PRINCESS BRAT'S ONLY CREDENTIAL FOR BEING A U.S. SENATOR?
HER LAST NAME, A NEW POLL FINDS. KENNEDY, TACKED ON TO CAROLINE, IS HER ONLY 'QUALIFICATION.'
PRINCESS BRAT, PICTURED BELOW, LAUGHED WHEN THESE REPORTERS FILLED HER IN ON THE RESULTS.
SAID PRINCESS BRAT, "I KNOW HOW TO HANDLE THIS. IT'S JUST LIKE WHEN MOMMY MARRIED ARI O. SEE THE PEOPLE OF NEW YORK WANT STUFF FROM ME, JUST LIKE ARI WANTED STUFF FROM MOMMY. BUT MOMMY WAS ALL, 'LISTEN BUSTER, WE WILL HAVE SEX X NUMBER OF TIMES A MONTH! AND I'M PUTTING IT IN WRITING!' AND THAT'S REALLY THE WAY TO HANDLE SEX OR THE PUBLIC, AT A DISTANCE AND AS LITTLE AS YOU HAVE TO."
IN OTHER NEWS, JOE GAROFOLI REMAINS AN IDIOT. DEVELOPING.
The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom released their first report since May 2007 this week. As they note in their Tuesday press release, they are calling for Iraq to "be designated as a 'country of particular concern' (CPC) under the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA), in light of the ongoing, severe abuses of religious freedom and the Iraqi government's toleration of these abuses, particularly abuses against Iraq's smallest, most vulnerable religious minorities. . . . The situation is especially dire for Iraq's smallest religious minorities, including ChaldoAssyrian and other Christians, Sabean Mandeans, and Yazidis." Yazidis were the most recently known to be targeted with a late Sunday night, early Monday morning home invasion in a village outside of Mosul that saw 7 members of the same family shot dead. Mosul and the immediate surrounding area have especially been active with acts of violence aimed at religious minorities since this summer. The report is entitled "Iraq Report - 2008" and it is not in PDF format (and it displays as a single page). The report notes, "Like Mandaens, Yazidis as a community are particularly vulnerable to annihilation because one can only be born into the Yazidi religion." The report notes flyers posted around Mosul in 2004 promising "divine awards awaited those who killed Yazidis". On Iraqi Christians, the report notes, "The most recent attacks took place in the northern city of Mosul in late September/early October 2008, when at lest 14 Christians were killed and many more report they were threatened, spurring some 13,000 individuals to flee to villages east and north of the city and an estimated 400 families to flee to Syria. The United Nations has estimated that this number is half of the current Christian population in Mosul. Those who met with displaced Christians were told that Christians had received threatening text messages and had been approached by strangers asking to see their national indentity cards, which show religious affiliation. At the time of this writing, the attackers had not been identified, and Chrisian leaders had called for an international investigation." They also note the half of returnees in November when 2 young Christian girls were killed and their mother wounded. The Mandaeans are estimated to number between 3,500 to 5,000 in Iraq currently after following "almost 90 percent reportedly having either fled the country or been killed". Mandaen women have been kidnapped, raped, forced into marriage with non-Mandeans and "forced to wear the hijab" while Manaean "boys have been kidnapped and forcibly circumcised, a sin in the Mandean religion." The Baha'i population is noted briefly and said to number approximately 2,000 while the Jewish population is said to have fallen to ten -- ten who must "live essentially in hiding." Previous reports and press reports in past years has noted a concentration in Baghdad and, as the numbers fell due to deaths (from violent attacks) and due to fleeing the country, the small number remaining were said to be elderly. The report makes no mention of the age of the ten.
The report notes:
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.
The commission states there are 2 million external Iraqi refugees and 2.8 million internal refugees. On external refugees, the report explains:
Between November 2007 and May 2008, the Commission traveled to Jordan, Iraq, Syria, and Sweden to meet with Iraqi asylum-seekers, refugees, and IDPs. These vulnerable and traumatized individuals provided accounts of kidnapping, rape, murder, torture, and threats to themselves, their families, or their community. While the vast majority of interviewees could not identify the perpetrators, they suspected various militias and extremist groups of committing these acts, and often provided specific identifying details.
Non-Muslim minority refugees told the Commission that they were targeted because they do not conform to orthodox Muslim religious practices and/or because, as non-Muslims, they are perceived to be working for the U.S.-led coalition forces. Members of these communities recounted how they, as well as other members of their families and communities, had suffered violent attacks, including murder, torture, rape, abductions for ransom or forced conversion, and the destruction or seizure of property, particularly businesses such as liquor stores or hair salons deemed un-Islamic. They also reported being forced to pay a protection tax and having been forced to flee their homes in fear after receiving threats to "convert, leave, or die." In addition, they told of their places of worship being bombed and forced to close and their religious leaders being kidnapped and/or killed.
Sunni and Shi'a Muslim refugees told of receiving death threats, of family members being killed, of kidnappings, of their houses being burned down, and of forced displacements. Some refugees reported being targeted because of jobs held by them or their relatives, either connected to the U.S. government or to the Ba'athist regime. Other refugees spoke of being targeted because they were part of a mixed Muslim marriage or because their family was Sunni in a predominately Shi'a neighborhood or vice versa. Many stated that the sectarian identities of their relatives and friends were either not known or not important before 2003, and several spoke of their families including both Sunnis and Shi'as and of the diverse nature of neighborhoods before the sectarian violence. One refugee woman told the Commission that, after her son was kidnapped and returned to her, she received a phone call from a government official who knew the exact details of the kidnapping and who told her that her entire family should leave Iraq. When they got their visas to go to Syria, their passports were stamped "no return." Because of this incident, she alleged to the Commission that the government must have been involved in the violence directed at her family.
Adelle M. Banks (Religion News Service) observes, "Commissioners encouraged President-elect Barack Obama's incoming administration to make prevention of abuse a high priority and to seek safety for all Iraqis and fair elections. They also asked the U.S. government to appoint a special envoy for human rights in Iraq and Iraqi officials to establish police units for vulnerable minority communities. They also seek changes in Iraq's constitution, which currently gives Islam a preferred status, to strengthen human rights guarantees." Tom Strode (Baptist Press) quotes the committee's chair, Felice Gaer, stating in Tuesday's press conference, "The lack of effective government action to protect these communities from abuses has established Iraq among the most dangerous places on earth for religious minorities." UPI notes, "The commission also condemned a decision to reduce the representation allocated to members of the minority religious community in the upcoming provincial elections scheduled for January."
Meanwhile in Iraq, Waleed Ibrahim (Reuters) reports, "Muslim preachers from both sides of Iraq's once-bloody Sunni-Shi'ite divide appealed to the government on Friday to release the journalist who threw his shoes at U.S. Preisdent George W. Bush." The latest voices calling for Muntadar al-Zeidi's release sound out as his injuries become less of a whispered aside and more of a centeral issue. Nico Hines (Times of London) reported early this morning that Judge Dhia al-Kinani has declared "he would find out who beat" Muntadhar and that al-Kinani "said that Mr al-Zeidi 'was beaten in the news conference and we will watch the tape and write an official letter asking for the names of those who assaulted him'." Qassim Abdul-Zahra (AP) notes "bruises on his face and around his eyes" and, as for the alleged letter, adds: "A spokesman for al-Maliki said Thursday that the letter contained a specific pardon request. But al-Zeidi's brother Dhargham told The AP that he suspected the letter was a forgery." Timothy Williams and Atheer Kakan (New York Times) report, "The government did not release the letter, and a lawyer for the reporter said that during a conversation with him on Wednesday the reporter did not tell her about it. But the lawyer, Ahlam Allami, also said the reporter, Muntader al-Zaidi, had told her he had never meant to insult the Iraqi government or Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki when he hurled his shoes at the president during a news conference with the two leaders on Sunday." CBS and AP note, "CBS News Baghdad producer Randall Joyce says al-Zeidi has been kept completely out of the reach of his legal representation and his family since the show-throwing incident late on Sunday - a fact which typifies a deeply flawed Iraqi justice system." Wednesday saw the Iraqi Parliament end a session with the Speaker threatening/vowing to quit. Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) explains, "Parliament speaker Mahmoud al Mashhdani threatened to resign at one point during Wednesday's debate over Zaidi's status. Anti-American cleric Muqtada al Sadr's party pressed Zaidi's case. . . . Mashhani's colleagues refused to convene when they saw him return to parliament on Thursday, several of them said [Muhsin al] Saddon said he expects the political parties to accept Mashhdani's resignation Saturday, after which they'd appoint a new parliament leader. Others aren't so sure that Mashhdani will step down."
No one appears very sure of what happened with yesterday's arrests ordered at the Ministry of the Interior ordered by puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki. Today Interior Minister Jawad Bolani held a press conference and Waleed Ibrahim (Reuters) quotes him stating, "It is a big lie. The public must understand this." He was speaking of the whispers that a coup was being plotted by those arrested. Sudarsan Raghavan and Qais Mizher (Washington Post) explain that several MPs are raising the issue that the arrests were for political reasons, specifically "an attempt by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to demonstrate his power." They also note this basic fact, "On Thursday, senior government officials continued to provide contradictory explanations for the detentions." What is known, the reporters point out, is that:
Maliki has steadily consolidated his power this year. In March, he ordered the military to combat Shiite militias and assert government control over the southern city of Basra, a goal that Iraqi forces accomplished with help from the U.S.-led coalition. Since then, Maliki has sought to tighten his grip across the country. His brokering of a U.S-Iraq security pact that requires the American forces to withdraw by the end of 2011 has bolstered his popularity among many Iraqis.
Ned Parker and Saif Hameed (Los Angeles Times) speak with MPs such as Mahmoud Othma who states of the arrests, "This reminds me of the old regime. It's confusing. First they were saying coup d'etat . . . It's not clear what is going on. I'm afraid this may have some political ends from the government, maybe from the prime minister." Campbell Robertson and Tareq Maher (New York Times) advise, "The conflicting accounts of the operation prompted an urgent question from Mr. Maliki's critics: Were the arrests politically motivated, carried out as a way for Mr. Maliki to weaken his rivals before the nationwide provincial elections planned for next month? Suspicions were fueled by reports that a counterterrorism force overseen directly by Mr. Maliki was part of the operation, though several officials denied it." Thursday's snapshot incorrectly had Tareq Maher's first name dictated (by me) as "Tariq" -- that was my mistake. My apologies. Oliver August (Times of London) refers to the events as "a sectarian turf war" and observes, "The power struggle exposed the deep sectarian faultlines in the Iraqi Government. . . . A source in the ministry and a member of the Constitution party, told The Times: 'This is a move against our party. They are trying to get all the Sunni officers out of the ministry. It's a political game, not a coup." Meanwhile Waleed Ibrahim, Ahmed Rasheed and Missy Ryan (Reuters) report Nineveh Province voted to delay provincial elections but that vote isn't being headed by the Electoral Commission whose deputy head Osama al-Ani states, "No one has the right to delay the provincial elections scheduled for Jan. 31 except for the prime minister . . . with the approval of parliament." Qassim Abdul-Zahra (AP) breaks the news that all arrested have been "released without charge" according to Jawad al-Bonai.
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Saturday, December 20, 2008
Thursday, December 18, 2008
PRINCESS BRAT WANTS TO BE APPOINTED SENATOR. SHE WANTS IT SO BAD THAT, AS SHE POINTED OUT TO THESE REPORTERS WITH A WRINKLED NOSE, "I HAD LUNCH WITH AL SHARPTON IN HARLEM AND MY FAMILY IS NOTORIOUS FOR BEING VERY PLESSY V. FERGUSON WHEN IT COMES TO RACE RELATIONS."
PRINCESS BRAT, PICTURED BELOW, DID NOT LIKE BEING QUIZZED ABOUT HER VOTING RECORD.
"I'VE NEVER HELD OFFICE," CAROLINE CRIED, "OF COURSE I HAVE A LOUSY VOTING RECORD."
BUT THESE REPORTERS WERE SPEAKING OF PRINCESS BRAT'S REFUSAL TO VOTE IN ELECTIONS. SINCE 1988, 38 TIMES SHE SHOULD VOTED AND SHE MISSED APPROXIMATELY 1/2.
"SO?" ASKED PRINCESS BRAT.
WELL, IF YOU'RE GIVEN THE SENATE SEAT, PEOPLE WOULD EXPECT YOU TO VOTE.
"LOOK, BUBS, I'VE GOT BRUNCH WITH SARAH JESSICA 1ST THING TOMORROW, YOU WANT TO WRAP THIS UP?"
THIS COMES AS OUR COLLEAGUE PHILISSA CRAMER POINTS OUT THAT CAROLINE KENNEDY'S NEVER BEEN WHAT ANYONE WOULD CALL A HARD WORKER:
Back in 2004, when Kennedy stepped down from her DOE position, David Herszenhorn wrote in the Times:
This week, Wayne Barrett argues in the Village Voice that Kennedy's reported fundraising totals at the DOE are merely "hype." Kennedy's resume is now being exaggerated by Klein and others to make her appear skilled, when in fact her "aura" underpinned her fundraising success, Barrett writes:
FOR THOSE WHO FEAR THAT CAROLINE KENNEDY MIGHT BE GIVEN A POSITION SHE DIDN'T EARN, CBS' JULIE CHEN STEPPED FORWARD TO DEFEND HER. THAT WOULD BE JULIE OF THE I-SLEPT-WITH-MY-MARRIED-BOSS-AND-ENDED-UP-WITH-A-CAREER-AND-HIM-AS-A-HUSBAND. YEAH, JULIE, YOU'RE A ROLE MODEL.
The Committee to Protect Journalists released their end-of-year analysis today and "the deadliest country in the world for the press" is . . . For the sixth year in a row, the 'honor' goes to Iraq:
All of those killed in Iraq were local journalists working for domestic news outlets. The victims included Shihab al-Tamimi, head of the Iraqi Journalists Syndicate, who died from injuries suffered in a targeted shooting in Baghdad. Soran Mama Hama, a reporter for Livin magazine, was targeted by gunmen in front of his home after reporting on prostitution and corruption in Kirkuk.
Two media support workers also died in Iraq during the year. Since the beginning of the war in March 2003, 136 journalists and 51 media workers have been killed, making it the deadliest conflict for the press in recent history.
The 11 journalists CPJ lists as killed in Iraq in 2008 are Alaa Abdul-Karim al-Fartoosi in Balad January 29th, Shihab al-Tamimi in Baghdad February 27th, Jassim al-Batat in Basra April 25th, Sarwa Abdul-Wahab in Mosul May 4th, Wissam Ali Ouda in Baghdad May 21st, Haidar al-Hussein in Diyala Province May 22nd, Mohieldin Al-Naqeeb in Mosul June 17th, Soran Mama Hama in Kirkuk July 21st, and in Mosul -- on September 13th -- Musab Mahmmod al-Ezawi, Ahmed Salim and Ihab Mu'd.
Iraqi journalist Muntader al-Zeidi is currently imprisoned following his tossing two shoes at the Bully Boy of the United States on Sunday. Yesterday Randall Joyce (CBS News) observed, "He has disappeared into an Iraqi legal system that is deeply flawed and, at times, intentionally confusing. If transparency is the standard for a good court system, then Iraq's is the opposite. Opaque doesn't begin to describe it." Joyce noted that Muntader was not present in Iraq's Central Court as had been announced and that family and lawers were instead given second-hand accounts. Joyce explained, "Al-Zeidi's family was informed at today's hearing that he is being held in a jail in the Green Zone, but when our crew went to that facility they were told he had never been there. So far, no member of his family has seen him and we have no idea of his physical condition. There is no explanation so far as to why the hearing took place a day earlier than planned at a secret location without the presence of al-Zeidi's legal team or family." Today Randall Joyce notes that Muntader's attorneys are still being prevented from seeing their client as is his family: "Family members have expressed concern that al-Zeidi may have been severely beaten after the incident and is being hidden from view to keep the nature of his injuries from the public. His continued detention is becoming a political issue here in Baghdad, where thousands have marched demanding his release. The television channel he works for continues to run extended programs featuring interviews and phone call-in segments demanding his release." According to Joyce, the law under which Muntader might be prosecuted "existed before the U.S. invasion". One question should be why Saddam-era guidelines are being followed after Saddam has not only been disposed but also executed? Another would be where's the evidence? AFP reports that the judge is stating, "The shoes were examined by the Iraqi and American security services and then destroyed." If true, the shoes -- or alleged shoes -- were never examined by the court and cannot be presented as evidence. Wisam Mohammed (Reuters) reports puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki says Muntader has apologized for throwing the shoes. And he did so in writing -- al-Maliki claims. Which may or may not be true (as with most of al-Maliki's claims). But they've produced a written confession! After denying Muntader access to his attorneys and, of course, after beating him. Jormana Karadsheh (CNN) portrays the written confession as a request "for leniency" and allows Yaseen al-Majeed -- spokesperson for the puppet -- to babble on without ever making the point that neither his family nor his attorneys have been allowed to see Muntader. Riyadh Suhail (Saudi Gazette) notes Dergham al-Zeidi, Muntader's brother, states he's been told "his brother's hands and ribs are fractured and he has eyes and leg injuries."
Yesterday Zain Verjee (CNN) interviewed US Secretary of State Condi Rice for Anderson Cooper 360 and the topic of Muntader was raised. From the transcript at the State Dept website:
Zain Verjee: Staying in Iraq, the shoe-throwing incident, it was really a symbol in so many ways in the Arab world of utter contempt --
Condi Rice: Yeah --
Zain Verjee: -- for President Bush.
Condi Rice: And it was one journalist among several who were sitting there respectfully, and I hope it isn't allowed over time to obscure the fact that this was the President of the United States standing in Baghdad next to the democratically elected Shia Prime Minister of a multiconfessional Iraq that has just signed agreements of friendship and cooperation with the United States for the long term.
Zain Verjee: But the man may have been one journalist, but he was viewed throughout much of the Arab world as a real hero.
Condi Rice: Oh, I --
Zain Verjee: My question is --
Condi Rice: I have heard so many people --
Zain Verjee: My question to you is --
Condi Rice: Yes?
Zain Verjee: -- does it bother you that with all the diplomacy that you've done, President Bush's policies, the policies that you've carried out --
Condi Rice: Zain --
Zain Verjee: that the US is so loathed around the world?
Condi Rice: Zain, the United States is not loathed. The policies of the United States are sometimes not liked. People don't like that we've had to say hard things and do hard things about terrorism. People don't like that we've spoken fiercely for the right of Israel to defend itself at the same time that we've advocated for a Palestinian state. But I have to go back. So many people in and around when that incident happened told me how embarrassed they were by the fact that that had happened. But the crux --
Zain Verjee: But didn't it upset you? Didn't it?
Condi Rice: No, no, only the focus of those who are supposed to be reporting for history didn't focus on the historical moment, which is what this was -- the President of the United States in Baghdad, for goodness sake, with a freely elected prime minister in a show of friendship. It didn't get reported that the Iraqi band spent apparently several -- all night trying to learn our national anthem and did it really rather well.
No, she's not that stupid. She is an educated woman and she knows damn well that the history books do not spend pages and pages on how the British band played "The World Turned Upside Down" as the British surrendered at Yorktown in 1781 -- or how many hours of practice the band had. She knows that, November 5, 1913, when then Col. Teddy Rossevelt landed in Argentina on the Rosario, the military band played both the US and the Argentine national anthems but that's not really a main item in the history books -- nor is how long the band practiced before their performance. The things she refers to are the details -- as she well knows -- while the news is the shoe toss. At the State Dept today Sean McCormack parroted and referenced Rice's really bad interview. As the head of the alleged diplomatic arm of the US plays the fool, Reporters Without Borders started calling for the release of Muntadar on Tuesday:
We obviously regret that the journalist used this method of protest against the politics of the American press. But for humanitarian reasons and to ease tension, we call for the release of Muntadar al-Zaidi who has been held by the Iraqi authorities for two days.
Given the controvery surrounding this incident, we urge the Iraqi security services to guarantee the physical wellbeing of this journalist, who was clearly injured during his arrest.
While we do not approve of this kind of behaviour as a means of expressing an opinion or convictions, the relaxed way in which George W Bush spoke about the incident afterwards, should give the Iraqi authorities all the more reason to show leniency.
The Wall St. Journal's Baghdad Life blog reminds that the issue in Iraq isn't just the Bully Boy of the United States, "the jokes also include Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who held out his hand to try to block the second shoe thrown at Mr. Bush." On al-Maliki, Martin Sieff (UPI) declares, "The plotters arrested in Iraq's Interior Ministry did not pose a serious threat to the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. But the very existence of the plot throws enormous doubt over the survival and stability of Iraq's 3-year-old democratic system, once the main combat force of the U.S. armed forces leaves the country." Coup! Oh goodness! Oh nonsense. Al Jazeera reports that Ministry of Interior's Abdul-Karim Khalaf for the record "dismissed suggestions that they [those arrested] had been plotting a coup." Aseel Kami and Waleed Ibrahim (Reuters) add that "Khalaf ridiculed speculation about a coup" and declared, "Suggesting there is a coup going on in Iraq is like saying an ant is going out to arrest an elephant." Al Jazeera notes: "Brigadier-General Alaa al-Taei, the ministry's head of public relations, said those arrested were not accused of plotting a coup, but were suspected of planning to burn down the ministry, possibly to destroy evidence again" while MP Abbas al-Bayati states, "I think talking about a coup is an exaggeration." Campbell Robertson and Tariq Maher (New York Times) broke the story and set the pattern for over reliance on official whispers. Sudarsan Raghavan and Qais Mizher (Washington Post) stuck with the facts: "It was unclear precisely why the officials were arrested. Some said it was because they were involved in corruption involving the issuing of fake documents and car license plates. Others described a more diabolical plot to resurrect al-Awda, or the Reutrn, a party composed of Hussein's loyalists that has been banned by the government. . . . Also unknown was whether the officials were trying to plot the overthrow of Maliki, who has been trying to cement his power in recent months, raising tensions with various political parties." Oliver August (Times of London) noted a problem with the reported versions early on, "Contrary to media reports that an elite military unit controlled by the Prime Minister made the arrests, the ministry spokesman said, 'The officers were connected to the Baath Party [once run by Saddam Hussein[ and they were arrested by our forces inside the ministry'." Raheem Salman and Ned Parker (Los Angeles Times) added, "Western officials have described Maliki a religious Shiite, as deeply suspicious of a coup by Iraqi security officers, many of whom are secular and nostalgic for the old Iraqi army. The prime minister has long sought to consolidate his power and control of the army and police. All security forces now report back to his office."
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Wednesday, December 17, 2008
ASKED TO COMMENT, RAHM EMANUEL DECLARED HE KNEW NOTHING, HE WAS TALKING TO NO ONE AND THAT, IN FACT, HE WASN'T EVEN STANDING BEFORE THESE REPORTERS.
"I AM A FIGMENT OF YOUR IMAGINATION," SAID WHAT APPEARED TO BE RAHM. "JUST LIKE ROD BLAGOVEJICH, I DO NOT REALLY EXIST."
Muntathar al Zaidi is the journalist who threw his shoes at the Bully Boy of the United States on Sunday and has been imprisoned since. Jenan Hussein and Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) report on today's actions in support of Muntathar which included, "Students raised their shoes and threw rocks at American soldiers, who reportedly opened fire above the crowd. Protesters said that indirect fire wounded one student, Zaid Salih. U.S. forces haven't confirmed the account." Demonstrations have been taking place throughout Iraq since Monday demanding the release of the journalist and they continued today when, AP reported this morning, Muntadar was expected to see his case taken to the Central Criminal Court of Iraq today where it would be determined whether or not futher judicial review is needed, with some calling for him to be charged "with insulting a foreign leader, a charge that carries a maximum of 2 years imprisonment or a small fine."
Timothy Williams and Abeer Mohammed (New York Times) explained that "Iraqi criminal lawyers not involved in the case say there are several possible charges he could face, including initiating an aggressive act against the head of a foreign state on an official visit, with a potential punishment of seven years in prison. A less severe charge, insulting the leader of a foreign nation, carries a sentence of up to two years in prison or a fine of 200 Iraqi dinars, about 17 cents. A third possible crime, simple aggression, is punishable by up to one year in prison or a fine." Catherine Philp (Times of London) reports on a new development, "The brother of Muntadhar al-Zeidi, who secured his place in infamy with his outburst at the President's press conference in Baghdad, claimed that the Shia journalist had been so badly beaten in custody that police were unable to produce him in court.
Mr al-Zeidi's family were told that a court hearing had been held in his jail cell instead and that they would not be allowed to see him for at least another eight days." Dargham al-Zeidi is quoted stating, "That means my brother was severely beaten and they fear that his appearance could trigger anger at the court." BBC quotes Muntadhar's brother Uday al-Zeidi stating, "We waited until 10 in the morning but Muntadar did not show up. Upon inquiring as to his whereabouts, we were told that the interrogating judge had gone to see him, something that contradicts the measures followed in all international laws in general."
While Dana Perino, speaking for the White House Tuesday, has made clear the White House's position ("So we hold no hard feelings about it, and we've really moved on"), the US State Dept continues to appear caught off guard. Monday spokesperson Robert Wood declared, "I mean, look at how President Bush was received overall by Prime Minister Maliki and others in the Iraqi government. I think it says a lot." Today, Wood continued to spin when asked if the US was taking a position on the case, "That's -- look -- this all happened in the context of Iraq's democracy and that will be a decision for the Iraqis as to whether or not this person is charged. . . . But look, Iraq's a democracy, these type of things happen in a democracy and that's all I can say about it." Challenged that he was avoiding the issue, Wood responded, "I'm not ducking anything. It's an Iraqi matter so it should be left to the Iraqis to deal with." Wood is ducking everything including skirting the issue of anyone facing the Iraqi judicial system. On Monday Staffan de Mistura, United Nations Special Representative to Iraq was sounding alarms regarding the Iraqi judicial system. Kim Gamel (AP) reported, "Concern is currently focused on the beleaguered Iraqi judicial system, with the United Nations warning in a recent human rights report about overcrowding and 'grave human rights violations' of detainees in Iraqi custody." Also this week Human Rights Watch issued a report on Iraq's Central Crimal Court - the court Muntadar went before today. Reuters noted of the report, "They also received ineffectual legal counsel and judges frequently relied on testimony from secret informants or confessions likely to have been extracted under torture or duress, the New York-based group said in a report. Impartial administration of justice for all Iraqis was supposed to be a hallmark of the country's break with the abuses of the Saddam Hussein era and help heal sectarian divides after years of horrific violence, it said."
The Los Angeles Times' Babylon & Beyond noted the growing cry to relase Muntadar including "A Sunni lawmaker, Noureldeen Hiyali, held a news conference to defend Zaidi, saying the reporter had cracked after more than five years of war as seen through the close-up angle of a reporter." Jenan Hussein and Adam Ashton (McClatchy Newspapers) offer, "Zaidi's employer, the Baghdadiya satellite channel, hasn't criticized its reporter. To the contrary, it's resisted a call for an apology to the government and called for Zaidi's unconditional release." CBS and AP note international actions today included: "In Pakistan, demonstrators held a candlelight vigil outside the U.S. Consulate in Lahore on Wednesday, carrying photographs of al-Zeidi and hand-painted signs saying things like 'Hush, Hush Bush. We Hate You.' And on a road in Karachi, a man painted "10" inside a large outline of a foot, with an arrow pointing to 'BUSH' --- a reference to Bush's joke about the shoe's size. At a small rally outside the Iraqi Embassy in Ankara, Turkey, the head of a civil servant union displayed a pair of shoes he said he intends to send to al-Zeidi as a show of support." In Iraq, Catherine Philp (Times of London) explains, "Anger at Mr al-Zeidi's treatment erupted none the less, hijacking a legislative session in Parliament, provoking stand-up rows and prompting the resignation of the assembly's notoriously hot-tempered Speaker." She then quotes Mahmoud al-Mashhadani stating, "I have no honour leading this parliament and I announce my resignation." Al Jazeera observes that Muntadhar was one of several issues causing the uproar: "Mahmoud al-Mashhadani, Iraq's parliament speaker, has threatened to resign following house arguments concerning the presence of foreign troops and the imprisonment of a local journalist who threw his shoes at George Bush."
Bobby Ghosh (Time magazine) offers this evaluation, "Still, al-Zaidi may have done Bush a favor. In an ABC News interview the next day, the President conceded for the first time that al-Qaeda had no presence in Iraq before the U.S. invasion, adding, "So what?" In another news cycle, this admission would have dominated the headlines: that after the debunking of Bush's original excuse for war--Saddam's weapons of mass destruction--his argument that Iraq was a crucial nexus in the global war on terrorism also held no water. Thanks to al-Zaidi, nobody heard the other shoe drop." And while that puts the Bully Boy into perspective, Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) explains that the folk hero journalist may be sparking a movement as the non-stop closing of a bridge in Baghdad is not merely tolerated today:
Around 12:30 p.m. several vehicles loaded with Iraqi soldiers accompanying two or three buses stopped in mid square and tried to close it (like every day) but drivers refused to obey. We are tired of closed roads.
The horns of tens of cars were loud. Angry drivers yelled at soldiers. Not even when the soldiers brandished their rifles at the cars would the drivers stop. There were shots in the air, but the vehicles continued on. The military saw, for the first time I think, mass anger for blocking roads.
I have been in this square almost every day for the last four years, on the way to one official function or another, and nothing like this has ever happened. This time, the soldiers were forced to park their vehicles in a way that allowed civilian cars to pass.
Which brings us back to Robert Wood and his remarks on behalf of the State Dept. The US State Dept has repeatedly demonstrated it grasps very little. That is how Moqtada al-Sadr found renewed status in February of this year. If the State Dept wants to risk the transformation of a folk hero into a martyr, then they should continue to sit on the sidelines and do nothing.
[. . .]
In non-Iraq news, independent journalist David Bacon latest book is Illegal People -- How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants (Beacon Press) and it has created a stir. Laura Carlsen reviews the book at Foreign Policy in Focus:
The immediate challenge is to build a broad-based movement to pass a fair and humane reform that grants all workers and their families equal rights and protections under the law.
David Bacon's book, Illegal People: How Globalization Creates Immigration and Criminalizes Immigrants provides essential tools to envision and fight for this reform. For that reason, Michele Wucker's biased interpretation and portrayal of the book does this budding movement a disservice.
There are two fundamental differences of opinion between Wucker and Bacon that must come to the forefront of the debate on how to frame this reform.
The first question is the bad apples one - whether the numerous cases of employer abuse of undocumented workers and guestworkers that Bacon describes are anomalies or corporate labor strategies for reducing costs and increasing profits.
Wucker states that Bacon chronicles the misdeeds of "bad-apple employers" while giving short shrift to "employers who would hire workers with papers if the system provided a way to do so" and that Bacon's "cut-and-dried labor-good, corporate-bad message doesn't leave room for such subtleties."
The problem isn't one of subtleties - it's a question of how we analyze the real forces opposing legalization for migrant workers and what kind of strategies we build based on that. Bacon's book is devoted to documenting the structural aspects of the use of visa and undocumented workers in the United States and how that has become a major strategy for competition and profits in the age of globalization. He describes a series of corporate-led policies and practices - trade agreements that displace workers in their countries of origin, the criminalization of work, the definition of people as illegal, and the use of migrant labor to erode labor rights - that create a system of abuse. After reading the skilled combination of history, personal testimonies, statistics and logically constructed arguments, it's difficult to see this system as anything less than a widespread corporate strategy based on fundamentally unfair practices.
Immigration Myths Debunked
Bacon debunks several myths of the immigration debate that have led to dead-ends. One is that employers would hire native workers if they could. Bacon cites many statistical studies showing that the increase in migrant labor has been accompanied by an increase in unemployment among certain sectors of U.S. workers, especially black workers. The reason is not that migrants do work U.S. workers won't do. It's that employers have actively replaced organized workers and workers with exercisable rights with the more easily manipulated migrant workforce.
The same link will take you to Mary Bauer's review and Michele Wucker. Meanwhile last night's community posts explored Peanuts, Stan's "The Invisible Franklin," Mike's "Charlie Brown stinks at baseball," Rebecca's "i always identified with sally brown," Marcia's "The Outing of Charlie Brown," Betty's "Franklin and Violet," Ruth's "A Jewish perspective," Trina's "Peanuts in the Kitchen," Elaine's "Snoopy and Woodstock," and Kat's "Charles Shultz' women." Cedric's "Park Avenue Prisoner Edwin Schlossberg " and Wally's "THIS JUST IN! EDWIN SCHLOSSBERG, PRISONER OF PARK AVENUE!" (joint-post) went up this morning.
CAN A PUBLISHER PUT HIS MISTRESS ON THE FRONT PAGE OF HIS NEWSPAPERS TWO DAYS IN A ROW? IF HER NAME IS CAROLINE KENNEDY, THEN YES HE CAN!
MEANWHILE PRINCESS BRAT CONTINUES TO BE DOGGED BY AND IGNORE QUESTIONS ABOUT THE LOCATION OF HER CUCKOLDED HUSBAND EDWIN SCHLOSSBERG.
REACHED FOR COMMENT, SCHLOSSBERG TOLD THESE REPORTERS, "I GUESS I CAN'T EVEN PRETEND TO MOUNT SURPRISE. I MEAN, AFTER ALL, WHEN YOUR NAMED EDWIN IT'S LIKE YOUR PARENTS HAVE SET YOU UP TO BE A CUKOLD."
ASKED WHETHER HE PREFERRED TO BE BILLED AS "THE NEW JUDY DEAN" (HOWARD DEAN'S NOTORIOUSLY PRESS SHY WIFE) OR "THE PRISONER OF PARK AVENUE," SCHLOSSBERG DECLARED, "I THINK THE LATTER. IT ACKNOWLEDGES HOW PRICEY MY PERSONAL HELL IS. AND, IN ANSWER TO YOUR THIRD QUESTION, I HAVE TOLD CAROLINE OVER AND OVER THAT THE ORANGE HAIR IS UNATTRACTIVE BUT SHE SWEARS IT IS A SHADE OF BLONDE."
Oliver August (Times of London) reports Iraqi journalist Muntazer al-Zaidi's brother, Durgham al-Zaidi, states his brother has serious injuries, "He has got a broken arm and ribs, and cuts to his eye and arm. He is being held by forces under the command of Muwafaq al-Rubaie [Iraq's national security adviser]." The journalist's name is also spelled by the press as: Muntathar al-Zaidi. Muntathar threw both of his shoes at the Bully Boy of the United States. Both shoes missed. Bully Boy joked, "This is what happens in free societies" and it's one of his more obvious jokes as bullies and thugs attacked Muntathar for a shoe-ing, demonstrating that there was no free society in Iraq. Sunday Adam Ashton and Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reported: "Another Iraqi journalist yanked Zaidi to the ground before bodyguards collapsed on Zaidi and held him there while he yelled 'Killer of Iraqis, killer of children.' From the bottom of the pile, he moaned loudly and said 'my hand, my hand.' Zaidi was hauled to a sepaate room, where his cries remained audible for a few moments." Monday Steven Lee Myers and Alissa J. Rubin (New York Times) reported, "Mr. Maliki's security agents jumped on the man, wrestled him to the floor and hustled him out of the room. They kicked him and beat him until 'he was crying like a woman,' said Mohammed Taher, a reporter for Afaq, a television station owned by the Dawa Party". Reuters noted: "The journalist was leapt on by Iraqi security officials and U.S. secret service agents and dragged from the room screaming and struggling." Greg Gordon and Adam Ashton (McClatchy Newspapers) report today that the US Secret Service has donned hair shirts over what they see as their own lack of quick action which can also be read as: Any damage to the journalist was done by the thugs Nouri al-Maliki has employed as his palace guards and not by us. The reaction apart from Nouri's thugs has been enthusiastic. Timothy Williams and Abeer Mohammed (New York Times) report a person in Saudi Arabia has offered $10 million for either of the shoes thrown. Raed Rafei and Khaled Hijabcalls (Los Angeles Times' Babylon & Beyond) sketch out the Iraqi reaction:
In a barbershop near downtown Beirut on Monday, customers buzzed about the reporter's political gesture.
"It was great," one customer said, beaming with satisfaction.
Another responded by saying that Bush certainly deserved it for inflicting "disaster" on the Iraqi people.
The video of the journalist throwing his shoes at Bush was played over and over again on television stations including the pan-Arab Al Jazeera as well as Iranian state television and even radio.
"Please listen again," said a radio announcer in Tehran. "This is the sound of the shoe hitting the wall and missing President Bush."
The left-leaning Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar featured the news in on its front page under the headline, "The farewell kiss for Bush," calling the reporter a "hero" who stood up to the president.
"This was without a doubt the best farewell as seen by millions of Iraqis who were heartened" by the reporter's action, said the daily, adding that Iraqis were "probably sad when they saw their Prime Minister Nouri Maliki throwing himself in front of his guest to protect him."
At McClatchy's Inside Iraq, an Iraqi correspondent provides reactions from various Iraqis. Ammar Mohammed declares, "Of course he's a hero! He did what no one has been able to do so far: He gave Bush the criminal what he deserves. Insulting aman is more severe than killing him. It was sooooo funny -- and the moron didn't even get it! But I am glad that it was publicized -- it is good -- protection for Mutathar: now they can't make him 'disappear' . . . Or can they?" A mother asks, "How many Iraqis did Bush kill in Iraq? Hundreds of thousands. This shoe is settlement for only one. How many Muntathars do we need to settle our debt with Bush?" AP's Qassim Abdul-Zahra reported this morning that despite street protests today calling for Muntadhar al-Zeidi's release, he has been "handed over to the Iraqi judiciary" and is expected to face trial for the run-by shoeing. Oliver August noted this was day two of protests calling for Muntadhar's release and that protests took place in Mosul, Nasiriyah and Falluja. Wisam Mohammed (Reuters) reports Muntadhar acknowledged he threw the shoes today in court accodring to "Abdul Satar Birrqadr, spokesman for Iraq's High Judicial Council." And it gets more ridiculous: "The court decided to keep Zaidi in custody, and after the judge completes his investigation of the case may send him for trial under a clause in the Iraqi penal code that punishes anyone who attempts to murder Iraqi or foreign presidents." Attempts to murder? Again, Iraq is not a free society nor a democracy. Attempts to murder? For an attempted murder, Dana Perino is being very light-hearted. The White House spokesperson opened today's briefing with a joke, "Hi, everybody. The shoe check-in policy and checkout policy will begin tomorrow." And the press responded to the joke with laughter. It was not an attempted murder and for the international press not to be calling out this journalist being held is appalling. At the White House briefing, Perino offered this perspective:
Well, it was just a shoe, and the President saw it from his vantage point. He felt fine about it. I think you saw he let the Secret Service know he thought he was okay, and the Secret Service jumped in as quickly as they thought they needed to. And then they were able to back off and let the Prime Minister of a duly -- the duly elected Prime Minister of a sovereign Iraq taking questions from journalists there who never would have been able to do that five years ago. And the President just thinks it was just a -- it was just a shoe.
People express themselves in lots of different ways. Obviously he was very angry. I can't think -- I don't -- I can't tell you exactly what the shoe thrower was thinking, but I can tell what the President thought, was that he was fine. And he said immediately -- you saw his reaction was, don't worry about it; it was okay. So we hold no hard feelings about it, and we've really moved on.
No offense to Dana Perino -- who got hit with a boom mike during the incident (thanks to the Secret Service) -- but when the White House is showing more maturity and perspective than others in the international playground, there is something seriously wrong. CBS adds, "Zeidi, 29, has been working for Al-Baghdadiya since it launched in 2005, reports CBS News' Khaled Wassef in London. Co-workers describe him as a rather quiet and composed. Zeidi has been arrested before, in error, by American forces and was let go, reports CBS News correspondent Elizabeth Palmer. This time, his family has been told he faces years in jail." For a shoe-ing. For a shoe-ing?
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"THIS JUST IN! DON'T ASK CAROLINE ABOUT HER HUSBAND!"
"Basic questions cause Caroline Kennedy to run"
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
PRINCESS BRAT CAROLINE KENNEDY SPOKE TO THESE REPORTERS THIS MORNING AFTER WE CAUGHT HER BUYING UP MULTIPLE COPIES OF TODAY'S NEW YORK TIMES WHICH JUST HAPPENS TO FEATURE HER ON THE FRONT PAGE.
"WHAT CAN I SAY," JOKED PRINCESS BRAT PICTURED BELOW, "IT HELPS TO GIVE A LITTLE HUH-HUH TO THE MAN RUNNING THE PAPER."
ASKED ABOUT THE PAPER SAYING SHE WOULD CAMPAIGN IN UPSTATE NEW YORK, CAROLINE AGREED THE WORDING THERE WAS WRONG.
"YOU DON'T CAMPAIGN FOR AN APPOINTMENT, NOT WITH THE HOI POLLOI," CAROLINE AGREED WRINKLING HER NOSE AT THE APPARENT ODORS OF THE "HOI POLLOI" BEFORE CONTINUING, "BUT THIS HAS CERTAINLY BEEN A LEARNING EXPERIENCE. I ALWAYS ASSUMED MY FAMILY NAME WOULD ALLOW ME TO COAST TO EASY VICTORY AND I'M FINDING IT'S NOT REALLY WORTH ALL THAT MUCH. I'M CONSIDERING ASKING BARACK AND MICHELLE TO ADOPT ME. 'CAROLINE OBAMA' MIGHT PROVIDE SOME OF THAT CHANGE YOU CAN BELIEVE IN, YOU KNOW?"
WHEN ASKED WHETHER HER HUSBAND WOULD BE DOING PUBLIC APPEARANCES WITH HER, CAROLINE GASPED AND STORMED OFF. APPARENTLY IT'S OKAY FOR KENNEDY'S TO DISCUSS THEIR ALLEGED LOVERS BUT ASKING A BASIC QUESTION ABOUT A CANDIDATE'S SPOUSE WAS 'OFF LIMITS.'
Today, Adam Ashton (McClatchy Newspapers) observes, "The deadlines sound clear enough in the security agreement: U.S. combat troops must be out of Iraqi urban areas by June, and all Americans should withdraw from the country by Dec. 31, 2011.
However, those deadlines have appeared anything but firm to Iraqis over the past week. " Thursday David Morgan and Anthony Boadle's (Reuters) reported, "Ali al-Dabbagh, spokesman for the government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, said some U.S. forces could be needed for 10 years but told reporters that the terms of any extended presence would be negotiated between the next Iraqi and U.S. governments." Alsumaria pointed out on Friday, "Al Dabbagh, representing Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki in Washington, said some U.S. forces could be needed for 10 years stressing that the terms of any extended presence would be negotiated between the next Iraqi and US governments in 2011 since the security pact has not tackled this issue. He added that until that time, the number of troops needed and the level of cooperation and support required would be clearer." Clearer? That's all the treaty did? Shocking -- for those not paying attention and/or self-deluding themselves. The news just kept coming over the weekend. Xinhua quoted puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki stating, "What Dr. Ali al-Dabbagh said about Iraqi forces will need ten years to be ready was only his personal view and does not represent the Iraqi government." Stating? Not really. His office issued a statement. al-Maliki said nothing publicly. al-Maliki has a pattern of 'issuing' statements that he then disowns. Over the weekend, AP finally decided to report what al-Dabbagh said Thursday -- when they could run the 'denial' with it -- only they focused so on the denial they couldn't even get the day right of al-Dabbagh's statements (they reported the remarks were made Friday when they were made Thursday). Missy Reid and Michael Christie (Reuters) walked the late comers through:
Dabbagh, on a visit to Washington this week, raised the possibility of some of the 149,000 U.S. troops in Iraq remaining for longer than the date defined by the security pact.
"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," Dabbagh said at a Pentagon press briefing.
He said that future Iraqi leaders would decide what kind of U.S. presence might be required after 2011.
Iraq's parliament approved the bilateral security agreement setting the end-2011 deadline after fierce and protracted debate. It is scheduled to be put to a referendum next year.
Opponents of the pact, including supporters of anti-American Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, have argued the pact gives legitimacy to a destructive foreign occupation and say they do not believe the United States will honour the withdrawal date.
Maliki, a Shi'ite who heads a coalition government, was seen as benefiting the most from the pact.
McClatchy's Ashton added Iraqi reaction to the Thursday statements, "That assertion makes sense to many Iraqi leaders, though they rarely say it in public. Iraq doesn't have a navy or an air force to protect itself. Many view it as America's obligation to improve the country's defense." But the alledged denial wasn't the only thing in the news cycle and, in fact, the top US commander in Iraq knocked the spin out of the statement issued by the puppet's office. Yochi J. Dreazen (Wall St. Journal) explained that despite the treaty 'promising' US forces would withdraw from all Iraqi cities (and to bases) in June, turns out, maybe not: "Gen. Raymond Odierno told reporters here that the U.S. troops assigned to 'joint security stations' inside Iraqi cities like Baghdad would remain in the outposts indefinitely. The bases, which are a key part of the U.S. counterinsurgency strategy, house thousands of American personnel across the country. There are well over a dozen such outposts in Baghdad alone.Gen. Odierno, who assumed command in September, explained that the withdrawal provision in the security pact applied only to combat personnel. The U.S. forces assigned to the joint security stations mentor and fight alongside Iraqi troops, so American commanders classify them as training personnel and don't consider them to be covered by the withdrawal language, he said." Odierno was not alone when he he held his press conference, US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was with him. That's the current US Secretary of State and the also the one president-elect Barack Obama wants to continue in the job. Sunday Elisabeth Bumiller (New York Times) repored on Odierno's statement and that Lt Col James Hutton "reiterated" Odierno's statements after the press conference. Bumiller noted Odierno also indicated that the US would attempt to renegotiate the treaty and stated, "Three years is a very long time."
Today Ashton reports that al-Dabaggah issued a statement saying he was misquoted (no, he was not) and trying to back away from his statements as Odierno's statements only further added fuel to the fire with Iraqi MP and Nouri's B.F.F. declaring, "The agreement is clear and it didn't give a space for misunderstanding. This statement is stepping over the limits and authorities of this military leader, and over the constitutional establishments."
Ashton also quotes MP Harith al Obeidi declaring, "Treaties and pacts among nations are obligations and commitments, but this statement gives the matter a question mark on it." And a question mark hovers over al-Maliki. Steven Lee Myers and Alissa J. Rubin (New York Times) observe:
Although a majority in the Iraqi Parliament approved the agreement, on the street, Iraqis have mixed views. Many distrust any pact made with an occupying power, and while Mr. Bush is appreciated for having overthrown Mr. Hussein, he is widely blamed for the violence that raged in the years after the war, which prompted more than a million Iraqis to flee and killed tens of thousands of civilians.
Still, Mr. Bush's stalwart support for Mr. Maliki -- after an initial period when the national security adviser, Stephen J. Hadley, expressed doubts about him -- has been a bulwark against domestic political forces who sought to topple him.
With the American president's term ending, Iraqi politicians from parties other than Mr. Maliki's have been discussing whether to force the prime minister out with a no-confidence vote. This is not the first time his ouster has been discussed, but with American power in Iraq on the wane and troop numbers beginning to decline in earnest, it seems a more serious threat.
For those attempting to keep track, the Queen of Panhandle Media, Amy Goodman, continues to ignore the issue but she made herself clear when she adopted the White House spin (such as "historic" for the Parliament vote). This is from American Freedom Campaign:
The document parading around as the U.S.-Iraq agreement is not valid under the U.S. Constitution. Its legitimacy is based solely on the silence of lawmakers (and members of the media), who seem to be paralyzed by the fear of having an independent and intelligent opinion. Fortunately, one lawmaker has broken the silence and has acknowledged the truth before everyone's eyes.
It is now time for others, including you, to join their voices with hers.
A few weeks ago, I wrote about the pending U.S.-Iraq agreement, decrying the fact that the Iraqi Parliament was being given the opportunity to vote on whether to approve the agreement while Congress was being denied - and was refusing to fight for - the same opportunity.
Well, thanks to our efforts and the leadership of Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), the U.S. House of Representatives may finally get to voice its opinion on President Bush's unconstitutional usurpation of Congress's legislative power.
Yesterday, Rep. Lee introduced a resolution related to the U.S.-Iraq agreement, inspired in part by AFC's call for a "signing statement" resolution. The primary purpose of this resolution is to express the sense of the House that President Bush does not have the power under the Constitution to negotiate and sign such a far-reaching agreement with another nation without seeking congressional approval of the agreement.
Passage of this resolution -- most likely following re-introduction in January -- will send a message to the Bush administration, the incoming Obama administration, and the rest of the world that the agreement holds no legal weight under U.S. law and will be considered merely advisory by Congress.
In truth, even without passage of this resolution, Congress shall not be bound by its terms. No president can unilaterally commit $10 billion per month in U.S. treasure to keep our troops in another nation. The United States has never been a monarchy or a dictatorship and we are certainly not going to accept any similar kind of system today.
Putting aside the question over whether this agreement is currently binding or not, it is important that as many lawmakers as possible openly reject the constitutionality of the agreement. So please tell your U.S. representative to co-sponsor, support, and vote for Rep. Lee's signing statement resolution (H.Res. 1535) by clicking on the following link
Once you have sent your message, please forward this email widely to friends and family. In the alternative, you can use the "Tell-A-Friend" option on the AFC Web site that will appear after you have sent your message.
Thank you so much for taking action.
American Freedom Campaign Action Fund
Meanwhile a new Washington Post - ABC News poll is out. Michael A. Fletcher and Jon Cohen (Washington Post) report: "Americans are more upbeat about U.S. prospects in
Iraq than at any time in the past five years, but nearly two thirds continue to believe the war is not worth fighting and 70 percent say President-elect Barack Obama should fulfill his campaign promise to withdraw U.S. forces from the country within 16 months, according to the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll." How many would be so upbeat if they knew that Barack did not promise to withdraw all US troops from Iraq? Not asked, not answered. On this issue of withdrawal, UPI reports that Japan "began withdrawing force from Kuwait" today as it ended "its 5-year airlift mission in Iraq".
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