Nuri al-Maliki celebrated the second anniversary of his assumption of power as prime minister of Iraq, on May 20. Curious, I went through a multitude of Iraqi dailies - trying hard - to find one good thing happening in Iraq, to give credit to the prime minister. Of all the newspapers I went through, I found only two pieces of good news.
One was that the Iraqi government is planning, under his orders, to tear down a military camp in Baghdad and transform it into a residential area, with gardens and a sports complex. Second was a plan to renovate 1,000 schools in the southern city of Basra, and find jobs for 10,000 unemployed Iraqis. Apart from that, one third of the Iraqi population remains below the poverty line, making less than US$1 per day.
Unemployment under Maliki has reached a staggering 50%. There are over 50,000 agricultural engineers, for example, searching for jobs - willing to sell commodities on the streets, in order to make a living. The Baghdad Security Plan has failed - to say the least - and there is a major sewage problem in Basra, dragging into its sixth month, which despite numerous calls from residents, has not been addressed by the Maliki government. The Ministry of Health is on alert, fearing spread of cholera, and the Municipality of Baghdad is making life more miserable for residents of the Iraqi capital, paving roads during peek hours, congesting traffic, and making clusters of people an easy target for terrorists.
The above is from Sami Moubayed's "Muck and menace in Maliki's Iraq" (Asia Times) and as Moubayed lists the many, many failures of the puppet of the occupation, note this one especially:
This week, Maliki fired Mutaa Habib Khazraji, the commander of the 2nd Army Division, which is based in Mosul. He was accused of supporting officers implicated in terrorist attacks. Additionally, the prime minister recalled nearly 5,000 retired soldiers from their homes, all being residents of Mosul, to take part in the fighting, along with 400 officers from the war-torn city. Naturally, the Iraqi press is saying something completely different. A-Zaman, for example, claims that "the residents of al-Zaman are overwhelmed with joy" by the prime minister's dedication to security in Mosul.
Pair it with this noted in yesterday's snapshot: "Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports an armed clash in Sulaimaniyah that left three people wounded and that 1 'of the gunmen is a captain in the armed forces and has been handed over to the military authorities for disciplining' and 4 'Awakening' Council members were shot dead in Salahuddin Province."
Meanwhile Anna Badkhen asks "Has life in Iraq improved?" (Salon):
Trash pickup in most of Baghdad ended with the rule of Saddam Hussein. Now the garbage chokes the capital's streets and clogs the sewage pipes and canals, which overflow and burst. The sewage that leaks out of broken pipes seeps through the dirt of roads that were once paved, but now have mostly turned to dirt because the tracks of American tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles have destroyed the asphalt over five years of war.
Above the roads, low-slung electric wires hang like an enormous web woven by some apocalyptic spider, strung from street generators to poles to homes, from one street to the next. Yet, most Baghdadis receive less than four hours of electricity a day. Running water, too, is a rare commodity. As far as safety is concerned, a quiet neighborhood is one where gunfire and explosions are something residents only hear, not see.
Meanwhile, at 10:00 a.m. EST (nine central, seven PST), CBS News online will stream "Senate Hearing On Soaring Gas Prices" live.
Hillary won Kentucky in a blowout (see Ruth's post from last night) and this is her victory speech, "Hillary's Remarks at the Louisville, KY Celebration Event" (HillaryClinton.com):
Thank you, Kentucky. Thank you all very, very much. I am so grateful for this victory. And I am so appreciative, because tonight I am thinking about why we are all here. It is not just to win a primary, or even just to win an election; what propels us is the struggle to realize America’s promise. A nation where every child can achieve his or her God-given potential, where every man and woman has a fair chance, where we fulfill the ideals our founders pledged their lives to defend and our nation was born to uphold.
I want to say a special word this evening about someone who has spent his whole life dedicated to realizing the promise of America. Senator Ted Kennedy is one of the greatest progressive leaders in our party's history, and one of the most effective senators in our country's history. He's my friend, and he's my inspiration. More than that, he is a hero to millions of Americans whose lives he has fought to better.
I am proud to have stood side-by-side with Ted Kennedy to increase the minimum wage, to extend health insurance to millions of children, to help stop insurance companies from discriminating against the sick. But the privileges that I have had and so many others have had because of the battles we have fought side-by-side with him are just a mere handful of what he has done during his entire public service; five extraordinary decades devoted to America.
And as a lifelong champion for social justice and equality, his work has made the path easier for me, for Senator Obama, and for countless others. He has been with us for our fights and we're with him now in his. And I know he is going to fight with all of his legendary might, supported by his wonderful wife Vicki and his entire family against this latest challenge. And we wish him well and send our thoughts and prayers to him.
Tonight we've achieved an important victory. It is not just Kentucky bluegrass that is music to my ears. It is the sound of your overwhelming vote of confidence even in the face of some pretty tough odds. Some have said your votes didn't matter, that this campaign was over, that allowing everyone to vote and every vote to count would somehow be a mistake. But that didn't stop you. You've never given up on me because you know I'll never give up on you.
This is one of the closest races for a party's nomination in modern history. We’re winning the popular vote and I'm more determined than ever to see that every vote is cast and every ballot counted. I commend Senator Obama and his supporters and while we continue to go toe-to-toe for this nomination, we do see eye-to-eye when it comes to uniting our party to elect a Democratic president in the fall.
But I need your help. Your support has made the difference between victory and defeat. Though we have been outspent massively, your support has helped us make our case on the air and on the ground, and your help will keep us going. We’ve made it this far together, so please go to HillaryClinton.com and together we will make history. And I can't do it without you.
Now, you know that the stakes are high. After all this country has been through the past seven years, we have to get this right. We have to select a nominee who is best positioned to win in November, and someone who is best prepared to address the enormous challenges facing our country in these difficult times. That is what this election is all about.
Now, I'm told that more people have voted for me than for anyone who has ever run for the Democratic nomination. That is more than 17 million votes. Now, why? Why do millions keep turning out to vote in the face of naysayers and skeptics? Because you know that our political process is more than candidates running, or the pundits chattering, or the ads blaring. It is about the path we choose as a nation and whether or not we will solve our toughest problems. Whether or not we will have a president who will rebuild the economy, end the war in Iraq, restore our leadership in the world and stand up for you every single day.
The people I meet along the campaign trail don't always make the headlines; the nurses and teachers, the truckers and soldiers, the waitresses and firefighters, the police officers and coal miners, the college students and line workers. The men and women who get up every single day, work hard to make a difference for their families. The people struggling to make ends meet, to find a good job, to pay the bills, to have a shot at the American Dream.
For too long, too many Americans have felt invisible in their own country. Well, you've never been invisible to me. I’ve been fighting for you my entire life.
And I want you to remember, we are in this race because we believe that every single American deserves quality, affordable health care, no exceptions. We are in this race because we believe everyone deserves a shot at the American Dream, the opportunity to work hard at a good job to get ahead, to save for college, for a home, for retirement. To fill the gas tank and buy the groceries with a little left at the end of each month; to build a better life for you and your children. We are in this race because we believe this new century poses new challenges to meet and new opportunities to seize, if we only had a president ready, willing and able to lead.
To turn the climate crisis into an energy revolution and create million of new jobs; to turn the risks of the new global economy into the rewards of new prosperity shared by all of our people. We are in this race because we believe it will take a Commander-in-Chief with the strength and knowledge to end the war in Iraq safely and quickly, and a president with experience representing the people of the United States in more than 80 countries to restore our leadership and moral authority in the world.
And yes, we are in this race because we believe America is worth fighting for. This continues to be a tough fight. And I have fought it the only way I know how - with determination, by never giving up and never giving in.
I have done it, not because I wanted to demonstrate my toughness, but because I believe passionately that for the sake of our country the Democrats must take back the White House and end the Republican rule. This country needs our combination of strength and compassion to help people struggling with their bills, living the hard reality of everyday life, in need of our leadership on issues from health care to energy to Social Security. That's why I'm still running and that's why you're still voting.
And I'm going on now to campaign in Montana, South Dakota, and Puerto Rico. And I’m going to keep standing up for the voters of Florida and Michigan. Democrats in those two states cast 2.3 million votes and they deserve to have those votes counted. That's why I'm going to keep making our case until we have a nominee, whoever she may be.
It is especially sweet tonight because Kentucky has a knack for picking presidents. This state delivered two terms to a president named Clinton. And it’s often been said, as Kentucky goes, so goes the nation.
Neither Senator Obama nor I have won the 2210 delegates required to secure the nomination. And because this race is so close, still separated by less than 200 delegates out of more than 4,400, neither Senator Obama nor I will have reached that magic number when the voting ends on June the 3rd.
So, our party will have a tough choice to make. Who is ready to lead our party at the top of our ticket? Who is ready to defeat Senator McCain in the swing states and among swing voters? Who is ready to rebuild the economy and the war in Iraq and protect our national security as Commander-in-Chief? Who is ready on Day One to lead?
There are so many Kentuckians that I want to thank. I am so honored by your support and hospitality to me, to Bill and to Chelsea, and I want to thank Jerry and Charlotte Lundergan and my entire Kentucky Steering Committee, including former Governors Wendell Ford, Julian Carroll, John Y. Brown, Martha Layne Collins and Paul Patent. I want to thank Speaker Jody Richards and his wife Neva, former Attorney General, Greg Stumbo, Majority Leader Rocky Adkins and Tina Ward-Pugh, and Terry McBrayer, Joetta Wickliffe and Loretta Bosley.
I want to thank my friends in labor for standing by us every step of the way. I am grateful to the Kentucky Veterans for Hillary and honored by your support and your service. I want to thank my chairman, Terry McAuliffe, and my family. I am so grateful to the outstanding staff, volunteers and supporters in Kentucky and in Oregon and across America who have worked so hard.
Now, I have one more request to all of my supporters tonight, to the people I’ve met along the campaign trail, to everyone who has knocked on doors and volunteered and put up signs and donated to this campaign. Keep working. Keep fighting. Keep standing up for what you believe is right, because that is exactly what I'm going to do.
People ask me all the time, how do you keep going? Well, it is you who keep me going. And tonight, I'm thinking about all of the women I've met who were born before women could vote. Just this week, I met 89-year-old Emma Hollis, an African-American woman, she has seen so many barriers crumble and fall in her lifetime, but she is not finished yet. She has been volunteering out of our campaign office in Covington to help our campaign break the highest and hardest glass ceiling in the land.
I'm thinking about Andrea Steagall, a strong and composed young woman, 20 years old, who drove across Kentucky to meet me. Her husband, Justin, is deployed in Afghanistan. And she told me how important it is that we have a president who will always stand up for our veterans. And I am honored by her support, and by her family's service and sacrifice.
And I'm thinking again about Dalton Hatfield, the 11-year-old from Kentucky, who sold his bike and his video games to raise money to support my campaign. And then he asked others to give, too, and he was able to really give me a boost. And this week, I finally had the chance to meet him in Prestonsburg and to say, Dalton, thank you so much .The $422 you raised helped carry the day in Kentucky.
That's why I'm in this race, to fight for your future, and that's why whatever happens, I'll work as hard as I can to elect a Democratic president this fall. The state motto of Kentucky is, "United we stand, divided we fall." Words that have a special place in our history. They inspired American revolutionaries to unite the colonies, to defy an empire and create a new nation, to invent a new form of government, of the people, by the people, for the people. And they have bound our nation together in service and sacrifice, even in our darkest hours.
We will come together as a party, united by common values and common cause; united in service of the hopes and dreams that know no boundaries of race or creed, gender or geography. And when we do, there will be no stopping us. We won't just unite our party; we will unite our country and make sure America’s best years are still ahead of us. Thank you, and God bless you and God bless America.
We'll note more on the victory in the next entry (and open with it).
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