Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Iraq snapshot

Wednesday, January 30, 2008.  Chaos and violence continue, Ralph Nader gears up to run for the presidency while John Edwards drops out, Little Media stomps its tiny feet over the Florida Democratic primary, Bully Boy says "Can too!" to permanent bases in Iraq, attacks on the press, educators and officials continue, and more.
Starting with war resistance.  Brad McCall self-checkout of the US military and went to Canada.  His first attempt to get into Canada last fall found him stopped at the border, questioned about being in the military and then detained.  On his second attempt, he made it into the country.  He is now attempting to receive safe harbor.  Earlier this month, at his website, he addressed those making threatening comments:
First off, to address these threats, I openly invite you to make an attempt at hogtying me and dumping me at the US border, for you will, my dear friend, not succeed in this attempt.

Nextly, in defense of myself: I am a deserter.  I willingly admit this.  I am fighting for my beliefs.  I will not back down.  You ask why I do not just serve my time in Ft. Leavenworth?  Well, friends, I know, as well as you do that if I subjected myself to that punishment, I would be completely ineffective in fighting for the cause of the anti-war movement.  So, I will fight going to prison as long as I can.  I have a voice, and I will be heard.
You can make your voice heard by the Canadian parliament which has the ability to pass legislation to grant war resisters the right to remain in Canada.  Three e-mails addresses to focus on are: Prime Minister Stephen Harper ( -- that's pm at who is with the Conservative party and these two Liberals, Stephane Dion ( -- that's Dion.S at who is the leader of the Liberal Party and Maurizio Bevilacqua ( -- that's Bevilacqua.M at who is the Liberal Party's Critic for Citizenship and Immigration. A few more can be found here at War Resisters Support Campaign. For those in the US, Courage to Resist has an online form that's very easy to use.
There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Josh Randall, Robby Keller, Chuck Wiley, James Stepp, Rodney Watson, Michael Espinal, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb, Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Peter Brown, Bethany "Skylar" James, Zamesha Dominique, Chrisopther Scott Magaoay, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Clara Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, Blake LeMoine, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Wilfredo Torres, Michael Sudbury, Ghanim Khalil, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, at least fifty US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.

Information on war resistance within the military can be found at The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline [(877) 447-4487], Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters. In addition, VETWOW is an organization that assists those suffering from MST (Military Sexual Trauma).

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.

March 13th through 16th are the dates for the Winter Soldier Iraq & Afghanistan Investigation. Dee Knight (Workers World) notes, "IVAW wants as many people as possible to attend the event. It is planning to provide live broadcasting of the sessions for those who cannot hear the testimony firsthand. 'We have been inspired by the tremendous support the movement has shown us,' IVAW says. 'We believe the success of Winter Soldier will ultimately depend on the support of our allies and the hard work of our members'."
Staying in the US, Charlie Savage (Boston Globe) reports, "President Bush this week declared that he has the power to bypass four laws, including a prohibition against using federal funds to establish permanent US military bases in Iraq, that Congress passed as part of a new defense bill. Bush made the assertion in a signing statement that he issued late Monday after signing the National Defense Authorization Act for 2008. In the signing statement, Bush asserted that four sections of the bill unconstitutionally infringe on his powers, and so the executive branch is not bound to obey them."  Elana Schor (Guardian of London) notes, "Bush's attempt this week to sidestep the permanent bases law, which aims to stop him from creating an indefinite US military presence in Iraq, may become as controversial as the signing statement sidestepping the torture ban. Such bases are broadly unpopular with Iraqis, who have voiced fears of an ongoing US occupation, and Bush's political opponents are suspicious of the administration's intentions along similar lines. Defence secretary Robert Gates this week continued the Bush administration's serial denials of any plans to build permanent bases."  As Dan Froomkin (Washington Post) observes, "The overall message to Congress was clear: I'm not bound by your laws."  The New York Times editorial board notes that Bully Boy's rejected a commission authorized by Congress to determine waste and fraud in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as this, "It's glaringly obvious why Mr. Bush rejected the fourth provision, which states that none of the money authorized for military purposes may be used to establish permanent military bases in Iraq.  It is more evidence, as if any were needed, that Mr. Bush never intended to end this war, and that he still views is as the prelude to an unceasing American military presence in Iraq."
Moving to England.  In the September 14, 2007 snapshot, noted the UK's Opinion Research Business' study of Iraqi deaths which found that "the 1.2 million figure was reasonable."  Today the ORB announces that they've gone over the "earlier work" and that over one million Iraqis have died since the start of the illegal war and, allowing for the margin of error, note "the estimated range is between 946,000 and 1,120,000."  In a press release, they note, "Detailed analysis (which is available on our website) indicates that over two-fifths of households in Baghdad have lost a family member, higher than in any other area of the country.  Meanwhile among those willing to declare their doctrine (and for quite obvious reasons about half those interviewed prefer to simply describe themselves as Muslims) those from Sunni households (33%) were significantly more likely to say the conflict had claimed a household member.  The respective figure for Shias being half that figure (16%)." 
Leila Fadel and Hassan al Jubouri (McClatchy Newspapers) report on the discovery of nine headless corpses yesterday, "The nine, including three women, had been targeted because they were suspected of being part of a local awakening council, or concerned local citizens group, that was working with U.S. troops to fight al Qaida in Iraq, said a police officer involved in the investigation.  The officer said the nine headless bodies were found with two DVDs showing one of the dead men confessing that he was a member of an awakening council and another man refusing to confess."  The 'Awakening' Council are thugs put on the US dime to become collaborators and whose 'loyalities' can not be bought.  The arming of the Sunni thugs has alarmed many but especially the Shi'ite thugs the US previously put in charge. Actual Iraqis will not be allowed to rule their country as long as the US continues the illegal war and occupation.  In Baghdad, Amit R. Paley (Washington Post) reports, the US military intends to "increase the number of garrisons in the city from 75 to 99 by June".
Meanwhile, Reuters reports today that Aala Abdul-Kareem was shot dead outside of Balad last night and that the journalists working for al-Furat TV (Shi'ite TV channel) was 29-years-old and the father of two children.  CBS and AP add that a "female correspondent and camera assistant were wounded from the roadside bombing." Reporters Without Borders identifies Fatima Al-Hassina as the correspondent and Haidar Kadhem as the assistant while also noting "two Dajla TV crews were roughed up by police yesterday in Diyala province, northeast of the capital" -- "Reporter Khaled Saleh and cameraen Laith Hamid of the Egypt-based satellite TV station Dala were physically attacked yesterday by a senior police officer in Baquba, the capital of Diayla province . . . while covering a conference on national reconciliation at the prefecture's headquarters.  The police officer did not want them to attend.  The Journlistic Freedoms Observatory reported that another Dajla crew, cameraman Adnan Khader and reporter Sawssan Al-Dulaymi, were beaten and briefly detained by police officers in Baladruz . . . for filming police trying to get fuel from a service station without waiting in line."
Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad bombing that claimed the life 1 police officer and left four more wounded, two people wounded by another Baghdad bombing, five security members injured by two bombings "underneath Ghadeer bridge," a Baghdad mortar attack wounded three people and, dropping back to yesterday, an Anbar car bombing that claimed the life of 1 member of an "Awakening" Council and left three more wounded.
Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports, in the continued targeting of academics, Dr. Khaleel Ibraheem ("head of Sharia in the college of the Islamic sciences in Mosul University") was shot dead along with "one of his students" in Mosul and a home invasion in Diyala Province that resulted in the death of one man and wounded his daughter and two sons.  In the continued attacks on officials, KUNA reports, "A district governor was wounded Wednesday in an armed attack in southern Kirkuk, at a time when authorities worked out a security plan to prevent the influx of armed groups from neighboring Mosul.  A police source told KUNA that armed men opened fire at the convoy of Taleb Mohammad Mustafa, the governor of Salman Bek district, southern Kirkuk, seriously wounding him and his driver."
Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 3 people were kidnapped in Diyala Province today.
Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 3 corpses discovered in Baghdad.  Reuters notes, "The beheaded bodies of two brothers were found in the town of Tuz Khurmato . . . They had been kidnapped by gunmen a week ago."  KUNA reports 2 "human heads" found in Kirkuk today.
Turning to US politics and the coverage of them.  As Mike predicted last night, Amy Goodman would get creative with Florida's Democratic Party.  She did so today.  "Uncontested," crowed Obama supporter Amy Goodman of the primary yesterday.  Others rushed to add more spin.  Florida voters spoke.  For those who have forgotten it, post-2000 elections, well into 2004, Little Media couldn't shut up about the popular vote in the 2000 presidential election.  Then, you understand, people mattered.  Their voices mattered.  But today?  They don't matter.  Today all Little Media's railing against the electoral college and pretending to give a damn about the direct vote, the voice of the people is revealed as ONE BIG FRAUD.  Liars.  That is the word.  John Nichols lied yesterday -- as Rebecca pointed out at last night -- and his lie that appeared at The Nation yesterday is all over today including at TPM Cafe "wwjb" embarrasses him or her self by citing Nichols' false claim: "On Sunday, she flew to Florida, violating the pledge all the major Democratic contenders has made to avoid campainging in the state that scheduled its primary earlier than was allowed by the Democratic National Convention."  In fairness to "wwjb," prior to this election, Nichols was someone you could take on face value.  However, like so many in allegedly 'independent' media, he's disgraced himself and the stain on his name will endured long after the Democratic primary and long after the 2008 elections.  You can't just lie and get away with it.  If follows you forever and a journalist -- even a columnist -- is not allowed to do that.  Reality noted by CNN yesterday, "Clinton attended permitted fund-raisers in Florida on Sunday and planned to appear with supporters there after polls closed."  In addition, Obama ran commercials in Florida (he claims it being a "national buy" allows him an exception but the DNC has said no).  Nichols leaves out that, he leaves out the Clinton was a fundraiser which is allowed and he left out the fact that Bambi's been in and out of Florida for fundraiser and, in fact, broke a rule in September while in Florida.  Via, William March and Elaine Silverstrini (The Tampa Tribune) reported that following a Tampa fundraiser, Obama met with the press to take questions: "The pledge covers anything referred to in Democratic National Committee rules as 'campaigning,' and those include 'holding news conferences.'  Obama seemed unaware the pledge he signed prohibits news conferences.  Asked whether he was violating it, he said, 'I was just doing you guys a favor."  The same article notes that Obama pledged at the fundraiser -- regarding the delegates the DNC is threatening to strip Florida of -- to "do what's right by Florida voters."
To recap, Clinton attended a permitted fundraiser as Bambi has done.  Unlike Bambi, Clinton did not hold a press briefing. 
Another lie being tossed around is that Hillary won Florida on her name.  As if Bambi hasn't been dubbed a 'rock star' for how many years now?  As if the people in Florida don't have TVs or newspapers.  Florida's actually more of an indication than any other primary thus far.  Most states do not get endless face time with the candidates.  (Which is why Michigan and Florida moved up their primary dates.  They were tired of it.  They should be tired of it.  There's no reason in the world that each presidential election cycle must revolve around what Iowa and New Hampshire want.)  Senator and failed 2004 presidential candidate John Kerry was too busy to step into most states.  In Texas, he dispatched Teresa Heinz Kerry to represent the campaign's attempt to reach the 'common' voter -- and at a hundred dollars a plate for the Dallas lunch, what could be more 'common'?  (I'm speaking of the primary.  In the general election, Heinz-Kerry was dispatched to other areas of Texas and was a stronger candidate than her husband.)  We could go state by state but community members in Texas and Hawaii are the most vocal (and have been from the start) about the nonsense of a primary system that always relegates them as unimportant.  Most primary voters will be deciding on factors that do not include hearing the candidate speak or endless face time.
Democratic voters in Florida made their decision and it was Hillary Clinton.  It is a huge disservice to them to imply that they do not matter.  Of course they matter.  People turned out in huge numbers to vote.  They voted their choice and the fact that 'independent' media doesn't like the choice shouldn't result in the dismissal of what happened: Hillary won Florida because the people there picked her.  CNN notes, "Clinton led strongly among women, who made up nearly 60 percent of turnout. . . . Clinton also led among men in general, but by a much narrower margin -- 43 percent to 38 percent for Obama.  She's also led strongly among Latino voters, who made up 12 percent of Tuesday's voters."  We're seeing the same petulance we usually see from Bambi -- he's dismissed it as a "beauty contest" -- which would make him the "ugly girl"?  It's certainly "ugly" for Obama to dismiss the people of Florida and their choice in that manner.  It's flat out rude.  Florida Democrats issued this statement: "Florida Democrats today surpassed the total combined vote in the first four 'early states', topped the total population of New Hampshire, shattered the previous state record for turnout in a Democratic Presidential Primary, and even broke the previous record for turnout in ANY Democratic primay in Florida.  Incredibly, Democratic turnout has exceeded 1,708,489 voters with 97% of precints reporting -- only 195,074 less than Florida Republicans whose turnout was relatively dismal, considering five multi-million dollar GOP presidential campaigns were working the state for months.  Republicans appear to have even failed to meet their own expected turnout, which was rumored to be between 2.2 and 2.5 million."  Florida's Democratic Party Chair Karen L. Thurman is quoted stating, "Florida Demorats have spoken, and they are being heard loud and clear.  More than one and a half million Democratic voters went to the polls and made a powerful collective statement.  The nation's largest battleground state proved today that America wants change.  Democrats clearly have the momentum in Florida and across this country.  No matter the challenges we face, Florida Democrats will deliver for this country in November just like they did today.  This is an incredible night for the people of Florida!"
Indeed it is.  Little Media talks a bunch of crap -- they're demonstrated it's just crap -- about how people matter.  They gas bagged about the electoral college after the 2000 elections.  Reality appears to be they don't give a damn about the public.  They don't care that Florida set a new record for turnout in a Democratic primary.  They don't care that more people voted in the Democratic primary yesterday than took part in the Democratic primaries or caucuses in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina combined.  All four put together did not even meet the turnout in Florida.  Over 500,000 more Democrats in Florida voted yesterday than in all the four states (Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina) combined.  Don't dismiss this, don't dismiss this many people.
It's not politically smart to do so.  For one thing, Florida has too many electoral votes.  But forget 'strategy,' it's just not fair.  And Little Media needs to get their act together and accept the fact that the candidate they've stroked and fondeled and attempted to cram down everyone's throats isn't that well received and may -- The Nation shudders! -- not get the nomination.  Too damn bad.  Get over it.  You're allegedly "journalists" and you're supposedly concerned with the "people."  But not one of you did one damn thing to stand up for Michigan or Florida.  Diane Rehm did.  (In this communtiy, all sites supported those voters.)  The DNC said no -- the national committee -- and tried to bully the states.  You who preach of bottom-up power didn't rush to defend the people.  You've disgraced yourselves -- all of you.  Amy Goodman, John Nichols, Katrina vanden Heuvel, go down the list.  People needed you (in this country -- maybe that's why you didn't give a damn?) and you ignored them.  Don't pretend otherwise.  You refused to buck the system.  You embarrassed yourselves and you exposed yourselves.
Now your candidate of choice didn't win and it's time to act like Florida didn't matter.  1,708,489 people matter.  They damn well matter.  They're more important than a single candidate and they are damn well more important than independent media which stamps it's feet like the White House upset over Hamas' victory and the MSM that echoed that anger.   If I go further, Jim will hit the roof because we're addressing the slams and slurs of the people -- of we the people -- by 'independent' media over and over during this campaign. 
This is a big issue and it's always a been a HUGE issue to this community.  Long before a book was written exploding myths (that the author repeated in a bad column about Montana), we addressed this topic in November 2004 (click here, here, here and here).  This isn't a new issue to the community and no one mistakes it for being "about Hillary."  It's about the people and independent media makes it clear that they don't care about the people -- especially when the people don't take their marching orders from independent media.  They've had a non-stop hissy fit.  Now they want to turn on the Democrats of Florida -- the ones they couldn't support when they needed support.  We don't play that game here.  But all independent media has offered is a bunch of games.  Take Mitch Perry -- allegedly reporting for Free Speech Radio News yesterday -- providing a quote from the Bambi campaign but none from the Hillary campaign.  Liar Patrick Cannon whines, "Since Barack did not campaign here in Florida he is at an extreme disadvantage."  What a lie.  He held a press conference -- in violation of the rules -- in Tampa in September and he read ads.  That's a campaign.  He's the only candidate who did that.  Not only does 'reporter' Perry allow that lie to get repeated, Perry couldn't be bothered with the Clinton or Edwards camp.  When your goal is not reporting or free speech or people power, you LIE and then you LIE some more.  And 'independent' media has truly shown its ass.  Ron Fournier (AP) tried explaining reality in October of last year noting, "The truth is that while Obama showed foreign policy savvy and an ability to keenly analyze both sides of an issue in his October 2202 warnings on Iraq, the political upside of his position rivaled any risk.  And, once elected to the U.S. Senate two years later, Obama waited months to show national leadership on iraq.  Even now, as he hopes to ride his anti-war credentials to the White House, Obama's views on how to end the conflict differ little from those of Democratic rivals who voted in the fall of 2002 to give President Bush authority to wage war."  But reality is to be attacked by Little Media -- attacked, ignored and distorted -- because they don't appear to practice journalism.
Mike Gravel remains in the Democratic race though some pretend otherwise.  John Edwards dropped out today (here for CBS and AP story which is text and video).  Neither Hillary or Bambi could pledge to end the illegal war by 2013 if elected president (nor did Edwards agree to make that pledge).  That's reality.  If Hillary gets the nomination, having slimed her so, it would be a lot harder for 'independent' media to abandon the illegal war as they did in 2004 to pimp a Democratic presidential campaign.  It's getting harder and harder for the Bambi groupies to promote Barack as a candidate who will end the illegal war (hence the need for all those attacks on Hillary by 'independent' media) and, as Chris Fusco and Tim Novak (Chicago Sun Times) point out, Bambi announced last night he was giving away $72,650 to make up for the equivalent of donations from federally indicted Tony Rezko.  That brings the current total of monies connected to Rezko that Bambi's 'given away' to $157,385.  "Given away"?  Obama already ran on that money many times over.
July tenth through thirteenth is when the Green Party will be holding their National Nominating Convention in Chicago. Click here for the Green Party News Center, here for a database of Green candidates, here for video of the Green presidential candidates and of course, if it's Green news,  Kimberly Wilder (On The Wilder Side) is probably posting about it. The Green Party has scheduled another presidential candidate forum for February 2nd at Busboys & Poets in DC (14th and V Streets) at ten in the morning -- Jesse Johnson and Kent Mesplay are confirmed to appear others may or may not. More info click here.  Yesterday on KPFK's Uprising Radio, Sonali Kolhatkar spoke with Daniel Brezenoff of the Green Party about the Green Party's press statement regarding those selling out the illegal war and offering a strong critique of the Democratic candidates.  "I think people, American voters, want to get out of Iraq.  We've been trained to have very little faith and to kind of settle for these people in their suits and ties who are going to continue things as they are."
This as Kimberly Wilder (On the Wilder Side) reports, "Ralph Nader in.  Ralph Nader announced his presidential exploratory committee."  At the site, Peter Miguel Camejo, Matt Gonzalez, Theresa Amato, Jason Kafoury, Sally Soriano, Matthew Zawisky, Nate Coppernoll, Julie Coyle and Carl Mayer have posted a statement: "Maybe the Democrats and Republicans who will nominate Presidential candidates this year who will stand up against the war profiteers, the nuclear industry, the credit card industry, the corporate criminals, big oil, and the drug and health insurance industries.  We doubt it.  But hope springs eternal.  In the meantime, take a few minutes and explore with us an idea.  The idea is this -- 1,000 citizens in every Congressional district.  Each and every one committed to challenging the corporate powers that have a hammerlock on our political and economic systems.  Organized citizen power facing off against corporate power.  In this election year -- 2008.  Instead of spending this election year sitting back and watching the corporate candidates spin their vapid mantras -- hope, experience, change.  Instead of spending the year complaining about inertia, exhaustion, and apathy.  Let us instead weigh the possibility of pulling together half a million dedicated citizens collectively rising up off our couches and organizing a ground force in every Congressional district in the country.  A ground force of citizens who are informed, committed, tenacious advocates for a just future."  Rick Klein (ABC News) reports that Nader says "that he will launch another presidential bid if he's convinced he can raise enough money to appear on the vast majority of state ballots this fall.  Nader, who ran as an independent candidate in each of the past three presidential elections, told that he will run in 2008 if he is convinced over the next month that he would be able to raise $10 million over the course of the campaign -- and attract enough lawyers willing to work free of charge to get his name on state ballots. Nader said he filed papers with the Federal Election Commission and launched a Web sites after Dennis Kucinich, a liberal Ohio congressman, announced his decision to withdraw from the presidential race last week."  CNN quotes him stating, "John Edwards, the banner of Democratic Party populism, is dropping out, and Dennis Kucinich dropped out earlier, so in terms of voters who are at least interested in having major areas of injustice, depravations, and solutions discussed in a presidential campaign, they might be interested in my exploratory effort." 
Cynthia McKinney declared her intent to run for the Green Party presidential nomination last year. Rob Redding Jr. (The Washington Continent) observes, "She is sharp on the issues and brings Greens a candidate with a proven policy track record, based on the fact she has served in Congress.  Because of her congressional record and unique issue selection -- one of her favorite subjects is COINTELPRO -- she just may be able to pull many blacks of the Democratic party plantation."  Author, poet, activist and Death Row prisoner Mumia Abu Jamal has endorsed McKinney (audio link).

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