Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Lunch from hell

BULLY BOY PRESS & CEDRIC'S BIG MIX -- THE KOOL-AID TABLE

YESTERDAY CELEBRITY IN CHIEF BARRY O DECIDED TO LUNCH WITH REPUBLICANS AND IT DID NOT GO WELL.

REFLECTING BACK ON IT THIS MORNING, BARRY O SAID HE PROBABLY SHOULDN'T HAVE ASKED WHERE THE SALAD WAS REPEATEDLY EVEN AFTER SENATOR BOB CORKER POINTED TO THE SALAD HE'D BROUGHT.

"AND I ASKED 'IS IT POKE SALAD?' AND WHETHER HE HAD PICKED IT OFF HIS FRONT LAWN," BARRY O EXPLAINED. "BUT ALL THE SALADS I KNOW ARE MADE WITH ARUGALA. 'ICE BERG LETTUCE'? WHO KNEW? I THOUGHT IT WAS A TITANIC JOKE!"

FURTHERMORE, BARRY O THOUGHT HIS ATTEMPTS AT HUMOR FAILED.

"PAT ROBERTS DID NOT APPEAR TO LIKE IT WHEN I MADE FART JOKES," BARRY O CONFESSED. "BUT IT WAS FUNNY. 'OOPS DID SOMEONE GO BOOPY! I THINK PAT MADE BOOPY!'"

FROM THE TCI WIRE:

"Two months after elections, the main political parties are no closer to forming a government, some progress has been made towards ratifying the results of the vote but the negotiations over the next prime minister might take weeks if not months," observed Riz Khan on his self-titled program last week (Al Jazeera, May 17th). "Iraqis are concerned that if either Shia or Sunni groups feel left out of the political process, sectarian tensions will rise again." Yesterday, newly elected MP Bashar Hamid Agaidi of the Iraqiya slate was assassinated in Mosul. In the lead in to reporting by Peter Kenyon (NPR's Morning Edition) notes today, Renee Montagne observed, "One of the biggest fears in Iraq is that it'll be overtaken, again, by sectarian violence before it can form a new government. And that fear was reinforced yesterday after a newly elected lawmaker was murdered." Iraq's not going to fall apart, it is falling apart and has been falling apart for some time. Catholic Culture reports Auxiliary Bishop William Shomali of Jerusalem delivered "The Middle Eastern Synod in Geopolitical and Patoral Context:"


The U.S. invasion decimated the Christian community. Before 1987, it numbered 1.25 million followers, mostly Chaldeans. Today they are less than 400,000. One of the great disasters of this century is the massive exodus of Iraqi Christians due to the insecurity and harassment of which they are victims. In Iraq, the war unleashed forces of evil in the country, among varying political streams and religious denominations. It has taken a toll on all Iraqis, but the Christians have been among the main victims because they represent the smallest and weakest of Iraqi communities. Even today, global politics completely fail to take them into account. This is in addition to other calamities that have struck the Christians of the Middle East in the past two centuries:
The genocide of one million and half Armenians in Turkey in 1915;
The genocide against the Maronites in 1860 and the Lebanese Civil War caused the exodus of many Christians;
The constant emigration of Christians from the Holy Land for more than a century.

Meanwhile Vatican Radio reports that Erbil has a bishop after not having one since 2005: "Pope Benedict XVI appointed Redemptorist Priest, Father Bashar Warda bishop of the Diocese" and "[s]ince the outbreak of war in Iraq it has become the place of refuge for thousands of persecuted Christians from the south." The persecution of the religious minorities has never stopped in Iraq. It is part of the reason Iraq has the largest refugee crisis in the world. And, in fact, for all the credit given to the "surge" and paying off Sahwa to stop attacking US troops and equipment, another reason why what's known as the "civil war" (ethnic cleansing) decreased may be due to the fact that so many who were being targeted fled the country -- over two million. Equally true is that another approximately two million Iraqis fled their homes but remained in Iraq (internal refugees).

A fear of being overtaken by sectarian violence? It's that fear, in part, that motivates Kirk Johnson (The List Project To Resettle Iraqi Allies) in his work attempting to garner asylum for Iraqis who were US collaborators during the illegal war. Johnson appeared on NHPR's Word Of Mouth today and told Virginia Prescott that the project currently has "a slate of several thousand names" of Iraqis they would like to resettle.

Virginia Prescott: Well what is the plan? I mean the US plans to have half of its 100,000 troops out of Iraq by the end of August of this year. What is the strategy for the Iraqis left behind?

Kirk Johnson: Well right now . . . I hate to say it but I'm worried that the plan is wishful thinking.

Asked for an estimate by Prescott of how many Iraqis are being discussed, Johnson revealed that the US has never kept a tally of how many Iraqis have worked for the US. When the British left Basra, Johnson asserted, those collaborators with the British military were targeted: "There were Iraqi interpreters that were dragged through the streets to their deaths. There was a single, public execution of 17 interpreters and their bodies were dumped in the streets." Earlier this month, Johnson wrote on the topic at Foreign Policy in "Left Behind in Iraq." Johnson left out an important development (it wasn't known when he appeared this morning) that will effect all Iraqi refugees including the ones his group wants to help.

Today the White House announced that Mark C. Storella was being nominated to be the US Ambassador to Zambia. This really is not the time for anyone in his position to be relocated (unless they're doing a poor job, we'll get to Chris Hill in a moment) and the White House notes:

Mark C. Storella is a career member of the Senior Foreign Service. He currently serves as the Senior Coordinator for Iraqi Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. He previously served as Deputy Permanent Representative and Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations and other International Organizations in Geneva. Mr. Storella was also the Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. His other overseas assignments include Rome, Paris, Bangkok and a previous tour in Phnom Penh. In Washington, Mr. Storella worked on the NATO and Japan desks, and as Executive Assistant to the Counselor of the Department of State. He received his A.B. degree from Harvard College and an M.A. in international relations from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.

Storella is the Senior Coordinator for Iraqi Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons at the US Embassy in Baghdad. Johnson (rightly) worries that the US government has no plans regarding the refugees Johnson's concerned about. Not only do they not have a plan but the go-to person in Baghdad, the US diplomat overseeing the refugee issue, is about to be transferred to another continent.

And for those left behind in the ongoing war? Zeina Khodr (Al Jazeera) looked at Iraq's children who have lost their parents to the illegal war:

Zeina Khodr: Hameedd and Abbas are victims of Iraq's War. Still traumatized from events three years ago, Abbas rarely speaks. His brother tells their story.

Hameed Abed Ali: My mother had psychological problems, terrorists captured her, they wanted ransom and asked my father whether we were Sunni or Shia. He didn't have the money. They put an explosive belt around her and blew it up among worshipers coming to Karbala.

Zeina Khodr: Many have similar stories. Three brothers and a sister are among scores of orphans left behind due to killings and violence. They all saw their father taken by armed men wearing masks from their home in Diyala just over two years ago.

Moustapha Sabah Hassan: First of all they took my father from the house and after three days they brought him back tortured and badly beaten. He died a few days later.

Zeina Khodr: Many of those who lost their parents in violence don't understand why they were killed and they have little understanding about the war and politics in their country; however, some of them fear for their future. They are aware of the world outside this orphanage. The realities in today's Iraq. Violence is still a part of daily life.

Social worker Intisar Shaker: Sometimes they're worried about the security situation. They ask me whether the terrorists will come and hurt them. We do our best to comfort them.

Zeina Khodr: But social workers and psychologists can only do so much. Shelter, food and care are just not enough for some to deal with the psychological scars.

Ahmed al-Amari of the Sayyed Hussein Sadr Institution: Maybe after years, they will be able to get better and re-integrate into society but we have one child who has been here for three years and continues to suffer, sometimes cries for hours.

Zeina Khodr: There are others who just don't remember their ordeal. Ali is one of them. He survived a car bombing in which his parents were killed in 2008. But those who do remember wish they could provide safety they themselves didn't know.

Hameed Abed Ali: When I grow up, I want to be a police man. Police men protect people and, when people need help, I can assist them.

Zeina Khodr: It is children like Hamid who need assistance now. A whole generation that will have to reconcile with a past while trying to build a future. Zeina Khodr, All Jazeera, Baghdad.

And for those lucky enough to be part of intact families? Peter Kenyon (NPR's Morning Edition) reported today that the violence and the uncertainty "Hamed wouldn't call it a panic, but the families he sees are those who have decided to play it safe by leaving now - to Syria, Jordan, and sometimes onto Europe or elsewhere - at least for this period of uncertainty."

RECOMMENDED: "Iraq snapshot"
"Murders and robberies -- Bonnie & Clyde? No, Iraq"
"Some numbers matter, some don't"
"Gibbs and Barry, the train wreck"
"As Greece goes . . ."
"Radio"
"even carville calls it out"
"At what point does Mr. Obama take accountability?"
"Chatter"
"Bloom off the rose"
"We're all Jindal?"
"CBS News is an idiot"
"Heaven help us all"
"Not so popular these days"
"THIS JUST IN! HEAP OF TROUBLE!"

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