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An untold number have lost their husbands or other male relatives to violence or detention since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, often leaving them alone with children and virtually no safety net or job opportunities....Al-Samarraie warned of the desperate Iraqi women who have become suicide bombers. "Many of them are widows, or homeless or hopeless," she said. "No one opened the door for them."
Iraq's state minister for women's affairs has quit to protest a lack of resources for a daunting task — improving the lives of "a full army of widows" and other women left poor or abandoned by war.
Trial date set for Iraqi 'shoe-thrower'
By Steven Lee Myers, International Herald Tribune
BAGHDAD: The Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at the former American president, George Bush, will go on trial on Feb. 19, charged with assaulting a foreign leader, a spokesman for the court and one of the man's lawyer said on Sunday.
Lawyers for the journalist, Muntader al-Zaidi, 29, had tried to reduce the charges stemming from the incident, which made him a folk hero in much of the Arab world and beyond, but in setting a trial date a higher court let the most serious charges stand. If convicted, he could face as many as 15 years in prison.
Zaidi hurled his shoes at Bush on Dec. 14 during a joint press conference with Iraq's prime minister, Nouri Kamal al-Maliki, narrowly missing the former president. "This is a gift from the Iraqis," he shouted. "This is the farewell kiss, you dog!"
By Dave Lindorff
If the disaster of the so-called "stimulus" bill just passed by the Senate doesn't convince President Obama and his advisers that the strategy of "bipartisanship" that he has been espousing is a political suicide, nothing will.
The Republican Party, with the willing help of conservative Democrats like Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) and Democratic turncoats like Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), has forced Obama to agree to a joke of a stimulus package that is nearly half composed of tax breaks which will do nothing to bolster the economy (since most of the money will end up either paying down credit card debt or buying Chinese and Sri Lankan imports) and that is stripped of $40 billion to help struggling state and local governments.
Fresh from its rout in November, the GOP is, in fact, openly trying to sabotage Obama's economic stimulus plan, because the last thing Republicans want to see is an economy on the upturn in 2010 or 2012.
By ROBERT BURNS, AP
WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House is considering at least two troop withdrawal options as it weighs a new Iraq strategy — one that would preserve President Barack Obama's campaign pledge to get all combat brigades out within 16 months and a second that would stretch it to 23 months, two officials said Friday.
A third, in-between option of 19 months is also being weighed, according to the officials, neither of whom would discuss the sensitive topic without being granted anonymity. One of the officials said the main focus appears to be on the 16-month and 23-month options; 23 months would run to the end of 2010.
By Peggy Gish, CPTnet
The mood was one of celebration. Iraqis in the northern Diyala province city of Khanaqin crowded into polling centers on provincial election day, 31 January 2009. Many dressed in their best Kurdish or Arab traditional clothing or wrapped in flags. "We are happy to express our democracy," several told us after voting, showing their purple tipped fingers.
As international independent election observers, CPT Iraq team members visited three polling sites. At each place, voting procedures seemed efficient, and workers seemed helpful and fair. We saw no threatening behavior on the part of Khanaqin police who guarded the sites and searched people going in. But not everyone walked out happy or with purple fingers.
By Dahr Jamail, Inter Press Service
BAGHDAD — Amidst the soaring unemployment in Iraq, the gravediggers have been busy. So busy that officials have no record of the number of graves dug; of the real death toll, that is.
“I’ve been working here four years,” a gravedigger who gave his name as Ali told IPS at the largest cemetery in Baghdad, a sprawling expanse in the Abu Ghraib section of the capital city. “In 2006 and some of 2007, we buried 40- 50 people daily. This went on for one-and-a-half years.
“Twenty-five percent of these were from violence, and another 70 percent were killed by the Mehdi Army (the militia of Shia cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr).” Only a few appeared to have died from natural causes.
“Most of the dead were never logged by anyone,” Ali said, “because we didn’t check death certificates, we just tried to get the bodies into the ground as quickly as possible.”
An Iraqi Army checkpoint was set up outside the vast cemetery a year ago.
From Dale Pierce
This is a poem my son wrote after returning from Iraq, before he shot himself for what Bush had him do in Iraq.
Got home almost a year and a half ago
We were so happy
That beer never tasted so good
Iraq was the farthest thing from my mind
That was the best week of my life.It crept up slowly
First just while sleeping
More real and scary than when it happened
After, it's on the mind awake
Never 10 minutes goes by without being reminded
Been home a year and a half physically
Mentally, I will never be home.
- "Still at War" by Noah Pierce, poem inside his funeral folder
PS. Go get him!
MORE POEMS: PDF.
That little dork who came up to the shoulderpads of the players as he flipped the coin to begin the Super Bowl, that pathetic genocidist whom Admiral Fallon famously derided as an "ass-kissing little chickenshit," that hero to morons capable of intimidating small children and Congress members, General David Petraeus is now opposing the decision of our president to do exactly what we elected him to do and get out of Iraq within 16 months. Treason is the only word for it. General Betray Us is well-named.
UPDATE: I've heard an objection to using the term "genocidist." I think it's appropriate but recognize room for disagreement. A quarter of the population of Iraq is dead or displaced as the result of the work of generals who in some cases openly stated their desire to punish the people (supposedly) responsible for 9-11. If the term genocide is to be useful, it should -- I think -- encompass such actions. If the term suggests something else to you, please be assured that I don't mean that.
By Dahr Jamail, www.truthout.org
If there is to be any degree of honesty in our communication, we must begin to acknowledge that the lexicon of words that describes the human condition is no longer universally applicable.
I am in Iraq after four years away.
Most Iraqis I talked with on the eve of the first provincial elections being held after 2005 told me “security is better.”
I myself was lulled into a false sense of security upon my arrival a week ago. Indeed, security is “better,” compared to my last trip here, when the number of attacks per month against the occupation forces and Iraqi collaborators used to be around 6,000. Today, we barely have one American soldier being killed every other day and only a score injured weekly. Casualties among Iraqi security forces are just ten times that number.
But yes, one could say security is better if one is clear that it is better in comparison not to downtown Houston but to Fallujah 2004.
By Dave Lindorff
If an article by Gareth Porter in run by InterPress is correct that CentCom Commander Gen. David Petraeus and Iraq Commander Gen. Ray Odierno, backed by a group of lower-ranking generals, are planning to mount a public campaign to try and undermine President Obama’s plan for a withdrawal from Iraq in 16 months, Obama needs to act fast and nip this dangerous act of insubordination in the bud.
When you stop to think about it, people measure how well their lives are going not by their absolute state of being but by their situation relative to their expectations. For example, a poor person in a developing country may be ecstatic about getting a pair of shoes for the first time; in contrast, a billionaire may commit suicide after he loses $100 million in a down market.
The same is true for nations. The American elite has enjoyed the United States’ dominant status in the world since World War II and became thoroughly drunk with U.S. superiority in the last two decades after the demise of the Soviet Union left the country as the only superpower. This elite is resistant to accepting the reality that a multipolar world will soon be at hand.
By Fadhel al-Badrani, Reuters
RAMADI, Iraq, Feb 2 (Reuters) - Tribal sheikhs who helped drive al Qaeda militants out of Western Iraq threatened on Monday to take up arms against the provincial government because of what they said was fraud in Saturday's provincial polls.
The election was the most peaceful in Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein, but there has been tension in the west of the country between Sunni Arab groups, many of whom boycotted the last provincial ballot in 2005.
Anbar province, Iraq's vast western third, was once the heartland of the Sunni Arab insurgency against U.S. troops but is now largely quiet, thanks to tribal guard units known as Awakening councils that helped drive out al Qaeda militants.
In one of the toughest-fought contests of the election, the tribes have challenged the Iraqi Islamic Party (IIP), a Sunni religious party which has run the province since 2005.
By Norman Solomon
The United States began its war in Afghanistan 88 months ago. “The war on terror” has no sunset clause. As a perpetual emotion machine, it offers to avenge what can never heal and to fix grief that is irreparable.
For the crimes against humanity committed on Sept. 11, 2001, countless others are to follow, with huge conceits about technological “sophistication” and moral superiority. But if we scrape away the concrete of media truisms, we may reach substrata where some poets have dug.
W.H. Auden: “Those to whom evil is done / Do evil in return.”
Stanley Kunitz: “In a murderous time / the heart breaks and breaks / and lives by breaking.”
Maliki Allies Ahead in Iraqi Election; Voters See Election of Maliki's Party as "Most Expedient Way to End the Occupation"
In Iraq, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and his allies look poised for a sweeping victory in provincial polls held Saturday. We speak to two independent journalists just back from Iraq, Rick Rowley and David Enders. Rowley said, "Many Iraqis saw this, the votes they were casting in this election, as a way to end the American occupation."
By Gareth Porter, IPS
WASHINGTON, Feb 2 (IPS) - CENTCOM commander Gen. David Petraeus, supported by Defence Secretary Robert Gates, tried to convince President Barack Obama that he had to back down from his campaign pledge to withdraw all U.S. combat troops from Iraq within 16 months at an Oval Office meeting Jan. 21.
But Obama informed Gates, Petraeus and Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen that he wasn't convinced and that he wanted Gates and the military leaders to come back quickly with a detailed 16-month plan, according to two sources who have talked with participants in the meeting.
CO-SPONSOR H.RES. 72, EXPRESS DISAPPROVAL OF THE AGREEMENT BETWEEN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA AND THE REPUBLIC OF IRAQ
Current Co-sponsors: Filner, Grijalva, Jackson-Lee, Lewis (GA), Stark, Woolsey
I invite you to join me as a co-sponsor of H. Res. 72, a resolution I recently introduced disapproving of the U.S.-Iraq agreement regarding troop withdrawal reached in Baghdad on November 17, 2008. The purpose of the resolution is to provide a vehicle through which House members can register their support or opposition to an agreement that was never formally submitted to them for their consideration by the Bush Administration.
From Mark Crispin Miller
"The biggest complaint among potential voters was that their names were missing from therosters at polling stations." And yet, as usual, such bad news doesn't register: "In Washington, President Obama praised the election." So will he also praise our next election, regardless of how many thousands find their names missing from the voter rolls?
Calm Iraqi election marred as thousands were denied vote
By Leila Fadel | McClatchy Newspapers
BAGHDAD - Iraqis cast ballots in 14 of the country's 18 provinces Saturday, selecting among 14,500 candidates for 440 seats on new provincial councils.
The day was free of election-related violence, but thousands of Iraqis were unable to vote because their names were inexplicably missing from voter lists. Some confused Iraqis even wandered neighborhoods looking for a polling place that would accept their vote.
By Dahr Jamail, Inter Press Service
BAGHDAD — After strong polling for the provincial elections Saturday, Iraqis are looking out for new signposts of political recovery from the U.S.-led invasion and occupation.
Polling picked up after a slow start Saturday in the 14 provinces of Iraq that are voting after the 2005 poll.
The four provinces that did not vote are in the Kurdish controlled north. Polls were not ordered here mostly due to the controversy over control of the oil- rich Kirkuk region. Kirkuk, along with Dahuk, Arbil and Sulaymaniyah will hold elections later.
The provincial elections were earlier scheduled for Oct. 1 last year, but were delayed due to disagreements over electoral procedures for Kirkuk, which is hotly contested between Sunni Arabs, Kurds, and Turkomens.
By Noah Shachtman, Wired
Iraq's government says it won't give Blackwater a license to operate in the country. So does that mean the firm's cadre of tattooed gunslingers will be gone from Iraq, forever? Not exactly.
Sure, Blackwater as a corporate entity probably won't be roaming the streets of Baghdad or Mosul for much longer. But the individual mercenaries who've been working for years in Iraq, serving as a Praetorian Guard for the State Department's diplomats — those guys likely will be able to stay.
Now why would the Pentagon hire someone who'd lied about Iraq-911 ties years after the lies were exposed?
The Shocking Human Cost of Iraq: About 1 million dead, 4.5 Million Displaced, 1-2 Million Widows, 5 Million Orphans
By John Tirman, www.TheNation.com
We are now able to estimate the number of Iraqis who have died in the war instigated by the Bush administration. Looking at the empirical evidence of Bush's war legacy will put his claims of victory in perspective. Of course, even by his standards -- "stability" -- the jury is out. Most independent analysts would say it's too soon to judge the political outcome. Nearly six years after the invasion, the country remains riven by sectarian politics and major unresolved issues, like the status of Kirkuk.
By Ray McGovern, www.consortiumnews.com
Editor’s Note: On Jan. 26, 2009, in Copenhagen, Denmark, former Danish military intelligence officer Frank Grevil was given the Sam Adams award for integrity in intelligence. The following is an extended version of the introductory remarks by former CIA intelligence analyst Ray McGovern:
Thank you, one and all, for coming this evening at such short notice and in such encouraging numbers. Our first order of business this evening is the presenting of the Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence (SAAII) award to former Danish intelligence officer, Maj. Frank Grevil.
You each have a handout explaining who former CIA analyst Sam Adams was, and why we, his former colleagues, created this movement in his memory.
State Department To Blackwater: You're Fired, Leave Iraq by May
$1.2 Billion Contract Won't Be Renewed Following Iraqi Refusal to License U.S. Firm
By Brian Ross and Kirit Radia | ABCNews.com
Blackwater has been fired by the State Department from its job protecting U.S. diplomats in Iraq.
Executives of the controversial U.S. security company were notified today by the State Department that its five-year, $1.2 billion contract for services in Iraq will not be renewed in May, U.S. officials tell ABC News. The contract provides yearly options for cancellations.
In a statement, company spokesperson Anne Tyrrell said, "The company has always said that the security services we provide in Iraq would be temporary."
By Dahr Jamail, Inter Press Service
FALLUJAH — The threat of violence hangs over Fallujah again as leaders of the Awakening Council fight for political power through the elections Jan. 31.
The Awakening Councils were set up and backed by the U.S. military to curb spiralling violence. According to the U.S. military, most of the members recruited were former resistance fighters. Over recent years, they grew to a strength of about 100,000 men, each paid 300 dollars a month.
U.S. aid to the Councils was cut off in October on the understanding that the members would be absorbed into Iraqi government forces. To date, less than a third have been given government jobs.
By DAVE GOLDINER, Daily News
A statue dedicated to the man who threw his shoes at President Bush has been erected in Tikrit, Saddam Hussein's hometown.
Many Iraqis considered it poetic justice when a journalist tossed his shoes at President George W. Bush last month.
Now the bizarre attack has spawned a real life work of art.
A sofa-sized statue of the shoe was unveiled Thursday in Tikrit, the hometown of the former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.
Baghdad-based artist Laith al-Amari described the fiberglass-and-copper work as a tribute to the pride of the Iraqi people.
The statue is inscribed with a poem honoring Muntadhar al-Zeidi, the Iraqi journalist who stunned the world when he whipped off his loafers and hurled them at Bush during a press conference on Dec. 14.
U.S. Embassy's Preferred Contractor Accused of Killings
By Ernesto Londoño and Qais Mizher, Washington Post
MOSUL, Iraq, Jan. 28 -- The Iraqi government has informed the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad that it will not issue a new operating license to Blackwater Worldwide, the embassy's primary security company, which has come under scrutiny for allegedly using excessive force while protecting American diplomats, Iraqi and U.S. officials said Wednesday.
Iraq's Interior Ministry conveyed its decision to U.S. officials in Baghdad on Friday, in one of the boldest moves the government has made since the Jan. 1 implementation of a security agreement with the United States that sharply curbed American power in Iraq.
By Dahr Jamail, Inter Press Service
BAGHDAD — Uncertainty and tension are running high in Baghdad ahead of the provincial election due Jan. 31. But this time fears are also touched by a new hope.
“Iraq is transitioning into something more stable,” former Iraqi interim prime minister Ayad Allawi told IPS. “The U.S. is pulling out soon because of the new administration, so Iraqis need to take matters into their own hands,” said Allawi, speaking at the headquarters of the Iraqi National Accord party in Baghdad.
Allawi, who was said to have provided “intelligence” about alleged weapons of mass destruction to the British MI6, is a former exile, and a controversial figure disliked by many in Iraq. Nevertheless, he speaks for many of the leading political figures running in the upcoming elections.
In the first reporting period on Obama's watch, US military occupation forces in Iraq suffered 20 combat casualties in the five days ending Jan. 27, 2009 as the official total rose to at least 70,710. The total includes 34,410 dead and wounded from what the Pentagon classifies as "hostile" causes and more than 36,300 dead and medically evacuated (as of Jan 3, 2009) from "non-hostile" causes.*
The actual total is over 100,000 because the Pentagon chooses not to count as "Iraq casualties" the more than 30,000 veterans whose injuries-mainly traumatic brain injury (TBI) from explosions diagnosed only after they had left Iraq.**
I am beginning to wonder if the American public thinks former President Bush went ahead and brought home all 140,000 troops from Iraq as an inaugural gift for President Obama (you know, so Obama wouldn't have to trouble himself with it) or if they simply forgot we were still there. Then again, considering the precipitous drop in media coverage of the war in Iraq (the war in Afghanistan was always under-covered in my opinion), who knows what most Americans think is going on in Iraq now.