Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Iraq snapshot

Tuesday, June 3, 2008.  Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces another death, US war resisters get a huge win in Canada, Iraqi women are told they are worth 20% than Iraqi men (told that by the US government), and more.
Starting with war resistance.  Earlier today John Ward (Canadian Press via Nova Scotia News) reported on the vote that would take place in Canada's House of Commons this afternoon -- on whether or not to grant US war resisters safe harbor: "The House of Commons votes today on a motion uring the government to allow deserters and their families to stay in Canada as permanent residents, as was done for the draft dodgers and" deserters during Vietnam.  The issue was always a pressing one but only more so after last month. 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 deportedLondonTopic noted that US war resisters Tim Richards, Josh Randall and Rich Droste "will be in the gallery of the House of Commons as Parliament votes on an NDP motion to allow them to stay in Canada."   As Greq Quinn (Bloomberg News) reports, the motion ("non-binding") passed -- "aimed at pressuring the government to freeze deportations of U.S. soldiers who fled to Canada after refusing to fight in the war in Iraq."
As Maggie Farley (Los Angeles Times) notes that Corey "Glass and a busload of resisters came to Ottawa to watch the pivotal hearing, and cheered from the gallery when the motion passed 137-110" and Farley quotes Glass stating, "This is just great.  We hope the will of the Canadian people will be carried out.  We will see what happens next." 
Iraq War Resisters residing in Canada received overwhelming support from the House of Commons following today's passage of an NDP motion to let them stay in the country.        
NDP Citizenship and Immigration critic, Olivia Chow's (Trinity-Spadina) motion reflected ordinary Canadians' belief that George Bush's war in Iraq is wrong and that resisters should not be deported to jail.             
The motion calls on the Harper Conservatives to allow American war resisters who have refused or left military service related to the illegal invasion of Iraq and their immediate family members to stay in Canada and be able to become permanent residents. Furthermore, the motion would force the government to immediately withdraw any removal or deportation orders against War Resisters.            
NDP MP Bill Siksay (Burnaby Douglas), moved a similar motion a year ago on May 8, 2007 at the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration. His motion was rejected by the Conservatives, Liberals and Bloc.         
Through ongoing campaigns and mobilizations, supporters have finally been able to sway the Liberal and Bloc vote in support of the war resisters
"Ordinary people want the Iraq war resisters to stay," said Chow. "The Harper Conservatives must respect this and immediately implement this motion."       
The Canadian Parliament passed an historic motion today, June 3, 2008, that calls on the Canadian government to make a program to allow US war resisters to apply for permanent resident status in Canada and to cease all deportation and removal proceedings against US war resisters.    
The next step is to write to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, Diane Finley, and prime minister Stephen Harper to ensure that the will of Parliament is implemented.
Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Diane Finley    
phone 613.996.4974   
fax 613.996.9749        
Prime Minister Stephen Harper  
phone 613.992.4211  
fax 613.941.6900  
email pm@pm.gc.ca    
The above took place with no help from Queen of the Beggars Amy Goodman who, as Mike noted yesterday, continued to refuse to even mention Corey Glass let alone war resisters.  Today was day 12 of Goody's silence.  Maybe she'll finally discover the story tomorrow? 
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).
Yesterday's snapshot noted US Maj Gen Douglas Stone's attempted Happy Talk of Iraqis imprisoned by the US.  Late yesterday Anna Badkhen (San Francisco Chronicle) filed a report on the "Awakening" Council members treatment of prisoners: "Deep gashes lacerated the detainee's head.  Purple bruises and scarlet abrasions covered his face and neck.  His eyes were bloodshot, his arms hung limply, and he could barely walk.  U.S. soldiers were forced to carry him to an Army medic." These are the thugs on the US payroll who are 'allies' (at the moment) because a few coins were tossed at them.  From the April 8th snapshot when The Peraeus & Crocker Variety Hour took to their revue to the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee and faced questioning by Senator Barbara Boxer:
She then turned to the issue of monies and the militias, "You are asking us for millions more to pay off the militias and, by the way, I have an article here that says Maliki recently told a London paper that he was concerned about half of them" and wouldn't put them into the forces because he doubts their loyalty.  She noted that $182 million a year was being paid, $18 million a month, to these "Awakening" Council members and "why don't you ask the Iraqis to pay the entire cost of that progam" because as Senator Lugar pointed out, "It could be an opportunity" for the Iraqi government "to turn it into something more long term."  This is a point, she declared, that she intends to bring up when it's time to vote on the next spending supplamental. Crocker tried to split hairs.             
Boxer: I asked you why they couldn't pay for it. . . . I don't want to argue a point. . . I'm just asking you why we would object to asking them to pay for that entire program giving all that we are giving them in blood and everything else?            
Badken observes: "The US military pays each member $300 a month to man thousands of checkpoints throughout Iraq.  The Americans have credited Sons of Iraq for the waning Sunni insurgency and the decline in sectarian violence in Baghdad.  But questionable loyalties, often brutal conduct and an uncertain future make these groups a wild card in the ongoing effort to stabilize Iraq.  In April, Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., said these U.S.-funded militias may one day 'turn their guns on us'."  But that cautionary note is dismissed by the White House and, on Friday, Jim Frederick (Time Magazine) reported on the lastest twist to the "Awakening" Council: Female recruits!  US Capt Michael Starz told Frederick that "this is an employment program" and that "many of the women around here are widows and have no way of supporting themselves."  What a load of crap. 
If the concern was providing women with opportunities, the US could have done so long ago, could have fought to protect and ensure women's rights instead of installing radical thugs in the puppet government.  Most importantly, while the men make $300 a month, they're paying the women eight dollars a day -- that would be two dollars a day less than their male peers while claiming that there "are widows" who "have no way of supporting themselves."  The US government wants credit for 'creating' employment opportunites for Iraqi women but the US is paying them $2 less a day than the males while claiming that the women needs these jobs because they're supporting themselves and children.  Can you say "exploitation"? The real reason the US is using women, as Capt Starz readily admits is that female bombers are now an issue.  The women are being trained to 'inspect' and search other women.  And apparently that's not a job important enough to warrant equal pay -- at least not according to the US.  And the reason for including Senator Boxer's April remarks was to make it clear that the US government is the one paying the "Awakening" Council members, nothing has changed on that since April.  So the US government is sending the message in Iraq that a woman's work is worth 20% less than a male's. If that figure sounds familiar, Nancy Clark (Womens Media, link has audio) was noting that figure last year: "Women are paid 80 cents for every dollar men are paid and that does NOT include any part-time workers! If it did, it would be even lower."  The women in Iraq are being asked to do the exact things the males are being asked to do and the US government is sending the message that, for the same work, it is okay to pay a woman 80 cents while paying a man a dollar. Capt Starz tells Frederick that the increase in female bombers means, "It is a critical security issue that we find a way to have women searched at high-traffic areas."  It's 'critical' but, apparently, work but apparently not critical enough to offer the same rate of pay.  Repeating, US tax dollars are paying for this program.  (US Ambassador Ryan Crocker repeatedly bragged in April, before Congress, that paying them off meant attacks on US service members was down.  It's the hand-over-your-lunch-money-to-the-bully-and-you'll-be-safe-in-the-playground 'strategy.')  Should it be funded by the US?  I don't think so but as long as the US funds it, it certainly doesn't need to endorse gender discrimination.  But that is what's taking place. 
Yesterday, US Maj Gen Jeffery Hammond held a Baghdad press conference.  In it he noted that the resistance and others were "using unwitting women and children to execute attacks."  He then goes on to cite an example, however, all examples don't hold up.  Last month Erica Goode (New York Times) was reporting on the denials that the two women taking part in the Feb. 1st Baghdad bombings were mentally ill.  Hammond stated that the US is in Iraq "to protect the people."  If the US government is going to pay "Awakening" Council male members $10 dollars a day and protecting the people is so important, why are Iraqi women only worth $8 a day?
Surprisingly, NPR's Tom Bowman filed no report on Hammond's press conference because Bowman had a great deal to say during that press conference.
Tom Bowman: General, it's Tom Bowman with NPR.  You mentioned that there are a thousand filed claims in Sadr City.  You paid out about 70,000.  Can you give us a breakdown on those claims?  How many for property damage?  How many for injured or killed civilians?
Jeffery Hammond: Tom, I can't give you a specific -- I don't have the numbers in front of me.  But I'd probably guess and say probably 85 percent is for property damage, much of that property damage coming at the hands of indirect fire that was shot from Sadr City.  Much of that fell short.  We had few mortar rounds that fell short in Jamila market, which I think you know is the critical market that provides much to the rest of Baghdad, and about 25 percent to one-third burned down as a result of short rounds.  But probably 85 percent is paid out for propert damage -- as a result of that and just the direct combat fighting.
Hammond went on to make some fluff but quickly found out that it wasn't going to die so quickly with questions coming about this fifteen percent of "injured or killed civilians" and how this would mean "dozens, at least, of injured or killed civilians".   [Anna Badkhen's Iraq dispatches for Salon are here, some of her previous Iraq reporting for the San Francisco Chronicle is here.]
Meanwhile the White House's attempt to force a treaty with their puppet government in Iraq hits a new wrinkle.  AP reports: "The agreement, which both sides hope to finish in midsummer, is likely to be among the issues discussed this weekend when Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is due to visit Iran - his second trip there in a year. Ahead of the visit, his party sought to calm worries by insisting that the deal would not allow foreign troops to use Iraq as a ground to invade another country - a clear reference to Iranian fears of a U.S. attack."  Iran was a topic today on CNN when Kyra Phillips grabbed the first interview with  Adm. William Fallon since he was ousted as Centcom Commander on CNN's  American Morning. Here for video. Fallon insisted he didn't "believe for a second President Bush wants a war with Iran."  Kyra Phillips asked, "Would you have done that?  Would you have negotiated with Iran?" Fallon replied by repeating throughout that he didn't believe the White House "really wants to go to war with Iraqn.  We have a lot of things going on."  As for why he had been replaced, Fallon danced around the question even when Phillips asked it directly ("Do you feel you were pushed out, admiral?").
Turning to some of today's reported violence . . .
Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing that left six civilians wounded, a Kirkuk roadside bombing wounded nine police officers, another Kirkuk roadside bombing wounded "[t]wo farmers," and a Diyala Province roadside bombing wounded ten Iraqi soldiers.
Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports: "Gunmen assassinated a city hall member and the public relations manager of PUK (Patriotic Union of Kurdistan) in Jamhouriyah neighborhood of Tuz Khurmatu (south of Kirkuk and north east of Tikrit).  The majority of this neighborhood are Kurds."
Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 3 corpses discovered in Baghdad and the corpse of a young boy ("kidnapped two days ago") was found in Baquba.
Today the US military announced: "A Multi-National Division -- Baghdad Soldier died from a non-battle related cause at approximately 8 a.m. June 3."
Turning to the US political race where Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama vie for the party's nomination as Montana and South Dakota vote.  In not at all surprising news,  Barack attacks another woman but he does nothing but attack women so why is that a surprise at this late date? Wally's "THIS JUST IN! NOW HE THROWS SUPPORTERS UNDER THE BUS!" and Cedric's "Barack attacks another woman" notes this AP story by Kelley Shannon:

A Texas Democratic superdelegate who endorsed Sen. Barack Obama disputed claims Monday by state party officials and an Obama aide who say she may no longer be a superdelegate after the state party convention this weekend.
Roy LaVerne Brooks of Fort Worth, vice chair of the state party, said she got a call last week from an Obama campaign worker who tried to persuade her to get out of the race for state Democratic chair against incumbent chairman Boyd Richie to avoid a divided Texas convention.
Even his own supporters aren't safe. Imagine that, Barack trying to force a woman out of a race for office. Shocking only if you've never heard of Alice Palmer.
Hillary will be in NYC this evening and there's been speculation all day and it continues.  Carolyn Lochhead (San Francisco Chronicle) observes, "The inevitable will soon arrive. More interesting is Clinton's speech in Manhattan tonight. Listen very carefully. Tonight is Clinton's, even though Sen. Barack Obama will be the victor. It's an odd moment. Rest assured Obama will be bending over backward to smooth Clinton's feathers. She's got much of the Democratic base that Obama has been unable, despite weeks of bowling and waffle-eating, to win over. They are not convinced. He needs her."  One Hillary will not be watching.  Kevin Woster (Rapid City Journal) reports on Florence Steen who voted for Hillary via absentee ballot and passed away shortly afterward at the age of 88-years-old.  Her ballot has been thrown out; however, her daughter Kathy Krause states, "I can't tell you the number of people who have come up to me and said they either changed their registration and voted for Hillary, or that they were going to vote for Hillary because they heard about all that" -- all that includes the fact that it was her mother's "life-long drream" to see a woman elected president.  Cheryl Linsey Seelhoff (Women's Space) notes, "Anyone who reads my blog regularly knows I have never supported Hillary Clinton's candidacy (nor do I support Obama's and certainly not McCain's; I support only my own, and if not my own, then Cynthia McKinney's), but I'm feeling Clinton very deeply these days.  I think she has been made to be the focus of, and to bear up under, free-floating misogynist, sexist resentments and fears of decades and even centuries.  The way she has been imagined and treated in this campaign does not bode well,  not only for Clinton's candidacy but for feminism, for the lives of girls and women everywhere."
Hill Is 44 quotes Bill Clinton:
It's part of the national media's attempt to nail Hillary for Obama. It's just the most biased press coverage in history. It's another way of helping Obama. They had all these people standing up in this church cheering, calling Hillary a white racist, and he didn't do anything about it. The first day he said 'Ah, ah, ah well.' Because that's what they do-- he gets other people to slime her. So then they saw the movie they thought this is a great ad for John McCain-- maybe I better quit the church. It's all politics. It's all about the bias of the media for Obama. Don't think anything about it."
"But I'm telling ya, all it's doing is driving her supporters further and further away-- because they know exactly what it is-- this has been the most rigged press coverage in modern history-- and the guy ought to be ashamed of himself. But he has no shame. It isn't the first dishonest piece he's written about me or her."
To be clear, he's speaking on a process but also noting a specific reporter -- or thought to be -- and I am not commenting on that.  I've avodied that article.  Do not take the above to be agreement with that or disaggreement.  Repeating, I have avoided that article.  (I know Bill and Hillary and I know TSP.  I'm not interested in reading the article.)