Sunday, December 12, 2010

And the war drags on . . .

Iraq reminded the world today that the war goes on. Ned Parker and Raheem Salman (Los Angeles Times) report 13 dead from a Ramadi suicide car bombing and reminds the bombing takes place "a week after the killing of 26 people in a series of bombings around Baghdad." Fadhel al-Badrani (Reuters) adds 41 people were injured and notes, "Hikmet Khalaf, the deputy governor of Anbar, said the blast in central Ramadi, 100 km (60 miles) west of Baghdad, targeted a complex in which the provincial council is based." There was a second bombing in Anbar Province, Steven Lee Myers (New York Times) reports, "In a small village near Baquba, the capital of Diyala Province, a suicide bomber blew himself up as Shiites gathered to march as part of the annual pilgrimage commemorating the killing of Imam Hussein in 680. The explosion killed a sheik leading the procession and his son. The attack appeared to be well planned. After the first blast, as the police arrived, a roadside bomb exploded. The bomb wounded 24 more, including a local federal police commander, Staff Col. Raghib al-Umeri, and a member of Diyala's provincial council."

Did everyone forget to put on their thinking caps? Each of the stories above notes the political stalemate (though Ned Parker is unaware that a stalemate continues until an executive government is formed -- which it hasn't been). Anbar's the home of what?

No one's telling you.

Sahwa. Awakening. Sons Of Iraq. The largely Sunni fighters put on the US payroll by the US military because -- according to Gen David Petraeus in his repeated April 2008 Congressional testimony -- they were attacking US military equipment and US service members (that was the order Petreaus gave -- repeatedly). It starts in 2005 and in Anbar which is why the US gave it the name of "Awakening" -- "Anbar Awakening," they liked the alliteration of it. Some people have found the facts hard -- like Megan Garber of CJR who felt the need to correct a politician and her own correction was wrong. The US put them on the payroll and continued to put them on the payroll. By the spring of 2008, there were over 90,000 on the US payroll (and according to Petreaus' Congressional testimony, some were Shi'ite) and they would have likely remained there if Senator Barbara Boxer had not asked why Nouri al-Maliki wasn't footing the bill considering all the oil money billions rolling in. As Petreaus, US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker and various underlings repeatedly made clear, the thought had never occured to them.

Sunni tribal leaders (and Sunni mafia and mafia tribal leaders) were put on the US payroll (at a much higher rate of pay than most Americans realize -- the Sahwa 'fighter' made approximately $300 a month -- some for as much as five years -- but the US paid more for the leaders) and they recruited others to join them. The US basically paid off bullies in the playground to stop assaulting. That's all it was.

And in 2005, there was hestiancy but the payroll increased steadily each year. By the summer of 2008, the US was announcing Nouri would be footing the bill and that he would absorb the Sahwa into the security forces and governmental jobs. Nouri thought and said otherwise. Despite the outlets linked to above repeatedly reporting that the US had stopped paying Sahwa -- November 2008, February 2009 . . . -- the US continued paying Sahwa for months and months and there are still a few who are getting money. With Ike Skelton out of Congress and John Murtha dead and, of course, a Democrat in the White House, don't look for anyone in Congress to pursue documentation of CERP funds. (Walking cash for the military brass in Iraq is what CERP has turned into.)

Nouri not only has refused to pay them -- checks late if they ever come -- he's not only refused to provide even 20% of them with jobs, he's hounded them, had them arrested, had them targeted.

And as this has taken place, there have been press reports -- even in US outlets -- about how Sahwa was festering and wondering how 'smart' Nouri's move was. Anbar's where the Sahwa started. Today it's where deadly bombings take place.

They're just there to try and make the people free,
But the way that they're doing it, it don't seem like that to me.
Just more blood-letting and misery and tears
That this poor country's known for the last twenty years,
And the war drags on.
-- words and lyrics by Mick Softly (available on Donovan's Fairytale)

Last Sunday, the number of US military people killed in the Iraq War since the start of the illegal war was 4432 (but listed as 4430 by the Defense Dept which hadn't updated at the time). Tonight? PDF format warning, DoD lists the the number of Americans killed serving in Iraq at 4433.

In other violence today, AFP reports, "Insurgents kidnapped the sister-in-law of a top Kurdish policeman in an apparent bid to release jailed detainees in the ethnically mixed northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk, police said on Sunday."

New content at Third:

Isaiah's latest goes up after this. Pru notes the following from Great Britain's Socialist Worker:

Film Waiting for Superman is a trojan horse for corporate school sell-offs

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by Nick Grant

This is a nasty film—but it could well scoop a Best Documentary Oscar next February.

It abuses our compassion for poor children in order to market a corporate takeover of their education through “charter schools”.

It blames teachers and their unions for the failings of a White House administration that has slashed funding in the schools it portrays.

Obama’s education adviser and Chicago buddy Arne Duncan is quite open about the fact that he is implementing the “shock doctrine” approach described by Naomi Klein.

In an interview on ABC News in January, he said, “The best thing that happened to the education system in New Orleans was Hurricane Katrina.”

All New Orleans schools were closed and the teachers fired. Some 57 percent of New Orleans schools have now been reopened as non-union charter schools.

Waiting For Superman’s producers have vested interests in profiteering from future global educational provision. They themselves are linked to those very same corporate players.

Participant, the company behind the film, has recently launched, which campaigns for more charter schools.

“Maybe the public school in your area stinks,” it says. “Maybe it’s a dropout factory staffed by burned-out teachers and you’re looking for an alternative... What you’re looking for is a charter school.”

Waiting For Superman uses documentary techniques as propaganda for the privatisation of public service schooling.

No successful state school teacher, head teacher or local director of education appears in the film. No satisfied parents or students of such schools appear.

No attention is paid to the charter schools that are run by incompetent leaders or corporations mainly concerned to make money.

One of the stars of Waiting For Superman is Geoffrey Canada.

He was enthusiastically promoted by the Tories at their conference in Birmingham in October. His Harlem Children’s Zone has become a highly-financed showpiece for the pro-Charters brigade.

Yet in the 2010 state tests, 60 percent of the fourth-grade students in one of his charter schools were not proficient in reading, nor were 50 percent in the other.

He kicked out his entire first class of middle school students when they didn’t get good enough test scores to satisfy his board of trustees. Beneath the rhetoric of inclusion lies a cruel, dog-eat-dog business ethos.

We should challenge the propaganda in Waiting For Superman because the same is happening in Britain.

The government is rubbishing teachers and their unions, and breaking up local councils and public services, so that the same private corporate interests can take over here. We must fight them.

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