Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Thursday Bloody Thursday, Blackwater Must Leave Iraq

Dana Milbank
Michael Scherer
Mark McKinnon & Myra Adams

"It went very well, in fact, I understand that McConnell and Reid are out doing snow angels on the South Lawn together." - Barack Obama
"More likely they pushed each other over and were struggling to get up." - Dana Milbank
"The political bombshell of the year could turn out to be Supreme Court Justice Hillary Clinton... Don’t laugh. It’s politics. Stuff happens. And a lot stranger stuff has happened in recent years. Two words. Sarah Palin." - McKinnon & Adams

The first two links above are different takes on the same press conference, and the third one deals with an interesting proposition - nominating Hillary Clinton to the Supreme Court.

Tidbits from the BBC:
  • North Korean leader Kim Jong-il has told China he is committed to ridding the Korean peninsula of nuclear weapons, Chinese state media has said.
  • The euro has strengthened against both the pound and the dollar as currency traders' fears about European debt levels begin to recede.
  • "Education under Attack 2010", a report from the United Nations agency published on Wednesday, reveals a pattern of systematic attacks on teachers, pupils, schools and universities. These include assassinations and bomb attacks on staff and pupils in 31 countries around the world.
  • Government supporters and opposition activists clash in Sri Lanka after the arrest of the defeated presidential candidate.

    Tomorrow is the Iranian celebration of the Islamic Republic, where big parades in the street are held celebrating the overthrow of the Shah in 1979, and the end of Great Satan America's influence. My, how things have changed. The government has gone overboard in its paranoia and is determined that there will not be any more demonstrations against them. Towards this end they have arrested over 1000 people in the last two months that it feels were contributors in previous demonstrations, including teachers, student, artists, human rights advocates, and journalists. Iran has more journalists in jail than any other country, and if more bad press comes out tomorrow, they may go even more beserk...

    The BBC reports that: "Last month Iran hanged two activists it said were guilty of "war against god", a charge levelled at those who protested against the disputed election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in June.

    On Monday, opposition leader Mohsen Aminzadeh was convicted of organising protests, disturbing security and spreading propaganda against the system, his lawyer said.

    Former industry minister Behzad Nabavi was given a five-year sentence by the court, the semi-official Iranian Students News Agency reported.

    Another unidentified man was given a death sentence for protests during December 2009.

    Eight other protesters were also sentenced to various prison terms on Tuesday, the news agency reported."

    Forget the Superbowl, the two opposing marches will be the big ticket to watch. The government is hoping to turn out all those who support them, and hopes that will be a greater number than those opposing. Of course, arresting as many as they can should intimidate their opponents to stay home and order in a hummus pizza: "According to Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the nation will use the occasion to "punch the arrogance" - a revolutionary term for Western powers - "in a way that will leave them stunned".
    "Not only the people are questioning the basis of the theocracy, but even the clergy themselves are split as a result of the government's violent behaviour... It's not just the state that's in conflict with the people, the state itself has been divided in two." - Shirin Ebadi
    "The source of many problems that our people are facing is the... presence of men in boots in politics, the economy and other affairs," - Mehdi Karroubi
    "Nothing will come out of rabble rousing because the majority supports the (Supreme) Leader." - Kian Mokhtari
    In the meantime, we can only sit passively, watching the Internet for any news, while people get ready to brave getting beaten up by the basiji with batons, have tear gas shot at them by police, get shot at with real guns by the Revolutionary Guards, while the scared little mullahs and ayatollahs hide behind doors too scared to come out and face what they have created. God have pity on their miserable souls...

    Oh yeah, sanctions will work really well... Actually, targeting sanctions on anyone who has business with the Revolutionary Guard is a good idea. Trying to engage the Iranian government over nuclear energy when they need to settle this internal conflict only legitimizes the government. We should kick back and let the dust settle. There is no way their technology can turn out nuclear fuel at 20% right now, much less at 80% enrichment that is needed for a weapon.

    The most helpful thing we can do is loudly point out each human rights violation the government commits, against their own constitution as well. They don't even need a regime change, just to lighten up and not oppress their own people, allow them their freedoms and a chance to participate in shaping their own country. It's not a far stretch ti imagine that, under a more enlightened leadership, could be a major influence in creating progress in the Middle East, not dragging it backwards into the medieval and dictatorial past.

    As U2 sang it(forgive me for editing out the chorus because tomorrow is Thursday, not Sunday):

    I can't believe the news today
    Oh, I can't close my eyes
    And make it go away

    How long
    How long, must we sing this song
    How long
    How long
    'Cause tonight
    We can be as one

    Broken bottles under children's feet
    Bodies strewn across the dead end street
    But I won't heed the battle call
    It puts my back up
    Puts my back up against the wall

    And the battle's just begun
    There's many lost, but tell me who has won
    The trench is dug within our hearts
    And mothers, children, brothers, sisters
    Torn apart

    Wipe the tears from your eyes
    Wipe your tears away
    Oh, wipe your tears away
    Oh, wipe your tears away
    Sunday, Bloody Sunday
    Oh, wipe your blood shot eyes
    Sunday, Bloody Sunday

    And it's true we are immune
    When fact is fiction and TV reality
    And today the millions cry
    We eat and drink while tomorrow they die

    Speaking of schizophrenic situations, the war in Afghanistan is gearing up to push the extra troops while at the same time the Afghan government and now the Pakistani government and intelligence service is trying to engage the Taliban for a peaceful end. That Saudi Arabia will help with redevelopment funding if the fighting stops is a plus. The US is doing its part by sending in more drones, and they have created over 700 black sites that the CIA and contractors use as base camps. The old carrot and stick approach, updated to the digital age.

    About the only good news is that three days ago the government of Iraq gave 250 employees of Blackwater seven days to leave the country, from the AP: "Iraq has ordered about 250 former and current employees of Blackwater Worldwide to leave the country within seven days or face having their visas pulled.The order comes in the wake of a U.S. judge dismissing criminal charges against five Blackwater guards who were accused in the September 2007 shooting deaths of 17 Iraqis in Baghdad.

    Interior Minister Jawad al-Bolani said on Wednesday the order targets security contractors who worked for Blackwater at the time of the shootout. He said all "concerned parties" were notified of the order three days ago." What is interesting is the number of Blackwater employees that were still contracted to be in Iraq, and the number is in the thousands in Afghanistan. Why it took the Iraqis so damned long to give them the boot, when they will turn around and bomb each other in an instant, is beyond me. So don't let the door to the airplanes hit your butt on the way out boys... Would we consider it to be a terrorist act or poetic justice if there was a suicide bomber on their flight back home? Let's ask Newt Gingrich since he doesn't know if a terrorist is an American citizen or not...

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