Monday, June 02, 2008

Iraq snapshot

Monday, June 2, 2008.  Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces another death, Australia pulls out 'combat' troops, Canada's Parliament gets ready to vote on a war resisters measure and more.
Starting with war resistance.  May 21st US war resister and Iraq War veteran Corey Glass was informed by the Canadian government that he had until June 12th (ten days from now) to leave the country or he would be deported.  Trashy filth Amy Goodman still hasn't 'informed' her declining audience about that development.  But then, Goody's never mentioned Corey Glass.  In fact, she'll soon be hitting the two year mark since she last sat down with a war resister.  But let's all pretend Goodman has something to offer.  (And, while we're at it, we can pretend that latest 'book' is actually selling.)  Saturday John Hagan (Globe & Mail) pointed out, "The Liberals' Bob Rae recently joined the NDP's Olivia Chow and others in urging Parliament to pass a motion allowing American Iraq war resisters, such as Corey Glass, to stay in Canada. Last week, Mr. Glass was refused refugee status and became the first Iraq war resister to be scheduled for deportation." That is important but what Hagan did next was as well.  Over and over, the lie is repeated that, during Vietnam, Canada welcomed "draft dodgers" and, even 'helpers' sometimes add, 'we don't have a draft today.'  Hagan walks the idiots through slowly explaining "draft dodgers" and "deserters" and how both were welcome in Canada and, most importantly, "References to 'dodgers' and 'deserters' had no legal meaning in Canada.  The Immigration Act made no reference of any kind to military service as grounds for prohibiting entry to Canada."  Michele Mandel (Edmonton Sun) reports that "the estimated 200 Iraq war resisters who have sought haven here will be watching a historic Parliamentary vote that could be their last hope.  The motion, with the support of all three opposition parties, asks the government of Candad to stop removal orders and allow conscientious objectors 'who have refused or left military service related to a war not sanctioned by the United Nations' to apply for permanent resident status." Mandel reports that US war resister and Iraq War resister Phil McDowell will be present to see how the vote goes and he explains, "I was a good soldier, I was promoted quickly.  It was just a moral decision.  It was a tough thing to do, to stand up and say I disagreed with the war."  Andrea Woo (Vancouver's Metro News) quotes Ann Wright on the impending vote, "The vote in the Canadian parliament about whether or not war resisters can stay is really monumental.  It's important not just for the individuals who will be affected by it, but also on another level for the conscience of Canada."  Wright is a retired US Army Col and also a US diplomat retired from the US State Dept.  She was in Canada to speak at a rally Sunday for female war resisters.  Chantal Eustace (Vancouver Sun) notes that Wright entered the country with no problems.  Previously Canada had turned Wright away due to the US government putting her on a 'watch list' due to civil disobedience. 
You can utilize the following e-mails to show your support: 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.  In addition Jack Layton, NDP leader, has a contact form and they would like to hear from people as well. A few more addresses 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.  Lahey quotes NDP's Oliva Chow, who steered the motion, explaining, "If (Liberal leader) Stephane Dion were to say tomorrow that he supports this motion . . . we will then debate it.  So we need people to call Mr. Dion . . . 'whose side you on Mr. Dion'?"  The number to call is (613) 996-5789.       
In the US Friday, war resister Ryan Jackson faced a court-martial.  At Courage to Resist, his attorney James Branum explains:
At the hearing, we argued that Ryan's actions were an act of civil disobedience that stemmed from his belief that all war is wrong and Ryan himself gave a moving statement in which he expressed his own views on the immorality of war and the necessity of breaking the law for the sake of conscience.           
At today's court-martial hearing at Ft. Gordon, GA, Conscientious Objector Ryan Jackson was given a sentence of 100 days in prison. With time already served, he has only 29 days remaining!           
Ryan was also sentenced to a Bad Conduct Discharge, demotion to E-1 (private), and reduction to 2/3 pay for multiple specifications of being AWOL (as well as minor count of having postive drug test for marijuana).                    
You can find pictures taken after his court-martial, pictures from a vigil/protest held in Ryan's behalf by local Augusta residents, and the text of a statement that Ryan wrote while in prison for his supporters
There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Matthis Chiroux, Richard Droste, Michael Barnes, 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, Jose Vasquez, 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, Jason Marek, 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. In addition, VETWOW is an organization that assists those suffering from MST (Military Sexual Trauma).
Meanwhile foreign troops leave Iraq kind of.  Ned Parker (Los Angeles Times) reports, "The Austrailian flag was lowered Sunday at the ceremony in Dhi Qar province.  Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, who was elected in November, had pledged during campaigning to end his country's frontline military role in Iraq." Nick Squires (Telegraph of London) reports that Australia's Prime Minister made "an admission that will make uncomfortable reading in London and Washington, the Labour leader dismissed one-by-one the reasons used by his predecessor, John Howard, to join the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq five years ago" and quotes Rudd asking, "Have futher terrorist attacks been prevented?  No, they have not been, as the victims of the Madrid train bombing will attest.  Has any evidence of a link between weapons of mass destruction and the former Iraqi regime and terrorists been found?  No."
Today the US military announced: "A Multi-National Force -- West Soldier died as the result of a non-combat related incident June 1."  John Howard pouted publicly.  CNN quotes him stating, "If I had been returned at the last election we would not have been bringing (troops) home" -- what a crowd pleasing message! Australia's ABC reports: "Defense Minister Joel Fitzgibbon says Australia has to withdraw its combat troops from Iraq because the Defence Force (ADF) is over-stretched.  Mr Fitzgibbon says all Australian combat troops in southern Iraq will be home by the end of the month.  He says the number of troops in Iraq was unsustainable."
Australia's ABC notes (audio link), "5 years, 1 month and 13 days after the Iraq War began, Australia's combat role there officially came to an end in the early hours of this morning.  The 550 combat troops are expected back in Australia for a welcome home parade at the end of this month.  The Prime  Minister today gave genuine thanks that no Australian soldier has been killed in battle.  Kevin Rudd marked the lowering of the Australian flag in Iraq by addressing Federal Parliament and by attacking the former government for taking the nation into war based on flawed intelligence.  27 Australians were wounded over the combat period which has come at a cost of 2.3 billion dollars to the Australian tax payer."
Jake Kovco, Jacob Bruce Kovco, died in Iraq.  He did not die in combat.  He died . . .  Well no investigation really ever got to that, did they?  Amazing when DNA samples are ignored.  Jake Kovco was 25-years-old when he was killed April 21, 2006.    His coffin was shipped home to Australia . . . but he wasn't in it.  The disrespect continued throughout the board of inquiry over the summer of 2006 when the 'tears' of whiney government officials were judged more significant than the tears of the loved ones.   It was a joke -- as we noted in real time -- and last April's 'investigation' was even more so however it did reveal what a joke the 2006 inquiry was.  Dan Box (The Australian): "The army has known since the first day of the military inquiry into Jake Kovco's death that a warrant officer from his unit allegedly intimidated witnesses about theire evidence, yet failed to make the claims public."  Australia's Labor Party is trumpeting the withdrawal by noting, "Labor made a firm commitment to the Australian people that it would bring our combat troops home from Iraq and today it has fulfilled that commitment."
Of course, all Australian troops are not leaving, just "combat troops."  AP notes, "Several hundred other troops will remain in Iraq to act as security and headquarters liaisons and to guard diplomats.
Meanwhile US Major General Douglas Stone held a press conference in Baghdad yesterday where he happy talked his way through the Iraqi prisoners being held by US forces.  "First of all," he stated, "the detainees are given the right to have their case reviewed every six months."  Huh?  How would they do that?  They can't contact their family and the majority are not represented by an attorney.  What kind of review is that?  "Please, US military holding me, will you rethink it?"  "No."  Is that the review?  The prisoners are actually, Stone was proud of this, getting a review "a little bit above four months."  He claimed 50 were being released a day, "a little bit above 50," and last month "it has been 52."  The prisoners are allowed to go before a board.  Prisoners never offered a trial by jury.  Prisoners held by the US military who can appeal before a US military board.  He state there were only "15 women in detention" and the figure flies in the face of other estimates.  But it's an official number and the US military has refused to give one for most of the illegal war.  The US has several prisons throughout Iraq that they maintain and, as a reporter pointed out, "there are 14 women in Cropper" and "Nobody has looked at their cases yet.  They have not been sent to trial or to the courts and then there is delay." 
The month of May ended Saturday so it was time to rush out end of the month reports at most outlets.  (Most curious was seeing one outlet that generally provides their own numbers instead go with the US distributed ones.)  The Los Angeles Times' Saif Rasheed provided the best overview of 'progress' noting an encounter he had with a member of Iraq's parliament in Baghdad:
Last week, I saw him for the first time since I returned to Baghdad. He was at the convention center where the parliament meets for sessions.    
After I finished interviewing him, he told me: "So you returned to Baghdad?"
I said: "Yes, after my work visa was rejected, I moved back to Baghdad."   
He said: "It is better that you and your family have returned because Iraq needs educated and opened-minded people like yourself. The only people left in Iraq are the religious, sectarian-minded ones." 
Then he talked about how his family was still abroad.  
I thought to myself since it was "better" for me to stay here with my family, shouldn't he do the same?   
And 'progress' also includes destroying Baghdad's Jewish community.  Stephen Farrell (New York Times) reported Sunday that the 1300,000 person community has "now all but vanished in a land where their heritage recedes back to Abraham of Ur, to Jonah's prophesying to Nineveh, and to Nebuchadnezzar's sending Jews into exile here more than 2,500 years ago."  The estimates are seven to eight Jews remaining  in Baghdad today.
Meanwhile McClatchy's Leila Fadel posts some Iraqi political comics at Baghdad Observer that probably provide more reality than any of the "May was the month when . . ."
Turning to some of today's reported violence . . .
Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing claimed 1 life and left six other people injured, a Baghdad grenading left three people wounded, a Mosul car bombing claimed the life of 1 soldier and left another wounded, anoter Mosul car bombing was aimed at the police station and resulted in 7 people dead (plus the person in the car) with twenty-five more left wounded and Faris Yunis ("deputy dean of Mosul agricultural college") was killed by "[a] bomb . . . planted inside the car".
Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a police officer was shot dead in Kirkuk (and one person was kidnapped).
Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 3 corpses were discovered in Baghdad.  Reuters notes 2 corpses discovered in Mahaweel.
Today the US military announced: "The Soldier's name is being withheld pending notification of next of kin and release by the Department of Defense."
Turning to US political races.  And we'll start with a quote that really comments on the non-stop sexism in this primary campaign season and on this ridiculous notion that it can be ignored as well as how many male 'lefties' have stabbed women in the back -- yet again.
A genuine alliance with male radicals will not be possible until sexism sickens them as much as racism.  This will not be accomplished through persuasion, conciliation, or love, but through independence and solidarity; radical men will stop oppressing us and make our fight their own when they can't get us to join them on any other terms.
You may be thinking, "Well that says it all."  It pretty much does.  But it said it all in 1969 as well.  That's the late, great Ellen Willis ("Up from Radicalism: A Feminist Journal").  Not only have we seen it all before but some of the same sexists from that period (Tom Hayden, Robert Scheer . . . it's a long, long list) have really done their part from day one to make sure this campaign season was the most sexist campaign ever.  They've lied about Hillary, they've smeared her, they've invented 'soul communications' they had with her from a plane of (mis)understanding far, far away.  They've hidden behing women to make the attacks and, of course, Queen Bees have been happy to participate in the attack.  Nothing says "Love me, I won't challenge you!" as much as kicking another women in the gut while a man looks on.  Not all men are sexists and one of the accomplishments of the feminist movement has been to raise awareness for men and women.  But there are sexist males and Queen Bees still out there -- a lot of them and, as Ava and I noted Sunday reviewing Grit TV, they're never so 'funny' as when they pretend to be 'enlightened.'  Bob Somerby (Daily Howler) catches some pigs in action today: "One such crawler is creepy Roy Sekoff, Arianna's unseemly boy toy. Last Thursday night, Sekoff appeared on MSNBC's Verdict with Dan Abrams. Discussions of pundit misogyny/sexism had been in the air for weeks. And Sekoff wanted to vote with his mouth, which gave us a window to his soul. But then, to judge from the transcript–we didn't see the program--Jonathan Alter didn't exactly bathe himself with glory here either."  And certainly they were out in full force Saturday at the DNC 'rules' committee meeting where they decided the best way to award delegates to someone who refused to have their name on a state's ballot (Barack Obama) was to give him more delegates than the winner of the state (Hillary Clinton) should have received.  Nothing says 'fair' and 'orderly' -- apparently -- as much as rewarding Barack's tantrum by giving him not just the delegates they think he, Joe Biden, Bill Richardson and John Edwards might have won from those voting "Uncommitted" in the Michigan primary (of course some of those might vote "Uncommitted" today or might vote for Hillary), they had to give him more.  More than Hillary who received over 50% of the vote.  Apparently Barack would have cried real hard and might have wet his undies if the 'rules' couldn't be bent and then broken in his favor.  Delilah Boyd (A Scrivener's Lament) shares her thoughts: "Bye bye, Howard.  Bye bye, Ms. Brazile. (I like your girlfriend more than I've ever liked you, anyway; for the record, I'll even try to be civil to you when I run into you at Frager's Hardware Store... I'm just done with you, Donna.)  Bye bye, DNC. You've made it perfectly clear that don't need me.... or the 17+ million others just like me."
Barack made public that he had left the Trinity Church over the weekend.  This followed one clip of Michael Pfleger 'preaching' hate and sexism at Trinity.  As Andrew S. Ross (San Francisco Chronicle) wondered, "Apart from the appallingly racist nature of Father Michael Pfleger's remarks about Hillary Clinton, what is one to make of the congregation who seemed to lap it all up?"  Turns out Pfleger was saying more than the one clip showed.  Last night, Jake Tapper (ABC News) reported on another clip of that same 'sermon' (now two Sundays ago) where Pfleger declared "America is the greatest sin against God" and Tapper observed: "But Obama's relationship with Pfleger -- who is the priest at a different, Catholic, church -- spans decades.  In September, the Obama campaign brought Pfleger to Iowa to host one of several interfaith forums for the campaign. Pfleger has given money to Obama's campaigns and Obama as a state legislator directed at least $225,000 towards social programs at St. Sabina's, according to the Chicago Tribune. Pfleger appears to have been scrubbed from the Obama campaign's page that features the testimony of faith leaders, but you can see the cached version HERE." 
Hillary is the winner of the popular vote but some want to force her out of the primary -- what does it matter if voters are voting for you?  Just because you have the most votes doesn't mean you are a winner!  Didn't we all learn that in 2000 when Al Gore had more votes and didn't become president!  Yes, the DNC appears perfectly willing to trash democracy.  Howard Wolfson ( points out: "According to Real Clear Politics, Hillary's popular vote lead over Sen. Obama has grown with her Puerto victory last night. She has won 17,916,763 votes compared to 17,723,200 for Sen. Obama when every state that has already voted is included in the tally. Read more."
Strangely Barack leaving the nutty church required Amy Filth Goodman to do a long quote from Barack on what she tries to trick people into believing is a 'news' program (it's not even a public affairs program -- today's 'big' story? Scahill's book is coming out in paperback!) but she reduced Hillary to two sentences.  Hillary Wins Puerto Rico on Sunday and Goody reduces it to two lines.  Hillary won 68% of the vote to Barack's 32% in Puerto Rico yesterday in another blowout for the Clinton campaign.  But again, what do voters matter?  Not much to the DNC apparently.
June is Gay  Pride Month. And here's Hillary's statement:

As we begin Gay Pride Month, I join the LGBT community in celebrating an historic year in which our country continues to make progress towards the fair and equal treatment of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans. Still, we have so much work to do. I look forward to working with the LGBT community to make sure that all Americans in committed relationships have equal benefits and that nothing stands in the way of loving couples who want to adopt children in need. We need to expand our federal hate crimes legislation and pass a fully-inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act. And finally, we need to put an end to the failed policy of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Courage, honor, patriotism and sacrifice -- the traits that define our men and women in uniform -- have nothing to do with sexual orientation.
To each and every LGBT American, I say this: You have done so much to help this country understand your lives by simply being open and honest about who you are and living your lives with dignity. Thank you for your courage. It is time that we recognize your hard work. I know that this country is ready for changes in the law that reflect the evolution in our hearts. You deserve a government that treats you with the respect you deserve.       
America deserves a President who appeals to the best in each of us, not the worst; a President who values and respects all Americans and treats all Americans equally no matter who they are or who they love. That is truly the promise of America.
I did check Barack's campaign.  We all know he used homophobia in South Carolina but maybe he wanted to make some weak ass statement?  Nope.  He threw the LGBT community under the bus a long time ago and apparently these days just wants to put the bus in reverse to now back over them.