Friday, April 18, 2014

My heart breaks for the workers of Detroit

Jerry White (WSWS) goes over some of the hard realities now facing Detroit as a result of the neoliberal plan to destroy the city:

All the principal political actors are being lined up in Detroit to browbeat workers over the next several weeks into accepting a bankruptcy restructuring plan, drafted by the Wall Street banks and their political servants, that contains sweeping attacks on the working class.

In advance of today’s deadline for legal challenges to the Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr’s “Plan of Adjustment,” two union-affiliated retiree associations agreed to drop lawsuits against the bankruptcy and endorse a deal that cuts pensions and health care benefits. Before the bankruptcy of Detroit—the largest municipal bankruptcy case in US history—such cuts would have been considered inconceivable because of constitutional protections for public employee pensions in many states, including Michigan.

If the deals are rammed through, some 6,500 retired firefighters and police—who do not qualify for Social Security benefits—will have their pensions frozen and cost of living adjustments cut by more than one half to one percent a year. Another 11,000 city workers in the city’s General Retirement System, who subsist on pension checks averaging $1,500 a month, will be hit with a 4.5 percent cut and lose inflation adjustments altogether.

Making matters even worse, retirees over 65 will be dumped onto the federal Medicare system and those under 65 will be forced to purchase private insurance on Obama’s health care exchanges—imposing impossible out of pocket costs for inferior care. Future medical coverage will be handled by a union-controlled Voluntary Employees’ Beneficiary Association (VEBA), which in the words of the Detroit Free Press, “is expected to deliver significantly reduced benefits to retirees.”

Who is left to fight for the workers?

Not the unions who have sadly been inept or corrupt throughout the entire proceedings.

When this is repeated across the country, will the unions fight back then?

Or will they just sell out everyone?

I have no idea..

These are very sad times.

I am very sorry for the people of Detroit who have been betrayed by a government which was supposed to serve them but which has instead worked to destroy all the workers had managed to achieve through very, very hard work.

And no one really seems to care.

I feel like C.I. must when she's writing about, for example, Nouri's daily bombings of residential neighborhoods in Falluja.  She covers it and she covers it and the western media ignores the topic.

And here, I cover the WSWS' Detroit coverage and I applaud the WSWS.

And I keep waiting for it to be amplified.  And it never is.

The Nation doesn't care, The Progressive doesn't care.

It's really sad.  I'm glad we have the WSWS.  I'm sad that it's looking more and more like that's the only thing the people has on their side.

This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for Thursday:

Thursday, April 17, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, Nouri's War Crimes continue, Iraq preps for parliamentary elections, the Ja'fari bill gets attention on KPFA, in the US an Iraqi man is convicted of killing his wife, and much more.

Starting in the US where there's been a conviction.  City News Service reports the El Cajon murder trial reached a verdict today with the jury "finding Kassim Alhimidi, 49, guilty of first-degree murder in the death of 32-year-old Shaima Alawadi, a mother of five."  As we noted April 1st, Shaima's murder was briefly important to gas bags in March 2012 when they thought she was murdered by someone who hated her because she was Muslim or because she was Iraqi or both.  When it turned out it was her husband?  They ran from her and never looked back.  Uprising Radio, US Socialist Worker, Democracy Now . . . all of them cared when it was a 'hate crime' by a stranger.  When Shaima's murder became another in a long line of women killed by 'loved ones' in the US, they didn't have any interest.

  • Victim's family says guilty verdict is the least that could have been done. say in Iraq if you kill someone, you should be killed

  • Tony Perry (Los Angeles Times) reports, "Al-Himidi did not testify during the trial. He wept openly at times and followed the proceeding with the help of an Arabic translator. He screamed when the jury's verdict was read. He faces up to life in prison when sentenced." Kristina Davis and Dana Littlefield (San Diego Union-Tribune) offer, "Kassim Alhimidi shook his head and wagged his finger repeatedly when he heard the verdict: first-degree murder. He put his head down on the desk in front of him several times and appeared to be praying."  R. Stickney and Monica Garske (NBC San Diego -- link is text and video) note, "As the defendant cried out in Arabic 'not guilty,' his mother-in-law flailed her arms, screaming 'you killed my daughter,' while his two teenage sons chose opposing sides."  Kassim Alhimidi is scheduled to be sentenced next month.

    Moving to another topic popular on Twitter . . .

  • Child marriage law stokes fears of looming theocracy in Iraq

  • Breaking News: Iraq's leaders to vote on legalising . Tell them to vote "no" - via

  • Yesterday on KPFA's Voices of the Middle East and North Africa, the controversial bill which passed Iraq's Cabinet of Ministers and that chief thug and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki  has forwarded to the Parliament was discussed. 

    Shahram Aghamir: Last month the Iraqi Cabinet approved a new personal status legislation called the Ja'fari law which is named after the sixth Shi'ite Imam, Ja'far al-Sadiq who established a school of jurisprudence in Medina in the 8th century.  This legislation has created an uproar among Iraqi women's rights and the civil rights community.  If approved, the Ja'fari law will abolish the current Personal Status Law 188 which is considered one of the most progressive in the Arab world.  The new law will roll back the rights of women in marriage, divorce and child custody as well as inheritance.  It will lower the age of marriage for girls from 18 to 9 and boys to 15.  Who has initially proposed the law and what are the implications of this law for Iraqi women?  Malihe spoke with Iraqi women's rights activist Basma al-Khateeb who volunteers with Iraq's 1st Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women Shadow Report Coalition as an expert and a trainer.

    Basma al-Khateeb:  Actually, the Minister of Justice by the end of October declared that they have a committee -- expert committee -- and they have finished drafting the Ja'fari law.  It consists of 256 articles and he's going to present it to the Cabinet by the next session.  He says that they've been working on for the past two years.

    Malihe Razazan:  Back in 2004, Abdul Aziz al-Hakim who died in 2009, he was in exile in Iran for 20 years before the invasion, and after the occupation of Iraq, he worked very closely with the Americans.  His party worked to pass Decision 137 issue by interim governing council to abolish the Personal Status Law Number 188 which was passed  in 1959 --

    Basma al-Kahteeb:  That was actually the first thing that he -- that he issued, this Resolution 137 -- as if Iraq had no problems.  This was the only rule that he came up with.  And we had demonstrations and we managed to defeat that.  They withdrew it.

    Malihe Razazan:   Yeah, because there was a huge backlash against it.

    Basma al-Khateeb:  But this is historical.  His father, Muhsin al-Hakim, back in 1959, when the civil Personal Status Law was issued, the religious institutes led by Muhsin al-Hakim back then, his father, refused this Personal Status Law because it will take all the authority from the cleric.

    Malihe Razazan:  In matters regarding women's divorce, child custody, inheritance it will be left to civil courts.

    Basma al-Khateeb:  Yes.  And this is how our judicial system and lawyers and colleges and scholars all -- I mean, we're talking about sixty years that all our institutions -- judicial, court, everything -- is built on it.  This -- going back just to abolish all of this -- this law --the formal law, the Personal Status Law that's still active now. It doesn't go to clerics, only the judge rules.  This current law puts another council that is in control of judges of courts.  It just turns everything into chaos.  Every lawyer has to study all these religious and cleric institution and legal issues.  It doesn't mean that we have one court.  It means that we have more than 20 courts because each Ayatollah is different in examination with the other.  Havilah?  Even though they're Sh'itie, they're different from the Sadr group, they're different from Sistani interpretation which means multi courts.

    Raheem Salman, Ahmed Rasheed, Isabel Coles and Andrew Roche (Reuters) explore the topic and note:

    Proponents of the Ja'afari Law say many families marry off daughters underage anyway, particularly in the rural south, so the bill would protect young brides by codifying their status.
    "The law does not make the marriage of underage girls obligatory," said Shi'ite women's rights activist Thabat al-Unaibi, adding she would not let her own two daughters marry until they were old enough to have finished their studies.
    "Why all the fuss over this issue?"

    And supporters have been the winners.  Hajer Naili  (Women's eNews) notes:

    Haider Ala Hamoudi, a law professor at the University of Pittsburg who advised the 2009 Constitutional Review Committee of the Iraqi legislature on behalf of the United States Embassy in Baghdad, has analyzed the text.
    In a phone interview he called it sloppily drafted and poorly organized. "I just dismiss it as publicity to garner votes."

    In a in the Jurist, lays out the obstacles to transforming religious texts into actual laws and calls the text something of a "political stunt." In the article he quotes Ayatollah al- Bashir Najif, a leading Shiite, as criticizing the bill as "rife with flights of fancy in legal and juristic formulations that render it impossible that a jurist would find it acceptable."

    Really?  We're going to predict what's going to happen in an election when anything can happen?

    And if it's being used "to garner votes," might some push hard for it to pass the Parliament after the election?

    I have no idea what's going to happen with the bill.

    But it does have supporters and it is being sold.  It's being normalized.

    And this is happening not just with the bill and the attempt to kill off the Personal Status Law Number 188.  This is part of a larger war.  Dropping back to January 27, 2012 snapshot:

    We bring that up because Nouri did finally find a woman and named her to be Minister of the State for Women's Affairs. The woman is Dr. Ibtihal al-Zaidi. And Al Mada reports the lovely doesn't believe in equality stating equality "harms women" but she's happy to offer government dictates on what women should be wearing. No, she's not a minister. She's many things including words we won't use here but she's not friend to women and that's why Nouri picked her. A real woman fighting for other women? Nouri can't handle that. A simpering idiot who states that women should only act after their husband's consent? That gender traitor gets a ministry. She's currently at work devising a uniform for Iraqi women.

    Let's to back to Wednesday's broadcast of Voices of the Middle East and North Africa.

    Basma al-Khateeb:  It lowers the marriage age for girls to  9 -- 

    Malihe Razazan:  From 18.

    Basma al-Khateeb:  -- 15 for boys, it's 18 for both [currently] marriage.  Only in  very, very special cases it's 15 with the consent of the judge under the current law.  But for this Ja'fari law it lowers the age to 9.  And wives must seek permission from their husbands before leaving the house.  If I am a doctor or a minister or a lawyer, I cannot go out without permission from my husband, go out of the house.  Muslim men would be prohibited from marrying non-Muslim women.  Granting husbands legal rights to have sex with their wives without their consent.  Granting custody to the father of any child over two-years-old in the case of divorce which is not the case that we have now with the current law.  

    Note the similarities between the law and the position, two years ago, of the Minister of Women's Affairs.

    Nouri picked that idiot for a reason.

    This is not happening by accident.

    Bit by bit, this gets pushed over and over.  And every time it does the appropriate response is world wide condemnation.  Short of that?  It's not just being normalized within Iraq, it's being normalized outside of Iraq via silence.

    Girls below the age of nine can be married with the consent of their

    "But it's still a danger because it's there, the draft is there."
    also them they're still lobbying to pass it

    As Mark Taliano (Troy Media) observes, "'Freedom' and 'democracy' are still cloaking, tacitly or overtly, mass murder and genocide in Iraq at this moment."  And that's certainly clear as Nouri terrorizes the citizens of Anbar.  His War Crimes are many but include the non-stop bombing of residential neighborhoods in Falluja.  Yesterday's snapshot noted how common these bombings were.  The military's bombing of the residential neighborhoods continues.  NINA reports, "A source at the Fallujah General Hospital told the reporter of the National Iraqi News Agency / NINA / five people, including a woman, were killed and 11 others wounded, including two children, in the renewed shelling and mortar to most of Fallujah today."  Qatar News Agency covers the killing of civilians here.

    This is a War Crime.  Nouri's committing War Crimes with weapons the US government provides him with.

    Ann submitted a question to  Gwen Ifill's  live 'chat' (it's not) at PBS' The NewsHour today:

      Which, by the way, is what Ann's question to Gwen Ifill was about (see previous entry "Ann's question on Iraq just got 'answered'").

    Comment From Ann  
    Good afternoon, Gwen. I'm bothered by the attack on Anbar Province in Iraq and the lack of western media coverage. Specifically, Nouri al-Maliki has been bombing the residential neighborhoods of Falluja every day since the start of the year. This is collective punishment and it is leaving many dead -- including many children. But we see nothing on the news about this in the US. Since we are the ones arming Maliki, this seems like a serious news issue in need of coverage to me. What does it take to get Iraq covered on The Newshour? Thank you.
    Gwen Ifill: 
    I have to say, if you're going to see coverage of the ongoing situation in Iraq anywhere, it will be on the NewsHour.

    So Ann raises specific issues and gets an 'answer' where Gwen basically says, 'Watch The NewsHour!'

    It's a funny kind of chat with Gwen playing Amway salesperson.

    But credit to Ann for raising the issue during the 'chat.'

    Turning to other violence . . .


    National Iraqi News Agency reports Joint Operations Command declared they killed 54 suspects in Falluja,  a Balad Ruz suicide bomber took his own life and the life of 1 Iraqi soldierNouri's military used helicopters to kill 4 suspects in Ramadi, a Jurf al-Sakar roadside bombing left four Iraqi soldiers injured, a Tikrit roadside bombing left three police members injured, a Baghdad car bombing left 5 people dead and nineteen injured, and, west of Mosul in Addayya Village, an attack on an Iraqi military base killed 12 soldiers and left ten more injured.

    In addition, Xinhua reports:

    Also in Salahudin province, gunmen blew up a crude oil pipeline in al-Fatha area in east of the city of Baiji, some 200 km north of Baghdad, causing large quantity of oil spill into the nearby Tigris River, a provincial police source said.
    The pipeline carries crude oil produced from Ajil Oilfield in east of the provincial capital city of Tikrit, some 170 km north of Baghdad, to the refinery in Baiji. A huge fire occurred at the scene, while the oil leak caused pollution in Tigris river that forces many water facilities to stop working in the cities to the south of the leak, the source added.

  • Shootings?

    National Iraqi News Agency reports Joint Operations Command declared they killed 54 suspects in Falluja,  1 Shabak was shot dead in Mosul, another Shabak was shot dead in Mosul -- Hussein Badran who was the city's director of parks and forests,  a Raibia secondary school was stormed and its director shot dead, and, west of Mosul in Addayya Village, an attack on an Iraqi military base killed 12 soldiers and left ten more injured.
    Alsumaria notes two parents and their daughter were injured in a Dora shooting,


    Alsumaria notes the corpses of 5 men and 1 women (all shot) were found dumped in the Euphrates River to the north of Babylon,

    Elections are supposed to take place April 30th, parliamentary elections.  Al-Shorfa reports, "Iraq's Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) on Thursday (April 17th) said it has doubled the number of international observers who will monitor the next parliamentary elections."  Kirk Sowell (Gulf News) notes

      The other key Al Maliki rival are the Sadrists, most of whom are running under the name Ahrar Bloc (Freemen Bloc). Ahrar recently voted in a new governing board following Muqtada Al Sadr’s announcement that he was withdrawing from politics. It remains unclear as to what impact Sadr’s withdrawal will have.
    There are several third-tier coalitions which should get a handful of seats; some of them are entirely Shiite while others are cross-sectarian. They are about evenly divided between factions which are pro and anti-Al Maliki, and should only have an impact if Al Maliki’s margin of victory is relatively narrow.
    The primary Sunni Arab bloc is Speaker Nujaifi’s Mutahidun. It contains a majority of the Sunni factions in the 2010 opposition Iraqiya coalition nominally headed by former interim Prime Minister Eyad Allawi, plus the largest Sunni Turkoman group, the Iraqi Turkoman FrontIts political programme mainly consists of decentralisation, potentially forming new autonomous regions, and the defence of Sunni identity in the face of the Shiite-dominated government in Baghdad.

    While Mutahidun’s public rhetoric is focused on pillorying the Al Maliki government, Nujaifi is informally allied with the main Kurdish party, the Kurdistani Democratic Party (KDP), due to his pro-decentralisation stance, ties to Turkey and the need for Kurds, who are predominately Sunni, to balance the Shiites.

    Sowell also points out that there are 142 political parties competing and twelve of those are part of Nouri's State of Law coalition (which lost in 2010 to Ayad Allawi's Iraqiya.   Harith Hasan (Al-Monitor) notes Iraqiya has fragmented since 2010:

    Five main coalitions will compete to win Sunni votes, but we cannot rule out surprise results that might be achieved by small or local parties. Three of these five coalitions, in fact, represent fragments of the Iraqiya List, which is no longer present in the elections. The Mutahidoun bloc, led by parliament Speaker Osama al-Nujaifi, is the first of these coalitions. It consists of 13 parties and is seeking to appear as the biggest Sunni force after the elections. The second coalition is the Arabiya led by Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq, and includes nine parties. Third, there is the Nationalist Coalition, led by Ayad Allawi, the former prime minister who was the leader of the Iraqiya List.
    The Nationalist is one of the rare blocs that includes Sunni and Shiite members. Moreover, it is participating in the elections in all Arabic-speaking provinces. However, this coalition has poor chances because of intense sectarian polarization and Allawi’s loss of a large part of his traditional constituency, partly due to the emergence of a new liberal list called the Civil Democratic Alliance.

     Al Mada notes Allawi stated today the US backed Nouri (gave him the post of prime minister for a second term) because the US just wanted out of Iraq and he notes their influence is very small in Iraq and in the Middle East -- he points to the failure of (John Kerry's) efforts with regard to Palestine, he points to the Taliban increasing in Afghanistan as the US prepares to leave, he points to Somalia and Sudan.  National Iraqi News Agency reports:

    The independent MP of the coalition of Kurdish blocs, Mahmoud Othman confirmed " the possibility of establishing a new alliance comprises Barzani , Allawi, al-Hakim, al-Sadr and al-Nujaifi to form the next government ," ruling out holding a session for the House of Representatives before the parliamentary elections ."

    Mustafa al-Kadhimi (Al-Monitor) notes the parties are offering no platforms or programs as they seek elected office:

    The Iraqi political forces competing in the elections justify the absence of real programs by asserting that Iraq remains in transition, so there are real differences over the basis of the political process — such as the constitution, government formation, the decision-making process and the relationship between the central government and the provinces and the regions. They claim that this reality forces them to take positions on these particular issues, rather than presenting political programs. For example, some campaigns are sloganeering on amending the constitution, while others' slogans invoke government formation by the political majority, decentralization and the war on terror.
    Being in a transitional phase and disagreeing over political fundamentals do not, however, justify lacking an economic or development program or taking positions on such issues as housing, health, education, human development, and human rights and freedoms. To be fair, a few political forces such as the Supreme Islamic Council have presented detailed programs, but the problem is then that the Iraqi voter is faced with a choice between a detailed program and lots of attractive slogans.

    They may not have programs or proposals, but, in Basra, they have food.  Saleem al-Wazzan (Niqash) reports:

    “Some candidates believe that the easiest way to convince voters, or to silence critics, is by filling their mouths with food,” Kathem Zayer, a primary school teacher in Basra, told NIQASH. “The same thing happens when there are provincial elections – there’s clearly a direct relationship between elections and banquets. Today special meals are the best way of enhancing a candidate’s image, and of burnishing the image of the party behind them.”

    And during this round of campaigning it seems that banquets are more popular than ever, replacing the usual distribution of other gifts like blankets and food. Banqueting also seems to have replaced campaign promises, for things like government jobs or better services. That’s because nobody believes these promises anymore. But they can still dine out.

    In the province of Basra, south of Baghdad, there are more than 750 candidates competing. Prominent parties in the area, which has a mostly Shiite Muslim population, include the State of Law list led by current Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who is himself a Shiite Muslim as well as the list led by the Shiite Muslim-oriented Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq and the Ahrar list, which is tied to the Sadrist movement, also Shiite Muslim. Also noteworthy in Basra is the Wataniya party, which is led by former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi and which is trying to set itself apart as being secular and non-denominational. 

    By rights Basra should be one of Iraq’s wealthiest cities – it is the site of a major port and some of Iraq’s biggest oil fields are located in the surrounding province. But somehow this wealth has not had any effect on the lives of many ordinary people who live here – the poverty level in Iraq sits at around 22 percent but some recent estimates suggest that it’s higher in Basra. They say that just over a third of the population in Basra live in poverty.

    Thursday, April 17, 2014

    Pension and retirement cuts

    30 years from now, do you think people will be asking, "Why didn't they pay attention to Detroit?"

    As the model's reproduced across the country, they may wonder.

    For now, Jerry White (WSWS) is left to note what's going on:

    A mediator in the federal bankruptcy proceedings in Detroit announced yesterday that the retiree association representing 6,500 former policemen and firefighters had reached an agreement with the city on pension and health care cuts.

    The deal, the first to be reached with the union-affiliated retiree association, sets the stage for a broader agreement with the city’s largest public sector union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), to implement the sweeping attacks on workers and public services contained in the Detroit bankruptcy plan.

    Under the agreement reached with the Retired Detroit Police and Fire Fighters Association (RDPFFA) Tuesday, monthly pension checks will be frozen at the current level and the annual Cost of Living Adjustments (COLA) of 2.25 percent will be reduced to 1 percent. The move, which will further erode already meager pension checks, will deal a hard blow to retirees who do not qualify for Social Security.

    Even more devastating, the RDPFFA agreed to the city’s plan to end retiree health care payments and dump its obligations onto a union-run Voluntary Employees’ Beneficiary Association (VEBA), which, in the words of the Detroit Free Press, “is expected to deliver significantly reduced benefits to retirees.” The city has already forced retirees over 65 onto Medicare and those younger to purchase private insurance through Obama’s exchanges—a move that means tens of thousands of additional dollars in medical expenses for inferior coverage.

    WSWS remains the only outlet that has covered this and treated it seriously.

    This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for Wednesday: 

    Wednesday, April 16, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, Nouri's assault on Anbar continues and we take a look at these War Crimes which have taken place since the start of the year, Iraq comes in at the top of a list (for getting away with murder), and much more.

    In Iraq today, Nouri continued his streak of War Crimes as he continued his targeting civilians with collective punishment.  NINA notes the shelling of residential neighborhoods in Falluja left 16 civilians dead and nineteen injure. From Ned Parker offers "Iraq: The Road to Chaos" (The New York Review of Books):

    In interviews, US officials portrayed the fight in Anbar as a battle between Baghdad and al-Qaeda, and sent hellfire missiles for Maliki to use, regardless of the consequences and of the lack of a clearly defined objective. As my Reuters colleagues and I have documented, in recent weeks Iraqi Special Forces soldiers have bragged of executing suspected militants in Anbar. They describe it as revenge for what ISIS did to them. On Facebook community pages, Iraqi soldiers post pictures of ISIS fighters they have killed, depicting the executions as part of a regional war against Sunni extremists that spans from Iraq to Syria to Lebanon. Despite such boasts, control of the province’s main cities, Fallujah and Ramadi, is now divided among the Iraqi security forces, tribal leaders, ISIS, and other Sunni insurgents. ISIS has even seized a dam near Fallujah and flooded land to prevent the military from approaching its strongholds.

    That's important and thank goodness there's a reporter like Ned Parker. But let's go back to the civilian issue.

    When is the world going to object?  When are people going to express their outrage?  The US has weaponized Nouri, giving him what he needs to kill civilians.  And he's killing them.

    Will anyone speak out?

    BRussells Tribunal carried "Iraq - Genocide in Fallujah" by the European Parliament's Struan Stevenson:

    The unfolding tragedy in the Iraqi city of Fallujah seems to have slipped off the international radar screen, as the focus of the global community drifts from Syria to Kiev and back again. The humanitarian situation in Fallujah is dire. The sectarian prime minister of Iraq, Nouri al-Maliki has surrounded the city with thousands of troops, effectively sealing it off. The Iraqi air force has mounted daily bomb attacks, cutting off electricity and water supplies and destroying several bridges in an effort to prevent food and water from reaching the besieged inhabitants. Last week, they bombed Fallujah General Hospital, killing nearly all of the doctors and nurses and many of the patients and forcing its closure. More than 300,000 people have been made homeless.
    Ban Ki Moon and the United Nations Assistance Mission to Iraq (UNAMI) continue to plead with Maliki to provide humanitarian aid to the city and to enter into negotiations that can bring an end to violence in the predominantly Sunni, Al Anbar Province. The sharp response from the aggressively pro-Shia prime minister was there would be "no negotiation with terrorists." In a single sentence he has labeled all of the residents of Iraq's largest province as "terrorists" in order to justify his genocidal campaign.

    And, as BRussells Tribunal points out, the European Parliament as a body has called out these attacks on civilians and did so in the European Parliament resolution 27 February 2013 on the situation in Iraq:

    Is deeply concerned about the continuing acts of violence perpetrated against the civilian population, vulnerable groups and religious communities; calls on the Iraqi Government and on all political leaders to take the necessary measures to provide security and protection for all people in Iraq, in particular members of vulnerable groups such as women, journalists, young people, fundamental rights activists, trade unionists and religious communities, including Christians; calls on the Iraqi Government to ensure that the security forces comply with the rule of law and international standards;

    In January,  Human Rights Watch issued "Iraq: Protect Anbar Residents From Abuses." And that's it for the world's attention.  It's a shame other bodies and government officials can't call out these War Crimes.  The White House not only can't call Nouri out, they can't stop arming him, it's like an addiction with them.

    And yet there's no outcry in the US.  Everyone looks the other way and rushes to find some problem -- real or faux -- to pretend they care about.

    How many civilians have to die before Nouri's assault is called out?

    Maybe people think, "Oh, it's just a few."  It's a number nearly every day.

    We're going to through past snapshot's to illustrate.  Please note, there's more than we've covered.  And there's more than the below and our missed coverage.  This is one of the most under-reported series of killings by the press.

    From the January 10th snapshot:

    And fearful, scared Nouri resorted to collective punishment again today.   Iraqi Spring MC reports Nouri al-Maliki's air force bombed residential areas in Ramadi today, denied humanitarian aid to Falluja, killed a child named Taha Ayoub Aelchortani and left two more injured with his bombings, bombed homes in Falluja, Ramadi's hospital has received 200 dead or wounded from Nouri's bombings and Falluja has received 150 dead or wounded.  Omar al-Jaffal (Al-Monitor) reports:

    Meanwhile, the head of the tribal council in Anbar, Abdul Rahman al-Zobaie from Ramadi, told Al-Monitor, “The army ought to stop the indiscriminate shelling of civilian houses.” He noted, “This has killed and injured hundreds of civilians and destroyed a large number of houses. The government of Anbar ought to expedite measures to meet the needs of the affected families.” 
    Zobaie said, “Local police forces are deployed at the entrance of the city, and checkpoints have been established in all areas in Fallujah, [and are] working on protecting the governmental institutions with the support of the tribes. There are no members affiliated with the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham [ISIS] as propagated by some politicians and the government of Anbar.” 
    He added, “The government of Fallujah, with all its tribal sheikhs and dignitaries, are demanding that the central government and the armed forces stop the indiscriminate shelling of residential areas and withdraw the armed forces, as the [local] police are the only party responsible for managing the crisis.”

    Now for, January 18th:

     Cheng Yang (Xinhua) adds of Falluja, "The city has no electricity for several days as large parts of the electric power grid were destroyed by the bombings, the source added." 

    January 19th:

    Nouri's military has resumed bombing in Falluja and Nouri's military helicopters resumed bombing of Falluja and Ramadi as Nouri's assault on Anbar continues.   NINA reports, "The city of Fallujah has seen this morning major displacement, not seen since the start of military operations since more than two weeks because of the intensification of indiscriminate shelling by the army forces stationed on the highway outside the city."

    January 21st:

    The assault on Anbar continues.  Kareem Fahim and Yasir Ghazi (New York Times) report, "Thousands of residents have fled Falluja in recent days, fearing worsening violence after the failure of negotiations between local leaders and jihadist militants to end a standoff that has lasted weeks, leaders from the city said Monday." AFP reports 22,000 families have been forced to flee their homes due to the Anbar operations and they note, "The UN said the actual figure was likely to be higher, as not all those who fled had registered. It said of those who had left, most had found refuge elsewhere in Anbar, but some had gone as far afield as the northern Kurdish region."   UPI adds, "Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is having a tough time trying to dislodge al-Qaida forces who hold much of the western cities of Fallujah and Ramadi because his army doesn't seem to be up to the task, despite emergency shipments of U.S. arms."

    NINA reports today:

    Security source announced on Tuesday the continuation of the displacement of hundreds of families in several neighborhoods of Fallujah as a result of the shelling of the city by the army.
    A security source in Anbar, told / NINA / that hundreds of families fled the city of Fallujah, because of the artillery intense shelling that led to the killing and wounding of many civilians.

    And they note that among the Falluja shelling targets today was a school.  Steve Inskeep (NPR's Morning Edition -- link is audio and text) spoke with AFP's Prashant Rao this morning about the violence.

    RAO: In terms of how the government is responding though, it varies depending on the area. In Baghdad, they have locked out a lot of areas. They've sort of increased checkpoints and they've sort of tighten those checkpoints. But in Anbar, the response have been a combination of the deploying of U.S.- supplied Hellfire missiles and also clashes in some towns in between Ramadi and Fallujah, where the Iraqi army and Iraqi police, allied tribal fighters are all looking to take back territory that the government lost about three weeks ago.

    From January 23rd:

    the Iraqi military's shelling of Falluja left 2 civilians dead and ten more injured ("including women and children")

    From Janaury 24th:

    National Iraqi News Agency reports that the Iraqi military's mortar shelling last night left 4 people dead and 32 more injured "including women and children" and today's military shelling of Falluja left 5 people dead and 14 more injured -- "most of them women and children."   Collective punishment is what Nouri's pursuing.  If you doubt that:  Iraqi Spring MC notes that Nouri's army shelled Falluja General Hospital.

    From January 25th:

     Alsumaria quotes medical sources who explain that the residential neighborhoods in Falluja are being targeted and that many citizens are being killed and injured.  It's so bad that even Abu Risha called today for the bombing of Falluja to stop. NINA reports that the military's shelling left three people injured in Ramadi in one incident, another incident of the Iraqi military shelling Ramadi with mortars left 3 civilians dead and five more injured,  the military's shelling on Falluja left 3 civilians dead and eleven more injured and a second military shelling on Fallua left 3 civilians dead and six more injured.

    From January 27th:

    NINA notes that "hundreds" continue to flee Falluja as military helicopters continue to bomb Falluja and Ramadi which today left 8 civilians dead and thirty-nine more injured.  Dar Addustour reports that multiple cities in Anbar have been placed under curfew.

    From January 28th:

    Mohammad Sabah (Al Mada) reports that the MPs stressed today in the Iraqi Parliament that there is no "military solution" to Anbar, there is only a "political solution."  They noted that the use of the military had only increased tensions and inflamed the crisis   NINA reports security sources tell them seven civilians were wounded in the military bombing of Falluja today.

    From January 30th:

    احد الجرحى الذين اصيبوا اليوم بسبب القصف المتعمد من قبل مليشيات المالكي التي تستهدف الاحياء السكنية في ،

    That's one of Nouri's victims today --  injured by his forces shelling Falluja.  NINA reports that hospitals have received 141 civilians have been killed in Ramadi and Falluja alone this month with another 509 injured and:  "He added that this can not be considered as final number because there are dead and wounded in areas which could not be moved to the hospital."  Through yesterday, Iraq Body Count counts 1037 violent deaths in Iraq so far this month.  It's doubtful many counts will include the 141 civilians killed by the bombings and shellings from Nouri's forces.  NINA also notes military shelling left 3 civilians dead in Ramadi with eight more injured

    From February 7th:

    National Iraqi News Agency reports Falluja General Hospital received 5 dead and twenty-injured people as a result of Nouri's shelling of the city (the dead and wounded included children and women),  

    From February 10th:

    Falluja General Hospital was again shelled (by Iraqi military) and 1 person was killed with fourteen more left injured ("including a doctor and three nurses"),

    From February 11th:

    shellings left 5 people dead and thirty-one injured in Falluja, a mortar attack on Falluja Educational Hospital left one doctor injured,

    From February 12th:

    NINA notes Iraqiya MP Leaq Wardi stated, "The continuation of indiscriminate shelling and concentrated, the past few days, on the health institutions, especially the Falluja General Hospital, confirms the existence of a deliberate intention not to resolve the crisis, despite the announcement of continuous initiatives to solve the crisis." [. . .]   military shelling in Falluja left 3 civilians dead and seven more injured,

    And let's really emphasize this:

    A security source told the reporter of the National Iraqi News Agency / NINA / that"a number of artillery shells of army forces stationed outside the city fell on the building of Fallujah hospital, wounding / 9 / workers, including / 3 / Indian doctors and two nurses from Bangladesh as well as four Iraqi employees. "

    These are War Crimes.  You are not allowed to target hospitals.

    Alsumaria notes a family of 6 in Falluja are dead from a shelling.

    NINA explains:

    5 civilians have been killed and ten others injured on Sunday 23, Feb as a result of the bombing of military forces to Fallujah despite the decision to suspend military operations for three days .
    A security source told the reporter of the National Iraqi News Agency / NINA / "The army forces stationed outside the city of Fallujah pounded, with heavy artillery and tanks, Fallujah despite the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces' decision yesterday to stop military operations in Fallujah for / 3 / days ."
    He added, "The bombing killed five civilians and wounded / 10 / others , including 3 children ."

    Military bombing in Falluja today left three civilians injured.  

    From February 25th:

    NINA reports 5 civilians were left injured by the military's bombing of Falljua's residential neighborhoods of Jubail Nazal and al-Sinaei while the military's bombing of western Falluja left 1 woman dead and three members of her family injured in Albu Alwan Village.

    From February 26th:

    Nouri's military shelling of Falluja left five family members ("including two children") injured,

    From February 28th:

    NINA notes Nouri's forces have walled off Falluja with dirt and one of their mortar attacks today -- during the supposed 'truce' and 'cease-fire' -- left two children and two adults injured when the mortars hit their home.

    From March 1st:

    If the military's shelling of western Falluja (Nassaf Village) today left three civilians injured, there is no cease-fire.
    If another Falluja shelling leaves 1 child dead and nine people injured, there's no cease-fire.

    From March 2nd:

    NINA notes Nouri's military shelled Falluja Sunday evening leaving eight civilians injured,

    From March 3rd:

    Today, Anadolu Agency reports:

    Four Iraqis have been killed in an airstrike that targeted a passenger vehicle in the western city of Fallujah, a tribal source said Monday.
    "The aircraft shelled a vehicle carrying ten people in the city," the source told Anadolu Agency."

    And in another incident today, NINA notes Nouri's shelling of residential areas in Falluja left ten people injured -- including three children.

    From March 5th:

    NINA reports the military's bombing of Falluja left 4 civilians ("including a child") dead and seven more injured.  And the military's airstrike in Ramadi left a man and a woman dead and three more in their "civilian car" injured.

    From March 6th:

    Under the guise of fighting 'terrorism,' Nouri continues to kill Iraqis.  National Iraqi News Agency reports Nouri's military shelled  al-Jughaifi, al-Shuhada and al-Asakari neighborhoods in Falluja leaving 4 civilians dead and twelve more injured (three of the injured were children).  Another round of shelling left 1 civilian dead and twelve more injured.

    From March 8th:

    That wasn't the only way Nouri celebrated International Women's Day in Iraq.  No, he had his military again shell residential areas in Falluja leading to the death of 1 woman and 1 child with six more people ("including two young girls") being left injured.

    From March 9th:

    Collective punishment is defined as a War Crime and Nouri excels at War Crimes.  So today, his indiscriminate shelling of Falluja residential neighborhoods left 6 people dead and seventeen injured.

    From March 12th:

    As his assault on Anbar Province continues, so do Nouri al-Maliki's War Crimes.  The thug and prime minister of Iraq continues to resort to the crime of collective punishment.  Today that means his military shelling of Falluja residential neighborhoods today left 1 child dead, two children injured, one woman injured and one man injured.

    From March 14th:

      National Iraqi News Agency notes that the military shelled a residential neighborhood in Rawa killing 1 person and injuring three members "from the same family."  Nouri also ordered bombings in Falluja's residential neighborhoods and 1 adult and 1 child were killed while another child, a woman and five males were left injured.  Civilians are targeted, hunted and killed in Nouri's Iraq.

    From March 15th:

      Alsumaria reports the latest numbers from Falluja General Hosipital are that Nouri's shelling of the city has left at least 131 people dead and 752 more injured and that the victims have mainly been children, women and the elderly.  Mu Xuequan (Xinhua) reports 1 "civilian killed and seven others injured" in Falluja as a result of the military bombing residential neighborhoods.

    From March 17th:

    Moving to violent deaths, Nouri's bombing of Falluja's residential neighborhood today have killed 1 child and 1 woman while leaving five more family members injured and a military bombing in Anbar last night left four civilians injured.

    From March 18th:

    In addition, Nouri's bombing of Falluja's residential neighborhoods left 1 civilian dead, two adults injured and two children injured.

    From March 20th:

     NINA reports the military shelling of residential neighborhoods in Falluja left ten civilians ("including three children") injured. 

    Also on March 20th, Betty noted a second shelling:  "15 civilians died and forty more were injured on Thursday in Falluja due to Nouri's mortar attacks and bombings of residential neighborhoods."

    From March 21st:

    NINA reports that Nouri's bombing of residential neighborhoods in Falluja today left 3 civilians dead and eleven more injured.

    From March 22nd:

    Nouri continues committing the War Crime of collective punishment and his shelling of residential neighborhoods in Falluja left five civilians injured today.

    From March 24th:

    Nouri's continued assault on Anbar, specifically his bombing of residential neighborhoods, left 2 women dead and two children injured

    From March 25th:

    In addition, Nouri's continued assault on Anbar continues.  His shelling of residential neighborhoods in Fallujah today has left 6 civilians dead and ten injured (the injured include two children).

    From March 26th:

    NINA reports the military's shelling targeting Falluja not only left five people injured but also set afire a power plant -- burning over 50% of the plant.
    From March 28th:

    Doubt the victims of Nouri's shelling of Falluja residential neighborhoods with have a "Happy Friday!" either.  NINA notes 2 civilians are dead and thirty-nine injured from today's shelling.

    From April 1st:

    Nouri continues attacking civilians in Falluja. Anadolu Agency reports, "At least eight civilians were killed and 16 others injured in Iraqi army shelling of Fallujah in the western Anbar province, a medical official said."

    From April 4th:

    NINA notes the military's continued shelling of residential neighborhoods in Falluja -- this happens every day, this bombing -- has left 6 civilians dead and nine more injured.

    From April 5th:

    Nouri's assault on the civilians of Anbar continues.  NINA noted early Saturday that the military's bombing of Falluja neighborhoods had left 1 civilian dead and nine more injured and then, later in the day, 2 more civilians were killed and six more were injured.

    From April 6th:

     NINA reports that a hospital in Falluja has been shelled by the military. The hospital isn't identified.  In the past. Falluja General Hospital and Falluja Teaching Hospital have both been shelled.  Nouri also continued the shelling of Falluja's residential neighborhoods and five civilians were injured.

    From April 7th:

    Yang Lina (Xinhua) reports the latest outcome of the Iraqi military shelling residential neighborhoods in Anbar:

    Separately, artillery and mortar shelling on several neighborhoods in the besieged city of Fallujah left a civilian killed and nine others wounded, a medical source from the city hospital said.
    Meanwhile, several mortar rounds landed on the town of Garma near Fallujah, damaging several houses and wounding four civilians, including a child, a local police source said.

    From April 8th:

    After all, today NINA reports, "23 civilians killed and wounded due to the resumption of indiscriminate shelling by army forces of the residential neighborhoods of Fallujah city today."  Five dead -- including one child -- and eighteen injured.  And when does the world call out Nouri's assault on the civilians of Anbar?  Every day brings news of more people in Falluja killed and wounded by Nouri's bombing of residential neighborhoods.  This is a War Crime.  Sometimes, as over the weekend, it also includes bombing of hospitals in Falluja.  War Crimes as well.  But the same White House that wants to convince you that Putin is 'evil' but they really, really care about human rights?  That same White House is arming Nouri al-Maliki and looking the other way as he terrorizes the people.   Anadolu Agency quotes Falluja General Hospital spokesperson calling today's shelling "the most violent."  Iraqi Spring MC reports that the military is also shelling residential areas in Abu Ghraib's Khudayr Zawbaa Village.

    From April 9th:

     NINA reports his bombing of residential neighborhoods in Falluja today killed 7 civilians and left twenty injured.  In an update, Alsumaria notes the tolls increased:  9 dead and twenty-three injured. War Crimes. 

    From April 10th:

    National Iraqi News Agency reports 5 civilians ("including a child") died from the bombings with fourteen more injured.  Meanwhile, Nouri's ordered the same bombings in Ramadi and NINA reports people are fleeing their homes, being rendered refugees, as a result.

    From April 11th:

     Alsumaria reports three children were wounded in the bombing of the residential areas of Falluja and 3 more children were killed.

    From April 12th:

     NINA reports 3 civilians were killed and nine ("including two women and a child") were left injured.

    From April 13th:

    NINA reports Nouri's continued shelling of the residential neighborhoods in Falluja left 5 people dead (including one child) and eighteen people injured.  NINA reports that.

    From April 14th:

     In his latest bombing of Falluja residential neighborhoods,  NINA reports, 2 women have been killed and two children badly wounded. These are War Crimes and not only has the US government provided the weapons for Nouri to kill civilians, they're also training and advising on how.  World Tribune reports, "Officials said U.S. advisers were training and mentoring Iraqi SOF units in the war in Anbar. The officials said the advisers were training the Iraqis in urban warfare, counter-insurgency techniques, bomb detection and coordinated helicopter assaults."

    From April 15th:

    National Iraqi News Agency reports his shelling of Falluja's residential neighborhood have left 7 civilians dead today and seventeen injured.

    Does is start to overwhelm?

    Do you see how long this has been going on?  These are War Crimes and the White House pretends to give a damn about the Ukraine in yet another pissing match while they're the ones arming Nouri.

    I don't want to hear any more crap about Bully Boy Bush from Americans who can't call out the above murders.  The US has had months to get it together enough to respond.  No one in Congress has called it out.  No leading figure of the left has called it out.

    In the US, there's not even serious coverage of this issue.

    There's been plenty of time.

    It's April, it's been going on since January.

    Where's the concern?  Where's the dismay?

    In the months that these War Crimes have taken place, US talking heads and gas bags have found time to pontificate about Bully Boy Bush this and Dick Cheney that but they haven't had the spine, courage or guts to call out what's going on right now.

    I don't give a damn about their electoral choices or  other partisan crap.

    And clearly they don't give a damn about humanity or what happens in Iraq.

    Iraq matters to them then and now only as a political football.

    Today the BRussells Tribunal kicked off their two-day Towards Accountability and Justice for Iraq Commission  Among the notable participants are Dirk Adriaensens, Michael Chossudovsky,  Dahr Jamail, Mike Powers, Haifa Zangana, Sabah Al Mukhtar,  Ross Caputi, Eman Khamas, Lindsey German and Niloufer Bhagwat.   The commission continues its work tomorrow.  Also tomorrow, the Dubai International Peace Convention takes place.

    Dubai Internation Peace Convention
17-18-19 April 2014
    Speakers at the Conference
    Sheikh Mishary Al Afasy -
Dr Zakir naik - Yusuf Estes - Mufti Ismail Menk - Nouman Ali Khan -Tawfique
Chowdhury - Muhammad Salah

    In other violence, National Iraqi News Agency reports Baghdad Operations Command announced they killed 4 suspects, a battle in Shura left 2 rebels dead, five homes being built in Khanaqin left two people injured, 1 person was shot dead in Sha'ab, a bombing in Hammam al-Alil left 1 military captain and 1 soldier dead with two more injured, a Sab'a Bour roadside bombing left 2 people dead and nine others injured, a battle at a Ramadi police station left 12 rebels dead, 3 suspects were shot dead by security forces in Tahrir, an attack on a Haouz checkpoint left 4 Sahwa and police dead and six more injured, security forces killed 8 suspects in Babil Province, and an attack on Colonel Salman Mohammed Sheet's car in Mosul left him and his son injured. All Iraq News notes 1 traffic police member was shot dead "north of Mosul city," 2 Ramadi "suicide bombers detonated their car bombs near Ahmed Abu Risha's house," 1 butcher and 1 shop owner were shot dead in Basra, and 2 corpses were discovered dumped "to the north of Salah-il-Din province."  Alsumaria notes that 2 suicide bombers attacked Anbar Operations Command leaving 2 soldiers dead and two more injured as well as three members of the police injured.  Xinhua updates that toll, "The blasts killed five soldiers and three policemen, and wounded seven others, the source said."

    Still on violence,  Qassim Abdul-Zahra (AP) writes, "An Iraqi Justice Ministry official said Wednesday that this week's closure of the infamous Abu Ghraib prison west of Baghdad is temporary and that it will be reopened once the security situation in the surrounding area is stable."

    So which is it?  It's temporary or it's until the security is stable -- because those are two different things.

    lastly, it's award season all over again.  Monday, the Pulitzers were announced and Jane Arraf won The Quil Lawrence Award.  Iraq has come in first in a poll.  It would be a proud moment for Nouri if the poll were a good thing.

    The Committee to Protect Journalist has released its "Impunity Index" and Iraq tops the list:

    With 100 journalists murdered in the last decade and 100 percent impunity, Iraq is the worst offender on the Impunity Index, a spot it has held since 2008, when CPJ first compiled the index. Nine new murders in late 2013 amid a resurgence of militant groups broke a two-year quiescence in fatal anti-press violence. Three of the victims, plus two media workers, were killed in a single attack when armed militants bombed and stormed Salaheddin TV station in Tikrit on December 23. Al-Qaeda affiliate Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS) claimed responsibility for the attack, according to news reports accusing it of warring against the Sunni people.
    Impunity Index Rating: 3.067 unsolved journalist murders per million inhabitants
    Last year: Ranked 1st with a rating of 2.818

    For the second year in a row, Nouri's Iraq has come in number one when it comes to getting away with murdering a journalist.