Friday, October 10, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, another journalist is killed, yesterday's assassination causes more suspicions of the US, Iraqi Christians are targeted says an Archbishop, and more.
Yesterday at the White House, spokesperson Dana Perino was asked about Iraqi Christians "losing representation in Iraq's Muslim-dominated legislature" and Perino responded that "I think that that was resolved and the Christians' rights were restored." (Full answer: "I'll check, but I think you should double check, because I think that that was resolved and the Christians' rights were restored.") No, they were not. Leila Fadel (McClatchy Newspapers) reported, "a separate bill" will be sent "to parliament to restore" Article 50. The bill may or not pass. But the provincial elections bill, which passed by Parliament, passed the presidency council and was signed into law by Iraqi president Jalal Talabani, eliminated Article 50 which guaranteed representation to religious minorities. Yesterday, Kim Gamel (AP) reported that in Mosul so far this month, 7 corpses of Iraqi Christians have been discovered, notes that a person's religion is listed on the state i.d., that there are approximately 800,000 Iraqi Christians still in the country, and quotes Chaldean Archibishop Louis Sako stating, "We are worried about the campaign of killings and deportations against the Christian citizens in Mosul." The Kurdish Globe reported yesterday that the Yazidis and the Christians continue protesting over the elimination of Article 50 and quotes Jamil Zeito ("head of the Seriaques-Chaldeans Public Council") stating, "We will demonstrate and protest until we achieve autonomous rights for Christians in our districts as well as fair representation for religious minorities, including Christians, in the provincial elections. The protests and demonstrations will not stop till we accomplish our fair rights; ignoring the rights of minorities indicates incomplete democracy in Iraq." And, as AINA reports, the issue has led to protests elsewhere as well such as the Iraqi embassy in Sweden where protestors gathered and Isak Monir ("spokesman for the Chaldean Federation in Sweden") explained, "Since the decision to exclude minorities representatives was taken by the Iraqi parliament the violence against Christians has increased remarkably. The groups who want Iraq cleaned from other ethnic and religious groups maybe felt that they are backed up by the parliament and consequently have begun to kill Christians again. They want a homogeneous Iraq -- cleaned from other ethnic and religious groups." Ethan Cole (Christian Post) notes the 3 Iraqi Christians killed on Tuesday in Mosul and he explains of Mosul "the city is a historic center for Assyrian Christians, who view it as their ancestral homeland. It is home to the second-largest community of Christians in Iraq, after Baghdad." Asia News (via Catholic Today) identifies the dead:
More Christian blood in Mosul. On October 7, a father and son were killed in the neighborhood of Sukkar while they were working. Amjad Hadi Petros and his son were killed because "they were guilty of being Christian" in a place where a "systematic persecution" is being seen. In a second attack, recorded in another of the city's neighborhoods, a fundamentalist group broke into a pharmacy and killed an assistant, also of the Christian religion.
We also recounted the execution, on Monday, October 6, of Ziad Kamal, a 25-year-old disabled shop owner in the city. The young man owned a store in the neighborhood of Karama: he was taken by an armed group from inside his store and brought to a nearby spot, where he was shot to death. Also, on Saturday, October 4, two more men were barbarously assassinated in two other areas of Mosul: Hazim Thomaso Youssif, 40, was killed in front of the clothing store he owned, while 15-year-old Ivan Nuwya was shot to death in the neighborhood of Tahrir, outside of his house in front of the local mosque of Alzhara.
Vatican Radio: Concern is growing once again over violence against Christians in nothern Iraq where, in the last week alone, seven of them have been killed in the city of Mosul. Attacks have tapered off amid a drastic decline in overall violence nationwide but these latest killings have sparked renewed fears. The Chaldean Archbishop of Kirkuk, Luis Sako, has condemned the violence.
Archbishop Sako: In Mosul the situation is terrible especially for the Christians and many families left the city, children cannot go to the school and also people cannot go to work they are staying in their houses. Just a real tragedy for them. I made an appeal to the Mosul population because I am from Mosul -- I lived years in Mosul, in a parish -- and I had many, many relationships with Muslims most of them so I made a call and an appeal. This appeal has been delivered in all the local medias. This could be helpful to encourage Muslim moderates to react and to do something.
The United Nations and Peoples Organization notes the Wednesday meeting of the European Parliament of the EPP-ED in Brussles which addressed "Christian Communities in the Muslim World: Iraq". Archbishop of Mosul Basile Georges Casmoussa called the crisis "heartbreaking" and stated Iraq Christians make up 40% of the refugee population despite being only 4% of Iraq's population. He also noted that that "aid was not reaching Christians in Iraq". The report also notes: "Kirkuk was identified as a crucial issue by Ms. Naglaa Elhag, of the IKV Pax Christi organization, in her presentation on 'The Situation of Refugees in Iraq' -- the topic of the final panel. Until this was addressed and Europe adopted a cohesive policy there were few positive signs to be seen in the region Ms. Elhag concluded. Even outside Iraq, Christians continued to find themselves excluded from basic social services and had to face ongoing intimidation and violence. There was also a pressing need to hold the Iraqi government accountable for its failure to adequately protect the Iraqi Christian minority." Marwan Ibrahim (AFP) reports Archbishop Louis Sako declared today, "We are the target of a campaign of liquidation, a campaign of violence. The objective is political. . . . We have heard many words from Prime Minister Maliki, but unfortunately this has not translated into reality. We continue to be targeted. We want solutions, not promises." So, to toss back to Dana Perino, no, "that" was not "resolved."
Dana Priest (Washington Post) was online at her paper yesterday afternoon for a discussion with readers and the topic of the National Intelligence Estimate  was raised. Priest: "The jist of the NIE has been known for a while, since all the reporting that the Washington Post and other major news organizations have been doing over the past year says, basically, the same thing. In this sense, the NIE does not offer a big revelation; it just brings the series of daily intel/military analysis on Afghanistan to a higher level with more visibility. Unlike the days before the Iraq war, many people have access to what's happening in afghanistan and are willing to share it with reporters, in part because they are frustrated it's not getting more attention and they believe it should if, as we have said since 9-11, defeating terrorism is a priority." Wednesday Jonathan S. Landay, Warren P. Strobel and Nancy A. Youssef (McClatchy Newspapers) reported on the upcoming National Intelligence Estimate (which may or may not be released prior to the US elections in November), "The draft NIE, however, warns that the improvements in security and political progress, like the recent passage of a provincial election law, are threatened by lingering disputes between the majority Shiite Arabs, Sunni Arabs, Kurds and other minorities, the U.S. officials said. Sources of tension identified by the NIE, they said, include a struggle between Sunni Arabs, Kurds and Turkmen for control of the oil-rich northern city of Kirkuk; and the Shiite-led central government's unfulfilled vows to hire former Sunni insurgents who joined Awakening groups." At the White House yesterday Dana Perino noted that US Secretary of State Condi Rice has not read the report. Not a slam at Condi, just noting that the report is under wraps. Rice noted she hadn't read it in brief remarks to the press before meeting with Maris Reikstins (Lativian Foreign Affairs Minister) in DC, "Well, in fact, I have actually not seen the NIE. I will -- I assume that we'll be briefed on it shortly. But in any case, we had asked for the intelligence community to take a look. It's important that it do so." The issue of the NIE was raised at Thursday's State Dept press briefing conducted by Sean McCormack who noted, "She [Rice] has not yet seen it, and I don't believe any of the policy makers in the State Department have seen any drafts of this assessment. I would expect at some point that they will be briefed on it."
As noted in yesterday's snapshot, Iraqi MP Saleh al-Auaeili was assassinated yesterday. al-Auqaeili had been one of the 30 member Sadr bloc in Parliament. Tensions are high over the assassination and Jeffrey Fleishman (Los Angeles Times) reports overnight fighting in the Sadr City section of Baghdad between, on one side, Sadr supporters and, on the other, Iraqi and US forces. Fleishman also notes that Ahmed Massoudi ("a Sadr spokesman") states, "The occupation sent us a message by staging this attack [the assassination] because of our stance against the agreement." Sam Dagher (New York Times) quotes Sheik Salah al-Obeidi (Moqtada al-"Sadr's chief spokesman") stating, "By killing Ugaili they are silencing a major opponent of the agreement" -- which would be the treaty the White House and the puppet of the occupation want to pretend is a SOFA. Sheik al-Obeidi ties the assassination in with other pressure to push on the treaty including US Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte's visit to Iraq this week and he also notes that a demonstration will take place October 18th in Baghdad "against the American presence in Iraq." Ernesto London (Washington Post) quoted MP Ahmad al-Massoudi stating, "We have laid the blame on the occupation forces and the Iraqi government for the martyrdom of [the lawmaker] because the explosion happened in an area that is under the control of" the US military (the Green Zone). Marwa Sabah (AFP) reports that the "[m]ourners shouted anti-American slogans . . . as relatives hugged each other and wept while the wooden coffin of Ogayly was brought out of his home early on Friday draped in the tri-colour Iraqi flag." Khaled Farhan (Reuters) notes a statement released by Moqtada al-Sadr: "The martyr gave most of his time to eject the occupiers. . . . And for this reason the hand of the hateful occupation and terrorism killed him." Leila Fadel (McClatchy Newspapers) explains that observers (US and Iraqi) are noting a shift from acts of violence targeting mass numbers of people to assassination attempts "using magnetic bombs, weapons with silencers and bicycle bombs. As provinicial elections approach, some officials worry that assassinations will increase as political parties try to eradicate their competitors." Leila Fadel (McClatchy) quotes the statement by al-Sadr reading, "Here is another star that brightens in the sky of martyrs, of Sadr followers and the sons of Iraq. Another martyr waters the land of Iraq with his blood, a martyr that sacrifices himself for the sake of Iraq and the people of Iraq, a martyr that gave all of his time to expel the occupier and not to sign agreements with him."
Tensions in Baghdad also include the ongoing conflict between northern Iraq and Turkey. Hurriyet notes reports coming out stating that Turkey will be "direct talks with the regional administration in the northern Iraq in its fight against the terror organization, PKK". CNN notes that Turkey bombed northern Iraq again today. Reuters provides the catch-up for the latest tensions, "Turkey's parliament on Wednesday approved a government request to extend for another year a mandate to launch military operations against PKK rebels based in northern Iraq from where they are suspected of crossing into Turkey to attack soldiers. Turkish authorities are under mounting pressure after a series of deadly attacks on Turkish security forces and police, which has left more than 20 dead in recent days." Meanwhile the Turkish Daily News offers this observation, "It looks like the [Turkish] government will not bow to pressure from the opposition which calls for a ground incursion to Iraq as well as setting up a security zone in the border." At the US State Dept today, spokesperson Sean McCormack was asked about Prime Minister Tayyip Recep Erdogan's statements regarding " a buffer zone in northern Iraq" to prevent attacks by the PKK on Turkey and McCormack replied, "We are working with the Turkish and Iraqi governments on a common problem, and that is the threat of terrorism from the PKK." An October 17th vote for a non-permantnet seat on the United Nations' Security Council will be held and that Turkey is a candidate for that seat. Asso Ahmed (Los Angeles Times) quotes PKK "senior leader" Bozan Takeen declaring in a phone interview "from his hideout in Iraqi Kurdistan," "We are ready and our forces are ready. We are not afraid of them. If they want to attack Iraq's Kurdistan, then the Middle East will turn into a fire ball."
Meanwhile Wednesday, in the Green Zone, US Maj Gen Jeffery Hammond declared:
Now, take for example, the transition or transfer of the Sons of Iraq to Government of Iraq control. Now, we have two phases to this plan. The first one is the transfer of the Sons of Iraq to the, to the Government of Iraq control, which will include the assumption and the payment of their salaries starting this month in October. We're working very closely with our Iraqi counterparts to make sure this works. The Government of Iraq has committed to accept responsibility for the Sons of Iraq and it's been mandated in the Prime Minister Order No. 118‑C, and we're going to be there to assist in the transfer. We spent the last few weeks working hand in hand with the Iraqi Security Forces, the IFCNR, our Iraqi partners and I'm confident ‑‑ I'm confident this is going to go well. But again, effective this month, the Government of Iraq will start paying the salaries for the Sons of Iraq.
Actually . . . Anwar J. Ali, Sam Dagher, Stephen Farrell, Erica Goode and Alissa J. Rubin (New York Times) report on the tensions brewing among the "Awakeing"s including graffiti appearing that is "the motto of a feared paramilitary unit during Saddam Hussein's era": "Allah. Homeland. Salary" -- which "Awakening" Sgt. Alaa al-Janabi ("Dora Awakening") states is "our slogan." al-Janabi goes on to cite that the Iraqi government is not paying them enough money to live on and offer "We're not going to fight again. Unless they make us." Saleh al-Jubori ("a leader of the Awakening Council in Dora") states that "there is no trust between us and the National Police" and, "if the Awakening is let go, Dora will go back to worse than it was before. I hope you don't consider this a threat." And staying with the topic of "worse," Robert Fisk (Independent of London) reports "that secret executions are being carried out in the prisons run by Nouri al-Maliki's 'democratic' government. The hangings are carried out regularly -- from a wooden gallows in a small, cramped cell -- in Saddam Hussein's old intelligence headquarters at Kazimiyah. There is no public record of these killings in what is now called Baghdad's 'high-security detention facility' but most of the victims -- there have been hundreds since America introduced 'democracy' to Iraq -- are said to be insurgents, given the same summary justice they mete out to their own captives."
Staying with violence, Reuters notes that 28-year-old journalist Diyar Abbas was shot dead in Kirkuk today joining "at least 135 journalists [who] have been killed in the line of duty since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003." Tuesday the Committee to Protect Journalists featured Robert Mahoney's report on 27-year-old Iraqi journalist Jehad Abdulwahid Hannoon who had surived a shooting in Baghdad and, with help from the international journalism community (including CBS News' Lara Logan), was able to come to the US where he had "successful surgery in a California hospital to repair his bullet-shattered right leg." CPJ notes "135 journalists and 50 support workers" have died in Iraq. Here, we say 185 journalists. "Support workers" are doing a great deal more than that classification implies. So Diyar Abbass becomes at least the 186th journalist to die in Iraq.
In some of today's other reported violence . . .
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing that claimed 2 lives and left twelve wounded, a Baghdad car bombing claimed 12 lives with twenty-two more wounded, a Mosul roadside bombing that claimed 2 lives and left fourteen wounded. On the Mosul roadside bombing, China's Xinhua cites a police source who explains, "A roadside bomb detonated in the afternoon at a popular marketplace in the Bab al-Tob neighborhood".
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 1 corpse discovered in Baghdad.
In legal news, mercenaries in Iraq got a setback today. Matthew Barakat (AP) reports that KBR contractor Ira L. Waltrip -- caught with child pornography -- was informed by US District Judge T.S. Ellis III that he wasn't any getting any special breaks and that the argument that Waltrip was doing the same duties soldiers do so should be punished the same way one of them would have been was bunk. The Judge informed Waltrip's attorney that, "He wasn't there because he volunteered. He was there to get some money."
Public TV notes. NOW on PBS examines the American Dream as gas prices soar and home values crumble. PBS' Washington Week finds Gwen sitting down with Washington Post's Dan Balz, National Journal's James Barnes, Wall St. Journal's David Wessel and mystery guest Karen Tumulty (Time magazine) who may or may not do her Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte impersonation. Both programs air tonight in some PBS markets, check local listings.
Turning to the US presidential race, Cynthia McKinney is the Green Party presidential candidate and Rosa Clemente is her running mate. Rosa has the following upcoming campaign event this weekend in New York:
Jericho 10th Anniversary Weekend of Resistance
Saturday, October 11, 2008 @ 12 Noon
Rally at the Harlem State Office Building
(Corner of 126th St. & A.C. Powell Blvd.)
March through Harlem @ 1 p.m.
Closing Rally in Morningside Park @ 2 p.m.
Between 112th & 114th near Morningside Ave. entrances
Ralph Nader is the independent presidential candidate and Sunday he will be Fairfax, VA to speak at a press conference and rally at Geroge Mason Univeristy beginning at 5:00 p.m.
Barack Obama is the Democratic presidential candidate, Joe Biden is his running mate. As Wally and Cedric noted yesterday, Barack seemed to offer some sort of Born Free/Elsa excuse for his friendship with Ayers whom he called "rehabilitated." Jake Tapper (ABC News) ponders rehabilitation:
And Ayers has made it clear that he is unrepentant.
''I don't regret setting bombs,'' Ayers told the New York Times in 2001. ''I feel we didn't do enough.'' Asked if he would do it all again, Ayers said ''I don't want to discount the possibility. I don't think you can understand a single thing we did without understanding the violence of the Vietnam War."
In a comic strip that Ayers recently posted on his blog, Ayers tried to explain the "we didn't do enough quote" from seven years ago, writing, "It's impossible to get to be my age and not have plenty of regrets. The one thing I don't regret is opposing the war in Vietnam with every ounce of my being. During the Vietnam War, the Weather Underground took credit for bombing several government installations as a dramatic form of armed propaganda. Action was taken against symbolic targets in order to declare a state of emergency. But warnings were always called in, and by design no one was ever hurt.
"When I say, 'We didn't do enough,' a lot of people rush to think, 'That must mean, "We didn't bomb enough s---."' But that's not the point at all. It's not a tactical statement, it's an obvious political and ethical statement. In this context, 'we' means 'everyone.' The war in Vietnam was not only illegal, it was profoundly immoral, millions of people were needlessly killed. Even though I worked hard to end the war, I feel to this day that I didn't do enough because the war dragged on for years after the majority of the American people came to oppose it. I don't think violent resistance is necessarily the answer, but I do think opposition and refusal is imperative."
(He doesn't think violent resistance is NECESSARILY the answer?)
So today, with today's facts, does Obama think Ayers has been "rehabilitated"?
No, he doesn't think so, a source at the campaign tells me.
Mike did a press roundup on Barack's Ayers stories last night, Kat called out AP's Philip Elliott who does not seem to grasp the number of "40," Ruth contemplated the press mistakes, Rebecca noted the lack of standards and Marcia congratulates Oklahoma community members (as have Kat, as did Elaine and Mike). Oklahoma community members are supporting the Republican ticket of John McCain and Sarah Palin.
ANNCR: Obama's blind ambition.
When convenient, he worked with terrorist Bill Ayers.
When discovered, he lied.
Obama. Blind ambition. Bad judgment.
Congressional liberals fought for risky sub-prime loans.
Congressional liberals fought against more regulation.
Then, the housing market collapsed costing you billions.
In crisis, we need leadership, not bad judgment.
JOHN MCCAIN: I'm John McCain and I approve this message.
In addition, the Republican ticket notes:
Today McCain-Palin 2008 announced that Bill Bruins, a dairy farmer from Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin, joined the McCain-Palin Farm & Ranch Team National Steering Committee. Bruins joins a distinguished team of elected officials and leaders in agriculture who share a common goal with John McCain: to provide the leadership necessary to create prosperity in America's rural heartland.
More details on John McCain's statement on "Prosperity for Rural America" can be found on the McCain-Palin 2008 web site at rural.JohnMcCain.com.
MCCAIN-PALIN 2008 FARM & RANCH TEAM NATIONAL STEERING COMMITTEE*
And finally, Team Nader notes:
This morning, as markets around the world are crashing, Nader/Gonzalez is on the rise.
We have a chance over the next week to run inexpensive radio ads.
In battleground states all across this country.
To expose The Bailout Boys -- Obama and McCain.
And to let the American people know that on November 4, they have a choice.
The people's candidate -- Independent Ralph Nader.
The man who stood against the bailout of Wall Street crooks.
And for regulation that would have prevented the current crisis.
Here's the problem:
We want to run the radio ads from October 21 to Election Day -- November 4.
In thirty markets all across this country.
Our radio guy tells us he needs the money by Monday to be able to reserve air time for the last two weeks before the election.
Throughout this year, when we have asked, you have delivered.
Thanks to you, we have not missed one fundraising deadline this year.
Now, we are in a corner.
Over the past week, you have donated $130,000 to our October Surprise Fund.
On our way to our goal of $250,000 by Sunday midnight.
Now, to reach our goal, we need 12,000 of you -- our loyal supporters -- to kick in $10 each.
We know that many of you have dug deep for the past seven months.
So, after you hit that contribute button, pick up the phone and get your friends, relatives, neighbors -- who are angry about the bailout and looking for an independent outlet -- to support the one candidate who has stood with the American people against the corporate criminal elite on Wall street.
To give you a sneak preview, we have cut a demo tape.
If we reach our goal by Sunday night, we will be professionally producing a version of this demo ad and getting it out to our radio guy in Los Angeles.
As the Dow collapses, the Nader/Gonzalez shift the power platform is on the rise.
So, donate now -- whatever you can afford -- $10, $100, $1000 -- up to the legal limit of $2,300.
Help us fund our nationwide radio ad buy.
Inform the American public.
There is a choice on November 4.
Vote Ralph Nader for President.
Onward to November.
The Nader Team