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By Eric Owles, NY Times
Update | 11:05 a.m. BAGHDAD - An American military patrol in Najaf on Monday was pelted by shoes thrown by supporters of Moktada al-Sadr, the radical Shiite cleric. In Tikrit, journalists demonstrated in support of the Iraqi reporter who threw his shoes at President Bush during a news conference yesterday. And across Iraq, everyone seemed to have an opinion of the flying footwear incident.
Hitting someone with a shoe is a strong insult in Iraq. It means the person is as low as the dirt underneath the sole of a shoe, and the actions of Muntader al-Zaidi, a correspondent for an independent Iraqi television station, were condemned by Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, the Iraqi government and other reporters at the news conference. Mr. Bush was unhurt and made a joke afterward, but the shoes have overshadowed other news coverage of the trip, including an attempt to showcase the new security agreement.
Here is reaction from around Iraq:
Please join CODE PINK: Women for Peace, AfterDowningStreet, and Democrats.com this Wednesday, December 17, 2008, in Washington, D.C., at Lafayette Square Park in front of the White House. We will have with us a large supply of shoes. We encourage you to bring your old shoes as well. Come rally with us in solidarity with the Iraqi people to demand an immediate and complete end to the occupation of Iraq.
Commander: Some US troops to stay in Iraqi cities
By LOLITA C. BALDOR, Associated Press
BALAD, Iraq – Despite a summer deadline to pull American combat troops from urban areas, thousands will stay in cities to support and train Iraqis, the top U.S. commander in Iraq said Saturday.
Even with the mandate in the recently approved U.S.-Iraq security agreement, there have been suggestions some troops would not leave urban areas. But Gen. Raymond Odierno was the first military leader to acknowledge some forces would remain at local security stations, as training and mentoring teams.
"We believe we should still be inside those after the summer," he said the sprawling U.S. base in Balad, north of Baghdad before welcoming Defense Secretary Robert Gates on a brief visit.
Call for his release and tribute to Iraqis who have suffered under US occupation
WHAT: Peace activists to gather with shoes in solidarity to Iraqi journalist
WHEN: 11 a.m., Weds. Dec. 17
WHERE: In front of White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
WASHINGTON, D.C. - In solidarity with an Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at George W. Bush at a Baghdad press conference Sunday, peace activists will gather outside the White House with bags of shoes representing Iraqis and U.S. soldiers who have died since the Bush Administration's illegal invasion of Iraq.
They aim to show support for Iraqi journalist Muntader al-Zaidi, who hurled his shoes at President Bush while he spoke at the conference on his "surprise" visit to discuss the war. Al-Zaidi is currently being held by Iraqi police and questioned on his actions. The peace activists are calling on the Iraqi government to release al-Zaidi without charges and have set up a fund to support him and his family."
Thousands of Iraqis have demanded the release of a local TV reporter who threw his shoes at US President George W Bush at a Baghdad news conference.
Crowds gathered in Baghdad's Sadr City district, calling for "hero" Muntadar al-Zaidi to be freed from custody.
Officials at the Iraqi-owned TV station, al-Baghdadiya, called for the release of their journalist, saying he was exercising freedom of expression.
Iraqi officials have described the incident as shameful.
A statement released by the government said Mr Zaidi's actions, which also included him shouting insults at President Bush, "harmed the reputation of Iraqi journalists and Iraqi journalism in general".
Correspondents say the protesters are supporters of Shia cleric Moqtada Sadr - a leading critic of the US presence in Iraq. Smaller protests were reported in Basra and Najaf.
By Dave Lindorff
When Iraqi journalist Muntadar al-Zaidi heaved his two shoes at the head of President George W. Bush during a press conference in Baghdad, he did something that the White House press corps should have done years ago.
By David Swanson
This is the question now raised in Iraq: If they throw shoes at your face are you a combat troop or a noncombat troop? The answer may be important in helping to guide President Elect Obama's strategy of reducing but continuing the genocidal occupation that has made a shoeless journalist one of the most beloved, if little known, people in the world overnight.
A related dilemma is this: If shoes become weapons, were the metal detectors, searches, and bribes to phony journalists successful? This strikes me as a similar question to the following: if box cutters become weapons, were the nuclear arsenal, the missile offense shield, and the empire of bases successful?
BAGHDAD - An Iraqi reporter called visiting U.S. President George W. Bush a "dog" in Arabic on Sunday and threw his shoes at him during a news conference in Baghdad.
Iraqi security officers and U.S. secret service agents leapt at the man and dragged him struggling and screaming out of the room where Bush was giving a news conference with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.
The shoes missed their target about 15 feet (4.5 metres) away. One sailed over Bush's head as he stood next to Maliki and smacked into the wall behind him. Bush smiled uncomfortably and Maliki looked strained.
"It doesn't bother me," Bush said, urging everyone to calm down as a ruckus broke out in the conference room.
When asked about the incident shortly after, Bush made light of it. "I didn't feel the least threatened by it," he said.
Other Iraqi journalists apologised on behalf of their colleague, a television journalist.
Bush arrived in Baghdad earlier on Sunday on a farewell visit before he leaves office in January. The U.S.-led invasion in 2003 to topple Saddam Hussein triggered years of sectarian bloodshed and insurgency in Iraq, killing tens of thousands.
There are too many shoes on American journalistic feet!
Dear Senator Obama, President Elect of the United States,
Since 2007 the US military has provided military intelligence and opened Iraqi air space to Turkish forces along the northern border of the Kurdish Regional Governorate for operations against the PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party). Because of these military incursions, thousands of civilian villagers have been displaced, many killed or wounded, and a great many endure inadequate and deplorable living situations.
Members of our organization, Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT), an NGO with offices based in Chicago and Toronto, have been living and working in the Kurdish North of Iraq for over two years, and for four years before that, in Baghdad. We have had regular contact with the United Nations, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), and local Kurdish NGOs that have assisted these Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).
WHO: The Pledge of Resistance-Baltimore was formed for individuals willing to engage in nonviolent civil resistance to first prevent and later to protest the war in Iraq. It is affiliated with several national peace groups, including the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance [NCNR] and United For Peace & Justice.
NCNR organized a theatrical event on March 12 inside the gallery of the U.S. Senate. Three members of the Baltimore Pledge, Maria Allwine, Ellen Barfield and Max Obuszewski, joined with Tim Chadwick, Joy First, Judith Kelly, Art Landis, Linda LeTendre, Manijeh Saba and Eve Tetaz as the Ghosts of the Iraq War.
A US soldier who went absent without leave a year and a half ago to avoid returning to Iraq has applied for asylum in Germany. Specialist Andre Shepherd served in Iraq between September 2004 and February 2005 as an Apache helicopter mechanic. When his unit was called up to return to Iraq in early 2007, he went AWOL to avoid redeployment, calling the war "illegal." He lived underground in Germany for a year and a half before applying for asylum two weeks ago. We speak with Shepherd in his first international broadcast interview.
By Bruce Ackerman and Oona Hathaway, The Guardian UK
Obama must return US foreign policy to the rule of law - and the mandate for war is about to expire.
Hillary Clinton's first task as US secretary of state will be to defuse the legal time-bomb that the Bush administration has set up in Iraq. Up to now, the military occupation has been authorised annually by the UN. But now the administration plans to let the UN mandate expire on December 31, and replace it with a new "status of forces agreement" recently approved by the Iraqi parliament.
By Steve Fox, American Freedom Campaign Action Fund
The document parading around as the U.S.-Iraq agreement is not valid under the U.S. Constitution. Its legitimacy is based solely on the silence of lawmakers (and members of the media), who seem to be paralyzed by the fear of having an independent and intelligent opinion. Fortunately, one lawmaker has broken the silence and has acknowledged the truth before everyone's eyes.
It is now time for others, including you, to join their voices with hers.
A few weeks ago, I wrote about the pending U.S.-Iraq agreement, decrying the fact that the Iraqi Parliament was being given the opportunity to vote on whether to approve the agreement while Congress was being denied - and was refusing to fight for - the same opportunity.
Well, thanks to our efforts and the leadership of Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), the U.S. House of Representatives may finally get to voice its opinion on President Bush's unconstitutional usurpation of Congress's legislative power.
Yesterday, Rep. Lee introduced a resolution related to the U.S.-Iraq agreement, inspired in part by AFC's call for a "signing statement" resolution. The primary purpose of this resolution is to express the sense of the House that President Bush does not have the power under the Constitution to negotiate and sign such a far-reaching agreement with another nation without seeking congressional approval of the agreement.
Passage of this resolution -- most likely following re-introduction in January -- will send a message to the Bush administration, the incoming Obama administration, and the rest of the world that the agreement holds no legal weight under U.S. law and will be considered merely advisory by Congress.
In truth, even without passage of this resolution, Congress shall not be bound by its terms. No president can unilaterally commit $10 billion per month in U.S. treasure to keep our troops in another nation. The United States has never been a monarchy or a dictatorship and we are certainly not going to accept any similar kind of system today.
Putting aside the question over whether this agreement is currently binding or not, it is important that as many lawmakers as possible openly reject the constitutionality of the agreement. So please tell your U.S. representative to co-sponsor, support, and vote for Rep. Lee's signing statement resolution (H.Res. 1535) by clicking HERE.
Iraq expects its hydrocarbons law to be approved by the second quarter of 2009, a senior government figure in Baghdad said
10 Aralık 2008 Çarşamba 21:46
The news comes as the fourth draft of the Iraqi oil legislation is currently being prepared.
Former Iraqi oil minister, Thamir Ghadhban told MEED that the current draft needs final agreement but has been accepted by the Iraqi Council of Ministers.
"That is significant in that it shows it is moving ahead," says Ghadhban who is also the current adviser to the Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki. "I expect the hydrocarbons law to be in place by spring 2009."
International oil firms have earlier expressed anxiety that the first oil exploration round, which is currently being held by the Iraqi Oil Ministry, could face difficulties without new legislation.
By Michael Munk
US military occupation forces in Iraq suffered 21 combat casualties casualties in the week ending Dec.9 as the official casualty total rose sharply to at least 70,223. The total includes 34,268 dead and wounded from what the Pentagon classifies as "hostile" causes and more than 35,955 dead and medically evacuated (as of Dec. 6) from "non-hostile" causes.*
The actual total is over 90,000 because the Pentagon chooses not to count as "Iraq casualties" the more than 20,000 veterans whose injuries-mainly brain trauma from explosions-- were diagnosed only after they had left Iraq..**
U.S. Army Specialist Andre' Shepherd applied for asylum in Germany Nov. 26, becoming the first Iraq War veteran to pursue refugee status in Europe. READ HIS STORY.
Distinguished President Elect Obama:
Allow me to introduce myself--I am Fernando Suárez del Solar, an American citizen since 1995 of Mexican origin and the father of L/Cpl. Jesús Alberto Suárez del Solar, USMC, who died in Iraq on March 27, 2003.
Prior to my son's death, I worked hard like every immigrant and I tolerated low wages and discrimination; at least my family was whole and at peace. One day, when we still lived in Tijuana, Mexico, and my son was only 13 years old, a Marine recruiter told him that if my son enlisted someday he could become an agent in the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). My son had grown up in Tijuana and he seen how drugs destroy the lives of innocent children and he wanted to become a policeman.
Open for video.
By Amy Goodman, Democracy Now!
Amy Goodman: Writing under the pseudonym Matthew Alexander, a former special intelligence operations officer, who led an interrogations team in Iraq two years ago, has written a stunning op-ed in the Washington Post called "I'm Still Tortured by What I Saw in Iraq." In it, he details his direct experience with torture practices put into effect in Iraq in 2006. He conducted more than 300 interrogations and supervised more than a thousand and was awarded a Bronze Star for his achievements in Iraq.
In the article, he says torture techniques used in Iraq consistently failed to produce actionable intelligence and that methods outlined in the U.S. Army Field Manual, which rest on confidence building, consistently worked and gave the interrogators access to critical information.
By Gabriel Thompson, The Brooklyn Rail, Alternet
Last spring, Iraqi artist Wafaa Bilal moved into a cordoned area set up in the back of a Chicago art gallery, where he would remain for one month. The makeshift cell contained a computer, desk, bed, lamp, coffee table, and stationary bike (which, like most stationary bikes, went untouched). Facing him was a paintball gun with an attached webcam. With the help of friends, an interactive system was designed in which users could log on to the Internet, aim the gun, and fire. For the month, Bilal was an around-the-clock target, offering himself up to anyone wanting to "shoot an Iraqi."
By Mohammed A. Salih, IPS News
Kurds are divided over a security pact between Iraq and the U.S., approved by a large majority in the Iraqi Parliament Thursday, in what appears to be a potential heavy blow to their major gains since the U.S.-led invasion of the country in 2003.
Despite the international media's portrayal of unequivocal unified Kurdish support for the deal, there is an increasing realization within formal and informal Kurdish circles that the Kurds are dooming themselves by approving the deal.
During a meeting with U.S. President George W. Bush last month, Iraqi Kurdistan President Massoud Barzani described the pact as being "in the interest of the Iraqi government -- it's in the interest of this country, and we have been and we will continue to support it and support its ratification."
Take a look at this article:
Obama's Thoughts Evolve on US Troops in Iraq
By Thom Shanker, International Herald Tribune
Washington - On the campaign trail, Senator Barack Obama offered a pledge that electrified and motivated his liberal base, vowing to "end the war" in Iraq.
True, and important, but he also made the details clear to anyone trying to find out. These details:
But as he moves closer to the White House, President-elect Obama is making it clearer than ever that tens of thousands of American troops will be left behind in Iraq, even if he can make good on his campaign promise to pull all combat forces out within 16 months.
FORT BRAGG, N.C., Dec. 5, 2008(AP) A soldier was acquitted of murder Thursday in the 2005 bombing deaths of two superiors in Iraq, triggering loud outbursts and gasps from the slain officers' families.
A military jury found National Guard Staff Sgt. Alberto Martinez not guilty of two counts of premeditated murder in the deaths of Capt. Phillip Esposito and 1st Lt. Louis Allen. Both officers were killed when an anti-personnel mine detonated in a window of their room at a U.S. military base in Iraq in June 2005.
"He slaughtered our husbands and that's it?" yelled Allen's widow, Barbara Allen, moments after the verdict was read. Someone else shouted out that Martinez was a "murdering son of a bitch" before the judge quickly ordered the courtroom cleared.
Those were among the topics on December 3rd when I (David Swanson) joined a panel of guests on PressTV's "American Dream". Also on the panel was Edward Peck, a former ambassador who has opposed militarism and who inspired a now well-known sermon by Jeremiah Wright. I interviewed Peck in October on The People Speak Radio. Joining us was David Pollock, a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy where Dennis Ross is a consultant (whom Pollock told me off the air he's certain will end up with a key foreign policy position in the Obama administration). Skillfully moderating this rather divided panel was Elliott Francis, whose job was made harder by on air phone calls from guests with passionate opinions and in some cases truly crazy hateful anti-semitism. Nonetheless we managed a rich and civil discussion, even on the topic of Israel. Here's the video. (It's the December 3rd show, which I'm hoping they'll post soon.)
For the past two years, Congress has pretended that ending a war requires passing a bill and blamed its failure to pass a bill on Republican filibusters and presidential vetoes. The veto excuse is gone. But the pretense that a bill is needed is firmly entrenched, and the filibuster excuse lives. The Democrats will have, at best, 59 senate seats in their caucus, unless Obama appoints a Republican senator to a plum position or Congress provides the people of Washington, D.C., with representation in their government. The need for a strong peace movement is greater than ever. The crowd that launched an aggressive war based on transparent lies is riding happily off into the sunset. And the new crowd (which has a lot of the same faces in it) has before it the task of holding absolute power in its hands without being corrupted. They can't do that without our help.
United for Peace and Justice 4th National Assembly
December 12-14, 2008, Chicago, IL
Sixteen Indiana National Guard soldiers have sued the Houston-based defense contractor KBR, saying the company knowingly allowed them to be exposed to a toxic chemical in Iraq in 2003. The soldiers were providing security for KBR during repairs of a water treatment plant in southern Iraq shortly after the US invasion. The suit claims the site was contaminated for six months by hexavalent chromium, "one of the most potent carcinogens" known to man. It alleges that KBR knew the plant was contaminated but concealed the danger from civilian workers and soldiers. We speak with one of the soldiers and with the lead attorney in the case.