned fake names since I never killed anyone. So the torture continued even after I confessed because they suspected my confession was false." He went on to say that one of the guards also forced him to have oral sex.
Ahmad's story echoes that of many Iraqi detainees, who are routinely subjected to torture at facilities across the country. Following on the legacy of the judicial system under previous governments, courts continue to rely mainly on confessions, which interrogators extract with seemingly unlimited brutality. International investigators have repeatedly documented the persistence and widespread nature of torture in Iraq in recent years; little has changed in response to those reports. Human Rights Watch's findings show that as of 2010, the practice remains as entrenched as ever, failing even to draw a critical response when evidence is produced by the Iraqi government itself.
Yesterday four protests took place in Dhi Qar. Al Mada reports that hundreds protested in cities in the province such as Nasiriyah as they demanded improved basic services, the end of corruption in the government and opportunities for the people of Iraq. 5 police officers were injured in the Panthers demonstration. They also note a smaller protest before the provincial council by the University of Dhi Qar employees who are demanding that the university's housing project commence (land has been allocated some time ago but no construction has ever taken place). Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) reports that portests took place in Halabja today "over lack of basic services, corruption and unemployment" and that 1 police officer was killed and three more injured.

An essay on Kitabat's main page explains that Friday is the day Iraqis stand up to leaders who attempted to perpetuate divisions among the people, leaders who abused the Iraqi people's patiences, leaders who ignored the people and now the day of rage calls all Iraqis to Tahrir Square in Baghdad to make Iraq's voice heard. The writer offers a religious prayer asking for protection for the marchers and a peaceful march with no attacks from the government. Friday, the essay announces, will be when Iraq leaves its recent sectarian and ethnic categories and again becomes one nation with "brother having the back of his brother" and the people emerging triumphant over the politicians after too many bleak years. "Tomorrow we are all one and the same and will root out the corruption and the violence and death" that has plauged Iraq.


And yet some are demanding that the long planned, long announced protests not take place. Yes, Moqtada al-Sadr has returned and, with his return, his fawning press base is back. Yesterday's snapshot noted an article by Michael S. Schmidt and Yasir Ghazi (New York Times) that we panned for gold and ignored the very weak parts of. The article had just gone up and I thought it would be redone before going into print (which is often the case). That didn't happen. The article includes these laughable paragraphs:

Mr. Sadr is widely seen as the only one who can rival Mr. Maliki for the support of the Iraqi people. In 2008, Mr. Maliki sent troops into southern Iraq to clear the cities of Mr. Sadr's militias, ultimately leading Mr. Sadr to abandon them.

But Mr. Sadr's partisans did very well in last March's election and later provided key support to Mr. Maliki so he could continue to be prime minister.


We're not a pro-State of Law website and we certainly don't carry Nouri's water for him. But a rival would Ayad Allawi whose political slate actually beat Nouri's State of Law. A rival would not be someone who came in with half the seats of Allawi or Nouri. Sadr's about as popular (or was at election time) as the Kurds -- which it a tiny portion of Iraq. To claim otherwise is to rewrite history. Before Sadr 'abandon'ed those militias, he first attempted to launch an uprising but that was taken down in Basra and in Baghdad.

Did Sadr provide key support for Nouri?

Yes, he did and that's where reporters provide context but no one apparently can either because they don't know recent history or they just don't care. Moqtada al-Sadr resurfaced in Iraq yesterday to issue a call that the protests long planned for tomorrow be called off. What he offered instead was a referendum. The press is obligated to tell the story of Moqtada's most recent referendum -- less than a year ago. But no one wants to remember that today.

Dropping back to the April 7th snapshot:

Moqtada al-Sadr's bloc won 40 seats in the Parliament. Kadhim Ajrash and Caroline Alexander (Bloomberg News) report that Ibrahim al-Jaafari "won 24 percent of the 428,000 ballots cast in the internal referendum, ahead of al-Sadr's second cousin, Jafar Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr, who obtained 23 percent, Sadrist spokesman Salah al-Ubaidi said today in the southern city of Najaf." Al Jazeera notes that Nouri al-Maliki received 10% of the vote and Ayad Allawi 9%. The US military invaded Iraq in March 2003 (and still hasn't left).


The Times reporters are correct, Moqtada did throw his support behind Nouri. After holding a referendum -- one that he said would determine who his bloc would support. Nouri isn't who won the referendum. Nouri didn't even come in second. But Moqtada broke his word and still supported Nouri. He ignored the wishes of the people. And how do you referendum basic services? "Are you for or opposed to water you can drink safely without first boiling? Are you for or opposed to trash pick ups? Are you for or opposed to electricity?"

Now he's showing back up proposing another referendum? A skeptical press would greet his vanity move with laughter. Do we have a skeptical press, a functioning press? Today be thankful for Stephanie McCrummen (Washington Post) who gathers multiple threads to provide the tapestry and not some isolated segment that reveals nothing. As she notes, "the leadeup to the big day has been marked so far by the more familiar features of Iraq's bare-knuckle style of governing: crackdowns by security forces, political intrigue, sectarian divisions and the threat of violence." And she continues on that path, noting the patterns, reporting the events and she's even speaking to experts. Joost Hiltermann weighs in (and his record, especially of late, has been remarkably high, I'd estimate that in the last 12 months, 92% of the calls he's made -- what he's seeing and where that will end up -- have been correct). (Jane Arraf's reports have been consistently strong. That's this week, that's her entire career of reporting from Iraq. A friend called about the observations made this morning by me that appear only slightly reworked above and asked about "What about Jane?" He worked with her at CNN and has high respect for her. Most people who know her work do. I was not attempting to sleight Jane Arraf. I thought it was a given that we expect strong reporting from her and that she delivers. Over and over. If that wasn't obvious, my apologies for not making it so before.)
Moqtada returned to Iraq yesterday to say "NO!" to the protests. Someone else returned to say "YES!" and "YES!" gets you arrested apparently. He was the shoes heard around the world: Muntazer al-Zaidi. The Iraqi reporter who threw his shoes, one after the other, at George W. Bush. Nicholas Blanford (Time magazine) spoke with him right before he arrived in Iraq and he tells Blanford, "We never used to have sectarianism until the Americans came to Iraq." The Post-Chronicle notes he was arrested today in Baghdad for "inciting people" (endorsing Friday's protest). AFP notes that right before his press conference, Iraqi military showed up and declared they were ordered to arrest him.

The reactionary Nouri made more speechifying today. Michael S. Schmidt and Jack Healy (New York Times) report on his call for no protests tomorrow and quote him declaring, "They are attempting to crack down on everything you have achieved, all the democratic gains, the free elections, the peace exchange of power and freedom." What?
What peaceful exchange of power and freedom? Before the March 7, 2010 elections, Nouri was prime minister, Jalal Talabani was president. Tariq al-Hashimi was a vice president before the 2010 elections and will continue when the Parliament does their voting. Adil Abdul-Mahdi was a vice president before the election and will continue . . . In addition, a third vice president will join them (and Talabani's pushing for a fourth). On this subject, I'd mentioned in a previous snapshot that the White House went with Nouri because he agreed to keep US forces on the ground in Iraq and noted that they ignored the oil lobby and the CIA who each had other candidates. Allawi was and is the choice of the American CIA. Abdul-Mahdi is the choice of big oil.
Nizar Latif (The National) reports that despite the calls from Nouri, al-Sistani and Moqtada, "Thousands of protesters prepared to take to the streets today to call for government reforms and improved public services as the government warned of violence from militants."
Yesterday, we noted that, considering Iraq's not so distant past, it's amazing that Iraqis protest (encouraged to rise up by George H.W. Bush and then slaughtered while the US looked elsewhere). Alan Greenblatt (NPR) covers that period from a more centrist position than does Lance Selfa (I support Lance's historical review) so you can check that out if it is a new topic for you or just one you'd like further reading on.
In the United States, Iraq Veterans Against the War holds this event tomorrow:

February 25, 2011 9:30 - 10:30 am
Busboys & Poets, Langston room
14th & V st NW Washington DC
This report back will be to answer questions from media and the peace movement about the recent trip back to Iraq by members of Iraq Veterans Against the War. The war is not over but it is not the same as it was in years past. What is the humanitarian situation in Iraq?
How can we do reparations and reconciliation work?
Speakers are all returning from this delegation and include:
Geoff Millard (IVAW) Hart Viges (IVAW) Haider Al-Saedy (Iraqi Health Now)
Richard Rowely (
Big Noise Films)


Moving to legal news out of England, Jessica Grose (Slate) observes, "A few months after famous feminist Naomi Wolf and other leftist journalists dismissed the sexual assault charges against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange as frivolous, British courts are taking the matter quite seriously: They ruled Thursday that Assange should be extradited to Sweden to face accusations of abuse, according to the New York Times. [. . .] Hopefully now that a court is taking these women's stories seriously, Wolf and company will have to eat their condescending words." One would hope so. But don't expect it to happen. And Grose is saying the charges should be taken seriously, she's not saying, "JULIAN ASSANGE IS A RAPIST!!!" Whereas, the other side's loud mouths -- Naomi Wolf, Ray McGovern, et al -- have repeatedly slimed and trashed the women who may have been raped. There's an appeal expected. I've read the findings, there does not appear to be grounds for an appeal.
The nonsense and drama that the legal 'team' (and the loudmouths) brougt in was always a pathetic and embarrassing joke. It made them appear unhinged to claim that the US was behind it with the plan to put Assange in Guantanamo or to execute him. As I've said before, Assange would never go to Guantanamo. Guantanamo has always depended upon the fact that people didn't know the prisoners kept there -- that's how inhumanity like Guantanamo exists with little uproar. Second, there is no crime on the books in the US that would allow Julian Assange to be put to death -- he's not a US citizen, he can't be tried with treason. They overreached and embarrassed themselves.
Disclosure, in one class decades ago, the professor teamed us up. I was with two men. Our case was to argue about school prayer. The men on my team decided we would be in favor of it. (Ask them why. They were the laziest bums I've ever met -- as the story will demonstrate.) One of us would research, one would be in charge of the court paperwork, one would argue the case. Research being the heavy load, neither of the puny men wanted it. Fine. I researched the whole thing and found the citations and judgments we would need to argue their position. Then it was, "You researched it, how about you write it up and I'll type it." Not pleased but fine. I wrote it up. And this is back in the days when typing was done on a type writer. Students didn't have laptops or word processors or whatever. So then Weakling Number 1 types or 'types' up the paper. I keep asking if it's done and keep getting told it's almost done. The day the case is to be argued, Weakling 1 shows up ten or so minutes before moot court begins to tell me (a) he just turned in the paperwork, (b) here's a carbon of it and (c) he's dropping out of the class -- effective now. Weakling 2 has developed sudden shyness and hysterical laryngitis (not a doctor, but I will stand by that diagnosis -- 30 minutes after the moot court hearing, his voice was back). So I've got to argue the case. Fine. I'm looking over the carbons and it is nothing but errors, people's names are wrong, court cases are wrong . . . And to this day, I always look down on people who can't get their filings right. Now that's my pet peeve and why. (If you're wondering, we won the case surprising everyone.) And that may just be me and my feelings because of the experience I've described. However, I do have a number of friends who are judges and they're not really fond of screwed up court paperwork either. I'm talking errors. Not lies. But both will apply in the case Assange's attorneys presented.
The attorneys are currently whining about all the money spent to translate paperwork (from Sweden) into English but, in their own documents submitted to the court, appeared to struggle with English. (I'm referring to repeated typos.) They also appeared to struggle with facts. Including who was president of the United States and when he became president of the United States (Barack Obama is president and became the president when he was sworn in January, 2009). When you have so many errors like that, you're not helping anyone. Why you needed to bring in the President of the United States into your paperwork about a matter between the governments of England and Sweden is beyond me but, having decided to, you need to get your facts right.
Not only did they struggle with facts in their paperwork, they struggled it with facts in their presentation. And they got caught lying. Repeatedly. Bjorn Hurtig has been Julian Assange's attorney for some time and fed the press repeated claims. Any smart person would have realized that Hurtig, a defense attorney, can say anything to the press and it doesn't have to be true. Instead, too many put faith in the claims Hurtig has been making since December. Hurtig bumped up against a judge that wasn't pleased with being lied to.
Chief Magistrate Howard Riddle's ruling can be read [PDF format warning] here in full. The big witnesses were Assange's attorney Hurtig and former judge Brita Sunderg-Weitman. The former judge didn't impress Riddle. After listing the many things Sunderg-Weitman claimed, Riddle notes, "In cross-examination the witness told me she is not an expert in Mutual Legal Assitance. She confirmed she had no direct personal knowledge of what happened in this investigation before Mr Assange left Sweden. Her evidence is based upon the facts supplied to her by the defence lawyers. [In her proof she said Ms Ny had made no effort to interview him before he left with her permission and knowledge on 27th September.] She confirmed that if the defence lawyer had told the prosecutor that he was unable to contact the defendant for interview, then the position would be different." The judge is referring to the fact that before Assange left Sweden, attempts were made to question him. His attorneys have lied about that repeatedly to the press leading idiots like Naomi Wolf to insist that if Sweden was serious, they would have questioned him before he left the country. As the court learned (and as Assange's attorney confessed), there was an attempt to question Assange. Their chief expert offered testimony that she was not qualified to offer. They brought an expert to the witness stand to give hearsay evidence. No, that doesn't impress. Check out the following sentence fragments:
*Overall the witness appeared unclear . . .
*At first she appeared to avoid the question . . .
* Again she had difficulty directly answering the question.
These are just the first set. The witness did not impress the judge for obvious reasons. He was bothered by the fact that she didn't know the facts independently and that she relied (unquestioningly) on the defense to feed her information. This was also an issue with witness Sven-Eric Alhem but the judge noted that, in his written evidence, Alhem had made it clear that he got his information from the defense.
Then there's the part of the judgment recounting when Hurtig had to admit that there was an effort to interview Assange and he'd been contacted September 22nd about it and agreed to it. After agreeing to that what happened? From the judgment:
In summary the lawyer was unable to tell me what attempts he made to contact his client, and whether he definitely left a message. It was put that he had a professional duty to tell his client, and whether he definitely left a message. It was put that he had a professional duty to tell his client of the risk of detention. He did not appear to accept that the risk was substantial or the need to contact his client was urgent.
It only gets worse. The judge notes, "Mr Hurtig was asked why he told Brita Sundberg-Wietman that Ms Nye had made no effort to his client. He denied saying that and said he has never met her." Right there, you've got a huge problem. Their star witness has her facts wrong and states she got them from Hurtig. Hurtig, after being forced to admit the truth, then denies he ever spoke to the star witness. It gets worse. Confronted with what he wrote down and submitted to the court, Hurtig has to admit "that is wrong. He had forgotten [. . .] They must have slipped his mind." Slipped his mind? The judge didn't buy that claim.
Riddle continues, "He also agreed that it is important that what he says is right and important for his client that his evidence is credible." The judge then notes that the witness asserted he had a flight to catch, "The witness was clearly uncomfortable and anxious to leave."
As bad as that is-- and it's bad -- we're not even to the basic findings Judge Riddel offers -- 19 points on pages nine and ten. We'll emphasize two. First, here he is on Julian Assange's attorney Hurtig (the one Ray McGovern and Naomi Wolf have relied on when attacking the women who may have been raped):
10. Mr Hurtig [is] an unreliable witness as to what efforts he made to contaact his client between 21st, 22nd and 29th September (see transcript pages 122-132). He has no record of those attempts. They were by mobile phone, but he has no record. He cannot recall whether he sent texts or simply left answer-phone messages.
And point 15 goes along with that:
15. Mr Hurtig said in his statement that it was astonishing that Ms Nye made no effort to interview his client. In fact this is untrue. He says he realised the mistake the night before giving evidence. He did correct the statement in his evidence in chief (transcript p.83 and p.97). However, this was very low key and not done in a way that I, at least, immediately grasped as significant. It was only in cross-examination that the extent of the mistake became clear. Mr Hurtig must have realised the significance of paragraph 13 of his proof when he sbumitted it. I do not accept that this was a genuine mistake. It cannot have slipped his mind. For over a week he was attempting (he says without success) to contact a very important client about a very important matter. The statement was a deliberate attempt to mislead the court. It did in fact mislead Ms Brita Sunderberg-Weitman and Mr Alhem. Had they been given the true facts then they would have changed their opinion on a key fact in a material way.
When your attorney is ruled "an unreliable witness," you and your case have problems. Now Assange had a respectable lawyer but he wouldn't play the game Hurtig will and that's why Julian Assange dropped him. Now he's got a lawyer who lied repeatedly to the press and who the jugde caught in one lie after another.
Last week, Nir Rosen took to his Twitter feed when news borke that Lara Logan had been attacked and sexually assaulted while reporting from Egypt. Nir Rosen expressed the belief system of rapists and sexual assailants when he declared that Lara Logan deserved it. Mike noted Leonard Pitts Jr. (Miami Herald) had a strong column on the issue:

On the other side of the bipolar American political divide, something named Nir Rosen -- a journalist and a fellow at New York University -- mocked Logan in a series of tweets as a "warmonger," presumably for her coverage of the Iraq and/or Afghanistan wars, and said he was "rolling my eyes" at the attention she'd be getting.
Let us pass lightly on the specific "thoughts" -- a term used advisedly here -- raised by these individuals, except to note that, contrary to what Hoff and Schlussel imply, Logan did not wander aimlessly into that square. The woman is a reporter and she was doing what reporters do: going places, sometimes dicey, difficult or dangerous places, in order to originate the information that allows the rest of us to opine from the comfort of our chairs.
The suggestion that in doing her job, Logan somehow "deserved" what happened to her is appalling. As is Hoff's political spin, Rosen's mockery and Schlussel's frothing bigotry.
Betty noted Pitts' column last night and contrasted it with various efforts by some lefty males to excuse Rosen or pretend nothing ever happened. That includes Jim Lobe who was silent all last week about Rosen's attack on Logan but, as Betty pointed out, showed up yesterday declaring Rosen had a great article at Al Jazeera. (We'll come back to that.) Under pressure from people leaving comments, Lobe declared today: "hey, all, i hardly know Nir Rosen, but i think daniel already blogged on his inexcusable Lara Logan tweet(s)(http://www.lobelog.com/the-knives-are-out-for-nir-rosen/). The point is that Rosen's reporting has been excellent, and this essay was particularly compelling." Whatever, you sorry excuse, whatever. Everyone knows what you did, kept your head in the sand and waited until you thought it was over.
And I feel the witch in my veins
I feel the mother in my shoe
I feel the scream in my soul

The blood as I sing the ancient blue
They burned by the millions
I still smell the fire in my grandma's hair
The war against women rages on
Beware of the fairytale
Somebody's mama, somebody's daughter
Somebody's jail
-- "Somebody's Jail" written by Holly Near first appears on Holly's Show Up
Tell us another lie, Jim Lobe. And, Lobe, what are you doing linking to Peter Beinart in the same post? The War Hawk leading the charge for illegal war from the 'left'? Clearly all anyone has to do for Lobe to consider worth highlighting is attack Israel. And if you can do so with a level of craziness, all the better. (The government of Israel can be criticized and has certainly done enough to be criticized for. But some of these people are confusing governments with people and it's getting really ugly and really old. As we've noted many times when the wide-eyed crazy surfaces -- and you can find it all over the web, go to Information Clearing House -- one example -- and see the most extreme attacks on the Jewish people in comments left -- not just the Jews in Israel even. Jews all over the world get attacked with this sort of crazy most of us hoped had vanished. It's past time the left learned that wasn't acceptable. And as we've often noted, when Bully Boy Bush occupied the White House he may have been the US government but he was not the US people. Do not confuse people with governments.) As for Nir Rosen having an article on Aljazeera? Last week, I avoided calling attention to something but now that Aljazeera is publishing Nir Rosen, we're going to the second hour of last Friday's The Diane Rehm Show -- and this is from the show's official transcript, Diane is speaking with Aljazeera's Abderrahim Foukara:

REHM: Abderrahim, there are a great many people wondering why Aljazeera Arabic did not cover what happened to Laura Logan.

FOUKARA: I just wanna say this. I don't wanna say anything stupid or come across as trying to say anything too smart by half. I don't know the answer to what exactly happened with the story of Laura Logan on Aljazeera. I'd be very happy to come back down the road next week or whenever, once I've had a chance to speak to people and give the details of why that story was covered the way it was covered or was not covered at all on either Aljazeera English or Aljazeera Arabic.

Now it's one thing to wait for an explaination, it's another thing to be waiting for an explanation and as you're waiting discover that Aljazeera is carrying reports by the man who mocked Lara Logan's sexual assault. On the first, it could have just been an accident. But it looks a lot less inoccent when Aljazeera's ignoring the assault and running Nir Rosen's garbage. It may still be innocent and if he offers an update (either tomorrow or another Friday when he's on Diane's show), we'll note it. But it doesn't look good to ignore the Lara Logan story and then to be promoting the man who savaged her online.
npr
the diane rehm show

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

My pathetic political party

From Hillary Is 44:

To Flee Or Not To Flee? - That Is The Question

Obamaitis is contagious and spreading. Back in 2007 when we first warned about Barack Obama’s record of voting “present” little did we know it was an infectious disease.

By voting “present” instead of “yea” or “nay” Barack Obama fled from responsibility. Barack Obama was physically “present” but absent from the fight.

Wisconsin Obama Dimocrats have taken the Obama germ and fled to states governed by other Obama Dimocrats. Today we learned that Indiana Obama Dimocrats are now “Fleebaggers” too though we are sure they are in luxury quarters not a fleabag hotel.

Tactical retreats have an honorable history. Washington retreated across the Delaware, Allied armies avoided devastation at Dunkirk, and even in political history there are many instances when it was intelligent to live to fight another day. But considering that the Big Fight of the year will be the potential federal government shutdown (think debt ceiling and budgets that need to be passed) Obama Dimocrats in the states are undercutting Obama Dimocrats at the national level. How will national Dimocrats denounce a government shutdown when they are praising a government shutdown at the local level?

The Fleebagging tactics of the past few days are shutdowns or legislative filibusters by another name. We respect shutdowns and filibusters but it was Obama Dimocrats that have vigorously denounced both tactics. From appearances, these legislative gimmicks are all they have left. It didn’t have to be this way. What happened was the voters voted and elections have consequences. Isn’t that what Obama said in 2009? “I won.” “Elections have consequences.” Didn’t Obama say that?

The fact is that elections do have consequences. What Obama Dimocrats are witnessing is the consequences of drinking the poison called Obama. Last year, in an article called “The Obama Death Threat – You Got Me” we quoted from a Weekly Standard articled calledThe Clinton Voters Jump Ship“:

“For six months during the 2008 primaries, Obama and Hillary Clinton crisscrossed the country wooing voters. Obama consistently failed to win over important parts of the Democratic base, even after it became clear that he was going to be his party’s nominee. [snip]

Instead, it may be that his general election triumph was the aberration—that his coalition was never as strong as the financial panic of September 2008 made it seem. It would mean that he is now returning to his natural base of support and that the Jacksonians and others who resisted him in the primaries have turned away once again from his charms.

But it also suggests something more, that the Democratic party is now the party of Obama, for good and for ill. While the president is no Jacksonian, his party has many in its ranks. Democratic officeholders should be concerned about their voters fleeing not just from Obama but from their party as well. The president may be in the process of trimming the Democratic base back into something that looks an awful lot like his own primary base.

A few weeks ago Representative Marion Berry, a Jacksonian from Arkansas’s First District, recounted an exchange he had with the president. Asked how he was going to prevent a midterm disaster on the scale of 1994, Obama replied, “Well, the big difference here and in ’94 was you’ve got me.” Which may be precisely the problem.”

As the article noted, those of us who consider ourselves Democrats, not Obama Dimocrats, are “fleeing not just from Obama but from [our] their party as well.” The party ran away from us and we are running away from the party. In 1994 the economy was recovering but the voters did not believe it yet or did not credit Bill Clinton. But by 1996 and even during the off year elections in 1998 (as Republicans prepped to impeach him) Bill Clinton led Democrats to victory.


My thoughts? The Green Party (my party) has blown two years. We should have been calling out the War Hawk actions of Barack, we should have been calling out his corporate giveaways. There were disenchanted Democrats. We could have picked them off.

Instead, we basically fawned over Barack and demonstrated that -- nationally at least -- the Green Party is a joke, a pathetic joke that can't stand up for itself.

They're so pathetic. If you want people to stand with you, you have to stand up. The Green Party should be leading the way. Instead it's acting like it's got a crush on Barack. Pathetic.

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

Wednesday, February 23, 2011. Chaos and violence continue, protest continue, Moqtada's back and wants to stop protests, Iraqi journalists remain under attack and more.
Iraq where the governmental war on the press never ends. Dar Addustor reports on the Iraqi military raid of the Journalistic Freedoms Observatory in Baghdad after midnight this morning with the military seizing things including computers and personal items. Jane Arraf (Christian Science Monitor) quotes JFO's Bashar al-Mandalawy stating, "The only reason behind this is to stop freedom of the press and expression in this country." Wael Grace and Adham Youssef (Al Mada) reports notes that it was the Iraqi military and the police raiding the Journalistic Freedoms Observatory and that they entered by breaking down the main door and that the Baghdad Centre for Media was also raided at the same time. Meanwhile Iraq Freedom Congress' Amjad Ali (via US Labor Against The War) explains another attack on the press in Baghdad today:
At around 2:30 am Baghdad time a group of anti riot police raided the headquarter of Iraq Freedom Congress satellite TV (Sana) in Baghdad and destroyed every single piece of equipment in the office as well as confiscating a number of documents.
These attacks occurred following broadcasting segments of events took place in Tahrir Square in Baghdad by a number of TV Channels via Sana TV who filmed and documented a particular segment in which protesters clashed with the police on the night of February 20th, 2011 and one protestor was killed as a result, as well as the active participation of Sana TV in assisting of organizing the forthcoming demonstrations in Tahrir Square.
This is the Maliki government and its repressive practices; this is the democracy and freedom of expression which Maliki is bragging about. He continues sending his militias to silence his opponents and critics. He is no different than Ben Ali, Mubarak and Gaddafi in acts of torture.
Iraq Freedom Congress assert that it will carry on the fight and will not bow to the pracitices of Maliki and his mercenaries and vow that the demonstrations on February 25th, 2011 will continue the pace no matter how brutal this government practices is.
IFC pledges that it will continue [to] organize and fight with full force in the million people march on February 25, 2011.
Sunday the Journalist Freedoms Observatory called out the assault on the channel Nalia whose Sulaymaniyah office was set on fire after being raided by unknown assailants. Yesterday the Committee to Protect Journalists noted:
Attacks on the press also continue in Iraq. On Sunday, 50 gunmen raided a new, Sulaimaniya-based independent TV station called Nalia Radio and Television, according to Metro Center to Defend Journalists, a local press freddom group. Nalia TV only began broadcasting on February 17, when protests begen in Sulaimaniya. The boradcasting equipment was destroyed by bullets and arson, Metro Center reported. Iran's Press TV reported that two guards and a janitor were injured in the attack.
"They came in military uniforms," Twana Othman, a manager at Nalia TV, told Press TV. "They wore special hats so their faces could not be seen. They knew exactly what to shoot at and what to destroy. Then they poured petrol and burned everything."
Rahman Gharib, a local journalist who reports for Metro Center, told CPJ: "I think the attack on the station was connected to its editorial policy of covering the demonstrations and giving voice to the protesters."
On February 17, Hawlati, an independent Kurdish newspaper, evacuated its offices after threats from the guards of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) [KRG President Massoud Barzani's political party] building, Tariq Fattah, the director of the newspaper told CPJ. "Our office is close to where the demonstrations were taking place," he said. "The guards of the KDP were shouting at the door fo the paper that we are traitors and that we are stadning behind and leading the demonstrations."
Hisham Rikabi (Al Mada) reports that Nouri's spokesperson Ali al-Dabbagh held a press conference where he declared that Baghdad will ban vehicles on Friday that can broadcast live. There may also be a curfew imposed. In Egypt, the world was watching. In Iraq, the few western reporters that are present include some smug frat boys who think that mocking the Iraqi people is doing their job. Does it seem strange to you that Nouri's attempting to ban video of the protests? Joao Silva, New York Times photographer (recently badly injured in Afghanistan) observed, "The Iraqis have learned the power of photographic images, and they know that if there are no photographs of a bomb, it has far less impact abroad. We still try to go, but usually the police stop us before we get near enough to the scene to photograph it. They will let a reporter go up close, but no cameras. Sometimes you get lucky and manage to get an image. And on the really big explosions, like at the Hamra Hotel in January [2010] and the government ministries last year, they are just too big to keep everyone away. But usually they are very careful not to let cameras near. It's hit and miss, but there is definitely a culture of 'See No Evil'."
And though Silva and Stephen Farrell know that, the paper's Jack Healy and Michael S. Schmidt feel they can disrespect and mock the Iraqi protesters. They can have 'fun' with the "patchwork" of demands. That's real strange considering that both men are US citizens. It was the US government that started the illegal war. Before the start of the Iraq War, the electricity outages weren't a daily feature. There was potable water. There was sanitation. Eight years after the Iraq War started, there is still not potable water, reliable electricity or santiation. I'm not understanding how it's funny -- or for that matter strange -- that the Iraqis are worse off with basic services than before the Iraq War. I'm not understanding how anyone would find it surprising that people would be outraged, in the 21st century, to live in an oil rich country that makes billions while the people don't have potable water. I'm not understanding how they think Egypt is something to compare Iraq too. Egypt wasn't occupied by a foreign power during their recent demonstrations, Iraq is. Egypt had every outlet in the US and every European outlet storm into the country to cover their protests. The Egyptians knew the world was watching, as did their government. By contrast, the Iraqis get less and less coverage every week. And despite this, they've been out in the streets protesting. If Jack Healy and Michael S. Schmidt had wanted to be honest about the protests throughout the country, they couldn't have had so much 'fun' mocking the Iraqis. If they'd bothered to report on Saturday's Baghdad protest involving widows and orphans, maybe they would have understood the issues. Reuters has video of one of the women demonstrating in that protest explaining, "The Iraqi people have been patient since the fall of the regime in 2003 and they want to improve their living conditions but now a single glance at Baghdad and other cities can show the tragedy that we've experienced. It's been eight years and government officials are still unable to ensure that power supplies are back or create job opportunities for the unemployed young people. The infrastructure is completely damaged. At the same time, we always hear reports and news about corruption and about those who steal the resources that belong to the people."
And these protests take place in a country that lived under repression long before the current puppets the occupation installed. In fact, the example the US set in the early 90s would likely give many pause to ever stand up. But Iraqis do stand up and they don't deserve to be mocked for it. For those who've forgotten what happened when Iraqis were encouraged by the US to stand up under then-US President George H.W. Bush, here's a refresher from Lance Selfa (ISR):
General Colin Powell announced what the U.S. had in store for the Iraqi army: "First we're going to cut it off, then we're going to kill it." Poorly paid and equipped Iraqi conscripts, two-thirds of them oppressed Shiites and Kurds, faced bombing 24 hours a day. Thousands of Iraqi troops deserted the battlefield. U.S. and coalition forces mowed down some of them when they tried to surrender. A military video showed in a combat briefing depicted Iraqi soldiers as "ghostly sheep . . . flushed from a pen . . . bewildered and terrified. Some were literally blown to bits by bursts of 30mm exploding cannon. One by one they were cut down by attackers they couldn't see or understand," according to one report. One U.S. officer anticipated another night of action: ". . . there is nothing that can take them out like an Apache [attack helicopter]. It will be a duck hunt." In scenes reminiscent of mass burials at liberated Nazi concentration camps in the 1940s, U.S. forces bulldozed the bodies of thousands of Iraqi soldiers into mass graves.
On February 15 -- a month into the air war -- Saddam's government announced it would accept UN resolutions calling for its withdrawal from Kuwait. The U.S. and its lackey, Britain, dismissed Saddam's surrender. Instead, Bush called for Iraqis to rise up and overthrow Saddam: "[T]here's another way for the bloodshed to stop, and that is for the Iraqi military and the Iraqi people to take matters into their own hands, to force Saddam to step aside." Bush's statement communicated two points: first, that the U.S. wouldn't settle only for Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait, and second, that the U.S. might back anyone who rose up against Saddam. The first point proved that expelling Iraq from Kuwait was a mere pretext for wider U.S. designs in the war. The second point proved a lie only weeks later, when masses of Kurds and Shiites took "matters into their own hands" and rose up against Saddam.
Saddam had essentially cried "uncle," but the U.S. wanted to mount a ground offensive anyway. In six days, U.S. and coalition ground troops swept across Kuwait and southern Iraq, forcing Iraqi troops into a full-scale retreat. In the last 40 hours of the war, before Bush called a cease-fire on February 28, U.S. and British forces mounted a relentless assault against retreating and defenseless Iraqi soldiers. The road leading from Kuwait to Basra became known as the "Highway of Death." Iraqi soldiers fled Kuwait in every possible vehicle they could get their hands on. Allied tank units cut the Iraqis off. U.S. warplanes bombed, strafed and firebombed the stranded columns for hours without resistance. In a slaughter which a U.S. pilot described as "like shooting fish in a barrel," thousands of Iraqi conscripts were killed on a 50-mile stretch of highway. So many planes filled the skies over southern Iraq that military air traffic controllers maneuvered to prevent mid-air collisions.
The "Highway of Death," and, in fact, the ground war itself, served no military purpose. Saddam had admitted defeat before the ground war began. Attacks on retreating Iraqis merely delayed the war's end. But the U.S. mounted this barbarism for one reason only: to render an example of what would happen to any government which bucked the U.S. For nearly two days, the Pentagon invented the excuse that the Iraqis were staging a "fighting retreat," a fiction which they knew was a lie. "When enemy armies are defeated, they withdraw," said Air Force Chief of Staff Merrill A. McPeak. "It's during this time that the true fruits of victory are achieved from combat, when the enemy is disorganized . . . If we do not exploit victory, the president should get himself some new generals."
The savagery of the U.S. war took some of the luster off Bush's victory. But nothing so revealed the callous disregard for ordinary Iraqis as U.S. complicity in Saddam's suppression of the Kurdish and Shiite uprisings in the weeks following Iraq's defeat. Demobilized soldiers in the southern, predominantly Shiite sections of the country returned to their hometowns and vented their fury on all symbols of Saddam's regime. Kurdish guerrillas launched a coordinated uprising in Iraqi Kurdistan. In the week following the Gulf War cease-fire, ordinary Iraqis stormed the regime's police headquarters, barracks and prisons. Crowds broke into underground dungeons and torture chambers, freeing political prisoners who hadn't seen daylight in decades. Masses of people lynched officials of Saddam's government. For almost two weeks, ordinary Iraqis controlled whole regions of the country and Saddam's government seemed on the verge of collapse.
Then, Saddam got a helping hand from an unlikely source -- the U.S. government. Bush had meant his call for Saddam "to step aside" as a signal of U.S. support for a military coup against him -- not a popular uprising. An uprising from below might set the wrong example for the populaces of the U.S.-allied feudal dictatorships in Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf States. U.S. officials also expressed fears that successful uprisings could lead to a breakup of Iraq and the strengthening of the other Gulf bogeyman, Iran. U.S. military officials refused to meet with emissaries of the rebels. And U.S. forces stood by as Saddam's government, officially violating the terms of the cease-fire agreement, mounted a counterattack. When Saddam's forces dropped firebombs on fleeing rebels near the southern Iraqi city of Kerbala, American planes patrolled high above, surveilling the attack.
In the wake of all the slaughter and destruction, George Bush promised that Desert Storm would usher in a "new world order." But the new order looked quite a bit like the old order.
In Kuwait, U.S. bayonets restored to power the ruling al-Sabah family, a feudal dynasty. Bush had made much about the rights of the Kuwaiti people to determine their own destiny free from Iraqi rule. But in restoring the al-Sabahs to the throne, Bush restored a political system which allowed only 3 percent of Kuwaiti residents any political rights at all. Women still can't vote in Kuwait. As soon as the al-Sabahs returned, they launched a reign of terror against Palestinian "guest workers," whom the al-Sabahs accused of pro-Iraq sentiments. Kuwaiti police rounded up thousands. They summarily executed hundreds of them. Kuwait expelled more than 400,000 Palestinian workers -- many of whom suffered under the Iraqi occupation -- from the country. Human rights organizations denounce Kuwait's disregard for elementary human rights.
By the end of March 1991, Saddam had put down the Shiite/Kurdish rebellion. The immediate result was a humanitarian catastrophe that dwarfs even the horrible situation in Kosovo today. As many as 3 million Kurds fled into Iran and Turkey. When destroying Iraq, the coalition air forces flew one raid a minute. In the first week of the Kurds' torment in makeshift camps in the mountains, those same forces could manage only 10 flights. The total relief for Kurds that Congress approved in April 1991 amounted to about eight hours of spending on the war. When the U.S. announced Operation Provide Comfort, it used the safeguarding of Kurds to establish a military occupation of northern Iraq.

With that as a backdrop, it's amazing that any Iraqi protests. But they do protest and they are protesting all over the country and building up to what they hope is a huge turnout on Friday. Hoping for. Enter Moqtada.
AFP reports Iraq's own groundhog, Moqtada al-Sadr, has returned to Iraq -- it must be spring. And guess what? He wants to put the brakes on protests. Did Iran dispatch him? Michael S. Schmidt and Yasir Ghazi (New York Times) say that he and Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani issued a call today to ask that protests be delayed. This is a reversal on protests from last week for Moqtada and a reversal from Sunday for al-Sistani. Moqtada has an 'answer.' What is it? Alsumaria TV reports al-Sadr's proposing "a one week referendum in all provinces of Iraq including Kurdistan on February 28." Wow! A Moqtada referendum! Who wouldn't want that!!!! March 7, 2010, Iraq held elections. Ayad Allawi's Iraqiya bloc came out with the most votes but Nouri was determined to hold on to the prime minister post. In April, al-Sadr held his own elections to see who his bloc should vote. From the April 7th snapshot:
Moqtada al-Sadr's bloc won 40 seats in the Parliament. Kadhim Ajrash and Caroline Alexander (Bloomberg News) report that Ibrahim al-Jaafari "won 24 percent of the 428,000 ballots cast in the internal referendum, ahead of al-Sadr's second cousin, Jafar Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr, who obtained 23 percent, Sadrist spokesman Salah al-Ubaidi said today in the southern city of Najaf." Al Jazeera notes that Nouri al-Maliki received 10% of the vote and Ayad Allawi 9%. The US military invaded Iraq in March 2003 (and still hasn't left).
So Moqtada staged a referendum and the people's will would be followed! Except it wasn't. al-Sadr got credit for being a "king maker" for tossing his support behind Nouri al-Maliki. It would be different this go round how? Don't expect everyone to follow Moqtada al-Sadr and with an already weakening hold on his base (due to his most recent lay over in Iraq), it's probably not the best time for him to be tossing around "referendum" and inviting people to think back to last April.
Al Rafidayn reports that today UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy to Iraq, Ad Melkert says that the "differences between the Arabs and the Kurds in northern Iraq" need to be resolved. You think? And how nice of Melkert to suddenly remember that issue . . . just as the region is alive with protests. Sky News reports Halabja is where hundreds of protestors marched today and shots were exchanged with the Mayor insisting the protesters did the shooting. If you were being asked to step down by the protesters, you'd probably work overtime to portray them poorly as well. One police officer died, another was injured. Sky News notes, "But protesters, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of arrest, insisted that no-one at their rally was carrying weapons. They said that police fired into the air and the casualties were caused when the bullets fell downwards." Jack Healy teams with Namo Abdulla for a report on this and it's confusing because he tells us that "thousands of people" "over the past week" have been protesting in the Kurdistan region. But this is the same Healy who took part in mocking the protests and insisting they were small.
Joao Silva's earlier comment about the way the Iraqi government attempts to block images from reaching the public (especially international audiences) is included in the report Human Rights Watch issued yesterday, [PDF format warning] "At a Crossroads: Human Rights in Iraq Eight Years After the US-led Invasion" -- and let's excerpt from the section on journalism:

Murders, assaults, and threats continue against writers for doing their
jobs. Government officials, political party figures, and militias may all be responsible for the violence, intended to silence some and intimidate the rest. New obstacles to the free exchange of information have emerged in the period since 2007: the rising number of libel suits lodged by government officials against journalists, and increasingly restrictive regulations that constrain their professional activity. Legislation intended to create additional protections for journalists has been stalled for more than a year and is unlikely to move forward any time soon.
Iraq is obligated to respect the right to freedom of expression of all persons under international law and Iraq's constitution. However, its national laws and regulations are inconsistent with these obligations. As Human Rights Watch has documented in this report, the Iraqi government can use these laws to revoke or suspend broadcasting licenses and bring charges against individuals.
Two pieces of legislation designed to facilitate the work of journalists are stalled in Iraq's parliament, the Council of Representatives: the Access to Information Law, which ensures the right of journalists to obtain public information, and the Journalists' Protection Law, which aims to protect media workers and compensate them for injuries sustained while working. Local press freedom advocates and journalists expressed concerns that the Journalists' Protection Law should apply broadly and protect all journalists including those working in new media. The law currently defines "journalist" narrowly as someone who works for an established news outlet and is affiliated with the Iraqi Journalists' Syndicate.
[. . .]
Journalists who uncover corruption or criticize senior government officials are at particular risk of abuse.
Two television presenters, famous in Iraq for provocative shows that criticize the government, said they had been beaten by security officials on different occasions over the past two years. Human Rights Watch viewed one video filmed by his cameraman in which Iraqi security officials punched one of the presenters and attempted to drag him into a van during a taping on a busy Baghdad street in 2009.
Since the two presenters are well known, security forces on the streets of Baghdad can easily recognize them. In the fall of 2009, they said police detained the pair for allegedly not properly stopping at a Baghdad checkpoint. One officer slapped the passenger on the head and shouted, "You Ba'athist!" Six or seven police dragged them out of the car, kicking and beating them. The police arrested and took them to a police station. Although the police officially charged them with running a checkpoint, the line of questioning during their interrogation was political. An officer spat on one of the journalists and asked them, "Why do you incite uprisings against the government?" and "Why do you glorify Saddam?" The
police dropped the charges and released the pair after their television station intervened.

A journalist tells HRW, "In Basra, security forces act with complete disdian and disrespect for journalists." Another, also in Basra explains that security forces detained them and confiscated their equipment for no reason last year. Nouri's been prime minister since 2006. He can't blame it on those who came before him. And while the US media never wanted to address reality (AFP and BBC did address it), Nouri came to power promising to attack the media. His 'four-point initiative' (apparently now completely forgotten) that was going to curb violence never did that. But US outlets gushed over it. They reduced it to a three-point plan, though. They didn't convey to US audiences that one of the points was curbing the media, restricting freedom of the press. (This was in the fall of 2006. In the summer of 2006, he was touting a seven-objective plan. Before that, in May 2006, Nouri had a 24-point plan. As with most things he's proposed, all went no where.) The four-point initiative included a governmental media oversight body which would monitor reporting for that pesky 'bias' known as truth.
Reuters notes the following violence from Tuesday: a Mosul bombing left four people injured, a Mosul roadside bombing left ten people wounded, two Ramadi roadside bombs left five people injured and a Shirqat roadside bombign injured one police officer; and for today's violence they note that a Mosul roadside bombing claimed the life of 1 Iraqi soldier (two more injured) and that a Baghdad home invasion in which 1 Christian male was stabbed to death. Vatican Radio reports, "The European Union Council on Monday issued a statement denouncing intolerance, discrimination and violence on the basis of religion or belief, which specifically condemned acts of violence against Christians and their places of worship." Religious minorities have been targeted throughout the Iraq War. The latest wave of targeting Iraqi Christians began October 31st with the assault on Our Lady of Salvation Church in Baghdad causing many Iraqi Christians in Baghdad and Mosul to flee to northern Iraq or another country.
The Iraq War hits the 8 year mark next month. That's a long war with a lot of details. Molly Ivins and Lou Dubose noted in Bushwhacked: Life in George W. Bush's America, "The most serious split between ourselves and our allies was over the war in Iraq. As White House chief of staff Andrew Card observed, 'You don't roll out a new product in August,' so it was September 2002 before the administration officially announced it planned to attack a country that had not attacked us or anyone else." Two weeks ago, during a phone conversation with a friend (poli sci professor, leftist), I mentioned Card's statement in passing -- related to the current White House -- and he didn't remember it. I had to jog his mind (we'd discussed it in real time -- I have a memory like an elephant). He's smart, publishes papers and has a lot of things on his mind and had forgotten that moment. Which is why refreshers may be needed. On this week's Law and Disorder, Scott Bonn of Drew University discussed the early stages of the war and the selling of it with Michael Ratner, Michael S. Smith and Heidi Boghosian. As a refresher, it may be of value to someone. And I think the show's almost always worth listening to and one of the top five shows on public radio. But the segment didn't make it for me. If you're claiming you've developed a new "integrated and interdisciplinary theory," you should be able to use that "integrated and interdisciplinary theory." I did not find his book helpful or needed. I thought it was a total waste. If the one of the main points of the book is that the Iraq War is wrong, then what does that say for today?
The book said nothing. It's nothing but grudge f**king masking for scholarship -- and it's not a theory. A theory -- even in poli sci -- is tested and all Bonn has is a hypothesis. (An academic who does not know the difference isn't much of an academic.)
The Iraq War continues. Your grudge f**king didn't do a damn thing. It gave us a synopsis, a "last time on Gossip Girl" -- several seasons old. It offers nothing for today. It is no help at all to ending the Iraq War and Bonn can't even admit that the Iraq War goes on. I don't have time for that crap. He would probably argue (and makes this point in both the book and on the show) that if you don't learn from history, you're doomed to repeat it.
Repeat what?
The Iraq War has not ended. Bonn can't even use that tired bromide correctly. The point of "learn from history" is that if you don't learn, you will be trapped in a repeating cycle for years and years. The Iraq War has not ended. I don't know how else to put it. In the truest sense of that bromide, you're dealing with past events, not current ones, not ongoing ones -- that's what the term "history" in that sentence means.
Michael Ratner gave him a chance to somehow bring it to something beyond Bush bashing. All he could offer was he respects Barack Obama. Well good but don't pretend you wrote a book worth reading about the Iraq War because if you're truly appalled by it, you're not just appalled it started 8 years ago, you're also appalled it continues. I don't have time to obsess over the past. I'm not going to forgive the War Criminals of the previous administration but I'm also not going to pretend that in January 2009 the Iraq War ended.
Look at the Human Rights Watch report issued this week. Those actions described are the result of the puppet government. And Barack fought to keep Nouri al-Maliki prime minister. The hosts also speak with Stephanie Coontz. I'm sure that was much more productive. (I was asked to note the program, I called a friend who records it each week and said, "Play me the Iraq segment." That's all I heard. He also told me that there's a lively discussion of Clarence Thomas at the top of the show.) Bonn was often highly uninformed. (The world does not begin and end with the US. If discussing polling and why something's polled, it's not necessary to go to an outlandish they're-out-to-get-me hypothesis if you know what other countries are pushing for and if there's a global media mogul you're discussing, you need to be aware of the world holdings and not think you're an expert just because you keep mentioning one of the US holdings.) To hear about attitudes towards the Iraq War before and after it started (as well as today) the latest War News Radio features a segment with Richard Sobel that's heavy on facts. Sobel, Peter Furia and Bethany Barrett are the editors of the forthcoming (May 2011) Public Opinion and International Intervention: Lessons from the Iraq War.
It's because the Iraq War hasn't ended that two actions are taking place. This Friday,
Iraq Veterans Against the War have this event:

February 25, 2011 9:30 - 10:30 am
Busboys & Poets, Langston room
14th & V st NW Washington DC
This report back will be to answer questions from media and the peace movement about the recent trip back to Iraq by members of Iraq Veterans Against the War. The war is not over but it is not the same as it was in years past. What is the humanitarian situation in Iraq?
How can we do reparations and reconciliation work?
Speakers are all returning from this delegation and include:
Geoff Millard (IVAW) Hart Viges (IVAW) Haider Al-Saedy (Iraqi Health Now)
Richard Rowely (
Big Noise Films)

Also because the Iraq War is not over, next month there will be a march which A.N.S.W.E.R. and March Forward! and others will be taking part in this action:

March 19 is the 8th anniversary of the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Iraq today remains occupied by 50,000 U.S. soldiers and tens of thousands of foreign mercenaries.

The war in Afghanistan is raging. The U.S. is invading and bombing Pakistan. The U.S. is financing endless atrocities against the people of Palestine, relentlessly threatening Iran and bringing Korea to the brink of a new war.

While the United States will spend $1 trillion for war, occupation and weapons in 2011, 30 million people in the United States remain unemployed or severely underemployed, and cuts in education, housing and healthcare are imposing a huge toll on the people.

Actions of civil resistance are spreading.

On Dec. 16, 2010, a veterans-led civil resistance at the White House played an important role in bringing the anti-war movement from protest to resistance. Enduring hours of heavy snow, 131 veterans and other anti-war activists lined the White House fence and were arrested. Some of those arrested will be going to trial, which will be scheduled soon in Washington, D.C.

Saturday, March 19, 2011, the anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, will be an international day of action against the war machine.

Protest and resistance actions will take place in cities and towns across the United States. Scores of organizations are coming together. Demonstrations are scheduled for San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and more.


In legal news, a verdict has been rendered in the case of a man who killed his daughter. Dropping back to the November 3, 2009 snapshot:

In the US, Noor Faleh Almaleki has died. The 20-year-old Iraqi woman was intentionally run over October 20th (see the October 21st snapshot) while she and Amal Edan Khalaf were running errands (the latter is the mother of Noor's boyfriend and she was left injured in the assault). Police suspected Noor's father, Faleh Hassan Almaleki, of the assault and stated the probable motive was that he felt Noor had become "too westernized." As noted in the October 30th snapshot, Faleh Hassan Almaleki was finally arrested after going on the lamb -- first to Mexico, then flying to London where British authorities refused him entry and he was sent back to the US and arrested in Atlanta. Karan Olson and CNN note that the judge has set the man's bail at $5 million. Philippe Naughton (Times of London) adds, "Noor died yesterday, having failed to recover consciousness after the attack. The other woman, Amal Khalaf, was also seriously injured but is expected to survive. "


This year the trial finally commenced. Bill Chappel (The Two-Way, NPR) reports, "A Phoenix jury has convicted an Iraqi immigrant of second-degree murder [yesterday] in the death of his daughter in what prosecutors say was an 'honor killing'." Carlin DeGuerin Miller (CBS News) adds, "Almaleki was also convicted of aggravated assault for the injuries suffered by the older woman. Peoria, Ariz. detective Christopher Boughey testified that Faleh Almaleki confessed to him during a lengthy interrogation that he did in fact intend to cause his daughter's death. Prosecutor Laura Reckart played a recording in which Boughey and another detective confronted Almaleki with their suspicions that he ran over Noor Almaleki because she had become too westernized and brought disrespect to the family." Lisa Halverstadt and Michel Kiefer (Arizona Republic -- link has text and video) report that sentencing was supposed to take place this afternoon, "At sentencing, he faces 10 to 22 years in prison for second-degree murder, 5 to 15 years for aggravated assault, and 2 to 8 ¾ years for leaving the scene of the accident. All of those sentences would be stacked on top of each other, meaning Al-Maleki can face 17 to 45 ¾ years in prison." However, I'm told the sentencing is April 15th. We'll cover the sentencing whenever it is and I'm sorry for the confusion.


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