KILLER BARRY O HAS ANNOUNCED HE WILL RETURN 5% OF HIS SALARY DUE TO SEQUESTRATION. THAT MIGHT MEAN A DAMN THING IF HE HAD TO PAY RENT (WHITE HOUSE IS PAID FOR BY THE U.S. TAXPAYERS), FOR FOOD (FOOD, LIKE LODGING, IS A BILL FOOTED BY THE U.S. TAXPAYER), FOR MEDICAL (HIS MEDICAL BILLS ARE PAID FOR LIFE BY THE U.S. TAXPAYER), TRAVEL COSTS (PAID FOR BY U.S. TAXPAYERS) . . .
IN OTHER WORDS, HIS SALARY IS THE LEAST OF THE MONEY THE U.S. TAXPAYER HANDS OVER TO BARRY O.
MORE STUNTS FROM THE LAZY MAN WHO SPENT FOUR YEARS FORGETTING THE ECONOMY.
FROM THE TCI WIRE:
No Jail Time for Lt Dan Choi, argues a new Care2Care petition:
In 2011, President Obama repealed Don't Ask Don't Tel (DADT), which finally made it legal for U.S. servicemembers to identify as gay or lesbian without fear of being fired. That's great news. The bad news is that many soldiers and former soldiers are still facing the repercussions of coming out.
One of the most recognizable of these soldiers is Lieutenant Dan Choi, a gay man who made national headlines in 2009 for publicly coming out and being summarily fired from the U.S. army. He then spent the next two years using his story to protest DADT, which he viewed as a homophobic, outdated law that had no place in the United States. In 2010, the Iraq war veteran was arrested for protesting DADT in front of the White House -- and slapped with federal charges.
While most of the other protesters were charged with a fine and released, Lt. Choi refused to plead guilty. He believes that he's being unfairly targeted by the military as a gay man who's attracting too much attention. Now, he's unable to re-enlist and facing six months of possible jail time.
Lt. Choi is a national hero, not someone who should be punished for peacefully protesting a policy that violated his Constitutional rights and left him jobless. Tell the U.S. Department of Justice: no jail time for Lt. Choi!
For more on Dan Choi refer to his Tweeter feed and you can also refer to the March 28th snapshot which was his most recent day in court fighting the charges against him.
Dan Choi stood up. The world could use more people who take a stand. A lot of people just hang in the background and claim to stand up. For example, Reporters Without Borders (still) defines their own mission as:
Freedom of expression and of information will always be the world’s most important freedom. If journalists were not free to report the facts, denounce abuses and alert the public, how would we resist the problem of children-soldiers, defend women’s rights, or preserve our environment? In some countries, torturers stop their atrocious deeds as soon as they are mentioned in the media. In others, corrupt politicians abandon their illegal habits when investigative journalists publish compromising details about their activities. Still elsewhere, massacres are prevented when the international media focuses its attention and cameras on events.
The Committee to Protect Journalism insists:
CPJ promotes press freedom worldwide and defends the right of journalists to report the news without fear of reprisal. CPJ takes action wherever journalists are censored, attacked, imprisoned, or killed for their work. Our advocacy helps to ensure the free flow of news and commentary.
Wherever journalists are censored, attacked, imprisoned, or killed? Even Iraq? As Elaine asked of Reporters Without Borders and the Committee to Protect Journalists yesterday, "Why does it always seem that, with both of these organizations, Iraq always has to come last?"
As covered in yesterday's snapshot, Dar Addustour, Al-Parliament, Al-Mustaqbal and Al-Nas were attacked in Baghdad Monday evening, their employees threatened (five people stabbed, more left with bruises and fractures), offices destroyed and cars set on fire (a fifth Baghdad newspaper, Al Mada, was threatened but not attacked). As Elaine notes, the press was "covering this topic this morning and this evening the Committee to Protect Journalists and Reporters Without Borders have still not managed to issue anything. Not a statement condemning the attacks, not anything." It's now a day later and still nothing from the 'protectors' of journalists.
Four newspapers attacked in Baghdad. And not one word from the Committee to Protect Journalists? No condemnation from Reporters Without Borders?
That's a funny way to protect the press, a funny way to be an advocate for journalism. But Elaine is correct, especially with regards to CPJ, when it comes to Iraq we have seen this over and over. It's like there is the whole world and then, after they've dealt with everything else in the world, they may make times to mention something from days or weeks ago in Iraq. Iraq doesn't matter to these outlets obviously. Monday evening the attacks took place. It is Wednesday evening now. And neither press 'protector' could managed to issue a statement. 48 hours after the attacks and not one damn word.
They can take comfort in the fact that Arab social media is focusing more on the silence of the US State Dept and some very funny (and cruel) illustrations of State Dept spokesperson Victoria Nuland are popping up with her 'concern' expressed Monday about Egypt. It's noted real concern would require Nuland -- a neocon married to neocon Robert Kagan -- to express concern for the Iraqi press. The funniest cartoon features a nude and saggy Victoria Nuland with the question of where is her remorse for Iraq? Obviously, no where to be found.
Dar Addustour reports that the the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council's Sheikh Humam Hamoud has joined those who have publicly condemned the attacks and he has termed them "disturbing and scary." He has called on the security forces to double their efforts to find the assailants. As Sheikh is a columnist for Dar Addustour and today he weighs in on the attacks noting that the solidarity many Iraqi officials, politicians and media figures have expressed with the papers attacked has been empowering. He calls on Iraqis to reject violence and to come together to build a modern, democratic Iraq. The attacks were a dangerous precedent, he writes, and must not happen again while the assailants must be brought to justice because this will affirm Iraq's commitment tot he law, to democracy and to Constitutional principles. He ends his column calling for the Almighty's blessing on Iraq and thanking those Iraqis who stood up and expressed solidarity.
Sara Hamdan (New York Times) is expressing something -- bliss? Maybe something stronger. It's the usual neo-liberal crap advocating that state banks be replaced with private banks. While that may not be surprising -- this is the New York Times, after all --
being low-fact, semi-fact free, may be. Hamdan offers, "According to the Web site of the Central Bank of Iraq, the country is served by 7 state-owned banks, 32 private banks and 15 foreign banks. But analysts say that a handful of state-owned banks -- and two in particular, Rafidain Bank and Rasheed Bank -- dominate 90 percent of the business." And that's about all she can handle. Many days this would be less noticeable. Too bad for Hamdan that she writes on the same day Farid Farid (Transparency International) chooses to weigh in on the topic of corruption in Iraq -- including that $800 million is "said to be unlawfully transferred out of Iraq every week." Iraq ranks 169 out of 174 countries on Transparency International's Corruption Perception Index. Maybe today wasn't the best day for the New York Times to again pimp privatization -- which brings about even less checks and balances?
Let's stay with the topic of the greed motivated push towards privatization. David Bacon, whose latest book Illegal People -- How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants (Beacon Press) won the CLR James Award, explains the continued attacks to destroy the Iraqi oil industry -- state-owned before the start of the war. From Bacon's "For Unionists, Iraq's Oil War Rages On; The leader of Iraq's oil union is being threatened with prison -- again" (In These Times):
The big multinational petroleum giants now run the nation’s fields. Between 2009 and 2010, the Maliki government granted contracts for developing existing fields and exploring new ones to 18 companies, including ExxonMobil, Royal Dutch Shell, the Italian Eni, Russia's Gazprom and Lukoil, Malaysia's Petronas and a partnership between BP and the Chinese National Petroleum Corporation. When they started, the U.S. military provided the initial security umbrella protecting all of their field operations. The Ministry of Oil technically still owns the oil, but functions more as the multinationals' adjunct, while stripping workers of their rights. Since 2003 the ministry has denied the union its right to exist and retaliated against its leaders and activists. As the oil corporations rush in to lay claim to developing fields, ministry spokesman Assam Jihad told the Iraq Oil Report in 2010, "Unionists instigate the public against the plans of the oil ministry to develop [Iraq's] oil riches using foreign development."
In 2011, Hassan Juma'a and Falih Abood, president and general secretary of the Federation of Oil Employees of Iraq, were first subject to legal action by the ministry and threatened with arrest. Many of the union’s elected officers have been transferred from jobs they’d held for years to remote locations far from their families, in an effort to break up its structure and punish activists. "The government doesn't want workers to have rights, because it wants people to be weak and at the mercy of employers," said Juma'a.
Currently Hassam Juma'a is being asked to appear in court Sunday, April 7th. US Labor Against the War is asking for people to sign this petition which explains:
Despite all the talk about fostering democracy and human rights in Iraq, workers there continue to be denied the right to freely organize trade unions and negotiate over the terms of their labor - just as they were under Saddam Hussein.
In the last two years, repression against unions has escalated. A wave of peaceful strikes has recently swept Iraq as workers seek to redress grievances and assert their rights. The response of the Al Maliki government has been to crack down on discontent with disciplinary action against union activists, and even criminal complaints against union leaders.
Recently the Ministry of Oil lodged a criminal complaint against Hassan Juma'a Awad, President of the Iraq Federation of Oil Unions*, claiming he was responsible for strikes in the oil industry.
If convicted, he could face stiff fines and five years in prison. He has been ordered to appear in court on April 7th to respond to charges leveled against him.
Persecution of union leaders for exercising rights promised by Iraq's constitution and protected under international treaty must not be allowed to stand unchallenged.Labor organizations across the U.S., including the AFL-CIO, and around the world have responded by signing a letter to Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki demanding that all charges against Hassan Juma'a be immediately withdrawn and that persecution of Iraqi workers peacefully exercising their rights must cease.
They further demand that the Iraqi government promptly enact a basic labor and trade union law that guarantees the right of workers to organize and join unions of their choosing free from government interference and harassment, and that both public and private employers be required to negotiate over the terms and conditions of employment with the unions chosen by their employees.
No government that denies these basic labor and human rights can claim to be a democracy.
The U.S. and other governments ought to freeze economic aid to Iraq until these and other basic human rights are respected.
As Bacon notes in his article, there have been several protests in Basra by oil workers in the month of February.
Of course, there are ongoing protests in Iraq that reached the 100-day mark on Monday. The protesters are calling for a responsive government that addresses the needs of the people. These are the people who live in poverty. Billions of dollars come in each month from oil and Iraq has around 30 million people but the government can't provide. It can't provide needed jobs, it can provide consistent electricity, it can't provide potable water, it can't provide needed sanitation infrastructure (which is why the rainy seasons in Iraq meaning flooding throughout the bulk of the country -- standing water, up to the knees, in parts of Baghdad -- such as Sadr City -- even a day after the rain stops). Nouri al-Maliki's government also attacks political rivals and anyone who fights for a better life for Iraq, Hassam Juma'a is only one example of that. Iraqi Spring MC notes that Nouri's forces killed activist Qahtan Adnan Shalash Hiti yesterday and then grabbed four other activists and took them away with no one providing information about where the four have been taken.
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