Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The gold rush and Saddam's ass

Let's start with the most ridiculous news out of Iraq. Al Mada reports that Baghdad is demanding the bronzed butt of Saddam Hussein. What has them singing Michael Jackson's "Bad" ("Your butt is mine . . ..")? Probably the (minor) worth of bronze. The butt is from the statue of Saddam Hussein that was in Baghdad and, as part of a US Psyops operation, was brought down by US forces. BBC News reports former British soldier Nigel Ely admits o taking it and currently has it. He suffers from some delusion that he deserves to keep it. The BBC doesn't mention this but someone should, the UK military has rules against what Ely did. He should give up his 'hopes' of a 50-50 split with the Iraqi government and return the metal to Iraq whose embassy has requested its return.

As they argue over butts, the political crisis continues in Iraq. Al Mada reports that Iraqiya has been meeting with the National Alliance and the Sadr bloc (the Sadr bloc is part of the National Alliance) and that they are supposedly close to ending their boycott of Parliament. They are reportedly asking that the issue of Saleh al-Mutlaq be addressed. He is the Deputy Prime Minister that Nouri wants stripped of his post.

Tomorrow, Dar Addustour notes, Parliament is set to vote on seven bills. Those may not be final votes. (The Parliament engages in a series of readings and votes on bills.) Meanwhile Al Rafidayn quotes an unnamed source with Parliament's Integrity Commission saying that the Under Secretariat of Baghdad and the Contracts Manager will be arrested and charged with financial and administrative corruption based upon investigations the commission has carried out.

Yesterday, Nouri al-Maliki and his incomplete Cabinet 'created' a power for themselves. KUNA reports, "The Iraqi government has decided to prevent Iraqiya List's cabinet ministers, who boycotted cabinet meetings, from doing their job at their ministries." That's a much better way of reporting it than did the wire services. Nouri al-Maliki has a second term as prime minister despite his State of Law coming in second in the March 2010 elections. He only has a second term because the US government strong-armed the KRG and others to back Nouri. The US promised that, in exchange for Nouri remaining prime minister, the other parties would receive certain things. These were outlined in the November 2010 Erbil Agreement (an agreement some parties have threatened to publish). The Erbil Agreement ended 8 months-plus of Political Stalemate I which followed the elections. Though Nouri gladly abided by the prime minister aspect, once he got his post, he trashed the agreement. AFP reports Iraqiya leader Ayad Allawi has declared the Erbil Agreement must be respected. The leader of the political slate that came in first in the March 2010 elections stated today that if Nouri can't honor the agreement, he must go: "If Maliki was not prepared to abide by the deal, then either his National Alliance should name a replacement premier who was prepared to or a caretaker administration should be installed to organize fresh elections, Allawi said."

Since last month, President Jalal Talabani and Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi have been calling for a national conference to resolve the political issues. Iraqia TV reports Kurish Alliance MP Mahmoud Othman is stating that there will be a meet-up Sunday to make final arrangements for the national conference.

I was lying in a burned out basement
With the full moon in my eyes.
I was hoping for replacement
When the sun burst thru the sky.
There was a band playing in my head
And I felt like getting high.
I was thinking about what a
Friend had said
I was hoping it was a lie.
Thinking about what a
Friend had said
I was hoping it was a lie.
-- "After the Gold Rush," written by Neil Young, first appears on Young's After the Gold Rush (and click here for Linda Ronstadt, Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris singing it)

At Oil Price ("The No. 1 Source for Oil & Energy News), Mad Hedge Fund Trader insists, "There is a Gold Rush Underway in Iraq, with major implications for the rest of us. The success of the recent oil auctions in Iraq is creating a windfall for American oil services companies."

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 "The Modern Immigrant Rights Movement:"

Editor's Note: This is the third and final installment of a three-part series on migrant rights by journalist and immigration activist David Bacon. This article is taken from the report "Displaced, Unequal and Criminalized - Fighting for the Rights of Migrants in the United States" that examines the origins of the current migratory labor phenomenon, the mechanisms that maintain it, and proposals for a more equitable system. The Americas Program is proud to publish this series in collaboration with the author.

Development of the Immigrant Rights Movement to 1986

Before the cold war, the defense of the rights of immigrants in the U.S., especially those from Mexico, Central America and Asia was mounted mostly by immigrant working class communities, and the alliances they built with the left wing of the U.S. labor movement. At the time when the left came under attack and was partly destroyed in the cold war, immigrant rights leaders were also targeted for deportation. Meanwhile, U.S. immigration policy became more overtly a labor supply scheme than at any other time in its history.

In the 1950s, at the height of the cold war, the combination of enforcement and contract labor reached a peak. In 1954 1,075,168 Mexicans were deported from the U.S. And from 1956 to 1959, between 432,491 and 445,197 Mexicans were brought into the U.S. each year on temporary work visas, in what was known as the "bracero" program. The program, begun during World War Two, in 1942, was finally abolished in 1964.
The civil rights movement ended the bracero program, and created an alternative to the deportation regime. Chicano activists of the 1960s - Ernesto Galarza, Cesar Chávez, Bert Corona, Dolores Huerta and others - convinced Congress in 1964 to repeal Public Law 78, the law authorizing the bracero program. Farm workers went on strike the year after in Delano, California, and the United Farm Workers was born. They also helped to convince Congress in 1965 to pass immigration legislation that established new pathways for legal immigration - the family preference system. People could reunite their families in the U.S. Migrants received permanent residency visas, allowing them to live normal lives, and enjoy basic human and labor rights. Essentially, a family- and community-oriented system replaced the old labor supply/deportation program.

Then, under pressure from employers in the late 1970s, Congress began to debate the bills that eventually resulted in the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act. That debate set in place the basic dividing line in the modern immigrant rights movement. IRCA contained three elements. It reinstituted a bracero-like guest worker program, by setting up the H2-A visa category. It penalized employers who hired undocumented workers ("employer sanctions"), and required them to check the immigration status of every worker. And it set up an amnesty process for undocumented workers in the country before 1982.

The e-mail address for this site is