Wednesday, August 11, 2011. Chaos and violence continue, the financial cost of war is noted (pay attention, Steve Inskeep), talk of extending the US military presence in Iraq continues, Iraqi Youth issue a statement, and more.
Starting with the Libyan War. Black Star News (via San Francisco Bay View) notes that "the entire Black population" of Misrata has been driven out of the city by the so-called rebels and cites this Wall St. Journal report where the rebels boast of being "the brigade for purging slaves, black skin." Were George W. Bush still illegally occupying the White House, there would be a huge outcry over that. Instead it's little reported. Black Star News states the New York Times has ignored the racism of the so-called rebels of the Transitional National Council and the attacks on Black Libyans:
If the case was reversed and Black Libyans were committing ethnic cleansing against non-Black Libyans, does anyone believe that the people who now control the editorials or the news pages at the New York Times would ignore such a story? Evidently, it doesn't bother the sages at the Times that Black Libyans are specifically being targeted for liquidation because of their skin color.
Instead, the New York Times is busy boasting of its support for NATO's bombing campaign -- as in a recent editorial -- which this week alone is reported to have killed 20 civilians. The Times has also ignored Rep. Dennis Kucinich's call to the International Criminal court (ICC) to investigate NATO commanders on possible war crimes in connection to Libyan civilians killed.
The Times can't write about the ethnic cleansing of Black Libyans and migrants from other African countries because it would diminish the reputation of the 'rebels,' who the Times have fully embraced, even after the ICC also reported that they too have committed war crimes. Instead, the Times is comfortable with the simplistic narrative, "al-Qaddafi bad," "rebels good," regardless of the fact that the Wall Street Journal also reported the rebels are being trained by former al-Qaeda leaders who were relesed from U.S. custody in Guantanamo Bay.
Charles Levinson (Wall St. Journal) and William Booth (Washington Post) both report that the so-called 'rebels' in Libya, the TNC-ers, have 'reshuffled' their administrative cabinet in a desperate bid to try to calm the fears of their western supporters over the TNC's assassination of their own colleague Abdel Fattah Younis.
I don't believe a simple cabinet shuffle will calm fears. Their supporters are ready to bail on them. The TNC provided a ton of promises and delivered on none of them.
Mike: I'll go. I think it was, I'm pulling up Friday's snapshot, give me a second. Okay, on the second hour of Friday's Diane Rehm Show, James Kitfield of National Journal said, "People aren't really talking about but I believe it's in September the UN resolution that really okayed this runs out and given that NATO has gone way beyond what it originally said it was going to do which was just to protect people from massacre from the air to bombing command centers and taking out tanks, it's very hard for me to imagine that they get an extension of that [resolution] through the [United Nations] Security Council so that means that there might be a due-by-date on NATO airstrike and power for this and the further complicates it." I did not know the UN resolution ran out next month. To me, that's the biggest development.
Elaine: I'd agree with Mike but note that another important story is Reuters' report that the so-called 'rebels' were supplied with ammunition yesterday by a Qatari plane. The coverage from Al Jazeera has been one-sided and pro 'rebels.' That plane owned by the government of Qatar? Al Jazeera is also owned by the government of Qatar.
Ann: While those are both important points, I think the points we made last Sunday in "How's that Libyan War going?" were the biggest issue because, all last week, throughout the whole week, the death of Abdul Fatah Yunis continued to have an impact.
All are important items but Ann's correct that the murder of Abdul Fatah Yunis has continued to have an impact. That is why the so-called 'rebels' did the 'cabinet shuffle' and Elaine's right that that's not enough. Last night Amir Ahmed (CNN) reported 'rebel' 'leader' "Mustafa Abdel Jalil has dismissed the rebels' 14-member executive board" and that this is over the assassination of Abdel Fattah Younis. Kim Sengupta (Independent) explains, "The dismissal of the entire cabinet by Mustafa Abdel Jalil was acknowledged as an attempt to reassure the family of General Abdel Fatah Younes and the powerful tribe to which he belonged -- the Obeidis -- that action was being taken over the death. However, the move late on Monday was also viewed as a further sign of schism within the rebel movement, beset by internal feuding six months into a civil war which appears to have reached a stalemate, with Muammar Gaddafi still in power in Tripoli." RT (Journal of Foreign Relations) notes a 70-page plan to force Gaddafi out which would require staging "a mass uprising in Tripoli" which the US and NATO hope would cause people to leave the government's side and support the 'rebels.' The article notes: "Key to the council's strategy will be the creation of a 10-15,000-strong military force, which is to quell any remaining resistance from Gaddafi loyalists. The troops will be paid for by the United Arab Emirates, the plan suggests. They should be recruited amongst Libyans living in the north-west of the country, Tripolitania, so that their presence is not erroneously taken as a foreign occupation by the locals, says the document."
Jeff Macke: We've got a massive debt situation effecting this country. We've got the baby boomers all set to retire, Generation X are set to pick up the tab. Is more stimulus the answer to this debt crisis and what's the end game here?
Joseph Stiglitz: Well more stimulus is about the only thing that we can do. One of the other things that we can do is restructure the debt. One-quarter of all Americans owe more money on their home than the value of their house. The home used to be the retirement account, something to pay for their kid's education. No longer true. It's a liability. And we need to restructure these debts. In corporations, we understand the principal. We have something called Chapter 11 which is designed to keep the corporations going, keep jobs and give the corporation a fresh start. We need to do that for all Americans. We need to have what I call "A Home Owners' Chapter 11" to get these millions and millions of Americans who are being dragged down by this excessive debt, pushed by the mortgage companies and the banks. Restructure it and give them a fresh start. It doesn't do anybody any good to force these people out of their homes. An economy in which you have homeless people and empty homes doesn't make any sense and that's where we're going.
Aaron Task: Right. Right and I know we have to wrap it and I know this opens up a whole other can of worms but did you see anything in the debt ceiling that got done, let's forget the cantankerous negotiations for a second, the deal itself that gives you any hope that we're a step closer to resolving our problems?
Joseph Stiglitz: No. And it actually leaves me very pessimistic because if I had been talking, engaged in that kind of discussion, I would have gone back to 2001 where we had a 2% of GDP [Gross Domestic Product] surplus. And [former Chair of the Federal Reserve Alan] Greenspan argued that we needed to have a tax cut because if we didn't we would pay off the entire national debt and it would be dificult for him to conduct monetary policy. So in a span of just a decade we went from this almost unmanageable surplus to an unmanageable deficit. And to answer the question as to what we ought to do, all you need to do is think about how did we get from there to here? Four things made a big difference. In fact, account for almost all of the difference. And if we reverse those four things, we're actually home easy. What are those four things? A tax cut for the rich beyond our ability to afford. Trillion dollar wars that have not improved our security. A major economic downturn. Put America back to work and our tax revenues will increase enormously. And finally a medical part D of Medicare, Medicare Part D, where we put a provision that we not negotiate with the drug companies, estimated to cost by various people giving various estimates as much as a trillion dollars in a decade.You get rid of those four things and were actually on pretty sound basis.
Most experts estimate that the defence budget would lose $600 billion to $700 billion over the next 10 years. If so, let the guillotine fall. It would be a much-needed adjustment to an out-of-control military-industrial complex.
First, some history. The Pentagon's budget has risen for 13 years, which is unprecedented. Between 2001 and 2009, overall spending on defence rose from $412 billion to $699 billion, a 70 per cent increase, which is larger than in any comparable period since the Korean War. Including the supplementary spending on Iraq and Afghanistan, we spent $250 billion more than average US defence expenditures during the Cold War -- a time when the Soviet, Chinese and Eastern European militaries were arrayed against the United States and its allies. Over the past decade, when we had no serious national adversaries, US defence spending has gone from about a third of total worldwide defence spending to nearly 50 per cent. In other words, we spend almost as much on defence as the planet's remaining countries put together.
Today Dan Rodricks (Baltimore Sun) also notes military spending, "While defense spending in the United States flat-lined for a time, it was always the largest chunk of discretionary spending in the federal budget, and it grew significantly after the Sept. 11 attacks. It grew, by some estimates, 110 percent since the advent of the war on terror and the wars in in Iraq and Afghanistan. We spend more on defense than all other countries combined." The editorial board of the Billings Gazette also notes the large financial drain of the wars, "According to the Congressional Research Service, the United States budgeted spending of $51 billion this year alone on the Iraq War. The Afghan war budget for this fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30, is $119.4 billion. The amount spent on these two wars over the past decade far exceeds the defense cuts contemplated over the coming decade in the deficit-reduction law. War-related costs already total $1.29 trillion for Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom." Press TV (link has text and video) interviews the Washington Peace Center's Paul Mango about the economy and the military. Excerpt.
Press TV: Why doesn't the US right now remove their troops from Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan, is it because of their revenue for their security firms of Blackwater and DynaCorp?
Magno: Well, I'm not sure if it's the private security auxiliaries in particular. Certainly, there are a lot of privateers like that and a lot of military contractors who have a lot of profits at stake and perpetuating permanent warfare in the region. And so that ends up being part of the problem and the willingness of our political personalities. The secretary of defense --and the president capitulate to that-- keeps the problem going forward. We haven't accomplished very much in the region in a decade's time, and we ought to get out of there and save our money and save what is left of our dignity, I suppose. And that's what all the American people want...
Meanwhile Fatima al-Zeheri (Eurasia Review) gives Steve Inskeep a run for the money in the stupidity contest. Like Steve, it's difficult for Fatima to stay up to date on facts. Fatima wants the US to pay Iraqis money. Really? No, the Iraqi government or 'government.' No way in hell. The Iraqi people are not and have not been served by the government the US put in place. When the Iraqis are finally free of the exiled thugs the US forced on them, they have every right to demand payment for lands damaged and lives lost. But Fatima wants to reward -- please grasp this -- the 'government' made up of exiles who advocated for the Iraq War. In other words, Ahmed Chalabi going to get paid by US tax payers. The 'government' is corrupt. That's why so much money is missing, that's why it's ranked so low on the transparency index. That's before you get into Nouri's latest scandal where over a million dollars in contracts were signed with companies . . . including companies that don't exist. And while Nouri blames the Minister of Electricity, others point that Nouri was co-signer on those contracts. I'm all for the US government paying for the damage inflicted by the Iraq War -- provided it is to Iraqis or a legitimate government that they chose and that represents them.
When you say the US "must clean up the mess that it made," you are saying that the US must remain in Iraq in order to, yes, "clean up the mess." Buy a damn clue. Your stupidity hurts. I can't be nice to you, I can't pretty it up for you or say, "Nice effort." Your stupidity hurts.
On the radio earlier tonight (on Pacifica), it was noted that the Iraqi government, in wake of the most recent Abu Ghraib pictures, was asking that all prisoners in US custody be turned over to the Iraqi government. But some well intentioned ones (or "well intentioned" ones) still think our government can "fix" things. As though if we just give Karen Hughes enough time to work out her spin-charms, Iraqis will forget all about the raids, the arrests, the bombings, the tag-sale on their industries and public goods . . . Elaine long ago compared this attitude to a jerk who spilled red wine on her white rug. If you missed that story, it was years ago. Elaine had her first "adult" apartment that she could furnish as she wanted and she thought the most adult thing in the world would be a white rug (white couch, white was the theme of that living room). As soon as she had the entire apartment decorated to her taste, she threw a party. As I remember the jerk, he was drunk off his rear. He was loud and annoying and staggering. At any rate, he spills not a drop of red wine but the entire glass on her carpet. The color drained from Elaine's face. I'll never forget that. I made no attempt to go over because I knew how much Elaine loved that rug (although I think it may have been carpet, check with her). The jerk insisted upon helping and was only spreading the stain (possibly because he was drunk but maybe just because he didn't know what he was doing). Elaine kept telling him to get out of her way and let her clean up the mess. (That's when I went over.) But apparently, the well intent set can't grasp that when you destroy something, people aren't waiting for you to fix it -- they just want you to go. They want you to leave.
It's the same attitude that says, "We have to stay now because we have to fix our mess." Because, apparently, the Iraqis are children who can't do anything without wonderful us. We are causing more strife and more tension, enflaming the region. We can't fix the problem we've caused because we haven't changed a damn thing about ourselves. We went over there with the attitude that we had a right to do so. Now we think we have a right to "fix" the problems. The only people we see with rights over in Iraq are Americans. We render the Iraqis invisible (when not portrayed as terrorists). Simple children who need us to fix it.
Have you ever thrown a party? If so, you'll probably be able to relate to this story. After a year in practice, I decided I was going to have my dream home and that, foolishly, included white carpet in the living room. One glass of spilled red wine and that was it for the carpet. But when the person spilled it, I didn't want their help in "cleaning it up." I wanted them to step away and let me try to fix my own carpet. It couldn't be cleaned up so I had to replace it.
So here's my point, we've ruined their white carpet and while they're doing a slow burn over that, we're saying, "Hey, we can fix it." They just want us out already.
If that's too difficult for someone to grasp, I'd suggest they read "Should This Marriage Be Saved?"
The US needs to leave Iraq. It needs to leave Iraq immediately. If the carpets need cleaned or replace, a bill can be sent. The US does not need to "clean up the mess" -- cleaning up the mess would require the US staying in Iraq even longer. The US needs to leave Iraq and it needs to leave immediately.
That, of course, isn't likely to happen when the US government is in negotiations with the Iraqi government to continue the US military presence beyond December 31, 2011. Al Jazeera and the Christian Science Monitor's Jane Arraf Tweets:
Xinhua reports Moqtada al-Sadr is yet again bleeting that US troops need to leave Iraq. The tubby terrorist is said to have declared, "Enough of this occupation, terror and abuse. We are not in need of your help. We are able to combat and defeat terrorism and achieve unity." And certainly Moqtada did help unity when his militia helped purge sections of Baghdad during the 2006 and 2007 ethnic cleansing. After awhile, the issue becomes: Are his followers as stupid as he thinks they are? Moqtada always makes these noises and doesn't follow them up. In the US, he'd be a Democrat in the House. Swearing that any day now, any day, he's going to draft a resolution that's going to put Barack on notice and things are going to change.
Moqtada makes these noises all the time. He's done it since, early on in the start of the war, he was elevated (thanks to Iran) from neighborhood thug to leader. You'd think his followers would grasp that he's not doing anything by now. But, hey, some Americans convince themselves that ____ (yes, I am thinking of one in particular) is really about peace and really cares about it and, gosh, if ___ only had more support, the wars would be over.
Moqtada trots out his standard response every time -- when the UN mandate was renewed at the end of 2006, at the end of 2007, when the SOFA was being debated. He's a chatty do-nothing.
Another do-nothing is H.D.S. Greenway whose International Herald Tribune column ("Stop Dithering in Iraq") rightly calls for the US to leave Iraq but wrongly fails to hold Barack accountable for his efforts to keep the US military in Iraq. Greenway whimpers, "I had thought President Obama had already made a decision: U.S. troops out in 2011. But now there is foot dragging on the part of the U.S. military and others in the administration."
I'm sorry, is the Herald Tribune attempting to report a coup? Is Barack no longer president?
Barack Obama is doing what he wants to do with Iraq. It's what Samantha Power spoke of during the campaign (especially when she thought she was off record). Power and Joe Biden were tasked by Barack to supervise Iraq. They are not 'off the reservation' or 'lone wolves.' They are carrying out his orders. It's amazing how pathetic some adults are as they repeatedly demonstrate that they can call out a policy but only if they work overtime to make it appear that this administration policy somehow came to be without Barack's knowledge or permission.
On withdrawal, Margaret Griffiths (Antiwar.com) observes, "On the other hand, if the Americans do leave on schedule, the various militias could make good on threats to attack those Iraqis who assisted U.S. troops. Tens of thousands of Iraqis have worked for the U.S. government or American contractors since the beginning of the occupation. Many have already been killed or are in hiding because of their work. They would like to immigrate to the United States, but proper visas are difficult to win even for them." From Walid Kalaji's "US wants an Iraq stay, indefinitely" (Star):
In the melee of protests surging through most of the Arab world, it is very noticeable that hardly any news concerning the public anger and discontent in Iraq is allowed to flash across the news broadcasts of most TV satellite channels, especially those that sing to the tunes of the US occupying regime and its cohorts. They are busier with the hot issues going on in other arenas such as in Syria and Libya where the old designs of regime change are never ending, as befit the overall picture of a subservient Arab world, in the clutches of Western Imperialism and Zionism.
It is comically perplexing to hear the US officials lamenting the unsubstantiated death toll of 2,000 civilians in Syria over the past five months, while the number of deaths caused so far by the US-led occupation of Iraq has reached almost 1.5 million Iraqis, mostly civilians, besides some 2 million who perished during the sanctions regime to which Iraq was subjected to from 1991 – 2003.
We have not heard any of the said TV lackey mouthpieces lament the daily death of Iraqis at the hands of US troops and their protégées, the Iraqi security forces and the sectarian militias of senior US-backed Iraqi officials. Yet news does filter through various media outlets detailing the daily demonstrations and protests sweeping Iraqi cities and towns in protest at the continuous foreign occupation and the corrupt Iraqi government of Nouri Al-Maliki.
Meanwhile, Aswat al-Iraq reports that Nouri's been given until September 9th to get his house in order. By whom? The paper reports, "The Young Activist, Laith Mohammed Reza, has said on Wednesday that a group of Young Activists have granted the government of Iraq's Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, what it termed as the 'last' chance to present its resignation, due to 'its sectarian policy, suppressing peaceful demonstrations and the press,' or else the Activists would 'launch protest demonstrations, similar to the demonstrations of February 25th last'." The Great Iraqi Revolution posts the following statement:
An announcement to the great people of Iraq and to its youth:
Over the past seven months , the protests and the sit ins that we have participated in have achieved alot more for us than it has for other nations and countries under similar circumstances. One of the most important acievements is the spirit of demonstration and protest against injustice ,which was not a prevalent feature or practice in our society under occupation. It has also succeeded in raising international public awareness about what is happening in Iraq after a long international media blackout which was due to special international interest or reluctance of most governments and media corporations to upset the occuping power .We have thus managed through communal activism to throw a rock into the stagnant pond of international compliance and nonchalance.
During this holy month of Ramadan, we need to begin planning a new start for the Iraqi Revolution starting on the first Friday after Eid Al Fitr on September 9. We call on our beloved Iraqi people , the youth of the revolution and all the angry masses to start a campaign of mobilization of the public towards demonstrating on 9/9 in Tahrir Squara in Baghdad and every where else in the country.
We call upon all Iraqis to use every opportunity that presents itself during this holy month be it in daily intervisits between families in communities , prayer in mosques ,or during other communal events and meetings to promote for this monumental event.
It is the responsibility of every freedom loving Iraqi who wants to live in a country that he can proudly call his own, where corruption is weeded out and dealt with in the most transparent legal way possible , where people have a right to electricity and other utilities , where police and security forces provide safety rather than terror, and where innocent detainees tortured in secret prisons are released and compensated. For those of us who are aspiring for these fundemental rights, going to the streets is the only path for us , the people, to regain our lost rights and to seek compensation and retribution as citizens. Otherwise there is little hope for change any time soon.
August 9, 2011
In today's reported violence, Reuters notes a Baghdad car bombing injured six people, a Baghdad roadside bombing injured eight people, a Baghdad bombing injured three people and in Falluja yesterday, 1 people died in a bombing.
At the start of the week, the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights released [PDF format warning] "2010 Report on Human Rights in Iraq." It's a major report and we're covering each day this week in the snapshots (we covered the prisons in yesterday's snapshot with women and Iraq's LBGT community covered in Monday's snapshot). Today we'll cover media workers who will be called "journalists" by me throughout the rest unless we're quoting from the report. (Stringers in Iraq do far more than stringers are expected to do. Even drivers have had to do far more than drive a vehicle. It's a war zone and everyone's pitched in. They've earned the right to be called "journalists.") I was hoping this week, the media or journalism organizations would weigh in on the proposed law in Iraq to 'protect' journalists. Based on Arabic media, I side with Goran (Change) on the proposal and object to it. It would have been really great if US outlets could have reported on it or journalism organizations could have reviewed it and came out with a position. But apparently, they were all too busy . . . doing . . . nothing. Lots and lots of nothing.
The report covers the year 2010. It asserts that freedom of assembly and expression are important and that they are guaranteed by the Constituion. However, defamation is treated as a criminal act (and in the KRG, just reporting can get you cited for "breeches of peace"). The report fails to mention the best known lawsuit, when Nouri pitched a fit over the Guardian. April 30, 2009, Ghaith Abdul -Ahad reported on how Nouri was the New Saddam based on a wide, wide range of interviews and research. Excerpt from the article:
The charges voiced by the INSI officers are heard, in hushed tones, more and more around Baghdad these days. Critics say Maliki is concentrating power in his office (the office of the prime minister) and his advisers are running "a government inside a government", bypassing ministers and parliament. In his role as commander in chief, he appoints generals as heads of military units without the approval of parliament. The officers, critics say, are all loyal to him. He has created at least one intelligence service, dominated by his clan and party members, and taken two military units - the anti-terrorism unit and the Baghdad brigade - under his direct command. At the same time he has inflated the size of the ministry of national security that is run by one of his allies.
Maliki, who many say was chosen because he was perceived to be weak and without a strong grassroots power base, has managed to outflank everyone: his Shia allies and foes, the Americans who wanted him removed at one time, even the Iranians.
The article -- which also featured friends of Nouri singing his praises ("he is very honest and very organised") -- enraged Little Saddam In May of 2009, Martin Chulov (Guardian) reported, the country's "national intelligence service . . . launched a court action to sue the Guardian." As 2009 wound down, Martin Chulov and Julian Borger (Guardian) reported the newspapers lost the case, "An Iraqi court has ordered the Guardian to pay Nouri al-Maliki damages of 100 m dinar (52,000 British pounds) after supporting a complaint by the Iraqi prime minister's intelligence service that he had been defamed by a Guardian story in April describing him as increasingly autocratic. The ruling ignored testimony by three expert witnesses from the Iraqi journalists' union summoned by the court, who all said that the article was neither defamatory nor insulting and argued that no damages were warranted." Julian Borger (Guardian) reported on the reaction to the Guardian losing the court case, "There was widespread condemnation from around the world today of an Iraqi court ruling fining the Guardian for reporting criticism of the country's prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki. A broad range of leading journalists, Iraq experts, civic society activists and former officials involved in Iraq's postwar reconstruction said the ruling and fine -- for an article quoting intelligence officials as saying Maliki was becoming increasingly authoritarian -- reflected a marked decline in press freedom in Iraq." Charles Tripp (Guardian) offered this analysis:
But it underlines two odd features in the court case. The first is that Maliki was not cited as the injured party, and yet has been awarded unprecedented damages by a supposedly independent Iraqi court. The second is that the article's description of his emergence as a "strong man" of Iraqi politics is not simply accurate, but is part of the very image that he himself has been cultivating for the past couple of years. In order to aspire to this role, he has used some familiar idioms of Iraqi political life, among them the well-known practice of al-targhib wa al-tarhib [perhaps best translated "carrot and stick"]. The Iraqi press has had to tread a fine line if they are to avoid both when reporting Maliki's political ascent.
Throughout 2008 he used the Iraqi armed forces to reconquer the provinces of Iraq, projecting himself as the leader whose only thought was the unity of the country. This was the image he wanted to convey in the January 2009 provincial elections. So to make sure he got a good press, he promised that thousands of journalists would be awarded grants of land for a nominal price, or for free. He was reviving a form of land patronage long used by his predecessors to cement officers, officials and now journalists to their retinue.
Some welcomed it and others were appalled. But for those who persisted in investigating awkward questions, the government had no hesitation in using the courts. More journalists found themselves fighting charges of libel or of endangering national security – a charge levelled at foreign news media, particularly from the Arab world.
And he's only become more of a Little Sadam since then. And the US government has rewarded him for that. It's not about making Iraqi lives better, it's about the US and its allies getting out of Iraq what they want (oil, new markets, etc.). Fortunately for journalism, the case didn't end there. The newspaper appealed. In January, we noted, "Josh Halliday (Guardian) reported in the middle of this month that the Guardian had, on appeal, won in the libel case brought against them by Nouri al-Maliki's Iraqi National Intelligence Service over this article."
The UN report notes, "The appeal court in Wassit Governorate issued a warrant to arrest Sajjad Salim al-Fatlawi, the editor in al-Sada newspaper, on 6 September, after the Wassit Governorate Council and the President of Wassit Appeal Court has sued al-Fatlawi for defemation and slander after he had criticized the executive and judicial authorities in Wassit." July 11, 2010, Iraq's High Judicial Council stated they had created a court just for "media-related cases".
The Journalistic Freedom Observatory, an Iraqi NGO, cautioned against the establishment of this court because Article 95 of the Constitution of Iraq outlaws special or extraordinary courts. An early case handled by the court concerned Ziyad al-Ajily, editor of Aalam newspaper and head of the Journalistic Freedom Observatory, who was sued for damages on 26 September by the Ministry of Youth over an article about a sports complex construction in Basra. The court ruled on 31 October that al-Ajily had not defamed the Ministry and that his article satisfied the citizens' legitimate demands he informed about matters of public interest.
Zooming in on the KRG, the report notes that the KRG Parliament passed the Law of Journalism in 2010 and the report sees pluses to it and minuses as well (offences are efined vaguely and fines are very high)
UNAMI notes with concern that political and other enties appear to use judicial procedures as a tool to discourage media from investigating allegations of bad governance, often seeking disproportionate fines or damages. For example, on 2 August the KDP filed three lawsuits for defeamtion against the newpaper Roznama, its editor-in-chief, and one author. Roznama is funded by the opposition party Corran (Change List) and has accused the KDP and PUK of benefitting from oil smuggling. The KDP also sued three other newspapers, Hawlati, Awene and Levin, for damages, relying on provisions of the ICPC and not on the more liberal KRG Journalism Law.
Turning to the US, Senator Patty Murray is the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee and her office notes this event on Thursday:
(Washington, D.C.) -- On Thursday, August 11th, U.S. Senator Patty Murray, Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs, will hold a listening session to hear from area veterans on local challenges and to discuss her efforts to improve veterans care and benefits nationwide. This will be Senator Murray's first discussion with local veterans as Chairman of the Veterans' Affairs Committee. Senator Murray will use the struggles, stories, and suggestions she hears on Monday to fight for local veterans in Washington, D.C.
WHO: U.S. Senator Patty Murray
WHAT: Veterans listening session with Senator Murray
WHEN: Thursday, August 11th
9:00 AM PT
WHERE: VFW Post 239
190 S. Dora Avenue
Bremerton, WA 98312
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