Friday, July 3, 2009

Iraq, Fort Worth

I'm Ann Wilson, Cedric's wife, filling in for Ruth while she's in Japan. She's due back shortly so for everyone who's been waiting patiently, just a little while longer. I will be subbing for Mike the week after next. He and Elaine will be in Hawaii and C.I. will be subbing for Elaine.

About every week, community member Pru highlights something from Great Britain's Socialist Worker and I'm sure she's always wondering if it does any good? Yes, it does. I wouldn't know about the periodical otherwise. I do check it about once a week, sometimes more. This is holiday-period in the US, which means not a lot of stuff goes up online. So I did check Socialist Worker and found "Iraq occupation is not over:"

Iraqis greeted the withdrawal of US troops from their cities this week by dancing in the streets.
They hope that the “drawdown” of combat troops will mean an end to the violence that follows US patrols, and an end to the shootings at checkpoints.
But the withdrawal does not mark the end of the occupation.
Under the Status of Forces Agreement signed by the Iraqi government last year, occupation forces will simply redeploy to large bases on the outskirts of urban areas.
US soldiers will still conduct raids, seize suspects and “support” Iraqi security forces – only now they will require Iraqi government permission first.
Under the agreement all US troops should leave the country by 2011. Yet US secretary of state Robert Gates admitted that he expects tens of thousands of troops to remain.
A provision in the agreement allows troops to re-enter the country if it is “threatened by insurrection”.
The US wants to stabilise Iraq in order to shift troops to Afghanistan. The military hope that by lowering the profile of the occupation it can claim that the country has regained its sovereignty.
But the move simply embeds the occupation.
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I liked the article and hoped you enjoyed it as well. Plus, it's always good to see someone besides C.I. offering reality on Iraq. Some days, if it wasn't for The Common Ills, it seems like there would be no net focus on Iraq. It's really amazing when you grasp how many lies about Iraq were used to tar Hillary last year that the non-withdrawal means so little this year.

Then again, maybe it's not surprising. Liars for Barack created this fairy tale about his 'brave' stand on Iraq. And they knew it was a lie. They just pushed the lie as part of their efforts to destroy Hillary. They never gave a damn about Iraq and that's why they don't speak out today.

Look at the losers like Norman Solomon who thinks no one will notice that he pissed on the carpet if he suddenly starts writing about Afghanistan. We all saw you do it, Norman. And hopefully, someone will grip you by the back of your neck and rub your nose in it so you never do it again.

Earlier this week, Mike and Elaine highlighted Free Speech Radio News' "On Stonewall anniversary police raid Texas gay bar:"

On the 40th Anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, in which gay tavern patrons fought against a police raid, an incident at a Texas gay bar last weekend has local officials demanding answers. Rachel Clarke has more.
The Rainbow Lounge opened its doors less than a week before Fort Worth Police entered the gay and lesbian bar early Sunday morning with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission. Police claim they went to the bar on a routine code check and were met with unwanted sexual advances. Patrons in the bar at the time dispute this account. One patron remains hospitalized with a brain bleed and five others were arrested for public intoxication. No one was charged with assault. This has city officials taking notice. On Monday, Dallas Councilman Joel Burns called for an investigation. He was joined by Fort Worth Mayor Pro Tem Kathleen Hicks. GLBT community member also supports an investigation.
"I think there needs to be a very, very thorough investigation, but I really hope it’s not investigated by the police themselves, I think it needs to be an independent organization comprised of the community itself that’s going to be doing the investigation on this one. The officers involved in this situation need to have some sort of very serious disciplinary action on them."
The police department is looking into the incident and it has come to light officers were unaware of the Stonewall anniversary. Reporting for Free Speech Radio News, I'm Rachel Clarke in Houston.

A Fort-Worth TCI community member e-mailed me the statement the Fort Worth Mayor released today:

Fort Worth Mayor asks acting U.S. Attorney to review Rainbow Lounge investigation
Mayor Mike Moncrief released the following statement today:
We all join in wishing Mr. Gibson a speedy and full recovery.
Currently, two investigations are underway to review the circumstances and events that took place at the Rainbow Lounge early Sunday morning. The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) is conducting an investigation and the Fort Worth Police Department’s Internal Affairs Division is conducting its own investigation.
I join Police Chief Jeff Halstead in encouraging any eye-witnesses to the events under review to come forward and share their observations.
Members of the City Council and I have confidence that Chief Halstead is leading a thorough and professional investigation. Once the Fort Worth Police Department's examination is complete, I have asked the acting U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas, James T. Jacks, to independently review the findings of the Fort Worth Police Department's investigation to ensure the department has thoroughly and impartially carried out its obligation to all the citizens of Fort Worth. I encourage the TABC to follow the same course.
Fort Worth has a history of inclusiveness, and the Fort Worth Police Department has a history of responsible and professional service to our citizens. The police department's internal investigation and the outside review is meant to ensure all citizens are professionally and responsibly represented by our police department. I am most appreciative to the U.S. Attorney's Office for assisting us in this effort.

What's really going on? The TCI community member who works for Fort Worth's city government tells me a big event later this summer is threatening to pull out and relocate to Dallas (which is neighboring to the east of Fort Worth) over the police assault on the gay men.
This is becoming a big deal to the mayor's office and many advisors thought the above statement was too weak. The one in charge thought that if turned out to be too weak, it could be followed with a stronger statement next week.

In other words, if business groups were not threatening to pull their business and take it to Dallas, the mayor of Fort Worth would still be doing nothing.

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

Friday, July 3, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, Joe Biden is in Iraq, so are land mines and the UN is drawing attention to the crisis, al-Sadr followers protest Biden, and more.

"Biden has come here to divide Iraq according to his plan." Vice President Joe Biden arrived in Iraq
yesterday and among today's activities is a protest of his visit by supporters of Moqtada al-Sadr. Andrew Quinn and Sattar Rahim (Reuters) report al-Sadr supporters marched in Baghdad and remarks from al-Sadr (including "Biden has come here to divide Iraq according to his plan") were read aloud to the crowd. The remark by al-Sadr refers to Biden's support for a federation of three autonomous areas in Iraq: Shia, Sunni and Kurd. That plan is among the reasons Biden has become the point-person for the administration on Iraq because the Kurds are increasingly unhappy with the US and increasingly vocal about what they see as US abandonment of their interests and needs. Quinn and Rahim note that al-Sadr's supporters were vocal as well, chanting "down, down USA" while burning US flags during their protest. Jane Arraf (Christian Science Monitor) reports the Kurds aren't the only ones worrying that Iraq has been abandoned and she quotes Hoyshar Zebari, Iraq's Foreign Minister, stating, "My message to them [US] is . . . you lost Afghanistan in 2001, 2002, and 2003 because you turned your attention to Iraq from Afghanistan -- now you are redirecting your attentions of Afghanistan and if you disengage with Iraq, it could be another failure. The situation is not that solid." Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Timothy Williams (New York Times) quote Biden declaring he is there to ask: "What is their plan to resolve the real differences that exist?" Mark Silva (Chicago Tribune) quotes Biden stating, "The reason I came is the president wants focus within the White House on the implementation of our administration's plan to both draw down troops in Iraq and also to promote a political settlement on unresolved issues from boundary disputes to the oil law."
Alsumaria notes it is is a three-day visit and that the vice president "arrived to Baghdad Airport amidst a sand storm which prevented him from conducting a scheduled visit to the US Embassy." The White House offers three photos of the arrival and Biden being greeted by Zebari and the top US commander in Iraq Gen Ray Odierno. Thomas M. Defrank (New York Daily News) reports Biden had breakfast with son Beau. Delware's WDEL has an audio report here. Beau Biden is the Attorney General for the state of Delaware and serving in Iraq as a captain in Delaware's Army National Guard. Biden's the first child of a president or vice president to serve in this decade's Iraq War. (The 2008 Republican presidential ticket had two candidates with children serving in Iraq. US Senator John McCain's son Jimmy served in Iraq. Governor Sarah Palin's son Track is serving in Iraq.) Despite George W. Bush sending other people's children into harm's way, neither of his daughters served in his illegal war of choice. Nor did Mary or Deferment Cheney, Dick Cheney's daughters, serve.

Taking a sidebar on Dick Cheney, for those who have forgotten, retired Ambassador Joe Wilson was sent by the CIA to Nigeria to vet accusations that Saddam Hussein (then president of Iraq) was attempting to obtain yellow-cake uranium from the country. Wilson found no evidence to support the claims. Despite that investigation, the false assertion began working its way into cases for the illegal war made by the Bush administration and Bully Boy Bush himself would say that they'd recently learned Saddam attempted to obtain yellow-cake uranium from Africa. Was that Nigeria?Wilson, at that point didn't know, and attempted to find out. Maybe Saddam had tried with another African country? Nope. It was Nigeria. The administration was lying.What do you do?Wilson began warning reporters and then began speaking out publicly.In retaliation, the administration that LIED and attacked. This was their pattern repeatedly. When former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill went public with issues, the administration attacked him and the press -- hey, David Gregory -- ran with the administration's lies and presented them as fact. In O'Neill's case, he was being accused of stealing government information on discs. Gregory stood on camera, for Today, waiving a copy of Ron Suskind's The Price of Loyalty and repeating the White House charges with a who-knows-what-really-happened spin. Apparently the only one who could know reality would be the non-idiots who knew to read the introduction of a book before repeating baseless charges because the discs are covered in the intro. (As was so often the case on Today, Katie Couric would have to grab the mop and clean up for her co-workers the following day.)Now they were going after Joe Wilson.And it wasn't enough to go after Joe Wilson because this was a petty, mafia-like administration. They didn't just go after Wilson, they went after his wife and began outing her to the press as a CIA agent until they found some one (Robert Novak) willing to print their tale.Valerie Plame was an undercover CIA agent and her cover was blown by the government she worked for.Thanks to the efforts of George H.W. Bush and his administration, what had just taken place was a crime. Not for reporters, but for government officials or workers involved in the outing.Dick Cheney's right-hand I. Lewis (Scooter) Libby ended up convicted from the investigation. Many thought and hoped others would be as well. That was not the case. It was hoped that with a new administration, Valerie Plame and Joe Wilson would have the support of the government on their side as they attempted to discover what had happened to them.That has not been the case. "Status quo you can believe in" is the Obama administration's slogan and they've done everything they can to prevent the truth from coming out.R. Jeffrey Smith's "
New Evidence Cheney Swayed Reaction to Leak" (Washington Post) takes you through the latest that's emerged as Barry O's Justice Dept argues the truth must be buried. One of their claims is that to allow Cheney's testimony during the Plamegate investigation to be known would prevent other vice presidents from offering testimony to a criminal investigation. Uh, no, it wouldn't. And if testimony means anything, it means that it's not buried out of fear of what might happened some day.Barack's administration is not open, it's not trying to be open and is not attempting to put the US back on balance. It is attempting to continue all the abuses from the Bush administration. And it gets a lot of help from a cowardly Congress. (It's noted in the article that Congress once fought the Bush White House to make Cheney's testimony public. Not noted in the article is that any member of Congress could make Cheney's testimony public on the House or Senate floor.)

Back to Iraq, Biden is not the only official visiting Iraq.
Alsumaria reports that France's Prime Minister Francois Fillon met with Nouri al-Maliki and Jalal Talabani today with Fillon and Maliki doing a joint-press conference at Baghdad International Airport ". . . Fillon pointed out that Iraq is on the right track. No one should be worried over Iraq redress for it intends to cooperate with its neighbor and it constitutes an intergral part of the region's stability. France undertakes to help Iraq to reach stability as soon as possible, to resolve conflicts with its neighbor and to get fast result, Fillon said. He also added that France takes upon itself assisting Iraq to emancipate from international sanctions which hinder development process." Xinhua reports the two "signed a cooperation agreement to promote bilateral economic, cultural and scientific relations. According to the statement, the agreement stated that France comitted to support Iraq to join the World Trade Organization (WTO) and to conclude a partenership agreement with the European Union." CCTV observes (link has text and video) that Fillon was heading a delegation of "30 high-level business executives" and quotes him stating, "It is high time now we look to the future. The team accompanying me represents major French firms. Currently we have firms working in Iraq in the field of transportation and airports." At the start of the week, Jonas Gahr Storra met with Zebari. Store is the Norewegian Foreign Affairs Minister. Among the topics discussed were assisting Iraq in clearing land mines. Yesterday Patrick Quinn (AP) explained that the United Nations sees Iraq as "one of the world's most contaminated countries" when it comes to land mines and quotes the UN"s Development Fund's Kent Paulusson stating, "The government needs to recognize the size of the problem and deal with it. [. . .] Some areas are so contaminated that people can't live there." CNN notes that UNICEF joined the UN Development Fund in drawing attention to the land mine problem in Iraq and notes UNICEF's report: "The report says about 1 million Iraqi children are at risk of being injured or killed by mines and unexploded ordnance. Some 2,000 children -- a quarter of all victims -- have been maimed or killed by cluster bomblets since 2003, the report said." Aseel Kami (Reuters) adds Iraq's Environment Ministry estimates there are 25 million land mines in Iraq and that the border between Iraq and Iran "is particularly mine-infested." David Morgan (Global Arab Network) observes, "Vast stretches of potentially highly productive agricultural land cannot be cultivated because of the potentially lethal hazards presented by explosive materials that still lie undetected. Hundreds of Iraqi people continue to suffer injuries and dozens have been killed."
Today the
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees notes a new "special residentail centre for Iraqi refugees in the southern Armenian village of Darbnik. The building, a former agricultural college provided to UNHCR by the government last year, features 46 apartments and a social and recreation room. It was rehabilitated by UNHCR implementing partner, YMCA/Shelter." The Iraq War has resulted in a refugee crisis of both external and internal refugees. The refugees are a diverse group but a large number of them are Iraqi Christians. The assault on Iraq's LGBT community has led to a number of them becoming refugees as well. Sunday July 5th BBC Radio 5 airs Gay Life After Saddam (7 to 8 p.m. in England -- that will be eleven to noon PST). Ashley Byrne and Gail Champion produce the special for Made in Manchester. James Chaperlard (Crain's Manchester Business) reports:

In Gay Life After Saddam, presenter Aasmah Mir finds out how life for the country's gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered community (LGBT), has got worse since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003. Human rights campaigners claim hundreds of LGBT people have been killed or tortured while others have fled the country fearing for their safety since Saddam was toppled from power six years ago.

Not noted in the article but among the people interviewed for the special is Nouri al-Maliki, puppet of the occupation.

At CounterPunch today,
Anthony DiMaggio offers a look at Iraq and it's a serious attempt so he gets a link. I don't agree with the bulk of anything he says and feel he's repeating points that were made some time ago and that many don't hold up today. The continued and illegal occupation does stabilize Iraq. It puts into power the US interest, their puppets, and it blocks any real representation of Iraqis. It is not a sovereign government. It's one that would not exist were the US not still occupying the country.The illegal war itself and the continued occupation breed violence but part of the breeding is not just resentment over the continued presence of the US, it's also resentment over the installation of the puppet government. The exiles placed in power (by the US) are not representative of Iraq.The US took sides, installed one faction, a fundamentalist faction, and backed them because they believed this faction was ruthless and unafraid to resort to violence (the US was correct on both counts) and that these thugs would intimidate Iraqis into silence.Violence has never gone away in Iraq since the start of the illegal war. But that doesn't mean the puppet regime doesn't 'stabilize' it to a point where the violence lowers slightly, just enough to lull people into looking the other way.The 'civil war' wasn't a civil war. It was a genocide where the thugs in power went about ethnically cleansing parts of Baghdad. They succeeded. They did that with the whole world watching and with most of us not even grasping what was going on.DiMaggio is taking on the continued presence of US forces and also disputing the idea that there's any level of 'stability' in Iraq currently. The resentment and rage goes beyond the presence of foreign fighters. It goes to the fact that the 'rulers' are exiles installed by the occupiers, not chosen by the people. And those 'rulers' do allow for a form of 'stability' but they do it by targeting the Iraqi civilians and by using terror tactics.DiMaggio's argument's great for 2003 but it's completely out of step today because the people still pushing for continued war on and occupation of Iraq are not being countered with any claims DiMaggio's making. Their argument is that when the US leaves, violence levels will soar. DiMaggoi insists that US forces on the ground cause resentment and violence. That was true in 2003 and remains true today; however, we know more today and what he's saying isn't enough. It's not just the military, it's what they prop up, it's the 'government' the US has created.The response to those who insist in 2009 that the illegal war must continue for stability is that no one knows what will happen when US forces leave but there's not a real government there now and claiming stability via a thug regime doesn't encourage democracy or allow US forces to ever leave. The government is not of the people and it doesn't represent them. It will always need force behind it to remain in power.Lastly, the referendum on the Status Of Forces Agreement is not happening this month. It can't. It requires planning. The US stepped in and al-Maliki was more than happy to go along with it. The claim is it will now be held in January when national elections are held. Alsumaria explains, "Meanwhile, the government seeks to delay the referendum till January 2010, when the country also holds parliamentary elections as holding both at the same time will save money. In this concern, lawmakers and electoral authorities say there is no way a referendum can be organized in just a month." Jane Arraf (Christian Science Monitor) reports, "Attention here is now shifting to national elections expected in January. The elections are seen as the best hope for addressing the grievances of Iraqi factions that feel they've been left out of a political system created by the US and dominated since 2003 by a Shiite-led government."

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


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Mosul roadside bombing which injured three Iraqi soldiers and a Tikrit roadside bombing wounded one police officer.


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 1 person was shot dead in Mosul and "an officer in the Iraqi army called Saddam Hussein" was shot ded in Kirkuk. Reuters notes "three judges who were traveling together in a car in northern Hilla" were injured in a shooting by unknown assailants.


Reuters notes 1 male corpse was discovered in Mosul and 1 female corpse in Hilla -- both has "bullet wounds to . . . head and chest".

Yesterday the
US Defense Dept identified the four soldiers killed in Baghdad June 29th: "They were assigned to the 120th Combined Arms Battalion, Wilmington, N.C. Killed were: Sgt. 1st Class Edward C. Kramer, 39, of Wilmington, N.C. [;] Sgt. Roger L. Adams Jr., 36, of Jacksonville, N.C. [;] Sgt. Juan C. Baldeosingh, 30, of Newport, N.C. [and] Spc. Robert L. Bittiker, 39, of Jacksonville, N.C." Jennifer McLogan (WCBS) speaks with Baldeosingh's sisters Jennyfer and Diana Baldeosingh. Jennyfer states, "At first it's anger. Why did he go? Why him?" Diana states, "Some of them have done two or three tours, they have families and kids, they need to be with them -- not over there. We did our time there. It's time to come home, please." John Valenti and Sophia Chang (Newsday -- link has text and video) also speak with the two sisters and they note: "He also leaves behind his wife, Rebecca, and three young daughters -- Emily, 2, and 5-year-old twins, Isabella and Kylie." ENCToday speaks with Brian Wheat, the stepfather of Robert Bittiker and explains, "Bittiker leaves behind his wife Tami, and two sons Cameron, 14, and Ronnie, 18, who just graduated from Southwest High School". The Salisbury Post notes Edward Kramer's wife Vicki issued a statement explaining, "He loved us very much and he did this for his children [Erica, age nine, and Megan, age seven] so they wouldn't have to". Catherine M. Welch (WHQR) reports a Sunday event to remember Kramer, "A memorial walk is planned for Sunday at 6:00 p.m. It will start at the Wilmington Fire Department Headquarters on Marketstreet in downtown Wilmington and end at the National Guard Armory."

World Can't Wait has several upcoming actions including:

Monday, July 13, The World Can't Wait and other organizations will protest the inclusion of military recruiters at the national NAACP Convention in New York City.
4:30-7:00pm New York Hilton Hotel 1335 6th Avenue (53/54 Streets)Also, on Thursday, July 16, when Barack Obama addresses the convention, we'll be there protesting the expanded war in Afghanistan, drone attacks on civilians in Pakistan, and Obama's refusal to release the torture photos and prosecute the Bush era war criminals. 9:30am until noon @ New York Hilton
Read letter sent by NYC High School student to Benjamin Jealous, CEO of the NAACP, asking him why recruiters are invited to the convention. Sign on to letter to be sent to the officers and Board of the NAACP this week:To Benjamin Jealous, President & CEO, NAACP

iraqjane arraf
the christian science monitorthe new york timessheryl gay stolberg
timothy williams
mark silvathe chicago tribune
anthony dimaggio
mcclatchy newspapers
laith hammoudi
aseel kami