Thursday, February 14, 2008

Hillary wins New Mexico

Hillary Clinton has won New Mexico. Will Amy Goodman note that on Democracy Now! tomorrow?

Will she lead with it the way she leads with Obama's wins or even projections of Obama's possible wins?

Today the woman who could never tell audiences that RFK Jr., Maya Angelou or others had endorsed Hillary made sure to work in as 'news' an endorsement that the bulk of America had never heard of.

Check out her slanted program tomorrow to see how she plays this news. Possibly she will ignore it but, more likely, she will devote a segment to dismissing it.

Make no mistake, New Mexico is a big win for Hillary.


Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Thursday, February 14, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, the US military's state of readiness is explored in Congress, the Iraqi Parliament takes some action, and more

Starting with war resisters.
Lance Griffin (The Dothan Eagle) profiles war resister Brad McCall who explains why he went to Canada rather than to deploy to an illegal war. "They," McCall explains of service members who were returning from Iraq, "were telling us all of these things they did over there; things where you would have thought you were listening to the Nazi tribunals. Innocent people were dying, more of them than the terrorists. That's when I realized I couldn't go over there and be a part of that. When I joined up, I agree with our mission, which was we were fighting terrorism. And I agreed that we were looking for weapons of mass destruction, taking a tyrant out of office and bringing freedom to a people that had never known freedom before. But now I see the war as being about money to line the pockets of politicians and corporations. It's a battle over (expletive), pretty much." At his own site, McCall noted February 4th, "I received my first notice to appear befor a Canadian court today. So I'm pretty bummed. Oh, yeah, and my family are being very, well, unsupportive. So, it's just a horrible day." Griffin reports of McCall's attempts to win refugee status in Canada, "He expects to lose, then he predicts a long appeals process. He said he hopes the political climate in Canada changes before his appeal options run out. If it does, he plans on living the rest of his life in Canada. If it doesn't . . . 'If somehow I get deported, then I guess I will be serving some time in Ft. Leavenworth,' he said. 'Do I think that's fair? No, because I'm standing up for my moral right to make decisions for myself. But I'll do it'."

With Canada's Supreme Court refusing to hear appeals on the issue of safe harbor status for war resisters in Canada. The country's Parliament remains the best hope for safe harbor war resisters like McCall may have. You can make your voice heard by the Canadian parliament which has the ability to pass legislation to grant war resisters the right to remain in Canada. Three e-mails addresses to focus on are: Prime Minister Stephen Harper (
pm@pm.gc.ca -- that's pm at gc.ca) who is with the Conservative party and these two Liberals, Stephane Dion (Dion.S@parl.gc.ca -- that's Dion.S at parl.gc.ca) who is the leader of the Liberal Party and Maurizio Bevilacqua (Bevilacqua.M@parl.gc.ca -- that's Bevilacqua.M at parl.gc.ca) who is the Liberal Party's Critic for Citizenship and Immigration. A few more can be found here at War Resisters Support Campaign. For those in the US, Courage to Resist has an online form that's very easy to use.

Meanwhile
Kate Murphy (Oakland Tribune) reports that Oakland High School was the setting for a debate regarding military recruiters access to schools between military recruiter Sgt. Jose Delao and war resister Pablo Paredes. Murphy reports (separate story) that on Tuesday the two ("Delao encourages young people consider the path he chose, while Paredes tries to spare them from making the same choice") debated in front of "dozens" of students and quotes Paredes explaining, "Right now, tens of thousands of people, just like you, have come back from the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts with injuries that are going to affect them for the rest of their lives" and that there are other means to funds for college: "Whatever dream you're trying to chase in the military, there are other ways to chase that dream." As Dee Knight (Workers World) noted at the start of the month, Paredes was among those taking part (Friday January 25th) in the US to show support for war resisters in Canada: "In San Francisco, the delegation to the Canadian Consulate was led by Pablo Paredes and Mike Wong. Paredes is a former U.S. sailor who refused orders to return to Iraq, and is now a GI Rights Hotline counselor. In December 2004 at Camp Pendleton, Calif., he publicly refused to get on a ship returning to Iraq. 'I don't want to be part of a ship that's taking 3,000 Marines over there, knowing a hundred or more of them won't come back,' he told reporters at the time. Mike Wong is a Vietnam War-era veteran who chose exile in Canada for five years in the 1970s."

There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Josh Randall, Robby Keller, Chuck Wiley, James Stepp, Rodney Watson, Michael Espinal, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb,
Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Peter Brown, Bethany "Skylar" James, Zamesha Dominique, Chrisopther Scott Magaoay, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Clara Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, Blake LeMoine, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Wilfredo Torres, Michael Sudbury, Ghanim Khalil, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, at least fifty US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.
Information on war resistance within the military can be found at
The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline [(877) 447-4487], Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters. In addition, VETWOW is an organization that assists those suffering from MST (Military Sexual Trauma).

Meanwhile
IVAW is organizing a March 2008 DC action:
In 1971, over one hundred members of Vietnam Veterans Against the War gathered in Detroit to share their stories with America. Atrocities like the My Lai massacre had ignited popular opposition to the war, but political and military leaders insisted that such crimes were isolated exceptions. The members of VVAW knew differently.
Over three days in January, these soldiers testified on the systematic brutality they had seen visited upon the people of Vietnam. They called it the Winter Soldier investigation, after Thomas Paine's famous admonishing of the "summer soldier" who shirks his duty during difficult times. In a time of war and lies, the veterans who gathered in Detroit knew it was their duty to tell the truth.
Over thirty years later, we find ourselves faced with a new war. But the lies are the same. Once again, American troops are sinking into increasingly bloody occupations. Once again, war crimes in places like Haditha, Fallujah, and Abu Ghraib have turned the public against the war. Once again, politicians and generals are blaming "a few bad apples" instead of examining the military policies that have destroyed Iraq and Afghanistan.
Once again, our country needs Winter Soldiers.
In March of 2008, Iraq Veterans Against the War will gather in our nation's capital to break the silence and hold our leaders accountable for these wars. We hope you'll join us, because yours is a story that every American needs to hear.
Click here to sign a statement of support for Winter Soldier: Iraq & Afghanistan
March 13th through 16th are the dates for the Winter Soldier Iraq & Afghanistan Investigation.
Dee Knight (Workers World) notes, "IVAW wants as many people as possible to attend the event. It is planning to provide live broadcasting of the sessions for those who cannot hear the testimony firsthand. 'We have been inspired by the tremendous support the movement has shown us,' IVAW says. 'We believe the success of Winter Soldier will ultimately depend on the support of our allies and the hard work of our members'." As part of their fundraising efforts for the event, they are holding houseparties and a recent one in Boston featured both IVAW's Liam Madden and the incomprable Howard Zinn as speakers. IVAW's co-chair Adam Kokesh will, of course, be participating and he explains why at his site, "But out of a strong sense of duty, some of us are trying to put our experiences to use for a good cause. Some of us couldn't live with ourselves if weren't doing everything we could to bring our brothers and sisters home as soon as possible. The environment may be unking, but that is why I will be testifying to shooting at civilians as a result of changing Rules of Engagement, abuse of detainees, and desecration of Iraqi bodies. It won't be easy but it must be done. Some of the stories are things that are difficult to admit that I was a part of, but if one more veteran realizes that they are not alone because of my testimony it will be worth it."

Kokesh and IVAW will have testimony worth hearing. But today in Congress, maybe not so much with others? Michele A. Flournoy rips through group associations faster than Fox 'News' offers up excuses for the White House. No longer with CSIS, she's now with CNAS and the only logical explanation for the switch may be that the taint on CSIS is too extreme (War Hawks and War Hawks who were wrong). CNAS is the Center for a New American Security and if you ever wonder why so many 'reporters' sound so damn similar look no further than the ambitious start-up of CNAS which has already signed up, for their 'writers program' -- think of it as day-camp, if not day care, for those not ready for sleep away camp. Little Davey E. Singer and Davey Clouds, the paper of record's Two Davids (Cloud is no longer with the paper) along with Greg Jaffe (ex-Wall St. Journal) get cookies and watered down juice each day. Are the three so busy with pillow fights and panty raids (on one another?) that our young students can't think a minute or two about affialiating with an organization that things counter-insurgency (slaughtering the native people) is something to hop on board with? There really isn't a great deal of independence in the press (Big or Small).

Wearing a shocking pink wrap-around (was it a sari, a sarong or a mini-burka?) that may have been as frightening to the eye as her plans for war-war-more-war! are to the heart and mind, Michele A. Flournoy was among those speaking to the US House Armed Services Committee held a hearing on Military Readiness: Implications for Our Stategic Posture which was chaired by Ike Skelton.

Ike Skelton brought up West Point professor and Army General Barry McCaffrey's remarks that ten percent of today's army recruits do not need to be in uniform (McCaffrey to the Senate Armed Services Committee in April 2007: "
Ten percent of Army recruits are of low caliber and do not belong in uniform") and Flournoy responded that "1 in 5 are receiving some kind of waiver to enter the force" and that, relying on what she identified as anecdotal evidence, that military command she speaks with say that "more and more of their command time worrying about a central number of problem children in their unit." What's being discussed there are the multiple waivers being granted and the lowered standards for recruting. Moral waivers -- such as the one Steven D. Green were let in on -- are a serious issue and just as head injuries are the key injury of the Iraq War, recruits let in on waivers may be the key characteristic of enlistment today. [Steven D. Green has been portrayed in military court-martials as the ringleader who plotted the gang-rape and murder of Abeer in the home invasion that also killed her five-year-old sister and both of her parents. Green maintains that he is innocent. Others participating in the War Crimes have admitted to their own guilt and consistently fingered him as the ring-leader. Green is scheduled to go on trial in a civilian court in April.]

US House Rep Jim Saxton, apparently hoping to serve in the jury pool at Green's trial, maintained that "we have looked at this at length and found that some soldiers with waivers do better than soldiers without." Flournoy wasn't speaking of "some," she was speaking of a trend. Saxton didn't help his own argument wasting everyone's time with a statistical citation that had no point. "About .26%," he declared of recruits let in with waivers, "was the rate of disatisfaction expressed by waivered [recruits]" while the "unwaivered" -- e.g. traditional recruits -- was "double that." Imagine that. More recruits let in on a moral waiver that allowed them, like Green, to avoid a jail term or probation are happy to be in the military? That is a shocker. Flournony restated that she was maintaining this was an issue that needs to be studied -- by the military and Congress, she was repeatedly clear -- and noted, "In some cases, these waiver soldiers become models in the army. In other cases, they don't and they show greater difficulty in meeting army standards so I think it is something we need to watch over time. I think the jury's out . . . and we need to watch it very carefully over time."

To be clear, the waivers have always existed and many men and women have joined the military under those circumstances and excelled by the service's own standards. That's not the issue nor is the issue that the waivers exist. The issue is the heavy reliance on them today. Someone who may be a bit below the basic standards that really wants in (even to avoid jail or probation -- though some get waivers for academic backgrounds and other issues) can (and they have) live up to all the goals and even surpass those goals. That's not the issue. The issue is that these cases were not the norm for recruitment in times past. Today, if the military couldn't rely on the waivers, they wouldn't meet their targeted goals and a lot of people who should not be accepted are being let in. This is an issue for those stationed and it is an issue for career military types. We'll come back to this topic but let's highlight the rest of the hearing briefly since it seems like the press these days has a really hard time reporting on Congressional hearings.

US House Rep Solomon P. Ortiz was concerned that "the time it would take to restore military readiness gets longer and longer every day." Those invited to give testimony did not dispute that or question it -- it was noted that when there's no X-day for the wars (Iraq and Afghanistan) to be completed, restoring readiness will be always be an estimate that's altered continually -- such as with Bully Boy's decision to 'pause' the drawdown. US House Rep Duncan Hunter was concerned with the readiness of the inventory -- both in terms of whether or not bar-coding is used to track military equipment and also in terms of "what it would be better to leave" in Iraq "and what we might want to cascade to the Iraqis." On the first part, it wasn't clear (whether any tracking was used consistently throughout the branches). On the second part, this fell back into the theme that the US military is being asked, in Iraq (Afghanistan as well, but the comments focused on Iraq), to carry out tasks that are not military tasks. US House Rep Patrick Murphy noted a recent trip overseas where he was asked by a service member "Where the hell is everyone else?" because the military was doing the work that the US State Department and USAID should be doing. US House Rep Vic Snyder stated that the cost will be "20 to 30 billion additional dollars to do the kind of counter-insurgency we need to do." No one bothered to ask what "kind" that was or to question the idea that counter-insurgency was a plus. Sharon Pickup of GAO did make the point that "DoD needs to" clearly outline "what it is getting for the money" but that was a passing comment that no House member felt the need to explore. This despite the fact that Pickup's comment was perfectly in keeping with what Skelton outlined in
his opening remarks, "If an unexpected contingeny arises, what will be the cost to us in lives and in dollars? Is that cost one we are truly prepared to accept, or would we instead wish we had done more to prepare for or prevent it? We must also evaluate the initiatives and programs which the Department of Defense is proposing to address our strategic risk and determine whether they are realistic, and whether their scope and pace is sufficient to protect national security." But maybe, here's where we get back to the main topic, answers aren't going to come when centrists think-tank flacks are the ones speaking. Why were the Dems put in control of both houses of Congress? To end the illegal war. And they can't even expand upon the witnesses they call to testify. Anita Dancs of the National Priorities Project was far more informed on the January 23rd broadcast of Uprising Radio (noted in this snapshot) than Floury was today speaking to a Congressional committee.

From the US Congress to the Iraqi Parliament,
Leila Fadel (McClatchy Newspapers) reports on yesterday's actions when they "passed a budget and approved two major bills" and states, "The major winners are Sunni Muslims -- who won a limited amnesty for prisoners and an Oct. 1 date for provincial elections -- and Kurds, who won a budget that allocated 17 percent of Iraq's funds to them, instead of 13 percent as the Shiite-led government had proposed." We'll come back to the elections shortly. Raheem Salman and Alexandra Zavis (Los Angeles Times) also cover the topic noting that there was another walkout yesterday and that "questions remain about how they will be implemented" which brings to mind the start of the month when Alissa J. Rubin (New York Times) reported on the criticism coming from CIA asset and Iraqi exile Ahmed Chalabi that the Iraqi Parliament, "People should pay attention to what they are discussing and voting on." Salman and Zavis note that nothing is yet implemented (the presidency council must sign off or at least let it pass through without object) and point out, "Analysts cautioned, however, that Iraqi leaders remained deeply divided on key issues, including the distribution of Iraq's massive oil wealth and the future of disputed territories such as oil-rich Kirkuk." On the issue of the prison amnesty, Solomon Moore (New York Times) examines the prison-industrial-complex created in Iraq where "[t]ens of thousands of news prison beds" are demanded by unnamed US officials and there are "the 26,000 prisoners" in Iraqi prisons "still awaiting trial" plus "24,000 additional prisoners held in separate American military prisons."

Meanwhile the protests and strikes go on by "Awakening" Council members in Diyala Province and Al Anbar Province (see
Monday's snapshot). James Cogan (World Socialist Web) explains:

In the working class Shiite suburbs of Baghdad, the US military has essentially ceded control to the Sadrist movement in exchange for an end to its operations against Sunni opponents and its assistance in hunting down Shiite insurgents who attack the occupation forces. The US sponsorship of large Sunni-Baathist militias, however, has produced open opposition to Sadr's collaboration. Factions of the Mahdi Army have called in recent weeks for an end to the ceasefire. Sadr has refused, making it likely that there will be substantial break-aways from his 60,000-strong militia and the emergence of new Shiite resistance groups.For their part, the Sunni militias are becoming increasingly frustrated by their continued marginalisation from political power. They are coming under constant attack by groups who oppose their collaboration, and have clashed with government or US forces several times over the past month. Last week, in Diyala province, the Awakening Council announced it was suspending all cooperation with the occupation following the murder of two girls, allegedly by Shiite police.In Anbar, the US military faces the prospect of an even greater collapse of its deals. This week, the 20,000-strong tribal Awakening Council militia issued a threat to use armed force to seize control of the provincial government.

Garrett Theroff (Los Angeles Times) reports that "Awakening" Council member Hisham Mahdi Salih has made a trip to Baghdad to persuade the puppet government, via "meeting with Prime Minister Nouri Maliki and other high-ranking officials" that the police in Diyala Province are torturing people -- including him -- in an attempt to grab more power. The puppet government (especially it's Interior Ministry thugs) armed and trained by? The US. The "Awakening" Council armed and trained by? The US. There will be open, armed civil war in Iraq if the US can just keep pitting sides against one another by arming thugs.

In some of today's reported violence . . .

Bombings?

Sahr Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing that wounded three people, a Baghdad car bombing that claimed 4 lives and left thirty-three people wounded, a Mosul roadside bombing (in the continued targeting of officials) wounded Col. "Hazim al-Juburi and 3 of his security detail," a Basra roadside bombing wounded two Iraqi soldiers, a Muqdadiyah roadside bombing wounded three children and, outside Mosul, "Al-Anfal Intermediate School was bombed".

Shootings?

Sahr Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that Mejeed Mahmoud Hussein ("Staff General and commander of a division in former Iraqi Army") in Samarra today (he "had been detained in Bucca prison by Coalition Forces for three years and was released 2 months ago"), an armed clash outside Baquba resulted in seven police officers being wounded, Sheikh Abu Ali al-Buhruzawi was shot dead in Baquba and, yesterday, Labib Ali al-Zaidan, his wife and 7 members of their family were shot dead in Awja during a home invasion. Reuters notes "a member of a neighbourhood police patrol" was shot dead in Hawija.

Kidnappings?

Sahr Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 3 people were kidnapped outside Baquba. And although the interpreter was released yesterday, the Press Gazette notes that the CBS correspondent remains missing following the kidnapping of both on Sunday.

Corpses?

Sahr Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 3 corpses discovered in Baghdad.

Returning to the topic of elections in Iraq, the
United Nations notes that Staffan De Mistura, Special Representative for Iraq, "said action is critical following the passing of new legislation calling for governorate elections before 1 October." Yes, in February the Iraqi Parliament gets attention for the "elections are coming!" law that may or may not come to pass but October 1st is the actual scheduled day which, no doubt, will provide many ink-stained photos just in time to attempt to influence the US presidential elections. de Mistura stated, "It is vital that all steps are taken to ensure that the Independent High Electoral Commission is in a state of readiness for future elections. We hope by ensuring transparency and professionalism in the selection processes that this can be achieved."

The United High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres is touring the MidEast this week. Yesterday, Gueterres visited Jordan and "thanked King Abdullah II for his country's generosity in hosting more than a half a million" Iraqi refugees, the UN noted, with Jordan being one of the two main countries externally displaced Iraqis have sought asylum (Syria being the other most popular choice). The United Nations is issuing a call for $261 million to fund programs that will provide assistance to the internally and externally displaced Iraqis. IRIN reports that the Iraqi government "has earmarked US$40 million to help ease the plight of internally displaced persons (IDPs) and Iraqi refugees in other countries, its spokesman said on 13 Februrary."

We'll pick up on that topic tomorrow. Instead we'll close with US politics.
Danny Schechter (writing at Common Dreams last Friday) observed, "Neither Democratic candidate is focusing on the reality of mounting inflation, joblessness, the credit squeeze/debt burden (Student loans and mortgages) and the growing income gap. Are they only reading their own press, and ignoring this financial time bomb? Are they in denial?" They? Try many US voters who see "Troops Home If I'm Elected" in either or, worse, believe the spin that Bambi's better on the illegal war than Hillary. Bruce Dixon (Black Agenda Report) makes the case for holding both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama's feet to the fire -- and doing so now, not, as some fools suggest, after one of them (maybe) makes it into the White House. If it sounds familiar, you've probably heard it last week. But unlike an 'anti-war' 'leader,' Bruce Dixon has credibility. Unlike Tom Hayden, Dixon has consistently maintained that Obama and Clinton were twins, two-of-akind and, unlike Hayden, Dixon didn't rush out an embarrassing, gushing endorsement of Obama at the start of last week. When you attempt to show up after that trying to argue that both should have their feet held to the fire, the laughter you're greeted with has been more than earned. Dixon makes the case and does so with his integrity intact and he concludes, "It's time for a little less respect for the high and mighty of either party, and a little more action. It's high time for activists inside and outside the Democratic party to look for creative, innovative, sometimes impolite and civilly disobedient ways to reach larger audiences as they speak truth to the powerful. Even and especially when those in power are nominal Democrats." And if you don't grasp the importance of what Dixon's saying, try flashing back to spring of 2004 when John Kerry was riding high and no pressure was put on him because it was more important to elect him -- got to get him into office! -- so everyone stayed silent and, for those who can't remember how that ended, Kerry never made it into the Oval Office. Demands for peace do not wait for elections. Those gushing over Bambi and working overtime to create a 'record' for him don't grasp that (and may never). Again, Joe Wilson has been shut out by Little Media that couldn't get close enough to him not all that long ago. His column endorsing Hillary has been expanded and can be found at TaylorMarsh.com and No Quarter. Did Joe Wilson change? No, Little Media did. File him with Joe Conason, Paul Krugman, Gloria Steinem and all the others kicked to the curb (and attacked) because they had their own judgements.









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