IN A SURPRISING UPSET, GOVERNOR ROD BLAGOJEVICH APPOINTED SOMEONE TO FILL BARACK OBAMA'S SENATE SEAT . . . ROLAND BURRIS.
SAID A SOBBING JESSE JACKSON JR., "WAAAAAAHHHHHHH!"
WIPING HIS RUNNING NOSE ON HIS SHIRT CUFFS, JUNIOR WONDERED HOW MANY MILLIONS THE SEAT HAD COST BURRIS AND EXACTLY WHAT HE HAD TO DO TO "GET AHEAD? I LIES FOR BARACK, I LIED FOR ME. I LIED AND I JUST KEPT ON LYING. YOU'D THINK THAT KIND OF BEHAVIOR WOULD BE REWARDED. WHAT KIND OF A COUNTRY ARE WE LIVING IN?"
Provincial elections in Iraq (in most of Iraq) are currently scheduled for January 31st. Today the United Nations announced, "A new United Nations-supported blog site just launced in Baghdad is the latest initiative to engage voters in the nascent democracy and motivate them to go to the polls on 31 January 2009 during the country's provincial elections. The blog, called 'Vote for Iraq', was launched with the support of the UN-led International Election Assistance Team (IEAT)." Elections -- if they take place -- will be closely watched for signals of power shifts. AFP reports that Barham Saleh (Deputy Prime Minister) is sounding alarms of a coming "Arab-Kurdish conflict": "There are vicisous and dangerous attempts to convert the political and economic problems in Baghdad on a number of issues to an Arab-Kurdish conflict." Saleh is a Kurd.
Meanwhile Deng Shasha (Xinhau) reports that Hussein al-Shahristani, Minister of Oil, declared today that a "second licensing round" will take place tomorrow on "ten oil fields". al-Shahristani was speaking on Iraqia TV and declared there would be a December 31st press conference in which he would announce the spoils of war now up for grabs. Gulf Times states, "Iraq has invited international oil companies which haven't been qualified yet by the country's oil ministry to take part in tomorrow's announcement of the second round of tenders to develop its vast oil and gas fields, a senior ministry official has said."
While the tag sales continues, Iraq's assets are currently safe from seizure by foreign creditors. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs released "Foreign Minister's Statement in Security Council on Ending the Mandate of the Multinational Forces" yesterday:
The UN Security Council voted unanimously for adopting a resolution to take Iraq out of Chapter VII and to terminate the mandate of the multinational forces in Iraq. Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari gave a speech in the Council and stated that Iraq has laid the foundations for stability and democracy since 2003.
The minister expressed the gratitude of the Iraqi Government to the members of the Security Council for the continued support for Iraq and its people, adding that Iraq has taken advanced steps in the process of national reconciliation, security and stability in the country.
The new resolution No. 1859 contains the protection of the Development Fund for Iraq and other Iraqi funds and stresses Iraq's obligations under Security Council resolutions.
That wasn't the only statement the ministry released. In protest of the current slaughter in Gaza, the Ministry released "Foreign Ministry Condemns Israeli Brutal Aggression on Palestinians:"
The Foreign Ministry of the Republic of Iraq condemns the Israeli brutal attack against Palestinians that caused many civilian casualties. The act of the Israeli authorities is incompatible with basic international human law and human rights.
The Foreign Ministry calls for the United Nations, Arab League, other organizations and the International and Human institutes to stop this aggression. We call for the Palestinian parties to join forces with all good people in the world to protect the rights and interests of the Palestinians and enable them to practice their legal rights according to International Law.
And, as Betty noted last night, wowOwow was among the few to pick up on the Washington Post's Amit R. Paley and Andrea Bruce exploration of female mutiliation in Iraq. Andrea Bruce's photos are here and Amit R. Paley's text report is here. From wowOwow's "Female Circumcision Rampant in Kurdistan, Women's Groups Don't Know Why:"
The group Stop FGM in Kurdistan notes that in 2005, cutting rates of at least 60 percent were reported in some areas of the region.
"The practice has a tremendous cost: Many girls bleed to death or die of infection. Most are traumatized. Those who survive can suffer adverse health effects during marriage and pregnancy. Women and girls are enclosed by a wall of silence," according to Stop FGM. "Experts agree that a strict taboo prevents them from speaking about their experiences -- which is all the same a main factor for the continuance of the practice."
The Kurdish parliament won't outlaw the practice -- even though this region is considered more progressive than the rest of Iraq. But one female lawmaker and doctor last month told AFP that parliament was preparing to outlaw female circumcision. The government is expected to debate the bills in the new year.
In non-Iraq news, John Walsh (CounterPunch) explores the recent US election and observes:
The great fear among the Naderites was that without the help of the GPUS, Nader could not get on the ballot in a sufficient number of states since the GPUS already had ballot access in many places due to the work of many at the grass roots (this author included) . So how did the election work out? The statistics are quite revealing. Starting from scratch and raising money as he went, Nader got on the ballot in 45 states plus DC. McKinney using the Green "infrastructure" got on the ballot in only 32 states, less than Barr for the Libertarians (45 states) or Baldwin and the Constitutionalists (37 states). Nader did better on his own with his own activist following than did the Greens. In fact he got on the ballot in more states than he did in 2000 when he was the GPUS nominee. If one looks at fundraising the contrast is just as stark, with Nader raising $4,496,180 and McKinney a skimpy $240,130 which is not even sufficient for a decent Congressional campaign. And the popular vote among third party candidates was: 736,804 for Nader, 524,524 for Barr, 196,461 for Baldwin and 161,195 for McKinney. These numbers alone are testimony to the abject failure of the GPUS as an electoral force.
But the behavior of the GPUS toward McKinney was downright insulting. The insult to McKinney came in two ways. First of all, DemoGreens went over to Obama, giving Cynthia a pat on the head as they went. A good example is Green guru Ted Glick who proclaimed that, although he "supported" McKinney, he hoped Obama would win and was contributing to the Obama campaign, said dollar contribution being a first for him. What kind of party i turns on its own candidate? But the insult came in another way. Cynthia McKinney took many extraordinarily courageous positions in Congress over the years. She was an outstanding leader there on issues of peace and justice. But this record was always secondary in the campaign that the GPUS ran. She was first and foremost a black woman candidate running with another minority female candidate. Now that in itself is a very good thing, although Obama upstaged them with this kind of Identity Politics. But what about McKinney's other achievements? Most notably she is the first major Democratic politician and the first Congressperson to jump ship on the Democrat Party. Of course the DemoGreens wanted no such cutting edge claim to a GPUS campaign. So the GPUS was happy to see the color of McKinney's skin as more important than the content of her character! This is the road down which "gonadal politics" leads us. (It is also hard to comprehend why Ralph Nader, gets no credit from the Gonadal Politicians for being an Arab American, perhaps the group suffering most discrimination these days.)
Today Martha and Shirley covered books for the year and the community choices were "Janis Ian's Society's Child: My Autobiography. It can be purchased at Amazon where it's currently selling for $16.98 ($26.95 list price). . . . David Bacon's Illegal People -- How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants (Beacon Press)" and Paul Street's Barack Obama and the Future of American Politics.
RECOMMENDED: "Iraq snapshot"
"2008 in books (Martha & Shirley)"
"Iraq court news and upcoming tag-sale"
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Monday, December 29, 2008
CAROLINE KENNEDY SPOKE TO THE PRESS THIS WEEKEND AND USED "UH" REPEATEDLY AND "YOU KNOW" OVER 140 TIMES.
NO, PRINCESS BRAT, THAT'S WHY YOU'RE ASKED TO EXPLAIN YOURSELF.
IN THE MIDST OF THE INTERVIEW, SHE CHOSE TO INSULT TWO JOURNALISTS. PRINCESS BRAT SNAPPED,"HAVE YOU GUYS EVER THOUGHT ABOUT WRITING FOR, LIKE, A WOMAN'S MAGAZINE OR SOMETHING? I THOUGH YOU WERE THE CRACK POLITICAL TEAM."
WHEN NOT BEING INSULTING, PRINCESS BRAT MIGHT NEED TO EXPLAIN HER INSULTING REMARKS ABOUT WOMEN'S MAGAZINES.
IT SHOULD BE REMEBERED THAT CAROLINE STUDIED JOURNALISM SO SHE MEANT TO BE INSULTING. HER 'BIG' ASSIGNMENT WAS CRASHING ELVIS FUNERAL. SHE LIED TO HIS FAMILY, TOLD THEM SHE WAS THERE TO PAY RESPECTS ON BEHALF OF HER FAMILY, AND SHE WAS REALLY THERE TO WRITE A TRASHY LITTLE REPORT. SHE'S NOT AT ALL DIFFERENT FROM THE PAPARRAZI THAT HOUNDED PRINCESS DIANA.
Meanwhile the December 10th death of Haedan al-Jabouri (that may not be the correct spelling) is in the news and the subject of a military investigation. Michael Ware (CNN -- link has video only) reported the latest events yesterday.
Michael Ware: Following a nighttime military operation outside of Baghdad two weeks ago, the US army is now investigating allegations an Iraqi man, a suspected al Qaeda member, was executed in cold blood by a secretive American unit. An Iraqi farmhouse after a recent raid by US forces. Items scatted by the soldiers search for weapons. An elderly mother mourns. Hadan, her son shot dead by the Americans in Madain on Baghdad's outskirts. It was Hadan the special forces had come for suspecting he was a bomb maker for al Qaeda. But now troubling questions have arisen from the operation, questions not of Hadan's life as a potential bomber but rather questions into his death at American hands. Questions grave enough that the US army has launched an inquiry probing claims the death was a special forces execution. The military released to CNN a few details of the night's operation, saying the shooting was provoked.
An unidentified voice reads from this December 10th M-NF press release: A man from the building initially complied with Coalition forces' instrucitons, but then returned inside the house. When he returned outside, he attempted to engage the forces with an AK-47. Perceiving hostile intent, the force engaged the armed man, killing him.
Michael Ware: But the dead man's brothers who witnessed the raid say that's a lie. Hadan, they say, was unarmed, his killing an American execution. The truth however is unclear. . . . But the Iraqi version is different. They say all [four] the brothers were stripped to their underwear and forced to lay on the ground, unable to move without the Americans permission, let alone grab a rifle. When Hadan did return inside, they say, it was the Americans who ordered him to do so.
Nurhi Subbi [translated]: The American forces ordered my brother to go back into the house.
Michael Ware: He was told to turn the lights on, says his brother named Nurhi, and the moment he turned on the lights, the soldiers open fired and then dragged him deeper inside the house.
If it was a military execution, take note, that would be the reality of "counter-insurgency" strategies. The press has refused to explore that and everyone's rushed to airbrush any realities out of it but that is "counter-insurgency" tactics and strategies. In other news, despite the claims of 'safer but not safe' Iraq, Saturday saw a bombing with mass fatalities. Usama Redha and Ned Parker (Los Angeles Times) reported at least 24 dead, "A mini-bus laden with explosives ripped the Kadhimiya neighborhood by Zahra square, which hosts a market and bust stop, police said." Sam Dagher (New York Times) offered, "Jalal Hussein, 56, had just parked his car, after dropping off his wife and daughter at the gate, when the bomb exploded a few yards away, creating a huge ball of fire that consumed several vehicles and many pedestrians. He said the bodies and limbs of victims, including many children and women, were scattered everywhere." Ernesto Londono and Azia Alwan (Washington Post) quoted survivor Ali Abdul Ameer whose wife and daughter were wounded in the bombing, "There is no security. How come a car like this full of explosives could enter this area?"
[. . .]
A few non-Iraq related topics. First, Joshua Frank (Dissident Voice) explores the current attack on Gaza and the reaction of the president-elect:
"The president-elect was in Sderot last July, in southern Israel, a town that's taken the brunt of the Hamas attacks," David Axelrod told Chip Reid on Face the Nation. "And he said then that, when bombs are raining down on your citizens, there is an urge to respond and act and try and put an end to that. So, you know, that's what he said then, and I think that's what he believes."
If Axelrod is correct, and Barack Obama does indeed support the bloodshed inflicted upon innocent Palestinians by the Israeli military, there should be no celebrating during Inauguration Day 2009, only mass protest of a Middle East foreign policy that must change in order to begin a legitimate peace process in the region.
Independent journalist David Bacon latest book is Illegal People -- How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants (Beacon Press) and at his website (and at many publications) he covers the labor movement in the US and in Mexico. For his coverage from Mexico (photos and text) including on the striking teachers who were met in Mexico City by the police in full S.W.A.T. mode, click here.
Meanwhile the music group I AM THREE is making a Bootleg recording from their European tour available online, available for download, free of charge. You can click here (and on the widget for the European tour) or here or here.
We're a site/community for the left. Net Right Daily is a site for the right. The Daily Grind is a news mailing you can sign up for from ALG News which is also right-wing. On the latter, BW with ALG News has been especially persistent (and nice) in e-mailing all community sites various ALG News items. Various people have mailed Net Right Daily items to community sites. Trina and I were discussing this and wondering about it? We've gotten some very rude e-mailings from on our side (the left) asking for help (try demanding it) and when we discussed it, others weighed in. The feeling is that the two outlets have been very polite and we're going to toss out a link. We wish the outlets all the best but we are a site for the left. Their persistance and their politeness (and professionalism) means they get the links in this paragraph. If you're looking for what the other side's saying, we would recommend those two. If you're looking to be enraged by what the right's up to, we would recommend those two.
RECOMMENDED: "Iraq snapshot"
"Iraq, the networks jilted lover"
"Female mutiliation in Iraq"
"And the war drags on . . ."
Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Princess Brat Speaks"
"At least 24 dead in Baghdad bombing"
Saturday, December 27, 2008
BULLY BOY PRESS & CEDRIC'S BIG MIX -- THE KOOL-AID TABLE
PRINCESS TINY MEAT CAN'T SEEM TO STOP EXPOSING HIS SHORT COMINGS.
VACATIONING HAWAII -- YEAH, VACATIONING AGAIN! -- BARACK MADE LIKE A HOLLYWOOD STARLET UNABLE TO STAY FULLY DRESSED WHEN SOMEONE WHIPS A CAMERA OUT.
AS USUAL PRINCESS TINY MEAT HAD NOTHING GOING ON BEYOND THE NAVAL BUT WHAT WAS MORE FRIGHTENING WERE THE MAN BOOBS UP TOP.
THOUGH DESCRIBED BY THE SUCK-UP PRESS AS PECS, ANYONE WHO HAS ACTUALLY SWEATED IN THE GYM KNOWS WHAT PECS LOOK LIKE. THEY DO NOT, FOR EXAMPLE, DANGLE. BARACK HAS MAN BOOBS AND WAS MORE THAN HAPPY TO FLASH HIS TITTIES FOR THE CAMERA THEREBY ANTICIPATING AN INTERESTING FOUR YEARS THAT MIGHT INCLUDE HIS BECOMING THE FIRST PRESIDENT TO ALSO BE A PLAYBOY CENTERFOLD. SHAKE WHAT THE GOOD LORD GAVE YOU, SISTER BARACKA! THAT OR BUY A SPORTS BRA.
FROM THE TCI WIRE:
Meanwhile, possibly because it was Christmas, Iraqi Christians were actually in the news. Larisa Epatko (PBS' NewsHour) did an online "update" (text only) where they report on the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (see the December 19th snapshot): "The USCIRF said non-Muslim religions in Iraq, particularly ChaldoAssyrian and other Christian groups, Sabean Mandaen: a small religious sect tied to John the Baptist, and Yazidi: a relgion with influences from Islam and Christianity, are experiencing targeted violence and have had to relocate to other parts of Iraq or other countries." Missy Ryan (Reuters) reported on Iraqi Christians celebrating in Baghdad and quoted Amira Daoud who "was relieved that the number of bombings and attacks has slowed over the past year. Yet she takes a practical approach to her daily life: 'Of course, there's still kidnapping. Everyone says to themselves that this could be their day. So we take precautions." Today Sam Dagher (New York Times) reports on Iraqi Christians in Mosul and notes that those who have returned (a small number) cite the Chaldean's Church's Rev Basman George Fatouhi and three nuns, including Sister Autour Yousif, who had remained behind in Mosul "working against the tide to keep their faith alive. Durign the depths of the crisis in October, they were not only providing moral and spiritual support, but often venturing out at great risk to buy food and provisions for families who were too scared to even go to the market. They have also been determined to maintain church services in some of the most dangerous parts of the city. On numerous occasions the pair have found themselves carrying out the grim task of collecting the bodies of Christians from the morgue because their families were too afraid to do it." Kimi Yoshino and Ali Hameed (Los Angeles Times) quote Issa Zakariya, a Chrisian in Mosul, stating, "Years ago, we were spending Christmas congratulating our friends and relatives in Mosul, but today everything has changed. But despite all that, the flavor of Christmas still exists and the dream of Santa still exists in the hearts of the children. I just hope peace and safety come back to Iraq." Meanwhile Liz Sly (Chicago Tribune) reports on Iraqi Christians who've fled the country for their own safety, "At the Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in this working-class Christian suburb east of Beirut, Rev. Joseph Malkoum preaches to an Iraqi congregation that expands every Sunday, swelled by the ranks of Christians fleeing Iraq. In recent weeks, he has noticed an increase in the number of new faces crowded into the pews as a surge in violence directed against Christians in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul fuels a fresh wave of refugees."
Mosul is covered in Alissa J. Rubin's analysis (New York Times) of current conditions in Iraq where she notes the rumors that some of the violence aimed at Iraqi Christians is coming from Kurds with the hope of pushing them to support the Kurdish Regional Government extending beyond its current boundaries. Rubin explores how al-Maliki is seen to be consolidating his power and doing so at the expense of others. She explores his "controversial" program of putting tribal councils on his personal payroll. For those paying attention in April, this is what Joe Biden was publicly warning against. Rubin notes that, despite the amnesty for Sunnis, the bulk remain imprisoned, she offers that along with talks of coups in Iraq, there is talk of holding a no-confidence vote to replace him: "But unless there is a consensus about a successor, the government could drift for months as it did after the elections in 2005, when there were several months of discussions about who would become prime minister, and in 2006, when the previous prime minister, Ibrahim al-Jaafari, was removed." She explains all of this drama and intrigue takes place as provincial elections approach. They are currently scheduled for January 31st. Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reported earlier on the provincial elections and noted that they would "give natioanl parties a local toehold to advance their agendas. That's why posters of Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki blanket Baghdad's streets even though he isn't running for office next month. The banners are meant to build support for his Dawa Party."
In other Iraqi political news, UPI reports, "Communist parties in Iraq are resuming their campaign after several years by embracing youthful energy in the run-up to provincial elections, Sot al-Iraq said Friday. The Communist platform of unity and equality among the various social classes is impossible under the crisis caused by the U.S. occupation of Iraq. Their solidariy, however, differs from other parties as they do not differentiate or support any one plaform over the other. The Communist Party emerged out of the southern Wasit province to embrace a dream of equality, hoping the bloodshed of its martyrs would usher in a new hope for tomorrow, the news service said."
[. . .]
Turning to the US political scene, earlier this month ETAN called out talk of Dennis Blair being appointed Director of National Intelligence by president-elect Barack Obama:
"President-elect Barack Obama's rumored selection of Admiral Dennis C. Blair for Director of National Intelligence is unacceptable," the East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN) said today.
"During his years as Pacific Commander, Blair actively worked to reinstate military assistance and deepen ties to Indonesia's military despite its ongoing human rights violations in East Timor and consistent record of impunity," said John M. Miller, National Coordinator of ETAN.
"His actions demonstrate the failure of engagement to temper the Indonesian military's behavior and his actions helped to reinforce impunity for senior Indonesian officials that continues to this day," added Miller. He undermined the Clinton administration's belated efforts to support human rights and self-determination in the Indonesian-occupied territory and opposed congressional efforts to limit assistance."
"It is unfathomable that Obama would consider appointing someone to such a prominent position who has shown so little concern for human rights in the past. Can we expect someone who has sought to undermine efforts to link human rights to military assistance to be a champion of reform? We don't think this is the kind of change people are expecting," said Miller.
In April 1999, just days after Indonesian security forces and their militias carried out a brutal churchyard massacre, Adm. Blair delivered a message of 'business-as-usual' To Indonesian General Wiranto, then Commander of the Indonesian armed forces. Following East Timor's pro-independence vote, Blair sought the quickest possible restoration of military assistance, despite Indonesia's highly destructive exit.
Barack has long cozied up to those responsible for and encouraging of that slaughter in East Timor. ETAN's full release can be read here or here. Tom Burghardt (Dissident Voice) sounds the alarms on Blair as well and the section that may most stand out is this:
Obama's choice for ODNI is well-placed to continue the mercenary "tradition" of intelligence outsourcing and what one can only describe as the corporatization of government. According to the Journal, some of the "tougher intelligence issues" the incoming Obama administration seeks to resolve "is weighing whether to propose the creation of a domestic intelligence agency," modeled after Britain's MI5.
Marjorie Cohn, Naomi Wolf and all the others who embarrassed themselves by public slobbering over Barack Obama and insisting he would 'save' the Constitution, when do you plan to get your lazy asses and call the above out? Now the Gitmo attorneys made fools out of themselves as well but they've already been publicly punked and no longer rush to assure how dreamy Barack is. But let's see some of these 'brave voices' for the Constitution step up to the damn plate. They could be counted on to DELUDE themselves and schill for Barack. Can they now try standing up for the Constitution of the United States of America or is that too damn hard? Bill Clinton could not -- at any time during his eight years in office -- have gotten away witha d omestic intelligence agency (currently against the law) but Barack might be able to because so many 'leaders' are chicken s**t when it comes to calling him out. So come on Marj, you could distort reality to attack Hillary and advance Barack. Let's see you address the Constitution, big girl, let's see you protect it. Naomi, you made an utter fool out of yourself. Your racism in Fire With Fire was nothing compared to what you did in 2008. So if you're not zonked out on drugs or 'love,' how about you step up to the damn plate and call out this attack on the Consitution?
And those are only two of the many public fools -- idiots who damn well should have known better but felt running a fan club was more important than protecting the Constitution and our civil liberties.
RECOMMENDED: "Iraq snapshot"
"Cher sings US 2009 theme song"
"Prison revolt and Mosul"
"I Hate The War"
"6th December 25th for US forces occupying Iraq pa rum pum pum pum"
"Relaxing in the Kitchen"
"The uglies: CODESTINK and Jane Fonda"
"Matt Dillon: Eye Candy"
"Eartha Mae Kitt, 1927-2008"
"Barack Obama's homophobia was always showing"
"And people made fun of Sarah Palin"
"Cher and Eartha Kitt videos"
"Margaret Kimberley weclomes the homophobes"
"Pardons and Christmas"
"THIS JUST IN! CONFUSED BARACK "
"Holes in Barack's education"
Thursday, December 25, 2008
THIS MORNING BARACK OBAMA TOLD THESE REPORTERS, "TODAY IS MY DAY! I AM THE SAVIOR. I AM THE CHRIST-CHILD. I WILL DELIVER THE WORLD."
WHEN WARNINGS OF BLASPHEMY FAILED TO DISSUADE THE PRESIDENT-ELECT FROM PROCLAIMING HIMSELF JESUS CHRIST, THESE REPORTERS ATTEMPTED ANOTHER TACT, REMINDING HIM OF WHAT HAPPENS TO CHRIST.
"THEY DID WHAT TO HIM!!!!!" EXCLAIMED BARACK.
HAD THE PRESIDENT-ELECT NEVER NOTICED CROSSES?
"WELL, DUH, BUT MADONNA USED TO WEAR ABOUT 50 OF THEM AT 1 TIME SO I JUST ASSUMED THAT THEY WERE SOME SORT OF BONDAGE DEVICE. OKAY, OKAY, I DON'T WANT TO BE HIM. HEY, WHAT ABOUT PINOCCHIO? HE WAS A WISE MAN, RIGHT? CAN I BE THE NEW PINOCCHIO?"
AS WE REALIZED HOW GREAT THE GAPS IN EDUCATION WERE, WE ASSURED BARACK THAT HE'D BEEN THE NEW PICHOCCHIO FOR SOME TIME.
Today the US military announced: "CAMP VICTORY, Iraq -- Three Multi-National Division -- Center Soldiers were killed in a vehicle accident in southern Iraq Dec. 24." The announcement brings the number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war to 4216. The total for the month thus far is 9. As of last Friday, the press was gearing for their 'astoundingly low number of deaths in December' pieces to run at the start of January. While 9 is still low (although, cautionary note, the month is not over yet) it is not the 2 that, until December 20th, the count remained at for the entire month.
Tomorrow many people around the world will celebrate Christmas. Joe Sterling (CNN) notes the difficulties facing Iraqi Christians. He quotes Chaldean Federation of America's Joseph Kassab stating, "We are heading for a demise. It's getting to the point where it might be an ethnic cleansing in the future." Sterling also speaks with US House Rep Anna Eshoo who is "of Assyrian and Armenian ancestry" stating, "I think the [Iraqi[ Christians are caught in the middle of a horrible situation" and uses the term "religious cleansing" to describe what's been taking place in Iraq as the number of Christians have "fallen from as many as 1.4 million in 2003 to between 500,000 and 700,000 more recently, according to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom." The report from the US Commission on International Religious Freedom was noted in the December 19th snapshot and we'll highlight this section of the commission's report:
Nineveh governorate, however, especially in and around Mosul, remains one of the most dangerous and unstable parts of Iraq. Insurgent and extremist activity continues to be a significant problem there, and control of the ethnically and religiously mixed area is disputed between the KRG and the central Iraqi government. While violence overall in Iraq decreased in 2007 and 2008, the Mosul area remains what U.S. and Iraqi officials call the insurgents' and extremists' last urban stronghold, with continuing high levels of violence.D Increased security operations by U.S. and Iraqi forces have led to some decrease in the violence in and around Mosul, but the area remains very dangerous, as evidenced by the October attacks on Christian residents, which killed at least 14 Christians and spurred the flight of 13,000 from Mosul to surrounding areas. According to the September 2008 U.S. Department of Defense report to Congress, "[d]uring the past few years, Mosul has been a strategic stronghold for [al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI)], which also needs Mosul for its facilitation of foreign fighters. The current sustained security posture, however, continues to keep AQI off balance and unable to effectively receive support from internal or external sources, though AQI remains lethal and dangerous."D According to the Special Inspector General for Iraqi Reconstruction, from April 1 to July 1, 2008, there were 1,041 reported attacks in Nineveh governorate and from July 1 to September 30, 2008, there were 924 attacks, still a significant number.
This situation has been exacerbated by Arab-Kurdish tensions over control of Mosul and other disputed areas in Nineveh governorate. The dispute stems from Kurdish claims and efforts to annex territories-including parts of the governorates of Kirkuk (Tamim), Nineveh, Salah al-Din, Diyala, and Waset-into the KRG, on the basis of the belief that these areas historically belong to Kurdistan. During the Saddam Hussein era, Kurds and other non-Arabs were expelled from these areas under his policy of "Arabization." Since 2003, Kurdish peshmerga and political parties have moved into these territories, effectively establishing de facto control over many of the contested areas. Key to integrating the contested areas into Kurdistan is Article 140 of the Iraqi Constitution, which calls for a census and referendum in the territories to determine their control. In this context, military or financial efforts undertaken by either Kurdish officials or Arab officials (whether in Baghdad or local) is seen by the other group as an effort to expand control over the disputed areas, leading to political disputes and deadlock.
Angus McDowall (Telegraph of London) reported earlier this week that some Iraqi Christians from Mosul had fled to the monastery Mar Matti. "Their homes raided, their priests attacked and their relatives murdered, Assyrian and Chaldean Christians have become the latest victims of violence in the city, once the most cosmopolitan in Iraq." Jalal Mansour was quoted stating, "First they came against the Kurds, then against the Yazidis and now they have come for the Christians. My uncle, an old man, was killed just because of his faith." And Andrew Pierce (Telegraph of London) reports, "Rt Rev Graham James, the Bishop of Norwich, accused Britain and America of 'religious illiteracy' about the fallout from the Allied occupation. He said it was 'tragic' that two western powers with a strong Christian tradition had contributed to the eclipse of one of the longest surviving churches in the world. The war in Iraq, he said, had led to the brutal persecution of Christians." Meanwhile AKI speaks with Iraqi MP Younadim Kana who is "the leader of the Iraqi Christians Parliamentary group 'al-Raifidein'" and states, "This year we will be able to go to church on Christmas eve without fear. From a security point of view, we live -- without a doubt -- in an improved security situation compared to previous years, when we witnessed violence and attacks against various sectors of Iraqi society." Provincial elections are currently scheduled for January 31st. UPI reports that Iraq's Christian community is running for seats in the elections in Baghdad, Ninawa and Basra while adding, "Minority Christian groups have a sizable population in the northern regions of Iraq, though elecitons there are postponed because of territorial disputes."
[. . .]
Meanwhile in the US, president-elect Barack Obama continues to see criticism over his decision to embrace homophobia. Kevin Gosztola (World Can't Wait) offers:
Keep your friends close and your enemies closer, right?
One would never have thought that we were electing Don Corleone to the presidency in November, but more and more individuals from the left seem to be rationalizing Obama with logic that one might find in the storyline of a Mario Puzo story.
Huffington Post had pieces of writing that clearly acquiesced to the decision Obama made.
Lee Stranahan encouraged people to "embrace what you have in common with Rick Warren."
"Like my comrades, I think Warren is dead wrong on same sex marriage. But the reality is that at the end of 2008, a majority of voters in California agreed with him. A majority of Americans agree with Warren about same sex marriage and many more states have made marriage equality unconstitutional than have ratified it…
" … If you are mad about Rick Warren, I'm not attacking you. I understand your anger and I'm not saying it's not justified. But it's all right to let your anger go, too. It doesn't mean surrender; it doesn't mean giving up the struggle for equality.
"It means doing unto others as you would have them do unto you. It means winning, right now - because the fight against hate starts whenever you want it, in your own heart. You can win a battle right now by not hating."
The editorial is loaded from beginning to end with wishful thinking.
So what if a "majority" agree with Pastor Warren's hateful positions toward the LGBT community? What about it being necessary to take a moral position that does not promote hatred of the LGBT community or blame members of the LGBT community for divisions over what marriage is and isn't in this country?
And, why should we be in favor of legitimizing Pastor Warren?
It's one thing for Pastor Warren to invite Obama. He might get more people to join his congregation, which means more book sales and more money for his religious ventures in American capitalism. But, Obama's invitation signals that his election meant Americans wanted people like Pastor Warren to be involved in Obama's presidency.
Allowing Pastor Warren to be up there legitimizes words and judgment like this:
"The issue to me, I'm not opposed to that as much as I'm opposed to redefinition of a 5,000 year definition of marriage. I'm opposed to having a brother and sister being together and calling that marriage. I'm opposed to an older guy marrying a child and calling that marriage. I'm opposed to one guy having multiple wives and calling that marriage."
This Rick Santorum-gay-marriage-is-going-to-lead-to-man-on-dog-sex kind of thinking is primitive and ignorant and deserves no place in American society. It deserves no place in American politics.
The national Green Party issues the following statement this week:
WASHINGTON, DC -- Green Party activists challenged gay voters and advocates of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender rights to protest President-elect Barack Obama's invitation to Pastor Rick Warren to deliver the inaugural invocation.
"Unless we make our anger known now, Mr. Obama will continue to betray gay people," said Starlene Rankin, co-chair of the party's Lavender Green Caucus (http://www.lavendergreens.us). "Barack Obama's claim to be a 'fierce advocate for equality' is not credible when he chooses a pastor notorious for his ill-informed and slanderous opinions about homosexuality and vigorous support for Proposition 8."
"The invitation signals that Mr. Obama may repeat the Clinton approach to gay rights. President Clinton, taking gay votes for granted, signed the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act into law and authorized the 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' military policy. We've had generations of gay rights advocates and other progressives insisting that we need to elect Democrats, then we'll push them towards pro-gay agenda. Instead, gay people have remained second-class citizens in the Democratic Party and told to hush up when they're politically inconvenient. For those tired of bipartisan retreats from promises of human rights and justice, the Green Party remains the party of real change in America," added Ms. Rankin.
The Green Party's national platform asserts that gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender Americans deserve all the rights, including marriage and the ability to raise a family, that all other Americans enjoy (http://www.gp.org/platform/2004/socjustice.html#999082). Greens strongly opposed Proposition 8, which outlawed same-sex marriage in California.
Mr. Obama has said he opposed the passage of Propositon 8, but he also opposes full same-sex marriage rights, a position inconsistent with support for full and equal rights for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people.
Pastor Warren's public statements have revealed profound ignorance and bigotry on sexuality and on gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people in particular. Promoting passage of Proposition 8 in California, he has said that "in the hierarchy of evil... homosexuality is not the worst sin," an admission that he believes gay people are evil because they are gay.
He has said that allowing same-sex marriage is like allowing "a brother and sister be together and call that marriage" and added that he is "opposed to an older guy marrying a child and calling that a marriage," comparing same-sex marriage and homosexuality to incestuous relationships and pedophilia, which are crimes. Pastor Warren has also said that homosexuality is "not the natural way.... Certain body parts are meant to fit together," but has not called for the invalidation of heterosexual marriages in which the spouses have engaged in sex outside of vaginal sexual intercourse.
Greens noted that Barack Obama's choice of Rev. Warren for the inaugural prayer coincides with a declaration introduced by 66 countries in the UN calling for universal decriminalization of homosexuality (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7791063.stm). The US is the only major western nation that has refused to sign on, even though a Supreme Court decision has invalidated US laws against sodomy.
"Will the new Obama Administration maintain Bush policy and decline to have the US sign the declaration against criminalization of gay people?" asked Tim Casebolt, secretary of the Lavender Green Caucus.
"Barack Obama has asked Robert Gates to stay on as Secretary of Defense. Mr. Gates is not only likely to continue the Bush Administration's military aggression around the world, but also the targeting of gay members of the armed forces for investigation, harassment, and discharge. The Obama Cabinet appointments have disappointed anyone who sincerely hoped for genuine change in 2009," Mr. Casebolt added.
RECOMMENDED: "Iraq snapshot"
"El Salvador and al-Mashhadani exit"
"Margaret Hassan's family issues a plea"
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
POPE BENEDICT DECLARED THAT GAYS ARE ENDANGERING THE WORLD. IN A LESS REPORTED STATEMENT, AMERICAN BOYS UNDER THE AGE OF 14 SUGGESTED THAT THE POPE, THE CATHOLIC CHURCH AND PEDOPHILE PRIESTS ARE ENDANGERING THE YOUTH OF AMERICA.
MEANWHILE PROFESSIONAL LIAR AND NOTED HAS-BEEN MELISSA ETHERIDGE AND WIFE NUMBER TWO (OR IS THREE?) WROTE A VALENTINE TO RICK WARREN WHICH MAY BE THE MOST RIDICULOUS THING ETHERIDGE EVER PENNED IF YOU FORGET HER BANAL LYRICS AND THE LAUGHABLE 'TRUTH' ETHERIDGE OFFERED ABOUT HER RELATIONSHIP WITH JULIE CYPHER IN THAT REALLY BAD BOOK LAUGHINGLY ENTITLED "THE TRUTH IS . . ." EVEN MORE IRONIC WHEN YOU CONSIDER ETHERIDGE AND CYPHER'S RELATIONSHIP WAS OVER WHILE SHE WAS OUT ON THE ROAD PROMOTING AN ALBUM OF LOVE & RELATIONSHIP SONGS BUT MELISSA ETHERIDGE DIDN'T FEEL "THE TRUTH" MATTERED TOO MUCH THEN.
MELISSA ETHERIDGE IS INFAMOUS FOR SUCKING UP TO BARACK OBAMA SINCE 2007 SO HER LATEST CRAVEN EMBARASSMENT WHERE SHE ATTEMPTS TO ENCOURAGE ALL GAYS AND LESBIANS TO -- LIKE SHE DOES -- SEE THEMSELVES AS LESS THAN A FULL PERSON IS PERFECTLY IN KEEPING WITH THE OTHER CRAP THE ONE HIT WONDER'S OFFERED FOR SOME TIME. ONE TOP 10 HIT IN 20 YEARS BUT A WHOLE S**T LOAD OF LIES. NO WONDER K.D. LANGE LAUGHS LOUDLY WHEN EVER ANYONE MENTIONS MELISSA'S NAME. OTHERS RESPOND TO MELISSA'S NAME WITH CURSES -- FOR GOOD REASON.
Be careful, also, when you worship at the feet of Al Gore -- there will be trouble. Of course, to get there, you'll have to kick Melissa Etheridge out of the way. As the cameras began to move in, one of us said, "Tom Petty looks awful." The other said, "I just saw Petty last month, that's not him." It was Melissa. Last week, Rebecca came up with the bit about Etheridge's career being over and we disagreed with that but agreed it was possible and, besides, it was funny. Well Rebecca built her fortune in the public relations business. We should have listened. Obviously NBC did. Which is why Melissa's face-time was reduced to this: "Now I want to introduce to you my hero and my friend" Al Gore!!!! No song broadcast from Etheridge, despite Al thanking her for that "amazing and brilliant wake up call."
A Melissa Etheridge story. Many years ago, when David Geffen still owned Geffen Records, there was a disgusting excuse for man-flesh who creeped everyone out. He was a sexist pig, not all that uncommon in that or any period of the music industry, and when he finally was shown the door, there were no tears. One of us (C.I.) bumped into him shortly after and there was an awkward moment before he finally said he was really into this new act: Melissa Etheridge. Since he reduced all women to the T&A scale this was surprising. Well, he explained, it was different with Melissa, looks didn't matter because she was a lesbian. Point?
Melissa Etheridge was never in the closet in the industry and the bulk of her fan base were also in on her "little secret" long before she finally got the guts to say "Yes I Am" well over a decade ago. Note, not, "I am." She merely confirmed what was well known. Five years after she became a name so, possibly, in 2008, she may find the courage to publicly call out the illegal war she opposes. Maybe not. The nonsense of 'bravery' with regards to Melissa is laughable. (And the only one who laughs louder than we do may be k.d.)
"She stands in the empty room, a deplorable, terrible, pitiful sight. Is it Margaret Hassan? Her family believe so, even though she is blindfolded. I'm not sure if videos like this should ever be seen -- or perhaps the word is endured -- but they are part of the dark history of Iraq, and staff of the Arab Al Jazeera satellite channel have grown used to watching some truly atrocious acts on their screens," wrote Robert Fisk (Independent of London) last August. He recounts the videotapes that emerged in November 2004, following Hassan's October 19th kidnapping in Baghdad, her call for then-Prime Minister Tony Blair to pull British troops out of Iraq. Fisk:
Then comes the last tape. She is standing in that bare room in a white blouse,
a blindfold over her face, her head slightly bowed and a man approaches her
from behind holding a pistol. He points it at her head and places what
appears to be an apple over the muzzle -- a primitive form of silencer? And
then squeezes the trigger. There is a click, an apparent misfire, and the
man retreats to the right of the screen and then reappears. Margaret Hassan
doesn't move although she must have heard the click. The man is wearing a
grubby grey and black checked shirt and ill-fitting, baggy trousers, a scarf
concealing his face.
This time the gun fires and the woman utters a tiny sound, a kind of cry,
almost a squeal of shock, and falls backwards onto the floor. The camera
lingers on her. She has fallen onto a plastic sheet. And she just lies
there. There is no visible blood, nor wound. It is over. Should such
terrible things be seen? Margaret's immensely brave Iraqi husband told me I
had his permission to watch this, but still I feel guilty. I think it was
only here, watching her death on a screen next to Al Jazeera's studios more
than three years later, that I realized Margaret Hassan was dead.
It was Margaret who took leukaemia medicines donated by readers of The
Independent to the child cancer victims of Iraq back in 1998 after we
discovered that hundreds of infants were dying in those areas where Western
forces used depleted uranium munitions in the 1991 Gulf War. She was a
proverbial tower of strength, and it was she -- and she alone -- who managed
to persuade Saddam Hussein's bureaucrats to let us bring the medicine into
Iraq. The United Nations sanctions authorities had been our first hurdle,
Saddam Hussein our second. It is all history. Like Margaret, all the
Today David Brown and Francis Elliott (Times of London) reports that Hassan's family members are accusing "British diplomats of refusing to help them to confront alleged members of the Iraqi gang that kidnapped her." Ali Lutfi Jassar al-Rawi goes on trial tomorrow with another man and Hassan's family have requested that a representative from England's Embassy be at the trial in attendance but they have been informed the Embassy considers it "too dangerous". In November of 2004, Jack Straw, then-British Foreign Secretary, declared that "it is repugnant to commit such a crime against a woman who has spent most of her life working for the good of the people of Iraq." Straw is now the Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain and Secretary of State for Justice and, apparently, the Ministry of Justice has no interest in justice and Straw no longer feels as he once did?
When she was kidnapped, PBS' NewsHour addressed it (text, audio, video) via a discussion between Ray Suarez and the Washington Post's Rajiv Chandrasekaran:
RAJIV CHANDRASEKARAN: Margaret Hassan is just an incredible woman who literally has devoted the plus ten years of her life of helping the Iraqi people out. I first met her almost two years ago in my first trip to Iraq in the fall of 2002, and I wanted to find out what was really happening with Iraqi civilians living under the U.N. economic sanctions that were placed on the country.
Margaret was one of a very few number of international aid workers operating in there and she had been heading up the CARE office in Iraq for more than a decade. Prior to that, she had been teaching English for the British Council in Iraq, a position that made her very well known among educated Iraqis and even before that actually had a brief career reading the English news on Iraqi TV, so a very prominent person and a woman who really had devoted her life to helping the situation of ordinary Iraqis both before the war who were suffering under economic sanctions and after the war in the very sort of chaotic climate that was there helping out and directing projects involving water, sanitation and health care.
RAY SUAREZ: So there's that background you cite 30 years on the ground in Iraq. She remained in Baghdad when the invasion was under way. She even traveled to Britain to speak against the war and speak to the members of the British parliament to advise them against joining the invasion. Didn't these things make her an unlikely kidnap target?
RAJIV CHANDRASEKARAN: Certainly. I mean she's the last possible person you might imagine being at risk for kidnapping because she was... she had very clear views about the military invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq and really was somebody who was out in an apolitical way helping the people of Iraq. But this demonstrates yet again there really is no litmus test here for the sorts of work foreigners do in Iraq in the eyes of the insurgents; a number of foreign aid workers now have been kidnapped. Two Italian aid workers were taken, subsequently released, thankfully. But headquarters of the International Committee of the Red Cross was bombed last year.
Nothing is sacrosanct to the insurgents these days and even a woman like Margaret Hassan, although she holds Iraqi nationality being of British origin and holding British citizenship is seen as a prominent and legitimate target for the insurgents in Iraq.
All the programs covered Margaret Hassan. Former United Nations Assistant Secretary General Denis Halliday, for example, spoke of her to Democracy Now! November 17, 2004:
I worked with her in 1997 and 1998 in Iraq in Baghdad. I lived there. That's where she and her family lived. She ran a small CARE International program, some $7 million worth per annum and she produced hands-on results, clinics, health facilities, water systems which the poor of Baghdad and other cities needed desperately. I was there overseeing a $4 billion program and prohibited from doing the same sort of hands-on work by Washington and the London and Washington regimes. So I have nothing but respect for her work and for her commitment and her gentle nature, although underlined with steel. She's a quality that she delivered. She made things happen.
In December of 2004, Westiminster Cathedral was the site for a requim for Margraet Hassan that Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor presided over and during which he called her a martyr: "I use the word advisedly, because the word martyr means witness. Margaret witnessed, in both her life and her death, to the act of loving." November 18, 2004, France's then-President Jacques Chirac hled a press conference in the UK and opened with, "Before I begin, I would like us to think of Margaret Hassan, and I should like to express the depth of horror that what she experienced inspires in us, and, of course, give our fullest sympathy and solidarity to our British friends in this horrifiic business." And four years later, whent he family asks that an Embassy staffer attend Wednesday's hearing, they're rebuffed and ignored.
[. . .]
Turning to US politics, the Center for Constitutional Rights issues the following press release:
The Center for Constitutional Rights is outraged at President Obama's choice of the right wing Rev. Rick Warren to lead the convocation at his inauguration. This is "change" we can neither believe in nor support. Many of us have been looking forward to this inauguration as we have no other in the past, with great hope that the new administration will restore our Constitution and its place in a nation of laws. We understand, too, that the new president is working to reach across the aisle and make people of different beliefs welcome at his table.
But the choice of Rev. Warren is a callous slap in the face to all progressives and people fo conscience who cherish the equality of women and their right to a safe and legal abortion. Roe v. Wade is still the law of the land. It is a constitutional right. Women fought and died for it. A man who so vocally opposes such a hard won and important a constitutional right has no place at this inaugaration.
The choice of Rev. Warren is a slap in the face to all progrssives and people of conscience who cherish the equality of men and women in the LGBT community. His vocal support for the shameful California Proposition 8 pushes from the table those who have fought long and ahrd to be able to love and be loved without the interference of hate mongers. A man like Rick Warren who envisions a society where some classes of people are entitled to fundamental rights while others are not based solely on whom and how they love has no place at this inauguration.
We understand that there will be compromises and decisions we won't agree with in the coming years, and we will be right there challenging them. But to begin it all in this way, is a terrible signal to send to the people who worked day and night to elect President Obama. He should withdraw his invitation. At the very least, he should ask someone else to officiate as well, someone with decency and eloquence who can balance the presence of Rev. Warren. If the president is at a loss for ideas, allow us to suggest two women who could ably fit the bill: Kahtleen Jeffords Schori, an African American Epsicopal Bishop who supports the ordination of gay ministers, and Susana Heschel, a feminist theologian and daughter of Abraham Joshua Heschel, the Jewish leader who worked hand in hand with Martin Luther King.
In other news the American Sociological Association's periodical Contexts features an essay by independent journalist David Bacon -- whose latest book is Illegal People -- How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants (Beacon Press) -- entiled "Living Under the Trees" which focuses on "the experiences and conditions of indigenous farm worker communities." That's the description of the Living Under the Trees photo exhibit that won huge praise in San Diego, Sonoma and elsewhere throughout this year. In September Alicia Doyle (Ventura County Star) noted:
A reporter and documentary photographer for 18 years, he covers issues of labor, immigration and international politics and travels frequently to Mexico, the Philippines, Europe and Iraq. He also hosts a weekly radio show on labor, immigration and the global economy on Berkeley's KPFA-FM and is a frequent guest on KQED-TV's "This Week in Northern California."
His exhibit at the Santa Paula Family Resource Center -- consisting of 36 photographs and six text narrative panels -- explores the challenges these communities face while also celebrating the culture and community spirit that sustains them.
"This exhibit tries to show a certain reality that essentially indigenous immigrants are making important contributions in a lot of areas," Bacon said.
Chronicling the conditions of farmworker communities in California, the exhibit conveys the vibrant cultures of music, dance, food and traditional health practices that help these communities survive under very difficult circumstances, Bacon said.
RECOMMENDED: "Iraq snapshot"
"Corruption (Siegmens AG, Theresa Jeanne Baker)"
"why aren't greens fighting for appointed seats?"
"Robert Parry is an ASS"
IN HAWAII THIS MORNING, PRESIDENT-ELECT BARACK OBAMA CAME BOUNDING UP TO THESE REPORTERS EXCITEDLY.
"I CLEANED MYSELF LIKE A BIG BOY TODAY!" HE SQUEALED. "DIDN'T I, RAHM, DIDN'T I!"
RAHM EMMANUEL SIGHED AND EXPLAINED, "NO, YOU ARE CLEARING YOURSELF TODAY."
"OH," BARACK POUTED.
"BUT," HE SAID GRINNING, "I'M CLEARED! I'M CLEARED!"
"ACTUALLY," RAHM CORRECTED, "NOT IF ANYONE BOTHERS TO INVESTIGATE YOUR OWN FINDIGHS."
"OH," BARACK POUTED.
"BUT," HE SAID GRINNING, "I CLEANED MYSELF TODAY!"
"ACTUALLY," RAHM CORRECTED, "BIDEN'S WAITING FOR YOU WITH THE BABY WIPES."
BARACK NODDED AND TRUGED OFF.
BIDEN AND BARACK, PICTURED BELOW, HAVING FUN ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL.
Today Elisabeth Bumiller (New York Times) examines the realities of the so-called US withdrawal from Iraq and it's not a pretty sight. Bumiller and Thom Shanker reported last week on how the 'plan' presented to president-elect Barack Obama -- the Petraeus-Odierno plan -- wouldn't allow for that campaign 'promise' of a US withdrawal of combat troops from Iraq. Friday Julian E. Barnes (Los Angeles Times) reported that word games could allow for the impression that promises were being kept -- including what the treaty masquerading as a Status Of Forces Agreement allegedly promised. For context, Sudarsan Raghavan and Qais Mizher (Washington Post) explained last week, "American combat troops will remain inside Iraqi cities to train and mentor Iraqi forces after next summer, despite a security agreement that calls for their withdrawal from urban areas by June 30, the top U.S. military commander said Saturday." With all that as the backdrop, Bumiller explains today that "a semantic dance" has begun at the Pentagon over what qualifies as a combat soldier and, with regards to the treaty, "Even though the agreement with the Iraqi government calls for all American combat troops to be out of the cities by the end of June, military planners are now quietly acknowledging that many will stay behind as renamed "trainers" and "advisers" in what are effectively combat roles. In other words, they will still be engaged in combat, just called something else." Bumiller notes that "trainers" and "advisers" will be the renaming terms for "combat troops" in order to keep them in Iraq: "In other words, they will still be engaged in combat, just called something else." Of Barack, she notes, "it has become clear that his definition of ending the war means leaving behind many thousands of American troops."
And that might mean the alleged 'anti-war' movement would mobilize. Fat chance. From Third's "Editorial: The Pathetic and Shameful UPFJ:"
For two years, United for Peace and Justice has done nothing to end the illegal war. If you like the faux radical fringe, you could find many of those in 'leadership' on various rag-tag Pacifica stations whoring themselves and the peace movement out as the booed and hissed at Hillary Clinton while insisting Barack Obama was a divine spread, perfect for a sacramental wafer. They all but smacked their lips into the microphones as they insisted "Heavenly delicious!"
So it was no surprise that United for Pathetic and Juvenile issued a purile statement on November 7th that was at once self-stroking and racially offensive. For the record, Barack Obama is bi-racial. We've covered that here. At the allegedly 'progressive' (no one loves that coded word moe than the multitude of political closet cases hiding out at UPFJ). For the record, Barack was never about ending the illegal war in Iraq. But UPFJ was so eager to spread like slutty cheerleaders (male and female) that they ignored that the same way they ignored their own alleged committment to ending the Afghanistan War. Yeah, Afghanistan, the war Barack campaigned on continuing.
So it was not surprising to discover United for Pathetic and Juvenile could sink even lower.
Eric Ruder and Ashley Smith (US Socialist Worker) provide a disturbing look at the recent 'strategy' sessions for UPFJ earlier this month where 'leaders' offered such 'insight' as Barack is 'our' "quarterback" and our role is to "block for him." That's so insulting on so many levels.
But United for Pathetic & Juvenile is so pleased with their 'work' in those December 12th through 14th 'strategy' sessions that they brag they have "adopted the 'Yes We Can' campaign". Debra Sweet (World Can't Wait) notes that she attended the sessions and "worked with others" to demand a DC march and demonstration in March for "the sixth anniversary of the war, Saturday March 21." But UPFJ had other plans. Sweet observes, "Not to directly challenge Obama's escalation of the war in Afghansitan is shameful. On the anniversay of 'Shock & Awe,' and under a new president, the anti-war movement needs to be in Washington. And many of us WILL be there." A.N.S.W.E.R. and other groups have already planned for a March 21st March on the Pentagon:
Marking the sixth anniversary of the criminal invasion of Iraq, on March 21, 2009, thousands will March on the Pentagon to say, "Bring the Troops Home NOW!" We will also demand "End Colonial Occupation in Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine and Everywhere" and "Fund Peoples' Needs Not Militarism and Bank Bailouts." We will insist on an end to the war threats and economic sanctions against Iran. We will say no to the illegal U.S. program of detention and torture.
To endorse the March 21 March on the Pentagon, click here. To sign up to be a Transportation Organizing Center, click here.
We will be noting that action again in coming weeks but A.N.S.W.E.R. deserves credit for being the second organization to call out the lies of the treaty:
The idea that the U.S. is in the process of ending the criminal occupation of Iraq is a myth. Washington and its dependent Iraqi government signed a "Status of Forces" agreement, supposedly calling for the U.S. military to leave Iraqi cities by July 1, 2009, and all of Iraq by 2012. But even this outrageous extension of an illegal occupation is just one more piece of deception, as was soon made clear by top U.S. and Iraqi officials.
The ink was hardly dry on the agreement when, on December 12, official Iraq government spokesman Ali al Dabbagh dismissed the idea that U.S. troops would leave by 2012: "We do understand that the Iraqi military is not going to get built out in the three years. We do need many more years. It might be 10 years."
The next day, General Raymond Odierno, commander of "coalition (U.S.) forces" in Iraq, stated that thousands of U.S. troops could remain inside Iraqi cities after July 1, 2009, as part of "training and mentoring teams."
Government propaganda aside, the reality remains that only the people can end the war and occupation in Iraq. To endorse the March 21 March on the Pentagon, click here, and to sign up to be a Transportation Organizing Center, click here.
The other organization that has called out the lies of the treaty masquerading as a Status Of Forces Agreement is the American Freedom Campaign.
Today the US military announced: "A Multi-National Force -- West Marine died Dec. 21, as the result of wounds received in action when he was attacked by an enemy force in al-Anbar province." The announcement follows three deaths on Saturday: Jonathan W. Dean, Coleman W. Hinkefent, and a Marine who has yet to be identified. ICCC's count is 6 for the month of December thus far with 4213 since the start of the illegal war.
[. . .]
In other news The Women on the Web (wowOwow) have named "The 2008 wowOwow Lis of 20 Fabulous Female Firsts" which they summarize as, "Here's to Hillary Clinton, Sarah Palin, a four-star general and 18 other glass-ceiling-shattering women of 2008." Sample:
Hillary Rodham Clinton: As if you weren't aware, Hillary Rodham Clinton's the first woman listed as a presidential candidate in every primary and caucus around the country. We're sure she'll break even more records in the years ahead!
Sarah Palin: This self-proclaimed maverick shot straight out of Alaska's frontier this year to become the Republican Party's first female vice-presidential running mate. She didn't win, but Palin's now secured her spot as a household name.
Jeanne Shaheen: Shaheen may have thought her political career was over when she ended her six-year tenure as New Hampshire's governor in 2003, but this fierce lawmaker simply couldn't resist a senatorial run. And her win this year makes her the state's first female senator.
Lt. Gen. Ann Dunwoody: Ann Dunwoody joined the Army in 1975 with the intention of staying for only two years. Obviously she liked the experience, because this year she became our nation's first four-star female general. That's something we salute!
Click here for the full list. Feminist Wire covers Jerry Brown (California AG) calling for Proposition 8 to be invalidated -- this is the infamous measure that attempts to overturn the equal rights of all adults to marry in California and restrict marriage to male-female combos only.
Independent journalist David Bacon latest book is Illegal People -- How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants (Beacon Press) and it has created a stir. Three strong reviews of the book appear at Foreign Policy in Focus. Thursday's snapshot noted Laura Carlsen's review and I and incorrectly stated that two more reviews were at that link. My apologies. At the top of the review, you see the links for the other two reviews: "(Editor's Note: Mary Bauer also responded to Michele Wucker's review of David Bacon's book Illegal People: How Globalization Creates Immigration and Criminalizes Immigrants.) " From Bauer's piece:
What Bacon's book does better than anything I have read before is to explain the cycle of that structure and how it leads inevitably to the abuses he catalogues. He starts at the beginning of the cycle -- the forces in Mexico and other nations that drive people northward from the homes they love. Bacon often focuses on Oaxaca and the agricultural life, rich in tradition and culture, if not money, that had been possible for many before the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). He describes the breakdown of that life that NAFTA pushed into place, making small farming in rural Mexico impossible. After the NAFTA "reforms," longtime peasant farmers found that there was literally no market for their product, and there was thus no possibility for earning income in their home communities.
Bacon's latest article is "Why The Union Won At Smithfield" (American Prospect) and we'll close with the opening:
When immigration agents raided Smithfield Food's huge North Carolina slaughterhouse two years ago, organizer Eduardo Peña compared the impact to a "nuclear bomb." The day after, people were so scared that most of the plant's 5,000 employees didn't show up for work. The lines where they kill and cut apart 32,000 hogs every day were motionless.
Yet on December 11, when the votes were counted in the same packing plant, 2,041 workers had voted to join the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) , while just 1,879 had voted against it. That stunning reversal set off celebrations in house trailers and ramshackle homes in Tarheel, Red Springs, Santa Paula, and all the tiny working class towns spread from Fayetteville down to the South Carolina border.
Relief and happiness are understandable in North Carolina, where union membership is the lowest in the country. But Smithfield workers were not just celebrating a vote count. They'd just defeated one of the longest, most bitter anti-union campaigns in modern U.S. labor history. Their victory was the product of an organizing strategy that accomplished what many have said that U.S. unions can no longer do - organize huge, privately-owned factories.
RECOMMENDED: "Iraq snapshot"
"Bumiller offers the reality Panhandle Media refuses to provide"
"Shoe-toss trial scheduled for Dec. 31st"
Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Princess Brat Campaigns"