Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Jeremy Hinzman, Robin Long, Joshua Key

Long and Key have much in common. Both joined the U.S. Army looking to better their lives; both deserted their posts and fled to Canada; both sought refugee status.
But Long, currently in custody at Fort Carlson military base in Colorado, is the first U.S. conscientious objector to be sent back from Canada, while Key sits at home in Saskatchewan, awaiting a new hearing on his claim for refugee status.
"It didn't sit right in my stomach," Long told the Boise Weekly in May 2006, about going to Iraq. "I morally couldn't do it."
Long, 25, fled to Canada in June 2005 after being ordered to Iraq earlier that year. He told the media and Canada's Federal Court that despite joining the Army at age 19 and planning on a career in the military, he decided, based on conversations with soldiers returning from Iraq, that "when these people came back and were telling these horrific stories and our superiors were egging people on, some people were actually volunteering to go over there and it just seemed like justified homicide. It didn't seem right to me."
Long argued that if Canada returned him to the United States, he would be subjected to cruel and unusual punishment and be denied justice.

The above is from Peter Kavanagh's "No Refuge from Iraq in Canada" (In These Times) which we noted in yesterday's snapshot and hopefully will note in another snapshot but if times run out, we noted it in another entry. Also covering war resistance is John Mackay in "Canada to deport another Iraq war resister to the US" (World Socialist Web Site) about Jeremy Hinzman:

Hinzman was handed a deportation order after a Citizenship and Immigration officer decided his application, filed under the pre-removal risk assessment program, didn’t qualify. The program evaluates the risk a claimant will face if he or she is sent back to the country of origin. Hinzman's final appeal of the rejection of his application for refugee status had previously been denied.
It was deemed that the US had a fair justice system and Hinzman's First Amendment right to free speech was protected. Citizenship and Immigration also judged that President Bush's "no child left behind" program assured that his son would be able to get a good education.
Upon returning to the US, Hinzman will likely be detained and face court martial and a similar fate to that of Robin Long, which could include a five-year prison term for desertion. While his attorneys plan to appeal the deportation order, Hinzman is not hopeful. In an interview with the "Democracy Now" program, Hinzman said, "This turns our lives upside down."

To show your support, War Resisters Support Campaign offers a number of actions:

ACT NOW! Tell Stephen Harper: don't deport Hinzman family!

U.S. Iraq War resister Jeremy Hinzman and his wife and two children have been ordered to leave Canada by September 23rd.

In spite of Hinzman’s four and a half years living, working and raising a family in Canada, the Harper government plans to deport him to the United States where he will likely face a court martial and a potential military jail sentence and felony conviction. This flies in the face of democracy and the will of Canadians: Parliament passed a motion in support of war resisters June 3rd, 82% of Canadians oppose the Iraq war (Strategic Counsel poll), and 64% of Canadians support war resisters (Angus Reid poll).

IN TORONTO: Attend the Emergency Meeting to Stop the Deportation of Jeremy Hinzman and his family, Wednesday August 20th at 7 p.m. at the Steelworkers Hall, 25 Cecil Street
– Read the War Resisters Support Campaign press release and circulate it widely
– Tell Immigration Minister Diane Finley to use her power to stop deportation of war resisters and allow them to stay in Canada. Tell Prime Minister Stephen Harper to Let the War Resisters Stay!

The Right Hon. Stephen Harper
Phone: (613) 992-4211
E-mail: pm@pm.gc.ca

The Hon. Diane Finley
Ottawa office: (613) 954-1064
Simcoe office: (519) 426-3400
Dunnville Office: (905) 701-1881
E-mail: finley.d@parl.gc.ca / finled1@parl.gc.ca / Minister@cic.gc.ca

Make these points when you contact them –
- respect Parliament and implement the June 3rd motion in support of war resisters staying in Canada
- 82% of Canadians oppose the Iraq war
- 64% of Canadians in an Angus Reid national poll want war resisters to stay in Canada
- Jeremy Hinzman and his family have lived and worked here for over 4 years and made a real contribution; they should not be deported because they oppose the Iraq war.


September 13th is a pan-Canadian Day of Action to support war resisters and to demand that the Harper government stop the deportations. Actions, demonstrations, and pickets will take place in cities and towns all across Canada.

Organize a local action for September 13th. Let the War Resisters Support Campaign know what you are planning.
Phone: (416) 598-1222
E-mail: resisters@sympatico.ca

War resisters Robert Weiss and Daniel Baker are noted in Susannah Tarbush's "New film focuses on US soldiers whose consciences have turned them against war" (Saudi Gazette) about the new documentary The Path of Most Resistance:

Daniel Baker joined the US Navy in 2004, but soon after being deployed in Qatar as a communications officer in 2006 he made a successful application for CO status. He now works for the Catholic Peace Fellowship, one of the organizations that advise CO applicants.
In contrast, soldier Robert Weiss's application for CO status was turned down in December 2007. He said: "I feel that at this point I have no legal avenue for pursuing recognition of my beliefs, so therefore I have no choice but to leave the military rather than do something I feel is immoral." On December 22 he was due to fly back to Iraq, but saw no alternative but to go absent without leave (AWOL) for 30 days, the minimum time necessary to be classified as a deserter. He would then turn himself in and face the inevitable court martial and imprisonment.
During his period of being AWOL, he was given refuge by a family with pacifist sympathies. In February he turned himself in, and on May 13 was court martialled. He is serving a seven-month sentence in a military prison in Mannheim, Germany.
[. . .]
In the process of applying for CO status, applicants have to identify the moment of the "crystallization" of conscience. A member of a CO support organization says: "For many it is when they're pointing a weapon at someone and seeing the person, or being confronted with taking the lives of very innocent people"
When Daniel Baker joined the Navy, he saw it as "a chance to make something out of myself -- a chance to really succeed in life and have an honorable profession to help those in need."
But his career did not provide the hoped-for sense of meaning and purpose in his life. He started to look at philosophy and stumbled across the writings of Buddhist philosopher Thich Nhat Hanh. "This was my first introduction to the theory and practice of non-violence."
A main point of "crystallization" came when he was flying at 300 feet over the Gulf on a reconnaissance mission tracking an Iranian submarine. "I heard over the radio set an Iranian voice saying 'Coalition aircraft, maintain five nautical miles' and as we kept making passes over this submarine the voice got more and more nervous."
Baker realized that "this man, human being, in the submarine, Iranian or not, was just a human being like me who's my brother." This was to be his final mission: before his next mission Baker told his instructor that he was a CO.
Weiss describes the circumstances that at the age of 16 led him to enlist. "I had nowhere to live, I had no money, I don't have a car, I don’t have a driver’s license, so really the only possibility I had for having a place to live and a means to get by would be to join the military."
After he joined up, his sister's boyfriend was stabbed to death at a New Year's Eve party. "That was a huge turning point in my life, because it really made me think I am not guaranteed another day. I thought that if I did die right now I would have to stand before God and it wouldn't be good enough for me to say, well hey I had fun, I got drunk, I went to the strip club." He started taking religion seriously and brought God back into his life.

Meanwhile Courage to Resist interviews war resister Tim Richard who has gone to Canada and they interview Skylar James. James is a Class of 2007 War Resister -- translation, like most in her class, she was largely ignored by the US press.

Ruffin Prevost (originally for the Billings Gazette) covers the November suicide of Sgt. Steven D. Lopez. Turning to the US presidential race and starting with Cynthia McKinney. First, she has upcoming appearances this week (tomorrow and Thursday):

Wednesday, August 20th McKinney will make 3 stops in Memphis. That evening she will be in Jackson, Tennessee for a fundraiser hosted by the Madison County Green Party.
Thursday, August 21st McKinney's first stop is in Dickson to meet with representatives of the community who have been affected by the dumping of toxic waste in their community. Then to Nashville for an 11:00 AM Press Conference in Room 31, Legislative Plaza speaking to the press about her campaign. This event is open to the public. Following the press conference Ms McKinney will speak directly to the public and take questions. This will also be in Legislative Plaza, Room 31.
That morning Greens will turn in their nominating petitions to secure her position on the general election ballot in Tennessee. "Due to Tennessee's oppressive election access laws Ms McKinney will be listed on the ballot as an independent candidate which we can achieve with 275 valid signatures. It would take over 45,000 valid signatures to get her listed with the "Green" affiliation. The Green Party is currently a litigant against the state seeking ballot access laws that are fair", said John Miglietta a delegate to the Green Party of the US and a Green Candidate for US House District 5.
Following the Press Conference she is scheduled to visit Tennessee State University, Fisk University and Carver Food Park where Sizwe Herring of EarthMatters Tennessee teaches children and community members about the value of composting and principles of ecology.

On the presidential issue, I haven't said who I'm voting for and don't intend to. (I've said who I am not voting for: Barack or John McCain.)***SEE NOTE AT END*** The community voted and the community is behind Ralph Nader. We're mainly including Cynthia's appearance today because the Green Party's website doesn't. That should be THE LARGEST HEADLINE EVERY WEEK. Cynthia is their nominee and they should be getting the word out. Instead, they're still stuck in July (their convention). The first thing anyone coming to a political party website needs to see (especially a third-party) is any events that week with the candidate.

Yesterday's snapshot noted Steven Argue's "DNC Protest, Split, and the Principled Stand of Cynthia McKinney" (Dissident Voice) on McKinney and I said we'd note McKinney's comments in full today so here they are:

Open Letter from Cynthia McKinney

As the United States activated Navy ships and the Air Force to begin an airlift of non-specified goods into the former Soviet state of Georgia, and military exercises began in the Persian Gulf near Iran, I received communications from certain individuals among the Colorado Greens who were organizing campaign support events there, suggesting that I not participate in an anti-war program being organized by other individuals in Colorado.

Perplexed, I began to do my research to understand the nature of the fissure that I seemed to be placing myself in the middle of. The communications to me about not participating in one of the scheduled events became more and more shrill. The events ran through August 26th. When the lineup of speakers, including Rosa and me, was announced for the events in question, I received multiple communications stating in various ways that the sender from the Green Party of Colorado, was on the verge of desperation over the latter.

Within a few hours, I was reading messages stating that the Green Party of Colorado would be ruined if I participated in the End the Occupations/End the War march and rally slated to take place on the morning of August 24th on the steps of the Colorado State Capitol, or if Rosa participated in a Freedom March and Rally for Human Rights and Political Prisoners at Civic Center Park the following day.

An article appeared in a local Colorado newspaper stating that Rosa and I would not appear at the events for which we had been scheduled. Rosa responded to our Colorado Green Party contact that yes, indeed, we were appearing at the two events. Both Rosa and I then received messages demanding to know by a time certain what our plans were, and asserting that the Green Party of Colorado would be totally ruined if we associated with the group sponsoring the events. In addition, we were told that at least one resignation and sustaining membership would be tendered to the Party, and that Rosa and I could expect no support on the ground in Denver from the Green Party of Colorado, including a planned fundraiser and a place to stay.

Without receiving any additional response or information from either Rosa or I, the correspondent sent a message informing us that all Green Party of Colorado events previously scheduled for us had been canceled. Further, the message stated that ballot access petitioning by Green Party of Colorado would cease in neighboring Wyoming and that all efforts would be made to remove Rosa’s and my names from the ballot in Colorado. The message also noted that the Colorado delegation overwhelmingly supported Elaine Brown at the Green Party Convention.

With the e-mail messages flying “fast and furious,” I hope I have mentioned the highlights of this episode in somewhat chronological order. What Rosa and I would like to address now, is the ideological and rational order that produced this outcome. At the very first Green Party debate held in San Francisco earlier this year, I pleaded for unity of action and purpose as we face the challenges that confront us as a country. Rosa and I are proud to join with others who are sick and tired of war, occupation, human rights abuses, and the continued incarceration of our political prisoners. We are proud to join with others who are willing to do something about it. In the context of activities in Denver, that means cooperating with some organizations new to us and others with which Rosa and I have had a long-standing relationship. Let me explain some of those relationships.

I am proud to have received a Backbone Award from the Backbone Campaign, one of the co-participants of the anti-war, anti-occupation events in question, according to the organizers.

Rosa and I are pleased to have received the endorsement of M-1 of Dead Prez, who put out a video of endorsement and is rallying other conscious Hip Hop, Generation X voters to the Green Party with Rosa and I as its nominees. Rebel Diaz was on the stage with Rosa as she accepted her Green Party nomination for Vice President. Both Dead Prez and Rebel Diaz are participating in the events in question, according to the organizers.

Fred Hampton, Jr.’s mother, a victim of COINTELPRO, came to Georgia in the mid-1990s to help me gain reelection after a malicious redistricting case that went all the way up to the Supreme Court. Ward Churchill has traveled to my Congressional district to educate my former constituents on the COINTELPRO of yesterday and the COINTELPRO of today. Natsu Saito introduced me to other victims of COINTELPRO. I asked Kathleen Cleaver to co-author a report that was submitted to Mary Robinson, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights at the time of the World Conference Against Racism, on the unsolved murders of Black Panther Party members who were victims of COINTELPRO. Fred Hampton, Jr., Ward Churchill, Natsu Saito, and Kathleen Cleaver are all participating in the events in question, according to the organizers.

As a Member of Congress, I supported the release of all political prisoners and welcomed information from the American Indian Movement about Leonard Peltier. I have at many times in my political career been allied with the ACLU, and have always supported Pam and Ramona Africa and the MOVE Organization. The American Indian Movement of Colorado, King Downing of the ACLU, and Pam and Ramona Africa of MOVE are all participating in the events in question, according to the organizers.

Mumia Abu Jamal has endorsed the Power to the People Campaign and my Green Party candidacy. According to the organizers, Mumia will transmit a message to all of us participating in the events in question.

Finally, I have appeared on various stages with many Palestinians; I have proudly spoken at rallies organized by Larry Holmes. Debra Sweet with World Can’t Wait was among the very first to my knowledge to organize around impeachment as an imperative and I support hers and all other impeachment groups in their efforts. And finally, I have known Ben Manski for a long time as a socially conscious activist who is also a member of the Green Party. According to the organizers, a Palestinian refugee is slated to speak at the events in question, as well as Larry Holmes, Debra Sweet, and Ben Manski.

Rosa and I have not been given any rational, ideological, or strategically-acceptable reason by the Green Party of Colorado to dissociate ourselves from the movement that this country so desperately needs and that these individuals and organizations participating represent, as we all attempt to hold the Democratic Party accountable for its complicity in all of the crimes of the Bush Administration. Therefore Rosa and I will keep our appointments in Denver and we hope that the members of the Green Party of Colorado will attend our sessions and listen to what we have to say. I have faith that by taking principled stands against war and occupation, human rights abuse, the prison-industrial complex, and in support of freedom for political prisoners, the Green party will emerge stronger.

Cynthia McKinney
Green Party Nominee for President of the United States

Rosa Clemente
Green Party Nominee for Vice President of the United States

Turning to independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader. Christopher Keating's "Nader To Make New York As 31st State On Ballot" notes:

Nader's supporters will deliver the petitions to the New York State Board of Elections in Albany on Tuesday and will hold a press conference to announce the submission. Also on Tuesday, another group of supporters will submit petitions in Washington, D.C. - pushing the overall ballot access to 31 states and D.C.

After running for President every four years since 1996, Nader is one of the nation's best-known figures. But his runningmate, Matt Gonzalez, is little known on the national stage. A graduate of Columbia University and Stanford Law School, Gonzalez is the former president of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and is currently a partner in a seven-attorney firm in San Francisco.

31 out of the planned 45 states. The campaign continues meeting its ballot access goals. Billie notes this from Team Nader:

Batman, Huey Long and the Anti-Pelosi


Batman, Huey Long and the Anti-Pelosi .

We are in a sprint to the finish line.

That would be November 4.

And we're not about to let up.

But for the first time since we started this campaign, we are in danger of not meeting one of our financial goals.

We set a goal of $50,000 by tomorrow night 11:59 p.m.

As of now, we are just under $30,000.

So, we need to ramp it up.

Big time.

And now.

We need 2,000 of you -- our loyal supporters -- to drop $10 each.

That simple.

So hit that there contribute button.

And drop a ten spot on Nader/Gonzalez.

Time to get it done.

By the way, did you hear some of the big names that are coming to our Super Rallies in Denver and Minneapolis?

Not just our own caped crusader.

But also --


Huey Long?

The Anti-Pelosi?

Stay tuned.

Here's one person who will be there for sure.

Ashley Sanders.

Ashley who?

Ashley Sanders.

Ashley gave one of the most eloquent and thought provoking endorsements of the Nader/Gonzalez candidacy this year.

Check out Ashley here -- introducing Ralph in Utah last month.

But first things first.

Let's not miss this deadline.

Kick it in so we can push it over the top.

Onward to November.

The Nader Team

PS: If you donate $100 or more by tomorrow night, we will send you the best argument yet made for single payer Medicare for all health insurance -- the DVD Sicko. Plus, we’ll send Awake from Your Slumber -- the DVD starring Ralph Nader and Patti Smith -- autographed by Ralph.



And from Ralph's Daily Audio this is "The Bloated Defense Budget:"

This is Ralph Nader. Remember reading or hearing the farewell address of President Dwight Eisenhower? 1960, when he warned Americans about what he called "the military industrial complex"? Well, just a few words about where we are in the military budget.
It's now 1/2 of the entire federal government's operating expenditures. It's way over $700 billion and that's not counting the money for helping our veterans. Both Obama and McCain want to increase the military budget. The Government Accountability Office yearly describes the gigantic Pentagon contracting budget unauditable.
Just imagine, half of what the federal government spends in operating expenditures can't even be audited.
For example, people inside the Defense Department think that the F-22 should never have been contract for, built wasn't necessary. The Osprey helicopter -- defective, killed quite a few marines in test flights, shouldn't have been built in their judgment. Hundreds of billions of dollars are in the pipeline for weapons systems that were designed for the Soviet Union-era of hostility. They no longer have any strategic value and many of them are redundant.
We've got to cut the waste out of the huge military budget and put that money back into repairing America's public works and cities, towns and rural areas all over the country. If we cut out the expenditures of keeping our soldiers out of Japan and Western Europe -- 60-plus years after WWII -- a portion of that money could give free education to all students in public universities in the United States. Think about it.
Think about who stands for a lean defense -- not a wasteful defense; who stands for respecting your tax payer dollar and returning it to you to improve the public facilities, schools and clinics, libraries, drinking water systems, sewage stream and plant upgrades among some of the deferred maintenance that's reducing the facilities that are necessary for a thriving community.


****NOTE**** Jim adding this to C.I.'s piece above. The point of that comment, already resulting in e-mails (I'm working the public account) is to make clear, The Common Ills will cover Ralph. It is not C.I.'s job to cover all campaigns. This isn't a campaign site. My guess is C.I. will promote Cynthia's two days of events in the snapshot because the Green Party isn't. But the point is, "This isn't McKinney central. Don't come here for that and don't swamp the public account with your e-mails asking for this and that. The community voted on Ralph." (I did vote in that poll. As far as I know, Ava and C.I. were the only ones who did not in the community. Check with Gina and Krista though because it was their poll.) C.I. would be covering Nader regardless and that was noted all the way back in 2004. (One reason TCI was the site Jess and I could both agree on!) But the focus is Iraq. Those notes are to make clear, "Don't expect me to start providing where Cynthia's going, what she's doing, who's covering her, etc." There's not enough time. Ralph was going to get a fair shake regardless. The fact that the community (back in April) voted to support him (some, like me, were supporting Hillary and made Ralph our choice if the nomination was stolen) means he gets noticed even more. But there's not time to do Iraq and Ralph and everything else.

The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com.