Monday, September 10, 2012

Democrats know how to create jobs

Poverty, discrimination and ignorance restrict growth, Bill Clinton said in a great speech at the Democratic National Convention. HP: 'It turns out that advancing equal opportunity and economic empowerment is both morally right and good economics," Clinton said. "Why? Because poverty, discrimination and ignorance restrict growth. When you stifle human potential, when you don’t invest in new ideas, it doesn't just cut off the people who are affected; it hurts us all.'

Sunday, August 19, 2012

4 Sunnis in Pakistan died for Shia

"They ordered the passengers to step down and started enquiring about their sect.

Those who belonged to Shia sect were taken aside and later shot dead in cold blood.

The total killed were 22, including four Sunni Muslims, who protested and pressed the terrorists not to kill innocent Shia Muslims.

One Sajjad who luckily saved his life said that fellow Sunni passengers did a good job by saving many lives otherwise all Shias would have been brutally murdered.

The terrorists even beat Sunni passengers and forced them to help in identifying Shias so that they could kill them.

In spite of that, the Sunnis did not cooperate with them, he added."

Thanks Hayder for sharing.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

It's not too soon to talk about guns

Jon Stewart makes fun of people who say that it's too soon (after the mass shooting in Aurora, Colorado) to talk about guns in America. They don't want us to "politicize" this incident.

How long must we wait after a mass shooting to have a serious discussion about guns?  The discussion will likely not result in stricter laws, based on how America reacted to other gun-related atrocities, but let us at least have a serious discussion about it. No it's not too soon.

Syria now a magnet for Sunni extremists

Naturally, without an American invasion.

NYT via MSNBC: "The video, posted on YouTube, is one more bit of evidence that Al Qaeda and other Islamic extremists are doing their best to hijack the Syrian revolution, with a growing although still limited success that has American intelligence officials publicly concerned, and Iraqi officials next door openly alarmed.

While leaders of the Syrian political and military opposition continue to deny any role for the extremists, Al Qaeda has helped to change the nature of the conflict, injecting the weapon they perfected in Iraq — suicide bombings — into the battle against President Bashar al-Assad with growing frequency.

The evidence is mounting that Syria has become a magnet for Sunni extremists, including those operating under the banner of Al Qaeda. An important border crossing with Turkey that fell into Syrian rebels’ hands last week, Bab al-Hawa, has quickly become a jihadist congregating point."

Human trafficking is a world wide problem

I received an email from a journalism student and fan of the blog asking me to write a post about his efforts to raise funds for his upcoming project to document human trafficking in Papua New Guinea. When I first read it I thought "human trafficking in Papua New Guinea? Really?" When I think of human trafficking, I think of places like Thailand and Vietnam. Dubai and India. Iraq. Even California. But tiny Papua New Guinea? Yes it is true. As this UN article points out, "Cases are seen in all parts of the world and victims are targeted irrespective of gender, age or background."

Please help Corey's efforts in his project. Good luck Corey!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Global warming is real and terrifying

More evidence that if humans continue to burn fossil fuels at the current rate, we are headed for global disaster. Germany is the only rich country that seems to be serious about minimizing its carbon output:

"Germany is one of the only big countries that has actually tried hard to change its energy mix; on one sunny Saturday in late May, that northern-latitude nation generated nearly half its power from solar panels within its borders. That's a small miracle – and it demonstrates that we have the technology to solve our problems. But we lack the will. So far, Germany's the exception; the rule is ever more carbon."

Thursday, July 19, 2012

I like Barack Obama

I haven't posted in a while, readers have reminded me. Thank you, faithful readers! I am flattered that you are interested in my writings and the articles that I link to, even though you may disagree with them. But I have lost the motivation to blog. I'm not sure why. I used to enjoy writing and expressing my thoughts about all kinds of things I thought were important. I still think about those things, politics especially. I watch at least one hour of MSNBC (usually Lawrence O'Donnel) almost every night. I love Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. Real Time With Bill Maher is a must. It's why I got a DVR.

I like to watch shows about history and science. I'm reading "The House of Wisdom" for a second time. I have learned new things at work. Very interesting things that involve math and science. But somehow I have lost the motivation to write about all the interesting things I have learned. My life is changing. I am shifting priorities. I am busy with my job and my social life. I am riding my bike everywhere.

I have often started writing posts without finishing them and never published them. The other night I wanted to write a post about John McCain and his defense of Huma Abadin, an aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. I thought it was a noble thing that Senator McCain did, and it reminded me of the time he shook his head and grabbed the microphone from an old lady who had heard that Obama was an Arab. "No, no he's not, ma'am, He's a decent family man citizen whom I just happen to disagree with," Mr. McCain said respectfully yet assertively. I was going to call that post "I like John McCain.

On another night I started writing another post about Michael Moore's movie "Capitalism: A Love Story". It was a great movie that featured part of Jimmy Carter's 1975 speech about a crisis of confidence in America. I wrote the post, even embedded the YouTube video, and then I fell asleep in my bed before finishing it. 

Really the only thing I would like to say tonight before I fall asleep is that I like Barack Obama and I hope he will be reelected. Obama did not grow up rich like Mitt Romney did. Romney refuses to release his tax returns, even as a growing number of Republicans demand that he does. Mrs. Romney got on TV and said today "we've given all you people you need to know." I think that is one of the most condescending things I've heard a rich person say in a long time. I would be very surprised if Mitt Romney is elected President, but it may happen, given the ignorance and prejudice of many American voters today. But I hope it doesn't happen and I hope Barack Obama is reelected President.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Bombings across Iraq target Shia

"In total, more than 21 bombs exploded on Wednesday in Baghdad and the southern Iraqi cities of Kerbala, Balad, Haswa, which are predominantly Shi'ite areas that have been targeted before by Sunni Islamist insurgents."

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Obama is pro business

Republicans like to say that Obama is anti-business. The truth is that Barack Obama is very pro-business. He is so pro-business he bailed out GM, one of America's biggest companies. It turned out to be a smart move.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Teenage Sudanese woman sentenced to death by stoning

HRW: "Intisar Sharif Abdallah, whose age has not been determined but is believed to be under the age of 18, was sentenced by a judge on April 22, 2012, in the city of Omdurman, near Khartoum. Since her sentencing, she been held in Omdurman prison with her 5-month-old baby, with her legs shackled."

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Abdul Karim Qasim was first to nationalize Iraqi oil

In the video bellow John Perkins talks about the US relationship with Saddam when Abdul Karim Qasim was President of Iraq. I want to post this to remind people and myself that Abdul Karim Qasim nationalized Iraqi oil. Some Arabs seem to believe that Saddam was the first Iraqi president to nationalize Iraqi oil. He was not.

Many Arabs praised Saddam as if he was the original populist who did good things for ordinary Iraqis. He was not. It reminds me of my post Iraqi Goodfellas - I will always remember that dinner with the Iraqi woman who said that Saddam made education free!


 Thanks 3amu for the forward!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Iraqi lawmakers fuel resentments

"Iraq’s lawmakers have hightailed it out of town for a six-week vacation without following through on promises to cancel a pricey perk for free armored cars that they approved for themselves in the annual budget.

It is the sort of move that is fueling resentments among the struggling Iraqi public, many of whom accuse the country’s leaders of being corrupt and only in politics for their own profit."

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Iran wants to replace Sistani with hardline cleric

This cleric is also very wealthy: “Shahroudi is one of the wealthiest men in Iran,” said Mr. Khalaji, the analyst and former student in Qum. “He imports goods, has businesses and owns many factories. His personal life is luxurious.” By being a government insider, he said, the cleric made a fortune in past years by importing auto parts and equipment for oil exploration from Eastern Europe.

Monday, May 07, 2012

Austerity sucks

I've been reading about austerity imposed by the IMF and World Bank for many years. Lately it has been imposed upon European countries, and they don't like it! Just like Jamaica didn't like it. In Feb 2010 I wrote:

"The devastating economic effects of the 1973 oil embargo hurt even more in poor countries like Haiti and Jamaica, which had to import all their oil. Watch the excellent documentary Life and Debt to learn more about Jamaica's debt crisis that ensued after the embargo."

But I did not mention the austerity imposed upon Jamaica by the IMF and World Bank after the crisis. Watch the documentary to learn more. Also in that post I quoted a Wikipedia article about the 1973 oil embargo without linking to it (I just updated it with the link).

Europeans have decided that austerity is not working, while Republicans in America think the US govt should practice some austerity. Actually I think the US govt should practice some austerity, especially in the area of "defense" spending. But not right now, at a time when laying off soldiers would hurt the economy further. It's an election year!

I remember Iraq in the 70s, when the govt in Baghdad was benefiting from the spike in oil prices. The regime enriched themselves, of course, but they also spent money on infrastructure and education. My father benefited directly from that policy. I give credit to President Ahmed Hassan al Bakr. But the Baath party was a socialist party, after all, and it wasn't the first socialist party to gain power. The Iraqi Communist Party, led by Abdul Karim Qasim, gained power in the 50s. There was great progress in Iraq in those days. I wish Iraq could be like that again.

PS: The Wiki article to which I linked about Ahmed Hassan al Bakr says: "During his rule, Iraq was blossoming; high economic growth due to high oil international oil prices strengthened Iraq's role in the Arab world and increased the people's Standard_of_living"

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Some Tunisian Muslims want to kill for Allah

because they believe that showing an image of Allah is blasphemous. I like to call these people "mujrimeen" (murderers) instead of muslimeen.

'A panel of five Tunisian judges on Thursday convicted TV magnate Nabil Karoui of “disturbing public order” and “threatening public morals” by broadcasting the French movie “Persepolis,” an animated film that contains a fleeting image of God. Karoui was fined $1,600. Two of his staffers, including the woman whose job it was to check the movie for moral and legal problems, were fined $800 each. Prosecutors and lawyers representing Islamist groups argued that the owner of Nessma TV should be sentenced to prison for up to five years; at least two lawyers called for the death penalty.'

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Norwegians sing song that mass murderer hates

"Some 40,000 people gathered on the streets of Oslo on Thursday to sing a Norwegian nursery rhyme that mass murderer Anders Breivik says he hates."

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Usama bin Ladin's widows & kids go back to KSA

'The government spokesman confirmed to NBC News producer Fakhar Rehman that 14 members of the family had been deported on court orders "to the country of their choice, Saudi Arabia." '

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Attacks against Pakistani minorities have spiked in recent years

"Attacks against Sikhs, Christians and Hindus have spiked in Pakistan in recent years as the Taliban and their allies gained strength. Atrocities by Muslim extremists against religious minorities now are so common that they rarely illicit more than routine condemnation by officials, much less collective contrition or shame."

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Nepali slaves in the Middle East

Very sad how some people (these are Muslims?) take advantage of the poor people of Nepal. Thanks Ghassan for sharing.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Mecca has skyscrapers

I did not realize that Mecca has skyscrapers until I read this post: "Looming large over the Grand Mosque and the Kaaba (the black cube-shaped building that is the holiest site in Islam) is the largest and second tallest building in the world, called the Royal Mecca Clock Tower complex."

 Now Mecca has the second tallest building in the world.

Thanks Haydar for sharing.

 Remember when I posted Starbucks in the Arab World? That was Christmas 2009, and I reported there were 26 Starbucks in Mecca. I wanted to verify that number again and found that Starbucks has changed its website since then, and the pages that showed the number of Starbucks in each location no longer exist. I had to use Google to find the number is still 26, and I learned that these 26 Starbucks are in Mecca province, which includes Jeddah, and there are many more Starbucks in Jeddah than Mecca. In 2009 I thought all of them were in the city of Mecca. I should have realized how improbable that would be.

While searching for these facts I read an interesting post about Saudi's rejection of Starbucks' new logo, which has been deemed too sexy for Islam. But a giant hotel with shopping malls and with a giant clock on top of it is kosher!

 PS: "The developer and contractor of the complex is the Saudi Binladin Group, the Kingdom's largest construction company"

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

5,000 "honor" killings every year!

"The UN estimates that around 5,000 women and girls are murdered each year in so-called “honor killings” by members of their families"

Friday, April 06, 2012

Corruption in America not as visible, but is disgusting

"The U.S. was one of 29 countries out of a 31-nation sample to score below 60 on a 100-point scale on questions regarding the enforcement of political finance laws, regardless of how strong or weak the country’s regulations were, according to the new report."

 We're tied with Tajikistan! And then there's this:

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Corruption in Iraq is visible and disgusting

'The manager of one of the conference hotels said the summit reeked of corruption. The hotel he oversaw had cost more than $20 million to renovate, but there was no way all that money had gone into the project, he said, pointing out the many imperfections. He said his company could've built an 800-room deluxe hotel in Dubai for that price.

"So where did all the money go? In the bellies!" he said with a laugh, patting his midsection for emphasis.

On social media platforms, Iraqi leaders were ripped as tasteless for serving VIP guests a dessert of dates dipped in 24-karat gold in a war-ravaged country where thousands of women were forced to sell off their gold to pay their husbands' and sons' kidnap ransoms.'

Read more here:

Conservative Shia rulers taking Iraq backwards

"The constantly expanding powers of conservative Shiite Islamists have inspired a backlash among some concerned Iraqi communities; not just Sunnis, but also secular Shiites, liberals and artists, as well as the few remaining Christians.

They wonder what happened to all those promises from 2003 about Iraq becoming a pluralistic nation with Western-style guarantees of civil liberties. Instead, they say, Iraqis got a country where the once-treasured national orchestra can't even play for fans in the southern Shiite cities of Najaf and Karbala because religious authorities have deemed musical performances un-Islamic."

Read more here:

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Maliki defends Assad, KSA to fund Syrian rebels

'On Sunday, Maliki issued a forceful defense of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, saying his ouster would destabilize the region. On the same day, at a U.S.-backed gathering of “Friends of Syria” in Istanbul, Saudi Arabia endorsed a plan to fund and equip Syrian rebels.'

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Murdered Iraqi American woman buried in Najaf

"An Iraqi-American woman found bludgeoned to death in her California home last week, with a threatening note left beside her body, was buried in her native Iraq on Saturday. Family members wept uncontrollably by her graveside and her father asked God to exact revenge on those responsible for her death."

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Only 10 heads of state at Arab League Summit

AP: "In a snub to Iraq, only 10 heads of state from the Arab League's 22 members attended, with the rest sending lower-level officials. Especially notable were the absences of the rulers of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and most other Gulf countries, as well Morocco and Jordan — all of them headed by Sunni monarchs who deeply distrust the close ties between Baghdad's Shiite-dominated government and their top regional rival, Iran.

...The Gulf countries also see Iraq as too soft on Syria. Saudi Arabia and Qatar have talked of arming Syria's opposition, apparently eager to bring the fall of Assad and break the Sunni-majority country out of its alliance with Iran."

Iraq is back

Many Iraqis like to think so.

Liz Sly of the WP: "Arab leaders assembled in Baghdad on Thursday for a landmark summit marked by lavish hospitality, speeches hailing Iraq’s return to the Arab fold — and a rocket explosion at the Iranian Embassy on the edge of the fortified Green Zone, where the gathering was taking place.

It was a day full of symbolism for a newly assertive Iraq, anxious to shed its reputation as the region’s outcast, a country too dangerous, too dysfunctional and too tainted by its associations with both Iran and the United States to accomplish anything so ambitious as a summit attended by Arab heads of state."

Monday, March 26, 2012

Invitees of Arab Summit mostly Sunni

'The invitees are almost all Sunni, and though many nations are not sending their heads of state, the fact that all have said they will come is considered a signal of Iraq's reacceptance into the Arab fold after more than two decades of isolation. Only Syria, which was suspended from the Arab League in November because of its government's brutal crackdown on pro-democracy protesters, will not be there.

Arab states "are seeing Iraq rising again. It is showing independence," Zebari said. "And it is not an Iranian-controlled and -occupied country as they thought." '

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Salafi media: Shia are "worse than Jews"

'Several Salafi channels in tightly controlled Saudi Arabia have appeared to seize on Syria to escalate their case against Iran and Shiites in general, analysts add. Salafis are ultraconservative Sunnis whose interpretations of Islam overlap with those of al Qaeda.

"There will be slaughter and killing in every Arab country if the Syrian revolution is extinguished," said a news anchor this month on the Saudi-based Safa channel, adding that "Shiites are worse than Jews." '

Mosul is ruled by Al Qaeda

Reuters: 'Baghdad's ministers describe Iraq's crippling infrastructure problems as an opportunity to invest. Occasional explosions are dismissed as the last throes of isolated cells trying to show they are still relevant in a country where the overwhelming majority is committed to peace.

But during a visit of several days in Iraq's third largest city, security officials and residents of Mosul painted a picture far worse than commonly understood from Baghdad.

Far from being furtive and on the run, al Qaeda and its allies maintain a hold over economic and political life that shows little sign of loosening. Residents speak fearfully.

Um Qassim's family of nine are Shi'ites from the small Shabak minority, one of the many ethnic groups that share Iraq's most diverse city. They have had to abandon their home and move into two rooms across town.

"They have displaced all the Shabak from their houses to eastern Mosul. Whoever resists, they kill him or bomb his house," Um Qassim said.

As she began speaking to Reuters, her husband approached, clearly agitated: "Be careful, do not mention your real name," he said. "Keep in your mind that they can reach us anytime."

Shop owners say they are forced to pay protection money to the militants. Security officials say the fighters are raising millions of dollars per month here, which they use to fund bomb attacks across Iraq.

"They keep coming, every three months, to take $300 - $100 per month - always at the same time but not the same person," said a pharmacist, who spoke to Reuters only when his shop was empty and became silent whenever a customer entered.

"They are very organized and very polite. I cannot get rid of them. The pharmacist next door refused to pay. They planted a bomb inside his pharmacy and one of his workers lost his leg."

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Many Iraqi Sunna & Shia still distrust each other

A must read in the NYT: 'In places like Al Adel, some Shiite families view the Sunni families who stayed behind as complicit partners of the violent Sunni militants who overran many mixed neighborhoods. But many Sunni families say they now feel like they are being hounded by returning Shiites who, for the first time in centuries, have the force of the government and army at their backs.

...Many Sunni families watched over houses vacated by their Shiite neighbors, but Mr. Majid believes others invited squatters and became the eyes of Sunni militants, passing along information about their Shiite neighbors."

Baghdad hasn't hosted a summit since 1990

WP: "Baghdad has not hosted an Arab summit since 1990, only two months before then-ruler Saddam Hussein invaded neighboring Kuwait. After that, Iraq was all but ejected from the Arab fold, put under years of international sanctions, then mired in the near-civil war that followed the 2003 U.S.-led invasion and fall of Saddam."

Osama bin Laden funded Bali attack

Jakarta Globe, March 23: "Osama bin Laden gave the Jemaah Islamiyah $30,000 (Rp 322 million) to carry out terror attacks in Southeast Asia, a key witness in the ongoing trial of Bali bombmaker Umar Patek told a Jakarta court yesterday."

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Salam Fayyad: Stop using Palestinian cause to justify murder

'Extremists must stop using the Palestinian cause to justify their acts of violence, Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said on Wednesday after a deadly attack on a French Jewish school.

"It is time for these criminals to stop marketing their terrorist acts in the name of Palestine and to stop pretending to stand up for the rights of Palestinian children who only ask for a decent life," the Palestinian premier said in a statement.'

I like Salam Fayyad.

Syrian rebels committed serious abuses

LAT: 'Syria's armed rebels have committed "serious human rights abuses," including kidnappings and torture, and reportedly executions, of security personnel and civilians, Human Rights Watch said Tuesday.

The group painted a dark picture that is in stark contrast to the "freedom fighter" image that the rebels and their political allies outside Syria have sought to project to the world.'

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

20 bombs exploded at 13 sites in Iraq: 46 killed

LAT: "The targets of the attacks included Shiite Muslim pilgrims, Iraqi police, an army patrol, government officials and guards outside a Christian church in Baghdad."

Monday, March 19, 2012

There are murderous racists in America

Well Iraq is not the only country where a bigot can get away with murder. The story of a young black teenager murdered by a racist "neighborhood watch" schmuck with a gun has energized American media. Weeks after I read about the story on Gawker and Raw Story, the murderer has not been arrested. Today the story caught fire in mainstream media (except for FOX News).

In Florida, if you are a man with some authority, you can kill a man or a kid, claim self defense, and the government will look the other way, just like in Iraq! But ordinary and extraordinary Floridians are PISSED and they're doing something about it. I've been perusing some of the comments for the petition to arrest the murderer. One woman (an MD) wrote: "I can't wait for the FBI to get involved since the State of Florida is dragging its racist heels!"

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After the White House initially said it's a local matter, the US Dept of Justice and the FBI announced they would launch their own investigations.

This type of murder, the type that comes from racism, has happened a lot in America's history, but in 2012? OMG it's embarrassing. Americans should be better than this.

Sadrists want electricity, water, and education

CNN: "Tens of thousands of followers of anti-American Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr marked the ninth anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq on Monday by demanding improvements in public services in the war-torn country.

Some of the protesters carried coffins marked "electricity," "water" and "education" through the streets of the southern oil city of Basra. Others carried cables and water containers to express their frustration with the lack of basic utilities."

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Iraqi govt is complicit in murders

HRW: “The government has contributed to an atmosphere of fear and panic fostered by acts of violence against emos,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “Instead of claiming that the accounts are fabricated, Iraqi authorities need to set up a transparent and independent inquiry to address the crisis.”

So now Iraqi authorities are saying the accounts of murder are fabricated? How sad and embarrassing for Iraqi Shia!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Harsh sanctions may strengthen Iranian regime

just like sanctions strengthened Saddam, Chomsky argues:

'The sanctions against Iran may have the same effect as their predecessors against Iraq, which were condemned as “genocidal” by the respected U.N. diplomats who administered them before finally resigning in protest.

The Iraq sanctions devastated the population and strengthened Saddam Hussein, probably saving him from the fate of a rogues’ gallery of other tyrants supported by the U.S.-U.K. – tyrants who prospered virtually to the day when various internal revolts overthrew them.'

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Extremists want to control women

A great comment by Hillary Clinton: “Why extremists always focus on women remains a mystery to me, but they all seem to. It doesn’t matter what country they’re in or what religion they claim. They want to control women. They want to control how we dress. They want to control how we act. They even want to control the decisions we make about our own health and bodies.”

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Torture in Syria worst in 30 years

LAT: "The scale of torture in Syria since an antigovernment uprising began a year ago amounts to crimes against humanity and is the worst the country has experienced in 30 years, says an Amnesty International report released Tuesday."

Bad guys can't hide anymore

I'm watching Friday's Real Time With Bill Maher again and I liked what Bill said: bad guys can't hide anymore. The internet is allowing normal people to expose the criminals of the world, like Kony, the first person to be indicted by the International Criminal Court. The Telegraph's headline: 'Luis Moreno Ocampo, the chief prosecutor at the International Criminal Court, has defended the creators of the Kony 2012 viral video hit, saying that the campaign has "mobilised the world".'

I posted this on fb and wanted to post it here too, just in case you have not seen it.

The internet has become useful in so many ways.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The ironies in Islam

I have always wondered if some people chuckle when they read the parts of the Qur'an that say gay people should be killed and then they read the parts that say Allah is "merciful and compassionate". Merciful and compassionate? Really?? Murder and compassion are mixed together. There is tragic ironic comedy in Islam. The Qur'an is like a gun: it gives people confidence, but it can be very dangerous when placed in the wrong hands (or mind).

Huffington Post: "Officials and human rights groups estimated as many as 58 Iraqis who are either gay or believed to be gay have been killed in the last six weeks alone – forecasting what experts fear is a return to the rampant hate crimes against homosexuals in 2009. This year, eyewitnesses and human rights groups say some of the victims have been bludgeoned to death by militiamen smashing in their skulls with heavy cement blocks.

A recent list distributed by militants in Baghdad's Shiite Sadr City neighborhood gives the names or nicknames of 33 people and their home addresses. At the top of the paper are a drawing of two handguns flanking a Quranic greeting that extolls God as merciful and compassionate."

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Killed for wearing American jeans

There are mujrimeen among the Shia in Baghdad, and they kill in the name of Islam:

"Youngsters in Iraq are being stoned to death for having haircuts and wearing clothes that emulate the ‘emo’ style popular among western teenagers.

At least 14 youths have been killed in the capital Baghdad in the past three weeks in what appears to be a campaign by Shia militants.

Militants in Shia neighbourhoods, where the stonings have taken place, circulated lists yesterday naming more youths targeted to be killed if they do not change the way they dress.

Al-Bayaty said the killings appear to have been carried out by extremist Shia militias in mostly poor Shia neighborhoods and said she suspected 'there's complicity of the Ministry of Interior in the killings.'

Photos of the victims were released on Facebook, causing panic and fear among Iraqi students."

Read more:

I understand now why so many people believe Iraqis lived better under Saddam.

Democrats & Republicans agree: "containment" is not an option with Iran

Today I watched last night's episode of Real Time With Bill Maher. Bill asked the Israeli ambassador to the US if there is any difference between Obama's view on Iran and the Republicans' view. Bill said he doesn't see a difference, and the ambassador seemed to agree. That means the US policy is to seek end to the Supreme Leader's regime. There might be a difference in how they would like to achieve this goal.

He also asked the Israeli ambassador about settlements in the West Bank. Bill asked if he supports Israel, does he have to support Likud? Does an Israel supporter have to support settlements? The ambassador said no, and that Israel supports peace.

I was impressed by Bill's comments on settlements. The Israeli ambassador, who is also American, made a case to overthrow the dangerous regime in Iran. I too would like to see the end of the backward regime in Iran, but I would rather not see a war like the wars with Iraq. There are other ways to overthrow despots. Obama seems to have the right policy. Having said that, it would be nice to see the end of the Ayatollahs' power.

I'm hoping to see the end of Islamic stupidity and injustice in Baghdad too. Yesterday it was revealed that 'At least 90 Iraqi teenagers with "emo" appearances have been stoned to death by religious extremists in Baghdad in the past month after an inflammatory interior ministry statement dubbed it "devil worshiping" ' (thanks Aton for the link). The Iraqi government, which is filled with backward Shiite fundamentalists, is complicit in the murders.

Also during the show Bill said that he "got crap from the left and the right this week". He defended his defense of Rush Limbaugh. I thought that was a bad idea just a couple days ago, but Bill made some good points: Rush Limbaugh is not like Bill Maher, which a few conservatives have asserted. Sarah Palin called it hypocrisy, but it really isn't hypocrisy. Bill said Limbaugh didn't even make a joke. He said Limbaugh is "a stupid fat fuck who's not funny" but we should not push him off the air just because he was offensive. It's true that Rush has the freedom to be offensive, and of course freedom of speech is one of our most important rights, but Limbaugh's sponsors also have the freedom to pull their ads from his show, just like ABC had the freedom to fire Bill Maher a decade a ago.

There is one thing Rush Limbaugh and Bill Maher probably agree on: the US must help Israel against Iranian threats of annihilation.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Iraqi activists try to get tough on "honor killings"

On International Women's Day I was reminded that "honor killings" still exist in Iraq. Thanks Haydar for sharing.

'Near the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk, a father doused his three teenage daughters with boiling water and shot them because, he told a court, he suspected they were having sex. Two died.

He said he killed them to defend his honor.

Murder in Iraq can carry a death sentence but under laws that activists say are far too lenient for so-called “honor killings”, the father was jailed for just two years. Medical examinations showed the girls were virgins.

The light sentence was a result of Article 409 of Iraq’s penal code which is often used in cases of “honor killings” by men. Women’s activists in Iraq, led by the only woman in Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s cabinet, Minister of State for Women’s Affairs Ibtihal al-Zaidi, are lobbying to change the law.'

Continue reading

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Palestinians are an invented people?

Apparently many schmucks in America and Israel think so. I used to hear this a lot from the Zionuts on the Yahoo message boards more than a decade ago. Evidently Newt Gingrich (schmuck extraordinaire who wants to be President) also believes this:

'The campaign sugar daddy of Newt Gingrich (and soon, Romney) is Sheldon Adelson, a multibillionaire casino owner and hawkish Zionist who endorses Gingrich’s view that the Palestinians are “an invented people” who have no historic claim to a homeland. Gingrich told Aipac that “if an Israeli prime minister decides that he has to avoid the threat of a second Holocaust through pre-emptive measures, that I would require no advanced notice to understand why I would support the right of Israel to survive in a dangerous world.” '

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Saddam could have had nuclear weapons by mid-1990s

if he had not invaded Kuwait, the author of this article argues:

'By demonstrating Iraq’s vulnerability, the attack on Osirak actually increased Hussein’s determination to develop a nuclear deterrent and provided Iraq’s scientists an opportunity to better organize the program. The Iraqi leader devoted significantly more resources toward pursuing nuclear weapons after the Israeli assault. As Reiter notes, “the Iraqi nuclear program increased from a program of 400 scientists and $400 million to one of 7,000 scientists and $10 billion.”

Iraq’s nuclear efforts also went underground. Hussein allowed the IAEA to verify Osirak’s destruction, but then he shifted from a plutonium strategy to a more dispersed and ambitious uranium-enrichment strategy. This approach relied on undeclared sites, away from the prying eyes of inspectors, and aimed to develop local technology and expertise to reduce the reliance on foreign suppliers of sensitive technologies. When inspectors finally gained access after the 1991 Persian Gulf War, they were shocked by the extent of Iraq’s nuclear infrastructure and how close Hussein had gotten to a bomb.

Ultimately, Israel’s 1981 raid didn’t end Iraq’s drive to develop nuclear weapons. It took the destruction of the Gulf War, followed by more than a decade of sanctions, containment, inspections, no-fly zones and periodic bombing — not to mention the 2003 U.S. invasion — to eliminate the program. The international community got lucky: Had Hussein not been dumb enough to invade Kuwait in 1990, he probably would have gotten the bomb sometime by the mid-1990s.'

How Israeli leaders justified attack on Iraqi nuclear reactor in 1981

'On June 7, 1981, eight Israeli F-16 fighter jets, protected by six F-15 escorts, dropped 16 2,000-pound bombs on the nearly completed Osirak nuclear reactor at the Tuwaitha complex in Iraq. Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Defense Minister Ariel Sharon saw the reactor as central to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s quest to build nuclear weapons, and they believed that it posed an existential threat to Israel.

The timing of the strike was justified by intelligence reports suggesting that Osirak would soon become operational. Two days later, Begin explained the raid to the public: “We chose this moment: now, not later, because later may be too late, perhaps forever. And if we stood by idly, two, three years, at the most four years, and Saddam Hussein would have produced his three, four, five bombs . . . another Holocaust would have happened in the history of the Jewish people.” '

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Iranian Canadian sentenced to death in Iran for "desecrating Islam"

Amnesty International: 'Saeed Malekpour, a Canadian resident, was sentenced to death for "insulting and desecrating Islam" after a program he developed for uploading photos online had been used to post pornographic images without his knowledge.

Iran's 2009 law on “cyber crimes” allows the use of the death penalty. Malekpour, accused of being part of “a network of decadence on the Internet,” could be executed at any time.

Saeed Malekpour was arrested in 2008 when he went to Iran to visit his family. He was held in solitary confinement for a year, brutally tortured, and forced to make a “confession” which was aired on Iranian television. He was sentenced to death in October 2010 after a trial in a Revolutionary Court that lasted about 15 minutes; his death sentence was upheld in January 2012.'

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

American judge rules in favor of Sharia

Sometimes I am surprised by Americans and their perspectives on Islam. It is very strange to read about an American judge who ruled in favor of Sharia and against American law.

Addicting Info: "It was clearly an open and shut case of harassment but a judge in Pennsylvania didn’t see it that way and ruled against the victim. Of course, this happens sometimes in the American judicial system, only this time the ruling appears to have been entirely unconstitutional and may give conservatives a reason to ramp up their religious crusade.

Ernie Perce was seriously just walking down the street minding his own business while participating in a parade, when Talaag Elbayomy rushed from the crowd and harassed him.

Perce, an atheist, was dressed as a zombie version of Muhammad. Elbayomy, a Muslim, became offended and attacked him, grabbing Perce’s arm and trying to rip away the sign he was carrying. Open and shut, right? Wrong.

Despite admitting that Elbayomy harassed Perce, Judge Mark Martin ruled that Elbayomy had every right to do so because of Islamic law, which bans the insulting of Muhammad. In other words, Judge Martin ruled in favor of Sharia law.

Judge Martin didn’t just rule in favor of religious law, he also lectured and humiliated Perce. Martin told the court all about the time he has spent in Islamic nations and even gestured to a Koran he had in the courtroom. He then called Perce a ‘doofus.’ "

According to the court transcript, the Judge said:

“Well, having had the benefit of having spent over two-and-a-half years in predominantly Muslim countries, I think I know a little bit about the faith of Islam. In fact, I have a copy of the Quran here, and I would challenge you, Sir, to show me where it says in the Quran that Muhammad arose and walked among the dead. I think you misinterpreted a couple of things. So before you start mocking somebody else’s religion, you might want to find out a little more about it. It kind of makes you look like a doofus.

In many other Muslim-speaking countries, err, excuse me, many Arabic-speaking countries, predominantly Muslim, something like this is definitely against the law there, in their society. In fact, it could be punished by death, and frequently is, in their society."

The judge is correct: dressing up as a zombie version of the Prophet Muhammad would be punished in many Muslim countries, but I find it astonishing that an American judge would rule in favor of Sharia and would disregard Pennsylvania and US laws.

"There is no hope left in your kingdom"

A great song by Thievery Corporation encapsulates the feelings of poor people all over the world and how they feel about their kings:

There is no quidance in your kingdom
Your wicked walk in Babylon
There is no wisdom to your freedom
The richest man in babylon

Your beggars sleep outside your doorway
Your prophets leave to wonder on
You fall asleep at night with worry
The saddest man in Babylon

The wicked stench of exploitation
Hangs in the air and lingers on
Beneath the praise and admiration
The weakest man in Babylon

There is no hope left in your kingdom
Your servants have burned all their songs
Nobody here remembers freedom
The richest man in Babylon

Si la lou babylon go 'dain
Babylon gon' be rich again
But to we don' sick again
But no we no weak again
Babyloooon on on on on
(Rasta scat)
Sal la lou ca uba whoa
Si la douba douba do wa bay
Si la loo babylon come 'round
You better know you better understand
'Fact you know you better hear what they say
Babylon this is your final day
Babylon this is your final call
Read the writin' it's on the wall
Said United we stand
And together we fall
And if I know that
You're not 'gon catch me in a rat pack
We not go fallin' on your death trap
No way...

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Remembering Arab Perspectives on Iraq

On fb last night and this morning I read a comment by an Arab American (half Moroccan, half Italian, presumably living in USA) who said that Iraqis lived better under Saddam. She claimed "Iraqis had electricity and running water and all the basic needs under Saddam. Now I'm not saying I like the guy, but I am pointing out that Iraqis lived better under him. Setting foot in Iraq to "free" them was the worst thing the Americans could ever do."

I was surprised by her comment and I responded: "In general Iraq's Sunni Arabs lived better under Saddam. People who believe all Iraqis lived "better" under Saddam simply do not understand what Iraqi Shia went through for 24 miserable years. Iraqis had electricity and running water and all the basic needs under Saddam? Really? LOL! I guess the Sunni Arabs think so!"

I wanted to give her an example of how Iraqis in Basra were suffering in the 90s, so I transcribed a couple of paragraphs from Iraq Under Siege in which a Basrawi doctor was interviewed in 1996:

“Dr. Tarik Hasim Habeh, the young director of residents, had taken us through several children’s wards. Infant after infant lay wasting and skeletal in squalid conditions. We saw children suffering severe malnutrition, respiratory diseases, leukemia, and kidney disease. In one room, fourteen incubators were stacked against the wall, useless because of the lack of repair parts. The blood bank consisted of one miniature refrigerator and an ancient centrifuge.

Dr. Habeh explains that the hospital is chronically short-staffed. Doctors can’t earn enough to feed their families, sometimes making no more than $3 per month, so some work instead as taxi drivers, street vendors, or waiters. Many nurses also find it impossible to continue the work for which they were trained.”

She liked that comment and was friendly. She said she based her comment (the one about Iraqis living better under Saddam) on what her Iraqi Shia friends from college told her. Interesting. So Iraqi Shia have misinformed this woman, I thought. But most likely they were telling her that Iraqis had electricity and potable water in Baghdad before 2003. The fact is that "In the 1980s Iraq was producing around 9,000-9,500 megawatts. By 2002 it was only producing 4,075 megawatts."

The south was neglected during sanctions, and most Arabs don't understand this. They have the impression that all Iraqis lived better under Saddam. In the Arab mind, if Iraqis suffered in the 90s, it was because of US-imposed sanctions, not because of Saddam. I find this frustrating, and wanted to document a perspective that is probably shared by a majority of Arabs.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

3 out of 4 Syrians want Assad out

This is an interesting article that argues "Most Syrians back President Assad, but you'd never know from western media." The article cites a poll that reveals 55% of Syrians want Bashar al Assad to stay, fearing civil war if he's overthrown, but half of those who want him to stay want to see free elections in the near future. So basically 3 out of 4 Syrians want Bashar gone.

"The key finding was that while most Arabs outside Syria feel the president should resign, attitudes in the country are different. Some 55% of Syrians want Assad to stay, motivated by fear of civil war – a spectre that is not theoretical as it is for those who live outside Syria's borders. What is less good news for the Assad regime is that the poll also found that half the Syrians who accept him staying in power believe he must usher in free elections in the near future. Assad claims he is about to do that, a point he has repeated in his latest speeches. But it is vital that he publishes the election law as soon as possible, permits political parties and makes a commitment to allow independent monitors to watch the poll."

An Iraqi American friend (another Shiite!) posted on fb a recent video by a French filmmaker in Syria, and he commented "Bashar will go, it is a matter of time." Another friend posted the link to the Guardian article.

Hopefully the Allawites will not be attacked if Assad is overthrown. That is a big fear among older Shia, evidently. Also I heard on CNN last night (from Anderson Cooper's guest Robert Baer) that Syrian Christians are afraid of persecution by Sunni extremists if Assad is overthrown. I wanted to link to that interview, but the part where Bauer talks about Syrian Christians (at the end) is cut.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Obama has done it better

Another great stand up by Bill Maher, and this time it's online. It's mostly about American politics, but at about 25 minutes he compares Obama's foreign policy to George Bush's. Very funny satire. He also made good points, including: Bush spent a trillion dollars to get Saddam, and then Obama spent a billion dollars (1000 times less than a trillion) to get Qadhafi.

Maher says Obama did it better, and it's true. "It's called doing things smart," Maher says. Obama was lucky he didn't have to deal with Iraq, I've said before, but it's not over for Obama. The conflict in Syria could explode. World powers are calling for intense pressure on Assad.

At 20 min he talks about John Steinbeck's quote about socialism, which I happened to see on fb today: “Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.” Bill Maher replaced "embarrassed" with "inconvenienced" but I think he got the message across. Great show.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Assad dictatorship is nearing expiration

Fouad Ajami wrote another great article. I'm glad to see another Shiite condemning the Assad regime:

"Plainly, the Syrian tyranny's writ has expired. Assad has implicated his own Alawite community in a war to defend his family's reign. The ambiguity that allowed the Assad tyranny to conceal its minority, schismatic identity, to hide behind a co-opted Sunni religious class, has been torn asunder. Calls for a jihad, a holy war, against a godless lot have been made in Sunni religious circles everywhere.

Ironically, it was the Assad tyranny itself that had summoned those furies in its campaign against the American war in Iraq. It had provided transit and sanctuary for jihadists who crossed into Iraq to do battle against the Americans and the Shiites; it even released its own Islamist prisoners and dispatched them to Iraq with the promise of pardon. Now the chickens have come home to roost, and an Alawite community beyond the bounds of Islam is facing a religious war in all but name."

I remember all the Arabs, including the Angry Arab, who ridiculed and hated Fouad Ajami when he wrote so eloquently (I've quoted him many times) in support of the American effort to bring democracy to Iraq. I wonder if those Arabs still hate him.

Dozens killed across Iraq

WSJ: "A barrage of explosions and drive-by shootings killed dozens of people and wounded hundreds across Iraq on Thursday, in one of the bloodiest episodes of renewed violence in the wake of the U.S. military withdrawal from the country.

The attacks spanned six provinces, from Nineveh in the north, which borders Syria, to Babylon, south of Baghdad. They targeted security forces, local officials, busy neighborhoods, mosques and vital infrastructure such as telecommunications towers.

The capital, Baghdad, bore the brunt of the early-morning mayhem. Among the fallen were ordinary citizens, including a boy walking to school and office workers eating breakfast at a diner. By nightfall, security officials said at least 70 people had been killed and 374 wounded, with well over half of the casualties in Baghdad."

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

2 Western journalists killed in Syria

"A French photojournalist and a prominent American war correspondent working for a British newspaper were killed Wednesday as Syrian forces intensely shelled the opposition stronghold of Homs. President Bashar Assad's regime also escalated attacks on rebel bases elsewhere, with helicopter gunships strafing areas in the northwest, activists said."

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Some westerners charmed by Saudi Arabia, but...

"But the Kashgari affair shows a Saudi underbelly that is just plain revolting. There is nothing romantic about beheadings, and there is nothing romantic about religious zealotry. The kingdom, in fact, was founded by marrying the House of Saud with the zealous and intemperate Ikhwan, a fierce Bedouin tribal army. The alliance enabled Ibn Saud to conquer much of the Arabian Peninsula. It has been an absolute and extremely conservative monarchy ever since. Its state religion is the severe Wahhabi strand of Islam."

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Suicide bomber kills a dozen would-be students at Baghdad police academy

'A suicide car bomber has blown himself up in front of a Baghdad police academy, killing 15 people and wounding 21 others in the deadliest attack in the Iraqi capital in weeks, security officials said.

At least seven other people were killed in attacks elsewhere in Iraq.

The suicide bomber "blew himself up at the entrance of the police academy on Palestine Street" an interior ministry official said, putting the toll at 15 dead and 21 wounded.

A police colonel confirmed the toll.

The ministry official said the assailant was at the wheel of a car rigged with explosives and that most of the victims were students applying to join the police force.'

It boggles the mind to think that there are Muslims who would volunteer to wage such war against a Shiite-led government in Baghdad, almost a decade after Iraqi Shia were empowered by elections, by Iraqi voters. Do these suicide bombers really believe they are going to heaven?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Iran is not all Persian

An interesting interview with Ali Soufan, who reminds us that Iran is not all Persian. Iran's neighbors Azerbaijan, Turkey, and Armenia have influence in Iran because of the high numbers of Turkic peoples in Iran. 51% of Iran is Persian, smaller than I thought. The rest are Turkic, Arab, and others.

PS: I just read the very interesting Wiki entry on Ali Soufan. His experience is the reason we know now that torture does not work, and at least in one case torture stopped the flow of information.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Guns used to come from Syria into Iraq

Now it's the other way around.

NYT: 'Like Iraq and Afghanistan before it, analysts say, Syria is likely to become the training ground for a new era of international conflict, and jihadists are already signing up. This weekend, Al Qaeda’s ideological leadership and, more troublingly, the more mainstream Jordanian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, called for jihadists around the world to fight Mr. Assad’s government.

Nowhere is the cross-border nature of sectarian hostilities more clear than in Iraq’s western desert, where Sunni Arabs are beginning to rally to the cause of the Syrian opposition and, in the process, perhaps strengthen their hand in dealings with an antagonistic Shiite-led national government in Baghdad.

A weapons dealer who operates in Anbar, who said he goes by the alias Ahmed al-Masri, said, “Five months ago I was told that the Syrian brothers are in need of weapons. I started to buy the weapons from the same guys that I previously sold to — the fighters of Anbar and Mosul. I used to bring them from Syria; now it’s the other way around.” '

Friday, February 10, 2012

Saudi arrested for "blasphemous" tweets

He may get the death penalty. Shame on Malaysia for arresting him. I thought Malaysia was more tolerant than the kingdom of backward Arabs.

CSM: "A 23-year-old Saudi Twitter user, Hamza Kashgari, fled the country Sunday to avoid being arrested for his religious tweets, only to find himself in the hands of the Malaysian police today. He had been heading to New Zealand to request political asylum."

Today is the Prophet Muhammad's b-day, and the courageous writer thought he had freedom in KSA to publish these three tweets:

"On your birthday, I will say that I have loved the rebel in you, that you've always been a source of inspiration to me, and that I do not like the halos of divinity around you. I shall not pray for you.

On your birthday, I find you wherever I turn. I will say that I have loved aspects of you, hated others, and could not understand many more.

On your birthday, I shall not bow to you. I shall not kiss your hand. Rather, I shall shake it as equals do, and smile at you as you smile at me. I shall speak to you as a friend, no more."

Thanks Patrick for sharing.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

American justice may not be superior

Today I read about American-based Human Rights Watch's call on Iraq to end executions:"Iraqi authorities executed at least 65 people in the first 40 days of 2012 for various offenses, including 14 on a single day, Human Rights Watch said Thursday."

Today I also saw this on facebook:

I used to think American justice is superior to the rest of the world. The older I get and the more I learn, the more I realize American justice may not be superior.

CPA was a "disaster"

Joel Wing posted an interesting interview with Jerry Burke, an American who was head of the New England Institute of Law Enforcement Management in 2003. Mr. Burke was asked to assess the Iraqi police force in 2003 and he found them to be in "disarray". He also described the CPA as a "disaster":

"The Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) was an unmitigated disaster. Many of the people in the CPA came with neo-conservative political agendas. I can't tell you how many times in military, police, and security briefings I heard the phrase, "To create a free market economy,” as one of the goals. The irony was that many CPA officials would have been for small, decentralized, states rights style government back home, but were trying to build a large, strong centralized government in Iraq. Also, many of the, I don't know what else to call them, young kids in their 20s, came with recommendations from the Heritage Foundation, and other conservative organizations. Many were just out of college or were taking a gap year to have an adventure in Baghdad. Most of them would have been doing unpaid internships if it weren't for Iraq."

The documentary No End In Sight corroborates this sad story.

Iraq would be hurt if Iran closes Hormuz

"Iraq will lose the capacity to export 1.7 million barrels of crude a day if Iran blocks the Strait of Hormuz, the transit point for about two thirds of its production, an Oil Ministry spokesman said."

Thursday, February 02, 2012

It's good to be a liberal

In the last decade I have found myself at odds with some "liberals" (Arabs who are outraged by the murder of Iraqis only when Americans commit the murder, for example) but in the end I am a proud liberal. In American history, liberals have moved America forward, made America a better country. It's good to be a liberal!

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Obama on Syria's Assad: Human Dignity Cannot Be Denied

Obama just said that in his state of the union speech. He also said the US is determined in preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Egyptian Salafi party wins 25% of vote

"The Muslim Brotherhood, the country’s dominate political and religious force, won 47% of the 498 seats in the lower house of parliament, according to official final results. The ultraconservative Salafi Islamist party Al Nour won nearly 25%, followed by the secular parties New Wafd and the Egyptian Bloc, with about 9% each.

...The relatively moderate Brotherhood and the puritanical Salafis will likely battle over how deeply Islam should shape the constitution and be ingrained in public life. Both parties have said social and economic challenges are the most pressing concerns, but the Salafis, who receive funding from Persian Gulf nations, are certain to push for an Egypt more rooted in sharia, or Islamic law."

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Kuwaitis hated Saddam too

I stumbled upon this Wiki entry on Musallam Al-Barrak, member of the Kuwaiti National Assembly:

'On January 6, 2007, Al-Barrak called for halting foreign aid to Yemen and other countries that have seen protests against the execution of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. Al-Barrak strongly condemned the positions of Yemen, Libya, Fatah, Hamas, and certain groups in Jordan that deplored Saddam’s execution and hailed him as a martyr. Al-Barrak ridiculed Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh and Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, calling them “the orphans of Saddam Hussein who will face the same dark fate." Al-Barrak was quoted by the Kuwait Times as saying, "Yemen’s president has said that Saddam’s execution is an insult to all Arabs and we say that it is an insult to all leaders who oppress their people. Saddam has gone to the dustbin of history while his orphans Saleh and Gaddafi wait for their dark fate." Al-Barrak went on to say he regretted the flow of Kuwaiti financial aid to Yemen and other countries, the latest of which was a $200m interest-free loan to Yemen: “It appears that our destiny is to increase aid and help to countries while they increase their insults towards us. We urge the government to defend the dignity of the Kuwaiti people."'

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

"the system now is just like under Saddam"

'How do you make detainees confess? "We hang them from the ceiling and beat them until they are motionless corpses," he said. "Then they confess."

"Look," he added, "the system now is just like under Saddam: walk by the wall, don't go near politics and you can walk with your head high and not fear anything. But if you come close to the throne then the wrath of Allah will fall on you and we have eyes everywhere."'

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Explosion kills 53 Shia in Basra

"The explosion hit a tent where pilgrims were being fed around 8:30 a.m., killing at least 53 people, including several police officers at a nearby checkpoint, and wounding more than 130 others, local officials said."

PS: CNN says it was a suicide bomber: "A suicide bomber disguised as a policeman targeted Shiite pilgrims Saturday outside the southern Iraqi city of Basra, killing at least 53 people and wounding 137, the Interior Ministry said."

Friday, January 13, 2012

Would Iraqi Arabs fight Sunni Arab dominated states?

"The whole region is going to pay the price of the chaos that may occur in Iraq" if the political crisis continues and al-Maliki retains power, al-Mutlaq said. "Maybe what Iran wants to do is have the Arabs in Iraq fight (other Sunni-dominated Arab states) on behalf of their regime."

Is that what Iran wants? Would that be like the 8 year war that Iraqi Arabs fought against Iran on behalf of the Sunni Arab states?

Monday, January 09, 2012

Al Qaeda-linked group claims responsibility for Baghdad bombings

"A terrorist group affiliated with al-Qaeda has asserted responsibility for 37 recent attacks in Iraq’s capital, including what the organization called a failed attempt to assassinate the prime minister, as violence continued throughout the country Monday."

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Ahmad Hasan al Bakr died 3 months after Saddam took Presidency

I'm watching Saddam and the Third Reich on H2. I watched a shorter version of this documentary a couple of years ago. This version is two hours long and it contains footage I've never seen before. Also I learned something new: Ahmad Hasan al Bakr, the president of Iraq throughout the 70s, died mysteriously three months after Saddam put himself in charge of Iraq. After leaving Iraq, I often wondered what happened to al Bakr. According to this Wikipedia article, Ahmad Hassan al Bakr died in 1982. Somebody is wrong.

Conspiracy theories a currency of daily life in Iraq

'Even some supporters of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki criticized the decision to play the videotaped confessions of Mr. Hashimi’s bodyguards.

Iraqi judicial officials pulled out of a news conference the security forces called to announce the arrest warrant because the officials wanted to keep the confessions off the air. Ibrahim al-Sumaidaie, a political analyst close to Mr. Maliki, said broadcasting the confessions shredded due-process rules in Iraq’s Constitution and was reminiscent of how Saddam Hussein manipulated the news media to cow his enemies and expose endless plots against his government.

“It is a crime to put this on television,” Mr. Sumaidaie said. “It is a shame, and it is a legacy of the former dictator. The one who plays these confessions succeeds to divide the people between Shia and Sunni again. What is the benefit?”

But Iraqi officials have largely brushed off the criticism. In a country where conspiracy theories are the currency of daily life, the confessions and images of shackled prisoners offer convincing evidence that Iraqi officials are hunting down criminals.

“If we say we caught the leader of Al Qaeda, who will believe it?” said Maj. Gen. Adel Daham, an Interior Ministry official. “This is to show credibility. We are sure we are doing the right thing.” '

Conspiracy theories are popular among all Arabs, it seems.

Friday, January 06, 2012

Two Sunni soldiers killed trying to protect Shia pilgrims

'Meanwhile, top officials in Nasiriyah, worst hit by Thursday's bloodshed, held a funeral for two Sunni soldiers who, officers said, tried to prevent a suicide attack that killed 47 people in the southern city.

...Lieutenant Nazham Faleh and Private Ali Ahmed Sabah, both Sunnis from north of Baghdad, tried to wrestle the insurgent away from a crowd of Shiite pilgrims who were resting on their way to the shrine city of Karbala for Arbaeen commemorations, their commander said.

The bomber, who security officials said was carrying 35 kilograms (77 pounds) of explosives as well as nails and ball bearings, was nevertheless able to detonate his payload.

"If they did not do that, the number of casualties would have doubled because of the huge amount of explosives he was carrying, and the huge number of people around," said Colonel Sattar Jabbar al-Rizzi, commander of the Iraqi army brigade responsible for securing the area.'

Thanks Haydar for sharing.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

In 1914 there was a "striking variety" of people in Baghdad

Written by an American journalist and published by National Geographic in Dec. 1914:

'Americans in Bagdad are as yet an unknown quantity. For a year I lived there, the sole specimen of my kind. Yet the 180,000 inhabitants show a striking variety, almost justifying the tradition which locates the "Tower of Babel" near Bagdad. Certainly the mixed races in Bagdad produce even now a striking "confusion of tongues":

Sunni Moslems.......... 120,000
Shia Moslems............ 15,000
Jews.......................... 40,000
Chaldeans................. 1,600
Syrians..................... 1,200
Greeks....................... 150
Hindus....................... 75
Europeans.................. 40

The mixture preserves a peace balance, undoubtedly, and saves Bagdad from the race wars and massacres common in Asia Minor, where Moslem meets Christian.'

Interesting that in 1914 there were more Jews in Baghdad than Shia! Also I found this photo of wealthy Jewish homes in Baghdad very interesting:

Thanks Haydar for sharing!

US policy on Bahrain: a gap between American interests and American values

I was glad to hear NPR's Kelly McEvers report on Bahrain this morning:

'Bahrain's uprising didn't get quite as much attention as some of the others in the Arab world last year. But it was one of the first, beginning on Feb. 14.

...At first the protesters asked for things like an elected Parliament, a new constitution. But then when demonstrators started getting killed, tens of thousands of Bahrainis converged on a place called the Pearl Roundabout to call for the fall of the ruling Al Khalifa family.

Bahrain State TV called protesters traitors and agents of Iran, which is nearby and also has a Shiite majority.

...And so Bahrain became the one Arab country whose uprising was definitively put down. One reason, argues Toby Jones, a professor of Middle East history at Rutgers University, is that the United States and its allies wanted it that way.

For all America's talk during the Arab Spring about supporting those who seek freedom, Jones says, Bahrain was different.

"If there is a place globally where there is not just distance but a huge gap between American interests and American values, it's in the Persian Gulf," Jones says. "And its epicenter is in Bahrain. Bahrain is ground zero for the Arab Spring in the Persian Gulf. And the United States has chosen sides. It has decided that it wants to see the Bahraini regime survive and endure. And that's important not only for the American relationship with Bahrain but for Saudi Arabia."

The U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet is based in Bahrain, giving the U.S. a major presence that has only increased in significance following the U.S. withdrawal of forces from Iraq.

In addition, Saudi Arabia didn't want protests in its own backyard, Jones says. And it didn't want a Shiite-led uprising to encourage its archrival, Shiite-dominated Iran.'

An abundance of ignorance about Iraq

I just read this comment by a "Sven Auge Jensen" on NPR's article about today's bombings that targeted Shia in Iraq: "Let me see if I've got this right. We destroy the entire country. We remove the worlds second largest known oil reserves from the world market. People murdered and maimed. Treasure squandered. And if all that wasn't enough we hung the one guy that could keep this nation of maniacs in line."

Saddam was allowing takfiri idiots to roam Iraq throughout the 90s (there were Salafi ties to Iraq before 2003) and Saddam did not keep this "nation of maniacs in line" unless keeping the nation in line means mass murdering Iraqis who were critical of the government, plunging the nation into an 8-year war with Iran and then invading Kuwait and subjecting the nation to 40 consecutive days of intense bombing and cruel sanctions and putting down a popular uprising and killing 300,000 Iraqi Shia. And we did not remove Iraq's oil from the world market!

I can see how uneducated Sunni Arabs would believe this kind of crap. But a westerner named Sven? Sven also seems to believe America hung Saddam. No, Sven, you've got it all wrong. I see a lot of ignorance and twisting of truth on the web with respect to Iraq. It is annoying. I just wanted to vent.

Bombings kill 71 Shia in Iraq

"A string of explosions targeting Shiite Muslims that killed at least 71 people bore the hallmark of Sunni Arab insurgents who have a history of trying to capitalize on tensions among Iraqi politicians to reignite the communal violence that nearly tore the country apart."

Monday, January 02, 2012

Iraq War death toll: 162,000

"A report released today by Iraq Body Count -- an anti-war group that compiles statistics on confirmed deaths from violence in Iraq -- estimated that the death toll from the start of the Iraq war to the end of 2011 was approximately 162,000 people.

That figure includes US and other foreign troops, Iraqi government forces, members of militias both local and foreign, and civilians. The group found that a minimum of 114,212 civilians have been killed in the Iraq war to date."