Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Iraq snapshot

Tuesday, March 18, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, the assault on Anbar continues, Greg Mitchell remains a hostage of 2002, Ayad Allawi warns election may not take place April 30th, Nouri's bill which would destroy the lives of Iraqi girls and women gets attention, also getting attention the failure of US feminist organizations to cover the bill, and much more.

The Nation magazine needs to stop begging for money to everyone who visits the website.  They don't do anything worth paying for.  They don't report, they just have a lot of commentary.  We now know it's not truthful commentary thanks to Journolist revealing that Katha Pollitt who attacked Sarah Palin was actually impressed with Sarah Palin.  She could say that in an e-mail list but she wouldn't say it at her outlet.

It's empty talk from empty minds.

As we noted yesterday, there was no report on Iraq filed in the US Monday.  So when an e-mail says, "The Nation's covering Iraq," I'll check it out.

The Nation isn't covering Iraq.  Greg Mitchell pulled from his bad book and p.r. release from seven years ago.  There's nothing new in his trash can.

He can dig through it as long as he wants, but there's nothing new there.

He doesn't look smart copying and pasting the same tired paragraphs.

He looks even more foolish as The Nation has a pop up begging for your money , "Support us with a digital subscription" -- why?

So Greg can publish every week -- publish something already in the archives that he's added nothing to.

That's not even journalism.  That's repurposing.

He lives in the past, he's consumed by it.

He whines that the media lied in the lead up to the illegal war (2002 through this month in 2003).

Can someone please take him out of the room because grown ups need to talk.

The US media didn't cover Iraq correctly in 2002 and early 2003?

What a shocker.

Meanwhile, in the real world, there's this.

That's Al Mada.

As we have noted repeatedly since Saturday, cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr returned to Iraq on Friday to lead that protest against Nouri al-Maliki.

No one else has written about it in the US.  Not USA Today, not CNN, not the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, McClatchy . . .

This is news.  What Moqtada did was news.  What the US media has done with it (ignore it) is news as well.

But Greg Mitchell keeps interrupting adult conversation to walk in the room desperately jerking on his limp dick that's apparently never ever going to get hard and fantasizing about 2002 when he had a real job at Editor & Publisher.

If you've got nothing new to offer, retire.  Stop boring everyone by repeating your writing from a decade ago.  You're not helping anyone.

Do we get that he can't even beyond March of 2013?

The lead up to the war reporting is not what kept US troops over there.

As we repeatedly noted in real time, the war porn of John F. Burns and Dexter Filkins (a War Hawk that 'left' outlets like MSNBC work to rehabilitate) kept US troops there.

Because they lied.

Filkins was present when White Phosphorus was being used on Falluja.

He never wrote about it.

Iraqis struggle with cancers and birth defects right now because of that.

But no one else can call out Filkins?

On the third day of this site in 2004, I wrote "It's just another day, another episode" about Filkins' awful propaganda -- which he'd go on to win an award for -- one he wouldn't today.  In that piece, I noted Dexy got the military's approval, he let them vet his copy.  That's why the Sunday paper included Dexy story's on the front page -- Dexy's several days old story: "The rah-rah piece carries the dateline "Nov. 18" in this story published in the November 21st edition. Allowing for the time needed to put together a Sunday edition, I'm still questioning that. The story was filed on the 18th (Thursday) and pops up on the 21st (Sunday). And there's the added detail, not provided in Dexter Filkins story, that Lance Cpl. William Miller died November 15th (http://icasualties.org/oif/prdDetails.aspx?hndRef=11-2004)."

Are we the only damn people who can call him out for that?

Danny Schechter gets credit for calling him out once.   That's not a whole lot but it's one more time than Greg Mitchell ever did.

Even now, Greg Mitchell can't.

To be really honest, I consider people like Greg to be useless bitches.

They have neither the brains nor the spine to speak up when it's needed.  They jerk off to nostalgia and pretend they made a contribution.  They didn't even try.

Dexter Filkins lied repeatedly.  When we started calling him out here, what did he do?

Started speaking sotto voice on campuses about how the paper wouldn't let him write about this or that.  (He's now at The New Yorker.)

And, if true, I care why?

I don't.

The New York Times has been a cesspool for most of its life.  You didn't need Iraq to learn that.  Yes, Gore Vidal was much more caustic critiquing that rag among friends but he wrote strong enough criticism about the paper to explain it was an arm of the US State Dept.  So forgive me for not being impressed with Greg Mitchell's early onset of dementia.

If people had held Filkins accountable instead of offering excuses for him  (I'm being real damn kind here and not calling out _____ because I remain friends with his father), he would have had to have gone public with the truth instead of spending years on campuses telling what he should have been writing about.

If the American people had known how poorly the illegal war was going, they would have turned against it sooner.  Liars like Dexy and Burnsie prolonged the illegal war.  We pointed that out repeatedly.  One example, "2006: The Year of Living Dumbly (Year in Review):"

What Miller (and others -- including Gordo) did in the run up to the war is important, is historical. But in 2006, if you're going on a radio show to talk about the war and the press or doing so in print, you need to be able to cite something a bit more contemporary than articles that ran in 2002 and 2003. As we've long noted here, if (IF) Judith Miller and her crowd got us over there, it was the Dexter Filkins that kept us there. But, outside of Danny Schechter, name a media critic that addressed Filkins.

If it was depressing in 2006 to see the limited space granted the topic of Iraq be wasted on pre-war conversations, it's shameful that eight years later, lazy asses think they can go to the well yet again.

It's tired, it's old, it's moldly.

You write it because you're too damn lazy to do any work.  You're writing the same damn article over and over for over a decade.  It's not journalism, it's Groundhog Day.  It's not even bad journalism and it's certainly not worth anyone digging in their pockets to try to pay for this garbage.

There's so much going on in Iraq that needs attention.

For example,  Saturday, March 8th, Iraqi women took to the streets of Baghdad to protest a bill Nouri al-Maliki forwarded to Parliament which would allow the age of girls to be married off to drop to 8 (if you can be divorced at 9, you can marry at 8), would strip mothers of custodial rights (but not fathers), would legalized marital rape and much more.

AFP's Ammar Karim discovers the bill today.  Among those carrying the report are the Saudi Gazette, Globa Post, Australia's Herald Sun,  and Times-Live.  The number carrying the AFP report will grow.   Friday, the Associated Press' Sameer N. Yacoub and Sinan Salaheddin provided a lengthy report ("Also under the proposed measure, a husband can have sex with his wife regardless of her consent. The bill also prevents women from leaving the house without their husband's permission, would restrict women's rights in matters of parental custody after divorce and make it easier for men to take multiple wives.") and it was carried by numerous outlets including Huffington Post, The Australian, The Daily Beast, WA Today,  Savannah Morning News, San Francisco Chronicle, the Seattle Times, News 24, Daily Inter Lake, the Scotland Herald, Sydney Morning Herald, Singapore Today, the Irish Independent, The Scotsman, Lebanon's Daily Star, The Belfast Telegraph and Canada's CBC.  UPI covers the issue by noting Felicity Arbuthnot's article from earlier in the week.

Karim notes:

Critics point in particular to a clause of Article 147 in the bill which allows for girls to divorce at the age of nine, meaning they could conceivably marry even earlier, and another article which would require a wife to have sex with her husband whenever he demands.
Other clauses have been ridiculed for their specificity, from the conditions under which mothers must breastfeed their children to how many nights a polygamous man must spend with each wife and how he may use additional nights.

Last week, we repeatedly noted that American feminist organizations were silent on this issue and needed to find their voices.  For example:

I'm wondering why the Iraqi women are yet again let down by America?  Why news outlets still won't cover them or their issues?  Why a protest took place in Baghdad on Saturday, Iraqi feminists protested, and American feminists and feminist groups and feminist outlets can't say one damn word to help the Iraqi women? 


Human Rights Watch weighed in yesterday with "Iraq: Don’t Legalize Marriage for 9-Year-Olds" and that's already had an impact leading RTT and UCA News to pick up the story.
But where's everyone else?
This is a human rights issue.  So CNN, CBS, NBC and ABC, why aren't you covering it?
Or NPR for that matter?
It's another case of when it effects females, it's not 'news,' it's 'special interest.'
But if you're a feminist (I am), don't sit too proud on that high horse.  Ms. has plenty of time to follow the celebs, they just can't cover the news.
Women's Media Center?
Not a word.
This is appalling -- both the move and the lack of coverage of it.

You didn't want to listen, did you?  You thought you knew best, didn't you?

Well you didn't, you didn't know one damn thing.

This is becoming a popular Tweet today:

  • ": Women in Iraq worry bout spousal rape & marriage at 9. Women in UD worry abt words " WW need to stop

  • By being silent all last week, you gave plenty of reasons for the above illustration to become so popular.

    I don't know how you defend against that critique or that you can.

    "Bossy"?  We haven't wasted one damn minute on that crap.

    When you're trying to address real issues, you just don't have the time for corporatism passed off as feminism.

    Ms. and Women's Media Center still -- as of right now -- have not said one damn word about the bill that would harm so many Iraqi women and girls.

    You make yourselves look useless.  Again, we warned all last week how this was looking.

    Alexandra Sifferlin (Time magazine) also reports on the bill:

    “It’s a provocative act that’s gotten a lot of attention, and blatantly violates Iraq’s constitution,” Erin Evers, an Iraq researcher based in Baghdad for Human Rights Watch, said in an interview.
    The law, called The Jaafari Personal Status Law, still hasn’t been approved by Iraq’s parliament, and likely won’t be until after April’s elections, the Associated Press reports. Based on a school of Islamic law, it was introduced last year and unexpectedly approved last month by the Cabinet of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
    “I certainly haven’t heard anyone defend it except the minister who introduced it,” said Evers. “But I never thought it would get as far as it did.” She calls the bill, which stoked protests in Baghdad on March 8, International Women’s Day, a major step back for women’s rights and the country as a whole. 

    Last week, Human Rights Watch offered "Iraq: Don’t Legalize Marriage for 9-Year-Olds."  Alice Speri (Vice News) explores the issue with Iraqi activist Hanaa Edwar:

    “We consider it a crime against humanity, against the dignity of women, against childhood,” Hanaa Edwar, secretary general of the human rights group Iraqi al Amal Association, told VICE News. “This is very bad, very diminishing for women.”
    Edwar called the law “backwards” and said it is not only anti-constitutional but it also violates the principles of Islam.
    “It changes the relationship between the wife and the husband, it is really contrary to religion, which bases this relationship on love, understanding, and on partnership,” she said. “This law is only a tool for sex, smashing the dignity of women and smashing the stability of family life.”

    Earlier this month, War News Radio addressed the topic of the so-called 'honor' killings, sex trafficking and more.  Excerpt.

    Sabrina Merold:  If you're a woman in Iraq and for whatever reasons you're seen with a boy who's not a family member, you don't return home for a night or you stay in a women's shelter, the last thing you do is go back home.  That's because these things all expose a woman or girl to face 'honor' violence at her home leaving her afraid to return and susceptible to falling into the hands of sex traffickers.  When these women and girls are arrested for prostitution, even though Iraq signed into law a comprehensive anti-trafickking legislation in 2012, they are typically convicted and placed in jail.  With turmoil and violence in Iraq, the issue of sex trafficking is just not a priority.  On the societal level and in the legal system, for change to occur, Sherizan Minwala believes we need to reframe how we see women and girls.  They are victims of sex trafficking, not prostitutes.  The problem is we rarely hear from a girl in this situation. 

    Sherizaan Minwala:  [. . .]  But I think starting from the perspective of the victims, hearing their voices and really listening to them is so important.  The piece that's so tough is having compassion for the victims and really understand how they got there, what they're going through, what keeps them in that situation.   And I think once we develop that compassion, that understanding, a lot can come from that. 

    Sabrina Merold:  That's Sherizaan Minwala the Deputy Country Director in Iraq for Mercy Corps -- an international development organization based in the United States.  In Iraq, 'honor' crimes run deep.  These traditions, not strictly religious, but common in Muslim societies mean that an entire family's reputation is jeopardized by the perceived sexual impurity of any family member.  In the eyes of many tribal, religious and community members, killing a woman that has had sex outside of marriage -- even in the case of rape -- is the best way to restore family dignity.  Minwala believes 'honor' violence leaves women fearful for their safety yet escaping 'honor' violence does not ensure freedom but a high risk of being trafficked into prostitution.

    Sherizan Minwala:  You know if the relationship comes out that puts you at risk.  You might be killed by your father, or uncle or someone else in the  family.  But then also once you leave home, because you're afraid, that puts you at risk. In cases where girls have been involved in a relationship, then they're afraid their father's going to find out   And then the men they've been involved with they ask for help to get away or run away and they end up taking them to a brothel. 

    Newsweek's attempting a comeback.  It died.  It deserved to die.

    Early into the Iraq War, it was Newsweek which 'reported' (lied) that teenage girls setting themselves on fire were doing so to be popular and chase the latest craze.  With absolutely no proof -- because Newsweek never needed since so much of its copy historically was actually churned out by the CIA --  Newsweek dubbed the whole thing a copy-cat trend.

    It never made sense, no.

    "Did you hear!  Melissa set herself on fire and died in the hospital!  That is so cool!  I want to do that!  Please do it with me!"

    But Newsweek printed the crap in 2007.  Today The Economist shows much more sense in addressing the topic noting that girls setting themselves on fire is continuing in the Kurdistan Region:

     “I can say it has happened in every family,” says Falah Muradkan-Shaker of the Kurdish NGO WADI, which tries to tackle violence against women in all its forms. The phenomenon can only be understood in the wider context of women’s rights in Kurdistan, he says. Survivors of self-burning often explain that they felt trapped in traditional, arranged marriages, which in some cases means they were betrothed at birth to cousins or tribal kinsmen. A majority have also faced some form of domestic violence whether by fathers, husbands, or in-laws.
    Honour killings by male family members are still common in Kurdistan, despite laws aimed to protect women. Mr Muradkan-Shaker says this leads many Kurdish women to view their families not as protectors but as “people who might attack you at any minute.” Unable to leave abusive marriages for fear of being killed by their partners or families, and without government support for vulnerable women, victims turn to suicide. “She feels she is dead,” Mr Muradkan-Shaker explains. “So she says, ‘I’m already dead; let’s make the process faster.’”  

    It wasn't always like this for women in Iraq.  Iraq was a leader in the region.  Ali Mamouri (Al-Montior) explains:

    Iraq was a pioneer of women's movements demanding equality between women and men in Arab countries. Very early on, Iraq saw the emergence of important figures who fought for women's rights and to liberate them from social and religious persecution. In 1910, the famed Iraqi poet and teacher Jamil Sidky Zahawi published an article in the Egyptian journal Al-Moayed about the need to liberate women from the shackles of backward social traditions. It was later republished in the Iraqi journal Tanweer al-Afkar. This article sparked a widespread social movement, with participants split between supporters and opponents of the idea.
    In 1924, renowned Iraqi journalist Hussein al-Rahal and his colleagues founded a broad social movement for the liberation of women. The same year, the Women's Renaissance Club was established in Baghdad. Since that time, women activists emerged calling for the liberation of women. Among the most famous of these activists is Paulina Hassoun, one of the leaders of the women's renaissance. Hassoun launched the first Iraqi feminist journal in 1923, called Layla. Moreover, Iraq witnessed the first female minister of state in the entire Arab world, with Naziha al-Dulaimi serving as minister of municipalities from 1959-62. In 1952, Dulaimi founded the Iraqi League for the Defense of Women’s Rights (later known as the Iraqi Women’s League) and served as its first president.
    Since its founding, the Iraqi women's renaissance has been concerned with calling for a personal status law to replace the discriminatory laws that remained from the Ottoman era. After years of struggle, their efforts finally succeeded, when Iraq issued a civil personal status law in 1959. This law tried to comply with international conventions concerning women's equality, without compromising the prevailing religious beliefs in society.

    Through yesterday, Iraq Body Count notes 555 violent deaths in the month so far.

    National Iraqi News Agency reports Joint Operations Command announced they killed 17 suspects in Falluja, Joint Operations Command also announced they believe they killed Qusay Anbari whom they believe recruits suicide bombers, two border guards were injured "near the Iraqi-Syrian border," a Mahmudiya car bombing left 1 person dead and five more injured, 2 Hilla car bombings left five people injured, a Mosul battle left 2 police members injured, the Ministry of the Interior's Saad Maan declared 4 car bombings "in the provinces of Bablyon and Wasit" left 12 people dead, Bablyon Governor Sadeq al-Sultani declared 2 people were killed and six injured in 3 Babylon car bombings, a Bab Baghdad car bombing left 4 people dead and thirteen injured, a Wajihiya sticky bombing left 1 city council member dead, a Ramadi battle left 4 Iraqi soldiers dead, a battle "east of Fallujah" left 2 Iraqi soldiers dead (one more injured) and 3 rebels killed, Joint Operations Command announced they killed 1 suspect in Mosul,  a western Baghdad (al-Ghazaliya) car bombing killed 1 person and left four people injured, 2 Kut car bombings left six people injured, 2 southeast Baghdad bombings left 3 people dead and seventeen more injured,  in an attack on a Hit cement plant an investor business trader (Jordan's Khaled Hammoud) was kidnapped and a Heet car bombing late yesterday left two Iraqi soldiers injured.  Xinhua adds, "Elsewhere, a car bomb struck a police patrol in the city of Baiji, some 200 km north of Baghdad, killing a policeman and wounding six people."

    In addition, Nouri's bombing of Falluja's residential neighborhoods left 1 civilian dead, two adults injured and two children injured.

    Iraq is supposed to hold parliamentary elections April 30th.  The winner of the last round (in 2010) was Ayad Allawi and today he expressed concerns over the elections.  Hamza Mustafa (Asharq Al-Awsat) reports:

    In a speech to a youth organization affiliated to his National Iraqi Alliance on Tuesday, Allawi expressed doubts about the integrity and transparency of the forthcoming elections.
    Citing reports by the Independent Higher Elections Commission that forged electronic voting cards were being sold in Iraq, Allawi questioned the integrity and legitimacy of the forthcoming elections, adding that the Nuri Al-Maliki government should have revealed these problems sooner.
    Allawi affirmed that the exclusion of a number of candidates from the election and the deteriorating security situation in Iraq are also threatening the forthcoming political elections. A number of serving and former Iraqi parliamentarians have been excluded from the elections, including former finance minister Rafie Al-Issawi.
    He added that security breaches had become a daily occurrence, and that “effecting change and saving the country from disaster were now in the hands of Iraqi youth, not the politicians.”
    “The Iraqi people have little desire to go to the elections because the only thing that has resulted from previous elections is discriminatory policies. The people have been met with exclusion and sectarian division,” Allawi said.

    He warned that “the policies of oppression and marginalization are now in full swing through the exclusion of MPs from the elections.”

    National Iraqi News Agency adds:

    Allawi said in a speech during a meeting with youth organizations of the coalition, that there are indications that the parliamentary elections will not be held in Iraq under the current conditions in Iraq.
    He added that one of these indicators is the announcement of the Electoral Commission for elections for the presence of the sale and falsification of voter electronic cards.
    He said Allawi that the another indicator is the processes of exclusion of candidates from political activists forcibly, and expressed his confidence that Iraqi judiciary keep on the legal situation in Iraq and the government institutions needed to apply the law.