BULLY BOY PRESS & CEDRIC'S BIG MIX -- THE KOOL-AID TABLE
CONFRONTED WITH THE ALLEGATIONS THAT MONEY IS BUYING ACCESS AND POSSIBLY INFLUENCE AT THE WHITE HOUSE, CELEBRITY IN CHIEF BARRY O DECLARED THAT WAS NOT WHAT WAS HAPPENING.
"WHAT'S GOING ON," HE EXPLAINED, "IS THAT I JUST HAVE A LITTLE FAN CLUB AND THEY PAY DUES AND IF THEY PAY SAY X, THEY GET TO HAVE LUNCH WITH ME. AND IF THEY PAY Y, THEY GET A CALL FROM ME. HEY, IF THEY PAY Z, I'LL EVEN GIVE THEM A WAKE UP KISS AND FIX PANCAKES AND BACON."
"THEY'RE FANS," BARRY INSISTED. "FANS. THEY'LL DO ANYTHING. THEY'LL PAY ANYTHING. IT'S A MUTUALLY REWARDING RELATIONSHIP."
FROM THE TCI WIRE:
Today the US military announced: "JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq – A Soldier who was currently assigned to the 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) died Wednesday of a non-combat related injury at Camp Adder, Iraq. The name of the deceased is being withheld pending notification of next of kin and release by the Department of Defense.The names of service members are announced through the U.S. Department of Defense official website at http://www.defenselink.mil/releases/. The announcements are made on the Web site no earlier than 24 hours after notification of the service member's primary next of kin. The incident is under investigation." The announcement brings the total number of US service members killed in Iraq to 4353.
Meanwhile Sunday's Baghdad bombings have pretty much erased the August Baghdad bombings ("Bloody Wednesday," "Black Wednesday," "Gory Wednesday," "Iraq's 9-11," etc.). Press TV reports, "Iraq has arrested some 60 security forces over the weekend twin bombings which targeted government buildings in Baghdad, killing up to 153 people." The Sentinel states the 60 were compoes of "11 army officers and 50 security officials". Xinhua adds, "The arrested were in charge of providing security for a downtown Baghdad district which was hit by the deadly suicide attacks that targeted government buildings, Major General Qassim Atta said." BBC News notes, "The BBC's Gabriel Gatehouse in Baghdad says it is not clear whether those arrested are accused of negligence or collusion. However, he added, it seems to confirm what many people have suspected - that the security forces are susceptible to infiltration by insurgents or are just not up to the job." Reuters reports Qassim al-Moussawi, spokesperson for Baghdad security, "said that officers, foot soldiers and police in areas where attacks happen would be arrested in the future and placed under investigation." Jomana Karadsheh (CNN) adds, Baghdad Governor "Abdul Razzaq said security forces made mistakes and were negligent in their work, and he demanded a court-martial for those who allowed explosive-laden vehicles to get through checkpoints." Karadsheh also notes the number arrested is 61. Timothy Williams and Mohammed Hussein (New York Times) explain, "The statement Thursday that announced the arrest order came from Baghad Operations Command, which is responsible for security in the capital and reports directly to Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki. The statement did not offer any further details, so it remained unclear whether the 61 security force members were suspected of having adied those who carried out the attacks."
The death toll for the Sunday bombings is at least 155 and does include children. Mohammed Jamjoom (CNN) reports:The force of the blast threw Rawnaq against the wall of her office at the Ministry of Justice. She instantly thought of her two children in the day care center just two floors below."I rushed downstairs and found all the children under the rubble," says Rawnaq, "My daughter Tabarak was standing near the stairs. My son Hamoodi outside. Me and a colleague took them out, running. A police car drove us to the hospital."Both children were injured, 3-year-old Tabarak much more so than her 2-year-old brother. Severe head and back injuries have left the little girl needing extensive surgery and unable to sleep due to unceasing pain. She is also deeply afraid.
Back in August, the day before Bloody Wednesday, Iraqi Thug and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was in Syria where he was demanding that nearly 200 Iraqis be handed over to Iraq. It was all like a bad acid flashback since Nouri spent years in Syria and the Syrians refused to turn him over at the whims of Saddam Hussein. Nouri was grateful back then, now he's just a raging drama queen. Bloody Wednesday came the next day and Nouri immediately blamed the bombings on Syria. He and his spokespeople and cabinet would sometimes say that it was former Ba'athists in Syria. Sometimes. Mainly they would rail against Syria. That hasn't ceased all this time later. Phil Sands (Le Monde) offers today that "Syria is perhaps the only country in the Arab middle east that can truly claim to be independent from the US, and Damascus remains a thorn in the side of American regional ambitions. [. . .] In the post-Saddam Hussein world, the Iraqi government is jealous of its sovereignty, an independence that goes only as deep as the presence of more than 100,000 American soldiers on Iraqi soil allows. There is little sign a planned pull-out will be complete." Syria has a huge number of Iraqi refugees and we'll turn now to the topic of Iraqi refugees. Joseph A. Kechichian (Gulf News) explains:
According to the International Organisation on Migration, there are still 1.6 million internally displaced Iraqis who cannot "return home". Many are trying to survive "without work, their own home, schooling for children, access to water, electricity and health care". These refugees are Iraqi citizens who are not represented in government but whose fates will probably determine whether the pool from which opposition forces can recruit bombers will shrink. As it is widely recognised, remnants of the Baath party or any number of the security services created by the old regime are still active, even if Baghdad and its allies continue to hearken to Al Qaida.
The United Nations' World Food Program has launched "a pilot project in Damascus" in which food vouchers are distributed "in the form of mobile phone text messages to Iraqi refugees. [. . .] Around one thousand families are involved in the four-month pilot phase, which will be extended if it is successful. The project has been developed in cooperation with the Syrian government, enabling the refugees to redeem their vouches in state-run stores in the Jaramana and Sayeda Zeinab neighourhoods of Damascus. The mobile phone service provider MTN has donated SIM cards for the project." Cassandra Vinograd (Wall St. Journal) reported Tuesday, "In the WFP program, each family will receive one $22 voucher per person every two months. After each transaction, families will receive an updated balance, also sent by SMS to their mobile numbers -- free of charge. There are more than 1.2 million displaced Iraqis in Syria, according to government figures. To date, about 130,000 regularly receive food assistance from WFP with complimentary food and non-food assistance from the U.N.'s refugee agency." Though some have criticized the WFP for targeting people with cell phones (under the mistaken belief that refugees wouldn't have them), Richard Spencer (Telegraph of London) reports, "The discovery that most of the 130,000 people to whom the organisation provided food vouchers had mobile phones gave officials the idea for the pilot scheme, to be targeted at 1,000 families in the first instance." Laura MacInnis (Reuters) quotes Emilia Casella, WFP spokesperson, stating, "They will be able to exchange their electronic vouchers for rice, wheat, flour, lentils, chickpeas, oil and canned fish, as well as cheese and eggs -- items that cannot usually be included in conventional aid baskets." Saeed Ahmed (CNN) quotes Casella stating, "It infuses some contribution to the communities, because we're not giving food away. They have to go to the local shops to buy it." Staying with Syria, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees expects more Iraqi refugees to flee to Syria as a result of Sunday's bombings. EU News Network states UNHCR spokesperson Andrej Mahecic "told a delegation in Geneva earlier this month that the United Nations recommended the resettlement of more than 80,000 Iraqi refugees to other countries." Meanwhile UNHCR is building homes in Taza, Iraq following bombings there this sumemr which ledft many people homeless, "Immediately after the blast, UNHCR field staff visited Taza to assess the damage and to distribute emergency aid to the survivors. The team found that about 160 houses, mostly made from mud bricks, had been totally destroyed and some 400 damaged. As a result, around 3,500 people were left without shelter. The refugee agency immediately swung into action, funding the reconstruction of 150 collapsed homes and the renovation of 73 shops and two other buildings in Shorja Market. The work was carried out by an Iraqi implementing partner as part of UNHCR's emergency shelter programme which has helped rehabilitate some 10,000 conflict-damaged buildings for refugees and internally displaced Iraqis and aims to double this figure in 2010." But in Syria, IRIN reports, a significant number of Iraqis are attempting to win asylum "across the Middle East to Europe and North America" and they note, "A year after its launch, strikingly few Iraqis have taken up the UN's Voluntary Repatriation Programme. Less than 300 families from Syria have returned to Iraq under the programme, though the number claiming resettlement has grown rapidly."
The Chicago Tribune did a multi-article series at the start of the week on Iraqi refugees in the US. The paper noted of one group: "Back home, they worked for the Americans, as translators, project specialists and office managers. For that, they received death threats from militants opposed to the U.S., and they ask to remain anonymous, fearing retribution against relatives in Iraq." Then there's Layla Mousa whose husband is in Jordan while she and their three children are in Chicago where she struggles to make ends meet, find work (she's a hair dresser) and rebuffs offers of payment for sex and states, "Now I want to go back to Iraq, not even Jordan. America is just a lie." Layla Mousa is among the Iraqi refugees who Ahlam Mahmoud attempts to asist even though she herself is a refugee: "She didn't have it easy herself. When she and her two children arrived in Chicago in 2008, she had only the clothes she was wearing when she left Syria, where, she says, she was imprisoned for refusing to spy on foreigners. The apartment they got in Chicago had three beds, one plate, a fork, a spoon and two knives." In Syria, Ahlam Mahmoud was also someone refugees turned to. Using her own resourceful nature, she quickly began developing a network of assistance and advice. Due to her connections, the Syrian government attempted to force her to spy on other Iraqi refugees. She refused and was thrown into prison. When the outcry and attention became too much, the Syrian govenment ordered her released from prison and she was quickly transported to the US. Also attempting to assist other refugees is Fatima Hindi who became an Iraqi government official, was then kidnapped and sought Egypt and then the US for safety along with her three-year-old daughter Takwa. She states, "They kidnapped me because of America. America couldn't protect me. When I first got here, I cried on the street."
Today Nancy Eshelman (Patriot-News) reports on Iraqi refugee Zina Alkubaisy who ended up in the United States with her husband and their children following her husband's kidnapping: "Alkubaisy began working the phones. She contacted people who knew people and eventually learned what militant group had snatched her husband. Her connections arranged to have him released the next day. But a chilling phone call warned the couple they would not be so lucky the next time. It would be in their best interest to leave the country."
The October 22nd snapshot noted the United Nations High Commisoner for Refguees (UNHCR) released a new report entitled "Asylum Levels and Trends in Inudstrialized Countries First Half 2009: Statistical overview of asylum applications lodged in Europe and selected non-European countries." The report found that Iraqis continued to be the number one aslyum-seekers around the globe. Last Friday UNHCR's Andrej Mahecic spoke on the issue of Iraqi refugees and the forcible deportation of them:
UNHCR is concerned about the fact that some European states have begun forcibly returning Iraqi originating from the region of Central Iraq over the last few months. In our guidelines issued last April, we noted that in view of the serious human rights violations and continuing security incidents throughout Iraq, most predominantly in the central governorates, asylum-seekers from these governorates should be considered to be in need of international protection. UNHCR therefore advises against involuntary returns to Iraq of persons originating from Central Iraq until there is a substantial improvement in the security and human rights situation in the country.
This reminder comes after the UK attempted to forcibly return 44 Iraqi men to Baghdad earlier this month. They were reportedly unsuccessful asylum claimants held in immigration removal centres in the UK. Iraq only accepted 10 who were allowed to leave the chartered aircraft in Baghdad, and the remaining 34 were returned to the UK and placed in immigration centres.
Other European states have signed readmission agreements with Iraq for voluntary and forced return. Denmark has forcibly returned 38 people originating mainly from Central and Southern Iraq since signing its agreement in May 2009. Sweden has undertaken some 250 forced returns with an unspecified number of returnees originating from the five central governorates of Iraq since signing an agreement in February 2008. UNHCR has also concerns about the safety and dignity of these returns.
Concerning asylum-seekers from the three northern governorates, as well as those from the southern governorates and Al Anbar, UNHCR recommends that their protection needs are assessed on an individual basis.
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