Thursday, January 31, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces a death, women in Iraq never got 'freedom' from the illegal war, and more.
Starting with war resistance. "(Recruiters) use the lack of benefits of Latinos and immigrants to lure people in. The biggest problem is that they don't give all the information, they only give the pretty information, which is not the true picture," explains IVAW chair and war resister Camilo Mejia to Cindy Von Quednow (Daily Sundial). Von Quednow goes on to explain that "Latinos made up 13 percent of the enlister personnel in 2006, compared to 18 percent of the civilian population and there is an effort to increase those numbers to 22 percent" by targeting Latinos with advertising buys on Spanish-language television and radio which Rosa Furumoto (Chicano/A studies at CSUN) explains, "If you look at docments released by the Pentagon and the federal government, they have a deliberate attempt to recruit and socialize young Chicanos and Latinos for the military." That is one of two articles Cindy Von Quendnow authors for Daily Sundial. In her second one, she checks in on Camilo Mejia's life today in North Miami, "After completing what he thought was the end of his contract, Mejia found he had actually enlisted for eight years, not three. He decided to finish his duty with the Florida National Guard while going to school. . . . From the beginning, Mejia used his immigrant status to avoid going to Iraq (legal residents who haven't applied for citizenship can only serve a total of eight years in the military) and was finally allowed a two-week leave of absence to fix legal matters back at home. He never returned to Iraq." Mejia, whose Road from Ar Ramadi: The Private Rebellion of Staff Sergeant Mejia was published last May, is currently writing a second book "about his jail experience and wants to delve into the genre of fiction writing." In addition to that and traveling around the country to speak out against the illegal war, Mejia is also sharing the responsibilities of raising his seven-year-old daughter and "appealing his bad conduct dismissal and continues waiting on his conscientious objector status, hoping it will help others in similar situations." When Mejia made his decision that he could not continue to participate in the illegal war, he became the first Iraq War veteran to resist publicly.
Robin Long is another war resister. In March of 2005, he was informed he would be shipping out to the illegal war and he self-checked out and went to Canada. Thunder Bay's Source reports that he spoke in Thunder Bay yesterday as part of the ongoing efforts in Canada to raise awareness of legislative protection for war resisters: "Long says it wasn't an easy decision to abandon the army and move to Canada but his cosncience wouldn't allow him to join a war he didn't support. Long is currently fighting a deportation order, and splits his time between Nelson, B.C., and Marthaton, where he has an 18-month old son."
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org -- that's pm at gc.ca) who is with the Conservative party and these two Liberals, Stephane Dion (Dion.S@parl.gc.ca -- that's Dion.S at parl.gc.ca) who is the leader of the Liberal Party and Maurizio Bevilacqua (Bevilacqua.M@parl.gc.ca -- that's Bevilacqua.M at parl.gc.ca) 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).
Meanwhile 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.
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'." As part of their fundraising efforts for the event, they are holding houseparties and a recent one in Boston featured both IVAW's Liam Madden and the incomprable Howard Zinn as speakers.
Among the things IVAW advocates for (ending the illegal war, reperations for Iraq) is the need for real health care to be provided to veterans. Dana Priest (Washington Post) continues the work she and Anne Hull having been doing for the Post today by looking at the extremely high rate of suicide among returning veterans and notes "121 soldiers took their own lives" in 2007 which was "nearly 20 percent more than in 2006. At the same time, the number of attempted suicides or self-inflicted injuries in the Army has jumped sixfold since the Iraq war began. Last year, about 2,100 soldiers injured themselves or attempted suicide, compared with about 350 in 2002, according to the U.S. Army Medical Command Suicide Prevention Action Plan." This as the United Kingdom's Ministry of Defence trumpets an internal study that asserts British "Forces mental health statistics for the second quarter of 2007, published today, 31 January 2008, have continued to show that the number of personnel assessed and diagnosed with a mental disorder remained low." If true -- remember it's a study they conducted, not an independent one -- that would be surprising considering the abysmal treatment conditions many British veterans have faced.
Three British soldiers were wounded in Iraq today. Reuters notes: "Two British soldiers suffered minor wounds when the British base at Basra airport was hit by multiple attacks using mortar bombs and other weapons, British military spokesman Captain Finn Aldrich said. Basra is 550 km (340 miles) south of Baghdad." AP reports, "Rockets slammed into the British base near the southern Iraqi city of Basra on Thursday, slightly wounding three British soldiers, a spokesman said." The Sun notes, "Captain Finn Aldrich, an Army spokesman, said multiple rockets were apparently launched Thursday morning from the city, which is about 12 miles east of the airport, although he said the attack was still being investigated." In addition to the three wounded, Al Jazeera reports that 10 Iraqis were killed "outside the base" and that when the British fired "artillery shells" they "hit a construction company, killing one employee and wounding five others." Alive in Baghdad (text and video) notes "that in the last three weeks violence has returned to Basra, and more Iraqis were killed during these last three weeks because of the battles between Iraqi security forces and the militias. Reuters reports, "One U.S. soldier was killed when his vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb during combat operations in Baghdad, the U.S. military said."
Staying with today's violence . . .
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing wounded 5 people (three police officers among the five), a Baghdad bombing wounded two civilians, a Baghdad roadside bombing wounded four people, a Baghdad car bombing claimed 3 lives and left six people wounded. a Mosul car bombing left two people wounded and, in the continued attacks on officials, a Baghdad roadside bombing targets the caravan of Salam al-Qazaz (Deputy Minister of Electricity" resulting in one civilian and two bodyguards being wounded.
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports two civilians injured in an armed clash in Baquba, 2 people (father and son) shot dead in Salahuddin Province.
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 2 women kidnapped in Baquba Wednesday night at a fake checkpoint. Reuters notes 5 college students were abducted in Mosul.
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 2 corpses discovered in Baghdad, 2 corpses were discovered in Mosul and 1 severed head found in Tuz today (2 more found "near Tuz bridge yesterday morning").
Meanwhile Saleh Mamon (Great Britain's Socialist Worker) explains, "Though George Bush claims the 'surge' brings peace, in 2007 warplanes made 1,447 bombing runs. The US has unleashed a ferocious bombing campaign on Iraq and Afghanistan, with devastating effects on the population. This surge in the 'air war' is largely hidden behind talk of 'recent successes' for the occupatin." The 2007 figure is a huge leap from the year prior when only 229 US bombings were reported by the US military.
On Tuesday, Deborah Amos (NPR's Day to Day) reported on the realities in 'democratic' Iraq for women:
Deborah Amos: Rima, a 48-year-old mother of four, escaped to Syria a year ago. She doesn't want her family name broadcast because of relatives back home. In the kitchen, Rima seems a traditional Iraqi mother preparing food for her son and three daughters but when it came to education, her daughters have advanced college degrees just like her son. In Baghdad, Rima worked for a western aid organization helping improve the lives of poor Iraqi women until militants threatened to kill her.
Rima: So many times I went to places that poor women are living. They knew me. They knew my face.
Deborah Amos: Rima acknowledges that from a distance Baghdad seems safer now but she says she needs guarantees that go beyond safety to take her daughters back there.
Rima: There is no freedom. Can any girl, woman, dressing as she likes, going to jobs, going to colleges as before?
Deborah Amos: There are women in college, there are some.
Rima: But all of them are frightened.
Deborah Amos: Historically Iraqi women had more rights and freedom than many in the Middle East. That status declined in the last years of Saddam's rule, deteriorated further still after the US invastion. Religious conservatives swept to office in Iraq's elections, the new constitution reduced women's rights and religious radicals directly threatened women -- a story told be refugees across the Middle East. In Lebanon, 53-year-old Bosaf and her brother Feraz, live in a low rent neighborhood outside the capital. They fled Iraq's northern city of Mosul in June. Bosaf -- the head librarian at Mosul University -- was threatened she says because of her head scarf. Her university i.d. shows her blond hair covered by a flowered scarf -- a hijab. But that wasn't good enough for Islamist militants in Mosul. Basama -- a dignified, middle-aged woman -- displays a wicked sense of humor when it comes to the young men who dictated her head gear. She drapes a long, black garmet over her head, rolls her eyes in a can-you-believe-they-made-me-wear-this expression and twirls across the living room.
Unidentified woman: They killed many Christians, that's why she had to wear it.
Deborah Amos: But even a proper headscarf was no protection in Basra. Just ask 35-year-old Ala, the name she agrees to use for her family's safety. She worked as a translator for a western aid organization delivering food and school supplies -- a job she knew came with risks. But Ala says the bigger danger is the well armed and powerful in Basra imposing an extreme form of Islam.
Ala: What's happened, the whole change, attract every wrong value -- this is the religion: "God say that!"
Deborah Amos: Do you think it's more dangerous because you're a woman or because you were a translator?
Ala: Woman. Woman, yeah.
Deborah Amos: Ala now expresses her opinions in the relative saftey of exile. She fled to neighboring Jordan last year. But as a refugee there are other dangers for women. Many have been trapped into prostitution, she says.
Ala: Let me show you something.
Deborah Amos: Ala takes a folded piece of paper from her wallet. She says a Jordanian man -- old enough to be her father -- handed it to her when she first arrived.
Ala: Okay. And then he said, just in case my dear daughter -- you need anything, anybody bother you in this country call me any time. And you'll never believe what he gave me. Oh my God.
Deborah Amos: She smooths out the paper, points to a phone number and one Arabic word underlined. A code she understood.
Ala: Marriage. (Ala laughs.)
Deborah Amos: So he was actually proposing marriage to you?
Ala: If that was his proposal. This is what they're using women here unfortunately. Marriage is the gate or the knock for the door.
Deborah Amos: This is how the prostituion happens? You get a note like this?
Ala: How many women actually show the note to the police?
Deborah Amos: Ala has finally left Jordan accepted for resettlement in the United States. Basama in Lebanon and Rima in Syria hope for resettlement too because they believe they have no future in Iraq.
Meanwhile Judith Orr (Great Britain's Socialist Review) interviewed Haifa Zangana whose City of Widows: An Iraqi Woman's Account of War and Resistance examines Iraq's history with a focus on women.
Judith Orr: The US and British governments claimed that liberating women was one of their motives for the invasion of Iraq. You describe women who colluded with this as "colonial feminists".
Haifa Zangana: Women were campaigning and fighting against Saddam's regime for many decades and no one took any notice. But suddenly there was a huge interest in women's issues and exposure in the media about the untold stories of women in the months before the invasion. An organisation called Women for a Free Iraq was established. Within two months it was given all the media space available by the US administration with videos, interviews and meetings at the White House. Women were telling stories about their suffering -- of course some of their stories were absolutely true, but it later transpired that many were fabricated for the occasion. These stories were used to justify the war. Those women were used to add a feminist face and give a moral justification for the aggression. This was for a war which has been proven to be a war against Iraqi women.
Judith Orr: Women have played a role in government and in political life in Iraq in the past.
Haifa Zangana: Iraqi women have never been victims waiting to be liberated. And this is the case for the whole Iraqi population. They did not receive the US and Britain as liberators. Women have a long history of struggle and achievements, which would have continued without the war and the United Nations sanctions in 1990. The occupation reduced Iraqi women's struggle to just one aspiration, and I quote an Iraqi woman when asked what she aspired to. She said, "All we want at the moment is to bury our dead with dignity." When you open your window in the morning you see dead bodies in the street, and people daren't approach them to bury them. So this is what women are now reduced to, thanks to the occupation.
As noted yestereday, ORB has re-examined their date of over a million Iraqis killed since the start of the illegal war and has stated that their earlier figure (see September 14, 2007 snapshot) "was reasonable" -- 1.2. million with a range of 946,000 to 1,120,000. These deaths destroy families. Today Aseel Kami (Reuters) examines Iraqi women, "Every week, letters from Iraqi widows spill across Samira al-Moussawi's desk. One wrote to ask whether she should spend what scant money she gets on her infant or on school books for her older son. The member of parliament and head of a parliamentary women's committee is at her wits' end as to how to answer the desperate pleas from what could be as many as one to two million women." Kami notes that the "acting minister for women's affairs," Narmeen Othman, estimates there are 2 million widows in Iraq and that the number "is increasing day after day, it is becoming a time bomb". These women are expected to maintain their families or remaining families for as low as $40 a month to as 'high' as $95 a month. In addition, in the July 30, 2007 snapshot, it was noted that OXFAM's work revealed the internally displaced two million in Iraq were "mostly women and children".
Turning to US political news, Barack Obama's BFF, real estate buddy, financial backer (and then some) is not just federally indicted. James Bone (Times of London) reports that the "undeclared payment of $3.5 million" noted on Monday, "from a corrupt Iraqi-British businessman has landed Barack Obama's former fundraiser behind bars. The payment, disclosed in court papers, is the first time Mr Obama's long-serving bagman Tony Rezko, a Syrian immigrant to the United States, has been linked as a friend to the Iraqi-born billionair Nadmi Auchi, one of Britain's richest men." Bone goes on to note the paper's discovery of "state documents in Illinois recording that the Panamanian company Fintrade Services SA lent money to Mr Obama's fundraiser in May 2005. Fintrade's directors include Ibtisam Auchi, the name of Mr Auchi's wife." Tonight Obama and Hillary Clinton face off in the Democratic presidential nominee debate in Los Angeles. Today's KPFK Mid-Day News noted: "Locally anti-war activists will be protesting outside the Democratic presidential debate tonight in Hollywood. Organizers say neither of the two candidates call for the immediate end to the war in Iraq which they call 'the will of the people.' Protesters will gather outside the Kodak Theater near the Hollywood and Highland intersection from five to seven p.m." This month Grandmothers Against the War's Joan Wile (writing at Common Dreams) asked the common-sense question (at a time when common sense is in short supply and AWOL from DC): " What would happen if we withdrew ALL our troops? Amazingly, NONE of our kids would die in Iraq. Has anybody in Washington done the math? It seems quite elementary to us grannies." [Causing community member Carlton to advocate for Wile to be put in charge of all independent media.] Wile's forthcoming book Grandmothers Against the War: Getting off Our Fannies and Standing up for Peace comes out this spring. And right now Joan Wile has just started her own website. In terms of the US political race (yes, I did have a point), Wile has posted "Bill and Hill Pillow Talk Post South Caroline Election." [Mike Gravel remains in the race but is not invited to the debate.]
The Democrats are not the only ones in the race or, as Nanci Griffith once put it, "There's a light beyond these woods, Mary Margaret" ("There's A Light Beyond These Woods" from her first album of the same name: There's A Light Beyond These Woods). For some that may be Ralph Nader who has created a presidential exploratory committee to determine whether or not to run for president in 2008. Kristin Jensen (Bloomberg News) quotes Nader explaining, "Look at the major areas of injustice deprivation and solutions that are not being addressed by the major candidates" and Jensen notes that Nader pointed out there is no "practical timed withdrawal" from the illegal war being touted by any of the GOP or Democratic 'front runner' candidates. The Chronicle of Higher Education maintains, "The closest thing college activists may have to a 'favorite son' candidate, Ralph Nader, is at long last considering entering the presidential race." Carol Britton Meyer (The Hingham Journal) reports that Nader appears on Massachusetts ballot (Feb. 5th is the Super Duper Tuesday for the primary in MA and many other states) under the Green-Rainbow party along with Cynthia McKinney, Jared Ball (dropped out and endorsed Cynthia McKinney), Elaine Brown (withdrew from race), Kat Swift and Kent Mesplay. The Guardian of London -- lacking the courage to sign their trash -- gets in a seven-line little slam that only demonstrates how uninformed they are -- Nader is not impressed with either of the two Democratic front runners. (No link to trash.) They do repeat the lie that he is a 'spoiler.' As we've stated repeatedly, no one owns your vote. Whomever speaks to you is whom you should vote for. (If you vote. That's your decision.) Proving that lunacy exists on both sides of the Atlantic, Jon Bruner (Forbes) pens his own little slam -- but has the guts to put his name to it. (Even so, we don't link to trash.) Christopher Keating (Hartford Courant) reports, "In an interview with The Courant Wednesday evening, Nader trashed the main candidates and said they are not addressing the issues he has espoused for years: corporate welfare, consumer protection, medical malpractice and too much defense spending. In his classic, bombastic style, Nader said that all of the current presidential candidates are inadequate."
From the article, Nader on the two Democratic front runners:
On Democrat Barack Obama: "He never gets down to the nitty-gritty issues. He's too vague. I've seen Barack on TV 50 times in a year. What do I remember? Change."
Regarding Hillary Rodham Clinton, Nader referred to a recent column he wrote that said that eight years of Hillary would be the same as the "two-term triangulating presidency" of Bill Clinton that led to the Republicans' regaining control of Congress and numerous governorships.
Regarding Hillary Rodham Clinton, Nader referred to a recent column he wrote that said that eight years of Hillary would be the same as the "two-term triangulating presidency" of Bill Clinton that led to the Republicans' regaining control of Congress and numerous governorships.
At The Harvard Crimson, Adam R. Gold offers more thought than 'indymedia' adults (or 'adults') of many years can manage noting "democracies are set up with the intent that people will vote for the candidate that serves their interests, not the candidate most likekly to win. Admittedly, naysayers have a point about electability: A third-party candidate faces difficult odds in winning the next presidential election. However, a strong show of support for a particular third-party platform might compel the two major parties to incorporate elements of that platform into their own." Silly liar John Nichols scribbles at The Nation (no link to trash) that Nader's running because of Hillary ("absolutely consistent in one thing, however, and that is his rejection of Hillary Clinton"). John, get your hands out of your pants and accept that Nader's considering running against your crush (Bambi) as well.
In Iraq, where there is still no 2008 budget for the country passed by the Parliament, Waleed Ibrahim (Reuters) interviews Tareq al-Hashemi (Iraq's Sunni Vice President) who states that he "is unlikely to sign off on a new law that would give thousands of former members of Saddam Hussein's Baath party their old jobs back" -- this is the de-de-Baathification move that would scratch Paul Bremer's de-Baathification and it has been listed as a "benchmark" by the White House. Also set as a "benchmark" by the White House is the legislation permitting the theft of Iraqi oil. Like the de-de-Baathification, that hasn't come to be yet. However, CNN Money reports that Royal Dutch Shell states the hold up on their moving into Iraq is the lack of such law by quoting the company's CEO Jeroen van der Veer who declares, "Yes, we are interested to work in Iraq . . . but we have to know the rules of the game." So modest, what van der Veer means is, "We have to control the game, we have to make the rules and we have to enforce them."
Today Thomas E. Ricks (Washington Post) reported that the escalation -- like the illegal war -- drags on noting, "Senior U.S. military commanders here say they want to freeze troop reductions starting this summer for at least a month, making it more likely that the next administration will inherit as many troops in Iraq as there were before President Bush announced a "surge" of forces a year ago. Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, will probably argue for what the military calls an operational "pause" at his next round of congressional testimony, expected in early April, another senior U.S. military official here said. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and top military officers have said they would like to see continued withdrawals throughout this year, but Bush has indicated he is likely to be guided by Petraeus's views." Which may bring to mind Tuesday's press conference at the Pentagon by spokesperson Geoff Morrell and the question he was asked: "Geoff, help me out on the process here. You're talking about Petraeus is suggesting that he may need. Looking to the president, sometimes you get the impression that, you know, what Petraeus wants, Petraeus gets. Is that the case here, that we're all just kind of waiting on Petraeus, and this decision is really on Petraeus's shoulders -- ultimately, obviously, it would be approved by the president, but that Petraeus's opinion is the one that matters here?" Is his the only opinion that matters? Does the opinion of the American people matter? Meanwhile, Alissa J. Rubin (New York Times) reports today the same-old -- passed off as 'strategy' and 'new' -- continues but is now Target Mosul: "A Defense Ministry spokesman, Mohammed al-Askeri, told reporters that the goal of Iraqi military operations in Mosul was to oust Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia from the city and prevent its fighters from returning."
Friday on PBS, Bill Moyers Journal will interview US House Rep Henry Waxman who chairs the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform as part of an investigation by the program into government waste and abuse. There is a promotional video for it posted at YouTube. And that's Friday nights in most PBS markets but some may air it (or reair it) over the weekend at different times. Online, Bill Moyers Journal streams video and audio and provides text -- accessible for all.
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