Friday, February 23, 2007

Medea Benjamin, Stephen S. Pearcy

What a wonderful start to the weekend. Rebecca, Flyboy, Mike and I had a great, relaxing dinner at a place that wasn't too loud and everything, including the food, was just right. Now we're back at Rebecca's and listening to music. I feel like I'm still in college tonight. I've never outgrown my love of music. I could live without a TV (and rarely turn it on at my place) but I could never live without music.

Mike said that when he blogged tonight, he mentioned I was mad at him. I am because C.I. was supposed to be resting this week and instead ended up speaking in Florida. Mike knew and didn't tell me. Could I have stopped it? No. Rebecca was making light of it tonight and pointing out that I was always the mother hen in college. But that's not really it. When C.I. had the "cancer scare" (I'm using the term C.I.'s used publicly), I don't know if I would have even been informed about that. Seriously, Kat got my phone number from Rebecca. She'd called Rebecca to tell her, "You need to get out here." Then she asked for my phone number. I knew who Kat was. From her reviews, obviously, but also, when she and C.I. became friends, I'd hear about her from C.I. But we'd never spoken. I was really grateful to Kat for calling me. But I mean, that's what I felt with the Florida trip. C.I. is sick (strep throat) and, no, my griping wouldn't have stopped the trip but I would've known what was going on. What's done is done, so . . .

One of the CDs we'll be listening to shortly (we've loaded the CD player with a ton) is The Who's Endless Wire which Kat's thinking about reviewing. She called me this week to ask what I thought of it? I told her I hadn't purchased it yet. I was a huge fan of the Who -- all the way through "You Better, You Better, You Bet." I just wasn't up for a CD I was going to hate. Kat said she thought I'd like it. She's not sure whether she's got a review for it though. So today, on the way out here, we stopped and I ran and grabbed a copy. I'm very curious what it's going to sound like. Kat said "Track two is going to be your favorite." That's a song called "A Man In A Purple Dress." Oooo-kay?

"Italian Women Lead Grassroots Campaign Against US Military Base" (Medea Benjamin, Common Dreams):
"E noi che siamo donne, paura non abbiamo La base non vogliamo, la base non vogliamo."
And we who are women are not afraid We don't want the base, we don't want the base.
The women singing and chanting at the head of the massive march on February 17 in the picturesque Italian town of Vicenza have been fighting to stop a U.S. military base from being built in their community. Cinzia Bottene, a housewife who has become the public face of the movement, was ecstatic with the turnout for the march, estimated by the police at 80,000 and by the organizers at 200,000. "We've never had anything like this before in the history of Vicenza. There were more people marching with us than the total population. The government, both nationally and locally, will no longer be able to ignore us."
Unlike campaigns organized by activists or political parties, this movement sprang from the community itself. The main organizers are Italian women, many of them housewives who were outraged when they learned that a US military base would be built on the site of an old airfield called Dal Molin. The old airfield, which is now a green space, is right next to their homes and is less than two miles from the city's historic center.
"The military base will bring more traffic, more noise, more air pollution," complained Cinzia. "You see how beautiful our city is? A new base will put a strain on our infrastructure, our services, our resources. It will destroy our community."
The people of Vicenza take great pride in their city, which was declared a world heritage site by UNESCO in 1994 because of the number of buildings designed by the famous 16th-century architect Andrea Palladio. The military base would be less than a mile from Palladio's ancient church in the Piazza dei Signori.
Many residents also worry that the new base will make Vicenza a target for a terrorist attack. "With the Bush policies causing so much resentment in the world, such a large base could get us caught up in Bush's wars," said Vicenza resident Anna Faggi.
Vicenza already houses the US military base called Ederle, which has about 2,900 active duty military personnel. With the new base at the Dal Molin airport, the 173rd Airborne Brigade, a rapid reaction unit now spread between Italy and Germany, would be united. (Paratroopers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade were among the first troops involved in the Iraq war.) The combined force would bring the number of US military in Vicenza close to 5,000. Construction is scheduled to begin later this year and to be completed by 2011 at a cost of $576 million.

I just enjoyed the above. The power of people, in this case, women, always amazes me and gives me hope. Don't we need some hope this week? Especially after seeing how the mainstream media chose to play the rape stories? If you missed it, C.I.'s "MSM cover rape? Against their will!" and "Other Items" are only the latest this week. C.I. has hit hard on this issue and it just reminds me of why we are all saying, "You need to start a site!" Trina told me about a laughable attempt done by "the girls" -- where they got it wrong about who confessed this week (Cortez confessed, Barker confessed last year) and gave a "shout out" to a friend (who Trina said wrote about it even worse than "the girls"). I don't know if it's that nobody else could "own" a story like this because C.I. would honestly drop it and comment on other things while highlighting strong writing by whomever was covering the rapes. That's how C.I. is. If someone else can grab it, let them and then it can be covered with highlights. But when it comes to an issue like rape, C.I. knows damn well how that's going to get ignored. Trina said "the girls" covered it once -- once out of multi-posts all week -- and then only on Thursday. Oh, those little girls. Damaging feminism with all their goofy little nonsense -- a slam at Eve Ensler here, a carping about a photo in Ms. there, and always letting their hormones do the talking as if a sex drive needs to be proven at this late date. You go, little mudflap girls! (That was sarcasm.) Hey, remember when the Little Mudflap Girls were all in a tizzy that Newsweek owed Susan Faludi an apology? That was funny, right? Considering that Faludi had worked for Newsweek post-Backlash. What were they supposed to apologize for? Newsweek: "Susan Faludi, we're sorry that you caught our big lie and called us out on it in Backlash." (Ava and C.I. addressed that embarrassing moment in "Third Estate Sunday Review: TV commentary: About the women.") Oh, the Little Mudflap Girls, making the world safe for their fellow mental midgets everywhere. Now if they could have stopped talking clothes and pop culture long enough this week to act their actual age, they might have been able to hit hard on the rapes and really make a difference. If anyone's feeling sorry for the Little Mudflap Girls that play at feminism, well too damn bad. I'm sick of the chicken shit cowards, the same ones who were e-mailing Rebecca begging her to speak out, begging her to link to them ("and we'll link to you too!") but then too cowardly to do so week after week. I pulled their link when I filled in for Rebecca in the summer of 2005 and that was the thing that made me happiest the first two weeks I was filling in for her.

"If Bush is a War Criminal, Then What About the Troops" (Stephen S. Pearcy):
In addition to holding George Bush and U.S. Congress accountable for the illegal occupation of Iraq, American troops must also be prepared to accept responsibility, because we're all presumed to know the law. If we accept that fundamental legal presumption, then those of us who claim that the war is illegal must also acknowledge that the troops are unexcused aiders and abettors.
Lt. Ehren Watada's case is a good example. Watada's position is that he has a duty to refuse orders to deploy to Iraq, because those orders effectively command him to pursue an illegal war. Watada correctly understands that obeying those orders could subject him to war crimes charges under a more just administration (which should try George Bush first).
Publicly available information about the Iraq invasion has become plentiful over the last several years. Reasonable people contemplating service in the U.S. military should know that people throughout the world regard participation in the occupation as tantamount to aiding and abetting in mass murder, fraud, human rights violations, and international war crimes. By now, all of the troops should recognize this, and ignorance is no excuse.

I was just reminded that I was the one suggesting we keep it short tonight. So I'll just urge you to use the link and read the piece in full.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Friday, February 23, 2007. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, the military demonstrates that "justice" is still a joke to them despite one sex scandal after another, the press is all over the crying rapist, Turkey voices its opposition to partitioning Iraq, and Antonia Juhasz and Kris Welch address the topic of the push to privatize Iraq's oil.

Starting with war resisters.
Yesterday, Mark Wilkerson was court-martialed at Fort Lewis in Texas and sentenced to seven months in a military prison and given a bad conduct discharge. Jim Bergamo (KVUE) reports that Wilkerson's mother, wife and brother were sitting behind him during the hearing and that "it was his good behavior in that first tour of duty and after he returned to his unit in August of last year that helped sway the judge to sentence him to only seven months in jail and give him a bad conduct discharge" while his attorney Michael Duncan told Bergamo that "in a general court-martial, no confinement is very rare". Angela K. Brown (AP) reports that Rebecca Barker, his mother, testified about the home life: "Barker said that in 1996 her estranged husband -- who had adopted Mark as a child -- broke into their house, fatally beat her friend with a baseball bat and then beat her before Mark, then 12, intervened and ran for help. Her husband committed suicide before his murder trial."

In other war resister news,
El Universal reports that Agustin Aguayo's mother, Susana Aguayo, appeal to the Mexican government has been heard -- "The Foreign Relations Secretariat said it would seek information on the health and legal situation of Agustin Aguayo, who faces charges of desertion and missing troop movement. . . . given Aguayo's 'nationality of origin and the fact that his relatives are Mexican, the department has ordered the Mexican Embassy in Germany to offer consular assistance, which consists of using its good offices to gather information on the health and legal situation' of Aguayo." Agustin Aguayo is scheduled to be court-martialed March 6th in Germany.

Ehren Watada, we're going to repeat two points because they are important ones.
Friday's snapshot, while noting Ehren Watada, the following appeared: "John Catalinotto (Socialist Worker) observes: 'Watada's military defense lawyer -- appointed by the Army -- Capt. Mark Kim, said that he agreed with Seitz's interpretation of military law'." That was incorrect. John Catalinotto's article appeared in Workers' World, not Socialist Worker, my apologies. This was noted Tuesday, but it is important to again stress that the military attorney, Mark Kim, is in agreement with Seitz re: double-jeopardy. Let's also repeat from yesterday: " Gregg K. Kakesako (Honolulu Star-Bulletin) reports that Eric Seitz, Watada's civilian attorney, doesn't expect a court-martial to even be possible before summer due to scheduling issues and that the military hasn't even refiled the charges for the March 19th date that Judge Toilet (John Head) was tossing around when he declared a mistrial."

Wilkerson, Aguayo and Watada are a part of a movement of resistance with the military that includes others such as
Kyle Snyder, Patrick Hart, Ivan Brobeck, Darrell Anderson, Ricky Clousing, Aidan Delgado, Joshua Key, Camilo Meija, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Corey Glass, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Tim Richard 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.

Remember how
Mark Wilkerson was sentenced to seven months in military prison? Let's turn to the reality of the joke that is military justice. Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Edwards Franklin is now a "private" and somehow that's "justice" in the snicker-snicker, dirty joke world of the US military. In a press release, the US military tells you he was busted down to private as punishment determined in his court-martial today. Punishment for? "[I]ndecent acts upon a female Private 2nd Class in the junior Soldier's room and then lying about his involvment to CID personnel. On 20 Ocotber 2006 Sgt. 1st Class Franklin followed a female Private 2nd Class into her room on LSA Anaconda. He attempted to force intimate contact upon the solider." Let's be clear because the US military tends to gloss over rape -- as does the press. What Franklin was trying to do, "force intimate contact," is what's known as attempted rape. Back to the press release: "During a CID interview and on the witness stand at trial" denied touching the woman or being in her room for more than five minutes.
And here's where the US military proves what a sad joke is: "A panel of officers and enlisted personnel, sentenced Sgt. 1st Class Franklin to reduction in grade to E-1." Wow. Aren't we all just blown away. Wilkerson's spending seven-months in a military prison and Franklin gets no jail time for attempted rape. As noted in The Third Estate Sunday Review's "
Women and the military" one in every seven US service members serving in Iraq is a woman but there's no real safety guarantees for women. Crimes aren't punished and for any who doubt it, a superior attempts to rape a woman and his "punishment" doesn't include jail time. It's all a joke or a game to the military but not even a game that includes the instruction "Go immediately to jail, do not collect 200 dollars." From The Third Estate Sunday Review feature:

Do you know the name Michael Sydney? As Cheryl Seelhoff reported in Off Our Backs (vol 35, no 2, p. 22), Sgt. Sydney was found guilty, July 2006, "of pandering, mistreating, subordinates, and obstruction of justice, smong other things, for what amounts to his having pimped women under his command. Sydney threatened to extend the tour of duty of female erservists called to active duty if they did not have sex with his superior officers." The brave US military 'justice' system did not court-martial him but they did give him a slap on the wrist: "sentence to six months in jail." Where does someone like Syndey get the idea that women in the military can be used as whores? The same attitude that Antonia expressed which renders service members as males (with wives to kiss) and women invisible.In the same edition of Off Our Backs, Allison Tobey (p. 16) noted Col Janis Karpinski's testimony that General Ricardo Sanchez issued an order barring "dehydration" being noted as cause of death on the death certificates of female service members. Why? Because, according to Karpinski, women were dying from that "because they did not drink liquids in the afternoons in an effort to avoid going to the latrines at night, where they were afrid male soldiers would rape them." Sanchez' 'solution' didn't address the problem, it hid it -- as too many 'solutions' to the abuse and mistreatment of women in the military repeatedly does.In the January 2007 edition of The Progressive,
Traci Hukill examined sexual harassment and sexual assualt in the military and cited a VA report from 2003 (lead to Congress in 2005) which found "60 percent of women and 27 percent of men had experience Military Sexual Trauma" and that it "found the prevalence of actual sexual assualt -- 'unwanted sexual conduct of a physical nature' -- to be 23 percent among female reservists."

Much is being made about Paul Cortez crying at his hearing yesterday and being sentenced to 100 years of prison time for his part in the gang rape and murder of
Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi as well as the murder of her parents and her five-year-old sister. Reality check -- BBC points out he "will be eligible to seek parole in 10 years." AFP has Cortez as his most tearful when he says: "I'm sorry I let you guys down; you guys treat me better than this." How about a few tears for the 14-year-old girl who was gang raped and murdered? The one Cortez tesified "kept screaming and tried to keep her legs closed. At no point did I think that I had consent to have sex with Abeer." CBS News notes that Cortez couldn't explain to the court "why he did it" -- well, how about he repeat the jokes and ha-has he and the others shared over beer and grilled chicken after the gang rapes and murders?

Rose French (AP) reports that Jesse Speilman's attorneys are saying that he didn't take part in the planning of the rapes and murders. They're also saying that he was under stress. More laughs should ensue April 2nd when his court-martial begins. Steven D. Green is the only one who will be tried in a civilian court. (Green has maintained his innocence. James Barker and Cortez both confessed to their own actions and named Green as the ringleader who planned it all and the one who shot all four family members dead.)

Turning to news of Bully Boy's eye on the prize,
Antonia Juhasz spoke with Kris Welch on KPFA's Living Room today about the oil law that would privatize Iraq's oil and that had Condi storming through Baghdad last weekend to apply pressure.

Welch started the discussion by citing
Juan Gonzalez (New York Daily News) article on the oil law: "Under the proposed law, Iraq's immense oil reserves would not simply be opened to foreign oil exploration, as many had expected. Amazingly, executives from those companies would actually be given seats on a new Federal Oil and Gas Council that would control all of Iraq's reserves. In other words, Chevron, ExxonMobil, British Petroleum and the other Western oil giants could end up on the board of directors of the Iraqi Federal Oil and Gas Council, while Iraq's own national oil company would become just another competitor."

"Basically it says that executives of oil companies can be on the council and it doesn't say whether or not that is foreign and/or domestic. What I find most depressing about this law is frankly the speed with which it is moving now through the Iraqi government. We, those of us who have been working globally against this push for this essentially privatization of Iraq's oil thought that we had more time and it's really been fast-tracked in Iraq and what is so depressing is that the way this law is written in my mind if it is completed and if it implemented, which we can talk about more later, US oil companies will have at least on paper won the war in Iraq

Kris Welch pointed out that the Iraq oil law is sold as being "very key to settling the increasing violence and chaos in Iraq, that who is in control of the oil is vital and it's in everyone's interest".

Juhasz: It's really American, and let me clarify that as Bush administration, propaganda that this law is the path towards stability in Iraq. It is absolutely propaganda. This law is being sold as the mechanism for helping the Iraqis determine how they will distribute their oil revenue. That is not what this law is about. That is the bottom end of an enormous hammer that is this oil law. This oil law is about foreign access to Iraq's oil and the terms by which that access will be determined. It is also about the distribution of decision making power between the central government and the region as to who has ultimate decision making power and the types of contracts that will be signed. There are powers that be within Iraq that would very much like to see that power divvied up into the regions, between the Kurds and the Shia in particular, and then there are powers that would like to see Iraq retained as a central authority. The Bush administration would like the central government of Iraq to have ultimate control over contracting decisions because it believes it has more allies in the central government than it would if it was split up into regions. The Bush administration is most concerned with getting an oil law passed now and passed quickly to take advantage of the weakness of the Iraqi government. The Iraqi government couldn't be in a weaker negotiating position and the law locks the government in to twenty to thirty-five year committments to granting the most extreme versions of exploration and production contracts to US companies or foreign companies. Meaning that foreign companies would have access to the vast majorities of Iraq's oil fields and they would own the oil under the ground --
they would control the production and they would in contracts yet to be determined get a percentage of that profit but they'd be negotiating essentially when Iraq is at its weakest when Iraq is hardly a country. And that's what this oil law is all about. What Iraqis are saying very clearly and have said to
Raed [Jarrar] and, in particular, to the loudest voices being the Iraqi oil unions is that the only people who want to see this law passed now are the Americans. There's no other reason to push that law through."

Welch and Juhasz then discussed how the government's creation (and election) influences the chances that the law could be passed which put the US administration in the position to call shots. Juhasz: "Now that influence isn't complete and that's why the law hasn't passed yet but it's been slowly and progressively making it's way through and now as you said it's passed through the cabinet or is on the verge of passing in the cabinet it would then go to the parliatment and there's great concern . . .
Raed [Jarrar] has done a monumental job of trying to inform the Iraqi parliamentarians just about the law. Until he had helped unearth the draft and help retreive it from the internet that most parliamentarians, or almost all Iraq parliamentarians haven't even seen the law."

Juhasz cited
Hands off Iraqi Oil and Oil Change International as resources for activism geared for the fourth anniversary of the start of the illegal war next month. [Thank you to Megan, Zach and Ty for noting & transcribing the above.]

Picking up on the issue of Iraq being split into regions,
KUNA reports that Abdullah Gul, Turkey's foreign minister, declared yesterday that splitting Iraq into regions or partitions would lead "bloody wars": "Why we refuse the establishment of a Kurdish state in the North of Iraq, the reason is clear, we are against the partition of Iraq because this will trigger engless wars in the region."

Meanwhile Tony Blair's claims of 'success' in Iraq are about as 'truthful' as his claims of a pullout.
Stephen Farrell, Ned Parker and Richard Beeston (Times of London) report: "Tony Blair says Iraq has made 'remarkable' progress. Clusters of red on the British Army's own maps of Basra suggest otherwise. . . . Although the initial perception of British forces in Basra was of experienced troops putting the population at ease by patrolling in berets, instead of the more aggressive posture adopted by US forces further north, the reality has varied widely from town to town."

In WOOPSIE! news,
Kim Gamel (AP) reported the US military arrested "Amar al-Hakim, son of political leader Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim" -- who had face time with Bully Boy in DC last December. CNN reports that the Zalmay Khalilzad (still US ambassador to Iraq for now) "issued an apology" for the arrest and the son has been released.

In other political news,
BBC reports that "Democrats in the US are planning a challenge to President George W Bush's handling of the war in Iraq" with the premise that the authority granted by the resolution was for set things and new things need to be set. CBS and AP report that the new resolution is still unclear but would "leave U.S. troops with a limited mission as they prepare to withdraw."

In Iraq? It's Friday. Did anyone work besides McClatchy Newspapers?


Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a child was killed in a mortar attack in the Amil neighborhood of Baghdad and five other people were injured in the attack while, in the Abu Disheer neighborhood of Baghdad, a mortar attack injured three people.


Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports "a U.S. military convoy killed one civilian and injured other two in Zafaraniya, Iraqi police said. The source said the patrol didn't stop after the shooting and the man who was killed was walking on the side road."


Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports five corpses were discovered in Baghdad.

Today, the
US military announced: "Three Soldiers assigned to Multi-National Force-West were killed Feb. 22 while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar Province."

agustin aguayo
ehren watada
antonia juhaszraed jarrar

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

"Fact" and Monica Benderman

Okay, yesterday I was not in the mood to deal with the nonsense of our white robed seer and since she'd grabbed on to a topic (badly), I figured I'd wait until the scent of decaying flowers had wafted out of the room. (I strongly objected to the peace resister pulling a quote from someone who is suffering and using it for her unearned headline.) So Dana Priest and Anne Hull wrote a three-part series on Walter Reed.

We're going to tackle the things that matter, not the easy sop that allows a little girl (a very old 'little girl') to run from daddy figure to daddy figure who tells her how 'cute' she is for summarizing the Washington Post's series. (Nice book report, did it get her a smiley face sticker?)

"Soldiers Face Neglect, Frustration At Army's Top Medical Facility" (Dana Priest and Anne Hull, Washington Post):
Behind the door of Army Spec. Jeremy Duncan's room, part of the wall is torn and hangs in the air, weighted down with black mold. When the wounded combat engineer stands in his shower and looks up, he can see the bathtub on the floor above through a rotted hole. The entire building, constructed between the world wars, often smells like greasy carry-out. Signs of neglect are everywhere: mouse droppings, belly-up cockroaches, stained carpets, cheap mattresses.
This is the world of Building 18, not the kind of place where Duncan expected to recover when he was evacuated to Walter Reed Army Medical Center from
Iraq last February with a broken neck and a shredded left ear, nearly dead from blood loss. But the old lodge, just outside the gates of the hospital and five miles up the road from the White House, has housed hundreds of maimed soldiers recuperating from injuries suffered in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

That's from one part of Priest and Hull's series. Now we're going to drop back to the liars at

Kerry suggested that Bush was being unpatriotic: “He’s cut the VA (Veterans Administration) budget and not kept faith with veterans across this country. And one of the first definitions of patriotism is keeping faith with those who wore the uniform of our country.”
It is true that Bush is not seeking as big an increase for next year as the Secretary of Veterans Affairs wanted. It is also true that the administration has tried to slow the growth of spending for veterans by not giving new benefits to some middle-income vets.
Yet even so, funding for veterans is going up twice as fast under Bush as it did under Clinton. And the number of veterans getting health benefits is going up 25% under Bush's budgets. That's hardly a cut.

Can anyone be more stupid? No, they really can't. This was among the many stupid things the LIARS of put that gave the Bully Boy cover while the veterans health care system was falling apart. Blood is on their hands because they didn't just look the other way, they covered it up.

The "cut" refers to Bully Boy's administration refusing some prescriptions and treatments to vets whom they classified "middle class." gladly agreed with that classification; however, they failed to provide those figures to the ones they were alerting. They also played dumb that a very real cut was not a cut and cutely put cut in paranethesis. If tomorrow a piece of legislation passes that says every woman with dark hair will get free doctor's visits and three weeks later the administration decides only women from a certain economic class with dark hair will get the free visits, that is a cut.

But wanted to play dumb and confuse the issue. Their behavior was shameful and borderline criminal when you get to the larger issue that they obscured: the funding for vets. They repeatedly state that (a) funding is going up faster than it did under Bill Clinton and (b) the number of veterans getting health benefits is going up 25% under Bush's budgets.

As to (a), apparently the 'scholars' at studied under Rush Limbaugh hence their need to cite Bill Clinton as a comparison. How many wars did Bill Clinton have the United States in? I'm not talking NATO forces or the UN, I'm talking wars where it was the United States military carrying the bulk of weight?

Are you remembering any? Are you remembering any that dragged on year after year?

Bully Boy increased health benefits 25%. That might be impressive if he had not started two large scale wars -- one in Iraq, one in Afghanistan. 25% really doesn't cover that. That didn't take a number cruncher, it was obvious to the human eye.

It was certainly obvious to me and anyone else in the health care field. The 25% increase was not covering the needs of the returning wounded. That's just the wounded, that's not the ones returning with non-visible wounds, internal wounds that may or may not be addressed.

What's happened at Walter Reed is only shocking because liars like gave the Bully Boy cover. They lied to everyone, pretending that two major wars could be fought with only a 25% increase. Everyone at should be down on their knees scrubbing the floors and walls of Walter Reed on their own time to attone for what they did for this was not a mistake, this was a deliberate lie. If wasn't a deliberate lie then they have no business ever 'analyzing' anything again because only a fool would have thought two major, ongoing wars could be fought with only a 25% increase in funding for veterans.

That 25% did not focus on the returning, it was spread out to cover all the veterans. The administration never lived up to its obligations which is why many of us give our services pro bono today.

"America, Where Are You Now?" (Monica Benderman, CounterPunch):
He was old school.
Wearing nothing but a simple button-down shirt and blue jeans he walked to the back of the café and sat at a chair in the corner. He ordered a home-style meal and ate quietly, watching the patrons who passed through the doorways of the family-run eatery, subtle nods the only form of recognition needed. He noticed it all and said nothing.
The street that fronted this well-worn establishment was hometown for generations of children growing older as they walked past the never-changing storefronts with telltale signs of a habitual life clinging to the window sills and walls behind the cash registers that had seen the dollar bill become a dollar coin.
At the end of the sidewalk, just before it turned sharply to the left into an abandoned lot that once housed the local lawnmower repair shop, stood a monument to the veterans of wars meant to secure the lifestyles of this and all other small town communities which had sent their finest to defend their nation's honor. Monthly meetings of the local VFW troop meant a changing of the fresh flower wreaths that adorned the granite rock bearing the names of local heroes who gave their lives for a worthy cause.

Monica Benderman is the wife of Kevin Benderman. Both stood up to an illegal war. Kevin was wrongly imprisoned for it and even that didn't make him back down. I've noted before that Monica Benderman's courage stood out, for me, that really did stand out. But reading this reminded me of something I'd forgotten. When she was single-handedly keeping Kevin's name out there, she didn't always go with one style or one manner of writing. She would mix it up and you really have to if you're trying to reach people. The same way of saying thing will not get across to everyone.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Wednesday, February 21, 2007. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, Mr. Tony soaks up headlines with his non-statements, Abeer was gang raped but the same press that couldn't mention her name appears too delicate to use the word "gang rape" (one wire report even uses "assault" to avoid the term "rape" -- such shy maidens), the Black Hawk was shot down and it takes the US military the better part of a daily news cycle to come forward with that information, and rape may be the thing that finally gets the puppet pulled from Baghdad as he continues to botch things up.

Starting with Mr. Tony. Tony Blair, Bully Boy's lapdog and personal poodle, was hailed during a mini-news cycle for his talk of bringing British troops home. Now the bloom is off the rose as reality sets in.
AFP and Reuters report that 5,500 British troops will remain in Iraq, as Mr. Tony puts it, "for as long as we are needed." Mr. Tony had hoped to use the slight withdrawal as the staging for a series of victory laps as he prepares to step down as prime minister but, as with his earlier plans of how to get slavish praise from the press, it didn't turn out quite the way he wanted. Mark Rice-Oxley and Dan Murphy (Christian Science Monitor) note that it's only a 25% withdrawal of British forces from Iraq.

Interviewed by Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) today, Tony Benn cut through Mr. Tony's nonsense noting that "there wasn't really any change. But Blair is due to retire in a matter of weeks. And I'm afraid, I suspect, that this is a gimmick at this stage, so that he can claim that the mission is being accomplished and, therefore, the troops can be withdrawn. And on the question of Iran, he repeated ominous warnings. So I don't think too much will be read into this." Amy Goodman noted: "Here you have Tony Blair just moments ago making this announcement in the House of Commons. Then you have Cheney speaking on an aircraft carrier near Tokyo, saying the American people will not support a policy of retreat."

Goodman was referring to Cheney's attempt to shore up the support of the Japanese government in a little trip that
Brendan Murray (Bloomberg News) reports didn't turn into a love-fest what with the embassy 'greeting' of "Yankee Go Home" blared over a speaker as he arrived and the lies and fear he has to resort to in order to get even a sliver of copy. Pulling from his bag of tricks, Dick -- who avoided Vietnam -- is using the same if-we-leave-they-will-come-after-us. Now that didn't frighten Dickie enough to enlist during Vietnam but he obviously thinks the American people are stupider than he is (prolonged exposure to the Bully Boy will make one feel smarter). As for the retreat, perhaps it's time polls started asking "Should Cheney and Bully Boy announce a retreat from their war" because that is how many Americans see this illegal war. Murray notes 63% of Americans now favor US forces pulling out of Iraq.

Though Cheney attempts to scare up support for the war and put the blame for inept leadership on the backs of the American people,
Sharon Smith (CounterPunch) voices the reality that more Americans are coming around to: "The Iraq war marks the first major war in the last century fought in the interests of America's ruling elite without even the pretense of 'shared sacrifice.' During the First World War, the tax rate for top income earners stood at 77 percent; during the Second World War, at 94 percent. Even during Vietnam, the wealthiest taxpayers faced a rate of 70 percent on personal income. Yet, as the bloodletting in Iraq has been proven a war for nothing more than U.S. control over Middle Eastern oil, the corporate class continues to enjoy an income tax rate that has been capped at only 35 percent since 2003 -- the year the U.S. invaded Iraq. Bush's plan to permanently extend these tax cuts, which are set to expire in 2010 would cost an estimated $211 billion in 2012 and $1.6 trillion over the next decade. Added to their profit windfalls and soaring executive salaries, the corporate class has every reason to celebrate. Bush's budget makes clear that the growing numbers of economically disadvantaged Americans -- already supplying the cannon fodder to kill and die in Iraq and Afghanistan -- must also continue to shoulder the suffocating financial burden for U.S. imperialism's twenty-first centruy follies.Bush's budget proposal brazenly takes aim at veterans themselves, nearly doubling their out-of-pocket fees from $8 to $15 for prescription medications when they return home from a war zone battered and traumatized, and often looking for work. In this war, only the working class is expected to sacrifice."

Smith's statements are echoed in the AP data
Kimberly Hefling (AP) reported on yesterday which found that those Americans paying the costs with their own lives tend to come from small, rural communities "where the per capita income was below the national average. More than half came from towns where the percentage of people living in poverty topped the national average."

Meanwhile, speaking with Jason Farbman and Darrin Hoop (Socialist Worker), US war resister
Darrell Anderson explains why he decided to return to the US and turn himself in,
"I felt that I had to go to jail and stand with these other resisters. There's nothing more powerful than soldiers who have been to Iraq saying that it's wrong, and we're not going to do it again. That's where I believe the heart of the movement is -- in these 20 or 30 or 40 of us who resisted now. . . . When I turned myself in, they gave me a piece of paper that asked why I'd gone AWOL. I said because I'm a combat veteran, I have post-traumatic stress, and the war is wrong. Basically, I said that I dare you to put my uniform on me, put my Purple Heart on me and send me to prison so people can see that we're going to jail." On the topic of
Ehren Watada and court-martials, Anderson declares: "These court-martials are the front line of where we're fighting the war. This needs to be the focus for the antiwar movement -- Watada and all the war resisters. We need more soldiers like Watada, and more soldiers who come back from Iraq and say, 'I'm a veteran, I watched my buddies die in Iraq, and now I'm going to jail because I won't do it anymore."

Agustin Aguayo is set for a March 6th court-martial in Germany. Eric Ruder (Socialist Worker) speaks to Helga Aguayo, Agustin's wife, who tells him: "One of the care packages sent to the soldiers was a book on the history of Iraq. He said that it really changed what he believed, I mean he was a conscientious objector, he believed that killing was wrong, but after reading that book he realized that the war in Iraq has essentially been created for the personal gain of a few people. What he told me was that for a few corporations, it's in their best interests to keep the chaos going in Iraq. And he just came to believe that killing is wrong, but this war is wrong, too, because it's all motivated by money."

Anderson, Aguayo and Watada are a part of a movement of resistance with the military that includes others such as
Kyle Snyder, Patrick Hart, Ivan Brobeck, Mark Wilkerson, Ricky Clousing, Aidan Delgado, Joshua Key, Camilo Meija, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Corey Glass, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Tim Richard 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.


Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports the following bombings in Baghdad, a roadside bomb on Al Jadiria Bridge that killed one police officer and left three more wounded, a parked car bomb that killed two civilians left seven wounded and 25 poisoned from bottles of Chlroine gas that were in the car, a parked car bomb in Sadr city that took 3 lives and left five more wounded, a mortar attack that wounded 2 police officers near a bus station, a mortar attack the killed three people and left ten wounded. Reuters notes a mortar attack that "wounded four children in Adil district in western Baghdad." Outside of Baghdad, Reuters notes 11 people dead 38 wounded in Najaf from a car bomb. Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports: "Diyala - Mortar shelling targeted Al Abara town north of Baqouba. The shelling claimed the life of one resident and injured other three. - A security source in Baladrouz city (45 Km east of Baqouba) said that men in Iraqi military uniforms raided the houses of Al Shah town (6 km from Baladrouz) and executed 17 men." And AFP reports: "In the flashpoint northern city of Kirkuk, a hub of Iraq's oil industry that is disputed by Kurds and Arabs, a car bomb and two booby-traps exploded in Kurdish areas, wounding 19 people, police Captain Imad Jassim told AFP


Reuters reports seven corpses discovered in western Baghdad today and, on Tuesday, 25 discovered in Baghdad, 8 in Mosul.

Today, the
US military announced: " A Marine assigned to Multi-National Force-West was killed Feb. 20 while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar Province." And they announced: "On Feb. 20, an MND-B unit was conducting a clearing operation in order to search a residential area and reduce the levels of violence in a northern urban district of the Iraqi capital when they received small arms fire, killing one Soldier."

In other US military news do the paid flacks enjoy spinning? Do they ever get tired of egg on their face? The day began with news of a Black Hawk having a "hard landing" north of Baghdad. It's a crash. It's not a "hard landing." Later in the day, the
US military released this statement: "A U.S. Army UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter went down today north of Baghdad while conducting operations." Still later, CBS and AP reported: "A U.S. helicopter that crashed Wednesday north of Baghdad was shot down, the military said, reversing its initial statement that the chopper made a 'hard landing.' Military spokesman Lt. Col. Christopher Garver said all the occupants were safely evacuated by a second helicopter." Nine people on board and the military didn't know from the start what happened?

Turning to the topic of rape, we'll start with
Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi. Andrea Hopkins (Reuters) reports on Paul Cortez confession ("broke down in tears as he described how he and others planned the rape of a 14-year-old Iraqi girl, murdered along with her family") that those paying attention in November already knew of when James P. Barker confessed -- gang rape of Abeer, she's then shot dead, kerosene is poured on her body as they try to burn her body and hide the evidence of their crimes, etc. Hopkins "While we were playing cards Barker and Green started talking about having sex with an Iraq female" -- only rape isn't "sex," is it? -- "Barker and Green had already known" where Abeer, 14-years-old, lived "what house they wanted to go to . . . knew only one male was in the house, and knew it would be an easy target."

Now let's remember that
Carolyn Marshall and Robert F. Worth of the New York Times worked overtime to cover up what happened -- the paper even refused to print Abeer's name or a photo of her, USA Today was able to locate photos of her and her family -- but the Times was far from alone. Those brave voices sat the summer out. Scolds online tried to intimidate people into even discussing the case with b.s. about "Don't you dare call them baby killers!" We never called the gang rapists of Abeer 'baby killers' -- apparently someone had slapped their bumper stickers across their brains. What they did do was murder two parents, a 14-year-old and a 5-year-old. Cortez, confronted with evidence and the confession of Barker wants to blubber in court -- he should and it doesn't change the fact that they stalked Abeer, they planned to rape her and he can kid that it was "sex" all he wants but it was gang rape.

Let's repeat that because the press seems to have a really hard time doing so: GANG RAPE. Three men taking turns raping a female is GANG RAPE. It's not just rape -- as bad as rape is -- it's GANG RAPE. Abeer was gang raped and while she was being gang raped she could hear the gun going off as her parents and her sister were shot dead. Barker and Cortez both say that Steven D. Green killed the three, then he joined them in the living room where he raped Abeer and then shot her dead. Green will get to offer his version in a civilian court.

But a 14-year-old girl was gang raped and murdered, while she was being gang raped she heard her own parents and her five-year-old sister being murdered. And all the little enablers from May to now, the ones who helped shut this story down, need to step into the real world and own up to the fact that despite their denials and their silences, Abeer was gang raped and murdered by US soldiers. In retaliation, US soldiers who had nothing to do with the gang rapes were killed. But for some of the big babies (and this includes the Big Babies of the left) it was more important to live in denial than to acknowledge what happened to Abeer.

Cortez states of his part in the gang rape, "She kept squirming and trying to keep her legs closed and saying stuff in Arabic. During the time me and Barker were raping Abeer, I heard five or six gunshots that came from the bedroom. After Barker was done, Green came out of the bedroom and said that he had killed them all, that all of them were dead. Green then placed himself between Abeer's legs to rape her". Somehow the report leaves out the drinking before and after, the changing of clothes after, the grilling of chicken breasts and the party atmosphere that followed these crimes. Hopkins tells you he was tearful. So was Abeer back when she could still cry.

As CNN reported during the August Article 32 hearing, Captain Alex Pickands' closing remarks included: "
They gathered over cards and booze to come up with a plan to rape and murder that little girl. She was young and attractive. They knew where she was because they had seen her on a previous patrol. She was close. She was vulnerable." It's really amazing that these war crimes received a stronger rebuke from the military than they did from much of the so-called left press.

Meanwhile the Iraqi government is much more involved in the allegations of another rape. As noted yesterday, a 20-year-old woman told Al Jazeera that she was detained by a Shia militia and gang raped. Recapping, Nouri al-Maliki voiced some of the same strong statements he made when Abeer was in the news last year. However, he backed off even quicker. After promising a full investigation, he then issued a statement calling the woman a liar, saying she would be charged criminally, and denying that anything had happened. The US press still can't report what the European press reported yesterday -- that Omar Jaburi maintains an "initial hospital report confirmed what she has said." However,
Marc Santora (New York Times) reports: "A nurse who said she treated the woman after the attack said that she saw signs of sexual and physical assault. The woman, according to the nurse, could identify one of her attackers because he was not wearing a mask, as were the others, and could identify a second attacker by a mark on his genitals."

This as
Hamza Hendawi (AP) reports that Nouri al-Mailiki has fired the head of the Sunni Endowments, Abdul-Ghafour al-Samaraie, for calling "for an international investigation into the rape allegations leveled by a Sunni Arab woman against three members of the Shiite- dominated security forces." CBS and AP report that Willie Caldwell, Giddiest Gabor in the Green Zone, has confirmed that the US military took the woman to a hospital but says that patient privacy prevents him from adding much more. They also note a 'report' al-Maliki faxed to the media which is one page of a three page report that has no name on it and appears to prove nothing. al-Maliki has been teetering for months with many of his US handlers eager to dump him. The way he's botched this incident makes that very easy to do so now.

iraqehren watadaamy goodmandemocracy nowagustin aguayo

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Slowly back into the swing of things

resolution The illustration is Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "The Same Old Song" and I wanted to note it early on in the week plus it's a good starting point for a question about Betty's "Blame it on Betinna" which went up Saturday morning and prompted two e-mails asking if Betty was copying/influenced by me? Not at all. I opened my Friday night entry with the "blame it on" thing for the same reason Betty did, we both had called C.I. and Elvis Costello was on the stereo in the background ("Blame It On Cain"). I knew that's why I went with it but I call Betty to make sure and she said, "I hadn't even thought about it, but, yeah, that song was playing over and over in the background."

Another piece of writing worth noting is "Ruth's Report" which went on Monday night and finds Ruth exploring the realities of Air America Radio. She actually phoned me while she was working on that but I wasn't much help. She was attempting to figure out which day it was that I was kind-of, sort-of yelled at on air during Unfiltered -- they yelled at the wrong person, they meant to yell at me -- but I honestly can't remember what day. I told her Rebecca would probably know because she was furious and blogged about it in real time at her site. But it was late (so late that I was surprised Ruth was still up) and she didn't want to risk waking Rebecca and Flyboy. I think Ruth's compiled some amazing information and some amazing critiques in addition to adding her own wonderful critique to the mix.

"How to be a Washington Expert" (Werther, CounterPunch):
In the 1990s, as a political gunslinger no longer employed by the government, Ms. Toensing fell naturally into the well-worn groove of becoming a pseudo-expert: an ostensibly well-informed specialist observer who in reality recites carefully rehearsed talking points, in this case of the Republican National Committee.
Knowing this background, it was with eager anticipation that we read Ms. Toensing's latest pronouncement on the famous Libby/Plame case in the journal of the political class, the Washington Post. [1] The first thing we noticed was that the Post, predictably, failed to disclose that Ms. Toensing had filed an amicus curae brief on behalf of journalist Matthew Cooper and "journalist" Judith Miller in March 2005 in re the Libby Plame case. Some disinterested observer she is, but par for the course. We shall return to this filing later.
The gravamen of Ms. Toensing's bill of indictment, as she calls it, is that the defendant, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, [2] is a patsy. But who is guilty? Rather than focusing "like a laser beam" on a plausible suspect, she unlooses a blunderbuss that hits every conceivable party involved - except, by a miraculous coincidence, the Office of the Vice President, where Libby worked, and which had the strongest motive to attack Joseph C. Wilson, the husband of Valerie Plame.
Her indictees include: a. prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald himself, for picking on Libby and not prosecuting former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage (conveniently out of government and held harmless by Fitzgerald); b. the Central Intelligence Agency; c. the news media (perennial bugaboo of the Right that it is); d. Wilson (the victim of the crime made out to be the actual perpetrator); e. Ari Fleischer (also conveniently out of government, and whose testimony appeared to incriminate Libby); and finally, f. the Justice Department, for having punted the leak case to a special prosecutor for no compelling reason.
Let us deconstruct this farrago of nonsense in detail. Ms. Toensing prefaces her six scattershot bills of indictment by saying that "responsible prosecutors don't bring perjury cases on mere 'he said, she said' evidence," because the trial becomes "a mishmash of faulty memories in which witnesses can seem as guilty as the defendant."

I really wanted to transition to Rory O'Connor here; however, I can't. I don't know if the site's been hacked or what but Mike's had the same problem. If you're reading this on Wednesday, please click here to see what O'Connor had to say (hopefully the site will be up and running then) because he's been covering the trial. In the meantime, Vicky Toe-Jam is back -- clean your feet.

I really did enjoy the break from blogging. (Not that I work that hard at it to beging with but still . . .) So let me wrap up by noting that the same Iraqi puppet government that failed to seek justice for Abeer is now attempting to excuse away and dismiss what appears to be another rape. It's in the snapshot.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Tuesday, February 20, 2007. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq as the crackdown (yet again) cracks up, AP examines which US communities are most directly effected by the US death toll, an Iraqi woman states that she was raped and US media carry the puppet's denial but somehow miss the statements about what the hospital examine actually indicated, the efforts to privatize Iraq's oil continue, and Hillary Clinton demonstrates that she is not her husband, that she is not interested in your vote, and that she is not scripted.

Today on Democracy Now! the topic the New York Times runs from was addressed. Amy Goodman noted that, early on in the illegal war, Gallup polling found that 43% of Iraqis thought the illegal war was about robbing Iraq of its oil. This was the introduction for a discussion of the privatization of the Iraqi oil industry that the US administration has attempted to push through repeatedly. Raed Jarrar has obtained a copy of the latest version of the proposed law and translated it. He emphasized three points: 1) Unfair, long-term contracts that can run for "thirty-five years and cause the loss of hundreds of billions of dollars from Iraqis"; 2) Since Iraq will not be allowed to set production limits it "cannot be a part of OPEC anymore" but its production levels would instead by set by "the Federal Oil and Gas Council, that will have represantives from the foreign oil companies on the board of it, so representatives from, let's say, ExxonMobil and Shell and British Petroleum will be on the federal board of Iraq approving their own contracts"; 3) By bypassing the centeral government and giving authority to the provinces, it makes possible "splitting Iraq into three regions or even maybe three states in the very near future."

Also participating in the discussion was Antonia Juhasz who noted that "at the very basic level," this law will "turn Iraq's nationalized oil system, the model that 90% of the world's oil is governed by, take its nationalized oil system and turn it into a commercial system fully open to foreign corporate investment on terms as of yet to be decided. . . . And, as Raed said, it introduces this very unique model, which is that ultimate decision making on the contracts rests with a new council to be set up in Iraq, and sitting on that council will be representatives, executives, in fact, of oil companies, both foreign and domestic." Goodman questioned whether the claims that such measures were needed in order "to kick-start" Iraq's oil development and Juhasz responded that, before the start of the illegal war, Iraq was producing "2.5 million barrels of oil a day" and that, since the start of the war, the figure has been roughly "2.2 million barrels of oil a day". The tiny difference can be attributed to the unrest going on in the war torn country and underscores that there is no "kick-start" needed.

Goodman and Juhasz then discussed the three countries with the largest oil reserves, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Iran. Juhasz: "Oil is about profit and it's about the money that the oil interests in the United States -- which, of course, also include members of the Bush adminstration -- can get. But controlling the second and third largest oil reserves in the world also has a tremendous amount to do with imperial power and global power that the Bush administration wants. Controlling that oil denies it to other countries that want it, like China and India, countries that the Bush adminsitration now sees itself in rivalry to."

Staying on the topic of Iran,
BBC reports that the US administration has plans for air strikes on Iraq and that they "would target Iranian air bases, navel bases, missile facilities and command -and-control centres" which would be triggered by one of two things: 1) Confirmation that a nuclear weapon is being developed or 2) "[A] high-casualty attack on US forces in neighbouring Iraq could also trigger a bombing campaign if it were traced directly back to Tehran." The latter may explain the fixation on baseless, undocumented claims that the US administration continues to make about Iran and, should Bully Boy get his own Gulf of Tonkin, you can be sure little Mikey Gordon will be there to rah-rah it from the front page of the New York Times.

Turning to news of war resistance,
Agustin Aguayo faces a March 6th court-martial in Germany. As noted Monday on Democracy Now!, Aguayo's civilian court appeal has been rejected. Matt Apuzzo (AP) reported that the US Court of Appeals rejected the request "to overturn the detention" of Aguayo who now faces up to seven years in prison if convicted of all counts (desertion and missing movement) in his court-martial next month. Meanwhile, AP reports, Susana Aguayo, Agustin's mother, is asking the Mexican government to assist her son: "In an open letter to Mexican Foreign Secretary Patricia Espinosa, Susan Aguayo
asked for 'consular assistance.' 'It is urgently necessary that the Mesican Ambassador in Berlin, Jorge Castro Valle, provide a lawyer to give him legal aid . . . before it's too late,' the letter said." Agustin Aguayo holds dual citizenship in the US and Mexico.

Meanwhile, Monica Benderman, wife of Kevin Benderman, wonders "
America, Where Are You Now?" In Friday's snapshot, while noting Ehren Watada, the following appeared: "John Catalinotto (Socialist Worker) observes: 'Watada's military defense lawyer -- appointed by the Army -- Capt. Mark Kim, said that he agreed with Seitz's interpretation of military law'." That was incorrect. John Catalinotto's article appeared in Workers' World, not Socialist Worker, my apologies. Matthew Cookson (Socialist Worker -- honest) examines war resistance in Canada and focuses on Patrick Hart who self-checked out of the US military after serving in Iraq and went to Canada who states: "If your government is going to put troops in harm's way, you better have a damn good reason. We have already lost too many British and American youth, as well as the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, which our government calls 'collateral damage'. Don't be a part of it." Another war resister in Canada is Jeremy Hinzman and Edward C. Corrigan's (Media Monitors Network) explains where his case currently stands: "Jeremy Hinzman lost his 'conscientious objection' refugee case at the IRB. He then applied to the Federal Court for a judicial review of the Immigration and Refugee Board decision rejecting his claim. However, the Federal Court upheld the negative decision but the case has been referred to the Federal Court of Appeal. The key issue is whether or not the legality of the war is a relevant issue to the claim for protection. It will be interesting to see the decision of the Federal Court of Appeal. This legal question may ultimately be decided by the Supreme Court of Canada."
Aguayo, Watada, Benderman, Hart and Hinzman are a part of a movement of resistance with the military that includes others such as
Kyle Snyder, Darrell Anderson, Ivan Brobeck, Mark Wilkerson, Ricky Clousing, Aidan Delgado, Joshua Key, Camilo Meija, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Corey Glass, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, and Tim Richard. 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.

In Iraq, the news trickles out slowly but the crackdown that was praised at the end of the last business week is no longer the be-all, end-all so many had pinned their hopes on. In fact, the crackdown has yet again cracked up.


BBC reports that a man killed himself and seven others at a funeral in Baghdad while leaving 20 more people injured while two car bombings in Baghdad killed 8 people and left 31 wounded. Claudia Parson (Reuters) reports: "A bomb destroyed a truck carrying chlorine north of Baghdad on Tuesday, killing five people and spewing out toxic fumes that sickened nearly 140 others, Iraqi police said." And Reuters notes: "An oil installation guard was wounded when a roadside bomb exploded near his patrol in the town of Hawija, 70 km (40 miles) southwest of Kirkuk, police said.

On Monday, a coordinated attack took place.
CNN reports: "an attack by three suicide car bombers near a U.S.-Iraqi outpost killed two American soldiers and eight Iraqi police officers, Iraqi officials told CNN. The U.S. military confirmed the American deaths and said 17 U.S. troops were wounded in the "coordinated attack" north of Baghdad, but it did not reveal the strike's exact location. Iraqi officials said the insurgents targeted Iraqi police headquarters in Tarmiya -- about 25 miles (40 kilometers) north of Baghdad -- which also houses U.S. troops. After a series of three suicide car bombings, 50 gunmen opened fire on the outpost, the Iraqi officials said. Insurgents fired small arms and threw grenades after an initial car bombing, a U.S. military official said."

the US military announced: "On Feb. 19, an MND-B unit was conducting a combat security patrol southwest of the Iraqi capital when an improvised explosive device detonated, killing three Soldiers and wounding two others." And they announced: "A Multi-National Division - Baghdad Soldier died Feb. 18 due to a nonbattle related cause."

Staying on the topic of US service members, "
Soldiers Face Neglect, Frustration At Army's Top Medical Facility," "The Hotel Aftermath" and "Army Fixing Patients' Housing" make up a three part look at the shambles that is Walter Reed which has been allowed to decay out of the public eye -- Dana Priest and Anne Hull wrote the (now) three-part series for the Washington Post. The series comes as Kimberly Hefling (AP) reports on which communities in America are most directly effected by the US military death toll in Iraq -- almost half of the dead are "from towns . . . where fewer than 25,000 people live" and that "nearly three quarters of those killed in Iraq came from towns where the per capita income was below the national average. More than half came from towns where the percentage of people living in poverty topped the national average." Hefling also notes: "While support for the war in rural areas initially was high, there has been a sharp decline in the past three years. AP-Ipsos polls show that those in rural areas who said it was the right decision to go to war dropped from 73 percent in April 2004 to 39 percent now. In urban areas, support declined from 43 percent in 2004 to 30 percent now."

Returning to Iraq, an Iraqi woman (whose real name has not been given in press reports) has stated she was raped by Shia military forces in Baghdad on Sunday. Though promising a full investigation, the puppet of the occupation, Nouri al-Maliki, quickly backed off that promise and took to
issuing an official statement claiming that there was no evidence of rape. The BBC reports: "But an aide of Vice President Tariq Hashimi, a Sunni, said the prime minister's office had acted in haste, and doctors had in fact confirmed rape had taken place." As Al Jazeera notes, the stigma attached to rape in Iraq could allow for the rape victim to be killed ("honor killing") by her own (male) relatives (that's noted for those, like al-Maliki, who immediately want to scream that the charges were made up). Al Jazeera quotes Mahmoud al-Mashhadani, speaker of the Iraqi parliment, stating of the puppet: "By God, if you don't bring justice to this Muslim Iraqi woman, whom you should view as your sister or daughter . . . history will curse us with eternal disgrace." AFP quotes the woman's statements: "One of them hit me. I fell and my head hit the ground. One of them raped me. Then another came and raped, and a third. I was screaming, crying and begging them, but he held my mouth so no-one could hear. Someone came and said to them, 'Are you done? Can we come and take our turn?' But one of them said, 'No, there's an American patrol coming'." AFP also notes that when US troops did discover the woman, they transferred her to a hospital in the Green Zone and quotes Omar Jaburi ("Vice President Tareq al Hashemi's adviser on human rights") stating: "The initial hospital report confirmed what she has said. A panel of medical experts is reviewing the evidence, we expect them to report tonight."

In other rape news,
CBS and AP report: "A soldier from Fort Campbell's 101st Airborne was expected to plead guilty Tuesday to rape and murder charges in the death of a 14-year-old Iraqi girl and her family last year. Sergeant Paul Cortez of Barstow, California reached a plea agreement with prosecutors. The plea means he will no longer face the death penalty." That "14-year-old Iraqi girl" had a name: Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi. And she wasn't just raped, she was gang raped. Cortez follows James P. Barker's lead in admitting to his role in it (and both have also fingered Steven D. Green as participating in the gang rape and as being the one who then killed Abeer -- Green has denied charges and faces a trial in a civilian court).

Meanwhile, famine may be the new danger to Iraq.
Dahr Jamail and Ali al-Fadhily (IPS) examine the food situation in Iraq and find many problems including the shut-out on local growers, the Bremer laws that allow foreign businesses to make a 'killing' while punishing local producers, John Howard's Australia businesses which 'enhanced' the wheat they sold to Iraq with steel wire, and much more. Jamail and al-Fadhily observe: "The majority of Iraqis still remain dependent on the monthly food ration, a programme set up during the economic sanctions period in the 1990s after the first Gulf war. But a growing number of Iraqis no longer receive their monthly ration due to corruption or sectarian favouritism in the distribution channel." It bears noting that Paul Bremer tried to do away with the ration program but was unable to and that, for almost a year, the malnutrition issue has been ignored. In May of last year, UNICEF found malnutrition to be at "alarming levels" in Iraq noting: "Children are... major victims of food insecurity,"

In US political news, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton has underscored that, although politically active for many years, she has held public office for far too few. As
Amy Goodman noted on Monday's Democracy Now!, Clinton, speaking in New Hampshire, not only continued to refuse to term her vote supporting the invasion of Iraq "a mistake," she went further by stating: "If the most important thing to any of you is choosing someone who did not cast that vote or has said his [or her] vote was a mistake, then there are others to choose from." Indeed there are and it takes an arrogance born of campaign stupidity to make such a public declaration. We'll also note that "[or her]" was added here to be inclusive -- something that Hillary Clinton once could have take care of all on her own. But who would have ever guessed she'd waste the opening weeks of her campaign refusing to say something as simple as "I made a mistake"? Probably the same people who would have guessed that a candidate who cannot count on peeling off Republican voters, who may or may not have a hard time with swing voters, would thumb her nose at the Democratic base with one of the most idiotic statements made on the campaign trail. When you are campaigning for a national office, the last thing you need to do is to tell voters "there are others to choose from." Despite rumors to the contrary, Clinton's not scripted but New Hampshire may demonstrate that she needs to be. In one decade, we've gone from Bill Clinton's "I feel your pain" to what passes for "Piss off" from Hillary Clinton. (Which may remind many of the health care debacle which went from universal to some managed care option when, as Robin Toner pointed out, Clinton got cozy in the backrooms.)

Sharon Murphy (The La Crosse Tribune) draws a line between the bravery of Watada and the cowardice of Congress: "Ehren Watada doesn't have the power and clout of the freshest freshman senator or representative. Yet he had the courage to stand up and speak the truth. He knew he was up against the power of the military and faced rejection, prison and professional disgrace. But he stood up. Neither Senate nor House is willing to stand, as Watada did, and speak the truth." For those who missed it, the Senate was unable, this weekend, to pass even a toothless, non-binding, symbolic measure on Iraq.

ehren watada
amy goodman
democracy now
antonia juhaszraed jarraragustin aguayo
kimberly wilderdana priest
jeremy hinzman
sharon murphy
dahr jamailali al-fadhily