Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Laura Flanders, Kathy Kelly

The week is moving fast on my end. Last week, by the way, I highlighted a piece (on Friday) -- Helen Redmond's "Female Chauvinist Pigs?" -- that I praised and noted was from somewhere. It was from International Socialist Review. On things to read, please read Kat's "Joni Mitchell's Hissing of Summer Lawns." I love that album more than I listen to it. The Hissing of Summer Lawns has some amazing songs on it that I will find myself singing out of the blue. But I agree with Kat the problem is the "drone." The music played on the album doesn't make it for me and never has. It's a real shame because I listen to Joni Mitchell quite often but that's a CD I probably only put on once a year. (I have all of Joni on CD. Of solo artists, that's also true of Carly Simon, Peter Gabriel and one or two others.)

"Blue Grit: Laura Flanders on How 'True Democrats Take Back Politics from the Politicians'" (Democracy Now!):
LAURA FLANDERS: Well, there's been a big trend in the left and the center to say, "The way for the Democrats to win next time is to not get snookered by marriage equality and abortion rights." I say the Democrats in denial, their denial is what loses them. Let's face it. I mean, the right doesn't need any more ammunition against Hillary Clinton. What she needs to do -- she's one of the contenders -- is to woo more support on the left. The Democratic leadership is never going to be anti-gay, anti-abortion, anti-racial equality enough to be able to persuade their opponents that they're on the same side or they're not a threat. But in constantly running away from their base, who, you know, whether they like it or not, are gays and lesbians, women who support abortion, people of color, they may not like it, but that's the base they’ve got, and that's the base they depend on every time it comes to an election.
AMY GOODMAN: We were just talking about Don Imus referring to Rutgers athletes, women on the basketball team, as "nappy-[headed] hos," and this demand for his resignation. You refer, in your piece, to Ann Coulter, speaking before the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, D.C., referring to John Edwards as a "f**got." Talk more about that.
LAURA FLANDERS: Well, we've seen it before. The right will raise a trial balloon, and if it's not shot down fast, it carries on. Remember Arnold Schwarzenegger talking about girlie men. He used that first against the Democrats in the California Assembly. The next thing we know, he's using the word about all Democrats on the stage of the Republican National Convention. I don't think believe that trial balloon from Coulter has burst yet, and I think that it's -- the lesson of the gay and lesbian rights movement and other movements of grassroots folks who, let’s face it, were the first people to be swift-boated in this country -- it wasn't John Kerry. Remember the "welfare queen." The communities we're talking about are the people who have learnt about how to tackle and respond to the right, and they know being nice to a bully doesn't work. You've got to fight back. You've got to stand up. And that's what these candidates have got to learn.
AMY GOODMAN: And what does Peter Pace, the general's comments about homosexuality have to do with the Democrats? What do you think of the Democrats' response to it?
LAURA FLANDERS: Well, when Hillary Clinton was asked what she thought about that, she said she would leave it for other people to decide. That is no kind of a response. You've got to stand up for what's right, and it will serve your interests. Ask somebody like the people I profile in the book, Lupe Valdez, the sheriff of Dallas. No lefty community, Dallas elected its first Latina, its first woman sheriff, its first out lesbian and its first Democrat in twenty years, when they elected a woman who had the chutzpah to stand up and say that she had respect for herself, she wanted other people to respect her, too, she was an agent of change, and she was going to serve the people as the sheriff. She's there doing the work and being exactly what she said she would be.

That's from Monday's broadcast and I wanted to highlight it but this is the first chance I've had.
I've just begun reading Blue Grit (last night) and am enjoying it. That's Laura Flanders' new book. I picked that part of the interview because I knew community members in Texas would enjoy it and because I thought it got to a few things we've been attempting to address at The Third Estate Sunday Review, specifically in "How we got to this point." One of the points we were making there was the shameful behavior which includes, as Flanders notes, Hillary's silence. But it also included this slinking off from a stereotype. "That's not true about John Edwards!" might be shouted out but there was no attempt to stand up and say (a) it's hate speech and (b) it's a stereotype.

For all the hula hoop frenzy over the nonsense of 'framing,' there has been no effort to define, just to take the easy spin (that's all framing is). Elsewhere in the article, Flanders makes a point about how the Democrats should be attempting to big tent it instead of running from gays and lesbians. That reminded me of a point C.I. made in "Roundtable" (The Third Estate Sunday Review):

Ty: Yeah that is the correct count. You basically answered something from each of the fifteen and I'm just trying to think now if there's any major point from them that you missed? We had one e-mail from a woman who identified as a lesbian and you touched on that, on Hillary and Barack's one day of silence, but could you expand on that, could you address gay rights?
C.I.: Sure and anyone else can jump in. The 'brave' ones who think they're doing the Lord's work with this debunk and that debunk don't bother to debunk the nonsense of the Democratic Party's silence on gay and lesbian issues. Larry Kramer, on Democracy Now!, spoke to that issue and it's really easy to dismiss that as "Oh, that's a gay issue." And those segretating may hope people will do so but the truth is there are a lot more people on the outs than on the ins with the Democratic Party. The desire to present their dream candidate, male, that they just know will wow 'em in the south is insulting to everyone including the south. But it's that desperate grip they have for the Big Daddy figure who's going to save them as opposed to building a working coalition. That's still the problem. Before Bill Clinton, it was quite common, in the wake of Poppy Bush's election for some to argue that the Dems would be the party of Congress but they could never have the White House. I'm referring to poli sci articles, not the popular press. And specifically thinking of two papers written by people I know. For too many with a say in determining the direction of the party, the answer, once Clinton was elected, was a charasmatic figure and not a party that could unite under truly universal principles such as fairness.

There's a lot to deal with. The intended plan (that may or may not come off) is for sites to go dark after the 2008 election. In the time between now and then, we're not trying to play nice. We're trying to raise very real issues. I really did assume there would be a drop off as a result of that (which I was fine with) but there's actually been an increase of positive e-mails at The Third Estate Sunday Review. I think that goes to the fact that a lot of people are fed up and are tired of the very real silences on issues of inclusion and fairness coming out of the leadership of the Democratic Party and too many voices. Laura Flanders hosts her show on Air America Radio, 7:00 pm to ten p.m. EST on Saturdays and Sundays. We frequently mention her at Third and that's because she's trying to accomplish something in terms of the way we understand issues.

I'm not comparing the work we do at Third to the work she does. (Nor my own, this is just online scribbles for me at my site.) Flanders is much nicer about it. We generally have her program on during Saturday editions for Third. (I have no idea what she said the last two weeks, both times have been something big going on.) She's a wonderful host and the sort that the network could build real change by building around her. As someone who had high hopes for AAR when it started, I think, as a network, they failed and they continue to do so. For every Flanders, you have a Seder or Maddow who offer nothing but party line points. I think those people do damage by denying the very real problems as they cheerlead a party. I think we saw that would be the way it was for Sam Seder without Janeane Garofalo by his side when Slimey Simon Rosenberg was interviewed (Garofalo wasn't on that broadcast) and Seder refused to question him. Callers and the show's blog were screaming about the pass Seder gave Rosenberg. That is who Seder really is. That's not news today, now most see it. He's a Party boy who won't call out. Rosenberg was a "player" (supposedly a shoe in -- to hear Seder and his blog buddies tell it -- for DNC chair), so Seder gave him a pass. It was as bad as anything the New York Times could have done and Seder could try to defend all he wanted but he blew that interview and did so on purpose. To Maddow's credit, she interviewed Rosenberg with Lizz Winstead and they didn't give Simon a pass. They were actually disturbed by Rosenberg's responses. I don't care for Maddow but I will give her credit for that.

"Prison for a Peacemaker: Interview with Kathy Kelly" (Jack Balkwill, CounterPunch):
The war in Iraq is the longest war in US history, even longer than Vietnam when one considers the first Gulf War extending through the sanctions (with interruptions for bombing, such as Clinton's "Desert Fox"), to the illegal 2003 invasion and current occupation. So from 1991 through 2007 we have continuous war in one form or another for sixteen years.
Through it all, Kathy Kelly has promoted peace for the Iraqi people and attempted to counter the brutal sanctions that, according to UN reports, directly contributed towards the deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children. She has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize three times, and spent time in prison for her actions. In this interview she tells the story of her struggle for peace, human rights, and social justice together with resulting experiences in jails and prisons in the Land of the Free.
She is interviewed by Jack Balkwill, a Vietnam Vet.
Jack Balkwill: When did you first go to Iraq, and what was your purpose?
Kathy Kelly: In January 1991, I joined the Gulf Peace Team, an international group of peace activists encamped on the Iraq side of the Iraq-Saudi border. I landed in Baghdad on the last plane allowed into the country prior to the war. Traveling by bus to the desert camp, we passed through Kerbala, in southern Iraq. Our team was mesmerized by the city's beauty. Students, gowned and graceful, sauntered along palm-tree lined University streets. Mosques shimmered in the sunlight. All of us voiced a hope that we could one day return to Kerbala.
The Gulf Peace Team camp was already humming by the time I got there. Latrines had been dug, tents were set up, food preparation and clean up tasks were assigned, and in spite of language and cultural differences people were learning about each other.
During the night, on January 16th, 1991, the U.S. began bombing Iraq. 72 of us, from 18 different countries, crawled out of our tents and huddled together, watching planes fly overhead almost once every five minutes.
As the ground war approached, there was more of a chance that we actually would be in the way of invading U.S. forces. On January 28, Iraqi authorities evacuated us to a hotel in Baghdad.
In Baghdad, there was very little electricity available. However, in the women's restroom there was a light. I went there to write and read, from time to time, and there met mothers and children.
The mothers were very friendly to me, and the children, after initial shyness, were glad to play. Sometimes I'd see them again, in the hotel's basement bomb shelter, late at night, when the bombing was more intense. Fathers held children in their arms and reassured them. But the men's faces showed unmistakable anxiety and fear.
We found an old typewriter, abandoned by journalists. It lacked a typewriter ribbon, but I had learned, in Nicaragua and in prison, that if you place a sheet of carbon paper in front of a clean sheet of paper, it will function like a typewriter ribbon. We melted a candle onto the typewriter and soon I was able to produce our team's statement about why we were in Baghdad.
An Iraqi official spotted me managing to type something and soon returned with a document he needed typed in English. We were reluctant, at first --was it right for a team claiming neutrality to assist an Iraqi government official? We asked to read the letter. It was a letter to then Secretary General of the United Nations Javier Perez de Cuellar, asking him to seek an end to bombardment of the Iraqi highway between Baghdad and the Jordanian border.
This road was the only way out for refugees and the only way in for humanitarian relief supplies. Our team had traveled on this road for some distance, en route to Baghdad, and had seen charred and smoking vehicles. Our bus drivers would swerve to miss craters in the road. It was a very dangerous route.
We agreed to type the letter, knowing that according to Geneva conventions warring parties must provide a way out for refugees to exit and a way in for humanitarian relief. The official returned with crumpled stationery, signed by a cabinet level official, and carbon paper that had been used five times over.
Imagine cabinet level correspondence being typed by an extranational from the country bombarding you, on wrinkled stationery, using an abandoned typewriter"working by candlelight.this is what Iraq's government was relying onthen imagine the support available to the Pentagon.
On January 31st, in Baghdad, a bomb hit the servant's quarters of the hotel where we were housed. Iraqi authorities again loaded us onto buses, after stamping visas into passports of 33 members who had asked to stay with families in Baghdad. They told us we would be welcome to visit Iraq some other time. We traveled by bus along a major Iraqi highway leading to the border crossing between Iraq and Jordan.
Desert Storm continued. We called it Desert Slaughter.
Many of the Gulf Peace Team members returned to their home countries to campaign for an end to the relentless bombing and destruction. Those of us who had visas for a return trip to Iraq organized, as best we could, medical relief convoys to bring desperately needed medicines into Iraq.
We hoped that we might safeguard the road between the Jordan-Iraq border and Baghdad, thinking that if authorities from the U.S. and the UK knew that ordinary citizens from their own countries were traveling along that road, delivering medical relief, they might be less inclined to consider every moving vehicle a military target. Announcing the convoy project would give us a chance to remind the U.S. war planners about the Geneva conventions.
A few of us began calling Jordanian pharmacists and charity organizations to learn more about procuring medicines for delivery to Iraq. A Jordanian businessman, Mr. Nidal Sukhtian, heard of our project and decided to donate a semi-truck full of powdered milk. He also volunteered to pay for petrol, hire a driver, and help us out with an interpreter.
Suddenly our project became much more manageable. I took responsibility to contact the media. An NBC TV correspondent decided to cover our departure. I don't remember her name, but I do remember a steady exchange of phone calls setting up the time and date for the convoy to film us loading up trucks with food and medicine and then driving back into the war zone.
The day before our planned departure, someone from the United Nations finally managed to get through to us that our convoy wasn't going to enter Iraq unless we were prepared to ram our way through a UN checkpoint. Sanctions prohibited delivery of almost all goods to Iraq, save for a short list of medical supplies and medicines.
Realizing that our powdered milk shipment could never pass the checkpoint, we divvied up a long list of tasks: offload the semi-truck and return it to the owner, find two small trucks to carry whatever we could find that was on the list, call pharmacies, find a new source for fuel, new drivers, change the press release, change the departure time, in the frenzy of activity, I completely forgot to call the NBC correspondent. She was out in the field waiting to film us, with a full camera crew, and it was raining.
I saw her that night, at the Red Crescent office, where we both had turned up to get documents that would allow us to enter Iraq. She was livid. "I will assure that you and your team never again get coverage from NBC," she said. I murmured how sorry I was. She turned, walked away, and then paused, looking over her shoulder, to add, "I shouldn't even tell you this, but offloading the truck WAS the story." My heart sank.
Had NBC covered the Scottish doctor on our team, tearful as she hauled cartons of powdered milk off of the semi-truck, had this image been beamed into living rooms across the United States, it might have "jump-started awareness about the most comprehensive sanctions ever imposed in modern history.
I still feel ashamed, even now, recalling that story. I feel shame and sorrow because throughout all the years of the long war against Iraq, offloading the truck never stopped being the story.
Just days ago, a UN report stated that one out of three children in Iraq suffers from malnutrition. A combination of sanctions, war and occupation has brought to Iraq the world's worst deterioration in child mortality rate. According to a report 'The State of the World's Children' released by UNICEF in 2007, Iraq's mortality rate for children under five was 50 per 1000 live births in 1990, and 125 in 2005, an annual average deterioration of 6.1 percent.
When the U.S.-led invasion was launched in 2003, the Bush administration pledged to cut Iraq's child mortality rate in half by 2005. Instead, the rate has worsened, now to 130 in 2006, according to Iraqi Health Ministry figures. In February, 2007, Iraq,s Ministry of Water Resources stated that only 32 percent of the Iraqi population had access to clean drinking water, and only 19 percent had access to a good sewage system.
Massive convoys should be going into Iraq, bearing all manner of humanitarian relief. They should be, but they're not, and in December 2006 donor nations cut in half the money they would commit to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees.
But let me return to 1991, because eventually in late March of that year, our team did return to Kerbala, the city that had so impressed us when we first traveled into Iraq. We stared in awe as we drove along streets devoid of palm trees, lined by wreckage and smoking ruins.
We entered the main hospital and our feet stuck to the floor because the blood was so thick. Beds were smashed; equipment was torn out of the walls. We saw clusters of badly frightened doctors. Henry Selz, who had lived in Lebanon during the civil war there, spotted bullet holes near the rooftops of buildings as we walked along a side street. One elderly woman pulled us aside and began whispering about mass graves. What had happened?
I learned in fits and starts, fitting together pieces of the horror story that still isn't completed.
Margaret Thatcher remarked once on television that after the ceasefire had been declared, Saddam Hussein's generals asked if they could keep their helicopters and the U.S. generals said, "Yes," then they asked if they could keep their attack helicopters-- again the answer was, "Yes." Those attack helicopters swiftly took off in pursuit of insurgents who were rebelling in cities all through southern Iraq: Amarah, Qut, Najaf, Nassiriyeh, Basra, Kerbala.
Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, U.S. allies in the 1991 war against Iraq who were helping fund the war, had told President George Bush Sr. to keep Saddam Hussein in power because otherwise uprisings of Shi'ite people in the south could give rise to a dominant Shi'a governance in Iraq that would be sympathetic to coreligionists "next door" in Iran.
Hence the long regime of economic sanctions which kept Saddam crippled externally but strengthened internally --punitive sanctions which were always evaluated only on the basis of whether or not they prevented Saddam from acquiring weapons of mass destruction, and never with regard to how the sanctions affected innocent and vulnerable Iraqis, particularly children.

That's a long excerpt but it's a long interview. One worth reading and I'll leave it at that for tonight except to recommend that you read Ava and C.I.'s "TV: The not-so-universal White Boy blues" which is really amazing.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Wednesday, April 11, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, Crazy John McCain intends to continue running for the GOP presidential nomination until the men in white coats cart him away, The Savannah Morning News merges with the US military, the International Red Cross issues a report that doesn't contain the preferred amount of happy talk, and the refugee crisis grows.

Today the
US military announced: "An MND-B Soldier died and two others were wounded when an improvised explosive device detonated near their patrol in an eastern section of the Iraqi captial April 11." And they announced: "One MDN-B Soldier died and another was wounded after their unit came under attack in the southern portion of the Iraqi capital April 10." This brings the total number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war to 3294 with 47 for the month of April alone, reports ICCC.

We're starting with the above for a reason,
Crazy John McCain. Last week, Crazy John McCain took The John McCain Showboat Express to Baghdad and became a topic of ridicule for his boldface lies that things were getting better in Iraq and that he could walk freely through a Baghdad street. Robert Knigh ( Flashpoints, Monday, April 2nd) described the 'free walk' this way: "McCain, in defiance of various independent reports that Iraq's daily death toll actually increased last month, nevertheless declared that the so-called 'surge' was 'making progress' and that Americans were 'not getting the full picture of what is happening in Iraq'; however a zoom out from McCain's photo op shows that he was actually surounded by orbiting F16 fighter planes, three Black Hawk attack helicopters, 2 Apache gun ships, more than 100 US troops, snipers and armed vehicles, a flak jacket and personal body armour. The presidential contender and Congressional comedian concluded his celebration of April Fool's Day by declaring with a straight face that 'There are neighborhoods in Baghdad where you and I could walk through those neighborhoods today. These and other indicators and reasons for cautious optimism about the effects of the new strategy'."

Crazy John McCain lost some of his luster over that and went on CBS' 60 Minutes Sunday where Scott Pelly asked him about the claims he'd made re: Iraq and Senator Crazy responded, "Of course I'm going to misspeak and I've done it on numerous occasions and I probably will do in the future. I regret that when I divert attention to something that I've said from my message but you know that's just life, and I'm happy frankly with the way I operate, otherwise it would be a lot less fun." Never deny a crazy their fun. Speaking at the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Virginia, Crazy John McCain was at it again, kissing ass and telling lies and he asserted that he was speaking "to an audience that can discern truth from falsehood in a politician's appraisal of the war," then went on to dub the illegal war as "necessary and winnable" and attempted to drum up sympathy by stating his Crazy Walk through Baghdad left him at the mercy of "a hostile press corps". Crazy spoke of "memorable progress and measurable progress" and some probably fell for the crap. Those who did probably have forgotten the outline General John P. Abizaid presented on March 14, 2006 (link goes to Centcom, click here). He's also bragging about Baghdad where, as AFP notes, "the International Committee of the Red Cross said in a new report that the operation had not yet stabilised Baghdad." His bragging comes as Bruce Rolfsen (Air Force Times) notes "more than 850 wounded and injured service men" and service women "out of war zones during March, according to the Air Force. In February, the Air Force flew out 767 patients.

Senator Crazy went on to declare that the armed battle included a "struggle for the soul of Islam" sounding as insane as the Bully Boy when he originally used the term "crusade." Senator Crazy was, no doubt, amusing himself again with thoughts of bombs being dropped, rockets launched, bullets shot all for a "struggle for the soul of Islam." Senator Crazy remains the undeclared GOP candidate for the 2008 presidential nomination and with all the crazy remarks he makes, it's easy for the electorate to miss some of them. When
Scott Pelly (60 Minutes) pointed out that the majority of US citizens want and wondered to Crazy when Crazy would "start doing what the majority of the American people want?"

Well again, I disagree with what the majority of the American people want.

A memorable, if not winning, campaign slogan if ever there was one.
Crazy John McCain is running for president on the premise that, his words, "I disagree with what the majority of the American people want." Vote Insane! Vote McCain!

Staying with the crazies, the Giddiest Gabor in the Green Zone, little Willie Caldwell, grabbed his feather boa and marched before reporters to declare, "They're arming the insurgents, dahling." With the five Iranian diplomats still not released (and US military command announcing today that they weren't going to be), Little Willie strutted and made broad statements. Or, as
the BBC put it, "accused." AFP also uses the (accurate) terminology, noting that Little Willie "accused the Iranians of training Iraqi groups on how to assemble explosively-formed projecticles -- a type of armour-piercing roadside bomb that has caused many coalition casualties." Lauren Frayer, AP's frequent embed, paid to write for a living, somehow fails to utilize "accused" once; however, she did take down good stenography for Little Willie and deploy the term "said" eight times in a 300 plus word 'report' (324 -- check my math).

In other Press Shames,
Joe Strupp (Editor & Publisher) reports what's what at The Savannah Morning News these days. On their front page, they are now running a column by Major General Rick Lynch -- at least it may be by him. The paper's editor, Susan Catron, asked of the names at the end of Lynch's opinion column offers happily, "I can't tell if they wrote it or not." Catron also reveals that the paper is not paying the general for his column. Hmmm.

The editor can't state for the record whether or not the column was written by the general and this weekly column (carried on the front page) requires no payment to the writer? For many, that would be enough to raise red flags but Catron's still recovering from the mighty Sunday comics war that so drained the paper's resources

Strupp reveals that the newspaper staff believes (and they are right) that if the column belongs anywhere, it is "on the opinion page . . . Is this appropriate for a 50,000-reader newspaper that purports to be free from government influence? Staff members feel it has undermined the newspaper's credibility and independence."

Turning to news of attempts to increase leisure time,
AP reports that the US "White House is considering naming a high-powered official to oversee the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and report directly to President Bush".

There seems to be some confusion here so let's turn to the US Constitution, Article II, section 2 which reads:

The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States; he may require the Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive Departments, upon any Subject relating to the Duties of their respective Offices, and he shall have Power to Grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offences against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.

If anyone's confused (and apparently the White House is) the role being discussed is a Constitutionally mandated role for the occupant of the Oval Office. It's really not something that can be "delegated." Possibly Bully Boy's all tuckered out from his vacation in Crawford?
Mimi Kennedy (writing at Truthout) notes that Camp Casey was in full swing in Crawford last weekend with the Bully Boy in town. Kennedy reports that Friday was spent at the checkpoint singing "We Shall Overcome" and chanting "We are here with Cindy/We're here to ask/What noble Cause/We are here with Cindy now" dying Easter eggs and singing; with Saturday revolving around Pink Police actions. On the topic of CODEPINK, they have redesigned their website adding many new features and one of the new campaigns revolves around the video "Toy Soldiers" -- watching it and passing it on.

Cindy Sheehan will be speaking in Indiana Thursday. The South Bend Tribune reports she will deliver "Speaking Peace to Power" at 10:30 Thursday morning on the campus of Saint Mary's College (auditorium in Madeleva Hall). The event is free and open to the public. On last weekend, Cindy (writing at BuzzFlash) notes, "At our five acres of Camp Casey, we also announced phase two of our development from a protest camp to a peace facility. The Camp Casey Peace Institute is partnering with Farm Hands to create a therapeutic farm for Vets and their families and active duty soldiers. We are having our first build on Memorial Day Weekend to put up our lodge building."

Staying with peace news, we'll turn to US war resisters.
Meghan Eves (Canada's Eye Weekly) takes a close look at three war resisters who are among the 300 attempting to find refuge in Canada. Eves notes that Jeremy Hinzman was the first to apply for refugee status and that Hinzman's currently appealing the rejection by the Immigration and Refugee Board "to the Federal Court of Appeals but no date has been set"; that Joshua Key, his wife Brandi and their four children await the response of the Federal Court of Canada on his appeal (all war resisters have been refused refugee status by the Immigration and Refugee Board) and notes his book The Deserter's Tale, and Dean Walcott who self-checked out and went to Canada at the end of last year (December 2006) -- someone could pass it on to Paul von Zielbauer that Walcott and Key both suffer from PTSD.

Key, Hinzman and Walcott are part of a movment of resistance within the military that also includes
Ehren Watada, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder , Corey Glass, Ricky Clousing, Mark Wilkerson, Agustin Aguayo, Camilo Mejia, Patrick Hart, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake and Kevin Benderman. In total, thirty-eight US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum. Information on war resistance within the military can be found at Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.

Turning to Iraq, yesterday on
Flashpoints, Emily Howard spoke with Darh Jamail about the Doha conference and Iraq. On Iraq, Jamail noted the growing Iraqi refugee problem and how nothing was being done about it. They discussed his recent article at IPS on the topic of refugees and Jamail spoke of how when attacks were on going, the lucky ones were able to buy themselves or a relative out but, having exhausted their money with that, they were left to wander around or live in refugee tents. Those who could afford to get out, such as doctors, have already left. Dahr spoke of how the problem now was that a country was now in a situation where the people trained and needed for basic needs (electricity, water, etc.) are now leaving. Writing today at IPS, Jamail interviews Iraqi refugees now in Damascus including 68-year-old Abdul Abdulla who recalls of his family's time in Baghdad prior to leaving, "We stay in our homes, but even then some people have been pulled out of their own houses. These death squads arrived after (former U.S. ambassador John) Negorponte arrived. And the Iraqi Government is definitely involved because they depend on them (militias)."

Reuters reports that the International Red Cross has declared that "The suffering that Iraqi men, women and children are enduring today is unbearable and unacceptable" (ICRC director of operations Pierre Kraehenbuehl). BBC reports, "Four years after the US-led invasion, the ICRC says the conflict is inflicting immense suffering, and calls for greater protection of civilians." The ICRC issued their report in Geneva today.

The (PDF format) report is entitled "
Civilians Without Protection: The ever-worsening humanitarina crisis in Iraq" and notes:

Civilians bear the brunt of the relentless violence and the extremely poor security conditions that are disrupting the lives and livelihoods of millions. Every day, dozens of people are killed and many more wounded. The plight of Iraqi civilians is a daily reminder of the fact that there has long been a failure to respect their lives and dignity. Shottings, bombings, abudctions, murders, military operations and other forms of violence are forcing thousands of people to flee their homes and seek safety elsewhere in Iraq or in neighboring countries. The hundreds of thousands of displaced people scattered across Iraq find it particularly difficult to cope with the ongoing crisis, as do the families who generously agree to host them.

The report addresses a number of issues including the medical care situation with the 'brain drain' and the violence causing many medical professionals to leave the country at a time when Iraqi hospitals are overcrowed. The report also notes this with regards to the water situation in Iraq:

Both the quantity and quality of drinking water in Iraq remain insufficient despite limited improvements in some areas, mainly in the south. Water is often contaminated owing to the poor repair of sewage and water-supply networks and the discharge of untreated sewage into rivers, which are the main source of drinking waters. Electricity and fuel shortages and the poor maintenance of infrastructure mean that there is no regular and reliable supply of clean water and that sewage is often not properly demanded.

On the subject of prisoners, "Tens of thousands of people are currently being detained by the Iraq authorities and the multinational forces in Iraq" -- often without any news of the prisoners being passed on to their families.

In addition to the above,
Robert Fisk (Independent of London) reports on the latest efforts to turn Baghdad into a series of "gated communities" -- part of the 220 page plan FM 3024 -- which is based on the fact that the easy areas can be 'secured' and then the 'security' can be spread out wider. More logically, as Fisk notes, is the greater of spreading out and depending on Iraqi soldiers, the less loyalty to the US forces and the greater the ties to Iraqis. (Meaning the Shi'ite or Sunni trained officers is more apt to blow off US orders than turn against an Iraqi who may be a threat to the US but is not seen as an Iraqi threat.)


CBS and AP report a Hilla bombing that killed a police officer and left three more wounded, a Mosul bombing that killed a police officers, wounded two more police officers and left six other people injured. Reuters notes mortar attacks in Baghdad that killed one and left 4 others wounded.


Reuters reports two police officers shot dead outside their homes in Kut, Abdul Abbas Hashim ("general director in the Electricity Ministry" shot dead in Baghdad.


Reuters reports 11 corpses discovered in Baghdad and 9 in Mosul.

cindy sheehan