Friday, September 26, 2008

'Progress' in Iraq

According to the July quarterly report from the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction only 20 percent of families outside of Baghdad province have access to sewage facilities.
Driving through Iraq's province is all the proof one needs. In many southern provinces the sewage runs like rivers through the towns while children play nearby and young kids swim through the dirty river water.
Some 66 percent of the cholera cases broke out in the southern province of Babel which is a concern, the United Nations statement said. The WHO is monitoring 950 surveillance sites in Iraq that watch for suspected cases and UNICEF is working with partners to "provide water, hygiene supplies and information for over 45,000 people and schools."
The cholera outbreak has been the talk of Iraqi newspapers over the past few weeks.

The above is from Leila Fadel's "Cholera" (Baghdad Observer, McClatchy Newspapers). The cholera outbreak was totally expected and, yet again, the UN's WHO is pushing a societal issue off on people. There has been no improvement in providing potable water, electricity continues to falter in Iraq and purchasing fuel to heat water (and make it safe) is problematic as fuel prices continue to rise. But the 'answer' is to repeat what they repeat every year and pretend that the central government in Iraq is not failing and that Nouri al-Maliki isn't sitting on billions that should have long ago been used for reconstruction.

In other 'progress,' Alsumaria's "What's after approving Iraq elections law?" explores the recent passage by the Iraqi Parliament of legislation for provincial elections:

First, the parliament needs to submit the law to presidency council, headed by President Jalal Talabani, for approval. The Electoral Commission will then set a date for the polls. Despite that the Parliament has urged the vote to take place before January 31, the commission’s head said it might need four to five months before completing the organizing work.
Why has been the law controversial?
The elections were due on October 1, but were delayed on account of months of bickering over how to conduct polls in the northern city of Kirkuk disputed between Kurds, Arabs and Turkmen. In result, a compromise was reached stipulating to delay elections in Kirkuk and form a committee of representatives of all parties to follow up the issue and present recommendations for resolving the dispute to parliament by March 31.
What are the key points of the new law?
The law stipulates to use an open list electoral system where voters can choose specific candidates while the old law refers to a closed list system where they could only select political parties. The new law does not cover the three provinces of Kurdistan. Polls there will be conducted according to a separate law that the region's parliament needs to write and pass.

Provincial elections, if the law is signed off by the council, are not expected to take place until next year. At the end of this year, the UN mandate that the US has been operating under in Iraq (a mandate put in place after the start of the illegal war) expires December 31st. Puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki has twice extended it (circumventing Parliament). The White House is attempting to push through treaties (and, to circumvent the Senate, is calling them SOFAs). Tina Susman's "U.S. blames Iran for delay in Iraq pact" (Los Angeles Times) reports that US Ambassador Ryan Crocker is stating Iran is attempting to prevent the puppet and the White House from reaching an agreement:

Crocker also speculated that Iran may be tightening its ties to Shiite Muslim militias in Iraq and co-opting them from anti-U.S. cleric Muqtada Sadr, who for the last year has ordered his followers to largely refrain from violence. He said Iran has a history of using members of political or other opposition groups in other countries to its advantage.
"I think what we may be seeing is a situation in which these groups or their successors are far more tightly linked to Tehran and perhaps less linked to Sadr," Crocker said in an interview.
That could mean a resurgence of militia activity if fighters decide the time is right. Coming at a time of increasing Iraqi government sovereignty and declining American power here, and with provincial elections planned by Jan. 31 and national elections next year, there is plenty at stake, particularly in the oil-rich south where Shiite parties with strong Iranian links will vie for power.
A United Nations mandate authorizing the U.S. troop presence in Iraq expires at the end of this year. Crocker said he was convinced the Iraqi government and people would not put up with Iranian meddling after the bloodshed of March and April, when hundreds died in clashes between Shiite militias and Iraqi and U.S. forces in a government crackdown.

No 'progress' unless you redefine the term. Lloyd notes Joby Warrick's "Air Force Instructor Details Harsh Interrogations" (Washington Post):

The techniques themselves -- forced nudity, sleep deprivation, painful shackling -- had been used for years to prepare U.S. fighter pilots for possible capture by an enemy. But Col. Steven Kleinman, an Air Force instructor, said he was shocked in 2003 to see the same harsh methods used haphazardly on Iraqis in a U.S. prison camp.
"It had morphed into a form of punishment for those who wouldn't cooperate," said Kleinman, a career intelligence officer and survival-school instructor.
In dramatic testimony before a Senate panel yesterday, he gave a rare account of how the Pentagon adapted an Air Force training program to squeeze information from captured Iraqis.

In presidential politics, Miguel notes this from Team Nader:

Pass It On: Our Own Agenda- 10 Policies For a Better America


Pass It On: Our Own Agenda- 10 Policies For a Better America .

You’ve heard it before: Ralph Nader is too radical to be president. But is he too radical for the 73% of Americans who say corporations don’t pay enough taxes? Too radical for the 80% who want to increase the minimum wage? Too radical for the 64% who favor a national health care program, or the 56% calling for a renegotiation of NAFTA?

A recent Yes! article suggests that Ralph Nader may just be mainstream America’s dream candidate.


Ashley Sanders
The Nader Team


Also from Team Nader, Emily notes this:

The Odd Couple: Ralph Nader and Obama Girl Share Office Space and Ideas about the Presidential Debate

Thursday, September 25, 2008 at 12:00:00 AM


News Advisory

For interviews with Obama Girl, Melissa Klein, LaunchSquad for Barely Political, 415 625 8555

For interviews with Ralph Nader, Toby Heaps, 202-441-6795

Who: Ralph Nader, Obama Girl, and Jesse Ventura

What: First episode of new online sitcom: /Ralph Nader and Obama Girl Show (Special Guest Appearance by Jesse Ventura)/

Where: Washington, DC, Nader for President 2008 HQ

Why: The economic crisis has resulted in some odd political couples over the past few days. Now we have Ralph Nader and Obama Girl sharing office space in the new sitcom "The Obama Girl and Ralph Nader Show", with a special appearance from Jesse Ventura. Both Obama Girl and Nader agree, this is precisely the time when the candidates should be appearing before the nation.

*Short Description of First Episode*: Despite the troubles with our nation's economy Obama Girl whole heartedly agrees with her man that this is precisely the time when the presidential candidates should be appearing before the nation. But if McCain does back out, fear not...Obama Girl has a new officemate who is most definitely willing to participate. None other than independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader.

Commenting on the launch of the first episode, /Let Ralph Debate/, Ralph Nader said: "I still use an Underwood typewriter to communicate but I realize in this political day and age the internet is a little faster means of getting our message out."

View the first episode here:


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tina susman