Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Half of Republicans say to Obama: "Show me your papers!"

And Obama did! The short form, the long form, and the Teabaggers want to see more forms! I don't know if Donald Trump is really a racist, but one thing is for sure: Donald Trump is a complete jackass.

Watch Rachel Maddow, who invited Goldie Taylor to read her excellent post “Show me your papers!”

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Also watch coverage by Ed Schultz, who showed Obama's brief but great speech on the matter.

And finally, watch Lawrence O'Donnel take down Orly Taitz, the weirdo who started the birther madness:

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Sectarianism in Mid East "enveloped in denial"

Ah, what a great way to put it.

Amir Madani on Bahrain: 'Human Rights Watch (HRW) accused the regime of creating a "climate of fear," particularly in Shia neighborhoods and villages where nighttime raids appear designed mainly to instill terror among the mostly poor residents.

This is the sense of what is happening in Bahrain, the tiny isle located on the south side of the Persian Gulf where the ruling al-Khalifa from the Sunni minority is threatening the majority Shiite population. Of course there is diversity and ethnic variety in Bahrain, as elsewhere, which extends even into the religious field. Tulin Daloglu, a Turkish journalist based in Washington, writes: "Sectarianism in the Middle East is grievous, pernicious and enveloped in denial."

However, the Bahraini have not taken to the streets for primarily sectarian reasons, but rather to demand democracy and the recognition of civil rights; and, yes, the end of the apartheid system that excludes the majority of the population from full political life and reserves all the levers of power for the minority. As in other Arab countries, the Bahraini have begun pushing their own political and economic demands.'

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

How did Obama get into Harvard?

He was smart, hard working, and very determined, and he was not rich like Donald Trump, who questions how Barack Obama got into Harvard. I always wondered how George W. Bush got into Yale. Bush was wealthy, born to a wealthy father who graduated from Yale. Compared to Bush, Obama had nothing.

Ed Schultz said tonight that Donald Trump is a racist. I agree. He's either racist or just pandering to racists.

PS: Watch this:

Iran's Press TV downplays violence in Syria

"Meanwhile, several people have been killed and many more injured after armed groups clashed with Syrian security forces in the southern city of Daraa. According to Press TV, Syrian authorities say at least seven people, including four soldiers, were killed during the overnight clashes in the city. Some reports, however, put the death toll at 25. Damascus has repeatedly denied allegations that security forces are responsible for the death of protesters, saying they have been given clear instructions not to hurt civilians."

Iraqi commentators get violent during discussion about Saddam's legacy

Watch this clip of a show called "The Democracy Club" to see a Saddamist (I presume) telling an Iraqi Shiite that he'll cut his tongue out if he talks about Saddam. The Iraqi Shiite replies with "eat shit, I WILL talk about Saddam". They get up, the Saddamist starts throwing punches and a fight ensues. You can hear the Saddamist yelling obscenities, insulting the Shiite's father and calling him a Shroogi, an Iranian. The Shiite replies with some of the same pejoratives ("no YOU are despicable!").

This is an example of why democracy and reconciliation have been so very difficult in Iraq.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Iran worried about resurgence in Iraqi oil production

"Iran has counted on the shortage of Iraqi oil production as a buffer against potential sanctions on purchases of Iranian crude, says the Tehran-based analyst. Although Iraq is currently excluded from OPEC's quota system, Iranian oil officials admit they are worried that the resurgence of its historical rival will affect Tehran's standing within the organization. (Baghdad and Tehran clashed over OPEC production targets before Iran's 1979 revolution and during the 1980s, when the two countries were engaged in an eight-year war.) While Iran has increased influence in Baghdad nowadays because of the country's Shi'ite-dominated government, that is not likely to diminish Iraq's determination to rehabilitate its war-hobbled petroleum industry."

Read more:,8599,2066791,00.html#ixzz1KUAev4Zt

Thanks Hayder for posting.

Qatar is a Wahhabi state?

Angry Arab: "People forget that despite years of a bitter Saudi-Qatari feud, Qatar is the only other Wahhabi state in the world."

I did not know this. Qatar is very different from the KSA.

Al Jazeera English continues to cover Bahrain

The coverage of Bahrain by Al Jazeera English is impressive. I did not expect AJ to be objective on Bahrain.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Western and Sunni Arab nations ignore oppression of Shia

They think we're agents of Iran, kinda like Saddam did.

"Rats, Roaches and Shiites", by Sharman Narwani:

'I'm not arguing that Shiites have a lot in common with rodents and insects. But you wouldn't know it by watching Bahrainis and Saudis snuff them out with barely a peep from Western and majority-Sunni Arab nations, both.

Shia-majority Iran, Iraq and the Lebanese resistance group Hezbollah have been the most vocal in condemning the outrageous killings, arrests and beatings of Shiites in the Persian Gulf -- but they have had to do so with a muffled voice. Each objection from Iran or Hezbollah unleashes a barrage of opportunistic rants by Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the U.S. about "Iranian interference" and expansionism.

Which means as long as we can successfully infer a nefarious connection between these groups, one can simply yell "Iran" or "Hezbollah" and kill, torture and imprison Shiites with impunity -- in much the same way that we yelled "al Qaeda" and buried hundreds of Sunni Muslims in Guantanamo for years. No matter that we have never ever proven a connection of significance between these coreligionists.

It's the equivalent of saying all Irish Catholics have a connection to the Irish Republican Army. Or that all Jews take marching orders from Israel.'

Read more here.

Thanks Homam for posting on fb.

Yemeni President agrees to step down

Reuters: 'The Gulf Cooperation Council Plan stipulates that Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who has faced months of mass protests, will hand over power to his vice-president one month after an agreement is signed with opposition forces, and be granted immunity from prosecution.'

Dozens of doctors arrested in Bahrain

The Independent, April 21: "The intimidation and detention of doctors treating dying and injured pro-democracy protesters in Bahrain is revealed today in a series of chilling emails obtained by The Independent.

At least 32 doctors, including surgeons, physicians, paediatricians and obstetricians, have been arrested and detained by Bahrain's police in the last month in a campaign of intimidation that runs directly counter to the Geneva Convention guaranteeing medical care to people wounded in conflict. Doctors around the world have expressed their shock and outrage.'

Friday, April 22, 2011

At least 88 protesters killed in Syria

Reuters: "Scores of pro-democracy protesters killed by security forces will be buried across Syria in funerals expected to attract large crowds on Saturday and fuel mounting defiance against authoritarian rule.

A group of activists coordinating the demonstrations said regular forces and gunman loyal to President Bashar al-Assad shot dead at least 88 civilians on Friday. Rights groups had earlier put the death toll at a minimum of 70."

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Economist's interactive "shoe thrower's" index

This is really cool. The higher you rate corruption as an indicator weight, the higher Iraq moves up on the unrest index.

Thanks Fareed Zakaria for posting on fb.

PS: If you set the democracy weight at 90%, Saudi Arabia ranks highest on the index.

Birther madness in conservative America

Donald Trump is tapping into it. He says it's a huge issue for Republicans, and apparently he's right. Now they want to see Obama's "long form" birth certificate. Was Bush forced to show his long form birth certificate? It seems many Americans just don't like having an African American man (even if he's half African American) who fights for the poor as President. They question his legitimacy, maybe because his biological father was Kenyan.

Walgreens doesn't offer pap smears

I saw this last week and wanted to post it but I was too busy and then forgot about it. It's just too funny: "Walgreens Corrects Fox & Friends: We Don't Offer Pap Smears"

Half of American Muslim women don't cover hair

NPR: "There are about 1 million Muslim women in America; 43 percent of them wear headscarves all the time, according to the Pew Research Center. About 48 percent — or half a million women — don't cover their hair, the survey found."

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Bahrain has Free Trade Agreement with America

"One Reason Obama’s Not Supporting Civil Rights In Bahrain – It’s Spelled FTA"

Thanks Sara for posting on fb.

Mass grave found in western Iraq

NPR: "In western Iraq, authorities have discovered a mass grave they say holds the remains of more than 800 people who are thought to have been killed during the rule of Saddam Hussein.

It's believed the country has hundreds of mass graves from the Saddam era — and countless new graves from more recent conflicts. But not all sites get the same treatment.

Into The Grave

Down in the recently discovered grave, a set of remains lies along with the person's belongings. All that's left of the person is a skeleton — hip bone, joints, vertebrae. There's a skull with a bullet hole.

Local human rights chief Khudeir Hamdan says teams will take these skulls and test their DNA, then try to match them with DNA from families who have reported their loved ones missing.

Some of the remains were dressed in military uniforms, and some were in civilian clothes, he says. Some were women; some were children.

Hamdan says the victims are thought to be Kurds or Shiites — the main groups that rose up against Saddam. And the same groups that are in power today."

Bahraini student's scholarship revoked because he protested

in the UK, and if he doesn't return to Bahrain immediately, there could be "grave consequences":

"Three days after the protest my family received a phone call from the ministry of education in Bahrain telling them that my scholarship had been revoked. My family inquired about the reasons and justifications for this decision but nothing was mentioned apart from the fact that I had taken part in an illegal demonstration against Bahrain and that I violated the rules of the ministry of education.

My dad was shocked, so he asked whether they had any evidence for this claim and how they knew I was there in the first place. They told him that I was caught on camera, and they had video footage of me in the act. They insisted that I must come back to Bahrain immediately or grave grave consequences could result from my actions."

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Israel allied with Sunni Arab states

They are all afraid of Iran.

Bahraini fight for democracy

This Al Jazeera English documentary about Bahrain's democracy movement was added to YouTube more than a month ago, but it's good enough to be repeated.

Thanks Aya for posting on fb.

Real misinformation

I moved and got DIRECTV. I finally saw Avatar. Incredible movie! Also I've watched the last two episodes of Real Time with Bill Maher. In the first episode, Maher pointed out that the three biggest chunks of the US federal government's expenses are social security, Medicare & Medicaid, and defense. Elliot Spitzer responded and said basically the US is big insurance with a big army (I believe he quoted Ezra Klein). I've never thought of it that way, but it is true.

Some dubious and downright false claims were made in the last episode, which I watched last night. Bill Maher implied that Bill Clinton's tax hikes lead to job growth. Bill Clinton was a great president whose admininstration balanced the budget, but his tax hikes did not lead to job growth. The Internet and tech boom did.

Also Maher compared dissimulation in Islam to Jon Kyl's lies about planned parenthood. It was just a segway into the planned parenthood discussion, but he made it sound like Islam allows lying. Irshad Manji mentioned that it's allowed in times of war, but she did not explain that it's called taqiyya and that it's allowed by Shia to lie about their sect when Wahhabis hunt them down. I would lie about my religion too if a Wahhabi wants to kill me because I'm Shiite.

Manji also failed when she implied that most Muslim men force their wives to wear hijab inside the home. That's just silly! And the pic of Saudi men taking pics of a goat to prove I don't know what is also silly.

Also annoying in the last episode was Michael Steele, who disagreed with Maher that the Tea Party are Republicans. He said the Tea Party includes "Blue Dog Democrats". OK there may be a few independent teabaggers, and Blue Dog Democrats are conservative, but it's clear that the vast majority of the Tea Party patriots are Republicans. The audience laughed hard when he said the Tea Party includes Blue Dog Democrats.

At least Michael Steele was challenged appropriately, especially by Ed Schultz. Most misinformation on TV seems to go unchallenged.

They had oil on their minds

HP: "Revolution in the Middle East, nuclear meltdown in Japan, war in Libya, the U.S. budget crisis, the looming problems of the Eurozone -- some days it's all just too much. But today there's something no one can afford to ignore: The Independent, one of Britain's leading newspapers, broke a must-read story. In a nutshell, the story buries forever all claims that the US, the UK, and other governments did not have oil on their minds as they prepared to invade Iraq."

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Saudi troops burn Qur'an in Bahrain

The Press TV clip below claims Saudis burned a Qur'an in Bahrain. Somebody tell the Afghans!

Thanks Global Liberation Network for posting on fb.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

There is a new Bahrain

A more repressive Bahrain.

NYT: 'In the last two months of rising tensions and violence, his was a voice of moderation, urging both the Sunni royal family and leaders of the predominantly Shiite protest movement to sit down and compromise. He wrote columns criticizing government repression and corruption, and others condemning moves by protesters to march on the royal palace and barricade the country’s main highway — acts that eventually provoked a sweeping crackdown over the last three weeks.

But suddenly, Mr. Jamri found himself out of a job, forced to quit last weekend to keep Al Wasat open. He now spends his days clearing out his office and preparing to face prosecutors on Monday. They have accused him of publishing false stories to incite Shiites to rise up against the government.

“They have taken away my baby,” said Mr. Jamri, who says the false stories were planted. “When they touch and attack Al Wasat, it is a message to everybody that there is a new Bahrain. They are re-engineering the country.” '

Iran govt praises Maliki for raid on Iranian dissidents

'BAGHDAD (AP) — Iran is praising Iraqi authorities for launching a deadly raid on a camp of Iranian exiles whom Tehran deems to be terrorists.

Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi told a Tehran press conference Saturday the Iraqi army was right to storm Camp Ashraf.

Ashraf residents belong to the People's Mujahedeen Organization of Iran, which seeks to overthrow Iran's leaders.'

Read more:

Nouri al Maliki serves Iranian interests

'NCRI - A leading political figure in Iraq has vehemently condemned a brutal attack on residents of Camp Ashraf on Friday, saying the killing of the unarmed residents by Nouri al-Maliki’s forces only served the interests and agenda of the Iranian regime.

In a statement, Dr. Zafer al-Ani, the Secretary General of the Iraq National Future and a leading figure in Iraqiya, said, “Sending the army on behalf of the Iranian regime to create fabricated stories to initiate clashes taints the honor of the Iraqi army.”

It is also a “violation of the Iraqi constitution,” he said, “because the Iraqi army is misused to do something outside its responsibilities as mandated by the constitution.” '

Friday, April 08, 2011

20 killed in Syria protests

"Anti-government demonstrations have spread across Syria with the highest turnout yet in a month of unrest, despite a heavy crackdown by security forces in which at least 20 people died.

The most violent clashes took place in the city of Deraa, where the unrest began. At least 17 people are said to have been killed, with witnesses saying ambulances were prevented from reaching the scene."

ISF attack Iranian dissidents

NYT: "Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates urged the Iraqi government to show restraint on Friday in the wake of an apparent attack by Iraqi security forces on a group of Iranian dissidents protected by the United States.

The dissidents, the People’s Mujahedeen, live in Camp Ashraf, a 14-square mile settlement in northern Iraq near the border with Iran. According to the dissidents, Iraqi security forces opened fire on residents of the camp late Thursday and early Friday, killing more than a dozen. The reports could not be independently confirmed.

But the United States, which has been trying to keep control of tensions here before all American troops pull out at the end of this year, was confident enough of the reports to have Mr. Gates make a statement to reporters."

Two Bahraini footballers arrested

"Two of Bahrain's leading footballers are under government investigation following their arrest for taking part in anti-regime protests.

In a move that could leave the Gulf kingdom in breach of international rules which separate politics and sport, A'ala and Mohamed Hubail were arrested during training with their club Al Ahli after appearing on television attending a pro-democracy rally."

Thanks Homam for posting on fb.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Bahrain authorities turned hospitals into places to be feared

'An international humanitarian organization said Thursday that Bahraini authorities turned hospitals into "places to be feared" during a deadly crackdown on anti-government protesters in the Gulf country.

Doctors Without Borders condemned the arrest of injured opposition supporters being treated at medical facilities. In a statement, the organization said Bahrain's security forces used hospitals and health centres as "bait to identify and arrest those (protesters) who dare seek treatment."

The capital's Salmaniya medical complex, in particular, was at the centre of the country's turmoil, treating hundreds of injured demonstrators. The military took control of the facility, and doctors and patients there said soldiers and policemen interrogated and detained them.'

US military wants a role in Iraq after 2011

WP: 'The State Department will take on an expanded role in training police officers, but some military officials are angling for a modest role as well, probably in efforts to support external defense. There also are concerns about the persistence of al-Qaeda in Iraq, which took credit for a bombing last week that killed more than 57 people in Tikrit.

“I think there is an interest in having a continued presence,” Gates told a gathering of U.S. troops. “But the politics of it is, we’ll have to wait and see, because the initiative has to come from the Iraqis.” '

Arbitrary detention in Bahrain

HRW: "Arbitrary detention appears rampant under Bahrain's state of emergency, with numerous cases in which authorities have abused people they detained or stopped, Human Rights Watch said today. Bahrain should account for everyone who has been detained and free those arbitrarily arrested following recent public protests, Human Rights Watch said."

Something smells fishy in Wisconsin

LAT: "In a shocking twist, a clerk in a conservative Wisconsin county announced Thursday that she had discovered a net gain of 7,582 votes for an embattled conservative Supreme Court justice, a total that would make him the winner of an election in which his challenger declared victory Wednesday."

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Conservatives in Iran also miraculously found votes for themselves back in 2009. What a quinky dink!

Monday, April 04, 2011

UN & French forces strike Gbagbo camps

"French and UN helicopters have fired on military camps operated by Ivory Coast incumbent leader Laurent Gbagbo, in an effort to halt attacks on civilians."

Friday, April 01, 2011

Baghdad air pollution

"Scientists have been collecting air samples in Baghdad since 2008, and they found that the Iraqi air often contains fine particulate matter made up of many elements, including silica, sulfates and heavy metals, such as lead, arsenic, cadmium and mercury. Fine particulate matter is of greater concern than large particulate matter because these tiny particles can travel deep into the lungs, where they can cause more damage.

Some air quality readings in Iraq found that the fine particulate matter was nearly 10 times higher than the levels generally considered acceptable in the United States."

Bahraini king's relentless crackdown on Shia

AP: 'The official line: Bahrain is back to business as usual. Shiite protesters are off the streets after a month of paralyzing demonstrations. A state-run newspaper's headline declares the Persian Gulf island to be "Back on Track."

But police checkpoints dot the highways around the tiny Sunni-led kingdom. Tanks are deployed around the lavish shopping malls in the capital.

And security forces are carrying out nightly raids in the impoverished Shiite villages around Manama, smashing down doors, destroying furniture and spraying graffiti on the walls, residents told The Associated Press.

One Bahraini human rights activist told the AP that he was beaten and hit with shoes by armed, masked men, who threatened him with rape and told to go back to Iran, the Shiite powerhouse across the Gulf.

The relentless crackdown has made major new protests a virtual impossibility for the time being, analysts and Shiite residents say. But the pressure is generating new anger among protesters who had been calling for democratic reform and equal rights for Shiites. Another explosion of unrest in the home of the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet now seems inevitable, they say.

"We cannot stop," said Ali Mohammed, a 33-year-old Shiite teacher fired from his job for participating in demonstrations at Manama's Pearl Square last month. "We might go quite for a bit to mourn the dead and treat the injured and see those in jail, but then we will rise up again." '

800 killed in one city in Ivory Coast this week

'"At least 800" people were killed in one city alone in Ivory Coast earlier this week, according to the International Red Cross.

The organisation claimed that hundreds were killed in the western city of Duekoue on Tuesday."

Syrians want freedom

LAT: 'Four people were shot dead in Duma, a suburb of the capital, Damascus, when police fired on about 2,000 people gathered in a major square chanting "Freedom," according to a witness who withheld his name out of concern for his safety.

Activists had dubbed Friday the "Day of Martyrs" to commemorate the more than 70 people who have been killed during the unrest of recent weeks. They used Facebook, Twitter and other online social media to mobilize mass demonstrations.'

Yemen protests continue

Ali Abdullah Saleh says he will "sacrifice" for the sake of the great Yemeni people.

Iraqi Shia support Bahraini protesters

NYT: 'Ahmad Chalabi, an erstwhile American partner in the period before the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and a Shiite member of Parliament, on Friday denounced what he called a double standard in the Western powers’ response to the uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East — particularly in Bahrain, where a Sunni minority dominates a vast and restive underclass made up of his Shiite brethren.

“They called for international action in Libya,” Mr. Chalabi said in a meeting hall on the grounds of his farm outside Baghdad. “But they kept their mouths shut with what is happening in Bahrain.”'

Kurdish protest turns violent

"A peaceful protest turned violent in northern Iraq on Friday when hundreds of Kurdish protesters clashed with riot police, security officials there said.

Security officials said angry protesters stormed shops in central Sulaimaniya, threw stones at Kurdish riot police and wielded sticks when police pushed back. At least 50 people were wounded, including 37 members of the riot police, police and health officials in Sulaimaniya said."