Monday, January 19, 2009

Obama's rise inspires African Iraqis in politics

By Aamer Madhani, USA TODAY ZUBAYR, Iraq — In this dusty town with a large population of Iraqis of African decent, the rise of President-elect Barack Obama spurred a simple question: If he can, why can't we? For many years, the black residents of Zubayr say, they have lived a second-class existence in Basra province, an area where Africans were first brought as slaves about 1,500 years ago. They hold no political office, often live in crippling poverty and are still sometimes referred to as "slaves" by other Iraqis. ANALYSTS: N. Korea after spot on Obama radar Yet, taking inspiration from Obama's campaign, a slate of black Iraqis who call themselves the Free Iraqi Movement is making a long-shot run in the elections for provincial legislatures Jan. 31. "We heard Obama's message of change," said Jalal Chijeel, secretary of the political party. "Iraq needs change in how they see their own black-skinned people. We need our brothers to accept us." The eight black candidates are competing with 1,800 others for 35 legislative seats in the Shiite-dominated, oil-rich province. "Even if we don't win, this is a very important first step to allow us to take our place as leaders in Iraq," said Sala al-Qais, 45, a black candidate who acknowledges his chances are slim. Chijeel said he first learned of Obama after the Democratic presidential candidate's upset victory in the Iowa caucuses a year ago. By July, Chijeel and his colleagues were inspired enough to announce their intention to run for office. He said other Iraqis initially "laughed at us for thinking we should be leaders." There are no reliable data on how many Iraqis are of African descent. Chijeel said they may account for as few as 300,000 of Iraq's 28 million people. The history of discrimination is clearly visible: Many black Iraqis in Zubayr live in stone and mud huts that are little changed since they were built three centuries ago. Chijeel and others here complain that black Iraqis are denied good jobs, which means many can't afford to pay for uniforms or books so their children can go to school. Even the relatively affluent face problems. Khalid Majid, 39, said he took his 6-year-old daughter out of school because she suffered constant harassment from classmates who called her abd, the Arabic word for slave, and other derogatory names. "It is my wish that she will read and write, but I cannot let her have these … problems," Majid said. On Tuesday, the Free Iraqi Movement will host some of the 2,500 black Iraqis who live in the neighborhood to watch Obama's inauguration speech. They'll have a feast where candidates will mingle with potential voters, and they plan to perform a traditional dance they inherited from their East African ancestors. Shihab Musat, 57, will be among those celebrating Obama's inauguration and voting for the black candidates. Musat said he remains skeptical that Iraq is ready to accept blacks as equals. "I don't know this Obama well, but I hope he will push Iraq's leaders to treat the black people with respect," Musat said as he stood outside a one-room house he shares with 14 family members. "My life has not been very different than my father's. I do not expect my sons' lives to be much better."

1 comment:

jcore said...

Tests were conducted on both the Interceptor body armor jacket made from David H. Brooks
and DHB industries Inc and the newer “Dragon Skin” body armor jacket model made by Pinnacle Armor Inc. The chief executive officer of Pinnacle was present during the ballistic tests and supervised the tests to ensure the proper testing. Both vests went through vigorous tests to make sure that these jackets would protect our soldiers in the line of fire. First the jackets were X-rayed and analyzed and then had to undergo a series of live fire tests which included room temperature tests, harsh environment tests, and durability and drop tests. Out of the eight Pinnacle vests that were tested, four of them failed the ballistic tests. Thirteen rounds penetrated through the vests within the first or second shot obviously failing the tests. The tests were continued to ensure that both vests were properly tested. Both vests were also subjected to various temperatures, from minus 25º F to 120º F. These tests caused the adhesive holding on the Dragon Skin’s protective discs to fail causing them to gather at the bottom of the vest, leaving unprotected gaps in the jackets.
On May 17, 2007, a news reporter for NBC challenged the Army’s use of the Interceptor body armor jacket made from David H. Brooks and DHB Industries vs. the newer “Dragon Skin” body armor jackets that were developed by Pinnacle Armor Inc. NBC accused the Pentagon of sending substandard bullet proof vests to the soldiers when they could have sent them better body armor. NBC was suggesting that the United States of America is sending our soldiers into harm’s way and putting our soldier’s lives at risk.
NBC was claiming that there was a conspiracy against the Dragon Skin body armor from Pinnacle Armor and that the Dragon Skin was more superior then the Interceptor. They believed that the government was more interested in funding than the safety of our soldiers. They have also claimed that the United States Army manipulated tests on the Dragon Skin body armor jackets to cover up the vest’s true capabilities and to ensure success with the Interceptor product line.
The government responded very quickly to the false investigative report stating that our soldiers were not being properly protected in battle and that the military is more interested in money than they are in the safety of our soldiers. Because of the serious nature of these claims made by NBC and Pinnacle Armor Inc, a congressional hearing was scheduled to verify the facts and bring light to the truth of this matter. At the hearing, Pinnacle Armor Inc was unable to offer any evidence to back up the allegations made by NBC and Pinnacle Armor Inc.
The United States of America will continue to defend the Interceptor body armor jacket made by David H. Brooks
and put the lives of our brave soldiers before the thought of profit. Our soldiers and the families of our soldiers need to be confident in the United States. Our soldiers are equipped with the best protection in the world.