Monday, April 25, 2011

Corruption and warnings from Tehran

New Sabah reports that the Iraqi Office of Financial Supervision has informed the US that they retain the right to file for compensation over "mismanagement" of Iraqi money by the Coalition Provisional Authority which ran things immediately after the start of the Iraq War. Questions remain on the Iraqi side about at least seven billion dollars.

In other corruption news, Al Rafidayn reports that the Integrity Commission has announced that the ex-governor of Nineveh Province has received a sentence of two years in prison for embezzlement and corruption explaining that in January 0f 2007, he created a number of ficitional people who received monthly work payments for six months. Meanwhile Dar Addustour adds that the Integrity Commission also announced that they were investigating alleged corruption in muncipalities with some focus on the ration system cards and how they are administered locally.

A cry for an end to corruption has fueled months of protests in Iraq. CPT's Michele Naar-Obed (Ekklesia) reports:

A new song was playing on Iraqi Kurdistan radio just before Easter, which included the lines, "Don't kill this generation" and "don't kill the future." While the song played, guns were blasting and tear gas filled the streets in both Suleimaniya and the KRG capital city, Hawler (Erbil).
Day sixty-one of Suleimaniya's daily demonstrations against corruption in Iraqi Kurdistan started earlyon 18 April 2011. The Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) group arrived at 11:00. Music was playing from the stage and small groups of people were gathering. Two CPTers decided to use the quiet time to grab a cup of coffee and juice in a cafe next to the square. A few of the demonstration organizers were doing the same.
Meanwhile armed soldiers, the anti-terrorism unit, and police were positioning themselves around the square., with guns, tear gas, water cannons, and riot gear.
When the two CPTers and organizers left the cafe, a group of about twenty young men were talking about confronting the soldiers and police. Some were talking about throwing rocks. Others told us them that soldiers would throw the first round of rocks to provoke a fight. Still others told them that the government pays some of these young men to throw the first stones in order to provoke an escalation of violence. The organizers and CPTers gave an impromptu workshop on nonviolence. Some of the young men decided to stay in the square. Others were ready to confront the soldiers. One young man said he needed the money.

In other news, Press TV reports, "Security sources say a United States military base in eastern Iraq has come under a second rocket attack in less than a week. Three Katyusha rockets hit the Echo Army base near the city of Diwaniyah late on Saturday, Fars News Agency reported on Sunday. The projectiles are reported to have been fired from the southern parts of the city. American helicopters were dispatched on a search mission soon after the incident. No human or material losses have been reported so far." FARS News Agency adds, "A police source in Diwaniyah said that a column of smoke was seen from the base after the attack and US choppers started searching for the elements behind the attack soon afterwards. In August 2010, the United States declared an end to its combat mandate in Iraq but left 50,000 of American troops in the country for what it called 'advising and training' purposes." Still on the Iranian press, the Tehran Times reports:

Grand Ayatollah Seyyed Kazim Husseini al-Haeri has issued a religious ruling forbidding the extension of the U.S. military presence in Iraq beyond December 2011.
Grand Ayatollah Haeri is one of the most prominent Shia clerics in the world and is a marja taqlid, which is a high-ranking Shia cleric who is regarded as a source of emulation.
Grand Ayatollah Haeri issued a fatwa in Qom on Sunday in which he expressly prohibited the unlawful extension of the presence of occupation forces in Iraq after the end of 2011, the Fars news agency reported.

Also on withdrawal, Iran's ISNA adds:

Iranian ambassador to Iraq Hassan Danaei-Far said on Monday no Iraqi team was sent to Iran for talks on extending timetable of US troops' presence in Iran.
"No Iraqi delegation was dispatched to Iran by Prime Minister Nouri-al-Maliki for dialogues on extending the timetable of the US forces in Iraq," Danaei-Far told ISNA.
"Iran has taken an entirely clear stance on the issue, we believe that foreign forces should leave Iraq and we believe that no foreign threat has been posed against Iraq. Iraqi policemen and army are able to run their own country."

Today on Law and Disorder Radio (begins broadcasting at 9:00 am EST on WBAI and around the country throughout the week), Michael Ratner, Heidi Boghosian and Michael S. Smith speak with attorney Alexis Agathocleous about fedearl prisons and law professor William K. Black about the culprits getting away with the financial meltdown.

David Bacon's latest book is Illegal People -- How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants (Beacon Press) which won the CLR James Award.
We'll close with this from Bacon's "JUSTICE, EQUALITY AND A DECENT LIFE
After 150 Years, Bay Area Working Families Fight for the Same Goals
" (Truth Out):

In the hundred and fifty year history of workers in the San Francisco Bay Area, the watershed event was one that happened 75 years ago - the San Francisco general strike. That year sailors, longshoremen and other maritime workers shut down all the ports on the west coast, trying to form a union and end favoritism, low wages, and grueling 10- and 12-hour days. Shipowners deployed tanks and guns on the waterfront, and tried to break the strike.
At the peak of this bitter labor war, police fired into crowds of strikers, killing two union activists. Then workers shut down the entire city in a general strike, and for four days nothing moved in San Francisco. The strike gave workers a sense of power described in a verse in the union song Solidarity Forever: "Without our brain and muscle, not a single wheel can turn."
The strike marked the end of a period in which, for seventy years, the efforts of workers to form unions were met with violence and firings. By the end of the 1930s, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union was one of the strongest in the nation, workers had a hiring hall instead of a humiliating shapeup in which they had to beg for jobs, and workers on both sides of the bay were busy building other unions, as well as political organizations that eventually elected mayors and sent pro-worker candidates to Congress. The strike marked the beginning of our modern labor movement.
One product of the rising power of unions was the development of the workers compensation system to ensure that injured and sick workers would receive enough compensation from employers to survive.
While California had passed its first workers' compensation law, the Compensation Act, in 1911, participation by employers was at first voluntary, and only became compulsory two years later. Establishment of the system was both a reaction to the high level of workplace injuries at the turn of the century, and a product of the Progressive movement that sought to limit the power of large corporations. The state established its own compensation fund in 1914, to offer a system with costs lowered by removing insurance corporations and their profits. At the height of the Depression, 18 private insurance corporations went bankrupt, while the state fund continued to pay injured workers.
The 1930s and 40s was a high point in the power of industrial and manual laborers. By that time, trucks had replaced the horse-drawn wagons that employed the area's first Teamsters. Assembly workers labored in huge factories churning out automobiles and electrical equipment, construction workers built the bridges that span the bay, and thousands of sailors and other marine workers sailed out on ships that packed the wharves.

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