Iraqi Labor

by bicyclemark

The media conversation about the goings-on in Iraq doesn’t get much beyond the religious divisions and political executions. When it does, it certainly doesn’t make the front pages.

Over the weekend my Radio Labor Start Podcast feed included a recent episode of building bridges, the labor radio program from WBAI in NYC and an old favorite of mine. I expected the usual discussion of labor organizing in the US. But this episode featured a labor leader from Iraq.

Complete with translator, the IRaqi talked about the struggle of organized labor since the early 20th century in Iraq. Beyond that, he spoke about how the current government is passing laws that allow labor organizers to be arrested, tortured, and killed. While workers for sectors like oil and power, struggle to organize themselves and demand a living wage.

While we’ve long read about how terrible this current Iraqi government is, I hadn’t heard about it’s despicable labor policies. It is as if part of bringing “freedom” to Iraq involves making sure the labor movement is destroyed.

Highly recommended listening.

Congressional Pork Crimes

by bicyclemark

All the critics are up-in-arms at the shocking development last week, that congress voted to give the GWBush his war money. Obviously they’re outraged because the party they were convinced would represent their opposition to the war, did not do what they were elected to do.

Yet the disappointment doesn’t end there. Because this was all part of “making a deal”. According to this deal, if congress votes to give billions to kill more Iraqi’s, in exchange, they will get their minimum wage increase (though I don’t know many adults who can actually live on 7.25 an hour). They also secure alot of money to finally fund the Road Home Program which was supposed to help post Katrina recovery until the program ran out of money. Oh and there’s even a little help for small businesses in the form of tax breaks. All lovely and necessary things I suppose, and I’m sure many good intentioned people will point to that and say; well at least we got that!

But my rhetorical question is: what does one have to do with the other? And what kind of sick government attaches essential money for sufferring citizens in places like New Orleans, to the money needed to fund the occupation and subjugation of another country? Those two projects have nothing to do with each other, and their funding should not be used as some kind of leverage or bargaining chip.

Reading through the texts of these bills, all included in this shameful “deal”, I again return to the conclusion that the US government and the political system in general are broken in the most fundamental way and these two parties are responsible.

Puppet Government

by bicyclemark

Recently I was watching some footage of the IRaqi parliament. An institution that I have to wonder about from the beginning as, to me, it wasn’t a truly elected (odd list system) and is basically a symbolic body to go along with a puppet government.
As I watched, the speaker of the parliament as well as all these guys sitting around him were laughing as a female member was passionately speaking about an issue that concerned her. The more she spoke the more they laughed…. at her. And others joined in.. and she kept trying to be heard over the growing laughter. Many people stood up and walked out in protest. It was an extremely sad sight.

I do remember when not so long ago a fist-fight broke out in that same parliament, one member apparently slapped another and it went on from there.

The only reason I bring it up is that I find it to be a testament to how ridiculous the entire adventure in Iraq has been, especially the thinking that you can force democracy on people and it will flourish.

Also interesting, as Juan Cole recently pointed out, the parliament passed a resolution that the seperation wall the US military is building in Baghdad must be dismantled. Of course, they won’t do it. Just a friendly reminder of who really makes the rules in Iraq.

Note: Podcasts and vlogs are delayed as Im struggling to complete a little freelance job and yet exhausted after a big ultimate competition in the south of the netherlands today.

Art, Violence, and Other Recommendations

by bicyclemark

Art, violence, politics, sometimes they all just hit me in the face in one sitting. And so allow me to share some links with you today to illustrate:

First, I was watching a lovely vlog entry on, featuring my good friend and wonderful artist Hollye Davidson. Her explanation of how colors can be seen and how she sees colors what particularly fun for me to watch. Plus if you’re a dog person, or like me.. just enjoy watching dogs and not having one, there’s some great video of two very unique creatures.

From there I read Pauline’s latest entry from Equatorial Guinea. Not that she encountered physical violence, but her account of what I see as mental and emotional violence got me very upset. You’ve probably heard Pauline on my podcast in the past, and her blog continues to rise in terms of richness of content.

Then it all comes apart, as it so often does when I watch Euronews’ Nocomment section. I’ll spare you the video of Turkish police beating the crap out of horrified pro-democracy protesters, but what I do recommend is that you watch the Iraq entry. (follow this link, and scroll down, click on 30/04
If you watch, you’ll see amazing beauty in one of the worst parts of Baghdad. The terrible wall they have sadly laid down to divide communities, being painted in such amazing ways by local people. Instantly a disgusting wall that symbolizes so much violence and hate, becomes something beautiful to look at. (though still representing a pretty sad policy)

Don’t just scroll and take my word for it, see with your own eyes, and hear with your own ears… if you’re so lucky to be able to.