Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Targeting religions

Yesterday on All Things Considered (NPR, link has text and audio), Kelly McEvers reported on the targeting of Iraqi Christians:

Kelly McEvers: In one short week, these two sisters went from middle class to the edge of desperation. Before the attacks, they owned a building in Baghdad, where they rented apartments to other Christians. Their husbands worked government jobs. But then a husband and a son were caught in the church siege.

Now, says one of the sisters, who only wanted to give her first name, Ban, she is ready to leave her country for good.

Ms. BAN: I hate being an Iraqi because what they do to us.

McEVERS: Without any income, the family of nine is living off of savings. We ask how long they have until the money runs out.

Ms. BAN: (Speaking foreign language).

McEVERS: Two months, three months, Ban says, no more.

Ms. BAN: (Speaking foreign language).

McEVERS: Swiping her hands together to show there is nothing between them, Ban repeats the same word over and over: finished, finished, finished.

The latest wave of attacks on Iraqi Christians began October 31st with the assault on Our Lady of Salvation Church in Baghdad in which at least seventy people were killed and another seventy injured. Since then, Baghdad and Mosul especially have been flashpoints for violence aimed at Iraqi Christians with many fleeing -- and many fleeing to the KRG. The New York Times' Steven Lee Myers offers a video report on the targeting.

Diana Gorgiz: When George Bush came he said that the Iraqi people will practice freedom and democracy. Where is the freedom and where is the democracy? Let him come here.

[Added 12-14-2010 Wrong, wrong, wrong. Stephen Farrell did the NYT video report not Steven Lee Myers as I said. I was wrong. My apologies.]

Catholic News Agency reports Nouri has a new 'plan,' "concrete walls up to 10 feet high"! Yes, wall off the areas, the way he's walled off Baghdad. And that didn't stop the violence. The editorial board of the Watertown Daily Times weighs in:

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom in May faulted the government's failure to protect Christians and other minorities.
"The violence, forced displacement, discrimination, marginalization and neglect suffered by members of these groups threaten these ancient communities' very existence in Iraq," the commission said.
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has called for tolerance of Christians and other minority faiths. His government, though, needs to do more to ensure the protection of religious minorities.
The United States has devoted much to help Iraq build a better country. Religious persecution is a step backward.

Meanwhile Jack Healy (New York Times) notes 4 Shi'ites were killed yesterday as they were "observing the religious holiday of Ashura." Press TV reports, "Following the recent terrorist attacks against Iranian pilgrims to Iraq, Iran is calling on its nationals to seriously refrain from traveling to the neighboring country unless as part of a registered tour."

The following community sites updated last night and this morning:

And we'll close with this from the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee:


WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the U.S. Senate passed the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Improvements Act of 2010 (S. 3447), a bill sponsored by Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Daniel K. Akaka (D-Hawaii) to improve educational assistance for those who served in the Armed Forces after September 11, 2001.

“Today the Senate reaffirmed our commitment to assisting veterans pursuing education, for the benefit of the young men and women in the armed services and as an investment in the future of our nation,” said Senator Akaka, a World War II veteran who attended college on the original GI Bill.

As passed by the Senate, this bill would, among other things:

•Provide for a streamlined, less complex, and more equitable program for veterans who have served on active duty since September 11, 2001;
•Expand opportunities for training and education by paying benefits for on-job and vocational training; and
· Make service members eligible for an annual book allowance.

Chairman Akaka was a principal cosponsor of the legislation that established the new GI Bill program in 2008. Based on VA’s year-long experience with the program, Chairman Akaka and members of the committee worked with the Department of Veterans Affairs and numerous veterans service organizations to craft the improvements contained in this bill.
This bill now moves to the House of Representatives for consideration.

The committee report for S.3447 can be found here. For more information on the GI Bill, please visit http://www.gibill.va.gov.

The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com.

thomas friedman is a great man

oh boy it never ends