Monday, June 28, 2010
The Gulf Disaster
Above is Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "White House 'stud'" from last night. I love it when Isaiah brings in Disney. Seriously, I do. I had all the Disney picture books growing up and wanted so badly to be able to draw like that (but never could -- so I settled for cutting them up and making them into paper dolls).
Now to the Gulf Disaster, this is from Suzanne Ito's "Respecting the Press and Public Access During the BP Oil Spill" (ACLU Blog of Rights):
We've heard countless stories of journalists trying to cover the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico being denied access in one way or another. Whether they're trying to fly over the spill to take photos, gain access to the oil-covered beaches, or take pictures of the dead animals washing ashore, a "media clampdown" continues despite federal government assurances that access is "uninhibited."
One BP representative told a Mother Jones reporter that BP could restrict access to the Elmer's Island Wildlife Refuge because "it's BP's oil." And many reports indicate that local law enforcement has actually been cooperating with BP to restrict journalists' access to the spill.
It's this kind of news that prompted the ACLU of Louisiana to send a public letter (PDF) to the sheriffs of all Louisiana coastal parishes (or counties, to us non-Louisianans) reminding them of their obligation to respect the First Amendment rights of the media and the public.
That's the sort of issue that a president could resolve with the snap of a finger. So all the little whiney babies insisting Barack's doing all he can, grow the hell up.
The Gulf Disaster continues and it continues because we don't have the facts and we apparently don't have a president.
But BP controls the law, ya'll! Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"
Monday, June 28, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, Kurds flee their homes due to attacks from Iran and Turkey, the political stalemate continues in Baghdad, liars hurt the cause, it's a bad day for representation in the Senate if you were a straight and White male who was born in the US to US born parents (for the rest of us, not such a great loss), and more.
'And that's why we don't trust the political closet cases.' Josh Healey is not a "progressive." Josh Healey is open about what he is in the Bay Area but on the national stage, he hides in a political closet. Closets are for wardrobes, not political secrets. Those choosing to hide in closets do so because they want to trick you, they want to lie to you. For some stupid reason, The Progressive elected to feature Josh's paen to fellow closet cases. [Apparently The Daily Worker no longer being in print means The Progressive has to hire Healey as "spoken word editor." Spoken word? Honey, it's another White boy who thinks he can rap -- and we all know The Progressive has a s**t poor record on hiring African-Americans so if they're hiring a rapper it would have to be a White boy.] And Josh is there to lie as any closet case must. "Later, I attended an anti-war workshop," Josh pants, "featuring voices from Iraq and Afghanistan, which we rarely hear in the U.S. The Iraqi activist said the U.S. agreement to fully withdraw from Iraq by July 2011 is actually a good one --w e just need to make sure the Obama dminsitration lives up to it. The brother from Afghanistan . . ." I really hate liars.
Let's start with the "brother from Afghanistan" (he tosses around "brother" and "comrade" frequently -- again if The Daily Worker were still in print, he'd be writing for it). The "brother from Afghanistan" is Dr. Zaher Wahab, of Lewis and Clark College. The "Iraqi activist"? Big time liar Raed Jarrar who moved to this country how many years ago? Raed the Jar-Jar Blinks of the faux peace movement. I am so damn sick of this. And I'm so damn sick of the lack of standards. The closet cases need to just sit their asses down and think about what they've done. That includes Democratic Party apologist David Sirota.
'And file it under how you know Alex Pareene (Salon) is full of s**t.' Sirota's bad column fro Creators ("After 41 Years, A Belated Victory for Butter") is already popping up in papers. When I saw it in one newspaper, I called the publisher to ask why it was printed? He read the column and called me back (we've known each for over thirty years). It was, he thought, a little too frothy over US House Rep David Obey but he didn't see a real problem with the column. Really? I read this section of David Siorta writing from a few years back to him: "Dave Obey represents a pretty conservative district that is not exactly easy for a Democrat to represent (this is why the NRSC can't wait for him to retire). He originally voted against the war, he has been one of the most outspoken critics of the war, and he has repeatedly used his position as Appropriations Chairman to try to get the situation in Iraq under control. These are the facts, and I witnessed it first hand, having worked for him a few years ago." The loud reply came back, "He worked for Obey?" Yeah and there's a thing called disclosure. If Sirota wants to waste everyone's time jacking off in public to his crush David Obey, he can do so, that's freedom of expression. But when Creators is shopping your love-fest for David Obey around to various newspapers? You need to have disclosed your relationship with David Obey. Again, it's called disclosure. I grasp that Sirota stumbles into hack journalism via Congress. If he wants to be a columnist, he needs to play by the rules.
Playing by the rules don't allow the likes of Josh Healey and David Sirota the opportunity to trick you. Playing by the rules don't allow them to operate under cover and play you for a fool. They're like the 'activist' (Tubby, we've named him before) who wants to whine in e-mails that Barack belongs in prison but then rushes off to Daily Kos (he's not Marcos, for those late to the party) where he types how great and groovy Barack is. The reason the left can't get it together is because too many liars think they need to put one over on the public. And that's why the public doesn't trust a lot of the left. They don't like being played. (Being played is at the root of the distrust of all things Beltway for many Americans.) Reality, most Americans don't have a problem with Communism and, in fact, if they knew some actual Communists, the ranks would grow. The same with Socialists. Reality, most Americans are not upset that someone worked for a Congress member. So if David Sirota (a Democrat -- so there's no confusion) were up front that he worked for Obey, the column wouldn't seem like trickery. And reality for Tubby and the others, most Americans do not believe in the Cult of St. Barack. That was stage-managed by elites and the break away of a few elites in recent times has not led to public stonings because, again, the Cult of St. Barack was a media creation stage-managed by elites. As a rule of thumb, the public's on the side of anyone who calls out the powerful. But, and this is the key point, those who resort to trickery? They're displaying contempt for the people and, guess what, the people generally catch on to that rather quickly.
US House Rep Alan Grayson writes at The Huffington Post today, "A recent poll showed that almost twice as many Americans think that we are losing the war in Afghanistan as think that we are winning it. (Whatever 'losing' and 'winning' mean, in this context.) But another recent poll reports that only eight percent of all Americans say that the war will be 'most important to [their] vote for Congress.' Which means that for 92%, it's not so important. The war is like a dead skunk in the crawlspace. If it's there long enough, you just ignore it. But it's still there." And that's why Grayson's national image is so small -- bordering on tiny. The people are not the problem, Grayson, and, point of fact, a politician who thinks the people are the problem doesn't stand a good chance of being re-elected.
The problem is -- we'll focus on Iraq -- the withdrawal. Due to the withdrawal taking place, the public can easily see the Iraq War as over. When January 2009 rolled around, the bulk had withdrawn and they've not gone back. Oh, no, I'm not speaking of US service members, I'm speaking of the press. ABC News farms their 'coverage' out to BBC News. CBS doesn't really have anyone to report full time -- but they send people in with US officials! NBC generally does a sit down on breaking news with Richard Engel and though he and Brian Williams are knowledgable, let's be clear that neither is in Iraq. Where are the American people supposed to be following the Iraq War, Grayson? Certainly not on their TVs. And, as a member of Congress, you can make it very clear to PBS that you are appalled by their lack of Iraq coverage and that could result in them actually stationing someone there. NPR has people stationed in Iraq. PBS hasn't in years. Public broadcasting, Grayson, is something you can influence and it would probably be more productive than bemoaning an allegedly apathetic public.
'If you forget women -- straight and gay -- and gay men and people of color and immigrants, he was a great senator!' Let's stay in the US a bit more. US Senator Robert Byrd has died and, no doubt, the KKK is holding a rememberance for their one-time member. Greg Sargent? Everyone's favorite hack at the Post needs to know two things. First, soak two tea bags in ice water overnight in the fridge, put them over your eyes in the morning for ten minutes, then go running or workout and it will minimize those unsightly bags under your eyes. Second, Byrd did not show courage on Iraq. He voted against the Iraq War. And? Did he stop it? No. He could have. He could have filibustered anytime funding came up. But he refused to do that, didn't he? Mike Gravel showed courage during Vietnam with his filibusters in an attempt to end the draft. When did Byrd do anything similar? Gravel read the Pentagon Papers into the Congressional record. When did Byrd do anything similar? Sargent has no strong education or knowledge base -- as is evident by a professional photo sporting bags under the eyes and lacking a close shave. But the word "bravery" need not to be tossed around in such careless manner. For the word to mean anything, it needs to be reserved for real moments of bravery, not media created ones. Byrd didn't believe in the war, he didn't vote for it. I don't believe that's called bravery. I believe that's doing what's required of for someone holding the office. The bare minimum is what Byrd did. That's not bravery. On the Iraq War vote, Byrd did his job. That's about all you can honestly say. And it's a damn shame when our daily newspapers confuse themselves with the hype mill of People magazine, et al and work overtime to inflate reality. Celebrity culture at its worst. And this need to inflate politicians who just do their jobs goes a long, long way to explaining why we're so bad on the left when it comes to holding politicians' feet to the fire and applying pressure. We're so damn grateful that they took a breath of air, so busy applauding that, that we never have time to demand that they do more than the bare minimum their role as public servant requires.
To really feel ill, go to The Nation and read the latest crap from John Nichols -- who hasn't been worth five cents since he LIED on Democracy Now! in 2008 and claimed that it was Hillary, not Barack, having talks with the Canadian government about NAFTA and he had the proof and he was in Canada and he would be reporting on this and . . . Not a damn thing ever happened. John Nichols is certifiably insane and that was obvious in December 2003 when he and Amy Goodman launched into a 101 conspiracy theories -- which they presented as fact -- including that Hillary would show up at the 2004 DNC convention and steal the nomination. Complete loons. And complete LIARS. What did 'big lefty Byrd' do on abortion, John Nichols? Oh, that's right, you were too busy drooling to tell your readers about that. He has a mediocre rating from NARAL (over his abortion rights voting record). He declared same-sex relations to be a "sin." There's a reason he needs to be called out. (I did this morning.) He was against same-sex marriage. Check 2004 and 1996. For all of Johnny Nichols ravings, the ACLU, HRC and NAACP gave him mixed ratings on civil rights, gay rights and affirmtative-action. He was anti-immigrant. He was very weak on abortion rights. The nonsense being pushed is a bunch of crap. Click here to explore Robert Byrd "On the issues" and then ask yourself why little whores keep pimping him as some sort of 'big lefty.' Byron Dorgan leaving the Senate is a huge, monumental loss. (Dorgan's alive, he's just decided not to run for re-election.) Byrd is no big loss. If I had to guess, it will be the segment that fights against unjust sentences for drug offenses who will push back the hardest on the lie that Byrd is some 'big lefty.' Everyone else will probably continue to pretend FDR himself just died. If it's not them, it will be activists calling for the end of the embargo on Cuba that will be most vocal about what a non-lefty Byrd actually was. But someone explain how John Nichols and The Nation can WHORE themselves at this late date on Robert Byrd who voted in June of 2007 to make English the official language of the US and who repeatedly was anti-immigratn in his votes, repeatedly. John Nichols is a whore and always will be one but as bad as The Nation is, I expect little more from it.
In the real world, the people dying in Iraq -- Iraqis and US service members -- will never get tone poems composed for them and passed off as 'reporting' and 'journalism.' In the real world, the Iraq War continues. In the real world, Alissa Skelton (Lincoln Journal Star) reports on the Sunday send-off for the Nebraska National Guard's 67th Battelfield Surveillance Brigade which deploys 400 to Iraq this ummer and another 300 to Afghanistan this fall making it, in the words of Col Philip Stemple, "the largest single mobilation of a Nebraska unit since the global war on terror started." So you want to tell me that a 2002 vote counts as something really special in 2010? And what did Byrd do in the 8 years since to end the illegal war he spoke out against? Did he filibuster? No. Did he do a damn thing? No. You want me to pretend that Robert Byrd was an amazing member of Congress? There are a few amazing members, Byrd will never make that list. Bare minimum, that was Robert Byrd.
Iraq Veterans Against the War's James Circello always does more than the bare minimum (though I doubt Greg Sargent will ever make the time to groove on James). Brian Becker interviewed James for Face to Face (Press TV -- here for first video, here for some excerpts in transcript form):
Press TV: You formed an organization called March Forward with other veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Are you in contact with people who are still in Iraq or Afghanistan? What's the mood of soldiers right now?
James Circello: We are very enthusiastic because we feet like a new resistance is taking shape from US soldiers. We are in contact with some individuals that want to go AWOL and some that have. Tens of thousands of soldiers have gone AWOL so far. That is what helped me justify myself when I left. At the time military was trying to track them down but still I don't believe they have the forces to track them down. So the soldiers aren't really seeing jail time. These individuals are questioning why they are fighting. They are not helping the people, these individuals say. One of them told me that he is not there to help the people; he is just there to make some people rich.
Press TV: Meaning which people?
James Circello: US corporations that have contracts with Afghanistan.
Press TV: A lot of people thought, when the invasion of Afghanistan happened and subsequently the invasion of Iraq, that this is part of a big strategy by the Bush administration to take over or reconfigure the Middle East, the strategic oil region in central Asia. Afghanistan war now is longer than the Vietnam War. It's the longest war in US history. The United States says it is leaving Iraq; they are going to pull combat troops out of there in a certain date, August of the next year. But at the same time they are building a big embassy in downtown Baghdad which won't seem to be very vulnerable. Do you thing US troops are going to stay in Iraq or do you think they will leave?
James Circello: They are going to stay in Iraq. I think it's just a play with words. It is taking advantage of the fact that most people in the United States don't really know what a combat troop is versus a non-combat troop. The fact is the military definition of a combat troop is someone in the military infantry... so I was a combat troop... or someone in the artillery or someone who drives tanks. But women aren't considered combat troop, at the same time they carry rifles, they fire the rifles, they get shot at, but they are not classified as combat troops. All that this administration plans to do is just to not call them combat troops.
Press TV: So do you expect a large number of troops to stay for a long time in Iraq?
James Circello: That is this administration's plan to save as many as 50,000 people in Iraq indefinitely.
Press TV: what about the private contractors?
James Circello: There is no sign if they are ever leaving. They are just constantly expanding. You said about the embassy in Baghdad, it's the largest embassy in the world. So it's going to need a huge force to guard that embassy in Baghdad.
And that's called reality. Reality is that another person who is heroic and gives more than anyone could ever ask is Peace Mom Cindy Sheehan who looks around and wonders "Where Have all the Peaceniks Gone? by Cindy Sheehan" (Cindy Sheehan's Soap Box):
To some of us, the problem is not so much that Obama has proven to be a dismal failure --because we know that he has been a huge success to the ruling class and corporations -- but that partisan politics always overshadows common sense and true peace. We lost a lot of time giving Obama a "chance," and thousands have lost their lives and their ways of life.I was outraged when, after three days in office, Obama authorized a drone strike into Northern Pakistan that killed dozens of civilians, but I was excoriated for being outraged. I was devastated when he announced an increase in troops (3 times so far) to Afghanistan, and attacked for not caring about Afghan women (the ones our Empire are "protecting" by killing them and their children). I was laughed out of town when I was infuriated that Obama had declared himself "Judge, jury and executioner" of American citizens. People who formerly supported me told me to "shut up and go away, you have had your 15 minutes of fame." I was deeply hurt and lonely when everyone from celebrities to my friends in the peace-trenches abandoned me for someone who did not even have a principled campaign platform. However, I could not abandon my principles to support someone who did not conform to them.
Cindy Sheehan and Peace Action are gearing up for "Sizzlin Summer: Independence from oil, Free Palestine, Anti-drone & Counter Recruitment Protests, July 4th through July 17th" in DC. For a breakdown of the activities, click here.
In northern Iraq, Iraqis face bombings from the sky via the Turkish military airplanes and from Iran shelling them. Asso Ahmed and Nadeem Hamid (Los Angeles Times) report that the combined attacks has resulted in many Kurds fleeing their homes: "Aid workers say more than 650 families have fled their villages, and many are now living in primitive conditions without shelter or sufficient food in a humanitarian crisis that has drawn little attention from the authorities in Baghdad." The highest ranking government official -- in Baghdad -- to call out the bombings (and the Turkish military twice this month violating Iraq's sovereignty by sending ground troops into Iraq) is Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari. While Nouri al-Maliki -- current prime minister who wants to continue holding onto the post -- has remained silent (way to represent, Nouri!), Zebari has publicly condemned the actions. (Zebari is a Kurd.) And the exodus of Iraqis may continue since AFP is reporting that Turkey is again dropping bombs on northern Iraq which quotes PKK spokesperson Ahmed Denis stating, "The bombing targeted Kurdish nomads in the border area. We don't yet know the extent of the damage or casualties." Patrick Seale (Middle East Online) offers this analysis of the impact the bombings may have on Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan: "Erdogan's outreach to the Kurds has aroused bitter criticism from diehard Turkish nationalists. He has been accused of pursuing policies which have weakend the struggle against the PKK. Some have called for emergency rule to be re-imposed on Kurdish-inhabited areas. For the opposition, any expression of Kurdish nationalism is anathema, since it carries with it a potential threat to the territorial integrity of Ataturk's Turkish Republic." Delphine Strauss (Financial Times of London) writes from the position that the PKK is to blame for the violence, "Since the snows began melting in its mountain hide-outs across the Iraqi border, it has mounted one of its deadliest offensives in years, killing more than 50 of Turkey's armed forces by raids, rocket attacks and mines. Some attacks recalled tactics from the worst period of conflict in the 1990s." Today's Zaman offers the opinion of Diyarbakir Bar Association head Emin Aktar, "Violence has promoted nationalism and incited hatred among people and makes the Kurdish issue more difficult to solve. Trukey should immediately move away from the environment of clashes in order to truly debate the Kurdish issue and find appropriate solutions to it. The PKK should end its attacks, and [military] operations against terrorists should be ended."
Whether it helps or not, the (if confirmed) new US Ambassador to Iraq, James Jeffrey, is a former US Ambassador to Turkey and -- unlike Chris Hill -- is familiar with the background on the conflict between Turkey and the PKK. The US has long shared intelligence with Turkey for PKK strikes. (If that's new to you, it's been public since Bush was in the White House.) Hurriyet Daily News reports that the Turkish government wants more than intelligence from the US when it comes to the PKK and that today at the G-20 summit in Canada, Erdogan intends to press US President Barack Obama on this issue: "The U.S. has been providing Turkey with actionable intelligence since late 2007 and initiated the establishment of what they call the trilateral mechanism -- a broad cooperative measure between Turkey, Iraq and the U.S. intended to restrict the movement of terror agents in the region."Meanwhile current Iraq President Jalal Talabani (who, like Nouri, is trying desperately to hold on to that position) just finished meeting with the King of Jordan. The Jordan Times reports that King Abdullah II and Talabani met to address "bilateral ties and current regional issues" with the King reaffirming "Jordan's support for Iraq's efforts in bringing about stability and security in the eastern neighbour". Abdul Jalil Mustafa (Arab News) reports, "Talabani made a surprise visit to Jordan, which stirred speculation among observers that he sought the monarch's backing to defuse the current political crisis emanating from disagreement to form a new Iraqi government after the March elections." Talabani did not stop his tour in Jordan. Alsumaria TV reports he went on to Libya where he met with Muammar al Gaddafi. Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett (Monthly Review) report, "Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah will come to Washington for a meeting with President Obama on Tuesday; there is little doubt that Iran will be a high-priority topic for discussion between the two leaders. Notwithstanding the extraordinary importance of the U.S.-Saudi relationship, it is striking how relatively few meetings there are between American presidents and Saudi kings. We can also testify, from our own experience in government, how poorly prepared those meetings often are on the American side."
March 7th, Iraq concluded Parliamentary elections. Three months and two days later, still no government. 163 seats are needed to form the executive government (prime minister and council of ministers). When no single slate wins 163 seats (or possibly higher -- 163 is the number today but the Parliament added seats this election and, in four more years, they may add more which could increase the number of seats needed to form the executive government), power-sharing coalitions must be formed with other slates, parties and/or individual candidates. (Eight Parliament seats were awarded, for example, to minority candidates who represent various religious minorities in Iraq.) Ayad Allawi is the head of Iraqiya which won 91 seats in the Parliament making it the biggest seat holder. Second place went to State Of Law which Nouri al-Maliki, the current prime minister, heads. They won 89 seats. Nouri made a big show of lodging complaints and issuing allegations to distract and delay the certification of the initial results while he formed a power-sharing coalition with third place winner Iraqi National Alliance -- this coalition still does not give them 163 seats. They are claiming they have the right to form the government. Over the weekend, Mayada Al Askari (Gulf News) interviewed Allawi: However, in an exclusive interview with Gulf News, Allawi said no article in the Constitution indicates that such a bloc formed in a post-election merger will be considered the largest bloc. Such a bloc alone will not get the right to decide the formation of the government, he said. No doubt the government's formation will be delayed if other groups resort to the issue of the biggest and smallest blocs, Allawi said and reiterated that his Iraqiya coalition insists on its constitutional right and merit. The merger two months after the elections by the State of Law with the other main Shiite bloc, the Iraqi National Alliance, gave the bloc 159 seats in the 325-seat parliament, only four short of a simple majority. Such numbers would appear to give an edge to Al Maliki or another candidate from his newly expanded bloc to become prime minister.
Meanwhile Borzou Daragahi (Los Angeles Times) reports Moqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army is back on the streets in Baghdad (al-Sadr had offered to do that during the huge waves of bombings that struck Baghdad; however, his offer was refused), "The return of the Mahdi Army poses a dilemma for the Obama administration. For now, at least, Washington's goals coincide with those of the militia: Both want to hasten the departure of U.S. troops, and the group's leader, cleric Muqtada Sadr, has publicly urged supporters to avoid taking up arms. But with its ideological fervor intact and bolstered by a powerful 40-member parliamentary bloc, the shadowy organization could take advantage of the country's instability as a political crisis festers and U.S. troops withdraw."
Turning to some of today's reported violence . . .
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 2 Baghdad roadside bombings claimed the lives of 2 police officers and left four more injured, a Baghdad sticky bombing claimed the life of 1 police officer and left five people injured, a Mosul car bombing wounded one Iraqi soldier and late last night a Mosul bombing claimed the life of 1 Iraqi soldier and left another wounded.
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports an apartment complex invasion in which two men and two women were injured. Reuters notes that the US military announced yesterday that one of their helicopters fired on 3 'suspects' Saturday in Mosul resulting in all three being killed.
On the most recent Inside Iraq (began airing Friday on Al Jazeera), the assassination of journalist Sardasht Osman was addressed. Jasim Azawi's guests were Institute for War and Peace Reporting's Hiwa Osman and the Organization of Women's Freedom in Iraq's Houzan Mahmoud. Sardsht's corpse was discovered May 6th. He was a 23-year-old reporter for Ashtiname magazine and a college student. Reporters Without Borders, the Committee to Protect Journalists, Amnesty International, the Kurdish Media and others condemned the attack. Excerpt from Inside Iraq:
Jasim Azawi: Houzan, let us go to the very heart of the issue and let me ask you a very simple question: Who and why Sardasht Osman was killed?
Houzan Mahmoud: Well as you mentioned earlier in the program as well, Sardasht Osman was killed because of his articles that he wrote -- lately criticizing the corrupt rulers in Kurdistan, particularly his sharp political criticism targeted Masoud Barzani [KRG president] and his tribe basically for corruption and for political violence and so on and so forth. And what -- I -- this is the reason really why he was killed: Because of his honesty, because of his bravery and because, traditionally speaking, Barzani family do not allow anybody to criticize them. I mean, I'm not here certainly to accuse Masoud Barzani of carrying this out but the majority of the people who took to the streets and who are protesting to this day and they want justice for Sardasht, that's what they believe, that the KRG, headed by Masoud Barzani, carried out this, you know, assassination and kidnapping. And this kidnapping, the ways in which he was kidnapped and killed --
Jasim Azawi: I shall come to that later on, Houzan, but meanwhile let me engage, Hiwa. He is not the first to be killed but, in comparison with the rest of Iraq where more than two hundred people died and killed for a variety of reasons, Sardasht is the third journalist to be killed in Iraq and we will let us say from the very top, the measure and the space for freedom in Kurdistan far outweighs what is going on in the rest of Iraq. And yet, having said that, having given the benefit to the KRG, explain to me -- as well as answer Houzan -- why do you think Sardasht was killed?
Hiwa Osman: Well we have to first of all wait for the outcome of the investigation. It has taken much longer than it should do. No information has been provided yet as to why and how this guy was killed. The key issue here is not to predict what's happening or base our analysis or our discussion on basically . . . facts -- we may think that they are facts, but we'll be basing our arguments on-on foundations that pre-empt the outcome of any investigation into the murder. It is -- If the case is -- If Sardasht was killed because of what he wrote, and this is the widespread belief, it is a very serious breach from freedom of expression. It is a murder that should definitely go -- not -- not go unpunished without -- and without bringing that person to justice.
Jasim Azawi: Indeed that is the hope of the people not only in Kurdistan but the rest of Iraq, that the murderer of Sardasht, as well as the murderer of other Iraqi journalists will not go unpunished. But you mentioned the reason why and how. Let us just explain to our viewers the "how" because enough information has trickled that this young man in his last year at Salahaddin University was just about to graduate, with perfect English, an excellent writer. He was grabbed at the door of the university with three or four people. He was hauled into a car and then he disappeared for two or three days. His body was found in Mosul with two bullets, according to some of the reports, in his mouth. Perhaps there is a message there? That those who open their mouths, they will be killed? Houzan, I know you are in communication with his family, can you tell us what is the latest? What do they tell you?
Houzan Mahmoud: Well basically the family would want justice for Sardasht basically. And the latest report was published by the Investigation Committee which was formed by the KRG itself. It's proved to be very biased and actually it seems like they haven't done very much. What they try to say is that the bullets were not shot into his mouth. Actually, they say it was only one bullet shot into his head and that he was not tortured, whereas there are clear evidence and his family is very aware being the first people to-to see the body that Sardasht was tortured very badly and that the bullets were shot into his mouth. There is a political message in that. This is not only two bullets shot into somebody's mouth, this is a message -- political message -- that whoever have the courage and the guts to criticize this regime, to critcize the Kurdish rulers, this will be their fate. That is what I believe basically.
Back to the US where Feminist Wire Daily notes:
This past weekend gay pride marches were held across the country on the 41st anniversary of the Stonewall riots, which broke out after police raided the Stonewall Inn, a New York City gay bar. In the 1960s, raids on gay bars were common, but the riots resulting from the raid of the Stonewall Inn are considered to have sparked the modern gay rights movement. Thirteen were arrested on the night of the raid and protests continued for an additional three nights. In San Francisco, the celebrations during the cities 40th annual gay pride parade were marred by the murder of 19-year-old Stephen Powell and the shooting injury of two other individuals, reported the Los Angeles Times. San Francisco Police Officer Phil Gordon told the Advocate. In New York City, St. Francis Xavier Roman Catholic Church, has marched in the city's parade for 12 years. However, this year, they marched under a blank banner. The church's priest was concerned that their participation suggested approval of not only gay rights, but also of promiscuity. Many were outraged that the church effectively removed their name from association with the parade. One parishioner, Stephanie Samoy, a self-identified lesbian, told CNN, "For me, the blank banner stands for, 'We've been silenced.'"New York City's parade included a number of notable grand marshals including Constance McMillen, the Mississippi teenager, who fought her school district for the right to attend the school's prom with her girlfriend; Lieutenant Dan Choi, an Iraq army veteran who has worked to end Don't Ask, Don't Tell; and the mother of Matthew Sheppard, who has fought for gay rights since her son was brutally murdered in a 1998 hate crime, reported New York Daily News.
Glenn Zimmerman (NBC NYC) reports Dan was "the first openly gay male in the military to serve as a grand marshal in a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender pride march" and quotes him stating, "I am absolutely proud to violate don't ask don't tell all the way down this street today."
Winding down. We don't have time for Lourdes Garcia-Navarro's NPR report but will note it tomorrow. (You can use the link and enjoy it now.) Next Monday, July 5th is not a holiday but there will be no Iraq snapshot unless events of the day require one. (For example, Thanksgiving 2008 required a snapshot when the Parliament passed the SOFA.)
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