Wednesday, July 9, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces another death, Barack Obama revists his sexist notion about women 'feeling blue,' and more.
Starting with war resistance. "But in the meantime, these people need sancturay whether it's in Canada, in Europe or even in our own communities -- because increasingly there are AWOL GIs living right amongst us and the progressive community is providing them refuge in the United States," Gerry Condon explained today on KPFA's The Morning Show, Aimee Allison (Allison co-hosts with Philip Maldari).
Aimee Allison: This week we've covered the latest on Americans who have left the US military, deserted the US military, and are awaiting refugee status in Canada. There have been some victories of late and we covered one just yesterday
Aimee Allison: Give us the latest on Robin Long.
Aimee Allison: Now Robin Long and Corey Glass are just two former military members who have gone with their families to Canada and are applying for refugee status. Robin Long was in the application process still?
Gerry Condon: Yes, he had been denied his refugee status but then he was in what's called the pre-removal risk assessment phase which is prior to possible deportation and he was not informed that they had ruled against him on that. So he and his lawyer were not allowed to their legal right to appeal it. So this has happened several times now that the Canadian Border Services Agency in British Columbia has . . . made some very, very questionable arrests of US war resisters. Actually, Robin Long was arrested once before under similar circumstances and it seems like somebody in the chain of command there really has an axe to grind against US war resisters and perhaps some people in the Conservative government eager to set the precedent of finally actually deporting one of these guys .
Aimee Allison: Well let's talk about that because have any US war resisters been deported in this era -- the Iraq War era to date?
Gerry Condon: No, none have been deported yet. There have been -- Although Corey Glass was given until tomorrow -- Thursday -- to leave Canada or face deportation and that's really sparked a political crisis in Canada over this issue. But so far, no, there have been no deportations. And we intend to keep it that way. Nobody should be punished for refusing to participate in an illegal, immoral war and that's the bottom line.
[. . .]
Aimee Allison: Let's talk about how many people are in Canada in Robin Long's situation.
Gerry Condon: Right. There are about 200 estimated to be in Canada at this time. And that includes men and women from all four branches of the US military and many of them are Iraq veterans. About 50 of them have applied for refugee status and generally they are being turned down and then appealing. And this has, you know, come to a point now where, like I said, we have the support of the large majority of Canadians -- from 70% in Quebec to 52% in Alberta -- and we have the Parliament behind us. Looks like the courts are starting to turn our direction finally because this decision last week by the Federal Court in Canada to . . . order the refugee board to redo the hearing for Iraq veteran Joshua Key is very significant.
Aimee Allison: Well today there are actions at Canadian consulates in 14 US cities and then in Germany as well. Can you tell me a little bit about what you hope to accomplish and some of the logistics.
Gerry Condon: Well we believe that pressure from people in the US has been very helpful. Courage to Resist, based in the Bay Area there, of course, has managed to organize 10,000 people in this country to send letters to the Canadian government and political leaders and I think that really helped actually tip the balance toward the Parliament's decision finally to formally call for the government to allow US war resisters to immigrate. One concern that some Canadians have is that by allowing US war resisters to remain in Canada, they may be offending the United States and we're here to tell them that, you know, just like in Canada, the majority of people in this country, the large majority are against the war in Iraq. want to see the occupation -- US occupation of Iraq -- come to an end. And we are happy that Canadians are providing sanctuary for our war resisters and we're thanking the Canadian people for this and urging their government to follow the will of the people to do the right thing and allow US war resisters to remain in Canada.
Aimee Allison: That's Gerry Condon, director of Project Safe Haven, who is organizing support efforts for US war resisters seeking refugee status in Canada.
Allison, co-author of Army Of None with David Solnit, interviewed US war resister Joshua Key and Jeff Paterson of Courage to Resist on yesterday's The Morning Show -- the broadcast and today's are archived. Key's interview was noted in yesterday's snapshot as was Robin Long's arrest. Travis Lupick (Georgia Straight) reports the CBSA informed Robin "he would be deported to the U.S. by as early as Monday (July 14)". The Canadian Press quotes Bob Ages (War Resisters Support Campaign) stating, "This is quite a bombshell in what we thought was a pretty routine administration hearing." Rod Mickleburgh (Globe & Mail) notes, "There had been no warning to Mr. Long that he was in danger of being sent back to the United States so quickly, and it came as a particular shock to his lawyer, Shepherd Moss, in light of last week's court decision upholding deserter Joshua Key's appeal of his failed refugee application." Allison Cross (Vancouver Sun) explains Robin took part in yesterday's hearing via "phone from Nelson" and that "he was told officials had decided in May Long wouldn't be at risk to torture or punishment if he was returned to the US". The War Resisters Support Campaign issues a press release which includes the following:
"The actions of the CBSA amounts to harassment," says Lee Zaslofsky, spokesperson for the War Resisters Support Campaign. "This young man has complied with his requirements and his whereabouts were well-known. The Harper government is ignoring the will of the House of Commons and the Canadian people. It is doing the bidding of the Bush administration in seeking to remove these soldiers of conscience to face persecution in the US."
Oxford Review notes US war resister Rich Droste took part in the Port Dover Canada Day parade by providing information and raising awareness on the issue and the urgency: "Supporters of war resisters are rallying across Canada this Thursday July 10, the date when resister Corey Glass has been ordered to leave Canada." Meanwhile Straight Goods joins New Catholic Times in running the Appeal from Canada's faith communities to the Government of Canada."
To pressure the Stephen Harper government to honor the House of Commons vote, 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 email@example.com -- that's "finley.d" at "parl.gc.ca") and Stephen Harper (Prime Minister, 613.992.4211, phone; 613.941.6900, fax; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org -- that's "pm" at "pm.gc.ca"). Courage to Resist collected more than 10,000 letters to send before the vote. Now they've started a new letter you can use online here. The War Resisters Support Campaign's petition can be found here.
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).
Moving to Japan where (US) White House spokesperson Dana Perino declread today that
"we don't have timetables for troop withdrawals, we don't have timetables for negotiations." Perino was responding to questions about the treaty the White House wants with Nouri al-Maliki and al-Maliki's floating of the notion that timetables for US withdrawal may be included in the treaty. Perino and other White House staff arrived with the Bully Boy in Japan on July 6th. Asked when Bully Boy had last spoken to al-Maliki, Perino declared this morning, "he just spoke to him right before we left. I can't remember what day we left, but the President had a secure videoteleconfrence" with al-Maliki and US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker "checks in with the president daily. Almost." Perino attempted to spin talk of withdrawal as a positive in a sort of 'And before the US invasion, no one ever talked in Iraq!' manner. As though an eviction notice would ever be seen as a sign of progress? In this morning's New York Times, Campbell Robertson became the first to get the White House on record regarding al-Maliki's withdrawal statements. Robertson quoted the White House's Gordon D. Johndroe stating, "Negotiations and discussions are ongoing every day. It is important to understand that these are not talks on a hard date for withdrawal, but are discussions on a security horizion that reflects the Iraqis' increasing capacity, as well as improved conditions on the ground that should allow for a further reduction of U.S. forces." Meanwhile Ernesto Londono and Dan Eggan (Washington Post) quote Mowaffak al-Rubaie (the National Security Advisor of Iraq) stating, "There should not be any permanent bases in Iraq unless these bases are under Iraqi control." Londono and Eggan go on to state that the White House maintains recent statements by Iraqi officials are "aimed at local and regional audiences and do not reflect fundamental disagreements with the Bush administration." Reuters offers two theories for al-Maliki's floating of the idea. 1) Local elections are supposed to take place in October (which would go along with the White House's call that the remarks are aimed at local populations -- Iraqis want all foreign troops out of their country). 2) "Iraq's Arab neighbours -- sensitive to any U.S. military presence on Middle Eastern soil -- have long been reluctant to extend full legitimacy to Maliki's Shi'ite-led government partly because of its heavy reliance on American soldiers."
Meanwhile 38 year-old AP camera journalist Ahmed Nouri Raziak has been held by the US military since last month and AP has been informed he will be held for at least six weeks. He has worked for AP Television for five years and was stopped by the US military (or rounded up, let's be honest) in Tikrit. I can't find a link for this but will get one for the next entry. AP notes: "The decision came as a surprise to the AP, which had earlier been led to believe that the cameraman, Ahmed Nouri Raziak, was likely to be released because of lack of any evidence against him."
Today one Mosul bombing (there were others) gets some attention from the press. Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) explains of the bombing that claimed at least 14 lives with thirty-five wounded, it was "a suicide car bomb that targetedd Nineveh Operations Command Major General Riyadh Jalal Tawfeeq." AFP quotes Tauffiq stating, "The bomber drove his car into my convoy in the Al-Faisaliya neighbourhood of east Mosul. When my guards tried to arrest him, he detonated his car." Al Jazeera reports, "General Riyadh Jalal Tauffiq, the head of the security operations in Mosul and the surrounding province of Ninawa, escaped unharmed when the suicide bomber drove his car into the convoy on Wednesday." BBC explains, "The victims were his bodyguards and civilians in the area." Al Bawaba offers this perspective, "The violence came as Iraqi officials issued data showing attacks have declined sharply over the past year."
In some of today's other reported violence . . .
Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 2 Falluja bombing (fifteen minutes apart) which claimed 5 lives and left seventeen people wounded, a Mosul car bombing claimed the life of 1 police officer, another Mosul bombing wounded one member of the Iraqi military and a Kirkuk bombing in Kirkuk resulted in "destroying a tower for Atheer cell phone net company". On the Falluja bombings, RTT adds, "The incident occurred outside a bank when police and a crowd gathered in the area after an explosion at 6:30 a.m. local time."
Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports Iraqi police and military shot dead 1 person during a raid, 1 police officer was shot dead in Mosul, one member of the Iraqi military was injured in a Mosul shooting.
Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 1 corpse discovered in Baghdad and 11 in Ramadi. CBS and AP up the corpse count by 11, noting that twenty-two corpses were discovered in Ramadi "most of them under concrete in a playing field." Reuters notes 1 corpse ("young girl" was discovered in Kut and 1 in Tuz Khumato.
Today the US military announced: "A Coalition force Soldier was killed in an explosion while conducting operations in Salah ad-Din July 9. Additionally, two other Soldiers were wounded in the explosion." The announcement brought the total number of US service members who have been killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war to 4116.
Turning to the US presidential race. Team Nader announces that the "ten states by July 6" target was reache and the new goal is "15 states by July 20." Ralph Nader is an independent candidate for president. As such he has to fight for ballot access. The five that they are going for next are Arkansas, Massachusetts, Missouri, Rhode Island and South Carolina. "And to get there, we need to raise $60,000. In eleven days. Here is what we propose. Donate now - in whatever denomination suits you - $5, $10, $20, $50, $100.
And if you choose, your name will pop up on our fundraising widget - which shows every dollar we raise as we approach our $60,000 goal." And Ralph Nader notes:
This is Ralph Nader.
Today is Wednesday July 9, 2008.
And I'm listening now to the debate on the Senate floor over legislation that will give President Bush new warrantless eavesdropping powers.
The bill will also grant immunity to telecom companies for cooperating with Mr. Bush in his illegal warrantless wiretapping on Americans - on any one of you.
We were taught as young children that in our democracy, under our system of justice, nobody is above the law - nobody.
But this bill puts the President and the telecom companies above the law.
It also conveniently assures a coverup of Mr. Bush's past crimes in this area - of wiretapping and surveillance.
On the Senate floor, Senator Feingold has just warned his colleagues that the Senate "will regret that we passed this legislation."
As my home state Senator, Christopher Dodd, said:
"If we pass this legislation, the Senate will ratify a domestic spying regime that has already concentrated far too much unaccountable power in the President's hands and will place the telecommunications companies above the law."
What does it say that Senators Dodd, Feingold, Harry Reid, and Patrick Leahy have led the valiant fight against this bill, but Senator Obama has said he will vote for it?
Again, this bill gives the President vast new warrantless eavesdropping powers and allows the government - for the first time ever - to tap into America's telecommunications networks with no judicial warrant requirement.
President Bush and the Democrats who support him argue that the telecommunications companies were only doing what they were told by the President and were acting as "patriotic corporate citizens."
This is pure hogwash.
First of all, corporations aren't citizens.
Second, the President can't order anyone - citizens or corporations - to break the law.
This legislation, which the Senate is debating right now, sets up a double standard of justice.
Break the law as a citizen, go to jail.
Break the law as a corporation, go to Washington and get immunity.
Remember, there were telecom companies, such as Qwest, that refused to follow President Bush's illegal wiretap orders and chose instead to obey the laws of the land.
The Senate is now poised to bury the rule of law.
What to do?
Join Nader/Gonzalez - the candidacy that will shift the power from the corporations back into the hands of the people.
We strongly oppose the wiretap surveillance legislation that Obama and McCain support.
We stand strongly with the American people and for the Constitution.
The Nader/Gonzalez campaign is now at six percent in the most recent CNN poll.
We're in the middle of a fundraising drive right now to put Nader/Gonzalez on the ballot in 45 states by September 20.
Help us get there now.
Go to votenader.org.
Donate to your heart's content.
For the Constitution.
For shifting the power from the corporations, back into the hands of the American people.
"We the people" are the first words of the Constitution - we should always remember.
Marcia and Ruth noticed confusion online regarding Nader's appearances Saturday -- there are two and the one in Richmond is in the afternoon. So we'll join them in noting Ralph Nader's upcoming events:
Brian Montopoli (CBS News) examines presumed Democratic nominee Barack Obama. Montopoli explores an interview Barack gave to the Christian outlet Relevant magazine. During the course of the interview, the magazine publisher (Cameron Strang) sums up a position for Barack which includes this opening, "You've said you're personally against abortion . . ." To be really clear, were the person Strang speaking to Dianne Feinstein, Nancy Pelosi, Barbara Boxer, Hillary Clinton or any other number of women in Congress, it would be one thing. But when it's the man who refused to vote "yes" or "no" and went with "present" while in the Illinois state legislature, that's a different matter. Equally true is a woman making that statement may or may not have found herself in the position where she had to take the theoretical into practice. Though the press credits the Christ-child with amazing powers, it's highly unlikely that Barack has ever found himself pregnant. The summary (and the fact that Barack doesn't object to it) should (at the very least) raise eyebrows. Roe v. Wade as a scare tactic is not going to work. And one of the main reasons is Barack won't talk to women. He sneers at women. When it's time to talk abortion, why is he running to a 'Christian' magazine and allowing that he is "personally against abortion"? More insulting -- and this is insulting to women, to pro-choice advocates of both genders and to medical professionals (especially those in the mental health field) -- is this remark: "I absolutely can, so please don't believe the emails. I have repeatedly said that I think it's entirely appropriate for states to restrict or even prohibit late-term abortions as long as there is a strict, well-defined exception for the health of the mother. Now, I don't think that 'mental distress' qualifies as the health of the mother. I think it has to be a serious physical issue that arises in pregnancy, where there are real, significant problems to the mother carrying that child to term. Otherwise, as long as there is such a medical exception in place, I think we can prohibit late-term abortions." Barack is an IDIOT about the law -- obvious when he didn't grasp who the plantiff and defendent were in the landmark case Loving v. Virginia -- but that series of sentences contains something to offend just about everyone. A) He's talking about banning late-term abortions which isn't really something he campaigned on while pretending to be 'liberal.' B) Barack has no medical degree so he doesn't know the first damn thing about "mental distress." That's insulting to those in the mental health practice as well as women. Repeating, Barack has most likely never been pregnant. He sure seems to think he knows a great deal, doesn't he? Despite being a basically C-average student most of his life. Marie Cocco (Washington Post Writers Group) breaks it down:
Obama says that these women should not be able to obtain a late-term abortion, because just "feeling blue" isn't the same as suffering "serious clinical mental health diseases." True enough. And totally infuriating.
During the recent Obama pander tour -- the one in which he spent about a week trying to win over conservative religious voters -- the presumptive Democratic nominee unnecessarily endorsed President Bush's faith-based initiative, a sort of patronage program that rewards religious activists for their political support with public grants. Then in a St. Louis speech, Obama declared that "I let Jesus Christ into my life." That's fine, but we already have a president who believes this was a qualification for the Oval Office, and look where that's gotten us.
Obama's verbal meanderings on the issue of late-term abortion go further. He has muddied his position. Whether this is a mistake or deliberate triangulation, only Obama knows for sure.
One thing is certain: Obama has backhandedly given credibility to the right-wing narrative that women who have abortions -- even those who go through the physically and mentally wrenching experience of a late-term abortion -- are frivolous and selfish creatures who might perhaps undergo this ordeal because they are "feeling blue."