Tuesday, February 17, 2009

AP tries to serve stale, months-old left overs

This AP article, which you can also find here (Washington Post) and here (Los Angeles Times) is ticking people off this morning because it's repeating FALSE claims long ago called out by the New York Times (Alissa J. Rubin and Sam Dagher). Why, wonder twenty-one in e-mails, is an article that's written today repeating things disproven in January? (Specifically the 25% quota which was tossed aside by the Parliament.) Why?

Because Hadeel al-Shalchi hasn't written a real article. He's grabbed *Kim Gamel's AP article from October 6th* (before it was discovered that Parliament had ditched the quotas for women) and written around it. Which is how you get al-Shalchi offering today:

Iraq's constitution provides that men and women have basic legal rights such as voting, owning property and suing in court. But deep differences exist on the role of women in society.

And Gamel offering in October:

The constitution provides that men and women have basic legal rights such as voting and owning property and suing in court. But deep differences exist within Iraqi society over the role of women and of Islam.

Use the links, you'll see that the only difference between the two articles is some new quotes. Today's article leaves out this important point by Gamel:

Under heavy U.S. pressure to promote gender equality, the Iraqis agreed to a 25 percent quota for women in the last elections for parliament and provincial councils, both held in 2005. A law paving the way for the new vote to be held by Jan. 31 maintains that requirement, opening the door for women to make up at least a quarter of the provincial councils.

The Feb. 12th snapshot included: "January 14th, Alissa J. Rubin and Sam Dagher (New York Times) broke the news that although the 25% was supposed to be set aside, it had not been." Is it all too confusing for AP? Rubin and Dagher's article was entitled "Changes in Iraq Election Law Weaken Quota for Women" and here's an excerpt:

A little more than two weeks before Iraq's provincial elections, there is widening anger that the published version of the election law has only a weak provision to set aside seats for women.
Early versions of the law, which governs the election of Iraq's 18 provincial councils, included a firm guarantee that women would have at least 25 percent of the seats -- the same percentage mandated by the Constitution for the numbers of women in Parliament.
In the male-dominated Arab culture, the framers of the Constitution and the Americans who were involved in drafting it thought that the quota was necessary to ensure that women would be represented.
But the provincial election law was changed several times, and the quota language was gone by the time it went to the Presidency Council, whose approval is needed for it to become official. It went back to the Parliament with several unrelated changes and was published in early October. The lack of a strong guarantee for women's council seats has begun to gain widespread attention only in the last few days.

I'm real sorry that grabbing an article AP sent across the wires in October and missing a MAJOR update in January didn't allow for easy cribbing. Maybe next time people can attempt to know the subject that they're allegedly reporting on or is that standard just too high for some to reach?

At the New York Times' Iraq blog, Jehad Nga's photos are featured and Sunday Sam Dagher shared the stories of some Iraqis making the pilgrimage last week.

Yesterday, the US military announced:

BAGHDAD -- Multi-National Force-Iraq (MNF-I) and the Government of Iraq (GOI) reached another milestone Feb. 14 when the total population of detainees in Coalition custody dropped to about 14,500.
This month, Task Force 134 Detainee Operations began releasing an average 50 detainees a day in accordance with the Security Agreement. The signed agreement between the U.S. and the GOI requires all detainees to be released in a safe and orderly manner or transferred to Iraqi custody pursuant to a judicial order.
Those being released this month represent the first group of case files that were reviewed by Iraqi authorities under the Security Agreement.

For those not paying attention, the treaty masquerading as a Status Of Force Agreement stated the US would turn over all prisoners to Iraqi control on January 1, 2009. That didn't happen, now did it? (Last week, Alissa J. Rubin did a post about the prisoners at the New York Times' blog.) But don't worry, obviously the US intends to meet other 'promises,' right? Keep kidding yourself.

Or be a Patrick Cockburn. He's one of the flaming idiots that pimped the SOFA as ending the Iraq War. While one of many on that, he appears to be the only flaming idiot to develop a hard for Nouri al-Maliki and his out of control lust has led to commentaries that could pass for stand up. He's also the topic of an e-mail this morning where it's noted that Sunday's New York Times story "is a subject he's reporting on!" Cockburn's fans are almost as funny as he is. No, he's not reporting a damn thing. He has no information other than what he read in the New York Times. He pimps it but he's done no reporting and we'll stand by what went up here Sunday:

On the front page of today's New York Times, James Glanz, C.J. Chivers and William K. Rashbaum offer "Inquiry On Graft In Iraq Focuses On U.S. Officers." The article might have been better with only one writer and Glanz has covered the beat the longest, so it should have been. Is it possible that military officers, overseeing reconstruction, took bribes? It is very possible. Two names are listed that are under investigation of some form. I'm not interested in naming those two people because I don't see in the article that justifies them being named. That's a very serious charge to make, to assert that while someone was serving in the military, they were also profitting from it, lining their own pockets. It does happen. And the paper's covered one example of it very well -- from investigation on forward -- though they really weren't that when the conviction came in. But I'm looking at this article, reading it over three times and attempting to find a reason why two people -- not charged with anything -- are named? I'm not comfortable including those names here. If they are charged with something, we'll note it and that's different. But it really reads -- rightly or wrongly -- as if prosecutors who can't do their own job are hoping the press will do it for them, are hoping that a conviction can take place via the media and spur their case forward.

I could be wrong on that (and I'm wrong all the time) but that's how it reads to me and I'm not interested in floating the two names here. If you're interested, you can use the link and read the paper's article.

Cockburn runs with the names with no confirmation of his own. What a proud moment for the Independent of London! We're not opposed to covering corruption and certainly not opposed to covering US corruption in Iraq. Unlike the New York Times, when a woman in the military they'd reported on non-stop was finally convicted, we noted it here with links to all the Justice Department's announcements, statements and evidence. The two named in the New York Times article are presented as crooks by Cockburn. The two have been charged with nothing and should they not be charged, they may consider a libel suit against the Independent. They already have grounds to sue because the threshold for libel is not as great in the UK as it is in the US. Cockburn makes a fool out of himself because he's so in love with Nouri. He's convinced US graft will mean Nouri's innocent! Nouri's guilty. Has there been US graft and corruption? Yeah and it's been well documented. There is no doubt more (that doesn't mean the two who are charged with nothing currently are guilty of anything). That doesn't change the fact that Nouri's lining his pockets (the same way the US thefts didn't change the fact that the members of the earlier provisional government stashed millions in UK banks). If the Independent of London had any standards left, they'd have long ago pulled Cockburn who is supposed to be a reporter -- though the 'reports' he churns out resembles columns -- and a reporter so enamored with the foreign ruler of the country he's allegedly covering violates every rule of journalism.

If the two are charged -- or anyone's charged -- we'll be happy to include it. But people like Cockburn never learn anything. They like to lecture about journalism 'ethics' but they're always the first to run with a story that they didn't investigate themselves. They have no concern that innocent people's lives might be destroyed. US prosecutors have repeatedly used the press in the last two decades to 'prosecute' weak cases. "Person of interest" is the relatively new way to use the press to prosecute your case for you. Person of interest is not anyone charged with a damn thing. And you might hope the press would rise up against being used as a tool of the prosecution but then you get people like Patrick Cockburn who don't care about the truth or about guilt or innocence, they just care about anything that advances their propaganda. Patrick's been loose with the facts for some time and his Iraq reporting has been shoddy for some time. He's not a trusted source or even a reliable one -- as he proved when he tried to glom on to the sensationalistic story of the Iraqi women stoned but he had to 'improve' on it by having her lynched. That was your first clue that Cockburn was putting facts low on his totem pole. As Elaine noted then (August 2007):

Cockburn doesn't reassure me of the facts when he writes, "The public lynching of a Yazidi girl who converted to Islam in order to marry her Muslim Kurdish boyfriend led sectarian strife earlier this year." She was stoned. She wasn't lynched. Lynching is with a rope. The woman was stoned. Dua Khalil Aswad was the woman's name.

Dahr Jamail's latest report is "Boys With Toys" (MidEast Dispatches):

It is not the threat of violence that weighs on the people of Iraq. It is the omnipresent occurrence of violence that has resulted in the desperate nation wide chant, "We are tired. All we want is for normal life to return."
Recently, an eight-year-old Iraqi girl was shot by US soldiers when their convoy ran into a crowd of Shiite pilgrims traveling to the holy city of Karbala in southern Iraq.
Sunday, a week ago, three explosions echoed across Baghdad, leaving one person dead and wounding another 20.
The very next day, a suicide car bomber struck a US patrol in the northern city of Mosul, killing four American soldiers and their Iraqi interpreter. It was the single deadliest attack on US forces in nine months. Two days later, an off-duty security guard of Iraqi Vice President Adel Abdul-Mahdi was wounded along with a pedestrian when a bomb attached to his car detonated. On the same day, back in Mosul, a car bomb targeting a police patrol wounded three Iraqi policemen.

Feb. 9th's snapshot included the following:

Turning to the US, labor reporter David Bacon explores the state of unions in an essay at Monthly Review:
Unions in the rest of the world are not simply asking us whether we will stand with them against General Electric, General Motors, or Mitsubishi. They want to know: What is your stand about aggressive wars, military intervention and coups d'état? If we have nothing to say about these things, we will not have the trust and credibility we need to build new relationships of solidarity.
U.S. corporations operating in countries like Mexico and El Salvador are, in some ways, opportunistic. They take advantage of an existing economic system, and make it function to produce profits. They exploit the difference in wages from country to country, and require concessions from governments for setting up factories. But what causes the poverty in El Salvador that they exploit to their advantage? What drives a worker into a factory that, in the United States, we call a sweatshop? What role does U.S. policy play in creating that system of poverty?
Unions need the kind of discussion in which workers try to answer these questions. Labor education is more than technical training in techniques for grievance handling and collective bargaining. It has to be about politics, in the broadest and most radical sense. When unions don't work with their members to develop a framework to answer these questions they become ineffective in fighting about the issues of peace and war, globalization, and their consequences, such as immigration.
When the AFL - CIO campaigned in Washington against the Central American Free Trade Agreement, labor lobbyists went up to Capitol Hill to mobilize pressure on Congress. Some unions went to their local affiliates and asked members to make phone calls and write letters. But what was missing was education at the base. Had unions educated and mobilized their members against the Contra war in Nicaragua, and the counterinsurgency wars in El Salvador and Guatemala (and certainly many activists tried to do that), U.S. workers would have understood CAFTA much more clearly over a decade later. But because there's so little effort to create a conscious, educated union membership, it will be hard to get members to act when labor's Washington lobbyists need them to defeat new trade agreements, in the upcoming battles over the Colombian and South Korean FTAs.
The root of this problem is a kind of American pragmatism that disparages education. We need to demand more from those who make the decisions and control the purse strings in our unions.
Brandon e-mails to note Bacon's article is up online (click here). (Link in snapshot went to the magazine itself because the article wasn't then available online.) And Mia highlights Chris Hedges' "Bad News From America's Top Spy" (Information Clearing House):

The specter of social unrest was raised at the U.S. Army War College in November in a monograph [click on Policypointers' pdf link to see the report] titled "Known Unknowns: Unconventional 'Strategic Shocks' in Defense Strategy Development." The military must be prepared, the document warned, for a "violent, strategic dislocation inside the United States," which could be provoked by "unforeseen economic collapse," "purposeful domestic resistance," "pervasive public health emergencies” or "loss of functioning political and legal order." The "widespread civil violence," the document said, "would force the defense establishment to reorient priorities in extremis to defend basic domestic order and human security."
"An American government and defense establishment lulled into complacency by a long-secure domestic order would be forced to rapidly divest some or most external security commitments in order to address rapidly expanding human insecurity at home," it went on.
"Under the most extreme circumstances, this might include use of military force against hostile groups inside the United States. Further, DoD [the Department of Defense] would be, by necessity, an essential enabling hub for the continuity of political authority in a multi-state or nationwide civil conflict or disturbance," the document read.
In plain English, something bureaucrats and the military seem incapable of employing, this translates into the imposition of martial law and a de facto government being run out of the Department of Defense. They are considering it. So should you.
Adm. Blair warned the Senate that "roughly a quarter of the countries in the world have already experienced low-level instability such as government changes because of the current slowdown." He noted that the "bulk of anti-state demonstrations" internationally have been seen in Europe and the former Soviet Union, but this did not mean they could not spread to the United States. He told the senators that the collapse of the global financial system is "likely to produce a wave of economic crises in emerging market nations over the next year." He added that "much of Latin America, former Soviet Union states and sub-Saharan Africa lack sufficient cash reserves, access to international aid or credit, or other coping mechanism."
"When those growth rates go down, my gut tells me that there are going to be problems coming out of that, and we’re looking for that," he said. He referred to "statistical modeling" showing that "economic crises increase the risk of regime-threatening instability if they persist over a one to two year period."
Blair articulated the newest narrative of fear. As the economic unraveling accelerates we will be told it is not the bearded Islamic extremists, although those in power will drag them out of the Halloween closet when they need to give us an exotic shock, but instead the domestic riffraff, environmentalists, anarchists, unions and enraged members of our dispossessed working class who threaten us. Crime, as it always does in times of turmoil, will grow. Those who oppose the iron fist of the state security apparatus will be lumped together in slick, corporate news reports with the growing criminal underclass.

Reuters reports
that today's violence includes 2 Baquba roadside bombings that resulted in 2 deaths and ten more people injured while a Baghdad roadside bombing injured one person.

Today Germany's Minister of Foreign Affairs is in Iraq. Yesterday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs noted:

16 February, 2009

Foreign Minister Receives British Ambassador

Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, received on Monday, 16/2/2009, the British ambassador in Baghdad, Mr. Christopher Prentice upon his request. The meeting dealt with bilateral relations between the two countries and ways of developing them in addition to the results of provincial elections that took place late last month, and the British Ambassador congratulated the Government on Iraq's success..

The two sides also touched on the subject of exchange visits between officials of both countries to promote the development of relations, stating that a broad investment conference on Iraq will be held in Britain next April, in addition to the meetings of Iraq's neighboring countries and the situation in the region.

ADDED: "*" indicates Kim Gamel link added.

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