Thursday, July 10, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, US war resister Corey Glass' good news, a Mosul assassination attempt was a flop yesterday but today . . ., Turkey's prime minister visits Iraq today for a two-day visit and apparently checks out early, the Green Party Convention kicks off in Chicago, and more.
Starting with war resistance. There are celebrations in Canada today but before we get to that, two journalists get the facts right at the top and deserve note. Patrick Arden (Metro) opens with, "Canada was a safe haven for 60,000 U.S. military draft dodgers and deserters during the Vietnam War." Ian Austen (International Herald Tribune) also grasps and conveys the basics, "During Vietnam, Pierre Trudeau, the Liberal prime minister, welcomed American deserters and draft dodgers, declaring that Canada 'should be a refuge from militarism.' Americans who arrived were generally able to obtain legal immigrant status simply by applying at the border, or even after they entered the country." Adding a detail, prior to Trudeau's 1969 declaration, some were being advised to fly in because you could not be immediately turned back the way you would be if you tried to enter through a land border. London Topic notes a 5:00 pm rally this evening in Victoria Park for US war resisters attempting to be granted safe harbor in Canada and among those participating will be MP Irene Mathyssen who states of Judge Robert Barnes' decision in US war resister Joshua Key's case, "The federal court is filling the void that is left by the lack of political will demonstrated by Immigration Minister Diane Finley." Demonstrations were scheduled to take place throughout Canada. They found a celebratory note with some late breaking news. The CBC reported that US war resister Corey Glass, due to be deported as early as today, "can stay in Canada while the court reviews and decides on his applications for leave and judicial review -- process his lawyer said could take months"; and they quoted him declaring, "I was shocked. I was just enjoying my last little bit of time I had in Canada." AP and Canada's GMA pointed out that Glass "is one of about 200 American deserters believed to have come to Canada to avoid service in Iraq. So far, Canadian immigration officials and the courts have rejected efforts to grant them refugee status." Canwest News Services (via Ottawa Citizen) quotes Glass stating, "I had my bags ready and had moved out of my apartment. So I'm in the process of looking for another apartment." Colin Perkel (The Canadian Press via CNews) quotes attorney Alyssa Manning stating, "The fact that the stay was granted in both cases means that the Federal Court judge decided that there was a serious issue to be decided in both of the applications. There is a strong indication that leave will be granted." Perkel also notes the one carrying on the spirit of Pierre Trudeau today, MP Olivia Chow, stating that the Conservative government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper needs "to stop wasting taxpayers' money" by refusing to implement any program (or heed the motion the House of Commons passed June 3rd) because "[i]n the meantime, we're wasting thousands and thousands of dollars throwing people in jail and attempting to deport them." Amnesty International updated their call for Glass not to be deported noting the latest developments. Kevin Connor (Toronto Sun) quotes the government's spokesperson for citizenship and immigration, Danielle Norris, stating, "His deportation has just been stayed -- it doesn't mean he can stay and he hasn't been granted refugee status." Liam Lahey (Inside Toronto) notes attorney Manning explaining that "Glass still needs three decisions to go his way in order to be on the path to permanent Canadian citizenship. The federal court first has to decide to hear his case. If that happens, he'll get another hearing at and if that decision comes down in Glass' favour, he'd then be allowed to argue his deportation order anew with immigration officials." In the US, UPI reports, "News of the judicial reprieve was greeted favorably by protesters in Washington, who gathered outside the Canadian Embassy to show support for Glass and other war resisters living in Canada." CTV News notes that the news has led to celebrations and today's planned demonstrations "will now celebrate the news" but, War Resisters Support Campaign's Lee Zaslofsky explain, "We're also going to try to put pressure on the government to resolve this whole thing on war resisters instead of dealing with it one court at a time." Which brings us specifically to US war resister Robin Long. Rod Mickleburgh (Globe and Mail) explains, "Mr. Long, 25, was arrested and taken into custody by Nelson police last Friday on a warrant from the Canada Border Services Agency. The CBSA alleged that he had violated his release conditions by failing to inform them of his address changes in the charming Interior city, home to several other U.S. deserters seeking to remain in Canada. With no work permit allowing him to earn money, Mr. Long had been 'couch surfing' at the residences of friends. He was further shocked on Tuesday to learn for the first time that authorities were planning to deport him almost immediately, despite a key Federal Court ruling last week ordering the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada to reconsider another deserter's failed refugee claim." Jack Keating (The Province) adds, "The surprise decision was revealed by a Canada Border Services lawyer at an Immigration and Refugee Board Hearing in Vancouver on Tuesday. Long, 25, is being held in the Nelson city jail after being arrested by police last Friday on an outstanding immigration warrant." Lahey pins down July 14th as the day Long faces deportation. Meanwhile Steve Clarke, Federal Liberal candidate for Simcoe North, writes "Gov't can't keep ignoring motion concerning war objectors: Clarke" to the Orillia Packet & Times.
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).
Turning to Iraq where Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrived. China's Xinhua quotes him stating, "I assure the people of Iraq that you will always find us besdie you to overcome those difficulties." "Difficulties" was undefined but most press reports are focused on the fact that this is the first visit by a Turkish prime minister in eighteen years. CNN notes that Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki called the "two-day visit" "historic" and states the pact the two countries have now entered involves "military and border security issues, . . . economis and energy." Hurriyet quotes Erdogan stating, "As the first Turkish prime minister visiting Iraq after 18 years, I am pleased to be here with my brothers and sisters. . . . I am confident that from now on we will not wait for another 18 years before a Turkish prime minister visits Iraq. The agreement we have signed on Thursday for the establishment of a high strategic cooperation council is a symbol of our determination to promote relations." Despite CNN stating it was a two-day visit, the Turkish Press reports the visit is over and that the prime minister "returned to Turkey from Iraq where he met top Iraqi officials on a one-day formal visit in Baghdad on Thursday." They note that along with al-Maliki, Recep Tayyip Erdogan was also received by Jalal Talabani (Iraq's President), Tariq al-Hashimi and Adil Abd al-Mahdi (the two vice-presidents) and Mahmoud al-Mashhadani (the Speaker of Parliament). Mehmet Ali Birand (Turkish Daily News) observes the interest in the visit by all parties (including the US), "Kurds have been very successful in fortifying their status during the Sunni-Shiite conflict. They got constitutional recognition for their autonomous zone as well as increased their influence over the central government. The northern Iraqi administration has acquired internal and external prestige by becoming the only stable region in Iraq. The Kurds have played their cards well."
In other news from Iraq, Ernesto Londono (Washington Post) explores IRAMS (Improvised Rocket Assisted Munitions) which the US military is stating has become the weapon of choice in attacks by resistance fighters with "at least 21 peoplce, including at least three U.S. soldiers" dying from them so far in 2008; while Sally Buzbee (Los Angeles Times) explores the growing season in Iraq during a time "of drought and sand storms across Iraq -- a dry spell that has devastated the country's crucial wheat crop and created new worries about the safety of drinking water." Patrick Cockburn (Independent of London) interviews the ever-present Ahmed Chalabi who states that if the treaty being worked out between the White House and Nouri al-Maliki does not include immunity from prosecution for mercenaries they will "likely" be targeted by Iraqi forces: "The Iraqi forces will follow them with vigour because they are not popular in Iraq. People haven't forgotten about the Iraqis who were killed by private security men in Nisour Square."
In the US, Tony Fratto entertained the press corps with the White House briefing. He noted that Gens David Peteraues and Raymond Odierno were being voted on (promotions) in the US Senate and his glee over that but the reporters present weren't interested in that or anything else Iraq related. Reuters reports the Petraeus vote was 95 for and two against and on Odierno (Lieface of Baghdad), 96 for and one against. Senator Tom Harkin voted against on both votes. Senator Robert Byrd voted against on Petraeus. Staying on the topic of the US Senate, James Risen (New York Times) details why US Senator Byron L. Dorgan accuses General Jermoe Johnson of lying to the Senate Armed Services Committee when providing testimony in April of last year on KBR's work supplying water to US forces during which time Johnson denied that there was "widespread problems with water supplied by KBR" despite "the Pentagon's inspector general" stating that there was (and, yes, there were huge problems).
In other reported violence (yes, KBR's actions were violence):
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing that claimed 1 life and left four more wounded, a Baghdad car bombing that killed the bomber as well as two bystanders and left eleven people wounded.
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports two doctors ("husband and wife") were wounded in a shooting in Kirkuk and Brig Gen Riyadh Jarallah Kashmula ("Head of Iraqi Identity and Civil Affairs Department" and "a cousin of Durald Kashmula Governor of Nineveh") was assassinated in Mosul. Reuters notes Kashmula was shot dead "outside his office" and that another person was shot dead in Mosul. Today a successful assassination attempt in Mosul, yesterday a failed one. Sabrina Tavernise (New York Times) explains yesterday's attack: "A suicide bomber detonated his car outside a regional traffic police building in Mosul, where Lt. Gen. Riyadh Jalal Tawfiq, the chief of the Iraqi military command for the city, was holding a meeting. Genreal Tawfiq was not hurt, but five of the eight killed were civilians, and 41 people were wounded, including seven of his bodyguards, Iraqi officials said."
Turning to the US presidential race. "We were taught as young children," Ralph Nader explained, "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 was the expansion of spying on Americans. And it passed. Barack Obama broke another pledge, flipped another flop, and voted for it. (Those voting against it included Senators Hillary Clinton, Barbara Boxer and Russ Feingold .) As Nader noted, "This legislation . . . 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." Barack caved. He broke his word. He sold out his supporters and the rule of law. Rebecca's "your frankenstein monster has escaped," Kat's "Hillary and Barbara stand up, Barack crawls," Marcia's "Ralph Nader, Jesse Jackson, Barack, Hillary," Ruth's "Barack, Hillary, Ralph, Glen Ford," Mike's "He tore apart the Democratic Party, now its families," Elaine's "Who stood up? The woman they attacked.," and Cedric's "Jesse Jackson Jnr. has a new Daddy" and Wally's "THIS JUST IN! GUESS WHO GOT A NEW DADDY!" (joint-post on the last two) address it. A Barack supporter blogs at the Nader-Gonzalez presidential campaign site: "With yesterday's vote, it was last straw, for my decision not to contribute to Senator Obama's presidential candidate."
Meanwhile, the Green Party's confention began today and runs through the weekend (July 10th through July 13th). It's taking place in Chicago. Pacifica Radio will broadcast a three hour special on Sunday "as the convention comes to a close) that will stream online at the Pacifica website (noon to 3:00 p.m. EST; 11:00 a.m. to 2 p.m. Central and 9:00 a.m. to noon PST). Kimberly Wilder (On the Wilder Side) notes some initial press coverage. Vying for the party's presidential nomination are Kat Swift, Kent Mesplay, Jesse Johnson and presumed nominee Cynthia McKinney. Today is introductions and receptions. Tomorrow will provide several news conferences with Congressional and public office candidates (first at nine in the morning) with a Presidential Candidates' Forum beginning at seven p.m. The presidential candidates will hold their press conference at nine a.m. on Saturday. Saturday afternoon will have the roll call vote, the v.p. acceptance speech and presidential nominee acceptance speech followed by a press conference featuring the ticket. Presumed nominee Cynthia McKinney has picked her running mate: Rosa Clemente. Clemente declares, "I hope that my Vice Presidential run will inspire all people to recognize that they have more than two choices. The time has come to stop talking about what we have to do, but do it by building a 3rd party. I hope you join me on this journey." Austin Cassidy's Independent Political Report notes that Democrat Drew Pritt has launched a blistering attack at McKinney. As we said throughout the Democratic primary, if it's not your political party, butt the hell out. It's a real shame some Greens couldn't adopt the same policy during the Democratic Primary but instead acted as cheerleaders for Barack (Ted Glick for starters). Speaking to Green Party Watch Radio, Kat Swift encouraged people to contribute to Cynthia so that she might qualify for federal matching funds. The Green Party asked the four candidates to fill out a questionnaire. It's shocking that with the Iraq War over five years old it doesn't even qualify for a question. Asking 'your thoughts' on "Middle East Policy, including Iraq, Iran, and Israel" is not asking about the Iraq War. Note all candidates repsonses are in PDF format. Johnson responds, "Diplomacy is key." Mesplay responds at length but speaks of the "admitted mistake: poor intelligence." After that and his apparently mistaken belief that WMDs were found in Iraq, I'm not interested in quoting him, use the link if you're interested. Cynthia responds, "In 2006, I voted no on declaring Iraq part of War on Terror with no exit date. I consistently opposed every regular and supplemental appropriation meant to fund the Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. I have participated in International War Crimes Tribunals (in Brussels, Spain and Malaysia) designed to bring to justice the Bush-Cheney administration. I was targeted by AIPAC and others for my opposition to the Israeli occupation of and genocidal policies toward Palestine." McKinney's referring to the House Resolution "On Prevailing in the Global War on Terror Bill" (June 12, 2006 for the vote). Her record in the US Congress allows her to cite many votes and she repeatedly voted (in all of them) against the illegal war -- going all the way back to HR 114 in October 2002. Should McKinney be the nominee, she would likely be one of two candidates who were in Congress in 2002 and voted on the original resolution. While McKinney voted against it, presumed GOP nominee John McCain voted for it (in the Senate). Mark Blumenthal (National Journal) writes of polling and his thoughts are mainly useless; however, someone might want to ask him where Cynthia McKinney is in his discussion? She's expected to be the nominee Saturday night. She's been expecte to be the nominee since at least January. John McCain and Barack Obam are not yet their party's nominee. So what's the excuse for leaving Cynthia out? You'd think the press -- having rubbed themselves raw as they got off on their own sexism -- would be making an effort at this point to be inclusive. But don't just call out the MSM, what's Yes! Magazine's pathetic excuse for Erik Leaver's crap called "Presidential Candidates on Foreign Policy" that does not cover Bob Barr, Cynthia McKinney or Ralph Nader but includes John McCain? Answer: There is no excuse and Yes! is struggling for readers. Crap like this explains why. (A topic we'll return to tonight.)
Ryan Teague Beckwith (News Observer) notes Nader will be in Raleigh, Carolina Saturday night (St. Mary's School auditorium from 7:30 to 10:00 p.m.) and that he needs 500 signatures to qualify for the North Carolina ballot which should not be difficult since Nader "was the top write-in candidate in North Carolina" in 2004. Matt Holmes (Charlottesville WCAV) notes Nader's Virginia Sunday rally, "Nader will be in Charlottesville on Sunday. He'll hold a rally at Gravity Lounge at 2pm. The campaign suggests a $10 donation for the general public, $5 for students who attend." Nader will be in Richmond, Virginia Saturday as well, at the Virginia Holocaust Museum from one p.m. to three p.m. And he became the first presidential candidate in nearly 50 years to campaign in Hawaii last week (1960 was the last time a presidential candidate campaigned in Hawaii).
Were you drawn to the Nader website because Obama broke his word to you on FISA/Telecom? Or was it because his vote not only immunized and concealed blatantly criminal conduct, but helped lay the legal foundation for a future police state? Or perhaps it was simply his new fundraisers, where the price of admission exceeds $30,000?
No matter. You are here now. Seduced and abandoned. We all know the stages of grief, but we are also serious people, and we are not at a funeral, we are in a fight, a fight for justice in our country and our world.
For now -- at least -- stand with Ralph Nader. Our campaign has far more promise than you have been led to believe. With only a modest increase in our poll numbers, Obama and McCain will be debating Nader this fall. Google and YouTube are sponsoring a debate in New Orleans, and the bar is set at 10% support. Nader is at 6% and growing. Such an event could bring a seismic shift in our politics, because the public is far more progressive than the corporate media would have us believe.
Nader's platform is the real center.
There remains a more tantalizing possibility: Such a debate could create a genuine 3-way race. Today, 14% of voters say they would support Nader if he was competitive, and forcing open one debate could open them all.
You know that Nader is responsible for seatbelts and airbags, but did you also know that he led the campaign against nuclear power, an effort that has blocked the construction of new nuclear plants in America for more than 30 years? You may know that he is largely responsible for the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Freedom of Information Act, but did you know that in recent years he secured cheap, generic AIDS drugs for India?
Nader became an American hero when be brought General Motors to its knees by exposing their campaign to intimidate and smear him for having written about auto safety. Since then, he has founded more than 100 public interest groups. His impact and accomplishments dwarf those of his opponents. His is a story worth repeating, and his campaign is worthy of your support.
Those most impressed with Nader are those who have known him the longest. He will never flatter you, never pander to you, never betray you.