Friday, August 01, 2008

Iraq snapshot

Friday, August 1, 2008.  Chaos and violence continue, Nouri al-Maliki makes like Pretty Woman on Rodeo Drive, Ralph Nader continues taking his campaign to the people, Kirkuk sees increased tension, and more.
Starting with war resistance, Jan Slakov (BCLocalNews) proposed ways to prepare for peace this week and the second step was: "Welcome war resisters: Former U.S. President John F. Kennedy once said: 'War will exist until that distant day when the CO [conscientious objector] enjoys the same reputation and prestige that the warrior does today.'  A majority of Canadian MPs understand this, and voted on June 3 to allow U.S. soldiers who object to the 'war on terror' on conscientious grounds to stay in Canada.  However, the Conservative government is ignoring the will of these deserters to be deported to face punishment in the U.S." The Conservative government and conservative shills like Rondi Adamson who offers a string of lies in the Christian Science Monitor.  In fact, Rondi's piece should be titled "No Lie Left Untold."  Rondi admits Canada took in "draft dodgers" during Vietnam but forgets to note they also took in deserters.  Rondi forgets to note the popular (or Parliament) support in Canada for war resisters.  From the July 1st snapshot: "The Angus Reid Poll finds: 'A majority of Canadians would agree with the decision to let American military deserters stay in Canada as permanent residents, a new Angus Reid Strategies survey reveals. . . In the online survey of a representative national sample, three-in-five Canadians (64%) say they would agree to give these U.S. soldiers the opportunity to remain in Canada as permanent residents. Quebec (70%) houses the highest proportion of respondents who agree with the motion, while Alberta (52%) has the fewest supporters. A gender breakdown reveals that while both males and females would agree to let U.S. military deserters remain in Canada, females are much more sympathetic (69% versus 57%)'."  And Rondi is apparently confessing that Canadians spat on US soldiers during Vietnam.  That LIE has long been disproven in the US but apparently, Rondi wants us to believe it happened in Canada.
War resisters in Canada need your help. 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).
Turning to Iraq where puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki sits on a ton of money and spends it when he feels like on what he wants.  Edmond Lococo and Gopal Ratnam (Bloomberg News) report, "Iraq is seeking to buy $10.9 billion in weapons and services from U.S. defense contractors including General Dynamics Corp,, Boeing Co., Textron Inc. and Raytheon Co. to 'establish security and stablity' throughout the country."  It's been a busy week for the puppet -- a regular spending spree.  The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency started the week with the announcement that they "notified Congress of a possible Foreign Military Sale to Iraq of Armored Security Vehicles as well as associated equipment and services.  The total value, if all options are exercised, could be as high as $206 milliion."  Wednesday included "The Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress of a possible Foreign Military Sale to Iraq of Light Armored Vehicles as well as associated equipment and services.  The total value, if all options are exercised, could be as high as $3 billion" and "The Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress of a possible Foreign Military Sale to Iraq of technical assistance for construction of facilities and infrastructure as well as associated equipment and services.  The total value, if all options are exercised, could be as high as $1.6 billiion" and "The Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress of a possible Foreign Military Sale to Iraq of Helicopters and related munitions as well as associated equipment and services.  The total value, if all options are exercised, could be as high as $2.4 billion."  Thursday brought this announcement, "The Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress of a possible Foreign Military Sale to Iraq of M1A1 and Upgrade to M1A1M Abrams Tanks as well as associated equipment and services.  The total value, if all options are exercised, could be as high as $2.16 billion."
This spending spree takes place as Selcan Hacaoglu (AP) reports on sewage treatment plant in Bahgdad that ("nearly three years later") is still nothing but a shell: "Raw sewage is still flowing freely through giant pipes into the Tigris River, ending up in some of the capital's drinking water. And those pipes are hardly the only source of contamination. Many residents only have to sniff the tap water to know something is not right. . . . Two-thirds of the raw sewage produced in the capital flows untreated into rivers and waterways, Stuart Bowen, special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, said in his quarterly report released Wednesday."
Tensions continue to flare over Kirkuk.  The October provincial elections are thought to be pushed back (at least) over the efforts in the Parliament to include aspects (force through) to do with Kirkuk.  That led to a mass walk out of Kurdish Parliamentarians last month.  A special session will be held Sunday to attempt to address the issue of provincial elections.  Now Kurdish leaders in Kirkuk (an ethnically diverse, oil-rich city that the Kurdish region wants to absorb) are stating that it will become part of Kurdistan. DPA notes that the demand came on Friday as did an attempted assassination via bombing of Kirkuk's police chief Jamal Taher. KHalid al-Ansary (Reuters) notes that the puppet government is Baghdad is insisting on calm and order.  Not only is that not working, neighbors are noticing.  Alsumaria reports, "Kirkuk issue takes the upper hand in Iraq's politics while Turkey has showed interest in the issue after Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki received a phone call from Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan who expressed his concern over Kurds demand to join Kirkuk to Kurdistan."
Meanwhile Sabrina Tavernise and Steven Lee Myers (New York Times) reported this morning, "The American military disclosed on Thursday that soldiers had killed three unarmed people during an operation northwest of Samarra on Wednesday, and injured a fourth.  Ali Salih Jubarah, a spokesman for Salahuddin Province, the region where the killings occurred, said that Dahia Hussein and her two sons, Ali Jassim and Muhammad Jassim, all civilians, were killed during a raid on a house.  He identified the injured person as Ms. Hussein's daughter, Sabeiha Jassim."
 In some of today's reported violence . . .
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad car bombing that claimed 1 life and left two people wounded and a Kirkuk roadside bombing that claimed the lives of 3 Iraqi soldiers and left a fourth wounded.  AP reports, "Two suicide bombers detonated their explosive vests Friday wounding three Iraqi soldiers north of Baghdad during a raid".
Reuters notes an armed clash in Dhuluiya that claimed 4 lives.
Reuters notes 1 corpse discovered in Kut.
Turning to the US presidential race.  "He's a lot more optimistic than me, I can tell you," Jurgen Vsych explains of Ralph Nader to Jan Baughman (Swans Commentary). "That's one thing that we used to fight about, because I'm, I wouldn't say pound-for-pound I'm a total pessimist, but I am pretty pessimistic about a lot of things in the economy and the political successes, he has lots of success stories to tell, although I don't know, I guess because a lot of his work has been undone, systematically undone by dergulation, so how he keeps his spirits up I don't know -- I really don't."  Jurgen Vsych is a filmmaker (including Ralph Nader Crashes The Two Parties) and check out the website she's creating entitled Nader Tube & Ralph Nader Radio.  Jugen Vsych has also written the book What Was Ralph Nader Thinking? which Baughman reviews here.   Speaking at the Dominican University in February of last year, a man complained,  "But we all know you don't have a snow ball's chance in hell of getting elected."  Ralph replied, to the hearty approval of those present, "How about in heaven?" 
"Are you a sports fan?  Do you know any sports player who gives up?" Lisa Riley Roche (Desert News) quotes Ralph Nader saying at a news conference in Salt Lake City this morning.  Nader was in Utah capitol on a campaign stop that began Thursday evening when he spoke at the University of Utah.  Introducing him, former Salt Lake City mayor Rocky Anderson explained, "This whole nation needs to be turned around.  We're not going to do it with the Democrats saying, 'We'll get around to it someday'." Speaking to the crowd of over 400, Ralph Nader wondered, "Do you realize there is no discernible breaking point for the American people?  We're headed for a cliff . . . where's the breaking point?"  He added, "If none of us have breaking points, none of us have a moral compass."  Robert Gehrke (Salt Lake Tribune) reports that "Nader filed paperwork putting himself on the ballot in Utah" this morning and quotes Ralph stating, "This country is not owned by the two major parties.  They don't own the voters.  There is not even the word 'party' in the Constitution.  There isn't even the word 'corporation' in the Constitution, and yet these two institutions have run our country into the ground and are tearing the heart and soul out of America."  Salt Lake City's KSL reported on the press conference this morning (link has video as well as a text article written by Richard Piatt):
Tonya Papanikolas: Independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader is officially a candidate here in Utah. 
Scott Haws: Yeah, he's trying to get the word out with a limited budget and minimal support but at a news conference this morning, he was not afraid to take on the big guys.  Richard Piatt was there and joins us with more.  Rich?
Richard Piatt: Well, as you know Scott, Ralph Nader has been taking on the big guys for forty years now, starting with General Motors in the 1960s, you'll recall he successfully got a car called the Corvair pulled off the market. These days, in his seventies, he is just as entergetic.  And he's diligent about running for president this time again.  Nader registered as an official presidential candidate in Utah at the lieutenant governor's office this morning.  He called his rivials John McCain and Barack Obama "corporate candidates."  He appeared with former Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson at a news conference this morning.  Nader says the average American tax payer is not being served by the status quo.  Unfair tax policies, inadequate health care options and gridlock in Congress are among the problems he sees.  He says voters need a more diverse campaign.  But he points out that he is being excluded from most of the major presidential debates, furthering what he calls a "corporate candidate quagmire."
Ralph Nader: The two parties have spoiled our elections.  They've spoiled our government.  They've spoiled our political system.  And they've turned our government over to  big businness that's about the worst constitutional crime you can imagine.
Richard Piatt: Nader has been labeled a spoiler in the past, depriving other candidates, like John Kerry, of votes by defusing the support.  But according to a Dan Jones poll in May here in Utah, Nader barely registers in Utah this year.  The poll showed Nader with only 2 percent of the 604 statewide voters at that time in May.  Even so, he refuses to see himself as a spoiler or even a bad candidate.  Instead, he says he's the only candidate who . . .  is a real alternative.  Nader is scheduled to appear next in Davis, Calif., on Saturday for a rally with his running mate Matt Gonzalez. Back to you.
The Nader-Gonzalez '08 campaign (Matt Gonzalez is Ralph's running mate) has been keeping a very busy schedule and some of the upcoming events include:
Sat. August 2nd, 8:00pm
Nader for President 2008 Rally w/ Matt Gonzalez
Davis, CA
Varsity Theater
616 Second St., Davis, CA 95616
Contributions $10/ $5 student
(530) 554-8250 or
Map it 

Sun. August 3rd, 1:30pm 
Nader for President 2008 Rally w/ Matt Gonzalez   
Sebastopol, CA
Sebastopol Community Center
390 Morris St., Sebastopol, CA 95472
Contribution $10/$5 student  
(415) 897-6989 or     
Map it 

Sun Aug. 3rd, 4:30pm
Ralph Nader Book Signing and Speech w/ Matt Gonzalez
Healdsburg, CA
Copperfield's books
104 Matheson St., Healdsburg, CA 95448
(707) 235-1026 or
Map it 

Sun Aug. 3rd, 7:30pm
Nader for President 2008 Rally w/ Matt Gonzalez
Kentfield, CA (Marin)
College of Marin- Olney Hall
835 College Ave., Kentfield, CA
Contribution $10/$5 students
(415) 897-6989 or
Map it 
We'll return to the topic of Nader shortly but expanding the focus to other contenders includes noting a surprise failure to stick to the attack plan on John McCain by the Democratic Party.  Last week David Brancaccio (NOW on PBS) interviewed former Democratic presidential hopeful (and 2004 Democratic vice-presidential candidate) John Edwards.  From the exchange:
BRANCACCIO: Have you had occasion to talk to the candidates left standing about your poverty proposals?

EDWARDS: Yes, yes I have. Well, before I got out of the race, I talked to Obama and Clinton at the time about some very specific things, which for now I'll keep private. But I got very specific commitments from them about making poverty central to their campaign, making it central to their presidency. And some very specific substantive ideas behind that. I've also spoken to McCain. It's a little harder with him.

BRANCACCIO: But you've talked to McCain about these poverty issues.

EDWARDS: I have I have. I know John McCain very well. Served with him. Traveled around the world with him. It's a little tough because I'm supporting his opponent in the presidential race and doing it vigorously. (some laughs) But having said that, while he doesn't agree with a lot of the policy issues that I'm behind, he's been receptive to the concept that this is something we have to do something about.
John McCain is the presumed GOP presidential nominee.  McCain is currently in the news for his refusal to allow Barack to play the race card.  Before we get to that, McCain spoke this week in Nevada and Susan (Random Thoughts) attended and has posted video of the event at her site.  This week, Barack was speaking on his favorite topic . . . himself.  As usual Vanity Sux couldn't shut up about how great he thinks he is.  As usual he tried to link McCain to the current White House occupant because, when you have no record to run on, you use the same desperate tactics that the illegal war was sold on (false links).  So Barack declared that McCain and Bully Boy were going to say of Barack (because Barack wants the WHOLE WORLD talking about him), "he doesn't look like all those other presidents on the dollars bills." First off, Barack IS NOT PRESIDENT.  "HE DOESN'T LOOK LIKE ALL THOSE OTHER PRESIDENTS ON THE DOLLAR BILLS"?  Barack, you ARE NOT president. Joseph (Cannonfire) explains, "McCain never said anything about Obama's patriotism or his name, and he certainly never said anything about race. Yet the Obots actually have defended this rhetoric. They applaud their candidate for running against a hallucinated line of attack."  Marcia weighed in, "Barack has played the race card non-stop throughout his run.  As an African-American, I know what the bi-racial blunder's doing, he's trying to egg up support from the African-American community. He's trying to turn us into his street team. His 'okey doke' and all of that other bull was an attempt back in the primaries.  It is the only card he has left to play and it's not going to play in a general election."  Silly Barack declared today, "There was nobody there who thought at all that I was trying to inject race in this" because, apparently, none of our presidents have had two ears, two eyes, one mouth and one nose.  Is that what Barack's trying to say?  Or was he trying to draw attention -- yet again -- to his 'divine' figure?  is he running to become the bulimic president?  Barack's Cult has trouble with facts so that probably sailed over them.  Yesterday Martha and Rebecca both called out the factually challenged Barack groupie at VIBE.
Tonight (in most markets) on PBS, Bill Moyers Journal continues exploring Capitol Crime with an increased focus on the Abramoff Congressional-lobbyist scandals.  NOW on PBS  examines the case of Ted Stevens, US Senator from Alaska now under indictment. And on Washington Week, Gwen and the gas bags chews up this week's factoids and the scenery. Guest stars include: Time's Karen Tumulty and National Journal's James Barnes.
Good morning.
Here's something you can do right now.
Because we're celebrating.
For two reasons.
Number one reason to celebrate: CNN poll from two days ago---Ralph Nader at six percent.
After being totally blocked out from the mainstream media for months.
(This is the fourth major poll putting us at five percent and above. Remember, John Anderson and Ross Perot both got into Presidential debates because they met the then League of Women Voters' threshold of five percent in a number of polls.)
And that's quite remarkable.
Six percent.
With little to no national news coverage.
Number two reason to celebrate: In 2004, we were on only 34 state ballots.
Now, in 2008, thanks to your help, we're heading toward 45 states.
For example, in 2004, we were not on in Illinois, Pennsylvania, Hawaii, Arizona, and Massachusetts.
But we will be on these states in 2008.
Today, for example, we will turn in more than 53,000 signatures in Pennsylvania. (25,000 valid required.)
So, yes, we are moving on up.
We'll take the six percent in the polls.
And we'd gladly take six percent national coverage from the mainstream media -- to match our most recent poll number.
But no.
To the mainstream corporate media, we're untouchable.
Because we represent what the majority of Americans want?
Because we favor single payer health insurance?
And Obama and McCain oppose it?
Because we would quickly end the corporate and military occupation of Iraq?
And Obama and McCain wouldn't?
Because we stand for a shift of the power away from the corporations and back into the hands of the American people?
Because we would cut the bloated, wasteful military budget?
Yes, that's why.
Because the corporate media is just doing its job.
Protecting corporate power.
And we are doing ours.
Representing the majority of the American people.
So, they are doing what they must do.
And we are doing what we must do.
And support the campaign that represents the American people.
Against the corporate masters.
Thanks to your generous contributions so far, we're a third of the way home.
Let's keep moving on up.
Both to our goal of $100,000 by August 10.
And let's drive our numbers in the polls to seven, eight, nine and ten points and beyond.
So that even the corporate media will have to sit up and take notice.
Together, we are making a difference.