Monday, February 23, 2009

NYT looks at Iraqi widows

Timothy Williams (New York Times) reports 23-year-old Nachman Jaleel Kadhim is a widow who also lost her twin sisters to the illegal war, one of her own five-month twins and now barely surived in a trailer park with "her remaining daughter." Williams notes:

That makes her one of the lucky ones. The trailer park, called Al Waffa, or "Park of the Grateful," is among the few aid programs available for Iraq’s estimated 740,000 widows. It houses 750 people.
As the number of widows has swelled during six years of war, their presence on city streets begging for food or as potential recruits by insurgents has become a vexing symbol of the breakdown of Iraqi self-sufficiency.
Women who lost their husbands had once been looked after by an extended support system of family, neighbors and mosques.
But as the war has ground on, government and social service organizations say the women's needs have come to exceed available help, posing a threat to the stability of the country's tenuous social structures.

It's hilarious to hear nonsense about how Iraq's economy is hurting -- yes, Williams offers that.
You can check out these headlines at the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency:

(BAGHDAD, Iraq, February 15, 2009)
Iraqi Army officers attend ethics training in U.S.

(BAGHDAD, Iraq, February 14, 2009)
Bringing the U.S. and Iraq closer; Foreign Military Sales strengthens bond between nations

(BAGHDAD, Iraq, February 13, 2009)
Modern Pier, Seawall Facility to Benefit Iraqi Navy, Oil Security

Equally hilarious is to hear the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs managing director (not minister) Leila Kadhim insist that it's impossible to help everyone. Wait, al-Maliki's puppet government cut the meager budget for the Interior of Women's Affairs from $7,500 a month to $1,000 and another ministry wants to whine? That's hilarious.

Williams informs you that Iraqi women (ages fifteen to eighty) are widows in a 1 to 11 ratio. It's a growth industry for Iraqi women. Williams notes some widows end up "coerced" into marriage -- but forgets to note that one of al-Maliki's puppets -- a woman at that, Phyllis Schlafly's spiritual sister? -- has proposed governmental programs to force widows into marriages. This one especially should provide laughter, "The Iraqi military estimates that the number of widows who have become suicide bombers may be in the dozens." Which is it? The female suicide bombers -- less than 40 last year -- are young virgins who were raped or they're widows? Pick a narrative, New York Times, because you've insisted both this month.

Amazing and typical, Williams report starts talking about raising the profile of women in Iraq and includes the widows mark during the one-two shoe toss and songs sang during the provincial elections but forgets the woman below.

Nawal al Samurrai

That's Nawal al Samurrai. From the Feb. 12th snapshot:

And some say Nawal al Samurrai (also spelled al Samurraie in some press accounts) should have expected the lack of support as al-Maliki's Minister of Women's Affairs. But she didn't and thought she would receive assistance. Instead her ministry's tiny budget was cut further (from $7500 to $1500 a month). Tina Susman and Caesar Ahmed (Los Angeles Times) quote Parliamentarian Nada Ibrahim explains, "It's not a real ministry. It's one room with a woman, no budget, no staff. It's a trick." The reporters note that the issue "also highlights what many women say is the lip service paid them by the Shiite conservatives loyal to Dawa and other Shiite parties dominant in parliament. In August, Inaam Jawwadi, a female member of parliament from the Shiite bloc, called for Samarai's ministry to be turned into a Cabinet portfolio, but the proposal went nowhere." Susman and Ahmed explain, "Her eyes glistened with tears as she described the frustration of confronting widows and not being able to fofer them anything beyond promises that she would try to help. She found herself sitting in her small office appealing to nongovernmental organizations for money to launch the programs she had envisioned when she took the position in July." She tells them, "It's shameful for me in Iraq, a rich country, to have to ask NGOs for money." To The Contrary's Bonnie Erbe (US News & World Reports via CBS News) proposes, "Here's an idea: As a start, confiscate the Bush and Cheney family fortunes, which are voluminous, and use that money to feed the widows and orphans their war created." Corey Flintoff (NPR -- this is a text only report at NPR) explains, "Samarraie, a 47-year-old gynecologist and member of parliament, says that part of the problem is that Iraq is a patriarchal society, where women are considered adjuncts of their husbands or fathers. And part of it, she says, is political expediency." Parliamentarian Saleh al-Mutlaq declares the Shi'ite extremists don't support the women's ministry, "I mean, it was a joke from the beginning, and they will never support it. And this poor lady, she was a minister for some time, but she didn't have any kind of financial support to support women's issues." Flintoff reports women in Parliament are rallying around the issue, that a five hour meeting took place among them and that they are determined to address this leaving Samarrai debating whether or not to withdraw her resignation.

Along with those named above, Feminist Wire Daily, wowOwow and Kim Gamel (AP) have covered Nawal. It's only the New York Times -- with all their reporters in Iraq -- who've never managed to file a story on her. How interesting.

Wednesday's snapshot

Monday, Steven Lee Myers (New York Times) covered the power struggle between the Ministry for Tourism and Antiquities and the Culture Ministry as to whether or not the museum will open next Monday. The Culture Ministry's Jabir al-Jabiri is stating that the museum is not opening and his ministry is over the Ministry for Tourism and Antiquties while MfTaA's Baha al-Mayahi states yes, they are opening next Monday. Aseel Kami (Reuters) explains today that nothing's changed. MfTaA's maintains that the museum will open Monday and Jaber al-Jaberi continues to insist that it won't and that "is the official and final position." Kami observes, "The feud illustrates some of the challenges facing Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's government as it seeks to capitalise on a drop in violence and unify a country shattered by war."

Sameer N. Yacoub (AP) reports, "Iraq's restored National Museum was formally dedicated on Monday, nearly six years after looters carried away priceless antiquities and treasures in the chaos following the U.S.-led invasion."

Meanwhile, she wasn't good at reading the NEI or the PDB but someone thinks she's can write. AP reports that former National Security Advisor and former Secretary of State Condi Rice has signed "a three-book deal with Crown Publishers." The first book will be a fond look back at her time with the Bully Boy -- in other words, Crown wants her to start off attempting fiction. Below is Condi when the press loved her, May 2, 2005 -- when her every jacket was 'news'!

That was the first The World Today Just Nuts comic
Isaiah did. He is now arching his comics at The World Today Just Nuts.

Doug notes Press TV's "Chomsky: Obama OKed Israel's Gaza war" (via Information Clearing House):

Renowned US intellectual Noam Chomsky says Barack Obama did not comment on Israel's war on Gaza, as it was part of the "premeditated" plan. We have been informed by an Israeli source that the recent invasion of the Gaza Strip was completely premeditated, Chomsky said in an interview with the French Al-Ahram daily.
The plan was to deliver the maximum blow to Gaza before the new US president took office, so that he could put these matters behind him added the famous intellectual, referring to Obama's pledge to resolve the Israeli Palestinian conflict.

And Mike notes Dennis Loo's "Obama: Bagram Prisoners Be Damned" (World Can't Wait):

Contrary to his public pronouncements about taking the "moral high ground," "restoring due process," ending torture, and that "no one is above the law," the Obama administration declared on February 20, 2009 that the hundreds of prisoners in Bagram, Afghanistan being held by US forces and subjected to torture and murder since our invasion of Afghanistan, do not have the right to challenge their indefinite detentions or the fact that they have been tortured.
They are, according to this new White House, outside the law that the Obama team has made such a fetish of claiming that they uphold.
"This Court’s Order of January 22, 2009 invited the Government to inform the Court by February 20, 2009, whether it intends to refine its position on whether the Court has jurisdiction over habeas petitions filed by detainees held at the United States military base in Bagram, Afghanistan," Acting Assistant Obama Attorney General Michael Hertz wrote in a brief filed Friday. "Having considered the matter, the Government adheres to its previously articulated position."
"Having considered the matter, the Government adheres to its previously articulated position."
Having considered the matter, the Obama administration adheres to the previously articulated position of the Bush administration, despite the fact that the legitimacy of the Obama administration, the reason that so many people were overjoyed to see him elected and to see the Bush team out of office, was because they thought that Obama was going to right these wrongs and make things different. Just how wrong this idea was is becoming clearer by the day to people who are paying attention.

Bonnie reminds that Kat's "Kat's Korner: The art of india.arie" went up Sunday as did Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Al Distraction" -- and we have another comic by Isaiah going up after this.

Meanwhile Maria Morani is a Canadian MP. From her Parliament webpage:

MOURANI, Maria, B.A., M.A.
Current Member of The House of Commons
Date of Birth ( 1969.05.19
Place of Birth: Abidjan, Ivory Coast
Occupation: Criminologist, probation officer, rehabilitation counsellor, researcher, sociologist, teaching assistant
Political Affiliation:
Notes: First Canadian woman of Libanese origin elected to the House of Commons.

Iraq's Foreign Ministry announces:

Mrs. Maria Morani member of the Canadian Parliament expressed her willingness to help the Iraqi community living in Canada to overcome problems in addition to encouraging Canadian investments in the reconstruction of Iraq.

During the meeting with the Consul General of the Republic of Iraq in Montreal, Mr. Riyadh Hassoun, Mrs. Morani called for supporting the formation of an Iraqi- Canadian Friendship Society to bridge the gap between the two countries through the Iraqi parliament. The Canadian MP listened to the Iraqi consul's explaining of the situation in Iraq and the political and security environment which Iraqis live in.

The Kurdistan Regional Government shares a speech by KRG Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani:

PM Barzani's speech at rule of law roundtable

Erbil, 19 February 2009

Speech by KRG Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani

Roundtable: Ten-year plan to strengthen the rule of law

Good afternoon and welcome. I am pleased to participate in this discussion with you about the supremacy of the rule of law.

One of the most important duties of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) is to strengthen our judiciary and law enforcement mechanisms. We know that, more than almost any other challenge, failure to address these matters will hold back progress across a broad range of issues.

For this reason, we are grateful to the United States government for paying attention to this issue, and working together with us in order to help us achieve these goals.

I consider this roundtable today to be an important start, but I would like to make a point about action. In the past five years since the liberation, we have had many delegations –governments, private sector entities, NGOs and others – who have come here to discuss important issues with us.

We have held many conferences and meetings on a range of problems. These meetings have been useful in many areas, but it is also true that meetings and conferences do not solve problems. So we must move forward practically, and we should prepare a plan for implementation in order to achieve our goals. And we would like you to help us in our efforts.

I would hope today that we can also discuss ideas and proposals for concrete actions that we can take immediately, which can help improve our performance in the judicial system and the rule of law in the Kurdistan Region.

I will be brief because I am anxious to hear what others have to say and provide everyone with an opportunity to contribute to this discussion. Below are six principle themes upon which I believe we should focus – within the framework of a comprehensive plan.

1) Training of Judges We have taken steps to create a more independent judiciary and to give judges greater freedom and resources to do their jobs without obstacles.
Overall, we have made progress here, and I think our judges are more effective than they were a few years ago. However, they need more training and more experience in administering the law.

And we need to begin today to train new lawyers and new judges for the future. Many of our best judges are old, and we do not have adequate replacements trained.

2) Simplifying the judicial process Our judicial process is confusing and complicated, with overlapping authorities and responsibilities. No average citizen can understand the system and even some of our lawyers do not understand it.
It is a mixture of several different systems and it works too slowly. We are not able to follow up individual cases due to the lack of suitable legal mechanisms, and the bureaucracy in our courts and ministries is overwhelming.

3) Developing effective investigative skills and technologies It is true that in our system the courts have substantial investigative powers, but there should be a comprehensive method to handle these duties.

For example, we do a reasonable job at investigating routine criminal complaints, but our courts are not at all capable of following up and investigating crimes of violence against women.

We have made some progress in developing new skills within our police force, but the courts have important investigative powers that are not well developed at all. That is why we must do more in this regard.

4) Updated correctional and prison system Our prison system is old and in need of repair and renewal. We do not effectively rehabilitate our prisoners, and too many of them return to society only to repeat their crimes. Therefore we must develop plans for social rehabilitation and pay attention to the psychological conditions within the prisons.

5) Education of the public We need to pay more attention to public education. Our people need to be taught, from primary school, to respect the law, courts and the police. In our colleges there is a need to develop curricula so that pupils are educated in a progressive way.

6) Cooperation with other regional initiatives We are aware of initiatives being implemented by the American Bar Association and the US Government in other countries. It would be of great benefit to us to be able to liaise with some of these programmes and to learn from their experiences.

For example, we feel the Jordanian judicial system shares similarities with ours. Developing training and educational links with our counterparts in the region would be of immense value to us.

We should all work with civil society organisations and the media in order to increase the legal awareness of our people in regard to these issues. This is a subject upon which I have placed a great deal of importance. And it is a priority in the KRG’s agenda.

These are some of the ideas that I would like to openly discuss with you. I would like both sides to seriously engage in this issue. Thank you all for coming and participating in this event. Your efforts are most appreciated. Thank you.

See also the press release on the rule of law round table.

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the los angeles times
 tina susman
caeser ahmed
steven lee myers