Monday, September 03, 2012

Nouri's never ending pass

So what kind of human rights are observed in the "new Iraq"? Hardly any. The list of abuses is long and the tip of the iceberg is waves of arbitrary arrests (over 1,000 monthly), torture and executions. All are barely noticed by the world media and the US and British official silence is rather convenient to cover up the crimes and chaos they created. From time to time, they break their silence but only to justify their act of aggression. Recently, when Archbishop Desmond Tutu pulled out of a seminar in protest over the presence of Tony Blair, a statement was issued by Blair's office to justify the morality of his decision to support the United States' military invasion of Iraq.
The statement reiterated the plight of Iraqis under Saddam's regime with no mention whatsoever of the hundreds of thousands of victims of the war and endemic abuses of human rights since 2003.
The Nouri al-Maliki government in Iraq with its human rights outfits is following the same path. Its human rights concerns remain focused on the crimes of the previous regime. So do most of the intellectuals and politicians involved in the scramble for seats and favours in Baghdad. People who for years before the invasion of 2003 were highlighting human rights abuses as a reason to invoke war as a prelude to democracy and transparency are now either totally silent or actively covering up the current abuses, despite glaring evidence from international human rights organisations.

The above is from Haifa Zangana's "Why is Iraq now immune from criticism over appalling human rights record?" (Guardian).  Nouri's Iraq, no improvement at all despite the lies and justifications of Tony Blair.  In addition to the 26 executed last week in Iraq (96 for the year), Al Rafidayn notes the Minister of Justice announced today that there are 5 Saudis about to be put to death.

Alsumaria notes a Nineveh Province bombing injured a local city council member and his wife, a Kirkuk roadside bombing injured two brothers, 1 corpse was discovered outside of Kirkuk and 1 judge was killed in an Anbar Province attack.

They wanted US Vice President Joe Biden but only got a Near Eastern Affairs assistant from State.  All Iraq News reports Nouri met today with Elizabeth Jones and stated he needs help equipping the military while Jones stressed Syria.  Zangana wonders why Iraq keeps getting a pass?  Because the White House only gives a damn about Syria.  They want war and they will roll around in bed with any despot to get that war.

The August 27th snapshot included:

From equal playing fields to unequal ones,  Ayad al-Tamimi (Al Mada) reports the city of Kadhimiya is moving to prevent any woman from entering the city unless she is covered by a veil and that a group known as the morality police are following men and women in the city who were the hair 'differently' and that they stop women without veils and force them to put on veils -- they also force women wearing make up to remove it.  Force?  At least one woman has been beaten by the 'morality police.'  Raman Brosk (AKnews) notes that despite local press insisting this new law on the veil was passed by both the local government and the Baghdad Provincial Council, the provinice is stating, via the head of their legal committee Subbar al-Saadi, "Baghdad Provincial Council did not issue such a resolution.  A decision was issued to wear a head scarf or abaya inside the holy courtyard in the religious shrines in Kadhimiya, Najaf, Karbala or Samurra."

Today Anna Edwards (Daily Mail) reports:

In the last two weeks, posters and banners have been hanging along the streets of Kazimiyah, sternly reminding women to wear an abaya - a long, loose black cloak that covers the body from shoulders to feet.
A similar warning came from Diwaniyah, a Shiite city about 130 kilometers (80 miles) south of the capital, where some posters have daubed a bright red X over pictures of women wearing pants.
Other banners praise women who keep their hair fully covered beneath a headscarf.

AP carries the story as its own here and here.

The political stalemate continues in Iraq and, despite the fact that provincial elections are supposed to take place in March of next year, Al Mada reports a new electoral commission has still not been chosen so Parliament has yet again extended the terms of the commissioners (this time for 15 days).

Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "The Needed Extension" went up yesterday as did Kat's "Kat's Korner: Susanna Hoffs and Joss Stone, who can figure it out?" and Kat's "Kat's Korner: Animal Collective goes instinctual" went up earlier today and she's got another music piece that goes up after this entry.  Lastly,  Jill Stein is the Green Party's presidential candidate and her campaign notes:

Opinion article issued for Labor Day, 2012, by Jill Stein. A PDF version of this statement is available by clicking here. Photo at right is of Philly labor leader Jim Moran speaking with Cheri Honkala and Jill Stein. I welcome and endorse the AFL-CIO's campaign to finally fulfill President Roosevelt's 1944 call for a second, Economic Bill of Rights, including the rights to jobs, living wages, labor unions, voting rights, health care, education, and retirement security. As the Green Party candidate for President, my Green New Deal platform already has specific proposals to secure these rights.
  • Jobs: Employ the unemployed in public works projects and federally-supported community-controlled cooperatives and other enterprises; create 25 million green and public service jobs.
  • Living Wages: Raise the federal minimum wage to a living wage.
  • Labor Law Reforms: Repeal the anti-labor Taft-Hartley Act, outlaw permanent striker replacements, and authorize majority card check union recognition.
  • Voting Rights: Pass the Right To Vote Amendment to establish an affirmative constitutional right to vote and accurate vote counting.
  • Corporate Power: Pass a constitutional amendment to repeal the corrupting court-ordered doctrines that corporations are people and money is speech and establish that corporations and election campaign finance can be regulated
  • Health Care: Enact single-payer Medicare for All.
  • Education: Forgive student debt and provide tuition-free public education from pre-school through graduate school.
  • Retirement Security: Eliminate the cap on Social Security taxes for high incomes in order to secure Social Security's indefinite fiscal sustainability.
The AFL-CIO leadership are demanding that the two corporate-financed parties, the Democrats and Republicans, adopt the Economic Bill of Rights in their platforms at their conventions this year. They must know this is a lost cause with the openly anti-union Republicans. They should know that a real commitment to an Economic Bill of Rights is as much a lost cause with the Democrats, who have taken labor's political support for granted for many decades with no significant pro-labor reforms to show for it.

If they didn't know that, it should have been clear on August 11 when a 40,000-strong AFL-CIO sponsored rally in Philadelphia called for the Economic Bill of Rights. The rally heard by video from President Obama, who made no mention of the Economic Bill of Rights. Meanwhile, in Detroit, the platform committee of the Democratic National Convention put the final touches on the platform to be adopted over Labor Day week that has no planks to secure any of these economic rights.

The great victories of labor have always been won by independent actions that pressured the political establishment to make concessions. The landmark National Labor Relations Act, which finally established workers' right to collectively bargain, was adopted in 1935 under the pressure of independent labor political action in the factories, shops, and streets by the ascendant union movement and in the electoral arena in the form of many union resolutions calling for a labor party. The labor party resolutions had credibility because the labor-backed Farmer-Labor and Progressive parties in the Upper Midwest already had two governors, three Senators, and 12 Representatives in their camp in 1935 and they were considering an independent presidential campaign in 1936.

But after the AFL rejected the labor party and went into the Democratic Party in 1936, labor lost its independent vision and its leverage in the political system.  It was now part of a coalition dominated by big business.

The anti-labor Taft-Hartley Act passed in 1947 with majority support of the Democratic majority in Congress. Every attempt at labor law reform since then has failed when there was a Democratic President with Democratic majorities in both Houses of Congress.

  • Under Truman in 1949, the Democrats failed to repeal Taft-Hartley in 1949.
  • Under Johnson in 1965 and 1966, the Democrats twice failed to repeal Section 14b of Taft-Hartley, the section that enabled states to outlaw union shops (so-called “right-to-work” laws).
  • Under Carter in 1977 and 1978, the Democrats failed to pass one bill that would have repealed the Taft-Hartley prohibition on solidarity picketing at construction sites and another bill to reform the National Labor Relations Board whose long delays and inconsequential employer sanctions had made it a shield for union-busting.
  • Under Clinton in 1993, the Democrats failed to pass a ban on permanent striker replacements.
  • Under Obama in 2009-2010, the Democrats failed to pass the Employee Free Choice Act for majority card check union recognition. Worse, unlike any previous period of Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress, the Democrats failed to even bring the bill to a vote.
The AFL-CIO leadership has taken a small step toward independence by saying they will not give money directly to Democratic committees and candidates but instead spend it “independently” on their behalf.  Unfortunately, this often means supporting the very same Democrats who are collaborating with the anti-worker forces that dominate Washington. The words “political independence” are just that --words-- that have no power unless it involves running labor candidates who can challenge both corporate parties.

Imagine if labor had spent the over $15 billion they spent on the Democrats over the last 40 years instead building an independent labor party and movement. Today we would have scores of labor party organizers in every state supporting a broadly based party of the working class majority. We would have blocks of independent labor representatives in municipal, county, state, and the national legislatures. We would have a national labor daily newspaper and labor networks on radio and cable. The two corporate financed parties would no longer monopolize U.S. politics. Democrats like Obama would not dare to force new free trade treaties upon workers. Badly needed labor reforms would be back on the table. And halting the decline of real wages and living standards would suddenly be more of a priority than protecting the big Wall Street banks.

The labor movement in every other industrial nation has formed its own party that is independent of corporate money and control. They have been able to organize the working class majority to take political power, exercise it for the benefit of the working class majority, and secure economic rights, including universal health care, affordable public transit, free public college education, secure pensions, four to six weeks of paid vacation for all workers, paid maternity and family sick leave, and labor laws that protect their rights to organize and strike.

Labor has suffered a crushing series of political defeats in recent years and continuing a losing strategy is clearly unthinkable. It is time to practice the politics of courage rather than the politics of appeasement. Labor unions must offer reliable support to labor candidates running against both the corporate parties. And rank-and-file workers do not have to wait for the leadership to disentangle themselves from establishment politics. They can vote this year for Green Party candidates who refuse corporate funding and are campaigning for a Green New Deal that already incorporates the Economic Bill of Rights. Vote by vote, we can raise the voices of working people until we have overcome the corporate domination of politics, and set our country on a progressive course.

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