Friday, April 18, 2008


Starting with war resistance.  Aidan Delgado explains, in his book  The Sutras Of Abu Ghraib: Notes From A Conscientious Objector In Iraq, the mind-set in Iraq when Abu Ghraib had to be discussed:
There's no doubt now that everything we've heard about is true, and it must be even worse than we thought, for the commander himself to get on our backs about it. All a family? I laugh. We're only a family when the captain wants us to do his bidding or conceal some wrongdoing. The Army has tried that rhetoric before, talking about family and Army pride and everything else to try to get you to buy into what they do. When the Army talks about "handling something internally," it's only because they've done something so obviously wrong, they can't allow the rest of the country to see it. This doesn't surprise me. After all, if Americans back home saw Iraqi prisoners shot dead for throwing stones, saw the wretched conditions inside Abu, or saw the way the MPs dealt with the prisoners, what would they think of our glorious and righteous invasion? The truth about Abu Ghraib has to be concealed, has to be "kept in the family," because if the average citizen saw what we're doing to the people here, they would know in their guts that it's un-American.
Family is the hide-behind, the thing that is supposed to stop all discussions. War resisters have to stand up to a lot to stand up.  Is Robert Przyblski a war resister?  Who knows?  What is known is that he went missing, turned himself in and now awaits . . . what? [See here and here and here and here)]  John Vandiver (Stars & Stripes) reports that "months after being charged, his case remains in legal limbo.  No Article 32 has been held.  Futhermore, Army officials in Europe would not say whether the captain is still in Baumholder or has taken residence someplace else."
In Canada, US war resisters are waiting to find out whether they will be granted safe harbor. The Canadian Parliament will debate a measure this month on that issue. You can make your voice heard. 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.         

There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Matt Mishler, Josh Randall, Robby Keller, Justiniano Rodrigues, Chuck Wiley, James Stepp, Rodney Watson, Michael Espinal, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb, Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Peter Brown, Bethany "Skylar" James, Zamesha Dominique, Chrisopther Scott Magaoay, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Jose Vasquez, Eli Israel, Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Clara Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, Blake LeMoine, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Logan Laituri, Jason Marek, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Wilfredo Torres, Michael Sudbury, Ghanim Khalil, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, at least fifty US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.

Information on war resistance within the military can be found at The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline [(877) 447-4487], Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters. In addition, VETWOW is an organization that assists those suffering from MST (Military Sexual Trauma).
Last month Iraq Veterans Against the War's Winter Soldier took place and KPFA has a live program coming up April 22nd:

Live On Air and Online at!           
April 22 from 10am-1pm      
Join us on April 22nd for this very important follow up to Pacifica's groundbreaking Winter Soldier live coverage. We will be following the San Francisco trial involving wounded vets and the Department of Veterans Affairs. In this first class action lawsuit U.S. Veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder sue the VA, alleging a system wide breakdown in the way the Government treats those soldiers.
During this special broadcast we will be bringing our listeners live updates from the San Francisco federal courthouse, we'll speak with wounded Veterans attorney Gordon Erspamer, (taking this case pro bono because his father was permanently disabled in World War II and never received proper health care) and speak with Veterans advocates including Veterans for Common Sense, and Vets for America.
Read more about the broadcast here.

That announcement will appear in the snapshots until the broadcast. If you missed Winter Soldier you can stream online at Iraq Veterans Against the War, at War Comes Home, at KPFK, at the Pacifica Radio homepage and at KPFA, here for Friday, here for Saturday, here for Sunday. Aimee Allison (co-host of the station's The Morning Show and co-author with David Solnit of Army Of None) and Aaron Glantz were the anchors for Pacifica's live coverage.
Yesterday, the House Veterans Affairs Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity reviewed proposed bills on veternas healthcare with US House Rep Stephanie Herseth chairing the committee (due to the ranking member being on the House floor) and noting that they were discussing "thirteen bills before us that seek to: protect our nation's veterans from possible foreclosure and financial burdens incurred while serving one's country; update VA housing construction guidelines; expand education programs while meeting the current retention needs of the Armed Forces; strengthen employment and reemployment rights for returning service members and veterans; and minimize recidivism among incarcerated veterans."  Along with US House Rep John Boozman, Herseth has introduced  (April 2nd) the Veterans Education Improvement Act. US House Rep John Yarmuth addressed the Second Chance for America's Veterans Act (which was signed into legislation by the White House on April 9th) that seeks to assist IVTP's (Incarcerated Veterans Transitional Program). US House Rep Robin Hayes brought up the reality that National Guard members are returning to the US to find out that their deployment did, in fact, effect their employment.  We'll zoom in on the issue of employment.
First, on the issue of employment itself.  US House Rep Sternes explained HR 3646, the Veterans Effective Training Job Opportunities and Benefits Act of 2007 ("or the Vets job act"):
I think this bill is an important step in helping our veterans gain gainful employment when retiring from the service.  When warriors return home from combat, they often face an uphill battle.  For many service members, the transition from active duty to veteran status and returning to a full, meaningful civilian life is daunting frought with many challenging obstacles and buraucratic barriers.  Many times these brave service men and women require job training for entirely new careers. . . .   My legislation would provide better information to veterans on their local job market needs.  The VET JOBS Act directs the Secretary of Veterans Affairs and the Secretary of Labor to conduct a joint study on the greatest employment needs in various job markets around the country and post the results on the VA website. These results would then be updated annually to reflect the current and possibly changing needs in the local job market.  With this tool, veterans could plug in their zip code and see a list of the occupations that are most in demand within their commuting area, and subsequently use their federal job training most effectively.  The Department of Labor already has the infrastructure in place for this kind of research, so this is a practical, low cost solution.  In fact, the Congressional Budget Office has unofficially scored this proposal as having "insignificant" costs. Insignificant costs for immeasurable benefit to our veterans.
Rep Hayes' The National Guard Employment Protection Act of 2007 addresses the issue of jobs already held being kept while serving. Hayes' state (North Carolina) has a National Guard call up rate of 97 percent.  US House Rep Artur Davis noted Congress' actions in 1994 ensuring that jobs would be intact when those serving in the Guard returned home but USERRA (Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act) is being ignored.  Davis referenced Jill Carroll's "While Reservsts Serve, Their Jobs Don't Always Wait" (Chistian Science Monitor) which examined this crisis.  Steve Duarte was among the veterans Carroll reported on.  Duarte was employed at a company for nearly 20 years but upon returning from serving in Iraq, his employers "told his job was ending in a week."  He explained to Carroll, "There was that initial shock -- and then the shock of 'What am I going to do?'   As Davis explained, "When his efforts with the Departments of Labor and Defense led nowhere, Duarte hired a private attorney and spent $12,000 of his own money for fees.  Several years later, he won his lawsuit and was awarded almost $400,000.  Duarte is not an isolated case."  Davis listed statistics --
*10,061 formal complaints were filed with the Department of Labor from October 1, 1996 through June 30, 2005.
* For fiscal years 2004-2005, the Office of Employment Support for the Guard and Reserve received approximately 10,000 complaints. 
Davis noted how a move towards employers use of arbitration has allowed the existing laws protecting members of the Guard to be weakened.  To no surprise, the administration sees that differently.  Thomas L. Bush is the Acting Deputy Assistant Secreteary of Defense for Reserve Affairs at DoD.  Last month he was telling the press that increasing education benefits for service members will increase "the risk that many who enter for the benefits will leave as soon as they can use them."  Yesterday he repeated his assertion that DoD "does not believe that the basic structure of the Montgomery GI Bill is broken."  On the issue of securing the jobs and, let's be honest, enforcing the law, Thomas L. Bush made it clear that the DoD doesn't give a damn what happens when the Dept is done with reserves.  "We are concerned," he explained, "about the negative message its enactment may send to the nation's employers."  That pretty much sums up the White House's sole concern.  But this really should get attention because the White House wants to maintain that they and only they care about the US service members.
[. . .]
Turning to the US presidential race in the Democratic Party.  Barack Obama lost last night's debate. [For community coverage of the debate see  Elaine, Kat, Ruth, Marcia, Mike, Rebecca and Wally & Cedric (joint-post on the last two).]  What to do when you lose big in front of the country (in the most watched debate)?  Wah-wah-wah.  Cry like a big baby.  And have your cult -- the same cult text-messaged to hit message boards last night during the debate -- do things like create videos on the death of George Stephanopoulos.  George and Charlie Gibson hosted and the Cult of Saint Bambi proves just how thuggish they are.  Thuggish and childish and it's really getting old.  To the nation, it's really getting old.  They had to tone down their attacks on Hillary Clinton -- Common Dreams, CounterPunch, The Nation, The Progressive, their 'traffic' was down.  They had to pull it just a little back.  And they've been sitting on all the HATE inside them this whole time so now they're going to go after George.  George isn't a journalist in any trained sense and ABC knew that when they hired him.  He also isn't 'in the bag' for Hillary Clinton.  He asked questions and they were questions about issues people were raising.  Hillary supporters are not circulating Death of George videos around the web today.  She was asked about Bosnia.  But heaven forbid Saint Bambi should be asked about Jeremiah Wright, heaven forbid he should be asked about Bill Ayers.  It's time to cry, and scream, and threaten.  The mob mentality of the Cult of Saint Bambi. 
Marc Cooper showed up at one of The Socialite's Cat Chow blogs last night to smear Hillary because a summer job after college found her working for someone who might be a Communist.  Today, Bill Ayers' brother embarrasses him (and his brother) at one of The Socialite's Cat Chow blogs by screaming that asking Obama about Bill Ayers is like McCarthyism!  No, it's not.  What Marc Cooper did was like McCarthyism.  Bill Ayers and Obama are friends.  Bernardine Dorhn -- top of the FBI Most Wanted List at one point and proud of that fact -- and Ayers hosted a fundraiser for him.  Mark Rudd (Weather Underground alumni) has publicly endorsed Barack.  Whether you think the Weather Underground was evil or not (I don't), they did break the law, they were wanted by the FBI.  They were part of an armed revolution struggle.  Richard Nixon was breaking every law in sight and the Weather Underground was in response to that.  Their actions were criminal.  They were in response to a criminal administration.  But Barack could get honest about that and many other things.  Instead he went, last night, with calling Bill Ayers' actions "detestable."  (What a prissy word.)  Well, if that's how he feels, why is he hanging with the man?  It goes to Jeremiah Wright.  "Disowned" him Bambi indicated in the debate until George caught that and Bambi clarified he only disowned Wright's words (the damning of America from the front of a church in a sermon). 
Don't hide things.  If you want to keep them hidden, don't run for office.  If you do and some things (these are not the big things) come out, don't blame the press.    But Saint Bambi was questioned and the Cult will not have it.  So they lash out at George and circulate "Death" videos.  They really are thugs.  (I'm not referring to Obama supporters.  I'm referring to the ones stirring this up and that's never been a bottom-up thing.  This is stirred from the top.)  They are as Cultish as were the followers of George W. Bush after 9-11.  And don't we all know how that worked out for the country?  George Stephanopoulos tells Robin Abcarian (Los Angeles Times), "The questions we asked were tough and fair and appropriate and relevant and what you would expect to be asked in a presidential debate at this point.  The questions we asked . . are being debated around the political world every day."  They did, for example, ask Barack about the man who is suing him and claiming the two of them did drugs and had sex.  This was not The National Enquirer.  These were valid questions. 
Many Americans consider Ayers and Dohrn terrorists (some consider them heroes for their past actions, some grasp those were very complex times) and it certainly is a question that should be on the table.  As for Wright, Obama chose to bore the nation with a really bad speech.  So when he controls what is and isn't said, that's okay?  He spoke to the nation about Wright.  Now it's off limits?  That's nonsense.   The thugs are sending out the groupies to do their bidding.  Do your best.  The media circles wagons.  You're only harming your own candidate and showing what a trashy campaign relies underneath Bambi's "HOPE" and "CHANGE" talk.  You're showing the whole country just how trashy, how thuggish and how undemocratic you are.  The "death video" isn't funny, it's not cute and George doesn't deserve it.  Make fun of him all you want, question his judgement, but you better grasp that you crossed a line.  I know George and I don't think it's funny nor do I believe it was intended to be funny.  It is revealing about what's really behind Barack Mania. 
Hillary won the debate.  She won it because she is the better candidate.  Things were tossed at her as well.  She handled it.  Bosnia was brought up, she said she apologized for the story she had told.  She called it something embarrassing.  She owned her mistake.  It doesn't need to be brought up again, because she dealt with it.  That's what a real candidate does.  She had her policy down, she knew her facts, she had the audience laughing.  Barack doesn't inspire that because he doesn't come off human.  He's wooden.  He's wooden . . . and . . . he . . . creates . . . pauses . . . where none should . . . be.  He's responsible for his bad performance.  He could have done Hillary and taken control of the moment.  He didn't.  He bombed.  Those questions weren't new.  Not Bosnia to Hillary, not Wright to Barack.  An experienced candidate knew what to do.  That Barack didn't, that all these months later he's still not experienced go to his own faults and his own immaturity.  His groupies can't threaten and stomp their feet but he lost.  He lost because he was wooden, he lost because he said "uh" over and over, he lost because it was a conversational style and Barack doesn't want to talk, he wants to lecture.
...Sen. Hillary Clinton, her public service, political experience and tenacity tell us not only "Yes we can" but also "How we can." As such, we endorse Clinton for the Democratic Party's nomination for president.
...[C]hoosing the president of the United States is too important a decision to make based on hope alone. After finishing his term in the Senate and better showing us what he can do for the American people, Obama could one day be a remarkable president.
Clinton, on the other hand, is ready to lead this nation now. A successful champion for change, her experience in the Senate and as first lady gives her a better understanding of how Washington works. She has the ability to turn policy into reality. And her mastery of causes central to the Democratic Party's platform makes her better suited to challenge presumptive Republican nominee John McCain.
...[I]n New York, her senatorial campaigns united a surprisingly wide coalition of supporters across political and socioeconomic boundaries. She can do the same this November.
Ultimately, we are confident in Clinton's ability to implement her agenda. It's this quality that has brought leaders like Mayor Michael Nutter and Governor Ed Rendell to her side. And it's this quality that convinces us to support her as well.

Be a better friend, newshound, and know-it-all with Yahoo! Mobile. Try it now.