Saturday, April 29, 2006
Friday, April 28, 2006
Granny knows best, (and she's been acquitted too.)
|Last Thursday Erdla wrote about this brave old lady:|
"This old lady's name is Betty Brassell. Look at her. She needs a walking frame and the court officer is helping her into the court building.Today I learn that she and the other 17 grandmothers on trial been acquitted:
Then there's thisfrom a far fuller report from the New York Times.
"The women — from 59 to 91, many gray-haired, some carrying canes, one legally blind, one with a walker — listened gravely and in obvious suspense as Judge Neil E. Ross delivered a carefully worded 15-minute speech in which he said his verdict was not a referendum on the Police Department, the defendants' antiwar message or, indeed, their very grandmotherhood.
As you read the NYT report it becomes very clear that the New york City authorities have a policy of trying to suppress dissent and protest by Americans disgusted by the Bush Administration's war against Iraq, the brutality with which the occupation of that country is being run by the Bush adminsitration and the rising toll of maimed or killed American troops. Contrary to what prosecutor Artie McConnell said in court this case was all about the First Amendment. It was all about the right of the citizen to say to those in power "what you are doing is wrong and we are going to hold you accountable." That these old ladies aged from 59 to 91, one of whom needs a walking frame and one of whom is legally blind were arrested, cuffed, jailed for some hours, and then prosecuted in a six day trial shows that the American authorities are becoming increasingly heavy handed not only abroad but at home too. That their hamfisted efforts failed in this particular case is a cause for celebration. But it is also a warning - militarism and authoritarianism be it at home or abroad are symptoms of a disease within the body politic and must always be striven against. This case attracted reporters from the US, the UK, France, Germany, Australia, to name but a few and the American authorities are shown before the world to have yet again disgraced themselves. These eighteen old ladies are living proof that the American dream and the American spirit is not yet wholly dead the man who said this before the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society on January 28, 1852:
"Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty power is ever stealing from the many to the few. The hand entrusted with power becomes the necessary enemy of the people. Only by continual oversight can the democrat in office be prevented from hardening into a despot: only by unintermitted Agitation can a people be kept sufficiently awake to principle not to let liberty be smothered in material prosperity."
Has worthy successors of whom he would be proud. As for the granny's themselve like Wendell Phillips before them they have no intention of being silent in the face of an evil corrupting America. According to a press from peaceaction.org:
"The grannies plan to march together this Saturday, April 29, in the march for peace justice and democracy in New York City. Those who can walk will; the others will march in wheelchairs."
As we say back home in Ireland "proper order."
|Dr. C.: What do you mean .....?|
Doc comments on my blogs from time to time. He describes himself as follows:
"A doc in rural Maryland. Wondering what on God's green earth ever happened to my Country."
He has a pleasingly dark wit (and what has to be the internet's best collection of portraits of crabs.) You have to click the link to find out the rest of the title that I've linked to - go on click the link you know you want to.
Thursday, April 27, 2006
Words fail me
SAMARRA - U.S. forces killed four Iraqi police commandos by mistake on Wednesday in Samarra, 100 km (62 miles) north of Baghdad, a joint U.S. and Iraqi military centre said.
Lost in Land That Cannot Provide - Update
|I've written about the plight of Iraqi widows and orphans before:|
Gorilla's Guides: Lost in land that cannot provide citing a reuters article:
IRAQ: Widow numbers rise in wake of violence
BAGHDAD, 26 Apr 2006 (IRIN) - More than 90 women become widows each day due to continuing violence countrywide, according to government officials and non-governmental organisations devoted to women’s issues.
“Hundreds of households are losing their heads due to ongoing violence, causing a drop in living standards,” said Mayada Zuhair, a spokesperson for the Women’s Rights Association (WRA). “More women now have to search for work to support their children.”
“In addition to being widowed, these women don’t get any government support,” Mayada added, “nor are their rights respected.”
Although few reliable statistics are available on the total number of widows in Iraq, the Ministry of Women’s Affairs says that there are at least 300,000 in Baghdad alone, with another eight million throughout the country.
Full Article Here
IRAQ: Increasing numbers of displaced families in need of assistance
IRAQ: Ministry copes with rising numbers of orphaned children
As always click the graphic to see full size:
From left to right:
Gathering Storm (Oh Fuck Episode No: 233,987,518)
|Earlier this month Turkey deployed an additional 40,000 troops in the southeast. |
"the Kurdistan Workers Party is trying to send half of its 4,900 militants (based) in northern Iraq here and preparing for attacks in Turkey’s cities."This is in addition to the 220,000 to 250,000 troops it already has there.
Rice offers modest aid to Turkey
By Anne Gearan
Readers with good memories will recall that Turkey refused to allow its territory to be used to invade Iraq. There seems to be absolutely no level of incompetence below which the Bush administration cannot sink.
See also Juan Cole today.
Turkey Masses Troops on Iraqi Border by Aaron Glantz (antiwar.com)
Susan at News About Iraq has links to several stories here and accurately characterises this administration as delusional.
Wednesday, April 26, 2006
Notes on the current crisis
The recent statement by US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld that the US missions in Iraq and Afghanistan were needed to contain the threat "emanating from Iran". Is the clearest possible indication that there is no exit strategy and that the US has not intention of leaving Iraq or anywhere else in the region. It clearly indicates that the US strategy of "containing" Iran is a convenient cover for a superpower determined to dominate the region.
My full posting can be found here.
Tuesday, April 25, 2006
No one can wear a mask for very long
|The caption supplied with this photo is very revealing:|
"An injured Iraqi policeman shields his face to keep from being identified as he arrives at a hospital for treatment in Baghdad April 25, 2006. Four policemen were wounded when a car bomb exploded in central Baghdad near Yarmouk Hospital, police said."
as is this:
The man in the photo is a policeman, I don't know whether he's Sunni, Shia, Christian, and in fact that's not important. What is important is that if he's a policeman he's very poor. You have to be poor and desparate to join the police. The police are widely viewed as collaborators with an ineffective puppet regime. They're widely regarded as traitors to Iraq, and God help them they know it. This unfortunate man dare not show his face lest he and more importantly his family be identified and targetted and all the "US officials" can do is parrot the same old nonsense for home consumption and get up to their old tricks to get their detested henchmen such as Chalabi and Allawi into positions of power.
It's called failure, miserable abject, stupid, arrogant, failure. To quote Seneca:
Even if we prevail, we but conquer monsters. What cause have we to esteem ourselves because we are not quite so bad as the very worst?(Seneca: Quaestiones Naturales)
The US and its policies and puppets are the problem not the solution. As Seneca also said:
"No one can wear a mask for very long."
Monday, April 24, 2006
Another Great Leap Forward
|What the article below from KR/Chicago Tribune which I've reproduced in full is talking about is slavery. |
See also this article from Kerala Monitor (scroll down) See also http://freetheslaves.net/ (US) and The Anti-Slavery Society (UK). For the record I'm one of many people who having seen what went on in Kosovo have been warning about this for years. When I was interviewed about it by a freelance journalist who subsequently contacted the US owned and run firm involved their response was as follows:
She dropped the story.
I don't know why everybody is acting so surprised and shocked at these latest revelations. It's not as if this hasn't happened before or if we're talking about sex slavery in other places. Did I mention that Iraq has more
Iraq has more
Don't you just love the smell [PDF from UN Office on Drugs and Crime] of freedom [PDF from UN Office on Drugs and Crime] on the march it smells like - slavery.
Commander: Contractors violating U.S. trafficking laws
BY CAM SIMPSON
WASHINGTON - The top U.S. commander in Iraq has ordered sweeping changes for privatized military support operations after confirming violations of human-trafficking laws and other abuses by contractors involving possibly thousands of foreign workers on American bases, according to records obtained by the Chicago Tribune.
Gen. George Casey ordered that contractors be required by May 1 to return passports that have been illegally confiscated from laborers on U.S. bases after determining that such practices violated U.S. laws against trafficking for forced or coerced labor. Human brokers and subcontractors from South Asia to the Middle East have worked together to import thousands of laborers into Iraq from impoverished countries.
Two memos obtained by the Tribune indicate that Casey's office concluded that the practice of confiscating passports from such workers was both widespread on American bases and in violation of the U.S. trafficking laws.
The memos, including an order dated April 4 and titled "Subject: Prevention of Trafficking in Persons in MNF-I," or Multinational Forces-Iraq, say the military also confirmed a host of other abuses during an inspection of contracting activities supporting the U.S. military in Iraq. They include deceptive hiring practices; excessive fees charged by overseas job brokers who lure workers into Iraq; substandard living conditions once laborers arrive; violations of Iraqi immigration laws; and a lack of mandatory "awareness training" on U.S. bases concerning human trafficking.
Along with a separate memo from a top military procurement official to all contractors in Iraq, dated April 19 and titled, "Withholding of Passports, Trafficking in Persons," Casey's orders promise harsh actions against firms that fail to return passports or end other abusive practices. Contracts could be terminated, contractors could be blacklisted from future work, and commanders could physically bar firms from bases, the memos show.
"Contracts must incorporate appropriate language to compel the protection of individual rights (at both the contract and subcontract levels)," Casey's orders say, adding that it was his goal to "to promote (the) rule of law in Iraq and in the labor recruiting process."
Under future contracts, Casey is requiring that all firms, no matter how far down the chain, "provide workers with a signed copy of their employment contract that defines the terms of their employment."
He's ordering that contracts include "measurable, enforceable standards for living conditions (e.g., sanitation, health, safety, etc.) and establish 50 feet as the minimum acceptable square footage of personal living space per worker," after finding that some conditions were substandard.
Contractors and subcontractors also must "comply with international laws" regarding transit, exit and entry procedures, "requirements for work visas," and Iraqi immigration laws.
The orders also mandate that future contracts and subcontracts include "language that prohibits contractors and subcontractors at all tiers from utilizing unlicensed recruiting firms, or firms that charge illegal recruiting fees."
The short-term impact of the orders is unclear, because the separate memo to contractors, which is dated April 19 and written by Col. Robert K. Boyles, a top official with the Joint Contracting Command-Iraq/Afghanistan, shows many of the reforms would be implemented by changes in the language in future contracts.
Nonetheless, the findings and actions represent a dramatic turnabout for the U.S. military, and follow three months of behind-the-scenes pressure on the Defense Department from State Department officials charged with monitoring and combating human trafficking worldwide.
The State Department launched an investigation and promised other actions earlier this year in response to a series published Oct. 9-10 by the Tribune, "Pipeline to Peril," that detailed many of the abuses now cited in the memos.
The stories disclosed the often-illicit networks used to recruit low-skilled laborers from some of the world's most impoverished and remote locales to work in menial jobs on American bases in Iraq.
Although other firms also have contracts supporting the military in Iraq, the United States has outsourced vital support operations to Halliburton subsidiary KBR at an unprecedented scale, at a cost to the United States of more than $12 billion as of late last year.
KBR, in turn, has outsourced much of that work to more than 200 subcontractors, many of them based in Middle Eastern nations condemned by the United States for failing to stem human trafficking into their own borders or for perpetrating other human rights abuses against foreign workers.
KBR's subcontractors employ an army of workers to dish out food, wash clothes, clean latrines and carry out virtually every other menial task. About 35,000 of the 48,000 people working under the privatization contract last year were "Third Country Nationals," who are non-Americans imported from outside Iraq, KBR has said.
"Pipeline to Peril," which was based on reporting in the United States, Jordan, Iraq, Nepal and Saudi Arabia, described how some subcontractors and a chain of human brokers allegedly engaged in the same kinds of abuses routinely condemned by the State Department as human trafficking.
The newspaper retraced the journey of 12 men recruited in 2004 from rural villages in the Himalayan kingdom of Nepal and documented a trail of deceit, fraud and negligence stretching into Jordan and Iraq. Most of the men had contracts filed with their government falsely promising them positions at a five-star hotel in Amman, yet all 12 were sent into Iraq in August 2004. They were ultimately kidnapped from an unprotected caravan traveling along what was then one of the most dangerous roadways in the world: the Amman-to-Baghdad highway.
All 12 men were subsequently executed by militants in likely the single worst massacre of foreign workers in Iraq since the American-led invasion more than three years ago.
Those workers and others suffered from a chain of exploitation that began in their home countries, where families often assumed huge debts to pay fees demanded by brokers, to Iraq. Even after discovering they'd been deceived, workers felt compelled to head into the war zone, or remain in danger for much longer than they desired, just to pay those debts.
The Tribune also found evidence that subcontractors and brokers routinely seized workers' passports, deceived them about their safety or contract terms and, in at least one case, allegedly tried to force terrified men into Iraq under the threat of cutting off their food and water.
The series also showed how KBR and the military left virtually every aspect of the recruitment, deployment and safety of such workers in the hands of their subcontractors. They also allowed subcontractors to employ workers from countries that had banned the deployment of their citizens to Iraq, meaning thousands were trafficked through illicit channels.
When told of the memos, John Miller, who heads the State Department office to monitor and combat human trafficking, credited the Tribune for shedding light on the illicit practices. He also praised the military for taking corrective action.
"Needless to say, we're delighted," Miller said. "This is progress, and we agree with the steps they've taken."
Although allegations of such abuses began appearing in international press reports more than two years ago, and the Tribune's own investigation was published last October, one of the memos calls on the military and the State Department to develop "an effective media strategy emphasizing the (military) Command's pro-active response to the problem."
Separate records also show that similar allegations had been raised in September 2004 with Joseph Schmitz, who was then the Department of Defense inspector general.
Schmitz did not respond in any detail until nearly a year later, saying in an Aug. 25, 2005, letter to Rep. Christopher Smith, R-N.J., that there was a "list of corrective measures" ordered by coalition military officials in Iraq following "a preliminary inquiry" into the allegations. The letter did not mention passport seizures or violations of U.S. laws against human trafficking, but said living conditions "required further attention" and that officials were "monitoring the status of corrections" purportedly under way.
Schmitz resigned about two weeks later amid accusations that he stonewalled investigations. He took a job with Blackwater USA, a private security contractor.
It wasn't the only time officials were made aware of such allegations. Last summer, the Army, which oversees the KBR privatization deal, deflected questions from the Tribune about human trafficking onto American bases in Iraq by saying "these are not Army issues." Similarly, Halliburton said in a written statement that questions regarding "the recruitment practices" of its subcontractors "should be directed to the subcontractor."
Melissa Norcross, a Halliburton spokeswoman, issued a statement from the company Sunday saying that KBR "fully supports the Department of Defense's efforts to ensure that all contractor and subcontractor personnel working for the U.S. government be treated in a fair and humanitarian manner."
The statement also echoed previous press releases from the company, saying KBR "operates under a rigorous code of business conduct that outlines legal and ethical behaviors that all employees and subcontractors are expected to follow in every aspect of their work. We do not tolerate any exceptions to this Code at any level of our company."
The company has refused to say whether it has ever taken any action against subcontractors.
Another memo obtained by the Tribune, dated April 13 and addressed to all KBR project managers, deputy project managers and operations managers, indicates the company is requiring all of its personnel to undergo human-trafficking awareness training because of Casey's orders.
A U.S. military spokesman in Iraq, Lt. Col. Barry Johnson, confirmed the issuance of Casey's orders in a statement to the Tribune on Sunday, saying the "rights to freedom of movement and quality living standards are serious issues."
He also claimed, "There's always been a focus on this, and this is one more clarification of that," adding that the U.S. military has the ability to "terminate contracts and keep people off of bases."
Casey's orders came at about the same time the Defense Department published long-awaited interim rules that allow officials to cancel overseas defense contracts for trafficking violations.
But the orders go well beyond what is contained in the rules, and indicate that most of the measures stem from an inspection of the support operations by Casey's command. Johnson said that inspection was conducted by the command's inspector general's office, a process that was started last October.
While the orders do not indicate how many workers have had their passports seized, the April 19 memo to contractors says evidence indicated a widespread practice of "holding and withholding employee passports." It says passports are seized, in part, to keep workers from accepting jobs with other firms.
The Tribune identified three major KBR subcontractors that employed thousands of foreign workers on U.S. installations in Iraq and confiscated the passports of their foreign workers as a standard practice. At least two of those firms also have their own contracts with the United States.
The ultimate impact of the new orders will depend on how they're implemented, and on several key, unanswered questions. Included among them: how U.S. military officials in Iraq hope to influence the conduct of village recruiters and human brokers across the globe who are several links up the chain from the subcontractors ultimately employing workers in Iraq.
Johnson said U.S. military officials would not immediately refer any contractors or subcontractors for prosecution.
Miller agreed that important questions remained, but called the new rules a major step forward. "I think they are heading in the right direction."
|This young Iraqi girl was killed in Baqouba 60 km (35 miles) northeast of Baghdad during a fight between militias on Saturday night April 22nd, 2006.|
As you read headlines in which George Bush, Condoleeza Rice, Jack Straw, welcome the the nomination of Jawad al-Maliki as Iraq's prime minister designate you need to remember something. Remember that those self-same American and British politicians created the conditions that caused this child's death. Her blood is on their hands quite as much as it is on the hands of those who killed this child directly. Responsibility for this child's murder rests squarely on the shoulders of the American and European policy makers who were determined to break up Iraq and who did not care then and do not care now what it takes to achieve that breakup or who is killed or maimed as a result.
Iraqi children, American, British, Danish soldiers are all.... little people .... to such as Condoleeza Rice, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, or Anders Føgh-Rasmussen. Ignore their crocodile tears for crocodile tears is all they are. You should also ignore their feigned delight at Jawad al-Maliki's nomination an Iraqi politician determined to prevent Iraq's breakup is not what this crew wanted. I expect many more children to die because of this corrupt and evil war. The war caused by the corrupt machinations of corrupt politicians who consider you the electorate as just so many "little people" to be lied to, manipulated, exploited. For them you are one of the "little people" you just as unimportant as this murdered Iraqi child, you are just as unimportant as the people in New Orleans left to drown and be eaten by dogs.
There is nothing wrong with enlightened self-interest it and compassion are the basis both of morality and of civilisation. If you do not care enough about the children of Iraq to try to hold your politicians to account you should at least care about your own.
As you struggle to pay the increased costs of living that have risen because of these parasites, their corruption, their arrrogance, their utter disregard of the consequences of their actions for you and your family get angry enough to care enough about your own children for they too, like you, like that murdered child are "little people" to be lied to, manipulated, exploited, fleeced, and — ultimately, to be used as cannon fodder.
The only thing that people such as this care about is wealth and prestige it is almost too late. It is almost but not quite too late you can fight back and you can win. In the US more and more people, people like you, are starting to realise that these parasites have made an alliance to not only hijack the constitution but to hijack your livelihood and that of your children. It is in their interest but not in yours to concentrate ever more power into the hands of a tiny proportion of the American public. It is in their interest but not in yours to concentrate ever more wealth into the hands of a few corporations whose interests are to be looked after by a phalanx of Jack Abramoffs. It is in their interest but not in yours to keep you permanently struggling with bills for such elementary rights as medicine. It is in their interest but not in yours to keep you permanently in a state were you either have no savings or constantly have to dip into them to pay for the basics. But they're vulnerable, all it takes is a little effort and you're not alone.
Click here to learn more. Or if you're already worried enough about what these people are doing to you send an email with only the name of your home state in the subject line to:
stateproject at gmail dot com
Sunday, April 23, 2006
Another site I now have to visit daily
|I have enormous respect for Susan/Dancewater. I first "met" her at Abbas Kadhim's blog "Abbas Kadhim *Calling It Like It Is* ." While I would sometimes disagree with her I have huge respect for her integrity, compassion, love of her country, and courtesy in debate.|
She's been doing a magnificent job at "Today in Iraq" so I was sad to read that she had decided to leave the Today in Iraq team but as she herself says:
I think that she and Today in Iraq will probably complement each other very well. I've added her new blog to my daily list of places I have to visit.
Congratulations to Susan on receiving the The Grace Lee Peace Award and I wish her every success in her determined struggle against this evil war.
Please add Susan's New Blog to your bookmarks/favourites and to your blogroll if you have one News About Iraq's URI is: http://news-from-iraq.blogspot.com/
All Generals Are Equal
(But some are more equal than others.)
Young Officers Join the Debate Over Rumsfeld