Iraqi Elections

Published 4:39 pm Tuesday, October 25, 2005

By By Jo Bonner
Last Saturday marked a historic day for democracy in Iraq as millions turned out to vote on a new constitution for their country.
About 9 million Iraqis voted on a rare day of peace as insurgents largely suspended their attacks. This election is a historic milestone for the Iraqi people.
In Baghdad, votes were counted by lantern because electricity was out in parts of the city, and results were written on chalkboards. In Baqouba, "yes" votes were put in one pile and "no" votes were put in another. It is easy for us to take for granted the fundamental right to vote in a free election, and Iraq's dedication should serve as a wake-up call to us all.
The vote fell on the date of Saddam Hussein's last "election" in 2002, when he claimed to have received 100% of the Iraqi vote.
Last week also marked the start of Hussein's mass murder trial, where he is charged with executing 143 men and boys. Not surprisingly, he pleaded not guilty to the charges. The trial has been adjourned until the end of November and is expected to last several months.
To many Iraqis, this election represents hope for a better future for their children and grandchildren. An 85 year old grandmother, Mardhiya Omar Ibrahim, whose son carried her to vote on his back, was asked what the election meant to her. She said, "I cannot read, but my sons and daughters read parts of the constitution to me and told me it would provide security and stability in the future. So I went out to vote for it because I want the future to be safe and peaceful for my sons and grandchildren."
The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act
The House passed the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, which now goes to President Bush for his signature.
This is common-sense legislation that will prevent frivolous lawsuits seeking to hold the gun industry liable for the actions of others who use their products in a criminal or unlawful manner.
A gun by its very nature is dangerous, and the responsibility for it should lie with the user, not the manufacturer. A gun manufacturer, who produces a weapon that performs as intended without defect, should not be liable for damage.
Personal Responsibility in Food Consumption Act
The House also passed the Personal Responsibility in Food Consumption Act, also known as the "cheeseburger bill," which restricts obesity related lawsuits against the food industry.
The recent trend toward increased litigation and a blame-game legal system not only puts a strain on our economy, but it violates the American tradition of self-reliance and personal responsibility.
As consumers, we have control over the food choices we make, and we must use good judgment when making these decisions.
Obesity is a serious health threat to millions of Americans, but holding the food service industry liable for the over-consumption of its products by others is not the answer.
Austal, USA wins award from Navy to build warship
Congratulations to General Dynamics and Austal, USA. The Navy has awarded them a $223 million contract to build the Navy's new Littoral Combat Ship (LCS).
The LCS will be a brand new class of fast, highly maneuverable ship designed to carry the fight to the enemy in areas close to shore. It will be the world's most advanced high speed military sea craft.
The General Dynamics/Austal, USA team was previously contracted to design the ship, and today's award allows the team to move forward and build its first LCS.
The LCS will be built at Austal, USA's shipyard in Mobile, which is in the process of a $25 million expansion. This contract will create more than 350 new jobs.
I am extremely pleased that the Navy has shown such confidence in General Dynamics and its Mobile-based partner, Austal, USA. I am proud the people of southwest Alabama will be building this new class of Navy combat ship.
Mobile has a strong naval heritage, and this program opens yet another chapter in that history. It is gratifying to see companies like Austal, USA create good, high-paying jobs that are so important to our local economy.
Northrop Grumman chooses Mobile
Northrop Grumman has selected Mobile as the site to produce its KC-30 advanced tanker. The KC-30 production center will bring hundreds of high quality, high paying jobs to Mobile.
Northrop Grumman has teamed with EADS North America to compete for the prime contractor for the U.S. Air Force next generation Air Refueling Tanker.
The Mobile production center will convert aircraft coming from the EADS A330 final assembly line into the Northrop Grumman KC-30 advanced tanker.
I applaud Northrop Grumman for selecting Mobile. The tanker modernization competition is an important issue for American warfighting capability, and I will be watching closely as it moves through the selection process.
Jo Bonner is a U.S. congressman. His column appears weekly.

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