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"