Thursday, January 12, 2006

One Hell of a Week in Kirkuk

One Hell of a Week in Kirkuk

January 9 - Since the election of 15 December 2005, al-Mushayiakhi is the fifth assassination of the ethnic groups Committee of the PUK in Kirkuk. They are all of Arab ethnicity.

January 11 - A body of a translator found near Daquq, Kirkuk, the police source told local radio Nawa in Kurdistan on Wednesday. The translator was identified as Ziyad Umed, whose body was found by the police in the 7-Nisan village of Kurdistani Kirkuk, near Daquq.

January 10 - Police found the unidentified bodies of two men in the city of Kirkuk on Tuesday which had been bound at the feet and riddled with bullets, a Kirkuk police source said.

A coffin holding the body of translator Ziyad Hamdi is taken from the main hospital, Thursday, Jan. 12, 2006, in Kirkuk, 200 kilometers (124 miles) north of Baghdad, Iraq. Hamdi, working as a translator for the US military, was shot dead and found south of the city. [source: ABC News]
AP Photo/Mohammed Ibrahim

January 9 - Judge shot dead in Kirkuk

January 6 - A police source said that militants abducted Kirkuk Governorate Council member Ahmad Akkar Nezar while he was visiting a relative in Al-Shaeb area in Baghdad.

The Kurds in Iraq

Kurds want Talabani re-elected Iraqi president

On US relations
The burgeoning alliance between the US and Kurdistan has a more fathomless and more fundamental basis than is commonly appreciated. The amiable bonds between Americans and Kurds in Kurdistan reflect one of the most unusual and of the essence alliances in the Middle East. Contrary to other authoritarian or undemocratic masking elements in the new Iraq, or some combination of the two, Kurds continue to safeguard American dear lives by their momentous intelligence, defense and military cooperation...

...The two nations confront the analogous dissidents and the same allies. They're both in the balance by radical regimes, notably Iran, Syria and Iraq. They both have similar systems as democratic states. [I found this line to be a curiosity:]They're both distinctive in the region because they are not Arab states.
Isn't the Kurish region autononmous - yet still a part of the nation state of Iraq?

Kevin Sites -
The Kurdish "peshmerga" - Rebels Without a Pause:
Many Kurds would like to see an independent Kurdistan, completely separate from Iraq. Pressure from the United States, as well as threats from both Turkey and Iran - who fear independence could create instability among their own Kurdish populations - is keeping the Kurdish territories in Iraq for now. But pesghmerga soldiers at the KDP Brigade all openly voice their desire for separation. "We prefer independence," says Hakim Kadir Tagarny. "We also know the reality, but if there is persecution again we will fight for our independence."

Voice of America:
Kamal Sayid Qadir is a Kurdish writer who has Austrian citizenship. He was reportedly abducted in October 2005 while on a visit to the Kurdish Region of Iraq.

Mr. Qadir was said to have been taken by the Parastin, the security service of the Kurdistan Democratic Party, or K-D-P, one of the two parties holding power in northern Iraq. He is believed to have been seized because of articles he published on The Internet that were critical of the K-D-P, including its leader Massoud Barzani.

Amnesty International, an independent human rights monitoring group, reports that Mr. Qadir was sentenced on December 19th to thirty years imprisonment for "defamation" in connection with two internet articles criticizing the K-D-P leadership.

....U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has said, "The free flow of ideas is the lifeline of liberty." The jailing of people for their political views has no place in Iraq's new democracy. "In the long run," says President George W. Bush, "there is no justice without freedom, and there can be no human rights without human liberty."
I would like to take this opportunity to ask, once again, why the Washington DC lobbyists Barbour, Griffth, and Rogers have been retained by the Kurdistan Democratic Party - the same party that has jailed this journalist? Who are they lobbying (in D.C.) on behalf of the Kurdish political party that the President and his administration are criticizing?

From Kurdish Media: Kurds focus on corruption in Kurdistan administration

From an op-ed in the Kurdish media:
Today, average Kurds are very disappointed with Mr. Sayid Qadir’s arbitrary arrest and imprisonment. The longer this gross injustice continues, the deeper it resides in the subconscious of the Kurds; it will bring their anger closer to threshold levels in any future cases of injustice in South Kurdistan. His arrest and imprisonment is a judicial travesty and an ugly insult to the concept of democracy. It has brought shame on the Kurds and their reputation. Hence, Kurds’ common interests demand that he is released without further delay.
From Uruknet:
Dr Qadir believes that the Kurdish leadership failed, despite the availability of the perfect opportunity, to 'transform Iraqi Kurdistan into a model democracy for Iraq, or even the Middle East, because, instead, the Kurdish parties transformed Iraqi Kurdistan into a fortress for oppression, theft of public funds, and serious abuse of human rights like murder, torture, amputation of ears and noses, and rape. All this was conducted under American protection because the Kurdish parties, and others in the region, know too well that all the privileges and gains achieved since 1991 by the Kurdish parties were impossible without direct American backing and support.

Indeed the Americans, who had established and directly protected the safe heaven in Iraqi Kurdistan in 1991, and after the fall of the former regime in April 2003, were behind the rewarding of the Kurdish parties further privileges in the form of a federal region and a bigger share of Iraqi budget, which no one knows where it went and how it has been spent to this date’. (my emphasis)
I wonder if any Washington DC lobbyists know where the money went?

The Kurds in Iran


Alito Singalong - All in the Game

Alito Singalong - All in the Game
Parody of the song "It's All in the Game" by Dawes and Sigman
Originally performed by Tommy Edwards

Many a tear has to fall
but it's all
in the game...

All in the wonderful game
That we know as Politics

Ted has words with Spect -
And Sam's future's looking kind of wrecked
But these things
Your heart can rise above

There'll come a day you won't bawl
But it's all in the game
Soon he'll be there in the Court
With a wink, weepy dame.

And he'll find for the Right
And come home to you each night
And our rights will fly away.

Note - In all honesty, I felt sorry for Samual Alito's wife when I saw her crying, which is the way I suppose most people feel. Politics is tough, though. You simply must have a tough skin and a duck's feathers so the water rolls right off your back - and not from your eyes. There are many reasons that people cry - and I'll be curious to hear what Martha-Ann Bomgardner will say if she allows herself to be interviewed about the incident. If she uses it for a dramatic opportunity to criticize our Senators for asking the hard and necessary questions, I would tell her, with all respect, that she should have stayed home if she couldn't take the toughest questions that must be asked. Her husband may be on our Supreme Court for decades.

Peter Daou painfully shows us how a properly functioning "Triangle" could have worked for Democrats on the Alito hearings, if progressive bloggers and the netroots were respected.
From the choreography of Specter and Alito creating the "open mind on abortion" soundbite that media outlets dutifully ran with, to the Sen. Graham/Mrs. Alito tear-fest that should have prompted Dems to slam the Republicans for bringing the Judge's wife to tears but instead turned into another Dem-bashing occasion, to the complete failure of the Democratic leadership to create the appropriate tone of outrage (in soundbite form), the chronic breakdown of the establishment and media sides of the left's triangle is apparent.

This, then, is the reality: progressive bloggers and online activists - positioned on the front lines of a cold civil war - face a thankless and daunting task: battle the Bush administration and its legions of online and offline apologists, battle the so-called “liberal” media and its tireless weaving of pro-GOP narratives, battle the ineffectual Democratic leadership, and battle the demoralization and frustration that comes with a long, steep uphill struggle.
Note - Three major political leaders who do pay healthy respect to the netroots are Senator John Edwards, Gen. Wesley Clark, and the Father of the Netroots Howard Dean.

Sen. John Edwards: Alito is "No Sandra Day O'Connor"

Sen. John Edwards: Alito is "No Sandra Day O'Connor"
Petition - No on Samuel Alito

From the One America Committee:
Samuel Alito's nomination to the Supreme Court represents a grave threat to our fundamental liberties. His record makes it clear that he is a conservative activist who will put his personal ideology above the rule of law.

If Alito replaces Sandra Day O'Connor, a moderate justice who represented the swing vote in many cases, some of our most fundamental rights are at risk. Alito won't stand up to a president's abuse of power. He has said that the Constitution does not protect a woman's right to choose. And he has consistently used the bench as a launching pad for his conservative activism.

Sign the petition below to urge Senate Democrats to stand together and use every means at their disposal to block the nomination of Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court. The results will be shared with Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee.


A statement made by Senator John Edwards titled No Sandra Day O'Connor is HERE.

You can sign the petition HERE.

Dear Democratic Senators:

Let's stand up and fight for what we believe in as Democrats. Samuel Alito should not be on the Supreme Court.

I urge you all to stand together and use whatever means you have at your disposal to block the nomination of Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court.

Samuel Alito's nomination represents a grave threat to the fundamental liberties of all Americans. He is an activist who has consistently placed his conservative ideology above the rule of law.

If Alito replaces the moderate Sandra Day O'Connor, who often proved to be the swing vote on important cases, the Supreme Court will shift dangerously to the right, undermining our basic freedoms.

In an era when the president of the United States declares himself to be above the law, it is more important than ever that we have a Supreme Court that fulfills its duty as the ultimate guardian of our rights. Alito's nomination puts those rights in danger, and it is vital that you use whatever means possible to block his confirmation.

Jude Nagurney Camwell-------Date Signed: January 12, 2006 01:41 PM

The New York Times has a chronological summary blogs that are covering the Alito Hearings, links included. A very good resource. [NYT Select]

Podcast #7 - John and Elizabeth Edwards December 2005

Podcast #7 - John and Elizabeth Edwards December 2005


LINK to audio

Elizabeth Edwards assures all she is doing well in the December John and Elizabeth Edwards podcast. Mrs. Edwards' latest CAT-scan results showed her to be cancer-free. She feels great about where she is in the treatment process. She says that Chapel Hill is terrific - tweleve families in their neighborhood have 37 children, so little Jack and Emma Claire are having a great time. Senator Edwards commented that Jack had been looking slimmer, and when he asked Jack about it, Jack told his dad the secret to his success: He has been "running a lot at recess."

This past month, Senator Edwards visited Miami to campaign with Senator Bill Nelson. Senator Edwards also made a trip to India, and he gave a speech in Delhi. When interviewed by the India Times, he told them that he'd seen incredible things in terms of how some of the people live. He saw children on blankets outdoors while they were in school classes. He saw sewage everywhere; flies, etc. It was eye-opening - very moving. The poverty was a sad sight to see. He was changed from having had that experience. He commented that so many problems in life seem "silly" by comparison.

He spoke about his Opportunity Rocks tour of 10 colleges over a 10-day period. He said there'd been an amazing response from young people. Everywhere they went, they were oversold. At the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, 3000 people showed up - and only 200 were expected. The gathering was held in the courtyard instead of its originally scheduled venue.

A new beta version of the One America blog will soon be featured, where you will be able to start your own diaries and conversations. You'll be able to practice "blogocracy" on the new website. You will be able to vote to see which blog diaries rise to the top. There will be many great new tools for bloggers. The Senator says, if you're already a member of blog community, let's hear from you.

The Bookcast will be next week - watch for it.

Cate's name is on the masthead of Vanity Fair now - and her parents are very proud.

Don't forget to make use of the videoblog - send your questions for teh next podcast in January.

One America blogger NCDem asked a question of Senator Edwards about Iraq - an exit plan - and Rep. John Murtha's position.

Senator Edwards feels strongly about this issue. He felt that he was wrong, in retrospect, about his vote for the Iraq war resolution. He thinks it was a mistake, and his op-ed piece in the Washington Post was written, with much care, by himself. The prewar intelligence was faulty. He made the decision, though, and he took responsibility for it. It was a hard thing for him to say because our military troops who've served this country have not made a mistake. He felt it was important, if the US is going to have moral leadership on the important issues of this world, that the foundation for any decision made by political leadership should be the truth. He told the truth in the Washington Post op-ed. He had to make a judgement. He asked himself, is our presence in Iraq today harmful or helpful? He decided that it was more harmful than helpful. Our military presence is feeding the insugency, as Rep. Murtha has said. We've created an impression that we'll be an occupying force forever, and this causes a cynical view of our nation.

There are several things we'll need to do in the short term:
- We should concentrate on reducing our presence early next year and building Iraq's security capacity.

- We should also get other countries involved - especially others in the immediate region.

- After the Iraqi elections, we should redeploy troops out of Iraq - as early as next year. The numbers could immediately be reduced by 40-50,000 troops, which is the number of National Guard and Reservists.

- There should be more effective training programs for Iraqi forces and serious diplomatic efforts - especially to brring countries in that region in.

Elizabeth says John truly believed he made a mistake in voting Yes for the Iraq War Resolution and she was proud of him for speaking out. When someone says they believe they're wrong, it's good not to slap those people in the face. Inadequacy of information from our government contributed to a system of misinformation. Mrs. Edwards used the example of listening to Donald Rumsfeld saying things that were clearly not true, such as there being 212,000 Iraqi security forces fully trained and equipped when there were not. If that had been true, we could leave Iraq today. We don't have anything close to that number. It feels good we're making some progress. Nobody wants to leave Iraq in chaos - you don't leave the vanquished in disarray if you are an elegant victor. She believes that we need to see Donald Rumsfeld step down from his position as Secretary of State, though. She says that he's a complete disaster and he should be replaced.

Sen Edwards is opposed to Samual Alito's nomination and if George Bush thinks this is HIS supreme Court , he's wrong -- it's OUR Supreme Court. George W. Bush is going to be gone, thank goodness, in a couple of years. and the issue is What's going to be left? This must be a Supreme Court we can believe in.

Elizabeth said that some bloggers have been talking about the memos that have been written by Samuel Alito regarding a woman's right to choose. What Alito said was not that he has a personal right against a woman's right to choose, but he stated it was his legal belief that there is no Constitutional right - which is in direct controversy to standing law in this country.

The Edwards were recently in Charlotte, NC speaking to League of Municipalities. They each spoke separately - to different groups. Senator Edwards said that Elizabeth "rocked the place." He heard, from others at the conference, she was great and he'd read her speech beforehand.

Elizabeth just bought her sister a Christmas present - a plaque that says:

"If there were three wise women, they would have asked for directions, gotten there on time, prepared the stable and helped with the birth, made a casserole, and brought appropriate gifts... (Mrs Edwards jokingly interjected: "What were they supposed to do with myrrh, anyhow?")...and there would be peace on earth."

Senator Edwards wrote a recent NYT op-ed with Jack Kemp - about recent disturbing changes in the US relationship with Russia. Jack Kemp and Senator Edwards have been working together on the Council on Foreign relations - they went to Russia and visited with leaders and activists. The NYT op-ed was about legislation in DUMA keeping NGOs from having offices in Russia suspected of political activities. President Vladmir Putin, through a surrogate in DUMA, is trying to squash political opposition undemocratically. Background: In recent years under Putin, there have been rollbacks in democarcy regulating the eliminating of direct elections of governors, prosecution of oligarchs, and Russian governmentt taking over the mass media - all to squash political opposition. Democratically, Russia is headed in the wrong direction.

Listen to the podcast to hear all the details.

Israel Tourism Ministry Says No to Pat Robertson

Israel Tourism Ministry Says No to Pat Robertson

Forward is reporting that Pat Robertson's most-recent God-gaffe is making him no friends at the Israeli Tourism Ministry. And who can blame them for not wanting to do business with him? The article explains how Rev. Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission is separating himself from Robertson's intensely spiteful comments, ensuring that the wider evangelical community will continue to be able to do business with Israel.

I think, if Rev. Pat prays very hard on this, he will see the error of his ways and reconcile himself with something closer to humble faith.

I don't see that Rev. Pat is all that different from Rev. Land or Pastor Ted Haggard regarding their stubborn religious triumphalism when it comes to American politics. If the situation calls for shoring up the "values" wing of the Republican party, these evangelical leaders will push the envelope regarding God's wrath. They'll say just about anything. Pastor Ted has gone along with Pat Robertson's past God-gaffes. Remember the one about Dover, Pennsylvania deserving to be destroyed by God for rejecting intelligent design in the schools? It was just as mean and insane as the comment made about Ariel Sharon - yet Pastor Ted backed Robertson on the creepy statement.

So why is no one coming to Robertson's rescue on this one? The difference is that some of these evangelical leaders have gotten too carried away by their lust for political power and influence. They've left many Christians behind, slapping them out of sight in their race to see how they can garner the most political votes for the most narrow set of "values" that many Christians have ever seen.

It gets more complicated when an evangelical leader says something spiteful about Israel's political leaders because the evangelical supporters of Israel have their own (distictly Republican and divisive) political agenda. As Ralph Reed said,
"The Jewish community has played a strong role in keeping the Democratic party strongly pro-Israel, and Evangelicals have played a similar role among Republicans."
*It's all about false choices for political gain. Reed is saying you can't be Christian and NOT support the Republican agenda. Worse yet, he's insinuating that you can't be Christian and be a Democrat at the same time. Not only does Reed divide Americans on a political line, he divides Christendom. We can't let the evangelical leaders who are tainted with power-lusting political activity continue to get away with these divisive inconsistencies and false choices.

See Joan Bokaer's story on Pastor Ted and his denial of being a man who wields great political influence.

Update: Pat Repents

Bono, Bill & Melinda Gates - Well Done

Bono, Bill & Melinda Gates - Well Done

"For being shrewd about doing good, for rewiring politics and re-engineering justice, for making mercy smarter and hope strategic and then daring the rest of us to follow, Bill and Melinda Gates and Bono are TIME's Persons of the Year."

- TIME magazine, Persons of the Year 2005
I know this is late, but I wanted to publically say that I wish there were more of the kind of high-profile humanitarians that these three people are.

The following are excerpts from the TIME article titled The Good Samaritans by Nancy Gibbs:

As it happens, they have arrived at the right time, as America stirs itself awake from the dreamy indifference with which the world's poor have forever been treated. In ordinary times, we give when it's easy: a gesture, a reflex, a salve to conscience.

....This was already a year that redefined generosity. Americans gave more money to tsunami relief, more than $1.6 billion,than to any overseas mission ever before. The Hurricane Season from Hell brought another outpouring of money and time and water bottles and socks and coats and offers of refuge, some $2.7 billion so far.

The public failure of government to manage disaster became the political story of the year. But the private response of individuals, from every last lemonade stand to every mitten drive, is the human story of 2005.

Katrina created one tragedy and revealed another," Melinda Gates said in a speech after the hurricane. "We have to address the inequities that were not created by the hurricanes but exposed by them. We have to ensure that people have the opportunity to make the most of their lives." That just about captures the larger mission she and her husband have embraced. In the poorest countries, every day is as deadly as a hurricane....

.....[Bono] goes to churches and talks of Christ and the lepers, citing exactly how many passages of Scripture ("2,103") deal with taking care of the poor; he sits in a corporate boardroom and talks about the role of aid in reviving the U.S. brand. He gets Pat Robertson and Susan Sarandon to do a commercial together for his ONE campaign to "Make Poverty History." Then he heads to Washington, where he stops by a meeting of House Democrats to nuzzle them about debt relief before a private lunchwith President George W. Bush, whom he praises for tripling aid to Africa over the past four years.

Everyone from Republican Senator Rick Santorum to Hillary Clinton used Bono's October concert as a fund raiser. "He knows how to get people to follow him," Stonesifer says. "We are probably a good complement. We're more likely to give you four facts about the disease than four ways that you can go do something about it." Bono grasps that politicians don't much like being yelled at by activists who tell them no matter what they do, it's not enough. Bono knows it's never enough, but he also knows how to say so in a way that doesn't leave his audience feeling helpless. He invites everyone into the game, in a way that makes them think they are missing something if they hold back.

"After so many years in Washington," says retired Senator Jesse Helms of North Carolina, whom Bono recruited to his cause, "I had met enough well-known people to quickly figure out who was genuine and who was there for show. I knew as soon as I met Bono that he was genuine. He has absolutely nothing to gain personally as a result of his work. In fact, he has opened himself to criticism because he has been willing to work with anyone to find help for these children who have taken his heart."

This is not about pity. It's more about passion. Pity sees suffering and wants to ease the pain; passion sees injustice andwants to settle the score. Pity implores the powerful to pay attention; passion warns them about what will happen if they don't.

The risk of pity is that it kills with kindness; the promise of passion is that it builds on the hope that the poor are fully capable of helping themselves if given the chance. In 2005 the world's poor needed no more condolences; they needed people to get interested, get mad and then get to work.....