Wednesday, September 3, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, China gets a windfall, US forces and Iraqi forces clash, reporters remain targeted and more.
Starting with Monday's 'handover' of Al Anbar Province. The Los Angeles Times filed an interesting report . . . at the paper's blog Babylon & Beyond. The byline-less article (16 paragraphs) talks about the very clear tensions evident in the for-show ceremony itself with Abdul-Salam Ani ("head of the Anbar provincial council") stating the tribal leaders were "trying to stir up sedition with their claims that the Islamic Party leaders ar corrupt" and Sheik Ahmed B. Abu Risha, a tribal leader and "Awakening" Movement 'fellow' who claimed it was the other way around. The article reminds, "The sharp words at the podium highlight the reason that the original handover date, in late June, was delayed. There are concerns among locals and officials that the political animosity could lead to an unraveling of the security here. Despite the tribes' actions since 2006, they remain politically disadvantaged in Anbar because they did not take part in provincial elections in 2005. Hence, the Islamic Party holds 36 of the provincial council's 41 seats."
The provincial elections will most likely not take place in 2008. Time is running out to put them in place in what remains of this year. Over the weekend Leila Fadel (McClathy Newspapers) reported that puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki was said to be "on a roll, and American officials are getting worried." al-Maliki is the White House puppet. He wasn't the choice of Iraq. (He wasn't even the first-round pick in the puppet pageant.) But most puppets have some form of brain. Bully Boy's on the way out. Bully Boy can't protect him. The puppet does not the "Awakening" Council members in the Iraqi military or the Iraqi police. He controls both and has staffed them with Shi'ite thugs so he doesn't want to allow in Sunni thugs. Since the start of the illegal war the US has repeatedly sided with thugs within Iraq because it was hoped that a thug could 'snap' the people into 'order' quickly. So they leaned towards Shia extremists early on and the Sunni extremists came into play only after reports on the Interior Ministry's 'security' guards' actions and other issues became news. That leaves the "Awakening" Council as a very real threat to al-Maliki. They may be more of a threat currently than the White House. Ned Parker (Los Angeles Times) reported over the weekend that al-Maliki had tossed out the "negotiating team" that was representing his interests in the treaty with the US. So al-Maliki has a new team advising him? B-b-but we were told it was all taken care of! (Told by the press rushing to create a story where there was none and ignoring repeated remarks by the US State Dept that no agreement had been reached).
So al-Maliki has a new team. Where's the team fighting for Iraqis. Sarmad Ali (Baghdad Life, Wall St. Journal) observes the US concerns over oil prices but has "a harder time understanding why Iraqis -- with their oases of crude oil reserves and untapped oilfields in the south and the north -- have had to put up with high oil prices and severe shortages of gasoline, diesel and cooking gas." Ali explains that "ordinary Iraqis still face fueld shortage and high rates . . . three-hour lines of cars queued up for gas . . ." Nouri al-Maliki (my point, not Ali's) sits on millions and refuses to use them to make life better for the Iraqis. And the money just keeps rolling in. Eric Watkins (Oil & Gas Journal) states the oil contract to China National Petroleum Co (CNPC) has been approved by the Iraqi Oil Ministry today. Today's Azzaman sees an exclusion of the US from the oil deals and insists this is due to pressure from Iran. David Berman (Globe & Mail) dismisses "the concern about China cornering Iraqi oil, it's nonsense". BBC via redOrbit documents the press conference in Baghdad today, presided over by Husayn al-Shahrastani
Reuters new photographer Ibrahim Jassam Mohammed has been held by the US since the first of the month. Reporters Without Borders is calling for Ibrahim's immediate release and notes: "Ibrahim Jassam was picked up from his home in the capital and soldiers took him to an unknown location after checking the ID of members of his family and seizing four cameras along with his phone and laptop computer. His family still do not know why he was arrested. Jassam had worked for Reuters for four years and had received a number of anonymous death threats. More than 20 journalists have been arrested in Iraq in similar circumstances since 1st January 2008, all of whom have been released after spending days or even months in custody without any charges being made against them." Reuters quotes their Editor-in-Chief David Schlesinger, "We are concerned to hear about Jassam's detention, and urge the U.S. military to either charge or release him once an initial investigatory stage is concluded. Any accusation against a journalist should be aired publicly and dealt with fairly and swiftly, with the journalist having the right to counsel and present a defense. Iraqi journalists llike Jassam play a vital role in telling this story in the world."
Anna Johnson (AP) reports on a shootout between the US and Iraqi forces -- yes, "between" the two -- that resulted in the deaths of at least 6 Iraqis and involved US boats, US helicopters (two) and who knows what else. Johnson reports the dead includes 2 Iraqi police officers, 2 Iraqi soldiers and 2 "Awakening" Council members. Reuters reports 10 more Iraqis were wounded. Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) contacted M-NF and received this comment, "We have initial reports that while coalition forces were conducting operations against suspected AQI there was an incident involving weapons fire between Coalition and Iraqi Security Forces north of Tarmiyah, Baghdad. Reports indicate ISF sustained casualties. Coalition aircraft were involved in this incident. It is always regrettable when incidents of mistaken fire occur on the battlefield; a review of the circumstances is under way."
In other of today's reported violence . . .
Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing that left two people wounded, a Diyala Province roadside bombing that claimed the life of 1 Iraqi solider with four more wounded, 2 Mosul roadside bombings which claimed 1 life and left seven wounded and a Tikrit roadside bombing that left "[s]ome policemen injured".
Reuters reports 1 Iraqi soldier shot dead in Mosul yesterday (as well as 1 civilian shot dead in Mosul). Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a US house raid in Salahuddin province that resulted in student Tahseen Mikhlif being shot dead.
Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 1 corpse discovered in Baghdad.
Turning to two journalists. John Pilger will tale questions at an event this Friday in London (Institute of Education). For ticket prices and other details click here for the notice by the UK Socialist Worker. (Click here for Pilger's most recent article at The New Statesman.) Second, independent journalist David Bacon details (at Truth Out) an immigration raid in Mississippi and quotes the National Immigration Law Center's Marielena Hincapie stating that "raids drive down wages because they intimidate workers, even citizens and legal residents. The employer brings in another batch of employees and continues business as usual, while people who protest get targeted and workers get deported. Raids really demonstrate the employer's power." Bacon's latest book has just been released: Illegal People -- How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants (Beacon Press).
Ralph's Daily Audio is a segment of the Nader-Gonzalez presidential campaign that offers audio commentaries. This is "Nixon and Ford Now Seem Progressive:"
This is Ralph Nader. In recent weeks, I've been making the point that if voters don't condition their vote on some response by the candidates to the priority issues on the voter's minds, every four years both parties will become worse. Because, twenty-four seven, the corporate lobbies are pulling on both parties and if voters who are liberal or progressive are not pulling in the other way to make the least worse candidate accord with the important priorities favored by a majority of the American people, then the corporate interests have a pull without any pull in the other direction and you know where that leads. I was reading the other day some of the policies by Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford in the 1970s. Richard Nixon, for example, besides signing into law with enthusiastic statements, the EPA Bill, the OSHA Bill, the Product Safety Bill, among other legislation we pressed through Congress in those heady days. He offered a policy on drugs in the streets and addiction that emphasized rehabilitation of drug addicts, not incarceration and imprisonment. He proposed a health insurance plan that observers say was better than the Clinton plan, He supported and articulated a minimum income plan to move the country toward abolishing poverty No other president has done that since. And he favored vocally the voting rights for the disenfranchised citizens of the District of Columbia.
Can you imagine a president today demanding an excess profit tax on the oil companies and demanding higher fuel efficiency for motor vehicles in no uncertain terms? Well that's what President Gerald Ford did following Richard Nixon in the 1970s.
See what I mean about both parties getting worse when we as voters freak out, vote for the least worst and let the least worst be pulled by the corporate interest closer to the worst every four years? This is Ralph Nader.
And this is "Corporate Hands in Your Pockets:"
This is Ralph Nader. I was watching the CBS national Evening News with Katie Couric on Friday. And she came on with an interesting segment about how people are charged for services they never receive. She highlighted one woman who had a back operation and She was billed about $60,000 and it turned out $40,000 of that $60,000 were for phantom charges -- things she never received, were never treated with. Well that's just the tip of the iceberg. The General Accounting Office years ago estimated that billing fraud in the health care industry is 10% the entire health care bill of the whole nation. This year that would mean $230 billion.
Imagine $230 billion dollars. Malcom Sparrow the applied mathametician at Harvard who specialises in health care billing fraud thinks that that is the most conservative estimate. Have you ever heard any of the presidential candidates talk about billing fraud phenomena year after year that costs more than the war in Iraq?
Have you ever heard any of the presidential candidates -- John McCain, Barack Obama, or the primary candidates for that matter in the Republican-Democratic Party ever mention or pay attention to a rip-off phenomon that is costing more than the Iraq War at least in dollas --
Well that's why the Nader - Gonzales is so necessary to provide the contrast, the alternative to focus on the need to crack down on corporate crime, fraud and abuse that is looting or draining trillions of dollars from consumers, worker-pensions, savers, mutual funds
It's all reported in the mainstream press except this billing fraud that I just mentioned from Enron to Wall St. and yet John McCain and Barack Obama have no program to engage in the necessary resources and willpower to crack down and prevent corporate crime fraud and abuse including corporate crime ripping off Medicare in the billions of dollars.
Just another difference between Nader-Gonzalez and McCain-Obama the corporate candidate. Thank you.
Ralph Nader in the independent presidential candidate. Cynthia McKinney is the Green Party's presidential candidate. Cynthia willl be on C-Span1's Road to the White House this Sunday (September 7th) which will air at 6:30 p.m. EST (repeating at 9:30 p.m. EST the same night). Among those supporting Cynthia's run are the one and only Roseanne, Black Agenda Report and Carolyn of MakeThemAccountable. In the August 26th snapshot, we noted her interview with Gabriel San Roman (Uprising Radio). Gabriel San Roman provides a text version of that audio interview at Black Agenda Report this week:
GSR: How do you seek to redefine sources of electoral power come November?
CM: My political career started in the state of Georgia as a member of the Georgia Legislature. When I ran for that particular position, the corporate press all touted the fact that I was not going to win and yet we were able to win. We won because of people power. We went outside the existing electorate. We brought new people in. That is, of course, one of the hopes that we have with this campaign. We hope we are going to bring new people into the political process and let them see the efficacy of their vote. Now how is it that we can do that? We have to talk about the fact that we are operating in a political environment that lacks election integrity. One of the things I have been able to say quite convincingly because of the precedent set four years ago by the Green Party and David Cobb is that the day after the election when there are reports of disfranchisement and fraud, the Green Party is going to be there when the Democratic Party capitulates. It was in 2000 that we know that the voters of this country gave the Democrats the White House and instead they didn't even fight for the victory that the voters gave them. They capitulated to the Republicans and allowed George W. Bush to assume the presidency. Again in 2004, John Kerry promised that we would not see this kind of action on behalf of the Democratic Party that took place in 2000. In 2004, on the very next day, even as the reports were coming in from Ohio, John Kerry conceded. He gave up once again. He gave up the White House, so that George W. Bush could continue this reign of terror on people inside of this country and outside this country.
So now comes 2008. We understand that there are already efforts afoot to disenfranchise certain populations through the Voter ID laws that have been passed in various legislatures as well as with voter caging. Voter caging is just a fancy way of saying you show up at the polls on election day and you find out that your name is not on the voter list. What is your recourse? You have none. You don't get to vote. If you have the opportunity to cast a provisional ballot, there's no guarantee that the provisional ballot will be counted. We still have to deal with the electronic voting machines. The ills of the 2000 election remain with us. The ills of the 2004 election remain with us. New ills have been placed on top of those ills for the 2008 election. It will be the Green Party and activists across this country who will demand election integrity and who will move from protest to resistance. That is what we have to do now.
GSR: You mentioned protest. Define a vote for Cynthia McKinney in this election. Is it a protest vote or something more substantive?
CM: It's a values vote. What we are asking people to do is vote their values. I am so proud to say that at a recent meeting with Rosanne Barr she said, "I'm sick and tired of being put in a box. I'm going to vote my values. I'm going to vote Green." We invite people to join the Power to the People campaign. This is a campaign that seeks to include everyone. We want to draw from every population that feels that somehow their values are not represented by the powers that be. They are not represented by the two corporate parties. They are not represented by any other way, shape, fashion or form. And so perhaps the Power to the People campaign and the Green Party can express the views and the values of people who want peace for a change. They want ecological wisdom for a change. They want social justice for a change. They want real democracy for a change. That's what the Green Party vote represents and so I invite everyone to vote your values and vote Green.
Glen Ford (Black Agenda Report) explains, "Cynthia McKinney and Rosa Clemente are running for president and vice-president on the Green Party ticket, but their larger goal is to reignite a mass movement based on principles that are anathema to the financiers that call the shots in the Obama campaign. They are among the voices that have not been silenced in this deformed election cycle." Meanwhile Chris Hedges encourages people to examine the health care plan Barack is proposing and to show spine, "We on the left, those who should be out there fighting for universal health care and total and immediate withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan, sit like lap dogs on the short leashes of our Democratic (read corporate) masters. We yap now and then, but we have forgotten how to snarl and bite. We have been domesticated. And until we punish the two main parties the way big corporations do, by withdrawing support and funding when our issues are ignored, we will remain irrelevant and impotent. I detest Bill O'Reilly, but he is right on one thing-we liberals are a spineless lot. . . . We need to throw our support behind alternative candidates who champion what we care about, whether Cynthia McKinney or Ralph Nader."