Monday, June 30, 2008

Gay Pride celebrations

First, please read "Ruth's Report." It will remind you of how great a job she's done for about three years now. Before she started her own site (Ruth's Report), she was doing reports for The Common Ills. She basically stopped that when she started her own site and that really wasn't her choice. C.I. did not want Ruth doing her own site and working on Third Estate Sunday Review and doing a report. Rightly, C.I. said it was too much for one person. It really is a lot to ask of anyone. But I do miss her reports and the one yesterday just reminded me of how much and how much I love Ruth.

Today concludes Gay Pride Month which does not mean I will not be noting gay topics in the future. (I am thinking of the idiot who e-mailed me that my talking about being a lesbian was 'hurting' Barack's campaign.)

Sunday ended Gay Pride Weekend as well. It's not just a US event and this is from the BBC:

Hundreds of gay rights supporters have marched in the Indian capital, Delhi, for the first time.
Gays, lesbians and transgender people gathered in the central Connaught Place area in what was the country's largest ever display of gay pride.
Activists also marched in the cities of Calcutta, which has seen similar events in the past, and Bangalore.
The marchers were demanding an end to discrimination in a society where homosexuality is still illegal.
The gay pride marches are a global event held in the last week of June every year.


The BBC goes on to mention the Stonewall Riots. They took place in NYC following the death of Judy Garland. Garland was a gay icon (and loved by straights as well --and she was a "gay" icon -- gay men and lesbians both adored Judy) and if she hadn't died, it might have gone differently. All around, in 1969, you had people fighting for their rights. But Stonewall kicked off the gay rights movement. It was out there but mainly begging and pleading for 'understanding.' I'm not trying to insult some people from the 40s or 50s but, in the sixties, gay rights were still be treated like a plea at a time when all the other groups wronged were demanding.

So the police harassed a bar in NYC like they often did, a gay bar. And most of the time, the clients (predominately drag queens) took it. But the country was on fire, Judy had died and they just weren't in the mood. They fought back. And in doing so, they started a movement.

This is from Marisa Lagos and Chris Cadelago's "S.F. revels in annual outpouring of gay pride" (San Francisco Chronicle):

Less than two weeks after same-sex marriage became legal in California, drag queens, kids, politicians, shirtless men, married couples, straight couples and tourists flocked to San Francisco for the city's 38th annual San Francisco Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Pride Celebration, which culminated Sunday with a huge parade.
Marriage was in the air as scores of people lined Market Street for the annual event, where veils and wedding garb were the fashion choice of many parade participants and spectators. Of course, scantily clad boys and girls - and boys dressed as girls - were also on hand during a celebration that seemed to attract more people, and families, than in years past, although official crowd count numbers were not immediately available.
Many of the speakers and parade participants took the opportunity to campaign against a measure on the November ballot that would overturn the recent court ruling and ban same-sex marriage in the state.


By the way, AP reports that California's governor (Ahnuld) says it's a "waste of time" for people to try to overturn gay marriage in California. So that's India and the United States. What happened in Canada? From the CBC's "Soldiers march in Toronto Gay Pride parade:"

For the first time, members of Canada's Armed Forces represented the military in Toronto's annual Gay Pride parade, held Sunday.
Lt. Steven Churm, one of 10 soldiers from across the country who marched in uniform, said their presence sends a message that the Canadian military is inclusive and an equal-opportunity employer.

An e-mail asked me why people march? It's been years since I've been asked that, but I have been asked that before and I'm not offended by the question (he stressed he wasn't trying to be offensive -- I didn't take it that way, I assumed he was honestly asking because he was honestly curious). The LGBT community marches to celebrate the advances that have been made and to underscore the inequalities that still exist. We march because it's a way to say, "We're Queer, We're Here, Get Used To It." And that's still important because there are still so many who would render us invisible and so many who render themselves invisible. We march to say, "We're here, in this community. We are your neighbors, your family, your friends."

This is from Kyung M. Song's "Marchers soak in the sun, gay pride" (Seattle Times):

Spectators lined up five deep along Fourth Avenue's retail core to lustily cheer on gays and lesbians, buff or otherwise naked; politicians trolling for votes; and marchers touting causes including gay adoptions and recycling.
The three-hour parade featured several new corporate sponsors, including Alaska Airlines, Verizon Wireless and Safeco Insurance Foundation. Occasional showers of Frango mints, Tazo tea bags and other brand-name freebies delighted the crowd.
Seattle Out and Proud, the nonprofit group that produces the parade, estimated that 400,000 people lined the one-mile route from Union Street to Denny Way and attended the related celebrations. The parade is Seattle's second-largest behind the Seafair Torchlight Parade.


Tomorrow, I'm going to address a related topic, or that's the plan.
Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"


Monday, June 30, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, attempts to assassinate five Iraqi judges take place, four Abu Ghraib prisoners sue, and more.

Starting with war resistance. Henry Aubin's "Canada is wrong not to give asylum to U.S. war resisters" (Montreal Gazette) ran earlier this month. Today The Montreal Gazette notes the column was very popular with readers explaining "most writers supported Aubin's contention that welcoming U.S. war resisters would be the right thing to do" and quotes Nadia Alexan writing that "if there was ever a case made against an unjust immoral, manufactured war, the agression against Iraq should take the cake."

May 21st was when Corey Glass was told he would be deported. Corey Glass is an Iraq War veteran and a US war resister. He went to Canada seeking asylum -- the kind of welcoming Canada provided to war resisters ("draft dodgers" and "deserters") during Vietnam. After being told he was being deported, he's been 'extended' through July 10th. June 3rd Canada's House of Commons voted (non-binding motion) in favor of Canada being a safe harbor for war resisters. Douglas Glynn (The Barrie Examiner) quotes Corey stating, "The motion is not legally binding, though the majority of Parliament voted for it. I realized innocent people were being killed. I tried to quit the military while in Iraq," he said, "but my commander told me I was just stressed out and needed some R and R (rest and relaxation), because I was doing a job I was not trained to do. I went home on leave and said I was not coming back." So that's where it stands currently.

Courage to Resist is planning "
July 9th actions at Canadian Consulates nationwide:"

Join a vigil and delegation to a Canadian consulate near you on Wednesday, July 9th to support war resisters! On the eve of Corey Glass' possible deportation, we will demand, "Dear Canada: Abide by the June 3rd resolution - Let U.S. war resisters stay!" More details and cities to be confirmed soon!

Washington DC - Time TBA - 501 Pennsylvania Ave NW (map). Sponsored by Veterans for Peace. Info: TBA
San Francisco - Noon to 1pm - 580 California St (map). Sponsored by Courage to Resist. Info: 510-488-3559; courage(at)riseup.net
Seattle - Time TBA - 1501 4th Ave (map). Sponsored by Project Safe Haven. Info: 206-499-1220; projectsafehaven(at)hotmail.com
Dallas - Time TBA - 750 North St Paul St (map). Sponsored by North Texas for Justice and Peace. Info: 214-718-6362; hftomlinson(at)riseup.net
New York City - Noon to 1pm - 1251 Avenue of the Americas (map). Sponsored by War Resisters' League. Info: 212-228-0450; wrl(at)warresisters.org
Philadelphia - Time TBA - 1650 Market St (map). Sponsored by Payday Network. Info: 215-848-1120; payday(at)paydaynet.org
Minneapolis - Time TBA - 701 Fourth Ave S (map). Info: TBA
Los Angeles - Noon to 1pm - 550 South Hope St (map). Sponsored by Progressive Democrats LA. Info: pdlavote(at)aol.com
Help organize a vigil at one of these other Canadian Consulates: Atlanta, Boston, Buffalo, Chicago, Denver, Detroit, Miami, Anchorage, Houston, Raleigh, Phoenix, or San Diego. Please contact Courage to Resist at 510-488-3559.
Veterans for Peace issued a joint call with Courage to Resist and Project Safe Haven for July 9th vigils at Canadian Consulates: "Dear Canada: Do Not Deport U.S. War Resisters!" Contact us if you can help organize a vigil, or can otherwise get involved. Locations of the 22 Canadian Consulates in the United States.
Recently on June 3rd the Canadian Parliament passed an historic motion to officially welcome war resisters! It now appears, however, that the Conservative government may disregard the motion.
Iraq combat veteran turned courageous war resister, 25-year-old Sgt. Corey Glass of the Indiana National Guard is still scheduled to be deported July 10th.
We will ask that the Canadian government respect the democratic decision of Parliament, the demonstrated opinion of the Canadian citizenry, the view of the United Nations, and millions of Americans by immediately implementing the motion and cease deportation proceedings against Corey Glass and other current and future war resisters.
Join Courage to Resist, Veterans for Peace, and Project Safe Haven at Canadian Consulates across the United States (Washington DC, San Francisco, New York City, Seattle, Minneapolis, and Los Angeles confirmed--more to be announced).
We mailed and delivered over 10,000 of the original letters to Canadian officials. Please sign the new letter, "Dear Canada: Abide by resolution - Let U.S. war resisters stay!"
http://www.couragetoresist.org/canada


Canada's War Resisters Support Campaign will hold a "Rally to Stop the Deportation of Parkdale Resident Corey Glass" July 3rd, begins at 7:00 p.m. (with doors opening at six p.m.) at the May Robinson Building, 20 West Lodge, Toronto: "In 2002, Corey joined the Indiana National Guard. He was told he would not have to fight on foreign shores. But in 2005 he was sent to Iraq. What he saw there caused him to become a conscientious objector and he came to Canada. On May 21, 2008, he got his final order to leave Canada by July 10, 2008. Then on June 3 Parliament passed a motion for all the war resisters to stay in Canada. However the Harper government says it will ignore this motion." They are also asking for a July 2nd call-in. Diane Finley is the Immigration and Citizenship Minister and her phone numbers are (613) 996-4974 and (519) 426-3400 -- they also provide her e-mail addresses minister@cic.gc.ca ("minister" at "cic.gc.ca") and finled1@parl.gc.ca ("finled1" at "parl.gc.ca").


To pressure the Stephen Harper government to honor the House of Commons vote, Gerry Condon, War Resisters Support Campaign and Courage to Resist all encourage contacting the Diane Finley (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration -- 613.996.4974, phone; 613.996.9749, fax; e-mail http://thecommonills.blogspot.com/mc/compose?to=finley.d@parl.gc.ca -- that's "finley.d" at "parl.gc.ca") and Stephen Harper (Prime Minister, 613.992.4211, phone; 613.941.6900, fax; e-mail http://thecommonills.blogspot.com/mc/compose?to=pm@pm.gc.ca -- that's "pm" at "pm.gc.ca"). Courage to Resist collected more than 10,000 letters to send before the vote. Now they've started a new letter you can use online here. The War Resisters Support Campaign's petition can be found here.

There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Megan Bean, Chris Bean, Matthis Chiroux, Richard Droste, Michael Barnes, Matt Mishler, Josh Randall, Robby Keller, Justiniano Rodrigues, 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, Jose Vasquez, 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, Logan Laituri, Jason Marek, 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. In addition, VETWOW is an organization that assists those suffering from MST (Military Sexual Trauma).

Over the weekend, Joseph G. Cote filed "Marine is arrested, turned over" (Nashua Telegraph) which addressed the arrest of Marine Lance Cpl Jose Flores in Hudson, New Hampshire." Citing Police Capt Donald Breault, Cote reported that "[a] Marine representative had contacted Hudson police and asked them to arrest Flores because he was deemed a deserter". Saturday AP's nonsense brief was filed and Sunday AP filed more nonsense. Read the original article by Cote (which the first AP brief credits) and then the AP stories which maintain Flores was arrested at a traffic stop when there's not only no mention of that, what Cote reports is that the marines contacted the local police and told the police to pick up Flores. It does matter. When the military has told the police to go to a parents' home in Colorado and search, when the military was calling police stations up and down California to alert them to Kyle Snyder, when 'traffic stops' turn out to be searching homes (one war resister picked up at a 'traffic stop') was actually picked up at his brother's home and discovered during the search. The military wants to lie and pretend all they do is enter a name in a data base after thirty days. The reality is an entire unit is patrolling the web looking for tidbits, checking out MySpace pages, phoning in tips to local police. It's time for the lying to stop and the AP has now made the same mistake two days in a row. At this point, it is no longer a mistake, it is a lie.

Turning to Iraq. Nothing to note. Didn't you hear? The 'surge' worked. What's that? It didn't? It was nothing but whack-a-mole on a larger scale? Well someone forgot to tell Nation editor and publisher Katrina vanden Heuvel who declared the 'surge' a "success" yesterday on ABC's This Week. In the real world (your visa is revoked, Katrina), the targeting of officials only increases in Iraq with today seeing an apparent record number of assassination attempts on judges in Baghdad. Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad bombing "targeting the house of judge Suliaman Abdallah," " a Baghdad bombing "targeting judge Ali Hameed al Allaq," a Baghdad bombing apparently targeting "Judge Ghanim Abdallah al Shimmari, his wife and his daughter" (all three were wounded), a Baghdad car bombing targeting Judge Hasan Fouad and a Baghdad bombing that targeted Judge Alaa al Timimi. Other than al Shimmari, no judge was noted to be injured in the bombing. Five bombings today in Baghdad targeting judges. Friday, Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) was reporting on Judge Kamal al-Showaili being shot-dead while "driving home" in Baghdad. Today Tawfeeq notes, "Hundreds of members of the Mehdi Army militia have been imprisoned in recent months in the wake of an Iraqi-led military crackdown to stamp out Shiite militants and establish authority in Shiite-dominated areas of Iraq." Reuters quotes High Judicial Council spokesperson Abdul Satar Birqadr declaring, "These attacks were organised. ALl happened on the same day, in the same way and the same part of Baghdad." (Reuters also states that the only person injured in the bombings was wounded except for "[t]he wife of Ali al-Alaq.") Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reported last week that, since the start of the illegal war (March, 2003), "40 judges have been assassinated" according to the High Judiciary Council.

Before we go into other news emerging today, let's drop back to the weekend. Hannah Allem (McClatchy Newspapers) reported Saturday on a Friday US raid in Karbala that resulted in at least one civilian death, a relative of Nouri al-Maliki's. Allem continued covering the story over the weekend. She noted, "Outrage over the mysterious operation has spread to the highest levels of the Iraqi government, which is demanding an explanation for how such a raid occured in a province ostensibly under full Iraq command." And, citing Iraqi sources, noted the raid was conducted by US special forces and that this put the treaty (passed off as a Status of Forces Agreement) in jeopardy. Allam and Qassim Zein reported that the man's name was Ali Abdulhussein al-Maliki and he "was killed at his guard post outside the villa belonging to Maliki's sister" and the brother of the late al-Maliki, Abdulhussein al-Maliki, told McClatchy US helicopters arrived before dawn and "about 50 American ground troops in camoflage then stormed into Janaja". The death of al-Maliki's relative follows last week's other known civilian deaths: 3 bank employees shot dead by US forces while returning to work and 4 members of a family killed in a US air bombing. Alissa J. Rubin (New York Times) reports that the central government in Baghdad issued a "statement [which] demanded that the [US] soldiers be held accountable in Iraq." Doug Smith (Los Angeles Times) reports that the rumbles in Baghdad are that al-Maliki will announce "[t]he appointmen tof a judge to hear evidence against U.S. soldiers" and quotes Iraqi MP Haider Abadi (from al-Maliki's Dawa Party) stating, "It's not acceptable, Iraqis getting killed without even knowing if it is the result of a tragic incident or this is negligence on the part of the U.S. military."

On the theft of Iraqi oil, Andrew E. Kramer (New York Times) reported today that the US State Department took part in the awarding of no-bid contracts to Big Oil despite previous claims that the Iraqis had made the decision with help from Big Oil that the US paried them with (click here for Kramer's June 19th report). Kramer notes that "any perception of American meddling in Iraq's oil policies threaten to inflame opinion against the United States, particularly in Arab nations that are skeptical of American intentions in Iraq, which has the third-largest oil reserves in the world." Andy Rowell (Price of Oil) quotes Greg Muttitt stating that "the contracts start to look very strange. For a start, the deals are with the wrong companies. The companies which usually carry out TSCs [technical service contracts] are specialist providers, like Schlumberger, Sapem or Baker Hughes. They are often hired in for geological, construction or drilling expertise, or to install a piece of technology. In no other country are the likes of BP or ExxonMobil carrying out such TSCs."

Though the contracts were supposed to be signed today, AFP reports that they haven't been and that "Iraq is still negotiating with Shell, BP, ExxonMobil, Chevron and Total" as well as Small Oil and quotes Hussein al-Shahristani, the country's Oil Mister, declaring, "We did not finalise any agreement with them because they refused to offer consultancy based on fees as they wanted a share of the oil." This as CBS and AP report that the price of a barrel of oil hit $143 today.

In other news Daren Butler (Reuters) reports that four Iraqis have announced they "are suing U.S. military contractors CACI International Inc, CACI Premier Techonology and L-3 Services Inc (formerly Titan Corp) as well as three people who they say tortured them while they were detained in Abu Ghraib prison." The Center for Constitutional Rights (Katherine Gallagher), Burke O'Neil LLC (Susan L. Burke and William F. Gould) and Akeel & Valentine (Shereef Akeel) are representing the four who are:

• Mohammed Abdwaihed Towfek Al-Taee, a 39-year-old taxi driver who was detained and horrifically abused for nine months before his May 2004 release. He later learned that he likely was the victim of a customer who presumably turned him over in exchange for American money for intelligence "tips."

• Wissam Abdullateef Sa'eed Al-Quraishi, a 37-year-old married father of three, who was hung on a pole for seven days at the infamous Abu Ghraib "hard site" and subjected to beatings, forced nudity, electrical shocks, humiliating treatment, mock executions and other forms of torture during his incarceration at the prison.

• Sa'adoon Ali Hameed Al-Ogaidi, a 36-year-old Arabic teacher and shopkeeper and father of four, who was held for a year, caged, brutally abused at the prison "hard site," stripped and kept naked, and was a "ghost" detainee hidden for a time from the International Committee of the Red Cross.

• Suhail Najim Abdullah Al-Shimari, a farmer who was held for more than four years, including at the prison "hard site," was caged, threatened with dogs, and subjected to beatings and electrical shocks, and threatened with death and being sent to a "far away" place.

The three people being sued are contractors for the companies: Adel Nakhla, Timothy Dugan and Daniel E. Johnson.

Turning to some of today's reported violence . . .

Bombings?

Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Mosul car bombing that claimed 1 life and left thirteen people wounded and a Baghdad car bombing that involved "an unidentified" corpse.

Shootings?

Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports an armed clash in Mosul that claimed the lives of 2 Iraqi soldiers.

Corpses?

Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 5 corpses discovered in Baghdad and the corpse of 1 Iraqi soldier discovered in Mosul.

Moving to US politics. "It's political bigotry," independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader explained to George Stephanopoulos ABC's This Week yesterday when asked about (unfounded) anger at him for his 2000 run being taken out against organizations he is no longer a part of. "Why are all these people who agree with us on the issues behaving this way? Because they believe that the two parties own the voters in this country and you go for the least-worst party. And if you go for that least worst-party, you don't make demands on that least-worst party, your votes are going to be taken for granted and the corporate interests are going to pull both parties in their direction. They can't seem to figure that out. The Nation magazine for example and The Progressive magazine have all these recommendations and reforms and they're hostile or indifferent to the Nader-Gonzalez campaign which is the only one that comes up 6%, 4% sometimes 8 and 10% in Michigan in the polls is pushing their vergy agenda. They have no breaking point, George. There's no moral imperative. They will forever put the ring in their nose and provide the tether for the least worst Democrat." We'll address Nader's appearance later in the section on the presidential race; however, let's focus on the bigotry first. In the roundtable, George would declare Katrina vanden Heuvel's "name was invoked in the last" segment" (George invoked it, Ralph never mentioned her by name). Katrina declared, "First of all let me say that Ralph Nader, great citizen number one, but his great crusade against corporate power and for consumer rights has come from outside the electoral system. The Nation in 2004, again 2008 again said 'Ralph, don't run.' But the key thing, and I think Ralph understand this, and he mentioned another name, Bill Fletcher, Barack Obama is running for president, he is not running for the messiah. I'm shocked that he's moving to the center. I'm shocked. But we don't whine." If we did, we might whine, "Who told her to wear that ugly eye shadow?" Should we stay with this issue because Katrina didn't. She was asked about Nader's critique and she instead bragged that the magazine she is editor and publisher of ran a "Ralph, Don't Run" campaign in 2004 and again in 2008. That's something to be proud of? If she can tear herself away from whatever Russian bodice ripper she's currently thumbing through for a second, could Katrina refer to the Constitution and examine Article II? Could she try explaining how Ralph's criticism of her magazine and The Progressive was wrong? It wasn't wrong. Barack's caved on illegal spying and caved on public financing so far this month. Where's the feet to the fire? If The Nation will not support third-parties, will they even bother to hold Barack's feet to the fire? No. Nader's criticism was that he's shut out by 'independent' media (The Nation and The Progressive) whose stated beliefs and opinions are the ones his campaign is built on while they go with the least-worst choice from the Democratic Party. He is correct. Katrina refused to have that discussion. Not only is he correct on that, it's equally true that having decided to go with the least-worst of the two major parties, they betray their own beliefs. You saw it in all of Katrina's excuses (usually prefaced with "I'm not apologizing for" him as she went on to do just that). There was no attempt to hold him accountable. But Katrina doesn't dislike all third parties, she revealed. "The one who I think is going to gain real traction in this country," she said grinning like a demented fool, "is Bob Barr." So Bob Barr, whom Katrina sees as not 'winning' votes but 'stripping them away' from McCain is her kind of third party candidate. For Katrina, the 'good' third party is the one who does 'damage' to the candidate she dislikes. That's really more frightening than her pride over The Nation's undemocratic "Don't Run!" nonsense.

Turning to the US race for president. The so-called 'unity' campaign keeps floundering. Yesterday on CBS' Face The Nation (link has text and video), Barack Obama surrogate Wesley Clark was vouching for Barack's "good judgment" and other ridiculous things that Clark can see with some sort of decoder ring apparently. While the recordless Barack got a tongue bath from Clark, fur balls seems to be coughed up as Clark turned his fire on US Senator John McCain (the presumed GOP presidential nominee). While claiming "I certainly honor his service as a prisoner of war," mere minutes later, 'honor' turned to 'trashing' as Clark declared, "Well, I don't think riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to be president." CNN reports that McCain surrogate Rick Davis appeared on the cable network's American Morning today and declared, "Sending Wesley Clark out as a surrogate for your campaign and attacking John McCain and his war record and his military experience and his service is, I think, just the lowest form of politics." In the ongoing, illegal Iraq War, Byron W. Fouty, Alex R. Jimenez and Ahmed Quasai al-Taeli are classified by the Defense Department as "Missing or Captured." Rick Klein (ABC News) instructs, "Please, find me a single Democrat who thinks it's good politics to call into question the military credentials of a man who spent five-and-a-half years as a prisoner of war." Brian Montopoli (CBS News) reports the McCain camp assembled the following for a Monday morning conference call with the press: "Sen. John Warner, POWs Col. Bud Day and Lt. Col. Orson Swindle, McCain foreign policy advisor Bud McFarland, and Carl Smith a retired Navy pilot who served with McCain". Indpendent presidential candidate Ralph Nader was among the guests on ABC's This Week. The appearance preceded a Connecticut fundraiser which the AP reports raised $2000. AP also reported last week that 5% of Hillary Clinton supporters were now supporting Nader in the general election.

"If you really want to cover everybody in health insurance and save hundreds of lives and . . . hundreds of thousands of illnesses," Nader declared to Stephanopoulos, "you would go for single-payer which the majority of American people want and the majority of doctors want. . . . The HMOS are opposed to single-payer, the big health insurance compaines are opposed to single-payer. If you want to give a hundred million Americans a break in terms of their livelihood and wages, you would go for labor law reform. You'd repeal Taft-Hartley and give them the opportunity -- low-income workers -- to organize and collectively bargain. . . . If you want more jobs in the innercity, you know, public works, schools, clinics, libraries, sewage treatment systems, you've got to reduce the bloated, wasteful military budget, George."

"I think the two parties are hurting our country," said Nader of the Democratic and Republican Parties, "and they need more competition. As we see on our website VoteNader.org, you will see the issues we have on the table are majoritarian issues: single-payer health care, do something about the wasteful military budget, labor law reform, consumer protection . . . living wage, etc. . . . The problem is, George, there's too much political bigotry against small parties and candidates. You see it in these huge ballot access laws which we're trying to overcome now with our roadtrippers, very, very costly. We're excluded from the debates. Why do we ration debates? We ought to have staggered debates. You've got Wimbledon, the sixtieth seed gets a chance, you've got the NCAA, the sixtieth team gets a chance. You have a huge roll of wealth on it. We're appealing to the people in this country. . . . We're appealing to the people in this country who want more choices on the ballot and Nader-Gonzalez provides those choices." Team Nader states:

We need $10 from you to get Nader/Gonzalez on ten state ballots in ten days.

So, if you haven't donated to Nader/Gonzalez yet, now is the time - please give ten dollars now.

Our goal - $40,000 by July 6.

We have more than fifty young, energetic roadtrippers busting it on the ground all around the country for Nader/Gonzalez - the only candidacy that will shift the power from the corporations back to the people.

(If you think Obama is that guy, think again. Obama is moving in the other direction - running away from the people into the arms of the corporations. Check out Obama's most recent flip-flop on giving immunity to telecom corporations under the government surveillance and wiretapping bill. And then watch Ralph Nader say no to wiretapping here.)

In Illinois we've collected and turned in more than twice the signatures we need.

In Arizona, we've collected and turned in more than three times the signatures we need.

In Nevada, we will turn in more than twice the signatures we need.

By July 6, with your help, we'll be penciled in for ten states - Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Hawaii, Illinois, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Tennessee, and Utah.

And we're targeting 40 states by the end of the summer.

There is a reason the corporate Democrats and corporate Republicans are concerned about Nader/Gonzalez.

We're at six percent in the most recent CNN poll.

And we plan to be on 45 state ballots come November (up from 34 in 2004.)

So, drop a ten spot on Nader/Gonzalez now.

Of course, the more the merrier.

But $10 is what we're asking from each and every one of you - our loyal supporters.

So do it now.


 iraq
 the new york times
 andrew e. kramer
 andy rowell
 qassim zein
mcclatchy newspapers
hannah allem
 doug smith
 the los angeles times
alissa j. rubin

the center for constitutional rights

Friday, June 27, 2008

James Burmeister and Matthis Chiroux



That's a press conference for James Burmeister from last week and, swiping from C.I.'s transcription, this is what his mother Helen says for any not able to stream or with hearing issues:

Helen Burmeister: I'm Helen Burmeister and I'm here today to support my son Prviate 1st Class James Burmeister. My son is an Iraq War veteran and I'm very proud of him today. He fought bravely in Iraq. He followed orders. He was wounded in a roadside bomb and he's been diagnosed with PTSD and a possible brain injury. Our request today is that the army release James. We want James to be able to put this traumatic experience behind him so he can begin to heal -- both emotionally and physically. I believe my son has done his part. Now it's time for him to be given the recognition he deserves. Short of that, we are requesting that he be allowed to go home to Oregon. And thank you. Thank you to everyone for all your support today.


If I post a video, I've just watched it. I'm the worst about watching videos on the computer. I don't have the time. I can zip through an article or, a transcript, quicker than the video can play out and when I'm online, I'm trying to get whatever information I'm looking for as quickly as possible.

I knew James Burmeister was bi-racial but a friend at work, who reads The Common Ills religiously, asked me why I hadn't posted that video? I explained that it's a hassle to post videos and I usually need to have C.I. on the phone to talk me through. If it's non-stop problems, C.I. will sometimes log in, embed the video, save the draft and say, "Okay, now go in and write your post." Blogger/Blogspot is free and it can do many wonderful things but in terms of videos it can be a pain in the ass.

If you're a community member of long standing, you're probably aware that in spring of 2005, C.I. floated the idea of moving The Common Ills. The reaction from the community was "NO!" because Blogger/Blogspot was part of the do-it-yourself movement. So C.I. dropped the idea. I had no opinion at the time but I do now. If C.I. had gone to a for-pay site (for-pay for C.I.), I wouldn't be using Blogger/Blogspot now. There are so many things you can do at a for-pay site and so easy. I'm not over our work site that's still relatively new but I would be called to help with it from time to time early on and a lot more now that I do my own site.
And everything there is so simple. I can do what Blogger tells me to do here for a feature (but it never works in Blogger) and it works automatically.

So those are the two reasons on James Burmeister. I didn't watch the video until today and posting videos is a problem.

But a friend asked me about James today and I said he was bi-racial or mixed race. I knew his father was White but I wasn't sure on his mother. So I was told, "I think she's African-American." I think she is too, having watched the video. And as an African-American woman, if a sister needs help, I try to be there. (I try to be there for all women, but, yes, I will make an extra push for women of color because I know how the media renders them invisible.)

So I was watching the video and trying to figure her out. She has a wonderful speaking voice but I was trying to place the region she grew up in. I finally decided, this is just my guess, she was raised in a military family and has a "base" (military base) accent. I could be wrong.

But I mentioned that at work today and because of that and other curiosities people ended up streaming the video. And it was immediate.

Which really drove home to a point C.I.'s made. Actually several. C.I. has always stressed that every war resister has a multitude of stories and we are not hearing them. And -- for all stories -- that what reaches one person might not reach another. That was really proven today as my theorizing and hypothesizing about Helen Burmeister resulted in twelve co-workers streaming the video.

It really is, as C.I. says, important to put a face on it. Whatever the topic is.

I've spoken about James Burmeister at work and most of us know about him. A few of us saw him interviewed on NOW on PBS last year.

And I think about Anita Anderson (who is White) and Darrell Anderson (ditto) and how, for me, the thing that had me connect with Darrell as a person (I supported his stand even when I didn't connect with him) was Anita and her fight to see that her son was treated fairly and justly.

So you never know what the entry point will be -- for yourself or for anyone else.

I'm tired (and the a.c. does not appear to be cooling the place down, so I'm also hot) which means I'm not in the mood to chase down links. But you can Google "The Common Ills" and "James Burmeister" and find out a great deal about him.

What I know about him is that he was the first to talk about the kill-teams. When he was serving in Iraq, the kill-teams were being utilized. When he went public in Canada about being a war resister, he spoke out about the kill-teams. That was in June or July of 2007. In the fall of 2007, the Washington Post would do a strong article on kill-teams (without mentioning Burmeister) and there would be applause and praise. I'm not trying to take anything away from the front page article, but if you were paying attention, you knew about the kill-teams before that. A regional paper (in Oregon, I think) did a story on James in the spring of 2007 and covered the kill-teams. He also spoke about them to Canadian media.

And yet the Washington Post got the credit for 'breaking' the story. Imagine if Amy Goodman had been even slightly interested in war resisters? She could have had James on the show that summer. She could have gotten credit for breaking the story.

But she never had him on her show. In fact, she's never mentioned him.

She interviewed Matthis Chiroux last week and that was so disappointing and goes to what I'm talking about earlier. That interview was rote. I did watch Matthis' video of the speech on Father's Day. But only after C.I. did the transcription and I read that and thought, "I want to hear this speech." But Matthis laid it out so well in that speech. And two days later, he's on Democracy Now! and Amy appears interested in everything but war resistance. She never even asked him how he came to the decision to refuse to deploy to Iraq.

The question I would have asked, if I'd been the interviewer, would have been, "What is that like? You're honorably discharged. You're out of the army. You're going to college. And then you get told you're being called back up and you're being sent to Iraq. Were you shocked? Were you angry? Could you just talk about the emotions you had at that moment?"

Matthis isn't the only one that this has happened to and there are also the service members who are due to be discharged but find out they're being stopped-lossed. And I have never seen that talked about or written about. Even Camilio Mejia's book (Road to Ar Ramadi) which is a wonderful book, he gets stop-lossed. And I can imagine what I would be feeling like if I were in the situation (I'd be yelling my head off and throwing things) but that's me. I'd feel like the world was closing in on me.

And I feel like (my opinion only) that because these feelings are not talked about, it's accepted by everyone who hears about it. I mean, instead of everyone being as outraged as they should be that our government is allowing people to be discharged and pulled back in after or being on the verge of being discharged and getting told, "No, we extended you," that we're just accepting it and not realizing how traumatic and UNFAIR and wrong this is. I mean, in my head I can go through how I would react to it. But I'm not in the military.

So that's one of the questions I would have asked Matthis. I would have asked him to talk about that aspect because (a) I'm interested in it and (b) because I think we're (we being Americans) being sheltered (including by ourselves) from the reality because we're not connecting with it. I have heard people say, "Oh, well, they knew that. They signed up for it." Or other crap like that. And so I would have asked Matthis that because he's been through it and he could talk about it.

And I think he could have reached people talking about that.

Instead it was fungus talk in Afghanistan. That's what Amy Goodman was interested in. And no offense to Matthis, he handled that well, but he's not a scientist or a doctor (I believe he pointed that out) and that's really not pertinent to the decision he'd made to refuse to report to be sent off to Iraq.

I got 30 e-mails (more than I have ever gotten) on my comments regarding Hillary's attempts to save the Democratic Party. Everyone agreed. We applaud you Hillary, we think you're a class act; however, we're not voting for Barack. A reader named Lisa said it best (I think) when she wrote, "At this point it's about me and my daughter and my mother and whether I respect myself and them enough to say 'no' to everything that went down, all the attacks on Hillary, all the sexism, all the bulls**t."

That's what it comes down to for me too.

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

Friday, June 27, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, the deporation clock ticks down for Corey Glass, another Iraqi judge is assassinated, MTV accepts political advertisements . . . or at least some, and more.

Starting with war resistance. Iraq Veterans Against the War Matthis Chiroux remains in the news. Chiroux announced June 15th that he would not report to duty (as he'd stated he wouldn't on May 15th). South Carolina's WIS News 10 reported on some reactions yesterday (link has text and video):

David Stanton: Being called to deploy? It is a possibility that all of South Carolina's bravest face but the refusal of one soldier to go to Iraq has many military members talking. Sgt. Mathhis Chiroux was honorably discharged about a year ago. He served in Germany, Japan, Afghanistan and the Phillipines. Chiroux was then called back to duty for service in Iraq. But Chiroux says he will not report to Fort Jackson as ordered. As Trey Paul found out some have a hard time supporting the decision.

Mst. Sgt. Gary Villanueva: My father always taught me that a handshake was a man's honor. And signing on the dotted line is equivalent to a handshake. And s-s-so if they made that comitment I believe they should honor it and if they didn't, quite frankly, I question them as a man.

Trey Paul: We asked and Mst. Sgt. Gary Villanueva did not hold back.

Gary Villanueva: Maybe it's best if they don't come into the military because that type of person I would really question my . . . uh . . . back half of my life. And then protecting me or any other individuals I fight with.

Trey Paul: When it comes to a soldier who doesn't complete a military contract lets just say Villanueva doesn't agree

Gary Villanueva: I-I-I uh really think that uh there subject to the punishment that the military law stipulates because they signed a contract.

Trey Paul: Villanueva is one of several soldiers here at Fort Jackson taking part in the IRR -- that's the Individual Ready Reserve. It's the same type of program that Sgt. Matthis Chiroux was required to attend. Other reservists like Sgt. Nolze don't agree with Chiroux either but he thinks he understands where Chiroux's coming from.

Specialist Joshua Nolze: Up until a couple of years ago the military never really used IRR and they told you when you signed the contract, 'Don't really worry about it. You're not going to get called up.' Now days, it's a different story, different world. You're getting called up so it's something you've got to think about before you sign up.

Trey Paul: The IRR works like this: As a soldier you always sign at least an eight-year contract. Most spend at least two of those years serving active duty. The remainder of the contract is spent in some form of the reserves. Mostly the IRR. First Sgt. Reid is helping train these reservists.

1st Sgt. Michael Reid: I also have mixed feelings because some of these young fellows have already been two or three times and probably don't want to go back.

Trey Paul: Since 9-11 a spokesman for the national IRR says Chiroux is just one of seven-hundred who have been a no-show

Gary Villanueva: Whether I agree or disagree with this war is im-imaterial. But one thing I'm soli- I'm sure of, that there are servicemen overseas that need support and that's why I'm coming back to support them.

Trey Paul: At Fort Jackson, Trey Paul, WIS News 10.

IVAW notes:

How you can help:

Find out more about Matthis Chiroux.

Moving to Canada, "I'm refusing to kill innocent people and I'm the one waiting to go to prison and they're the ones setting us up to commit war crimes and they go free," US war resister Ryan Johnson explains to Bill Kaufmann in "Writing on wall for deserters" (The Calgary Sun). Ryan and his wife Jenna Johnson moved to Canada in June 2005. Johnson notes that if a war resister is deported in July, he would most likely be the next one. May 21st was when Corey Glass was told he would be deported. Corey Glass is an Iraq War veteran and a US war resister. He went to Canada seeking asylum -- the kind of welcoming Canada provided to war resisters ("draft dodgers" and "deserters") during Vietnam. After being told he was being deported, he's been 'extended' through July 10th. June 3rd Canada's House of Commons voted (non-binding motion) in favor of Canada being a safe harbor for war resisters. Douglas Glynn (The Barrie Examiner) quotes Corey stating, "The motion is not legally binding, though the majority of Parliament voted for it. I realized innocent people were being killed. I tried to quit the military while in Iraq," he said, "but my commander told me I was just stressed out and needed some R and R (rest and relaxation), because I was doing a job I was not trained to do. I went home on leave and said I was not coming back." Ryan also notes the motion and points to the apparent dismissal of it by Stephan Harper (prime minister of Canada) wondering, "He ran on a platform of democratic reform -- he should take some advice of his own."

Canada's War Resisters Support Campaign will hold a "Rally to Stop the Deportation of Parkdale Resident Corey Glass" July 3rd, begins at 7:00 p.m. (with doors opening at six p.m.) at the May Robinson Building, 20 West Lodge, Toronto: "In 2002, Corey joined the Indiana National Guard. He was told he would not have to fight on foreign shores. But in 2005 he was sent to Iraq. What he saw there caused him to become a conscientious objector and he came to Canada. On May 21, 2008, he got his final order to leave Canada by July 10, 2008. Then on June 3 Parliament passed a motion for all the war resisters to stay in Canada. However the Harper government says it will ignore this motion." They are also asking for a July 2nd call-in. Diane Finley is the Immigration and Citizenship Minister and her phone numbers are (613) 996-4974 and (519) 426-3400 -- they also provide her e-mail addresses minister@cic.gc.ca ("minister" at "cic.gc.ca") and finled1@parl.gc.ca ("finled1" at "parl.gc.ca").
To pressure the Stephen Harper government to honor the House of Commons vote, Gerry Condon, War Resisters Support Campaign and Courage to Resist all encourage contacting the Diane Finley (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration -- 613.996.4974, phone; 613.996.9749, fax; e-mail finley.d@parl.gc.ca -- that's "finley.d" at "parl.gc.ca") and Stephen Harper (Prime Minister, 613.992.4211, phone; 613.941.6900, fax; e-mail pm@pm.gc.ca -- that's "pm" at "pm.gc.ca"). Courage to Resist collected more than 10,000 letters to send before the vote. Now they've started a new letter you can use online here. The War Resisters Support Campaign's petition can be found here.
There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Megan Bean, Chris Bean, Matthis Chiroux, Richard Droste, Michael Barnes, Matt Mishler, Josh Randall, Robby Keller, Justiniano Rodrigues, 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, Jose Vasquez, 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, Logan Laituri, Jason Marek, 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. In addition, VETWOW is an organization that assists those suffering from MST (Military Sexual Trauma).
"Ultimately, the way I look at it is," McClatchy Newspaper's Leila Fadel offered to Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez (Democracy Now!) yesterday, "there were 23 death certificates, 24 people died. Among them were toddlers and women, and Sergeant Wuterich has said this is what his training told him to do--go into the houses, throw grenades, and apparently shoot children and women. And it did happen, no one disputes that these women and children were killed. And that is what is angering the people of Haditha, that somehow, even with all of these bodies, that no one is being held accountable. And from what I understand, the case against Sergeant Wuterich is particularly strong and he's given eight--I think seven Marines immunity in order to have testimony against the sergeant. And he says, 'I did the right thing.' But toddlers--three-year-olds--and women died." Fadel was on to discuss the realities she reported in "Hadith victims' kin outraged as Marines go free" (McClatchy Newspapers, and link has text and video):"Khadija Hassan still shrouds her body in black, nearly three years after the deaths of her four sons. They were killed on Nov. 19, 2005, along with 20 other people in the deadliest documented case of U.S. troops killing civilians since the Vietnam War. Eight Marines were charged in the case, but in the intervening years, criminal charges have been dismissed against six. A seventh Marine was acquitted. The residents of Haditha, after being told they could depend on U.S. justice, feel betrayed." With Gonzalez and Goodman, Fadel shared, "We took a drive back to Haditha last week, trying to get a reaction to the dismissals and the one acquittal regarding this case of 24 people being killed on November 19, 2005. And the ultimate feeling I came away with: people felt betrayed. They felt betrayed that journalists told them if they told their story, somebody would be held accountable. They felt betrayed investigators told them that U.S. justice--that they could depend on that, and nobody is being held accountable. Many of them said, 'How many bodies does there have to be for someone to be punished for this?'"
This as Deutsche Presse-Agentur reports a US military raid in Karbala today resulted in 1 civilian being killed. On the heels of three bank employees being shot to death by the US military while on their way to work and a family air bombed by the US military. Earlier this week at Inside Iraq, an Iraqi correspondent remembered "Yasser Salihee, a physician and a father of one lovely girl" who had worked for McClatchy until being shot dead by a US soldier "Friday June 24, 2005". "Your friends and colleagues never forgot you and will not," writes the correspondent, "[. . .] I've been in so many places Yasser, I saw many die. I saw children, women and men were killed by terrorists or troops and we will keep trying to tell their stories. If we die my friend we will be dying telling the truth, telling the people what really happens here."
Turning to some of today's reported violence . . .
Bombings?
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Diyala Province roadside bombing last night that claimed the life of 1 shepherd and left two more wounded. Reuters notes a Shirqat roadside bombing that claimed the lives of 2 "Awakening" Council members and left three more wounded.
Shootings?
Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) reports 1 "senior city appeals judge" was shot dead in Baghdad Thursday. Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) identifies the judge of "Kamil al-Swaili, Head of Appeal Court" and quotes a High Judiciary Council spokesperson explaining over "40 judges have been assassinated since March 2003". Reuters explains, "Assailants using two vehicles blocked the judge's way, a police source said. They shot the judge, who was alone in his vehicle, before driving away, he said." Iran's Press TV states, "The assassination of al-Shewaili -- head of one of Baghdad's two appeals courts -- is the latest in a series of judges, academics and other professionals to be targeted by militants." Reuters notes a police officer was injured in a Jurf al-Sakhar shooting.
Corpses?
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 2 corpses discovered in Baghdad. Reuters notes 1 corpse discovered in Mahaweel.
Meanwhile at the same the US military calls back service members who have been discharged, they kick out those who want to serve. Servicemembers Legal Defense Network explains:

Decorated Army Sergeant Darren Manzella has been discharged under the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law banning lesbian, gay and bisexual Americans from military service, effective June 10. The Iraq war veteran was one of the first openly gay active duty service members to speak with the media while serving inside a war zone. In December 2007, Manzella was profiled by the CBS news magazine 60 Minutes. He told correspondent Lesley Stahl that he served openly during much of his time in the Army, with the full support of his colleagues and command.

"The discharge of battle-tested, talented service members like Sergeant Manzella weakens our military in a time of war. National security requires that Congress lift the ban on gays in the military and allow commanders to judge troops on their qualifications, not their sexuality," said Adam Ebbin, Communications Director of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN).

SLDN reports that a growing number of service members are also serving openly without incident. The organization is aware of more than 500 troops who are 'out' to their colleagues and, in some cases, their commands.

Sergeant Manzella said, "My sexual orientation certainly didn't make a difference when I treated injuries and saved lives in the streets of Baghdad. It shouldn't be a factor in allowing me to continue to serve."

Manzella, 30, enlisted in the U.S. Army in 2002 and was twice deployed to the Middle East in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. While under fire on the streets of Baghdad, he provided medical care to his fellow soldiers, Iraqi National Guardsmen and civilians. He was awarded the Combat Medical Badge, and also received several other awards recognizing his courage and service.
For more information on Sergeant Manzella, SLDN and the campaign to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," visit
www.sldn.org.

In December of last year, Leslie Stahl spoke with Manzella for CBS' 60 Minutes (link has video and text)

Turning to the US political race for president, Josie Swindler (Radar) reports MTV had decided to take political advertising. Wait? Madonna, naked with the flag around her wasn't political speech? (Well, it sure wasn't art.) But, Swindler reports, there's a catch. They will allow the GOP and the Democratic nominees -- whomever they might be -- to buy ads. And other candidates? MTV v.p. of communion (I'm being sarcastic) Jeannie Kedas states, "We would consider and accept third-party advertisements on a case by case basis." Which is a good time to note that Bill Coleman shares his thoughts on the presidential race in a letter to the Bennington Banner:


In reality, candidates such as Ralph Nader are disregarded from the outset because the election of someone such as Mr. Nader would bring about a true day of reckoning for American corporations.
As long as these corporations are permitted to on the one hand have the same or greater rights than individual citizens, and on the other hand to never face the death penalty or anything more than self regulation or slap on the wrist fines, they can continue to wreak havoc everywhere they go and drain average people of every last cent of economic vitality they can muster.
Yes, Ralph Nader supports an end to corporate personhood, in contrast to Barack Obama or John McCain, whose campaigns are awash in contributions from corporate America.
The differences between Mr. Nader and the candidates that you are permitted to read about or see on television each day are very far reaching and vast.

The candidates you are allowed to see . . . To MTV, according to today's news, or not to MTV.

Two upcoming events for the Nader campaign: (1) "Private Conversation and Fresh Summer Buffet on the River" fundraiser in Litchfield, Conn. Sunday at 2:00 pm and (2) a Honolulu Nader for President 2008 Rally Thursday (July 3) at 8:00 pm at the Univeristy of Hawiaii. For more information on the events, click here. Team Nader notes:

Ralph Nader will be a guest on ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos, Sunday June 29, 2008. (Check here for broadcast times in your area).

By the way, there are many definitions of "talking white."

Here's our definition, from the Nader/Gonzalez dictionary:

Talking white means telling the white corporate power structure what they want to hear, rather than calling them out and telling them what they need to hear.

Onward

And please note, whether George Steph plays it straight or goes into attack mode, don't turn off your television after -- you'll miss out on the unintentionally hilarious roundtable to follow featuring two Punches and two Judys. In other TV news, US Senator Barbara Boxer will be among the guests on this week's Bill Moyers Journal. Moyers broadcasts Friday nights on most PBS stations (and may repeat in some markets so check local listings). The Journal features online transcripts, online audio, online video and a blog to leave comments. In addition, Bill Moyers and Michael Winship often post commentaries there, either a Moyers commentary or a Winship commentary, or this week, a commentary by both. From the opening of "It Was Oil, All Along:"

Oh, no, they told us, Iraq isn't a war about oil. That's cynical and simplistic, they said. It's about terror and al Qaeda and toppling a dictator and spreading democracy and protecting ourselves from weapons of mass destruction. But one by one, these concocted rationales went up in smoke, fire, and ashes. And now the bottom line turns out to be....the bottom line. It is about oil.
Alan Greenspan said so last fall. The former chairman of the Federal Reserve, safely out of office, confessed in his memoir, "....Everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil." He elaborated in an interview with the Washington Post's Bob Woodward, "If Saddam Hussein had been head of Iraq and there was no oil under those sands, our response to him would not have been as strong as it was in the first gulf war."
Remember, also, that soon after the invasion, Donald Rumsfeld.s deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, told the press that war was our only strategic choice. "...We had virtually no economic options with Iraq," he explained, "because the country floats on a sea of oil."
Shades of Daniel Plainview, the monstrous petroleum tycoon in the movie There Will Be Blood. Half-mad, he exclaims, "There's a whole ocean of oil under our feet!" then adds, "No one can get at it except for me!"

as does NOW on PBS which asks, "Is there a way to keep desperate homeowners in their houses? One enterprising entrepreneur has come up with a creative and self-sustaining way to prevent foreclosures and protect individuals from predatory subprime lenders, but not everyone agrees with his approach. Is this another cautionary tale in the making?" PBS' Washington Week will find Gwyn speaking with the New York Times' Linda Greenhouse and NBC's Pete Williams about the Court's latest rulings; Peter Baker (New York Times) and Shailagh Murray (Washington Post) will round out the roundtable. And independent journalist and artist David Bacon continues to cover the immigration experiences and his latest photos from Mixteca are amazing. Click here for his photos of documenting the experiences of immigrants. This fall (September) Bacon's Illegal People -- How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants us released by Beacon Press.

 iraq

 corey glass
 ryan johnson
 matthis chiroux

 douglas glynn

 bill kaufmann
 trey paul

mcclatchy newspapers
leila fadel

juan gonzalez

 bill moyers journal
 linda greenhouse
 david bacon
 washington week
 pbs
 now on pbs

 peter baker
 shailagh murray
 the washington post

test

Thursday, June 26, 2008

This and that

The jaguar is the largest "cat" in the Americas with the deadliest bite. No, that has nothing to do with Gay Pride Month or anything else I planned to write about. But I came home and it was so hot, I turned on the TV and sat on the sofa for a few minutes flipping channels, then got all caught up in this special/documentary on jaguars. I'm sure it was the heat. No offense to those who enjoy the animal special/documentaries but they've just never been my cup of tea. I can honestly remembering actively screaming as a child. Not from fear but from boredom. My attitude was I was in school Monday through Friday. Sunday evening, as school beckoned, don't make me watch a nature special. They always seemed to be on Sunday evenings on the local PBS station.


Now some were gross. I'm not interested in anything slimey, for example. But I really got caught up in the jaguar special. I'm yawning and that's partly from the heat and partly due to being tired.


I had an e-mail asking what I thought about Hillary's fundraising for Barack?


She's a nice woman. She would have made a great president. I have no ill will towards Hillary.


But I'm a lesbian, I'm African-American and my problems with Barack do not vanish because Hillary's a nice person. She could come to my doorstep and say, "Marcia, I'm asking you to vote for Barack." I would tell her what a great race she won, how she had my support in any future race and how much her run meant to me. But if she pressed me about whether or not I was going to vote for Barack, I'd tell her honestly, "No way in hell. But thank you for stopping by. Your visit is probably the best thing of my month."


Barack became 'Black' in Chicago. I've been that my whole damn life.


I don't like the way the bi-racial boy treats my community. Mistreats my community, ignores my community, takes us for granted.


I don't like the fact that when he couldn't seal the deal with the Black community, he immediately started twisting every statement around so that the person must be racist! I don't appreciate that crap. Unlike the bi-racial wonder boy, I've lived with actual discrimination and so has my family. Long after he moves on to whatever is next on his agenda, we'll still be Black and still be dealing with it.


The doctor's motto is supposed to be "First, do no harm." (Or something like that.) As a lesbian, I do not appreciate his use of homophobia.


As a woman, Hillary can forgive him for his use of sexism but I won't.


Those are all strong reactions -- negative ones -- I have about Barack.


And that's before you even get into the fact that he has no record to speak for (which is why he lies about a veterans bill he didn't even vote for). He doesn't have the experience and I wouldn't trust him to house sit, let alone vote to put him in the White House.

I also had an e-mail asking why I didn't participate in the joint-post last night? That was Betty's "Barack's 'catty girl' problems," Ty's "Bonus," Wally's "THIS JUST IN! BARACK -- IT RHYMES WITH 'WITCH'" and Cedric's "Barack the Witchy Worm" (joint-post). I wasn't asked. That's not their fault. They tried to call. I was on my cell phone with several friends (including Rebecca and Ruth) and Wally and Cedric were calling my landline with no luck. I junked it.

I was needing a new phone before Wally and I started working Indiana to get out the vote for Hillary. The battery was always dying. Only it wasn't the battery because I had replaced it with a new one. (I'm speaking of my cordless phone.) Then when I got back at some point I banged it up by accident bending the attena on the phone. So I told myself I'd get a new one. But then I started using my weekends to get out the vote in South Dakota and elsewhere. Tuesday, I looked at the phone and just trashed it. Told myself I'd get a new one after work on Friday. I have a phone with a cord in the front of my home but I don't like the ringer so it's always off. I didn't think about that when I trashed the phone. So when Wally and Cedric were calling repeatedly, I didn't even know. Betty called my cellphone and went to voice mail. When I noticed that, I called her back immediately but she was on the phone (her oldest son said) and I told him to please just tell her I called when she got off (her cell). So she called just after they finished their joint-post and explained that Wally and Cedric had called me for hours and they had wanted to invite me in.

I'm torn about the missed post. A) It would have been so much fun and so easy. B) I think I covered something important last night from a different angle. They did -- everyone did -- a great job last night. But we all hit on different aspects. And while it would have been so much fun bouncing jokes with Betty, Ty, Cedric and Wally, I also wouldn't have hit the topic I did. So it all evens out.

It was very nice of them to try to offer. If I'd had the ringer on the landline in the front, I would've heard it, taken the call and been thrilled to be invited.

But I don't know that I would've contributed a great deal. I can read it and see Wally and Cedric throughout. I can tell where Ty's brought in a point and I know where Betty's punched it up just by reading. So everyone had their part in that and I'm not sure I would've contributed much because I was furious with the Cult of Obama for trying to demonize Ralph Nader. They probably would've spent an hour (at least) trying to calm me down.

But we'll all do a joint-post at some point and it will be another important topic. (You know this topic mattered because we all wrote on it including Betty who has church on Wednesday night.)



Let's move to Gay Pride Month before I yammer on forever. In "Other Items" this morning, C.I. included a sentence that taught me something I don't know. (Not very hard to do.) Here it is: "[Michael] Hendricks is a war resister from the Vietnam era who went to Canada as a war resister. He's continued to be an activist. He and Rene Leboeuf were married April 1, 2004, the first same-sex couple married in Canada with legal recognition."

That's really interesting and appropriate for Gay Pride Month. I had called C.I. somewhere before noon and said I'd probably try to write about that tonight and C.I. kindly sent me some stuff and also suggested how I could find other things.

This is from "THE AMERICAN REFUGEE SERVICE" which is a history of the Canadian group helping war resisters and Michael Hendrix is mentioned once but I also wanted to include more of it due to the fact that (as C.I. points out) "deserters" and "draft dodgers" were welcomed in Canada during Vietnam, not just draft resisters:

Anyway, the groups merged and The American Refugee Service was born. As I mentioned previously however, though The ARS became the group's offical title it would never truly cease to be, The Montreal Council To Aid War Resisters. Richard maintained directorship of the group, David stuck with us for awhile though he kept pretty much out of the picture until the tv crews arrived for whatever reason. He loved having the podium. Eventually he left the group all together as Richard and Michael Hendricks, a gay activist and Council supporter, began doing most of the group's pr work until I took over the job. David died of a brain tumor several years later.

The basic function of The ARS was pretty much the same as it had been as The Council. We provided refugee Americans with an initial contact in Canada so that they didn't go stumbling around blindly into the cold midnight. Once they contacted us we set the wheels of the immigration process into motion. We also assisted them in finding housing if they had money, or provided them with a bed and meals at our hostel if they didn't have money. Getting them gainfully employed was a tricky and touchy area we helped in. Without a work permit, being employed in Canada was an offense which subjected the offender to deportation. Not a pleasant thought at all for a draft resister or a deserter. A work permit was obtained through application. Applications were typically backed up for a year or more. "Hey, one's gotta' eat, 'eh?" Through a small network of merchants, factories and fellow Americans who had established business' or companies in Canada, we managed to secure life sustaining employment for refugees on a somewhat, "under-the-table" basis. It was the only thing that could be done.


Michael Hendricks went to Canada as a draft resister. Now this is from a column ("Still over the rainbow?") he wrote for the Montreal Mirror about his fight for legal recognition of same-sex marriage:

But hold on, gay and lesbian couples are already getting married in Canada. In Ontario, they are doing it. In British Columbia, too. So why not here?

In 1998, when my partner René and I started down the yellow brick road to full civil rights for homosexuals via civil marriage, it was not a very popular idea even in our own community. We had serious problems getting support; the national gay and lesbian lobby group, Equality for Gays and Lesbians Everywhere (EGALE), wanted nothing to do with us.

At one point we actually considered that, if they offered us "marriage lite" (Vermont-style civil union), we would take it. But by 2000, things looked better. Quebec definitely seemed to be the right place to start a marriage fight: the polls were running higher in our favour than anywhere else in Canada, the religious opposition was scattered and insignificant, TV stars invited us on their shows to promote it, even the Quebec Liberal Party supported gay marriage.

So how did Quebec's gays and lesbians end up last in line? To start with, we paid a price for being prematurely right. From '98 to 2002, the federal government claimed it was "doing research" and was not ready to argue the issues. While we objected, our provincial government was silent. For four years, both governments avoided the inevitable meeting. Meanwhile, in May 2001, while Quebec remained silent, the feds quietly slipped a statute concerning equal marriage into an otherwise boring law intended to reconcile Canadian common law with the Quebec Civil Code, the "Harmonisation Act." Overnight, same-sex couples in Quebec, and only in Quebec, were subjected to a federal statute defining marriage as between a man and a woman. There is no other statute anywhere in Canada that defines marriage in this fashion. In the other provinces, citizens live under common law, judge-made law, which judges can change - as they just did in B.C. and Ontario.

So what a strong person he must be. He fought against an illegal war and he fought for the right to marry. He won both times so he's not just strong, he's also a winner.

Which brings up something I read in an e-mail every day. Yes, I've read about how African-American or Black couples are not rushing to marry in California. Is it true? I hope not. But I've read those articles and this "We like to really plan weddings" that seems to get offered over and over is a LIE. We like to be married as much as any White person. I think what you're seeing is homophobia.

(1) Some aren't out to their parents. (2) Some are out and their parents play what I'll call The Donna Brazile Game: Fine but I don't want to see it! (3) Due to the second, a lot are hoping they can convince bigoted parents to attend weddings. (4) A 'big' wedding will be a problem for some families where they don't all know that one of the family members is gay. (5) Personal homophobia on the part of people quoted in the articles that says it's not really a wedding, due to it being same-sex.

I don't for a minute believe that California has no African-Americans getting married. There are African-Americans marrying one another and marrying people of other races. But there's very real external homophobia in the African-American community (which is why no one should ever forgive Barack for using it as a scare tactice to get votes in South Carolina) and there is also the internalized homophobia.

It also needs to be noted that if the parents are homophobic and someone wanted to be given away by her or his father and the father was refusing, that could play in as well. (I'm not saying straight African-American males are more homophobic than African-American females, I am saying the father has a stronger role in most wedding ceremonies than does the mother.)

So, yes, I've seen those ridiculous articles where the lesbian (it's usually a woman quoted and I've seen the same woman quoted in four articles) says she and her partner have been together X years but, no, they aren't in a rush to get married. Now, no one has to get married. It's fine to be opposed to marriage down the line. But if you're opposed to marriage, you can usually say that. I think homophobia -- internal or external -- is at play.

I just called Ty. I thought he told me he was attending a wedding this week. He's been attending them non-stop since it became legal. He said the wedding he'll be at Friday is two African-American males and there was a wedding last week between an African-American female and a White female. So, no surprise, they are getting married. It's just not getting reported -- not even in 'independent' media.


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



Thursday, June 26, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces multiple deaths, the treaty the White House wants encounters more public Republican opposition, withdrawal and play-withdrawal are discussed, and more.

Starting with war resistance. Corey Glass held a press conference yesterday. May 21st was when Corey Glass was told he would be deported. Corey Glass is an Iraq War veteran and a US war resister. He went to Canada seeking asylum -- the kind of welcoming Canada provided to war resisters ("draft dodgers" and "deserters") during Vietnam. After being told he was being deported, he's been 'extended' through July 10th. June 3rd Canada's House of Commons voted (non-binding motion) in favor of Canada being a safe harbor for war resisters. Brett Clarkson (Toronto Sun) explains Olivia Chow (NDP MP), Maurizio Bevilacqua (Liberal Party MP), Michelle Robidoux (War Resisters Support Campaign) and Gloria Nafziger (Amnesty International) joined the press conference and Glass is quoted declaring of the Iraq War, "It's blatantly illegal. I don't care, they can give me a death sentence. I'd rather be put to death than have to do that war. It's wrong."

Canada's War Resisters Support Campaign will hold a "Rally to Stop the Deportation of Parkdale Resident Corey Glass" July 3rd, begins at 7:00 p.m. (with doors opening at six p.m.) at the May Robinson Building, 20 West Lodge, Toronto: "In 2002, Corey joined the Indiana National Guard. He was told he would not have to fight on foreign shores. But in 2005 he was sent to Iraq. What he saw there caused him to become a conscientious objector and he came to Canada. On May 21, 2008, he got his final order to leave Canada by July 10, 2008. Then on June 3 Parliament passed a motion for all the war resisters to stay in Canada. However the Harper government says it will ignore this motion." To pressure the Stephen Harper government to honor the House of Commons vote, Gerry Condon, War Resisters Support Campaign and Courage to Resist all encourage contacting the Diane Finley (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration -- 613.996.4974, phone; 613.996.9749, fax; e-mail http://thecommonills.blogspot.com/mc/compose?to=finley.d@parl.gc.ca -- that's "finley.d" at "parl.gc.ca") and Stephen Harper (Prime Minister, 613.992.4211, phone; 613.941.6900, fax; e-mail http://thecommonills.blogspot.com/mc/compose?to=pm@pm.gc.ca -- that's "pm" at "pm.gc.ca"). Courage to Resist collected more than 10,000 letters to send before the vote. Now they've started a new letter you can use online here.

There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Megan Bean, Chris Bean, Matthis Chiroux, Richard Droste, Michael Barnes, Matt Mishler, Josh Randall, Robby Keller, Justiniano Rodrigues, 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, Jose Vasquez, 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, Logan Laituri, Jason Marek, 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. In addition, VETWOW is an organization that assists those suffering from MST (Military Sexual Trauma).

Jean Fievet (ABC News) reports, "Maj. Gen. Mark Hertling, commander of U.S. forces in northern Iraq, sounds very upbeat these days about the future of Iraq." Mark your calendars, that and the following statement (by Hertling) are the kinds of things that haunt you, "The people who had at one time oposed Maliki suddenly said, 'Hey, this guy's getting it done,' Hertling said. 'So I think he's turned a lot of the Iraqi people'." Of course, we may not need to mark anything down to remember that claim (which goes against James Warden's Stars and Stripes article published Tuesday, by the way). For example, yesterday the US military announced: "Three Multi-National Division – North Soldiers and an interpreter were killed in an improvised explosive device attack in Ninewah Province at 10:45 p.m., June 24." Patrick Cockburn (Independent of London) observes, "US forces are now coming under regular attack in Shia as well as Sunni areas of Iraq with wide differences within the US government about the extent to which Iraqi security forces can operate without American assistance." Cockburn points out that the 'success' "at the end of the fighting with the Medhi Army came largely because neither Mr Sadr nor the Iranian government wanted a confrontation at this time."

Meanwhile the White House continues to hammer out a treaty with puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki. The Toledo Blade notes that US Senator George Voinovich (Republican) has sent a letter to the White House requesting that Bully Boy shelve any longterm plans and instead focus on a stop-gap measure that would not bind anyone's hands: "Top Democrats and Republicans also have been complaining that the President is rushing the negotiations - senior U.S. officials insist the talks be completed by July 31 - to seal a strategic framework for protecting Iraq that could make it difficult for the next president to withdraw U.S. forces from the country." Deutsche Presse-Agentur reports that yesterday's meeting between Iraqi President Jalil Talibani and the Bully Boy was in part to talk about the "agreement for the stationing of US forces in Iraq." Really? Briefing the press yesterday afternoon White House flack Dana Perino was asked if Talabani and Bully Boy got "into the details of it" and she responded, "No, I don't think -- no, I don't -- the negotiators are getting into the details." Today Gina Chon (Wall St. Journal) reports, "Crucial differences remain between Iraq and the U.S. over a security pact, known as a Status of Forces Agreement, which will determine the scope of the U.S. troop presence in Iraq for the coming years. Because a comprehensive deal may not come in time for a July 31 deadline, both sides are now considering temporary measures for the U.S. military's operation in Iraq as they continue to negotiate a Status of Forces Agreement." Meanwhile David Lerman (Daily Press) reports that US House Rep J. Randy Forbes (Republican) is aruging that if something is not worked out that provides "security and legal protections for American forces," US troops should be withdrawn "by year''s end". Fouad Ajami (US News & World Reports) explains, "As it stands, the American occupation now rests on a United Nations mandate under Chapter 7 of its charter that sanctions Iraq as a threat to peace and abridges its sovereignty. That mandate expires by the end of the year, and the Bush administration is keen to give the American presence the status of a bilateral security arrangement." Seumas Milne (Guardian of London) asserts, "The last thing on anyone's mind, we were told when the tanks rolled in, was permanent US control, let alone the recolonisation of Iraq. This was about the Iraqis finally getting a chance to run their own affairs in freedom. But five years on, George Bush and Dick Cheney are putting the screws on their Green Zone government to sign a secret deal for indefinite military occupation, which would effectively reduce Iraq to a long-term vassal state." This as James Rainey (Los Angeles Times) presents allegedly informed people but somehow they missed Barack Obama's CNN interview with Candy Crowley June 5th, the one where he explained his 'position'(s) on Iraq:

Well, you know, I'd never say there's 'nothing' or 'never' or 'no way' in which I'd change my mind." Obviously, I'm open to the facts and to reason. And there's no doubt that we've seen significant improvements in security on the ground in Iraq. And our troops, and Gen. Petraeus, deserve enormous credit for that. I have to look at this issue from a broader perspective, though.

If it sounds familiar, you're probably think of what Obama advisor Samantha Power told the BBC last spring:Stephen Sackur: You said that he'll revisit it [the decision to pull troops] when he goes to the White House. So what the American public thinks is a commitment to get combat forces out within sixteen months, isn't a commitment is it?Samantha Power: You can't make a commitment in whatever month we're in now, in March of 2008 about what circumstances are going to be like in January 2009. We can'te ven tell what Bush is up to in terms of troops pauses and so forth. He will of course not rely upon some plan that he's crafted as a presidential candidate or as a US Senator.

And Council on/of/for Foreign Relations Lionel Beehner takes to Aging Socialite's Cat Litter Box to provide Barack with even more cover by offering five ways Barack "Can Fix Iraq, Short of Withdrawing U.S. Forces." The popping noise you hear is millions of Americans sticking their fingers in their ears, unable to face the reality that the Christ-child has no intention to leave Iraq and more than willing to provide cover for the War Hawk Barack.

The Project on Defense Alternatives released [PDF format warning] "Quickly, Carefully, and Generously: The Necessary Steps for a Responsible Withdrawl from Iraq". In the preface to the report, US House Rep Jim McGovern writes, "I have long thought the United States needs to withdraw its military forces and presence from Iraq. During many debates in the US Congress, I put forward and supported proposals for a withdrawl of our forces that would take place in a safe and orderly manner. The 23-page report (not counting preface, acknowledgements, etc.) is built around this premise:

The President has announced that a complete military withdrawal from Iraq will take place over the next 12-18 months. What concrete policy steps can the US government take, immediately and during the withdrawal, to encourage peace and stability in Iraq?

So, apparently, the Project on Defense Alternatives is expecting the next president to be Bob Barr, Cynthia McKinney or Ralph Nader since those are the only ones promising to end the illegal war. A variety of proposals are offered as they attempt "to specify what can and should be done to minimize violence in Iraq and soothe regional tensions as the United States leaves." The report undercuts itself throughout and the reason is probably best summed up on page 9: "The departure of US troops does not -- and must not -- mean the United States abandons its responsibility to Iraq. National interest and morality demand that the United States do everything in its power to contribute to the alleviation of suffering and the advancement of stability and peace in the country. The idea that an open-ended, military deployment can bring progess in Iraq is an illusion." So is the idea that an open-ended 'diplomatic' deployment could bring progress in Iraq. Only Iraqis can bring progress to Iraq. The US has no "responsilibility" to Iraq. There are financial debts owed (and the report acknowledges this) but the very idea of using "responsibility" as though the US - Iraq relationship was that of a parent - child is the same "We know best" patronizing attitude that allowed so many (including left 'interventionists' like Samantha Power) to jump on board with the illegal war before it started. By the same token, 'morality'? Unless you're in church or wear a collar, try sticking to ethics. The report laments that a US departure will mean less US impact (". . . the ability of the United States to affect what happens in Iraq will diminish upon withdrawal. Yet withdrawal also opens up possiblities . . ."). The strong aspects of the report largely revolve around realizing the financial debts to be paid. The weak aspects of the report are in the arrogance that wafts off each page. An illegal war of choice taught no humility. The message seems to be, "We can still be overbearing! Only this time, will smother them with kindness!" How about the US just leaves. How about they leave, grasp that Iraqis are adults and let Iraqis sort out their own country? The arrogance to be found on page after page (not surprising considering some of the ones participating in this report) would lead to armed conflict in a peaceful region.

If McCain wins the White House, he's not going to give a damn about this report. I can't imagine that Nader or McKinney would be impressed either (for different reasons than McCain). Barack? He'd love this report. His public promise (already revealed to be a lie) is to remove "combat" troops. But even when he was pushing that lie hard, it wasn't convincing. "Combat" troops will be classified -- as will all troops -- by the US president. Meaning you can leave "combat" troops in Iraq but call thems something else. Second, as he revealed to the New York Times before the primaries started, if things began to crumble in Iraq, he'd send troops back in.

So this nonsense report that ties the future of Iraq to America (the US goes from Mommy to Nanny) is a recipe for disaster and does nothing to guarantee the end of the illegal war. If the Iraqi people are listened to right now (or at any time over the last few years), they want US troops out of their country. Where is that acknowledged in the report? Where is it acknowledged that Iraq becomes an independent country? Independent means the US stops pulling strings. Independent means the US pays the debts its incurred for this illegal war, it does not mean it gets to determine what course Iraq decides to steer. The report frets about other countries. Those would be Iraq's immediate neighbors and, Bremer Walls or not, Iraq will have to get along with its neighbors. The US is not an immediate neighbor and has no business butting in like some overzealous nanny on a playground.

But that's the sort of crap ("Play nice! Play nice or I'm going to separate you!") this report offers. For example: "Support the establishment, as part of the existing International Compact with Iraq, of an International Support Group comprising the five permanent Security Council members, Iraq's six neighbors, and a represenative fo the UN Secretary General." Oh, how sweet: a playdate! First off, there is never equality in any group that includes permanent members of the UN Security Council (they have veto power on the Security Council and that would shape any group they served with -- the threat). Second off, it takes a lot of nerve for the same government that destroyed Iraq (the US government) to now decide who will be on the group ensuring Iraq's future. Does no one get how damn patronizing this report is? The lame report is nothing but cover for Barack (produced when they thought he would need it -- published long after it's clear he won't need it). It's supposed to read, "See, it's not 'just withdrawal,' it's a plan!" No, it's an insult. The US needs to leave Iraq. And it doesn't need to tie Iraq into groups and interactions that Iraqis do not choose for themselves. The report's an embarrassment.

In other news, the War Resisters League releases a new report entitled "Listening Process" and the contents are below (those with links have excerpts).

Introduction
Section 1: What is lacking in the peace and antiwar movement?
Section 2: What prevents the emergence of a stronger, more coordinated, more strategic movement?
Section 3: What are the biggest openings and opportunities for organizing today?
Section 4: How do we build a more multiracial and cross-class antiwar movement?
Section 5: What roles can veterans, soldiers and military families play in ending war?
Section 6: What is the relevance of nonviolence today?
Section 7: How do we link peace and justice issues and build alliances?
Section 8: What does base-building look like in antiwar organizing?
Conclusions: Where to From Here?

IVAW's co-founder Kelly Dougherty explains, "IVAW's three goals are: immediate withdrawal of all occupying forces from Iraq, full veterans benefits, and reparations for the Iraqi people. Our strategy to end the war is to withdraw military support from the war." It's a real shame the Project on Defense Alternatives couldn't have had the sense to adopt a policy that is both simple and shows the acknowledgement that Iraq is its own country and demonstrates respect for Iraq. The report sales for four dollars a copy (not including postage) and can be ordered online or for orders of ten copies or more, you can call (212) 228-0450. More information can be found here.

Today the US military announced: "A Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldier was killed as a result of an explosively formed projectile attack at approximately 9 a.m., June 25, in eastern Baghdad." And they announced: "Three Multi-National Force -- West Marines and two interpreters were killed in action against an enemy force in Anbar Province June 26." Hannah Allam (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that the bombing took place "at a meeting of tribal sheiks in Anbar province" and that, "The attack came just days before the United States was to turn Anbar security over to Iraqis. That plan is now on hold, American officials said." CBS and AP add, "Two policemen said the bomber was able to penetrate security because he was a wearing camouflage uniform of the Iraqi police commandos. Both policemen spoke on condition of anonymity for security reasons." Ernesto Londono (Washington Post) explains, "U.S. officials were meeting with sheiks, or local leaders, when a suicide bomber detonated a vest packed with explosives. One of the sheiks who survived the attack said at least 20 people were killed." AFP reports a Mosul car bombing that claimed the lives of 17 Iraqis and left eighty more injured. Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) explains it appears to have been the latest in an attempt to target officials -- in this instance the Govenor Laith Kashmula and Alissa J. Rubin (New York Times) notes that the death count reached 18 (but has the wounded at sixty-one). Issa and Allem note that witnesses and police state first came the roadside bombing (apparently targeting the governor) which was then followed by a car bombing (also apparently targeting the governor). The govenor survived both explosions. The roadside bombing wounded some security detail; however the car bombing took place next to a market and accounted for deaths and many more injured.

In other reported violence . . .

Bombings?

Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Diyala Province roadside bombing that wounded three shepherds, and a Falluja mortar attack that claimed 1 life and left a police officer wounded.

Shootings?

Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports three students were wounded when fired on by Iraqi 'security' at Baghdad's Saba Abkar center for exams. Reuters notes a woman shot dead in her Mosul home and 1 Iraqi soldier shot dead in an armed clash in Tuz Khurmato.

Corpses?

Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 2 corpses discovered in Baghdad.

Dropping back to yesterday and the topic of Iraqi civilians killed by the US military. Ernesto Londono (Washington Post) noted the 4 family members killed in the US air assault Wednesday and quotes police captain Ahmed al-Azwawi explaining this took place at night, that the man "sold propane gas for a living" and "was afraid thieves were in the vicinity." Richard A. Oppel Jr. and Riyadh Muhammad (New York Times) explain that the man, Afar Ahmed Zidan, heard prowlers and fired at them in the dark -- turned out it was the US military and an airstrike on the man's home was called killing "Zidan, his wife and three children, all under 10 years old". Yesterday, 3 bank employees on the way to their jobs drove past the Baghdad International Airport (which is near the bank) and were shot dead by the US military. Oppel and Muhammad name the three: Hafed Abudl Mahdi, Surur Shadid Ahmed and Maha Adnan Yunis.

Leila Fadel (McClatchy Newspapers) was on Democracy Now! today. We'll try to note it tomorrow. Instead of hearing that program, most Pacifica listeners heard the embarrassing Congressional hearing. The House Judiciary Committee made a complete ass out of themselves. Keith Ellison and Debbie Wasserman Schultz yelled and snarled which would have been great if they'd had anything backing them up. David Addington was far from the only offensive witness but one moment early on captured the nonsense (and Congress being willing to tolerate it as well as unprepared). A Washington Post article was quoted to him and he was asked "is that correct?" He responded by asking, "That the Washington Post reported that?" No, the part about him. To which, pay attention, Addington replied, "Could you repeat that? I'd have to listen closely."

And he got away with that. That is one of the most insulting moments in the US Congress this year. A member of Congress is asking him a question and he admits, after the question was asked, that he wasn't listening closely. The disdain was shown by the refusal to provide prepared opening statements. Staying on Addington, he worked hard on his opening statement -- he pulled a series of quotes he wanted to read and -- get this -- he thought he could quote himself. The vanity. But the point is, he prepared a statement. He just didn't submit it to Congress. It was one more way to spit on them as well as make sure they wouldn't be able to examine anything he might say. He stalled. John Yoo stalled (and his behind legal wording and classified status). It was a joke, it was an embarrassment. Addington and Yoo should be ashmed of themselves for the disrespect they showed Congress -- which does represent "We the People" -- and members of the Judiciary Committee should be ashamed that (a) they weren't prepared and (b) they let the witnesses make a mockery of them.

Turning to the US race for president, Betty's "Barack's 'catty girl' problems," Ty's "Bonus," Wally's "THIS JUST IN! BARACK -- IT RHYMES WITH 'WITCH'" and Cedric's "Barack the Witchy Worm" (joint-post); Marcia's "Barack smears an Arab-American," Mike's "LAT needs to fire biased polictical 'reporters'," Ruth's "Barack steals from Hillary and also tries to smear," Rebecca's "want ad: nation mag seeks new p.r. director," Kat's "Is there room for Arab-Americans under the bus?" and Elaine's "Barack (falsely) screams racism (again)" all covered The Cult of Saint Barack's attacks on Ralph Nader yesterday. Ralph Nader responded to Barack's nonsense last night:

Senator Obama said earlier today that I haven't been paying attention to his campaign.
Actually, I have.
And it's clear from Senator Obama's campaign that he is not willing to tackle the white power structure - whether in the form of the corporate power structure or many of the super-rich - who are taking advantage of 100 million low income Americans who are suffering in poverty or near poverty.
Senator Obama is opposed to single payer national health insurance.
Why?
Because he favors the health insurance giants over the millions of Americans in poverty or near poverty who are uninsured or under-insured. Eighteen thousand Americans die every year because they cannot afford health insurance, according to the Institute of Medicine.
Senator Obama wants to expand the military budget which is loaded with waste, fraud and abuse - instead of cutting it and investing the long ignored peace dividend in the inner cities with good jobs and public works - including schools, clinics, and libraries.
Why?
Because he fears and favors those thousands of lobbyists in charge of enlarging the military industrial complex that President Eisenhower warned us against.
Senator Obama says he favors a living wage. But he doesn't say he would immediately increase the minimum wage to $10 an hour, which is the equivalent of the 1968 minimum wage adjusted for inflation - because by doing so he would offend the big corporations who exploit labor in places like Wal-Mart and fast food chains. (The minimum wage needs to be increased immediately, not phased in over a number of years, as Senator Obama would have it.)
So Senator Obama, let's get specific.
We're looking for deeds, not, as Shakespeare put it, words, words, mere words.
Your public career, which I have also been paying attention to, is long on words, and short on action when it comes to consumer protection, cracking down on corporate crime, curbing the violence of toxic environmental racism, and extending clean, affordable public transit, among other issues.
For the purposes of the here and now, three things:
One, why don't you support single payer national health insurance, which is supported by a majority of doctors and the American people?
Two, why do you favor expanding the military budget which is replete with waste, fraud and abuse?
And three, why don't you come out and support an immediate increase of the minimum wage to $10 an hour?
When can we expect the authenticity of hope and change?
iraqcorey glassbrett clarkson
the los angeles timesjames raineythe washington posternesto londonoriyadh muhammadrichard a. oppel jr.
alissa j. rubinthe new york times
mcclatchy newspapers