Thursday, November 15, 2007

Canada's Supreme Court Denies Jeremy Hinzman and Brandon Hughey's appeal

CBC reports that the Supreme Court of Canada has refused to hear the appeals filed by war resisters Jeremy Hinzman and Brandon Hughey. The Canadian Press notes: "They fled to Canada and asked for refugee status, claiming they opposed the war in Iraq as illegal and immoral."

Canada's War Resisters Support Campaign has issued the following announcement:

In response to today's decision by the Supreme Court of Canada to not hear appeals from American Iraq-war resisters seeking refuge in Canada, the War Resisters Support Campaign will ramp up pressure for a political solution, calling for a provision from Parliament to allow resisters and their families to stay in Canada.
The War Resisters Support Campaign will hold a demonstration tonight at 5 p.m. at 330 University Avenue, Toronto to call on Parliament to do the right thing and allow resisters to stay in Canada.
Who: War Resisters Support Campaign and allies
What: Demonstration to ramp up pressure on Parliament
When: Thursday November 15 at 5 p.m.
Where: 330 University Avenue, Toronto (just north of Queen Street. W., on the west side)
"We call on Parliament to take a stand by enacting a provision that would allow US war resisters and their families to stay in Canada," said actor and activist Shirely Douglas. "The Supreme Court has handed the issue back to Parliament. It is urgent that Parliament demonstrate leadership and act in accordance with Canadian tradition. Do not let the principles that Canadians cherish slip away."
The Supreme Court decision by a panel of three judges prevents the full court from reviewing the decisions of the Immigration and Refugee Board regarding the refugee status of resisters Jeremy Hinzman and Brandon Hughey. The Immigration and Refugee Board had refused to grant them refugee status.
Resisters have already found widespread support among Canadians, including faith groups, unions, peace organizations and thousands of individuals and families who have extended a welcome. In a June 2007 poll by Strategic Communications, 64.6 per cent of respondents in Ontario think that resisters should be allowed to stay in Canada (margin of error +/- 4%, 19 times out of 20).
The War Resisters Support Campaign has been assisting US war resisters who come to Canada because of their opposition to the Iraq War since 2004.
For futher information: Lee Zaslofsky (416) 598-1222 and Michelle Robidoux (416) 856-5008

Today the US military announced: "A Multi-National Division -- North Soldier was killed as a result of an explosion while conducting operations in Diyala Province, Nov. 14. Four additional MND-N Soldiers were wounded in the blast and evacuated to a coalition hospital." ICCC's current total for the number of US service members killed in the illegal war is 3865. The announcement brings to 21 the number of US service members announced killed in the illegal war for the month thus far.

Turning to the New York Times. News appears on A10, Qais Mizher and Alissa J. Rubin's "Illness Strikes Disabled Children In Baghdad Home, Killing One" informs you that a child has died and twelve morem ages six to fifteen -- have been taken to the hospital in what may be part of the wave of cholera breaking out in Iraq or may be enteritis. An employee of the Labor and Social Affairs Ministry provides a quote provided her name is not used, "They will fire me if the high officials know that I talked about this situation. They want me only to speak about good news."

On A12, Alissa J. Rubin's "'08 Budget Is Baghdad's Biggest, if Only It Can Spend It" tells you that the Iraqi government has announced a $40 billion budget proposal sent to the Iraqi Parliament to cover the year 2008 -- Adel Abdul-Mehdi, Tariq al-Hashemi and others. Others? General Aboud Qanbar. He is "the military commander overseeing the security plan" who is there why? Well after Chalabi and Allawi, he is on the list of most frequently whispered to be Nouri al-Maliki's replacement. But considering the events in Pakistan, maybe it's not something to flaunt? And of course, what's a budget without Ryan C. Crocker? He's not just the US ambassador, he's also a whiz with an adding machine and calculator apparently. Prior to his Iraq appointment, he was the ambassador to Pakistan. Doesn't it all go round and round? Rubin covers the did-Turkey-bomb-or-not update nicely (that wasn't sarcasm) and notes the 4 deaths of US service members announced by the US military yesterday but a key point may be this:

The conference about the budget on Wednesday was well attended despite the explosion of a roadside bomb just outside the gates of the city's heavily protected Green Zone about 90 minutes before the session was to begin inside. The bomb killed two civilians, wounded three more and threw two police officers from their guard towers 150 feet away, the police said.
The explosion raised immediate questions about how such a device could have been planted in sucha closely watched area.

So was the attack a message re: the budget? A statement on it?

Thom Shanker's "U.S. Ponders War Message, And How Best to Deliver It" requires we use a term. Now we can't use many curse words here but we can use "dumb ass." Which is why it pops up so frequently (in response to an e-mail last night). Shanker's not the dumb ass, Ellen O. Tauscher is. She's also a War Hawk. Tauscher was among the Democratic members of Congress who found their positions on the illegal war distorted and smeared in handouts distributed prior to their photo-op trips to Iraq. War Hawk Ellie is fat and full, Shankar explains, because November 7th the Pentagon penned a letter saying it won't happen again. How stupid can you be? Tauscher demonstrates the answer is "very, very." What should be an investigation into the abuses and how they happened instead gets swept under the rug.

Four paragraphs of an AP article run on A12 about the topic that should be a front page story today (by the paper) but isn't, Howard Krongard. (See Cedric's "Brother? I got a brother?," Wally's "THIS JUST IN! AN INSPECTOR WHO DOESN'T KNOW HIS BROTHER?" and this site's "Does he know he has a mother?" from yesterday). From David Wood's "Brother's role forces exit of Blackwater investigator" (Baltimore Sun) this morning:

Howard Krongard, the embattled State Department inspector general who is accused of blocking investigations into security contractor Blackwater Worldwide, abruptly recused himself from all Blackwater inquiries yesterday after a congressional panel confronted him with evidence that his brother is serving on a company advisory board.
The spreading Blackwater scandal involves allegations that its armed security guards, under contract to the State Department to guard diplomats in Iraq, killed at least 17 Iraqi civilians in Baghdad in September. The results of an FBI investigation, which reportedly found that the Blackwater guards acted rashly and without obvious provocation, are under review at the State Department.
Krongard's elder brother, A.B. "Buzzy" Krongard, was chief executive of Alex. Brown & Sons in Baltimore before serving in the No. 3 position at the CIA.
Testifying under oath before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee yesterday, Howard Krongard at first denied as an "ugly rumor" that his brother had any financial interest or position with Blackwater. "I specifically asked him," Krongard insisted.
But Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, a Baltimore Democrat, produced a letter from Blackwater chairman Erik Prince asking "Buzzy" Krongard to serve on the firm's advisory board.
When Howard Krongard disputed it, Cummings went on, producing an e-mail sent from Blackwater to his brother, dated Sept. 5, that said, "Welcome and thank you for accepting the invitation to be a member of the board."

Yes, "Buzzy" is part of Blackwater and his brother Howard was appointed the Inspector General at the State Department. From Warren P. Strobel's "Embattled State Dept. official quits Blackwater probe over brother's role" (McClatchy Newspapers):

The revelation dismayed even Krongard's Republican defenders on the committee, who'd attempted to portray the probe by chairman Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., as partisan score-settling.
Your brother "has done you tremendous damage," said Rep. Christopher Shays, R-Conn. "I would be one pretty unhappy guy."
[. . . ]
Current and former top investigators in Howard Krongard's office have alleged that Krongard blocked a criminal probe into allegations of weapons smuggling by Blackwater employees, as well as several investigations into fraud and corruption in the construction of the U.S. Embassy complex in Baghdad."

The majority staff of the US House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform (majority staff would be Democrats) have produced [PDF format warning] "Report on Allegations Regarding State Department Inspector General Howard Krongard." The report details multiple abuses including the growing concerns of human trafficking in Iraq in 2006 which resulted in debates about how to proceed to verify the claims until Krongard issued an e-mailing stating ("in effect") "cease and desist all work. I'm taking care of this." Taking care of this meant a brief dash through of Iraq where Krongard made brief time to speak with "six employees who had been pre-selected by First Kuwaiti. No translators were provided; the only interviewees made available spoke some English. No reports of interviews were drafted. The only documentation of the investigation consisted of handwritten notes by Mr. Krongard, none of which identified the witnesses by name and two of which did not even decribe them by nationality or position." When Ronald Militana began looking into allegations regarding Blackwater "smuggling arms into Iraq," his superior (John DeDona) notified Krongard of the progress thus far and received an e-mail reply from Krongard: "Please do not treat anything in the email below as having been seen by me, advised to me, or understood or approved by me. If there is something significant in the message below, please come and tell me about it." In other words, Krongard wanted no paper trail -- physical or eletronic. He's not fit to hold any office with "Inspector General" in the title.

These are not things that just popped up. Krongard also alleged to have tipped of Kenneth Tomlison that there was an ongoing probe into his abuse of office (using tax payer dollars in non-job-related ways). Now it turns out that the person with "Inspector General" in his title -- who has repeatedly tossed road blocks and prevented investigations into Blackwater -- is claiming he wasn't aware of his own brother's relationship with the mercenary company.

CNN reports 6 dead and seventeen injured in a car bombing in northern Iraq.

Rachel notes this announcement from WBAI:

WBAI is honored to present the "Nina Simone Activist Performance Award" to "Sweet Honey in the Rock" on Tuesday, November 27, 2007, 6:00 PM, at the Schomburg Center For Research in Black Culture, in Harlem USA.
Dr. Nina Simone, "The High Priestess of Soul", was unrivaled in her legendary status as one of the greatest songstress, storytellers of all times. A child prodigy at age of four, her repertoire grew to include jazz, gospel and spirituals, classical music, folk, blues, opera, African chants and her own masterpieces. "Mississippi G**damn" and "Four Women" were among her most well known compositions reflecting racial oppression during the civil rights movement.
Following in her tradition, and founded by Bernice Johnson Reagon in 1973 at the D.C. Black Repertory Theater Company, "Sweet Honey In The Rock" is an extraordinary African-American female a cappella, vocal group that has been a vital and innovative presence in the music culture in communities of conscience around the world.
Tickets are
$50 through Pay Pal. For more information call (212) 209-2800 or (212) 209-2910.

Note, we've edited the title of an excellent song by Simone, not WBAI. Those two words together could effect several members viewing the sites at work in religious organizations. When Kat used it in a review last year (referring to that same song -- click here for the review), we heard about it. So the fact that it's in a title (or that it's an amazing song) doesn't change that we can't use the term here. (To clarify, that is the only time the term was used and we thought -- Kat and I both -- "It's a song title, a classic song. It's not going to create a problem for anyone." We were wrong.) Simone spoke out against the illegal war on Vietnam, Sweet Honey in the Rock speaks out against the illegal war on Iraq. Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) did a two-parter on the group in May of 2003 -- here for part one, here for part two.

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