Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Bob on those who call wolf

Today, Bob Somerby addressed the never-ending desire to cry 'racist!':

Let face it: A certain type of white liberal loves to call white working-class people racists. For a certain type of white pseudo-liberal, this is the principal joy of liberalism. After that, we tend to get our keisters kicked by the people we’ve been name-calling. But the joy of name-calling comes first.
Is opposition to Obama driven by race? In some cases, so it would seem, as we examine voting patterns in some states from November 2008. We’ve rarely seen these data discussed; we liberals rarely stoop to the point of developing actual facts. But if exit polls can be believed, Obama’s vote among whites in some southern states fell well below the level recorded by John Kerry. Is some opposition now driven by race? We would assume that it is. Luckily, we had Cynthia Tucker on last Friday’s Hardball. She could intuit percentages:
TUCKER (8/7/09): Well, let me start out by saying, Chris, there is absolutely no way to prove that people have racist motives. There’s no way to know what`s in people’s hearts and minds.
Famous last words! When liberals offer disclaimers like that, you know where they’re going next! By the way: It’s a novelty to see Matthews playing the fool on our side, after seeing him play the vicious fool for two years to get Bush into the White House. “With no evidence whatever” should be his program’s motto:
MATTHEWS (continuing directly): Yes, when they say the guy is from Mombasa, OK, that’s how you can tell, with no evidence whatever. When you say—
TUCKER: Absolutely.
MATTHEWS: —he’s from some other country and he’s also from a Muslim country, make him as foreign as possible, that suggests motive to me.
TUCKER: Or, or when you hear people at—these tea party protesters say, “This is America, this is no longer the country that I grew up in, this country is changing.” Well, that suggests to me—
MATTHEWS: They don`t like it changing.
TUCKER: Exactly that—that suggests to me that race is part of this. Can I prove it? Absolutely not. Do I believe it is? Absolutely. Do I think that’s all it is? No, I want to be very careful about that. I want to be precise in my language. Some people are just upset about health care reform. They’re well informed about it. They don’t like it.
MATTHEWS: So you accept the fact that there’s a mix of motives?
TUCKER: Absolutely.
It’s amazing what words can suggest to Tucker—especially since those very same words have been voiced at all kinds of previous junctures. Despite Tucker’s desire to be “very careful,” we soon got our percents:
MATTHEWS: So any one of these rallies, these people...Put all of these 100 people in a room, strap them into gurneys, inject them with sodium pentothal. How many of them would say, “I don`t like the idea of having a black president?” What percentage? What would you say? What percentage?
TUCKER: Oh, I— I’m just guessing. This is just off the top. I think 45 to 65 percent of the people who appear at these groups are people who will never be comfortable—
TUCKER: —with the idea—
TUCKER: —of a black president.
On Hardball, “just guessing” has always been fun! For liberals, it can also be a way of getting our keisters kicked. But Matthews’ reinvention to the side, we liberals simply love this play. On last night’s Countdown, Keith Olbermann played tape of Rep. Dingell (D, Michigan) fondly recalling the 1960s, his great days confronting the Klan. (“The last time I had to confront something like this is when I voted for the civil rights bill and my opponent voted against it. At that time, we had a lot of Ku Klux Klan folks and white supremists and folks in white sheets and other things running around causing trouble.”)
Having enjoyed the very expansive Dingell as he compared this week’s town hall participants to the Klan, Olbermann called in Professor Melissa Harris-Lacewell for some predictable musings. Like Tucker, she and Olbermann voiced disclaimers—a sure sign of where things were headed. “It isn’t everybody at these meetings,” Olbermann grandly allowed:
OLBERMANN (8/11/09): Again, this isn’t everybody at these meetings. We have no idea to what degree that—that it is this people, but they’re there. And when racism becomes blatant and it’s no longer even hidden behind euphemisms, how much greater is the danger not just to the conversation but to people’s safety?
HARRIS-LACEWELL: Well, certainly, I think the greatest danger to people’s safety is people coming armed obviously to these meetings and the biggest problem in terms of conversation is the shouting. And I think, you know, you and I both know that talking about race and labeling individuals as racists is the fastest way to shut down a conversation about what’s really going on around questions of race. And it shuts down quickly because people start saying, "Well, I’m not racist. You know, I have black friends,” or “I’ve never used the N-word."
So, I think what we want to focus on here is exactly what Congressman Dingell was focusing on, which is the fact that these tactics and these strategies have been used by the same groups, these hate groups, like the Ku Klux Klan, heck, even by southern governments during the civil rights movement, these same strategies of massive resistance against change.
And so, what we want to see is that these similar tactics have been used by those who are clearly racially biased.
“We have no idea to what degree?” Racistly, Olbermann rejected Tucker’s carefully guessed percentages. Meanwhile, Harris-Lacewell didn’t want to label individuals as racists! Instead, she found a ludicrous way to compare these people to the Klan. Apparently, the Klan is best remembered now for shouting out during public meetings. To state the blindingly obvious, liberal groups did the same sorts of things—sorry, “used these similar tactics”—all through those tumultuous years.
Let’s be candid: Our side simply can’t help this. We run off tackle every play; it’s the one play we deeply adore. And oh yes, one other thing. This is one of the ways we admittedly brilliant players tend to get our keisters kicked. We’ve done this, and lost, since the dawn of time. We just keep doing it now.

In this community, we have all tried to take a look at our own actions and that's especially true of African-American community members.

Racism is wrong and needs to be called out. But it's also true that a lot of time we -- all races -- leap to conclusions of racism that aren't supported by the remarks or actions (or past record). And that's something we need to think about.

In the above examples, African-Americans are being used (willingly) to tar and feather opponents as racists. It's a talking point that just won't go away. If you disagree with Barack, you're racist.

That really needs to stop.

And I don't care for the first woman but am amazed at how Melissa Harris Lacewell takes it even further. I mean, people can be racist and not be KKK. KKK is burning crosses in yard, murdering African-Americans. They're hate mongers. There are racists who keep it to themselves and just think racist thoughts. But Melissa goes all out and if you disagree with Barack, according to her, you're not just like a racist, you're like the KKK.

That's really something to marvel over. And the fact that she's getting away with it.

Going out with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Wednesday, August 12, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, the Geneva Conventions should be in the news, Iraqi refugees struggle in Syria, the US and around the globe, Danny Fitzsimons' attorneys advocate for moving his trial from Iraq to England, and more.

Today is the 60th anniversary of the Geneva Conventions.
Jakob Kellenberger, the president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, marked the occassion with a speech noting the importance then and now of the Geneva Conventions. We'll note this section on International Humanitarian Law which applies to many regions including Iraq:

So what are some of the ongoing challenges to IHL? The first relates to the conduct of hostilities. I referred earlier to the changing nature of armed conflict and the increasingly blurred lines between combatants and civilians. Civilians have progressively become more involved in activities closely related to actual combat. At the same time, combatants do not always clearly distinguish themselves from civilians, neither wearing uniforms nor openly carrying arms. They mingle with the civilian population. Civilians are also used as human shields. To add to the confusion, in some conflicts, traditional military functions have been outsourced to private contractors or other civilians working for State armed forces or for organised armed groups. These trends are, if anything, likely to increase in the years ahead. The result of this, in a nutshell, is that civilians are more likely to be targeted – either mistakenly or arbitrarily. Military personnel are also at increased risk: since they cannot properly identify their adversary, they are vulnerable to attack by individuals who to all appearances are civilians. IHL stipulates that those involved in fighting must make a basic distinction between combatants on the one hand, who may lawfully be attacked, and civilians on the other hand, who are protected against attack unless and for such time as they directly participate in hostilities. The problem is that neither the Geneva Conventions nor their Additional Protocols spell out what precisely constitutes "direct participation in hostilities". To put it bluntly, this lack of clarity has been costing lives. This is simply unjustifiable. In an effort to help remedy this situation, the ICRC worked for six years with a group of more than 50 international legal experts from military, academic, governmental and non-governmental backgrounds. The end result of this long and intense process, published just two months ago, was a substantial guidance document. This document serves to shed light firstly on who is considered a civilian for the purpose of conducting hostilities, what conduct amounts to direct participation in hostilities, and which particular rules and principles govern the loss of civilian protection against direct attack. Without changing existing law, the
ICRC's Interpretative Guidance document provides our recommendations on how IHL relating to the notion of direct participation in hostilities should be interpreted in contemporary armed conflict. It constitutes much more than an academic exercise. The aim is that these recommendations will enjoy practical application where it matters, in the midst of armed conflict, and better protect the victims of those conflicts. Direct participation in hostilities is not the only concept relating to the conduct of hostilities that could benefit from further clarification. Differences exist over the interpretation of other key notions such as "military objective", the "principle of proportionality" and "precaution". The debate has been prompted in part by the growing number of military operations conducted in densely populated urban areas, often using heavy or highly explosive weapons, which have devastating humanitarian consequences for civilian populations. The media images of death, injury and destruction -- of terrible suffering -- in such situations of conflict in different parts of the world are surely all too familiar to everyone here today. Another key issue here is the increasingly asymmetric nature of modern armed conflicts. Differences between belligerents, especially in terms of technological and military capacities have become ever more pronounced. Compliance with the rules of IHL may be perceived as beneficial to one side of the conflict only, while detrimental to the other. At worst, a militarily weak party -- faced with a much more powerful opponent -- will contravene fundamental rules of IHL in an attempt to even out the imbalance. If one side repeatedly breaks the rules, there is a risk that the situation quickly deteriorates into a free-for-all. Such a downward spiral would defy the fundamental purpose of IHL -- to alleviate suffering in times of war. We must explore every avenue to prevent this from happening. I would also like to briefly address the humanitarian and legal challenges related to the protection of internally displaced people. In terms of numbers, this is perhaps one of the most daunting humanitarian challenges arising in armed conflicts around the world today, from Colombia to Sri Lanka and from Pakistan to Sudan. This problem not only affects the many millions of IDPs, but also countless host families and resident communities.
Violations of IHL are the most common causes of internal displacement in armed conflict. Preventing violations is therefore, logically, the best means of preventing displacement from occurring in the first place. On the other hand, people are sometimes forcibly prevented from fleeing when they wish to do so. During displacement, IDPs are often exposed to further abuses and have wide-ranging subsistence needs. Even when IDPs want to return to their place of origin, or settle elsewhere, they are often faced with obstacles. Their property may have been destroyed or taken by others, the land might be occupied or unusable after the hostilities, or returnees may fear reprisals if they return. As part of the civilian population, IDPs are protected as civilians in armed conflicts. If parties to conflicts respected the basic rules of IHL, much of the displacement and suffering caused to IDPs could be prevented. Nevertheless, there are some aspects of IHL concerning displacement that could be clarified or improved. These include in particular questions of freedom of movement, the need to preserve family unity, the prohibition of forced return or forced resettlement, and the right to voluntary return.

The Iraq War has created the largest humanitarian crisis. No number fudging necessary, the largest.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees estimates the at risk population residing in Iraq to be 3,140,345. That includes the 2,647,251 Internally Displaced Persons and the 230,000 Stateless Persons (such as the Palestinians trapped on Iraq's border with Syria). Outside of Iraq, the at risk Iraqi population is 4,797,979 which includes the 1,903,519 external refugees. These at risk populations are at risk due to the Iraq War. Syria and Jordan continue to house the largest numbers of Iraqi refugees. The most recent estimates (January 2009 -- and based on registration which a number of refugees avoid for various reasons) places 1,200,000 Iraqi refugees in Syria, 450,000 in Jordan, 150,000 in Gulf States, 58,000 in Iran, 50,000 in Lebanon, 40,000 in Egypt and 7,000 in Turkey.

In all those numbers, it's easy to lose track of the individuals.
Philip Jacobson (Huffington Post) reports on Iraqi refugee Ahlam Ahmed Mahmoud's journey. She was featured in Deborah Campbell's 2008 "Exodus: Where will Iraq go next?" (Harper's Magazine) which found her in Syria assisting other Iraqis. Campbell was visiting her in May of 2008 when Mahmoud was rounded up by Syrian police, told she would have to spy for Syira on journalists, refused to do so and locked away in a prison for over five months. After finally being release, Mahmoud arrived in Chicago and Iraqi refugees who had made it to the United States (a very small number -- Western nations have done an appalling job in granting asylum to Iraqi refugees) expected that the "fixer" Mahmoud would again be able to assist them and help them navigate the complicated and confusing system. Mahmoud attempted to beg off but ended up starting Iraqi Mutual Aid Society with Beth Ann Toupin. That's the bare bones of her story, Philip Jacobson sketches it out in detail (and with skill) so make the time to read his article. Last month, Mary Owen (Chicago Tribune) reported that Chicago's Edgewater and Rogers Park house approximately 3,000 Iraqis.

Meanwhile the
New York Times continues to INSULTINGLY describe Mudhafer al-Husaini as "a former translator with" the paper. This attitude is why the bulk of stringers the paper had early on, hated, HATED, the paper. It's why most of them moved as quickly as possible to work for other outlets. And at other outlets, they got bylines a lot quicker. But Muhafer al-Husaini got bylines (slowly) at the New York Times and it's a little insulting to readers of the paper and a lot insulting to the work Mudhafer al-Husaini did. In June of 2008, Alissa J. Rubin and Mudhafer al-Husaini wrote "Baghdad Blast Kills Four Americans," January of this year Sam Dagher and Mudhafer al-Husaini wrote "Bomber at Iraqi Shrine Kills 40, Including 16 Iranian Pilgrims," November of last year Katherine Zoepf and Mudhafer al-Husaini make the front page with their "Militants Turn to Small Bombs in Iraq Attacks" -- we can go and on. I know bylines -- even if the paper doesn't. And bylines aren't given out of kindness. Anyone who thinks that doesn't grasp the egos on most reporters. Mudhafer al-Husaini earned his many bylines. He is a journalist. Don't insult him by referring to him as a translator. (Nothing wrong with being a translator. I have many friends who are. But, at the paper, he was a 'media worker' who became a journalist. Give him his earned credit for being a journalist.) Mudhafar al-Husseini was granted asylum in the US and he reports on the last months at the Committee to Protect Journalists:

I now live in Tucson , Arizona , a quiet city and a good place to start over and get a wider view of America . I am one of many Iraqis who have come to Tucson . When I talk to fellow Iraqi immigrants, they are also surprised to find such a quiet city in America , but most say that this city is a good fit for them. There are others who are not satisfied with it, and I think that is because they're jobless, which is the same problem in many parts of the U.S. now.
I was astonished by several things I never imagined about life in America . Life is very serious and practical here, and people don't have much time to talk on the street, in markets, or even in public places. It seems everyone is busy with his or her own business and daily concerns. Sometimes I feel that it's good this way, and other times I hate it because in Baghdad you would never feel alone or neglected. People in Baghdad would stay up late and forget about their long workday by hanging out with friends or going out. The day would go until midnight, or even beyond. Many things have changed since the invasion, and the deterioration of the security situation has kept most Iraqis indoors.
I was also surprised that most Americans know nothing about the reality of the war in Iraq . I sometimes find it hard to explain, because Iraq is a complicated place. I think it's the history, the civilization, and the old sand of that country that makes it harder than others to be understood. These aspects were not considered at all before the war. You have to study Iraqi history well and get to know the culture more before dealing with the people on a long-term basis.

This afternoon
Kirk Semple (New York Times) reports on Iraqi refugees in the US and finds in New York what is going on across the country -- Iraqi refugees struggle to find work, depend on assistance to pay bills and worry about the meager government benefits running out (which they do -- they run out very quickly). Uday al-Ghanimi and his wife and their three children live in New York and all but Uday speak of a desire to go back to Iraq. Lumping "special visas" and those granted asylum, Semple is reporting that the US has only taken in 45,000 Iraqi refugees since the start of the illegal war. For context, that's 5,000 less than Lebanon is currently officially housing. That's shameful -- both due to the riches of the United States (yes, even in this economic crisis) and for the US government's responsibility in starting the illegal war.

Not all Iraqi refugees are Christians but they make a large percentage of the refugee population (especially considering their percentage in the overall Iraqi population).
AINA reports US House Rep Jan Schakowsky has released an open letter to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the issue of Iraq's refugees. The [PDF format warning] August 7th letter reads:

I am writing to you today to urge you to develop a comprehensive strategy for the protection of ethno-religious minorities in Iraq. As you are aware, Iraqi minorities continue to face persistent persecution and danger. In particular, I am extremely concerned about the ongoing ethno-religious cleansing of Iraq's Assyrian/Chaldean/Syriac Christian community.
Iraqi Christians have faced relentless persecution, threats, and violence since the commencement of United States operations in Iraq, and the danger has accelerated dramatically since 2004. In fact, 2008 represented one of the most devastating years for Iraqi ethno-religious minorities, especially the Assyrian/Chaldean/Syriac Christians. Because of the ongoing crisis facing minority groups, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom has now formally designated Iraq a 'Country of Particular Concern.'
Despite this ongoing crisis, the United States has consistently failed to develop a comprehensive policy to address this serious situation. However, I believe that we now have an opportunity to encourage widespread recognition of this crisis and work together to find a solution. Any successful diplomatic policy must consider security, development, and governance dimensions, and must recognize the centrality of the Nineveh Plains to the future of these people. It must also include the full implementation of Article 125 of the Iraqi constitution.
I strongly urge you to develop a meaningful policy outlining concrete steps that the U.S. can take towards a sustainable solution. As you begin this process, I would encourage you to meet with representatives of the Assyrian community to discuss the situation.

Please note that Joe Biden, vice president of the United States, has been designated as the point person on Iraq. This designation came about after Barack's unannounced go to on the region proved to be a failure. (That person was not Hillary. Hillary was never the point-person on Iraq.) Nineveh was in the news on
Monday with the twin truck bombings attacking the Shabak community. Article 125 of Iraq's Constitution deals with local administration [PDF format warning, click here] and states, "This Constitution shall guarantee the administrative, political, cultural and educational rights of the variou snationalities, such as Turkomen, Chaldeans, Assyrians, and all other constituents, and this shall be regulated by law." Meanwhile Stockholm News notes Sveriges Radio reporting "Christian Iraqi refugees have been sent back to Iraq. This has raised upset reactions both from within Sweden and from foreign human rights experts." In Syria, Susan Irvine (Financial Times of London) reports on Iraqi refugees, "Besma didn't rush to tell me about Iraq and the war, and I was reticent to ask. But over time she told me about the early days of 'shock and awe'. Communications were down, and the area where her mother lived was being heavily bombed. Besma persuaded a neighbor to drive her through Baghdad -- an incredibly dangerous journey -- to check on her. They got as far as the river, but the bridges were blown up. She told me about the first time she looked out of her window and saw Americans 'coming down the street in their big Hummers as if they owned the place'. She told me how her brother was murdered in the sectarian violence that followed. Her mother -- 'thanks be to God' -- was unharmed."

At the end of last month, the UNHCR issued a report entitled "
Surviving in the city" focusing on cities in Jordan, Lebanon and Syria and dealing with the needs of "large populations of urban refugees." Among the problems faced, "the majority of Iraqis do not have any immediate prospect of finding a solution to their plight. Most of them consider that current conditions in Iraq prevent them from repatriating, while a significant number state that they have no intention of returning there under any circumstances." From page 49 (report is not PDF format, for any thinking that detail was forgotten):

A Jordanian scholar who was interviewed in the course of this review commented that "the decision to flee from your own country is always easier to make than the decision to return." This observation is certainly supported by the case of the Iraqi refugees, many of whom left their homes at short notice, threatened by escalating violence in their homeland and the very real threat that they would be targeted for attack because of their religious identity, their profession or their relative prosperity.
At the time of their sudden departure, the refugees hoped that the crisis would not persist very long, and that withing a reasonable amount of time they would be able to return to Iraq, reclaim their property and resume their previous life. But as time has passed, those expectations have faded and the refugees are left with few choices with regard to their future.
The majority do not want to repatriate now or in the near future. Only some of the refugees can expect to be admitted to a third country by means of resettlement. And those who remain in their countries of asylum have no opportunity to benefit from the solution of local integration have very limited prospect for self-reliance and are confronted with the prospect of a steady decline in their standard of living. In the words of an elderly refugee man living in the Syrian city of Aleppo "when we left Iraq, we simply didn't know that we would end up like this."

Today the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs released their [PDF format warning] 2nd Quarter report "
Humanitarian Funding Update" which shows huge shortfalls for all countries in terms of the monies needed for assistance. For Iraq, the UN was calling for $650 million and has seen $276 million in contributions this year leading to a shortfall of $374 million.

In Iraq today,
Chelsea J. Carter (AP) reports 67 US service members have been confirmed as having swine flu and when these cases are combined with Iraqi cases, you have 96 confirmed cases. Please note that the Iraqi tally is probably much higher. The health care system has broken down and the Health Ministry is not eager to count accurately after Nouri and his underlings began blaming US service members for the swine flu outbreak in Iraq. (The same swine flu outbreak that is global.) Also grasp that the World Health Organization's Iraq country Office issued an invitation to bid on H1N1 detection kits -- that's swine flu and swine flu is what it's known as -- July 12th. And when did the bidding process end? July 26th. So there's a shortage currently on swine flu detection kits in Iraq. They're short on swine flu tests but, Ned Parker and Caesar Ahmed (Los Angeles Times) report, they can bet on the horses. No word on whether the OTB allows people to bet on violence but violence continued in Iraq today.


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing which left three people wounded, a Baaj grenade attack which claimed the life of 1 father, 1 guard, 2 sons who were police officers, 1 "little boy" as well as wounding three more people, a suicide car bombing in Ramadi which claimed the lives of the driver and 1 police officer and left two more police officers and a civilian wounded, and a Kirkuk car bombing which claimed the lives of 3 police officers and left four more wounded. Reuters notes a Mahmudiya roadside bombing which left three people wounded and a Kirkuk roadside bombing which claimed the life of 1 police officer and left five more injured.


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports Iraqi police officer Brig Gen Abdulhameed Khalaf Asfoor was shot dead as he returned from a funeral in Mosul. Reuters notes 1 "old man" was shot dead in Mosul and an armed clash in Ramadi in which one police officer was injured and 2 suspects were shot dead.


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 4 people kidnapped since Monday, two were released by kidnappers, a third was rescued by police and no word on the fourth.

"They gave me a gun" he said
"They gave me a mission
For the power and the glory --
Propaganda -- piss on 'em
There's a war zone inside me --
I can feel things exploding --
I can't even hear the f**king music playing
For the beat of -- the beat of black wings."
[. . .]
"They want you -- they need you --
They train you to kill --
To be a pin on some map --
Some vicarious thrill --
The old hate the young
That's the whole heartless thing
The old pick the wars
We die in 'em
To the beat of -- the beat of black wings"
-- "The Beat of Black Wings," words and music by
Joni Mitchell, first appears on her Chalk Mark In A Rainstorm.

Neil Syson (The Sun) reports, "An ex-paratrooper accused of murdering two workmates in Baghdad could face the noose within WEEKS." He's referring to Danny Fitzsimons who served in the British military for eight years and was stationed in Afghanistan and Kosovo as well as Iraq. He is accused of being the shooter in a Sunday Green Zone incident in which 1 British contractor, Paul McGuigan, and 1 Australian contractor, Darren Hoare, died and one Iraqi, Arkhan Madhi, was injured. Eric and Liz Fitzsimons spoke to the BBC (link has video) and noted that they are not asking for Danny to 'walk.' They stated that he has to take responsibility. But they want a fair trial and do not believe that is possible in Iraq. Amnesty International issued the following yesterday:Responding to reports that a British employee of a security company working in Iraq may face a death sentence, Amnesty International UK Media Director Mike Blakemore said: 'It's right that private military and security company employees like Danny Fitzsimons are not placed above the law when they're working in places like Iraq and it's right that the Iraqi authorities are set to investigate this very serious incident. 'However, as with all capital cases, Amnesty would strenuously oppose the application of the death penalty if applied to Mr Fitzsimons in this case.'Iraq has a dreadful record of unfair capital trials and at least 34 people were hanged in the country last year alone. 'The important thing now is that if Danny Fitzsimons is put on trial he is allowed a fair trial process without resort to the cruelty of a death sentence.' Last year 34 criminals were hanged in Iraq. Private security guard Fitzsimons, employed by UK firm ArmorGroup, would be the first Westerner on trial since the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Steven Morris (Guardian) reports Danny's attorneys do not believe that he will receive a fair trail in Iraq with Trevor Linn fearful Danny will be "made an example of". Scotland's The Herald offers background on the two deceased contractors: Paul McGuigan served in the British military before becoming a contractor, his wife is pregnant, Darren Hoare had served in Australia's Air Force before becoming a contractor.

The International Press Institute issued "
As Threat of Violence Still Looms Large over the Media in Iraq, another Menace Emerges in Form of Draft Law to 'Protect' Journalists" yesterday:Iraq Still the Most Dangerous Country in the World for ReportersAs U.S. troops continue to hand power over to Iraqi authorities in Iraq, IPI calls on the Iraqi government to protect press freedom in the country. Iraq remains the most dangerous country in the world for journalists – who now face a new threat in the form of a draft law published in Iraq on Friday 31 July, according to news reports. Ostensibly designed to 'safeguard' journalists' rights, the draft law does contain some provisions that should help protect journalists in Iraq. It equates an attack on a reporter to an attack on a government employee, and maintains that journalists cannot be pressured into publishing material that is incompatible with their beliefs, opinions or conscience. However, the draft legislation also contains worrying provisions that could have a negative impact on media freedom. For example, vague wording prohibiting journalists from "compromising the security and stability of the country" may be used to stifle valid criticism. Such words are reminiscent of legislation in place in a host of countries with poor records on media freedom which broadly and unfairly interpret terms like 'compromising security' to snuff out and punish virtually any form of criticism of government and state interests. The draft law also contains a dispiriting message on the protection of sources, which would be guaranteed unless "the law requires the source to be revealed" -- in other words there is no guaranteed protection for sources. The bill also stipulates that freedom of the press can be suspended if a publication threatens citizens or makes "provocative or aggressive statements" -- again, a vaguely worded phrase leaving much room for interpretation. "While we welcome the positive aspects of this draft law, we call on the Iraqi parliament to remove those sections that could hinder media freedom in the country," said Michael Kudlak, IPI Deputy Director. "A free and unfettered press is one of the most vital elements in any fledgling democracy, so Iraqi politicians must ensure that the media is free to work with the minimum restraint."In recent years, Iraq has been one of the most dangerous countries for journalists, with at least 169 journalists killed in the line of duty over the last seven years, according to IPI's figures -- many of them Iraqis murdered in the sectarian violence that has ravaged the country. On Friday 7 August, Iraqi journalists expressed fear at again being targeted, following a fiery sermon by a prominent Shiite cleric, Jalal Eddin Saghir, allegedly inciting violence against a journalist. Eddin Saghar had apparently taken issue with the journalist linking his political party, the Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council, to a July bank robbery in Baghdad.

Edward Cody (Washington Post) reports on yesterday's press conference in Paris where supporters of the residents of Camp Ashraf (under assault since July 28th) declared the US and the United Nations were shirking their responsibilities. Cody quotes French jurist Francois Serres stating, "We must underline that the responsiblity of the United States in this matter, moral as well as leagl, is overwhelming." The US did leave the residents to believe they would be safe (which is what Nouri led the US to believe). Under Geneva, 60th anniversary today, remember, the US and the United Nations have a responsibility to those residents -- both in terms of their safety and in terms of preventing their forced deportation to Iran.

McClatchy's Mike Tharp vows the Iraq War is the last war he will cover and he offers ten lessons he's learned -- we'll note this one, "Lesson No. 3 is that few of those leaders will ever have to pay the price of their folly. The 4,300-plus American dead, 31,000-plus American wounded, hundreds of thousands of dead and maimed Iraqis have paid the cost. But not the McNamaras or the Bundys or the Cheneys or the Wolfowitzes or the Johnsons or Nixons or Bushes. They get medals and money. The ones who made the ultimate sacrifice get lost in the pages of history. Five of their names are carved in granite at Courthouse Park in Merced."

And Ms. magazine notes, "Join Ms. in celebrating Gloria Steinem's 75th birthday.
As Gloria turns 75,
Ms. is providing supporters an opportunity to wish her a happy birthday in the magazine. That's right. Ms. will print the names of supporters who want to celebrate with Gloria this extraordinary landmark -- not only of years, but of her amazing achievements for women. To participate, we are asking you to make a special gift of $75 - or $15 - or $150 - or whatever multiple of $75 you can afford, to not only celebrate Gloria's birthday but to keep her legacy of Ms. strong for future generations. Whatever the size of your contribution, we will make sure your name is printed in Ms. wishing Gloria happy birthday." This will be in an entry tomorrow morning in greater length but we can squeeze that snippet into the snapshot right now. Trina did a wonderful job explaining how Congress and the White House are attempting to sell a plan that doesn't exist. Make a point to read her. Bob Somerby tackles Melissa Harris Lacewell today (I feel dirty just saying her name -- Lie Face) and Stan tackled her last night while Betty tried to go over the facts for those who seem immune to them and Marcia and Ruth also offered press critiques. (As did Elaine. We commented this morning but I just don't have it in me to deal with Rod Nordland and the Times nonsense this afternoon.) Finally, from ETAN:

August 12 - Members of the U.S.-based East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN) will gather in Timor-Leste later this month to
commemorate the tenth anniversary of the country's historic vote for independence. "In Dili we will demonstrate our ongoing commitment to the Timorese people," said John M. Miller, ETAN's National Coordinator. "We will join with Timorese and international activists to look back at the East Timorese struggle for independence and to evaluate the new nation's course since those momentous events. We will explore with our Timorese friends how we can best support Timor-Leste in the future." "We will also strongly reaffirm our commitment to justice and accountability for the years of crimes against humanity committed by Indonesia with U.S. government backing," he added. "Our goal is to return home with a deeper understanding of today's Timor and a strengthened commitment and concrete plans for ongoing ties with the people of the still struggling nation," added Pam Sexton a member of ETAN's Executive Committee who has been living in Timor-Leste during the past year. "The anniversary should not serve only as platform for self-congratulatory speeches by the international community and politicians" said Charles Scheiner, an ETAN co-founder. "The United Nations and its members need to clearly understand the impact of their failure to help the Timorese people from Indonesian's invasion in 1975 through 1998. International support since then needs to be made more effective and responsive to Timorese needs," added Scheiner works with La'o Hamutuk, a local organization founded soon after the independence vote to monitor international institutions and foster grassroots participation in decision-making. Contact ETAN to arrange interviews from Timor-Leste. Background Indonesia invaded East Timor in 1975 and illegally occupied the territory until October 1999, with backing from the United States and other powers. On August 30, 1999, the East Timorese people voted overwhelmingly for independence in a UN-organized referendum. Following the vote, Indonesian security forces and their militia laid waste to the territory, capping nearly two and half decades of brutal occupation with the destruction of 75% of the buildings and infrastructure. Timor-Leste's Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation (CAVR) estimates that up to 184,000 Timorese people were killed as a result of the occupation. Timor-Leste became independent in May 2002. ETAN was a major participant in the International Federation for East Timor's Observer Project, one of the largest international observer missions for the vote in 1999. ETAN members also served as observers with church and parliamentary delegations. ETAN was formed in 1991 to advocate for self-determination for the occupied country. The U.S.-based organization continues to advocate for democracy, justice and human rights for Timor-Leste and Indonesia. ETAN recently won the John Rumbiak Human Rights Defenders Award. For more information, see ETAN's web site: .

philip jacobson
the los angeles timesned parker
the new york timeskatherine zoepfmudhafer al-husaini
amnesty internationalneil sysonbbc news
chelsea j. carter
mike tharpmcclatchy newspapers
sahar issa
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gloria steinem magazine
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