Monday, November 23, 2009

Times slips Nouri some tongue, Parliament passes something

Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki has been campaigning on having largely restored security and normality to the country. It has in many ways been a successful campaign; it helped him sweep to an unexpected victory in provincial elections, and emboldened him to separate from the sectarian alliance of Shiites that dominated the last national elections, and run his own slate in January's national elections.
Mr. Maliki has many opponents in the political establishment, but his most potent opponents are the extremists who have proven able to carry out spectacular attacks that undermine his core argument -- that things are better.
When they struck on Aug. 19 with two suicide truck bombs that destroyed the foreign and finance ministries, killing 155 people, the attacks could be dismissed as an anomaly, and they were. When they struck again on Oct. 25, however, with two suicide bombers who destroyed three government buildings and killed 122 people, it was clearly the enemy’s version of a campaign debate -- albeit one-sided, and viciously to the point.

That's the New York Times' Rod Nordland (at the paper's blog) and when you read garbage like this -- often written to curry favor with the local despot (what the Times sees as one of the requirements of carrying international coverage, believe it or not) -- you grasp why the whole bloated newspaper system may go under and why few would ever miss it. For just a moment, let's try to remove Nordland's lips from Nouri's ass, okay?

"It has in many ways been a successful campaign; it helped him sweep to an unexpected victory in provincial elections, and emboldened him to separate from the sectarian alliance of Shiites that dominated the last national elections, and run his own slate in January's national elections." Hate to break it to Rod (and others at the paper who have pimped this lie for some time), Nouri did not have a 'victory' in the provincial elections. He had no victory in July when they were held in 3 provinces -- a fact the New York Times likes to pretend never happened. And he had no 'victory' in January 2009 when 14 of Iraq's 18 provinces held elections. Nouri (a) was not running and (b) his party saw nothing resembling a victory. A victory would mean no need to cobble together a patchwork coalition. For example, for most of this decade, in England, the Labour Party has had a huge victory. By contrast, in Canada for most of this decade, various factions (in the opposition today) have had to cobble together coalitions because no one party really had a "victory." [Despite all the whining over War Criminal Bully Boy Bush from Canada, they've repeatedly failed to 'take back' their own government from the Conservative Party which has ruled for the decade since Paul Martin killed Labour's hold on the Prime Ministry in February 2006. Though the same coalitions still cobble together, they lack the numbers they one had and cannot unseat the Conservative Party at present.]

"Coalitions" -- uh, yeah, the other thing the really lousy reporters so frequently forget. Just like they refer to Nouri's election whenever Iraq holds elections next (supposedly January 2010). The prime minister is not elected by the people. It's dubious to claim that the prime minister is elected by the Iraqi MPs since their first choice was rejected by the US and Nouri was the compromise choice. Oh, yeah, ugly reality that intrudes in real life if never in the damn pages of the New York Times.

I have no idea why Rod Nordland has his tongue up Nouri's ass. In part, it's most likely because the paper works overtime to cozy up to Nouri and play footsie with him. They are a craven and increasingly disgusting outlet. They refused to defend the Guardian in print. Yes, Bill Keller gave a statement . . . to another paper. The so called 'mighty' New York Times cowered like the biggest chicken s**t of the decade. It was disgusting and the idea that they now have even a modicum of respect from news consumers is almost as big a joke as the paper has turned itself into.

It's a real shame the paper has no guts and no sense of purpose when it comes to journalism but that just makes its potential death all the easier to stomach.

While the Times fawns over Nouri, the Kurdish Globe runs AP's article about Nouri's non-stop attacks on former Ba'athists. While the Times gets in bed with a despot, AP observes, "Al-Maliki's intensified rhetoric worsens one of Iraq's most dangerous sectarian fault lines one which the United States has long struggle to calm."

So crazy the book review could be published in the Times, Rayyan al-Shawaf (Christian Science Monitor) reviews the latest droppings from George's Impacted Colon. Packer George has been published in the Times many times but he mainly stinks up The New Yorker and, of course, American foreign policy. From the review:

Packer can be rather shrill when chastising conservatives for their myriad political failures, but he is no narrow-minded partisan. One of this book's most trenchant criticisms is leveled at liberals whose opposition to the Iraq war resulted in a smug and self-satisfied cynicism. "The administration's deceptions, exaggerations, and always-evolving rationales provoked a counternarrative," Packer points out, "that mirrored the White House version of the war in its simplemindedness: the war was about nothing (except greed, empire, and blind folly.)"

Packer's always shrill and he's a War Hawk. If you miss that point, if you miss what is, in fact, his religion, you can never hope to understand what he's raving on about. George Packer belongs to the Church Of Destruction -- and from the pulpit he'll mislead and molest all in his congregation.

Packer's 'taste' is so low that he actually fond Monty McFate attractive. Truly, no one else in the world ever has. The counter-insurgency princess has kept a lower profile since it turned out that her sister (also trashy) was a snitch for the government who went around spying on peace groups. That whole family's trash (and we warned you of that long, long ago when Packer met Monty). Jeff Huber (Antiwar) observes:

War has become America's top export. Military recruiting is through the roof because of the poor economy. How pathetic it is that the most powerful nation on earth has nothing to offer its youth but war. Even more pathetic is the kind of war the nation has to offer them.
COIN, the acronym for counterinsurgency, has replaced air power and nuclear weapons as the latest "truth" in American warfare. COIN's basic premise calls for "effective governance by a legitimate government." We don't have effective or legitimate governance in Iraq or Afghanistan, and we're not going to have it. Nouri al-Maliki's Shi'ite government will never "unify" with the Sunni and Kurd factions in Iraq, and Hamid Karzai’s Afghan government is a mob of drug dealers and warlords. We're fighting wars that by our own definition are doomed to fail.
We're fighting junk wars to prop up junk governments with junk strategies and we're giving our kids junk body armor to fight them with.
And we're recruiting children to keep these wars alive for as long as we can.

Waleed Ibrahim, Michael Christie and Jon Hemming (Reuters) are reporting that the Parliament has finally passed an election law but that it doesn't appear to address the issues that led to the presidency council's veto and may (yet again) be vetoed. Meanwhile Xinhua reports eleven people injured in five Baghdad roadside bombings today.

While George Impacted Colon pretends war is not about money or resources or greed -- ignoring the entirety of world history -- Nouri continues his spending spree on weaponry. Thursday the Defense Security Cooperation Agency [PDF format warning] announced:

WASHINGTON, November 19, 2009 – The Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress Nov. 18 of a possible Foreign Military Sale to Iraq of 15 helicopters with associated parts, equipment, training and logistical support for a complete package worth approximately $1.2 billion.
The Government of Iraq has requested a possible sale of up to 15 AgustaWestland AW109 Light Utility Observation helicopters, or alternatively, 15 Bell Model 429 Medical Evacuation and Aerial Observation helicopters, or 15 EADS North America UH-72A Lakota Light Utility helicopters; and, up to 12 AgustaWestland AW139 Medium Utility helicopters, or alternatively, 12 Bell Model 412 Medium Utility helicopters, or 12 Sikorsky UH-60M BLACK HAWK helicopters equipped with 24 T700-GE-701D engines. Also included: spare and repair parts, publications and technical data, support equipment, personnel training and training equipment, ground support, communications equipment, U.S. Government and contractor provided technical and logistics support services, tools and test equipment, and other related elements of logistics support. The estimated cost is $1.2 billion.
This proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of a friendly country. This proposed sale directly supports the Iraq government and serves the interests of the Iraqi people and the U.S.
This proposed sale will advance Iraqi efforts to develop a strong national military and police authority. A well-equipped and trained military and police/border force patrol authority and counter-terrorism force will help ensure that Iraq can continue to sustain its democratically-elected government, assist in stabilizing the various provinces, and prevent an overflow of unrest into the provinces, cities, and towns within Iraq.
The proposed sale of this equipment and support will not alter the basic military balance in the region.
The principal contractors will be:
AgustaWestland Helicopter Company Philadelphia, PA
Bell Helicopter Textron, Inc. Ft Worth, TX
EADS North America Arlington, VA
Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation Stratford, CT
General Electric Lynn, MA
Implementation of this proposed sale will require the assignment of U.S. Government and contractor representatives to Iraq for an extended period to assist in the delivery and deployment of the helicopters.
There will be no adverse impact on U.S. defense readiness as a result of this proposed sale.
This notice of a potential sale is required by law and does not mean the sale has been concluded.

At Under The Name of Reason, David Bacon's "St. Francis Hotel Workers Strike,"

About 650 workers at the St. Francis Hotel, one of the city's oldest and most luxurious, walked out on strike on November 18. This was the third of what may be many strikes hit San Francisco's Class A hotels. The contract with the workers' union, UNITE HERE Local 2, expired on August 14. Since then, Local 2 has been trying to bargain a new agreement in the middle of an economic depression.
San Francisco's largest hotels are demanding cuts in health and retirement benefits, and increased workloads, saying that the economic crisis has reduced tourism in the city. The luxury hotel chains want workers begin paying for their healthcare premiums -- $35/month this year, $115/month next year, and $200/month the year after. A typical San Francisco hotel worker earns $30,000 per year, and many can't work a full 40-hour week.
Over the first nine months of 2009, Starwood Hotels and Resorts, which manages the Westin St. Francis, earned $180 million in profits. Starwood also manages three other San Francisco Class A hotels. The owner of the St. Francis, Strategic Hotels and Resorts, saw $11 million in earnings during the same period. The company bought the hotel for $439 million in 2006.

David Bacon's latest book is Illegal People -- How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants (Beacon Press) which just won the CLR James Award. Bacon can be heard on KPFA's The Morning Show (over the airwaves in the Bay Area, streaming online) each Wednesday morning (begins airing at 7:00 am PST).

Bonnie reminds that Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Barack 'Listens'" went up last night.
We'll close with this from Sherwood Ross' "U.S. NEEDS TO STRENGTHEN ANIMAL PROTECTION LAWS" (Veterans Today):

American law "does nothing to genuinely protect animals, nor does it recognize their true value and special place in our homes and within our families," two animal rights authorities say.
"Our legal system just does not recognize the bond between people and their companion animals, and when that bond is severed, it completely fails to compensate for that loss," write law professors Diane Sullivan and Holly Vietzke of the Massachusetts School of Law at Andover.
Furthermore, they write, torture of laboratory animals is as widespread as it is unnecessary, and they question "the propriety of treating millions of animals like property for research at the hand and whim of the researcher." Proponents of testing argue that animal research is "necessary" and/or "justified." "To advance this position requires a rationale that a dog, cat, or chimp is the equivalent of an innate piece of property."
With the advancement of science and technology, Sullivan and Vietzke continue, "it is now possible to conduct testing without having to use live animals. Human tissue, donated from human cells, can be grown in test tubes."
Moreover, they assert, computers can use simulation software to virtually conduct tests, even incorporating "hundreds of variables" to simulate various human conditions and the effects the drug or product would have on them.
In an article in the "Journal of Animal Law," published by Michigan State University College of Law, Sullivan and Vietzke write: "As wrong as it is, animals are considered property in the eyes of the law despite the fact we all know animals feel pain, display emotion, exhibit loyalty and sadness, and (in some cases) share most of our genetic make-up."

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