Thursday, November 22, 2007

And the war drags on . . .

"Of course here in Canada, the country has meant so much to those who do not fare so well in the United States, especially people of colour. From the days of slavery you were a door of opportunity . . . (and) people who were unjustly put upon found a haven here certainly during the civil rights movement. During the anti-Vietnam mobilization, Canada was a haven for young people who were war resisters."
Belafonte has harshly criticized the U.S. administration under President George W. Bush, whom he called the "greatest tyrant" and "terrorist in the world" during a meeting with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez last year. Belafonte has also had some choice words for former U.S. secretary of state Colin Powell and current Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in recent years.
He'll never regret his statements about Bush, he said.
"Absolutely not," said Belafonte. "As a matter of fact, I marvel at how tempered I was. The comment did not in any way match my state of anger and rage at those people, but I choose to behave as civilly as I can and set a civil example for those who might be influenced by what I say."
"But I," he said exhaling deeply, "I don't retreat one millimetre of an inch from what I've said. As a matter of fact, it's more evident and I'm more validated every day that Bush opens his mouth. I not only feel that way but thousands of people who write me say so."
Belafonte still lives in New York City, where he was born. He spent part of his childhood in his mother's home country, Jamaica, but moved back to Harlem where he started his career in theatre and music.

Keesha noted the above and it's from Victoria Ahearn's "Singer and activist Harry Belafonte has high praise for Canada" (The Canadian Press). Harry Belafonte's has received the International Diversity Award from the Canadian Council of Christians and Jews and there's only one Harry Belafonte. Of course, as Keesha reminds, he received another 'honor' in 2006 -- Katrina vanden Heuvel elected to include him on a list of 'bad' to score points in her shameful move to the center. And, it should be noted, in order to have a bad column printed in the mainstream. (The non-stop, run on embarrassment was published in full online by The Nation.)

For those who missed, that stab in the back, that embarrassment was picked up by the mainstream. David Montgomery cited it in "Tally Mon Come, Name Belafonte" (Washington Post):

Even some allies on the left have wondered whether the old man is going too far. Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor and publisher of the Nation, recently called on people, including Belafonte, to drop the Nazi analogies because, she wrote, they demonize more than they encourage debate.

Katrina vanden Heuvel misquoted Julian Bond in the same article, by the way. The Washington Post ran a correction to her brief (and bad) column they ran. Column? The Post turned it into a laundry list which may be the only way for editors to publish bad writing. They pulled a portion of her conclusion, condensed it and made it the opening. At The Nation, bad writing can run free and did. On and on.

But The Nation is a political journal so what was the point of doing a hit on Harry Belafonte? Trying to score a little mainstream cred off the back of someone who'd done more than his share to make the world a better place. What a fine and proud moment for the magazine. (That was sarcasm.)

Cedric called it out in real time. Cedric and Wally have touched it on since. One of the coffee fetchers elected to post a comment at Cedric's site back in 2006:

I read your blog and like it a lot, but whats with the random vanden Heuvel attacks? I saw her at the conference too (i agreed with much of your critique of it) and she was ... by herself once and with a female assistant another time ... and i thought that Monday night panel was a good discussion. The Nation has also done a lot of work in the last mon th to expose Hillary Clinton's hypocrisy -- I commend them for it. anyway, love your blog but tone down the nastiness!

Tone down the nastiness? As, Betty responded to that (White) coffee fetcher:

Cedric and Wally, doing joint-posts, are trying to be funny unless they state otherwise. Nastiness? Little coffee fetcher, why don't you ask Katrina vanden Heuvel why she felt it was okay to hold up Harry Belafonte for ridicule in a column that appeared in "The Washington Post" and "The Nation." Cedric and I are both Black and forgive us if we don't rush to prop up a White woman that tried to get mileage by lumping a decent Black man with a long history of social justice in with a bunch of right wing crazies."The Nation" has done a lot to attack Hillary Clinton and they've given bi-racial Barack Obama a pass. As the mother of three Black children, I don't need to hear about "Black" Obama. I don't need to have to constantly explain to my children that, no, he would not be the first "Black" president because, no, he is not "Black." I am offended by that and offended by the heavy panting over the very DLC Obama."Tone Down the nastiness." It's a humor site, you moron. They have made fun of everyone here -- Republicans and Democrats. If you are a public figure, at some point you stand a good chance of being made fun of. And what kind of fool writes "tone down the nastiness" when one of the 'contributors' is "Bully Boy Press"? Every joint post reads "Bully Boy Press & Cedric's Big Mix." Get a life and stop worshipping at the shrine of your goddess Katrina. As a Black woman, don't speak to me about her multitude of virtues. There's a reason the White White White magazine sees Barack Obama as "Black," they know very little about race today and that's demonstrated in their coverage. As for Cedric and Wally's critique of the conference, they are just grabbing whatever is in the news the day they post and try to find a funny take on it. There were many participants at the conference they that liked and agreed with. They weren't reporting on the conference, they were trying to find a funny way to write about it and they succeeded with all but Katrina lovers apparently. It's humor and if it's too "nasty" for you, I believe many papers still run The Family Circus so stick to that and the Davy & Goliath cartoons for your laughter needs.

I love Betty. She does an amazing site but if you ever wonder why we all wish she had a blog, it's stuff like that. A White coffee fetcher will never grasp how offensive vanden Heuvel's remarks were. But the right-wing was happy to repeat them (including the faux 'democracy' group because vanden Heuvel also felt the need to take Hugo Chavez to task for his comments). Did Harry Belafonte, a longtime voice for peace, say anything outrageous? No. But to the timid mind of Katrina vanden Heuvel it was just the way to score points with the mainstream. Well maybe it got her a view more bookings on the low-rent chat & chews? And isn't that the point?

What is the point of the web? (Keesha asked that and asked that it be addressed.) When vanden Heuvel took a similar approach to bloggers -- telling them how to speak and what to write in her online snit-fit -- she got called out. But when she slams Belafonte the domestic web is largely silent. Why is that? Because you've got a White perspective dominating on the web in this country and a lot of them don't know the first thing about Harry Belafonte. If they have some knowledge of him, it's that his song was used in Beetlejuice. So she can use his good name to score points in the mainstream and it's not worth calling out? No, it is worth calling out. And if coffee fetchers can't grasp how offensive that was, they need to leave their limited terrain because there's a whole world out there.

You won't find it in The Nation which a friend with the magazine says has dropped their "IRAQ" folder online. Apparently Jeremy Scahill's latest Blackwater article is filed under "MORE POLITICS" because the rag's tiny interest in Iraq just got a whole hell of a lot smaller.

They're just there to try and make the people free,
But the way that they're doing it, it don't seem like that to me.
Just more blood-letting and misery and tears
That this poor country's known for the last twenty years,
And the war drags on.
-- words and lyrics by Mick Softly (available on Donovan's Fairytale)

Last Thursday, ICCC's number of US troops killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war was 3866. Tonight? 3874. Just Foreign Policy's total for the number of Iraqis killed since the start of the illegal war stood at 1,112,745. Tonight? 1,118,625.

While the US buys off and arms groups (similar to the Afghanistan 'strategy' and, my, how well that's worked out) and Iraqi refugees are paid and then bussed in from Syria, the violence has apparently vanished, right? Wrong. From Retuers and McClatchy alone at least 29 people are reported wounded and 54 are reported dead (plus one reported kidnapping). Most violence never gets reported. But let's all pretend things are looking up, things are looking up, things are . . .


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad bombing targeting a bus wounded two people, two Baghdad roadside bombings targeting the police wounded three police officers and two civilians, an attack on Iraqi soldiers in Baghdad with grenades that left one Iraqi soldier wounded, a Baghdad roadside bombing that left two Iraqi soldiers wounded, a mortar attack on the Green Zone, and three police officers wounded in a Mosul car bombing. Reuters notes a Mosul roadside bombings that killed 1 police officer (one more wounded) and a Mosul car bombing that claimed the lives of 2 civilians with twelve more wounded.

Total: 26 wounded, 3 dead


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 3 Iraqi soldiers were shot dead and three more wounded (and a Humvee "seized") in a Baghdad attack, "former member of Baath party" Jabur Haloub was shot dead in Najaf, a clash in Diyala's Al Kubat and Al Kilaeat villages left 22 people killed (three were resisdents, nineteen were not) and that a clash in Basra's Al Badran village on Wednesday left 4 dead (the clash came about after "the family refused to marry their daughter to one of the four killed militia men"). Retuers notes "a member of the municipal council near Kirkuk" was shot dead.

Total: 3 wounded, 31 dead (counting the 4 from Wednesday reported today).


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports Iraqi soldier Amjad Shalgham Bander was kidnapped in Kirkuk.


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 4 corpses discovered in Baghdad. Reuters notes 13 corpses discovered in Ramadi, 1 corpse discovered outside Hilla, a decapitated corpse was discovered in Kirkuk and a second ("of university lecturer from Tikrit") was discovered in Mosul.

Total: 20 corpses discovered.

B-b-b-ut! The 'surge' worked! Or at least the dollars bought off a lot of temporary alliances. Creating even further tensions as you pit one group against another. What did you do to end the illegal war today? I'm sure you did your part but, to tie in the opening, the reality is our media (big and small) doesn't. It's not really the job of mainstream reporters to end the illegal war, it is their role to tell the truth and there many of them are failing. Small media? Don't the bulk of them always seem to have other things to do.

We'll close with Marcia's highlight, Dee Knight's "As more GIs resist Supporters wrestle with courts in U.S., Canada" (Workers World):

Lt. Ehren Watada, the first commissioned officer to publicly refuse deployment to the Iraq war, won a big victory on Nov. 10 when a federal judge issued an injunction blocking the U.S. Army from conducting a second court-martial against him. The judge said a second trial would violate Watada's constitutional rights by trying him twice for the same charges.
has won a court victory.
In February, Watada's first court-martial ended in a mistrial just before he was to take the stand in his own defense. Immediately before the mistrial was declared, Watada told the court that to him, leading soldiers into battle in Iraq "means to participate in a war that I believe to be illegal."
"This is an enormous victory, but it is not yet over," said Kenneth Kagan, one of Watada's attorneys. The charges against 29-year-old Watada remain in effect, and Army officials said they would file briefs in U.S. District Court to try to prevent the injunction blocking a new trial from becoming permanent.
Canadian ruling against resisters
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court of Canada dealt U.S. war resisters there a setback on Nov. 15, announcing it will not hear appeals for refugee status by
Jeremy Hinzman and Brandon Hughey. These two Iraq war resisters have been in Canada since going AWOL from the U.S. Army in 2004.
The ruling was met by demonstrations the same day in cities across Canada, including Toronto, Ottawa, Sudbury, Nelson and Vancouver, organized by the
War Resisters Support Campaign. The campaign has the support of the Canadian Labor Congress, the United Church of Canada, peace organizations and thousands of individuals and families. Nearly two-thirds of Canadians say resisters should be allowed to stay in Canada, according to a June 2007 poll.
The fate of hundreds of U.S. war resisters living in Canada now rests with the Canadian Parliament. "Following today's decision we call on Parliament to take a stand by enacting a provision that would allow U.S. war resisters and their families to stay in Canada," said actor and activist Shirley Douglas.
Lee Zaslovsky, a Vietnam-era military deserter and coordinator of the War Resisters Support Campaign, said the proposed provision has the support of two parties in Parliament--the New Democrats and the Bloc Québecois. Pressure is now focused on the largest opposition party, the Liberals. If the three parties unite to support the provision, they could override the refusal of the minority Conservative government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, a Bush clone.
Zaslovsky said the campaign has generated massive Canadian media coverage and a "heavy wave" of e-mails and phone calls to Parliament from across the country.
The attorney for Hinzman and Hughey, Jeffrey House--himself a Vietnam-era war resister--said, "We're not giving up on any of the legal cases" of other U.S. war resisters in Canada. He said the current case means "we can't use international law [as our legal basis], but we have other things." Zaslovsky said there are another 25 to 30 refugee status appeals pending.
In the U.S., the organization
Courage to Resist has organized a letter-writing campaign to Canadian government officials. The letter asks them "to make a provision
for sanctuary" for U.S. war resisters, and cites Vietnam-era Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau's statement that "Canada should be a refuge from militarism." (To sign, go to
Courage to Resist.)
AWOL GI with PTSD arrested
As if to illustrate the claim that war resisters face persecution in the United States, on Nov. 13 Sgt. Brad Gaskins was arrested by Army officials and local police as he was preparing to turn himself in at Ft. Drum, near Watertown, N.Y.
Sgt. Gaskins had traveled almost 300 miles with his mother from his home in East Orange, N.J., to the
Different Drummer Internet Cafe near Ft. Drum. He was waiting there while his attorney Todd Ensign telephoned the base to arrange for his return. When the MPs and local police grabbed him, his mother screamed at them, "Why are you grabbing him?" "Because he's a deserter," they yelled.
Ensign said that Gaskins is suffering from Post Traumatic Stress disorder and severe depression after two tours in Iraq. He has been hospitalized for psychiatric problems and should be discharged from the Army for medical reasons, Ensign said. Following legal pressure and media attention, Gaskins was taken to a veterans’ hospital in Syracuse after his arrest. On Nov. 16, he was transferred to Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington.
PTSD is reaching epidemic proportions among active-duty GIs and veterans of the U.S. imperialist occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. An Army report released Nov. 15 estimates that one in five active-duty soldiers, and as many as 40 percent of reservists, are in need of treatment for PTSD. It adds that soldiers suffer even more mental distress in the transition to life at home than they show on leaving Iraq.
According to the Army, more than 10,000 U.S. soldiers have deserted since the Iraq invasion started. Every year, the number has gone up. Official statistics say 3,196 went AWOL last year, compared to 2,543 the year before. But
Iraq Veterans Against the War says the calls it receives suggest the real numbers are 10 times the official figures.
A large network of military counselors and lawyers across the United States is ready to help active-duty and AWOL GIs who need help. They can call the
G.I. Rights Hotline at 877-447-4487. Also, a growing network of churches and community organizations offers sanctuary for soldiers who refuse to fight in the illegal U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Articles copyright 1995-2007 Workers World. Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved.

Actually, we won't close with that. We'll close with this: IVAW is organizing a March 2008 DC event:

In 1971, over one hundred members of Vietnam Veterans Against the War gathered in Detroit to share their stories with America. Atrocities like the My Lai massacre had ignited popular opposition to the war, but political and military leaders insisted that such crimes were isolated exceptions. The members of VVAW knew differently.
Over three days in January, these soldiers testified on the systematic brutality they had seen visited upon the people of Vietnam. They called it the Winter Soldier investigation, after Thomas Paine's famous admonishing of the "summer soldier" who shirks his duty during difficult times. In a time of war and lies, the veterans who gathered in Detroit knew it was their duty to tell the truth.
Over thirty years later, we find ourselves faced with a new war. But the lies are the same. Once again, American troops are sinking into increasingly bloody occupations. Once again, war crimes in places like Haditha, Fallujah, and Abu Ghraib have turned the public against the war. Once again, politicians and generals are blaming "a few bad apples" instead of examining the military policies that have destroyed Iraq and Afghanistan.
Once again, our country needs Winter Soldiers.
In March of 2008, Iraq Veterans Against the War will gather in our nation's capital to break the silence and hold our leaders accountable for these wars. We hope you'll join us, because yours is a story that every American needs to hear.
Click here to sign a statement of support for Winter Soldier: Iraq & Afghanistan

March 13th through 15th are the dates for the Winter Soldier Iraq & Afghanistan Investigation.
Thank you to everyone for voting no snapshot today. Gina called me at noon to tell me of the poll (I didn't know about it) and the results. I gladly grabbed the chance. The gina & krista round-robin does go out tomorrow morning so check the inboxes. The roundtable was done on Wednesday night. We will have entries up here tomorrow. Mine may start late because I may sleep in.

The e-mail address for this site is

jeremy hinzman
brandon hughey