Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "The Bride of Iran" is above. It went up Sunday and so did Kat's "Kat's Korner: Holly Near, Go Away."
Today? As Chocolate City notes, NBA player Jason Collins came out as gay.
So when did the 7 feet tall, 34-year-old retire?
Because that has been how it happens. Oh, I'm retired and not playing anymore so let me announce I'm gay. Because if you announce it while you're playing, you might get catcalls from the bleachers?
Jason Collins broke the mold. The Washing Wizards' center has come out while he's still playing in the NBA.
He came out in Sports Illustrated with an article that opens:
I'm a 34-year-old NBA center. I'm black. And I'm gay.
I didn't set out to be the first openly gay athlete playing in a major American team sport. But since I am, I'm happy to start the conversation. I wish I wasn't the kid in the classroom raising his hand and saying, "I'm different." If I had my way, someone else would have already done this. Nobody has, which is why I'm raising my hand.
My journey of self-discovery and self-acknowledgement began in my hometown of Los Angeles and has taken me through two state high school championships, the NCAA Final Four and the Elite Eight, and nine playoffs in 12 NBA seasons.
Jessica Lange may have been my first crush, in fact. I'm trying to think. She's certainly the first actress I saw naked (or topless). I was in first or second grade.
So hopefully, some little boy or girl will be reading it and realize that they're okay, Jason Collins is gay and he's doing fine. They will too.
The reaction of other active players has always been a question when it comes to an athlete in a major sport coming out. Other players don't get any bigger than Kobe Bryant, who tweeted his support Monday.
"Proud of @jasoncollins34," the tweet read. "Don't suffocate who u r because of the ignorance of others #courage #support #mambaarmystandup #BYOU"
While Bryant was accepting of Collins, NFL players Mike Wallace and Alphonso Smith, along with former Knick Larry Johnson, were among athletes to take a dissenting tone on Twitter.
Wallace deleted two tweets about the subject, then later wrote, "never said anything was right or wrong I just said I don't understand!! Deeply sorry for anyone that I offended."
Smith, meanwhile, wrote in a series of tweets that, "it's a shame I have to apologize for my TRUE feelings."
Johnson, the current basketball and business operations representative for the Knicks, tweeted: "I don't Jason Collins personally but he seems like a great guy. Me personally gay men in the locked room would make me uncomfortable."
I don't know if you know Larry Johnson but he's an idiot who's always embarrassing everyone. No surprise, he embarrassed people again today. He should really learn to shut his damn mouth.
I don't know Mike Wallace or Alphonso Smith, sorry.
Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"
Starting with war resistance, from the April 7, 2008 snapshot:
"I guess the hardest thing for people to understand is the reason you join the military is not the reason you leave it," writes war resister Kimberly Rivera (Rivera Family). Rivera is a US war resister in Canada. Like war resisters Josh Randall and Brandon Hughey, Rivera is from Texas. February 18, 2007, she, her husband Mario Rivera entered Canada. Rivera is the first known female US war resister to apply for refugee status in Canada.
Earlier, Daniel Chacon (Colorado Springs Gazette) reports that Iraq War veteran Kim Rivera was scheduled for a court-martial today. Patricia Collier (KOAA) adds, "Rivera faces a maximum sentence of reduction to E1, total forfeiture of pay and allowances, 5 years confinement and a dishonorable discharge." War Resisters Support Campaign announces Kim "was sentenced to 14 months in military prison and a dishonourable discharge after publicly expressing her conscientious objection to the Iraq War while in Canada. A pre-trial agreement capped the sentence at 10 months of confinement and a bad conduct discharge."
As Kim observed last September, "I don't regret refusing to participate and speaking out against what I felt was a completely unjust war. Doing the right thing is not always the same as doing the easy thing."
Though the left outlets in the US spent the day ignoring Kim (The Nation has nothing online nor does The Progressive), the Libertarian Reason magazine does have a small write up. Please grasp that as The Nation and The Progressive fail yet again, Al Arabiya is carrying a report on Kim.
How can that be? How can our left media repeatedly and continuously fail We the People? John Stauber explained Friday in an interview at CounterPunch:
These big players -- the paid activists at CREDO, Greenpeace, 350.org, MoveOn, the paid pundits at Nation and Mother Jones -- they work for corporations who have their own agenda, a business agenda, and are primarily funded by wealthy Democrats and their foundations, or by “socially responsible companies” that these wealthy individuals and foundations invest in.
The real agenda of the Big Green groups, the Progressive Media and Progressive Think Tanks, is raising money for themselves. What they do is decided and directed by their small group of decision-makers who are funders or who play to the funders. The professional Progressive Movement I criticize and critique does not ultimately represent or serve any real progressive movement at the grassroots. It markets to them for followers and funding, and every two years votes for Democrats as the lesser of the evils.
If you missed his article last month, make a point to read it as well. Kim Rivera stood up against a war that The Progressive and The Nation opposed in order to enrich their own coffers. Opposing the illegal war allowed them to reach circulation highs (while the pro-war New Republic tanked). But they stopped caring about being anti-war when a Democrat made it into the White House because that meant that they'd have to call out a Democrat and they're not going to risk the big money that comes in to have ethics or convictions.
Kim's a thorny issue for them. She stood up while they cower. Let's quote from John Stauber's column last month:
After the 2004 flop of the Kerry/Edwards campaign, luck shone on the Democrats. The over-reach of the neoconservatives, the failure to find those weapons of mass deception (sic), the endless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, turned American public opinion, especially among the young, against the Republicans. Growing anti-war sentiment, which had little to do with the organized anti-war movement, delivered to the Democrats what Governor Mario Cuomo called “The Gift.” The horrific Iraq war, he explained to a Democracy Alliance gathering, was the gift that allowed the Democrats to take control of the US Congress.
It was at this point in early 2007 that the truly dark and cynical agenda of the professional Progressive Movement and the Democratic Party revealed itself. Under Pelosi the Democrats could have cut off funding for Bush’s unpopular wars and foreign policy. Instead, with PR cover provided by MoveOn and their lobbyist Tom Matzzie, the Democratic Congress gave George Bush all the money he wanted to continue his wars. For the previous five years MoveOn had branded itself as the leader of the anti-war movement, building lists of millions of liberals, raising millions of dollars, and establishing itself in the eyes of the corporate media as leaders of the US peace movement. Now they helped the Democrats fund the war, both betting that the same public opposition to the wars that helped them win control of the House in 2006 could win the Presidency in 2008.
Kim faces a court-martial when a Democratic occupies the White House. President Barack Obama, remember the myth they created, excuse me, the fairy tale (Bill Clinton was right), that Barack was anti-war. If he really was anti-war, he would have offered some form of amnesty the way Presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter did previously. Grasp that. Neither Ford nor Carter presented themselves as 'anti-war.' But the Republican and the Democratic presidents both managed to do more than Barack.
Covering Kim now would be mean Barack might get called out. Were Julius and Ethel Rosenberg to face execution today, The Nation and The Progressive would gladly sell them out to protect Barack. They've deluded themselves that the mission of a free press is the same as the mission of the Secret Service.
Last fall, Yves Engler (iPolitics.ca) reported on Kim:
While Rivera expected to spend her time unloading equipment at a Colorado base she soon found herself guarding a foreign operating base in Iraq. It was from this vantage point that she became disillusioned with the war. Riviera was troubled by a two-year-old Iraqi girl who came to the base with her family to claim compensation after a bombing by U.S. forces. “She was just petrified”, Rivera explained. “She was crying, but there was no sound, just tears flowing out of her eyes. She was shaking. I have no idea what had happened in her little life. All I know is I wasn’t seeing her: I was seeing my own little girl. I could imagine my daughter being one of those kids throwing rocks at soldiers, because maybe someone she loved had been killed. That Iraqi girl haunts my soul.’”
Kim Rivera was deployed to Iraq. She's an Iraq War veteran. She came back to the US and couldn't continue to participate in the illegal war. So she, her husband and two kids drove to Canada where she sought political asylum. (Once in Canada, Kim and Mario had two more children -- their children are Christian, Rebecca, Katie Marie and Gabriel.)
While the Canadian government couldn't offer her support, many others did. Last September, Archbishop Desmond Tutu joined the call to support Kim. Erin Criger (City News) noted the support also included, "Amnesty International, the Canadian Labour Congress and the United Church of Canada have all supported Rivera." In addition, many individual Canadians support her as well as organizations such as the United Steelworkers of Canada which issued a statement calling for the government of Canada to let Kim and her family stay and Canada's National Union of Public and General Employees which also issued a statement.
Canada deported Kim and, September 21st, she was arrested as she turned herself into US authorities. In the weeks before she was deported, 20,391 people signed a petition calling for the government to allow Kim to remain in Canada. KKTV reports, " She has been charged with two specifications of desertion under Article 85 of the Uniformed Code of Military Justice. If convicted, she faces up to five years in prison and a dishonorable discharge." She stood up and did so without any help from The Nation or The Progressive. Kim's biggest 'mistake' was going to Canada after the 2006 mid-terms. Had she gone before that, she could have been Ehren Watada. The left outlets pretended to support Ehren. In 2006. Of course, after the 2006 mid-term elections, Ehren could -- and did -- receive more press from Rolling Stone magazine for his brave stand than he got from the 'left' outlets. While a few went through the motions of covering Ehren only because they'd already started the coverage in the summer of 2006 (when Republicans controlled both houses of Congress and the White House), most pretended not to know who he was. Kim went public in March of 2007 -- by which point, Democrats controlled both houses of Congress and, as Bill Van Auken (WSWS) observed, Democrats in office and The Nation magazine had other priorities:
Having won the leadership of both houses of Congress in the 2006 congressional elections thanks to a groundswell of antiwar sentiment, the Democratic Party leadership has now provided all the money and more that President Bush requested for the continuation and escalation of a criminal war, and it has done so under terms dictated by the White House.
[. . .]
In the six months since the November elections, the Democrats have sought to placate and deceive the voters who handed them the reins of power in the House and Senate by posturing as opponents of the war, while at the same time pledging to “support the troops” by funding that war and continuing to support the geo-strategic goals that underlay the March 2003 invasion in the first place.
On Thursday, this political balancing act fell apart in a cowardly and cynical capitulation to the White House. The inevitable result of this cave-in is massive anger among those who voted for the Democrats last November and a growing sense that none of the institutions or political parties of the ruling establishment reflect the democratic will of the people.
Countering such sentiments and attempting to resuscitate illusions in the Democrats is the specific task of a layer of the American “left” that is thoroughly integrated into the Democratic Party. Its political conceptions and aims—shared by a variety of protest groups, “left” think tanks and a smattering of elected officials—are expressed most clearly by the weekly Nation magazine.
We'll come back to the topic of war resistance later in the snapshot. For now, we'll turn to Iraq where the illegal war did not bring democracy or safety or anything worthy of praise. Ahmed Hussein and Ghassan Hamid (Alsumaria) report that Iraqiya leader Ayad Allawi has expressed "serious concerns" regarding the attempt to pull the licenses on ten satellite channels. Iraqiya is the political slate that bested Nouri al-Maliki's State of Law in the 2010 parliamentary elections. NINA notes the statement from Iraqiya which pointed out the "blatantly sectarian" nature of the closures since they focused on any who covered "the demands of the people for their legitimate rights." Yesterday, Nouri's government announced they were pulling the licenses for Al Jazeera, al-Sharqiya, al-Sharqiya News, Babeliya, Salahuddin, Anwar 2, Taghyeer, Baghdad and Fallujah. All Iraq News quotes Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi declaring, "The decision is considered a clear threat for freedom of expression in Iraq and completely incompatible with the concept of democracy. This decision will arouse many suspicions since Iraq is currently passing through a tense phase that requires all the media efforts to expose breaches and to follow up on the involvement of senior figures in corruption." Iraq's Journalistic Freedom Observatory issued a statement calling for the government to clarify the justifications for pulling the licenses.
The cowardly Committee to Protect Journalists finds a little strength today, just a little, and issued a statement which includes:
New York, April 29, 2013--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the Iraqi government's decision on Sunday to suspend the licenses of 10 mostly pro-Sunni satellite channels accused of sectarian incitement.
The Iraqi Commission of Media and Communications (CMC) in a statement accused the broadcasters of using a "sectarian tone" to incite against security forces and to promote "banned terrorist organizations."
The stations are Baghdad, Al-Sharqiyah, Al-Sharqiyah News, Al-Babiliya, Salah Al-Din, Anwar 2, Al-Taghir, Al-Fallujah, Al-Gharbiya, and international broadcaster Al-Jazeera. The local stations, with the exception of the Shia-affiliated Anwar 2, are pro-Sunni and criticize Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki for disenfranchising the Sunni community.
In recent months, Iraq has witnessed significant Sunni-led demonstrations against the Shia-dominated federal government. Amid the instability, secular and Islamist Sunni militant groups have launched attacks against government forces. Last week, more than 20 people died after government forces attacked Sunni protesters in Hawija outside of Kirkuk in a purported attempt to pursue Sunni militants, according to news reports.
More than 20? Yes, 50 is more than 20. And when you want to undercount the dead, be sure to grab the BBC's first article on Hawija which notes "more than 20" as opposed to a later BBC article that includes the final death toll "on Tuesday that left 50 people dead." Yes, CPJ, 50 is more than 20, it's thirty more. And if BBC isn't good enough for CPJ (they're the ones citing BBC), then how about the International Crisis Group: "On 23 April, over 50 were killed and 110 wounded when security forces stormed a sit-in in the town of Hawija, in Kirkuk governorate."
RT points out, "Iraq is often at the bottom of global press freedom rankings. In 2013, Reporters Without Borders placed it 150th in media rights on its annual World Press Freedom Index, trailing Bangladesh, Zimbabwe and the Democratic Republic of the Congo." Reporters Without Borders also condemned the pulling of licenses today with a statement which includes:
Reporters Without Borders firmly condemns yesterday’s decision by Iraq’s Media and Communications Commission to suspend the licences of 10 foreign-based satellite TV channels for “inciting violence and sectarianism.”
“This draconian and disproportionate decision has seriously endangered freedom of information,” Reporters Without Borders said. “Although the media must act responsibly, they are just doing their job when they cover Iraq’s current serious divisions and tension. "
“We urge the Media and Communications Commission to quickly rescind this decision and to allow the media to cover all developments of general interest throughout the country.”
If there's anything more cowardly than CPJ, it's the US State Dept today. Jeanna Smialek and Zaid Sabah (Bloomberg News) quote "a State Department official" ("speaking on condition of anonymity") stating, "This action undermines confidence in the Iraqi government's ability to govern democratically and guarantee freedom of expression."
Good for Bloomberg for getting the quote but can someone explain why it has to be issued anonymously?
Maybe because billions of US taxpayer dollars are still going into Iraq for 'freedom' programs? Ones that the US State Dept oversees? It would be nice to get an on the record response; however, there was a State Dept press briefing but, as usual, what passes for a press corps worked overtime to avoid the issue of Iraq.
Not all outlets plan to comply with the Iraqi government's order. Ned Parker (Los Angeles Times) reports:
A reporter from Al Sharqiya vowed to defy the government and said the company had already made arrangements that would allow it to send video to the channel's offices abroad, and broadcast from there into Iraq. The reporter, Minas Suhail, said he was in Hawija when he received a call from the Baghdad military command informing him of the commission's decision. Suhail told the officer he would keep working and said the officer warned him it was his own responsibility.
Suhail was unfazed by the prospect of being arrested. "I have been captured many times," Suhail said, "It's familiar for me to be captured."
Aseel Kami, Isabel Coles and Angus MacSwan (Reuters) add, "The watchdog is powerless to stop the channels broadcasting, but may make it harder for their local staff to cover events." But the government has other ways of stopping coverage. Mohammed Tawfeeq and Matt Smith (CNN) report that Baghdad Satellite TV plans to stop reporting unless the order is rescinded and quotes reporters Ahmed Saeed stating, "We cannot cover anything now. Iraqi security forces will immediately arrest us."
Wael Grace (Al Mada) reports the move has been criticized by MPs and media experts and that this is being tied into the media (the Iraqi media) reporting on Nouri's forces attacking the sit-in in Hawija last week. An MP from Sadr's bloc notes that it is not the media's job to bury news that is bad for Nouri. Dar Addustour also notes that this is about the attack on Hawija. Geoffrey Ingersoll (Business Insider) observes:
There used to be a joke Iraqis told about television: There are only four channels, and Saddam is on every one of them.
Now Saddam's long dead, it's a decade later, and Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki has openly censored the media.
It's just one in a long line of steps Maliki has taken to consolidate power.
If Nouri doesn't want bad news reported, easiest way to stop killing peaceful protesters. Alsumaria noted Kirkuk's Department of Health (Hawija is in Kirkuk) announced 50 activists have died and 110 were injured in the assault last Tuesday. You kill 50 protesters and, believe it not, your problem isn't the media. Nouri's failure to realize that goes a long, long way towards explaining why, in seven years as prime minister, he can't point to any accomplishments that's helped the Iraqi people.
The International Crisis Group outlines some steps they feel need to be taken in "Iraq after Hawija: Recovery or Relapse?" -- excerpt.
Yet the government also resorted to other, more hazardous tactics. It has tried to rally support by claiming protesters are sponsored by Turkey and the Gulf monarchies, harbour terrorists, belong to the banned Baath party or are driven by sheer sectarian animus. The result has been to radicalise the Shiite community, many of whose members now consider this challenge to the status quo an existential threat. This, coupled with the expansion and strengthening of the security apparatus, might well have persuaded the government that it could physically eradicate the popular movement without having to deal with it politically.
The Hawija operation is one indication. Extensive and seemingly well-planned, the purpose appears to have been to discourage any resort to violence on the part of protesters by hitting them directly – and hard. If this was the theory, it has proved deeply flawed. Already, retaliatory attacks have escalated. In a budding cycle of violence, protesters, anticipating further attacks from government forces, have threatened to ready themselves for more robust military resistance.
The most urgent task today is to tamp down the flames, and the burden for this lies above all with the government. Among pressing steps, it should withdraw its security forces from the Hawija square where the sit-in was organised; negotiate with Kirkuk’s authorities to compensate victims; refrain from provocative steps (raids, large-scale arrests, curfews) as well as from further deployment of security forces in provinces experiencing protests; and strengthen cooperation between national security forces and the local police so that security can be chiefly ensured by the latter.
Political steps to address underlying grievances are equally necessary. Unilateral, piecemeal concessions will not suffice; instead, meaningful negotiations with the protest movement – regarding the Justice and Accountability law, which Sunnis perceive as discriminatory; counter-terrorism legislation; and the make-up of security forces – are needed. In turn, this requires creating proper conditions for the emergence of a genuinely representative leadership in Sunni Arab populated governorates. Provincial elections in Anbar and Ninewa governorates have been postponed and rescheduled for July; they should be held as early as possible and without government interference.
Global Research carries an appeal from the Genevea International Centre for Justice:
In wake of the current attack and killing of demonstrators in Al-Hawija, GICJ has sent an urgent appeal to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions and the Special Rapporteur on freedom of peaceful assembly requesting that immediate action be taken with regards to these new grave human rights violations perpetrated by the government of Nouri Al-Maliki.
For the last four days, 4,000 peaceful demonstrators in Hawija have been surrounded by army troops, sent by Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki, who have prevented all access to food, water and medical aid. Access to all forms of media including journalists and news casters has also been prevented and anyone who was inside had their equipment confiscated.
GICJ has informed UN officials that the army and militias stormed the demonstration area at about 5 a.m. Iraqi time, Tuesday, 23 April 2013, attacking protestors who have been demanding that their basic rights be respected. This was a direct attack where forces went in and began to shoot heavily and indiscriminately using live ammunition, tanks and helicopters. Forces also brought in trucks with water hoses and hosed demonstrators down using extremely hot water, causing serious burns and deaths. According to our direct source in Hawija, at least 50 demonstrators have been killed, an additional 150 injured, and more than 400 have been arrested. Forces were also reported to have attacked the injured and set fire to civilian vehicles.
[. . .]
GICJ also urgently requested that an independent international mission be immediately established to thoroughly investigate the current attack in Hawija and all previous attacks and that a Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Iraq be appointed.
We'll continue Hawija coverage tomorrow including a discussion that a number of people are e-mailing to note.
For now, April comes closer to concluding and the number killed in violent attacks in Iraq has already passed 500 (Iraq Body Count counts 513 deaths from violence so far this month through Sunday). Today, National Iraqi News Agency notes a Karbala car bombing which claimed 3 lives and left twelve injured, there were mortar attacks in Ramadi and Falluja, rebels in Mosul clashed with soldiers leaving 2 soldiers dead, 2 Amara car bombings have left 7 dead and thirty-one injured., and a Diwaniyah car bombing has resulted in twenty-nine people being either injured or killed. All Iraq News reports 4 dead and twenty-five injured. Sinan Salaheddin (AP) counts 36 dead ("dozens" injured) via 5 car bombings. Ned Parker reports on the violence here, Mohammed Tawfeeq and Joe Sterling report on it here.
Over the weekend, MP Ali Muhsen al-Timimi, with the Sadr bloc, told All Iraq News the attack on Hawija is due to Nouri's psychological state which is under distress due to Nouri's political party (Dawa) doing so poorly in the elections. In addition, Alsumaria noted that MP Iman al-Moussawi (also with the Sadr bloc) statement that Nouri pressured the Electoral Commission to change the votes. These charges were made during the 2010 recounts and there was validity to them. If a few votes were changed this go round, this is major because in all but one province State of Law won, it did not win huge majorities. In Wasit, for example, it beat Amar al-Hakim's Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq by 2% -- Wasit had charges of voter fraud and had a huge number of voters turned away when security forces were doing early voting. There's even dispute as to whether State of Law comes in first in eight provinces. Some outlets are claiming it's only seven. If the IHEC would publish their totals -- as they were supposed to already do -- it would eliminate a great deal of confusion. Deutsche Welle points out:
There is a political North-South divide on the horizon for Iraq. The eight provinces that Maliki's rule-of-law-coalition won are all located south of Baghdad and include the capital. In the northern provinces, Maliki hardly has any supporters. On the contrary: protests against him have been raging there for months, but are beaten down violently by the army. In the village Hauwija, close to Kirkuk, almost 50 people were killed in one day, and 26 more two days later in Suleiman Beg.
IHEC still can't publish the results at their website but they did manage to post the following statement yesterday:
Recently, some Members of the Council of Representatives whose relatives were candidates in the recent elections have made public statements to discredit the IHEC and its work.
The IHEC will not be subject to pressures or threats of any kind. It is committed to its principles as a neutral and professional institution, a status confirmed by all international and local parties.Should these attacks continue, the IHEC will not hesitate to make public all details concerning the perpetrators and their comments.
What in the world are they talking about? They're threatening because they are accused of screwing up. And they did screw up. Voters were left confused and it appeared that people were not on the ballots. They have insisted that they received less than 100,000 complaints on this. So what? The country only has 16 million eligible voters. Do you think every one of them's going to call you? Iraqis thought that, for example, if they wanted to vote for the Dulami tribe, they'd go by the last name and find the candidates on the ballot. Instead, the names of all candidates were listed by the first letter of the candidate's first name. This led people to leave the polling stations upset and convinced that there was an organized effort to disenfranchise them. That the IHEC can't admit their mistake does not speak well of the body. This was not Iraq's first election that the IHEC has overseen. If changes in the way the candidates were to be listed on the ballots were going to take place, it was incumbent upon the IHEC to get the word out on that. I don't care if less than 100,000 called. They shouldn't have gotten one call on it. Instead of threatening, they should be apologizing and using this time to make clear how candidates will be listed on the parliamentary elections that are supposed to take place next year but that could take place this year (Nouri's called for early elections -- Iraqiya is fine with that provided that a caretaker government is set up so that Nouri can't again refuse to step down should his State of Law again lose).
In other news of Nouri's hurt feelings and deep shame, KUNA reports, "Secretary General of the Arab League Nabil Al-Araby is making consultations for choosing an Arab envoy for Iraq to act as a facilitator with all political leaders there, a diplomatic source said. The Arab move mainly aims to ease out political tensions following an Iraqi army attack on a sit-in protest in southwest Kirkuk on Tuesday, which left scores of protesters and troops dead or wounded, the source, on anonymity, told reporters." Alsumaria notes that Nouri's insulted by the fact that the Arab Leauge is making the decision and not the Iraq government.
Turning to northern Iraq, where the semi autonomous Kurdish region and where Iraq borders Turkey. From Free Speech Radio News Thursday:
Dorian Merina: Kurdish rebels announced today they will withdraw from Turkey next month as part of a peace initiative being negotiated with the central government. FSRN's Jacob Resneck has more from Istanbul.
Jacob Resneck: Leaders of the Kurdistan Workers Party have set May 8th as the date for a phased withdrawal from their bases in Turkey's Kandil mountains that border Iraq. The 30-year conflict between the PKK and military has killed more than 45,000 people since ethnic Kurds- estimated to be about a fifth of Turkey's population - took up arms in an effort to gain language rights and political autonomy. Some Turkish nationalists are critical of the government dealing directly with the PKK have been demonstrating in cities across Turkey. A 23-year-old activist in central Istanbul is collecting petition signatures, protesting the government's dialogue with the PKK, which is listed by Turkey, the United States and European Union as a terror organization. But there is also optimism here. Parliamentarian Altan Tan of the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party told FSRN that armed struggle is finished. He says lasting peace depends on whether the government's commitments are sincere.
Altan Tan: Turkey is writing a new democratic constitution, which will guarantee Kurdish rights. But, it's not certain that the Prime Minister will keep his promise to make a new democratic constitution that will fulfill the agreement.
Jacob Resneck: The PKK has also warned the military to show restraint and said any fresh offensive against the group could scuttle the agreement to withdraw. Jacob Resneck, FSRN, Istanbul.
Thursday, James Reynolds reported (link is video) for the BBC:
These Qandil mountains are the headquareters of the Kurdistan Workers Party, the PKK. Normally, this area would be too dangerous to walk around in but we've been invited here by the PKK. This is one of their soldiers here. We've been invited in order to attend a news conference by the acting leader of the PKK Murat Karayilan. Just have a look over there and see if you can see him, he's in the middle. He's the acting leader because Abdullah Ocalan, the main leader of the PKK, is in prison. He's been in prison since 1999. In late 2012, this movement, the PKK, and the Turkish government decided to begin a peace process. A cease-fire was called in March of this year and now we've all come here to find out more details about the withdrawal of PKK forces from Turkey, here in their safe haven in northern Iraq.
Saturday, Hurriyet Daily News noted the withdrawal is supposed to begin May 8th. Ayla Jean Yackley (Reuters) reported, "Turkish Prime Minister [Recep] Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday hailed the planned withdrawal of Kurdish rebel fights from Turkey as the end of a 'dark era' but warned against potential sabotage of a historic peace process." World Bulletin added, "As part of measures taken to prevent any confrontation or clash between Turkish security forces and the members of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) while the PKK is withdrawing from Turkey, thermal cameras will be turned off, military observation towers will be evacuated and Heron Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) will be deactivated, the Sabah daily reported on Thursday." If it takes, this will be historic and credit will go not only to PKK leaders and Erdogan but also to the peace activists in Turkey who have called for years now for an end to the violence and to the leaders in the KRG who have not been properly credited by the press for their role in the dialogue.
Now back to war resistance. Today Kim River was sentenced to prison for refusing to participate in an illegal war. She took a brave stand and deserves applause. She is part of a movement and, elsewhere, there may be good news for a resister. Steven Beardsley (Stars and Stripes) reports that Iraq War veteran Andre Shepherd who is seeking asylum in Germany:
His personal life has settled in the meantime. Married to a German, finishing his education and working in an office outside Munich, Shepherd has come a long way from his life before the Army when, after failed efforts at school and work, he lived for a time out of the back of his car.
His attorney believes his current circumstances mean he’s unlikely to face deportation, even if he fails to win his case for political asylum.
We first noted Andre's case in the November 27, 2008 snapshot. Andre self-checked out after serving in Iraq, while in Germany and he held a press conference explaining, "When I read and heard about people being ripped to shreds from machine guns or being blown to bits by the Hellfire missiles I began to feel ashamed about what I was doing. I could not in good conscience continue to serve. . . . Here in Germany it was established that everyone, even a soldier, must take responsibility for his or her actions, no matter how many superiors are giving orders." At the end of 2008, James Ewinger (Cleveland Plain Dealer) reported:
Shepherd said he grew up on East 94th Street in Cleveland, attended Lakewood High School and studied computer science at Kent State University until he ran out of money.
He enlisted in 2004 with the hope of flying the Apaches, but was urged to become a mechanic first.
Scharf said he doubts that Shepherd's expected order to return to Iraq would, by itself, constitute an unlawful order.
"His best argument would be that Apaches are used to kill civilians," Scharf said, but he still viewed it as a weak case.
The Military Counseling Network is among those who have been assisting Andre. nd attorneys on that effort. As AP's Patrick McGroarty observed in February 2009, Andre is one of 71 US soldiers who has self-checked out from "European bases in 2008."
the colorado springs gazette
stars and stripes
bill van auken
the los angeles times
national iraqi news agency
all iraq news
free speech radio news
national iraqi news agency
all iraq news
ayla jean yackley
hurriyet daily news