Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"
A vault built on an Arctic island to preserve the world's crop seeds from war, disease and other catastrophes will receive new deposits on Wednesday, including for the first time from Iraq and Uruguay, Norway's Ministry of Agriculture and Food said.
The Svalbard Global Seed Vault, set in permafrost caves on Spitsbergen island halfway between mainland Europe and the North Pole, is only opened three times a year to limit its seeds' exposure to the outside world.
On Thursday, US President Joe Biden warned that the war in Ukraine could trigger “Armageddon,” i.e., a nuclear war between the United States and Russia.
But within 24 hours of Biden’s warning, the Ukrainian Special Forces, after previously getting a public green light from US officials, staged an attack on the Kerch Bridge connecting Crimea to Russia, a provocation aimed at intensifying the war and making such an “Armageddon” more likely.
In response, Russian President Vladimir Putin authorized a series of airstrikes on civilian infrastructure throughout Ukraine Monday. Approximately 14 people were killed and 97 injured, according to Ukrainian officials, and power was disrupted in more than half the country’s regions.
The World Socialist Web Site condemns the actions of all parties involved in the conflict. The Putin regime is not engaged in a war to defend the Russian population but to defend the interests of the capitalist oligarchy that came to power after the dissolution of the USSR.
But ultimate responsibility for the escalation of the war lies with the United States and its imperialist allies. By encouraging Ukrainian plans to forcibly retake Crimea and join NATO, the US sought to instigate a war on Russia’s borders, first to “bleed Russia white” and ultimately to carry out a regime change operation and break up the country.
[. . .]
The US media proceeds with a form of collective amnesia about the wars of American imperialism over the past 30 years, declaring that, despite the crimes committed by the US military in the past, its motives in the current conflict are purely altruistic. But the war is a continuation of earlier conflicts, only now involving nuclear-armed powers.
The same ruthless indifference to the deaths of the peoples of the Middle East is driving the US efforts to escalate the war against Russia, using the Ukrainian population as cannon fodder and transforming the entire country into a proving ground. The US and its lackeys in NATO believe that they can achieve a military defeat of Russia which is only a prelude to the conflict with China.
The history of US imperialism reveals that it places no value on the lives of the people it wishes to subjugate and dominate through war. But the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed that it also does not put any value on the lives of the American population. The American ruling class fought tooth and nail against any measures to stop the pandemic, leading to the deaths of more than 1 million people in the US alone.
The relentless escalation of the war must be stopped! On Sunday, the International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI) and International Youth and Students for Social Equality (IYSSE) held a meeting to initiate a global mass movement of workers and youth against imperialist war. We urge all of those who agree with this perspective to contact us today.
Iraqi Parliament Speaker Muhammad Halbousi announced today that the parliament will discuss the selection of the president on Oct. 13.
A year after the elections, Iraqi political parties have not been able to form a government.
On the anniversary of last year's elections, Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi called upon “all political parties to engage in constructive dialogue to resolve the current political crisis through comprehensive national solutions that strengthen our young democracy and support the pillars of stability and prosperity for Iraq and our great people.”
The Tuesday’s announcement by the Iraqi Parliament speaker came a day after he led a delegation to meet Masoud Barzani, the leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), as rival factions in parliament have been vying for influence and the right to select a new president and government.
Reports said the delegation included Mohammed Shia al-Sudani, the Coordination Framework Alliance’s nominee for the post, and Falih al-Fayyadh, Chairman of the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), also known as Hashd al-Sha'abi.
Halbousi stopped short of providing any details about the meeting in Erbil, in Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdistan region, and whether an agreement had been struck among the Kurds to put forward a candidate.
Barzani has previously refused to support Salih as president and is reportedly insisting on changing him and picking a "compromise candidate" for the post.
Mr Barzani is still insisting on removing Mr Salih and picking a “compromise candidate” for president, Mr Al Hayani said.
He said a number of names for compromise candidates were discussed at the meeting in Erbil, capital of Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdish region.
These included former water resources minister Abdul Latif Jamal Rasheed, Mr Al Hayani said.
He could not confirm on Tuesday if a deal between the Kurds had been reached.
Talabani and Sudani discussed the latest developments in Iraq’s political stalemate, stressing the need to “unify the national efforts towards creating a powerful and serving government that would protect the rights of all,” according to a statement from the PUK leader’s office.
'Cowards will not create freedom', a slogan from Iraq’s 2019 October protests, can still be seen on a building near the capital’s Tahrir Square.
Three years later, however, those responsible for the killing of Iraqi youths during the nationwide anti-government demonstrations have yet to be held accountable.
On 1 October 2019, thousands of angry Iraqis held large demonstrations in Baghdad, Basra, Nasiriyah, and several other provinces in the western and southern parts of the country.
Demonstrators were calling for an end to corruption among Iraq’s ruling elites and the hegemony of Iran and its affiliated political parties and militias in the country.
Soon, the peaceful demonstrations turned violent, with more than 800 protestors killed as Iraq’s security forces and militias used lethal force to silence them. Thousands of others were injured.
Earlier this month, Iraqis commemorated the third anniversary of the protests in two different squares in Baghdad. One group read a statement at al-Nusur Square, while others gathered in Tahrir Square. New protests are scheduled for 25 October.
Zaid al-Asaad, an activist from the October protests, admitted that there is a division inside the protest movement, however, he stressed that the revolution’s goals are still mobilising the different groups.
“Since 2019, the demands of the protestors did not change, including prosecuting the killers and those who were behind the bloodshed, the corrupt people who wasted Iraqi public money, the legislation of a fair election law, and passing a law regulating Iraqi political parties,” al-Asaad told The New Arab.
He also clarified that there is no coordination with the Sadrist Movement in organising the demonstrations.
“We do not think the Sadrists are trying to make real reforms, but they are working to achieve their own political gains similar to the CF. The protest movement is not interested in coordination with the Sadrists because they are part of the problem, thus they cannot be part of the solution.”
Meanwhile, US President Joe Biden continues his ongoing persecution of Julian Assange. Julian's 'crime' was revealing the realities of Iraq -- Chelsea Manning was a whistle-blower who leaked the information to Julian. WIKILEAKS then published the Iraq War Logs. And many outlets used the publication to publish reports of their own. For example, THE GUARDIAN published many articles based on The Iraq War Logs. Jonathan Steele, David Leigh and Nick Davies offered, on October 22, 2012:
A grim picture of the US and Britain's legacy in Iraq has been revealed in a massive leak of American military documents that detail torture, summary executions and war crimes.
Almost 400,000 secret US army field reports have been passed to the Guardian and a number of other international media organisations via the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks.
The electronic archive is believed to emanate from the same dissident US army intelligence analyst who earlier this year is alleged to have leaked a smaller tranche of 90,000 logs chronicling bloody encounters and civilian killings in the Afghan war.
The new logs detail how:
• US authorities failed to investigate hundreds of reports of abuse, torture, rape and even murder by Iraqi police and soldiers whose conduct appears to be systematic and normally unpunished.
• A US helicopter gunship involved in a notorious Baghdad incident had previously killed Iraqi insurgents after they tried to surrender.
• More than 15,000 civilians died in previously unknown incidents. US and UK officials have insisted that no official record of civilian casualties exists but the logs record 66,081 non-combatant deaths out of a total of 109,000 fatalities.
The numerous reports of detainee abuse, often supported by medical evidence, describe prisoners shackled, blindfolded and hung by wrists or ankles, and subjected to whipping, punching, kicking or electric shocks. Six reports end with a detainee's apparent death.
“So there are no individuals currently in federal prison solely for simple possession of marijuana.”
Quote from a Senior administration official
Joe Biden’s announcement that he would pardon all federal convictions for possession of marijuana was quickly met with excitement. It isn’t hard to understand why that would be the case. Everyone knows that the United States is the world’s biggest jailer, with more than 2 million people behind bars, and that the various “wars on drugs” contributed to this dubious distinction.
But upon examination, the announcement was found to be meaningless. Anyone who thought that thousands of people would be freed from jail was in for a surprise. Most convictions in this country occur at the state level, not federal, so any Biden pardons would impact a small number of people. Also, very few people are convicted solely for possession of marijuana or any other narcotic. They are usually convicted for selling, distribution, or conspiracy as well. By definition, very few people would be eligible for a pardon.
Approximately 6,000 people have been convicted of marijuana possession in the last 30 years, but none of them are currently incarcerated. Biden’s announcement won’t free anyone from prison. Nor does a pardon expunge a criminal record. Those pardoned will still have convictions on their records that can make them ineligible for housing or employment. To use an overused expression, Biden’s marijuana pardon is a huge nothingburger.
This attempt to pull the wool over millions of eyes should be loudly condemned. Many of those 6,000 people convicted were victimized by the 1994 Crime Bill which was championed by a senator named Joe Biden. At the time he bragged that the legislation did “everything but hang people for jaywalking .” Or even send them to jail for marijuana possession.
Not only did Biden make a great show of doing absolutely nothing, but he also tacitly admitted that he has the power to end any possibility of federal marijuana convictions. Marijuana is currently categorized as a Schedule 1 drug on the list of controlled substances, just like heroin and cocaine. Now a few weeks before election day he claims he will look into making a change that he could have made as soon as he came to office.
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