Tuesday, June 10, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, Canadian Jonathan Kay needs a history tutor to explain war resistance to him, a guilty plea is entered in a US court, and more.
Starting with war resistance, the BBC had US war resister Corey Glass and Jonathan Kay of Canada's National Post debate and have posted it today. The winner of the debate? Corey Glass. In fact, Glass didn't have to say one word to win. Not when conservative Jonathan Kay doesn't think a debate requires knowing facts. Kay argues: "There's no draft in the United States -- as there was in the Vietnam era: No one forced him to put on a uniform. Why should Canadians help this deserter go back on his freely given word?" Why did Canada do it during Vietnam? See, Jonathan Kay is only the latest in a long line of Dumb Asses who wants to hop on a soapbox without ever knowing what the hell he's talking about. Let's toss out some basics for everyone. January 1969 was an important month for Canada. Why? The issue of deserters.
Not the issue of draft dodgers, the issue of deserters. The US wanted Canada to refuse to give them asylum. At that time, pay attention Dumb Ass Jonathan Kay, both groups (deserters and draft dodgers) qualified to become Canadian citizens or permanent immigrants. Canada's Dept of Manpower and Immigration informed the world on January 30, 1969 that Canada was considering refusing deserters. In July of of 1968, the Canadian government had already encouraged immigration workers to begin refusing applications from anyone who was active duty meaning deserters could be refused. By January 1969, it was so bad that deserters in Canada (who had not already been granted either citizenship or permanent immigrant status) were being encouraged to apply in areas far from the borders because applying at the border could result in a "no" and being escorted back to the US side of the border (where an arrest would take place). Prior to that, Canada -- much to the LBJ administration's displeasure -- was regularly granting citizenship and permanent immigrant status to deserters and draft dodgers. As a result of the above, it became harder for deserters (but not for draft resisters).
That's why the new policy, explained May 22, 1969 by Allan J. MacEachen (Canada's Minister of Immigration) was so significant: "If a serviceman from another country meets our immigration criteria, he will not be turned down because his is still in the active service of his country. The selection criteria and requirements applying to him will be the same as those that apply to other applicants." Get it? There was a tiny move in July of 1968. January of 1969 there was a move to make it policy that deserters would be rejected/ejected. By May of 1969, that was no more. The draft was never the issue for granting war resisters asylum in Canada during Vietnam.
We can go as deep into this as we need to but, possibly, Jonathan Kay and other Canadians might just be so ashamed at this point -- that an American knows more about this aspect of their own country's history than they do -- that they decide it's past time for them to try brushing up on the facts?
Last week I was in Ottawa, when the House of Commons passed a motion saying that the Canadian government should make it possible for conscientious objectors to get permanent residence in Canada. The motion also said that all deportation proceedings against us should be stopped.
But I may be deported anyway. On 21 May I was told that my last chance to stay in Canada had failed, and I must leave by 12 June (since extended to 10 July). I know that if I return to the US I will face imprisonment and possibly a criminal record.
I don't think it is fair that I should be returned to the United States to face unjust punishment for doing what I felt morally obligated to do. I am hoping that Canada, which stayed out of the Iraq War for reasons similar to my own, will reverse the deportation order and let me stay, as parliament has urged.
To keep the pressure on, Gerry Condon, War Resisters Support Campaign and Courage to Resist all encourage contacting the Diane Finley (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration -- 613.996.4974, phone; 613.996.9749, fax; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org -- that's "finley.d" at "parl.gc.ca") and Stephen Harper (Prime Minister, 613.992.4211, phone; 613.941.6900, fax; e-mail email@example.com -- that's "pm" at "pm.gc.ca").
There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Megan Bean, Chris Bean, 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).
Iraq. Treaties. April 10th, US Senator Joe Biden outlined the basics:
We will hear today about the two agreements that the Administration is negotiating with Iraq which were anticipated in the November Declaration. On Tuesday, Ambassador Crocker told us that these agreements would set forth the "vision" -- his phrase -- of our bilateral relationship with Iraq. One agreement is a "strategic framework agreement" that will include the economic, political and security issues outlined in the Declaration of Principles. The document might be better titled "What the United States will do for Iraq," because it consists mostly of a series of promises that flow in one direction -- promises by the United States to a sectarian government that has thus far failed to reach the political compromises necessary to have a stable country. We're told that the reason why we're not continuing under the UN umbrella is because the Iraqis say they have a sovereign country. But they don't want a Status of Forces Agreement because that flows two ways. The Administration tells us it's not binding, but the Iraqi parliament is going to think it is. The second agreement is what Administration officials call a "standard" Status of Forces Agreement, which will govern the presence of U.S. forces in Iraq, including their entry into the country and the immunities to be granted to them under Iraqi law. Unlike most SOFAs, however, it would permit U.S. forces -- for the purposes of Iraqi law -- to engage in combat operations and detain insurgents. In other words, to detain people that we think are bad guys. I don't know any of the other nearly 90 Status of Forces Agreements that would allow a U.S. commander to arrest anyone he believes is a bad guy.
On the Status Of Force Agreement, Leila Fadel (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that "member of the two ruling Shiite parties" in the Iraqi Parliament are stating "the United States is demanding 58 bases" and quotes Jalal al Din al Saghir explaining, "The points that were put forth by the Americans were more abdominable that occupation. We were occupied by the order of the Security Counil. But now we are being asked to sign for our own occupation. That is why we have absolutely refused all that we have seen so far." Rob Corbidge (The Scotsman) cites the bases as "the most obvious physical legacy". The Status Of Force Agreement is to replace the 2004 UN authorization which neither the White House or the puppet of the occupation, Nouri al-Maliki, wants to renew. (al-Maliki ignored the Parliament and the Constitution twice to renew it previously.) That authorization ends at the end of this year. Were it not renewed, there would be no cover for the US to remain in Iraq. As Nazila Fathi and Richard A. Oppel Jr. (New York Times) point out that the SOFA has "become a major political issue, further splitting Shiite allies of Mr. Maliki and the political movement of Moktada al-Sadr, the radical Shiite cleric." al-Sadr has made clear his opposition to the SOFA and is calling for demonstrations every Friday to show objections to it. AP reports, "The Bush administartion is conceding for the first time that the United States might not finish a complex security agreement with Iraq before President Bush leaves office. Faced with stiff Iraqi opposition, it is 'very possible' the United States might have to extend an existing U.N. mandate, said a senior administration official close to the talks. That would mean major decisions about how U.S. forces operate in Iraq could be left to the next president, including how much authority the United States must give Iraqis over military operations and how quickly the handover takes place." Howard LaFranchi (Christian Science Monitor) maintains that a big obstacle is the "growing economic and political relationship" Iraq has "with Tehran" that's become the obstacle. As Ashraf Khali (Los Angeles Times) points out, "Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki concluded a three-day visit to Iran after meeting Monday with Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who warned that the continued presence of U.S. troops was 'the main obstacle on the way to progress and prosperity in Iraq'."
Dropping back to the August 28, 2007 snapshot:
Today James Glanz and Eric Schmitt (New York Times) report . . . "federal agencies are investigating a widening network of criminal cases involving the purchasing and delivery of billions of dollars of weapons, supplies and other materiel to Iraqi and American forces" -- "the largest ring of fruad and kickbacks uncovered in the conflict here". Among those under investigation is "a senior American officer [Lt. Com. Levonda Joey Selph] who worked closely with Gen. David H. Petraeus in setting up the logistics operation to supply the Iraqi forces when General Petraeus was in charge of training and equipping those forces in 2004 and 2005". The reporters cite an August 18th interview with Petraeus where he explained "he made a decision not to wait for formal tracking systems to be put in place before distributing weapons". There is no tracking system for the tax payer dollars and no tracking system within Iraq where the weapons were apparently passed around like candy. (US arms already glut the blackmarket in Iraq.) Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) noted that the "investigation includes the Army Criminal Investigation Command, the Department of Justice, the FBI and others. The senior officer, Lt. Col. Levonda Joey Selph, worked closely with General Petraeus to set up logistic services for Iraqi forces." And in response to that, Pauline Jelinek (AP) reports, "The Pentagon is sending a team of investigators to Iraq because of the growing number of cases of fraud and other irregularities in contracts involving weapons and supplies for Iraqi forces."
November 11th, Eric Schmitt, Ginger Thompson, Margot Williams and James Glanz (New York Times) reported on the latest when Levonda Joey Selph's was visited by the paper at her Virginia hom and "Selph would say only that she was not guilty of any wrongdoing, and she said she was under orders not to speak to the press." AP reports Selph entered guilty pleas "to bribery and conspiracy in U.S. District Court" today and that "Selph admitted she leaked confidential government information about the contract to the head of the winning contracting company and helped him submit phony bid packages on behalf of six separate companies he controlled 'to create the appearance of competition, when, in fact, no competition existed.' In return, she was paid $4,000 by the contractor and took a trip with his wife to Thailand during which he paid $5,000 for Selph's airfare and accommodations." Everyone lives high on the hog except the Iraqi people. As Naomi Klein has documented, the Iraq War, for the White House, has been very much about""Baghdad Year Zero" -- where they would take an existing system, reduce it to rubble and rebuild it into their neocon, economic wet dream. [Also see Klein's The Shock Doctrine: The Rise Of Disaster Capitalism.] One of the non-stop efforts on the part of the US has been attacks on the rations system. Prior to the illegal war, Iraqis had ratiions card that the guaranteed the people basic necessities. Attempts to do away with them weren't working out so it's been a process of chip away bit by bit. Dropping back to the December 4th snapshot for the most recent attack: "The United Nations' IRIN reports that Abid Falah al-Soodani (Trade Minister) announced yesterday that, starting next month, 'the quantity of national food rations delivered freely to all Iraqi families will be futher reduced -- from 10 to five items.' Now let's be clear, this isn't just halfing the food supplies. He told the Iraqi Parliament that the five items provided will be provided in lower numbers. Here's what's getting cut out: tea, beans, children's milk, soap detergent and tomato paste. Here's what's getting reduced: rice, sugar, cooking oil, flour and milk for adults. What a way to say, "Welcome Home!" And to be clear, despite the lies, this has nothing to do with a government 'shortfall.' This is about ending the subsidies which Paul Bremer already tried once. The Iraqi government has more money than they spend at this point (though a great deal ends up in personal pockets) and this claim that they can't afford to supply children with milk is nothing but a lie." Today IRIN reports that Iraq's Ministry of Trade is floting a new plan that will mean more cuts but just of "those with high incomes". In the midst of an ongoing, illegal war and in a country with unemployment rates in excess of 60% since 2006?
Turning to readily acknowledged violence . . .
Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing wounded four police officres, while another wounded two civilians and a Salahuddin Province roadside bombing claimed the life of "[t]he tribal leader of the AIBu Nasir clan" and wounded the leader's driver and two bodyguards. Reuters notes a grenade bombing on a home that left four family members injured and a Suq al-Shiyukh roadside bombing that claimed the life "of a member of the provincial council" and left four bodyguards injured.
Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 3 corpses discovered in Baghdad.
Turning to US politics. This morning (no links to trash) Taylor Marsh declared that Senator Hillary Clinton had released her delegates -- no release took place -- and instead of saying, "Oops! My bad!" she wants to insist this afternoon it doesn't matter. The word "release" has a particular meaning in this context and if Marsh isn't smart enough to grasp that or how to say "My bad!", she really needs to find a topic other than electoral politics to cover. She also has taken it upon herself to act as if she's speaking for the Hillary campaign and for Hillary herself. Taylor Marsh is not speaking for the campaign or for Hillary. Elaine addressed Taylor Marsh last night and, as Elaine points out, Marsh is no feminist. No delegates have been "released." The convention is in August. A candidate would be very foolish to release delegates. In 2004, Dennis Kucinich gave a lot of promises and kept none of them at the convention. If he'd had a significant number of delegates, he could have made a difference. Any candidate would hold on to their delegates if only to ensure that issues will be addressed.
Meanwhile Bonnie Erbe (US News & World Reports) points out: "The Democratic National Committee either doesn't get it or refuses to admit it. Nothing short of a lengthy, detailed mea culpa by the DNC and by Obama himself, directed to Clinton supporters for the sexist name-calling and personal, nasty characterizations Clinton was alone forced to endure, will do. Even that may not persuade these voters to consider supporting the party this fall. The DNC, Democratic Party leaders in Congress, and Obama should have been at her side, calling her treatment by the media (and even by some Obama supporters) unacceptable." Erbe points out that Barack misses the point appearing on CNN and also note the rush on the part of the media to say that it's all water under the bridge. And she points out the obvious: No one knows what Hillary supporters will do this fall if she is not on the ticket.
Though the media and the Obama campaign want to pretend this is over, there's no reason to hold that belief. Hillary gave a great speech Saturday. That helped Hillary. Her supporters waited to see some positive feedback from Barack and the DNC 'leaders' . . . and waited . . . and waited. This went beyond Hillary a long time ago. Probably around the time the thugs (Robert Scheer, Robert Parry, et al) went after Gloria Steinem and then thought they could turn Robin Morgan into part of the circus as well. Around that time it became 'acceptable' for White Males to show up with columns lecturing women that they shouldn't vote for Hillary -- as the PIGS assumed women would only vote for Hillary because she was a woman. And, strangely, the same White males, so quick to write "Don't vote on gender!" columns, never wrote "Don't vote on race!" columns. Get it? They were afraid to go that far but they were more than comfortable trying to shove women around in the public square. Next was the Obama's campaign's embrace of homophobia because what's more 'hopeful' than spreading lies that the LGBT community 'recruits' and children must be protected from them? It's confusing to faux feminists, but real feminists don't condone that b.s. And it is not going away. The LGBT factor especially is boiling right now and will continue to do so. It's Gay Pride Month. Poor little Sharon Smith, she can't write about that. Laura Flanders and Betsy Reed wanted to talk about homophobia . . . in terms of how it hurt John Edwards (a straight male). They're hypocrites but people catch on. These things are not going away and the DNC and Barack seem to think they'll just vanish. I'd love to know what they're basing that on because it's not based on any real world event. And on women, Bonnie Erbe isn't making predictions. One reason for that, as people who watch PBS' To The Contrary know, Erbe speaks to a vareity of women -- far, far from any echo chamber.
Ralph Nader is running for the presidency. Matt Gonzalez is his running mate. As Team Nader points out, Friday's AP polling showed Nader at 6%: "And that's Nader at six percent with virtually no mainstream national press coverage." It should be added, that's Nader at six percent when the campaign's main focus right now is ballot access (meaning Nader has to raise his candidacy and ballot access while Dems and Repubes only have to get the word out on their campaigns). Brian Montopoli (CBS News) notes a CNN - Opinion Research Corporation poll that also found Nader at 6%. Ann Marie Somma (Hartford Courtant) reports on Nader's stop in Middletown, Conn where he spoke to "about 60 supporters at First Church of Christ" and told them, "Corporations have hijacked our government, turned Washington, D.C., into a corporate-occupied territory." Bill Coleman (Burlington Free Press) maintains, "In reality, the worthiest of candidates, namely Ralph Nader, is disregarded from the outset because the election of someone such as Mr. Nader would bring about a true day of reckoning for American corporations. . . . Yes, Ralph Nader supports an end to corporate personhood in contrast to Barack Obama or John McCain, whose campaigns are awash in contributions from corporate America. The differences between Mr. Nader and the candidates that you are permitted to read about or see on television each day are very far reaching and vast. For well over 30 years Mr. Nader has been actively supporting major cuts in military spending while Mr. Obama says that he wants to 'strengthen the military' and McCain also supports the extension of the U.S. oil empire." Patti Smith is doing her part for the Nader campaign and click here for a video of her at a campaign event at Cooper Union last month. Nader was in Cambridge over the weekend and Michael Horan (No Supper Tonight) posts the video and takes on the nonsense of a Nation editorial: "My initial reaction: somebody's not paying attention. Because I can answer that question without qualification, having watched Ralph Nader get up in front of a small crowd at First Parish Church in Cambridge Friday night and discuss each and every one of these issues. Head-on. (Along with tax reform, electoral reform, Palestine, the voting age, single payor healthcare, and etcetera). Issues that neither Obama or Hillary are going to acknowledge, much less address . The question isn't 'who is willing to point out the veritable herd of elephants in the room, and, great, stinking beshitted angry elephants at that?'; the question is why on earth The Nation and its readership, since they apparently share precisely the same ideals, refuse to acknowledge the obvious answer. Of course, what The Nation is really asking is, 'what magnificently-funded Democratic candidate bearing the corporate nihil obstat and the Wall Street imprimatur is raising these issues?' To which the answer is, such a beast does not, cannot exist in nature, and the absurdity of of asking this basilisk beast to bite the hand that feeds it-or rather, to devour its keeper whole--is patently obvious."
Today, Team Nader notes: "They say it's a foregone conclusion that either Obama or McCain will win the November election. After all, Obama and McCain are the odds on favorites to win. On the other hand. If you believe in betting against the crumbling corporate controlled two-party system. Then you have a choice. The long shot independent - Nader/Gonzalez. (Of course, if you bet and win, all that you will get is a shift of power from the big corporations back to the people. Not bad for politics.)"