Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Nouri is a trusted source?

UPI headlines their report "Maliki reportedly says he wants U.S. out" and it's good for the press to be skeptical -- journalists are supposed to practice a healthy skepticism. However, for UPI, the issue is that Press TV reported it and that's why they're skeptical.


Nouri's a trusted source?

Even while Radio Netherlands is noting: "The outgoing UN Special Representative for Iraq, Dutchman Ad Melkert, has taken the unusual step of openly contradicting the Iraqi government. Mr Melkert has publicly aired his disagreement with statements made by Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki about the position of Iranian refugees in Iraq’s Ashraf refugee camp."

For more on the UN's public rebuke when Nouri insisted upon lying publicly, see Monday's snapshot. And remember Lara Jakes (AP) reported Melkert "bluntly disputed" the version of events Nouri was insisting took place in their final meeting (the UN Secretary-General has a new special envoy to Iraq) . Jakes notes, "The public disavowal was rare for the U.N. office in Baghdad, which goes to great lengths to avoid engaging in political disputed."

And Nouri is treated as a trusted source?

And on this topic?

The same Nouri who was publicly rebuked by the Iraqi Parliament at the end of 2006 for extending the mandate for US troops to remain on Iraqi soil without consulting or informing the Parliament? The same Nouri who was again publicly rebuked by the Iraqi Parliament at the end of 2007 when he yet again extended the mandate for US troops to remain on Iraqi soil without the consent of Parliament?

This is a subject he can be trusted on? Based on his record?

Meanwhile WJXT reports that 240 members of the Florida National Guard are deploying to Iraq.

The Pakistan Observer reports, "The deployment of Filipino workers to Iraq and Afghanistan will stay but will exclude those employed in the US military bases in those countries, Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. said. The Aquino administration reached the decision after Washington’s Central Command ordered all contractors last year not to hire third-country nationals whose domestic laws prohibited their citizens from traveling and working in Iraq and Afghanistan, Foreign Affairs spokesman Raul Hernandez said. That ruling would allow some 7,000 Filipino workers in Iraq and Afghanistan to keep their jobs, he said." What's going on? Along with record unemployment among Iraqis in Iraq, several things. From last Wednesday's snapshot:

Today NTD Television reports (link has text and video) that the Iraqi government has decided to begin "deporting foreign workers. With the official unemployment rate at 15 percent and another 28 percent in part-time jobs, their aim is to create more job opportunities for Iraqis as their country rebuilds after years of war." The Ministry of Labor and Social Affair's legal counsultant Hossni Ahmed is quoted stating, "Unemployment rate is very high. Priority should be given to the national laborer. Therefore, we agreed to act on laws and the most important one is the residential law No. 118 of 1968." Though the government made the decision, some Iraqis object. Salam Ahmed is a restaurateur and he states, "I do not support the deportation decision because they work from early morning until 10:00 p.m. They do not complain and they do not say we are hungry and they have no more demands. The salary of a foreign worker is less than the salary of an Iraqi worker." The report notes, "Officials say the government is only issuing work permits to workers at foreign firms that hire at least 50 percent Iraqis for their work force."
Last Tuesday, the International Organization for Migration held a press briefing to announce (link is in Spanish*, FYI) that they were not only providing humanitarian assistance to 35 Ukranian and Bulgarian workers in Iraq but were calling for private companies to follow the rules with regards to national immigration, labor laws and human rights. Why? Because they did several inspections of construction sites and found migrants living there, overcrowded, no light and no ventilation. The 35 workers are part of 271 foreign workers brought into the country at the end of 2010 to work on construction within the Green Zone and hired with the promise of excellent pay but, after working hours and hours for many months, they've only been paid a few hundred dollars a piece. They can't appeal to the subcontractor who hired them. He's skipped out. (After getting his fee from the person subcontracting to him.) He never provided the employees with the work permits he promised and so these people are now undocumented workers, more or less trapped within Iraq, attempting to secure alternate employment. Some are agreeing to take $1,000 and leave the country. (The 35 are continuing to work and do construction.) Remember, this is after months of work with no pay, months of back breaking hours doing construction work. And the $1,000 wouldn't all go to them. Not only would they need to pay for their trip home, they are also being informed that they have to pay various fines due to the fact that they do not have the proper visas (the ones the employer who skipped out was supposed to provide). Meaning that even after the $1,000 is paid, they could immediately be broke due to fines the Iraqi government is attempting to levy against them. IOM's Livia Styp-Rekowska stated that the workers should immediately receive wages for the work they have done, that employers should not threaten to leave the country without paying the workers and that the workers should be assisted with returning home in a safe and dignified manner. That's the press conference. I'm adding that since this is an ongoing problem, one way to deal with it would be for subcontractors bringing foreign workers into the country to have to put up a bond which they would lose if they (a) skipped the country or (b) refused to pay the workers they brought into the country.

People are making a lot of money off of foreign workers but foreign workers rarely see the money, a point driven home by yesterday's Times of India: "JALANDHAR: The local police have booked a travel agent for duping two youths by sending them to Iraq and then leaving them in a lurch. Duped youths Prem Pal and Ripan Kumar of Khojpur village, who returned from Iraq on Saturday, have accused one Tarsem Badhan of cheating them." Today the Times of India reports:

CHANDIGARH: The Union government on Tuesday informed Punjab and Haryana high court that 26 workers, who were sent to Iraq by unscrupulous agents and forced to clear the remnants from the Gulf war there, were brought to Baghdad and the Indian embassy has taken charge of them by arranging for their food and accommodation. The information was provided by joint secretary (consular) P M Meena before the bench of Justice M M Kumar and Justice Gurdev Singh in response to a petition filed on the issue.
The Punjab police also informed that eight criminal cases have been registered so far against travel agents "in relation to nine youths."

Sanjeev Verma (Hindustan Times) reports India's Embassy in Baghdad is working on "return tickets and exit visas" for the 33 youth who would otherwise be stranded and that they're also providing lodging and food for 26 of those 33.

A number of people are e-mailing about something that happened at a book signing. We're not noting it. We're not interested. Sorry. ____ has a book to sell. It is not my job to promote his book. The person protesting had good intentions but I'm not going to make ____'s book "controversial" and "talked about" so that it sells. We don't do that here. Last week in "Mars Attacks Iraq," I wrote, "Myself, I suggest we dispatch Barbarella to combat the Martians -- provided Jane Fonda has time during the West Coast promotion of her new book out, Prime Time."
Jane Fonda is not a War Hawk and her latest book is well worth reading. I'm happy to note it. But I'm not going to help sell the books by War Hawks. These books get huge advances and then 'controversy' is supposed to sell them. I'm not part of the War Hawk publicity firm. They'll sell their crappy books without the titles or the names of the 'author' ever being noted here.

IVAW's Jose Vasquez notes:

October 7th, 2011 will mark 10 years since the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan and the start of the Global War on Terror. To commemorate this sad anniversary, we are calling for a month of local and national activities from September 7th to October 7th. During this time, we hope to promote relationship-building among people and communities affected by U.S. militarism and the U.S. war economy, both in the U.S. and Afghanistan, reflect on how our world has changed in the past 10 years, and share our "war stories" from the last decade.

We have spent the last 10 years marching in the streets and participating in many forms of nonviolent action to end the wars, put a stop to the growing militarization of U.S. communities and borders, and redirect our country’s resources to meeting human needs here at home. Despite of these efforts, we’re still entangled in two (or more) wars; at least 200,000 civilians have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, over 6,000 U.S. troops have died in combat, and thousands more have taken their own lives; Muslim individuals and communities as well as immigrants to the U.S. are under ever-increasing surveillance by a racist and Islamophobic "Homeland Security" system; unemployment numbers keep rising and funding for education, social security, and healthcare are all being gutted while Congress continues to increase military spending.

In Washington D.C. on October 7th, we will be marking this commemoration of the Global War on Terror with a unique forum, War Voices, which will bring together people directly impacted by U.S. militarism and the U.S. war economy with ally groups, as well as writers, musicians, and artists. Through story-telling, workshops, discussions, and cultural performances, we will build our power as a movement by meeting one another, building relationships that will inspire us for the long haul, envisioning new directions for the future, and planting the seeds for structures of mutual support and solidarity that will allow us to create a demilitarized world. We will be providing a live webcast of the forum in D.C. for those who are unable to join us for the event. At the forum, we also hope to premiere new digital media featuring Afghan organizations talking about their work.

On September 7th, we will be launching a new popular education-inspired curriculum on the U.S. war economy, as well as a section on the current on-the-ground reality in Afghanistan and Afghan-led organizing efforts for a more just society. These materials will be posted to our website on September 7th, but if you are interested in hearing more about the curriculum or using it to build with economic justice groups in your local area, we welcome you to contact us at:

We’re calling on our members and supporters to help us promote these events nationwide and organize a workshop or forum in your own community on or before October 7th. We will be posting resources on how to adapt these tools and projects to meet your local needs.

For general questions about the month of local and national activities against 10 years of war and occupation, contact: Please help us to spread the word!

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