Friday, February 11, 2011. Chaos and violence continue, protests continue throughout Iraq, Iraqi women continue suffer, rumors swirl that Iraq will announce the vice presidents Sunday and that there will be four (not the three expected), Cindy Sheehan explains how you can have blood on your hands, and more.
Jason Ditz: Well what's going on in Iraq is sort of the same thing that's going on all across the region. There's a high level of unemployment and increasing concern about a leader of the government taking more and more power for himself and there are starting to be some pretty big protests.
Scott Horton: Well be more specific about more power for himself?
Jason Ditz: Well right now Nouri al-Maliki the Prime Minister is also Nouri al-Maliki the Interior Minister and Nouri al-Maliki the Defense Minister and the National Security Minister and I believe he might have another title or two in there too. But basically he's -- when he announced his new unity cabinet, he kept every single cabinet position that has any police or military forces or even some of the smaller law enforcement groups are all under his control. He -- he literally controls, as the leader, every single, uh, every single non-foreign force in Iraq now.
Scott Horton: But that's unconstitutional according to the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iraq from 2005, right?
Jason Ditz: Well it certainly is. He's sort of skirting that by claiming that he's the interim Defense Minister and the interim Interior Minister and interim all these other ministers but -- And that he's going to appoint somebody. But it's been awhile now and he certainly doesn't seem to be moving forward with it.
Scott Horton: So now tell me about the reaction to this now too because across the Middle East, there's been protests. What's the effect of the "Egyptian virus" -- as John McCain called it -- in Iraq?
Jason Ditz: Well there have been some protests particularly in some of the poorer Shi'ite cities in the south. There's been some pretty good size protests demanding economic improvement, criticizing the government and police reacting as they have in a lot of places just by opening fire on the protesters.
Scott Horton: Do you know if there were any reports about Iraqi reaction to the international reports? I guess it was Amnesty -- No, it was Human Rights Watch and I guess CBS News followed up on all of this about Nouri al-Maliki and his secret prisons and torture and all of that. Is that part of the narrative in Iraq about the protests in the south, for example?
Jason Ditz: That I'm not sure about. It seems like the protests are pretty non-specific to the extent they're reported in the media. They're more angry at the general situation that they've got this not particularly elected government, Maliki's party came in second in last year's election and he ended up dominating the situation even more than he had before and that the economy is getting worse and worse so it seems like the specifics of torture, the specifics of his policies are sort of being drowned out by just the overwhelming annoyance at the situation in the hope that something similar that happened in Egypt might happen in Iraq too.
Yesterday attorneys led protests in Baghdad, Basra and Mosul. Alsumara TV notes, "The wave of demonstrations in Iraq does not only stir up underprivileged. Iraqi lawmakers staged a protest on Thursday in Baghdad against the ruling of the Iraqi Government to ban access for citizens and lawyers into State institutions mainly the Trade Ministry directorates. [. . .] Demonstrators believe that banning them from accessing state directorates to follow up their clients' formalities is an invitation for corruption." Al Rafidayn reports on the 500 in Baghdad and notes that 200 also demonstrated in Karbala and in Kut which saw two different protests -- one by attorneys. Haider Roa (Iraqhurr.org) adds demonstrations also took place in Samawah, Kut, Amara, Diwaniyah and Ramadi yesterday. Al Mada adds that the Islamic Supreme Council has declared it will protect any Iraqi who is protesting against the government's policies. Ammar al-Hakim, president of the Islamic Supreme Council, is warning that the government needs to start providing the basic services, providing jobs and end the corruption. He issued a call for the security forces of Iraq to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the Iraqi people and ensure they are protected during demonstrations and marches. He demanded that Iraqi officials stop offering easy and false assurances of improvements and actually deliver improvements. In response, Baghdad Operations Command agreed that they will protect Iraqi citizens who are taking part in demonstrations. Alsumaria TV adds, "Head of Islamic Supreme Council Sayyed Ammar Al Hakim rebuked the way Iraqi officials including Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki are dealing with the concerns and interests of Iraqis. Al Hakim called to deal more seriously with people's demands and restrain from fake vows and pledges, he said."
Also yesterday Oxfam published the report "Whose Aid Is It Anyway?" and AFP notes, "The non-profit group Oxfam said on Thursday that major powers were concentrating too much aid on countries for political and military reasons and were overlooking other severe crises. The aid organisation said billions of dollars had been used for "unsustainable, expensive and sometimes dangerous aid projects" supporting short-term foreign policy and security objectives. Oxfam particularly highlighted tens of billions of dollars spent in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past decade." The topic was the focus of the latest Guardian Focus podcast with Madeleine Bunting and guests the Guardian's Jonathan Steele, the European Council on Foreign Relation's Daniel Korski, Oxfam's Mike Leis and War on Want's John Hilary. In the discussion Bunting played a clip of Hillary Clinton speaking on the issue of Afghanistan women which led Jonathan Steele off on a raving loon moment. I've thought about that and that's the only term for it. (This was supposed to be addressed in yesterday's snapshot but there wasn't room.) Jonathan Steele needs to think about his remarks. Madeleine Bunting and the Guardian need to stop the women bashing.
Had I written yesterday, I wouldn't have called it that. But Madeleine specifically criticized David Cameron by name (as did guests) and they also criticized Hillary by name. Does no one see the problem with that?
David Cameron is the Prime Minister of England. Is Hillary Clinton the President of the United States? No, she's not. Her equivalent in the UK would be Theresa May. May, the UK Home Secretary, was never mentioned. Nor should she have been. Jonathan would argue he was building on her voting record from her days in the Senate. When she and Barack both served in the Senate, there wasn't a big difference in their voting records when it came to Afghanistan or Iraq. And you're not building on her voting record if you're talking about the status today. If you're talking about the status of that war today, the United States military has only one commander in chief and that is Barack Obama.
Instead of popping open a can of crazy, Jonathan should have asked Bunting why she played the clip to begin with? She's calling out David Cameron who's the leader of England. Why is she not calling out Barack? He should have asked her was the clip played because Hillary's a woman? Was the clip played because Barack makes no statements -- as he pursues these wars -- about the women in the countries he keeps the US military? If the latter's the case, that's not only troubling, it's worthy of an entire broadcast. People need to stop using Hillary as their chew toy. The Cult of St. Barack ensured that he got the White House. He now needs to take the criticism for his policies. And if that's too much for Jonathan Steele and Madeleine Bunting, then the Guardian Focus needs to find more mature guests and more mature host.
Some basic facts on Iraq from the United Nations Country Team Iraq -- young population with nearly 50% being less than 19, only 18% of women are employed. Those are 2011 figures. In 2009, Oxfam published their survey of Iraqi women and the number of them who were head of household was approximately 36%. The bulk of them are not receiving any assistance from the government and the meager amount offered to widows by the government (the few that receive assistance) is not enough to live on. In December, IRIN noted, "An IOM survey of 1,355 female-headed displaced families who have returned to their places of origin found that 74 percent are struggling to secure adequate nutrition for their families. Delays in receiving subsidized government food rations or lack of some food items in the rations force women to buy food with whatever money they have, adding to their struggle, the report, issued on 3 December, states. The survey also found that health problems and social norms had prevented nearly 40 percent of them from finding jobs. Of those who are able to work, 71 percent are unemployed." Nizar Latif (The National) reported last week on how the Iraqi Women's Association's Madia al Rawai was warning that the al-Maliki government needed to look at what was happening in surrounding countries, "The Iraqi government should pay attention. There is an army of women, with no jobs and no money, and they are ready to take to the streets unless something is done to improve their situation." Tupperware's Elinor Steele has been writing entries for The Huffington Post about Iraqi women she encountered on her recent visit to the country. She noted earlier this month:
Iraq has always been a pioneer in the Middle East for integrating women into society and promoting women's rights; however, over the past 30 years many laws that empowered women have been retracted and some men in society have become more conservative and less open-minded to women-owned businesses. This kind of thinking could set Iraq's economy back by decades.
During my visit, I had a chance to meet a group of Iraqi female politicians. The first comment they made was about unequal representation within the Iraqi government. While the Iraqi parliament is complying with its constitutional mandate that 25% of the seats must be held by women, there are no women in senior-level government positions such as vice president or serving as ministers at high-ranking ministries.
Sunday, Iraq's representatives in Parliament are supposed to vote on the vice president. In the past, the country has had two vice presidents. Three has been expected to be the number this year and all men. However, Al Rafidayn reports that there may be four vice presidents and that the fourth expected to be a VP is a woman with the Turkmen bloc, Faihaa Zine El Abidine. Supposedly, on Monday, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani asked parliament to allow for four vps and that was to provide a post for "the women of Iraq." The Turkmen bloc issued a statement noting that women in Iraq are maginalized in the current government and that they did not receive any posts from Nouri to his cabinet ("the center of political decision-making"). How very telling that the country might have their first female vice president when Nouri -- his Cabinet still not full -- can't find slots for women. His Cabinet is so bad that even the head of the Ministry of Women is a man.
Iraq has many problems but Elinor Steele and the New York Times ignore the obvious. The puppet government is installed. The forces terrorizing Iraqis were picked by and endorsed by the US and British governments. The terrorizing was supposed to keep the Iraqis too frightened to fight the occupation. So religious extremists were put into positions of power and it has made life hell for Iraqi women, Iraq's LGBT community and Iraq's religious minorities. These thugs doing the terrorizing were elevated to their positions not by accident. John Leland and Duraid Adnan (New York Times) report on the situation in Baghdad for women and reveal just how close minded so many are (including some women). A store's window display promises eternal damnation to women who allow even bits of the hairs on their head to be seen. (Iraqi women should reject that store window display by rejecting the store itself.) 34-year-old Maysson Ibrahim vows she will continue to wear her "tight jeans and skirts" and the curses and harassment will not force her "to cover herself." And all of this could have been addressed. The US government controlled Iraqi media. They could have set a tone (hell, if they knew what they were doing, they could have shaped the society -- that's not me encouraging it and I've refrained from stating how that could happen -- either in personal conversations or at this site). They chose not to. Yet again, they decided it was more important to support terrorism and allow the thugs free reign. Journalist Anna Badkhen writes:
No one knows exactly how many Iraqi women have been raped since the U.S-led invasion in 2003, but activists in Iraq and abroad put the numbers in the thousands. Human rights groups began to see an increase in rapes in Iraq immediately after the fall of Hussein's regime, and evidence that different factions were targeting women. In 2008, Amnesty International reported that "crimes specifically aimed at women and girls, including rape, have been committed by members of Islamist armed groups, militias, Iraqi government forces, foreign soldiers within the U.S.-led Multinational Force, and staff of foreign private military security contractors."
Badkhen writes the above for a Frontline video report she and Mimi Chakarova did on the safe houses for Iraqi women. They visit one in the Red Zone which, for safety reasons, they must visit "in the dead of night," Chakarova explains. They discover "a two bedroom apartment full of women and children. One of the women warns us that the rats will keep us awake. [. . .] There are six women living here with their children. Four have been raped." From the video report:
Mimi Chakarova: When we were in Iraq, did you witness any women getting raped.
Male US service member: Yeah, definitely. On both tours I would say at least 8 rapes that I saw with my own eyes.
The Underground Railroad was founded in 2004 by Baghdad-born architect-turned-feminist-organizer Yanar Mohammed, head of OWFI, along with MADRE, an international women's rights group based in New York. It provides the only sanctuaries for victims of sexual abuse and domestic violence outside the quasi-autonomous Kurdistan region in northern Iraq, where the local government and nongovernment organizations operate several shelters. In addition to providing temporary asylum, it helps women resettle in places where their abusers cannot find them easily. Since its inception, says MADRE policy and communications director Yifat Susskind, the railroad has helped thousands of women. Several have been transferred to Turkey and at least two now live in the United States, but most of the rescued women have remained in Iraq.
Saddam Hussein's regime persecuted political dissidents but allowed women personal rights and freedoms; assaults on women were rare. But when violence engulfed the country after the U.S. invasion, women became "the easiest targets," says OWFI member Dalal Juma. Violence against women is now rampant and goes virtually unchecked by Iraq's new legal system. Sexual violence is "severely underreported," Amnesty International wrote in March, and along with other crimes against women and girls, is usually committed with impunity.
[. . .]
Women learn about the shelter through word of mouth and OWFI's quarterly newsletter; the only people who know its location are the women who run it and a thoroughly vetted handful of male security guards armed with handguns. One of these guards lives at the shelter with his young wife, an OWFI employee. As far as the landlord is concerned, the couple is renting the apartment and the other women are their relatives, in town for a visit. Just to be on the safe side, the organization pays $350 a month for the place, which would normally cost about $150. "Money for silence," Juma explains.
Women in Iraq have not been afforded equal access to justice or protection by law enforcement agencies, so have stayed more vulnerable and likely to face abuse. "The security situation in general has obviously hit the vulnerable populations worst, and when we look at the situation for women, there is a fear that -- rather than improving -- the situation since 2003 has deteriorated," said Helen Olafsdottir, a UNDP Iraq advisor for Crisis Prevention and Recovery. "We've found that there was a huge gap in terms of addressing issues of domestic violence, and gender-based violence in general." According to surveys conducted jointly by the Government of Iraq and UN agencies from 2006 to 2009, women in Iraq face high levels of violence, but lack adequate access to care and justice in the aftermath. One in five women from 15 to 49 years old has suffered physical violence at the hands of her husband -- some 14 percent of whom were also pregnant at the time. The real numbers are likely higher, however, since reporting of gender-based violence cases is generally low, as women fear social stigmatization and lack confidence that authorities will investigate complaints. [See here and here for sources of stats above and facts in the next paragraph.] In Iraq, there is not a strong legal framework to protect women from abuse, compounded by a lack of shelters and a lack of adequate training for medical and law enforcement authorities to respond to instances of gender-based violence.
The US government created the conditions women in Iraq now live in. It's amazing how little press coverage Iraqi women receive. The best thing the US can do for Iraqi women is to remove all forces immediately. US forces are used to prop up the puppet government and the thugs who terrorize. A quick departure by the US could spell an end to them. The longer US forces prop up this anti-woman government, the longer the anti-women sentiment exists and begins to appear 'normal' to many Iraqis.
In other news, Al Mada reports the Health and Environment Committee in the Maysan Province is warning of an impending environmental disaster as a result of the continued influx of contaminated water from Iran. The salt in the water, is threatening farming and and animals, the committee learned on a visit to Amara. Still on water news, Water World reports:
On Thursday, 10 February 2011, Swiss President Micheline Calmy-Rey presented the report "The Blue Peace: Rethinking Middle East Water" to the Swiss Press Club in Geneva. Supported by Switzerland and by the Swedish government, the report compiles a list of 10 recommendations whose objective is to contribute to building peace and to reducing the conflicts in the Middle East thanks to a sustainable trans-border management of water in the region. On Thursday, 10 February 2011, the "Blue Peace" report was officially presented by Swiss President Micheline Calmy-Rey. The document assesses the principal challenges linked to the trans-border management of resources. At present a factor of division and tension, water harbours the potential of becoming an instrument of peace and cooperation. This emerges as the report's central thesis. Subsequently, it compiles a list of ten recommendations, calculated in the short, medium, and long terms, which are aimed to lead to pragmatic solutions. Water resources in the Middle East are subject to an unprecedented pressure which is threatening the populations of entire regions along with their economic activities. Population growth, migration, urbanization, and climate change are all exerting an enormous impact on these resources. In fact, over the last 50 years, the flow rate of numerous rivers in turkey, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, and Jordan has plunged by 50 to 90 percent. And yet at the same time, the sustainable management of trans-border water resources is vital to provide for the requirements of agriculture, the need for clean drinking water, and for socio-economic development in general. It is key to avoiding human tragedy and to fostering the promotion of peace.
AFP also notes the joint Swiss and Swedish report adds, "Downstream territories such as Israel, Jordan and Palestinian territories were in the worst position with mounting clean water deficits of up to 500-700 million cubic metres each. The report also argued that technical solutions such as desalination or wastewater recycling in Israel would ultimately have limited scope."
Al Rafidayn reports that Behouz Aziz Older, a journalist in northen Iraq, is said to have taken his own life after being discovered hanged in a cemetary. His funeral services were yesterday. Reuters notes 1 man ("mobile shop owner") was shot dead Thursday night in Falluja.
Last night on KPFK's Lawyer's Guild (7 to 8:00 PST each Thursday night -- click here to visit the KPFK archives and scroll down to listen to program -- you have 59 days before it's pulled from the archives), Jim Lafferty spoke with Peter Dudar who made the documentary Arlington West with Sally Marr.
Jim Lafferty: So tell us about Cross Wise, what is it?
Peter Dudar: Well it's the new version of Arlington West and it's twice as powerful
Jim Lafferty: Okay.
Peter Dudar: Now we have an update with all these -- The mothers' stories have been they were lied to unfortunately. Along with Fernando Suarez [del Solar]' story about saying his son [Jesus Suarez del Solar, November 16, 1982 - March 27, 2003] was --
Jim Lafferty: Who was the first guy to die in Iraq.
Peter Dudar: Jesus. Ironically in a Christian country, he was the first to die in Iraq.
Jim Lafferty: And he was told what? That his son had died -- I can't remember the story, Peter. Tell us.
Peter Dudar: Well he was told his son died and with a bullet to the head. He goes to the mortuary and asks for the lid to be lifted and the military refuses. He calls the police. They remove the military. He opens the lid and discovers his son's face is perfect and it's the rest of his body that's damaged -- from a US cluster bomb, he discovers.
Jim Lafferty: From our own weapons. That's right. And Cindy Sheehan, the famous Cindy Sheehan, sort of the mother of the anti-war movement in the country these days, they lied to her about how her son [Casey Sheehan, May 29, 1979 - April 4, 2004] lost his life, didn't they?
Peter Dudar: Yeah. A Humvee mechanic. She was told that he died a very heroic death in battle and volunteered for the mission. Well she discovers later, years later, that he was forced on the mission, that he was killed immediately and dies, you know, there in a MedTent, the first day, his first day in Iraq. Karen Meredith. She discovers that her son [Ken Ballard, July 21, 1977 - May 30, 2004] actually didn't receive a bullet to the head from insurgents, he was killed by a discharge from his own machine gun on his tank.
Jim Lafferty: Ow. And I think you talked with one -- I don't know if this is in the movie yet because I confess almost no one has seen it, including me, you were kind enough to give me some copies tonight so I'm going to see it -- but it was a Marine recruiter, wasn't it? That told you because you got to talking about this whole question for a very long time, not only, let me put it this way, not only don't we know how many civilians the war has killed in Afghanistan and Iraq. I mean there's been some relatively decent figures taken by the Lancet and doctors and scientists abroad while our own country lies about the figures. It's certainly, with sanctions, well over a million people. Maybe it's two million with the sanctions that went on for years? But we even lie about how many of our soldiers we lost because we don't want the country to know the price that our own families are paying. And this Marine recruit said something interesting. Could you remind us of that?
Peter Dudar: Yeah. Actually --
Jim Lafferty: Is that in the film, by the way?
Peter Dudar: It's -- No. That's not in the film. But this kind of keys us into what happened.
Jim Lafferty: Okay.
Peter Dudar: Okay. 18 suicides a day. 6570 suicides by our young men and women every year. Times 7 years of war. How many is that? 45,000 suicides.
Jim Lafferty: That we know of.
Peter Dudar: That only gives us the clue. What this gentleman came up to me and said -- and I had some people stand there -- "I'm a Marine counter. I count the dead
Jim Lafferty: Oh.
Peter Dudar: Here's what we're waiting for in America: From somebody who knows what's going on to finally come forth and say, "Here's actually the number of our dead." He said, "I count the dead for the Marines. Where did you get your number on the site?
Jim Lafferty: For the total.
Peter Dudar: For the total. And it was at that time for Iraq, only 4,400, I think. And he goes, "Well, anyway, there are more Marines dead than that."
Jim Lafferty: Let's be sure we understand that. Here's a guy whose job is to count the deaths for the Marines. He comes up to Peter and the crosses [white crosses placed at Arlington West] were representing at that time 4,400 some dead, that's what we thought, that's what the government was telling us. And he said, "Hell I've got more -- Sadly, I know more Marines that died in this war than that." That doesn't talk about the Army and the rest of them. Alright --
Peter Dudar: But we can -- we can juxtapose that number and say okay that was told to us. Can it be proven now? No. But what we can prove is this 18 a day, 6570 a year
Cindy Sheehan: But then in 2004, I really bought into that lie that-that Ralph Nader was the reason that George Bush became president because, you know, if Ralph Nader wasn't running, then [Al] Gore would have won Florida --
Abby Martin: In 2000.
Cindy Sheehan: In 2000, yeah. In 2004, I bought into that lie, I mean. And I had a lot at stake. I was more awake because my son was killed in March and the elections were in November so I was going around the country speaking out against Bush and people were telling me -- you know, the people I was with, were telling me, you know, especially like Medea Benjamin from CODEPINK, who was one of the early advocates in the Green Party to support [2004 Democratic Party presidential nominee John] Kerry instead of supporting the Green Party candidate, was telling me it was because of Nader that George Bush won. And we were in Florida. And actually, the bottom line about Nader stealing the election from Gore is that Gore actually won Florida. He won Florida by something like 529 votes before it [the recount] was stopped. And so I bought into that lie. Again, I wasn't raging pro-Kerry because I did not like Kerry. But I was raging against George Bush. And so thinking that it might make a difference, even though Kerry said -- And see, this is the same thing with the Obama followers. Even though Kerry said he was going to send more troops to Iraq, I still thought he would be better than Bush. So most of the people in this country, they just affiliate with the party their parents affiliated with and they don't put too much thought into it and that's the way I was before my son was killed. And those are the people that we need to educate and reach out too. But, like before, it's the people who know but still help the people who aren't that aware come to the conclusion that 'you have to vote for a Democrat' are the ones who are the problem. You know, they're the ones that we're not going to change. We have the hope of changing just regular grassroots America. We're not going to change the operatives. They're doing it because they're doing it deliberately.
Abby Martin: And have you talked to any of these people? It seems like you've been in contact with a lot of these people like from MoveOn and like that and have you asked them, "Why are you perpetuating this? I mean, you know that this isn't the solution. It can't be."
Cindy Sheehan: I -- Early on, I had a lot of dialogue with-with people like that. In fact, in August of 2005, MoveOn sent two really high ranking people in their organization, Tom Andrews from Win Without War and Glen Smith -- he's with MoveOn, I don't know in what -- but he's a Texan. And I knew both of them before. So they sent them. And we had a meeting in my trailer and they wanted me to support a bill that was not supportable. It was a -- it was a Democrat - Republican co-sponsored bill about getting out of Iraq eventually. And I was just like, "No, that's not what Camp Casey's about. That's not what the affiliated organizations" -- we called them the skin-in-the-game organizations, Veterans for Peace, IVAW, Gold Star Families for Peace and Military Families Speak Out; I said, "No, we're calling for an immediate end to the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan." And so that's when they basically just said 'Okay, you know, see you later if you won't support this awful bill then we're not going to support you.' And then when the 2,000 soldier was getting ready to be killed in Iraq, we were in Washington, DC calling for civil disobedience and then MoveOn like totally severed ties and said "No, we're doing a candle light vigil." And I said, "Okay, then there's going to be a 3,000th soldier, a 4,000th soldier, a 5,000th soldier if we don't start to get a little more radical with our demonstrations. And you're the one that has the major list. And then in '07 it was the -- No, it was '08. It was the fifth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. United For Peace & Justice refused to call a demo in DC saying they didn't want to embarrass the Democrats.
Abby Martin: Wow.
Cindy Sheehan: Yeah. I mean just boldly said we don't want to embarrass the Democrats.
Abby Martin: Get an f-ing backbone.
Cindy Sheehan: Yeah. Yeah. So I've had so much dialogue with these people. I just finally wrote an article and I said that all the people from MoveOn had blood on their hands. And anybody who supports this empire, supports any part of -- Because that's when MoveOn was saying -- telling their groups that they needed to support the Democrats in supporting the supplemental war funding. And I was just like, "You all have blood on your hands." And it was like, "Oh, you said we have blood on our hands." And you do. You know. So you have two choices. Keep supporting the Democrats or support peace. And you're supporting the Democrats so that means you have blood on your hands.
Blood on the hands if you sit silently as the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars continue. Supposedly we wanted the wars ended NOW! when Bush was occupied the White House. Where did the outrage go? Maybe it deflated when most of the press coverage of the real conditions in Iraq vanished? To address the realities of Iraq, there is an upcoming Iraq Veterans Against the War event:
February 25, 20119:30 - 10:30 am
Busboys & Poets,Langston room
14th & V st NWWashington DC
This report back will be to answer questions from media and the peace movement about the recent trip back to Iraq by members of Iraq Veterans Against the War. The war is not over but it is not the same as it was in years past. What is the humanitarian situation in Iraq?
How can we do reparations and reconciliation work?
Speakers are all returning from this delegation and include:
To make it clear that continued war is unacceptable, in March A.N.S.W.E.R. and March Forward! and others will be taking part in this action:
March 19 is the 8th anniversary of the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Iraq today remains occupied by 50,000 U.S. soldiers and tens of thousands of foreign mercenaries.
The war in Afghanistan is raging. The U.S. is invading and bombing Pakistan. The U.S. is financing endless atrocities against the people of Palestine, relentlessly threatening Iran and bringing Korea to the brink of a new war.
While the United States will spend $1 trillion for war, occupation and weapons in 2011, 30 million people in the United States remain unemployed or severely underemployed, and cuts in education, housing and healthcare are imposing a huge toll on the people.
Actions of civil resistance are spreading.
On Dec. 16, 2010, a veterans-led civil resistance at the White House played an important role in bringing the anti-war movement from protest to resistance. Enduring hours of heavy snow, 131 veterans and other anti-war activists lined the White House fence and were arrested. Some of those arrested will be going to trial, which will be scheduled soon in Washington, D.C.
Saturday, March 19, 2011, the anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, will be an international day of action against the war machine.
Protest and resistance actions will take place in cities and towns across the United States. Scores of organizations are coming together. Demonstrations are scheduled for San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and more.
TV notes. Washington Week begins airing on many PBS stations tonight (and throughout the weekend, check local listings) and joining Gwen are Dan Balz (Los Angeles Times), Helene Cooper (New York Times), Yochi Dreazen (National Journal) and John Harwood (New York Times). Gwen's latest column is "Sending Signals." Meanwhile Bonnie Erbe will sit down with Gretchen Hamel, Avis Jones-DeWeever, Kim Gandy and Star Parker to discuss the week's events on PBS' To The Contrary. Check local listings, on many stations, it begins airing tonight. Sunday on CBS' 60 Minutes:
To Be Determined Our lead story is yet to be determined.
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