Sunday, Jess' "Consumer scams (Jess)" went up and I enjoyed it and think you will as well. If you go to the FTC link for the press release for a conference that was to take place today, you will find video of the conference and, if I'd known that, I might not have attended! (Seriously, I'm glad I attended in person).
I don't know about you but I find it disgusting -- truly disgusting -- that people are preying on the unemployed and under-employed with job scams. The FTC, for those who don't know, is the Federal Trade Commission. I'll note this at the top before getting into the conference:
To help consumers avoid being conned by employment scams, the FTC has produced a new consumer education video in English and Spanish. Still shots from the Web sites of some of the operators charged in this law enforcement sweep, as well as video footage of FTC Consumer Protection Director Vladeck, and Monica Vaca, an Assistant Director in the FTC’s Division of Marketing Practices, will also be available. To view them, go ftc.gov/jobscams and youtube.com/ftcvideos. For access to higher resolution versions, visit aperturefilms.com/ftc or contact the FTC’s Office of Public Affairs.
The Director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection, David Vladeck, explained at the start, "Today we are announcing Operation Bottom Dollar, a joint federal-state crackdown on scammers who see the tens of millions Americans who are out of work or who are under-employed as a lucrative pool of potential victims to prey upon. Their false promises of guaranteed employment and a steady income are particularly noxious. They're tricking job seekers into parting with their last dollars. With so many American families fighting to get back on firm financial footing, our goal is to stop these crooks in their tracks."
Cathy Wilburn is from Texas and she was present at the conference (present as opposed to a video link). She explained what happened to her:
In June of 2009, I saw a classified ad in the classified section of the Dallas Morning News for production workers, fork lift drivers, warehouse work. The ad stated 'Jobs starting anywhere from $14 to $19 an hour, plus benefits.' I called the number listed and talked with a representative from Career Hotline. She told me that Career Hotline worked with Fortune 500 companies to place employees in full time positions. She told me that Career Hotline had jobs available and she guaranteed I'd be working within 14 days. She told me there was a one-time placement fee of $89 and, because she promised to find me a job, I decided to borrow this money and pay this fee. I asked her where Career Hotline was located and she told me it was a nation-wide company. She told me not to worry, that there were plenty of jobs available in my area. The representative told me I needed to pay the one-time placement fee of $89 and give her my information from my checking account. I told her I'd rather send her a check. She told me the phone check would be quicker and it meant I'd be employed sooner. Because she guaranteed to find me a job and because I was eager to begin working, I gave her my account information. She also told me to fax my resume to Career Hotline and I did that. On Friday, June the 12th, I received a call from Career Hotline saying that my bank refused to release the $89 and told me to mail them a check immediately. She asked me to call and confirm that the check was in the mail. Later that day, I called them to confirm that I had mailed the check and I needed to see if they had received my resume. I reached a recording and left my name and number. No one returned my call. I became concerned that they had not received my resume, so I faxed them another one. The next week, I called Career Hotline, all three telephone numbers that I had, every day. Each time I called, I reached a recording. I always left my name and number but still no one returned my call. On June the 20th, 2009, I received a statement from my bank showing that my account had been overdrawn. Career Hotline not only cashed the check I mailed them, they debited my account also. So they got the $89 twice. I called Career Hotline to try to fix this mess but no one returned my call. I began to suspect that they were recognizing my number from their caller i.d. so I tried from five different cell phones. On my last message, I asked them that I could not afford to lose this money especially because I had been unemployed for so long -- that they needed to refund my money. On June 25, I filed a complaint about Career Hotline with the the Better Business Bureau seeking their help getting a refund. I never did get a refund. But I'm here today because I don't want this to happen to anybody else. People are desperate for work but you've got people out there looking to take advantage.
Again, you have to be pretty sick to prey on those who are already suffering.
They announced 7 cases in which they filed charges today (and this is from the press release):
Government Careers Inc. and three principals preyed on job seekers since at least March 2009 by running deceptive ads on job Web sites. Government Careers claimed it could help people get postal, border patrol, and wildlife jobs as well as administrative support and clerical positions with the federal government. It told people they could get these jobs if they paid $119 for study materials, which would allow them to pass any required test with a score of 95 percent or better. But according to the FTC complaint, those who paid the fee found that there are no exams for the positions they sought, or that the supposed job vacancies did not exist. The company also hawked career counseling services, charging $965 for services like resume editing and employment exam preparation. Although the defendants said that consumers would not have to pay the fee until they got a government job, the defendants demanded payment before consumers obtained the promised jobs. The Arizona Attorney General’s Office is the FTC’s co-plaintiff in this case, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona. After the court issued a temporary restraining order, the defendants agreed to an interim order that prohibits any alleged misconduct pending resolution of the case.
Real Wealth, Inc. and its principal allegedly conned more than 100,000 people by selling them booklets that supposedly explained how they could earn money by applying for government grants and working from home mailing postcards and envelopes. Using direct mail campaigns that sometimes targeted the elderly and disabled, Real Wealth lured consumers, according to the FTC complaint, with deceptive solicitations such as “Collect up to $9,250 with my simple 3 minute form” or “All I do is mail 30 postcards everyday and I make an extra $350 a week!” Real Wealth also claimed that consumers could “rake in up to $1,500+ per week or more in solid cash” by learning “secrets” about the “$700 billion banking industry bailout.” This case was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri. After the court issued a temporary restraining order, the defendants agreed to an interim order that prohibits any alleged misconduct pending resolution of the case.
Darling Angel Pin Creations and two principals allegedly claimed on the Internet and in newspaper advertisements that by purchasing a starter kit, consumers could earn up to $500 per week assembling angel pins, and that no experience, special tools, or sewing skills were required. Consumers paid between $22 and $45 to get started, and sometimes paid hundreds more for the supplies they would need to make the pins. However, according to the FTC’s complaint, there was a catch: Consumers were required to have one of their assembled angel pins approved by the company before they could make any money – but the company rejected nearly all the angel pins consumers submitted, no matter how well-made. The FTC charged that the defendants made false and baseless claims that consumers could earn substantial income from angel pin assembly, when in fact they could not. This case was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Tampa Division. After the court issued a temporary restraining order, the court issued interim orders with regard to all the defendants in the case prohibiting further misconduct.
Abili-Staff, Ltd., two principals, and a related entity sold supposed work-at-home opportunities online. Billing itself as a “scam free” and “legitimate” job search service, Abili-Staff sold supposedly pre-screened lists of jobs, telling consumers they could access the lists after paying a fee ranging from $29.98 to $89.99, according to the FTC’s complaint. The FTC alleged that defendants falsely told consumers they would have unlimited access to more than 1,000 work-at-home job listings, and that they would get their money back if they did not get a job. This case was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, San Antonio Division. The court issued a temporary restraining order pending a preliminary injunction hearing held February 16-17, 2010.
Entertainment Work, Inc. and two principals marketed memberships in a Web site that was supposed to list jobs as movie extras, jobs on television, or jobs in print media. By telemarketing and placing advertisements on Web sites and in newspapers across the country, the defendants sold trial memberships for $19.95 to $24.95, and automatically converted those into annual memberships for an additional fee of $80 after two weeks, according to the FTC complaint. The FTC charged that Entertainment Work deceptively claimed consumers would find entertainment and media jobs near where they lived, without regard to their experience, skills, or appearance. The complaint also charged that the company failed to disclose that to cancel their membership, people would have to pay an additional fee or undertake a burdensome process. This case was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida. The defendants have agreed to an interim court order that immediately halts the alleged misconduct.
Independent Marketing Exchange, Inc. and its principal allegedly made false earnings claims, and additional misrepresentations in the course of selling a smorgasbord of work-at-home opportunities, including an envelope mailing opportunity, a postcard mailing opportunity, and a mystery shopper opportunity. Their deceptive practices have injured numerous consumers, including stay-at-home and single mothers. The FTC’s complaint alleged that the defendants falsely represented to consumers that they could make substantial amounts of money. The case was filed in the U.S. District Court in the District of New Jersey. After the court issued a temporary restraining order, the defendants agreed to an interim order pending a further hearing.
Preferred Platinum Services Network and the husband-and-wife team who owned and operated it allegedly marketed a work-from-home scheme in which consumers were told they could earn significant sums by labeling postcards describing a non-existent product promoted by Preferred Platinum called “mortgage accelerator.” Advertised in local pennysavers and newspaper classified sections, and at the defendants’ Web site, the scheme touted earnings of up to $1 per postcard, as well as a 60-day money-back guarantee. Consumers paid an enrollment fee of $80 to $90, and they typically did not learn until later that they would have to pay $40 more for each additional batch of 100 postcards, according to the FTC complaint. At the same time this matter was filed, criminal authorities executed search warrants on the business and arrested the husband-and-wife team, charging each of them with one count of mail fraud. This case was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey. The court issued a temporary restraining order, followed by a preliminary injunction on February 16, 2010. Both individual defendants also have been indicted by a grand jury.
So there you go. And talk about Operation Bottom Dollar with your family and friends. Cathy Wilburn's a smart woman. Any of us can be tricked. That's especially true if we're suffering in the bad economy. So be sure to talk about it now when it can make a difference as opposed to when your best friend says, "You won't believe it! I just got ripped off!" Then you can say, "Oh, I know all about that!" But what you'll be thinking is, "Why didn't I say something sooner?"
I was glad to be in DC. (With my grandchild.) It's not a huge journey from Boston and I'm staying at C.I.'s new place so it's a real treat. I read Jess' article and didn't realize it would be a webcast option (the conference). Reading his article, I thought, "This is so wonderful and so important." And I asked him if he was okay with my grabbing the conference itself (I didn't know if he was planning on grabbing it this Sunday). He was and C.I. said, "Stay at my place." So there was no excuse not to go.
This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for Wednesday:
Wednesday, February 17, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, KETK 56 is the DUMBEST TV station in the land and home to the BIGGEST LIARS as well, campaign charges/attacks fly (including 'Joe Biden is a Ba'athist!'), Last-Of-Iraqi's Dr. Mohammed and his family are granted asylum in the US, and more.
Every now and then we hear how uninformed the US public allegedly is. And a lot of gas bags snicker as if the people just decided to be mistaken or wrong. The Iraq War was sold with lies. That is George W. Bush, yes, but that is also the media. And for those who've forgotten just how bad the lies are, KETK decided to let the world know what a LIAR really looks like this morning. KETK carries NBC programming to the Tyler and Longview area in East Texas (I believe that's Smith and Greg counties). If you're able to stream, you need to do so. If not, you'll have to take my word for it. The segment allegedly poses the question: "Has the war in Iraq been worth it?" But no sooner is that question asked, word for word, then the very ugly -- Texas can't get people on with full heads of hair? -- he's overweight, he's ugly and this is what people have to wake up to in the morning? -- Bob Brackeen jumps in to add, "Uh-uh, you know perhaps people could see -- say that about previous wars? Perhaps people even say that about WWII -- the-the defeat of Nazi Germany?" You really need to stream to get his pompous and dismissive attitude. This from an ugly man wearing an ugly tie in a suit jacket that looks like it came from Goodwill and is several sizes too large for him. But that's just the outer layer of ugly. Bobby Brackeen tosses to conservative talk radio's Garth Maier who insists that this was more than expected -- this illegal war -- by politicians, generals and citizens. Uh, no, asshole, some of us never bought the cakewalk lie.
Ass Face Maier then goes on to declare that, "To date, there have been more than 4,300 US soldiers killed in the Iraq War, we're not including Afghanistan." Two things first off. "Soldiers"? Those in the army gladly cop to that term. Is Ass Face Maier unaware that other branches feel differently and that's why the terms "troops" and "service members" are more often used? Second, more than 4,300? You're in charge of what passes for 'news' at your Hannity-Savage-Limbaugh-Beck station and you know you're going on TV and you know what the topic is and you write your own copy but you're too damn lazy to know the death toll? Is that it? 4376 was the toll this morning. I'm sorry if that's just too damn much work for you who helped cheer lead the country into the illegal war. I'm not surprised it's too much work for you because those of you cheering the loudest were of course the laziest when it came to action though your mouths were world athletes -- often placing first and second in the Liar Olympics. And for those who watch the full segment, you'll catch him say it's more than 4,300 at the start of the segment and, near the end, say that the count is 4,300.
And if you doubt it, when Ass Face is talking about how the war's not what was expected and going on about 4300? During all of that, KETK, channel 56, is showing what footage? The Twin Towers with the smoke. The Pentagon after it's hit. Yes, they're showing 9-11. Why? Iraq had nothing to do with 9-11. The hijackers of the planes weren't Iraqis. George W. Bush repeatedly made the false link to 9-11, remember?
In October 2002, the Council on Foreign Relations and PEW conducted a poll. Lee Feinstein wrote up the results, "The Pew results indicate that the imputation of an Iraq-9/11 link strongly resonates with a majority of Americans, even though most analysts inside and outside government have disputed the suggestion of a direct link, and earlier suggestions by administration officials asserting such a link have been muted. Two-thirds of those surveyed (66%) say they believe 'Saddam Hussein helped the terrorists in the September 11 attacks'." Dana Milbank and Claudia Deane (Washington Post) reported
in September 2003, "Nearing the second anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, seven in 10 Americans continue to believe that Iraq's Saddam Hussein had a role in the attacks, even though the Bush administration and congressional investigators say they have no evidence of this."
In March of 2003, the always idiotic Tom Zeller (New York Times) was having 'fun' at the public's expense and comparing it Jay Leno's interviews of people (people, PIg Zeller) on the street when noting that people wrongly believed there was a link between Iraq and 9-11. He insists this view "was widespread from teh beginning". Really? Widespred how? The public just decided to believe that? No the Bush administration and the media sold that LIE. The New York Times, in particular, sold that lie with the first front page story -- of any major daily US newspaper -- claiming a link -- that story depended on a source now discredited. Tom Zeller and the Times are happy to laugh at people, they're just not willing to correct their errors and own up to their role. In June of 2004, the 9-11 Commission released a finding. Dan Eggen (Washington Post) reported, "There is 'no credible evidence' that Saddam Hussein's government in Iraq collaborated with the al Qaeda terrorist network on any attacks on the United States, according to a new staff report released this morning by the commission investigating the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks." Eggan notes that Dick Cheney and George Bush had pushed a link -- a non-existant link. October 6, 2004, speaking to Margaret Warner on PBS' NewsHour (link has text, audio and video options), Daniel Benjamin talked about how the Bush administration pushed the false linkage:
I think the administration pursued a well thought out strategy of associating the two at virtually every opportunity. There was a reason why 70 percent of the American people believed that Saddam Hussein was involved in 9/11, and that is because the administration time after time put the two of them together in the same framework. Look, long after the CIA and the FBI had knocked down the story of Mohamed Atta meeting with an Iraqi agent in Prague, the vice president was peddling the story over and over again. And that's just one of many different instances of this kind of association. I think that when the vice president says that he never said that they were connected or never involved in 9/11, he is technically correct but in a way that not even a trial lawyer would find serious.
Now we could stay with this topic for the full snapshot. We could offer the BBC's coverage. We could offer any number of sources. But the media LIED about the link for years. And now when the media wants to be trusted, you've still got LIARS pimping this. Grasp that this isn't Fox "News." This is an NBC affilliate. This station serves at least two counties, two big cities (Longview and Tyler) and multiple towns (Chandler, Kilgore, Jacksonville, Marshall, etc.). And they're LYING. They're trotting back out the never-existed, long ago proven wrong link between Iraq and 9-11 and they're doing that by talking about Iraq while showing footage -- not a second, not even just a few seconds. The segment is less than seven minutes long but over 129 seconds -- two minutes and nine seconds -- is devoted to showing footage of the Twin Towers and the Pentagon.
Garth Maier is a sad, sad man. At one point, playing calls, he is, eyes filled with 'regret' and, he says, surprised that so many calling in say the Iraq War wasn't worth it and, watch the screen, you know what's about to play. Yes, they immediately roll the footage of the plume smoke coming off the Twin Towers. And they just can't stop lying. Here he is:
Remember, the uh, the uh statement of President Bush, US forces entered Iraq looking for Weapons of Mass Destruction and they believed it was a strong hold for al Qaeda terrorists and what not. So that's the reason the US invasion began in the first place and, of course, Saddam Hussein would not open up to complete inspectors completelyuh to find -- to- to investigate his facilities, to see if he was involved in Weapons of Mass Destruction.
These are lies that were told and, pay attention, they're the lies still being told. All this time later. So all the beggars of Panhandle Media (that would be so-called 'independent' media, so called 'alternative' media in the US) who couldn't make time for Iraq or for the Iraq Inquiry, grasp that all your usual b.s. didn't do a damn thing. You never accomplish a damn thing and the reason is that the other side stays on it. The other side never lets go. That's not a surprise to any of us who have lived through all the revisionary attempts on Vietnam. It shouldn't be a surprise to Panhandle Media. The Iraq War is not over, the attempts of revisionary history on it continue. It is an assault on humanity and on facts, but you go spend your two worthless weeks at the Sundance Film Festival and offers us a lot of bad interviews with bad film makers and pretend like you accomplished something, self-stroke again. In the real world, they're still selling this illegal war and you aren't doing a damn thing to stop it.
For the record, inspectors were let in. They were not allowed to complete their inspections -- that wasn't Hussein's fault, that was George W. Bush's fault. Those paying attention to the Inquiry should be aware why Bush did that. And thank you to community member Renee who saw KETK's b.s. and e-mailed the link. A.N.S.W.E.R. and other organizations are sponsoring March 20th marches in DC, San Francisco and Los Angeles. The march is to demand the withdrawal of all US and NATO troops from Iraq and Afghanistan.
From yesterday's snapshot: "Speaking to DC's Institute For the Study of War today by video link, the top US commander in Iraq, Gen Ray Odierno, declared that Chalabi and Ali al-Lami are strongly influenced by the government of Iran and that they meet with senior-level members of the Iranian government regularly. Lara Jakes and Anne Flaherty (AP) report, 'Odierno told an audience in Washington at the Institute for the Study of War that al-Lami "has been involved in various nefarious activities in Iraq for sometime" and called it "disappointing" that he was put in charge of the commission'." Correction to that, Odierno was broadcast online (live) by video link but he was in DC when speaking. That was my mistake, my apologies. From the video (transcript also available at link):
Kimberly Kagan: Elections questions. Elections. Bob.
Robert Dreyfuss: Yeah. Two very quick ones.
Kimberly Kagan: Please introduce yourself.
Robert Dreyfuss: Oh, I'm Bob Dreyfuss with The Nation magazine. One is Ali al-Lami, who was arrested by the U.S. a year and a half ago. And I was wonderinf if you could kind of clear up who this guy is and what his connection to Iran are and why he was arrested and why he was freed. And sort of the related question is, I mean, you seem reluctant to talk about Iran's influence in Iraq. But a lot of people say that the fact that Maliki, you know, didn't cave in or exceed or agree with, whatever you want to do, with the American suggestions about transparency and other things indicates that Iran has a lot more influence as the U.S. drawdown approaches, and the U.S. has a lot less.
Gen Ray Odierno: Yeah. al-Lami is a Sadrist by trade. He was arrested after an operation in Sadr City where both Iraqi security forces, U.S. civilians, and U.S. soldiers were leaving a meeting that they had witht he local government in Sadr City, and their vehicles were attacked with IEDs as they left the meeting. There were some accusations. We had some intelligence that said that al-Lami was the one who directed these attacks on these individuals. He was released in August of '09 as part of the drawdown of our detention facilities because we did not have the acutal prosecutorial evidence in order to bring him in front of a court of law in Iraq. All we had was intelligence that linked him to this attack. So, as we had some others, we had to release him. He has been involved in very nefarious activities in Iraq for some time. It is disappointing that somebody like him was in fact put in charge or has been able to run this commission inside of Iraq, in my opinion. He is, him and Chalabi clearly are influence by Iran. We have direct intelligence that tells us that. They've had several meetings in Iran, meeting with a man named Mohandas, which is an ex-council representative member -- still is a council representative member -- who was on the terrorist watch list for a bombing in Kuwait in the 1980s. They are tied to him. He sits at the right-hand side of Quds Force commandant, Qassem Soleimani. And we believe they're absolutely involved in influencing the outcome of the election. And it's concering that they've been able to do that over time. Chalabi, who you know, has been involved in Iraqi politics in many different ways over the last seven years, mostly bad.
Robert Dreyfuss blogged about the exchange this morning at The Nation. Thom Shanker (New York Times) characterizes the conversation and terms Odierno's remarks "unusually blunt". Jason Ditz (Antiwar) offers, "Though the conspiracies may be interesting to speculate about, the truth may be far simpler. Chalabi's political bloc stands to gain considerably with the effective destruction of the rival Allawi bloc, and he hardly needed a foreign dictate to see a political opportunity and take it." Eli Lake (Washington Times) adds, "The Washington Times reported in August that Mr. al-Lami was arrested in 2008 on suspicion that he was a liaison for Mr. Chalabi with an Iranian-backed militia group in Iraq known as the League of Righteous." For those unfamiliar with the League of Righteous, they currently boast of having kidnapped a 60-year-old US contractor, Issa T. Salomi. They kidnapped 5 British citizens in Baghdad and, when Barack Obama's administration entered into negotiations with them, released 3 corpses and 1 hostage alive (Peter Moore was the one alive) after their leaders were released from prison -- al-Lami is thought to have been released as part of that trade. The Obama administration's decision to enter into talks with the group was shocking considering the group also brags of their attack on a US military base in Iraq in which five American soldiers were killed. Tony Rennell (Telegraph of London) provided an adaptation of Mark Urban's new book Task Force Black which notes the League of Righteous.
Related, Leila Fadel (Washington Post) reports on the sectarian violence that is bubbling back up in Iraq (never completely vanished, it is now more visible):The Mashhadani family, which is Sunni, has lived in Hurriyah for 40 years, save two years when family members were forced to flee. They say it's once again time to leave. On Jan. 23, Omar Mashhadani sat on a flimsy mattress in his living room, waiting to watch a soccer game on television. There was a knock at the door. When Omar answered, he was shot at least three times. His brother, Jassim, and his mother, Nadima Taha Yasseen, rushed toward the front door. Omar limped into his brother's arms, the Iraqi flag on his green jersey soaked in blood. No one came to the family's aid. No one helped load Omar into the minibus that took him to the hospital. No men came to pay condolences after he died last month; they were too afraid to openly mourn his death.
Fadel notes that Sunnis are fearful and that slogans are appearing such as "Death to Baathists and Wahhabis" and "Death to Sunnis." The last time Iraq held national elections for Parliament, a number of candidates campaigned by attacking other ethnic groupings and stoking the sectarian tensions. A similar dynamic has emerged in the lead up to the elections scheduled for March 7th. What followed the last elections were two years of ethnic cleansing usually referred to as "the civil war." It's all guess work at this point as to what will follow Nouri and the thugs effort to reinflame sectarian tensions.
And Joe Biden, US Vice President, is accused of being a Ba'athist. Layla Anwar (An Arab Woman Blues) explains, "This is what W. Qanbar, a spokesman for the Iraqi National Alliance (INA), the grouping of the Shiites parties such as Muqtada al-Sadr (the college drop out who recycled himself in drilling), Ammar A-Hakeem (the Shiite playboy and smuggler of the South, head of the notorious Badr Brigades), "Dr" Adel Abdul Mahdi, the so called Phd holder from France, who got his Doctorat from the bistrots of Pigalle, Paris . . . and a few other riffraffs -- all working for Iran . . . This is what Qanbar said on Al-Arabiya TV yesterday . . . he said that Biden was working for the Baathists -- I kid you not."
Hamza Hendawi (AP) reports that political slogans abound in Baghdad and "With three weeks left before a key nationwide vote, Baghdad looks little different from how it did back when the country was on the brink of civil war in 2006 -- divided, gripped by fear and dissected by concrete blast walls." Michael Hastings (The Hatings Report, True/Slant) reports on attacks on the Aharar political party -- Saturday, four were held for 24 hours in Sadr City where they were attempting to put up campaign visuals and Tuesday a group of worker were attacked leading up to today where an Aharar Party candidate was attacked in Maysan Province with at least one body guard killed in the attack. Hastings offers these possible reasons for the repeated assaults:
1)The Ahrar party is headed by a secular Shiite cleric named Jamal Ayad Aldin. Their list is made up of other secular candidates. We've seen the Iraqi government–in its efforts to ban over 500 candidates–target secularlists. The number two man on Ahrar's list, a secular Sunni named General Najeem Said, was in fact banned from running. This might very well be part of a larger effort by the Shiite Islamist government in Baghdad to make life more difficult for secular parties.
2) Jamal Ayad Aldin has been very, very, critical of Iranian influence in Iraq. He's also been getting some favorable TV coverage on Iraqiya, a popular satellite TV channel. So could the Iranians be trying to take out an enemy? Well, just this week top American General Ray Ordierno accused Iran of being behind the election ban, so it's not far fetched that they'd support attacks on their enemies inside Iraq as well.
Violence continues in Iraq and is often related to the campaigns.
Reuters notes a Mosul roadside bombing which left five people injured and, dropping back to yesterday, a Mosul grenade attack that injured a young girl.
Reuters notes 1 Iraqi soldier shot dead in Mosul and 1 Kurdish military member shot dead in Tuz Khurmato.
Reuters notes that the corpse of an Iraqi Christian was discovered in Mosul with gun shot wounds. This is the 4th Iraqi Christian shot dead since Friday, a fifth was wounded in a shooting. Asia News identifies the latest killed as 20-year-old Wissam Georges and notes that he was studying to become a teacher. Jamal al-Badrani, Aseel Kami and Mohammed Abbas (Reuters) observe, "With Iraq's March 7 parliamentary vote looming, a spike in attacks against Christians could be a sign of voter intimidation by factions in the bitter Kurd-Arab dispute, or another attempt by al Qaeda to derail the election." Mujahid Mohammed (AFP) gives the names of the others killed and wounded: Tuesday 21-year-old Zia Toma was shot dead and 22-year-old Ramsin Shmael was wounded, Monday Fatukhi Munir was shot dead and Sunday Rayan Salem Elias was shot dead.
In Iraq, Nibras Kazimi (Talisman Gate) offers, "The De-Ba'athification stunt proved hugely popular for the Iraqi National Alliance (Hakim, Ja'afari, Sadrists, Chalabi), and at least for now, it seems to have galvanized Shias around this slate to Maliki's detriment. Bolani's slate, although very well funded and starring some household names (…or at least those made prominent in the last few years, especially on the Sunni side: Abu Risha, Mashhadani, Ahmad Abdel-Ghaffour al-Samara'i), isn't having much traction. What seems to have stuck to Bolani is the assertion that the hand-held bomb detectors at checkpoints don't really work; the Ministry of Interior is being held responsible. The problem with this accusation is that Iraqis remember it every time they are snarled in traffic due to checkpoints, which is most of the day." Roads to Iraq reports on rumors that Nouri al-Maliki has made a deal with the Kurdistan Regional Government ("Kirkuk in exchange of Support Maliki's second term"). Yesterday's snapshot included: "Fanning those flames was Iraqi MP Baha al-Araji. AFP reports that that MP from Moqtada al-Sadr's political bloc declared 'the majority denomination (the Shiites) was the victim of a plot since Abu Bakr [573-634] until Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr [1912-1982].' Nouri's mouthpiece, ali al-Dabbagh, insisted the statement was outragoues and a violation of Article 7. He then warned it should not happen again." Omar (Iraq The Model) notes that "there were reports that thousands of protesters took to the streets in Diyala and Fallujah demanding that MP and senior member of Sadr movement Bahaa Al-Aaraji be prosecuted under the Justice and Accountability Law" for his remarks.
The Iraq War has created the largest refugee crisis in the world. Counting internal and external refugees, there are over four milliion. The United States has accepted very few Iraqi refugees (but always insists that's going to change . . . soon . . . maybe). Dr. Mohammed (Last-Of-Iraqis) and his family were granted asylum to the US and left Iraq this month. He explains:
After some interviews and CIA checks I have been accepted and given a departure date which was Feb 1st. . . .We went from Baghdad to Amman and stayed there for a night and as usual the Jordanians were jerks and gave us some really hard time, despite that the trip to Jordan was the shortest but it was the hardest!! next day at 10 am we left from Amman heading to NY in a direct flight . . .Thank god for the good reading and searches I have done in which I discovered there are cribs for babies in big airplanes like the ones we were traveling by so I booked a seat in front of the crib and that made the trip much easier . . . after more than 13 hours flight and to be honest it wasn't that hard at all as we expected and Linda (My daughter) behaved better than adults . . . we reached JFK airport and I was surprised for how easy the procedures were comparing to Amman . . . we just finished our papers with the IOM and that took about 2 hours (because we were travelling with a group of 10 families) . . . . .We went from Baghdad to Amman and stayed there for a night and as usual the Jordanians were jerks and gave us some really hard time, despite that the trip to Jordan was the shortest but it was the hardest!! next day at 10 am we left from Amman heading to NY in a direct flight . . . Thank god for the good reading and searches I have done in which I discovered there are cribs for babies in big airplanes like the ones we were traveling by so I booked a seat in front of the crib and that made the trip much easier . . . after more than 13 hours flight and to be honest it wasn't that hard at all as we expected and Linda (My daughter) behaved better than adults . . . . we reached JFK airport and I was surprised for how easy the procedures were comparing to Amman . . . we just finished our papers with the IOM and that took about 2 hours (because we were travelling with a group of 10 families) then we headed to the counters and it was a matter of seconds, just a fingerprint and a photo and that's it! No body search? No interrogation? No hours of waiting? No there was nothing like that, everyone is smiling and welcoming and that was a real push up . . . and there I was, the electric door opened and I was in NY . . . Goooood, what a clean air, what a great weather . . . . the air feels really different, the clean streets, the lights, the cars…everything is different . . . they took us in a bus to the motel which was like a shit hole, it was disgusting and in a very bad neighborhood, I wasn't able to see NY, we stayed in the ugly motel near LaGuardia airport for a night and the next morning we went to the airport and headed to Dallas TX at about 11am and from Dallas we went to Houston TX which is our final destination . . . through these trips I made some impressions about the Americans in general which proved to be right till now, I discovered that they are really nice and smiling to you when you meet their eyes, they are so calm and I like that.
TV notes. NOW on PBS begins airing Friday on most PBS stations (check local listings):
From the raucous tea party rallies to the painful sacrifices families are making behind closed doors, voter angst and anger are sweeping the country like a storm. Directly in its path: the 2010 midterm elections. On February 19 at 8:30 pm (check local listings), NOW examines the strong impact this groundswell has already had on electoral politics, and what we can expect in November. Our investigation uncovers what motivates people who've come together under the tea party banner, and how a larger dissatisfaction among voters spells trouble for incumbents in both parties, some of whom have decided to avert the storm by leaving Congress altogether.
the washington postdana milbank
tom zeller jr.
pbsthe newshourmargaret warner
the nationrobert dreyfuss
the new york timesthom shanker
antiwarjason ditzthe washington timeseli lake
now on pbs