Tuesday, September 18, 2012. Chaos and violence continue, Jalal returns to Iraq, an Iraqi dies in prison less than 24 hours after he was arrested (mass arrested), a number of Iraqi leaders are out of the country (who will greet Jalal!), the Electoral Commission remains a question mark and a problem, in Canada people gather to show their support for war resister Kim Rivera who has been ordered to leave the country, in the US a presidential ticket takes part in Occupy, and more.
This afternoon in Toronoto, Iraq War resister Chuck Wiley declared, "Like Kim Rivera, I am a war resister who developed an issue of conscience after witnessing events in Iraq and sought protection in Canada. Kim's actions were based in conscience, and her own understanding of the Nuremberg Principles, the Geneva Conventions, and the balance os international law. She took these principles seriously, and hoped and expected that Canada still did the same as it has for generations." Wiley was among a group of people gathered today to show their support for Kim. At The Strength of the Absurd, Kim's friend explains, "Kimberly Rivera grew up in Mesquite, Texas. When she was 17, Army recruiters visited her home offering money for college that her family did not have. She signed up to be a mechanic and was enlisted in the Army Reserves.In October 2006 her unit was activated and deployed to Iraq. What she witnessed during that deployment affected her deeply. In January 2007 on a two week leave in the US, Kim and her husband Mario agreed she would not go back to Iraq. In 2007 she became the first woman U.S. Iraq war resister to seek asylum in Canada. She lives in Canada with her husband and four children, two of them born in Canada." Now the Candiana government is stating she must leave the country by Thursday, September 20th or face deportation.
As the Toronto press conference got started, a statement from prominent Canadians -- including the children of two of Canada's most historic politicians, the daughter of "The Greatest Canadian" Tommy Douglas (Shirley Douglas) and the son of former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau (Alexandre Trudeau).
We the undersigned support conscientious objector Kimerly Rivera and her family who are threatened with imminent deportation from Canada on September 20. Kim deployed to Iraq in 2006 and sought asylum in Canada in 2007. She faces a court martial and up to 5 years in military prison for refusing to participate any longer in the Iraq War -- a war which had no legal sanction. Kim would be separated from her four young children, two of whom were born in Canada. A felony conviction would mean a lifetime of difficulty finding employment. We call on the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Jason Kennedy to do the right thing and allow Kimberly Rivera and her family to stay in Canada.
Alexandre Trudeau's father left a mark on the world stage. He did that by taking brave stands. Stephen Harper is the current prime minister and he's little known outside of Canada despite holding the office for over six years now. If he wanted to be a world player and have all the world looking to Canada again, as so many did when Pierre Trudeau was prime minister, he could intervene and allow Kim and her family to stay in Canada. But maybe Harper's not interested in having a legacy or being known as a player on the world stage?
Also speaking at the media conference today was Beaches International Jazz Festival's Artistic Director Bill King who explained, "I arrived in Canada as a Vietnam War resister, and I have been welcomed and embraced by Canadians. Kim Rivera made the same difficult decision I did. Minister Kenney and Prime Minister Harper, please show us that strong leaders are compassionate and allow her to stay." War Resisters Support Campaign's Michelle Robidoux observed, "Canada's support for conscientious objectors to the Iraq War, and for the Rivera family specifically, has been overwhelming. If it was up to the Canadian people, there is no doubt that the Rivera family would be allowed to stay in this country. We are appealing today to Jason Kenney to stop a great injustice from being done, by approving Kimberly Rivera's application to stay in Canada on humanitarian and compassionate grounds." (All quotes from the press conference are from a press release e-mailed to the public e-mail account. They do not have the press release up at the War Resisters Support Campaign site currently.)
Turning to Iraq, All Iraq News notes Iraqi President Jalal Talabani arrived late yesterday evening in Sulaimaniya via private jet from Berlin where he was "completing his treatment." (He had knee surgery. He fled at the start of June to Germany.) Kitabat notes he went to his residence and his return comes as there are expectations that he can help resolve the ongoing political crisis -- expectations that exist, the apper notes, at the same time there are indications that there is not the will to resolve the crisis. In the photos, it appears Jalal's lost a little weight and might be down to 420 pounds. Don't expect Jalal to easily give up the presidency. Yes, in June he threatened (yet again) to resign. Yes, he's indicated he won't seek a third term. But he previously declared he wouldn't seek a second term. The reality is a grossly obsese man like Jalal needs the health care that the presidency can provide. All Iraq News noted this morning that he was scheduled to meet with the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan today (that's his political party).
But that's not the meeting everyone will be eyeing. The meetings people will pay attention to are the ones he has with other leaders. Massoud Barzani, for example. But Jalal can't meet with KRG President Barzani because he left the day Jalal was due back, choosing instead to leave the country in order to meet with European leaders. Not to avoid Jalal, surely.
Maybe he'll meet with Iraqiya leader Ayad Allawi? Allawi is the head of Iraqiya, the political slate that won the 2010 parliamentary elections. Allawi Tweeted yesterday:
Possibly Jalal can meet with Moqtada al-Sadr? Except Moqtada's never been fond of Jalal -- they've had political differences throughout the war and their families have had political differences going back even further. And Jalal stabbed Moqtada, Allawi and Barzani in the back as May came to a close and Jalal suddenly derailed the no-confidence vote on prime minister Nouri al-Maliki (aka Little Saddam). Moqtada's become stately enough in the last two years that he might go ahead and meet with Jalal -- just to see how awkward it might be.
Jalal returns to Iraq limping and it's not just from that knee surgery. At least tomorrow, he can count on Nouri to visit his bedside. Alsumaria reports that meet-up will take place in Sulaymaniyah.
Today Alsumaria also reports that Khodair al-Khozaei, one of Iraq's two vice presidents, is calling for the implementation of death sentences saying that he supports the death penalty. Khodair al-Khozaei is a member of Nouri al-Maliki's Dawa political party. August 29th, Iraq executed 5 more people making it at least 96 executions for 2012 thus far.
Ayad Allawi noted last week that the Iraqi judiciary was politicized and death row prisoners who were Saudi would not be getting a fair shake. He also noted that the judiciary's verdict on Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi would cause more problems. At that time, Human Rights Watch's Joe Stork told Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN), "Our main concern is what were these people actually convicted of? Terrorism does not tell us very much." And Dar Addustour reported that there are at least 200 executions still to be carried out. The news outlet noted that an Iraqiya youth leader is calling for Iraq to stop the executions at least until the much talked of amnesty bill is passed into law. The student accused the government of rushing to carry out executions for sectarian reasons -- wanting to kill Sunnis before the amnesty law passes and some might be released. Dropping back to the September 6th snapshot:
Ipek Yezdani (Turkish Weekly) reports Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi has written a formal request to President Jalal Talabani in which he calls for Jalal "to stop the arbitrary and ever-increasing rate of executions in Iraq." He notes that Jalal can stop the executions at any point in his role as president. Alsumaria adds that Minister of Justice Hassan al-Shammari declared today that the use of the death penalty should be blowed down. Dar Addustour notes a Tikrit prison saw riots this week over the transfer of prisoners to Baghdad -- including some who have been sentenced to death.
This month has also seen prisoners in two prisons go on a hunger strike with the demand that the Parliament pass an amnesty law. Sunday Alsumaria published a draft proposal of the amnesty law. It has still not been voted on. Today Alsumaria reports that Moqtada al-Sadr's parliamentary bloc is in agreement with the Kurdistan Alliance on the amnesty bill with both supporting it and calling for it to be passed.
A large number of Iraqis die in prison and that's no longer just raising eye brows, it's also raising questions publicly. Alsumaria reports that Iraqiya's Nahida Daini is leading a call for an investigation into the death of two people being held in a security detentnion center in Diyala Province. The two did yesterday . Bryar Mohammed (AKnews) reports that Khales Mayor Oday Khidran states only one, not two, have died: "The inmate was arrested together with six more people yesterday under 'terrorism' charges. He was diabethic and died of his condition, according to Khidran." Might this finally get the non-Iraqi press to focus on the mass arrests that have been taking place?
It's interesting that a mayor -- not identified as a doctor -- is able to determine cause of death before an autopsy has been performed. It's also interesting that an elected official would be as stupid as Khidran to claim that a diabetic dying on Monday, also arrested on Monday, was dying "of his condition." Meaning?
You can't just arrest people. Iraq has signed onto various treaties. If the man was a diabetic and he was arrested, it was incumbent upon the authorities to ensure that the man had medication. That means if he was brought to the prison without insulin (which may be the case), it was the prison's responsibility to supply him with insulin. Not a few days after he was brought to the prison but immediately. Health care isn't a right just for the fat Jalal. Prisoners are supposed to have health care. If it turns out that the man did die as a result of his diabetes, that means he wasn't getting proper medical supervison and that's on the prison, the prison system, all the way up to Nouri.
The violence does not end in Iraq. Kitabat reports that a tribal Sheikh and two of his bodygruads were assassinated last night with two more people left injured. The paper explains this had been the third assassination attempt on the Sheikh this year and that this one resulted in over seventy rounds of bullets being fired into his car. Also late yesterday, Al Mada reports, a bombing went off outside Kirkuk's Church of the Sacred Heart doing damage to the church but not wounding or killing anyone. Last night, Hazhar Rashid (AKnews) reports, 3 people died and one person was injured when unknown assailants fired on their car in Kirkuk and "a university instructor was killed by gunmen in central Kirkuk." All Iraq News reports that Professor Khader Hussein with the University of Kirkuk was injured in an armed attaack today. Hazhar Rashid (AKnews) notes Alsumaria reports a Baghdad sticky bombing has claimed the life of 1 employee of the Ministry of the Interior. In addition, Alsumaria reports a Turkish drone has crashed in Dohuk province.
Not noted in the report, the US supplies Turkey with drones. Under Bully Boy Bush, this was done via an agreement signed in 2007. Under Barack, the supply has continued but mainly due to the fact that Turkey gave land in 2011 to the US to be used for a CIA station. The drones are used in part to locate suspected PKK (PKK is a Kurdish rebel group which is largely in the moutains of nothern Iraq) but they're also used to spy on Iraq and that goes back to the still in effect agreement Bush and Turkey signed which provided drones with the understanding that Turkey would share the footage being transmitted. The footage is apparently important enough to the US for them to risk exposure of the program since a drone was spotted flying over Baghdad not all that long ago (Al Mada and other Iraqi publications reported it while the US press ignored it).
Yesterday came news that 8 people had been voted onto the Independent High Electoral Commission. A vote on the 9th member was blocked by Christian MPs who felt they were not being represented. Alaa Sabbagh (Kitabat) wonders if this commission is going to promote democracy or embrace a dictatorship in Iraq? All Iraq News reports that the Sadr bloc has announced they support a Christian member for the Commission and declare that they are a "respectable part of the country." Kitabat notes that the 8 voted on do not represent minorities. This includes women. Not one woman was voted onto the commission yesterday. Martin Kobler is UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's Special Representative in Iraq. July 19th, Kobler appeared before the UN Security Council and stated:
As we speak, my political deputy, Mr. Gyorgy Busztin, is engaged in facilitation efforts to bring about the formation of a new, Independent High Election Commission which is representative of the main components of Iraq -- including women and children and minorities. The urgent selection of the commissioners is essential for ensuring that the provincial council elections due to take place in March 2013 can be conducted on time. I'm concerned that the ongoing political stalemate is hindering the process however. In recent days, I have discussed with political leaders -- including Prime Minister al-Maliki -- the need for a swfit conclusion of this political process and the need for an adequate representation of women and minorities in the commission. Today, I would like to re-iterate my appeal to all political blocs to expedite the selection of professional commissioners. UNAMI stands here ready to actively assist.
The need for an adequate representation of women and minorities in the commission? 8 of the 9 members are now voted on. There's not a woman among the eight. Wafaa Zangana (AK News) reports Christian MP Yonadam Yousef Kanna is calling for the number of seats on the commission to be increased since there is now "only one seat for minorities, while the women, Turkmen and Christians were not represented [in the new commission]. The law of the Federal Court stresses the need to represent all parties in the electoral commission, but the presidency of the Council of Representatives violated this law." In related news, an Iraqiya MP tells All Iraq News that there is a conpiracy taking place to ensure that women will not be members of the next Parliament (parliamentary elections are supposed to take place in 2014) and she is calling for a woman to be appointed to the electoral commission so that women's rights will be protected. She notes women make up 65% of the Iraqi population but are barely represented in the Parliament and, at present, not even on the new IHEC.
Michael Smith: Michael, the actions that the Obama administration took against Libya is really a perversion of the law. Explain what they did in order to justify not going to Congress.
Michael Ratner: Well the use of military force by the president has to be authorized by Congress under the United States Constitution. That's very clear. And it's not just war, it's use of -- it's hostilities, it's really any military action anywhere in the world other than in self-defense. So we start from the premise that military actions, whether in Libya, killing people in Somolia or Yemen, etc., has to be authorized by Congress. In some cases the president claimed that the authorization to use military force passed in 2001 -- after 9/11 -- gave him authority. But in other cases, he's just asserting raw, naked power. He's claiming that because these don't amount to large wars that the Constitution doesn't apply and he doesn't have to go to Congress. Now then what happened because this is a common claim of presidents whether it's in Libya or Somolia, Congress after Vietnam built in a safety trigger. They said, "Lookit, you still need our consent to go to war, or to go into hostilities or bomb people, etc. But we're going to put in a safety trigger. If you do that, if you engage in hostilities and you don't come to us first like you're required to do under the Constitution, then you have sixty days to come back to us and get authority or within sixty days all troops have to be automatically withdrawn." So it's a safety figure because they knew the president would do exactly what Obama is doing, violate the Constitution. They put in a safety trigger that said you have sixty days to get authority, if you don't have authority then you then have 30 more days to get all the troops out, a total of 90 days. So in the case of Libya, of course, the 90 days have passed and the War Powers Resolution had required that all those troops be brought out. So we had a sort of double system. Is that clear, Michael?
Michael Smith: Well as a practical matter, the political will in this country is lacking to do anything. Technically what he did is a crime and he can be impeached for it and tried and gotten out of office but I don't think that's going to happen.
Michael Ratner: It's a high crime or misdemeanor. It's true violation of the Constitution, it's a violation of Congressional statute, you could impeach him. But good luck. We've never -- we've never successfully impeached anybody. I mean, we had, you know, Andrew Johnson after the Civil War was at least tried and acquitted eventually but I think that was the case. Nixon, rather than be impeached, resigned. Clinton made it through. Bush made it through. So what do you say, Michael? It looks like it's not a really good lever.
A true violation of the Constitution. Tell us again about Constitution Day, Donna Brazile, we're all waiting for that fairy tale.
Cindy Sheehan: Obama has increased military spending since he became commander in chief of the US armed forces. He's increased troops to Afghanistan [. . .]. And he has also increased the use of unmanned aerial vehicles or drones and Hellfire Missile bombings by over 500% over his predecessor George W. Bush. I am sure that if Mitt [Romney] becomes president, those things will continue Besides Obama bombing Libya, Somalia, Yemen, Afghanistan, Pakistan and etc., use of a kill list and executing Americans without the Due Process that's guaranteed to us under the Bill of Rights, the thing that upsets me the most about his regime and the Democrats in general is not only the refusal to hold the Bush regime accountable for War Crimes and crimes against humanity, but how Obama's DoJ -- Department of Justice -- protects them while persecuting people like me for being a War Tax Resister and people like Bradley Manning, an alleged whistle blower, and we are trying to stop the War Crimes.
Will you allow Occupy to become a project of the old left, the same cabal of old world thinkers who have blunted the possibility of revolution for decades? Will you allow MoveOn, The Nation and Ben & Jerry to put the brakes on our Spring Offensive and turn our struggle into a "99% Spring" reelection campaign for President Obama?
We are now in a battle for the soul of Occupy… a fight to the finish between the impotent old left and the new vibrant, horizontal left who launched Occupy Wall Street from the bottom-up and who dreams of real democracy and another world.
Whatever you do, don't allow our revolutionary struggle to fizzle out into another lefty whine and clicktivist campaign like has happened so many times in the past. Let's Occupy the clicktivists and crash the MoveOn party. Let's #DEFENDOCCUPY and stop the derailment of our movement that looms ahead.
WASHINGTON, DC -- The Green Party of the United States saluted and praised Occupy Wall Street on September 17, the latter's first anniversary, calling the movement a sorely needed revival of protest for the economic rights of working people and the poor in an era of increasing redistribution of wealth to the top "one percent" supported by both Democratic and Republican politicians.
Many Greens, including presidential nominee Jill Stein and running mate Cheri Honkala, have joined the Occupy rally in New York. On Monday, September 17, Dr. Stein and Ms. Honkala spoke to the rally at Bowling Green, with Dr. Stein addressing the connection between climate change and big banks (http://www.jillstein.org/occupy_wall_street_anniversary / photos: http://bit.ly/Qg2F1E).
"We need Occupy Wall Street in the next few months more than ever before," said Julia Willebrand, Green candidate for New York State Assembly in Manhattan (67th District) and participant in current Occupy actions (http://www.facebook.com/juliaforassembly). "America's two-party political establishment -- including President Obama and Gov. Romney -- has continued to abandon the 99 percent and serve the interests of Wall Street and other powerful corporate lobbies. The attack on public education and labor in Chicago, which led to the teachers' union strike, and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, endorsed by Romney and Obama, are just two recent examples."
Greens have respected the nonpartisan nature of the Occupy protests and have criticized Democratic Party front groups like MoveOn.org for attempting to hijack the movement and turn it into "Reelect Obama."
Greens assert that many Occupy grievances and demands match those of the Green Party. Green Party leaders said that Jill Stein's likely exclusion from the presidential debates means that Occupy's concerns will be banished from discussion (http://www.jillstein.org/launching_occupy_the_cpd).
"We urge all Americans who share the frustration and anger of the Occupy Movement to learn about the Green Party and the 'Green New Deal' that our candidates are promoting. We urge working Americans to remember that Jill Stein and Cheri Honkala stood with the Chicago Teachers Union, were arrested for protesting foreclosures in Philadelphia, and have spoken at Occupy events -- while Democratic Party leaders were on the wrong side or remained silent," said Drew Langdon, Green candidate for New York State Assembly in Rochester (137th District / http://drewlangdon.org/).
"And we remind everyone that not voting is really a vote for the status quo," said Mr. Langdon.
Cenk Uygur, host of The Young Turks, interviews David DeGraw about the birth and evolution of Occupy Wall Street on its one year anniversary:
"This was about empowering a new generation to be leaders, to be engaged…. We have millions of people engaged in creating change that were not engaged and creating change a year ago…. Occupy globally is the big bang of humanity's next phase of evolution. It created this wild new ecosystem of mass transformation. Millions of people turned on, let out of the propaganda cage. The first step is that you have to open the prison door so people can come flying out and realize that we can change things. You say another world is possible. Now, another world is happening." ((Watch Video))