Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Sushi, Guantanamo, TV

Hump day. I am an addict. I had sushi for lunch yesterday and ended up having it for dinner tonight. I had a dragon roll and a spicy roll. And as soon as I finished both, I wanted to go get some more. I love sushi. It controls my life.


Patrick Martin (WSWS) reports:

The thousands of pages of documents on US prisoners at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp, released by WikiLeaks Sunday night, demonstrate the lawless character of the US government, both under George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Kidnapping, torture, illegal imprisonment, subornation of perjury, defiance of international law—these are only a few of the crimes of which the top officials of the US government are demonstrably guilty.

Then secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld branded the Guantanamo detainees the “worst of the worst,” telling the American public that the prisoners were all hard-core terrorists, many of them linked to the 9/11 attacks in New York City and Washington. The WikiLeaks documents demonstrate that the statements of Rumsfeld, Cheney and other top Bush aides were deliberate and conscious lies.

The vast majority of the 800 Guantanamo prisoners were innocent men swept up randomly on the battlefield in Afghanistan or seized by allied intelligence agencies, particularly in Pakistan, where anyone of Arab or Afghan descent was a potential cash bonanza for corrupt police officials seeking to collect American bounties. More than 100 suffered from mental illness when they were seized. Others were driven into that state by years of isolation and abuse, without any hope of release or legal recourse.

I didn't create a poll but some of you did. 35 people e-mailed about either or both Chuck and Fringe being cancelled. 22 of you said you'd prefer Chuck be axed while 8 of you said Fringe had peaked some time ago. I stand by my thought: I don't want either of them axed.

Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Wednesday, April 27, 2011. Chaos and violence continue, protests continue in Mosul, Nouri preps for a takeover if his 100 days results in failure, Howard Dean calls Nouri a cold-blooded killer, Tim Arango has a snit fit in front of the entire world, and much more.
O our people everywhere in the pure land of Iraq ...

What was expected happened and the occupation supported, corrupt government bared its teeth when the forces in Nineveh province, raided AlAhrar Square last night, controllled and closed all entrances all under the supervision and orders of war criminal Naser Ghannam, commander of the government second battalion, and then have these forces led by the offender Colonel Ismail al Joubouri randomly opened fire on the crowd which resulted in a large number of martyrs and wounded, including the brothers stationed from the popular movement to save Iraq:

1 - Brother Khalid al-Khafaji, Fri 2 - Brother Rakan Abdullah al-Obeidi 3 - Brother Ghanim Abid 4 - Brother Haitham Jubouri 5 - Brother Mohammad AlKadhy, and we shall relsease a detailed list of names in a later statement.

This cowardly criminal act which flows directly in the interest of the American occupation and survival, is only appropriate to the authority of the war criminal Nuri al-Maliki, who will bear legal and moral responsibility in full for every drop of blood shed being Minister of Interior and Minister of Defense.

While we promise the children our brothers to continue to demonstrate and picket, we declare after depending on God the case of civil disobedience in Medeenat Elremah until the criminals are tried in court in the city of Mosul, on top of this list of war criminals is Nasser Al-Ghannam and Colonel offender Ismail Jubouri, which we call upon the renowned Jabour tribe , to disown him like the people of Heet disowned the rootless Nasser Al-Ghannam, which has become a wanted criminal not only for the people of Mosul, but for all the Iraqi people, and we call on this occasion on our people to exercise restraint and to work closely and avoid giving them the opportunity to lure us into violence and confrontation and the need to maintain a peaceful and civil protest and without prejudice to public and private property.

((And no victory except from Allah, the Mighty Holy))

Popular movement for the salvation of of Iraq

Oday Al Zaidi

NCRI notes Monday's assault on the people of Mosul, "On April 25th, al-Maliki's forces opened fire on protesters in Mosul and killed and injured dozens of people. Al-Baghdadia TV quoted witnesses and announced: The forces of the 2nd Division that had entered Mosul two days ago, started indiscriminate arrest of a large number of demonstrators. The protesters, picketing at Mosul's Ahrar square (Freedom square), are asking the leaders of the southern and central tribes to intervene, join them, and support them." An e-mail from Iraq Veterans Against the War notes that Mosul has "become the epicenter of the continuing protests" and, "Last week, Iraqi Facebook pages administered directly by protest organizers reported that government security forces encircled their camp, surveiled and taunted them, and called on them to end their sit-in. Protesters also reported that a low-flying American military helicopter swept towards the demonstrators, in what was interpreted as an attempt to intimidate them. Their response, captured in the video below, was to throw shoes. Demonstrations have been joined by dozens of women, who are calling for the end of the U.S. occupation and the release of their sons and brothers who are held in both Iraqi and US prisons throughout Iraq. This week tribal chieftains from nearby Anbar province joined the Mosul prostests as well." Today the Great Iraqi Revolution notes, "A member of Ghannam's henchmen has now announced live on air that he and 16 other members of Ghannam's force are resigning because they cannot accept his comands to detain women demonstrators as well as shoot at demonstrators. He also stated that there are Iranian officers in Ghannam's force in the 2nd Regiment."
Let's move over a second to one of Iraq's neighbors, Syria. Eleanor Hall (The World Today with Eleanor Hall, Australia's ABC -- link has text and audio) summarizes the current events as follows, "Now to Syria where anti-government protesters say that government security forces shot dead at least six more people in Deraa overnight in a new round of clashes. Human rights groups say that up to 400 people have now died since the protests began in mid-March. The United Nations Security Council held emergency talks on the issue and the secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, led Western nations in expressing alarm at the deadly Syrian government crackdown." AFP adds, "UN chief Ban Ki-moon has expressed 'increasingly grave concern' at the bloody crackdown on protesters in Syria, especially at the use of tanks and live ammunition by security forces" and quotes Ban Ki-Moon stating, "Syrian authorities have an obligation to protect."
And what about the obligations of Iraqi authorities? Where's the "increasingly grave concern" for the Iraqi protesters? When even the governor of Ninevah Province is calling out the Iraqi military's attacks on the people of Mosul, where's the concern from the United Nations? Human rights groups -- Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Women's Freedom in Iraq -- have decried the targeting of protesters (and the targeting of Iraqi journalists). Where's the concern for what's happening to Iraqis from the UN -- or, for that matter, from the US government?
I'll get a pen and make a list
And give you my analysis
But I can't write this story
With a happy ending.
Was I the bullet or the gun
Or just a target drawn upon
A wall that you decided
Wasn't worth defending?
-- "I Can't Help You Anymore" written by Aimee Mann, first appears on her album The Forgotten Arm
On Mosul, War News Radio posts video from Link TV's Moasic which is from Al Jazeera:
Al Jazeera: In Iraq, security forces opened fire on protesters in Mosul city's Ahrar Square. In light of the events, the Ninevah Provincial Council suspended its official duties in the province for one day, in protest of the security forces attack on Mosul demonstrators. In this video, people rising up are trying to reach Mosul's Ahrar Square. Security forces prevented them from doing so in an open fire on them with live bullets. There is no doubt that this video will be followed by others. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was unexpectedly confronted on three different levels. These days it comes from al Mosul. These are stressful days for every ruler that finds himself surrounded by angry protesters calling for his downfall unless he meets a list of demands. Their first no is a firm rejection of the Ninevah Provincial Council's nomination of a new police commander in the province who protesters accuse of killing hundreds of Iraqis. The second no comes as a rejection to Nouri al-Maliki's invitation for delegation of Mosul residents to meet with him. What is the purpose of such a meeting when their demands are as clear as the sun at 4 o'clock in the afternoon. The government of Baghdad is politically marginalizing Mosul and imposing its security mechanism on the city -- security forces arrest whomever they want and impose arbitrary rules on the people's movements to impede traffic and daily life. And this rejection is based on the marytyrs.
Speaker at protest: Brothers in your name and in the name of all honorable people, we reject this offer! We reject this offer! We say to al-Maliki -- we say to al-Maliki that those who want to talk to us can come to us They can meet with us here in the Square.
Al Jazeera: Then came an official rejection -- in addition to that of the masses -- to the curfew and teh ban on demonstrations because as soon as the curfew is imposed, the people take to the streets en mass. Their actions are reciprocated as if the issue is some sort of struggle to break the people's will and see who will last longer. An additional facet was added to the issue when security forces fired live bullets at protesters. The Constitution of the country allows the people of the country to stage sit-ins and protests but then the land seems to be devoid of a Constitution. Powerism imposed on the people telling them either you stay home or live bullets from above and probably to your heads is what you can expect. In reality a number of Mosul residents were hit after security forces forcibly dispersed protests; however, this has been tried and proven: As soon as people hear the sounds of bullets, feelings of nationalism and revenge are born inside of them. 'Why are they killing us and depriving us of our rights?' So the ruler applies in the end, 'How I wish hadn't killed and how I wish I had met their demands on the very first day.'
Still on the protests but moving over to the KRG, Christian Peacemaker Teams have been on the ground in the KRG reporting on the violence. CPT publishes this piece by Annika Spalde today:
On Monday 11 April, the four of us from the CPT short-term delegation accompanied the CPT Iraq team to the central square in Suleimaniya to meet the demonstrators and the people organizing the demonstrations.
As soon as we entered the square, we were surrounded by twenty-thirty men of different ages. One of them started asking CPTer Michele Naar Obed, "Have CPT done the report that you were talking about? What are you doing to tell the world about what's happening here?"
I started talking with a young man standing next to me. He had been a student at the university, but was now unemployed. "Our leaders are worse than Saddam," he said, with a tired voice. "They have learnt from Saddam. There are no human rights for us here." In his opinion, many of those who come to the square each day are unemployed. "It is very difficult to get a job if you don't have a connection to one of the parties, PUK or KDP. And if you don't have a job, you have no money. You can't even afford to buy a cup of tea."
Michele told one of the men questioning her that Amnesty International would publish a report on the repression against protesters in Iraq and Kurdistan the following day. He said they would mention this from the stage as an encouragement to the people that the information is getting out.
After a half hour we met with two organizers of the protests in a café. One was a journalist, the other works for an international non-governmental organization. They told us how, in mid-February, the demonstrations started in a very spontaneous way, with inspiration from the people's nonviolent fight for democracy and human rights in Tunisia and Egypt. After just a few days of demonstrations, representatives from different sectors of society created a committee to coordinate activities and to think strategically. One decision they took early on was to always follow the principles of nonviolence. Another was to have an "open mike" at the square, where anyone could share his or her opinions and experiences.
The demonstrations at the square in Suleimaniya have become a daily event for almost two months. Demands to the government that it prosecute persons responsible for the killing of unarmed protesters, have not been met. There is no dialogue between the demonstrators and the authorities. The ad hoc committee organizing the demonstrations is thinking about its next step. They have written and published a "Roadmap for a peaceful transition of power in Southern Kurdistan," where they would call for the resignation of the president, among other things.
We're going to be pulling from the Amnesty report mentioned above. But first, Tim Arango (New York Times) reports:

When he returned to his native Kurdistan in February to join the flickering of a protest movement, Dr. Pishtewan Abdellah, a hematologist who lives in Australia but also carries an Iraqi passport, suspected that the demonstrators might face harsh treatment from the Kurdish authorities. At several protests during the last two months security forces have opened fire, and an estimated 10 people have been killed and dozens wounded, according to human rights activists.
What Dr. Abdellah did not anticipate, though, was a barrage of one of this country's more peculiar menaces: death threats by text message.
Death threats by text message. Hmm. I want to text you, I do what? April 12th, Amnesty International issued the report [PDF format warning] "DAYS OF RAGE: PROTESTS AND REPRESSION IN IRAQ" and pulling from the section on the KRG:
At around 2.30pm as I had just finished a phone conversation with a friend, three men confronted me and asked me to give them the mobile. Other men arrived within seconds, including from behind, and then I received several punches on the head and different parts of the body. I fell to the ground, they kicked me for several minutes, but I managed to stand up. They put one handcuff on my right wrist and attached it to someone else's left wrist. But I managed with force to pull my arm away and the handcuff was broken. I ran away towards the Citadel but within seconds another group of security men in civilian clothes blocked my way and they started punching me and hitting me. There were now many security men surrounding me and kicking me. There was blood streaming from my nose and from left eye. My head was very painful.
They put me in a car . . . One security man told me I was one of the troublemakers. I was taken to the Asayish Gishti in Erbil. I was first asked to go to the bathroom to wash my face wash my face which was covered in blood. I was then interrogated in the evening and the person interrogating me kept asking about why I was in the park and kept accusing me of being a troublemaker. I was asked to sign a written testimony. When I said I needed to see what is on the paper he hit me hard. Then I signed the paper without reading it. I stayed there for two nights sharing a room with around 60 people. Then on the third day I was taken to a police station where I stayed for one night before I was released. I was not tortured in the Asayish Prison or in the police station."
As noted earlier this month, "There are many more in the KRG who share stories and one of the most disturbing aspects -- something that sets it apart from the arrests/kidnappings of activists elsewhere in Iraq -- is how and when the forces appear. The report doesn't make this point, I am. Forces in the KRG show up as people are on the phone or have just finished a call. It would appear that beyond the physical abuse and intimidation, they're also violating privacy and monitoring phone calls." Tim Arango's article today makes that even more clear. How do you call someone to threaten them over the phone or to text them over the phone? You start by knowing their phone number. How do you get that information if you don't personally know the person? How do you end up with their cell phone number? Privacy is not being respected within the KRG and the big question is are telecoms cooperating with the government to spy on residents and, if so, when did this spying begin?
We're still on the protests -- specifically teh coverage of them. Dan Hind is a British writer who posts at The Return of the Republic. He wrote about the protests in Iraq. He questioned Tim Arango's coverage. A friend at the New York Times was pleased (proud) of Tim's response and thought I'd like to include it. Friends know I'm not just going to write what they want and there's nothing to be proud of here. Dan Hind weighed in on coverage of the protests here. Excerpt:
The reader might reasonably wonder what these other issues were, but the article, at least in its British incarnation, was remarkably unforthcoming. Arango tells us later that 'inspired by uprisings by Arabs elsewhere, Iraqis held their own protests in Tahrir Square' in late February. The authorities attacked the protesters and the protests did not 'blossom nationally'. But apparently the government did decide to 'dial back the crackdown on night-life'.
But why were the protesters taking to the streets in Iraq? The New York Times doesn't give us much of a clue. But the Guardian, the Observer's sister paper in London, published a piece by Sami Ramadani that sheds light on their grievances. Ramadani quoted some of the slogans:
Dan Hind was very kind. There's no point in being kind. Reporters -- ask any editor -- can't take criticism, they're married to every damn word and convinced that they've done something amazing when most haven't even risen to "adequate." Tim's one of those who likes to whine in e-mails. Instead he left a comment. He opens saying he's responding "with great relish" -- thereby explaining the breath. He snaps that if Hind had "read the original article" -- there's no reason for him to, Tim. Your paper chose to syndicate the article. Dan read it in the Observer. If your larger points are missing (or, more likely, you think they are) you take it up with people at your paper who syndicated the article, don't blame British readers of the Observer. Tim could have noted -- but fails to -- that he wrote the piece for the Week In Review sectio nof the paper and therefore it is an opinion piece and not actual reporting. That's no reflection on Dan Hind's commentary but it would explain the point of view in the piece. Instead he wants to note that if Dan had "perused The New York Times' coverage of the ongoing protests in Iraq you would have discovered that your points of criticism do not hold up to scrutiny." First, Tim, familiarize yourself with your paper's style manual. You should get the point very quickly. Secondly, it's not on the reader. No reader of an article has to "familiarize" themselves with past coverage.
If I don't convey something in the snapshot -- and frequently I don't, these are dictated and dictated quickly, any edits are done in my head with 'take out paragraph three and move the section on Camp Ashraf up above the Parliament section' -- that's on me. If you don't, that's on you. You wrote a piece for your paper's opinion section on Sunday -- biggest day of the week for the paper in terms of circulation so you had the potential to reach a large section of readers you've never reached before. Your article, as Dan Hind pointed out, did not offer clarity on the protest motivations. It should have. Instead of carping and trying to bicker, you should file that away for when you next write for The Week In Review.
Tim Arango then writes, "You then continue with a more general critique of The Times' coverage of the protests in Iraq, a gripe that you surely wouldn't be able to make had you taken the time to read our numerous articles over the last several months about the grievances of Iraqis. It is astonishing that you would take the liberty to make the following statement, without seemingly reviewing our coverage: '… for The New York Times to be so vague about the grievances of the Iraqi people in a country that is, after all, still occupied by 50,000 American troops seems to me to be extraordinary'." Take the liberty? Again, no one's required to read every article the paper's published to weigh in on one of your pieces. If you'd practiced clarity in your Week In Review piece, no one would have been confused.
Of course, they wouldn't have been informed either. Because the Times has done a lousy job of covering the protests. That includes the fact that the Washington Post has owned the government's reaction to the protests because the Times has ignored journalists being pulled out of cafes, beaten in Baghdad by security forces.
You pretend to know, Tim Arango, how the protests started in Iraq -- well they re-started. They were enough last year to force the Minister of the Electricy out. But you weren't covering Iraq then and are apparently unfamiliar with that aspect of the protests. To prove the paper's been on the ball and show that the paper covered the issues, you provide a list of links. But, thing is, Tim, those links don't go back far enough this year alone.
What started the protests? The paper's never been huge on crediting others but Iraqi protests this year kicked off in February and kicked off outside of Baghdad. As January wound down, Ned Parker. reported on the secret prisons for the Los Angeles Times and Human Rights Watch issued their report on it. Parker's January report on the secret prisons and how they were run by Nouri's security forces, the Baghdad Brigade followed up on his earlier report on how the Brigade was behind the prison that he and the paper exposed in April 2010. All the while Nouri insisted that there were no secret prisons in Iraq -- such as February 6th when Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) reported, "The Iraqi government on Sunday denied a human rights organization's allegation that it has a secret detention center in Baghdad, run by Prime Minister Nur al-Maliki's security forces." The report then quoted Nouri's spokesperson Ali al-Moussawi stating, "We don't know how such a respectable organization like Human Rights Watch is able to report such lies." Camp Honor is a prison that's under Nouri's control, staffed by people working for him. Amnesty International would also call out the use of secret prisons while Nouri continued to deny them.
But while many in the press would play dumb, the Iraqi people knew better. They knew their loved ones were gone, disappeared into Iraq's legal system. That is what began the protests in Iraq: the prisons. It's what fueled them throughout. From the Feb. 10th snapshot:
Alsumaria TV reports protests took place in Babel Province today with one protest calling for the release of prisoners and another calling out the continued lack of public services. Dar Addustour reports the the Council of the Bar Association issued a call for a Baghdad demonstration calling for corruption to be prosecuted, for the Constitution to be followed and sufficient electricity in all the schools. Nafia Abdul-Jabbar (AFP) reports that approximately 500 people (mainly attorneys "but also including some tribal sheikhs") marched and that they also decried the secret prisons. They carried banners which read "Lawyers call for the government to abide by the law and provide jobs for the people" and "The government must provide jobs and fight the corrupt." Bushra Juhi (AP) counts 3,000 demonstrating and calls it "one of the biggest anti-government demonstrations in Iraq" this year. Juhi also notes that attorneys staged smaller protests in Mosul and Basra today. Al Rafidayn reports that five provinces saw protests yesterday as the people demanded reliable public services and an end to government corruption. Noting the Babylon Province protest, the paper quotes Amer Jabk (Federation of Industrialists in Babylon president) stating that the provincial government has not provided any of the services the province needs, that basic services have deteriorated and that heavy rains have not only seen streets closed but entire neighborhoods sinking. Hayder Najm (niqash) observes protests have taken place across Iraq, "The protesters' grievances have been many and varied: the quality and level of basic services, government restrictions on civil liberties and freedom of expression, violations against civil servants, and the rampant financial and administrative corruption within state institutions. [. . .] Eight years after the US invasion of Iraq, the electricity supply in most areas of the country still does not exceed two hours a day, and the country still suffers from poor infrastructure, a weak transport network, and an acute crisis of drinking water and sanitation."

The February 10th snapshot. But Tim Arango can only go back to Feb. 15th because that's when the paper finally, kind of sort of (Jack Healy's article is an embarrassment of non-knowledge) acknowledges the protests.
Again, I didn't seek out the above topic. A friend with the paper thought Tim Arango had done an amazing job responding to a critique. I said I'd review it and then note it in some way but warned I might disagree. And I do. Tim Arango wrote an article (an opinion piece) that his paper chose to syndicate around the world. A reader in England, reading the syndicated version, was left confused. Instead of owning that and addressing it, Arango wants to stomp his feet and insist it is the reader's job to go back and read eight other articles. No, that's not how it works. And Arango's stomping of the feet? Off putting here in the US. But overseas, probably a little worse than that? If I made the call at the Observer, Tim Arango would not be featured again since he's unable to take criticism from Observer readers and wants to insist that it is their job not just to read what the Observer prints but all these articles from another paper. It's a point I'll be making to two friends at the Observer on the phone tomorrow morning.
Ben Birnbaum (Washington Times) reports former head of the Democratic National Committee Howard Dean is speaking out on behalf of the MEK and said yesterday of Nouri al-Maliki, "The truth is the prime minister of Iraq is a mass murderer." What's Howard Dean referring to? Camp Ashraf. Following the US invasion, the US made these MEK residents of Camp Ashraf -- Iranian refuees who had been in Iraq for decades -- surrender weapons and also put them under US protection. They also extracted a 'promise' from Nouri that he would not move against them. July 28, 2009 the world saw what Nouri's word was actually worth. Since that Nouri-ordered assault in which at least 11 residents died, he's continued to bully the residents. April 4th, Iran's Fars News Agency reported that the Iraqi military denied allegations that it entered the camp and assaulted residents. Specifically, Camp Ashraf residents state, "The forces of Iraq's Fifth Division invaded Camp Ashraf with columns of armored vehicles, occupying areas inside the camp, since midnight on Saturday." Friday April 8th saw another attack which the Iraqi government again denied. Thursday April 14th, the United Nations confirmed that 34 people were killed in the April 8th assault on Camp Ashraf. Barbara Grady (San Jose Mercury News) reported that the dead included journalist Asieh Rakhshani who has family in California. Dean explains to Birnbaum how he learned of the MEK, "I got asked by my agent to go over to Paris to speak to a group I knew nothing about. I spent a lot of time on the Internet learning about them. Brinbaum notes, "Mr. Dean cited a long list of former U.S. officials who had become vocal supporters of the Mojahedin, maing Jim Jones, a former director of the National Security Council and Louise Freeh, a former FBI director."

The US government failed to live up to its legal obligations. It's an issue in England -- even letters to the editor decry the US, like Martyn Storey's letter to the Guardian which includes, "Foreign Office minister Alistair Burt has issued a strongly worded statement deploring the loss of life and emphasising the need to make medical assistance available. There is no sign, however, of the US administration rushing to fulfil its obligations. We are waiting for President Obama's strong condemnation of the atrocities committed by Iraqi troops at Ashraf. " For all the attention it receives in England, it's largely ignored in the US. The Tehran Times notes, "The Iranian ambassador to Baghdad has predicted that the members of the terrorist Mojahedin Khalq Organization (MKO) would leave Iraq by the end of the current Iranian calendar year, which started on March 21. The Iraqi government has issued a declaration and the Iraqi cabinet has approved a ratification, both of which require that the MKO members leave Iraq, Ambassador Hassan Danaiifar told the Mehr News Agency in an interview published on its website on Tuesday." This week at the Huffington Post, former resident of Camp Ashraf Hajar Mojtahedzadeh contributed a column:

On Thursday, April 8th, I received a phone call a little before midnight D.C. time. The voice on the other end franticly told me to turn on the Iranian satellite channel, Iran NTV, adding that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's forces had stormed Camp Ashraf just hours before. As my friend on the phone continued speaking, all I could think about was my brother Hanif and our mutual friend Elham. Hanif and Elham Zanjani, both 29, are residents of Camp Ashraf located in the Diyala province, north of Baghdad in Iraq. The camp is home to 3,400 unarmed Iranian refugees, members of the Mojahedin-e-Khalq (MEK), the primary opposition group to the tyrannical mullahs in Iran. Surely acting at the behest of Tehran, the Iraqi Prime Minister ordered the deadly assault.
As I watched the scenes of carnage unfold that day, I recognized the familiar face of my dear Elham. Her body, badly injured by a hand grenade thrown by Iraqi forces, was lying on a medic stretcher. Overwhelmed with a sense of anger and disbelief, I realized that my loved ones were paying the price of their legal protector's broken promises, with their blood.

In England, Natalie O'Neill (Times) reports, "A MOTHER has protested almost every day for 25 years in aid of Iranian refugees in Camp Ashraf, where her daughter lives. Despite finding it difficult to walk, 75-year-old Fatemeh Mohammad has rallied alongside hundreds of fellow Anglo-Iranians outside the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and US Embassy in Westminster calling for the protection of exiles in Camp Ashraf, Iraq." A British MP, Alex Carlile of the House of Lords, weighs in on the assault on Camp Ashraf at the Independent of London:
Such international condemnation as there has been of the deadly attack this month carried out by Iraqi forces against a camp housing members of the Iranian opposition leaves two pertinent questions unanswered. First, is the attack a crime against humanity under the principles of international law; and, secondly, have the US authorities turned a deliberate blind eye to a massacre on their watch in Iraq as part of a deal with the Iraqi authorities, or as part of a policy of appeasement?
Undoubtedly, the answer to the first question is yes. Video footage of the incident shows Iraqi forces running over unarmed residents with armoured vehicles and Humvees. Further as stated by the Bar Human Rights Committee: "the Camp residents, all of whom are recognised as Protected Persons under the Fourth Geneva Convention, were shot at indiscriminately". The United Nations confirmed that at least 26 men and 8 women were killed, while 178 suffered gunshots out of some 300 injured.
The actions of the Iraqi authorities and specifically Nouri Al-Maliki is an international criminal justice offence which demands that the UN, US and EU condemn the attack and define it appropriately as a crime against humanity. Firing at the unarmed residents with live machine gun rounds in these circumstances was clearly a government sanctioned act of war perpetrated against a civilian population and specifically a civilian population which has repeatedly been recognised as protected under the Convention.

Alsumaria TV reports, "Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki threatened on Tuesday to ask for the dissolution of the government in case it fails to accomplish the country's projects beyond the 100 day deadline. The deadline involves Iraq's Parliament also, Maliki said." If that happens, Nouri says, he may call for early elections. Yeah, that's what Iraq needs, another round of elections. Those 2010 elections were resolved so quickly. Not noted in the report, it's already been floated by Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nufaifi that if the 100 days passes without marked improvement, it may be necessary to register a vote of no confidence. That would topple Nouri's government. It is fear of that which has prompted Nouri to begin speaking of the need for a "majority government." Al Rafidayn reports Nouri was again speaking of that yesterday saying it would allow 99% consensus -- that would be 99% consensus on plans that currently his own hand-picked Cabinet can't or won't agree to. The puppet wants some puppets of his own to play with.

Al Mada reports on Nouri's press conference in Baghdad yesterday where he declared that Iraq could not defend its external borders or the country from an invasion if one should take place. Moqtada al-Sadr's spokesperson Salah al-Obeidi is quoted insisting that if US forces remain on the ground in Iraq past December 31, 2011, the Mehdi milita/mob will be in the streets of Iraq again. Al Rafidayn also reports on the press conference noting something others are skipping, Nouri says that afer he returns from his trip to Korea, he will invite members of Parliament to share their own views. The wording could be seen as Norui refusing to see the Palriament as a body that makes the decision -- that's a position in keeping with his previous stance. Meanwhile Dar Addustour notes that MP Haidar al-Mula and 75 others are calling for Nouri to appear before the Parliament and take questions in his role as commander-in-chief of the military.

Al Sabaah reports
that the Cabinet has put an end to employees of "the three presidencies" (Iraq's president and two vice presidents) grabbing up residential land plots. Dar Addustour calls it a "private ownership scheme" It sounds very good but before you buy it hook-line-and-sinker, note that the source is Nouri's spokesperson Ali al-Dabbagh.
We've noted Firas Ali several times in the snapshots, most recently Monday:
In the text version of the report, Muir notes that Firas Ali campaigned for Ala Nabil's release while he was imprisoned for eight days and that the response was for "armed security operatives" to seize Firas Ali from an NGO office and that Ala Nabil is attempting to get Firas released.
In Defense of Marxism notes, "After almost two weeks of detention, Firas Ali was released from Muthanna Airport prison on the evening of Monday, 25 April. We would like to express special thanks to all those who in the campaign to free Firas Ali the youth leader of Rahrir Square in Baghdad Iraq."
Turning to violence, Reuters notes a Baghdad shooting that left the a Ministry of Defence official injured, a Hamman al-Alil roadside bombing which claimed 1 life, a Baghdad market bombing which injured five people, a Baghdad bombing which injured two people, a Baghdad bombing which injured four people and a Baghdad sticky bombing targeting Shafqi Mahdi ("general director of Iraq's theatre and cinema department").
On violence in Iraq, Kelly McEvers (NPR's All Things Considered -- link is audio and text) filed a report yesterday that's rather confusing. John Drake of AKE Group is on speaking. He does not say in the report what Michele Norris apparently wanted so Norris puts in his mouth? Maybe she just misunderstood him or McEvers' report? I have no idea but McEvers interviewed him, recorded the conversation and the pitch of the report Norris did on air is not him actually being quoted. That's a problem right there. It's a bigger problem for those of us who receive AKE Group's reports because it's hard to believe that the John Drake who writes those reports would have said the words NPR puts into his mouth. Kelly McEvers has an interesting report. But violence has been on the rise since February 2010. Steady rise. And the latest report from AKE opens with, "Levels of voilence rose in Iraq over the past week." Those of us who are paying for AKE's reports like to believe we're not wasting money.