Saturday, November 29, 2008

Murder by Death

Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving.

What's with the strobe light? Is Lionel Twain supposed to live in a disco? We're watching Murder By Death. Lionel Twain is a rich old man who invites famous detectives to his estate to solve a murder. It's a comedy written by Neil Simon. Had to check with C.I. for this part, it was written by Neil Simon for the screen and was not an adapation of one of his plays, it's an original screenplay. It's from the 70s and it stars include Peter Falk, Peter Sellers, Eileen Brennan, Maggie Smith, David Niven and more. Lionel is played by the author Truman Capote.

The characters are based on famous mystery characters like Nick & Nora Charles, Miss Marple, Charlie Chan, Sam Spade, etc. It's a pretty funny movie and one I've watched many, many times.

I think the three best performances come from Peter Falk, Eileen Brennan and Maggie Smith. Smith's always funny (like in Sister Act or California Suite). She can be funny all on her own and really is in this movie because David Niven really seems unaware that he's doing scenes with her. Peter Falk and Eileen Brennan make a really great comedy team and they probably make me laugh more often in the movie than any one else.

From the start, with the car running out of gas, they have you laughing. Too be honest, the piercing screaming (Maggie Smith when she sees a rat and the doorbell which is a woman's scream and not a chime) is off-putting to me. It's too high pitched and too loud. It reminds me how I can't watch some sitcoms because all they do is scream and it really is a pain to listen to.

Moving over to politics, here's some truth from Mike Whitney:

The truth is, Obama was shoehorned into the White House because the ruling elite saw that the country was slipping into a consumer-led depression. They needed a bright new face to restore confidence and spark optimism during the tough times ahead. But now that he's been elected, they've surrounded him with the very men who, to great extent, created the present crisis. Lawrence Summers pushed for the repeal of the laws which prevented commercial banks from merging with the Wall Street casinos and he also helped to deregulate derivatives trading which now threatens to bring down the entire financial system if a major player, like Citigroup, goes under.

And with news on Iraq, Tim Cocks reports:

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki was written off a year ago as weak and sectarian, but a pact requiring U.S. troops to withdraw has enabled him to emerge as a nationalist strongman.
His critics now complain he is overbearing and authoritarian.
Initially derided by both Sunni Arab and Shi'ite opponents as a U.S. puppet, yet also accused of being manipulated by America's foe Shi'ite Iran, there were mutterings in Washington and Baghdad of replacing Maliki back in 2007.

The puppet gets a bit stronger and he was already a despot. Oh the fun of illegal wars! Imagine how many more victims al-Maliki will be able to target and destroy. Installed by the US and funded by them. He's our killer in Baghdad and we better face that fact.

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

Friday, November 28, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, the so-called 'coalition' continues shrinking, the press pimps spin for the White House, and more.

Yesterday, the treaty masquerading as the Status Of Forces Agreement passed the Iraqi Parliament and some form of the treaty was also released in English (finally) by the White House. While the White House issued a fact-free feel-good from the Bully Boy of the United States and the press, always desperate to fit in, copped a few feels of their own, the reaction was not as universal aclaim in Iraq. Wisam Mohammed (Reuters) reports approximately 9,000 people gathered to protest in Sadr City and another 2,500 in Basra. AP adds, "Al-Sadr's statement calls for "peaceful public protests" and the display of black banners as a sign of mourning. But it doesn't repeat his threat to unleash militia fighters to attack U.S. forces if they don't leave immediately."

The treaty passed but no seems concerned and you have to wonder who in the US administration (or the press) is paying attention. The UN warned this month that violence would most likely increase as a result of Parliamentary elections being (finally) scheduled for next year. Was it really the time to antagonize Iraqis further? Will the treaty be looked at in a year or two the same way Paul L. Bremer's decision to de-Baathify the Iraqi government was? Will it be the failure that people point to and marvel over how the US just had to keep pushing, just had to poke the bear. Was it worth the anger and the ill will? No one wants to debate that or acknowledge it. The press is on their cop-a-feel high. Take
Jane Arraf (Christian Science Monitor) who breathlessly pants the vote was "historic". Historic? 149 members of Parliament voted for the treaty. There are 275 members of Parliament. That's barely over half. Historic? Really? The Scotsman explains the treaty better than any domestic outlet: "On Thursday, Iraqi lawmakers approved a pact allowing US forces to stay in Iraq for three more years." The domestic press outlets are too busy parroting the White House to note much reality. AFP explains, "The United States on Thursday hailed the Iraqi parliament's approval of a landmark accord for US troops to leave the country in three years, but a referendum on the deal next year could complicate withdrawal plans for the next US president." Ignore the referendum, ignore that the majority of Iraqis want the US out now, ignore that the backdoor deals that the US crafted to push the treaty through are not unknown in Iraq . . . On that last point, Iran's Press TV reports:

"Washington echelons repeatedly threatened to overthrow the Iraqi government if they continued their opposition to the security deal," said Tehran's interim Friday prayers leader Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati. Iraq's al-Morsad reported on Oct. 10 that US Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte had warned that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki would be 'ousted' unless he signed the US-proposed security pact. Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi has also claimed that the Bush administration had threatened to cut off vital services to Baghdad if it further delayed the accord, saying the threats were akin to 'political blackmail'. "It was really shocking for us…Many people are looking to this attitude as a matter of blackmailing," al-Hashimi said on Oct. 26.

Ignore all of that and ignore that all of this is one big pressure cooker. It really is just like when Bremer disbanded the Baath Party and the real-time press rushed to hail that too. Let's drop back to
the April 10 Senate Commitee on Foreign Relations hearing chaired by Joe Biden who noted "We've pledged we're not only going to consult when there is an outside threat, but also when there is an inside threat. We've just witnessed when Mr. Maliki engaged in the use of force against another Shia group in the south, is this an inside threat? . . . [that the proposed treaty requires the US] to take sides in Iraq's civil war [and that] there is no Iraqi government that we know of that will be in place a year from now -- half the government has walked out. . . . Just understand my frustration: We want to normalize a government that really doesn't exist." Senator Russ Feingold agreed noting, "Given the fact that the Maliki government doesn't represent a true colation, won't this agreement [make it appear] we are taking sides in the civil war especially when most Iraqi Parliamentarians have called for the withdrawal of troops?" But the press, reflecting their 'betters' in the administration, rush to ignore those basic facts. Feingold's question bears repeating, "Are you not concerned at all that the majority of the Iraqi Parliament has called for withdrawal?" Apparently the press isn't concerned but they're not free press, they can't report, they can only reflect the spin coming out of the White House.

None more so than the media crack whore
Alissa J. Rubin who joins with Campbell Robertson (New York Times) to pimp one lie after another and, most notoriously, the lie that the treaty "goes into effect on Januray 1, 2009, when the current United Nations mandate that currently governs American troop operations in the country expires." Put down the crack pipe and step away from the keyboard, Alissa J. The treaty now goes to the presidency council where the three members may approve it or they may shoot it down (only one vote is required to nix the treaty). Translation, at this point, nothing goes into effect on January 1, 2009. Don't get stoned and try to 'report,' Alissa, it only embarrasses yourself, the paper and everyone else. Who, what, when and where, not predicitions passed off as facts. She's far from the only cop-a-feel-pimper, but she is the worst. The Washington Post manages to include (buried deep) the following on the treaty:
". . . the pact also allows the Iraqi government to negotiate with the United States to extend the presence of U.S. troops if conditions on the ground are not stable. The
Los Angeles Times manages to note: "The pact allows for amendments if both sides agree to them. U.S. officials have indicated that they interpret that as permitting an extension, if security conditions in Iraq are deemed too shaky to leave Iraqi forces in charge. 'There is a provision for extension, by agreement of both sides,' one U.S. official said." While the Iraqi Parliament has now approved the treaty, the White House thinks they can get away with circumventing the Constitution and refusing to allow the treaty to go before the US Congress. American Freedom Campaign picks the lack of US Congressional input into the treaty as the abuse of the week:Iraq Parliament to vote on U.S.-Iraq agreement, while Congress has no inputDuring the Bush administration, the power of the executive branch has been greatly expanded. At times, President Bush has treated Congress like an inferior branch of government – and, to be honest, Congress has done very little to demonstrate it minds being treated that way. Case in point: On November 17, the New York Times reported that the U.S. and Iraq had reached an agreement setting the terms of the U.S.'s presence in Iraq after the expiration of the UN mandate on December 31. Although the Bush administration is calling this agreement a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), a category of international agreement that does not require congressional approval, it is clear that the agreement goes well beyond a traditional SOFA. Not surprisingly, the Bush administration has no plans to seek congressional approval. What makes this even worse is that under the Iraqi constitution, this kind of agreement must be approved by the Iraqi Parliament. So we are left with a situation in which the Iraqi Parliament is voting on an agreement that will affect the lives of U.S. soldiers, but Congress has no voice at all in the process. And what is Congress doing about this? Very, very little so far…

And while Biden could express frustration April 10th over the treaty and object to it, while Barack Obama could do the same as he was running in the Democratic Party primary for the presidential nomination, while he could show boat and pretend he shared Hillary Clinton's objection to a treaty without Congressional approval (even becoming one of the 13 co-sponsors of the bill she put foward), while Biden and Obama could run in the general election insisting that the treaty must have Congressional approval, that was then. Every time a Barack wins an election, a Barack loses a spine.
Deborah Haynes (Times of London) shares this today: His transition team will now be poring over every word of the document to see what it will mean for those soldiers who may remain in Iraq for up to three years after the expiry of the UN mandate on December 31. Mr Obama, a lawyer, will be anxious to see that American troops remaining in the country do not fall foul of Iraqi or international law.The treaty was yet another 'present' vote for Barack. He couldn't stand up, he couldn't do a damn thing. When you've built your own myth around your so-called judgment and the only thing you have to remotely base that claim on is a 2002 speech, you're paralyzed and that's what Barack's rushing to enshrine: a paralyzed presidency.

Meanwhile further tensions on the horizon as
Reuters reports, "Oil contracts signed by the Kurdish regional government (KRG) with foreign oil companies are not recognised by central government in Baghdad, Iraqi Oil Minister Hussain Shahristani said on Friday."

In other news the so-called coalition of the willing continues shrinking.
CNN reports Japan is ending their air mission in Iraq as 2008 draws to a close. Takashi Hirokawa and Sachiko Sakamaki (Bloomberg News) note that "Japan Air Self-Defense Force will terminate the airlifts, which started in March 2004 and are designed to help reconstruction work". UPI adds that Yasukazu Hamada, Japan's Defense Minister, "said Japan's air self-defense force mission had helped in imporving the Iraqi situation, Kydo news service reported." Deborah Haynes (Times of London) observes, "President Bush's 'coalition of the willing' is set to all but disappear from Iraq by the end of the year, with 13 countries, including South Korea, Japan, Moldova and Tonga preparing to withdraw their few remaining troops. Britian, Australia, Romania, Estonia and El Salvador are the only nations, apart from the US, that plan to remain after a UN mandate authorising their presence expires on December 31."

Some of today's reported violence?

BBC notes 9 dead (plus the bomber for 10) and fifteen wounded in a Musayib mosque bombing. Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports the mosque death toll rose to 13 ("12 worshipers" plus the bomber) and notes a Baghdad car bombing that claimed the life of the driver and 2 others while leaving fourteen wounded as well as a Diyala Province house bombing that claimed the lives of 2 Iraqi soldiers with three more injured.

In music news,
I Am Three announces there new digital download available here or here which includes the tracks "Burning Me," "Fell Over," "I Try," "Monkeyphonics," "Nostalgia," "Worth It" and "Strange addiction." In addition, Kat reviews Labelle's Back to Now here. In non-music news check out Gaza Strip: a catastrophic human toll - by Mahmud Hams / Agence France-Presse.

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Friday, November 28, 2008

Mike Whitney, Ralph Nader, etc.

Thanksgiving, hope you had a great one! :D I did. I said I'd post on Thanksgiving and I am. C.I. is working on "I Hate The War" and I'll wrap up when that's done.

I see Crazy Ass Dave Lindorff is attempting to get some attention. He'll have to do it without me, he is the loon. No matter how crazy the rest of the world is, Dave is always Supreme Crazy Ass. But I see Ralph Nader has something up at CounterPunch. This is from his "Open Up Those Corporate Tax Returns:"

Disclosure of corporate income tax returns would help offset the intentional obscurity and complexity surrounding corporate records that has so directly contributed to the current financial crisis.
It would also lead to much better tax policy. President-elect Obama has stated that he and his administration will carefully review every budget expenditure, in order to save taxpayer dollars and eliminate or curtail programs that have outlived their usefulness or never should have been started. This is a welcome commitment. Aside from cutting wasteful Pentagon spending, however, the really big ways to improve the government's balance sheet are in eliminating unfair, inefficient corporate tax loopholes, and escapes to tax havens abroad.
The complexity of the tax code -- itself the product of long-term, persistent and intensive lobbying -- invites esoteric gaming by large corporations, aided and abetted by lawyers and accountants.
Some tax provisions are included in the Code with almost no one other than the lobbyists who wrote them understanding what their implications will be.
And some tax provisions are muscled through by powerful interests, but impose public costs not fully understood at the time of enactment, while offering minimal public benefits.

And because corporate welfare is violence, we'll move over to this on violence from the State Dept last week:

UNIFEM: "Say No to Violence Against Women" CampaignStatement by Secretary Condoleezza RiceWashington, DCNovember 19, 2008
One year ago, the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) began its global campaign to advocate among publics and governments for an end to violence against women. In the course of the year, we have taken important steps to address this issue.
During its June 2008 Security Council Presidency, the United States focused on actions that would follow from UN Security Council Resolution 1325, on "Women, Peace, and Security." On June 19, the United States chaired an open Security Council thematic discussion on the topic of violence in situations of armed conflict. The debate culminated in adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 1820, which condemns the use of sexual violence in conflict and post-conflict situations.
Violence against women remains a fact of life in countries worldwide. Like poverty, HIV/AIDS, poor maternal health, and lack of access to education, violence against women is an ill that affects the person, her community, and her nation.
As the campaign to "Say No to Violence against Women" enters its second year, we should dedicate ourselves to creating awareness among individuals and communities of the great damage violence against women inflicts, and commit ourselves to end this atrocity.

Of course, the US has inflicted so much violence around the world in the last eight years, it may be hard for many people to take the above statement seriously. It's hard to take "Change" Barack seriously as well. This is from Mike Whitney's "You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet:"

Obama hasn’t even been sworn in yet, and already the Wall Street cheerleaders are celebrating his first great triumph. According the pundits, the stock market staged a surprise 494 point rally on Friday because -- get this -- it was announced that Timothy Geithner would be appointed Obama’s Treasury Secretary.
Timothy who?
What nonsense. The sudden turnaround in stocks had a lot more to do with short-covering than anything else, but don’t let that get in the way of a good story. Even so, the last minute surge on the NYSE couldn’t stop another week-long bloodbath that ended with the Dow and S&P 500 tumbling another five percent. That’s not to say that Geithner is not bright and talented guy. He is, and so is his White House counterpart, Lawrence Summers. But the media hype is way overdone. Geithner doesn’t drive the markets and he isn’t “change you can believe in.” In fact, he’s a protege of Henry Kissinger, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and has the same political pedigree as his predecessor, Henry Paulson. They’re both part of the ruling fraternity and their views of the world are nearly identical. There’s no doubt that Geithner will be more competent and effective than Paulson but, then again, who wouldn’t be? Paulson may be the biggest flop at Treasury since Andrew Mellon steered the country onto the reef during the Great Depression. The recent flap over the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) just proves the point. After convincing Congress to pass a $700 billion bailout plan — by invoking the specter of economic Armageddon and martial law — the former G-Sax chairman proceeded to set up a program for buying back mortgage-backed securities (MBS) and other junk paper from his banking buddies. Paulson argued that removing the crappy loans would help the banks get back on their feet and start lending again. Of course, no one could really figure out how the process was going to be executed, but maybe that’s just nit-picking. Fortunately, Paulson never got a chance carry out his plan. He was torpedoed by the stock market which plunged seven days in a row losing nearly 20 percent of its value until Paulson threw in the towel and did what 200 economists had suggested from the very beginning — buy preferred shares in the banks so they could rev-up their credit engines again.
Will Geithner be that stubborn? Not likely. And Paulson is a hard-nosed class warrior, too. Notice how every dime of the bailout has gone to banksters while all the efforts to provide relief to autoworkers, consumers or struggling homeowners have been blocked. Anyone who isn’t in the upper 1 percent income bracket can forget about getting a helping hand.

Okay, C.I. is done so I'm going to post as well. We're all about to watch some movies. Happy Thanksgiving. Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Thursday, November 27, 2008. The White House finally releases a copy of the treaty (knowing that everyone's on a holiday), the treaty passes in the Iraqi Parliament (but not by the required number), chaos and violence continue, a war resister seeks asylum in Germany, and more.

"Iraqi lawmakers today approved a pact allowing U.S. forces to stay in the country through 2011 after winning support from skeptics by promising a public referendum on the plan,"
explain Raheem Salman and Tina Susman (Los Angeles Times) and they go on to note that "[a]ccording to the agreement" troops out in 2011! Which agreement? The Arabic one the puppet government thinks is final or the English one the White House refuses to release because, as Adam Ashton, Jonathan S. Landay and Nancy A. Youssef (McClatchy Newspapers) reported, "Officials in Washington said the administration has withheld the official English translation of the agreement in an effort to suppress a public dispute with the Iraqis until after the Iraqi parliament votes." This was noted last week in a Congressional hearing as well so it's really past time to stop speaking of the agreement singular. Salman and Susman do a better job explaining this:The pact, while not explicitly stating that an extension can be sought, allows for amendments if both sides agree to them.U.S. officials have indicated that they interpret that as permitting a possible extension, if security conditions in Iraq are deemed too shaky to leave Iraqi security forces in charge. "There is a provision for extension, by agreement of both sides," one U.S. official said in discussing the pact. Yeah, it's a one-year agreement. Only 2009 cannot be changed or cancelled. Everything else that the White House says is set-in-stone is actually a conditional option that can be wiped away by either side. Today the White House finally released the agreement in English. We'll jump in at Article 30 The Period for which the Agreement is Effective:

1) This Agreement shall be effective for a period of three years, unless terminated sooner by either Party pursuant to paragraph 3 of this Article.

Get it? Paragraph three: "This Agreement shall terminate one year after a Party provides written notification to the other Party to that effect." Meaning only 2009 is set in stone. It is too late for either party (US or Iraq) to give one year's notice and cancel it in 2009. They can give notice to cancel in 2010 or 2011. The second clause is also worth noting because it weakens the strength of any agreement as well: "This Agreement shall be amended only with the official agrement of the Parties in writing and in accordance with the constitutional proceudures in effect in both countries." That's the aspect that allows for a change and all the 'flowery' respect for Constitutional procedures is hog wash. The Iraqi Parliament needed to have two-thirds of all members (not just members present) to pass the treaty today. They did not have that. According to their Constitution and their laws, that's what was needed. In the US, Congressional approval is needed over all treaties and we know that has not take place. We further know that Barack Obama -- alleged Constitutional scholar -- doesn't give a damn about the Constitution. He show boated and did his little pretty words number while campaigning but despite all his insisting that the treaty would have to come before the Congress -- including becoming one of thirteen co-sponsors on Hillary Clinton's Senate bill insisting upon that -- he shut his corporate mouth and put his tiny tail between his legs to slink off like the disgusting, cowering trash he is. He's not going to stand up for the Constitution 'later.' He couldn't stand up for it right now.

An agreement built upon a systematic disrespect for the rule of law does not suddenly develop one. An agreement built upon lies does not suddenly embrace honesty. The treaty is built on lies and they include the lies to the American people. Why is the US pursuing this treaty? The White House keeps talking about these 'recent' gains in Iraq. Today is November 27th of 2008. Recent would, for most of us, go back no further than the end of spring. But Article 25 explains Nouri al-Maliki and Condi Rice notified the United Nations that the Security Council's mandate would be cancelled at the end of this year . . . last year. al-Maliki's letter was dated December 7th, Rice's December 10th. 'Recent' events?

The agreement the White House has released may not be the official agreement or the final one. It is the one that US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker and Iraq's Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari signed November 17, 2008. The note above their signatures states: "Signed in duplicate in Baghdad on this 17th day of November, 2008, in the English and Arabic languages, each text being equally authentic."

That version is published online by the White House in PDF format (
click here). The Bully Boy of the United States released the following statement today: "Earlier today, in another sign of progress, Iraq's Council of Representatives approved two agreements with the United States, a Strategic Framework Agreement and a Security Agreement, often called a Status of Forces Agreement or SOFA. The Strategic Framework Agreement sets the foundation for a long-term bilateral relationship between our two countries, and the Security Agreement addresses our presence, activities, and withdrawal from Iraq. Today's vote affirms the growth of Iraq's democracy and increasing ability to secure itself. We look forward to a swift approval by Iraq's Presidency Council. Two years ago, this day seemed unlikely -- but the success of the surge and the courage of the Iraqi people set the conditions for these two agreements to be negotiated and approved by the Iraqi parliament. The improved conditions on the ground and the parliamentary approval of these two agreements serve as a testament to the Iraqi, Coalition, and American men and women, both military and civilian, who paved the way for this day."

But wasn't this day 'paved' in December of 2007 when Rice and al-Maliki notified the UN that there would be no extension of the mandate following its December 31, 2008 expiration?

Rumors abound that al-Maliki has consolidated his power with the passage. For the so-bad it's good reporting, check out
Alissa J. Rubin, Campbell Robertson and Stephen Farrell of the New York Times proving that reporters can serve up camp too. In the real world CBS News' Elizabeth Palmer explains that this means an extension of US troops in Iraq and link includes video. Meanwhile Ruth explained how certain members of the press are actively participating in the manufacture of consent and deliberately distorting what the treaty says (Ruth utilizes Ayad Allawi's "US-Iraq agreement needs work" from the Boston Globe) to make her point. What happens now in Iraq? The treaty now goes before Iraq's presidency council where the president or either of the country's two vice-presidents can veto it. To pass it requires all three give thumbs up. Only one need give a thumbs down to veto.

The referendrum was included in the vote today and the Los Angeles Times notes: "If voters rejected the agreement in the July 2009 referendum, Iraq's government would have to cancel SOFA or demand changes to it. The terms of the agreement allow either side to give the other a year's notice of cancellation, so if Iraq scrapped the pact, U.S. forces would have to leave the country in July 2010."

Today's violence?
Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad sticky bombing that resulted in the death of 1 police force member, a Baghdadroadside bombing that resulted in the death of an Iraqi soldier with three more wounded, another Baghdad roadside bombing that claimed 1 life and left sic more people wounded, a Mosul 'sucide' bombing that took the life of the bomber and left six police officers wounded, a Mosul car bombing that claimed the life of the driver and 2 civilians with 28 more people wounded.

Meanwhile in Germany a US soldier is seeking aslyum.
Andreas Buerger (Reuters) reports 31-year-old Iraq War veteran Andre Shepherd self-checked out of the military in 2007 and is now seeking sancturay in Germany where he held a press conference today and declared: "When I read and heard about people being ripped to shreds from machine guns or being blown to bits by the Hellfire missiles I began to feel ashamed about what I was doing. I could not in good conscience continue to serve. . . . Here in Germany it was established that everyone, even a soldier, must take responsibility for his or her actions, no matter how many superiors are giving orders."

In Iraq, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres wrapped up a thee day visit by visiting with Grand Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani:

Guterres, who was accompanied by Staffan de Mistura, the UN Secretary-General's special representative in Iraq, said UNHCR's operations for uprooted Iraqis had until now focused primarily on refugees in neighbouring states, mainly Syria and Jordan. He told Al-Sistani that the two nations deserved praise for their generosity to Iraqi refugees. UNHCR supports both nations' efforts to assist the Iraqi refugees.
With the improved security situation in Iraq, including in Najaf itself, UNHCR was now moving toward increasing its presence in the country and stepping up its activities on behalf of internally displaced people and returning refugees, the High Commissioner said. The agency is doubling its budget to US$81 million in 2009 and increasing the number of provincial offices from the current 10 to 14, covering the whole country.

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Thursday, November 27, 2008

Holidays should be happy!

Almost Thanksgiving! My time stamp on this post is EST but we're in California at C.I.'s so it's really not as late yet. We got out here before C.I., Ava and Kat made it back. They were in Florida yesterday and today, speaking. And they ended in Florida because of number four: Wally. Wally was with them and his mother and grandfather are in Florida so it made sense to end there.

The Third Estate Sunday Review's Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, and Ava,
Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man,
C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review,
Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills),
Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz,
Wally of The Daily Jot,

Are mentioned in this. Elaine is "we" as in "we got here . . ." :D

I'm so tired. So is Elaine but we're both knocking out some sort of a post.

C.I.'s going to be up most of the night cooking (and is cooking right now). They got here from the airport, C.I. greeted several guests who were staying over (like we are) and then showered quickly, mingled a bit and then started cooking. The rest of us have chilled. Not being lazy, but C.I. really does have this routine down pat. My only 'contribution' has been going to the music room and grabbing some CDs So we've been in here (kitchen) for about an hour now just talking and singing along.

Nouri al-Maliki is the prime minister of Iraq. Ayad Allawi used to be the p.m. This is from his "US-Iraq agreement needs work:"

The Status of Forces Agreement, however, requires further discussions and important amendments, as a significant number of Iraqi members of parliament have demanded.
These amendments and clarifications relate to such important issues as protection of Iraq's assets against claims. In addition, US forces, as vaguely stated in the agreement, may intervene in internal problems at the request of the government. Moreover, lumping together outlaws and the remnants of the Saddam regime indicates the persistence of revenge at the expense of reconciliation.
Iraqis believe that it is important for the United States to remain in Iraq under the current UN Security Council mandate for an additional period of time. This will give both sovereign countries time to discuss and approve a satisfactory Status of Forces Agreement in both the Iraqi parliament and the US Congress, similar to other agreements the United States has had - and Iraq may have - with other friendly nations.
As far as the Strategic Framework Agreement, we are ready to support its ratification.

Elaine says to note Ruth's "Press deliberately lying." I'm reading it right now. Ruth is hitting it out of the park tonight. So Allawi was Iraq's p.m. not all that long ago, a State Department and CIA asset. And now no one wants to hear from him? Like Ruth points out, the press is delberately lying. It really is attempting to manufacture consent.

And I just said, "After reading Ruth I don't know what else there is to say." C.I. came over and grabbed my laptop, logged onto her private e-mail and pulled up some stuff saying, "Use any of it you want."

So I will grab the press briefing Condi held today:

QUESTION: Thank you. Madame Secretary, can you --


QUESTION: Today, the Iraqi parliament has decided to delay the vote on the SOFA deal until tomorrow. And there is also a discussion now about a referendum that might take – that might happen which could crater the entire deal even if the parliament approves it. I’m wondering what you think of, first, the delay and also the possibility of a referendum.

And then if I might, also just wondering what your thoughts are on the Venezuelan election.

SECRETARY RICE: In terms of delay, it’s a democratic process and it is taking some time. But I expect that they’re going to continue to work on it and that they will – that it is in the COR and that it’s being discussed. And I don’t know precisely when they’ll take a vote, but I do know that Prime Minister Maliki and Speaker Mashhadani are committed to having a vote and having a vote very soon.

As to the referendum, it’s my understanding that such a referendum would, of course, be subject also to a new law to organize a referendum, but that in any case, it would not delay the going into force of the SOFA and the Strategic Forces – the Strategic Framework Agreement as of the 1st of the year.

QUESTION: So you have no concerns about the whole idea?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, look, I haven’t seen the language. I have not had – I talked to Ambassador Crocker, but of course, this is going on in Iraqi politics. But my understanding is that nothing here delays the entry into force of the agreement, and that’s really the important point.

[. . .]

QUESTION: I just want to go back to SOFA for a moment.


QUESTION: You’ve mentioned that you believe there will eventually be a vote, but are you aware of some of the issues that have come out in press reports and there have been source reports about bartering issues and possible secret language, and also the possibility that there are massive differences in interpretation and in translation?

SECRETARY RICE: We believe that these are conforming texts. I don’t speak Arabic, but one of the things that we do with the Iraqis is that we go line by line to conform the text and to make sure that there is common understanding of what is meant here. And of course, there are – first of all, there isn’t any secret language. Of course, there are issues that are opposed by some in the Iraqi political system and supported by others. It’s a democracy, and people are going to have their views and their says.

But I want to underscore a couple of things about the agreements. First, the SOFA and the Strategic Framework Agreement allow the United States to continue to be a partner for Iraq on the military side through the SOFA with a legal basis for our forces that allows us to help the Iraqis fully secure the gains that have been made, and does so with respect for Iraqi sovereignty. And that’s the reason that the SOFA has been negotiated in the way that it has.

The Strategic Framework Agreement is a broader document that talks about the broader relationship and the continuity over time of our efforts on the economic and social and cultural sides.

But what we should not lose sight of here is that this is an agreement with a major Arab state that is being publicly debated in a democratic environment in the center of the Middle East. And that is an enormous achievement. And when the vote takes place, as Prime Minister Maliki and others have intended it to, we will move forward.

Except for Condi blaming Iran, that's all her Iraq remarks from the press conference today.
And Elaine's saying she's got to go to bed so I'll go ahead and post.

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

Wednesday, November 26, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, the treaty vote is postponed, the US military announces more deaths, Alissa J. Rubin wins the Who Wants To Be The Next Judith Miller non-reality show, and more.

Starting with the treaty which was due to be voted on today by Iraq's Parliament.
Adam Ashton, Jonathan S. Landay and Nancy A. Youssef (McClatchy Newspapers) become the first of big media to report the reality that there are two versions of the treaty masquerading as a Status Forces Of Agreement: the US version and the Arabic version Iraqis peruse. The three reporters explain: "The Bush administration has adopted a much looser interpretation of several key provisions of the pending U.S.-Iraq security agreement than the Iraqi government has, U.S. officials said Tuesday -- just hours before the Iraqi parliament was to hold its historic vote. These provisions include a ban on the launch of attacks on other countries from Iraq, a requirement to notify the Iraqis in advance of U.S. military operations and the question of Iraqi legal jurisdiction over American troops and military contractors. Officials in Washington said the administration has withheld the official English translation of the agreement in an effort to suppress a public dispute with the Iraqis until after the Iraqi parliament votes."

The differing versions were noted in
the November 19th Congressional hearing. Why others can't report is a question they should have to answer on the record. They should also have to explain why they offered no skepticism (a trait reporters are never supposed to forget to pack) when this is totally expected. During the April 10th US Senate's Committee on Foreign Relations hearing the chair, Joe Biden, explained: "The Administration tells us it's not binding, but the Iraqi parliament is going to think it is." You didn't have to be pschyic, you just had to pay attention. Look at how Ghana Broadcasting Corporation reports on the treaty: "Iraq's parliament has agreed to put a controversial deal allowing US troops to stay in the country for another three years to a public vote." Even accepting that it's a three year treaty (when it's not) they see it as a three-year extension, not as a withdrawal. It takes a lot of stupid to see only what you want to see. Alissa J. Rubin and Campbell Robertson (New York Times) proved they're bag-men for the adminstartion but they aren't reporters. They did so in print this morning with nonsense about how the treaty "would be a road map for the complete withdrawal of American troops from Iraq in three years." One wonders what they packed for the Green Zone that was so all important it required ditching their skepticism? Online, Rubin showed up this morning to break the news that today's vote has been "delayed by at least 24 hours" and to lie that the treaty "would lead to the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq in three years." America, meet the new Judith Miller, Little Miss Alissa. Can't tell the truth and can't even remain detached. Alissa whose only concern isn't "What does the treaty say?" but instead, "What does the White House want me to say? Call Crocker! Ask Crocker what I should type!"

She can't read the US version of the treaty. She can't read Arabic and she can't apparently handle the English translation well enough to grasp what it says and what it doesn't. For example, what will or will not happen in 2011 is meaningless in any contract that truly runs for one year (this one runs for 2009) but allows it to be renewed if both parties desire to renew it (for 2010 and 2011) and it can also be modified for both of those years if renewed. So the only thing concrete is 2009. It's tough for glorified general studies majors when they slam into the basics of contract law but real reporters know that they don't just scribble down what the US Embassy tells them. They know that something beyond their education requires they utilize what journalism calls "sources" to walk them through. Alissa can't be bothered.

She doesn't know s**t about how the US Embassies are run throughout the world. What an idiot. Seriously. She's heading the paper's Baghdad division and she doesn't know about US Embassies? Can we say someone's a little too green and needs to be stationed somewhere else to ripen? Every US Embassy, EVERY ONE, has US troops stationed at it to provide protection. EVERY ONE. So, Alissa, how will there be a complete withdrawal of all US troops in 2011 when the US Embassy will remain in Baghdad? How? No, don't go run to Ryan Crocker. You're a reporter and an editor, you damn well should have already known the answer to the question.

CNN lied the nation into an illegal war back in 2002 and 2003 so it's not a big surprise
they continue to lie today and maintain that the treaty would "set a deadline for the withdrawal of U.S. troops". No, LIARS, it does not. A one-year extension for the occupation of Iraq was needed and that's what the treaty does. Every year, the United Nations Security Council has passed a one-year mandate which legalizes the presence of foreign troops in Iraq. This one expires December 31, 2008. It needs to be renewed or a new arrangement needed to be reached. That it what the treaty covers. And only the first year cannot be broken by either side. So stop lying, LIARS WHO LIED US INTO WAR.

It's a damn shame that so few in so-called independent media will call the treaty out. But remember that in 2011, file it away. Remember who lied in Big Media and remember who couldn't be bothered with the topic in Little Media. Remember that United for Peace & Justice & Uselessness couldn't even mount an objection.

Of organization, only the
American Freedom Campaign got active:Does this sound right to you? Next week, the Iraqi Parliament is expected to vote on whether to approve an agreement setting the terms of the ongoing military relationship between the United States and Iraq. So far, so good. A legislative body, representing the people of a nation, shall determine the extent to which that nation's future will be intertwined with that of another. Of course, one would expect that the United States Congress would be given the same opportunity. That, however, is not the case. Or at least it is not what the Bush administration is allowing to happen. Shockingly, the Bush administration is not even letting Congress read the full agreement before it is signed! We need you to send a message immediately to U.S. House and Senate leaders, urging them to demand the constitutional input and approval to which they are entitled. The administration has asserted that the agreement between the U.S. and Iraq is merely a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) and therefore does not require congressional approval. Yet the agreement goes far beyond the traditional limits of a SOFA, which typically set the terms for bringing materials and equipment into a nation and outline the legal procedures that will apply to members of the military who are accused of crimes. Believe it or not, the current agreement contains terms that will actually give Iraq a measure of control over U.S. forces. No foreign nation or international entity has ever been given the authority to direct U.S. forces without prior congressional approval - either through a majority vote of both chambers or a two-thirds vote in the Senate in the case of treaties. If this agreement goes into effect without congressional approval, it will establish a precedent under which future presidents can exercise broad unilateral control over the U.S. military -- and even give foreign nations control over our troops. Congress must take immediate action. Unfortunately, they are about to adjourn for at least a couple of weeks. But it is not too late for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to make a statement, signaling their strong belief that Congress will not be bound by and need not fund an agreement that has not been approved by Congress. Please send an E-mail encouraging such action to Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Reid immediately by clicking [here]This is truly a dire situation and we hope that you will join us in calling for action. Thank you. Steve Fox Campaign Director American Freedom Campaign Action Fund

And for the beggars of
Panhandle Media, let's be really clear that after the treaty is rammed through is TOO DAMN LATE to finally get around to raising objections.
What is known is that there are two versions and they differ. That was known last week and addressed in the Congressional hearing. Credit to Youssef, Landay and Ashton for reporting that now. The tell-Iraq-one-thing-but-do-another aspect was noted by Joe Biden, the incoming v.p., back in April. The UN mandate expires at the end of this year and another yearly agreement is needed to legalize US forces being on the ground in Iraq. A treaty is going through the process in Iraq but in the US the Congress will be circumvented. If the treaty does not go through a one-year extension of the mandate will be sought. The treaty covers only 2009. Every thing coming after 2009 is optional because it can be modified or either party (Iraq or US) can cancel out on the full treaty.

That is known. So the liars and the fools in the press corps who continue to insist that this one-year treaty means ALL US troops withdraw in 2011 have either been played or think they can play you. They got away with it when they 'reported' the lead up to the illegal war and they're getting away with it right now because they're not being called out. Where are those supposed 'brave' voices?

Norman Solomon, who allegedly gives a damn about Iraq, can write two fan club mash-notes to his wet dream Barack this week but can't write a damn thing about the treaty. Remember that. [Cedric and Wally have spoofed Norman's nonsense this week in "
Norman tells all!" & "THIS JUST IN! NORMAN SEES PEE-PEES EVERYWHERE!" and in "Norman discovers his girlish side" & "THIS JUST IN! NORMY LOVES BARACK!"]

The vote has been delayed. Allegedly it will take place tomorrow.
CBS News' Elizabeth Palmer observes "that the ruling Shiite and Kurdish parliamentary blocs have enough votes to approve the agreement, but the government wants it to win by a convincing margin -- in part because one of this country's most influential Shiite clerics, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, has said he can accept the agreement, provided it has broad public support." AP's Qassim Abdul-Zahra explains that the Kurdish and Shi'ite blocs have indicated their willingness "to hold a national referendum on the deal in 2009. That amounts to a concession to many Sunni Arab legislators, who have said they would support the security pact Wednesday if it was put to a nationwide vote next year." Raheem Salman and Tina Susman (Los Angeles Times) note demands by Sunni legislators and they observe: "The delay, coming after days of political bargaining and cajoling, underscored Prime Minister Nouri Maliki's concerns about passing the controversial Status of Forces Agreement without a wide margin. The legislature's main Shiite Muslim and Kurdish blocs support the deal, virtually ensuring it would win the 138 votes needed to pass the 275-seat parliament. But Shiite Muslim leaders want to ensure sufficient Sunni votes to guarantee its legitimacy in the eyes of Iraq's Sunnis." Jane Arraf (Christian Science Monitor) states, "Sunni Lawmakers also said that their new stipulations, formulated just Tuesday, semmed from discontent over growing Iranian influence across Iraq and a belief that a new administration in Washington may not honor the terms of the deal" and "In exchange for their support for the security agreement, a wide variety of Sunni, Kurdish, and even Shiite parliamentarians are insisting on a political reform package that would increase checks and balances on Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's Shiite-led government. For the Sunnis, fears of empowering Iraq's Shiite-dominated security forces underpins much of the opposition." On the referendum, Sudarsan Raghavan (Washington Post) adds, "But they have agreed to make the pact subject to a national referendum next year that could require a complete American troop withdrawal by July 2010 -- 18 months ahead of what the agreement now envisions. The referendum was a last-minute concession to Iraq's largest Sunni party, the Iraqi Islamic Party, which has long demanded that the agreement be put to a nationwide vote." "Political theater" Rainia Abouzeid (Time magazine) calls today's delay and notes the recent repeated delays in voting on the treaty and explains puppet Nouri al-Maliki "personally lobbied recalitrant parliamentarians at the nearby Rasheed Hotel" today "in exchanges that degenerated into fiery rows, according to a Maliki aide who was present."
What if the vote goes through tomorrow (or some day) and the referendum is attached?
Reuters quotes US Secretary of State Condi Rice declaring, "My understanding is that nothing here delays the entering into force of the agreement and that's really the important point." McClatchy's Adam Ashton agrees: "That's because the vote likely wouldn't take place until July, and the security agreement requires each side to give the other notice of at least one year before ending the pact." OH GOODNESS! The treaty can be modified or cancelled! Who would've guessed! (Yes, that point has been made in the snapshots repeatedly for too long to count. That is why it is a one-year treaty, not a three-year one. A one-year treaty is being signed which can be extended if both parties desire to do so.)

What some desire . . . Reports are that the current US Secretary of Defense -- pro-'surge' Robert Gates -- will remain Sec of Defense under incoming president Barack Obama. File it under "Slogans That Bit You In The Ass."
Stan and Rebecca covered this topic last night.

While Barack offers more of the same, UN High Commisoner for Refugees Antonio Gueterres is visiting Iraq and
declared today, "We are no expanding our presence inside Iraq. We will have a pressence in 14 governorates by early next year, including here in Ramadi." Gueterres arrived in Baghdad yesterday and his visit continues tomorrow. Sarah Chynoweth and Ada Williams Prince (Washington Post's PostGlobal) report on Iraqi refugees in Jordan and note, "Although life in Jordan is free of gunfire and explosions, it is not free from fear, particularly for Iraqi women and girls. If you are an Iraqi woman in Jordan, your life is filled with dread and uncertainty. Since Iraqis do not have legal status there, they are afraid of being caught by the authorities and deported back to Iraq--even though this does not occur very often. Because of this, many are afraid to come forward to receive health care, even if the services are available and accessible.
If you are a poor Iraqi woman in Jordan, your life is even more difficult. There are tremendous barriers to getting adequate health care: women with limited financial resources often have less knowledge of what medical services are available and how to access them." The Iraq War has created the world's largest refugee crisis and over five million Iraqis have been displaced internally and externally.
Total Catholic notes, "The flood of Iraqi refugees into Syria has produced big changes for the Church in the country. Caritas Syria, the local affiliate of the international umbrella group of Catholic aid agencies, has expanded its outreach. Today, it manages more than 2 million [British pounds] a year in projects targeting vulnerable Iraqi refugees, and it co-operates in ecumenical programs with the country's Orthodox community." Derek Gatopoulos (AP) notes that Human Rights Watch released a report today that. HRW explains, "Greece systematically rounds up and detains Iraqi asylum seekers and other migrants in dirty, overcroded conditions and forcibly and secretly expels them to Turkey" and offers:

An Iraqi Kurd from Kirkuk who was among the scores interviewed by Human Rights Watch, made five attempts to cross from Turkey to Greece and was beaten and summarily expelled from Greece. He was also beaten and detained by the Turkish authorities. After the Greek authorities finally registered him, they used detention to deter him from seeking asylum. "They told me that if I asked for asylum and a red card that I would need to spend more time in jail beyond 25 days, but if I didn't want asylum and a red card I could leave detention after 25 days. So, I refused the red card and after 25 days they released me. I got a white paper telling me I needed to leave the country in 30 days.
"I wanted to go to another country to seek asylum, but a friend told me that because they took my fingerprints, they would send me back to Athens. I have now been here a month without papers. Now I am in a hole. I can't go out. I can't stay. Every day, I think I made a mistake to leave my country. I want to go back, but how can I? I would be killed if I go back. But they treat you like a dog here. I have nothing. No rights. No friends."

The report is entitled "
Stuck in a Revolving Door: Iraqis and Other Asylum Seekers and Migrants at the Greece/Turkey Entrance to the European Union" and it notes:
Despite the widespread fear among Iraqis of being deported, relatively few are officially deported from Greece. In 2007 Greece deported 405 Iraqis out fo the 9,586 Iraqis who were "arrested to be deported." Since Greece has not been able regularly to deport Iraqis directly to Iraq, this presumably reflects deportations to transit countries, such as air arrivals from Jordan. Because there are now direct air connections between Athens and Erbil through Viking Airlines, a private Scandinavian company that runs charter flights, it appears that some direct deportations from Greece to Iraq have taken place. However, since this connection is not permanent and flights are often interrupted, Greece has mainly sought to deport Iraqis to Turkey on the understanding that Turkey would be more likely to accept Iraqis and (Iranians) than other nationalities under its readmission agreement with Greece because of the relatively cheap and easy option of deporting them by bus across its southeastern land border.

Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports four Baghdad roadside bombings which claimed 2 lives and left eighteen people injured.

Today the
US military announced: "One U.S. Marine and an U.S. Military Transition team Soldier were killed in a small-arms fire attack while conducting a humanitarian assistance operation near Biaj Nov. 25. Two Marines and three civilians were also wounded in the attack. While in the midst of the unit conducting the mission the unit came under fire by two men, one of whom appeared to be wearing an Iraqi uniform. The Iraqi Security and Coalition forces immediately cordoned off the area. 'The attack appears to have been unprovoked, said Col. Bill Bukner, spokesman for the Multi-National Corps - Iraq. 'It is unknown if the attacker was an Iraqi soldier or an insurgent in disguise.' The incident is under a joint investigation." The announcement brings to 4207 the number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war.

War resister
Robin Long was extradited in July. Last month Gerry Condon (Soldier Say No!) wrote an indepth piece on Long and the movement in Canada:

Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who argued fruitlessly five years ago that Canada should join George Bush's invasion of Iraq, was eager to deliver the first deportation of an Iraq War resister. The order to arrest Robin Long came from the top. It was Harper's insurance policy. If he couldn't deport Glass, he would deport Long.While the Canada Border Services Agency shuttled Robin Long from one prison to another, keeping him isolated from friends and supporters, a last-ditch attempt to stop his deportation was mounted by Vancouver lawyer, Shepherd Moss. A hearing was scheduled in Federal Court in Vancouver for Monday morning, July 14. But Robin Long's luck ran out when his case was assigned to Judge Anne McTavish, the author of damaging decisions against Jeremy Hinzman and Brandon Hughey, the first two GIs to seek refugee status in Canada.Canadian authorities had failed to inform Long of his pending deportation, thus denying him his right to appeal. But Judge McTavish refused to delay Long's deportation. The legal reasons for Corey Glass's were not yet published and could potentially apply to Long. Such was the rush to deport a war resister, however, that Judge McTavish was willing to risk having opposing court decisions on the same issue, within a one week period."Here, we've got a deserter for you."Robin Long was not allowed to attend his own hearing and he was not informed of its outcome. Instead, on the morning of Tuesday, July 15, Canadian immigration police drove him to Canada's border with the U.S. near Blaine, Washington, and loudly announced to their U.S. counterparts, "Here, we've got a deserter for you."Stephen Harper and the Bush Administration got what they wanted, international headlines trumpeting, "Canada Deports U.S. Deserter."The Canadian people learned about the deportation of Robin Long from sketchy media reports. The Canada Border Services Agency, citing "the Privacy Act," refused to give the media any details. How was the deportation carried out? Where did it occur? Who handed Robin Long over to whom? Where was Long held in Canada? Where was he being held in the U.S.?The Privacy Act, enacted to protect the privacy of individuals, was abused by the Conservative government in order to isolate Robin Long and keep Canadians in the dark. Why didn't the Conservative government want Canadians to know the details of this deportation? The word "deportation" connotes an unfortunate but orderly and lawful procedure. What Canadian and U.S. authorities did to Robin Long was more like a "rendition," an extralegal government-to-government kidnapping supposedly reserved for terror suspects. Canadians will be outraged when they hear the truth.
War Resister Assaulted and Threatened in Canadian JailsRobin Long was arrested unlawfully on false grounds and for political reasons. He was held incommunicado. Over a ten-day period, he was transferred to three different Canadian jails. In the Kamloops Regional Correctional Centre, Long was assaulted twice by a group of prisoners who objected to his dreadlock hairstyle. Although he is short and slight, Long was able to fight off his attackers once, and a guard halted the second assault. But Long decided to cut his hair.

That's the definitive piece on Long and thank you to a mutual friend who first called to ask, "Why are you ignoring Gerry?" and then steered me to that essay which I wasn't aware of. Gerry Condon ends his essay noting that you can write Robin care of
Courage To Resist and that "You can also contribute to Robin's brig account that he uses to pay for phone calls to friends and family." And for those wondering if Robin is due to be released before the holidays, Fort Carson Public Affairs Office's Karen Linne explained here August 22nd that he had been sentenced to 15 months and would be credited for "about 40 days" for the time he was held at the Criminal Justice Center in El Paso County prior to the court-martial.

Moving over to US politics,
Marie Cocco (Washington Post Writers Group) observed last week, "It is time to stop kidding ourselves. This wasn't a breakthrough year for American women in politics. It was a brutal one." With that in mind, we'll note John Ross' election observations via Counterpunch:
I don't buy Barack Obama as the Messiah. I didn't vote for him (I voted for another Afro-American) and I haven't filed an application to join his regime. He ran a duplicitous, multi-million dollar campaign that masqueraded as a social movement and because it was a gimmick and a shuck, will thwart and demoralize the re-creation of real social movement for years to come. The suckers packed shoulder to shoulder in Grant Park on Election Night were not a movement. 40 years ago, the Left stood in that park and were burning American flags, not waving them - although the reasons were equally specious. Back then, it was the denial of another false Messiah's rightful place on the Democratic Party ticket. We ran a pig for president to underscore our disdain for the electoral process and when Mayor Dailey's cops kidnapped and barbecued our candidate, we turned to yet another Afro-American who was also not the Messiah. In August 1968, the Mayor of Chicago, whose son is now Barack Obama's most trusted political advisor, sent in the real pigs to beat us into the Grant Park grass like so many baby harp seals. Now that was a social movement… Eduardo Galeano does not get it. When he tells Amy Goodman that he has high hopes for El Baracko because black slaves once built the White House for which the president-elect is now measuring the drapes, he does not consider that Obama himself is a slave, a slave to Wall Street and General Motors and Big Oil and Big Ethanol, a slave to the War Machine and U.S. Imperialism and Israel, a slave to We're Number One jingoism, avarice, and greed and the American Nightmare, a slave to the free market and free enterprise and free trade and the flimflam of corporate globalization, and most of all, a slave to the Democratic Party puppet masters who now move his strings. Galeano doesn't seem to recall that Afro-Americans can be mass murderers too. Condi is a killer and Barack's big booster Colin Powell once obligated the United National Security Council to cover up a reproduction of Picasso's "Gernika" before he could lie that contaminated body in the eye about Saddam's make-believe WMDs and jumpstart a war that has now taken a million Iraqi lives. So far. The bloodletting has hardly abated. We are in garbage time. The adulatory garbage being spewed about the virtues of Barrack Obama are a toxic trick on the peoples of the earth. One glaring recent example: 100,000 marched from sea to shining sea in the U.S. last weekend (Nov. 16th) in support of same sex marriage and no one had the moxie to even mention that Barack Obama does not support same sex marriage.

On the issue of equality,
Ruth, Kat and Marcia covered the Florida circuit judge overturning Anita Bryant's ban on gay adoption yesterday. Elaine noted US House Rep Rosa DeLauro's Congressional work on breast cancer and Mike covered the judge who yelled "tyrant." Independent journalist David Bacon covers immigration and Obama in a new article at The Nation:

So far, the choice of Janet Napolitano is not encouraging. The Tucson "Operation Streamline" court convenes in her home state every day, and the situation of immigrants in Arizona is worse than almost anywhere else. Napolitano herself has publicly supported most of the worst ideas of the Bush administration, including guest worker programs with no amnesty for the currently undocumented, and brutal enforcement schemes like E-Verify and workplace raids.But Obama does not have to be imprisoned by the failure of Napolitano to imagine a more progressive alternative. In fact, his new administration's need to respond to the economic crisis, and to strengthen the political coalition that won the election, can open new possibilities for a just and fair immigration policy.
Economic crisis does not have to pit working people against each other, or lead to the further demonization of immigrants. In fact, there is common ground between immigrants, communities of color, unions, churches, civil rights organizations, and working families. Legalization and immigrant rights can be tied to guaranteeing jobs for anyone who wants to work, and unions to raise wages and win better conditions for everyone in the workplace.

Bacon's latest book is
Illegal People -- How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants (Beacon Press).

jonathan s. landay
mcclatchy newspapersnancy a. youssefadam ashton
gerry condon
robin long
john ross
elizabeth palmerthe new york timescampbell robertsonalissa j. rubinthe los angeles timestina susmancbs news
the washington postsudarsan raghavan
marie cocco
david bacon

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Judge yells 'tyrant!' and tyrant collapses

otTuesday! Almost Thanksgiving! We leave tomorrow for California. Hope everyone has some sort of Thanksgiving plan and that you're only alone if you want to be and only around people if you want to be.

Okay, this is interesting. From Paul Bedard's "Pentagon Cancels Pricey Holiday Party Because of Recession:"

If you didn't know that the two-war Pentagon was operating on shoestring, here's the latest evidence. Adm. Michael Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has just canceled his annual Christmas party. The chief has just sent out cards announcing that he and his wife have decided to "forego their holiday reception this year" in light of the "trying financial times." The Mullens had been famous for welcoming friends and associates during back-to-back parties at their decked-out Foggy Bottom digs.

Good for Mike Mullen (and his wife) for having some perspective. As a Mike myself, I'm going to do some Mike news. All other names are on stand-by. :D

Though I sometimes think few know it, our Attorney General is named Mike. No, that's not a translation for Alberto Gonzales. I am amazed at how few people seem to grasp that Alberto is long gone. Our current Attorney General is Michael Mukasey who collapsed recently. Ken Armstrong's "State justice confirms he yelled 'Tyrant!' at Mukasey before AG collapsed" has some news there:

Richard Sanders, a justice on the Washington State Supreme Court, has never been one to shy from controversy or blunt language. And last week, as he sat at a Federalist Society dinner and listened to Attorney General Michael Mukasey, Sanders reached his tipping point.
After listening to Mukasey defend the Bush administration's counterterrorism policies — its detainment practices at Guantánamo Bay, its interpretation of the Geneva Conventions' reach — Sanders stood and shouted "Tyrant! You are a tyrant!"
"Frankly, everybody in the room was applauding or sometimes laughing, and I thought, 'I've got to stand up and say something.' And I did," Sanders told The Seattle Times Tuesday. "I stood up and said, 'Tyrant,' then I sat down again, then I left."

Here's the thing that ticks me off, he wishes he hadn't done it. You did it. Own it. I think it's the collapse that has him thinking, "Oh, I shouldn't have!" Of course he should have. It needed saying. He shouted and then he left. He didn't stay and heckle. Good for him for stating the truth. Bad for him for (I believe) feeling guilty.

Here's the statement the judge has released:

I want to set the record straight about a dinner I attended on November 20, in Washington, D.C., sponsored by the Federalist Society -- a conservative and libertarian legal group of which I am a member. Attorney General Michael Mukasey was the keynote speaker.
In his speech, Attorney General Mukasey justified the Bush administration's policies in the War on Terror, which included denying meaningful hearings for prisoners in Guantanamo, and other questionable tactics, all in the name of national security. Mr.Mukasey said those who criticize the Administration for abandoning provisions of the Geneva Conventions fail to recognize that

"… Al Qaeda [is] an international terrorist group, and not, the last time I checked, a signatory to the Conventions."
Although the United States is a signatory, and these Conventions prohibit torture, the audience laughed. Attorney General Mukasey received a standing ovation. I passionately disagree with these views: the government must never set aside the Constitution; domestic and international law forbids torture; and access to the writ of habeas corpusshould not be denied.
The program provided no opportunity for questions or response, and I felt compelled to speak out. I stood up, and said, "tyrant," and then left the meeting. No one else said anything. I believe we must speak our conscience in moments that demand it, even if we are but one voice.
I hope those who know my jurisprudence will agree that to truly love the Constitution is touphold it, to speak out for it, not just in times of peace and prosperity, but also in times of chaos and crisis.
I did not "heckle" Attorney General Mukasey, and I did not disrupt the meeting, as those who watch the video of his speech on the Federalist Society's website will discover. I left before Mr. Mukasey had his frightening collapse. I learned of his collapse later, from news reports. It should go without saying that, despite our vastly different views on what constitutes upholding the rule of law, I hope he continues to recover and remain in good health.

So judge for yourself. Happy Thanksgiving! Planning to blog tomorrow. Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Tuesday, November 25, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces another death, Iraq continues to rake in big bucks and basic services continue to be denied to Iraqis, Parliament's vote on the treaty may take place tomorrow, and more.

Starting with the treaty masquerading as a Status Of Forces Agreement. The
New York Times notes that there is some doubt as to whether a vote will be called in Parliament Wednesday on the treaty. Last week, it was stated the treaty would come to a voate in the Parliament on Monday. By Saturday, the date had changed to Wednesday at the earliest. Now some are questioning whether it will come to a vote by then. Iran's Press TV reports that a boycott is threatened by the Iraqi Accord Front and quotes Abdelkareem al-Samarraie (of the IAF) stating, "The IAF would not enter the parliament if there was no popular referendum over the agreement or assurances from the US side." In an apparent reaction to that, the puppet is insisting upon action. Caroline Alexander (Bloomberg News) reports Nouri al-Maliki and Iraq's President Jalal Talbani have launced a high-pressure effort to force Iraqi MPs to vote on the treaty tomorrow. Should the treaty be voted on tomorrow and find 'support' in Parliament, it would next go to the presidency council made up of Talabani and his two vice presidents. Press TV notes that the Tareq al-Hashemi, the Sunni v.p., has "also called on the country's politicians not to make any 'hasty' decision on the agreement". Press TV also reports MP Hussein al-Faluji has declared that the treaty should include an obligation on the part of the US "to pay compensation for its 2003 invasion of the country." 'Support' in a vote is still in question because while the US and al-Maliki insist a simple majority vote is all that is needed, leaders and documents (including the country's Constitution) maintain that a two-thirds vote would be needed for the Parliament to pass the treaty. Pepe Escobar (Asia Times) cites press reports which estimate that opponents of the treaty now have 106 votes but require 138 and that "Maliki's government is heavily betting on the pact being approved by a simple majority. There's fierce dispute also on this point - according to the Iraqi constitution, it should be a two-thirds majority (not unexpectedly, the Bush administration has already declared it will violate Article II, Section 2 of the US constitution, claiming that no Senate approval of the pact is necessary. An emasculated US Congress has responded with thunderous silence)."

In terms of US silence, look to the incoming presidential ticket. In terms of Congress, many members of the House have been vocal. Today US House Rep
Joe Sestak contributes "Acute flaw in Iraq deal over forces" (Philadelphia Inquirer):

On Nov. 16, the Iraqi cabinet approved a U.S.-Iraqi status-of-forces agreement. This week, as the Iraqi parliament considers it for final approval, I am once again voicing my grave concerns about the agreement. This is probably the last chance I and other lawmakers will get to voice our objections. President Bush has chosen to craft the document as an executive agreement instead of a treaty, which means it will not require congressional ratification. I have always believed that the war in Iraq is a tragic misadventure that has siphoned off vital military capability from Afghanistan - especially our ability to patrol the border with Pakistan, where al-Qaeda's leadership has found a long-standing haven. That said, from my 31-year military background, I also understand the need for a deliberate withdrawal from Iraq that does not put our troops in unnecessary danger. Our continued presence in the region will therefore be necessary for a limited period of time. And due to the imminent expiration of the U.N. mandate that permits U.S. troops to remain in Iraq legally, we must have a new legal agreement to remain after Dec. 31. However, this status-of-forces agreement is simply not the best means of achieving that. Americans should be very concerned that, in an attempt to highlight Iraqi autonomy and the increasing bilateral ties between our countries, President Bush has put our uniformed men and women in legal peril. The final version of the agreement will permit the Iraqi courts to exercise jurisdiction over American soldiers under limited circumstances. What those circumstances are remains unclear, as do the crimes for which they may be prosecuted.
Back in July, US House Reps Bill Delahunt and Rosa DeLauro co-authored "
The Wrong Partnership for Iraq" (Washington Post). Last week, DeLauro issued this statement:

"Our brave men and women in uniform have performed brilliantly and after more than five -and-a-half years of war I am pleased to see the Bush Administration finally acknowledge that it is in our national interest to set a timeline to responsibly redeploy our forces out of Iraq. Many questions remain, however, over an agreement that I believe must be approved by Congress in order to have the force of law. Yet, the administration, which has utterly failed to consult with Congress on this issue, has no intention of submitting the accord for approval.""The Iraqi Parliament is beginning a robust debate over the agreement, literally breaking out into a physical confrontation earlier today. According to the Iraqi Constitution, a 2/3 majority vote is still needed to both pass a law regulating the ratification of international agreements in general and to approve the U.S-Iraq security agreement itself." "While I applaud efforts in Iraq to uphold the country's new constitution, I am deeply troubled by the Bush Administration's disregard for ours. I have heard from scholars, legal experts and others on this matter and believe there is no precedent for an agreement such as this that authorizes offensive U.S. combat operations without congressional approval." "It is highly unlikely that the agreement will be approved by the Iraqi Parliament before it recesses in less than a week and by the U.S. Congress before the U.N. Mandate expires on December 31. I strongly urge the administration to once again work with the Iraqi Government and the UN Security Council on a brief extension of the UN Mandate, the sole instrument providing our troops with the legal authority to fight in Iraq, while giving both legislative bodies the necessary time to carefully review, deliberate over and vote on the accord. An agreement of this magnitude for the future of both countries deserves that much."

DeLauro issued that statement the same day
Delahunt chaired a Congressional hearing on the issue last week. In the case of the hearing, it wasn't Congress members that were silent, it was the press. The only major daily newspaper coverage of the hearing was Jenny Paul's "US-Iraq security pact may be in violation, Congress is told" (Boston Globe) and no evening network newscast covered it. And NPR didn't cover it nor did Pacifica Radio, not even its fabled "Free Speech" Radio News program. No special broadcast of the hearings live, not a damn thing from Pacifica which wasted more money than they had to waste on their hideous election coverage and are now so in the red they're at risk of losing stations. (That's not a cry for donations, they've so mismanaged listeners pledges that they really don't deserve any more.) (Not to mention abusing the public's trust and LYING on air repeatedly by refusing to identify on air 'independent critics' who had endorsed the candidate they came on to 'analyze.') So Congress, at least the House, really isn't the problem. The problem is the press: All Things Media Big and Small. Congress has not been silent. US House Rep Barbara Lee issued the following statement last week:

"Although a final version of the agreement reached by the Administration and the Government of Iraq has yet to be publicly announced and made available, reports of the content along with leaked copies of the agreement lead to the conclusion that this agreement will be unacceptable to the American people in its current form and should be rejected. "For starters, the Bush agreement commits the United States to a timetable that could leave U.S. troops in Iraq until Dec. 31, 2011. Aside from the fact that the America people are plainly fed up with this unnecessary war and occupation in Iraq and want to see it ended, occupying Iraq for three more years under the Bush plan would cost American taxpayers $360 billion based on current spending levels. That money obviously could be better spent digging our economy out of the ditch the policies of the Bush Administration has put it in. "Second, the Bush agreement undermines the constitutional powers of the next president by subjecting American military operations to 'the approval of the Iraqi government,' by giving operational control to 'joint mobile operations command centers' controlled by a joint American-Iraqi committee. Throughout history, American troops have been placed under foreign control in peacekeeping operations only where authorized under treaties ratified by the Senate. No American president has ever before claimed the unilateral power to cede command of American troops to a foreign power. "When Congress next convenes this week, it should consider and pass H.R. 6846, which I have introduced in the House and Senator Biden has introduced in the Senate, which will prohibit the unilateral deployment of U.S. armed forces or the expenditure of public funds to guarantee the security of Iraq without prior approval of Congress."

The US is pushing hard for the vote to take place tomorrow. This morning on Air Force One, White House spokesperson Dana Perino told the press that US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker was in contact (pressuring) with Iraqi MPs and she stated of the treaty, "We're hopeful. They've had a lot of debate in their country. And I think that if you look at the violence that took place there yesterday that was indiscriminate and killed many people, that it reminds us that the Iraqis have come a long way, but they're not quite there yet to be able to take care of all their security needs on their own. And they need -- they continue to need our support. That's what Prime Minister Maliki has said, their Defense Ministry, amongst others. But they'll have their debate. And this si the process that we knew was going to take a while. But we remain hopeful that the council of representatves will pass it out tomorrow."
Alissa J. Rubin and Campbell Robertson (International Herald Tribune) report, "Intensive last-minute negotiations were under way Tuesday to corral votes in the Iraqi Parliament" -- see, Crocker's very, very busy. Deborah Haynes and Wail al-Haforth (Times of London) report that the Iraqi Accord Front has stated "it will only give the nod if the public is allowed to vote on the deal in a referendum next year." Haynes also reports on the various reactions in Baghdad to the allegedly impending vote including this: "Ibti Sam al-Hafaji, an assistant hairdresser and beauticiain dressed in a white overall, plans to switch a small television set in the salon on to watch the Parliamentary vote on Wednesday. 'I am excited. All of us are waiting for the result'." Tina Susman and Saif Hameed (Los Angeles Times) explain, "Sunni lawmakers today listed a host of demands, ranging from sweeping political reforms to amnesty for prisoners, in exchange for supporting a pact to keep U.S. forces in Iraq through 2011, dimming Iraqi leaders' hopes for a smooth victory when parliament votes on the measure."

And the puppet is sweating bullets as he attempts to finally deliver to the White House anything of the things they've announced they must have.
Pepe Escobar also notes that "a frantic Maliki keeps threatening that in case of defeat, "extending the presence of the international forces on Iraqi soil will not be our alternative". Maliki goes for the jugular; if the pact is not approved, US forces will be constrained to an "immediate withdrawal from Iraq". Not surprisingly, the US State Department is on the same wavelength. Plus, of course, the Pentagon -- which in a surreal twist has been threatening to evacuate 150,000 troops from Iraq in a flash in case the pact is knocked out; this when the Pentagon had been insisting non-stop that withdrawing within president-elect Barack Obama-proposed 16 months is unrealistic." Yes, but we all learned in 2008 that troops can leave very quickly and, in fact, that if Barack wanted to end the illegal war, he could withdraw all 150,000 US troops before his first 100 days were completed. AP's Hamza Hendawi and Qassim Abdul-Zahra note that, for all of his bluster, "it is improbable that al-Maliki would abandon the idea of a renewal of the UN madate and push out the Americans, given his worries about security." He doesn't have the guts and he doesn't have the power. If the treaty isn't passed by the Parliament or if it isn't passed by the presidency council, al-Maliki will be begging for a UN mandate renewal in full -- and not just the partial aspect he's going to ask for to prevent Iraqi assets from being seized by creditors. Jane Arraf (Christian Science Monitor) reports that the vote is being seen as a referendrum on al-Maliki, that the puppet is seen as "autocratic" and quotes an unnamed "senior Iraqi official" stating, "He doesn't realize that a coalition put him in power."

American Freedom Campaign offers an option for you to be heard by the US Congress:Does this sound right to you? Next week, the Iraqi Parliament is expected to vote on whether to approve an agreement setting the terms of the ongoing military relationship between the United States and Iraq. So far, so good. A legislative body, representing the people of a nation, shall determine the extent to which that nation's future will be intertwined with that of another. Of course, one would expect that the United States Congress would be given the same opportunity. That, however, is not the case. Or at least it is not what the Bush administration is allowing to happen. Shockingly, the Bush administration is not even letting Congress read the full agreement before it is signed! We need you to send a message immediately to U.S. House and Senate leaders, urging them to demand the constitutional input and approval to which they are entitled. The administration has asserted that the agreement between the U.S. and Iraq is merely a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) and therefore does not require congressional approval. Yet the agreement goes far beyond the traditional limits of a SOFA, which typically set the terms for bringing materials and equipment into a nation and outline the legal procedures that will apply to members of the military who are accused of crimes. Believe it or not, the current agreement contains terms that will actually give Iraq a measure of control over U.S. forces. No foreign nation or international entity has ever been given the authority to direct U.S. forces without prior congressional approval - either through a majority vote of both chambers or a two-thirds vote in the Senate in the case of treaties. If this agreement goes into effect without congressional approval, it will establish a precedent under which future presidents can exercise broad unilateral control over the U.S. military -- and even give foreign nations control over our troops. Congress must take immediate action. Unfortunately, they are about to adjourn for at least a couple of weeks. But it is not too late for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to make a statement, signaling their strong belief that Congress will not be bound by and need not fund an agreement that has not been approved by Congress. Please send an E-mail encouraging such action to Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Reid immediately by clicking [here] This is truly a dire situation and we hope that you will join us in calling for action. Thank you. Steve Fox Campaign Director American Freedom Campaign Action Fund

Turning to economics,
UPI reports that that October was a turnaround for Iraqi oil following the "four-month decline" as Iraq upped exports "by more than 7 percent from Sepember through October" and while oil sales brought Iraq $41 billion in 2007, in 2008 so far, they've already taken in $58.6 billion. This while Reuters reports that "Iraq has approved a $144 million contract with Argentina's Tenaris Oil Filed Service, the world's largest maker of seamless steel pipes for the energy inudstry". Yesterday Edward Gismatullin (Bloomberg News) reported that Royal Dutch "Sehll may bid for Iraqi fields in the first half of 2009". The desire for new contracts (read: Greed) comes as Shell's older contract is in the news. Ahmed Rasheed (Reuters) notes that Iraq's Parliament today publicly objected to a flare gas contract awarded to Shell earlier this year and Rasheed quotes a portion of the statement: "Shell will be the sole company entitled to deal or process gas in southern Iraq. We call this a monopoly on Iraqi gas . . . Shell will seize everything." Despite all the money coming in, Daniel Williams (Bloomberg News) reports that the Sadr City section of Baghdad is still plagued by "lakes of sewage overflow trenches or bubble up from broken underground pipes" and also notes "electricity is still spotty, drinking water is scarce and health care is limited".

Let's stay with money for a bit more.
Bobby Ghosh (Time magazine) examines who pays Saif Abdallah who was bragging to him in 2006 that he had "helped kill dozens, possibly hundreds of American soldiers" and Ghosh quotes Abdallah stating then, "Anybody who wants to kill American soldiers, if they pay me, I work for them." And now the US tax payers fork over to Abdallah because he's an "Awakening" Council member. As a little over half of the "Awakening" members have been turned over to Baghdad's control, Ghosh explores what might happen to the thugs placed on the payroll by the US military command:

Many Iraqis believe the al-Maliki government will string the SOI along while U.S. troops remain in the country. When the Americans have left, there will be a reckoning -- and it could well be bloody.
After a great deal of pressure from the U.S. military, the Iraqi government this month finally took charge of paying the salaries for the 54,000 SOI in the Baghdad area. (Abdallah's group remains on the U.S. payroll.) In early November, 3,000 SOI were inducted into the police training academy. Al-Ameri says 15,000 to 20,000 SOI will be inducted into Iraqi security forces, but only after further verification. The rest will have to give up their arms and take up other jobs -- as carpenters, plumbers, electricians and so on. "We'll give them training if necessary," he adds. (
See pictures of Iraq's revival.)

From thugs to arms. Over the weekend,
Ernesto Londono (Washington Post) reported that, without the knowledge of the central government in Baghdad or the US, the Kurdistan region of Iraq had "three planeloads of small arms and ammunition imported from Bulgaria which has "alarmed U.S. officials who have grown concerned about the prospect of an armed confrontation between Iraqi Kurds and the government at a time when the Kurds are attempting to expand their control over parts of northern Iraq." Today the Post quotes al-Maliki spokesperson Ali al-Dabbagh stating, I don't deny there is some tension between the KRG and the federal government due to many issues. It won't reach to a level of conflict." Press TV quotes the KRG's official response: "The Kurdistan Regional Government continues to be on the forefront of the war on terrorism in Iraq. With that continued threat, nothing in the constitution prevents the KRG from obtaining defense materials for its regional defense." Meanwhile Eric Watkins (Oil & Gas Journal) explains
that the August 2007 production-sharing contracts the Kurdish government signed with various corporations continue to be ruled "illegal".

Moving to some of today's reported violence . . .

Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing wounded two people and a Nineveh bombing wounded two people.


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 1 child wounded in a Mosul shooting.


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 1 corpse discovered in Baghdad. Reuters notes 2 corpses discovered in the Tigris River, near Suwayra.

Today the
US military announced: "TIKRIT, Iraq – A Multi-National Division – North Soldier died from a non-battle related cause in Diyala province Nov. 24. The name of the deceased is being withheld pending notification of next of kin and release by the Department of Defense." The announcement brings to 4205 the total number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war."

In news of Iraq's refugee crisis,
UNHCR spokesperson William Spindler announced today:

High Commissioner António Guterres arrives in Baghdad today for a 3-day visit that will include meetings with top government officials and a review of UNHCR's work with our national and international staff in the country.
The Iraq mission is the third by Guterres in 18 months and will include field visits aimed at getting a better perspective on programmes for internally displaced Iraqis as well as prospects for the possible eventual return of refugees.
There are more than 2 million IDPs and close to 2 million Iraqi refugees outside the country, according to figures provided by host governments.

*** Non-Iraq related,
Kimberly Wilder (On The Wilder Side) notes an upcoming event. And if you're not familiar with Marcelo Lucero's murder, you can see Third's "Marcelo murdered by thugs, ignored by 'leaders'". ****

Greens in Suffolk work to stop the hate and to honor the life of Marcelo LuceroThe Green Party of Suffolk offers its condolences to the family of Marcelo Lucero, and hopes for an awakening and healing on Long Island after the hate crime that led to his death.The Green Party is a different kind of political party. The Green Party was created from, and works together with, larger movements for social justice, such as the environmental movement and the civil rights movement. In Suffolk County, members of the Green Party have struggled with ways to address the murder of Marcelo Lucero through their personal efforts, movement efforts, and electoral efforts.The Green Party sees the election process as a powerful way to address grievances with our government and to force change. Because of this, when local Greens were concerned with the direction of the County Executive during his last campaign, and concerned that he was cross-endorsed by both major parties, the Green Party set out to offer an alternative on the ballot. The Green Party campaign for County Executive in 2007 focused on tolerance and respect for immigrants. Unfortunately, due to the collaboration between the major parties, the fact that the major parties in Albany write the ballot laws, and the fact that the major parties control the Board of Elections, our candidate was not allowed on the ballot. Still, the Green Party continued with a write-in campaign. The Green Party candidate for County Executive was able to speak to local groups about the need to create fair immigration policies, and the need to stop discriminatory laws being proposed in the Suffolk County Legislature. We were able to hold meetings and create press releases suggesting more positive directions for government action in regards to the treatment of immigrants. And, voters had the option to protest government actions by writing in a worthy candidate who expressed their views.As a movement, the Green Party is part of an international movement focused on its four pillars: Social and economic justice; Grassroots Democracy; Ecological Wisdom; and Non-violence. There are partisan and non-partisan networks, list-serves and clubs where Green Party members share action alerts, information, and proposals for public policy.Personally, many local greens have addressed the issue of racism in the community and in their own lives. Green Party members have attended community meetings, vigils, and rallies to speak out against racism and against the murder of Marcelo Lucero based on discrimination against Hispanic people. The Green Party has offered people of all races workshops in dismantling racism and in understanding how white privilege affects all of us. The Babylon Green Party will host a presentation on "The Necessity of Immigrants to the LI Economy" with speaker Kirby Einhorn of LI Wins, on January 7, 2009 at 7pm at the Pisces Café in Babylon. The Green Party of Suffolk is interested in gathering together people interested in working on issues of social justice through a personal, movement, and/or electoral strategy. And, we are especially interested in people who may want to be candidates or campaign staff for upcoming races against politicians who are not making fair and equal public policy. The local Green Party can be contacted at (631) 351-5763 or go to: Background: Green Party of Suffolk:

More information on the Babylon Green Party Gathering:The January 7, 2009 Babylon Green Party Gathering will feature Kirby Einhorn of LI Wins on the necessity of immigrants to the LI economy.The event will be held at Pisces Café, 14A Railroad Avenue, Babylon, NY (631-321-1231) Come hungry! For directions to the Babylon Green Gathering, call 631-422-4702 or email Children are welcome. All gatherings are free of charge, and open to the public.

the new york times
pepe escobar
jenny paulthe boston globe
bill delahunt
rosa delaurojoe sestak
alissa j. rubinthe new york times
katherine zoepf
campbell robertson
deborah haynes
the washington posternesto londono
the los angeles timestina susman