Friday, November 20, 2009

Those 'intended' elections

A number of mortar shells have targeted the sprawling US military bases on the outskirts of Tikrit in Iraq's northern province of Salah al-Din.
A local police source told the Aswat al-Iraq news agency that multiple mortar rounds landed Thursday morning inside Camp Anaconda, which is located in the Yathrib district on the southern outskirts of Tikrit.

The above is from Iran's Press TV which adds that Camp Speicher was attacked with rockets on Tuesday. Meanwhile Reuters reports a Mosul roadside bombing today which injured a police officer, a Mosul stabbing of "an Egyptian" last night and another civilian shot dead in Mosul last night as well as a Thursday Baghdad bombing which left nine people injured. While all of those serious events take place, the New York Times' editorial board never fails to provide huge guffaws.

The Constitution requires the election by the end of January. Election officials had said that the law needed to be done by Oct. 15 to allow enough time to prepare for the voting. Even though Iraq’s Parliament overshot that deadline when it approved compromise legislation, the election was expected to take place between Jan. 18 and Jan. 23.
But the Presidency Council (composed of the president, a Kurd, and two vice presidents, a Sunni and a Shiite) has the final say. And Mr. Hashimi chose to exercise his veto power and put in doubt Iraq's second national election, a critical test of whether democracy can endure as the United States withdraws its troops.
It was a new reminder that while violence in Iraq has significantly declined over the last couple of years, underlying ethnic tensions remain raw and unresolved.

The above is from "Iraq's Election Law Morass" and note, yet again, how the editorial board thinks the Constitution matters . . . sometimes. Sometimes Iraq's Constitution doesn't matter. It appears the editorial board is concerned with the Constitution only when what they want doesn't happen. Refuse to conduct a national census? The editorial board's okay with that. Refuse to resolve the Kirkuk issue (as the Constitution mandated be done by 2007)? The editorial board's okay with that. It's a funny sort of semi-devotion to the Constitution but then the New York Times is a funny sort of news outlet. Sami Moubayed covers the developments in Iraq at Asia Times:

Hashemi claims the election law does not properly represent Iraqis living in the diaspora, granting them no more than 5% of the 323-seat parliament. According to numerous records, including those of the government, well over a million Iraqis live outside of Iraq, most of them Sunnis. To grant them proper representation, they ought to be given 15% of the seats, Hashemi argued.
Frantically, Maliki responded. On Thursday evening, the Constitutional Court (over which Mailik has plenty of influence) overruled Hashemi's veto, calling it "unconstitutional".
The problem will now be returned to parliament, which on Saturday will vote on two options: it can send the same law that Hashemi vetoed back to the three-member presidency council, where it is likely to be vetoed again - or it can amend the law to address Hashemi's concerns.
Under the constitution, however, parliament can override a second veto with a three-fifths majority, which it probably could amass if most Shi'ite and Kurdish lawmakers chose to.

Waleed Ibrahim, Suadad al-Salhy, Aseel Kami, David Alexander, Deepa Babington, Samia Nakhoul and Todd Eastham (Reuters) report, "Instead of addressing Hashemi's demand that the law give more seats to Iraqi refugees and minorities, lawmakers squabbled over whether the veto was legal. They scheduled a session Saturday in which they would vote on whether to reject Hashemi's veto and send the law back for approval by the three-person presidency council without changes, said the speaker of parliament, Ayad al-Samarai." They go on to address the claims Baha al-Araji was making (see yesterday's snapshot) about the veto being "unconstitutional" and how this is "political wrangling" and MP Saleh al-Mutlaq states, "To my knowledge, the federal court did not say the veto is not constitutional. They are trying to create a real political crisis."

Tracy Barker was raped while working in Iraq for KBR. She has received a settlement and that's great for her and she deserves much more than she has but we're not going to be playing that up because it's only a matter of time before KBR (currently appealing the judgment) turns around and starts trying to argue that this is proof that arbitration works (it's not proof) and that there's no need to utilize the court system (there is).

TV notes, NOW on PBS debuts its latest episode Friday on most PBS stations and this one examines:

The Pentagon estimates that as many as one in five American soldiers are
coming home from war zones with traumatic brain injuries, many of which
require round-the-clock attention. But lost in the reports of these
returning soldiers are the stories of family members who often sacrifice
everything to care for them. On Friday, November 20 at 8:30 pm (check
local listings), NOW reveals how little has been done to help these
family caregivers, and reports on dedicated efforts to support them.

Washington Week also begins airing on many PBS stations tonight (and throughout the weekend, check local listings) and joining Gwen around the roundtable are John Dickerson (CBS News, Slate), Doyle McManus (Los Angeles Times), David Sanger (New York Times) and Karen Tumulty (Time magazine). Meanwhile Bonnie Erbe will sit down with Avis Jones-Deweever, Page Gardner, and Tara Setmayer to discuss the week's events on PBS' To The Contrary. Check local listings, on many stations, it begins airing tonight. And turning to broadcast TV, Sunday CBS' 60 Minutes offers:

The Cost of Dying
Many Americans spend their last days in an intensive care unit, subjected to uncomfortable machines or surgeries to prolong their lives at enormous cost. Steve Kroft reports. | Watch Video

Recently freed after four months of interrogation and torture at the hands of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, Newsweek reporter Maziar Bahari tells his story to Bob Simon and writes about his ordeal in the next issue of Newsweek.

Cameron's Avatar
Morley Safer gets the first broadcast look at how "Titanic" director James Cameron created his $400 million 3D fantasy "Avatar." | Watch Video

60 Minutes, Sunday, Nov. 22, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

Radio notes, today on NPR's The Diane Rehm Show (begins airing on most NPR stations live at 10:00 am EST and begins streaming online at the same time) finds Diane and her guests addressing the week's news. The first hour, domestic, has Naftali Bendavid (Wall St. Journal), Eleanor Clift (Newsweek) and Byron York (Washington Examiner) joining her while the second hour's panel (the international hour) is Nadia Bilbassy (MCB TV), James Fallows (Atlantic Monthly) and Moises Naim (Foreign Policy). Also, yesterday on the first hour, Diane and her guest explored the mental health issues (including the news of the increased suicide rate this year in the Army) on the second hour of the program. The most recent Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox (began airing and streaming Sunday) is her interview with Noam Chomsky -- this is the interview where she asks the questions her listeners e-mailed. Eddie notes this from Cindy's "Barack Obama Does Not Speak For Me" (Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox):

I can't count how many times I have been called an "anti-war radical," and I have never killed anyone or plotted to kill anyone, but I will NOT support the troops by supporting insupportable missions.
I will not support the "mission" by paying my Federal income taxes and I will not support the troops by flying the imperial flag or putting a yellow ribbon on my car, either. I will support the troops the only way I know how: by being an "anti-war radical," no matter what the cost.
If we "lose" in the "wars" that the Bush regime started and the Obama regime has escalated it only will be because they were ever started in the first place.

Page Gardner, who'll be on Bonnie Erbe's show, is the president of Women's Voices, Women Vote which announced yesterday:

Women's Voices. Women Vote is pleased to announce the appointment of Amy C. Young as our Executive Director. She will be responsible for managing the organization's programs and overseeing its daily operations.

Ms. Young comes to WVWV with extensive experience in the non-profit and for-profit sectors, specializing in organizational development, strategic planning, fundraising, and grassroots organizing. In her nearly 20 years of experience, Amy has developed a particular expertise in mobilizing citizens to participate in elections and public policy debates.

Most recently, Amy was president of the consulting firm Progressive Solutions Group. Previously, she was the Executive Director of Voices for Working Families. Prior to that Amy served as Midwest and Deputy Political Director for the Democratic National Committee. She also served two years as the Executive Director of the Ohio Democratic Party. Amy has also worked for the ACLU, AFL-CIO, and SEIU. She began her career as a legislative aide to Ohio State Senator, Neal Zimmers.

A native of Ohio, Amy graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Dayton with Bachelor of the Arts degrees in History and Political Science.

We're very excited to have Amy joining the organization and we look forward to her leadership as we develop the next generation of models, methods, and messages to keep the Rising American Electorate engaged in our democracy.

And we'll close with this from Debra Sweet's "Propelling the Resistance into 2010" (World Can't Wait -- national meeting in NYC, use link):

I'm looking forward to meeting with people from around the country at World Can't Wait's national meeting this weekend. We are determined to go forward and mobilize people on the basis of principle to oppose, resist, and stop the crimes of our government, the fascist re-making of the U.S., and to do all this with creativity, daring and confidence that we can succeed.
In the past year, under different political conditions than when World Can't Wait was founded to drive out the Bush Regime, we have done some amazing things with limited resources and a national network of volunteers:

challenged the broader anti-war movement to stand up against the "good war" Obama is escalating: Afghanistan

  • stayed visible, in the streets, resisting and protesting in cities from Hawaii to New York and many between
  • organized the We Are Not Your Soldiers tour, bringing the true story of what the military is like as told by veterans themselves to high school students around the country
  • broke into national media with our protests of John Yoo (the torture lawyer now teaching at UC Berkeley), protests shutting down the Army Experience Center, on the anniversary of the invasion of Afghanistan in front of the White House, and while sucessfully defending the heroic Dr. Carhart in Omaha, Nebraska from violently anti-choice groups
  • recently, we've been in the streets of DC with many thousands at the National Equality March, and helped organize a national tour for British author and filmaker Andy Worthington, with his new film, Outside the Law: Stories from Guantanamo.

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