Tuesday, September 15, 2009

You could learn a lot . . .

These are the facts, Obama said. No one disputes them. Of course, he also left out a few basic facts. Because we spend so much on health care, the average person is getting looted in his insurance premiums, whether he or his employer is paying it. And her annual wage isn’t going up! What should have been her pay increase is being sent to The Interests.
Obama left out those basic facts. But having listed his parade of horribles, the president did next to nothing, in this brilliant speech, to explain why our health care costs so much, or to explain how he plans to reverse the situation. And his proposed “solution” reads like a joke. What is his goal for reining in spending? See
This major part of this speech was a joke. Unless you read the New York Times, our most famous newspaper. Indeed, pure piffle was being presented all weekend. Example: On Saturday, Charles Blow dispensed
this familiar soap. Obama may not be a fighter!
But on that same day, one Times scribe made an actual effort. Bob Herbert made a decent attempt to explain the fears of average Americans at this very difficult time. Unfortunately, Herbert started by punching “the crazies who have been disrupting health care forums,” seeming to contrast them with “the ordinary working men and women of America who are struggling with the worst economic downturn they have ever seen.” (Only one big shot got named: Joe Wilson, in passing.) And even here,
in the paper’s best effort, this was the best the Times could manage about two basic questions: Why are we spending so g*ddamned much? Who is looting our money?

That's Bob Somerby from today's Howler. I wonder how many people are paying attention?
I really do. I don't think many are. I see our 'leaders' making asses out of themselves on a daily basis and just accept that we'll be out of power for 16 years or so. It's really amazing that at this moment, with control of both houses of Congress and the White House, we do nothing with it.

But I guess that's how it goes, that's how the con-game goes.

And we make things worse by proving stereotypes of us that the right-wing believes and making the center believe it as well.

Our 'leaders' love to trash We The People, they just get scared when they have to go after anyone in power.

It's really disgusting.

If you're reading Bob, you can learn a lot. Same is true if you're reading C.I.

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

Tuesday, September 15, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, a journalist is released from prison and says he was tortured in a Baghdad press conference, Alice Fordham reports on Iraqi prison conditions, US Vice President Joe Biden makes a sneak visit to Iraq, Nouri goes "on a charm offensive," and more.

Iraqi journalist Muntadhar al-Zeidi (also spelled Muntadar al-Zaidi in some outlets) has been released from pison today in Baghdad.
December 14th, Bully Boy Bush (still occupying the White House at that time) held a press conference in Baghdad with Nouri al-Maliki, prime minister and US-installed thug, where they lied and smiled and signed the treaties Bush pushed through (Strategic Framework Agreement and the treaty masquerading as a Status Of Forces Agreement.). Muntadhar was a journalist attending the press conference."This is a gift from the Iraqis. This is the farewell kiss you dog!" Muntadhar exclaimed hurling a shoe at Bush. And then, hurling a second shoe, "This is from the widows, the orphans and those who were killed in Iraq." Nouri's thugs pounced on Muntadhar and beat him up. He was then whisked away and, for weeks, denied all but one visitation with his family and attorney. In December, many in the press (including the New York Times) ran with a forced confession, presenting it as truth and asking no questions about it. He was sentenced to three years in prison but released today. ITV News (video clip) covers the release here. Alice Fordham and Richard Spencer (Telegraph of London) explain, "The three-year jail term for assaulting a foreign head of state was reduced on appeal to one year, with a three-month remission for good conduct." Martin Chulov (Guardian) states the release "was met with muted celebration in Baghdad but rapturous applause in some corners of the Arab world, where the 30-year-old television journalist is feted as a David and Goliath figure for his act of defiance." BBC describes the scene at al Baghdadiya TV (where Muntadhar works): "Arriving at the al Baghdadiya compound, a trumpeter and two drummers sounded a welcome for Mr Zaidi - and in his honour, three sheep were slaughtered live on his own channel." Richard Spencer (Telegraph of London) adds a list of gifts being offered to the reporter such as, "The Emir of Qatar has offered a godlen statue of a horse."

BBC News reports Muntadhar stated today he was tortured: "Shortly after his release from nine months in a Baghdad prison, Muntadar al-Zaidi demanded an apology - and said he would name the officials later." Ned Parker and Mohammed Arrawi (Los Angeles Times) quote him stating today, ""Here I am free and the country is still a prisoner." Marc Santora (New York Times) adds, "He claimed that he was beaten with pipes, steel cables and electric shocks while in custody. He added that he believed there were many who would like to see him dead, including unnamed American intelligence agencies." Ahmeed Rasheed, Suadad al-Salhy, Khalid al-Ansary, Tim Cocks and Samia Nakhoul (Reuters) quote his bother Uday stating, "I wish Bush could see our happineess. When President Bush looks back and turns the pages of his life, he will see the shoes of Muntazer al-Zaidi on every page." Phillippe Naughton and Richard Kerbaj (Times of London) describe the reporter, "Sporting a thick beard and wearing a sash in the colours of the Iraqi national flag around his shoulders, Mr al-Zaidi was unrepentant after his release from jail after serving nine months of a one-year sentence." McClatchy Newspapers' Sahar Issa provides a full translation of Muntadhar's remarks and this is an excerpt:

Firstly, I give my thanks and my regards to everyone who stood beside me, whether inside my country, in the Islamic world, in the free world. There has been a lot of talk about the action and about the person who took it, and about the hero and the heroic act, and the symbol and the symbolic act. But, simply, I answer: What compelled me to confront is the injustice that befell my people, and how the occupation wanted to humiliate my homeland by putting it under its boot.
And how it wanted to crush the skulls of (the homeland's) sons under its boots, whether sheikhs, women, children or men. And during the past few years, more than a million martyrs fell by the bullets of the occupation and the country is now filled with more than 5 million orphans, a million widows and hundreds of thousands of maimed. And many millions of homeless because of displacement inside and outside the country.
We used to be a nation in which the Arab would share with the Turkman and the Kurd and the Assyrian and the Sabean and the Yazid his daily bread. And the Shiite would pray with the Sunni in one line. And the Muslim would celebrate with the Christian the birthday of Christ, may peace be upon him. And despite the fact that we shared hunger under sanctions for more than 10 years, for more than a decade.
Our patience and our solidarity did not make us forget the oppression. Until we were invaded by the illusion of liberation that some had. (The occupation) divided one brother from another, one neighbor from another, and the son from his uncle. It turned our homes into neverending funeral tents. And our graveyards spread into parks and roadsides. It is a plague. It is the occupation that is killing us, that is violating the houses of worship and the sanctity of our homes and that is throwing thousands daily into makeshift prisons.
I am not a hero, and I admit that. But I have a point of view and I have a stance. It humiliated me to see my country humiliated. And to see my Baghdad burned. And my people being killed. Thousands of tragic pictures remained in my head, and this weighs on me every day and pushes me toward the righteous path, the path of confrontation, the path of rejecting injustice, deceit and duplicity. It deprived me of a good night's sleep.
Dozens, no, hundreds, of images of massacres that would turn the hair of a newborn white used to bring tears to my eyes and wound me. The scandal of Abu Ghraib. The massacre of Fallujah, Najaf, Haditha, Sadr City, Basra, Diyala, Mosul, Tal Afar, and every inch of our wounded land. In the past years, I traveled through my burning land and saw with my own eyes the pain of the victims, and hear with my own ears the screams of the bereaved and the orphans. And a feeling of shame haunted me like an ugly name because I was powerless.

Again, that is an excerpt. A small one. He outlines many things in speech including the torture he says he experienced.
McClatchy's Hannah Allam notes he states "Iraqi guards tortured him with whippings and electric shocks during his nine-month detention. He was missing at least one front tooth. The focus of Zaidi's speech Tuesday wasn't on his own ordeal, however, but the death and destruction that Iraqis have experienced since the U.S.-led invasion of 2003." CNN reports (link has text and video) he's now heading to Greece, citing his brother Dhirgham al-Zaidi, "for medical treatment."

His claims of torture are not surprising and Iraq's prisons were the subject of
a report on Sunday by Alice Fordham (writing for the Christian Science Monitor):

In a room thick with heat and sweat, light from a small window falls on rows of squatting prisoners and plastic bags of belongings hung from nails on every inch of the wall. The guard explains that 74 men live in this room, which is roughly 10 by 20 feet. A further 85 are usually in the corridor, he adds, while 12 are kept next to the toilet.
This is Hibhib prison on the outskirts of Baquba, the dusty, volatile capital of Diyala Province roughly 40 miles from Baghdad.
It is just one of the prisons in the province where detainees and US forces allege overcrowding, lengthy pretrial detention, and torture used to extract confessions. While the conditions here may be more severe than elsewhere in the country, Iraq's national detention system as a whole has been harshly criticized by Western human rights organizations.
A December 2008 report by the New York-based watchdog Human Rights Watch (HRW) went as far as to assert a "disturbing continuity" with Saddam Hussein-era detention. A committee set up by the Iraqi government in June is investigating abuses. But a lack of accountability and political will, say human rights workers, are serious impediments to reversing the culture of abuse cultivated under Mr. Hussein.

US Vice President Joe Biden is in Iraq. He landed there today on an unannounced visit.
Scott Wilson (Washington Post) reports of his landing, "As he emerged from his C-17 aircraft into a hot dusk about 4:50 p.m. local time, the vice president was greeted by Gen. Ray Odierno, the top U.S. commander in Iraq; U.S. Ambassador Christopher Hill; and Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari. Biden's national security adviser, Tony Blinken, and deputy secretary of State Jim Steinberg followed him through the welcome line." Karen Travers (ABC News) reports he stated he believes a referendum on the Status Of Forces Agreement will take place at some point. Edwin Chen (Bloomberg News) quotes his use of "optimistic" to describe US military leaders on Iraqi security forces abilities to increase security functions in their country and notes the top military commander in Iraq, Gen Ray Odierno, used the term "stable" to describe security in Iraq. Really? Too bad the news cycle already had an Odierno injection today. He'd just spoken to BBC News before the visit and painted a far bleaker picture: "It's important to see this through. I concern myself that people don't forget about Iraq, and what we're trying to accomplish here [. . .]" BBC: "BBC correspondent Andrew North says that Gen Odierno was choosing his words with care. But he was giving a clear message, that with the situation still fragile here, the US cannot leave Iraq early."

Karen Travers ABC news report is text but it does have video of Biden speaking in Iraq to reporters including when he declares, "I've made -- this is my third trip since we've been elected. The second trip since we've been sworn in and I'll be back -- I'll be back again. And, uh, I'm coming back to speak with the Iraq leadership." Iraqi leadership? In last Tuesday's snapshot, The Economist editorial entitled "Iraq's freedoms under threat: Could a police state return" was noted:

In any event, Mr Maliki and his friends are trying to secure as much control as they can over the levers of power in the run-up to a general election in January, all the more feverishly since a rash of big bombings in Baghdad in the past two months has badly dented his reputation as a guarantor of public safety. His government is also seeking to tighten rules to regulate political parties and independent associations (including charities), causing still more alarm. "This is not how you build a democracy," says Maysoon al-Damluji, a liberal member of parliament.

Chris Floyd (Empire Burlesque) weighs in on the editorial and notes a 2008 piece he wrote:

The 2008 post goes on to detail just some of the vast amount of information, readily available in mainstream newspapers and magazines, about the American use of death squads and "paramilitaries" to carry out "extrajudicial killings" of people accused -- by someone, somewhere, for some reason or no reason at all -- of being "terrorists" or "insurgents," or "bad guys," to use the playground parlance so favored by our high priests and their media acolytes. These killings, these "dirty squads," have been part of the occupation of Iraq since the beginning, as has the systematic use of torture and the unlawful detention of innocent people. That al-Maliki is carrying on the practices and policies of those who put him into power should come as no surprise -- not even to the Economist.

Last Thursday,
Oliver August (Times of London) reported, "The Iraqi opposition accused Nouri al-Maliki, the Prime Minister, yesterday of purging the American-trained security apparatus so that he could attain quasi-dictatorial powers. Mr al-Maliki, who is facing a tough election battle, has dismissed three high-profile members of the Ministry of Interior, which oversees the fight against insurgent groups. He has also forced the resignation of the head of the intelligence service and replaced several police and army commanders in the last few weeks. The moves provoked outrage among political opponents, who worry about the rise of a new police state and accuse the Prime Minister of using the aftermath of last month's massive bomb attack in Baghdad to make a power grab." Gina Chon (Wall St. Journal) reports today that Nouri's "embarked on a charm offensive agmong Shiites in the south of the country, a crucial but fickle electorate, in his bid to hold on to power in Iraq's January parliamentary vote." The voters he is hoping to woo complain about public services including the water -- or lack of -- which lead Nouri to promise a multi-million dollar project that will provide Basra with potable water. Suddenly, that's an issue. It's funny how when Nouri hits the campaign trail he appears to 'discover' that not everyone lives in the lap of luxury he does.

On Al Jazeera's latest Inside Iraq (which began airing Friday night), the topic was the political situation in Iraq with an emphasis on what the death of Abdel Aziz al-Hakim may mean. Joining host Jassim Azzawi for the discussion were Iraqi Parliamentarians Kassim Daoud and Adnan Pachachi along with National Dialogue Front leader Saleh al-Mutlaq.

Jassim Azzawi: And now we are joined from Dubai by Kassim Daoud, the leader of the Solidarity Bloc, and from Baghdad Saleh al-Mutlaq, leader of the National Dialogue Front in Iraq and from London by Iraq's elder statesman Adnan Pachachi who is also a member of Iraq's Parliament. Gentlemen, welcome to Inside Iraq. Kassim, let me start with you. al-Maliki has refused to join the new bloc that has been created and you are a member of that bloc, the Iraqi National Alliance primarily because of the presence of Ibrahim al-Jaafari and perhaps because of Moqtada al-Sadr. Can Maliki win without your bloc?

Kassim Daoud: Well that's a very difficult question. I mean it's premature to answer the question like this to comment that the Alliance, actually, is still open to everybody. We announced it as a bloc which has to be the foundation for the national mandate or the national enterprise. We cannot say that Maliki didn't join us so far, the negotiation is still going on.

Jassim Azzawi: Kassim Daoud, it seems to me that his answer is final. He wanted to be the sole candidate to run for the premiership as well as he wanted a limitation on to Ibrahim al-Jaafari and Moqtada al-Sadr blocked. That has become amply clear.

Kassim Daoud: Well the problem before you is clear but for me since I'm an insider, actually, I'm not looking at the situation as it is. The guy having sort of a political mandate, he would like to pursue with his mandate. The Alliance would like to -- their own mandate so I cannot say the negotiation terminated. I think still we have room although the room is probably slim but I think that we cannot give such a sharp answer till we have to wait for probably too more weeks.

Jassim Azzawi: Slim indeed it is. Adnan Pachachi, as politicians with your finger on the pulse of the Iraqi body politics, how much distrust is there among the political parties?

Adnan Pachachi: Well we feel that the present government has not done its duty properly. We still have corruption, the security situation is still very fragile, incompetence in many departments of state is very clear and, of course, sectarianism still plays a very important role. And the security forces have been heavily infiltrated and they don't seem able to manage the affairs of security of the country. As you know, I personally, and many others -- from the very beginning -- of the invasion of Iraq, we were against sectarianism as a basis for political activity and that's why I joined the National Iraqis' list which has no sectarian color, which includes the people from various sects and nationalities and we feel that this is what the Iraqi people want. As it was very clear in the provincial elections some months ago.

Jassim Azzawi: Since you mentioned the Iraqi National List which is headed by the former Iraqi Prime Minister, Iyad Allawi, who if I am not mistaken, Saleh Mutlaq, you are right now in negotiations with him as well as a few other parties to create a balancing power against this Iraqi National Alliance. Can you tell us how far have you gone with this negotiation? Can we expect an announcement soon?

Saleh al-Mutlaq: Well with Dr. Allawi, we are very new to each other. We have been negotiating with each other for quite a long time and we don't see that big difference is between us actually so the possibility of having an alliance between us, which gather us, is quite high and it's probably going to be after the 8th that we're going to announce something. Anyway, we think, Mr. Jassim, there are about seventy percent of Iraqis who did not participate in the election before. Those are the people who are against the political process or they are not satisfied with this political process and they are against the existing government and the existing parties who are running the government now. We look forward to joining those people and to encourage them to participate in the election. The problem --

Jassim Azzawi: And they want leadership, Saleh Mutlaq? I understand that you are also negotiating with three, four other parties. What we have heard from the media right now, it is a question of the leadership: Who's going to head that list and whether it's going to be a collective leadership or not?

Saleh al-Mutlaq: Well I don't think we should disagree on the leadership. I think that the image that we are trying to put is that the competition is who is going to participate in saving the country? Not in leading the country at this time -- leading the country or being the prime minister or president without doing something to Iraq which is now in a very serious situation is not going to do much. What I heard from Dr. Allawi is that he's not interested in having the power if he cannot do the change in Iraq. And this is also my belief too -- that it is not a matter of having the pulse of this government, it is a matter of saving the country which is going to fall apart unless there is a group of elite people who can lead the country to a safe place. Otherwise, this country is going to be run again by the Islamists for another four years, by extremists, by sectarian people, then the country is going to face a very serious and difficult situation which is going to be even more difficult for the people to whom are going to come after those people who are going to correct the mistakes and damage which is gong to happen if the Islamists --

Jassim Azzawi: Indeed.

Saleh al-Mutlaq: -- are going to run the country for another four years.

Jassim Azzawi: Indeed, Saleh al-Mutlaq, it's gong to be a vicious circle. Since we talked about the Islamists and the leadership, let me go back to Kassim Daoud. Right now the new alliance that has been created, Ammar [C.i. note: wrong name dropped in between] al-Hakim is going to be the new leader of that alliance. He's a young man, he's the son of Abdel Aziz al-Hakim. Surely, he does have the experience in order to carry the mantle of his father?

Kassim Daoud: Well first of all let me just say some comments on Dr. Mutlaq's statement. Unfortunately he gave a figure that 70% of the Iraqis didn't participate in the elections. I'm really surprising from where he got this percent or this data.

Saleh al-Mutlaq: This is, this is the reality. Apart from the --

Kassim Daoud: Come on, come on --

Saleh al-Mutlaq: -- that has been published --

Kassim Daoud: -- Iraq announced their statistic and the United Nations [. . .] their statistics. Nothing like this at all. The participation was in the first election around 79% and in the provincial election 54% --

Jassim Azzawi: And yet you must agree, Kassim Daoud,

Kassim Daoud: -- these things.

Jassim Azzawi: -- there was a large segment, a big swarth of the Iraqis, they were disenfranchised simply because of what they have seen up to the election of 2005 and then they

Kassim Daoud: -- this is, this is a different issue.

Jassim Azzawi: -- decided to boycott the election.

Kassim Daoud: -- is a different issue. No, no, no. This is a different issue. But what did he say really --

Saleh al-Mutlaq: I'm talking about, Mr. Jassim, I am talking about the last election --

Jassim Azzawi: The provincial election.

Saleh al-Mutlaq: -- I was on the ground in many areas, the participation was 20 to 25% only and what was published --

Kassim Daoud: This is not true. The participation 54 [percent] and this is an official figure which was supported by the representative and the monitoring of the United Nations. Anyway.

Jassim Azzawi: The percentage aside, Kassim Doud, let's- let's go back to this Islamist tinge of the National Iraqi Alliance. I'm the first to recognize that there are some secular parties, very small one, in this new National Alliance and yet the Islamist tinge, so to speak, covers everybody inside it.

Kassim Daoud: Well again, Mr. Jassim, let me correct something. Regarding to Abdel Aziz al-Hakim's son, he's Ammar al-Hakim not [C.I. note: wrong name] al-Hakim, just to correct this information. Regarding to the alliance actually, yes indeed it includes many names, many secular blocs besides the Islamist and the aim of this alliance as I mentioned at the beginning that our vision, that we would want to create or establish the foundation of the bloc or National Alliance headed or leaded by a clear political mandate and this is what I wish to get over from the sectarian or sectarianims. Plus, as Dr. Pachachi said, that we are now lookng for many things. And the philosophy of the alliance, one of these alliances, that we are not anymore governed toward the -- we are governed toward the competence.

That's an excerpt of the discussion.
Richard Kerbaj (Times of London) notes that Joe Biden's trip into the Green Zone today took place as the Green Zone was shelled with mortars. CNN reports, "CNN's Cal Perry said he heard four loud 'booms.' Warning alarms were sounded, and security was stepped up". Reuters adds the Baghdad mortar attack resulted in 2 Iraqis being killed and five injured ("They fell shortly after U.S. Vice President Joe Biden flew into Iraq for talks with Iraqi leaders.").

In other reported violence today . . .


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Kirkuk roadside bombing which injured two police officers and one civilian. Reuters notes a Falluja roadside bombing which left three people injured and, dropping back to Monday, a Baghdad roadside bombing which injured one person.


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 1 person stabbed to death in Kirkuk.


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 1 police officer wounded in a machine gun attack outside his home. Reuters drops back to Monday to note 1 Iraqi soldier shot dead in an attack on a Mosul checkpoint.

Today, David Finkel's
The Good Soldiers is released -- his book about embedding with the US military in Iraq. Ann Scott Tyson (Washington Post) reports the book "provides a graphic, second-by-second description of the U.S. military's 2007 killing of two Reuters journalists" Namir Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh in Baghdad July 12, 2007. She quotes the wire agency's attorney Thomas Kim, "We continue to have questions whether or not the actions taken by the soldiers in the area that led to the deaths of the two Reuters journalists were necessary and appropriate. My goal is to understand the basic on which the military concluded that the shooting was justified." As far back as July 16, 2007, Dean Yaters (Reuters) was reporting that the wire agency was asking for a full inquiry into the killings. At the time of their deaths, the US military was asserting that they had encountered 'insurgents' and gunfire was exchanged. Ann Scott Tyson reports Finkel's article backs up the claim that 'insurgents' were present and firefights had taken place. The cameras were apparently mistaken for weapons according to Finkel's account: The gunner tracked Noor-Eldeen as he fled into a pile of trash and fired three more bursts with the cannon, killing him as he could be seen trying to stand in a cloud of dust. Chmagh was wounded and began trying to push himself up on his knees and crawl away, but could move only a few inches. The crew saw that Chmagh was alive, but initially did not shoot him because he was unarmed. However, when a van drove up and two men tried to pick up Chmagh, the crew requested permission to fire and received it. The gunner opened fire, killing Chmagh and the two men, and injuring two children who were inside the van.

Staying with US reporters,
last Friday a Democracy Now! segment with Jeremy Scahill was finally aired. (It was a taped segment.) It was Iraq-related so it wasn't 'pressing'. Too bad. On that segment, Jeremy called out Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for his silence over the death by electrocution in Iraq of one of Reid's own constituents. Las Vegas' KTNV reports that yesterday Reid suddenly became interested in the death of Adam Hermanson and wants an investigation. We highlighted Jeremy's report in The Nation last week but if you're late to the story -- or confused because there have been so many deaths by electrocution in Iraq -- click here. Today Scahill reports at The Nation on Reid's call for an investigation and notes, "In interviews with The Nation, the Hermanson family alleged that Triple Canopy initially misled them about the circumstances surrounding Adam Hermanson's death. Patricia Hermanson, Adam's mother, says she was told her son was found collapsed by his bed, not in a shower. The family also says that they were told Adam had no marks on his body only to discover later that he had wounds up and down his left arm. The Hermansons also say that a Triple Canopy representative told them a few days after Adam's death the company stripped his living quarters and removed the plumbing, water heater, electrical wiring and other equipment. If true, this could make determining the circumstances of Hermanson's death--and what role, if any, faulty wiring may have played--more difficult. Triple Canopy says it will not comment while an investigation is still pending." Staying on the subject of contractors, we'll note the opening of Sherwood Ross' "2 GOP-APPOINTED JUDGES SHAME AMERICA" (Veterans Today):The federal Appeals Court decision to toss a lawsuit claiming contractors tortured detainees in Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison is what you'd expect from a tyranny.The new ruling brushes off the charges by 212 Iraqis who said they or their late husbands were abused by U.S. personnel at Abu Ghraib. The suit charged private security firm CACI International Inc., of Arlington, Va., of crimes inside the Baghdad hellhole. But in a 2-1 ruling, the D.C. Court of Appeals said CACI "is protected by laws barring suits filed as the result of military activities during a time of war," the Associated Press reported. This opinion was written by Judge Laurence Silberman, a Reagan appointee, and supported by Judge Brett Kavanaugh, a Bush appointee. "During wartime, where a private service contractor is integrated into combatant activities over which the military retains command authority, a tort claim arising out of the contractor's engagement in such activities shall be pre-empted," Silberman wrote. If so, with about as many U.S.-led contract mercenaries as regular army involved in the Iraq conflict, this decision preposterously exempts some 150,000 fighters from legal action for any crimes they commit. It gives a shoot-to-kill pass to privateers such as Blackwater, whose operatives on one occasion are said to have gunned down 17 unarmed Iraqi civilians. "This abuse and torture of these prisoners detained during war time constituted war crimes and torture in violation of the Geneva Conventions of 1949, the U.S. War Crimes Act, the Convention against Torture, and the U.S. Federal Anti-torture Statute---felonies, punishable by death if death results as a violation thereof," said Francis Boyle, an international law authority at the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana. "Judges Silberman and Kavanaugh have now become Accessories After the Fact to torture, war crimes and felonies in violation of United States federal law and international criminal law," Boyle asserted. (See if they are ever prosecuted!)

Finally, independent journalist
David Bacon explores the intersection of labor and immigration in "Photos: Labor Camps in Hollister, Calif." (Political Affairs):The Campo Quintero (Quintero Camp) is a labor camp for farmworkers, operated by labor contractor Hope Quintero. Most of the workers living in this camp are also Mixtec, Triqui or other indigenous migrants from southern Mexico, although workers from other parts of Mexico also live here. The signs at the camp entrance say: "Drunks and scandalous people will absolutely not be admitted. Those who disobey will be thrown out of the camp." and "It is strictly prohibited to rob or take things without permission." Ramon Valadez Tadeo, a migrant from Guadalajara, shares his room with four other men, as does Jesus Ramon from Tijuana.Labor camps are gradually disappearing in California. Up through the 1960s and 70s, growers maintained camps where migrant workers could live while they were employed at the ranch. In some labor camps, single workers without families lived year around. This was especially true for Filipinos, who came from the islands as single men, and who were forbidden by antimiscegenation laws from marrying women of other nationalities and starting families.When the United Farm Workers grew strong in the 1970s and early 1980s, growers began tearing down the camps, disclaiming any responsibility for housing for the farm workers they employed. As a result, today many California farm workers sleep in cars, crowded in motels or apartments, or even under the trees.
David Bacon's latest book is Illegal People -- How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants (Beacon Press) which just won the CLR James Award. Bacon is also on KFPA's The Morning Show today (each Wednesday) discussing labor and immigration issues.

the los angeles timesned parkermohammed arrawithe new york times
marc santora
the times of london
the telegraph of londonalice fordhamahmeed rasheedsuadad al-salhykhalid al-ansarytim cockssamia nakhoul
mcclatchy newspapershannah allemsahar issabbc news
andrew north
martin chulov
abc newsjake tapperkaren travers
the wall street journalgina chon
chris floyd
oliver augustthe washington postann scott tyson
the economist
reutersdean baker
jeremy scahill
david baconsherwood ross

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