CELEBRITY IN CHIEF BARRY O'S HOPES OF A POPULARITY COMEBACK IN THE FACE OF THE JONAS BROTHERS BREAK UP HIT ANOTHER LOW TODAY AS THE NEWS CAME OUT THAT HIS APPROVAL RATING NOW STANDS AT 39% IN GALLUP'S POLLING -- AN ALL TIME LOW FOR THE YEAR.
39% MATCHES THE LOW REUTERS FOUND AT THE END OF SEPTEMBER. 39% MATCHES THE LOW MARIST FOUND IN SEPTEMBER AS WELL.
OVER TWO-THIRDS OF AMERICANS DISAPPROVE OF THE DHALIBAMA'S JOB PERFORMANCE.
REACHED FOR COMMENT, A SOBBING BARRY O TOLD THESE REPORTERS, "MY CULT WILL DEFEND ME. LAUGHABLE 'PROGRESSIVE' PHILIP BUMP IS ALREADY BLAMING THE REPUBLICANS FOR MY LOW POLLING. OTHERS WILL JOIN IN! THE WHOLE NATION! AND I'LL BE BACK AT 70% IN NO TIME. I SWEAR I WILL. I BELIEVE . . . WHY DO PEOPLE HATE ME? WHY!"
FROM THE TCI WIRE:
The Iraq Times reports Nouri launched an unprecdented attack on Moqtada today declaring that he's trying to destroy the country, that he knows ("very well knows") who is carrying out the killings and sectarian warfare in Iraq. All Iraq News adds that Nouri accused Moqtada of joining foreign countries in plotting against Iraq. Alsumaria notes that Sadr MP Hossein Sharifi responded that Nouri enjoys hurling accusations at rivals to deflect from Nouri's own failures in leadership.
Nouri al-Maliki: They also remember the honorable Iraqis who firmly and strongly confronted the terrorists particularly al - Qaeda and they also remember the control of Moqtada’s militia that fostered murder, kidnapping and theft in Basra, Karbala, Baghdad and other provinces .
Wasn't that cute of Nouri to bring up militias and to target Moqtada with militia smears. Neither should happen. As Tim Arango (New York Times) reported last September, Nouri has armed Shi'ite militias to kill Sunnis in Iraq:
In supporting Asaib al-Haq, Mr. Maliki has apparently made the risky calculation that by backing some Shiite militias, even in secret, he can maintain control over the country’s restive Shiite population and, ultimately, retain power after the next national elections, which are scheduled for next year. Militiamen and residents of Shiite areas say members of Asaib al-Haq are given government badges and weapons and allowed freedom of movement by the security forces.
That group he's backing? A rival of Moqtada al-Sadr's.
National Iraqi News Agency reports that Nickolay Mladenov (special envoy in Iraq for UN Secretary Ban Ki-moon) held a press conference today in Kirkuk hailing the "agreement reached between political blocs to pass" an election law. You may remember Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi has insisted that parliamentary elections will take place April 30th.
That would be 53 days late, if we're honest. March 8, 2010 was when the last parliamentary elections were held. But if that's what it is, it's what it is. And the United Nations and the Iraqi Independent High Electoral Commission are insisting that they will need six months to prep for the election.
So if things are all settled, that's what it is.
But that's not yet what it is. Ahmed Rasheed and Kevin Liffey (Reuters) point out, "The law could still in theory be challenged in the Iraqi federal court on constitutional grounds."
There's another issue. People may ignore it, they may not. If you're unhappy about the law, you probably won't ignore it. To be legal, the the presidency council has to approve the law.
In 2009, for example, Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi shot down a parliamentary election law -- it had been passed by Parliament. It only takes one of them, the president or the two vice presidents.
And therein lies the problem, Vice President Kudhair al-Khuzaie approved the law. Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi didn't get a vote (he remains Vice President until the end of his term unless Parliament votes to remove him. Who else didn't vote? Jalal.
Last December, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani suffered a stroke. The incident took place late on December 17th (see the December 18th snapshot) and resulted in Jalal being admitted to Baghdad's Medical Center Hospital. Thursday, December 20th, he was moved to Germany. He remains in Germany. He still remains in Germany.
The Constitution is clear that the vice presidents and president vote.
Well . . . the politcal blocs approve! The heads of the political blocs approve! That's what the UNAMI head was celebrating.
November 9, 2009, Yousif Bassil, Jomana Karadsheh and Mohammed Jamjoom (CNN) reported on al-Hasehmi's veto:
The election law was finally passed on November 8 -- after months of political wrangling -- and it had to be unanimously approved by the country's three-member presidency council -- made up of Kurdish President Jalal Talabani, Shiite Vice President Adel Abdul Mehdi and al-Hashimi.
A veto is rare because the passage of a law usually means that it has the blessing of all the political blocs.
The Kurds could also present a setback with threats to boycott the vote unless the seat allocations are assessed in provinces with heavy Kurdish populations.
The tussle over the election law reflects the persistent political jockeying among Iraq's three main ethnic groups for power in the upcoming parliament, which will increase in size from 275 to 323 because of population growth.
It would not be surprising for the Kurds to again threaten a boycott (Barzani did that two Sundays ago). It wouldn't be surprising for some blocs to note the fact that the Constitution is not being followed and if the Shi'ite Vice President is now (informally) the President -- you need to vote on that and, after that, you need to nominate people to be vice president. Constitution's not being followed at all.
But the United Nations loves it! They love it!
What a sad, sad moment for the UN.
Iraq has struggled for months to pass an elections law -- Speaker of Parliament al-Nujaifi was even insisting (until last week) that the old elections law could be used if a new one wasn't passed. That was rejected by KRG President Massoud Barzani. Yesterday the Iraqi press was reporting on the decision not to increase the number of seats in Parliament. As Sheikh (Dar Addustour) notes how the issue of three seats buried the bill on Sunday.
Ahmed Hussein and Muhannad Muhammad (Alsumaria) reports today that it's been decided to increase the Parliament from 325 seats to 328. Alsumaria also reports 310 seats will follow the old laws while 8 will be held for minorities and as many as ten will be compensatory and distributed to Anbar, Basra, Dhi Qar, Babil, Baghdad, Diyala and Muthanna. Seven provinces competing for 10 seats? How could that get ugly? Seven out of 18 provinces -- meaning 11 provinces won't have compensatory seats. How could that get ugly?
Maybe by people who don't feel it's fair or possibly are bothered by the fact that, as Al Mada reports, the United Nations, not the lawmakers, decided the distribution of the compensatory seats. Kitabat also notes that the UN determined the distribution of the compensatory seats.
All Iraq News notes that the 9 minority seats are being divided with "five seats for Christians and one seat for each Shabak, [Ya]zidi and Sabean Mandaeans." How could that get ugly? Safaa Abdel-Hamid (Alsumaria) reports the Yazidis are very unhappy and announced they will take the matter to the federal court. And there's more. The Iraq Times reports Kurdistan Alliance MP Amina Said declared after the vote that the major political blocs are violating the rights of the minorities and she specifically used the Yazidis and the issue of the seat quotas as an example.
All Iraq News also notes:
A Parliamentary source reported to AIN ''The parliamentary seats were distributed as (69) seats for Baghdad, (31) seats for Nineveh, (25) seats for Basra, (19) seats to Dhi-Qar, (17) for Babel, (18) seats to Sulaimaniya, (15) seats to Anbar, (15) seats to Erbil, (14) to Diyala, (12) to Kirkuk, (12) for Salah-il-Din, (12) seats for Najaf, (11) seats for Wasit, (11) for Diwaniya, (11) seats for Dohuk, (11) for Karbala, ten seats for Maysan and seven seats for Muthana province.''
B-b-but! That's based on population!
How so? Iraq's not had a census since the 90s. Mustafa Habib (Niqash) observed last June:
Censuses of Iraq’s population are supposed to be held in Iraq every ten years and 2007 was the due date for the last one. However because of the instability and sectarian violence in the country then, it was impossible to hold one. Iraq’s census was postponed again in 2009, and then again in 2010. And it turns out the country’s last census was actually held in 1987.
Back then the population numbered just over 16 million – or 16,335,000 to be exact, according to the Ministry of Planning. A census-lite was held in 1997 in 15 of Iraq’s 18 provinces; the census was not conducted by the central government and it ignored Iraqi Kurdistan. The results of that census indicated there were over 19 million in Iraq.
So, yeah, the totals could cause some irritation because they're not based on population -- they can't be when there's been no census since 1997.
Let's see . . . Nihad Qais (Alsumaria) reports some provinces are objecting to the new law and insisting that it has overidden the rights of the provinces. Scarier still, Alsumaria reports the Sadr bloc noted there is disagreement over how votes will be counted in various provinces. AFP explains, "Iraq will hold a general election on April 30 after lawmakers agreed on polling regulations Monday, setting a marker that officials hope could end political deadlock fueling a surge in violence."
Since Parliament, as All Iraq News notes, quickly closed shop today and announced that they wouldn't hold another session until November 14th, some could argue that they are aware of potential problems. And all of this is what Alsumaria quotes Nickolay Mladenov hailing as "victorious"?
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