Thursday, September 11, 2008


Qader Abdullah Rasoul visited Kirkuk Stadium the day it opened and thought it beautiful. The lush turf was newly laid, and the stands were smooth concrete, steeply tiered to seat tens of thousands of soccer fans. Odai Hussein himself, son of Saddam, attended, and on that day in 1986 Iraq's national team thumped Saudi Arabia 2-1.
Now Rasoul lives in the stadium along with 2,500 others, mostly Kurds. They inhabit mud and cinder-block huts beneath the stands, in the parking lots and the luxury boxes, and it's no longer beautiful. It's a dirty, sewage-ridden slum and Rasoul is the unofficial mayor.
"We apologize to the youth of Kirkuk, because this is a place for sport," he said. "But where else can we go?"

The above is from Nicholas Spangler and Mohammed al Dulaimy's "Displaced Iraqis live under stands in soccer stadium" (McClatchy Newspapers) and you can pair that with Stephen Farrell's "As Iraqis Vie for Kirkuk's Oil, Refugee Kurds Becomes Pawns" (New York Times) from last December which detailed how Kurds were being forced out of northern Iraq by their own government in order to be 'relocated' to Kirkuk (in the hopes of packing the some-day-elections) and forced to live in "the squalor of the Kirkuk soccer stadium."

Grasp how long that's been going on, that it started long before the press began reporting on it. And think about the lack of safety and how easily diseases can be transmitted. Which is a good transition to Iraq's cholera outbreak. AP reports that Salih al-Hasnawi (Iraq's Minister of Health) held a press conference in Baghdad earlier today to note that Baghdad (and surrounding areas) were now also seeing the outbreak and that the region of Iraq has seend the deaths of 5 from the disease with at least 36 people confirmed as having cholera in the region. Note, that's "Baghdad and sourthern areas." The United Nations notes 10 deaths thus far with "174 suspected cases" and that:

The World Health Organization (WHO) is providing technical support to the Iraqi Ministry of Health, and, along with other UN entities, has been aiding cholera-affected governorates since the disease resurfaced three weeks ago.
WHO has taken on a coordination role in efforts to tackle cholera and is working to fortify Iraq’s disease surveillance system in identifying new cases. It is also supplying emergency supplies to laboratories to enhance their testing capability.

In news of the US presidential race, Christopher Keating's "Ralph Nader At 6% in Michigan, 4% in N. Hamp." (Hartford Courant) reports:

Nader, who appeared on CNN with host Wolf Blitzer on Wednesday afternoon, is at 6 percent in Michigan and 4 percent in New Hampshire, according to the poll. Nader clearly is not expected to win the presidential race, but some believe that he could be a spoiler this year.

"Expected" and "spoiler." Candidates get the votes they earn barring voter fraud, ballot access denial or the US Supreme Court stepping in. There are no "spoilers." "Expected"? No one knows who will win until the votes are counted (and we know whether or not the Supreme Court intends to sit this election out). In a democracy, candidates are supposed to compete for votes. It's a real sign of how nervous some people are at the thought of actual democracy that they have to insist both that Ralph (or any other candidate) really doesn't stand a chance while also whining about 'spoiler.' In terms of the Democratic Party, it has a long history in the last few decades of pandering (the term wrongly used all last week and applied to the GOP) by "running to the right" in the general election. In other words, it's happy to try to 'spoil' the GOP's candidate's chances by emulating him or her; however, it's not happy to try to run to the left. If Nader is seen as a threat, a good campaign adopts his proposals. A failed campaign whines "spoiler!" and never does anything to reach out to Ralph's supporters (or the supporters of any other candidates). The true 'spoiler' is a lousy campaign that takes for granted support and acts as though it is entitled to votes for the sole reason of party identification. If party's identification is the end-all-be-all, save everyone a ton of money and get off the campaign trail. Why bother meeting people at all if you think you own the votes? Whomever wins in November will win (barring voter fraud) because the most Americans selected her or him to be their president. That's how voting in a democracy works. Everything else is just anti-democratic whining.

Statement to Ron Paul Supporters


Statement to Ron Paul Supporters .

Today, along with other third party candidates, I joined Congressman Ron Paul to endorse a common agenda that stands up for the US Constitution by ending illegal wars, and protecting the privacy and civil liberties of all persons under US jurisdiction. We also jointly called for an immediate halt to the increase in the national debt, an end to corporate subsidies and taxpayer bailouts of corporations, and to start aggressively pursuing prosecution of corporations that commit crimes and frauds.

Both Congressman Paul and I also support holding President Bush and Dick Cheney to account for their transgressions against our Constitution.

Today's coming together of third party candidates marks the beginning of the realignment of American politics.

While Congressman Paul and I do not agree on all things -- such as health and safety regulations and health insurance systems and how to handle areas where the market fails or is not up to the task of getting the best outcomes for the American people -- on the overriding foreign policy, reckless waste financed by deficit spending, and civil liberties issues of the day, we stand together. He is a stalwart who has consistently stood up for what he believes in and never wavered when he is opposed by the legions of commercial interests and lobbyists that swarm the Capitol.

Congressman Paul said today, "the strongest message can be sent by rejecting the two-party system, which in reality is a one-party system with no possible chance for the changes to occur which are necessary to solve our economic and foreign policy problems." He also called on his supporters to vote for Nader/Gonzalez or one of the other non-establishment, principled candidates, who support the joint statement issued today.

For all the millions of people who have broken free from the establishment parties' domination over our dwindling democracy, Nader/Gonzalez presents a clear choice for those who want to support a candidate who will stand up against the war and stand up for personal liberties and privacy that have been trampled on by the notorious, misnamed, PATRIOT Act, the FISA 'snoop' Bill, and the unilateral dictates of the Bush/Cheney regime.

Some unfairly paint the Nader/Gonzalez candidacy as being for big government. Nothing could be more untrue.

Nader/Gonzalez supports a government of the people, by the people, for the people. We agree with Congressman Paul that government is rife with waste and corporate demands, and needs to be scaled back in many areas -- most of all the bloated, wasteful US military budget, which is half of the government's total operating budget.

We are also against big government doling out hundreds of billions in corporate welfare, subsidies, and bailouts to companies.

We support abolishing income tax on the first $50,000 of income to be made up with a fraction of a percent Wall Street speculation tax, especially on derivatives.

Click here to listen to Ralph's remarks at today's press conference.