Wednesday, November 04, 2009

No Iraq election law still

An impasse over a law crucial to organizing next year's Iraqi elections is illustrating more starkly than ever the United States' dwindling ability to shape Iraqi politics and settle disputes.
U.S. and U.N. officials have grown increasingly worried in recent days as Iraqi lawmakers have continued to put off a vote amid bickering over how to hold elections in the disputed city of Kirkuk. Because the stalemate threatens to delay the elections, and a delay could paralyze the Iraqi government, U.S. commanders may be forced to reevaluate whether to postpone the pullout of their troops.
U.S. Ambassador Christopher R. Hill has spent hours in Iraq's parliament in recent days trying to narrow the divide between Sunnis and Kurds over Kirkuk.

The above is from Ernesto Londoño and K.I. Ibrahim's "Iraqi logjam over vote law has U.S. anxious" (Washington Post) and it is hilarious to picture Chris Hill doing his usual stunt -- being the laziest employee of the State Dept and when the problem he's created is finally noticed, he goes into a flurry of last minute activity. He has lousy work habits and the 'logjam' can be, in part, attributed to the fact that Hill is the US Ambbassador to Iraq.

This is what happens when someone who has lousy work habits and no knowledge of the region is put in charge just because he's a crony with someone in the administration. (The same person, by the way, who was tasked with handling the MEK issue last November -- tasked with that assignment which was then promptly ignored.)

The bombings across Iraq continue. Reuters notes a Mahmudiya car bombing which injured four people today, a Baghdad car bombing which left five people (three of them Iraqi soldiers) injured, a second Baghdad car bombing left seven people wounded, a Baghdad roadside bombing which injured four people (two of them police officers), a Baghdad home bombing which claimed the life of 1 police officer, his wife and their daughter and, dropping back to yesterday, a Baghdad mortar attack which left 7 US service members injured. As the bombings continue, multiple reports have appeared in the last months about the 'bomb detectors' and how they're so very good at detecting perfume and cologne but worthless when it comes to bombs. At the end of October, an Iraqi correspondent for McClatchy was exploring the subject at Inside Iraq:

Before starting telling you what happens in most of the checkpoints you should know about the "explosives detectors". The device is carried by security man who stops your car and walk beside it carrying the device. The device's pointer changes its direction when passed by a car that supposedly carries explosives.
But the main flaw it points also if there is any chemical material like detergents or even medicine.

The correspondent also addresses a multitude of other problems with the checkpoints, but staying on the issue of the 'bomb detectors,' in this morning's New York Times, Rod Nordland reports:

The small hand-held wand, with a telescopic antenna on a swivel, is being used at hundreds of checkpoints in Iraq. But the device works "on the same principle as a Ouija board" -- the power of suggestion -- said a retired United States Air Force officer, Lt. Col. Hal Bidlack, who described the wand as nothing more than an explosives divining rod.
Still, the Iraqi government has purchased more than 1,500 of the devices, known as the ADE 651, at costs from $16,500 to $60,000 each. Nearly every police checkpoint, and many Iraqi military checkpoints, have one of the devices, which are now normally used in place of physical inspections of vehicles.
With violence dropping in the past two years, Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki has taken down blast walls along dozens of streets, and he contends that Iraqis will safeguard the nation as American troops leave.

Turning to the subject of refugees, the Copenhagen Post reports that Denmark police rounded up 12 Iraqis who were seeking refuge who were then forcibly returned to Iraq under the May 13th "forcible repatriation agreement" between the two governments (making 47 now forced to return to Iraq from Denmark). Approximately 200 protestors demonstrated against the action.

Meanwhile, as so much of the media forgets the Iraq War, it's interesting to see who steps up to the plate (and, of course, who doesn't). Heloise readers haven't forgotten. From the latest "Hints From Heloise" (Washington Post):

Dear Heloise: Our church group has decided to start sending baked goods as CARE PACKAGES to military personnel in Iraq. We brainstormed several ideas, such as shoe boxes, etc., but found that the best way to send a cake to anyone overseas is to bake the cake in a small, metal coffee can. After baking, remove the cake to cool. Then repack it in the can, put on the plastic lid the coffee came with and pack the can in a postal box. Soldiers tell us that they love getting cakes this way for two reasons:
1. The cake arrives in one piece
2. The cake can be stored easily, with an airtight lid, if it's not eaten all at once. -- Gwen, via e-mail
How wonderful to hear that your group is sending home-baked goodies to our troops! Nothing beats a treat from the heart and kitchen!
Your group deserves a big Heloise hug, and I know the troops who receive the goodies are appreciative, too.
I'd love to hear hints from other readers who send treats to troops. -- Heloise

The following community sites updates last night:

Cedric's Big Mix
Jealousy flares up in the White House
10 hours ago

The Daily Jot
10 hours ago

Thomas Friedman is a Great Man
12 hours ago

Mikey Likes It!
Corzine goes down for the count
12 hours ago

Oh Boy It Never Ends
12 hours ago

Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude
c.i. and ccr
13 hours ago

And Marcia's "Pins & Needles," Trina's "The economy," Ruth's "Equality," Elaine's "The silence from the (co-opted) 'leaders'," Ann's "Never Been Gone" and Kat's "Carly."

We'll close with the opening of Elaine Brower's "Charges against 7 Anti-Recruiting Protesters Dropped" (World Can't Wait):

On Monday, November 2nd, seven defendants, flanked by their eye-witnesses and friends, appeared at Philadelphia Municipal Court for trial based on arrests at the "Army Experience Center" on May 2nd of this year.
The charges against us stemmed from a protest which began at St. Stevens Church, and followed by a lively and raucous march to the Franklin Mills Mall where the "AEC" is housed. "Escorted" by Philly Civil Affairs police, and some local police, hundreds of people gathered outside the storefront violent video gaming center aimed at pre-teen military recruitment, and voiced their dissent.

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