Wednesday, November 18, 2009

About those 'intended' January elections

This morning Anthony Shadid (Washington Post) reports that Tariq al-Hashimi, Iraq's Sunni vice president (they have two vice presidents, one Shia -- Adel Abdul Mehdi, one Sunni) vetoed the election law: "The veto by Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi was the latest wrinkle in growing criticism over the law by the country's biggest minorities, Sunni Arabs and Kurds. Both groups are effectively demanding the allocation of more seats to their blocs in the next parliament, which is almost assured of having a Shiite Muslim majority." In yesterday's snapshot, we noted that the food rations cards being used for the registry was a joke and included a number of reasons why. All Shadid can do is tell you that the food rations cards are overseen by the Trade Ministry. The name we used yesterday -- the one Shadid fails to attach to this story -- is Abdel Falah al-Sudani -- a Nouri appointee to Minister of Trade, a member of Nouri's own political party and someone who was forced to resign in May of this year over corruption issues. It is not a minor issue when your voter roll was overseen by a minister who has had to resign in disgrace. In real time, Bloomberg News noted:

Al-Sudani appeared in parliament on May 16 and 17 to be grilled by lawmakers, the first time an official had been summoned on such charges. Al-Sudani acknowledged cases of corruption and said the system needed to be revised.
Iraq's Commission on Public Integrity earlier this month charged nine trade ministry officials with financial and administrative corruption related to the country's food import program. Officials were accused of selling food instead of giving it to its intended recipients and of letting foodstuffs go bad in ministry warehouses.

"Financial and administrative corruption related to" what is now being hailed as a legitimate voter roll. CNN adds this morning:

Tariq Al-Hashimi said the law is unfair to Iraqis who were forced to flee violence in their homeland.
He refused to sign the law without an amendment that would increase the number of seats allocated to refugees, many of whom are Sunnis, from five percent to 15 percent.
The constitution stipulates that every 100,000 Iraqis should have one representative in the country's parliament but al-Hashemi said that refugee numbers are not included in how seats have been calculated.

Ahmed Rasheed and Deepa Babington (Reuters) quote the Independent High Electoral Commission's chief commissioner Hamdiya al-Hussaini stating, "As a result of the veto, we have decided to stop all our activities and work as we await a final law with a presidential decree that determines the exact date of the election." BBC News quotes Tariq al-Hashemi stating, "I sent a letter to parliament asking for the law to be amended. Parliament said I could veto the contested first article, which is what I have done today. The proposed amendment affords justice to all Iraqis abroad, in all countries, and not just those residing in, or forcefully displaced to, neighbouring countries. Furthermore, the amendment would consecrate the concept of political pluralism and would preclude the monopolisation of the political scene by the strong electoral lists that win the elections." Rod Nordland (New York Times) adds, "Gen. Ray Odierno, the commanding general of U.S. forces, said he Wednesday was still hopeful elections would be held on time, but he added that the military could adapt if there were a delay."

We noted the KRG's press release in yesterday's snapshot but we'll note it in full:

President Barzani: Kurdistan Region will not participate in elections unless seat allocation mechanism is revised

President Barzani today made an announcement regarding the allocation of parliamentary seats in the forthcoming January 2010 Iraqi general elections. He announced that unless the recently formulated mechanism to allocate parliamentary seats to each governorate is revised, the people of the Kurdistan Region will not be able to participate in the elections.

Dr Fuad Hussein, the Kurdistan Region Presidency's Chief of Staff, said that President Masoud Barzani has been closely following the mechanism recently put in place to allocate parliamentary seats to each Iraqi governorate for elections.

He said that President Barzani believes that it is not possible to accept such a seat-allocation based on the food-rationing registry of the Iraqi Trade Ministry, because the mechanism is illogical, contradicts the reality on the ground and is a distortion of facts.

Dr Hussein stated that the Kurdistan Region Presidency views this as an attempt to reduce the number of Kurdistan Region representatives in the next Iraqi parliament and diminish their achievements.

He added that President Barzani is absolutely clear, that unless this seat allocation formula is reconsidered in a just manner, the people of Kurdistan Region will be compelled to boycott the election.

As this is an historic moment in the history of Iraq, he also called on all political parties to shoulder their responsibility to promote democracy. He urges them to refrain from supporting a deceptive mechanism that obviously targets the Kurdistan Region, and which undermines the democratic achievements made so far.

It's not being noted that despite the KRG's objection to the law, Jalal Talabani didn't join in the veto. Talabani, the president of Iraq, is a Kurd. Of course, he's PUK, while Massoud Barzani belongs to the KDP political party.

The only reporter attempting to offer any perspective on this story (most reports read like everyone's reeling in shock -- shock over a development that should have been expected) is Martin Chulov (Guardian) who observes, "However, Hashimi's move has set the scene for a showdown between MPs and the Sunni minority, which increasingly feared it was likely to lose even more political ground. The last election, almost five years ago, was boycotted en masse by Sunnis." And if anyone wants to boo-hoo that assessment (anyone who's written a report or whose outlet has published one), please note that I was nice (or what passes for it on my part) above and didn't point out, for example, "What kind of an idiot, reporting today on this development, writes that the election law passed on Sunday when it was passed by Parliament two Sundays ago?" Use the links, you'll find 'facts' like that in the bulk of the articles quoted above. I'm assuming everyone was reeling in shock and rushing to do a report. So rushed and so reeling that they weren't grasping what they were typing.

For those sending highlights, sorry. Information Clearing House is bathed in sexism today and we're not highlighting it and I've already got a ton of e-mails about the homophobia World Can't Wait has on display at their main page so I'm not interested in promoting that either. It's really telling how much hate there is aimed at groups of people right now, how much hate on the left.

Individuals? Fine. Hate me, for example, I don't give a damn. But this idea that we're going to go after a woman and let's attack all women in the process? Or the Republicans are our enemies so the best way to insult them is to compare them to gay people?

It's offensive.

And it's hate speech. Which can be political speech -- I'm not claiming it's illegal or that it should be. I am stating people who allegedly want to reach as wide an audience as possible might want to purge themselves of hate towards groups of people. Or else they might want to accept that they're confining themselves and walling themselves away from most people.

With Aimee Allison, David Solnit authored the must read Army Of None. David Solnit has now teamed up with his sister Rebecca Solnit, of Courage to Resist, for a new book which is just released, hot off the presses, this week.

Two things I'd like to tell you about:
ACTION: A Global Day of Action for Climate Justice on the ten year anniversary of Seattle WTO shutdown, Nov 30, 2009. Yesterday African delegates walked out of pre-Copenhagen trade talks in Barcelona demanding the US and rich countries commit themselves to deeper and faster greenhouse gas emission cuts and European activists blockaded the talks. The key fight over the future of the planet is taking place right now around climate; corporate market solutions are the new WTO and the US and the rich countries are undermining any efforts at climate solutions to avert even more catastrophic impacts. What could shift things right now is people in the US (doing what we did ten years ago) showing mass resistance to the US government and corporate capitalism's obstruction and false solutions. Please join one of the regional actions being planned in SF and around the US (details here soon) and sign up to take or support direct action and get your folks together now!

BOOK: AK Press asked me to make a book reflecting on the Seattle WTO shutdown from an organizers view. With my sister Rebecca Solnit, Kate and the AK Press collective workers, designer Jason Justice and contributions from fellow organizers we did it just in time for the ten year anniversary. Please support by buying a book , get ten at half-off, and pass on the announcement below.

hope and resistance, David Solnit

"To many mass movements in developing countries that had long been fighting lonely, isolated battles, Seattle was the first delightful sign that people in imperialist countries shared their anger and their vision of another kind of world." -- Arundhati Roy

AK Press is pleased to announce the release of a new book in honor of the tenth anniversary of the Seattle WTO protests: November 30, 2009

By David Solnit & Rebecca Solnit
with Anuradha Mittal, Chris Dixon, Stephanie Guilloud, and Chris Borte

From dawn to dusk on November 30, 1999, tens of thousands of people shut down the World Trade Organization meeting, facing cops firing tear gas and rubber bullets, the National Guard, and the suspension of civil liberties. An unexpected history was launched from the streets of Seattle, one in which popular power would matter as much as corporate power, in which economics assumed center-stage, and people began envisioning who else they could be and what else their economies and societies might look like.

The Battle of the Story of the Battle of Seattleexplores how that history itself has become a battleground and how our perception of it shapes today’s movements against corporate capitalism and for a better world. David Solnit recounts activist efforts to intervene in the Hollywood star-studded movie, Battle in Seattle, and pulls lessons from a decade ago for today. Rebecca Solnit writes of challenging mainstream misrepresentation of the Seattle protests and reflects on official history and popular power. Core organizer Chris Dixon tells the real story of what happened during those five days in the streets of Seattle.

Profusely illustrated, with a reprint of the original 1999 Direct Action Network's "Call to Action" broadsheet-- including key articles by Stephanie Guilloud, Chris Borte, and Chris Dixon -- and a powerful introduction from Anuradha Mittal, The Battle of the Story of the Battle of Seattle is a tribute to the scores of activists struggling for a better world around the globe. It's also a highly-charged attack on media mythmaking in all its forms, from Rebecca Solnit’s battle with the New York Times to David Solnit’s intervention in the Battle in Seattle film, and beyond. Every essay in this book sets the record straight about what really happened in Seattle, and more importantly why it happened. This is the real story.

David Solnit lived and organized in Seattle in 1999 with the Direct Action Network, a group co-initiated by the Art and Revolution Collective, of which he was a part. He has been a mass direct action organizer since the early ’80s, and in the ’90s became a puppeteer and arts organizer. He is the editor of Globalize Liberation: How to Uproot the System and Build a Better World and co-author with Aimee Allison ofArmy of None: Strategies to Counter Military Recruitment, End War and Build a Better World. He currently works as a carpenter in Oakland, California and organizes with Courage to Resist, supporting GI resisters, and with the Mobilization for Climate Justice West.

Rebecca Solnit is an activist, historian and writer who lives in San Francisco. Her twelfth book, A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities that Arise in Disaster, came out this fall. The previous eleven include 2007’s Storming the Gates of Paradise; A Field Guide to Getting Lost; Hope in the Dark: Untold Histories, Wild Possibilities;Wanderlust: A History of Walking;As Eve Said to the Serpent: On Landscape, Gender and Art; River of Shadows, Eadweard Muybridge and the Technological Wild West (for which she received a Guggenheim, the National Book Critics Circle Award in criticism, and the Lannan Literary Award). A contributing editor to Harper’s, she frequently writes for the political site She has worked on antinuclear, antiwar, environmental, indigenous land rights and human rights campaigns and movements over the years.

Available now in electronic galleys. Contact Kate Khatib ( to request a copy for review. Please consider scheduling articles to coincide with the tenth anniversary of the Seattle WTO protests on November 30, 2009.


The Battle of the Story of the Battle of Seattle
is now available for preorder at the AK Press website, and will ship in mid-November. Individuals can get a 25% discount on the cover price (a modest $12) by ordering in advance. If, however, you or your organization is interested in buying copies in bulk at a wholesale rate, to sell or give away at upcoming events or convergences, we have a special deal for you!

Order 10 or more copies of The Battle of the Story of the Battle of Seattle by November 20, and get 50% off the cover price. Books will be shipped to arrive by N30. (Orders must be prepaid, and are non-returnable, except in the case of damaged books. Shipping fees vary based on location.)

Email for more information or to place an order, or simply place your order for 10 or more copies on our website, note *Special 50% off deal* in the comments box during checkout, and we'll apply the 50% discount before we charge your card.

Questions?, or call the warehouse at (510) 208-1700.

Battle of Seattle Cover


ISBN: 978-1-904859635

November 2009

5.5 X 8.5, 128 pages
40+ B&W Illustrations


AK Press

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