Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Other Items

An American army deserter who says he witnessed U.S. military atrocities against civilians in Iraq hopes to persuade the courts Wednesday that Canada was wrong to deny him refugee status on the basis he didn't have to commit war crimes.
But Joshua Key, 29, a father of four, faces an uphill struggle before Federal Court in light of similar decisions that have gone against dozens of other American war dodgers who have claimed asylum in this country.
In denying his refugee claim, the Immigration and Refugee Board essentially decided in November 2006 that while Key may have been ordered to violate the Geneva Conventions which govern armed conflict, he wasn't implicated in war crimes.
Lawyer Jeffry House called it “patently preposterous" that the board had no problem with the idea that Mr. Key could be jailed in the U.S. for refusing to violate the international treaty.
"It cannot be correct that you have to be refusing to commit a war crime in order to potentially claim refugee status but it's insufficient if you're being required to violate the Geneva Conventions," Mr. House said in an interview Tuesday.

The above is from the Canadian Press' "U.S. army deserter denied asylum" and for more on Joshua Key, you can see in The Deserter's Tale (written by Key and Lawrence Hill). If you're interested in making your voice heard as Canada's Parliament prepares to debate whether or not to grant safe harbor status to US war resisters, 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.

In the meantime, think about PTSD (which Key suffers from) and marvel over what appears to be a media blackout on yesterday's Congressional Subcommitte on Health (of the Veteran's Affairs House Committee) hearing. There were five panels. Yesterday's snapshot only focused on the first one, the one where Col. Charles W. Hoge revealed that the military knew 12 months was not enough for service members to reset before redeploying to Iraq. That's news. It's just not in any of the morning papers. If you search archives you'll find that the press has covered Hoge many times before and likes to bill him as "the Army's top researchers on mental health among Iraq and Afghanistan veterans." But the "director of psychiatry at Walter Reed Army Insitute of Research" speaking yesterday to Congress and declaring that 12 months is not enough time between redeployments is greeted with silence.

Here's the quote from Hoge that's not getting reported:

"One of the issues with multiple deployments and the dwell time for soldiers when they've come back, we've learned from the research that we've done, [is] that 12 months is not enough time for soldiers to reset and go back for another deployment."

And Hoge wasn't mispeaking. Rep Shelley Berkley questioned him at length on that statement, asked him to correct her if she had her him wrong, and he stood by the statement. It just didn't seem 'news' to the press this morning.

Micah notes "Flashback: Obama Voted For Bush/Cheney Energy Bill, Written In Secret By Industry Lobbyists" (

Sen. Obama voted for the 2005 Energy Bill, written in secret by Vice President Cheney and the energy lobby. Thomas Friedman referred to the bill as "the sum of all lobbies." U.S. PIRG noted that the bill's "heavy tilt toward big oil companies reflects the influence of Exxon Mobil and other oil companies on policy-makers in Washington, DC."
The Washington Post editorialized that the bill was a "pinata of perks for energy industries." Indeed, the bill contained $6 billion in subsidies to the oil and gas industry and $12 billion to the nuclear power industry.
Although Sen. Obama voted for the legislation, he has spoken as if he opposed it on the campaign trail, criticizing it repeatedly. At a presidential debate he said "You can look at how Dick Cheney did his energy policy...he met with oil and gas companies forty times, and that's how they put together our energy policy." He's attributed the failure of our current energy policy to Congress's "failure to stand up to the lobbyists."
Sen. Obama's rhetoric blasting the policies of Vice President Dick Cheney and energy lobbyists can be stirring. But Obama's actions haven't matched his words.
More info below:

Public Citizen: Energy lobby gained 'exclusive, private access to lawmakers' to advocate for 2005 Energy Bill 'starting with vice-president Dick Cheney's energy task force': "Since 2001, energy corporations have showered federal politicians with $115 million in campaign contributions—with three-quarters of that amount going to Republicans. This cash helped secure energy companies and their lobbyists exclusive, private access to lawmakers, starting with Vice-President Dick Cheney’s Energy Task Force, whose report provided the foundation of the energy bill passed by Congress and signed by President Bush on August 8." [Public Citizen, "The Best Energy Bill Corporations Could Buy,"]

U.S. PIRG: 'The [2005] energy law's heavy tilt toward big oil companies reflects the influence of Exxon Mobil and other oil companies on policy-makers in Washington, DC': "The new energy law’s heavy tilt toward big oil companies reflects the influence of ExxonMobil and other oil companies on policy-makers in Washington, DC." [U.S. Public Interest Research Group, "How Exxon Mobil and the Oil Industry Benefit from the 2005 Energy Bill," 8/2005]

Thomas Friedman: 2005 Energy Bill Was 'The Sum of All Lobbies': "This bill is what the energy expert Gal Luft calls 'the sum of all lobbies.' While it contains some useful provisions, it also contains massive pork slabs dished out to the vested interests who need them least -- like oil companies -- and has no overarching strategy to deal with the new world...The sum of all lobbies." [Thomas Friedman, New York Times, 8/5/05]

Washington Post: 2005 Energy Bill was 'a piñata of perks for energy industries': The Washington Post said, "…The energy bill, touted as a way to reduce dependence on foreign oil or moderate gasoline prices, has been turned into a piñata of perks for energy industries." [Washington Post, 7/30/05]

Energy Bill gave $6 billion in subsidies to oil & gas industry: [Public Citizen, "The Best Energy Bill Corporations Could Buy,"]

Energy Bill gave $12 billion in subsidies to nuclear power industry: [Public Citizen, "The Best Energy Bill Corporations Could Buy,"]

Obama: 'You can look at how Dick Cheney did his energy policy…he met with oil and gas companies forty times, and that's how they put together our energy policy': "The one thing I have to remind folks, though, of -- we’ve been talking about this through Republican administrations and Democratic administrations for decades. And the reason it doesn’t change – you can take a look at how Dick Cheney did his energy policy. He met with environmental groups one, he met with renewable energy folks once, and then he met with oil and gas companies forty times, and that’s how they put together our energy policy. We’ve got to put the national interest ahead of the special interest, and that's what I’ll do when I’m President of the United States." [Democratic Presidential Debate, 7/23/07]

Obama: 'I'm in Washington. I see what's going on. I see those powers and principalities have snuck back in there, and they're writing the energy bills': "Speaking early this month at a church in Selma, Ala., Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) said: "I'm in Washington. I see what's going on. I see those powers and principalities have snuck back in there, that they're writing the energy bills and the drug laws." It was a fine populist riff calculated to appeal to Democratic audiences as Obama seeks his party's presidential nomination. But not only did Obama vote for the Senate's big energy bill in 2005, he also put out a press release bragging about its provisions, and his Senate Web site carries a news article about the vote headlined, "Senate energy bill contains goodies for Illinois." [The Politico, 3/26/07]

Obama: Energy policy is the result of Congress's 'failure to stand up to the lobbyists': "For many years now, the lobbyists and the special interests have been blocking progress on the issues that matter most to folks who live in rural areas," Obama said. "Because of our failure to stand up to the lobbyists and develop a real energy policy, Exxon has been making record oil profits at a time when Elko has been paying record gas prices. Folks around here are now paying $3.16 a gallon – that's nearly 30 cents more than the national average. And that makes a big difference when you’re driving 50 miles roundtrip to your job, like some folks around here are." [Obama Campaign Press Release, 8/6/07]

Meanwhile Green Party of Suffolk To Hold Earth Day Fundraising Party: Sat. April 26th
Press Contacts:

Kimberly Wilder, Green Party of Suffolk, Press Secretary
(631) 422-4702 /

Roger Snyder, Green Party of Suffolk, Chair
(631) 351-5763 /

Green Party of Suffolk Holds Earth Day Fundraising Party

Need a Party to celebrate your Earth Day activities? Come paint the town Green with local music group, Beat Radio. The Green Party of Suffolk will be holding its 4th Annual Fundraiser on Saturday, April 26, 2008 from 7pm to 10pm at the Setauket Neighborhood House, 95 Main Street, Setauket. (Main Street is north of 25A and 6/10th of a mile west of Nichols Road) For more information call Roger at (631) 351-5763 or go to

In addition to a performance by Beat Radio, there will also be a potluck dinner, and the award ceremony for the Green Party of Suffolk’s "End Global Warming" poster contest. Vegetarian and vegan dishes will be served. Admission is $15 (with a dish to share) and $20 (without a dish). Children are welcome. There will be a silent auction of work by local artists.

Beat Radio is a lo-fi indie pop collective led by NY-based singer songwriter Brian Sendrowitz. From their first public performance at Sin-e in June 2005, Beat Radio has been embraced by indie rock enthusiasts as a music happening. Fans and reviewers have compared Beat Radio to such luminaries as Broken Social Scene, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Sparklehorse, and Luna. The current live show features Brian Sendrowitz on guitar and vocals, Phil Jimenez on guitar and keys, Brian Ver Straten on drums and Paul Rovira on bass. The band collides 60s folk influences with indie noise pop and electronic elements. Check out Beat Radio's debut LP, The Great Big Sea, currently available for download at
The first day Earth Day on April 22, 1970 was meant to be as an environmental teach-in "to shake up the political establishment and force this issue onto the national agenda." On that day, around 20 million people hit the streets to support protecting our environment. This event helped to force the US government to create the Environmental Protection Agency and pass the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts.
Come join the Green Party where Earth Day is everyday. Green party candidates have been working to end global Warming for a decade. Green party candidates have opposed the Iraq War as a wrong policy that would be an ecological disaster. The Green Party is an alternative to the Democratic and Republican Parties. The Green Party’s values can be described by the four pillars of: Nonviolence; Grassroots Democracy; Social and Economic Justice; and , of course, Ecological Wisdom.
Donations and/or requests for advance tickets can be sent to: Green Party of Suffolk, 14 Robin Drive, Huntington, NY 11743. The Green Party does not accept donations from corporations. Please note that political donations are not tax-deductible. Live Green. Vote Green. Party Green.


Green Party of Suffolk:

Beat Radio:

Setuaket Neighborhood House:

NOW on PBS has issued the following:

Our March 21 report "Toxic Toys?" generated heated response from some
prominent people, including a strong negative reaction from Dr. Rebecca
Goldin, who was interviewed on the program.

Dr. Goldin took umbrage at how she and her points were addressed in the
show. She expressed her perspective in an article on the
website. She is the Director of Research for STATS. We wrote a response to
Dr. Goldin's points on our own website. You can follow the
back-and-forths here:

"Toxic Toys?"

Dr. Goldin's Article

NOW's response

And I believe this is NOW on PBS this Friday (although I thought I caught that last week, regardless, if you're interested, there are resources online now):

Could a new effort to fight global warming save money and create jobs at the same time? NOW looks at a city-wide plan in Cambridge, Massachusetts, to make all its buildings more energy efficient. Up to 80 percent of emissions in many urban cities comes from buildings. Cambridge hopes that this unprecedented effort to green its buildings will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 10 percent in just five years, the equivalent of taking 33,000 cars off the road. If every major city in America took the same approach, it would have a significant impact on the carbon footprint of the United States -- and it would generate tens of millions of new "green" jobs.
The Cambridge Energy Alliance, a nonprofit group, will help clients cut their energy use 15-30 percent, which translates into a lower utility bill. The Alliance will then help clients secure loans to pay for the building retrofits, loans designed to pay themselves off by the savings on those utility bills. Retrofitting thousands of buildings could also create a new green job market in Cambridge. It's a bold new experiment, but the Alliance hopes to become a national model that puts green thinking on display, as well as more green in people's pockets. Will this entrepreneurial effort bring new converts to the environmental movement?

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