Monday, October 20, 2008

Iraq snapshot

Monday, October 20, 2008.  Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces another death, the treaty hits a snag, Ralph Nader goes on NBC Nightly News this evening, and more.
The targeting of Iraqi Christians continues and today the Los Angeles Times becomes the first major daily to strongly call it out noting that over 1300 Iraqi Christians have been displaced from Mosul as a result of the attacks: "But that is only the latest exodus of Christians from Mosul, which served as a refuge for those driven out of Baghdad, and from Iraq as a whole.  A Chaldean Catholic archbishop has warned that Christians in his country face 'liquidation.'  In opposing the invasion of Iraq, the late Pope John Paul II was motivated primarily by a concern about the carnage on all sides that a war would produce; but he also had reason to worry about the fate of Iraqi Christians once Saddam Hussein was deposed.  Despite his crimes, Hussein offered protection for Christians against militant Muslims.  The religious cleansing of Christians in Iraq is part of a larger pattern in which a faith with origins in the Middle East is being driven out of its native region."  NPR's Corey Flintoff (Weekend Edition) reported on "the climate fear" for the refugees who've been displaced and among the refugees she interviewed was a woman with a young child who explained, "Mosul is a very dangerous city.  I can hardly describe the condition there. . . .  He [her son] is always afriad, even when he goes to school, he is very afraid."  Missy Ryan (Reuters) reported yesterday on how the US commanders continue to insist the Iraqi Christians are being targeted by al Qaeda in Iraq while "other U.S. officials are less certain whom to blame, and describe a host of potentially destabilizing forces at play in a tense region ruled by a weak, minority provincial government."  Ryan speaks with a man who fled with his wife and two daughters and told her, "The explosions continue.  There is no safety."  At this point, no one knows who is responsible and the central government in Baghdad has publicly scoffed at the idea that it is al Qaeda in Iraq.  Today IRIN explores some of the possibilities and spoke with a priest who offered, "We have been targeted since 2003 by extremists but I can't explain the latest events which I believe are politically-motivated."  IRIN reminds, "Parliament recently abolished the quota system in future local council elections in six of Iraq's 18 provinces, meaning that these local bodies will not be able to have specially reserved seats for ethnic and religious minorities. The reason for the decision was the lack of census data on the numbers of Christians, Yazidis and followers of other religions in specific areas."  That's referring to Article 50 which guaranteed religious minorities representation but was removed when the Iraqi Parliament passed their bill for provincial elections.
Sunday  Naharnet Newsdesk reported that Lebanon's Prime Minister Fouad Saniora expressed over the phone to Iraqi President Jalal Talabania, "The Lebanese people back all efforts exerted by the Iraqi government to safeguard the social fabric of the state of Iraq. Christians in Iraq, as in any other Arab state, are an integral component of the national fabric." Also yesterday, AP noted a demonstration in support of Iraqi Christians in Kirkuk today that had a turnout of at least 200 demonstrators (carrying banners such as the one that read "Stop the genocide against Christians") and "was organized by Kurdish groups". AP puts the number of Iraqi Christians who have fled Mosul in the last two weeks at 10,000. Today Naharnet Newsdesk explained that the Lebanese Forces Party "pleaded with Iraqi officials to adopt speedy measures capable of halting crimes committed against Christians".
On the SOFA masquerading as a treaty, Friday's snapshot included, " Karen DeYoung (Washington Post) reminds that what's being talked about now is a draft and explains the process for Iraq: "presented today to Iraq's political and national security council, which is made up of top government officials and the leaders of major political groups.  If it survives challenges there and among other government ministers, it will move to the Council of Representatives, or parliament, where Maliki has pledged to put it to an up-or-down vote.  Far less controversial matters have taken months to move through the Iraqi legislative provess, if they moved at all." DeYoung also noted that the 2011 'withdrawal' of US forces is "aspirational."  Would that all who followed over the weekend could have grasped and mastered the facts as well.  But of course, some could not.  Moving to the more reliable reporting, "No, No, to America! No, No, to the devil!" Al Jazeera reports protestors chanted in Baghdad Saturday in a demonstration against the proposed treaty between the White House and puppet of the occupation, Nouri al-Maliki. The protesters were followers of Moqtada al-Sadr and they want the US out of their country now and they want the treaty rejected. A message from al-Sadr read to the crowd also called for the treaty to be rejected.  Iraqi analyst Abudllhay Yahya Zalloum explained that there was also Christian and Sunni opposition to the "so-called security pact" with a declartion from Sunnis "that it is against Islam to have any security pact with the United States" and "We have to realise that, firstly, the United States came uninvited and, secondly, this so-called draft has been negotiated while 150,000 American troops plus contractors, 50,000 of them at least, are still in Iraq. Thirdly, it is a government that was actually chosen by the Americans, therefore when you have a country under occupation with pseudo-indepence, you don't expect that the terms would be to the best interests of Iraq."  Hussein Kadhim and Corinne Reilly (McClatchy Newspapers) quoted chants of "No, no to the occupier" at the demonstration and quoted Shi'ite Jabar Kareem stating, "We want the occupier to leave without conditions.  All Iraqi people reject this treaty."
The public demonstrations weren't the only objections.  Alissa J. Rubin (New York Times) explained Sunday that, "Quietly, some parliamentary leaders suggested that they, too, were not comfortable with the agreement even though some of them had been involved in negotiating it.  At a Friday night meeting with the leaders of the political blocs in Parliament, there were no clear statements of support except from the Kurds, who strongly backed the pact."   Peter Graff and Mariam Karouny (Reuters) reported that the first attempt at consolidated support on Sunday failed with only support from the Kurdish faction. When that happened, though it's not pointed out in the bulk of the coverage, that meant even al-Maliki's own Shi'ite backers were not supporting the treaty.  One of the sticky points was over US immunity which the Shi'ites raised.  How serious was the upset? Gemma Daley (Bloomberg News) reported Nouri al-Maliki's planned and announced trip to Australia Tuesday has now been placed on hold.  Alissa J. Rubin and Suadad al-Salhy (New York Times) explain today that Nouri al-Maliki's adviser Sami al-Askeri "said that two provisions particularly worried the Iraqis.  The first is an option that would allow the Iraqi government to extend the American presence beyond 2011 if the government decided it wanted the soldiers to stay.  The Iraqis woory that the Americans might press a new Iraqi government to extend the American presence.  The second is a provision setting up a committee that would review suspected crimes of soldiers and determine if they should be referred to Iraqi courts."  Because the Post got it right last week about the 'withdrawal date' being "aspirational," they don't have to play catch up today and instead Mary Beth Sheridan and Ernesto Londono explain, "The change sought by the influential United Iraqi Alliance would harden the withdrawal date for U.S. troops.  A draft bilateral agreement completed this week would require American forces to leave by December 2011 but would allow for an extension by mutual agreement."  Ned Parker and Saif Hameed (Los Angeles Times) do their best to track the 'process' (the process is meandering away from what it's supposed to be), "Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki had emphasized that the agreement should be debated by the Political Council for National Security before being sent to the Cabinet for approval. The council met Sunday night, but the meeting ended with neither the main Shiite Muslim nor Sunni Arab factions endorsing the pact.  Nonetheless, it was decided that discussions would begin Tuesday before the country's Cabinet, the final stop before a vote in parliament. Further muddying the waters, one senior official, Nasser Ani, the chief of staff of Iraq's presidency council, said the council would continue to review the text."  As for the immunity clause, CNN interprets it: "U.S. troops or contractors who commit "major and premeditated murders" in Iraq while off-duty and outside U.S. facilities would fall under Iraqi jurisdiction, according to a copy of a draft U.S.-Iraq agreement obtained by CNN. All other crimes -- including murders committed inside U.S. facilities or by on-duty forces -- would fall under American jurisdiction, according to the draft, which would govern U.S. troops' presence in Iraq."
Turning to some of today's reported violence . . .
Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing that claimed 1 life and left seven wounded while two others wounded six people, a Diyala Province roadside bombing that claimed 1 life and a Mosul roadside bombing that wounded six family members.
Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 1 civilian shot dead by Iraqi police in Diyala Province, 3 "gunmen" shot dead by police in Diyala, 2 suspected members of al Qaeda shot dead in Diyala, 1 "member of the Kurdistan Democratic Party" shot dead in Mosul and 1 police officer shot dead in Mosul.
Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 1 corpse discovered in Baghdad and 1 corpse discovered in Diyala Province.
Aws Qusay (Reuters) notes, "A U.S. marine died in a non-combat related incident at the al Asad base in the western province of Anbar, the military said in a statement without giving further details on the incident."  The announcement brings to 4186 the number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war.
Turning to the US race for president. Barck Obama is the Democratic presidential candidate.  Sarah Palin is the Republican presidential candidate.  Mark Mooney (ABC News) belongs to the Eternal Clueless (he's not lying, he just doesn't know better): "The ABC News/Washington Post poll found that the constant barrage of attacks is hurting McCain, particularly when he targeted Obama's relationship with William Ayers, a founder of the 1960s radical anti-war group the Weather Underground."  No, that's not what the poll is showing.   The William Ayers issue?  Mooney doesn't even grasp it.  "Anti-war"?   Thai Jones, A Radical Line: From the Labor Movement to the Weather Underground, One Family's Century of Conscience, pp. 215:
He had an explicit political goal, and a congressional report described it accurately when it referred to Weatherman's "intention to build a small, tough, paramilitary organization designed to carry out urban guerilla warfare to bring about the revolution."
Thai Jones (who wrote an amazing book) is not attacking Weather (he is not anti-Weather), he's noting reality -- in the book he's telling his family story -- his parents are Weather members Eleanor Stein and Jeff Jones.  In 2005, he told Shaina Fineberg (The Brooklyn Rail), "But the Weather Underground are despised by the right and the liberal left.  They were seen as a slap in the face to the mainstream left.  They were the far left group on the spectrum.  They were openly dismissive of people whose commitment level was not the same as theirs.  They felt that if you're not going to die for the cause, you're just wasiting your time.  They were very combative: Going to peace marches and pulling anti-war signs from grandmother's hands.  But it is important to remember that the Weather Underground is just one of thousands of groups.  Their PR maching was better -- so people remember them still."  But their goal was not ending the illegal war.  That had been a goal in SDS and in the early days of Weatherman.  Weather Underground saw itself as bringing about and leading an armed class struggle in the United States which would result in many deaths and this is where Bernardine Dorhn (leader of Weather) first begins referring to herself with the phrase "oven Jew."  The 'left' today is so eager to elect to Barack (enshrine?) that they allow Weather to be distorted yet again.  Sadly, we have no left historians -- despite various pretenders to the role -- who will step up and correct the falsehoods.   Michael Falcone (New York Times) notes the Christian Broadcasting Network's interview with Palin to air on the 700 Club tomorrow.  We'll note this section (CBN link has text and video) which is Palin responding to David Brody's question of whether she'd hesitate to use "palling around with terrorists" again to describe Barack and Bill Ayers: "No I would say it again, I would say it again because again it, it, according to the information that we have, the association that he's had with Bill Ayers wasn't just one or two time sitting on a board together where, No, there's been quite a few associations and events and meetings and discussion and emails and calls and to not disavow that too, I think is troubling."  As for McCain being 'hurt' by any of this -- what is this load of crap?  Every other day Barack's King, God and Lord Supreme.  If McCain's hurting himself as badly as the press keeps insisting, why is the race still a dead-heat?  Why can't the Christ-child pull it out in this alleged year for any Democrat?  Whether it's Ayers or Palin, it hasn't hurt McCain in the least and has provided very real excitement for his campaign.  And it's why Catty Barack can't stop sniping at Sarah Palin such as here: "And you know, you really have to work hard to violate Governor Palin's standards on negative campaigning. You gotta work hard."  Palin does know about working hard.  Barack?  It's hard work to keep those nails so spiffy.  Say Anything Barack is caught by Jake Tapper and Sunlen Miller (ABC News Political Punch) in Tampa telling the Rays he's backing them ("I was going to cut my hair in a Mohawk in solidarity, but my political advisors said they weren't sure how that was going to play with swing voters.") while "earlier this month in Philadelphia -- in another battleground state, Pennsylvania -- he said that since 'my White Sox are gone . . . I'll go ahead and root for the Phillies now'."
While Barack roots for anyone who will vote for him, Colin "The Blot" Powell always sets his own end up so be very scared when the man who lied to sell the illegal war endorses Barack Obama's run for the presidency. No word on whether or not other War Criminals, past or present, will come forward to make endorsements.  But Powell made his endorsement on NBC's Meet The Press yesterday -- link has video. For transcript of the segment, you have to go to CNN ("Reporter" in the CNN transcript is Tom Brokaw).  Collie Powell declared of his Iraq War Crimes, "I'm well aware of the role I played. My role has been very, very straightforward. I wanted to avoid a war. The president agreed with me. We tried to do that. We couldn't get it through the U.N. and when the president made the decision, I supported that decision. And I've never blinked from that. I've never said I didn't support a decision to go to war."  Huh?  Let's go back to 20/20 on ABC Sept. 9, 2005 where Barbara Walters reminded Collie, "However, you gave the world false, groundless reasons for going to war.  You've said, and I quote, 'I will forever be known as the one who made the case for war.'  Do you think this blot on your record will stay with you for the rest of your life?"
Powell: Well it's a, it's a, of course it will. It's a blot. I'm the one who presented it on behalf of the United Nations, uh, United States, to the world. And it will always be uh, part of my, uh, my record. 
Walters: How painful is it?  
Powell: (shrugs) It was -- it was painful. (shifts, shrugs) It's painful now.  
Apparently it was a temporary pain because he's all over it and back to lying again.  He claimed  on NBC yesterday that his rol in the Iraq War was "very, very straightforward. I wanted to avoid a war."  LIAR.  Damn and damnable LIAR.  Collie wanted to get a little sympathy three years ago and try to save his image so he pretended he was haunted by his lies to the UN (if nothing else).  Yesterday, he's back to singing his own praises and 'goodness.'  It was a sort of 24-hour-viral, mini-mea-culpa.  Joe Mowrey (Dissident Voice) provides more 'great' moments in Collie Powell history:
Powell is the guy who, as a bright young 31 year old Army Major, did his level best to keep information about the My Lai Massacre in Vietnam from becoming public. Specifically, he was charged with investigating a letter from a whistle-blowing soldier giving detailed accounts of many of the atrocities committed by U.S. military personnel in Vietnam under the auspices of the Phoenix Program. That program was a lovely little package of war crimes intended to "identify and neutralize (via infiltration, capture, or murder) the civilian infrastructure supporting the National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam (the Viet Cong)." In other words, it was a U.S. and South Vietnamese death squad operation which rampaged through the country side slaughtering civilians and burning down entire villages. You know, capturing the hearts and minds of the Vietnamese people. Powell summed up his investigation of the whistle-blower's accusations by saying, "In direct refutation of this portrayal is the fact that relations between American soldiers and the Vietnamese people are excellent."   
Well that's enough for me. If Powell endorsed the rousing success of the Phoenix Program, what more do we need to know? Queried about his participation in the attempted white wash of My Lai, some 40 years later Powell said, "I mean, I was in a unit that was responsible for My Lai. I got there after My Lai happened. So, in war, these sorts of horrible things happen every now and again..." Personally, I think he sounds really sorry. And he's seems to be bashing Republicans these days, so I like him a lot.
[. . .]
And while we're at it, let's catalog of few of Barack Obama's progressive qualifications to be next President of the United States of Imperialism. Well first, there's his adamant condemnation of the war in Iraq. Why, he was against it from the very start. Of course, that hasn't prevented him from voting continually to fund the Occupation. But hey, he has to get elected before he can implement all his wonderful changey policies, right? You know, like maintaining a presence of 50,000 to 80,000 troops in Iraq, along with a dozen or so permanent military bases and the world's largest foreign embassy. Then there is his pledge to escalate the "good war" in Afghanistan. We've only killed about 10,000 or so innocent civilians there in the last few years. I won't feel safe until we can push those numbers much higher. And Pakistan? Sending robot drones out to drop bombs on people is my kind of progressive war. Obama has assured us he'll continue that policy and actually increase the number of illegal violations of that country's sovereignty. Right on.
Scott Conroy (CBS News) reports Governor Palin is currently the most accessible to the traveling press, "In the past two days alone, Palin has answered questions from her national press corps on three separate occasions. On Saturday, she held another plane availability, and on Sunday, she offered an impromptu press conference on the tarmac upon landing in Colorado Springs. A few minutes later, she answered even more questions from reporters during an off-the-record stop at a local ice cream shop. By contrast, Biden hasn't held a press conference in more than a month, and Obama hasn't taken questions from his full traveling press corps since the end of September. John McCain--who spent most of the primary season holding what seemed like one, never-ending media availability--hasn't done one since Sept. 23."  Meanwhile Ruben Navarrette Jr. (Pajamas Media) observes of the current climate between the two major parties, "It seems like just yesterday that the party of Franklin D. Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy was talking about income equality and civil rights and worker protections and going to bat for the little guy, the blue collar laborer, the everyday Joe the Plumber.  Now, the well-to-do elites who run the Democratic Party -- and their surrogates -- greet these people with brickbats. They insult them, talk down to them, and even try to destroy them. Isn't that the sort of war on the working class that Democrats are always accusing those greedy and heartless Republicans of waging?"  Navarette is now with the San Diego Union Tribune and has been with many other papers (including the Dallas Morning News).  A friend asked for that link and reminds that Ava and I were supposed to cover a documentary that Navarette appeared in.  We haven't forgotten and we'll attempt to do so on Sunday.
Green Party presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney will appear Wednesday October 22nd on NPR's Talk of the Nation and Saturday October 25 on NPR's Weekend Edition SaturdayThe Indigenist Intelligence Review explains of Cynthia:
She sees tribal sovereignty, treaty obligations, and religious and cultural preservation as intertwined. The U.S. government has "selective amnesia" and never intended to honor the treaties, but it is obligated to do so without question, McKinney said, and also to adequately fund programs for the betterment of American Indians and affirm their religious rights. 
"How can a people survive, let alone thrive, absent their religion, spirituality, culture, language and sense of place? I support and strongly encourage religious and cultural preservation in Indian country and urge protection of sacred sites, whichever side of the map boundary they fall upon." 
On IHS funding, McKinney said that the Green Party's call for universal single-payer health care would provide medical, mental and dental benefits to everyone within the United States, including Native women and veterans. She also embraces traditional indigenous medicine and healing. 
"Health care needs to be treated as a human right and removed from the economic gaming field. Until such time as indigenous peoples are covered under such a policy, we Greens support generous IHS funding, including recognition of both Western and non-Western methods of healing. Western medicine deals quite well with trauma, but has much to learn from 'energetic/spiritual' traditional methods recognizing the implicit agreement between seen and unseen aspects of reality." 
McKinney said that the rampant substance abuse on reservations is part and parcel of a legacy of oppression and dispossession. 
"It offers the hollow promise of filling the void left by cultural obliteration. The sacred has been replaced by the profane. 'Treaty' dictates have enforced a substantial and abrupt end to traditional lifeways. For all of these reasons, it is incumbent upon the U.S. government to support IHS."
Ralph Nader is in the independent presidential candidate.  His running mate is Matt Gonzalez.  Team Nader's Toby Heaps explains how much easier it is to book Ralph on British television than on American airwaves:
Nightline vs BBC: No wonder Ted Koppel voted with his feet  
Ralph is going to be on BBC's version of Nightline, which now employs Ted Koppel. Ralph said the international media were showing up the US media. So I tried booking him on Nightline again and a senior producer at the show said 'no thanks.'  
I asked him if he had covered the main two candidates. He said 'yes.'  
I asked why he didn't cover the guy polling in third place. He smugly said: 'We tend to profile the people who have the greatest chance of winning.'  
I asked him if he felt there might be a catch-22. He said with a chuckle, 'You think he would win if we put him on the program.'  
I can see why Ted Koppel moved over to BBC.  
Ralph Nader is at 5 percent in The Show Me State -- Missouri.
And he's moving on up.
That's according to the most recent CNN/Time Missouri poll.
The poll shows Nader at 5 percent last week, up from 3 percent at the end of September.
We believe that this shows that with just a little bit of visibility -- we have an active Nader/Gonzalez group in Missouri -- Ralph will move up in the polls.
That's why we're encouraging all of our supporters in Missouri and around the country to buy and wear -- during the last days of the campaign -- our hot selling heavy duty 100 percent cotton Nader '08 Buffalo T-Shirts (men's or women's).
(Pictured here -- Nader/Gonzalez road warrior Matt Zawisky and the Obama Girl, both wearing Nader 08 Buffalo T-Shirts in front of our favorite mascot in downtown DC last month.)
We sold out of our first stash of 600 in less than 24 hours this weekend.
So we ordered another 1,000.
And in less than 12 hours, we've sold over 250.
There are only 750 left.
At our current sale rate, we'll be sold out by Thursday night.
So if you don't have one yet, buy one now (men's or women's), before it's too late.
And wear it with pride.
At $30 a shirt (men's or women's), it's a deal.
If you have one already, buy one for a friend, relative or colleague (man or woman).
In case you haven't heard yet, Ralph will be profiled on the NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams tonight.
Hope you get a chance to watch.
We're firing on all cylinders.
Mainstream media.
On the ground get out the vote drive.
Nader/Gonzalez videos.
And Nader Buffalo T-Shirt drive.
It's a sprint to the finish line.
Onward to November.

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