Saturday, August 25, 2012

11 dead in Iraq today

Violence continues in Iraq.  Through Friday, Iraq Body Count counts 352 deaths from violence in Iraq so far this month.  Today?  Alsumaria reports 2 corpses were discovered in Basra.  Al-Shora notes an attack on the Falluja home of Sahwa leader Sheikh Kadhum al-Alwani in which his wife was injured, another female adult was injured and 3 children were killed.  AP adds that Mosul council member Ibrahim Younis was shot dead outside his home and 1 police officer and a bystander were also shot dead in Mosul.  Xinhua adds 1 police officer was shot dead in Diyala Province, an al-Muradiyah sitcky bombing left a former Sahwa member and his son injured, a Baghdad shooting left an Iraqi military officer dead, a Falluja shooting left 1 person dead and a police officer wounded,  and an al-Kuba roadside bombing left "a farmer and his daughter" injured.  All Iraq News reports soldier Mohammed Abdul Ridha shot himself in Baquba and, at present, mystery surrounds the "why" of the death.  Alsumaria also notes a gas pipeline exploded to the north of Tikrit and that this explosion may have been the result of a bombing.

Turning to Iraq and its neighbors, AFP notes Turkish plames continued to bomb northern Iraq with a bombing radi taking place in today's early morning hours.  AndAl-Arabiya reports that "Iraq has completely sealed its border with Syria in the face of refugees who are fleeing the escalating violence in their home country.  Security forces have blocked the crossing with concrete barriers and closed all the roads leading to the border crossing from the Iraqi side."

Yesterday, the offices of Moqtada al-Sadr were bombed.  Alsumaria notes that Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi condemned the attacks today in a statement.  Iraq has been gripped by a political crisis for over  a year.  Last summer, Iraqiya, the Kurds and Moqtada al-Sadr were calling for Nouri al-Maliki to implement the Erbil Agreement -- a US brokered contract that ended the first political stalemate -- the eight months that followed the Parliamentary elections -- and allowed Nouri to have a second term as prime minister.  Nouri has refused.  In April, various blocs met again in Erbil and decided to pursue a no-confidence vote in Nouri.  Signatures were gathered and then President of Iraq Jalal Talabani tossed it aside.  He quickly fled to Germany, claiming he needed life-saving surgery (he had knee surgery) and he's remained there ever since.  All Iraq News reports that Moqtada sent a delegation to meet with Jalal today in Germany.  This comes as Al Mada reports that Talabani met with German politicians on Thursday and declared that the crisis would be over soon.  This as State of Law MP Salman al-Moussawi is stating that the crisis can't end until Talabani returns to Iraq because the dialogue can't continue in his absence.  State of Law is Nouri's political slate. All Iraq News notes that Nouri is scheduled to meet with Osama al-Nujaifi tomorrow.  The two are expected to address security issues.

 You may remember last weekend State of Law was insisting that this would be the time when Nouri finally nominated people to head the security ministries.  (He was supposed to do that in December of 2010.  They have instead remained without leadership.)  All Iraq News notes that Hussein al-Mansouri, an MP for Moqtada's bloc, states that the lack of people to lead the security ministries creates problems and prevents the Ministy of Defense and the Ministry of the Interior from properly carrying out their duties.   In addition, the outlet reports Iraqiya' MP Jawad al-Bolani is calling for the creation of a nation terrorism and crime council.  If that sounds familiar, it's what's in the Erbil Agreement.  It's what, November 11, 2010, Nouri was expected to create (and agreed to when he signed the Erbil Agreement).  However, he instead announced that he couldn't do it yet, that it would take awhile.  (This prompted the bulk of Iraqiya to walk out of the session of Parliament.)

As the political crisis continues, little gets accomplished. Al Mada reports Parliament plans to try again for an amnesty law shortly and that the elecriticy corruption continues to go unaddressed.  Nothing really gets passed or done.  And that was the way Nouri's first term went as well, if you've forgotten.  This takes place, please note, as people remain behind bars.  I'm not talking about Nouri's prisoners.  I'm referring to 'liberated' Iraq -- supposedly 'liberated'  by the US -- where political prisoners remain in prisons.  Again, I'm not talking about Nouri's time.  I'm talking from before the invasion.  The arrests of 1963 and 1968, for example.  Those waves of arrests of various political prisoners?  Many aren't dead, many remain in prison and when their families try to get justice for these political prisoners, they're turned away.  This is an 'accomplishment'?

There has been no leadership during Nouri's first term or his second term.  Iraqis suffer and the outside world doesn't really seem to care. 

The following community sites -- plus Pacifica Evening News and -- updated last night and today:

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I Hate The War


Bradley Manning (pictured above) remains behind bars.   Monday April 5, 2010, WikiLeaks released US military video of a July 12, 2007 assault in Iraq. 12 people were killed in the assault including two Reuters journalists Namie Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh. Monday June 7, 2010, the US military announced that they had arrested Bradley Manning and he stood accused of being the leaker of the video. Leila Fadel (Washington Post) reported in August 2010 that Manning had been charged -- "two charges under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The first encompasses four counts of violating Army regulations by transferring classified information to his personal computer between November and May and adding unauthorized software to a classified computer system. The second comprises eight counts of violating federal laws governing the handling of classified information." In March, 2011, David S. Cloud (Los Angeles Times) reported that the military has added 22 additional counts to the charges including one that could be seen as "aiding the enemy" which could result in the death penalty if convicted. The Article 32 hearing took place in December.  At the start of this year, there was an Article 32 hearing and, February 3rd, it was announced that the government would be moving forward with a court-martial.  Now the court-martial is expected to take place in February of 2013.  Well after the election, for Barack's political livelihood.  Bradley has yet to enter a plea and has neither affirmed that he is the leaker nor denied it. 

He's a political prisoner.  Today a group of protesters demonstrated to demand his release.

The London Sun reports that approximately 40 activists protested outside the US Embassy in London, calling for Bradley's release.  Ben Griffin is quoted stating, "The most significant pieceo f resistance to the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan came when a young soldier released information that the US and UK governments would rather we did not know about.  Among the files released through WikiLeaks were the Afghan War Diaries which showed the day-to-day ritual killing and torture that had been going on in Afghanistan for years.  Then the Iraq War Logs were released.  As a result of those logs we found out about thousands of people killed in Iraq by US and UK troops that we did not know about."

Huffington Post UK adds:

Among the dozens of protesters were several wearing the V For Vendetta mask that has become associated with the hacking group Anonymous.
Others carried banners saying "Blowing the whistle on war crimes is not a crime" and "Free Assange, Free Manning, End the war".
One demonstrator who gave her name only as Val, from Bedford, said: "Bradley Manning, I think, is a hero.
"If anybody should have got the Nobel Peace Prize it is him."

But there's been no Nobel Peace Prize for him -- War Criminals get Nobel Peace Prizes, not Bradley.  Bradley gets to be held in confinement for over two years and two months now.  He's still not been court-martialed.  I'm not sure Barack Obama understands the Constitution.  It was always a lie that he was a Constitutional professor.  He was a shady lawyer of little accomplishment who padded out his thin resume and thin wallet by lecturing to beginning students about the Constitution.  But it does guarantee the accused a fair and speedy trial.

Two years is not a speedy and fair trial.  Bradley's a political prisoner.  He's this administration's Wen Ho Lee.  If you don't remember Wen Ho Lee, he's a blight on the Clinton administration, an embarrassment, the issue no Clintonista wants to talk of and that the press never wants to explore (because the press didn't question the mistreatment of Wen Ho Lee anymore than they have the mistreatment of Bradley).

If we had a functioning press that really believed in this country, there would be one editorial after another about Bradley and they'd have  titles like "Try Him Or Let Him Go!" 

But the press really isn't about the Constitution or serious issues.  It's about garbage, as much garbage as it can shove down your throat while pretending their putrid stew of gossip and conjecture  matter.  They have no desire to lead, they have no desire to be a guardian for freedoms.  They're cowed.

And that's how Bradley remains in prison.  How and why.

At The New Republic this week, Eliza Gray explored many issues in "How Bradley Manning Became a Gay Martyr:"

Manning’s personal history, in particular, resonates. As a recent biography by journalist Denver Nicks and an extensive profile in New York magazine recount, Manning had an unpleasant childhood. His father was verbally and physically abusive, and his mother struggled with alcoholism. Manning came out of the closet at 13—a brave act in the conservative Oklahoma town where he was raised—and left home at 18.  He later joined the military, but once enlisted, he suffered intense bullying; he was fairly transparent about his sexuality and was beginning to question his gender. The harassment wore on Manning, and he responded with angry outbursts—behavior that prompted superiors to question whether he could be trusted with his security clearance. “To gay people who have faced the kind of hyper-masculine bullying that [Manning] endured in the military,” says Larry Goldsmith, an historian and gay activist, the “details of his case … were recognizable as the experiences of many gay people at schools, at work, and in sports.”
Manning’s gay supporters believe in gay activism that connects the mistreatment of gays, the plight of poor people, and the injustices of war. “War is about traditionally, historically, masculine, gender role approach to resolving conflicts through violence and aggression,” says Goldsmith. “Gay people at one time had a critique of that.” For his supporters, Manning’s radical action is a symbol of the anti-war, anti-establishment values the gay movement used to champion before becoming more narrowly focused on marriage equality and the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. “I thought it was a cornerstone of gay sensibility to oppose wars,” Jim Fouratt, a prominent New York City Gay activist who participated at Stonewall, told me. “Manning represents to me that part of the gay spirit.” There is a also a sense, among gay supporters, that Manning does not represent the kind of photo-ready figure that gay activists would like to have at the forefront of their movement. “Manning doesn’t fit into the affluent, we-are-just-like-you vision of gay normalcy,” says Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore, author of Why Are Faggots So Afraid of Faggots? “He’s not the poster boy for the campaign they’ve been running for gays in the military,” says Goldsmith.
But others within the gay community have balked at this association. Mainstream national gay organizations have not offered public support. The Human Rights Campaign did not respond to my request for comment on Manning. The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the Gay and Lesbian Alliance for Defamation (GLAAD) politely declined to comment via e-mail.

It's really sad to see so many LGBT organizations refuse to speak up for Bradley and it demonstrates how ineffective they are and why they shouldn't even bother to continue.  They are as pathetic and self-serving as the press.

It's over, I'm done writing songs about love
There's a war going on
So I'm holding my gun with a strap and a glove
And I'm writing a song about war
And it goes
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Oh oh oh oh
-- "I Hate The War" (written by Greg Goldberg, on The Ballet's Mattachine!)

The number of US service members the Dept of Defense states died in the Iraq War is [PDF format warning] 4488.

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Friday, August 24, 2012

Iraq snapshot

Friday, August 24, 2012. Chaos and violence continue, Moqtada's followers are attacked in Sadr City, refugees in Iraq and outside continues to need asylum, the PKK and Turks boast of their 'kills,' US House Rep Ileana Ros-Lehtinen wants the answers to some questions, and more.
With Iraq, the temptation for some news outlets is to make 'good news.' You can't manufacture good news and you look ridiculous when you try -- and if you're a US official trying to manufacture good news, your latest wave of Operation Happy Talk usually slaps you in the face -- meaning within 24 hours of your remarks being published, a large wave of violence hits Iraq.
But one Iraqi family did get some good news, real good news, genuine good news. Chris Thompson (Windsor Star) reported this week on the Putrus family. They left Iraq in 2009 and were fortunate in that their refugee applications were processed. They ended up in Canada and it was there that they bought one of the two winning Lotto tickets for a $3 million jackpot which means they won $1.5 million:
The family celebrated with a dinner at Mandarin restaurant, a Chinese buffet.
Faiz plans to continue working as a granite designer at Granite Design Works for now but plans to start his own small business in the future, Faraj said.
"He told his boss he won that kind of money and he took a vacation," Faraj said.
The family is also planning to buy a new larger house and possibly rent out the modest bungalow they currently own.
The family, who are Christian Chaldean, lived in Baghdad in 2008 when they travelled to Syria to say goodbye to an aunt who was leaving to claim refugee status in Canada.
The situation in Baghdad was chaotic and violent.
"Killing, robbing, and our house got on fire," said Faraj.
While the family was in Syria, they received word from Baghdad that the family home had burned to the ground, and everything was lost. It was then they decided not to return, and would follow the aunt to Canada.
"We didn't stop our life," Faraj said.
Again, that would be actual good news. Canada's goal is 2,500 Iraqi refugees admitted each year. That goal is one less than the US has admitted this year. Yes, Canada is much smaller than the United States. As of their most recent tally, FY2012 has seen only 2,501 Iraqi refugees admitted to the US. FY2010 was the first year the current administration, President Barack Obama, was solely responsible. (FY2010 started October 1, 2009 and ran through September 30, 2010.) That year, the number was 24,021 -- a drop of over a thousand and each year since has seen a bigger drop (in FY2011, only 9,388 Iraqi refugees were admitted). Anybody remember this:
We would pursue a diplomatic offensive with every nation in the region on behalf of Iraq’s stability, and commit $2 billion to a new international effort to support Iraq’s refugees.
That's from a July 14, 2008 column in the New York Times entitled "My Plan for Iraq." Barack Obama wrote that column (or his name was put on the byline). Lot of talk for very little action. Iraqi refugees continue to suffer and the United Nations counts 29,453 Iraqis who fled for Iraq for safety that have been forced to return as a result of actions in Syria.
Syria and Iraq share a border, it's Iraq's neighbor on the north-west side. Earlier this week, Patrick Markey and Alistair Lyon (Reuters) reported, "Syrian government forces fought rebels on Wednesday for control of a military base and an airfield near the eastern town of Albu Kamal on the Iraqi border, a local Iraqi official and a Syrian rebel commander said."
The conflict in Syria continues with fears that it might impact Iraq in terms of violence. For now, it's only impact on Iraq has been the refugees who have left Syria. Today UNHCR spokesperson Adrian Edwards addressed the issue of Syrian refugees seeking Iraq:
Meanwhile in Iraq, Syrian refugees staying in schools are being relocated to Al Qaem camp. Seven schools have so far been vacated with a further nine schools still occupied by some 1,760 refugees. The school year resumes in Iraq in early October. 1,691 people are now residing in the Al Qaem camp, while some 100 Syrians have left the camp and returned to Syria. During the last week, 24 left the camp to live with relatives. UNHCR will shortly begin to expand the camp by 230 tents in anticipation of new arrivals. The number of Syrians crossing into Iraq has slowed over the past week, although the refugee population increased slightly in the Kurdistan region. Across Iraq the total number of refugees stands at 15,898. The number of Iraqi refugees returning from Syria to Iraq has continued despite fewer people returning over Eid due to a shortage of buses from Damascus. Most of those returning home are heading to Baghdad. Several of those returning told UNHCR protection staff at the border they had been attacked or robbed on the road between Damascus and Al-tanf on the Syrian border, losing all their money, telephones and some documents. Some returnees say they are assessing the security situation in Iraq before deciding to stay.
This is part of regional issue. IRIN noted Monday, "From April to August, the number of Syrians registered with the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) in Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon and Iraq nearly quadrupled, from 40,000 to more than 155,000, with recent marked increases in Jordan and Iraq. About 75 percent are believed to be women and children." For UNICEF, Salam Abdulmunem reports on an Iraqi refugee camp:
Recently, the local Department of Education, with assistance from UNHCR and UNICEF, started a summer school to help the children make up for lost time. Almost 150 boys and girls are registered in this school. But with the new academic year quickly approaching, a shortage in space is anticipated for almost 500 children who have already been registered to join the regular school.
Later, when I visit the nearby UNICEF-supported Child Friendly Space (CFS), I meet Perween Abdulaziz, a social worker who works with the NGO Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development (ACTED) and runs the CFS. Ms. Abdulaziz tells me that, while some of the children have seen violence, most of the children’s fears come from hearing their parents talk about an uncertain future. The structure and activities provided to them through the school and CFS are essential to bring back some sense of stability to their lives, she tells me.
That's Dohuk which is in the Kurdistan Region Government. The KGR's received positive reports as a result of UN inspections of their refugee camp. Sadly, that is not true of all of Iraq.  For example, last week Rudaw reported on a camp in Anbar Province (which Nouri's Baghdad-based government is over):
Iranian Kurdish refugees residing in Waleed camp suffer from lack of services such as drinking water, electricity and a medical center. In addition, Iraq’s Ministry of Interior is pressuring them to leave.
Waleed is located in Anbar province in the west, near the Syrian border. The camp -- which accommodates 120 Palestinian families, 24 Kurdish families and 19 Arab families from Ahwaz, Iran -- was established in June 2009.
For the past three months, the Iraqi government has been using various tactics to force the families to leave the camp, such as removing basic services like electricity and water. However, residents of the camp have been defying the government’s decision.
Nouri's never shown any respect for refugees. As the waves of refugees fleeing Iraq reached record levels and became the largest refugee crisis in the Middle East since 1948, Nouri made noises about giving some of the oil millions to Jordan, Syria and Lebanon to help cover the costs but Nouri never forked over the money. When the Syrian refugees need somewhere to go, Nouri's original response was to insist that Iraq couldn't handle refugees. Only after he was shamed on the world stage did he take the refugees in and then he shoved them into either abandoned or unused buildings. Now he's trying to force them out because the unused buildings were often schools and Iraqi children are resuming their school year.
On the subject of refugees, one of the persecuted groups in Iraq that has often elected to leave the country for safety reasons is the LGBT community. Last month Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project had some success with regards to Iraq's LGBT refugees:
IRAP’s advocacy on behalf of LGBT Iraqis with the Dutch government has led the Netherlands to change their policy toward LGBT asylum seekers from Iraq, who now have a presumption of asylum. The reform also includes the creation of a set allocation for the admission of LGBT Iraqi refugees, along with a new expedited process. Around two weeks ago, we led a private fact-finding tour for a representative from the Dutch Office of the Asylum Minister. This was in addition to significant research conducted about the plight of LGBT refugees in the are and the resultant news coverage we received in conjunction with two other NGOs.
For IRAP talking about the issue on Dutch National News: buitenland/39940/ doodseskaders_op_homojacht_in_ irak
Sunday's New York Times featured James Risen and Duraid Adnan's "U.S. Says Iraqis Are Helping Iran to Skirt Sanctions" on the front page, an article about the White House's knowledge that Iraq is helping Iran "skirt economic sanctions" and how Barack was "not eager for a public showdown with Nouri." Today the editorial board for the Detroit Free Press weighs in on the issues -- and notes the Times' article -- observing:

On the bright side, some American taxpayers may be relieved to learn that Iraq's sanction-busting activities signal nothing more than the vitality of public corruption; sound strategic arguments support Iraq's continuing official hostility toward Iran.
But the practical impact of that corruption is essentially the same. The likelihood that at least some of the billions the U.S. and its allies have supplied to Iraq is being used to systematically undermine allied strategic objectives in the Middle East is enough to sour any U.S. taxpayer on continued support for the Malaki government.

This morning I praised the editorial but didn't see anything changing and provided several examples of 2008 when the corruption and waste was regularly noted in Congress and nothing ever changed. I said I'd love to be wrong. Maybe I am wrong and maybe that's already apparent.
The House Foreign Affairs Committee released the following today:



In Letter to Secretary Panetta, Secretary Geithner, Ros-Lehtinen Requests Details of Iran's Involvement in Iraq, Afghanistan

Asks What Obama Administration, Iraqi and Afghan Governments are Doing to Counter Tehran's Efforts

Friday, August 24, 2012
(WASHINGTON) – U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, today sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner requesting details on Iran’s involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan. Chairman Ros-Lehtinen also is asking the Administration for information on the Iraqi and Afghan governments’ actions in addressing the Iranian regime’s attempts to gain influence within these countries. For a signed copy of the letter, please click here. Text of the letter follows:
Dear Secretary Panetta and Secretary Geithner:
I am writing to raise concerns about Iranian attempts to circumvent U.S., European Union, and other bilateral and multilateral sanctions through use of the financial sectors of Iraq and Afghanistan, and about what the Administration is doing or considering doing to counter these efforts effectively.
As described in two New York Times articles over the past week, and on the heels of the recent Treasury designation of the Elaf Islamic Bank in Baghdad, the Iranian regime is trying to access the financial sectors of Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the energy sector of Iraq, to provide Tehran with crucial foreign currency reserves at a time when sanctions are having an effect.
Reports indicate that the Elaf Islamic Bank is still allowed to participate in the Iraq Central Bank’s daily auction, at which commercial banks can sell Iraqi dinars and buy United States dollars. These auctions are a crucial pathway for Iranian access to the international financial system. As Iran seeks to bolster its reserves of dollars and other convertible foreign currency to stabilize its exchange rates and pay for imports, the Iraqi government reportedly not only allows companies and individuals to circumvent the sanctions but also does not enforce penalties for non-compliance.
Further, the status of joint Iraqi-Iranian oil fields raises potential sanctionable upstream activities, which are particularly concerning given reports that some Iranian oil is finding its way to Iraqi ports for export.
A similar potential challenge to sanctions implementation and enforcement exists with Afghanistan. Kabul and Kandahar are now reportedly being utilized as financial centers through which the Iranian regime can circumvent sanctions. According to press reports, Afghan money traders said they were told this month by American officials not to conduct business with Arian Bank, an Afghan bank owned by two Iranian banks, because the Iranian regime was using Arian to move cash in and out of Afghanistan. Given longstanding difficulties encountered by the U.S. and other responsible nations with Afghanistan’s widespread corruption and lack of financial controls, I am concerned not only that Afghanistan could be transformed into a mechanism used by the Iranian regime to circumvent sanctions, but that such an arrangement could inadvertently provide Tehran greater leverage over the Afghan government.
Accordingly, I would appreciate if you would provide the following information (which, given its potential sensitivity, may be transmitted in classified form):
  • the overarching U.S. strategy to address these Iranian efforts to evade sanctions;
  • what actions the U.S., our allies, and the Iraqi and Afghan governments are taking to counter such sanctions evasion;
  • whether the Administration will condition security cooperation with Iraq and Afghanistan on such activities with the Iranian regime;
  • which Iraqi and Afghan banks, or other financial institutions, maintain correspondent accounts with designated Iranian banks or their affiliates;
  • a determination as to whether joint Iranian-Iraqi oil fields are sanctionable under the Iran Sanctions Act; and
  • an analysis of the impact of Iran’s use of Iraqi and Afghan financial institutions on the effectiveness of bilateral and multilateral sanctions regimes.
Given the U.S. investment of blood and treasure in Iraq and Afghanistan, it is vital that the Iraqi and Afghan governments cooperate with the U.S. and other responsible nations to address the Iranian threat. Failure to cooperate should be met with a reconsideration of bilateral security arrangements.
Thank you in advance for your assistance. I look forward to receiving your response.
US House Rep Ileana Ros-Lehtinen was not Chair of the House Foreign Relations Committee until January 2011. Past examples of Congressional leadership on Committees really don't apply to her so possibly, for once, something actually will come out of this. I hope so and would love for the Detroit Free Press editorial board to be 100% correct and myself 100% wrong.

Today Moqtada al-Sadr's Baghdad office was targeted with a bombing which, Baghdad Operations Command tells Alsumaria, resulted in the deaths of 2 people with "several" more left injured. There are conflicting reports with two bombs placed uner the speaker's podium for Friday prayers or with the attack being done via mortar.. All Iraq News reports 3 dead and eleven injured with two bombs -- one near a booth by the podium. UPI notes the death toll from the bombings has climbed to two. In addition, a Baquba roadside bombing has left two police officers injured. All Iraq News notes 4 corpses discovered dumped in Mosul (all had gunshots to the head). AFP adds a Khan Beni Saad bombing targeted a Shi'ite family and claimed 1 life with three more injured. All Iraq News notes a fire broke out in a nightclub near Baghdad's National Theatre killing six people. AP reports that the fire was "set off" by assailants with a bomb and grenades and that, along with the 6 dead, twelve  were injured.
Turkey and the PKK continue to add up 'wins.' Alsumaria notes that the PKK announced today that they have killed 22 Turkish soldiers (from August 22nd to the present) and that they have injured twelve others while kidnapping an official of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Reuters reports Turkey announced 16 PKK were killed by Turkish forces by Thursday and UPI adds that, on Friday, Turkey's government boasted "at least 21 members" of the PKK had been killed. (See the earlier "Turkey and the PKK" from this morning. Again, we've attended this dance before.) Late today, Dogan News Agency reported the PKK released Hayrullah Tanis, the official they had kidnapped on Thursday.
Turning to the US, where the presidential election is underway, Chris McGuire (Schlepp Films) has made a series of humorous ads calling out GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney. Chris McGuire created something, he gets a link. I make an exception for creativity. McGuire gets a link otherwise I'm not interested in your columns -- that you all know are funny -- 'taking on Mitt.' Your columns are embarrassing because you're so ill informed about the man you're whoring for. Again, McGuire was creative and he got a link. Respect the arts. We're more interested in covering the two campaigns made up of four women, two presidential tickets. The four: Jill Stein has the Green Party's presidential nomination and her running mate is Cheri Honkala and Roseanne Barr has the nomination of the Peace and Freedom Party and her running mate is Cindy Sheehan. Click here to sign a petition calling on Ms. magazine and Women's Media Center to cover her campaign and the other female candidate for president Roseanne Barr's campaign
conspiracyanalyst (WTF RLY?) reports on the Chemtrails confrence and notes:
Roseanne Barr and Cyn­thia McK­in­ney were spe­cial guests, they were not in the orig­i­nal line-up. Hav­ing them there increased the sense of activism that this con­fer­ence was more than just about gain­ing knowl­edge about the lat­est advance­ments of the NWO, it was in fact about a move­ment. It was the chance to make a dif­fer­ence in our world through both tra­di­tional and non-traditional chan­nels, and it was of course about get­ting the word out to as many peo­ple as pos­si­ble. If Roseanne Barr can draw atten­tion to this issue, then bless her for her celebrity. If we can laugh at the ridicu­lous cir­cus of pol­i­tics, and stand up in the front row for truth then the pres­ence of politi­cians are more than wel­come, they are nec­es­sary.


If people in this country had any brains in their head, they'd vote 3rd party. Ron Paul, Jill Stein, Roseanne Barr, someone who isn't a total moron with their head so far up big business' collective ass that they can't see cars coming when they try crossing the street. Even ALF would be better.
We need to start branding politicians with the companies that own them. You know: "Property of:" then list the company names. The more you saw & the types you saw would determine whether you should bother voting for them. I'd also like to see fist fights in the Senate & House like they have in other government meetings in other countries. I've said it before but it would make things more interesting & some reality TV company could make money from it. It's practically Jerry Springer anyway; we may as well be honest about it.
So, why would Roseanne Barr be the best president ever:
1. She wasn't born to money. She came from lower income so she knows what that's like. Her entire TV show concept was based off that experience. That's better than the mainstream politicians you see who generally came from money or are part of some political dynasty. I feel she's more "of the people" than most folk in politics.
2. She conquered Hollywood. When she started out, she actually took command on her show. Most people in her shoes would be all docile & meek. She wasn't. People probably call me a bitch; I feel if people are calling a woman a "bitch" and saying she's "difficult," she's probably doing something right.
If she did this in Hollywood, do you honestly think she'd let some s[**]thead career politician push her around? Or some high power lobbyist? I can't see that happening. I'd hope she'd tell the prick just where to go; we need more people willing to do that sort of thing. If she told Hollywood execs where to go early in her career, I could see her doing the same thing to some Washington insider.
We leave Roseanne's campaign to move over to Jill's.  Bart Gruzalski (CounterPunch) weighs in on why he's supporting Jill Stein's campaign:
Dr. Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate for President of the United States, promises a Manhattan-project jobs program that would ignite our economy, repair our crumbling infrastructure, and put the US in the lead at the forefront of the world’s newest and hottest technologies. She will put forward the health care policy most of us wanted in 2009: the public option, effectively Medicare for everyone. She will withdraw our troops out of Afghanistan and implement the advice George Washington gave in his farewell address: “The great rule of conduct for us, in regard to foreign nations, is in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little political connection as possible.” Jill Stein will bring to the table a demand for an equitable tax system, not one in which the wealthy pay too little and we the 99% have to close schools, fire police, and shutter fire stations to make up the difference. Climate change and food security are at the top of her agenda, as is getting the money out of politics. A Jill Stein presidency will herald the liberation of a democracy currently hijacked by wealthy Americans like the Koch brothers and by corporate banksters like Lloyd Blankfein the CEO of Goldman Sachs. From the perspective of those of us in the 99%, the only plausible reason to fail to vote for Jill Stein is that voting for her will take votes away from Obama who would be better for the 99% than Romney. Let me explain why this fails to show that we should not vote for Jill Stein.
My explanation requires we distinguish the significant issues that affect all of us in the 99% from those issues that divide us. Some of the issues that unite us include the need for jobs, a vibrant economy, accessible health care for all, a fair tax policy, a democracy in which we have a voice, security from foreign threats, and an environment that will allow us to live healthily as well as allow our children and grandchildren to live healthily after us. The emotionally inflammatory issues that divide us are promulgated by the media, politicians, and even some religious leaders. These red herring issues draw us away from the basic issues that unite us: our economy and a vibrant democracy.
And Janelle Sorensen with the Stein campaign notes 3 ways to show your support for the Stein-Honkala ticket:
First of all, thanks to everyone who has volunteered, donated, and helped spread the word up to this point! We’re definitely gaining momentum!

As you know, this battle is far from over and we need all hands on deck every single day to make a dent in the corporate machine known as the United States presidential campaign.

So, let’s dive in with three easy ways to help today:
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Corruption and bombings

Sunday's New York Times featured James Risen and Duraid Adnan's "U.S. Says Iraqis Are Helping Iran to Skirt Sanctions" on the front page, an article about the White House's knowledge that Iraq is helping Iran "skirt economic sanctions" and how  Barack was "not eager for a public showdown with Nouri."  Today the editorial board for the Detroit Free Press weighs in on the issues -- and notes the Times' article --  observing:

On the bright side, some American taxpayers may be relieved to learn that Iraq's sanction-busting activities signal nothing more than the vitality of public corruption; sound strategic arguments support Iraq's continuing official hostility toward Iran.
But the practical impact of that corruption is essentially the same. The likelihood that at least some of the billions the U.S. and its allies have supplied to Iraq is being used to systematically undermine allied strategic objectives in the Middle East is enough to sour any U.S. taxpayer on continued support for the Malaki government.

It's an interesting editorial.  But corruption is not new to Nouri al-Maliki's government.  I'd love for the editorial board to be correct and US support -- tax payer or government -- to sour.  But I've attended this dance before and, when the music stops, everyone just goes home.

"Corruption in Iraq today is rampant," Judge Radhi Hamza al-Radhi (former member of the Iraqi commission on public integrity) in his opening statement.  He went on to explain that while he was in Iraq investigating corruption "my staff and their relatives have been kidnapped" and worse.  He gave an example of how one of his staffers lost their eighty-year-old father who was kidnapped and his corpse discovered after a power drill had been used on him "to drill" holes.  Flashing a photo of another victim of violence at the committee, al-Radhi declared of it, "Justice loses and corruption wins!"

That's from the March 11, 2008 snapshot.  al-Rahdi was testifying before the US Senate Appropriations Committee.  We covered the hearing, I still remember the Democrats on the Committee being outraged.  They were in charge of the Committee, they're still in charge of the Committee and now there's a Democrat in the White House but did anything change?

Nope.  In 2010, Iraqis voted and Nouri's State of Law came in second.  But the White House disregarded the vote, ignored the will of the Iraqi people, trashed the Iraqi Constitution and backed Nouri.  They even came up with the Erbil Agreement which was nothing but attempted bribery of the political blocs to get Nouri a second term.  (Attempted bribery?  For it to be bribery, you have to get the payment in your hands.  Nouri used the contract to grab a second term and then refused to honor any of the promises made to the other political blocs.)

The Sept. 23, 2008 snapshot reported on the September 22nd Democratic Policy Committee hearing.  Excerpt.

Senator Byron Dorgan: In March, the Senate Appropriations Committee held a hearing at my request, in which we heard from a very courageous Iraqi judge who headed Iraq's Commission of Public Integrity. This agency was established by the Coalition Provisional Authority after the US invasion of Iraq, and charged with rooting out corruption in the new government. Judge al-Radhi estimated that corruption in Iraq's government had resulted in the loss of $18 billion in government funds, and most of those funds had been US tax payer dollars. Judge Radhi said that instead of supporting his efforts to fight corruption, the top levels of the Iraqi government had ultimately suppressed his investigations. [. . . ] Judge Radhi also testified that since the establishment of the Commission of Public Integrity, more than 31 employees have been assassinated as well as at least an additional 12 family members. One would have expected that our own government would have been doing everything it could to support Judge Radhi's anti-corruption efforts. But in hearing of this committee back in May, we heard from two State Dept officials who said that our own government was not interested in ensuring accountability of U.S. funds in Iraq or in rooting out corruption. In fact, one of the officials, retired judge Arthur Brenna, said that some of the stolen funds were steered to the Iraqi insurgency. Yet the administration was generally indifferent to the problem. This indifference has had deadly consequences. We will hear from witnesses today -- one of whom was Judge Radhi's chief investigator in Iraq -- about how stolen US funds have gone to al Qaeda in Iraq. Our earlier hearing with Judge Brennan showed us that the State Dept turns a blind eye when it comes to corruption. Today's hearing will show us what the State Dept turned a blind eye to -- and what the consequences have been.

$18 billion lost in corruption, "most of those funds had been US tax payer dollars." There was no lasting outcry from al-Rahdi's testimony.  November 2008, James Glanz and Riyadh Mohammed's "Premier Of Iraq Is Quietly Firing Fraud Monitors" was published by the New York Times:

Mr. Maliki's stance on oversight was most vividly illustrated by his long-running feud with Judge Rathi al-Rathi, the former head of the Commission on Public Integrity, an oversight agency created by the Coalition Provisional Authority.
After Mr. Rathi's corruption investigations repeatedly embarrassed the Maliki government, the prime minister's office supported corruption charges against Mr. Rathi himself. Mr. Rathi's backers considered the charges to be trumped-up.

And that didn't result in a huge outcry.  Wish it had.  Nouri replaced al-Rahdi with Rahim al-Ogaili and even this hand-picked replacement ended up stepping down (September 9, 2011). No lasting outcry or effect from that either.  The White House under Bush or under Barack doesn't really appear to give a damn how much tax payer money is wasted in Iraq or whose pockets it ends up in.  All they really care is making up justifications to keep propping up Nouri al-Maliki whose thievery is the least of his problems -- he's repeatedly been caught running secret torture cells.  That should have done it.  Why in the world would you replace Saddam Hussein with Little Saddam?  Let alone stroke and water him thereby encouraging him to grow into Even Bigger Saddam?

I hope the editorial board of the Detroit Free Press is correct.  I would love to be wrong on this.  But, again, I've attended this dance before.

Still I sent up my prayer
Wondering where it had to go
With heaven full of astronauts
And the Lord on death row
While the millions of his lost and lonely ones
CalI out and clamour to be found
Caught in their struggle for higher positions
And their search for love that sticks around

 -- "The Same Situation," written by Joni Mitchell, first appears on her Court & Spark

Today Moqtada al-Sadr's Baghdad office was targeted with a bombing which, Baghdad Operations Command tells Alsumaria, resulted in the deaths of 2 people with "several" more left injured.  There are conflicting reports with two bombs placed uner the speaker's podium for Friday prayers or with the attack being done via mortar..  All Iraq News reports 3 dead and eleven injured with two bombs -- one near a booth by the podium.  In addition, a Baquba roadside bombing has left two police officers injuredAll Iraq News notes 4 corpses discovered dumped in Mosul (all had gunshots to the head).  Turkey and the PKK continue to add up 'wins.'  Alsumaria notes that the PKK announced today that they have killed 22 Turkish soldiers (from August 22nd to the present) and that they have injured twelve others while kidnapping the former president of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.  Reuters reports Turkey announced 16 PKK were killed by Turkish forces.  (See the earlier "Turkey and the PKK" from this morning.  Again, we've attended this dance before.)

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Turkey and the PKK

Conflict between Turkey and northern Iraq has been a constant throughout the Iraq War.  Though the governments of Turkey and the KRG have improved relations (while the government out of Baghdad has gone the other way with regards to Turkey),  many problems remain including the hostilities that people feel on both sides.  Murat Yetkn's Hurriyet  column today that probably best captures the mood of those leery and distrustful of the PKK:

Turkey missed its chance when the PKK felt crushed by the arrest of Öcalan. The U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 changed the whole picture in a radical way, partly because Turkey’s Parliament barred the government from allowing American troops to use Turkish territory, and Iraqi Kurds became natural allies for the American troops. The PKK took advantage of the situation and began escalating its armed campaign once again from 2003 on.
Now there is a federal Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in northern Iraq, bordering Turkey and Iran, where the PKK’s main headquarters are based. Despite complaints that the Iraqi government in Baghdad leans toward Iran, world energy giants are signing oil and gas contracts with the KRG one after another. The aim is to transfer the energy resources of Mesopotamia to European markets in a safe way beyond the reach of Iran, and probably Russia as well. Turkey, with its NATO membership and a brand-new anti-missile radar station, in addition to the decades-old İncirlik base, could be a safe option as a location for pipelines as compared to the extremely insecure conditions in the Persian Gulf.

The KRG is the Kurdistan Regional Government and there are some who will note that it was created in 1992 and that, the way the above unfolds, it sounds as though it were created in 2003.  Others will note that the PKK and the KRG are not the same thing and have no official ties to one another.  Both of the first two sentences in this paragraph deal with facts.  Facts are very important.  So are impressions and misimpressions.  When two groups are in conflict, there are basic facts and, just as important, there is what people believe -- whether it's right or wrong. With that in mind, here's Taha Ozhan, also from a Hurriyet column:

However hard the PKK may try to legitimize their existence and actions with help from outdated arguments of the third-world post-colonial left and trauma analyses, it nonetheless fails to address the following question: Does the PKK, in the context of Turkey’s Kurdish question, intend to lay down its arms under any circumstance? As we are going through the strongest regularization trend in Republican history, the PKK evolved from the single most important actor of the Kurdish question and into the “PKK problem of the Kurdish question.” This deep rupture introduced Kurdish neo-nationalism into the PKK’s main agenda at the expense of the Kurdish question’s resolution dynamics. Not accounting for the living conditions of the Kurds who are ineligible for citizenship in Syria, subject to serial executions in Iran and residents of a de facto political incubator in Iraq, the PKK continues to resort to terror at the expense of Turkey’s Kurds.

So those are two impressions, from Turkey, of the PKK and the KRG which are linked in the minds of some even though the KRG is a government and it has publicly repudiated the violence of the PKK.  Who are the PKK?   Aaron Hess (International Socialist Review) described the PKK in 2008, "The PKK emerged in 1984 as a major force in response to Turkey's oppression of its Kurdish population. Since the late 1970s, Turkey has waged a relentless war of attrition that has killed tens of thousands of Kurds and driven millions from their homes. The Kurds are the world's largest stateless population -- whose main population concentration straddles Turkey, Iraq, Iran, and Syria -- and have been the victims of imperialist wars and manipulation since the colonial period. While Turkey has granted limited rights to the Kurds in recent years in order to accommodate the European Union, which it seeks to join, even these are now at risk."

What is going on is what has gone on since the beginning of time.  One group pitted against another.  It's not even really about what Turks and Kurds want or think they need.  It's about their governments.  The Turks had the power and the numbers and their government -- as most governments do and certainly the United States, a relatively young country on the world stage, also has done this repeatedly in its own history -- elected to suppress a minority population.  The Kurds were actually suppressed and oppressed by a number of governments in that region and they remain the largest ethnic minority in the world without a homeland.  Turks today can look at some of the measures under Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and feel that things have changed.

And certainly, things have changed since 1991, for example.  But to objective observers outside of the situation, it's not only not enough, it's that the changes are pretty much cosmetic.

In the US, the historical oppressed include the Native Americans, African-Americans and Asian Americans (especially with regards to westward expansion and WWII on the last grouping).  That's not a full listing.  (And I've left women off the list because the oppression of women tends to be a global issue).  To use just the Native Americans, how do you ever make up for a genocide?  How do you make up for driving people off lands?  For taking lands that were seen as belonging to all and individually stamping "MINE" on them and "KEEP OUT"?

Native Americans have been wronged by the US government.  A few cosmetic changes does not alter that nor does it bring them up to speed on the page of equality with other groups.

The same is true in Turkey.  The Kurds have been historically oppressed and a few cosmetic changes and 'We let them speak their own language now!' is really not cutting it and for those who argue that change takes time, the Kurds have been oppressed for how long?  Exactly how many decades or centuries are they supposed to wait for equal access and equal opportunity?

Oh, they can speak their own language in public and have a channel now that broadcasts in it?  That's something to cheer?  That's considered basic in most countries.  Nothing wonderful was awarded to them with that.

The Kurds are a growing population and that worries the Turkish government for a number of reasons including national identity.  In the US, there are often national identity concerns with waves of immigrants -- such as with Asian Americans and the westward expansion or with the wave of Latinos. We all like to think our culture, our beliefs, our ways of doing things are the best.  And we may kid ourselves that we don't think that but when we perceive the possibility of threat to them, we often act based on that belief.  The Turks (I'm speaking of the people, not the government) who fear the daily lives altering are not 'strange' or 'mean.'  They are honestly concerned because at the heart of the feeling of 'this is the best' is usually a way of honoring those who've come before.  And the notion that your way could vanish creates a panic that's often linked to the fear of one's own mortality.

There are a number of issues at play.  And we're noting them because it's very simple and very easy to say, "Oh, ___ is evil.  They are just evil people.  They just hate and evil."  And you can see this in any land dispute -- and land disputes are not simple no matter what the ass Chris Hill told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee at his confirmation hearing in 2009. In any land dispute, outsiders rush to say, "This is the group to root for! They are noble and beautiful!  That other group is evil and barbaric!"

And the reality is we're all a mixture of many things.

Turkey's going to have to realize that, the people and the government.  They're also going to have to step back and look at life through the eyes of a Kurd and ask themselves how that is a fair and equal life?  They are the ones who will have to make the effort because they are the ones in power.  And making that efforts going to require losing a lot of ingrained impressions.

The bombings of northern Iraq by the Turkish warplanes never stop.  And nothing's being solved by them.  The PKK will not be 'killed' by violence.  It's not going to happen.  It does not happen that way historically.  And a really ugly side of the human spirit emerges with the boasts of we got X PKK in our bombings.  As ugly as it is, it's also very ignorant because you probably create, at a minimum, two more 'freedom fighters' for every one you kill.

Turkey (the government and the political elite) keep decrying the PKK and focusing on the PKK -- with bombs or words.  That's not how you're going to find peace or resolution.  The PKK was created by the situation in the region.  Only changing the situation for the Kurds ends the PKK.  At some point, wise leaders may realize that.  Otherwise, they're looking at more years of bombings and attacks and counter-attacks and the never-ending cycle of violence.

The following community sites -- plus Susan's On The Edge, On The Wilder Side, Tavis Smiley, Adam Kokesh,, The Pacifica Evening News, NYT's At War blog and  Watching America  -- updated last night and this morning:

  • Mike's "Worries for a friend" from last night isn't showing up.


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