Saturday, November 22, 2008

The One About That One Year Treaty . . .

Earlier this week, I went to a sort of news conference at the new U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. For those back in the San Joaquin Valley, it looks a little like a fortified UC Merced with big, government buildings surrounded by blast walls and armed guards. (No photos allowed.)
Two senior U.S. government officials gave their take on the security pact approved by Iraq's Cabinet and setting a course for the withdrawal of U.S. forces by Dec. 31, 2011. A second, related agreement defines Iraqi and American interactions on a slate of issues, such as trade, technology and health care. It's up to Iraq's parliament to decide whether to accept it.
One of the officials said Americans would have no legal justification to be in the country past that date, meaning the pact would have to be renegotiated for foreign soldiers and contractors to stay.
"Its validity ends unless there is an extension," one of the officials said.


The above is from Adam Ashton's "Plans in Iraq call for flexibility" (The Modesto Bee) and, repeating, it is a one year contract with two pick-up options. But it's interesting that US officials declare to the press that the "validity" of the treaty "ends unless there is an extension" which, anyone with a slight grasp of the language grasps is not "And all the troops came home in 2011 and they all lived happily ever after." But we hear about that in The Modesto Bee and not via McClatchy (whom Ashton's been filing for).

The treaty is not and has never been about withdrawal. If it were, there would not be an effort to push the Congress to demand transparency. If the treaty actually dealt with withdrawal the US Congress would have to be involved because there would be no way for the treaty to be passed off as anything other than a treaty -- one requiring Congressional approval.

The treaty maintains the US presence in Iraq. That is why it is sought, that is why it was created. The UN mandate expires Dec. 31st. US troops cannot remain in Iraq without some legal framework (either a new agreement or a renewal of the mandate). Somehow the press has decided to sell the treaty as a promising withdrawal when it does no such thing. It outlines what will happen for one year -- 2009. After 2009, either party can cancel. That's not a three year treaty. It's a one year treaty with the option to exercise a renewal twice. Or the option not to exercise that renewal.

And when the US officials are explaining what could happen next and it involves "an extension," you'd think the press would front page that with banner headlines. But they're far too busy waving pom-poms in the air to do the jobs they were allegedly trained in.


The following community sites have updated since Friday morning:

Rebecca's Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude;
Betty's Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man;
Cedric's Cedric's Big Mix;
Kat's Kat's Korner;
Mike's Mikey Likes It!;
Elaine's Like Maria Said Paz;
Wally's The Daily Jot;
Trina's Trina's Kitchen;
Ruth's Ruth's Report;
Marcia's SICKOFITRADLZ;
and Stan's Oh Boy It Never Ends

For those who read the print copy of the New York Times, turn to C2 where the real news is. Yeah, 200,000 lost. The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com.

iraq
adam ashton



thomas friedman is a great man






oh boy it never ends

The demonstration

Thousands of followers of radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr demonstrated Friday against an agreement that would extend the U.S. military presence in Iraq, shouting "America out!" and burning an effigy of President Bush.
The rally was held in Baghdad's Firdaus Square, where U.S. soldiers toppled a statue of President Saddam Hussein in an iconic moment of the 2003 invasion. Friday's demonstration followed two days of boisterous protests by Sadr's loyalists in parliament, which is scheduled to vote next week on the agreement.
The Sadrists do not appear to have the strength to derail the bilateral accord, which would allow American troops to stay in Iraq for three more years. The group has only 30 seats in the 275-seat parliament. Friday's protest drew thousands of people but was smaller than a massive demonstration held by Sadr loyalists in the same central Baghdad plaza in 2005.


The above is from Mary Beth Sheridan's "Sadr Followers Rally Against U.S. Accord" (Washington Post) and Stephen Farrell's "Protests in Baghdad on U.S. Pact" covers it in the New York Times:

In Firdos Square, protesters sat in rows of 50 stretching back more than half a mile. They filled Sadoun Street, beside the Palestine Hotel and in front of the colonnaded traffic circle where five years ago American troops pulled down the dictator’s statue in scenes televised around the world.
While the rally was billed as a cross-community effort, to be attended by Shiite and Sunni clerics, the vast majority of those in attendance were Sadrists. Many had come from Mr. Sadr’s stronghold of Sadr City, and the chants the crowd took up were "Moktada, Moktada," "No, no to America," and "No, no to the agreement."
Sadrist officials said they opposed the security agreement because they did not believe assurances that the Americans would ever leave. They depicted the pact as a successor to colonial-era treaties with Western powers in the last century that, they said, had "sold the Arab and the Muslim lands into occupation."


A few people are noting Ralph Nader in the e-mails (some noting are members). It will not go up here. I'm not interested. It has nothing to do with Ralph's formula of "Clinton = Evil." It has everthing to do with shoddy work and shoddier work being cited. Jeremy Scahill? The punk ass who couldn't call out Samantha Power because she was feeing him things for his writing? Couldn't call out his own personal Deep Throat? He made a fool out of himself and everyone paying attention was laughing their ass off at him. That was then. The only rescue his failed name today is to come out hitting hard. And the piece of his Ralph cites is more hideous garbage. He probably he thinks he's brave for 'calling out' Sarah Sewall -- by hiding behind Tom Hayden. He can't call her out himself because he's too much of a punk ass coward (and because Sammy Power and Sarah Sewar are tight-tight-tight).

We're not highlighting garbage. Ralph citing that bad, bad article makes his own piece garbage. When Jeremy Scahill decides he's tired of cowering in appeasement, he may have something worth saying. He hasn't hit his rock bottom yet and he can muddle through in denial on his own.
It's past time that Sarah Sewar was loudly called out. The War Hawk pushed the illegal war and continues to push it. She publicly stated at the end of last year that the Iraq War couldn't be seen as a failure because it would hurt other wars. She oversaw the counter-insurgency manual. She's a bloody War Hawk and until people can call her out, they're nothing but cowards and appeasers. This crap that's being offered by our 'brave' left wouldn't have cut if John McCain had won the election and it certainly doesn't cut it under the faux 'anti-war' Barack. [For the stupid who still don't get it, Liar Barack is far more dangerous than John McCain because with McCain in the White House the left would have hit the ground running. Instead, too many of us are stuck in a 'holding pattern' afraid to criticize and a huge portion intends to get through four years without launching any serious criticism. And, as we've pointed out for nearly two years now, Barack means AFRICOM. What Bully Boy couldn't get, Barack will.]

The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com.

the washington post
mary beth sheridan
the new york times

Friday, November 21, 2008

Iraq snapshot

Friday, November 21, 2008.  Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces more deaths, the proposed treaty is protested in Baghdad, and more.
 
 
Starting with the treaty passed off as a Status Of Forces Agreement.  Gina Chon (Wall St. Journal) reports on yesterday Parliament activity: "Critics of the agreement tried to further put off discussion Thursday, shouting and banging on tables. . . . But lawmakers in the 30-member Sadr bloc, who have been opposing the agreement, failed to stop the legislation's progress.  speaker Mahmoud Mashadani extended the parliament session so debate would continue on Saturday and a vote could still come next week.  He already had canceled a leave that had been scheduled for lawmakers next week to cover several Muslim holidays, saying the vote on the pact was too important to delay further."  However, on the holiday, CNN notes, "If a vote has to be held beyond Monday, Kurdish lawmaker Mahmoud Othman said it could be delayed by the annual hajj religious pilgrimage and Eid al-Adha, the Muslim holiday that comes at the end of the pilgrimage."  The Los Angeles Times' blog notes that the treaty needs to be read aloud in the Parliament a third time before going to a vote.  Salah Hemeid (Al-Ahram Weekly) observes, "It is not clear if the endorsement requires a simple, or a two thirds, majority of the 275-member legislative -- the latter a constituational requirement for key legislation.  It is also unclear if the assembly will debate the agreement article by article or vote, as the government wants, on the whole package, or what will constitute a quorum should its detractors try to prevent its passage by astaining or walking out."
 
Before we go further, in the US you can make your voice heard via  American Freedom Campaign:

Does this sound right to you?  
Next week, the Iraqi Parliament is expected to vote on whether to approve an agreement setting the terms of the ongoing military relationship between the United States and Iraq. So far, so good. A legislative body, representing the people of a nation, shall determine the extent to which that nation's future will be intertwined with that of another.  
Of course, one would expect that the United States Congress would be given the same opportunity. That, however, is not the case. Or at least it is not what the Bush administration is allowing to happen. Shockingly, the Bush administration is not even letting Congress
read the full agreement before it is signed! 
We need you to send a message immediately to U.S. House and Senate leaders, urging them to demand the constitutional input and approval to which they are entitled.  
The administration has asserted that the agreement between the U.S. and Iraq is merely a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) and therefore does not require congressional approval. Yet the agreement goes far beyond the traditional limits of a SOFA, which typically set the terms for bringing materials and equipment into a nation and outline the legal procedures that will apply to members of the military who are accused of crimes.  
Believe it or not, the current agreement contains terms that will actually give Iraq a measure of control over U.S. forces. No foreign nation or international entity has ever been given the authority to direct U.S. forces without prior congressional approval - either through a majority vote of both chambers or a two-thirds vote in the Senate in the case of treaties.  
If this agreement goes into effect without congressional approval, it will establish a precedent under which future presidents can exercise broad unilateral control over the U.S. military -- and even give foreign nations control over our troops.  
Congress must take immediate action. Unfortunately, they are about to adjourn for at least a couple of weeks. But it is not too late for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to make a statement, signaling their strong belief that Congress will not be bound by and need not fund an agreement that has not been approved by Congress.  
Please send an E-mail encouraging such action to Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Reid immediately by clicking [here]
This is truly a dire situation and we hope that you will join us in calling for action.  Thank you.   
Steve Fox 

Campaign Director 
American Freedom Campaign Action Fund 
 
Today White House spokesperson Dana Perino declared on Air Force One that the treaty would be available to the American peoope "soon," "As soon as we possibly can, when we're -- agreement is reached, we'll be able to do that.  You bet. . . .  As soon as we possibly can, when we're -- agreement is reached, we'll be able to do that.  You bet. . . .
I don't know exactly the timing of it.  Obviously, we've provided full briefings to appropriate members of Congress.  I think over 200 members of Congress saw it.  Secretaries Rice and Gates, amongst others -- I think General Lute -- were up on Capitol Hill to provide that information to the citizens, representatives in Congress.  And then as soon as we are able to, we'll provide the English language, sure. . . . .  I actually can't tell you when it will be.  I just don't know."  In other words, no, the treaty isn't being released to the American people anytime soon. 
  
 
In Iraq, Campbell Robertson and Stephen Farrell (New York Times) note the Sunni attitude conveyed by MP Aala Maki, "To be clear, it is not the treaty that is the problem. What will be built on the treaty, that is the problem."  They're dancing to get their palms greasedRania Abouzeid (Time magazine) reports, "The discord in Iraq's parliament, and on its streets, over the Baghdad government's Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) with Washington is over a lot more than the date on which U.S. troops are to withdraw and the rules governing their conduct until then. As the rabble-rousing Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr made clear on Friday, it's also about which Iraqi parties will best leverage the Americans' eventual departure to their own political benefit. Sadr drew thousands of supporters to Firdous Square in central Baghdad on Friday to protest against the draft accord, which awaits a ratification vote in Iraq's parliament on Monday." 
 
CBS and AP cover the protest and note, "After a mass prayer, demonstrators pelted the effigy with plastic water bottles and sandals. One man hit it in the face with his sandal. The effigy fell head first into the crowd and protesters jumped on it before setting it ablaze." AP's Hamza Hendawi reports the demonstration Moqtada al-Sadr called last week took place today following prayers in Baghdad and that the Bully Boy of the United States was "burned" in "effigy" "in the same central Baghdad square where [US shipped in exile] Iraqis beat a toppled statue of Saddam Hussein with their sandals five years earlier" and the Bush stand-in was also "pelted . . . with plastic water bottles and sandals" and it "held a sign that said: 'The security agreement . . . shame and humiliation'." CNN adds, "The demonstration brought out one of the largest crowds to congregate in Baghdad since protests against the agreement started this year. The square was sealed off and traffic was blocked as thousands chanted 'No no to the agreement,' 'No no America,' and 'Out, out occupation'."  Deborah Haynes (Times of London) quotes Sheikh Abelhadi al-Mohammedawi telling those assembled, "If they [US] do not get out then and those with me are ready to drive them out in the method that we see fit, provided that it does not go against religion."  AFP reports that a statement from Moqtada al-Sadr was read to the crowd and quotes it as follows: "If they don't leave the country I am going to be with you to make them leave in a way that suits you, as long as it doesn't go against the religion.  And if they leave the country and you fear that the enemy coming from outside will transform your land into a battlefield, I and my followers will be a shield for Iraq."  BBC (which has text and video on the demonstration) quotes al-Sadr's statement thusly: "Let the government know that America is and will not be of any use to us because it is the enemy of Islam."  BBC provides a photo essay here.  Tina Susman and Caesar Ahmed (Los Angeles Times) describe the scene around the demonstration, "Iraqi army snipers perched on rooftops along the broad avenues leading to the square, a public gathering spot in the middle of a traffic roundabout decorated with fountains and greenery.  The effigy of Bush, wearing a suit and tie and carrying a briefcase, dangled for hours as the crowd, which stretched for several city blocks, knelt in prayer and listened to clerics denounce the Status of Forces Agreement."  Reuters photos (such as here) include a caption that notes "Iraqi forces shut streets in Baghdad".  Xinhau notes, "Iraqi security forces cordoned off the area, blocking all the roads leading to the route of the demonstration".  This Reuters photo by Mushtaq Muhammed shows Iraq soldiers frisking a young man holding a sign bearing al-Sadr's photo "before entering the rally site".  This Reuters photo by Kareem Raheem shows an American flag being burned at the demonstration.  Adam Ashton (McClatchy Newspapers) explains the catchy tune sung as the rally ended, "Maliki is the new Sadam."
  
Staying with the treaty, AP's Matthew Lee reports that mercenaries such as Dyncorp, Blackwater, Triple Canopy and KBR have been informed by the US State Dept and Pentagon that the treaty will mean "private Americans and non-Iraqi foreigners working in key roles for the United States in Iraq will lose immunity and be subjected to Iraqi law". AFP adds, "One-hundred-and-seventy-two contractors who provide armed escorts and other security measures to government officials, diplomats and NGOs have been briefed on the new rules."
 
Turning to some of today's reported violence . . .
 
Bombings?
 
CNN notes three Baghdad bombings with 1 person dead and four injured.  Xinhua notes 2 Baghdad roadside bombings that resulted 3 deaths and nineteen people wounded. Sahar
 
Today the US military announced: "CAMP VICTORY, Iraq -- A Multi National Division -- Center Soldier died of non-combat related causes Nov. 20."  And they announced: "A Multi National Division - North Soldier was killed in a non-combat related incident in Mosul, Iraq, Nov. 21."  The announcements brought the number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war to 4204.
 
Bilal Hussein is the Associated Press' Pulizter winning photographer who was imprisoned (for no valid reason) for over two years by the US military.  The  International Press Freedom Award (Committee to Protect Journalism) has picked him and five other winners for 2008:
 
 
Congratulations to Bilal.  H. Josef Herbert (AP) notes CPJ "had been among those who had pressed for the release of AP photographer Bilal Hussein, winner of a Pulitzer Prize in 2005 for his news photography, including the fighting in Fallujah and Ramadi. . . .  Steven Hurst, former AP bureau chief in Baghdad, said Hussein was taken into custody and held for more than two years without charges. 'He did nothing but his job as a photographer in a war zone,' said Hurst, adding that the military evidently 'didn't like the story that was being told by his pictures'."  Information about Bilal and his false imprisonment can be found at the Free Bilal Hussein Now! website.
 
In other news, Mickey Z' (at Information Clearing House) prepares for the immediate future:
 


No, I don't mean that Great Depression. I'm talking about the inevitable moment -- maybe next week, maybe next year -- when the Kool Aid wears off and the Obamatrons wake up to realize their hero offers nothing even approximating hope or change.   
The carefully calculated speeches -- which have always been filled with empty, hollow phrases -- will no longer soothe a battered and desperate populace and the Obamabots will suddenly recognize that the Pope of Hope has never been anything more than a human marketing strategy, a product. This year's iPhone. "Yes we can"? Merely the first three words of a longer phrase: "Yes we can continue to work, consume, and obey authority without question."  
 
 
In election news, December sixth, Louisiana's second district elects someone to the US House.  Kimberly Wilder (On The Wilder Side) notes this article on candidate Malik Rehim's recent award and click here for a message from Malik.
 
Public broadcasting notes. First up NOW on PBS this week looks at the role of credit ratings agencies in the economic meltdown.  The program begins airing tonight on most PBS stations, check local listings, as does Washington Week which finds Gwen sitting down with four including the New York Times' Helene Cooper, Ceci Connolly (Washington Post) and NBC's Pete Williams. Staying with TV but turning to commercial TV, CBS' 60 Minutes offers Scott Pelly examing an assualt "on a facility containing weapons-grade uranium," Bob Simon on foreign widows of US citizens being ordered to leave "because their husbands died" and Lesley Stahl reports on Rex Lewis-Clack ("a musical savant born blind and mentally impaired who, at 13 years old now, is making remarkable strides despite doctors' prediction."
 
Public broadcasting heads up radio. WBAI Sunday, Monday and Wednesday:

Sunday, November 16, 11am-noon
THE NEXT HOUR
Andrew Andrew prove two opinions more mindbending than one.


Monday, November 24, 2-3pm
Cat Radio Cafe
Author/editor Nelson W. Aldrich, Jr. on "George, Being George," an
oral history of literary legend George Plimpton; novelist Arthur Nerseian
on "The Sacrficial Circumcision of the Bronx," second of The
Five Books of Moses series based on urban terrorist Robert Moses;
andJordan Roth of Jujamcyn Theatres announces Givenik.com, a new way
to get discounted theatre tickets while saving the world. Hosted by Janet Coleman
and David Dozer.


Wednesday, November 26, 2-3pm
CCCP: THE MONTHLY LAUGHING NIGHTMARE
Satire with brand new boxing gloves for the new guys and more ground
glass
for the old guys. With transition team Janet Coleman, David
Dozer, John McDonagh, Marc Kehoe, Scooter, Moogy Klingman, Paul
Fischer
, The Capitol Steps, Prince Fari and the great Will Durst.

Broadcasting at WBAI/NY 99.5 FM
Streaming live at WBAI
Archived at Cat Radio Cafe
 

Iraq and NYT's tabloidish ways

Separately, Abdulbasit Turki Saeed, the president of Iraq's Board of Supreme Audit, responded Thursday to public criticism surrounding the dismissals of anticorruption monitors, known as inspectors general, in Iraqi government ministries.
"There are some changes in the inspectors general, which were made in accordance with reports on the offices' performance," Mr. Saeed said.
"It's not a personal issue," he added. "Some offices are competent and some are not. That's why there was some changeover for the less competent."


The above is from Katherine Zoepf's "Iraqi Who Captured G.I. Is Dead, U.S. Says" in this morning's New York Times. We're not interested in the 'US military says' aspect indicated by the headline, if you are use the link. I'm going back and forth on this next thing but it's ticked me off so it's going in here. I know Angelina Jolie and have for many years (long before she was an adult). I've defended her here at this site from slams and smears by McClatchy and the New York Times. So we'll go back to that today and ask: Who the hell cares what People magazine agrees to or does not agree to? Does someone mistake People for the Washington Post?

It's a journalism story (if sourced or backed up with more than whispers) that People allegedly agreed to hand over editorial decisions to Angelina as part of a deal to obtain baby photos. But even then, the story is not Angelina. Any concessions she gets from the press (already on their knees begging) have to do with journalism, not with an actress. It's a story (if true) of a supine press. [From their knees to their back, like good little doggies, they know how to roll over.] Brooks Barnes writes the story and it's not one even a parent can take pride in. Again, Barnes' target should be a journalistic outlet allegedly handing over editorial control. Instead it's the paper's chance to rip apart Angelina with little jabs about her "clan" -- family. She's built a family. It's an insulting article and it's appalling journalism.

But the reason we're mentioning it is not just because for Barnes' article to have any merit, the focus needs to be People magazine and not Angelina, but also because it is on the front page.

The New York Times thinks People may have handed over control (again) of its magazine to a celebrity in order to garner access. And this is on the front page? Of the main news section? Now we know Iraq's not making the front page. But flip to A6 where you'll find Mark Mazzetti's "Key Data Held Back In Inquiry, C.I.A. Says" which opens with:

An internal investigation by the Central Intelligence Agency has found that the agency withheld cruical information from federal investigators who spent years trying to determine whether C.I.A. officers committed crimes related to the accidental downing of a missionary plane in Peru in 2001.
The August 2008 report by John L. Helgerson, the C.I.A.'s inspector general, could lead the Justice Department to reopen its investigation into the shooting, examining in particular whether senior C.I.A. officers obstructed justice or lied to Congress by burying details about the incident and the C.I.A.'s broader counternarcotics program.


That's buried on A6 but the smear job, the attack on Angelina is on the front page. Again, if People agreed to what the article maintains, that's got nothing to do with Angelia who holds no degree in journalism and is not required to operate under any press ethic. It does have to do with People. Regardless, it's not front page news and that's even if if the two gossips who ran to the paper had been willing to go on record. Barnes should be very careful because that is an attack on Angelina and it's those sort of 'reports' that destroy access and when access dries up, careers do as well. And the Times, having down-sized in size, appears determined to down-size in substance as well as it continues to ape the New York Post.

Xinhua notes Baghdad roadside bombings have claimed 3 lives and left nineteen injured so far today.

H. Josef Herbert (AP) notes the six winners of the International Press Freedom Award (Committee to Protect Journalism):

Honoring:

Bilal Hussein Associated Press photographer, Iraq
Danish Karokhel and Farida Nekzad,
Pajhwok Afghanistan News executives, Afghanistan

Andrew Mwenda, managing editor, The Independent, Uganda,
Hector Maseda Gutiérrez, imprisoned reporter, Cuba

Burton Benjamin Award:

Beatrice Mtetwa, media lawyer, Zimbabwe



Herbert notes of Bilal:

The committee also had been among those who had pressed for the release of AP photographer Bilal Hussein, winner of a Pulitzer Prize in 2005 for his news photography, including the fighting in Fallujah and Ramadi. Hussein was on assignment and did not attend the news conference.

Steven Hurst, former AP bureau chief in Baghdad, said Hussein was taken into custody and held for more than two years without charges. "He did nothing but his job as a photographer in a war zone," said Hurst, adding that the military evidently "didn't like the story that was being told by his pictures."

The awards are presented Tuesday in ceremonies that Gwen Ifill will preside over and presenters include Richard Engel (NBC), Christiane Amanpour (CNN) and Harry Smith (CBS News).



Megan notes Mickey Z's "Obama and the Great Depression" (Information Clearing House):

No, I don't mean that Great Depression. I'm talking about the inevitable moment -- maybe next week, maybe next year -- when the Kool Aid wears off and the Obamatrons wake up to realize their hero offers nothing even approximating hope or change.
The carefully calculated speeches -- which have always been filled with empty, hollow phrases—will no longer soothe a battered and desperate populace and the Obamabots will suddenly recognize that the Pope of Hope has never been anything more than a human marketing strategy, a product. This year's iPhone. "Yes we can"? Merely the first three words of a longer phrase: "Yes we can continue to work, consume, and obey authority without question."


Kimberly Wilder (On The Wilder Side) notes this article on Malik Rehim's recent award and click here for a message from Malik who is running for Congress and the vote takes place December 6th.

2008 Campaign Videos

The Green Party explains:

Greens focus on electing Malik Rahim, Louisiana Green Party candidate for the US House on Dec. 6

Greens focus on electing Malik Rahim, Louisiana Green Party candidate for the US House on Dec. 6

GREEN PARTY OF THE UNITED STATES
http://www.gp.org

For Immediate Release:
Monday, November 17, 2008

Contacts:
Scott McLarty, Media Coordinator, 202-518-5624, cell 202-904-7614, mclarty@greens.org
Starlene Rankin, Media Coordinator, 916-995-3805, starlene@gp.org
Christian Roselund, Media Contact for the Malik Rahim campaign, 504-905-5676, c.roselund@gmail.com http://www.votemalik.com

Rahim, co-founder of the Common Ground Collective, receives Thomas Merton Award for his relief work in the aftermath of Katrina

Video clip: Rahim's keynote speech at the Green Party's 2008 National Convention, July 12 in Chicago http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=7226475852159421918


WASHINGTON, DC -- Green Party leaders are focusing on the campaign to elect Malik Rahim, Louisiana Green candidate for the US House in New Orleans (District 2) (http://www.votemalik.com), urging local and national support and assistance for Mr. Rahim.

The election for the 2nd District US House seat will take place on December 6 instead of November 4 because of election delays caused by Hurricanes Gustave and Ike. District 2 is currently represented by William Jefferson, who is facing trial on 16 counts of corruption.

"Malik Rahim is more than just a welcome change from Rep. Jefferson and the corrupt political culture he represents. New Orleans voters have a chance to elect a hero who organized thousands of Common Ground volunteers to provide food, health care, and other basic services to hurricane victims in the wake of Hurricane Katrina," said Jody Grage, treasurer of the Green Party of the United States. "We're encouraging Greens and friends all over the US to donate to his campaign, and those who can get to New Orleans to work on his campaign."

Mr. Rahim is co-founder of the Common Ground Collective (http://www.commongroundrelief.org), an organization that provides short-term relief to victims of hurricane disasters in the Gulf Coast region. Mr. Rahim is a former Black Panther and ran for New Orleans City Council in 2002 as a Green Party candidate.

On November 12, Malik Rahim received the Thomas Merton Award (http://www.thomasmertoncenter.org) for his work in community organizing and providing relief in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Under Mr. Rahim's leadership, the Common Ground Collective opened the first free health clinic in the city of New Orleans, helped reopen schools, gutted over 3,000 homes that needed repair in the Ninth Ward of New Orleans, and provided direct services to nearly 200,000 returning residents.

Malik Rahim's political agenda include support for a national health care program (with an endorsement of HR676, 'The United States National Health Insurance Act'), federal money to rebuild the Gulf Coast region's healthcare infrastructure, federally funded Category 5 flood protection, and comprehensive storm protection by maintaining and preserving ecosystem services, including rebuilding the region's cypress swamps.


MORE INFORMATION

Green Party of the United States http://www.gp.org
202-319-7191, 866-41GREEN
Fax 202-319-7193
Running tally of Green election victories http://www.gp.org/2008-elections/election-results.html
Green candidate news http://www.gp.org/2008-elections/candidate-news.php
Green candidate database for 2008 and other campaign information: http://www.gp.org/elections.shtml
Green Party News Center http://www.gp.org/newscenter.shtml
Green Party Speakers Bureau http://www.gp.org/speakers
Green Party ballot access page http://www.gp.org/2008-elections

Cynthia McKinney/Rosa Clemente 'Power to the People' Campaign for the White House
http://www.runcynthiarun.org
http://votetruth08.com
http://www.rosaclemente.com


~ END ~

Public broadcasting notes. First up NOW on PBS this week:

What role did the credit rating agencies play in the current economic crisis? This week, a former managing director at Standard & Poor's speaks out on U.S. television for the first time about how he was pressured to compromise standards in a push for profits. Frank Raiter reveals what was really going on behind closed doors at the credit rating agencies the public relies on to evaluate the safety of their investments.

"During this period, profit was primary; analytics were secondary," Raiter tells NOW Senior Correspondent Maria Hinojosa.

Who was watching the watchers? Surprising new revelations about the economic debacle, this week on NOW.

Selected E-Mails and Documents from our Investigation
Confidential Presentation to Moody's Board of Directors (pdf),
October 2007—by Raymond W. McDaniel, Chairman and CEO, Moody's Corporation. McDaniel describes a topic he calls "Erosion by Persuasion" in which "Analysts and MDs [managing directors] are continually "pitched" by bankers, issuers, investors—all with reasonable arguments—whose views can color credit judgment, sometimes ... "we 'drink the kool-aid.'"

A Standard & Poor's internal email (pdf) from December 2006, in which an employee states: "rating agencies continue to create [an] even bigger monster - the CDO [collateralized debt obligation] market. Let's hope we are all wealthy and retired by the time this house of cards falters."

In an Instant Message exchange (pdf), an S&P employee in the structured finance division writes: "It could be structured by cows and we would rate it."

Further emails, documents and testimony are available from The Committee on Oversight and Government Reform hearing "Credit Rating Agencies and the Financial Crisis," as is video of the hearing.

White Paper on Rating Competition and Structured Finance
by Jerome Fons, a former Moody's Exec who testified at the "Credit Rating Agencies and the Financial Crisis" hearing. Fons argues that the credit rating agencies have a conflict of interest inherent in their business model, and considers alternatives.

The program begins airing tonight on most PBS stations, check local listings, as does Washington Week which finds Gwen sitting down with four including the New York Times' Helene Cooper, Ceci Connolly (Washington Post) and NBC's Pete Williams. Staying with TV but turning to commercial TV, CBS' 60 Minutes offers the following on Sunday:

Assault On Pelindaba
Scott Pelley investigates the boldest assault ever on a facility containing weapons-grade uranium -- a still-unsolved crime that could have had calamitous consequences.
For Better Or Worse
Foreigners who marry Americans are entitled to become permanent residents of the U.S., but in a stricter post-9/11 world, hundreds of widows are being asked to leave the country because their husbands died – even some whose children were born in the U.S. Bob Simon reports.
Rex
Lesley Stahl catches up with Rex Lewis-Clack, a musical savant born blind and mentally impaired who, at 13 years old now, is making remarkable strides despite doctors' predictions. | Watch Video

60 Minutes has been scoring record ratings of late.

Public broadcasting heads up radio. WBAI Sunday, Monday and Wednesday:

Sunday, November 16, 11am-noon
THE NEXT HOUR
Andrew Andrew prove two opinions more mindbending than one.


Monday, November 24, 2-3pm
Cat Radio Cafe
Author/editor Nelson W. Aldrich, Jr. on "George, Being George," an
oral history of literary legend George Plimpton; novelist Arthur Nerseian
on "The Sacrficial Circumcision of the Bronx," second of The
Five Books of Moses series based on urban terrorist Robert Moses;
andJordan Roth of Jujamcyn Theatres announces Givenik.com, a new way
to get discounted theatre tickets while saving the world. Hosted by Janet Coleman
and David Dozer.


Wednesday, November 26, 2-3pm
CCCP: THE MONTHLY LAUGHING NIGHTMARE
Satire with brand new boxing gloves for the new guys and more ground
glass
for the old guys. With transition team Janet Coleman, David
Dozer, John McDonagh, Marc Kehoe, Scooter, Moogy Klingman, Paul
Fischer
, The Capitol Steps, Prince Fari and the great Will Durst.

Broadcasting at WBAI/NY 99.5 FM
Streaming live at WBAI
Archived at Cat Radio Cafe

Stan's "Movies, Lauren Bacall, and more" went up last night and, swiping from his site Oh Boy It Never Ends, other community posts:



The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com.


the new york times
katherine zoepf

mickey z.
kimberly wilder
 60 minutes
 cbs news

 wbai
 cat radio cafe
 janet coleman
 david dozer
 washington week

 now on pbs
 pbs



thomas friedman is a great man






oh boy it never ends

The treaty (and the Sunni MP cave)

In exasperation, Parliament Speaker Mashaadani, flanked by bodyguards, adjourned the Parliament until today. The footage painted the Sadrists as creating a combative atmosphere.
On Thursday, no fighting broke out and lawmakers approved a second reading of the law. It needs to go to a third reading before a vote.


That's from the Los Angeles Times' Middle East blog Babylon & Beyond's "This SOFA is no love seat." And not only is the title a pun, a Three Stooges reference is made in the first sentence of the blog post. As you can see the journalistic institution of the Los Angeles Times takes issues very, very seriously.

Let's move over to the Times of New York because a friend with the State Dept has already phoned this morning to say, "Told you so." (And friends at State did tell me so.) Campbell Robertson and Stephen Farrell offer "In Baghdad, Debating Post-U.S. Outlook"


"To be clear, it is not the treaty that is the problem," said Aala Maki, a senior member of the Iraqi Islamic Party, a Sunni party that has suggested it might not vote for approval. "What will be built on the treaty, that is the problem."
[. . .]
But the Sunnis, and others, are worried that the agreement will leave too much power to Mr. Maliki's government, given that only two years ago elements of the government-run Iraqi police force were functionally little more than Shiite death squads.
The major Sunni parties, after several days of mixed messages, have largely come together and demanded a series of guarantees from the government and the Americans in return for their support. This list of demands, which they gave to Mr. Maliki on Thursday, includes amnesty for most Sunni detainees in American custody, more Sunnis in government agencies and widespread reform of the Iraqi security forces.

To be clear, the Sunni MPs are attempting to line their pockets and offering token resistance.

Noted here Wednesday:

What a load of crap. Don't get your hopes up re: Sunni objection. Though Tariq Hashimi may veto it, talk of Sunni opposition in the Parliament itself isn't being taken seriously by the US State Dept which sees it as those politicians wanting to be sure to get their "cut of the take". It's common knowledge in Parliament that some members of the cabinet were 'rewarded' (bought off) for their support and friends with the State Dept tell me that Sunni objection in Parliament is nothing but an effort to ensure that the "palm greasing" continues. For that reason, we're not going to pay a great deal of attention to what Sunni lawmakers say this week*. The only real Sunni hope for the death of the treaty is that someone's greed isn't satisfied and they dig in their heels.


The Sunni 'objection' is about the Sunni lawmakers setting their end up. And, yes, the State Dept was correctly reading that.

Shi'ite objection is real (in the Parliament -- Shi'ite, Sunni, et al objection outside of the Parliament is real period).

AP's Hamza Hendawi reports the demonstration Moqtada al-Sadr called last week took place today following prayers in Baghdad and that the Bully Boy of the United States was "burned" in "effigy" "in the same central Baghdad square where [US shipped in exile] Iraqis beat a toppled statue of Saddam Hussein with their sandals five years earlier" and the Bush stand-in was also "pelted . . . with plastic water bottles and sandals" and it "held a sign that said: 'The security agreement . . . shame and humiliation'."

The vote on the treaty masquerading as a SOFA is supposed to be attempted on Monday. Robertson and Farrell note in their article (New York Times):

Even some Kurds, who pledge support for the pact, are concerned about a post-American Iraq. Mahmoud Othman, an independent Kurdish lawmaker, said members of the Kurdish coalition were privately mulling whether to draw up their own list of demands.


Kurds received their concessions ahead of time and apparently are seeing the cash flying around and wanting a little more for their own pockets.

We'll again note this from the American Freedom Campaign:

Does this sound right to you?
Next week, the Iraqi Parliament is expected to vote on whether to approve an agreement setting the terms of the ongoing military relationship between the United States and Iraq. So far, so good. A legislative body, representing the people of a nation, shall determine the extent to which that nation's future will be intertwined with that of another.
Of course, one would expect that the United States Congress would be given the same opportunity. That, however, is not the case. Or at least it is not what the Bush administration is allowing to happen. Shockingly, the Bush administration is not even letting Congress
read the full agreement before it is signed!
We need you to send a message immediately to U.S. House and Senate leaders, urging them to demand the constitutional input and approval to which they are entitled.
The administration has asserted that the agreement between the U.S. and Iraq is merely a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) and therefore does not require congressional approval. Yet the agreement goes far beyond the traditional limits of a SOFA, which typically set the terms for bringing materials and equipment into a nation and outline the legal procedures that will apply to members of the military who are accused of crimes.
Believe it or not, the current agreement contains terms that will actually give Iraq a measure of control over U.S. forces. No foreign nation or international entity has ever been given the authority to direct U.S. forces without prior congressional approval - either through a majority vote of both chambers or a two-thirds vote in the Senate in the case of treaties.
If this agreement goes into effect without congressional approval, it will establish a precedent under which future presidents can exercise broad unilateral control over the U.S. military - and even give foreign nations control over our troops.
Congress must take immediate action. Unfortunately, they are about to adjourn for at least a couple of weeks. But it is not too late for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to make a statement, signaling their strong belief that Congress will not be bound by and need not fund an agreement that has not been approved by Congress.
Please send an E-mail encouraging such action to Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Reid immediately by clicking on the following link:
http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/2165/t/1027/campaign.jsp?campaign_KEY=26268
This is truly a dire situation and we hope that you will join us in calling for action.
Thank you.
Steve Fox

Campaign Director
American Freedom Campaign Action Fund


On the treaty, AP's Matthew Lee reports:

Pentagon and State Department officials notified companies that provide contract employees, like Blackwater Worldwide, Dyncorp International, Triple Canopy and KBR, of the changes on Thursday as the Iraqi parliament continues contentious debate on a security deal that will govern the presence of American forces in Iraq after January.
That so-called Status of Forces, or SOFA, agreement, which gives the Iraqi government only limited jurisdiction over U.S. troops and Defense Department civilians, excludes Defense Department contractors, two officials said.



The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com.


the new york times
campbell robertson
 stephen farrell
the los angeles times
american freedom campaign

Thursday, November 20, 2008

I Hate The War

Jessie is a friend,
Yeah I know hes been a good friend of mine
But lately somethings changed
It ain't hard to define
Jessies got himself a girl
And I want to make her mine . . .

Some of you will already recognize the Rick Springfield written and performed number one hit "Jessie's Girl." It pertains to this entry. We're talking about the treaty masquerading as the Status Of Forces Agreement that the White House wishes to put in place with their client state regime in Baghdad. It is a treaty, it is not a SOFA.

People in the press are going goo-goo-gaa-gaa like overgrown infants (some actually are overgrown infants) over how there will be withdrawal in 2011! The contract is not about 2011. As we pointed out Sunday and Monday, the contract is about 2009. December 31st of this year, the UN mandate authorizing the occupation ends. It is either renewed or else there needs to be some form of agreement worked out by individual countries with the puppet government in Baghdad.

The treaty exists to extend the occupation of Iraq. It does not exist for some noble, high-minded reason. But doesn't the press pretend otherwise? The same way they did when they sold the illegal war and pretended it was about something high-minded, about helping the Iraqi people or about WMDs or something really important!

It wasn't and neither is the treaty. Idiots in the press have pimped it hard -- far too many editorial boards to name in full (but best in show goes for the dog the Los Angeles Times offered up). Some are idiots, some are lying.

The treaty only officially runs one year. It is not a three year treaty unless both sides decide it will be. (It actually could be forced/played as a three-year treaty on Barack's administration by the puppet government but I don't think they have that skill or talent. I could be wrong and often am. But the current administration shares my belief or else they wouldn't keep writing al-Maliki's speeches for him, now would they?)

Rick Springfield. Yes, there is a way to relate the two. The US-Iraq treaty is a one year treaty with two pick-up options. They may or may not be picked up. The treaty is for 2009.

Rick Springfield was a recording artist back in the seventies. Many years later, he recorded what would become Working Class Dog (the highly talented Keith Olson worked on that project). Before it was released, he ended up on General Hospital playing Dr. Noah Drake. While playing the character, "Jessie's Girl" came out and was a huge hit. "I've Done Everything For You" would follow. (The best vocal was "Carried Away" for any Springfield fans out there.) As the follow up was being worked on, a friend at RCA was telling me the big rollout they had planned, the tour, the promotion and I asked, "Well how's he going to get time off for that?" He signed a one-year contract.

Well, yeah, but it's not that simple and I explained it. Did it register? Apparently not. Months later, the same friend's calling me as the tour dates are getting closer and I again ask what about the contract fpr GH? It's not an issue, I'm told. It's not an issue and TV Guide just did an article on Rick and they repeated he was leaving the show so it's true.

Excuse the ___ out of me? Since when does anyone in the entertainment industry ever believe that the reporters do their own work? TV Guide printed what RCA and Springfield told them. They certainly didn't talk to ABC. But fine, whatever, you can't tell some people anything.

But, uh-oh, Rick Springfield's gearing up to leave the daytime drama when he's informed (by ABC) he's not leaving.

He had a one-year contract, yes. With an option for a renewal. And Rick wrongly thought the option was his option. No, it doesn't work that way and it never did. ABC would never sign any actor and give them an option that would allow the actor to say "I think I will do another year." They'd never be able to let go half the losers they've hired. The option was on ABC's side, ABC could exercise it or not. And the network would do so if the performer was playing a popular character. Noah was a popular character.

Rick Springfield did not end up leaving General Hospital that year. ABC exercised the option and he continued to work on the series. He had to bust his ass on the weekends (which often started Thursday night) to try to the scheduled tour as best as possible (many dates were rescheduled since he couldn't perform mid-week). It was a headache for him, it was a headache for RCA.

Rick singed a one-year contract. It had an option. ABC picked up the option.

The treaty being passed off as a SOFA is a one-year contract with two pick-up options. If neither side elects to drop out in 2010 ro 2011, options could turn it into a three year contract. But it's really just a one-year contract. So all this talk of what happens in 2011? It's nonsense.
Imagine Springfield had flopped as Noah and Working Class Dog hadn't taken off. If he'd gone around thinking he had a two-year contract for General Hospital, he would have been very shocked if the soap had dropped him when the one-year contract ran out.

The treaty masquerading as a SOFA is a one-year contract. 2010 and 2011 are options. They are not set in stone. When either party can cancel out -- on one year's notice -- you can't point to what MIGHT happen in 2011 as guaranteed by a contract. That's insanity. The contract, if approved, only covers 2009. That's because the one-year notice doesn't allow either party's cancellation to make it end in 2009. (Example: If Barack wanted to cancel it the day he was sworn in as president, January 20, 2009, and immediately gave notice, the contract would still run until January 20, 2010.) Focusing on what might happen if both parties decide to pick up the option for 2010 and 2011 isn't focusing on what the contract, if approved, promises.

The press is counting the chickens before they're hatched and trying to sell the treaty to the American public on things that are not guaranteed.

The same WMD wasn't guaranteed but the illegal war was sold on them. The press needs to deal with the concrete. The concrete of the treaty is, if passed, 2009 is the only year that is a given and even then there are differences between the Arabic version and the White House version (which is probably why the White House refuses to release it to the American people).

Want to make a difference? Kendrick notes this from American Freedom Campaign:

Does this sound right to you?
Next week, the Iraqi Parliament is expected to vote on whether to approve an agreement setting the terms of the ongoing military relationship between the United States and Iraq. So far, so good. A legislative body, representing the people of a nation, shall determine the extent to which that nation's future will be intertwined with that of another.
Of course, one would expect that the United States Congress would be given the same opportunity. That, however, is not the case. Or at least it is not what the Bush administration is allowing to happen. Shockingly, the Bush administration is not even letting Congress
read the full agreement before it is signed!
We need you to send a message immediately to U.S. House and Senate leaders, urging them to demand the constitutional input and approval to which they are entitled.
The administration has asserted that the agreement between the U.S. and Iraq is merely a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) and therefore does not require congressional approval. Yet the agreement goes far beyond the traditional limits of a SOFA, which typically set the terms for bringing materials and equipment into a nation and outline the legal procedures that will apply to members of the military who are accused of crimes.
Believe it or not, the current agreement contains terms that will actually give Iraq a measure of control over U.S. forces. No foreign nation or international entity has ever been given the authority to direct U.S. forces without prior congressional approval - either through a majority vote of both chambers or a two-thirds vote in the Senate in the case of treaties.
If this agreement goes into effect without congressional approval, it will establish a precedent under which future presidents can exercise broad unilateral control over the U.S. military - and even give foreign nations control over our troops.
Congress must take immediate action. Unfortunately, they are about to adjourn for at least a couple of weeks. But it is not too late for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to make a statement, signaling their strong belief that Congress will not be bound by and need not fund an agreement that has not been approved by Congress.
Please send an E-mail encouraging such action to Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Reid immediately by clicking on the following link:
http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/2165/t/1027/campaign.jsp?campaign_KEY=26268
This is truly a dire situation and we hope that you will join us in calling for action.
Thank you.
Steve Fox

Campaign Director
American Freedom Campaign Action Fund

Rebecca's noted this and also commented so be sure to check out her post. And just to be clear, this entry is not to mak fun of Rick Springfield. I barely knew him but he was a nice person. He also was talented and if he hadn't worn himself out doing the soap and national tours (and existing on Vitamin B shots), his string of hits might have gone longer. I have no ill will towards Rick and am not including him in this entry to have a ha-ha at him. He had an agent, for example, and the agent's job was to explain to him the contract he signed. He had an attorney (ditto). RCA didn't understand acting contracts and that was their bad (including my friend who should have immediately picked up the phone and called RCA's legal dept which would have grapsed what Rick has signed). And it may have been a two-year contract with an option (for ABC) and not a one-year. That was a long, long time ago and my only involvement is documented above (warning my friend -- who wouldn't listen and just knew everything -- that the ABC contract's option was in the network's favor, not Rick's).

This was the issue we've talked about repeatedly re: the contract. A 'three-year' contract that allows either party to cancel out the second or third year is not a three year contract. It is a one-year contract with two pick-up options.

That was the point in the snapshot today: From American Friends Service Committee's translation of the Arabic version (which, remember, is different than the English version that the White House refuses to publicly release -- and this morning the State Dept's Sean McCormick referred questions of its release to the American people back to the White House, FYI):

Article Thirty
Contract Validity
1 - This agreement is valid for three years unless it is terminated earlier by either parties in accordance with paragraph 3 of this article.
[. . .]
3 - Cancellation of this agreement requires a written notice provided one year in advance.


That third section, does no one understand contract law? What you have is a one-year agreement with two options for renewal (it's automatically renewed if no one cancels). It's a one-year contract. Were a performer to sign it, he or she would be signing a one year contract with two pick-up options. This isn't a three-year contract at all. And since either side can cancel it at any point with only a year's heads up, what it says will happen in 2011 really doesn't matter. All that really matters is what it says for 2009 because that's the only period that both sides are bound to. This isn't some deep, obscure psuedo-science. It's basic contract law. It is a one-year contract covering only 2009. After 2009, it can be renewed for 2010 just by not announcing an intent to depart from the contract and, if it is renewed, it can run through 2011 in the same manner. But this is not a three-year contract.

It's over, I'm done writing songs about love
There's a war going on
So I'm holding my gun with a strap and a glove
And I'm writing a song about war
And it goes
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Oh oh oh oh
-- "I Hate The War" (written by Greg Goldberg, on The Ballet's Mattachine!)

Last Thursday, ICCC's number of US troops killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war was 4197. Tonight? 4201. That's incorrect. The death noted in the snapshot today (announced by MNF) is not included in the tally. So it's actually at least 4202 currently. Just Foreign Policy lists 1,288,426 as the number of Iraqis killed isnce the start of the illegal war, up from 1,284,105.


The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com.




rick springfield
american freedom campaign
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