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Index June 2008

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Azerbaijan: Human rights situation deteriorating

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… ahead of election

Received by mail:

From: HREA – Human Rights Education Associates and its Newsletter
Date: 25/06/2008

Strasbourg, 24.06.2008 – The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) today expressed great concern at the “deteriorating” human rights situation in Azerbaijan, undermining any efforts being made by the authorities to meet basic democratic standards in the forthcoming Presidential election.

In a resolution approved today, the parliamentarians spelled out a “road-map” of urgent steps to be taken ahead of the 15 October election, including:

• ensuring balanced election commissions and an efficient complaints procedure;
• providing free broadcast time and print space in state media under equal conditions for political parties and blocs;
• guaranteeing in practice the opposition’s right to hold public rallies.

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Blackwater, skirting federal law, using cache of AK-47s

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Published on rinf.com, By Joseph Neff, June 24th, 2008.

The private military company Blackwater has found an unusual way to skirt federal laws that prohibit private parties from buying automatic weapons. Blackwater bought 17 Romanian AK-47s and 17 Bushmasters, gave ownership of the guns to the Camden County sheriff and keeps most of the guns at Blackwater’s armory in Moyock.

Tiny Camden County — population 9,271 — is one of the most peaceful in North Carolina. In the last 10 years, there have been two murders, three robberies and seven rapes reported. The sheriff has just 19 deputies.

Sheriff Tony Perry said his department has never used the 17 AK-47s outside of shooting practice at Blackwater. None of his 19 deputies are qualified to use the AK-47s, Perry said, and his department’s need for automatic weapons is “very minimal.”

In the summer of 2005, Blackwater CEO Gary Jackson signed two agreements with Maj. Jon Worthington of the Sheriff’s Office. Worthington has worked as a firearms instructor for Blackwater.

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LAW SCHOOL TO ORGANIZE BUSH WAR CRIMES TRIAL

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Published on rinf.com, by Sherwood Ross, June 17th, 2008.

A conference to plan the prosecution of President Bush and other high administration officials for war crimes will be held September 13-14 at the Massachusetts School of Law at Andover.

“This is not intended to be a mere discussion of violations of law that have occurred,” said convener Lawrence Velvel, dean and cofounder of the school. “It is, rather, intended to be a planning conference at which plans will be laid and necessary organizational structures set up, to pursue the guilty as long as necessary and, if need be, to the ends of the Earth”

… He noted in the years since the prosecution and punishment of German and Japanese leaders after World War Two those nation’s leaders changed their countries’ aggressor cultures. One cannot discount contributory cause and effect here, he said.

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Chile bans whaling

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Linked with The RealNews.com.

Published on the real news, June 25, 2008.

The Guardian: Michelle Bachelet declares ban on whaling in Chilean waters. Listen the video.

More articles about:

Whaling and dolphin hunts;

Chile band whaling, on the guardian;

Chile bans whaling in its waters, TV.nz, June 24, 2008.

Court voids Gitmo ruling

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Linked with The RealNews.com.

Published on the real news, June 24, 2008.

The first successful appeal of a Guantanamo Bay detainee’s designation as an enemy combatant was decided on Tuesday. A federal appeals court in Washington overturned the Bush administration’s previous decision. The court ordered the government to release , transfer or offer Huzaifa Parhat, an ethnic Chinese Uighur, a new hearing. Michael Ratner says this decision coupled with last week’s Supreme Court ruling, that prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay can take their cases to the American courts, signals “the death knell for Guantanamo Bay”.

Michael Ratner says: This decision is the death knell for Guantanamo. Listen the video.

Links:

Guantanamo on wikipedia: Gitmo, the prison;Guantanamo Bay, the landscape;

Google search with key words Guantanamo Gitmo.

Women of Burma speak to the world

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Linked with WorldPulse Magazine.

Read the latest edition of WorldPulse Magazine, announced by their today’s newsletter:

In this edition we celebrate the brave women inside and outside Burma working tirelessly for sustainable change against a ruthless dictatorship. A chorus of leading voices will expose you to unrelenting hope amidst the struggle to free the people of Burma from humanitarian crimes that have been worsening for decades. Read on to discover what you can do to join hands with these valiant leaders and hasten Burma’s freedom.

It’s a Slippery Slope to War

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Congress May Endorse Acts of War Against Iran: Help Stop This – Ask Your Representative to Oppose H. Con. Res. 362

Linked with Just foreign policy.org.

Published on just foreign policy, by an Action Alert received by mail on 23/06/2008.

Dear Supporter of a Just Foreign Policy, The US House of Representatives is considering a new resolution1 that would effectively demand a blockade against Iran – an act that would be widely seen as an act of war and would invite Iranian retaliation.

Over the last three weeks, 77 House Democrats and 92 Republicans have agreed to cosponsor this resolution, but we think many do not realize its dangerous implications. Can you ask your Representative to oppose this dangerous step toward war with Iran?

This resolution demands that President Bush “initiate an international effort” to impose a land, sea, and air blockade on Iran to prevent it from importing gasoline and to inspect all cargo entering or leaving Iran. Such a blockade imposed without United Nations authority (which the resolution does not call for) would be seen as an act of war.

Congressional sources say the House could vote on the resolution, H.Con.Res. 362, as early as this week.

Congressional leaders seem to have assumed that there would be little opposition to this punitive measure against Iran, and they have put it on a fast track to passage. But due to the threat of war, many organizations and reasonable Members of Congress are working overtime to stop this bill.

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Agribusiness vs. food security

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… The food crisis and the IFIs (international financial institutions)

Published on STWR, (original source, 17 June 2008).

The food crisis has decisive implications for the future role of international financial institutions – and is calling into question the basis of their approach to development, argues the Bretton Woods Project.

The causes of and remedies for the food crisis are hotly contested; how this rupture in the status quo is resolved will have decisive implications for the roles of the IFIs as well as more broadly for global food security and ecological sustainability.

The UN estimates that the recent food price increase will add 100 million to the over 850 million people who were already short of food. The IFIs trace 15 per cent of the increase to higher energy and fertilizer costs linked to skyrocketing oil prices, and another 15 – 30 per cent to the impact of biofuels. They have been silent on the role of speculative financial capital, which Peter Rosset, researcher at the Centro de Estudios para el Cambio en el Campo Mexicano, calls “one of the most important” short-term causes. Other short-term factors include record-low food stocks and severe weather events such as last year’s Australian drought …

… While most civil society organisations would agree both on the need for increased investment in research and the need to end bio-fuel subsidies, that is where the similarities end. NGO Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy insists that the Doha round would lead both to increased dependency of poor countries on food imports, and increased volatility in food prices.

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La charte des Droits de l’enfant dans le Sport

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1. un enfant a le droit de faire du sport;

2. le droit de faire du sport pour le plaisir et de jouer comme un enfant;

3. le droit de bénéficier d’un milieu sain;

4. le droit d’être respecté et traité avec dignité;

5. le droit d’être entraîné et entouré par des personnes compétentes;

6. le droit de participer à des entrainements et des compétitions adaptés à ses capacités;

7. le droit de se mesurer à des jeunes qui ont les mêmes probabilités de succès;

8. le droit de faire du sport pour la santé en toute sécurité et sans dopage;

9. le droit d’avoir le temps de repos;

10. le droit d’être ou de ne pas être un champion.  Continue Reading…

Afghanistan’s killing fields

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The Taliban’s Tet has begun

Linked with Eric Walberg – Canada

Published on Online Journal, by Eric Walberg, June 20, 2008.

Two landmarks in Afghanistan last week — British troop deaths surpassed 100, and monthly official coalition deaths now outnumber official coalition deaths in Iraq. Pentagon officials said that in May 16 coalition troops were killed in Iraq, 14 of them American, while 18 coalition troops were killed in Afghanistan, 13 of them American …

… In the current jail, two detainees were killed after being repeatedly struck by their American guards. There have been numerous allegations of abuse at the facility, with prisoners claiming to have been sexually humiliated, beaten, stripped naked and thrown down stairs during their interrogations. Nielson-Green, however, denies that detainees at Bagram have been ill-treated. I shudder to think what Nielson-Green considers to be “ill treatment.”

Until September 2004, Bagram served largely as a way station for prisoners on the way to the real Guantanamo. US officials deny allegations that children as young as nine have been imprisoned at the facility. Speaking of sexual abuse, Canadian troops have recently been under fire for their “don’t look, don’t tell” policy with regards to widespread sexual abuse of civilians by Afghan government troops the Canadians are training.

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A Revolutionary Identity

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Published on Monthly Review, by Forrest Hylton, 2008.

A review of Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, Blood on the Border: A Memoir of the Contra Years (Boston: South End Press, 2005), 304 pages, paperback, $18.00.

3 excerpts: … Dunbar-Ortiz’s personal-political response to the agonizing death of the New Left meant that in addition to alcoholism and domestic violence, both of which surfaced as problems in New Orleans, she confronted unexplored contradictions of the settler-colonial mentality with which she was raised. Her violent, alcoholic mother was said to have been part Cherokee and her maternal grandmother’s people had settled in Missouri after leaving Tennessee, but Dunbar-Ortiz’s Native American ancestry was a well-guarded family secret. Leaving home at fifteen, fleeing her mother’s drunken rampages, Dunbar-Ortiz would have had little occasion to reflect on family life in the tumult of the 1960s and early 1970s. However, as she organized with the American Indian Movement (AIM), she began to see her family history as “a contradiction or amalgamation of those two forces—settlers on Indian lands and resistance by the indigenous inhabitants”. This meant overcoming the shame of Indian ancestry that had been deeply instilled in childhood, in stark contrast to the quiet pride she felt with respect to her paternal grandfather’s radical activism in the Industrial Workers of the World and the Socialist Party …

… The Sandinista revolution burst onto the world scene a year before Ronald Reagan was elected pledging to rid Nicaragua of its “godless, communistic” government, but President Carter laid the groundwork for what was to come. Aged forty-two, Dunbar-Ortiz spent 1980 working at the UN in New York, before deciding that local organizing in New Mexico would have to give way to international work. Once there, she felt she could not sit back as Nicaragua burned in the flames of yet another Washington-led counter-insurgency war, so she resigned from the University of New Mexico, where she directed the Institute for Native American Development that she and activists from the Navajo Community College–Shiprock and others had founded in 1978.

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China: after the quake, the debate

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Published on openDemocracy, by Li Datong, June 19, 2008.

… China’s two faces:

This short episode is highly symbolic. It is widely acknowledged that since establishing its government in 1949, the efforts of the Chinese Communist Party to instill its morals in the people have been unceasing. The classic method of propagating moral values has been the creation of “heroes”, of whom Lei Feng is the most well-known. These heroes all share similar characteristics: they do as the party says, they are selfless, they “serve the people with all their hearts”, and in times of crisis they bravely sacrifice their lives for the good of the people. Even during the cultural revolution, when traditional values were completely overturned, these “heroes” were never criticised. But in real life, the vast majority of people cannot live up to such ideals.

This reality, in combination with forceful moral education, has led to Chinese people becoming two-faced. In public people mimic the official line and are full of fine words. Only in private, among friends and family, can people stop pretending to be so noble and just be themselves. This split personality remains one of the defining national characteristics of the Chinese. In some ways this shows their great survival skills …

… He appeared as a guest on the Hong Kong television station Phoenix, where he came face-to-face with his critics. This programme aroused huge public interest and recordings appeared all over the internet.

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Council of Europe launches pan-European campaign …

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… against corporal punishment of children

Received by mail:

From: HREA – Human Rights Education Associates and its Newsletter
Date: 16/06/2008.

Zagreb, Croatia, Sunday, 15 June – The initiative, under the slogan “Raise your hand against smacking” aims at achieving full prohibition of corporal punishment of children, promoting positive parenting and raising awareness of children’s rights throughout Europe.

“The European Convention on Human Rights is for everyone and there is no footnote in it which says that the human rights are for adults only,” said Council of Europe Deputy Secretary General Maud de Boer-Buquicchio at the launching ceremony.

“Abolishing corporal punishment against children is not a matter of opinion polls; it is a matter of vision and political leadership,” she continued.

“Why is it that if we hit an adult we are liable to prosecution, and if we hit a child nothing happens? It is up to the adult world to ensure that this changes,” she concluded.

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Iraqi refugees facing desperate situation

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Published on Amnesty International, June 15, 2008.

IRAQ: Rhetoric and reality, the Iraqi refugee crisis

AI Index: MDE 14/011/2008, International Secretary, UK.

Download the 66 pdf-pages.

How About A Fatwa …

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… Against Triple Talaq, Wife Beating, Child Marriage …

Pulished on Countercurrents.org, by A. Faizur Rahman, 17 June, 2008.

That the fatwa against terrorism issued by the Darul Uloom Deoband is a positive development in Indian political history was proved by the fact that it was supported even by the anti-Muslim BJP. And there can be no doubt that it sent a strong message to the extremists exploiting Islam to gain gullible recruits for their unIslamic cause. But unfortunately, Muslim organisations have not shown the same interest and alacrity in clarifying their position on a host of other issues, particularly those concerning women.

An article in The Times of India (The ulema strike back, June 15) quoted Mahmood Madani of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind as saying that the ulema were forced to issue this fatwa because the western media had not stopped demonizing Islam. According to the same article, Kamal Farooqui of the Muslim Personal law Board was of the opinion that the “new awaking” among the ulema was in response to secularists’ accusation that they were not coming out openly against terrorism …

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The Beginning Of Global Order

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Linked with Pablo Ouziel – Spain.

Published on Countercurrents.org, by Pablo Ouziel, 15 June, 2008.

Yesterday, as I drove on the motorway towards Barcelona, I was overcome with tears. Lining the roads were truckers slowing the traffic, waving banners and making noise to be heard in order to be understood, while the rest of the drivers in their cars were feeling annoyed at the inconvenience of a minority obstructing their daily routine. The radio was repeating negative messages about the truckers, the politicians were repeating over and over again that these people were a minority, and that the rest of us should not worry, because they would not achieve the goal of disrupting the flow of petrol or the arrival of goods from one point to another.

As this was happening in Spain, discontented truckers in different points of the planet were also complaining. Their complain was a simple one, ³We can no longer afford to feed our families². Yet, solidarity is running so short these days, that isolated groups get affected by the global economic situation, while the rest of us continue our routine without paying much attention to their pleas. What people are failing to see, is the connection between the truckers today, the fishermen a few weeks ago, the homeowners losing their homes, and the global revolts because of rising food prices. The people being affected directly are giving us a warning of things to come, and the only way this can be reversed, is if we group together and begin to show support to those who are feeling the pain right now.
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The Charms of Wikipedia

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Linked with Nicholson Baker – USA

Published on The New York Review of Books, by Nicholson Baker, March 20, 2008.

Wikipedia is just an incredible thing. It’s fact-encirclingly huge, and it’s idiosyncratic, careful, messy, funny, shocking, and full of simmering controversies—and it’s free, and it’s fast. In a few seconds you can look up, for instance, “Diogenes of Sinope,” or “turnip,” or “Crazy Eddie,” or “Bagoas,” or “quadratic formula,” or “Bristol Beaufighter,” or “squeegee,” or “Sanford B. Dole,” and you’ll have knowledge you didn’t have before. It’s like some vast aerial city with people walking briskly to and fro on catwalks, carrying picnic baskets full of nutritious snacks.

More people use Wikipedia than Amazon or eBay – in fact it’s up there in the top-ten Alexa rankings with those moneyed funhouses MySpace, Facebook, and YouTube. Why? Because it has 2.2 million articles, and because it’s very often the first hit in a Google search, and because it just feels good to find something there – even, or especially, when the article you find is maybe a little clumsily written. Any inelegance, or typo, or relic of vandalism reminds you that this gigantic encyclopedia isn’t a commercial product. There are no banners for E*Trade or Classmates.com, no side sprinklings of AdSense …

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World Day against Child Labour 2008

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Published on HREA.org, June 12, 2008.

This year the World Day against Child Labour will be marked around the world with activities to raise awareness that education is the right response to child labour: education for all children at least to the minimum age of employment; education policies that address child labour by provision of properly resourced quality education and skills training; and education to promote awareness on the need to tackle child labour.

The ILO has estimated that some 165 million children between the ages of 5 and 14 are involved in child labour. Many of these children work long hours, often in dangerous conditions. Child labour is closely associated with poverty. Many poor families are unable to afford school fees or other school costs. The family may depend on the contribution that a working child makes to the household’s income, and place more importance on that than on education. And when a family has to make a choice between sending either a boy or girl to school, it is often the girl who loses out …

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Toward a Philosophy of Thinking

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30th Anniversary Conference of the Institute for the Advancement of Philosophy for Children IAPC

Linked with Matthew Lipman – USA, and with Cours à distance la philosophie pour les enfants.

The violence prevention team’s ALLOCUTION ORIGINALE (en version anglaise) – The present paper is a transcription of a conference given as part of the Philosophy for Children – Research published on LaTraversee.com, not dated.

Excerpt: … For a child living in an incestuous family, love becomes perverted. As Ferenczi used to say, there is linguistic confusion. Children need to be loved, and therefore spontaneously seeks love from their parents and loved ones. A parent who sexualizes love with his or her child not only breaks a prohibition but makes the very notion of love confusing to the child. The trauma lies partially in the confusion between the type of love that the child feels for the parent and the kind of love received. The violence lies, on one hand, in the breaking of the prohibition and, on the other hand, in the very fact that the child is placed in a (sexual) situation that he or she cannot understand.

It is a kind of abduction, a despoiling of the child’s intention (affection) by the adult, who uses an erotized and sexualized relationship to change and pervert the child’s initial intention and desire to be loved. The child will have trouble dissociating fond love from erotized love, which will make him or her vulnerable to victimization.

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American Complicity III

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Published on Countercurrents.org, by Timothy V. Gatto, 12 June, 2008.

Read also:

These are the darkest days that I’ve ever seen in this country. There are so many Americans walking around completely clueless about what is really happening in this country. I’ve been wondering why the government has released so many formerly “Secret” files on how we overturned governments around the world and how we forced “regime changes” and how many people we were responsible for helping to massacre since the end of WWII. I think I’ve figured it out. It isn’t that out government “wants to come clean”, rather it wants to inure the American people to bloodshed for economic reasons.

This way Americans can say; “Well we’ve been doing it all along, what’s the difference now?” So what if we’ve dropped white phosphorus and napalm on the city of Falluja? So what if we have dumped 350 tons of depleted uranium on Iraq, so what if Lancet reports that we have killed over one million two hundred thousand innocent Iraqi’s? Isn’t this the cost they must pay to be part of the American Empire? The hydrocarbon laws that demand 80% of the oil fields in Iraq should be part of their payment for “freeing” them. They just don’t realize that we’re just trying to bring them “democracy”.

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Selling War – What WE Say Goes

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Linked with Walter J.”John” Williams – USA.

Published on Countercurrents.org, by Gunnar Garbo, 10 June, 2008.

Introduction at the Conference on the Implications of Language for Peace and Development, (IMPLAN), University of Oslo, May2, 2008.

When Hitler’s troops invaded Norway in 1940, their bomber planes also spread leaflets declaring that the troops considerately came to protect the Norwegian people and secure our freedom and independence. In warfare lies like these are common. Recently two non-profit journalism organizations in the US documented that during the first two years after 11 September President Bush and his top officials issued at least 935 false statements about reasons for attacking Iraq. Bush led with 259 lies …

… Terrorism is not an armed enemy. It is a concept naming a special way of fighting, the harassing of people in order to bend their leaders to the will of the harassers. Western governments tend to define it as a cruel tool solely used by rebels. But in fact militant states are terrorizing people much more devastatingly than insurgent movements.

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Training Opportunity for Asian IDPs

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Video Advocacy Workshop for Asian Forced Displacement Activists

Received by mail:

From: Ryan Schlief of WITNESS
Date: 10/06/2008

Dear friends, We want to let you know of an exciting opportunity in which WITNESS is involved. In September, WITNESS is a training partner in a Video Advocacy Workshop organized by the International Accountability Project. It is for Asian activists who are challenging forced eviction and other human rights abuses that occur in the name of development.

When: September 15-26, 2008
Where: in Chiang Mai, Thailand
Application Deadline: June 30, 2008

The workshop will train activists in our highly effective methodology for integrating video advocacy into human rights campaigns.

Here’s how to apply to the Workshop.

Please pass this notice on to groups and individuals who might be interested. The workshop has been developed in partnership with the International Accountability Project, EarthRights International and the Unit for Social and Environmental Research at Chiang Mai University.

Follow this link for complete information about this workshop and application materials.

If you have any questions not answered in these materials, please e-mail the International Accountability Project coordinators. Sincerely, Ryan Schlief, Program Coordinator for Asia.

Genocide by design?

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Bush Administration Plans to Stay in Iraq for the Oil

Published on OpEdNews, by Len Hart, June 6, 2008.

Just as Bush’s attack and invasion of Iraq had nothing to do with WMD, the Iragi resistance has nothing to do with ‘terrorism’. The original code name – Operation Iraqi Liberation (OIL) – gave the game away and was changed. Never called ‘resistance’, the Orwellian linguists inside the Bush White House called the resistance ‘insurgents’. a term which implies an opposition to a ‘legitimate’ authority. But there is nothing legitimate about the US occupation, in fact, a theft of Iraq’s most valuable natural resource. The US presence is, in fact, a war crime. Those resisting the US occupation are, therefore, not terrorists nor are they ‘insurgents’.

The Bush regime is responsible – legally and morally – for the deaths of some 1.2 million Iraqis and some 15,000 who die each month. [See: Michael Schwartz, Is the United States Killing 10,000 Iraqis Every Month? Or Is It More?]. The US, under Bush, is a terrorist nation and outlaw. Iraqi resistance, by contrast, is that of ‘patriots’ defending a ‘homeland’ against the crimes of mass murder, terrorism, and grand larceny … (full text, June 6, 2008).

Revealed: Secret plan to keep Iraq under US control

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Linked with Patrick Cockburn – Ireland.

Published on The Independent, by Patrick Cockburn, 5 June 2008.

Bush wants 50 military bases, control of Iraqi airspace and legal immunity for all American soldiers and contractors – A secret deal being negotiated in Baghdad would perpetuate the American military occupation of Iraq indefinitely, regardless of the outcome of the US presidential election in November

… Iraq’s Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, is believed to be personally opposed to the terms of the new pact but feels his coalition government cannot stay in power without US backing.

The deal also risks exacerbating the proxy war being fought between Iran and the United States over who should be more influential in Iraq.

Although Iraqi ministers have said they will reject any agreement limiting Iraqi sovereignty, political observers in Baghdad suspect they will sign in the end and simply want to establish their credentials as defenders of Iraqi independence by a show of defiance now. The one Iraqi with the authority to stop deal is the majority Shia spiritual leader, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani. In 2003, he forced the US to agree to a referendum on the new Iraqi constitution and the election of a parliament. But he is said to believe that loss of US support would drastically weaken the Iraqi Shia, who won a majority in parliament in elections in 2005.
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