Heavy fighting broke out Tuesday in two of Iraqs largest cities, as Iraqi ground forces and helicopters mounted a huge operation to break the grip of the Shiite militias controlling Basra, and Iraqi forces clashed with militias in Baghdad. "The fighting threatened to destabilize a long-term truce that had helped reduce the level of violence in the five-year-old Iraq war.
That's the opening of Michael Kamber and James Glanz' "Iraqi Crackdown on Shiite Forces Sets Off Fighting" in this morning's New York Times. Actually, that would be four cities. From yesterday's snapshot: "AFP reports that fighting was ongoing in Baghdad, Basra, Kut and Hilla with the clash between Sadr's forces and the US in Baghdad being 'the first time since last October'." Kamber and Glanz will later (paragraph four) refer to what took place in Kut and Hilla as "serious clashes". It's an interesting distinction, isn't it? One that should have informed readers scratching their heads this morning.
CNN reports this morning that puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki has issued an ultimatum re: Basra, those resisting must turn themselves in within seventy-two hours. And if that doesn't have many laughing (al-Maliki's ultimatum's are never enforced), this might: "Al-Maliki is said to be personally overseeing efforts to restore order in Basra". Even the right wing in this country doesn't bother to sing al-Maliki's praises these days. Consider it the joke of the day unless you really believe "Commander Nouri" is calling in US air strikes, directing US troops, etc.
Meanwhile China's Xinhau reports:
Three American citizens working for the U.S. government were wounded by an indirect fire attack on Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone on Wednesday, U.S. embassy said.
"I can confirm that there was an indirect fire attack on the Green Zone, and that three U.S. government officials were seriously injured," Mirembe Nantongo, U.S. embassy spokeswoman told reporters in Baghdad.
On the US campaign trail, Barack Obama continues hiding out in the Virgin Islands (see Wally, Cedric, Rebecca, Wally and Cedric again and Mike). Taking a page from the 'successful' John Kerry 2004 presidential campaign, Obama decided hiding out in the Virgin Islands was the perfect way to address the Jeremiah Wright controversy that is not going away.
Anna M. Tinsley (Fort Worth Star-Telegram) reports on TCU (Texas Christian University) deciding that Jeremiah Wright -- who used his pulpit to damn the United States -- wasn't appearing on their campus. This as Fredreka Schouten (USA Today) reports that a Tampa, Florida church has also cancelled a schedule appearance (and, no, it wasn't due to 'security'). AP reports that THREE Houston churchs have cancelled appearances by Wright scheduled to take place this Sunday. The issue is what USA Today notes as "God d—- America for treating our citizens as far less than human." And the fallout continues for Obama who elected to continue going to the church, who went for 20 years, who made Wright his mentor and who refused to address specifically the offensive remark in last week's nearly 5,000 word speech. Inspired by Wright's 'sermons,' the Obamas gave $27,500 to the church from 2000 through 2007.
It is not going away. From Craig Unger's "McCain's Anti-Obama Opening" (Vanity Fair):
The Reverend Jeremiah Wright scandal may have come too late to derail Barack Obama's primary campaign, but you can bet that it will be an issue in the general election if the Senator from Illinois is the Democratic nominee.
In his blockbuster speech on race last week, Obama tried again and again to draw a comparison between Wright and Martin Luther King Jr. The movements they guided, however, couldn’t be more different. According to its website, Wright's church, the Trinity United Church of Christ, bases its ministry "on the systematized liberation theology that started in 1969 with the publication of Dr. James Cone’s book, Black Power and Black Theology."
Now a distinguished professor at Union Theological Seminary in New York, James Cone was a seminal advocate of black liberation theology, which rose to prominence in the 1960s, during the heyday of Black Power. As noted in Asia Times, Cone's theology was very different from King's. Cone asserts:
Black theology refuses to accept a God who is not identified totally with the goals of the black community. If God is not for us and against white people, then he is a murderer, and we had better kill him. The task of black theology is to kill Gods who do not belong to the black community…. Black theology will accept only the love of God which participates in the destruction of the white enemy. What we need is the divine love as expressed in Black Power, which is the power of black people to destroy their oppressors here and now by any means at their disposal. Unless God is participating in this holy activity, we must reject his love.
There's no reason whatsoever to think that Barack Obama actually believes such nonsense.
Yesterday, Hillary Clinton was asked about the issue of Wright in an newspaper editorial meeting and again at a press conference. CNN reports:
Speaking to reporters Tuesday, Clinton referenced a speech she gave nearly a year ago after talk-radio host Don Imus' controversial remarks about the Rutgers women's basketball team.
"I said it was time for standing up for what is right, for saying enough is enough, for urging that we turn a culture of degradation into a culture of empowerment, for saying that while we of course must protect our right of free expression, it should not be used as a license or an excuse to demean or humiliate our fellow citizens. Sen. Obama spoke eloquently at that time as well," she said.
"Everyone will have to decide these matters for themselves. They were obviously very personal matters," Clinton added. "But I was asked what I would do if he was my pastor and I said I think the choice would be clear for me."
USA Today cites Obama flack Bill Burton declaring that Hillary -- responding to direct questions -- is offering a "transparent attempt to distract attention." No, Burton, she was answering a question. The transparent attempt to distract was sending Barack off to the Virgin Islands to lay low and hope the outrage died down. As the cancelled appearances for Wright suggest, it has not died down. And an examination of John Kerry's failed 2004 presidential campaign would have told anyone that. It's not going away and Obama's hiding in the Virgin Islands, just like Kerry hid out when his Vietnam record was in the news.
And the religious questions keep coming for the "Unity" campagin. Deep inside the New York Times art section, you'll learn that a planned debate between Hillary and Barack to be aired on CBS was cancelled. Why? It was April 19th. Barack wanted that date. Hillary did not. Why? Check your calendars, that would be Passover. It's a funny sort of "unity" campaign Barack's running. Apparently, when it's all over, the "unity" would exist among whatever four Americans in the country that the Obama hasn't tossed under the bus. Latinos, Asian-Americans, the bi- and multi-racial community, the LGBT community, all women, the elderly of all races . . . One would assume the 'unity' would include Barack and his wife Michelle which means there will still be two slots 'open' to the public. Rush now to be one of the 'chosen ones' while everyone in else in the country (the one Wright damned) are shoved aside.
By the way, how far is that buried in the article? I'm counting 21 paragraphs before Bill Carter gets to it.
While Bambi hides, Hillary's fighting for Americans. This is "Hillary Clinton Reacts to Sen. McCain’s Support for Social Security Privatization & His Housing Speech:"
The following are excerpts from a press availability that Hillary Clinton held at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg earlier this afternoon:
"...Social Security is a big issue in this campaign. There are differences between myself and Senator Obama and there are very big differences between myself and John McCain. And I have to admit to being somewhat surprised when I saw that Senator McCain had said that he would try to continue to try to privatize Social Security along the lines of what President Bush tried and failed in doing in 2005. That is a very significant difference between the two of us."
"...Pennsylvania as you know has a higher percentage of older people than most states so it is a particular concern to a lot of Pennsylvanians who are on Social Security, like a couple we heard from earlier today who keep seeing their expenses increase and realize that they are in a very difficult position trying to afford all of the necessities of life and being on a fixed income like they are. That’s why it’s so important that we are doing everything we can to meet the long term challenges of Social Security. The Social Security trustees just issued a report, actually while I was speaking, and there has been some improvement in the outlook for Social Security according to some, to the Social Security trustees. So I think that it reinforces what I have said for a long time, which is we have some long term challenges. It is not a crisis. We can fix what's needing to be changed in Social Security. Our real challenge is Medicare which is much more in crisis and deserves closer attention."
The following is Clinton's response to Sen. McCain's comments on the housing crisis.
"It sounds remarkably like Herbert Hoover and I don't think that's a good economic policy. We have a framework of regulation, it needs to be updated and modernized. The government has a number of tools at its disposal that are well-suited for just this situation. I think that inaction has contributed to the problems we face today and I believe further inaction would exacerbate those problems. I've laid out what I would do. I don't think it's an adequate response to say the government shouldn't be helping either banks or people because I think that would be a downward spiral that would cause tremendous economic pain and loss in our country and I don't see why we should wait by for that to happen."
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