Friday, October 17, 2008
My father nothing short of ROCKED Wednesday night's debate and I have never been more proud. He got up and showed this country why he is the right person to lead it into the future, and open the door to the reinvention of the Republican Party. I am always proud of my Dad but even more so when he lets his maverick tendencies show so clearly. Eighteen more days to go and this election is nowhere near over!!!
That is in the snapshot and I need to note it at the top. As I've disclosed before, I know and like Cindy McCain. Meghan is Cindy's daughter and it's only right that she be noted. C.I. really went back and forth a few weeks ago on noting Cindy's comment about the nasty campaign. It wasn't an issue of disagreeing with Cindy, it was an issue of, "If I note her, someone's going to insist that Michelle be noted in fairness." So in the end, C.I. skipped it. But with Meghan, there was no way to skip it. Cindy is very proud of all four of her children (as she should be, they are great kids) and if one of them (any one of them) is going to comment on the campaigns, they need to be noted. If you don't grasp it, consider it a mother thing.
It's one thing to go back and forth, as C.I. did, in terms of Cindy. It was an issue of "I know her, I like her. Am I going to give her special treatment as a result?" With children, it's a different issue. (C.I. avoids one journalist in particular -- never to be mentioned at The Common Ills -- as a result of his parents asking that he be not noted. C.I.'s known his parents for years. The child is trainwreck, though no one's noticed that yet. But there is a different standard for kids and it is rude not to note them. Again, if you don't grasp it's a mother thing. I grasp it and feel the same way so I'm opening with Meghan's comments.)
By the way, as I've already noted, I also think McCain won the debate Wednesday night.
"Nader brings his message to the Valley" (Mid-Hudson News):
Fresh off a downtown Manhattan protest of major financial institutions, Ralph Nader lambasted both presidential candidates along with Wall Street which he says has "defiled and disgraced" the American flag. Nader said the protesters "asked the New York Stock Exchange to take down the American flag, which is on the whole side of the building."
Speaking at the New Paltz Friends Meeting House, he advocated a "stock transaction tax," which he said could raise $500 billion annually.
"Imagine that every year rolling into public works, rolling into reducing taxes on working families, rolling into health care," he said. "It's amazing how liberals and progressives have dropped the ball on this."
It really is and it's amazing how Ralph could've brought that message to the people before the bail-out if only he'd been invited on the national news then. But he was shut out. I think we're learning a great deal -- if we're paying attention -- about how the press tries to decide our elections. They got the tingles over Barack and he's the one they want in the White House. There is no objectivity or even a pretense of one from the press. It's really been shameful.
"I am THIS close to registering Republican" (Joseph Cannon, Cannonfire):
My god, what has Barack Obama done to the Democratic party? I used to say that all Obots are monsters. Perhaps I the time has come to say that all DEMOCRATS are monsters.What other conclusion should I reach, when every day I wake up to see my comments filled with hate messages accusing me of being a racist and a fascist, simply because I will not vote for a Democratic candidate who stole the nomination?The Dems are now guilty of every sin they have ever ascribed to the Republicans. The Dems bleat about a mythical call to violence at a Palin rally, yet they themselves are guilty of both verbal and physical violence -- as in this instance when Democrat fanatics assault a woman who won't vote as they wish. From the complaint filed in the criminal court of NYC:
"Defendant grabbed the sign [informant] was holding, broke the wood stick that was attached to it, and then struck informant in informant’s face thereby causing informant to sustain redness, swelling, and bruising to informant's face and further causing informant to sustain substantial pain."
The overly formal document doesn’t mention this important detail: the victim was a small, quiet, middle-aged woman wearing glasses, and the attacker was a loud, angry man who went into orbit at the mere sight of McCain campaign signs.On a Monday afternoon, September 15, 2008, three McCain volunteers were holding campaign signs and distributing leaflets on a busy corner of 51st Street and Lexington Avenue. As they were peacefully talking to each other, they were approached by a man who, in the words of the victim, provided the impression of "a rather benign, doughy-looking guy — not a person I would have expected to assault me."
There is more including photos. As Cannon points out, this didn't 'just happen.' It has been actively encouraged. He cites Dean and Barack as culpable as well as Keith Olbermann but I would include the entire press. They have fed this b.s. that to be for McCain is to be evil personified. Fools like Margret Prescod and Matthew Rothschild have really increased the hate. They keep whining about the McCain supporters but it has always been the Cult of Obama that's been out of control.
As one of the people sewing the hate, Matthew Rothschild will, of course, ignore the assault. But he has time to feature "'Something very drastic has happened to the very idea of America,' says the movie star." Movie star? John Cusak. Who has starred in more flops than any actor outside of Steve Guttenberg. He also happens to be a lousy actor. Lloyd in Say Anything was decades ago. He's done the same performance ever since. But cheer on Barack and you're suddenly a "movie star" -- even without the grosses to back it up.
Physical assaults on women by Barack supporters. It didn't just happen. You had Keith and Barack egging it on. You had the surrogates egging it on. You had the press egging it on. The country is off balance and it's only going to become more so until people start getting honest.
What happened above is the new America unless people start standing up. The same do-nothing idiots who couldn't take to the streets to end the illegal war will attack a woman because she's campaigning for McCain. America better start getting honest because, otherwise, it's going to get a lot worse.
"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Friday, October 17, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, talk of the treaty between the White House and the puppet government continues, the UNHCR notes the Mosul crisis and more.
Starting with the treaty attempting to masquerade as a Status Of Forces Agreement. Karen DeYoung (Washington Post) reminds that what's being talked about now is a draft and explains the process for Iraq: "presented today to Iraq's political and national security council, which is made up of top government officials and the leaders of major political groups. If it survives challenges there and among other government ministers, it will move to the Council of Representatives, or parliament, where Maliki has pledged to put it to an up-or-down vote. Far less controversial matters have taken months to move through the Iraqi legislative provess, if they moved at all." BBC's Jim Muir reports: "Rejection of any agreement with the Americans is spearheaded by the group led by the militant Shia cleric Moqtada Sadr, who has strong grassroots support and also 30 seats in parliament. The Sadrists have called for a mass demonstration in Baghdad on Saturday to denounce the accord. At least one other big Shia faction is believed to have reservations about the agreement, and some Sunnis have also voiced dissent." Also noting the anticipated Shi'ite split is the Minneapolis Star Tribune which adds, "Although passage would require only a majority of the 275-member parliament, Al-Maliki will submit the draft only if he is convinced it will receive two-thirds support. To reach two-thirds, the draft would need the 30 votes from the Supreme Council." US Senator Carl Levin has issued the following statement:
"I have not yet seen the proposed Strategic Framework Agreement nor the Status of Forces Agreement between the United States and Iraq. The Administration committed to provide the text of these agreements to Congress before they are finalized, and I look forward to reviewing the text. I am skeptical of any agreement that would subject U.S. servicemen and women to the jurisdiction of Iraqi courts in the middle of a chaotic war and in the absence of a judicial system that has been proven to be fair and protective of the rights of individuals."
Germany's DPA reports an increase in opposition to the treaty today "among Iraqi religious leaders," quoted Imam Sadr Eddin al-Qabani telling a large gatherin in Najaf ("crowd of hundreds"), "The Shiite clergy is very worried about this security agreement with the USA" and noted the protest by Moqtada al-Sadr supporters scheduled for tomorrow in Baghdad has already resulted in many people beginning "to arrive in Baghdad to participate in the demonstration". Mohammad Akef Jamal (Gulf News) explores the treaty's meaning beyond the US and Iraq:
The US has extended its influence throughout the world with treaties and agreements, thereby securing its status as a major military and political power. And irrespective of the wording of the treaties or accords, the US has categorised its partners into two groups -- friends, ans subordinates.
Basically, treaties and accords are partnership contracts signed between two countries or more, to mutually safeguard the interests and security of all the parties to the agreement.
In most treaties, there is one powerful partner. There is also provisions for such agreements to include financial, scientific and cultural aid, which is usually availed by the weaker partner in the pact.
The security treaty between the US and Iraq has become a popular political topic for discussion in Iraq and the Middle East, as its signing is round the corner.
Dr. Mohammad Akef Jamal goes on to explore the region and notes Iran's opposition to the treaty. We'll come back to that later in the snapshot. As noted in yesterday's snapshot, Congress is not in session. In fact, let's quote White House spokesperson Dana Perino on that: "So Congress isn't even going to be back here until about November 17th." That's the situation that worried many included Senator Jim Webb who introduced legislation September 12, 2008 about this very possibility. Speaking on the floor (link has text and video) of the US Senate, Webb explained:
We are at an odd situation in the business of government at the moment in that the international authority for the United States to be operating in Iraq will expire at the end of this year. The UN Mandate through the UN Security Council will expire at that time.
Since last November, the Administration has been negotiating what they call a "strategic framework agreement," that is intended to replace the international authority of the UN Mandate. There have been two questions that have come up with respect to what the Administration is doing. The first is the timeline. The Iraqi government negotiators have some serious questions that weren't anticipated before. But the larger question, really, is what entity of the federal government has the authority to enter the United States into a long-term relationship with another government?
These are serious issues. I would submit that the conditions under which we will continue to operate in Iraq -- military, diplomatically, economically, and even culturally -- are not the sole business of any adminsitration. We have questions about the legal justifications under domestic and international law for the United States to operate militarily and quasi-militarily, by the way, given the hundreds of thousands of independent contractors that now are performing essentially military functions in that country.
There are questions about the process by which the United States government decides upon and enters into long-term relationships with another nation -- any nation. And in that regard we have serious questions here about the very workings of our constitutional system of government.
This Administration has claimed repeatedly since last November that it has the right to negotiate and enter into an agreement that will set the future course of our relations with Iraq without the agreement or even the ratification of the United States Congress. The Administration claims that the justification for this authority is the 2002 congressional authorization for the use of force in Iraq and as a fallback position, the President's inherent authority from the perspective of this Administration as Commander in Chief.
Both of these justifications are patnetly wrong. The 2002 congressional authorization to use force in Iraq has nothing to do with negotiation with a government that replaced the Saddam Hussein government as to the future relations -- culturally, economically, diplomatically, and militarily -- between our two countries.
On the other hand, we are now faced with the reality that the United Nations mandate will expire at the end of this year and that expiration will terminate the authority under international law for the United States to be operating in Iraq at a time when we have hundreds of thousands of Americans on the ground in that country. And I and other colleagues have been warning of this serious disconnect for ten months.
Many of us were trying to say last November that the intention of this Administration was to proceed purely with an executive agreement, to drag this out until the Congress was going to go out of session, as we are about to do; then to present essentially a fait accompli in the sense that with the expiration of the international mandate from the UN at the end of the year, something would have to be done and that something would be an executive agreement that to this point the United States Congress has not even been allowed to examine. We haven't been able to see one word of this agreement.
We've tried to energize the congress about this. We've met with all the appropriate administration officials. There have been hearings. There have been assurances from the administration that they will "consult" at the appropriate time. But we haven't seen anything. So we're faced with a situation that is something of a constitutional coup d'etat by this Adminstration. At risk is a further expansion of the powers of the presidency, the results of this is to affirm in many minds that the president -- any president -- no longer needs approval of congress to enter into long-term relations with another country.
In effect, that is committing us to obligations that involve our national security, our economic well-being, our diplomatic posture around the world, without the direct involvement of the United States Congress. This is not what the Constitution intended. It's not in the best interests of the country.
This amendment which I introduce today is designed to prevent this sort of an imbalance from occuring at the same time that it recognizes the realities of the timelines that are now involved with respect to the loss of international authority for our presence in Iraq at the end of this year.
This amendment is a sense of the congress. On the one hand, it states that it is a sense of the Congress that we work with the UN to extend the United Nations mandate for up to an additional year, giving us some addition international authority for being in Iraq, taking away the pressure of this timeline that could be used to justify an agreement that the Congress has not had the ability to examine. It also says that an extension of the United Nations mandate would end at such time as a strategic framework agreement and a status of forces agreement between the United States and Iraq are mutually agreed upon.
The amendment also makes the point that the strategic framework agreement now being negotiated between the United States and Iraq poses significant long-term national security implications for this country. We need a sense of the Congress. We need to be saying that. The Iraqis need to hear it. The amendment also puts the Congress on record, and the Administration on record, to the reality that the Bush Administration has fully agreed to consult with the Congress regarding all the details of the strategic framework agreement and the status of forces agreement and that there will be copies of the full text of these agreements provided to the chiarman and ranking minority members of the approriate committees in the house and senate prior to the entry into either of those agreements.
Importantly, it also says that any strategic framework agreement that has been mutally agreed upon by negotiators from our executive branch and the Iraqi government officials will cease to have effect unless it is approved by the Congress within 180 days of the entry into force of that agreement.
So, Mr. President, on the one hand this amendment recognizes the realities of where we are in terms of time lines. But, on the other, it protects the constituational process by which we are entering into long-term relationships with other countries, whether it is Iraq or Cameroon or Burudni, pick a country. We need to preserve the process. And it does it in a way that would not disrupt our operations in Iraq. I would urge my colleagues to join me on this amendment and protect the prerogatives under the Constitution of the United States Congress. With that, I yield the floor.
The White House continues its attempt to circumvent the Constitution while pretending that (a) it's not a treaty and (b) they share, they really, really share with Congress. Which explains Sean McCormack's song and dance before the press today at the US State Dept which included saying that Secretary of State Condi Rice is reaching out to various Senators and Reps and so is Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. Asked what she told them, McCormak responded, "Talked about the text of the agreement and -- [asked if "agreement" was Rice's word] -- I don't know if she used that word. That's my word." He decided to stick with text and not agreement: "I'm sticking with text. I like the word text. And she also talked about the process, where we stand in the process. The process is ongoing. The Iraqis are considering the text. We are talking to the Iraqis. No news to announce in that regard. The process continues." By her phone calls, McCormack stated, we can surmise Rice supports the text. She wouldn't make phone calls if she didn't support it! Pressed on that, McCormack finally said, "Sure, sure. She supports the text, yes."
McCormack, in the same press confrence, made a badly worded statement when asked about Governor Sarah Palin, GOP vice presidential nominee, not being briefed when Senators Barack Obama, Joe Bide and John McCain have: "She -- if you hadn't noticed, she's a governor, not a sentor or congressman." I don't see how Palin could ever be a Congressman. She could be a Congress woman. She could be a member of Congress. She could be a US House Rep. But there was so much in that press conference. McCormack was asked didn't the Senate have approval and he responded, "Well, my understanding -- and you can check with the White House on this -- is this is not, it's not a treaty, so it doesn't require Congressional approval. And I think if you look back on the history of SOFA agreements, they are not traditionally things that have required Congressional approval. Of course, since this is a, you know, foreign policy, national security issues are issues of concern to all branches of government. And importantly, in this case, to the Legislative and the Executive Branches, there is a briefing process that's going on." After declaring that, he was asked six questions -- and answered none -- about complaints from members of Congress which led him to state, "I've -- you know, again, I've said what I'm going to say on the matter." At the White House, Dana Perino addressed the press and took questions and maintained that Congress is being briefed. Over and over, she maintained that. That's not advise and consent. As Karen DeYoung noted, "None of the actuald raft wording has yet been made public or unveiled to Congress".
From the Constitutional crisis to the Mosul crisis. Christians have been forced to flee from the Iraqi city as a result of attacks on them. Ed West (UK's Catholic Herald via Catholic Online) explains, "The refugees now face a bleak winter without any food or shelter in what aid workers are calling a 'desperate' situation." The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees issued the following this morning, attributed to spokesperson Ron Redmond:UNHCR is concerned about the displacement of Christian Iraqis from Mosul which started last week. We have received information from the Ministry of Displacement and Migration (MoDM) in Mosul that approximately 1,560 families (some 9,360 people) have been displaced so far, although UNHCR cannot confirm this number. The displaced population would represent about half of the Christians in the Mosul area. In recent days, we have sent at least 10 field assessment missions to areas surrounding Mosul, including Telesquf, Batnaya, Bartilla, Baashiqa, Akre, Shekhan. We've also had UNHCR teams in areas of Dahuk and Erbil, where Christians have sought refuge. According to initial reports, most Christian Iraqis decided to leave Mosul following direct as well as indirect threats and intimidation. One of those interviewed witnessed the killing of a Christian Iraqi on the street, while several of the displaced told us they had received printed threats at the university campus, in their homes and through text messages on their mobiles. Several others told our teams that they left when they heard news of 11 reported killings of Christians in Mosul. Others were warned by family members, friends and neighbours of potential threats and decided to leave before it was too late. Most of the families who fled are staying with extended family members, friends within the host community or in collective community buildings, including church facilities. There is an urgent need for food, clothes, non-food items (such as blankets, mattresses, and stoves), health facilities, hygiene kits, clean water and access to school. Over the past week, UNHCR and our partner, International Medical Corps (IMC), have distributed non-food items to a total of 802 families (about 4,800 people). We expect to have reached over 1,500 families by early next week, both new arrivals as well as those displaced people we have not been able to reach yet. Food and kerosene and additional assistance have been distributed by other UN agencies, non-governmental organisations and local authorities. A decision was also taken on Wednesday by the Ministers of Displacement and Migration and Defence to make available an immediate cash grant of 300,000 -- 500,000 Iraqi dinars ( $250-$425 ) to the displaced families, and another 1.5 million dinars ($1,250) to those who decide to return. For now, most of the displaced we spoke to do not envisage return to their homes as an immediate option, as they fear for their lives. A few told us that they will only return if and when their safety and security can be assured by the local authorities. UNHCR's led protection and assistant centres in Kirkuk and Mosul will continue to closely monitor the situation on the ground.
Gulf Daily News reports, "Lebanese political figure Amin Gemayel on Friday warned against attacks targeting Christians in Iraq, according to media reports. Gemayel was quoted by media as saying that a campaign targeting Iraqi Christians was 'part of a campaign to displace them, similar to displacing of Palestinians' by Israel'." Lebanon's Naharnet Newsdesk quotes Gemayel calling it "racial cleansing" and stating, "What sparks suspicion is that the campaign of racial cleansing targeting Iraqi Christians is underway as the security situation in Iraq is achieving progress. It is regretful that this campaign is underway while the new Iraqi regime and the American forces are watching." Fatih Abdulsalam (Azzaman) provides a unflinching look at the current state of Iraq which includes asking about the alleged 'strength' of Iraq: "Is it our political stability and security? The hundreds of thousands of Iraqi troops and police as well as 150,00 U.S. Marines cannot stop the persecution of Iraqi Christians in the city of Mosul." Also refusing to blink is Sami Moubayed (Asia Times):
Ever since the occupation of Iraq in 2003, Iraqi Christians have complained that they are being persecuted by Islamic militias. In some cases, many Christians were killed, churches attacked and women raped for walking outdoors without wearing headscarves. Over the past 10 days, 12 Iraqi Christians have been found dead in Iraq, angering the prime minister, who created a senior ministerial delegation to investigate the crimes. The group is composed of the ministers of defense, industry, planning and refugees. The depiction of Maliki's Iraq as a theocracy where freedom of religion is not tolerated is a terrible setback for Maliki, and is tarnishing his image in the United States and Europe. Ordinary Iraqis - mainly Christian - cannot but compare him with Saddam Hussein, who despite all the faults of his dictatorship, upheld religious diversity in Iraq and protected Iraqi Christians from fundamentalist threats.
Prior to the most recent outbreak of violence in Mosul, Iraqi Christians and other minorities were publicly demonstrating against the decision to strip Article 50 out of the legislation for provincial elections. Article 50 provided minority representation. Newsday reports, "The president of the semiautonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq, Massoud Barzani, said the omission of a minority quota in a recently passed elections law was a 'big mistake.' Barzani also promised to help the federal government in its 'efforts to provide the equivalent protection for our Christian brothers.' Kurdistan borders Nineveh province, which includes Mosul. More than 1,400 families have fled Mosul to nearby villages and towns, the Iraqi Ministry of Displacement and Migration said." Add Barzani to the long list -- which includes puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki and Iraqi president Jalal Talabani -- of people calling the elimination of Article 50 out . . . after the bill was signed into law. Saad Abedine (CNN) reports 4 males have been arrested today under suspicion of taking part in the attacks on Iraqi Christians and quotes Maj Gen Mohammed al-Askari stating, "We know that they are part of a criminal gang that has been committing criminal acts in Mosul and we will do our best to arrest the rest."
Today the United Nations HCR noted a new report: "A UN refugee agency report released on Friday shows that the number of Iraqis seeking asylum in industrialized countries dropped in the first six months of this year, but they were still by far the top nationality seeking asylum in these destinations. According to the asylum trends report, the number of claims made by Iraqis (19,500) during the first six months of 2008, was higher than the combined number of asylum claims submitted by citizens of the Russian Federation (9,400) and China (8,700), the second and third most important source countries. Other important countries of origin of asylum seekers were Somalia (7,400), Pakistan and Afghanistan (6,300 each)." The report [PDF format warning] is entitled "Asylum Levels and Trends in Industrialized Countries" and it examines the statistics on "asylum claims submitted in Europe and selected non-European countries during the first six months of 2008." The US and Canada rank first for asylum claims (not asylum granted, applications). France and the UK are third and fourth. The report notes that Iraq was the country of origin for most aslyum-seekers as it has been since 2006. For all of 2007, there were 45,000 asylum claims by Iraqis. For the first half of this year, there were 19,500 claims. The report is 25 pages and the bulk of it is tables.
While Iraq remains the number one refugee crisis in the world (and figures above were on external refugees making claims), tension remain between Iraq and it's northern neighbor Turkey. CNN reports that Turkish military planes again bombing northern Iraq today and notes that there are no known/confirmed deaths from the bombing. Reuters adds, "The general staff said on its website that the Turkish jets hit PKK bases in northern Iraq's Qandil mountains on Friday and that all planes had returned to their bases. Military sources, who declined to be named, earlier told Reuters that four PKK guerrillas were killed and several wounded in the bombardment of Qandil mountains."
In other reported violence . . .
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing which claimed 1 life and wounded four people and a Falluja bombing at the home of Sheikh Suleiman Ahmed al-Jumaili claimed the Sheikh's life as well as a man suspected of being the bomber. Reuters reports a Mosul roadside bombing that claimed 1 life and left one person injured, 2 more Mosul roadside bombing that resulted in 1 Iraqi soldier losing his life, four more wounded, two police officers and three civilians being injured and a roadside bombing outside Falluja that left three police officers injured.
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports "Qadir Aziz, a guard in a driver training establishment" was shot dead in Kirkuk.
Reuters notes the corpse of 1 "pregnant woman" was found in Kut ("gunshot wounds").
Turning to the US presidential race. Yesterday's snapshot mentions a debate at Columbia. Maria Recio's "Third-party debate's only confirmed participant: the moderator" (McClatchy Newspapers) informs that it's iffy with Cynthia McKinney saying she's doing another debate, Ralph Nader hedging and apparently no real desire for it. Ralph Nader is the independent presidential candidate, Matt Gonzalez is his running mate. Today Nader writes "In the Public Interest: Closing the Courthouse Door:"
"Real change comes from the bottom up, not the top down. The genius of the American system has been to let that change flow upward, from neighborhoods to cities to states and then to the federal government." George W. Bush February 26, 2001.
Unfortunately, the difference between words and deeds in Washington is often shocking even to those who think they have seen it all. Alicia Mundy in the October 15, 2008 edition of the Wall Street Journal reports: "Bush administration officials, in their last weeks in office, are pushing to rewrite a wide array of federal rules with changes or additions that could block product-safety lawsuits by consumers and states."
What President George W. Bush should have said is that he believes in states rights when they are in the interest of Big Business and their lobbyists in Washington. Mr. Bush and his cronies would like to forget about those harmed by dangerous products or reckless conduct. Indeed, Bush & Company seem to regard the civil justice system as a nuisance that threatens to destroy our economy and way of life. In reality, America's civil justice system plays an indispensable role in our democracy. When the rights of injured consumers are vindicated in court, our society benefits in countless ways: compensating victims and their families for shattering losses (with the cost borne by the wrongdoers rather than taxpayers); preventing future injuries by deterring dangerous products and practices and spurring safety innovation; stimulating enforceable safety standards; educating the public to risks associated with certain products and services; and providing society with its moral and ethical fiber by defining appropriate norms of conduct.
The Center for Progressive Reform has in painstaking detail chronicled the attack on the civil Justice system by the Bush Administration. In "The Truth about Torts: Using Agency Preemption to Undercut Consumer Health and Safety" legal scholars William Funk, Sidney Shapiro, David Vladeck and Karen Sokol write: "In recent years, the Bush administration has launched an unprecedented aggressive campaign to persuade the courts to preempt state tort actions…. Widespread preemption of state tort law would significantly undermine, if not eliminate, the rights of individuals to seek redress for injuries caused by irresponsible and dangerous business practices and to hold manufacturers and others accountable for such socially unreasonable conduct." (See: http://www.progressiveregulation.org)
And, Les Weisbrod, the President of the American Association for Justice (formerly known as the Association of Trial Lawyers of America) hit the nail on the head when he said: "In effect the Bush administration made the safety of Americans secondary to corporate profits." Mr. Weisbrod added: "Big business lobbyists have been on a crusade to destroy state consumer protection laws, and further stack the deck against American consumers." The American Association for Justice has just published a report titled: "Get Out of Jail Free: A Historical Perspective of How the Bush Administration Helps Corporations Escape Accountability" – this report is available at: www.justice.org/getoutofjailfree.
Tort deform comes in many shapes and sizes – but the common theme is that tort deform severely damages Americans' cherished constitutional right to trial by jury. It ties the hands of jurors, preventing them from doing justice as the case before them requires. Only the judges and juries see, hear, and evaluate the evidence in these cases. But it is the politicians, absent from the courtrooms, who push bills greased by campaign cash that send a perverse message to judge and jury.
Tort law has produced decades of slow but steady progress in state after state respecting the physical integrity of human beings against harm and recognition that even the weak and defenseless deserve justice. Instead of seeing this evolution as a source of national and global pride, a coalition of insurance companies, corporate defendants' lobbies, and craven politicians, led by George W. Bush, want to destroy our civil justice system.
When Georgetown Law School Professor David Vladeck testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on September 12, 2007, he noted that the Bush Administration has "seized on regulatory preemption as a way to cut back dramatically on State law remedies for those injured by products and services Americans depend on every day for their health and well-being: medicines, medical devices, motor vehicles, the mattress on which we and our children sleep, and the commuter trains millions of us take to work every day."
Let us hope that Congress and the Supreme Court stop Mr. Bush from once again trampling the Constitutional rights of citizens throughout the land and preventing victims of corporate violence from obtaining justice in a court of law.
Cynthia McKinney is the Green Party presidential candidate and Rosa Clemente is her running mate.
Green Party presidential nominee Cynthia McKinney will participate in a webcast forum for presidential candidates on Sunday, October 19, to be aired 7 to 9 pm on BreakTheMatrix.com.
Cynthia McKinney will join other candidates who've been invited to the online
forum, which has been organized by ThirdPartyTicket.com's Trevor Lyman.
Ms. McKinney will not appear at a candidates' forum at Columbia University on
the evening of October 19. The news of Ms. McKinney's participation in the Columbia event was released to the media in error by persons who are unassociated with the McKinney campaign, and who had not confirmed such
an appearance with Ms. McKinney or her staff.
"We invite everyone to go online, tune in to BreakTheMatrix.com, and listen to
Cynthia McKinney and the other candidates debate real issues. We'll hear Ms. McKinney offer ideas that have been censored from the McCain-Obama debates -- ideas that most Americans support, like bringing our troops home now, health care for everyone, and help for working Americans facing financial difficulty instead of a $700 billion bailout package for Wall Street," said John Judge, media secretary for the McKinney/Clemente Power to the People Committee.
Cynthia McKinney and running mate Rosa Clemente were nominated by the Green Party at the Green National Convention in Chicago this past July.
"A vote for Cynthia McKinney and Rosa Clemente is an investment in a growing progressive antiwar party that accepts no corporate contributions. No other candidate in the 2008 election offers the hope of a permanent alternative to the Democrats and Republicans and the corporate interests that the two established parties serve. The Green Party isn't an alternative, it's an imperative," said Ms. Clemente.
Greens and other Americans have objected to the format of the McCain-Obama debates, which were sponsored by the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD), and which excluded all candidates except the Democratic and Republican nominee.
The CPD, which sets rules for candidate participation, is owned and run by the Democratic and Republican parties, which have an interest in excluding all candidates except their own. Greens noted that the CPD is funded through contributions from corporations, which have their own interests in limiting the candidates who participate in the debates.
Democracy Now! -- no link to trash -- had Ralph Nader and Cynthia McKinney on yesterday. Cynthia is the Green Party presidential candidate and wisely refused to take part in defending a White man who instigated more serious acts of violence than have the still persecuted Black Panthers (much to Goody's regret, Cynthia refused to rush to defend Bill Ayers). Ignoring Goody's need to for White privilege, McKinney responded:CYNTHIA McKINNEY: First of all, I think I should say that I believe that the people in this country need a political party and a movement that places our values on the political agenda. Obviously, with that exchange, that's not the case. There's something else that's a bit more troubling. I've also been talking about election integrity as I've gone across this country. But, you know, I really don't like the idea that the face of election fraud, given the past two presidential elections, is now a face of color and one of poor people. In 2000, when people went to the polls, when the voters went to the polls, they were met with confusing ballots, manipulation of the voter lists, electronic voting machines that didn't work, inappropriately or ineffectively or poorly trained officials who weren't familiar with the workings of those machines, and we know what the problems with those machines have been and are. We still have those problems that have been with us since 2000. In 2004, they added to these problems with the electronic poll books, the sleepovers that were discovered, where the machines weren't even secured, even intensifying the failures of the machines with the vote flipping, and usually in only one direction. The battery freezes in the midst of voters actually trying to cast their votes. And now we've got voter ID laws across the country, and we've got voter caging, which is a fancy way of purging people from the voter files. So, now, what kind of election is it when neither of the political parties is addressing the issue, the fundamental issue, of whether or not our votes are even going to be counted? McKinney's running mate is Rosa Clemente. Ralph Nader is the independent presidential candidate. Ralph took the bait so we won't note his exchange on that issue. Instead, we'll note this from him: RALPH NADER: There's no such thing as free trade with dictators and oligarchs in these countries, because the market doesn't determine the costs. There's no free collective bargaining for workers. That's a crime, de facto, in many countries, to try to form an independent trade union. There's no rule of law, bribery. These companies can go there and pollute at will. There's no judicial independence to make these companies accountable, and they abuse workers and consumers and communities, as the oil companies and the timber companies have on many occasions. Second, these-NAFTA and WTO have to be scrapped. Under those treaties, we can withdraw in six months and give notice of withdrawal and renegotiate these agreements for the following purpose: no more trade agreements that subordinate consumer, union, worker and environmental rights. These are pull-down trade agreements that are allowing fascist and corporate dictators to pull down our standards of living, because they know how to keep their workers in their place at fifty cents an hour. So, any new trade agreements should stick to trade. Any other treaty should be labor, environment and consumer on a level playing field. These trade agreements also have to be open, democratic. They cannot undermine our courts, our regulatory agencies and our legislature. That's what we've got to do. And our website, votenader.org, has ample information on this process. If you're in the mood to wade through garbage, you know where to go find the audio and video. Cynthia McKinney has the transcript posted at her campaign website. Ralph Nader is the independent presidential candidate, Matt Gonzalez is his running mate. In terms of the 'questions' Goody came up with, Ava and I will address that garbage on Sunday at Third.
Meghan McCain (McCainBlogette.com) offers her evaluation today on the debate Wednesday between her father, GOP presidential candidate John McCain, and Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama: "My father nothing short of ROCKED Wednesday night's debate and I have never been more proud. He got up and showed this country why he is the right person to lead it into the future, and open the door to reinvention of the Republican Party. I am always proud of my Dad but even more so when he lets his maverick tendencies show so clearly. Eighteen more days to go and this election is nowhere near over!!!" McCain's running mate is Governor Sarah Palin. The McCain-Palin campaign has issued a press release that there's not room for in full. We'll quote from the top and include as much as possible (ues the link to read in full):
OBAMA MEDICARE MALPRACTICE #1: The Very Same Reforms That Barack Obama Calls "Cuts" Under John McCain, He Says Will "Strengthen" Medicare Under His Program
THE MALPRACTICE: While Saying Today That John McCain's Reforms Will "Cut" Medicare Spending, Barack Obama Says He Will "Strengthen" Medicare With His Reforms. OBAMA: "So what would Senator McCain's cuts mean for Medicare at a time when more and more Americans are relying on it? It would mean a cut of more than 20 percent in Medicare benefits next year. ... I think every single American has a right to affordable accessible health care. We can strengthen Medicare by eliminating wasteful subsidies to big HMOs in Medicare, and making sure seniors can access home-based care, and letting Medicare negotiate with drug companies for better prices. That's the kind of change we need." (Barack Obama, Remarks As Prepared For Delivery, Roanoke, VA, 10/17/08)
THE TRUTH: Just Two Days Ago, Barack Obama Highlighted His Own "Cut" To Medicare Spending. OBAMA: "And some of the cuts, just to give you an example, we spend $15 billion a year on subsidies to insurance companies. It doesn't -- under the Medicare plan -- it doesn't help seniors get any better. It's not improving our health care system. It's just a giveaway." (CNN, Presidential Candidate Debate, Hempstead, NY, 10/15/08)
THE TRUTH: One Such "Cut" That John McCain Must Support Under Barack Obama's Logic Is A Reform That Today, Barack Obama Said Would "Strengthen" Medicare. MCCAIN: "Government programs such as Medicare and Medicaid should lead the way in health care reforms that improve quality and lower costs. Medicare reimbursement now rewards institutions and clinicians who provide more and more complex services. We need to change the way providers are paid to focus their attention more on chronic disease and managing their treatment. This is the most important care for an aging population. There have been a variety of state-based experiments such as Cash and Counseling or The Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly, called PACE, that are different from the inflexible approaches for delivering care to people in the home setting. Seniors are given a monthly allowance that they can use to hire workers and purchase care- related services and goods. They can get help managing their care by designating representatives, such as relatives or friends, to help make decisions. It also offers counseling and bookkeeping services to assist consumers in handling their programmatic responsibilities. In these approaches, participants were much more likely to have their needs met and be satisfied with their care. Moreover, any concerns about consumers' safety appeared to be misplaced. For every age group in every state, participants were no more likely to suffer care-related health problems." (John McCain, Remarks, Tampa, FL, 4/29/08)
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Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Did you watch the debate? The so-called presidential debate that allows only two candidates to be on stage.
Barack can't answer a basic question on his health care plan. We're going to drop back to Sunday.
"TV: Some moments should stay undercover" (Ava and C.I., The Third Estate Sunday Review):
A key 'point' moment went to McCain when Barack couldn't answer about the mandates in his non-universal health care plan. McCain noted, "But they certainly are a little nervous when Sen. Obama says, if you don't get the health care policy that I think you should have, then you're going to get fined. And, by the way, Sen. Obama has never mentioned how much that fine might be. Perhaps we might find that out tonight." Barack ran off at the mouth (he's still not learned how to give concise remarks) and, at the end of it, McCain could rightly ask, " I don't believe that -- did we hear the size of the fine?" If you're just scoring on points (and leaving out the self-presentation, which is what the Republicans focus on), Barack was appalling in that moment.
John McCain floated that fines will exist under Barack's non-universal health care. (It covers children and it's mandated.) Barack didn't answer that in his response and McCain pointed that out after the response.
In the February debate with Hillary Clinton, Barack was spinning madly on health care (his program covered fewer people than Hillray's would have) and blathering on with comments like this, "And the mailing that we put out accurately indicates that the main difference between Senator Clinton's plan and mine is the fact that she would force in some fashion individuals to purchase health care. [. . .] Now, Senator Clinton has not indicated how she would enforce this mandate." Hillary rightly responded, "Senator Obama has a mandate in his plan. It's a mandate on parents to provide health insurance for their children." And what did Barack then do? He raised the issue of fines. For the issue of fines as a result of mandating that people have health insurance (not providing them with it, mandating that they have it) to come up in a debate eight months after that matchup with Hillary and Barack still not be able to address it is appalling.
By not addressing it, the take-away is that there will be a fine. (And, if it's mandated, as Hillary pointed out of both her and Barack's plan, there will be a fine.) Egg heads in the Cult of Barack probably thought he switched the topic as he blathered on and ignored the issue of fines. They're not thinking like the voter who's struggling to make ends meet and, as soon as she or he heard "fine," immediately started thinking how much the fine was for driving without car insurance (liability) and waiting to hear Barack answer if the fine would be that high or higher.
Tonight , he tried to lie yet again. As Hillary noted, a mandate means a fine. Barack attempted to take it to employers and refused to allow that parents would face a fine. In February, he was ripping Hillary apart for a fine. Hillary didn't lie. She didn't try to change the topic to weasel out of it. She acknowledged what a mandate means.
Barack wants to put a mandate in place. But he doesn't want anyone to notice and he certainly doesn't want to answer the question.
Sorry, it doesn't work that way.
Now I'm not going to pay a mandate. I have no child under 25. (That is Barack's plan, by the way, most people don't even know the age limits.) My parents were wealthy and I will never hurt for money so if I had a dozen children under the age of ten, I could easily pay for insurance. This issue doesn't effect me personally. But I do think it is important that if you have a plan and you want people to vote for you, you get honest about what your plan is.
His plan has a mandate. He castigated Hillary because her plan had a mandate. She did not quibble over the fact that her plan had a mandate. She did not quibble over the fact that a mandate, to be enforced, requires a fine. Why can't Barack be honest about his own plan?
It's all smoke and mirrors. He spoke of the need to "explain in concrete terms" but he won't do that with his own proposals.
That's going to be it for me tonight. Woops. Katharine Q. Seelye live blogged the debate for the New York Times. Rebecca asked me to be sure and include a link if Seelye live blogged and I know C.I. will link to it in the snapshot tomorrow and Mike will link to it tonight. It is not a minor point, Seelye has been the victim of a non-stop pile-on for eight years now. As a woman, I will gladly link to a woman who endured the garbage and kept on doing her job.
"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Wednesday, October 15, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, Steven D. Green has a defense 'strategy', Iraqi Christians continue to flee attacks, PBS' The NewsHour demonstrates it believes in functioning democracy, and more.
Starting with the puppet of the occupation, Nouri al-Maliki. Deborah Haynes and Richard Beeston (Times of London) interviewed al-Maliki for "Time to go home, Nouri al-Maliki tells Britain". The transcript of the interview has a portion that caught the attention of Today's Zaman because it deals with the oil-rich city of Kirkuk. From the transcript:
[Times of London]:What about Kirkuk, is this a serious problem facing your Government? The area is controlled by Kurdish militias, can you ever imagine re-imposing Government authority by force?[al-Maliki]: Kirkuk is a city that belongs to the federal government and is outside the boundaries of the Kurdistan region. The existence of any force that is not formal and governmental is considered, as you said, outside the legal rules and goes by the principle of militias. Kirkuk is a very sensitive area. Our opinion about Kirkuk is that it will not be solved by using force to impose a solution ... It is shared by Turkomans, Sunni Arabs, Kurds, and a small ratio of Christians…The only suitable solution, at this time, is to treat it as a special case, like being an independent region ... The different ethnic groups accuse each other of bringing in people from outside the province and granting them residency. The province is under Kurdish control at the moment … The others, the Turkomans and the Sunni Arabs, accuse the local government of manipulating the census and the figures… It is better to have a solution between the groups based on consensus…
al-Maliki's statement is rather clear on what is a murky situation. He maintains that the oil-rich city of Kirkuk is part of the federal government in Iraq and not part of the Kurdistan Regional Government in the north. A bill for provincial elections over the summer led to a walk-out by Kurdish members of the Parliament. From the July 23rd snapshot:
Turning to Iraq and starting with the latest in the provincial elections bill -- CNN reports it has been rejected today. Yesterday, the Kurdish bloc in the Iraqi Parliament staged a walk-out over a bill regarding the alleged provincial elections that allegedly would take place October 1st. The walk-out means the already much postponed provinicial elections may be postponed further. Nancy A. Youssef (McClatchy Newspapers) covers the political process backdrop for yesterday's actions: "Some Iraqis think that the offensives that Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki launched in the southern cities of Basra and Amara and the Baghdad slum of Sadr City were to weaken his political rivals, the Sadrists, who controlled those areas. The possibility of a months' long delay in the elections could fundamentally alter the priorities of local and national politicians." Ned Parker and Saif Hameed (Los Angeles Times) zoom in on the backstory/history, "The contentious issue was among several points that have delayed a vote on the law that would pave the way for the first local elections since January 2005, when most Sunni Arabs and many Shiite followers of cleric Muqtada Sadr boycotted the vote. U.S. officials believe the participation of such groups could go a long way toward righting the balance of power in provincial politics, in which a small number of parties, mainly Kurdish and Shiite Muslim, have dominated." Alissa J. Rubin (New York Times) focuses on the struggle for the oil-rich Kirkuk, "The disagreement centered on the multiethnic city of Kirkuk, one of several areas in Iraq where there are competing claims over which province a city or district belongs in. The question for Kirkuk is whether it should be absorbed into the Kurdistan region -- a particularly charged question because the city sits on some of the largest unexploited oil reserves in the country. Both Arabs and Kurds lay claim to the area. At bottom, the disagreement is also about the ethnic identity of Iraq and about Arab frustration with the Kurds. Although the Kurds are a minority, they have proved adept at turning the political process to their advantage, often to the chagrin of larger ethnic and religious groups." Last December, Stephen Farrell (New York Times) reported on the attempts of the Kurdish region to take control of Kirkuk (with something other than the security forces they currently utilize) -- forcing Kurds out of the Kurdish region and into Kirkuk to live in "the squalor of the Kirkuk soccer stadium." CNN quotes this statement from President Jalal Talabani's office today, "The president, who does not agree with such a law, which was voted on by 127 deputies who do not represent half of parliament, is confident that the presidency council will not pass it." Al Jazeera points out, "Wednesday's move, which comes after protests by Kurdish and some Shia MPs, is likely to delay the elections, which have been encouraged by US officials as a key step toward repairing Iraq's sectarian rifts."
In September an Iraqi correspondent for McClatchy Newspapers noted that Kurds made up only 40% of Kirkuk's population and wondered if "is it right to cause a state to collapse into entitites to realize your dream?" Months later, to pass the bill on provinincial elections and get it signed into law, the Parliament had to set aside the issue of Kirkuk. Reporting yesterday on the Kurds attempts to 'expand' their region into Qahtaniya, Campbell Robertson (New York Times) quoted the KRG's Internal Affairs Minister Karim Sinjair revealing, "We could throw all the Arabs out of the city. But the Americans told us we have to wait." This not only complicates things between the KRG's government and Baghdad's, it also comes at a time when tensions between Turkey and northern Iraq are running hight. Today UPI notes "published leaked images taken by a Turkish spy drone that appeared to show rebels of the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, massing in the Aktutun area near the Iraq border hours before a devastating Oct. 3 attack on a Turkish army outpost, the newspaper Today's Zaman reported Wednesday." That attack has been the justification for Turkey's most recent bombings on northern Iraq (and the October 3rd attack enraged the Turkish population). Zerin Elci (Reuters) notes that Turkish Gen Ilker Basbug ("chief of Turkey's armed forces") issued a denial today that "the army had received any information on" the attack before it took place. World Bulletin describes Basbug as speaking "harshly" and notes that he stated he was fully confident and investigation would prove that the military had no advance knowledge of the PKK attack.
Meanwhile David Sapsted (The National) reports on a Cambridge meet-up between Muslim and Christian leaders today (which was the final day of the three-day conference) where Sheikh Ali Gomaa (the Grand Mufti of Egypt) declared of the ongoing attacks on Christians in Iraq, "This is something that both Christianity and Islam reject. We hope to leave this world a better place for our children and grandchildren, a place where there is mutual co-operation." Ecumenical News International reports the Middle East Council of Churches issued a statement today: "The MECC is following with worries the latest news of the painful incidents which are taking place in Mosul in the past two weeks against the Iraqi Christians and are manifested in acts of violence, killings and forced displacement. The MECC condemns such violent demonstrations against innocent Christians who were attacked by strangers and insurgents. . . . The MECC affirms the historical fact that Iraqi Christians are a major component of the Iraq national ethnic groups. They have taken part in building their old civilization, and are taking honest part in rebuilding their nation today." Sam Dagher (New York Times) notes, "A church in the northern city of Mosul was bombed Tuesday as Christians continued to leave the city to escape recent violence that has been directed at them. . . . On Tuesday, a homemade bomb placed at the door of the Miskinta Church in the Old City district of Mosul detonated and caused some damage to the building but no casualties, Monsignor Warduni said." Dagher spoke with Shukria Youssef whose sister, a nun, remains in Mosul at an orphanage: "As long as there are people my sister and the other nuns will not leave. They consider themselves spiritual soldiers." AP reports that Jawdat Ismaeel has tabulated the number of Christian families who have left "Mosul since last week" and it is "1,390 -- or more than 8,300 people." AFP reports that US military spokesperson Patrick Driscoll blame the attacks on al Qaeda in Iraq today. As noted yesterday, no one yet knows who is responsible. Afif Sarhan (Islam Online) stays with the known and speaks with Iraqi Christians. Tony Bardinin who explains, "We are feeling like Gypsies moving from one place to another and are seen as criminals rather than victims. Our children are sick, out from schools and we cannot even claim help because we don't know who is with or against us." Yehia Nawadisin states, "It is clear that only few people want us out from Iraq. Muslims have been our friends for centuries and now, one more time, they are proving that by helping us and giving their love and support." AGI reports that, as the violence continues, "Authorities ordered further road blocks in a number of Christian neighborhoods." Vatican Radio continues to cover the crisis (link has audio):
Vatican Radio: Some 140 Iraqi refugees living in Syria headed home today on a free trip organized by the Iraqi government, which cited improved security in their country. The Iraqi Embassy says it is planning several such trips in the coming weeks. A significant number of Iraqi refugees are Christian. Several thousand have also fled the Arab south of the country for the relatively safer Kurdish north. This is causing tensions with the majority Muslim Kurds, who had already been accused of stepping on the rights of the area's native Christian minority. Catholic MP Edward Leigh on return from his visit to northern Iraq with Jubilee Campaign told us the situation of the Christians in the region
Edward Leigh: There's mixed evidence. I mean, some Christians have undoubtedly been welcomed in the north and they've had to flee to the north. And originally the Kurds and the Christians worked quite closely together under Saddam because there are all these villages mixed up together in northern, mountainous Iraq. And the Kurds rebelled in 1988 and Saddam came in and bombed them. And many of the Christians fled the villages as did the Kurds. I think one of the problems now is because the Christians are being persecuted so badly by Arabic extremists in Baghdad, I think Christians have fled up to the north and I suspect that's created some tension with the Kurds. And the Kurds themselves have been coming to the north and coming from other areas perhaps in Iran and Turkey. So there is tremendous pressure for land and the Kurds undoubtedly have the upper hand. They control the government, they control the police, they control the army -- it's pretty well a state-lette. I don't think the writ of the Baghdad government really extends much in Kurdistan or even the Ninevah plains and when I was in the Ninevah plains -- which is not really part of Kurdistan -- everywhere the Kurds have checkpoints. They are the military presence and the Christians are undoubtedly a small minority increasingly being squeezed between the Sunnis and the Shias and the Kurds.
Turning to the US, CBS and AP report, "A federal judge has set a hearing to decide whether to bar from trial statements a former Army soldier made after being arrested on sexual assault and murder charges. U.S. District Judge Thomas B. Russell scheduled the hearing for Oct. 29 in Louisville after a request from attorneys for 22-year-old Steven D. Green." Abeer Qassim al-Janabi is not making any special requests from the court. That's because she's dead. She was gang-raped by US soldiers while her sister and parents were murdered in the next room and then she was murdered. The other US soldiers had their day in court and confessed to their crimes. They fingered Green as the ring-leader. Because Green had already been discharged from the military, he faces a civilian court. March 12, 2006 was when the war crimes against Abeer and her family took place. Over two years later, Green's attorneys continue to delay justice. His trial has already been postponed for a quilting bee (no, that's not a joke from me -- although it might be one from the justice system) and, as noted in the July 14th snapshot, Russel Carollo (Fort Worth Star-Telegram) reported that "Green's attorneys notified prosecutors that they may use insanity as a defense." Brett Barrouquere (AP) reports that Green "faces 16 charges that include premediated murder and aggravated sexual assault. He has pleaded not guilty and claims he was insane at the time of the 2006 attack." AP notes that the trial is now scheduled for April. No word on whether another quilting bee could yet again derail it. Click here for a video of Jane Fonda addressing the Media Reform Conference (January 2007) and discussing Abber.
Jane Fonda: I want to share a story. I wonder how many know the name, Abeer Qassim al-Janabi. How many people? Raise your hands. Not many. Abeer was a 14-year-old girl, living with her family about 50 miles south of Baghdad, trying to grow up as best she could in a country ravaged by violence and war. That is, until March 12, 2006, when she was killed. On that night, five American soldiers, dressed all in black, burst into the home where Abeer lived with her family. After spending the evening drinking whiskey mixed with energy drinks and playing cards, the soldiers allegedly decided to execute the crime they allegedly had been planning for weeks. The men took turns raping 14-year-old Abeer before shooting her. In the next room, her mother, her father, and her five-year-old sister were executed. When the men were done, apparently they drenched the bodies in kerosene and set them on fire. Then they went back to the base and grilled up some chicken wings for dinner. It was months before this crime came to light.
When did it come to light? In June of 2006. Prior to that the crimes were committed by 'insurgents'. Gregg Zoroya (USA Today) reported on how Justin Watt (who was not part of the conspiracy) came forward with what he had been hearing. This was while US soldiers Kristian Menchaca and Thomas Tucker were missing and, though the two were not involved in the war crimes, they were the ones chosen for 'punishment' as The Sunday Telegraph revealed in December 2006. Mechaca and Tucker get no special requests to the court. Like Abeer, they're dead. Like Abeer, they were guilty of no crime. Green has certainly managed to elude his day in court while a number of deaths have piled up.November 8th, 2006, Green entered a not guilty plea in a federal court in Kentucky. In November 2006, Ryan Lenz (AP) reported that James P. Barker testified to Lt. Col. Richard Anderson that Steven D. Green came up with the plan and, of the rape of Abeer, that "[Paul] Cortez pushed her to the ground. I went towards the top of her and kind of held her hands down while Cortez proceeded to lift her dress up." Those who were still in the military admitted to their part in the conspiracy. They have been sentenced.
In April 2009, Green is scheduled to stand trial. And he plans to offer an insanity defense. Back in 2006, at the Article 32 hearing for those still serving, Capt. Alex Pickands summed up the soldiers' actions: "Murder, not war. Rape, not war. That's what we're here talking about today. Not all that business about cold food, checkpoints, personnel assignments. Cold food didn't kill that family. Personnel assignments didn't rape and murder that 14-year-old little girl." And it was planned, with Green studying her and making her uncomfortable. Julie Rawe and Aparisim Ghosh (Time) reported in June 2007, "Abeer's brother Mohammed, 13, told TIME he once watched his sister, frozen in fear, as a U.S. soldier ran his index finger down her cheek. Mohammed has since learned that soldier's name: Steven Green."
In fairness to Green, he got in a moral waiver and shouldn't have been let in. But then, no foreign forces should be in Iraq period. Addressing how the US changes the dynamic, Ralph Nader spoke yesterday with Ray Suarez of The NewsHour (PBS -- link has text, audio and video):
Ray Suarez: What would you do about Afganistan the Republican and Democratic nominees opposing you in this race, have come out with different plans what's yours?Ralph Nader: Mine is: More soldiers in Afghanistan on the Pakistan border is going to destabilize Pakistan. The National Intelligence Estimate of Mr. Bush just came out with a statement saying there's never been more violence in chaos in Afghanistan since 9-11. So we have to look to wise people, like Ashraf Ghani who was finance minister for Karzai, the president, and who was a professor here in this country, a native Afghani who says you've got to connect with the tribal leaders and give them and their people jobs, public works, security. And that will be the buffer against the people who just want chaos. Let's put it this way: Nobody conquers Afghanistan. The British didn't do it. The Soviet Union didn't do it. We're not going to do it. It's the scar on the conscience of Obama and McCain that they are ready to get us into a massive quagmire. And if Pakistan is destabilized, it's going to make Iraq look like small potatoes -- even with the million Iraqis and 4200 soldiers who've died in that conflagration.Ray Suarez: And can you extricate the United States from Iraq?Ralph Nader: Six month negotiated withdrawal with modest autonomy between Shi'ites, Sunnis and Kurds under unified Iraq of all US soldiers and corporate contractors. Continued humanitarian aid and UN sponsored elections. That should do it because that would knock the bottom out of the insurgency. You know, given the time, I have to ask people to contact our website for more details -- VoteNader.org -- where we have this elaborated. We invited volunteers. We invite donations. We take no money from commercial interests. But I know this area. My parents came from Lebanon at age nineteen. We know the language. We know the authority of the religious leaders, that the tribal leaders are still intact. And that's what we have to do. Any diminution of violence in recent months in Iraq have been due to realignments between these authority figures. And that's what we have to support; not more preferring one sectarian group over another, wheeling-dealing hundred dollar bills, the intrigue and the revenge killings. And, also, there's no way to knock the bottom out of the insurgency, which will ebb and rise according to circumstances, then to eliminate the occupation of their country and to give Iraq back to the Iraqis and their oil back. And it would help if the US government would support the peace movements in Israel and Palestine which have worked out a two-state solution, which was somehow prohibited from appearing in Congress. They're off-limits to the two- party campaigns, Obama and McCain. And it's disgracefully cowardly for these two people who are smart. I know them. They know what it takes to make peace between the Israelis and Palestine people. A majority of Jewish-Americans, Arab-Americans want a two-state solution. So do the majority of the Israelis and the Palestinians. And, instead, both major candidates support the hard-liners. You don't make peace by supporting the militaristic repression, occupation and colonization of Palestine. .
That's real change and it's actually a plan to end the illegal war. Until people get honest, expect more violence and chaos, death and destruction. Such as . . .
Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing that claimed 1 life and left four people wounded, two more Baghdad roadside bombing that left six people wounded, and another Baghdad roadside bombing that claimed 2 lives (police officers) and wounded two people; 4 Mosul roadside bombings resulting in fifteen people being wounded, and Baghdad mortar attacks on the Green Zone, the Baghdad airport and a Baghdad neighborhood and the last resulted in 2 deaths with six people wounded.
Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 2 people shot dead in Diyala Province (another wounded) and 1 person was shot dead in Mosul (four more wounded).
Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 2 corpses discovered in Baghdad and, last night, "a mass grave containing the remains of at least 20 people" was discovered in Karbala ["The dead people were Shiite shepherds who were kidnapped by the Qaeda about 18 months ago in Nikhaib (south west of Ramadi and west of Karbala), police and medical sources said."].
As noted already Ralph Nader was on The NewsHour yesterday. Ralph Nader is the independent presidential candidate. Today, Ralph Nader will speak at Cooper Union (NYC) at six p.m. and the following day the independent presidential candidate at noon "Ralph will take to the street in front of the NYSE to protest the bailout at Federal Hall, 26 Wall St. NYC." Ray Suarez asked Ralph about the bail-out last night.
RAY SUAREZ: Well, we've just come through these remarkable weeks, where the Treasury, the Fed, and Congress have been working to cobble together a plan.
The presidential candidates, the Republican and Democrat in the race, say they reluctantly went along with these bailout packages because of the urgency of the situation. What did you make of the bailout plans?
RALPH NADER: The right word is "cobble." It's the wrong kind of plan, and they have to readjust now with injections into the banks. But what they should have done, because Washington had Wall Street over the barrel, Wall Street wanted a $700 billion bailout. And what Congress should have done is add to Bush's blank check with comprehensive regulation to prevent this; criminal prosecution resources for the culprits on Wall Street; more power to the shareholders to control their company and restrain their bosses' excesses, real taxpayer equity, with good conditions and, finally, making them pay for it.
If you make the speculators pay for their own bailout, then there's a relief throughout America that there's some fairness coming out of Washington. A 0.1 percent tax on security derivative transactions in one year -- it's going to be $500 trillion of transactions in one year -- is $500 billion. So that alone would make a sense of equity. And you wouldn't put it on the backs of the taxpayer. England has that kind of tax, by the way, for years. FDR had it. We helped finance the Civil War with it. But after World War II, it was scrapped. So people go into a store in all your areas where your show shows, and they buy necessities of life, and they pay 6 percent or 7 percent sales tax. Tomorrow, someone in Wall Street can buy a billion dollars of Exxon derivatives, pay no sales tax. That's where the fairness has to go.
John McCain is the Republican presidential candidate and Sarah Palin is his running mate. McCain-Palin '08 announces:
ARLINGTON, VA -- Tuesday in the Oval Office, U.S. Senator John Warner was privileged to join with other members of Congress, the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff as the president signed the annual $542 billion dollar defense bill into law. The National Defense Authorization Bill annually fulfills the constitutional responsibility to provide for our nation's armed forces. This was the 30th consecutive defense bill Senator Warner has worked on with other senators.
Subsequently, in response to press inquiries, Senator Warner praised John McCain's leadership on defense issues and stressed the importance of his contributions, as the committee's ranking member, in structuring this bill.
"Having worked with John McCain for more than 20 years on the Senate Armed Services Committee, I know that, as President of the United States and commander in chief, he will continue working with Congress to ensure that the annual defense bills will adequately provide for our men and women in uniform the best equipment and training in order to protect America's freedom around the world."
Senator Warner also pointed out the importance of this bill to Virginia's overall economy.
Virginia is home to 31 military installations, approximately 130,000 active-duty personnel and some 80,000 Department of Defense civilian employees. (Source: Department of Defense)
The Department of Defense Authorization Bill signed today invests more than $50 billion in direct defense spending in Virginia, which translates into jobs, added research and development, procurement and acquisition of new equipment, and maintenance and upgrading of military installations. Of particular interest is the continuation of a strong naval shipbuilding and repair program. (Source: Department of Defense)
Senator Warner continued, "As a former chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, I know how critical defense spending is for Virginia's economy.
"Virginia is proud to be home to 814,000 veterans, whose past service helped build the foundation for today's U.S. military serving in Virginia and worldwide. There are provisions in this bill which continue to recognize military retirees' service to country, particularly in the field of health care.
"As I retire after 30 years in the Senate, I am absolutely confident that John McCain, as our next president, will continue his leadership and dedication to the needs of today's men and women in uniform, and to those of future generations."
And they note that the New Hampshire Union Leader has just endorsed John McCain for president with an editorial which opens, "In this time of great uncertainty, America needs an experienced, decisive leader with clear vision and a steady hand to guide us through. That man is Sen. John McCain."
Tonight, McCain debates Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama. No other presidential candidates will be allowed on the stage because democracy is just too gosh darn important to actually practice it. It's like good china. You hide it away for very special occasions. Otherwise, someone might break it! (You can, however, watch The New Adventures of Old Christine every Wednesday night on CBS' first half-hour of prime time.) Team Nader notes:
Donate $10 to Nader/Gonzalez now.
Well, Ralph Nader appeared on the PBS NewsHour last night for ten minutes.
Which was better than nothing.
Nothing is what Ralph got from PBS this year up until now.
No Jim Lehrer.
No Diane Rehm.
No Terry Gross.
But thanks to thousands of your phone calls and e-mails, the NewsHour relented.
And Ralph was given a chance last night.
To make the argument -- Jail Time for Corporate Crime.
Of course, when Americans think of crime, they think first of street crime.
But that's a bit unfair, don't you think?
Given the wave of corporate crime that has swamped Wall Street and tanked the economy?
So, today we launch a new fundraising widget.
And to open up the fundraising drive, we're making this offer to you -- our loyal supporters.
If you donate $100 now to Nader/Gonazalez, we will ship to you our corporate crime package -- two great books on how big business is robbing you blind -- plus a DVD featuring tomorrow's Nader/Gonzalez Rally on Wall Street. First we have the 260 page book -- Gangster Capitalism by Michael Woodiwiss.
Woodiwiss makes the argument that the lethal tenets of organized crime have worked their way into the operating models of corporations and governments.
And that the politicians, businessmen and bureaucrats are actually beating the wise guys at their own game -- shifting the rules to broaden and legitimize criminal behavior in a far more dangerous and sinister manner.
The other book is the 302-page hardcover classic The Cheating of America by Charles Lewis, Bill Allison and the Center for Public Integrity. This book is about how corporations and the super-rich don't pay their fair share of taxes.
So, donate $100 now, and we'll ship you these two eye-opening books -- Gangster Capitalism and The Cheating of America -- plus the Wall Street Rally DVD. (This offer ends October 24, 2008 at 11:59 p.m.)
Understand Gangster Capitalism.
Then organize to control it.
By the way, in the event you missed Ralph's appearance on the PBS NewsHour last night, check it out here.
Onward to November
iraqtimes of londondeborah haynesrichard beeston
nancy a. youssefmcclatchy newspapersthe los angeles timesned parkersaif hameedthe new york timesalissa j. rubin
the new york timessam dagher
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
The New Adventures of Old Christine is in it's fourth season. It airs on CBS and, this season, it airs on Wednesday nights. (First half-hour of prime time.) This is from a CBS press release C.I. passed on:
THE NEW ADVENTURES OF OLD CHRISTINE was second in households (5.0/08), viewers (7.53m), adults 25-54 (2.8/08) and adults 18-49 (2.2/07). Compared to last week, OLD CHRISTINE was up +6% in households (from 4.7/08), +4% in adults 25-54 (from 2.7/07), +10% in adults 18-49 (from 2.0/06) and added +730,000 viewers (from 6.80m, +11%).
It is a good show and one CBS would happily bury as Ava and C.I. have documented repeatedly at Third. This year's burial attempt was moving it to a new night. It is more than holding its own. This is the one show I make a point to watch. If you have not sampled it before, make a point to check it out tomorrow night.
"Nader to Henry Paulson, Janet Brown: Give It Up" (The Nader Team):
What can we say?
Well, we can start with this:
You have proven once again that you will not let Nader/Gonzalez fail.
And you delivered.
Thanks to you, we met our most recent fundraising goal of $250,000 in ten days.
We hit $250,000 right before midnight.
Here’s a snapshot of what you have made possible just today:
At 1:30, we were in front of the Treasury Department.
Ralph called on Secretary Henry Paulson to donate 25 percent ($200 million) of the money he made at Goldman Sachs to help bail out his buddies on Wall Street.
Also today, Ralph is releasing a letter to the Commission on Presidential Debates. The commission refuses to let alternative voices on the stage with the Bailout Boys — McCain and Obama.
So, today Ralph is calling on its executive director, Janet Brown, to at least give Ralph and the other third party candidates an admission ticket to be at Hofstra University tomorrow night to hear the last Presidential debate live and to have the opportunity to speak with the hundreds of reporters from around the world assembled there.
Check out a copy of Ralph’s letter to Janet Brown here. Then take a moment and e-mail Janet Brown asking her to give Ralph a ticket for tomorrow night.
Also, as we mentioned yesterday, Ralph will be on CNN, FOX, CNBC, and PBS’ The NewsHour today.
And our two day New York City events are shaping up. (See http://www.votenader.org/events/nyc/)
We’re hoping to do live streaming from our rally at Cooper Union tomorrow night. So, if you can’t be there, hopefully you’ll be able to watch live.
At the Wall Street rally Thursday at noon, we are pleased to announce that we will have a 35-piece brass band from Italy.
The name of the band is Titubanda.
Also performing will be singer/songwriter Nellie McKay, Reverend Billy, the satirical group Billionaires for the Bailout — among others.
Speaking at the Wall Street event will be Ralph Nader, Matt Gonzalez, CWA Local Union 1180 President Arthur Cheliotis, and Rev. Jarrett Maupin from Arizona, among others.
So, things are hopping.
Hope to see you in New York tomorrow and Thursday.
If not, stay tuned here for details on the live stream.
Thank you again for your activism and support.
Together we are making a difference.
Onward to November.
The Nader Team
Barack doing any of the above? Of course not. Can't piss off the people funding his campaign, got to make nice with Wall Street.
We live in a surreal world and if you doubt it try to find Iraq news at various news sites. I see a lot of stories on a soldier who wants to take a puppy home from Iraq to the US. That's not really a story that tells you anything about the illegal war, now is it?
It's a cute, little human interest story. Passed off as news.
"U.S. brings Iraq prison camp out of legal black hole" (Peter Graff, Reuters):
In the visiting hall of the U.S. prison camp, Delal Hashem, 25, sat opposite her husband Abbas Daoud Salman with the children she had brought to see him for the first time since he was captured 14 months ago.
Amna, the infant daughter who had never seen her father, clung to her mother's neck. Four-year-old Abdullah put his arms around his father, who smiled silently.
"They miss him. It hurts," their mother said.
Approached from the air, the U.S. military's Camp Bucca detention center emerges from desert heat haze like a cross between a mediaeval fortress and a run-down suburban trailer park. The first thing you notice is its staggering size.
I have read the story twice now and do not see how the headline matches it. Camp Bucca was always a US prison. I fail to see how keeping a prisoner from visiting with his family for fourteen months qualifies as a 'happy ending' or even a 'warm feeling'.
I am press for time (Blogger/Blogspot's going down tonight) so let me leave the news and address an e-mail that wondered what qualifies for a topic here and what doesn't?
It has to be something I care about. It really is that simple. If I'm not interested in writing about it, I'll find something else. What about topics I've moved on, wondered the e-mailer? If I moved on from a topic, I did so for a reason. (Yes, I know the topic he's asking about.) If my work on a topic (or a friend of mine's work on a topic) isn't good enough for some sub-set, then I won't waste my time covering it.
If that panics someone (as it did the e-mailer), well, I believe it was Pat Benatar who sang, "It's a little too little, it's a little too late."
Should have thought about that before. If the work being done on a topic led to nonsense, then you should be able to get along just fine without me or anyone else in the community covering a topic. "No one's covering it now," the e-mailer writes. No, it's being covered. It doesn't have the high profile it used to but that's not my problem (or the problem of anyone else in the community). We all have other things to do.
I'm not a wonderful cook but I could always handle French cooking and desserts. If you throw a party and ask everyone to bring something, I will most likely bring a French dessert (unless I bring something prepared by someone else). If, at the party, my dessert is attacked and I'm attacked for what I've gone to the trouble to do, I probably won't come to your party again. I certainly won't go out of my way to ever work on something to bring to one of your parties.
So if you're upset that I'm no longer serving a French dessert, you should have thought about that awhile back. The ship sailed and I'm not jumping off the pier to swim after it.
"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Tuesday, October 14, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, the United Nations' High Commissioner for Refugees issues a call, the US military announces another death, and more.
Today UNHCR's Ron Redmond, speaking in Geneva, addressed the issue of Iraq's Palestinian refugees noting:
UNHCR has issued an urgent appeal for the resettlement of Palestinian refugees. Most have been stranded for over two years in two camps at the Iraq-Syrian border and in Baghdad, while a small group has been stranded in Al Hol camp in Syira. Of the estimated 34,000 Palestinians in Iraq in 2003, less than 15,000 remain in Iraq -- including 2,943 Palestinian refugees currently living in the border camps at the Iraq-Syrian border. Of those in the border camps, 358 families (1,278 persons) are considered to be highly vulnerable -- having life-threatening diseases, needing urgent medical treatment or fearing persecution if they return -- and therefore are in urgent need of resettlement. The majority fled Baghdad since 2003 because of threats, torture, detention, or after friends and family members were killed. The steady drain on financial resources has forced middle class families into the ranks of the poor, needing housing, food, medical, and cash assistance.
The United Nations News Centre notes, "Living conditions at the camps are very difficult and continue to deteriortate, with refugees facing searing heat in the summer and freezing termperatures in the winters. There is also little security and limited medical services available to camp residents." Iraq is the largest refugee crisis in the world. And those who account for the nearly five million internally and externally displaced refugees are a diverse group. The UN's IRIN notes the disabled Iraqi refugees today including Jaafar Hamza whose family moved to Egypt in 2007 and whose father, Hami, explains, "We came here because the situation in Iraq was unbearable. Not only were we in danger, but Jaafar was suffering the most." His mother, Om Omar, adds, "Jaafar is completely dependent on us. We have to feed him, carry him to the washroom and anywhere he needs to be taken. He is getting older and heavier and I don't know how long we can provide for him. Doctors say his condition is permanent; he needs special care." In one of the most high profile reports on the disabled in Iraq, Lara Logan (CBS News) reported in June 2007 on US soldiers coming across a Baghdad orphanage where 24 special-needs boys were being abused. In that instance, some of the children were left by parents or a parent with the hopes that the institution would provide the care they couldn't. One father expressed how he had thought his son would be safer there than in the war zone that was his neighborhood. No one had any idea that the boys would be stripped of clothing and abused. The conditions are not getting better and, in fact, Sapa-AFP explain that, in Karbala, 200 doctors "have closed their clinics in protest" since yesterday due to death threats. For those who've forgotten, September's wave of Operation Happy Talk found the puppet government inflating the number of doctors who had returned and insisting it was safe and Iraq was back on track medically. Meanwhile Elizabeth Ferris and Navteg Dhillon (Guardian of London) note the young refugees, "As Iraq takes important steps towards national reconciliation and economic development, no one is paying attention to young Iraqi refugees. Their plight is largely portrayed through a sectarian lens. But when the focus shifts to the age of those uprooted, it is clear that a large number are young men and women, struggling with displacement at the prime of their life. Rather than building their future careers and families, their plans are on hold and their hopes are in limbo." Ferris is with the Brookings Institute and last week she called attention to the Iraqi refugees with regards to voting noting, "Participation of Iraq's refugees and IDPs in the provincial elections is critical to a legitimate electoral process, national reconciliation, and regional stability. Many of the Iraqi refugees currently living in harsh conditions in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Turkey, and the Gulf were displaced because they favored a secular Iraq. To exclude these Iraqis from the process is to let the militias' efforts to rid the country of secularists, intellectuals, Catholics, Yezidis, and many other minority groups win."
Religious minorities were dealt a huge setback when a bill on provincial elections passed the Parliament after it removed Article 50 that protected minority rights. The presidency council signed the bill into law. The Yazidis were the focuse of Campbell Robertson (New York Times) today as he noted that "Kurdish security forces moved into Qahtaniya and other Yazidi villages, having already made a fortress of Sinjar" and quoted the KRG's Internal Affairs Minister Karim Sinjair revealing, "We could throw all the Arabs out of the city. But the Americans told us we have to wait." Not, "We were told 'no'." He states they were told they would have to wait. The Kurds have made one power grab after another and Robertson does a fine job of sketching that out including how Qahtaniya would not directly seen made for a power grab due to its surrounding areas; however, it could be used as "a bargaining chip for political negotiations over the status of Kirkuk". From the Yazidis to the current crisis in Mosul, the attacks on Iraqi Christians which has led to many fleeing and added to the number of refugees. Al Jazeera reports, "Muslim scholars have spoken out against a spate of attacks against Christians in northern Iraq" and quotes Ekmeleddin Ihasanogul of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference stating that the attacks were "unprecedented in the history of Iraq" and that the government needs to "prosecute the culprits who are behind these acts." Deborah Haynes and Tim Albone (Times of London) explore theories developing, "Some Christians blame al-Qaeda for the attacks while others speculate that Kurdish elements might be involved as part of a political ploy to coerce minority sects into supporting Kurdish parties before forthcoming provincial elections. This allegation is strongly denied by the Kurdish authorities." The reporters note that the Kurds, in turn, blame the Baathists. Emmanuel Brikha (Australia's Streem) explains, "An Iraqi Sunni MP of Iraq Osama al-Najifi has strongly blamed the Kurdish militia groups, saying they are responsible for the murder and displacement of thousands of Assyrian Christians. He also blamed the Kurdish intelligence agencies in playing a part in organising and carrying out the murder campaign alongside militias. Al-Najifi claims the militias want to change the demographic balance of Mosul, which is located in Nineveh Province, a province highly populated by Assyrians, to serve Kurdish interests." Others blame al Qaeda in Iraq (which has issued a denial). At this point, no one knows who is responsible for the slaughter. Jerry L. Van Marter (Church Executive Magazine) reports, "Religious leaders around the world, including those in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), are asking their members to pray for the Christian community in Iraq and particularly the northern city of Mosul, where more than two dozen Christians have been murdered in recent days by militant Sunnis." Marter quotes Rev. Duncan Hanson ("area coordinator for Europe and the Middle East for the Reformec Church in America") stating, "The Mosul church is the oldest in Iraq, having been established in 1840. Our congreagation has had a long and glorious succession of pastors. Over the years these pastors also ministered to the Muslim community. It was out of the Mosul church that God sent missionaires to Baghdad, Basra and elsewhere to plant new congregations. We Iraqi Reformed and Presbyterian people call Mosul our 'mother church'." ZENIT quotes Carlidnal Emmanuel III Delly ("patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans and archbishop of Baghdad") declaring today that the "situation in some parts of Iraq is disastrous and tragic. Life is a Calvary. Peace and security are lacking, just as the fundamental elements in daily life. Electricity, water, fuel continue to be lacking; telephone communication is always more difficult; whole roads are blocked; schools either closed or in a continuous danger; hospitals function with a reduced staff; the people fear for their own safety. All fear kidnapping, abduction and intimidation." Stephen Mirarchi (National Catholic Register) notes that some are calling it "the holocaust of the Christians" and adds:
Father Ninous Ibraheem knows about that panic.
He remembers how two years ago, having made the precarious journey from Syria to Iraq without incident, he prepared to offer Mass in Dora, the Christian area in southern Baghdad.
Immediately after Mass, Father Ninous walked into the church's courtyard to the blast of a car bomb. Another was detonated moments later as it rolled through the fleeing congregation. At the same time, another church within walking distance suffered the same terror.
It's a risk Father Ninous takes every time he returns.
The next time he went back, in February of this year, only one church of the original 13, St. Shmoni, remained. "One of them was turned into a mosque," he said through a translator, his voice full of exasperation. "It became routine that people thought there was no one doing services."
Meanwhile Reuters reports, "Iraq's government pledged on Tuesday to send senior officials to the north of the country to tackle violence against Christians which has led thousands to flee their homes fearing for their lives." Yeah, that song and dance has been performed since this weekend. With little to no results. Pulling back to the topic of refugees in general, Corinne Reilly (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that of the 8% of Iraqi refugees who have returned to their Baghdad homes, "Many Iraqi families have returned to their old homes in peace, but a disturbing trend already is emerging: They're being targeted and attacked, and in some cases killed, for trying to go home. Some have been threatned. Others have found explosives tied to trying to go home. Some have had their homes blown up." Sunday, the New York Times offered a very bad offering of Operation Happy Talk pushing the good times are coming and the refugees are so happy and Iraqi children are in school (not the ones killed in the Sunday explosion reported the following day). The article didn't even note that the UNHCR continues to maintain that it is not safe for Iraqis to return. Nor did it note that it was using figures from the Iraqi government -- or that those figures are in dispute. The same day Basil Adas (Gulf Daily News) was reporting: "Baghdad: A dispute is raging between the United Nations and the Iraqi government on the number of Iraqi refugees living abroad - particularly in Jordan, Syria and Egypt - who have returned to Iraq. While the UN report said that the number of returning refugees is less than the number of those departing, Major General Abdul Karim Khalaf, director of the operations at the Interior Ministry, denied this." But the Times went with the 'trust worthy' puppet government and not the United Nations.
Turning to the issue of treaties. Saturday the Washington Post's Ernesto Londono interviewed Gen Ray Odierno (top US commander in Iraq) and asked what happens if an agreement is not in place by the end of the year? The UN mandate that authorizes the occupation expires December 31st. Odierno replied that "we must have a political framework for our presence here in Iraq. So that's really a policy issue, it's a national policy issue, so you still have to work with Washington to determine what our next steps are if we don't get a SOFA agreement. But we either must have something like a UN Security Council resolution that -- or some sort of bilateral agreement with the Government of Iraq for our continued presence. So it's got to be one or the other or something that is agreed upon between the two governments." Asked if he was optimistic, Odierno replied, "Um, it's unclear." And then swtiched to being "somewhat confident" before adding "I can't predict the future on that." Leila Fadel (McClatchy Newspapers) observes, "Time's running out for reaching a security agreement with the U.S., and an accord is unlikely before the end of this year, Iraq's Sunni Muslim vice president [Tariq al Hashimi] said Monday." Karen DeYoung (Washington Post) explains that the UN mandate could be extended but that "Russia or others" on the UN Security Council might oppose the deal while another theory is "a simple handshake agreement between Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and President Bush to leave things as they are until a new deal, under a new U.S. administration, can be negotiated." Ned Parker (Los Angeles Times) reports that some are saying the stalled process on the SOFA (really a treaty) is due to the various players including the Parliament and Parker mentions Massoud Barzani, president of the Kurdistan region. Barzani got an invite to the big meet-up in Baghdad today (sort of). Today's Zaman notes that the Turkish delegation was headed by the country's envoy to Iraq, Murat Ozcelik. World Bulletin explains the Turkish delegation was invited to a meet-up, just not the big meet-up -- meaning Barzani got his own meeting and the scheduled one with Nouri al-Maliki took place and did so without Barzani. At the big meet-up, al-Maliki declared, "We are ashamed that the PKK is using Iraqi soil. This menace has to be eradicated and what needs to be has to be done to that end." al-Maliki's statement may have prompted (or maybe it was US arm twisting) the KRG to issue a statement today condemening the PKK's attack on Diyarbakir, Turkey stating that it "serves no political purpose and has brought only tragedy to the people of Diyarbakir and throughout Turkey. Thomas Seibert (The National Newspapers) reminds:
For much of the past several years, Turkish politicians accused Mr Barzani of raising tensions in the region and of protecting members of the PKK. Only last year, Mr Barzani caused a storm of protests in Ankara by warning that if Turkey was to meddle in decisions about the future of the oil-rich city of Kirkuk, which is claimed by Iraq's Kurds, the Kurds themselves would stir up unrest in Diyarbakir, Turkey's main Kurdish city. Mr Erdogan accused Mr Barzani of "overstepping his line", while opposition leader Deniz Baykal said Mr Barzani was acting against "Turkey's territorial integrity and national sovereignty". In October last year, Mr Erdogan said Mr Barzani was "aiding and abetting" the PKK.
The last time an official Turkish delegation held talks with Mr Barzani was in 2004, one year after the US invasion of Iraq, the Turkish news channel NTV reported. Before the cold spell in their relations, Ankara and the Iraqi Kurdish leader were in close contact for much of the 1990s, when both Mr Barzani and the other main Kurdish leader in the region, Jalal Talabani, the Iraq's president, were given Turkish passports to be able to travel abroad.
Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing that wounded three people, a Baghdad car bombing ('sticky bomb') that wounded three police officers and, dropping back to Monday, a Tuz Khurmatu bombing that left five people wounded. Reuters notes a Kirkuk bombing on a Kirkuk "secondary pipeline" and a Mosul bombing that left two police officers injured.
Reuters notes 1 person shot dead in Mosul.
Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 1 corpse discovered in Baghdad.
Today the US military announced: "A Multi-National Division - Baghdad Soldier dies of wounds at approximately 5 p.m. at a Coalition force's Combat Support Hospital Oct. 14. The soldier was wounded when enemy attacked his patrol with small-arms fire in western Baghdad at approximately 4 p.m. The Soldier was quickly transported to the medical facility by air medevac; however, the Soldier later succumbed to the wounds." The announcement brings to 4183 the number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war (seven for the month thus far).
Turning to the US presidential race. The first three links are dealing with a topic that is offenisve. You've been warned. Members of the Cult of Barack have a new uniform they sported over the weekend. A t-shirt proclaiming Governor Sarah Palin is a c**t. With a photo of the t-shirt, Joseph (Cannonfire) explains, "The left has turned into an emetic morass of human sewage. When you go into the voting booth, picture the faces of the smug, haughty young creeps pictured in the photo above. They represent the new Democratic party. They are the reason why this lifelong Dem left the party. If you reward the Obots with your vote, you are saying: 'I want the Democratic party to keep acting like that'." Jake Tapper (ABC News -- in the safest version) covers the story and asks, "Why would these four think this is acceptable discourse?" BIG WARNING on Ben Smith because an innocent looking link in his piece will take you to nudity. He quotes Barack Cultist Rhiannon Volpe who declares, "I personally am a register Liberatrian, supporting Obama this year." She thinks those shirts are acceptable (and she designed and sold them) because, hey, in Cult of Barack, anything goes. The ones wearing those shirts in Philadelphia? That crowd included a man calling for Palin to be stoned. That never worried Amy Goodman or the beyond-pathetic Robert Parry. Mari A. Schaefer and Amy S. Rosenberg (Philadelphia Inquirer) report the threat was, "Let's stone her, old style." Meanwhile social worker and pro-life feminist Angela Kays-Burden (Christian Science Monitor) expresses her opinion, "The White House Project, a nonprofit organization, states that support from other women is critical to increasing the number of women in politics. But, in general, feminists have led attacks on one of their own who is close to shattering the ceiling. To them, Palin's pro-life position alone is proof that she is not fit to lead." At The Confluence, Riverdaughter addresses where she stands regarding the bullying from the Cult of Barack:
Many of us PUMAs are perfectly comfortable in our own skin with our own decisions. We don't want others pestering us about Obama anymore. We aren't interested in poll results. Obama supporters who come here to try to depress turnout or convert us are wasting their time. We simply do not care what you think of us. We have been called stupid, old, uneducated, ridiculous females, a shrieking horde of paranoid holdouts, racists, traitors and Republicans. Oddly enough, this has not made us want to vote for Obama.
The world will go on, no matter what we're called. And if Obama loses on Nov. 4, I will be the first to say, "Good!" You can blame me, scream at me, jump up and down throw a fit, ostracize me, I really don't give a flying fig. I will live through it and so will the others on the many dozens of blogs like this one.
It is regrettable that we have grown apart but I'm sure we will both survive. And the next time the party tries to pull this $#%^, I hope they will think twice as to whether it was worth it.
Now, masslib and people who gave in to peer pressure can say that Obama is going to win but I have enough emails from the party that suggest that plans to launch a full out attack to pressure us into voting for Obama. If he were doing that well, the upcoming psychological warfare would be unneccesary. So, please stop the annoying pro-Obama blather. We aren't buying it and we don't care.
Klownhaus adds, "We Conflucians may indeed be the last paranoid band of shrieking hold-outs, but we damn sure ain't gonna quit now." On the polling, Jake Tapper (ABC News) observed yesterday, "That's not what lots of smart folks in the Obama campaign think. They believe Obama's poll numbers are artificially high, McCain's are artificially low, this race will come down to two or three points, and anything could happen." As Ava and I explained Sunday:
Polling is not an exact science and the only poll that matters is the election vote. Polling works as an indicator (when it works) and not for who's going to win the election but for where campaigns should and should not invest time. But it does not work when an egg head class has repeatedly told the American people that those who will not vote for Barack are racists. We've tried to figure out why idiots push that nonsense? Maybe they think it will intimidate on election day? Most likely, it won't. Most likely, people will say, "I voted for Barack" and won't vote for him. How many? No one knows. But when so many idiots have pushed to make a vote for anyone other than Barack a vote for racism, you can't expect to get honest answers in the polling. Someone should have called them out on it a long time ago. We're told (by friends with the Barack campaign) that they're aware of the problem and it's created a huge issue for the campaign. They're trying to figure out what's the magic number to lead by. They have no clue -- not because they're idiots but because Idiot Rothschild, Idiot Herbert and so many others have made it impossible to get an honest answer from the most basic polling question of whom are you going to vote for? Smart observers have already grasped that even exit polls on election day will now be in question due to idiots turning "who are you going to vote for?" into a loaded question. If Barack loses (we have no idea who will win), some of the harsh words should be aimed at the people who repeatedly attempted to make it vote-for-Barack-or-be-a-racist. It was stupid. And it never should be allowed to happen again. If Barack loses (and he may win, we're not saying he's going to lose), a large part of the blame will have to go to those who so poisoned the well that his campaign was denied accurate polling numbers. (That's not arguing that the problems in the primaries don't matter. In this, we're speaking of the general election phase and how the polling is damaged -- a fact that became very clear as the primary process wrapped up.)
Today the McCain-Palin campaign announced the endorsement of Latino business leaders:
ARLINGTON, VA -- McCain-Palin 2008 today announced the support of more than 50 influential Hispanic business leaders from across the country. They will work to communicate John McCain and Governor Sarah Palin's economic plan which will create jobs, ensure energy security, reform government spending and bring relief to American consumers.
"I am supporting John McCain because he has always done what is right for all Americans," said Mary Jean Duran of California, "He will continue to give Hispanic-American-owned small businesses the opportunity to compete in the global markets, while Barack Obama proposes billions in higher taxes, more spending and isolationism from global economy."
Jerry Natividad from Colorado added, "John McCain will fight to ensure the American dream is still achievable for us and for our children. He has a plan to get our economy back on track, create jobs, and keep people in their homes. He understands that small businesses are the job engine of America. Our economy simply cannot afford Barack Obama's plans for trade, health care, taxes, and energy."
HISPANIC BUSINESS LEADERS FOR MCCAIN
Frank C. Rivera, Arizona Ruben Alvarez, Arizona Claudia Bermudez, California Donald C. Garcia, California Fred Armendariz, California Issac Barcelona, California Jarryd Rudolph, California Josh Valdez, California Mario Rodriguez, California Mary Jean Duran, California Matthew Venegas, California Pablo Wong, California Solomon D. Trujillo, California Tom Garcia, California William Jerry Silva, California Willie Wulff, California Jerry Natividad, Colorado Eric Rojo, Washington, D.C. Jose A. Fuentes, Washington, D.C. Juan Carlos Benitez, Washington, D.C. Roberto Jose Coquis, Washington, D.C. Al Cardenas, Florida Roberto Espin, Florida David Hernandez, Florida Eric Carson, Hawaii Gloria M. Campos, Illinois Vinicio E. Madrigal, Louisiana Jose Nino, Maryland David Olivencia, Michigan Richard Aguilar, Minnesota Jeannette Hernandez Prenger, Missouri Fernando Romero, Nevada Tibi Ellis, Nevada Dr. Horatio Villareal, New Mexico Ramon Tallaj, New York Dr. Cynthia Lama, New York Dr. Carlos Aviles, New York Alfredo Gutierrez, New Jersey John Regis, Puerto Rico Ignacio Veloz, Puerto Rico Maria Taxman, Missouri Jeannette Hernandez Pranger, Missouri F.H. Guzman, Tennessee Raul Lopez, Tennessee Sylvia Marcela Gomez, Tennessee Adryana Boyne, Texas Jacob Monty, Texas Jenny De La Rosa, Texas Jose Cuevas, Texas Rick Jaramillo, Texas Rolando Pablos, Texas Massey Villareal, Texas Nina Vaca, Texas Ted Cruz, Texas Tom Covino, Texas Sylvia Haro, Utah Jacqueline Krick, Virginia Jo- Ann Chase, Virginia Luis Quinonez, Virginia
Ralph Nader is the independent presidential candidate and Matt Gonzalez is his running mate. Wednesday October 15, Ralph Nader will speak at Cooper Union (NYC) at six p.m. and the following day the independent presidential candidate at noon "Ralph will take to the street in front of the NYSE to protest the bailout at Federal Hall, 26 Wall St. NYC." Team Nader notes the blackout on the campaign by some outlets (blackout and distortions):
While local AP bureaus have done an excellent job in many states covering the Nader/Gonzalez campaign, we have noticed what can only be described as a 'lights out' policy from AP's Washington, DC national political desk. After waiting six months for a national AP news story, we get a third party story that is really about Barr ("Bailout angst provides a push for Libertarian Barr.") You couldn't even dedicate resources inside AP to research our campaign and write up the story, though given the present state of repair, Mr Runyan was probably less biased than what you would have offered from in house.We are running third place, polling 100% higher than Barr according to Ipsos, have been warning on the financial crisis for two decades, and have a thoughtful alternative proposal to the bailout that would work for Americans. Nader is also polling 4-8 per cent in six swing states and has raised almost $4 million dollars--about four times as much as Barr.And for that, we get a squib marginalized by a headline. The AP's treatment of this campaign to date will go down in history as a blight on your professionalism--allowing personal animosity to black out your role of informing people of the important things that are happening. Your sports writers did a considerably better job in Beijing than your politics desk is doing this election in Washington, DC. There were ample reports about Americans who won bronze medals, coming in third place, exactly where Nader is sitting right now. To add insult to injury, the Olympics is only 2.5 weeks, and we have been in this contest for over six months. When did it become the role of the press to only write about winning candidates, winning corporations, and winning sports teams, completely blacking out everything else no matter how thoughtful, interesting, or relevant to the discourse and development of the nation?It is simply unbelievable that you have done nothing on Nader's bailout plan. As the most relied upon news organization for print media in the world, one would expect a shred of professionalism for the third-highest ranked Presidential candidate. Every day, we hear from people that say they did not even know Nader was running. When he pulls in more than a million votes on November 4th, and many more people see his name on the ballot for the first time in print (as his name will be before roughly twice as many voters this time), they will wonder what in the heck the news media was doing for them to have not yet heard he was running. One national story all campaign does not a newswire make. I hope you take the opportunity to return to your proud traditions which are quickly turning into receding laurels. As the government continues to do a new multi-billion dollar bailout each week, the least you could do is a story on Nader's alternative plan to the bailouts. See below a release detailing it. http://www.votenader.org/media/2008/09/16/meltdown/Not a happy camper,Toby HeapsNational Media Coordinator202 471 5833Feel free to reach out to Donna, and ask why she hasn't done one national story on us since launch, a story on the bailout, and Nader's alternative plan, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-641-9421
If Donna is not responsive, try the Washington Bureau chief, Ron Fournier, email@example.com, 202-641-9402
In addition, Team Nader is launching a "What's your breaking point?" series where you are invited to share your stories with the campaign (via Communications Director Loralynne Krobetzky -- firstname.lastname@example.org).
iraqmcclatchy newspapersleila fadelthe los angeles timesned parkerthe washington postkaren deyoung
the new york timescampbell robertsonthe times of londondeborah haynescorinne reillymary beth sheridantim albone