Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The League of the Righteous

Al Rafidayn notes that police chief Msderfi Anfjarabbop was killed in Kirkuk today and one of his bodyguards and a police officer were injured in a bombing. In related news, Alsumaria TV reports Nouri's Minister of State for national reconciliation has declared that they are working with the League of the Righteous on reconciliation. He is quoted stating, "Negotiations with Baathists outside the country is possible with those who are not involved in Iraqi killings. The engagement of Baathists in the national reconciliation project is done through coordination with the Justice and Accountability Commission which has set forth new demands." The term for that is "misdirection."

Ba'athists are Sunni. The League of the Righteous is a Shi'ite body. He's equating the two and some may agree with that but not many in the US would.

Peter Moore and four other British citizens were kidnapped by the League of Righteous. Of the other four, three corpses were turned over: Jason Crewswell, Jason Swindelhurst and Alec Maclachlan. The whereabouts and status of Alan McMenemy remain unknown. The British government has stated their belief that he is dead. The kidnapping was mentioned in the State Dept's "2009 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices:"

Five British men (a computer expert and four bodyguards) were kidnapped in 2007. Peter Moore, the computer expert, was released unharmed on December 30, while the bodies of three of the four bodyguards were returned on June 19 and September 3 to the United Kingdom. The whereabouts of the fifth man remained unknown at year's end. Fifteen Americans, four South Africans, four Russian diplomats, and one Japanese citizen who were abducted since 2003 remained missing. There was no further information on the 2007 kidnapping of the Ministry of Science and Technology acting undersecretary, Samir Salim al-Attar.

For more on the League, we'll drop back to the June 9th snapshot:

This morning the New York Times' Alissa J. Rubin and Michael Gordon offered "U.S. Frees Suspect in Killing of 5 G.I.'s." Martin Chulov (Guardian) covered the same story, Kim Gamel (AP) reported on it, BBC offered "Kidnap hope after Shia's handover" and Deborah Haynes contributed "Hope for British hostages in Iraq after release of Shia militant" (Times of London). The basics of the story are this. 5 British citizens have been hostages since May 29, 2007. The US military had in their custody Laith al-Khazali. He is a member of Asa'ib al-Haq. He is also accused of murdering five US troops. The US military released him and allegedly did so because his organization was not going to release any of the five British hostages until he was released. This is a big story and the US military is attempting to state this is just diplomacy, has nothing to do with the British hostages and, besides, they just released him to Iraq. Sami al-askari told the New York Times, "This is a very sensitive topic because you know the position that the Iraqi government, the U.S. and British governments, and all the governments do not accept the idea of exchanging hostages for prisoners. So we put it in another format, and we told them that if they want to participate in the political process they cannot do so while they are holding hostages. And we mentioned to the American side that they cannot join the political process and release their hostages while their leaders are behind bars or imprisoned." In other words, a prisoner was traded for hostages and they attempted to not only make the trade but to lie to people about it. At the US State Dept, the tired and bored reporters were unable to even broach the subject. Poor declawed tabbies. Pentagon reporters did press the issue and got the standard line from the department's spokesperson, Bryan Whitman, that the US handed the prisoner to Iraq, the US didn't hand him over to any organization -- terrorist or otherwise. What Iraq did, Whitman wanted the press to know, was what Iraq did. A complete lie that really insults the intelligence of the American people. CNN reminds the five US soldiers killed "were: Capt. Brian S. Freeman, 31, of Temecula, California; 1st Lt. Jacob N. Fritz, 25, of Verdon, Nebraska; Spc. Johnathan B. Chism, 22, of Gonzales, Louisiana; Pfc. Shawn P. Falter, 25, of Cortland, New York; and Pfc. Johnathon M. Millican, 20, of Trafford, Alabama." Those are the five from January 2007 that al-Khazali and his brother Qais al-Khazali are supposed to be responsible for the deaths of. Qassim Abdul-Zahra and Robert H. Reid (AP) states that Jonathan B. Chism's father Danny Chism is outraged over the release and has declared, "They freed them? The American military did? Somebody needs to answer for it."

We'll note the following from the International Red Cross' press release on Iraqi women:

A great many women in Iraq are facing challenges in the task of caring for their families, earning income and taking part in community and professional life. Since widespread violence erupted in 2003, they have been increasingly caught in the crossfire, killed, wounded or driven from their homes. As their menfolk have been killed or taken away in large numbers, the entire burden of running the household has been suddenly thrust upon them.
"Regardless of the circumstance of loss, the mere fact that there is no traditional breadwinner directly affects the family's financial situation," said Caroline Douilliez, head of the ICRC's Women and War programme in Iraq. "The ICRC's observations across Iraq have led us to the distressing conclusion that the lack of regular and sufficient income over the years has cast a huge number of families into severe poverty."
According to ICRC estimates, between one and two million households in Iraq today are headed by women. This figure includes women whose husbands are either dead, missing (some since as far back as 1980) or detained. Divorced women are also taken into account. All these women were wives at one time, and today remain mothers to their children and daughters to their parents, and sometimes ultimately breadwinners and caregivers for all these people. Without a male relative, they lack economic, physical and social protection and support. Often they struggle with harrowing memories of the circumstance of death or disappearance of their husband. Displaced women face the added challenge of coping with the loss of a home that they had to leave because of threats to their safety, or for lack of income.
"With no job opportunities, with no help from relatives themselves too poor to provide it, and with no assistance from the State social-security system, these women's daily struggle revolves around putting food on the table and paying for shelter, schooling and medical care," said Ms Douilliez. "Sometimes their only option is to take their young boys out of school and send them out to earn a few dinars for the family. As a result, future generations pay the price of today's difficult times. Without a proper education, today's youth will not be equipped to face their own challenges once they have families of their own."
In response to this emergency, the ICRC has launched programmes aimed specifically to assist women heading households alone. Since 2008, the organization has focused on finding ways to help women attain self-sufficiency.

Ruth's "Ruth's Sleaze Report" went up this morning (thank you, Ruth) and Mike posted "The Medical Update" early this morning. And we'll close with this from NOW:

Leaders of Women's Organizations Sign Letter to President Obama
Calling for Meeting on Budget, Ask that Women be Included in Deficit Talks

May 24, 2011

The Older Women's Economic Security Task Force (OWES), part of the National Coalition of Women's Organizations (NCWO), in a letter today to President Barack Obama, called for the concerns of women to be considered in budget talks to reduce the deficit. The task force asked that members of the administration with expertise on women's issues be added to the White House's advisory team discussing strategies to reduce deficit spending.

"It is simply not enough to send a few privileged men to the table to 'solve' the nation's budget problem," states the letter from the OWES Task Force. "We welcome the opportunity to bring our voices and expertise to a discussion with you and your advisors, and we request that members of your administration with expertise on women's issues, such as Secretary Hilda Solis and Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, be added to the White House's advisory team working on these negotiations."

Signers to the letter include leaders from the National Organization for Women (NOW), the Black Women's Health Imperative, the Business and Professional Women's Foundation, Dialogue on Diversity, the Older Women's League, U.S. Women's Chamber of Commerce, Women's Committee of 100, Women's Institute for a Secure Retirement, the Women's Research and Education Institute, and the YWCA USA.

"Under the guise of reducing the deficit, conservatives in Congress have set their sights on cutting programs that disproportionately employ and serve women," said NOW President Terry O'Neill. "Who will stand up for the millions of women who rely on these programs? Leaving it to the men is not the answer. Women must play a critical role in these negotiations."

Today, congressional leaders are gathering to meet with Vice President Joe Biden and his economic advisors at the historic Blair House to address the deficit. The talks come at a time when cuts to programs that are vital to women and their families--including Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security--are being considered within far-reaching budget plans.

The old boys club meeting has consisted of Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), U.S. Senators John Kyl (R-Ariz.), Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), Max Baucus (D-Mont.), Reps. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.), and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), who have convened for the budget negotiations with Vice President Biden, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, Budget Director Jack Lew and economic adviser Gene Sperling.

Social Security is a lifeline to many older women, keeping them out of poverty. According to a report from the Institute for Women's Policy Research (IWPR), in 2009, Social Security helped more than 14 million Americans aged 65 and older stay above the poverty line. Without access to Social Security, 58 percent of women and 48 percent of men above the age of 75 would be living below the poverty line.

Women are now faced with an added economic challenge because they are not getting their fair share of jobs in the recovery. Even though the recession was dubbed a "mancession," jobs are now being gained at a faster rate for men than for women. While men have recovered 24 percent of the jobs they lost during the recession, women have recovered only 14 percent of the jobs they lost. Single mothers and women of color are particularly at risk; their unemployment rates remain in the double digits.

The gender wage gap is an ongoing economic hurdle for women, who have lower median earnings than men in 107 out of 111 occupations, regardless of levels of education, according to research from IWPR.

The National Council of Women's Organizations is composed of more than 200 women's organizations representing more than 12 million U.S. women. The Older Women's Economic Security Task Force was formed in 1998 to study, monitor, and act to enhance older women's economic security. This task force represents economists and activists, service providers and community organizers, legal, political, and social networks who have vital expertise and national recognition as problem solvers and protectors of the rights and responsibilities of our nation's women and children. NOW is a co-chair of the OWES Task Force.

Read full letter to President Obama


For Immediate Release
Contact: Latoya Veal w. 202-628-8669, ext. 116, c. 601-466-4217

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