Monday, December 3, 2007

Baghdad's vanishing Christians

Iraq is not just Shia, Sunni, and Kurds. Ava and C.I. addressed that topic recently noting the Palestinians, the Jews and others. So when I heard Jamie Tarabay's report on NPR's All Things Considered, I thought I would highlight that. The report deals with Christians in Baghdad and notes that the population was once 800,000 "but now there are few left." If I hear other reports on this topic, I will be noting them this week.

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

Monday, December 3, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, Bully Boy tries to Bully Congress, the BBC can't break their habit of lying about the Iraqi refugees, Cynthia McKinney launches her "Power to the People" tour and more.

Starting with war resistance. Dear Camilo (Querido Camilo) is a documentary about Iraq War resister Camilo Mejia who is also the chair of
Iraq Veterans Against the War. On Sunday, Prensa Latina reported that in Guatemala, at the Tenth Icaro Central American Film and Video Festival, Querido Camilo "won the first prize" -- "The film tells the story of Camilo Mejia, who refused to serve in the US Army to attack the Iraqi people". The documentary is about Mejia. Camilo Mejia tells his own story in Road from Ar Ramadi: The Private Rebellion of Staff Sergeant Mejia (published last May by the New Press). Turning from Mejia to the issue of war resisters who went to Canada, last month Canada's Supreme Court refused to hear the appeals of US war resisters Jeremy Hinzman and Brandon Hughey. What now? "With their legal avenues pretty well exhausted, that's absolutely the right direction to take -- lobbying for change to the law to allow resisters to apply for landed-immigrant status." That's Vancouver East New Democratic Party MP Libby Davies speaking to Andy Ivens (Canda's The Province). US war resister Brad McCall tells Ivens what he'd say to the Canadian government: "Take us in. Do what Canada used to do in '70s. Be a haven from militarism." If that doesn't happen, 20-year-old McCall and others will be have to figure out another course of action.

Cindy Sheehan (OpEdNews) urges people to utilize Courage to Resist's easy to mail or e-mail resources to allow the Canadian government to know you are watching and to support organizations supporting war resisters as well as supporting war resisters:

Support actual war resisters in Canada by sending them expense money. From my friend Ryan (I gave him and his wife money to get to Canada over two years ago):

In light of the recent Supreme Court denial in Canada, I (Ryan Johnson), My wife (Jen Johnson) and Brandon Hughey need help raising funds to travel to Ottawa to attend hearings before the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration, where War Resisters will be giving Testimony to the committee. At these hearings the committee will be deciding on whether or not to make a provision to allow war resisters to stay in Canada. This is one of our last chances to be able to continue living in Canada. We will be leaving December 7th because the hearings are December 11th, 2007 so we need to act fast. They may try to send guys back soon and we need to have a strong War Resister Presence. We appreciate all of the support and Want to thank all of you who can help.

Checks/money orders can be sent for Ryan, Jen and Brandon to:312 Tower Rd Nelson, BC V1L3K6

There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes James Stepp, Rodney Watson, Michael Espinal, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb,
Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Peter Brown, Bethany "Skylar" James, Zamesha Dominique, Chrisopther Scott Magaoay, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Carla Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, Blake LeMoine, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Wilfredo Torres, Michael Sudbury, Ghanim Khalil, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, at least fifty US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.Information on war resistance within the military can be found at The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline [(877) 447-4487], Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters. In addition, VETWOW is an organization that assists those suffering from MST (Military Sexual Trauma).

The voice of war resister Camilo Mejia is featured in Rebel Voices -- playing now through December 16th at
Culture Project and based on Howard Zinn and Anthony Arnove's best-selling book Voices of a People's History of the United States. It features dramatic readings of historical voices such as war resister Mejia, Sojourner Truth, Frederick Douglass, Malcom X and others will be featured. Musician Allison Mooerer will head the permanent cast while those confirmed to be performing on selected nights are Ally Sheedy (actress and poet, best known for films such as High Art, The Breakfast Club, Maid to Order, the two Short Circuit films, St. Elmo's Fire, War Games, and, along with Nicky Katt, has good buzz on the forthcoming Harold), Eve Ensler who wrote the theater classic The Vagina Monologues (no, it's not too soon to call that a classic), actor David Strathaim (L.A. Confidential, The Firm, Bob Roberts, Dolores Claiborne and The Bourne Ultimatum), actor and playwright Wallace Shawn (The Princess Bride, Clueless -- film and TV series, Gregory and Chicken Little), actress Lili Taylor (Dogfight, Shortcuts, Say Anything, Household Saints, I Shot Andy Warhol, Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle, State of Mind) and actor, director and activist Danny Glover (The Color Purple, Beloved, The Royal Tenenbaums, The Rainmaker, Places In The Heart, Dreamgirls, Shooter and who recently appeared on Democracy Now! addressing the US militarization of Africa) The directors are Will Pomerantz and Rob Urbinati with Urbinati collaborating with Zinn and Arnove on the play. Tickets are $21 for previews and $41 for regular performances (beginning with the Nov. 18th opening night). The theater is located at 55 Mercer Street and tickets can be purchased there, over the phone (212-352-3101) or online here and here. More information can be found at Culture Project.

IVAW is organizing a March 2008 DC event:

In 1971, over one hundred members of Vietnam Veterans Against the War gathered in Detroit to share their stories with America. Atrocities like the My Lai massacre had ignited popular opposition to the war, but political and military leaders insisted that such crimes were isolated exceptions. The members of VVAW knew differently.
Over three days in January, these soldiers testified on the systematic brutality they had seen visited upon the people of Vietnam. They called it the Winter Soldier investigation, after Thomas Paine's famous admonishing of the "summer soldier" who shirks his duty during difficult times. In a time of war and lies, the veterans who gathered in Detroit knew it was their duty to tell the truth.
Over thirty years later, we find ourselves faced with a new war. But the lies are the same. Once again, American troops are sinking into increasingly bloody occupations. Once again, war crimes in places like Haditha, Fallujah, and Abu Ghraib have turned the public against the war. Once again, politicians and generals are blaming "a few bad apples" instead of examining the military policies that have destroyed Iraq and Afghanistan.
Once again, our country needs Winter Soldiers.
In March of 2008, Iraq Veterans Against the War will gather in our nation's capital to break the silence and hold our leaders accountable for these wars. We hope you'll join us, because yours is a story that every American needs to hear.
Click here to sign a statement of support for Winter Soldier: Iraq & Afghanistan

March 13th through 15th are the dates for the Winter Soldier Iraq & Afghanistan Investigation.

Turning to the myth of the
Great Return. It wasn't enough for the BBC to FLAT OUT LIE in November about the myth so today they're back to lie some more: "The UN's refugee agency, the UNHCR, estimates that about 45,000 Iraqis returned from Syria in October -- the first month of the schol year." Really? Because I'm on the phone asking a friend at the United Nations about that claim and his reply is a little too 'strong' to make the snapshot. Is it too much for the BBC to check their damn facts or are they too interested in lying repeatedly on this topic? November 23rd (ten days ago), UNHCR spokesperson Jennifer Pagonis stated, "We cannot confirm reports that 46,000 Iraqis returned from Syria in October." That UNHCR release contains the same figures the BBC will use in the next paragraph but somehow they see "cannot confirm" and turn it into the UNHCR "estimates". They have made no such estimation and the BBC needs to stop LYING. The 45,000 figure is the number coming from the puppet government in Baghdad. Repeating, It is not from the United Nations. The UN does estimate that currently 1,500 Iraqis may be coming back from Syria each day but THEY ALSO estimate that 500 Iraqis are entering Syria each day. That would be 1,000 a day. The UNHCR has made no estimate for October. Before we go any futher, let's all remember what John Pilger (New Statesman) recently reminded us all of, "A European study found that, of the major western television networks, the BBC permitted less coverage of dissent than all of them. A second study found that the BBC consistently gave credence to government propaganda that weapons of mass destruction existed." At the New York Times, Damien Cave has covered the myth of the "Great Return" most in depth; however, Cara Buckley has also filed on the topic. Today, she reports on -- pay attention BBC -- actual figures: 25,000. That is the estimate of the Iraqi Red Crescent. 25,000 returned in October! No. 25,000 Iraqis have returned "from Syria since mid-September."
B-b-b-but, BBC is using the 45,000 figure and using it for just one month! Yes, they are. It's the Iraqi government's figure. We've been over and over this since CBS first reported the myth of the great return claiming that 15,000 had returned and then, mere days later, the puppet government began insisting (probably because so few called out the 15,000) that 45,000 had returned in one month alone! (The month of October.) Buckley notes three factors (according to the IRC): (1) reports of a 'widespread drop in violence'; (2) running out of funds and (3) "visa restrictions". As reports by Cave and
Michael Gordon & Stephen Farrell have noted, Buckley notes the monies paid to the bused in refugees: US equivalent of $811 ("roughly enough for four months rent in a middle-class Baghdad neighborhood," Buckley explains). Did you catch that by the way? When noting those who've attempted to report the truth on this topic we even have to credit Michael Gordon. We don't have to credit independent media because indepdent media hasn't done ____. They've ignored it or repeated the false claims. Gordo we have called out here (and will do so again) but let's not kid that independent media can hop on a high horse when they've refused to call the nonsense of the 'Great Return' out. ("Independent media" = broadcast and print. I'm not referring to websites or organizations. I'm referring to our 'traditional' independent media which -- if you missed it -- can't make time for most Iraq related topics today.) As Ruth noted Saturday: "When you consider that the lies of the "Great Return" work both domestically (lulling U.S. news consumers into the belief that Iraq is now 'safe') and internationally (lulling refugees into believing they need to consider returning), it is appalling that independent media has refused to call the lies out." Indeed. We could and should also include Amit R. Paley (Washington Post) for noting last month that the claims by the Iraqi government of 46,030 returnees in October was "counter to the overall trend detailed in a recent report by the Iraqi Red Crsecent". If you're late to the party, see the November 3rd snapshot when the issue of the ever changing numbers is noted. Robert Parry (Consortium News) is someone I hate to think of as "independent media" because he's not found twiddling his thumbs. Label him how you want (bravery in exile?) but Parry did cover the topic last month.

On Sunday,
Damien Cave (New York Times) reported on the increasing prices on Iraq's blackmarket and noted, "Corruption and theft are not new to Iraq, and government officials have promised to address the problem. But as Iraqis and American officials asses the effects of this year's American troop increase, there is a growing sense that, even as security has improved, Iraq has slipped to new depths of lawlessness." Apparently the puppet agrees. Cara Buckley (New York Times) reports puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki issued a statement today that noted, "We inherited the corruption from previous regimes, and in this new era, the administrative and financial corruption is still going on." Buckley notes this appears to be a reference to Saddam Hussein; however, the term is "previous regimes" -- plural. That means he was most likely addressing those who held the office of prime minister right before him, Ibrahim al-Jaafari and Iyad Allawi (Allawi served two terms). Buckley tells you al-Maliki has said next year will be an attack on corruption and "a war on those ignorant and lazy people" -- presumably he has given himself an exception to avoid being placed in the latter category.

On Saturday
Al Jazeera reported that the Turkish government announced their military had "entered northern Iraq and launched attacks on Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) fighters". By Sunday, Sabrina Tavernise and Stephen Farrell (New York Times) would report the usual response from Iraq (no attacks took place) and, pay attention here, they'd quote Haval Zagros explaining that PKK bases in Iraq had not been struck by the Turkish military -- in fact, he'd word it as "none of our bases". Our? Haval Zagros is the PKK's designated spokesperson. Though the article is supposed to tell you that no attack may have happened, of far greater interest is the fact that the PKK, via their own spokesperson, announced that they have bases in Iraq -- something the northern Iraq region's government has denied.

Over the weekend, the Iraqi Parliament saw another walkout. To grasp the boycott . . .
On Thursday, car bombs were said to be discovered in the compound of a member of the Iraqi parliament. On Friday, the member was under house arrest and his protection forces and his son were carted away. A spokesperson for him denied Friday that the bomb or bombs were discovered inside the compound and stated Adnan al-Dulaimi was innocent. Sunday, Tavernise and Farrell report that the "the largest Sunni Arab bloc, the Iraqi Consensus Front, walked out of Parliament to protest what it described as a move by Iraqi security forces to place its leader, Adnan al-Dulaimi, under house arrest." The basic press narrative that emerged was "maybe Adnan al-Dulaimi was under house arrest and maybe he wasn't and the (puppet) government says . . ." Not interested in jotting down official statements, Ali al-Fadhily (IPS) sought out opinions on the house arrest. One of the man's sons explained to al-Fahily, "My father is detained in our house and my brother Makki is being tortured so that he gives any information that could lead to convicting my father." An Iraqi resistance fighter tells al-Fadhily, "The poor old guy sacrified his faith and reputation for a cheap chair in the parliament and now they are throwing him into the garbage can like used Kleenex tissue. We always advised him that the Islamic Party and the Shi'ite Coalition would definitely get rid of him as soon as he is no more needed, but he listened to his pocket more than listening to the voices of reason." Last Sunday, Reuters reported that Adnan al-Dulaimi is no longer confined to his home but has been taken (by the "National Security Adviser Mowaffaq al-Rubaie") to a hotel in the Green Zone and quoted al-Dulaimi announcing, "Since this house arrest has been lifted, the Accordance Front will return to sessions of parliament."

By late Sunday the weekend total of reported deaths had reached at least 78. This total included Sudarsan Raghavan (Washington Post) reporting "at least 20 people" were shot dead in the Diayla province on Saturday (and notes the recent attacks mass attacks in Diyal including a bombing that claimed the lives of 7 people, another that left five Iraqis and seven US service members wounded and a November 18th bombing that claimed the lives of 3 US service members) and Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reporting: "Sunday afternoon, three princes of Al-Qaeda proposed to three women in Al-Bu Aziz village of Dali Abass (30 km north of Baquba) .The princes beheaded the three women after they refused the proposal."


Reuters notes a Kut mortar attack on a police station that left three police officers wounded today and also notes a Sunday Ramadi car bombing that claimed the lives of 3 police officers (one more wounded).


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports another attack targeting officials: "a high ranking officer who works as an inspector in the Ministry of Interior" was shot dead and his driver wounded and 4 police officer were shot dead in Mosul (with two more wounded), 4 Iraqi soldiers were shot dead in Kirkuk, 2 Iraqi soldiers were shot dead in Tikrit while 3 people were shot dead by Iraqi soldiers and, in the continued attack on educators, p.e. teacher Hamdi Al Basri ("Ali Al Hadi middle shool") was shot dead "in front of his students as they left the school". Reuters identifies the Iraqi Ministry official shot dead as Maj. Gen. Fawzi Mohammed Hussein ("senior adviser to Iraqi Interior Minister Jawad al-Bolani") and five people were shot dead by Iraqi Soldiers in the Salahuddin province, while Sheikh Attallah Iskandar and his driver were shot dead in Hawija.


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 5 corpses discovered in Baghdad and 2 discovered in Mosul. Cara Buckley (New York Times) notes that five Iraqi soldiers were kidnapped en route to a wedding and 4 of their corpses have already turned up.

From today's violence to the eternal violence of this illegal war,
National Lawyers Guild's president Marjorie Cohn (at CounterPunch) tackles the topic of Bully Boy's "agreement for a permanet U.S. military presence in Iraq" with Nouri al-Maliki, "It was never about weapons of mass destruction. It was never about ties between Saddam and al Qaeda. And it was never about bringing democrcy to the Iraqi people. These claims were lies to cover up the real motive for Operation Iraqi Freedom: to create a permanent American presence in Iraq. With Bush's November 26, 2007 announcement that the United States and Iraq were negotiating a permanent 'security relationship,' his lies have been exposed." Cohn goes on to note that the "embassy" in Baghdad's Green Zone ("self-contained city with no need for Iraqi, electricity, food or water") and Camp anaconda are examples of bases already constructed, that the American people do not support the permanent occupation nor do the Iraqis and that Al-Hayat has reported the Iraqi Parliament legally must approve any treaty. Not a surprise because Bully Boy can't do what he's doing without Congress approval -- we noted that repeatedly last week. Now whether or not Congress will stand up to him or even stand up for their Constitutional powers is open to debate.

Bully Boy seems to think they work for him. They don't. Congress and Bully Boy work for the people. After that, they and the judiciary are three equal arms of the federal government. But someone may need to break the news to Bully Boy.
Debbi Wilgoren (Washington Post) reports Bully Boy has given Congress "a stern warning and a blunt to-do list." Bully Boy wants to loot the treasury by $50 billion more and allegedy wants it spent on his illegal war -- although no one's really followed the money to determine where it's all going. He's screaming that the Democrats are irresponsible. And they are irresponsible when they play into his nonsense that any of this money will go to service members stationed in Iraq. He just got "nearly $100 billion dollars in war spending" in May. Dems should be saying, "Hey, Sonny Boy, sorry you can't budget your money but you better to figure out what you need, what you're actually going to get and how to spend appropriately." On firmer ground, US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid did note today, "The surge hasn't accomplished its goals. We're involved, still, in an intractable civil war." Today Tina Susman (Los Angeles Times) reported that creepy, sneaky Lt. Gen. Raymond t. Odierno was apparently off his meds again, "Odierno also said the U.S. military had made headway Sunday on one major issue: persuading Prime Minister Nouri Maliki's government to move more quickly to bring volunteer security workers onto Iraqi government payrolls." That Odierno thinks the military "made headway" in "persuading" a ruler (even a puppet) of another government. Think on that.

In other political news, we last noted
Cynthia McKinney at the start of last month. At that point she was still determing whether or not to run for the Green Party presidential nomination for 2008. Cynthia McKinney is running. The woman elected to the US House of Representatives six times goes to Carbondale, Illionois this weekend for a Saturday December 8th stop on her "Power to the People" tour. The state primary is February 5, 2008 and, in Illinois, other Green candidates will include Jared Ball (DC), Howie Hawkins (NY) and Kent Mesplay (CA). At Catfish dinner (ten dollars a plate) will take place at Howell Baptist Church in Carbondale beginning at 12:30 pm and, prior to that, McKinney will speak at the SIUC Student Center Auditorium at 11:00 am. (A local press conference will be held at 10:30 am). More information can be found here at the Illinois Green Party.