I'm Ann Wilson, Cedric's wife, filling in for Ruth while she's in Japan.
Can you believe we've made it almost through June? I'm sure you miss Ruth as much as I do. But how often does someone get to take such an exotic vacation?
Tonight I'm blogging about . . . blogging.
A question keeps popping up in the e-mails and I guess I should address that first: Will I start my own site?
I have no idea.
I could see it happening; however, I'm filling in for Mike next. He and Elaine are going to -- wait.
The Third Estate Sunday Review's Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, and Ava,
Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude,
Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man,
C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review,
Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills),
Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix,
Mike of Mikey Likes It!,
Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz,
Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts
Trina of Trina's Kitchen
Wally of The Daily Jot,
Marcia of SICKOFITRDLZ
and Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends.
That's a trick Kat recommended. Just swipe that from Third and you have your links.
Okay, Mike and Elaine are taking a vacation to Hawaii next month and I am filling in for Mike.
After that, I'll probably think about whether or not to do my own site.
Susan e-mailed to tell me that I'd barely mentioned music and to ask what the hardest part was?
Seriously, I should have mentioned music and I'm so very sorry that I haven't.
I've honestly been in a Stevie Wonder mood lately. I've listened to Talking Book and I think to Natural Wonder. I think. It's a double disc and it's a live album. It's Cedric's and I only recently found it on the CD shelf. Talking Book I've heard my entire life. My parents had it on vinyl.
For me, the best song on the album is "I Believe When I Fall In Love With You" and I love the way he sings it. The only person who has ever matched Stevie is George Michael.
I also like George a lot but I only have his Faith CD.
Cedric downloads now but I'm still a purchase the disc type person.
So there was some music talk for Susan (and I'm sure Julia loved it as well).
Is it easy?
That's Jobey's question. I think he should start a blog. But sometimes it's easy and some nights I have no idea what I'm going to write, I'm yawning, I'm about to fall over and just trying to type something -- anything -- as quickly as I can.
Eli e-mailed to ask if it made me appreciate C.I.'s work "all the more"? Absolutely.
C.I. maintains a focus on Iraq that's amazing and every day has to write about Iraq, several times. Somehow C.I. does and keeps us all informed.
I couldn't do it.
But I have respect for everyone. For example, Trina's got a very busy life before you add in a new granddaughter, her first grandchild, whom she's helping to raise. That's a lot. Or Rebecca with her baby and, if I go through, I really get amazed at how hard so many people work. That includes Wally and my husband Cedric. Those two work really hard. They toss things out at each other over the phone and there have been nights where they've been on the phone for an hour trying to get something to work, to make it funny. They work really hard.
And, honestly, before I filled in for Ruth, my thoughts were some time, "Hey, it's one day." Meaning, "Don't worry so much." But they work really hard because people expect them to be funny unless they're doing a rare serious post.
C.I. slid over an e-mail to me that came in from a visitor writing the public account. He wrote, "Do you really believe that Hillary would have been any better?"
I assume the rest of that question is "than Barack?" Yes, I do.
Hillary would have been held accountable and feet to the fire from day one.
Hillary also knew the ropes on health care where Barry's refusal to present his own plan really just reveals that he's not given it a great deal of thought. I also believe Hillary would offer a genuine public option.
I think we'd be much better off with Hillary as president.
I believe the country would be better off and the left would be better off. On the latter, we'd have someone we'd treat like an adult and not like a super hero. We'd be active and we'd be demanding what we need. And I do believe Hillary (unlike Barack) listens.
Okay, that's it for me tonight. This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"
Friday, June 26, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, Iraqi oil garners attention, the pull-out becomes a ring around the roses, the Defense Department announces a death, Barack talks Iraq (briefly), and more.
Violence continues this morning in Iraq. Alissa J. Rubin and Campbell Robertson (New York Times) explain a Baghdad motorcycle suicide bombing which has claimed multiple lives. Nizar Latif (The National) reports the bomb was "packed with nails and ball-bearings, designed to make the blast even more deadly". CNN counts the dead to be 15 with another forty-six injured. Abdul Rahman Dhaher, Missy Ryan, Michael Christie, Tim Cocks, Sophie Hares and Bill Trott (Reuters) add, "Shredded shoes and bits of bloody clothing were scattered around the twisted frames of motorbikes. The blast site was swiftly sealed off by Iraqi soldiers and police."
The motorcyle bombing was the second in Baghdad this week. The first was Wednesday's which resulted in at least 78 deaths. That wasn't a suicide bombing, however, the bomber was said to have fled the motorcyle (used to pull explosives hidden beneath produce) before it exploded. Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports the third took place Friday night in Baghdad and resulted in the death of 1 man and left three more injured. In other violence . . .
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Mosul roadside bombing which claimed the life of 1 Iraqi soldier and wounded two more. Reuters notes Thursday included a Mosul car bombing which claimed the life of 1 Iraqi soldiers, a Baghdad overnight mortar attack which left four people injured and a Baghdad roaside bombing which injured two people.
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports Iraqi security forces in Mosul shot dead a suspected bomber. Reuters drops back to the Thursday to note: "Gunmen wearing military uniforms attacked a convoy carrying a senior criminal judge in Mosul on Thursday, wounding one of his bodyguards, police said. The judge was not hurt."
Today the Defense Department announced a death (one MNF never reported): "Spc Casey L. Hills, 23 of Salem, Illinois died June 24 in Iraq of injuries sustained during a vehicle roll-over. He was assiagned to the 100th Battalion, 442nd Infantry Regiment, Pago Pago, American Samoa. The circumstnaces surrounding the incident are under investigation." The announcement brought the number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war to 4315.
Turning to the US, yesterday's Free Speech Radio News featured a report on the latest Winter Soldier by Iraq Veterans Against the War. Click here for the segment.Manuel Rueda: At home Iraq Veterans Against the War, a grassroots organization of vets opposed to US wars, continues to organize Winter Soldier hearings across the country. It´s a venue where veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan can tell stories from their war days, in a venue where veterans can tell stories from their war days in an environment that's safe and supportive. Leo Paz reports from Los Angeles. Leo Paz: Ryan Endicott is a former Marine Corporal who did multiple tours in Iraq and returned to the US in 2006. He talked about what it's like for US marines to enforce martial law in a foreign country. Ryan Endicott: Young boys 18 to 22 are having martial law over a group of people. It's complete oppression and it actually borders on the line of terrorism. I mean you strap dead bodies to your Humvee and drive around a city with it, that's terrorism. That's scaring a group of people into your beliefs -- into your belief system and structure and that's exactly what we're doing, we're terrorizing them.Leo Paz: Corporal Endicott who was in Ar Ramadi Iraq says these were not isolated incidents but daily occurrences. Ryan Endicott: Every single day, every time you kick in a door and drag a man out of his bed in the middle of the night, that's terrorism. That's not -- we're not saving people that's not liberation. You don't liberate people by -- by kicking in their doors in and arresting people by mass numbers by shooting them that's not liberation, that's occupation. Leo Paz: Some of the soldiers recalled the harsh treatment of Iraqi civilians stopped at the numerous checkpoints installed by the US throughout the country. Former Marine Corporal Christopher Gallagher compared the checkpoints in Haditha and Falluja to herding cattle. Christopher Gallagher: If any Iraqis voiced their opinion for the way they were being treated the Iraqi police -- we had a checkpoint -- would handle the situation by harassing and assaulting them. Leo Paz: According to Gallagher when the US military went door to door in the middle of the night, raiding homes to eliminate any resistance to the occupation, Iraqis held massive protests. Gallagher described the typical US response to this protest. Christopher Gallagher: In 2004 the Iraqis would hold protests in the town of Haditha against the occupation typical response for this was to have fighter jets fly over the crowd and scare them away. Leo Paz: Corporal Endicott questioned the sanitized version of war portrayed in mainstream American media. Ryan Endicott: What should be on the media is the thousands of doors that are kicked in every day and the thousands of people that are terrorized by the US soldiers that are pumped up on adrenaline and just looking to kill people. I mean there's plenty of people that joined the military just to kill people. Leo Paz: Endicott is one of many vets who denounced the indiscriminate shooting of civilians by US military. Devon Read a former Marine infantry Sgt who took part in the invasion of Iraq in 2003 saw comrades anxious to fire at whatever came in their path. He told people at winter soldier about driving through Nazaria, speeding on the way to Baghdad, on the back of a Humvee and Marines in his unit shooting randomly at people in houses. Devon Read: You know, none of the grunts that wanted to shoot people really cared about that. If it was an opportunity to shoot someone, they'd be shooting. So there's two of us on my side of the vehicle and three guys on the other side of the vehicle and we're facing outboard and suddenly the guys on the other side of the vehicle start shooting and I'm curious what the heck they're shooting at but I can't really look because I'm paying attention to my side and the other guy that's with me decides to switch sides, switches over to the other side and starts shooting also. And I finally take a moment to look and I'm looking and they're all just shooting wildly. Leo Paz: Sgt. Reed was appalled by the random gunfire and wondered how many civilians had been shot by US troops that day. Devon Read: There's, you know, people in windows way off in the distance, who really knows? Plenty of civilians with their -- poking their heads out of the window but its just someone to shoot at and there's shooting going on so no one's going to ask any questions if they start pulling the trigger too. So everyone starts shooting randomly and I talk to everyone after and none of them had any idea what they were shooting at or why. Leo Paz: Many Vietnam war vets showed up to support the IVAW and the Iraq veterans in denouncing war and violence. Ed Garza an army gunner with the 173rd airborne Brigade still has nightmares forty years after the war. Ed Garza: I remember the dead bodies and I remember seeing them and I remember we used to kill the Vietnamese and we'd put our patch on them To remind the other Vietnamese in the area that uh that we were there, the 173rd airborne. So those are some of the things I remember. Leo Paz: According to a study conducted by Iraqi doctors, and published in a British medical journal, Iraqi dead are in the hundreds of thousands since the US invasion in 2003, Afghan civilians are estimated at more than 10,000 dead. Now into the 8th year of the war, more than 5,000 soldiers have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan according to the US military. Leo Paz, FSRN.
Staying with resistance to illegal wars, Australia's The Guardian (The Worker's Weekly) carries an interview by Elsa Rassbach with war resister Andre Shepherd who is appealing for asylum in Germany after having served one tour of Iraq already.
Elsa Rassbach: Since the "war on terror" began, there have been many US soldiers who have spoken out and many who have refused to serve. But you are the first so far to apply for asylum in Germany. What are the grounds on which your application is based?
Andre Shepherd: Well, it's very simple: In the war of aggression against the Iraqi people, the United States violated not only domestic law, but international law as well. The US government has deceived not only the American public, but also the international community, the Iraqi community, as well as the military community. And the atrocities that have been committed there these past six years are great breaches of the Geneva Conventions. My applying for asylum is based on the grounds that international law has been broken and that I do not want to be forced to fight in an illegal war.
Elsa Rassbach: In your asylum application, you mention the Principles of the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg, which were incorporated in the UN Charter. In Nuremberg, the chief US prosecutor, Robert H Jackson, stated: "To initiate a war of aggression, therefore, is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole." In opening the trial on behalf of the United States, he stated that "while this law is first applied against German aggressors, this law includes and if it is to serve a useful purpose it must condemn aggression by any other nations, including those which sit here now in judgment." What does Nuremberg mean to you?
Andre Shepherd: The Nuremberg statutes are the foundation of many US soldiers' refusal of the Iraq war and to some extent of the Afghanistan war. The United States with its allies after World War II crafted these laws stating that even though you've gotten orders to commit crimes against humanity, you don't have to follow them, because every person has their own conscience. That was more than 60 years ago. Today the US government seems to be under the impression that those rules do not apply to it. In invading Iraq, they did not wait for a UN mandate, they didn't let the inspectors do their job, and they made up stories about who's a real threat. This is totally violated everything stated in the Nuremberg statutes. The US Constitution states that the US is bound to our international treaties, for example with the UN. When we ignore the UN, we are violating the US Constitution, which every US soldier is sworn to uphold. And the US must also respect our own very strict laws against war crimes and torture. Since the Obama administration refuses to investigate and prosecute the previous administration, it's clear to me that the Obama administration is an accomplice to the previous administration's crimes. They're setting a very dangerous precedent for the future of the world, something I don't want to see. The German people are well aware of the history; it is here that the Nuremberg tenets were first set down. Now we have to find a way to restore those tenets, to actually respect the Nuremberg tenets as well as the Geneva Conventions. Germany needs to tell the US, "Look, you guys helped create these laws, and now you guys should abide by your own rules."
On Iraq, the second hour of NPR's The Diane Rehm Show featured Michael Hersh of Newsweek, Elise Labot of CNN and Warren Strobel of McClatchy Newspapers and Iraq was addressed early on.
Diane Rehm: Michael Hirsh, there have been bomb attacks all across the country in Iraq this week. What's going on?
Michael Hirsh: Well you have what remains of the insurgency trying to forment sectarian violence and war to get them back to -- very close to the civil war in Iraq they were at in 2006 as the US prepares for this dramatic withdrawal from Iraqi cities which is really effectively the end of George W. Bush's surge. The surge was all about putting American troops on the front-line in the cities. It worked along with other aspects of change policy. So this is a -- this is a very, very critical moment, perhaps the most critical moment since the beginning of the insurgency in Iraq War.
Diane Rehm: But why this week is it an attempt to get the US to change it's mind? is it a protest, what is it, Warren?
Warren Strobel: I think it's an attempt to portray the US withdrawal as a retreat by the insurgents. We saw similar stuff happen in Gaza a few years ago when the Israelis withdrew and Hamas was trying to do this, so that's -- that's part of it. I totally agree with Michael. I think this at least the most critical moment in Iraq since the surge began -- if not since the insurgency began. I mean this is a really, really critical point and uh it's -- we're going to see whether the Iraqi security forces all the money and training we've thrown into them can handle this.
Diane Rehm: That's a huge question, Elise.
Elise Labott: And it's not just the American troops that are leaving. They're taking with them this whole infrastructure of support and logistics and intelligence that the Iraqis have come to rely on. I mean you have intelligence satellites, cameras, bomb-sniffing dogs, medical evacuations. All of these things that the Iraqis have kind of come to rely on that they're not going to have anymore. And I think on Warren and Michael's point, it's not just about trying to portray it as a retreat, I think it's also trying to show, um, that the Iraqi government of Nouri al-Maliki is not suit -- able to handle this. And I think what we need to see right now is whether you're going to start to see the development of militias that we saw in 2005 when there was a lack of confidence in the government to be able to protect the people.
Michael Hirsh: There will continue to be a quiet presence of the US special forces and intelligence
Diane Rehm: Yes --
Michael Hirsh: In addition --
Diane Rehm: -- in what numbers?
Michael Hirsh: We don't know. As well as uh obviously surveillance from the skies And let's not forget either that uh, you know, Maliki has an air force, the US air force which is actually both his artillery and his air force and proved to be very effective when he first began cracking down on the militias as he did in Basra. So it's not a total withdrawal nor will it be, I believe, even when we supposedly fully pull out at the end of 2011. But it is a real, real test for Maliki's leadership and, as Warren said, the training of the Iraqi forces.
Diane Rehm: So what is the mood of the Iraqi people as the US prepares to withdraw, Elise?
Elise Labott: Well I think they're kind of ambivalent about it. On one hand they're ready to see the Americans go. I mean this is the last true symbolism of their sovereignty but at the same time, the reports that we hear from Iraq is that a lot of Iraqis aren't really looking for the United States to leave, they're worried as to whether the government can handle this and I think it is, it's going to be looking to the government to pick up the slack. They're not sure if Nouri al-Maliki is able to do it.
Warren Strobel: Well I think they wanted us to leave [laughing] until we actually started to leave. And now some at least Some people are having second thoughts.
Elise Labott: You don't know what you've got till it's gone.
Warren Strobel: Exactly. And there was this guy quoted in the paper from Sadr City, a huge Shi'ite neighborhood in Baghdad, expressing great concern about the pull-out of a specific, I guess it was a US security station maybe it was a joint-security station there, about what would happen next. I mean I agree with Michael that we're still going to have a lot of US assets there but the American ability to influence the situation has been steadily declining and it's going to decline a lot more in the coming months.
Elise Labott: I think you also started to see the US and the Iraqis working to implement of the US withdrawing from the cities but maybe trying to fudge the lines of what the city constitutes so that some forces could stay but at the same time technically they're outside of the cities. And the US acknowledges that it's very difficult because it's time for the Iraqis to stand up on their own. The longer the Americans are there, the Iraqis are going to become dependent on them they need to be seen as leaving for the Iraqis to step up.
Diane Rehm: What about rebuilding those cities? To what extent might that begin to take place? And do the Iraqis themselves have to go about doing that? Where do they get money, Michael?
Michael Hirsh: Well I mean obviously the oil, their oil industry is back on line to some degree. Accompanying this development of US withdrawal you finally have serious interest by US oil companies and wri-- agree to contracts that they have been unwilling to do up until now because of the violence. So they'll be getting additional revenues from that but this is -- this is also a very good test for Maliki. One is security, the other is rebuilding. You still have long periods of blackouts in Baghdad. You know, six years or more into this, you have very, very poor infrastructure and a lot of unhappiness among the Iraqis.
Diane Rehm: Michael Hersh of Newsweek, Elise Labot of CNN, Warren Strobel of McClatchy.
As for the pull-out from Iraqi cities, Jane Arraf (Christian Science Monitor) reveals, that instead of being in the cities, US forces will "encircle them," "put in place in the belts around those cities and in areas that are potential flashpoints of Kurdish-Arab tension. . . . The plan keeps US advisers within the cities, and in Mosul redeploys battalions that had been within the city to the surrounding areas." Ernesto Londono (Washington Post) reports that while "[t]housands of U.S. combat troops will remain at a handful of bases in Baghdad and on the outskirts of other restive cities, such as Mosul and Kirkuk, in nothern Iraq, past the June 30 deadline" and that this has US military officials worried that US service members as well as Iraqis will be put at risk in the new holding pattern Barack's created. Stop the holding pattern, just bring the troops home.
At the White House today, President Barack Obama met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and he spoke about Iraq when NPR's Don Gonyea asked about Iraq's "upsurge in violence; a lot of bombings, a lot of deaths, does that give you any second thoughts on the coming deadline to pull the combat troops from the cities?"
Barack Obama: On Iraq, obviously any time there's a bombing in Iraq we are concerned. Any time there's loss of innocent life or the loss of military personnel, we grieve for their families and it makes us pay attention. I will tell you if you look at the overall trend, despite some of these high-profile bombings, Iraq's security situation has continued to dramatically improve. And when I speak to General [Ray] Odierno and Chris Hill, our ambassador in Iraq, they continue to be overall very positive about the trend lines in Iraq. I think there's still some work to do. I think the Maliki government is not only going to have to continue to strengthen its security forces, but it's also going to have to engage in the kind of political give and take leading up the national elections that we've been talking about for quite some time. And I haven't seen as much political progress in Iraq, negotiations between the Sunni, the Shia, and the Kurds, as I would like to see.
So there are always going to be -- let me not say "always" -- there will continue to be incidents of violence inside of Iraq for some time. They are at a much, much lower level than they were in the past. I think the biggest challenge right now is going to be less those attacks by remnants of al Qaeda in Iraq or other insurgent groups, and the bigger challenge is going to be, can the Shia, the Sunni, and the Kurds resolve some of these major political issues having to do with federalism, having to do with boundaries, having to do with how oil revenues are shared. If those issues get resolved, then I think you will see a further normalization of the security atmosphere inside of Iraq.
Later at the White House, spokesmodel Robert Gibbs was asked to clarify Barack's statement ("express some of the things the president is hoping for and what is he intending to do about that?") and he responded, "Well -- I mean -- Obviously, he's met continually with Ambassador Hill. Obviously, the stops -- or the meetings -- that we made during the stop in Baghdad on the -- I guess that was in late March, early April -- Obviously, without getting specific, there continues to be progress in terms of political reconciliation in terms of oil and hydrocarbons that, as move throughout a year -- a very important year -- of elections in Iraq, again, proving that it will take the steps necessary to govern its country." Interesting and telling that Gibbs would go straight to the theft-of-Iraqi-oil law.
Staying with oil, when you're caught serving up US government propaganda at the start of the week, you'd think you'd keep your head low for the rest of the week. Not only do your talking points end up on the US government propaganda outlet Voice of America (and all its spin-offs with "Radio Free . . ." in the title), but you're rah-rah Nouri talking point is slapped down by Anthony Shadid (Washington Post) and public events slap down your 'Western companies aren't going to do oil business in Iraq!'. But apparently you woke up yesterday begging for a beating which is why Timothy Williams offers up "Warily Moving Ahead on Oil Contracts" in this morning's New York Times. In the real world, AP offers a list of the Big Oil countries rushing in to bid on Iraqi oil and we'll note their first eight countries on the list:UNITED STATES: Chevron, ConocoPhilips, Exxon Mobil, Hess Corp., Marathon International Petroleum Ltd., and Occidental Petroleum Corp. United Kingdom: BP Group PLC. Japan: Inpex Holdings Inc., Japex and Nippon Oil Corp. Australia: BHP Billiton Ltd. and Woodside Petroleum Ltd. China: China's CNOOC Ltd., CNPC International Ltd., Sinochem International Co. Ltd., and Sinopec Shanghai Petrochemical co. Ltd. Italy: Edison International SPA and Eni. Russia: JSC Lukoil and JSC Gazprom Neft. France: Total SA. Anthony DiPaola (Bloomberg News) explains that Exxon and Shell are foaming at the bit and they are only 8 "of the world's top 10 non-state oil producers" who are rushing to cash in on Iraq oil. Sinan Salaheddin's "Big Oil poised for return to Iraq" (AP) explains the basics. While Timothy Williams played the violins for Big Oil on Monday and begged for a greater theft of Iraqi oil, Ahmed M. Jiyad (UPI) details what the contracts actually allow and concludes, "Considering the above and their possible implications it seems these model related to the first bidding round do not and could not deliver the best interest for the Iraqi people, and probably this explains the growing opposition to them." Reuters explains, "Here are some facts about Iraq's oil industry" in this report which points out: "Iraq's oil has been coveted by foreign powers for decades." Also of interest, Christopher Helman's "Cashing In On Iraqi Oil" (Forbes). Earlier this month, IVAW's Aaron Hughes reported on his trip to Erbil for the International Labor Conference in Iraq at US Labor Against War at which a resolution was passed "against the draft oil and gas law" :The conference was set up to bring together the major labor constituencies from across Iraq to form a confederation based on worker rights. At the end of our second day, the eve of the conference, workers from fifteen of Iraq's eighteen provinces began to arrive. There were representatives from Iraq's oil and gas industry, its port union, the electrical generation and distribution industry, construction, public sector, transportation, communications, education, rail roads, service and health care industries, machinists and metal working sector, the petro-chemical industry, civil engineers, writers and journalists, food oil workers, tailors and students.The historical nature of the conference was clear. This opportunity for the international community and the workers across Iraq to show solidarity was long overdue. After the United States invaded Iraq and set up the provisional government, a new constitution was drafted that included worker rights. However, at the same time, Paul Bremer, head of the Coalition Provisional Authority, retained Saddam Hussein's labor laws.
[. . .]
Leading by exmaple is the Iraq Federation of Oil Unions (IFOU) lead by its president Hassan Juma'a Awad, which exploded in size over the past four years to over 25,000 members. It is the strongest and most powerful union in Iraq and is also extremely militant in regards to workers rights. For example, the union has protested, gone on strike, and used direct non-violent tactics to force the British occupation forces to stand down and furthermore drove the US contractor KBR from the oil fields near Basra.
In their 2008 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices (from February 25, 2009), the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor notes:"The constitution provides the right to form and join unions and professional associations, subject to regulating law. Labor Law 150 of 1987, enacted by the Saddam government, ...declared virtually all public sector workers to be government 'executives,' and therefore legally ineligible to form or to join unions, a move that, in effect, eliminated unions and the right of association from the public sector. In the private sector, the extant 1987 Trade Union Organization Law ...was also intended, in practice, to remove the right of association from a majority of private sector workers, because most private sector businesses employ fewer than 50 workers. Decree 8750 of 2005, which cancelled unions' leadership boards, froze their assets, and formed an inter-ministerial committee to administer unions' assets and assess their capacity to resume activity, also inhibited union activity. The laws and decree do not prohibit anti-union discrimination by employers or others. In addition to this oppressive legal and regulatory framework, violence and insecurity, high unemployment, and maladapted labor organizational structures inhibited the exercise of labor rights."Throughout the conference, in moments here and there, over sips of tea, in the hallway between talks, over a meal of lamb and rice, or in the marble floored lobby I had the opportunity to speak with the different labor leaders. Their stories were hopeful and humble. They were filled with courageous acts of resistance against the many odds stacked against them. Their government does not legally recognize unions and organizing in the public sector (seventy percent of the economy) is illegal. Union assets are frozen and confiscated. The US military has raided union leaders' homes and occupied factories and plants. The local militias target union leaders and female workers. Despite these odds, the unions are organizing, growing and winning.
Last week, Andy Rowell (Oil Change) noted the Independent's report on the "public fury" in Iraq as "the country is handing over control of its fields to foreign companies." And you can also refer to an article by Gina Chon (Wall St. Journal). Rowell also notes a cartoon by Peter Brookes (Times of London) about the Iraq inquiry in England and concludes, "Whether the inquiry is in secret or public, one thing is certain an inquiry is unlikely to tell us whether Iraq was ever about oil." The Great Britain's Socialist Worker observes, "The row over the transparency, or otherwise, of the inquiry into the war on Iraq has exposed the continuing influence of Tony Blair on the Labour Party -- and the weakness of Gordon Brown. Blair put pressure on Brown to ensure that the inquiry into the war would be held in private." They conclude that testimony and evidence should be submitted by peace activists and they should "hold protests at MPs' surgeries to demand that the warmongers are brought to justice."
Not interested in the oil and despite foreign forces and foreign media leaving the country, Sister Maria Hanna has no intention of leaving. She explains to Carmen Blanco (Catholic Spirit), "I am committed to staying in Iraq for those who remain: the poor, the vulnerable, the widows and their chilren." Blanco adds, "Sister Hanna, a member of the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena in Mosul, Iraq, visited Washington in June to talk about her work and to give Catholic agencies and organizations an update on current conditions in the country. She has set goals to build schools and hospitals for those remaining in Iraq and to give hope to all Iraqis."
TV notes. Coming up on NOW on PBS:American streets are littered with foreclosed houses, but one daring advocate says these homes shouldn't go to waste. He encourages and facilitates homeless squatting. It's an idea that addresses two issues at once - homelessness and foreclosed homes -- and it's also illegal.This week, NOW travels to Miami to meet with Max Rameau, an advocate for the homeless. Rameau's organization, Take Back the Land, identifies empty homes that are still livable, and tries to find responsible families willing to take the enormous legal risks of moving in.Rameau, who considers his mission an act of civil disobedience, says it's immoral to keep homes vacant while there are human beings living on the street. But while these squatters have morality in their hearts, they don't have the law on their side.With the faltering economy separating so many people from their homes, what's society's responsibility to those short on shelter?That and other PBS programming noted begin airing on many PBS stations tonight, check local listings. Only on PBS can you get crap like Gwen gas bagging with three men and one woman in 2009 and have that junk be considered 'appropriate' and 'diverse'. On Washington Week, Gloria Borger (US News & World Reports, CNN) is the lone woman. Pete Williams (NBC), David Sanger (NYT) and John Dickerson (Slate, CBS News) are the men. To actually see women address the week's issues, join Bonnie Erbe who sits down with Sam Bennett, Victoria Lipnic, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Tara Setmayer and Genevieve Wood on PBS' To The Contrary. Check local listings. And turning to broadcast TV, Sunday CBS' 60 Minutes offers:
The Cheaters 60 Mintes and The Washington Post reveal how online poker players suspecting cheating were forced to successfully ferret out the cheaters themselves. That's because managers of the mostly-unregulated $18 billion Internet gambling industry failed to respond to their complaints. Steve Kroft and The Washington Post's Gilbert Gaul report. Watch Video
Mind Reading Neuroscience has learned so much about how we think and the brain activity linked to certain thoughts that it is now possible - on a very basic scale - to read a person's mind. Lesley Stahl reports. Watch Video
Gorongosa American Greg Carr is using his great wealth to try to help some of the poorest people in Africa by attracting more tourists to their neighborhood - the beautiful national park of Gorongosa in Mozambique. Scott Pelley reports. Watch Video
60 Minutes, Sunday, June 28, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.
On this week's White House plant in the press conference, please check out this video from Newsy. The Hurt Locker opens in Los Angeles and New York today and opens July 10th in San Francisco, Dallas, Chicago, Atlanta, Austin, Oahu, Portland, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, San Diego, Minneapolis, Denver, Toronto and DC. Kenneth Turan gives it a rave review in "The Hurt Locker" (Los Angeles Times):
"The Hurt Locker" has the killer impact of the explosive devices that are the heart of its plot: It simply blows you apart and doesn't bother putting you back together again. Overwhelmingly tense, overflowing with crackling verisimilitude, it's both the film about the war in Iraq that we've been waiting for and the kind of unqualified triumph that's been long expected from director Kathryn Bigelow.
free speech radio newsleo paziraq veterans against the wardevon readchristopher gallagherryan endicott
the washington postanthony shadid
us labor against the war
gina chonthe wall street journal
ahmed m. jiyadanthony dipaolacarmen blanco
60 minutescbs newsto the contrarybonnie erbenow on pbsnprthe diane rehm showpbs
the los angeles timeskenneth turankathryn bigelow