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Iraqi Hopes Dim Through Worst Year of Occupation
Friday, 22 December 2006 15:58
by Dahr Jamail and Ali Al-Fadhily

BAGHDAD, Dec. 22 (IPS) - Despite promises from Iraqi and U.S. leaders that 2006 would bring improvement, Iraqis have suffered through the worst year in living memory, facing violence, fragmentation and a disintegrated economy.

A year back Iraqis were promised that 2006 would be the fresh beginning of a, prosperous, democratic and unified Iraq. Through an elected parliament and a unity government, they would find peace, and start rebuilding a country torn apart by the U.S.-backed UN sanctions and then the U.S.-led invasion and occupation.

But everyone agrees that the situation now is worse than ever. Leaders in Iraq disagree only to the extent they blame one another for the collapse in security that has led to worsened services and living conditions.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, along with many other Shia leaders in the Iraqi government, blames al-Qaeda and "Saddamists" for the degrading situation. Echoing statements by U.S. President George W. Bush, al-Maliki told reporters recently:

"Those terrorists hate democracy because that makes them lose power, and all they are doing is killing Iraqi people in order to recapture what they lost after the liberation of Iraq."

Whatever leaders say, people are simply looking back on a hellish year, and fearful of another to come.





Friday, 22 December 2006 06:41
by Dave Edwards
The BBC On The Haditha Massacre

The title of the BBC news report was suitably ‘balanced‘: ‘Iraqi Deaths.’ Not ‘American Massacre,’ or ‘American Massacre Of Iraqi Civilians.’

News anchor George Alagiah introduced the piece:

“The US military is preparing to announce charges against a group of marines accused of killing Iraqi civilians. More than 20 people, some of them children, died in Haditha a year ago. But it’s not clear whether they were killed deliberately.”

In May, the New York Times reported that the slaughter was "methodical in nature". (Thom Shanker, Eric Schmitt And Richard A. Oppel Jr., 'Military Expected to Report Marines Killed Iraqi Civilians,' New York Times, May 25, 2006)

The Los Angeles Times reported that many of the victims were killed "execution-style," shot in the head or in the back. A US government official accepted that the US marines had "suffered a total breakdown in morality and leadership, with tragic results". (Tony Perry and Julian E. Barnes, 'Photos Indicate Civilians Slain Execution-Style,' Los Angeles Times, May 27, 2006. See Media Alert)

Iraqi prime minister Nuri al-Maliki has called the Haditha killings a "terrible crime". (‘US Marine captain to face Haditha charges - lawyer,’ Reuters, December 19, 2006)





It's Either Occupation or Education
Monday, 18 December 2006 16:10
by Dahr Jamail and Ali al-Fadhily

BAGHDAD, Dec 18 (IPS) - Two in three children in Iraq have simply stopped going to school, according to a government report. Iraq's Ministry of Education says attendance rates for the new school year, which started Sep. 20, are at an all-time low.

Statistics released by the ministry in October showed that a mere 30 percent of Iraq's 3.5 million students are currently attending classes. This compares to roughly 75 percent of students who were attending classes the previous year, according to the Britain-based NGO Save the Children.

Just before the U.S.-led invasion in spring 2003, school attendance was nearly 100 percent. Iraqis are forgetting almost what a child needs. Dr. Ahmed Aaraji of the Baghdad Societal Organisation, an Iraqi NGO which monitors the state of Iraqi schools and families in an effort to assist families where possible, is trying to remind everyone what that should be.

"To build a child's character, the home atmosphere should be appropriate, parents should attend to children, the school environment should be proper, and the whole society should function at the best level," he told IPS. "But none of these factors seems to exist in Iraq any more."





U.S. Troops Raid Hospital Again
Friday, 15 December 2006 03:39
by Dahr Jamail and Ali Al-Fadhily

FALLUJAH, Dec. 14 (IPS) - Iraqi doctors and medical staff are outraged over yet another U.S. military raid at Fallujah General Hospital.

The raid followed a roadside bombing Dec. 7 where four Iraqi policemen were killed and two civilians injured. The injured were taken to Fallujah General Hospital.

Shortly after this attack, a U.S. Marine who was on a patrol in the city was wounded by a gunshot.

"U.S. soldiers replied to the source of fire then headed straight to the general hospital across the (Euphrates) river hoping that they had shot and injured the sniper," an eyewitness told IPS.

"American soldiers seem to have some imagination to think wounded fighters might go to that so-called hospital," a retired surgeon told IPS. "We know that they do not trust that place because of the continuous raids by the U.S., and lack of everything in that hospital." The hospital is functioning at minimal capacity due to lack of medicines and equipment, the surgeon said.

Eyewitnesses at Fallujah General Hospital said U.S. soldiers raided the hospital "as if it were a military target."





Rallies for Impeachment Coast to Coast This Sunday
Thursday, 07 December 2006 02:04
by David Swanson

A coalition of organizations in support of the impeachment and removal from office of President Bush and Vice President Cheney has planned forums, rallies, and other events in towns and cities across the United States on Sunday, December 10, Human Rights Day.  A few of the events will be on other days, including a forum in New York City that will kick things off on Saturday, December 9.


The purpose of the events is to organize people to lobby their Congress Members for investigations and impeachment and to lobby their local and state governments for resolutions in support of impeachment.  Dozens of cities have already passed such resolutions:



A map of the country with links to detailed descriptions of the events, including times and places and contact information, can be found here: http://tinyurl.com/m4xq4


More information about this day of events and the organized movement for impeachment is available at



Here are the cities where some of the events are happening:


New York, NY, (Dec. 9th) with Elizabeth Holtzman, Cindy Sheehan, Bob Fertik;

Santa Barbara, CA, with Ann Wright, David Swanson, Rae Abileah, Elizabeth De la Vega, Dennis Loo, Geoff Millard;

San Francisco, CA, Under the spot where the UN signed its charter 60 years ago, with Larry Everest, Peter Phillips, musicians, and Human Rights "carolers" in Orange Jump Suits;

San Francisco, CA, Human bodies spelling out word "Impeach!" on the beach;

Los Angeles, CA, an Impeachment Workshop providing materials for people to become media/street heat activists on the topic of Impeachment;

San Fernando Valley, CA, with Paul Koretz; Elizabeth de la Vega; Dennis Loo, David Swanson;

Chula Vista, CA, with Jeeni Criscenzo;

Long Beach, CA, Discussion;

Eugene, OR, Panel Discussion;

Yachats, OR, Discussion;

Portland, OR, Parade, Performance, Meeting;

Seattle, WA, Rally;

Walla Walla, WA, Rally;

Friday Harbor, WA, (Dec. 1st) Rally;

Anacortes, WA, Vigil;

Eastsound, WA, Teach-In;

Price, UT, Discussion;

Fort Collins, CO, Street Theater;

Taos, NM, with Keith McHenry, Lisa Law;

Las Cruces, NM, Discussion;

Norman, OK, Letter-Writing;

Marshall, TX, Flyering;

Eden Prairie, MN, Rally and Demonstration;

Kalona, IA, Meeting;

Madison, WI, Rally and March;

Paragould, AR, Demonstration;

Chicago, IL, Rally: bring signs and banners;

Nashville, TN, Town Hall Forum;

Kalamazoo, MI, Poetry, video, forum, demonstration;

Detroit, MI, Demonstration,

Lakwood, OH, Film Viewing, Discussion;

Newark, OH, Public Reading of Constitution;

Athens, GA, Discussion;

Atlanta, GA, Discussion;

Tallahassee, FL, Rally for War Crimes Trials with speakers, petitions, and fact sheets;

Gainesville, FL, Impeach, Indict, Imprison! event;

Jacksonville, FL, Rally to demand impeachment of Bush and Cheney;

St. Petersburg, FL, Forum;

Tampa, FL, Demonstration;

State College, PA, Rally;

Washington, DC, panel-led discussion and multi-media presentation, with Bush Chain Gang, with Steve Cobble, Debra Sweet, Tim Carpenter, Rostam Pourzal;

Washington, DC, (Dec. 4th) forum with Cynthia McKinney, Chris Hedges, Ray McGovern;

Wayne, NJ, Why New Jersey Must Impeach the Bush Gang;

Voorhees, NJ, Film Viewing and Discussion, With Dave Lindorff;

Brooklyn, NY, Musical Celebration with Yikes McGee, George Mann, Julius Margolin, Alec Duffy;

New York, NY, with Cindy Sheehan, John Nichols, Sunsara Taylor, Carolyn Ho;

New Haven, CT, Funeral for the Constitution;

Providence, RI, Rally and March;

Cambridge, MA, forum with notable musicians, activists, and orators;

Hyannis, MA, Protest;

Acton, MA, Meeting;

Randolph, VT, Meeting.



Contact: David Swanson 202-329-7847








Live Blogging from Gates Hearing
Wednesday, 06 December 2006 14:05
By David Swanson

9:15 a.m. ET, 12/5/2006 -- The hearing hasn't started yet. Ray McGovern is sitting in the front row. If the questioning is lame, he and I will try to get everyone chanting "You won the elections! Now ask real questions!" unless one of you has a better chant idea. That's the best we've thought of on our own so far. Out on the street in front of the Hart Senate Office Building in Washington DC, the World Can't Wait is protesting along with the Bush Chain Gang. I have a video camera, but anything I shoot won't be posted until tonight at the earliest. 9:45 a.m. Sen. John Warner, Chair of Senate Armed Services, introduced Gates, saying that he became director of the CIA after 21 witnesses produced 2500 pages of testimony and he was confirmed by the Senate. He then "served with distinction." Then Warner started bragging on his own military service. Now he's quoting his own recent muddled pseudo-tough words on Iraq: "no option off the table." To further clarify, he quoted Gen Peter Pace from yesterday: "We're not winning but we're not losing."

Warner plans a hearing at 9:30 on Thursday following Wednesday's release of the Baker-Hamilton plan to support the war before opposing it while supporting it. Warner urged the President to consult with Congress, even while using Bush's new euphemism: "the way forward." Warner refers to Gates as his longtime friend.

9:55 Carl Levin spoke next. Didn't say much, but did so at length. Praised Warner's service as chairman. Now, former Senator and Viagra salesman Bob Dole is speaking.





Peace Groups Hold “Mandate for Peace” Congressional Call-in Day In Advance of Iraq Study Group Report
Tuesday, 05 December 2006 01:52
Thousands call Congress to remind their representatives that voters issued a Mandate for Peace in the mid-term elections and expect Congress to end the war and bring the troops home now!

Washington, DC – As Democrats prepare to hold a forum on the future of Iraq tomorrow and the Iraq Study Group is poised to release its recommendations on Wednesday, thousands of voters called Congressional offices today as part of a National Call-In Day to remind the new Congress that the November 7th election was a clear referendum against the Iraq war. “American voters sent a clear message in November,” said Linda Schade of VotersForPeace. “Now they want action – to bring the troops home immediately.”

“We did not elect James Baker and Lee Hamilton to come up with the new policy on Iraq – we elected the new Congress to do that. And nothing less than an end to the Iraq war and prompt withdrawal of all the US troops will satisfy the Mandate for Peace that was issued by the voters in the mid-term elections,” said Medea Benjamin of Global Exchange.

The call-in day was organized under the banner of the Mandate for Peace campaign, which is a coalition of veterans, faith groups and peace organizations including United for Peace and Justice, Iraq Veterans Against War, Peace Action, VotersForPeace, True Majority, Progressive Democrats of America, Peace Action, Goldstar Families for Peace, Network of Spiritual Progressives, CODEPINK, Iraqi Voices for Peace, Global Exchange, DemocracyRising.us, After Downing Street, Pax Christi USA, and others. Through a petition, to be housed at www.mandateforpeace.org , press events outside the offices of newly elected Representatives, lobbying, and protests, the groups will hold Congress members responsible to the majority of Americans, who are saying the Iraq war was a mistake and needs to be ended.

“Support for the war is eroding across the political spectrum, and President Bush is increasingly isolated,” said Sue Udry of the anti-war coalition United for Peace and Justice. “The Congress has enormous room to do the bidding of the electorate, stem the bloodshed and stop the flow of funding for a failed policy.”

Numerous pre-election polls revealed that Americans considered the Iraq war to be the top issue going into the mid-term elections. A USA Today Gallup poll conducted in early October showed that 86% of respondents said when it came to the mid-term election, the situation in Iraq was extremely important to them. In a CBS/New York Times poll conducted in late October, respondents said that Iraq was the number one issue they want the new Congress to concentrate on first. They also chose Iraq above other issues when asked which one issue is most important to them in deciding who to vote for this year. In a Pew poll conducted in mid October, respondents also chose Iraq as their most important issue in the mid-term election, over the economy, healthcare and terrorism. Most poll results are available at http://www.pollingreport.com/prioriti.htm

The new Mandate for Peace campaign calls on Congress to restore the bonds of trust between the people, who want a swift end to the Iraq war, and our elected representatives, who have not represented the will of the majority with regards to Iraq. It reads, in part, “We insist that the newly elected Congress act immediately to pass legislation that requires the prompt withdrawal of all US troops from Iraq.” The Mandate also calls on Congress to commit to no permanent military bases in Iraq; support an Iraqi-led reconciliation process to shape a peaceful post-occupation transition; investigate and penalize illegal war profiteering; provide full funding of benefits for returning Iraq war veterans; and prevent future wars with Iran or North Korea.

For the full text of the Mandate for Peace petition and additional information, see www.mandateforpeace.org





Swedish human rights worker viciously attacked by Jewish extremists in Hebron
Wednesday, 22 November 2006 03:10
by Richard Kastelein
Publisher's Note: If 100 Palestinians chanting anti-Christian slogans had smashed a 19-year-old Swedish girl in the face with a bottle, breaking her cheek bone, it would be headlines in much of the US media. Yet, not a single American mainstream news outlet has covered this incident, in which Israeli citizens did just that.

A 19-year old Swedish human rights worker had her cheekbone broken by a Jewish extremist in Hebron on November 18th while walking hrough the Tel Rumeida checkpoint with a small group of human rights workers (HRWs) to accompany Palestinian schoolchildren to their homes.

Tove Johansson from Stockholm and the rest of the group were confronted by about 100 Jewish extremists in small groups. They started chanting in Hebrew:

"We killed Jesus, we'll kill you too!

— a refrain the settlers had been repeating to internationals in Tel Rumeida all day.

Earlier the same day at least five Palestinians, including a 3-year-old child, were injured by the settler-supporting extremists, who rampaged through Tel Rumeida hurling stones and bottles at local residents. Palestinian schoolchildren on their way home were also attacked. The Israeli army, which was intensively deployed in the area, did not intervene to stop the attacks.

After about thirty seconds of waiting, a small group of very aggressive male Jewish extremists surrounded the international volunteers and began spitting at them, so much so that the internationals described it as "like rain." Then men from the back of the crowd began jumping up and spitting, while others from the back and side of the crowd kicked the volunteers.






Friday, 17 November 2006 12:07
Atlantic Free Press  - Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT), an outspoken opponent of the Military Commission Act of 2006, today introduced legislation which would amend existing law in order to have an effective process for bringing terrorists to justice. This is currently not the case under the Military Commission Act, which will be the subject of endless legal challenges. As important, the bill would also seek to ensure that U.S. servicemen and women are afforded the maximum protection of a strong international legal framework guaranteed by respect for such provisions as the Geneva Conventions and other international standards, and to restore America’s moral authority as the leader in the world in advancing the rule of law.

“I take a backseat to no one when it comes to protecting this country from terrorists,” Sen. Dodd said. “But there is a right way to do this and a wrong way to do this. It’s clear the people who perpetrated these horrendous crimes against our country and our people have no moral compass and deserve to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. But in taking away their legal rights, the rights first codified in our country’s Constitution, we’re taking away our own moral compass, as well.”

The Effective Terrorists Prosecution Act:

* Restores Habeas Corpus protections to detainees

* Narrows the definition of unlawful enemy combatant to individuals who directly participate in hostilities against the United States who are not lawful combatants

* Bars information gained through coercion from being introduced as evidence in trials

* Empowers military judges to exclude hearsay evidence the deem to be unreliable

* Authorizes the US Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces to review decisions by the Military commissions

* Limits the authority of the President to interpret the meaning and application of the Geneva Conventions and makes that authority subject to congressional and judicial oversight

* Provides for expedited judicial review of the Military Commissions Act of 2006 to determine the constitutionally of its provisions

“We in Congress have our own obligation, to work in a bipartisan way to repair the damage that has been done, to protect our international reputation, to preserve our domestic traditions, and to provide a successful mechanism to improve and enhance the tools required by the global war on terror,” Dodd said.





Impeach for Change Kicks off National Campaign
Monday, 13 November 2006 04:42

by Dave Lindorff

The kick-off session of the new national movement for impeachment of President Bush (and Vice President Dick Cheney), Impeach for Change, held in Philadelphia's new Constitution Center just a block away from Independence Hall where the Constitution was written, was a huge success.


Surprisingly, for a meeting of progressives, there was no dissention. Instead, there was a broad acceptance of the notion that impeachment of this president should not be a matter of partisan strategy, but rather an imperative for defense of the U.S. Constitution.

As former Representative Elizabeth Holtzman, who served on the House impeachment panel that voted out three articles of impeachment against President Richard Nixon, put it at the forum, the Constitution is being gravely threatened by Bush's abuses of power and his constitutional crimes, and the American public is "way ahead" of a Democratic leadership that is counseling caution and that is saying impeachment is "off the table."






Direct Democracy Lost in Florida and Colorado
Monday, 13 November 2006 04:22
by Joel S. Hirschhorn

With all the hoopla about the big Democratic win, little attention has been given to the assault on direct democracy. Sadly, Florida voters caved in and passed Amendment 3 that requires 60 percent to pass ballot initiatives instead of the present simple majority. What should be viewed as one of the great ironies of all times is that this amendment passed by a statewide vote of 57.8 percent to 42.2 percent. That’s right; this terrible amendment would not have passed under the new rule that now has become law!

Michael Mayo, writing in the Sun-Sentinel before the election, noted: “Florida's amendment system has its faults, but it provides a necessary and powerful counterbalance to an aloof, insulated Legislature. Raising the amendment bar would only make it harder for citizens to flex their muscle. And that's exactly what the politicians and big businesses want. This amendment was put on the ballot by the Legislature, not a petition drive. … If [Amendment 3] passes, democracy in Florida loses.”

Libertarian, liberal and conservative groups and the Democratic and Republican candidates for governor opposed the amendment, but were no match for corporate money.





National Impeachment Movement this Saturday in Philadelphia!
Friday, 10 November 2006 03:18
by Dave Lindorff,

With Democrats in control of Congress again, it's time to start a national campaign for impeachment.

Nancy Pelosi may say no impeachment, but the American public wants it to happen. They know that this administration is a clear and present danger to Constitutional government and to the rule of law, and they want Congress to act.

Music by Tom Chelston


In order to get Pelosi and the rest of Congress to obey their oath to uphold and defend the Constitution, a coalition of organizations is meeting this Saturday at 1 in Philadelphia, just a block north of Independence Hall where over two centuries ago the Constitution was written and signed. Groups including Gold Star Families for Peace, Democrats.com, Veterans for Peace, Code Pink, Impeachpac, and others, joined by representatives from such organizations as NOW, Constitution Summer and the After Downing Street Coalition, will be plotting on how to build a national movement.

Among the plans being discussed are a march on the Capital in January and delivery of a million signatures on an impeachment petition.

There will also be a panel of bloggers, including yours truly, talking about how to get impeachment into the media and public consciousness.

Tickets to this historic event are $10 at the door, but readers of this column can get theirs free by going to national impeachment movement. Look there too for a schedule of events, directions to the Constitution Center and Kirby Hall, where the forum will be held.

Spread the word, and let's make impeachment happen!





Hussein's Defense Team Outraged - Ramsey Tossed out of Court
Monday, 06 November 2006 09:32

by Richard Kastelein


Ramsey Clark was violently removed from the courtroom in Baghdad at the Trial. He claims it was a political stunt by the Republican party due to the upcoming midterm elections.

Ramsey Clark and his legal team has released a statement from inside the Green Zone in Iraq today claiming that the trial ending in execution sentences for Hussein and his compatriots was a complete  'mockery'.

"These unjust sentences issued today by the so-called "the Iraqi High Criminal Court", which is directed by the American occupation, have come to result of a systematic approach of this illegal court that made its conduct, marked with showing disrespect to principles of justice and the basic rules of international and Iraqi laws, which resulted in grave and continued violations to the fundamental rules of criminal proceedings where judges were vested by the occupation from among the enemies of President Saddam and his comrades," stated the press release.

According to the lawyers, the judges continuously revealed they were un-impartial, un-independent and biased against Hussein and the others on trial. The also claimed that foreign powers were clearly involved in the decision.
"The proceedings of the trial revealed also, that the panel chamber, which rendered the conviction, is fully submissive to the will of the occupier and its subordinate government.  Thus, the tried persons were deprived from the basic opportunity to defend themselves; defense lawyers were assassinated, threatened, insulted, displaced out of their country and dismissed from the courtroom."

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