Wednesday, January 28, 2009

al-Maliki's latest attempt to bribe

Peter Graff and Aseel Kami (Reuters) report that voting in Iraq's provincial elections (fourteen of the eighteen provinces are holding elections) officially begins Saturday but early voting has started for "soldiers, police, prisoners and displaced people". Sticking with the elections, yesterday's snapshot included this, "Monte Morin (Los Angeles Times) reports that Nouri al-Malik (of all people) has warned that no one should 'corrupt the elections by buying votes'." The puppet of the occupation is attempting to make the provincial elections all about him and he is attempting to buy votes. In today's New York Times, Campbell Robertson offers "Iraqi Journalists Face Clash of Principles and Entitlements: Free Press vs. Free Land"* which includes that al-Maliki -- the notoriously anti-free press al-Maliki -- met with reporters yesterday to tell them they may get free land or cheap land ("a nominal price"). As Robertson notes:

His timing, a month before provincial elections, as well as his admonition to journalists to focus on stories of progress and reconstruction, might be seen as an attempt to buy favorable news coverage.

"Admonition"? Robertson's being very, very kind. Nouri tried to get reporters -- foreign and domestic -- to sing a contract and if they violated his 'feel-good-news' edict, they would be fined. Not only did he do that, he tried to pass it off as UNAMI's wishes. Those were never the wishes of UNAMI. He pushed that on a Friday (Kim Gamel of AP was the first to cover the contract) and it had fallen apart by the following Sunday (including the cover story that UNAMI wanted the contract). That is only one example in his long, long history of attacks on the press. A more recent example would of course be Muntadhar al-Zeidi -- the Iraqi journalist who was beaten and tortured for tossing two shoes. Muntadhar remains in prison and never doubt that's where al-Maliki would like to put all the press. The contract's only a surprise to those who weren't paying attention in July of 2006 when al-Maliki launched his first attack on the press or who didn't notice how much more violent al-Maliki's thugs were. It's when al-Maliki takes over that there's no pretense about physically going after journalists. Whether it's the photographer they insisted was an insurgent or aiming a gun at two reporters for the New York Times and pulling the trigger (the chamber was empty, it was a 'joke'). al-Maliki has fostered disrespect and loathing for the press because that's how he feels and those feelings festered when he was living in Syria and Iran where his rages against the press were fairly well known. Though largely confined to the press in Syria and Iran, he was also known to pop off about the press in the country he'd fled (Iraq) and how if he could control the press, he'd be as powerful as Saddam. Since being installed as the puppet, al-Maliki has attempted to do just that.

His attacks on the press are nothing new nor is his attempt to buy the voters. No one knows how the elections will turn out but it would certainly be poetic if the results could be seen as a rejection of al-Maliki.

Back to the article, Robertson explores the greed of the reporters (I'm using "greed," Robertson doesn't) who want land and offer reasons to justify it and to pretend that their taking the land would have no influence on their actions. Think of a Panhandle Media type in this country who refused to cover Ralph Nader or Cynthia McKinney's run, who spent the Democratic Party primaries elevating Barack and ripping apart Hillary. The creep wanted to deny what he had done and what he was doing. Even wanted to bicker with Ruth over how a media analyst ignores sexism. Now everyone knows (or should) that PIG was making a film on Barack the whole time. In other words, PIG would profit if he had a feel-good ending. Just like Amy Goodman avoided calling out Barack for anything in the lead up to the inauguration because she was attempting to unload ball tickets for a thousand dollars a pop.

So don't make the mistake of thinking it's just some Iraqi reporters who can't grasp the need for a strict ethical code (of their own, not government imposed). It's as true in this country. And you better believe if the beggars of Panhandle Media thought they could get free land, they'd be all over Pacifica Radio telling you why it was the right thing to do and the best thing in the world for democracy.

The need for ethics and the inability of many to impose their own is why outlets like the New York Times put their own policies into writing. Pacifia Radio operates with no ethics (and when anyone has a valid complaint at Pacifica, the response is to attempt to smear the whistleblower, usually with charges of sexual harassment). But honestly, PBS isn't operating with any either which has the CPB highly concerned. The example the CPB points to is Melissa Harris Lacewell who was brought on various PBS programs in 2007 where she would brag about the work she was doing on Barack Obama's campaign -- which included East Coast Melissa traveling -- with daughter -- to Los Angeles to campaign for Barack. Somehow Charlie Rose felt Melissa was just the person to have on his show in March. For a journalistic roundtable on the primaries that day. Even though all the guests were journalists except . . . Melissa who isn't a journalist. Even though none of the other guests were part of any candidate's political campaign. Even though Charlie Rose and Melissa Harris Lacewell 'forgot' to tell PBS viewers that Melissa Harris Lacewell was part of Barack Obama's campaign.

It was really cute to watch Melissa snarl at the other guests about how they didn't get it. Journalists didn't get it, snarled Melissa. The whore for Barack wanted to lecture journalists and Charlie Rose let her. And never set the record straight. And the CPB is FURIOUS about that and FURIOUS about the failure of the internal checks and balances that are supposed to be built into PBS.

The little stunt, for those who missed it, contained an attack on PBS personality Tavis Smiley which also violated several guidelines including the fact that Melissa Harris Lacewell brought up, without prompting, that some people were upset with Tavis. During what followed, Melissa forgot to mention that she started the attacks on Tavis with her much reposted online essay "Who Died And Made Tavis King?"

She has no ethics and when some ass -- like Bill Moyers last Friday -- brings her back on, it just stirs the CPB up all over again. So if there's an 'attack' (the board doing their job) on Moyers and others in the near future, remember, they brought it on themselves and PBS on air is pretty much out of control at this point. The written standards are not being followed and punishments for ethical violations are not being handed out.

So don't read Campbell Robertson's article and think, "Those Iraqis! Why can't they understand the need for journalism ethics!" It's not as if the US has managed to be a shining example there itself.

(If you're new to LIE FACE Melissa Harris Lacewell, Ava and I covered her antics with Charlie Rose last March here, we covered her antics on Democarcy Now! -- two apperances in two weeks, one as a disinterested analysts, followed by her 'I am part of Barack's campaign!' screaming attempt to start a catfight with Gloria Steinem -- here and we covered the embarrassment on Moyers last Friday here.)

Martha passed on this from American Freedom Campaign:

While we may have a new president dedicated to reversing some of the worst abuses of the Bush administration, there is at least one unconstitutional executive power President Obama is trying to protect. Congress must take action to ensure that the power to sign international agreements related to military activities does not rest solely in the hands of the executive branch.
Please take two minutes to tell your U.S. representative to co-sponsor a resolution declaring the recently signed U.S.-Iraq agreement merely advisory in nature unless it is submitted to Congress for approval. Just
use the following link to take action:
We cannot emphasize enough the importance of this issue. As things currently stand, the Bush administration deemed the U.S.-Iraq agreement a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), a type of agreement that has always been used to establish basic legal standards related to the presence of the U.S. military in another nation. SOFAs do not require congressional approval. But the U.S.-Iraq agreement goes well beyond the traditional boundaries of a SOFA, dictating how long the U.S. military will stay in Iraq (up to three years at a possible cost of $10 billion per month) and even giving Iraq a measure of control over U.S. troops.
As the Obama administration seems satisfied with the current agreement, it may be tempting for members of Congress to leave well enough alone and move on to other matters. Part of the feeling, especially among Democrats, may be that the agreement is the best we are going to get at this point so there is no need to reopen the debate. But this misses the entire point.
If nothing is done today, then President Romney, President Palin, or - god forbid - President Cheney may sign a far-reaching "SOFA" of their own with Iran in 2014 or 2018. That may seem far off in the distance now, but in the span of this nation's history, nine years is nothing. This agreement, if Congress is not included in the process, will set a strong precedent for future presidents to cite. They will be able to say that congressional approval is not required for these kinds of agreements and will point to 2009 as their justification.
Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) has introduced a resolution (H.Res. 72) expressing the sense of the House that the U.S.-Iraq agreement will be considered merely advisory in nature absent congressional approval. Such action is needed to force President Obama to seek approval from Congress. Please click on
the following link to urge your U.S. representative to co-sponsor this critically important piece of legislation:
Once you have sent your message, please forward this email widely to friends and family. In the alternative, you can use the "Tell-A-Friend" option on the AFC Web site that will appear after you have sent your message.
Thank you so much for taking action.
Steve Fox

Campaign Director
American Freedom Campaign Action Fund

At the Times of London Inside Iraq, Deborah Haynes explains travel in Iraq:

A meeting with a group of African-Iraqis in a town south of Basra had run overtime after they invited me to stay for lunch. As a result our planned departure shifted from midday to 1.30pm, meaning that at least three hours of the journey would take place in darkness. My two drivers were slightly ill-at-ease, but sportingly pushed on. The other option would have been to spend yet another night in Basra.
Dressed in a black headscarf and long black robes, I was counting on the 'local look' to avoid being stopped at any of the many checkpoints along the way. Cars with females onboard are less likely to be vetted. Provided I passed as an Iraqi rather than a foreign reporter we would ride unnoticed back to Baghdad.

By the way, the Black-Iraqis? We've covered that and we'll cover it again. However, drive-bys can stop e-mailing the propaganda. I'm not interested in the New Labour Whores trying to pretend they're really part of an objective press. The Iraqi was made to sound like an idiot to advance New Labour's goals. Whether he's really an idiot or not, I have no idea but it's telling that in a large population segment, they only found one willing to pimp the story they wanted. We're not highlighting their garbage. They're not the press and they aren't honest brokers. If you know the sky is not purple and you print someone saying that because it's what you want to spin, you're using them. When the person clearly has cognitive problems, you're taking advantage of them. By putting the words into that man's mouth, they could (and did) print that lie. And knew if anyone got blamed or held up for ridicule, it would be the Iraqi and not themselves. That's not journalism. But they aren't journalists. If the minutes from Blair's cabinet meetings do come out, it will be very interesting to watch how they try to ignore the minutes -- the same way they ignored the Downing St. Memos. In the US most people who follow Iraq are aware that the Times of London published the Downing St. Memos. They just aren't aware that the Guardian of London refused to cover it. The reason being the Guardian isn't part of the press. It's a party organ for New Labour.

On the issues of Iraq and diplomacy, yesterday's snapshot included:

Yesterday, Iraq's Foreign Minister, Hoshyar Zebari, was in Athens, where he met with Greece's Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis (see photo below from Hellenic Ministry of Foreign Affairs) and prepared for a day of talks on Tuesday to include meeting with the country's Prime Minister, Kostas Karamanlis as well as Dimitris Sioufas, the President of the country's Parliament. Renee Maltezou (Reuters) reports Greece has offered both "financial aid and expertise" to attempt to repair the damange done by the plundering of Iraqi antiquities at the start of the illegal war. Athens News Agency explains, "The establishment of a Greek Economic and Commercial Affairs Office in Iraq was decided on Tuesday during a meeting in Athens between foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis and her Iraqi counterpart Hoshyar Zebari, as well as Greece's assistance in the protection of Iraq's cultural heritage and erecting a statue of Alexander the Great in Gaugamela."


At the briefing following their meeting, Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis declared, "It is with great pleasure that I once again welcome Iraqi Foreign Minister Mr. Hoshyar Zebari to Athens. I am happy that we have the opportunity to host him in Greece once again. And this, of course, underscores and confirms the traditional relations of mutual trust and friendship between the Greek and Iraqi peoples. We had a very substantial discussion on a series of issues of bilateral and broader interest, as well as on developments in the Middle East, of course. Greece has supported Iraq with all its power on a political and economic level so as to stabilize the democracy and the country which has experienced such difficult times in recent years. As you know, we will be opening an trade office in Arbil. We jointly observed that our economic cooperation must be strengthened. At the same time, we agreed that we will intensify our cooperation in the cultural sector. As you know, Iraq's cultural heritage was hard hit by the destruction of ancient sites and artifacts, and Greece, with its particular sensitivity to this issue, will help with know how and financing to rebuild the museums of Iraq. My friend the Minister and I also agreed on the raising of a monument to Alexander the Great in Gavgamila, symbolizing precisely the interaction of cultures in this critical region. In closing, I think it is obvious, but I want to stress this, that Greece is firmly in favour of the unity, independence and territorial integrity of Iraq, and, of course, actively supports its efforts to win a future of stability and development."

Vanessa transcribed the above and e-mailed it. (Thank you, Vanessa, happy to include it.) The e-mail address for this site is
ADDED C.I. note: "*" Campbell Robertson's article did not include the link originally. My apologies. It's been added.