Monday, June 14, 2010

Iraqi Parliament meets today for the first time . . . . for 20 minutes

Today Iraq's semi-newly elected Parliament convened. March 7th, Iraq concluded Parliamentary elections. Three months and two days later, still no government. 163 seats are needed to form the executive government (prime minister and council of ministers). When no single slate wins 163 seats (or possibly higher -- 163 is the number today but the Parliament added seats this election and, in four more years, they may add more which could increase the number of seats needed to form the executive government), power-sharing coalitions must be formed with other slates, parties and/or individual candidates. (Eight Parliament seats were awarded, for example, to minority candidates who represent various religious minorities in Iraq.) Ayad Allawi is the head of Iraqiya which won 91 seats in the Parliament making it the biggest seat holder. Second place went to State Of Law which Nouri al-Maliki, the current prime minister, heads. They won 89 seats. Nouri made a big show of lodging complaints and issuing allegations to distract and delay the certification of the initial results while he formed a power-sharing coalition with third place winner Iraqi National Alliance. Together, the two still lack four seats necessary (or so it is thought) to form the government.

Nayla Razzouk and Caroline Alexander (Bloomberg News) reports
that the "majority of lawmakers [. . .] took the oath in the two official lanagues, Arabic and Kurdish, before the elder lawmaker, Fuad Massum, closed the session. Iraq’s constitution stipulates that the house elect a speaker, two deputy speakers and a new president, who asks the leader of the largest bloc to name a new prime minister." Reuters explains that Fouad Masoum is a Kurd and "one of the chamber's oldest members and picked to open the session." Zhang Xiang (Xinhua) adds, "Legislator Fuad Masum opened the session at about 11:15 a.m. ( 0815 GMT) [. . .] About 20 minutes later, Masum adjourned the session until further notice to give the political blocs more time to agree on a new speaker and his two deputies." Anthony Shadid (New York Times) observes, "Given the deadlock, the brevity of the session was expected. It was recessed until an unspecified date, possibly when a broader agreement on a coalition is reached. The most optimistic prediction for a deal was a week; the more pessimistic said months." Leila Fadel (Washington Post) adds, "The deeper issues of the nation were apparent in the short session. The followers of fiery Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, who strongly opposes the U.S. military role in Iraq, threatened to walk out in the days before Monday's session to protest the presence of U.S. Ambassador Christopher R. Hill." Fadel goes on to quote Iraq's Foreign Minister, Hoshyar Zebari, and note that he is "a Kurdish member of the new parliament." Apparently the issue of the Constitution barring members of Parliament from holding "an executive post in the government" has been ignored.

Today on Morning Edition (NPR), Steve Inskeep noted that over 65% of the MPs "are newcomers" as he introduced Lourdes Garcia-Navarro's latest report from Iraq. In this one, she's interviewing former MP's who paint a picture of immense corruption. Mithal al-Alousi states that neighboring countries have bought off MPs with bribes. Former MP Wathab Shaker adds that the corruption was widespread, "Unfortunately, a big number of them built houses outside Iraq. Politicians would use their influence to push certain deals through. The proof is that there has been so much money spent on reconstruction in Iraq, but where are the buildings, the hospitals, the schools, the electricity, the water? We could be the richest country in the world, but our people are digging through the trash."

On Lourdes, a number of e-mailers are noting they're glad she's back reporting from Iraq. She is a huge asset but she may not be covering it long. NPR's assigned another woman (who, last I heard, was looking for lodging in Iraq) to be their Iraq correspondent.

From Iraqi corruption to US law breaking, Oliver August (Times of London) reports:

An investigation by The Times in five Iraqi provinces has found that hazardous material from US bases is being dumped locally rather than sent back to America, in clear breach of Pentagon rules.
North and west of Baghdad, engine oil is leaking from 55-gallon drums into dusty ground, open acid canisters sit within easy reach of children, and discarded batteries lie close to irrigated farmland. A 2009 Pentagon document shown to The Times by a private contractor working with US soldiers mentions "an estimated 11 million pounds [5,000 tonnes] of hazardous waste" produced by American troops.

Jamal al-Badrani, Muhanad Mohammed, Matt Robinson and Mark Heinrich (Reuters) report
today's violence includes a Mosul market bombing with at least 1 person dead and twenty-seven injured. Meanwhile Kim Gamel (AP) notes the increased death toll from Sunday's Baghdad bank attack (bombs and gunfire): at least 26 dead.

Bonnie reminds that Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Not A Clue" went up last night. And we'll close with this from World Can't Wait:

Schedule for this summer -

Join the movement, get involved, and make it all possible by donating generously!

Friday, June 11 we will be at the Mid-Atlantic Women's Studies Conference in Maryland, showing the film, "Abortion, Morality, and the Liberation of Women," and presenting a workshop.

June 22-26 World Can't Wait will be at the United States Social Forum in Detroit where thousands of activists from all over the country will be converging to discuss how to make a better world. We'll present workshops with Iraq veterans on the We Are Not Your Soldiers Tour and Standing up for Abortion Rights, and joining in the anti-war events. World Can't Wait will be connecting the issues in a way that very few organizations there will be doing.

July 23-25 we'll be at the National Assembly to End the Occupations of Iraq & Afghanistan in Albany, NY where Debra Sweet will be speaking.

July 17-24 World Can't Wait is calling for people to converge on Charlotte, NC to defend women's reproductive rights, and oppose Operation Save America's threats against the clinic there.

August 23-25 Portland, Maine at the Veterans For Peace Conference. World Can't Wait will be conducting a workshop on the We Are Not Your Soldiers Tour "Bringing Reality and Resistance into Classrooms with Anti-War Veterans" and on the "The Tea Party and the Anti-War Movement."

World Can't Wait will be at Warped Tour organizing for the We are Not Your Soldiers Tour. Warped Tour is a nationwide music festival tour which brings hundreds of thousands of young people (mostly high-school students) together for rebellious music - and will bring thousands into contact with our message that we can stand with our brothers and sisters around the world instead of pointing guns at them.

We'll be exposing and protesting the war criminals in our midst through War Criminals Watch all summer long.

If you want to see people in the streets stopping the wars, torture, the spying, the lying, the brutal destruction of the environment, the attacks on women's basic right to abortion, and the demonization of immigrants fund THE movement that is organizing that.

Make a one-time tax-deductible donation to help pay for:
* the production of educational materials & organizer kits for students,
* travel & lodging for volunteers,
* tabling equipment in order to have the most compelling set up at conferences and concerts.

How much can you give to get resistance going nationwide, especially among young people?

Donate $100 or more by June 14 and you will receive a copy a book of your choosing either This Common Secret: My Journey as an Abortion Provider by Susan Wicklund or In the Name of Democracy: American War Crimes In Iraq & Beyond Edited by Jeremy Brecher, Jill Cutler, & Brendan Smith.

Join the movement by becoming a monthly sustainer at any amount of your choosing. For as little as $4 a month you can help deliver exposure like no else. Become a sustainer of $100 a month or more by June 14 and receive a copy of above book along with a T-shirt.

With your help we can turn private anger into collective public action to stop these crimes.

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