Monday, May 03, 2010

Iraq snapshot

Monday, May 3, 2010.  Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces another death, recounts begin in Baghdad (already Nouri's whining), Iraqi Christians continue to be persecuted, students actions take place across America on Tuesday, and more.
Spontaneous anti-war resistance on campuses nationwide. Spread. Word.               

In remembrance of the students who came before us

May 4, 2010 is the 40th anniversary of the Kent State massacre.            

This effort is being supported by:            
Alan Canfora, Alliance of the Libertarian Left, Angela Keaton,, Campus Antiwar Network, Cindy Sheehan,, Cop Watch Los Angeles, Diversity of Thought UCSB, James Cox, Mariana Evica,, SB Anti-War, Students for Justice in Palestine, Students for Liberty, Students for a Voluntary Society, The Love Police, The Peace, Freedom, and Prosperity Movement, Tom Ⓐ Ender, UC Strike, We Are Change, World Can't Wait               

Please send a note if your organization is helping to get the word out and we'll add you to the list.                         

1. Where is the student resistance happening?                 

2. Who is organizing it?                  
Each of us.             
3. Who is the leader?                
See answer to 2.              
This Tuesday, May 4, 2010 students on high school and college campuses nationwide will take a decisive stand against the war machine.             
Estimates are that over 100 campuses will be participating. Autonomous campus clubs and individual activists have been mobilizing with no central organizing committee, in what has been described as a leaderless and spontaneous anti-war resistance.                     
With so many older anti-war liberals still hypnotized by Obama, students feel it is up to them push the movement full speed ahead.                  
"Things are really starting to spike," says Nicholas Di Masi, a third year World History major, who earlier this year was struck by Karl Rove's get-away car as students chased the former Bush advisor from UC Santa Barbara's campus. "Today I went to a rally about SB 1070, and for the first time in a while I found myself amongst students who were also passionate about resisting Obama's wars and fighting the police state."

When asked what she thought about students' May 4th resistance, Emma Kaplan of
World Can't Wait
remarked, "I think the May 4th resistance should be the beginning of putting the government on notice, to send it the message that With or Without You, We Will Stop These Wars.  Students need to be part of a sustained movement of protest that doesn't back down, give up, or go away until the powers that be are forced to respond." As a national student coordinator Kaplan observes that "there are some students who are unsatisfied with the world as it is, recognizing that the things they would like to change could never be changed with Obama as president. At the same time, many students have also started to accept crimes under Obama that they would have opposed under Bush."

Some students are beginning to take action into their own hands rather than depending on presidents and politicians.
We Are Change
, a decentralized peace movement with many student members, has recently come to something of a forefront in this new breed of student activism. "It's up to this generation to carry the anti-establishment spirit of the 60's and 70's to new heights," said one member. "This is the same establishment that dropped atomic bombs and agent orange on unsuspecting women and children, it is the same establishment that now murders innocents in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. Voting in a new front man for the establishment is clearly not going to change anything."  Another member added, "I've found that many students are on the lookout for fearmongering or manufactured crises that could be used by the state to lure us into a war with Iran. Today's students also have the advantage of open communication online, where one person's activism could reach thousands without being spun by mainstream media outlets."

Noor Aljawad, a first year Sociology and Middle East Studies major who plans to join students on the 4th, believes that one of the changes Obama made was to expand Bush's wars. "There is little difference in the foreign policy of democrats and republicans. Like Bush, Obama is a corporatist acting in the interests of oligarchical financiers. May 4th should be a message to Obama that our dissent is going to continue until these imperialistic wars are ended."

Whether it's escalating the wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan, continuing the criminal occupation of Iraq, or working toward an attack on Iran -- many students have had enough with George W. Obama's warmongering. May 4th, 2010 marks the 40th anniversary of the
Kent State massacre
, when 13 unarmed students were gunned down by the national guard for protesting the Vietnam war. In remembrance of them, we fight on.               

This effort is being supported by:             

Alan Canfora, Alliance of the Libertarian Left, Angela Keaton,, Campus Antiwar Network, Cindy Sheehan,, Cop Watch Los Angeles, Diversity of Thought UCSB, James Cox, Mariana Evica,, SB Anti-War, Students for Justice in Palestine, Students for Liberty, Students for a Voluntary Society, The Love Police, The Peace, Freedom, and Prosperity Movement, Tom Ender, UC Strike, We Are Change, World Can't Wait.
On the most recent Inside Iraq (Al Jazeera, began airing Friday), Jasim al-Azawi explored the increase in violence with his guests State of Law MP Abdul-Hadi al-Hassani and Professor Sami Ramadani.
Jasim al-Azawi: Abdul-Hadi al-Hassani, for a long time, almost two years, the prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki kept saying, "I am the man of security, I was able to achieve security for Iraq." And yet, over the past few months, and as recent as the last two months, we have seen spectacular operations, bombings, explosions, people in the hundreds are dying.  How do you explain the failure of the Iraqi government despite the huge army and the police to stem the tide of violence?
Abdul-Hadi al-Hassani: Thank you. Actually, I believe that Iraq had passed through more difficult time of terrorism and atrocity and it would be easier even to now to overcome this hurdle simply because the security now more equipped, better trained and more ready to deal with the more violence of the terrorists and the al Qaeda and the al Qaeda from the Sunni gangs -- they have all gathered their own power and they are trying their own best to destroy the political process by own means and methods; however, they failed badly though they have succeeded here and there. But the exagerration of some media about the violence --
Jasim al-Azawi:  Abdul-Hadi al-Hassani, we saw horrific images, people in the hundreds, buildings are destroyed and operations left and right all over Baghdad and other provinces in Iraq so how can you just diminish, how can you just dismiss this as these are just operations here and there?  People in the hundreds, I am telling you, they are dead.
Abdul-Hadi al-Hassani:  Well we know I am in Iraq, yesterday I was in Baghdad.  There was [. . .] only one person unfortunately murdered and ten injured and the media had -- had really exaggerated badly about the number of people dead.  Only in Baghdad now.  Maybe some small and terrorist attack in Ramadi or Mosul.  The rest of Iraq? The south is very peaceful. We know very clear that it is the media and the politicians and agenda -- hidden agenda behind bigger propaganda to really topple the political process --
Jasim al-Azaqi: So you keep saying.  You are repeating yourself again.  Let me go to Sami Ramadani
Abdul-Hadi al-Hassani:  -- I am there and anyone --
Jasim al-Azaqi: Fine, I see you are in Basra
Abdul-Hadi al-Hassani:  -- exactly in Iraq.
Jasim al-Azaqi: Sami Ramadani, listening --
Abdul-Hadi al-Hassani:  I --
Jasim al-Azaqi: Hold on just a second please. Listening to Abdul-Hadi al-Hassani, there is nothing go on in Iraq. No deaths.  No destruction. No spectacular operations.  This is just a propaganda by the media. Every thing is calm and cool and collected in Iraq.
Sami Ramadani: Well the answer to that is simple.  Ask ordinary Iraqis in the streets -- whether in Baghdad or whever -- and one of the first things they mention apart from the collapse of the services to their homes and to their streets, they mention the question of security. So it's really the Iraqi people who are raising that to the top of their agenda as one of the things they have been lacking, lack of security for their families, for their children. And I think one has to also realize that these problems are probably even bigger than Maliki and the government. And I can cite three very important reasons as to why the question of violence is not going away from Iraq. One is the squabbles within the political groupings of the so-called political process. Second is the fragmentation of the Iraqi state since the occupation of Iraq.  And third, and the most important reason perhaps, is the occupation itself which is rather absent now in the dialogue and squabbles and quarrels between the various political forces within the -- within the political process or the official process. And I think these underlying reasons are the ones that the Iraqi government and the political opposition to it from within the political process are forgetting or are trying to avoid talking about because they themselves are involved in this defragmentation process accepting the occupation as a normality and so on and so forth.
Jasim al-Azaqi: Before we discuss one or two or three of these items that you brought to the table, Sami Ramadani, let me go back to Abdul-Hadi al-Hassani and tell him on a personal level, to be honest with you, I am surprised and shocked with your cavalier attitude towards this violence. You are dismissing it as nothing more than a propaganda and nothing more than a media. On a personal level, it's not a good reflection on you, on your party, on your prime minister. Actually, they took you to task when it came to the elections, simply because of the failure to stem the tide of violence.
Abdul-Hadi al-Hassani: When a terrorist waging a war against Iraq, we know what they are up to. They use all -- they use all the resources except especially the propaganda of the media.  I didn't say there was no violence.  I said we overcome many difficult period more worse violence. And we believe, as compared to two years ago, was the sectarian killing in the street, was everybody, every day, there was more than 100 people get killed. Now we have every three, four weeks, there's some terrorist attack.  They're not insurgents, by the way, they're terrorists. And we know there are terrorists who are helping them, who are assisting them, who cradle them and we will wishing and hoping now that the media could see the truth as it is not as they want to see it. And that is what I'm saying and here is my petition --
Jasim al-Azaqi: We are --
Abdul-Hadi al-Hassani: I drove -- I drove -- I drove yesterday from Baghdad. Really afternoon. And I arrive at midnight to Basra and it was calm and nice and it is really the situation not as the image in the media.  And we need to reflect the real truth, the real media reflecting the real truth. And we try to be honest politicians, not politicians who is up to politician or propaganda.
Jasim al-Azaqi: We are a member of the media and we try to shed light on the truth and one of those truths is the discovery of torture chamber in the old Iraqi airport of al Muthana and more than 437 people were found there. Some of them they were tortured severely They range in age to just some kids to very old men.  And yet al-Maliki's first reaction, his first perfunctory reaction to say, "I did not know about it." How do you explain such a horrific torture chamber -- which is fooling the hatred and the violence and al-Maliki, prime minister, his very force is responsible for that torture chamber he says "I did not know about."?
Abdul-Hadi al-Hassani: No, he didn't say he didn't know about that prison, he said he didn't know there was any secretive prison. Nor did he know that there was any torturing in the prison.  Because this is a prison in the Muthana  everybody knows about it, even the Minister of Human Rights, the lady, she has herself been there and she has said there are seven judges, investigative judges and how come judges there as secret. It is open and we don't know if there is any torturing and we already arrested the people who tortured the prisoners and also this prison had already been closed and the disclosure and propaganda of Los Angeles newspaper had then --
He has no idea what he's saying so we'll stop there.  There was no torturing but the tortures were arrested?  The more upset/animated he becomes, the less he seems aware of what he's saying and I don't think he's confessing to anything so much as he's not grasping the language.  He's also lying and Jasim al-Azawi calls him on that repeatedly throughout the program. That's the best State Of Law can serve up?  And what the hell?  Abdul-Hadi al-Hassani was in a dentist chair?  Or he really thinks leaning all the way back in the chair like that is good for a televised interview.  Viewers don't want to examine his nostrils.  Someone tell him to sit up straight next time. And, FYI, Ned Parker's "Secret prison for Sunnis revealed in Baghdad" (Los Angeles Times) is the article being attacked.  While we're mentioning Al Jazeera, please note that Annie Lennox was Riz Khan's guest on the latest Riz Khan's One on One which began airing Friday.  She wears the HIV Positive t-shirt in the interview and CBS News explains the story behind that.  With one minor detail everyone's missed.  Trivia question to be answered in tomorrow's snapshot: What music peer of Annie's (in the eighties when she was with Eurythmics) declared publicly that he was going to do something similar to raise awareness but then let it slide? Answer in tomorrow's snapshot. 
Friday, Nouri's cohort was insisting that violence in Iraq was just a press cretated myth.  Sunday, the big news was an attack on college students -- predominantly Christian ones, just outside of Mosul. Sam Dagher (New York Times) reported that at least 1 person died in the bombings and at least seventy were injured and Dagher quotes Jamil Slahuddin Jamil stating, "We were going for our education and they presented us with bombs. I still do not know what they want from Christians." Jamal al-Badrani and Matthew Jones (Reuters) noted 10 wounded (citing police sources) and quote Hamdaniya mayor Nissan Karoumi stating, "All of them were Christian students. They go in buses like that to Mosul's university after the troubled times when Christians were targeted in the past."  Carol Glatz (Catholic News Service) quotes Redemptorist Father Bashar Wardu of Erbil stating, "It was a brutal, unprecedented attack. We are shocked since the victims were not soldiers or militants, but just students who were carrying books, pens and their dreams of growing up and serving their own nation. Christians are still being targeted."  Patrick Goodenough (CNS News) reports:

The students were traveling in convoy to Mosul University, because it was considered a safer way to get them to classes after previous attacks on Christians. The attack occurred near a checkpoint manned by U.S. and Iraqi soldiers as well as troops from the semi-autonomous Iraqi Kurdish region. Iraq's Assyrian Christians are adherents of denominations including the Chaldean Catholic and Syriac Orthodox churches. The community, which traces its origins to the early years of Christianity two millennia ago, has been dwindling in numbers over the past two decades, a trend researchers attributed initially to difficulties experienced after the 1991 Gulf War but said accelerated since the fall of the Baathist regime in 2003.
AFP reports that today saw "thousands" protest the attack marching and carrying banners and quotes Basim Sameer stating, "The government is silent and is doing nothing about (the trouble) we face."  The office of KRG President Masoud Barzani issued the following statement today:
It is very regrettable that civilians continue to be targeted, especially Christians in the city of Mosul by the terrorists who aim at ridding the city of its Christians to whom Mosul is their home and has been so for a very long time.             
The terrorist incident of this morning against Christian students en route to school near Mosul resulted in at least one casualty and a number of injuries. The terrorists aim to disrupt the ages-long diversity of Nineveh which is home to a number of different religious and ethnic groups.                           
We at the Kurdistan Region Presidency strongly condemn this terrorist attack on the Christian students. We also call upon all the concerned parties to work harder on finding those responsible for this cowardly act.           
We wish for the wounded a speedy recovery and hereby state that the medical facilities of the Kurdistan Region are at the service of the wounded. In the wake of the terrorist attack, the Erbil Emergency Hospital received a number of wounded individuals and has prepared its facilities and staff to assist their fellow medical professionals in Mosul.            
Thursday's snapshot noted the US Commission on International Religious Freedom issued their [PDF format warning] "Eleventh Annual Report on Religious Freedom in the World" which included no link to the report.  Community member Margo caught that (thank you, Margo).  From the report, we'll note:
FINDINGS: Systematic, ongoing, and egregious religious freedom violations continue in Iraq. Members of the country's smallest religious minorities still suffer from targeted violence, threats, and intimidation, against which they receive insufficient government protection. Perpetrators of such attacks are rarely identified, investigated, or punished, creating a climate of impunity. The small communities also experience a pattern of official discrimination, marginalization, and neglect. In addition, there continue to be sectarian attacks, often with impunity, and tense relations between Shi'a and Sunni Iraiqs, and other egregious, religiously-motivated violence also continues.                
Based on these concerns, USCIRF again recommends in 2010 that Iraq be designated as a "country of particular concern," or CPC.* The Commission recommended that Iraq be designated as a CPC in 2008 and 2009, and placed Iraq on its Watch List in 2007.          
The religious freedom situation in Iraq remains grave, particularly for the country's smallest, most vulnerable religious minorities. The violence, forced displacement, discrimination, marginalization, and neglect suffered by members of these groups threaten these ancient communities' very existence in Iraq. These minorities, which include Chaldo-Assyrians and other Christians, Sabean Mandaeans, and Yazidis, continue to experience targeted violence, receive inadequate official protection or justice, and suffer discrimination. Since 2003, many have fled to neighboring countries, where they represent a disproportionately high percentage of registered Iraqi refugees. The diminished numbers remaining in the country are now concentrated in areas in the highly dangerous Nineveh governorate over which the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) is seeking to extend its control, and they suffer abuses and discrimination as a result. Although the Iraqi government has publicly condemned violence against these groups, it continues to fall short in investigating the continuing attacks and bringing perpetrators to justice, and its efforts to increase security to minority areas are not adequate. In addition, though greatly reduced from 2006-07 levels, violence between Shi'a and Sunni Iraqis continues. Significant tensions between these groups remain, including tensions due to the ongoing government formation process. Finally, other religiously-motivated violence and abuse continues.
In other news over the weekend, US Army Spc Anthony Magee was wounded by an April 23rd missle attack in Iraq and evacuated to Germany. WDAM reports he died Friday at the age of 28. Ben Piper (Hattiesburg American) reports he received the Purple Heart on Thursday, puts his age at 29, and quotes a family statement: "We have lost a son, a father and a hero today who dedicated his life to the service of our nation. His family would like to thank the entire community and nation for their thoughts and prayers." The death brings the number of US service members killed in the Iraq War to 4395 when ICCC updates. Which they didn't do Saturday as Third noted and they didn't do Sunday and they still haven't done today.  Today when DoD issues the following: "The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.  Sgt. Anthony O. Magee, 29, of Hattiesburg, Miss., died April 27 at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, of wounds sustained April 24 when enemy forces attacked his unit with indirect fire at Contingency Operating Base Kalsu, Iskandariyah, Iraq. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Benning, Ga." That announcement may be followed by a DoD correction.  April 27th?  Maybe so.  That was a Tuesday.  Why the long delay in announcing the death if he passed away last Tuesday?  Next of kin?  Uh, no.  Many members of his family were at his bedside (including his wife and his parents). 
Violence (or at least those nasty press 'rumors' of it) continued in Iraq today.

Reuters notes a Baghdad roadside bombing claimed 1 life and left six more injured, a Baghdad sticky bombing claimed 1 life and left two more people injured, a Shirquat car bombing claimed 3 lives and left two more injured, a Shirqat roadside bombing claimed 1 life and left six pepole injured, a Baghdad roadside bombing injured three people and Mosul grenade attacks injured three people.
Reuters notes 1 Imam shot dead in a Mosul mosque and another person injured and  1 fortuneteller shot dead in Kirkuk
Today the Baghdad recounts Nouri al-Maliki threw a fit over began. Xiong Tong (Xinhua) reports Independent High Electoral Commission spokesperson Qassim al-Abboudi declared today that the recounting of approximately 2.5 million ballots had begun "under the supervision of 44 monitors in Baghdad al-Rasheed Hotel in the Green Zone that houses some Iraqi government offices and foreign embassies, including the U.S. one." Suadad al-Salhy and Aseel Kami (Reuters) observed, "It could reverse the lead of a cross-sectarian alliance headed by former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi which rode strong support from the Sunni minority to take 91 seats in the 325-member parliament." The two reported that as soon as counting began, members of Nouri's bloc began whining.  Steven Lee Myers (New York Times) explains, "The objection added controversy -- and theatrics -- to a political struggle that is already convoluted and protracted. It threatened to further delay the certification of the final results of the crucial vote, held nearly two months ago."  Jane Arraf (Christian Science Monitor) adds, "Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's coalition Monday tried to throw another wrench into the slow-moving Iraq election process by calling for an audit in addition to a manual recount of votes from the March 7 parliamentary elections." Atul Aneja (The Hindu) points out, "In the results announced for the 325-member Parliament, Ayad Allawi's Iraqiyah party had secured a slender lead of two seats over Mr. Maliki's State of Law formation. However, the tally could change after manual recount for the 68 seats of Baghdad province is completed."  Borzou Daragahi (Los Angeles Times) provides this context,  "Maliki's latest move follows a secretive commission's decision to challenge pro-Allawi candidates for being alleged members of the outlawed Baath Party. It further raises fears that an election praised by international observers for its credibility and transparency could be undermined, stripping away faith in the political process and reigniting a sectarian civil war that has dramatically cooled."  Gabriel Gatehouse (BBC News) reported from inside the counting rooms at the Al Rasheed Hotel offering that there were complaints from the Communist Party at the start because they were not inside but they and other observers were ushered in.  Jomana Karadsheh (CNN) adds, "The head of the Independent High Electoral Commission, Faraj al-Haidari, said the recount procedures were based on the commission's interpretation of a court decision involving the recount. He said the commission would continue with its current recount plan unless a court ordered it to do otherwise."  Rebecca Santana (AP) reports Iraqi state TV cut out of the live broadcast when a row developed between al-Haidari and Hussain al-Shahristani who is both Minister of Oil and a State of Law official and that bodyguards had to prevent the two men from coming to blows as al-Sharistani vowed a crisis if the calls made by Nouri's party were not heeded. Alsumaria TV reports that al-Haidari states there are "660 employees from all provinces [who] are working double shifts to carry out votes recount".
We'll note this from David Bacon's "EVEN WITHOUT ARIZONA'S LAW, FIRINGS AND WORSE FACE IMMIGRANT WORKERS" (New American Media):

SAN FRANCISCO, CA (4/20/10) -- While the potential criminalization of undocumented people in Arizona continues to draw headlines, the actual punishment of workers because of their immigration status has become an increasingly bitter fact of life across the country.
In the latest move by the Department of Homeland Security, 475 immigrant janitors will soon be fired from their jobs in San Francisco. Weeks ago, DHS went through the employment records of their employer, ABM, one of the largest building service companies in the country. The Immigration and Customs Enforcement arm of DHS sifted through Social Security records, and the I-9 immigration forms all workers have to fill out when they apply for jobs. They then told ABM that the company had to fire 475 workers who were accused of lacking legal immigration status.
ABM has been a union company for decades, and many of the workers have been there for years. "They've been working in this industry for 15, 20, some as many as 27 years in the buildings downtown," says Olga Miranda, president of Service Employees Local 87. "They've built homes. They've provided for their families. They've sent their kids to college. They're not new workers. They didn't just get here a year ago."

David Bacon's latest book is Illegal People -- How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants (Beacon Press) which 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 "The Joan Rivers Presidency" went up yesterday.