Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Iraq snapshot

Wednesday, February 6, 2008.  Chaos and violence continues, Bobby Gates begs the Senate for money, war resisters get attention (outside the US, always outside the US media), and more.
Starting with war resistance.  Lauren Miele (The Eyeopener) reports on Kathryn Palmanteer's photo exhibit of US war resisters which is being exhibited at Ryerson University in Toronto which attempts to "relay the message that these Resisters should be welcomed in Canada" and Palmanteer explains, "I used these documentary portraits to give voice to the voiceless, allowing them to have the opportunity to tell their stories."  "From Whisper to Roar" is displayed through Thursday at the Podium Building's Credit Union Lounge and "Each photograph is a portrait of a US soldier who has come to Canada seeking refugee status.  Underneath each photograph is a quote that underlines why the subject is a resister of war.  Along with the various marines and navy military that are featured, there are also wives of US War Resisters who are resisters themselves."   Jennifer Prichett (The Whig Standard) also examines war resistance and starts by explaining how US navy chief petty officer Chuck Wiley came to Canada with his wife due to the illegal war: "Wearing jeans and a black T-shirt emblazoned with 'Say Yes to Soldiers Who Say No,' Wiley told the crowd that he would like to see Canada become 'a refugee for those who don't participate in an unjust war."  The Wileys are class of 2007 -- translation, US media ignored them completely -- and entered Canada in February of last year after both had served many years in the military. 
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'."  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.
Dennis Rahkonen (Dissident Voice) writes of the upcoming IVAW action and notes, "Recently, not far from here, a young Iraq War veteran fatally shot himself.  He'd returned from combat a fundamentally changed, deeply troubled person.  Before taking his own life, he revealed how he'd been ordered to gun down an unarmed Iraqi man who was approaching a checkpoint, oblivious to shouted warnings to stop.  The doomed individual turned out to be not just an innocent civilian -- probably unfamiliar with the foreign language of alien occupiers -- but a physician.  Family and friends of the traumatized soldier urged that he seek professional help for his worsening stress disorder, but he refused, contending it would show 'weakness' that the military had inculcated in him was not manly to do.  IVAW's upcoming testimony will show not only that the murder of unarmed noncombatants in Iraq and Afghanistan is pervasively prevalent, but that returning veterans are commonly so psychologically damaged by what they've experienced that suicide or dysfunction leading to disproportionate homelessness, for instance, is almost an expected consequence."
On the subject of innocent civilians, Solomon Moore and Khalid al-Ansary (New York Times) report that Ali Hamed Shihab (father), Naeema Sli (mother), Dhiaa Ali (son) were killed and he two daughters wounded (one of whom died in the hsopital) in Door after, according to an eye witness, "American soldiers kick open the door and fire their weapons without provocation."  Garrett Therolf and Raheem Salman (Los Angeles Times) quote Muhannad Ismail Shihab (nephew of the parents killed) stating, "I was shocked when I saw their bodies, and I started to shiver.  All of them were near their beds.  The Americans are liars when they said my family was killed because the soldiers came under fire."  The reporters note that the United Nation's estimate for civilians killed in air strikes from Mrach 2007 to June 2007 was 88.  Last week, Saleh Mamon (Great Britain's Socialist Worker) reported on the air strikes increasing by 500% noting official US military reports that "in 2006 there were 229 US bombing missions.  But last year this rose to 1,447 -- more than a 500 percent increase. . . . In 2006 over 111,000 pounds of bombs were dropped on targets in Iraq.  Extrapolating for 2007, it can be estimated that 500,000 pounds have been dropped."
Today US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates testified to the US Senate Armed Services Committee to justify/argue for Bully Boy's huge budget wish list for the Pentagon. His prepared remarks included, "We have a moral obligation to see that the superb life-saving care that the wounded receive initially is matched by quality out-patient treatment.  To provide world-class health care to all who are wounded, ill, or injured serving the nation, the Department is taking action on the recommendations made by the President's Commission on Care for America's Returning Wounded Warriors."  He also noted that Africa is the next big target and the desire to increase the size of the military.  Also speaking to the committee was Michael G. Mullen who is the Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.  In his prepared remarks he was loose with the truth but telling, "The surge of U.S. forces to Iraq, a well executed counter-insurgency strategy and an Iraqi population increasingly weary of violence, and willing to do something about it, have all combined to improve security conditions throughout much of the country."  "A well executed counter-insurgency strategy and an Iraqi population increasingly weary of violence" -- almost makes it sound as if Iraqis have been targeted to shock them for disaster capitalism. [See Naomi Klein's  The Shock Doctrine: The Rise Of Disaster Capitalism.]   Waleed Ibrahim (Reuters) reported a similarly interesting quote today, when Iraqi Maj. Gen. Qassim Moussawi praised the cutting up of Baghdad and erecting Bremer walls and declared, "These walls will remain until we have imposed security in all of Baghdad."  Imposed.  Interesting terminology.  Kristin Roberts (Reuters) notes that Gates stated to the committee that the treaty (the US White House is attempting to work out a treaty with the puppet government in Baghdad and circumvent the Congress) between the US and Iraq would not require permanent bases (doesn't the Embassy qualify?) and it wouldn't require that the US "defend Iraq". Gates was there to beg for money and the administration's record on honesty begs disbelief.  Elana Schor (Guardian of London) noted Monday of the White House's request for more money, "The $3.1 trillion budget would increase US military spending for the 11th straight year while slicing about $200bn from the social security and Medicare programs that aid older Americans.  The budget deficit under Bush's proposal would balloon to $410bn this year -- more than twice as much as 2007".
In some of today's reported violence . . .
Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports three people wounded by a Baghdad roadside bombing, a Diyala Province roadside bombing wounded "three women and one man," an Al Muqdiyah mortar attack wounded four people, a Baquba roadside bombing wounded six and a Diwaniya roadside bombing claimed the lives of 2 children and 2 adults with nine more people wounded.  Reuters notes a Baghdad bombing that killed 2  police officers, a Mosul mortar attack that wounded two people, a Mosul roadside bombing that wounded three people and another Mosul roadside bombing that wounded three.  
Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that the Association of Muslims Scholars of Iraq's Essam Felaih was shot dead in Samara. Reuters notes 2 police officers shot dead in a Mosul drive-by that left three more injured and 2 Iraqi soldiers shot dead in Samarra.
Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 4 corpses discovered in Baghdad, 7 headless corpses were discovered in Tawakal and 3 headless corpses were discovered in Tal Al Aswad.  Reuters notes 5 headless corpses discovered in Muqdadiya, the corpse of 16-year-old female and a male of unknown age discovered in Najaf, and a corpse discovered in Hilla.
Moving to US politics.  The Illinois Green Party sent out the alert on voting problems yesterday noting, "In the early hours of voting, Green Party officials began receiving reports from frustrated voters across the statewho, in many cases, had been told by pollworkers that there are no Green Party ballots available at their polling places, or that they had to vote on suspect electronic voting machines, even while other parties use paper ballots.
Some of the most outrageous incidents, however, occurred across the wards of Chicago, where Green Party ballots have been apparently tampered with so they can't be read and accepted by voting machines, voters are given Democratic ballots despite requesting Green ballots . . . Check ilgp.orgfor more reports as they are received."  Kimberly Wilder, as always, tracks more than one person should be able to at On the Wilder Side.  That includes that Massachusetts Green primary results are not expected to be in until the end of this monthOther states are noted here.  The Green Party announces that, "Results from the four states where Green Parties participated in the February 5 Super Tuesday primaries show a landslide for Ralph Nader in California (61%) and a lead among candidates for Cynthia McKinney in Arkansas and Illinois.  Cynthia McKinney is declared on her run, Ralph Nader is exploring whether to run or not.
Mike Gravel remains in the race for the Democratic Party nomination; however, that's not what today's e-mails are talking about.  So let's address it (and seriously consider -- community wide -- ignoring Democracy Now! tomorrow so we can focus more on Iraq -- not that reproductive rights and LGBT issues aren't important, they are or we wouldn't be addressing it).
Amy Goodman appears to be in the running for an acting nod from this year's daytime Emmy's.  On screen, she portrays a journalist.  In reality?  You be the judge.  Today she had a roundtable on Democracy Now! with four guests.  You know she slants but how badly does she slant?
Four guests.  Bill Fletcher Jr. at least made some critiques of Bambi but having a supporter try to fill the role of critic is the same rigged game when Goodman wanted to talk about the split in the Jackson household with Jesse Jackson who supports Obama as opposed to with Jaqueline Jackson who supports Hillary Clinton.  Or maybe Amy Goodman just values men's opinions more?  That would explain why she published in skin magazine that targets women with violence.
Tim Carpenter was another guest and another Bambi supporter.  Tim's with Pathetic Democrats of America and, on that, we need to ask that groups identifying themselves as "Democrats" have a rule that their membership is indeed Democrats.  PDA has a 'loose' policy which no doubt explains why the go round and round in circles and never accomplish anything -- that and the fact that they are a group with a tiny membership.  So was there a reason a struggling California Democratic PAC was brought on Democracy Now! to begin with?  Oh, yeah, PDA endorsed Obama.
Then we got Frances Fox Piven who talked about the need to do things for the "movement."  What movement?  Goodman never asked.  Fox Piven wasn't speaking of the New Left of the sixties, she was speaking of a period prior to that.  Again, if Bambi didn't have non-Democrats to speak for him, he might be doing even worse than he is.  Franci's supporting Barack.  Chalk it up to the 'movement' she never identified and Goodman knew not to ask her about.  What is widely known is that Feminists for Peace and Barack Obama! (a faux group fronted by Chunky Katha Pollitt) features Frances Fox Piven at number 107.  Yes, Franci of the unnamed 'movement' is a Bambi supporter and, no, audiences were never informed of that. 
The fourth guest was Roberto Lovato who is not in love with either candidate.  On his own website, Lovato bills today's show as "an out-of-the-corporate-media box discussion about race, empire and the primaries."  Should we assume gender is a non-issue to him?  Or is it just that he grasped it was to Amy Goodman?  Yet again, another broadcast from Democracy Now! that featured a token woman -- we get a few tokens each week, don't we? -- and wasn't interested in exploring gender at all. 
So you had three Bambi supporters in the roundtable and Lovato who's not thrilled with either.  Fletcher deserves credit for noting who he supports on his own.  Way, way, into the show, Goody will note, oh, yeah, PDA, endorsed Bambi!  Franci keeps her own mouth shut about who she supports.  It's been a career builder for her.
Now this was supposedly a roundtable on the Democratic primaries (and one caucus) on Super Duper Tuesday and issues like 'electability' were addressed.  Presumably such a roundtable would require that all "Democrats" are in fact Democrats.  Franci Fox Piven did vote for John Kerry in 2004.  The majority on the left did to get Bully Boy out of the White House.  So let's drop back to when a Democratic won a presidential election.  Most recently, that would be 1996. 
Franci, why don't you tell DN! audiences how you -- 'Democratic' Franci -- voted?  I think many listeners and viewers would be surprised to know that you didn't vote for the Democrat.  That would be Bill Clinton.  Who did you vote for, Franci?  
What's Amy Goodman doing bring on a non-Democrat to discuss a Democratic primary while posing as one?  And since 'electabilty' was the subtext -- or was it's Franci's talk of an unspecified 'movement' she knew she was building? -- shouldn't she be required to explain what the hell she knows about electability since her 1996 vote didn't result in a presidential win for her candidate of choice? 
When, on the program, Frances Fox Piven labels Lee Atwater one of "the key Democratic operatives" -- strange mistake for a Democrat, isn't it? It's also cute that she wasn't asked about 'welfare reform.'  That was the cutting of the safety net for many Americans and went through the Congress and the Bill Clinton White House.  Goodman's allowed Marian Wright Edelman -- mere months ago -- to play shocked and appalled by that legislation.  I seem to recall, in real time, Franci raging against Wright Edelman and holding her responsible -- noting that MWE did nothing, noting that MWE did a Stand For Children action which Franci liked to snidely joke made it appear that the biggest threat to the poor was a drive-by shooting.  Maybe I'm remembering wrong?  (I'm not remembering wrong.  Franci practically worked that up into a standup bit.) 
Here's why "movement" talk matters.  Franci's been talking about that undefined 'movement' for decades.  And a media hype has allowed her and others to delude themselves into thinking Bambi has one behind him -- he doesn't -- so these people with their publicly undefined goals see him as a chance to grab onto a movement and merge it with their own.  There's a need for honesty.  There was none on Democracy Now! but there never would have been.  Not when three Bambi supporters are invited on and no supporter of Hillary is.  It's the way Goodman has slanted the show all along while wanting to lecture Big Media about what 'fairness' is and about the importance of 'diverse' voices.  But she staged a roundtable where everyone sang from the same hymnal.
Let's turn to Tim Carpenter who at least defined the 'movement' he wants to be part of: a grassroots one.  Carpenter appears seriously deranged and he makes that clear by declaring, "I think it's safe to say this morning that despite the corporate media's best attempt, and the inside-the-Beltway Democratic Party, that the Democratic primary is far from over."  He's saying Bambi's 'in the race' and it's *not* because of support from "corporate media" and "inside-the-Beltway Democratic Party" members.  Such as Ted Kennedy?  Such as John Kerry?  He appears deranged.  It's some sort of sickness that allows some  to refuse to see reality.  Craig Crawford (The Huffington Post) explains it, "If I were Barack Obama I would tell my flaks in the news media to shut up in the final days before elections.  The chattering crowd's frenzy for this man only raises expectations that he cannot meet.  As a result, what was otherwise not too shabby a night for Obam on Super Tuesday came across like a public relations defeat because so much more had been expected.  Still, those who predicted a bigger night for Obama are invested in downplaying what actually happened, and will surely gin him up for the next contests.  Before Super Tuesday gushing pundtis predicted that the Kennedy family endorsements would, at a minimum, deliver Massachusetts.  Didn't happen.  Feverish news reports of rising momentum for Obama led to hints that he was winning New Jersey.  Didn't happen."  Crawford goes on to recount the Big media talk that Bambi would win California.  Again, Tim Carpenter has serious problems and is highly estranged from reality. 
Meanwhile, at The Huffington Post, it's time to set the record 'straight' on Obama's non-support for abortion and to trash NOW's Illinois chapter.  Steve Trombley, still recovering from his own D&C, gathers together the back flaps of his hospital gown to explain that NOW is just lying.  No, NOW is telling the truth. "Present" was not a NOW strategy.  The lie that it ever was was started by a woman who presented herself as "president of the Chicago NOW chapter" but wasn't president at the time and wasn't even in NOW at the time.  Steve, let me loan you a Midol.  What's that?  You're not a woman?  Then what business is it of yours what NOW does?  As Jill Zuckman (Chicago Tribune) noted, "Steve Trombley, CEO and president of Planned Parenthood/Chicago Action, said there's a reason his organization has endorsed Obama throughout his political career."  Throughout his career. 
Much has been printed in both the mainstream and alternative media and many have watched videos of Lorna Brett's comments on important votes that occurred while Barack Obama was serving in the Illinois State Senate (see article below).  Ms. Bret continues to present herself as the President of Chicago NOW when IL State Senator Barack Obama was making decision on votes that were critical for women and girls in Illinois.  As the current Illinois NOW State President, it is essential that I clarify for the record that Ms. Brett's assertions are not correct.  Lorna Brett was president of Chicago NOW from 1996-1998.  She was not, as she represents, the president of Chicago NOW at the time IL NOW activists were meeting and talking with legislators about the abortion bills in the early 2000s.  Five of those votes occured in the 92nd General Assembly session in 2001.  Our records indicate that Ms. Brett has not been a member of NOW since 1999.  Ms. Brett was not involved with either Chicago NOW or IL NOW when we were fighting to stop these bills.  Ms. Brett is misleading people and using her very old affiliation with NOW to help distance Senator Obama from his vote of present on key bills and as a platform for her personal criticism of Senator Hillary Clinton.  To be clear, voting "present" on those bills was a strategy that IL NOW did not support.  At that time, we made it clear to the legislators that we disagreed with the strategy.  We wanted legislators to take a stand against the harmful anti-choice bills being brought to the floor of the Illinois State Senate.  Voting "present" does not demonstrate leadership and does not send the clarion signal that one is unwavering in their support of a woman's right to choose.
In real media, when you're caught telling a LIE -- as Lorna was --  you're out of the game.  A man representing Planned Parenthood -- he serves on the board of their action fund and federation, calls NOW a liar.  Planned Parenthood's allowing a man to smear NOW.  It all leaves Lynn Harris (Salon) lost and she feels the need to include little Steve-o's claim that "only after years have passed" does NOW raise an objection.  As Illinois NOW notes, "During Senator Obama's 2004 senate campaign, the Illinois NOW PAC did not recommend the endorsement of Obama for the U.S. Senate because he refused to stand up for a woman's right to choose and repeatedly voted 'present' on important legislation."
From abortion rights -- which Bambi didn't stand for -- to the LGBT communtiy.  Rev. Irene Monroe (The Black Commentator) wonders, "Is it mere happenstance that once again, and seemingly unbeknownst to the Obama campaign, another anti-gay African American minister has endorsed the presidential hopeful?  But with an Obama endorsement coming from the Rev. Kirbyjon Caldwell, longtime spiritual adviser to President George W. Bush and senior pastor of one of Houston's black mega-churches, Windsor Village United Methodist Church, this isn't deja vu all over again.  Why is Obama, a supposed healer and consensus builder, continuing to do this?  One answer: Perhaps Obama was unaware of Rev. Caldwell's background and views regarding LGBT! folks?  The real answer: how many sides are there to a politiican's mouth.  Obama's cavoritng in a highly competitive field for black evengelical votes and is as calculated as when he had gospel mega-star, Pastor Donnie McClukin, poster boy for African-American ex-gay ministries, as part of his 'Embrace the Change!' Gospel Series in October 2007."  You again didn't hear about that from Democracy Now!.  Amy Goodman has never explored the issue of homophobia from the Bambi campaign.  NEVER.  Democracy for who, Amy, democracy for who?
Goodman wasn't able to mention what Andrew Stephen (The New Statesman) notes: "Exit polls, too confirmed that Obama is the candidate of the yuppies: practicially every voter earning less than $50,000 voted for Clinton rather than Obama, and those in the $150-200,000 range plumped for Obama."  See, Frances Fox Piven likes to talk about the poor and working poor, she just doesn't like listening to them.  

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