Thursday, June 21, 2012. Chaos and violence continue, Jalal supposedly swearing he'll resign (and Iraqis yawn in response), the political crisis continues, an Iraqi is detained by French police, another Iraqi is refused by the European Union, in the US the Congress hears about Guard and Reserve members being fired from their civilian jobs, non-feminist Anne-Marie Slaughter takes a break from declaring war on foreign countries to declare war on feminism, and much more.
Alsumaria reports that KRG President Massoud Barzani states Nouri al-Maliki -- prime minister of Iraq and chief thug of the operation -- is sewing sedition in several ways and that his supporters are pushing a false rumor: That a Barzani, in exchange for Nouri's consent on an oil deal [the ExxonMobil deal], Barzani will bury his complaints and grievances over Nouri's pattern of rule. Barzani calls the rumor a lie.
Many feel Nouri's charges against Iraqi Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi are a lie as well. To review, let's fall back to drop back to the April 30th snapshot:
The political crisis was already well in effect when December 2011 rolled around. The press rarely gets that fact correct. When December 2011 rolls around you see Iraqiya announce a boycott of the council and the Parliament, that's in the December 16th snapshot and again in a December 17th entry . Tareq al-Hashemi is a member of Iraqiya but he's not in the news at that point. Later, we'll learn that Nouri -- just returned from DC where he met with Barack Obama -- has ordered tanks to surround the homes of high ranking members of Iraqiya. December 18th is when al-Hashemi and Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq are pulled from a Baghdad flight to the KRG but then allowed to reboard the plane. December 19th is when the arrest warrant is issued for Tareq al-Hashemi by Nouri al-Maliki who claims the vice president is a 'terrorist.' .
And al-Hashemi has been in Turkey while a Baghdad court, controlled by Nouri, pretends to be offering an impartial trial. This despite the Baghdad judges declared him guilty in February at their press conference and while one judge was stating that he had been threatened by al-Hashemi, before the trial even started, they declared al-Hashemi guilty. That press conference demonstrated that al-Hashemi was correct, he would not get a fiar trial in the Baghdad courts (he had asked that the trial be moved to the KRG or to Kirkuk). In May, the trial began. His attorneys have walked out at least once in protest of the judges' behavior. The judges have also refused to allow Vice President al-Hashemi to call President Jalal Talabani to the stand as a character witness.
Tareq al-Hashemi remains Vice President. That should mean the trial shouldn't even be taking place. His term would need to have expired or he would need to resign or he would need to be voted out of office to stand trial. As Vice President of Iraq, Tareq al-Hashemi is now in Saudi Arabi where, Alsumaria reports, he is conveying condolences over Prince Nayef bin Abdul Aziz's death. That's a trip that Nouri couldn't make successfully. Tariq al-Hashemi is Sunni Arab. Nouri's not and Nouri's constant verbal attacks on Saudi Arabia -- as well as Saudi Arabia's snub of his Arab League Summit in March -- go to the fact that they don't trust him. For good reason. Last Friday, Alsumaria reported he was publicly accusing Saudi Arabi and Qatar of trying to destroy Iraq and Syria. President Jalal Talabani probably could have handled the trip and the diplomacy aspect but he's fled Iraq for Germany.
Commenting on al-Hashemi's trial, Press TV gloms on Alia Nsayef of White Iraqiya -- a splinter group that broke off from the larger Iraqiya and has carried water for Nouri repeatedly since doing so. Nsayef insists to Press TV that the trial is fair. We'll be kind and assume the next section contains an editing error which leads to confusion and appears to indicate Iraqiya's Hamed al-Mutlaq was vouching for the court. He was doing no such thing. Mohamad Ali Harissi (AFP) quotes al-Mutlaq stating, "All evidence during the past months indicate that the judiciary was not successful in many things, and the effect on it of politicisation is clear. We need a separation of powers and to define responsibilities and stop the interference in the work of the judiciary, which is not up to the standard of the Iraqis, though Iraqis were one of the first people to adopt laws."
A large number of Iraqis took to Baghdad's Firdous Square this week to protest Nouri. Dar Addustour (check out the photo of the turnout, this was a huge turnout) reports Moqtada al-Sadr supporters showed up demanding that the media be free, that people speak freely and that no one muzzle the voice of democracy. Kitabat notes that Nouri's effort to shut down satellite chanel Baghdadi resulted in the large turnout and that the crowd chanted Moqtada's name. Dar Addustour reports that Nouri attempted to limit -- if not halt -- the protests by butting off raods to the square, stationing security guards throughout and more. Nouri dismissed the protest and their objections to him while insisting that his critics can say anything about him but he's gagged/prevented from speaking about them. Iraqi President Jalal Talabani had no comment because he's fled to Germany.
It hasn't been a good time for Northern Lad Jalal. For awhile there, he could hang with Moqtada, Iraqiya's Ayad Allawi and KRG President Massoud Barzani. Then he refused to follow the Constitution and forward a petition to Parliament. Jalal decided he had a 'right' to verify signatures and verify meant something other than: Did you sign this? "I signed it two weeks ago but I've changed my mind" meant Jalal struck your name and he then turned around and insisted that the petition didn't have enough signatures. He was gripping any excuse he could as quickly became obvious. And now he finds himself alone hence the trip to Germany.
Kitabat reported last week on Talabani's June 9th declaration that he wouldn't forward the signatures for a no-confidence vote, thereby ending that process for the Parliament to vote Nouri al-Maliki out as prime minister. Of Jalal's change of heart, Qassim Abdul-Zahra (AP) noted, "Talabani has close ties to Iran, which has been using its leverage in Iraq to keep al-Maliki in place. Divisions among the prime minister's opponents may also be undercutting the no confidence push." Dar Addustour also focused on the messages that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been sending Jalal Talabani. And it wasn't just Iran putting the pressure on Jalal. By mid-week, Dar Addustor was reporting that eye witnesses claim Jalal was visited by a convoy of US officials (ten vehicles) who explained to him what he was going to do. (Both the US White House and the Iranian government backed Nouri al-Maliki in 2010.) While Jalal danced for his masters, Alsumaria reported Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi stated that he refused US Vice President Joe Biden's request that he meet with Nouri al-Maliki. He states that Tony Blinken (Biden's National Security Advisor) made the request on Biden's behalf and urged that the opposition to Nouri back down. Kitabat noted that the US publicly insists it is not biased towards either side of the debate but that it worked repeatedly to undercut the opposition and to save Nouri from a no-confidence vote.
His former allied pals didn't just roll over the way Jalal so often does. Instead, Alsumaria reported they met-up in Erbil on June 10th and discussed how to mobilize Parliament to take on the issue of the power grab and Nouri's monopoly of power. Moqtada al-Sadr would insist after the meeting that the process continues. Later in the week, Al Rafidayn reported that Massoud Barzani also declared that efforts continue to replace Nouri and to "repel the dictatorship" as the Iraqi people want to happen.
And then Alsumaria reported Iraqiya head Ayad Allawi explained that Iraqi President Jalal Talabani was the one reassuring everyone April 28th that a withdrawal of confidence could be done and Nouri al-Maliki easily replaced. Allawi states that Talabani stated no Constitutional mechanism was required, Talabani merely had to withdraw confidence. The next day Alsumaria reported that the Kurdistan Alliance has declared they do not support the Iraqi president traveling out of the country (he had planned a trip to the US for health issues caused by his gross obesity) and that the Kurdistan Alliance was calling on him to respect the no-confidence petition which has 176 signatures (and which they expect to gather more signatures -- the figure they give is 190). Alliance MP Mahma Khalil repeated that in April in Erbil (that would be the April 28th meet-up), Jalal stated he could replace Nouri with a no-confidence vote that would leave the rest of the elements of government in place. Yes, the exact charge that Allawi had made the day before. The next day it was time for Jalal to talk to Alsumaria and he insisted that Ayad Allawi was wrong (he avoided calling out or mentioning Mahma Khalil who'd made the same charges).
The waters were simmering and looked likely to boil. Al Rafidayn noted so many were upset with Jalal that he's had to prepare a public letter for the PUK to distribute to its members. But the big drama would wait for Saturday. With less than 24 hours before a meet-up of Iraqiya's Allawi, KRG President Barzani and Moqtada al-Sadr, news emerged via Alsumaria that Jalal had resorted to a strongly worded letter to Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi, Iraqiya head Ayad Allawi and KRG President Massoud Barazni in which he belittled Moqtada al-Sadr and in which he insisted he'd rather resign than change his opinion and forward the petition with 176 signatures to Parliament. A strongly worded letter left him so weakened that he had to immediately flee Iraq and head to Germany.
From his hospital sick bed, Jalal's issued near daily thoughts and affirmations via the press. Yesterday, he resorted to a spokesperson. Dar Addustour reports that the spokesperson declared Jalal had surgery but would not disclose what type of surgery or even a general reason for the surgery. There was time, however, to float a rumor that, as soon as he returned to Iraq, Jalal planned to announce his resignation as president.
If that was meant to lead to cries of "Heavens no!," poor Jalal, no one appears to care.
Today, AP reports that Speaker al-Nujaifi has declared Nouri must face the Parliament for questions. Alsumaria adds that Ayad Allawi declared today that there are committees forming for the questioning of Nouri before Parliament. Fang Yang (Xinhua) reports on it and manages to do what the US press repeatedly refuses to do: Explain what the political crisis stems from: Nouri's failure to honor the Erbil Agreement. Yang:
They also accused the prime minister of evading his commitments to implementing the terms of a power-sharing deal that he signed with rival political parties.
The deal, also known as the Arbil agreement, was signed in November 2010 in Kurdistan in northern Iraq. It paved the way for Maliki's fragile partnership government after Iraq's political rivals ended their differences that lasted eight months following the parliamentary elections in March 2010.
Alsumaria reports that the UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy to Iraq Martin Kobler met today with al-Sistani. What did Kobler speak to al-Sistani about? The political crisis, the lack of basic public services, the stalled oil and gas law. In another article, Alsumaria notes Kobler last visited al-Sistani November 21st of last year. Meanwhile Qassim Abdul-Zahra and Brian Murphy (AP) report, "Tehran is calling in favors among its allied factions in Iraq and exerting its significant religious and commercial influence to try to block Mr. al-Maliki's opponents from getting a no-confidence motion."
Reporters Without Borders is very concerned about Mouloud Anfand, the editor of the magazine Kurd-Israel, who has been missing for the past 11 days in Iraq's northern Kurdistan region. According to his family and various media sources, he set off from Erbil on 9 June with aim of going to Sulaymaniyah and has not been seen since.
"We fear the worst and we urge the autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government's authorities to do everything possible to find Mouloud Anfand," Reporters Without Borders said. "And we therefore call for an immediate investigation into this journalist's disappearance."
Armand, who is of Iranian origin, has been living in Iraqi Kurdistan for several years. Kurd-Israel is published by the Kurd-Israel Association, which promotes better relations between Israelis and Kurds and encourages Kurdish Jews who emigrated to Israel to return to Kurdistan.
It's doubtful the government out of Tehran would kidnap Iraqi Colonel Sadiq Mohammad Kazim, Nouri's military officer who oversaw the 2009 and 2011 assaults on Camp Ashraf. But not everyone's as enamored of him as Nouri and Tehran. AP reports the European Union refused to admit him this week when he was sent as part of a delgation. Camp Ashraf contained approximately 3500 Iranian dissidents whose presence in Iraq dates back to the 1980s. They were welcomed into the country back then. Since Nouri was installed by the US as prime minister in 2006, there's been a non-stop effort to evict the residents from the country. Currently the UN has relocated approximately 2,000 to Camp Liberty. The remaining members have thus far refused to move because they want the US to conduct a search of Camp Ashraf while they're present. Since the State Dept has -- for some idiotic reason -- made the status of the MEK (terrorist or not terrorist) dependent upon how this transfer goes and on whether they find weapons after Camp Ashraf is empty, it's not an unreasonable request. They've been attacked by Nouri's forces. They've been targeted. They have good cause to fear and, if it's just paranoia on their part, no harm is done by the US doing a search prior to the departure of the last residents. (Their fear is that, after they're gone, Nouri's goons will plant things in the camp and when the US State Dept finally gets off its ass -- remember a US federal court ordered the State Dept to review the classification two years ago -- all these things will have been planted in and around the camp.)
Camp Liberty? Nouri's put Sadeq Kazem in charge of it. And now he gets to be in the news. AFP reports that the French police hauled him in for questioning today as a result of a complaint filed by a resident of Camp Ashraf who states he or she was tortured and that he or she was tortured on the orders of Sadeq Kazem. Alsumaria reports Nouri's spokesperson insists that Kazem will be released shortly and that the real abuse is the French and their detaining Kazem. That's good, Nouri, start attacking the European states now. You've got no friends among the Arab states and now it's time to clear the deck of Europe as well?
Today in the US, the House Veterans Affairs Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity held a hearing, chaired by US House Rep Marlin Stutzman, on proposed bills. One of the bills discussed was the H.R. 3860 is the Help Veterans Return to Work Act. US House Rep John Garamendi is the bill's sponsor and it has 21 co-sponsors.
The second panel was composed of VFW's Ryan Gallucci, American Legion's Steve Gonzalez, Reserve Officers Association MG Andrew Davis and attorney John S. Odom. Gonzalez spoke of the Legion supporting H.R. 3860 with one exception: they'd allow the undue hardship protections to apply only to small businesses. Davis conveyed that the Reserve Officers Association supports the bill and feels that undue hardship isn't an issue because it "only applies to a small minority of reemployment claims. This mainly applies to those service members who have disabilites that were incurred or aggravated during uniformed service, and after reasonable efforts by the employer to accoomodate the disability, is not qualified due to such disability to be employed in the position of employment." Gallucci noted the VFW opposes the bill and fears it may result in less veterans and service members being hired by big companies. Odom had no comments on it (his practice helps service members and veterans who have problems with banks and other lending institutions and his remarks focused on bills that covered those institutions). Gallucci was asked to speak further to H.R. 3860 and we're going to note that part.
Chair Marlin Stutzman: I've got two questions and the first one is for Mr. Gallucci. You go into detail on the potential impact of H.R. 3860. What would it have -- What kind of impact would it have on service members's abilities to be employed by large employers?
Ryan Gallucci: Absolutely, I'm glad you asked that question, Chairman. The concern that we have really has to do with the veterans ability to get through the door. When we look at the unemployment statistics for veterans -- even in the age group 18 to 24 -- it's our belief that we are not even talking about veterans who are asking for re-employment. These are veterans who are looking for first-time employment. And what we saw in the report from the Center for a New American Security was that one of the top concerns for potential employers considering hiring a reserve-component service member or a veteran was the perpetual threat of a military obligation. Now one of our big concerns beyond this -- beyond reserve-component service members is that within the civilian-military disconnect, there's a general misunderstanding of the difference between a reserve-component service member and a veteran. Myself, I have been asked on job interviews when discussing my military service whether or not I would have to go back? I left the military in 2007. That is absolutely not a concern that I would be recalled to active duty. So our concern is that when we're talking about these daunting unemployment figures for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans that we run the risk of making them even more unattractive to large employers if we do away with the due process through which an employer could demonstrate that there may have been a hardship, there may have been a reduction in force and it may be necessary to let a certain employee go. Now what we do support is stronger enforcement of USSERRA [Uniformed Services Employment and Re-employment Rights Act of 1994] policy. This is where we see the major gap -- when state attorney generals are only prosecuting 8% of the USSERRA complaints that come through their offices, when we hear from Dept of Labor that they're running up against major defenses from the legal defenses of these major corporations, that's not necessarily because of the undue hardship clause. That'll continue. They'll continue to fight for why they don't need to live up to their USSERRA obligations. But we're concerned with this on the front-end would impact veterans in their ability to land a job to begin with.
We may come back to this hearing or grab a Wednesday hearing (also on proposed bills) in tomorrow's snapshot. I'm not taking a position on the bill. We're including that because I was surprised there was such a sharp break between the VFW and the other service organizations on the bill and because Galluci talked about how common the issue of the returning finding out that there jobs are not there. This is a serious problem and it is illegal to fire someone who is called up for duty because they were called up. We've noted this and we've noted how common it is and how little the press reports on it. Probably because Guard and Reserve members don't take out ads in newspapers or on television but big corporations do. That's certainly an easy explanation for the lack of coverage. As Gallucci notes, it's a fairly widespread problem and you don't get that from the press.
Iraq War Hawk Anne-Marie Slaughter joined the Barack Obama administration and left two years later. She's written a stupid article at The Atlantic -- one that only a non-feminist would write. She thinks she can present the personal as political. The personal as political works on universal experiences. We weren't all plotting war, Anne-Marie, cheering on the deaths of Iraqis and, later, Libyans.
Slaughter had problems with her teenage son. She makes that part of the article. How sad for her teenage son. But maybe if Mommy hadn't been a blood thirsty War Hawk, he wouldn't have been a troubled child. Sorry, Anne-Marie, but a feminist wouldn't have written that article. A feminist would have known better.
Feminism lied and betrayed Slaughter because you can't have it all!!!!
Okay, even the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution don't promise that you can have it all. I'm confused as to which 'feminist' Slaughter heard say, "You can have it all!" I've never said that and I've never heard any other feminist say that. I remember a bad commercial from the 70s for Enjoli perfume with a song that promised that while a woman shook her ass for the camera. Is Slaughter so stupid she thought Enjoli was the voice of feminism? It was a corporate product voiced by Madison Avenue. Grow the hell up.
Second-wave feminism was about the politics of homework, it was about very real issues. I'm not remembering the Ms. magazine cover story proclaiming, "Gals, it's all been solved! Now we get to have it all!" Because that cover doesn't exist. Gloria Steinem, Flo Kennedy, Maxine Hong Kingston, Robin Morgan, Madonna Thunder Hawk, Bernice Johnson Reagon, Gloria Anzaldua, Jo Freeman, Dolores Huerta, May Chen, Martha P. Cotera, Lorelei DeCora, Toni Cade Bambara, and assorted other second-wavers never said, "You can have it all!" They didn't make that promise in word and they didn't make that promise in action. Feminism wouldn't be an ongoing struggle for equality if we could have it all currently. And I believe it was Marlo Thomas who rightly pointed out in those early second-wave days that she needed a wife. The point she was making at that time was that with all she had to do, she could sure use someone to do all the things that married women were expected to do for their husbands at that time. Marlo's entire point refutes Anne-Marie's lie that feminism promised her she could have it all. I've never read a more stupid article.
And I'm going to go there. Having outed your son as troubled child two years ago, I hope to hell that's not still true because I had to groan when I read this sentence, "I have not exactly left the ranks of full-time career woman; I teach a full course load; write regular print and online columns on foreign policy; give 40 to 50 speeches a year; appear regularly on TV and radio; and am working on a new academic book." Again, Anne-Marie, I hope to hell that your child is still not troubled because clearly your plate is full.
Feminists, please note, don't go around writing things like "full-time career woman." I've never once -- and I've known her for years -- heard Gloria Steinem identify herself as "a career woman." That's the sort of phrase that's used in bad backlash TV programs (read Susan Faludi's still wonderful and still pertinent Backlash: The Undeclared War On American Women as well her equally brilliant but less well received by 'critics' The Terror Dream. The same is true of "high potential women" -- an phrase that's meant to imply "professionals" (professional murderers?) like Anne-Marie but's really just another elitist phrase by a Queen Bee who wants to be bitchy and pretend she's so much better than the average woman. (Of course she wants to pretend that, a Queen Bee doesn't value womanhood, that's why she wants to be told she 'thinks like a man' and other exception-to-the-rule phrases.)
Anne-Marie Slaughter wanted to have a 'buzz' article to gear up for a bad book and the best way to do that is to blame feminism. The media loves to distort feminism and they love the writers that do that work for them.
I don't care that she offers some potential solutions, I don't give a damn. First off, there's no 'solution' she's proposed that a feminst hasn't made before -- even though she's unable to credit them. She can write a piece slamming feminism, please note, but she can't give credit to the women who've long been proposing what she's just stumbled upon. I am so tired of these women who beat up on feminism to make a name for themselves. I'm not talking about critical thinking, I'm not saying feminism if off-limits. We especially need to be critiquing the second-wave now (for various reasons including what was achieved, what worked and also to allow those who were a part of the second-wave to have a chance to respond). And I certainly don't believe that you can only critique in polite tones with qualifiers and sweetness.
But Anne-Marie's not offering a critique -- harsh, kind or otherwise. What she's done is attacked feminism and done so in a way that will have many readers who don't know any better (because the media always distorts feminism) nodding along. There's no factual basis to her claim. Feminism didn't -- and hasn't -- promised any one -- woman, man or child -- that they could have it all. Feminism is an ongoing struggle for equality.
Is Anne-Marie brain dead or did she just forget 2008? I will never forget 2008 which reminds us of just how right the late second-wave feminist Ellen Willis was about the sexism in so many of our 'brothers' on the left. Hillary was attacked in the press and by left males (and some females) for the way she looked, for the way she laughed, for her age, for her marriage (remember when both Michelle Obama and Elizabeth Edwards attacked Hillary's marriage -- weren't those 'uplifiting' moments for us all). She was called the most disgusting things. The Progressive linked to a piece at The Weekly Standard -- a piece Matthew Rothschild enjoyed -- about the whole 'call her a c-word' group. It took her being called a "bitch" on CNN for FAIR to finally note the sexism of 2008 in their weekly radio show CounterSpin. Ava and I covered this May 25, 2008 -- refer to that if you're late to the party on the one and only time the weekly half-hour media criticism show could find an example of sexism in campaign 2008.
Throughout the primaries, Hillary survived one sexist attack after another. The media watchdog's weekly radio program CounterSpin ignored and ignored it. It took all the complaints about their silence and Hillary being called a "bitch" by a commentator on CNN for FAIR to finally give us a brief second on their radio program where they noted sexism. Again, what world has Anne-Marie been living in?
There are women -- including feminists -- who will try to put a sweet spin on it and emphasize Anne-Marie's suggestions. I'm not playing that game. You cannot take to the public square and outright lie about feminism and get away with it. And "career woman," again, not a phrase feminists use. Just as you'll never hear Jo Freeman call Bill Gates a "career man." Anne-Marie writes like Queen Bee, squawks like a Queen Bee, I think she's a Queen Bee. And, no, Queen Bee's are not feminists. They are all about being the one of the few -- if not the sole -- woman in the room.
Anne-Marie had jobs inside the home and outside the home. She can thank feminism for that. And feminism certainly is about choices. And a feminist can choose to work solely inside the home or solely outside the home or to do both. A feminist can raise a child or raise 50 kids or none at all. A feminist can marry once or marry many men and many women or never marry at all. These are choices that exist because feminism exists for and fought for the right of a woman to have self-deterimination in her own life. Feminism gives women the right to vote, the right to own property, the right to leave a marriage (due to abuse or just because you're not happy) and so much more.
Anne-Marie, the struggle for equality never ended because we're still not there. I've been in a ton of marches for pro-choice, for equal pay for equal work, for what have you. Never once did we march carrying a banner which read, "SUCCESS AT LAST! STOP DEMANDING EQUALITY! WE HAVE ACHIEVED IT!"
Laura Nyro passed away in the 90s. She put that song out in 1989. Laura grasped that "you can't have it all" but that was news to Anne-Marie today?
Feminism didn't mislead Anne-Marie.
Anne-Marie lied to herself. Her problem has nothing to do with feminism. It doesn't even have to do with work, actually. She's one of those people that's going to try to ride life like a wild stallion, break it in and it's going to do just what she says.
That's not life, that's a control freak's wet dream. Life is messy, life is hard, life is fun, life is glorious. It changes like the weather. It is chaos, it is calm. You learn to take life for what it offers as opposed to trying to push it up a hill and you can be a lot happier. Anne-Marie's biggest problem is her plan in her head didn't match what she now sees before her eyes. That is life, get used to it. She's such a patriarch, thinking she's going to dominate the wild nature of life, dominate nature itself. What a sad, sad, wanna-be-man of a woman.
And remember, Anne-Marie, confessional writing is when you write about yourself. And you can include many adults in your narrative. But confessional writing really isn't tagging your now 16-year-old son as a troubled child with behavioral problems. That's really not feminism either. I don't know what it is. Maybe an attempt to make yourself look noble? It just makes you look like your so desperate for attention that you'll take the problems of a child and make them public for your own financial gain. Again, that's not feminism.