Friday, December 21, 2007

NOW, Robin Morgan, Reuters

In this holiday season, is there a solution to chronic homelessness? What do homeless people most need to reenter the fabric of society? Some say the answer is right there in the question: homes. On December 21 at 8:30 pm (check local listings), NOW investigates a program that secures apartments for the long-term homeless, even if they haven't kicked their bad habits. If you think that sounds crazy, think again. Advocates say this approach reduces costs, encourages self-help and counseling participation, and restores self-esteem. NOW follows a man nicknamed 'Footie' who invited us to see this idea in action.As a holiday gift, see the show for free RIGHT NOW at the NOW website:
Also, watch a web-exclusive video report about how some homeless earn a living on the street, and assumption-busting truths about America's homeless population.
Check out as well the Top 10 NOW reports of 2007!

That's PBS' NOW with David Brancaccio and, if you miss it, remember you can stream online. Sadly, they do not provide full transcripts on every story so it's not accessible for everyone.

Thank you to everyone who wrote about Wednesday's post. Sunny replied to regular readers and community members. I'll add a thank you to everyone here and include Sunny in that because it is not in her job description to read or reply to the e-mails. She just enjoys reading them. So, thank you, to Sunny.

"The Four Solstice Miracles" (Robin Morgan, The Women's Media Center):
The last year I sent Christmas cards was 1968: a plain, black-bordered card, mourning the Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert Kennedy assassinations and the ongoing Vietnam War, urging friends to donate to movement groups instead of buying gifts. I never sent Christmas cards again, not even UNICEF cards, nor, when options became available, a veritable glut of commercialism masquerading as diversity: Hanukkah cards, Kwanzaa cards, Devali, Ramadan, and Winter Solstice cards (this last sensible, at least, since all year-end holidays are clones of solstice festivals). A secularist, I'm happy not participating in a ritual that devours forests for paper, earns millions for Hallmark and its corporate brothers, and feeds the seasonal-obligations frenzy. But. I do send four special . . . well, messages during this season, so I can hardly pretend they’re not holiday greetings. But these particular recipients deserve far more than my humble communications, written on personal notepaper, manger- and menorah-free, unsequined by santas, kente cloth, dreydls, or overworked non-unionized elves. This is not because these four people--all highly unusual Christians--send me annual messages, or because their stories are the sort not reported in world media. It's because the imperative of their extraordinary lives inspires a loving, respectful response. Their names are partially changed here, to protect their privacy. But all four are real.
I met Esperanza Santos while in Brazil at a feminist conference, in 1987: a tiny, birdlike woman with bright blue-black skin, a sardonic smile, and a gaze ready to puncture any hypocrisy. She'd agreed to meet me in one of the favelas (vertical slums that rise along the hills ringing Rio) because I came "recommended" by one of the favela women organizers--who spoke English and kindly came along to translate. Esperanza started off laughing about her last name: "Whenever you meet someone called 'Santos,' it's because they're born out of wedlock. In Brazil, having no father automatically makes you a saint."
Eperanza Santos is one hell of an anti-religious saint. By then, 20 years ago, she'd already been working with prostituted Afro-Brazilian women in Rio's back streets for more than 20 years, and talking about HIV/AIDS since the early 1980s. No officials would listen.
"One day they'll find me murdered," she shrugged. "It might be pimps, sex traffickers, porno guys, drug dealers, cops, johns, government men--they all know while I'm alive, I'll never quit. But I know safe places in the favelas no guys dare go. The women trust me. That's what matters--my work. Getting the girls off drugs, out of the life. Getting kids, most not even menstruating yet, out of the life, into school. It's hard enough being black, and poor, but being black, poor, and a woman--that's a ticket to hell. Sex for sale is usually where poor black women start out here, and mostly where we end up. We try to survive. Some girls give me money to help others, like I helped them. I don't take Church donations, ever! The Church is just another john--always wanting something for its money. If any god existed, its first miracle would be to destroy the Church."

That's a wonderful column and I want to thank community members Lynda and Billie for highlighting it (C.I. noted it this morning in "") for highlighting it both because it's wonderful but also because I know, at least with Billie, that was her thinking of others (which she does a great deal). She celebrates Christmas and I think it's really great that she saw this and wanted to be sure it was highlighted because she knows other community members aren't the same and that all are welcome. I know Lynda in terms of round-tables and e-mails. Religion's not something that's ever come up so I have no idea where she stands on the issue (and it's her business) but either she was thinking about others too -- either because she's not religious and was sharing that by highlighting the column or because she is religious. Regardless, she was sharing and it was something worth sharing.

"Iraq becomes focus on presidential campaign again" (Jeremy Pelofsky, Reuters):
Clinton's campaign argued she has not changed her position, but rather has consistently supported withdrawing one to two combat brigades from Iraq each month. There are 20 brigades in Iraq now with 3,000 to 5,000 troops each.
"I think we can bring nearly everybody home, you know, certainly within a year if we keep at it and do it very steadily," said Clinton, who would be the country's first female president if elected.
Edwards favors withdrawing U.S. troops within nine to 10 months while retaining a military presence in nearby countries. But defense officials have said bringing more than one brigade home a month would be challenging.
On the Republican side, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in Washington said a critique of the administration's foreign policy by Huckabee last week was "ludicrous."
The former Arkansas governor and Baptist minister said the administration's "arrogant bunker mentality" had been counterproductive.

First off, public record pattern would indicate that Condi was misquoted. She didn't say it was "ludicrous" for Huckabee to criticize the White House, she said, "No one could have guessed Mike Huckabee would criticize the White House." (That was a joke.) Second, is John Edwards misportraying Hillary Clinton's stand on Iraq? My attitude: If so, she can clarify, I'm just glad that Democratic candidates suddenly remember there is an illegal war ongoing. Bill Richardson was speaking of it earlier in the week -- Tuesday, I believe.

I do plan to post on Monday. I doubt I will on Tuesday.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Friday, December 21, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, it's reported that Dems will round out their year of selling out with promises to sell out even more, media discussions on PTSD, the 3900 mark hovers, and more.

Starting with war resistance.
Travis Lupick (Canada's Straight) notes the season and, "It will be a lean Christmas for some Iraq-war resisters living in Vancouver. These former U.S. army recruits are waiting on refugee claims and are fighting a return to the U.S. that could include imprisonment. Brad McCall moved to Vancouver after abandoning his army company in September. He told the Straight that this Christmas was going to be different from those of his childhood in Alabama. There wold be no spending money on presents this year, said McCall, who is still without a work visa. But it's not all bad. 'I've got plenty of dinner invitations,' he added. 'There will be no lack of food for me.' McCall said that he would spend the holidays quietly, just hanging out with his Canadian girlfriend. He maintains that he has no regrets, including joining the U.S army. 'Now that I'm in Canada and I'm in Vancouver, I realize how little I did really know about the world,' he said. 'I had pretty much been brainwashed my entire life, not to realize the struggles that are happening all over the world on a daily basis'." The publication first told McCall's story in October when Charlie Smith reported on McCall's attempt to enter Canada September 19, 2007 only to be denied entry by Canadian authorities, "I don't know what kind of police officer he was. He put me in handcuffs in front of all these people that were watching that were trying to get into Canada also. I told them, 'Why are you playing the part of the hound dog for the U.S. army?' They didn't know what to say. They just started stuttering and mumbling."

On November 15th, the Canadian Supreme Court refused to hear the appeals of war resisters
Jeremy Hinzman and Brandon Hughey. The Canadian Parliament has the power to let war resisters stay in Canada. Three e-mails addresses to focus on are: Prime Minister Stephen Harper ( -- that's pm at who is with the Conservative party and these two Liberals, Stephane Dion ( -- that's Dion.S at who is the leader of the Liberal Party and Maurizio Bevilacqua ( -- that's Bevilacqua.M at who is the Liberal Party's Critic for Citizenship and Immigration. A few more can be found here at War Resisters Support Campaign. For those in the US, Courage to Resist has an online form that's very easy to use. Both War Resisters Support Campaign and Courage to Resist are calling for actions from January 24-26.
There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes 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, Eli Israel, Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Carla 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, 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. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters. In addition, VETWOW is an organization that assists those suffering from MST (Military Sexual Trauma).

IVAW is organizing a March 2008 DC event:
In 1971, over one hundred members of Vietnam Veterans Against the War gathered in Detroit to share their stories with America. Atrocities like the My Lai massacre had ignited popular opposition to the war, but political and military leaders insisted that such crimes were isolated exceptions. The members of VVAW knew differently.
Over three days in January, these soldiers testified on the systematic brutality they had seen visited upon the people of Vietnam. They called it the Winter Soldier investigation, after Thomas Paine's famous admonishing of the "summer soldier" who shirks his duty during difficult times. In a time of war and lies, the veterans who gathered in Detroit knew it was their duty to tell the truth.
Over thirty years later, we find ourselves faced with a new war. But the lies are the same. Once again, American troops are sinking into increasingly bloody occupations. Once again, war crimes in places like Haditha, Fallujah, and Abu Ghraib have turned the public against the war. Once again, politicians and generals are blaming "a few bad apples" instead of examining the military policies that have destroyed Iraq and Afghanistan.
Once again, our country needs Winter Soldiers.
In March of 2008, Iraq Veterans Against the War will gather in our nation's capital to break the silence and hold our leaders accountable for these wars. We hope you'll join us, because yours is a story that every American needs to hear.
Click here to sign a statement of support for Winter Soldier: Iraq & Afghanistan

March 13th through 16th are the dates for the Winter Soldier Iraq & Afghanistan Investigation.

"In the face of a scandalous health care system, failing schools, and a fraudulent endless war, we are as docile as tattered scarecrows in a field of rotten tomatoes. As for that war, you may have heard that a quarter of the heavily-armed 'shooters' working in the streets of Baghdad for the Administration's mercenary Blackwater foreign legion are alleged to be chemically influenced by steroids or other mind-altering substances," declares Bill Moyers on tonight's
Bill Moyers Journal. That's from tonight's essay and you can catch it right now at YouTube. PBS is fundraising in some markets so if you're thinking of watching PBS programming this week, check your local listings to make sure that the program airs at its usual time. On WBAI Sunday, 11 a.m. to noon, The Next Hour will feature Paul Krassner and Sean Kelly joining Janet Coleman and David Dozier for a discussion about the season. Monday's Cat Radio Cafe (also on WBAI, from two p.m. to three p.m.) will continue the seasonal motif with Coleman and Dozer. And Wednesday (the 26th), CCCP returns to WBAI for their monthly broadcast. The Christmas Coup Comedy Players is original comedy programming created for public radio. It will air from two p.m. to three p.m. and feature Coleman, Dozer, John McDonagh, Marc Kehoe, Scooter, Moogy Klingman and (Wally's favorite) Will Durst. Remember WBAI broadcasts from NYC and for those not in the broadcast area, WBAI streams online. For those who may miss Bill Moyers Journal, remember it streams online and it provides transcripts as well. It is fully accessible for all news consumers. PBS' NOW with David Brancaccio also regularly airs tonight (again, check your local listings) and the half-hour program will be addressing the issue of being homeless as they probe a new program which provides apartments to homeless persons." This show is already posted online for streaming. NOW with David Branccacio has also selected their "Top 10 NOW reports of 2007" (currently on the front page of the website).
And lastly,
Rory O'Connor examines what's being left out in the promotion of the selection for Time magazine's latest "Person of the Year" in "Time to Cover up?" (

From media notes to media gossip passed off as reporting.
Frank James (Baltimore Sun) notes an article that ran in an online publication we don't note (the 'objective' reporters that aren't). Grasping fully that the grapple with the truth at PoorLice andTicksOh and the truth always loses, it's equally true the website is a megaphone for the Jane Harman types so when they 'report' something, fully grasp that they may be attempting to advance something that's not set. They report that "Iraq fatigue" has set in among the Congressional Democrats not at the top of the House or Senate. This "fatigue" -- the laughable 'news' source tells you -- is from a number of factors including the desire to "avoid showdowns with Bush over the war, wherever possible". There have been no showdowns with the White House. PoorLiceandTicksOh then wants to talk about how "forcing" votes on withdrawal hasn't worked. What withdrawal? There's been no voting on withdrawal -- forced or otherwise. PoLiceandTicksOh may be advancing for the "Blue Dogs" (no surprise) but if their report is correct, then prepare yourself for issues such as "troop readiness," diplomatic escalation and the alleged benchmarks while the Dems new strategy will be "to push Bush to accelerate any withdrawals called for by Petraeus". That's not a strategy. That's cowardice and a betrayal of the Congress. Petraeus can give any report he wants (and we now all grasp it doesn't even have to be factual) but the United States Congress is the third branch of the federal government, a branch co-equal with the executive and judicial. The idea that a new 'strategy' will be to do whatever General Davey Petraeus says is an insult to the Constitution. Citizens elected Congress members and they weren't elected to turn over the powers to a military general. Could it happen? Anything could but Nancy Pelosi already has her record lowest numbers in the eighth district currently and she is facing re-election. If she wants to hand the seat over to Cindy Sheehan, she should go ahead and pursue this non-strategy. Sheehan is a serious challenger. It's not a vanity campaign and she actually stands for something. Katha Pollitt and others didn't grasp it before the polling but Pelosi, who looks so wonderful from outside the Bay Area, has been a middle-of-the-roader while representing one of the country's leftist districts. She's going to have to campaign to win the election -- this from the woman who called off her regular townhalls in 2006 after she flat out lied to constitutents that there were no plans for permanent bases in Iraq and, when challenged on that lie, tried to back peddle with, "Well, nothing's permanent. Nothing lasts forever." No, nothing does. Including Congressional terms. Something Pelosi's beginning to grasp.

We're going to stay on the Congress for a bit more. The following is the letter that Senator Hillary Clinton wrote last week (December 12th) to Secretary of State Condi Rice, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Attorney General Michael Mukasey:

I write to express my deepest concern about recent news reports that the U.S. government has failed to properly respond in the case of
Jamie Leigh Jones, a young American woman who claims that she was brutally raped and detained in Iraq by U.S. contractors. I urge you to take swift action to investigate these allegations immediately.
As I hope you are all aware, recent news accounts indicate that Ms. Jones, a Halliburton/KBR employee in Baghdad, alleges she was gang-raped by her fellow employees and then held under guard against her will in a shipping container in order to prevent her from reporting the horrific crime. She states that she was denied food and water during her detention and told that she would be fired if she left Iraq to seek medical attention. More than two years later, news reports state that no U.S. government agency or department has undertaken a proper investigation of the incident.
These claims must be taken seriously and the U.S. government must act immediately to investigate Ms. Jones' claims. These allegations implicate all three of your departments. If one of your departments has already launched a private investigation, I urge you to disclose your findings without delay. If no investigation has been started, I urge you to decide the proper course for an inquiry into these claims and to commence your investigation with the utmost urgency.

Click here for the PDF formatted letter. First, note that Clinton didn't just send the letter to Mukasey -- who, as AG, is over the Department of Justice -- it effects all three departments. (And more.) Second, Clinton led on this issue among women in the Congress and Clinton wasn't one of the women running for office in 1992 on the gender-quake and the rage of what was done to Anita Hill in 1991. Hello, Di-Fi, where are you? Patty Murray was among those women and she is circulating a letter similar to Clinton's (and also to all three department heads). Republican Olympia Snowe (who ran for the Senate three years after) has signed on to Murray's letter. But a lot of women were happy in 1992 to point to Anita Hill facing the all male Senate panel and say that's why we needed to elect them. Many of them got elected and many are still in office. Exactly what are they doing? (There's no reason to let the men off the hook but I am noting, for those too young to remember or those who forgot, the mistreatment of Anita Hill in 1991 fueled the 1992 genderquake which a number of female politicians were eager to ride the wave of. Of the male Senators, Florida's Senator Bill Nelson is among those being active on the issue. And, of course, it was a House Rep, Republican Ted Poe, who immediately sprung into action.)

Marie Tessier (The Women's Media Center) observes, "The Jones case is the perfect storm of competing public values. It is a dreadful reflection of a thriving American culture of violence against women. It is one odious long-term consequence of an ill-conceived war in Iraq in an era of troop cutbacks. It illustrates the fate of crime victims in the real world experience of criminal and employment law. Still, Jones, now 23, is an emblem of a new generation of women who have come of age expecting justice for sexual assault, and willing to tell their families, the media and the world about their exploitation. They intend to hold law enforcement officials and employers accountable for every violation of trust that has followed the crime. As employment lawyers know, Jamie Leigh Jones is, in the end, one extreme example among thousands of victims of violence whose jobs and careers suffer as a result. Experiences like hers at KBR are the reason that sexual assault is recognized as an occupational safety problem throughout the workforce by the Centers for Disease Control and the Pentagon, for example." Stephanie Mencimer (Mother Jones) zooms in on the possibility that Jones may not be able to sue KBR:

When Jones went to work for KBR in Texas, and later for its subsidiary, Overseas Administrative Services, she signed contracts containing mandatory binding arbitration clauses, which required her to give up her right to sue the companies and any right to a jury trial. Instead, the contracts forced Jones to press her case through private arbitration, which she did in 2006. In that forum, the company that allegedly wronged her pays the arbitrator who is hearing the case. For that she can thank Dick Cheney.At the time of the alleged attack on Jones, KBR was a subsidiary of Halliburton, the behemoth military-contracting and oil-technology firm. (KBR was sold off earlier this year.) So Jones is covered by the Halliburton dispute-resolution program, which was implemented when Cheney was Halliburton's CEO. The system bears the markings of Cheney's obsession with secrecy and executive power. On his watch, Halliburton, in late 1997, made it more difficult for its employees to sue the company for discrimination, sexual harassment, and other workplace-related issues.

AP explains that along with Jones, Tracy Barker (sexually assaulted by a State Department employee STILL employed by the State Dept even after he admitted to the assault) and notes of the third woman that Rep Poe spoke of, but did not identify, that she "was molested several times and raped by a KBR co-worker. After the alleged rape, her attacker was allowed to work alongside her. Military officers escorted him off the base when she complained, and she was fired."

On Iraq, the
Seattle Post-Intelligencer editorializes regarding the military bombings by Turkey, "Turkey's air and land attacks on Kurdish civilian targets in an attempt to disable the Kurdish separatist group, the PKK, have been roundly condemned by both Iraqi and Kurdish governments. Not only was the Iraqi government not notified -- so that's how we treat soverign nations -- our own military commanders there were left in the dark, and Gen. David Patraeus is angry about how it was handleed. So now U.S. and Turkish officials are reviewing how the attacks went, hoping to 'streamline' the process furhter. Gosh, not informing two of the four concerned parties seems pretty streamlined to us." China's Xinhua reports that Condi Rice spoke with Ali Babacan, Turkey's Foreign Minister, Wednesday night via phone and that "during the phone conversation, Babacan told Rice that Turkey was pleased with intelligence sharing from the United States." In other news from the Kurdish north of Iraq, Damien McElroy (Telegraph of London) reports that the region's prime minister, Nechirvan Barzani, has stated that things "must be changed" or the Kurdish MPs will leave the 'coalition' (puppet) government which would destroy al-Maliki's leadership role (emphasis on "role"). Things? The oil law and the referendrum on oil-rich Kirkuk [whether it remains a part of the central (puppet) government or is folded into the Kurdistan region]. Also at the Telegraph of London, Con Coughlin provides (apparently unknowingly) the laugh for the day: the United Kingdom's new Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, states "the big difference between Iraq and Afghanistan is that Iraq has the wealth and resources to finance its own reconstruction, whereas Afghanistan has to reply on hand-outs." For those not in on the joke, that lie's been repeated many, many times before. Click here for the Institute for Policy Studies' "Wolfowitz Chronology" to be reminded of War Hawk Paul Wolfowitz telling Congress pre-Iraq War and after it started that reconstruction would be paid for with Iraqi oil.

War Hawk Down? Many hoped when John Howard was outed in elections and Kevin Rudd became the country's new prime minister. AFP notes that Rudd "was elected on a promise that he would pull out the 550 troops deployed in Iraq along with the British forces in the south of the country." In addition, Australia has approximately 1,000 troops stationed 'outside' of Iraq. AFP reports Rudd commented on a surprise trip to Baghdad today, "Australia will continue to support our friends in Iraq through navy deployment in the Gulf to assist in long-term security of Iraqi exports." Doesn't sound like Australia is "out" of the illegal war or that the new prime minister is planning for that.

While Democratic leadership may or may not be planning a coma for 2008 (you really can't call it caving after it keeps happening), it's worth noting that the number of service members announded dead since the start of the illegal war currently stands at
3896. That's four away from the 3,900 marker. With over a week left in the year, it might end with the marker being reached.

Perspective on the Democratic 'leadership' in Congress:
The 3000 mark was reached December 31, 2006. And, in one year's time, nearly a thousand have died. The Congress held their first session on January 4, 2007. At that point the number dead was 3006. There was a huge shake-up in the Congress, for any who've forgotten. Democrats promised a lot with regards to Iraq and they delivered nothing. In the November 2006 elections, they had a sweep. They had hoped to win control of one house. They won control of both houses of Congress. Since their first session, 890 US service members have been announced dead in Iraq. Since they were handed control, Byron W. Fouty and Alex R. Jimenez went missing. They were part of a group that was slaughtered. (By Iraqis waived through checkpoints, for those who've forgotten.) Hopefully, they are still alive. But they went missing May 12th. (They are two of four missing since the start of the illegal war. Keith M. Maupin went missing April 16, 2004 and Ahmeda Qusai al-Taei went missing right before the November elections, October 23, 2006. Ahmeda Qusai al-Taei is the US soldier who married an Iraqi and was captured while visiting her in Baghdad, outside the Green Zone.) The count doesn't include the deaths from physical wounds following the departure from Iraq. Five service members are known to have died. The number is probably higher. This year three died, from physical wounds received in Iraq, after leaving Iraq: Jack D. Richards (July 29, 2007), Gerald J. Cassidy (September 25, 2007) and Anthony Raymond Wasielewsk (October 8, 2007). In addition there are the many who have come back with mental traumas and have taken their own lives. They aren't included in the count either.

That is what Democrats have to show for their non-action after the American people went to the polls in November 2006 to give them control of both houses of Congress with a mandate to end the illegal war. They have not ended the illegal war (they really haven't even tried to end it) and 890 US service members have been announced dead in Iraq since Congress' first session of this year.

In some of today's reported violence . . .


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad car bombing that claimed the lives of 4 police officers and 1 civilian (seven police officers and one more civilian were also wounded) and the driver of the car was also killed, and an Al Salam mortar attack that claimed the life of 1 child (two more wounded).


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 3 people shot dead in Diyala province.


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 1 person was kidnapped in Al Touz.


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 3 corpses discovered in Baghdad.

Mohammed Al Dulaimy also reports, "The U.S. military and Iraqi police said one Iraqi police officer was killed and one marine was injured in an altercation at a joint outpost in the Jazeera area of Ramadi on Wednesday. The police officer died of stab wounds and the marine was treated for minor injuries from lacerations at a military hospital. The U.S. military said the incident is under investigation by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. Colleagues of the police officer said the man's throat was slit." On Thursday, Stephen Farrell (New York Times) reported on an event that left someone, assumed to be 18-year-old Waleed Khalid Khudhaier, an Iraqi police officer, dead -- Farrell noted that the event was under investigation (an Iraqi police officer and a US marine are thought to have been involved in a knife battle on a base and the police officer was killed) and that:

The incident is an embarrassment for the United States military, which has paised Anbar as a model for Sunni tribes and American soldiers cooperating to fight fundamentalist groups like Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, the homegrown militant group that United States intelligence officials say is led by foreigners. The death has provoked local anger and demands for legal action.

UNICEF announced, "An estimated two million children in Iraq continue to face threats including poor nutrition, disease and interrupted education. Iraqi children were frequently caught in the crossfire of conflict throughout 2007. Insecurity and displacement continues to cause hardship for many in the most insecure parts of the country and further eroded access to quality essential services country-wide." Among the many distrubing facts UNCIEF reports, we'll grab two. "Hundreds of children lost their lives or were injured by violence and many more had their main family wage-earner kidnapped or killed." Earlier this week, IRIN reported that "Iraqi women parliamentarians and activists are pressing for a new law to help the increasing number of widows and divorced women in their war-torn country" and quoted parliamentarian Nadira Habib stating that violence had created ("over the past three decades") over 1 million widows in Iraq but the country plans to cut subsidies in next year's budget, despite the fact that "country's social protection programme" already only provides the US equiavalent of fifty-dollars a month to those in need. Cara Buckley (New York Times) reported on some of the problems facing Iraq's internally displaced refugees and noted that you have to jump through a hoop to get new benefits in another area -- you must return to the area that turned you and your family into a refugee to ask them to take you off the role (one of the women interviewed by Buckley explained it was just too dangerous for her to return there) and then apply in your new neighborhood.

UNICEF also notes: "Approximately 1,3500 children were detained by military and police authorities, many for alleged security violations." Leila Fadel (McClatchy Newspapers) examines the realities of the US prison releases in Iraq and doesn't find 'happy' and 'pretty.' She tells the story of a woman (Leila Nasser) who sees her husband hauled away while she's six-months pregnant because he committed the 'crime' of sleeping on the roof. At least 15 months later, she waits outside the prsion for Mohammed Amin's release, waits with their one-year-old son Moubin that the father has never seen due to the 'crime' of sleeping on his home's roof. Fadel notes, "More than 25,000 Iraqis are now in US dentention facilities. The Jihad reconciliation committee of Sunni and Shiite Muslims had requested that 562 men be released. Last month, 48 people were released, but more were detained."

In other non-progress news,
Reuters reports, "Iraq's powerful Shiite Muslim leader, Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, has called for curbs on US-backed neighourhood patrol units, which are mainly Sunni, saying weapons should only be in the hands of the government. Mr Hakin, head of the biggest party in the Shiite-led government, praised the role of the patrols, known to Iraqis as 'Awakening councils', in contributing to a sharp drop in violence but said they should only play an auxillary role."

Finally, two things on the issue of the PTSD. The Army Times'
Kelly Kennedy spoke with Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez (Democracy Now!) today about her recent reporting:

JUAN GONZALEZ: Your series presents a really fascinating picture of how the medical folks who dealt with some of these soldiers, the psychologists who dealt with them, reacted to their situation, and also how the commander dealt with being faced with an actual mutiny by his troops. Could you enlighten us about that some more?
KELLY KENNEDY: Yeah, I think there's--that's one of the key differences of this war. I'm a veteran myself, and I served in Mogadishu, and I served in Desert Storm. We didn't know what PTSD was--post-traumatic stress disorder. We didn't have mental health people we could go to while we were out in the field or while we were out in battle. We didn't talk about ethics. We didn't talk about how we were feeling or how we would react professionally to certain situations. And these guys are. They're going to mental health, and they're saying, "Hey, I'm upset about this." And the mental health people are talking with the unit commanders and saying, "Hey, maybe you need to pull your guys out Adhamiya," or "Hey, maybe your guys need some more rest." And they're certainly saying, "Listen, if you think you're going to act unprofessionally, you need to do something else. You need to take care of that." And I think that's huge. I don't think a lot of people understand that that's a big difference in this war, between the last war and this war.
And the reason they do that is because early on in this war we did have situations where troops did not behave properly. In Vietnam, we certainly saw it. For these guys to stand up and say, "Listen, we're not sure we can handle it right now," could be considered very courageous, in my mind. The commander, I think, also realized that, and he said as much, that he sees the two sides of the situation.
After Bravo Company's IED went off, Charlie Company was supposed to go back out and patrol the same area. When some of the members who had been patrolling with Charlie Company before the scout platoon went as the quick reaction force to the IED attack for Bravo Company, they were struck by how much it looked like the first IED attack that--the roadside bomb attack, and they reacted as if it were their own men, and they went right to mental health and they got sleeping medications, and they basically couldn't sleep and reacted poorly.
And then, they were supposed to go out on patrol again that day. And they, as a platoon, the whole platoon--it was about forty people--said, "We're not going to do it. We can't. We're not mentally there right now." And for whatever reason, that information didn't make it up to the company commander. All he heard was, "2nd Platoon refuses to go." So he insisted that they come. They still refused. So volunteers went out to talk with them, and then he got the whole situation. In the meantime, it was called a mutiny, which is probably a bigger word than should be used for it, but that's what the battalion called it.
And eventually, what they did was they separated the platoon. They said, you know, "You guys aren't acting well together anymore, so we're going to split you up, and we're going to have you work with other platoon sergeants, other squad leaders, and see if we can turn things around this way." But they also punished them, in a sense, by flagging them and saying that they couldn't get promotions and they couldn't get their awards for two months. So there was a feeling that there had to be punishment for these soldiers refusing to go on a mission, but there was also understanding that the guys may have acted properly in this case.
AMY GOODMAN: Kelly Kennedy, I think what is so profound about this story is the refusal of the men to go out. Were there women, by the way, in this unit?
KELLY KENNEDY: No, it was all infantry.
AMY GOODMAN: The refusal of these men to go out, because they were afraid they would commit a massacre. Explain that.
KELLY KENNEDY: Yeah. They're--I need to say this: they are good guys. I mean, I saw them take care of each other. I saw them take care of Iraqis.
When the IED, the roadside bomb, went off, it was so close to one of the Iraqi police stations that they should have been able to see somebody burying that. It was right in front of somebody's house, and nobody said anything. Nobody said to these guys, "Listen, there's a bomb here. We're worried about you," even though they had been going out and patrolling and doing what they were supposed to be doing, in their minds. So when that IED went off and killed their five friends, they're in--you have to understand, they've been living together for a year like brothers in the basement of this old palace. And it's--they're right on top of each other and going out and taking care of each other on the battlefield, daily firefights. And so, they're closer probably than anyone could be. And when they lost their five men, they--I think they gave up on the Iraqi people. If the Iraqi people weren't willing to fight for them, then what was the point? And they were so angry. They just wanted to go out and take out the whole city. They didn't understand why they couldn't finish up what they call the war, and the whole idea of counterinsurgency is that you're supposed to be building relationships, but they're trying to build relationships with people who obviously aren't that concerned about them. So this idea of a massacre was just--they were just so angry, they could barely contain it anymore.

yesterday on All Things Considered (NPR), Daniel Zwerdling explored the topic of PTSD and noted the number of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan and being discharged without all their health benefits which means receiving treatment for PTSD is very dificult which is why there is a "call on the nation's leaders to declare an amnesty" and "restore full benefits to all troops who were discharged for misconduct or other behaivor after they returned from combat if they were also diagnosed with mental health problems such as PTSD." Ruth noted Zwerdling yesterday. And the December 17th snapshot contains links to the Army Times series.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Only women & countries get 'discovered'

"Of all the visible to the naked eye things, only women and countries get 'discovered'." So said C.I. when Jim got done reading Ava and C.I.'s "Ike Turner (Ava and C.I. feature)" to us Sunday.
I bring that up because I'm really pissed right now.

Jim's spent the bulk of the day researching. He's had to do that because someone is being an ASS. An e-mail came in, and it's so laughable for so many reasons (Jim read it to me), where the e-mailer (yes, a man) wanted to claim that Ava and C.I. didn't know what they were talking about in their feature article where they explained how Tina Turner announced herself in a club.
What I told Jim was, he shouldn't have wasted his time.

Not because he knew Ava and C.I. were correct (they were correct) but because how dare you write a I'm-hopping-on-my-high-horse-and-I-don't-like-gotcha-journalism bulls**t e-mail where you claim that Ava and C.I. were wrong.

They weren't wrong, ASSHOLE. They were correct. But if you're going to make that DUMB ASS claim, it's UP TO YOU to say, "They are wrong on __."

Instead it's, "That's not how I heard it and they're wrong."

They weren't wrong. C.I. would never be wrong about Tina Turner to begin with because C.I.'s know Tina for decades. But if you read their article (which maybe an ASSHOLE should consider doing before e-mailing about it), they explain it completely. Tina's sister was dating a member of Ike's band. Tina wanted to sing with Ike's band. That was passed on. Ike wasn't interested (they didn't put it in there, but, though not friends with Tina Turner, I have met her and I know this story from her) because he thought she was too "skinny" and she didn't have the larger figure that was popular in that time period. (Diana Ross made skinny popular. Tina predates Diana.)

Ava and C.I. explain the band was on a break, that her sister's boyfriend came up to her with a microphone while Ike was fooling around at the keyboard, her sister didn't want to sing and Tina grabbed the mike and started singing along with what Ike was singing. Ike stared, the audience stared and by the time she was done, Tina was a favorite.

That's not 'discovery' by Ike and if you can't get that through your FAT HEAD you're a PIG.

Only women and countries get 'discovered,' as C.I. noted.

Ike didn't want Tina on stage singing, he didn't spy her and say, "I must have her in my band!" He didn't walk down a street and hear a voice coming out of an open window.

He ignored her. She announced herself.

That's not a discovery.

As they point out, and they name the male singer, another person was supposed to sing "A Fool In Love" but he quit. The studio was booked so Tina was picked to record it. Ike didn't think it was worth releasing as is. He thought it needed a male voice. When he found a label interested in the song, finally, the label head told him that the song worked because of that vocal.

That's not Ike "discovered" Tina.

Only women and countries get 'discovered.'

You never read, as C.I. pointed out, an article on a Bob Dylan or Mick Jagger where the writer needs to note "they were discovered . . ."

Because men are considered active and conquerers. Women are supposed to be 'passive.'

Had Tina Turner been passive, she'd never have sung with Ike. (She might have sung with someone else.) She was not "discovered." She was ignored and she made herself known in public and blew the club away.

But with women there's a need for someone to plant a flag.

That's disgusting.

She is a true original. She's not a teeny booper. She is an artistic giant.

To create a "discovery" tale when it doesn't exist GOES STRAIGHT TO SEXISM.

Jim called me up because he was frustrated and angry. He'd wasted most of the day attempting to track down and pin down every detail they noted. He was able to. Everything they wrote it is true.

That some DUMB ASS wants to say, "It's not true" and not even offer what's not true or proof that it's not true is b.s. (I don't usually curse here, so if you read me fairly often, you should be able to tell that I'm enraged.)

Jim shouldn't have wasted his time. I told him that on the phone. I know why he did.

A 'name' wants to go to town on Ava and C.I.

I told him PIGGY MEN never appreciate the work of women and noted that the PIG has repeatedly gone to town on Katie Couric but never said a word about Charlie Gibson.

I am so offended right now.

"Gotcha!" journalism? Uh, no, ASSHOLE. C.I. could play "gotcha." C.I. could out people on a number of things. C.I. doesn't do that.

I'm real sorry that a DUMB ASS worships IKE TURNER and can't accept the fact that Ike Turner was HUMAN SLIME but that is reality.

Reality is not Ike was "a wife beater." The SLIME sobs that Ike's been reduced to a "wife beater." Read Ava and C.I.'s piece you damn dumb ass, Ike wasn't a WIFE BEATER. Ike BEAT A LOT OF WOMEN. He beat girlfriends, he beat mistresses . . .

The DUMB ASS cries for Ike.

Here's reality, some deaths are no great loss. I won't shed a tear when Henry Kissinger dies. By the same token, I don't cry for the likes of Ike. He abused women. WOMEN. Not one woman. He abused women.

The dumb ass wants to bring up Ike's cocaine problem. I told Jim, "Call ____ and explain you live with C.I. Tell him you need to know about when he introduced Ike to cocaine." Ike was introduced to cocaine in the late sixities. (Tempted with it because he was told it would help him keep his erection.) By that time, Ike had already spent nearly a decade beating Tina Turner.

What a DUMB ASS.

How dumb can you be and be a 'name'?

Pretty damn dumb.

Jim said, "I didn't mean to make you angry."

Jim didn't.

The DUMB ASS did.


I am so damn sick of it.

I'm doing pro bono these days and most are veterans. That's fine. I don't need the money and it's my part to help. But in the past, I have had many female patients who were the victims of domestic abuse. (It's, in fact, the reason that I do understand PTSD. Both traumas are environment-based. It's not the bombing or the beating per se that will leave you with PTSD, it's the daily experience, it's the daily nightmare.)

I take huge offense to any 'name' male coming along and using their damn, dumb name to defend a CRIMINAL.

That's what battery is, it's a crime.

I'm sorry I can't PLACE SUCH LITTLE VALUE ON WOMEN that I say, "Oh, well, Ike had his reason for beating women his entire life. Tina, the girlfriends, the mistresses, they all must have pushed his buttons."


That is basic.

There is no excuse for beating a woman. There is no excuse for making a woman live in fear. There is no excuse for telling her you will KILL HER if she leaves. There is no excuse for making a woman's life so MISERABLE that she tries TO KILL HERSELF just to be free of you.

That's who the DUMB ASS is defending.

That's disgusting.

I'm sick of the 'left' and their supposed awareness when the reality is that WOMEN ARE TREATED LIKE S**T to this day and if you don't believe it, look at the ones defending Ike Turner.

There is no defense for him. Coke didn't make Ike beat women. Ike beat women years before. Being on the 'chitlin circuit' (dumb ass's term) didn't make Ike beat women.

Right now we've got two women telling the truth about their sexual assaults. I went to Dumb Ass' organization and, golly gee, wouldn't you know it, not a word about the gang-rape of the one woman or the sexual assault of the other.

Maybe he can write in defense of the men who gang-raped and sexually assaulted.

Similarly, not a word on Abeer. Not when it mattered, not since and not today.

So spare Ava and C.I. your thoughts on what a great man Ike was because I think you're a F**KING PIG.

I swear to God, if it weren't for C.I.'s feelings (C.I. and Ava both do not know about this e-mail), I would out your ass right here so the whole world could know what a PIG you are.

Oh, you talked to Tina once. Well Dumb Ass you didn't listen or you didn't remember.

You don't know what the hell you're talking about and, again, C.I. has been friends with Tina for years. For the record, unlike Dumb Ass, C.I. didn't scribble "I hope Tina can forgive Ike."

A stranger comes up and shoots me in the parking lot, am I supposed to forgive him?

I'm not Mother Theresa and I don't think most people would expect me to forgive the man.

But somehow, because Tina was imprisoned by her attacker, she's supposed to forgive him?

How F**KED UP are you?

You are one SICK F**K, mister.

I have never told my patients, "You need to work to forgive your attacker/rapist/etc."

I don't know what that SICK F**K thinks therapy is. Maybe he thinks it's like EST?

"Somebody tried to choke you death? Hmm. Let's work on your forgiving this man."

I have never said that and would never say it.

I'm really sorry that a DUMB ASS fell in love with THE MYTH OF IKE AND TINA and can't accept the fact that his hero beat the s**t out of Tina and made her life a living hell, but that is reality. He needs to take his SICK F**K self and get some therapy real quick.

Mommy and Daddy broke up, little boy, not because they got tired but because Daddy beat the s**t out of Mommy, because Daddy put her in the hospital over and over.

Grow the hell up.

I'm trying to figure out if the man is a little older than me or a little younger?

He is around my age regardless so he is old enough to know better.

The fact that he doesn't know better worries me.

"Ike Turner (Ava and C.I. feature)" was written at Jim's request. When Ike passed, Rebecca and I were on the phone that night wondering if we should note that SCUM died? We both said we'd wait for C.I. to say something because we knew if it would make Tina uncomfortable, C.I. would just be silent.

When Jim asked them to write that feature, the first thing C.I. said was, "Tina's not talking. I'm not comfortable doing this. I'm tired and I don't want to."

Then Jim explained why he was asking for it. Not just because it was a non-Iraq feature (which it was) and that would add a 'mix' (as 20/20 would say). Not just because it was something that needed a strong response from women. He listed those reasons. He listed that if they wrote that, the rest of us could work on another feature and we'd have two done in the time for one and all be able to get some sleep. (That didn't work out that way.)

It was "no." If it's a "no" from either Ava or C.I., it's a "no." If one says "no," they both say "no."

What made it a yes was Jim saying, "Okay, let me read some of this e-mail to you."

It was from a woman whose husband beat her. No one believed her. No one helped her. Finally, she ended up in the emergency room because she was beaten more severly this time. The attending reported it. The woman left the man, filed charges. In court, the man admitted he might have 'slapped her around' a few times. But he played it off like it was no big deal despite the fact that he broke her arm the last time.

He had beaten her for five years and none of her friends, none of their friends, none of their family wanted to know about it.

He went to prison. They are divorced.

She has moved on with her life (a healthy thing to do). But there's not a month that goes by where she doesn't bump into someone in the grocery store or the mall or where ever that doesn't say to her, "You know ___ has really changed. He was always a good guy. Don't you think you need to make up?"

Hell no. Hell F**KING no. A woman who leaves does not go back and should not go back to an abuser.

These people minimize what he did to her. They saw the busted lips, the swollen eyes, the bruises, etc. They looked the other way the entire time.

When the nonsense of "Ike wasn't all bad. He had his good points too." started last week, she e-mailed The Third Estate Sunday Review. She shared what she had gone through, she shared how painful it is for her to bump into people who still minimize what happened to her, she shared how upset it made her to see Ike Turner get praise and compliments.

Jim got through about four paragraphs before C.I. said, "We'll do it."

They wrote that piece for every woman who has ever been beaten. They wrote it for the women no one defends or speaks up for.

So that a piece of S**T DUMB ASS wants to try to tear them apart is shameful. SHAMEFUL.

Of course, he goes for "they're wrong." But he won't say what they're wrong about (they're not wrong) and he obviously won't provide information that would prove they were wrong (again, they're not wrong).

Since the FILTHY PIECE OF SEWER SCUM can't grasp it, let me explain it real slow: MEN DO NOT HAVE THE RIGHT TO BEAT WOMEN.

That may be shocking to him because he is around my age and when we were growing up, it wasn't domestic abuse, it was a 'personal problem' and no one really talked about it.

There was stigma attached to it. As with rape, it was thought that the woman must have done something to cause it. Which is why many women still tell themselves, "If I do __ or don't do __, he won't get mad and he won't beat me."

He will beat you.

He will beat you because he has no respect for others.

He would like to beat men but he's too chicken s**t for that.

So he beats women to make himself feel 'big' and 'powerful.'

I have no sympathy for those who beat others. I will treat victims of domestic abuse but I am not interested in treating anyone who beats someone else.

The World Split Open is a book by Ruth Rosen (a wonderful book) and my generation really saw the world split open. The women before us had to live with a lot that is no longer socially acceptable.

Rape is not socially acceptable. Domestic abuse is not socially acceptable.

In the old days, they didn't talk about it.

They didn't talk about fathers raping their daughters either.

There were so many ways in which women were attacked, assaulted and they were all supposed to keep quiet about it and wonder what they had done to invite the attacks.

It was never about them.

It was about a weak person who couldn't handle life without 'controlling' someone and the easiest way was to beat them into submission.

I did not go into great length about this with Mike tonight, but I did say, "Don't ever highlight that asshole again."

I don't intend to.

I would worry that a woman might read it, might think he's someone to be trusted and might find out otherwise in a very painful way.

A man my age who can't admit reality about what was done to Tina Turner is a man who is rejecting all the awareness that this society has slowly gained over the last decades.

In retrospect, his little 'catty' remarks about Katie Couric now make a lot more sense.

Ava and C.I. wrote something amazing and Dona, Jim and Ty can tell you about the reaction which has been tremendous. (There have been five assholes -- all men -- who've complained.) There are hundreds of e-mails on that article. They are coming in from women who have been through something similar.

While an ASSHOLE wanted to whitewash Ike, a number of women weren't in the mood because they've lived through it and they've lived through these pathetic attempts to whitewash their abusers.

That's crap. Ava and C.I. stood up for all women with that piece and instead of griping at them or whining, dumb asses who've tried to make Ike into a 'flawed' but nice person should be ashamed of themselves.

For the record, because you spoke to Tina for one week in the eighties doesn't mean you know her. I've spoken to her many times because of C.I. I don't claim to know her. But C.I. does know her and has known her for years.

Equally true is, as Jim knew, they didn't just scribble some lines and say "Done!" They called friends and checked while they were writing.

For the record, the victims of domestic abuse deserve the sympathy -- NOT THE CRIMINALS who beat them. That this is a confusing point to some men on the 'left' goes a long way towards explaining why this society is still so screwed up.

It also goes a long way towards explaining how the 'left' could repeatedly refuse to cover the gang-rape and murder of 14-year-old Abeer by US soldiers. I guess Abeer had it coming, huh? I guess she tempted them or some other bulls**t, huh?

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Wednesday, December 19, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, sexual assault victims of American contractors tell their story, Steven D. Green finally gets a court date, Operation Happy Talk's effects are noticed and more.

Starting with war resistance. We're noting
s3nn5 video online, whic is one of the PSAs in support of war resisters in Canada, entitled "Let them stay: US war resisters in Canada (2 of 3)" and we're focused on Ryan Johnson, Jeremy Hinzman and Clifford Cornell.

Ryan Johnson: The contract, when you go to sign your contract, it's about 30 pages long. And you go, 'Okay, I want to flip through this real quick.' And the sergeant that's helping you with your contract and stuff, they say, 'No, you don't have time to read it. I'll just tell you what each page basically says that you're -- or what the contract basically says. And he just goes, 'Well the contract basically says that you're going to be signed up for four years and after that, you have four years of call-back basically -- if there's a military action we can call you back. At the end of the contract, it says that everything in this contract that we have promised, as in the army, 'can be changed at any time without your notice. And, uh, it also states in there that everything I promised is non-negoitable so I have to serve my four years no matter what.

Jeremy Hinzman: I did break a contract. I signed up for four years, I didn't stay for four years. But a contract is two ways. It's two people agreeing to certain terms and conditions and the army didn't live up to it's to its terms and conditions. It-it's not defending the Constitution of the United States . . .

Ryan Johnson: Most units, just like mine, are saying they aren't going to accept any Conscientious Objector claims. You can apply but you won't be granted.

Clifford Cornell: My first sergeant who's my higher supervisor, he got up in front of a formation and basically told us there was like two guys who applied for [CO] status. He got up there and told us those two guys who applied for it and that he didn't want anyone else to apply for it because we was going to Iraq whether we liked it or not.

Ryan Johnson: There is I think when I left there was 15 other people that went AWOL from my unit alone So I mean if you look at how many units are deploying in any given time, if there's five or fifteen or twenty from that unit that go AWOL, that's a lot of people going AWOL. Being AWOL in the States, it's impossible to do and actually like have a real life. I mean you have a choice to going back to jail or living underground for the rest of your life. That's what choices you have unless you go to Canada. That's the only other options that I know of.

The Canadian Parliament has the power to let war resisters stay in Canada. Three e-mails addresses to focus on are: Prime Minister Stephen Harper ( -- that's pm at who is with the Conservative party and these two Liberals, Stephane Dion ( -- that's Dion.S at who is the leader of the Liberal Party and Maurizio Bevilacqua ( -- that's Bevilacqua.M at who is the Liberal Party's Critic for Citizenship and Immigration. A few more can be found here at War Resisters Support Campaign. For those in the US, Courage to Resist has an online form that's very easy to use. Both War Resisters Support Campaign and Courage to Resist are calling for actions from January 24-26.

There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes 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, Eli Israel, Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Carla 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, 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. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters. In addition, VETWOW is an organization that assists those suffering from MST (Military Sexual Trauma).

IVAW is organizing a March 2008 DC event:

In 1971, over one hundred members of Vietnam Veterans Against the War gathered in Detroit to share their stories with America. Atrocities like the My Lai massacre had ignited popular opposition to the war, but political and military leaders insisted that such crimes were isolated exceptions. The members of VVAW knew differently.
Over three days in January, these soldiers testified on the systematic brutality they had seen visited upon the people of Vietnam. They called it the Winter Soldier investigation, after Thomas Paine's famous admonishing of the "summer soldier" who shirks his duty during difficult times. In a time of war and lies, the veterans who gathered in Detroit knew it was their duty to tell the truth.
Over thirty years later, we find ourselves faced with a new war. But the lies are the same. Once again, American troops are sinking into increasingly bloody occupations. Once again, war crimes in places like Haditha, Fallujah, and Abu Ghraib have turned the public against the war. Once again, politicians and generals are blaming "a few bad apples" instead of examining the military policies that have destroyed Iraq and Afghanistan.
Once again, our country needs Winter Soldiers.
In March of 2008, Iraq Veterans Against the War will gather in our nation's capital to break the silence and hold our leaders accountable for these wars. We hope you'll join us, because yours is a story that every American needs to hear.
Click here to sign a statement of support for Winter Soldier: Iraq & Afghanistan

March 13th through 15th are the dates for the Winter Soldier Iraq & Afghanistan Investigation.

Turning to the US Senate. Yesterday, Senator
Russ Feingold declared, "The issue I heard most about this year as I traveled around the state was anger over the President' war in Iraq and Congress' inability to end it. If those of us in Congree who want to end this war don't take every opportunity to push back against this administration, we will be just as responsible for keeping our troops in Iraq." The statement came on the day the issue of funding the illegal war rose again, "just days after the Senate authorized another $189 billion dollars in war funding," as Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) noted. Feingold proposed an amendment to the bill on funding (link has text and audio):

The amendment is one I have offered before and I will not hesitate, if I must, to offer again and again and again. I'd add the 17 cosponsors is the greatest number we've ever had for this amendment. It requires the President to begin safely redeploying U.S. troops from Iraq within 90 days of enactment, and requires redeployment to be completed within 9 months. At that point, with the bulk of our troops safely out of Iraq, funding for the war would be ended, with four narrow exceptions: providing security for U.S. government personnel and infrastructure; training the Iraqi Security Forces; providing training and equipment to U.S. servicemen and women to ensure their safety and security and conducting targeted operations, limited in duration and scope, against members of al Qaeda and other affiliated international terrorist organizations.
Some of my colleagues complain that we have spent too much time debating Iraq this year. They'd rather be talking about issues. Well, we have a lot of important priorities here, but nothing is more important to me or my constituents than ending this disastrous war. As I do every year, I held a townhall meeting in every county in Wisoncsin this year. That's 72 meetings, for those of you who aren't from the Badger state. I heard a lot from my constituents at these meetings about health care and education. But the number one issue I heard about was foreign affairs, particularly the war in Iraq. Let me tell you, they weren't asking why Congress is spending so much time on this issue. They weren't asking us to give the President more time for his so-called surge. Like Americans all across the country, they want an end to this war and they want to know what's stopping us.
The Senate needs to address the concerns and demands of our constitutents, who more than a year ago voted for a change in congressional leadership in large measure because of the debacle in Iraq. But we have yet to follow through and end this misguided war, before more Americans are injured and killed. And we are about to adjourn for the year and let the war drag on even longer.

Goodman noted, none of the senators who are campaigning for the Democratic Party's 2008 presidential nomination were present for the vote. (Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Chris Dodd and Barack Obama.) The vote was 24 in favor and 71 opposed with no Republican crossing over to vote in favor. Independent Bernie Sanders voted in favor of the Feingold amendment. Carl Levin, a Democrat, did not. Along with the four Democrats on the campaign trail who didn't vote, Dianne Feinstein also didn't vote. Levin proposed a toothless timetable (non-binding) which would not-demand or require troops out of Iraq in a year. CNN reports that 50 voted in favor and 45 against. Here's how the 'purpose' of the Levin amendment was worded: "To express the sense of Congress on the transition of the missions of United States Forces in Iraq to a more limited set of missions as specified by the President on September 13, 2007." Yes, it really was that weak. With both amendments stripped from the bill, the bill passed. "A critical victory," was how Manu Raju (The Hill) described it, for the White House when the vote was 70 in favor of funding and 25 against leading Raju to observes, "Ultimately, Democratic leaders declined to levy pressure on their caucus to block the latest round of unfettered Iraq money." Goodman noted it is "a $555 billion omnibus spending bill that includes another $70 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan."

What Feingold proposed was not "TROOPS HOME NOW!" and, in fact, isn't significantly different from much of what Clinton, Obama and John Edwards (not a senator anymore, he didn't miss the vote) have pushed at various times (especially Obama and Clinton). Levin's was just a joke.
He explained to the Senate that "our amendment expresses the sense of the Congress that we should have a goal for the removal of most of our forces in a reasonable time mainly as a way of telling the Iraqi leaders they must accept responsibility for their own future. Our amendment expresses the sense of the Congress. It is not legally binding, but it puts us on record, and it sends a message. It says it is the sense of" blah, blah, blah, nonsense. It didn't pass. It wouldn't have done a damn thing if it had. He wasted everyone's time with something that didn't take a stand (the amendment itself did not take a stand, I'm not referring to the vote) and something that, in his own words, was "not legally binding" because he wanted to be "on record". He's on record now. As someone who did not vote for Feingold's amendment (which would not have ended the illegal war) and as someone who is so foolish that he grandstands in the Senate with a non-proposal.

Moving over to the US House of Representatives. Today the House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security held a hearing on the sexual assaults of
Jamie Lee Johnson and Tracy Barker while working in Iraq. Barker [PDF format warning] submitted a statement to the committee where she noted that "under the direct supervision of Crystal Daniels and Byron Marcee, I was exposed to physical threats, verabl abuse, and sexually explicit conversations on a daily basis" and "[n]othing was done to resolve the sexually hostile work environment or investigate the complaints" but "[d]espite the promise of confidentiality under the HDRP" ", Kara Hall, a human resources supervisor received several of my complaints and forwarded them to Marcee and Daniels. As a result, Daniels and Marcee retaliated against me by escalating the abusive behavior and screaming at me for filing the formal complaints with human resources. After filing yet another complaint, Wesley Lane, a human resources supervisor, called me in to her office and informed that Daniels and Marcee had filed a report complaining of my job performance. While in Hall's office, I was not permitted to leave or call anyone. Lane followed me into the bathroom and watched me as I urinated. When I asked her why she was doing this she said it was to keep me from calling Houston again, or anyone else, to report the abuse. Hall then instructed me to return to my living container and remain there for three days, I was not permitted to speak with anyone, and if I was seen outside, I would be fired." Iraq or not, US corporations operate under US laws. And what Barker's describing are serious violations. She was moved to the Basra compound where "I was assigned to a shared office space with Sherman Richardson. Richardson had hung pictures of prostitutes and animals having sex with one other on his office walls and he often talked about how he took his Rest and Relaxtion time in Thailand where he would hire prostitutes. Other male employees would visit Richardson in the office to seek information on how to obtain a prostitute while on R&R." Let's be clear that this is paid for with US tax dollars. The work environment that wouldn't be allowed in the US (and shouldn't have been allowed in Iraq) was paid for with US tax dollars. Basra Camp contained no HR personnel and she took her complaints to the camp manager Craig Grabien who 'dealt' with them apparently by sexually harassing Barker "on a daily basis by insisting that I sleep with him because he was camp manager and he could provide benefits in exchange for sexual favors." Complaining to the hotline did not good and, in fact, only caused Grabien to increase his sexual harassment. Barker explains the physical assualt by an employee (still an employee) of the US State Department: "On June 23, 2005, I accompanied U.S. Department of State employee, Ali Mokhtare, to his living quarters to complete a work order for an alleged faulty air conditioner and to discuss employment opportunities within the U.S. State Dept. Once we arrived, Mokhtare said the air conditioner was working fine. I immediately felt uncomfortable expressed that I was going to leave. Mokhtare said he wanted to explain the war to me and a story about a 'Filipino woman.' As Mokhtare began to talk about the war, he poured two drinks of Jack Daniels and Coke and offered me one. I declined but eventually took the drink in my hand anyway. Mokhtare then began to talk about a Filipino woman in Saudi Arabia who was repeatedly raped by a prince, and although she reported it to the police, no one believed her and the prince continued to rape her. Finally, the woman became so distraught she committed suicide by jumping out of a window. In the midst of telling this story, Mokhtare grabbed my breasts and tried to kiss me on the mouth. I screamed 'No!' and escaped Mokhtare's hold and began to run toward the door. Mokhtare grabbed hold of me again, put his hands around my throat and tried to force his lips on my mouth and against the back of my hand; I pushed him away, escaped his hold, and ran from the living quarters. Mokhtare followed after me screaming in Arabic as I ran in the direction of my living quaters." Barker immediately reported the assualt and was told, by Grabien, that the State Dept's Diplomatic Security would investigate. Barker turned over a statement to them and asked for protection but was told by Grabien and the State Dept's Brian Hathaway "to just avoid Mokhtara." Barker explains that when Mokhtare was interviewed, he initally refused to talk but opened up in a second interview with the State Dept's Diplomatic Security: "During the interview, Mokhtare admitted to the agents he inappropriately grabbed my breast and attempted to kiss me. He also admitted to telling me the story of a Filipino woman who was raped by a prince in Saudi Arabia. Mokhtare's story was exactly as I had explaiend to agent Hathaway, he even goes so far as to admit his actions were 'inappropriate' and he 'made a mistake'." He committed assault and he damn well knew better. Barker continues: "According to the agents notes, when they confronted him about an inconsistent statement he made regarding his alcohol consumption he became agitated and angry." Now pay attention because as bad as it all is it just continues. As you pay attention remember that woman, Condi Rice, heads the State Dept. Barker explains that she brought her clothes, as ordered, worn the night of the attack (slacks, a shirt and a vest) so that Hathaway could photograph them and then Grabien stated she had to wear the outfit "the following day . . . so that Hathaway could determine whether it was sexually provocative to men." What the hell kind of a department is Condi Rice mis-running? That's Tracy Barker. Videos of the hearing are here.

Jamie Leigh Jones was gang-raped by employees of Halliburton/KRB and then held in a container to keep her from talking. "I went to support Operation Iraqi Freedom in the Green Zone in Baghdad, Iraq on July 25, 2005. Upon arrival at Camp Hope, I was assigned to an all male barrack." Though she complained, nothing was done, she was verbally harassed. On her fourth day, she was offered, by fellow employees, drinks and one told her not to worry "I saved all my Ruffies for Dubai." Jones, "I thought he was joking and felt safe with my co-workers." She was drugged, she was gang-raped. She complained to KBR and a rape kit was taken. The doctor "confirmed that I had been penetrated both vaginally and anally and that I was, quote: 'quite torn up down there'. She indicated that based upon the damages to my genitalia, it was apparent that I had been raped." Jones had to pause there before continuing, "The KBR security then took me to a trailer and locked me in a room with two armed guards outside my door. I was imprisoned in the trailer for approximately a day. One of the guards finally had mercy and let me use a phone. I called my dad who contacted Congressman Ted Poe who took actions to get me out of the country. I believe he saved my life. I was later interviewed by Halliburton-KBR supervisors and it was made clear to me that I had essentially two choices: '(1) Stay and get over it or (2) Stay with no guarantee of a job in Iraq or Houston.' Because of the severity of my injuries, I elected to go home despite the obvious threat of being fired." In the US, Jones sought treatment, physical and mental, and Halliburton required her to see a doctor whose first question was: "Are you going to sue Halliburton?" Jones explains that when asked that question, she and her mother walked out of the office. In May 2007, the State Department phones to say that there was no rape kit or photographs. When Jones insisted the kit and photos existed, a few things turned up with most of it missing. Jones explains, "I have had reconstructive surgery on my breasts and pectoral muscles due to disfigurement caused by the brutal attack. I am still waiting for a follow up surgery because I am still not back to normal." Jones noted that "there has been no prosecution after two and a half years." Nor did the State Department employee who assaulted Barker get fired. The question goes to Condi Rice who appears either totally ignorant of what's going on in her department or just doesn't care. The Justice Department's response? While the State Dept apparently gives away money with no supervious and isn't concerned about incidents that they are aware of, the Justice Dept is supposed to prosecute assaults. What do they say? They refused to attend the hearings. We're neither quoting from or linking to the nonsense that Brian A. Benczkowski (Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General) sent (via letter) to the committee. Rep John Conyers is the chair of the House Judiciary Committee.
He asked, "Does anyone in this room feel it is acceptable for an American citizen like Ms. Jones to be drugged, raped and falsely imprisoned? Does anyone think it is appropriate that almost 2 1/2 years after the incident, there has not been a single prosecution in the case? Does anybody believe it is appropriate that the DOJ victims' rights ombudsman summarily rejected Ms. Jones complaint 6 months ago, and she was not even seen by a federal prosecutor until October? This is no small matter given that there are some 180,00 civilian contractor employees in Iraq, including more than 21,000 Americans, plus additional security contractor employees. And there are other troubling reports of similar sexual assaults against contractor employees." DoJ is clearly not doing their job but, repeating, Rice's department was over the contractors and it's time Rice faced some serious questions about exactly what she sees as women's 'role' in the combat zone because by doing nothing (the two incidents took place on her watch, no doubt many took place on Colin Powell's as well) she sends a message that these assaults are tolerated.

Anna Driver (Reuters) notes Rep Ted Poe stated that, "The individuals who assaulted Jamie must be rounded up and tried. Nonfeasance by civilian contracting companies cannot be tolerated." Driver also notes that Conyers and Hillary Clinton "have called for action".

Staying with sexual violence. March 12, 2006, US soldiers carried out a criminal conspiracy to gang-rape and murder Abeer Qassim Hamza and to murder her parents, Qassim Hamza Raheem and Fakhriya Taha Muhsasen, and her five-year-old sister Hadeel Qassim Hamza. The conspiracy included blaming the War Crimes on 'insurgent.' Jane Fonda has noted (
here for video, here for text):

Abeer was a 14-old-girl, living with her family about 50 miles south of Baghdad, trying to grow up as best she could in a country ravaged by violence and war.Until March 12, 2006, when her life was cruelly cut short. On that night, five American soldiers, dressed all in black, allegedly burst into the home where Abeer lived with her family.After spending the evening drinking whiskey mixed with energy drinks and playing cards, the soldiers must have decided to execute the crime they allegedly had been planning for weeks. According to the charges, the men took turns raping 14-year-old Abeer before shooting her. In the next room, her mother, her father, and her five-year-old sister were executed. When the men were done, they drenched the bodies in kerosene and set them on fire.Then, the prosecutors say, they went back to base and grilled up some chicken wings for dinner. It was months before this crime came to light.
Robin Morgan has noted, "Abeer means 'fragance of flowers.' She was 14 years old. According to a statement by one of the accused, the soldiers first noticed her at a checkpoint. On March 12, after playing cards while slugging whisky, they canged into civvies and burst into Abeer's home. They killed her mother, father and five-year-old sister and 'took turns' raping Abeer. Finally, according to the statement, they murdered her, drenched the bodies with kerosene, and set them on fire. Then the GIs grilled chicken wings." In the Article 32 hearing in August 2006, Captain Alex Pickands noted of the War Crimes of those then still serving in the military, whose defense tried to say life is hard in Iraq and boring and golly gee, gotta blow off some steam,: "Murder, not war. Rape, not war. That's what we're here talking about today. Not all that business about cold food, checkpoints, personnel assignments. Cold food didn't kill that family. Personnel assignments didn't rape and murder that 14-year-old little girl." Ryan Lenz (AP) notes that four soldiers have been convicted "in one of the war's worst atrocities" and that Steven D. Green, who was not part of the US military when the crimes became known having already discharged out, is now scheduled to be tried on "April 13, 2009, in Paducah, Ky." Lenz notes how long this has dragged on and it has. The US government issued their press release on the arrest of Green July 3, 2006. (Lenz report is also here.)

In some of today's reported violence . . . Well, only one organization really worked on that today. Want to guess which one?


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing that claimed the life of 1 police officer and left three more wounded.


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a gun battle that left three people not engaged in the battle injured.


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 1 corpse discovered in Baghdad.

Meanwhile, the
Center for Constitutional Rights is representing over 250 Iraqi "torture victims". Attorney Susan Burke explained to Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) today:

Well, this is actually a continuation of a lawsuit that we previously filed back in June of 2004. We had brought it as a class action after the leaking of the Taguba Report and after we had been approached by some of the victims of the Abu Ghraib torture.
And one thing I would point out is that this--CACI's conduct in this instance--CACI employees were directly involved in torturing prisoners. This is information that's known. It's information that is known to the Department of Justice. Yet, there have not been any criminal prosecutions. So when you think about the passage of time here, you have to ask: why have there been no criminal prosecutions? It's very troubling, and it's very concerning that our civil action is the only current mechanism for accountability for the private participation in the Abu Ghraib scandal. The other comment I would make is that there's a perception that it was just the Abu Ghraib scandal and that that's the only place where the torture occurred. You know, sadly, that's just not true. The same type of conduct was happening elsewhere. People were being mistreated in other facilities. And again, CACI was not in all of the facilities, but they were in a substantial number, and their employees participated.

Burke was also on to discuss with Goodman the lawsuit against the mercenary company Blackwater:

AMY GOODMAN: Explain this latest suit.
SUSAN BURKE: This is a lawsuit on behalf of the family of Ali Abbas [phon.]. This gentleman was a rug merchant, and he was gunned down for absolutely no reason, leaving behind a twenty-day-old baby daughter and family. It is again another instance in which Blackwater shooters, you know, shot first, asked questions later.
AMY GOODMAN: Explain exactly what you understand transpired on September 9.
SUSAN BURKE: What happened is that Blackwater was driving through an area and began to engage in fire. This particular gentleman was inside his rug store. He had just put his fifteen-year-old younger brother in the cab to go home. Hearing the shooting outside, he walked outside, concerned about his younger brother, because he heard the shots. So he walks out of the rug store and gets shot and killed.
AMY GOODMAN: And how did you learn about this?
SUSAN BURKE: We learned about this from the family members. What happened is, as you know, we have--we represent a fair number of Iraqis in a separate suit, so we do have offices over in Baghdad. We were approached by the family of this victim to try to bring some form of accountability to Blackwater.

On the September 16th slaughter, Democracy Now!, in a broadcast exclusive, also broadcast of footage of one witness being interviewed:

ALI KHALAF SALMAN: [translated] OK, he said: They stopped in a semicircle.


ALI KHALAF SALMAN: [translated] The cars. One was right here, and one here, one here, one here, in a semicircle.
SUSAN BURKE: So all four were in the actual round part of the square?

ALI KHALAF SALMAN: [translated] Yes, yes. OK, he said: The man in the third car started firing his gun towards this direction, the Yarmouk direction, and he fired three to four shots randomly.
SUSAN BURKE: What did that man look like?
ALI KHALAF SALMAN: [translated] He was big, big mustache.
SUSAN BURKE: Mustache. Strong.

ALI KHALAF SALMAN: [translated] He was white. He said: Actually, he was facing the convoy. When he started shooting, I turned my back to see if there are anybody moved from the traffic towards the--he was trying to make sure that nobody was moving, actually.

SUSAN BURKE: So he turned to see if a movement had provoked the shooting?

ALI KHALAF SALMAN: [translated] Yes, exactly.


ALI KHALAF SALMAN: [translated] As you just said, he thought that he was shooting above the car level, but when he turned his face towards traffic, he heard this woman crying, "My son! My son!" And then he ran into that direction, and he saw her son, who was a medical student. He was all covered in blood. He said he went--when he heard the woman crying, he went towards that direction, and he tried to help the medical student who was covered in blood, help him out of the car. But the mother inside was holding tight to her son. And he raised his hand to stop--
SUSAN BURKE: Stop the shooting.

ALI KHALAF SALMAN: [translated] Stop the shooting. He was telling them, "Don't shoot, please." He said, while he raised his hand and asking them not to shoot, this time the man in the fourth car shot the mother dead. A machine gun. He said, the car was number four in line. And then, when the person in car number four, a security man, started shooting, he shot the mother dead. And the cars in front of this car, the civilian cars, actually, they spread around to the sides. I think they were scared.
And he said the doctor's car was an automatic car. Because he died behind the wheel, the car started moving by itself, because it was an automatic car, towards the square. And at this moment, they started shooting the car with big machine guns, and the car exploded.
Finally, Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism notes the effects of Operation Happy Talk. As Iraq has fallen off the radar, surprise, surprise, more people think the illegal war is going well.
PEW's summary of the findings:For years, public views of the war in Iraq were increasingly negative and seemingly unlikely to change direction. But as the troop surge resulted in lower levels of violence in Iraq, public perceptions of the war improved markedly. In November, 48% of Americans said things were going very or fairly well in Iraq, up 18 points from February. However, improved public impressions of the Iraq did nothing to lift war support: 54% favored bringing the troops home as soon as possible, a proportion largely unchanged from earlier in the year.
The November 28th "
Iraq snapshot" addressed the Project for Excellence in Journalism's [PDF format warning] "Journalists in Iraq: A survey of reporters on the front lines" and noted:In other findings, 62 percent say that their "editors back home" have lost interest in reports of day-to-day violence (no kidding) and the only significant increases have been in reports on contractors (79%) and "U.S. military strategy" (67%). The respondents rated the "Impact on Iraqi civilians" as the most under reported (40%) while the respondents rated "U.S. Military strategy" as the most over reported (29%).When the press loses interest (and when reporters internatlize the tastes of their bosses), reality doesn't stand much of a chance. While the violence didn't disappear, while things are not 'better' and even the myth of the Great Return has fallen apart, how are most Americans supposed to know that when the bulk of All Things Media Big and Small won't cover Iraq?

jeremy hinzman