Sunday, February 06, 2011

And the war drags on . . .

In today's Washington Post, Liz Sly notes that Nouri al-Maliki has stated he will not seek a third term as prime minister. Because she's a reporter who actually knows what she's doing, she credits the statement to the AFP interview. That is what you're supposed to do though many took the statements Nouri made to AFP and 'reported' them as if they were present. Those 'reporters' now have egg on their face.

Let's drop back to yesterday:

Announced by who? The Los Angeles Times isn't clear. He [Nouri] said it to Sammy Ketz of AFP in an interview. Ketz reports him stating he won't seek a third term, that 8 years is enough and that he supports a measure to the Constitution limiting prime ministers to two terms.
Well Jalal Talabani declared he wouldn't seek a second term as President of Iraq in an interview and then . . . took a second term. Point, if you're speaking to a single journalist, it really doesn't seem to matter what you say. Did Nouri announce his decision to the people? No, is quite clear that an advisor made an announcement and that Malliki made no "public statement" today.
In other words, a statement in an interview is the US political equivalent of "I have no plans to run for the presidency" uttered more than two years before a presidential election. That's Iraqi politicians in general. Nouri? This is the man who's never kept a promise and who is still denying the existence of secret prisons in Iraq. Deyaar Bamami ( notes the Human Rights Watch report on the secret prisons and that they are run by forces Nouri commands.

That was written yesterday and Nouri couldn't even go 24 hours sticking to his 'promise.' Ben Lando and Munaf Ammar (Wall St. Journal) report that Nouri's spokesperson, Ali al-Mousawi, declared today, "We would like to correct this article. Maliki said, 'I think that the period of eight years is adequate for the application of a successful program to the prime minister, and if he is not successful, he must vacate his place'." Of course he's not announcing that. He's a thug. His previous four year term was an utter failure.

That's not speculation, that's not opinion. He agreed to the benchmarks that the White House set. He was supposed to achieve those in 2007. Those benchmarks, supposedly, were what would determine whether or not the US tax payer continued to foot the bill for the illegal war. But he didn't meet those benchmarks and apologists rushed forward to pretend like they weren't a year long thing and that, in fact, he had 2008 as well. Well 2008 came and went and the benchmarks were still not met. Nor were they in 2009. Nor were they in his last year in 2010.

That's failure. When you agree you will meet certain things -- such as resolving the Kirkuk issue -- and you do not, you are a failure. Not only did he fail at the benchmarks, he failed in providing Iraqis with basic services. He failed in providing them with security.

There is no grading system by which Nouri can be seen as a success.

But just as he will not admit to or own his failures from his first term as prime minister, do not expect to own or admit to his failures in his second term. In other words, Little Saddam wants to be around, and heading the Iraqi government, for a long, long time.

That's what Iraqis died for, that's what US troops died for, so that Saddam Hussein could be knocked off his throne (and executed) and Little Saddam could replace him.

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 4439. Tonight? PDF format warning, DoD lists the the number of Americans killed serving in Iraq at 4439.

In violence, AP notes Sheik Hamid al-Halbusi was killed in a Falluja roadside bombing late yesterday which also left two people wounded. Margaret Griffis ( notes a Baghdad sticky bombing injured two people and a Mosul roadside bombing injured an Iraqi soldier (all took place today).

Lando and Ammar explain that today saw protests in Basra. So that's Diwaniya, Baghdad and Basra that have had significant protests since Thursday. Scott Peterson (Christian Science Monitor) notes the unrest in a half-assed way. He opens stating no one burned themselves alive as some have said. Some? Arab media reported on that and I saw that yesterday and the bulk of them didn't say the man had set himself on fire. There were some that said he had intended to but didn't. We didn't include it because 'intended to' really isn't a story. Neither is "No One Burned Themselves To Death" but, for some reason, Peterson makes that his opening and not the concessions Nouri made on ration cards (that we noted yesterday -- those needing English language sources can refer to this AP report today) or the talk of cutting his salary (empty words from Nouri) or anything else.

Al Rafidayn reports that approximately 250 people demonstrated in Baghad today about the continued problems with basic services with some protesters carrying a coffin upon which the term "services" was written. On the Basra protest, the paper quotes a protester who states, "My children and I depend entirely on food rations and will die without them. " The man is a construction worker who gets temporary jobs and he wonders, since they have been unable to afford kerosene, if the government wants his family to burn each other to stay warm? Ramdi and Mosul also saw demonstrations today according to Al Rafidayn. Xinhua reports the Baghdad protest had 3,000 participants. Al Mada notes that the Basra protests demanded that the provincial governor resign. Al Mada also features an essay which notes protests in Falluja as well and stresses that these protests are not an attempt to "imitate" either Egypt or Tunisia, that this is the Iraqi people -- with their proud heritage -- demanding that basic services be provided and demanding that the "cake" stop being eaten by politicans while the people starve.

Meanwhile Nouri is called out for still not naming a Minister of Security with many worrying that armed militias will once again call the shots in the streets. And there is still no National Council -- the body Nouri promised to end the political stalemate, the one that is supposed to be headed by Ayad Allawi. (Anthony Shadid has a lengthy feature article profiling Allawi in the New York Times Sunday Magazine.) Al Rafidayn notes the upcoming meeting between Nouri and Allawi is said to be "crucial" for Iraq's future and survival. Al Mada notes that Allawi released a statement today declaring his belief that the National Council will be created and that it's creation does not conflict with the Constitution. The statement comes one day after Alsumaria TV reported that Allawi was asking KRG President Massoud Barazani to intervene on this issue.

New content at Third:

Isaiah's latest goes up after this. Pru notes Saira Weiner's "Two TV pundits sent off after foul sexism" (Great Britain's Socialist Worker):

The sacking of Andy Gray and subsequent resignation of Richard Keys from Sky Sports has opened up a much needed debate about sexism in football.

I’m not entirely convinced how noble Sky’s motives for the sacking are. After all Gray is currently taking legal action against another part of Rupert Murdoch’s empire over alleged phone hacking by the News of the World.

But whatever Sky’s reasons, everyone is still talking about the case. It’s clear that some people still think it’s acceptable for public figures to have views like theirs.

To them the issue was getting caught on record. After all, Gray and Keys were only bantering. “What’s the problem with a few off hand comments?”, they say.

Keys was filmed making gross comments in a television studio to ex‑footballer Jamie Redknapp about an old girlfriend.

Afterwards he claimed he was attempting to put his fellow presenters at ease. If that was his aim he failed, because instead they look uncomfortable and embarrassed.

But what was the most encouraging thing about the whole affair, is that most commentators, including those from within the world of football, think Sky made the correct decision.

Even Ron Atkinson supported the move—and his own TV career ran into the buffers when he was sacked in 2004 for using racist terminology.

Gray and Keys have been denounced as “dinosaurs”, hangovers from a previous age.

Unfortunately, while things have undoubtedly improved over the last decade, bigotry—whether it’s sexism, racism or homophobia—is still very apparent in football.

Women, black people and gay people play a full and vital part in everyday life. We pay the same money to see a match as white men and we are demanding of as much respect.

Big campaigns against racism in football, such a Kick it Out, plus the number of black players in league teams, have made racism less acceptable at football grounds these days.


I watch Manchester United at Old Trafford, and I’ve sat in the same area for ten years.

Not only is it rare to hear any racist comments, but if any are made they are challenged by other fans.

Sexism and homophobia however, are still considered more acceptable.

This is not surprising when gay footballers are advised by the likes of public relations guru Max Clifford not to come out as it will affect their careers.

Sexism runs deep through football culture in Britain. There are no female football managers in the league, and less than 1 percent of all referees registered with the Football Association (FA) are women.

And that helps the likes of Gray and Keys to feel confident in expressing such sexist views about women so openly.

These ideas about women run more deeply in the game than they do on the terraces.

It would be easy to miss the fact that the England women’s team has been far more successful internationally than the men’s.

Sexism may still sit not far below the surface, but no-one who sits near me at a match would dream of suggesting I didn’t understand the offside rule.

And, every time the blokes agree with something the women sitting around them have said and get to know them more, they think twice about comments they might have previously made. It is still hard work though.

Culture is difficult to shift, and women’s oppression is so intrinsically tied to the needs of this society that any shift is powerful, political and threatening for the ruling class.

And, at a time when cuts are being pushed through, It is particularly women who cuts force into unpaid carer roles.

The notion that we have achieved women’s equality in society is a myth.

Women still earn on average 80 percent of men’s earnings, and gender divisions in the labour market are still clearly defined.

This is both reflected and magnified in football.

But some things have shifted. Every time England captain Rio Ferdinand labels the likes of Gray and Keys as “prehistoric”, or the FA comes out against bullying idiots, it gives women more confidence.

It helps us to feel we can stand up and challenge inequality—not only in football but in wider society.

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