Thursday, October 02, 2008

The 'handover'

The Iraqi government on Wednesday began assuming control of the U.S.-backed armed groups that have helped curtail violence here, in a high-stakes test for the American strategy to stabilize Iraq.
[. . .]
The handover of the armed groups was a low-key affair in Baghdad, where government offices are closed for a six-day holiday marking the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. The transition was largely symbolic, since the U.S. military plans to stay involved with the groups for several months as the Iraqi government begins paying their salaries and decides how to employ them.

The above is from Mary Beth Sheridan's "A Delicate Changing of the Guard: Nerves on Edge Among Sunni 'Sons of Iraq' as They Report to Shiite-Led Government" (Washington Post) and the link provides you with a photo essay on the "Awakening" Councils by the paper's Andrea Bruce (directly under the headline, on the right). The article was noted in yesterday's snapshot and it's a huge topic. So most take a pass in covering it apparently. The Los Angeles Times files a report, Jeffrey Fleishman's "Iraq takes control of U.S.-backed Sunni fighters:"

Some leaders of the Sons of Iraq feel that the transition represents a betrayal by the U.S. The government of Prime Minister Nouri Maliki also questioned the Sunni fighters' loyalty to Iraqi forces and whether it can provide jobs and training for all of them.
"We won't leave the Sunni fighters to an obscure fate," said Abbas Bayati, a Shiite member of parliament. Only 20% of the fighters will serve in the military and police; the rest will get other government jobs or retraining as mechanics, carpenters or other skilled workers.

By the way, Tina Susman has a brief blog post at Babylon & Beyond (Los Angeles Times' Iraq blog) entitled "IRAQ: A sheik's burden" and, in addition, today's Babylon & Beyond's one year anniversary.

At the New York Times, what do you know, the paper finally decides to file a report from Iraq. Alissa J. Rubin's "Amid Progress in Iraq, Sides Have Scores to Settle" is an overview that addresses many points that will be of concern in the next year. For an excerpt we'll focus on this regarding the Kurdistan region:

Look north and the Kurds are battling for hegemony in areas that lie along the border of their semiautonomous region. They are competing with Turkmens and Sunni Arabs who claim primacy of ownership to some of the same territory, particularly the city of Kirkuk and its surrounding province. Politicians have tried repeatedly since 2003 to reach a deal to resolve the disputes. But each effort has foundered on Kurdish ambitions to expand the Kurdistan region.
For much of the past five years the situation was tense but did not explode into ethnic violence. That changed in the last six months as attacks began on the party headquarters of different groups. Then in August, Kurdish soldiers in Kirkuk opened fire on Turkmens after a suicide bomb; the ensuing riot killed dozens of people. The violence spread. In early September in Khanaqin, a predominantly Kurdish city that lies in neighboring Diyala Province, Iraqi Army tanks faced off against Kurdish pesh merga, the Kurdistan security forces.

While Rubin does a strong job outlining the tensions in Iraq currently (though tensions caused by US forces occupying the country aren't included), it's not an article about the 'handover' and there is no article on the 'handover.' Do we have to wait three days for "the paper of record" to note it? Last Thursday, the paper ran an article filed from Iraq. Not Friday, not Saturday, not Sunday. Monday the paper ran an article filed from Iraq. Not Tuesday, not Wednesday.

The paper had a strong article online that was noted in the September 30th snapshot:

Meanwhile, the New York Times' Erica Goode (at the paper's blog, Baghdad Bureau Blog) writes of spending the night at the home of an Iraqi friend which required her to wear a a black abaya and hijab and climb a darkened staircase to ensure that no neighbors grasped an American visiting. In the apartment with her friend, her friend's husband and the couple's three-year-old daughter on a 114 degree day, they saw frequent 15 minute burst of electricity (apparently making up -- when combined -- the few hours of electricity outside the Green Zone Baghdad sees each day): "The electricity shortage, they said, is a problem not just for comfort but for the refrigerator in the bedroom, which goes off and on all day, making it difficult to store food. The water in the sink and shower, too, is unpredicatble, sometimes working, sometimes not. . . . We drank fruit juice and bottled war -- even when there is tap water, it is not potable." And that's Baghdad (outside the Green Zone), not a distant province in the country. Five years after the start of the illegal war, that's life in Baghdad.

And reading it, it should have run in the paper. It's a very strong report. I could see an argument that it's a feature article because it clearly is. But the paper has no trouble these days running feature articles in the news section and, for that matter, even tossing them on the front page. Goode's online article was stronger than any feature writing making the news section this year. Iraq is falling off the radar.

What is taking up all the space? The US presidential election and not because the press is doing some outstanding work. Amy Goodman, for example, lies today on Democracy Now! with "She's also talked about Iraq as being God's war." That's Goody lying about Governor Sarah Palin. Palin did not say it was God's war. She asked people to pray on the Iraq War. Maybe those so openly hostile to Christianity shouldn't be allowed to discuss it when they are repeatedly caught, as Goody is, lying? Palin and Joe Biden debate tonight. Biden is the Democratic vice presidential nominee, Palin the Republican one. Near the end of today's show, Goody will try to 'prove' how 'fair' she is (unlike Big Media) but it's a vice presidential debate and playing clips of presidential candidates only underscores how lousy a job Goody's done in 'breaking the sound barrier'. She's neither independent nor a journalist. She's just a propagandist offering Pravda on the Hudson. (That includes featuring an Obama advisor on today's show but failing to inform the audience of that. But after last week when she allowed someone with a psuednym to be introduced as if it was his real name -- and never informed her audience it wasn't -- she really buried herself under her lack of ethics.)

Independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader has the following upcoming campaign appearances:

Oct. 4th, Noon
Nader/Gonzalez 2008 Rally
Waterbury, CT
195 Grand St. Waterbury, CT 06702
More info: Mike at (203) 573-9524 or
Map it
Oct. 4th, 4pm
Private Gathering with Ralph Nader
Hartford, CT
RSVP: Rob (202) 471-5833 or
Minimum Contribution: $100
Map it
Oct. 4th, 7pm
Nader/Gonzalez 2008 Rally
Storrs, CT
Edwin O. Smith High School
1235 Storrs Rd. Storrs, CT 06268
Suggested Contribution: $10/$5 students
(203) 468-1268 or
Map it
Oct. 5th, 11am
Nader/Gonzalez Rally
Amherst, Massachusetts
U-Mass. Amherst, Bowker Auditorium in Stockbridge Hall
80 Campus Center Way, Amherst, MA 01003
Suggested Contribution: $10/$5 students
(504) 319-9312 or
Map it
Oct. 5th, 4pm
Intimate Gathering with Ralph Nader
Waitsfield, VT
Contribution: $30 to $100
RSVP: (202) 471-5833 or
Map it
Oct. 5th, 7:30pm
Nader/Gonzalez Rally
Burlington, VT
Ira Allen Chapel
26 University Place Burlington, VT 05405
Suggested Contribution: $10/ $5 students
(504) 319-9312or
Map it
Oct. 6th, 12pm
Nader/Gonzalez Rally
Hanover, NH
Alumni Hall, Hopkins Center for the Arts
Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH 03755
Suggested Contribution: $10/$5 students
(202)471-5833 or
Map it
Oct. 6th, 7:30pm
Nader/Gonzalez Rally
Portland, ME
First Parish in Portland Maine, Unitarian Universalist
425 Congress St. Portland, ME 04101
Suggested Contribution: $10/$5 students
(202)471-5833 or
Map it

In the public e-mail account, a visitor asks if we'll note a press release by the McCain-Palin campaign? We have noted their releases before (including yesterday's snapshot) and this one is on veterans:

Past National Commanders Of Veteran's Service Organizations Endorse John McCain

ARLINGTON, VA -- McCain-Palin 2008 today announced that twenty-one past National Commanders of the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) have endorsed John McCain for President. The individuals endorsing John McCain hail from 18 different states, including Colorado, Ohio, Missouri, North Carolina, Wisconsin, New Hampshire and Illinois. Also included on the list is New Jersey native George Lisicki, who just last month stepped down as VFW Commander-in-Chief.

John McCain stated, "I am honored and humbled to receive the support of individuals who have served their county with distinction in the military and as leaders of two of America's largest and most esteemed veterans' organizations. It has been my great privilege to serve America's veterans, and today I renew my pledge never to forget the sacrifices of veterans and their families, or to do my utmost to provide veterans with the care and benefits they deserve."

Those Endorsing John McCain:

Edward S. Banas, Sr., Past Commander-in-Chief, VFW, Connecticut

Tom Bock, Past National Commander, American Legion, Colorado

John Brieden, Past National Commander, American Legion, Texas

Billy Ray Cameron, Past Commander-in-Chief, VFW, North Carolina

John "Jake" Comer, Past National Commander, American Legion, Massachusetts

George R. Cramer, Past Commander-in-Chief, VFW, Illinois

James R. Currieo, Past Commander-in-Chief, VFW, Arizona

Miles Epling, Past National Commander, American Legion, West Virginia

John F. Gwizdak, Past Commander-in-Chief, VFW, Georgia

Walter G. Hogan, Past Commander-in-Chief, VFW, Wisconsin

Tony Jordan, Past National Commander, American Legion, Maine

Gary Kurpius, Past Commander-in-Chief, VFW, Alaska

George J. Lisicki, Past Commander-in-Chief, VFW, New Jersey

James R. Mueller, Past Commander-in-Chief, VFW, Missouri

Clifford G. Olson, Jr., Past Commander-in-Chief, VFW, Massachusetts

John W. Smart, Past Commander-in-Chief, VFW, New Hampshire

R.D. "Bulldog" Smith, Past Commander-in-Chief, VFW, Georgia

Paul A. Spera, Past Commander-in-Chief, VFW, Massachusetts

Norman G. Staab, Past Commander-in-Chief, VFW, Kansas

John S. Staum, Past Commander-in-Chief, VFW, Minnesota

John Wasylik, Past Commander-in-Chief, VFW, Ohio

Cynthia McKinney is the Green Party presidential candidate. Monet Drake's "Get to Know: Green Party's Cynthia McKinney" (Howard University's The Hilltop):

History is certain to be made this election, but not by Sen. Obama and Gov. Palin, but rather by the Green Party's Presidential nominee, Cynthia McKinney - a black woman.
Cynthia McKinney, who was previously a Democrat, expanded her political views and won over the Green Party as the nominee for the presidential candidacy.
She is a firm believer in the 2008 Green Party's Platform and a strong advocate for her "Power to the People" campaign.
In a press release, her running mate, Rosa Clemente said, "Cynthia McKinney is a hero to me and many others across this country and around the world."
McKinney has been actively involved in politics since 1986. She was born the daughter of Georgia state representative Billy McKinney. Previously a resident of Jamaica, she ran and won a seat in the House of Representatives representing Georgia along side her father, in 1988. She was elected the first African-American woman to Congress in 1992, however, just 10 years later, she lost her seat.
Congresswoman McKinney has since been able to move forward and attempt to promote a new health care plan and eliminate weapons of mass destruction, key values set forth by the Green Party. In an International Tribunal Press Release, McKinney expressed her concern for the victims of Hurricane Katrina.
"I am pleased to be among this tested and true group of activists who are committed to Katrina justice," McKinney said to dozens of supporters in the press release.

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