Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Everything comes to a standstill?

Last Thursday, as bombs swept Iraq, the Iraqi Parliament voted on the 2012 budget and to spend at least $50 million on the purchase of 350 armored vehicles for themselves. It was controversial last Thursday and remains so. AFP reports the plan was for "one armored car per MP and an additional 25 vehicles to be dispersed at the discretion of parliament's speaker." Al Sabaah adds that Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi issued a memo noting that the vehicles would belong to the Parliament and not be the MPs personal cars to keep when the current legislature completes its session. As Sheikh (Dar Addustour) weighs in with a column on public opinion and appearance, how Iraqis are seeing that Parliament will take steps -- and spend money -- to protect themselves. Al Mada notes that supposedly the vehicles being purchased are basically good for two years and then require repurchasing and that the issue will be dealt with . . . after the Arab Summit.

In related news, Alsumaria TV reports that Baghdad has made Najaf postpone a celebration and made them put it into writing that they were postponing a celebration until . . . after the Arab Summit.

Unless it gets postponed, the Arab Summit is scheduled for March 29th. And apparently, everything has to be put on hold until then.

Can Nouri function as any kind of a leader? The country has to come to a standstill on celebrations, on legislation, on everything because at the end of the month they're having the Arab Summit.

The following community sites updated last night and this morning:

We'll close with this from the Center for Constitutional Rights:

February 28, 2012, New York – Leaks published today from Stratfor, a private intelligence corporation, indicate the United States Department of Justice has issued a secret, sealed indictment against Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks. In response, the Center for Constitutional Rights issued the following statement:
A sealed indictment against Julian Assange would underscore the very thing Wikileaks has been fighting against: abuses the government commits in an environment of secrecy and expansive, reflexive calls for "national security." From the shocking, inhumane treatment of Bradley Manning, to secret grand jury proceedings, to Stratfor's apparent knowledge of the existence of a sealed indictment before either Mr. Assange or the American public had such knowledge, the government's conduct in this case reveals why more transparency, not more secrecy, is essential. This would also mark perhaps the first time a journalist has been prosecuted for allegedly receiving and publishing “classified” documents. Indicting Julian Assange would represent a dramatic assault on the First Amendment, journalists, and the public's right to know.
Rather than promoting transparency as promised, the Obama administration has aggressively pursued whistleblowers and dissenters, launching Espionage Act prosecutions twice as many times as all previous administrations in the last century combined. Attorney General Eric Holder should rethink this dangerous course. Instead of pursuing Julian Assange, Mr. Holder should investigate the serious crimes and abuse of government authority exposed by Wikileaks.
The Center for Constitutional Rights legally represents Wikileaks and Mr. Assange in the Bradley Manning hearings.
Read the WikiLeaks statement here:

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