Thursday, August 14, 2008

Iraq snapshot

Thursday, August 14, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, US war resister Jeremy Hinzman mounts an appeal, a president learns stay away from all those fatty foods or face heart surgery, the Ralph Nader campaign gears up for this month's Nader Super Rally by opening their Denver headquarters today, and more.
Starting with war resistance.  Yesterday, US war resister Jeremy Hinzman was informed that he and his family must leave Canada by September 23rd.  He and his wife Nga Nguyen went with their son Liam to Canada and Jeremy became the first US war resister in Canada to publicly seek safe harbor.  July 21st Jeremy and Nga added daughter Meghan to their family.  Ian Austen contributes a paragraph for today's New York Times.  The Los Angeles Times also reduces it to World Briefing. Utah's Daily Herald includes it in briefings as does Tulsa World. Radio Netherlands files a brief as well. All Headline News joins the brief squad while BBC teases out a brief with padding but Canwest News Services settles for a briefMichael Futch (Fayetteville Observer) speaks with Jeremy who explains, "I don't regret what we've done.  I've had the opportunity to speak out against the war.  No offense to the soldiers over there -- I have respect for them as soldiers -- but it was a bogus war based on false pretenses . . . and I'm happy to have not taken part in it."  Don Jorgensen (South Dakota's KELOLAND TV) notes that Jeremy is "a graduate from Rapid City Stevens High School" in South Dakota and that Jeremy told the KEOLAND News that he expects if he is forced out of Canada he will be sentenced to prison. Sindh Today quotes him stating, "We're disappointed. Life goes on and we'll make the most of it wherever we end up."  Brett Clarkson (Edmonton Sun) quotes Jeremy stating, "Iraq was an unjust war based on false pretences, and every soldier who refused to fight probably saved a lot of lives."  Hinzman was outside the Canada Border Services Agency in Toronto and Jessica McDiarmid (Canadian Press) continues, "The 29-year-old was stoic as he walked out, holding the glass door open for his son Liam, 6, and his wife Nga Nguyen, who cradled a newborn daughter in her arms."  CBC notes, "Federal NDP citizenship and immigration critic Olivia Chow, who put forward the June motion, called Wednesday's decision "mean-spirited," and called on Citizenship and Immigration Minister Diane Finley to halt the deportation of Hinzman and other war resisters immediately."  The War Resisters Support Campaign's Dale Landry ("himself a deserter of the U.S. Air Force") tells Liam Lahey (Inside Toronto), "We're going to try everything we can do legally to keep him in the country.  If Jeremy is sent back, his wife is left as a single mom raising two small children and that's not an easy thing to do while he's in jail for God knows how long."  Meghan is a Canadian citizen and before the Canadian government moves further, they might want to check their own policies regarding the parents of Canadian citizens.
Reuters reports Alyssa Manning (Jeremy's attorney) is filing "a new appeal in Canada's Federal Court" and arguing that the ruling/order "did not take into account the effect on his family if he ended up in prison".  Iraq Veterans Against the War issued this statement:
US Iraq War resister Jeremy Hinzman was informed on August 13th that his application to stay in Canada has been rejected. Jeremy served a tour in Afghanistan in a non-combat role after applying for conscientious objector status. When his unit, the 82nd Airborne Division, was to be deployed to Iraq Jeremy and his family decided to come to Canada. Jeremy is the first U.S. war resister to apply for refuge in Canada. He has been ordered to be deported by September 23rd. Jeremy is in Canada with his wife Nga Nuyen, and their two young children.
The decision to deport Hinzman comes just two months after the Canadian Parliament passed a motion calling on the government to allow US war resisters to apply for Permanent Resident status in Canada.  
To support Jeremy, call or email Hon. Diane Finley, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, and ask her to intervene in this case. Phone: 613.996.4974 email:
Jeremy Hinzman and other war resisters in Canada need support and 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 -- that's "finley.d" at "") and Stephen Harper (Prime Minister, 613.992.4211, phone; 613.941.6900, fax; e-mail -- that's "pm" at ""). 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. Long expulsion does not change the need for action and the War Resisters Support Campaign explains: "The War Resisters Support Campaign is calling on supporters across Canada to urgently continue to put pressure on the minority conservative government to immediately cease deportation proceedings against other US war resisters and to respect the will of Canadians and their elected representatives by implementing the motion adopted by Parliament on June 3rd. Please see the take action page for what you can do."
There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Yovany Rivero, William Shearer, Michael Thurman, 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).
Moving on to Iraq and file it under "No surprise."  October 21, 2007 we noted: "In today's New York Times, Andrew E. Kramer tells you that Iraq's president, Jalal Talabani, is upset with Syria for publicly endorsing the Turkish parliament's vote to approve the Turkish military being sent into Iraq to fight the PKK. 'Usually I refrain from commening on Syrian positions to maintain our historical good relations,' Talabani (who stuffed his face with fatty foods` on his recent trip to the US to visit the Mayo Clinic, just FYI -- the heart trouble is not going to be cured by pigging out in hotel rooms)."  Talabani's face stuffing (of fatty foods) never made the press but it's all anyone could talk about.  It should have made the news. We returned to that topic over and over.  (And he reportedly visited a book store on that trip and staggered, nearly passing out.  It took the support of several men for him to make out of the bookstore.) June 16th we were 'harping again' (as one drive-by e-mailed) with: "Meanwhile AP notes that the president of Iraq, Jalal Talabani, is in the US and will receive treatment at the Mayo Clinic. A brief mention is made of the fact that this is not his first visit or that moments after leaving last time, he was spotted gorging on fatty foods in public. (And 'gorging' is putting it mildly.) He's 73-years-old and really can eat whatever he wants -- if he steps down as president. But while he's president (or 'president') of an occupied country, there's really no point in treating him if he's going to completely ignore doctors' orders and it's not as if the average Iraqi is going to be flown to the Mayo Clinic."  Deborah Haynes (Times of London) reports that the Iraqi president is "said to be in 'good health' today after undergoing heart surgery in the United States, an operation that left some Iraqis wondering whether he is still fit for the job."  Peter Graff (Reuters) points out that, prior to today, the press was told he was in the US for "a knee operation."  CBS and AP state: "A statement by the presidential press office said Talabani entered the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota on Aug. 2 for knee surgery but 'the medical team found out that he suffers from a problem in one of the heart valves'."  That's a sweet way to put "We thought we could lie but Reuters found out the truth, broke the story and now we have to admit to the heart surgery."  "I think he's too old to continue as President," Fadel Dawish tells Deborah Haynes in Baghdad while "Nassar al-Rubaie, a senior Shia politician, said the medical reports from the hospital would determine whether the heart operation would affect Mr Talabani's ability to work." 
In Iraq today, religous pilgrims were among those targeted repeadly.  The Shabaniyah festival has repeatedly been plagued with violenct attacks on pilgirms each year (since the illegal war started).  The festival is honoring the birth of Mohammed al-Mahdi who was the twelth iman and also the last Shi'ite to be an imam -- one who is predicted to come back to the world and bring peace with him.  AFP explains, "Tens of thousands of Shiites are expected to flock to Karbala to venerate Imam Mahdi, an eighth century imam who vanished as a boy and whom Shiites believe will return to bring justice to the world."  Peter Graff (Reuters) adds that the Shi'ite pilgrimages and festivals "have become an annual ritual show of strength for Iraq's Shi'ite majority since the fall of Saddam Hussein, a Sunni Arab who restricted some Shi'ite religious practices." In the attack with the largest number of known deaths, CBS and AP report that a bomber (apparently female) in Iskandariya took her own life as well as the lives of "at least 26 people and wounding dozens" in "the deadliest in a series of attacks" on the pilgrims.  The Telegraph of London quotes eye witness Ahmed al-Saadi explaining, "I heard a big explosion.  I turned my head back and saw big flames.  We rushed to the site and saw charred bodies, while wounded people were crying for help. Pots and burnt prayer rugs were scattered all the place."  Tina Susman (Los Angeles Times) observes, "So far this year, there have been about 30 female suicide bombing attacks, according to the U.S. military. Last year, there were just seven."
In other reported violence today . . .
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing claimed the life of 1 police officer (and five pilgrims were wounded), another claimed the life of 1 pilgrim (seven more wounded), a Diyala Province roadside bombing claimed the life of 1 8-year-old girl and left her sister and mother wounded and a Baquba roadside bombing claimed the lives of 2 police officers (and left three more wounded).  Reuters notes "five employees of Baiji oil refinery" were injured in a Baiji roadside bombing.
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 1 police officer shot dead in Mosul.  Reuters drops back to yesterday today and notes a Mosul home invasion in which 1 man was killed and his son was injured.

Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 1 corpse discovered in Baghdad. Reuters notes that the corpse "of a murder policeman" was discovered in Kirkuk.
Meanwhile Peter Graff (Reuters) reports that six sailors who served at Camp Bucca in Iraq are now looking at a court-martial "for abusing detainees" and that the court-martials are expected to commence "within the next 30 days."
Turning to the US presidential race.  As they prepare to rock Denver, the Ralph Nader - Matt Gonzalez campaign opened up their Denver headquarters today.  The office is located in Suite 111 on 1155 Sherman Street, a tree-lined street whose intersection with East 12th Avenue makes it very accessible becuase East 12th is a bus route.  The office is wheel chair accessible.  Jess spoke with Junue Millan this afternoon about the opening and the news confernce which was attended by at least five media people including Univision.  The office was "specifically created" for the Super Rally that will be held in Denver (at the Magness Arena) on August 27th. They are expecting between 5,000 and 7,000 people to attend and are currently working on a website just for the Denver office.
The Denver event will take place as the Democratic Party stages there convention and  there is a great deal of excitement for the Super Rally and volunteers are needed to help with fliers and getting the word out.  Those interested in assisting can e-mail Junue Millan at as well as call the office (303) 832-2509 or walk in.  They intend to be open from nine in the morning until nine in the evening Monday through Friday as they work to pull together this large project.  Both Ralph and Matt will be speaking at the event and, as the event gets closer, they will begin announcing some of the guest speakers they've already confirmed.  Artist, activist and rocker Jello Biafra is among those who will be participating.
The Super Rally in Denver (September 4th, a Nader Super Rally will be held at Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis, during the GOP convention) will start at seven o'clock p.m and will PUT ON THE TABLE the issues that the two major parties refuse to address -- the Iraq War, single-payer universal health care, corporate crime, impeachment and more.  It will also challenge the two-party duopoly by insisting that the presidential debates be opened.  As Kat noted last night, " I really find it offensive that Ralph Nader, Bob Barr and Cynthia McKinney (or Chuck Baldwin for that matter) have to fight to get into the debates. They are presidential candidates and should be in the debates. What are the Democrats and Republicans so scared of? Are their candidates so weak that they can't hold their own against Ralph, Bob, Cynthia and Chuck? Do John McCain and Barack Obama get the night sweats just thinking about being on stage with the other candidates? In a real democracy, debates would be open to all on the ballots. This nonsense that you have to meet X% would be called out. It's not a popularity contest. It's supposed to be a race for the presidency."
Yesterday, Ralph was a guest on NPR's Talk of the Nation.  Below is some of the exchange:
Neal Conan: Back in February Ralph Nader announced that he was running for president as an independent candidate.  The longtime consumer advocate's third consecutive run for the White House.  If you'd like to talk with him about his campaign, why he's running, our phone number is 800-989-8255, e-mail again is and, of course, political junkie Ken Rudin is with us, he's NPR's political editor and you can read his political junkie column at  And, Ralph Nader, nice to have you with us on the program today.  Why are you running for president, remind us?
Ralph Nader: This campaign stands for a whole number of changes and redirections that are supported by a majority of the American people.  We're the only ones who are standing for full Medicare for all, for  a living wage, for cutting the bloated, wasteful military budgets full of so much contracting fraud that's offending tax payers.  We want to cut down tax payer coherced subsidies to corporations, you know  the hand outs giveaways bailouts of crooked Wall Street firms.  We want to open up the presidential debates.  Why are we rationing debates?  We don't ration weather reports, do we?
Neil Conan: No.
Ralph Nader: Or entertainment or sports.  And we want to shift the tax burden more to things that society likes the least or dislikes the most like security derivative speculation  pollution, gambling, addictive industries before you first tax human labor.  And we want to crack down on corporate crime, fraud and abuse.  And, you know, public radio's reported that -- repeatedly stealing people's pensions, ripping off their savings, their mutal funds -- all of this has been reported  and the major party candidates, McCain and Obama, are taking these issues off the table.  They don't have a corporate crime crackdown, law and order, against these crooks.  They don't have a decent tax reform.  They don't want to open up the presidential debates.  They don't want full Medicare for all which even a majority of doctors want in a recent poll and a majority of the American people giving you free choice of doctor and hospital cutting out a lot of wasteful bureacratic expenses.  And they really don't have a plan to get out of Iraq and they want to expand the Afghanistan War. So we really have a very broad agenda for people to sink their teeth in and say, "What's left for us to decide as the people?  Is there anything left for us to decide as these corporations have hijacked our government and control about every department and agency?"  That's what we're saying to the American people: If you don't take it over, if you don't win your government back, if you don't vote for people you believe in who have a record of  accomplishment and a good platform which you can see on, what's left for you to decide?  I mean, these two parties don't represent you in area after area.  Their drum is beaten by the big corporations. 
Neal Conan: Could we have some time for callers to ask some questions?  800-898-255 e-mails us and let's see if we can get a caller on the line.  Let's go to, this is line 6, Peter, Peter with us from Pennelton, is that right, in Oregon?  Pendleton, it must be. 
Peter: Hello?
Neil Conan: Yes go ahead.
Peter: Hi.
Neil Conan: Go you're on the air.
Peter: Mr. Nader?
Ralph Nader: Yes.
Peter: Hi.  In 2004, I voted for John Kerry and I actually have regretted it ever since. And I really wish that I had written your name in. Of course, I don't believe that you were on the ballot in Oregon.  But --
Ralph Nader: The Democrats pushed us off.
Peter: I'm sorry?
Ralph Nader: The Democrats pushed us off state ballots with frivilous litigation, partisan judges.  You're right, we weren't on the ballot even though we got a lot of signatures, more than necessary.
Peter: It was pretty dirty.  But this year, it seems just so easy to just get behind Barack Obama but, at the same time, there are people like me who are pretty liberal and see you as a more progressive candidate.  What is one way that Barack Obama could become more progressive?
Ralph Nader: Well, he could be the  Barack Obama, who knows what the score is rather than having  antenna out for political advantage.  He would reflect what he believes, what he said privately believes we should have full Medicare for all, he prefers the single-payer system.  He certainly knows about the exploitation -- commercial and otherwise --  of the lower 100 million Americans on the income scale but he doesn't associate himself with any comprehensive reform plan there. He's taking actually more corporate interest money than John McCain as of June 30 of this year.  And he wants to have a bigger military budget.  His plan for getting out of Iraq  according to his military adviser would leave 50,000 soldiers, American soldiers, there with all  these bases.  That's not really getting out of Iraq. I think he's making a strategic mistake that Mondale, Dukakis, Kerry and others have made by moving toward the Republican position on area after area, by not drawing a bright line between the two as these issues I mentioned earlier he's going to lose votes, he's not going to gain votes.
Neil Conan: And let me ask you, Senator Obama, of course, the Democratic nominee this time around, you're on the ballot in 35 states is the Democratic Party this year continuing to work to keep you off the ballots elsewhere?
Ralph Nader: No, not so far.  We're going to be on about 45 state ballots.  We sued the Democratic Party last November for their abusive legal process  in violating our civil rights in '04 -- places like Pennsylvania.  And, in answer to your question, what's keeping them from doing what they did in '04 is the state Attorney General of Pennsylvania has brought indictments against 12 Democrats, two state legislatures and 10 legislative aides for using government money, government space, government resources to get us off the ballot in 2004 in Pennsylvania and they also gave them a $188,000 tay payer bonus and this is criminal stuff.  So I don't think they're going to do it again this year.
Team Nader is releasing daily audio of Ralph Nader (with Matt Gonzalez expected to participate as well).  Ralph's Daily Audio  is the web page and we noted "Open the Debates!" in yesterday's snapshot.  Below is the transcript to Ralph's "Corporate Tax Cheats:"
A report just out by the well regarded US Government Accountability Office concludes that about two-thirds of corporations operating in the United States did not pay taxes annually from 1998 to 2005.  Imagine that.  Senator Byron Dorgan, the Democrat of North Dakota, called the findings "A shocking indictment of the current tax system."
He continues, "It's shameful that so many corporations make big profits and pay nothing to support our country.  The tax system that allows this whole sale tax avoidance is an embarrassment and unfair to hard working Americans who pay their  fair share of taxes.  We need to plug these tax loopholes and put these corporations back on the tax rolls."
Senator Carl Levin says, "This report makes clear that too many corporations are using tax trickery to send their profits overseas and to avoid paying their fare share in the United States."
The GAO report said that 28% of large corporations paid no taxes during that period between 1998 to 2005.  It's suspected that a lot of these global corporations were using transfer pricing to reduce their tax bills.  This allows these multi-national corporations to transfer their goods and assets between their internal subsidiaries so they can record in the jurisdiction with low tax rates like the Bahamas.
David Cay Johnston, in his great book Perfectly Legal concluded, and I paraphrase him, he said, "These global companies have now reached a point of power and manipulation where they can decide how much taxes they're going to pay, where they're going to pay these taxes, and when they're going to pay these taxes."
That's the leading tax reporter for the New York Times, a Pulitzer Prize winner, David Cay Johnston.  It's something to think about when we ponder the double standard between working people on the one hand under our tax system and those tax escapees the global corporations on the other.  This is Ralph Nader.  
That was released today.  Yesterday's was Ralph's "Outsourcing" and it appears below: 
This is Ralph Nader.  You know how often these big corporate executives, when they're shipping jobs of American workers to fascist or communist dictators abroad who know how to keep their workers in their place .  Do you know how often they say "Well we have to do this to keep up with the global competition"? But one thing they don't do to keep up with the global competition is to outsource themselves, outsource their own CEO jobs or their own faluting commentators and editors jobs. 
Let's start with the New York Times editorial page.  It would be hard to replace Maureen Dowd, no doubt.  But Thomas Friedman?   He of the rah-rah, pro-corporate, globalization, cheesy metaphors?  Well he could easily be replaced by a hard working Indian or Chinese bi-lingual columnist at a much lower rate.  And how about Wall Street?  All those investment bank executives, the executives of Citigroup or Merrill Lynch.  Imagine how many first rate Indian or Chinese executives could have done a much better job than Bob Rubin who helped drive the giant Citibank into the ground.  I'm sure good executives from India or China could replace Rick Wagoner as CEO of General Motors at a much, much lower salary.  That's the way to meet the global competition: Outsouce  CEOS. 
"What's good for the worker," says the CEO, "is not good for the CEO."  The shareholders know better thye've got to demand outsourcing CEOS for a new fresh. energetic start for the management of their country.  I'm Ralph Nader.
At Dissident Voice, Ron Jacobs has another must-read, this one explaining when 'withdrawal' isn't really withdrawal. (I'm out of time, we'll quote Ron tonight in "I Hate The War.")  Robert Fisk (Independent of London) also dares to tell the truth about the 'withdrawal' Barack and Iraqi puppets are trying to sell.  And, community note, last night Rebecca offered "breakfast club," Ruth went with "Betrayed," Kat offered "Pretty in Pink and Reckless," Marcia explored "Outrageous Fortune," Elaine examined "Broadway Danny Rose" and Mike went with "Die Hard and Baby Boom." Cedric's "The battered syndrome is what Bambi works" and Wally's "THIS JUST IN! BARACK SPITS ON WOMEN AGAIN!" covered the latest disgusting insult to women from Team Obama. And if you missed Betty's "Testing out The Obama Playbook" and Trina's "Garlic Pasta in the Kitchen" over the weekend, please check them out.