Thursday, October 23, 2008

Iraq snapshot

Thursday, October 23, 2008.  Chaos and violence continue, Iraq needs help or doesn't (the State Dept is confused), leave it to Amy Goodman to screw up Ehren Watada's story, the 'coalition' continues to shrink, and more.
Tuesday's snapshot started with independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader because Ralph getting network attention is news.  Today's snapshot starts with Governor Sarah Palin, the Republican Party's vice presidential nominee, from a speech she gave Tuesday in Henderson, Nevada.
A couple of people I would like you to meet, a couple of my kids, three of them who are here, we have Willow and Piper and Trig Palin. So glad to have them on the trail with me.  Alright, Nevada.  Now John McCain and I, we take your state motto so seriously: "All for country."  And let's take a moment to honor the Americans in this crowd who have put our country first those of you who have served in the past as veterans or you're serving today, if you could raise your hands, let us honor you guys, we thank you so much.  Thank you.  We do thank you for your service and for your sacrifice.  We owe you.  Thank you, sir.  Thank you.   
Okay, so we are here near UNLV's campus.  The home of the Runnin' Rebels.  It's great to be here as part of a team that has a kinship with them.  And John and I, though we don't call ourselves the Runnin' Rebels, we consider ourselves a team of mavericks and we do share that unique spirit though and I hope that we can count on you to put the maverick of the Senate in the White House November 4th.  We need your vote, Nevada. Are you ready to help carry your state to victory?  Are you ready to make John McCain the next president of the United States of America? Are you ready to send us to Washington to shake things up?  Thank you.
And today I have another question that is especially for the women in this audience and all across our great country, all you women, yes: "Are you ready to break the highest, hardest glass ceiling in America?" 
Now it is such an honor for me today to have up here on stage some very independent, very courageous, very accomplished women and I am so honored to get to introduce you to these women who have broken a few glass ceilings of their own and I ask you gals to stand up here as I introduce you.  First, Prameela Bartholomeusz, a small business owner and a member of the Democratic National Platform Committee.  She's with us today.  Thank you.  It is my honor to have with us also Linda Klinge, the former Oregon president and now vice president of the National Organization of Women.  She's with us here today! And Shelley Mandell, president of the Los Angeles chapter of the National Organization of Women, here with us today!  And Lynn Rothschild also.  You may have seen her on television a whole lot lately.  She is a member of the Democratic Platform Committee.  She is with us here today.  And Elaine Lafferty, a former editor in chief of Ms. magazine.  They are here today to endorse the McCain-Palin campaign.  We're honored.  We are proud.  And I thank them for their confidence, for their support, especially for their courage.  Thank you so much.  Thank you, thank you. 
Our opponents think that they have the women's vote all locked up which is a little presumptuous.  Little presumptuous since only our side has a woman on the ticket. So.  We won't ignore any of the men in the audience but again this is for the women in the audience here.  When it came time for choosing, somehow Barack Obama just couldn't bring himself to pick the woman who got 18 million votes in his primary.  And that seems to be too familiar a story, isn't it?  That, uh, how it is for so many American women that the qualifications are there but for some reason the promotion never comes.  There is always some long explanation for why they got passed over or some unseen barrier, some excuse and that's just one of the things that I so admire about John McCain: He is not someone who makes excuses.   
You've got to ask yourself why wasn't Senator Hillary Clinton  even vetted by the Obama campaign?  Why did it take 24 years, an entire generation, from the time Geraldine Ferraro made her pioneering bid until the next time that a woman was asked to join a national ticket.  In the long history of our country, 74 people have held the position of president or vice president and why have the major parties given America only two chances to even consider a woman for either office?  88 years after women gained the right to vote and 83 years after Nellie Tayloe Ross of Wyoming became the first woman governor in our great nation and 60 years after Margaret Chase Smith was elected to the Senate this glass ceiling it -- it is still there.  But it's about time that we shattered that glass ceiling once and for all.  See -- see there is a difference, there is a difference between what Barack Obama says and what he does and his primary opponent wasn't the first one to notice this.
Out on the stump he talks a good game about equal pay for equal work but, according to the Senate payroll records, women on his own staff get just 83 cents for every dollar that the men get.  That's 9,000 dollars less every year that he pays the guys. And you gotta ask what is with that? Does he think that the women aren't working as hard?  Does he think that they are 17 percent less productive?  And Barack Obama can't say that this is just the way that its always been done around the Capitol because I know one senator who actually does pay women equal wages for equal work: Senator John McCain. 
See this is just another reason why American women -- Democrat, Republican, independent -- should not let Barack Obama just take their votes for granted.  And let me give you a few more reasons starting with his plan to, as he puts it, spread the wealth around.  That is how our opponent defended his so-called tax cut to Joe the plumber the other day.  Or Wendy the plumber's daughter, there you go.  Now that spreading the wealth around really is just a scheme for income distribution.  Joe didn't buy it.  Joe the plumber, he would have none of that.  He called him on it.  In fact, he said that he sure thought that sounded like socialism.  Joe the plumber. 
And the rest of us shouldn't buy it either -- especially the millions of women in America who own small businesses.  Women start as many new businesses as men start and they are entrepreneurs, trying to make a better life for themselves and for their families.  And trying to make payroll for their employees.  They're women, just like Irma Aguirre is her name.  She owns a restaurant close by.  She dreamed for years of owning her own restaurant and she made it just a year ago.  Irma, she owns the La Madonna Mexican Restaurant, right here in Las Vegas.  She employs 20 people.  And she's exactly the kind of small business owner whose taxes would go way up under the Obama tax plan.  And the health care fines and the mandates that our opponent would impose aren't gonna help her much either.  They're gonna force her to let employees go if they are too high and they could even put her out of business.  And our opponents thinks he's got problems with Joe the plumber?  Well he should talk to Irma the restaurant owner because she's voting for John McCain too.  
The working women of this country -- those who work inside the home and outside of the home -- they're overlooked by politicians in Washington and Barack Obama hasn't given us a single reason to believe that he would be any better.  A company's balance sheet tallies up just the same whether it's a man who owns the business or a woman.  And women want the same opportunities as men.  And they're entitled to the same rewards.  See, the point here, the point here is that women would suffer just as much from the massive tax increase that Senator Obama proposes.  And, you know, there are a lot of families in this country with no father present.  And when we make laws in Washington, those laws need to understand that --  they need to serve the mothers who are taking care of their families. 
I've been very, very blessed to have a husband who's supported me along the way.  He's a great dad who doesn't disappear at bath time or run from diaper duty and I appreciate that.  But a lot of women have it much, much harder than I've had it.  And they need child care -- which today can cost some families a third of their household budget.  And they need reforms in labor laws that allow greater flexibility in the workplace, including more telecommuting.  And they need a tax code that doesn't penalize working families.  They need health care that the family can take with them when they move or change jobs.  And they need better choices in retirement plans and worker retraining when things get tough.  Women also need equal pay for equal work -- and not just be a 'talking point'.
Really, it is that simple.  It's a matter of fundamental fairness -- fairness in this country.  And to make all this happen, working mothers need an advocate and they will have one when this working mother is working for all of you in the White House.  
When I was a kid, Congress passed a law that's come to be known as Title IX.  And that law allowed millions of girls to play sports.  And over time -- and over time, that opened more than just the doors to the gymnasium.  Along with other reforms, Title IX helped us to see ourselves and our futures a different way.  Women of my generation were allowed finally to make more of our own choices with education and with career, and I have never forgotten that we owe that opportunity to women, to feminists, who came before us.  We were allowed to be participants instead of just spectators on the achievements of others.  And I was lucky to have a lot of support at home too.  Now among the many things I owe my parents is one simple lesson, and that was this is America and every woman can walk through every door of opportunity.  The belief in equal opportunity is not just the cause of feminists, it's the creed of our country: equal opportunity.  
And if I'm given the honor of serving you in the White House, I intend to advance that creed in our own nation and beyond because, across the world, there are still places where women are subjugated and persecuted as they were in Afghanistan, places where they're bullied and brutalized and murdered in honor killings, places where women are sold like commodities in the nightmare world of the sex trade, and places where baby girls are unwelcome as a matter of state policy and their mothers are forced to have abortions.  Now no one person, no one leader, can bring an end to all of those ills, to all of the injustices inflicted upon women, but I can promise you this, if I am elected, these women, too, will have an advocate and a defender in the 47th vice president of the United States.   
John McCain and I will be strong advocates for women's rights right here in the United States and around the world and we will confront the challenges that our country faces, challenges that concern all Americans.    
There are approximately ten more minutes of the speech.  You can click here to view it at The Confluence, here to view it at Reclusive Leftist
Yesterday's snapshot included the news that US District Judge Judge Benjamin Settle ruled Lt. Ehren Watada could not be retried on three of the five charges.  Watada was the first officer to publicly refuse to deploy to the illegal war (June 2006).  William Cole (Honolulu Advertiser) speaks with one of Ehren's civilian attorneys, Jim Lobsenz, who explains, "I'm pretty confident that some day, we will prevail in getting all of these charges thrown out. We've got three different arguments now on these two remaining charges.  Which one of those arguments the court is ultimately going to latch on to as the one that says, 'You are right,' I don't know.  But we have three, and I think they are all strong arguments."  Cole also has a comment from Ehren's mother Carolyn Ho, "I think Ehren sees his decision as a personal one, and that he had to do something that was consistent with his conscience.  So it can't be a function of what the masses think -- whether they vote yea or nay on what his decision is."  KGMB9 News reports that Watada could "be discharged from the army without further prosecution" and that "[u]ntil the final two charges are cleared up, Watada is on desk duty at Ft. Lewis in Washington."  KITV provides a brief summary as well as links to past coverage going back to 2006.  And Amy Goodman of Pravda on the Hudson bungled Ehren's story yet again, claiming today:
In Washington State, a federal judge has ruled the military can't retry Ehren Watada, the first Army officer to refuse to deploy to Iraq.
No, Goody, the ruling was the Watada could not be retried on three of the five charges. 
US District Judge Benjamin Settle says a second court-martial would violate Watada's right against double-jeopardy.
On those three charges.
His first court-martial ended in a mistrial.  He had faced up to six years in prison.
And the two remaining charges could result "at most" in "one to two years" according to his attorney Jim Lobsenz. But never let facts interfere with Amy Goodman's propaganda especially when she's so busy being a gutter-snipe gossip (check out her second item -- just as Wally and Cedric feared last night) she can't get facts for real news correct.
In Iraq the so-called coalition of the willing gets smaller and smaller.  RIA Novosti reports that Kazakhstan withdrew their soldiers Tuesday ("29 sappers and engineers").  While the 'coalition' continues to shrink, US Secretary of State Condi Rice spent the day making multiple statements seemingly at odds with another and at odds with events in Iraq today.  This morning, Reuters reported, Rice was headed to Mexico and stated that Iraq's security forces are unable to secure their country at present and, while she said "gains . . . have been made," she added, "But I don't think that anybody believes that they are capabel of doing that alone right now."  Rice made those comments in an argument for Iraq signing off on the treaty masquerading as a Status Of Forces Agreement.  Iraq is not ready?  Events seem to disagree.  CBS and AP report that the province of Babil was turned over to Iraqi forces today and it "is the 12th of 18 Iraqi provinces to be handed over and a sign of improving security."  In fairness to Condi, it is a for-show handover but she knows that and knows how important the administration sees the publicity factor in these for-show gestures.  So on the one hand, Rice says Iraq's not ready and on the other they're handed over control of another province.  A province, that David Blair (Telegraph of London) notes, is known as the "Triangle of Death."  Corinne Reilly (McClatchy Newspapers) adds, "A statement by the U.S. Embassy here called Thursday's handover 'a positive step on the path to Iraq's self-reliance'."  But we're not done.  Rice, still in Mexico, had another pronouncement by day's end.   AP reports that she stated, "I think the Iraqis can defend their interests without the Iranians thank you very much -- that hasn't been the happiest relationship, ever."  Were Rice having a 90s flashback, she would have said "thank you very much" with an arm wind-up and snap.  But Iraq's not ready to defend itself she argues this morning.  Then a province is handed over to Iraqi control.  Then she states that Iraqi -- which she says needs help -- does not need Iranian help.  It's been a very confusing day for the State Dept.
Robert Wood was over today's press briefing in DC. Wood stuck to ""We have a good text . . ."  while also noting, "Sorry I don't have much more of an update, but that's really where we are."  Alaa Majeed (UPI) reports that the treaty was "featured in many Iraqi newspapers" today including Al-Basaer newspaper which leads with "More than 1 million protest the shameful SOFA" in Iraq and: "The Iraqi people see the Status of Forces Agreement as a mandate for the continued occupation of their country. Iraqi lawmakers should heed the voice of the people and speak out against the agreement, the newspaper said.  The protesters have demanded Iraqi lawmakers oppose the measures in the agreement that allow U.S. forces to establish permanent military bases in the country and move swiftly against the measure before Americans elect their next president."  AP reports that England is butting in with Bill Rammel (Middle East Minister) declaring in London today that Iraq needs to approve the treaty with the US and with Great Britain -- of course, England's his own area of supposed concern and expertise.  Equally alarmist is the Financial Times of London which offers an editorial that attempts to shame Iraq into signing off on the treaty. For real motivation, FT hurls some insults, "More generally, this long occupation has infantilised Iraqi politics. It has thrown up dozens of mini Saddam Husseins playing zero sum games in an all-or-nothing fight for power and spoils. That is the question to be addressed, by the Iraqis and regional patrons of their different factions, as well as by the US."  True, but the periodical hasn't been overly concerned about that for the last five years.  The UN mandate expires December 31st and provides the authorization for foreign troops on Iraqi soil.  Alissa J. Rubin and Katherine Zoepf (New York Times) reported this morning that Russia has declared it would not use its veto power as a (permanent) member of the UN Security Council should Iraq seek to renew the mandate.  Only the five permanent members have veto power and the press has repeatedly voiced concerns on the part of the administration that Russia might attempt to prevent a renewal.  Russia is now on record saying it would not do so.  The five permanent members on the Security Council are France, UK, China, Russia and the US.  So is the fear now China?  If not, why is this avenue not being pursued at a time when US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and others in the administration are stooping to publicly bullying their puppet government in Iraq?
In Baghdad today, Corinne Reilly and Jenan Hussein (McClatchy Newspapers) report on a car bombing targeting "a government convoy" of Labor Minister Mahmoud al Radhi this morning.  The Telegraph of London explains the attack occurred during rush hour traffic and the bombing "left a four-wheel-drive vehicle burned out and the charred hulk of the apparent car bomb surrounded.  The windows of nearby shops were shattered."  Sources differ on whether or not al Rahdi was present but, if he was present, he wasn't harmed.  (Use links and here's another claiming he wasn't present). Peter Graff (Reuters) reports al Rahdi was present and adds "A Reuters television cameraman in the vicinity filmed the blast but an Iraqi soldier confiscated his videotape.  The cameraman, about 150 metres (yards) away at the time of the explosion, saw a car slam into a convoy of six or seven four-wheel-drive vehicles and explode in a ball of flame near Tahrir square in central Baghdad. Police and bodyguards in the convoy opened fire after the blast. Several vehicles crashed and others sped away."  The death toll is said to be 11 with twenty-two more people wounded.  Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports the death toll is 13.
In other reported violence . . .
Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports Mohammed Abu Atra ("head of the Diwaniyah Facility Protection Service") died of a Baghdad bombing today and a Baquba roadside bombing left thirteen injured.  Reuters notes a Baijia roadside bombing claimed the lives of 2 police officers.
Reuters notes 1 person was shot dead in Kut by "Interior Ministry special forces" and another injured.
As the crisis in Mosul continues with Christians having fled and not feeling they can return, the Archbishop of Kirkuk Louis Sako pens a request (Asia News) which includes:
I think that there is a political motive behind all this violence. 
This campaign to drive out the Christians could conceal benefits of a political nature ahead of the upcoming elections in January of 2009, and the controversy over the approval of the provincial election law. The current law eliminates the quota reserved by tradition for Christians (and other minorities). Intimidating them and driving them out goes hand in hand with denying them representation. But the hypothesis cannot be excluded that the violence against the faithful also serves to reinforce the proposal for a Christian enclave in the plane of Nineveh. 
We forcefully ask for government intervention to protect all Iraqis in difficulty, but above all the Christians, who are currently the most vulnerable. This is also a responsibility of the forces of occupation. 
We are calling for the intervention of the international community to protect the minorities in Iraq, especially in the upcoming provincial elections. And we ask with particular urgency for the intervention of the United Nations and the European Union, that they call upon the Baghdad government to respect minorities in the upcoming elections. 
The Iraqi parliament has approved a law that does not recognize the rights of minorities. This will lead to the definitive destruction of ethnic and religious minorities in this country, and will accelerate the exodus of the Christians. 
We ask the Christians of the West not to be concerned solely about stock markets and the economy, but to denounce every form of violence and demonstrate solidarity and fellowship with us. 
Meanwhile Lebanon's Daily Star reports that the country's Speaker of Parliament Nabih Berri declared today that, "We are sure that the Christians in Iraq, as well as the Muslims, are the victims of conspiracies and sectarian strife aiming to weaken the country and split it apart.  What our brotherly Christians in Baghdad, Mosul and the Nineveh Plains have been exposed to, from persecution to killing and displacement, has bled our hearts and wounded our souls.  It has made us realize that our dear Iraq is still living in a state of concern about its fate."  Also the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Syrian representative Lauren Jolles declared, "Many Christians from Mosul have been systematically targeted recently and are no longer safe there.  We are ready to provide support for those Iraqis that seek refuge in neighbouring countries.  We are grateful that Syria continues to welcome refugees."  UNHCR has compiled a number of refugee accounts including a nurse ("Nina") who explains that she feld two weeks ago after the violence incrased and following threats which continued ("phone calls, letters and even messages on our door") for months.
Meanwhile Ben Leubsdorf (AP) notes that Ahmed Kousay al-Taie is the only US service member classified as "missing in the current Iraq war" and that he's been missing since October 23, 2006.  Two years ago today.  One day and one year ago is when Riverbend (Baghdad Burning) last blogged.  Like many Iraqis, Riverbend and her family had to leave their country due to the violence.  When she last blogged, October 22, 2007, her family was in Syria. Riverbend is part of the over 4,7 million internal and external Iraqi refugees produced by this illegal war.
Turning to the US presidential race, Ralph Nader is the independent presidential candidate, Matt Gonzalez is his running mate.  Team Nader notes:
We're less than two weeks out.
As of yesterday, Ralph has campaigned in all 50 states.
Media exposure is picking up.
Crowds are getting bigger at the Nader rallies.
Last night, Ralph spoke before a packed crowd of over 1,000 in Boulder, Colorado.
Starting Monday, our radio ads will be playing in key states around the country.
On Saturday, Ralph will go for the world record for most campaign stops in a day as he motors across Massachusetts, hitting 21 towns and cities.
And tonight, Ralph will participate in a Third Party debate that will be shown live on C-Span at 9 p.m. EST.
We're firing on all cylinders.
And as of this writing, we're just $70,000 shy of meeting our goal of $200,000 by tomorrow night.
So, please, donate now whatever you can afford -- $5, $10, $50, $100 -- up to the legal limit of $2,300.
Or, if you haven't purchased our Nader '08 Buffalo T-Shirt (men's or women's), please do so now.
Yesterday, late at night, the Nader Media Team pulled together a new video featuring National Campaign Coordinator Jason Kafoury.
Jason updates you -- our loyal supporters -- on where we stand -- and where we're heading.
We haven't missed a deadline yet this year.
Let's get it done.
Onward to November
Nader to Attempt Guinness World Record on Saturday: Massachusetts Marathon, Most Speeches in 24-Hours

This Saturday, Ralph Nader will hold campaign events in 21 cities across Massachusetts in an attempt to set a sanctioned Guinness World Record to give the most speeches in a 24-hour time period. The minimum threshold he must meet is 15. He is scheduled to deliver over 315 minutes of speeches and drive over 365 miles. Each speech will last at least 10 minutes and will tackle a separate issue.

Nader/Gonzalez campaign events are scheduled to be held in the following cities:

Boston, Cambridge, Belmont, Somerville, Medford, Arlington, Lexington, Concord, Waltham, Watertown, Newton, Worcester, Auburn, Springfield, Chicopee, Holyoke, Northampton, West Springfield, Westfield, Stockbridge and Sheffield.

There is an additional van for intrepid journalists who want to chronicle the adventure from start to finish.

For a full itinerary or other related inquires, please contact Ryan Mehta at 408-348-0681, or Rob Socket at 202-471-5833.
Green Party presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney will appear Saturday October 25 on NPR's Weekend Edition Saturday. Cynthia's running mate is Rosa Clemente and Cynthia will be in Seattle:
The Washington State Power To The People Campaign has announced that Green Party Presidential Candidate Cynthia McKinney will be visiting Seattle on Sunday, October 26th and Monday, October 27th. Scheduled activities include: 

Sunday, October 26, 2008 

* 3pm - 7pm
"Vote...Then What? 
From The Day After The Election Onward: Strategies for Community Organizing, Greening & Reconstruction"
Umojafest Peace Center
24th Ave & E Spring St, Seattle
The public is invited to attend.

Cynthia McKinney will be speaking in support of grassroots and institutional solutions to violence and other issues plaguing urban communities nationwide. This event is hosted by the Umojafest Peace Center and the McKinney/Clemente 2008 Power To The People Campaign. The program will include hip-hop and spoken word performances, speakers from youth and community based organizations, and a showing of the award-winning film, American Blackout.

Monday, October 27, 2008

* 11am - 12:30pm
"The Power of Student Movements: How to Use Your Campus as a Tool to Change the World!"
Broadway Performance Hall
Broadway at Pine Street, Seattle
The public is invited.

Ms. McKinney will address the growing concerns of students, the need for student leadership, and how students can organize on campus to engage in and impact social justice struggles and make meaningful contributions to communities outside school. This event will be hosted by the Black Student Union of Seattle Central Community College. 
John McCain is the Republican presidential candidate.  Today McCain-Palin released a new radio ad (click here to listen):
GOVERNOR CHARLIE CRIST: Hi, this is Governor Charlie Crist.

Let me tell you why I support my friend John McCain.

He will lower your taxes.

He will stop wasteful government spending.

And John McCain knows that people don't want to "spread the wealth."

He knows that Congress should let you keep more of your money, and not take it away.

Thank you very much.

ANNCR: Your savings, your job and your financial security are under siege.

Congressional liberals will make it worse.

Congressional liberals plan nearly a trillion dollars in new government spending.

To pay for it, Congressional liberals promise higher taxes on American families making over $42,000 a year.

Barack Obama and Congressional liberals call it spreading the wealth around, we call it higher taxes, bigger government.

Either way, it will cost you.

Stop 'em before they make it worse.

Paid for by McCain-Palin 2008 and the Republican National Committee.

JOHN MCCAIN: I'm John McCain and I approve this message.
Jimmy Orr (Christian Science Monitor) reports Joe Biden, Democratic v.p. nominee, is in media lock-down, "That's probably why the Democratic nominee for vice president isn't talking much.  Because when he does, he's the gift that keeps on giving.  Take the 'Gird your loins - an international crisis is coming' speech.  No matter how the remarks were intended, his prediction that, if elected, 'a generated crisis [would occur] to test the mettle' of Barack Obama has been a hot topic and an unwelcome one for the Obama campaign."