Monday, May 03, 2010

Recounts start in Baghdad, Iraqi Christians remain persecuted

As noted last night, Sam Dagher (New York Times) reports on the bombing attacks on a group of college students, predominately Christians, just outside of Mosul. 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.

Before anyone e-mails, CNS is a right-wing or right-leaning outlet. As community members have heard me point out repeatedly, we now highlight outlets we wouldn't have a few years back. That's due to the lack of Iraq coverage. In terms of the issues effecting Iraqi Christians, if it's a US source, more often than not it will be right-leaning if not right-wing and that's just due to the fact that the left media doesn't care about the issue. (As evidenced by seven years and counting of the Iraq War and no real coverage on the Christian community -- or the destruction of the Jewish community in Baghdad with not a peep from The Nation, The Progressive, Pacifica, Democracy Now!, et al.) Sometimes it appears those of us on the left are too eager to live up to negative stereotypes and that's certainly been the case with regards to the issue of Iraqi Christians.

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) observe, "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 report that already Nouri's bloc is complaining about the recounts.

In other election news, Sam Dagher (New York Times) reports that the Kurdish President Massoud Barzani has apparently succeeded in getting the elected Kurdish MPs to agree to work as a unified bloc. Dagher notes the political misfortunes of Jalal Talabani -- President of Iraq and Barzani's political rival. Dahger reports:

Evidence that the Kurds are moving forward together came last week when the Kurdistan regional Parliament quietly created a new committee tasked with reclaiming "historic Kurdish land" -- meaning contested areas like Kirkuk and hot spots in Nineveh Province -- under the regional government's de facto control but nominally still attached to the central government. And the Kurds are pushing for more leverage by holding out for partial vote recounts in those areas to minimize further the influence of Sunni Arabs and other groups there. In the interview, Mr. Barzani stressed that he believed that the only hope left for stability in Iraq was in dividing it into federations, preferably three: Kurds in the north, Sunni Arabs in the middle and west and Shiites in the south. He said Baghdad would become a "federal capital" fulfilling basic government functions. He likened talk of a strongly unified Iraq to "bird dreams and wishes."

Reuters reports on Hind al-Bidairi who has opened her own Baghdad cafe, employs "an all-female waiting staff" and who states, "I stand behind every woman trying to change the pattern of our society, to show that women are strong and have the right to get involved in all kinds of business."

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.

Last night we noted Cindy Sheehan would be taking part this Saturday in the Socialism Conference at Seattle University. Here's a press release on the event:

Saturday, May 8, 2010
10:30 AM – 6:30 PM
Seattle University Driving Directions
Bannan room 102 Campus Map
Seattle, WA

The American people elected Obama and the Democrats who promised to challenge Corporate America’s control over our country. Yet hundreds of thousands of hard-working Americans continue to be laid off and evicted from their homes while the bankers who created the economic crisis have continued using the $14 trillion in tax-payer bailouts and guarantees to lavish themselves with huge bonuses and salaries. And Republican and Democratic politicians have completely failed to take meaningful action to end global warming, discrimination, or the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan.

The Northwest Socialism Conference will be a rare opportunity to discuss and debate real solutions to these problems. Don’t miss this chance to get involved, meet, and talk with activists who are organizing a grassroots movement to create a better world.


Keli Carender from the Tea Party will debate Ramy Khalil from Socialist Alternative

Keli Carender is a rising star in the Tea Party movement. She was leading Tea Party rallies in Seattle in early 2009 before there even was a national Tea Party movement. She has been featured in The New York Times and on National Public Radio. She recently won the $3,000 Town Hall Award from a conservative association for challenging Democratic Congressman Norm Dicks on healthcare at a town hall meeting. Well known as “Liberty Belle,” she blogs at

Ramy Khalil is a regular contributor to Justice, the newspaper of Socialist Alternative. He has been an active member of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 587 and a leading organizer of mass protests against war and budget cuts to education and public services. He is currently pursuing a master’s degree in U.S. and Latin American history, and his articles appear at


  • 10:30AM - Bagels and Coffee
  • 11:00AM - "Capitalism in Crisis and the Case for Socialism" including Matt Gonzalez
  • 02:00PM - "Where is the Change Obama and the Democrats Promised? Resisting War and Cuts in Jobs and Education" with Cindy Sheehan, Independnent candidate for U.S. Senate Richard Curtis, and Justice editorial board member Philip Locker
  • 04:15PM - Debate: The Tea Party vs. Socialists!

Cindy Sheehan lost her son to the Iraq war and attracted international media attention in 2005 when she camped outside of President Bush's ranch to ask him simply why he had to send her son to die in Iraq. When Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi refused to impeach Bush for his crimes, Sheehan decided to run for Pelosi's seat, coming in second out of 7 candidates, winning 16% of the vote.

Matt Gonzalez was elected as the first Green Party member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 2000. Three years later, he came within 6% of the vote of becoming the first Green Party mayor of a city in the U.S. in 2008, he ran as an independent for Vice President with Ralph Nader in 2008.

Philip Locker has been a national organizer for Socialist Alternative for over 10 years and an editorial board member for Socialist Alternative's newspaper, Justice. He has been a central organizer for numerous mass student walkouts against the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan and military recruitment in schools. You can read his writing at

Suggested Donation: $10 (No one turned away)
Sponsored by Socialist Alternative
Contact or (713) 458-0366
Add this Facebook Event.

The e-mail address for this site is

sam dagher