Friday, May 4, 2012

7 men, 1 woman

Today on Talk of the Nation (NPR), the guests were Kim Janda, Amy Farrah Fowler, Anthony Leiserwitz, Richard Martin, Arjun Makhijani, Tadd Truscott, Tony Bradley and Nicholas Carr.

Now for something really important.  Who the F**K gives a damn about Robert DeNiro or what he thinks about politics?

I don't like Susan Sarandon.  But she's done some work before she speaks.  Alec Baldwin? I'm more likely to agree with him on politics.  But agree or disagree, he's someone who does the work.  Jane Fonda, Alan Alda, etc.  Those are people who've done the work.

I'm not one of those people who think only people who agree with me have a right to speak.  I never agree with Patricia Heaton, for example.  She's a right-winger.  But she does the work. 

Someone like Robert De Niro?

Come on, all he's about it, "We got us a celebrity in the White House!"

De Niro's also a bad actor who can't relate to any woman onscreen.


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



Friday, May 4, 2012.  Chaos and violence continue, Iraqis continue to be targeted in their own country, Nouri's suddenly declaring he's fine with the call for a national conference, Iraqiya says the Erbil Agreement must be implemented, Ibrahim al-Jaafari says the conference must take place next week, Tareq al-Hashemi hold a press conference and more.
 
Starting in the US with news of the latest faux left move.  The Coalition to Protest at the DNC talked a good game and got some support.  We didn't support it because they were so obviously fake.  But they fooled a number of people.  Today the organization posted a statement which begins: "It is with great enthusiasm that we announce that the Coalition to Protest at the DNC is changing its name to the Coalition to March on Wall Street South -- Building People's Power during the DNC.  This decision was made unanimously by the steering committee of the coalition, made up of representatives from more than 60 organizations."
 
Michael Cooper (New York Times) reports on the name change and includes this:
 
"It shows a real lack of integrity, I think, to let Democrats off the hook," said Cindy Sheehan, the well-known antiwar protester whose son, Casey, was killed in Iraq, adding that the name change was making her rethink her plans to attend protests in Charolotte.  "They are as much the party of war as the Republicans, the party of Wall Street."
 
 
Cooper also quotes "veteran antiwar activist" John Penley who wrote "What a sellout!" online. Penely also wrote:

 
Listen my OWS friends if you are going to support the Democratic Party and vote for Obama for president and encourage people not to protest at the DNC in Charlotte and only protest the Republicans in Tampa well lets leave as friends I still love ya but please defriend me so I can make room for those who have not joined team Obama or the GD Republicans.
 
What Penely fears is exactly what took place in 2008.  Here's a few things that would-be sell outs on the left should consider in the future.
 
1) A Democrat who can't speak up for what's right during the campaign out of fear that he or she will lose the race is not one that normally ever speaks up after the race is won. Because there's always another race and when there's not -- say you've two-termed it out of the White House -- there's still so much corporate dollars to be made.
 
Right now in Arizona, there's a ridiculous woman running for public office.  She's a War Hawk and a number of left voters (we were in the state on Monday and Tuesday) are kidding themselves that, because when Bully Boy Bush was in office, when she gets into office, she'll suddenly become Dennis Kucinich.  She won't.  She was in peace groups in 2003.  If she wanted to be a part of that, she still would be.  She left those to cheer on War Hawk Barack and that's where she's at now.  She's not playing voters for fools and pretending to be something she's not but a number of voters are willingly playing the fool as they rush to convince themselves that she's really a secret peace vote.
 
2) If you can't hold someone's feet to the fire right now at this moment, chances are you never will.  In 2007 and 2008, Tom Hayden, Laura Flanders and others made repeated claims that they would hold Barack's feet to the fire but not yet, you understand, he had to win the primary first.  But, buster, once he did, step back because they were going to hold his feet to the fire.
 
It never happened.  And as they look back, I would hope Tom and Laura both now realize that they were wrong to stay silent when Barack utilized homophobia in 2007 to solidify the primary vote in South Carolina.  (If you missed this in real time, refer to Kevin Alexander Gray and Marshall Derks' "Obama's Big Gay and Black Problem.") If a candidate who wants your vote, who needs your vote, is someone you're not comfortable pressing on issues that matter today, that's someone's feet you'll never hold to the fire.
 
3) Refusing to make demands and hold accountable someone running for public office leads not to a stronger spine (for you or your candidate of choice) but to more craven actions.  Doubt that?  From 2008's "Editorial: Raw emotions (Ava and C.I.):"
 

 
Now maybe everyone's decided to take Katha Pollitt's stated oath which she revealed when she felt 'forced' to call out Tom Hayden's latest sexism last April: "I want to do my bit for Obama, so I vowed I would give up attacking Obama-supporting progressives for the duration of the presidential campaign." Guess what, Katha, we don't do our "bit for" feminism by staying silent. That was in April that she broke (and announced) her vow -- one she's gone back to. So, basically, at the start of the year, Pollitt's admitting, she decided to let sexist attacks from Barack's campaign and his supporters slide until after the election. Wow.
 
See how quickly doing her part went from not calling out a politician to not calling out his supporters?  Here's reality:  Free speech is meant to be used.  It's not a snazzy little Chanel number that you hide in the closet while you wait for just the right occasion to sport it.
 
4) Though you're an adult, always grasp that there are people just coming of age and there are children watching.  Remember that when you want to preach silence and not accountability.  And grasp that a large part of the reason Barack is still not held accountable has to do with the behavior you moldeled for others.
 
Think of the above as guidelines.  There will always be exceptions.  As Betty noted last night, one of the loudest members of the Cult of St. Barack was able to break free.  David Lindorff most recently has compiled a list of the crimes for which Barack should be impeached.  Again, those who self-censor to 'help' candidates create the climate in which hypocrisy regins supreme.  AsGlenn Greenwald notes:
 
One last point: for the full eight years of the Bush administration, Bush, Cheney and scores of other political and media supporters of their militarism who had not served in the military were routinelyderided by Democrats and progressives as "chickenhawks" (an accusation, which, with some caveats and modifications, I supported). What happened to that? Now we have a President whom Bergen hails as "one of the most militarily aggressive American leaders in decades" despite having not served a day in the military, and hordes of non-military-serving Democrats who cheer him as he does so. Similarly, George Bush was mercilessly mocked for declaring himself a "war President," yet here is Bergen -- writing under the headline "Warrior in Chief" --  twice christening the non-serving Obama as our "Warrior President." Did the concept of chickenhawkism, like so many other ostensible political beliefs, cease to exist on January 20, 2009?
 
 
Early today, AFP's Prashant Rao Tweeted that Tareq al-Hashemi had announced a press conference in Turkey for later in the day. When he faced the reporters, AFP reports, he declared he had "no faith in the Iraqi justice system and fears for his life." Nouri has been calling for al-Hashemi to be tried on charges of terrorism.  Nouri al-Maliki's political slate State of Law came in second to al-Hashemi's Iraqiya. 
 
The political crisis was already in effect when December 2011 rolled around.  Iraqiya announced a  boycott of the council and the Parliament, that's in the December 16th snapshot and again in aDecember 17th entry.  Tareq al-Hashemi is a member of Iraqiya but he's not in the news at that point.  Later, we'll learn that Nouri -- just returned from DC where he met with Barack Obama -- has ordered tanks to surround the homes of high ranking members of Iraqiya. Saturday, December 17th, Liz Sly (Washington Post) reported, "In recent days, the homes of top Sunni politicians in the fortified Green Zone have been ringed by tanks and armored personnel carriers, and rumors are flying that arrest warrants will be issued for other Sunni leaders."  December 18th is when al-Hashemi and Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq are pulled from a Baghdad flight to the KRG but then allowed to reboard the plane. December 19th is when the arrest warrant is issued for Tareq al-Hashemi by Nouri al-Maliki who claims the vice president is a 'terrorist.' .  With the permission and blessing of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and KRG President Massoud Barzani, al-Hashemi remained in the KRG.  At the start of April, he left the KRG on a diplomatic tour that took him to Qatar, then Saudi Arabia and finally Turkey where he remains currently.
 
The Journal of Turkish Weekly quotes him stating today, "I booked a ticket to retun to Irbil last Tuesday after completing my schedule in Turkey, but a colleague called in the last minute and asked me to delay my return for a few days and wait for a more suitable dialogue atmosphere in Iraq."  This delay may have something to do with the current push for a national conference in Iraq.  What is known is that his trial -- in absentia -- was supposed to start yesterday in Baghdad; however, it was delayed until next Thursday.  al-Hashemi believes he can't receive a fair trial in Baghdad.  He's right.
 
This was demonstrated February 16th though the press wanted to play dumb.  From that day's snapshot, this is where we take the various details and demonstrate how the press could have reported it:
 
IRAQI VICE PRESIDENT PROVEN CORRECT
After many claims that he could not receive a fair trial, Tareq al-Hashemi's
assertions were backed up today by the Iraqi judiciary.
BAGHDAD -- Today a nine-member Iraqi judiciary panel released results of an investigation they conducted which found the Sunni Vice President of Iraq was guilty of terrorism.  Monday, December 19th, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki swore out an arrest warrant for Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi who had arrived in the KRG the previous day.  Mr. al-Hashemi refused to return to Baghdad insisting he would not receive a fair trial.  Instead, he was the guest of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and KRG President Massoud Barzani.
During the weeks since the arrest warrant was issued, Mr. al-Hashemi has repeatedly attempted to get the trial moved to another venue stating that Prime Minister al-Maliki controlled the Baghdad judiciary.  Mr. al-Maliki insisted that the vice president return and that he would get a fair trial.
Today's events demonstrate that Mr. al-Hashemi was correct and there is no chance of a fair trial in Iraq.  This was made clear by the judiciary's announcement today.
A judiciary hears charges in a trial and determines guilt; however, what the Baghdad judiciary did today was to declare Tareq al-Hashemi guilt of the charges and to do so before a trial was held. 
Not only do the events offer a frightening glimpse at the realities of the Iraqi legal system, they also back up the claims Mr. al-Hashemi has long made.
 
That is not how the Iraqi courts work, not according to the country's Constitution.  Judges are impartial.  Judges do not declare guilt outside of a courtroom and no one is guilty in Iraq until convicted in a courtroom.  The fact that the judges felt no need to follow the Constitution, the fact that they held a press conference to announce the guilt of someone in a case they knew wouldn't appear on their docket until May goes to the fact that they are not impartial and that Tareq al-Hashemi would not have received a fair trial.
 
In addition, it appears that one of his bodyguards who 'confessed' was tortured to death.  March 21st, al-Hashemi made that charge publicly.  From the March 22nd snapshot:
 
Since December, those working for Tareq al-Hashemi have been rounded up by Nouri's forces.  At the end of January, Amnesty International was calling for the Baghdad government "to reveal the whereabouts of two women arrested earlier this month, apparently for their connection to the country's vice-president.  Rasha Nameer Jaafer al-Hussain and Bassima Saleem Kiryakos were arrested by security forces at their homes on 1 January.  Both women work in the media team of Iraqi Vice-President Tareq al-Hashemi, who is wanted by the Iraqi authorities on terrorism-related charges."  Yesterday, al-Hashemi noted that his bodyguard had died and stated that it appeared he had died as a result of torture.
 Alsumaria notes Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi is calling for the international community to call out the death of his bodyguard, Amer Sarbut Zeidan al-Batawi, who died after being imprisoned for three months. al-Hashemi has stated the man was tortured to death. The photo Alsumaria runs of the man's legs (only the man's legs) appear to indicate he was tortured, welts and bruises and scars. 

March 23rd, Human Rights Watch is calling for an investigation into the death:
 
 
(Beirut) – Iraqi authorities should order a criminal investigation into allegations that security forces tortured to death a bodyguard of Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi, Human Rights Watch said today.

Iraqi authorities released Amir Sarbut Zaidan al-Batawi's body to his family on March 20, 2012, about three months after arresting him for terrorism. His family told Human Rights Watch that his body displayed signs of torture, including in several sensitive areas. Photographs taken by the family and seen by Human Rights Watch show what appear to be a burn mark and wounds on various parts of his body.

"The statements we heard and photos we saw indicate that Iraqi security officers may have tortured Amir Sarbut Zaidan al-Batawi to death while he was in their custody," said
Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. "It's essential for the Iraqi government to investigate his death and report publicly what they find."

The family said that al-Batawi's death certificate listed no cause of death. They said that before his arrest, the 33-year-old married father of three was in excellent health.

"I could barely recognize him," a close relative told Human Rights Watch on March 22. "There were horrible marks and signs of torture all over his body. He had lost about 17 kilos [37.5 pounds] from the day they arrested him."

Iraqi authorities have denied the torture allegations. On March 22, Lt. Gen. Hassan al-Baydhani, chief of staff of Baghdad's security command center and a judicial spokesman, said al-Batawi died of kidney failure and other conditions after refusing treatment. When asked by reporters about the photographic evidence that al-Batawi had been tortured, Baydhani replied, "It is easy for Photoshop to show anything," referring to a digital photo-editing software.

As the United States was pulling its last remaining troops from Iraq in December 2011, Iraqi authorities issued an arrest warrant for al-Hashemi on charges he was running death squads. Al-Hashemi has taken refuge in Iraqi Kurdistan and refused to return to Baghdad, saying he cannot receive a fair trial. Kurdistan Regional Government authorities have so far declined to hand him over.

An unknown number of other members of al- Hashemi's security and office staff have been arrested since late December and are also in custody, including two women. On March 22, al-Hashemi told Human Rights Watch, "I have made repeated requests to the government to find out who else in my staff has been arrested and where they are being held, but they have not responded."

Human Rights Watch called on the Iraqi government to release the names of all those detained and the charges against them, and to ensure that they have access to lawyers and medical care.
 
 
Nouri's shown no concern about any of that.
 
Marina Ottaway and Danial Kaysi's [PDF format warning] "The State Of Iraq"  (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace) notes the events since mid-December: 



Within days of the official ceremonies marking the end of the U.S. mission in Iraq, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki moved to indict Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi on terrorism charges and sought to remove Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq from his position, triggering a major political crisis that fully revealed Iraq as an unstable, undemocractic country governed by raw competition for power and barely affected by institutional arrangements.  Large-scale violence immediately flared up again, with a series of terrorist attacks against mostly Shi'i targets reminiscent of the worst days of 2006.
But there is more to the crisis than an escalation of violence.  The tenuous political agreement among parties and factions reached at the end of 2010 has collapsed.  The government of national unity has stopped functioning, and provinces that want to become regions with autonomous power comparable to Kurdistan's are putting increasing pressure on the central government.  Unless a new political agreement is reached soon, Iraq may plunge into civil war or split apart.

That potential may -- the fear of it -- may be prompting some efforts at action.  Though, as usual, Jalal Talabani tries to wall paper over it.  Today he tells Jane Arraf (Christian Science Monitor), "We Iraqis had experiences many times on the brink of civil war -- we retreated from that and we came back to dialogue and national unity."   Al Rafidayn reports that National Alliance leader Ibrahim al-Jaafari stated today that it's important to hold the national conference within a week and for all political blocs to participate.  Yesterday, Ipek Yezdani (Hurriyet) reported that Kurdistan Democratic Party spokesperson Cafer Ibrahim states that if things can't be worked out with Nouri, Ibrahim al-Jaafari becomes the choice for the new nominee.  Dar Addustour notes that Nouri is now echoing the cry for all political blocs to participate.  Al Mada notes that Nouri released that statement after meeting with Ammar al-Hakim, leader of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq. Alsumaria explains that the statement also included accusations by Nouri that unnamed others were attempting to break up the National Alliance.  

The National Alliance is a Shi'ite grouping which includes Nouri's State of Law, Moqtada al-Sadr's bloc, ISCI and others.  Iraqiya, the political slate that came in first in the March 2010 elections, is a mixed sect political slate led by Shi'ite Ayad Allawi.  Other prominent members include Sunnis Osama al-Nujaifi, Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi and Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq. Alsumaria reports Iraqiya announced today that they will not attend the national conference unless it is agreed that the Erbil Agreement will be implemented.  Saturday, Allawi, KRG President Massoud Barzani, Osama al-Nujaifi, Moqtada al-Sadr and others met in Erbil and one of the things they all agreed to was that the Erbil Agreement would be re-instated.

Iraqiya states that if Nouri is serious about resolving the political crisis, he will implement the Erbil Agreement.  Their spokesperson Haider Mulla further notes that they are used to Nouri's promises but they are frustrated by his inability to follow words with actions.

Meanwhile Ammar al-Hakim has released a statement.  Al Mada notes that he states that Iraq needs a strategic vision that all can agree to, that they need to commit to implementing agreementts , that there needs to be successful soltions that serve the citizens; and that there needs to be transparency.   
How serious is Nouri?  He's given 'support' before.  For example, at the end of February 2011, he gave lip service to the protests and the Iraqi people being important and, give him 100 days, and he'd clean up corruption and meet the protesters demands.   He was given 100 days and did nothing.  He's now been given over 400 days and still done nothing.  Ali Issa (Jadaliyya -- links is text and audio) interviews Hashmey Muhsin al-Saadawi who is the Electrical Workers Union in Iraq and "the first woman vice-president of the General Federation of Iraqi Workers in Basra." (IVAW's Executive Director Jose Vasquez noted the interview.) Excerpt:
 
AI: What is your opinion of the Arab uprising-style movement in Iraq that started 25 February 2011, and has been called by some " the forgotten uprising ?" Did unions participate in the mobilizations? Since recently they have been smaller in number do you think they will come back? Finally, do you have any explanation for the lack of media coverage, even in the Arabic-language media?

HMS: Iraq has seen successive waves of sit-ins, demonstrations, and protest activities. They have been the result of the continued hardships in daily life and lack of services for people, as well as the deterioration of security since April 2003 that I described. On top of all that, are the efforts to limit civil liberties and silence people, while cementing the hated ethno-sectarian-quota system; we consider all this an open and direct violation of the constitution. Many sectors of society have participated in these protests: youth, women, civil society groups, unions, and the newer pro-democracy formations.
The right of citizens to demonstrate, express opinions and take positions is a constitutional right, and the government and its apparatuses should provide the necessary amount of security to whoever is exercising it. It should also listen closely to people's legal demands and seek to satisfy them. As well as pay attention to their calls for reform of the political process, and correct its course on the path to building a civil, democratic state, based on the text of the constitution that citizens voted for in October 2005.
It should be obvious that our Iraq is not isolated from what is happening, in the countries of the region, though it might differ in its internal dynamics and specifics. The storms of change around us have also energized our people to break the wall of silence and take the streets. The role of the youth in this movement has been especially key, with them taking advantage of new social media technology.
But the way the Iraqi government and its apparatuses have treated the protest movements is a serious violation of the constitutional right to freedom of expression and peaceful protest, and an attempt to stifle the citizens' practicing of that right. That is when the people understood that the first and last concern of influential ruling political blocs is to look after their own interests, struggle with each other over power, and divide the pie among themselves, without any regard for ordinary people living under cruel conditions in a country whose yearly budget exceeds 100 billion dollars.
The protest actions of 25 February 2011 were a great success, as were the actions preceding and following, in expressing the clear and just demands of the people, despite being exposed to attempts to distort the depth of the movement and its goals. Then there has been the intrusion of the Prime Minister's cabinet, with all its influence, to try to stop it, the attempts of the government as a whole to abort it, and all the surveillance and incarceration that followed.  
 
Whether to expect the return of the protests depends on the reasons that lead to them breaking out. To this day, none of the protesters' demands have been met, so if the government continues on its present path, disregarding people's rights, it is very likely the protests will return.
As for media coverage, there had been coverage from several TV stations, but the government put pressure on them, and shut down some of their offices. In addition, a good number of journalists were beaten by infiltrators at the protests—thugs--while others were arrested and detained. And of course there have been assassinations of journalists – those brave, honorable people– including the writer and poet, Hadi al-Mahdi.
 
 
Hadi al-Mahdi is among the targeted in Iraq.  The journalist was assassinated in his homeSeptember 7, 2011.  He was shot in the head in his home.  No sign of a break in.  And the killer has still not been found.  Earlier this week,  The Journalistic Freedoms Observatory released the report covering the last twelve months and they've found an increase in violence and restrictions and attempted restrictions on journalists.   They note an American journalist was arrested and held for five days without any legal justification while Iraqi journalists were detained in various ways and also attacked and kidnapped by armed groups.   At least 3 journalists were killed in the 12 months and at least 31 were beaten  -- usually by military and security forces who were sometimes in civilian clothes.  65 journalists were arrested.
 
As bad as that is, journalists aren't the only ones targeted.  In February, Iraqi youth began to be targeted for being or being thought to be gay or Emo. Alana Marchant (UCA Journalism News) provides this summary: 
 
Iraq's Moral Police have targeted the 'phenomenon', releasing a statement on the interior ministry's website declaring their intent to 'eliminate' the trend. This has resulted in over 100 young people being stoned to death, simply for their appearance and the music they listen to. In Iraq, he 'emo phenomenon' is being linked to devil worshipping, homosexuality, even being a vampire. In a country that is overwhelmingly Muslim, wearing 'strange, tight clothes with skulls on' and having nose and tongue piercings is being viewed as a danger to society, and signs of 'satanism'.
After being granted approval by the Ministry of Education, Iraq's Moral Police entered schools in Baghdad and pinpointed students with 'emo' appearances, according to the interior ministry's statement.
'A group armed men dressed in civilian clothing led dozens of teenagers to secluded areas…stoned them to death, and then disposed their bodies on garbage dumpsters…' is what activists told the Cairo-based al-Akhbar website. These armed men are said to be 'one of the most extremist religious groups' in Iraq.
 
 
LGBT campaign group AllOut and the Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) have madean emergency appeal for cash to save the lives of gay Iraqis.
The organizations say they want to help 30 Iraqis 'marked for death' because they are 'perceived to be gay'.
 
 
 
 
QUESTION: In Stockholm, according to my memorandas, you answered on a question from me: "I promise you, if the USA left Iraq, the Iranians and their militias in the police and the army will directly do the same!" Now, when the United States of America nearly has left Iraq, and Iran's influens in Iraq augments day after day, will your promise hold?
 
 
ANSWER: I still hold to my promise, but I said "If the United States of America left Iraq", and in truth it has not left. Should the collapse that happened to America in Vietnam happen to America in Iraq, all its allies and agents would have collapsed with it, and at their forefront, Iran.

But the situation in Iraq differs for USA. When the troops sensed the dangers of its situation, words from Bush was leaked, expressing the size of their fears:

"we promoted claims of victory in order to capture the spirit of fears of defeat in the hearts of our soldiers, and when Bush realized that the end in Iraq may be the same as that in Vietnam, he proceeded to withdraw from Iraq in a novel manner, a quiet, slow and unannounced withdrawal."
The withdrawal of most of its troops has taken nearly two years.
In order to avoid the bitterness of defeat to split the American psyche, America came up with the so called Strategic Framework Agreement with its client authority, that enables it to maintain a concentrated and capabel presence.
According to confirmed information available to us, there are now 6 American bases with air and missile forces; armed security companies made up of nearly 50,000 personnel, and a giant embassy and consulates with no less than 13,000 officials and security. In addition there is the government's police and security services that are still subject to the will and orders of the Occupier through the latter's domination of Iraqi senior officers and officials who receive orders directly from the Americans.
To all this comes the presence of the allied Iranian influence and queues of its agents, spies and traitors, gangs and militias.
The New York Times mentioned that the special extended period for the presence of the American Army in Iraq will be prolonged onwards into the unknown, pointing to the existence of a secret agreement between the government of PM Nourie Maliki and American officials for the presence of American Forces beyond the specified time limit.
By the way, in spite of America's concern to convince world public opinion of its withdrawal, as well as its strict observance of secrecy concerning its soldier`s and security companie`s activities, some accidents and incidents took place that exposed their activities and embarrassed the Americans.
For example, the forced emergency landing of an American army helicopter near the Tigris River in Baghdad on 26.1.2012, and the positioning of several checkpoints by the Americans on 18. 1. 2012, carrying out questioning of ordinary citizens in the Shomali District, south of Babil Province, as well as the Drones (the unmanned spying aircraft) that roam Iraqi airspace all the time. All this has been written about by the American press such as The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times and New York Times, after the supposed withdrawal. They also reported about American military aircraft that inspected and secured Iraq's air space during the Arab Summit Meeting in Baghdad on 29.4.2012.
The coming days will reveal even more in this respect, because of observer`s preliminary estimations concerning the size of remaining American troops. They will point to the fact that there is no less than a quarter of their original size before the announcement for their withdrawal.
So who so ever states that the American Occupation has gone is very much mistaken, and the Association of Muslim Scholars in the person of its Secretary General had warned the Iraqi People in an open letter, after Obama's announcement of the withdrawal, that the Americans are untruthful and that they have not completely withdrawn and that they continue to occupy Iraq.
 

Thursday, May 3, 2012

5 men, 1 woman and sexist Fresh Air

Today on Talk of the Nation (NPR), the guests were Margot Adler, Todd Gitlin, Donald Critchlow  Daniel Jones, Zac Bissonnette and David Childs.  Awful show.  Awful.  The first three? They were talking Occupy.  Todd Gitlin is the voice of Occupy?

Todd Gitlin is the voice of Depends.  Todd Gitlin is the voice of denture cream.

Did you, like me, make the mistake of catching Fresh Air on NPR today?  Julia Louis-Dreyfuss was the guest.

I thought, for example, that Wanda Sykes might come up.  That their five seasons as a comedy duo on The New Adventures of Old Christine might come up.

But no.

Dave Davies is a White man.

He's not just a White man, Dave Davies is an enemy to me and every other Black woman in the country.

He couldn't shut up about Seinfeld.  He played two long, LONG, clips.

Julia won the Emmy for New Adventures, not for Seinfeld.

But White over the hill men don't like funny women, they especially don't like funny Black women.  So we didn't get to hear one damn word about: What was it like to work with Wanda Sykes?  Your Christine and her Barb ended up married to each other, what was that like?  The two of you have been compared to Lucille Ball and Vivian Vance.  Any chance she'll be on your new HBO show?

We didn't get any of that.

Just an over the hill White man babbling on about Seinfeld.  And then babbling on about Saturday Night Live.


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


Thursday, May 3, 2012. Chaos and violence continue, Nouri uses World Press Freedom Day to attack Arab news outlets,
 
In Iraq, the political crisis never ends.  Mustafa Habib (Niqash) notes that Nouri al-Maliki, chief thug of the occupation and prime minister, has the backing of both the US and Iran.  That's because the governments of both enjoy dealing with thugs.  From Habib's article:
 
 
 
The regime itself would appear to agree. "Iraq's hosting the second round of talks is an important step which supports the Iraqi government and gives it great impetus," Abbas al-Bayati, a member of the parliamentary committee on security and defence and an MP for the State of Law political bloc led by al-Maliki, boasted. "Iran and the US agreed to hold the negotiations in Baghdad because the two countries are well aware of the fact that the political and security conditions in Iraq are becoming more stable. And because the two countries realize that Iraq's regional role has developed a lot after its success with the Arab League summit in Baghdad."
Al-Maliki also has the necessary support in the Iraqi Parliament to carry on. His State of Law bloc hasn't had any defections. In fact, it has benefited from defections from other parties, namely almost a dozen from the Badr organisation, a party formerly associated with al-Hakim's Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, as well as the Iraqiya bloc, al-Maliki's main opposition.
Article 61 of the Iraqi Constitution does give local MPs an opportunity to moot a vote of no confidence in leadership.
But to do this they need at least an absolute majority in Parliament and for that, some MPs from the mostly Shiite Muslim alliance that al-Maliki heads would need to defect and vote against him.
Iraqiya leader Ayed Allawi would only need about 20 defections from al-Maliki's alliance to start a vote of no-confidence process. But while some of those engaged with al-Maliki's alliance may criticise some of his policies – al-Hakim and Sadr, for example - they don't look likely to withdraw from the coalition any time soon. Observers say this has a lot to do with those organisations' connections to Iran, which supports al-Maliki's government.
 
There are other (legal) ways of outing Nouri.  But let's remember some of the roots of the crisis first.  From Marina Ottaway and Danial Kaysi's [PDF format warning] "The State Of Iraq"  (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace):
Within days of the official ceremonies marking the end of the U.S. mission in Iraq, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki moved to indict Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi on terrorism charges and sought to remove Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq from his position, triggering a major political crisis that fully revealed Iraq as an unstable, undemocractic country governed by raw competition for power and barely affected by institutional arrangements.  Large-scale violence immediately flared up again, with a series of terrorist attacks against mostly Shi'i targets reminiscent of the worst days of 2006.
But there is more to the crisis than an escalation of violence.  The tenuous political agreement among parties and factions reached at the end of 2010 has collapsed.  The government of national unity has stopped functioning, and provinces that want to become regions with autonomous power comparable to Kurdistan's are putting increasing pressure on the central government.  Unless a new political agreement is reached soon, Iraq may plunge into civil war or split apart. 
 
 
The US backed Nouri. That's Bully Boy Bush and it's also Barack Obama.  In 2006, Iraqi MPs wanted Ibrahim al-Jaafari but the Bush administration said, 'No, you'll take Nouri.  He's stupid and easy for us to control and manipulate.'  In 2010, despite the vote, despite all the crap Barack and his administration spew about supporting democracy, they wanted Nouri.  Bush and Barack and Nouri -- talk about "entangled in embraces that God will never see."  ("The Three Of Us In The Dark," written by Carly Simon and Mike Mainieri, first appears on her Come Upstairs.)  Ipek Yezdani (Hurriyet) reports that Kurdistan Democratic Party spokesperson Cafer Ibrahim states that if things can't be worked out with Nouri, Ibrahim al-Jaafari becomes the choice for the new nominee. Amanda Paul (Today's Zaman) delves into the crisis and concludes:
 
 
While Maliki has so far proven to be the only leader "acceptable" to both the US and Iran, his current trajectory is very dangerous. His actions are undermining the fragile peace between the various sectarian and ethnic groups, with violence and political instability escalating. Centralizing power would face numerous obstacles simply because all parties have foreign allies, and in times of great need, will call on them. The Sunnis would look to Saudi Arabia and Turkey, the Kurds to their buddies in Washington. Maliki is simply increasing instability in a region already in deep turmoil. In order to stop this crisis spiraling further, Maliki needs to engage his political foes and cede to some of their demands, move back to a democratic track and back off from authoritarian tendencies. If he does not, we may very well witness a domino effect breaking up the country, which will impact the entire region.
 
 


A pertinent question in the context is why al-Maliki should choose to have an alliance with Tehran. It is a little puzzling because Iran, which is besieged internationally, has nothing to offer in return to Iraq. On the contrary, Iran will transfer to Iraq its problems such as the sectarian and regional clashes and disputes with the West, apart from the risk of global sanctions if Iraq makes any economic collaboration with Tehran. The situation will return Iraq to square one reminiscent of Iraq's woes during the Saddam regime.
In my view, al-Maliki's drift toward Iran springs from his desire to win the next parliamentary elections. His every move points to that direction. He wants to amend the Iraq's constitution so that he will not have to face any legal hurdle to be prime minister for the third time. He attempts to undermine the authority of the independent High Electoral Commission and to control all decision-making centers and key ministries under him. That is why he wants the ministries of defense, security, intelligence, finance, oil and the central bank. He has taken away powers of all who stood against him including Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi and Deputy Premier Saleh Al-Mutleq. 
If he's correct and Nouri wants to change the Constitution, Tareq al-Hashemi is a problem.  al-Hashemi is the only one who's ever stood up to Nouri, the only with power.  When Nouri's had tried to ram through things, Tareq's used the veto power that the president and the vice presidents of Iraq have.  It only takes one of them to veto.  We saw that with the election law in 2009 when al-Hashemi didn't feel the Iraqi refugees were being properly represented.  If Nouri wants to change the Constitution, he knows the little flunky State of Law installed as v.p. three will do as told.  He knows al-Hashemi's not afraid to tell him no.
 
On the subject of al-Hashemi, this was to be the day of media frenzy in Baghdad.  Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi was supposed to be on trial for terrorism.  The trial has been delayed.  Al Mada notes that yesterday his defense team began insisting that international observers be present in the courtrooom.  Alsumaria notes that his attorneys have also asked that the trial be moved from criminal court to federal court and that State of Law MP Hussein Assadi has declared it doesn't matter because al-Hashemi will be put to death regardless.  And it's that kind of talk that guarantees al-Hashemi can remain in Turkey as long as he wants to.  As Sinem Cengiz (Sunday Zaman) reported this week, even if Nouri filed a formal request for Turkey to hand al-Hashemi over, the Turkish government would have to refuse: "The legal obligations of Turkey stemming from being a signatory to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) prohibit it from handing any person over to another country if the suspect will likely be executed."  Al Arabiya notes that the start of the trial has been postponed until next Thursday.  Sinan Salaheddin (AP) adds that "his lawyers filed motions to have Iraq's Supreme Court direct parliament to set up a special tribunal for high-ranking officials. No opening arguments or evidence were presented on Thursday, and reporters sat in the empty courtroom for several hours before being told the case was postponed until May 10."
 
 
A trial can be delayed.  Can stupidity?  One-time journalist and full-time hack Thomas E. Ricks wrote a stupid column last month insisting that it was time to bring back the draft.  Because stupid tends to attract stupid, today Brian Norris feels the need to write the Washington Post stressing his agreement with War Hawk Ricks' crackpot plan because for his "upper-middle-class students, who know that neither they nor anyone they know closely will be directly affected by the conflicts" the Iraq War and the Afghanistan War "are abstractions.
 
Oh, how the stupidity hurts us all.
 
 
The draft didn't end a war.  The students Norris describes?  They're not going to be drafted.  They weren't in Vietnam.  Ask Dick Cheney and Bully Boy Bush about how attending college got you a deferrment.  The draft was never fair and it wouldn't be fair if it came back tomorrow.  Why?  Because someone wouldn't want their precious to go to war.  They'd be okay with the children of others being sent to die in foreign lands, but their own little precious?  No way.  And that person who is not okay?  Donates a lot of money to one or both of the two major political parties in the US and people start saying, "You know we owe a lot to that money.  We need to respect that money.  Let's develop a waiver to honor that money and all the races that money has allowed us to win."  Unless the return of the draft accompanies a total and complete redistribution of the wealth in the US -- grabbing it all and dividing it equally and making sure that it never stops being equal -- there will always be people who game the system for themselves and their children.  We've already seen that in that environment, bit by bit, new deferrments are created and some don't have to serve. 
 
I'm sorry that a poli sci professor at George Washington University is so stupid.
 
A) Young adults are young adults.  They're not going to make many connections that you at your age make now.  They'll grow to it but quit acting like it's cause for alarm that they want to send someone -- anyone -- to solve world problems.
 
B) They think that way because they're encouraged to by politicians -- Democrats and Republicans -- who disrespect the US military by using it to police the world and worse.  They think that way because politicians and the media sugar coat and lie. 
 
C) If some of Norris' current students went off to war tomorrow, they would bring some different viewpoints back.  If they were fortunate enough to come back.  The notion that we send people into combat to 'wise them up' goes against the core functions of academia.
 
D) I'm real sorry that Norris finds his profession -- educating -- so far beyond the tools and training he possesses but that honestly sounds like a personnel problem -- not personal, personnel -- and maybe the dean can speak to him about it.
 
We don't need a return of the draft.  If there had been a draft in place in 2002 -- not starting in 2002, but already in place -- the military would have gotten the huge numbers for Iraq that the brass said they needed.  The draft wouldn't have stopped the war.  It still would have started. 
 
I could be wrong on this, but I don't think Ann Wright would advocate for the return of the draft.  She's retired State Dept and retired military (retired Colonel Ann Wright).  She'll be in Virginia, speaking Sunday at a free event, open to the public at Great Neck Park, 4:00 pm.  You can ask her there. The drone wars are among the topics she'll be addressing.
 
The draft is not an answer.  It's a knee-jerk reaction and a tool of the whiners who want to play what-if because they can't deal with reality.  And it's also a wet dream of the War Hawks.
 
War Hawks?  Around the world, it's Night Of The Living Dead as various War Hawks surface.  Tim Shipman and Rick Dewsbury (Daily Mail) report War Hawk Tony Blair has "a new spin doctor to put some gloss on" as the Norma Desmond of Death readies a "comback" that will "have forgotten the Iraq war AND how he was forced out of office." The birthday boy turns 59 on Friday but before he blows out the candle, someone should explain to him that it's not that easy.  Sure he made millions since losing the post of prime minister but respect's a lot harder to earn than money.  Nigel Morris (Independent of London) (re)quotes an unidentified "source close to Mr Blair" stating to a magazine, "[Blair] wants to re-engage in the UK.  He has things to say and he thinks it's the right time.  The question is how he re-enters the UK scene without re-entering domestic politics and interfering with the Labour Party."  That's a very good question.  Blair and Gordon Brown ensured the UK had its fill of Labour.  Ed Miliband would do well to note he is only the leader of the party out of power, not prime minister himself.  In other words, his desire to make nice may bite him in the ass.  I know Ed and can't believe he's doing something so stupid. The Guardian has an online poll asking if the British would welcome Blair's return to British politics and 65.7% currently say "no" while the first comment probably says it best, "I'd welcome him to The Hauge, though."
 
The other zombie that refuses to die is Colin Powell, former US Secretary of State and Liar to the United Nations.  Tony Capaccio and Roxana Tiron (Bloomberg News) report that in his upcoming book, Collie writes of his lies to the United Nations, "Yes, a blot, a failure will always be attached to me and my UN presentation.  I am mad mostly at myself for not having smelled the problem.  My instincts failed me."
 
He's still trying to perform that tired song? 
 
 
 
Walters says, unable to look at him while she does -- oh the drama!, "However, you gave the world false, groundless reasons for going to war. You've said, and I quote, 'I will forever be known as the one who made the case for war.' Do you think this blot on your record will stay with you for the rest of your life?"
Powell: Well it's a, it's a, of course it will. It's a blot. I'm the one who presented it on behalf of the United Nations, uh, United States, to the world. And it will always be uh, part of my, uh, my record.
Walters: How painful is it?
Powell: (shrugs) It was -- it *was* painful. (shifts, shrugs) It's painful now.

Has a less convincing scene ever been performed?

Possibly. Such as when Powell informs Walters that the fault lies with the intelligence community -- with those who knew but didn't come forward. Unfortunately for Powell,
FAIR's advisory steered everyone to a Los Angeles Times' article from July 15, 2004:

Days before Secretary of State Colin L. Powell was to present the case for war with Iraq to the United Nations, State Department analysts found dozens of factual problems in drafts of his speech, according to new documents contained in the Senate report on intelligence failures released last week.
Two memos included with the Senate report listed objections that State Department experts lodged as they reviewed successive drafts of the Powell speech. Although many of the claims considered inflated or unsupported were removed through painstaking debate by Powell and intelligence officials, the speech he ultimately presented contained material that was in dispute among State Department experts.
 
 
And nearly seven years later, he's still attempting to soften his lie by calling it a "blot" and still insisting he didn't lie and that he was misled and on and on he goes.
 
On And On He Goes should have been the title of his book.  Instead he's calling the book It Worked For Me.  Well it sure did.  Lying led him to a very cushy post-government life.  Lying held no consequences for him at all.  Except, of course, that he has to live with himself and don't think for a moment that's not eating him up.  Again, Ava and I from 2005:
 
Powell's mea culpa is not only unconvincing, it's illogical. He's glad Saddam Hussein's gone. So why's he concerned with his "blot?" He's completely unconcerned that we're in a war that's based on lies. "I'm glad" he says. Sure he admits that he lied (by proxy -- it's others faults, you understand, nameless people in the intel community), but there's no moral concern. He's only worried about the slug line that now accompanies his name. The "blot." The tag 'liar, liar.'

Colin Powell lied to the United Nations. Not by proxy, he lied. His testimony. A testimony he made the decision to give. Despite objections from people in the department he headed. His accountability pose is hollow and unconvincing. Shrugs? "What are you going to do?" shrugs? That and the shiftiness during the exchange (he can't sit still during the exchange) back up his words. This isn't any big deal to him, that he lied and we went to war. He's just concerned that he's a known liar. For the rest of his life.

This is how he wants to be remembered:

"A good public servant somebody who truly believes in his country. . . . Somebody who cared, somebody who served."

Yeah well, Nixon wanted to be remembered a certain way as well. Liar's the way many remember him now. Liar's the way many will remember Colin Powell.
 
He's a liar.  He's a known liar.  He has no one to blame but himself.  So, in his bid to make more money, he revisits the moment's he'll never be able to change.  This is said to be the best 'co-written' book he's ever put his name to.  Due to the whole 'life lessons' approach. (He shares 13 life lessons/bromides.)  It's brief, each little lesson in the 300 page book, so there's no need for Tony Koltz to pretend Collie's a man of deep thoughts and instead reads like a piece for Parade (not at all surprising, considering the roots of the 'book').   And maybe this decision to table faux wisdom is why Joseph E. Persico -- Colin's 'co-writer' on 2003's My American Journey and 1995's Soldier's Way: An Autobiography -- elected not to write this latest tome?
 
In the book, Collie lies and lies and lies.  Insisting no Iraq War if only they'd known there were no WMD.  If only.  Collie really hopes you're too stupid.  He hopes you forget a great deal or, even better, never knew it in the first place.  Like the big news of May 30, 2003.  From CNN:
 
Jamie McIntyre:  Adding fuel to the controversy, remarks attributed to Deputy U.S. Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, a largely circulated "Vanity Fair" press release alleges Wolfowitz told the magazine that WMD was stressed for "bureaucratic reasons" and that, in effect, weapons of mass destruction had never been the most compelling justification for invading Iraq. A Pentagon spokesman says "Vanity Fair" only used a portion of the deputy secretary's quote. Their omission completely misrepresents what he was saying according to the spokes spokesman. The Pentagon says the full interview of the transcript, posted on its web site, makes it clear that Wolfowitz said weapons of mass destruction was the, quote, "core reason the U.S. went to war with Iraq."
 
Alan Greenspan, the former Federal Reserve chairman, said in an interview that the removal of Saddam Hussein had been "essential" to secure world oil supplies, a point he emphasized to the White House in private conversations before the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
 
We're not done yet.  August 31, 2005, AP reported:
 
President Bush answered growing antiwar protests yesterday with a fresh reason for US troops to continue fighting in Iraq: protection of the country's vast oil fields, which he said would otherwise fall under the control of terrorist extremists.
 
And we could go on and on.  We could bring in the Iraq Inquiry in London, all that public testimony which can be boiled down into: Colin Powell is lying. 
 
Kimberly Dozier wrote a truthful book, Breathing The Fire: Fighting to Survive and Get Back To The FightJim Salemi (Middletown Press) reports the Associated Press journalist spoke Monday evening at Middlesex Community College and signed copies of her book, donating all "the proceeds to the Williams-Rosen Memorial Fund for Veterans."
 
Kimberly Dozier explained in her speech how she was covering Iraq for CBS News since 2003 and, May 29, 2006, she thought they were getting some standard stock footage, that as thinking that James Brolan and Paul Douglas were going to get film of US Army Captain James Funkhouser shaking hands with Iraqis.
 
Kimberly Dozier: Just about the moment the Captain reached out his hand, the insurgents command detonated an approximately 500 pound pound car bomb through us.  The car was a Baghdad taxi, parked in that line of vehicles.  It sent a wall of shrapnel through the whole team.  I remember smelling what smelled like a thousand matches.  And landing.  Trying to figure out where Paul and James -- because they're my team -- you think, "Where's my team?"  And trying to figure out what had happened?  I knew a bomb had gone off and that was about it.  I started going through this calculation in my head, "Okay, I'm in pain.  But I remember from our combat medical courses the ABCs of triage: Airway, Breathing, Circulation . . .  In the medical drills we did, you never went to the patients who were screaming. You went to the quiet patients, to clear their airway, restart their heart. So if I scream for help, no one will come."  After a few moments, minutes, I don't know, I was able to lift my head.  And I could see a burning car.  Luckily, I couldn't see the rest of me. I could feel burning in my legs and I thought, "Burning car.  My legs.  I remember the other drill.  There was a live electrical wire and the patient was in danger of being hit by the wire, so it was okay to go get the patient even though the patient was consicous because the patient could have gotten hurt worse.  Okay.  I can call for help."  I start calling, "Help! Help!"  -- thinking, this little voice inside my head, "Oh, you sound like such a cliche."  That little voice in your head is still there even in the worst of times.  Medic [Spc] Izzy Flores was doing his first multi-combat casualty scene  He got to Captain Funkhouser and saw he'd been hit in the head.  He was maybe  12 feet from the bomb. So was Sam [Captain Funkhouser's Iraqi translator].  Neither of them could be helped. He got to James.  James too had a massive head injury.  He couldn't be helped.  He got to Paul.  Paul had a traumatic amputation in one of his legs.  He put a tourniquet on him. He got to me just when I started calling out, "Help! Help! Move me away from the car please!"  And he's like, "Ah, you're good."  And he went to someone else. So thanks, Izzy.  But the fact of the matter is, I will always thank Izzy because the Iowa National Guardsman who later tied the tourniquets on me that saved my life told me that when he ran to the scene, his team had already secured things helping the 4th ID.  They heard the bomb they'd run in to help their brothers in arms. So [Staff Sgt] Jeremy Coke, who kept me alive, was able to tell me, "You were the last one who needed medical aid."  So I never had to wonder later: Did someone else die because I got helped first?
 
 
Kimberly Dozier was seriously injured while covering the Iraq War, a war Reporters Without Borders notes became the deadliest war for journalists
Today was World Press Freedom Day.  The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization's resource page for World Press Freedom Day is here.  On this day honoring press freedom, the International Women's Media Foundation  announcedtheir Courage in Journalism Award and Lifetime Achievement Award winners:
 
Each year, the IWMF honors women journalists who have shown extraordinary strength of character and integrity while reporting the news under dangerous or difficult circumstances.
This year's winners are:
 
  Reeyot Alemu, 31, an Ethiopian columnist currently imprisoned on charges of terrorism after writing critiques of her country's government; Asmaa al-Ghoul, 30, a Palestinian blogger and freelance writer who has received death threats for her commentary on the culture and politics of Gaza; Khadija Ismayilova, 35, a radio reporter from Azerbaijan who was blackmailed and threatened after her investigation into charges of malfeasance against members of the Azerbaijani president's family. These are the International Women's Media Foundation's 2012 Courage in Journalism Award winners.
 
"I am humbled to work in the same profession as these heroic women," said Katty Kay, co-chair of the IWMF. "It is my honor to be involved with the IWMF as it recognizes their dedication and bravery. It is journalists like Reeyot, Asmaa and Khadija who set an example for all of us."
 
The IWMF's 2012 Lifetime Achievement Award is presented to Zubeida Mustafa, 70, a Pakistani journalist who has worked for three decades at Dawn, one her country's oldest and most widely circulated English-language newspapers.
 
Theodore Boutrous, Jr., IWMF co-chair, said, "A free and independent press is vital to freedom and liberty. The IWMF believes that no press is truly free if women do not share an equal voice. As the first woman to work at Dawn, Zubeida blazed a trail for women journalists in Pakistan, changing hiring policies and mentoring young women. She showed that women journalists can cover serious topics such as healthcare and economic inequality."
 
The 2012 awards will be presented during ceremonies in New York on October 24 and in Los Angeles on October 29.
 
"The IWMF is grateful to the Bank of America, National Presenting Sponsor of the
Courage in Journalism Awards for the seventh year and steadfast supporter of heroic women journalists around the world," said Elisa Lees Munoz, Acting Executive Director of the IWMF.
 
 
The Committee to Protect Journalists counts 17 journalists killed so far this year.  Among those recently murdered is Regina Martinez.  Reporters Without Borders notes that the correspondent for Proceso "was found strangled in her home in the Veracruz capital of Xalana on 28 April.  She joins the list of 80 journalists killed and 14 disappeared in Mexico in the past decade, a toll exacerbated by the disastrous federal offensive against trafficking during the past five years."  The International Press Institute will join with others tomorrow in Tunisia for a UNESCO panel discussion about journalists safety.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova issued the following joint-statement to mark the day:

Freedom of expression is one of our most precious rights. It underpins every other freedom and provides a foundation for human dignity.  Free, pluralistic and independent media is essential for its exercise.
This is the message of World Press Freedom Day.  Media freedom entails the freedom to hold opinions and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers, as stated in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  This freedom is essential for healthy and vibrant socieites.
Change in the Arab world has shown the power of aspirations for rights when combined with new and old media.  Newfound media freedom is promising to transform socieites through greater transparency and accountability.  It is opening new ways to communicate and to share information and knowledge.  Powerful new voices are rising -- especially from young people -- where they were silent before.  This is why this year's World Press Freedom Day is centred on the theme of New Voices: Media Freedom Helping to Transform Societies.
Media freedom also faces severe pressures across the world. Last year, UNESCO condemned the killing of 62 journalists who died as a result of their work.  These journalists must not be forgotten and these crimes should not remain unpunished.  As media moves online, more online journalists, including bloggers, are being harassed, attacked, and killed for their work.  They must recieve the same protection as traditional media workers.
The first UN Inter-Agency Meeting on Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity met at UNESCO on the 13 and 14 September 2011.  We produced a Plan of Action for the UN to build a more free and safe environment for journalists and media workers everywhere.  At the same time, we will continue to strengthen the legal foundations for free, pluralistic and independent media, especially in countries undergoing transformation or rebuilding after conflict.  At a time of information overload, we must help young people especially to develop critical skills and greater media literacy.
World Press Freedom Day is our opportunity to raise the flag in the fight to advance media freedom.  We call on Sates, professional media and non-governmental organisations everywhere to join forces with the United Nations to promote online and offline freedom of expression in accordance with internationally accepted principles.  This is a pillar of individual rights, a foundation for healthy societies and a force for social transformation.

Iraq is among those struggling (to put it kindly) to embrace press freedom.  From yesterday's snapshot:

And Alsumaria notes TV reporter Rashid Majid Hamid was injured by a sticky bombing of his car in Baghdad
Hurriyet Daily News observes, "From Somalia to Syria, the Philippines to Mexico, and Iraq to Pakistan, journalists are being targeted for death in record numbers, and in brutal ways. In fact, this year is shaping up to be the most lethal for journalists since the International Press Institute (IPI) began keeping count 15 years ago."   The attack on the journalist comes as a new report on the attack on journalism in Iraq is released.  The Journalistic Freedoms Observatory has released the report covering the last twelve months and they've found an increase in violence and restrictions and attempted restrictions on journalists.   They note an American journalist was arrested and helf for five days without any legal justification while Iraqi journalists were detained in various ways and also attacked and kidnapped by armed groups.   At least 3 journalists were killed in the 12 months and at least 31 were beaten  -- usually by military and security forces who were sometimes in civilian clothes.  65 journalists were arrested.
It's a very bleak picture.  In addition there are various bills proposed that supposedly 'protect' journalists but actually erode the rights of journalists.  The Ministry of the Interior's spokesperson Adnan al-Asadi declared that journalism can be "a threat to domestic security" and that journalsits shouldn't report on any arrests or killings without the express permission of the Ministry of the Interior.  (Clearly, Retuers must agree with that policy since they abolished their daily Factbox that used to cover violence in Iraq.)
The three journalists who died in the 12 months were:  Hadi al-Mahdi who was killed by a gunshot to the head while in his Baghdad home, Kameran Salah al-Din who was killed by a sticky bomb attached to his car (in Tikrit) and Salim Alwan who was killed by a bombing in Diwaniya. 
AFP notes the report states.  "JFO has documented a noticeable increase in the rate of violence against journalists/media workers and restrictions imposed on their work."Multiple bills are being introduced by the government, which threaten to severely limit freedom of the press, general freedom of expression and Internet use."

The Newseum has an interactive global map you can use to call up an overview on press freedom in various countries.  This is what they note of Iraq:


Freedom House rates Iraq's news media "not free" with 69 points on a scale of 0 to 100. Higher scores signal greater restrictions on a country's news media.
 
Behind the Rating: Iraq remained one of the world's most dangerous places for journalists in 2010, according to Freedom House.

Increasing government restrictions and the use of lawsuits against media outlets also posed significant challenges to media freedom during the year. While Iraq's 2005 constitution guarantees freedom of the press, courts continued to rely on a highly restrictive penal code to prosecute reporters and media outlets on charges including libel and defamation.

Journalists also faced harassment, faring especially poorly in the run-up to the March 7 national elections. Journalists seen as critical of the government were denied media accreditation and various reporters were beaten, intimidated and detained by police and rival political forces.


Aswat al-Iraq notes UNESCO's Baghdad coordinator Dhia al-Sarai said "that Human Rights Office in Baghdad shall be partner to the UNESCO in organizing this celebration, in addition to Iraqi parliament and some human rights organizations and NGOs' connected with the press."

Nouri and his State of Law political slate are 'celebrating' World Press Freedom Day.  Al Rafidayn notes that they are insisting that Gulf newspapers are attempting to prevent Iraq from reaching a better relationship with Kuwait.  It's always a conspiracy with Nouri.
Violence continued today in Iraq.  Al Rafidayn reports 1 Iraqi soldier was shot dead by a snipre in Baghdad today and, in Anbar Province, city council member Nuri al-Obeidi's home was attacked with grenades (al-Obeidi survived the assassination attempt). 
 

 
 
 

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