Friday, October 24, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, concerns rise regarding Iraqi Christians, the "Awakening" members forgotten?, and more.
Today Mary Beth Sheridan (Washington Post) observes, "But the violence diminished with the creation of 'Awakening' groups, U.S.-paid patrols of mostly Sunni fighters who broke with insurgents and allied with U.S. forces." 'Awakening' members are Sunni thugs put on the US payroll in order to stop the attacks on the US. It's the "fork over your lunch money" strategy playground 'strategy' as US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker and Gen David Petraeus made clear in their testimonies to Congress in April. For some US currency, the attacks would stop and the US would step out of the way and let the "Awakening" take over various regions providing 'security' which struck many residents as a reign of terror. October 1st, the puppet government in Iraq was supposed to take over nearly half the "Awakening" members (but even that portion remains on the US payroll). Nouri al-Maliki has never trusted the "Awakenings" and has staffed his ministries with his own Shi'ite thugs. Petraeus has repeatedly praised the "Awakenings" as providing security to Iraq. Where do things stand now? Earlier in the week, Surdarsan Raghavan (Washington Post) reported on the issue and noted it "is already touching off new conflicts that could deepen without U.S. military backing for the movement. They have stripped traditional tribal leaders of influence. They have carved up Sunni areas into fiefdoms, imposing their views on law and society and weakening the authority of the Shiite-led central government. Divisions are emerging among the new breed of tribal leaders, even as they are challenging established Sunni religious parties for political dominance." The "Awakening" presence was felt last year after repeated kick start attempts (always hailed as a 'turned corner' by the press) going back to 2005. The pay-offs were one aspect of the counter-insurgency strategies being deployed against Iraqis. Barack Obama, Democratic presidential nominee, supports counter-insurgency and has the bulk of those responsible for the assault on Iraqis on his advisory board (Sarah Sewell, Samantha Power, et al). So it's no surprise that Time quotes him insisting, "The Sunni awakening changed the dynamic in Iraq fundamentally. It could not have occured unless there were some contacts and intermediaries to peel off those who are tribal leaders, regional leaders, Sunni nationalists, from a more radical messianic brand of insurgency." [Note: Time is down for "scheduled maintenance session" -- that web address was given to me over the phone. If it does not work, Google the quote and you will find it.]
Tim King (Salem-News) observes: "At least half of them are being cut loose and Iraq is expected to take over the payments for a little more than half the program. Most members of this group believe they will not see any payments from their now country. Cutting off the payments to the Sons of Iraq is a colossal mistake. The checkpoints operated by the Sons of Iraq are exactly what has brought the peace to Iraq. Ending them is foolish, but we are doing it. These are mostly Sunni Muslims and they had a place in the Shiite government with the Sons of Iraq, but we are allowing one of the war's few success stories to end, and likely have not even begun to see the repercussions that are sure to come." The "Awakening" members fear they will be arrested or worse and on the issue of arrests,
Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reported Monday, "Police arrested three Sahwa members in Mustafa neighborhood in Baquba, according to arrest warrants." (Sahwa and Sons Of Iraq are other names for "Awakening" members.)
Meanwhile the crisis continues for Iraqi Christians. Mark MacKinnon (Globe and Mail) speaks with Father Sabri al-Maqdessy who explains, "Christians have always been targeted by different groups in the Middle East because we are the only people without a tirbal system to protect us or that political power to give us security. The church is weak. The Vatican does not have tanks. . . . Everyone is leaving. If the situation continues the way it is for another 10 years, 20 at most, you won't see any Christians left here." Mission News Network via Crosswalk.com quotes Open Doors USA's president Carl Moeller, "I'm afraid it's actually getting worse. The Christian community continues to be terrorized by extremists and basically are being forced out of homes at gunpoint, children and elderly people being murdered. This is a real crisis. Not just a Christian crisis, but a real humanitarian crisis for the country of Iraq." UN High Comissioner for Refugees spokesperson Ron Redmond addressed the topic in Geneva today:
UNHCR is helping thousands of Iraqi Christians who have fled the northern city of Mosul over the past fortnight, most of them to villages elsewhere in Ninewa province but also about 400 who have crossed into Syria. It is still not clear who is behind the intimidation that caused them to flee. More than 2,200 families, or some 13,000 people, are estimated to have left Mosul by mid-week, mostly to safe areas to the north and east of the city. That is more than half of Mosul's Christian population. They have also fled to the neighboring governorates of Dahuk, Erbil and Kirkuk. Most have been taken in by other Christian families. The displacement now appears to be slowing, according to UNHCR staff in the region. UNHCR Iraq and its partners have delivered aid to at least 1,725 of the displaced families in about 20 ares of northern Iraq. In Syria, meanwhile, UNHCR Representative Laurens Jolles reports that many Christians from Mosul have been systematically targeted and no longer feel safe there. UNHCR will provide support for those Iraqis who seek refuge in neighborhing countries and we very much appreciate that Syria countinues to welcome refugees. Syria already hosts at least 1.2 million Iraqis.
This as Assyrian International News Agency reports that Yonadam Kanna ("leader of the Assyrian Democratic Movement and member of Iraq's parliament") has called for the troops in Mosul to be pulled and new ones to be sent in, "We call for an exchange of the troops who failed to protect the Christians in their areas with new troops who are able to bring security to these areas." And in a new development, AINA reports, "The auxiliary bishop of the Chaldean Church of Babylon in Iraq, His eminence Shlemon Warduni, expressed support on Friday for the establishment of an administrative area for the minorities living in the Nineveh Plain. Speaking to the reporter of the webzine ankawa.com, the high ranking church leader made it clear his church has changed its stand on the administrative unit issue. . . . The Iraqi constitution allows for the establishment of local rule for minorities in areas where they have considerable numbers. The Assyrian Democratic Movement, the political party supported by an overwhelming majority of Assyrians from all church denominations during the last national elections, announced during a 2003 conference in Baghdad it endorses the idea of making the minority dense Nineveh Plain area into an administrative unit according to the Iraqi constitution. Since then, an increasing number of Assyrian representatives from the political and religious sphere have supported the plan."
In some of today's reported violence, Reuters notes a Kut mortar attack that claimed the lives of 3 children (two more wounded). AndReuters notes 1 Iraqi soldier was shot dead outside Tuz Khurmato and wounded two others.
Stopping for the public airwaves (and all listed can be streamed), in public radio news, WBAI Monday features Judy Collins. Collins and Kenny White appear on Janet Coleman and David Dozer's Cat Radio Cafe along with playwright Shem Bitterman. The program airs Monday at 2:00 p.m. EST. Public television? NOW on PBS offers a report on the nursing crisis: "According to a government study, by the year 2020, there could be a nationwide shoratge of up to one million nurses, which could result in substandard treatment for hundreds of thousands of patients. Just as alarming, fewer nurses are choosing to teach the next generation of professionals, resulting in tens of thousands of applicants being turned away from the nation's nursing schools." NOW on PBS begins airing on many PBS stations tonight (check local listings) as does Washington Week which finds Gwen joined by journalists Shailagh Murray (Washington Post), Michael Viqueira (NBC) and David Shribman (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette) and, for the child-at-heart, Gwen also provides two circus clowns on the panel.
Turning to the US race for president. Barack Obama is not a Socialist or a Communist (or a socialist or a communist). He is a Corporate War Hawk. But the confusion is understandable considering all the efforst to prop Baby Barry up throughout the Democratic Party primary by non-Democrats. It's the general election and Barack's just received his latest endorsement from a Socialist or a Communist: Howard Zinn. (Zinn is a Socialist.) Watch him make an ass out of himself via the so-called "Real" News. Mickey Z (Dissident Voice) provides the takedown for that pathetic sort of cowardice: "This strategy of choosing an alleged 'lesser evil' because he/she might be influenced by some mythical 'popular movement' would be naive if put forth by a high school student. Professors [Noam] Chomsky and Zinn know better. If it's incremental change they want, why not encourage their many readers to vote for Ralph Nader or Cynthia McKinney? The classic (read: absurd) reply to that question is: 'Because Nader or McKinney can't win.' Of course they can't win if everyone who claims to agree with them inexplicably votes for Obama instead. Paging Alice: You're wanted down the ______ rabbit hole." And on the subject of Noam Chomsky, let's drop back to 2007 when Panhandle Media was far less concerned with propping up Weather Underground. This is Michael Alpert of ZNet (ZMag) speaking to Amy Goodman in April of 2007:
Michael Albert: One example was, Weatherman was a group that was engaged in activity at the time. It was part of SDS, not a part I was belonged to, but they wanted to recruit me. At a particular moment, I went into Noam's office, and I asked him about it, this recruitment effort by them and whether -- you know, how I should relate. Noam was loath to give people advice about what to do in their life or about strategy.
Amy Goodman: And explain what the Weathermen were.
Michael Albert: The Weathermen were a very -- they were the most militant, most violent wing of SDS. Their analysis was a bit peculiar. I don't think we need to go into details. But in any case, so I asked him about that, and he was very loath to do that, but in this particular case -- we were already pretty close, and he -- you know, he didn't want me to make an error, so he did make a suggestion. And he sort of said very quickly, he said, "They're wonderful people. They're great people. They're moved well. I mean, their motives are good. Some of them are going to die. Some of them are going to hurt others. They're going to have very little effect on the well-being of people around the world because of what they're doing." And in a phrase, right, he captured what was there, and his advice was important. I don't think it was a difinitive in my choice not to join, but it certainly would have been a big factor.
And there's actually a lot more to the above anecdote. (I know Michael, I've heard the anecdote repeately over the years in expanded form.) But Chomsky is warning Albert against the Weathermen. The Weathermen, Chomsky is arguing, is too dangerous. The Weathermen is the group that breaks off from SDS and will become Weather Underground. The Weathermen do the Days of Rage in Chicago (1969).
And let's do a book plug. Paul Street's Barack Obama and the Future of American Politics came out last month and Street's one of the few on the left who has not embarrassed himself in 2008. And here's Street mentioning his book at ZNet: "It shows Obama and his marketers working effectively to create a false left impression among certain targeted voters. As I demonstrate, Obama posed as a left-leaning antiwar and social justice progressive, donning deceptive rebel's clothing in numerous speeches, town hall meetings, and television commericals through much of the primary campaign. He claimed falsely to be a dedicated opponent of American emprie, war and inequality, even going to the sickening point of telling Iowa voters that they could 'join the movement to stop the [Iraq] war' by Caucusing for him. For all his claims to be a nobel reformer 'above the fray' of America's plutocracy and 'ideological' politics, the real Obama excavated in my study is no special exception to -- and is in many ways an epitome of -- what the still-left Christopher Hitchens called (in his 1999 study of the Bill and Hillary Clinton phenomenon) 'the essence of American politics. This essence, when distilled,' Hitchens explained, 'consists of the manipulation of populism by elitism'." If you use the link to the article, you should check out the comments as well (Street's contributing to the comments). But to clarify something for this site: As repeatedly stated here, Barack is not a Socialist. However, as Ava and I noted -- addressing Leela's brave piece of writing:
First, thank you to Dee Dee for finding that post and e-mailing to ask that it be highlighted. Second, read what Leela's saying. We don't agree with her view of Democrats. We do, however, know where's she's coming from on that view. Her view is the sort of thing that can start a conversation. It may never bring feminists into one political party's tent (we don't think that should be a goal of the feminist movement short of a feminist party being started), but conversations can illuminate and increase our understandings.
Leela is obviously upset (first hint, her title), so even though we disagree with her view of the Democratic Party (re: Socialism), we would have first registered that she was upset and then attempted to engage. That didn't really happen on the thread and we'll assume that was due to the anger/ill will her view caused others.
But here's the reality: some people do see the Democratic Party as a Socialist Party. Some people see the Republican Party as an Evangelical Party. Neither belief is accurate but to understand each other, we need to understand where we are all coming from."
That is the reality of perceptions. (And of course alleged brainiac Rachel Maddow doesn't grasp that there is a difference between Socialism and Communism.) For this site, we are a left site and see no Socialism in Barack. But the right insisting Barack's a Socialist are not necessarily lying or even wrong. The terms are largely undefined in discussions today (again, allegedly educated Maddow -- from the center -- expressed on her bad MSNBC show this week that Socialism and Communism were the same thing). Leela is among the women blogging at Citizen Girl, by the way. And the US has a Socialist in Congress, Senator Bernie Sanders. But -- as is usually the case -- 'helpers' and the 'shocked' obscure reality by referring to him as 'independent.' He is a Socialist openly and the refusal to apply that label goes a long way towards explaining how screwed up US politics are. Another sign of the sickness in the US is this country's Socialist Worker and crap like Ashley Smith's "Fighting for what we want" that wants to argue there's no difference on the wars between the McCain-Palin and Obama-Biden ticket (there isn't) but uses pejoratives for McCain-Palin ("moronic," "knuckle dragging") but not for Obama-Biden. It's not even-handed and it does imply -- by insulting only one side -- that one ticket is 'better.' There is no difference on the Iraq War between the tickets for the two major parties. One would assume an allegedly Socialist periodical would have no reason to take sides between two Corporatist candidates. There's a lot more honesty -- from their political perspective (right-wing) -- in Stanley Kurtz' most recent National Review piece: "In short, the New Party was a mid-1990s effort to build a 'progressive' coalition to the left of the Democratic party, uniting left-leaning baby boomers with minorities, relatively militant unionists, and 'idealistic' young people."
Moving over to political lies, Mark Hosenball (Newsweek) underscores a big lie that passed with little attention, "'All the public reports suggested,' Obama said, that people shouted 'things like 'terrorist' and 'kill him'.' Making a death threat against a presidential candidate can be a crime. But even before Obama cited "reports" of the threats at the debate, the U.S. Secret Service had told media outlets, including NEWSWEEK, that it was unable to corroborate accounts of the 'kill him' remarks--and according to a law-enforcement official, who asked for anonymity when discussing a political matter, the Obama campaign knew as much. Now some officials are disgruntled that Obama gave added credence to the threat by mentioning it in front of 60 million viewers. At this point in the campaign, said one, candidates will 'say anything to make a particular point.'" [For more on that topic, see this snapshot from last week.]
On the subject of political lies, yes, people in the US do have the right not to vote. That is their decision and it can be a perfectly acceptable one despite the harping from certain quarters that insist "YOU MUST VOTE!". Linda Averill (FSN via Information Clearing House) explains that position and also provides some history:
Outrageous rules, media censorship, private financing of campaigns, and sheer thuggery have marginalized political parties that compete with labor's fake friend, the Democratic Party. This includes even parties like the Greens, who simply want to reform capitalism.
It's not people who vote socialist or Green who throw away their votes. The system does it! U.S. elections are "winner take all." If a socialist gets 20 percent of the vote, a Green gets 15 percent, and a Democrat gets 51 percent -- all votes go to the Democrat.
Things weren't always so sewn up. At the start of the 20th century, socialists ran on explicitly pro-labor, anti-capitalist platforms. And they won seats -- more than 1,200 offices nationwide.
To eliminate the threat this posed, the Democrats and Republicans launched a political witch-hunt. Socialist party offices were raided, pro-labor representatives were denied their seats, radicals were tossed in jail, and restrictive ballot laws were passed.
Averill closes by quoting Mother Jones: "I have never had a vote, and I have raised hell all over this country. You don't need a vote to raise hell! You need convictions and a voice!"
Those who wish to vote will have many choices to chose from (except for the state of Oklahoma whose restrictive laws allow voters to only pick the Democratic or Republican presidential ticket). Ther is the Green Party presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney who will appear Saturday October 25 on NPR's Weekend Edition Saturday. Cynthia's running mate is Rosa Clemente and Cynthia will be in Seattle:
The Washington State Power To The People Campaign has announced that Green Party Presidential Candidate Cynthia McKinney will be visiting Seattle on Sunday, October 26th and Monday, October 27th. Scheduled activities include:
Sunday, October 26, 2008
* 3pm - 7pm
From The Day After The Election Onward: Strategies for Community Organizing, Greening & Reconstruction"
Umojafest Peace Center
24th Ave & E Spring St, Seattle
The public is invited to attend.
Cynthia McKinney will be speaking in support of grassroots and institutional solutions to violence and other issues plaguing urban communities nationwide. This event is hosted by the Umojafest Peace Center and the McKinney/Clemente 2008 Power To The People Campaign. The program will include hip-hop and spoken word performances, speakers from youth and community based organizations, and a showing of the award-winning film, American Blackout.
Monday, October 27, 2008
* 11am - 12:30pm
"The Power of Student Movements: How to Use Your Campus as a Tool to Change the World!"
Broadway Performance Hall
Broadway at Pine Street, Seattle
The public is invited.
Ms. McKinney will address the growing concerns of students, the need for student leadership, and how students can organize on campus to engage in and impact social justice struggles and make meaningful contributions to communities outside school. This event will be hosted by the Black Student Union of Seattle Central Community College.
The Republican presidential candidate is John McCain, Sarah Palin is his running mate.
Governor Palin Has A Proven Record Of Commitment To Special Needs Children:
Governor Palin Has Increased Funding For Special Needs Education. Overall funding for Special Needs students has increased every year since Sarah Palin entered office, from $219 million in 2007 to a projected $276 million in 2009. Breakdown below:
On March 28, 2008, Governor Palin Signed Legislation That Will Nearly Triple
Per-Pupil Funding Over Three Years For Special Needs Students With High-
Cost Requirements. Per-pupil breakdown below:
Governor Palin Has Directed State Funds To Other Special Needs Programs.
This funding includes $500,000 for diagnostic services for autistic children and $250,000 for training in early autism intervention in her FY2009 budget.
The Executive Director Of The Association Of Alaska School Boards Called
The New Funding Palin Fought For A "Historic Event." "Carl Rose, the executive director of the Association of Alaska School Boards, praised the changes in funding for rural schools and students with special needs as a 'historic event,'
and said the finance overhaul would bring more stability to district budgets."
("Alaska Legislators Overhaul Funding," Education Week, 4/30/08)
Families Of Special Needs Children "Have Been Flocking To Palin Rallies ...
They Say, Because Her Story Is Theirs, Too." But in the sea of faces, nearly everywhere she goes, she encounters people who aren't really there for the politics. ... Families of children with Down syndrome have been flocking to
Palin rallies. They come to shake her hand, grab a hug or snap a picture,
drawn there, they say, because her story is theirs, too." (Savannah Guthrie,
NBC "Nightly News," 10/14/08)
Scott Conroy (CBS News) reports, "The Alaska governor, whose infant son Trig has Down syndrome, said that a McCain/Palin administration would allow more flexibility for parents to choose their children's schools, committed to fully fund the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act, and promised to reform and refocus special needs services." This was a major speech and text of it (and video) is up at McCain-Palin:
Too often, even in our own day, children with special needs have been set apart and excluded. Too often, state and federal laws add to their challenges, instead of removing barriers and opening new paths of opportunity. Too often, they are made to feel that there is no place for them in the life of our country, that they don't count or have nothing to contribute. This attitude is a grave disservice to these beautiful children, to their families, and to our country -- and I will
work to change it.
One of the most wonderful experiences in this campaign has been to see all the families of children with special needs who come out to rallies and events just
like this. We have a bond there. We know that children with special needs
inspire a special love. You bring your sons and daughters with you, because
you are proud of them, as I am of my son.
My little fella sleeps during most of these rallies, even when they get pretty rowdy. He would be amazed to know how many folks come out to see him instead of me.
When I learned that Trig would have special needs, honestly, I had to prepare my
heart. At first I was scared, and Todd and I had to ask for strength and understanding.
I did a lot of praying for that understanding, and strength, and to see purpose.
And what's been confirmed in me is every child has something to contribute to the
world, if we give them that chance. You know that there are the world's standards of perfection, and then there are God's, and these are the final measure. Every child is beautiful before God, and dear to Him for their own sake. And the truest measure of any society is how it treats those who are most vulnerable.
As for our baby boy, Trig, for Todd and me he is only more precious because he is vulnerable. In some ways, I think we stand to learn more from him than he does
from us. When we hold Trig and care for him, we don't feel scared anymore. We feel blessed.
Of course, many other families are much further along a similar path -- including my best friend who happens to be my sister, Heather, and her 13-year old son Karcher, who has autism. Heather and I have worked on this for over a decade. Heather is an advocate for children with autism in Alaska. And as governor, I've succeeded in securing additional funding and assistance for students with special needs. By 2011, I will have tripled the funding available to these students.
Heather and I have been blessed with a large, strong family network. Our family helps make sure that Trig and Karcher have what they need. But not everyone is lucky enough to have that strong network of support. And the experiences of those millions of Americans point the way to better policy in the care of children with special needs.
One of the most common experiences is the struggle of parents to find the best and earliest care for their children. The law requires our public schools to serve children with special needs, but often the results fall far short of the service they need. Even worse, parents are left with no other options, except for the few families that can afford private instruction or therapy.
Many of you parents here have been through the drill: You sit down with teachers and counselors to work out the IEP -- an individual education plan for your child. The school may be trying its best, but they're overstretched. They may keep
telling you that your child is "progressing well," and no extra services are required. They keep telling you that -- but you know better.
You know that your children are not getting all of the help they need, at a time when they need it most. The parents of children with special needs ask themselves every day if they are doing enough, if they are doing right by their sons and daughters. And when our public school system fails to render help and equal opportunity -- and even prevents parents from seeking it elsewhere that is unacceptable.
In a McCain-Palin administration, we will put the educational choices for special needs children in the right hands their parents'. Under reforms that I will lead as vice president, the parents and caretakers of children with physical or mental disabilities will be able to send that boy or girl to the school of their choice -- public or private.
And McCain picks up another endorsement today, South Carolina's The State which asserts that "we prefer Sen. McCain. First and foremost, he is far better prepared not only to be commander in chief, but to lead the nation as it deals with a complex array of global challenges, from Iran to North Korea, from Russia to Venezuela. Consider two widely different areas of foreign policy, Iraq and Colombia. Sen. McCain has often led the charge against the Bush administration when it was wrong on national security, from the 9/11 Commission (working with Joe Biden to make that happen) to the use of torture. But the most dramatic case regards Iraq. For years, he insisted we needed to send more troops. When Mr. Bush finally agreed to the "surge," Sen. McCain was Gen. David Petraeus' most conspicuous supporter. The surge worked. Sen. McCain was for it, and Sen. Obama was against. That's no accident. Sen. McCain's support arose from his superior understanding of the situation and how to approach it."
Ralph Nader is the independent presidential candidate and Matt Gonzalez is his running mate. The campaign has toured all fifty states and this Saturday? "Nader to Attempt Guinness World Record on Saturday: Massachusetts Marathon, Most Speeches in 24-Hours:"
This Saturday, Ralph Nader will hold campaign events in 21 cities across Massachusetts in an attempt to set a sanctioned Guinness World Record
to give the most speeches in a 24-hour time period. The minimum threshold
he must meet is 15. He is scheduled to deliver over 315 minutes of speeches
and drive over 365 miles. Each speech will last at least 10 minutes and will
tackle a separate issue.
Nader/Gonzalez campaign events are scheduled to be held in the
Boston, Cambridge, Belmont, Somerville, Medford, Arlington, Lexington,
Concord, Waltham, Watertown, Newton, Worcester, Auburn, Springfield, Chicopee, Holyoke, Northampton, West Springfield, Westfield, Stockbridge
There is an additional van for intrepid journalists who want to chronicle the adventure from start to finish.
For a full itinerary or other related inquires, please contact Ryan Mehta at
408-348-0681, or Rob Socket at 202-471-5833.
And events are lined out throughout the final days of the race. One just announced will take place November 2nd:
PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE RALPH NADER TO SPEAK IN ALLENTOWN
WHO: Ralph Nader
WHAT: Campaign rally/speech on the Wall Street bailout and other current
WHEN: Sunday November 2 at 7:30pm
WHERE: Scottish Rite Cathedral, 1533 Hamilton Street, Allentown, PA 18102
On Sunday, November 2 at 7:30pm, consumer advocate and Presidential candidate
Ralph Nader will hold a press conference followed by a rally in Scottish Rite Cathedral.
He will speak about the Wall St. Bailout, single-payer health care, the Iraq
War, the environment, and the state of the Presidential debates from which
he was excluded.
Ralph Nader is the only Presidential candidate who recommends jail time,
not bail time for Wall Street fat cats (and the only one who has been pointing
out the risks of deregulation for the last 20 years). He is the number three contender for the Presidency, America's number one consumer advocate,
and he has real solutions to our economic woes.
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