Friday, August 22, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, the Shi'ite thugs want the Sunni ones gone, US war resister Robin Long is court-martialed and sentenced to 15 months imprisonment, there is no treaty ('agreement') between the US and Iraq yet, and more.
Starting with war resistance. US war resister Robin Long was extradited from Canada in July. He was turned over to US authorities at the border by Canadian authorities (that is not deportation) and has spent the last weeks at Fort Carson in Colorado. Utah's Daily Herald noted last night that Robin "plans to plead guilty Friday to a reduced charge of desertion, his lawyer said." The Detroit Free Press added: "He faces a dishonorable discharge as well as prison time." The Whig Standard explains that Robin's attorney James "Branum said Long has reached an agreement with prosecutors to plead guilty to desertion with intent to remain away permanently, a lesser charge than desertion with intent to shirk hazardous duty." Nick Kyonka (Toronto Star) quotes Branam explaining, "In exchange for him pleading guilty, they've agreed to (lower) the three-year maximum sentence that usually comes with those charges." Branum added, "I think they want to prosecute him for free-speech issues without actually charging him for them." Free Speech Radio News will have an audio report today (for those needing or requiring audio).
Karen, with Fort Carson Public Affairs Office, states Robin was sentenced to 15 months, reduced in Rank E1 and given a dishonorable discharge. Long has been held at the Criminal Justice Center in El Paso County while awaiting the court-martial. He will received credit for the time he has served ("about 40 days").
The Canadian government has announced that US war resister Jeremy Hinzman will be deported if he does not leave their country by September 23rd. Whether he would be deported or "deported" is an unanswered question. Actions are taking place to make the Stephen Harper government respect the will of the people and let Jeremy remain in Canada. Jeremy is being highly pro-active and has already taped a video, which you can find at the War Resisters Support Campaign, where he speaks directly to Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada:
Jeremy Hinzman: Hello, Mr. Harper. This is my family Nga, Liam and Meghan. We've been in Canada for the last four and a 1/2 years. I was a specialist in the 82nd Air borne division of the United States Army and served honorably in Afghanistan. In 2004, my family and I came to Canada because we would not participate in the Iraqi War, a war which Canada also refused to participate in because it was condemned by the international community. One of your predecessors, Pierre Trudeau, once said that Canada should be have from militarism and we took him at this word. On June 3, 2008, the Canadian Parliament passed a motion saying that United States war resisters should be able to remain in Canada. We're asking you to abide by this motion and allow us to stay in Canada. Thank you.
Title Card: On September 23rd, the Harper government plans to deport the Hinzman family back to the United States.
Title Card: Hinzman faces a court martial and up to 5 years in military prison for opposing the Iraq war and coming to Canada.
Title Card: War Resisters Support Campaign (Canada): www.resisters.ca
In addition, Independent Catholic News reports that demonstrations will take place in support of war resisters (10-hour vigil outside Canada House in Trafalgar Square) and "members of Pax Christi, the Oxford Catholic Worker and Fellowship of Reconciliation will join Voices in the Wilderness". The War Resisters Support Campaign announces:
September 13th is a pan-Canadian Day of Action to support U.S. Iraq war resisters and to demand that the Harper government immediately stop the deportations. Actions, demonstrations, and pickets will take place in cities and towns all across Canada. Click here to see a list of actions and to download materials.
If your city is not listed, consider organizing a local action for September 13th. Whether it is petitioning in your local farmer's market, picketing a Conservative MP's office or rallying at a federal building, we need to go all out to stop the deportation of resisters like Jeremy Hinzman and Corey Glass!
In addition they are coordinating screenings of Michelle Mason's documentary on war resisters Breaking Ranks for September 14th. Spencer Spratley (Center for Research on Globalization) publishes an open letter to Stephen Harper where he notes, "I feel that some of your polices are beginning to depart from deeply held traditional Canadian values. And you are transforming the face of Canada with the mandate of a minority Government. You also have a majority in the House of Commons who voted, on behalf of Canadians, to support the request made by American War resisters to remain in Canada. I believe you are turning your back on a majority of Canadians on an issue that is very important to us. That is not the sign of a democratic Prime Minister. Somehow Canada has always been a little bit different and we have always been proud of that. We don't want to be more like anyone else. . . . . Sir, in the name of decency, compassion, and a higher justice, I request you to allow American War resisters to remain in Canada as conscientious objectors. Please don't send them off to have their lives and families desroyed by an unjust war. Your decision to begin deporting American war resisters lacks decency and compassion. I strongly urge you to reconsider your position."
Courage to Resist alerts, "Supporters are calling on Hon. Diane Finley, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, to intervene. Phone 613.996.4974 or email firstname.lastname@example.org,"Iraq Veterans Against the War also encourages people to take action, "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: email@example.com."
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, Daniel Baker, 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).
In England, police are announcing that three suspects have been taken into custody for threats against Gordon Brown, the country's Prime Minister. Reuters explains that did not just happen and at least two of the three have been in custody since last week. The threat against Brown was in written form (Telegraph of London has posted it), from "the Leader of al-Qaeda in Britain, Shaykh Umar Rabie al-Khalaila" and demanded both "A complete withdrawal of the British troops from Afghanistan and Iraq" and "To free all Muslim captives from Belmarsh prison, and the foremost of them Shaykh Abu Qatada al-Filistini and Shaykh Abu Hamza al-Misri." The threat gave the deadline of "the last day of March 2008" and, yes, that has passed. "Threats" may be too strong of a word. If the demands weren't met (and they clearly weren't) the note promised to "target all the political leaders especially Tony Blair" former Prime Minister "and Gordon Brown, and we will also target all Embassies, Crusaders Centers and their Interest through out the country, with the help of Allah." 'Target'? Via protests? Via violence? The letter is not clear. Which may be why the BBC -- which is hyping the story to high-alarm-level -- tucks this at the end of their report, "Police have until Thursday to charge the men, release them or seek an extension to their custody." We'll go ahead and bring in presumed Republican candidate in the US, John McCain who, as Kat explained last night, had campaign headquarters in New Hampshire and Colorado evacauted yesterday as a result of 'strange' envelopes with at least one containing substance. CNN reports that the substance remains unknown ("tested positive for protein") but is "not dangerous." Mary Hudetza (AP) notes that there's a suspect "Sheriff's officials said the inmate suspected of sending the letter is Marc Harold Ramsey, 39, who has been incarcerated since September 2007 on investigation of felony menacing, harassment and second-degree assault on a peace officer. Ramsey may face federal felony charges for Thursday's incident, sheriff's officials said." Back to Iraq.
Today on NPR's News & Notes, Farai Chideya hosted a roundtable with Eric Deggan (St. Petersburg Times) and John Yearwood (Miami Herald) where they dealt with such non-news topics as the Olympics, political conventions (where the question was at least asked as to whether or not they were "legitimate news events") and "Just this morning US and Iraqi negotiators announced they've reached a deal to withdraw US troops from Iraq." No. There is no deal. At best there is draft. In the US, the treaty (which is what the SOFA actually is) needs Senate ratification -- and Republicans and Democrats in Congress made noises in April of bucking the White House if it attempted to bypass the Senate's Constitutional duties and powers. In Iraq, it will a draft would go through a number of processes including approval by the Parliament. Yearwood made a real ass of himself when Chideya stated that US combat troops would be out by 2011 and that the rest would be out by 2013. Yearwood: "I'm sure that this will be approved by the Parliament as soon as they come back from vacation and they get their act together." When will Yearwood get his act together? Deggan was equally foolish noting that there was talk that timetables were impossible (and "ill advised") "And here we've done it." No, idiot, nothing's been done. And if the two 'reporters' were less concerned with cheerleading Barack and more concerned with reality, they could have avoided making asses out of themselves. David Alexander and Wisam Mohammed (Reuters) explained: "A draft agreement between the United States and Iraq contains no fixed dates for U.S. forces to withdraw, but Iraq would like combat troops out by the end of 2011, government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said on Thursday." No deadlines. NPR needs to stop wasting the tax payer's dime with bad gas bagging that's so bad, it's downright embarrassing. No one, not the host, not either of the guests, grasped that it was a draft (and approval isn't a mere formality) nor did they grasp that there was not enough information on the draft for them to know what was in it. The New York Times front paged the nonsense today -- no facts, just a lot of tease conducted by Stephen Farrell. Also missing the boat are Paul Richter and Ned Parker (Los Angeles Times) who make a point to note that US Secretary of State Condi Rice "downplayed expectations that approval of an agreement was imminent" -- Condi was correct on that but the reporters had trouble grasping it. She's quoted stating, "We'll have agreement when we have agreement." Leila Fadel and Jonathan S. Landay (McClatchy Newspapers) explain what happens on the Iraq side, first stop the Executive Council and "If the council agrees to the draft, it will move to the Political Council for National Security before going to the Iraqi parliament, which must approve the agreement before the U.N. mandate expires."
Here is Gordon Johndroe, White House spokesperson, speaking today (in Crawford) about the draft, "Towards the end of July, after a secure video conference between President Bush and Prime Minister Maliki, we announced that, as part of any agreement with the Iraqis establishing our future bilateral releationship, would include aspirational time horizons -- goals for women Iraqi troops begin to take over more of the combat mission in various parts of Iraq, which allow for more US troops to come home. So any discussions that are ongoing, that we are having with the Iraqis right now, include these aspirational timelines, these goals for more troops to come home." Afterwards, asked if the talks were still "ongoing," Johndroe replied, "And ongoing and ongoing."
Real news was reported by a small number of reporters. One was Richard A. Oppel Jr. (New York Times) who explores the latest on the "Awakening" Council -- Sunni thugs lured by coin. The White House repeatedly credited the "Awakening" Council members with the small reduction in violence in Iraq. Appearing before Congress in April, US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker repeatedly hailed the "Awakening" as a reason for the reduction. Oppel reports that, "The Shiite-domination government in Iraq is driving out many leaders of Sunni citizen patrols, the groups of former insurgents who joined the American payroll and have been a major pillar in the decline in violence around the nation." Throughout the article, US voices will pop up objecting. Comments made by a Shi'ite general should alarm Americans who mistakenly believe the puppet is anything but a thug himself.
Of the "Awakening" members, Brig Nassir al-Hiti declares, "These people are like cancer and we must remove them"; while Gen Nassir declares the "Awakening" are "like a drug addict who quits only to take drugs again." There's no question that the "Awakening" members are thugs; there's also no question that Nouri has put thugs in place in the Interior Ministry, the police force and more. The only difference is one group of thugs is Sunni ("Awakening") and one group is Shi'ite. The US installed the Shi'ite thugs. Elections will take place (provincial elections) at some point. A great deal of what is taking place (the targeting and arrests of "Awakening" members) has to do with Nouri & company shoring up their own power base before going into those elections.
Leila Fadel (McClatchy Newspapers) quotes US Gen David Petraeus declaring of the "Awakeing" Councils (also known as Sawa and Sons of Iraq), "We're not going to walk away from them, and as I said, Prime Minister Maliki committed to taking care of them. I do think it is somewhat understandable that the government struggles to hire former insurgents for its security forces or for its ministerial positions... But this is how you end these kinds of conflicts. That's why they call it reconciliation. It's not done with one's friends, it's done with former enemies." Fadel also notes that a "senior Iraqi commander in Baghdad" who states of SOI, "We cannot stand them, and we detained many of them recently." The illegal war has not improved but you can be sure Bully Boy's worried about the little bump (provided by the "Awakening" Councils) that he had hoped to ease out (sneak out?) of office on and how it's fading. Reuters reporter Ali al-Mashhadani (see was noted in the July 31st snapshot) made news yesterday. Karin Laub (AP) reports that Ali al-Mashhadani has been released (finally) and that US Maj John C. Hall told the press the release came about "because he was deemed not to be a security threat."
It's Friday. Violence is rarely reported on. Reuters notes an aide of Moqtada al-Sadr was shot dead in Baghdad as was 1 other person, while "guards" were wounded in Samarra when an "Awakening" Council member opened fire on those he worked with, and there was a mortar attack on the Green Zone with at least one mortar making it inside "the heavily fortified Green Zone."
Turning to the US presidential race. The Democratic and Republican Parties have not declared nominees. John McCain is the presumed GOP nominee, Barack Obama is the presumed Democratic Party nominee. Beginning tonight (in most markets) both Bill Moyers Journal and Washington Week travel to Denver but not to cover Robin Long's court-martial. No to cover the same old and tease it out and tease it out. The DNC convention (barring a surprise shocker) is nothing but a pageant and shouldn't even be broadcast, let alone covered. It's garbage, it's trash and IT'S OLD AND OUT OF DATE. But let's all pretend there's something to be learned in Denver at a political convention. (And let's pretend like either show gave a damn when the Green Party had their convention last month.) (They didn't and they didn't provide coverage. So much for the 'diversity' of public television.) Bill Schneider (CNN) breaks down the basics: "Conventions are relics. They don't decide the nominees anymore . . . No one pays much attention to the party platforms except a few ideological activists. So why do we still have them? Two reasons: money and publicity." NOW on PBS uses its time more effectively by traveling to Africa to again examine health care. Book note: Independent journalist and artist David Bacon has his latest book published next month. September 1st, Beacon Press released Bacon's Illegal People: How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants which the publisher notes "explores the human side of globalization, exposing the many ways it uproots people in Latin American and Asia, driving them to migrate. At the same time, U.S. immigration policy makes the labor of those displaced people a crime in the United States. Illegal People explains why our national policy produces even more displacement, more migration, more immigration raids, and a more divided, polarized society." Community note, Marcia's post Friday night will contain strong language. Avoid her site until Monday unless 'work safe' is not an issue with you. (She'll post videos over the weekend so the post will not be on her front page Monday.)
Back to the US presidential race. Ralph's Daily Audio -- is independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader's audio commentary. Monday through Friday, the campaign provides audio commentary at that page. This is "Bob Herbert's World" from earlier in the week:
This is Ralph Nader. The New York Times columnist Bob Herbert has a problem.
He's written numerous columns complaining about presidential candidates and their campaigns ignoring serious policy issues. It's as if no one else is running for president in Bob Herbert's world other than Barack Obama and John McCain.
In a recent article that he wrote in the New York Times, he complains about how the two major candidates and their campaigns are ignoring the problems of the cities: the poverty, the transportaion problems, the lack of repair and expansion of public works and facilities, the crime. He complains that the mayors have been complaining that they have been abandoned by Washington, citing a recent gathering of city mayors that he attended.
In one of these gatherings he cites the mayor of Meridian, Mississippi, John Robert Smith saying that he believes the nation should devote the same level of commitment to developing a first-rate passenger rail system as was marshalled for the interstate highway system in the Eisenhower era. Well, the Nader-Gonzalez campaign has taken a strong stand for the expansion and modernization of passenger rail as a way to save energy, to reduce casualties on the highway and to provide more immediate evacuation of the cities in case of a calamity or a natural disaster.
But to Bob Herbert, the Nader Gonzalez campaign which supports almost one-for-one so many of the issues that he advances and champions doesn't exist. To him, the Nader-Gonzalez campaign or any progressive third party campaign doesn't exist in his column so I say to Bob Herbert, "At least level with your readers, Mr. Herbert, tell them that you think the two major parties, Republican and Democrat, own all the voters and there's no one else on the ballot. At least level with them."
This is Ralph Nader.
And (again from Ralph's Daily Audio) this is "Forestalling More of the Same:"
This is Ralph Nader. This year two and a half to three million Americans will lose their homes to foreclosures. Next year another two and a half to three million Americans will probably lose their homes. Instead of helping these Americans keep their homes, both the Democrats and the Republicans are bailing out Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the Wall St. banks and their high paid executives -- the same executives who got us into this mess by betting the house on sub-prime mortgages. I call this "Socialism for Spectators."
Senator McCain takes a hands-off approach to the mortgage meltdown. Senator Obama talks about helping the home owners but is surrounding himself with the culprits: Wall St. bankers. Obama's economic director? Robert Rubin protege Jason Furman.
Rubin was the Clintons' Treasury Secretary. He engineered the disastrous deregulation of Wall St. including the repeal of the Glass Steagall Act. This Depression-era law separated investment banks from commercial banking. Had it been in effect, the current mortgage crisis would have been limited.
Rubin went on to be an overpaid executive at Citigroup which he helped tank. Rubin is now advising Senator Obama.
Nader-Gonzalez would bring back Glass Steagall.
Nader-Gonzalez would re-instate the usury laws that cap interest rates and we would regulate Wall St. instead of bailing it out on the backs of American tax payers.
This would include forcing mortgage companies to re-negotiate the mortgages of millions of home owners who are currently faced with being thrown out onto the street as a result of foreclosure.
Instead of punishing the home owners, Nader-Gonzalez would bring justice to the predatory lenders on Wall St. who deceived them and who got us into this mess in the first place.
Cynthia McKinney is the Green Party presidential nominee. The Green Party of Michigan announces Cynthia will be campaigning in Michigan:
The Green Party of Michigan (GPMI; www.MIGreens.org) will
be hosting a press conference for Congresswoman McKinney at
7pm Saturday, August 30 at the International Institute (111
E. Kirby, Detroit). The press conference will be followed by
a rally with other GPMI Federal, state, and local candidates
at 7:30pm at the same location. The rally is open to the
public, and free.
The following evening -- Sunday, August 31 -- Congresswoman
McKinney will deliver a key policy speech on the elimination
of poverty at the National Welfare Rights Union (www.MWRO.org)
Awards Dinner. The dinner, starting at 6:30pm, will be held
at St. Paul of the Cross Retreat House, 23333 Schoolcraft,
On Monday, Labor Day, Congresswoman McKinney will be joining
thousands of union members in Detroit celebrating Labor Day by
marching down Woodward Avenue.
August 27th, while the DNC holds their corporate dog and pony show, Ralph Nader is staging a Super Rally in Denver. From Team Nader:
Next Wednesday, Denver is going to be rockin.
Thousands will be gathered at the University of Denver Magness arena to protest the corporate lockdown on the Presidential debates.
Sean Penn, Val Kilmer, Cindy Sheehan, Tom Morello, Jello Biafra and others will join Ralph Nader and Matt Gonzalez.
Demanding an end to the corporate control over the Presidential debates.
So, if there is any chance you can get to Denver Wednesday, you can make a donation to reserve your ticket here.
If you can't get to Denver, no problem.
Free Speech TV will be streaming the event live on the Internet. (Wednesday, August 27, 7 p.m. Mountain time, 9 p.m. Eastern.)
Just click here to watch.
Also, the Free Speech TV will be broadcasting the event live on Dish Network Channel 9415.
And many local public access channels will be carrying the Free Speech TV feed.
(If your public access channel doesn't carry it, call them and ask them to do so. Click here for a list of public access channels.)
Anyway, it's going to be an historic event -- protesting the corporate control over our politics -- in the midst of the corporate Democratic spectacle.
So, join us in Denver if you can.
If not, invite your friends over, and dial up the live Internet feed -- or watch on television via satellite or on your public access channel.
Onward to November.
independent catholic reporter
the new york times
richard a. oppel jr.
the los angeles times
jonathan s. landay