Saturday, July 14, 2012

Violence, waste and the political crisis continue

Safa Rashed

That's Safa Rashed, Iraqi weighlifter.  12 days until the Summer Olympics kick off in London.  Safa will be one of eight Iraqis competing this year. Another will be Dania Hussein, Iraqi runner.

Dania Hussein

 Hussein will be participating in the 100 meter run.  This will be her second Olympic appearance, she also competed in the 2008 Summer Olympics in Bejing.   We'll again note what  Emily Alpert (Los Angeles Times) reported earlier this week, "For the first time in Olympic history, every country will have a woman competing on its team, including longtime holdout Saudi Arabia, the International Olympic Committee announced Thursday. Brunei and Qatar will also send female athletes to the London Games for the first time."  Again, the Summer Olympics kick off in 12 days.  Screen snaps from this Alsumaria video report.

Dropping back to  yesterday's snapshot:

Earlier this week, Sylvia Westall (Reuters) reported on Iraq's art scene, specifically Baghdad where  some of the  musicians who fled the country earlier are returning. Westall notes the musical history.  Excerpt.
Several nights later Tunisian revolutionary singer Emel Mathlouthi performed at a social club in the capital to an audience of diplomats, Iraqi officials, students and teachers at a concert organised by the French Institute.
Tariq Safa al-Din, the Alwiyah club's president, said it was one of the largest concerts of this kind at the venue in the past decade. Small groups perform Iraqi folk music every week in the garden of the club, founded in 1924.
"This is for the past two years. Before that, you know what it was like in Iraq, nobody used to come to the club," he said.
Mathlouthi's performance was just the beginning of a new era for live music in Baghdad, he said.

Kim Kelly (The Atlantic) focuses more on the present and the emergence of what is thought to be a musical first in Iraq:
She says her name is Anahita, the 28-years-old voice and vitriol behind Janaza, which is believed to be Iraq's very first female-fronted, black-metal band. Allow that notion --Iraq's very first female-fronted, black-metal band -- to sink in for a moment. Her first recording, Burn the Pages of Quran, boasts five distorted, primitive tracks that altogether run just shy of an unlucky 13 minutes. She, along with a handful of other acts hailing from the Middle East, are repurposing black metal's historically anti-Christian ferocity to rail against Islam. In doing so, these bands are serving up another example of how art and dissent can intersect in a region where dissent can sometimes have deadly consequences.

Today Anna Breslaw (Jezebel) reports that The Atlantic article might be a hoax and that the photos accompanying it have been used in publications previously for other metal bands.  We'll include that in Monday's snapshot and any other details that emerge by then.

Turning to today's violence, All Iraqi News reports a shrine bombing outside Babylon Province -- the Shi'ite shrine was under construction -- which claimed the life of 1 construction worker and left four more injured.  The toll would quickly increase and, at present, stands at 2 dead and seven injuredAlso in Babylon, a Sahwa's home was bombed leaving two children injuredKUNA reports an attack on a Mosul checkpoint which left 5 soldiers dead, a roadside bombing outside Falluja which claimed the lives of 3 police officers and left four more dead.  AFP notes the Mosul checkpoint attack (and puts it at the small town of Rashidiyah) and they report that an attack on a Hammam al Alil checkpoint left 2 police officers and 2 bystanders dead.  AKnews, meanwhile, insists that a 22-year-old woman took her own life when their report (by Jamshid Zangana) does not support that assertion.  When saying someone took their own life, you really need a ruling, a note or a loved one.  It's like reporting "neighbors say she was a prostitute." You don't include that if you can't back up that the woman was a prostitute. (The woman accused of taking her own life is not accused of being a prostitute.  That's a reference to a New York Times article we took on years ago which felt the need to note that the dead women were prostitutes because a neighbor said so -- in spite of the fact that Arab media reported the women were all of one family and that's why they lived together.)  At this point, all that is known is that a young woman is dead, that the police are investigating and that there are some nosy, rumor mongering neighbors whose statements are denied by the woman's family.

The political crisis continues.  Nasiriyah reports that State of Law is stating that the Reform Commission will informally meet next week and that it has a working paper which will move on to work teams for additional input.

Al Mada reports more on the Thursday night meeting between Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi. Nouri asked that several bills introduced in previous sessions -- included the oil & gas draft -- be considered this session and Osama agreed.   Nouri's office states the main reason for the visit was to offer condolences to Osama on the recent death of a relative.  Whatever they spoke of didn't seem to have much effect on unity.  Al Mada reports that by Saturday, State of Law was stating Osama al-Nujaifi was trying to stop a reconciliation and/by blocking potential nominees for the security ministries.

All Iraqi News states Ammar al-0Hakim is making many suggestions.  Most of them are old.  A new one is for the government to invest in civil society organizations.  Ammar al-Hakim heads the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq which is part of the National Alliance (Shi'ite grouping which also includes Moqtada's political bloc and State of Law among other bodies).

While the political crisis continues, food prices are on the rise and, Al Mada reports, Iraqis note that the Ministry of Commerce has done nothing to address this marked increase in cost.

Meanwhile Iraq continues to have sewage problems.  Ahmed Hussein (Al Mada) reports that al-Rashid Street has gone from a fabled meet-up for intellectuals, writers, celebrities and politicians to a dumping ground for debris and waste.  There are thought to be over 180 historical landmarks in that region and the neglect to the area is raising concern that these vital historical sites may be lost.  Baghdad Governor Salah Abdul Razzaq is calling for the street to be open to car traffic with the belief that this might prevent some of the dumping go on (the thinking appears to be that if cars flow through the street, people will remove the blockage).  Along with being one of the points of interest of Baghdad social life from the fifties through the eighties, the street also dates back to the Ottoman Empire and has historical value from that era as well.

The following community sites -- plus, Tavis Smiley, Fresh Air and Iraq Veterans Against the War  --   updated last night and today:

In Baltimore, the Green Party has been holding its national political convention.  It wraps up tomorrow.

Jill Stein: As you know, the American people are facing many crises right now.  The political establishment is not fixing this.  In fact, they are making it worse. With our campaign, we intend to turnt he breaking point into a tipping point.

Steve Kilar (Baltimore Sun) reports that Dr. Stein has won the party's nomination:

It was the first national political convention in Baltimore since Democrats nominated Woodrow Wilson in 1912.
"We are the 99 percent, and this is the year we take our country back," Stein said to the crowd gathered in a conference room off the hotel's lobby. Organizers said Saturday that about 350 people registered to attend the national convention.
[. . .]
"Voting for either Wall Street candidate gives a mandate for four more years of corporate rule," Stein said in her nomination speech, lumping President Barack Obama and his opponent, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, as candidates beholden to commercial interests.

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