Sunday, October 11, 2009

And the war drags on . . .

Yesterday there were no deaths in Iraq . . . Yeah, right. Today violence sweeps Iraq in such a huge wave that even the press has to pay attention.

Ramadi was rocked with violence. Mohammad al Dulaimy and Jamal Naji (McClatchy Newspapers) report, First, they bombed a crowded parking lot outside the Anbar provincial government's headquarters. Seven minutes later, they detonated a car bomb aimed at the rescue workers. An hour later, a third bomb exploded outside the hospital where survivors were receiving treatment." Liz Sly (Los Angeles Times) adds that the bombings are being seen by some as an attempt to influence elections while the United Nations is saying that the 'scheduled' January 16th elections might "have to be delayed because of squabbling within Iraq's legislature over what kind of election law to adopt and the composition of the commission that will oversee the poll." Here's the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq's statement in full:

Baghdad - 11 October 2009 - Today the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Iraq, Ad Melkert expressed UNAMI’s concerns that with 96 days before the election there remains no clarity on the election law. Mr. Melkert reiterated the United Nations’ support for election preparations and promised continued technical advice to the IHEC in all the essential areas of its activities. He stated that "holding parliamentary elections on 16 January appears to be something that is strongly desired by the people of Iraq, will be a vital milestone for the Iraq's democratization process, and called for by the Iraq Constitution".
UNAMI fully respects last week's parliamentary process and the desire of members of the Council of Representatives to question the IHEC Board of Commissioners. The SRSG suggests that a thorough evaluation of IHEC's performance in carrying out all electoral activities in Iraq since 2008 should be undertaken by the Council of Representatives once the results of the January 2010 elections have been officially announced. At this stage, however, UNAMI believes that significant changes to the institutional set-up in IHEC would severely disrupt the ongoing electoral preparations to the point that it would not be possible to hold credible elections until a considerably later date.
UNAMI is optimistic that, with its continued and indeed expanded support, the IHEC should be able to deliver credible election results in January 2010 that will be broadly accepted by all political factions and the Iraqi voters. But to achieve this, preparations will need to be accelerated in a number of areas, and support is required from many parts of the Government. At the same time, the SRSG once again urges the Council of Representatives to clarify the legal framework for the elections in the coming week.

The Los Angeles Times puts the death toll at 26 and McCatchy says over eighty were injured. Zhang Xiang (Xinhua) cites an unnamed Interior Ministry source stating 80% "of the wounded were policemen and 10 percent of the injured were in a critical condition". The Telegraph of London insists, "A reinvigorated insurgency would pose a grave danger to the country's fragile stability as it prepares for crucial parliamentary elections early next year." So now the elections might be on hold? Gina Chon (Wall St. Journal) adds, " Iraqi legislators face a Thursday deadline to approve an election law for January's parliamentary polls, while opposition grows against plans for a so-called closed-list ballot."

Where's that 'progress'? Thursday's the deadline. For those who've forgotten, these elections? They were supposed to take place in December. Many months ago they were kicked back to January. Many, many months ago. That delay was used by the administration to justify their refusal to keep the Barack's 'pledge' of withdrawing troops in ten months. Now it turns out that unless something happens very quickly, elections won't be able to take place in January. Where's that 'progress'? And where's that diplomatic effort? And why are US forces still on the ground in Iraq?

They're just there to try and make the people free,
But the way that they're doing it, it don't seem like that to me.
Just more blood-letting and misery and tears
That this poor country's known for the last twenty years,
And the war drags on.
-- words and lyrics by Mick Softly (available on Donovan's Fairytale)

Last Sunday, ICCC's number of US troops killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war was 4348 and tonight? 4349.

Along with the 26 dead and at least eighty injured in the triple bombing noted earlier, other violence was reported today.

Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 2 Baghdad roadside bombing claimed 1 life and left eight people wounded, a Mosul roadside bombing wounded one person, a second one wounded a police officer and a Tikrit roadside bombing claimed the life of 1 police officer and left three others wounded. Reuters notes the Baghdad twin bombings (Mahmudiya market) toll rose by 1 to two people killed today. Remember how no violence was reported yesterday? Today Reuters drops back to yesterday to note a Mosul roadside bombing claimed 1 life and left another person injured and 1 college student was shot dead in Mosul yesterday.

Two things on the above paragraph. First, "Mohammed" or "Mohammad"? The first name is spelled as it's spelled at the links. Don't e-mail me informing me that I've mistakenly spelled someone's name two different ways. I've spelled as it is currently credited at both links. Second, the Saturday deaths were reported today. So in the monthly count they will show up today. When we do the end of the month count (or the weekly one at Third), we're noting when the deaths were reported, "X number reported dead on Sunday." There were three questions in the public account about that. (And if you're confused, you can always click on the link and look at that day's reported violence.)

New content at Third:

Truest statement of the week
Truest statement of the week II
A note to our readers
Editorial: It's not hurt feelings
TV: The Good, the Barack and the Ugly
Getting the help you need
Baby Comics
Halloween (Dona)
Senator Byron Dorgan on shoddy contractors

And all illustrations are up (see Jim's note if that confuses you). Isaiah's latest goes up after this. Pru notes the following by Simon Assaf (Great Britain's Socialist Worker):

This article should be read after: » Labour's criminal assault on poor families
The history of New Labour’s right wing crime strategy
by Simon Assaf
Tony Blair coined a famous phrase that would come to represent New Labour’s “realistic” approach to crime – “tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime”.
The argument went that crime harms working class communities – and to ignore it would mean abandoning vulnerable people.
New Labour’s position appeared to combine a right wing crackdown on criminals with a traditional left wing explanation of crime as resulting from inequality and poverty.
In fact New Labour has dropped any reference to left wing explanations for crime and used the slogan as a flimsy cover to shift further right.
Traditionaly those from the left and the right considered “crime” to be curable – either through social change or by reforming an individual’s personality.
But in the 1970s a new right wing movement emerged that rejected any notion that there were reasons for criminal activity other than “personal choice”.
James Wilson, an advisor to Ronald Reagan, championed this theory along with Ronald V Clarke, a senior civil servant under Margaret Thatcher’s Tory government.
Wilson developed a theory known as “broken windows”. He argued that if a window is left unfixed then it would encourage people to break other windows – but he used it as an analogy for “broken people”.
The idea goes that if a homeless person, group of youths or a beggar appear in an area, they will attract others and lead to the breakdown of “order”. The police should treat these activities with “zero tolerance” – even if it was not illegal – to preserve “order”.
Clarke drew on the same idea. He argued that it was idealistic and unrealistic to try to “fix” society.
The free market was the natural way to do things and those who did not accept this, or fit into it, should simply be removed from society.
The “law abiding” communities would then be discouraged from any criminal act. Rather than deal with the underlying reasons for crime, the argument went that the “opportunity” to break the law had to be reduced.
High walls
This means CCTV cameras, neighbourhood watch, and so called “target hardening” – doors should be locked, car alarms fitted and so on.
Eventually this would alter the behaviour of those who would think about committing a crime.
Once these “crimes of opportunity” are reduced the “hardened criminals” could be identified and “warehoused” in super prisons.
These “right realists”, as they called themselves, claimed that serious crime was something only poor people will do.
They argued that if a businessman is caught with his hand in the till he would not be able to repeat the offence because he would be sacked.
Poor people, however, will always return to crime because they have no choice. So the poorer you are the harsher your sentence must be.
This movement was crowned by the theory of the “underclass”.
Charles Murray, a right wing criminologist in the US, argued that there were groups in society who will always make up the “criminal class”.
He identified single parent families as the main cause of crime and, using pseudo-science, also labelled black people and Latinos as being “genetically predisposed” to breaking the law.
New Labour seized on the idea of an underclass.
Effectively it divided the poor, between an underclass with “feral children” and “broken families” on one hand, and those who obey the law and are thus “deserving” on the other.
The best a government could do would be to help lift the deserving poor out of poverty while cracking down hard on the underclass.
Labour has proved itself to be “tough on crime” with its criminalisation of young people
But the “causes of crime” are no longer said to be economic conditions, alienation or poverty, but an “underclass” of undesirables that has to be “managed” and “punished.”
At the heart of these policies is the idea that we live in the best possible world. If you do not fit in, that is because you choose not to. And this choice will land you in jail.
The following should be read alongside this article: »
Labour's criminal assault on poor families» Interview: ‘People look down on you if you’re a young mum’» Teenagers interviewed: ‘Adults always think the worst of you’
© Socialist Worker (unless otherwise stated). You may republish if you include an active link to the original.
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