Friday, June 22, 2007

Other Items

A national veterans advocacy group criticized Camp Pendleton on Thursday for its "discouraging" treatment of Marines who return from Iraq with signs of post-traumatic stress disorder.
Investigators for the Washington-based Veterans for America said they learned from a week's worth of interviews with about 30 Marines and family members at Camp Pendleton and the San Diego Naval Medical Center that Marines are being punished, sometimes even booted from the service, for behavior problems linked to the disorder.
"I think we have the obligation to do the right thing for those Marines," said Steve Robinson, the group's director of veterans affairs.
Among the problems at Camp Pendleton, Robinson said, is a lack of support for family members of Marines with post-traumatic stress disorder. Some "uneducated and vindictive leaders," he added, are punishing veterans without considering that their behavior problems might be related to combat experiences.

The above is from Tony Perry's "Veterans advocates criticize Camp Pendleton" (Los Angeles Times). I think that's fairly straightforward, so let's move to Erika Hayasaki's "With Iraq play, students act on beliefs" (Los Angeles Times):

SHE could not look at her principal. The words coming out of his mouth infuriated her.
There would be no play about the war in Iraq, he told the drama class at Wilton High School: The topic was too controversial, too complicated.
Sitting in the front row of the campus theater on a March morning, Erin Clancy squeezed another drama student's hand and tried to hold back tears. They had been preparing for the production of "Voices in Conflict" for two months. One student sitting onstage began to yell and curse. The performing arts department head ordered her to address the principal with respect.
Erin didn't want to offend him either. In her four years at Wilton High, she had grown to like the principal. But this play meant more to her than others she had acted in, like "West Side Story" and "Grease." She had to say something.
Her voice trembled. She was 18 -- old enough to fight in the war, Erin told him, and old enough to vote for leaders who send people to war. So why couldn't she perform in a play about it?
It was not open for debate. Principal Timothy Canty told the students his mind was made up.
He left, and the students swarmed their drama teacher. It had been Bonnie Dickinson's idea for them to research the war and come up with monologues based on the words of U.S. soldiers culled from documentaries, books and articles. Dickinson had stayed quiet during the principal's talk. The students asked her: What do we do now?
Dickinson told them she didn't think there was anything they could do: He was the principal, and he made the rules.
The students talked of writing letters to the local newspaper or protesting the principal's decision. There had to be something they could do to change his mind.
It didn't seem fair, Erin recalled telling her father in their family room later that evening. There was a war going on, and she wanted her classmates to care about it.

No, it's not fair. It also isn't fair that while media big and small so frequently take a pass on addressing the illegal war, students fight for their right to do so. Again, don't say students are apathetic. If you're new to the topic, Amy Goodman wrote about this in "War and Censorship at Wilton High" (Truthdig):

I asked the student actors about their opportunities to discuss the war at school. Jimmy Presson, 16 years old, said his U.S. history class has a weekly assignment to bring in a current-event news item, with one caveat: "We are not allowed to talk about the war while discussing current events." The students said that they can discuss the war in a Middle Eastern studies class, but, they said, it is not being taught this year. "Theater Arts II was the only class in the school where students were discussing the war,” Dickinson said. Jimmy added, "We also get to speak about it with the military recruiters who are always at school."

That was June 12th at Truthdig. Wednesday, Goodman (Democracy Now!) spoke with Presson, student Courtney Stack and drama teacher Bonnie Dickinson about how the students won and Iraq Veterans Against the War's Charlie Anderson appeared to discuss how he enjoyed the play as an audience member and as someone in the audience who saw his words onstage. We're going to zoom in again on this exchange between Goodman and Presson:

AMY GOODMAN: Jimmy, how often do you get to talk about war at school?
JIMMY PRESSON: We very rarely to never talk about the war through the curriculum. In classes in which we discuss current events, we are required to not bring in current events that relate to the war.
AMY GOODMAN: Wait, what do you mean? What about social studies or history?
JIMMY PRESSON: In history classes, the current events that we bring in are -- we've been instructed to have the articles be unrelated to the war.
AMY GOODMAN: You're not allowed to talk about war in your history class?
JIMMY PRESSON: We're not allowed to talk about the war.
JIMMY PRESSON: Because it's too controversial, I guess. Because they don't want kids arguing in class.
AMY GOODMAN: Is there any class that you can talk about it?
JIMMY PRESSON: We can talk about it a little bit in Middle Eastern studies, a little bit, but it's not even that much in that class.
BONNIE DICKINSON: That class is not offered.
JIMMY PRESSON: Every year. It's only offered every other year.
AMY GOODMAN: So this past year, it wasn't offered?
JIMMY PRESSON: It was not offered this past year.
AMY GOODMAN: So the only class to discuss this was in drama?

The US is engaged in a war and a high school has basically banned the discussion. I would say censored. But note, Presson points out that recruiters can and do visit the high school. That is shameful and residents who are upset that Ira Levin revealed the town was the basis for Stepford (see Levin's novel The Stepford Wives) might do better to focus on how their public high school is refusing to educate the students about a war the US is engaged in, refusing to allow young adults a forum to exchange their views on the topic and pretty much failing every notion of education and citizenship anyone could think of. Instead of taking offense at Levin, they should be offended that, in a time of war, a high school thinks it can avoid the topic. It should be focused on next fall right now and demanding that a war the US is engaged in is part of history, civics, etc. As Presson points out, recruiters can come to campus. So a sales pitch is okay? Education isn't but your child can be subjected to more advertising in the public schools? As Clancy points out, she's 18. She could sign up without any parental permission required. So what kind of a school system stays silent? What kind of a school system doesn't present a lively debate so that the students can make up their own minds? That's not education and only a town full of zombies (male and female) would stand for it. Offended by Levin's remarks? Prove him wrong.

PBS' NOW with David Brancaccio has an online exclusive, Brancaccio interviews Robert Redford "about why he thinks 'change is in the air' as businesses find value in going green. Redford says enviornmental issues are gaining traction and that global warming will be 'huge' in the 2008 presidential election." You can listen by clicking here. Last week featured Laura Dunn discussing her documentary The Unforseen. Redford produced the documentary and you can click here for more on that at the NOW website or here for more at YouTube.

NOW with David Brancaccio will offer a look at charter schools in New York in their latest episode that begins airing tonight (check local listings for air dates and times). No, I do not support charter schools.

Turning to the topic of Yaderlin Hiraldo, the wife of missing-assumed captured US soldier Alex Jimenez, Micah notes Richard Sisk's "It's Chertoff to the rescue for war hero's wife" (New York Daily News):

"With my greatest respect for her husband's service to our nation and my sincere hope for his safe return, I ... have instructed [immigration officials] to take immediate action to resolve her immigration issues," Chertoff wrote Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.)
Kerry, who has argued the case for Yaderlin Hiraldo, wife of Spec. Alex Jimenez, applauded Chertoff's action and asked the Army "to determine if any other servicemen are caught in similar problems."

In the article, you'll find a link to a PDF version of Chertoff's letter to Kerry. We'll note the last two paragraphs:

ICE intends to request that the immigration judge terminate the removal proceedings, and this afternoon, Ms. Hiraldo's attorney informed ICE counsel that he would not oppose that request. If the immigration judge grants the request, ICE will grant Ms. Hiraldo discretionary parole into the United States and USCIS may then consider and adjudicate her application for permanent residence.
The sacrifices made by our Soldiers and their families deserve our greatest respect, and we will ensure that Ms. Hiraldo's immigration case is given every possible consideration. If you have any qutions regarding this important matter, please contact my Office of Legislative Affairs at (202) 447-5890.

We're noting that because there was already spin coming out that Yaderlin Hiraldo was under 'no threat' of deportation. Chertoff (see above) writes "ICE intends to request that the immigration judge terminate the removal proceedings". Those proceedings have been on pause. They need to be stopped. Hopefully, they now will be and the government will cut through the red tape and award Hiraldo citizenship.

Meanwhile Reuters reports that 17 people have been killed by US helicopters outside Khalis -- suspected 'gunmen'.

Martha notes Robin Wright's "House Votes to Revive Iraq Study Group" (Washington Post) and I'm rushing (and sick) this morning so there's the link. The article addresses the James Baker Circle Jerk. Congress voted (355 in favor, 69 against) to bring back the James Baker Circle Jerk so that they could hear the reports Congress will receive in September on Iraq and then, hopefully within a month, report back to Congress.

Report back to Congress? Congress needs tutors? Can somone sign them up for some Sylvan Institute tutoring? The idea that Congress wants to farm out their responsiblities is ridiculous. The idea that they cannot come up with their own plan -- something they were damn well elected to do -- is nonsense. They want to hide behind the James Baker Circle Jerk and, for any who have forgotten, that was not a plan to be proud of. It argued for the theft of Iraqi oil, it blamed Iraqis and really helped get that talk of 'benchmarks' rolling.

Now Congress (the House only thus far) wants to shirk their own responsibilities and hide behind the James Baker Circle Jerk? That's not cutting it. Congress needs to do their job and they have refused to do so. We've all been informed that September is the big month. At last, we're told, some accountablity from the legislative branch. And of course, the administration and the military brass have begun trying to back off from September. Now Congress (the House only thus far) wants to join in? They want to say, "We'll listen but we're just members of Congress. What do we know? We're not capable of thinking of our own."

That's what then waiting for the James Baker Circle Jerk to come up with a reply (hopefully within 30 days) is. The James Baker Circle Jerk was not elected in 2006. None of the past members (including Rudy G who couldn't make meetings and was asked to leave) were elected to Congress in 2006. Citizens want to see some representation and farming out the issue is only prolonging the delay. If they pull this nonsense, the Democratically controlled Congress, the GOP should respond with ridiculing 2008 campaign ads because they will be deserved. If you are a member of Congress and can't come up with your own ideas, if you're so cowardly that you need to hide behind others to come up with a 'plan,' you really have no business serving in Congress.

Billie's already read Camilo Mejia's piece (noted in the previous entry) and wanted this from Dahlia Wasfi noted (US Socialist Worker):

On March 31, 2004, four American civilians lost their lives in Falluja. They were civilians with military backgrounds, in the same that a paramilitary death squad in El Salvador responsible for the brutal rape, torture and murder of four American nuns was comprised of civilians.
Though they had GPS systems from Blackwater, those systems were not working that day, and they became disoriented. But they should have known long before, when they were boarding a plane for Baghdad, that they were going the wrong way.
Perhaps they only signed a contract with Blackwater to achieve financial security for their loved ones. But there is a word in the English language to describe an individual who sells his body, his principles and his soul for monetary reward. That’s a congressman.
In the same way that Nazi soldiers fell victim to their system during the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, these hired killers from Blackwater got justice served to them on a silver platter.
Then, revenge was carried out on a people who can truly be identified as civilians. In April 2004, U.S. Marines closed the bridge to the city and a hospital road--a war crime. The U.S. military and its vehicles stood at the hospital entrance--a war crime. And snipers were positioned on rooftops, targeting ambulances and the clinic doors.
Between 600 and 800 civilians were killed in that siege, but that wasn’t enough. In November 2004, the second major siege of Falluja began. The Nazzal Emergency Hospital, protected by the Geneva Conventions, was leveled to the ground, and Falluja General Hospital, was seized by the U.S. military.
Doctors described being tied and beaten, despite being unarmed and having only medical instruments. Burhan Fasa’a, a cameraman with the Lebanese broadcasting company, reported that there were American snipers on top of the hospital, shooting everyone in sight. In addition, the U.S. military blocked the Iraqi Red Crescent from entering the city for seven days.
The result was a death toll of between 6,000 and 8,000 civilians. This means that the Iraqi death toll in November 2004 alone surpassed the invaders’ death toll for all of Operation Enduring Freedom thus far. As we sit here tonight, death, destruction and war crimes continue in this battered city.
As of October 2006, due to the desperate conditions in Iraq of no security, high crime and targeted assassinations, it is estimated that 18,000 of Iraq’s 34,000 physicians have fled the country. Two thousand doctors and 164 nurses have been murdered, and another 250 kidnapped for high-priced ransoms. Sixty-eight percent of Iraqis lack access to safe drinking water; 81 percent are without proper sewage.

Remember that Dr. Dahlia Wasfi is interviewed (transcript and audio) by James Harris and Robert Scheer (Truthdig). And Jonah notes that Celine Nahory is interviewed on this week's CounterSpin (which begins airing today and -- by the time this post, will have already aired on WBAI -- but WBAI does have archives you can listen to -- the program also airs on radio stations throughout the country and can be streamed online at CounterSpin as well). Nahory is the co-author of [PDF format warning] "Independent Report on Iraq" which she wrote with James Paul and is published by the Institute for Public Accuracy. All links about to be noted are PDF:

Executive Summary [Read] [French]
Map of Major Coalition Attacks, Bases and Prisons [
See map]
Political Map of Iraq [
See map]
1. Introduction [
2. Destruction of Cultural Heritage [
3. Indiscriminate and Especially Injurious Weapons [
4. Unlawful Detention [
5. Abuse and Torture of Prisoners [
6. Attacks on Cities [
7. Killing Civilians, Murder and Atrocities [
8. Displacement and Mortality [
9. Corruption, Fraud and Gross Malfeasance [
10. Long-Term Bases and the New Embassy Compound [
11. Other Issues [
- Iraqi Public Opinion and the Occupation- Cost of the War and Occupation
12. Conclusion and Recommendations [

We noted chapter six yesterday. Francisco is doing an overview of the report in Spanish for Maria, Miguel and his El Espiritu which publishes on Sunday. And Jim asked me to note that The Third Estate Sunday Review will be doing the summer read issue (fiction) this weekend.

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amy goodman
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