Friday, December 05, 2008

The crazy and the sane

Weekend, weekend, finally the weekend!!!!!! :D
Okay, this is from Warren Richey's "Supreme Court case: Can terror suspect in US be held indefinitely?:"

The US Supreme Court has agreed to take up the case of Ali Saleh al-Marri, a graduate student and suspected Al Qaeda sleeper agent who has been held without charge in a US military prison for more than five years.
The high court made the announcement on Friday after its private conference.
The case poses the most significant unresolved legal question yet in the Bush administration's controversial approach to the war on terror, and it sets the stage for another potential landmark national security decision next June.
At issue is whether the president has the power to order someone who is legally present in the United States to be held in indefinite military detention as an "enemy combatant."

Media Lens has a lengthy reply to Geroge Monbiot and here's some of it:

Hi George
We’re happy to hear from you again. But why now? We wrote to you just over one year ago, asking why you had written:
"I believe that Iran is trying to acquire the bomb." (Monbiot, ‘The Middle East has had a secretive nuclear power in its midst for years,’ The Guardian, November 20, 2007;
We asked you to explain the basis for your belief. You also wrote: "Yes, Iran under Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is a dangerous and unpredictable state involved in acts of terror abroad. The president is a Holocaust denier opposed to the existence of Israel."
We asked if you believed that Ahmadinejad, rather than Khamenei, was the supreme ruler of Iran. If so, why? And we asked which "acts of terror abroad" you had in mind: did you include the claims that Iran had supplied Explosively-Formed Penetrators to blow up US-UK tanks and troops in Iraq, for example? Finally, we asked the basis for your belief that Ahmadinejad was "opposed to the existence of Israel".
We wrote a further two times but received no reply. Two years earlier, you had written to us:“I know we've had disagreements in the past, but I wanted to send you a note of appreciation for your work. Your persistence seems to be paying off: it's clear that many of the country's most prominent journalists are aware of Medialens, read your bulletins and, perhaps, are beginning to feel the pressure. If, as I think you have, you have begun to force people working for newspapers and broadcasters to look over their left shoulders as well as their right, and worry about being held to account for the untruths they disseminate, then you have already performed a major service to democracy. I feel you have begun to open up a public debate on media bias, which has been a closed book in the United Kingdom for a long time.” (Email, February 2, 2005) More recently, we asked for your views on the Guardian’s latest comments on fossil fuel advertising - again, no reply. Why?

I like it when there are real independent organizations like Media Lens. It takes courage to call out the way that they do

Swtiching topics, can someone explain to me why Rick Montgomery of McClatchy thinks people saying Barack's birth certificate is false is worthy or ridicule; however, but alleged professional journalist Andrew Sullivan can write nutso at The Atlantic Monthly withough Rick Montgmery feeling the need to do an article or ridicule Sullivan? Here's Crazy Ass Bareback Sullivan:

Maybe this photo has been photo-shopped. Maybe Palin had an anomalous pregnancy that showed far, far less than her previous ones, one that went from close to nothing to a serious bump in two weeks. Maybe the angle in the photo is misleading, and leaning toward us her pregnancy is concealed. Maybe her fifth labor really did take 26 hours combined via a speaking engagement (as amniotic fluid was leaking) and an 11 hour airplane flight (when a birth could have begun at any moment at extreme risk to the child), and maybe the bizarre and, to my mind, incredible stories she has told about the pregnancy and labor are true (there is still a chance they are). But if all these things are true, the Palin camp has had months to provide what would be instantly available records to dismiss all and every "insane" blog speculation about this. And yet none came - on or off the record.

Which is more extreme? People wondering if Barack was born in this country or a 'professional' 'journalist' insisting that the country must investigate Sarah Palin's pregnancy? He's a nut case. Let's move over to the sane world, here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Friday, December 5, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, Iraq holds an Energy Expo . . . as the price of oil drops further, the 'coalition' continues to shrink, a military trial ends in tears and shouts at the verdict, and more.

Today the Iraq Energy Expo took place at Baghdad International Airport and the sponsor was the mercenaries for hire corporation Triple Canopy Inc.
Sourcewatch notes that the company, started in September 2003, was awarded over $90 million in US government contracts before the end of 2005. The Iraqi-American Chamber of Commerce and Industry organized the event. Gina Chon (Wall St. Journal's Baghdad Life) observes that "Iraqi oil officials made sure they put their best faces on today" for the "large crowd" turning out for the expo (due to complete on Sunday) and that the bulk of the crrowd will be staying at the new hotel just opened at Baghdad International Airport. The expo was originally supposed to take place from October 17th through the 19th but it was cancelled due to the fact that the convention center wasn't fully constructed at that point. UPI's Ben Lando noted the announced ates back in September were December 3rd to 5th. AFP reports that "many major global oil companies" -- such as Exxon, Total and BP -- skipped the expo and quotes an unnamed US oil company exec complaining, "Since we have been here, we haven't made money. We sent some expert teams, then we took them back (as) we had no results. There are two many problems." Of the 'guests'/ 'visitors,' Chon notes, "Because they were limited to either the conference hall or their hotel rooms, the one amenity they did appreciate was a bar in the hotel, one of the few in Baghdad. The bar opens at noon and last call is at 11:30 p.m., but it closes after midnight. 'I'm not allowed to go anywhere except the hotel and the oil conference, so at least there is the bar go to,' one international company representative said. 'There is nothing else to do at night. That will be one drawback if we set up here." Quick, get that on the travel brochure! Ben Landon (UPI) reports that Hussain al-Shahristani, Iraq's Oil Minister, gave the keynote speech and insisted during it that the oil reserves in his country were "understated" and he also declared, "The oil sector represents an important part of Iraq's recent history and also its future." That as Mark Shenk (Bloomberg News) explains, "Crude oil fell for a sixth day, capping the biggest weekly drop since the Persian Gulf War in 1991, on concern demand will decline after a resport showed U.S. employers cut jobs in November at the fastest pace since 1974. Oil is down 25 percent since Nov. 28 as the recession deepened in the U.S., Europe and Japan."

The energy expo took place while many issues were still up in the air.
Gina Chon (Wall St. Journal) reports that Hussein al-Shahrastani was sending "mixed signals" today "about a possible detente over oil contracts between the central government and the semi-autonomous Kurdish region." Anna Fifield, Javier Blas and Delphine Strauss (Iraq Updates) note, "Iraq's central government and regional authorities in Kurdistan are moving closer to signing a long-awaited oil deal that could pave the way for exports from the northern region's oil fields early next year." But Ben Lando (UPI) explains, "Eleven days after the Iraqi oil minister traveled to the KRG capital, Erbil, for meetings with the region's prime minister and oil minister, both sides have continued firing warning shots in the debate that has continued for more than a year on Kurdish oil contracts with the international oil companies."

While foreigners visit for the expo, foreign troops beat a hasty retreat out of the country.
This week South Korea was among those ending their missions in Iraq. The
KRG notes Nechirvan Barzani, KRG Prime Minister, declared to Kim Joong-ryun (Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff Vice Chair), "We are pleased with this relationship and proud of this friendship with the people of Korea. The motto that you brought to the Kurdistan Region was 'We are friends'. I can say with full sincerity, and from the bottom of my heart, that we in the Kurdistan Region are your true friends, too." Mike noted Tony Perry's "IRAQ: Back to Azerbaijan, 'land of valiant sons'" (Los Angeles Times' Babylon & Beyond) last night on Azerbaijan's departure and , Tina Susman (Los Angeles Times) reported yesterday on a ceremony held in Iraq for Tonga who "became the latest member of the 'coalition of the willing' to end its mission in Iraq." (Tonga had 55 service members stationed in Iraq.) Gina Chon (Wall St. Journal's Baghdad Life) reports the Czech Republic had their departure ceremony yesterday . Any nations who decide to continue stationing troops in Iraq will need to reach some agreement one-on-one with the puppet government. Adam Ashton (McClatchy Newspapers) notes that next month only six countries are expected to have troops in Iraq: Australia, El Salvador, Estonia, Romania, the UK and the US. Troops aren't the only ones leaving. After the US, the next largest number of troops comes from the UK. Alissa J. Rubin (International Herald Tribune) states they have 4,100 soldiers stationed in Iraq and notes of the treaty the UK is attempting to work out with the puppet government, "A diplomat at the British Embassy in Baghdad who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the media said that the negotiations were continuing but that the mission of British forces here would be dramatically reduced by early next year. After that, British forces will be almost exclusively involved in training Iraqi troops, according to Iraqi officials." Corinne Reilly (McClatchy Newspapers) reflects on her seven weeks reporting from Iraq: "I saw a lot of people cry while I was in Iraq, but I think of the hugging soldiers and the rocking civilian most often. Maybe it was the strangeness of seeing uniformed soldiers in tears. Maybe it's the way they made me feel: guilty, because I got to leave. Whatever the reasons, I'm glad that I think about them, glad that their grief is my last remembrance of Iraq. Because for all the stories of reduced violence and political and social successes there, Iraq remains, for the most part, a devastated country."

On the treaty the White House is pushing through with their puppet government in Iraq,
Campbell Robertson (New York Times) observes, "If the pact were to fail in the referendum, which is scheduled to be held in July, Iraq would pull out of the agreement. But that process, under the agreement's terms, would require giving the Americans a year's notice." Ramzy Baroud (Information Clearing House) notes the nonsense of the press in reporting the treaty: "Thousands of headlines exuded from media outlets, largely giving the false impression that the Iraqi government and parliament have a real say over the future of US troops in their country, once again playing into the ruse fashioned by Washington that Iraq is a democratic country, operating independently from the dictates of US Ambassador to Baghdad Ryan Crocker and the top commander of US toops in Iraq, General Ray Odierno." Noting the stenography of the press, Baroud makes a point to cite the Guardian's Jonathan Steel and Al Jazeera's English website for the poor job they did in covering the treaty. From his column:

What is particularly interesting about the Iraq case is that news reports and media analysts scampered to dissect the 18- page agreement as if a piece of paper with fancy wording would in any way prove binding upon the US administration which, in the last eight years, has made a mockery of international law and treaties that have been otherwise used as a global frame of reference. Why would the US government, which largely acted alone in Iraq, violated the Geneva Conventions, international law and even its own war and combat regulations, respect an agreement signed with an occupied, hapless power constituted mostly of men and women handpicked by the US itself to serve the role of "sovereign"?

It's also bewildering how some important details are so conveniently overlooked; for example, the fact that the Iraqi government can sign a separate agreement with the US to extend the deadline for withdrawal should the security situation deem such an agreement necessary. Instead, the focus was made on "concessions" obtained by the Iraqis regarding Iraq's jurisdiction over US citizens and soldiers who commit heinous crimes while "off duty" and outside their military bases. This precisely means that the gruesome crimes committed in prisons such as Abu Ghraib and the wilful shooting last year of 17 Iraqi civilians by Blackwater mercenaries in Nisour Square in Central Baghdad is of no concern for Iraqis. And even when crimes that fall under Iraqi jurisdiction are reported, such matters are to be referred to a joint US-Iraqi committee. One can only assume that those with the bigger guns will always prevail in their interpretation of the agreement.

From those duped by the treaty to the duped workers now trapped/imprisoned in Iraq,
Michael Ware (CNN) reports they have reported physical battering as well, stating that "Iraqi police handcuffed and beat them" and while "the men spoke to CNN on camera, an official in charge of them threatened to lock them out of the compound unless they returned inside within two minutes." Deborah Haynes (Times of London's Inside Iraq) quoted one of the men, Ganesh Kumar Bhagat, stating, "We have no money, no food, no toilet, no water, no job. The first time I arrived here I was happy, I had a good feeling. But we have not been lucky. Nobody should come to Iraq."

Certainly note with all the ongoing violence or the fact that it is an illegal war. On the violence,
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing that claimed 2 lives and left two people injured and an Iranian "bombardment" in Sulaimaniyah that injured a shepherd. It's a Friday, not a lot of violence gets reported.

Tina Susman (Los Angeles Times) filed a piece expressing the belief that Moqtada al-Sadr was losing influence in Iraq and that Parliament's vote in favor of the treaty was among the signs "of how Sadr's clout has diminished since 2005". I disagree. And prior to the flare up in Basra, I had bought the idea that he had lost influence. The rumors then were he was a hotel clerk in Najaf (alternatating with Iran) and studying. He had been gone from Sadr City (if not Iraq) for some time and the residents were living in a violent hell with no one to speak up for them, let alone to protect them. I have no problem stating I was wrong in thinking he'd lost his influence. When Basra flared up (al-Maliki launched his attack on the city -- jumping the announced date and doing so without the US military's express consent or lengthy consultation according to what Gen David Petraeus told Congress in April), al-Sadr stood alone as the person standing up. He called out the attack. His stock rose. Despite the fact that there was no 'win' for al-Sadr in either the assault on Basra or on Sadr City (started shortly after), his stock rose. He became seen -- rightly or wrongly -- as someone who spoke the truth and that image went far beyond just his usual supporters or even just Shi'ites. Susman's take may be correct but it may not. I don't believe (my opinion) he's losing influence. Sudarsan Raghavan (Washington Post) has a report that could be picked for support that al-Sadr's losing influence or that he's holding steady (or gaining). The thrust of the report is that his supporters are going to have to find other ways to build the movement. No doubt they will. However, problems his supporters have are their own. Moqtada enjoys a special status because of his father and because of his actions since the start of the illegal war. To point to some follower in some city of Iraq and say this can prove al-Sadr's grasp is slipping is a reach. If the US is smart, they won't antagonize him. (No more taunting speeches to al-Sadr from Secretary of State Condi Rice, for example.) That might allow him to fade -- maybe -- provided things actually improved in Iraq ("improved," not lessened -- "violence lessened, misfortune lessened, the refugee crisis lessened," etc.). But his power is a personal nature and has to do with what bloodlines have vested in him and what his own actions since the start of the illegal war have been. At any point, even should his image be at an all time low (short of any scandal -- real or imagined -- or planned like the Abu Ghraib photos were planned to embarrass prisoners after they were released if the prisoners 'made trouble'), all he has to do is return to Iraq and walk through the streets of any neighborhood. There will be an automatic excitement and rush.

Turning to the US where a trial was ongoing into military deaths in Iraq, Alberto B. Martinez was on trial for the murders of Philip Esposito and Louis Allen. A decision was reached yesterday leading Louis Allen's widow Barbara to shout, "
He slaughtered our husbands, and that's it?" and at Martinez, "You murdered my husband." Jim Kambrich (WNYT -- link has text and video) reports on the verdict in the case of the double murders June 7, 2005 and highlights Philip Esposito's widow Siobhan stating in October, "We would rather be back with our children than be here in the court room but we're here seeking justice for our husbands." Hema Easley (Lower Hudson Journal News) explains the jury had fourteen members and they found Martinez not guilty of fragging the two men ("military slang for the intentional killing of an officer, especially by hand grenade"). Robert Gavin (Albany Times Union) notes, "Staff Sgt. Amy Harland of Ohio, who also worked in supplies at the base, testified she provided Martinez with the mines in May, unaware of what would transpire. The jury Thursday asked to listen to her testimony, in which she said the soldier's ire toward Esposito was increasing." Paul Woolverton and Corey G. Johnson (Fayetteville Observer) report that when the verdict was read, someone shouted (in disbelief), "This is the United States of America!" John Sullivan (Times Herald Record) adds that another person (unidentified) yelled at Martinez "murdering son of a bitch" as the judge, Col Stephen Henley, cleared the courtroom. Hema Easley also reports that a plea agreement was floated to the widows and quotes Barbara Allen stating: "We got a call from Iraq to gauge our feelings about a guilty plea, and we said no, we needed the truth. At that point we had faith in the judicial system." Siobhan Esposito adds, "We said absolutely not." The US Army's statement on the case can be found here. The US State Dept has repeatedly underestimated him (though that's not the case currently) and thought many times that he was 'out.' Each of those times added to the image he already had as "the son of" and helped carve out an individual image for himself. Moqtada al-Sadr is -- rightly or wrongly -- the person who calls out the abuses in Iraq brought on by the US invasion and US control of the puppet government. There is no fade for that image. He is Iraq's Che, James Dean and assorted other mythic figure. As long as there is chaos and violence in Iraq, al-Sadr has power because his role is the critic. Every day that peace does not come to Iraq backs up his role and his statements. al-Maliki is attempting to further consolidate his power (a power grab) and currently in conflict with the Kurdish officials. Possibly Susman's grading al-Sadr's 'loss' on some daily measurement? It's not a daily ebb and flow. He has a power base and that is now a personal one that he inhabits. It's no longer coming from his father or who his father was, or who does or does not declare their support for him publicly. He's become a mythic figure and -- short of a scandal that goes to character or Iraq having a prolonged outbreak of peace -- only he can destroy his power at this point.

Public broadcasting notes. PBS programs begin airing tonight in some markets, check local listings for time and date.
NOW on PBS offers:How should President-elect Barack Obama handle our tricky relations with Pakistan? This week, David Brancaccio sits down with author and journalist Tariq Ali, who grew up in Pakistan, to discuss what he thinks team Obama should do to improve its standing in Pakistan in particular and the region as a whole."I think it should back off militarily. That's the key," Ali tells NOW. Ali says the U.S.'s roughly 20 reported attacks against Al Qaeda inside Pakistan's borders since late August are doing more harm than good because they "mainly have hit civilian targets."The question of how to handle nuclear-armed Pakistan has become especially difficult amidst Indian claims of Pakistani links to the recent terrorist attacks in Mumbai, which left at least 170 people dead.What's the best strategy for the U.S. in Pakistan and how will it impact the war in Afghanistan, where Obama has said he plans to send more troops? Watch for an insider's view of how the president-elect should proceed.and:Tehran-born author Hooman Majd talks to NOW's David Brancaccio about America's thorny relationship with Iran and how he thinks Obama should handle the problematic issue of Iran's nuclear program."I think the main issue for Americans, and certainly for the [Obama Administration,] is how do we persuade Iran to not take that step? We can't take the knowledge away from them anymore," says Majd, who grew up in American and Britain, but often returns to Iran.Iran has produced enough nuclear material to produce a nuclear bomb, according to a report released last month from the International Atomic Energy Agency.Although Iran denies that its nuclear program has military aspirations, it has called for wiping out the state of Israel. What's the best way forward with this unpredictable country in Middle East?On Washington Week's latest installment, Gwen sits around the table with Karen Tumulty (Time magazine), Peter Baker (New York Times) and David Wessel (Wall St. Journal). Public radio? WBAI on Sunday:Sunday, December 7, 11am-noonTHE NEXT HOURDocumentary filmmaker/psychologist Murray Nossel and psychiatrist PaulBrowde, co-stars of the off-Broadway hit, "Two Men Talking,"demonstrate their storytelling techniques with members of theirNarativ Workshop. With storytellers Benaifer Bhadha, Marion Stein,Archimedes Bibiano and Jerome Deroy. Hosted by Janet ColemanBroadcasting at WBAI/NY 99.5 FMStreaming live at WBAIArchived at Cat Radio CafeNOTE: CAT RADIO CAFE is pre-empted on December 8 for WBAI fundraising.Regular programming resumes on December 22. Information on CAT RADIOCAFE and THE NEXT HOUR fundraising specials to be announced.
And on broadcast TV Sunday, CBS offers CBS
60 Minutes:The Oil KingdomDespite the pledge of President-elect Barack Obama and others to lessen America's use of foreign oil, Saudi Arabia – the world's largest oil supplier - isn't worried. That's what Saudi officials told Lesley Stahl when she visited the oil kingdom and toured its vast petroleum facilities, which are gearing up to produce even more. (This is a double length segment.) Watch Video
SchnabelHis painting took the art world by storm in the 1980s and then Julian Schnabel reinvented himself as a film director to more kudos. Morley Safer profiles this titan of art and film. Watch Video

ben lando
gina chonthe wall street journal
the los angeles timestina susman
ramzy baroud
deborah haynes
michael wareadam ashton
corinne reilly
mcclatchy newspapers
sahar issatony perry
mikey likes it
the fayetteville observerjim kambrichhema easleyjohn sullivanrobert gavinpaul woolvertoncorey g. johnson
the washington postsudarsan raghavanwbaicat radio cafejanet colemandavid dozer60 minutescbs newskaren tumultywashington weeknow on pbspbs

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Iraq, Chuck

Thursday! One day left until we hit weekend time! Best time of the week! Can't wait.

In today's snapshot, C.I. notes the country of Tonga has pulled out Iraq and another country has too. This is from Tony Perry's "IRAQ: Back to Azerbaijan, 'land of valiant sons':"

With 11 rotations, more than 1,000 troops from the Caspian Sea nation served at the dam, a major source of hydroelectric power and thus a tempting target for insurgents. Highly disciplined, the Azerbaijani troops marched to and from the chow hall.
But now the Marines are decamping from Anbar, turning security chores over to the Iraqis. In a ceremony this week, Marine officials thanked the Azerbaijanis as their nation's flag was lowered.

I was prepared for some angry e-mails over yesterday's post but none came in. I checked with Sunny (who reads Elaine's e-mails) and all of those were in agreement as well. I appreciate C.I. standing with us. And C.I.'s standing with us may have helped as well.

To be clear, I like Cindy Sheehan but I'm not in the mood for any crap from any one where they act like someone in the cabinet is as powerful as the president. Barack's the president. Learn to criticize him. I'm not in the mood for all this never ending attack Hillary nonsense. So they either grasp that we've already been through this time wasting s**t and from the same people who put Barack into office. Not in the mood for more of it.

Want to end the war? Call out the president-elect who's rushing around this week telling the press that his 'pledge' has shifted. Hold the damn liar accountable.

I'm not interested in your garbage about Hillary Clinton.

That's why I didn't want her to go to work in his cabinet. I knew it would be "Kill Hillary! Must Kill Hillary!" non-stop while Barack was never at fault for anything.

HE IS IN CHARGE. All of you s**tholes attacking Hillary are only proving how SEXIST and STUPID you are. Barack's the president-elect. Hold him accountable.

Oh, Chuck. I'll talk about that for a bit and then stop because I'm really, really tired tonight. Three Mondays ago, we found out Chuck's skank from college was an undercover agent -- for the other side. Last week, she got captured (by Chuck) and this week he was upset over her. Which does make sense since she lied and it goes way back; however, at some point you move on. Or wallow forever.

Dr. Awesome (soon to be Chuck's brother-in-law) greeted his parents who came to town. I meant to ask C.I. who the dad was but Morgan Fairchild played the mother. I like her, she's always really good in stuff whether it's a comedy or a drama or ascary movie or what. There's some movie she did with Natalie Wood that my aunt loves (LOVES!) and I've seen that over and over. It takes place on a boat, luxury liner. It sinks and it's a lot of flash backs. And we all know Morgan Fairchild as the reason Ross earned the name "Mommy Kisser!" on Friends. :D She's Chandler's mother. (Kathleen Turner played Chandler's father.) There's a lot more that could be mentioned. But anyway, she's on Chuck right now. She's really good in the role and adding the real tension that has me wondering am I supposed to be noticing something about the parents?

Like I said, tired. So I'm stopping now. Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Thursday, December 4, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces more deaths, the presidency council passes the treaty, and more.

Starting with the treaty masquerading as a Status Of Forces Agreement.
Last Thursday (Thanksgiving in the US) the Iraqi Parliament passed the treaty (and, after its passage, the White House finally released some version of it to the public). Monday's snapshot included those developments for any playing catch-up after the holiday. The treaty is back in the news today but for those who need a memory jog, Great Britain's Socialist Worker offered the following on Tuesday:

The Iraqi parliament has approved the Status of Forces Agreement that sets a date for the withdrawal of US combat troops from the country by 31 December 2011.
The deal is being presented as an end to the US misadventure in Iraq.
But it does not mark the end of the occupation.
The US has had to back down on a series of Iraqi demands, including ending the immunity of the mercenaries who spread terror throughout the country, and giving Iraqis greater control over military operations.
The Iraqis were also able to set a timetable for withdrawal despite the objections of the neo-cons.
But although the deal gives the US an exist route from Iraq, thousands of US soldiers will remain in "advisory roles", and combat troops could return if the country was threatened by "internal revolt" or external threat.
It is no wonder that George Bush is said to be happy with the pact. Both the Sunni resistance organisations, headed by the Association of the Muslim Scholars, and Shia Muslim supporters of rebel cleric Moqtada al-Sadr have denounced the deal as "legitimising the occupation".
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making a donation.

Having passed the Parliament the only way it could be stopped this year was for the presidency council (made up of Iraq's president and two vice presidents) to have nixed it (which would have only required one of them saying "no"). [Next year, the treaty can be nixed if a referendrum vote -- promised, but what does that mean really? -- takes place.]
Reuters reports the presidency council's given the thumbs up to the treaty between the White House and the puppet government. CNN notes: "The three-member presidency council -- Kurdish President Jalal Talabani, Shiite Vice President Adel Abdul Mehdi and Sunni Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi -- approved the agreement unanimously a week after the Iraqi parliament passed the measure." The presidency council also approved the Strategic Framework Agreement. Iran's Press TV explains, "The controversial agreement replaces a UN mandate -- which covers the presence of foreign forces in Iraq and is due to expire at the end of 2008 -- which was approved by Iraq's parliament last month after months of wrangling." Asked at the White House today about the referendrum and whether it could allow the treaty to be tossed aside, spokesperson Dana Perino responded, "I know that they were thinking about having a national referendum, but since it was just finalized this morning around 7:00 a.m. our time, I haven't seen for sure. But if there is a national referendum, Iraq is a soveriegn country and they could decide to do lots of different things with it. But I think that the fact that their representative leadership has signed this agreement today, that they recognize that they are going to continue to need our help for the next little while."

What's going on? The White House is laughing their asses off at Iraqis foolish enough to go along with the 'referendum.' The UN mandate expires December 31st. They need a renewal for one year. They got it. Or, as Barack's team might put, they got what they wanted. If a referendum is held and Iraqis vote to break the treaty, what does that mean?

The treaty operates for (minimum) the year they need. The referendum is a sidebar and it is not mentioned in the treaty. The treaty signed off on by both parties (we'll come to the US Congress in a moment) states what for breaking the treaty? Either the US or Iraq can do it at any time. However, after making their intention known, the treaty runs one year. They have to give one year's notice. July 2009 is often mentioned for the referendum vote to be held. Using that date, if July comes and Iraqis say, "Get out now!"? July 2010 would be the soonest the treaty could be broken due to the one-year notice required. So Pernio's lack of concern today centered around the fact that the referendum is really meaningless in terms of order US troops out of Iraq 'quickly.'

The US Congress has not had input in the treaty. The White House has circumvented the Constitution.and the Congress is apparently not going to stand up for either themselves or the Constitution. When the press reports the treaty as a done-deal now due to the passage of it by the presidency council, the reason they report it as such is because Congress has done nothing since US House Rep Bill Delahunt chaired a hearing back in November. There have been no statements issued to the press, there has been no talk of special session to address this, there has been nothing. Where are they? Has Iraq fallen off their radar?

One could argue it's fallen of the US State Dept's radar. Today Robert Wood started the department's press briefing with, "Good morning, everyone. I don't have anything. We can go right to your questions." This was the same morning that the treaty has been passed by the presidency council. How little does the war in Iraq matter to our federal government? Near the end of the briefing, Wood would try to pass the blame off onto the press, "Oh, by the way, one thing I should note -- I've been meaning to note -- since no one asked the question, I thought I would just raise it. Toady, as you know, is the ratification of the -- by the presidency council of the Strategic Framework Agreement and the security agreement. So we welcome it, and there will be an exchange of diplomatic notes -- and then the agreement will go into force January 1, 2009." The fact that Congress refuses to do its job -- its sworn duty -- goes a long way towards not only explaining how Wood could forget to mention the treaty but also how he could declare the process finalized.

On a related topic, a little truth makes it into print in the New York Times.
Thom Shanker reports that president-elect Barack Obama has backed up from his 'pledge' to have all 'troops' out within 16 months of being elected: ". . . as he moves closer to the White House, President-elect Obama is making clearer than ever that tens of thousands of American troops will be left behind in Iraq, even if he can make good on his campaign promise to pull all combat forces out within 16 months." Huh???? Well it was never ALL US forces out of Iraq. Barack loved to stand before his adoring and slavish crowds offering the meaningless, "We want to end the war in Iraq!" cry. Yeah. And? Want to? He didn't promise to. His plan was "combat troops" out of Iraq within 16 months of being sworn into office (in Houston, Texas -- in February -- Barack dropped it down to 10 months after he was sworn in).Shanker quotes the Christ-child Barack stating, "I said that I would remover our combat troops from Iraq in 16 months, with theunderstanding that it might be necessary -- likely to be necessary -- to maintain a residual force to provide potential training, logistical support, to protect our civilians in Iraq." Translation, no withdrawal. Surprised? Take it up with the liars who lied for Baby Barack from day one. Take it up with ALL THE LIARS who insisted he was the anti-war candidate and he was going to end the Iraq War and blah, blah, blah. Now, as Mike and Elaine point out, some were little bitty babies. Hillary wouldn't apologize for her vote! She said it was a mistake and she wouldn't do it again if she had to do over. What more did people want? And, point, where was the peace movement asking Barack about his votes on Iraq? If he was against it and wants credit for his puny (and bad) 2002 speech (the reason it was 'recreated' was because it was so damn underwhelming -- the woman in the red t-shirt is especially unimpressed as she and the tiny crowd listen to him drone on) where he said he loves war, really loves it, but feels if one is started with Iraq, it may hurt the war he wants right now in Afghanistan, well he should have been asked to admit it was a mistake to vote to fund the illegal war. He wasn't in the Senate in 2002 but he sure voted for every war funding bill he could until late 2007. Why wasn't he asked if that was a mistake? Why didn't CODESTINK insist he apologize for them?

Or are we all supposed to ignore how PATHOLOGICALLY SICK Medea Benjamin and company have become as they target Hillary over and over even more so than they did the White House occupant who started the illegal war? And the pattern continues among the deranged. The incoming administration will not be run by Hillary. It's as though Christopher Hitchens just birthed a litter of Baby Hitchys.

Barack is the incoming president. It is what
Panhandle Media wanted -- at some point they might try getting honest about why -- and they need to grasp that Americans are not going to put up with four years of their demonizing Hillary and calling that 'sticking it to the president.' She's not the president. Barack is. He's the one responsible and they better start tailoring their critiques to that or admit that they're nothing but the most vile women haters of all time. (Amy Goodman confessed to that when she decided Larry F**nt's H**tler magazine was a 'magazine' to publish in.)

Today the
US military announced: "Two Multi-National Division - North Soldiers were killed as a result of an attack from a suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosives device while conducting operations in the city of Mosul today." The announcement brings the total number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war to 4209. And regardless of who is named Secretary of State, the president of the US will make the decision regarding when US service members leave Iraq. Barack Obama is now the one who will continue or end the illegal war and the critiques need to be directed at him.

Iraqis have violence directed at them all the time including today.
Laith Hammoudi and Mohammed Al Dulamy (McClatchy Newspapers) report Falluja was rocked by two bombings today with over one-hundred people left wounded and 15 killed. On one of the bombings, they note, "At the Hdheri police station in central Fallujah, officers saw the attacker approaching them in a truck. They reportedly ordered him to stop, and shot him when he continued driving. The truck exploded, damaging houses and injuring many." Tina Susman (Los Angeles Times) adds, "Abass Alwan, who witnessed one of the blasts, said a suicide bomber drove a truck at high speed toward the police station and rammed its main gate. Alwan said there was an elementary school next to the police station and that many of the injured were children." Deborah Haynes (Times of London) explains, "The Fallujah blasts targeted police stations in the east and west of the city, once an al-Qaeda stronghold, before tribal leaders turned against the militants and sided with the US military two years ago. Six police officers were among the dead." Al Arabiya offers, "Iraqi police said that two suicide bombers carried out the attacks from one car near a police station in west Fallujah while the second truck bombing targeted a police station in the police district east of the town."

In some of today's other reported violence . . .


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Mosul bomber who killed his/herself and 8 other people, a Baghdad sticky bombing that claimed 1 life and left two people injured, a second Baghdad sticky bombing that left four people injured and another Baghdad bombing that resulted in two people being wounded.


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 1 police officer shot dead in Mosul and another wounded.


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 21 corpses discovered in Diyala Province. Reuters ups the count to 80 corpses.

Alissa J. Rubin (New York Times) explores the continued tension between the puppet government in Baghdad and the Kurdistan Regional Government. She terms it "a power struggle" and focuses on Kurdish objection to 'tribal councils' ("Awakening" for the north) and al-Maliki's objection to what is seen as Kurdish efforts to expand their territory. She questions al-Maliki's assertion that the 'tribal councils' are unarmed since "every adult male" in Iraq "is permitted one gun." She notes Jalal Talabani's objections to al-Maliki's proposed 'councils'. Talabani is the President of Iraq and he is Kurd. He has stated al-Maliki's efforts are extra-Constutional and is calling for the Federal Supreme Court to intervene. al-Maliki says (basically), "Nah-nah-nah, I'll create what I want and who cares if it's mentioned in the Constitution or not." Xinahua quotes from al-Maliki's letter to Talabani that "there is no practical or legal justification to dissolve the support councils after they managed to provide security, stability and backed the national reconciliation efforts in Iraq." Rania Abouzeid (Time magazine) observes al-Maliki "has recently picked fights with his Kurdish allies, his Shi'ite opponents and his Sunni partners over a variety of issues." Abouzeid notes:

The acrimonious exchanges between Maliki and the Kurds are rooted in the economic and territorial ambitions of both parties, and they threaten to widen the broadening Arab-Kurd schism. Maliki's recent call to amend the constitution to beef up the central government's powers at the expense of Iraq's 18 provinces did not spare the semiautonomous three-province Kurdish region in the north. It has not only stoked tensions with the independence-minded Kurds but has also drawn fire from his Shi'ite coalition allies in the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council, who want to set up a similar semiautonomous region in the Shi'ite south. On Monday, the Kurdish regional government strongly condemned Maliki's governance, basically equating it to Saddam Hussein's. Maliki wants to "take the people of Iraq back to a period we are desperately trying to get beyond," the statement read. "A period where the excessive concentration, or centralization, of economic and political power condemned all Iraqis to unimaginable suffering." It may an emotional argument that the Kurds are using, but it's also grounded in regional self-interest -- which is the Prime Minister's case against those who oppose him. Maliki has lambasted the Kurdish regional government for unilaterally signing oil deals with international companies and cutting Baghdad out of the loop, as well as opening representative offices overseas. He has also pushed back against the Kurds' attempts to extend their military presence into territory south of their regional border. "The central government thinks the Kurdish regional government behaves like a state, and the Kurds think Maliki wants to flex his muscles and go back to a strong central government with him as the strongman," says Mahmoud Othman, an independent Kurdish parliamentarian.

Meanwhile Iraq's Foreign Ministry continues establishing diplomatic ties. Sunday,
Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari met with Hani Khalwaf (Arab League Representative in Baghdad). Monday morning found Zebari receiving Russia's Ambassador to Iraq Valerian Vladmiri Wavij Shofayif during which "Shofayif expressed his country's commitment towards the relations with Iraq". Monday Zebari also met with Sayon McDonald, advisor to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown. While the Foreign Ministry works on increasing Iraq's interaction with other countries, Tina Susman (Los Angeles Times) notes a ceremony held in Iraq today for Tonga who "became the latest member of the 'coalition of the willing' to end its mission in Iraq." (Tonga had 55 service members stationed in Iraq.)

Yesterday, KBR was in the news for imprisoning workers in Iraq and now Scott Bronstein and Abbie Boudreau (CNN) report KBR is being sued by 16 members of Indiana's National Gaurd who served in Iraq and maintain that KBR knew a water treatment plant (which the soliders were assigned to) exposed them to dangerous chemicals such as the carcinogenic sodium dichromate. David Ivanovich (Houston Chronicle) explains, "In their suit filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Evansville, Ind., the plaintiffs contend KBR knowingly allowed them to be exposed to sodium dichromate, a chemical used as an anti-corrosive but containing the carcinogen hexavalent chromium. The alleged exposure occurred while the guardsmen were providing security for KBR workers at the Qarmat Ali water plant in southern Iraq." Rajini Vaidyanathan (BBC) elaborates, "The soldiers say that they and other civilian contractors there were repeatedly told there was no danger, and that when they reported health problems such as nose-bleeds to their bosses, they were told they were simply 'allergic to the sand'. The court papers claim that these symptoms were the early side-effects of the chemical, and that some who served on the site went on to suffer severe breathing problems and nasal tumours." Meanwhile Kelly Kennedy (Army Times) noted at the start of the week, "Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, chairman of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, has asked that the co-chairs of the Defense Department and Veterans Affairs Oversight Committee begin a review of environmental toxins - including those coming from burn pits -- at bases in Iraq and Afghanistan. . . In November, Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., asked Gen. David Petraeus for an investigation into whether troops are being exposed to harmful fumes from burn pits." With an update on the KBR workers stranded/imprisoned in Iraq, Deborah Haynes (Times of London) explains they are calling on the intnerational community to take action: "America why are you silent? Human rights organisations why are you silent? United Nations where are you?" One of the many signs carried by those tricked into coming to Iraq for jobs that do not exist and now trapped in that country.

Today the Institute of Medicine released a
report on traumatic brain injury. Amanda Gardner (HealthDay) reports, "The committee found evidence of a causal relationship between penetrating TBI and unprovoked seizures as well as death, and between severe or moderate TBI with unprovoked seizures." Alex Nussbaum (Bloomberg News) informs that the report "found a link between moderate and severe injuries and rising depression, memory loss, aggression, Parkinson's-like tremors and social problems that hinder employment." Benedict Carey (New York Times) notes approximately 5,500 US "military personnel have suffered brain injuries from mild to severe. The wounds account for an estimated 22 percent of all casualties in Afghanistan and Iraq -- about twice the rate in Vietnam." Rick Rogers (San Diego Tribune-Tribune) reports, "The committee's major recommendations include urging the Defense Department to establish a baseline for identifying pre-and post-deployment mental health problems by assessing the mental well-being of all troops before they start their combat tours. The panel also asked VA leaders to include uninjured service members and other comparison groups in its fledging Traumatic Brain Injury Veterans Health Registry."

the socialist worker
the new york timesthom shankerscott bronsteinabbie boudreaucnnlike maria said pazmikey likes it
alissa j. rubinrania abouzeid
rick rogers
mcclatchy newspaperslaith hammoudi
mohammed al dulaimy
the los angeles timestina susman
deborah haynes

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Warnings, Cindy Sheehan, etc.

Hump day!!!! Two more days until we finally hit the weekend. I saw on the Weather Channel that it's pretty much cold everywhere in the US today -- and where it's not cold, it's colder! That's winter for you. Who's hoping for a snowy Christmas? I really am hoping for one. Sledding. Snow men. Snow balls. Snow ball fights! :D I love it when it snows.

But turning to the political/criminal world, Barack Obama's election brought no safety, of course. Sad news for all his Cult members who thought candy cane would rain from heaven and that peppermints would sprout from the ground. This is from Matthew Jaffe's "Biden and Napolitano Give Warning About Potential Attacks Involving WMD:"

The bipartisan commission, led by former Senators Bob Graham of Florida and Jim Talent of Missouri, was created by Congress to assess the country's efforts to prevent the spread of WMDs and their use by terrorists. Concluded the task force's new report, "The Commission believes that unless the world community acts decisively and with great urgency, it is more likely than not that a weapon of mass destruction will be used in a terrorist attack somewhere in the world by the end of 2013."
It was only six weeks ago that Biden guaranteed that if elected, Obama would be tested by an international crisis within his first six months in office. At today's briefing, the Delaware lawmaker was joined by Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano, President-elect Barack Obama's nominee for Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.
"The safety of our citizens, the safety of our homeland, and the elimination of the threat of global terrorism is our top priority," said Napolitano.
"The threat of a WMD attack on American soil can be dramatically reduced through a coherent and sustained strategy to improve our vulnerabilities and to adapt to a new and evolving threat," she observed. "It is the wisdom in this report that will help us to do that adaptation."

Great news! If you're insane and rooting for the end of the world! Cindy Sheehan has a column. I'm highlighting from it. Elaine's commenting on it so go to her site. Here's Cindy:

After President-Elect, Barack Obama, officially appointed Hillary Clinton as his Secretary of State, he had this to say: "Senator Clinton shares my core values." Really? I thought that the two dueling Senators had diametrically opposing "Core values." Isn't that why most of the US anti-war movement supported Obama over Clinton? Wasn't Obama the so-called "Anti-War Candidate?" I am amazed that there is no outcry from the "US anti-war movement" over Obama's foreign policy team that includes Robert Gates who will remain as Obama's Secretary of Defense. I don't care how any Democratic shill wants to spin this one; it's not spinnable if one really cares about peace and security.
Hillary Clinton is an unrepentant supporter of the Iraq War. She was, in fact, one of the major cheerleaders for that war and Bush's policy of preventive strikes and occupation. Obama theoretically opposed the invasion until he became a Senator and then voted for every funding bill. I am sure that Clinton and Gates will be fully on board with the President Elect's plan of sending more troops to Afghanistan to increase the D-RWoT (the Democrat's Real War on Terror) and will continue the illegal raids into Pakistan without so much as a blink of their eyes.
After the official appointments were confirmed, I told two of my closest friends that Obama has killed the US anti-war movement that has been on life support while it worked feverishly to elect him. But, in reality, Obama didn't kill the movement, the movement committed suicide in (again) supporting a non-anti-war candidate solely because he is not George Bush and he knows how to say the words "hope and change" with a straight face and no hint of irony in his voice. Besides it doesn't hurt that he tacks on a (D) after his name.

For any who don't know it, Elaine and I have been involved for years now. I agree with everything she's typing as I write this. If Cindy Sheehan can't call out Barack, I have no use for her. Peace Mom or not. She did nothing to call him out during the Democratic Party primay and here is elected as president and she's bitching and moaning about Hillary again. Cindy Sheehan needs to grow the hell up because she's unable to tell who is in charge and who needs to be called out.

I like her but I agree with what Elaine will be posting and I'm not interested in highlighting more of Cindy's "I HATE HILLARY" screeds. Hillary's not an issue anymore. She's out of the Senate and will do what Barack tells her because she's working for him now. She has no power. She's no threat. Anything she does as Secretary of State will be done at Barack's direction. So Cindy Sheehan's WASTING everyone's time whining and bitching about Hillary.

She really needs to grow up. She failed by refusing to call out Barack. She REFUSED. And now he's president and she's still too scared to call him out?

Why the hell she even wasted time on writing about Hillary I don't know. But I'm not in the mood for it. It's a sad day when I feel that I'm more mature than Cindy Sheehan.

Update on Kwame Kilpatrick from Doug Guthrie's Detroit News article:

Kwame Kilpatrick has broken the deal he made to avoid trial in the text message scandal by attempting to undo the revocation of his law license, said Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy.
Worthy has asked for a hearing next week before the Wayne Circuit Court judge who sent Kilpatrick to jail and required him to sign a letter that revoked his license. Judge David Groner ruled at Kilpatrick's Oct. 28 sentencing that his agreement to "surrender" his license meant revocation.
A petition filed Monday on the jailed former mayor's behalf with the state Attorney Discipline Board asked for the revocation to be set aside and a hearing held to determine the level of punishment Kilpatrick should suffer. The appeal is based on a claim that only the state's self-policing mechanism for lawyers can take an attorney's license, not a criminal court judge.

Kilpatrick needs to (a) lose the lic. and (b) get an increased sentence for attempting to go back on the plea bargain. Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Wednesday, December 3, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, press freedom becomes a bigger joke in Iraq, as does the judicial system when a judge is caught bragging about just how biased he is, KBR imprisons workers, and more.

Picking up from
yesterday's snapshot, the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq released their thirteenth "Human Rights Report" with this one covering January 1, 2008 through June 30, 2008 [PDF format warning, click here]. One of their recommendations for the Iraqi government was: "Issue on a regular basis mortality data compiled by the Ministry of Health, based on informaction received from all governorates and statistics kept at the Medico-Legal Institute in Baghdad, together with details of the methodology used to calculate the figures." Tina Susman (Los Angeles Times) notes, "Until April 2007, the reports also included mortality rates based on number provided by government ministries, hospitals and medical officials. But after the January 2007 U.N. report came out and estimated that 34,452 Iraqis had been killed in war-related violence in 2006, the Iraqi government refused to give out the numbers anymore. It had put the 2006 death toll at 12,357. As The Times wrote at the time, the official and unofficial reasons given by the government for withholding numbers varied. Publicly, Iraq's government said it did not have the organizational capabilities to ensure accurate counting of war victims. But privately, U.N. officials at the time said the Iraqis were worried that the large numbers would tarnish the country's image, so they decided to withhold information." China's Xinhau zooms in on this quote from the report: "The targeted killings of journalists, educators, medical doctors, judges and lawyers has continued, as did criminal abductions for ransom." The Press Trust of India quotes this statement from the report, "Grave human rights violations that are less widely reported [than general security], and the elimination of which requires long-term political commitment, remain unaddressed." UPI explains, "In addition to recommendations for the Iraqi government, the report recommended the multinational security forces investigate promptly and impartially credible allegations of unlawful killings by military personnel, and take appropriate action against those found to have exercised indiscriminate or excessive force. It also called on the international forces to consider implementing basic due process guarantees to improve prisoners' access to counsel and grant human rights monitors access to detention facilities."
Picking up with the remainder of the thirty page report (we noted the first sixteen pages yesterday), the report notes that there are more than 2.8 million internally displaced people in the country and that approximately an eighth of them "were living in public buildings and under the threat of eviction." But the number of the internally displaced may be decreasing and, if so, one reason may be that it is "increasingly difficult to move within Iraq as well as to neighbouring countries given the more retrictive entry policies". It notes that the People's Mojahedin Organization of Iraq remain under US military protection in Camp ashraf (Diyala Province) and that the camp has been attacked plus "the Government of Iraq issued a statement declaring the PMOI a terrorist organization calling for their expulsion" (June 17, 2008) despite the United Nations position that the PMOI should be "protected from focible deporation, expulsion or repatriation".

The report notes the total number of prisoners in Iraq is 50,595 ("detainees, security internees and sentenced prisoners"), that February's General Amnesty Law has still not gone into effect, that the number detained by Iraq's central government (exclude Kuridsh section of Iraq) was higher than it was in the last six months of 2007 and that reports of prisoner abuse continue to come in. The report then moves to prisoners held by the US military and notes that the US insists due process does not apply and that the United Nations believes Geneva provides for all prisoners to have the right to know why they were arrested, "to be brough promptly before a judge if held on a criminal charge, and to challenge the lawfulness of their detention." [As noted elsewhere in the report -- and in yesterday's snapshot -- the UN is also still attempting to get monitors into US prisons in Iraq.] With regards to the Kudistan region, the KRG continues to hold a number of people on "vague accusations" for great lengths of time, those suspected of "terror-related incidents" are tortured ("violent treatment amounting to torture during investigations"). Four people were sentenced to death from the start of the year through March in the Kurdistan region and 34 people "are on deathrow in Erbil Central Prison as of June 2008" and the UN is calling for a stay of executions due to "the impossibly of avoiding execution of the innocent and absence of proof of deterrence effect of the penalty". The report ends listing various ways in which UNAMI provides support in Iraq.

We skipped pages 17 through 19 at the top to deal with them here. That section beings by noting religious and ethnic minorities in Iraq as well as others in vulenerable groups. In the first six months of the year, there have been "17 reports of attacks and kidnappings against Chaldo-Assyrians (Christians) throughout Iraq" with the bulk in Mosul. Shabaks had nine reported attacks and the bulk of them were also in Mosul. Five Yezidis were killed in the first six months of this year. Over 80% of the Mandean community have fled the country (10,000 to Syria, 3,000 to Jordan and the rest to Yemen and Egypt). [5,000 have moved into the Kurdistan region for shelter.]

Now we're emphasizing the sections on journalists and freedom of expression. UNAMI's report notes: "Journalists and media workers remain one of the most vulnerable professional groups throughout Iraq being subjected to threats, targeted violence, kidnappings and assassination." The report then moves to the Kurdistan region:

UNAMI continued to receive reports of intimidation and/or arrests of media professionals in the Kurdistan region, in particular those who had reported on issues of public interest. Officials have also filed several criminal defamation complaints against journalists. During the same period of time, KRG human rights authorities have declared to work at imprvoing the situation of journalists.
A few journalists UNAMI was in contact with alleged tha ton 31 January and 1 February 2008, they were arrested, harassed and ill-treated by KRG police. They also reported that their photographs and notes were confiscated whilst attempting to cover the impact of Turkey's military operations on civilians and civilian properties along the border. Photographs provided to UNAMI showed a journalist being surrounded and dragged by security forces. Local journalist associations have condemned the conduct of the KRG authorities while other journalists were also prevented from covering the military operations.
On 4 February, the Editor-in-chief of an independent newspaper, was summoned to court in Sulaimaniya to respond to a complaint filed against him by President Jalal Talabani for publishing an article on the President's personal assets. He was released on bail and his case postponed indefinitely. On 10 February, Umar Ahmed Mahmood, journalist from Hawlati newspaper, was summoned to Kalar Court, Sulaimaniya, where the Head of the KDP Office in Kalar district filed a complaint based on an article Mahmood had written about conflicting loyalties of KDP politicians. The journalist was subsequently detained for three days and released on bail. On 16 February, a journalist and blogger was arrested by Kurdish Peshmargas in Talkif District, Nineveh, and was interrogated for four days at an Asayish facility in Dohuk. He was forced to sign a ltter whereby he agreed not to "defame" KRG leaders and Christian clergymen before being released. On 16 March, a Dohuk court issued an arrest warrant against Muhamad Salih Haji, Editor-in-chief of Rasan Newspaper (licensed to the Kurdistna Islamic Union (KIU) and another KIU member, for publishing an article charging the court's decision to arrest a number of KIU members for alleged involvement in terror activities last year as politically motivated. Both were subsequently released on bail.
On 9 February, staff members of Kurdistan TV received death threats and had their equipment damaged when they tried to film an attack on a traffic policeman by a group of armed men in Erbil. The Kurdistan Journalists' Syndicate has condemned the attack and requested the Minister of Interior to investigate. On 2 March, Nabaz Goran, a journalist received a death threat in a letter sent by Halo Ibrahim Ahmad, a relative of a high-ranking Iraqi official. It was reported that although Halo Ibrahim had apologized, he subsequently reiterated his threat on Kurdistan post web-site. On 17 March, UNAMI wrote to KRG authorities requesting justifications for the arrests and complaints filed against these journnalists and urged the KRG to investigate the death threat against Nabaz Goran. Srood Mukarram Fatih, a journalist arrested a year ago by the Asayish in Erbil has yet to be charged noting that he was accused of being involved in terror activities.

The lengthy excerpt is included because the close of last month saw another journalist targeted in the Kurdistan region. Adel Hussein is the journalist and he's been convicted to six months of prison for the 'crime' of "writing an article about homosexuality".
Reporters Without Border notes: "Sexual practices are part of the individual freedoms that a democratic states is supposed to promote and protect. Furthermore, Hussein did not defend homosexuality. He limited himself to describing a form of behavior from a scientific viewpoint. . . . We are astonished to learn that a press case has been tried under the criminal code. What was the point of adoptiong -- and then liberalising -- a press code in Kurdistan region if people who contribute to the news media are still be tried under more repressive laws?" The Committee to Protect Journalists is calling for the immediate release of Adel -- "a doctor and a freelance journalist with the independent weekly Hawlati". CPJ's Robert Mahoney (Dept Director) states, "A judge of all people should know that ignorance of the law is no excuse. This is the second time in a month that a court in Iraqi Kurdistan has sent a journalist to prison in violation of the new press law. We call on the authorities to ensure that the new legislation is widely promulgated and enforced, and we urge the appeal court to overturn this conviction and free Adel Hussein immediately." The other reporter referred to was Shwan Dawdi whose conviction was overturned by the court of appeal. Yahya Barzanji (AP) quotes the Kurdistan Journalist Union's Zirak Kamal stating, "We will appeal this unjust verdict and we hope that Kurdistan officials intervene and solve the problem." BBC explains the Kurdish government is attempting to say that Adel "violated a public decenty law" by reporting.

While this affront to journalism and free speech is taking place, the Kurdistan Regional Government wants the international community to be outraged by actions Nouri al-Maliki is taking. Yesterday the
KRG released a lengthy litany of Nouri al-Maliki's actions which they felt violated the Iraqi Constitution. AP's Hamza Hendawi reports today that Jalal Talabani (Iraq's president and a Kurd) has decided to ask the federal court to step in and prevent "al-Maliki from establishing tribal councils" in the KRG region and quotes Talabani declaring, "Nouri al-Maliki is my friend and enjoys the confidence of parliament. He is not budging and remains adamant that creating these councils is legal. We will go to the federal court to see whether this is indeed the case." The KRG fears that thugs will be brought in (as happened with the "Awakening" Councils) while the puppet government in Baghdad feels the Kurdish government has gotten highly expansionist. The attacks on Christians in Mosul and surrounding areas beginning in July also forced al-Maliki to do something to ensure safety of minority populations.Now it's a little hard for Talabani and others to play this as they are standing up for the rule of law when they continue to target journalists and show no respect for a free press. The KRG might want to check the Iraqi Constitution they're so fond of citing these days -- it includes provisions for a free press.

The judicial system throughout Iraq is wanting and
Alissa J. Rubin and Katherine Zoepf (New York Times) provide a peak at alleged impartial and unbiased judges today:

Judge Khalifa said Mr. Majid was guilty of crimes against humanity. Mr. Majid remained calm, but Mr. Ani shouted: "I welcome death if it is for Iraq, for pan-Arabism and for the Baath. Down with the American and Persian occupation!"The judge responded, "Shut up."In later remarks to fellow judges, Judge Khalifa was overheard saying: "All the Baathists are this way. Baathists live as Baathists and die as Baathists."

Adam Ashton (McClatchy Newspapers) reports, "About 1,000 Asian men who were hired by a Kuwaiti subcontractor to the U.S. military have been confined for as long as three months in windowless warehouses near the Baghdad airport without money or a place to work." The contractor is KBR and Noah Shachtman (Wired) reminds that workers from India lodged a complaint against KBR in 2004 stating they had been deceived by them while 2007 found a KBR subcontractor explaining to the US Congress how Filipinos were "kidnapped to work on the U.S. embassy in Baghdad." And today the imprisoned made their displeasure known. Deborah Haynes (Times of London) reports, "Iraqi guards opened fire above the heads of 1,000 migrant workers who staged a mini-riot today in protest at their poor treatment in Baghdad and the prospect of being sent home without pay. The men, from Bangladesh, Nepal, India and Sri Lanka, will be flown to Dubai after the Kuwaiti company that hired them failed to secure enough contract work at dining facilities inside a number of US military bases across Iraq. Their passports have also been taken." Haynes goes on to reveal that the workers have been held since arriving -- this after paying $3,000 (US equivalent) for jobs that did not exist. Haynes also visited the compound and filed a report on it:

He had dreams of coming to Iraq, making his fortune and migrating to Australia. Instead Manoj Kodithuwakku, 28, a Sri Lankan, is stranded in an overcrowded hangar near a US military base with no money, no job and no way out.
Poorly dressed and desperate, he and hundreds of other men from developing countries who came looking for work are living in pitiful conditions. Yesterday The Times entered one of three pale blue hangars that house foreign workers near Baghdad airport. They are full of men who paid a small fortune to come here and have ended up forgotten and trapped.

While workers are trapped, countries continue leaving the so-called 'coalition' of the willing. Today Azerbaijani follows South Koera in ending their mission and
Michael Christie (Reuters) notes, "Barely a day goes by without an end-of-mission ceremony in a dusty military camp somewhere in Iraq, with U.S., allied and Iraqi officials delivering grateful speeches to departing troops, and pinning medals on chests as military bands play." Joe Sterling (CNN) adds, "So far this year, Poland, Armenia, Mongolia, Georgia, Latvia, Macedonia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kazakhstan and South Korea have departed or begun departing Iraq. Over the next couple of weeks, Azerbaijan, Tonga, the Czech Republic, Japan, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Denmark, Moldova and Albania will be leaving, a total of more than 600 troops."

In some of today's reported violence . . .


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing claimed 1 life and left five more people wounded and a Baghdad mortar attack left five people wounded.


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 1 tribal leader was shot dead in Diyala Province today.


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 1 corpse discovered in Baghdad.

Andrew Cockburn (CounterPunch) speaks with Winslow Wheeler (who was editor of America's Defense Meltdown: Pentagon Reform for President Obama and the New Congress) regarding president-elect Barack Obama and Wheeler explains:

He campaigned on "Change We Can Believe in" and his transition almost immediately switched to "Continuity We Can Believe In." The people so far selected, especially Robert Gates, have a track record, and that track record is basically to keep things the way they are. Gates will do what he's told on issues like Iraq and Afghanistan. He's already made it clear that as far as managing the Pentagon is concerned he thinks he's been doing a competent job. But during his tenure things have only gotten worse. The budget's going up faster than ever before in recent history; the size of our forces is going south; the equipment continues to get older. We have a new report from the Congressional Budget Office that tracks the size of our weapons inventory and its age. This study shows that if everything goes perfectly according to Gates' plans as revealed in his Pentagon budget, our forces will continue to shrink and the equipment will continue to get older.
The one exception is Obama's plan to expand the number of combat units in the army and marine corps. That is turning out to be a question of much larger cost than people suspected. It's going to cost us somewhere in excess of a hundred billion dollars. It's very unclear therefore if that expansion is actually going to occur and the historic trend suggests that even if it does occur it will reverse itself in a few years and the additional units will be phased out. Also, if you look at previous wars such as Korea and the Indochina wars, the expansions that
occurred during those conflict were gigantic compared to the puny little 60,000
man increase that Robert Gates and Barack Obama say they want to endorse.

In other news, Music pioneer
Odetta died yesterday. Her influence was wide reaching and among the many who cited her as an influence over the years were Carly Simon (Odetta's voice was the one that allowed Carly to hear herself as a singer), Bob Dylan, Harry Belafonte, Carolyn Hester, Janis Ian, Phoebe Snow, Holly Near, Janis Joplin and Judy Collins. The Washington Post headlines their obituary "Odetta, 77; Sang the Soundtrack for the Civil Rights Movement" (Martin Weil and Adam Bernstein, wrote the obit).

MediaChannel has opened MEDIA STORE for the holidays: "The Economy may be crashing, but we as a culture still believe in a season of giving. That's why MediaChannel and GlobalVision are opening an online store, as others close theirs, to share books and films we believe offer food for the mind and make for valuable gifts. Buying through us helps support MediaChannel. Your support in this season means alot to us. Our last fundraising drive has helped keep us alive! Your continuing help will keep us online and on the issues we all care about."

iraqadel husseinreporters without bordersthe committee to protect journalistsyahya barzanji
the los angeles timestina susman
the new york timesalissa j. rubinkatherine zoepf
deborah haynes
adam ashton
mcclatchy newspapers
andrew cockburn
the washington post