Monday, March 31, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces another death, a missing US soldier's remains are identified, al-Sadr continues his winning streak, what would make a magazine (falsely) claim that their tax status prevented them from covering news makers, and more.
Starting with war resistance. Camilo Mejia, chair of Iraq Veterans Against the War, tells his story in Road from Ar Ramadi: The Private Rebellion of Staff Sergeant Mejia and he also shares it in person. Saturday Dawson Raspuzzi (Vermont's Rutland Herald) reported that Mejia spoke to "a packed auditorium at Green Mountain College" last week:
When a student asked what needs to be done to end the war, Mejia answered that he doesn't believe any elected presidential candidate can end the war -- soldiers just need to stop fighting it.
"The first step in helping the rebuild their country is getting the hell out," he said.
[. . .]
"It's not patriotic to support the war, it's patriotic to stand against it," he told the audience, to a round of applause.
Sunday AP reported on Kristen Westerberg who enlisted "in October 2005" and "recruiters told her she would probably never see war duty." March 11, 2008 she was arrested (the article doesn't tell you how) and she is now at Fort Knox facing charges of desertion. Her family backs up her claims that she wouldn't have enlisted if she hadn't been told she wouldn't be shipped off to war and the military responds by declaring they don't "know why a recruiter would tell someone they wouldn't be sent to war." Jerome Burdi (South Florida Sun-Sentinel) reports Westerberg self-checked out in 2006 and quotes her father (Tom Westerberg) stating, "She doesn't agree with the war." Burdi also notes: "Palm Beach County sheriff's deputies found her in a vehicle behind a closed business after midnight March 11. They arrested her when they learned the Army had a warrant for her on a desertion charge." Why would they lie to a recruit? To make their quota. Joshua Key, another war resister in Canada, was told the same thing. Joshua Key tells his story in The Deserter's Tale (written by Key and Lawrence Hill).
Joshua Key self-checked out and is among many US war resisters currently in Canada who are attempting to seek asylum. They need support as a measure is expected to be debated next month. For those in Canada, the nation's Parliament remains the best hope for safe harbor war resisters have, 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 (email@example.com -- 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 Matt Mishler, Josh Randall, Robby Keller, Justiniano Rodrigues, 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, Logan Laituri, 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).
Turning to the continued assault on Basra in Iraq. On Saturday, Tina Susman (Los Angeles Times) reported that Moqtada al-Sadr was rejecting any call for a draw down "urging militiamen fighting Iraqi and U.S. forces to reject calls to disarm as American airstrikes continued." Leila Fadel (McClatchy Newspapers) was reviewing puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki's decision Friday to stop demanding fighters disarm by Saturday. Counting corpses discovered on Saturday, Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reported at least 31 deaths throughout Iraq and at least twenty-two wounded with fifteen of the deaths resulting from US air strikes. Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reported Sunday's death toll as at least 22 across Iraq with at least twenty-five wounded. Leila Fadel (McClatchy Newspapers) reported on the Saturday efforts of the puppet government to get al-Sadr to call for a truce and how he had "rebuffed" those requests. But what happened on Sunday was a source of confusion.
Reuters reported that al-Sadr was calling for his followers to turn in their weapons. (No link, they've changed their online version with no note of a correction.) By Sunday evening, AP was explicitly stating that al-Sadr said no such thing. AP noted that Moqtada al-Sadr called for his followers to get off the street and and on the puppet government in Baghdad to cease "illegal and haphazard raids" as part of a nine-point plan. Many outlets are terming what followed a "lull." AP notes that a TV station in Basra was seized as Iraqi military troops ran from the building. In addition, Aqeel Hussein and Colin Freeman (Telegraph of London) reported that members of the Iraqi military forces were leaving the military and going over to al-Sadr's side in Basra. Alexandra Zavis (Los Angeles Times) reports today, "Even after Sadr's declartion, residents hunkered down in their homes continued to hear fierce gunfire and explosions in central Basra and southwest of the city." Sudarsan Raghavan (Washington Post) observed of Baghdad, "The mortar shells sailed across the sky Sunday evening and ripped through the corrugated tin roof of the barbershop. They shattered brick walls, mangled beams and knocked over leather chairs. Smoke, debris and glass covered the street outside." Fadel reports that members of the Iraqi parliament "traveled to the Iranian holy city of Qom over the weekend to win the support of the commander of Iran's Qods brigades in persuading Shiite cleric Muqtada al Sadr to order his followers to stop military operations, members of the Iraqi parliament said. . . . There the Iraqi lawmakers held talks with Brig. Gen. Qassem Suleimani, commander of the Qods (Jerusalem) brigades of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps and signed an agreement with Sadr, which formed the basis of his statement Sunday, members of parliament said." Meanwhile Mohammed Tawfeeq and Jonathan Wald (CNN) quote the mouthpiece (Sami al-Askari) of the puppet of the occupation (Nouri al-Maliki) declaring "outlaws" will continue to be attacked in Basra but that the assault will wrap up by week's end.
Today Jenny Booth (Times of London) states, "Life appeared to be returning to normal in Basra and Baghdad today". AFP maintains, "Gun-toting fighters of hardline Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr melted away from Iraqi streets on Monday after week-long clashes with security forces that killed at least 461 people." Alexandra Zavis (Los Angeles Times) notes that while there is talk of the edict issued by al-Sadr having effect in Basra "[a]t least three rockets or mortar rounds were fired at Baghdad's fortified Green Zone today, U.S. officials said, despite" al-Sadr's edict. Erica Goode and James Glanz (New York Times) note, "No serious clashes were reported in Basra on Monday." And that's all that's worth noting from an article that doesn't even grasp what happened in Iran and doesn't tell the readers what happened. (Even AP is noting "well-informed Iraqi political officials said the Iranians played a key role in hammering out the peace deal" -- it's just the Times playing their readers for fools.) Afif Sarhan (Al Jazeera) notes the impact on citizens in the populated area and quotes Abu Kareem explaining, "We need food and water. Electricity has been cut off [for] three days and all food we had in our refigerators has been lost. Many houses are being used [by] fighters to hide and yesterday they entered my home twice, raising the dangers of an air strike over us. My sons and wife are scared and when I tried to refuse their [fighters'] entrance, I was beaten." CBS and AP note, "In Basra some supermarkets and stores were open on Monday, but residents said few people were venturing out." The International Red Cross/Red Crescent notes that in addition to food and water needs, "Life-saving medical services have been affected by the fighting in Basra, Baghdad and elsewhere in the country" and that they are planning "to deliver eight tonnes of medical supplies to four hospitals in Baghdad and to hand over a futher six tonnes to the Department of Health in Kut for the Kut, Hilla and Najaf hospitals." Meanwhile AP reports that Tahseen al-Sheikhly, kidnapped Thursday, was released today (he is over security in Baghdad).
Sam Dagher (Christian Science Monitors) notes graffiti is popping up through Baghdad -- "The Charge of the Sadrs" -- which "mocks Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's security operation -- 'The Charge of the Knights'." Dagher concludes, "Mr. Sadr has demonstrated his power, dspite the blows dealt to his movement over the past few years . . . the widespread instances of surrender among the Iraqi forces and the seizure of their equipment and vehicles by the Mahdi Army shows that despite all the funding and training from the US, Iraq's soldiers remain greatly swayed by their sectarian and party loyalties and are incapable of standng up in a fight without US backing." AP evaluates the results as well noting that the puppet government was surprised by al-Sadr's response which "sent officials scrambling for a way out of the crisis. It enabled al-Sadr to show he remains a powerful force capable of challenging the Iraqi government, the Americans and mainstream Shi'ite parties that have sought for years to marginalise him." Maybe US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was jet lagged but he seems to miss the reality everyone else is getting. In Denmark today, he declared, "All of us in the government were pleased to see Prime Minister Maliki be willing to take this on and take the initiative and go down there himself with Iraqi forces to try and resolve the issue." Gates also insisted that Basra was "under the control of a bunch of thugs and gangs and militias".
Thugs? The "Awakening" Council. The thugs put on the US payroll ($300 each per month) because if you're going to attack people in your own country, you might as well get paid by the US to do so. They are the 'miracle' . . . or so the world was told. Keep rubbing that lamp and hoping for a genie because it's nearly two years since the PR efforts gained intense traction and nothing is working. Walter Pincus (Washington Post) reports, "While public attention has been focused on Shiite-vs.-Shiite fighting in Basra and Baghdad, U.S. military leaders are taking a cold second look at the future intentions of the roughly 90,000 'Sons of Iraq' -- the locally recruited and primarily Sunni security forces that are armed and supported by the United States at $300 per person each month." Tax dollars at work. The same way the US government decided to arm the Sh'itie thugs who felt the best thing to do was to attack Iraqi women, destroy their rights and take Iraq back to the stone ages. The ongoing femicide in Iraq didn't just happen, it was US funded.
Turning to some of today's violence . . .
Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad mortar attack that wounded two people, a Baghdad roadside bombing that wounded two police officers, a Falluja bicycle bombing that was an attack on "one of the Faulluja governing council members' car" that claimed 1 life -- a person who purchased "the car from the governming member yesterday" and wounded four more people, a Balad Ruz roadside bombing that claimed 1 life and a Moqdadiyah roadside bombing which was an attack on "the vice governor's convoy" and claimed the lives of 2 bodyguards.
Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 4 "Awakening" Council members were shot dead in Diyala Province.
Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 3 corpses discovered in Baghdad. Reuters notes 6 corpses were discovered outside Latifiya and 1 in Mahaweel.
Today the US military announced: "A Multi-National Division -- Baghdad Soldier was killed at when the vehicle he was riding in was struck by an improvised-explosive device approximately 4 p.m. in northeast Baghdad March 31." In addition, the Defense Department announced a change in status today: "The armed forces medical examiner confirmed on March 29, human remains recovered in Iraq were those of Staff Sgt. Keith M. Maupin, 24, of Batavia, Ohio. Maupin had been listed as missing-captured since April 16, 2004. His convoy came under attack by individuals using rocket-propelled grenades and small arms fire on April 9, 2004." In their news briefs round-up in today's paper, the Washington Post notes that the deceased was known as "Matt" and that his father, "Keith Maupin said that an Army general told him Sunday that DNA was used to identify the remains of his on". AP quotes Matt Maupin's father stating, "My heart sinks, but I know they can't hurt him anymore" and the mother, Carolyn Maupin, declaring, "It hurts. After you go through almost four years of hope, and this is what happens, it's like a let down, so I'm trying to get through that right now." AP incorrectly states that two soldiers remain missing in Iraq. They note Michael Speicher (missing since 1991) and Ahmed Qusai al-Taayie whom they say "was abducted while visiting his Iraqi wife on Oct. 23, 2006" -- he got married while in Iraq. Alex R. Jimenez and Byron W. Fouty remain missing. You don't need to drop back to a previous war for them, they went missing in the May 12, 2007 attack.
Turning to US politics, US Senator Hillary Clinton notes the significance of today: "Today I join millions of Americans in commemorating the life of one of our great civil rights leaders, Cesar Chavez. Driven by his strong desire to ensure better quality of life for migrant farm workers across the country, Chavez helped found -- along with Dolores Huerta -- the United Farm Workers of America, arguably one of the first effective farm workers' union in the United States. Under his leadership -- highlighted by nonviolent protest -- thousands of farmers across the country were able to secure improved wages and benefits, humane living and working conditions, and better job security. Through his lifetime of service, he has paved the way for many, and provided inspiration for countless others. Cesar once said 'We can choose to use our lives for others to bring about a better and more just world for our children.' It is in that spirit that I join my friends and supporters Dolores Huerta, Cesar's brother Richard and grandson Cesar Chavez Jr., as well as many Americans across the country in celebration of his birthday. We honor a true American hero and a role model to all of us who are committed to bringing change and fight for justice." Hillary Clinton is running for president. Seth (Seth in the City) notes his support for her and lists reasons including, "I can't quite get past the fact that Senator Obama invited not one but several openly anti-gay individuals to join him on a political tour in South Carolina. Yes, he added an openly gay pastor to the tour, but only after he was heavily critized." The LGBT community was tossed under the bus by Obama and remain there still to his campaign. If you doubt it, Duane Wells (GayWired.com) reports on James T. Meeks who provides "spirtiual counsel" to Obama, is an Obama delegate to the DNC convention this August and was part of "Obama's exploratory committee for the presidency". Meeks, like Bambi, takes money from the federally indicted Antoin Rezko and 'reaches out' to the right (Focus on the Family among others). Where do the two men's similarities end? A question worth missing when Meeks is associated with a group who compares AIDS to lung cancer and labels same-sex sex the equivalent of smoking, when Meeks is infamous for statements such as condemning "Hollywood Jews for bringing us Brokeback Mountain" and actively works in the Illinaois legislature to disenfranchise LGBT Americans. You are who you stand with, Bambi. Wells notes:
But the question remains: At what point must a candidate for the highest office in the United States be held accountable for the small coterie of individuals who make up his or her inner circle and potentially bear influence on his interpretation of the constitution? And at what point does the benefit of the doubt give way to guilt by association? Moreover, how can a candidate cultivate a constituency like that of Rev. James Meek, essentially espousing a shared belief in their value system, become an effective and powerful advocate on behalf of issues like LGBT rights that run counter to fundamental agenda of that constituency without experiencing severe repercussions? The answer is he can't.
But watch the likes of self-loathing lesbian Laura Flanders play dumb again, the way she did when he put homophobes on stage in South Carolina. Laura Flanders, quickly becoming the Tammy Bruce of the 'left.' Remember, kids, not only is she a self-loathing lesbian, she's also stuck her nose into Democratic presidential primaries, going so far as to endorse Barack Obama on Super Duper Tuesday when, in fact, she's not a Democrat. If he couldn't depend on support from outside the party, he'd have damn little support. Allison Stevens (Women's eNews) reports that Hillary Clinton can depend on the support of EMILY's List, "Next week EMILY's List will launch a major ground initiative on Clinton's behalf in and around Philadelphia ahead of the state's April 22 primary. The group will target 150,000 women in southeastern Pennsylvania with mailings and phone messages urging them to go to the polls and pull the lever for the former first lady. The messages -- aimed at working women, older women and female college students -- will promote Clinton as a more experienced candidate capable of handling the faltering economy, an issue of paramount importance in a state with a strong blue-collar base and one that played well in neighboring Ohio in its March 4 primary." As NOW PAC notes: "Clinton has been through fire and emerged stronger with each challenge. She can take anything her opponents and the press can dish out, and give it back double. The Democrats need her and the country needs her. Clinton is a national leader of the highest order, with the strength and dtermination and experience to deliver real change to our country. She has been a leader on women's right and civil rights for over 30 years. Clinton is an unparalled champion for women's reproductive rights, justice and health, which is why the NOW PAC endorsed her a year ago this month. Make no mistake, Clinton is the strongest candidate to win in November, and to set our country right. It will take someone with her economic depth and foreign policy experience to beat John McCain." Alida Brill (Women's Media Center) notes her mother's 100 birthday was on the day of Hillary's wins in Texas Ohio and as well as a frienship she (Alida Brill) has formed during the campaign, "I was stunned by his ability to decipher the subtle codes of sexism when the media was attempting to be sly. I was astounded when his anger was equal to mine over a Chicago Sun Times cartoon depicting Senator Clinton as a 'witch' in a boxing ring down for the count. I emailed him, 'who are you?' I learned he was a man whose mother and grandmothers had both died and that all of these women in his life had told him, at the first inauguration of Bill Clinton, that he should keep his eye on Hillary for the future. He was the feminist child I never had, but he was a young man and not a young woman. Perhaps that is when I understood that not only is her candidacy good for young women; it is essential for young men."
If you look at the links in the previous paragraph, you may notice an outlet missing: Ms. magazine. Ms. magazine is AWOL by choice. In one of the most hilarious claims put forward today, it was stated that Ms. couldn't cover Hillary Clinton and Cynthia McKinney's historic runs for their parties nominations -- the claims was they'd lose their tax status. Are you laughing yet. I haven't laughed so hard since a writer needing help with her book put a call to everyone and anyone and gave none credit. (Oh, I'm laughing so hard about that book. I'm laughing so hard because I know all about it. From the top of the sources all the way down to an e-mail regarding a recorded concert -- 'a great lady if ever there was one.' I can tell you -- to this day -- the name and the e-mail account of the person who supplied the author with that. Again, from the top of the source list to the bottom. And every morsel was used but no one got thanked -- in the book or out. I've known that story since . . . gee, back when the book was being researched. It's a funny story. I may have to share it some day.) (Yes, that is a personal message to the person repeating the current lie.) Ms.' tax free status DOES NOT prevent it from covering the presidential race. Ms., by it's very nature, is a magazine that tracks issues pertaining to women. There was nothing preventing Ms. from covering Hillary Clinton and Cynthia McKinney's campaigns to win their party's nomination. Ms. is supposed to be a periodical that offers journalism. Say it with me, "journalism." I was kind at Third. I won't be if the LIE that Ms. is prevented from doing journalism due to its tax-status continues to circulate. The magazine was AWOL by choice. Since I'm commenting, let me state that I happen to agree with Betty's comments in that piece for Third:
Betty: I'm sorry, I've got to jump back in and I'll try to be brief. I know when we're done with this, we're done [with the edition]. But Marcia is so right that false charges of racism were used and are used repeatedly by the Bambi campaign and its surrogates. They have charged Gloria Steinem with it and Robin Morgan with it. Guess what Ms., this Black woman thinks you did an awful job. This Black woman is currently ashamed to be seen reading you because when women were falsely attacked, when they were attacked nationally, to silence them, you chose to be silent. You should be ashamed. You've dug yourself a big hole and I'm not sure you can get out of it. I have no interest in reading your magazine at present. Short of a lengthy mea culpa, I can't imagine ever plunking down a nickel for your magazine. Gloria Steinem and Robin Morgan have fought for all women and have been there for Ms. That Ms. couldn't return that favor, couldn't return for all women, many of whom are now scared to speak against Bambi for fear of being labeled racist, is appalling. Your silence is not just shameful, it encourages the attacks on other women. You should be embarrassed and you should be considering right now, seriously, whether you issue a mea culpa or just close shop because there really isn't much else you have to offer. Apologize or cease publication. It's gotten so bad that The Nation has posted that idiot Gary Younge's attack on women, on Robin Morgan and Gloria Steinem specifically. When a British transplant, who can't even vote in the election, feels he can tear into those two women, it happens for a reason and that reason is that feminist outlets allowed men to think there was a space created where it was safe to attack women. Shame on you, Ms. magazine, shame on you.
Time would probably be better spent by the magazine working on a mea culpa and not attempting to invent laughable excuses this morning that their tax status prevents them from covering news events. That would be CENSORSHIP of journalism. And, no, it's not taking place. For those taken in by the popular lie of the day, burning up phone wires and e-mails, ask yourself about Nancy Pelosi making the cover of Ms. in 2007. If the tax status of Ms. prevented it from covering the news (it doesn't), they wouldn't have been able to put Pelosi on the cover in 2007 since they never put Dennis Hastert on the cover.
Pelosi made the cover because it was news. Hillary Clinton and Cynthia McKinney are newsmakers. Ms. doesn't have to endorse either to cover them. Don't believe the lies.
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