Monday, July 28, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, the US military says "WOOPSIE!" for two incidents where civilians were killed, Sister Barack bombs at the NOW convention, The Nation magazine continues to struggle with the concept of journalism (surprising absolutely no one) and more.
Starting with war resistance. Friday evening, a protest was held outside Fort Carson in Colorado to show support for US war resister Robin Long, extradited from Canada, and now awaiting the US military's decision on what happens next. KKTV (link has text and video) reported on the protest live.
David Nancarrow: He joined the army in 2003 now 25-year-old Robin Long will answer to military officials after he made a choice not to join his unit in Iraq. Thanks for joining us tonight. I'm David Nancarrow.
Michelle Molison: And I'm Michelle Molison. Robin Long flees to Canada just as his unit is being deployed to Iraq.
David Nancarrow: AWOL for three years, Long was deported from Canada and sent back to the US just last week. This the first time since the Vietnam era. KKTV's news reporter Eric Lupher joins us live at Fort Carson tonight and, Eric, Long has plenty of supporters saying he had the right to make the decision he made.
Eric Lupher: His support comes from a local activist group who was out earlier today in protest claiming that Long didn't know what he was getting into when he joined the service but others feel the exact opposite, saying 'If you're going to join the military during wartime, you better be prepared to go to war."
Col B. Shannon Davis: We join military service to fight our nation's wars. When you join and you sign up, you know that right up front.
Eric Lupher: This group disagrees.
Garrett Reppenhagen: There's a huge propaganda smear across the country to get young men to join the military.
Eric Lupher: Garrett Reppenhagen, along with other members, supporters -- young and old from the Pikes Peak Justice Peace Commission stand in protest at Alamo Square Park.
[Unidentified male demonstrating in support of Robin]: At the end of the day, you know, we really feel that Robin should be free.
Eric Lupher: Free from the military from the war Robin Long never wanted to fight.
Lee Zaslofsky: Robin Long did what he did because of his conscience and because he believed that the war was wrong, that he was simply running away or hiding out.
Eric Lupher: But according to Col B. Shannon Davis, the requirements of service are clear from the very beginning.
Col B. Shannon Davis: There should be no reservations when you take the oath of office to protect your country and fight for your country.
Eric Lupher: But Long's supporters refuse to give up, refuse to believe the war in Iraq is justified.
Lee Zaslofsky: I think most Americans now realize that the war in Iraq is a complete mistake.
Eric Lupher: So they protest.
Col B. Shannon Davis:They're exercising the freedoms of this country tonight and I'm not going to put them down for that. That's their freedom, that's what I fight for them to have those freedoms.
Eric Lupher: Long will likely go to court-martial. Now Fort Carson is hesitant to tell us what penalty is ahead of him. Now Long's attorney [James Branum] tells us that his client could spend years in prison and, worse case, face death. David and Michelle?
David Nancarrow: Alright Eric Lupher live for us at Fort Carson tonight. Thanks very much.
There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Andrei Hurancyk, 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. Over the weekend Sabrina Tavernise (New York Times) reported that the pipeline between northern Iraq and Turkey is pumping oil at a "more than tenfold" increase from 2007 and, oh, by the way, US forces patrol the pipeline. Additionally, Tavernise noted (in her final paragraph), "Also on Friday, the American military acknowledged that it unintentionally killed the son of an editor for an American-financed newspaper in the northern city of Kirkuk on Thursday. The military said soldiers had been fired at from a taxi and shot back, hitting Arkan al-Naiemi, 14, in the taxi." Consider it starting a trend. June 25th snapshot: "Reuters notes the US military shot dead 2 'suspects' in Samara and they shot dead 3 people in a car 'near Baghdad airport'. On the 3 in Baghdad, Doug Smith (Los Angeles Times) reports, 'Officials at Yarmouk Hospital identified the dead as a manager and two female employees of a bank at the airport. Iraqi police also reported that two bodyguards were injured' while the US military maintains they were attacked by the bank employees." Sunday Leila Fadel (McClatchy Newspapers) reported that the US military has admitted the three slaughtered were civilians and not, as they LIED in June, criminals. There's an apology tacked on in there but it's not going over with the son of the bank manager. Mohammed Hafeth "said the image of his father's burning vehicle haunts him. He'd waited in his father's office that morning surprised that he wasn't there yet. They'd left at nearly the same time that morning." Fadel reports Mohammed learned of the shooting and arrived on the scene to find the car on fire and being told by US soldiers that he had to leave. He asks Fadel, "Why did they kill him like this? We demand that they send those soliders to an Iraqi and American court." The family turned down an offer of $10,000 from the US military. Today Sudarsan Raghavan and Qais Mizher (Washington Post) note that the family wants a written apology and quote Mohammed stating, "It was only $10,000. My father was the main provider for our family. We are a displace people. We also have to replace our car. We are in a very difficult time." Richard A. Oppel Jr. (New York Times) observes that "the findings call into question the way the military handled the aftermath of the shootings" and quotes Lt Col Steve Stover stating, "We don't believe there was any cover-up." Saif Hameed and Ned Parker (Los Angeles Times) remind, "Initially, some soldiers thought that someone in the car was shooting and that Iraqi police had found a weapon in the vehicle, the miltiary said. However, no weapon was found and the passengers turned out to be a man and two women who worked at the airport bank." Iraqi police had found a weapon? Thought that. And then waived the vehilce through a checkpoint? Really?
Hameed and Parker also note that multiple bombings struck Baghdad today: "Early today, 20 civilians were killed and 47 wounded by three female suicide bombers in eastern Baghdad as Shiite pilgrims marched to the Imam Kadhim shrine in west Baghdad, an Interior Ministry official said. The attacks happened a day before a religious festival marking the death of the revered Shiite figure, who died in 799." Earlier, Mohammed Abbas (Reusters) reported 24 dead from 3 Baghdad bombings (all three bombngs are said to have been female suicide bombers). Nicholas Spangler and Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) report 24 dead in Baghdad with sixty-seven injured. Camilla Hall (Bloomberg News) points out those figures are the ones being used by Jalal Talabani, Iraq's president, in a message he left on his political party's website and that he noted the dead includes women and children. The Telegraph of London explains, "The pilgrims were walking through the Karrada district of central Baghdad, towards Kadhimiyah in the city's north where up to a million people will celebrate a Shia festival, when the bombers struck." The Australian notes, "The bombers struck in quick succession in the Karrada district of central Baghdad as tens of thousands of Shia pilgrims were making their way on foot towards Kadhimiyah in the north of the Iraqi capital, site of today's Shia festival, a ceremony that has been marred by bloodshed in the past." "Thousands of Shi'ite Muslims walk through this popular shopping district here in Baghdad, mournful religious sermons blare from speakers set up to greet them," Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson (NPR's All Things Considered) explains from "less than two miles" where the three Baghdad bombings took place. Hussein Kahim (McClatchy) notes Baghdad has imposed a ban on cars from five a.m. tomorrow through five a.m. Wednesday. CNN places the death toll at 32 with one-hundred and two people wounded.
Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Balad Ruz roadside bombing claimed 4 lives.
Reuters notes 1 woman shot dead in Mosul, 1 man shot dead in Mosul.
Reuters notes 1 corpse discovered in Mosul and 1 corpse ("handcuffed woman with a gunshot wound to the chest").
In other news, Katharine Euphrat (AP) reports that the VA's suicide prevention hotline (1-800-873-TALK) has received requests for assistance from over 22,000 veterans. The statistics are from the government and the government also states that they have prevented 1,221 veterans' suicides.
Turning to the US presidential race. Thank The Nation for us noting the first item. It's been covered. But when Air Berman thinks he can lie and The Nation wants to let him, we have to cover it. Thursday Barack Obama was in Germany. He was scheduled to meet with wounded US service members there. He cancelled. He had a host of excuses and the one he finally stuck with was that the Pentagon said no. Air Berman runs with that and whines, "The Obama campaign scrapped the troop visit after the Pentagon told them it would be viewed as a campaign event." There is no hope for Air Berman. He is not a journalist, he never will be. He wants to be a Mac Daddy but that'll never happen either. Reality broke in the real media Friday evening/night. Air ignores that -- by choice. His candidate is more important to him than the truth. Dan Balz (Washington Post) reported, "The Pentagon said Friday that it did no prevent an Obama visit" and quoted Pentagon flack Bryan Whitman stating, "Nobody denied Senator Obama the opportunity to visit our wounded being cared for at Landstuhl. Obviously, as a sitting senator, he has an interest in that and certainly visit in an official capacity." Dan Balz or Air Berman, who you gonna trust? Exactly. So little Ari whines Barack was forced to do it because the Pentagon said what was planned was a campaign event! Ari, you no doubt know of Maj Gen Scott Gration (Barack advisor). Caren Bohan (Reuters) quoted him Friday evening stating, "Senator Obama did not want to have a trip to see our wounded warriors perceived as a campaign event". Barack cancelled the event. He did so when the Pentagon informed he could not use it as a photo op. They didn't tell his campaign the visit couldn't happen, they walked the campaign through what was allowed and what wasn't. All the adoring press? Nope. When he found out he wouldn't be able to use wounded GIs as cheap props in campaign photos, he blew off the scheduled visit and went to his hotel to work out. That's reality. CNN quoting Whitman, "We do have certain policy guidelines for political campaigns and elections. And what is appropriate and what is not appropriate in those situations. But the Pentagon certainly did not tell the senator that he could not visit Landstuhl." As Trina noted Friday, "Usually everyone lies for him. But the Pentagon's not going to do that for him and now he's exposed as the man who decided to skip out on wounded service members after he was informed he couldn't turn it into a campaign stop. If a tree falls in the forest when no one is around, did it make a sound? If Barack emotes with no cameras around, he thinks it won't make for a media sound-byte. So it was okay for him to blow off US soldiers. How disgusting is he?" And how disgusting is Ari Berman that he wants to show up on Monday and LIE and how disgusting is The Nation that they go along with it? Pretty disgusting but the Campus Marxist King went from Katrina's coffee-fetcher to Barack's official campaign blogger and regularly brags he can get anything planted in The Nation. Apparently so. Air Berman creates a conspiracy and then traces it back to the White House ("the Bush Administration intervened to block Obama's planned visit"). Now I know that there really aren't any brains at the top of The Nation but when you start allowing your staff to create their own rumors and print them as fact, you've hit a new low. Air 'quotes' MSNBC but doesn't link, I believe it may be to this and Domenico Montanaro added an update: "One military official who was working on the Obama visit said because political candidates are prohibited from using military installations as campaign backdrops, Obama's representatives were told, 'he could only bring two or three of his Senate staff member, no campaign officials or workers. Obama could nto bring any media. Only military photographers would be permitted to record Obama's visit." Barack Obama is the presumped and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee. John McCain is the same for the GOP. McCain appeared on ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos yesterday (transcript here) and George Steph asked him about the cancelled visit.
John McCain: Well, I know this, that those troops would have loved to have seen him. And I know of no Pentagon regulation that would have prevented him from going there -- without the media and the press and all of the associated people -- nothing that I know of would have kept him from visiting those wounded troops. And they are gravely wounded, many of them.
George Stephanopoulos: He's done it many times in the past.
John McCain: In Landstuhl, Germany, when I went through, I visited -- I visited the hospital. But the important thing is that, if I had been told by the Pentagon that I couldn't visit those troops, and I was there and wanted to be there, I guarantee you, there would have been a seismic event. And so, I believe he had the opportunity to go without the media. And I'll let the facts speak for themselves.
US News & World Reports points out that Whatever Happened to Baby Jane Senator Claire McCaskill stumbled onto the set of Fox News Sunday to rail against an ad that McCain's running by bleating out, "The most disappointing thing about this ad is that it's beneath John MCain, because he's playing political football with wounded soldiers." No, Claire, drop the 40 proof vodka long enough to grasp "the most disappointing thing" is that Saint Barack bailed on wounded service members when he found out it couldn't be a photo-op. (For other 'disappointing things about this,' look in the mirror, Claire.) Juliet Eilperin (Washington Post) notes that Diebold's own Chuckie Hagal took to CBS' Face The Nation where he roared (in his best Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?), "I think John is treading on some very thin ground here when he" cutting him off because Chuckie didn't have his facts. That's the US Senate for you, they wake up and drink harder all day than the rest of us. Knock another back, Chuckie. As usual when Bambi gets anything but soft gloves and feather kisses, the campaign whines (and then usually screams "racism!"). Tommy Vietor -- who's been the Agnes Gooch to Barack's Mame for far too long -- whines to Eilperin, "I think a lot of people are wondering what happened to the civil campaign John McCain said he was going to run." Agnes Vietor whines a lot to the press -- click here for the whining to Alexander Cockburn in 2006. Note that the article was published in 2006 -- before Alex drank the Kool-Aid and peed it all over himself in public.
Ava and I covered the travelogue and Barack's alarming statements (alarming to those who played fool or were fools) re: Iraq, Syria, Israel and more. We will come back to that later in the week but for now check out Katie Couric's interview with Barack (CBS Evening News -- links has video and transcript). Now we're turning to Peggy Simpson's report (WMC) on the NOW convention (July 18-20) which took place in Bethesda and featured Marie Cocco, Patricia Ireland, Carol Jenkins, Carolyn Maloney, Irshad Manji, Monica Aleman and others. Simpson reports NOW president Kim Gandy announced to one and all that "sister" (I'm being sarcastic) Barack sends greetings. From prison, Kim? Do we need to mount a Free Barack action? He sends his greetings? That lousy pig who used sexism non-stop sends his greetings? Let's drop back to June, to Katharine Q. Seelye and Julie Bosman (New York Times) reporting on the media finally maybe noticing the sexism targeted at Hillary:
In response, the Obama campaign directed a reporter to Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Democrat of Florida who supported [Ms.] Clinton but who is now speaking for the Obama campaign. She said Mr. Obama had no specific plans for a speech on sexism, partly because he already incorporated themes of discrimination as a societal problem in his speeches.
No specific plans -- now or ever. He could travel all over the globe but he couldn't show up for the NOW convention? No feminist wants to hear his garbage. Which is obvious from Simpson's report. She notes that Gandy's message from Sister Barack resulted in "a minor ripple of applause." Simpson focuses on one organizer who spoke to the conference, Jehmu "Green spoke last weekend at the national NOW convention, one that was subdued rather than boisterous, in the wake of Hillary Clinton's primary defeat by Barack Obama. Some NOW delegates wore Hillary tee-shirts. There was minimal talk of Obama and loud cheers whenever someone mentioned Clinton." She quotes Green explaining, "We increased [women's] turnout by 200 percent in the [Democratic] primaries -- gosh, we came really close to nominating Hillary. . . I also was disheartened when I saw young women vilify Senator Clinton and vilify being a feminist."
To The Contrary's Bonnie Erbe (US News & World Reports) explains, "Obama draws an adoring crowd of 200,000 in Berlin. He pulls ahead in national polls. Meanwhile, McCain, who has run a near-disastrous campaign, inches up in key swing states? Go figure. I say, give Obama the guitar he so richly deserves and make him a rock star. Give McCain a war to run somewhere. And let voters redo the primaries so they can nominate two more mainstream candidates. Anyone who says the election is over and Obama is the victor reminds me of the Obama partisans drumming Sen. Hillary Clinton out of the race and turning off millions of potential Democratic supporters in the process. They do their candidate a much greater service if they duct-tape their mouths." On the Berlin event, Just Say No Deal issues this statement: "While coverage of Senator Obama's Berlin speech provided audiences here at home nothing less than a visual 'shock and awe,' it neglected to mention that the well-hyped speech had an opening act: a gratis concert by two wildly popular groups, Reggae artist Patrice and rock band Reamonn (pictured below with Barack Obama). While we appreciate the Obama Campaign's hospitality, on behalf of furthering US-Germany relations, offering free bratwurst, pizza and even beer for three hours during the free rock concert, we question whether or not the monies might have been better spent here on financially strapped US citizens. Similarly, back on May 20, 2008 in Portland, Oregon, Senator Obama took the stage following the critically acclaimed local band The Decemerists, who gave a rare free concert for 75,000 fans. While news stories generated by both appearances focused on the enormity of the crowd size, few mentioned the accompanying perks, leaving some to question whether revelers are showing up for Senator Obama or for free food and entertainment. Without this additional information, Just Say No Deal contends that Americans are being misled about the presumptive Democratic nominee's true popularity." Let's just add to that the fact that there are dangers in handing out free beer that go beyond driving after. All in Germany who received free beer better have been at least 21-years of age (unless Barack's claiming a nationality other than US). Doubt it? In 2002, a US House Rep just knew he would be the new Minority Leader (the Dems were in the minority then). He could taste it. His base was different than Nancy Pelosi's and he didn't think she was all that. What deralied him? In 1992, he gave out free beer to 3 males -- two were 16 and one was 17. It was a campaign 'action.' (Suburbs had been blockwalked, consider this an after-party.) He was repeatedly warned that he needed to stop but, hey, he was in Congress, he'll do what he damn well wants. He did at approximately 4:00 p.m. The 'after-party' took place at his family's business on a busy, downtown corner. The 'after-party' took place in the parking lot. Photos were taken. For over ten years, he never gave it a second thought. Then he wanted to be Minority Leader. Funny how things can surface when you least expect it. Like photos of you and a bunch of male teenagers pulling back on long necks in broad daylight. (And that, by the way, is the real story on how Nancy Pelosi ended up Minority Leader -- now Speaker of the House. You won't find it in the New York Times or the Washington Post but that is how the only real competition was cleared from the field.)
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