Thursday, April 01, 2010

The food rations program gets slashed again

IRIN reports that the already slashed Iraqi food aid program is facing even more cuts. The rations program began in 1995 and has been repeatedly slashed since the start of the Iraq War at the repeated request of the US government which frowns upon aid to the poor and struggling. Attempts to outright kill the program have been repeatedly met with a strong pushback from Iraqis so the US has pushed for incremental cuts until there is little left. IRIN notes that the packages will now only offer "flour, rice, sugar, cooking oil and milk." Milk for some, of course. Milk for all was cut sometime ago. Gone are the days of tomato paste, tea, chicken, soap, beans, detergent, cheese, etc. In a population of less than 30 million (US government estimates vary between 26 million and 28 million -- of course, Nouri 'forgot' to conduct the census he was supposed to do in 2007), over eight million Iraqis are dependent upon the program to meet basic dietary needs as a result of the extreme poverty in Iraq.

Yesterday, the United Nations Security Council offered this press release:

The following Security Council press statement on the Iraq elections was read out today by Council President Emmanuel Issoze-Ngondet (Gabon):
The members of the Security Council welcome the Independent High Electoral Commission of Iraq's (IHEC) 26 March announcement of the provisional results of the Iraqi parliamentary election and look forward to the certification by the Supreme Court.
The members of the Security Council congratulate the Iraqi people and Government, including the Iraqi security forces, and IHEC for holding this successful election. The members of the Security Council express their support for IHEC's work, particularly its established mechanisms to ensure all political entities can register complaints and appeals in accordance with IHEC procedures and Iraqi law. They also commend the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) and the role played by the Secretary-General's Special Representative for Iraq, Ad Melkert, in providing technical assistance and support throughout the electoral process.
The members of the Security Council recognize the assistance provided by Iraqi domestic observers and civil society organizations and by the international community, including the European Union, Arab League, Organization of the Islamic Conference, as well as the support of United Nations Member States in providing electoral assistance and observation missions. The members of the Security Council take note of the findings of these international and independent Iraqi observers, who affirmed their confidence in the overall integrity of the election.
The members of the Security Council call for the political entities to respect the certified election results and the choices of the Iraqi people. The members of the Security Council also urge Iraq's political leaders to avoid inflammatory rhetoric and actions. The members of the Security Council look forward to the formation of the new Government in a spirit of cooperation and respect for national unity.

Having attempted to hijack the process, Nouri al-Maliki is now presenting a new face. Alsumaria TV reports he's calling for people to respect the process -- even as he continues attacking the process and the results. NPR's Deborah Amos reports (at Pakistan Observer), "The prime minister has shown he will use the tools of incumbent power. He has reportedly released long-held prisoners loyal to the Sadrist political movement. The Sadrists ran for office in a rival Shia bloc and Maliki will need their support to challenge Allawi’s victory. In addition, the McClatchy newspapers report that at least four Sunni Muslim candidates on Allawi’s ticket are under investigation by the prime minister’s security forces. This is hardball politics, Iraqi style." Deborah Amos is the author of the just released Eclipse of the Sunnis: Power, Exile, and Upheaval in the Middle East.

At OpEd News, Hamma Mirwaisi examines some of the Iraqi players rushing to and from Iran for various reasons:

Iraqi President Jalal Talabani is in Iran for Nowruz celebrations. He wants very badly to be President of Iraq for another term. He runs to his master the Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for help. He is helping PM al-Maliki indirectly. He is very close friend of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad they do share a secret. The Kurds are speculating that President Talabani helped President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad with the plan to kill Dr. Abdul-Rahman Ghassemlou the leader of the Iranian Kurd in 1989 in Vienna.
What other secrets are there between both Presidents? What kind of secrets are they sharing to be so close to one another? May be the CIA knows the answer better. The US forces arrested one of the killers of Dr. Abdul-Rahman Ghassemlou in Arbil-Iraq and then they released him after integrations for long time without extraditing him to Austria to face justice.
President Jalal Talabani for sure is sharing many secret with Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad they are old friends from during the Iran-Iraq war. Just likewise he was sharing many secrets with Iraqi President Saddam Hussein for many years before the war. President Jalal Talabani is the survivor. He is kind of master spy, one can make many movies about his work; he is dealing with so many intelligent services around the world in the same time without getting implicated.

Tom Over (OpEd News) reports on the activities of World Can't Wait and speaks with Debra Sweet, national director of World Can't Wait:

Sweet said that during the Bush presidency, protests against the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq had a lot more people participating.
"A Presidential candidate and then a president was brought forward who represented on the surface something very different. This was change we were supposed to believe in and huge numbers of people, including anti-war leaders, put all their energy into electing Obama, regardless of the fact that he was promising to expand the war in Afghanistan," Sweet said.
Perhaps interestingly, as Sweet and I spoke, Public Enemy's "Don't Believe The Hype" played on the PA system.
Also interesting was that Sweet uttered a combination of words-- 'hoodwinked and bamboozled ' -- Malcolm X used to famous effect, which was made more famous by way of Spike Lee's film about the civil rights leader.
"A lot of people have been hoodwinked and bamboozled. Many of us weren't, but we need to be all that much more visible and protesting now, because even more than ever, we need a movement that says 'no' to this whole package of continuing the Bush direction," Sweet said.

At Peace of the Action, a woman describes her part in the DC protest:

Notwithstanding that the majority of the march’s “audience” would be the like-minded, gathering in number and solidarity can often constitute the surge (the White House does not own the word) which many need and often seek in order to re-group, re-energize and re-define. Hence, I flew to Washington from Sarasota, Florida, on March 18th to hook up with Cindy Sheehan's newly founded Peace of the Action group. I was drawn to meet Cindy as we both seemed to share the philosophies that Obama’s election artificially trumped America’s continued criminal foreign policy, and that a large number of the proverbial anti-Bush, anti-war voices had exponentially silenced themselves as a result. I adamantly contend that passive, cerebral and armchair activism, however passionate, needs to be replaced by something far more aggressive and far more courageous. Even a cursory review of the US militaristic blitzkriegs of the last decade proves that nothing short of absolute radicalism can rein in this country’s megalomaniacal and homicidal madness. I arduously labor to remove the pejorative connotation associated with the word “radical” and rather try to install it as a critical and prerequisite norm to effectively remove what is the tyrannical government of our time. [See, Thomas Jefferson: “I have sworn Hostility against every form of TYRANNY over the mind of man.”] In short, I went to Washington to otherwise vent my mind-blowing frustration at the passivity of those who claim to be radical and those who make no such claim at all.
At noon time on Saturday, I joined the ANSWER rally at Lafayette Park, after which the march began. I spent the majority of the march walking near its end and often times on the sidewalk. As I walked, I quietly kept my eye on the marchers and the multitudes of police. At some of the cross streets, I just stood in the middle of them for a while in front of the cops who were in front of a line of civilian cars waiting to cross the march route. Not surprisingly, the civilians were “civil.” Equally as unsurprisingly, the DC Police committed multiple acts of reckless endangerment as a squadron of approximately 30 cops on bikes purposefully and contemptuously rode through the marchers at high rates of speed. It was obvious they did so with complete impunity and they knew it. My shouts and the shouts of others that they “slow down” only served to spur them on.
Within minutes of these “peace officers” committing acts which would have gotten anyone in the march arrested for any number of offenses, I came upon a Metropolitan police lieutenant who was making up the protest march rules as he and it went along. As I approached the sidewalk on the opposite side of the next cross street, an officer who was walking by me told me that I had to stay OFF the upcoming sidewalk. He kept walking and I kept walking. He may or may not have uttered something not particularly kind as he passed me. I know I did. As I took my first step onto the then allegedly privatized sidewalk, Officer Number Two came out of nowhere and grabbed me by the front of my shirt, with both hands, and started to physically force me off the sidewalk telling me that I could not “cross the police line”, which was ostensibly on the sidewalk I had just stepped on to. In no uncertain terms and tone, I told him to take his hands off of me, at which time Officer Number Three intervened. Clearly, but for Officer Three’s intervention, the melee between Officer Two and I would have been in full swing.

Officer two wasn't yet done and she goes on to describe his next 'peace keeping' actions.
From, we'll note the opening of international law expert Francis Boyle's "Harvard's Gitmo Kangaroo Law School: The School for Torturers:"

Not surprisingly, the January 2007 issue of the American Journal of Imperial Law--otherwise known as the self-styled American Journal of International Law but originally founded a century ago and still operated by U. S. War and State Department legal apparatchiks and their law professorial fellow-travelers-- published an article by Harvard Law School's recently retired Bemis Professor of International Law Detlev Vagts (who only taught me the required course on Legal Accounting) arguing in favor of the Pentagon's Kangaroo Courts System on Guantanamo despite the fact that they have been soundly condemned by every human rights organization and every human rights official and leader in the entire world as well as by the United States Supreme Court itself in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld (2006). I am not going to bother to recite here all the grievous deficiencies of the Gitmo Kangaroo Courts under International Law and U.S. Constitutional Law. But suffice it to say that the Gitmo Kangaroo Courts constitute war crimes under the Laws of War, the Four Geneva Conventions of 1949, and even the U. S. Army's own Field Manual 27-10, The Law of Land Warfare (1956). Field Manual 27-10 was drafted for the Pentagon by my Laws of War teacher Richard R. Baxter, who was generally recognized as the world's leading expert on that subject. That is precisely why I voluntarily chose to study International Law with him and his long-time collaborator Louis B. Sohn, and not with the bean-counter Vagts. For the entire post-World War II generation of international law students at Harvard Law School, Louis Sohn shall always be our real Bemis Professor of International Law and never the False Pretender to that Throne known as Detlev Vagts.
Since those student days I have personally appeared pro bono publico in five U.S. military courts-martial proceedings involving warfare that were organized in accordance with the Congress's Uniform Code of Military Justice (U.C.M.J.)--which still does not apply to the Gitmo Kangaroo Courts despite the ruling by the U. S. Supreme Court in Hamdan that the U.C.M.J.
should be applied in Guantanamo--on behalf of five U. S. military personnel who each acted as matters of courage, integrity, principle, conscience and at great risk to their own freedom:

1. U. S. Marine Corporal Jeff Paterson, the first U.S. military resister to President Bush Sr.'s genocidal war against Iraq;

2. Army Captain Doctor Yolanda Huet-Vaughn, the highest ranking U. S.

commissioned officer to be court-martialed for refusing to participate in President Bush Sr.'s genocidal war against Iraq;

3. Captain Lawrence Rockwood, who was court-martialed by the U. S. Army for trying to stop torture in Haiti after the Clinton administration had illegally invaded that country in 1994;

4. Army Staff Sergeant Camilo Mejia, the first U. S. military resister to be court-martialed for refusing to participate in President Bush Jr.'s war of aggression against Iraq; and

5. Army First Lieutenant Ehren Watada, the first U. S. commissioned officer to be court-martialed for his refusal to participate in President Bush Jr.'s war of aggression against Iraq.

As I can attest from my direct personal involvement, each and every one of these five courts-martial under the U.C.M.J. were Stalinist show-trials produced and directed by the Pentagon that predictably and readily degenerated into travesties of justice. These five U.C.M.J. courts-martial involving U.S. warfare each proved correct the old adage attributed to Groucho Marx that military justice is to justice as military music is to music. By comparison, the Gitmo Kangaroo Courts will not even be run in accordance with the U.C.M.J. despite the fact that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Hamdan that they should be. The Marx Brothers are running the Gitmo Kangaroo Courts.

NOW on PBS begins airing on most PBS stations Friday night (check local listings) and this week's program:

The number of inmates in American prisons is outpacing the system's ability to hold them all. In one startling example, California prisons hold well over 50,000 more inmates than they're designed for, even though the state has built a dozen new prisons in the last 15 years. One
of the biggest reasons is rampant recidivism.
On Friday, April 2 at 8:30 pm (check local listings), NOW goes inside an Illinois prison that may have the answer to California's problems. With its innovative plan to keep released inmates from coming back, the Sheridan Correctional Center is trying to redefine "tough on crime" by being the largest fully dedicated drug prison in the country. The approach involves aggressive counseling, job training, and following the convicts after they get out. Can their novel approach keep convicts out of jail for good?

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