Sunday, November 14, 2010

And the war drags on . . .

The credibility of the Chilcot inquiry into the invasion of Iraq is "on the edge of an abyss" because of its lack of transparency, a leading international lawyer warned today.
Philippe Sands QC, professor of international law at University College London, said the inquiry had been undermined by its inability to refer publicly to documents it had seen.
He said it had shown an inability to tackle the central question of the illegality – or otherwise – of the US-led military action head on.
Sands said he had seen some unpublished documents which contradicted or undermined the testimony by witnesses to the inquiry. The inquiry had also had a series of "private chats" with a number of "notable individuals", he said.

The above is from Richard Norton-Taylor's "Chilcot inquiry's credibility 'is on edge of an abyss'" (Guardian). The Iraq Inquiry is a five-member committee chaired by John Chilcot and held their first public hearing November 24, 2009. The committee hasn't done public hearings in some time but still has produced no report or finding. They did go to Iraq . . . to speak to Iraqi exiles who lived abroad before the US invasion. And they thought this was somehow productive and allowed them to evaluate the consequences and ramifications of the illegal war. Chris Ames has long covered the Inquiry at Iraq Inquiry Digest. Gordon Brown was UK prime minister and had backed himself into a corner so had to finally announce the start of the Inquiry. Then Chilcot was able to use the public and the press to garner more independence; however, it now appears the independence has been entirely wasted.

They're just there to try and make the people free,
But the way that they're doing it, it don't seem like that to me.
Just more blood-letting and misery and tears
That this poor country's known for the last twenty years,
And the war drags on.
-- words and lyrics by Mick Softly (available on Donovan's Fairytale)

Last Sunday, the number of US military people killed in the Iraq War since the start of the illegal war was 4430. Tonight? PDF format warning, DoD lists the the number of Americans killed serving in Iraq remains at 4430.

Turning to some of today's reported violence . . .


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad sticky bombing claimed 1 life and left four people injured, a Baghdad roadside bombing injured five people, a Kirkuk bombing claimed the lives of 3 Iraqi service members, a Mosul bombing claimed 1 life and left another person wounded, and a Mosul suicide car bombing claimed the life of the bomber, 1 Iraqi soldier and left four police officers wounded. Reuters notes a Ramadi home bombing which wounded two police lieutenant's family members (his wife and his mother) and a judge's Ramadi home was also blown up.


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 1 person shot dead in Muqdadiyah.


Reuters notes 1 corpse discovered in Mosul.

Let's stay on violence to turn to Iraqi Christians. At The Daily Beast, Pig-Boi Reza Aslan iis troubled by Hillary Clinton's "silence" on the issue of the targeting of Iraqi Christians -- Pig Boi just discovered the issue that the rest of us have been covering for some time now. I must be more tired than I realize because I missed the election -- the one that made Hillary Clinton President of the United States. Pig Boi writes, "But Hillary Clinton, the one person who could force the Iraq government to act, is keeping her mouth shut."

Hillary's the one person who could force the Iraq government to act?

Thank goodness the US elected her president, right?

This is yet more sexist crap from a little Pig Boi. Hillary is not president of the United States. Barack Obama is. What she does is determined by him. That's how the Democratic Party leaders -- if not the Demcoratic Party voters themselves -- wanted it. Barack's the one being silent but a Pig Boi's job is always to misdirect attention.

Pig Boi has a long history of sexism and slurs and probably reached his zenith -- and lost Real Media in the process -- when he was floating that Hillary might have been the one who "kill Benazir Bhutto." That crap appeared not in the Globe or Enquirer but at CNN on December 27, 2007 and he did have a 'source' for it . . . David Axlerod. And before some slow reader e-mails to say Pig Boi called Axelrod's comments "distasteful" and argued against them, try reading in full. He rejects Axelrod's comments re: Iraq and Pakistan -- which really have nothing to do with Hillary, that's what he found distasteful and what he argued against. The slur against Hillary he repeated and let stand. It takes a Pig Boi.

For the record, Barack Obama? Still no statement on Iraqi Christians. Maybe after the next Slurpee Summit?

Meanwhile Minority Rights Group's Mark Lattimer tells Michael Grubb (Media Line), "There is a widespread perception in the West that violence in Iraq has gone down and that there is a stable situation there, and with the new government and all. But the situation for minorities is at least as dangerous as it was in 2006 and 2007." Vivienne Walt (Time magazine) notes Iraqi Christians in Sweden fear they'll be deported back to Iraq:

Swedish immigration officials have been deporting Iraqi refugees to Baghdad on flights about every three weeks, declaring that some of them have no legitimate claim to political asylum in Sweden. That includes Iraqi Christians — a category that does not automatically imply a risk of persecution, according to Swedish guidelines. Of the 80,000 or so Iraqi refugees in Sweden, about 6,000 of them are Christian, according to estimates by the Syriac Orthodox Church in Stockhold. That Swedish interpretation of the main criterion for refugee status under U.N. treaties has spread widespread panic among refugees. "There are hundreds of Iraqis here who are not legal who have simply disappeared," says an Iraqi engineer in Stockholm, a Catholic, who fled Baghdad in 2004 with his family after Islamic militants ordered them to leave their home, or be killed. "The refugees are hiding in churches or basements, working illegal jobs, trying to survive, transferring from place to place."

New content at Third:

Pru notes Sian Ruddick's "Here Is News: BBC journalists strike over pensions" (Great Britain's Socialist Worker):

Some 4,000 BBC workers struck on Friday and Saturday of last week against the attack on their pensions.

The nationwide strike, by National Union of Journalists (NUJ) members, had a significant affect—taking several high profile programmes off the air. Radio 4’s flagship Today didn’t appear at all on Friday and was largely prerecorded on Saturday.

On a number of picket lines all over Britain, strikers persuaded members of other unions not to cross.

A number of members of Bectu—the other major union at the BBC which had voted to accept the latest offer—joined the picket lines and didn’t work. Others did collections and brought solidarity tea and cake in their lunch breaks.

The entire Southampton and Newcastle Bectu branches refused to cross picket lines.

In cities including London and Sheffield, postal workers refused to deliver mail.

Non-league Manchester football team FC United—who beat their higher ranked neighbours Rochdale in the FA Cup—refused to take part in the BBC’s Football Focus programme in solidarity with the strike.

Workers are furious that BBC bosses, enjoying their own bloated pension packages, have attempted to wreck the pensions of the lowest paid.


BBC bosses say the pension scheme has a £2 billion deficit, and workers will have to pay in more, work for longer, and get less out.

The unions think the deficit is closer to £1 billion and it was worsened because of the two year “contributions holiday” management took when there was a boom.

Mike Workman, FOC (union rep) at the World Service spoke to Socialist Worker on the Bush House picket line in central London. He said, “Bosses at the BBC have betrayed the values and democracy of the corporation and brought it into disrepute.”

He was joined by Chris, who was on strike for the first time. “In the past two years there have been eight job cuts in my department but we’re still expected to deliver the same amount of work,” said Chris.

“There are lots of casuals brought in. It makes the workplace feel very competitive and these people—who are mostly young—don’t want to do ­anything to jeopardise their job. Management know this, and employ casuals partly for this reason.”

Also on the picket line was NUJ general secretary, Jeremy Dear. “The strike is solid,” he told Socialist Worker, “Regional news in Scotland, Wales and England have all been disrupted.”

Strikers held a rally outside Television Centre in west London on Friday.

Newsnight presenter and father of the chapel Paul Mason addressed the crowd, “If you work in this building you will know that the computers and the equipment barely work. It is the people that keep this going.”

The next strikes are scheduled for 15 and 16 November.

It is important that the strikes are not called off without the removal of the attacks, and continue until workers are paying no more into the fund or getting less out.

The following should be read alongside this article:

If your union won't fight, should you leave it?

BBC pickets solid across country

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