Friday, September 24, 2012. Chaos and violence continue, children are among the targeted today, Jalal Talabani's grooming his successor, State of Law's working on spin, the Iraqi government ignores violence to focus on finding a new flag and anthem, Stephen Harper's very, very unpopular, and much more.
Starting in Canada with The Hollow Man himself, Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
Ya think he's gonna bare his empty soul?
He never realized, the way loves dies
When you crucify its soul
-- "Heartless," written by Ann and Nancy Wilson, first appears on Heart's Magazine and the Wilson sisters new album, Fanatic, comes out next Tuesday, October 2nd
"It doesn't get any clearer that this," Mr. Marciniec said. "The risk that we've pointed out, of Iraq War resisters being punished as prisoners of conscience, isn't just risk. It's fact. Kim's case today proves that."
Mr. Marciniec also pointed out that two other Iraq war resisters who were deported in the past -- Robin Long and Clifford Cornell -- faced year-long jail sentences for desertion upon their return.
Rivera, who lived in Toronto with her family, came to Canada in 2007 to avoid further U.S. military service.
She has said she grew to oppose the Iraq war while she was taking part in it, and even stopped carrying her rifle with her.
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.
To all of this, Stephen Harper flipped the middle finger.
Who knew he had goodwill to waste? Turns out, he doesn't. Eric Grenier (Huffington Post Canada) reports, "With one in two Canadians having an unfavourable opinion of Stephen Harper, the New Democrats and Conservatives are now tied in the latest national poll. But the leaderless Liberals have suffered the most, dropping to their lowest level of support since immediately after the May 2011 election debacle." 1 in 2? That means fifty percent of Canadians surveyed disapprove of Harper. (Margin of error? It wasn't a random poll and has no margin of error.)
Others sounding off? In his letter to the Montreal Gazette, Vietnam war resister Lee Zaslofsky observes, "As a Canadian citizen who came to this country as a Vietnam War deserter in 1970, I am deeply distressed that our current government has broken with our best traditions and our noblest values by forcing Ms. Rivera to return to the United States to be punished for refusing to carry on fighting a war which she had found to be immoral." David C. Fox writes the Financial Post to wonder, "Why is it that 'mere foot soldiers' like Kimberly Rivera are going to jail for speaking out against a war based on non-existent weapons of mass destruction and false links to 9/11, when the leaders who took us to war are making millions on international book and speaking tours?" Charlie Diamond writes the Montreal Gazette editors, "But the best part of Mr. [Jack] Todd's article and my third thank you is his last sentence. 'It should be noted, however, that while Rivera and [Rodney] Watson served in Iraq and Watson is a decorated combat veteran, neither Harper, [Immigration Minister Jason] Kenney nor Defence Minister Peter MacKay ever served in the military." Lucia Kowaluk's letter notes, "Congratulations to Jack Todd for beaming yet another light on the failure of the Harper government to live up to the long-held traditions of a Canada respected in the world for positions taken precisely the opposite of the recent one: the deportation of Kimberly Rivera." Jesse McLaren tells the editors of the Financial Post, "In 2008, Stephen Harper admitted the Iraq War was 'absolutely an error,' yet he refuses to support the troops who came to the same conclusion. By deporting war resisters the government is deserting international law, Canadian tradition and democracy."
Jack Todd (Montreal Gazette) points out Harper's policies are a break with Canada's proud past, "It's a far cry from the precedent established under Liberal prime ministers Lester B. Pearson and Pierre Trudeau, who faced down the pressure exerted by U.S. presidents Lyndon Johnson and Richard M. Nixon to allow an estimated 100,000 American war resisters (this writer among them) to come to Canada during the Vietnam War. " To this day, the name Pierre Trudeau is known around the world -- as a good thing. Stephen Harper's ensuring that he's remembered, but far less fondly.
Moving to the US, Friday's snapshot noted the reports that the State Dept had made their (court-ordered) decision on the MEK and would be delisting it. It also included Victoria Nuland, State Dept spokesperson, refusing to confirm that but noting that a decision would be announced prior to the (court-ordered) deadline. It has rattled the unhinged.
But he gets a link -- for making me laugh louder than Glenn Glenn. TNR identifies him as a Princeton professor. He is that . . . right now, for the fall semester. But he's mainly a British journalist, a subject of the crown. So what the hell is this "our new Iran plan"? Our? Maybe TNR should stop outsourcing and find some citizens of the US if they want to feature commentaries about "our" plans? There is no "our" plans from the US State Dept for a British citizen to write about, the Revolutionary War kind of ensured that.
It's really something to watch all these crazies suddenly re-discover Iraq. They must feel like Chris Columbus -- watching old silent films and 'discovery' slapstick to 'homage' into 1990's Home Alone. They apparently hope you haven't been paying attention.
If you have been, you might call out a lot of them for their selective use of facts. Since the 1970s blah blah blah. The MEK wasn't on the terrorist list in the 1970s. Not during the Nixon administration, not during the Ford administration and not during the Carter administration. This is the period they were active against the US. We all are aware of that, right? That three different administrations had the opportunity to put them on the list and chose not to?
In the 80s, Reagan didn't put the MEK on the list. Nor did America's only President Bush -- George H.W. Bush. In fact, it's not until 1997 that the MEK makes the US terrorist list. Then-President Bill Clinton put them on it in a gesture towards friendly relations with Iran. Friendlier relations never came and maybe Bill was wrong to have done that to begin with? They've remained on the list since.
Was it right? Was it wrong? I don't pretend to know. But I do know the law so my concern is about the Camp Ashraf refugees getting safely out of Iraq. That's a concern most US citizens should have because the US government granted the residents protected persons status. Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) observed earlier this year that "since 2004, the United States has considered the residents of Camp Ashraf 'noncombatants' and 'protected persons' under the Geneva Conventions." That's a legal obligation. You can't shrug that off. Well you can but that means you're unethical. Changing the status means countries can take in the 3500 Camp Ashraf residents without fear of the US attacking them. (Yes, other countries do worry that the same US government urging them to take in Camp Ashraf refugees will, in the current administration or a new one, use the same residents as reason to attack. That's how low the US government's standing is in the world.)
But if you're going to talk MEK, speak honestly. (The unethical can't do so, I forget.) Should they be on the list or not? I don't really care but the frantic arguments from Glenn and his fellow padded cell cronies are dishonest. They want to insist that there was a State Dept report!!!! Was there? There were also multiple reports done by US commanders of the military. They were the ones doing the interacting, doing the questioning, doing the searches -- the US military. Not the US State Dept. I don't know why one report by the State Dept (during the Bully Boy Bush Occupation) would mean a damn thing to anyone to begin with. But when contrasted with multiple reports from the US military, I don't know why you'd cite that one State Dept report and ignore all the US military reports unless it was to deliberately misinform people?
The State Dept may or may not be making the change. If they are, it has more to do with concern over the fact that a court is watching their decission. (Quick, Conspiracy Guru Greenwald! Announce that the entire American judiciary has been bought off!) It has to do with the fact that the European Union took them off the terrorist list in January 2009. (I'm sure they were bought off too -- right, Crazy Glenn -- every last one!)
I guess if I were fiercely opposed to the de-listing but couldn't make a valid case for keeping them on the list, I'd stick to insinuations about pay offs as well.
Is is the right decision? I don't know. My concern is that the US government live up to their legal obligations with regards to Camp Ashraf residents. If Glenn and the other Three Faces of Eve had advocated on behalf of the residents, on behalf of international law, then maybe things would be turning out differently? Instead, they spent years ignoring international law and now they want to whine at the way things may be going down? Impotent and inneffective, I believe that describes them all.
And it certainly describes Nouri al-Maliki, thug and prime minister of the occupation. Iran's Press TV (where many of the outlets trashing the reported decision frequently appear) reports, "According to a statement issued on Sunday by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's office, the Iraqi government said that Washington's decision of delisting the MKO as a terrorist group would not change Baghdad's position toward the group 'which was involved in terrorist acts against Iraqis, in addition to its role in defending the former (Saddam Hussein) regime'." Iran's Fars News Agency adds, "The statement further said that Baghdad is determined to expel members of the terrorist organization from Camp Ashraf, and called on the United Nations to fulfill its commitment to resettle the group members outside Iraq."
Friday was International Peace Day. Al Mada notes that Iraq's Peace and Solidarity Council used the occasion to declare the Iraqi government was responsible for the deterioration in security throughout Iraq. AFP notes that Iraq current national anthem was selected in 2004 but that the government is now devoting to time to selecting a new one and a new flag. Press TV notes six potential anthems have been commissioned already including: "Salam ala Hadhabat al-Iraq" (Peace on the Hills of Iraq), "Ghareeb ala al-Khaleej" (A Stranger on the Gulf), and "Watani al-Haq Yuaiduhu" (My Country is Supported by Right). The interest in focusing on that comes after the Telegraph of London used the Olympics to make a nasty statement. From July 28th:
In other news, Alsumaria reports that the Telegraph of London has declared that Algeria and Iraq have the worst national anthems. The unsigned article in the Telegraph of London, ranks what they call the ten worst anthems -- Iraq comes in at number seven:
["]Iraq's national song, "My Homeland," comes from a poem written by Ibrahim Touquan, a Palestinian poet, in 1934. Reinstated in 2004 after a previous anthem reminded residents too much of Saddam Hussein's regime, the lyrics are rousing but the uanty melody underplays the seriousness of the message. ["]
AFP missed that insult. They also missed the 'reinstated' aspect. Prior to Saddam Hussien's rule in Iraq, "My Homeland" was used as the national anthem -- for decades.
While the government makes the choice to focus on new anthems and flags, violence continues in Iraq. All Iraq News notes a suicide car bombing in Hit targeting an elementary school in which 4 students were killed and five more people (most students) were injured. The UN News Centre quotes Martin Kobler, the UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy to Iraq, stating, "This is a shocking act of violence against the innocent. For schools to be attacked in a despicable crime and we are particularly distressed to learn that some of the victims were young children. Whether the school was intended as the target or not, no child should pay the price for violence carried out at the hands of criminals." Alsumaria adds the death toll has climbed to 5, that 3 of the were first graders and it was their first day at school, and that the number injured is six. Alsumaria also reports an attack on a military checkpoint in nothern Babylon Province that left 1 Iraqi solder dead and three more injured. Bahrain News Agency says three soldiers were killed. Alsumaria also notes a mortar attack in Nineveh Province left two soldiers injured, a Diyala Province roadside bombing injured a father and daughter, 1 young girl was kidnapped in Mosul, and1 five-year-old girl was kidnapped in Kirkuk.
Like the violence, the political stalemate and crisis continues. While they fret over flags and anthems, the government still, all these years later, has not passed an amnesty law. Al Mada reports today the latest hiccup is counterfeiting. Should counterfeiters be covered? It's time to 'debate' and 'explore. More likely it's time to think of another excuse to derail the position. A member of Parliament's Integrity Commission who speaks to Al Mada about the bill currently not including counterfeiting quickly launches into a conversation about how people must not be released quickly because there's no rehabilitation in Iraq -- which most likely means no process such as probation and parole and the MP is not insisting that Iraqis lack the ability to learn from actions. The amnesty bill was supposed to have become a law long, long ago. Al Mada noted on Sunday that the current bill's being in 'process' since 2008. As the broken down process remains stagnant, Alsumaria reports Iraqiya is stating the very least the government can do is start releasing those people who are innocent from the prisons.
Jalal will be hailed as "the good Kurd" to set him off from the others, used like a club to clobber the other Kurdish leaders who will be known as "the bad Kurds." Then Jalal hails Nouri's 'leadership' and praises his 'plan' and then, look, these others won't go along and POOF! all the past has vanished and all the Iraqi people know is that Jalal and Nouri are in agreement -- a Kurd and Shi'ite! -- so everyone should be!
Reality, Nouri and Jalal are almost always in agreement. With the exception of his participation in the April 2012 meet-up and his advocating for a no-confidence vote, Jalal's always been on Nouri's side. What appeared to be a change of heart in April 2012 really looks now like Jalal participated with the intent of de-railing anything that might happen so Nouri would be safe. (And considering how he stabbed Moqtada, Ayad Allawi, Massoud Barzani and others in the back at the end of May as he refused to forward the legitimate petition onto the Parliament, it really looks like Jalal came into that meeting to spy.)
As part of the efforts to spin, Al Mada reports Nouri's State of Law is saying that Iraqiya is trying to derail a national conference. For their spin campaign to work, everyone has to be really stupid and forget that, since December 21st when the Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi first called for a national conference, State of Law has repeatedly resisted, thrown up road blocks and insisted that a 'reform committee' could handle it. (How's that paper from the reform committee coming?)
Friday, KRG President President Massoud Barzani addressed the World Conference in Rome. He noted that the Kurdistan Democracy Party (his political party) was founded in 1946 and that the party supports equality, social justice and diversity. He spoke of the KRG Parliament which has 111 members, from 11 political parties, 33% of the members are women. The people are free to be Muslim, Christians and Yezidis. He noted the exodus from centeral Iraq to the KRG since 2003 and the success the region has in terms of security and business. All Iraq News states he also made remarks about how the KRG will not live under a dictatorial regime and that the Iraqi government must comply with the Constitution.
Meanwhile, it's time for the annual pilgrimage by an Iraqi official to the United Nations to beg that Iraq be taken out of Chapter VII. Nouri was planning to make the pitch this year but, Al Mada reports, he's now decided not to go to New York because the White House has refused to arrange a face-to-face with Nouri while he is in the US. This is seen as an insult. (It may just be that October is a serious campaign month for the US presidential election and Barack will also be taking part in three debates that month.)
Jalal remains in his home town receiving visitors. All Iraq News reports Ahmed Chalabi visited him today. And they note Nechirvan Mustafa also met with Jalal. Alsumaria says they'd hadn't spoken in four years. Meanwhile, Jalal's successor is being groomed. Al Rafidayn reports Barham Salih is wooing the US government in an attempt to get their support to be the next president of Iraq. The 52-year-old Kurd is a member of Jala's political party (Patriotic Union of Kurdistan) and was prime minister of the KRG from September 2009 through the middle of January 2012.
But the Obama administration says that after a pause, Baghdad allowed the flights to resume in July. Since then, every American official to visit Iraq has made the case that the arms shipments must stop, according to Robert Beecroft, the new ambassador to Baghdad. On Friday, Vice President Joseph Biden Jr. stepped up the pressure with a telephone call to Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki. Given Iraq's recalcitrance, Senator John Kerry, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, was right to warn last week that American aid could be reconsidered if Iraq failed to change course.
Perhaps to address the mounting criticism, Iraqi officials may be altering their stance. On Friday, Reuters reported that Iraq had denied permission for a North Korean plane bound for Syria to use its airspace. On Saturday, an Iraqi government spokesman said authorities will start searching Syrian-bound Iranian planes if they have reason for suspicion.
Meanwhile Michael R. Gordon (New York Times) examines what really happened in Iraq in 2010 and 2011 as the White House made deals about Iraq's government and as it tried to press a deal for US troops to remain in Iraq in significant numbers beyond 2011:
The attempt by Mr. Obama and his senior aides to fashion an extraordinary power-sharing arrangement between Mr. Maliki and Mr. Allawi never materialized. Neither did an agreement that would have kept a small American force in Iraq to train the Iraqi military and patrol the country's skies. A plan to use American civilians to train the Iraqi police has been severely cut back. The result is an Iraq that is less stable domestically and less reliable internationally than the United States had envisioned.
The story of these efforts has received little attention in a nation weary of the conflict in Iraq, and administration officials have rarely talked about them. This account is based on interviews with many of the principals, in Washington and Baghdad.
Gordon details the effort to get Jalal Talabani to step down as president so Ayad Allawi could be president and how Jalal blew off Barack (who made the request in a personal call).
I am writing you to say thank you for your very generous support of Cheri and me in our campaign, and also to give you some exciting updates.
We've been on a roll – qualifying for federal matching funds, getting on 85% of the ballots, raising nearly $500,000 (please donate to build on that!), winning unprecedented media coverage, and receiving a hero's welcome on the campaign trail:
speeches before the Veterans for Peace Convention and at Fighting Bob Fest,
and much more.
For the first ten months of our campaign, we poured the vast majority of our campaign resources into the fight to get on the ballot. We worked tirelessly to defend your right to vote for the candidate of your choice.
But now, in our eleventh month, we can say with pride that 85% of voters will see my name on the ballot. And now --right now-- is the time to this opportunity we've all created and to run an all out campaign to raise the spirits and win the voters of Americans.
We are already showing up in the polls, rising 2.1% in the last couple weeks - that's 2.5 million voters! Imagine how these numbers will rise when we are in full swing, reaching out to the tens of millions of students, workers, occupiers, unemployed, uninsured, immigrants, and advocates for peace, climate, civil liberties and racial justice who are looking for a real choice in this election that's not bought and paid for by Wall Street.
Nearly half of eligible voters are predicted to sit out the election this year because they don't support either Obama or Romney. That's because they haven't heard about us yet.
Please help us raise our voices by making a contribution to our general election campaign. I am asking everyone who has already contributed to make a donation of the same size or larger than your contribution during the primary. And I am challenging everyone who has yet to donate to make a first-time donation right now. If you do that, we'll have the resources needed to get the word out, and harness the winds of this perfect storm for political transformation.
Here's an added incentive. We qualified for matching funds in the primary. But during the general election, there is an even bigger, indirect match that kicks in if we boost our vote on November 6th to at least 5% of the total. Winning 5% of the vote in November will unleash a $20,000,000 grant from the public treasury for the next presidential election.
If we can raise as much in the next seven weeks as we did in the primary, about $450,000, that will allow us to run the full-fledged campaign that has a shot at 5% of the vote. If we raise $450,000, we can hire the staff to organize our thousands of volunteers to get the word out, we can resume our TV ad campaign, we can mobilize the vast networks waiting to hear about our campaign, and we can build the grass roots organization for the Green Party politics of integrity for the long haul.
Think about it. Raising another $450,000 now could mean getting 40 times as much money for the next general election. That is a 40:1 return on every dollar of your contribution!
By making a generous contribution now – at this time of urgent need and breath-taking possibility – you help fulfill the potential of this campaign and the Green Party to transform our future.
Please help turn this breaking point into a tipping point to take back the promise of democracy and the peaceful just green future we deserve. Go to JillStein.org to contribute, or send a check made out to Jill Stein for President to P.O. Box 260217, Madison, WI 53726-0217. Thank you for standing up for people, peace and the planet!