Friday, January 04, 2008

Iraq snapshot

Friday, Janurary 4, 2007.  Chaos and violence continue and the little state of Iowa leads to a lot of gas baggery.
World Report notes that January 26th is a day for national demonstrations in Canada in support of war resisters, "The date commemorates the day four years ago when Jeremy Hinzman first applied for refugee status in Canada.  The Nelson event, which is planned for the United Church, will be held inside because of the harsh January weather.  Ryan Johnson suggests 'some light refreshments and a time to write hand written letters with someone delivering them to the post office afterwards. . . It would be a huge statement to have a box full of letters going to parliament.  In Tonronto they are mraching to the Canada Post to drop them in the box'." 
What's it about?  In Canada where some war resisters went to seek asylum, the Canadian Parliament has the power to let war resisters stay in Canada.  November 15th, the Supreme Court of Canada refused to hear the appeals of  war resisters Jeremy Hinzman and Brandon Hughey.  Parliament is the solution.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. Both War Resisters Support Campaign and Courage to Resist are calling for actions from January 24-26.
There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes 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, Carla 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. 
Yesterday, three US service members were announced dead by the US military.  How did that play out in the media?  To note two outlets, Democracy Now! and the New York Times, not very well.  DN! covered the four people who died in Turkey in headlines and didn't note the three US service members killed in Iraq.  The New York Times noted both on A9 of this morning's paper.  Sabrina Tavernise covered "Bomb Explosion Kills 5 in Kurdish Area in Turkey" -- yes, it got it's own story -- and in a 14 paragraph story by Richard A.  Oppel Jr. and Khalid al-Ansary, it was noted in paragraph four: "In another development on Thursday, two American soldiers were shot dead and a third soldier was wounded in Diyala Province, the American military said. On Wednesday a soldier was killed by an improvised bomb south of Baghdad, the first death of an American soldier this year."  It's not important to US outlets.  It doesn't matter.  They know nothing about the five killed in Turkey but that's more important to them.  It says a great deal.
Meanwhile Donna St. George (Washington Post) reports on Hannah Gunterman McKinney, a woman serving in Iraq who was killed when the man she had sex (apparently consensual but it's sketchy) with ran her over and how her parents, Barbie and Matt Hearvin, were offered a variety of explanations for the September 4, 2006 death, "Her case would become one in a litany of noncombat deaths in Iraq, which number more than 700, from crashes, suicides, illnesses and accidents that sometimes reveal messy truths about life in the war zone. The cases can be especially brutal for parents who lose a child and struggle to understand why. In McKinney's case, many of the details are in a 1,460-page file and court-martial transcript obtained by The Washington Post under the Freedom of Information Act."
Another woman is the subject of Sanhita SinhaRoy's Q & A (In These Times) where she interviews Iraqi Haifa Zangana who favors the US withdrawing from Iraq immediately ("gradual withdrawal is actually a gradual building of bases in Iraq") and notes of the illegal war:
But here we are with troops, with military occupation, with economic occupation and the cultural occupation. They try to erase our memory, our history, our archaeological sites and kill our civilians.
In four and a half years, we have lost 1 million Iraqis. And that's terminated, physically. We're not talking about the consequences of conventional weapons, the depleted uranium, the phosphorous, the cluster bombs.
As for detentions, the International Red Cross has recorded up to 60,000. And those are security detainees.
Zangana is the author of City of Widows: An Iraqi Woman's Account of War and Resistance,  (Seven Stories Press).  Today KUNA reports that the UK base in southern Iraq (Basra Airport) was attacked with a missile yesterday. 
In other news of violence . . .
Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports two Baghdad roadside bombings (no known casualties) and a tanker bombing in Maysan that claimed the lives of 2 police officers with "others" wounded. Reuters notes an attack by a US helicopter which fired a rocket outside Baghdad and killed 1 person with two more wounded.
Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a US attack/raid "with air cover" in Najaf that wounded four (on Thursday).   Reuters notes an Iraqi was shot dead in Jurf al-Sakhar.
Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 2 corpses discovered in Baghdad.
Let's do US presidential politics.  Shortly before noon yesterday, the Chris Dodd campaign e-mailed supporters asserting, "We've led in Washignton, D.C. on ending the war in Iraq and restoring the Constitution, but tonight all eyes are focused on Iowa . . .  You'll hear from me later tonight.  And when we earn that ticket to New Hampshire, I hope you are ready to provide the fuel we need to hit the ground running."  Iowa was the first shot (as always) for the country to weigh in (at over 90% Anglo-White, Iowa is veeery representative -- that was sarcasm) and the country weighed in yesterday, Iowans, people posing as Iowans, they made their voices heard the in the corrupt scam that gets trotted out every four years as an example of "democracy."  Like Dodd, Joe Biden's campaign declared, "Simply put, the Biden for President campaign will shock the world on Januray 3rd."  As The Detroit Free Press reported today, both Biden and Dodd have dropped out of the race. Pay attention to Dodd's departure (it matters in a moment).  Before we go further, let's quote Iowa's Secretary of State, "Although not an election, the Iowa Caucuses are the method by which citizens select presidential delegates to the county conventions.  The political parties run the caucuses according to party rules.  The Iowa Caucuses are not governed by the Secretary of State's Office."  Translation, don't blame this on them.  In December former editor of The Des Moines Register Gilbert Cranberg, former executive secretary of the state's Freedome of Information Council Herb Strentz and former director of research for The Des Moines Register Glenn Roberts contributed a column to the New York Times entitled "Iowa's Undemocratic Caucuses" noted that, unlike the GOP, the Democratic Party operated in secrecy, "The one-person, one-vote results from each caucus are snail-mailed to party headquarters and placed in a database, never disclosed to the press or made available for inspection."  Wayne Ford could (and did) lie on Democracy Now! today that the Iowa represented "the purest form of democracy" but there's no reason everyone else had to go along with it. "We've been doing it since the 60s," he insisted.  Exactly why Iowa goes first -- because it is non-reflective and undemocratic and the '60s' is when the system changed.  By holding onto Iowa as the "kick off," the party machine tries to control.  Make no mistek that's what happens every four years and -- as Wally and Cedric have repeatedly noted, even with the Olympics, they rotate it every four years.  With those realities in mind, add, as Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) noted January 28, 2004, John Kerry, in 2004, was "only the third Democrat in three decades to win both Iowa and New Hampshire in contested races."  That's a reality not noted in the press today -- the same press that (big or small) announces it's over for either John Edwards or Hillary Clinton but applaud John McCain who tied for third with a TV actor.
Senator Barack Obama: 37.58%
Senator John Edwards: 29.75%
Senator Hillary Clinton: 29.47%
Governor Bill Richardson: 2.11%
Senator Joe Bide: .93%
Uncommitted: 0.14%
Senator Chris Dodd: 0.02%
Precincts Reporting: 1781 of 1781
Along with multiple rounds of selection, Iowa's caucus allows those present in the location to know how others are voting.  It's not a fair ballot, it's not a secret ballot and if the Democratic Party couldn't control it, Iowa would have long ago been ditched (as it should be) as the "kick off" each presidential election. 
Robert Parry (Consortium News) offers: "Sen. Barack Obama thrashing Sen. Clinton".  Ruth Conniff (The Progressive) is gleeful as well (it's nice to see Conniff offer something, anything, indicating life), "Since she lost in Iowa, it's hard to see what is left."  As Conniff offers up razor blades and sleeping pills and our online latter day Dylan throws in the towel (no link, we don't link to trash), one wonders how Hillary is a "loser" and Barack a "sure thing" off one race? 
It takes an informed woman and, in this case, it's Deliah Boyd (A Scriverner's Lament) who explains delegates and super delegates and points out the obvious: Michigan has 156 delegates.  Matters because?  Hillary's on Michigan's ballot.  Who's else is?  Dennis Kucinich and Mike Gravel.  Chris Dodd was but he's ended his campaign.  Biden, Edwards, Obama and Richardson all sucked up to the DNC and refused to get on the ballot.  So the reality is Hillary is close to Bambi and, apparently, has the lock on the 156 delegates in Michigan.  (The DNC says they'll refuse to allow Michigan delegates.  They may or may not be able to pull off that threat.)  
Over at The Nation -- where few ever grasp anything -- Ari Melber demonstrates (by omission) why it matters that readers be informed and not trust The Nation.  The mag that called Hillary out on a vote she missed . . . due to Bill having heart surgery, offers Ari's wet dreams of "Why Obama's Win Is Bigger Than You Think" which takes Hillary to task for spending $7 million of her campaign money.  How much did Obama spend?  Melber's not interested in saying. $9 million.  Doesn't fit with the spin Ari wants to blow out his butt so it doesn't make his blog post.  He's not really a reporter (real ones don't work for that rag), so let's turn to a real reporter. 
See the problem?  Obama tells Monica Davey (New York Times, July 26, 2004) he doesn't know how he would have voted if he'd been in the Senate.  Two years later, he's telling David Remnick (The New Yorker) he doesn't know how he would have voted.  Why is Amy Goodman not noting that or the fact that, until the summer of 2007, he voted for every authorization?  Why is she noting in the segment that Hillary Clinton's campaign offices have been occupied by peace activists but not noting that Barack's have as well?  Shouldn't Wayne Ford have been asked about that?
Hillary's a War Hawk.  That's who she is and needs to be pointed out.  So is Barack Obama.  And these attempts to shield the public from reality may be part of what a political party does (or tries to) but it's not reality and has no place in journalism.  Ari thinks it's cute to call Hillary out for her millions spent in Iowa while ignoring how much money Obama spent (like he thought it was cute to call her out for missing a vote when Bill was having surgery).  Glen Ford and Bruce Dixon (Black Agenda Report) have repeatedly pointed out that Hillary and Barack are siamese twins.  So it's not impossible to report the truth. And it's not impossible to give readers, viewers, listeners the information and trust them to make their own decisions. 
Ellen Chesler, speaking for Clinton's campaign, needs to get her act together.  Stating that Obama wasn't in the Senate isn't telling the full story.  Obviously, Goodman isn't going to bring up the illegal war with Barack's supporter Wayne Ford.  Rebecca, back when Obama was lying on stage and hitting Edwards with Edwards' 2002 vote, made the point that Obama needed to be challenged on that nonsense.  Obviously the press isn't going to do that (maybe Big Media, but not Little), so any supporter needs to drive the reality home.  [Note, the transcript at DN! is currently wrong.  Amy Goodman, not Ellen Chesler, says, "Well, let me put the question to Danny Glover.  Do you think John Edwards has the same position as Obama, as Clinton, on the war?"]
This isn't minor.  The war was a question for Chesler and for Danny Glover (speaking for John Edwards' campaign).  For Obama?  Wayne Ford wasn't asked one word.  If you're not seeing the problem, you're lying to yourself.  A bit like the lie being spread that "Obama's a closet socialist, hop on board, he's big time left, he just can't say so."  He's not and he's not left.  Do we want a War Hawk in the White House, as the US moves to the wars to Africa, who can lie to the camera and say, "Oh, my father was from Kenya, this is a just war, don't even ask me that!"   
I haven't decided who I will vote for in 2008.  We'll note one excerpt from a guest in that roundtable, Danny Glover speaking of John Edwards:
Well, I certainly, when we look at what has happened over the last few years -- and certainly the present administration is indicative of what has happened over the last few years in terms of just corporate greed -- certainly I don't believe that. I think that when people begin to address the issues of globalization, they look at corporate greed. When they begin to identify what is happening in the community, they look at greed, whether it's corporate greed, whether it's the greed that gentrifies the community or the greed that gentrifies a whole nation of people.
I think that it's important that we look at the real issue, the real issues around poverty in this country. And [inaudible] poverty, those numbers are thirty-seven million, are indicative of the level of poverty and what people face. We look at the issue around the middle class. We look at the issue around the disparity in wages and the increasing gap between wealth in this country. And those are real issues here, you know? I mean, at some point in time, we're going to have to address that. And I don't think--I think that John Edwards says he spent less than anyone else. He's been--and I believe if it's a two-person race, then that "two-person" is between Obama and Edwards.
If the illegal war matters (I obviously think that it does) then it matters that all the candidates be held to the same standard.  Amy Goodman asks Hillary's supporter and John Edwards' supporter about the illegal war.  Wayne Ford's not asked a word about.  Meanwhile, Reuters lies about Obama's Iraq 'plan' claiming that "all troops out within 16 months" is the 'plan.'  It's not.  He would leave 'trainers' and other classifications and the "one or two brigades a month" is not firm and he's stated he might increase the number or halt the deployment based on what was happening.
If there's a winner on the Dem side in Iowa, it's Edwards.  But we all do grasp that only 16% of the people in Iowa caucused, right?  The 'process' is nothing like the rest of the country, it's a tiny state with only 7 electoral college votes. Now tiny New Hampshire (4 electoral college votes) with a 95.8% White population will weigh in.  February 5th will better determine who the candidate for the two major parties will be.  So why the narratives from the press and why is Little Media unable to hold Obama to the same standards they use to crucify Hillary?
16% of 'Iowans' turned out for their non-secret ballot caucus and it's being used to shape narratives.  Left out of the narratives are the backdoor deals Obama made with other candidates.  Like the idiot Wayne Ford, they pretend they're talking about something but they're just blowing gas. Ford declared today, "I want to talk about the reasons why Obam womn" but he had nothing to talk about.  He didn't have anything to talk about in 2004 when he appeared on the program as a John Edwards supporter: "But I have always said that until we have a president who is going to say that one of the top problems in this country is race, and I'm willing to risk and deal with this problem to bring all Americans together."  Blah-blah-blah.  And that 'reason' was why he backed Edwards in 2004.  He's a gas bag.  Iowa means nothing and meant nothing.  It's not representative.  If there was a need for all the post-coverage it would be to examine where the candidates stood on the issue.  In outlet after outlet, Iraq was not addressed because Obama was given yet another pass. Meanwhile, Allan Nairn (at CounterPunch) argues that the 2008 general election was decided long ago.
Two other candidates appear tonight on PBS' Bill Moyers Journal:

Thousands of media outlets descended on Iowa, erecting a powerful wall of TV cameras and reporters between the voters and candidates. This week on Bill Moyers Journal in two interviews, Bill Moyers talks with Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich, candidates with an inside view of the process who know well the power of the press to set expectations and transform the agenda. Also on the program, leading expert on media and elections Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center, examines the campaigns and coverage in Iowa and looks at the media's power to benefit some candidates and disadvantage others.
Added artist and journalist David Bacon has a photo exhibit at the Galeria de la Raza (2857 24th St, San Francisco 94110): "Living under the trees" "Viviendo bajo los arboles."  The exhibit is from January 11th through February 23rd (Enero 11 - Febrero 23, 2008).  "An exhibition documenting communities of indigenous Mexican farm workers in California through photographs and the narrative experiences of community residents and leaders" y
"Una exposicion que documenta a traves de fotografias y testmonios de lideres y residentes las comundades indigenas de campesinos mexicanos."  Inauguracion de exposicion (Opening Reception) Enero 11 7:30 p.m. (January 11th). Y mesa redonda de fotografos (photographers' panel) Sabado, Enero 26, 2:00 p.m. (photographers' panel, Saturday, January 26).

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