WHO: PFC Cliff Cornell, a native of Mountain Home, Arkansas, who was recently deported from Canada after having fled there to avoid the illegal war in Iraq
WHAT: The U.S. Army has prosecuted PFC Cornell under a General Court-Martial. A hearing will be held to accept PCF Cornell’s guilty plea and to argue over what the sentence should be.
WHEN: April 28, 2009, 2:15 p.m.
WHERE: Fort Stewart Courthouse, near Hinesville, GA
FOR MORE INFORMATION: Civilian attorney James M. Branum will be available for interviews following the trial by telephone at 405-476-5620 or 1-866-933-ARMY. (we anticipate this will be in the evening)
News about the ongoing campaign to free PFC Cornell from being unjustly imprisoned for his beliefs can be found soon at www.couragetoresist.org.
The court-martial takes place today.
Illustration by Kat, Betty's three kids and Wally, and used in Third's "Cliff Cornell faces court-martial on Tuesday" yesterday.
Saturday the US military announced: "TIKRIT, Iraq -- A Multi-National Division – North Soldier died from injuries sustained following an attack on a patrol in the Kirkuk Province of northern Iraq, April 25. The name of the deceased is being withheld pending notification of next of kin and release by the Department of Defense." The announcement brings to 4278 the number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war. This is the fourth death of a US service member announced this week and the 15th for the month thus far -- already putting April's death toll ahead of March's. The Department of Defense identified the fallen yesterday, "The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. Staff Sgt. Leroy O. Webster, 28, of Sioux Falls, S.D., died April 25 near Kirkuk, Iraq, after being shot while on a dismounted patrol. He was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas." Tim Gallagher (Sioux City Journal) reports:
Webster, the son of Don and Crystal Webster of Hartley, leaves behind wife Jessica, the former Jessica Rieck of Hartley, and their three young children. Jessica moved back to Hartley two months ago. The family had been living in Texas, where Leroy was stationed.
Hartley-Melvin-Sanborn High School instructor Jim Thomas said the news about Webster's death was shared Sunday morning during services at Hartley United Methodist Church.
"There was a lot of gasping, people were stunned," said Thomas, a high school teacher there for the past 16 years. "It hits a small community like ours hard."
William Petroski (Des Moines Register) adds, "Webster was a 1999 graduate of Hartley-Melvin-Sanborn High School, where he wrestled and played on the golf and baseball teams. He leaves behind a wife, Jessica, who was his high school sweetheart, and three young daughters, Natasha, Kaydence and Jadyn." Petroski also quotes the family's statement: "Leroy was a wonderful husband and a terric dad to his three beautiful daughters. He was proud to serve in the United States Army. He will forever be deeply missed by his family and friends." The Daily Globe also notes the family's statement. Ben Dunsmoor (KEOLAND.com -- link has text and video) speaks with Leroy Webster's high school teacher Ron Hengeveld who remembers Leroy and states of the death, "It happens in all small towns it seems like, you hear about it too often."
Friday the US military announced: "TIKRIT, Iraq -- A Multi-National Division - North Soldier died in a non-combat related incident in Salah ad Din province April 24. The name of the deceased is being withheld pending notification of next of kin and release by the Department of Defense. The incident is under investigation." Friday the Dept of Defense announced: "The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. CSM Benjamin Moore, Jr., 43, of Waycross, Ga., died Apr 24 at Contingency Operating Base Speicher, Iraq, of injuries sustained in a non-combat related incident. He was assigned to the 2d Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, 3d Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, Schofield Barracks, Hawaii. The circumstances surrounding the incident are under investigation." Teresa Stepzinski (Florida Times-Union) reports, "A 1983 Waycross High School graduate, Moore was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, Schofield Barracks, Hawaii." William Cole (Honolulu Advertiser) notes that Benjamin Moore had ten "sisters and five brothers" and quotes Teresa Brakes saying of her brother, "He's the glue that held the family together when we used to go through crises and sutff. He was the one that we went to and he would sit down and put it to us in a way we could understand, and just give us good advice. And the advice that he gave us, it was usually the right thing to do."
The New York Times has no story filed from Iraq. They ignore the Steven D. Green case. They have a poll which we may or may not cover in the snapshot. Ned Parker's "Iraq's Awakening: Two tales illustrate force's birth and slow death" (Los Angeles Times) apparently carries the heavy weight for all outlets:
The story of Abu Maarouf and Abu Azzam offers a rare window into the birth and slow death of the Sons of Iraq, the U.S.-backed corps of Sunni fighters who helped end the country's civil war.
Today, Abu Maarouf is on the run, hunted by the Iraqi army and the group Al Qaeda in Iraq. Afraid of midnight raids and ambushes, he sleeps some nights in irrigation ditches. Many say it's a miracle he's still alive.
His old cohort Abu Azzam spends his days inside the blast walls of the hermetic Green Zone in meetings with officials from Prime Minister Nouri Maliki's office.
The divergent fates of these two former Sunni insurgents highlight the major unknown about the intentions of Iraq's Shiite-led government: Is it reaching out to former Sunni insurgents such as Abu Azzam in the true spirit of "national reconciliation," or in hopes of splintering the movement?
And will the government's campaign against men such as Abu Maarouf succeed in snuffing out potential rivals? Or is it planting seeds for a long-term Sunni revolt?
The crackdown also points to a significant change in the U.S. forces' onetime policy of nurturing and protecting the Sons of Iraq. As the Iraqi government has arrested some of the movement's leaders, forced others into exile and failed to deliver jobs for rank-and-file fighters, the Americans have regularly deferred to Baghdad's wishes as they hand over responsibility for the country's security.
Mia notes Chris Hedges' "Obama Has Missed His Moment" (Information Clearing House):
Barack Obama has squandered his presidency. He had a fleeting moment to challenge the casino capitalism and financial recklessness of our economic and political elite. He could have orchestrated a state socialism that would have provided a safety net for tens of millions of Americans faced with dislocation and misery. The sums he has doled out to Wall Street could have been used to force companies to keep workers on the job or create new banks to open up credit. But he lacked the foresight and the courage to challenge entrenched power. And now we are headed down one of two frightening roads-massive deflation or hyperinflation. Neither will be pleasant.
Hyman Minsky-an economist largely ignored during his lifetime and now held up as something of a prophet-argued that speculative bubbles, and the financial collapses that follow them, are an inevitable consequence of unregulated capitalism. Minsky, an economics professor at Washington University in St. Louis who died in 1996, warned: "The normal functioning of our economy leads to financial trauma and crises, inflation, currency depreciations, unemployment and poverty in the middle of what could be virtually universal affluence-in short ... financially complex capitalism is inherently flawed." He called for socialized banking and stimulus packages to protect workers.
Our Minsky moment, however, has passed. Obama did not introduce radical measures to change our financial structures. And the outlook, even from Obama's chief financial advisers, is very gloomy. The U.S. economy will continue to contract "for some time to come," said Lawrence Summers, director of the White House National Economic Council. "I expect the economy will continue to decline," with "sharp declines in employment for quite some time this year," Summers said Sunday on "Fox News Sunday."
In the public e-mail account, a visitor asks if we can note libertarian columnist Steven McDuffie's "Barck Obama: The Mendacity of Hope, Pt. II" (Nolan Chart):
In 2008, then-Senator Obama was pushed to the forefront of the passel of potential Democratic nominees due in no small part to his apparent status as the peace candidate. During the presidential campaign, Obama constantly reminded supporters of his 16 month plan for withdrawal from Iraq--except when he claimed to have an eleven and a half month plan. I clearly recall warning my liberal friends and family members that they were very likely going to be sorely disappointed with Obama.
My pessimism about Obama wasn't based on some prophetic ability on my part, or even a pretty good guess. My first clue that Candidate Obama might be a wolf in sheep's clothing is when he received praise from arch-neocon Robert Kagan. Two years later, President Obama is still receiving praise from Kagan.Many of my friends on the left--fellow anti-war activists--voted for Obama because they thought he would "bring the troops home". I assured them that, in all likelihood, there would still be tens of thousands of US troops in Iraq come 2012, and indeed, Obama has since all but promised exactly that. Of course, this cannot be surprising when one considers that, though Obama argued against the Iraq War as a senatorial candidate, once elected he rejected all timetables for withdrawal and backed every bill to fund the war, never once casting a single vote that could legitimately be regarded as being in opposition to the war.
That's the opening. Use the link to read in full. And lastly, ETAN notes:
Groups Urge Meaningful Pressure on Jakarta for Papuan Rights
Contact: Ed McWilliams, WPAT, +1-575-648-2078
John M. Miller, ETAN, +1-718-596-7668
April 27 - Two U.S. organizations concerned about human rights in West Papua today urged the U.S. government "to apply meaningful pressure on the Indonesian government and its security forces... to address long-standing Papuan concerns and grievances."
The West Papua Advocacy Team (WPAT) and the East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN) called the new Obama administration's approach to West Papua "hardly fresh."
In testimony before Congress last week, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton called for supporting West Papua "in its efforts to have a degree of autonomy within Indonesia."
"Failure of the U.S. government to think seriously and act responsibly about West Papua, before Indonesia's July presidential elections, risks further deterioration of human rights and communal violence," said Ed McWilliams, a retired U.S. diplomat and spokesperson for WPAT.
"Papuans have repeatedly rejected 'Special Autonomy' and... have demanded instead an internationally-facilitated dialogue with the central government to address key issues, including demilitarization of West Papua, an end to intimidation, the release of political prisoners, and the right to self-determination," the groups said. The full statement is below.
The U.S. government and Congress should "apply meaningful pressure" for such a dialogue and for "an end to restrictions that prevent the international community from monitoring human rights developments and the welfare of Papuans in the region." Pressure should include conditioning "assistance to the Indonesian military, Brimob, Indonesia's intelligence agencies on real reform [of the security forces], human rights accountability and demonstrated respect for people of West Papua."
In recent weeks, their has been an escalation of both peaceful protest and violent conflict in West Papua, which Indonesia annexed in 1969. Since then Papuans have suffered massacres and other systematic human rights violations, environmental destruction, and marginalization in their own land.
Joint Statement by West Papua Advocacy Team (WPAT) and East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN) on U.S. Policy and West Papua
Appearing last week before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, for the first time as Secretary spoke directly about the human rights crisis in West Papua. While candidly acknowledging the "many human rights abuses" in West Papua, Secretary Clinton framed both its problems and their solutions essentially in the same way that the Bush Administration had: She emphasized that West Papua was part of a "sovereign Indonesia," and said West Papua needed support "in its efforts to have a degree of autonomy within Indonesia."
For nearly eight years the Indonesian government has pursued its "Special Autonomy" policy for West Papua. This was to have afforded long-denied fundamental rights to Papuans and ended decades of systematic human rights violations, environmental destruction and marginalization. Clearly, the Indonesian government has failed to implement this policy, instead continuing to rely on a security approach. Indonesia's military, militarized police (Brimob) and intelligence agencies continue to terrorize Papuans. These security forces violate fundamental human rights with impunity and collude with domestic and international corporations to deprive Papuans of their land. At the same time, the Indonesian government has drawn a curtain around West Papua preventing or limiting international monitoring of conditions there by journalists, international human rights officials, and others. Recently, it demanded the departure of International Committee of the Red Cross because its officials had met with Papuan political prisoners.
The Indonesian government continued denial of essential services health, education and employment, leaving the Papuans to suffer among the worst levels of poverty, mortality and education in Asia.
Papuans have repeatedly rejected "Special Autonomy" and -- in massive, peaceful popular demonstrations -- have demanded instead an internationally-facilitated dialogue with the central government to address key issues, including demilitarization of West Papua, an end to intimidation, the release of political prisoners, and the right to self-determination.
Unfortunately, the Obama Administration appears to ignore the reality of Papuans' suffering and the urgent need for fundamental change in West Papua. Secretary Clinton's call for a "degree of autonomy" for West Papua is hardly fresh or progressive thinking. Rather than resort to the failed Bush Administration approach of calling upon Jakarta to afford "a degree of autonomy," the crisis in West Papua calls for fresh approach and a genuine commitment to Papuans fundamental rights, including a right to self-determination.
A decade ago, the U.S. Government similarly failed to understand the dynamics of the deteriorating human rights environment in East Timor. During that crisis, the U.S. sought only to press the Indonesian military to take more seriously its responsibility to protect human rights in East Timor. Then (and now) the U.S. government failed to understand that the Indonesian military, (as well as Brimob and Indonesian intelligence agencies) bore ultimate responsibility for the death and destruction in surrounding the UN-organized referendum in 1999.
Instead of offering stale policy prescriptions, we urge the U.S. to apply meaningful pressure on the Indonesian government and its security forces to press for an internationally-facilitated, senior level dialogue between the Indonesian Government and Papuans, including Papuan civil society, to address long-standing Papuan concerns and grievances. The U.S. government should urge an end to restrictions that prevent the international community from monitoring human rights developments and the welfare of Papuans in the region. The U.S. government should also press for fundamental reform of the Indonesian security forces which continue to violate human rights, are unaccountable before Indonesia's flawed judicial system, and are not fully subordinate to civilian government control. The current administration and Congress should clearly condition assistance to the Indonesian military, Brimob, Indonesia's intelligence agencies on real reform, human rights accountability and demonstrated respect for people of West Papua.
John M. Miller Internet: firstname.lastname@example.org
East Timor & Indonesia Action Network
PO Box 21873, Brooklyn, NY 11202-1873 USA
Phone: (718)596-7668 Mobile: (917)690-4391
Skype: john.m.miller Web: http://www.etan.org
The e-mail address for this site is email@example.com.
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