Friday, March 26, 2010

Election results due by 10:00 a.m.?

Andrew North: The gun or the ballot box, which matters more in Iraq? This election will show. Organizers have been criticized for taking so long to finish the count but the election commission has won praise to for its independence. Resisting pressure for recounts from both the prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, and his main rival Ayad Allawi. But the last elections helped tear Iraq apart.

That's the opening to North's video report (BBC News). March 7th was the official day of voting in Iraq (early voting began days before with security forces voting on Thursday) and 95% of the results of an unofficial (not yet certified) count has been released. Today, a 100% count is supposed to be released. Muhanad Mohammed, Khalid al-Ansary, Jim Loney and Janet Lawrence (Reuters) report Nouri's 'supporters' are still insisting upon a recount today "hours before officials were due to release the final vote tallies." Katarina Kratovac (AP) reports a laughable move by Interior Minister Jawad al-Bolani -- he's insisting that the count not be released, he's insisting it will cause violence. I'm sorry, Jawad, weren't you just insisting Wednesday that "the elections proved the terrorists' days are numbered"? (Yes, he was.)

Noting the tight race (based on preliminary returns), the Salt Lake Tribune editorial board observes, "That foretells a protracted negotiation before any government can be seated. It took five months for politicians to cut a deal after the 2005 election." And what of the results? When will they be released? If things go as scheduled and the results are released today, it will be in a little less than four hours. The results are supposed to be released 7:00 pm Baghdad time. As I type this right now, it's three p.m. in Baghdad. That means that 10:00 am EST, the 100% results might be released; however, it might be a bit after that before outlets begin reporting on that if the electoral commission again refuses to display the results in a brief presentation and instead hands out computer discs with the information (as they've done before throughout this count).

Noting this Press TV article, an angry visitor states yesterday's snapshot should have included the news that Iraq's Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari walked out. Yesterday's snapshot should have included many things. Among them a report of some form on John Hall's subcommittee hearing and I've been trying for days to drop back to the State Dept on Iraqi women from last week. It's the "Iraq snapshot," not the "Iraq encylcopedia." It will never include every thing and it will always exclude some things intentionally like the story the reader provided the link to. Press TV had the strongest article yesterday on the 'walk out.' Other outlets were reporting it as well. In more muted tones and a friend at AFP said there was a strong chance that Zebari wasn't leaving the conference and that details were confusing. It's really not surprising that Iran's Press TV would hit the hardest on a story about an Arab League meeting being in supposed disarray. (Not anymore surprising during the Cold War that the USSR and US outlets would trumpet the other country's misfortune.) So the story wasn't clear -- despite Press TV's article -- yesterday and we excluded it intentionally. Today Alsumaria TV reports, "Iraq Foreign Minister Hoshiar Zebari carries on his participation in the meetings of the Arab Summit convening in Libya. Zebari had received a call from Baghdad to come back to Iraq on Thursday evening after the end of the preliminary meetings. However, Zebari stayed in the summit stressing that withdrawing from the same is not an option anymore and Iraq will participate in the important Summit and hopes that it would be successful. Iraq Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki had asked Zebari to leave Libya after the end of the meetings on Thursday and to lower the level of Iraqi participation as a protest against the fact that the Libyan President Muammar Al Gaddafi received a delegation of the Iraqi opposition."

If you're in Delaware, note this: "Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts, 200 S Madison, Wilmington. To May 30. Tue, Thu, Fri, Sat 10-5, Wed & Sun noon-5. Free. 302-656-6466. Bulisova will attend April 9 public reception 5-9." Victoria Donohoe (Philadelphia Inquirer) reports on Gabriela Bulisova's photography exhibit entitled "The Option of Last Resort: Iraqi Refugees in the United States" at the Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts which notes of Bulisova's exhibit:

The body of work for her DCCA exhibition concentrates on the effects of the Iraqi war, especially on those who have helped the United States and who have been granted asylum in this country. She documents those who acted as interpreters for the U.S. Armed Forces, the U.S. government, and U.S. companies and who now live in fear for themselves and their families. As Bulisova's powerful images demonstrate, asylum in the U.S. has not provided a tidy ending to their life stories. As is the tradition with much documentary photography, she attaches detailed captions to her images that tell the story in words (recorded words in this case) that we see in pictures. From each -- words and image --we learn of the despair, hope, and difficulty of the lives of these individuals.

I'm rushing this morning but that's a powerful exhibit. I had to rush through it recently -- all my life is these days is rush through, not even time for a dress rehearsal -- but even with limited time, the images were haunting. So if you're in Delaware or going to be in Delaware, make a point to check out the exhibit. And Deborah Amos (NPR) has a new book on Iraq that addresses the refugee crisis. Joe Kimball (Minnesota Post) has a report on Amos here. Amos new book is entitled Eclipse of the Sunnis: Power, Exile, and Upheaval in the Middle East. And among the things that should have been noted more in the snapshots, it's Amos' book.

TV notes. NOW on PBS begins airing Friday on most PBS stations (check local listings):

In the debate over energy resources, natural gas is often considered a
"lesser-of-evils". While it does release some greenhouse gases,
gas burns
cleaner than coal and oil, and is in plentiful supply -- parts
of the U.S. sit above some of the largest natural gas reserves on Earth.
But a new boom in natural gas drilling, a process called "fracking",
raises concerns about health and environmental risks.

On March 26 at 8:30 pm (check local listings), NOW talks with filmmaker
Josh Fox about "Gasland", his Sundance award-winning documentary on the
surprising consequences of natural gas drilling. Fox's film -- inspired
when the gas company came to his hometown -- alleges chronic illness,
animal-killing toxic waste, disastrous explosions, and regulatory

Drilling down to the truth about natural gas. Next on NOW.

Staying with TV notes, Washington Week begins airing on many PBS stations tonight (and throughout the weekend, check local listings) and joining Gwen around the table this week are Ceci Connolly (Washington Post), Helene Cooper (New York Times), Paul Richter (Los Angeles Times) and Alexis Simendinger (National Journal). Remember that the show podcasts in video and audio format -- and a number of people sign up for each (audio is thought to be so popular due to the fact that it downloads so much quicker). If you podcast the show, remember there is the Web Extra where Gwen and the guests weigh in on topics viewers e-mail about. And also remember that usually by Monday afternoon you can go to the show's website and stream it there (including Web Extra) as well as read the transcripts and more. They're beefing up their online presence and that includes highlighting archived shows (this week it's a 15th anniversary broadcast from February 26, 1992) and Gwen's weekly column which, this week, is entitled "Translating History." Meanwhile Bonnie Erbe will sit down with Linda Chavez, Bernadine Healy, Melinda Henneberger and Eleanor Holmes Norton on the latest broadcast of PBS' To The Contrary to discuss the week's events. And at the website each week, there's an extra just for the web from the previous week's show and this week's it's a discussion on immigration. For the broadcast program, check local listings, on many stations, it begins airing tonight. And turning to broadcast TV, Sunday CBS' 60 Minutes:

The Case Against Nada Prouty
Former FBI and CIA terrorism fighter Nada Prouty was herself accused of aiding terrorism, but in her first interview, she denies she was anything other than a patriot. Scott Pelley investigates her case. | Watch Video

The Russian Is Coming
Mikhail Prokhorov, perhaps Russia's richest man, discusses his planned purchase of the N.J. Nets basketball team, his vast wealth and the surprisingly unusual way he made most of his money in his first American television interview. Steve Kroft reports. | Watch Video

The Sharkman
Anderson Cooper dives unprotected with great white sharks and the South African who's spent more time up close with the ocean's most feared predator than anyone else. | Watch Video

60 Minutes, Sunday, March 28, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

Radio. Today on The Diane Rehm Show (airs on most NPR stations and streams live online beginning at 10:00 am EST), Diane is joined the first hour (domestic news roundup) byNaftali Bendavid (Wall St. Journal), Susan Page (USA Today) and Christopher Rowland (Boston Globe). For the second hour (international news roundup), Diane is joined by Daniel Dombey (Financial Times of London), Paul Richter (Los Angeles Times) and Nancy A. Youssef (McClatchy Newspapers).

Francis Boyle is a professor of law and an expert on human rights and international law. We'll close with this from his "The Middle East Agenda: Oil, Dollar Hegemony & Islam" (Information Clearing House):

Little has changed in the imperialist tendencies of American foreign policy since the founding of the United States of America in seventeen eighty-nine. The fledgling United States opened the nineteenth century by stealing the continent of North America from the Indians, while in the process ethnically cleansing them and then finally deporting the pitiful few survivors by means of death marches (a la Bataan) to Bantustans, which in America we call reservations, as in instance of America's manifest destiny to rule the world.
Then, the imperial government of the United States opened the twentieth century by stealing a colonial empire from Spain - in Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam and the Philippines, then inflicting a near-genocidal war against the Filipino people. While at the same time, purporting to annex, the kingdom of Hawaii and subjecting the native Hawaiian people to near-genocidal conditions from which they still suffer today- all in the name of securing America's so-called place in the sun.
And today at the dawn of the twenty first century, the world witnesses the effort by the imperial government of the United States of America to steal a hydrocarbon empire from the Moslem states and peoples, surrounding central Asia and the Persian Gulf under the pretext of fighting a war against international terrorism or eliminating weapons of mass destruction or promoting democracy which is total nonsense.

One more thing, we have to include this. Marc Hall is the service member 'guilty' of 'rapping.' Courage to Resist has sent out the following on the latest development in the military persecution of Hall:

Donate to help defend Marc - 146 people have given $5,408. Because the Army kidnapped Marc to Kuwait for trial, we will need to raise at least $10,000 to provide a civilian defense lawyer. Critical expert witnesses to could be another $5,000, in addition to the $4,600 already spent.

Courage to Resist. March 25, 2010

US Army Specialist Marc A. Hall sits in a military brig at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, facing an imminent court martial for challenging the US military’s Stop-Loss policy in a song — his pre-trial hearing was held last week on March 17. Yet it was not the hip-hop song he wrote criticizing the Stop-Loss policy that landed him in trouble. What put the 34-year-old New York City native in the brig were his persistent assertions of inadequate mental health care that culminated in a Dec. 7 complaint to the Army Investigator General. Just five days later Hall was charged with violating “good order and discipline” at Fort Stewart, Georgia, and was shipped out of the country.

Hall’s court martial is likely to occur late April or early May.

The jailing occurred a full five months after Hall wrote a rap song protesting the Stop-Loss order that halted his discharge after he served his country for 14 months of combat in Iraq. Hall was charged with 11 counts of “communicating threats” related to the song and has since been charged with violating Article 134 of the Uniform Code of Military Conduct. All the alleged violations occurred between last July and December, yet not one warranted warning, counseling, or non-judicial punishment at the time.

On Feb. 20 Hall wrote, "A charge that was not a threat before, but all of a sudden became a threat now. I communicated a need for mental evaluation -- not a threat."

As if that were not enough the military took the nearly unprecedented step of moving Hall overseas for court martial, instead of putting him on trial in Georgia where the alleged threats occurred. On Feb. 26 Hall was put on plane to Iraq and transferred to Kuwait for pre-trial confinement. This put him out of reach of his civilian legal defense team, friends, and family. It will also make it extremely hard for defense witnesses to appear at trial on his behalf.

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