Monday, July 27, 2009

Iraq refugees and the war still drags on

Almost every day for three years, prison guards at one of Saddam Hussein's most notorious prisons tortured Sami Alkarim.
Now, in a cruel twist of fate, the accomplished Iraqi artist is being treated like a terrorist by the U.S., the country where he sought refuge.
U.S. officials have told him they can't give him permanent residency in Denver because of messenger work he did as a teenager for the same political party that counts the current prime minister of Iraq as a member.

The above is from Marisa Taylor's "Why are U.S.-allied refugees still branded as 'terrorists?'" (McClatchy Newspapers) who also cites the case of a woman known as "Anna" who worked with the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan -- the political party of Iraq's president Jalal Talabani -- and is seen, by US laws such as the Patriot Act, as a "terrorist" as a result. Russell Contreras (AP) also reports on Iraqi refugees in the US, specifically in Worcester, MA where approximately 151 members of Iraq's Mandaean community have settled and notes a total of 1,200 have been settled in the US in the last two years.

Conservative columnist (formerly with The Atlantic) Ross Douthat shared thoughts on the Iraq War in a column for the New York Times entitled "The War We'd Like to Forget." He notes the lack of attention to the Iraq War (the illegal war, not an opinion he'd share) and points out that the current White House has "inherited a timeline for pulling out our troops, instead of having to negotiate their own" -- a point the peace movement would do well to grasp (see Friday's snapshot for the idiot from A.N.S.W.E.R. who's pleased as punch with what she sees as Barack's plan). Douthat observes:

Except that the Iraq war isn't finished yet. There are still 130,000 American troops in the country. As Maliki acknowledged during his visit to Washington, there will probably be thousands of soldiers there after 2011, when the current Status of Forces Agreement states that our troops must be withdrawn.

No, the illegal war is not over. Amber Miller (Volunteer TV) notes that the Tennessee Army National Guard's 252 Military Police is sending seventy service members to Iraq. Jessica Stith (Daily Times) adds, "About 40 men and women kissed and hugged their families during a tearful goodbye Sunday as the Alcoa unit of the Tennessee Army National Guard's 252nd Military Police Company left for training and a one-year deployment for Operation Iraqi Freedom. The soldiers left on the bus with a convoy of Humvees and Patriot Guard Riders following behind. They waved goodbye to their families as they rode out of the Army Aviation Support Facility 2 (AASF-2) on McGhee Tyson Air National Guard Base. Their destination on Sunday was Cleveland, where they will meet up with about 130 other member of the military police company." Tracy Madden (WOWT) reports on a ceremony in Omaha for departing soldiers, "One-hundred-twenty-five soldiers representing 24 states, including Sgt. 1st Class Paul Graham on his third deployment, expect to be gone for 12 months." KETV adds, "Hundreds of friends and family members joined the soldiers for a sendoff ceremony at South High School, expressing a lot of mixed emotions." Seattle also had a farewell ceremony. The Seattle Times explains, "The 3rd (Stryker) Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division held a deployment ceremony at Fort Lewis Friday as the unit's nearly 4,000 soldiers prepare to head off to Iraq later this summer." AP notes the Stryker Brigade is making their third deployment to Iraq. Lindsay Cohen (KOMO) reports on the ceremony ("military music") and a toddler who "darted in front of a Stryker armored vehicle" which was moving and was rescued (I'm using the term "rescued") by Sgt Mickey Robinson. Scott Fontaine (News Tribune) breaks down the previous deployments to note they were sent to Iraq first in 2003 (November) and lost 20 service members, then they were sent in 2006 (June) and lost 48 members. And KSTP (link has text and video) reports on Minnesota's Fort Snelling ceremony yesterday "for 25 U.S. Army Reservists leaving for active duty in Iraq." Today, KSTP reports, the funeral for James Wertish is held at St. Mary's Catholic Church -- he was killed in the mortar attack on the US base in Basra July 16th. The war is not over and it's a shame that the only New York Times columnist who can grasp that is a conservative.

Independent journalist David Bacon continues to report on labor issues and "Mixtec farm workers pick blueberries, melons and chiles" (Immigration Prof Blog) covers workers in San Pablo Tijaltepec. Bacon can be heard on KPFA's The Morning Show (over the airwaves in the Bay Area, streaming online) each Wednesday morning (begins airing at 7:00 am PST) and his
latest book is Illegal People -- How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants (Beacon Press).

Bonnie reminds that Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Barack The Magnificent" went up last night.

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