Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The gun debate

I hope you already read Mike's "Guns aren't the problem in America, the culture of violence is" last night.  If not, please do.  And a big thank you to Mike for covering the topic for me so I could cover The Client List last night.  David Walsh pursues a similar point of view to Mike's at WSWS:

In his comments Monday, Obama downplayed the social and political tensions in America. “I know sometimes,” the president asserted, “when you watch cable news or talk radio, or you browse the Internet, you’d think, man, everybody just hates each other, everybody is just at each other’s throats. But that’s not how most Americans think about these issues. There are good people on both sides of every issue.”

This is a red herring. The essential division in America is not between those who advocate gun control and those opposing it, or between Democrat and Republican, but between the ruling political and economic elite, on the one hand, who control every important aspect of life, and the working population, on the other, who make up the overwhelming and disenfranchised majority of the American people. That divide has widened to unprecedented and nearly unbearable proportions.

The population at present is under an all-sided attack on its jobs, retirement benefits, working and living conditions, medical care, educational opportunities and democratic rights. A wealthy handful view broad layers of the people as nothing more than easy pickings for financial plunder or cannon fodder for its neo-colonial wars.

The economic and psychological security of tens of millions has been dealt devastating blows. Vast numbers of Americans see little between them and the social abyss.

US authorities are pursuing relentless militarism and violence in every part of the globe. The president and his military-intelligence apparatus have arrogated to themselves the right to make war on any country or individual who steps out of line, or merely threatens to. The problem of CIA “black sites” and illegal detention has been reduced through recourse to a policy of murdering political opponents.

Meanwhile Stephanie Condon (CBS News -- link is text and video) reports, "A pair of bipartisan senators on Wednesday announced they've reached an agreement over a bill to expand background checks for gun sales, marking a significant first step as Congress attempts to tackle the thorny issue of gun control. While the Senate is now one step closer to actually voting on the legislation, the bill's fate remains far from certain, its authors acknowledged."

This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for today: 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013.  Chaos and violence continue, 12 (out of 18) provinces get ready for elections, Iraqi media complains that candidates don't want to deal with issues, western media grabs whatever narrative Nouri feeds them, crimes against women continue in Iraq, western media refuses to seriously address these crimes, the State Dept issues a statement on antiquities, and more.

Starting with politics.  First, Michele Kort (Ms. magazine's blog) notes British MP Glenda Jackson's speech today (link is text and video -- including a video of the speech and a video of Women in Love --  a film for which Glenda won one of her two Best Actress Academy Awards):

When I made my maiden speech in this chamber a little over two decades ago …. Thatcherism was still wreaking, as it had wreaked for the previous decade, the most heinous social, economic and spiritual upon this country, upon my constituency and my constituents. …
Our local hospitals were running on empty … I tremble to think what the death rate for pensioners would have been this winter if that version of Thatcherism had been fully up and running this year. ….
The plaster on our classroom walls were kept in place by pupils’ artwork and miles and miles of Sellotape ….  Our school libraries were dominated by empty shelves ….
But by far, by far, the most dramatic and heinous demonstration of Thatcherism … [was that] every single shop doorway, every single night, became the bedroom, the living room, the bathroom of the homeless. …

Still on politics but moving to the US Senate, Senator Patty Murray is the Chair of the Senate Budget Committee, prior to January, she was the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.  Her office issued the following statement today:

 April 10, 2013 
CONTACT: Murray Press Office
(202) 224-2834 

Senator Murray’s Statement on President Obama’s VA Budget 

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray, Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee and former Chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, issued the following statement on the President’s Fiscal Year 2014, and Fiscal Year 2015 advance appropriation, budget request for the Department of Veterans Affairs. 
 “The budget request President Obama unveiled today provides reassurance for our veterans in an extremely difficult fiscal climate. It represents a more than 4% increase in discretionary spending over the VA budget request last year and it provides critical help in the areas of mental health care, veterans unemployment, and female veterans’ health care. With a major influx of veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan seeking care at the VA, there is no question that the investments this budget makes are sorely needed. 
“I was glad to see the President’s budget request mirrors many of the same protections for our veterans that were included in the Senate-passed budget last month. However, I will continue to work with the VA on the few areas of concern I have in this budget, including ending the shameful and unnecessary backlog of disability claims within the system. We must support our nation’s heroes not only with the benefits and care they deserve, but also with doing so in an efficient and timely manner.”
Meghan Roh
Press Secretary | New Media Director
Office of U.S. Senator Patty Murray
Mobile: (202) 365-1235
Office: (202) 224-2834

There should be more on the topic above in tomorrow's snapshot when we cover a hearing on the topic.  Today, I attended a House Subcomittee hearing we may try to work in tomorrow.  At the request of a female Iraqi community member in Ramadi, we are focusing a good portion of this snapshot on crimes against women, sexism and the sexism of the western media.

Before we get there, still on elections, we move over to Iraq which is gearing up for elections -- or that's what the press insists.  Only 12 of Iraq's 18 provinces are scheduled to vote April 20th in provincial elections.

  1. Kurdistan Region presidential and parliamentary elections will be held before Sep 8th, 2013.

Barzani is the president of the Kurdistan Regional Government, the semi-autonomous region in northern Iraq. Erbil, Sulaymaniyah and Dohok Provinces make up the KRG.  That takes us from 12 to 15.  The other three provinces?

There's Kirkuk.

Kirkuk is disputed.  Baghdad and Erbil both claim the oil-rich province.  Chris Hill, failed US Ambassador to Iraq, infamously dismissed Kirkuk as an issue when appearing at his Senate confirmation hearing (see the March 25, 2009 snapshot and the March 26th one).  It's not 'a simple land dispute.'  A simple land dispute can be settled.

The Iraqi Constitution's Article 140 provided for the disputed regions.  It said that the prime minister would implement a census and hold a referendum and that would determine the fate.  Nouri is aware of that because he did participate in the writing of the Constitution.  He becomes prime minister in the spring of 2006.  The Constitution dictates that Article 140 be implemented by the end of 2007.  That was years ago.  It's never been implemented.  Nouri has failed to follow the Constitution.  And the result is that all this time later Kirkuk not only still remains in dispute, it also can't participate in provincial elections.

That takes us from 15 to 16 which still leaves 2 provinces not voting.  The other two?  Nouri has declared that Sunni strongholds Anbar Province and Nineveh Province will not vote.  He's declared them to violent, too prone to fraud, too this, too that.  Though the Electoral Commission is supposed to be independent and he doesn't sit on it, though the United Nations has said that the two provinces need to be included in the vote, Nouri says they won't vote.

As disturbing as that is, as huge an overstep as that is, what's even more alarming is how the western press whores for Nouri.  Alarming but not surprising.   March 8, 2010, we witnessed Quil Lawrence whoring for Nouri on NPR -- declaring Nouri got the most votes -- before even a third of the votes had been counted -- and, oh, by the way, Nouri's political slate State of Law didn't get the most votes, Iraqiya did.  But whoring is really all the press is good for.

Which is why they're running with the script he's supplying.  It's not reality but reality's never been a concern for the press.

The script Nouri's supplying is that the results of April 20th will demonstrate how popular he is.  Nouri will not win in the KRG.  That's three provinces.  Kirkuk's not voting.  That's four.  And the two provinces where Nouri is outright loathed?  He wouldn't carry Anbar or Nineveh.

Is Iraq made up of 18 provinces or not?  If it is, you can't judge popularity when you rig who gets to vote.  In addition, provincial elections can indicate national trends, they do not, however, reflect upon Nouri or anyone else who might be prime minister.  They're the equivalent, in the US, of election governors.  Barack Obama's popularity is not determined by who wins the governorship in Alaska or Alabama.  States are concerned with their own series of issues just as, in Iraq, provinces are concerned with their own issues.

Nouri tried to film this script in 2009 and the press was happy to greenlight it.  They ran with the nonsense -- all of them including the New York Times -- that it proved how Nouri was popular.  Yet the next year, as the same press was debating just how big of a win Nouri would have in the 2010 elections, Nouri didn't win.  His State of Law came in second.

It's amazing how damn lazy what passes for the western press is.  They can't think for themselves which is why they can't carry out the press corp role which is supposed to be skepticism.  They can't think for themselves so they swallow and spit back out any 'theme' someone feeds them.  If the 12 provincial elections this month are worth watching, they're worth watching only to see just how much whoring a lazy press can do.

And Iraqi media?  Al Hayat reports that TV stations in Iraq -- controlled by various political parties -- are pushing candidates but not informing their viewers of the candidate's platforms and Iraqi TV correspondents complain that it is difficult to get interviews with candidates, that when they do get interviews and difficult to hold candidates accountable -- and that's if you're state media and not technically controlled by a political party. 

The Kurdistan Region Presidency notes that KRG President Masoud Barzani met with the US State Dept's Brett McGurk this week to discuss tensions between Baghdad and Erbil: "President Barzani stressed the importance of genuine partnership and consensus-based decision-making in the Iraqi government and restated Kurdistan Regions position toward the political process in the country.  He added that a good start would be for the Iraqi government to undertake some concrete steps towards the resolution of the problems facing the country."  To empthasize the main point, Barzani Tweeted:

A good start would be for Iraqi gov to take some concrete steps to address problems facing country:

That would be a good step.  Such a step would require trust and Nouri's demonstrated that he is not to be trusted.  Last week, the ongoing protests in Iraq passed the 100-day remark.  Mustafa Habib (Niqash) reports:

Complaints have been being made for a while. But the demonstrations started seriously in late December 2012, after the Iraqi Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, arrested members of the country’s finance minister, Rafia al-Issawi’s body guards. Ten of them were accused of terrorism.  Al-Issawi is one of the country’s most senior Sunni Muslim officials and he comes from Anbar, where his tribe is very influential.

This comes on top of other arrests and attempted arrests of top Sunni Muslim politicians.

And the Sunni Muslim protestors have been taking to the streets ever since. Every Friday, they demonstrate and give the demonstration days similar names to those used by neighbouring countries as they went through their own revolutions during the so-called Arab spring.  

For example, among them, Fridays called: “no to a government of chaos”, “go” (as in, leave now al-Maliki) and “hand in hand to maintain our rights”.

In response, al-Maliki has formed several committees to look into protestors’ complaints. And the committees did issue a series of potential actions.

Al-Maliki has also continued to use a “carrot and stick” approach. His security forces continue to arrest people involved with the campaigns and imposing strict security regimes on Sunni Muslim-majority cities. This behaviour is in fact provoking the demonstrators even more.

On the other hand, the Prime Minister has also released some detainees, promised to re-appoint Sunni Muslim army officers who lost their jobs and cancelled several de-Baathification measures.

However the protestors say they do not trust other measures will be implemented, especially in regard to the government’s ongoing breach of trust.

“Unfortunately the protestors don’t trust al-Maliki because he is known for not keeping the promises he made to his opponents during the political process," said Ali Hatem Suleiman, a tribal leader and prime mover behind the protests in the Anbar province, who also played a large part in the US-founded initiative, the Awakening Movement, which was started to combat al-Qaeda in Iraq. 
Yesterday in London, Iraqis protested outside Parliament denouncing the tactics of Nouri's government.  One Iraqi woman carried a black sign with a large red "NO" and a large red "X."  Written on the sign in white -- in Arabic and in English were what she was saying "no" to:
to corruption
to Sectarianism
to Arbitrary Arrests
to Torture
to the Murders of Iraqis
to the Enemies of Iraq
These demands have been made against Nouri's government since the protests began.  Another poster, carried by a man, featured Tony Blair and billed him as "WORLD'S #2 TERRORIST & WAR CRIMINAL."

Two months ago, Iraqis also protested outside the British Parliament.  Signs carried at that demonstration had messages such as "END RAPES AGAINST WOMEN IN IRAQI PRISONS,"  "END THE POLITICISATION OF IRAQ'S JUDICIARY," "IN SOLIDARITY WITH THE POPULAR PROTEST MOVEMENT IN IRAQ AGAINST INJUSTICE, TYRANNY & THE LOSS OF RIGHTS" and "RELEASE THE INNOCENTS FROM MALIKI'S TORTURE PRISONS."  The protesters chanted, "1, 2, 3, 4, Maliki no more, 5, 6, 7, 8, stop the terror, stop the rape."

As DPA observed Friday, "Thousands of protesters have been holding protests for more than 100 days to demand that Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki repeal laws they claim target a section of the population."  That is one aspect of it.  The least reported aspect of it has been what has scandalized so many Iraqis, the rape and torture of women and girls and Iraqi prisons and detention centers.  A protester in London could and did put it on a sign ("END RAPES AGAINST WOMEN IN IRAQI PRSIONS") but the western press has tried so hard to bury that part of the story.  Few outlets have even bothered to mention it and no western outlets has reported on it.  Reporting on it would require note the Parliamentary committees that backed up the reports Nouri spent the month of November denying.  It's funny how news that's negative about Nouri never really makes the Western press.

It's amazing how far the press will go to disguise the realities of life for Iraqi women.  Amazing?  No, change that to appalling.  That's what Rebecca was getting at last night in "when a woman is killed it's a 'personal matter'" -- a crime is a crime . . . unless the victim is a woman and then the crime becomes a 'personal matter' that must not be discussed.  Which is how you get crap like AFP's "The Iraqi government on Sunday unveiled sweeping reforms to a law banning members of late President Saddam Hussein’s Baath party from public life, following ongoing protests by the country’s Sunni minority."

You know, AFP has three men in Iraq -- no women.  You think that might have something to do with their failure to cover women?  You think that might have something to do with their silence on the issue of rape?

With their lies and distortions?

AFP is lying about the Justice and Accountability law and commission.

Prashant Rao, can you please stop lying?  Can you stop deceiving the public?  Just once?

Let's apply the logic that reveals what a liar AFP is being.

You live in a country we'll call Justica.  In Justica there's Law A which prevents you from running for public office or holding senior government positions.  There's also Law B which allows the government to arrest your family members for crimes  you are suspected of.

In Justica, does Law A or Law B matter the most to you?

Since most people don't run for public office and since most people don't hold senior government positions?  Law B.

And it's Article IV that has so outraged the protesters -- not the Justice and Accountability which has outraged politicians and would be politicians.  Stop the lies.

I'm sick of the damn lies.

I'm sick of the sexism of AFP.  I'm sick of Jane Arraf's desire to try to blend in as a man.  We're supposed to be grateful that in all of her reports in the last four  months -- for Al Jazeera, for the Christian Science Monitor, for PBS (NewsHour), for PRI -- in all those reports, in one she mentioned the issue of the rapes and how they fuel the protests.

We shouldn't be grateful.  In November, I said Iraqis would be taking to the streets.  Not because I'm a psychic but because the rape scandal is exactly what leads people to be outraged.  A solid protests movement (not a single day protest) needs an ethical basis.

But they won't tell you about it, these western reporters, or they'll be Jane Arraf and offer it in sotto voice in one report and we're supposed to be grateful.  I'm not grateful for gender traitors who try to blend with men.

Article IV allows the Iraqi government to arrest the children, spouses, parents, siblings and other family members of a suspect.  Arrest them because they're suspected of crimes?  No, arrest them even though they're not suspected of anything.  Article IV made legal what the US military was already doing in Iraq: Terrorizing the public.  They couldn't get a hold of Mark Banner, they arrest his wife and hold her (in some cases, torture her) and use her as a hostage to force her husband's hand.  It's kidnapping plain and simple and it was that when the US military was doing it and it's kidnapping when Nouri's government does it.  This is how so many women and girls are in prison for 'terror' related offenses.

Unlike Prashant Rao and the pigs of AFP and AP, the Iraqi media has never ignored the rape charges.  They've reported it.    Here's Dr. Souad Al-Azzawi (URUKNET) explaining what was on Iraqi TV:

Al Maliki, occupation appointed Prime Minister of Iraq, appeared on Saturday, Feb. 2, 2013 on Arabia TV channel. The dialogue evolved around the protests of millions of Iraqis which have lasted more than 40 days. In this interview, Al Maliki emphasized that his government (occupation assigned) will not meet the demonstrators demands. He kept eluding and twisting facts about the humanitarian and justified demands the protesters. Nothing is unexpected in what he said or claimed because we all know in Iraq that he is an occupation puppet and would only serve American and Iranian occupation interests in Iraq.
What was disturbing and caught my attention was Maliki’s comments on the detention and torture of women in Iraqi prisons. He claimed that under law, a woman can be detained if she covers up the crimes of her husband. With this statement, Maliki claimed he had the answer to the angry protests all over Iraq calling for the release of all innocent women. Mothers, sisters, daughters and wives have been unjustly detained, tortured or raped, simply because they do not know the whereabouts of the men in their families. Thousands of women have been detained with no legal accusations. Some of them are imprisoned with their infants and children in unbearable prison conditions [1] just because Maliki claims that their husbands, brothers, or fathers have committed an act of terror.

Rape isn't a 'personal matter,' it's a crime.  And when western outlets look the other way, they're accomplices to rape.  I have no patience for this lying and this covering up.  Iraqi women damn well deserve better and how shameful that in all these months AFP has refused to report on rape.   Prashant Rao's immaturity is all over his Twitter feed.  It may even explain his inability to report on rape.  However, he's a paid journalist and immaturity doesn't excuse him or AFP.

Where's the western outlet that will tell the truth?  'We can't verify rape claims!'  Then report them as claims.

You know what else you couldn't verify?  Nouri's big releases of prisoners.  The provinces asked for a list of names of all these supposed releases.  Nouri's not given them one.  They originally said it would be late March.  It's been kicked back to May currently.  Without such a list, how does anyone who has been released or how many?  They don't know.  But the press was happy to run with Nouri's claims and assertions as facts.  It's a funny kind of one-sided world where despot Nouri's claims are treated as gospel but claims from Iraqi women -- claims verified by Parliamentary committees -- are ignored.

Last month, Dahr Jamail (Al Jazeera) reported:

Heba al-Shamary (name changed for security reasons) was released last week from an Iraqi prison where she spent the last four years.
“I was tortured and raped repeatedly by the Iraqi security forces,” she told Al Jazeera. “I want to tell the world what I and other Iraqi women in prison have had to go through these last years. It has been a hell.”
Heba was charged with terrorism, as so many Iraqis who are detained by the Iraqi security apparatus are charged.
“I now want to explain to people what is occurring in the prisons that [Prime Minister Nouri al-] Maliki and his gangs are running,” Heba added. “I was raped over and over again, I was kicked and beaten and insulted and spit upon.”
Heba’s story, horrific as it is, unfortunately is but one example of what a recent report from Amnesty International refers to as “a grim cycle of human rights abuses” in Iraq today.

We spent several snapshots covering that Amenesty report [see this March 11th entry aptly titled "Iraqi women and girls (and the silence on this topic)" and snapshots for March 11th, March 12th, and March 13th].  I'm very familiar with it.  So I'm aware that when Jane Arraf chose to report on it, it was really strange that she focused on a male prisoner saying they threatened to rape his wife in front of him -- as opposed to a woman in the report who was threatened herself.  Apparently, to Arraf, women are property and the thought of a rape in front of their 'owner' (husband) is appalling but their being raped outside of their 'owner' isn't outrageous.  That would explain this miserable she filed that refused to note actual rape noted in the Amnesty report.   This is from the Amnesty International report entitled [PDF format warning] "Iraq: A Decade of Abuses."

More than three years before, members of the Human Rights Committee of parliament who visited the earlier women’s prison that was then located in al-Kadhemiya told reporters in May 2009 that two women inmates they had seen had testified that they were repeatedly raped in detention after their arrest and before they were transferred to the prison. 
Sabah Hassan Hussein, 41, a journalist, was reportedly arrested on 29 February 2012 when she went to the offices of the army’s Fifth Brigade in Baghdad’s Saydiya district to collect a car belonging to one of her relatives that the authorities had confiscated. She was detained and told that she was a suspect in a murder investigation. She was then transferred to the Directorate of Major Crimes (Mudiriyat al-Jara’im al-Kubra) in Tikrit, where she was held incommunicado, for about two months during which, she alleges, she was tortured. According to a member of her family interviewed by Amnesty International, she alleges that her interrogators burnt her with cigarettes, doused her with icy cold water and forced to undress in front of male police officers. The Journalistic Freedoms Observatory (JFO) reported on 26 November that she had identified the police officers responsible for her alleged torture and that their names had been submitted to the Ministry of Interior. 
Sabah Hassan Hussein was returned to Baghdad from Tikrit in May 2012 and held at al- Sayid For detention centre she was acquitted by the Resafa Criminal Court at the first session of her trial on charges brought under the Anti-Terrorism Law on 23 January 2013. Another defendant charged with her, however, was convicted and sentenced to death. Despite her acquittal, Sabah Hassan Hussein remained in prison until 18 February 2013, when she was released and allowed to return to her family. She subsequently told Amnesty International that she filed a formal complaint with the authorities about her torture and other ill-treatment in detention. They were previously alerted to her torture allegations in November 2012; however, they are not known to have taken any steps to bring those responsible to justice.

That's just one story in the report.  Michele Lent Hirsch (Women's Media Center) noted of the report, "Female detainees are in a 'particularly vulnerable position,' Amnesty explains, given that any allegation they make of rape will be 'almost impossible to prove,' while interrogators can use threats of sexualized violence as a 'powerful inducement to force "confessions".'"  Again, Arraf ignored women.  Let's contrast that silence with a column at the end of February when Haifa Zangana (Guardian) wrote about the state of Iraqi women:

The plight of women detainees was the starting point for the mass protests that have spread through many Iraqi provinces since 25 December 2012. Their treatment by the security forces has been a bleeding wound – and one shrouded in secrecy, especially since 2003. Women have been routinely detained as hostages – a tactic to force their male loved ones to surrender to security forces, or confess to crimes ascribed to them. Banners and placards carried by hundreds of thousands of protesters portray images of women behind bars pleading for justice.

[. . .]

No wonder, ten years after the invasion, the Iraqi authorities are accused by US-based Human Rights Watch of "violating with impunity the rights of Iraq's most vulnerable citizens, especially women and detainees". HRW's account is echoed by a report by the Iraqi parliament's own human rights and women, family and children's committees, which found that there are 1,030 women detainees suffering from widespread abuse, including threats of rape.
Responding to these findings, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki threatened to "arrest those members of parliament who had discussed the violence against women detainees". Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Hussain al-Shahristani has acknowledged that there are 13,000 prisoners in custody accused of terror offences, but he only mentioned women detainees in passing:

"We transferred all women prisoners to prisons in their home provinces."
Al-Shahristani's statement is one in a long list of contradictory and misleading statements by the regime's most senior officials – from al-Maliki speaking of "not more than a handful of women terrorists", to his contradictory promise that he will pardon all "women detainees who have been arrested without a judicial order or in lieu of a crime committed by some of their male relatives". That assurance was followed by parading nine women, cloaked in black from head to toe, on the official state TV channel, al-Iraqiya, as a gesture of the regime's "good will".
Protesters and Iraqi human rights organizations estimate that there are as many as 5,000 female detainees. The truth is leaking out, drip by drip. A few weeks ago, 168 women detainees were released and there were promises of another 32 waiting to be released. No one accused of torture, rape or abuse has yet been brought to justice.

In February, Wijhat Nadhar (BRussells Tribunal) reported on what happens to Iraqi women when they're arrested -- based on the testimony of three national guard officers:

The first thing we do when an arrested woman is being transported to the detention location, is that every part of her body is touched by all the soldiers in the vehicle, while using dirty language. When we reach the detention facility, we leave her in the investigation room, supervised by the intelligence officer and his assistants. They directly take all her clothes off, blindfold her, handcuff her, then the intelligence officer starts to rape her with his assistant. And later they ask her some questions: if she’s guilty or innocent and so on. Then they blackmail her, saying that she should be cooperative and give important information about the District where she lives, otherwise they would distribute photos of her while she was naked and being raped. They would accuse her of false charges if she would file a complaint about harrassment and torture. If she receives a "guilty" verdict, she usually stays in the same location for a period of one to three months, in order to finish the procedures of her “case”, to be sent to the headquarters. During these months, every single intelligence officer and soldier in the Brigade will rape her. After that, she will be sent to Al Tasfeerat Prison in Shaab Stadium, or to Al-Muthanna Airport Prison. Sometimes the prisoner is transferred to the facility of the Chief Commander's Office in the Green Zone, which is a cellar under the building of the Baghdad Operations Headquarter, supervised by Major General Adnan Al-Musawi. This place is one of the most dangerous, dirtiest prisons of Al-Maliki.

 I'm sorry that crimes against women make so many men working for western outlets (and Jane Arraf) uncomfortable and they don't want to cover these crimes.  But they are crimes and they do take place and they are news.  I'm sorry that you're so damn miserable at your jobs that the average news consumer could read you every damn day and never know what Iraqi women face.  It's bad enough that they have to face it.  How horrifying that when they actually put themselves through sharing these brutal crimes, the western press doesn't care.  No, ir doesn't care, it just runs to avoid the topic.  That's disgusting and they should all be ashamed of themselves.

Crimes against women are not 'personal matters.'  They are crimes.  Anup Shah (Global Issues) has observed, "Women's rights around the world is an important indicator to understand global well-being."  He is correct.  But we should expand that.  How crimes against women are covered are an important indicator of the health -- or lack of it -- of our press corps.

What does it say about the western press that, not being functioning adults, they can't report on crimes against women?  

Caroline Jaine (Pakistan's Dawn) reported this week:

Shatha Al-Abosi is a smart woman. Her small frame and traditional dress do not mask her massive determination and passion for the liberation of women. The winner of the 2007 Woman of Courage Award claims to have survived five attempts on her life. Shatha is a women’s rights advocate – and one of a number of impressive, resilient women we met in Baghdad. Another woman all in black tells us she has lost a son and other family members and is committed to lobbying for human rights. Next to her, a lawyer with pink lipstick tells us of her commitment to change. A third, fourth and fifth woman tell us more. The delegation I am travelling with are visibly impressed and we all comment that the women appear as articulate, educated and informed (if not more) than many of their male counterparts.
And yet, all evidence suggests that despite being the givers of life in a country so familiar with death, despite being the source of comfort and nurture – Iraqi women are not cherished and valued in society. Any progress involving women in a future Iraq is undermined by the fact that she is being beaten at home.

 And Yanar Mohammed (Organisation of Women's Freedom in Iraq) observed last month:

 As for the women who were fortunate to be surrounded by some social protection or source of income, they still only enjoy a second class citizen status, under the valid laws of honor killing, wife battering, unequal inheritance, and unequal testimony in court. Moreover, ten years of occupation allowed and actually encouraged political Islam to poison and brainwash the society through tens of television stations into a  state of fanatic misogyny, promoting a life-style where women are merely servants, breeders, and home keepers with no mention of civil rights as full citizen. On the contrary, new fear of femmephobia was introduced into the society, where females will always be doubted as the source of sin and indecency, like a beast in need of taming to be domesticated and accept the life of slaves in prisons. Moreover, the same media outlets program females to defend their newly found slavery as a source of pride and a benefit which no other societies can offer.

Staying with the topic of violence,  National Iraqi News Agency reports a roadside bombing to the south of Mosul claimed the lives of 2 police officers,  a Baquba roadside bombing left a soldier and military officer injured, an armed attack in Baquba left a police officer injured, a Mosul armed attack claimed the life of 1 police officer, a second Mosul armed attack left 2 Iraqi soldiers and 1 military officer dead, and  a Falluja armed attack left 1 person dead.  In addition, NINA notes a bombing "targeting the oil pipeline on the main road linking Baghdad, Mosul near Shirqat district what led to the outbreak of a huge fire in the pipeline."

Today the US State Dept issued the following statement:

For ten years, the U.S. Department of State has been working closely with Iraqi counterparts and American academic and nonprofit institutions to protect, preserve, and display the rich cultural heritage of Iraq. Cultural heritage cooperation is a major pillar of the Iraq-U.S. Strategic Framework Agreement, reflecting the high value both nations place on this irreplaceable resource.
A major continuing effort has focused on the Iraq Museum in Baghdad, where looting in April 2003 left the facility physically damaged and an unsafe environment for both staff and the Museum’s collections. In summer 2003, State Department personnel were among the first responders to the museum’s needs, providing replacement photographic equipment, office furniture, and supplies. An assessment in autumn 2003 conducted by experts in museum security, environmental control, conservation, and information technology initiated a 2004 project of major improvements to the museum’s physical plant, IT capabilities, and security.
This assessment also laid the groundwork for the Iraq Cultural Heritage Project, a $12.9 million initiative developed and funded by the State Department, and implemented by the nonprofit International Relief and Development from 2008 to 2011. This project rehabilitated and furnished 11 of the museum’s public galleries, a 3-story collections storage facility, and the conservation labs, as well as providing a new roof and upgraded climate control systems.
Along with physical improvements to the building, the State Department sponsored and organized trainings for museum staff as part of its comprehensive approach to partnering with Iraqis in the preservation of their cultural heritage. In 2004, the Department funded a special five-week “Cultural Heritage Institute” through the Council of American Overseas Research Centers, to bring 22 Iraqi museum staff to the Smithsonian Institution for training in museum management, conservation, and curatorial practices. In 2009-2010, the Department’s Iraq Cultural Heritage Project also provided training for 20 museum professionals from throughout Iraq at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, covering topics from exhibit design and museum education to archaeological site excavation and stabilization.
Funding for these projects was provided through the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs’ Cultural Heritage Center and Office of Academic Exchanges, the U.S. Embassy Baghdad, and private foundations. Images and more information about other cultural heritage projects in Iraq can be found here.
Media contact: Susan Pittman,, (202) 632-6373.

Other big news today includes All Iraq News reporting Iraqi Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi (above) has announced he will be returning to the Kurdistan Regional Government.  We covered that at length this morning, refer to this entry for more on it.  We also addressed the US funding Syrian 'rebels' which will now mean funding al Qaeda in Iraq -- for more on that topic, you can see this piece by Jason Ditz (  I'm not a fan of Robert Parry's.  In 2008, I lost all use for him.  I don't visit his site.  So the fact that I'm linking to this report (at his site) by William Boardman should attest to the fact that I feel it's a very important report.  Tomorrow or Friday, we'll link to it again and I'll provide a link to somewhere else for those who do not visit Consortium News.  I'd planned to address counter-insurgency today but that got put on hold due to the e-mail from the community member asking for the crimes against women and sexism to be covered.  Boardman's written a very strong article that deserves noting.

We're closing with this from the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee:

National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee (NWTRCC)
PO Box 150553, Brooklyn, NY11215 • 800-269-7464
Fax: 718-768-4388 • •


For Immediate Release: April 10, 2013
Contact: Ruth Benn, NWTRCC Coordinator
       800-269-7464 (718-768-3420) or

Refusing to Pay for Cruise Missiles and Drone Strikes:
30 Years of Tax Day Antiwar Protests

On April 15 people in communities across the United States will be
leafleting, marching, doing street theatre, committing civil disobedience,
and picketing at post offices, IRS offices, federal buildings, among other
public spaces, using materials calling attention to the harmful effects of
military spending. A list of U.S. Tax Day events with links to international
actions can be found at April 15 is also the
third annual Global Day of Action on Military Spending.

Thirty years ago, during his first term, President Ronald Reagan set off a
massive buildup in the U.S. armed forces that stands out on historical
graphs of U.S. military budgets since World War II. This motivated thousands
of taxpayers to resume the civil disobedience (begun during the Vietnam War)
by refusing to pay taxes to buy those weapons, and led to the 1982 formation
of the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee (NWTRCC). In that
same year Archbishop Raymond Hunthausen of Seattle, risking official
censure, withheld half his income tax to protest nuclear weapons, calling on
others to do the same.

The spike in military spending since 2001 surpasses that of the Reagan
years. Today U.S. taxpayers are buying even more expensive weapons systems,
new nuclear weapons plants, assassinations by unmanned drones, and soaring
interest payments on the national debt along with burgeoning health care
costs for thousands of wounded veterans.

On March 30, 1983, an ad placed in a Massachusetts weekly began, “We refuse
to pay taxes for the violence of war preparations and other military
expenditures including present military involvement in other countries. Over
half of the federal income taxes are used for military expenses.” Many of
the 120 signers still refuse today and still protest on tax day, joined by
newer activists who have been provoked into protesting taxes for the wars in
Afghanistan and Iraq as well as the endless war on terror.

Massachusetts residents Randy Kehler and Betsy Corner were signers of that
1983 ad. Despite a house seizure and other collection efforts by the IRS,
Kehler and Corner say, “With the federal government running up huge deficits
by spending trillions of taxpayer dollars on weapons and war, at the expense
of its own people (especially its soldiers) and the people of other
countries, we invite our fellow citizens to join us in saying 'No!' and to
begin re-directing their federal tax money to local projects that meet
genuine human needs.” 

On the evening of April 15 in Berkeley, California, members of Northern
California War Tax Resistance and the People's Life Fund will be taking this
advice and presenting grants of resisted war taxes totaling over $20,000 to
local social service, peace, and justice organizations. That event and
others from Maine to Kentucky to Washington are posted online with contacts

Contact NWTRCC to talk with individual war tax resisters and refusers.


Ruth Benn, Coordinator
National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee
PO Box 150553
Brooklyn, NY 11215


jason ditz