Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Who reports from Iraq?

"The disaster of the occupation," read leaflets handed out at Abu Hanifa in the months after the United States invaded and occupied Iraq. They echoed the graffiti. "Long live Saddam," declared a slogan, scrawled in black. "Jihad is our way," proclaimed another. Soon, what Iraqis call the taifiya, the sectarian war, began, and after nightfall, Antar Square looked like it might an hour before dawn: dark, abandoned and menacing.
The street beyond it was called Sharia al-Mawt, or the Street of Death.
"If someone went inside, they wouldn't come out again," said Mohammed Abu Mais, doing brisk business in a square now filled with a plethora of baby strollers and tricycles, some emblazoned with Spider-Man logos and others shaped like baby elephants.
Baghdad is still a dangerous city. On this day, bombs blew up two cars. Two mines detonated along the curb. A rocket hit an oil refinery on the capital's outskirts, and another crashed into the Green Zone. Insurgent weapons caches were uncovered.
But on a spring day, as the sunlight softens and the coals of Younes's cart warm the street, there are times that feel like any evening in a hardscrabble stretch of Beirut or Cairo. There are moments that are ordinary.

The above is from Anthony Shadid's "Ordinary Moments in a Once-Unpredictable Place" (Washington Post). Apparently other news outlets -- including the New York Times -- don't fear wasting money, they just burn currency stationing people in Iraq and never running reports by them.

Iraq related, Lila Burana writes a column for the Los Angeles Times regarding the military coffin 'policy'. Tom Vanden Brook and Paul Overberg offer "Iraq combat deaths at 6-year low" (USA Today)which requires you to count some deaths over other deaths apparently as evidenced by the writers stating this was a combat death and that wasn't. Of course the writes don't know what they're talking about because many deaths are still under investigation. But it's always good to suck up to the military with these stories which, if you pay attention, never have an update or correciton. When the numbers rise (or are corrected by the military after the fact), 'reporters' like Tom and Paul never do an update.

In the real world, Xinhua reports a Mosul "suicide car bombing" which also claimed the life of 1 police officer and left three more wounded. Reuters notes a Saadiaya roadside bombing claimed 2 lives (husband and wife), a Kirkuk bombing left three people wounded and 1 Iraqi soldier was shot dead in Mosul. The Seattle Times notes 7 members of National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance were arrested at the Pentagon yesterday while attempting to meet with Secretary of Defense Robert Gates' speech. Remember that an action will take place in NYC today. The Grannies Peace Brigade announces:

CONTACT: Joan Wile, 917-441-0651
Their Theme: Pack up Iraq, and Afghanistan Not Againistan
The indefatigable GRANNY PEACE BRIGADE is again in the forefront of the peace movement. They will hold the FIRST public anti-war protest of the Obama Administration on Wednesday, March 18, 12 o'clock p.m. at the Times Square recruiting center, 44th St. and Broadway. Their mission is to urge President Obama to re-think his policies toward Iraq and Afghanistan. Supporters of the President, they nevertheless feel he is making a mistake by proposing to leave 50,000 troops in Iraq after the official withdrawal and his order to deploy 17,000 more troops to Afghanistan. "He has requested that we let him know when we think he's on the wrong track, and we are taking him at his word," said 94-year-old former NYS Assemblywoman Marie Runyon, the oldest of the peace grannies.
To express their concerns, the grannies plan to symbolically wrap up the wars by wrapping police CRIME SCENE tape around the recruitment station. Prior to doing so, they will hold a press conference, beginning at noon, to which many actors and local officials have been invited. Among those who have agreed to speak are mayoral candidate Rev. Billy; actress Kim Weston-Moran, a star of the new off-Broadway hit, The Lonely Soldier Monologues (Women at War in Iraq); civil liberties attorney Norman Siegel; Broadway and off-Broadway legendary actress Vinie Burrows, and chaplain and Vietnam vet Hugh Bruce, a leader of the local Veterans for Peace chapter.
The GRANNY PEACE BRIGADE has chosen the Times Square location because of its historical importance to them. Eighteen of them were arrested there on Oct. 17, 2005, when they tried to enlist to replace America's grandchildren in harm's way and later were on trial for six days in criminal court at the end of which they were acquitted of all charges. Since then, they have acted as missionaries of peace, traveling in the United States and abroad speaking, performing, protesting and writing of their desire to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The grandmothers will be joined by other granny peace groups -- Grandmothers Against the War, who have held a weekly vigil at Rockefeller Center for over five years, and the Raging Grannies, who will sing a couple of their original anti-war songs. Members of Veterans for Peace will serve as a color guard for the event.
GRANNY PEACE BRIGADE jailbird Eva-Lee Baird explained, "The merchants of war are putting tremendous pressure on President Obama to lead the country down a path of destruction. We the people must pressure him to choose the path of peace."
DATE: Wed., March 18, RAIN OR SHINE
TIME: 12 o'clock noon
PLACE: Times Square recruiting center, 44th St. and Broadway

The illegal war hits the six year mark this Thursday and World Can't Wait offers a list of other cities holding demonstrations. Saturday, those wanting to call out the illegal war can join with groups such as The National Assembly to End the Wars, the ANSWER coalition, World Can't Wait and Iraq Veterans Against the War -- all are taking part in a real action. Iraq Veterans Against the War explains:

IVAW's Afghanistan Resolution and National Mobilization March 21st
As an organization of service men and women who have served in Iraq, Afghanistan, stateside, and around the world, members of Iraq Veterans Against the War have seen the impact that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have had on the people of these occupied countries and our fellow service members and veterans, as well as the cost of the wars at home and abroad. In recognition that our struggle to withdraw troops from Iraq and demand reparations for the Iraqi people is only part of the struggle to right the wrongs being committed in our name, Iraq Veterans Against the War has voted to adopt an official resolution calling for the immediate withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan and reparations for the Afghan people. (To read the full resolution, click here.)
To that end, Iraq Veterans Against the War will be joining a national coalition which is being mobilized to march on the Pentagon, March 21st, to demand the immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq and Afghanistan and further our mission and goals in solidarity with the national anti-war movement. This demonstration will be the first opportunity to show President Obama and the new administration that our struggle was not only against the Bush administration - and that we will not sit around and hope that troops are removed under his rule, but that we will demand they be removed immediately.
For more information on the March 21st March on the Pentagon, and additional events being organized in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Orlando, to include transportation, meetings, and how you can get involved, please visit: or

Sunday, Deborah Haynes (Times of London) reported on Iraqi attitudes towards pregnancy in
"Why to avoid itching when pregnant:"

Mr Tarik's wife, Anwar Ahmed, 28, is now three months pregnant with their first child. She is trying hard not to itch despite strong cravings for pacha, a famous Iraqi dish made from the head of a sheep.
"If you crave for something and do not eat it but scratch your body, then the food item will appear on the child," she said, with an earnest look on her face. The family plans to have a meal of pacha later this week to help satisfy the craving and protect the unborn child from any mysterious blemishes.
Fortunately the itch-curse only applies during the first four months of pregnancy.
"Afterwards, the child’s formation is complete so it does not matter if you crave food and itch," said Mrs Ali, the grandmother-to-be.
Another rule taught to expectant mothers in Iraq, is not to have sex during the first three months of pregnancy.
"The fetus is so small, it is dangerous to have sexual intercourse," said one mother, who declined to give her name.
Women are also told not to lie on their front at any stage of the pregnancy, even early on. "It is bad for the baby," said Samar Abdel Itar, 28, who is five-and-a-half months pregnant with her fourth child.

Finally, Tony Perry offers "Court upholds dismissal of charges in Haditha case" (Los Angeles Times):

A military appeals court Tuesday upheld the dismissal of war crimes charges against Marine Lt. Col. Jeffrey Chessani, the highest-ranking Marine charged in the 2005 killing of 24 civilians in Haditha, Iraq.
The court agreed with a military judge at Camp Pendleton who ruled in June that there was the appearance of "unlawful command influence" in the matter because a Marine lawyer who investigated the case had sat in on meetings where it was discussed with the general who later decided to charge Chessani and seven other Marines.

Iraq's Foreign Ministry notes:

17 March, 2009

Foreign Minister Holds Press Conference with Arab League Secretary-General

Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari held a joint press conference on Tuesday 17/3/2009, at the Foreign Ministry headquarters with the Secretary General of the League of Arab States Mr. Amr Moussa.

Minister Zebari spoke about the importance of the Arab League Secretary-General's visit Iraq, especially at this important time, which is witnessing internal and external transfer in Iraq's considering it came in the time of openness of Arab states to Iraq and the opportunity for the Secretary-General to view the latest developments in the country, especially after the positive development in the political process and improvement in the security situation and success of provincial elections0

Minister Zebari described the talks of Mr. Amr Moussa with Iraqi officials as successful and constructive and will produce several projects of interest to the relations between Iraq and the Arab League stressing the need of a more active Arab role in supporting Iraq and praised the role of the Arab League to move between Arab countries and Iraq, especially with regard to the opening of embassies and supporting the efforts of national reconciliation, the Minister also stressed that Iraq will regain its role actively in the Arab world , region and the world.

On his part, Mr. Amr Moussa, praised the progress of the political process in Iraq and the security improvements achieved with the cooperation of the Iraqi government and people, noting the significant difference between his current visit and his visit to Iraq in 2005, and expressed his pleasure to see the new Iraq trying to build itself on proper basis and praised the efforts to achieve security and stability since it comforts the Arab world.

Minister Zebari and his guest and the accompanying delegation held important talks at the Iraqi Foreign Ministry headquarters concerning the current developments in the country and the future plans of the Iraqi government and ways to strengthen ties between the Arab League and Iraq. They also discussed the Doha summit and the preparations and participation of Iraq where Iraq will participate greatly.

The Minister stated during the press conference that Iraq will implement its right to chair the Arab summit 22, which will be held in 2010 after the Doha summit.

A friend at the State Dept asked if we'd note the following and that's all it would have taken (asking) but it's also true that we did highlight the contest when it was ongoing:

U.S. Department of State Announces Winners of Global Online Video Contest To Encourage Cross-Cultural Understanding and Community Building
Bureau of Public Affairs
Office of the Spokesman
Washington, DC
March 16, 2009

The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) is pleased to announce the four winners of its online video contest, "My Culture + Your Culture =?". The contest was co-sponsored by the Adobe Youth Voices initiative of the Adobe Foundation. ECA launched the initiative at the National Press Club on December 1, 2008, to encourage cross-cultural community building and mutual understanding via the Web and social media platforms and to attract new members to the groundbreaking ExchangesConnect social networking site, at Since its launch in October 2008, ExchangesConnect has drawn over 8,400 members from 170 countries.
Members of the ExchangesConnect online community were invited to submit a 3-minute video addressing the contest theme, and they submitted more than 170 videos. The community voted on the video entries and an expert panel of judges -- all alumni of ECA exchange programs -- ranked the "top 40" videos. ECA selected two foreign and two American Grand Prize winners, including one adult and one youth winner in each category. The international winners will receive a two-week all-expenses-paid exchange program to the United States and the American winners will receive the same to an overseas destination. In addition, winners will receive multi-media software provided by the Adobe Foundation.
The contest winners, who will be honored at an event later this year, are:
1. Jose Vinicius Reis Gouveia of Recife, Brazil, age 16, for "Human Colours";
2. Bijoy Thangaraj of Bangalore, India, age 23, for "My Culture + Your Culture = World
of Wonder";
3. Grant Jirka of Columbus, Nebraska, age 14, for "Winning Team"; and
4. Tim Peters of Wheaton, Illinois, age 22, for "A Friend in Nanjing".
The videos can be viewed at or
The contest judges were musician, performer, and author Toni Blackman; actress and Founder of the Cancer Schmancer Movement Fran Drescher; graphic artist Milton Glaser; President of the Egyptian Cultural Civic Education Organization Raafat Khalid; and Founder and former Co-Chairman of New Line Cinema and Principal Unique Features Bob Shaye.
Media Contact: Catherine Stearns, 202-203-5107 or

Congratulations to the winners and to all who participated.

The following community sites updated last night:

The e-mail address for this site is

thomas friedman is a great man

oh boy it never ends