Tuesday, November 24, 2009

January elections . . . may take place in February

Iraq's pivotal national elections, originally scheduled for January, faced a likely delay of weeks or even longer after wrangling over a law setting terms for the polls broke down Monday.
Barring a last-minute reversal, a postponement will be at least a temporary setback for the Obama administration's hopes for Iraq, and perhaps even its plans for a swift drawdown of the 115,000 U.S. troops still in the country.

The above is from Sahar Issa and Warren P. Strobel's "Dispute over law means delay likely for Iraq elections" (McClatchy Newspapers) and Liz Sly and Caesar Ahmed (Los Angeles Times) reveal that the Parliament has "adjourned for a holiday until Dec. 8" and report the scene in yesterday's Parliament:

In a rerun of scenes that were common during the height of the bloodshed in 2005 and 2006, fuming Sunnis stormed out of the parliamentary session, leaving the main Shiite and Kurdish alliances that dominate the legislature to vote overwhelmingly for amendments that will take away seats from Sunni provinces and add them to Kurdish ones.
The amendments did not offer any extra seats to Iraqi refugees, who include many Sunnis, and therefore did not address the complaint that prompted Vice President Tariq Hashimi to veto the original law last week.

Steven Lee Myers (New York Times) explains, "The three-member Presidency Council, which includes Mr. Hashimi, President Jalal Talabani, and a second vice president, Adel Abdul Mahdi, now has 10 days to approve or veto the law." CNN walks through on the Constitutional powers, "According to Iraq's constitution, the presidency council -- made up of Kurdish President Jalal Talabani, Shiite Vice President Adel Abdul Mehdi and al-Hashimi -- must unanimously approve a bill for it to become law." That was so confusing to so many last week -- or they pretended it was. The Constitution is very clear that the council has the power to veto and everything passed by the Parliament has gone to the council -- though most outlets only paid attention to this aspect when the SOFA went to the council last year. CNN adds that if the council offers a veto, it would require a 2/3 vote from the majority of the MPs to push the legislation forward. Aamer Madhaniand Ahmed Fadaam (USA Today) quotes Iraqi Accordance Front spokesperson Salim Abdullah stating, "What has happened today represents a setback" and states Iraq's Independent High Electoral Commission believes the election will be pushed back to February. Nada Bakri (Washington Post) also notes the latter point, "Faraj al-Haidari, the head of the electoral commission, suggested that the elections would be held in February, although he said he was waiting for Hashimi's decision." Waleed Ibrahim (Reuters) reports the commission head Faraj al-Haidari declared today, "In all cases the possibility of holding the vote in January is over."

Meanwhile Jessica Holloway (KFDM) reports on Southeast Texas soldiers training at Fort Hood (where the soldiers are "learning to spot and identify improvised explosive devices or IEDs") who will deploy to Iraq in the new year. Anna Mulrine (US News & World Report) examines the issue of suicides in the army:

In many cases, the Army has tried to respond intuitively. It stands to reason that troops who drink too much might be at greater risk of harming themselves, and so the Pentagon recently launched a controversial pilot program that allows soldiers to seek out substance abuse treatment without the knowledge of their superior officers. "Leaders didn't particularly care for it," Chiarelli says. But the Army forged ahead with the program at three bases, keeping counseling services open late and on weekends so soldiers could stop by discreetly. But they have run into another problem: There simply are not enough substance abuse counselors. "I'm having one heck of a time getting the numbers I need," said Chiarelli, citing appointment waiting lists of three months for some soldiers.
There is, in fact, a shortage of mental-health counselors throughout the military. The Army has hired almost 900 therapists in the past two years, but that still leaves a severe shortage; it needs "somewhere in the vicinity of, I would argue, 800" more, Chiarelli said.
With the goal of quickly bringing on new counseling hires, the Pentagon has grappled with whether quality might suffer. It is a concern that seemed even more relevant this week, on the heels of news that the alleged shooter in this month's Fort Hood rampage, Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, received poor performance reviews and proved to be, on multiple occasions, an incompetent therapist. Did these warning signs go unnoticed -- or ignored -- because of a desperate shortage of mental-health professionals in the military? And if the Pentagon had paid more attention, would it have discovered that one of its own might have been homicidal as well? "Well," said Chiarelli, "I think we always have to be concerned about that."

The following community sites updated last night:

And Elaine's "Iraq, Isaiah, Ava and C.I. Melrose," Ruth's "Do we need a part two?," Marcia's "Adam Lambert and the AMA moment(s)," Trina's "House and Senate agree: Women don't matter," Ann's "Whoopi Goldberg's an ass" and Kat's "Carly's new album onsale for download at $5.00." And on what Kat's blogging about, copying from yesterday's snapshot: " Carly Simon's latest album is Never Been Gone (Kat sang its praises here) and this week only you can download the entire album at Amazon for $5.00. That's all 12 tracks." That's a limited time special so don't miss out on the amazing album at the unbelievable price of $5.00. [Disclosure, I know Carly and love her. She's one of the country's finest songwriters and one of the finest people as well. And the album's amazing.] She's re-imagining some of her best loved songs including "Coming Around Again" which has this addition to it:

The heartbeat went out of our house
The rhythm went out of our romance
But in life that happens and you just
Have to remember to breathe
And it then will return, if you just remember to breathe
After all I've been through, I'll wait it on through
If I can just remember to breathe

Aimee Allison is co-host of KPFA's The Morning Show. She and David Solnit paired up to write the amazing Army Of None. With his sister Rebecca Solnit, of Courage to Resist, David has
written the just-released book The Battle of the Story of the Battle of Seattle. If you're having trouble finding a copy of it, you're not alone and let's assume that's a good sign and meaning there's a large audience out there for this important book. But in the meantime, there are several actions David Solnit is noting (we noted the ones this week in yesterday's snapshot):

Join the Mobilization for Climate Justice West for upcoming days of protest and civil disobedience on Nov 30th (11:30AM on 11/30 at Justin Herman Plaza, SF) and Dec 7th, as well as lead-up events this week!

1. Monday, November 23rd: “Ten Years: Seattle to Copenhagen ” teach-in (sponsored by International Forum for Globalization)

2. Tuesday, November 24th: Climate Justice teach-in (sponsored by Movement Generation and the Center for Political Education)

3. Tuesday, November 24th: Arts Activism / Theatre-Based Climate Justice Training (sponsored by Mobilization for Climate Justice)

4. Monday, November 30th (N30) March, civil disobedience, rally, children’s parade for climate justice. Start at Justin Herman Plaza at 11:30, then march to Bank of America at Pine and Kearny . Early evening target TBA.

5. December 7th Chevron action

1. “Ten Years: Seattle to Copenhagen ” teach-in

Monday, November 23rd, 7-9pm

First Unitarian Universalist Church, 1187 Franklin St (Geary @Franklin), SF

More info: 415-561-7650, ahalbert@ifg.org, www.ifg.org

Sliding scale of $10-$25. No one turned away for lack of funds.

Fifty thousand peaceful protesters on the streets of Seattle stunned the world on November 30, 1999 when they shut down the World Trade Organization’s attempt to launch a new round of world trade talks aimed at expanding global corporate power over peoples. Ten years later, the WTO remains on the ropes due to a sophisticated network of activists who have kept the WTO from concluding its negotiations. Though maybe less visible today, global justice networks are morphing into new movements to turn crises like global climate change into opportunities for political transformation. We will discuss one current process toward global economic transition: the United Nations’ summit to seal a climate deal next month in Copenhagen , where the “spirit of Seattle ” is being invoked to inspire actions. Please join us in recalling Seattle ’s popular victory through reflections with those who made history happen, and all who see more change to come.

Jerry Mander, Victor Menottii, and Claire Greensfelder, IFG

Anuradha Mittal, Oakland Institute

David Solnit and Rebecca Solnit, local author-activists

Jia Ching Chen, youth-of-color organizer

Kevin Danaher, Global Exchange

2. Climate Justice Teach-In

Tuesday, November 24th, 6:30 PM
390 27th St. (Humanist Hall), Oakland
wheelchair accessible (from 28th St . )

$5-$10 donation requested, no one turned away for lack of funds

On December 7, 2009, world leaders and international NGOs will meet in Copenhagen to chart out a course for a new global climate deal, and in doing so, try to set up a new post-WTO framework for economic globalization. Outside the conference halls, a convergences of climate justice activists from the Global South will be waiting to say "Another World is Possible." Join environmental and climate justice activists for a lead up discussion to the November 30th day of action and on the road to Copenhagen .

Speakers will kick us off with some thoughts on these questions:

  • From an environmental justice perspective, what’s the best thing that could come out of Copenhagen ? What’s the worst?
  • How will differences between the Global South and powers in the north be resolved? Who will shoulder the impact of these changes?
  • How are social movements in the Global South organizing around Copenhagen and how are these movements different than in the United States ?
  • Are there any openings that progressive activists in the US can build on to advance environmental and climate justice?

3. Arts Activism / Theatre-Based Climate justice Training

Tuesday, November 24th, 5:30pm

East Bay location TBA (check http://actforclimatejustice.org/west for more details)

Join us in preparing for a national day of action for Climate Justice on Nov. 30th. We will begin by doing an interactive climate justice workshop, then participants will choose to either develop an arts-based action (potentially with theatre, puppets, poetry, music...) or learn some Non-violent direct action skills. At the end of the workshop we will come back together and rehearse an arts-based direct action to do in the streets on N30.

*Open to activists of all ages!*

4. On Monday, November 30th (N30), the 10th anniversary of the global justice movement’s successful non-violent shut-down of the WTO, join us for a national day of action for climate justice. There will be safe and fun spaces for children, parents and everyone else who cannot be too near civil disobedience.

When: 11:30am, November 30tt (Remember 11/30 at 11:30)

Where: Meet at Justin Herman Plaza and go from there to a mass action with non-violent civil disobedience at the Bank of America on the corner of Pine and Kearny

On N30, we will expose some of San Francisco ’s worst climate criminals, demanding that they stop financing climate change and standing in the way of climate solutions. The following targets have been chosen for the national day of action: Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, Chevron, British Petroleum, American Electric Power. The San Francisco action will target Bank of America, which is the 3rd biggest financier of the oil & gas industry in the world and the second biggest financier of coal in the U.S. We support affinity groups organizing autonomous actions against the other targets. For more details on the targets, seehttp://www.actforclimatejustice.org/tools-resources/dirty-money-and-dirtier-fuels-6-corporate-climate-criminals/.

Upcoming organizing meeting & non-violent direct action trainings:

Saturday, November 28th, Station 40, 3030b 16th Street, San Francisco

1-3pm: Non-violent direct action training

3-4pm: Climate Justice Teach-in with Payal Parekh, a climate scientist, now with International Rivers, who co-authored the Fourth Assessment Report on Climate Change, by the Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change (IPCC)-- the leading body for the assessment of climate change, established by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Meteorological Organization.

4-6pm: N30 action planning / spokescouncil meeting

5. On Monday, December 7th at 7am, on the first day of climate change negotiations in Copenhagen , join us at the world headquarters of Chevron in San Ramon to tell one of the world’s worst climate polluters “our climate is not your business!”

When: Monday, December 7th, 7am

Where: Chevron Corporate Headquarters ( 6001 Bollinger Canyon Road , San Ramon)

For detailed directions (including carpool and shuttle information), see http://west.actforclimatejustice.org/upcoming-events/december-7th-chevron-protest/directions-to-chevron-headquarters/

DEMANDS: We are going to Chevron’s headquarters demanding that they take the following steps to stop obstructing the urgent action that must be taken to confront climate change:

  1. Support equitable, science-based targets and climate solutions in international climate change negotiations and domestically.
  2. Pledge not to support any fake “grassroots” campaigns against national climate change legislation
  3. Cap the crude and stop expanding into heavier sources of crude oil.

For more details on these demands, see


We need volunteers who are willing to risk arrest to make a difference and send a clear message to Chevron. To sign up for non-violent civil disobedience on December 7th, send an email to mcjbay@gmail.com, attend the following meeting on December 6th, and attend a non-violent direct action training if you are new to civil disobedience.

Organizing Meeting / Teach-in / Civil Disobedience training:

Sunday, December 6th: Berkeley Unitarian Fellowship 1924 Cedar St. (at Bonita), Berkeley (http://www.bfuu.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=13&Itemid=27)

12-3pm: Non-violent direct action training

3-4pm: TEACH IN: Premier screening of the new animated film, “The Story of

Cap & Trade: Why you can't solve a problem with the thinking that created it” By Annie Leonard Free Range Studios, makers of the Story of Stuff. WIth special guest from The Story of Stuff.

Antonia Juhasz, author of the Tyrany of Oil, will explain Chevrons leading role in creating climate pollution and blocking climate change solutions.

4-7pm: Dec 7th orientation / planning meeting

Mobilization for Climate Justice West

NEW BOOK: The Battle of the Story of the Battle of Seattle
"The book is a fascinating account of what really happened in Seattle." -Naomi Klein

The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com.

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