Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Iraq snapshot

Tuesday, August 26, 2009.  Chaos and violence continue, Iraqi leadership suffers a loss, Cindy Sheehan begins protesting on Martha's Vineyard, John V. Walsh notes the silence from many left pundits, Iraq's refugee community remains at risk, a national government speaks out against the targeting of Iraqi LGBTs (no, it's not the US government), and more.
Abdul Aziz al-Hakim passed away from lung cancer today. He was fifty-nine-years-old.  Liz Sly and Raheem Salman (Los Angeles Times) hail him as "a towering figure in the post-U.S.-invasion political landscape."   His stature was such that even Iraq's prime minister paid homage to al-Hakim in recent months.  As noted June 3rd on Nouri's trip to Iran:

Iran's Press TV reported he flew to "Hakim's bedside in Tehran" this weekend because Abdul Aziz al-Hakim is receiving treatments for cancer. al-Hakim, like Nouri, is an Iraqi chicken who ran to exile, stayed in exile for decades and then, after the US invasion, was a 'respected' Iraqi . . . in the eyes of the US. al-Hakim grew up in Najaf and left Iraq in 1980 for Iran. Robin Wright (Washington Post) reported May 19, 2007 that al-Hakim had gone to Houston due to lung cancer: "Vice President Cheney played a role in arranging for Hakim to see U.S. military doctors in Baghdad, who made the original diagnosis, and for the current medical treatment in Houston, the sources said."

The Tehran Times reports, "Mourners will hold a funeral procession in Tehran on Thursday which will start in front of the Iraqi Embassy.  Later his body will be transferred to Najaf for burial."  CNN notes, "Abdul Aziz Al-Hakim spent years in Iran as an exile, but returned to Iraq in 2003 following the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. He had been an ally of both the United States and Iran." BBC observes of his political party Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council (SIIC and ISCI), "The party has several senior cabinet members, and its militia - the Badr Brigade - wields considerable influence in Iraq's security establishment." Marc Santora (New York Times) notes that "Supreme Council Members hold positions atop important ministries and in Parliament.  The group runs charitable organizations, libraries and schools and has a large network of support that stretches back to when Mr. Hakim's father, Grand Ayatollah Mohsen al-Hakim, was one of the top Shiite spiritual leaders in the world." Iran's Press TV calls SIIC "Iraq's most powerful party" and adds, "The death of Hakim will add to political uncertainty ahead of national polls in January and after a series of devastating bombings. " China's People's Daily Online (link has text and audio -- audio is in English) notes al-Hakim "became a member of the U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council and served as its rotating presidency in December 2003." Iran's Fars News Agency adds, "Mohsen Hakim announced that the body of his father will be transferred to the holy city of Najaf in southern Iraq for funeral processions, reminding that the time and location of the ceremony for the Iraqi leader will be announced later. " The Iranian Students News Agency explains, "Since his hospitalization in Tehran, his elder son Ammar Hakim has taken control of the SIIC." Waleed Ibrahim (Reuters)reports that Ammar al-Hakim is expected to be his "likely successor as party leader" and adds:

Although ISCI lost ground to Maliki's Dawa in provincial elections last January, the well-organized and well-funded party has major clout and will be a formidable competitor in January.
ISCI has several members in top ministerial posts, and has influence in Iraq's security forces, which include members of ISCI's armed affiliate, the Badr Organization.
ISCI derives much of its support from the Hakim family name, revered among Shi'ites for its lineage of scholars and sacrifice in the face of assaults by Saddam and later by Sunni insurgents during the bloodshed that raged after the U.S. invasion.
Hakim's son Ammar appears to have been groomed for succession, given his regular appearances on behalf of and next to his father, but there are other key figures in the party.

The death will leave ripples throughout the political community in Iraq and raises many issues. Yesterday's snapshot covered the new Shi'ite coalition and noted Caroline Alexander (Bloomberg News) report on the new political coalition: "The 10-party Iraqi National Alliance includes two groups whose leaders are both in Iran -- the country's largest Shiite party, cleric Abdul Azis al-Hakim's Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council, and the bloc of anti-U.S. cleric Muqtada al-Sadr." Robert Dreyfuss (The Nation) was also noted in yesterday's snapshot and we'll note the opening paragraph to his "'Iraq Will Be A Colony of Iran':"

Iraq's Shiite religious parties, most with ties to Iran, have reestablished a political bloc called the Iraqi National Alliance. Among its founders are Ahmad Chalabi, the revered darling of US neoconservatives such as Richard Perle and Danielle Pletka of the American Enterprise Institute; Muqtada al-Sadr, the brooding, mercurial mullah who has mysteriously retreated to Qom, Iran's religious capital, for quick-study lessons on how to become an ayatollah; and, of course, Abdel Aziz al-Hakim, one of the founders of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), which has changed its name but not its spots. SCIRI, the anchor of the new coalition, is now called the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI), but it still acts as an arm of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, which founded it in 1982, and its paramilitary Badr Brigade -- also a part of the new Iraqi alliance -- is a terrorist unit that operates pro-Iran death squads in Iraq.

The Angola Press observes, "Correspondents say the death of the Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council (SIIC) leader adds further uncertainty ahead of national elections next January."  Chip Cummins (Wall St. Journal) offers that his death threatens "more tumult among Shiite politicians attempting to unite ahead of January elections" and quotes the Norwegian Institute for International Affairs' Reider Vissar who states, "It's potentially a destabilizing factor (for ISCI) because the succession issue is very much open at the moment."  Adam Ashton (McClatchy Newspapers) quotes Nouri stating, "Sayed al Hakim was a bigger brother and a strong support during the period of fighting the former regime and a fundamental corner in the process of building the new Iraq.  His departure at this sensitive phase that we are going through is considered a great loss for Iraq."  Marc Santora adds, "The American ambassador, Christopher R. Hill, and the Gen. Ray Odierno, the commander of American forces in Iraq, issued a joint statement praising his 'courage and fortitude' in 'building a new Iraq'."  Ali Sheikholeslami and Caroline Alexander (Bloomberg News) call him "a power broker who insisted on Iraq's sovereignty and said it must end the country's conflict independently.  Al-Hakim had close ties to neighboring Iran, while working to enhance relations between his native Iraq and the U.S. He met with then-president George W. Bush in Washington in October."  Liz Sly and Raheem Salman notes his close ties to the Bush administration and point out, "A theologian who always wore the black turban and flowing robes of a senior Shiite cleric, he was seen as a divisive figure by many Sunnis.  Many associated him with the killings of Sunnis by the Supreme Council's military wing, the Badr Organization, in the aftermath of the fall of Hussein and with the ascendant influence of Iran in Iraqi politics."  On the news of the new alliance, Oliver August (Times of London) noted that with Nouri (currently) out of the running for prime minister if the alliance secures a majority, his "potential successors are Adel Abdul Mehdi, the Vice-president and a senior leader of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, and Ibrahim al-Jaafari, Iraq's first elected prime minister.  Also on the slate is Ahmed Chalabi, the enigmatic former ally of the American neocons.  Mr Chalabi helped to build the case for the American invasion but is now a Shia nationalist.  Further in the shadows, but no less plausible as prime minister, stand Jawad al-Bolani, the Interior Minister, and Qassim Daoud, the former national security adviser." 
The death will have implactions for the future of Iraq including the prolonged and no-time-soon ending US coccupation.  In the US Peace Mom Cindy Sheehan is demonstrating on Martha's Vineyard through August 29th since War Hawk in Chief Barack Obama has decided it's the perfect spot for a vacation.  (See Trina last night and she's correct to wonder.  My place was booked up for this summer before 2008 ended and that's with friends and family and I don't charge rent.  To squeeze in at the last minute does mean the White House pulled strings and that does raise the issue of favors owed. And last minute to get a place -- if you don't own one -- on the Vineyard for summer 2009 was anytime after Labor Day in 2008.)  John V. Walsh has a must read at CounterPunch and here's a lenghty excerpt that still doesn't do justice to the passion and honesty of his column:
A funny thing has happened on Cindy Sheehan's long road from Crawford, Texas, to Martha's Vineyard.   Many of those who claim to lead the peace movement and who so volubly praised her actions in Crawford, TX, are not to be seen.    Nor heard.  The silence in fact is deafening, or as Cindy put it in an email to this writer, "crashingly deafening."  Where are the email appeals to join Cindy from The Nation or from AFSC or Peace Action or "Progressive" Democrats of America (PDA) or even Code Pink?   Or United for Peace and Justice. (No wonder UFPJ is essentially closing shop, bereft of most of their contributions and shriveling up following the thinly veiled protest behind the "retirement" of Leslie Cagan.)   And what about MoveOn although it was long ago thoroughly discredited as principled opponents of war or principled in any way shape or form except slavish loyalty to the "other" War Party.  And of course sundry "socialist" organizations are also missing in action since their particular dogma will not be front and center.  These worthies and many others have vanished into the fog of Obama's wars.
Just to be sure, this writer contacted several of the "leaders" of the "official" peace movement in the Boston area -- AFSC, Peace Action, Green Party of MA (aka Green Rainbow Party) and some others.  Not so much as the courtesy of a reply resulted from this effort - although the GRP at least posted a notice of the action.  (It is entirely possible that some of these organizations might mention Cindy's action late enough and quickly enough so as to cover their derrieres while ensuring that  Obama will not be embarrassed by protesting crowds.)   We here in the vicinity of Beantown are but a hop, skip and cheap ferry ride from Martha's Vineyard.   Same for NYC.  So we have a special obligation to respond to Cindy's call.           
However, not everyone has failed to publicize the event.  The Libertarians at are on the job, and its editor in chief Justin Raimondo wrote a superb column Monday on the  hypocritical treatment of Sheehan by the "liberal" establishment.  (1)  As Raimondo pointed out, Rush Limbaugh captured the hypocrisy of the liberal left in his commentary, thus:
"Now that she's headed to Martha's Vineyard, the State-Controlled Media, Charlie Gibson, State-Controlled Anchor, ABC: 'Enough already.' Cindy, leave it alone, get out, we're not interested, we're not going to cover you going to Martha's Vineyard because our guy is president now and you're just a hassle. You're just a problem. To these people, they never had any true, genuine emotional interest in her. She was just a pawn. She was just a woman to be used and then thrown overboard once they're through with her and they're through with her. They don't want any part of Cindy Sheehan protesting against any war when Obama happens to be president."
The Green Party isn't promoting her demonstration?  The same Green Party that needed her to turn out a crowd for their 2008 presidential debate?  And now they can't promote a demonstration against the ongoing wars?  (In fairness to them, they just needed her to bring out a crowd.  The Nation profitted off of Cindy back in the day.)  Mattt Viser (Boston Globe) reports, "High-profile protester Cindy Sheehan arrived last night and was whisked to a 34-foot wooden sloop on Lake Tashmoo, kicking off a four-day visit that will include a series of peace activities.  She will be staying in homes of her supporters, some not far from Obama's 28-acre retreat in Chilmark."  Julia Rappaport (Boston Herald) quotes Cindy stating, "No matter who's president, we still have to keep our end of our democracy going.  Even though Bush is no longer in office, these policies are still continuing.  In many areas, they're escalating -- the occupations in Iraq, Afghanistan and now the horrible fightings in tribal regions.  The killing of innocent people in the name of corporate welfare, or whatever this war is for, is certainly not about freedom or democracy or keeping us safe here at home."
The killing of innocent people in the name of corporate welfare?  Monday August Cole (Wall St. Journal) was enthusing over miltiary drones noting it was "altering the defense-industry landscape" as well as having "transformed the battlefields in Iraq and Afghanistan" resulting in a FY2010 White House budget request of "approximately $3.5 billion for unmanned aerial vehicles."  And the US government continues sending service members to Iraq.  WJLA-TV (link has text and video) notes members of "The Old Guard" at Fort Meyer, VA are preparing to deploy to Iraq.  And Wilson Ring (Brattleboro Reformer) reports that Joseph Fortin, who was killed in Iraq Sunday, "was the 27th serviceman with ties to Vermont to die in Iraq" and that he's survived by Niqcuelle Fortin, his wife, and Martin and Betsy Fortin, his parents.  Charlotte Albright (Vermont Public Radio) speaks with friends of Joey Fortin.  His former coach, Peter Wright, states, "He would do the right thing, he behaved himself, he followed rules, he was very respectful, he liked people, he was willing to help people and I think that was very important and what separates him from some of his classmates that way."
In Iraq, more games played today.  Yesterday's snapshot included, ""In other news, who can pull out their ambassador first?  That's the game Syria and Iraq are engaged in.  Xinhua reports that upon learing Iraq was withdrawing their ambassador, Syria decided to withdraw its ambassador to Iraq and notes that Iraq is demanding Syria hand over Ba'athists living in Syria (it's neither a crime to be a Ba'ahist or to live in Syria) whom they insist are responsible for the last Wednesday's bombings.  This as Khalid al-Ansary, Suadad al-Salhy and Missy Ryan (Reuters) report the al Qaeda in Iraq-linked Islamic State of Iraq has issued a statement claiming credit for the bombings: 'As we announce our reponsibility for this blessed foray, we want to clarify, as we have said repeatedly, that we target the foundations of this evil state and those who supported it and helped establish it'."  Today Sameer N. Yacoub (AP) reports that Syrian's diplomat Bassam Haj Hassan was summoned to the Iraq's Foreign Ministry today by the deputy minister Labid Abbawi who repeated Nouri's demand that Syria turn over two people to Iraq and Hassan repeated the Syrian government's request that any evidence of criminal activity on the part of the two Iraqis in Syria be presented in Damascus.
Syria could easily make their own set of demands.  For example, where's that money Nouri was promising when the world was paying attention to Iraqi refugees?  Nouri was supposed to be supplying money to the host countries neighboring Iraq.  Syria, Jordan and Lebanon house the largest number of Iraqi refugees.  Thomas James (Foreign Policy In Focus) reports on the 1-million-plus Iraqi refugees in Syria, "At the UN compound in Douma, a neighborhood in northern Damascus, men, women and children sit in crowed warehouse-like buildings.  These refugees from Iraq wait for the UNHCR food rations that will keep them from starving. . . . Next door in Iraq, the talk has been of recovery and resurgence.  But there is a feeling that the Iraqi government, awash in oil receipts, is not doing enough to help its displaced nationals.  The figures for returning Iraqis are low, and huge swarths of Iraq's middle class, vital for the rebuilding of the country, remain in Syria and Jordan, many intent on resettlement to Europe or America."
Few will make it to the US -- due both to the low numbers the US is willing to accept as well as these regulations which have not, HAVE NOT, significantly improved since Bush left office and which, as one friend at the UN puts it, "Assumes every Arab is a terrorist and must prove otherwise before being admitted."  Alexandra Zavis (Los Angeles Times) reports on Iraqi refugees in Jordan such as a 51-year-old Iraqi woman, Shifa, who is an attorney and had just been informed by the International Organization for Migration that "no US company would recognize her law degree or nearly two decades of experience."  Shifa leaves Iraq after losing two brothers (shot dead on the streets) and her husband: "In May 2005, gunmen in a speeding car seized her husband as he left for work at an electronics import company.  Shifa watched from a window.  It was the last time she saw him.  To pay a $150,000 ransom, she sold the new home they had been building.  But she did not get her husband back.  She spent months scouring police stations, hospitals and morgues, studying hundreds of pictures of corpses, battered, burned and riddled with drill holes."
Iraqis like Shifa do not go back to Iraq.  That's what so many non-Iraqis still refuse to grasp.  The Myth of the Great Return remains a myth all these years later.  Few Iraqis who became external refugees have returned.  The small number that does has to face the very high chance that they will become internal refugees as so many have learned.  Other external refugees returning have been attacked upon leaving the caravan back into Iraq. Shifa has lost two brothers and a husband.  She's not going back.  No woman would.  That pain has soured her on Iraq.  It is no longer just fear about her own life and that's what the "Come on back, it's safer!" crap never grasps.  No, it's not safer in Iraq.  It's not safe enough for returns.  But those who have seen their loved ones slaughtered?  They're not going back.  They can't.  They can't return to make a life in a country where their five year old was kidnapped and beheaded.  It is not their home anymore.  The US invasion and the US installation of a 'government' ensured that Iraq was no longer their country.  Iraqi Jews have all but vanished.  (Reportedly three to five remain in Baghdad.)  They're not going back.  The Iraqi Christian community members who made it out of the country?  They're not going back.  Those who made it to the Kurdistan Regional Government will most likely make that area their new home.  But those who got out are gone.  The violence hasn't gone away but even if did tomorrow, it would not change the way you sour on a place when you see your child's corpse or you watch as your family members is shot by 'security forces'.  Shifa's not going back.  And she's far from the only Iraqi refugee who will do anything to make a home anywhere else -- not out of fear but because their home is gone.  There is no where for Shifa to return.
Zavis explains the process for those who do make it into the US, "For refugees arriving in the U.S., the first few weeks are a whirlwind. They apply for Social Security numbers, food stamps and cash assistance; register for English classes; get health screenings; and start looking for a job. The government contracts with nonprofits including the New York-based International Rescue Committee, or IRC, to guide them through the process and toward independence."  But the cash assitance is very brief and not all that to begin with.  They're also not citizens.  If they'd like to become US citizens, they have to wait until they've been here (with all the paperwork in order) for at least five years. 
In July, the UNHCR issued a report entitled "Surviving in the city" focusing on cities in Jordan, Lebanon and Syria and dealing with the needs of "large populations of urban refugees."  Among the problems faced, "the majority of Iraqis do not have any immediate prospect of finding a solution to their plight.  Most of them consider that current conditions in Iraq prevent them from repatriating, while a significant number state that they have no intention of returning there under any circumstances."  From page 49 (report is not PDF format, for any thinking that detail was forgotten):
A Jordanian scholar who was interviewed in the course of this review commented that "the decision to flee from your own country is always easier to make than the decision to return."  This observation is certainly supported by the case of the Iraqi refugees, many of whom left their homes at short notice, threatened by escalating violence in their homeland and the very real threat that they would be targeted for attack because of their religious identity, their profession or their relative prosperity. 
At the time of their sudden departure, the refugees hoped that the crisis would not persist very long, and that withing a reasonable amount of time they would be able to return to Iraq, reclaim their property and resume their previous life.  But as time has passed, those expectations have faded and the refugees are left with few choices with regard to their future.  
The majority do not want to repatriate now or in the near future.  Only some of the refugees can expect to be admitted to a third country by means of resettlement.  And those who remain in their countries of asylum have no opportunity to benefit from the solution of local integration have very limited prospect for self-reliance and are confronted with the prospect of a steady decline in their standard of living.  In the words of an elderly refugee man living in the Syrian city of Aleppo "when we left Iraq, we simply didn't know that we would end up like this."
Huge numbers aren't coming back.  They are never coming back. Next Tuesday, Refugees International's Kristele Younes will speak about on the topic of Iraqi refugees at Albany Law School starting at 6:00 pm.  Meanwhile The Local reports Germany will add 144 more Iraqi refugees this week (to the 1,003 they have already granted asylum to).  A growing Iraq refugee community is Iraq's LGBTs and those suspected of being LGBT due to the fact that they are being targeted by government-backed militias and elements of the government.  Last week, Human Rights Watch released a report entitled "'They Want Us Exterminated': Murder, Torture, Sexual Orientation and Gender in Iraq." For the 67-page report [PDF format warning] click hereUS House Rep Alcee Hastings is one of the few US politicians who noted the report.  In Australia, their administration can speak out against it.  The Sydney Star Observer reports:
The Rudd Government says it's concerned about ongoing reports of serious human rights abuses against gay Iraqi men and will continue to raise the issue with the country's leaders.     
The response comes as Human Rights Watch released a 67-page report last week detailing a mounting campaign of murder and torture of gay men across Iraq.
The deeply disturbing report points to a rise in reported killings of gay men since the beginning of 2009, as part of a concerted eradication plan, likely stemming from extremist militia networks.       
"The Australian Government remains concerned by violence and reports of human rights violations in Iraq. This includes reports of violence against women and minority groups," a DFAT spokeswoman told Southern Star.                  
The spokeswoman said senior Australian officials had brought up specific concerns about the persecution of gay men in Canberra on July 22 with visiting senior Iraqi officials including high-ranking officers from the Ministry of Human Rights and the Iraqi National Police.             
Many have occurred in the Shiite neighbourhoods of Baghdad, but Sunnis are involved too and the campaign has spread as far south as Basra, and as far north as Kirkuk in Kurdistan.             
The killers' methods are horrific, with victims often raped and tortured to force them to beg their families for ransoms or give up the names of other homosexuals before they are finally murdered. Usually families find the bodies of their loved ones in trash piles, but sometimes they are strung up as a warning to others.           
And although the Iraqi poets of antiquity once wrote love odes to beautiful youths, the killers say homosexuality is an imported vice. Earlier this year, one such 'executioner' told journalists from the UAE that his kind were eradicating "a serious illness… that has been spreading rapidly among the youth after it was brought in from the outside by American soldiers. These are not the habits of Iraq or our community and we must eliminate them."
Homosexuality is not illegal in Iraq, and its Interior Ministry claims it is taking the issue seriously despite allegations that some of the killers are its own employees.
Rex Wockner (Windy City Times) covers the report today, "One man told HRW that militiamen kidnapped and killed his partner in April: 'Four armed men barged into ( my partner's parents' ) house, masked and wearing black. They asked for him by name; they insulted him and took him in front of his parents. ... He was found in the neighborhood the day after. They had thrown his corpse in the garbage. His genitals were cut off and a piece of his throat was ripped out. Since then, I've been unable to speak properly. I feel as if my life is pointless now. ... ( F ) or years it has just been my boyfriend and myself in that little bubble, by ourselves. I have no family now -- I cannot go back to them. I have a death warrant on me. I feel the best thing to do is just to kill myself'."
Turning to some of today's reported violence . . .
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad car bombing wounded five people (two were police officers), a Baghdad roadside bombing wounded four people, a Bawuba roadside bombing which claimed the life of 1 farmer and, dropping back to last night, a Mosul roadside bombing which claimed the lives of 2 civilians and left one police officer wounded.
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Mosul bus invasion in which assailants shot "randomly" resulting in the death of 1 young girl and, dropping back to last night, a gun fired in Baghdad that may have been attempting to assassinate the Minister of Planning whose motorcade was passing by.
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 2 corpses discovered in Baquba.
Back in June we noted Father Tim Vakoc who passed away from wounds received in a May 29, 2004 Iraq bombing. AP notes that Father Tim is "believed to be the first military chaplain wounded in Iraq". Maura Lerner (Minneapolis Star-Tribune) reports, "A state investigation has found that two nursing assistants were responsible for the June accident that led to the death of the Rev. Tim Vakoc, a Roman Catholic priest and Army chaplain, at St. Therese nursing home in New Hope."  Heather Brown (WCCO) adds, "In its report, the Health Department found 'evidence indicates neglect did occur' in this case. It put the blame on the two nursing assistants who were in the room at the time of Vakoc's fall. The investigator also found St. Therese was in compliance with state and federal regulations and will not be cited for this incident."
Independent journalist David Bacon is noted for his photography and his latest exhibit is "People of the Harvest, Indigenous Mexican Migrants in California." The reception for it takes place tomorrow evening at 6:00 pm at the Asian Resource Gallery (310 Eight Street at Harrison, Oakland, CA). The exhibit runs through next month and the gallery's hour are nine in the morning until six in the evening, Monday through Friday. Immigrant Rights News carries the following:

People of the Harvest is part of a larger project, Living Under the Trees, that documents the lives of communities of indigenous Mexican farm workers in California, through documentary photographs. The photographs in People of the Harvest were taken in 2009.
It's no accident the state of Oaxaca is one of the main starting points for the current stream of Mexican migrants coming to the United States. Extreme poverty encompasses 75 percent of its 3.4 million residents.
Thousands of indigenous people leave Oaxaca's hillside villages for the United States every year, not only for economic reasons but also because a repressive political system thwarts the kind of economic development that could lift incomes in the poorest rural areas. Lack of development pushes people off the land.
The majority of Oaxacans are indigenous people-that is, they belong to communities and ethnic groups that existed long before Columbus landed in the Caribbean. They speak 23 different languages.
"Migration is a necessity, not a choice," explains Romualdo Juan Gutierrez Cortez, a teacher in Santiago Juxtlahuaca, in Oaxaca's rural Mixteca region.
In California, indigenous migrants have become the majority of people working in the fields in many areas, whose settlements are dispersed in an indigenous diaspora. This movement of people has created transnational communities, bound together by shared culture and language, and the social organizations people bring with them from place to place.
People of the Harvest documents the experiences and conditions of indigenous farm worker communities. It focuses on social movements in indigenous communities and how indigenous culture helps communities survive and enjoy life. The project's purpose is to win public support for policies helping those communities to achieve social and political rights and better economic conditions.
The communities documented in this show are locacted in Arvin, Taft, Oxnard and Santa Paula, Santa Maria, Fresno, Greenfield, Watsonville and Marysville. They include Mixtecos, Triquis, Zapotecos, Chatinos and Purepechas.
The photographs are digital color images, which focus on the relationship between community residents and their surroundings, and their relations with each other. They present situations of extreme poverty, but they also show people as actors, capable of changing conditions, organizing themselves, and making critical decisions.
The project is a partnership between David Bacon, documentary photographer and journalist (The Children of NAFTA, UC Press, 2004, Communities Without Border, Cornell/ILR Press, 2006, and Illegal People - How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants, Beacon Press, 2008), California Rural Legal Assistance, especially its Indigenous Farm Worker Project, and the Binational Front of Indigenous Organizations (FIOB). Special thanks to Rick Mines and the Indigenous Farmworker Study, funded by the California Endowment, who made the documentation in People of the Harvest possible.

David Bacon's latest book is Illegal People -- How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants (Beacon Press) which just won the CLR James Award. Bacon is also on KFPA's The Morning Show  each Wednesday discussing labor and immigration issues.

In the US, women won the right to vote with the 19th Amendment which reads: "The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation." Noting this sent to the public e-mail account:

To commemorate the anniversary of the Nineteenth Amendment, August 26th, the HerStory Scrapbook website ( is a compilation of over 900 links to articles, editorials, and letters in The New York Times Archive regarding the final four years of the fight for women's suffrage.
Today is Women's Equality Day.  And thank the pionnering Bella Abzug for that because she led the 1971 Cognressional battle to have the day declared a holiday.  Feminist Wire Daily has more news on that here.  And Ms. magazine encourages you to celebrate today:
Celebrate Women's Equality Day by joining Ms. in saluting Gloria Steinem in honor of her 75th birthday.         
As Gloria turns 75, Ms. is providing supporters an opportunity to wish her a happy birthday in the magazine. That's right. Ms. will print the names of supporters who want to celebrate with Gloria this extraordinary landmark -- not only of years, but of her amazing achievements for women.                 
To participate, we are asking you to make a special gift of $75 - or $15 - or $150 - or whatever multiple of $75 you can afford, to not only celebrate Gloria's birthday but to keep her legacy of Ms. strong for future generations. Whatever the size of your contribution, we will make sure your name is printed in Ms. wishing Gloria happy birthday.           
Half her lifetime ago, Gloria launched Ms. magazine - a brazen and rebellious act of independence in the 1970s when the feminist movement was either denigrated or dismissed in the mainstream media - if it was mentioned at all.  Today, Ms. is recognized as one of the top 51 U.S. magazines of all time.          
Please take a moment now to reflect on what Gloria and Ms. have meant to you.  Then sign up to wish Gloria a happy birthday.          
Your name will be part of the issue hitting the newsstands in the fall - if you give now. And, your extraordinary birthday gift to Gloria will ensure her legacy of Ms. stays strong and vibrant for future generations.              
I urge you to act today to make a tax-deductible contribution of $75 - or $15 - or $150 -or  $750 … or even a lifetime membership of $1,000 in honor of Gloria's birthday.    
Help keep Ms. and the women's movement going strong.  Join us in celebrating Gloria - and keep spreading everyday rebellion!         

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