Friday, October 17, 2008

Iraqi Christians

Mosul Christians are still suffering from killings and displacement being threatened by "extremist Islamists" who are trying to affect coexistence and national unity of the Iraqi people which is only achieved by the unity of all its components. In the wake of Defense Minister Abdul Qader Al Ubaidi's announcement that some pointers have been uncovered in the case of displacing 1894 Christian families from Mosul, a number of leaders and representatives of around 20 Christian political parties called the government to announce the results of investigations accusing security forces in the city of overlooking their duties.
Christian parties called on the government in a statement read in a news conference held in Arbil to accelerate the return of displaced home and compensate for their lost houses and properties.

The above is from Alsumaria's "Iraq Christians call to uncover probe result." As the crisis continues, not only does the puppet government in Baghdad do damn little but the domestic (US) mainstream and 'alternative' press doesn't seem overly interested let alone concerned. Ed West's "Thousands of Christians flee Mosul, Iraq amid 'Campaign of Liquidation'" (UK's Catholic Herald via Catholic Online) notes the refugees:

The refugees now face a bleak winter without any food or shelter in what aid workers are calling a "desperate" situation.
Some 25 families fled in one day last week followed by another 50 the next day. It turned into an exodus after 13 Christians were murdered, including a father and son and a disabled man in his twenties. Most victims owned or worked in shops, suggesting a campaign to break the economic strength of the Assyrian Christian community.The exiles have moved north and east to the villages of the Nineveh Plains, the last stronghold of Iraq's Christian minority. In one Christian village, Qaraqosh, more than 1,000 refugees are now staying in schools and churches.
However, Qaraqosh and the others villages in the area are already overwhelmed with Christian refugees from the fighting elsewhere in the country, and Christian charities are preparing emergency food, medicine and shelter.
Albert Michael of the Assyrian Aid Society charity called the conditions "desperate" and said: "There are convoys of blankets and tents being prepared. Most of the people are being housed in churches and monasteries. Many are outside and it's getting chilly, and they can't stay much longer. The problem is what happens when these people return to their homes? Ultimately most of the people have to return. Conditions are very bad."

Gulf Daily News reports, "Lebanese political figure Amin Gemayel on Friday warned against attacks targeting Christians in Iraq, according to media reports. Gemayel was quoted by media as saying that a campaign targeting Iraqi Christians was 'part of a campaign to displace them, similar to displacing of Palestinians' by Israel'." China's Xinhau notes Gemayel's statements:

"It is regrettable that this campaign is taking place while the new Iraqi regime and the American forces are watching," he said.
"What raised suspicion is that this campaign of racial cleaninga gainst Iraqi Christians is underway as the security situation in Iraq is improving," Gemayel said, adding Iraqi Christians have set"the first example of Christian-Muslim coexistence."

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees issued the following this morning, attributed to spokesperson Ron Redmond:

UNHCR is concerned about the displacement of Christian Iraqis from Mosul which started last week. We have received information from the Ministry of Displacement and Migration (MoDM) in Mosul that approximately 1,560 families (some 9,360 people) have been displaced so far, although UNHCR cannot confirm this number. The displaced population would represent about half of the Christians in the Mosul area.
In recent days, we have sent at least 10 field assessment missions to areas surrounding Mosul, including Telesquf, Batnaya, Bartilla, Baashiqa, Akre, Shekhan. We've also had UNHCR teams in areas of Dahuk and Erbil, where Christians have sought refuge.
According to initial reports, most Christian Iraqis decided to leave Mosul following direct as well as indirect threats and intimidation. One of those interviewed witnessed the killing of a Christian Iraqi on the street, while several of the displaced told us they had received printed threats at the university campus, in their homes and through text messages on their mobiles. Several others told our teams that they left when they heard news of 11 reported killings of Christians in Mosul. Others were warned by family members, friends and neighbours of potential threats and decided to leave before it was too late.
Most of the families who fled are staying with extended family members, friends within the host community or in collective community buildings, including church facilities. There is an urgent need for food, clothes, non-food items (such as blankets, mattresses, and stoves), health facilities, hygiene kits, clean water and access to school.
Over the past week, UNHCR and our partner, International Medical Corps (IMC), have distributed non-food items to a total of 802 families (about 4,800 people). We expect to have reached over 1,500 families by early next week, both new arrivals as well as those displaced people we have not been able to reach yet. Food and kerosene and additional assistance have been distributed by other UN agencies, non-governmental organisations and local authorities. A decision was also taken on Wednesday by the Ministers of Displacement and Migration and Defence to make available an immediate cash grant of 300,000 – 500,000 Iraqi dinars ( $250-$425 ) to the displaced families, and another 1.5 million dinars ($1,250) to those who decide to return.
For now, most of the displaced we spoke to do not envisage return to their homes as an immediate option, as they fear for their lives. A few told us that they will only return if and when their safety and security can be assured by the local authorities.
UNHCR's led protection and assistant centres in Kirkuk and Mosul will continue to closely monitor the situation on the ground.

Meanwhile, in a piece evaluating the puppet Nouri al-Maliki, Sami Moubayed includes the following in "Maliki in damage-control mode" (Asia Times):

Ever since the occupation of Iraq in 2003, Iraqi Christians have complained that they are being persecuted by Islamic militias. In some cases, many Christians were killed, churches attacked and women raped for walking outdoors without wearing headscarves.
Over the past 10 days, 12 Iraqi Christians have been found dead in Iraq, angering the prime minister, who created a senior ministerial delegation to investigate the crimes. The group is composed of the ministers of defense, industry, planning and refugees.
The depiction of Maliki's Iraq as a theocracy where freedom of religion is not tolerated is a terrible setback for Maliki, and is tarnishing his image in the United States and Europe. Ordinary Iraqis - mainly Christian - cannot but compare him with Saddam Hussein, who despite all the faults of his dictatorship, upheld religious diversity in Iraq and protected Iraqi Christians from fundamentalist threats.

Turning to the US presidential race, Democracy Now! -- no link to trash -- had Ralph Nader and Cynthia McKinney on yesterday. Cynthia is the Green Party presidential candidate and wisely refused to take part in defending a White man who instigated more serious acts of violence than have the still persecuted Black Panthers (much to Goody's regret, Cynthia refused to rush to defend Bill Ayers). Ignoring Goody's need to for White privilege, McKinney responded:

CYNTHIA McKINNEY: First of all, I think I should say that I believe that the people in this country need a political party and a movement that places our values on the political agenda. Obviously, with that exchange, that's not the case.
There's something else that's a bit more troubling. I've also been talking about election integrity as I've gone across this country. But, you know, I really don't like the idea that the face of election fraud, given the past two presidential elections, is now a face of color and one of poor people.
In 2000, when people went to the polls, when the voters went to the polls, they were met with confusing ballots, manipulation of the voter lists, electronic voting machines that didn't work, inappropriately or ineffectively or poorly trained officials who weren't familiar with the workings of those machines, and we know what the problems with those machines have been and are. We still have those problems that have been with us since 2000.
In 2004, they added to these problems with the electronic poll books, the sleepovers that were discovered, where the machines weren't even secured, even intensifying the failures of the machines with the vote flipping, and usually in only one direction. The battery freezes in the midst of voters actually trying to cast their votes.
And now we've got voter ID laws across the country, and we've got voter caging, which is a fancy way of purging people from the voter files.
So, now, what kind of election is it when neither of the political parties is addressing the issue, the fundamental issue, of whether or not our votes are even going to be counted?

McKinney's running mate is Rosa Clemente. Ralph Nader is the independent presidential candidate. Ralph took the bait so we won't note his exchange on that issue. Instead, we'll note this from him:

RALPH NADER: There's no such thing as free trade with dictators and oligarchs in these countries, because the market doesn't determine the costs. There's no free collective bargaining for workers. That's a crime, de facto, in many countries, to try to form an independent trade union. There's no rule of law, bribery. These companies can go there and pollute at will. There's no judicial independence to make these companies accountable, and they abuse workers and consumers and communities, as the oil companies and the timber companies have on many occasions.
Second, these-NAFTA and WTO have to be scrapped. Under those treaties, we can withdraw in six months and give notice of withdrawal and renegotiate these agreements for the following purpose: no more trade agreements that subordinate consumer, union, worker and environmental rights. These are pull-down trade agreements that are allowing fascist and corporate dictators to pull down our standards of living, because they know how to keep their workers in their place at fifty cents an hour. So, any new trade agreements should stick to trade. Any other treaty should be labor, environment and consumer on a level playing field. These trade agreements also have to be open, democratic. They cannot undermine our courts, our regulatory agencies and our legislature.
That's what we've got to do. And our website,, has ample information on this process.

If you're in the mood to wade through garbage, you know where to go find the audio and video. Cynthia McKinney has the transcript posted at her campaign website. Ralph Nader is the independent presidential candidate, Matt Gonzalez is his running mate. In terms of the 'questions' Goody came up with, Ava and I will address that garbage on Sunday at Third.

On Fridays, we try to avoid posting videos. Dial up users have problems with the page loading. Unless it's an exception for news, that's pretty much our rule. However, Oklahoma community members made their pick in the presidential race only very recently. Their candidates (McCain and Palin) highlights start this month. So others have had videos through 2008. For that reason when an Oklahoma community member e-mails a request between now and the election, we will note a video. During the week, even if it's on a Friday. I'll try to have enough things go up this weekend that it won't slow the loading of the page for dial up. Vernon notes this posted by Michael Palmer to the McCain-Palin blog:

John McCain at the Alfred E. Smith Dinner

Last night John McCain and Barack Obama attended the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Dinner in New York. In his usual fasion, John McCain brought the house down with laughter. Take a look for yourself:

Part 1

Part 2

This weekend (Friday nights in many markets) PBS' Washington Week offers:

The third and final presidential debate last night proved to be the most combative with the candidates drawing clear distinctions between their political platforms and personal styles. Now with less than three weeks until Election Day, Barack Obama is leading in most national polls and electoral vote projections are shifting in his favor. So what can John McCain do to improve his chances for victory? Doyle McManus of the Los Angeles Times offers analysis on the debate and the race for the White House.

Are we headed toward a severe recession? Despite Washington’s multi-billion dollar rescue plan for Wall Street and the federal government’s pledge to infuse billions more directly into banks to bolster the economy, the stock market continues to go up and down like a roller coaster. What will it take to stabilize and restore the damaged US economy? We get some answers from John Maggs of National Journal. Plus Jackie Calmes of The New York Times takes a closer look at the new economic recovery plans Obama and McCain offered up this week.

The McCain campaign and Republican officials from several states are accusing a non-profit group of committing electoral fraud while registering new voters around the country. The activities of ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) have come under scrutiny after some state investigations discovered discrepancies including voters who registered multiple times and in one case a man who allegedly was given cigarettes in exchange for his signature on 73 voter registration forms. Michael Duffy of TIME Magazine reports on efforts to verify the eligibility of newly registered voters before the election; the status of early voting in 30 states; and concerns about potential problems at polling places on November 4.

Gwen will be on line next Thursday, October 23 at noon (ET) for her monthly web chat. If you'd like to ask a question, go to [Washington Week ]

NOW on PBS also begins airing tonight on most PBS stations (check local listings on both) and this weekend's focus is:

Virginia's Vote

[Streaming video of this program will be available online after broadcast]

Battleground Virginia: Could a reliably Republican state turn blue?

The state of Virginia has not voted for a Democratic President since 1964, but this year its 13 electoral votes are up for grabs as late polls show the race too close to call. This week, NOW on PBS goes behind the national polls and punditry and into the living rooms of real Virginia voters to learn how they'll be making their decisions. Military families, retirees, and blue-collar workers of all political stripes share their concerns about faith, the war, and making ends meet in troubling economic times.

A Better Bailout? aired alongside Virginia's Vote

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